Arts & Entertainment

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

The Lion King
Film

The Lion King

Something is off about this defiantly unmagical remake of ‘The Lion King’, a film that is both photorealistic – down to every artfully crafted lens flare and whisker on Simba’s chin – and about the furthest imaginable thing from real. It’ll either mildly disturb you or make you feel like your skin is on backwards. Granted, it’s still ‘The Lion King’, still a sturdy piece of ‘Hamlet’-derived musical theatre, only with 100 percent more Beyoncé, which is never a bad thing. But Disney’s animated movies have always been invitations to dream bigger than nature; even when you go to one of its theme parks, you submit to pretending. This new version is an invader of the real world, its characters like stuffed trophies mounted on the wall. They’re lifelike, yes, but somehow not alive. Almost certainly, kids aren’t going to mind this, even if their imaginations will be a little short-changed. Set in one of Africa’s uncannier valleys, ‘The Lion King’ is still a yarn about talking and singing animals; no amount of digital work is going to change that. And vocal talent is what semi-saves this remake from ‘Jungle Book’ director Jon Favreau’s more computerised instincts. As the regal Mufasa, the sensible leader of the Pride Lands, rumbling James Earl Jones still has Darth Vader sonority on tap. He remembers to give an actual performance, as does Donald Glover, voicing the cub who would be king with increasing surety. But the rest of the cast is flattened into two-dimensional reductions: Joh

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Film

Spider-Man: Far From Home

‘I didn’t think I would have to save the world this summer,’ says a near-terrified Peter Parker (Tom Holland, still charmingly dorky) near the front end of ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’. Little more than two months have passed since ‘Avengers: Endgame’ crushed it with three hours of intergalactic pain, not to mention last year’s superb animated ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’. Can’t Marvel give it a rest for a bit? Well, no. This new movie is meta, irreverent and regularly a lot of fun, though it works best when it plays like a holiday from all the MCU seriousness. A blast of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ and a cheesy montage of fallen superheroes (it turns out to be a high-school AV club’s video tribute) brings us up to speed in a new post-‘Endgame’ world. Peter, meanwhile, a self-described ‘16-year-old kid from Queens,’ hopes to reveal his true feelings to MJ (Zendaya) while on a class trip in Europe. As ‘Far from Home’ leans into this travelogue section, much of it shot on location in Europe, you wish it would remain a breezy teen comedy, one with a panicky best friend (Jacob Batalon), a neurotic chaperoning teacher (Martin Starr) and a handsome romantic competitor for MJ’s heart who’s actually named Brad (Remy Hii). But Samuel L Jackson’s glowering Nick Fury won’t be ghosted – he busts into the teen-centric flow like Jules from ‘Pulp Fiction’ – and the question of who will step into Tony Stark’s shoes is never far from hand, especially when a giant fire m

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Child's Play
Film

Child's Play

We’re not above enjoying a Chucky movie, provided it doesn’t feel like it was made by a cranky, overtired child. The original 1988 ‘Child’s Play’ and its six sequels (that’s not a typo) never pretended to be art. Still, there was solidity, craft, attempts at special effects, Jennifer Tilly being strange. Today’s rebooters, Norwegian director Lars Klevberg and scripter Tyler Burton Smith, don’t have the blessing of concept creator Don Mancini. While that might have foretold something adventurous, they’ve used their freedom to dumb things down even further. After an initial flurry of pitch-black, Verhoeven-esque satire – a computerised ‘Buddi’ toy is programmed to be murderous by a disgruntled Vietnamese factory worker – the film quickly settles into a routine of trashy kills, poor plotting, inept editing and a surprising lack of fun. Not helping matters is dead-eyed snark source Aubrey Plaza, somehow less expressive than the doll itself (creepily voiced by Mark Hamill). She plays a wage slave at a generic big-box store who sneaks home a defective Buddi for her lonely kid, Andy (Gabriel Bateman). As single moms go, her character is conceived terribly – she’s vacant, unobservant and a bad judge of boyfriends. (Chucky’s subsequent rampage might have been more productively targeted at the screenwriter.) In this film’s universe, leering supers get table-sawed in the crotch: The kills are hard-R and splattery, something of a misjudgment. The remake’s one new idea, playing on our Al

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Where to watch comedy in KL
Comedy

Where to watch comedy in KL

Didn’t someone once say that laughter is the best medicine? Having a good laugh is key to a great time and the best way to get the chuckles in is to hit a comedy club. It’s also a great option for a date, girls’ night out or to forget about the unpleasant week you just had. Here’s where you can expect shows where you can actually LOL.

10 things not to do at comedy shows
Comedy

10 things not to do at comedy shows

Feel free to laugh and cheer, but for goodness’ sake, don’t do these things at comedy shows.

