‪SAKALING MAGING TAYO (JP Habac, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sakaling Maging Tayo:

1. For a romance film to work, I needed to fall in love with the love story. I should find myself rooting for the lovers and wishing that they end up together because they were meant for each other. It just didn’t happen here.

Pol (McCoy de Leon) spent an entire night in a mini Baguio tour with his long-time crush Malaya (Elisse Joson) and yet he couldn’t find time to buy medicine for a sick parent (Bembol Roco). At one point he actually drove past a Mercury Drug store and I expected some sort of product placement, but no, he had far more important things to deal with. The only time he remembered his father was when he got his heart broken and needed a shoulder to cry on. But still no medicine.

There was an overwhelming sense of pettiness with these characters and their love problems that triggered my inner Titas of Manila. I was that person in the theater making the loud “Tsk tsk!” noise while muttering “Kids these days…”.

2. I didn’t know much about Elisse outside of her Burger McDo commercial (I couldn’t even remember her in the camp classic #Ewankosau Saranghaeyo, or maybe I just tried to repress all memories of that movie) so I was pleasantly surprised with her naturally charming performance here. Her beauty and talent reminded me of early Bea Alonzo and I could see her as a future star if given a much better project (and in this case, better partner).

She had enough spunk to pull off corny lines like “Mahal ko ang mga bagay na di masyado napapansin” and the right amount of vulnerability to deliver the heartbreaking “Sorry, okay ka sana kaso di ako okay eh”. Instant fan here.

3. Chai Fonacier’s character was unfortunately named Erna. If I was named after the slang term for shit, why would I still let people call me thay? Why not say, Poopie? As always though, Chai was in a league of her own and made even a throwing up scene (how gross could this character get?) look like a bid for another Urian nomination. (Also, Black Sheep people, I expected better from you.)

4. With all of the things that the lovers and their friends were able to accomplish during that single night (they went in every possible hangout in Baguio that included a visit to the creepy Teacher’s Camp), this should have been called Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi… Ulit. In the end, Malaya was even able to catch the first bus trip out of the city. Oh, the wonders of cinema!

Pero ang ganda talaga ng Baguio at night. It once again served as a soothing backdrop that reminded me of that touching moment between Kiko and Yaya Diday in Kiko Boksingero. And speaking of, did Malaya live in the same house that was used in the horror-comedy Halik sa Hangin?

5. Two of the friends were gay characters so they obviously ended up together because they were probably the only two gay people that lived there. I suddenly remembered that episode in Sex and the City when Charlotte tried to set up a blind date between her gay bff Anthony and Carrie’s gay bff Stanford thinking that they were perfect for each other just because they were both gay. Uhh, not exactly how things worked, straight people. (Wait, didn’t the pair end up getting married in the movie sequel? More reasons not to like that stinker.)

6. Why was Malaya wearing the exact same dress that she was supposed to sleep in when she rushed to the club to confront her ex-boyfriend? Wala nang ligo-ligo kasi malamig naman sa Baguio?

7. So Pol brought his father’s taxi to the concert and Malaya mistook him as a cab driver. I really thought for a second that this would turn into The Night Of, but of course it didn’t because this was still a Star Cinema-ish movie.

8. Ang funny lang nung hipster jazz discussion (hello La La Land!) tapos biglang kumanta si Moira dela Torre in a succeeding scene. You know that 30-day Film Challenge where on a specific day you were supposed to name a movie where you liked the soundtrack more? This could be my entry. Sana soundtrack na lang talaga siya.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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TAKEN 3 (Olivier Megaton, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Taken 3:

1. I think the first Taken movie was an instant favorite of daughters everywhere. I’m sure it made them feel safe knowing the extent that their fathers would do to show their love for them. Consider it an action-packed version of Father of the Bride.

2. In this third movie, Liam Neeson displayed his love for his daughter by giving her a giant panda on her birthday. Her survival was more of an after-thought and everything else was just to save his reputation.

3. For the most part, this was actually a lame-brained version of The Fugitive. There was even a tunnel scene here reminiscent of that movie (homage?). All it needed was a one-armed man.

4. Speaking of the villain, it was hard to take him seriously with that Dumb and Dumber bowl cut. In one scene, he fought in his tighty-whities and his bulge (that would put Justin Bieber’s photoshopped Calvin Klein ads to shame) just proved to be a distraction. To some women, I mean.

