JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM (Chad Stahelski, 2019)

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Sobrang lamig sa sinehan pero pinawisan pa rin ako sa mga action scenes.

That knife fight sequence alone was gold.

And I’m happy to see the LGBTQ represented here by the canines hahaha!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (Nahnatchka Khan, 2019)

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Disappointingly formulaic from the brilliant minds behind Fresh Off the Boat, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, and Ali Wong: Baby Cobra. Seriously, Keanu Reeves’ special cameo was the entire highlight of the movie.

“Can I hold your purse for you?” as a declaration of love would be the equivalent of a guy carrying his girlfriend’s handbag as a romantic gesture. Sweet to some maybe, but it always made me cringe because: 1) people shouldn’t bring stuff they couldn’t carry on their own, and 2) the bag usually clashed with the boyfriend’s outfit.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

47 RONIN (Carl Rinsch, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 47 Ronin:

1. Ohmy, they speak English in feudal Japan. I think I’ll enjoy this movie. Ugh!

2. Wait, isn’t this the sensei of Emily Thorne? Is she also one of the ronins? That would be so cool!

3. I want the Lady Gaga-inspired outfit that the old man wore when he committed seppuku. It’s perfect for the Golden Globes tomorrow.

4. I loved the part where Keanu Reeves started singing, “Langit kaaaa, lupa akoooo…”

5. One character is named Oishi. My tongue started craving for those delicious salty shrimp crackers.

6. A man gets thrown in a deep pit and one year later he still looks healthy. What multivitamins do these samurais take? I want ’em.

7. A version of the the Sanduguan using blood fingerprints to sign a contract. I wish they focused more on this band of brothers.

8. The theater actor with the funny white mask looks like Ketchup Eusebio. Watch the movie and tell me I’m wrong.

9. “I will search for you through one thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you.” Eek! It just gave me heartburn.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 13, 2014.)

THE NUN (Corin Hardy, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Nun:

1. Long before Kidzania, Sky Ranch, Enchanted Kingdom, Star City, Boom na Boom, Glico’s, Payanig sa Pasig and Big Bang sa Alabang, the certified 80’s kids had that glorious haven located in the heart of Cubao called Fiesta Carnival. It was an indoor amusement park filled with the coolest rides and the best perya games ever created.

My favorite attraction there was this dingy horror ride (the predecessor of the corny horror train) where you would sit in a tiny cart that would pass through this long, dark tunnel split into several rooms (your cart would enter them by bumping onto the sliding doors) and each room was filled with every kind of supernatural entity designed to scare the crap out of you. One area would have like a ghost suddenly flying above your head while another would have a vampire jumping out of his coffin.

It felt very much like a nightmare that wouldn’t stop until you literally puked your kiddie guts out from all the screaming. That experience would probably be the closest equivalent I could think of for this movie that was relentlessly packed with jump scares. The only difference though was that I was no longer six years old.

2. In the Conjuring Universe, this would probably fall right smack in the middle with the best being the first Conjuring film and the worst being the first Annabelle. As a huge horror fan, I’d usually hate the ones that would sacrifice a good story over some cheap scares, but this one proved to be an exception (yes, I enjoyed it more than I probably should have).

Maybe it was because it didn’t take itself seriously (it definitely failed as an origin story because it didn’t really tell much about Valak aka Sister Marilyn Manson) and just took on the full silliness of its premise by upping the scream quotient (regardless of how effective they were).

3. With all the hilarious moments here through Frenchie-Canadian (Jonas Bloquet), I wasn’t even sure if it was trying to be a parody of the past movies (or even the genre). I mean, that scene where he pulled an oversized cross from a grave and ran with it all the way to a local bar was definitely a joke (and a really funny one, too).

Plus, you could probably name every cliché in the horror rule book and it was included here (except for a cat jumping out of the shadows, unless I missed that one). When one nun fell face down on the floor, everybody knew that somebody would grab her legs and pull her away from the camera. That corpse covered with a white sheet? It would come alive screaming, of course. And the scene where a nun suddenly dropped from a tree while hanging from a noose? It was done far better by Ynez Veneracion with her crazy eyes in Chito Roño’s The Healing. But all of these generated a symphony of screams (with some people literally jumping out of their seats) in our almost sold-out screening that made me enjoy the viewing experience even more.

