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!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hating Kapatid

Cast: Judy Ann Santos, Sarah Geronimo, Luis Manzano, Vice Ganda, JC de Vera, Cherry Pie Picache, Ms. Gina Pareño; Director: Wenn Deramas; Screenwriter: Mel Mendoza-del Rosario; Genre: Drama/ Comedy; Distributor: Viva Films; Location: Philippines; Running Time: 110 min.;

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

Umalis ang mga magulang nina Rica (Judy Ann Santos) at Cecilia (Sarah Geronimo), noong sila’y mga bata pa upang maghanap-buhay sa ibang bansa. Naiwan sila sa kanilang lola (Gina Pareno) at sa loob ng halos 20 taon ay si Rica na ang tumayong ama at ina para kay Cecilia. Dahil sa isang aksidente noong bata pa si Cecilia, napilitan si Rica na isakripisyo ang kanyang buhay-pag-ibig. Itinuon na lamang niya ang buo niyang lakas sa pag-aalaga at pagbibigay proteksiyon sa kapatid habang wala ang kanilang mga magulang. Unti-unti’y napapalayo na ang loob ni Rica sa kanyang ina (Cherie Pie Picache) at ama (Tonton Gutierrez) dahil sa matagal nilang hindi pag-uwi sa bansa. Kaya’t nang makatapos si Cecilia sa kolehiyo at magbalik-bayan ang kanilang mga magulang ay matabang na ang pakikisama nito sa kanila. Si Cecilia naman ay masaya sa pagbabalik ng kanyang mga magulang at sa wakas ay buo na silang pamilya. Hindi ito magugustuhan ni Rica at magsisimula nang magkalamat ang relasyon nila ni Cecilia. Lalo pa itong lalala, nang malalaman ni Rica na may manliligaw (Luis Manzano) na ang kapatid.

Marami sanang magandang nais sabihin ang Hating Kapatid patungkol sa pamilya at relasyon ngunit pawang napako ang mga ito sa lantarang kakulangan ng sinseridad ng pelikula sa kabuuan. Gaano man kahusay ang mga talinong nasa likod nito, pati na ang mga di matatawarang galing ng mga aktor, semplang pa rin ang pelikula dahil sa walang pakundangan nitong komersiyalismo na labis na naka-agaw ng pansin sa daloy ng kuwento. Masyadong ginamit ang pelikula upang maisulong ang interes ng mga kalakal at serbisyong ine-endorso na ng mga artista. Tuloy, pawang naglaho ang mga tauhan at pawang mga artista na lamang ang napapanood sa isang pinalawak na patalastas sa telebisyon. Kakatwa rin sa maraming pagkakataon na ang mga patawa, kung hindi luma, ay kapos naman sa hagod o sobrang bagal ng pagkaka-bitaw. Nawawala tuloy ang dapat sana’y magandang epekto sa manonood. Hindi rin nabigyan ng pansin ang paghagod sa karakter, emosyon at kuwento. Pawang minadali ang lahat. Sayang ang manaka-nakang aliw sa mga eksena, pati na rin ang ilang eksenang may kurot sa puso na maari sana'y napalawig pa.

