COLLATERAL BEAUTY (David Frankel, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Collateral Beauty:

1. The movie started with Will Smith (as Howard, an advertising executive) delivering a supposedly empowering and emotional speech to his team (“We all long for love, wish for more time, and fear death”), but said message closely resembled the coffee commercial asking us “Para kanino ka bumabangon?”. I actually expected him to take a sip of Nescafe after every dramatic pause. How could advertising illuminate other people’s lives if we’re dealt the same treacly platitudes?

2. Trauma caused by the death of a loved one should be a gold mine for emotional manipulation (nothing wrong with it, if executed properly). Instead, the movie decided to be a dark comedy where Howard’s co-workers slash friends hired professional actors to play abstract characters (Love, Time, and Death) that interacted with him and made him appear all sorts of crazy. Some friends, no?

3. I liked how the movie raised the discussion on bereavement hallucinations. Maybe this could help explain all the ghost stories of loved ones visiting us days after their death. Or why I would imagine a giant KFC chicken on our dining table Temptation Island-style whenever I would go on these unsuccessful New Year’s resolution diets.

4. One character mentioned that “casting is very important” and it couldn’t be more true in this one. Without Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren, among others, this probably would have been a Christmas TV movie on Lifetime.

5. Speaking of Mirren, she performed a holiday miracle here by making the most out of a thankless role (“It turns out Death was an elderly white woman.”). Her character kept complaining that she should have played all the parts and at some points, I actually wished she did.

6. As a huge Winslet fan, I had always been fascinated with her wobbly American accent and her waterloo was always the word “absurd”. I swear, check out her other films.

7. I think my eyes rolled out of their sockets in the scene where Howard described the experience of seeing his newborn daughter with “I looked at her and I realized I wasn’t feeling love, I have become love.” Another reason why I would never be a father.

8. The digital manipulation done on Howard’s breakdown videos must have cost these characters a fortune. Surely, there were better and more cost-efficient options.

9. Twist after (predictable) twist that didn’t really matter. Everything felt inauthentic down to the buckets of tears that flowed in every other scene. Boo hoo indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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DEADPOOL (Tim Miller, 2016)

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My notes on Deadpool:

1. As promised, it was indeed a different kind of superhero movie from the hilarious opening credits, the outright mockery of the genre, the constant breaking of the fourth wall, the gratuitous sex and graphic violence, and down to the silly send-up of post-credits scenes. The actual structure of the movie didn’t stray that far from the superhero formula (origin story, cheesy love story with a damsel in distress, group of super friends, climactic battle scene with a felonious villain, acceptance of new identity) but the occasional profanity, crude humor, and immense self-awareness actually worked to its advantage. In the end, it was a very entertaining Marvel movie. (Were the jokes as funny after repeated viewings? Could fanboys confirm, please?)

2. Has there been another movie with opening credits of this kind? It was fun trying to match the stereotypes with the actual characters and actors (“God’s perfect idiot”, “a hot chick”, a “gratuitous cameo” that shouldn’t be a surprise to Marvel fans). The movie might have been directed by a “douchebag director” that was also an “overpaid tool” but all that money didn’t go to waste. (Kudos for acknowledging that the “real heroes here” were the writers.)

3. Inasmuch as I liked Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder, I really thought that he could never recover from the Green Lantern disaster. After that, it was just one box office bomb after another that I already said RIP to his career after RIPD. Similar to Robert Downey, Jr., it took just one perfect role to jump-start his resurgence (US opening weekend at $135M, the biggest for an R-rated film). The fact that he openly and so gamely made fun of himself (requesting that his supersuit not be green, references to being the Sexiest Man Alive, joking about his obvious lack of talent) just made everything even funnier.

4. When is the next season of Silicon Valley? T.J. Miller (he played the bartender Weasel) may have bombed as the host of the recent Critics’ Choice Awards but he would always be one of my favorite TV geeks. And speaking of TV, I have seen the full glory of Morena Baccarin’s breasts on Homeland and they still looked glorious on the big screen (hey, I was also entitled to an R-rated comment!).

5. In one scene, Deadpool (“That sounds like a fucking franchise!”) mentioned a “fourth wall break in a fourth wall break, so that’s like 16 walls!” and my favorite ones would have to be:

• When Colossus asked him to see the Professor and he deadpanned, “Stewart or McAvoy? These timelines are so confusing!” (Preach!)

• When he visited the X-Men mansion and mentioned that he only kept seeing Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus as if “the studio couldn’t afford another X-Men”.

6. The aforementioned cheesy love story (“Your crazy matches my crazy”, huhubelles) seriously reminded me of that Lorna Tolentino early 90’s movie Gaano Kita Kamahal. I probably alienated all of you fanboys with this reference but I swear Christopher de Leon also had the same burnt face and it was a remarkable true story of love and acceptance (and thankfully no dialogue that he had a face that she could sit on). I might need to dig up my VHS copy of that film and find a working player so I can rewatch.

7. I would never look at a dish soap brand the same way again (wink, wink).

8. Can someone explain why people start leaving as soon as the end credits roll when they know for a fact that this is a Marvel movie and has a 99% chance of a post-credits scene? Please tell me that I’m not the only one annoyed whenever the said scene would start playing and then people that have already stood up would suddenly stop and block the view of those that are still seated and patiently waited for it. End of rant.

P.S. Loved the “What were you expecting? Sam Jackson in an eye patch?” joke. I do hope they cast Keira Knightley as Cable.

Rating: ★★★★☆

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Burr Steers, 2016)

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My notes on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

1. I’ve seen several versions of Pride and Prejudice and my favorite would have to be the one directed by Joe Wright and starred the quintessential Victorian beauty Keira Knightley. It must be said though that Colin Firth in the BBC miniseries is and will always be Mr. Darcy (even my literary twin Bridget Jones agrees). Look for any of these versions and watch them instead.

2. I still haven’t recovered from the awfulness of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and this other genre mashup wasn’t any better. The zombies could have been replaced by vampires or werewolves and it wouldn’t have made any difference since the zombie plague was just a mere backdrop to the story. If anything, it actually felt like a crime to ruin the Jane Austen classic. Why not turn Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) into a manananggal instead? That would have been more interesting. I hope they also make a Crime and Punishment and Tikbalangs or William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Undin Juliet.

3. James was really lovely so I was confused when she wasn’t deemed the prettiest one among the brood. At least in the Knightley version, Jane Bennet was played by Rosamund Pike so it was a bit more acceptable. (FYI, James must really love wearing a corset because she’s also in Downton Abbey and the lead in the current BBC miniseries War & Peace.)

4. The supposed novelty here was that the Bennet sisters were actually trained in martial arts and swordfighting so they always entered a scene in a Sucker Punch formation (slow motion, of course) ready for battle. Most of the fight scenes involved mere poking (simple tusok-tusok) and some scenes were even too dark to actually see all the action happening onscreen.

5. One of the few sources of enjoyment here was Doctor Who’s Matt Smith playing the bumbling Mr. Collins. He seemed to be aware that he was trapped in a dud so he fully embodied all the silliness required by the role.

6. “If they don’t eat brains, they don’t turn into full zombies.” Ahh, that explains Plants vs. Zombies.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