Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pirate Brothers

CAST: Verdy Bhawanta, Ronin Shou, Marcio Fernando Da Silva, Karina Nadila, Andrew Lincoln Suleiman; DIRECTOR: Asun Mawardi; WRITER: Asun Mawardi, Matthew Ryan Fischer; LOCATION: Indonesia; GENRE: Action; RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

Technical Assessment: 2
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 14 years and above

Young orphans Verdy (Verdy Bhawanta) and Sunny (Ronin Shou) meet and live at an orphanage as brothers who agree to protect each other’s for as long as they live.  But they go separate ways when a rich family adopts Verdy. The two surrogate brothers lose contact since separation but they keep a sign of bond on their wrists to remember each other and remain hopeful to see each other again. Years later their paths indeed cross again, this time in an odd situation.  Verdy is the subject of a kidnapping that has been orchestrated by a trusted employee of a big company owned by his adaptive family.  He is kidnapped on the day he proposes to his girlfriend Melanie (Karina Nadila) aboard a private speedboat. It turns out that one of the abductors is Sunny. They recognize each other because of the wristbands they are wearing. However, the long awaited moment becomes a disappointment for Verdy. But Sunny sees the opportunity to fulfill the promise to protect his brother and so he does everything to let Verdy go minus Melanie who has been on the hands of Sunny's gang mates.  Verdy takes it all against Sunny even the latter confesses that he is not really part of the kidnap gang but a police undercover doing surveillance on the business of Verdy's adoptive family.  Amidst this situation, will light still shed for the pirate brothers?

"Pirate Brothers" is primarily an action film with some elements of drama. It has a touching story about orphans, parting, longing and reconciliation. But as expected from an action, it highlighted the fighting and chasing scenes. To the credit of the Director and those behind the stunt movements, the film offers good choreography without the usual death defying stunts and blasting’s. The techniques applied in fighting scenes saved the poor acting. But the delivery of English lines are commendable as well as the shift from Bahasa language.  The production design does not contribute much. The music score has struggled to establish continuity. Overall, there is much to be desired in the technical aspect of the film.

The film defies the cliché "promises are made to be broken". Whilst it initially injected revenge in the character of Sunny, the film gets away with it as the story progresses. It focuses on valued brotherhood relationship and fulfillment of both personal and official mission to fight crime and pin down criminals to give justice to their victims. The  "Pirate Brothers" conveys the hopeful message about becoming somebody doing contribution to society despite  humble beginnings like coming from orphanage. The film may be rich in positive values presented in subtle ways,  it is still violent for the most part that devalues life. 

Happy Feet Two

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ava Acres, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Alecia Moore, Sofia Vergara, Hugo Weaving, Johnny A. Sanchez. DIRECTOR: George Miller. WRITER: Gary Eck, George Miller, Paul Livingston, Warren Coleman.   PRODUCER: George Miller. GENRE: Animation/Family; RELEASED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures; RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment     : 3.5
Cinema Rating          : For viewers of all ages

