Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jack-Jack Strengthens the Famcentric 'Incredibles 2'

Incredibles 2 begins where the first one ends, wherein the arrival of a new villain in town called The Underminer wreaks havoc. The titular family once again don their superhero costumes to save the town. But since the first one ends happily ever after, and they, yet again successfully prevent The Underminer to cause destruction, writer-director Brad Bird creates another conflict for the Parr family.

It's a new day in Metroville, and superheroes are forced to permanently comply to their secret identities. We can all just imagine the effect of this to "The Incredibles" and to no surprise, we are right--Mr. Incredible becomes heavy-headed as the homedad cluelessly dealing with Violet's teenage problems, Dash's Math homework, and Jack-Jack discovering his incredible superpowers. Even worse, his wife Elastigirl is selected to be the forefront of DEVTECH, a private organization allegedly proposing a blueprint to reclaim the public's love for superheroes, and it makes Mr. Incredible even more insecure.

Mr. Incredible and Jack-Jack, Pixar
The focus is more on Elastigirl, the DEVTECH tycoons and their marketing stunt to put the heroes in good light. Bad news is it's pretty unremarkable. Good news is, her absence in the Parr household opens up interesting side storylines. Mr. Incredible having a hard time controlling his kids is a joy to watch. Violet's teenybopper puppy love arc is really cute, and her awkward relationship with her dad is even cuter, as cliché as it may have played out. But the cutest is, without a doubt, Jack-Jack unknowingly discovering his superpowers, which apparently is the best, since it's a combo of his whole family's powers. This paves way for a funny and heroic Tully-esque role for Edna Mode. All of these make up for the lackluster Elastigirl/DEVTECH story that involves a villain called ScreenSlaver, and other newly introduced D-lister superheroes except for Sophia Bush's eccentric but helpful Voyd who has the same magical teleport power like Doctor Strange.

The movement of the film is smarter and faster this time, but the third act really picks up bigtime when the fast track action starts to kick in. The animation is even more impressive, slick, and gorgeous, especially with the reddish sunset sky in the background during the high-strung climax. "The Incredibles" work best when all of their superpowers are in display, and with the addition of Jack-Jack's superpowers, they become even more invincible. Add Frozone's icy display, and it superbly matches CGI packed actions films of today, and to be honest, put others to shame.

It's also really commendable the lack of emotional punch in this as if it's the film's twists as we all know that Pixar is known for its dramatics. It's pure comedy and action and I love it for it. I'd rather watch a film with harmless family jokes than offensive ones with Deadpool in it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

'Ocean's 8' is Unabashedly Funny, Dainty and Criminal

Ocean's 8, Photo Credit: "Warner Bros. Pictures."
Everything is a heist for Debbie Ocean, and once she got out of prison, she hasn’t changed her ways. Her intentions on the other hand is another story, as she plans to execute the ultimate robbery 5 years in the making. She plans to rob a jewelry necklace worth $150 million, and she only needs eight to do it. No hims allowed,

The film starts with Sandra Bullock’s Debbie, the sister of the infamous Danny Ocean, trying to trick her way out of prison through her manipulative rhetorics, saying she wants a simpler life after her five years, eight months and 12 days of imprisonment. It's bullshit. She’s the opposite of simple like she claims to be. Good news is we are never led to believe that she's changed and instead, we are encouraged to be with her along her thefty ways. Voila, as soon she gets out of prison, she performs the easiest, funniest and my favorite among the neverending heist in this film, setting the tone of what the film has to offer.

As soon as she gets reunited with her partner-in-crime, Cate Blanchett's Lou, you can just FEEL the star wattage power wearing out on you from the silver screen. Their power is real or it's just me fanning. Bullock and Blanchett together are incredible, even when they do not do much aside from talk, be glamorous, and be unapologetically deceptive as hell. Blanchett in particular doesn’t have the most scene-stealing material, but her chill persona with a calm & collected attitude, is remarkably sexy and regal, enigmatic even. Different from her past roles, but first-rate as always.

Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger, and Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Weil
Photo Credit: "Warner Bros. Pictures."
Then there’s Anne Hathaway as the ditzy, narcissistic celebrity Daphne Kluger (are they shading Diane Kruger?), giving one of her best comedic performances to date. As soon as she gets introduced, the film assures that the audience is set for a hilarious ride. Hathaway delivers the sex and the laugh-out-loud laffos while adding beauty and glam to the overall dirtiness of the heist. We get to see what Hathaway is first known for and what she does best. Comedy. And here, she's a hoot.

