Friday, July 26, 2013





G.P. Manalo


Hugh Jackman

Rila Fukushima

Tao Okamoto

The Wolverine is another shot at giving the famous Marvel superhero the solo film treatment. We can all agree that their last (inferior I may add) effort of doing so was not the best attempt in giving the character a proper solo film that happens to explain his origin and his struggles. This film on the other hand, was basically everything X-Men Origins: Wolverine should’ve been. It’s an entertaining, interesting and serious character study of the character himself.

The Wolverine takes place years after X-Men 3: The Last Stand (unfortunately) where Logan a.k.a. Wolverine isolated himself from the X-men to the wilderness where he is tormented from his memories of murdering the love of his life. He is meanwhile scouted by Japanese “assassin” named, Yukio who happens to be working by the man he once saved during the Hiroshima bombing in WW2. She brought him to meet her employer at Tokyo to give thanks to him for saving his life and at the same time grants him the wish Logan’s been wanting his entire life, Mortality.

I had low expectations as I go in to this film, after seeing the last Wolverine film it did discourage me to even bother with this movie and all the trailers and clips for this film didn’t really impress me that much (but that bullet train scene in the trailers was pretty cool though). Maybe it was the right thing to go into this movie with low expectations because I left the theater saying that Wolverine finally has a decent solo film, though that is not saying much after all.

If there’s one thing that I am getting tired of in superhero movies nowadays is the fact that they keep using the “vulnerable superhero storyline”. I am fully aware that not all superheroes can’t be perfect at the time but from past movies there were a few films that wasn’t properly executed, It did work in The Dark Knight Rises, It did work Spider-Man 2 (for what it is), but didn’t work very well in Iron Man 3. But on the other hand, this film used that storyline effectively (enough) as it did bring out a strong performance from Hugh Jackman as the metal-clawed hero himself.

It seems to be impossible to even give a character-driven live action film to a character like Wolverine, especially when he is more known to be this almost-invincible badass who can hack and slash bad guys with his claws without breaking a sweat under that yellow spandex of his, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for this film. Director, James Mangold was able to deliver a film where the character of Wolverine is finally done right (I still think that it would be interesting to see what Aronofsky had on the table for this movie), he is more than just a growling-shouting-hacking-and-slashing guy, the film shows a different side, a side that we have never seen from the character before and it does show how tormented he is for being that guy in the past. One would say “But I’m here for the hacking and the slashing! Not some guy whimpering in the woods”, If that is what you are looking for then you will definitely get that. There are tons of action scenes where Wolverine actually gets blood on his claws (this time you can actually see blood on his claws) along with big action set-pieces of ninjas and samurais in the Japan setting and there’s even a ridiculously entertaining fight scene on top of a bullet train between Wolverine and a few Yakuza gang members. I'm always a sucker for really silent action sequences with no score being played during an intense fight scene and you pretty much get a lot of that in this film as it does genuinely give intensity in that one exhilarating fight scene. The special effects are definitely better than the last one, the last one made Wolverine's claws look impractically fake and the majority looks like it was barely finished (like the leaked version of the original) 

As much as I want to praise the film even further, it did have its fair share of flaws. The flaws mostly occurred on the latter half of the film, where it did end with a very anti-climactic element done to the character and also complicates most of the situations that were brought up earlier in the film. The film introduces an edgier storytelling that feels like that it could be compared next to Nolan’s Batman films (I know it’s blasphemy, but it is somewhere in that level), but then in the final fight scene where everything is revealed you end up spending the last 20 minutes of the film fighting a giant samurai robot, the movie basically shifts different tones in the latter half of the film. As much as I want to say that scene was entertaining it felt like the film drastically lost itself in that sugar-coated element of the film.

Japan is more than just a background of the film, it is actually a real setting where they bring up a lot about the culture of the Japanese people and the ways of the ninjas, the samurais and even the Yakuzas in this noir-esque setting of modern Japan. Though most of the expositions of the culture seem to be unnecessary and overbearing as it did to complicate the already complex storyline this film has.

