MOVIE REVIEW: UNBROKEN (Angelina Jolie, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Unbroken:

1. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the movie happened at the start when a soldier got shot and he cried, “I wanna go home”. I could only imagine the same pain and helplessness of all the other soldiers currently fighting in these senseless wars.

2. Remember how running was used as a metaphor for life in Forrest Gump? I bet Angelina Jolie has watched that film countless times that Robert Zemeckis could actually sue for plagiarism.

3. I was happy to see Finn Wittrock in the cast. He was so good as Dandy Mott in American Horror Story: Freak Show. Unfortunately, I started to lose interest immediately after his character exited the movie.

4. So Jack O’Connell went for Method acting looking necessarily gaunt and famished with zero body fat. He looked like a cross between Kevin Bacon and Ethan Hawke. Christian Bale will be proud.

5. I wonder if a seagull tastes like chicken. Also, I love sashimi but will it taste the same if I eat fish straight out of the sea?

6. Some people will find the movie’s themes of faith and resilience and forgiveness as life-affirming. Others, like myself, will find them incredibly corny. Life-affirming, but corny.

7. Why did it feel like there were only three extended scenes in the movie? The initial plane fight, the endless boat survival, and the tedious prisoner of war setting?

8. Do not bring popcorn. One scene involved scooping poop and dumping them in the ocean. I was just thankful this was not shown in 4D.

9. Why did it feel like there was sexual tension between Zamperini and Watanabe? The constant torture and name-calling looked exactly like a high school relationship. Was I just too bored and distracted by then? Has anyone read the book? Was it much better than this adaptation?

10. The old Zamperini running in the Japan Olympics almost made me cry. Almost.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 27, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 100 TULA PARA KAY STELLA (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Sabi ko hindi ako iiyak eh pero masyadong ginalingan ni JC Santos. Nasabayan ko tuloy sya sa paghagulgol nung sinabi nya na “Ikaw ang naging mundo ko.”

The love story here reminded me so much of the one that Forrest Gump and Jenny had.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published August 21, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE LION KING (Jon Favreau, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Some notes:

• Excellent (proper term: hyperrealistic) visual effects reminiscent of The Jungle Book. I watched this in 3D/4DX and I was always close to pissing my pants whenever there were close-ups of Scar and the hyenas. It felt like I was in a safari tour where our bus had no protective grills. Loved the wildebeests stampede, though. (Parents, you might want to reconsider bringing your really young kids.)

• Although I didn’t have problems with all the talking, the lack of emotions was more evident during the singing parts. The expected magic of the musical numbers got zapped out of them due to the limitations. The “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” sequence mostly involved a lot of running. “Be Prepared” sounded like a series of chants. The only bit that worked was “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” that served as a theme during a montage and didn’t really involve much of Simba and Nala overtly singing. (Would this remake have worked better without the song numbers? Hmmm…)

• Loved Donald Glover’s voice as Simba, but I was even more impressed with Billy Eichner as Timon. I eagerly waited for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and it didn’t disappoint. Seth Rogen was also a great choice as Pumbaa. Plus, James Earl Jones is James Earl Jones.

• A bit disappointed that Timon didn’t don a hula skirt, but they more than made up for it with that hilarious “Be Our Guest” bit and the #NoToBodyShaming scene.

• I really liked how it addressed (sometimes mocked) some of the minor misses (?) in the original: when Scar didn’t knock down Zazu when he was supposed to tell the tribe about the stampede, that Pumbaa and Timon didn’t age at all during the “Hakuna Matata” montage (where we finally heard the word farted!!), etc.

• Shenzi as the leader of the hyena pack? Nala getting more scenes proving that she’s a worthy future Queen? And that glorious showdown between them? Now that was an awesome display of girl power that didn’t even need a lame original song (yes, looking at you Jasmine 2019).

• Missed Ed. I loved Ed in the original.

• Did we really need a lot of those extended sequences? The rat that Scar was supposed to have for lunch had an incredibly long screen time. And that entire fur flying sequence (although a good display of the circle of life) felt like forever (and reminded me of Forrest Gump’s feather).

• I completely lost it when Simba and Nala’s baby was raised during the end and somebody screamed, “Blue Ivy!!”. Now that’s the power of Beyonce’s spirit.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: OLD SKOOL (Cia Hermosa-Jorge, 2015)

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My notes on Old Skool:

1. It’s hard to be tough on Old Skool, a well-intentioned movie that obviously wore its heart on its sleeve. The problem with it though was how it played its supposedly inspirational message with throwaway gags and juvenile humor.

2. Tessie Tomas is one of our finest actresses but her performance here was very inconsistent. There were times that she acted like Budoy when she was just a perfectly normal old woman that just wasn’t able to finish grade school.

3. In one scene, she wore a Trinidad and Tobago outfit for United Nations Day (?) complete with a headpiece full of dalandan and bananas and she acted all clumsy like Forrest Gump just stepped in class. (In another, she was obviously reading the lyrics of a song on the back of a classmate during the Christmas production.)

4. I was also confused when she mentioned that she was supposed to be the batch valedictorian before she stopped schooling and yet she couldn’t add basic fractions. Also, with the advanced learning system now, don’t they teach Calculus and algorithms as early as Kinder?

5. I was happy to see that artista notebooks (you know, the ones with Juday and Wowie on the cover) are still available. I wonder if they have an AlDub version.

6. Oh and that Microsoft Office Computer class! I suddenly remembered my Wordstar and Lotus days. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m still amazed that we had Typewriting classes back in grade school. Using an actual typewriter. I swear I hated the quick brown fox that jumped over the lazy dog.

7. Buboy Villar was good as the school bully. I wish there was no sudden change of heart because he was funnier when he made other kids cry. In contrast would be the shrill performance of Angel Aquino who basically hated life. She kept screaming every 15 minutes on the most petty stuff that I missed my morning alarm clock (read: my mother).

8. True story:

Me: “What’s HEKASI?”
Other: “Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, Agrikultura, Sining, at Sibika.”
Me: “Eh di dapat HEKAASISI?”

But seriously, di ko inabot ang HEKASI. I’m that old.

9. Styrofoam solar system! I had the exact same project in grade school! Memories!!

10. Teacher: “Ilagay ang kanang kamay sa puso. O tumitibok ba?”

Students: “Opo!!”

Teacher: “Mabuti! Kung hindi dadalhin kayo sa ospital.”

Me: “Sir, sure ka hindi sa morgue?”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published November 7, 2015.)