COLLATERAL BEAUTY (David Frankel, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Collateral Beauty:

1. The movie started with Will Smith (as Howard, an advertising executive) delivering a supposedly empowering and emotional speech to his team (“We all long for love, wish for more time, and fear death”), but said message closely resembled the coffee commercial asking us “Para kanino ka bumabangon?”. I actually expected him to take a sip of Nescafe after every dramatic pause. How could advertising illuminate other people’s lives if we’re dealt the same treacly platitudes?

2. Trauma caused by the death of a loved one should be a gold mine for emotional manipulation (nothing wrong with it, if executed properly). Instead, the movie decided to be a dark comedy where Howard’s co-workers slash friends hired professional actors to play abstract characters (Love, Time, and Death) that interacted with him and made him appear all sorts of crazy. Some friends, no?

3. I liked how the movie raised the discussion on bereavement hallucinations. Maybe this could help explain all the ghost stories of loved ones visiting us days after their death. Or why I would imagine a giant KFC chicken on our dining table Temptation Island-style whenever I would go on these unsuccessful New Year’s resolution diets.

4. One character mentioned that “casting is very important” and it couldn’t be more true in this one. Without Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren, among others, this probably would have been a Christmas TV movie on Lifetime.

5. Speaking of Mirren, she performed a holiday miracle here by making the most out of a thankless role (“It turns out Death was an elderly white woman.”). Her character kept complaining that she should have played all the parts and at some points, I actually wished she did.

6. As a huge Winslet fan, I had always been fascinated with her wobbly American accent and her waterloo was always the word “absurd”. I swear, check out her other films.

7. I think my eyes rolled out of their sockets in the scene where Howard described the experience of seeing his newborn daughter with “I looked at her and I realized I wasn’t feeling love, I have become love.” Another reason why I would never be a father.

8. The digital manipulation done on Howard’s breakdown videos must have cost these characters a fortune. Surely, there were better and more cost-efficient options.

9. Twist after (predictable) twist that didn’t really matter. Everything felt inauthentic down to the buckets of tears that flowed in every other scene. Boo hoo indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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SUICIDE SQUAD (David Ayer, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Suicide Squad:

1. I honestly couldn’t care less about the whole Marvel v DC discussion (I would have to leave that up to the expert rabid fanboys) and with all the early (brutal) reviews that came out, I was prepared to see the worst film of the year (which according to the online universe as well was previously Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that I actually liked). Sure, this wasn’t a breakthrough in comic book adaptations with its weak story and cheesy special effects, but at least it was a bit more fun to watch than say, the ho-hum X-Men: Apocalypse. Also, anybody who would say that this was worse than the Fant4stic Four reboot probably never watched the entirety of that snoozefest.

2. Harley Quinn (played to playful perfection by Margot Robbie) was the most memorable (and obviously fitting) in a movie that was a whole lot of pretty and a whole lot of crazy. From the moment she appeared dangling like Maddie Ziegler (of the Sia videos) doing another performance art inside a cage (set to the tune of You Don’t Own Me, no less), she stole every scene without effort. I could see a lot of girls donning her costume in time (literally with watches on their arms) for Halloween. I seriously wish they would have really nice and plump butt cheeks as well.

3. Dear Star-Lord, check out this movie’s soundtrack for another perfect mix tape. House of the Rising Sun, I Started a Joke, Without Me, Bohemian Rhapsody…oh wait, you already had that.

4. I was thankful for the quick introduction (flashing dossiers) of characters because aside from The Joker (Jared Leto invoking Jack Nicholson), I really didn’t know any of them. Deadshot (Will Smith) reminded me of Hancock with a Terminator’s eye, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) were reminiscent of Human Torch and Thing, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) had a boomerang plus a really creepy pink unicorn fetish, and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) looked like a starving pre-show Victoria’s Secret Angel (please tell me I wasn’t the only one laughing at her wiggling during the post-heart transplant scene).

I wasn’t surprised that Annalise Keating, er, Amanda Waller (the exquisite Viola Davis) was the one chosen to round up and torture another team of puppets. Also, one character looked very much like Frank Delfino, I swear.

