Posts Tagged ‘Movie Review’

Wrath of the Titans

Abril 17, 2012

There are movies you would like and there are movies you wouldn’t like. And there would also be those that fall in the category of “Movies You Just See to Kill Time”. Wrath of the Titans falls on the third one. I entered  and went out of the theaters without any thoughts whatsoever about the film. It was just okay. That’s it. Just okay. I did not feel obliged to put my Film Critic Cloak on. No discussions were made after seeing the film, except me saying: “Nice Transformers-like CGI’s, nice sound effects and nice action scenes.” and to which my friends only nodded in approval. No thoughts about the actors and the story. Pretty neat way to kill time indeed.

Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to the 2010 Greek mythology-inspired  Clash of the Titans. In Wrath, Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, demigod son of Zeus played by Oscar-nominee Liam Neeson and nephew to Hades played by Neeson’s fellow Oscar-Nominee Ralph Fiennes. The main cast is supported by actors Rosamund Pike (Andromeda), Edgar Ramirez (Ares), Toby Kebbell (Agenor), Billy Nighy (Hephaestus), Danny Huston (Poseidon) and John Bell (Helius).

Ten years after heroically defeating The Kraken, Perseus is now living a normal life as a fisherman with his mother and 10-year old son Helius. This ordinary life was interrupted however when his father Zeus pays him a visit one day to inform him that the gods were losing their control over the captured Titans, threatening the end of the gods and humanity. Zeus seeks Perseus’ help but the latter declines, uninterested to meddle once more with the business of the Gods.

Perseus joins the quest nevertheless upon learning that his father was held captive in the underworld by Hades and Ares, who struck a deal with Kronos in exchange of immortality (as Gods during this time were losing their power due to people’s lack of devotion). Zeus’ remaining powers are siphoned to bring Kronos back to life (or to regain his powers? not sure). To save his father, Perseus joins force with Andromeda and seeks the help of demigod and son of Poseidon Agenor to save Zeus and beat Kronos.

The Hunger Games Movie Review

Marso 27, 2012

Foreword

“What’s the rating for this movie?”

I absentmindedly blurted out to the person seated beside me (thank God I knew her) as the slashing, stabbing and jiujitsu-ing started showing themselves on screen.

“PG 13.”

That was the reply.

Me to SELF: So, this is what is okay for 13-year-old’s to see nowadays?

Why didn’t we have this back then?

The Movie

DISTURBING. If I were to pick out a word that I personally think describes the film best, it would be this.

  • It has a DISTURBING plot.
  • It contains numerous DISTURBING scenes (about 60% of it, trust me, I’m a Math Teacher).
  • It is DISTURBING that its target audience are children and teens, aged 10 to 18.
  • It is DISTURBING that a lot of people, young and old alike, are into this film that when we reached the theaters, the 3 available screenings were all jam-packed (even the last full show).
  • And it is DISTURBING that besides all these DISTURBING things I enumerated, I absolutely enjoyed it.

And to quote myself (ehem) when a friend asked whether the film was worth watching, it is what one may refer to as “a DISTURBINGLY GOOD movie”.

The Story

The Hunger Games is the screen adaptation of the first book of the same title in Suzanne Collins‘ bestselling trilogy (the other two being Mockingjay, and Catching Fire).

The story’s setting is the  post-apocalyptic country of Panem, comprised of a wealthy Capitol and 12 impoverished Districts. As punishment (or as a “reminder of peace”) for a rebellion staged against the Capitol, a boy and a girl aged 12 to 18 are chosen from each district via lottery to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a sort-of-reality show of a Death Match format held in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol where the 24 tributes (as what the participants are called) battle each other, gladiator style, until a lone victor remains. It centers on District 12’s tributes Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), (who volunteers as female tribute for their district after her younger sister Prim was chosen on her first year of eligibility) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a little of their families’ background stories (which are essential to understand their character) and how an unplanned partnership helps them change the course and rules of the game.

