The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication-CBCP

CINEMA (Catholic INitiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation) of The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines presents movies viewed in the light of the gospel. . *** For inquiries, please EMAIL: cbcpcinema@gmail.com *** CALL or TEXT: (02) 664 5886 *** or WRITE TO: CINEMA, Episcopal Commission on Social Communication, CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St. Intramuros, Manila *** Enjoy the reviews, and THANK YOU!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fuschia

Cast: Gloria Romero, Robert Arrevalo, Eddie Garcia, Armida Siguion Reyna, Gina Alajar, Iza Calzado, Tony Mabesa; Director: Joel Lamangan; Producer: Antonio P. Tuviera; Screenwriters: Joel Lamangan, Ricky Lee; Music: Vanda Guzman; Editor: Marya Ignacio; Genre: Drama; Cinematography: Carlos Montano; Distributor: APT Production; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 95 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above


BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

An elderly woman causes a scandal in a small community when she takes in her terminally ill first husband while still living with her current partner. But even as gossip surrounds her, she begins to find the strength within herself to speak out against the town's corrupt mayor.


OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF THE FILM:

How a woman courageously handles marital infidelity of her spouse enables her to speak out the truth against injustice and corruption in local government.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Boses



Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Boses is a tale of compassion, strength of the human spirit and the redeeming power of music. It tells the story of Onyok, a 7-year-old victim of child abuse in the hands of his father. Rendered mute by a physical trauma that damaged his larynx, Onyok (Julian Duque), who lives with his father in a countryside village, is rescued by police and taken to a shelter for battered children owned and run by the kindly Amanda (Cherry Pie Picache). His speech disability aggravated by the psychological burden of being kept away from his cruel father makes Onyok despondent. One day, seeing the other children taunting a man who lives in a house near the shelter, Onyok becomes curious, especially as he later on hears violin music coming from the house. He soon discovers that the man is the violinist Ariel (Coke Bolipata), the brother of Amanda who has abandoned his career as a concert violinist in Manila to live as a recluse, apparently in grief and guilt over the death of his woman. Onyok’s fascination with violin music leads him to investigate around Ariel’s house when it is empty. Sensing the boy’s interest, Ariel in time subtly manages to encourage Onyok to try the violin, and soon discerns a prodigy in the timid boy. A friendship very gently blossoms between the recluse and the battered child, until the boy is ripe for a recital to be witnessed by his father.




Boses is more than just a movie; it is a film that communicates its message to the soul using the soul’s language: music. And not just “muzak” as often used by cinematic potboilers, but music issuing from the bowels of the violin in the fullness of its range—from playful to plaintive. Boses is a rarity in the Philippine cinema industry which tends to churn out movies catering to popular taste. It has an educational value in the sense that the violin—a prominent instrument of classical music with which only privileged Filipinos are familiar—becomes an indispensable part of the film. First, although the film is about child abuse, the protagonists happen to be violinists, thus, the ubiquitous presence of the violin in it. Second, the musical score cleverly utilizes violin music which complements and enhances the emotional facet of the film. Third, the two lead actors are real life violinists, therefore their performance is not faked, but rather a unique privilege for the viewer who enjoys a bonus concert along with the movie. Boses also brings to the fore the serene charm of the countryside as it uses open spaces—seashores and fields—as backdrop for the clandestine violin lessons between violin master and prodigy.





Considering that the majority of the cast are first-time cinematic actors, Boses comes across as a credible reflection of real life issues, such as child abuse, and to a lesser extent, man’s inability to cope with his own weaknesses—as exemplified by the alcoholic abusive father and the reclusive violinist. The abusive father takes out his frustrations on a helpless child; the reclusive violinist punishes himself by wallowing in sorrow and remorse. But the innate good in man is also highlighted in the character of Amanda who deals with her brother, the victim-children, and the violent father with great patience, empathy and compassion. Boses should be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible, especially the young and those who have anything to do with the young, whether they are teachers, lawmakers, law enforcers, media people, guidance counselors, social workers, religious educators, or plain parents.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

