Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Alvin and the Chipmunks: the road chip

DIRECTOR: Walt Becker  LEAD CAST:  Jason Lee, Tony Hale, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Josh Green, and with the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Kaley Cuoco, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate  SCREENWRITER:  Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel  PRODUCER:  Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian EDITOR:  Ryan Folsey   MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Mark Mothersbaugh  GENRE:  Animation, Adventure, Family Comedy, Fantasy, Music  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Lyons Collister   DISTRIBUTOR:  20th Century Fox  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5  Moral assessment: 3  CINEMA rating:  VA  (Viewers of all ages)
In this fourth installment in the Alvin and the Chipmunks film series, Dave (Jason Lee) introduces Chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore to a new girlfriend, Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and her teen son, Miles (Josh Green).  He produces a record for rising pop artist Ashley Grey (Bella Thorne) in Miami and decides to bring Samantha along with him. He leaves behind the Chipmunks with Miles in Los Angeles.  Miles physically abuses the trio.  Having seen an engagement ring in Dave’s bag, they were worried that Dave will get engaged, start a new family and dump them. They only have three days to save themselves from losing Dave and possibly gaining a terrible stepbrother. Miles is not favorable of having a stepfather so the four travel cross-country to sabotage an assumed engagement.

Monday, February 1, 2016


--> Direction: Brian Helgeland;  Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Bettany, Chazz Palminteri; Screenplay: Brian Helgeland; Based on The Profession of Violence by John Pearson; Cinematography: Dick Pope; Editing:  Peter McNulty; Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark, etc.; Music: Carter Burwell; Genre: Crime; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: United Kingdom Running Time: 131 minutes.
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2.5
Rating: V18
In the 1960s, Frances (Browning) tells the story of twin brothers Reggie (Hardy), her husband, and Ronnie (Hardy) Kray as they lord over the criminal underground world of London. Suave former boxer Reggie and psychotically unstable Ronnie muscle-in on the control of a local club through brutality and blackmail. Their kingdom expands when an American syndicate approaches them for protection in exchange for half profits of London’s underground gambling profits. However, Ronnie psychotic violence continues to cause problems with the authorities subjecting them to an investigation and eventually their arrest. The story is narrated between the tragic love, abuse and suicide of Frances as she stands witness to the rise and fall of the Krays.
There is always an enthralling quality in crime films done particularly well. From a purely technically stand, Legend has a charm that captivates audiences mainly because of Tom Hardy’s impeccable interpretation of Reggie and Ronnie. He methodically manages to keep the personalities defined and balanced with so much chemistry. The script is funny and engaging and the presentation is grippingly entertaining. Pope and Hegeland perfect photography of Hardy’s dual performance easily makes audience forget that they are watching only one person. Browning is a little disappointing because her delivery lacks depth in its omnipresence.
The lines of morality are often blurred for people who misinterpret crassness and vulgarity with candor and being real. There is guilty pleasure over the smooth moves of criminality and nervous laughter with outrageous behavior.   With such propositions, the audience of the film should be equipped with a strong moral sense and Gospel-shaped conscience and realize that while some people may escape punishment or enjoy the shortlived benefits of criminality, it is never worth it because the misery, pain and punishment it brings will always outweigh whatever pleasure it gives.  The film is for mature adults because of mature themes and several disgustingly violent scenes.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

