ANNIE (Will Gluck, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Annie:

1. The movie opened with a typical Annie, a tiny freckle-faced Caucasian redhead, reading a report on former US Presidents. The teacher then called the real Annie, played by Quvenzhane Wallis, a smart and spunky African-American. I loved this wink, wink opening because Wallis was just too adorable in the lead role. I was also happy with the color blind casting because the role of Annie had nothing to do with her skin color anyway.

2. When I heard the teacher call Annie B., I immediately thought Annie Batungbakal and I started humming the theme song and imagined Nora doing a song and dance number (“Sa umaga, dispatsadora. Sa gabi, siya’y bonggang-bongga…”).

3. For a musical, most of the production numbers felt lacking. The only one I truly enjoyed was It’s The Hard Knock Life. Everything else felt joyless. Even the classic Tomorrow wasn’t memorable since it just had her walking the streets of Harlem. Why bother with a remake?

4. Cameron Diaz can be funny whenever she goes bat-shit crazy in her movies. Here, her campiness only served as a distraction. She was just irritating all throughout. Even her musical number was horrible. Do you still remember her singing “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” in My Best Friend’s Wedding? She sang exactly like that in the most grating voice ever. Only here it wasn’t played for laughs.

5. Blatant Purell product placement. No better than a Kris Aquino movie. (“Product placement keeps the movie business afloat!”, said one character.)

6. The viral video of Jamie Foxx saving Annie was all wrong. How could it have different takes and taken from two different angles when it was supposedly shot by an onlooker?

7. I love Rose Byrne, I really do, but she should not be allowed to sing again. Hey, why was this musical populated by terrible singers given their own musical highlights? All it needed was Russell Crowe.

8. The updated version had Annie with a Twitter account and saved by Instagram. Groan.

9. I felt bad for Sia. I actually liked “Opportunity”.

10. The final act had a last minute twist, a villain that never really got his due, a final conflict, and a quick resolution that led to a song and dance number by way of Mother Lily. Ugh.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 28, 2015.)

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THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Renny Harlin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Legend of Hercules:

1. The special effects were so bad that they used the same fake lion that mauled Eugene Domingo in Momzillas.

2. If Hercules is a demigod with extraordinary strength, then why can’t he kill his opponents with one blow? I know I’m overthinking. So bored.

3. Hercules wins a fight and the people start throwing confetti. That scene really made me laugh out loud.

4. Kellan Lutz has saucer-sized nipples. I remember this product I saw in Makati Cinema Square that can make one’s nipples rosy pink.

5. Lutz is a bad actor. As in Gerald Anderson level. And he loves making tampisaw in the batis. He should have Mother Lily’s magic kamison.

6. Why do people keep shouting their lines in these Greek/Roman movies? It’s like the other soldiers or townspeople are deaf. Laging galit din.

7. Stay for the end credits. I think they used live goats on the soundtrack. I have no words.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 11, 2014.)

HAUNTED FOREST (Ian Loreños, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Haunted Forest:

1. This movie is shaping up to be one of the worst movies of 2017 so I will just provide a blow-by-blow so that you can all save your money. Obviously, spoilers ahead.

2. So the first twenty minutes consisted of a gagamba running after a taong grasa played by Jerald Napoles. As the resident baliw, he was blamed for the death of a woman hanging from a tree even if obvious naman na hindi niya kaya magpulupot ng thick branches ng puno (can anyone?).

3. Raymart Santiago and his bitchy daughter Jane Oineza went to the province for vacation (or prolly to do some soul-searching) after the death of his cancer-stricken wife. They stayed at the house of Maris Racal and Beverly Salviejo (and it’s a mystery how she’s related to them).

4. All the women in town are fond of wearing white kamison while strolling the haunted forest at night. Yes, this is a Mother Lily-produced movie.

5.

Maris: Di naman ako mahilig sa social media kaya ok lang kahit walang signal sa bahay.

Maris after looking at Jane’s iPhone: Uy, add mo naman ako diyan!!

6. Joey Marquez plays a cop with a habit of hitting suspects at will. I’d like to say that his character’s trapped in a Pinoy 90s sitcom, but he very much seems to fit right in the current police force.

7. Ok, mukhang gorilla yung killer.

8. Sample conflict…

Maris: Naku, naiwan ang bawang! Paano ako maggigisa nito?

9. Sumakay si Jane sa dimples ni Jameson Blake para balikan ang naiwang bawang. Kaso naaubutan sila ng malakas na ulan. Walang silong kaya basang-basa sila. Sabay labas si Jameson ng panyo.

Jameson: Eto, punasan na lang kita.

Seryoso??!

10. Kanina umihi sina Joey at Raymart sa gilid ng kalsada. Ngayon naman umiihi si Jane sa damuhan. Eh kaya kayo minumulto kasi di kayo marunong magpasintabi sa mga nuno. Mga bastos!