Cast: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight, Ty Wood, EriK J. Berg; Director: Peter Cornwell; Producers: Paul Brooks, Daniel Farrands, Wendy Rhoads, Andrew Trapan; Screenwriters: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe; Music: Robert J. Kral; Editor: Tom Elkins; Genre: Horror-Suspense; Cinematography: Adam Swica; Distributor: Lionsgate Films; Location: USA; Running Time: 105 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen), a doting wife and mother with her husband Peter (Martin Donovan), a recovering alcoholic decide to buy an old and almost dilapidated house in Connecticut, despite its “past” to be nearer the hospital where their teenage son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is receiving an experimental treatment for cancer. As soon as they move in, Matt decides to use the basement as his bedroom and at once starts having creepy visions. The family dismisses these strange hallucinations as effects of his sickness and the treatment and decides to remain in the house. When Matt’s cousin Wendy (Amanda Crew) realizes that the visions the boy Matt has been seeing are the same ones in the old pictures she found, they decide to investigate further. Eventually they find out that the house had been a funeral parlor with people conducting séances and the participants dying except for the owner’s son Jonah (Erik J. Berg) who has mysteriously vanished. Matt realizes that the spirits of the dead people are still living and hunting the house and he must try to put them at peace.

One good thing about The Hunting In Connecticut is skillful sound engineering. The sound effects have been tediously and meticulously applied to create a convincing scary atmosphere. Other than this, the movie is cliché and flat. The performances are unrealistic and weak, the storyline develops predictably and the script follows an old and tired formula. The spiritual points of view become confusing with frequent references to the Bible and to God interspersed with occult beliefs. The strong Christian references in the movie are watered down by the equally strong pagan practices. Disturbingly, this has become the custom of some Catholics. Today, you will see people who combine their faith practices with pagan beliefs or compromise their Gospel values when convenient – for instance commitment to the spouse can be abandoned and justified one has fallen in love with someone else.

As in any horror movie, spirits are portrayed as violent and revengeful. The movie contains several gory scenes that may offend the sensitivities of most viewers. Parents need to guide their children when watching.

17 Again

Cast: Zac Efron, Lelie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenbeg, Sterling Knight, Matthew Perry, Melora Hardin, AllisonMiller; Director: Burr Steers; Producers: Jennifer Barrette, Adam Shankman; Screenwriter: Jason Filardi; Music: Rolfe Kent; Editor: Padraic McKinley; Genre: Romance/Comedy; Cinematography: Tim Suhrstedt; Distributor: New Line Cinema; Location: Los Angeles, California, USA; Running Time: 100 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) is experiencing what a lot of people call midlife crisis. His wife Scarlet (Leslie Mann) is suing for divorce, his children are aloof and indifferent to him and his most awaited promotion is given to someone else. Everything has gone awry since that memorable year in high school when he was 17, the year he was the idolized hero and golden boy of basketball with a promising future, what with all the scholarship offers to college. Now feeling at his lowest, Mike meets an old janitor who has not forgotten his exploits. Telling the janitor about his regrets over his mistakes, he wistfully wishes he were 17 again. Magically, Mike is plunged into a whirling vortex from which he emerges with his body at 17. Teenage Mike (Zac Efron) moves in with his best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon) who poses as Mike’s father when the transformed Mike enrolls at the high school. Though Mike inhabits his teenage body he has the same wife and children. He also retains the wisdom he has gained through his experiences. He helps his insecure son Alex (Sterling Knight) and his daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) overcome their teenage problems and guides them so they do not commit the same mistakes he made. His wife thinks it weird that Mike looks like her husband when he was a teenager. She is attracted to him, though she thinks it’s wrong, she being the mother of Alex who considers the teenaged Mike his best friend. Mike is still very much in love with his wife but he can’t explain just yet why it’s not wrong for them to fall in love again. What’s in store for them?

Hitting the number one spot in the U.S. box office chart after its opening day take of $24.5 million, 17 Again, the latest Zac Efron movie is said to outdo at the tills all of his other successful movies, including the High School Musical. This, in spite of the fact that here, the heartthrob does not have his usual equally popular partner, Vanessa Hudgens to put across with sweet chemistry that enviable romance which makes the idealistic young and the not-so-young swoon with delight. In 17 Again, Zac has only a brief scene with a teenage sweetheart and in the rest of the film, is paired with a lead, old enough to be his mother. The photography and the movie are not much to rave about, yet the movie has somehow clicked. Could it be the plot then? A story about body switches is not new in the movies and it challenges our credubility. But if, when going to the movies, the moviegoer is ready for even some strange possibilities, then probably a light film like 17 Again can be pleasantly entertaining especially when it is a bit more surprising than others. It has its own kind of humor like the first dinner date between Mike’s best friend, the weird millionaire Ned and the frosty principal Jane Masterson (Melora Hardin) who can inspire true love in this man whose greatest happiness before meeting her was to flaunt Darth Vader’s light saber, Now older, with a new adult persona and sensibility, Zac Efron has retained his boyish charm and is the film’s main magnet. Outgrowing his juvenile performances, he exudes more confidence and does adequately in important scenes.

