Monday, May 31, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina; Director: Mike Newell; Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Screenwriters: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard; Music: Harry Gregson-Williams; Editor: Michael Kahn, Martin Walsh, Mike Audsley; Genre: Action/ Adventure: Cinematography: John Seale; Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures; Location: Persia; Running Time: 110 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above


Produced by Walt Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, PRINCE OF PERSIA; THE SANDS OF TIME, is an epic action-adventure set in the mystical lands of Persia. A rogue prince names Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) relunctantly joins forces with a mysterious princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), and together, they race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time—a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.

ADDITIONAL REMARKS: War story is not for children.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shrek Forever After

Cast: (voices of) Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas,Walt Dohrn; Director: Mike Mitchel; Producers: Teresa Cheng, Gina Shay; Screenwriters: Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke; Music: Harry Gregson-Williams; Editor: David Teller; Genre: Animation/ Comedy: Cinematography: Yong Duk Jhun; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Running Time: 94 mins;

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

After having rescued his true love from the tower, Shrek (Mike Myers) now lives a happy life with wife Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and three kids. But then Shrek gets bored of the routine of his supposedly blissful family life: raising kids, putting up with tourists wanting to see his swamp, keeping the household running smoothly. Shrek misses his good old ogre days when he is feared by most and dreaded by many that he almost blew it up in his kids’ first birthday party. He tries to get away from the scene at a moment and along the way he meets Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), a dealer of deception. Beleaguered, Shrek signs a contract with him that promises a day where he can relive his good old ogre days and away from all his worries in exchange for a meaningless day in his childhood. What Shrek did not know is that the meaningless day would be the day he was born. Thus, everything he has previously done would be void, including the very important day when he rescued Princess Fiona. Now he has to find a way to get his life, family and true love back.

The fourth and last installment of Shrek series, Forever After caps the overall achievement of the franchise. The film is a fitting farewell that has explored all the possibilities of Shrek’s hyper-narrative with branches of stories coming from various fairy tale inspirations. Shrek Forever After still has the old charm audiences fell in love with. Although the ogre hero’s concern has matured and evolved in time, it still has its usual touch and charisma to audiences both young and old. It is apparent that the voice actors have become comfortable with their characters and their work comes out effortlessly. The 3D technology has enhanced even further the film’s solid storytelling. Even without 3D, the film can still pull it through given the detailed craftsmanship at work in the film from conceptualization to scripting to post-production. Fans of Shrek will never be disappointed with Forever After although they have to bear in mind that it cannot be compared with the achievement of Shrek I simply because, everything there in the original is fresh and new. As time goes by, it is understandable that Shrek’s story and character is no longer new but it does not mean that it has run out of surprises.

In Forever After, Shrek undergoes a stage in life called the midlife crisis. It is a stage wherein a person questions the essence of his existence and searches for the meaning of life. It is also a tricky stage because one would tend to look beyond instead of looking within. Shrek happens to look beyond his present state, thus, chooses to wonder what life may have been instead of looking forward to the life in store ahead. The price of such decision to relive the past had cost him a great deal – his love, family and friends, and his entire life. Shrek sums up the film’s message in his one line: “I didn’t know what I had until it was gone.” It is but human nature to want more and wonder what life would have become if circumstances are different, but then, such should not be a hindrance to appreciate and be grateful for what one has at the present moment. Parenting, raising a family and doing household chores are never easy but the rewards at the end of the day are all worth it. Life happily ever after could be just in fairy tales for in real life, hardships and trials would always be part of life. This is one important moral that is always present in Shrek series. And finding one’s true love is just as challenging as keeping it. However, such themes may be too much for the very young and considering some violence and adult contextual humor in the film, CINEMA recommends Shrek Forever After for audiences 14 years old and above.

