Sunday, June 30, 2013




G.P. Manalo

John Goodman

Billy Crystal

Helen Mirren

If nothing told us anything about Pixar for the past two years it is that, Pixar has lost their streak of quality animated films and compromised the fact that they are mortal. Monsters University is Pixar’s second shot at making a film that is either a prequel or a sequel (hurry up with the Incredibles 2 movie). With Monsters University in theaters right now it does show that the Pixar we know and love is slowly coming back to the best qualities we loved about Pixar.

In Monsters University, Pixar takes us back to the world behind our children’s bedroom closets as it shows our two protagonists from the first film, Mike Wazowski and James Sullivan return to the big screen in their younger years as they attend college in the most prestigious universities of their world, Monsters University. Mike Wazowski has always dreamed of becoming a scarer and join the scaring program in Monsters University and there he meets a natural-born scarer named James P. Sullivan. As we know from the original Monsters Inc. they were best friends until the end (They wouldn’t have nothing without each other after all) but in this prequel it shows that they weren’t really the best of friends when they first met. But they must put rivalries aside when they are threatened to be kicked out of the University as they participate In the school’s “Scare Games” where they must not only prove to be the scariest monsters of the school but to also help their fraternity build up into something the university didn’t expect them to be in order to survive the games.

I was rather skeptical going in to this film, Monsters Inc. is one of those few animated films that I keep close to my heart and I do not want to see it get ruined right before my eyes. I had big expectations going in and at the same time was also stopping myself from judging it badly if it was because of Pixar’s recent track record. But as the first 5 minutes of the movie as it starts I find myself (actually) enjoying the movie and throughout the film there was this big smile on my face (it’s this feeling called “happiness”, I believe) which means that I did enjoy this movie from start to finish. Is it Pixar’s best or at least be as great as the original Monsters Inc? I can say that it is close to that level. Is it at least in the level of Pixar’s best? Not really but at least it’s not part of Pixar’s string of mediocrity.

The story of Monsters University is a solid one, it’s not really the deeply told animated coming-of-age film nor is it an original one as well, and it’s more like a family-friendly version of “Revenge of the Nerds”. The film is told in a rather familiar buddy-underdog-formula that we have seen being told in past films. One can say that the formula has been done to death but for the film it is actually an advantage and it did work in the long-run in order to tell the story of how two friends came to be and the antics they have to go through as they build the relationship that we have seen from this film’s previous predecessor. Throughout the movie you can literally sniff the things that are about to happen, but there was that one twist that surprised me and there were some clever nods of the original Monsters Inc. throughout the film that will get you off guard (a couple of cameos made me laugh).

The film brings a decent amount of depth and heart to the formula and it did result to an entertaining animated film as a whole. At some point of the film, I wanted to complain of it having a cookie cutter ending by that one particular part of the third act that I thought would end from there, but there was this (closer to being mind-blowing) plot twist that surprised me and I thought it ended that way perfectly. The movie is not as genuinely funny as Monsters Inc., It wasn’t necessarily unfunny as a whole, there were jokes that fell flat though the film’s comedic element is more clever in-jokes that most monsters do in the background (which is better than car puns in Cars 2, that’s for sure) than it being laugh-out-loud funny (but I did laugh at Squishy during his scare simulation).

Pixar came a long way from making humans look like deformed plastic toys themselves to now where they can actually put humans (that looks like exaggeratedly designed humans), objects, and creatures in a very colorful yet believable setting. The animation is beautiful for this film, vibrant colors, tons of things to look at every inch of detail and also the designs of the monsters are very unique and creative. I like how they made Mike and Sully (and a few cameos from the past films) look young in this prequel and most of the monsters in the film are both genuinely scary and creatively designed.

I can’t really go in to detail with the voice casting that much because the voice acting in this movie is very top-notch. Each character had a fitting voice and I would give props to the voice actors for that. It’s good to hear Billy Crystal and John Goodman in the sound booth again as Mike and Sully. Billy Crystal returns with a really high-pitched version of Mike Wazowski. Newcomers like Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble was great despite the fact that her character is a bit under-used. Peter Sohn as Squishy, Joel Murray as Don, Sean Hayes and David Foley as Terri and Terry and also Charlie Day as Art were all great as the outcast frat members of Oozma Kappa; the writing gave them some genuinely funny antics with those characters throughout the film. Lastly, Nathan Fillion as Johnny Worthington of the big fraternity of the film was a good villain in the film, he is the generic frat-bully, he did some things that people like him would do in movies like Animal House or (again) Revenge of the Nerds.