Sa kabila ng mga kakulangang teknikal, hitik sa mensahe ng pagmamahal at pagpapahalaga sa pamilya ang Hating Kapatid. Sinasalamin nito ang maraming pamilyang napipilitang mabuhay nang magkakahiwalay dala ng matinding pangangailangan na mangibang-bayan. Totoo ang sakripisyo ng mga magulang na umaalis mabigyan lamang ng magandang kinabukasan ang mga anak. Kaakibat din nito ang maraming suliraning dala ng paghihiwa-hiwalay. Nariyang malayo ang loob ng mga anak sa magulang dahil sa tagal ng panahong hindi pagkikita. Hindi nga naman mapupunan ng anumang materyal na bagay ang init ng presensya at pagiging nariyan para sa mga anak sa oras ng pangangailangan. Sinubukan namang punuan ng mga magulang ni Rica ang mga pagkukulang na ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtawag sa telepono at paggamit sa makabagong teknolohiya, ngunit sadyang di pa rin sapat. Sa bandang huli’y nagsubok naman ang mga magulang niyang bumawi sa kanilang pagbabalik. Nakakabahala nga lang ang malabis na poot na naitanim ni Rica sa kanyang mga magulang na wala namang hinangad na hindi maganda para sa kanilang magkapatid. Kahanga-hanga naman ang ipinakitang pagmamahalan ng magkapatid sa pelikula. Pati ang aral na ang tao, gaano mo man kahusay alagaan, ay hindi mo kailanman magiging pag-aari. At ang pagmamahal ay ibinabahagi at hindi sinasarili. May mangi-ngilan nga lang na patawang eksena sa pelikula na maaring maka-sakit sa damdamin ng ilan tulad na lamang nang gawing katawa-tawa ang isang matanda. Pati na rin ang pag-iingat sa paggamit ng mga paputok ay dapat na mabigyang-pansin. Kaya nararapat pa ring gabayan ang mga batang manonood na 13 gulang pababa.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice


Cast: Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell; Director: John Turtletaub; Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Screenwriters: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal; Music: Trevor Rabin; Editor: William Goldenberg; Genre: Fiction/Fantasy, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Drama, Kids/Family; Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli; Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Location: New York, USA; Running Time: 111 min.;

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

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opens with a flashback to the Middle Ages, when wizard Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage), a pupil of Merlin, the legendary medieval wizard, has been tasked to watch for the emergence of the prophesied successor of Merlin Year 2000, grade schooler Dave Stutler (Jake Cherry) accidentally discovers a store called Arcana Cabana, which is actually more of a museum housing the sorcerer Balthazar’s treasures. The treasures Balthazar guards in Arcana Cabana include a matrioshka (Russian nesting doll) imprisoning another medieval sorcerer, Maxim Horveth (Alfred Molina), Balthazar’s contemporary as pupil of Merlin who had flipped over to black sorcery. Subjecting the 9-year old Dave to a test, Balthazar discovers the boy is the person he has been looking for through the centuries. However, the boy is scared and incredulous, especially when his story about his encounter with Balthazar is seen as hallucination by people who hear of it. Year 2010, 19-year-old Dave (Jay Baruchel) is now a socially-awkward physics geek at New York University and his humdrum existence is about to be punctuated by his encounter with the evil Maxim who has been newly freed from his doll-prison and is doggedly after the magical ring in Dave’s possession.
Like movies of this genre, director Jon Turtletaub’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is meant to be a fantasy-adventure. It will be compared—perhaps unfairly and unfavorably—to a Harry Potter movie, but this doesn’t mean it can’t stand on its own. Due to the proliferation of such magic-driven flicks, the viewer can’t help but recognize in this movie elements from other kindred-creations, particularly in the display of sorcerous powers. Because it has its own fantastic story to tell (authored by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Matt Lopez), advanced by CGI and special effects, it has enough energy and splash to entertain the audience, mostly the young ones. Happily, the script (by screenwriters Matt Lopez, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard) is devoid of vulgar language albeit slightly tinged with toilet humor. Molina’s villain is the kind audiences love to hate, while Cage is a surprise, a departure from his usually morose characters, he is quite lighthearted here and smiles a lot in spite of his bad hairpiece.
Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, with all its bloodless stylized violence, is inoffensive enough for pre-teens, but parents and educators guiding young viewers should arm themselves with convincing explanations in case the latter ask about the probability of people being imprisoned in dolls and coming back to life after centuries. The movie’s hero is a young person, so expect young people to resonate with it, and maybe affirm its values without question, so do be forewarned. Older teen and other viewers will benefit from discussions on the topics of power, destiny, and sexual attraction as portrayed in the movie. (Note that school kids here are shown attracted to the opposite sex at age 9). Perhaps one exercise would be to ask “What would you do if you had Dave’s powers and you are asked to save the world?” While CINEMA may give this movie PG 13 rating, parents are advised to bring only older children as some of the scenes might prove too scary for very young children.--TRT

