MY KONTRABIDA GIRL (Jade Castro, 2012)

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You know that a local comedy’s in trouble when the funniest thing that it could offer was naming Aljur Abrenica’s character as Chris Bernal. You know it’s in even bigger trouble simply because it starred Abrenica, an actor so wooden he’s perfect as his TV alter-ego Machete. Poor guy even had to play a role that mocked his stilted and funny delivery. I guess that just about summed up the movie: a misguided, messy comedy that tried to be hilarious, but ended up being the bigger joke.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 24, 2012.)

HITMAN (Cesar Montano, 2012)

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If Montano was trying to bring back the glory days of Pinoy action movies, then he had ultimately failed with this piece of crap. Except for the opening credits (that didn’t feature the usual red fonts), everything in this movie was horrendous. The actors could barely act (Sam Pinto could have been replaced by a mannequin and nobody would have noticed), the screenplay was one big mess (did we really have to hear Montano comment on all the action that was happening onscreen?), and the direction was simply sloppy.

This was the kind of movie that you’d: 1) kick yourself in the head for wasting time and money on, and 2) wish would end after 30 minutes. Easily one of the worst movies of the year.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 23, 2012.)

CORAZON: ANG UNANG ASWANG (Richard Somes, 2012)

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I think that I’m in the minority when it comes to Yanggaw, the other “aswang” movie of Richard Somes. Maybe all the hype raised my expectations. I anticipated a full-blown horror movie and got a melodramatic tale of familial love instead. Corazon felt like a retread on the same themes, although it’s more of an origin story and has a bigger budget (read: beautifully shot). Erich Gonzales was fine in the lead role but she definitely didn’t get any support from the consistently bland Derek Ramsay. Most of the scenes were unintentionally funny (why, Tetchie, why?) and some were just downright crazy (and not in a good way). Neither scary nor engaging, I’m guessing half of the audience fell asleep before the closing credits.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 23, 2012.)

UNOFFICIALLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2012)

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From the opening sequence that involved a forgettable “laman vs. sabaw” discussion down to the clichéd dialogue we’ve heard in previous movies, you know this one’s hobbled by a weak screenplay.

Trust a gifted director like Cathy Garcia-Molina to create magic out of something formulaic. There was even a brilliant sex sequence guaranteed to elicit laughter for minutes. I didn’t completely buy the chemistry of the leads but they did really good work individually.

John Lloyd Cruz continued to show why he’s the best actor of this generation. He was charming without ever being cloying and he actually helped elevate Angel Locsin’s performance (probably her best work to date).

Overall, this latest romantic-comedy from Star Cinema didn’t really break new ground but damn it, it made me kilig the whole time.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 17, 2012.)

MY CACTUS HEART (Enrico Santos, 2012)

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It was as corny as any Star Cinema formulaic rom-com could be.

Maja Salvador’s talents were wasted as a shrill, overacting animator who fell for a vocalist/waiter with nice abs played by Matteo Guidicelli. You’d be surprised that they were lovers offscreen since they had zero chemistry here.

Everything was cliched and contrived and you could actually hear people groan after every bad punchline (crickets too, in some scenes).

The only bright spot was Rosanna Roces and even she had the humiliating task of smelling Matteo’s armpits. Talk about stinky (or lucky?).

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 29, 2012.)

A MOTHER’S STORY (John-D Lazatin, 2012)

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It was the usual OFW fare that seemed to fit more on the small screen. The material didn’t offer anything new from previous films of the same nature (the Anak reference was both a winning punchline and a curse). It only required a lot of crying from its competent cast (Pokwang was a delight to watch and I loved her scenes with the equally great Daria Ramirez).

The movie did have some good moments (dramatic situations infused with much-needed humor, the non-linear structure ala Forrest Gump, Nonie Buencamino stealing his scenes with ease) until it fully crumbled in the final act where the lead became unsympathetic and all loose ends were neatly tied-up.

Not bad overall, but it could have been much better.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 12, 2012.)