BUMBLEBEE (Travis Knight, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bumblebee:

1. Never thought l’d see the day that I would actually like a Transformers movie from the Michael Bay Non-Biodegradable Universe. How could I not be that pessimistic when this was the most revered film series in Razzie history? Revenge of the Fallen as Worst Picture? Definitely! Bay as Worst Director for Age of Extinction? Well-deserved! I only watched most of them out of pure nostalgia (and a self-diagnosed masochism, of course!). Unsurprisingly, the best entry (so far) only needed a director not named Michael Bay.

2. Although it still contained a huge amount of robot on robot action (that reminded me so much of the 4D ride in Universal Studios Singapore), more time was spent on the blossoming friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie Watson (Academy Award nominee and certified #PinoyFried Hailee Steinfeld). Who knew that beneath all the metal exterior lay the heart of this awesome prequel? (More than meets the eye? Take that, Star Wars!!)

3. If you immediately fell in love with the terrific Steinfeld as soon as she started air drumming here (and you had only seen her in the Pitch Perfect sequels), now would be a good time to catch up on her much better films like True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen.

(And yes, I still think she would have made a better Belle in the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.)

4. One of my favorite moments was when Bumblebee first transformed in the garage. He got himself all tangled up with a kite, stumbled over, and then cowered in fear while sitting in one corner. More than just looking really cute (in an aww shucks way you would feel towards a scared child), he had never looked and felt more human.

There was also a lot of effective (intentional) humor in this movie that included him stomping on a car or doing a radical impression of Judd Nelson’s fist pump in The Breakfast Club (which was just as funny as Kimmy’s in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Cue the classic Don’t You Forget About Me.

And speaking of classic songs, I was happy that Bumblebee eventually learned to like The Smiths (although it was still unforgivable that he hated Kuya Dick’s Never Gonna Give You Up).

5. Happy to see Pamela Adlon on the big screen as Charlie’s mother. I wish they could find a way to incorporate this in Better Things with Sam getting her big break as a supporting actress in a huge Hollywood production.

6. Alf and Miami Vice references. A picture of then-President Ronald Reagan. Posters for The Thing and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet the biggest giveaway for me that this took place in the 80’s was the noisy dot matrix printer.

(Also, did they suggest that the Decepticons actually invented the internet?)

7. So Charlie started the Bird Box Challenge? (Kids, do not try this on the road unless you own Bumblebee.)

8. Ahh, so that was the Camaro explanation. Goodbye pendong peace!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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CAN THIS BE LOVE (Jose Javier Reyes, 2005)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can This Be Love:

1. I recently had a discussion with a friend who used to work for Star Cinema regarding that studio’s process of churning out stories for ABS-CBN’s roster of artists (meaning projects were custom-made for hot stars or popular love teams). It was very much evident in this movie that was obviously created to showcase the winners of Star Circle Quest Batch 1, primarily grand winner Hero Angeles and runner-up Korean sensation Sandara Park. Sadly, what could have been an interesting take on cultural differences was hobbled by rom-com tropes and the limited range of the leads.

2. It wasn’t a surprise that Hero won SCQ because he had a little bit of everything going for him: the F4 circa Meteor Garden hair, the deep dimples pre-Alden Richards, the moreno skin unusual in an industry (and nation) obsessed with glutathione, and a great sob story to boot. As Ryan, he struggled a lot in his dramatic scenes where he mostly shouted his lines and acted like a complete bitch (even to Sandara’s character, Daisy). It certainly didn’t help that his uneven Mary Kay foundation that stopped mid-neck and horrible lip gloss and liner made me laugh every time the camera focused on his face.

3. Hindi naman nagpakabog si Sandara with her cosplay every day look with matching purple eyeshadow, pink blush, red lipstick combo. Thankfully the role didn’t require much from her except to fill the Pambansang Krung-Krung bill so she was okay just looking and acting silly. Her genuine challenge in speaking and understanding Filipino (“Slow down please!”) made her more endearing.

4. The pair’s love story started from a text message that was sent incorrectly through their Nokia 3310s. And here I thought the “Sorry, wrong send” message only worked if you were trying to make papansin from your deadma crush or happy in another relationship ex.

5. Roderick Paulate played Ryan’s landlord and provided much needed comic relief. He was in full Kumander Gringa mode by way of Maricel Soriano in any of her babaeng bakla roles (which was basically 80% of her filmography).

6. Ryan being the typical Pinoy was fuming mad when he read Daisy’s paper titled “What’s Wrong With Filipinos” but had no problems showing his prejudice against Koreans. Or maybe he really just had anger issues since he threw a hissy fit when Daisy visited him while he was in the midst of terrible constipation and even called her “Hoy” after she walked out. He was very patola to girls that I actually wondered if he really liked Daisy, especially after referencing Tito Boy Abunda and The Buzz.

7. Wait, Daisy’s Korean so she had to eat noodles all day every day? Or was she just required to eat them because they were different varieties of Tekki Asian Classics? (More product placement alert: BNY Jeans and Globe Autoload Max).

8. In one scene, Eugene Domingo (as Daisy’s landlord) mentioned President Magsaysay to Ryan and he was completely clueless, presumably because he was taking up Nursing. What?! He didn’t have any Philippine History classes in grade school or high school? Please.

9. Music video montage galore (I think I counted four!) and that didn’t even include the resort scene where kids danced to Sandara’s In or Out song.

10. Most cringe-worthy (aka my favorite LOL) scene:

Ryan: “How do you say ‘I love you’ in Korean?”
Daisy: “Saranghae.”
Ryan: “Saranghae.”
Daisy: “This is not the end yet, right?”
Ryan: “Oo, this is not the end. Sasamahan pa kita sa airport.”

I kid you not.

11. What was up with that rushed scrapbook ending? Naubusan ng budget so plane ticket na lang yun Korea trip? Tapos wedding invite na agad? Anyare sa Korean family vs Pinoys conflict? Argh! Pass me the kimchi.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