Why I Enjoyed: Hacksaw Ridge

This is a spoiler-free article. 

Hi reader! How are you? It’s been 4 months since I wrote to you through this blog, and the last time I did, I was telling you about some upcoming movies. Can’t believe more than a quarter of a year has passed again, but today, I’m going to be talking about one of those movies that has recently hit the shores of my country. It has been the talk of the town and especially among my friends in the past few weeks. By now, you would know that this film is none other than Hacksaw Ridge.

Starring Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge is a film that tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian who served as a combat medic during World War II – never using a single weapon.

This was the first film I’ve watched in 2017 and I had zero regrets doing so. If you haven’t caught it, I highly recommend you to do so. Here’s why.

1. It’s very Real

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“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.”

This is a film about real people and real events. It’s about war. And though I’m not a fan of gore, I must say that the depiction of war in this film is very real. You could just feel a heaviness in your heart as you watch it. What a reminder to us that hate, violence and conflict is never fun or a solution without cost.

2. It’s Engaging

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“While everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it.”

As soon as you step into the cinema and the film starts, you’ll be hooked. That’s exactly how I felt. If you think only the battle sequences will grip you, you will be pleasantly surprised that that’s not the case. From the start to the end, I was fully engaged (you can ask my friends who were beside me). It is an intense war film yes, but it is also one with a compelling story.

3. It talks about Love

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“Please Lord, help me get one more.”

Even though Hacksaw Ridge isn’t a romance film, it is still essentially a film about love. There are a handful of tender moments between Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer’s onscreen characters, but more than that, this is a film about a man’s love for God and the lives of others before anything else, even before himself.

4. It talks about Convictions

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“I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.”

If there’s one word I can use to describe this film, I think I would choose “inspiring” above any other word. And that is mostly because of the portrayal of Desmond Doss’ unwavering convictions. Without spoiling the details so that you can be inspired firsthand, all I can say is, go watch the movie yourself!

5. It honors real world Heroes

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“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”

Probably one of the best things that I loved about this film is how it gave honor to one of the greatest heroes in our history. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in what Desmond Doss believed in. He’s still a hero. And I’m glad that that are people celebrating him and his deeds even today. Because what we celebrate we elevate. If we stop honoring our heroes, soon we will not have heroes left to honor.

Have you watched Hacksaw Ridge? If not, go catch it with your family and friends this weekend!

The Movies of Q4 2016

Once again, another quarter of the year is around the corner. And with it, comes many more movies we all want to watch. In fact, I think these next three months could be the most exciting season for movies this year, judging by the amount of movies I am looking forward to. There are in total 12 (the most there has been on my quarterly watch list this year) films that I think would end off 2016 pretty well! Here are the reasons why I am going to the cinema this holiday season between October and the end of December.

The Accountant

This year seems to have been a really busy year for Ben Affleck, in a good way. After appearing in Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, the actor is going to appear in yet another three films in the next one year. More than that, he is going to direct one of it as well as the upcoming Batman movie which he is also starring in. The Accountant will be the latest film to feature his talents as an actor and I think the film has an interesting vibe to it and I can’t wait to see it. Watch the trailer above.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Tom Cruise is back and he still doesn’t look his age. Taking on the role of Jack Reacher once again, he gets involved in what seems to be a conspiracy and must uncover it to clear the name of a friend. From the trailer, I honestly think that we will see one of the coolest cinematic heroes of the year from this movie. That confidence and that skill is just epic.

Doctor Strange

As you all would know, every installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets me pumped. And this is no different for Doctor Strange. What’s more, the cast looks amazing. We have Benedict Cumberbatch, one of my favorite actors playing the titular character! What did we do to deserve this? LOL. But jokes aside, I am excited to see a new hero on the big screen, and the film just feels very different from the rest of the MCU films. I can’t wait to see how it’s going to affect and shift the universe around it.