5. Neeson’s character was asked, “Why do you have to be so honorable?” And therein lay my biggest problem with the entire movie.

In the first two, all the violence was driven by his agenda to save his daughter and wife. Here, he resorted to all kinds of violence even involving innocent people just to prove his own innocence.

One scene showed him causing a stampede in a college (really??). Why did he have to consider himself above the law when a simple trial would have proven his innocence? I just kept thinking, “Anong ipinaglalaban mo?”

6. Olivier Megaton also directed Transporter 3. His idea of an action sequence was to show the exact same scene of a flying truck container from five different angles. This could very well have been directed by Francis Jun Posadas.

7. Why was the MTRCB so strict when it came to sexuality but very lenient with violence? This movie where people got shot by all kinds of guns in all areas of the body just merited a Parental Guidance. Seriously, a PG-rating for excessive violence? Watching this with a kid a few rows behind me actually made me feel uncomfortable.

8. Whatever happened to Dougray Scott’s career? Ever since he passed on the role of Wolverine in the first X-Men movie, he hadn’t done anything significant to launch himself as a leading man. Unless you count his role as Teri Hatcher’s boyfriend in Desperate Housewives.

9. A lot of scenes here didn’t make any sense to me. He made his (pregnant) daughter drink a potion to make her nauseous when he could have just asked her to meet in the school bathroom at a specific time. In another scene, he used a defibrillator to attack henchmen just for the cool concept of seeing someone getting attacked with a defibrillator. And where did he get that anyway? Yet in another, he rammed his vehicle on the wheels of a plane that was about to take off even if his daughter who he was trying to save in the first place was onboard. Oh, and Forrest Whitaker (in the Tommy Lee Jones role) announced in the end that he knew that Neeson was innocent from the start because of his Warm Bagel Theory. So why did they go through all that goose chase? Oh, then we wouldn’t have a movie. Don’t bother.

10. Wait, who got taken??

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 18, 2015.)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Wolf of Wall Street:

1. I’m surprised McConaughey’s not getting any Oscar buzz for this movie. That 7-min restaurant aria was just brilliant.

2. I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time.

3. Sex, drugs, profanity. I’m just waiting for the violence to experience a full-blown Scorsese film.

4. DiCaprio’s basically playing a version of himself. No wonder he’s so great here. Probably his best performance to date.

5. I bet a lot of guys will envy that lighted red candle. LOL!

6. That cerebral palsy phase scene has to be one of the funniest I’ve seen all year. Who knew Leo can do great slapstick? Give him an Oscar.

7. Jonah Hill is slowly becoming one of my favorite actors. He does really great work in these intelligent movies.

8. I’m going out and buying the soundtrack.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 16, 2014.)

BUMBLEBEE (Travis Knight, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bumblebee:

1. Never thought l’d see the day that I would actually like a Transformers movie from the Michael Bay Non-Biodegradable Universe. How could I not be that pessimistic when this was the most revered film series in Razzie history? Revenge of the Fallen as Worst Picture? Definitely! Bay as Worst Director for Age of Extinction? Well-deserved! I only watched most of them out of pure nostalgia (and a self-diagnosed masochism, of course!). Unsurprisingly, the best entry (so far) only needed a director not named Michael Bay.

2. Although it still contained a huge amount of robot on robot action (that reminded me so much of the 4D ride in Universal Studios Singapore), more time was spent on the blossoming friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie Watson (Academy Award nominee and certified #PinoyFried Hailee Steinfeld). Who knew that beneath all the metal exterior lay the heart of this awesome prequel? (More than meets the eye? Take that, Star Wars!!)

3. If you immediately fell in love with the terrific Steinfeld as soon as she started air drumming here (and you had only seen her in the Pitch Perfect sequels), now would be a good time to catch up on her much better films like True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen.

(And yes, I still think she would have made a better Belle in the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.)

4. One of my favorite moments was when Bumblebee first transformed in the garage. He got himself all tangled up with a kite, stumbled over, and then cowered in fear while sitting in one corner. More than just looking really cute (in an aww shucks way you would feel towards a scared child), he had never looked and felt more human.

There was also a lot of effective (intentional) humor in this movie that included him stomping on a car or doing a radical impression of Judd Nelson’s fist pump in The Breakfast Club (which was just as funny as Kimmy’s in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Cue the classic Don’t You Forget About Me.

