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!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never


CAST: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris; DIRECTOR: Jon Chu; GENRE: Documentary, Musical; RUNNING TIME: 105 min.

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


Never Say Never traces the career of teen idol Justin Bieber from the time his mother Pattie Mallette posted home videos of Justin singing pop songs to YouTube for family members to see—to the moment the 16-year-old performed at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York. Through juxtaposition of family video clips and professional performances, both starring Bieber, a story emerges about an ordinary but musically precocious boy from a small Canadian town 150 kilometers west of Toronto. He was cute as a baby, and is still cute now as a as a singing sensation.

If Never Say Never were crafted like a usual fictional movie or literary work, its climax would be when the singer contracts an infected throat, threatening his scheduled performances, and its denouement would be when he gets over the sore throat and finally sends his fans screaming during the show that was reportedly sold out in 22 minutes.

So, is Never Say Never, directed by Jon Chu, a documentary, a bio-flick, a concert movie, or a publicist’s opus? A little of each, perhaps, having been crafted together out of the devotion of Bieber’s family, the adoration of his fans, the enthusiasm of his coaches and the enterprise of his managers.

We see videos of the toddler Justin displaying his drum-tapping genius on any surface he can get his hands on. We discover he’s a lefty when he’s shown as a little boy strumming a guitar. We hear his husky-for-his-age voice as he busks at a downtown sidewalk. And we view snapshots of this wide-eyed baby as though leafing through a family friend’s photo album.

When the camera is not on Bieber, it’s focused on his mother and grandparents being interviewed, his childhood playmates, his voice coach “Mama Jan”, his bodyguard Ryan Good, his manager Scooter Braun, and even (as in a cameo role) his estranged father who shows up at a performance.

There are tour-bus antics spliced in, glimpses of backstage goings on, clips of Bieber adeptly styling his now world-famous hair, off-stage moments of hugging and horseplay with family and friends, vocalization sessions, rehearsals, team prayers, encounters with fans and other scenes apparently calculated to project a more endearing guy-next-door image for “Bieber Beliebers.”

The outcome is not quite a movie, strictly speaking; instead it’s more like a victory parade winding through but three years of an internet-launched career. Bieber is a winner, and this movie is a celebration of his triumph over ordinariness. Also participating in this parade are young stars Miley Cyrus and Jaden Smith singing and dancing with Bieber in the highlights of the 86-show arena tour. Watching Never Say Never is like seeing the best of 86 Bieber shows for the price of a movie ticket.
As a film, Never Say Never is entertaining—even inspiring, in fact, particularly for his target audience of preteens, young tweeners (age 10-15) and 3rd millennium teenyboppers—but it does not break ground. Nonetheless, it is expected to rake in more millions as it has already reportedly exceeded the earnings of Michael Jackson’s This Is It in two months.

Watching Never Say Never, you might wonder what it is about this blond mophead that sends girls shrieking and weeping and gasping “Omigod!” at his appearance? Nothing like that seen since the Beatles, but the British mopheads were four in all. Bieber’s music is… well, it’s for his target audience, not for music afficionados; and his dance routine won’t take your breath away. It’s a relief, however, that aside from a bit of fireworks, director Chu is careful not to overshadow Bieber’s music with mise-en-scene or smother the boy’s considerable talent with theatrics.

So what’s so hot about Justin Bieber? Why do girls go ga-ga over him, doing silly things like brandishing placards that say “Marry me!” and “I’ll be his wife”? We can only guess: his boyish features and behavior which project innocence could be one reason; another is his passion for his music which suggests he has no time for hanky-panky and which challenges them all the more. There is also a playful air about him that syncs perfectly with his non-threatening physique: Bieber is 5’4” tall, weighs 108 lbs, wear XS shirts, size 27 pants and size 7 shoes—rather petite for a 17-year old Caucasian male, the more to invite cuddling and babying from adoring females.

He’s the squeaky-clean boy next door, obedient to elders, respectful to everyone, honestly cares for fans and entertains them without having to…uh…stroke his crotch.