In the end, Monsters University is nothing original but enjoyable nonetheless. From this movie I can tell that Pixar is slowly coming back to their roots and they did deliver a solid prequel from its beloved predecessor. Pixar never goes wrong with the CGI-Animation from its attention to detail and ingenuity. The writing is solid as they take advantage of the generic buddy formula to deliver an entertaining film with its. Fans of the original Monsters Inc. will be happy that “Monsters University” is in fact a very good movie; just don’t expect this to be as great as the original. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013




G.P. Manalo


Brad Pitt

It seems that for the past decade zombies have been making a huge takeover in pop culture nowadays; from books, videogames, TV shows and movies, World War Z seems to be a new entry to the genre as it adapts a really famous novel by Max Brooks into a huge summer blockbuster.

World War Z is (loosely) based on a book with the same name by Max Brooks. It’s about a zombie outbreak that has ravaged the earth and humankind doesn’t have a fighting chance against the undead. The United Nations recruits an ex-military soldier, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) to help them figure out more about the zombies for them to fight back.

This movie is definitely nothing like the source material, that does take modern horror literature to the next level. From where I was standing the movie has a small percentage of it being accurate to the book even though there were very few hints or small crumbs of things that were in the book, But I try to act “Professional” about this kind of situation because I don’t want to compare the book to the movie because there is no point in doing so. That being said, The movie was definitely not the World War Z adaptation that I wanted but I still (marginally) enjoyed it for what it is anyways.

Instead of the movie having an (interesting) political narrative (which I heard was cut off and at the same time the main reason why they re-shot large portions of the film.), the movie was instead told like a videogame where one man will go to different places and at the same time he will encounter a zombie attack without getting hurt at all (until the third act where he rides a plane), it’s more of a rinse-and-repeat progression. It was good at first but as it goes on it became boring on a few set pieces, there was never that tense feeling in an action set piece, you barely root for the main character going out of the situation because you never felt the stakes were high or even a hint of suspense on that point because of how “invincible” the main character is (think John McClaine surviving a truck “accident” and lives without a scratch in that Generic Bruce Willis action movie).

The story literally felt like an anthology of things that we have seen in zombie movies from the past, I would’ve liked to see the “political” aspect of the book for film for it to at least be a fresh take on a zombie film (even if it will be boring or not) but when we do, instead we got generic military dialogue. They did do some genuine enough things with the existing elements and it was handled decently enough to progress the film. The even worst part of the narrative is the fact that The movie lets you assume more than seeing it happen in the movie; It seems that they are saving up most of the things that they want to explain in this movie for the existing sequel and they handled that aspect very cheaply in the movie as it ends on a one-note basis and the ending didn’t really feel fulfilling that much.  But what saved this movie was the third act of the film, as I watch the third act of the film I would’ve liked the movie to be more of that. More of those stealthy missions and showcasing practical zombie, hand in hand combat. There was more suspense in set pieces like that than what we had in the first half of the movie and Brad Pitt’s character wasn’t very stoic and invincible as the first and second half tells him to be, they actually show some vulnerability of the character.  It was very interesting to watch him go through various situations and I was rooting for him from those moments. 

When a zombie movie is PG-13 it is a very bad sign, a zombie fan will be disappointed on the fact that this movie is bloodless, not even a hint of gore. The movie censors the scenes of zombies eating people in a way on how the Hunger Games censors kids killing each other. And the way they censor it is the “artistic” camera technique known as Shaky Cam and the zombies would travel as a group like how a swarm of bees would travel together and pile on one person. Things like that took me out of the first half besides the fact that some of the situations that occur were overdone here and there. I do wish that the zombies could've been practical in most scenes, the CGI zombies were rather distracting for the most part. 

Brad Pitt is the focal point of this film, for the material he was given he was pretty good in the movie, not an oscar worthy performance but still great, he was able to carry the film. The first thing I didn’t like about the movie as I go in to it is the fact that they brought in a family in this story, and my first impression of this movie was it being like that bad Roland Emmerich film, 2012. The fact that they gave this character a family didn’t really work out very well after the first 30-40 minutes of the movie. Without the family in this movie, that movie could’ve been better without them. Throughout the movie they only exist through phone calls and even the dialogue between them would be rinse and repeat (“Hey how are you and the kids?”, “Are you okay?”, “Yeah.”). They should’ve explored more with Brad Pitt’s character as a “soldier”, the movie should’ve been better off that way but to say the least they did handle the family aspect decently enough through the first half. 

