Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The legend of Tarzan

DIRECTOR: David Yates  LEAD CAST: Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent  SCREENWRITERS: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer  STORY: Craig Brewer, Adam Cozad  BASED ON THE ‘TARZAN’ STORIES CREATED BY: Edgar Rice Burroughs  PRODUCERS: David Barron, Tony Ludwig, Alan Richie, Jerry Weintraub, Mike Richardson  ART DIRECTORS: David Allday, James Hambidge
MUSIC BY: Rupert Gregson-Williams  FILM EDITOR: Mark Day  GENRE: Action, Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Henry Braham  COSTUME DESIGNER:  Ruth Myers  PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Stuart Craig  PRODUCTON COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Horse Entertainment, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Riche/Ludwig Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures  DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time Warner  COUNTRY: United States   LANGUAGE: English  FILMING LOCATIONS: England, U.K., Gabon  RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating:  PG
In this latest spin on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ well-loved story of a man raised by the apes, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) now leads a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, married to his beloved Jane Porter (Margot Robie).   Eight years after he left the African jungles to come to settle down in England with Jane, nobleman Clayton is now being urged to travel back to the Congo by the Belgian King Leopold II on behalf of Great Britain.  Preferring to lead a quiet life of an aristocrat in his London estate, Clayton refuses but is subsequently persuaded by the American president’s envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) who discloses that the Belgian king might be promoting slave labor in the Congo.  Like Tarzan/Clayton, Jane loves the people in the land they both grew up in, and so joins her husband and Williams to Africa.  Meanwhile, the king’s emissary, the wicked Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) is hatching a sinister plot to betray Clayton.
While nothing seems outstanding about the sounds (including music) in The Legend of Tarzan, the sights are a visual treat.  Of course, it’s largely CGI, but there is a marked difference between the pleasure offered by Tarzan’s CGI and that of, say, Transformers or Terminators.  Somehow there is more soul when the action involves God-made creatures being their natural selves than when it shows man-made robots kicking metal ass.  The sight of hundreds of wildebeests stampeding through town is simply awesome, and the ape-man’s eye-popping vine-swinging makes trapeze artistry sans safety nets look like kindergarten stuff.  (Incidentally, not one animal in this movie is real).  Straightforward story-telling serves as the strength of the plot, supported by a well-chosen cast of actors that are a perfect fit for their roles.  The legend of Tarzan preserves the essence of the source material while presenting completely new fiction by incorporating flashbacks of Tarzan’s past into the narrative.  Thus, viewers need not be bored by another re-interpretation of the ape-man classic.  (Besides, how can a film with Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz in it ever be boring?)

There are two things in The legend of Tarzan that might bother the cause-oriented and/or pious viewer.  First, that it is “racist”--in fact, some outspoken film critics have slammed the movie for its white-savior character. It must be noted that while the "savior" figure is a white man, the oppressors (of the black slaves) are also white, therefore he is merely trying to heal the wound that his fellow white men have inflicted.  Second: that it is sacrilegious, since a rosary is used in unholy ways.  The owner of the rosary constantly fingers the beads, giving the impression that he is such a pious man.  Well, as he says, the rosary is made of “Madagascar spider silk”, practically indestructible and tightens as it is pulled loose, and so comes handy when you want to strangle someone to death.  But don’t blink—see what happens when you fake praying the rosary?  He is devoured live by crocodiles.  That’s poetic justice for you.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass

DIRECTOR: James Bobin  LEAD CAST: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen  SCREENWRITER: Linda Woolverton  PRODUCER: Tim Burton, Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd  EDITOR: Andrew Weisblum  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Danny Elfman  GENRE: Fantasy Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Stuart Dryburgh  DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures  LOCATION: United States  RUNNING TIME:   112 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment: 3.25
CINEMA rating:  PG 13
After three years of sailing in the Straits of Malacca, feisty captain  Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) returns to London only to learn from her mother that their family company and properties have been taken over by her former fiancé.  They may still keep at least her mother’s house but in exchange for her father’s treasured ship.  Alice is not willing to give it up.  On the advice of her butterfly friend Absolem, Alice travels through a mirror to Underland where she reunites with her friends including  the Mad Hatter—Tarrant Hightopp (Johnny Depp) who is sick due to the misfortune that has come upon his family.  To help the Mad Hatter she steals the Chronosphere and successfully travels back to the past after many struggles in time and space.  When the mirror appears again, Alice returns to real time and reunites with her mother who then gives her full support to keep the ship.
A sequel of 2010 ‘s Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass is marked by spectacular visual effects to the delight of the viewers, especially the magical transition into a different time and space. These are put together in a well-developed plot where characters were logically built up. Acting, particularly, Wasikowska, is performed excellently with meaningful delivery of lines. Supporting actors/actresses also did well in their acting and helped keep the focus of the story on the main character, thus making Alice Through the Looking Glass a woman’s film because it highlights female strength.   
Valuing family is a noble attitude and so is honoring the parents. A person who embraces these values may possess innate kindness to value other relationships like friendships and willing to take sacrifices for a good cause.  Alice Through the Looking Glass presents this positive message through the character of an empowered woman. She bravely holds captainship of water navigation in honor of her father, she takes time out to think over crucial decisions and cares for her mother, she knows priorities and when time is of the essence.  While both giving and seeking forgiveness may be difficult for some people, the film projects this value as something that frees individuals from life’s miseries and brings them to a peaceful reconciliation and the truest happiness.  The film is loaded with action fantasy and some dialogues may need the guidance of adults for young viewers to understand.