5. Ooh, blink-and-you’ll-miss-em cameos from two popular DC characters! These ones I knew.

6. The huge subtitles without punctuation marks triggered my OCD. My right index finger kept tapping at an imaginary period button whenever those showed up.

7. I snickered a bit when the camera zoomed up to reveal the Instagram-ready knife and champagne flatlay of The Joker. On a related note, I really loved that shot of him and Harley in a vat of swirling blue and red paint. Ahrt!!

8. The best moments were when it was just being really silly with its villains-as-heroes theme and had intentionally funny lines like “Don’t touch me!”, “What’s that crap on your face? Does that wash off?”, and my favorite “Behold the face of God!” (close runner-up: “Why are you not dead?”).

9. The worst moments were when it decided to grow a heart amidst the messy fight sequences (reminiscent of David Ayer’s Fury and in one sequence, The Raid) complete with an obvious fake-out and a gag-inducing slo-mo that included a gun being thrown to the bida (sorry, Margot and Will but Fernando Poe, Jr. and Janice de Belen/Julie Vega did it much better in Roman Rapido).

10. The ending initially hinted at a sequel focusing on Harley and The Joker, but the mid-credits sequence showed a picture of Ezra Miller, among others. Since he played The Flash, should we expect the Justice League movie next?

Critics, start sharpening your claws!! (Wait, wrong franchise…)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Roland Emmerich, 2016)

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My notes on Independence Day: Resurgence:

1. Similar to a Michael Bay classic, I would always watch a Roland Emmerich movie with below zero expectations and so I entered the theater armed with a tub of popcorn and a large Pepsi ready for some mindless alien action and global destruction. Hey, this was the director who was fond of destroying national landmarks and gave us disaster (literally and figuratively) flicks such as the first Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. How bad could this sequel be, right?

Well, Emmerich just took a dump in Hollywood, flung his excrements onscreen, and it resulted to this stinker that just cost me two hours of my precious life. Will Smith made the best decision of his career by not being involved with this dud.

2. One would think that twenty years after the original, the visual effects here would be mind-blowing. Unfortunately, they looked even worse than those used in the 1999 bomb Wing Commander (which reminded me, what ever happened to Freddie Prinze, Jr.?). Heck, even the ones in the original 1977 Star Wars were better. What was left to watch?

3. I first liked Bill Pullman back in his matinee idol days when he stole his brother-in-a-coma’s girlfriend Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Most of my female friends fell in love with him though as Christina Ricci’s father in Casper (and no, I wasn’t saying they had daddy issues). Seeing him now all wrinkled up with gray hair made me feel really old (although I think those female friends would now call him a DILF).

4. The lame attempts at humor were so bad that I was audibly groaning in my seat, although I (unintentionally) laughed out loud whenever the Asian commander gave the scientific names of different species. I could actually picture Kuya Kim saying things like, “At ang tawag sa alien na ito ay alienatus chararata hango sa salitang chararat na ang ibig sabihin ay panget na alien.”

5. I knew I was watching something terrible because:

• New characters were introduced an hour into the movie (more fillers, more fun!).

• My favorite scene was when Vivica A. Fox promised her son that she was not going to die and then plunged to her fiery death a few minutes later (what spoiler alert? I just saved you time and money).

• The end credits listed five screenwriters and they couldn’t even give one decent line to indie darling Charlotte Gainsbourg.

• I cared more about the dog’s safety over a bus full of human characters.

6. So wait, it took twenty years of planning on the aliens’ side and they still could not come up with a decent strategy to take over the world and prevent Liam Hemsworth from peeing before them? Well with that sneak peek, at least one of them died happy.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I AM LEGEND (Francis Lawrence, 2007)

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I remembered a lot of Richard Matheson fans asking for the head of the director when this movie was originally shown. The common concern was that the reason for the title was completely lost in the commercialized adaptation. I never got to read the novel so I simply enjoyed the movie for what it was: a thrilling end-of-days popcorn flick. And boy, did I enjoy it a lot.

Will Smith further cemented his claim as the go-to box office action star and carried the movie through pure charisma. Who else can make you cry over a rabid dog? I had seen this movie one too many times and it never failed to make my heart pound (and break) every time.

Rating: 4/5