This could owe to the fact that he has been raised by a mother who speaks about God as though He were part of the family, and grandparents whose nurturing presence has more than made up for the absence of his own father since he was an infant. The Christian home environment is duplicated in his workplace where prayer and offering of self and actions to God is de rigueur before each performance. All the signs say Bieber is a good boy.

But is Justin Bieber really as pure as the driven snow as Never Say Never would have audiences believe? Grandmothers who in yesteryears swooned over Elvis Presley, grandfathers who coveted Frank Sinatra’s voice, parents who grew up with The Carpenters may not be able to resonate with Bieber’s Eenie Meenie or Baby but they surely see Bieber’s menu as a healthy alternative to what other teen stars are dishing out to their children and grandchildren.

How long Bieber will reign supreme, or stay relatively uncorrupted, nobody knows. He is fortunate to have been born in the cyber era when it’s so easy for anyone with even a modicum of talent to be discovered and catapulted to fame at the click of a mouse. But fortune is a two sided coin. The problem is not getting to the top, but staying on top, and not just at the top of the sales charts, but on top of the traps waiting to ensnare one who tastes fame and fortune too much too soon.

The influences around Bieber are an interesting, combustible mix. In the first circle there is his mother and his grandparents forming a protective mantle of love around him; next there are his business partners, his growing, strengthening second family who will inevitably have a say on his future. Among them is Bieber’s idol and mentor, Usher, under whose label Bieber sings and who is known for his songs that exalt raw sex. Add to these influences the sway of his fans some of whom blatantly worship him like a god.

Will Justin Bieber eventually retire as a small town gospel singer or will he be packaged as a Junior Usher until the next YouTube sensation comes along? Will his star burn out before he’s 21 or will he walk with head held high until he finds his inner hero? That’s the beauty of Never Say Never—as long as you view it as a mere part of a process, a transition from boyhood to manhood, the metamorphosis of a human being—you’re free to write your own ending to it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rango


CAST: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, Ned Beatty, Stephen Root; DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski; WRITERS: John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Byrkit; GENRE: Animation, Action/Adventure; RUNNING TIME: 107 min.

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


A road accident throws a caged pet chameleon off its master’s car, leaving the dazed creature alone to fend for himself in the Mojave desert. Yes it’s a male. As he is later to name himself, Rango (Johnny Depp) loves to spin tales of his own greatness as he craves social interaction. Life can be lonely for a domesticated lizard, after all, and he needs to survive in this treeless jungle he’s thrust in. If Rango could have his way, he would be an actor, and so Fate lets him blend into the scenery. He finds himself in a town called “Dirt”, populated by desert animals badly needing a bath and a hero. With luck on his side—and the chameleon’s natural gift of taking on the color of its environment—Rango causes the death of the dreaded predatory bird, then he is hailed as Dirt’s sheriff.

Rango is a delightful western with cartooned desert creatures as lead characters. The main element in this animated western is the mysterious stranger turned savior and protector of the terrified townsfolk in an outpost in the middle of nowhere. This movie actually pays homage to classics (such as High Noon and Blazing Saddles) is appealing to adults especially those who love westerns, spaghetti or authentic. However, it could be boring or scary to young children who will certainly miss the innuendoes and allusions to Hollywood cowboy heroes. Depp pairs up anew with Gore Verbinski who directed him in three of the Pirates of the Caribbean series; their team up works, not only because Depp, known for his madhatter roles, suits the crazy lizard’s character to a T, but also because the director has the versatility to handle both action and animation with finesse. Add to that the vividness of the animation drawings and you have a virtually striking opus that gives viewing pleasure minus the cumbersome platic 3D glasses.

Families will enjoy this tale of the accidental hero. What the kids will enjoy, let them enjoy; what they won’t understand, they will not miss. But adults of all ages will have something refreshing to pick up from the movie.

