Category: Movies

‘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.

Armed with the Lawgiver, a deadly toy gun with voice-activated ammunition system, Judges are futuristic comic-book Dirty Harrys brought to life. They’re also clad in bulky armor and helmet that conceals the face except for the mouth and chin—in Dredd’s case, Karl Urban’s capably expressive and Oscar-winning chin—except for the probationary rookie (Olivia Thirlby), the mutant-psychic who left her helmet on her first day on duty. She also deems the helmet would get in the way of her telepathic powers, to which Dredd’s dead-pan reply is: Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.

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Raves: Tampopo, The Big Sick

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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.

I once work with an Indian guy who now lives in the US. And he told me that everytime they visit his mother, she still tells him that she could have arranged the most beautiful wife for him, that she knew a number of women who could have been his perfect match. And he’s like married for what–like nearly twenty years? I wonder how this thing about “in-laws” works with them. You know, that relationship between a man’s mother and his wife. But I digress.

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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.

Avengers: Infinity War was years in the making: multiple movies built around the Infinity Stones, Avengers team up and break up, and some Thanos mid-credits teasers. After months of watching trailers, trailer breakdowns and speculations about plot, character deaths and what-not, Avengers: Infinity War is finally over. *sigh* And it left you with more questions than answers, left you overjoyed and exhausted at the same time but most importantly, more hyped than ever.

Avengers: Infinity War, then, is like premature ejaculation. After months of anticipation, it came too quickly just when it’s starting to feel good. And you can’t do anything about it other than wait. Until the the next movie comes.

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Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 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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Thor’s New Hammer, Iron Man’s Gundam Suit and Other Great Things In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

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Avengers: Infinity War is far from perfect. But then it could have been worse, like The Matrix: Revolutions or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Good thing it’s more like Back to the Future II. Someone said it should have been a three-part movie. Well, dude’s got a point. Because the storytelling felt rushed. Me, I only wished it was longer. Story-wise, Infinity War is coherent, consistent, but also packed to the gills. It’s too compact. Like, it could have used a few more quieter moment to allow the movie (and us) to breathe and give everything on screen and off screen some time to sink in. It could also use a bit more build up, a few more “hanging moments” to let the punches hit the guts and make the surprising turns really “wow!” But, we can’t have it all, I guess. So let’s just break down the things I like the most about the movie and the things I thought were kinda “meh”. And I’m not gonna complain about all of the deaths being temporary. That’s like complaining that Neo came back to life at the end of The Matrix.

Great:

1) No resurrection this time. How to make a dark Avengers movie? Kill Korg (Taika Waititi) before the movie starts. Y’know, that guy who made that goofy Thor and Hulk movie. Now seriously, that opening sequence is definitely one of the most effective, if not the best, in all Marvel movies. Setting the stakes and the tone early on. Thanos and his death metal band, the Black Order, mean business.

2) Goofy in Knowhere. Thanos knows well his favorite daughter hangs out with disco-loving, galaxy-saving group of oddballs and misfits. Why Thanos didn’t use the Power stone in fighting the Guardians? He probably didn’t want to kill his daughter’s friends. So he tried to be creative and used the Reality stone instead. To make bubbles.

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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. They all survived Ragnarok—saw Asgard burn to the ground—only to have their refuge cut short by Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order.

Yes, Avengers: Infinity War takes off right after that Ragnarok stinger. By the way, I remember someone complained that Ragnarok shouldn’t be a comedy, that everyone should have died in the end just like in the comics. My dear friend, you had Thanos’ mercy, your wish has been fulfilled. Are you happy now?

Of course, Infinity War is also, more or less, a direct sequel to Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—none of which required viewing prior (in case you missed them) except for the last one. Civil War‘s great divide was summed up by Tony Starks with “we’re not in speaking terms”; Spider-Man, who tried so hard to impress Tony only to reject his offer to become an Avenger in the end, now becomes an Avenger; and Killmonger, the most important character in Black Panther, you don’t really need to know to understand this movie.

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Stoked to Infinity? Deadpool 2’s Final Trailer Is Just So Rad

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Just watched the final trailer for Infinity War and I’m stoked to infinity.

Like this:   stoked ^ ∞

Oh, I mean Deadpool 2. Sorry. Also, wrong poster. My bad. Anyway, looking back I could say now how I actually felt about the official trailer. It was disappointing. This final trailer feels more like it. It’s perfect in every way that a trailer for a Deadpool sequel should be.

I mean, references to both the best and the worst Wolverine movies? Check. Reference to Thanos and Infinity War? Check. Reference to DCEU? Very fat fuckin’ check. Plus, plus, the plot seems to be a cross between the first two Terminator movies with a bit of Looper thrown in. Well, they might as well make fun of them if this would be the case. Cable as the villain? Is that a Terminator or an Avengers reference? The kid as the ultimate bad guy in the future? Yeah, that’s kind of Looper right there, right? But what if Cable isn’t really Cable, and the X-Force are actually fighting his clone?

That would be interesting.

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Are You Team ‘Infinity War’ Or Are You Team ‘Deadpool’?