Hacksaw Ridge

Once in awhile, you get one of those films that teaches you something and inspires you. Hacksaw Ridge looks to be that kind of film. Starring Andrew Garfield, the film tells the true story of Desmond T. Doss, an American soldier who refused to use any weapon or to kill during his service in World War II. I can’t wait to see The Amazing Spider-Man actor once again, but most of all, a movie about staying true to your personal convictions would be something I’ll definitely watch.

Arrival

2016 has so many science-fiction films, I’m not even complaining. If you thought that movies like Independence Day and Star Trek are the last of movies like these that we will see in 2016, you’re wrong. I love Sci-Fi movies and would gladly watch a good one any day. So that is why I am happy to say that there are three more science-fiction films to watch just in these next three months alone! The first one is Arrival, and unlike the action packed spectacles we have seen this year, it looks really different and intriguing.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter was my childhood as much as I know it is for most of you reading this. So you would understand the nostalgia that you get while watching the trailer for Fantastic Beasts right? Especially when the recognizable soundtrack plays? How can we miss this film? It is a spin-off and prequel to one of our favorite stories! Set in the same universe as the Harry Potter series, but in an earlier era, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is probably one of the most anticipated films of the year. Got to catch it!

Moana

Walt Disney Animation Studios are back! It seemed like only yesterday that we were talking about Zootopia, and now we have another Disney animated film on the horizon. But I am happy though. It is like a blessing to have two Disney animated films in one year alone. What’s more, it seems that Disney has been doing a consistently good job with their recent animated features. From Frozen to Big Hero 6 to Zootopia, all of these films were so different in concept and plot, yet Disney delivered. I believe that Moana will be the same. New idea, new story, new princess and The Rock. What could go wrong?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The exciting movies just keep coming and coming, doesn’t it? We have Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter and now we have Star Wars. What a crazy last quarter of the year it will be. Rogue One tells A Star Wars Story that takes place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars saga. If you’re a fan of Star Wars like me, you would know what I am talking about. If not, go watch some Star Wars. You know not how exciting life as a Star Wars fan has been since The Force Awakens last year. And the best thing is that it’ll continue for years to come.

Collateral Beauty

Imagine being able to meet Love, Time & Death as actual people and having a conversation with them. How would your life change? This movie explores that idea and looks really profound; the trailer gave me the chills. If there is a movie that I will watch this Christmas season (other than Star Wars), it will be this one. Love the cast, love the ideas and love the setting. A must-watch for me.

Assassin’s Creed

To all the gamers out there, I know this is one movie you’re looking forward to. Personally, I enjoyed Warcraft earlier this year, so I’m hoping that Assassin’s Creed will be good too or even better! This will be my second time seeing Michael Fassbender this year after X-Men: Apocalypse, and I am looking forward to seeing a cool performance from him as well. To the general crowd, yes, Assassin’s Creed is a video game. And now, it’s going to become a movie too.

Sing

Disney isn’t the only one that are releasing two animated movies this year. The makers of Despicable Me who are most recently known for The Secret Life of Pets, are going to give us another treat in the world of animations. Sing looks to be a movie about chasing your dreams and has a lot of singing too! It’s like The X Factor with animated animals and a story. Haha, looks like we are going to be occupied with animated films this holiday – Moana on Thanksgiving and Sing on Christmas.

Passengers

Remember what I said just now about science-fiction films? Here’s another one, and probably the last one that will be released this year in the Sci-Fi genre. While Arrival has a mysterious and dramatic feel to it, and Rogue One feels big and epic, Passengers comes in to offer a different taste of a science-fiction thriller. Starring beloved actors Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, it seems to be one heck of a ride. And honestly, if this is the last film I will watch this year, I don’t think I’ll mind at all.

So what do you think? Isn’t the last quarter of 2016 the highlight in terms of movies? Let me know what movies you would include in your “must-watch” list!

A Year of Writing: Fool’s Bench

Hello readers! Like I’ve said before, time really flies. Exactly a year ago on this day, I announced and launched Fool’s Bench with my first 4 posts. And since then, it has become a weekly rhythm of mine to write something fun or inspiring to just share it with all of you.