Robin Hood

Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt; Director: Ridley Scott; Producers: Russell Crowe, Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott; Screenwriter: Brian Helgeland; Music: Marc Streitenfeld; Editor: Pietro Scalia; Genre: Action/ Drama: Cinematography: John Mathieson; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: UK; Running Time: 140 mins.;

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

After ten years of battling in another land, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) returns to England with of his friends, Alan A’Dale, Will Scarlett and Little John. Along the way, they steal the armor of slain knights while Robin promises the dying Sir Robert Loxley to return a sword to his father in Nottingham. They board an English ship under the guise of noblemen and Robin assumes the identity of Loxley. He is chosen to inform the Royal family of the death of King Richard the Lionheart and to witness the coronation of his younger brother, King John (Oscar Isaac). However, King John is cruel, arrogant and shows no concern for his people. He demands steep taxes and assigns Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) to collect from his northern kingdom unknowing that the later is a traitor and agent of the French King. Godfrey causes the civil unrest from the people and divides England in time for the French invasion. Meanwhile, Robin continues to impersonate Loxley to prevent the crown to take over the family’s lands. Loxley’s widow, Lady Marion (Cate Blanchet) initially distrusts his motives but warms up to him when she sees how Robin recovers grains for the town people. When the French invade, Robin and the English Barons fight for their country and succeed in subduing the French when Robin kills Godfrey with an arrow shot from a distance. However, King John mistakenly assumes that the French surrendered to Robin and perceives him as a threat to his crown. He declares Robin to be an outlaw and forces him and him, Lady Marion and his friends to retreat to the Sherwood Forest and form the Merry Men.

Audience should commend the efforts of the filmmakers to create a backstory for a well known legend. Regardless of some historical discrepancies, the film progresses quite effectively. However, the presentation gets muddled up between trying too hard to fit fantasy into history and into a popular myth resulting to a disappointingly lifeless action sequence. Crowe lacks the nimbleness of Robin Hood. He is too brawny and serious for the image of a high spirited outlaw who steals for the poor. The director invested heavily on the battle scenes and stripped off the humor from the characters. It would have hurt to see them smile and crack a joke once in awhile. What comes welcome though is the portrayal of Lady Marion as a tough and independent girl instead of the usual damsel in distress. She represents the modern woman who will fight for what she wants and what is right.

The story of Robin Hood always brings to questions the role of vigilante heroes. Are they excused to do one bad deed in exchange for a good one? Are they excused of the consequences of stealing if they are to give their loot to another person in need? Christian teachings explicitly disapprove of this. One cannot offset a bad deed with a good one. In the same way, that a rich man’s charity works will not exonerate his cheating of his customers and employees, the Robin Hood syndrome, so common in Filipino movie action movies, does not excuse the use rudeness, violence and deviousness to help the poor and needy.

On the other hand, Ridley’s Robin Hood tackles themes on good governance, commitment and service to country and the fight against corruption and oppression. One can see how at any given time, citizens will always fight for their country and home.

Some scenes hinting on church leaders’ oppression, violence and some sexual innuedos might offend the more sensitive audiences. The movie is recommended for older teenagers with parental guidance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Furry Vengeance

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop; Director: Roger Kumble; Producers: Keith Goldberg, Robert Simonds; Screenwriters: Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert; Music: Ed Shearmur; Editor: Lawrence Jordan; Genre: Comedy/ Family: Cinematography: Peter Lyons Collister; Distributor: Pioneer Fims; Location: USA; Running Time: 92 mins.;

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

Construction supervisor Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) uproots his Chicago-based family—wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and teen son Tyler (Matt Prokop)—to move to the woodlands of Oregon and supervise the creation of an environment-friendly housing development. A sulking son and an unwilling wife are no match for Sanders’ scheming boss Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong) who, with an irresistible double-your-salary package, ensnares Sanders in spite of his better judgment. Insensitive to his son’s resentment of his situation and to his wife’s half-hearted cooperation, Sanders naively thinks they will see his point when the eco-friendly paradise that the subdivision is envisioned to be is finally inaugurated. His family is not alone, however, against the project. Work and life soon become unbearable for Sanders due to the forest creatures that conspire to put stumbling blocks on his path one after the other until Sanders is suspected of being—you guess it right—mentally ill.

Furry Vengeance is one of those movies that promise a lot but deliver so little. While it tries to say that it’s important to preserve flora and fauna in their natural state, it projects fauna as mean critters who will do everything to defend their habitat. Like urinating in the mouth of a person and catapulting boulders to destroy incoming cars. Skunks, raccoons, and other furry animals are so way-over-the-top smart that they make a moron out of Sanders. It’s a wonder Sanders survives the furry vengeance. But then again, all that nincompoopery must have been the reason behind Fraser’s flat acting. And speaking of flat acting—maybe Brooke Shields shouldn’t have accepted such an unchallenging role, unless, of course, that’s what she has really become after all those years of glamorous living: a nondescript suburban housewife. Assessing her character, the viewer might say, “Is that what has become of Pretty Baby?” Oh well, maybe it’s the story’s fault—it makes everybody dull beside the furry avengers.

