JOBS (Joshua Michael Stern, 2013)

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Provided a superficial look at the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, depicted here as a genius a-hole. It’s no The Social Network.

Ashton Kutcher did a decent mimicry of Jobs, although there were scenes where he looked like a young Tom Cruise doing the impersonation.

You know that this film was simply glossing over its subject when the highlights were actually on Steve Wozniak, played by the funny Josh Gad.

You’re better off reading the Jobs biography.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published September 8, 2013.)

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bill Condon, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Beast:

1. Similar to A Second Chance, this live action remake of the classic Disney movie was completely harmless and unnecessary. Lower your pitchforks (or eyebrows), please. Inasmuch as I’m sure you would want to launch into your own glorious rendition of Kill the Beast right about now, hear me out first.

The movie was satisfactory. The cast was mostly fine. The new songs were generally okay (although a tad forgettable). Bring your kids (or your inner kid at heart) and wallow in the amazing feeling of nostalgia.

Just never forget that you’re watching a film directed by the same person that most recently gave us The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2. (Fade to black.)

2. I never expected a shot-by-shot remake of the cartoon, but I also didn’t see the need for forty additional minutes of filler to explain the stories behind the Prince’s bad behaviour, Belle’s dead mother, and the Enchantress’ double life in the village, among others. You could immediately feel the difference as soon as this one started with the stained glass sequence in the original losing its storybook effect by having the Prince in full Black Swan make-up partying like Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night.

Even with all the back stories, it still wasn’t able to justify why the poor servants had to be included in the curse (and no Mrs. Potts, indirect negligence of an abused child was not reason enough for such a cruel punishment). I did like the explanation on why nobody really bothered checking on the castle post-curse and that was achieved through one line of narration.

3. If anything, this version posed even more questions:

• Given these recent historical revisionisms regarding inventors (read up on Bell vs Meucci haller!), should we assume that Belle actually created the first washing machine? Also, whatever happened to those bedsheets that she tied up for her planned escape?

• Who was that toothless piano (played by Stanley Tucci)? Was he part of the Broadway production (I swear I couldn’t remember that character in the cartoon)? Also, why wasn’t Mrs. Potts talking out of her spout? She ended up looking more inanimate here.

• If her mother really loved roses, then why was she even named Belle? Why not Rose or Rosita or Rosa? (So happy my mom was never fond of champaka.)

• Speaking of, when she brought back that rose heirloom and gave it to Maurice, wouldn’t that make him patient zero for another bubonic plague/outbreak?

4. Sorry bashers, but Emma Watson actually had a decent singing voice (regardless of Auto-Tune). My concern though was that she still acted very much like Hermione in a grand Hogwarts production of Beauty and the Beast. I even had lots of fun imitating her very British accent in provincial France (“Puh-paww!!”, “That’s ab-suhd!”).

The bigger surprise here was Luke Evans, a perfect casting choice for Gaston (no one even falls like Gaston!). I loved every moment he had with LeFou (played by Josh Gad, who should be in every Disney movie moving forward).

5. Poll question of the day: Did you like Dan Stevens as the Beast? Or more accurately, was he the Prince that you were expecting? Some people (cough, cough) wanted to kill me for laughing during the big reveal post-Beast transformation. My reaction was more of “Ehh” and I wanted it to be more of “Huwow!”. It certainly was no Devon Sawa moment in Casper.

I could understand Dan’s charms in a Benedict Cumberbatch way, but I really expected someone conventionally great-looking. Given the extensive use of motion capture in his Beast performance, he could have been replaced by Andy Serkis (yup, Gollum) and they could have gotten someone physically resembling Prince Charming.

6. When Belle ran up the hill and the camera started swirling around her, did the Sound of Music theme play in your head as well?

7. One of my favorite lines in the movie was from Plumette: “I grew three more feathers and I just plucked yesterday.” Story of my life right there.

8. Where was the openly gay character in the movie? A couple of people asked me if this was appropriate for kids, especially since the issue had been blown out of proportion. Fear not parents, there was no gay kissing or gay sex scene (this was still a Disney film after all).