In Happy Feet  2006, we met Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), a unique tap-dancing member of a flock of soul-singing emperor penguins.  Now in Happy Feet 2, we meet Mumble’s fluffy little son Erik (voiced by Ava Acres) whose feet do not seem to be that happy.  Erik’s attempt at tap-dancing ends in a flop, and the whole flock laughs at him.  Despite his father’s reassurance that he’ll someday find his very own way—not necessarily tap-dancing—to express his deepest feelings, Erik wants to get away from it all.  Nursing his wounded pride, Erik, consoled by two young friends Atticus and Bo, take an aimless walk and stumble upon Mumble’s old buddy Ramon (Robin Williams).  Their walk takes them to the home of another group of penguins, the Adelies.  When Mumble and his mate Gloria (voiced by Alecia Moore) realize that their Erik and his tiny friends are missing, Mumble shuffles off to begin his search.  Found, Erik refuses to go home with his father.  Meanwhile, a huge iceberg calves off and slams into the emperor penguins’ bay and traps the birds there.  It would now take those outside—Mumble, the three little ones, and Ramon—to stage the rescue.
As before, the penguins are cute, especially up close when the littlest one could melt anyone’s heart.  That is, anyone’s but that of the elephant seal, Bryan the Beachmaster (voiced by Richard Carter), who, after having been saved from sure death by a penguin, refuses to…. (well…spoiler stopped).   Happy Feet 2 offers much by way of animation so that the viewer may simply overlook certain  CGI flaws in favor of the infectious music and the song and dance numbers.  After all, you go watch Happy Feet 2 fully aware that it’s aimed primarily at a GP audience.  
Its being a “kids’ movie”, however, doesn’t stop Happy Feet 2 from talking to adults as well, although most of the time the message would sail over the heads of its juvenile viewers.  We’re referring to lines spoken by characters on sexual themes outside of the central father-and-son issue.  For instance, Bill (voiced by Brad Pitt) the krill’s obvious affection for his best friend Will (voiced by Matt Damon).  Bill suggests that he and will start “a little swarm of our own” to which Will readily quips, “We’re both males!”  Bill pleads to Will, “have me as partner…” and whatever he leaves unsaid is picked up by the songs Wake me up before you go-go and Never gonna give you up.  So Will eventually allows Bill to stay, but not without warning him first, “But no hanky-panky!”  Soon, however, Will himself says it’s time to part ways—and that was after they get startled and Bill jumps on Will’s back.  Get it?
Another instance is when the shortie Ramon woos the shapely Carmen (voiced by Sofia Vergara), she derides him, “I’d never have an egg with you…you’re too short…!”  (Since when did successful procreation depend on the height of the partners?  Get it?)
Another?  When a male penguin brings fish for Mumble’s mate Gloria to eat, their beaks touch rather suggestively.  Some songs are also suggestive although—perhaps in order to win the GP rating—some words are replaced, as in the song Sexy Back, where “Get your sexy on” becomes “Get your fluffy on”.  Speaking of “fluff”—it is also used in place of another “f” word, as in “What the fluff!” and "Take your little fur ball and fluff off."  It seems the racy elements are “penguinized” to protect the innocence of the innocent.
This fabulous movie is chock-full of pointers for the philosophically-inclined.  A krill tired of running away from hungry whales separates from the swarm to find the truth about his existence.  Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria) the “flying penguin” sounds every bit like a motivational speaker as he roots for positive thinking and tells the wide-eyed Erik, "If you want it, you must will it. If you will it, it will be yours." 
But more than anything else, Happy Feet 2 is a story about fathering, teaching by example, and greatness in ordinariness.  The last is so movingly delivered in “Erik’s opera”, part of which follows:

Although he's just an ordinary penguin
My daddy taught me
You don't have to be colossal
To be a great heart
You don't have to fly
To be awesome
My hero, my father!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

CAST: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison, Taylor Lautner; DIRECTION: Bill Condon; SCREENPLAY: Melissa Rosenberg; STORY: Stephanie Meyer; CINEMATOGRAPHY: Guillermo Navarro; EDITING: Virginia Katz; PRODUCER: Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt, Stephanie Meyer; MUSIC: Cartner Burwell; LOCATION: Seatle / Brazil; GENRE: Drama Fantasy; DISTRIBUTOR: Summit Entertainment; RUNNING TIME: 153 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment     : 3.5
Cinema Rating          : For viewers 14 years old

Breaking Dawn stays true to the novel and brings it to life with such intensity. The movie centers on Edward (Robert Pattison) and Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) first year’s marriage. After a dreamy wedding and honeymoon, the newly wed face the horror of Bella’s unexpected pregnancy. Unknowing what the unborn child will become, Edward decides to have the pregnancy terminate but Bella, whose motherly instincts have awakened, clings on to her child with the help of Rosalie (Nikki Reed), the only Cullen member who prefers her mortality. Bella’s pregnancy has compromised her health and nutrition much to the consternation of Jacob (Taylor Lautner). But these are not the only issues the Cullens must deal with since Sam (Chaske Spencer) has decided that Bella’s child is more of a treat to humanity and ordered his pack to attack the Cullens.
Breaking Dawn offers several breathe taking sequences: the wedding which is staged with such subtle class and poetic romance; the scenic landscapes of Isle Esme and even the Cullen’s house. One of the best scenes interpreting the book is when Jacob refuses to succumb to Sam and finally finds his Alpha voice. Storywise, it does stay true to Meyer’s work and incorporates as much details as possible.  Sadly though, it lacks the factor which made Twilight, both the novel and at least the 1st and 3rd movies. For one, it had too much songs and MTV-moments for a vampire movie. Edward ‘s character lost its mystery and the conflict did not have the same intensity to deliver the needed suspense. The original indie feel was lost as it transformed into a glossy run-of-the-mill love story. Technically, Breaking Dawn delivers - with magnificent CGI effects used in Bella’s deteriorating physique, better acting from Stewart and Laurent and good editing. Still, as segue to the conclusion of the Twilight Saga, it falls short of expectations.
Breaking Dawn brings strong messages on anti-abortion, marriage and family.
We see how Bella fights for the life of her unborn child despite the circumstances that dictates otherwise. How often do woman find themselves in the same predicament and readily succumb to abortion at the first sign of physical, emotional, social and financial discomfort or difficulty. Bella’s determination and sacrifice serves as an inspiration for mothers-to-be having apprehensions on their pregnancy.
Family bonds are highly valued and respected in the film - the Cullens take care of each other while the Quileute tribe fight side by side to protect their people.  The importance of family is mentioned several times in the dialogue.
And finally, Breaking Dawn can be commended for putting premium on the sanctity of marriage and its consummation. The marriage act sequences are intense but not graphic. Although It could have been shortened as most viewers would have already read the book and are familiar with the events.
Because of certain themes and delicate scenes in the story, the movie is better recommended for older teenagers with adult guidance.

