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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bourne Legacy

 
I was never a viewer of the Bourne Series nor a reader of Robert Ludlum's confused hero, I just don't understand how Ludlum writes and so, I was not able to relate with the hype behind the 4th installment aside from the fact that it features our country in the plot. What made me really curious is how they were able to make action scenes in the busy streets of Manila and not with the character it was based on. So during the weekend, I made it a point that I will be able to watch the first 3 installments first before viewing The Bourne Legacy.

The 4th installment is different in so many ways. First, this does not feature the Jason Bourne arc since Matt Damon is not signed with this movie due to the reason that he would only reprise the role if Paul Greengrass, director of the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum would return to helm this 4th installment. Second, this is the only Bourne Movie based on the novel not made by Ludlum. Third, it lacks the excitement that all 3 movies has. 

While we are still enthralled with how the "Jason Bourne" series has eveolve throughout the series, Bourne Legacy takes an alternate route and somehow misses the big hit it is supposed to enjoy. Bourne Legacy follows Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), who is a member of Operation Outcome program. This program aims physical and mental enhancement within its members through 2 pills. When the subjects dies mysteriously, Cross now struggles for survival as he uncovers its relation to the Operation Treadstone and Blackbrier.

This is Tony Gilroy's first directorial job for a Bourne Series after serving as the previous film's main screenwriter. This could have been a great advantage for the Bourne Legacy since Gilroy has been really good with the 3 films. However, the Legacy was dragging for its first 40-minute ran. Bourne fans may expect the same adrenaline as the previous movies, however, Legacy failed to deliver. The strength of the trilogy was the great balance with action and an impressive plot development. Lagacy, however, maintained stagnant for its first hour and just when the things are getting better, you hear that familiar sound in the background signaling the end of the film. 

The common denominator among the Bourne films are the car chases. In Legacy, Manila came into ranks with France as the venue for the vehicular chases. Though there is no question that it was a great sequence, it was the only thing watchable in the film, the only proof that we are indeed watching a Bourne movie.

It was nice to see Manila in a Hollywood film. It was nice to see local actors doing their thing. It was nice that we were once in a mainstream Hollywood film, however, Bourne Legacy is not even half of the previous films. It lacks the genius behind the series, it lacks the "Bourne-ness." Filipinos will be delighted to see Manila in the silverscreen, but Bourne Legacy is the installment almost - "almost" at par with Superman: A Quest for Peace.

GRADE: C

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Monday, August 6, 2012

The Healing

Chito Rono has been around the horror movie scene for years perfecting each craft after each movie that he makes. It was back in 2003 when he directed the flick which reopened the doors to the fading genre in Filipino Cinema. This year, Chito Rono comes back to the genre he is very familiar with. After T2's success, Rono is yet to prove that he is indeed a master of horror/suspense in Pinoy movies.

The Healing follows the story of Seth (Vilma Santos) who helped her friends overcome various health problems with the aid of a "faith healer." Unknowingly, a curse follows the healing which eventually met the demise of those who were healed by the healer. Ding (Chris Villanueva) is a policeman who has psoriasis, Greta (Ynez Veneracion) is a housewife who has a lump on her breast, Alma (Pokwang) is a medical technologist who suffers from foot gangrene secondary to diabetes mellitus (I sounded like a nurse), Kakay (Abby Bautista) is in danger of completely losing her eyesight and Cookie (Kim Chui) has Acute Glumerolunephritis are the characters who each played a very important role in the plot's development.

The Healing succeeds in redefining horror movies in Filipino Cinema. While the past films never take the risk of showing their gory side, The Healing dares to show and take that risk. The film also managed to play with colors as these represent the mood as the plot develops from introduction to the rising of the conflict up to the resolution. I commend the use of this technique, however, it is more wise to use it more with subtlety rather than making the significance of such technique too obvious. The supporting casts also displayed an exemplary performances especially Pokwang who once again prove that she is not just a comedic actress but an actress. Janice De Belen returns to the genre which made her more famous in the 80s and she is refreshing to see her back as the mother of Kakay.