4. When that horse-drawn carriage suddenly pulled up outside that monastery, I half-expected Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker to come out and seduce Valak with his tasty blood. I didn’t even care much about the supposedly creepy atmosphere of the broken-down monastery and smoky graveyard, I still found olden Romania incredibly romantic. Now what does that say about me?

5. Did Father Burke (Demián Bichir) provide an answer to his question on the opposite of miracle? This had been bugging me for days and Google was no help. Also, his character didn’t really figure much in the overall story, but at least he was able to deliver lines like “There is a time for prayer and a time for action”. Ooh, very Balweg, the Rebel Priest!

6. Glad that they actually made the effort to tie this up with the earlier films, although I was a bit disappointed that Sister Irene (an effective Taissa Farmiga) did not have any relation to Lorraine Warren (my darling Vera Farmiga) even if they obviously looked exactly alike. I would just assume that she was her reincarnation, which would explain why Valak was stalking her for several decades.

Side note: It felt iffy when the crowd started shipping Sister Irene and Frenchie-Canadian after that “kiss of life” scene, complete with an audible (and juvenile) “Yiheeeee!”. I felt the same way when this group of horny teens let everyone know that they were lusting over Phoebe Walker’s Sister Cecilia in Seklusyon. Forgive them Mother Butlers, for they have sinned. (Ang linis ko, thank you!)

7. I really liked that silent circle of prayer scene. Never thought I would ever get scared of a group (waddle? nyahaha!) of nuns especially after Sister Act, but this one came really close when they suddenly blew up in all directions (the Silent Hill-type scene that followed where they weren’t moving when Frenchie-Canadian entered the chamber was spooky, too). And then Sister Irene grew a burning parol on her upper back and I was laughing yet again (still not over all those Jose Mari Chan memes).

Another side note: I suddenly remembered that Netflix movie Veronica with the blind Mother Superior. Considering that I never had the traumatic experience of a nun hitting me with a ruler for wearing a skirt two inches shorter than the required length, I had always wondered why people were actually scared of them. Why would an image of a nun staring directly at you from outside your bedroom window elicit chills? And why would it be frightening if that same nun would now be standing right next to you while you were reading this? Don’t look!!

8. I usually hated watching with such a noisy crowd (seriously, everyone started screaming when the lights were turned off, even if it was just the Aquaman trailer that was played after), but hearing these straight guys pretend to be the bravest souls while clutching on to their girlfriends’ hands just doubled the entertainment factor. And yes, mas malakas pa sila tumili kesa sa mga date nila. Aliw lang.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THE EQUALIZER 2 (Antoine Fuqua, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Equalizer 2:

1. Back in my sophomore year of college, I would usually spend the long gaps between classes with the rest of the boys in an internet shop right across our school. We would be playing this first-person shooter game called Counter-Strike in two opposing groups (sometimes against other schools) killing terrorists and defusing bombs. People hated having me on their team because I was the noob that would shoot at anything that moved (including my teammates) and never fully grasped the concept of stealth.

In the final action sequence of this movie that closely resembled that game, the main villain (who looked a bit like Justin Trudeau) committed every amateur (read: loser) move until he finally got himself killed. Because seriously, why would you be standing on a tower, thereby exposing yourself to any opponent below you? Any long range sniper rifle could easily take you out. I was so frustrated that I had no control on this character until I realized that I was just basically the pot calling the kettle black.

2. I wasn’t fond of the Death Wish-like vigilante original so I felt surprised when Denzel Washington chose to reprise his Robert McCall character (he should have left these action sequels to Keanu Reeves or Jason Statham). Given our country’s current political setting, I also found it off-putting that he played a character that still took matters into his own hands. Sure, it felt slightly good watching him serve justice on these rapists by breaking their noses and ribcages and fingers, but there was still this nagging feeling at the back of my mind whether that was the (morally) right thing to do.

On the other hand, maybe I was just overthinking things and this violence-filled entertainment was really just an excuse to watch good ‘ol Denzel beat the crap out of people. (It still didn’t explain how he actually found the time to set up posters and other props for that final, stormy showdown, though.)

3. It was a relief to see that he actually played a Lyft driver on the side because after all of my horror stories with Grab, I would never think that any of them were modern-day superheroes. If they could easily pretend to be stuck in traffic while asking me to cancel the booking on my end, why would I even trust them to save my life? (Ang pait!)

Side note: If he was registered in the company’s system (and even ordered five star ratings), wouldn’t his enemies know how to track him down? Wasn’t that against the entire point of superheroes having secret/alter identities?

