Tuesday, January 29, 2013






Josh Brolin

Ryan Gosling 

Sean Penn

Gangster Squad, seems to be one of those movies that historically happened but turned into Action Movies type. It can go through for better or for worse or maybe it could be in the middle of it, did it follow the road those kind of movie went through? Let's dive in to Gangster Squad.

Gangster Squad - In 1949,The Chief of the LAPD, Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) enlists Sgt. John O' Mara (Josh Brolin) to create a secret squad of underground cops to take down the biggest mob boss of Los Angeles Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) as he rise from power over the city of angels.

I was very excited to see Gangster Squad, from the start I thought it has a pretty good (scratch that: great) ensemble cast. But the excitement pretty much got into halt when they had to delay the release date 4 months later because they had to cut out one scene that happens to be a Theater Shooting so that it will not offend those people in the "Aurora Theater Shooting Tragedy". Getting that out of the way, was the wait worth it? Yeah, My expectations but exceed and eluded at the same time. But in fairness I did enjoy the movie.

The reason why I said that my expectations were eluded because of the fact that there were things that I don't expect where it would go on different directions. The movie looked like it will be that popcorn action type movie but then it takes to different roads, it didn't know what it wants to be. The movie tries to be a drama, at some point it's this over-the-top action flick and forcibly try to put some humanity to the characters in a bad way. To go into detail with three of the statements, The movie was  a well put together in the first half but the second half was a mess. The movie tried it's best to develop these characters with some sort of humanity, which I don't mind sometimes as long as it is relevant to the storytelling but here at some point it was told well but at some point wasn't and it felt forced, and it mostly revolve around Giovanni Ribisi's part. Sometimes the drama will be off-ly developed as the movie progresses, when people got killed off there wasn't really much depth to give a shit about that one character who died. Also Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's romance I didn't buy but I did buy Brolin's relationship with his wife more (despite the fact on how cliche it is). The tones got mixed in with actual history and over-the-top really poorly. Those were a few things that bothered me about this movie.

But were there any good things to pick up from this movie? actually, yes. Despite my complaints I was still able to enjoy the film. It was definitely a good popcorn flick. Every action scene is entertaining even if it does discount the fact that this is somewhat a real life story, there were a lot of action scenes that really stuck out to me as I got out of the theater. What I also like is how well written some characters are, especially the gangster squad itself as they have this good enough on-screen camaraderie. The writing for this movie was both clever and sometimes flat, When I first saw Sean Penn in the trailer doing his "menacing" monologue (making all the  "boom", "bam" sounds in that monologue) It took me away a little bit when I was watching the trailer, here you got some lines like that both worked and fell flat. The performances I thought was very good in this movie, despite the fact that some characters weren't really developed very well. Not to go into detail with this huge cast, Josh Brolin continues to impress me with this new young Tommy Lee Jones image, Ryan Gosling was also great there were a few scenes coming from him that is memorable and he was also great in this movie (he had that Drive vibe, I think that's his new image now). Sean Penn, earlier I did say about my first impression about Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen was not very good, It looks to be that he'd be a little too over the top but when I watched the film I thought that he wasn't bad, his over the top performance worked out pretty well pulling as he shapes up to be this badass and threatening villain in the movie. Emma Stone, was barely developed and ends up having a rushed romance with Ryan Gosling (that I really couldn't buy). The Gangster Squad themselves, Anthony Mackie and Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Patrick were good as well and some of them did deliver an entertaining enough performance. 

In the end, Gangster Squad was not that bad and not that good, But in all fairness it was a very entertaining movie as it captures both the dark and glamorous side of Los Angeles in the late 40s and director Ruben Fleischer and the cast were able to deliver an entertaining action movie. It still has flaws in the writing and pacing department because of the second half (which was pretty messy) they could've worked it all out. Going back to that theater scene I thought they disguised that scene very well, I couldn't really pick point which scene it was going to come in. In this movie, I liked it for those small good bits. I would recommend you see this movie If you want to see a very good popcorn flick, but it's not necessarily something It's not necessarily something to get out of your way to watch, It could be a good rental i suppose.





Wednesday, January 16, 2013


MOVIE REVIEW - Les Misérables



Hugh Jackman

Anne Hathaway

Russell Crowe

There were many versions of Les Miserables over the past few decades But the most famous and what people call the definitive version of Les Miserables is the Musical version. But then hollywood were able to get their hands on this property and promised a movie-ized version of the highly-acclaimed broadway musical. Many were excited, Many feared that it would be horrendous. But with a huge cast of talented people came on board with a very talented director, many have changed their minds, and many continues to anticipate this film. And now we finally have it, gracing our silver screens.

This is based on a book that is later adapted to a play/musical that is very highly (I mean highly) acclaimed by critics and audience alike over the past few decades. It is centered around; Jean Valjean a criminal who was able to break parole after serving many years in prison to do so, as he escapes he wishes to turn his life around as he runs away from his past life. Years later, he meets this woman and vows to take care of his daughter for her. But his past continues to follow his trails as Javert returns to hunt him down. 

