Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Subjective List of My Favorite Films Of 2014

Here we are again, the end of the year. 2014 brought us a lot of great movies this year to the point were it is impossible to even do a Top 10 list for these movies. I was really having a hard time doing the list in the traditional Top 10 order and so i decided to break the rules and do a "Top 20".

I'd like to get one thing out of te way like "where is Birdman? Theory of Everything? And all those other 'Oscar worthy' movies?" Some didn't really stick to the schedule and never got a wide release here in the Philippines, they don't come out 'till the first quarter of 2015 (making a 2015 release) or never to be released at all. Also i missed some local festival movies as well that could count as 2014 releases (Norte, Ang Nawawala, the Thing Called Tadhana, to name a few), oh! And i missed Interstellar on theaters.

Secondly, This is MY list, a subjective list of favorites if you will; i am not proclaiming on top of a mountain that these are the greatest movies of this year because i declare them to be. If you disagree with my choices feel free to do a list of your own, with that said let's get to the list

 20. Begin Again (4.5/5)

I'm a sucker for a movie with great music and not only did this movie feature some it also got a great story about - well... Starting over or for the lack of a better phrase  "Beginning Again" (the first phrase is better but not doing that would be a missed opportunity). At first, I thought this was a romantic movie but it kinda-sorta wasn't in the long run, it is simply having the characters trying to move on from their pain in the past and become successful out of it.  I was quite fond of the movie's commentary towards the music industry and music itself these days and it does put a smile on my face when they do make a point about music's current predicament (feel free to call me a hipster). Both Knightley and Ruffallo were charming troughout the movie and it was A joy to see them succeed by the end of the movie. I was even surprised how Adam Levigne performed well in this movie (musicians turned actors Tend to be a gamble). The movie has all  the best ingredients for a feel good movie and it is definitely the feel-good movie of the year.

19. Chef (5/5)

I've always thought that Jon Favreu needed a break after his sub-par Iron Man sequel and the ever forgettable Cowboys and Aliens. Chef was definitely his best work yet; i came into this movie without an idea of what it is other than the fact that it is after all "a good movie". At first i thought it was just a redemption type of quest but it is more than that it is  about this man who was stripped of his pride and have him not only redeem himself as a chef but also reconnect with his family. It's the best family movie you can have out of a concept like this (if you ignore the f-bombs and the slurs). The story they set out for the movie is heartfelt and the way it was executed was brilliant. I came in the movie with an empty stomach, and i left the movie satisfied hungry for more movies from Jon Favreu (and a roas beef sandwich because this movie got mre really hungry for a good sandwich)

18. Snowpiercer (4.5/5)

Snowpiercer is another one of these movies where i gave it a blind watch after hearing good "word of mouth" from different people locally and boy i sure was surprised from te best things this movie has to offer. So what is this movie all about? This is like The Hunger Games-dystopian like future (minus the ridiculous get up the rich people are wearing) except it skips the games and moves on to the revolution. Only this movie is in a train (which is a well realized world by the way) and this film does make the Hunger Games look like a Disney movie due to its grit, badass action, and hard violence

The film deserves more than one watch; The movie does challenge its audience in a way that it gives you a chance to unravel the movie's subtle themes and hidden gems sprinkled in throughout the movie. This movie even establishes Chris Evans as an "actor" and less of the rom-com yuppy or the action hero people think that he is. He plays a protagonist in this movie that we have never seen him do before, and it doesn't involve him making jokes or even so waving flags (more on guns and torches). In fact every character in this movie is portrayed more as people you would question about their humanity than being walking stereotypes like most dystopian movies do these days. There's a trend of dystopian movies these days and Snowpiercer is definitely one of the best dystopian movies out there right now.

17. The Raid 2: Berandal (4/5) 

How can you top a movie like the first raid film? Gareth Evans did so by expanding everything outside that building in the previous film. The film takes place in the crime itself in different places of Indonesia, the action set pieces are bigger than ever, and the story focuses on more than one character. Although the story is great by focusing on a different character they try to push it  waaayyy too much to the point where the movie became convoluted (which is why the movie is low on my list) but other than that the movie is still successful and i was entertained by the movie especially in the action scenes (Iko Uwais is a superhuman) that looks like a work of art.

