Thursday, February 14, 2008
Jumper

So here's one of the few movies that I've been waiting for this year. I read that it's an action/adventure/sci-fi movie, so that got me interested. And then I read that it had Hayden Christensen in it, and that got me more interested. So I watched it with my friend on opening night, and I'm happy to say that it did not disappoint. Big Smile

Yehey!! Hooray for movies meeting my expectations!!

I'll tell you the bad news first: The
story's quite simple. There are no complicated plot twists or puzzles that you as an audience have to solve. No mysteries, no confusing signs or symbolisms, it really doesn't require too much brain work. Then again, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to think too much when watching a movie, I guess this would be good news for you. But I'm considering this a disadvantage because no mysteries or moral issues (well, there are little bits of moral issues, but they're not the focus of the story) is a bit wasteful of the sci-fi element. I mean, what's good with creating an entirely different world where people have super abilities is that you can get people to think about what else could happen to their lives and all that, but this movie didn't have too many such dilemmas. Still, it makes for a very entertaining story, especially because of the good news:

Really cool
special effects. I honestly can't imagine this story being told as a book or even a graphic novel because the fast-paced action (or at least the change in scenery) is really a great effect. The characters get to visit different places (and they're all really cool sites) in the world, and do cool stuff, so I guarantee you'll never get bored watching the Jumpers, well, jump (or "teleport" is the more common term for it).

Music was fine, and I actually liked the dialogue pretty well.
Simple, but it works. I'm glad there weren't any prophetic lines or philosophical discussions, which maybe is contradicting to what I first said (on how the story is really simple), but what I really mean with this paragraph is that I'm glad they didn't try to be pretentious and insert seemingly philosophical quotes in the midst of a simple story. Actually, this is one of those stories where it's as if you're dropped in the middle of a bigger story, and then when the movie ends, that bigger story hasn't ended either, but like I said, for this movie, it works great.

And it gets plus points because
Hayden Christensen looks really really good. I mean, he's really got that "mysterious good boy turned bad" role down pat. Random thought: It would probably be really cool if Michael Scofield was a Jumper. I might actually really like Prison Break if that ever happened. Tongue

Rachel Bilson was fine. She had kind of a small role, though, so I can't really dwell on it. Actually, most of the supporting characters had small roles, which is kind of a
waste in talent because they've got Jamie Bell (he was hilarious, by the way), Samuel Jackson and Diane Lane as cast members, and they're all somewhat "big time" Holllywood actors, right? But I guess too much attention on them would make the audience lose focus on Hayden's character, and that might not make it a good movie.

All in all, I'd say it's a really really good movie, one that I don't regret watching,
glad I didn't miss, and wouldn't mind watching again. (Not too many times, though.)


Posted at 04:02 pm by miriyammqx
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Call me crazy, but I totally loved it.

Yes, it was gory. Yes, a lot of parts were just way gross, and no, I'm not a sadist, but I really really liked the movie. Most probably because the story's so cool.

Okay, plot-wise, it was kind of typical. I mean--good guy has beautiful wife, bad guy gets wife and makes good guy disappear, and after some years, good guy comes back under a different identity to get revenge. I can name at least two other stories with the same plot--The Count of Monte Cristo, and Zorro (and El Filibusterismo, well, kind of). So what made Sweeney Todd different from the rest? Well, the fact that he killed a lot of people, of course! Because in most other stories, the good guy still remains the good guy, despite wanting revenge. But in Sweeney Todd, there's a point where you think that he might just be worse than the original bad guy.

The supporting characters were all brialliant as well. Mrs. Lovett played by Helena Bonham Carter is so sick in the head, she and Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) are the perfect match (as she keeps pointing out herself). And even the children involved, Toby and Anthony, are wonderfully twisted as well.

This is one of those movies where a lot of really bad things happen, but it's not depressing at all. Just... disturbing, I guess. And though I'm not a fan of disturbing stuff, I still think that the dark atmosphere of this is just right.

