Arts & Entertainment

Your complete guide to Kuala Lumpur's art exhibitions, theatre plays, musicals, comedy, movie reviews and film trailers

Aquaman
Film

Aquaman

If you’ve ever wanted to watch a five-course seafood dinner have an epic battle before your eyes (as infantile and wonderful as that sounds), ‘Aquaman’s final 20 minutes will be your new favorite thing. Gargantuan lobsters and crabs – hailing from the ‘Kingdom of Brine’, of course – rumble against weaponised sharks and an armada of creatures that swim by in a blur of bubbles. Howling above the din with his trident and golden armor is mega-tattooed Arthur (Jason Momoa, wearing this superhero stuff extremely lightly, and all the more charming for it), or, as he’ll come to be known, Aquaman. As helmed by director James Wan, who has grown from 2004’s rough-and-ready ‘Saw’ into a playful steward of big-budget ridiculousness (‘Furious 7’), ‘Aquaman’ seems inspired by some of the more psychedelic panels devoted to DC Comics’s water-breathing warrior –pages filled to the brim with gob-smacked fascination with the world below, in all its colourful diversity. But getting to that delirious showdown feels like holding your breath for two hours. Certain audience members will care deeply about who becomes ‘Ocean Master’, the ruler from among the warring factions of the mythical city of Atlantis and elsewhere, just as there must be those who wonder about who will win ‘Game of Thrones’. But all the exposition is deadening, even with brave actors like Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe delivering it. ‘The king has risen,’ Dafoe intones, answering the film’s least suspenseful question (and possib

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Bumblebee
Film

Bumblebee

The last four ‘Transformers’ films have been a mess of clashing metal, crashing sound and little in the way of coherence. ‘Bumblebee’ was conceived as a spin-off, but emerges as more of a reboot of sorts: a return to the kid-and-a-car conceit of the first film. In fact, director Travis Knight (‘Kubo and the Two Strings’) takes the franchise further, back to ’80s Amblin movies like ‘ET’ and ‘The Goonies’ and the original Hasbro toy designs. The result is an entry in this franchise that won’t give you a headache. Hailee Steinfeld plays Charlie, a tomboyish 18-year-old mourning her dad. Mechanically inclined and desperate for a car, she brings home a beaten-up VW Beetle that turns out to be a robot alien from the planet Cybertron. Cue an unlikely friendship threatened by John Cena’s uptight military man and two enemy Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux). Many of the beats are familiar from ‘ET’ and its legion of imitators. There’s the shady government types, pop-culture bonding and some innocent destruction (half of Charlie’s family home bites the dust). But Steinfeld holds the attention even when acting opposite imaginary metal, and Knight builds her connection to Bumblebee via a shared sense of loss and some smart visual touches. And for ‘Transformers’ fans, there’s still action galore. If ‘Bumblebee’ doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, sometimes a good heart is enough. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Ten essential books by Malaysians for Malaysians
Things to do

Ten essential books by Malaysians for Malaysians

If you're unfamiliar with Malaysian literature, here are ten books by Malaysian authors ranging from fiction, non-fiction and poetry in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, suitable for beginners

The Phantom of the Opera
Theatre

The Phantom of the Opera

  The most famous of musicals, 'The Phantom of the Opera' will be showing at Istana Budaya for a limited season in June 2019. The production will feature international cast members from the World Tour and a full 12-piece live orchestra performing against stunning backdrops and special effects. If you don't already know, Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning hit is the longest-running show on Broadway and (based on the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux) tells the tale of the Phantom, a disfigured musical genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, and his obsession with his protégé, the talented young soprano Christine Daaé. Accompanied by some of the theatre world's most memorable music, this production is one not to miss. Get your tickets here. 

What's the deal with: Malaysia Design Archive
Art

What's the deal with: Malaysia Design Archive

Learn about Malaysia Design Archive's efforts to preserve the visual history of Malaysia

Latest film reviews and releases

Hotel Artemis
Film

Hotel Artemis

Hollywood’s visions of the future tend to make hellscapes of major cities. Joining the Detroit of RoboCop and the NYC of Escape from New York is Hotel Artemis’s Los Angeles, where the citizens of 2028 riot for water rights and criminals are everywhere. The film’s title refers to a secret emergency room for wounded gangsters over which Jodie Foster’s alcoholic, haunted Nurse presides, with the help of Dave Bautista’s heavy. One night, the patients are joined by LA’s Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum, at the nastier end of his spectrum), the crime boss who owns the hospital, and an injured cop (Jenny Slate) who has a tie to the Nurse’s shady past. It’s an atmospheric setup, with the faded Hotel Artemis offering a nicely seedy backdrop for a cast of good-looking, increasingly antagonistic eccentrics. Offering the closest thing to a moral compass in this den of thieves is the cool and charismatic Sterling K Brown as a badly hurt bank robber. The problem is that screenwriter-turned-director Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) doesn’t get the buildup-to-payoff ratio right: Before any real conflict takes place, a lot of time is spent establishing characters and situations that don’t really matter. As with its fellow underworld action-thriller John Wick, an elaborate mythology informs these people’s interactions; but while that Keanu Reeves franchise was explosive, the action here is underwhelming. Still, at a tight 90 minutes, Pearce deserves credit for packing the screen with interesting characters,

