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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Wolverine

Without a doubt, Wolverine is considered the most popular X-Man. His kick-ass and grunge attitude is a hit among teens to adults. This led to a successful Origins film centered on this confused hero which only proved how popular he is when it became a box office hit. This year, Wolverine came back unexpectedly. No hype was made for this film. The big question is how would this film be any better than the previous ones.

Picking up after the events that took place in X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine is left again with a broken heart and spirit, dealing with Jean Grey's death and the unknown path the X-Men will tread after the death of Professor X and the existence of the cure. Logan became a hermit, living off in caves waiting for self-absolution. Along came Yukio who invited him to come with her to Japan to repay a visit from his old friend. Logan was reunited with Shingen Yashida, a former Japanese soldier whom Logan saved during the 2nd World War. This visit changed everything when Logan was caught in a family chaos.

I was expecting this film to pick up after the events of X-Men: Origins but it was better that they made it as a middle chapter for X-Men: Days of Future Past. While Origins tried to explore how Logan became scarred, this film showed how he coped over his previous loss emotionally. The Wolverine is not only an eye candy but is an emotional journey for the famed superhero. Though it was not as deep as any Batman film, Wolverine has its moments.

These scenes may not be effective if not for Hugh Jackman's performance. Rila Fukishima who played Yukio excelled in this film. The Japanese actors did well too. It was refreshing to see Famke Janssen back as Jean Grey. Her character symbolizes Logan's emotional journey.

I was a bit disappointed with the villains particularly with the Silver Samurai. I was expecting a different presentation of his character. Viper is not even inspiring as a villain. This may be the weakest link for the film.

The Wolverine boasts of solid and breathtaking action sequences and an acceptable story line but an unnecessary addition for plot development for an X-Men movie. However, I did enjoy the film and that is what movies is all about.

GRADE: B+

P.S. DO NOT LEAVE THE THEATER AFTER THE MOVIE.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lone Ranger

Who is the Lone Ranger? We might be familiar with the name but the question deals on the characters persona. Who is this superhero? What are his adventures? And why does Johnny Depp eccentric in this film? (Pretending to be surprised) As of writing time, Lone Ranger has suffered box office sales in the US and failing marks from various film critics. I then decided to bring along a friend and see for ourselves what the critics are saying, "2013's biggest bomb."

Lone Ranger is based on a radio show started in 1933 of the same name. It follows the story of John Reid and Tonto in the good old west as they avenge their loved ones from an outlaw named Cavendish. Their desire to seek revenge leads them to a greater set-up no one expected to happen. The adventure lead them to become close friends and in the end, partners.

Basically, the plot is simple. But what do we expect with a Gore Verbinski film? Just like "At World's End", the film is overblown with subplots that does not necessary contribute much to the storytelling. This style, just like in Pirates 2 and 3, made me snooze. Verbinski is so engrossed in meeting the 2 and 1/2 hours quota that somehow he missed the fun. Instead, we have the Tonto and the Lone Ranger lingering in the wild west doing nothing. Even Helena Bonham's character is not significant, though I hoped her character did. 
John: This is how bad the movie was? Tonto: Ummm, yeah
The first 2 acts of the film is a pompous bore. It was only the last act that I was able to pick up myself from being half-awake and enjoyed the movie. The Lone Ranger was also overshadowed by Tonto in the film. Although I loved Depp's character, it seemed like he still has the hangover of being Jack Sparrow. 

While The Lone Ranger was bleak, the excitement on the last act should have been present in the entire film. Besides, the film is supposed to be fun and not an overblown display of scenes that are just plainly boring.

GRADE: C-

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Tuhog

File:Tuhog 2013 film.jpgNope. This is not one of your R-18 films. And no, we are not going back to he 90's where TF (Titillating Films) are a hit. Tuhog is a film about 3 lives connected by a single life-changing event. Sounds cliched? What does Tuhog has to offer that other Star Cinema films were not able to tackle in their previous films?
Tuhog tells the story of 3 individuals who are united by a common factor: They usually ride on the same bus. But aside from this usual occurrence comes a story that made them unique.

Tonio (Leo Martinez) just retired and he is not getting the hang of it. His life is empty and seemed to be moving backwards. He seeks for legacy in his dimming life and eventually found it during a discussion with old friends with the idea of putting up a bakery. This, however, was not warmly accepted by his family members. His struggle for legacy and acceptance continued until that fateful day he boarded the bus.

Fiesta (Eugene Domingo) is a proof that a name does not reflect the entire persona of an individual.She is a picture of a sad and angry woman who did not encounter love all her life. She was fierce and ruthless but a man changed everything and made a woman that should be loved and be treated as a lady. Conflicts arise and Fiesta is yet to learn life's difficult lesson in love: To understand.

Caloy (Enchong Dee) handles teenage woes of getting laid. There can be no other subtext to Caloy's plot that it can be summed up with 7 words.