I've been wanting to know the entire story of Sweeney Todd ever since I heard about it from a writing workshop back in college, but have so far not found any book on it, and it's not like they've ever had a broadway production of it here. Since I can't compare it to the original broadway production, I'd have to say that as a film, and if I were judging it as a standalone thing, I really think that it's very very good. In fact, I think it works really well as a film, because you'd be able to see close-up how Sweeney Todd kills his victims, and the special effects were great (WAY better than Kill Bill).

Nevermind that it was a musical, I think the music even worked better for this one, than for Moulin Rouge. It wasn't at all funny or weird, when they would break into song and dance in the middle of killing people and plotting revenge. I don't know how they did it, but it totally worked.

Anyway, this is one of those proofs that story can overcome anything (any other film aspect) any day. Because when you think about it, a barber singing and dancing, isn't exactly something you'd be scared of, or even a crazy old hag who makes pies. But put into the context of a good story like Sweeney Todd, well, it's completely different. Very creepy-different. I love it.

Oh, and hooray! The ticket lady and security guard asked me and my friend if we were over 18! Haha! I look younger than my age! :P


Posted at 05:36 pm by miriyammqx
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Monday, January 14, 2008
The Golden Compass

Right. So I have not updated this blog in more than a month. Pardon me, but I just don't find a lot of recent movies interesting. Add to that the fact that I'm still finding it difficult to find people to see movies with me, my lack of funds, and time, and anyway... I'm glad this was still being shown in cinemas, despite my long absence, and that my sister was back home for a while and so we got a chance to see it. Anyway...

I'm not really too keen on discussing the whole controversial issue regarding this film. Mostly because I haven't read the book, haven't read the e-mail that says controversial things about it, have no idea who Philip Pullman is and what his beliefs are, and could frankly care less about all the controversies in literature. I mean, Harry Potter has been burned and banned in a lot of circles because they say it promotes witchcraft, and therefore the "devil's work". But when I read it, it's just good fun, which is the same thing I can say for this movie, except I didn't read it, I watched it. And I had a really good time watching it.

The story goes like this: In The Golden Compass universe, people's souls are detached from their bodies and takes shape of animals (which is really cool, by the way), which they call Daemons. Some of them believe that there are parallel worlds wherein daemons don't exist (I suppose that that is the world we know). And those people who believe that, want to find it. Unfortunately, finding such things as parallel worlds brings about a lot of questions, that are contrary to the teachings of the organization that rules said universe, and so the organization does its best to quiet the people who are looking for more answers (or questions). One of which, is a girl named Lyra, played by Dakota Blue Richards, who is prophesized (by the witches) to be the one (the only one in their universe) who is able to read the golden compass, which is the key to finding the parallel worlds, and other truths. Hence, she is being chased by people of the organization, Mrs. Coulter for one, played by Nicole Kidman, so as not to spread the word that organization's teachings aren't all correct/true.

Okay, that's not actually the story but the main idea of it. The story is that, Lyra goes on a quest to rescue her friends who have been kidnapped by the organization. Along the way, she meets a bear (and it's a magical bear, so it's strong, and it can talk to humans) called Iorek Byrnison, voiced by Ian McKellen. She enlists his help, and succeeds in the rescue of her friends, but in the end, she finds out that her work isn't finished because despite having set kidnapped children free, she still has yet to find her uncle who has been marked for death by the organization, and let people know the truth.

Of course, in order to do those things, the characters do a lot of other cool things, like ride in blimps, or other air-vehicles that aren't exactly like the airplanes we know. They talk to animals, and fight with beasts, and ride in carriages pulled by animals that aren't quite horses. The truth is, I really enjoyed watching the movie, because the fantasy world is really very original, and though the story is yet again about some Chosen One who needs to tell people the truth and go up against some bad guys, well, the little things, like the animals changing shape, or other magics, more than make up for it.