4. Nuggets of wisdom:

• “There are two kinds of pain: the pain that hurts and the pain that alters.” (This was so ripe for a Star Cinema translation!)

• “Always be nice to anybody who has access to your toothbrush.” (One of the reasons why I always tried to avoid conflict with Madam Rose, especially since I never saw her clean my bathroom with an actual toilet brush.)

My favorite line though was when a young man asked “Who the (f-word) is this (n-word)?” and Denzel replied without missing a beat, “I’m your father. Your momma just didn’t tell you.” (Insert dab pose here.)

5. Melissa Leo was horrible in this movie. Her performance reminded me of that cringey “Did I really win even if I collected almost all of the precursor awards and even paid for my own FYC ads?” act during her Oscar speech.

6. Were the Hurricane references intentional? My inner trivia geek was happy.

7. That tense phone call was taken straight out of Taken. It didn’t make the two-way mirror scene any less nail-biting, though.

8. See this would be one of the reasons why I never wanted to make a lot of enemies. The easiest and most cruel revenge would always be to get back on your loved ones. Or maybe use your toothbrush to clean the toilet.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE GIFT (Sam Raimi, 2000)

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If there was one thing that Being John Malkovich taught me, it was never to get inside other people’s crazy heads. I wouldn’t wish to be a psychic even if it could guarantee a possible win at the lotto (besides, it was mentioned here that this gift didn’t work for personal gains). It’d just be too scary (and dangerous) to know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

Queen Cate Blanchett was magnificent as always. I also liked Giovanni Ribisi doing his usual cuckoo bit, but the biggest surprise in this psychological thriller was Keanu Reeves (finally) delivering a decent performance.

As the biggest fan of Dawson’s Creek, I remember watching this for the first time and being appalled when Katie Holmes (aka virginal Joey Potter) made buyangyang her boobies, while the rest of the guys thanked Raimi for the gratuitous nudity.

Also, the bimpo made me cry. I’m a hopeless emotional mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter:

1. When a movie promised to be the final chapter and still ended with a scene that was a complete set-up for another sequel, it wouldn’t be any different from opening a box of KFC with a measly original recipe leg part even if the store specifically agreed to deliver a hot and crispy breast part.

I would never ever be fooled in watching another entry from this trashy series again. (I’d still order from KFC though, because well, KFC.)

2. Since this was supposedly the final chapter, it started with a recap of the events from the first 20 movies with another explanation on why the T-virus was created. Apparently, mankind should be grateful because it served as a cure for progeria (a condition that worked like a reverse Benjamin Button).

I then remembered watching this documentary about a girl named Ashley who had the same sickness and I felt bad that there wasn’t a real T-virus (or zombies, for that matter).

3. Speaking of, the initial zombie attack here happened inside a cable car and I thought that it would take the 28 Weeks Later route (hey, the videogames had always been about getting the crap scared out of you in a zombie apocalypse). Unfortunately, it decided to be the next Matrix and focused on Alice’s revenge and subsequent infiltration of the labyrinthine The Hive.

4. Perennial Golden Raspberry nominee Milla Jovovich summoned the spirit of Keanu Reeves (or probably Kristen Stewart, in one of her good moods) and thankfully wasn’t required to do much except shoot her gun and look cool on a motorcycle.

5. A lot of the nifty action sequences were rehashed supposedly as an homage to the previous chapters, only they weren’t as effective (I was happy to see that they brought back the moving laser beams but I wanted to see more than just fingers getting sliced off).

Besides, with all the flash cuts, dim lighting, and nauseating editing, it was just too hard to decipher whatever action was happening onscreen.

6. In one scene, several rounds of machine gun ammo and heat missiles were fired, but none of them even came close to hitting our heroine. Cue Invincible by Kelly Clarkson.

7. “The trinity of bitches united in hatred.” Also known as Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, and Karen Smith.

8. Although a bit contrived, it was interesting to see the two POVs determining the success rates of different options (choice of weapons: ice pick, decanter, phantom pen). I actually wished that there was an app that worked the exact same way.

Dear app, what food could fully satisfy my midnight cravings?

• McDonald’s 2 pcs. Mushroom Pepper Steak Meal (68%)

• Jollibee Chicken and Spaghetti Meal (82%)

• KFC Fully Loaded Meal (91%).

I really hope they would get my order right this time.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