At times, ideas came easy and I would have a lot to write about. On other occasions, I struggled to even type a word. But no matter what, I am so glad and thankful for all the support and encouragement I got in the past year from my friends and readers – you.

Thank you for your kind words, affirmation and comments every single week. It is because of you that I know I am making a little difference through the Internet. And that keeps me writing.

So I can’t believe it, but this is my 63rd post! And what’s a better way to celebrate this day than to look back at some (well, actually 30 lol) of the posts that were written here in the past year? Come on, let’s travel back to a year ago. 😄

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Written exactly a year ago at the launch of Fool’s Bench, this post describes what my church is to me.
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Originally a sermon by Pastor Lia, “Ambidextrous Faith” talks about having faith in our battles and finding strength in God.
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One of my first few attempts at writing something creative, haha.
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Written out of a personal revelation, this post shows you from just ONE chapter alone, how amazing the Word of God can be.
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On Thanksgiving last year, I wrote about my incredible pastors & leaders in church.
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One of my personal favorites, “Star Wars for Beginners” is to this date, the most read article on Fool’s Bench.
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Never too late to read my first post of 2016.
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My favorite movies from 2015!
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Memories.
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More than just a song.
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“Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.”
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“You never get what you want in life. You only get what you prepare for.”
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“Why I Enjoyed” is a series of posts where I talk casually about recent movies I’ve watched. “Zootopia” is still one of the best in 2016.
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On Good Friday, I wrote a short post about our imperfect world and what we can do about it.
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The April Fools’ joke that pranked hundreds of people.
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Every 3 months, I write about upcoming movies that I am looking forward to.
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I believe. Do you?
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A post dedicated to Pastor Lia on her birthday this year.
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This is the second guide that I’ve written about a fictional universe. I’m such a geek.
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Don’t just breathe. Live.
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One of the funniest posts I’ve written. Or at least I think so.
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The 50th post on Fool’s Bench.
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First post after a one-month break. These people are awesome.
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Witness how “funny” me and my friends are.
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Could our current pain have a future purpose?
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Heroes can rise out of the most unlikeliest of places.
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Probably the most read post so far in 2016, this post like the movie, was a surprise hit among my friends.
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A new series of short posts that literally kills time with jokes – around 1 minute to be specific.
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Give with the right heart; give cheerfully.
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The last post of Year One describes the journey of a dream.

And that’s it for Year One of Fool’s Bench! Once again, thank you for reading and sharing, and I’ll see you in the next post. 😉

Why I Enjoyed: Train to Busan

In case you’re wondering, this post is spoiler free.

It’s been a week since Train to Busan has been released in my country and it has already gained widespread recognition among critics and audiences. Almost everybody that I know of that have watched the movie recommends it. So of course, I got very excited and decided to catch it with some friends as well! And I did not regret it at all. Train to Busan is not your ordinary typical zombie film, and here’s why I enjoyed it so much.

1. It is not THAT scary

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As a person that can’t stand horror at all, I was pleasantly surprised to know that Train to Busan is more of a thriller than it is a horror movie. And that is why I even went to the cinema to catch it at all! While a lot of zombie films are horrifying, the “scare” factor isn’t the focus in this one. Just think Jurassic Park, but take away the Velociraptors and replace them with zombies. That’s the kind of thrill I am talking about. But I must say though, there are a few jump scares cleverly placed throughout the movie. 😄

2. It is watchable

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Gore is something that is frequently associated with zombie films and video games. And for some people like myself, it can be discomforting if brought to the extreme (even though the show/movie can be really good). Thankfully, Train to Busan balances out the amount of violence  & bloodshed, and tones it down a little bit in that area. Hence, it does not feature over-the-top graphic violence and gore, making the ride a little nicer. Oops, no pun intended. 😉

3. It engages you from start to finish

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Train to Busan isn’t just watchable, it is great. And that is because it keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time. Like I said, this movie is essentially a thriller. And I must say, it has done the “thrilling” part super well. Literally, from the moment the on-screen chaos breaks out to the very last frame of the movie, your heart is kept beating quickly and your adrenaline left rushing as you are immersed in the intense situations the characters are put in.