And speaking of classic songs, I was happy that Bumblebee eventually learned to like The Smiths (although it was still unforgivable that he hated Kuya Dick’s Never Gonna Give You Up).

5. Happy to see Pamela Adlon on the big screen as Charlie’s mother. I wish they could find a way to incorporate this in Better Things with Sam getting her big break as a supporting actress in a huge Hollywood production.

6. Alf and Miami Vice references. A picture of then-President Ronald Reagan. Posters for The Thing and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet the biggest giveaway for me that this took place in the 80’s was the noisy dot matrix printer.

(Also, did they suggest that the Decepticons actually invented the internet?)

7. So Charlie started the Bird Box Challenge? (Kids, do not try this on the road unless you own Bumblebee.)

8. Ahh, so that was the Camaro explanation. Goodbye pendong peace!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshall, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mary Poppins Returns:

1. One of the highlights of Saving Mr. Banks (a great companion piece to this film) was the scene where an uptight P.L. Travers (played by the superb Emma Thompson) unexpectedly lowered her guard and started dancing along to Let’s Go Fly a Kite. It was a touching moment especially since the author notoriously hated the Disneyfication of her novels (“Responstible is not a word!!”), particularly Mary Poppins.

I wonder how she would have felt with this one given that it lacked an LSS-worthy melody that the original had in abundance. Can You Imagine That? and Trip a Little Light Fantastic were fun and frothy, but they just weren’t as memorable as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (an exercise in spelling and enunciation) or A Spoonful of Sugar.

For the record, my favorite tune from the 1964 classic was Oscar winner Chim Chim Cher-ee. Fun online fact: If you scratch “-2 – 2 + =“ on your pillow, it would sound very much like this song. Aren’t the interwebs wonderful?

2. Although billed as a sequel (with the Banks children all grown up), this still felt very much like a remake (seriously, why did they even bother?). If anything, I was happy that they kept the 2D animation during some of the fantasy sequences because it perfectly captured the old school magic of films.

3. I really thought it would be hard to match the wonderful performance of Julie Andrews (whose stern but loving version of the magical nanny reminded me of her stern but loving grandma slash Queen of Genovia in The Princess Diaries), but Emily Blunt completely owned the role (not a trace of imitation!) while paying homage to a well-loved Dame. At least she had a fun moment in the bathtub for a change.

4. It was sad to see Lin-Manuel Miranda sticking out like a sore thumb among the mostly English (and incredibly good) supporting cast. Although this was a musical where people actually floated while holding on to balloons, there was just something off with his over-the-top (read: theater-ready) acting.

Julie Walters was a hilarious scene-stealer as always, but I was more pleasantly surprised by Ben Whishaw. In one scene, he was clutching on to his dead wife’s pearl necklace while singing that he needed a few suggestions on how to brush their daughter’s hair and I was trying my best not to burst into tears.

As for the kids, they were fine enough, although I was wishing one of them could be like a young Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland.

5. Been a fan of Rob Marshall’s impressive choreography since Chicago and it was in full display here. When the Banks’ house got rattled by an exploding cannon, the siblings caught the falling furniture (a few lamps, an heirloom clock) like they were in a ballet. I also liked the (intentional?) nod to Velma Kelly in the A Cover is Not a Book production.

6. I understood the decision of making this version of Mary closer to her disposition in the books, but it was also the reason why I thought that this sequel needed a bit more heart. Like I wanted to be a puddle of sobbing mess when she would leave the children in the end and it didn’t happen. I had more of an emotional attachment with Sam in Wanted: Perfect Mother.

7. Why did Mary let the poor leeries climb all the way up the clock tower when she could have done it in the first place pala? Did everything have to be a teachable moment?

8. “Cleaning is not a spectator sport” sounded like something Marie Kondo would say. Yes, this movie gave me a tiny spark of joy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE (Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie:

1. I feel like I’m reading a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica dedicated to dinosaurs with the movie pausing to explain each dino name.

2. This is the kind of movie you watch in class where you start zoning out, thinking of how to complete the materias in Final Fantasy VII.

3. I didn’t know dinosaurs communicated via mental telepathy. They keep talking but their mouths aren’t moving. I’m getting confused.

4. I just spent P220 to read Facebook and Twitter updates. Such a waste.

5. I therefore conclude that dinosaurs became extinct because they bored themselves to death.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 14, 2014.)