Predators

Cast: Adriene Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov; Director: Nimrod Antal; Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis, Robert Rodriguez; Screenwrites: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch; Music: John Debney; Editor: Dan Zimmerman; Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi; Cinematography: Gyula Pados; Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Location: USA; Running Time: 107 min.;

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

One by one, they drop down from the sky and into the jungle, giving the impression that they are all part of a parachuting outing gone wrong. Are they trainees in a jungle survival exercise? It seems no, because each of them is ready to kill man or beast in order to save his own neck. Soon they learn that they are all killers. They are Royce (Adriend Brody), a dyed to the wool mercenary; Isabelle (Alice Braga), an Israeli army sniper; Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), an Hispanic drug-gang enforcer; Stans (Walter Goggins), a death-row convict; Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Russian Special Forces operative; an African warlord (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali); a Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien); and Edwin (Topher Grace), a mild-mannered doctor who’s the only one among them who is not a killer. With survival as their main concern, they realize it’s much better to have bad company than to be alone in such a menacing environment. And later, they discover they are on another planet, and while the vegetation closely resembles Earth’s, the animals are an entirely different matter. The truth soon dawns on them: they have been brought there in order to be hunted for sport by unknown predators.
The main hitch about attack movies such as Predators is its predictability. You are sure the lead characters will in the end prevail over their predators, so that the suspense is in guessing the order in which the others will be eliminated. Punctuating the rather slow first half hour of Predators are escapes from booby traps and metallic monsters that look like warthogs. By the middle of the movie the tension stems from the identity of the invisible hunters: who are they, and what do they want from the humans? The casting is good, lending credibility to each character; and the actors prove their respectability by giving serious performance despite the implausible plot. The steamy jungle and its strange creatures keep audience attention level high, while cinematography blends well with CGI.
Predators offers many opportunities for mixed group discussions on ethics and life values. One question to throw would be “Would you kill people for a living?” It could also tease minds by asking “Why is it that the only one who seems to have a conscience in the movie is the woman? Are women more moral than men?” Science teachers should also enlighten their students about a breathtaking scene where the planet is surrounded by four moons too big and too close to be real: remember this is science fiction. Those with queasy stomachs and delicate ears are warned: bodies are impaled and guts spill out in this movie; obscenities and other unprintable words are uttered as well. Remember these characters are mercenaries, not diplomats.--TRT

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Last Airbender

ASSESSMENT ONLY
Cast: Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Toub; Director: M. Night Shyamalan; Producers: Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer, M. Night Shyamalan; Screenwriter: M. Bight Shyamanalan; Music: James Newton Howard; Editor: Conrad Buff IV; Genre: Action/ Adventure; Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 103 mins.;

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

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series, the live-action feature film is set in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Water, Earth, Air and Fire (www.Rottentomatoes.com)

The four nations used to live in harmony until the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang teams with Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), to restore balance to their war-torn world.

OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF THE FILM: Very good visual effects but poor development of plot and shallow dialogue.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inception

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cilaian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas; Director: Christopher Nolan; Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas; Screenwriter: Christopher Nolan; Music: Hans Zimmer; Editor: Lee Smith; Genre: Suspense-Sci-Fi, Drama; Cinematography: Wally Pfister; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Location: US; Running Time: 148 minutes;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a team of spies/ thieves who illegally and unethically extracts the most treasured secrets of a person through intruding into their dreams using sophisticated technology. This and some details of his past, involving a dark secret about his deceased wife (Marion Cottilard), has made him a fugitive, and unable to return home to his two young children for quite a long while. So when an influential Japanese business magnate, Saito (Ken Watanabe), offers him to clean his legal records in exchange for a dangerous, nearly impossible mission, Cobb accepts. Instead of extracting, Cobb's mission would be “inception” - that is, he would plant an idea into the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), heir to a rival business which threatens Saito's empire. To be able to do this, Cobb and his team must intrude into Fischer's subconscious that lies in the deepest of his dreams. However, Cobb's professionalism is always hindered by his personal inability to control his own distracting -subconscious brought about by his dark past.

