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: 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: 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: GLASS (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Glass:

1. Unbreakable was supposedly a play on the yin and yang elements between superhero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and villain Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). One was just discovering his superpowers (and in turn his kryptonite: water!!), one was searching for his polar opposite slash ultimate foe (blowing up trains and buildings in the process), and both of them were trying to determine their purpose in this world. Although Elijah’s story was integral to the whole superhero lore, his evil character still played a supporting role to the real bida of the first film.

I was really excited to hear that the third installment to this Eastrail 177 Trilogy was called Glass because it should place his character front and center (considering that the movie was named after him, right?). Well, not exactly. He didn’t even show up until almost an hour into this bloated movie. If I were a secondary character in my own film, I’d probably feel the need to create a lot of chaos as well.

2. Even worse, it gathered three really interesting superhero comic book characters (that also included Kevin Wendell Crumb aka The Beast and twenty-something plus other personalities called The Horde, all played by the terrific James McAvoy) and decided to keep them locked up in a psychiatric facility for majority of the running time. They were only set free to interact with each other during the final act showdown (and yes, one of them actually explained how a showdown worked in comic books for the non-nerds) which still made little sense.

Side note: When we had some American clients come over for a visit, they were creeped out when I informed them that they would be staying at The Bellevue Hotel Alabang. One of them later on explained that Bellevue’s a popular mental hospital in the U.S. At least her family and friends had a good laugh when they learned where she was checked in.

3. Sarah Paulson played a doctor straight out of her American Horror Story wheelhouse who kept trying to make the three believe that they were merely suffering from delusions of grandeur. Wait, who was she trying to convince? It couldn’t possibly be the audience that knew the truth from the first two films. Oh, it was all just a setup for the requisite twist in the end with the Clover Chips Organization.

Also, given the nature of these patients, why was security so lax in that place? If Elijah (with the most brittle bones and in a wheelchair) could easily get out of his room, shouldn’t they have more people manning the place? Oh, also part of the twist. Pfft and pfft!!

4. It was a treat to see a grown up Spencer Clark (wink, wink). I just wish his acting skills matured as well (that wide-eyed kid look could only take him so far). He did have one of the funniest lines here when he mentioned the catchphrase, “We’re gonna salt bae your ass!”. Now if only Robin Wright returned as well… (It was nice to see some of the old/unused footage from Unbreakable, too.)

5. The lines that made me cringe:

• “Only the true version of love can heal (him).” Eww! So all this time, Kevin could have been cured by true love’s kiss? What’s next, Elijah proclaiming the wonders of a happy working song?

• “You’re fighting for the broken. You found your purpose.” Not enough space for the eyeroll emojis.

• “This is not a limited edition. This was an origin story the whole time.” Keep explaining for the non-nerds at the back, Elijah!

6. The lines that made me happy:

• The cool delivery of “First name Mister. Last name Glass”.

• “Have you ever been to a comic book convention? They sell teen TV shows there!” LOL!!

7. Burning questions:

• Wait, so Elijah Price who wanted to be the best (or worst?) antagonist in the world ended up as a hero? Why??

• How deep was that puddle?

• Was I the only who thought that every single one of The Horde personalities would get a chance to have its own tearful goodbye? (That was a really long dying scene, no?)

• In that final train station scene, how did they know it was the CCTV footage that was going viral and not say, the news about Kim and Kanye’s new baby?

8. M. Night Shyamalan created his own cinematic universe so he made sure of his Stan Lee-like cameo in almost every one of his movies. Or was he trying to be Hitchcock instead? (Insert possible twist here.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MANG KEPWENG RETURNS (G.B. Sampedro, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mang Kepweng Returns:

1. My late grandmother was a big believer in quack medicine. Whenever I’d get sick as a kid, she would bring me to this seaside hut where an even older lady prayed over some wax paper (with Latin words written on them), licked them like stamps, and slapped them on my forehead to help exorcise the bad spirits causing my illness.

I never once believed in her sorcery (especially since my mom would ask me to take Aspilets after the session), but without her magical saliva, I would not have developed a stronger immune system.

2. I could barely remember the original Mang Kepweng movie, except that the late Chiquito (who was here in hologram form, but his mouth never moved while talking) played the title role with his trademark reverse bandana and Hitler mustache. I do remember its comics origins so I wasn’t surprised when this one started very much like a Marvel movie. Until it actually turned into a wannabe Marvel movie.

3. Much like any of its superhero origin stories, Kiefer (Vhong Navarro) found out the secrets to his past (he’s the bastard child of Mang Kepweng!), learned to harness his powers (polka dot bandana activate!), discovered how to be Doctor Strange (summoning those holograms and all!), and even staged a Civil War in the climactic battle sequence.

I even joked that I should stay until the end credits just in case there was a closing credits sequence. I wasn’t disappointed. Eat your heart out, Stan Lee!!

4. For a supposed update to a cult classic, most of the jokes here felt so dated. It reminded me so much of the humor in Home Along Da Riles (only that was hilarious and nobody could ever match the comic timing of the late Dolphy).

There were so many gags that were just not funny. One involved bungled haircuts (one man wanted his head shaved, the long-haired one wanted his dyed blonde, you know how this would end), another one had cha-cha music played during a funeral march, a latent gay character was always used as a punchline, and the worst had to be the renaissance of the yakapsule and kisspirin joke. Now watch me whip, now watch me anyenyeh!

5. Aerial shots galore. Congratulations on your new drone!

6. Is Jollicious Hotdog an actual product? That entire Zumba sequence where a large woman (named Petite, of course) fainted and was brought back to her senses by the smell of a jumbo Jollicious hotdog reeked of shameless product placement.

7. Two major characters kept questioning if the bandana had magical powers even if they grew a unibrow and a mustache after wearing it. Demanding much, mga bes?

8. Vhong used to be really funny, very much like a local Jim Carrey. In this movie, he was reduced to overacting like crazy while constantly cowering in fear (why was he working in a funeral parlor anyway if he was always close to having a stroke every time something eerie happened?).

9. The only joke that really landed was delivered by Bangky. When asked what he was smoking, he answered “Beep”. Vhong corrected him and said “Hindi po yan beep. Vape po yan” to which he replied “Beep ang plebor. Sa susunod chicken naman.” Mabuhay ang bangkay!

10. I would forever remember this movie as the one where a character actually said the line, “Ate kinagat ako ng tiyan mo!”. Horrors!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