Actually, there wasn’t even any mention of a character being out and proud. If anything, this should open up a whole new discussion on how Disney’s milking the gay uproar (vis a vis them proudly proclaiming the inclusion of a gay character) when there was none to begin with.

Everything pertaining to homosexuality was actually played for laughs (even that controversial blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance). That was even more disappointing than the states and countries that banned the movie. Where was the hyped progressivism, Disney?

9. Be Our Guest was my favorite sequence in the original and it felt a bit messy here (even more distracting in 3D/4DX with the constant seat movements and excessive flashing lights). The iconic dance scene was fine (hearing the wonderful theme did give me serious goosebumps) and I kinda liked the yellow dress even if it resembled the Halloween version being sold in Toy Kingdom. But why did they have to remove the romantic dinner? I also missed the swoon-worthy scenes of her blatantly teaching him how to dance and putting her head on his hairy chest. All we got here were those excessive shots of low-hanging chandeliers. Hay.

10. This movie still begged that age-old question though: Is it superficial if a woman falls for a man with a huge, uhm, library?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

A DOG’S PURPOSE (Lasse Hallström, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on A Dog’s Purpose:

1. I learned about death at a young age when my puppy Bubbles (breed unknown, probably an askal like most of our dogs back then) met her frozen demise outside our home. I could clearly remember stepping out of our front door that morning and seeing this furry creature lying on its back with all four legs stiffly pointed up. I didn’t scream or call my parents, but I did exactly what I learned from reading all of my fairy tale books: I forced myself to cry. I thought that if my innocent tears were to fall in those dead round eyes, my cute pet would magically come back to life.

She was buried hours later in the then vacant lot across the street. I wonder if our new neighbor ever knew that their house was actually built on top of a pet sematary.

2. I developed an allergy to fur years later (plus I had a traumatic rabid dog experience while biking in our village) so my interactions with animals grew less and less and now had been limited to watching their funny videos on Facebook.

This harmless movie provided very much the same kind of viewing experience. People audibly “Awww”-ed every time a puppy would be onscreen (especially ones that could do awesome tricks) and cried every time one of them would get sick and die. I really wished that there was more to the story though other than the basic one shown in the trailer (that already had me in tears).

3. It felt a bit weird hearing all of the dogs talk like Olaf, but Josh Gad made most of the cheesy lines bearable (and actually funny) like when Bailey Bailey Bailey Bailey first saw his new owner and declared, “I’ve decided right there and then, I’m keeping this boy”.

4. Although it didn’t answer if all dogs indeed go to heaven, it provided a twist on the concept of reincarnation. Did this mean that dogs have souls? What did that make of people that thought they were dogs in their previous lives? Could dogs also have been humans in the past? Would that explain why sometimes I feel like I’m wagging an invisible tail?

5. A lot of time was spent on the least interesting characters that included a boy, his abusive father, doormat mother, and lame love interest. Even if they were needed to tie up the ending, everything that happened to them felt weightless and disposable. Besides, KJ Apa as teenage Ethan had more chemistry with his abs than with the dog. He would better serve his purpose back in Riverdale.

Among the various stories, I felt most connected with the lonely cop. He was onscreen with the dog for a good ten minutes and I instantly understood their bond. That was the only time I actually bawled my eyes out while watching (a disappointment for a Dennis Quaid movie, considering that his previous films were infamous for making grown men turn into a puddle of tears).

6. Even if it crossed over to teleserye territory, it still wasn’t as effective as previous doggie flicks like Marley and Me or Hachiko. Also, there was a scene played for laughs where Bailey dug up a dead cat and brought it back to the kitchen. Your thoughts, cat lovers?

7. So the controversial scene that PETA made a big deal out of wasn’t true after all. I wish the same could be said about that Oro issue. “Lick the ones you love” just had an entirely different meaning. RIP Azucena.

Rating: ★★★☆☆