Thursday, February 25, 2016


DIRECTOR: Tim Miller   LEAD CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein  SCREENWRITER: Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese  PRODUCER:  Simon Kinberg & company  EDITOR:  Julian Clarke  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Junkie XL  GENRE: Action/Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Ken Seng  DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox  LOCATION:  USA RUNNING TIME:  108 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V18
MTRCB rating:  R16
Pre-Deadpool Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) was a special forces operative who was dishonorably dismissed.  He becomes a hired kill-all-you-can mercenary who sets no limits how he kills whom, then meets hot chick Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker with a past as murky as his.  A deadly blend of sex and sympathy draws them closer together, and then it’s year-round non-stop carnal bliss for the two.  One day, taking a break from Vanessa’s addictive charms, the otherwise hunky Wilson collapses in the bathroom and later on is diagnosed to have terminal cancer in his lungs, brain, prostate, and liver.  Desperate for a cure, he leaves Vanessa and agrees to submit himself to a government funded experimental treatment in the hands of a doctor named Ajax (Ed Skrein). The experiment not only cures his cancer, but also gives him superhuman strength and the power to self-regenerate—but he becomes horribly disfigured in the process.  When he finds out that the “experiment” was actually designed to turn him into a super-slave, and that his deformity is irreversible, he leaves Vanessa to spare her from the sight of him dying.  Thus, the mask, the superhero costume, and the monicker “Deadpool”.  He then launches a testosterone-driven hunt for the sadistic guy Ajax who made him uglier than the phantom of the opera.
As far as CGI action goes, Deadpool is tops; just like any Marvel superhero movie, it aims to dazzle its audience with new tricks, new choreography, new ways to torture the enemy, new excuses to bare the hero’s abs—and it does succeed in entertaining the fans and many film critics.  Reynolds (who didn’t quite hit it with Green Lantern) obviously enjoys being Deadpool, spewing witticism, sarcasm and adults-only expletives, and trying to be funny in the middle of hacking an opponent to death.  He also enjoys baring his abs and that forbidden region south of his navel in a bid to maximize the movie’s R rating.  Unlike most movies with a high body count, Deadpool makes no attempt to disguise the gore, so that when heads are axed and torsos impaled and sliced like watermelons, well—you see red all over the screen.   
Towards the end, Deadpool attempts a redemptive message—love sees beyond the externals—but coming after 105 minutes of the protagonist’s undiluted badassery, it feels put on.  Deadpool the character has been described as “technically a superhero, but one with a mean streak and a potty mouth.”   (Just how potty is potty?  Please refer to  Deadpool himself is dead right when he says “I am not a hero”, so what is he?  A pathetic cancer victim who finds love too late and is therefore to be pitied?  A wisecracking murderer who enjoys killing people to heal his wounds?  A superhero figure reimagined for box office profits is more like it, proven by the gimmick as the credits roll—Reynolds reappearing minus the Deadpool costume, chiding the audience to go home.  Talk about cutesies.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