Monday, November 14, 2011


CAST: Charlie CoxWes BentleyDougray ScottUnax Ugalde,Olga KurylenkoPablo LapadulaGolshifteh FarahaniRusty LemorandeAna TorrentAlfonso Bassave; DIRECTOR: Roland Joffé; WRITER: Roland Joffé; GENRE: Drama;
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

Technical Assessment:  3.5
Moral Assessment:  3.5
Cinema Rating: For viewers 14 years old and above

There be dragons is the story of London-based investigative journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott), who visits Spain to research a book about Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox), the controversial founder of Opus Dei. But, Robert hits a wall, both professionally and personally, when his most promising source—his own father, Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley)—turns out to be his least cooperative one. Robert begins to unearth his father’s toxic secrets when he learns that Manolo was not only born in the same Spanish town as Josemaría, but that they were childhood friends and attended the same seminary. The two men take radically different paths in life, with Josemaría dedicating his life to his faith while Manolo is swept into the brutal and tumultuous Spanish Civil War.  Manolo descends into a dangerous and jealous obsession when the beautiful Hungarian revolutionary Ildiko (Olga Kurylenko) doesn’t return his affections and instead gives herself to the courageous military leader, Oriol (Rodrigo Santoro).  As Robert continues to unearth the secrets of Josemaría’s life and Manolo’s mysterious anger, their overlapping journeys are revealed with the truths and sorrows of their past choices, which compels Manolo to confront his own secret with one last opportunity of forgiveness.
With such a star-studded cast and crew, there is no reason There be dragons cannot pull off a memorable film.  It is written and directed by two-time Academy Award-nominee Roland Joffé (The Mission, The Killing Fields, City of Joy) and stars Charlie Cox (Stardust, Casanova), Wes Bentley (American Beauty, Ghost Rider), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Max Payne), Emmy Award-winning actor Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, The Golden Compass), Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Ever After) and Rodrigo Santoro (300, Che).  Its art director is Academy Award-winner Eugenio Zanetti (Restoration, What Dreams May Come), its costume designer is Academy Award®-winner Yvonne Blake (What Dreams May Come), and its makeup designer is Academy Award-winner Michele Burke (Quest for Fire, Dracula).  It is superbly edited by no less than Academy Award-nominee Richard Nord (The Fugitive), and photo-directed by Gabriel Beristain (Caravaggio).  Whew!
In case you are wondering if this is another kung fu movie, take heart.   The title There be dragons is borrowed from the words supposedly found on medieval maps indicating unexplored territory, Hic sunt dracones, which refers to the experiences in life which cause people to suffer and to react in different ways.  Only by acknowledging and dealing with those “dragons”, director Joffé suggests, can we escape the cycle of vengeance and dehumanization which so marked the twentieth century and still marks today’s world.  Says Joffé: “I think that’s what Josemaría was teaching, again and again, to people going through anguishing experiences: to connect to the humanity not only of those who are suffering but also of those who are causing them to suffer.  But just in case the mention of “Josemaria Escriva” scares you away, know that this is not a movie to proselytize its audience.  It is a polished work of art, a professionally crafted epic tale of revolutionaries and saints in a time of civil war; a story of love and heroism amid jealousy, hatred and violence; and a heartbreaking drama about the power of forgiveness to break the chains of the past. 