4. It is touching and emotional

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The reason why Train to Busan awed me is because it is different from many of the zombie films that I know of. If you think only romance films or family films can touch you and make you cry, be prepared to be proven wrong. Train to Busan shows that zombie films can hold more than just horror and thrill. Expect K-drama levels of emotions, people.

5. It features awesome actors as great characters

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One of the best things about the story of Train to Busan is probably its characters. They display both the worst and the best of humanity. The evil ones show us how the zombies might not be the real monsters in the movie while the good ones show us how selflessness is what it means to be human. You will hate a few characters but also love certain other characters.

So if you’re looking for a movie to watch this weekend, this is a good one to experience. Catch the Train to Busan for a thrilling yet emotional ride.

Heroes

As soon as the word “hero” pops up, a few individuals/characters would come to your mind. If you’re a DC fan, you would probably be thinking Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. If you’re a Marvelite, I would guess Captain America, Iron Man or Spider-Man would be some of many heroes that you will think of.

Or you could possibly be leaning towards more of Japanese manga and anime type heroes such as Goku, Naruto or One Punch Man? All the gamers here would probably mention protagonists such as Link, Master Chief or Nathan Drake. How about all the Trekkies out there? Maybe Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are your favorite heroes? Star Trek Beyond is awesome by the way; go watch it if you haven’t!

And of course for all the Star Wars fans reading this, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or even Darth Vader would be your go-to in terms of heroic figures. Or perhaps you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond, Indiana Jones, The Hunger Games😄

The list goes on and on and on. And it seems like there is no end to the number of characters we can think of in the fictional world who all share common heroic traits! But today, these are not the heroes I want to talk about. And neither am I going to talk about famous real life people in history who have done heroic things that made the world a better place.

Because while the first heroes we are reminded of are always the ones that are strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, has a unique look and personality, has a special set of abilities, had great adventures and fights evil, I want to look at another type of hero apart from the ones we are familiar with, a type that might possibly point towards a certain reader looking at this post right now – the unlikely hero.

For all the Christians here, we read the Bible and we see the men of God who has lived before us. And if we want to talk about heroes, you would immediately think of great men like David who slayed giants, men like Moses who parted the Red Sea, and men like Paul who spread the Gospel far and wide.

And sometimes we can focus so much on their heroic deeds that we forget that actually, many of the great men chosen by God didn’t start out that great at all. David was young and inexperienced, Moses couldn’t even speak properly and Paul was anti-Christian! These men were all (less than) ordinary and were the most unlikely to be used by God for His purpose and yet God still picked them. See? Unlikely heroes.

Another unlikely hero in the Bible is a man named Gideon. And you must be thinking “who is this guy?” or “what does he have that God would choose him to be His hero?” Well I guess by now you wouldn’t be surprised, but honestly he didn’t really have much! In fact, all he had to offer when God sent an angel to him are these 4 things: worries, insecurities, doubts and fears! 😛

Haha if you don’t believe me, you can take a look at the scriptures in Judges 6:11-24. It is clearly written that Gideon asked questions in worry and doubt and didn’t even believe that God was there with him when an angel was literally standing in front of him. It is almost hilarious just reading all that.

But jokes aside, maybe some of you who are reading this are feeling the exact 4 things that Gideon was feeling. You can totally relate to him. Maybe deep down on the inside you know that the life you’re living now isn’t all there is to life. Maybe you feel that you are meant for greater things. Or maybe God Himself has even given you a great dream and a vision.

No matter what it is, you are hesitant to follow your heart, to chase after your dreams or to obey God. You ask yourself questions in worry, insecurity, doubt and fear. “What if I fail? How can it be that God has called me? Why would He choose me? Am I really strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, good-looking, talented, experienced and holy enough to be used by God?”