In the end, World War Z was a bad adaptation but not a terrible film in the process for purists of the novel you will definitely not enjoy this film if you want the movie to stay true to the source material. It is difficult to depart myself from comparing this to the source material it was based on, it is definitely not the World War Z adaptation that I wanted but I still marginally enjoyed it anyways. This movie could’ve been better in an R-Rating (especially when it’s a zombie film), the effects of the zombie swarm and the shaky cam did take me out in the movie. Even if it didn’t follow the story of the source material the movie did tell an interesting enough story of humankind’s last stand in the zombie apocalypse. The movie is a rental at its best than a cinematic experience. 





2.5/5 – RENTAL!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013




G.P. Manalo


Henry Cavill

Amy Adams

Michael Shannon

Kevin Costner

Russell Crowe

After much anticipation, Man of Steel is a rather ambitious comic book film as it re-introduces the Iconic superhero to the audience yet again in a possible “Batman” approach (at first).  It has been years since Superman wowed critics, fans or casual movie-goers in his cinematic form. It must be a challenge to bring back an Icon with a stature like Superman with a big-screen re-telling that could become relevant to a newer generation yet again; the conflicting fact about this is the fact that it is taking a huge leap of it following the footsteps of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy”. Fortunately enough, Man of Steel is the probably the best Superman movie since Superman II though that is not saying that much but there was still that driving force me in me that I could’ve got a little bit more from the movie.  

Man of SteelIs a reboot-retelling of the origin of the iconic superhero, Superman, the last son of krypton. As the planet Krypton slowly die, Jor-El and his wife Lara took their only child and sent him to earth who are meanwhile found by a human couple, the Kents. As he grows up discovering his powers it conflicts him in using those powers to help people who are not really ready for a savior like him. He wanders the world in different names and occupations when that one job leads him to a reunion with his real father and there he discovers his purpose as well and now he is forced to face a threat to mankind named, General Zod and his own Kryptonian army in a mission to destroy and re-create Krypton out of Earth.

I welcomed Zack Snyder to direct this movie in open arms, sure he made one bad movie but there is a possibility that he could do it again but I remain optimistic about the choice directing this film, I was happy to know that this was more of his “baby” than Nolan’s but there was still that great fear in me when I heard that phrase. As much as I want to say that he is a great visual director, I never thought that he was the kind of guy who would bring great performances (Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, and Comedian were great but they’re 3/6 of the Watchmen who stood out in the film) in his movies. But I was happy to know that he did live up, he was able to deliver a rather satisfying and probably the best Superman movie we had since 1980.

Superman is not Batman, that’s for sure. I never really like the comparison due to the film’s previews showcasing the fact that this new take on Superman that is rather edgy, realistic and dark. Superman was never the edgy or emo type, even if his life was a tragic one like Batman’s, Superman sees positivity out of it and remains his moral fiber and the movie somewhat portrays both tones uniquely and I didn’t expect that it’d go well. I also don’t like the word “Realistic” around Superman, Superman is a god-like being who comes from another planet with powers like shooting laser beams from his eyes, Ice breath, super strength and flight, and invincibility not to mention his weakness is a rock with five different colors (and a red sun). I don’t think realistic is the right word, if we would go back to the tagline of “Superman: The Movie” it is told that you “Will BELIEVE a man can fly”. Believe is the definitive word for Superman; make me believe that his planet is more than just white crystals, make me believe that there was some sort of progression as his powers develop, make me believe that his weakness is a frickin’ rock, or maybe even that despite his perfections he can still be a vulnerable man. In this movie, I did believe that this man existed in that world; as a matter of fact they did tell a good and a fresh enough take in telling the story of this character.

Henry Cavill closely embodies Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El from his moral fiber to his country boy personality better than Brandon Routh but unfortunately it is in that level so far, we still have yet to see from him playing this character especially when I’m going to say that he is in the level of Christopher Reeves (or maybe yet, better than Christopher Reeves) though he does closely embody the Superman we know through his mannerisms and personality enough in this movie, like I said we have yet to see more from the actor especially how they did set-up this character for the sequel. They brought out an “interesting” take on Superman in this film. From the first half, Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman does seem to be that likable guy but when the second act comes to play it felt like he was a different character, he did some questionable things that purists or casual fans in general will be pissed off about (not in a slap-in-the-face Mandarin way, don’t worry). I do like the story they tell for him in this movie where the focal point of the narrative is him finding his purpose in this world, and I thought that was handled very well in the film and the way it is built up from the first half. 