CAST:Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Galecki, Matt Bomer, Olivia Wilde, Vincent Kartheiser;DIRECTOR:Andrew Niccol;WRITER:Andrew Niccol;FILM PRODUCER:Amy Israel, Eric Newman, Kristel Laiblin, Marc Abraham;GENRE:Crime/Gangster / Sci-fi / Thriller;RUNNING TIME:110 minutes

Technical Assessment:  3.5
Moral Assessment:  2.5
Cinema Rating: For viewers 14 years old and above

It is 2061.  People have been genetically altered to stop aging at 25 and then to live one more year.  Unless they can trade—buy or sell, spend or earn—the time they have left to live, they will be timed off at age 26.  Time is their only currency; they pay for daily needs with the time they have; and they earn time as payment for their work.  One could die betting his entire time in a casino; one could also win a thousand years or more by gambling.  Twenty-eight year-old Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives an ordinary hand-to-mouth existence with his mother Rachel Salas (Olivia Wilde) in the ghetto where people die everyday for lack of opportunities to extend their life.  One night Will saves the life of a 105-year old rich man Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) who is tired of living anyway and so transfers his remaining 106 years to Will while he’s asleep.  With over a century to spend, Will decides to see how the rich in another time zone live.  There he beats the casino dealer, the 95-year-old time-lending businessman Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), father of 27-year-old Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), and there starts a mad gamble for time.
It is an intriguing premise that In Time offers, teasing the imagination to create scenarios of immortality.  There may be many loopholes in the filming but these are more than compensated by the fascinating ideas peddled by writer-director Andrew Niccol.  It is engaging, to say the least, as one possibility follows another in the ways time is used as currency.  The time that remains of a person’s life is measured in 13 digits representing years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds that flash like a luminous digital clock on the forearm.  For instance, a bus ride could cost you two hours; a cup of coffee, four hours; a fancy car, 59 years, and so on.  But you could live to a million years if you’re a shrewd time-lender like Weis, or a ruthless robber who at gunpoint steal time from people.  How does time pass hands?  Simply by arm-to-arm contact.  Your life practically ticks away by the second; once you reach 13 zeroes, you’re gone.
This is sci-fi that you can take seriously for the subject matter is not science per se but mortality and the human desire to be immortal.  The message is underscored in the dialogue between ghetto boy Will Salas and the centenarian from the opulent side of the fence Henry Hamilton.  What would you do if you were in Hamilton’s shoes?  Is it all right to give your time to time-thieves if you think you’ve seen it all and wouldn’t want to live longer?  Is it okay to rob the rich in order to give to the poor?  If you had the choice would you want to live forever?  The most profound character in In Time,Henry Hamilton, says in effect: “There comes time when you tell yourself it’s enough… your body doesn’t age (he’s been 25 for 80 years) but your mind does, and that’s tiring… everybody wants to be immortal but to be immortal you must die…”  In Timewill fascinate young and old alike but you’ll get the full benefit if you close your eyes to its flaws and stay sober  while enjoying it.

Haunted 3D

CAST:Krishna Bhatt, Mimoh Chakraborty, Twinkle Bajpai;DIRECTOR:Vikram Bhatt
GENRE: Horror;LOCATION: Malaysia;RUNNING TIME:140 minutes

Technical Assessment:  3
Moral Assessment:  3
Cinema Rating: For viewers 14 years old and above

Rehan (Mimoh Charaborty), an  MBA graduate of Harvard University, is sent by his Dad to negotiate for the sale of the family-acquired property. It is a  century old house called Glen Manor. On his arrival at the site, he learns about the series of mysterious deaths of which the people associate with presence of evil spirits in the old house. When he experiences strange happenings in the house  by himself, he thinks it is smart to give what people say about the house the benefit of the doubt. He starts to trace back the real story about the house. He finds out through a mysterious letter written by a certain Meera (Twinkle Bajpal) about the incidents in the house 80 years ago. Further, he learns from a strange guy that the mysterious screams and evil happenings are caused by two spirits ---  the evil one who imprisoned the other spirit in the house. The house can only be freed from haunting if the link between the two spirit will be unlocked.

 "Haunted 3D" has an interesting storyline out of creative imagination of linking past to the present. The subplots provide continuity to connect the elements of time, risks and love interest. The production design created a good setting for the overall theme of the film. The musical score and camera angles and effects are commendable. Whilst sound effects effectively established scary and suspense in the scenes, it is a bit loud and the screams can be annoying at some point. The good story and effects saved the weakness in the acting. Somehow the director can be credited in transforming the lead actors into lovable characters. Overall, the film Haunted 3D can keep the viewer hooked for its entire run of over two hours.