16. Big Hero 6 (4.5/5)

I know it is low on my list but hear me out. Big Hero 6 is definitely one of Disney's best and they are on a roll for the past 4 years as they return to form to the Disney we know in its renaissance. The film features a magnificent and well thought out world, some memorable characters but most of all a coming of age story with some really heavy stuff with a heartfelt and lighthearted tones. Truly this movie is handled with the best care and does set a promising future for Disney's future Marvel animation adaptation projects (make runaways please).

15. X-Men: Days of Future Past (5/5)

This is the movie that brought the X-Men franchise back on track since The franchise was in an 8-year long timeline clusterfuck due to creative differences in each movie. Director, Bryan Singer returns to start over the franchise with a clean slate. With a little help from his varsity team of mutants and Vaughn's team of freshed faced rookies (first class) they were able to make the best entry in the franchise by right-ing the wrongs of the past for a promising future. As the movie ended there was a sigh of relief from the fanbase knowing that it is in good hands once again, although i was too busy crying tears of joy because Cyclops is back from the dead.

14. The Lego Movie (5/5) and 22 Jumpstreet (5/5)

Phil Lord & Chris Miller are on a roll this year with 22 Jumpstreet and now The Lego Movie. It seems that they have the midas touch when it comes to bad ideas. I tied both movies because they follow the case of turning bad ideas into gold. 

take for example, the Lego Movie - I mean who would've thought that a movie about Legos would make a good movie? they did and this movie was as fun as playing with Legos. The film is so cleverly built with Lego-isms as you are watching this movie through the child's eyes on how he brought an adventure together with a story that is done to death in kids movies (this movie is the matrix for kids if you think about it). But what really set this movie apart was the twist in the end that caught me off guard that truly sets a very emotional ending in a movie about Legos. Truly Everything is Awesome about this movie. 

There wasn't one comedy like 22 Jumpstreet where i had a great theater experience; an experience where i was gut bustingly laughing every time a joke hits (and all of them do hit in that half an hour theater experience). The creative team of the first movie, Phil Lord & Chris Miller once again outdid themselves in this one; they continue to make fun of the buddy cop franchises but this time they take "sequels" as their subject matter on how they never seem to top the previous film because all they did is do the same thing the first one was successful for. The film has enough things to make a movie fail for doing so but instead they made bad ideas work like they did in the last movie. They really did do the same thing but with its own twists and does in fact make good jokes for it. After seeing this i wouldn't mind seeing 9 more installments along with a video game and some toys. Also can we get more stuff where Ice Cube is just flipping out for more than 5 minutes? That would be great!

13. Edge of Tomorrow (5/5)

I was one of those people who thought that this will be another Tom Cruise film that would be forgotten in Oblivion (pun intended) but it turns out to be better than that.   This is the movie that i didn't see Tom Cruise as himself but i see a schmuck who turned into an action hero, Emily Blunt wasn't a walking barbie doll instead she genuinely played a badass chick. They spared no expense when it comes to using the respawn tool, they really learn from it and they do show you how they got better in each repeat. This was the one movie of the year where i didn't mind having repeat viewings. I mean really, who would've thought that they would make such a badass action movie out of the plot device of Groundhog Day?

12. Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc (4/5) 

The first Rurouni Kenshin was proof that there would be great live action anime adaptations when given to the right hands. Director Keishi Ohtomo has  done it once again with two new back to back installments. I know i'm cheating again but the movie is better off looked at as a whole. The highlights of the two movies are what made the first one so iconic and it is the fight scenes, and goodness gracious! The fight scenes in this movie are amazing as they outstage each sequence to another. 

One can admire Ohtomo's dedication to delivering an adaptation that is true to the source material and the Shishio arc does have a lot of ground to cover. The movie does feel longer than it sets out to be  which isn't a bad thing because this movie does try its best to cram in large chunks of material for the movie. And with great chunks of material comes a lot of characters and we do get some great performances as always from the returning cast and new characters. Though with so much material to be explored bythe main characters the timing has to he sacrificed for the rest of the Juppongatana. It is a shame that we won't be getting anymore stuff. I understand that it had to end there but can we atleast get a prequel arc?