Limitless


CAST: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth; DIRECTOR: Neil Burger; SCREENPLAY: Leslie Dixon; CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jo Willems; EDITOR: Naomi Geraghty; MUSIC: Paul Leonard Morgan and Nico Muhly; PRODUCERS: Leslie Dixon, Scott Kroopf, and Ryan Kavanaugh; EXECUTIVE PRODUDER: Tucker Tooley; PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Patrizia Von Brandenstein; GENRE: Action thriller; RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above


Struggling writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is at a low point of his life --- career, relationship and finances, when he accidentally meets his former brother-in-law Vernon ((Johnny Whitworth) while walking in the street. Realizing his present state during a brief catch up, Vernon offers Morra a mind-stimulating pill called NZT that allows him to access 100 percent brain intelligence function and enables him to step up in his life. Cynical at the beginning, but on discovery of immediate amazing effect on his first try, he knows what to do next. He asks Vernon to give him more pills. But before Morra gets his share, Vernon is murdered. Morra manages to find a bag of pills. As expected, he suddenly gains back the lost glory as a writer, his girlfriend, and the liberty to enjoy the benefits of overflowing knowledge. His services become in demand in the business community where he had the opportunity to work with a business wallstreet tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro).

The film "Limitless" has an interesting plot to start with. However, as the story builds up, it somehow struggles to sustain the interesting momentum. The scenes become predictable and has the tendency to prolong unnecessarily. The chasing scenes, for example, are not clearly established whether there is paranoia, real life and death situation, or just obsessions to the pills. For any reason, why death scenes have to be very violent. The director may also have overestimated the use of voice over for this film, because often the narration causes destruction. It already has a good casting coup that fits the requirements of the characters in the film. Acting wise, both Cooper and De Niro did well in their respective roles. If not of the good special effects, the film can be dragging at some points. Lighting is good and it helps in establishing emotions as required by the scenes. The cinematography is well complimented by special effects. Overall, the film goes with good technical qualities.

The film shows that accessing 100 percent utilization of brain function can bring amazing effects to the person, the economy and society in general. The problem is, the film disregards the natural process for it and instead promotes cheating and so called "instant" culture. It is simply drug addiction that is harmful to the body. The film shows how it makes people greed for instant success, money, fame, and power. The main technology is the human mind that people can use to bring out their full potentials with due respects to natural process. But the film ends with an alarming conclusion that it is okay to continue with an experimental drug for as long as it is taken "responsibly" with a right dosage and for a good purpose. The film also shows that sex is an easy trade off for a service of 'smart' person. The death scenes are too violent and absurd (such as sipping human blood). The film requires a mature audience who can understand the whole saga of this wonder drug and the accompanying circumstances.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles


CAST: Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michelle Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña, Ramon Rodriguez, Will Rothhaar, Cory Hardrict, Jim Parrack, Gino Anthony Pesi; DIRECTOR: Jonathan Liebesman; SCREENWRITER: Christopher Bertolini; MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Bryan Tyler; GENRE: War/Action/Fiction; LOCATION: USA; RUNNING TIME: 116 min.

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above


SYNOPSIS: For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world – Buenos Aires, Seoul, France, Germany,... China. But in 2011, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces. As people everywhere watch the world's great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. It's up to a Marine staff sergeant and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they've ever encountered before.

Mars Needs Moms


CAST: Seth Green, Dan Folgi, Joan Cusack, Elisabeth Harnois, Mindy Sterling, Julene Renee, Ryan Ochoa, Jacquie Barnbrook, Matthew Wolf, Raymond Ochoa; DIRECTOR: Simon Wells; SCREENWRITER: Simon Wells, Wendy Wells, Berkeley Breathed; PRODUCER: Robert Zemeckis, Steven J. Boyd; GENRE: Action & Adventure, Animation, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy; DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Pictures; RUNNING TIME: 88 min.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 13 and below with parental guidance


SYNOPSIS: Take out the trash; eat your broccoli -- who needs moms, anyway? Nine-year-old Milo finds out just how much he needs... his mom when she's nabbed by Martians who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. "Mars Needs Moms" showcases Milo's quest to save his mom -- a wild adventure that involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet and taking on the alien nation and their leader. With the help of a tech-savvy, underground earthman named Gribble and a rebel Martian girl called Ki, Milo just might find his way back to his mom -- in more ways than one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Riding Hood


CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas,Shiloh Fernandez, Michael Shanks, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen, Max Irons, Darren Shahlavi; DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke; GENRE: Drama; RUNNING TIME: 100 min.

