Overlord (2018)

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What could be worse than both Nazis and zombies? Nazi zombies. Sentient, super-strong, Nazi zombies. Overlord does “WWII plus evil Nazi experiments” better than, say, Captain America: The First Avenger. It has memorable characters, bloodier, better action scenes, compellingly conflicted heroes, and a villain more evil and threatening than Hugo Weaving with red CGI face. And when you already have soldiers torn between following orders sticking to the plan and saving people while risking their mission, you don’t really need superpowers. But this movie has that too!—-superpowers. And for the better. Well, The First Avenger could have been more like this movie. If only Marvel movies have balls. Overlord is a perfect blend of 1940’s war era science fiction, horror, and superhero action heroics. And it’s quite funny, too. That soldier who wanted to write a book about the war—I laughed so hard when he goes pfft. And imagine the look on my face when one of the good guys lift himself up to get himself off the hook. And by “off the hook,” I mean literally. Pretty good movie.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

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On weekends, I sometimes just don’t feel like watching new movies or old films I haven’t seen before. So, I settle with movies I’ve already seen. Because they don’t require my full attention. Like if something comes up, like a phonecall, or work, or errands, I could easily switch it off. Luckily, nothing came up lately and I was able to re-watch a few movies without interruptions. One of them is Edge of Tomorrow, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Continue reading “Edge of Tomorrow (2014)”

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame Is The Super Duper $@%!#& Season Finale of the Year

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The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Avengers: Endgame isn’t “the best MCU movie or the best superhero movie since (insert your preference here),” but it does what it has to do, “whatever it takes.” Even if that means Endgame makes for an unwieldy, ponderous, pandering, uneven, thrilling ride. It’s a crowd-pleaser and super duper entertaining. Continue reading “Avengers: Endgame (2019)”

The Avengers (2012)

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The Avengers (2012). The cataclysmic results of Loki’s entrance in a S.H.I.E.L.D. base was somewhat off-putting, sort of Michael Bay-like, but the movie regains my trust the moment Black Widow and Bruce Banner show up. At the start, Steve Rogers has nothing for Tony Stark but contempt, for Nick Fury and SHIELD, distrust. Continue reading “The Avengers (2012)”

Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Thor (2011)

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Iron-Man (2008). This is where it all begun, the Mark I of all Marvel movies. This is the movie where Marvel–after deciding to make their own movies based on characters they haven’t sold yet–finally hammers it home. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Tony Stark’s billionaire-genuis-playboy suits Robert Downey Jr. perfectly in the same the way the red and gold weaponized armor suit fits Tony Stark. Continue reading “Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Thor (2011)”

Banlieue 13 (2004)

Banlieue13.jpgSaw this once on pirate cable TV years ago. It’s nonstop French action with English subtitles. This was years before I learned about that wonderful art of jumping through windows and landing like Peter Parker. Parkour, it is called, probably a French word for something.

The actors are a bunch of unknowns (to me) but the action beats are familiar. The plot, there’s a nuke hijacked and lost in B13 (Banlieue as in Block or District?) and it’s up for a cop (played by a French Vin Diesel) and the Parkour guy to get to it first before the bad guys could activate it. Relentless fighting ensued–gunfights, knife-fights, Parkour, mixed martial arts, heck, even one gangster has to eat the Parkour guy’s sister’s panties at one point (no, not what you’re thinking–she probably wore it for three days tops). And Parkour guy’s sister used to do porn. (Yeah, I did my homework.)

But the fights were tight and refreshing (the first time around, most probably repetitive and exhausting on a second go). And there’s one big surprise in the end—which borrows the idea from the first cut off Dead KennedysFresh Fruits for Rotting Vegetables. Yeah, the chorus of which, goes “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor! Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor!” The government was like “Let’s nuke ’em motherfuckers!” (Or do it like Duterte’s Drug War, if you have no nukes). Now, that’s something definitely worth fighting/dying/parkouring/whatever for.

Maria (2019)

Cristine Reyes goes for some good, old-fashioned revenge in ‘Maria’

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Seven years after that one final job, Maria (Cristine Reyes) now lives a quiet domestic life in an unnamed province. A nice big house, a loving husband, their cute little daughter, Cristine Reyes plays an ex-cartel assassin turned wife and mother, from killing people to cooking dinner.