11. Enemy (5/5) & Under The Skin (5/5) - Another Tie

Both of these films does what it was set out to be and that they challenge their audiences (their audience be people who stumbled upon this movie or arthouse fanatics). In my experiences of watching both films i didn't know where the film will take me and that's probably because both directors of both films had their own unique style and didn't necessarily follow the traditional film structure which is a good thing because that's where the  challenging part come in. I found myself being glue to whatever is happening on screen because there is something going on tat is either intriguingly bizarre or simply waiting for te big reveal. There are details both big and small that deserves a second look, something to be analayzed. I think i should stop here since i can't really drop anymore details about this movie. Both films should be experienced through a blind watch, be surprised by the film's progression, and grasp for answers.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy (5/5) 

This is the movie that convinced me that Marvel can do anything at this point. In this movie they were able to make a comic book material that not a lot of people have heard about into a cultural phenomenon. This could even be the Star Wars of our generation if we didn't get a new trilogy next year.

They have enough bad ideas for this movie to not work but they ended up doing the opposite. This movie has so many obvious plot holes but i was sitting there not minding it. This is Marvel "not giving a f**k" and it still made out to be an entertaining superhero team movie out of it. Truly This movie is an awesome mix of comedy, adventure, and a space opera.

9. The Babadook (10/5)

I was staying away from all of the horror movies this year not because i'm scared of them but because they never seem to intrigue me anymore. I mean really who would want to see another found footage film with cheap scares? But it was Aussie director, Jennifer Kent's debut horror film "The Babadook" that genuinely terrified me and i haven't beenthis terriefied since The Ring or The Grudge. The film deals with a rare case where i actually care for both of the human characters involved in this horrible haunting, even if the main kid of the movie is a little s**t. The performances of Essie Davis and Noah Whiteman really does help the movie in this psychological thriller.

8. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (10/5)

I love Big Hero 6 as much as the next guy but i still think that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the superior coming of age animated film this year. The first film surprised me and i was ready to tear that movie apart of how cliche it looked from the trailers. It has been a long time since we have seen Hiccup and Toothless on the big screen (reminder the last movie came out 4 years ago), and Dreamworks really took their time with this movie. You can tell by the quality of the animation in this film and I just adored the animation in this movie alone. it is the best animation i've seen Dreamworks do, making the action exhilirating (the 4DX ticket was worth it) and everything look like a piece of art.

How is this better than BH6 when they are both following the same concept? Well here's the thing, BH6 did have some heavy parts but they didn't execute it like this one. This new installment pits Hiccup and Toothless against maturity's heavy hitters with those hitters being taking great responsibility and facing a terrible loss. I was surprised on how dark the movie got towards the film's latter half. I dubbed this movie as "Dreamworks' Lion King" just by how they explored the film's heaviest themes in coming of age films effectively. Dan Deblois took the franchise to a more mature direction and i cannot wait for future installments.

7. Nightcrawler (5/5)

Leave it to Dan Gilroy to give us a dark and riveting social commentary about our media and have Jake Gyllenhaal to star as a creep have him be in the darkest places of L.A..
Though it is a quite disturbing once you really get into this movie, and Jake Gyllenhaal's haunting transformation does get under your skin as his performance captures the film's dark undertones. Gyllenhaal has been on a role lately with last year's "Prisoners" and the recently released "Enemy".  This is definitely one of his best performances yet and brilliant debut by Director, Dan Gilroy. 

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (5/5)

This is the year where Marvel Studios was thinking out of the box for their movies. You would think that Marvel would only make movies with superheroes doing superhero-y things but Marvel took a superhero movie to te next level with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

They did so by baton switching genres from a WW2 superhero film to a political thriller in its newest entry. The film explores our modern society through Cap's eyes who is dubbed to be "The Man out of Time" played once again by the charismatic Chris Evans, as he unravels the vicious secerets behind our government and SHIELD itself with no one left to trust but himself, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow (who continues to prove that she is one of the best female superhero of the franchise), and newcomer, Anthony Mackie as Falcon. Of course i wouldn't forget about Sebastian Stan's menacing performance as the Winter Soldier and Robert Redford. Who would've thought that you would make such an intriguing spy movie with a superhero like Captain America? With action scenes that really packs a punch! (The fight scenes are almost Raid level choreography) The Russo Brothers did and they only made episodes of Community from the past. It was a joy to see one of Brubaker's story arc come to life with an even better plot in mind. This is not only Marvel's best film but also a game-changer as it opens more doors of possibilities in Marvel's ever expanding cinematic universe.

