MOVIE REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (Bryan Singer, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on X-Men: Days of Future Past:

1. I am definitely not a comic book (or anything from the Marvel universe) fan so expect a lot of questions in a bit. But first, why did this feel like a 2-hour middle finger to Brett Ratner and the mess that he created?

2. I actually liked how the movie just didn’t care if you watched the previous films or knew the other characters. I had to create names for the ones that I didn’t know, though (Silver Surfer, Fireball, Sandara, etc.).

3. Wait, why was Patrick Stewart back? Wasn’t Professor Xavier killed in the last movie? Was he making a Gandalf comeback?

4. Ooh carnage! I would have cared more if I were a fanboy.

5. Ellen Page would always be Juno to me. If she were able to travel back in time, I wonder if she’d still give up her baby. And why did she have a lot of super powers here? She was able to pass through objects and make people time travel. Wow.

6. Gratuitous butt shot but who’s complaining?

7. As a huge American Horror Story fan, I squealed when Evan Peters showed up as a teen Flash (did anyone mention Quicksilver in the movie?). He surely had the best scenes and deserved a spin-off.

8. Halle Berry still had a thankless role. I hope she earned millions to roll her eyes. Who’s wishing for an X-Men Origins: Storm? Nobody.

9. Now that I thought about it, why did Professor Xavier have a British accent if he was living in the US ever since? Was there a back story I didn’t know of?

10. Product placement galore. I still prefer Coke products, though.

11. That Time in a Bottle scene was one of the best sequences I’ve seen all year. More reasons for a spin-off. Evan Peters is so ready for stardom.

12. You could never go wrong with Peter Dinklage. Or Michael Fassbender.

13. Did Mystique really have a substantial role in the comics or did they do this because Jennifer Lawrence is an Oscar-winning box-office draw now? (I have high hopes for Lupita Nyong’o as the young Storm. That’ll make me reconsider my Origins answer.)

14. So the movie in effect was basically one long dream sequence? So we wasted hours on the other movies that really didn’t happen as well?

15. Wait, why did the Sentinels have to reach the future before killing off the mutants when they were made back in the 70’s? Shouldn’t they have killed everyone before the other X-Men movies started happening?

16. When Quicksilver mentioned to Magneto that his mom also “knew a guy who could do that”, did that mean Magneto’s his (gasp!) father?!

17. JFK was a mutant. Coolness!

18. I’m all for redemption and second chances but I’m more into the time is immutable theory.

19. In the comics, who will remove the stadium and free up the White House again?

20. I know that J.Law and Nicholas Hoult are dating but why did Mystique flirt with Beast in the end? Or was I overanalyzing that scene as well?

I give up.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 26, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Marc Webb, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (and some trailers before the movie):

1. When they played Hooked on a Feeling in the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, I suddenly remembered Ally McBeal’s Oogachaka Baby. It’s time for a re-watch.

2. Will Annie be the feel-good movie of the year? Hearing Tomorrow gave me goosies. It was great to see a more grown-up Quvenzhane Wallis.

3. How many more versions of origin stories are we going to see? Am I the only one getting confused with all of these flashbacks?

4. It was funny that Apple didn’t seem to exist in the Marvel universe. Every single gadget from laptops to phones were made by Sony. How many shots of Vaio did you see?

5. I loved all of those aerial swooping scenes. This would be the perfect ride in Enchanted Kingdom’s Rialto complete with the cool wind effects blowing on your face. I was just concerned that all of those swinging would cause a lot of road accidents. Wouldn’t you scream your head off if Spidey suddenly appeared on your windshield?

6. When I initially heard Spidey’s ringtone, my brain went “Spider-Pig”! The Simpsons Movie clearly messed with my head.

7. And yet another Stan Lee cameo. Wait, if he’s required to show up in each and every Marvel movie, is it still considered a cameo role?

8. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone will forever remain my favorite Hollywood couple. Such excellent actors and their chemistry onscreen is just undeniable. I would love to see them in a Marc Webb rom-com.

9. Was I the only one having a Starting Over Again flashback in that fountain scene?

10. Webb directed (500) Days of Summer, one of my favorite movies of all time. He really knows how to handle these relationship dramas (Peter-Gwen, Peter-May, Peter-Harry, Peter-Richard, etc.). And yet two and a half hours was still not enough to tell all of these stories. The movie just ended like a setup for future installments. Couldn’t they have split this into two movies instead and focused on specific storylines?

11. Fame always comes with a cost. Scary.

12. The special effects in that Times Square scene was really good. I could have done without that slow-mo stairs scene, though.

13. I’ve always thought that water conducted electricity so I was surprised when it was used to weaken Electro (who resembled that nude Watchman character). Can someone explain this further? (Yes, I was bad in all of my Science classes.)