Continue reading “Maria (2019)”

Training Day (2001)

Training Day: or How did your first day go?

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Holy s—Did I leave the stove on?

Training Day opens in early morn with LAPD officer Jake Hoyt preparing for his first day on a new assignment—he’s transferring to Rampart Division and will undergo evaluation under Detective Alonzo Harris, a bad-ass mofo cop played by Denzel Washington. After a meet-up in a cafe, the two drives around town as Alonzo shows Jake the ropes: Continue reading “Training Day (2001)”

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Battle Angel Kicks Ass (But There Probably Won’t Be A Sequel)

alitaLike Captain Marvel, at the center of Alita: Battle Angel is a strong female character who doesn’t know her past. In the movie, scientist Dr. Dyson Ido finds a disembodied female cyborg with fully functioning brain in a scrapyard, gives her a new body and names her after his deceased daughter. Then, Alita wakes up with no memory of her past and a whole new world to discover. Except this whole new world is a world of cyborgs, bounty hunters, cyborg criminals, scrap dealers and extreme sports called Motorball, and a place called Iron City—a wasteland sitting beneath the floating city of Zalem.

You know the girl meets cute boy and they fall in love kind of story. Alita is that kind of movie, only this time the girl is a cyborg and its set in post-apocalyptic future. Continue reading “Alita: Battle Angel (2019)”

Captain Marvel (2019)

‘Captain Marvel’ Is A ’90s Remix Of Superhero Origin Movie

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Skimmed a few reviews: some says it’s good, some says mediocre. Checked its Rotten Tomatoes score (“relatively high”) before I went in and kept in mind that Marvel movies tends to get overpraised (i.e., Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Civil War) most of the time. How did it go? It’s middling. Just another Marvel movie: bland-looking, snarky Continue reading “Captain Marvel (2019)”

Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)

Bigger But Not Better Than ‘Ant-Man’

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The first Ant-Man, though admittedly a “small” movie, box-office-wise, is actually one of the less problematic movies in MCU’s Phase Two. Ant-Man benefited from the groundwork laid down by Edgar Wright and what dramatic and comedic bits were added later on by its eventual director Peyton Reed and the other writers. Of course there’s the strong performances by Paul Rudd and the rest of the cast. Continue reading “Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)”

Aquaman (2018)

‘Aquaman’ Pulls Off Something Beautiful Out of DCEU’s Grim Dark Ass

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There’s a fair amount of cheese and a fair amount of fun to be had in Aquaman. Whether it’s characters shouting their silly names (Call me Ocean Master! I’m Black Manta!), or Jason Momoa seemingly just having fun almost the entire time, or director James Wan letting slip a few scenes where Amber Heard couldn’t even clearly say her lines, Aquaman is a movie that reminds the audience so often that “this is just a movie.” Continue reading “Aquaman (2018)”

Captain America Trilogy

How To Solve A Problem Like ‘Bucky’

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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Wonder why I couldn’t like this movie more. It’s well made, has a unique look, the right amount of heart, and nice-looking set pieces and action scenes. Found it boring at first, gave it a second look and found Joe Johnston’s efforts, quite admirable, though still not a knock down punch. Maybe because it’s just so predictable. I already knew Cap’s only gonna end up frozen, he’s not gonna die. Continue reading “Captain America Trilogy”

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Initially thought this is funnier than Deadpool 2. But that’s maybe because I’ve seen Deadpool 2 many times already. And then I saw this one. And it was refreshing that Ryan Reynolds isn’t the snarky one. That he’s being upstaged by and clearly no match to Mr. Nick Fury without the eyepatch. And Dios Mio! I never thought Salma Hayek would be the perfect match for the foul-mouthed Samuel L. Jackson.

Plot? Forget it. All I need is Sam Jackson in the passenger seat singing some blues while Mr. Pool answers with an Ace of Base tune and I’m in. No questions asked. Gary Oldman, made older with some thick make-up, as the Russian-therefore-he’s-bad dictator is the perfect baddie for bad-guy-is-good-guy Sam Jackson. Where have we seen that before? Probably from some forgettable action movie the title of which I can’t remember right now because the movie was, uhm, forgettable.

