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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Praybeyt Benjamin

Vice Ganda has been an icon since he has invaded the boob tube with his sarcastic remarks. Vice has been considered one of the best stand up comedians the country has ever had. He may be the most successful among those who ventured in showbiz. With 1 successful movie listed in his resume, he is sure to come back for another adventure. Now he is back as Praybeyt (Private) Benjamin in this new comedy by Viva and Star Cinema.

Praybeyt is a movie about a gay man trying to regain his family honor. His ancestors were war heroes dated back during the time of Lapu-Lapu to the revolutions during the Spanish and Japanese invasion. Lolo Benjamin (Grandpa Benjamin) played brilliantly by Eddie Garcia is in need of a successor for the legacy that the Bejamins had for centuries, however, this line is severed when he knew that his only grandson (Vice Ganda) is gay.When the terrorists kidnapped all the generals, Vice had no choice but to join the army and save not only his grandfather but a country torn by war.

Judging by how the movie is made, it is a product of  what they call "pito-pito." (Movies done in a span of 7 days). No new plots were introduced and can be as generic as any movie could get. This modern day MULAN is a disgrace to the Disney classic. The plot is so similar except for some of the subplots. Disney may not be able to sue Star Cinema and Viva since they change the characters but then... With underdeveloped script, this movie is an epic fail. The jokes are even less funny than Petrang Kabayo. It was Vice Ganda's usual antics that saved the movie. His epic comedic timing tried to save what the movie has left. Jimmy Santos is such a sight. To see him back in the silver screen and bringing back the traditional Filipino comedic stints is refreshing. Kean Cipriano and Nikki Valdez's characters are enjoyable to watch.

I have no problem with Vice Ganda's antics, this is his signature as a comedian, however, how long will this trend last? This antic may still be a hit today, but in the next movies that Vice will be having, I hope he will give out something fresh, something new. He is still enjoyable to watch and that makes this movie very bearable.

Wenn Deramas has been regarded as a good director for comedy since the release of Ang Tanging Ina but after the success of the latter, he seemed to be lazier with his succeeding films and fails to deliver a movie with the highest quality. There are some scenes that are shot carelessly (i.e. take a good look at the scene where Andrew Wolfe was shot and was lying dead, you could see him swallow his saliva). How is that for careless editing and direction?

The movie may deliver a lot of laughs. The comedy is the diversion of how bad this movie was. Vice Ganda was the beauty behind the trash of which this movie is made. I blame Wenn Deramas for not properly executing the justice the actors deserve to have. There are a lot of potential for the characters, the director just don't know where to start with. With this I am compelled to make a grade separate from the movie and the actors who has done their part well.

Movie: D-
Actors: B

Paranormal Activity 3

I have always been a fan of horror movies since the release of The Ring somewhere 2003. From that time on, I managed to develop a certain resistance to horror movies. Paranormal Activity 1 never failed me on my first viewing and I consider it as one of the most successful horror films ever made. The first installment was only made with only $10-15k and was able to make money in the box office. No one dared to touch the film until Spielberg's Dreamworks decided to put the film into the test and eventually they made a lot of profit from the movie. Now, they are turning it into a franchise, just like Halloween and Friday the 13th. The first film was a success both on the box office and delivering a chilling horror film. PA2 (Paranormal Activity 2) was then released with heightened anticipation however, I personally do not find the sequel that good, it is watchable but not certainly a movie you can put on a shelf as part of your DVD collection.

Paranormal Activity 3 is somewhat different from the previous 2 films which consist mainly of events which happened on a single timeline. PA3 on the other hand, has back stories and has more characters in it and allowed more in depth character development. It seems that the producers wants to tell a story and not just report the events that has happened inside the house. PA3 dwells on a family of 4 who recently settled into their brand new home. A typical family until things become a bit creepy. They filmed the whole house for the whole time and found out eerie situations.

The first 30 minutes of the movie consists of character build up however, it has become so disconnected that I find it boring. Everyone wanted to get scared and I was waiting for the moment. It was not until on the second half that I was able to feel the tension. Unlike in the previous PA, this one dwells too much on building up familial relations which has no connection to the story whatsoever. The events that lead to the climax does not even follow the relationships that was established in the first part of the movie.

The actors who played in the movie could've been more believable.This is one of the weakness of the franchise: selecting unknown actors who could not play the part that well. One exception are the kids who played in this movie.