Unlike most teenage movies, 17 Again has a lot of values that can give moviegoers especially young ones, some food for thought. We have met some people like the middle-aged Mike O’Donnell. Someone who blames others for his failures. In the movie, Mike blames his wife Scarlet because he thinks the teenager pregnancy of Scarlet caused him to lose his equanimity, his games as a basketball star and eventually his college scholarship and promising future. Harping on that, he has been living in the gloried past and what would have been and not doing enough in the present to succeed. The result: failure in different aspects of his life including his failure as a husband and a father. But the good thing in the end is his realization that he wants to change if given another chance. Another positive value is the correct idea regarding sex, espoused by the “17-again” Mike. The health class teacher in the film wants to teach “safe sex” with the use of condoms, like many misguided teachers today. Mike contradicts this by advocating abstinence from sex until marriage. He is speaking from experienced. He does not want others to commit his mistakes. He is especially concerned about his own children. And he gives his daughter very good advice after he finds her weeping because she is “dumped” by her boyfriend for not consenting to have sex with him. Mike tells her she will come across many such men who are undeserving of her but eventually she will meet someone who will appreciate her for her true worth as a person and not as a sex object. There is, however, something dismaying in the way the teenaged girls are portrayed. All of them appear wild, sex-crazed and sex-starved. Even Mike’s daughter seduces him, though unsuccessfully. Three teenaged girls proposition him angling for sex, saying he does not have to remember their names. Is this a true picture of teenaged girls in high school? We hope not. This is an American film. Good forbid that our local teenagers will imitate unthinkingly what they see on the screen.

Crank High Voltage

Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling, David Carradine, Reno Wilson, Joseph Julian Soria, Dwight Yoakam; Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor; Producers: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Skip Williamson, Richard S. Wright; Screenwriters: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor; Music: Mike Patton; Editor: Marc Jakubowicz, Fernando Villena; Genre: Action/ Adventure; Cinematography: Brandon Trost; Distributor: Lionsgate; Location: US; Running Time: 85 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 1
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

In Crank's prequel, Chev Chelios (Statham), the unstoppable hitman, survives a freefall from a helicopter. Now, he is kidnapped by some Asian gangsters who want to take his vital organs. His heart is replaced with a plastic, battery-powered machine. After three months, Chelios wakes up and upon learning that they’re taking away his other organs, he escapes. He soon learns he must keep the batteries managing his artificial heart charged while Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) tries to figure out a way to put the real one back in. Desperate to find his literally stolen heart, Chelios searches Los Angeles, running into old girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart), insane prostitute Ria (Bai Ling), and various criminal types. All clues and paths lead to a Chinese gang leader named Poon Dong (David Carradine). Chelios must get his heart from Dong before the battery of his artificial heart runs out of power.

This second installment (hopefully the last) of Crank series has nothing new to offer but its usual lousy filmmaking they call non-conventional and postmodern, trash aesthetics. Surely all these are but excuses and cover-ups for an otherwise sloppy and slapstick comedic style of storytelling. The post-structural combination of cartoons and live action could’ve been promising but the shallow premise, with all its shock value, just does not work to create an impressive and compelling movie. Crank High Voltage may be a real parody that should not be taken seriously; however, as with any other films of the same genre, there must be a real message intended for the audience to learn, or to be enlightened or inspired by. Unfortunately, Crank High Voltage does not in any way achieve any of these. Even the entertainment value of the film falls flat in most scenes.

