Movie reviews: Braven; Wonder Wheel
Jason Momoa puts away his Aquaman quindent to play family man Joe Braven, who defends his loved ones against a drug lord (Garret Dillahunt).
Stepping away from his usually gruff god-like characters in Lin Oeding's directorial debut, Momoa embraces a rare, softer side that provides a nice change of pace.
His feelings of joy and grief are endearing, garnering much sympathy that keeps the simple but rousing plot worth investing in. The subtle theme of survival comes through despite the blood-soaked violence.
Dillahunt nails the bad guy part too, creating a dastardly character whose unpredictability keeps us guessing despite his simple motivation.
It is therefore unfortunate that neither his backstory nor personality is truly fleshed out, as he reverts to simply being a cold-blooded killer towards the final act.
Meanwhile, occasional wonky shots make the cinematography seem amateurish.
Overall, Braven is a visceral film that is heartening despite its chilling brutality, as it showcases the sacrifices one would make to protect the ones who truly matter - family. - SAMFREY TAN
WONDER WHEEL (NC16)
Expect melodrama and larger-than-life characters in this flick set in 1950s Coney Island, New York. What the narrator, lifeguard and wannabe playwright Mickey (Justin Timberlake) promises is what you will get.
The story revolves around Ginny (Kate Winslet), a failed actress-turned-waitress married to Humpty (Jim Belushi), a merry-go-round operator.
Tired of poverty and Humpty, Ginny starts an affair with Mickey, who thinks the fling is part of him accumulating life experiences for his future plays.
Enter Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty's estranged daughter who is on the run from her mobster husband. The bubbly Carolina catches Mickey's eye, and Ginny turns into a jealous and vengeful shrew. No prizes for guessing what happens next.
Woody Allen has many ups and downs in his directorial career, and this is definitely in the latter category.
Most of the time, the characters come off as if they are in a play with their dramatic monologues. - JOANNE SOH