Men In White 鬼啊! 鬼啊!


Director: Kelvin Tong

Starring: Shaun Chen, Ling Lee, Xavier Teo, Ben Yeung, Alice Lim, David Aw, Benjamin Heng
RunTime: 88 mins
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG

Exactly what was Kelvin Tong thinking when he wrote and directed Men In White.

A 'horror-dy' from one of Singapore’s film director (whose last horror movie had critical acclaim and commercial success), it revolves around five Singaporean ghosts very clueless about their lives (or deaths). The audience is equally clueless as well.

The cast which includes the old Channel U alumnus Shaun Chen, Ben Yeung, Xavier Teo, Benjamin Heng, Singapore Universe’s contestant Ling Lee, Singapore Dreaming’s Alice Lim, and newcomer David Aw, probably did not know what they were in for.

They play a group of ghosts comprising a badminton player, ah lian, housewife, hiphoppers and a frequent kidnapper, constantly grouching about their boring after-lives and tasteless food of oranges and pork bellies. They break out in random dialogues of Singlish, Malaysian-accented Mandarin, American-accented English, Cantonese, Hokkien, and whatsoever song and dance sequences– What diversity Singapore has to offer. But is there a point in any of these?

The best part of the movie is the first 5 minutes, where 933DJ Jiahui showed apt comic timing playing a frightened juvenile. It kind of reminds people of the Scary movie series, though not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. After that, the nonsensical storyline and inability to draw laughs just frustrates. 4D accident jokes, effeminate guy stereotypes and toilet talk - humour or clichés?

Not everybody can do comedies. Sometimes, it should come naturally or it will look like you are trying to hard. A good comedy is class, not crass.

This production would disappoint ardent local movie supporters. But as my friend says, "We need movies like this to allow us to appreciate the other good movies."

Men In White – Barely scary, very dreary



Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Starring: Yusuke Santamaria, Manami Konishi, Tortoise Matsumoto, Kyoka Suzuki, Takeshi Masu, Jin Katagiri
RunTime: 135 mins
Genre: Comedy (Japanese)
Rating: PG

"Itadakimasu!" I feel like I have eaten two big bowls of Udon.

The first bowl is hot in hot broth – full of comic variety, combination of several tastes which makes it rich and enjoyable. The ‘maker’ is a Japanese comic actor who returns home to his village after he fails to make it big in the Big Apple. He rediscovers his love for udon, and makes the whole world fall in love with this unappreciated noodle dish with his ingenious food hunt magazine. Have a good laugh and a hearty meal.

After more than an hour on the last, you will be served another bowl. This time, it is cold on hot broth. You have to slowly appreciate the Japanese family flavour, slowly crafted to its perfection. It is prepared by both the cold traditional father and the fun loving prodigal son. With simmer heat and the usual father-son tension, it reminds many of their own family culture.

Like the making of Japanese food, it takes its time to indulge in the Japanese culture, which bridges family ties and heal souls. This bowl feels warm in the tummy, and one would appreciate the dedication of the chief chef to its final product. Keep it mind that he has already whipped up dishes such as the popular Bayside Showdown and Space Travelers.

The second bowl would have been just enough to make me feel satisfied. As you struggle to finish it, you realise it may be one bowl too much. I can't finish my udon. *Burp*

Udon – Half of it should be enough

28 Weeks Later


Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack
RunTime: 99 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: M18

In this man-eat-man world, it can be really scary when man really eats other men.

Not for the faint-hearted, this sequel to 28 Days Later exhibits violent, blood and gore. In the future land of London, the ‘zombie’ virus spreads like an epidemic. Father tears the face off mummy dearest, and children infected cannot wait to lay their teeth on human flesh.

The audience who craves for adrenalin pumping action and fast MTV sequences would enjoy this intense piece. This movie is quite a world on its own, when a catastrophic disaster piece meets gory violence. It feels like watching a graphic novel come alive. Beware of the shaky camera though, which may cause headaches other than the blood splatters. Avoid the front row.

With strong cinematic techniques, you will not see London in the same light again. Watch out for the breath taking sequences of lonely skyscrapers, empty lanes and the London eye in monochromic despair.

Some may see it as an empty piece, infected with a lot of movement, but lacking in spirit and soul. After all, the whole city and the human race is one the verge of destruction.