Michael Shannon as General Zod is very under-used in this movie and Michael Shannon is actually one of my favorite actors; he wasn’t really the dastardly-cliched-campy villain that General Zod was in past incarnations (or super villains in general), here he is more portrayed as this lawful-evil who just wants order for his planet through his clouded ideas. As a “villain” I would compare him to 2009’s Star Trek, Nero; like Nero he did some monumental things here and there but there was never this emotional weight or impact on the character that much, you leave the theater wanting more from the character (especially when it is from a very talented actor), though for the material the actor was given he was still able to pull off a decent enough performance. But Antje Traue’s Faora was more of the villain you wanted Zod to be in this movie, she was doing all the dirty work and she gets more blood on her hands more than General Zod in this movie. Her performance was also great in this movie; hopefully I’ll see more films from the actress soon.

Amy Adams’s version of Lois Lane is an interesting one, she’s not the typical “damsel in distress” type in this movie, and she was more relevant and involved around the situations in this film and I’m glad that they actually made her a stronger female character in this film, though Amy Adams' performance is a mix between almost bland and decent at the same time (hope that makes sense at least). Lastly, the two fathers: Kevin Conroy’s Pa Kent and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El were easily the best things happen in the movie. Both of them pulled off an surprisingly exceptional performance in this movie and it is probably the best version of those characters in a live action incarnation by far as they bring so much emotional weight throughout the movie.

The movie surprisingly showed you more of Krypton in this movie for the first 20 minutes of the movie, I love how they showed Krypton as an actual functional world from showing you the culture, some back-story, and even the inhabitants of the planet, but when you do go to earth it immediately cuts to Kal-El being an adult and his early life acts as cliff notes in the movie as it is featured through a series of flashbacks. It was clever for the few flashbacks in this movie but then there were more and more flashbacks coming in and you end up wishing that most of those flashbacks could;ve been combined together in the first hour or so to build up Superman more as a character in the movie, the final cut was satisfying (at some degree) anyways. The storytelling is not as complex as I thought it would be, to the film's credit the movie is actually linear and simply told.

Zack Snyder is a great visual director and he has shown that in his past movies (he even makes owls fighting look cool in 3D). The first and second half was this emotional uprising of the character and then the third act of the movie was this huge and fast paced-adrenaline filled action set-pieces. this movie is action packed, In fact this is the most action-packed Superman film by far.  The fight scenes in this movie are insane and I was very happy to see Superman punch something in this movie. As much as I enjoyed the third act of the movie, I just wished the movie had room to breathe. The movie didn’t really stop for a break to build something up and when it did it is faster than a speeding bullet (see what I did there?). There was an unnecessary scene in the climax of the movie and I wished that scene could’ve been better if they were to keep that scene alone in the movie. The action scenes are incredible nonetheless especially that final fight between Zod and Superman where it is in a Transformers-esque scale (don't worry you can tell what's going on). 

Lastly, Hans Zimmer's score is brilliant as always. Is it in the level of the original score? not really, which is quite a challenge to build a theme as iconic as the original. it's like what my friend said about Zimmer's difficulty in making a score "It's like God told a man to build a mountain and he gives you pebbles to build one". The score somewhat has that prevailing-glorious feel to the score and most of the time the music would catch the emotional state of the scene. 

In the end, Man of Steel is definitely a great superhero popcorn action flick. It is the best Superman movie we have since Superman II; I highly recommend you see this immediately in the theaters. Though it may not be the Superman movie where it is a deep and emotionally driven Superman flick, it is enough to be so. But It is the most action-packed Superman film in this movie, it explores to many things where you think they won’t explore throughout this movie. It is an interesting version of Superman that does take center stage in this movie. There was also some stand out performances coming from Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner while the rest still do a great job in this film. I enjoyed this movie very much for what it is and I was very happy to see Superman again gracing our theaters in his glory once again, because the last time I saw him on theaters. He almost put me to sleep.