Hugh Jackman continues to steal the show and shows why he deserves the role of our favorite Mutie (cuter name for mutant) with his performance as the Wolverine. Like I’ve said earlier he did bring out a very strong performance as he does show the vulnerable-tormented side of his character, and once in a while he would even bring out the inner-badass as he say some action-star-quality one-liners (seriously “Go fuck yourself” is becoming his catch-phrase).  The Japanese cast like Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto were both great, I am a fan of strong female characters in films and I thought they were good for the material they were given. Though Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper was a rather weak character, she’s one of those mutants in X-Men films where they will make you go “what are you doing here, again?” (Mutant team in X-Men Origins, Riptide in X-Men First Class, to name a few). She was weakly developed and her motive seems bland as well. The remaining cast like Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, and Hal Yamanouchi are decent in their roles and they did bring a good enough performance physically.

In the end, The Wolverine is not really a perfect film; it is in fact quite decent. There were notable improvements but also some obvious flaws in this film. The Wolverine is still an enjoyable pop-corn flick nonetheless and at the same time a good character study of the clawed-mutant himself. Fans will be happy that the character is finally done right as it does feature Wolverine's both vulnerable and animalistic side of him in the Japan setting. I recommend you see this movie, If you are a fan of Wolverine or comic book films in general, if you are still scarred by the same wounds that X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine gave you then this movie could possibly change your mind about the film or maybe the franchise itself. 

NOTE: Stay for the post credits-scene, its mind blowing-ly worth it.








G.P. Manalo 


Armie Hammer

Johnny Depp

William Fichtner

The Lone Ranger is the latest modern-day big budget western blockbuster action flick where it brings back the iconic serial-TV self-titled character along with his Indian sidekick, Tonto to a grittier and edgier version of the wild west, though maybe the franchise should’ve stayed dead as Tonto suggested The Lone Ranger to be in this movie.

The Lone Ranger takes place in the early 1800s on the corrupted Wild West, it centers on a Native American warrior named, Tonto that makes a hero out of an uptight-lawyer named, John Reid. From there they team up together to find the killer of John’s brother who happens to be a notorious criminal, Butch Cavendish.

I was never really a big fan of the old Lone Ranger show as a kid but I was very much aware of what the show is, the only knowledge I ever had about the show was The Lone Ranger is the one with the bright blue outfit and a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-yo Silver" and Tonto is the badass indian sidekick (and the fact that they had a cartoon shown in Boomerang in late nights). Though, I was optimistic as I go in to watching this movie, the trailers weren’t all that impressing, so were the clips and that video the marketing team made “Why you should watch The Lone Ranger” was rather annoying than it is in any way “truthful”. As I go out of the movie, I enjoyed this movie from the first (excluding the introduction given by Tonto) and last 25 minutes of the film, while the scenes in between were just fragments.

The Lone Ranger is literally a relic that should be left alone from now on and this film shows why it should be left alone. The film tries to ride the train of reboots or remakes of making a campy TV-show or movie be re-told in a more realistic, grittier, darker, edgier kind of storytelling but the film is overshadowed with cartoonish and campy elements (mostly “comedic”) that didn’t really mix well with the tone. The kind of “campy” where characters are appearing out of nowhere or maybe even a horse drinking a bottle of beer and at the same time belch and fart like a human being, or our heroes would be bumbling idiots and outrun an explosion or a storm of arrows and flying shards of metal where they would go out of it without a scratch. As much as I want to say that most scenes like that are entertaining, those kinds of things took me out of the film because the film didn’t really know what kind of tone the film would be.

The film’s storytelling basically suffered the same way as the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels did where it is overly long as it over-complicates the simplest situations in the progression of the film. This film is 2 ½ hours long and this film puts so many big ideas of corruption and how it affects the pact between the whites and the native-Americans and the civilization itself. The problem with the film is that there were too many ideas that are shoe-horned in the movie that are rather unnecessary and as a result the movie did become convoluted as the film progresses. Not to mention the film is packed with so much unneeded exposition that could’ve been cut out of the film easily for a better running time.