Though the film succeeds in making the viewers squirm from the gory scenes, it suffered heavily in poor character development. The actors may have equal frame exposure, but still, it is how the characters develop which is deemed to be more important than exposure itself. I have issues with medical accuracy especially with Kim's character who has AGN. I suggest that in the next movies to come, a more thorough research may suffice with this mistake.

The Healing also happens to be Vilma Santos' 50th Anniversary Presentation and she has displayed once again that she is indeed the Star for All Seasons.

Kudos to Chito Rono and the rest of the cast for bringing another film that would surely haunt Filipino viewers. The question is: How will this movie affect faith healers? Will this movie make an impact? The Healing is one horror film that should be seen my movie fans, Vilmanians or not.

GRADE: B+

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brave

For years Pixar and Disney has been the most formidable team in bringing great 3D-Animated films. Pixar has raised the bar in 3D-Animated movies making other studios come up with their own hits. However, what separates Pixar from studios like Dreamworks and Universal is the rich plot which is usually coupled with intelligent humor and lovable characters. Last year, Pixar misses the hit when they released a sequel of a moderately received film, Cars. This year, they opted to surprise us with a film that seems to defy the usual portrait of a princess that Disney has since Snow White.

Merida is a free spirited princess of Scotland who is betrothed to one of his father's allied clans which her mother organized so willingly to fulfill her duties as a princess, however, Merida feels the other way. Merida wants to control her own destiny and be the princess she wants to be. This lead to a series of events that led her to be able to alter her destiny by changing her mother into something else.

Brave tackles a very personal plot between mother and child in the film. The relationship between Merida and the Queen is very tangible as the plot progresses. The personal touch of the film makes it a success and follows the same formula with one of Pixar's greatest film: Wall-E. The film has a right amount of humor that goes well with the plot. Although this is the first film from Pixar that resorted to juvenile comedy, this is overshadowed by wholesome humor.

Brave also made an impact with their female characters which depicted a very strong personality. Merida is strong enough to defy tradition while the Queen is able to take control of her husband.

Brave has successfully relayed its message and becomes one of the most important films Pixar has made. With this film, Pixar was able to rise from the downfall of Cars 2 last year. Brave is not the typical Princess fantasy that Disney has offered its viewing public. Younger kids may find it hard to relate with the film but it will be a hit to teens and parents.

GRADE: A-

P.S. Pixar's short film La Luna is one of the best shorts since Night and Day.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Step Up Revolution

It has been 3 years since the last Step Up movie and almost 7 years since Channing Tatum made his name as an actor in the first installment of the franchise.Back then, it was a mixture of hiphop and dance that made this franchise a success coupled by really good dancers. Years later, the Step Up franchise is not showing signs of stopping, thus Revolution was released.

Set in Miami, Florida, Step Up Revolution begins with another story arc which has no connection with the previous films. This time, Miami is disturbed by a group of dancers that display their artistry in an unconventional manner - Flash Mob. Led by Sean, a waiter in a big hotel, The Mob displayed various methods of showing their prowess in dance as they try to win a competition that would grant them 100 grand just by the number of hits they get in Youtube. Everything is planned until the daughter of the hotel magnate became involve not only with the crew but with Sean as well.

When Step Up 3 was released, it sets the bar for the succeeding franchise. How could the next film top the previous one. While Step Up 3 boasts of extravagant production numbers involving laser lights, playful choreography, witty moves and a silly combination of classic dance routines, Step Up 4 managed to top its predecessor with purpose and laying off a little bit with the extravagance the 3rd movie had.

I adored how Step Up 3 was made. Step Up 4, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the additional depth to a plot that has been recycled for quite some time. The production value suffers a little bit when it comes to building excitement with the viewers but still acceptable. The mixture of interpretative and hiphop is quite cohesive in this film. One of my complaints of the films is they somehow trying to embrace the "Italian Job" feel and somehow it sways far from the concept.

Same settings, same plots, same shallow characters with a bit of a twist but with really great dance sequences. This is how I summarize the film. Step Up may still be a franchise that could last until the 4th movie. I wonder if there are anything left in their sleeves if they would want to come up for another installment.

GRADE: B-


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