4/5 – FOR THE WIN!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013




G.P. Manalo


Vin Diesel

Paul Walker

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

“The Fast and Furious” films have come a long way from being a throw-away-repetitive action film to being a rather clever and enjoyably exhilarating action film since “Fast Five” and it is all because of director, Justin Lin who did take a whole new road for the franchise. Fast and Furious 6 seem to be filling up holes from the past 3 films and at the same time continue to deliver the “badass” action film as its past predecessor.

The Fast and the Furious 6 – When an international group of terrorists (Luke Evans and the Wild Bunch) seeks to threaten the world, Lt. Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) forced Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’ Conner (Paul Walker)  to reassemble their "Rio-heist" team and when they do stop this group of terrorists they will get full pardons for their past actions.

Honestly, going into Fast Five I thought that it will be just another one of those action movies where I’d get out of it and say “It’s just an action film that you have to leave your brain outside of the theater and enjoy the utter stupidity on screen” but it actually wasn’t – technically. Fast Five knew what it is, it is self-aware that “yeah, we have our own laws of physics” and that it is a dumb yet enjoyably exhilarating ride of your life and Fast and the Furious 6 was definitely an enjoyable roller coaster ride I ever have so far in 2013.

If you are expecting the Oscar Season will be early this summer you will definitely leave the theater disappointed  if you are expecting that as you watch this film because Fast & Furious 6 is not entirely the art-house film you are expecting it to be. The film offers larger than life action scenes regarding cars, a tank and a plane, men and women beating the shit out of each like they’re Godzilla and a random monster (at the same time) that will probably piss off every physicist out there.

The action in this film is everything you wanted for a summer movie blockbuster and they are definitely worth the price of admission and there are tons of non-stop action sequences in this film. If you thought the first 4 films in the franchise are pretty boring for just two (or more) cars just going at each other wait till you see what this film will offer (especially the second half of the film). Thankfully, the action scenes in this film are coherent; you can tell exactly what is going on without the help of “artistic use of the camera” (Shaky Cam) or speedy jump cuts.

The plot is solid, the film did have a decent amount of substance as it does deliver a surprisingly good family element in the film due to the cast’s well fleshed out chemistry to one another, If you have been following the franchise from the very start and you have been invested by the characters in the past films, the investment does pay off. This film did fill up most of the holes the past 3 films have and you will be surprised who and what will pop up in each scene if you have been following the film from the very start (which I do recommend for a better experience).

I’m not really going to go into detail with the cast that much, for the material they were given they did give out a solid performance and as I said earlier I thought that they did work well together, they literally do feel like a family. These people are not the best actors but their real life charm does work in the film (though I don’t know if Paul Walker even has charm due to his stoic personality). Action stars like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker (kinda an action star) were all badass as always and also the rest of the team. While the returning cast like Michelle Rodriguez also did a solid performance as she does go back with a reveal that is rather passable, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris were the two people that I noticed the chemistry between characters and both of them did spew out very good comedic dialogue together.  The remaining cast leaves off as just “solid”

New comers like Luke Evans and Gina Corano were just average from the material they are given. I liked Luke Evans as a villain in this film; he is the most fleshed out villain in the series, I’ve always thought the past 5 films didn’t really have much of a villain in the past films (Braga was not even close). In this film we get a villain where he actually gets his hands dirty and actually does something that just sitting down in a chair barking threats and orders. Gina Carano on the other hand is yet to impress me in future films, she still haven’t convinced me that she is an action star just yet but she is physically impressive in this film as she goes toe to toe with most of the cast in this film.

In the end, I enjoyed Fast and the Furious 6 very much. It is the most fun I had in the summer and I’m sure you will have fun too in the theaters. It is meant to be experienced in the big screen and I highly recommend you see it in that format. If you were never a fan of the Fast and the Furious films, I don’t think this will change your mind about the series and if you are expecting this to be an Oscar winning film that scientifically makes sense then you should avoid the film. The film lives up to the title because it is definitely fast and furious (and it is the sixth film of the series) as it features well shot and exhilarating yet larger than life action sequences, a solid story, great characters, and it did do a good job at being what it is. Overall it is a well-constructed action film for what it is and I highly recommend you go in to the film expecting that for you to enjoy it.

NOTE: Stay for the after credits scene, the reveal was very surprising… (If you don't have friends who spoil you that part of the movie... Thanks a lot, Lee) 










5/5 – EPIC WIN!