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: Viewers 14 and above


Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is in love with the brooding but passionate Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) but her parents want her to marry nice village boy Henry instead to help the family financially. Neither man is bad looking, and Valerie who likes Henry but is more attracted to Peter, agrees to elope with Peter. But their situation gets more complicated when Valerie’s sister is killed by a werewolf that strikes every full moon night. This terrifies the whole village: why would the werewolf kill a human being despite the village’s monthly animal sacrifice to keep the creature satisfied? So they call in famous werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) who arrives in the village with a retinue of black bodyguards and a huge metal elephant. Soon, during another full moon attack, Valerie discovers she has a connection with the killer wolf but she keeps the discovery a secret. Father Solomon tells the villagers the werewolf takes human form by day, thus it could be one of them. Valerie suspects the werewolf could be someone she loves or who loves her.

Any screen character portrayed by Seyfried seems to automatically elicit sympathy from the audience, thanks to her wide-eyed look that lends her face childlike innocence. The trailer of Red Riding Hood apparently implies evil lurking behind those can’t-do-anything-bad eyes, but the movie would soon belie that sneaking suspicion. Obviously she’s not the werewolf but you nonetheless hang on to find out what ultimately happens. That, dear viewer, shows you how a bias for certain actors gets you hooked on the story despite the presence of some elements you would otherwise consider ridiculous or irrelevant. Here, they are the metal elephant that turns out to be torture chamber for suspected werewolves and witches, and the color of Valerie’s hood which contributes nothing to the story but which makes a great frame against a snow-covered landscape. The title itself makes you wonder, why “red riding hood” when Valerie never rides; doesn’t she only walk to her grandmother’s cottage and run away from the wolf? Some film critics would rip Red Riding Hood apart on account of its bearing vestiges of Twilight—this thing about werewolves, virginal heroines falling for bad boys yet spared from wolf attacks, but whatever, it’s an engaging story from beginning to end.

Of course, it’s a sin to kill a human being. But when a werewolf kills, it is not quite human, so is the act of killing then outside the scope of human morality? Aah, that’s a gray area in red riding hood country! How could CINEMA pass judgment on a werewolf’s trespasses, or is it worth the bother at all? We cannot do that without spoilers, so you might as well see for yourself why we’re giving it a 2.5 score in the moral arena. This teaser might help you, though: Why did the carnivorous werewolf who used to be satisfied by the villagers’ animal sacrifices kill a woman but did not eat her? a) the werewolf was scared away by the woman’s screaming; b) the werewolf was allergic to the fabric of the woman’s dress; c) the werewolf wasn’t hungry. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau


CAST: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp,John Slattery, Daniel Dae Kim, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Michael Kelly, Liam Ferguson, Anthony Ruivivar; DIRECTOR: George Nolfi; WRITERS: George Nolfi and Philip K. Dick; GENRE: Romance, SciFi/Fantasy; RUNNING TIME: 106 min.


Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: For viewers 18 and up


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: If the movie seems a hybrid of Matrix and Sleepless in Seattle, it’s because it strives to deal intelligently and entertainingly about fate, choice, free will, predestination, topics that elsewhere would require doctorate degrees to understand. On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas. But just as he realizes he's falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. A metaphysical puzzle for mature minds; it could also be mistaken for a romantic sci-fi.

The Eagle


CAST: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Dakin Matthews; DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald; SCREENWRITER: Jeremy Brock; PRODUCER: Duncan Kenworthy; EDITOR: MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Atli Orvarsson; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle; GENRE: Drama, Action, Adventure; DISTRIBUTOR: Focus Features; LOCATION: Scotland; RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes


Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 14 and above


BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS: In 2nd-Century Britain, two men - master and slave - venture beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest that will push them beyond the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal, friendship and hatred, deceit and heroism. Screenplay adapted Rosemary Sutcliff's classic novel The Eagle of the Ninth.