The entire premise of Crank High Voltage is an absurd and lewd depiction of underground city living. The ultra realistic violence, lots of nudity and profanities, and stereotypical portrayals of Asians which are all out of context make the film morally abhorrent. Chelios’ fight for life could’ve been commendable but his very character and means of getting back his vital organ and thus, getting back at all his enemies, is beyond human forgiveness. The film has no saving grace. It tells the audience how dark and bad the world has become with the advent of technology. No single character or incident in the film portrays goodness. Each scene or character is maliciously done to tickle the audience’s wild and naughty imagination. The blood and gore in the film’s many scenes coupled with racial discrimination, outright disrespect for elders and authorities, and tolerance of scandalous behavior are totally disgusting, not to mention silly and depressing. CINEMA finds the movie appropriate for mature audience only.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dragonball Evolution

Cast: Justin Chatwin, YUn-Fat Chow, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung, James Marster, Joon Park, Randall Duk Kim; Director: James Wong; Producer: Stephen Chow; Screenwriters: Ben Ramsey, Akira Toriyama; Music: Brian Tyler; Editor: Matt Friedman, Chris G. Willingham; Genre: Action; Cinematography: Robert McLachlan; Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation; Location: Los Angeles, USA; Running Time: 85 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Two thousand years after Piccolo (James Marsters) is imprisoned when he attempted to destroy the Earth, he escapes and begins to search for the 7 dragonballs that will enable him to summon the Shen Long dragon and make a wish to finally conquer Earth. In his search, he kills Gohan (Randall Duk Kim), grandfather of 18 year old martial arts master Goku (Justin Chatwin). Meanwhile, Goku seeks out an old family friend Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) so he can unlock the secret of the dragonball and defeat Piccolo and save the Earth before the solar eclipse happens.

Dragonball Evolution is a film remake of anime TV series of the 90s. However, despite using real characters and hi end CGIs, the film falls short compared to the original cartoon. The movie is filled with tacky actions sequences, ghastly performances and below average direction. The slow-mo technique to emphasize or style an action sequence becomes tedious and corny. Another problem area is the characterization. The translation from anime to big screen real life comes to nothing with mediocre acting and weak dialogue. Fans of the original TV anime will be disappointed and first timers will be bored.

The heart of the movie is about “searching” – a search for the talismans, a search for victory, a search for one’s true character, a search for heroes and saviors. Life is a continuous journey to search and discover and to realize one’s worth and mission.
The movie’s fight sequences become more violent and destructive after it was translated to real life action. Parents should take precaution in allowing their young children to watch the movie unsupervised and unguided.

T2

Cast: Maricel Soriano, Mika dela Cruz, Derek Ramsay, Eric Fructuoso, Tetchie Agbayani, Camille Pratts, K. Brosas, Mon Confiado; Director: Chito S. Roño; Producer: Tess V. Fuentes; Screenwriters: Chito S. Roño, Aloy Adlawan; Editor: Manet A. Dayrit; Genre: Horror; Cinematography: Eli Balce; Distributor: Star Cinema Prductions; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 100 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Si Clair (Maricel Soriano) ay isang ulilang lubos na may-ari ng isang travel agency at volunteer sa Buklod Pamilya Foundation na naglalayong bigyan ng tahanan at pamilya ang mga batang ulila. Nagdaraan sa matinding pagsubok ang pagsasama ni Clair at ng asawa nitong si Jeremy (Derek Ramsay). Malaking problema nila na sila ay hindi nabiyayaan ng anak. Laking gulat ni Clair nang isang araw ay sabihin ni Jeremy na gusto nito ng trial separation. Dahil nais makaiwas at makalimot ni Clair sa problema ay nagboluntaryo siyang ihatid ang isang ulila sa pamilyang mag-aampon sa kanya sa Samar kasama ang driver na si Elias (Eric Fructuoso). Pabalik ng Maynila ay makakaranas ng kakaiba sina Clair at Elias katulad na lamang ng pagkakaharang ng kalyeng kanilang dinaraanan. Dahil dito’y maaantala ang kanilang pag-uwi at mapapadpad sila sa isang bahay-ampunan. Dito nila makikilala si Angeli (Mika dela Cruz) na isa na ring ulila. Aakalain ng mga madre sa bahay-ampunan na sinadya nila Clair ang pagpunta sa kanila upang sunduin si Angeli at ihatid sa kanyang Auntie sa Maynila. Gulat man ay pumayag na rin si Clair. Sa bahay-ampunan pa lang ay marami ng makikita at mararanasang kakaiba si Clair ngunit hindi siya nagsuspetsa ng anuman. Pauwi ay marami ring mangyayari sa kanila kasama si Angeli. Mga bagay na hindi maipaliwag. Pagdating sa Maynila ay matutunton nila ang lugar na pagdadalhan nila kay Angeli. Ito ang Tenement 2. Dito na malalaman ni Clair ang tunay na paliwanag sa lahat ng kakaibang karanasan niya kasama si Angeli.