Cinematography and Characterization

After a “Star Wars-like” prologue(?), the film starts shakily as it introduces the characters. Yes, shakily, as if the movie was being filmed by someone with a bad case of arthritis. I really did not get Gary Ross’ intention of doing this. I am forced to believe, however, that it’s part of how he would like to depict District 12, destitute, poverty-stricken, disarrayed and a complete contrast of the wealthy, upscale Capitol.

Another very interesting observation to note is how different people’s clothing are in the districts and in the Capitol. Capitol citizens wear excessive, colorful, dresses and make up, as if to symbolize how money is never an issue for them. Inhabitants of the districts on the other hand wear the complete opposite – old, ragged, sometimes shabby clothes.

Fight scenes and “Killing” Scenes are remarkably executed. Although the movie’s appeal rely so much on the action, or like what I said at the beginning of this blog post – the “slashing, stabbing and jiujitsu-ing”, the director was able to tone it down a bit, without comprising visual impact.

Special effects, although not superbly created, are used sparingly all throughout the movie which gave it a more realistic, hence more serious feel.

The Actors

Part of the formula why I consider The Hunger Games a hit for me is its actors. The Hunger Games boasts of a well chosen lot who delivered solid performances as their respective characters. The following are definitely standouts for me:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen – I initially doubted the choice for Lawrence to play the lead role. What’s up with casting a 21-year old bombshell to play an assertive 15 year old girl? These two identities seemed very hard to reconcile  at first but scene after scene, Lawrence just proves me wrong. She kicks ass as Katniss. She can be tough and fierce, yet still be gentle and likable. And she exudes grace, power and sex appeal. There is just something about her eyes that won me over. They seem to convey her deepest thoughts, her experiences, and her past. The choice for Lawrence to play Katniss added ease to the storytelling as her brilliance in acting made me understand why Katniss is tough and why she had to be. Indeed, half the movie would’ve been a bore had she not been in the scenes.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket – Effie Trinket has got to be one of my favorite characters in the movie. Well, she’s not really that significant to the story but it would sure be hard not to notice Banks’ charisma as Effie. Well, in the first place, who wouldn’t take a second look at a woman wearing pink wig, clown-like make up, and a bright purple dress? Banks seemed to have a good understanding of her character and delivered a performance that one will definitely remember.

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman – Tucci is definitely the perfect choice for Flickerman. He was fun to watch, and the scenes where he had to interview the Tributes appeared to be footages taken from actual interviews. It all seemed very natural.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark  – If I had doubts about Lawrence playing Katniss, I was totally convinced that Hutcherson would be no good as Peeta. The first half of his appearances did not really do anything to disprove my initial impression of him, but as the story progressed, he gradually fitted to the character. As it turns out, Hutcherson was an excellent choice as well.

My list includes Lenny Kravitz as the stylist Cinna and Malcolm Mcdowell as President Snow who were able to make lasting impressions despite the little exposure they had in the film.

My Rating

Judging as someone who has only read the first 7 pages of the book, this film definitely won’t disappoint fans and soon-to-be-fans of the series. With fast-paced storytelling; 142- minutes of morbid fight scenes  (a plus for me) and pure riveting action; CGI’s, special effects and a romantic angle kept at a minimum; and an ensemble of perfectly cast actors playing the roles, The Hunger Games succeeds in selling its interesting story rather than capitalize solely on leading actors’ chemistry onscreen. A good enough initial offering.

The Hunger Games

Marso 24, 2012

1)It never really occurred to me that The Hunger Games was already showing in the country.

2)In fact, I was not even aware that it has started its opening date a couple of days ago.

3)Also, I did not know that I had already arranged plans of watching this movie . I totally forgot about it, that the only time I was convinced I did commit was when we were already in the theaters.

So everything went against how I originally planned it. I had wanted to see the adaptation after I am done reading the book. Not being aware of my “deadlines” I only got to finish the first 7 or so pages, thinking that I’d have plenty of time to read the whole book since the film, from what I thought I know, won’t be shown anytime soon.

Needless to say, I saw the movie first.

Watching The Hunger Games without something to compare it with, for me is “weird”. I like imagining things, and the most probable effect it will have on me the moment I decide to read the book again  is to match every scene with how it was depicted in the movie.