14. What’s with all of those endless quips? Why were there too many scenes that strain for laughs? And what is up with that relentless musical score?

15. Dane DeHaan looked like a lanky Leonardo DiCaprio meets Chito Miranda.

16. Spidey’s voice didn’t sound all that different from Peter’s. How could Harry not have known? Was this a classic case of the Darna-Narda syndrome?

17. That falling scene. That ending. THAT ENDING! Argh!!

18. “The heavier the box gets, the lighter I feel.” Bravo Sally Field! You just broke my heart.

19. I don’t think I’ve ever cried this much (or even at all) in a Marvel movie. I’ll probably be depressed until tomorrow.

20. There’s no need to wait for the end of the end credits. There’s no additional scene after the X-Men preview. You’re welcome.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 5, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE AVENGERS (Joss Whedon, 2012)

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I know a lot of Marvel fanboys will hate me and tell me to lighten up but 30 minutes into the movie and I was bored. Just like any ensemble movie, it took forever to provide a refresher on the characters’ back stories. Besides, it seemed like the Hulk alone could have saved the world, I’m not sure why we had to gather the entire team. Robert Downey, Jr. lit up the screen and stole all of his scenes. It made me wish they made an Iron Man sequel instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published May 4, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Joss Whedon, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Avengers: Age of Ultron:

1. The biggest problem with an ensemble cast of big stars (both the actors and the characters they play) is that it’s hard to give everyone equal screen time. In an attempt to pacify fans (and any bloated actor’s ego), Josh Whedon decided to pepper the screenplay with supposedly witty/funny one-liners for each character as highlights, most of them flopping with a resounding thud.

2. Sure, superhero movies should have the right dose of humor (worked for Iron Man, right?) but with or without, this one was still one big bore. We got the occasional big fight scenes to wake up the senses but there were still too many lull moments in between.

3. Obviously I’m not a huge Marvel fan (strike huge) but I’m wondering if the fanboys still liked this sequel.

4. Was Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing the same Quicksilver that was played by Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past? Why was Johnson’s version zapped of all personality?

5. When Thor hit the ground with his mighty hammer, why was everyone affected except for Captain America? Was this the reason why he felt uneasy when it was the latter’s turn to test if he could lift the said weapon?

6. Hulk had shades of Shrek in this sequel. And why don’t his pants fall off when he turns into a human again? (I know I keep asking this question but it’s not an excuse to see Ruffalo’s butt. I swear.)

7. I wished they utilized the Predator creature more. Actually, I wished that there would be a crossover movie with the Avengers vs Predator.

8. I was happy to see Hulk listening to some opera to soothe his emotions. I’ll probably try that at work next time.

9. The whole Ultron travelling in cyberspace thing gave me that Lucy/Transcendence nausea.

10. Does Stan Lee play a different character in every movie? Will we ever see all of his characters in another sequel?

11. Wait, how did Quicksilver die if he was faster than the bullets?

12. Apparently, merong forever. It’s trouble, according to Nick Fury.

13. Is this the last Avengers movie with Iron Man? Why would the most interesting character leave? The new batch doesn’t even seem likable.

14. Why do people leave as soon as the credits roll knowing that there’s always a within/post-credit sequence in every Marvel movie? And then they start blocking the view of everyone else that patiently waited for the said scene.

15. I’m so happy I watched this movie for free. Get your SM ePlus cards now!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published May 4, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

There’s really nothing to spoil when a movie barely has any stakes.

Anyway, was Marvel throwing major shade when the character who believed in the positive effect of genocide to cleanse the universe retired peacefully in the Philippines?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published April 30, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Captain America: The Winter Soldier:

1. Chris Evans came out onscreen wearing a really fitted tee and looking so ripped that I felt guilty about the Champ that I ate the other day. And then I realized that Captain America’s body was a product of science and unless I get recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., I would never achieve those pecs and abs anyway so I immediately bid farewell to guilt and started planning my Yellow Cab dinner.

2. How can nobody (except a kid) recognize a world-famous superhero with his own exhibit at the Smithsonian? If Chris Evans ever visited Divisoria wearing only a cap as a disguise, I would instantly know it was Chris Evans and I’d ask for a photo op (if I didn’t instantaneously faint first).

3. Since when did Captain America turn into Jason Bourne (or for that matter, Chuck Norris)?

4. I would advise all parents not to bring their kids to this movie. This is not your typical superhero flick. The amount of violence would be too much for the young ones.

5. Ooh goodie, it’s Emily Thorne!! And Robin from How I Met Your Mother!! And that guy from Gossip Girl!! Note to self: You need to watch less TV.