Senior Year


CAST: Che Ramos, LJ Moreno, RJ Ledesma, Ina Feleo, Arnold Reyes, Dimples Romana, Ramon Bautista, Aaron Balana, Celina Peñaflorida, Rossanne de Boda, Eric Marquez, Sheila Bulanhagui, Francez Bunda, Daniel Medrana, Nikita Conwi, Mary Lojo, Daniel Lumain; SCREENPLAY & DIRECTOR: Jerrold Tarog; LOCATION: Manila; GENRE: Drama
RUNNING TIME:100 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 14 and above


Class Reunion sa hinaharap ng high school batch 2010 ng St. Frederick School. Inaalala ng class valedictorian na si Henry (RJ Ledesma) ang mga nangyari noong huling taon sa high school ng batch niya habang nag-iipon siya ng lakas at dahilan upang tumuloy at magpakita sa reunion. Dito magsisimulang manumbalik ang isang makulay na taon at iba’t-ibang kuwento ng kanyang mga batchmates. Nariyan ang hirap na dinanas niya sa pagbuo ng kanyang graduation speech habang tinitikis ang lihim niyang pagtingin kay Sofia. Kasabay nito ay ilang pagaalinlangan ng kanyang mga kaibigan sa kanilang buhay sa kasalukuyan at hinaharap habang nalalapit ang kanilang pinakahihintay na graduation.

Mahusay ang pagkakagawa ng pelikula at buo ang pagkakalahad ng kuwento ng Senior Year. Kahit pa maraming tauhan at kuwentong uminog sa iisang kalugaran, nagawa pa rin ng direktor na habiin ang ang lahat ng elemento sa isang makabuluhang kabuuan. Sino ba naman ang hindi nakakaalala sa kanyang high school life? Sobrang aliw ang pelikula sa pagbibigay-buhay sa mga tipikal na kuwento at tauhan sa high school. Sa pagkakataong ito, mga tunay na estudyante at hindi artista ang mga nagsiganap at lumabas na sobrang tototo ang pelikula. Parang pinapanood ng mga manonood ang kani-kanilang buhay noong sila ay nasa mataas na paaralan. Ang ilang tauhan naman ay pawang mga nakasalamuha mo nga noong ika’y dumaraan sa parehas na panahon. Ang resulta’y isang nakakaaliw na pelikula na pumupukaw sa isip at damdamin dahil parang hindi pelikula ang napapanood kundi ang totoong buhay. Buhay high school.

Tulad sa totoong buhay, maraming ibinato at inihaing nararapat pag-isipan sa pelikulang Senior Year. Ito nga ba ang panahon kung saan ang mga kabataan ay naghahanap ng kahulugan sa kawalang-kahulugan ng lahat ng kanilang pinagdadaanan? Dahil dito’y naging kahanga-hanga ang papel ng mga guro sa mga mag-aaral dahil nagsisilbi silang inspirasyon sa mga ito upang maging mabubuting mamamayan na maghahatid ng pagbabago sa lipunan. Sa kabilang banda rin ay marami ding dapat ipagpasalamat ang mga guro sa kanilang mga estudyante na nagtuturo din sa kanila ng maraming bagay ng higit sa kanilang nalalaman. Ang buhay high school nga naman ay isang matinding pagtawid – pagtawid mula sa pagkabata tungo sa pagtanda, pagtawid mula sa nakaraan tungo sa pagharap sa kinabukasan. Nariyan pa ang ilang kalituhan ukol sa pag-ibig, pamilya, pagkakaibigan at maging sa moral. Hindi naghusga ang pelikula at hindi rin ito nagsermon ngunit nag-iwan ito ng maraming malalim na konsepto na nararapat bigyang pansin kaakibat ang matinding pagsubok sa bawat isa na gawing makabuluhan ang pagkabata upang maging maliwanag ang kinabukasan pagtanda. Hindi nawawala ang pananalig sa Diyos, sa kapwa, sa sarili at sa mga institusyon na katulad ng paaralan. Gaano man katindi, kakulay, kapait ang buhay high school, ang isa’y makakapulot pa rin ng aral mula dito gaano man kaliit, dala pa rin ito habambuhay. Makabubuting kasama ng mga magulang ang kanilang mga anak sa panonood ng pelikulang ito hindi lamang para gabayan ngunit para mas higit pa nilang malaman ang mga saloobin ng mga kabataan ngayon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Am Number Four


CAST: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Durand; DIRECTOR: D.J. Caruso; WRITERS: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon; GENRE: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller; RUNNING TIME: 104 min.