Friday, July 15, 2016


DIRECTOR: Paul Soriano  LEAD CAST: Enrique Gil, Ricky Davao, Christopher de Leon, Shaina Magdayao, Bing Pimentel  SCREENPLAY: Froilan Medina  PRODUCER: Pul Soriano, Erwin Blanco  MUSIC: Robbie Factoran, Ricardo Juco  CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Mycko David, Odyssey Flores  EDITOR: Mark Victor  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Ten17 Productions, Star Cinema  DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema  LOCATION: Philippines  GENRE: Crime, drama, suspense  RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V18
MTRCB rating:  R13
May kaya ang pamilya ng customs officer na si Charlie Sandoval (Ricky Davao) at ng kanyang maybahay na si Cecille (Bing Pimentel).  Dalawa ang kanilang young adults na anak, si Cathy (Shaina Magdayao) na nagpapatakbo na ng sarili niyang yoga studio, at si Carlo (Enqique Gil) na ayon sa ama ay tila hindi nagmamadaling iwan ang kanyang pagkabata.  Isang gabing nagsasara na ang yoga studio ni Cathy, papasukin ito at nanakawan ng masasamang-loob, at nang dudukutin na si Cathy ng mga ito, lalabas sa pagkakatago si Carlo at magpi-prisinta na siya na lamang ang tangayin at huwag ang kapatid na babae.  Sa hideaway ng mga kriminal na pagtataguan kay Carlo, matutuklasan nito na wala sa plano ng mga lriminal ang kidnapping.  Gayunpaman, gawa ng matinding pangangailangan, hihingi ng ransom na limang milyong piso ang mga dumukot; magpapatulong si Charlie sa mga pulis.
Akma ang iba’t ibang technical aspects ng Dukot: tunog, lighting, cinematography, daloy ng istorya, atbp.  Magaling ang pag-arte ng mga lalaki, lalo na nila de Leon, Davao, at Gil.  Ang mga babae—mula maligamgam hanggang malamig.  Nakaka-enganyong panoorin ang pelikula.  Kung ang Dukot ay isang makulay na banig, yung tipong binibili ng mga turista sa Mindanao at Visayas, at ang direktor nitong si Soriano ay ang batikang manghahabi, makabuluhan at kahanga-hanga ang disenyong nasasa isip niyang isagawa.
Sa simula pa lamang, ipapaalam na nito na ang tema ng pelikula ay madilim—karahasan.  Ipapakita rin dito ang maayos na pamilya at komportableng pamumuhay ng mga Sandoval—maaliwalas, kulay langit.  Habang inaayos ang pagtubos kay Carlo, matutuklasan naman ni Cecille  ang pagiging corrupt ng asawa sa kanyang trabaho—oops, nagdidilim ang langit, umiitim ang banig.  Habang bihag ng mga kidnappers si Carlo, makikita niya ang salat na pamumuhay ng mga ito, aalalahanin niya ang kasaganaang tinatamasa sa piling ng kanyang pamilya mula pagkabata—tila umaaliwalas na naman ang disenyo ng banig.  Lalo na itong gaganda sa ipapakitang kabutihang loob ng isa sa mga kriminal, si Johnny (Christopher de Leon).  Susundan ito ng masalimuot at nakaka-hayblad na negosyasyon para sa ikalalaya ni Carlo—ang bahagi ng banig na kulay naglalagablab na sunog sa kagubatan.  Pagkatapos noon, darating ang maluwalhating paglaya ng dinukot—anong kulay naman ito?  Puwedeng luntian, parang palayan.  Habang sabik mong inaasahang makita ang kabuuan ng pabulosong disenyo ng banig—after all, kinikilala nang film director si Soriano kahit abroad—sasabihan ka na, wala na, wakas na, tapos na ang banig, let the credits roll!  Ha?  Ang dami pang nakalaylay sa mga tabi-tabi ah!  Hoy, banig yan na hinahangaan ng mga banyaga, hindi iyan abstract painting!  Umayos nga kayo!  Pagkatapos ninyong takutin, galitin at pahangain ang manunuod, iiwanan ninyong nakatiwangwang ang banig?  Ano’ng gusto n’yong palabasin?  Na sobrang suwerte ng Sandoval family?  Eh yung mga pamilya ng mga kriminal, paano na?  Nasaan ang hustisya?  At ditto nagwawakas ang banig.  Ay, ang Dukot pala!