Thursday, October 31, 2013


Note: I do not own any of the pictures in this review, they are officially distributed by Marvel Studios, Disney Co., and Paramount Pictures.

G.P. Manalo

Alan Taylor


Chris Hemsworth
Tom Hiddleston
Christopher Eccleston
Natalie Portman

Two years ago, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor brought the Shakespearian speaking and hammer wielding badass to life in the silver screen and made the character a more popular character (along with other characters such as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Anthony Hopkins’s Odin and the Warriors Three) than before while making Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston a household name in Hollywood. It is now Alan Taylor’s (fresh from directing episodes of Game of Thrones) shot at continuing what Branagh has started as he moved on to a more different throne exploring a more functioning world in Thor: The Dark World. Alan Taylor literally brought more life to the world of Thor and the same fun it predecessors (Thor 2011 and Avengers) had.

In Thor: The Dark World an ancient army known as the dark elves led by Malekith  the Accuser has reawakened in present time to re-claim a powerful force/artefact known as the Aether to once against extinguish all of the nine realms in its convergence. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) finds herself reuniting with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) after an encounter of a strange phenomenon that has something to do with the Aether in Midgard (Earth). As the all-father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) discovers the re-awakening of the ancient threat; Thor must embark on a journey that will need help from his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) whom he couldn’t really trust at all after the events of the past two films. Together they will stop the threat and save the nine realms. 

Thor: The Dark World is somewhat an improvement of the first film; when the first Thor film is a bit of a smaller world in a lonely town in the desert and scenes of just Odin’s palace and the rainbow bridge. Thor is a universal adventure as it does feature a fully functioning world and even have good character moments. Alan Taylor applies everything he has learned while directing episodes of “Game of Thrones” as he brings massive action scenes and a profound drama (by profound, I don’t mean it in a Shakespearian way) and even some plot twists (and comic book nods) that will make you go “By Odin’s Beard!”.

As action-blockbusters come and go “Thor: The Dark World” follows a simple formula of “bad guy getting something to destroy the world; hero is gonna stop the bad guy from getting it and save the day”. It is very much as one would say it “by the numbers” or “generic” but in all fairness, the film does stand out very strong on its own, granted it wasn’t necessarily a perfect movie as it does have its fair share of strength and weaknesses.

On the plus side, the performances are still strong and some cases better for both returning and new characters in this film though one character wasn’t as properly developed as the rest of the characters in this film, One of which being Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith never being properly developed as a villain. Returning characters that had less to do are more developed but it is more than a blessing but can be a curse itself as it didn’t provide any room for a new character like Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith the Accursed felt very to develop, sure enough he did do some monumental things a villain could do for our hero but in the end he leaves off being an expendable yet generic villain.

Thor is now a different character in this film than his first outing as he grows into a more mature and powerful warrior and It is show through Chris Hemsworth’s performance physically and emotionally while sharing very good chemistry with both Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. Tom Hiddleston still continues to steal the show as the charismatic yet dastardly God of Mischief, Loki though he had little time he makes the most out of his scenes in hilarious, action-y and emotional moments in the film. Natalie Portman has more to do than being the clichéd “love interest” as she does share a believable romance with the titled character and have more of a personality. Returning characters such as the Warriors Three (Jamie Alexander, Zachary Levi replacing Josh Dallas and Ray Stevenson) had more time to shine along with Idris Elba’s Heimdall, Anthony Hopkins as Odin and even Rene Russo’s Frigga.  While Kat Denning’s Darcy is less annoying than the last film (gladly, she didn’t reference “Instagram” in this new film) and lastly, I noticed Stelan Skarsgard was off in this movie, his character was literally a huge change from the first film and The Avengers, they didn’t really address why his character became “like that” in this new film, the comedic timing and story line around him felt awkwardly placed for the most part (though he did share one good joke with Thor in the latter half).

The writing of the film delivers the fun of the last film with its well-timed (enough) humor and bigger action scenes. The film as a comedy as well, the comedy is bettered here; there were some well-timed scenes that feature one-liners, references, cameos and jokes that weren’t really forced in a moment of the film. Though most of the time it began to fall flat because of it being misplaced for the most part. Like in Iron Man 3, where somebody assumingly dies and the next scene would be one big joke. Thor: The Dark World functions more of a sci-fi soap opera and a fantasy-action film as if it is a mix of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars/Star Trek along with the vibe Game of Thrones (with Alan Taylor’s direction). In what Thor seem to be a smaller film than this one due to its location being focused on Earth than the other 8 realms, the mythology in Thor: The Dark World was brought to life in this new film. The special effects and the set design was able to bring Asgard to life as a living and breathing world (than in the first film being just an interior of the palace and the rainbow bridge) as it does show more of what is in Asgard and some of the realms of the nine. The action scenes in this film are bigger and better (with the help of it its bigger budget) as it re-captures the fun and excitement from The Avengers’ Battle of New York and the first scene in Thor where he battled the frost giants, right from scene one the film never stops in giving you the action.