So what do I think about it? DISTURBING. I’ll enumerate the reasons why + a review of the film on my next post. (I ‘m trying hard not to keep my eyes close before I finish this.)

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Marso 23, 2012

The Lorax: Which way, does a tree fall?

The Once-ler: Down?

The Lorax: It falls the way it leans. Be careful where you lean.

-The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

 I almost decided not to watch this movie. After seeing Corazon: Ang Alamat ng Unang Aswang, I went out of the cinemas, got out of the mall and headed straight to the terminal where I would be getting on an FX to go home. I checked my watch, it was a little past 8:50. Arriving there, I saw an enormous crowd lining up for the next “trip” going to Sta. Ana (the place where I live). Being the Math teacher that I am, I tried doing a quick estimate of the time by which the people in front of me would be “served” by the FX. Overwhelmed, I told myself that I would not make it home in an hour or so with the sea of people before me. Well, I honestly don’t know if the line was really that long or if it was probably because I realized I had wanted to see the movie so much that I exaggerated and imagined the line to be like that, intentionally doing a wrong estimate. At that point I didn’t care. I just felt like I had to see it. So I decided to get in the mall once again, and  I dashed up to the theaters like no one’s watching. I ran, and for a moment forgot about how silly I looked to other people or how much risk there was for using the escalator as stairs – skipping some steps on my way.

I reached the theaters in about 4 minutes and bought my ticket.

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I am a child at heart, so if there are movies I would most likely appreciate, it would be animated films. I never really got to see these kinds of films when I was young so I guess it’s only now that I am trying to enjoy, in a way, this aspect of one’s childhood. So instead of doing a review that would only be biased, I will just enumerate those lines from this film (just like the one above), which are standouts  for me.

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Ted: The last seed?

The Lorax: It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.

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The Lorax: I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues…

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The Once-ler: When a boy does a stupid thing once… It’s because he’s a boy… But when he does a stupid thing twice, it’s because of a girl.

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The Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.

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Happy viewing!

Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang Review

Marso 18, 2012

Last Friday, after hearing a lot of stressful and disheartening news from work, and as I have planned the night before, I decided to reward myself from a week of hard work and cheer myself up by dropping by the theaters to check on what is presently showing. From the six films currently being shown, I limited my options to two: Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang and Dr. Seuss’ Lorax. I had a very hard time deciding so I actually ended up watching both films, one after the other.

The first one I saw was Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang topbilled by Erich Gonzales and Derek Ramsay and produced by Star Cinema. Honestly, I have been anticipating to watch this film since the time I saw its trailer a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued as to how a story which centers on a theme that is ever-so-familiar to the common Filipino and which has been adapted countless numbers of times in films be retold to the increasing number of more critical viewers. As the title suggests, the movie will be about the aswang, and I will bet my finger on it that if you are Filipino, you have at least seen a horror movie featuring these creatures. That is why before watching it, I told myself that the main challenge to the director (Richard V. Somes) is to present a different treatment to this otherwise ubiquitous theme.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around the couple Corazon and Daniel from a barrio called Magdalena, who in their five-year marriage hoped nothing more than having their own child. The couple exhausts all means possible to realize this dream, which included the search of a woman from another barrio (Maria Isabel Lopez) whom Corazon’s former midwife referred to as someone who can help her conceive. Different from her former midwife’s approach, this woman was said to help couples by using miracles – specifically a devotion to San Gerardo. This devotion requires a two-week sacrifice that only Corazon can perform, without asking assistance from her husband. After the task is completed, Corazon miraculously conceives,  which added bliss to the couple’s marriage. This was short-lived, however, as things start to take a turn for the worse when Corazon finally gives birth and finds her child dead.

Her world shattered, Corazon turns her back from her faith.  She felt betrayed that despite all her sacrifices, God was not able to grant the one thing she has ever wanted. Corazon retreats to the forest to the very place where her vow to sacrifice was first made, swearing by her dead child that children from their town will be cursed.