Maraming bagong elemento na mapapanood sa T2. Halatang pinagbuhusan ng hustong pananaliksik ang tungkol sa mga engkanto, bagay na madalas lamang naririnig at nalalaman sa mga kuwento ngunit hindi lubusang nauunawaan. Pati ang special effects ay halatang ginastusan at pinagtuunan ng masusing pansin. Maayos at malinaw ang direksiyon na nais tahakin ng kuwento. Magagaling ang lahat ng mga tauhan at talaga namang nakakadala ang karamihan ng eksena. Yun nga lang ay nagkulang sa gulat at takot ang pelikula na nararapat sana sa isang pelikulang katakutan. Pawang kulang sa hagod ang pananakot at pawang hindi gaanong epektibo ang paraang panggulat ng pelikula. Nasapawaan ng drama ang dapat sana’y nakakatakot na kwento. Pero kung susumahin ay matagumpay naman ito sa pagbibigay ng biswal na interpretasyon sa isang mundong nanatili lamang sa guni-guni ng karamihan.

Ipinakita sa T2 ang dalawang klase ng mundo. Ang mundo ng mga tao, na puno ng pagmamahal ngunit puno rin ng paghihirap at pasakit, at ang mundo ng mga engkanto na pawang walang paghihirap at walang hangganan ang kaligayahan ngunit isa palang balatkayo lamang. Madalas ay nakasisilaw ang kagandahan, ang yaman at karangyaan. Pero sinasabi ng pelikula na hindi ito ang mahalaga kundi ang pagmamahal at mga kaakibat pang emosyon at mga relasyon na parte ng pagiging tao. Puno man ng sakit ang buhay ng tao ay namamayani pa rin dito ang pagmamahal. Ito ang wala sa mundo ng mga engkanto. Kahanga-hanga kung paanong ipinakita ng pelikula na kayang talunin ng liwanag ang kapangyarihang itim. Si Clair ay larawan ng isang babaeng malakas na sa gitna ng kanyang kahinaan at kalungkutan ay nagmamalasakit pa rin sa kapakanan ng iba maging ito ay hindi niya kaano-ano. Ipinakita rin sa pelikula na ang pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit ay wala sa dugo. Ito ay nasa pagnanais na magbahagi ng biyaya ng buong puso. Masigasig man ang kapangyarihang itim, hindi pa rin nito magagawang talunin ang mas makapangyarihang kabutihan at dalisay na pagmamahal.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Cast: Dev Patel, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance;; Director: Danny Boyle; Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy; Location: India; Running Time: 120 mins.


Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai who works as a tea maker in a call center, is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the entire country watching, he is just one question away from winning a total of 20-million rupees on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for a night, the show’s producer and host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) calls a police to arrest Jamal on suspicion of cheating; how could a slumdog know so much? To prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal) grew up, of their adventures together on the streets, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Freida Pinto), the girl he loved and lost, and found again. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to almost each of the game show's questions. Convinced with his story, the police inspector and show’s producer allow Jamal to return to the game show for the final 20-million rupees question. Will he be able to become the biggest winner of the game show? But little did the audience know they are up for a bigger surprise on Jamal’s real reason for joining the game show.

Slumdog Millionaire is a hybrid of Hollywood and Bollywood filmmaking. The stylistic, fast-paced direction and fresh approach to a worn-out rags-to-riches story receives the nod of critics and of the Oscars’ jury, winning the most coveted Best Picture. India’s slum area is captured in picturesque detail juxtaposing the rising technological skyscrapers depicting both poverty and progress and the price its citizens have to pay to cope with changes. The film takes the audience into another part of the world rarely seen in mainstream Hollywood films without being culturally myopic and politically incorrect. It is able to depict realities of Eastern, Third World poverty through a Western lens. Although the film specifies an ethnicity, the heart and soul of the story remains to be universal- eternal love, familial concerns, poverty, money and power. All these make the Slumdog Millionaire a real winner not just with critics but with the regular audience as well.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? For sure everyone does. But apparently, the films protagonist depicts a character whose real wealth does not depend on money. Jamal never desired to become a millionaire for money’s sake although fate brought him there. What is really compelling and commendable in the movie is Jamal’s pureness of heart and undaunted values amidst the slums, despite his dark past. It only goes to show that more than the events itself, a man’s reaction to such events in his or her life, whether good or bad, determines his or her character. Jamal has all the reasons to blame his country, his family, his neighborhood and his fate for all his miseries but he never did. In spite of all the hardships he went through in life, he never pitied himself and he never allowed miseries to defeat him. Most of all, despite of poverty, he never really desired millions of money, rather, he desired in his heart to find his one and only love. Such love remains to be his purpose and ultimate desire. Slumdog Millionaire tells the audience that amidst the darkness, there is awaits a light and people should never stop dreaming. Everyone has a right to dream big and hope springs eternal even in slums. And the real wealth of everyone is not money but significant relationships where one is able to share love. In this time and age where everyone is busy looking for fame and fortune, here is a movie that tells the audience time and again, that real fortune lies in the heart that loves truly and trusts deeply.