What makes Tuhog special is the story that has happened before the crash. Tonio's character is very rich and accurate. Audiences with background on Normal Growth and Development will surely enjoy Tonio's story and its accurate portrayal. Eugene Domingo, on the other hand, portrayed Fiesta with passion with display of emotional fluctuations needed for her to portray a damaged woman healed by an unexpected man. While Martinez and Domingo excel in their own characters, Enchong struggled. It can also be blamed with an uninspired plot. Enchong's story arc might draw the crowd but it was Martinez's Tonio and Domingo's Fiesta contains the heart of the film.

The ending, however, left me with dissatisfaction but it was the middle of the ride that I enjoyed. Tuhog tried and somehow it succeeded but I needed more heart and an ending that needs more closure. But the most pressing concern is: Who deserves to live and to die?

GRADE: B

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pacific Rim

File:Pacific Rim FilmPoster.jpegIn an age where movies has been so hyped up and seemed that the limits has been reached comes another film that features robots and monsters. It has been done a lot of times, but what makes Guillermo Del Torro's Pacific Rim stand out from other films? How would it surpass Transformers: Dark of the Moon? Well, for starters, Del Torro has more passion with his craft than Michael Bay.

The film opens with a definition of what a "Kaiju" is, making us feel ready of what kind of monsters we are about to face. The film did not waste our time on how the monsters desolate some of the key cities which are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. The involvement of Manila would somehow generate a loud buzz from the audience (yikes!) but it did not show how Manila was destroyed. Going back, we are directed to the solution of the Kaiju problem and transported us a few years forward to see how we are doomed yet again. The Jaegers are mechas controlled by two individuals who will share each others mind to make the machine work together. In this process, both individuals will share memories and work in perfect unison. What the humans do not know is that the Kaijus are not even done in exterminating us. The plot thickens.

Involved in this quest is Raleigh who was once a pilot but marred by the death of his brother and co-pilot during a mission. He was recruited back by his commanding officer, Stacker Pentecost to be part of the government initiative turned resistance army to combat the Kaijus. There he met Mako and becomes his new partner for Gypsy Danger.

Pacific Rim is Del Torro's tribute to Japanese' movie and television icons. Viewers will probably relate to the themes and Del Torro knows what he is doing. The movie justified Japan's beloved icons such as Ultraman, Godzilla and the Gundams. Aside from these themes, Del Torro injected his usual formula and one can be familiar with recurring themes seen in his previous films such as Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. The battle scenes are not awkward and it was not just junk clinking against each other. Watching the film on 3D enhances the experience and it was not hurtful to the eyes.

Most of the actors are not well known except for some notable ones such as Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), and Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses). The leads performed well despite their unknown status as actors. However, the best performance goes to Mana Ashida as the young Mako with her rich expression for a child at her age.

Pacific Rim may be an eye-candy but it was a good sort putting Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon into shame. Del Torro's gothic style, modern technology and great storytelling meshed up perfectly and gives the audiences the feeling of involvement which somehow made the film effective and enjoyable.

GRADE: A-

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Despicable Me 2

File:Despicable Me 2 poster.jpgWhen Gru hit the screens 2 years ago, it was an instant hit. Considering that Despicable Me was released in the same year with Megamind (which "incidentally" has the same plot with some twists), Despicable Me has more fun and more heart. This year, Despicable Me 2 is much awaited due to its appealing teaser trailer which shows how adorable Gru's minions are.

Since Gru's victory over Vector and winning the hearts of 3 orphan girls, Gru embraced his fatherly instinct and becomes the best father he can be. This peaceful scenario was somehow disrupted when Gru's services are needed by the Anti-Villain League to thwart an evil plan by an unknown villain. Gru refused however, his insatiable thirst for adventure made him to engage in such a mission. Together with his trusted Minions and his partner, Lucy Wilde, Gru is off to an adventure he never expected to have a happy ending.

Fans of the first film would notice that this film lacks that pinch of heartwarming scenes. However, the second film makes up with the silliness and comical plot instead. The movie has its share of fun-filled moments. While Gru provides some moments, it was the Minions who really stole the whole film. It may be their cuteness, but it was the Minion's innocence that makes them so adorable. Somehow, the audiences may feel more attached with the Minions than Gru in the film. Lucy Wilde character is lovable too. Her carefree disposition seemed to be an instant hit with the viewers.

One complaint I have in mind is the film's uninspired villain. His identity is so predictable and does not need an idiot to guess who the bad guy is. Another is the villain's lack of purpose for evil and somehow his intentions is less complex than a regular TV show villain seen in Power Rangers.

Despicable Me 2 has a lot of fun, and yes the film delivers. However, I was looking for that magic that the first film was able to deliver. It is a good thing that the Minions were there to save the day too.

GRADE: B

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