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Skyscraper
Film

Skyscraper

‘Skyscraper’ is a cacophonous blockbuster, in the Die Hard wannabe (plus obligatory 3D and pricey special effects) mold, the likes of which you’ve probably seen (or perhaps avoided) many times over. Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader currently on assignment in China with his family, in his new job as skyscraper safety assessor. It’s no spoiler to say that this skyscraper, a tech-laden, phallic monstrosity, doesn’t turn out to be so safe, and the film quickly turns into an occasionally tense but mostly predictable tale of a man taking risks to save his family from explosions, devious suits and terrorists. Johnson is obviously a bankable star, and his charisma lightens up a few moments, as when he makes creative use of his character’s prosthetic leg to save himself, and has a satisfied reaction. For the most part, though, touches of humanity are largely absent. Sawyer’s two children are cute, but they’re pretty much pawns in the action scheme here, and we know Johnson will serve a big heroic ending. Sawyer’s wife, Sarah, is largely depicted as a woman in peril–which is a shame, given that she’s played by Neve Campbell, who brought such shrewdness to roles in ‘Scream’ and ‘Wild Things’ back in the ‘90s. Campbell is given a couple moments to shine (as when she shows she knows Chinese, to the surprise of the officers helping her), but they’re few and far between. The most egregious moment in ‘Skyscraper’ just might come during a fight scene

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Ghost Stories
Film

Ghost Stories

'The Exorcist’ meets ‘The League of Gentlemen’ in a triptych of horror tales that’s presided over with assurance and some seriously mordant wit by playwrights-turned-directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. They’ve given their own stage play a cinematic reboot that’s both faithful and fresh, without sacrificing any of its macabre intimacy. ‘Ghost Stories’ is smart, surprising and recognisably British, right down to the peeling wallpaper, caravans and analogue tech of its sorta-bygone setting. Its world is weirdly familiar and yet alien. It’s also darn scary. The three storylines’ common denominator is parapsychologist Professor Phillip Goodman (Nyman). In truth, it’s an odd profession for a man whose sole mission is to debunk witnesses to the supernatural. The arrival of a mysterious cassette sends him to meet three victims of ghostly encounters – Paul Whitehouse’s night watchman, Alex Lawther’s nervy teenager, and Martin Freeman’s Scottish financier – and offers harrowing opportunities to change his mind. Nyman neatly charts Goodman’s arc from condescension to icy terror, but it’s Whitehouse and Freeman who steal the show. The former’s chapter takes place in an abandoned factory guaranteed to haunt your dreams, while Freeman’s is an off-balancing mix of cockiness and menace. If the climax feels a touch clichéd, it barely spoils the ride.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Film

Ant-Man and the Wasp

The first ‘Ant-Man’ movie succeeded largely because of its less-is-more approach: a livewire heist caper stuffed with Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Avenger-style visual gags. It leant hard on Paul Rudd’s guileless charm as criminal-turned-micro-hero Scott Lang and some scene-stealing turns, spearheaded by Michael Peña as Lang’s motor-mouthed buddy Luis. Diminishing returns bite, though, in a sequel that strains hard to be effortlessly fun but lacks the same helter-skelter irreverence. We meet Lang under house arrest for siding with Captain America in ‘Civil War’ way back, trying again to go straight. Of course, you can’t keep a besuited burglar cooped up for long. Cue grumpy genius Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and still-underutilised daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) roping him into their quest to save Hank’s long-lost wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer, underemployed). For 30 years, she’s been stuck in the Quantum Realm, a place where all logic bends in service of the plot, but Hank may have a way of rescuing her, with Hope’s superhero alter-ego the Wasp helping out. Cue an uninspiring quest and chunks of pseudo-scientific exposition that’ll make sense only to those with degrees in Marvelology. There’s a solid chase sequence, utilising some of San Francisco’s very fine landmarks, but the low-stakes villains, anodyne superbaddie Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and out-of-place black marketeer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) are anticlimactic after the charismatic dread of Thanos in ‘Avengers:

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
See all Time Out film reviews

Film and TV features

Saw Teong Hin interview
Film

Saw Teong Hin interview

Director Saw Teong Hin talks about his latest movie and first Penang Hokkien feature film 'You Mean the World to Me'

Dain Said interview
Film

Dain Said interview

The charismatic filmmaker talks identity, literature and his distaste for nostalgia

U-Wei Haji Saari interview
Film

U-Wei Haji Saari interview

Director U-Wei Haji Saari talks about his latest film, ‘Hanyut’, and the lost art of storytelling

Everything you need to know about ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
Film

Everything you need to know about ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

From trailers to casting news, details about sequels and the release date – here’s everything you need to know about JK Rowling’s new movie set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter