CLOWN (Jon Watts, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Clown:

1. I just have to say that I had the most unfortunate luck of being in a theater full of several high school cliques and witnessed the battle of who was the noisiest and most annoying group. I must be really old because these kids were just too damn irritating.

2. I love clowns. I’ve never been scared of one even as a kid. Not even after reading (and watching) Stephen King’s It. I know several people though that have a clown phobia. It’s real. I even Googled it and it’s called coulrophobia. I do not recommend this to any of them.

3. The premise was actually good. Mr. Nice Guy wanted to surprise his kid on his birthday. He found a cursed clown costume, wore it, and it didn’t want to come off. He ended up looking like a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Rob Corddry in Children’s Hospital. And suddenly developed a craving for children. Since this was an Eli Roth-produced flick, the ensuing gore and violence was expected.

4. If you easily flinch at the sight of wrists getting slashed, electric saws penetrating human bodies, limbs getting torn off the sockets, and bones breaking outside of the skin, consider yourself boring. I mean, avoid this at all costs.

5. The scene with the pastel colored blood splatter was just genius. It just made it hard to dismiss this film for being incredibly silly.

6. Although the first half was twistedly fun, the second half succumbed to the usual horror movie cliches where a wife would utter the line, “I know you’re still in there” to his incredibly deranged clown husband just because love conquers all.

7. The playhouse of terror scene took forever but I guess an arm taking a slide with a trail of blood should be worth the wait.

8. I just found it weird that the said clown demon could survive a headshot wound but couldn’t even free himself from heavy chains. Or that a knife got lodged on his shoulder even with an invincible costume. Funny indeed.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 1, 2015.)

BLACKHAT (Michael Mann, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Blackhat:

1. The movie opened with a great sequence showing information traveling from various circuits and transistors until it finally triggered an explosion in a nuclear reactor.

2. After that scene, basically nothing happened onscreen for the next thirty minutes. That was one incredibly long bathroom break. I couldn’t believe this was from the director of The Insider, Heat, and Collateral (oh, wait).

3. Do you remember those badly-dubbed Chinese movies shown every Sunday morning on Channel 9? This movie had its own version of that. Only the Chinese characters were speaking Chinese. And it was still badly-dubbed.

4. Lust, Caution would always be one of my favorite Ang Lee films. I was so happy to see Tang Wei and Wang Leehom reunite here. Watch that movie and not just for the good (wink, wink) parts, ok?

5. Poor Viola Davis had to wear a horrible wig. She’s a lovely and smart woman. Why did she allow this kind of treatment from Hollywood?

6. Speaking of hair, how did Chris Hemsworth maintain that perpetually brushed up hair? Did they have industrial hairblowers in prison?

7. I loved the Asian tour with the movie jumping from Hong Kong to Macau to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia. I’d never seen Kowloon Station ever deserted, though.

8. One crowd scene had men pointing guns at each other and people barely noticing. It needed a gunfire before the stampede started. Really?

9. So many IT jargon. My head almost exploded.

10. If you want an exciting digital age thriller, you’d be better off watching the cheesy Sandra Bullock flick The Net. I couldn’t believe it was shown twenty years ago.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 25, 2015.)

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Jake Kasdan, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle:

1. If this video game version of Jumanji were real, I’d most probably end up with the Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) avatar since I’d usually choose the smartest (albeit the physically weakest) character. I never went for warriors or fighters in any role-playing game. I’d usually be a wizard or a mage with the highest intelligence and the strongest spells. Even in my fantasy world, I was the geek choosing brains over brawns.

(Also, cake would aptly be my weakness that would cause me to spontaneously combust.)

2. I had really low expectations going in this reboot because I wasn’t that fond of the original material so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this fun popcorn flick. Even if it didn’t make a lot of sense (both as an adventure and video game movie), it was able to capitalize on the individual strengths of its really talented cast.

3. Jack Black was hilarious as a vain teenage girl trapped in an older obese man’s body (his wicked performance reminded me of John Lapus’ in Here Comes the Bride). From his utter disgust upon seeing his reflection, to the way he swished his arms while running away from enemies, down to his inspired quips (“I look like a living garden gnome!”), he fully embraced his character and brought back the funnyman last seen in Nacho Libre.

My favorite moment with him was when he needed to take a leak and saw male genitalia for the first time (“Martha, come look at my penis!!”). I needed a puff of my inhaler after that one.

4. Kevin Hart, with his usual high-pitched delivery, elicited laughs aimed at his character’s height and lack of speed and strength (really laughed hard when he got smacked face first onto the side of a cliff).

The Rock took advantage of his signature eyebrows and smoldering intensity, while Karen Gillan (check out her now-defunct sitcom Selfie!) made awkwardness look really hot and sexy (“Did she twist her ankle?” LOL!). The scene where the two of them had their (sloppy) first kiss was a hoot.

5. When Spencer went to the so-called freak house wearing a yellow raincoat, was that a direct reference to the It movie?

6. How did the board game magically turn into what looked like an updated Atari console? Also, wasn’t it too advanced to have four controllers slash players during the late ‘90s gaming era? If anything, I definitely geeked out at specific references such as NPC (non-player characters) and the spot-on explanation of cut scenes.

When a character gave one of her lives to another, I was even reminded of the game Contra when my brother would steal my lives because he was a weak player (peace bro!). Another sequence where they had to step only on the white bricks or had to freeze not to get killed by booby traps was reminiscent of Resident Evil. Cool gaming stuff!!

7. Speaking of references, the Alex character (Nick Jonas) reminded me yet again of my age when he mentioned Cindy Crawford and used catchphrases like ‘so fly’. But seriously, the 90s supermodels were like royalty back then, no? Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and company were ‘the bomb’.

I even rented the VHS copy of box office flop Fair Game several times from ACA Video to pay my respect to the wonderful acting of Crawford and William Baldwin (train rides were never the same after watching that). Be kind, rewind? I sure did.

(Also, the women were obviously invested in this Jonas brother because there were audible gasps in the audience when he got bitten by a mosquito. Ok, I gasped as well. So what?)

8. Shelly Oberon (Black) screaming “Yassss kweeen!” to Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan) was the highlight of my week.

9. I wasn’t the only one that teared up a bit during that Alan Parrish scene, right? *sniff, sniff*

Rating: ★★★☆☆