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.)

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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.)

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.)

SEVENTH SON (Sergei Bodrov, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Seventh Son:

1. The movie opened with Jeff Bridges playing a drunk Gandalf talking with his mouth full and giving a whole new meaning to scenery-chewing. I hope the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters never have the time to see this terrible performance.

2. Speaking of the Oscars, I was just happy to see that this won’t be shown in the US until February. Julianne Moore’s work here wasn’t the stuff of a future Oscar winner. This was way below Norbit levels.

3. I want that instant rejuvenation spell. I wonder if it’s on Belo Medical’s list of services.

4. Twenty minutes into the movie and I still had no idea what was happening. There was mention of a spook, something about a blood moon, and the seventh son of the seventh son, but all I cared about was the charred body of Jon Snow.

5. Those blood cakes combined the best of both worlds: it was simply puto made of dinuguan. Yum!!

6. Oh, so Gandalf was also Mr. Miyagi with a Medieval Irish accent.

7. A character was given an ogre scrotum for his enjoyment. Now I understand why they walk really funny.

8. Apparently, there would be a literal spark (and blue for that matter) when two people were destined to be together. We kept seeing the literal spark but the bland young actors actually didn’t have any. I wished for Lorna Tolentino to suddenly enter the scene in full racist Chinese eye make-up and scream, “Ano kayo Meralco? Kelangan may spark?”

9. I laughed so hard during the final scene when our hero flipped his hood, the music swelled, the screen faded to black, and it hinted at a possible sequel.

10. For whatever it’s worth, at least it was no Season of the Witch.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 10, 2015.)

HONEYMOON (Leigh Janiak, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Honeymoon:

1. Bear rugs look creepy. I’m freaked out whenever I see any rug that still has the head of an animal. Any movie with a scene involving a bear rug instantly gives me the chills.

2. Simply put, it was about a couple that went to a cabin in the woods for their honeymoon. Ooh, Cabin in the Woods. It’s time for a rewatch.

3. The story was very predictable down to its anticlimactic ending. From the moment they showed the happy couple on video discussing their wonderful future ahead, I already knew their relationship was doomed. This is exactly how bitter people think.

4. Leisurely-paced would be an understatement. A chunk of the movie was just exposition with minutes spent on the tour of the cabin, the couple’s activities, honeymoon discussions, and lots of pawing. I still enjoyed the ride, though.

5. The lead actress looked like a B-movie Emma Stone. Definitely not a bad thing considering that some of the popular Hollywood stars couldn’t even pass for a C-movie Emma Stone. Oh yes, I’m in love with Emma Stone.

6. Red herring, red herring, red herring. Didn’t throw me off one bit.

7. Everything was going fine until we got close to the big reveal and the husband started saying: “You have her toes. You have her knees. You taste the same. Blah blah blah. But you’re not my wife!” How stupid was this character?

8. One scene involving what looked like an umbilical cord with a wriggling scorpion’s tail being pulled out of the girl’s vajayjay was repulsive and a delight to watch. It was that kind of weird.

9. The rest of the people that watched obviously hated the movie, especially the bizarre ending. “Ano yun? Walang kwenta!” The fact that everyone wanted a refund since they barely understood the final scene made me like it even more. I demand a sequel!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 9, 2015.)

THE SKELETON TWINS (Craig Johnson, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Skeleton Twins:

1. The first few minutes of the film opened with two suicide attempts. That they were being done at the same time by troubled siblings just made it more interesting.

2. Depression (the disorder, not the emo kind) seems foreign to our culture, no? Anyone showing signs of mental health problems is immediately tagged as baliw. I bet you wouldn’t really know anyone who actively sees a psychiatrist (and not in a Makati Med basement kind). I guess that’s why I’ve been very fascinated with this topic. The problem is real and the resulting effect like suicide is just scary.

3. There were four comedians that starred in this film (Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ty Burrell, Luke Wilson), each of them completely effective in their respective roles. It further proved that the funniest people also make the best dramatic actors.

4. Hader’s gay character Milo had a hissy fit when he realized that it was, as one lesbian called it, “Dyke Night” at the local bar. Do we have those here? It looked really fun.

5. Why do gay characters love wearing scarves? Is it because they can dramatically throw it around their necks and make a scene? I’m looking at (for?) you, Waldo.

6. There was one touching moment where the siblings bonded over prophylaxis and nitrous oxide. It was something so ordinary and yet ended up as special. The amazing performances helped a lot as well. I was a big mess after watching it.

7. Milo (Hader) to Maggie (Wiig) after realizing that she was cheating: “You’re not a whore. You’re a restless housewife with whore-like tendencies.” Too funny!!

8. You know how sometimes we just have to sing and dance our troubles away? In one great sequence, Milo and Maggie performed the Mannequin theme song (Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now). You know this one. Cue music. “And we can build this dream together, standing strong forever, nothing’s gonna stop us now…”

8. A discussion regarding expectations and reality was very heartbreaking. Milo recalled how their dad said that a popular jock already peaked in high school and that he (Milo) would peak later on in life. Several years later, he learned that the jock was successful and had a happy family while he was a complete mess. Oftentimes life could be cruel.

