THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (Hany Abu-Assad, 2017)

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If there was one thing I learned from Titanic, it was that I would never want to get stuck in a life-or-death situation (especially in an icy location) with Kate Winslet. The survival rate would most probably be slim to none. Unless of course this were Alive and she would serve as my dinner.

Although the movie started off well with a terrifying plane crash that would make one hold off any travel plans for the next month, it turned into a confused survival drama slash bland romance that felt like an eternity to sit through (with the cheesiest ending straight out of Star Cinema).

The performances by Winslet and Idris Elba were fine, but I didn’t really care much for their characters. A stray cougar could have feasted on them and it really wouldn’t have mattered. All I wanted was to see that adorable dog survive this awful tragedy (the crash, not the movie).

All the beautiful snow here reminded me so much of the first time I visited Iowa armed with only a light jacket. My body was so used to jabar that when the temperature dropped below zero, I gradually turned purple and my panicked American boss wanted to rush me to the nearest ER. I feel you, Jack Dawson.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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PASSENGERS (Morten Tyldum, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Passengers:

1. I could never be an astronaut. Just the thought of putting on a helmet (and the fear that my head would get stuck in it) had given me endless nightmares. I almost fainted when I saw that viral video where a teenage girl got her head caught in a pumpkin. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t survive in a spaceship even if I were in suspended animation for 120 years (because I would eventually wake up and immediately die of claustrophobia).

2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of recent space sci-fi movies (Elysium, Interstellar, not even the critically-lauded Gravity), but an interesting trailer that promised a few thrills and my fondness for Chris Pratt since Guardians of the Galaxy was enough to draw me in. Well, thank goodness for his cute butt because I really wasn’t expecting this to be a comedy.

3. The Avalon’s voice sounded very much like that soothing theme park voice you hear before boarding a ride in Disneyland. For our local version, I would like to suggest that we get the Ate voice from Uniqlo that courteously thanks all customers for “shahpeeng”.

4. Pratt was still charming as ever here, but it ultimately became his downfall. Even during the dramatic moments, it was just hard to take him seriously. Like he was trying to keep a straight face while giving these directions: “We need to find something big, something broken, something wrong.” He could very well have been talking about the screenplay. (Also, he looked cute in a scruffy beard.)

5. A lot of vicious reviews called this clunker “Titanic in Space” and I could understand why. As the biggest fan of that disaster flick (shamelessly, still my favorite film of all time), I remembered it so much in the following scenes:

• The langit-lupa situation of the doomed lovers, where he flew coach and could only get the normal cup of coffee while she belonged in the gold section that could choose between a macchiato and a French cream blend. (One of the reasons why I enjoy flying Cebu Pacific: no class distinction, everyone can only purchase the same “Snacks for sale!”.)

• Remember when Rose felt lonely and abandoned and wanted to jump off the ship? Yup, somebody here also felt terribly alone and attempted to jump into oblivion (coincidentally, another bad space sci-fi movie).

• “Do you trust me?” and “You die, I die” scenes lifted directly from the sinking ship’s screenplay (which was obviously not its strongest suit to begin with).

• One auto-dock left that could only save either of them. Dying of hypothermia next to a floating door in the ocean was more romantic.

• His one last habilin to “Wake up and you’ll finish what you were supposed to do” sounded very much like “You’re going to die an old woman and have lots of babies…” and then the camera slowly panned to the picture frames with Rose showing that she indeed lived a full life, rode horses, and toured the world and…wait, I needed to wipe away my tears.

6. I loved how Chris and Jennifer Lawrence (in a knockout white bathing suit) were able to maintain their to die for bodies through constant sex on every flat surface. But then again, they were in space and could have gone beyond the Kama Sutra, but didn’t. Imagine the endless possibilities!

7. 19 years to send mail in outer space? Would that be sloth mail?

8. Michael Sheen as the android bartender reminded me of Rosie in The Jetsons. In one scene, I actually thought that Chris was also an android because he was brutally attacked by JLaw and yet didn’t sustain any wounds or bruises. Why?

9. I probably laughed the loudest when JLaw screamed “Come back to me! I can’t live on the ship without you!!”. No wait, it was actually when she pulled the string to bring back a dead floating Chris in space. Now why didn’t Sandra Bullock think of that?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

THE FINEST HOURS (Craig Gillespie, 2016)

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My notes on The Finest Hours:

1. One of the characters here mentioned that her fiancé’s scared of the water because one couldn’t see what was underneath, and this couldn’t be more true. Call it the Jaws Effect, but I would never ever touch the surface of any body of water while on a boat. I’d be too scared that something would jump out and just bite my arm off. Another excuse for me not to go to the beach.

