CHAIN MAIL (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Chain Mail:

1. Some of my all-time favorite Filipino films (Mater Dolorosa, Isda, and Adela come to mind) were directed by Adolf Alix, Jr. so I was completely surprised with this mess of a movie. It was like he gave up midway through production and finished it with a “Pwede na ‘to” attitude. The final product was just so far off from his usual technically-proficient films.

2. In the opening scene, Nadine Lustre (in a “special role”) got run over by an out of control jeepney that rammed the computer shop where she was checking her email. Everything was supposed to have a supernatural feel with the requisite gore but the clunky setup just made it look funny. And why was she in full party mode red dress just to check her email anyway? And why was she immediately killed if she just opened and read the chain mail? What if she had no access to Wifi or 3G at home to check before the 9th day? I therefore blame Globe for her death.

3. This chain mail thing probably would have been scarier 20 years ago. It just felt so dated. Like watching The Ring and its cursed VHS in this day and age of Piratebay.

4. A lot of people got killed in the movie. I barely knew them (both the artists and the characters) and I didn’t really care much about them. I mean how could you invest on someone that got trapped in a car and her first instinct was to tap loudly on the window? Sure she might have been in a state of panic but if she only reached for the door handle…

5. The faceless creature with blasted areolas looked like it came straight out of Pan’s Labyrinth. (I apologize to Guillermo del Toro for including his classic film in the notes of this dreadful movie.) Later on it was explained that the girl victim cut off her nose (yes, her entire nose with scissors) and she had time to slash her entire body and cut her hair before actually going into shock.

6. So many scenes were so badly-lit it reeked of lack of budget.

7. In a cheering practice…

M! A! B! U! H! A! Y! Mabuhay!! (Repeat 10x)

Head cheerleader: Ok from the top.

Scene continued without any sound coming from the squad. What?!

8. All the kids in this movie checked their email every single time like it was Twitter. Do people really do this? Are they waiting for an email from LiNa?

9. The characters here were so sosyal. A post office worker and a high school teacher both lived in these lavish houses in posh subdivisions. Did they have a cut in the pork barrel as well?

10. 80’s icon Bernardo Bernardo played an albularyo that probably would have been funnier if he were flamboyant and in full Oda Mae Brown mode.

11. One schoolgirl got killed in the bathroom (the creature came out of the toilet while she was peeing) but it was classes as usual on the same day for the rest of the students while they mourned their dearly departed classmate. Seriously, in what crazy school does this happen?

12. In another scene, the manager of Project Pie got locked in the walk-in freezer for two minutes before turning into a literal malamig na bangkay.

13. Terrible, horrible, god-awful performances all around. The only real source of horror in this horror flick.

14. One character almost drowned in the pool because she kept flailing around and didn’t bother standing up. Seriously.

15. Nadapa si Ate Shy Carlos sa kalsada. Dinala sa Ospital ng Maynila. Naka-wheelchair sa susunod na eksena. Na-confine. Que horror!

16. The school gossip (the gay teacher of course!) got killed when a ceiling fan rotated on his neck (sorry, that’s the only way I could describe it). He even had time to scream before it fell on him. Blood spurted out of his sliced neck. In succeeding scenes, a character kept saying that the gay teacher was “napugutan”. Since I didn’t see any rolling head, apparently, he didn’t know what the word meant.

17. In one sequence with a continuous real-time conversation, a character kept changing places after every line while the background turned from day to night. How long exactly was that discussion?

18. Rain effects. Overhead shot of the car moving on the road. And then you see the dry spot where the car used to be. Paano nakakalusot ang mga ganitong bagay?

19. The movie ended up as a cautionary tale on viral sex videos. And pedophile teachers.

20. And the Best Performance by a Pamintang Durog goes to…

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published July 23, 2015.)

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Jake Kasdan, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle:

1. If this video game version of Jumanji were real, I’d most probably end up with the Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) avatar since I’d usually choose the smartest (albeit the physically weakest) character. I never went for warriors or fighters in any role-playing game. I’d usually be a wizard or a mage with the highest intelligence and the strongest spells. Even in my fantasy world, I was the geek choosing brains over brawns.

(Also, cake would aptly be my weakness that would cause me to spontaneously combust.)

2. I had really low expectations going in this reboot because I wasn’t that fond of the original material so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this fun popcorn flick. Even if it didn’t make a lot of sense (both as an adventure and video game movie), it was able to capitalize on the individual strengths of its really talented cast.

3. Jack Black was hilarious as a vain teenage girl trapped in an older obese man’s body (his wicked performance reminded me of John Lapus’ in Here Comes the Bride). From his utter disgust upon seeing his reflection, to the way he swished his arms while running away from enemies, down to his inspired quips (“I look like a living garden gnome!”), he fully embraced his character and brought back the funnyman last seen in Nacho Libre.

