MOVIE REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT (Robert Schwentke, 2016)

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My notes on The Divergent Series: Allegiant:

1. I have no patience for any movie where lovers still have time to kiss, make-out, and whisper sweet nothings to each other all while in the face of danger. If an enemy base is under attack, everyone’s on red alert, and you are both trying to escape, there is just no time for landian. Get your asses out of there and use your Victoria Court privilege card (with complimentary chicken after the first 12 hours) as soon as you’re free. Being based on a Young Adult novel is still no excuse.

2. It’s not really a requirement to see Divergent and Insurgent before seeing this one, but it would sure help. At least you won’t be like the noisy girls in front of me that would gasp at non-revelations (when Theo James’ Four called Naomi Watts’ Evelyn “mother”) and ponder on basic plot points previously discussed (“Ano yung mga factions? Paano kung gusto niya lumipat?”). They should be thankful I was Team Amity that day and I had no patience to drag them out of the theater and conduct a Theater Etiquette lecture.

3. I still couldn’t get over the fact that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort played siblings Tris and Caleb in this series. Whenever they stared at each other, I would always remember the scene where Hazel Grace mounted Augustus and they made PG-13 love with nose tubes and all. This movie was so bad that I would have preferred to see them instead in a lame The Fault in Our Stars sequel where their dead characters meet in heaven and read An Imperial Affliction on a park bench.

4. The wall-climbing scene reminded me so much of that tense-filled moment in Jurassic Park where Sam Neill and the two kids only had a few seconds to go over a high electric fence. Only here it wasn’t that exciting and I just said meh. And when a character was killed after, I was like meh. (Yes, this movie temporarily turned me into a goat.)

5. If Tris ever joined The Hunger Games (or if you’re a hipster, Battle Royale), she would be the first to get slaughtered. I laughed really hard whenever Shailene had to run because she looked really funny and wobbly and slow. Did she forget to take her vitamins that day?

6. I kinda liked the Mad Max-inspired bleeding rain dystopian scenes. I have always feared acid rain ever since I read about it in our first and only volume of Collier’s Encyclopedia (long story short, my mother just couldn’t say no to the nice salesman so she agreed to buy one volume because that was all she was willing to spend or maybe what she could afford that time and we ended up owning only Vol. 1 “A-B”).

7. I am tired of this double standard requirement of having women in nude shower scenes. Why couldn’t it have been Theo or Ansel (or heck, even Miles Teller’s Peter)? Right?

8. Wouldn’t it be great to have bar codes on our arms and it would serve as our personal information database instead? At least we won’t need to bring a license and passport whenever we’re asked to present two valid IDs. It would also save us the time of endlessly lining up in the SSS/NBI/GSIS/PRC offices.

9. Tris had to wear white all the time to show everyone that she was pure. Which was funny because after all of her make-out sessions, she couldn’t even wear white to her wedding.

10. For a supposedly high-tech facility run by the top tier, the Bureau had terrible security and the most inept personnel. The central elevator was compromised and yet Four was still able to reach the hundredth floor penthouse. Soldiers kept dropping like flies while none of the Divergent gang were even injured. In one scene, Jeff Daniels’ David used a simulator to harass Tris and proclaim that he had full control on all doors and room access, and yet all Tris had to do was shoot a wall to destroy the target. How lame could this movie get?

11. Could someone explain how those green protection fields worked? How could the Divergents’ bullets go through when they were the ones firing the guns and yet it shields them from gunfire of enemies? Was it a one-way shield? This had been bugging me since yesterday. Help!

12. “There can be no change without sacrifice, no peace without struggle. The world doesn’t work like that.” Tell us something we don’t know.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

MOVIE REVIEW: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (Johannes Roberts, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Other Side of the Door:

1. Mothers always make the toughest decisions in movies. Whenever a mother of two kids gets involved in an accident with them, you can expect a Sophie’s Choice moment where she has to decide and save (and therefore show her bias/favoritism/put more importance to) a specific child. She’s then subjected to endless guilt and shame on top of the overwhelming feeling of loss.

I last saw this happen in the local horror flick Amorosa where Angel Aquino had to decide if she should save Enrique Gil or Martin del Rosario. Tough call, right?

2. In this movie, Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori of The Walking Dead) was placed in the same situation and the consequences of her choice made her desperate to do anything to communicate again with the son that she lost. An Indian woman advised her that she could do this in an abandoned temple between the dead and the living (huh?) as long as she didn’t open the door (insert Ate Gay joke here) and let out the spirits saying hello from the other side (insert Adele joke here). Since this was a horror movie, you knew that door will be opened.

