Friday, May 31, 2013

THE LEGITIMATE SEQUEL

MOVIE REVIEW:

THE HANGOVER PART III


By:
G.P. MANALO


Starring:

Bradley Cooper

Zach Galifianakis

Ed Helms

A movie like the Hangover wasn’t the kind of movie that you would expect to have a sequel (that will meanwhile form a trilogy). Long-story-short The Hangover is one of the best comedies out there but not something to give sequels to especially when it’s just a re-hash of its predecessor for the sake of getting even greater amount of cash. The only thing worth thinking about for a guy like me (who wasn’t a fan of the last film) is the legitimacy of this film as a sequel. Will this be the actual Hangover sequel or will it just be Hangover 1.9?

The Hangover Part III – The Wolfpack is back for one last adventure together; this time there is no wedding, no bachelor party, and no hangover. Alan has to be taken to a rehab facility because of his “odd” behavior.  They are meanwhile given a mission by a crime-lord known as, Marshall and that mission is to find Leslie Chow and his stolen stash of money from him for 3 days or their friend, Doug will die.

I was expecting a lot from this movie, from the previews I can tell that this could possibly be a legitimate sequel than Part II was supposed to be as it retires from the formula of the original and be a different movie and have a legitimate continuity as a sequel is supposed to be. Thankfully that did came true, I can say that this is a better sequel and movie than the last one but that is not saying much.

The movie is definitely different from the past two movies, like I said there is no hangover but just crazy shenanigans. The way it was executed was rather ballsy; the road it took us to is rather different than your average comedy, the movie is more of a thriller than a comedy but when they do plaster some bits of comedy in that road it did feel out of place, you feel the absence of the comedic element throughout the film when you watch intense scenes. When there was comedy in most of the intense scenes of this movie, I had the feeling of the movie not knowing its true identity, I would’ve liked it if they did stay with the thrilling element of the story but perhaps it is the writing’s fault for not thinking of something clever to pull off in the thrilling set-pieces.

The comedy on the other hand was lacking, there were a few hard laughs here and there (I think the part where I laughed the hardest was the post-credits scene), Most of the jokes feels forced in a lot of situations, the jokes overstay its welcome, there were a few jokes in the movie where it was a good and funny joke but they keep going instead of stopping in the punch line.  I believe those are my gripes about this movie. I was very much entertained with the action set-pieces throughout the movie, there was this one scene in Las Vegas where it was the edge-of-your-seat type of an action scene (almost felt like that Dubai Tower scene from Mission Impossible IV). Story-wise I thought that this movie did have a few genuine twists and the continuity did work, they don’t feel shoe-horned in the movie (like every re-hashed element from The Hangover Part II), the things where they would mention most of the things that happened in the past two movies actually helped progress the story, than it is shoe-horned in some way for the sake of being there for no reason at all. The movie having no hangover didn’t really bother me (It was a ballsy choice). I can see why people will be bothered by the fact that the one thing that made this movie what it is, is not in the movie.  

 Before I go into detail with the cast, the other main gripe I had with this movie is the fact on how they take Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong’s character to center stage too much. Admittedly they did have their moments, but the way they were focused gratuitously was unpleasant to watch. Zach Galifianakis’ Alan had the change of character in this movie where he is an asshole that is not the loveable type that he was in the first one, we’ve seen it in the second one and the way they handled that in this movie is even worse. It was bearable to watch him do some first world problem type of jokes and the obliviousness of the character did go out of hand that it ends up being annoying (my friend even labeled him as “the type of guys he would kill” that’s how annoying he was). What’s even worse is that his attitude was more of an excuse as a plot device, which was handled very poorly in the movie due to the lack of cleverness the writing did give him in this movie. Ken Jeong’s character is the focal point of this movie, he was funny for the most part in this movie but like Alan they went really crazy with his character, his character did have some moments where I laughed out loud in the theater but most of the times it is rather bearable to watch as well, the cast in every 10 seconds of the movie stresses the fact on how crazy or out of his mind, he is and they would say it out loud for the audience to understand.

 
The remaining cast like; Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha were just riding the train for this. Like I said earlier, the movie spends it’s time on doing comedic timing. These 3 actors had some little time to shine when it comes to comedy; they were more in the awkward position of the joke while Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong do their thing. John Goodman felt a bit under-used I wished they explored his character a little bit more, I would’ve like to see him bring out his comedic chops (maybe in a Big Lebowski-esque way) but he is more of the thriller-element than being the comedic element of the movie. Even, Melissa McCarthy is in this movie for the latter half, she felt like she was shoe-horned in there just to be a plot device for Zach Galifianakis’ character’s story, like John Goodman I was expecting that she’d bring out some of her famous comedic chops (especially when she was in a movie that is almost similar as The Hangover) as well but the writers didn’t really give her anything to do that much. Lastly, there were many cameos here from the first movie and those cameos did work and I enjoyed their scenes.