LOVE, ROSIE (Christian Ditter, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love, Rosie:

1. This movie was based on Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern, the same author of P.S. I Love You that was also adapted into a movie starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. Although completely different in treatment, they now both serve as guilty pleasures.

2. I loved the excessive use of pop songs that highlighted each turning point in the characters’ lives. Elvis Costello’s I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, Beyonce’s Crazy in Love, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, Lily Allen’s F*ck You (Very Much), KT Tunstall’s Suddenly I See. Heck, even Asereje by Las Ketchup finally meant something. C’mon, I’m sure you still know the dance steps to this one.

3. The movie could be easily faulted as cliched and contrived and these were true to some extent. It was a gorgeously-shot Richard Curtis rom-com with the requisite (predictable) happy ending stinking a mile away.

4. Lily Collins was just too charming here. She anchored the entire film and prevented it from being completely silly even if she was required to run around handcuffed to a bedpost. Or had to spread her legs to find a missing condom.

5. I know the main cast looked really good but a decade supposedly passed and they didn’t seem to have aged a bit. Unless having thicker eyebrows actually meant you were older.

6. Why are some people so stupid to make the biggest mistake of falling in love with their best friend? Haven’t they learned anything from Budjoy?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 14, 2015.)

47 RONIN (Carl Rinsch, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 47 Ronin:

1. Ohmy, they speak English in feudal Japan. I think I’ll enjoy this movie. Ugh!

2. Wait, isn’t this the sensei of Emily Thorne? Is she also one of the ronins? That would be so cool!

3. I want the Lady Gaga-inspired outfit that the old man wore when he committed seppuku. It’s perfect for the Golden Globes tomorrow.

4. I loved the part where Keanu Reeves started singing, “Langit kaaaa, lupa akoooo…”

5. One character is named Oishi. My tongue started craving for those delicious salty shrimp crackers.

6. A man gets thrown in a deep pit and one year later he still looks healthy. What multivitamins do these samurais take? I want ’em.

7. A version of the the Sanduguan using blood fingerprints to sign a contract. I wish they focused more on this band of brothers.

8. The theater actor with the funny white mask looks like Ketchup Eusebio. Watch the movie and tell me I’m wrong.

9. “I will search for you through one thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you.” Eek! It just gave me heartburn.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 13, 2014.)

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (Shawn Levy, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb:

1. Let me get this one out of the way: I watched it in a theater full of kids and they actually enjoyed it. I guess I was too old for monkey pee jokes.

2. The glorious cast included Ben Stiller, the late Robin Williams, Ben Kingsley, Owen Wilson, Rebel Wilson, Steve Coogan, and Ricky Gervais, among others and yet they didn’t bring much to the movie. Each one of them could be in a one-man comedy show and bring the house down but here as a group, they were just good for a very few chuckles.

3. The said chuckles came from a reference to a Counting Crows singer and a throwaway punchline about wax and polyurethane.

4. As I said earlier, this was a family film so if your idea of fun was a Neanderthal using a defibrillator on himself, then go ahead and enjoy.

5. Rebel Wilson was Rebel Wilson was Rebel Wilson.

6. Why were the jokes too repetitive? How many more times did they have to milk the Huge Ackman joke?

7. Robin Williams’ final scenes in the movie did make me tear up a bit. He bid farewell and asked Ben (and the audience) to smile. This would be perfect for the Oscars’ In Memoriam segment. We will miss you, Mister.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 13, 2015.)

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Renny Harlin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Legend of Hercules:

1. The special effects were so bad that they used the same fake lion that mauled Eugene Domingo in Momzillas.

2. If Hercules is a demigod with extraordinary strength, then why can’t he kill his opponents with one blow? I know I’m overthinking. So bored.

3. Hercules wins a fight and the people start throwing confetti. That scene really made me laugh out loud.

4. Kellan Lutz has saucer-sized nipples. I remember this product I saw in Makati Cinema Square that can make one’s nipples rosy pink.

5. Lutz is a bad actor. As in Gerald Anderson level. And he loves making tampisaw in the batis. He should have Mother Lily’s magic kamison.

6. Why do people keep shouting their lines in these Greek/Roman movies? It’s like the other soldiers or townspeople are deaf. Laging galit din.

7. Stay for the end credits. I think they used live goats on the soundtrack. I have no words.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 11, 2014.)