My favorite moment with him was when he needed to take a leak and saw male genitalia for the first time (“Martha, come look at my penis!!”). I needed a puff of my inhaler after that one.

4. Kevin Hart, with his usual high-pitched delivery, elicited laughs aimed at his character’s height and lack of speed and strength (really laughed hard when he got smacked face first onto the side of a cliff).

The Rock took advantage of his signature eyebrows and smoldering intensity, while Karen Gillan (check out her now-defunct sitcom Selfie!) made awkwardness look really hot and sexy (“Did she twist her ankle?” LOL!). The scene where the two of them had their (sloppy) first kiss was a hoot.

5. When Spencer went to the so-called freak house wearing a yellow raincoat, was that a direct reference to the It movie?

6. How did the board game magically turn into what looked like an updated Atari console? Also, wasn’t it too advanced to have four controllers slash players during the late ‘90s gaming era? If anything, I definitely geeked out at specific references such as NPC (non-player characters) and the spot-on explanation of cut scenes.

When a character gave one of her lives to another, I was even reminded of the game Contra when my brother would steal my lives because he was a weak player (peace bro!). Another sequence where they had to step only on the white bricks or had to freeze not to get killed by booby traps was reminiscent of Resident Evil. Cool gaming stuff!!

7. Speaking of references, the Alex character (Nick Jonas) reminded me yet again of my age when he mentioned Cindy Crawford and used catchphrases like ‘so fly’. But seriously, the 90s supermodels were like royalty back then, no? Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and company were ‘the bomb’.

I even rented the VHS copy of box office flop Fair Game several times from ACA Video to pay my respect to the wonderful acting of Crawford and William Baldwin (train rides were never the same after watching that). Be kind, rewind? I sure did.

(Also, the women were obviously invested in this Jonas brother because there were audible gasps in the audience when he got bitten by a mosquito. Ok, I gasped as well. So what?)

8. Shelly Oberon (Black) screaming “Yassss kweeen!” to Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan) was the highlight of my week.

9. I wasn’t the only one that teared up a bit during that Alan Parrish scene, right? *sniff, sniff*

Rating: ★★★☆☆

RINGS (F. Javier Gutierrez, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Rings:

1. Huge advancements in technology had not been kind at all to this tired, old franchise. Fifteen years ago, a long-haired girl in a white kamison crawling out of a television screen might have been considered scary. But very much like VHS tapes, this type of horror now felt very much outdated (and definitely not vintage).

Besides, in this day and age where one could update his Facebook status on a watch, who else would be using a VCR (or even had one that was still working)?

Even more absurd, not a single click-hungry site (not BuzzFeed, not TMZ, not even Snopes!) picked up the urban legend of a killer video. I actually expected it to be the most viewed clip in YouTube and Samara’s/Sadako’s biggest problem would be how to properly schedule the deaths of millions of people that watched. Surely, she would rather jump back in the well out of sheer exhaustion.

2. If you hadn’t seen The Ring or Ring Two (or their far superior Japanese source Ringu), let me do a quick recap. Adopted child drowned in well for having witch powers wanted to seek revenge on mankind through a cursed video that killed its viewers after seven days and the only way to escape death was to create a copy that somebody else needed to watch.

Yup, it worked exactly like a chain letter or an ambush multi-level marketing scheme in Starbucks. Scary, huh?

3. This entire lore was completely thrown out the window when Samara basically chose whoever she wanted to kill and towards the end of the movie even turned into a virus and started sending her own video to everyone on a character’s contact list. I was guessing part of her rebirth consisted of becoming the ultimate social media famewhore. (Also, sorry bitch, but the terrible Feng Shui 2 beat you to it.)

4. I definitely missed Naomi Watts who brought a certain depth in an otherwise standard fright flick. In this one, she was replaced by some college kids that didn’t know how to act scared or even let out a proper scream. Nobody could authentically pull out an incredibly long and chokeable foreign matter out of one’s throat (you pervert!) like Naomi and she did it first and much better in The Ring.

5. In one scene, a girl entered a projector room and disturbed everyone else that was seated when she crossed their path to get to the other side. It reminded me so much of my terrible viewing experiences in Greenbelt 3 Cinemas 1 and 2 where people would treat the last row of seats as if it was an aisle for them to get to the bathroom (and of course, they would return to their seats the same way and bother you a second time around). Hmm, I should probably start listing down my cinema pet peeves.

6. Hala biglang naging Don’t Breathe! What the fork!

7. If you were the type that get easily scared by umbrellas that loudly open, you would enjoy this one. As for me, na-sad ako. (Whee! I’m so punny!)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