Cinematography

The film’s cinematography complimented the era  (set in the circa 1940’s) when the events supposedly took place. Unlike Asiong Salonga which was on black-and-white the entire film, the film utilized colors which would definitely remind the moviegoer of spending afternoons in the province or in front of the beach when the sun is just about to set. The colors, the lights, and the set had the feel of an old barrio untouched by civilization. The cinematography is in fact my second favorite element of the film. I believe that for movies with themes like this, capturing the right mood for the audience is as essential as a gripping story line.

The Characters

Erich Gonzales gave a pretty decent job as the main character. Judging from her previous stints in films and on TV, her performance in Corazon showcases a remarkable improvement. Although there were parts when I did not find her acting that believable, specially in scenes where more depth was required (for instance, when she found out her child was dead and when she expressed her regrets when she was not able to fulfill her father’s last wish before he died, where her eyes streaming with tears proved insufficient to convey deep anguish ), her portrayal of Corazon as the aswang is more than enough to compensate for this.  I could not imagine someone else playing the same role without coming off as overacting and unrealistic. In fact, I believe Gonzales turned out to be the perfect choice for the role.

Derek Ramsay on the other hand was just okay as Daniel. Numerous times in the film, one would hope for a better execution for the role. Daniel in my opinion is a very interesting character, troubled by inner conflicts, and his undying love for his wife. This in my opinion calls for a more sophisticated, not-over-the-top, but not underacted delivery from the one portraying it and Ramsay unfortunately failed to meet these. It is good to mention, however, that Ramsay, if not for anything is the one who had shown the most effort in this film. One can clearly see his eagerness to do well in every scene and how hard he tries to achieve what is expected of his character.

The Aswang

But the highlight of this movie is not the cinematography.  Nor are the actors, or the story. The best element would be the execution of the aswang. Personally, it has surpassed my expectations, whatever they were of how the aswang should really be.

Unlike the usual depiction of the aswang in previous films – extremely ugly with a wrinkled face which seems to have been hit by a baseball bat at least fifty times, equipped with wolf-like fangs, half-bodied with enormous bat wings, and transforming by the application of oil all over the body – Somes’ aswang is surprisingly more human.   As if to break stereotype, it is not how Corazon looked that made her terrifying but what she does to her victims. The tandem of Somes and Gonzales just pulled this off excellently without being corny and implausible. While watching Corazon, I can not help but think that there before my eyes was the perfect presentation of the creature. It was so much similar to the ordinary person which for me made it more realistic and believable. I was convinced that Corazon’s transformation to the monster she has become is the closest depiction of the aswang there could possibly be.

If you are watching this movie to give yourself a good fright, this is not the one for you. It sure was able to elicit a few screams from the audience (specially after Corazon’s transformation), but I guess the film is not primarily designed for this purpose.

This is anything but a  horror story, I daresay. Rather, it is an interesting and convincing take on how this classic creature, which we so oftentimes fail to connect to our very own selves, came about. It is a reminder that within each and everyone of us, is a small voice, waiting for the right time and opportunity, to lure us to embrace the dark side and become the worst monsters we could think of.

Introductions!

Marso 17, 2012

“huli man raw at magaling naihahabol rin. ..

…basta’t papampam at may dating, naisisingit rin.”

First blog. So i guess it is but appropriate that the first page would be about the one who created it – ME. Bukod sa sadya akong makasarili, pag rumatsada agad ako ng post ng kung anu-ano rito nang hindi nagpapakilala eh para naman akong nakikain sa birthday ng kapitbahay na bago lang lipat. (labo ng analogy, potek, korni)

Halimbawa na lang pinatulan nyo yong kakornihang yon. Ang punto ko na lang, walang pakialamanan.Page ko to kaya pwede kong isulat lahat ng gusto ko

Por di getting-to-know-you portion, let me sheyr sam random facts abawt me. (Disclaimer: Mahaba ‘to. Sabi nga ng mga nagtitinda sa Home Shopping Network pag tumawag ka agad, “Not just one, not two, not three, but many to mention!” ) FACTS YOU!
SAVING THE WORLD FROM IGNORANCE

OH YEAH. I am a teacher. For two years now, I have been teaching Mathematics to high school students. I find it a little ironic (and my friends also do) that I am actually part of the teaching profession. That is if I take into consideration two things about myself: (1) me as a student, and (2) my disinterest for anything that deals with numbers.