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers aged 14 and up.


John (Alex Pettyfer) is Number Four, an alien disguising himself on earth as “John Smith” to elude annihilation by the Mogadorians. Looking like a handsome ordinary American teenager he easily blends in with the rest of the high school crowd. Everybody takes his being a jet ski whiz as a simple athletic gift until one day, at the beach, when out from his leg emanates a strange light as he writhes in pain. It’s the third scar branded into his leg, and it means his Mogadorian pursuers have succeeded in killing Number Three. He has a protector posing as his father in the person of fellow Mogadorian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) who thinks it is time to move out to a safer hiding place, but John would not leave his girlfriend Sarah (Dianna Agron) behind. Meanwhile the Mogadorians are closing in and a confrontation becomes inevitable, revealing the presence on earth of a couple of John’s allies, one of whom is the Number Six (Teresa Palmer).

I am Number Four looked promising in the trailer but the real thing seems like a patchwork quilt whose most colorful elements are facsimiles of box office hits. A love between an earthling and Someone Who’s Not From Here? Doesn’t Twilight have that? Battles fought in the air? Plenty of that in Harry Potter! A cute puppy morphing into a monster? Well, don’t flashy cars go clank-clackety-clank to become giant metal murderers in … was it Transformers and/or Hulk? A sexy chick kicking ass with nary a drop of sweat? Remember Michelle Pfeiffer, Zhang Zi Yi, Michelle Liu, La Jolie and others who’ve done superwoman stuff? And what about ugly, menacing aliens? Ho-hum. But that’s not the most disappointing. The patch up job would have been tolerable if there had been a good plot to sew it up decently. But as it is, it seems like I Am Number Four has been produced to sell—only that, to sell, targeting 12-15 year olds who get high on escapist fantasy-cum-forbidden-love formula movies.

Because there’s no coherent story really testing the moral strength of the protagonists, all the violence and destruction seems mere debris floating in the air, defying gravity and direction, thereby remaining weightless and worthless as indicators of sound judgment. The lack of a story explains the lack of meaningful dialogue advancing the story. The Olyphant character almost provides a semblance of depth to his nearly-human thinking but it gets buried beneath the raucous computer-generated action. This patchwork movie leaves many holes uncovered, is fraying at the edges, and in its overload of borrowed colors loses its identity.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Faster


CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Moon Bloodgood, Maggie Grace, Tom Berenger, Micaela Johnson, Jennifer Carpenter, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Courtney Gains; DIRECTOR: George Tillman, Jr.; SCREENWRITER: Joe Gayton & Tony Gayton; PRODUCER: Martin Shafer, Tony Gayton, Liz Glotzer; EDITOR: Dirk Westervelt; MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Clint Mansell; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Grady; GENRE: Action/Adventure; LOCATION: US; RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 1
CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After 10 years in prison, Driver has a singular focus - to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he's finally on his mission. It's a do or die race to the list's finish as the mystery surrounding his brother's murder deepens, and new details emerge along the way hinting that Driver's list may be incomplete.

Who's That Girl?