Inception is an out-of-the box spectacle that is able to exploit the limitless possibilities of visual storytelling. The premise dwells on a subject matter usually thought of as implausible for the cinema arts. At the onset, the audience is predisposed with another sci-fi flick but it turns out that Inception is more than that. There's a lot of genius at work in the story that borders in the absurd and the insane but the writer-director, Christopher Nolan, is able to synchronize all the plot elements in a cohesive whole. Things happen so fast in the film though, stories and complications of various layers pile up simultaneously which tend to make the audience breathless and sometimes, at a lost if they are unable to keep up with the film's rapid pace. DiCaprio and the rest of the cast are at their best. They make a tremendous ensemble given the demands of the film's convoluted plots, subplots and more subplots. For having pulled-off such a ridiculous, ambitious concept into a seamless, memorable cinematic experience, the Inception is more than exceptional. It is phenomenal.

In today's technological advancement and domination, everything seems possible. Eversince people have allowed technology to enter into their private spaces, they have already subjected themselves into public scrutiny. In Inception, even one's subconscious can no longer be a secret. Much worse, one's deepest secret can now be extracted and stolen just like everything else. In effect, everything is commodified. Hacking and piracy is no longer limited to ideas, computers and copyrights --- it now extends to one's secrets, even those that lie in the deepest parts of their dreams and subconscious. It is now a dangerous world indeed. There's no question that Cobb's business is illegal and unethical. Their skills and genius went a little too far and they are all aware of it. The film, with all its spectacular technical magnificence, manages to consistently put into play the rudiments of Cobb's emotional and psychological turmoil with the kind of life and livelihood he has chosen. That in itself is punishment enough. No one would ever aspire for a life filled with guilt and resentments. In the blurring of lines between fantasy and reality, there's still nothing worse than to be left in a limbo where love and meaningful relationships do not exist. Inception would make the audience look at dreams and realities in a different light. However, some scenes of violence, themes of suicide, and vulgar language (although in context) may not be suitable for viewers below 14 years of age.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Street Dance 3D

Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Patrick Baladi, Nichola Burley, Chris Wilson, Eleanor Bron; Directors: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini; Producers: Allan Niblo, James Richardson; Screenwriter: Jane English; Editor: Tim Murrell; Genre: Drama/ Dance: Cinematography: Sam McCurdy; Distributor: Viva International Pictures; Location: UK; Running Time: 98 mins;

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

Street Dance 3D features winners from the reality show Britain’s Got Talent and heavily borrows themes from previous dance movies: competition, fusion of styles and determination. The movie begins with Carly faced with putting together her dance crew after Jay, the leader and her boyfriend, announces that he is leaving. The crew also loses their rehearsal space and is to find alternative spaces which at times prove to be insufficient. The crew dreams of winning a dance off finals and make it to New York but things look impossible without an appropriate rehearsal space. Fortunately, Carly meets Helena, a ballet instructor running her own studio with a lot of talented but passionless dancers, in one of her deliveries. She manages to invite Helena to her crew's rehearsal. Helena is impressed with the group's vibrance and offers Carly free use of the ballet studio on condition that Carly would teachstreet dance to the ballet students. The task is difficult at first as the two dance disciplines clash with each other but in the end, the ballerinas and the street dancers become friends and come up with a unique dance choreography. The plot thickens as Carly falls for Thomas, one of the ballet students, while Jay tries to get back to her.

