Movie review: Child's Play
The sight of a red-haired doll in a colourful striped jumper and blue dungarees will surely send shivers down the spine of those who grew up in the 90s.
It is no surprise then that the killer doll Chucky is the latest in a string of horror icons that have been given a modern twist.
To its credit, this reboot of Child's Play, which bears the same name as the franchise that started in 1988, is a breath of fresh air compared with other "contemporary reimaginings".
The film takes a huge risk by trading in the supernatural for science fiction.
So instead of a doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer, this version of Chucky is a high-tech children's toy gone rogue, though it retains that signature creepy look and comes with a sinister sing-along in the box.
Made by the fictional Kaslan Corporation, Chucky is one of many "Buddi" dolls that can control other devices and get smarter by learning from its surroundings, but is turned malicious by a disgruntled factory worker.
Jaded single mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) gives her hearing-impaired son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) the defective doll as an early birthday present and Chucky turns psychotic, going on a killing spree.
Paying homage to its B-movie slasher roots, Child's Play finds inventive ways to up the gore, at the same time skewering the current culture of consumerism and digital obsession.
The 90-minute runtime is also littered with dark humour, courtesy of the spunky Plaza and a cheeky script that drops casual references to Star Wars and late rapper Tupac Shakur.
But by tapping into the more cerebral fear of artificial intelligence and killer robots, the film also loses the sense of visceral terror that makes great horror.
Plot points are rushed through or waved away, and the film shies away from revealing much about the world that Chucky inhabits, which diminishes the sense of paranoia.- 3 Ticks
FILM: Child's Play
STARRING: Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill
DIRECTOR: Lars Klevberg
THE SKINNY: For his birthday, 13-year-old Andy (Bateman) gets a new best friend in the form of a revolutionary high-tech Buddi doll (voiced by Hamill) that can control smart devices and learns from its owners. But this plastic buddy also comes with murder included.
Movie reviews: The Professor And The Madman, The White Storm 2
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN (PG13)
Set in the 1850s, this biographical drama tells the bizarre story of famed professor James Murray (Mel Gibson), the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and his friendship with a doctor (Sean Penn) who submitted over 10,000 entries while he was undergoing treatment at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum for killing a man.
The good news is that the Oscar-winning Hollywood veterans play the respective misunderstood genius and criminally insane well.
The bad news is The Professor And The Madman is just a little more interesting than reading the dictionary.
For some reason, a film about the OED requires some romance, so the writers have the wife (Natalie Dormer) of the murdered man fall in love with the madman.
But at least this unlikely twist gives a female character some presence in the testosterone-charged environment.
Unfortunately, the many subplots left me with a sense of confusion - and feeling like I had lost two years instead of two hours when it ended. - SERAFINA BASCIANO - 1.5 Ticks
THE WHITE STORM 2: DRUG LORDS (NC16)
This Herman Yau-directed Hong Kong crime drama is a sequel in name only to 2013's The White Storm and can be easily viewed without watching the first film.
This time, it follows two brothers in arms as they go down different paths that converge in violent fashion.
Yu Shun Tin (Andy Lau) and Jizo (Louis Koo) are from the same triad before the former is forced to cut off the latter's fingers under their boss' orders.
Yu becomes a philanthropist after leaving the gang, while Jizo turns into a drug lord.
The White Storm 2 carries a strong anti-drug message, but its importance is undercut by how melodramatic and on-the-nose it is, and further muddled by grounding it in a violent spat between two unstable men.
Props go to Koo though, who makes his brutal kingpin the most entertaining character in the movie.
However, the action is comically over the top, giving the entire enterprise a soulless and manufactured quality.
And due to poor editing, things feel disjointed and choppy, and the story suffers for it. - JOHN TAN - 2 Ticks
Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG)
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) decides to join his best friends on a European school trip, but his holiday plans are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
This biopic explores the formative years of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien's (Nicholas Hoult) life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school.
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Red Joan (M18)
A former spy's (Judi Dench) tranquil retirement is suddenly disrupted when she is arrested by MI5 and accused of providing intelligence to communist Russia.
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
The Extractors (NC16)
In this sequel, security expert Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his crew find themselves breaking into a new high-security prison in an effort to find the missing daughter of a Hong Kong tech executive.
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
A symbiotic relationship forms between two South Korean families - one rich and one poor - but this new ecosystem is fragile, and soon, greed and class prejudice threaten to upend their comfort.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Annabelle Comes Home (PG13)
The titular possessed doll awakens the evil spirits in the home of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). And the spirits have all set their sights on the couple's young daughter and her friends.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%