 RASON NUMERO UNO.Napapangiti talaga ko ‘pag naalala ko ako kung paano ako nung nag-aaral pa ko. Not that I was an irresponsible student (Nakakapagpasa naman ako ng project at asaynment at nagreresayt rin paminsan-minsan). However, I was one student who was very critical of my teachers. I had an unusual obsession with seeing them commit mistakes – even the slightest ones. I’ve kept a record of all of their errors, from their speech (Geometry Teacher: “The ENDFOYNT of a segment…”), to their grammar (“Deees IS the COLORS of the prajek.”) and even the manner they present themselves in class (pasok prof sa Prof Ed, si Dr. R na bukas-sara ng zipper sa harap naming lahat o kaya si 3rd Year History Teacher na papasok sa klaseng halata mong kakatapos lang kumain ng escabecheng tilapia dahil kuntodo sa pagsipsip ng ngipin para mag-alis ng tinik). Hindi rin malilimutan ang makasaysayang dami ng beses na nagsabi sila ng NOH sa dulo ng bawat pangungusap.
RASON NUMERO DOS. I never liked Math in my lower years in school. (Disclaimer: I never failed Math. Exhibit A: I was one of the fortunate few whose head was spared from being hit by the makasaysayang 90-page thick Practice Booklet sa Math in Grade 5.Exhibit B: Ligtas rin ang graping notbuk ko sa paglipad sa T.I. (Tabing Ilog) nung Grade 6.) But I am able to perform in the subject. Sadya lang na hindi ako singhusay nung katabi kong si Edhelbert na kumakain ng calculator nung elementary o ni Ken Lester na nagkamit ng titulong Answer Key ni Ms. Soriano Award nung hayskul ako.

RYAN, RYAN MUSIKAHAN

Hindi Ryan ang pangalan ko. Tsaka sa tanda ko, pamagat yan ng dating palabas ni maestro Ryan Cayabyab. Trip ko lang gamiting pang-emphasize ng point na mahilig ako sa music. Hehe. Pero may kuya akong pangalan eh Ryan. Pero wag na natin syang pakialaman. Ang gusto ko lang sabihin mahilig ako sa music.

Marunong akong mag-flute. Tsaka kumapa ng 3 chords sa gitara. Nalilimutan ko pa nga madalas eh. Frustration ko yon eh. Maging musikero. Pakiramdam ko kasi papasang pang-plaka yung boses ko. Pakiramdam ko lang yon. Tawag sakin nung 4th year high school Rico Blanco. Hindi ko alam kung bakit ko pa nabanggit to pero siguro dahil sa mayabang ako. Tinawag akong Rico Blanco kasi ako unang nakakabisa nung You’ll Be Safe Here tsaka dahil siguro na rin magkasing kapal mga labi namen.

ME AND MY “weird” THOUGHTS

I had a group back in high school and we called ourselves ORA PRONOBIS (Latin for Pray for Us). I never really saw it as a gang primarily because the people I was with were far from being juvenile delinquents (we were more like a bunch of losers). I just want to call it a group because  I honestly have no other way to label it. How we came about, I am not sure. We certainly did not share a lot of interests. But what we all have is a common fondness to anything weird and random. And even our name was random. Where my classmate got it, I have no idea. My point in saying this? Well, if you find anything weird here, it’s natural.

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So what am I here for you may ask? Well, I just want to start a blog about the books I have read and the movies I have seen.  I just love myself so much that I want to keep an archive of what I think of things, and how I view the world at large. This would mostly contain reviews of books I have recently read or movies I have recently seen but also expect random posts here and there. So yeah, Bye. Show me some love!

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uuuuuuyyyyyyy…. bitin s’ya. Oh eto pa.