Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Mel Gibson finally learned how to hide his bigotry and misogynistic tendencies behind a good script from the Tarantino School of How to Be a Successful Racist. That said, Hacksaw Ridge was a masterfully crafted movie with all-around good acting, great dialogues, gritty visuals, and gorgeous cinematography.

Verdict: Swearing off Tarantino-esque movies, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Andrew Garfield in a drama again.
Cringe-o-Meter: 50/50. Political correctness out the window. Good thing the superb acting makes up for the racially motivated script.


Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)

Gyun-woo has done it again! Cha Tae-hyun has a knack for playing kind, decent everyman with strong moral values. His flawless comedic timing is balanced exquisitely with his dramatic chops. This movie is not only visually gorgeous and well-acted, the narrative is also spectacularly engaging. The aerial fights scenes alone are better than the Matrix movies. Everything in this film works: the top-notch visual effects, the wonderful script, the  balanced pacing, the exceptional acting, and much more. Prepare to cry a lot because the emotional scenes will punch you in the gut harder than a cheating ex, and you’ll be picking your jaw off the floor from the breathtaking special effects.

Verdict: South Korean cinema at its finest.
Cringe-o-Meter: Zero. Whether you are a K-Drama addict, an anime enthusiasts, hard-core fanboy/fangirl, or even your average family, you will find something to enjoy in this movie.


Annihilation (2018)

A visually stunning but pretentious film that is obviously pandering to so-called intellectuals (film critics) and feminists. The largely female cast not only panders to the feminist movement, but also gives me Ghostbusters (2016) flashbacks. While people praise this movie for the it’s take on social commentary and the thought-provoking dialogue, the narrative is hardly original as it as takes a page from Games of Thrones by killing off  a kind, relatable character early on. It’s colorful palette and gorgeous  landscapes (those glass trees are exquisite) create a jarring contrast to the eerie tone. While I had a hard time believing Natalie Portman’s diminutive size playing a military role (she’s also a biologist), I was pleasantly surprise she that pulled it off.

However, there is one angle I analyzed to death. I’ve associated the main characters to the five stages of grief: 1) denial: Oscar Isaac’s character chose to go on a suicide mission instead of facing the situation that his wife is having an affair; 2) anger: one character suddenly becomes an angry, murdering psychopath for no apparent reason; 3) bargaining: Natalie’s character volunteers to go inside the Shimmer to find out what happened to her husband and find a cure for his illness so she can apologize to him for having an affair; 4) depression: tired of struggling with her addiction, Tessa Thompson’s character’s surrenders and becomes just another human topiary in the grassy meadow. 5) acceptance: the psychologist accepts the futility of her terminal disease and mankind’s struggles and succumbed to the “annihilation” and gets absorbed by aliens.

Verdict: Reminds me of Black Swan, and I am one of the few who didn’t like that movie.
Cringe-o-Meter: High. While it is not a bikini-clad female superhero, it still manages to shove feminism down our throats.