BREATHE (Andy Serkis, 2017)

7D844B26-954D-46F4-AD61-CEEAFA532250

In another (desperate?) bid for an Oscar nomination, Andrew Garfield has moved on from playing a real-life man of faith battling enemy soldiers without the use of a gun to a real-life faith-challenged man battling polio and its debilitating side effects with just a respirator. Unlike his performance in Hacksaw Ridge though, this one seemed to be a result of watching Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything one too many times (something I was guilty of as well).

Claire Foy (looking very much like Adele’s older sister) as his patient and devoted wife fared significantly better. She had a fantastic scene where she stormed down a hill after being accused that she saw her husband as a burden and it made me want to do a catch-up on the first season of The Crown.

Although this biopic was clearly well-intentioned and made to be inspirational, the central love story just felt very bland. The only source of tension was when a kid and his dog accidentally unplugged the breathing device and even that scene had me giggling because of the clunky way it was handled. I’m definitely going straight to hell.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DUNKIRK (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

IMG_3495

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dunkirk:

1. In one of the last few scenes of this movie, a young soldier woke up from his deep slumber, oblivious to everything that happened around him (and outside of his safety blanket slash uniform). In some absurd way, I actually envied that man because I was trying my best not to fall asleep amidst the blatant monotony that I was watching onscreen. I was also glad that Christopher Nolan finally learned how to edit his films below the two hour running mark because I felt every single minute of this one.

2. To be fair, it seemed like its main purpose was to give the audience the full war experience (but why??) and it succeeded in that aspect. I could easily picture Nolan invoking the iconic Gretchen Barretto as Victoria Valera: “You want war? I’ll give you war!!” And he did.

The excellent sound design, mostly composed of bullets whizzing from all directions and multiple random explosions, made me want to duck along with the troops. One of the sequences that I particularly liked involved some sort of ripple effect on a beach after a bombing that culminated with lots of sand flying directly to the screen. It was so realistic that I felt the need to brush off some imaginary grains that flew into my hair.

Visual and aural feast, I tell you.

3. I should have done a more thorough cleaning of my ears before leaving home because those thick accents were just too hard to understand (and this was already considering that the movie had very minimal dialogue). Subtitles please!!

4. One of my favorite films of all time had a short (yet brilliant) Dunkirk sequence as well. Go watch Atonement.

5. Inasmuch as I adored Hans Zimmer, his scoring here was just relentless. It felt like he wanted to dictate how the audience should feel in every scene, very much like canned laughs in a sitcom (“O guys, prepare na kayo kasi exciting part na ‘to ayan na ang pounding music…”).

6. I just learned that one stretcher takes the place of seven standing men on a ship. It was heartbreaking to hear a commander ask how many more of the wounded would need to be transported. If Andrew Garfield was here, this wouldn’t even be a question.

7. I guess the overall feeling of emotional detachment stemmed from the lack of back story for its characters. It was just hard to completely empathize with any single one of them because they merely served as pawns in the backdrop of a prominent war (made more evident when all the recognizable names survived). Which was good news for Harry Styles, who was probably cast as the Hollywood equivalent of Ronnie Alonte.

8. “He’s not himself. He may never be himself again.” We were all survivors when the end credits rolled.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

HACKSAW RIDGE (Mel Gibson, 2016)

IMG_1691

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hacksaw Ridge:

1. I would usually go into an epileptic seizure whenever a blatantly religious film would smack me over the head with its outright themes of spirituality and salvation (refer to The Shack). Now here was the story of a soldier with such unwavering faith that he didn’t want to compromise his beliefs and principles (no to guns!) while trying to survive in Okinawa during bloody World War II. His only weapon of choice? Trust in God’s saving grace.

All of these should have easily resulted to an emergency room visit, but it surprisingly converted me into being a believer instead. Kindness in the face of adversity? Bravery even with the lack of power? Heroism amidst all evil? My faith in humanity was restored yet again all thanks to my new pastor Mel Gibson.

2. Early in the film, we got a glimpse on the kind of person Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, in a career-defining performance) really was. It didn’t come as a surprise when he later mentioned, “I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.” And he did, in the process defying his violent father, his doubting colleagues, his arrogant superiors, and very much the odds of survival in war, while ultimately saving 75 more soldiers just on the strength of his faith alone.

It would be easy to dismiss this as the Hollywood version of the real story, but the basic facts could not be contested. Hearing the real Desmond recall his grueling experiences was just too much for my jaded heart to bear. In one scene, he visited his fallen comrades’ graves after being awarded a Medal of Honor (a first for a conscientious objector) and he simply said, “The real heroes are buried here”.

I ended up flooding the entire row J of CommerceCenter Cinema 2.

3. I honestly almost gave up on this after the first twenty minutes because it was initially headed into pure melodramatic territory with the domestic abuse plot before it veered into a sappy romance complete with a cloying proposal scene. Thank heavens Desmond was immediately sent to war because I definitely did not pay for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

4. The combat scenes were nothing short of spectacular. It had the expected amount of gore and carnage (torn legs! rain of blood! decapitations! intestines sprawled out!) that you would feel very much transported right in the middle of battle where bodies got thrown over grenades and broken torsos were used as shields from the shower of bullets.