6. If you ask any guy for a word to describe Scarlett Johannson, 90% of them will say HOT (I’m thinking the other 10% would say something obscene). She was so far from hot in this movie, though. She actually looked old and tired. Can we blame that horrible hair?

7. Again, another scene with Chris Evans wearing glasses to conceal his identity. And Scarlett pulling a PDA to distract the superspies. The agency must be run and populated by idiots.

8. One scene pulled a Transcendence. If you’ve seen its trailer, you’d know what I’m referring to. Got me excited.

9. Do we really need a Stan Lee cameo in each and every Marvel movie? Is this a fanboy requirement? Not that I’m complaining. Playing “Spot Stan” is my favorite thing to do whenever I get bored.

10. I really loved the new Nick Fury. I can almost hear him shout “Get this motherfuckin’ patch off my motherfuckin’ eye!!”.

P.S. It’s a Marvel movie. Do not leave until the screen goes totally blank or you’ll miss the bonus scenes. Yes, plural.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 31, 2014.)

IT: CHAPTER TWO (Andy Muschietti, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

If you’re a huge Marvel fan, I’m sure alam mo yung feeling na halos mabaliw ka sa tuwa whenever you spot that Stan Lee cameo in every movie. Ganung level ang saya ko nung biglang lumabas si Stephen King as a shop owner who hated books with badly-written endings (wink, wink).

Mahirap talaga ma-capture ang lahat ng details of a King novel pero this was a pretty faithful adaptation. Hindi naman talaga siya outright clown horror story kaya na-appreciate ko na mas maraming fantasy elements this time around (including that Ritual of Chüd).

Standout sa adult cast si Bill Hader. Ang ganda ng ginawa nilang “change” sa character niyang si Richie. Mas nag-resonate yung brutal hate crime sa start ng movie (lalo na ngayon na ang daming bigots online).

Hindi naman problem ang three hour (almost six for both chapters) runtime considering na more than 1k pages ang libro pero ramdam pa rin ang pacing issues. Mas effective din yung horror element (plus nostalgia) nung mga bata sa first movie.

Iba talaga ang source of fears and nightmares nung childhood, no? Ngayong adult ka na, walang laban ang isang clown sa iyong latest Meralco bill.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: HENERAL LUNA (Jerrold Tarog, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Heneral Luna:

1. The disclaimer at the start of the movie was scary for two reasons: a) for a biopic slash historical epic, we don’t know the extent of cinematic license used in the movie, and b) indeed, a fictionalized history (or work of fiction inspired by true events?) doesn’t take away the fact that this is still a clear representation of the truth (both past and present).

2. Jerrold Tarog has always been a competent filmmaker. He’s the kind of director that can make a Shake Rattle and Roll episode end up better than most of the full-length Pinoy movies shown that year. (Also, watch Senior Year!!)

3. I think everyone will agree that the movie had one of the best ensemble casts in any Pinoy film. I loved how the receding hairline of Epy Quizon was put to good use as Apolinario Mabini. In terms of acting, Mon Confiado (as Emilio Aguinaldo) and Nonie Buencamino (as Felipe Buencamino) were clear standouts. I hope none of them show up in Felix Manalo or I will start getting confused.

4. One of the best lines in the movie:

“Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta!!”

I wonder when I can deliver this line in real life.

5. I particularly liked the Manifest Destiny scene because it stirred up emotions that shouldn’t even be there in this day and age (I so hated the American soldiers that I almost swore off eating burgers.)

6. A lot of reviews have pointed out that the film is a farce. I guess I’m being a purist then because I still want my History lessons all serious and dramatic. The rich content of Philippine History alone will never be boring. I guess I just didn’t understand all the funny quips despite the current situations (hey, it’s just war, people are just getting blown up, let’s all be like Cesar Montano and throw a witty one-liner or two!).

7. I was happy to see Antonio Luna portrayed as a deeply flawed character (never liked biopics that glorify their subject matter) but did it go too far? I could barely remember him in History class and now all I could think of was that he’s no different from Anger in Inside Out. Just about everything seemed to irk him to no end and everyone around him just looked completely dumb or incompetent. John Arcilla was fine in the lead role but I kept imagining him invoking the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow in every scene. I hate to say it but it bordered closely on caricature.

8. Did we really need that gratuitous head shot for shock value? If they were depicting the reality of war then why was Luna shown as someone invincible? He just kept saying his lines while walking close to enemy lines without getting hit. Maybe he had an agimat that we didn’t know of? (Was it the magical coin pouch that saved his life?)

9. In one scene, Luna was trying to talk to an American soldier and ended up saying something like, “Hulihin nyo na yan. Naubusan na ko ng Ingles” all for comic relief. I was surprised he didn’t just say “Nosebleed!”. Why didn’t they really get Montano for this role?