This movie is loaded with all the cliche an action movie fan could think of. It’s a little too long to waste 2 hours at the movies when it could have easily been just around ninety minutes. Though I never really checked my watch until near the third act. Which only means Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson (plus Salma Hayek) could be entertaining as fuck.

But still, two hours is a little too long when I could pretty much predict what’s going to happen or how it’s going to happen in the end. And that’s 242 words for a not so memorable movie. Make that 252. Wait, it’s 255 now. Two-fifty… Oh, I don’t how to end

Deadpool 2 Is The Super Duper $@%!#& Superhero Movie of the Year

13 Reasons Why Deadpool 2 Is The Super Duper $@%!#& Superhero Movie of the Year

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Not really a big comic book guy, but if you’d ask me who my favorite comic book characters are, top five would be, in no particular order: Spider-Man, Hulk, Punisher, Cable and Deadpool. That’s right, one from MCU’s Avengers team but not Iron Man, Thor or Cap and none from Fox’s X-Men. Wolverine? I like Wolverine, but not Hugh Jackman’s Polverine. Continue reading “Deadpool 2 Is The Super Duper $@%!#& Superhero Movie of the Year”

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (2018)

Everything Wrong With ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’

How Epic Was Goyo‘s Epic Fail?

TBA Productions and Jerrold Tarog reached a “new high” with Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral. It’s generally well recieved by both audience and critics. Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is longer, bigger, slower, crispier, brighter, lighter than its predecessor—the flag-burning, blood boiling, gushing, fist-pumping, hatemongering, frothing at the mouth Heneral Luna. Is it better? Continue reading “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (2018)”

BuyBust (2018)

‘Goyo’ was the worst, ’til I saw ‘BuyBust’

Thought ‘Goyo’ was already the worst well-received movie of the year. But after watching Erik Matti’s latest, I guess we now have a winner. BuyBust/Anne Curtis rips Goyo/Paulo Avelino’s pretty face to shreds. Gloriously. Imagine that. Would probably make a good movie.

Save for one action sequence fueled by a punk rock song, where Anne Curtis tries to ward off the angry wives and mistresses of Gracia Ni Maria using an aluminum palanggana while Brandon Vera does the same with an umbrella, Erik Matti’s BuyBust is just endless gunfights and hand to hand combat that range from sloppy to well-executed, some rapid fire editing, some shaky cam, some unsustained tension, plenty of senseless violence (i.e., one poor lady got her head cut off), and lots of dead cops, henchmen, and poor civilians. Continue reading “BuyBust (2018)”

Revisiting Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’

The Old, Cheesy, Amazing, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

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Marvel’s continuity shtick, one where various comic book characters and stories exist in one universe, used to be confined within comic book realms. In the early 2000s, there was no such universe and comic book movies were one-shot deals. Sequels were never planned and if a movie isn’t successful enough, then it joins the ranks of those one-off comic book movies: Hulk, Daredevil, The Punisher, Elektra, LXG Continue reading “Revisiting Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’”

WolfCop (2014)

Wolf In, Cop Out

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WolfCop is the kind of bad movie people watch because they’re bad. But sometimes bad just ain’t good enough. With a premise and title that’s promising a lot, WolfCop falls short in delivering a wholly satisfying werewolf experience. The first two-thirds of the movie works out just fine. The transformation scenes aided by what looks like mostly practical effects are among the movie’s highlights. The action scenes are gory bloody disgusting but mostly incoherently  edited and shot. The final third is hinged on a twist that probably required more hints and setting up than what’s in the movie. With zero conflict comes zero payoff. Lou Garou, the titular werewolf-cop, simply needs to kill the bad guys if WolfCop has to survive. Weirdly enough, the movie reaches climax [prematurely] in the second act, in a hairy steamy sex scene behind the bars between the WolfCop and Jessica, the ravishing local bar owner who’s not obviously hiding some deep dark secrets. Unfortunately, like in most monster movies with sex and violence, it’s all downhill from there. And like in other horror movies, the protagonist loses plot armor once he/she loses his/her virginity. Which is to say WolfCop came a little early and failed to show up for the final round.