 I’m not really a fan of a movie being told as a flashback that much especially when it is not done right, this is the best example of that element not being done right and it is one of the film’s biggest plot holes. The first person perspective didn’t really give much weight for the narrative, and yet it didn’t make any sense when the character was barely present in a long period of time in each scene. The action set-pieces are enjoyable to watch especially when the original theme song of the show/serial is being played during a few big action set pieces. I think the action set pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed has something to do with a train or actual spaghetti western-esque gun-fighting in-between of the film.

The two main stars like Social Network’s Armie Hammer and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Johnny Depp are also flawed as well, which is disappointing because these two could’ve been the most ambitious part of the film. These two rarely show any chemistry together, by the end their friendship was rarely resolved after their banter (and the fact that the Lone Ranger left Tonto to die under the sand) nor are they even relatable. Both were never really given the right material to do anything memorable or fresh, they were more as portrayed as two bumbling idiots.

 Armie Hammer physically embodies the ideal on-screen hero, just by the look and the voice, he is a spot on “Lone Ranger”. Though he lacks the charisma, I understand that they’re making a twist of the character for him to be cool for this new generation but it didn’t necessarily work. I believe that there should’ve been more subtlety to the writing of the character other than him being a bumbling idiot throughout the film. Johnny Depp, on the other hand also had less to do but do an impersonation of his past character Captain Jack Sparrow. As much as I like the character of Captain Jack Sparrow I just hate the fact that Johnny Depp keeps recycling his nuances of the character to a role that is not even like the character, though as much as I want to say that the film did have a few good moments of him, it is still annoying to see Johnny Depp do an Captain Jack impersonation again. Though, William Ficthner was actually one of the best parts of the film, he is a great villain in this film. He wasn’t necessarily the type who did the steal the show in this film but he was good enough.

In the end, “The Lone Ranger” is a “Wild Wild Mess” (ba-dum-tss). I did enjoy the film for the fragments it has, the film is packed with obvious plot holes and an un-inspired yet complicated narrative. Though there are still a few things to enjoy in this movie, mostly the first and last 25 minutes, the action set-pieces and most of the performances are enjoyable enough but it is definitely not saying a lot since you’re paying a lot of money for just fragments of the film. It’s not really something to rush to the theaters unless you have been waiting and urging to see this film for months since the first trailer came out (or maybe you are a Johnny Depp fan girl). I have no plans in seeing this film again, unless it is on rent or maybe when it is going to be played on TV.





2/5 – MEH! 

Monday, July 22, 2013


The geek community rejoices

G.P. Manalo

In the “mecca of geek culture” known as Comic-Con, besides the fact that both Andrew Garfield and Tom Hiddleston “cosplaying” as their own characters, Director of “Man of Steel” and “300” Zack Snyder came in the Warner Bros. Panel to make the biggest announcement in Comic-Con history. Zack Snyder announced that the key-character in the sequel of this year’s “Man of Steel” will be The Dark Knight himself, Batman (also known as Bruce Wayne) he teased it with the quote from Frank Miller’s run of The Dark Knight Returns being read by Harry Lenix (the general from Man of Steel) “I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” (during that voiceover they revealed the official logo through footage) which is basically teasing the fact that Batman could likely go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel himself in the sequel that is going to be released in the summer of 2015. 

Honestly, as I skim through headlines of news from this year’s San Diego at first I thought that the article regarding this was just a joke, but as I continue to come back to see more headlines like this (with the word “OFFICIAL” on it) I couldn’t believe that I just read that headline. The amount of surprise and joy I had is somewhere in the level of me discovering that Disney acquires Lucasfilms with a new Star Wars trilogy coming in the same year this film comes out. This is pretty much the headline geeks like me are waiting for since the concept of both Superman and Batman (and Robin) are together in a comic. 

Film-wise, I’ve always thought pitting two of Warner Bros. Productions’ box-office titans (or DC’s more known superheroes in the casual movie-goers’ eyes) in one film is a way to go to introduce a universe full of superheroes, I prefer to have the project be done at a snail pace for them to do it right than it being easy cash to carbon copy Marvel's success of their big team-up film. Man of Steel was basically a device or maybe even a starting point for DC's Cinematic Universe, especially when they hint a few characters like Supergirl (possibly the one who escapes from the sleep-pod at the “fortress of solitude”), Booster Gold (Blaze Comics: A store where you can get your Booster Gold stories), Aquaman (possibly the guy who destroyed the oil rig and saved Superman with the help of two dolphins) and Bruce Wayne/Batman (A Wayne Enterprises logo can be seen in the satellite Zod and Superman crashed in their aerial battle). 