9. “Maybe next time you should cut deeper.” I bawled my eyes out.

10. The final attempt to find redemption didn’t ring true to me. I felt cheated by the happy ending because I know it wouldn’t be a happy ending. But hey, I wish them all the best.

11. Are you still singing Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now?

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published January 4, 2015.)

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Woody Allen, 2014)

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MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Woody Allen, 2014) – ★★★☆☆

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Magic in the Moonlight:

1. The French Riviera looked gorgeous. I loved the color palette of the movie. Every scene was picture-postcard perfect.

2. The font reminded so much of American Horror Story. Sadly, Jessica Lange didn’t show up.

3. Colin Firth played a snarkier version of Mr. Darcy. How could he make these British snobs still look lovable?

4. With all these generic predictions on what’s in store for 2015, this film about a possibly fraudulent clairvoyant just seemed so timely. Babagyo, lilindol, may artistang mamamatay, may artistang mabubuntis. Really? It’s like they have ESPN or something.

5. Emma Stone in 1920’s flapper dresses looked too cute. She had one scene where she was cross-eyed that really cracked me up. Naming my car after her was one of my best decisions in life ever.

6. “How can you eat so much? We just had lunch.” Story of my life right there.

7. Stanley (Firth) said that “one of the cardinal rules of magic is the magician must never repeat his trick because sooner or later one begins to notice the move and he’s caught”. It spoke so much about these Woody Allen comedies. As long as I was temporarily enchanted though, I wouldn’t be complaining.

8. Stone and Firth were great in this film but they were just not bagay. How could I root for their love story?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 3, 2018.)

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (Josh Boone, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Fault in Our Stars:

1. I read the book in two days (large fonts!) and I must say that this movie was a faithful adaptation in terms of directly lifting dialogue and entire scenes from the source material (down to the pink towel that Hazel’s mom wore when she rushed to her room). It would be unfair to compare the two different visions so let me just say that when Hazel promised at the beginning that it won’t be the typical love story, only the book stayed true to that promise.

2. Yes, I cried tons while watching the movie but then I cry in almost everything. Besides, it was a story about two star-crossed kids with cancer. You know their love story was doomed from the start. Only a person with a heart of stone wouldn’t feel anything for these two.

3. The weird thing about all my crying, though, was that it happened on those particular scenes when the movie didn’t try hard to make me cry. Remember that scene when Hazel’s mom said they couldn’t afford the trip to Amsterdam? Or the one when she looked at her parents holding hands and she felt like a burden to them? Sure I bawled my eyes out during her pretend eulogy and I probably felt a punch in my solar plexus when Augustus revealed that he was sick but these were easy triggers for my tear duct buttons.

4. Which brings me to my other point, how can a movie with such a brave female character actually not have the balls to honestly depict cancer? I understand that it was primarily a love story (albeit a corny one) but during the third act when it needed to show courage, it actually chickened out and resorted to the usual emotional manipulation. Where was the scene in the book when Augustus peed himself? Sure it would have ruined every little girl’s crush on Ansel Elgort but why didn’t it show the disease as it really was?

5. Speaking of Ansel Elgort, he was really charming in this movie, no? I actually forgot that he played brother to Shailene Woodley in Divergent. Actually this movie worked entirely because of the strong performances. Shailene nailed all of her crying scenes (although I never for one second believed that she was 16). And let’s not forget the phenomenal Laura Dern who breathed such life to a typical suffering mother role.

6. The evil depiction of Peter Van Houten and his eventual change of heart looked lame onscreen and was a big departure from that in the book. And they really had to choose the guy who played Nosferatu and the Green Goblin as if the character wasn’t despicable enough. Oh, and that whole Anne Frank’s house scene (endless stairs!) didn’t do anything for me. It also probably had the most unromantic first kiss ever.

7. For those that read the book, what things did you miss in this adaptation? Mine would have to be Kaitlyn (to show that Hazel’s not really anti-social), all the V for Vendetta references (only shown as a poster in Augustus’ room), Caroline Mathers (Augustus had an ex-girlfriend!!), the alfresco Amsterdam dinner near the canal (dinner under the stars would have been more romantic), that HUMP THE CAVE WALL scene, all those Facebook references (you know the posts that people make whenever someone dies; those made the story more human and timely), and Augustus’ eulogy that was not as sentimental as the movie made it to be.

8. Wait, they did omit the only scene in the book where I cried. It was the one where Hazel attended Augustus’ wake, approached his coffin, placed her hand on his chest, and said, “I love you present tense. It’s okay, Gus. It’s okay. Do you hear me? It’s okay.” Then she kissed him on the cheek and said, “Okay? Okay.”

Pass me the Kleenex.

Rating: ★★★☆☆