Well, if you are having thoughts similar to the ones above and completely understand Gideon’s feelings, I have great news for you. You are a person with an incredibly high potential of becoming a hero for God, albeit an unlikely one. 😉

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27

Here’s the thing. God doesn’t see the way we do, He doesn’t see the way the world does. We might have tons of worries, but God doesn’t. We just got to learn to listen to His voice and obey it. In reference to the previous scriptures in Judges 6, God didn’t even take Gideon’s worries into account and just told him to rescue Israel from its enemies! We just have to see from God’s perspective and His word will triumph over our worries.

To us, we might think that we are not the heroic type and don’t have much to offer in terms of making a difference in the world. We might feel insecure even and disqualify ourselves from becoming the person that God has created us to be. But God sees beyond all that. He sees beyond all the insecurity – a hero within. He would rather pick a person that seems to have nothing but is humble, than another who has everything and is boastful.

It’s interesting how the angel of God addresses Gideon as a “mighty hero” even before he has done anything heroic. We might not see anything mighty or heroic about ourselves, but I believe that God is seeing a mighty hero within us just as He did in Gideon. Humans might only see problems in their lives, but God sees otherwise. We see our problems but God sees our potential.

What else? Maybe today you are doubting God. You doubt the dreams, visions and promises He has placed in you. Or maybe you doubt yourself. You doubt that you have the ability to do anything significant. It doesn’t matter, just know this. Our doubts do not deny God’s divinity.

Just like how the law of gravity, no matter how much you try to doubt it, cannot be denied, God is the same. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Our doubts cannot change the fact that He is real and has chosen us to be His unlikely heroes.

But maybe even after knowing all that, you still fear what’s to come. You know what, if you need peace, just invite God into your life and whatever situation that you’re in. Because God doesn’t just bring peace, He is peace.

“So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.” – Judges 6:27

So how did Gideon become a hero despite everything he was feeling and the low chances he had? He took a leap of faith. You see, faith isn’t the absence of worries, insecurities, doubts or fears. Faith is having the courage and desire to see from God’s perspective and to make a move forward despite all that. Read the verse above, it is clear that Gideon was still afraid when he obeyed God’s command! But it didn’t stop him.

Today no matter what stands against you, take the leap of faith. God is looking for more unlikely heroes in our generation. You can be one of them.

If you don’t yet know Jesus, take that first leap of faith to believe in Him. I can’t talk about heroes without mentioning the true superhero of the world – Jesus Christ. He was sent to our world to save us from our sins. He died for us and rose again to give us an abundant life, a life where anything is possible – including becoming heroes. But we got to first have faith and believe.

Truly in God, heroes can rise out of the most unlikeliest of places.

[Inspired by The Unlikely Hero, a sermon by Garrett Lee of Heart of God Church.]

SDCC 2016: Trailers You Can’t Miss

Last weekend, the annual San Diego Comic-Con was held once again and was the platform for many big announcements and reveals. And if you know me, you would know that one thing I look forward to the most every SDCC is the release of new trailers for upcoming movies! This year, it is no different. So here are my personal favorites from SDCC 2016 that you got to watch if you haven’t.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Kong: Skull Island


Wonder Woman


Justice League


Doctor Strange


What a weekend it was for all of us moviegoers and comic book fans. The hype is real! 😎😄

The Movies of Q3 2016

Time really flies! The last time we talked about movies, we were in the first half of 2016. But today as we speak, we are already in the second half of the year! In fact, we find ourselves in its third quarter. So in continuation with my quarterly habit of looking at upcoming movies, I bring you now the list of films I am looking forward to seeing in Q3 of 2016. Here are a few exciting ones that I want to catch between now and the end of September.

1. The BFG

Chances are if you have ever read children’s books before when you were younger, you would have heard or seen the name of Roald Dahl. I mean when I was in primary school, all the bookworms in class would be reading at least one of his books. Then when I went to the school library, I would see “Roald Dahl” all over the shelves. If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory rings a bell to you, then you would definitely know this successful author. The BFG which stands for “Big Friendly Giant”, is also a book written by Dahl. And now, it is has been adapted and brought to life on the big screen.

