Three big summer movies in Malaysian cinemas right now

JULY 13 -- With the summer movie season in full swing now that we’re already in the middle of July, the big movies have been coming in thick and fast.

One downside to this is that the smaller and more niche movies have more or less disappeared from local movie screens, most likely a result of distributors not wanting to compete with the big titles and therefore just letting them have all the screen time they want for the next few weeks.

The only piece of counter-programming on these shores was the arrival of The Best of Enemies at selected Malaysian movie screens, a Green Book-esque piece of socially conscious Oscar bait on racial politics in the US, which arrived and left, I believe, without much fanfare.

You won’t be able to see it in local cinemas after reading this because the screenings have just finished, so I guess you’ll just have to wait for the home video release later.

Outside of the Child’s Play reboot (reasonably good fun) and Men in Black: International (blandly unnecessary), three other big movies are still playing, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Already a huge box-office success, earning US$211 million (RM868 million) as of Wednesday and projected to pass US$700 million globally around the same time as well, the latest Spider-Man film really has no business being this good.

But it is a wonderful watch, not quite clearing the giddy heights of Homecoming but damn close.

Following up directly after Avengers: Endgame is no easy feat, but Far From Home provides the perfect tonic after the traumatic events of that movie, again following in the footsteps of Homecoming by making a movie of another genre, only with a lead character that’s coincidentally a superhero.

If Homecoming was a coming of age high school flick, Far from Home uses the formula of the Euro trip comedy, with Peter Parker and his friends on a school trip across Europe.

Parker’s dilemma here is still kind of the same as in all the other Spidey movies — with great power comes great responsibility.

But the responsibility here comes in the form of coming to grips with the fact that Tony Stark has more or less entrusted him with the keys to the Stark kingdom, while he’s still very much a teenager with more or less only a girl, MJ, on his mind.

There’s a lot to discuss here, but not without spoiling things, especially with the two post-credits scenes and a delightfully unexpected romance involving one of the major characters, so let’s just leave it at this — it’s money fully well spent.

Yesterday

The trailer for this one went viral a few months back as it boasts a remarkably catchy hook — what if, one day, you wake up, and you’re the only one in the world who knows of and remembers The Beatles?

That’s exactly what happened to Jack (a breakout role for Himesh Patel, whatever you may think of the film), a crushingly unsuccessful singer songwriter who, after being hit by a bus at the same time a global blackout occurred for about 12 seconds, wakes up finding that no one else seems to know of the existence of The Beatles, not even Google.

This hook was probably inspired by the French film Jean-Philippe, in which after a bump on the head, a superfan woke up to a world where legendary French rocker Johnny Hallyday never recorded a single song, because he was never discovered, and only that one superfan remembers him, and he then makes it his mission to turn Jean-Philippe (Hallyday’s real name) into the superstar Johnny Hallyday.

As a Beatles fan, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing these Beatles classics reimagined for the now generation, and just imagining a world without The Beatles is fun enough, let alone a movie that does that.

But however clever and funny Richard Curtis’ script may be (aided by Danny Boyle’s energetically appealing direction), the film just messes up its resolution so much that it almost cancels out the appeal of its first two-thirds. A true missed opportunity.

Annabelle Comes Home

Even though Annabelle Comes Home came out first, I made it a priority to watch Yesterday first, because what Beatles fan wouldn’t, right?

The first half of Annabelle Comes Home, directed by first time director Gary Dauberman (probably given the gig because he wrote the previous two Annabelle movies, the It remake and The Nun) almost made me regret my decision.

That first half, which sets up the whole story, in which the Warrens leave their 10-year-old daughter Judy in the care of babysitter Mary Ellen for the night, which becomes complicated when Mary Ellen’s overly curious best friend Daniela decides to join in the fun and  touches everything in the Warrens’ artefacts room, was simply excellent.

Dauberman expertly stages these scenes like an experienced horror pro, with maximum efficiency and impact.

It’s when Daniela finally unlocks the case that holds Annabelle that the film totally loses its way, as it suddenly became a sort of funhouse horror movie, as almost every single ghost/beast in the Warrens’ artefacts room get a chance at tormenting the kids, which quickly became boring because of a very apparent lack of focus.

It just becomes a series of jump scares involving entities that the viewers are just not interested in, and then it’s over. Don’t waste your money on this.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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