RUNNING TIME:  1 hr. 33 mins
LEAD CAST:  Noah Schnapp, Francesca Capaldi, Bill Melendez
DIRECTOR: Steve Martino
SCREENWRITER: Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Charles M. Schulz
PRODUCER:  Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz , Cornelius Uliano
EDITOR: Randy Trager
MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Christophe Beck
GENRE: Animation
DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
Cinema Rating: VA
Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) gets infatuated with a new kid in the class, the Little Red-Haired girl. Since then, he exerts every effort to be noticed by her: he tries to top a standardized test, win in a talent show, join a school dance and lead a book report. As Charlie Brown goes through all these, he gets help from his faithful pet dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang. Will Charlie ever get the notice he so longs for? How far would he go in his infatuation?
The movie is a charming adaptation of the popular comic strip. It is able to transform the original Peanuts appeal into moving images, animation and 3D effects while staying faithful to the original core and feel of the comic classic. This is one animation for children that does not resort to too much spectacle—just plain and simple classic comic strip turned into film: the characters, the artwork and the entire look is very much consistent with the original source. And at a time when movies and animations are expected to be grand, this is quite a gamble. But the result is a breath of fresh air; the audience does not always see an animation in its utter simplicity. The story is pretty cohesive and does not distract itself from the central characters Snoopy and Charlie. Overall, Snoopy and Charlie Brown: the Peanuts movie is a delightful experience that followers of the popular comic strip will get nostalgic in seeing their favorite comic characters come to life.
The heart and soul of Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie lies in the wholesomeness of its central message—that goodness and kindness is of ultimate importance in one’s character. Fame, intelligence, good looks are but fleeting and superficial traits and are nothing if those are not coupled with goodness. Charlie is one pure character that children should emulate. His honesty, kind-heartedness, and benevolence are commendable. Despite his weakness, he finds strength in meaning well in everything he does. He does not lose heart nor is tempted to cling on to something not truthful even if it would mean his humiliation and a possibility of rejection by other people, and much worse from the object of his infatuation. Now that is ultimate self-denial in the name of pure goodness. The film tells the audience clearly what really matters in life and in one’s character. In a world that puts too much premium on popularity and self-preservation, here is a movie that shows how it is to care for the other—to be courageous to take the ultimate sacrifice for the beloved, and to do what is right even if it is not necessarily popular, to be kind even at a time when it is very hard to be one. 

Monday, January 25, 2016


DIRECTOR:Justin Kurzel  CAST: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine,   SCREENWRITER:  Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie  PRODUCER:  Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Laura Hasting  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Adam Arkapaw
EDITOR:  Chris Dickens  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Jed Kurzel    GENRE: Drama DISTRIBUTOR:  Studio Canal (UK), The Weinstein Company (US)LOCATION:  United Kingdom, France, United States  RUNNING TIME:  113 Minutes

Technical Assessment:  4  Moral Assessment : 1  CINEMA Rating:  V18

          Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), a royal troop leader, is a big supporter of King Duncan (David Thewlis).  He likewise wins the commendation of the king for his victorious battles. But Macbeth actually  aims more than the praises of King Duncan. Together with his wife, Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotilliard) , they believe in the  prophecies of the witches that Macbeth will be crowned king and cannot be killed by natural born human. During the village feast when King Duncan pronounces Malcolm  (Jack Reynor) as his heir to the throne, the couple wait for the time for Macbeth to fulfil the prophecy. He kills King Duncan on his sleep with a dagger handed by the ghost of one of his killed soldiers. Malcolm is the first to discover, and decides to flee out of fear. His action makes him a suspect for the killing and spares Macbeth who becomes the King in the absence of Malcolm. But Macbeth, now king,  remains unhappy because aside from having no heirs, the prophecy  for the throne of the king favors Banquo (Paddy Considine) who has a son.  So he sends assasins to kill Banquo and his son.  But only Banquo is killed and the son flees. Macduff  (Sean Harris)  realizes the scheme of Macbeth and his wife, he searches and finds the earlier pronounced heir of the throne Malcolm.
          Macbeth, a Shakesperean poetry in motion, excels in most technical aspects of the film. As a novel adaptation it is seen with effort to level off  par excellence with the equivalent literary classic by Shakespere. Fassbender and the rest of the cast gave their excellent acting. The director did well in his overall treatment of transforming the actors into the characters they are portraying.  The delivery of lines were effective and meaningful. The production design has entirely created the requirement for the battle era that accommodated a huge number  of extras for the crowd.  The editing is clean and has good following of the story.
         It is good to have ambition. It helps set direction of what a person wants to achieve in life. However, if it is marked by greed and selfishness it may lead to  his/her own demise. This is what happened to the main character of the film Macbeth. He was overwhelmed by praises of people for his victorious battles as a soldier.  It led him to the grievous act of murdering innocent people.  The wife is as selfish as the husband in the film. She prayed to the gods of darkness and believed in witches. She equally met her own shameful demise for her connivance. The film was concluded with justice served. However, the entire run of the film depicted selfish motives, senseless murders, praying to false gods, believing in hoax prophesy,  and bad influence of women. The film may have given a lesson about pursuing ambition, but no solution was offered in the end.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Our brand is crisis

DIRECTOR:   David Gordon  LEAD CAST: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida  SCREENWRITER: Peter Straughan  PRODUCERS:  George Cloony & Grant Heslov  EDITOR:  Collin Paton  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  David Wingo  GENRE: Satirical comedy, Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Timm Orr  DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures  LOCATION:  United States (also filmed in Bolivia) RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
Technical assessment:  3    Moral assessment:  3     CINEMA rating:  V14