The rest kick ass, they all do. Rihanna as the group’s hacker, may be silent but her scene stealing shot comes at the peak of their robbery when she is dressed incredibly elegant in the MET gala. How appropriate is that? Sarah Paulson as the team’s insider of the event is also great as expected, and Awkwafina’s comedics make a mark. There's something off about Helena Bonham Carter. She seems a bit out-of-place but okay overall, I guess. It’s Mindy Kaling that gets the least action but some of her one-liners are good enough to be remembered.

The comedy here is non-stop and so are the tricks. It's unabashedly funny, dainty and criminal all throughout the film. The heist, however, may not be as impressive as others, it’s pretty basic. Luckily, this is really a film about the cast and a job well done to Gary Ross and the ensemble for juicing out the best in each of them. No preachy statement needed, this film only wants us to have a good time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Grab Some Popcorn, 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Escapes the Park!

Dinosaurs are a thing of the past, literally. But thanks to Steven Spielberg, it continues to live on. It's been 25 years since Jurassic Park and it's still one of the best blockbusters ever. Whether you're a curious child or a mere adult, Spielberg made dinosaurs even more interesting as they are. And now, it's a franchise and on its fifth installment.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Three years after Jurassic World was wrecked by unleashed dinosaurs, and of course, greedy human beings, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard) are back to save the same dinosaurs that made them miserable from Isla Nublar's roaring volcano, Mount Sibo. Owen wants to save his raptor Blue, and Claire made it a mission to protect them.

Dinosaurs plus raging Mother Nature plus humanity's selfishness, it's a recipe for a popcorn-grabbing disaster. Helmed by J.A. Bayona, I knew this would be in good hands. He's not a freshman when it comes to disaster films as his The Impossible is one of the greats and not to mention, it's very emotional. Bayona knows how to make great action sequences that puts you on the edge of your seat. Fallen Kingdom has a lot of them, and it's hectic, stimulating, and nerve-wracking.

Once they got out of the island, Bayona finds more ways to make this even more interesting and unfortunately for haters, fuels the franchise's longevity. Like The Lost World, the dinosaurs and the heroes find themselves out of containment. This time, they were held captive in a hidden facility in a grand mansion ala monsters and horrors in Cabin in the Woods, for sale. It's interesting stuff and the exhilarating chase scenes continue to excite and terrify.

Bryce Dallas-Howard as Claire Dearing in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
 Photo Credits: Universal Pictures

The duo of Owen and Claire are compelling to boot. Their side hidden-desire-for-each-other love story isn't overblown, and the humor is always present yet reserved. But even as individuals, they deliver. Introduced via her running stilettos, Bryce Dallas-Howard's Claire Dearing (who btw made my top 25 of 2015's Best Movie Characters) is as appealing as ever. It's as if they didn't expect her to be a big deal in Jurassic World that they made it up for her in this film by giving her more material to be cute and badass. Jeff Goldblum also makes an appearance as Dr. Ian Malcolm preaching the ignorance of humanity for letting dinosaurs live further and emphasizing they they don't need our protection, rather they need our absence.

Overall, this is one of my favorites in the franchise. Heck, Jurassic World 3, the franchise's worst reviewed film is my favorite so take that as you may. One thing's for sure, this one will have you sipping on your drinks at the movies, and that's what matters to me when it comes to dinosaurs. It will never be as smart and as epic and as classic as Jurassic Park, it may even be forgettable (who knows?), but it sure as hell is entertaining.

Friday, May 18, 2018

'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a Cinematic Flippers Empire

Tobias Beckett told Han Solo, "Presume everyone will betray you and you will never be disappointed.". At first, it's like something you'll hear from a reality show like Survivor or Big Brother, but nope, it's another 'Star Wars story' and it's action-packed, momentous and exciting.

Photo credit: Lucasfilms
Before his return in The Force Awakens, Han Solo is one of the most beloved movie characters even before most of my age was born. After his heartbreaking demise, it just feels somewhat right to make a solo Han Solo movie. Lucasfilms made it possible, and despite all the negative rumors we've heard about it, the result is accomplished and actually answers some of the questions we did not bother to ask.

Solo: A Star Wars Story did not waste time in making Han Solo as epic as Luke Skywalker, or as heroic as Jyn Erso. Instead it rivets Han's not so humble beginnings in his ambition to fly to the galaxy, and padlocks the core of his friendship with his Wookie co-pilot, Chewbacca, and notorious smuggler, Lando. As he mentioned, "I'm a terrible person.". No he's not but he's as flawed as any other deserter in the Star Wars cinematic universe.