Another truth is that I didn't find any connection whatsoever with what people say about it, how it promotes atheism and all that. The only thing I can find that might have a connection to it, is how Lyra is very defiant, questioning everything she's being told, and doing whatever she wants, regardless of whether the adults in the story allow her to do them or not. But that trait is present in many other characters of stories (fairy tales even) that are well-loved to this day by most people from all religions, that it hardly qualifies as atheist propaganda.

Of course, the book might be another case, but as this is a review of the movie, I'm going to say that the movie is really quite safe. I'm thinking, that if I didn't think I should be an atheist after seeing it, chances are, other people (especially kids) wouldn't either.


Posted at 05:59 pm by miriyammqx
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Saturday, November 24, 2007
One More Chance

And I finally got to see another movie! Yeah!

I'm seeing another one later tonight as well (Enchanted), and I'm just soo glad that the movie slump is over. Well, sort of. After Stardust, it seemed as though the only movies playing were action/political/bad comedy ones, so I didn't get to watch another movie until yesterday. Anyway, I had lots and lots of fun seeing One More Chance with my friends!

Before I give the review though, I guess I just want to rant about how watching Filipino movies are getting to be so mainstream. A friend told me that she saw this movie on its opening day and the line for it was so long, she felt like she was seeing Harry Potter again. Okay, maybe she was exagerrating, but nonetheless there was a long line. Even within my office, a lot of people made plans to see it, which is of course good, because that keeps Philippine Cinema alive (!), but oh well, you know me and mainstream stuff. I'm just not too keen on sharing things with people who I feel don't genuinely appreciate them, and are just in it because they think it's funny. And I don't appreciate the sarcastic remarks either (e.g. "It's the best movie kaya!"). I mean, if they really thought that, they wouldn't be laughing while they said that it was the best movie (ever!) they've seen, right?

Okay, but I'm ranting on places where rants are not needed. This is supposed to be a movie review! Right. So... Beware of spoilers!

Quick synopsis:

Basha (Bea Alonzo) and Popoy (John Lloyd Cruz) have been together for five years. They started going out in college, and since then they've been inseperable. Having the same friends and being in related fields (Basha's an architect, Popoy's an engineer) make them live, almost just one life. And so, Basha wanted out. She needed some space. So she breaks up with Popoy, leaving him a broken-hearted mess, while she goes out to "find herself", learning how life could be without him.

Just some (small) pet peeves:

I don't like their names at all. I kept cringing whenever I heard them say "Bash", just because it sounds like a wrestler name to me. But it's just a name. A rose by any other would smell just as sweet. Blah blah. I'm very nitpicky with names.

I'm not very fond of the terms "finding yourself" and "I need space". It's right up there with "friends with benefits" and "I need closure", which are all right up there with "It's not you, it's me." and "We could still be friends". Yes, I am aware that it's difficult to express thoughts and feelings, and there's nothing wrong with using "pre-set" terms to define a relationship. But somehow, when you use something that's already been said by a lot of people that it becomes a staple break-up line, or worse, a running joke among couples, it just seems less sincere to me.

I'm so used to seeing John Lloyd and Bea in a GP - PG13 movie, that well, I just don't think the semi-R scenes were necessary. For example, that scene where they kissed and eventually went to bed, I think, could've been just fine if they'd just kissed (very passionately, if the point was to show that they still had that physical connection), and then one of them comes to his/her senses, and suddenly stands back and retreats to either the elevator or the apartment. I think that would've given the same message.

And now that those are out of the way:

Did y'all notice the symbolisms in the movie, yeah? I like this movie because it had a lot of it. I like symbolisms because 1) it makes the audience think a little more; and 2) it's great when you find it! :)

So here are the ones I found:

1) Basha's Wardrobe - Sure, she went through a "change", the most obvious one being her haircut, but did y'all notice that her clothes became different, too? I did, because I remember noticing how cute her dresses were at the beginning of the movie, and how she kept wearing pants in the middle of the movie, and how in the scene where she and Popoy sort of "rekindled" their feelings, she was once again, wearing a dress. And then at the ending, she'd "combined" the old her, and the new her, by wearing an outfit of the new her, with the hairstyle of the old her. It's nothing big, but sometimes I do think that costumes are underrated, despite it being a huge part of a character.