(At first) I never thought adding Batman would be a good idea to be in Man of Steel 2 and it would be better if they would team up in the “World’s Finest” film. Man of Steel needs room to correct or address all (or maybe most of) the flaws of the first film and let the Superman stand alone in his own film. But as I reflect on the fact that Batman/Bruce Wayne existing in the Man of Steel film(s), Hours later there were numerous columnists addressing the issue of how Bruce Wayne can exist through the Man of Steel sequel. Hearing his theory, it does make sense that Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne would be working together at first and be enemies in the end (whilst going toe-to-toe with Superman at some point due to Superman’s suspicion over Lex Luthor). I was on-board thinking of that, but the only question is, will they (the studios, David S. Goyer or Zack Snyder) go through that? Then again Lex Luthor was pretty much teased twice in the film and they have talked about him being in the sequel as they go through the process of writing the sequel. That being said, I’ve always dreamed of having two of my favorite superheroes in one movie, it’s somewhere in the level of having two awesome gifts under a Christmas tree. Seeing Batman and Superman and possibly a fraction of the Justice League in one movie would be cool to see in cinematic form.

The only thing left floating around my mind is that who could wear the cowl? Christian Bale is no longer interested in wearing the mantle again, though this is a different version of Batman/Bruce Wayne that they are going to do after all. If I would have a really short list of actors to play Bruce Wayne/Batman it would either be Armie Hammer (I believe that he is a good actor if you give him the right material), John Hamm (If they’re aiming for a slightly older Batman, assuming that they did use the bat-logo of “The Dark Knight Returns” for the footage), Michael C. Hall (I'm pretty much in Dexter mode right now since Season 8 just started), and maybe even Karl Urban (Be honest with yourself, you could've sworn that “Dredd” is his rejected Batman audition tape).

2015, seems to be a promising year for films since you got Star Wars Episode VII, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (that’ll be for another article), Jurassic Park 4, Bond 24, The Fantastic Four reboot, Assassin’s Creed, Independence Day 2, The last chapter of the Hunger Games trilogy, and now we have Man of Steel 2. Every fanboys’ (and girls, I will never forget the ladies) mind around the world are exploding as we speak with films like these and that year is two years from now. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013





G.P. Manalo


Charlie Hunnamm

Idris Elba

Rinko Kikuchi

 Big Budget Blockbusters are mostly watered down with reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, and adaptations nowadays. We see some of the innovative and creative films on lesser-unheard of films and most of the time it would be on a ham-sandwich budget. Pacific Rim takes the idea of putting two peas in a pod, combining both of Japan’s greatest contributions to entertainment and those are Mechas and big ass monsters and it delivers every 5 year old’s wet dream very well with the help of visionary-director, Guillermo Del Toro as he deliver an action-packed and a rather solid action film about robots and monsters beating the shit out of each other for 2 hours and at the same time brought out a love letter to classic Japan entertainment.

Pacific Rim takes place in the near future, when a portal was opened beneath the earth it brought gigantic monsters known as “Kaijus”. The Kaijus has surfaced the earth and they seek to destroy everything they see on earth. The government decided to fight fire with fire as the world bands together to take all of their resources to make their own monsters in the form of larger than life mechs known as “Jaegers”. 

I was very much intrigued by the fact that a big budget project about monsters and mechs fighting each other for two and a half hours and the fact that the great visionary director known as “Guillermo Del Toro” plays a huge part behind the scenes of the project. So then I asked “what could possibly go wrong?”

The film is literally every kid’s wet dream of monsters and robots in one movie though it does have something for kids my age as well and it is a decent amount of substance to tell a good enough story. The story is rather simple enough to tell a story of why and how monsters are brought to this world and how they can use the giant robots to stop those monsters. Mostly in blockbusters nowadays there’d be tons of “down time” where they’d take a break and give the film a room to breathe after all the explosions, shootings and fist fights. Gladly, it wasn’t like the G.I. Joe or Transformers films where they do some down time to develop the human element in a way that it didn’t feel forced, there wasn’t that one dumb line one-liner or that one scene where something random will pop up and expects the audience a laugh. The movie was paced very well, the movie is 2 ½ hours long but it felt shorter than that. I was never bored for a minute while watching this movie.