DIRECTOR: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush LEAD CAST: Voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman SCREENWRITER: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston PRODUCER: Clark Spencer EDITOR: Fabienne Rawley, Jeremy Milton MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Michael Giacchino GENRE: Animation, Action & Adventure, Comedy PRODUCTION DESIGNER: David Goetz VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: Scott Kersavage DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures LOCATION: United States RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  4
CINEMA rating: V 13 (Children 13 and below with Parental Guidance)
MTRCB rating: PG
Rabbit Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) dream of being cop, despite the discouragement from her parents who say “no bunny ever becomes a cop.” Through sheer determination and hardwork Judy attains her goal, topping her class and becoming the first bunny to join the police force. She is assigned to Zootopia, a mammal metropolis populated by animals, leaves her parents and their quiet farm life only to be given the lowest post of all—monitoring the parking meters. Disappointed but persevering she resolves to be the best parking meter cop there is, issuing 200 parking tickets before noon of her first day at work. A wily fox con artist, Nick Wilde (voice by Jason Bateman) tricks and humiliates her on Day One, but as fate would have it, both Judy and Nick become targets of a conspiracy. Circumstances teach them to work in tandem towards solving ongoing mystery crimes in Zootopia. Just when you’re about to say “What? More talking animals?”, along comes—or hops—Zootopia, another fine animation film from Disney’s menagerie. Its main asset is a meaty theme laid out through intelligent story-telling and made alive by pitch perfect voicing. Humans would easily relate to the setting, an anthropomorphic society where animals are dressed like humans and lead human lifestyles—talk about giraffes drinking latte and gazelles crooning onstage as divas—creative animation at its imaginative best. Although Zootopia would make excellent bedtime-reading for kids, it’s anything but kidstuff, what with Bryon Howard (Tangled, Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It-Ralph) at the helm, giving flesh to a script by a staff that includes Jim Reardon (WALL-E), Josie Trinidad (The Princess and the Frog) and Jennifer Lee (Frozen). Pick everything good out of those hits, toss them all into Zootopia and you’ve got film fare that’s both delectable and nutritious to go with your popcorn. If it can be called anything, Zootopia is “cartoon for adults” because it’s a strong statement on things, beliefs and attitudes we’ve taken for granted but which need reexamination in human society. It’s an honest and humorous commentary on how we let prejudice, fear, discrimination, and ignorance guide our lives and prevent us from evolving into the perfect creatures we are meant to be. With wit and gentleness it teaches us lessons on empowerment, courage to pursue our dreams, humility and diligence in performing our jobs, faith in one another despite our differences. Zootopia offers much to entertain young and old alike—the sloth episode alone is worth the price of admission, Ha, ha, ha!—but be careful which child you allow to watch it. Not all children can handle the violence on a larger-than-life screen. (The day we watched, a girl about 4-5 years old screamed when a monstrous bison clawed the fragile bunny, and then kept on crying, “No, no, no!”, burying her face in her mother’s lap and refusing to watch further. The mother and the two yayas were clueless, taking turns carrying the uncontrollable kid outside and bringing her back in until she literally lay on the floor, screaming and kicking inconsolably and spilling drinks and popcorn as a result. Literally, naglupasay! The incident, of course, disturbed the audience, but we wonder if it didn’t consist a trauma for the girl.)

Everything about her

DIRECTOR: Joyce Bernal  LEAD CAST: Vilma Santos Recto, Angel Locsin & Xian Lim  PRODUCER:  Charo Santos-Concio  GENRE: Drama  DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema  LOCATION:  Philippines RUNNING TIME:  2 hours
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V14
Si Vivian (Vilma Santos) ay kilala sa pagiging matapang, mapangahas, at matagumpay na babae sa kanyang larangan. Tinitingala siya, kinatatakutan at nasa pinakamataas na posisyon sa kanyang kumpanya. Ngunit magbabago ang lahat nang siya ay ma-diagnose ng cancer sa buto. Dito kinakailangan niyang sundin ang magiging payo ng kanyang doctor, kabilang na ang pag-aalaga ng isang private nurse. Papayag si Vivian sa kundisyon na itatago pa rin ang kanyang sakit at walang ibang kahit sino ang dapat makaalam. Darating sa buhay ni Vivian si Jaica (Angel Locsin) na sa simula ay mahihirapang makisama sa kanya ngunit dahil kailangan nito ng trabaho para sa kanyang pamilya, pagti-tiyagaan niya si Vivian. Sa tulong ng isang  kaibigang nagmamalasakit kay Vivian, matatawagan ni Jaica ang nag-iisang anak ni Vivian, si Albert (Xian Lim) na naninirahan sa Amerika. Makukumbinsi ni Jaica si Albert na umuwi ng Pilipinas dahil isisiwalat nitong may cancer si Vivian—isang paglabag sa mahigpit na bilin ni Vivian. Sa pag-uwi ni Albert matutuklasan ni Jaica ang malalim na sugat sa relasyon ng mag-ina.
Isang magandang karanasan ang makitang muli sa big screen si Bb. Vilma Santos. Binigyang-buhay niya ang karakter ni Vivian nang buong husay. Kapwa mahuhusay din sina Angel Locsin at Xian Lim. Hindi naman gaanong bago ang tema ng pelikula kung tutuusin, ngunit sadyang dinala ni Ate Vi ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Dama ang puso ng kuwento sa husay ng kanyang pagkakaganap. Mahusay din ang script at direksiyon na hindi masyadong nagpadala sa tukso na iliko ang kwento sa sentro. Marahil ay nagkulang lang ang Everything About Her nang bahagya sa pagpapaigting pa ng kwento ng mag-inang Vivian at Albert. Parang marami pang dapat sana’y ipinakita upang higit pang naramdaman at naintindihan ng manonood ang kanilang pinanggagalingan. Marahil hindi na rin dapat pang binigyang-diin ang kuwento ni Jaica na pawang nakagugulo lang sa daloy ng kuwento ni Vivian. Sa kabuuan naman ay hindi na rin masama ang kinalabasan ng pelikula na patungkol sa mga ina na piniling magkaroon ng sariling karera bukod sa pagiging ina.
Malakas ang mensahe ng Everything About Her patungkol sa mga tinatawag na working moms. Ipinakita ng pelikula kung gaano kalalim ang sugat na ibinabaon nito sa puso ng mga anak na tila naghahanap ng pagkalinga at panahon ng isang ina. Hindi nito hinuhusgahan o nilalahat ngunit ipinakita nito ang karaniwang nagiging kapalit ng pagtatrabaho ng ina sa labas ng tahanan—ang pagkakaroon ng galit ng mga anaksa kakulangan ng pagkalinga ng isang ina. Sa isang banda, may batayan nga ba ang pagiging isang mabuting ina? Sa lipunang pinaiikot ng materyalismo, saan nga ba lulugar ang isang ina kapag nagugutom na ang kaniyang mga anak? Parating nagiging batayan ng pagiging isang mabuting babae ang pagiging mabuting ina. Kapag sa paningin ng mga anak ang ina ay naging masama, parang nagiging masamang babae na rin siya. Tila ba naka-angkla ang basehan ng pagkababae sa pananaw ng iba—sa kanyang anak o asawa—ngunit hindi sa sarili niyang pagsusumikap at ambag sa lipunan. Ito isang malaking debate magpasa-hanggang ngayon. Ngunit marahil sa kabuuan ng Everything About Her, ang naipahiwatig nito ay—para sa isang masaya, makabuluhan, at mahabang buhay, nararapat na bigyang pansin at oras ang mga tunay na mahalaga sa buhay, ang mga relasyon, relasyon sa Diyos, sa sarili, sa pamilya, sa kaibigan at sa mas malawak pang komunidad. Sa bandang dulo ng buhay ng isang tao, hindi yaman, kasikatan o kapangyarihan ang magiging sukatan ng makabuluhang buhay kundi ang malalalim na relasyon na itinanim at pinagyabong nang may wagas na pagmamahal.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The revenant

