Features
Movies Not to Miss: April 2016


Date Posted: 01 April 2016


Which of these are you going to watch?

While the train of major releases continues to chug on in April, there is a considerable amount of space to take a breather if you are not looking for blockbusters to explode left, right and center.

April stands for Asian in our list of recommendations, besides the couple of Hollywood must-sees that will be coming out this month, whether they come from Hong Kong, Japan, India, and of course, Malaysia.

So if you are having "Batman V Superman" fatigue (or can't wait for the big Marvel showdown), you can certainly use these releases for April to refresh yourself!

The Bodyguard

From famous action star to action choreographer, Sammo Hung hasn't stop in delivering the punches or teaching others on how to deliver them, but it has been 17 years since we have seen Sammo sitting in the director's chair after 1997's "Once Upon a Time In China and America". "The Bodyguard" will mark that return to the director's chair, but directing duties won't stop him from starring in his own movie as a retired soldier with memory loss, who is entrenched in a war between Russian and Chinese gangs. Already promising to have some hard-hitting fight scenes, "The Bodyguard" will also have the benefit of a dazzling cameo cast, starting with producer Andy Lau, Feng Shaofeng, Eddie Peng and action director Tsui Hark.

General Release Date: 1 April

Ki and Ka

Kia is an ambitious marketing manager who is on track of becoming the CEO of her company, while Kabir is a man with more humble ambitions. Despite knowing what they want to do in life, Kia and Kabir decides to marry, upsetting the traditional gender roles placed on them.

The romantic chemistry in "Ki and Ka" cannot be more sizzling than it already is with Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, with her wearing the pants while he shows his sharp knife skills in the kitchen. Written back in 2015, we like to see where director R. Balki is taking his challenge to gender roles in Indian society, but even if nothing profound comes out of it, we think we'd still enjoy the music from Balki's favourite composer Ilaiyaraaja.

General Release Date: 1 April

The Jungle Book

Raised by wolves, Mowgli is on the run from the only home that he has ever known when the tiger Shere Khan forbids humans to live in the jungle. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the trusty Baloo the bear, Mowgli will learn that not everyone can be trusted in the wild jungle, in whatever shape or form they may come.

It may have been a mistake to remake this Rudyard Kipling and Disney classic any time before 2016, but in between the nearly 40 years since cinematic technology has advanced, now is almost a better time than ever to make a live-action version of this tale that features life-like walking and talking animals. From "Avatar", the rebooted "Planet of the Apes" series, to "Life of Pi", there's certainly a case to be made that motion capture and photo-realistic image rendering has reached the point of enhancing the experience when we see a dancing bear and a slithery python. Already supported by a tremendous voice cast that we won't even get to see in person with Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, and Christopher Walken, director Jon Favreau is bringing more than the bare necessities for a truly cinematic experience.

General Release Date: 7 April

Showdown The Movie

Already putting one in the bag for being a major success at the local box office with "BoBoBoi The Movie", Grand Brilliance's upcoming dance feature is already looking to be another winner with "Showdown The Movie". With the energising dance reality show from 2010 set as the backdrop for this dance battle drama, Reza Hasbi leads as the leader of a dance battle crew who make their way to the competition. While we probably wouldn't expect it to deviate far from the usual shticks of dance battle movies, but "Showdown The Movie" is the return of director Khairil M. Bahar to a studio production after his warmly received "Relationship Status" and "Cuak", so we expect this to be in good hands. Nothing pumps us to see the power moves of our local dance crews, but we are even more pumped by the cameos we are promised that wants us to shuffle into cinemas for this one.

General Release Date: 7 April

Before I Wake

While jump scare horrors are always in plenty supply to keep us awake at night, but we think we would probably want to keep our eyes open for "Before I Wake". Already twisting our perceptions of reality with "Oculus", we are afraid of what director Mike Flanagan will do to our dreams with "Before I Wake"; a story about an adopted boy whose dreams become reality, but also capable of bringing his far more frightening nightmares to life. Flanagan's technical driven storytelling has so far blended terrifying well with the horror genre, adding another layer of depth in knowing how to scare audiences, so we will be gripping our seats to see what he has installed for us for this one.