Time to give Furry Vengeance the benefit of the doubt. It may have been clumsily delivered, but the message in this unfunny comedy is: put family and nature before anything else. Which is not quite a bad message these days when family is increasingly becoming “endangered species” as people pursue careers that sap all their energy. Forgive the predictable ending, as long as the father is converted from ambitious and materialistic career guy to nurturing father—thanks to the raccoon. Forget about the corny dialogue as long as they freeze the bulldozers and punish the greedy housing developers. There’s another noteworthy element in Furry Vengeance: a teen pair’s first kiss is treated with restraint, as though to say it’s not just an impulse to be taken for granted. The boy’s mother has done a good job after all. Despite its technical shortcomings and scatological humor, Furry Vengeance gets passing grades for its good intentions. --TRT

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little BIg Soldier

Cast: Jackie Chan, Lee-Hom Wang, Peng Lin, Ken Lo; Director: Sheng Ding; Producers: Jackie Chan, Solon So; Screenwriter: Jackie Chan; Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Comedy: Distributor: Cathay-Keris Film; Location: Singapore; Running Time: 96 mins.;

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

Set during China's Warring States Period, a battle between two states, Liang and Wei, has left only two men alive in the battlefield – the cowardly Liang soldier (Jackie Chan) and his rival Wei general (Wang Leehom). The Liang soldier captures the wounded Wei general by fluke. He is determined to bring his captive back to Liang to get a reward and live a peaceful, normal life. However, the road to Liang will not be easy and soon he learns there are many others who are after the Wei general and they will not give him an easy time.

Little Big Soldier lives up to its title from start to finish. It may be a little film for a war setting that requires certain feel of grandeur. But it is a big film with Jackie Chan at the helm delivering a noteworthy performance that is both serious and comic. This may have always been Chan's style but he is more serious than comic in this film that makes it quite different from his other films. The big scenes are not the really the battle scenes but the moments between the two main lead. The film is able to develop an interesting pair of characters with the very needed depth of emotions coupled with skillful martial arts. There are also captivating frames of Ancient China scenery that have added delight to the entire look of the film. However, there are many underdeveloped and at times, odd subplots that were not given enough attention so it has actually distracted the audience from the movie's main plot. The sounds get a little bit off sometimes and Chan's voice is awfully dubbed.

As with other war films, Little Big Soldier once again tackles the morality of war. It clearly philosophizes two opposing points with its two lead characters. One is a coward who doesn't want to kill people, but is compassionate and kind, and the other is considered patriotic and courageous , with the number of men he has killed, and he firmly believes he is doing it for the a justifiable cause and for the common good.. War may have turned some into savages but it's different with the case of the two main characters who eventually ended up as friends protecting each other from harm and danger. Although the two leads may have different beliefs, they both showed traits of a good soldier – one who defends his land and people and sacrifices his own life, advocating peace rather than war. Towards the end, the film showed that a life of sacrifice has its rewards not on earth but in a place where peace reigns and flowers are in full bloom. After all, as the film says many times, life is marvelous. However, there are some scenes of violence and suicide wherein children must be guided so such scenes can be explained in its thematic and cultural context.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidey; Director: Samuel Bayer; Producers: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller; Screenwriters: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer; Music: Steve Jablonsky; Editor: Glen Scantlebury; Genre: Horror/ Thriller/ Fantasy: Cinematography: Jeff Cutter; Distributor: New Line Cinema; Location: USA; Running Time: 95 mins;

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

Freddy Kruger returns from 1984’s very first A Nightmare on Elm Street series but this time with less humor and a darker past. The movie follows the original plot with a few new twists as Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her friend Quintin (Kyle Gallner) discover that they, and the rest of their murdered friends, shared the same pre-school where Freddy Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley) was the gardener. Apparently, Freddy is accused of molesting or hurting the children and the parents decided to put justice into their hands. And without the benefit of a trial or strong evidence, the parents burn Freddy alive. Meanwhile, Nancy and Quintin, in the attempt to stop Freddy’s revenge, try to pull him out of their dreams so they can kill him in real time.