28 Weeks Later - Exciting for most, excruciating for others. Watch out for 28 months later.

Bridge To Terabithia


If Pan's Labyrinth is fairytale on the dark side, then Bridge to Terabithia is the opposite. Comparing it to The Chronicles of Narnia would be quite unfair too, though it was pitched that way to get publicity.

While I would forsee most with skeptic minds and pampered by Hollywood effects to hate this 'goody-goody' movie, isn't this what we have all lost? A simple and uncomplicated childhood.

The movie would be completely lost on many. It is not a children's movie, but one dealing with themes of love, family, growing up, loss, self worth and religion (Lead Jess doesn't know whether to believe in God.)

I love movies with many quotable quotes. Especially when the unusually strong teacher Mrs Myer breaks down in front of her student "Everybody tells me to cry and then to move on after he left. They don't understand. I can't move on. He is already in my heart."

In this real world, we have lost sight of Terabithia, when fathers force sons to grow up, and reality makes you lose your dreams.

But perhaps Terabithia is somewhere buried in your heart.

Bridge to Terabithia - A bridge to feel your lost childhood

Spiderman 3


Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace
RunTime: 156 mins

Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: PG (Action Violence)

Spiderman has become a very busy man.

He has 3 villains to fight (best friend Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom), 3 women to deal with (girlfriend Mary Jane, new babe Gwen Stacy and Aunt May) and 3 of himself (Peter Parker, Red Spidey and Black Spidey). No wonder the movie is that long.

The main hype of Spiderman 3 is about him in the black suit, representing the internal struggle between the good and bad. However, it became just a small part of the story in other big messes Spiderman is embroiled in. As to how he really went to the dark side, we never really know.

Tobey Maguire seems rather clumsy (and fat!) in eyeliner and combed-down fringe, absolutely uncomfortable in playing a baddie role. Kristen Dunst reinforced the fact that she could only do one thing well – scream (and not sing) while hanging from the top. Their good friend James Franco has matured adequately, though only half good-looking. A pity.

This third, and possibly last instalment packs lots of special effects and visual entertainment. However, it lacks the big heart that the first two instalments had.

Too many villains do not make a good Spidey movie.

Spiderman 3 – Lots of action with less heart

200 Pounds Beauty


Director: Kim Yong-hwa
Starring: Joo Jin-mo, Kim A-joong
RunTime: 116 mins
Genre: Romantic Comedy (Korean)
Rating: PG (Some sexual references)

(Thank you so much Patrick for the review.)

At first glance, 200 Pounds Beauty seems to be another typical movie that exemplifies the adage that “physical beauty rules”. And when the movie chooses the start of a concert to be the opening scene, it’s hard to think otherwise.

With well-constructed dance choreography, wanton use of pyrotechnics, alluring stage costumes, a catchy track ( "Miss you much") and a jubilant crowd, the movie indulges the audience with a sense of psychedelic delight. And with one perfect execution, it transports them from their ordinary routine lives into the realm of demi-gods and divas, of self-indulgence and exuberance. In this world there is no room for imperfections and the unperfected. Flawlessness rules.

If someone were to move twenty metres to the back of the stage, there will be a plump woman in casual wear, standing on a temporarily-constructed stage with three monitors showing the lead female singer performing at that concert, the directions from the male concert coordinator and the crowd’s response. Surrounded by silence, the plump woman will then sing into a microphone, lip-syncing for the svelte performing singer on stage. This is another world altogether, an attention-deficit world where even shadows fear to tread. A world without echoes.

And with such a metaphor illustrating the fact that true beauty emanates from within (albeit often being unacknowledged), it can be said that this is how 200 Pounds Beauty won over the movie audience too.

The concert is a beautiful metaphor for the material world, where beauty rules and imperfection often lies in the shadows. And it is not without good reasons that this film beat My Sassy Girl at the movie box office in Korea. Metaphors aside, the film also explores the benefits and drawbacks of cosmetic surgery (where being a comedy, it often takes a light-hearted approach to its narrative).

It will also be an injustice if credit is not given to the new actress Kim Ah-Joong, who is reported to have used her own voice for the songs in the movie. Especially noteworthy is the track Maria, which became very popular in Korea after this film’s release.

It is encouraging to see a movie that goes against the norms of society, providing an alternative voice of the universal truth that modern society seems to denounce: that physical beauty runs deep, but inner beauty runs deeper.

200 Pounds Beauty - More Than Just Skin Deep

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