In the end, I enjoyed this movie to a limited extent (not really saying that much); the movie was lacking in laughs due to the mediocre writing as it never really decides the identity that the movie would keep. The movie was entertaining as it features (surprisingly) intense action, a few hard laughs and some chuckle-worthy jokes. Though most of the jokes in this movie feel forced as it left off being I wasn’t really expecting anybody to pull off an Oscar-worthy performance in a movie like this, the cast is still a stellar cast as they are talented (comedically). This is probably the best rental experience you can ever have if you are a fan of the first movie only but if you love the two movies and you want to see the story conclude, I’d say that you should wait for the ticket prices to go down.  Is it still unnecessary for this movie to have a trilogy? Yes, but now that it went too far it is too late to say, it is a solid conclusion to an unnecessary trilogy.

THE UPS:

+THRILLING ACTION SEQUENCES
+SOME FUNNY MOMENTS
+MOST OF THE PERFORMANCES IN THIS MOVIE
+GENUINE TWISTS
+STORYTELLING

THE DOWNS:
-FORCED PERFORMANCES
-FORCED COMEDIC TIMING
-THE JOKES OVERSTAYS ITS WELCOME
-A BAD MIX BETWEEN THRILLER AND COMEDY
- UNDER-USED COMEDIC ACTORS

MY RATING:


2.5/5 – RENTAL!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GLITZ AND GLAMOUR


MOVIE REVIEW:

THE GREAT GATSBY
(3D)


By:

G.P. Manalo

Starring:

Tobey Maguire

Leonardo DiCaprio

Carrey Mulligan

I believe that it is a challenge to adapt a literary classic with a stature like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic “The Great Gatsby” which is also known as “The book that many teenagers were forced to read in High School”. The Great Gatsby is such a beloved property that the fans are saying that this is one of those books that are rather “un-filmable” even if they did more than 3 film versions of the novel in the past. And of all the people to pick up this property is, Baz Luhrmann. Who is known for delivering energetic and over the top movies (haven’t seen Australia yet) that made us look at our watches for more than 5 times while watching his movies. The only thing worth expecting in properties like this is the fact that “Did this movie do the book justice?” (Or atleast “Did this movie not make F. Scott Fitzgerald roll in his grave?”)

The Great GatsbyIs based on a book with the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it follows an ambitious young man, Nick Carraway as he moves to a place next to a palace-like mansion owned by a mysterious man named, Gatsby. When he begins question about the mysterious man who lives next door to him, he was invited to his larger than life party that he throws every weekend. When he finally meets him in person not only does he discover more about him but also leads him to a risky scandal of Gatsby with Nick’s second cousin, Daisy who happens to be the wife of an wealthy and aggressive businessman, Tom Buchanan.

I was expecting a lot from this movie since I have re-read the movie just recently (If I said that my English teacher didn’t force me to read this, will you be surprised?). The movie seemed to have the (what I liked to call) Baz Luhrmann clich├ęs as I see the previews, the movie felt like I will have a lot of pretty things to look at, there will be some stand out performances, it could possibly bore me, and there will be some over the top stuff. Most of these things did come true… Unfortunately.

First thing’s first, I have read the book but I don’t want to compare this and the book way too much because I don’t think that there is a point to it, that being said I thought that this movie did the book justice – for the most part. The movie did feel like it was almost adapted word for word, there are most lines that I remember was said in the book, the way Carraway narrates and describe his experiences and also The way they did set the stage for the Great Gatsby himself and his continuous obsession for the one thing he holds on to was set up really well. Though It didn’t really hit the right notes as the book did, the film carries everything important about the book but there wasn’t really a huge impact due to the pacing of the film. The film would begin energetically and towards the mid-section of the film it would be slow and presentation-like (where they would switch from one scene to the next), the film ends that is rather rushed and you left wishing that the ending could’ve been handled a tad bit better.

At first, what worries me was Baz Luhrmann’s direction in this movie; he’s more of a stylistic director (don’t get me wrong the visuals he handled in his past movies were pretty good to look at) but when he does actors the tendency of the performances would rather be “over the top” like his visuals. From what I heard from the critics, The movie is “style over substance” as the movie showcase the parties in the first half it did felt like that (which did work on scenes like that), in fact it was like an extended music video especially in the second and the last third of the movie, the visuals made this movie look cartoony which made it very distracting to look at, though most scenes that did feature the cartoony visuals did work and were entertaining to look at as it brings the familiar landmarks and scenery of the book to life in this movie. I thought the style brought the partying aspect of the movie to life well, since one of the concepts of the movie is about “Old Money” and how far people would go with that much money and power like Gatsby so I thought the style as they feature the parties (and the story itself during the second and third act) did work.