As much as I want to say that the film has tons of cheesy yet cartoony that results to cheesy lines and clich├ęd stereotypes, I did some thinking about it. The movie is very self-aware for what it is and it is more of a love letter to (almost) everything Japan entertainment contributed to from Mangas/Animes to live action films/shows from the past. He meshes all of those elements that we have seen before and loved in the past but still made it fresh and original out of those things for the benefit of this film.

Though as much as I want to say the writing is strong throughout the film, most of the characters weren’t really written very well. Most of the human characters in the film were thinly written, mostly the lead character played by Charlie Hunnamm. Charlie Hunnamm’s character is a mixed bag; there were times where he’s a Luke Skywalker-esque character but a lot of the times he’s pretty much a mediocre impersonator of Tom Cruise’s Maverick from Top Gun or maybe even a clone of  Garrett Hedlund. I left the theater wanting more from the character, but reflecting on the movie again I thought the final product that I got was decent enough. Though on the other hand, Idris Elba was the best character in the film, I left the theater wanting him to be the lead character of the film especially when he did play out a bigger role than Hunnamm’s character. Rinko Kikuchi was decent as Mako, I thought that her character and performance were decent for the material she was given. I thought that her character could’ve been a lot stronger. She wasn’t necessarily the damsel-in-distress type; she was more of a tragic character that shows vulnerability way too much. The writing tried their best to make her a strong character but it never came through. I would’ve asked for a little bit of development for most characters (especially that one Australian guy who hates everything for no reason at all).

The side-characters like Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Ron Pearlman shared a huge amount of screen time throughout the movie but they weren’t (thankfully) quipped with Michael Bay’s version of “comedy”. Their over the top personalities were genuinely funny throughout the film and they were entertaining. Their side of the story was relevant to the story and their screen time didn’t feel forced at all for the sake of doing a joke.

The fight scenes between the Jaegers and the Kaijus are what you are here for. Guillermo Del Toro has always impressed me as a visual director (or a creative person in general) with his creativity and ingenuity in the films he have worked on from the past. In “Pacific Rim” Guillermo Del Toro utilizes the fight sequences using both practical and CGI-enhanced effects to set a stage for larger than life monsters and robots on a believable environment which results to exciting and intense fighting sequences, one battle after another is a joy to see on the big screen. The special effects are stunning in this film and also the designs used for the CGI characters, each design for every Robot and Monster are unique, and they never felt like repetitive characters in a video game.  The battles are thankfully well shot without the use of shaky cam or really quick jump cuts; the film shows the battles in panoramic shots, it shows you the scale and detail of these creatures and the robots in a real life setting. It wasn’t like Transformers where it is a mess of metallic shards crashing together on screen (with explosions).  

In the end, “Pacific Rim” is one of the best time I had at the movies this year. Guillermo del Toro was able to deliver an keenly original action-packed film about robots and monsters fighting each other for almost 2 hours. The action scenes are exciting that will definitely put you to the edge of your seat and maybe even be cheering or applauding for most of the scenes of this film though I did leave the theater wanting more from the human element of the film (mostly from the pilots). I highly recommend you see this film in the biggest screen possible (I heard that this movie is fantastic in IMAX 3D) to witness the scale of these gigantic titans.





4.5/5 - FOR THE WIN! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013





Steve Carrell

Benjamin Bratt

Kristin Wigg

Back in 2010, Despicable Me was one of those movies where you didn’t really expect it to be a hit; it may have been a gamble for the studios that time. With a hit like Despicable Me it is expected to have a sequel to be released in the coming years. It is a gamble whether or not Despicable Me 2 would be a bigger hit than its predecessor especially with the help of the walking yellow nuggets that are more known to the public as “minions”. 