2. I usually cry whenever I see a romantic public proposal, one that was done out of pure love and not as a showcase for potential famewhores. There was a scene here where it was the woman that bravely asked for the man’s hand in marriage. I would love to witness that in real life. It’s already 2016. Why couldn’t men be on the receiving end of marriage proposals, right?

3. Titanic had a running time of over three hours and I didn’t even feel any minute of it. This one had several scenes that reminded me of that great film, but overall it was just too damn slow. How could a disaster movie feel so boring? Not even The Perfect Storm was this tedious. This should have been called The Dullest HourzZzZz.

4. I laughed really loud when one crew member said “There’s no other wave” and a few seconds later screamed “WAVE!!” before being hit by rampaging waters. I never really felt the urgency and danger in this movie. For a true story, most of the scenes felt like a joke.

5. Seriously, people were falling everywhere but nobody was dying. If I remembered correctly, only one minor character drowned and his death didn’t really have any emotional impact. A lot of time was used to build up the back stories of the major characters but this being a Disney movie, we were all but guaranteed a happy ending.

6. I adore Ben Affleck’s directorial work, but I really think that Casey Affleck is the better actor in the family. He was impressive in To Die For, the Ocean’s movies, Gone Baby Gone, and the only reason to watch the sleep-inducing The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

7. The slow motion water droplets special effects reminded me of a Pond’s Facial Wash commercial. I immediately had the itch to wash my oily face.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE REVENANT (Alejandro G. Iñarritu, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Revenant:

1. Let me begin by saying that I do not hate Leonardo DiCaprio. If anything, I have loved him since he died of hypothermia in my all-time favorite movie Titanic. I would be more than happy to see him finally win an Oscar especially with his level of commitment in every role. So when I say that I wasn’t completely impressed with his crawling and grunting (sorry, I meant acting) in this movie, it’s all coming from a place of love (like a father telling his son that a B+ in Art won’t cut it because he is a straight-A student).

2. Leo has done much better work in his past films (Wolf of Wall Street, Revolutionary Road, Catch Me If You Can) and although some of these roles also required a certain level of intensity, he didn’t really go overboard in any of them. All of his acting tics were in full display in this movie that it bordered on camp (I pictured Christopher de Leon in his late 90’s movies: nostrils flaring, mouth frothing, full-on kunot-noo acting). Sure, Leo was in pain all-throughout and had his throat slashed so he couldn’t do much except moan, but his performance really didn’t work for me. For the record, he even crawled much better in the Wolf scene when he was loaded with Quaaludes.

3. But enough about him, let’s discuss the movie with its beautiful flowing waters, picturesque snowcapped mountains, and perfectly lit images that I just wanted to screencap and use as my phone’s wallpaper. If anyone here is deserving of an Oscar, it would definitely be Emmanuel Lubezki (whom I loved since A Little Princess and is on track to get his third consecutive Best Cinematography Award). He could win all of the awards every year and I wouldn’t be complaining.

4. After seeing everything that happened to Leo in this movie, I have further lowered camping on my bucket list. It was a miracle that he survived all of these: mauled by a bear, fell off a cliff, drowned in rapids, cauterized his throat wound, traveled through a harsh winter landscape, fell off a higher cliff, and slept naked inside a dead horse (this didn’t even include all the shooting). His wounds also magically healed in a matter of hours and days (although there were some juju involved, including a soil spa that worked wonders on his deep lacerations) and even with a twisted ankle, he was running in full speed after a night’s rest.

I therefore conclude that Leo is Superman and I now need further proof that he really froze to death in Titanic.

5. Was it just me or was the dubbing really bad for the Indian characters? The sounds didn’t match the movements of the mouth at all.

6. Leo ate a live fish and that was fine because I love sushi, but I wondered why he ate the raw bison meat when there was a lot of fire around him. I’m just thankful that I haven’t been that hungry.

7. I pitied all the horses that were killed in this movie. Gunshots, arrows, and cliff-diving. I hope they had insurance. The horse that was also used as a transient house should have charged rent.

8. Ate Vi’s final scene in Ekstra >>> Leo’s final scene in The Revenant

Rating: ★★★☆☆

TITANIC (James Cameron, 1997)

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Sure it was hokey and the screenplay (Jack! Rose! Jack!! Rose!!) was rightfully snubbed by the Academy Awards but fourteen years later and the movie had not aged one bit. What other film could satisfy a Discovery/History channel geek and a hopeless romantic?

The additional dimension further elevated the beauty onscreen (the underwater scenes, the gorgeous costumes, a nude Kate Winslet) and it was even more fun to relive the magic and spectacle. I could watch this over and over in any format without even noticing the three hour running time.

It was nothing short of magnificent. It was movie-making at its finest. (Yes, I’m a fan. Haters can continue to hate.)

Rating: 5/5