‘Dredd’ Is A Punk-Rock Middle Finger To Ponderous Comic Book Movies

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It’s a fucked-up world. And Mega-City One is a fucked-up place full of fucked-up criminals. And the Hall of Justice is the last bastion of order and maybe—peace. Or so they thought. This is the world where Judges exist, where Judge Dredd exists, where Judges roam the street and play judge, jury, and executioner. Continue reading “‘Dredd’ Is A Punk-Rock Middle Finger To Ponderous Comic Book Movies”

The Big Sick (2017)

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The Big Sick (2017). I may not be the funniest of stand up comedians. But if my girlfriend is Zoe Kazan and she’s so in love with me, I’m definitely more than willing to give up everything just to be with her. And I mean everything—including my own family. Wait. That would only be the case if I’m Pakistani or Indian and my family is still very much into pre-arranged marriage. Continue reading “The Big Sick (2017)”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is A Perfectly Executed Action-RPG

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Right after the opening salvo of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which we find Captain America and Agent Romanoff displaying their super-awesome fighting skills against a group of mercenaries in a SHIELD vessel, I wasn’t sure if I was in a movie house or if I just watched a perfectly executed tactical/brawler/action-RPG. Continue reading “Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is A Perfectly Executed Action-RPG”

Deadpool 2’s X-Force Assemble Is Better Than Avenger’s Infinity War

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There are no Infinity McGuffins in Deadpool 2, no superheroes fighting for the fate of the universe. What it does have is an unkillable motor-mouthed anti-hero, who clearly doesn’t want to get upstaged by other characters inside and outside his own movie. And that makes Deadpool 2, arguably, better than Infinity War. Or does it? Let’s see. Continue reading “Deadpool 2’s X-Force Assemble Is Better Than Avenger’s Infinity War”

Dunkirk (2017)

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Praise Nolan for making Dunkirk a one of a kind experience – an unconventional war movie with three separate narratives in addition to its main narrative (the exodus of 300,000 soldiers cornered by enemies in Dunkirk), a supposedly anti-Hollywood war drama that isn’t really anti-Hollywood considering its not so modest budget.

Nolan plays with mirrors, contrasts; that old officer wanting to send his armies home and the other older guy wanting to take them in his boat; Cillian Murphy’s traumatized soldier who doesn’t wanna go back to hell and the eager young boy George who hasn’t been to war and hasn’t seen it all; Tom Hardy’s heroic pilot vs. the cowardly soldier who just wanted to poop. And also, Tom Hardy’s pilot who successfully completed his mission but got caught by the enemy and his buddy who couldn’t finish the mission and got rescued by the friendlies.

Technically, this is better than his Batman movies. It’s a great piece of filmmaking that, I hope was also equally thrilling. An epic filmmaking for a not so epic way of telling a story based on actual events. Nolan wanted to keep it small, personal, but also big and epic at the same time. How did he do that? He spliced the narrative, tinkered with the timeline.

It’s a film that thrills the eyes, the ears, sometimes the brain, sometimes the heart. But not something that thrills the eyes, the ears, and the brain at the same time, and better leave your heart at the door because there’s little use for it. The three way climax makes for very little emotional build up; Nolan wants you to calculate it, time it, instead of feel it. And since I’m not good at math, my biggest emotional response was “Shucks! That guy from One Direction didn’t make it!”