General Release Date: 7 April

Trivisa

Already premiering with great praise for the debuting directors at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier, "Trivisa" harks back to the nostalgic noir-crime-thrillers that were made by their mentor and producer, movie crime lord Johnnie To, that dares to challenge the new status quo in a China-controlled Hong Kong. Young directors Frank Hui, Jevons Au and Vicky Wong seem to have inherited their mentor's knack for gritty and gratuitous violence, and political and spiritual satire. The movie also has loads of credibility derived from its strong cast, Gordon Lam, Richie Jen and Jordan Chan as three notorious criminals who plan for one final pay day before the city-state is handed over to their former masters. There is some strong awards potential in "Trivisa", and that may spark some new hope for these young directors, in a climate when the old and unapologetic ways of Hong Kong filmmaking is slowly declining.

General Release Date: 7 April

Midnight Special

After establishing his name through his own indie projects, it is about time that someone takes director Jeff Nichols seriously and why he is a worthy player in the big genre field. "Midnight Special" is probably the biggest budget that he has been given to work with by Warner Bros, but he still appears to have retained much of the creative freedom and control that he needs to tell his brand of science fiction drama that is compelling and thoughtful. In "Midnight Special", a boy has inexplicable supernatural powers and is chasing to be at a particular place at a particular time when cosmic forces are set to align to fulfill his destiny. Steered by the fruitful combination of Nichol's direction with his main lead Michael Shannon, the cast is lit by an even more startling ensemble with Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton, and Kristen Dunst, but we already know that we are in for an intense and mystifying story by anything that is written by Nichols.

General Release Date: 14 April

Redha

April is also the month of Austism awareness and Malaysians will be brought to more awareness about it through this serious effort from Current Pictures. Based on real life stories of parents raising children with autism, "Redha" centers on a family with an autistic child. While the mother tries to seek help from whoever she can on the poverty-stricken east coast where professional help is hard to come by, the father lives in firm denial that there is nothing wrong with his child.

This will not be an awareness video first and story second, as the director brings together an admirable cast and crew to circle around this issue. With Indonesian cinematographer Yudi Datau lensing, and serious talents from the acting department; Nam Ron, June Lojong, Nadiya Nisaa, Susan Lankester and Remy Ishak; "Redha" is already a compelling attraction to watch, with or without its social message. But if you needed an extra reason, exhibitors of "Redha" will also be running donation drives for the National Austism Society of Malaysia throughout the month.

General Release Date: 14 April

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Take note that this is not a sequel to "Snow White and The Huntsman" but is actually a prequel story, following the evil Queen Ravenna and her Ice Queen sister, Freya who fled their kingdom after a heartbreak. This almost sounds like Disney's "Frozen" except that in this darker tale we also have Chris Hemsworth playing the Huntsman whom Freya trains along with the warrior Sara, played by Jessica Chastain. Naturally the two fighters fall in love, defying Freya's only rule of hardening their hearts and this leads to all kinds of battles including one with a powerful army.

General Release Date: 14 April

Eye in the Sky

While we don't know what disabled Andrew Niccol's drone drama "Good Kill" from its gripping relevancy, but the subject matter of unmanned drones is one that is timely and needs to be explored further. Perhaps with the much stronger cast in Gavin Hood's "Eye in the Sky", there will be much more weight put on exploring the human and ethical dilemmas of employing such heartless (and sometimes inaccurate) weapons on the battlefield.

Receiving a much more favourable reviews than "Good Kill" since its premiere at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, "Eye in the Sky" will see Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul and "Captain Philips" breakout, Barkhad Abdi (who we like to see in more acting appearances) stand to give solid performances on their own as they never shared the same set during production. This will also be the last seen performance of the late Alan Rickman.

General Release Date: 21 April

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War

After the anticipation and anti-climatic excitement that was "Batman V Superman", there is still one other climatic showdown of superheroes to look forward to. Although strictly a Captain America installment, "Civil War" will see Captain America and Iron Man butt heads (or punching out perfect teeth) over the future of Earth's Mightiest Heroes as superheroes are deemed too dangerous to run amok. So now is the time to decide whether you are #TeamIronMan or #TeamCaptainAmerica, and just wait for those "Dawn of Justice" and "Civil War" memes to fight each other.

General Release Date: 28 April

Sugihara Chiune

Based on the life of Sugihara Chiune, the then Japanese consul to Lithuania during the outbreak of World War II, who signed visas for Jews to exit Lithuania and enter Japan as the Nazi begin capturing Jews for the Holocaust. This is in every way the Japanese's "Schindler's List" and while the production value isn't as heart-wrenching as the Steven Spielberg counterpart, it is still an inspiring story that is not even well known by the Japanese until much after Sugihara's death in 1986.

General Release Date: 28 April

Writer: Casey Lee



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