Although there is an incorporation of twists in this movie which is somewhat new to the franchise, PA3 succeeded in its mission to scare you out.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Real Steel

I have been a fan of Robot movies since I was in grade school. I first fell in love with the genre back when I first saw Short Circuit with Number 15. I don't know if you can still remember him. Then there was the adorable David from Artificial Intelligence, and Andrew from Bicentennial Man, which was, by the way, the first robot who made me shed a tear.

When I first saw the trailer for Real Steel, I was a bit skeptical with the title, which I believe could've been improved in one way or another, but then, the title won't speak of the entirety of the film.With its lead, Hugh Jackman, the film could attract more viewers without even looking at the title of the film.

The movie is set in the near future, around 2020 or even later, where Boxing is an obsolete sport for men but a trend for robots.Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a former boxer who now works with Robots to compete on underground boxing matches. During his road trip, he encountered two men with news that his wife is dead and he was left with his 11 year-old child whom he had not seen since birth. He was prepared to give up the child from his custody and decided to leave the child with his aunt for a price.Charlie is set for a challenge when he has to take care of his child for the entire summer along with 100 grand. After a series of losses and Charlie nearing to declare bankruptcy, they accidentally stumbled upon a sparring robot, who, by the determination of his kid, Max, was able to conquer the impossible and that is to become one of the best fighter.

One of the strengths of the movie is that it has provided enough characterization for the lead. This is not the type where metals are clinkering like junk from a metal shop. The conflict with Charlie's character, as he struggles with financial problems and his fatherly responsibilities is very convincing. Atom (the robot), also provides a human-like charisma. This is one underdog story where its viewer may not be aware of. Dakota Goyo who played Max is even better as the sarcastic, stubborn kid who can outshine Jaden Smith.

Real Steel is not your typical action movie. It combines a witty comedy and an exceptional combination of technology with a satisfying character development with its protagonist. Though the film may feel so generic, this movie excels in making the audience feel involved with the characters. It is also satisfying to see that the robots featured in the movie does not have that 3D feel, they were actually animatronics, and from that point, they have succeeded. This is one robot film that could kick the last 2 Transformers movie. I have more fun with Real Steel than Transformers 2 and 3 combined.

The credit goes to Shawn Levy, whom I mistakenly identified as "Eugene Levy." Shawn made good movies like Date Night, which I adore a lot, and Cheaper by The Dozen and the not so good Night at the Museum series. Real Steel is the movie for those who still have hangovers with the Summer movies. I, for one, is very impressed with the message of the movie which is the importance of family but most of all the concept where human intelligence and capacity is far greater than any machine we are now dependent with.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

No Other Woman

There is a new fad in the Philippine Cinema - it's infidelity. For the past 5 years or so, we are bombarded with cheesy romantic-comedies from Star Cinema featuring the hottest love teams and they were a hit most of the time. The formula is all the same, they only differ in terms of the plot and the actors but the story ends up how fantasy goes. During those years, we see movies with titles like Dubai, and Milan. It is a good thing it did not push through. Star Cinema could've made 80 movies or so of all the countries you can find.

After the success of the Korea-novela Temptations of Wife and Fierce Wife, movie producers discovered that this plot has caught public attention. With the release of Neighbor's Wife, Star Cinema released their own version of infidelity with No Other Woman which stars Christine Reyes, Derek Ramsay and Anne Curtis.

The story is so generic. They hype did its job well. I watched the movie because it has generated rave reviews from people who watched the movie. The formula: married couple + liberal woman = chaos. Christine is casted as the legal wife of Derek and Anne is the liberated heiress who is up for enjoyment. She had a rule: Never fall in love, but as usual, laws like this are made to be violated - basing on how movies work. Derek and Anne are both tormented by family which eventually made them find themselves comfortable with each other. Christine, however, is totally a miscast among them. I have one critic with Christine, she has to improve pronunciations and it seems she is a bit uncomfortable with her role. Anne definitely lives up with her role and give justice to which the role requires her. Carmi Martin provided comic relief with the funniest, most realistic lines in the movie.

The movie started strong but the confrontations between Anne and Christine combines almost all telenovela's made and somehow made it more "pang-masa." I have problems with cinematography. It made me feel nostalgic in some scenes especially the scene where Derek was hit by Anne with a jet ski where the camera took an aerial shot, it was so 80s. If the cinematography was to be translated on how a singer sings a song, I would describe it pitchy.

I was not able to finish the movie to its conclusion. I find myself looking at one scene where it happened to me and made me uncomfortable. It seems that the reactions of all parties are so common and I immediately knew how each character react to the situation. The movie conveyed a very powerful message it sank right through me. The movie may be remembered for a short period of time but it will not take hold of the position that Filipino classics are now enjoying.