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Couldn’t we just like them both? Be excited for both? Eggsactly. But where’s the fun in that? Also, these are two very different superhero movies. Two movies that operate on very different levels. So let’s contrast and compare.

One is about a Titan’s intergalactic quest for a set of colorful McGuffins, and the resulting powerful one-against-all scenario that would lead to gigantic fights that’s most probably 80% punching. While the other’s just the first sequel in a franchise (as opposed to the former being the 19th movie in the series) that seemingly care less about anything else outside of its titular hero. And Cable. And X-Force. Who’s the villain? We don’t know. That, we will find out come opening day.

Maybe “the real heroes” aka the screenwriters have a few more tricks up their sleeves and subvert our expectations about the movie’s plot. But I don’t want to expect. That’s the golden rule: Don’t expect. And based on the trailer, it is probably more of a spandex-and-sword action movie, with a lot of talking and talking to the camera, and fewer punching scenes.

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Blade Runner 2049

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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. Vangelis’ synth soundtrack already sounded dated when I first saw the movie. And so was Rachel’s hair. Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard looked like he’s either pissed, drunk, would rather be somewhere else, or all of the above. That he’s an android-like bounty hunter who’d later develop empathy for andys, I’m not quite really sure.

Blade Runner 2049, I liked better for a few things. There’s an air of mystery to it and we got K (Ryan Gosling), a real android and bounty hunter, instead of Ford’s android-like human, (or isn’t he an android?) who’s tasked to go after his own kind and to solve said mystery. There’s rain, but there’s also dust as it was in the novel. There’s K’s holographic companion Joi (Anna de Armas) who wanted to become real for K. So one time she invited a female andy and we got a threesome between two andys and a hologram.

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Blade Runner inspired the look of Ghost In The Shell, which seems to be the inspiration for 2049 instead of the former. Greenscreen and CGI gives 2049 the advantage of space and scope, whereas Scott had to make do with models and practical effects. Dennis Villeneuve used lots of wide screen shots, lots of empty desserts or crowded but depopulated cities. In Scott’s vision of the future, the streets are always crowded and the takes are mostly medium shots.

Blade Runner 2049 is quite long, but the original actually felt longer. And as someone pointed out, there’s a little more Dick in 2049 than in the original. I also like K’s journey a lot more than Deckard’s. K starts just like Deckard, “retiring” one of his own because it was his job, goes about trying to solve the “miracle”, at one point thought of himself as “special”, and becomes more selfless as the story progresses. And yes, this movie made me feel and care for a flash drive, that’s something.

The plot of 2049 reminds me of another film based on a science fiction novel, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, arguably better than both Blade Runner films. Cuaron said that his film was supposed to be the anti-Blade Runner, in that there are no flying cars, no androids, just humans unable to reproduce and the world crumbling under authoritarian rule and chaos. When a miracle happens, a young woman gets pregnant, every side of the political divide wants to get their hands on the mother and her baby. There’s the guy played by Clive Owen who plays the role of K in the film, the tragic hero who ended up bleeding lying and nearly unconscious by the film’s end.

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Haven’t seen these films yet? Sorry, I just kind of spoiled the ending for you.

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

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Hail to the king

Wasn’t really planning to watch Black Panther. Afraid that this steady diet of tentpole superhero movies has nothing but replaced my enthusiasm for “something different” with disappointments and lowered expectations. But the hype and raves came overflowing that my Spider-sense started tingling.

Black Panther‘s box office success, just like Wonder Woman‘s last year, within the context of the superhero/comic book blockbusters, is sort of groundbreaking. It’s actually amazing—I won’t deny that. Nor am I going to elaborate on the said achievement here, because with so many rave reviews (initially 100% on RT, then came the few negative reviews, which eventually were met with backlash—it’s the internet, y’know) I’m pretty sure it has already been covered. A lot. So loud were the raves that some black dude has been wondering if majority of white geek dudes are being too lenient in their review for a movie that features an African king from a secret kingdom with advanced technology that’s both organic and alien. As if most reviews zoomed-in on the great things about the movie and zoomed-out when it comes to its flaws. That the critics seemed to have graded Black Panther on a curve—the Marvel grading curve.

In a little over two hours, Black Panther is able to tell a familiar story about family, politics, race, nationhood, and fighting for the oppressed, in a superhero frame that’s all wrapped in vibrant African color. The best thing about it is its narrative: the well fleshed-out characters and clear-cut central conflict. It’s like the first Thor movie actually. Wakanda minus its best-kept secret, is like Asgard. The rivalry between T’Challa and Erik Stevens, like that of Thor and Loki, only twice as compelling. Erik Stevens aka Killmonger also reminds me of Hela’s exiled heir to the throne, only with more humane than pure evil motivations and thus, he’s easily among Marvel’s memorable villains to date. And compared with other superhero/comic book movies that imbued its story with the topical, political and air of relevance—The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, X-MenBlack Panther has arguably the most cogent overall narrative. (more…)

Pinoy Blonde (Peque Gallaga, 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’.