Very seldom do we see a dance movie with a serious plot other than trying to win in a competition or pass an audition. Street Dance is not different. You’ve seen the storyline once too often that at the very first dance sequence, you already know the last one. The performances are a little too flat – a common dilemma in trying to cast real non-acting dancers. The dance disciplines are a bit type-casted. Ballet need not be stiff and snooty and street dance need not be carefree and crude. The choreography is good and entertaining but nothing really memorable that will be a signature move in the years to follow. However, Street Dance has one trick up its sleeves – the use of 3D technology. With a lot of stop-motions, intricate leaps and footwork and powerful music, the movie is very entertaining and enjoyable.

There are two important lessons one can pick up from the movie. One is determination to succeed. In life, we always have a competition to win and a goal to accomplish. The movie reminds us that along the way to success are heartaches and challenges and we need not only a strong character but also resourcefulness and flexibility. There are times you have to work with people or circumstances that are completely the opposite of what you are used to. And learning to deal with such adversities strengthens your person and improves your creativity. Another lesson deals with unity as a fruit of respect and acceptance. People need to acknowledge the beauty and brilliance of another no matter how good he or she may be in one area. Learning to do so opens people up to cooperation and collaboration, thus leading to more refined and profound output.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Xavier Samuel; Director: David Slade; Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Karen Rosenfelt; Screenwriters: Stephanie Meyer, Melissa Rosenberg; Music: Howard Shore; Editor: Art Jones, Nancy Richardson; Genre: Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller; Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe; Distributor: Summit Entertainment; Location: Vancouver, Canada; Running Time: 124 mins;

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

The message of Eclipse
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Jacob is hot about Bella, Bella is hot about Edward, Edward is keeping his cool until he marries Bella. Champions of chastity should know how to use the movie to advance their cause.

SYNOPSIS. The police are perplexed by inexplicable disappearance of otherwise ordinary and peaceful citizens from several counties around Forks, Washington. They suspect that these people have been attacked by wolves. The truth is they’re being “recruited”. The redhead vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her new vampire-lover Riley (Xavier Samuel) are creating an army of “newborns”—freshly bitten humans-turned-vampires—by abducting and ambushing these mortals and sinking their fangs into their victims’ necks. Victoria wants to wipe out the Cullens and the mortal teenager Bella (Kristen Stewart) to avenge the death of her true love James. Newborns are supposedly much stronger than vampires who’ve been around for decades, thus the Cullens admit that even in number alone they are no match against the plasma-thirsty newborns. Bella’s sweetheart Edward (Robert Pattinson) and her admirer Jacob (Taylor Lautner) are left with no choice but to make a truce and combine forces to protect Bella from Victoria and her neophyte but plasma-hungry recruits.

REVIEW. Now it’s not just vampires against werewolves. It’s bad vampires against good vampires collaborating with werewolves while the inscrutable Volturi, the vampires’ ruling council, watch from the bleachers. Interesting? You bet.

The action is Eclipse’s edge over the first two movie versions of Stephanie Meyer’s saga, Twilight and New Moon. With no mean thanks to CGI (computer generated images) wolves the size of well-fed lions battle lightning-quick vampires—that’s a novelty, but there are way too many swish-pan shots and quick cuts to close ups for the viewer to clearly see how the fight progresses. You see who survives the encounter but how it happens is left to your imagination; after the initial collision between werewolf and vampire, you just see one or the other dead. (Jackie Chan offers infinitely better choreography!)

Vampire to vampire combat, however, isn’t that bad; action is sustained until one emerges as victor. One thing about this movie: the carnage is bloodless. When a werewolf is killed, you just see a dead animal, period—a slaughterhouse is definitely bloodier. Even when a vampire is decapitated, no blood flows out of the wound—just crushed ice, like that which spills out of your freezer when you clumsily empty it. (That can’t be said of Ninja movies where blood flows like a leaking fire hydrant.)

So, if only for the stylized and bloodless violence, maybe some would rate Eclipse like a cartoon—funny enough for young children—but if you examine the primary storyline, perhaps you might see it’s dangerous for teenagers. And immature adults.

