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Monday, July 21, 2014

She's Dating The Gangster

When Star Cinema sees a potential, they grab it. Sadly, they did not get the success first. Diary of Panget was the first film to be based on a Wattpad entry and actually made money. So when young teens and teens at heart are ready to pay the ticket, why not turn a popular YA Filipino novel into a film. And to add more income, why not put in the hottest teen stars to date. That may be the formula for a sure hit movie, but will the standards be amped up?

She's Dating the Gangster is no doubt one of the most successful Filipino book to date. Since its success, it spawned a number of other Wattpad stories to be published and the rest, shall we say, is history. It follows the tragic love story of Kenji and Athena as they embark in a love so fake it is somehow true enough to be fought for.

(Note: Athena-K is Kathryn and Athena-S is Sofie)

Kenji is a known gangster in their school while Athena is the unknown, that was until Kenji sends messages to Athena which is supposed to be for an another Athena who is his girlfriend. When Kenji knew that he was sending the messages to the wrong person, he forces Athena (Kathryn) to be in a fake relationship to get his ex-girlfriend back. As days went by, this playful act became as real as they can imagine and they indeed became lovers. Here's the thing, Athena-K has Dilated Cardiomyopathy and (Spoiler Alert!) Athena-S has Gastric cancer. Double the sickness, double the fun.

This love story is told by Athena-K's niece and Kenji's son in an unusual encounter during a flight incident involving Kenji. These two characters are also portrayed by Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, which is a bit confusing at first too.

Daniel and Kathryn are indeed teen king and queen of this time considering that they have enticed a great number of followers screeching when Daniel smiles, talks, walks normally, skates in slow motion, skates normally, winks, and ultimately, undress. Kathryn's quirky character is a joy. Her moments are well delivered. Daniel is good in the film but somehow fails in one where Athena-S' mother, marvelously portrayed by Rio Locsin, is asking him for a favor. He seemed disconnected on that part.

Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez comes in as the adult Kenji and Athena-K. They are the showstoppers of the film. They are reminiscent of their love team back in the 90s just like the star-crossed lovers in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit. When the frame ended with Richard and Dawn sitting on a bench watching the horizon indicates that this is their film. This is Dawn and Richard's story.

She's Dating the Gangster is a film for teens of this age. If you are a movie enthusiast and you are looking for Filipino films with this type of content, Blue Moon has more solid storytelling and characters. But if you are a teen, might as well give this a shot.



Dawn of The Planet of the Apes

The desire for peace is a never ending quest. So many films has been made with this particular concept and very few can pull off the strings very well. Human nature is also very hard to capture. To see how these two elements merge into one film is a task that can spell disaster, right Roland Emmerich? Planet of the Apes has its desired and surprisingly satisfying reboot with 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The 1968 version is a thrilling sci-fi epic which left audiences astonished and hungry for more. After 6 films, it was rebooted - digging deeper on what actually happened and established a new timeline from the franchise. On its 2nd installment of the rebooted franchise, we are curious on how things will end up with the ape community as well as with humanity.

Set 7-8 years after the Simian virus infected the majority of the human race, humans are known to cease from existence. The apes maintains their own community lead by Ceasar, the ape from the first film, and they are at peace. It was not until they encountered humans at the foot of the mountain that they know they are not alone. There are still humans thriving to survive of what's left. Caesar confronts the humans and displayed their strength telling them to never come back to their sanctuary. The humans, however, needs the dam where the apes are currently residing. With this, they opt to negotiate with Ceasar who was happy to oblige them with a set of rules. Things don't go well as planned when certain events led to another and in just a matter of days, humans and ape alike are battling for their survival.

The first 20 minutes of the film is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey where we get to see the over-all situation without actual lines being uttered except for ape language. We see them thriving on their own and expanding a community where apes are existing with harmony. They eat, sleep and hunt for survival. They have completely eradicated the concept of human existence which is evidently working for them. We see how they the errors of man and it is mostly true. It was in those moments that made me shameful of being human. "From humans, Koba only learned hate. Nothing else", says Ceasar. This particular line brings us to the question, who is to blame with the war? Is it just that we blame it to the apes because we think they are superior and more threatening?

The film is ethically and morally driven piece of material. It leaves us to the thought of how destructive man can be and how it affects other organisms. It also questions our ability to co-exist with other species and how our superiority mocks peace.