5. Boyhood (10/5)

A movie about growing up that is ultimately driven by emotion an honesty is quite a difficult chore to do on-screen. And that's why it took 12 years for director, Richard Linklater to pull one off flawlessly with his passion project, "Boyhood". 

this is the kind of vision i imagined that someone will see as they draw their last breath in the world. Their lives flashing right before their eyes as it highlights the biggest and smallest moments of one's life. Moments that could count as the essential events that helps them in their growth and development. It sounds sappy by te way i put it but  Linklater directed the movie that way and does capture that very well as he filmed this family for the past 12 years. 

4. Gone Girl (10/5)

David Fincher is on a roll following after his greatist hits such as "The Social Network" and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". It's another homerun with his newest work, "Gone Girl" as he adapts Gillian Flynn's highly-acclaimed novel into a dark, twisted, and oddly enough funny thriller that focuses on a pair of newly weds that didn't end happily ever after for the both of them.

The film is packed with brilliant performances and Ben Affleck is no stranger to that. But the film's greatest performer is Rosamund Pike, withought giving anything away i could just say that with her playing the role of a lifetime. The big prize wouldn't be far from her reach with a performance that great.

The reason why i couldn't give anything away is because i experienced this movie by a blind watch. I didn't bother reading the book, watch any clips or trailers, or even listen or read the raves for the film. I only went into this movie by Fincher's name alone, it sounded like a dumb view to watch a movie but it's not like Fincher could do wrong with his films (i understand that he did Aliens 3 but he didn't even want to put his name there in the first place due to "corporate problems"). And of course he did prove that he can dk no wrong yet again with Gone Girl.

You could just imagine my reactions to the biggest twist the film had to offer. In te end, it's another thing to add to your must-see movie list that deserves your money.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (10/5)

Wes Anderson returns with a big cast of recurring Anderson-ian actors and new actors to the family for another quirky adventure in a small, colorful and, lively countryside of Europe. The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a caper that doesn't leave its (metaphorical) four walls despite the big things happening in the outside world as it is in the brink of the second world war. It ignores those events and instead the movie celebrates a story of friendship and loyalty between its two characters, Gustave H and Zero. With Ralph Fiennes doing the best comedic performance as te charming and charismatic Gustave H

The film has Wes Anderson's style sprinkled through the movie whether it is the film's attention to detail, the upbeat performances, or the rainbow color pallets. Wes Anderson made an exciting and hilarious tribute to vintage cinema and he is the star of the film.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the prime example of what a remake should be all thanks to Rupert Wyatt's direction. But when it was announced that he left the film, i was afraid of what will happen to the sequel without the man who started it all. And Matt Reeves stepped up with a pitch for the sequel that brings the Apes front and center, with a lot of excellent material to work with.

He made a riveting tale about the struggles of obtaining peace when you have factors such as pride, and prejudice between the two factions. It was great to see characters that are more in the grey area than they are going by the numbers. The film yet again features the best motion capture performance not only by the great Andy Serkis as Caesar but also from Toby Kebbell as Koba. Will they be nominated for it? It's a longshot but one can hope that they will get the recognition they deserve just based on their performances.

Big budget blockbusters these days rely more on building their own failed cinematic universes but secluding a movie with setups for future films. This does setup future films but it didn't come in until the last half of te film instead it has this beginning-middle-end structure that progresses perfectly. Matt Reeves is definitely the best choice to direct this film and he did wind up surprising me. I cannot wait for the third film, in fact if they are making more than 3 more films then i wouldn't mind seeing more of these movies.

- now for the best film of the year -

- drum roll please -

*there's a reason why i'm drum rollig here*

1. Whiplash

This is the best movie of the year for me because it is a perfectly orchestrated film that does hit the right notes. It has engaging characters played by actors with electrifying performances mainly by JK Simmons and Miles Teller.