I have always been familiar with the musical since i was very young since my music teacher would show us various musical works like Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz and Les Miserables. That being said, I have been anticipating on Les Misérables ever since i have heard that the musical is being adapted into a film. When I first saw the trailer of Anne Hathaway's interpretation of the classic "I Dreamed A Dream" just blew me away and made me shed a manly tear. But to be perfectly honest, I was not a very big fan of musicals. Probably because I don't see a lot of musicals in the theater (because they are very expensive), But I still love some musicals (besides some works from Andrew-Lloyd Webber), I thoroughly enjoy them. But the main reason why that i was anticipating on this movie (even if I am not a big fan of musicals) is because of utter curiosity and seeing this as a very ambitious film from the start because of the director, the actors and the fact that the actors give out a really raw performance like how actors in musicals do (had to say it again, that trailer pretty much made this movie look like a musical with an epic scale). Now that i have watched it, I definitely enjoyed this movie; I thought that this is a beautiful and engaging film. That's saying a lot for a guy like me, who is not a very big fan of musicals/movies like this. 

Of all the musical-turned-to-movies that i have seen in the past this is probably different out of all them. It had that cinematic feel to it, but it never loses its musical feel. By musical feel i mean by how the actors are filmed when they are singing and acting, (director) Tom Hooper does these close-up facial shots a lot in his past movies and it fits very well in a movie like this and what made it work with it is how the director let's these people sing live on set than lip-syncing (in their pre-recorded voices), though there were many shots that are very distracting. You can see it on their face, you can hear it from their voices that they are really singing naturally, every emotion they give out has a huge amount of effectiveness to you like how real musical actors give out in a live musical. Usually in adaptations, there’d be changes. Re-watching the concert of Les Miserables a month before seeing this film, I can tell in this movie that they changed a lot of the lyrics; they cut a few lines of the songs that is necessary, at some songs it works but in some songs it felt rushed a little bit and also they cut out a few songs. They also added a new song which is “Suddenly” I thought that the song was added in the movie very well, it was added in the right time and it really illustrated the tender and kind side of Jean Valjean very well. The performances in this movie were just incredible to see in the big screen with surround sound (200 pesos well spent). Do keep in mind though, this is not your everyday musical, since (say) 99% of the dialogue in this movie are being sung, word by word (and if not it’d be a second of vocal break) usually there’d be a huge gap of spoken dialogue and it’d be a set-up to another song. But here it felt like the movie never stopped for a break and when they do it's a 15-second break. Also to keep in mind is that this is a rather lengthy film with a huge cast of characters to develop (almost 3 hours, this movie is). At some point the movie flew by faster than you thought and then it would drastically slow down up to the point that the last half felt very rushed with its development. If I would have a complaint about this movie it would be that.

Speaking of performances, the performances are a really big deal in this movie. Each and every one of the actors gave their all in this movie through singing and acting (though one actor can only handle 1 out of the 2 things I mentioned and I will go to that later on). Tom Hooper knows how to direct actors very well up to the point that the actors deliver such an effective performance (Again, taking an example from the King’s Speech). Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were the ones who really stood out to me in the entire film and yet this is probably their best performance yet. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean is a joy to see this character brought to life again in the silver screen. I’ve always thought that he is a very good stage performer and actor over the past years, when I heard that he is playing Jean Valjean, it was a very big surprise to me hearing the news that he is casted as that character. Anne Hathaway was definitely the one that stood out in the singing department, because when you hear her sing “I Dreamed a Dream”… Wow….  I’m no Simon Cowell to judge someone’s singing, because I’m not very good at judging singers and music in general. But going back, Anne Hathaway brought a very strong presence as she sings in this movie, the amount of emotion she brought in both her acting and singing performance is just incredible to watch. Russell Crowe is probably the mixed bag of the movie, Acting-wise he is very good as usual but Singing-Wise… Eh…. Russell Crowe’s singing is like the first time watching a movie in 3D, it takes some time to adjust until you get used to it and starts to look (in this case, sound) good for you. He was fine in the movie, he delivered a good enough singing performance in a few songs. Then again it could’ve been worst for the guy like Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia. I’m not really going to go into detail with the others since this is a huge cast. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were able to deliver hilarious and entertaining performances every time they are on-screen. Samantha Barks, this movie is definitely her breakthrough performance (even if she is the same character from the concert version), she also delivered a powerful performance as well,  Aaron Tveit, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried are great as well and in the end. In the end the cast delivered powerful performances from start to finish.

