Monday, July 20, 2015

Terminator Genisys

Direction: Alan Taylor;  Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney Screenplay: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier; Cinematography: Kramer Morgenthau;  Editing: Roger Barton;  Music: Lorbe Balfe; Producers: David Ellison, Dana Goldberg; Genre: Sci-Fi Action;  Location: US; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Running Time: 95 minutes
Technical assessment: 2 ½ - 3 stars 
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14 
            By 2029, Skynet has come online and taken over the world but with the Resistance led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) slowly winning over the machines. However, he knows Skynet will make a last ditch effort to save itself and deploy its secret weapon. (Thanks to his time traveling ability that enabled him to know past and future events.) So he sends his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Courtney) to travel back in 1094 and save his mother, Sarah (Clarke) from the Terminator. As Kyle is being transported in time, he witnesses the attack on John and unknowingly gets transported in an alternative 1984 timeline where Sarah has been raised by a protective Terminator she lovingly named Pops (Schwarzenegger) and no longer is the damsel in distress he is expecting. They travel in the future to stop the birth of Skynet but is greeted by a hostile John who has been transformed into a half human-half machine. John no longer is humanity's last hope but Skynet's.  
             Terminator Genisys puts forward a decent original storyline paying tribute to the  James Cameron franchise. That it unrealistically mixes consequences and sensible plots if one were to follow the events of 1984, 1991 and 2003, can be forgiven since this is a time travel fiction. One can also overlook the bland portrayals of Courtney as Kyle Reese, Jason Clarke as John Connor and gawky attempts of Emilia Clarke to summon the spirit of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor.  What is unforgiveable is the presence of Schwarzenegger as the "old but not obsolete" Pops. His look, his one-liners and his delivery are old and obsolete. And no matter how many times these lines are injected in the screenplay, it brings more pity than laughter and awe. Arnold is no longer the masculine pride he was and should have had the dignity to choose roles that will be less of a joke. Story-wise, it could have been a lot better if John Connor's "world last hope" character has not been so screwed up. He is after all half machine and half human and the latter should have been made to win over. Over the years (and franchises), John Connor was raised and developed into a man willing to sacrifice himself for the salvation of mankind. It would have been appropriate if we saw a little struggle and an attempt from what was left of the human John to still do that. Oh, but this a Schwarzenegger movie, so naturally the last bravado should be about him.
            The future is not permanently written on stone with people mainly acting out what is expected of them. Set aside time traveling, fate is never predetermined but is a consequence of decisions and actions made in the present. At best, we are called to live each day with intelligence and ethics so that our future will always be the better one. Since we do not have the capacity to go back in time and rewrite history, what we say and do today matters so much. With a little more struggle, one can find a few more glimpses of positivity in the film. Like how man's perpetual dependence on technology will be the cause of their downfall and enslavement. Technology is indeed powerful but can never be greater than mankind. It is refreshing to watch a macho action film where a woman calls the shot, is able to stand for herself and not just a shrieking damsel who needs to be saved and later taken as a romantic partner by the leading man. The movie has some heavy action scenes that may be a little violent and its plot may be confusing for the very young ones. Parents are cautioned to make sure only their older kids get to watch this. 


