TRAGIC THEATER (Tikoy Aguiluz, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on the aptly-named Tragic Theater:

1. The urban legend surrounding the Manila Film Center accident in 1981 was the stuff of a great horror movie. Apparently, Imelda Marcos wanted the building completed as part of the beautification of Manila in time for the first Manila Film Festival. Rescuers weren’t allowed at the site until 9 hours after the accident. Since the construction had to be rushed, some bodies were buried alive and the rest were never retrieved. The ghosts of these men still haunted the said building. Spooky, right? All of these were never in the movie.

2. The screenplay was credited to Movpix Creatives. Was this a pseudonym or a group of geniuses that came up with the following choice lines:

Spirit Questor to ghosts: “Ang babaw ng mga dahilan nyo. Wala kayong pakialam sa aming mga buhay pa. Umalis na kayo!!”

Spirit Questors to the possessed Andi Eigenmann (Annie) floating 10 feet in the air: “Annie, bumaba ka diyan!!”

John Estrada (Fr. Nilo) gave a long sermon on why everyone should listen to him (all while Annie floated) and ended it with: “Wag na tayong magsisihan.”

Fr. Nilo: “Sino ang nasa katawan ni Annie?”

Possessed Questor: “Hindi namin siya kilala. Ang tawag namin sa kanya ay Diablo.”

Fr. Nilo: “Maari mo ba sabihin kung ano ang itsura ng Diablo na ito?”

The group asked for help from a Bishop (Christopher de Leon) and Fr. Nilo said: “Hindi ko po alam ang nangyari kay Annie pero nakasabit po sya sa ere.”

Annie during flashbacks: “Anong nangyayari? Bakit bumabalik ang mga nakaraan ko?”

3. I honestly couldn’t remember the rest of the atrocious dialogue from laughing too hard.

4. Did we really need that flying scarf?

5. I loved how the movie wanted to be a Public Service Announcement regarding the horrors of technology. There was a scene where Annie was checking her phone while driving and she almost rammed into another car. In another scene, everyone that was part of the seance was given the directive “Walang bibitaw” and when her phone rang, the first thing she did was check it. Twice.

6. To be fair, there were glimpses of the greatness of Tikoy Aguiluz who made Pinoy classics like Bagong Bayani and Segurista. But then again, three beautiful shots couldn’t compensate for an hour and a half of torture.

7. There was a gratuitous rape scene that merited the R-16 rating, a hint of a relationship between Annie and Fr. Nilo, and an overlong possession story with the Bishop. Too many stories being crammed when all it needed was focus on the actual theater plot.

8. Dear Andi, when your mother is considered one of Philippine Cinema’s Greats, you just can’t give that kind of performance.

9. It took the team a good forty minutes to realize that all they needed to bring Annie down was a stepladder. Really.

10. Hint of a sequel? I can’t wait!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 12, 2015.)

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KUNG FU PANDA 3 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni, 2016)

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My notes on Kung Fu Panda 3:

1. Do any of you still remember that scene in Maalaala Mo Kaya the Movie when Chin Chin Gutierrez came back from Japan to reclaim her son from sister Aiko Melendez, who took care of him while she fulfilled her role as the best pabayang ina? In that highly-charged confrontation, Aiko clutched at her blouse and wailed, “Iniluwal mo lang siya, Marissa! Ako ang bumuhay sa kanya!”, then cried even more when Ruffa Gutierrez stole her Manila Film Festival Best Actress Award via the Take It, Take It Scam. (Why do these Gutierrezes love taking things from her? Also, RIP Viveka Babajee.)

2. I was expecting that same level of emotions when Po’s long-lost father came back and took him away from good ‘ol Mr. Ping, so I was a bit disappointed that there was no telenovela acting involved here. I could just imagine how hard it would have been for a goose to balance his work in the noodle factory and raise a species not his own. And for the real father to just barge in their lives and take away their shared happiness, that was just unacceptable. Wait, why did I care so much? Besides, having two dads seem to be the new normal so I should stop complaining.

3. The animation was impressive to say the least. It had been one of the strongest points of this franchise (even in part 2, a movie I didn’t particularly like). The watercolor feel just went really well with the overall tone of the movie and delivered the promised cheeky fun (I was laughing as soon as I saw Po on the Dreamworks logo) and gorgeous kung fu sequences.

4. One character finally asked the question that had been bugging me after all my years of watching those Saturday afternoon Chinese movies on TV, “Do we have to strike a pose every time we land?”.

5. Dreamworks hit the jackpot with that panda village. It could be their own Minions. Seriously, they could create a spin-off for any of those distinct, lovable characters. Who wouldn’t want to see them in an adventure where they wouldn’t walk, but just roll? My favorite one would have to be that smirking panda in need of dental surgery.

6. I would always have a soft spot for characters that were fat or had asthma. When Po asked, “Do you have panda asthma, too? Does it run in the family?”, I just adored him even more.

7. Words of wisdom from Master Shifu: “If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.” Whoaaaaahh! Skidoosh!!

Rating: ★★★★☆