11. One sequence looked like the director was just having fun with a Snapchat filter. Hihihi!

12. Hirap ng role ni Jane. Her character fainted for the fourth time already. On the other hand, it’s the third time I’m trying not to fall asleep.

13. I probably would have been more scared of Myrtle Sarrosa’s dead character if she didn’t look like she was wearing the wrong shade of foundation and just forgot to brush her hair.

14. So the sitsit was supposed to eat Jane, but changed his mind when he saw Raymart. May sensual wagging of the tongue involved pa. Should we consider this as a step forward for equal representation of the LGBTQ community in local cinema?

15. So ayun na nga dinukot na ng sitsit ang gusto niyang dukutin kay Raymart. Tegi.

16. Everyone knew the tree where the sitsit lived but the townspeople decided to do a prayover around it instead. Nobody bothered to burn or cut it down. Until today.

17.

Jane to sitsit: Hoy! Magpakita kita!

After magpakita…

Everyone: Takbooooooo!!

Tengene.

18. Ayan happy ending na for Jane. Masaya siya kasi kahit napatay ng sitsit ang tatay niya nagka-lovelife naman siya sa probinsiya. Hindi na nga naman masama.

The end. Leche.

19. Ay buti di ako agad umalis. May mid-credits sequence. Buhay pa ang sitsit at lumipat sa katawan ng bangkero. Ready for a sequel kaso mukhang flop. Paano na?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 3, 2018.)

ILAWOD (Dan Villegas, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ilawod:

1. For me, Pinoy horror stories with their local settings, deeply-rooted mythologies, and fascinating folklore would always be much scarier than any Hollywood flick. Whereas Linda Blair and her spinning head made me cackle with glee, I almost peed my pants when Manilyn Reynes was stalked by a horde of aswangs led by Vangie Labalan. I could never picture Valak looking at me through a mirror, but I could easily imagine that dead nun killed during the Bataan Death March in the Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween episode staring right at me from outside my bedroom window. This must be all coming from my childhood belief that Count Dracula and every other foreign monster would never even bother taking a 21-hour flight to the Philippines.

2. I really tried to like this movie especially since I was easily drawn to the very Pinoy story of the Ilawod, a water elemental living in streams known to dominate human bodies and suck the souls out of them (the name itself literally means downstream). Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to differentiate itself from other horror movies with genre tropes that included an exorcism and possession.

There was a scene with a kid drawing black rings that could have been an early promo for the new Rings sequel. The real face of the Ilawod looked like a monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. The elevator footage eeriely resembled that viral video with Elisa Lam (Google it!). Even the haunting scenes involving water (dripping from the ceiling, puddles on the floor) in the condominium seemed to have been borrowed heavily from Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water.

3. In the opening scene, an old lady was possessed by the Ilawod and when she saw Ian Veneracion (playing a daddy daddy beat reporter), her long pointed tongue started flailing like crazy and my very first thought was, “Why wouldn’t it?” Veneracion just didn’t age since his Anak ng Demonyo days and I could easily see hordes of women and gay men doing the exact same thing when they see him in person, with or without spirit possession. (Where did you find the Fountain of Youth, Ian? Tell us please!!)

4. I might have missed it, but I couldn’t understand why the Ilawod got really mad at Ian and wanted to exact revenge on him and his family aside from the fact that he didn’t believe in the supernatural. I’d rather assume that she was just being bitter for getting rejected by a hottie.

5. I kinda felt bad for Therese Malvar since she’s currently one of the best young actresses in Philippine cinema and she got stuck playing an elemental with heavy makeup and a brushed-up wet look hairdo while sporting Mother Lily’s magic white kamison. I also couldn’t believe that Ian’s teenage son never once bothered to ask why she never changed outfits or why she was always making tambay by the poolside.

6. Speaking of teenagers, I was really shocked at how much Xyriel Manabat has grown. Her transformation made me feel even more old. But wait, why didn’t she look like any of her parents (the mother was played by Iza Calzado)?

In one hilarious scene, she was attacked by the Ilawod so she ran to her parents’ bedroom but the door remained locked. Her parents kept knocking and pulling on the knob but the door just wouldn’t budge. In her state of panic, Iza then asked the most logical question: “Ano na bang nangyayari sa mga anak natin?” HUH?!!

At least after that incident, she regained her bearings and got the services of Father Pnoy to bless their unit.

7. With its blatant sexualization of kids, I was surprised that the movie still took the safer, more sanitized route. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suggesting a love scene, but I would have preferred it if not everything (even just a simple kiss) were merely suggestive. Nothing wrong with a horror movie making people squirm in their seats and making them feel uncomfortable.

8. If the Undin made me stay away from the sea, this one made me reconsider making tampisaw in a batis.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