In conclusion, i enjoyed this movie very much this movie is the definitive movie-musical experience to me, Its a musical with epic proportions, It is enjoyable it is entertaining, and it is very well done. Director Tom Hooper and the cast did a tremendous job delivering this movie, each and every one of the cast delivered such a powerful performance that you may leave the theater with your eyes bawled because of how attached to these very engaging characters, the writing and the way they envisioned the movie through the visuals (again) really felt like a broadway musical that has come to life in the big screen, the set pieces are immaculate to look at. The writing made you believe that these people are at their lowest low, you root for the heroes, laugh at the comedic timing, and brood for the villain. The movie did feel rushed, the movie did dragged but still Les Miserables is a great film nonetheless. Not only does it deserve your money but also your standing ovation (which the audience in the theater I was in surprisingly did). Fans of the musical will definitely love this movie, If you don't like musicals at all this movie may or may not change your mind about them.



4.5/5 – SO CLOSE! (FOR THE WIN!)

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Saturday, January 12, 2013



G.P. Manalo


Saruj Sharma

Irffan Khan

Life Of Pi –Is based on a highly-acclaimed book with the same name about a Young man­ named, Pi travels to North America with his family to build a new life there but along the way they got caught by a huge storm that results to a shipwreck having, Pi the only one who survived the crash and a tiger named, Richard Parker. And from there on he found himself building a friendship with this tiger as they go on their journey of survival together.

I have heard a lot about the book, Life of Pi over the years, it being acclaimed as a brilliant book, so brilliant that it is un-filmable. And probably earlier last year they showed the trailer, the visuals looked fantastic, it caught my eye immediately but as I look back on stories about the book I was very curious on how will the story turn out as it is told in the movie. That being said, the movie did exceed all of my expectations, I definitely thought that this movie is Amazing.

I did not read the book unfortunately; everything is very new to me despite the fact that I have heard a lot of praise about the book for the past years, there were many surprises to me for the fact that it is a very preachy film (not in a bad way, I don’t mind the movie to be preachy at some point, just not too much) and also a very dark film for a G-rated film (MTRCB strikes again). Going to the subject of this being preachy is the fact that this movie is built up on religion, facts like maintaining your faith in God, believing in something, and pretty much questioning faith. As the movie begin, they introduce the religious side of the character from the get-go and it was the main focus of the flashback of his earlier life then it did dragged the movie from there but as the film go on you realize that the religion is a big deal throughout the film, the move delivering these messages and Pi being marooned with this tiger is the most interesting part of the film. Visually, the movie is a feast for the eyes, they were just- Stunning. The visuals worked out very well with the 3D, and when I say the visuals work well with the 3D it really did, things are literally popping out of the screen. It is probably the best 3D movie I have seen this year (and the year just begun, can you believe that?). The Visuals in this movie is very out of this word because I was told that all of the animals in this film are CGI animals (Mind-blowing, Isn't it?) . But they look like they aren’t, the attention to detail is spot on and they are so animated very well you believe they are real. Then again seeing real animals drown or get eaten realistically will be too much. And lastly to get all visuals out of the way, at some point the movie would be shot in this reflection-esque type like the water would reflect the sky or something like that. I thought those were also great to see in the movie, Ever since Skyfall i started to notice very good cinematography and I don't usually judge cinematography. In the end, the shots in this movie is beautiful to watch on the big screen.

That being said, this movie was very well directed by Ang Lee. Ang lee knows how to develop characters, work on visuals and friendships that doesn’t feel forced or cheesy at all (Disregarding Hulk 2003). That being said I love how they illustrated Pi and Richard Parker’s friendship in this movie. Because it would’ve went on a cheesy Hollywood-ized type of animal/human friendship but it didn’t it was executed very well. The film really took a long time to develop these characters but in the end you started to care for these characters as they try to survive. But what made it all work is because of first timer Saruj Sharma's performance, his performance is why the execution worked out very well. In the end you believed that these two are very good friends in the end, you believed in their territorial battles, you believe that the tiger and his surroundings are real, and that's saying a lot for a first-timer. I also thought the delivery of Irffan Khan’s emotions are effective (to be honest I almost cried at his speech as he conclude his story), props to him and again to Ang Lee for very good direction visually and in terms of execution at the acting department.

In the end, Ang Lee delivered yet another great piece of filmmaking (again disregarding Hulk 2003) from visuals to acting. This movie may be a “feast for the eyes” but it is a very interesting piece of craft by the one and only Ang Lee. I have to admit it did drag at some point of the film, but if you are a little patient with the movie you might enjoy some scenes for what it is. It is not necessarily a perfect movie, but enough to be so. It is probably the most unique movie I have seen so far. I would recommend it to you, If you are very annoyed by preachy types of movies this may or may not work out very well for you, It may be an extensive sermon but it is a sermon that we need to hear. The movie is well acted, well executed, visually stunning I’d recommend you see it in theaters in 3D when you can because if you don’t you are definitely missing out, It is definitely a cinematic experience you can't miss.