A Feast of Films at the End of 2018

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Pan Zhong­ming Edited by David Ball

The end of the year of­ten sees the re­lease of sev­eral block­buster films, and 2018 is no ex­cep­tion. Hotly-awaited movies set to be launched this Novem­ber in­clude Venom, Aqua­man, Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald and De­tec­tive Co­nan: Zero the En­forcer.

The end of the year of­ten sees the re­lease of sev­eral block­buster films, and 2018 is no ex­cep­tion. Hotly-awaited movies set to be launched this Novem­ber in­clude the Marvel su­per­hero film Venom, which pre­miered in Los An­ge­les on Oc­to­ber 1, 2018; up­com­ing su­per­hero movie, Aqua­man, based on the DC Comics char­ac­ter of the same name; Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald (2018), the se­quel to Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), it­self a spin- off and pre­quel to the Harry Pot­ter se­ries; and De­tec­tive Co­nan: Zero the En­forcer, a 2018 Ja­panese an­i­mated crime thriller and the twenty-sec­ond in­stal­ment of the Case Closed film se­ries.

Venom The Anti-su­per­hero Re­turns

Venom is a sym­bi­otic life­form from outer space that needs to at­tach it­self to oxy­gen-breath­ing hosts to sur­vive. The Life Foun­da­tion, a bio- en­gi­neer­ing cor­po­ra­tion, re­cov­ers three sym­biotes and trans­ports them to their re­search fa­cil­ity. Whilst in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Life Foun­da­tion’s use of hu­man guinea pigs in its re­search, in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Ed­die Brock be­comes bound to a sym­biote. He then gains su­per­pow­ers but be­comes caught in con­flict with the sym­biote. Some­times, Brock re­tains con­scious­ness and ex­presses re­gret for harm­ing his vic­tims, but other times, he be­comes un­stop­pable and dev­as­tates all that sur­rounds him. Di­rected by Ruben Fleis­cher and star­ring Tom Hardy and Michelle Wil­liams, the movie tells the story of one man’s strug­gles to break free from his alien sym­biote.

The char­ac­ter Venom is fa­mil­iar to many cin­ema- go­ers from its de­but in Spi­der-man 3 (2007), in which it is bound to Spi­der-man Pe­ter Parker and then to Ed­die Brock. Su­per­hero movie fans hop­ing that Venom would play a big­ger role in the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse might be dis­ap­pointed as Venom is ac­tu­ally the first film in Sony’s Marvel Uni­verse. Af­ter pre­mier­ing in Los An­ge­les on Oc­to­ber 1, 2018, Venom was re­leased in cin­e­mas across the United States on Oc­to­ber 5, 2018. The film re­ceived gen­er­ally neg­a­tive re­views from crit­ics for its script and in­con­sis­tent tone, but was praised by many movie­go­ers and hailed as a model for vis­ual ef­fects in com­mer­cial films. Ad­di­tion­ally, most crit­ics ap­proved of Tom Hardy’s per­for­mance in the film. Those who hoped that Hardy would take over as the next Wolver­ine how­ever, may not be happy about him be­com­ing an an­ti­hero in the film.

Aqua­man In­trigue Be­neath the Waves

Dur­ing his child­hood, Arthur Curry dis­cov­ers he is able to breathe un­der­wa­ter and com­mu­ni­cate with aquatic life. In fact, he is the half-at­lantean half-hu­man love child of the Queen of At­lantis and a light­house keeper, pre­des­tined to be­come King of the Seven Seas and pos­sess the tri­dent which can ma­nip­u­late the tides and oceans.

Aqua­man is the sixth in­stal­ment in the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse. The film is also the third live-ac­tion film fea­tur­ing the ti­tle char­ac­ter, fol­low­ing Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice (2016) and Jus­tice League (2017). In the movie, di­rec­tor James Wan and stars Ja­son Mo­moa and Am­ber Heard present a brand-new un­der­wa­ter At­lantis to au­di­ences, fea­tur­ing a mag­nif­i­cent un­der­sea city, sea­horse army and shark knights. Wan was given the di­rec­tor’s chair in the hope that he could re­vive the de­clin­ing DC Ex­tended Uni­verse, but it is not yet clear whether the movie will achieve the same mar­ket suc­cess as 2017’s Won­der Woman.