10. I remember one of my History teachers saying that when Rizal got shot, he tried to face the firing squad as a sign of pride and dignity. Is this correct? (I’m only asking because the Rizal here just waited to be shot at the back. Wait, that didn’t sound right.)

11. In another scene, Luna was strumming his guitar and he was shown to have perfectly polished nails. With this, I will always remember that even in trying times, one should never forget to have a manicure.

12. Why is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata the song of choice for war flashback scenes? I first heard this used in Madrasta with Sharon Cuneta’s grandfather recalling the war with Japanese soldiers. (Ooh, I need to watch that again.)

13. Old people love hitting tables for emphasis. (If you’ve done that recently…)

14. The scene that I abhorred the most would have to be the one where Luna was killed and the movie turned into a comical Carlo J. Caparas movie. Luna was betrayed and stabbed and shot several times (and had a hole carved in his right eye) by Filipino soldiers and I should have been appalled and angry by the betrayal but I was instead preventing a huge fart from trying not to laugh. Sure, History books would say that he was stabbed 30 or so times and that he continued to flinch after his death but I’m sure it didn’t say that he was Fernando Poe, Jr. (or a horror movie villain that just won’t die).

15. I remember Aguinaldo getting a bad rap for apparently ordering the assassination of Andres Bonifacio. He was portrayed the exact same way here with fingers directly pointed at him for giving the directive on the ambush of Luna. I never knew our first President was such a villain. Has anything changed since then?

16. The burning flag scene in its entirety covered everything that the movie was trying to say in two hours. Such powerful imagery.

17. There’s a mid-credits sequence!! In the same way that Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo had a Heneral Luna teaser, this one hinted at a Gregorio del Pilar spin-off (meaning more Paulo Avelino!). Move over Marvel, we have our Pinoy superheroes!

18. How many times did I mention History?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 16, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SPLIT (M. Night Shyamalan, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Split:

1. I wasn’t even surprised that M. Night Shyamalan (arguably the King of Twist Endings) decided to tackle dissociative identity disorder in his latest movie. Having a character with multiple personalities seemed like such a convenient way to mess with his audience’s brains. Except that the lead character Kevin Wendell Crumb’s (James McAvoy) condition was already revealed in the trailer so one was left to wonder what else he had up his sleeve.

Without completely spoiling the ending, let me just say that the reveal was nowhere close to what I expected, but it still felt like a huge letdown for such an interesting premise.

2. McAvoy looked like he was really having so much fun in the role of a man with 23 (and counting) different personalities. He was so good that he single-handedly played every character of John Cusack and company in the movie Identity.

My favorite persona was nine year old Hedwig (“Etcetera!”) that required him to do his best impression of Sean Penn in I Am Sam. A rewatch of Atonement should definitely be in order.

3. I liked that the three girl victims initially didn’t simply cower in fear and wait for a saviour (“That’s victim shit! The only chance we have is if all three of us go crazy on this guy!”).

What I didn’t like was that when they were faced with the actual threat, they still reacted like any of the dumb blondes that were viciously mocked in the Scream film series. Seriously, who would hide inside a locker to escape a predator? Or grab a walkie talkie and just stay inside the same space with the man that you’re running away from? Or helplessly cry in an isolated room and wait until the very last minute to find a way out? Anyare mga bes?

4. If it wasn’t blatant enough that the lead victim Casey (Anna Taylor-Joy of Morgan) was a survivor in life, we had to see a back story involving her tragic childhood of sexual abuse. I was surprised they didn’t purchase the rights to use Destiny’s Child’s Survivor as a theme song. Too expensive?

5. Worst cameo: Shyamalan himself as a security guard proclaiming that for Asian people, music aids digestion. I would like to suggest Yakult instead.

Best cameo: Bruce Willis as David Dunn, naturally. Unbreakable (the cracked glass on the poster should have been a giveaway!) has always been one of my favorite superhero films and although it was a stretch to link these two movies, it was still a refreshing nod to the pre-hack Shyamalan days (please note, I really liked his last film The Visit).

6. Speaking of, I was reminded of Unbreakable in the scene where Kevin placed flowers outside the subway that I secretly wished he wouldn’t turn out to be an accomplice of Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price (aka Mr. Glass). At least half of it came true.

Also, was I the only one reminded of Red Dragon during The Horde’s beastly transformation? Will this be the start of a Shyamalan superhero universe ala Marvel? Can we have someone with mental health issues be the hero next time (Casey!)?

7. “The broken are the more evolved.” Wow, so there really was a silver lining in all of those failed relationships!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