DIRECTOR:  Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda  LEAD CAST: Sandra Bullock, Pierre Coffin, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton  SCREENWRITER:  Brian Lynch  PRODUCER:              Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy  EDITOR: Claire Dodgson  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Heitor Pereira  GENRE:  3D computer-animated comedy  ART DIRECTOR: Olivier Adam  DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures  LOCATION: United States RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 13 years old  and below with parental  guidance
MTRCB Rating: PG 13
Out of  boredom,  Minions Kevin, Bob, and Stuart  aim  to do something worthy  and  remarkable under a despicable master. When they see from a hacked TV broadcast about a major event gathering of villains called by the super villain Scarlet (voiced by Sandra Bullock), they immediately go out, hoping to hitch a ride to the venue of the event in Orlando, Florida, to actually meet a potentially new boss. After some failed attempts to get a ride, they are finally taken in by a family who, like them, are also heading on to the villains’ event in Orlando. Along the way, this family amazingly orchestrate robbery to the surprise of the Minions. At the villain convention, the Minions, particularly Kevin, steals the scene by accidentally winning the challenge by Scarlet and becomes her partner in her next crime mission—to steal the crown of Queen of England. In time, something happens that irks Scarlet, making her aim to stage revenge on the Minions.
Minions offers an unusual story of protagonists who join the crowd of  “praising” a woman super villain in her “greatness” and “remarkable” leadership in the field of crime. But the plot development manages to keep the focus and audience sympathy on the innocence and cuteness of the Minions as main characters especially when they talk in their own language. Subtitles are not provided in the film but characterizations are still well carried out. Dubbing by voice cast is impressive, especially that of Bullock (for Scarlet).  The voicing blends well with the digital creation of motion picture and sounds. Humor in form of jokes is constantly injected in the film which brings more fun and entertainment.  The director did well in the overall treatment for Minions as digital film creation. The musical score complements the film to consistently highlight the requirement of the scenes such as the music of the 60s.  The editing is good and has contributed to the entertaining quality of the movie.
            Whose person with good moral ascendency will join a known and proud supervillain? This happens in Minions. In reality, even the most evil person will not openly admit or be proud of his villain status. Even the most obvious criminals deny  their wrong doings in court. This is  because bad  actions are not something that anyone can be proud of. The “end justifies the means”, appears to be the message of  Minions, but the entire run of the film highlighted in scenes, characterization and dialogues all praises to the villains. Although it tackles positive messages like loyalty and friendship, and towards conclusion, there is an effort to correct the wrong, these messages are overpowered by negativity and malicious humors.  A person’s search for despicable master can be a noble personal mission and may be a good opportunity to practice humility and spirit of service.  And there are surely good and upright masters around.  The film is fun and entertaining but parental guidance must be given to viewers 13 years old and below.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The breakup playlist

DIRECTOR: Dan Villegas  LEAD CAST: Sarah Geronimo, Piolo Pascual, Rio Locsin, Dennis Padilla, Diego Loyzaga, Maris Racal, Anna Luna, Teddy Corpuz, Cris Villonco, Badji Mortiz, Jet Pangan  SCREENWRITER:  Antoinette Jadaone  PRODUCER:  Malou N. Santos, Charo Santos-Concio, Vic Del Rosario Jr.  GENRE: Drama, Music, Romance  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Dan Villegas  DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema and Viva Films  LOCATION:  Philippines RUNNING TIME:  115 minutes
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
MTRCB rating: PG 13
CINEMA rating: V 14 (Viewers age 14 and abov
             Nag-aaral ng abogasya si Trixie David (Sarah Geronimo) bilang pagsunod sa kagustuhan ng mga magulang (Dennis Padilla at Rio Locsin), ngunit musika ang kanyang hilig at pangarap. Pinagbigyan siyang sumali sa isang music camp kung saan nakilala niya si Gino Avila (Piolo Pascual) na isang musikero. Kinumbinse ni Gino si Trixie na maging miyembro ng Pencil Grip na banda niya. Tuluyan nang huminto sa pag-aaral si Trixie at gumawa sila ni Gino ng magandang musika. Nagtagumpay ang banda nila ngunit umiral ang pagka-insecure ni Gino nang makita nitong laging pinupuri si Trixie. Parang nasasapawan na siya ni Trixie kaya’t ipinagtulakan niya itong palayo. Pagkalipas ng tatlong taon, muli silang inanyayahang mag-perform na magkasama. Makakaya bang magpatawad ni Trixie? Magkakabalikan pa kaya sila?
            Magkasama sa unang pagkakataon sina Sarah Geronimo at Piolo Pascual sa Breakup Playlist. Mahusay silang magsiganap bilang Trixie at Gino, at kahit malayo ang agwat ng edad ay kapani-paniwala ang kanilang chemistry, at ang kanilang musika. Nagpakita ng higit na galing sa pag-arte si Geronimo sa pagsasabuhay ng kanyang papel. Makabuluhan din ang pagganap ng mga supporting actors na nagbigay ng kabuuan sa mundo ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Kakaibang love story ang Breakup Playlist, salamat sa malikhaing panulat ni Antoinette Jadaone, na nakilalang direktor sa That Thing Called Tadhana. Simpleng kuwento ng pag-ibig na magsisimula sa breakup bago makita ng manonood kung paano ito nagsimula. Maraming memorable dialogue at nakakatuwa din ang paggamit ng mga titolo ng CD albums sa kanilang pag-uusap. Akma ang musika kaya lang ay sobrang lakas ng volume nito. Mahusay ang paggamit ng flashback  kaya lang ay parang pilit ang conclusion. Kapansin-pansin ang somber at dramatic lighting ng pelikula, na ibang-iba sa mga romance movies, na bumagay naman sa takbo at timbre ng istorya. Kaya lang, bakit napakaraming product/service endorsement na halatang isiningit at wala namang kaugnayan sa kwento?
            Makatotohanan ang paglalarawan ng pamilya sa Breakup Playlist. Nariyan ang pagsisikap ng mga magulang upang maging maganda ang kinabukasan ng anak, ang mga pangarap na nasawi, ang hangganan ng pagpapaubaya, at ang pagpapatawad. Makikita rin ang kapusukan ng kabataan sa kabila ng kagustuhang tumalima sa magulang, at ang pagtugon sa sariling pangarap at hilig. Bahagi ng responsibilidad ng magulang at ng mga anak ang linangin at pagyamanin ang anumang kagalingan/talent na ipinagkaloob sa iyo. Isinabuhay rin dito ang karaniwang insecurity ng kalalakihan – ang kahirapang tumanggap sa galing at tagumpay ng kababaihan, na para bang kumpetisyon ang buhay. Ipinapakita rin na sa anumang relasyon, kailangan ang pagkilala at pagtanggap sa sariling kahinaan at pagkakamali, ang pagpapakumbaba ubang humingi ng tawad at ang pagpapatawad.
            Sa kabila ng magagandang aral na napapaloob sa pelikula, iminumungkahi ng CINEMA na mga kabataang mula sa edad na 14 lamang at pataas ang manood nito dahil sa tema, at sa subliminal suggestion na OK lang na magsama ang magkasintahan bilang mag-asawa na hindi ikinasal.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