The concept of this movie is very much so follows a teacher-student relationship trope that you may have seen in movies before such as Dangerous Minds or Dead Poets Society, but in the case of Damien Chazelle's masterwork he pits the student with a teacher that acts like Ronald Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket. The film is ultimately about working hard to achieve your dreams and how far you will go to achieve it. You can see the serious dedication in Teller's performance as he deals with his angry teacher with bloody knuckles at the end of the day. I am glad to see Miles Teller in another serious role outside of the party animal identity he honed in his early career. Here he continues to prove that he is a rising star that can play serious roles like this flawlessly. Simmons on the other hand is the best part of the movie as he goes full metal on his similar performance in his past role as JJ Jameson in the oriinal Spider-Man movies. I can totally see academy nominations for both actors but i believe JK Simmons will be the one taking home the Best Supporting Actor award.

It was enjoyable to see the back and forth between Teller and Simmons, as Simmons pushes Teller's character in his breaking point physically and emotionally. The film's final scene was astounding, and i was awestrucked. I left the film just thinking about the film's finale alone and to be honest i even applaused. It is a shame that this film's release got
Minimized due to te fact that not a lot  of people are noticing the film. the film definitely deserves the praises it gets and of course a standing ovation. 

Friday, June 27, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
Michael Bay

Mark Wahlberg | Nicola Peltz | Jack Reynor |
Stanley Tucci | Kelsey Grammer | Peter Cullen |

This film exists (when it is supposed to be dead) to re-boot the rather tired franchise. Though it may have delivered some ridiculously awesome imagery like Optimus Prime horseback riding Grimlock as he charge through his enemies, the film unfortunately gives us more of the same flaws the last two films offered instead of genuinely revamping the series, resulting to another dumb yet fun popcorn movie you’ve come to expect from Michael Bay himself.

This film takes place years after the events of Dark of the Moon, the government is displeased with the the catastrophic effects in their battle in Chicago. They decided to exterminate the remaining Autobots and Decepticons on earth with a project called “Cemetery Wind” led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) and a robot bounty hunter, Lockdown. Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a struggling inventor discovered a busted truck lying around a theater that turns out to be Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). When Cemetery Wind discovered where Optimus Prime is hiding, Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend are caught on in this high octane adventure that involves a conspiracy that lies in this government project.


The plot of the film is mostly recycled from the past three films where both sides fight for *insert plot forwarding-McGuffin here* and end with an orgy of explosions, gun fights, fist fights, and metallic shards flying out. It sounds simple until you realize the run time for this movie is almost 3 hours long (2 hours and 45 minutes). I wasn’t aware about this film’s run time, so I ended up getting caught off guard when this film keeps going. Of course you’ll say “oh, man! Almost 3 hours of rock-‘em-sock-‘em robots?! That’s awesome!” well…. I hate to rain on your parade but that’s not really the case.

There are some brilliant spectacle to be had but you had to go through some laughably terrible dialogue (I could’ve sworn that Optimus looked at the camera and said “did I just really say that?!”); the kind of dialogue that is considered as un-intentionally funny. There was still some comedic dialogue, but lessened this time around and not as hard to sit through like the past three films. The film tries its best to set-up future installments. The ideas the film brought out were admittedly intriguing, but the execution was terrible that the film became a mess after the first act. The film expects the audience to take the movie seriously, but the things that they bring to the table were just laughably dumb and filled with noticeable plot holes that you just can’t help but to turn you brain on and point out “that’s stupid”.

The film still develops the human characters heavily and it expects you to care about these (stereotypical one-dimensional) characters, but the efforts weren’t enough for you to be fully invested in them. I do understand why they must put humans in this movie, especially when this movie is based on earth (for us to relate to them, and blah blah blah). But like I said, they are just so uninteresting, stupid and  some of them, useless. The robots actually had some development this time, having a decent amount of focus and moments to shine except for the heavily advertised Dinobots who only appear in the last 20 minutes of the film with no build up at all (or at least rather vague).