My biggest pet peeve in action sequences was that with all of the necessary quick movements, one could barely decipher whatever was happening onscreen. This movie did not have that problem at all because it was very much like watching controlled chaos.

Nobody would even question those Oscars for Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Did we expect anything less from the director that made torture porn out of a Bible story in The Passion of the Christ?

5. Vince Vaughn should not be in serious movies because the more he tried to be un-funny, the more hilarious he looked. At least he made the most out of his character, spewing the nastiest throwdowns outside of the America’s Next Top Model house. My favorite ones were:

• “How long have you been dead?”

• “I’ve seen stalks of corn with better physique.”

• “Have you ever looked into a goat’s eyes? Good, that’s unnatural.”

5. Was I the only one wishing for an Esprit de Corps moment? Yes? Really? Ok.

6. Standout scenes: the one where Desmond “buried” an injured comrade to conceal him from the ruthless Japanese soldiers and one could only see his eye peeking out from the ground, and the scene towards the end where he was being lowered via a makeshift stretcher while clutching on to his cherished Bible. Really powerful stuff.

7. One Japanese soldier raised the white flag and he was still shot to death. And that my friends is the reason why I still have major trust issues.

Rating: ★★★★☆

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2016)

13087525_10154126413138544_5458315277850678808_n
SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Captain America: Civil War:

1. I had no clue who Doctor Strange was but that awesome trailer made me wish it were November already. Did I just sound like a die-hard Cumberbitch? Probably. But what really sealed the deal was Tilda Swinton looking like a cooler version of the Last Airbender.

2. Was it just me or did this actually feel like a Bond thriller (or a Bourne thriller, or any thriller for that matter)? You could have replaced the Marvel superheroes with real common people and it would still have been completely enjoyable. Sure, the climactic battle scene wouldn’t have been as fun, but my entire point was that this was a good film.

3. Everyone knows that I’m not the biggest fan of action movies, but I really enjoyed all the fight and chase scenes here (the drone shots were really impressive). The movie delivered on its trailer’s promise of an epic battle between the superheroes. I guess I was so used to Fernando Poe, Jr. movies where the bida and (lead) kontrabida have a match-up of their own while the minor characters get their own one-on-ones (with the women relegated to their own eye-scratching and hair-pulling). I really expected a bitch fight between the (balimbing) Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, but I was actually happy it didn’t happen. Each superhero was able to demonstrate his/her strengths and weaknesses by battling every other superhero from the opposing team. Definitely worth the wait.

4. I actually thought that Robert Downey, Jr. discovered the Fountain of Youth when his younger self appeared onscreen until his real more scruffy-looking (and better-looking, right?) other walked out and started discussing the wonders of BARF (was this the same machine used by Clementine to erase the traumatic memories of ex-boyfriend Joel? If you got this reference, you have great taste in films).

Also, that scene with him and Alfre Woodard made me want to start singing “Walk Like A Man” (if you still got this reference, I love you already). And, RDJ was so good in that big reveal scene. *sob*

5. I wonder how King T’Chaka’s campaign would have been if he ran for President here. He would have needed a really good manager.

6. Chris Evans looked so pale, like he stepped out of a Twilight movie. With that said, he still decimated my remaining self-esteem when he started flexing his biceps and flaunting his ripped upper torso while holding on to the runaway helicopter. No wonder Captain America only needed a shield when he already had those big guns. (Emily Thorne, you lucky girl.)

7. The proposed UN agreement regarding the need for supervision of superheroes was reminiscent of the Mutant Registration Act in the X-Men movies. One of them said it best with “If we don’t put limitations, we’re no different from the bad guys” and of course, my recently quoted “You’re wrong. You think you’re right. It makes you dangerous.” Who knew that choosing if you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan would actually reflect one’s political views?

8. I know that one character mentioned it but why were Thor and Hulk really missing in action? The Incredible Hulk going head-to-head with the giant Ant-Man (Hantik Man! Har har!) would have been a real showdown. Also, I wanted to see Pepper. Please tell me she’s really pregnant. Everyone has a gimmick now, right? I hope that would be hers.

9. The movie felt like it was really made for grown-ups. It took its time (read: felt overlong) to explain everything and some might find these parts a bit dragging. I’m still a kid so yes, my mind wandered a bit during all the pseudo-philosophical discussions. It was a giant (bold) step for Marvel movies, though. (Wait, why was this a Captain America movie when it felt very much like an Avengers movie?)

10. I was amused by Peter Parker and his onesie but he will forever be Andrew Garfield to me. Also, the fall of War Machine was eerily similar to the death of Gwen Stacy.

11. Daniel Bruhl will have more screen time in the next movie, yes? Yes?

12. If I were the Winter Soldier, the key words that would trigger my inner rage would be: SIR. WALA. PONG. BREAST. PART.

What would be yours?

Rating: ★★★★☆