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: ★★★☆☆

ROOM (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Room:

1. If I were ever kidnapped by a cult and kept in an underground room or any tight, secluded space for the remainder of my life, I would immediately die within the first 48 hours from asphyxiation. Even the thought of it made me reach out for my inhaler. I had always been claustrophobic with the terrible luck of often getting trapped in elevators. My worst experiences involved long-haul flights inside the most spacious airplanes (and not even the strongest Benadryl could knock me out).

2. This movie reminded me so much of my favorite TV show of 2015, the hilarious Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where a kidnapped woman reclaimed her freedom and slowly adjusted to her new life after 15 years of living in seclusion. Sadly, Room was no laughing matter and the pain and trauma felt by the mother and son victims were completely harrowing and depressing.

3. I loved how the film began with little Jack (played by the terrific Jacob Tremblay) saying good morning to everything inside the said room (“Hello plant! Hello chair!”). It was a clear sign that he had already adjusted in that cramped space and considered it his only world. Aside from his limited books and toys, his sources of entertainment were the old TV showing reruns of Dora the Explorer and the small skylight separating them from the outside world (which didn’t even exist for him). As an observer, it was really hard not to feel sadness, but also amazement by this kind of innocence.

4. The brilliant (now Oscar winner) Brie Larson played Ma, the dutiful mother held captive by a stranger and now struggling to keep the two of them alive while shielding him from the harsh realities of the world. When she decided to free themselves on Jack’s fifth birthday, I immediately understood all those nights of reading The Count of Monte Cristo and Alice in Wonderland.

5. I wasn’t at all surprised that Jack didn’t want to leave his tiny world. I got why he threw a tantrum and defended that the room wasn’t stinky and was only such whenever Ma farted. The succeeding scenes showing them planning his escape (with a fiery shouting match) was completely heartbreaking.

6. I usually do not get excited in thrillers but I was literally on the edge of my seat during that escape sequence. It was so tense that people really screamed inside the theater. By the time Jack saw the sky for the first time, I was sobbing hysterically.

7. Brie’s parents here were William H. Macy and Joan Allen. With those genes, no wonder she was such a good actress.

8. After the adrenaline rush, I’m sure a lot of people will get turned off by the slow second half depicting the long-term effects and trauma of the captivity. I actually loved that part more because it showed all of the emotions and humanity of Ma and Jack and the other people around them (e.g. Ma’s father could not accept that Jack was a consequence of rape). One of the most painful realizations was when Ma got probed if she should have released Jack instead, saving him from further damage, and she accepted with much guilt that she wanted him to stay with her and that was the better (albeit selfish) decision.

9. “We all help each other stay strong. Nobody’s strong alone.”

10. I believe it was Jessica Zafra who mentioned that this kind of situation will never happen in our country given the nosy neighbors that we all have, where even our personal business is everyone’s business. As soon as they see someone going to a shed every day, tongues will start wagging and an investigation will immediately start. Hooray for our resident chismosas!

Rating: ★★★★★