Latest film reviews and releases

Men In Black: International
Film

Men In Black: International

Nobody wanted this one: a reboot of a series that now feels redundant with every galaxy-guarding wisecrack coming from the theater next door. But how fun was it back in 1997, when CGI-heavy sci-fi first collided with salt-and-pepper buddy comedy? After three films, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are now AWOL – probably wisely on their part – leaving the dark suits and memory-wiping neuralysers to Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, who may bring to mind their superior ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. They have little to do in a film that’s both whirlingly busy and stubbornly listless and uninspired. It won’t exactly make you hate movies, full stop, but ‘Men in Black: International’ imposes such a generic dullness, it will have you seriously examining your entertainment choices. For a character that’s meant to be born and raised in Brooklyn, Thompson’s Molly, an often naive trainee agent, represents a missed opportunity for toughness – or at least the endearing street smarts this series used to supply on the regular. Meanwhile, if you ever wondered when Hemsworth surfer-bro charm would curdle into swagger, it’s now: As Molly’s new partner, Agent K, Hemsworth is almost surprisingly unfunny. When, only 15 minutes in, you’re hearing boss Emma Thompson complain about their secret organisation’s gendered name (‘I’ve had the conversation,’ she fumes), you have no idea you’re experiencing the film’s only funny line. She dispatches the duo to find some wayward aliens while a mystery mole undermines

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Toy Story 4
Film

Toy Story 4

Turns out, Pixar’s sentient toys can still make us cry: Nearly 25 years after their cinematic debut, the sweetly selfless plastic pals return in a fourth ‘Toy Story’, one charged by the animated series’ thematic essence of finding purpose in being useful to others. It’s a hopeful, immensely human chapter that echoes and extends the franchise’s complex notions of loyalty, displacement and self-worth, doing so with humour and warmth. Working from a script by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom (as well as six other story contributors, including the ousted ex-Pixar chief John Lasseter), director Josh Cooley successfully balances all these elements – a noteworthy achievement considering the large cowboy boots he had to fill after the epic yet nuanced ‘Toy Story 3’, one of Pixar’s more perfect achievements. The reliable company of old friends certainly helps. Now happily living with a new kid, Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), Tom Hanks’s pull-string pardner Woody, Tim Allen’s devoted Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack’s feisty Jesse and the rest of the gang are back. New to the clan is Forky (Tony Hale of ‘Veep’, adding nervy personality and genuine weirdness), an existentially confused spork with low self-esteem that the ever-imaginative Bonnie creates as a kindergarten craft project. Convinced of his status as trash (an unusually raw class dilemma for a Pixar movie), Forky get a crash course on his toyness from Woody, himself thrown by a life crisis resembling that of a retiree. B

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Film

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

‘Prepare for war,’ someone who knows Latin will tell you, if you ask about that subtitle, though it’s hardly necessary intel: In these gloriously dumb – but remarkably well-staged –gun-fu movies, the war is already here and it lasts the entire film. Maybe others like it when Keanu Reeves talks. He’s more effective when he moves. His somber suit-clad NYC assassin has become his signature role, stripping down ‘Speed’ and ‘The Matrix’ into something John Woo sleek. Mob thugs killed his pet pit bull in the first film. Those guys are long gone. Even though the latest John Wick brings on the usual distractions – Ian McShane’s fruity boutique-hotel proprietor, Lawrence Fishburne’s king of the Bowery underworld, Halle Berry as a lady with vicious dogs that leap straight for the crotch – mostly these characters stay out of the way. We’re here for the rigorously conceived, blessedly coherent takedowns, the work of director Chad Stahelski (also Reeves’s longtime stunt double and choreographer). Stahelski is a fight-scene Fosse and Reeves is his Gwen Verdon: ‘Parabellum’ takes the hall-of-mirrors high style of the second film and pushes it into overdrive. The level of hard-R-rated bloodletting is so delirious, you’ll smile at how bad it is for you. A closed Manhattan Bridge is the perfect site for a sword duel on speeding motorcycles. Put Wick on a horse and he’s more of a menace than John Wayne on a grouchy day. In one fight, so many knives are flung, they need to use a corpse for a pi

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Film

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

If you know your Psyduck from your Squirtle, this one may already be on your most-anticipated list for the year. For Pokémon devotees, it ticks all the boxes, from the moment it opens with a grazing Cubone (a pocket monster who wears a skull as a hat – cuter than it sounds) and introduces Ryme City, a place where humans and Pokémon live in harmonious incomprehension. If you aren’t one of those people, imagine watching ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ after a PCP binge and you’ll get the idea. The dense plot involves genetically mutated Pokémon, a Spielberg-y missing dad and a sinister corporation. Into the mix comes loner Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), who discovers he can talk to Pikachu, the ex-partner of his missing cop dad. Ryan Reynolds provides the furry sleuth’s voice and has a ball, chucking around inappropriate one-liners (‘Are you going to make me into a lampshade?’) with giddy abandon. If the final act is a bit dull and the anarchic Reynolds factor ends up muzzled, director Rob Letterman makes sure not to lose that self-aware edge altogether, while providing enough Pokémon Easter eggs to satisfy the most demanding fan. He’s also helped invent a whole new movie genre: cuddly noir. 

Time Out says
3 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