The concept of a nightmare crossing reality delivered shivers when audience first watched the 1984 original movie. However, this remake pales in comparison to Wes Craven’s original movie. The powerlessness in one’s sleep and the horror that one can be hurt or killed in the embrace of dreams were the reasons the franchise worked for some time. However, the powerlessness of the performances from the screaming teenagers and the dull horror of each sequence will not make this remake work. It is tired and lacks the scream factor expected of this genre. Robert Englund’s Freddy was psychotically funny and creepy. Englund’s one liners and perpetual smirk were almost adorable but Haley’s meaner and more evil version turns Freddy into another ordinary serial killer. Freddy is evil, whether dead or alive, in dreams or reality. At first, one will be led to believe that he is avenging his own fate in the hands of the pre-school parents. But later on, as the entire plot unfolds, we are introduced to an evil creature that hurts and kills just because he can.

The movie is too violent and gory for young audiences; it also deals indirectly, yet despicably, with child abuse and molestation. The victims and the people who punished the wrongdoer are hunted and killed at the end. And more disturbingly, nothing can stop Freddy’s killing rampage. Theme, language and treatment may cause even adults’ stomachs to turn. The film targets teenagers and young adults—people who are usually susceptible to misleading beliefs. There’s a scene where Quintin takes off his necklace and puts it around Nancy’s neck as she sets out to confront the villain, telling her “You’ve got to believe in something.” Although it resembles a cross, and his words hint at faith in superhuman protection, it may be perceived as superstition instead of genuine faith in the divine since nowhere else in the movie is God shown as a loving or even a saving God. In fact, the movie doesn’t even allude to God anywhere and its open ended conclusion even implies the undying power of evil.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Here Comes the Bride

Cast: Eugene Domingo, Tuesday Vargas, John Lapus, Jaime Fabregas, Angelica Panganiban; Director: Chris Martinez; Screenwriter: Chris Martinez; Genre: Comedy: Distributor: Star Cinema Productions; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 110 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For age 13 and below with parental guidance

Dumating na ang araw na pinakahihintay ni Stephanie (Angelica Panganiban): ang kanyang kasal na gagawin sa isang beach resort. Papunta na rin ang ilan sa kanyang mga bisita na karamihan ay manggagaling ng Maynila. Sa kalagitnaan ng biyahe, habang nagaganap ang partial solar eclipse ay biglang maaaksidente si Stephanie pati na rin ang iba niyang mga bisita sa lugar na tinatawag na Magnetic Hill. Magkakabungguan ang kanilang mga sasakyan, mawawalan ng malay at sa kanilang paggising ay nagkapalit-palit na ang kanilang mga kaluluwa sa kanilang katawan. Si Stephanie ay nasa katawan ng kanyang matandang dalagang ninang (Eugene Domingo) at walang naniniwalang siya ito. Ang ninang naman niya ay napunta sa katawan ng isang yaya (Tuesday Vargas). Si yaya naman ay nasa katawan ng isang matandang mayaman (Jaime Fabregas) na napunta naman ang kaluluwa sa katawan ng binabaeng beautician na si Toffee (John Lapuz) na ngayon ay nagsasaya dahil ang kaluluwa niya ang nasa katawan ni Stephanie. Magkakagulo oras na malaman ng lahat ang misteryoso nilang pagpapalitan ng kaluluwa.

Isang mahusay na pelikula ang Here Comes the Bride na hindi lamang nagbigay ng todong aliw at saya kundi naghatid din ng makabuluhang istorya. Naiiba at bago sa panlasa ang tipo ng komedyang kumilos sa pelikula. Pakaaabangan ang bawat eksena at talaga namang hahagalpak sa katatawa ang manonood sa bawat linya at kakatwang sitwasyon. Sa pagkakataong ito, mas nakakatawa ang mga sitwasyon at ito ang tunay na tinatawanan at hindi ang mga komedyante lamang. Hindi kinailangan ng mga tauhan na gawing katawa-tawa ang mga sarili upang magbigay aliw. Lutang ang kahusayan ng manunulat na siya ring nagdirehe ng pelikula. Walang itulak kabigin ang husay ng mga nagsiganap na naging doble ang hirap dahil kailangan din nilang gampanan ang karakter ng bawat isa. Lahat sila ay naghatid ng laksang kasiyahan at lumutang ang kanilang tunay na talino sa pag-arte. Sana’y ito na ang maging batayan ng pelikulang komedya sa Pilipinas.

Sa likod ng matinding katatawanan ay may malalim na mensahe ang pelikula. Ito ay ang pagpapahalaga sa kabuuan ng isang tao: ang kanyang katawan at kaluluwa. Bagama’t ang kaluluwa ay tinuturing na mas mahalaga dahil ito ay nananatili at hindi namamatay, dapat ding igalang at pahalagahan ang katawang lupa. Sa lahat ng bagay ay dapat may kaisahan ang katawan at kaluluwa lalo na sa mga desisyon sa buhay. Sa maraming beses ay ninais ni Toffee na samantalahin ang pagkakataon na siya ay nasa katawan ni Stephanie ngunit maigting ang pagtutol ni Stephanie na gamitin ni Toffee ang kanyang katawan sa masamang paraan. Nariyan din ang matinding tukso sa lahat na manatili na lamang sa katawan ng iba upang matakasan ang kani-kanilang problema. Para bang ang mabuhay bilang ibang tao ang sagot sa kanilang mga suliranin ngunit sa bandang huli’y napagtanto din nila na hindi ito nararapat at kailangan nilang makabalik sa kani-kanilang katawan sapagkat iyon ang tamang gawin. Pinahalagahan din ng pelikula ang pananatiling dalisay ng katawan hanggang sa pagpapakasal. May ilang nakababahalang eksena lamang na kung saan ay may biglaang pagtatalik ang dalawang tauhan ngunit nabawi naman ito sa kabuuang konteksto. Yun nga lang ay nararapat pa ring gabayan ang mga batang manonood lalo na sa ilang mga eksena na may patungkol sa maseselang relasyong sekswal, at lalo’t higit sa isang nakaliligaw na pananaw na maaari palang magkapalit-palit ang mga kaluluwa ng tao. Sa Here Comes the Bride, ang pagpapalitan ng kaluluwa’y nagmistulang isang laro, bagay na taliwas sa turo ni Kristo at ng Simbahan.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Last Song

Cast: Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston, Bobby Coleman; Director: Julie Anne Robinson; Producers: Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman; Screenwriters; Nicholas Sparks, Jeff Van Wie; Music: Aaron Zigman; Editor: Nancy Richardson; Genre: Drama/ Romance: Cinematography: John Lindley; Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures; Location: Georgia, USA; Running Time: 110 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) blames her dad for her parents’ divorce. When her mother Kim (Kelly Preston) takes her and her kid brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) for a summer with their father Steve (Greg Kinnear) in his beach town home on Tybee Island, Georgia, Ronnie doesn’t hide her disgust for her father. She snaps at her father at every turn, spurning his hospitality and kindness, while Jonah, who enjoys a loving relationship with his dad, pleads with her to at least be civil to the estranged father. In spite of his daughter’s boorish ways, Steve—a retired concert pianist who’s now busy making a work of art for the local church—keeps his calm and perseveres as a compassionate father. Ronnie avoids her dad by escaping to the beach, and here’s where she meets hunky Will (Liam Hemsworth), who’s tall, blonde and blue-eyed but fails to attract Ronnie.

If there’s one outstanding feature in this movie, it is the remarkable sincerity in the lead characters’ acting. It is both demanded and generated by the solid story which may be cutesy t first glance but is, on second thought, substantial. Cyrus is in her element playing the alienated daughter, refusing a Juilliard scholarship, remaining hostile to men, raring to be friendless for life. But she’s equally convincing after her character’s conversion—tending a sick parent and unaffectedly sparkling with all the goodness a 17-year-old can muster. Coleman stands toe to toe with the other lead actors, while Hemsworth emotes especially in the intimate close shots as though there were no cameras around him. Lastly, Kinnear’s portrayal of the anguished father would have you believe he has in real life been through such an ordeal. Last Song has strong characters done justice by soulful performances. It is this synergy among Last Song’s lead players that makes the movie memorable.

There are scenes in Last Song that clearly show how far a father’s love can go to protect his daughter from harm: one of them is when Ronnie and Will are keeping vigil over the turtle eggs. A discovery late in the movie showing the reason the reclusive father passionately devotes himself to creating a centerpiece for the church also perfects his persona as a just man.