Despicable Me 2 takes place years after the first film; Gru retires from being a villain to becoming a family man to three girls and running a business of making jelly with the help of his minions and Dr. Nefario. But he is meanwhile brought in by the Anti-Villain League and he is given an undercover assignment to stop a potential villain in the city mall.

I enjoyed the first Despicable Me film for what it is, it’s not the most mature animated film I have seen but I did enjoy and was entertained by the film anyways. I wasn’t really expecting much but to have a good time with the film and have laugh out loud moments by those minions, and I did. If you thought the Despicable Me 1 is good, this film gets better.

We can all agree that this is a rather childish film though I can see most adults both young and old can enjoy watching this. I was in a screening where it had older, teenage, middle-aged people than children in that screening and all of them had a good time, they laughed at every joke, and awed in every cute scene the film would throw out on the screen. Admittedly, I was one of those people.
The film is not really for everyone, mostly to those who are looking for an animated film that is deeply told. The story of the film is not entirely original nor is it a deeply-told-Oscar-winning kind either though it did tell a good enough kid-friendly story and at the same time it is a more legitimate animated spy movie than Cars 2. The film is definitely predictable, you can literally sniff what’s going to happen right before a certain event can happen; in fact 2-3 years ago,  when the news came out that there would be a sequel to Despicable Me I've always thought that it felt unnecessary to give it a sequel but as I thought about it I knew that they will bring a mom-figure and make Gru do something heroic in the sequel (called it). This film continues to expand family element of the story, the film telling story arcs like a daughter having an attraction for boys and living a life with only one parent weren’t really developed very well compared to the last film where the film is so big on that family element. I left the theater wishing that those particular elements could’ve been developed and have a proper ending to most of the situations being told earlier in the film.  
This film is an animated comedy at its – “ok-est”. The jokes in this movie is a mix bag of a lot of good a bit of bad; they are the kind of jokes that are pretty much typical childish humor that kids will enjoy and most of the kiddy jokes are the kind that us adults can get and can float around the kids’ heads, most of the jokes did fall flat in the film, mostly they are centered around some characters that are rather obnoxious and yet cringe worthy for someone like me (a 54-year old man in a 17-year old kid’s body). “G.P., how are the minions in the film?” well, the minions are actually used more in this movie; they’re not just in the background punching each other or making funny noises, in this film they actually have a hilarious song number by the end, they have more stuff to do, they have a huge plot point by the end, and even more genuine (enough) comedy for those walking yellow nuggets. In the theater, I don’t usually laugh by these kinds of things easily, but I end up laughing my ass off at most scenes.

The animation is perfect for the film; the movement is energetic, the colors are vibrant, and the character designs are fun to look at. I thought the 3D in this film is just good, compared to the first Despicable Me, the 3D is a bit nerfed down and I don’t think you’ll be missing out much on the 3D version of this.

The voice cast is great as always, hearing from their voices I can tell that everyone had a spectacular time voicing each character. Steve Carell’s impression of a Bela Lugosi-esque (ex-) villain really works on his character, Gru. I’ve always thought that he has the most unique voice out of the entire cast. New faces like Kristin Wigg was the perfect female cartoon voice, it is a no-brainer that she’d play a character this – exaggerated. Benjamin Bratt (or as I like to call him “generic guy who is a cop”) as this character El Macho, (besides the Minions) his character stole the show, especially that one particular scene where they introduce his past, though it could’ve been interesting to see how Al Pacino pulls off this character but for Benjamin Bratt he was pretty good. The remaining casts of characters like the kids and Russell Brand’s Dr. Nefario  are very good as always even though they have a bit less to do with the plot than they have in the last movie.

In the end, Despicable Me 2 didn’t really feel like an unnecessary sequel to begin with, it was actually enjoyable and in fact much more enjoyable than the last film. The voice acting is great as always, the animation is bright and energetic, and the film does deliver a solid story along with a hilarious comedic element to it. The movie had its fair share of flaws that did take me out of the film for a brief second of the film. The film is without a doubt fun for the whole family, I can actually see both kids and parents enjoying this (again, I was in a theater full of families and teenagers and they happen to enjoy this). If you are looking for an animated film that could be better than what Pixar has done in the past, this may not be it for you, in fact this good be a good rental for you.










4/5 - FOR THE WIN!