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is One Big Superhero Movie Climax

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Avengers: Infinity War opens with a distress call—actually a massacre, off-screen. And it’s only fitting that after Marvel’s most outrageously hilarious movie comes tragedy. I’m referring to Thor: Ragnarok, of course, which ended with Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Hulk and the rest of the Asgardians aboard The Mastermind’s fancy ship. Continue reading “‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is One Big Superhero Movie Climax”

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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Re-watched Blade Runner after seeing the sequel, only to be reminded of my mixed feelings towards it. It’s in the “it’s OK, but I don’t quite like it” category. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner plays like a noir set in a futuristic wet market. It’s always raining, there are lots of people, hot noodles, and plastics. Where’s the dust? The production design reminds one of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, but with modern Ziggurats and burning flares. Continue reading “Blade Runner 2049 (2017)”

The Nice Guys (2016)

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A private detective teams up with an enforcer for hire. A missing person’s case, an erect nipple here, a dead pornstar there, kiss kiss, bang bang, the bodies pile up while the two try to solve the crime. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’ve seen this before. Something similar, whether it’s in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon or even the Marvel mega-hit Iron Man 3, where Tony Stark and his buddy Rhodes go on a mission. Shane Black has done this before. It’s mostly the same ingredients, in slightly different permutation, in a movie set in the ’70s. But he’s doing it better, this time. The results are actually good, a hilarious, R-rated action-comedy. And movie looks like it was made in the ’70s rather a fetishized version of that era—that’s a plus.

Despite losing to ‘Captain America vs. Iron Man’ at the box office, The Nice Guys is unarguably the better movie. I’d say it’s even better than Black’s last two movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3—both of which features Robert Downey Jr. trying to solve some sort of mystery. The plot is trickier (there’s a missing smut film) and thicker (has something to do with car industry in ’70s), the villain (Kim Bassinger), more memorable, and our main guy, Ryan Gosling’s down-on-his-luck private eye, is just f*cking funny (you might not have expected him to be this good at comedy). He plays off well with both Russel Crowe and Angourie Rice, who plays his daughter Holly. Their little backstory makes Gosling’s Holland March a loser you want to root for and laugh at, at the same time. Russel Crowe, on the other hand, plays Jackson Healy, a man of few words and action. Healy, who specializes in and gets paid for hurting people, is like an older, grayer, stockier version of the cop Crowe played in L.A. Confidential. He’s the perfect foil for March’s clumsy detective, who thinks he’s the smartest guy in LA.

Whereas in Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3, we get super-powered individuals (either thru super soldier serum or some high tech gadgetry or some cosmic powers) punching each other or saving the world, The Nice Guys features ordinary people fighting real-world monsters, trying to solve real-world problems. No, I’m not attaching the word “important” to this movie (let’s leave that word to the fanboys who raves about “relevant” comic book movies). It’s just a good and undervalued R-rated movie. I mean, how many times have you seen a movie where the good guys use the magic combination of pornography, art films, and activism to fight corrupt politicians and greedy car companies?

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Pinoy Blonde (2005)

pbRemember Pinoy Blonde? That plot-less Tarantino send up that doesn’t seem like it? Not sure if this was obvious enough, but I’d assume most didn’t realize that Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes weren’t really channeling Quentin Tarantino, unless they’ve read Peque Gallaga’s Playboy interview, in which he also expressed his dislike for Lav Diaz’s films, prior or after watching the film. (By the way that issue has a stunning cinema-themed cover and a popcorn-covered girl on its centerfold.) Some people thought it was cool. Some people said the filmmakers thought they were cool. Some said Pinoy Blonde was to Pulp Fiction as Tataynic (a Dolphy movie) was to Titanic. That we don’t have the so-called “originality”. That we ripped off Hollywood. Again. What does “originality” really mean, anyway? Um, okay, let’s not get into that. Those who liked the film probably said that those who didn’t, just didn’t get it. But the question is, did they? Did they know it was supposed to satirize Quentin Tarantino movies? Sure, it was trippy. With the movie’s point—that Tarantino, in making his movies, just masturbates to his favorite films and that Gallaga, in this movie, is showing him how it (masturbation) is properly done, or, how not to do it—is lost in the movie’s non-sense and pop culture rabbit hole. I don’t know. If I recall correctly, there’s a scene where Ricky Davao’s character suggests that the finest Filipino filmmaker is neither Lino Brocka nor Ishmael Bernal—as the film’s two main characters endlessly argue about—but Joey Gosiengfiao, the guy behind the camp classic Temptation Island. There’s also a short animation a la Kill Bill. But that’s it, it was a forgettable movie with a few memorable scenes. Cool soundtrack tho’.