Some scenes of violence, physical and suggestive sexual abuse may not be suitable for the very young audience so CINEMA sees the movie fit for audiences 14 and above

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Anna Sophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino; Director: Andy Fickman; Producer: Andrew Gunn; Screenwriters: Andy Fickman, Mark Bomback, Matt Lopez; Music: Trevor Rabin; Genre: Sci-Fiction, Action/Adventure; Distributor: Walt Disney; Location: USA;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

Johnson plays Jack Bruno, a surly former felon who is trying to stay out of trouble by driving a cab in Las Vegas and who embarks upon the adventure of a lifetime when two teens appear in his taxi and need a ride to (seemingly) the middle of nowhere. He quickly realizes that the mysterious siblings, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig), are far from average—especially when they are pursued by a villain wearing a high-tech suit of armor. With the help of Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), the two travel to Witch Mountain, a secret government outpost in the Nevada desert, with the hopes of evading their pursuers and sending Sara and Seth home—and saving Earth in the process. This latest installment in the Witch Mountain series comes more than 30 years after the release of the first two films, ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN and RETURN TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who played siblings Tia and Tony in the original films, appear in small but pivotal roles as waitress and a sheriff. Johnson makes Bruno likable, even though the character barely likes himself. Robb and Ludwig are well cast as the earnest siblings who hold the fate of the world in their hands. Chase scenes abound and special effects that highlight the teens' special powers are prevalent, but the film remains kind-friendly.

Fast and Furious

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriquez, Jordana Brewster ; Director: Justin Lin; Producers: Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel, Michelle Fottrell; Screenwriter: Chris Morgan; Music: Bryan Tyler; Genre: Action/Adventure;; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: Los Angeles, USA, Panama, Mexico; Running Time: 107 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

Van Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the ultimate chapter of the franchise built on speed –FAST AND FURIOUS. Heading back to the streets where it all began, they rejoin Michelle Rodriquez and Jordana Brewster to blast muscle, tuner and exotic cars across Los Angeles and floor through the Mexican desert in the new high-octane action-thriller. When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Torette (Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O'Conner (Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to out maneuver him. And from convoy heist to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens

"ASSESSMENT ONLY"
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen; Director: Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman; Produces: Lisa Stewart; Screenwriters: Rob Letterman, Maya Forbes, Wally Wolodarsky, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger; Music: Henry Jackman; Editor: Joyce Arrastia, Eric Dapkewicz; Genre: Science Fiction; Distributor: Dreamworks; Running Time: 95 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance


BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

MONSTER VS ALIENS tells the story of a group so-called “monsters,” such as Susan Murphy (voiced by Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon). As a girl, she's struck by a meteorite and grows very, very tall in a big hurry. She is taken to a secret Army base, where she is kept with a group of other unusual subjects such as Dr. Cockroach (voiced by “House” star Hugh Laurie) and B.O.B., a large, blue blob with one eye and a mouth, who's nearly as dumb as Doc Cockroach is smart, but who's always ready to help. That's important, because the planet has been threatened by Gallxhan (hilariously voiced by The Office's Rainn Wilson) and all other attempts to deter him and his forces have failed. The monsters are the last hope to rescue humanity.

