AD ASTRA (James Gray, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Grabe ‘teh! Good call talaga na hindi natuloy ang plan ko manuod sa IMAX with Laser ng Evia. Dun lang ako sa Dolby Atmos cinema nila pero nahilo na ako at di nakahinga sa scene na nag-freefall si perpetually sad astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) from outer space to earth.

Akala ko aantukin lang ako sa film kasi medyo traumatized pa ako sa pretentiousness (ay sorry, profundity daw) ng Interstellar at Solaris (the Soderbergh remake), but I survived naman with my major buttered popcorn and large iced tea from Taters (very Krissy lang, sana i-sponsor na nila ako). I can’t say the same for the rest of the audience. Meron mga mahimbing ang tulog habang yung isa eh walang ginawa kundi mag-check ng cellphone (pasalamat siya at five rows ahead siya sa akin kaya di ako pumatol).

I guess tama yung mga nagsabi na this might not be for everyone. Puno kasi ng introspective voiceovers about the meaning of life and relationships (“In the end, the son suffers the sins of the father”) ang pelikula kaya medyo slow ang pacing. Halos bumagsak ako nung Philo classes ko back in college kaya hirap na hirap sumabay yung utak ko dito.

Meron naman mga major ganap every so often (yung mala-Mad Max: Fury Road lunar chase scene, yung baboon na puno ng angst, etc.). Masaya din mag-isip kung ano yung mga space-related films ng cast (every time nagsasalita sa recorded video si Liv Tyler, naaalala ko ang Armageddon at kung bakit mas gusto ko ang Deep Impact).

Natawa ako dun sa space shuttle na naghatid kay Roy sa moon kasi very Cebu Pacific at lahat may bayad. Kulang na lang sumigaw yung FA ng “Snacks for sale!”. Interesting din na ang daming mahahabang hallways sa lahat ng hubs dito, including yung sa Mars. Mayaman talaga ang Amerika. Tapos yung futuristic room na may moving images reminded me of Black Mirror’s Fifteen Million Merits. Nung blooming flowers yung background, sobrang ganda at pwede na ma-post sa One Perfect Shot (o alam na, strong contender na naman si Hoyte van Hoytema for Best Cinematography sa Oscars next year).

But the best thing about this was Brad. Ang expressive ng mga mata niya lalo na sa scene na nananawagan siya sa father niya (the always masungit Tommy Lee Jones) na matagal na di nagpaparamdam. Imagine mo na lang kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng missing tatay sa bawat sulok ng mundo. Eh paano pa kung sa Neptune diba? Walang-wala lahat ng daddy issues ninyo.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

HOPE SPRINGS (David Frankel, 2012)

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With someone as consistently brilliant as Queen Meryl, one would think she’d have run out of tricks up her sleeve by this time. She continued to amaze and surprise me here with a nuanced portrayal of a mature woman trying to save her crumbling marriage. You could sense her loneliness, helplessness, and frustration in just a simple glance.

Tommy Lee Jones provided the perfect counterpart, the grumpy old husband afraid to show any affection. The magic of this movie was its simplicity and ordinariness making it more relatable and heartbreaking.

Lovely, lovely film!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published September 3, 2012.)

TAKEN 3 (Olivier Megaton, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Taken 3:

1. I think the first Taken movie was an instant favorite of daughters everywhere. I’m sure it made them feel safe knowing the extent that their fathers would do to show their love for them. Consider it an action-packed version of Father of the Bride.

2. In this third movie, Liam Neeson displayed his love for his daughter by giving her a giant panda on her birthday. Her survival was more of an after-thought and everything else was just to save his reputation.

3. For the most part, this was actually a lame-brained version of The Fugitive. There was even a tunnel scene here reminiscent of that movie (homage?). All it needed was a one-armed man.

4. Speaking of the villain, it was hard to take him seriously with that Dumb and Dumber bowl cut. In one scene, he fought in his tighty-whities and his bulge (that would put Justin Bieber’s photoshopped Calvin Klein ads to shame) just proved to be a distraction. To some women, I mean.

5. Neeson’s character was asked, “Why do you have to be so honorable?” And therein lay my biggest problem with the entire movie.

In the first two, all the violence was driven by his agenda to save his daughter and wife. Here, he resorted to all kinds of violence even involving innocent people just to prove his own innocence.

One scene showed him causing a stampede in a college (really??). Why did he have to consider himself above the law when a simple trial would have proven his innocence? I just kept thinking, “Anong ipinaglalaban mo?”

6. Olivier Megaton also directed Transporter 3. His idea of an action sequence was to show the exact same scene of a flying truck container from five different angles. This could very well have been directed by Francis Jun Posadas.

7. Why was the MTRCB so strict when it came to sexuality but very lenient with violence? This movie where people got shot by all kinds of guns in all areas of the body just merited a Parental Guidance. Seriously, a PG-rating for excessive violence? Watching this with a kid a few rows behind me actually made me feel uncomfortable.

8. Whatever happened to Dougray Scott’s career? Ever since he passed on the role of Wolverine in the first X-Men movie, he hadn’t done anything significant to launch himself as a leading man. Unless you count his role as Teri Hatcher’s boyfriend in Desperate Housewives.

9. A lot of scenes here didn’t make any sense to me. He made his (pregnant) daughter drink a potion to make her nauseous when he could have just asked her to meet in the school bathroom at a specific time. In another scene, he used a defibrillator to attack henchmen just for the cool concept of seeing someone getting attacked with a defibrillator. And where did he get that anyway? Yet in another, he rammed his vehicle on the wheels of a plane that was about to take off even if his daughter who he was trying to save in the first place was onboard. Oh, and Forrest Whitaker (in the Tommy Lee Jones role) announced in the end that he knew that Neeson was innocent from the start because of his Warm Bagel Theory. So why did they go through all that goose chase? Oh, then we wouldn’t have a movie. Don’t bother.

10. Wait, who got taken??

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 18, 2015.)