3. Why are most of the (good) scary stories set in Asia? Even Hollywood remakes tried to bring back the stories to their original settings because it just seemed more natural. The Grudge sent Sarah Michelle Gellar back to Japan. Even the recent horror flick The Forest had to use a Suicide Forest in Japan. (Wait, I’m visiting Tokyo soon. Should I be scared?) It must be the exoticism of the region that just made it more mystical. (FYI, this movie was an exception. Completely horrible.)

4. Most of the scenes were too dark that it was hard to see the apparently horrific things happening onscreen. The sound effects cued every scare, but nothing worked.

5. Do you still remember Flower Girl from Sukob? The one who reminded siblings not to get married on the same year? The one who left a trail of leaves whenever she made a surprise appearance? The only one that successfully killed Kris Aquino outside of her massacre movies? She has finally conquered Hollywood. I’m so proud of her!

6. I remember reading this short horror story where a father was trying to pacify his crying son who was saying that a monster was under his bed. When he peeked under, he saw his real son who shushed him and said that there was another boy on his bed. That was a real goosebumps moment. The movie tried to incorporate a similar scene but it was nowhere near as effective.

7. After an hour of terrorizing the family, how did they get rid of the ghost? The mother begged him to go away. Eh puwede naman pala pakiusapan jusko!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: GODS OF EGYPT (Alex Proyas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Gods of Egypt:

1. Although I was more fond of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, I was also very fascinated with the Egyptian mythology. I probably enjoyed The Mummy series more than I should have only because of the inclusion of deities like Amun-Ra and Anubis.

I loved the excessive elegance of ancient Egyptian civilization (the majestic Pyramids and Sphinx, the lavish ornaments and costumes, the riveting lives of Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra, etc.). I even had a period in my life where I would always eat grapes while sprawled on the couch pretending that I was being fed by servants.

2. Oh, so gold was running through the veins of these gods instead of blood. Forget dugong bughaw. I want to be a dugong ginto. I would just bleed myself every now and then and I would never have to work another day in my life. (The groaning sound you just heard was from my very disappointed parents.)

Besides, who wouldn’t want to be showered with petals everywhere you went? (“Mga alipin, pupunta ako ng Southmall. Isaboy ang mga kalachuchi!”)

3. The movie received a lot of backlash for its whitewashed cast (even if its bigger problem was the lack of a coherent story). I was indeed confused since Brendon Thwaites with his curly locks and toned body (and aptly named Bek) looked like a Greek twink that just came from a month-long escapade from Prague. Jamie Lannister and King Leonidas played dueling gods and even Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush was here playing the bald cousin of Gandalf.

4. Have you all seen that cult classic Dark City? It was an outstanding sci-fi thriller about a man framed for murders that he couldn’t remember committing (and now that I had thought about it, sounded like a chronological variation of Memento). It was also directed by Alex Proyas and starred Rufus Sewell. I also had no idea what they were doing in this awful mess.

5. As a kid, I loved playing with flying beetles, more popularly known as salagubang. I would tie a string on one of its legs and twirl it like an out-of-control balloon. If you tied two of them on opposite ends, you would actually create a pinwheel effect. (I’m so sorry, PETA!)

The giant salagubangs in this movie looked more fun to play (or ride) with. Of course, I was more amazed with the beast that looked a giant vagina with teeth, but that would be a different playtime story.

6. Ooh, SilverHawks! Wait, that should have been GoldenHawks.

7. Apparently in the afterlife, there was a group of Cebuana Lhuillier alaheras that will determine your entry to the cosmos door (or whatever) so one had to be rich or your soul will get pulverized. I noticed that one side of the weights only had a feather and the trinkets just had to be heavier than that. I guess Tita Annabelle Rama’s place in the afterlife is more than secured.

8. Over two hours? Really? Talk about a GGSS movie.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: ROOM (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Room:

1. If I were ever kidnapped by a cult and kept in an underground room or any tight, secluded space for the remainder of my life, I would immediately die within the first 48 hours from asphyxiation. Even the thought of it made me reach out for my inhaler. I had always been claustrophobic with the terrible luck of often getting trapped in elevators. My worst experiences involved long-haul flights inside the most spacious airplanes (and not even the strongest Benadryl could knock me out).

2. This movie reminded me so much of my favorite TV show of 2015, the hilarious Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where a kidnapped woman reclaimed her freedom and slowly adjusted to her new life after 15 years of living in seclusion. Sadly, Room was no laughing matter and the pain and trauma felt by the mother and son victims were completely harrowing and depressing.

