MOVIE REVIEW: BLOCK Z (Mikhail Red, 2020)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Enjoyed a couple of thrilling sequences, but everything else just felt completely derivative. Wala ako pinalampas na zombie movie kaya sila agad yung naiisip kapag merong familiar na eksena. Tapos yung reveal na takot ang zombies sa tubig eh kakagamit lang sa Lola Nidora movie na Train to Ubusan. Di ba nila napanood yun?

People can hate on Julia Barretto all they want, but she’s a really sensitive actress and definitely one of the better ones of her generation. Sayang lang kasi yung female empowerment action scenes niya happened towards the end na. Also, nauna yun gawin ni Erich Gonzalez sa We Will Not Die Tonight so medyo less ang impact sa akin.

Ian Veneracion looked like a vampire amidst all the zombies. Bakit di siya tumatanda at all? At may time talaga siya mag-solo concert with his guitar knowing na easily triggered by noise ang mga nagkakagulong zombies sa labas ha. Nahiya naman sa kanya si Kumander Liway.

Ang apt lang that Ian and Julia’s characters supposedly won the genetic lottery in this movie (meaning immuned sila sa zombie virus). Pero hello, we don’t need anyone to tell us na nanalo talaga sila sa genetic lottery na yan kasi mukha akong aliping saguiguilid next to them.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE PANTI SISTERS (Jun Lana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Nung napanood ko pa lang yung teaser nito (with that wonderful Dalagang Pilipina remix), na-excite na ako sobra. Based kasi sa recent baklaan films ni Jun Lana (like my favorite Die Beautiful), usually smart ang humor at hindi basta dinadaan sa typical Pinoy slapstick or lowbrow comedy na naglalaitan ng itsura (insert your chosen MMFF entry here). Sad to say, napamura na lang ako na parang si Heneral Luna habang palala nang palala ang takbo ng pelikula.

Kahit nagamit na sa trailer, benta pa rin sa ’kin yung “Sa exit ka dumaan, hindi sa entrance” scene nina Gabriel (Paolo Ballesteros) at Kat (Roxanne Barcelo). Tapos nakakaaliw na faux brand fashionista slash film lover si Samuel (Christian Bables, bringing back that fabulous Barbs vibe) bilang nakasuot siya ng Supreeme at Mosohino habang nagde-deliver ng quotes from Himala, Kaya Kong Abutin ang Langit, at It Takes a Man and a Woman. At ang cute ng datingan ni K-Pop Daniel (Martin del Rosario) lalo na nung iniiyakan niya ang kanyang Pepe.

Nakakatawa naman talaga ang ibang parts lalo na sa simula kasi maganda ang batuhan ng linya at eksenahan ng mga sizies. Yung magagaling na performances ng tatlo talaga ang nagdala ng buong movie (kasama na rin si John Arcilla as the coldhearted, homophobic father Don Emilio). Kung meron man talaga part 2 (as hinted during the end credits), sana magamit ng husto ang overflowing talents nila.

Sayang lang at mabilis naging repetitive ang jokes, from the breaking the fourth wall (na very local sitcom) to the nth Panti equals panty punchline (that also ruined a touching scene in the end). Yun ngang long table parang nagamit na sa exact same gag ng Kalyeserye (bakit sikat ang bahay ni Lola Nidora sa PPP? Ito rin ang bahay sa Circa).

Ang gulo ng transitions minsan lalo na yung sa kare-kareng kokak na napunta bigla sa abortion talk. Cute pa naman sana yung entire Moon Prism Power Make-up sequence (lalo na at ang genuine ng interactions ng magkakapatid) kaso sobrang haba ng fight scene na hindi naman nakakatawa. Buti bumawi ng slight sa hilarious “Ikaw ay Akin” mata-mata showdown.

Pero ang worst offense ng pelikula ay yung biglang naging drama sa dulo just to drive home its point. Yung feeling na parang isinasampal sa pagmumukha ng audience ang message na hindi salot ang mga bakla (kahit na may ongoing joke na nagnanasa ang Pantis sa kanilang cousins at hypocrite ang hindi aamin) at kelangan ng lahat ma-enlighten sa necessity ng SOGIE bill at gay marriage (para hindi mapilitang magpakasal ang mga bakla sa fag hags nila habang todo ang muk-up sa simbahan; pumayag si Father?). Yes, important ang topics, pero nagkulang talaga sa execution.