Direction: Alejandro Iñarritu; Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardt, Will Poulter; Story: Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke; Screenplay: Mark Smith, Alejandro G. Iñarritu; Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Stephen Mirrione; Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto; Producers: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, et al; Genre: Epic Drama; Location: 18th Century Louisiana; Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Running Time: 156 minutes.
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: V18
            The film opens with Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) telling his half-breed son not to give up as long as he is breathing. Through a collage of images, we see how he loses his wife and cares for his young son, Hawk. A few years later, Glass and a teenage Hawk are part of team hunting for pelts in the Louisiana wilderness until they are ambushed by Native Americans searching for the chief’s kidnapped daughter. With only 10 men remaining, the party relies on Glass’ expertise and experience to lead them to safety. However, when Glass is brutally mauled by a grizzly bear, the team captain is forced to leave him behind in order for them to be able to safely return to camp. Hawk, Bridger (Poulter) and Fitzgerald (Hardy) volunteer to stay behind, care for Glass and give him a proper burial when the time comes.  However, Fitzgerald, being hostile to both father and son, convinces the injured Glass to be killed so that the three of them can move on. When he smothers Glass, Hawk arrives thinking his father is being murdered and tries to call for help. But Fitzgerald stabs him to death as Glass watches helplessly. Fitzgerald convinces the young Bridger that Hawk has gone missing and they should leave Glass to die. Glass slowly recovers from his injuries and makes a resolve to make Fitzgerald pay for the murder of his son.
            There is a poetic mix of calm and brutality in director Iñarritu’s art. He brings out the core of human struggle with calm precision that it chokes you out of your emotions. The Revenant is divinely genius. Cinematography is majestic and intuitive. It combines the arresting beauty of the Old World and the dynamism of the scene in images that you see and don’t see. Sound design is meticulously laid out, resulting in a rich dramatization. The storytelling, although a little longer than necessary, manages to pierce through the soul. But the main success of the movie is DiCaprio’s Glass. He attacks the character with so much commitment and intensity so that every pain, every heartbreak, and every rage is felt by the audience. But more importantly, each element, although a stand out by itself, works cohesively to tell the story and does not draw attention to itself.  The Revenant is a movie that will surely be a classic for film studies in the future.
            The strongest message of the film is told at the very beginning: “as long as you can breathe, you fight”. This is man’s indomitable spirit to stay alive. There are several motivations to do so: self-preservation, protecting a loved one, seeking justice and rectification and hunger for revenge. The film took us to all of them, perhaps one more prominently that the other. That determination to hang on, the courage to fight and the will to live takes heart, mind and soul and the deep sense of spirituality that allows man to transcend every inch of physical and emotional pain. While it does not explicitly acknowledge God, images of the Church, reference to conscience through inner voices and the words that Glass remembers before he decides not to kill Fitzgerald implicitly suggest His presence. Other sub themes worth discussing are respect for environment and culture, love for family, friendship and loyalty. However, the film graphically presents interracial war, sexual assault, and death, that younger audience will feel disturbed. Hence, CINEMA recommends the film to more mature viewers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Alvin and the Chipmunks: the road chip