The story, plain and simple, is a dime-a-dozen romance involving two males and a female. But the Meyer mythos lends the love-triangle a different coloration—one male is a vampire, the other is a werewolf and since according to the novelist vampires and werewolves are by instinct (im)mortal enemies, the rivalry between the two over the human female consequently offers more dynamic interaction than if all three belonged to species homo sapiens.

Minus the vampire-werewolf backdrop, Eclipse is but a story of lust—suppressed and unrequited lust. Putting it nicely in teen lingo, Jacob is hot about Bella, Bella is hot about Edward, Edward is keeping his cool until he marries Bella. One male teenage viewer coming out of the theater was overheard, “Puro Bella, Bella, Bella, nakaka-irita!” (It’s all about Bella, it’s irritating!) But that can’t be helped, considering that novelist Meyer’s intention is really to focus on chastity—and what better way to make chastity shine than to set it deep against a swirling mass of dark, overpowering emotions?

Bella is a self-absorbed teen-ager searching for her identity, a virgin who has fallen in love with a vampire and wants to give herself totally to him, now. But Edward is pat on his principles so he tells Bella: marry me first. Gripped by incomprehensible passions, she rejects Edward’s stand as “ancient” but hangs on to him anyway, while remaining ambivalent about Jacob, her muscular, shirtless admirer. She says she’s in love with Edward but wouldn’t let go Jacob—what a tease. Bella may be in love with Edward, but she’s also in love with the idea of being in love with a vampire, and is beguiled by the prospect of being forever 18.

What Bella doesn’t seem to realize—let alone be willing to admit—is that it is lust controlling her this time. She keeps Jacob around to boost her ego which is repeatedly bruised by Edward’s constant refusal to yield to her sexual availability. When Bella kisses Jacob in plain view of Edward, she probably has in mind, “Look, Eddie Boy, if you don’t want me, somebody else badly does!” When Edward says, “You love him (Jacob)”, and she answers “I love you more”, she could be thinking, “Yeah, Jake’s got gorgeous pecs, but yours glisten in the sun!” So, what is Bella really after?

Jacob is after Bella—has always been since Twilight, through New Moon—though it’s doubtful whether he wants Bella for her own good. Cocksure about Bella’s covert feelings for him, he’s much too wrapped up in his desires to even begin to know what Bella really wants. His consistent sales pitch to Bella is You’re-a-fool-for-wanting-him-when-I’m-better-for-you, uttered in various versions but almost always with a wolfish growl. Jacob’s smugness borders on the ridiculous when he says to Edward, “I’m hotter than you!” Yeah, we know it’s because werewolves are supposed to be warm-blooded while vampires are made of ice inside, but, Attention, please!—his close-up shot here reveals Lautner really meant it for Pattinson, not for Edward. Hot and hotter—such is the name of the showbiz game.

If Meyer’s point in her saga is upholding chastity, she uses the century-old vampire Edward to advance her cause. His decisions and actions show it, and his lines are unequivocal. Edward, despite multiple graduations from high school through the decades, still ticks with the mores of his times—when a man courted a woman, asked her father for her hand in marriage, and kept the fire in his loins under control until the wedding night. Of the three characters in the love triangle, Edward is the one who loves most selflessly, putting the welfare of his beloved above his own. As Jacob is to realize in time, Edward is a gentleman’s gentleman, willing to let Bella go should she opt to be with another man.