       Into self-imposed retirement, high-powered political spin-doctor Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is recruited to boost the campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate, Senator Castillo (Joaquim de Almedia) who’s struggling in the election polls.  In Bolivia, Bodine crosses paths with another American political strategist and archrival Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), who’s working for Castillo’s rival candidate.  The two American image-makers stop at nothing in the Dirty Tricks Department to make their respective employers win the election.
       When a movie stars big names like Sandra Bullock or Joaquim de Almeida, expectations run high: there must be integrity in the plot, topnotch acting, engaging dialogue, crisp editing, and over-all technical excellence that matches the brilliance of the stars. But while nothing seems terribly askew in Our brand is crisis, nothing is that breathtakingly flawless either.  It’s the genre at fault: the movie apparently suffers from an identity crisis.  As a satire it lacks bite, as a comedy the fun is forced, as a drama it doesn’t quite involve the viewer.  Given the weight of the subject matter—manipulation of public opinion at all cost—and considering that it was co-produced by George Clooney—it could have packed more punch to become an unforgettable movie.  Instead it bowed halfway in an effort to increase its box office appeal.
         Saving the movie is its delicate, timely and timeless theme—earning a living out of marketing lies, deceiving people to win them over to your side, resorting to character assassination to disable the opposition.  Our brand is crisis takes the political neophyte into a world where nothing can be called “pure” except the avarice that informs every action of an individual.  There’s a young person in the story that the Filipino youth can resonate with—he is full of hope and trust in an older person he deems virtuous until something happens.  The complete turnaround of one bothered character in the end is another saving grace.  Sure Our brand is crisis uncovers the ruthlessness of money and power worshippers, but it also makes an unequivocal statement for the triumph of conscience.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Walang forever

DIRECTOR: Dan Villegas  LEAD CAST:  Jennylyn Mercado, Jericho Rosales SCREENPLAY:  Paul Sta. Ana  MUSIC: Emerzon Texon EDITOR: Marya Ignacio  PRODUCERS:  Josabeth Alonso, Edgardo Mangahas, Fernando Ortigas, EA Rocha  DISTRIBUTOR: Quantum Films  GENRE:  Romantic-Comedy  LOCATION:  Manila, Taiwan  RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V14
Magsisimula ang Walang Forever sa isang interview ng sikat na screenwriter na si Mia Nolasco (Jennylyn Mercado).  Tatanungin siya kung saan siya humuhugot ng mga ideya para sa mga isinusulat niyang kwentong pangpelikula.  Isisiwalat niya na bukod sa mga nakikita niyang pinagdaraanan ng ibang tao, ay ang mismong mga karanasan niya ang nagagamit niya para sa mga kuwento.  Dito maihahantad ni Mia ang kuwento ng pag-iibigan nila ni Ethan Isaac (Jericho Rosales), paghihiwalay, pagtatagpong muli, at magtatapos ang pelikula sa pagpapakita ng kasalukuyang buhay ni Mia.
May laman ang kuwento ng Walang forever, bagama’t hindi masyadong makinis at maliwanag ang pagkaka-juxtapose ng flashbacks sa tunay na buhay at mga film clips na tumutugon sa mga ito.  Para tuloy kakailanganin mo pang panoorin ulit ang pelikula para mapagdugtong-dugtong ang mga eksenang naturan, at hanguin ang buong love story nila mula rito.  Sa paningin ng CINEMA, ang nakalilitong paglalahad ng kuwento ang “nakakapilay” sa technical aspect ng hinirang na “Best Film” ng ika-41 Metromanila Film Festival.  Ang ibang aspeto naman tulad ng sinematograpiya, tunog, musika, production sets, ay pawang akma sa pagsulong ng istorya.  Ang pinakamagaling na sandata ng Walang forever ay ang hindi matatawarang kakayahan sa pagganap nila Mercado at Rosales, at kahit hindi ganoong kabigat ang hamon ng pelikulang ito sa kanilang husay bilang mga artista, ay kapuna-punang ibinuhos pa rin nila ang kanilang sarili sa kani-kaniyang mga papel.
Pinahahalagahan ng pelikula ang pagmamahalan ng isang babae at isang lalaki nang walang takot sa anumang pagsubok na darating, isang bagay na tila kinatatabangan na ng ilang mga kabataan sa kasalukuyan.  Sa panahong nanganganib na ang “forever” sa mga nagliligawan at nagrerelasyon dahil na rin sa makasariling pag-iwas sa commitment, pinaninindigan ng Walang forever ang pagkakaroon ng makabuluhang pagmamahalang nagpapakasakit alang-alang sa “forever”.  Sa puntong ito, pinatototohanan ng Walang forever na sa kabila ng lahat, sadyang mayroong “forever” na maaasahan at matatamo ng bawa’t nilalang na umiibig nang tapat.