These are all hard questions and when put into a film, it would be either preachy or downright boring. This is the beauty of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It was able to manage to bring out the message and makes us root to the race we see fit. Pacing is not even a problem and it was able to maintain my attention.

Most of the credits for its success is to Andy Serkis. With his performance, the Academy should consider opening a Best Actor for Motion Capture Role category. Serkis was best known as Gollum and another ape, King Kong. Keri Russell and the rest of the human characters are well played. Gary Oldman is still on his game as the leader of the surviving humans. We see James Franco's character only in a cameo. And yes, he is dead in the film.

Matt reves was able to find the soul of the Planet of the Apes franchise, honing it to its full potential and furthermore succeeding its predecessor and matching up with the original. Another action flick proved that the genre can have its fun and at the same time find its soul and meaning. So why can't Transformers do it? Tsk tsk Michael Bay.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks and Mary Poppins

Yes, last Thursday was my first time to watch Mary Poppins. I am not antisocial, it is just it did not appeal to me until I saw Saving Mr. Banks. Though Mary Poppins is a regular film shown on the Disney Channel, it never occurred to me to sit through its very long run time considering that it is a kid's film. In this review, I will tell you why Saving Mr. Banks is a prerequisite before viewing Mary Poppins.

Saving Mr. Banks is a recent film about the production of Mary Poppins and the people involved in the film's development. It stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins book series and Tom Hanks as Mr. Walt Disney.

P.L. Travers is reluctant in giving the rights of Mary Poppins to Disney. This took Disney years and when Travers agreed to have her Mary Poppins filmed, she should be involved in all creative aspects of the film. Travers despised animation which means he despised the likes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the animated characters by Disney. This created a tedious amount of work resulting to heavily managed creative differences between Travers and the writers.

As the film progress, we fully understand where the inspiration for Mary Poppins was drawn - Traver's personal life. We look back to the early years of Travers when she was in Australia living a not-so-comfortable life with her mother and her alcoholic father, Travers Goff. Incidentally, Mr. Goff works as a manager on a bank, thus an inspiration for Mr. Banks.

Mr. Banks is how P.L. Travers sees her father. Mary Poppins was the one that should make all the wrongs made by his father be right. There goes her resistance that Disney may not see her vision and make a travesty out of her beloved Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins, on the other hand, holds true to P.L. Travers' concept. Watching the Julie Andrews' classic made me connect to the children and to Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks made me understand the film better and made me connect t the characters with deeper meaning. I made me see the heart of the film - that family comes first and none can be more rewarding than seeing the happiness of your loved ones.

Truly, Mary Poppins has withstand the test of time and one of the glittering gems of Walt Disney. Julie Andrews indeed delivered one of her best performances and no one can deny that.

Saving Mr. Banks, on the other hand, is definitely a film for all who loves Mary Poppins. The performances of Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks is not to be missed but watch out for Colin Farell, he stole the show.


Saving Mr. Banks: A-
Mary Poppins:      A



Heaven is for Real

There has been so many inspirational films but few has garnered attention from the viewing public. Passion of Christ is an exception to this phenomena. Films like Son of God never had that same attention as the latter. These films thrived on direct-to-video instead and while films like Facing The Giants and Fireproof does not even catch most of the viewer's attention.

Heaven is for Real is based on the book by Todd Burpo, a minister in Nebraska. The story follows the events that took place when his son Colton had a divine experience following his fatal complicated appendicitis. Colton was able to travel to heaven and back. With this, faiths are strengthened and some came into confusion as the community tries to see the reason behind and find its true meaning in their everyday lives.

The film is a simple reminder of our faith and that basic question: "Would you believe if someone tells you he has been to heaven?"

Human nature tells us to be suspicious. In the film, it shows how faith can be shattered and be replaced by doubt and suspicion even if the events that occurred are divine in nature. This is true not only to the community but within the family of Todd Burpo. There is a struggle within Todd's wife, however, a certain event reaffirms her faith.

The plot is formulaic yet very inspiring. The scenes that involved Colton and Jesus made me feel envious. Seriously. 

Heaven is for Real is not a great movie but not a bad one. One thing I can complain about is that most of the important scenes are seen in the trailer. On the other hand, the message was clear, it is seen on its title.