The film is about courage to know the truth out of a mystery, decision to take the risk, saving life and spirit, recognizing the supreme power of God over evil, putting heart in what you do, falling in love and sacrificing. The lead character shows both courage and humility when he takes the risk of journeying toward unlocking the mystery at the same time seeking advice from people whom he thought can help. Although the story is obviously a fiction, the film offers lessons inspired by positive values. However, the 2-hour run can be stressful for young viewers. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011


CAST: Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, Albie Casino, Juliane Ward, Bembol Roco, Precious Lara Quigaman, Mark Abaya ;DIRECTOR: Jerrold Tarog; STORY AND SCREENPLAY: Jerrold Tarog, Aloy Adlawan;PRODUCER: Regal Films;GENRE: Horror; LOCATION: Manila, Pampanga; RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
Cinema Rating: For viewers 14 years old and above

Si Daniel (Paulo Avelino) ay isang hired killer na kasamang inutusang patayin ang isang pamilya. Ngunit hahayaan niyang makatakas and dalawang batang anak (Albie Casino at Julianne Ward)  ng kanilang pinaslang. Dahil dito’y kakailanganin nilang hanapin at sundan ang dalawang bata. Mapapadpad ang dalawang bata sa isang probinsiya na pinamamahayan pala ng mga nakakatakot na aswang na kung tawagin ay Ab-wak. Ang isa sa mga uri nila na si Hasmin (Lovi Poe) ay may kabutihang taglay at hindi na niya nais pa ang ginagawa ng mga uri nila. Ipagtatanggol niya ang dalawang bata at ililigtas sa kapahamakan at kalaunan ay makikilala din niya si Daniel at kapwa sila mabibighani sa isa’t-isa. Ngunit nasa panganib ang buhay nilang lahat dahil si Hasmin ay nakatakda nang ipakasal sa nuno ng mga aswang upang higit pang mapalakas ang pwersa ng kanilang lahi. Makatakas pa kaya silang lahat gayong higit ang kapangyarihan nito kaysa mga tao?

Isang pelikulang naglayong magpakita ng maraming elemento at aspeto ng buhay ang pelikulang Aswang. Nagawa nitong ilahad ang sanga-sangang kuwento ng iba’t-ibang tauhan. Malinis sa kabuuan ng pelikula lalo na kung ang pagututuunan ng pansin ay ang kuha ng kamera at special effects. Naging kapani-paniwala ang lahat dahil masusi nitong iningatan ang maraming detalye. Mahusay din ang tunog at musika. Ang mga nagsiganap ay pawang magagaling din. Simple ang kanilang naging atake sa pag-arte upang mapalutang ang daloy ng kuwento. Nagkulang lang marahil ang pelikula sa pananakot. Para sa isang pelikulang katakutan, hindi gaanong makapanindig balahibo ang mga eksena sa pelikula. Ngunit ang pinakamahalaga’y naghain naman ito ng isang bagong kwentong aswang.

Ang aswang sa pelikula ay hindi lamang ang mga aswang na nilalang kundi pati na rin ang mga taong parang  o daig pa ang aswang kung pumatay ng kapwa-tao. Hindi tuloy malaman ng mga manonood kung kanino ba tataya…sa mga halimaw ba na nangangain ng tao o sa mga mamamatay-tao? Pinalabas ng pelikula na kung tutuusin ay mas may pusong tao pa ang mga halimaw kaysa sa mga tao kung minsan. Sa ipinakitang kabutihan ni Hasmin sa kabila ng kanyang pagiging aswang ay maaring maging insipirasyon sa sinumang nag-aakalang ang kanilang kasalanan ay walang kapatawaran at hindi na sila maaring magbago ng buhay. Ang pagbabagong-buhay ang siyang hinahangad ng dalawang pangunahing tauhan. Ngunit sa kabila ng lahat ng pangyayari sa pelikula, natupad kaya nila ito? Paano paninindigan ng mga aswang na maari silang mabuhay ng walang sinasaktan o pinapatay kung ito ang natural sa lahi nila? Napahamak si Daniel sa paglalagay ng batas sa kanyang mga kamay ngunit hindi malinaw at maigting na makikita ang  kanyang pagsisisi bagama’t basa sa kanyang mga mata na di niya nais ang kanyang ginagawa. Ganun din si Hasmin na naninindigang hindi siya magkakalat ng lagim. Nanatiling dalisay ang kanilang hangarin ngunit hindi maitatangging ginamit pa rin nila ang kani-kanilang kapangyarihang itim upang puksain ang mga kaaway. Sa bandang huli, sila’y pawang mga bayani pa ng mga bata sa pelikula. Nakababahala ito ng bahagya at nararapat na maipaliwanag sa mga batang manonood.