You really go in this movie for the visuals and the action in this film and it is definitely a sight to behold. There were some impressively choreographed fight scenes in this movie both regarding robots and humans going against each other. There were moments where the slow-mo actually shines and gives away cool 3D effects. Unlike the past three films you can definitely tell apart the robots in this movie this time, each having their own unique design based on their personality (yes, they have personality this time) and when it comes to the action scenes the robots are focused enough that you can tell what the hell is going on. Though there were a few shots in this movie where the green screen is noticeable and badly rendered, mostly scenes that involves the windows of a car in its interior shots and someone falling (almost like that glitch scene in the original Robocop).

An exaggerated example of what I am talking about.
The cinematography is what you expect in a Michael Bay film: low angle shots, overly close shots, shots of a scene with an american flag in the background, and cinematography discontinuity. But what really topped this movie were the blatantly obvious product placements, no not just luxury/sports car brands with manufacturer logos on them (this film had every car manufacturer in one movie). We’re talking chinese water and milk brands, designer lingeries, light beer, Oreos, and more. If you think the product placements in My Little Bossings (only Filipinos will get this) and Man of Steel are shameful, you should see what this movie has to offer.


Mark Wahlberg is a slight improvement of Shia’s Sam Witwicky, he did do a solid performance in this movie and he is more involved in the action than running around with a mcguffin while screaming “OPTIMMMUUSSS” or “BUH-BALL-BEEEEE”. The material given to him wasn’t really enough for him to make his character believable (Shyamalan tried, Bay. Why do it again?) And he barely chewed up his already comedic dialogue. Despite having a talent like Stanley Tucci in the film he is reduced to a comic relief role, but like I said the film doesn’t know what “comedy” even means (he mostly yells throughout the film and the film expects you to laugh), almost resulting to being a John Turturro-ish character for this new franchise.

Though I have despised Nicola Peltz being involved in this movie (because of her so-called “performance” in Shyamalan’s Last Airbender), she did do a decent performance but much like Wahlberg and Tucci, the material she was given was rather insulting. She mainly exists in this movie to have that “rebellious teenager” sub-plot where all she wants to do is date apparently (like Liv Tyler in Armaggedon). Which leads me to Jack Reynor, there’s a perfectly good reason why he barely said one line in the trailers (or even be showed), and wow was this guy useless. He’s more of a plot device because he’s a “good driver” and shares a love interest with Nicola Peltz (also a social commentary about the legalizations of dating a minor). There's nothing else to say to the Transformers voice actors other than it is good hearing Peter Cullen return as Optimus Prime (even though his character is reduced to an angry mofo - i guess he's THAT done with our sh*t) and surprisingly hear Frank Welker voicing Galvatron. But this is definitely Lockdown's movie, his character was brilliant in the film being the franchise best villain yet. Other than those three, My favorite newcomers had to be John Goodman's Hound and Ken Watanabe's Drift in this film, their robot counter parts are fun to watch in the film.


I get that this film is trying to be a dumb action movie (the kind that you have to leave your brain outside the theater) but the film is like a dumb person trying to be smart. The “serious” points of the movie are overshadowed by the film’s inconsistencies resulting to a mindless and gratuitous (dumb) action film. I do admit that I did have fun when shit hits the fan but it is a chore to sit through in this brain-numbing 2 ½ hour run time. The film has great potential to revamp an already tired franchise, but Michael Bay and writer Ehren Kruger (he wrote the last two films) instead gives us more of the same schtick…. An overly-long one if I may add. The film ends with a cliffhanger, and is open for two more movies... Let's just thank God that this is Bay's last.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
Bryan Singer


Hugh Jackman | James McAvoy | Michael Fassbender | Jennifer Lawrence | Nicholas Hoult | Sir Patrick Stewart | Sir Ian McKellen | Ellen Page | Halle Barry | Peter Dinklage | Josh Helman | Daniel Cudmore | | Evan Peters | Shawn Ashmore | Fan BingBing | Omar Sy | Booboo Stewart | Adan Canto |

We can all agree that the X-Men continuity is a mess, with countless inconsistencies done throughout the years after Singer’s departure from the franchise. X-Men: Days of Future Past is seemingly the fix the franchise needs as Bryan Singer has come back to helm the once beloved franchise to give it a fresh new start.