We’ve seen Baz Luhrmann tackle this kind of story before of lost love or romance in general, I thought Baz Luhrmann handled that aspect well in the movie. His modern-esque direction worked really well in the narrative of the movie and it somehow gave us a fresh enough take on the literary classic, though this film is still told a bit exaggerated from start to finish. When I did mention an extended music video I was also referencing the music in this movie. The music in this movie is a love-hate relationship to me; the music has this jazz feel that is really authentic to the timeline, but in the mix there’s a lot of modern sound to it (from Jay-Z, Beyonce, Will.I.am., etc.) which for the most part didn’t really fit very well. I thought the addition of jazz-hip-hop songs was a very ballsy move for this movie. I was fine with most of the choices as long as that move wasn’t done just to cash in for the soundtrack sales. The visuals in this movie are a little bit over blown, most of the time they will look good while others could've been easily filmed without the green screen,  they are rather distracting to look at.

The performances in the film have both weak and great performances; most of them are even perfectly casted as their characters. I thought Leonardo DiCaprio is perfectly casted for the great Gatsby himself, If I can remember reading the book and heard that Leo was chosen for the role I can actually envision him as Gatsby the entire time of reading the book. Like I said earlier, they did handle his side of the story well enough and he is literally the best parts of the film. But Leonardo DiCaprio was not the only one who is the best in this film, Joel Edgerton’s version of Tom Buchanan is depicted well on-screen and Joel Edgerton surprisingly did a very good performance (he came a long way from being young Uncle Owen in the trilogy that needs to be forgotten). Though Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carraway was just “OK”, he’s one of those characters where I wished the filmmakers would have taken liberties on.  He is still a (bit) one-dimensional character, he wasn’t also properly developed when he is around characters and presenting the story itself, him having an impact or a real relationship with one of the characters were rather vague. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is also just “alright”, her performance was a bit over the top and cartoonish at some point.

In the end, The Great Gatsby is a faithful enough adaptation to F.Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic. It does feature monumental imagery and scene from the book that will make the fans of the book be happy of what they just saw. Though the scenes of the monumental events of the book was rather lacking in terms of impact and development as you do leave the theater wanting more from the film. Though the characters are well casted enough and most of the performances were rather weak with a few considerations like Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton. If you are a huge fan of the book, this could be both a love-hate relationship for you, if you are just a casual film-goer it’s not really something to rush to the theaters.

THE GOOD:

+BOTH DECENT AND GREAT PERFORMANCE

+THE VISUALS

+MUSIC

+FAITHFUL ENOUGH TO THE BOOK

THE BAD:

- MESSY PACING


-LACKING EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

-MOST OF THE VISUALS WERE OVERBLOWN 

MY RATING:

3/5 - NOT THAT BAD, NOT THAT GOOD

Thursday, May 16, 2013

DYNAMIC


MOVIE REVIEW:

STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (3D)



Starring:

Chris Pine

Zachary Quinto

Benedict Cumberbatch

4 Years Ago, J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009) was one of the best examples of a “franchise reboot done right”, But he also made a dead franchise be relevant for both the fans of the old (maybe a fraction of the fans) and casual movie-goers in general. And now he returns into the universe again to continue the adventures of the (fresh-faced) crew that we know and loved as he promise the sequel to a larger scale as he bring us into a speedy warp, the only question floating into everyone’s mind (besides John Harrison being Khan or not) Is that “Will J.J. Abrams do it again?”

Star Trek: Into Darknesstakes place years after the first movie as it follows Captain Kirk and his crew of the enterprise. In this, they face a highly unlikely threat known as “John Harrison” as he threatens a personal vendetta against the federation by wreaking havoc. Kirk and his crew are meanwhile assigned to go through enemy lines to find and terminate him but when they do meet him he leads them to a discovery that will cost their lives.

