APRIL 9 ― Now that we’re transitioning into the endemic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the movie geek in me is just thrilled to see more and more exciting new movies filling up local cinema screens as cinemas (and their all-important patrons) begin to resume normal life, even if things are still nowhere near the pre-pandemic norm.
After two years of having to wait to have maybe even one interesting new movie open in local cinemas every two to three weeks, the past few weeks have started to feel like those spoilt-for-choice days of yore when it comes to new films.
I’ve even begun to find it difficult to catch up with everything that I want to see in the cinema.
I haven’t managed to see the much-maligned Morbius which opened last week, and the latest big title opening this week, The Lost City.
One of the three titles I’m writing about here was on such limited release that it’s no longer in local cinemas now but it’s a notable enough film that I think it should still be singled out for attention for people who’ve missed it to maybe catch it on home video or streaming later on.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Only now entering wide release in the USA, we’re one of the lucky ones to have seen this latest A24 film on the big screen so early, probably thanks to the fact that it’s headlined by one of our own, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, giving probably the best performance of her entire career.
A dazzling, dizzying film that’s pretty hard to describe, as it involves the multiverse concept (in short, there are many versions of us in different universes), this is a love letter to genre cinema by the lunatic filmmaking duo calling themselves Daniels (made up of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, whose debut film was the already gonzo Swiss Army Man) that’s nigh on impossible to resist.
It may start off normal, with its focus on Evelyn (Yeoh), a laundromat owner, and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan aka Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data from The Goonies!), who are facing an Internal Revenue Service audit on the eve of a Chinese New Year party, with all the problems and drama that can potentially arise out of it, but it takes a breathtaking turn for the weird, wacky and the fantastical when the multiverse concept kicks in.
But here’s the thing ― despite all the brilliant martial arts action and the mind-bending multiverse hi-jinks ― at heart it’s still very much a touching film about family bonds, specifically of the Asian kind, and it’s that earnest, big heart that makes the film such a winner.
A must-see, especially on the big screen, prepare yourself for what’s surely one of the cinematic highlights of 2022.
Since this is Michael Bay going “smaller”, at least in comparison to the blockbuster extravaganzas of the Transformers films, with a story about a couple of bank robbers hijacking a paramedic ambulance while trying to escape, those headaches you were hoping to avoid, thanks to his trademark fast cuts, shaky cams and crazy camera moves are all still there.
It works when the ambulance chase starts, giving the audience the typical Michael Bay bombastic excitement of explosions and mayhem, but that whole schtick was just incredibly distracting (and off-putting) during the movie’s first act, when it was trying to establish the main characters and the main story arcs.
I still enjoyed it, since I’ll always enjoy big, dumb, bombastic car chases and senseless vehicular mayhem, but this won’t make new fans for Bay, that’s for sure.
If you get a headache watching his Transformers films, fear not, you’ll get them here too.
But for Bay fans, this is a return to the “smaller” Bay films like Pain And Gain and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi that will probably satisfy you.
The Ambush (Al Kameen)
A huge box-office hit at the United Arab Emirates in 2021, with the fifth highest opening weekend there, behind only Fast 9, Venom 2, No Time To Die and Godzilla vs Kong, The Ambush (aka Al Kameen) is also now the highest grossing Emirati and Arabic language film ever in the UAE.
Helmed by Taken director Pierre Morel, the film is sort of an Emirati version of our very own local hit Paskal, which means it’s a film made to showcase the full might of the Emirati army.
It’s based on a real incident in Yemen back in 2018, in which three soldiers from the UAE military, sent to Yemen for an aid mission, were ambushed during a final routine patrol right before they were scheduled to return home.
With solid acting all around, the film’s tight focus ― set strictly during the day of the ambush (except for when it’s time to bring the fallen home) ― results in a suspenseful military action film that’s as polished as any Hollywood product out there.
If you like movies like Black Hawk Down, The Kingdom and Hacksaw Ridge, this one might just hit the right notes for you.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.