Last Song is a graphic demonstration of the damage divorce can do to children, and of the triumph of the human spirit in healing the wounds it inflicts upon the soul. It is not just about a pair of intelligent young persons falling in love, although it is an important ingredient in the story; Last Song is really about a father and a daughter split apart by divorce but gradually drawn back to each other through pain, repentance and forgiveness.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Bounty Hunter

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Gio Perez, Joel Garland; Director: Andy Tennant; Producer: Neal H. Moritz; Screenwriter: Sarah Thorp; Music: George Fenton; Editor: Troy Takaki; Genre: Romance: Cinematography: Oliver Bokelberg; Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 106 mins.;

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

Milo (Gerard Butler) is an ex-cop turned bounty hunter who spends his days chasing losers who skip bail and nights being a loser who gets too drunk to wake up the next day. Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) is a dedicated reporter chasing a high profile murder story. They have been married once and divorced after 9 months of irreconcilable differences and now passionately hate each other. Their paths cross when Milo is assigned to arrest his ex-wife after she fails to appear in court in order to pursue her story. Unfortunately, Nicole treads dangerous waters as she uncovers corruption and deception within the police and Milo gets into trouble with his gambling and creditors. The story moves on amidst the couple’s hatred, the bad guys chasing them, Nicole’s determination to get her story and Milo’s desire to get even with his wife for breaking his heart.

One word comes to mind after the first quarter of the movie ... predictable. Audience already know by that time that Milo and Nicole will try to outwit each other until they get back together, that the bad guys will be able to corner them but end up in jail and that the movie will try its best to be funny and memorable but fail to do so. The scoring is cute and choices of songs appropriately capture that comedy of each scene. The pacing is enhanced by vibrant camera works and quick editing. The performances are respectable with a good chemistry between Aniston and Butler. However, all these do not make up for the weak storyline and even weaker development. This might not be the best choice for a feel good romantic movie.

Marriages work only when couple are willing to accept each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings on the one hand, and are ready to admit their own faults and mistakes on the other. Walking out of the marriage is not the solution. Instead, couple should always have the desire and exert effort to work around the differences and focus on the love. Amidst, the chasing and the bickering, the movie wants the audience to realize that when love is real and true, it cannot be easily extinguished by personality clashes or distance. And if only husbands and wives become less self-absorbed and more humble, their love for each other will always prevail. The movie is better suited for older audiences because of its theme, language and some sexual innuendos. (PMF)

You To Me Are Everything

Cast: Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Jacklyn Jose, Isabel Oli; Director: Mark Reyes; Genre: Romance/ Comedy: Distributor: GMA Films; Location: Manila/ Benguet; Running Time: 100 mins;

Technical Assessment: 1.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Si Francisca o Iska (Marian Rivera) ay isang Igorota na nagbebenta ng strawberry jam. Magbabago ang takbo ng kanyang buhay nang malaman niyang siya’y pinamanahan ng malaking yaman, mga negosyo at ari-arian ng nasirang ama na hindi niya nakilala. Si Raphael (Dingdong Dantes) naman ay kabaligtaran ang kapalaran. Ang dati niyang yaman ay nawala lahat sa kanya nang makulong sa salang pangdarambong ang kanyang pulitikong ama. Sa isang kakatwang sitwasyon ay magtatagpo ang landas nila Iska at Raphael. Dahil baguhan sa kanyang mundo, maiisipan ni Iska na kunin ang serbisyo ni Raphael upang matulungan siya sa kanyang mga transaksiyon at mga magiging desisyon. Papayag naman si Raphael at maiisip niyang si Iska ang paraan upang maibalik sa dati ang marangya niyang buhay. Ngunit unti-unti ay mahuhulog ang loob nila sa isa’t-isa. Paano kung malaman ni Iska na ginagamit lamang siya ni Raphael?

Isang malaking pag-aaksaya ng panahon ang panonood ng pelikulang ito. Walang bago sa kuwento. Gasgas na at pawang makaluma lahat ng sitwasyon pati na ang dayalogo. Walang anumang aabangan sa kuwento sapagkat walang mabigat na problema ang mga pangunahing tauhan. Walang lalim at walang kurot sa puso. Ninanis man nitong mang-aliw at magpatawa, hindi pa rin naging epektibo dahil pawang pilit ang lahat ng ito. Maging ang pag-arte ng mga tauhan ay malamlam at walang bigat. Nasayang ang magandang chemistry nila Rivera at Dantes na nakapag-bigay naman ng mangilan-ngilang kilig. Sa kabuuan, walang anumang aspeto ang nagsalba sa pelikula. Maging ang magagandang tanawin ay hindi rin gaanong nabigyang halaga. Sayang at nakaka-angat na sana ang pelikulang Pilipino lalo na pagdating sa drama at komedya ngunit pawang nag-aksaya lamang ng pagod ang mga may-gawa ng You To Me Are Everything at wala silang nasa isip kundi ang kumita ng pera sa pelikulang ito. Maging yan, marahil ay nabigo sila dahil kuwento na ang hinahanap ng manonood at hindi lang basta mababaw na kilig.