Buy now, die later

DIRECTOR: Randolph Longjas  LEAD CAST: Vhong Navarro, Alex Gonzaga, Rayver Cruz, John Lapuz, Lotlot de Leon, Janine Gutierez, TJ Trinidad  SCREENWRITER: Ronald Allan Habon  PRODUCER:  Quantum Films  GENRE: Comedy/Horror  DISTRIBUTOR: Quantum Films  LOCATION:  Philippines RUNNING TIME:  2 hrs./10 mins.
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V14

Kuwento ng limang pinagtagni-tagning buhay at pagnanasa, mapapadpad ang limang pangunahing tauhan sa misteryosong tindahan ni Santi (TJ Trinidad) na magbibigay kasagutan sa mga ninanasa nilang makamit sa buhay. Si Odie (Vhong Navarro) ay isang photojournalist na nag-aasam na makagawa ng malaking pangalan sa industriya tulad ng kanyang yumaong ama at mapatunayan sa kanyang boss na siya ay magaling. Si Chloe (Alex Gonzaga) naman ay nagnanais na maging sikat na mang-aaawit ngunit wala naman siyang natatanging tinig para makapasok sa showbiz. Si Ato (Rayver Cruz) naman ay isang chef na nag-aasam na palaguin ang kanyang restaurant business sa pamamagitan ng pange-enganyo sa mas marami pang customers na makakatikim ng kanyang lutuin. Si Pippa (John Lapuz) ay nagnanais na mapansin at mahalin ng kapwa niya mga lalaki. Habang si Maita (Lotlot de Leon) naman ay nagnanais na makabalik sa kanyang kabataan upang buhayin ang pagnanasang maibalik ang naudlot na kasikatan sa showbiz. Lahat silaý bibili sa tindahan ni Santi. Matutupad ng mga ito ang kanilang inaasam ngunit lingid sa kanilang kaalaman, may malaki itong kabayaran.
            Bagama’t sadyang mahirap mapagkasya ang limang kuwento sa limitadong oras ng pelikula, naging matagumpay naman kahit paano ang Buy now, die later sa pagtatahi ng limang iba’t-ibang kuwento. Naging malikhain ang kuwentista ng pelikulang ito sa paglalarawan ng limang kuwento gamit ang mga makabuluhang simbolo. Nagbigay aliw sa pelikula sa pamamagitan ng magandang disenyo, mahuhusay na artista, at tapat na hangaring makapaghatid ng bagong putahe at magandang aral gamit ang sining ng pelikula. Sa pelikulang ito ay maaaliw at mapapaisip ang manonood ng sabay. Sa limang kuwento, kaabang-abang ang kay Ato at Pippa…ngunit di rin nagpahuli ang kuwento ni Maita. Sa kabuuan, iniangat ng pelikulang ito ang panlasa ng manonood sa komedya sa pamamagitan ng paghahain ng makabagong uri ng sining sa pelikula. Sayang nga lang at limitado ang oras ng pelikula, disinsana’y, nabigyan ng pantay-pantay na bigat ang limang kuwento.
                  Hitik sa mensahe ang Buy now, die later.  Ipinakita ng pelikula kung paanong kumikilos ang demonyo sa buhay ng isang tao sa pamamagitan ng pag-aakit nito na busugin ang anumang pagnanasa na hindi isinasaalang-alang ang Diyos at ang kapwa. Ang ating mga pangunahing kakayanan tulad ng paningin, pandinig, panlasa, pandama at pang-amoy ay dapat higit sa lahat ay ginagamit sa kabutihan—ngunit nang dahil sa pagiging makasarili, nagiging tulay ang mga ito ng pagkakasala. Sa paghahanap ng mga tauhan ng mga bagay sa buhay na nagdudulot ng panandaliang ligaya, panandaliang aliw, panandaliang kasikatan, panandaliang pagmamahal, ang napala nila ay kapahamakan at kawalang katahimikan. Bilang mga taong likha ng Diyos, gaano man katindi ang isang pagnanasa, biniyayaan ang tao na mag-isip at pumili ng tama. Si Santi bilang simbolo ng demonyo at tukso ay ipinakitang nagbabalatkayo sa maganda at mapang-akit na anyo. Sa kabuuan, naihatid ng pelikula ang mensaheng ang tao ay dapat ituon ang kanyang pansin sa dapat at nararapat tungo sa kabutihan ng nakakarami. Sakaling magkamali at magkasala, laging hindi pa huli ang lahat upang ipaglaban ang kabutihan—at ito ay naisasakatuparan sa pamamagitan ng pagsasakripisyo at paggawa ng kabutihan.  Dahil sa mabigat na tema ng pelikula, minamarapat ng CINEMA na sa mga kabataan edad 14  pataas lamang ito ipakita, at kailangang gabayang mabuti ng mga magulang ang mga batang manonood na may gulang 13 pababa.