Alden Ehrenreich's young Han may not have totally captured Harrison Ford's essence, but his rowdy and boyish antics somehow works. If anything, he reminds me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and that's definitely a compliment. Donald Glover as the original 'Millennium Falcon' owner & Han's smuggling nemesis but eventual sidekick Lando is also fun to watch. So fun, I wouldn't mind another Star Wars story starring Lando but let's not go there when we still have Yoda and Obi Wan. The film also stars Woody Harrelson as the hardworker entrepreneur Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra, Han Solo's childhood friend/girlfriend in their origin planet Corellia, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany, fresh from MCU.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms
In a way, Solo is a cinematic flippers empire for its flip-flopping twists and scenarios. It's not only true for Han not to trust anyone, but it also holds true for the audience not to trust what seems to be certain. There are notable gasps and rejoices all throughout the cinema because of it. It bridges gaps from the other Star Wars films that are actually okay to be left as is, but this addition feels genuinely gratifying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ranking CineFilipino 2018 feature-length films

1. Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus (Dwein Baltazar)
A tragedy about hopeless humans of Quiapo disguised as a comedy. Almost plotless but very intriguing. Iana Bernardez as Aileen, a vessel of male desire in the heart of Quiapo, is as beguiling as her mother Angel Aquino. Pretty much the whole ensemble aka the men going gaga for Aileen's attention, are entertaining. I've never seen shots of Quiapo alive, colorful and easy on the eyes since my classmates' thesis in college.

2. The Eternity Between Seconds (Alec Figuracion)
A welcome addition to the growing list of films about two strangers changing each other's lives, while having meaningful, thought-provoking conversations in between. I refuse to call it a copycat even though it was apparent that it's heavily influenced by the likes of Linklater's Before Sunrise and Coppola's Lost in Translation except this time it's beautifully shot in South Korea, with a hypnotic score, steady vibe aura, and an unexpected chemistry between Yeng Constantino and TJ Trinidad. I love its theme of fleeting but deep-rooted happiness.

3. Mata Tapang (Rod Cabataña Marmol)
Its theme of brotherhood reminds me of Last Flag Flying, not to mention its numerous use of curse and sex jokes. But Mata Tapang tackles beyond that as it delves into the existence of its characters--a closeted soldier, a family man, and a lover in a complicated relationship. It also reminds me of Ghost for its unfinished business arc and poignant conclusion. It’s commendable for not shying away from concepts of surrealism that are parallel with existentialist premises. Talky but always articulate.

4. Hitboy (Bor Ocampo)
Unapologetically goofy, and the actors are fully committed to it. But it's Mon Confiado that steals the whole film and to be honest, it's starting to become a trend. From Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa to El Peste, Confiado is ready to poke fun at himself while being serious in doing it. Hitboy has a lot of potential, but it struggles to find humanity because of its overly silly style. I would have dug it more if they went full throttle with the crazies. "Confiado. Swabesito. Pero Peligroso" it is.

5. Excuse Me Po (Ronald Battalones)
Before it became the unexpected feel good movie of 2018, Battalones' Excuse Me Po seems like another character study about  humans living in poverty. Compelling and hilarious until it shifted its gear. An acting showcase for La Oro as she plays a woman who lives as if she’s acting in front of the cameras. She's great though and one can tell that she's enjoying her character. Too bad the shift in tone completely turned this movie upside down, but it's still very likable despite its inconsistencies.

6. Delia & Sammy (Theresa Cayaba)
Detailed in its character study but distant in its storytelling. Punchlines and hearttuggers are off timing and just when it’s about to get devastatingly good, it becomes too silly and corny for its own good. Still, a decent comeback for Rosemarie Gil, and a good showing for both Jaime Fabregas and Nico Antonio. Anthony Falcon is also commendable for his small role as a transwoman, especially after seeing his macho-weirdo turn in Hypothalamus.

7. Poon (Roni S. Benaid)
The good thing about horror movies is it can still be considered good even if it's bad. Bad horror movies tend to be comedic, and Poon definitely delivers the chuckles. Make no mistake as it actually has a good premise and a great twist that no one saw coming. It's just the execution that makes this weaker than its potential. I cannot really complain much since movies like this paves way for actors and actresses comebacks. Poon gave Glydel Mercado a lot of material to show her acting chops.

8. Mga Mister ni Rosario (Alpha Habon)
Kate Alejandrino is charming as hell and the story has heart but it’s also too silly to be taken seriously. There is a lot of potential for this to be good but it always go the humane & romance route when the movie demands it to be campy and fun. The film struggles to find balance to do both and the result is a bit of a letdown.

My Winners:

Best Film
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Director
Dwein Ruedas Baltazar, Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Actress
Iana Bernardez, Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Actor
TJ Trinidad, The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Ensemble
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Supporting Actress
Ritz Azul, Mata Tapang

Best Supporting Actor
Mon Confiado, Hitboy

Best Screenplay
The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Cinematography
The Eternity Between Seconds

Best Production Design
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Editing
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Musical Score
Gusto Kita With All My Hyphotalamus

Best Sound Design
The Eternity Between Seconds