DIRECTOR: George Miller  LEAD CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult   
SCREENWRITER:  George Miller & Brendan McCarthy   PRODUCER:  George Miller, Dough Mitchell  EDITOR: Jason Ballantine & Margaret Sixel CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John Seale GENRE:  Action  DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Brothers  LOCATION:  Australia RUNNING TIME:  120 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V 18
            The film begins with a brief prologue of apocalyptic future—a world that is turned into a wasteland with nothing left but rage and darkness. In Citadel, a ruthless leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne), reigns and all the people fear him. Until one of his priced warriors, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) rebels and kidnaps his slave wives and “breeders” (Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courney Eaton) out of Citadel. She heads east hoping to bring the women to a safer place—a place where she was born, they call—the green place.  Consequently, Immortan Joe is outraged and sends his men to chase after her in the desert. There, Max (Tom Hardy), now a prisoner haunted by the ghost of his past and on the brink of insanity, finds himself in the middle of this mess created by Furiosa—he’s reluctant at first but eventually decides to help Furiosa out.
            Mad Max: Fury Road remains faithful to its original look and feel of madness but this time, with a much bolder, bigger and profound vision. The story can be considered simple—single tracked without unnecessary subplots and distractions. In its simplicity, there lies intelligence and intricate craftsmanship both reckless and controlled as it shows order in the midst of chaos. The film defies typical action-genre plotlines by putting premium on the meat of the message while providing above-average level of excitement and thrill. Mad Max: Fury Road is an achievement of technical excellence in itself and director George Miller never ceases to amaze Mad Max followers.  Miller has once again outdone himself after almost two decades since the last Mad Max franchise. The acting is great and flawless from the lead actor Tom Hardy up to the ensemble of crowd characters. But the real gem of the film is Charlize Theron who exudes charm amid required toughness of her role without losing femininity. Her portrayal of Furiosa is such a remarkable achievement in her career given the demands of the complicated and complex character. She’s every inch perfect fit for the role. Mad Max: Road Fury is such an enjoyable and unforgettable hell of a ride where madness is really everywhere in the film but not without a compelling story to tell.
            Mad Max: Fury Road is a film about revolution and redemption. The film gives a clear glimpse of an apocalyptic future where humans will lose everything but still would hold on to life’s essentials and to what would eventually remain—faith, hope and love.  The women, as the source of life, are portrayed as the ones who have the ability to cling on to hope. In its entirety, Mad Max: Fury Road is a film about women. It shows how women rule in a male-dominated world. It questions status quo and stereotypes by showing equal physical strength of men and women. The resistance of women as being used and abused in reproductive coercion, and being treated as merely “breeders” of men and future warriors is very evident in the story. Amidst the chaotic and violent backdrop, humans innate goodness springs eternal and good triumphs over evil in the end. Such messages both salient and loud are a rarity in action genres. However, it cannot be denied that given the core of the message, the film has to be consistent with its genre so there’s violence, blood and gore and even a certain level of sexual theme and nudity (although done in context) here and there that might not be suitable to the very young audiences so CINEMA deems the film as appropriate only to audiences 18 and above.