Sinasadya man o hindi, naging mapanlait ang pelikula sa kabuuan. Mapanlait sa kultura at kalinangang Igorot na wala naman silang malinaw at malalim na basehan. Ipinakita nilang pawang mga mangmang at taga-bundok lamang ang mga kapatid nating ito. Hindi nabigyan ng katarungan hanggang sa katapusan ng kuwento ang paksang ito dahil ang karakter ni Iska ay sumuko at nagpaubaya na lamang. Nakakabahala ang kahinaang ito na ipinakita sa pelikula. Sa kabilang banda, nais namang sabihin ng pelikula na hindi ang yaman ang mahalaga sa buhay kundi pag-ibig. Maganda ang pagpapahalagang ito sapagkat sa mundo ngayon na naging malabis nang materyoso, nararapat pa ring ipaalala sa mga kabataan ang higit na mahahalaga sa buhay – ang pamilya at pag-ibig. Dalisay ang karakter ni Iska na hindi nasilaw at hindi binago ng salapi. Isang magandang halimbawa. Nanatili ring konserbatibo at positibo ang kanyang pananaw sa buhay sa kabila ng maraming tukso sa kanyang paligid.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Iron Man 2

Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel Jackson; Director: Jon Favreau; Producer: Kevin Feige; Screenwriter: Justin Theroux; Music: John Debney; Editor: Dan Lebental, Richard Pearson; Genre: Action: Cinematography: Matthew Libatique; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 120 mins.;

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

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) is having the time of his life. Six months after he revealed himself as Iron Man, this billionaire industrialist credits himself for what is known to be an era of world peace. Stark is focused on rebuilding his father's version of the World's Fair, the Stark Expo and everything seems to be going for him. However, the government pressures him to turn-over his Iron Man technology, and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a rival weapons venture capitalist, poses a big threat. Meanwhile, unknown to Stark, a Russian scientist, Ivan Vanko a.k.a. Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) is about to destroy him to avenge for an old family grudge. Hammer eventually collaborates with Vanko and finances his technology to further put down both Stark's business empire and Iron Man. Worse of all, Stark discovers the very technology that powers his heart and his Iron Man suit (the palladium, the substance inside the Ark Reactor) is slowly killing him.

This second franchise of a mega-blockbuster could be the most anticipated film of the year. Iron Man 2 has maintained its charm with Robert Downey, Jr. still in the lead. Downey delivers the Iron Man combination of wit and mischief. Audiences may have flocked the theaters for the film's special effects and fight scenes but the real treasure of the movie lies on the simple, talking scenes with the actors solidly interacting with crisp dialogue. Rockwell delivers a solid performance that almost overshadowed Downey's and Rourke's super villain's role comes out strong and believable. On one hand, some would find Iron Man 2 as a bit talky than the original but then, this sets the film apart from the other movies of the same genre. Although the plot of this second franchise is a lot busier and could be considered convoluted, the genius of the story about a mortal super hero is still there.

Iron Man 2 is about a super hero who has to deal with his own mortality. Unlike other super heroes whose power comes from supernatural forces, Iron Man relies on a man-made technology that celebrates the intelligence of humanity. Iron Man is the epitome of modern-day superhero that epitomizes a combination of super strength and human weakness. The irony of it all is that the very technology that made him super human is the same technology that confirms he is only human. Stark's self-destructive reaction to this realization could be a bit disturbing but the intention, which is to show his human side, is clear. It is also understandable that he questions his worth for he felt unloved and unappreciated by his father. Until he rediscovers how much his father actually loved and appreciated him, he is able to redeem himself once again. Thus, saving the entire world from the evil threats of greed and vengeance in the process. There may be some level of violence in the movie, although without blood and gore, so parents are advised to guide their children while watching.