2. Star Trek Beyond

The last time we saw Chris Pine, he was leading a rescue mission with the U.S Coast Guard in The Finest Hours. Now, watch as he captains a starship in the third film of the science-fiction franchise – Star Trek. I got to be honest; I am totally new to Star Trek and have yet to see any of the films or television series nor read any of the books. But I am so stoked to catch up on what I’ve missed so far just to be able to watch Star Trek Beyond better. Science-fiction films like these are the bomb, guys.

3. The Secret Life of Pets

The creators of Despicable Me and its popular minions are back with a brand new animated film – The Secret Life of Pets. As I watched the trailers for the movie, I can’t help but find the visuals so stunning, the concept so fresh and the characters so humorous. Compared to the other animation studios or companies like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, Illumination is relatively new and young so I can’t wait to see what else they have to bring to the world of animated films.

4. Skiptrace

Jackie Chan is back! What more is there to say? No one blends action and comedy as well as our childhood hero even at his current age of 62. Personally, I grew up watching a lot of Jackie Chan and I can still remember up to this day that apart from all his films, one of my favorite cartoons as a boy was Jackie Chan Adventures! So obviously from that, you would know why I am so excited to see Jackie again; he just offers this unique flavor to the more than 100 films that he has starred in. And besides, it’s been more than 2 years since we last saw him in a live-action movie! Can’t wait.

5. Jason Bourne

You know, James Bond isn’t the only “J.B” that is cool and dangerous okay? And no, I am not talking about Johor Bahru or Justin Bieber even though they are cool in their own ways. I am talking about Jason Bourne. After 9 long years, Matt Damon finally returns as the titular character in the well-received spy action thriller series. So as you can see, anticipation is at an all-time high for this movie.

6. Suicide Squad

2016 is a strange year when superheroes clash and villains unite. We can see the former in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, while the latter will be exhibited in the upcoming Suicide Squad. As the third installment in the DC Extended Universe, the film uses a concept that is rarely seen – having the villains as the main characters of a movie. Personally, I just want to see Batman against the Joker again, and also how this film fits into the whole DCEU. So just imagine the Avengers.. but with weird and psychotic people.

7. Pete’s Dragon

So how do you train your dragon? In the real world? The answer is you can’t – well, at least not in peace. A remake of the 1977 film of the same name, Pete’s Dragon seems to have a fresh and interesting tale to tell. Man, Disney is really on a roll this year with their name on film after film and with many more coming up! Just in this post alone, there are three of them! Continue reading to find out about the third one (and that isn’t even the last one in 2016!).

8. Queen of Katwe

Being on a constant “quest” to widen the range of movies that I watch, I find myself in the cinemas this year catching romance films, thrillers and comedies (which I didn’t used to watch as much). In the next three months however, I am going to challenge myself to watch a biographical drama film in the form of Queen of Katwe. And anyways, it is going to be a breath of fresh air with the movies I’m watching and also looks inspiring. So why not?

9. The Magnificent Seven

This last movie in this list could possibly be the last movie I am going to watch before I go into the army. For all you non-Singaporeans reading this, just Google “National Service in Singapore”. And honestly if it is, if Magnificent Seven really happens to be that movie, I don’t think I’ll mind. Because so far, it looks good! With the cast, the setting and the plot that we currently know of, we have a potentially awesome Western film! And for me, it has been a long time since I’ve watched a Western film like that, so I’m looking forward to it. Plus, it looks really cool and has Chris Pratt in it. Can’t wait to see one of my favorite actors in recent years back in action again.

And so that is all for my personal list of movies that I would love to see in this third quarter of 2016! In fact, some of them has just been released in Singapore so I am probably going to go catch one or two of them in the coming week. But how about you? Do you have any movies that you would love to watch too but are not in this list? Let me know in the comments below! See you all again for our next list in October. 😉