CAST: Anne Curtis, Luis Manzano, Eugene Domingo, Dina Bonnevie; DIRECTOR: Wenn Deramas; PRODUCER/ DISTRIBUTOR: Viva Films ; GENRE: Romantic Comedy; LOCATION: Manila; RUNNING TIME:120 minutes;

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


Humaling na humaling si Elizabeth Pedrosa (Anne Curtis) sa campus figure na si John Eduque (Luis Manzano) mula nung sila’y na sa kolehiyo pa. Yun nga lang, palihim ang paghanga ni Elizabeth kay John at pawang nasa pedestal kung ituring niya ito. Kinimkim ito ni Elizabeth hanggang sa sila’y magkalayo na ng landas at magkaroon ng kani-kaniyang buhay pagkatapos ng kolehiyo. Ngunit magbabago ang takbo ng lahat nang mabasa ni Elizabeth ang pangalan ni John sa obitwaryo. Pupunta siya sa burol at gagawa ng malaking eksena para lang malaman na ang namatay ay hindi si John kundi ang ama nito na kanyang kapangalan. Dala ng matinding hiya ay hindi na makakapagpaliwanag pa si Elizabeth at kakaripas na lang ng takbo. Mabibigla ang lahat sa burol at kanilang aakalain na nagkaroon ng ibang babae ang ama ni John na labis na ikagagalit ng ina niyang si Belinda (Eugene Domingo). Ipapahanap at tutugisin ni Belinda si Elizabeth habang si John ay ganun din ang gagawin. Yun nga lang, sa pagkikita at pagkakakilala nina John kay Elizabeth ay unti-unting mahuhulog ang loob nila sa isa’t-isa.

Naghatid ng matinding aliw ang Who’s That Girl sa mga manonood nito sa kabuuan. Pinakamatingkad na yaman ng pelikula ang talento ng mga nagsiganap lalo na si Domingo na wala pa ring kupas sa pagpapatawa. Mahuhusay din ang mga pangunahing tauhan na sina Curtis at Manzano yun nga lang, parang nagkulang pa sa hagod ang kanilang tambalan upang maging tunay na nakakakilig. Maganda ang naging simula ng kuwento at naging matindi ang interes ng manonood sa takbo nito. Talaga namang hagalpakan lahat sa kakatawa sa tuwing hihirit ang kakatwang karakter ni Domingo. Yun nga lang, parang nakakasawa na rin ang iba paglaon. Hindi pa rin napigilan ang pelikulang ito na gaya ng inaasahan sa isang pelikulang gawa ni Deramas, marami pa ring eksenang pawang pilit na isinisingit ang pagpapapatalastas ng mga produkto. Naging matahimik naman sa pagkakataong ito ang mga product placements pero pawang nahahalata pa rin ng maraming manonood. Nakakaapekto pa rin ito ng malaki sa daloy ng pelikula sa kabuuan.

Patungkol ang Who’s That Girl sa kung paanong maraming nagkakasira sa maling akala at kung paanong ang pagkakasirang ito ay maari namang maayos ng pagmamahalan. Yun nga lang, tila may mga bagay na sadyang pag nasira na ay mahirap nang ayusin pa. Tulad na lamang ng maraming bagay na nagawa ng galit ni Belinda dahil sa kanyang maling akala. Pinagsisihan naman niya ito sa bandang huli at naliwanagan din siya sa kahalagahan ng tunay na pag-ibig. Yun nga lang, maraming bagay sa pelikula ang nagkulang sa hagod at pagbibigay ng tamang kahulugan lalo na sa konsepto ng pag-ibig. Hindi gaanong malinaw kung ano ang nagtulak kina Elizabeth at John upang mahalin ang isa’t-isa. Ang kay Elizabeth ay malinaw na pagkahumaling pero tinatawag niya itong pag-ibig. Kay John naman ay pawang pagnanasa pero tinawag din nila itong pag-ibig. Nakababaha lang na magdulot ng maling impresyon at konsepto ang pelikula, lalo na sa mga kabataan, kung ano nga ba talaga ang tunay at wagas na pag-ibig. Ipinakita na sana ito sa pagmamahalan nina Belinda at John Sr. ngunit nasira din naman kalaunan. Malabo tuloy ang mensahe ng pelikula sa kabuuan. Sa gitna ng mga aliw at halakhak ay tila naman yata walang laman ang pelikula. Nariyan pa ang mangilan-ngilang paghuhubad ng ilang tauhan na nasa konteksto naman ngunit kinakailangan pa ring gabayan ang mga batang manonood.