2) The Picture Frame - This being the most obvious one, I suspect we all know that of course, when Popoy was trying to erase the dust mark (?) that an old picture frame (which had his and Basha's dreamhouse on it) made, he was really trying to erase the mark that Basha had left on his heart (eww, mush). But he just couldn't.

3) The Hardhat! - Did you all remember Popoy's comment about how he didn't need to give Basha a hardhat because she wouldn't leave him anyway? It was just mentioned in passing, but how cute was it when Basha put a hardhat on his head at the end of the movie, symbolizing that she would ensure that she wouldn't let him go again? I think it was just so cute. At first I thought it was unfair because hey, they both need hardhats in the kind of relationship they had, but I guess it was justified because it had been Basha who left Popoy in the first place. The scene reminded of the Korean movie My Boyfriend is Type B, where at the beginning of their relationship it was Lee Dong Gun's character who could say to his girl "If you're not here in 100 seconds, I'm breaking up with you." But then in the end, it was the girl who says that to him, and it's his turn to submit. It's just so cute.

4) The Umbrella! - Whee! I love the rain! And I love umbrellas! I actually collect them. Haha! Anyway, I think it was hard to miss how Popoy used the same umbrella from their romantic scene in their college days, that time when they'd already broken up, but he rescued Basha anyway when her car broke down. Sometimes I think it's really the little things like that that hurt even more, because you very often forget the little things, but when you see them again, they can bring back the deepest of feelings you've ever felt.

(Disclaimer for the next part -- the quotes are just an approximation. I couldn't very well write them down in the cinema, so these are all from memory. They might not be exact. But the meaning's just the same (I hope).)

What else can I say? This movie was a total tear jerker! Namaga ang mata ko! I think I was already crying 10 minutes into the movie where Popoy had said, "You're asking for too much! Hinihingi mong mawala ka sa buhay ko..."

Waahh! I get teary eyed just thinking about it. But the part I really cried in, at least the first part (haha!) was when Popoy stood in the rain and said, "Kung magkasakit kaya ako, kakausapin niya 'ko?" Waah T_T it's just so, true, isn't it? I mean, I've not only thought of getting myself sick, but actually seriously considered walking into an "accident" that breaks some of my bones, just to get the attention I want.

And that whole, "Isang text lang ng nanay niya, nandun na'ko. Isang text lang!" that Popoy was saying, when he was drowning his sorrows with alcohol, well... I think I even wrote a poem with that same feeling.

Oh no, I'm giving too much information about my life now, aren't I? Is it a bad thing that I can relate more to Popoy and not Basha? (Haha! I'm a controlling freak! :P) Maybe this entry belongs to my other blog instead. Hehe. But seriously, I think the biggest strength of the movie lies in how so many people will be able to relate to it. A friend of mine said to me once, "The common mistake that people in relationships make is that they always do the things that's for the growth of the relationship. They completely neglect their personal growth."

And a line like that was said in the movie, too. (By Bea's (er, PBB Bea, I don't know her last name and I'm too lazy to research) character) "Hindi sila magiging okey unless okey si Basha. At hindi magiging okey si Basha unless magkahiwalay sila." Or something like that.

Anyway, I think that that's the main message of the movie, so I don't hate Basha's character at all. And when she said she was hurting, too, well... It really made me see that it's not necessarily just the "dumpee" that gets hurt, no matter how much the "dumper" wants to get out. And yeah, I think she's right in thinking that she might be hurting even more than Popoy because it was her choice to break up with him in the first place. So when he gets over it, she doesn't really have a right to get mad at him. And not having the right to get mad at anyone, well, that's a b*tch.