In conclusion, Thor: The Dark World is a near-perfect experience and a solid entry in the franchise. It’s one of those rare movies in the winter season where it felt like a summer blockbuster. Alan Taylor along with the reunited cast were able to deliver a fun and intriguing superhero film, though minor flaws that I did address did ruin the experience for me quite a bit. Thor: The Dark World is something to be experienced in the big screen, If you are disappointed with the current Phase 2 film we had so far this year, this could certainly change your mind about it and will probably make you stay until the next one in this episodic saga. 

As always, make sure to stay until the end of the credits, there are actually 2 credits scenes this time and they are more relevant as a continuation for future films. 

4/5 - FOR THE WIN!

Saturday, October 19, 2013



CARRIE (2013)


G.P. Manalo


Chloe Grace Moretz

Julianne Moore

Gabriella Wilde


Carrie has been released the same year with 2 horror-remakes and it happens to be both good (Fede Alvarez’s “Evil Dead”) while the other being terrible that it shouldn’t even be referenced ever again (“Texas Chainsaw 3D”). I am happy to report that this film is definitely not like the case of Texas Chainsaw 3D. Though it does seem to be an unnecessary move to re-visit property, due to the fact that the 1976 original cult classic has already done the job of doing not only a faithful remake but also being one of the best horror films of all time. Kimberly Peirce’s version of Carrie does suffer the horror re-make situation where it didn’t really do much of a job for it to separate itself from the original and all it ever did was update the story in modern times with “state of the art” special effects.

Carrie is based on the novel by Stephen King with the same name and it is about a tormented girl named Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is raised by an (extremely) religiously devoted mother (Julianne Moore) who is seen as an insane woman by the community as well and the very existence of her daughter and everything she does is seen as a sin.  Carrie only has a few weeks left till the end of her senior year with prom and graduation on the way. Carrie is the definition of an outcast, day after day she is easily bullied by the entire school and even the neighborhood. But little do they know that she is blessed with the gift of Telekinetic powers. After one incident in the girl’s shower room, one of the girls who were part of the incident had a change of heart and ends up helping Carrie. One of her good acts was making her boyfriend, Tommy invite Carrie to prom for one night that she will definitely remember. But the other girl, Tina who was suspended for the same incident has plotted her revenge.

I wasn’t really looking forward to Carrie due to the fact that it is rather unnecessary to re-make this movie. The film does follow the story very well from both the original film and the book. Fans of the book will be happy that it is a very faithful adaptation (though the ending could be a bit of a love-hate relationship for you). They did follow the themes and the significant events were done justice. But I left the theater going, what is the point anyways when there is already a movie that did do the same thing and have done better.

As re-makes come and go, Carrie does stay true to the source material and somewhat lives up to Brian De Palma’s original film. There were some strokes in the film that made this movie feel fresh and it is the setting. The modern setting does help this movie a lot than it being an exact copy of the old one. Bullying has evolved throughout the years through different ways than shouting names and punching someone silly now with the existence of modern technology and social media, and this film does show the extremes of modern-day bullying. That certain element does make this film very relevant for the audiences now. Because of the setting and the situations being displayed in the film, the amount of emotionality really does live up very well and it became very powerful scenes in the movie (up to the point where it is rather disturbing to watch for the most part). Other than that, the film still isn’t different than the original. As I reflect on the thought of it being taken place in modern times it does condescend itself quite a bit, since if she was bullied like that and the video going viral in the internet. We could’ve seen people in this movie be walking around in t-shirts that say #SaveCarrie as some sort of online campaign.

With special effects taking over mainstream movies nowadays it has become one of the excuses to re-make a film that didn’t really have the kind of technology it had back then; updating the film with special effects doesn’t necessarily better the film from the original. That being said the special effects of the film does bring a lot to this movie, in the famous prom scene when Carrie clicked she really clicked, the scenes of her punishing the bullies made DePalma’s version look like movie for kids. The special effects in this film were very good, though it does take away the grit and believability quite a bit in most scenes. The film was entertaining especially the film’s big finale that does feature Carrie using her powers in creative yet cruel ways.