They Wait

Cast: Jaime King, Terry Chen; Director: Ernie Barbarash; Producer: Andrew Koster; Screenwriters: Trevor Markwart, Carl Bessay, Doug Taylor; Music: Hal Beckett; Editor: Lisa Robison; Genre: Horror; Cinematography: Gregory Middleton; Distributor: Brightlight Pictures; Location: Canada; Running Time: 89 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

After three years of stay in Shanghai China, couple Jason (Terry Chen) and Sarah (Jaime King) along with their son Sammy (Regan Oey) return to Canada for the funeral of Jason's uncle. The timing of the travel coincides with the Chinese festival of Ghost Month where it is believed that during this time ghost’s turn to demons if no offerings and sacrifices are made. Soon after their arrival, many strange occurrences happen which include Sarah and Sammy seeing ghosts, and worst when Sammy became mysteriously ill. When modern medicine fails, Sarah desperately turns to a Chinese pharmacist (Henry O) who tells her that her son is likely in a death grip by a disturbed ghost of a Chinese teenager and Sarah may lose him forever by end of Ghost Month festival if she will not subject herself to a dangerous ritual that will bring peace to the angry ghost. Will Sarah submit herself to the ritual and save her dying son?

They Wait offers a good package of horror film that has an interesting plot and compliments of acting, sound effects, and production design. The visual effects are likewise commendable for being effective in jolting the viewers without being destructive. The combined Western and Asian setting blend well for overall theme of the movie. There were scenes that were bit slow and dragging like when the child was being haunted and during the funeral wake with camera panning on the guests. But in general, scenes were well-coordinated and keep up to the interest of the viewers. Technically, the film has above average quality that pays off the time and money of the viewers.

The film gives emphasis on the importance of respect for the dead for peace of their souls and those who are living. Otherwise mysterious thing can happen and poses danger to life like what the family in the film has experienced. Similarly, life is precious and should be protected. Any dark secret specifically against life will come out no matter how long it takes and those responsible will pay for it. Whilst the overall theme of the film is horror and overpowering evil ghosts in the context of Chinese culture, it also highlights one great love of a mother to a child. A mother did not have second thought of risking her life to save the life of her son. A husband who is equally concerned to his child listens to the plead of the wife and trusts and supports her all the way. On the whole, "They Wait" is a positive film projecting values of respect, love, peace, faith and justice. However, scenes may be too scary for children, CINEMA recommends to viewers age 14 and above.

Pasang Krus

Cast: Rosanna Roces, Ketchup Eusebio, Joross Gamboa, Jao Mapa, Empress Shuck, BJ Morales, Christian Burke; Director: Neal “Buboy” Tan; Screenwriter: Neal “Buboy” Tan;; Music: ; Editor: Rocky Ko; Genre: Drama; Distributor: JPE Inc.; Location: Isabela and Manila; Running Time: 100 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Masasangkot sa isang sigalot sa lupain sa Isabela at mapapatay ang asawa ni Hermina (Rosanna Roces). Bago pa man isunod si Hermina at ang kanilang apat na anak ay tatakas na ang mga ito. Susubukan ni Hermina na humingi ng tulong sa mga pulis ngunit ang mga ito’y pawang kasabwat din ng mga pumatay sa kanyang asawa. Dahil wala nang mapuntahan, magtatatakbo na lamang siya karay ang mga anak. Sa pagmamadali’y mahihiwalay ang kanyang panganay. Mapapadpad si Hermina, kasama ang tatlo na lamang na anak, sa isang masukal na lugar sa Maynila at mapapahiwalay din ang tanging anak na babae. Sapagkat nagdadalang-tao, isisilang ni Hermina ang isang sanggol na lalaki sa kalye hanggang sa may magmagandang-loob na tumulong sa kanila at bigyan ng matutuluyan. Hindi na nahanap pa ni Hermina ang dalawa pa niyang anak. Pilit niyang itinawid at mapalaking mag-isa ang tatlong anak na lalaki. Makalipas ang halos 15 taon, ang mga anak niya’y kanyang naging pasang krus. Ang isa ay nakulong dahil napatay nito ang asawa. Ang isa nama’y naging snatcher at kidnapper, at ang bunso niya’y nagtulak ng droga. Kaakibat ng marami pang dalahin sa buhay, kahirapan at kawalang-katarungan, paano nga ba papasanin ng isang ina ang napakabigat niyang krus?