What can I say? It’s almost impossible to not to anticipate for this movie (In my list of anticipated movies of 2013, this is my second most anticipated movies of the year.). All the secrecy (Thanks for fluffing it out EW), every trailer just made the movie look EPIC (until I stopped at the third trailer) gets me excited for this movie. And now that it is finally here…. All the excitement was worth it, I’m very happy to say that this movie is an exciting thrill-ride and probably one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

The movie is literally energized, from start to finish expect really intense and and at the same time the movie would stop necessarily to give development and emotional depth to the characters and yet it didn’t feel forced at all (*cough* G.I. Joe: Retaliation). That’s what I love about the original series, TNG and the 2009 Star Trek, the crew’s dynamic was the one that drives the stories, it is the heart and soul of each incarnation and it really shows in this movie even more than the last one. Everyone had their moment to shine even if it was just a brief but relevant and entertaining sequence. The dynamic of this crew of people was so well done that you are very much attached to these characters in every dangerous situation they are in (So attached, that at some point I almost shed manly tears in this movie)

I honestly thought there wasn’t a bad performance in this movie at all. Chris Pine did a very good performance in this movie (surprisingly). I did nit-picked the fact that for the lesser part of Star Trek 2009 that they gave emphasis to him being a rule-breaker/asshole too much and be an excuse that this was Kirk before we knew him as a matured person (and maybe with a speech impediment), here he is a rule breaker but his action makes sense they are not just benefiting for himself but for others, I like how they give emphasis on how this character did mature in this movie. But what I love the most that revolves around his character is his chemistry or should I call it “Bro-mance” with Spock, the writers built up a very good friendship around these two characters. Zachary Quinto is great as always that you feel like that he is born to play this role as he did nail the original Spock’s nuances.

Speaking of nuances, Karl Urban as Bones was also brilliant in this film; the writers blessed him with Bones’ amusing classic one liners and out-of-nowhere metaphors. Simon Pegg as Scotty; also shared a great amount of hilarity as he boldly go in his own journey at some point of the movie. Zoe Saldana as Uhura I felt a little bit under-written, she came off as a bit of that naggy girlfriend from the first half of the movie, she did show some relevance for the most part. There were more moments for Anton Yelchin’s Chekov and John Cho’s Sulu and like I said most characters did do stuff in rather brief moments but they were good enough moments for their development.  There were new comers in this movie such as Robocop himself, Peter Weller as Marcus who had a titular role in this movie was good for the most part, and also Alice Eve as Carol who did not really do much in the movie other than to look hot and have a bit of relevance. But the one who really stole the show in this movie is (BBC) Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison. I thought he was a great villain in this movie; in fact he is everything a villain was to me. He had that brilliant on-screen presence from the intimidating deep voice to the unpredictability on his face.

If Star Trek fans thought that the last movie had less to offer for them wait till you see the fan-services in this movie, most fan-service/tributes in this movie felt like a love-letter to the one that is referencing it to. The movie had a checklist full of references to the original series and movies that will likely make a Trekkie (or a Trekker to some who preferred it to be called that way). The movie is straight-forward in a good way that it did felt like an extensive episode of a tv show at some point, the plot is simpler and easier to follow than the last one (honestly, it took me two viewings to fully understand the last one) you can sniff most of the things in this movie if you are familiar with previous Star Trek lore, though there were a few moments in this movie where it did caught me off guard. J.J. Abrams continues to prove that he can be a great action director, the movie is literally a thrill-ride with almost never-ending action set-pieces, the movie is 2 ½ hours long but it felt like less than that. This is a thrill ride that has the right amount of substance than being a mindless movie that the previews advertise it to be. I watched this movie in 3D, I would’ve loved to see this movie in IMAX 3D but I unfortunately don’t have the money right now to watch movies in IMAX but the regular 3D was a decent experience. It could be just me because in the first 30 minutes in this movie where there were some dark scenes I can barely see what’s going on in those scenes, there were also some long stops where you feel that the 3D felt unnecessary, though there were great shots in there as well of spears being thrown at you (that spear in the beginning made my brother dodge it), some space debris, volcano ashes and lens flares (and there I thought lens flares in 2D weren’t enough).

In the end, I definitely loved and enjoyed this movie very much. This movie is a perfect example of a Summer Blockbuster, its action packed but with the right amount of substance to it.  J.J. Abrams (I can’t wait to see what he will do Star Wars Episode VII) did a brilliant job directing this movie as he gives us a roller coaster ride of a movie, it’s everything a summer movie should have and it is intense and almost larger than life action set pieces that will very much entertain you. There’s many to offer for Star Trek fans new and old and also for casual movie-goers alike. I highly recommend you this movie immediately, avoid seeing this in 3D it’s not really something to pay full price for. Enjoy this movie in 2D and for 2D alone (I heard IMAX 3D is great but that’s not for me to judge.).

THE GOOD:
+THE DYNAMIC BETWEEN EACH CHARACTER
+FAN-SERVICE

+EXCELLENT WRITING AND DIRECTING
+THE PERFORMANCES
+BRILLIANT ACTION

THE BAD:
-NONE

MY RATING:

5/5 – EPIC WIN!