The film is actually well acted and it is because of the two leads of Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz. Granted, Chloe Moretz is no Sissy Spacek as she goes into the role of Carrie White Though she (Chloe) does bring enough to the role for it to be a good performance, going back to the modern setting of this film, the writing was able to give the film a lot of sympathy for the character. But the one who really stood out was Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother Julianne Moore brought a terrifying performance in this role; she has a haunting presence throughout the film. People have complained about the bullies being too extreme, I never really heard them say that they have read the book but Stephen King shows no difference when it comes to writing his antagonists, his antagonists are as extreme as the bullies are in this film (so there’s that).

Nonetheless Carrie is a very decent and entertaining enough re-make of De Palma’s classic, maybe not as great of a re-make as this year’s Evil Dead (Kim Pierce’s Carrie doesn’t really offer much as a re-make; granted, it does have great performances, a faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel and some entertaining special effect sequences but as a re-make there should be more than that. The film recreates too much of the 1976 classic, and that is the reason why this film suffers heavily, it may have been taken place in the year 2013 but the film felt like it was still living in the past (like having a mind of a 54 year old man in a body of a 4-year old). I would recommend you see this version before seeing the classic; it will ruin your experience as you watch this version. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013



G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
 Alfonso Cuarón 
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney

I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, but after seeing this movie – not anymore (better yet re-think about that career). A film like Gravity can do that to you; this film shows the utter terror, the isolation, the sound of silence or basically every fear of going to space as an astronaut. It is shown very well in this movie through the “out of this world” visuals (I’m pretty sure you knew I was going to say that at one point of this review), the writing and even Alfonso Cuarón’s direction. But most of all, it is because of the performances of the two actors, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in this roller coaster thrill ride.

In Gravity, a Medical Engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone along with a crew of astronauts was assigned to repair a satellite above earth. But when a horrific accident occurs, it damaged their space shuttle heavily leaving her and a veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski working together to survive the impossible.

The film is very much “direct” at what it does as a film; it is very much minimal (straightforward) in a good way. It wasn’t like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey nor is it like Moon where it is very much a deeply told film where it is layers upon layers of elements that make you think. It doesn’t take time to establish the characters neither, The film begins with a few lines of dialogue and then goes on to the destructive scenes we keep seeing in the trailers (I suggest you only see the first one, the rest shows too much) and yet the experience surprises me, I’ve barely knew a thing about these characters in the first place and me along with a theatre full of people are actually rooting for the characters to actually get out of these stomach-churning situations.

It could be because of the visuals in this movie, the kinds of visuals in this film are something you could see in a James Cameron film where it is very much realistic, a blend of both practical and computer generated effects. I’ve read somewhere (it was a reddit post if I can remember) that this film was almost impossible to be even made years back because the kind of technology he needed barely exists. Whatever technology they used for the visuals is definitely a game changing technology. The visuals helped the environment feel believable, making the experience better. The attention to detail is quite admirable from the beautiful view of the planet earth, the starry skies of outer space, to the destructive debris of destroyed space shuttles. I would’ve loved to experience this in IMAX 3D (but the IMAX theatre near me is still in its digital conversion), it may have been a treat to see it in that format.

In the screening i went to, there were shrieks and even the occasional "ay puta!" from the audience. It puts me and the audience in a sense of "what will happen next?". The effects gave little details and they were very much enhanced with the cinematography, putting the action right at the audience. There was this one particular scene that featured the subject witnessing the debris and the wires just shifting onto them and the entire time everything was silent, there was the very presence of explosions but no sound could be heard since they are in space. Little details like that makes the inner science geek (whom I have met until now) giddy. Cuaron definitely gives the audience an experience that the audience has probably not seen before. 

But the element that really put this film in its true potential is the performances of the two leads. I’ve always thought that Sandra Bullock should be in movies where she can really give her all (dramas or thrillers) than in romantic comedies or comedies in general (granted, she is great in those kind of films). From her performance in this film, it really gives a lot of emphasis to every traumatizing situation in this film, and her performance is definitely Oscar worthy for this film. George Clooney on the other hand was more of a device for Sandra Bullock’s character to remain calm in order to contain her will to make it through the impossible scenario. Clooney’s calm and reassuring character worked well for his performance as some people (even I myself) find him to be fitting in this kind of role.

In the end, I tried to rack my brain to know what I didn’t like about Gravity. This film is hands down the smartest sci-fi film we have this year I admire its simplicity in the writing and direction very much as it is enhanced with state of the art visuals, and Oscar worthy performances. I highly recommend you see this in the biggest screen possible, according to a friend of mine “see this with the extra stuff (3D, IMAX, D-BOX, what have you), it is definitely worth the price of admission”.





5/5 – EPIC WIN!