Anyare sa subtlety? Kulang na lang merong “Ang mga bakla na lumilipad ay mahal ng Diyos, di kumukupas…” remix.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bilib na bilib ako kay Ms. Anita Linda dito. More than double my age na siya (she’s almost 95!!) pero alam pa rin niya lahat ng mga lines niya dito as the incredibly rich film producer Doña Atang na nakatira sa bahay ni Lola Nidora. Samantala ako hindi ko na maalala minsan saan ko naipatong ang cellphone ko. Iba talaga kapag batikang artista. Totoong walang kupas!!

Napaka-appropriate lang na kasama ito sa Sine Sandaan section ng PPP. May pagka-love letter siya to Philippine Cinema with all the juicy tidbits on the history of local film productions/filmmaking (shooting processes, crucial role ng lagarista, yung diva attitude of certain celebrities, yung rivalry nung mga stars of the golden age, etc.) tapos may mga sundot pa sa current industry (nakakatawa yung sinabi ng character ni Alessandra de Rossi na di na uso ang quality films ngayon kaya puro TV work na lang, na “mouth to mouth” duguan levels ang paggawa).

Mahilig talaga sa all-star cast si Alix (parang halos kalahati ng local film industry may cameo dun sa last movie niya na Madilim ang Gabi) kaya di naman ako nagulat sa mga bigating artista dito kabilang na sina Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Laurice Guillen, Ricky Davao, Liza Lorena, Perla Bautista, etc. Nakakalungkot din makita si Eddie Garcia in full Manoy glory. (Pero kasama ba sa original script yung “Ingat ka baka ka madapa?”. Grabe yung gasp ko sa part na yun nag-echo sa buong theater bilang ako lang ang nanunuod.)

Pinaka-natuwa ako kay Jaclyn Jose dito as the mayordoma of the house. Walang dramatic highlights (except for that weird Amour moment) pero markado ang pagganap. Lakas ng tawa ko nung nag-advocate siya for DVD piracy considering na nagsisilbi siya sa isang producer. Sabagay yung isang character nga sinabi na “Di naman ako namimirata ng local. Puro English lang, makabawi man kang kasi sila ang dahilan bakit tayo humina.” Hmm, magandang topic yan for discussion ha.

Marami siguro ang mababagalan sa pacing ng pelikula pero ok naman siya for me. Medyo mahaba lang at repetitive yung tribute section sa party scene. Pero sobrang fascinated talaga ako in all things na local showbiz kaya nagandahan ako (siguro ang litmus test would be if kaya mo ma-distinguish ang difference ng FAMAS at FAP statues, then this one’s for you). Natuwa din ako dun sa tikbalang na inaalayan ng ponkan kapalit ng box office returns (Mother Lily, what’s your secret?).

Basta sobrang affected ako dito. Nung nag-start na si Doña Atang ng speech niya with “Ang buhay natin ay parang pelikula…”, naluha na lang ako bigla.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: TRIP UBUSAN: THE LOLAS VS ZOMBIES (Mark Reyes, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

To say that this was inspired by Train to Busan would be an understatement since it directly lifted several key scenes (and characters) from that Korean sleeper hit. In this Kalyeserye version though, Lola Nidora (Wally Bayola) played the role of Gong Yoo (shoray ni lola!), also bitten by a zombie in the end before she jumped (was pushed?) off a moving speedboat. (Don’t worry, the saltwater magically cured her for the requisite happy ending.)

We rarely get local zombie movies (either we’re not technologically advanced to accidentally unleash a new virus strain or our bodies were just auto-immuned from all the pollution and dirt in our country) so I was a bit excited to watch this one. Unfortunately, it relied too much on slapstick humor that it ended up without a sense of danger or threat on any of the characters all throughout.

In one scene, the ragtag group (mostly Eat Bulaga alums) just happened to pass by a welding shop and it took a miraculous two-minute montage for them to fortify their bus. In another, the barbed wire separating the humans from the zombies was (questionably) raised so that Angelika dela Cruz could easily run to her zombie husband for a dramatic reconciliation.

Nothing here really made sense. Which would have been fine if at least the gags were funny. The three lolas pulled all the weight and the drop in energy was noticeable whenever they were offscreen. I would love to see them next in a family drama. Mukhang magaling magpaiyak ang JoWaPao. Until then, we’d have to be contented with this zombie movie where the undead extras try their best to avoid a rampaging bus.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