DIRECTOR: Walt Becker  LEAD CAST:  Jason Lee, Tony Hale, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Josh Green, and with the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Kaley Cuoco, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate  SCREENWRITER:  Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel  PRODUCER:  Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian EDITOR:  Ryan Folsey   MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Mark Mothersbaugh  GENRE:  Animation, Adventure, Family Comedy, Fantasy, Music  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Lyons Collister   DISTRIBUTOR:  20th Century Fox  LOCATION:  United States RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5  Moral assessment: 3  CINEMA rating:  VA  (Viewers of all ages)
In this fourth installment in the Alvin and the Chipmunks film series, Dave (Jason Lee) introduces Chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore to a new girlfriend, Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and her teen son, Miles (Josh Green).  He produces a record for rising pop artist Ashley Grey (Bella Thorne) in Miami and decides to bring Samantha along with him. He leaves behind the Chipmunks with Miles in Los Angeles.  Miles physically abuses the trio.  Having seen an engagement ring in Dave’s bag, they were worried that Dave will get engaged, start a new family and dump them. They only have three days to save themselves from losing Dave and possibly gaining a terrible stepbrother. Miles is not favorable of having a stepfather so the four travel cross-country to sabotage an assumed engagement.

Monday, February 1, 2016


--> Direction: Brian Helgeland;  Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Bettany, Chazz Palminteri; Screenplay: Brian Helgeland; Based on The Profession of Violence by John Pearson; Cinematography: Dick Pope; Editing:  Peter McNulty; Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark, etc.; Music: Carter Burwell; Genre: Crime; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: United Kingdom Running Time: 131 minutes.
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2.5
Rating: V18
In the 1960s, Frances (Browning) tells the story of twin brothers Reggie (Hardy), her husband, and Ronnie (Hardy) Kray as they lord over the criminal underground world of London. Suave former boxer Reggie and psychotically unstable Ronnie muscle-in on the control of a local club through brutality and blackmail. Their kingdom expands when an American syndicate approaches them for protection in exchange for half profits of London’s underground gambling profits. However, Ronnie psychotic violence continues to cause problems with the authorities subjecting them to an investigation and eventually their arrest. The story is narrated between the tragic love, abuse and suicide of Frances as she stands witness to the rise and fall of the Krays.
There is always an enthralling quality in crime films done particularly well. From a purely technically stand, Legend has a charm that captivates audiences mainly because of Tom Hardy’s impeccable interpretation of Reggie and Ronnie. He methodically manages to keep the personalities defined and balanced with so much chemistry. The script is funny and engaging and the presentation is grippingly entertaining. Pope and Hegeland perfect photography of Hardy’s dual performance easily makes audience forget that they are watching only one person. Browning is a little disappointing because her delivery lacks depth in its omnipresence.
The lines of morality are often blurred for people who misinterpret crassness and vulgarity with candor and being real. There is guilty pleasure over the smooth moves of criminality and nervous laughter with outrageous behavior.   With such propositions, the audience of the film should be equipped with a strong moral sense and Gospel-shaped conscience and realize that while some people may escape punishment or enjoy the shortlived benefits of criminality, it is never worth it because the misery, pain and punishment it brings will always outweigh whatever pleasure it gives.  The film is for mature adults because of mature themes and several disgustingly violent scenes.