Plot Summary:

The plot is based on the classic X-Men story arc of the same name by Chris Clernmont and John Byrne as It jumps to the year 2023, a future where both human and mutant kind are nearly wiped out by living weapons known as the Sentinels. The few remaining X-Men of that future decide to put Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the year 1973 to convince a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) to join forces and prevent the key elements that paved way to the mutant genocide from happening.

Thursday, May 15, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo
Directed By:
Gareth Edwards
Aaron Taylor-Johnson | Elizabeth Olsen | Ken Watanabe |
Bryan Cranston | David Strathairn |

We all know what happened when Hollywood first took the king of monsters on-screen back in 1998, and that didn’t go so well. It wasn’t until 14 years later, when Legendary Pictures decided to bring Godzilla back to life for a newer generation, with Monsters director Gareth Edwards at the helm. Edwards’ Godzilla is not only a feast for the eyes, but is also an interesting yet fresh take on the king of monsters that has a ‘Spielbergian’ twist to it.

Plot Summary:

Fifteen years ago, an ancient parasite that feeds on radiation has risen from its resting place. Hungering for more radiation, the creature turned to a Japanese nuclear power plant and the results were catastrophic. The disaster was covered up, but 15 years later, this creature has reemerged and is now wreaking havoc as humanity finds a way to put a stop to its rampage of destruction.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
Marc Webb

Andrew Garfield | Emma Stone | Jamie Foxx |
Dane DeHaan | Sally Field | Paul Giamatti |

I’ve always thought that the first The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t entirely all that “amazing” and it was obvious that there is definitely room for improvement. But for a sequel, it is a step backward somehow because of the flaws the film failed to correct from its predecessor.


After the events of the first film, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still haunted by the death of Gwen’s father, and he learns to move on by graduating high school, distancing himself from his daughter, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and becoming the city’s greatest defender as Spider-Man. But being Spider-Man has a cost, and it would mean him facing formidable threats such as Electro (Jamie Foxx), The Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) coming together to defeat Spider-Man, but Peter has even greater problems as he go deeper to the secrets of his parents’ cause of death when he was only a child.

Sunday, April 20, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
Wes Anderson

Ralph Fiennes | Tony Revolori | Adrian Brody |
    Saorise Ronan | Willem Dafoe | Jude Law | F. Murray Abraham |
Edward Norton | Jeff Goldblum | Tilda Swinton |

After seeing the latest Wes Anderson film, I left the theater telling myself “is it too early to name my #1 movie of the year?” and I meanwhile answered “perhaps so”. It’s that great. The film is not surprisingly, charming, fast-paced, and at the same time a very nostalgic feel to it as it is very much as most people would describe as a love letter to vintage cinema.

The Grand Budapest Hotel opens with a young writer in a more obsolete version of the hotel in the 60s, he met a mysterious man who happens to be the owner of the hotel. As the mysterious man invited the young writer to dinner he narrates his own misadventures as a newly hired lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori) as he became closely acquainted with an eccentric concierge, M. Gustave H who runs the famous and luxurious Grand Budapest Hotel in the brink of war in the early 40s. The film centers on a battle between him and the son of a wealthy family, for a large amount of their family fortune and a theft of a famous and treasured painting.

Monday, March 31, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed by:
Joe and Anthony Russo

Chris Evans | Scarlett Johansson | Sebastian Stan |
Robert Redford | Anthony Mackie | Samuel L. Jackson

In Marvel’s latest ninth-instalment for Marvel’s second phase of films leading up to next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. New directors, Joe and Anthony Russo taking the helm of the Captain America project after Joe Johnson doesn’t just make this movie be bigger and better but also makes this movie the most important film of its predecessors.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place 2 years after The Avengers as Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finds himself in a whole mess of danger as he continues to adapt to the modern world facing a new and unexpected threat known as the Winter Soldier. As a result of a dead colleague, S.H.I.E.L.D. became compromised leaving the world at risk as it put Steve and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) on the run making them targets with no one to trust but themselves and new founded ally, ex-pilot Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Together they will solve this conspiracy and expose the threat inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. once and for all.