De­tec­tive Co­nan: Zero the En­forcer The Child De­tec­tive Re­turns

Lo­cated in Tokyo Bay, the newly built in­te­grated re­sort and con­ven­tion cen­tre “Edge of Ocean” is go­ing to host an up­com­ing sum­mit. On May 1, prior to the open­ing cer­e­mony, more than 22,000 po­lice of­fi­cers are se­cur­ing the build­ing when a large ex­plo­sion oc­curs. In­ves­ti­ga­tions find in­crim­i­nat­ing fin­ger­prints at the

crime scene which, when checked against all past and present po­lice per­son­nel, match Ko­goro Mouri. While pros­e­cu­tors are fil­ing charges against Ko­goro Mouri, a se­ries of ter­ror­ist at­tacks hit the city. At the same time, the shadow of Tōru Amuro, who works for the Na­tional Po­lice Agency Se­cu­rity Bureau as “Zero,” ap­pears on the scene. Co­nan, the child de­tec­tive, must solve the case.

De­tec­tive Co­nan is a pop­u­lar Ja­panese de­tec­tive manga se­ries which has been suc­cess­fully adapted for the big screen mul­ti­ple times. The film De­tec­tive Co­nan: Zero the En­forcer is the lat­est in­stal­ment in the se­ries, with its pre­de­ces­sor hit­ting the big screen in China two years ago. The last movie, how­ever, was less suc­cess­ful than hoped as it pri­ori­tised ac­tion and ex­plo­sions over crime-solv­ing el­e­ments. De­tec­tive Co­nan: Zero the En­forcer has been a huge suc­cess in Ja­pan, com­bin­ing a clever plot with re­flec­tions on the re­la­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions. Fa­mous Ja­panese ac­tress Aya Ueto also voiced a char­ac­ter in the film, 12 years af­ter last do­ing so.

Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald Cute and In­no­cent Fan­tas­tic Beasts

With the as­sis­tance of Newt Sca­man­der, the pow­er­ful dark wiz­ard Gellert Grindel­wald was ar­rested by the Mag­i­cal Con­gress of the United States of Amer­ica. How­ever, Grindel­wald suc­cess­fully breaks out of prison not long af­ter and at­tempts to raise wizards up to rule over all non­mag­i­cal be­ings. To foil Grindel­wald’s plot, Al­bus Dum­ble­dore again en­lists his stu­dent Newt Sca­man­der, who im­me­di­ately agrees to help. Then, Sca­man­der em­barks on a long and dan­ger­ous jour­ney.

Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), the first in­stal­ment of the Fan­tas­tic Beasts film se­ries, grossed over US$814 mil­lion world­wide, in­spir­ing fans’ hopes for a se­quel. As with its pre­de­ces­sor, Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald was di­rected by David Yates with a screen­play by J. K. Rowl­ing. The film stars Ed­die Red­mayne and Kather­ine Water­ston, as well as a new char­ac­ter—young Dum­ble­dore played by Jude Law. Com­pared with Harry Pot­ter, the Fan­tas­tic Beasts se­ries fea­tures var­i­ous fan­tas­tic an­i­mals such as the cute Nif­fler, tiny branch-like tree guardian Bowtruckle, Chi­nese mag­i­cal beast Zouwu and un­der­wa­ter Kelpie. How­ever, The Crimes of Grindel­wald also in­cor­po­rates el­e­ments from the Harry Pot­ter se­ries, in­clud­ing Hog­warts, Dum­ble­dore and the Mir­ror of Erised.

Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net: Wreck-it Ralph 2 An An­i­mated Ready Player One

Wreck-it Ralph de­cides to help Vanel­lope von Sch­weetz who is up­set that the game set­tings in Sugar Rush never change. As he at­tempts to re­fit the game to make it more ex­cit­ing, Ralph ac­ci­den­tally breaks the steer­ing wheel con­troller on the game con­sole. When Mr. Lit­wak, owner of the video game cen­tre, dis­cov­ers that the cost of re­pair­ing the game ma­chine is higher than his an­nual in­come, he de­cides to un­plug and dis­man­tle the Sugar Rush game and sell it for parts. In or­der to re­pair the con­troller, Ralph and Vanel­lope must en­ter the In­ter­net in search of the nec­es­sary com­po­nents. Al­though they are not re­ally sure what the In­ter­net is, they are de­ter­mined to ad­ven­ture into the un­known world to save Vanel­lope’s game.

Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net, di­rected by Rich Moore and Phil John­ston, is a se­quel to the 2012 film Wreck-it Ralph. How­ever, this time the ac­tion takes place in the In­ter­net rather than just the world of com­puter games. Ralph and Vanel­lope ex­pe­ri­ence many ad­ven­tures in the In­ter­net—which in the movie is a large planet made of many large cities. Fa­mil­iar In­ter­net icons and comic book char­ac­ters pop up across the planet, as do sev­eral fa­mous Dis­ney princesses such as Elsa, Anna, Merida, Moana, Snow White, Ra­pun­zel and Mu­lan. Rich Moore also di­rected the film’s pre­de­ces­sor Wreck-it Ralph, and joined By­ron Howard and Jared Bush to di­rect the 2016 hit film Zootopia, which was a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess. Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net looks set to be­come

an­other clas­sic com­puter-an­i­mated com­edy film.

Crazy Rich Asians Hol­ly­wood’s Me­teor Gar­den

The story fol­lows New Yorker Rachel Chu as she ac­com­pa­nies her boyfriend Nick Young back to his home­town of Sin­ga­pore to at­tend his best friend’s wed­ding. Rachel is ex­cited about her first trip to Asia, but is also ner­vous about meet­ing Nick’s fam­ily. How­ever, on ar­rival she dis­cov­ers that Nick ac­tu­ally be­longs to Sin­ga­pore’s wealth­i­est fam­ily and is also pos­si­bly the sole heir to the fam­ily’s huge for­tune. Whilst money can­not buy love, it can com­pli­cate re­la­tions. There­fore, Rachel finds her­self be­ing en­vied by other women and her re­la­tion­ship with Nick be­comes strained be­cause of her boyfriend’s dis­ap­prov­ing mother.

This type of story is not un­fa­mil­iar to Chi­nese au­di­ences, as the TV se­ries Me­teor Gar­den cov­ered very sim­i­lar ground just a few years ago. Crazy Rich Asians has been a crit­i­cal suc­cess as the first ma­jor Hol­ly­wood film with a ma­jor­ity-asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. It tack­les im­por­tant themes such as cul­tural di­ver­sity, so­cial dif­fer­ences and gen­er­a­tion gaps.

Last Let­ter A Chi­nese Story by Shunji Iwai

Love Let­ter (1995) won sev­eral Ja­panese film awards and in­tro­duced Chi­nese au­di­ences to the di­rec­tor Shunji Iwai. Iwai’s first Chi­nese-lan­guage film, Last Let­ter, is also themed around let­ters and fea­tures in- depth re­flec­tions— such as the idea that one ma­tures through learn­ing lessons about life.

In the 1990s, let­ters were still a pop­u­lar form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. To­day, al­though the In­ter­net has taken over as the main method of cor­re­spon­dence, writ­ten let­ters are still an im­por­tant cin­e­matic el­e­ment. Time has also changed Shunji Iwai’s un­der­stand­ing of life which is now deeper than when he was shoot­ing Love Let­ter and thus, ex­plains his thoughts on life: that one should learn from hard­ship and fail­ure. When speak­ing about the cre­ative process, Shunji Iwai ex­plained: “It’s like a cy­cle—i want to create an­other let­ter story for my Chi­nese fans.”

Pro­duced by Pe­ter Chan, Last Let­ter stars Zhou Xun, Qin Hao, Du Jiang and Hu Ge. Chan spoke highly of his time work­ing with Shunji Iwai and well-known Chi­nese ac­tors and ac­tresses, ex­plain­ing that the film’s cast came on board as they re­spected di­rec­tor Shunji Iwai and hoped the film would help Chi­nese au­di­ences un­der­stand his val­ues and artis­tic ideas. The film com­bines Shunji Iwai’s cin­e­matic style with Chi­nese lo­cal scenes and gives au­di­ences an op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a Chi­nese story told by a Ja­panese di­rec­tor.

Michelle Wil­liams and Tom Hardy in Venom

A scene from Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net: Wreck-it Ralph 2

Con­stance Wu and Awk­wa­fina in Crazy Rich Asians

A mo­ment from Last Let­ter

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