Isang tunay na melodrama at tearjerker ang pelikula. Sa layunin nitong antigin at kurutin ang puso ng mga manonood ay matagumpay ito. Matagal na panahon na ring walang tunay na melodramang pelikula ang naipapalabas. Ang Pasang Krus ay walang pagkukunwari sa aspetong ito. Nahaluan lamang ng kaunting makabagong paraan ng paglalahad ng kuwento, ngunit kung susumahin ay tipikal na dramang Pilipino ang pelikula na nagsubok muling isalamin ang tunay na mukha ng kahirapan at kabulukan ng lipunan. Mahusay si Roces bilang isang ina na puno ng pasakit sa buhay. Dama ang kanyang sinseridad sa bawat eksena. Maging ang mga nagisaganap bilang mga anak niya’y mahuhusay din. Maaring may sablay sa ilang tauhan, ngunit maari naman itong palagpasin. May mga tanong at ilang butas din sa kuwento ngunit maari na rin itong patawarin hangga’t hindi naman nakakasira sa kabuuan. Mahusay ang musikang ginamit na talaga namang nakatulong sa pagpapaigting ng angkop na damdamin.

Hindi kasalanan ang maging mahirap. Kadalasa’y nagbubulag-bulagan ang karamihan sa nagususmigaw na katotohanang marami sa ating lipunan ang biktima ng masamang kapalaran at kawalan ng oportunidad. Ang mga mahihirap na madalas na ginagamit ng mga pulitiko sa eleksiyon ay sila rin nilang binabale-wala. Ang buhay ni Hermina ay isa lamang sa maraming kuwento ng kahirapan. Nagsubok naman si Hermina na palakihin ng maayos ang mga anak at hindi nito kinukunsinti ang mga mali nilang gawa, ngunit sadyang mas malakas ang pwersa ng barkada at lansangan kaysa sa kanya kung kaya’t ang mga ito’y naligaw pa rin ng landas. Ito ay talaga namang nangyayari. Ang naging sandata lamang ni Hermina ay pagmamahal, pananampalataya at pagdarasal. Sa simula’y parang mali na patuloy niyang suportahan ang mga anak na naligaw ng landas ngunit sadyang walang ina na magnanais ng masama para sa kanyang anak. Patuloy namang nagsusubok ang mga tulad niya na magkaroon ng maayos na buhay at maituwid ang landas ng mga anak, yun nga lang, sadyang malupit ang lipunan sa gaya niyang walang edukasyon at walang lakas. Sa tulad ni Hermina na ignorante sa maraming bagay, kahanga-hanga pa rin na nanatili siyang matatag at dalisay. Sa dami nga naman ng dagok sa buhay at sa bigat ng pasang krus, at kawalan ng makakapitan, talaga namang sa Diyos mo na lamang iaalay ang lahat. Sa bandang huli’y sinasabi ng pelikula na may pag-asa kahit pa ang lahat ay nagsasabing wala na. Na mayroong Diyos na dumirinig sa ating panalangin at ang pagpapakasakit at pagtitiis ay may kapalit na biyaya.

Ace Ventura

Cast: Josh Flitter, Ann Cussack, Emma Lockhart; Director: David M. Evans; Producer: James C. Robinson; Screenwriters: David M. Evans, Jeff Sank; Music: Laura Karpman; Editor: Danny Saphire; Genre: Adventure; Cinematography: Mark Irwin; Distributor: Warner Bros.; Location: Florida, USA; Running Time: 90 min.;

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Ace Ventura Jr. (Josh Flitter) is exceptionally obsessed with animals, much to the displeasure of his widowed mother (Ann Cussack). When a series of missing lost pets strike his neighborhood, Ace Jr. is immediately drawn to solve the cases but his mother repeatedly warns him to stay off the animals lest he ends up like his father. But when his mother is arrested for allegedly kidnapping the baby panda in the zoo where she works, Ace, with the help of his grandfather (Ralph Waite), his nerd friend A-Plus (Austin Rogers) and his crush Laura (Emma Lockhart) follows his father’s footsteps as a pet detective to rescue the animals and save his mother from imprisonment.

Ace Ventura without Jim Carrey is like pizza without cheese. It just falls flat and tasteless. The Carrey-inspired acting of Flitter leaves much to be desired and just can not take off high enough for the movie to be memorable. The movie’s greatest mistake is young Ventura’s attempt to take on the mannerism of Carrey. Even with a good enough plot and respectable directions, the movie is still dull and forgettable.

A child will do anything for his parent. This is the movie’s strongest positive message. And we commend how the movie suggests that Ace Jr.’s primary motivation is for his mother.

However, some of Ace Jr. imitated and his girl schoolmate’s behavior border on being rude arrogant smart-aleck that may be by young viewers. Regardless of the times, talks and scenes about crushes and puppy love should not be emphasized for young children in movies. It is recommended that parents accompany their grade schoolers, and not allow their younger children to watch the film.