This film is basically a smorgasbord of great elements that works together in the long run. This film offers one part political thriller like something we see from Liman and Greengrass’s Bourne films with its own twists and turns, an exciting espionage film, and another part an action/adventure movie, in an overall comic book film with good comedic timing.

Despite the fact that this was based loosely on Brubaker’s Winter Soldier story arc, the writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (even Brubaker himself) gave this film some compelling material as they pay respect to the universe’s ever growing continuity and the source material itself. Fans of the source material may find the story of the Winter Soldier be lacking for its small development, though not that small for it to bring the movie down. They (the marketing) also didn’t really bother on making the identity of The Winter Soldier be a mystery, and it may be because a handful of comic book readers “spoiled” it for everybody else and assume they already know who it is. There was enough of the development of the arc through a handful of flashbacks and the result is still satisfying; in fact, the overall story is still satisfying despite its changes of the source material and it is the best example of a comic book adaptation.
The past two Marvel films we had in Phase 2 feels isolated but as you watch this film and compare it to the other 2 films, this film is very different because it really does set-up the future films and answers the previous questions indirectly of the past 2 left off and it is that “Where was SHIELD?”, “where were they when a foreign terrorist was walking around in American soil” or when “a mystical being was wreaking havoc in the U.K.?”. The answers are yet to be DIRECTLY answered in future films (we still have Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2 in the coming months) and as of now it is still in the matter of one’s interpretation. If there is one thing Marvel is admirable for it is that they respect the continuity very well and it shows in this film, this film sheds a new light to past Marvel films, the twists in these films will definitely have your jaw dropping to the ground. Having only watched 2 trailers (and refused to see the clips, TV spots and other trailers after the superbowl trailer) I was very much surprised on the twists and turns the film took me to, It ties all the Marvel films together and sets-up a major plan in the future.  

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo were an odd choice to direct this movie at first because the only notable project they ever did was episodes of ABC’s sitcom, Community and yet they even promise a very serious political thriller. Though this may be a serious film, the comedic timing is very good; unlike the past two solo films they don’t feel misplaced in most scenes. I do find the amount of rawness in this movie admirable as well; considering its tone to be a rather serious one. At some point of the film when the chips are down, you will not believe that these things just happened in a PG-13 (in my country’s case, PG-Rated) Marvel movie. The action scenes are intense and not afraid to get its hands dirty. The film’s action scenes were rather shaky and speedily cut for the most part but you can still tell what is going on (unlike most action movies we had for the past decade that uses these kinds of “techniques”). Unlike Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World it departs from less explosions and CGI clusterf***ing to impressively choreographed one-on-one fist fights, gun fights, car chases, and incredibly well-thought out action set pieces in both land and air that are fun to watch on the big screen. There are still some scenes with the use of special effects but as other Marvel films for the past couple of years the CGI is very impressive to look at as it is surreal. It’s also amazing how they thought out of some fun ways of putting Cap’s shield into action.

There’s nothing much to say about the performances in this movie because everyone did do their A-Game in this movie. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson are no strangers in this film and they definitely have given their best performances and interpretations of their characters in this film. Both new and old faces are excellent. Anthony Mackie is charismatic and develops a believable/genuine chemistry (in a buddy way) with Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers. Emily Vancamp, despite her small role as the mysterious Agent 13 was still given enough material to work with and was fun to watch for a little while. Though I may not have seen enough of Robert Redford’s films to get the hype surrounding the actor, he was nonetheless one of the best performers of the film as Alexander Pierce.

That being said, this is definitely the best outing Marvel has ever given to the character of Captain America but most notably the Best Marvel solo film since 2008’s Iron Man and it’s all thanks to Joe and Anthony Russo along with the cast and crew for bringing a bigger and better movie about the Star Spangled Man With A Plan. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is of great importance with the film’s many twists and turns, the intense and violent action sequences, the after credits scenes and the ending that screams “to be continued” has to be seen to be believed in the biggest screen possible. I had some complaints about the film but they left off as just nitpicks and doesn’t really bring the movie down to 1 or at least half a star, I couldn’t really say those nitpicks because they would mean spoiling the movie and we wouldn’t want that now do we? (If you think the plot summary was a bit cluttered… well, I did my best in summarizing the movie without spoiling anything).

5/5 – EPIC WIN!