The only other thing I didn't like was how Maja Salvador who plays Popoy's new girlfriend Trisha, did not give justice to her role as a singer, and didn't deliver her lines well at all. Can she maybe get a speech coach or something? Because I really think that the scene where she said some lyrics out loud was such a key scene, and it was totally ruined by her pronunciation. Audiences notice things like that. Why is Winona Ryder so famous for giving dramatic monologues? Because her pronunciation is top notch.

And now that's done. This is by far the weirdest movie review I've ever written. Or, the weirdest time I've had, writing a review. I'm just feeling very emotional at the moment. And although there are a lot more stuff I could say about the film, I'm just not in the condition right now where I can think straight.

P.S. The 3-month rule was hilarious, and so were all the comedy scenes including the whole "Love is blind" and "Take me, Lord" thing. Hehe.

Posted at 11:57 am by miriyammqx
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Friday, October 19, 2007
Stardust

First off, let me start by saying I've never read the book this was based on, so don't expect any comparisons here. And for those of you who are thinking of leaving a comment on how the movie sucks because they left out very important details/scenes that were in the book, then I'd rather you not leave a comment. I'm reviewing the movie. Not the book. I just want to make that clear.

And now that that's done, let's get on with it.

The story was a tad predictable. And I don't just mean the love story (because obviously that's predictable), but the whole thing--how the king's just died and so they're looking for a new ruler, and how there's a "long lost heir" to the throne. And even the whole, "wicked witch wants to capture a young maiden to steal her youth and beauty" is such a fantasy/fairy tale postulate, I'm surprised Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) didn't plan on marrying the hero herself in order to become Queen of Stormhold. So I guess I have to say that it's not the story that makes this movie good, which is not to say that it's bad, because I really really liked it.

So the characters were a bit flat since there were no internal dilemmas (save for Captain Shakespeare--although his dilemma was more of a comic relief rather than a heavy dramatic issue that becomes the turning point of the story) within themselves--the good guys were still good by the end of the movie, and same goes for the bad guys. But whoever said there was anything wrong with an old-fashioned battle between good and evil? I, for one, enjoyed immensely how the seeming underdogs--a shopboy and a star who does nothing but shine (this reminds of the glowing kid in Sky High whose power was considered semi-useless so he was just a "sidekick") were able to overcome the obstacles thrown at them--escaping the powerful witch's clutches, becoming friends with a pirate crew, and even beating a handful of princes (okay, technically they only met 2 of them) at a chance for the throne (and they did this unconsciously).

There were a number of suspenseful moments, too. I mean, it's no Die Hard 4.0, but the action/fight scenes were made in such a way that is still pretty exciting to watch, even if you already know who's going to win. Anyway, I think what makes this movie really stand out is the involvement of magic. Granted, that there are many other "magical" movies out there, but only in this one can you find a Babylon Candle that takes you to places, merely by thinking about them, and runes (I love these things!) that answer your "Yes or No" questions accurately. Most especially, where else have you seen a star, in human form, whose heart can give eternal life to whomever eats it?

There is something to be said, for stories like this, which can compile all the usual fantasy elements, characters, even plot lines, but still make it work as something that's like no other.

I'm also quite glad that even though Stormhold is another world, there weren't any half-human, half-something else or other invented creatures that don't exist in our world (save for the unicorn, but these are so common in fantasy movies nowadays, it's hardly magical). The animals were just animals, and the people were just people. No orcs, elves, centaurs or wookiees getting in the way. Really, that alone is already a refreshing change from all the other stories of the same genre.

And speaking of the same genre, was anybody else reminded of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" while seeing this movie? Because that scene in the pirate ship totally reminded me of the Vogon ship in the Hitchhiker's Guide. Anyway, my conclusion is that this is the first movie that although it doesn't have any shocking twists, was still able to surprise and excite me, so I'm giving it 5 stars (if I gave stars, which I don't really, but that's not the point, hehe :P).


Posted at 11:49 am by miriyammqx
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