Before you decide whether to align yourself with Team Edward or Team Jacob, remember it’s only a movie. Engaging though it is, like a telenovela to many people, this vampiric business is still fiction. At the rate Eclipse is drawing crowds (eight out of 12 movie theaters in a popular mall is showing Eclipse, with the 2D version selling tickets at 400 pesos each), a reality check is in order. To prevent yourselves from getting carried away by this Gothic romance, ponder these silly concerns:

--If vampires are made of ice inside, does it follow that whatever they eat become frozen in there?
--If these bloodsuckers don’t bleed, what has happened to all that blood they’ve swallowed for eons?
--If vampires and werewolves can come to a truce for the sake of a loved one, does this mean there’s hope for the war freaks of our world?
--Since vampires claim being a vampire is a curse they don’t want, then why do they still defend themselves when attacked? Why not just allow themselves to be killed? Or is suicide a no-no for vampires?
--On what day of creation did God create vampires and werewolves?
--Is this movie safe for young children? Answer: Parents who let their 3-year-old watch Twilight on DVD with them were aghast when guests asked the child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and the kid gleefully replied, “I wanna be a vampire!”

Eclipse offers much to discuss at home or in school; church workers, take note. Fiction though it is, the fact that young people are trooping to the theaters to watch Eclipse means they resonate somehow with the movie’s content. They may identify with the characters, or recognize their own demons in the tug-of-war between the characters.

The tug-of-war is not between Jacob and Edward, but between Bella and Edward (lust and chastity), between Bella and herself (to want or to wait), and between the two brats Bella and Jacob—(I want what I want now!). The message in Eclipse is, really, “True love waits.” It is Edward’s stand. Isn’t it ironic that it should come from a vampire? Young people pay over and over again to hear that message—if champions of chastity see that as the factor behind Robert Pattinson’s instant stardom, they should know how to use it to advance their cause. Bella may have said Edward’s spiel for chastity is “ancient” without realizing she spoke the truth. The virtue is “ancient” because it has survived generations of vice; and it has survived because deep within the human heart, chastity is the desire of all ages.

(The author is Founding Board Member of the CBCP/CINEMA)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Predators

Cast: Adriene Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov; Director: Nimrod Antal; Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, John Davis, Robert Rodriguez; Screenwrites: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch; Music: John Debney; Editor: Dan Zimmerman; Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi; Cinematography: Gyula Pados; Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Location: USA; Running Time: 107 min.;

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

One by one, they drop down from the sky and into the jungle, giving the impression that they are all part of a parachuting outing gone wrong. Are they trainees in a jungle survival exercise? It seems no, because each of them is ready to kill man or beast in order to save his own neck. Soon they learn that they are all killers. They are Royce (Adriend Brody), a dyed to the wool mercenary; Isabelle (Alice Braga), an Israeli army sniper; Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), an Hispanic drug-gang enforcer; Stans (Walter Goggins), a death-row convict; Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Russian Special Forces operative; an African warlord (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali); a Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien); and Edwin (Topher Grace), a mild-mannered doctor who’s the only one among them who is not a killer. With survival as their main concern, they realize it’s much better to have bad company than to be alone in such a menacing environment. And later, they discover they are on another planet, and while the vegetation closely resembles Earth’s, the animals are an entirely different matter. The truth soon dawns on them: they have been brought there in order to be hunted for sport by unknown predators.

The main hitch about attack movies such as Predators is its predictability. You are sure the lead characters will in the end prevail over their predators, so that the suspense is in guessing the order in which the others will be eliminated. Punctuating the rather slow first half hour of Predators are escapes from booby traps and metallic monsters that look like warthogs. By the middle of the movie the tension stems from the identity of the invisible hunters: who are they, and what do they want from the humans? The casting is good, lending credibility to each character; and the actors prove their respectability by giving serious performance despite the implausible plot. The steamy jungle and its strange creatures keep audience attention level high, while cinematography blends well with CGI.

Predators offers many opportunities for mixed group discussions on ethics and life values. One question to throw would be “Would you kill people for a living?” It could also tease minds by asking “Why is it that the only one who seems to have a conscience in the movie is the woman? Are women more moral than men?” Science teachers should also enlighten their students about a breathtaking scene where the planet is surrounded by four moons too big and too close to be real: remember this is science fiction. Those with queasy stomachs and delicate ears are warned: bodies are impaled and guts spill out in this movie; obscenities and other unprintable words are uttered as well. Remember these characters are mercenaries, not diplomats.