BLISS (Jerrold Tarog, 2017)

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What the eff did I just watch?!

I’m not sure if it was the brutal similarity to the disturbing relationship of Sarah and Mommy Divine or the blatant homage to one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, but I really liked this messed up film.

Iza Calzado was excellent as always and the entire ensemble cast that included pure a-hole TJ Trinidad, the hilariously pretentious director Audie Gemora and the divine (wink, wink) Shamaine Buencamino was great as well. The standout though was Adrienne Vergara whose mere laugh made me giggle like crazy in my seat.

P.S. Don’t expect a traditional horror movie, especially since real life nowadays is proving to be so much scarier.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published May 10, 2017.)

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: ★★★☆☆

IT (Andy Muschietti, 2017)

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Complete fan service (like Abrams’ The Force Awakens). As a huge Constant Reader (aka Stephen Kingnatics), I was very satisfied with this adaptation (I’ll discuss specifics in my spoiler-filled notes).

If you’re expecting the usual scares (similar to Muschietti’s Mama), you’ll probably end up disappointed. If you really liked Stand by Me (or even Stranger Things), expect the same kind of engaging storytelling and fun nostalgia. If you have coulrophobia, don’t even bother watching.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published September 7, 2017.)

PET SEMATARY (Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

A huge NO on the major change made in this remake. At least they were smart enough to retain that memorable (and incredibly gory) stairs scene from the original film.

As a Stephen King fan, the best moment for me was when the Derry sign was briefly shown onscreen.

If I wanted to watch the supernatural exploit human grief, I’d rather see Kenneth Lim Dagatan’s Ma again.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

READY PLAYER ONE (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ready Player One:

1. During the olden days, my only goal in life was to be the top scorer of our family in a game of Pac-Man. I would wake up in the middle of the night while everyone slept (especially my mom who would get really cranky with the additional electricity consumption) and silently crouch over this black plastic Atari controller for hours on end while gobbling pellets and running away from ghosts named Pinky and Blinky.

Whenever we had guests or relatives come over for lunch or dinner, I would be in front of the TV screen and showing off (a better term would be pakitang-gilas) my agility and dexterity through a video game. “Yan lang ang ginagawa niyan buong araw”, my dad would proudly say while I continued to wow the crowd with the completion of every level. Weeks later, my brother would master the newest Missile Command game and that signalled the end of my Pac-Man glory days.

2. I never really considered myself as a certified gamer even if I had played a lot of games across different platforms (from the ancient Nintendo Family Computer to the current PlayStation 4). I couldn’t even learn the basic controls in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat and my usual battle consisted of pushing every button while hoping for a special attack. Still, my insides would tingle at the mere mention of Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros., Civilization, or Final Fantasy. It was this same geeky pride plus the astounding power of nostalgia that made me enjoy this film which seemed to coast on an abundance of pop culture references (easter eggs galore!). I loudly squealed in my seat when a chocobo appeared during the ultimate battle sequence.

3. Spielberg films had always been criticized for their overt sentimentality and it was surprisingly lacking in this one. I expected myself to turn into a puddle of emotions when Wade/Parzival (a terribly bland Tye Sheridan) unlocked the third puzzle, but it just didn’t feel completely magical (I probably cried more when Charlie discovered that he won the final Golden Ticket for the Chocolate Factory). Maybe it was because the movie was already running on for far too long or that it was trying to generate last minute faux excitement, but my brain was just screaming “Just stick that freakin’ key in that effin’ hole, dammit!”.

4. I really liked how the coolest sequence in the movie was a nod to the huge disappointment of my all-time favorite author on the adaptation of one of his finest novels. The twins, Room 237 with the naked old lady, the river of blood from the elevator, and the iconic axe hacking itself on the bathroom door, stuff of a true classic. I never fully understood Stephen King’s disdain for The Shining film considering that the thought of Danny repeatedly croaking the word “Redrum” while holding a giant knife still freaked me to this day.

5. Has anyone read the book (or is a real-life Sheldon Cooper)? Kindly enlighten me on the following burning questions:

• Who was funding The Oasis? I knew James Halliday (a great Mark Rylance) was a trillionaire, but did he really have that much money to keep a game running for more than five years after his death? I was just curious because when Parzival retrieved the first key, he won 100,000 virtual coins that he used to purchase a body suit in the real world.

• Why would such a powerful man like Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) not even bother to memorize his password? It was only B055man69 and not something tough like B0$$m4n_Ph0wz_aQuoH69. Did he have a reason for scribbling down such a confidential information on a piece of paper and keeping it on his armrest other than being a MacGuffin?

• Who was Gundam and was he really that popular? (Fanboys, please don’t kill me. I seriously had no clue.)

6. More than the shoulder pads, leotards, and heavy perms, the 80’s would best be remembered because of its glorious songs, no? Nothing would beat humming along to a good old Hall & Oates song on your best days. (I would always associate Blondie’s One Way or Another with Mean Girls, though. Yup, Trang Pak made out with Coach Carr.)

7. Wouldn’t it be fun if their online personas/avatars were completely far off from their real identities? When Aech (Lena Waithe) mentioned that the real Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) could actually be an overweight old man, I really wished this were true. Wasn’t it Wade himself who said that people stayed in The Oasis because of all the things that they could be? Why didn’t we get a lot more of these people playing out their online fantasies? It could have saved us from the icky (and forced) love story as well. That part was even more horrific than the thought of virtual reality putting an end to human connections. Besides, shouldn’t reality be real?

Rating: ★★★☆☆