3. I loved how the film began with little Jack (played by the terrific Jacob Tremblay) saying good morning to everything inside the said room (“Hello plant! Hello chair!”). It was a clear sign that he had already adjusted in that cramped space and considered it his only world. Aside from his limited books and toys, his sources of entertainment were the old TV showing reruns of Dora the Explorer and the small skylight separating them from the outside world (which didn’t even exist for him). As an observer, it was really hard not to feel sadness, but also amazement by this kind of innocence.

4. The brilliant (now Oscar winner) Brie Larson played Ma, the dutiful mother held captive by a stranger and now struggling to keep the two of them alive while shielding him from the harsh realities of the world. When she decided to free themselves on Jack’s fifth birthday, I immediately understood all those nights of reading The Count of Monte Cristo and Alice in Wonderland.

5. I wasn’t at all surprised that Jack didn’t want to leave his tiny world. I got why he threw a tantrum and defended that the room wasn’t stinky and was only such whenever Ma farted. The succeeding scenes showing them planning his escape (with a fiery shouting match) was completely heartbreaking.

6. I usually do not get excited in thrillers but I was literally on the edge of my seat during that escape sequence. It was so tense that people really screamed inside the theater. By the time Jack saw the sky for the first time, I was sobbing hysterically.

7. Brie’s parents here were William H. Macy and Joan Allen. With those genes, no wonder she was such a good actress.

8. After the adrenaline rush, I’m sure a lot of people will get turned off by the slow second half depicting the long-term effects and trauma of the captivity. I actually loved that part more because it showed all of the emotions and humanity of Ma and Jack and the other people around them (e.g. Ma’s father could not accept that Jack was a consequence of rape). One of the most painful realizations was when Ma got probed if she should have released Jack instead, saving him from further damage, and she accepted with much guilt that she wanted him to stay with her and that was the better (albeit selfish) decision.

9. “We all help each other stay strong. Nobody’s strong alone.”

10. I believe it was Jessica Zafra who mentioned that this kind of situation will never happen in our country given the nosy neighbors that we all have, where even our personal business is everyone’s business. As soon as they see someone going to a shed every day, tongues will start wagging and an investigation will immediately start. Hooray for our resident chismosas!

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: THE CHOICE (Ross Katz, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Choice:

1. Nicholas Sparks movies should now be classified as cinematic junk food, alongside Michael Bay blockbusters and Adam Sandler comedies. They have low nutritional brain value, usually with excessive cheese or sugar, and should never be consumed in high doses unless you want severely clogged arteries. I guess that’s also why we only get one (or max two) of them every year to enjoy. Anything more than that would be lethal.

2. This one followed the same Sparks formula from beginning to end and your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance level for cornball entertainment and three-hankie weepie conflicts. Here’s a Sparks movie checklist for reference:

• Usually set in a Southern town, preferably a coastal village (increasing the chances of a sappy boat ride scene, fyi, Ikaw with Sharon Cuneta and Ariel Rivera did it much better)

• Two young lovers that are direct opposites will still fall in love with each other and undergo self-realization and acceptance (most likely with a love triangle or square, for them to fight for their love)

• Rain, lots and lots of rain, where our lovers will run in, make tampisaw, heavily kiss or fornicate under without any fear of getting pneumonia

• Love notes and love letters will still be used in this time of iMessage and emails because they are just so romantic

• The vehicle of choice would be a pick-up truck or a motorcycle because they are darn masculine and sexy

• Possible meet-up at a town fair and may include a ferris wheel ride as needed

• Empty platitudes that the viewers can quote and tweet about after

• Lastly, any form of tragedy that will be introduced in the third act to ensure a downpour of tears (death through leukemia, cancer, Alzheimer’s, a car accident, war, state of coma)

3. It was funny seeing a religious girl (with a boyfriend) talk about her faith and then flirt with another guy who’s also in a relationship. Since the movie was asking us to root for these destined lovers, we were asked to hate on the faithful boyfriend for being busy in his work as a doctor. Are you kidding? This was just hypocrisy at its finest.

4. The best part of the movie were the really cute dogs, whether they were the basket of puppies or the fully-grown pets. One thing I learned was that you should never name the fresh litter because it would be hard to give them up for adoption. This should be good news for my future puppies especially since I usually give them generic names like Bubbles or Spot regardless of gender or actual spots on their skin.

5. I sobbed my eyes out when the line “I wish I could breathe for you” was uttered. And then the puka shell chimes signaled a change of fate and I started cheering with the rest of the audience. Pure cheese, I’m warning you.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