Haunted mansion

DIRECTOR: Jun Lana LEAD CAST: Janella Salvador, Marlo Mortel, Jerome Ponce EDITORS: Benjamin Tolentino, Ilsa Malsi  PRODUCER: Regal Entertainment  WRITER: Jun Lana  STORY: Jun Lana, Renato Custodio, Marlon Miguel  SCREENPLAY: Jun Lana, Elmer Gatchallian  MUSIC: Francis Concio  GENRE: Horror Film  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Regal Entertainment  DISTRIBUTORS: Regal Entertainment  COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Filipino, English RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB rating: PG

May kakayahan si Ella (Janella Salvador) na makakita ng mga multo—mayroon siya ng tinatawag na “third eye”—ngunit hindi palagay ang kanyang loob tungkol dito.  Sa pakiramdam niya, “weird” siya sa paningin ng iba, lalo na’t binu-bully siya ng mga ilang mga kaeskuwela niya dahil dito.  Subalit hindi niya mapaglabanan ang kakayahan niyang ito.  Magkakaroon ng isang retreat silang mga magkakamag-aral sa isang luma at malaking bahay sa isang ilang na lugar sa probinsiya.  Malalaman nilang lahat na pinaninirahan ang naturang mansion ng mga multo, ang ilang sa kanila ay tila hindi matahimik pagkat may gustong ipaalam na katotohanan, at ang ilan naman ay tangkang saktan at paslangin ang mga nagre-retreat.  Dahil sa mga malalagim na pangyayari, kikilalanin na ng mga kasama niya ang kakayahan ni Ella, at matututhan na ring niyang tanggapin ang kanyang “third eye” kung ito ang makapagliligtas sa kanila.
            Madaling sundan ang pahayag ng Haunted mansion. Kahit na marahil hindi ka naniniwala sa multo ngunit bukas ang iyong isipan sa laya ng sining, masasabi mong maganda ang daloy ng kuwento.   Kahanga-hanga ang mga visual effects ng pelikula, siryoso ang kuwento, at dahil hindi nito ginagawang katatawanan ang katatakutan, higit na mataas ang antas nito sa karaniwang Pilipino horror movies.  Maayos ang production sets, may angkop na tugtugin, at nakapagbibigay ng tamang “mood” sa kuwento at mga eksena.  Para sa isang baguhan sa pinilakang tabing, mahusay ang pagkakaganap ni Salvador (na nakilala sa teleseryeng OmyG), naibigay niya ang hinihingi ng ginampanang papel; gayon din ang kanyang mga kapwa artista/kamag-aral.  Epektibo din bilang isang malupit na multo ang marilag na si Iza Calzado—sa kabila ng kanyang taglay na kagandahan, magaling niyang naisalarawan ang kaitimang-budhi ng kanyang karakter.  Dahil dito naisip naming marami pang uri ng papel ang kayang-kayang gampanan ni Calzado.
            May ilang mga bagay ang mapupuna sa Haunted mansion.  Ikauna, ang pagkakatuon ng mga isip ng mga estudyante sa ligawan, na parang iyon lamang ang dahilan kaya sila nasa eskuwelahan.  Nasa retreat na ay kung anu-ano pang kalokohan ang inaatupag.  Ikalawa, ang ugali ng ilang mga tao na makipaglaro sa panganib sa pamamagitan ng pagtawag sa mga yumao o paglibak sa kaluluwa ng mga ito.  Ikatlo, ang labis na pagbibigay ng kapangyarihan sa mga multo o masasamang espiritu, at ang kakulangan naman ng kapanyarihan ng mga tao upang labanan ang mga iyon.  Dapat nating isaisip na ang pinaka-makapangyarihan sa lahat ay ang Diyos, at walang dapat katakutan ang tao kungdi ang ibubunga ng pagsuway sa Kanyang kalooban.