Wednesday, January 15, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed By:
Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio
Jonah Hill
Margot Robbie

The Wolf of Wall Street is one of those films that after realizing that this is “based on a true story” you are pretty much bewildered by the fact that these very ludicrous situations have happened in real life, much like Argo back in 2012 except Argo didn’t have any sex and drug-crazed maniacs walking around like Christian Bale and his gang in American Psycho. Director, Martin Scorsese, gives an outrageously energetic and almost light-hearted feel to the memoirs of a crooked-silver tongued devil stock broker, Jordan Belfort. By the way, I am not kidding when I say that this movie is “Outrageous”. 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET tells the memoirs of the wolf himself, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), entering the classy yet profane lifestyle as a stock broker in Wall Street. But when the brokerage has come to a close, he moved on to Penny stocks for him to work back up to the top again and there he assembled his own crew of penny stock brokers. He trains them to work like he does for them to achieve greater and live the life like he do. With his crew he started, Stratton Oakmont an “over the counter” brokerage house where they sell small businesses to wealthy business people. Despite his “accomplishments”, his doings have given away some unwanted attention to the FBI and zaniness ensues.

The film has a lot to say about corrupt stock brokers in Wall Street, though we did had Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and Ben Younger’s Boiler Room in the past. But in this film it does follow through that template but the only thing that differs from both of those movies is that they show you the corruption in detail, from them having this sort of biblical code into tricking people to the things they can do with all that money (you’ll be surprised). People have argued that the flaw of this movie is that it (which condescended the statement that I have just said) just says “fuck explanations about tricking people in the market, look at Leonardo DiCaprio doing lewd”. Scorsese does look like he is celebrating the worst behaviour of a terribly despicable person, (Granted it is not his first time if you have seen Goodfellas and Casino) but it is really not. The movie is self-aware that the audience don’t really care about how illegal the things they do (in specific details) and instead tells a message to the audience that we can be (or at least we already are) money-hungry people, the film shows the potential dark side of people and how much money can be a sickness as it transforms us into people like Jordan Belfort, a man who has no conscience at all. 

Scorsese breathes life into almost everything he does. Hell, it feels like he can tackle every film genre at this point. For a 3 ½ hour film, I was never bored or checking my watch every 5 minutes because of the amount of energy it added, each scene feels either important or energetically hilarious. The movie could’ve been like the last act of the film which the tone pretty much shifts into a very serious drama, but instead Scorsese literally didn’t take the subject seriously – in a good way, and it is very rare to have that. Scorsese takes a despicable person like Belfort to have this engaging yet intriguing movie not to mention making a total douche like Jordan Belfort be likable but not exactly rootable (like Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 or Tony Montana in Scarface). The weird part about it was that it makes an entertaining movie, making the performances or everything else be “over the top” makes this movie likable than it is meant out to be (a 3 ½ hour movie of hating a total douche). This film is very much classic Scorsese as it is nuanced of both his past works like Casino and Goodfellas, both of which is celebrating the worst behaviour known to man.

The movie was scene after scene of comedy gold, but it lasted for about two acts of a 3 ½ hour film and the performances felt like exaggerated caricatures in most scenes. One could argue that this is a very gratuitous movie. The film is obscenely gratuitous (we’re talking orgies, drug adventures, full frontal nudes, etc.), right from scene 2 Margot Robbie was giving Leonardo DiCaprio a blowjob inside a car (and a couple of scenes later he was doing blow in a girl’s ass). Critics were very much slamming this movie for the gratuitous amount of obscenity, but to me the amount of obscenity is consistent enough to the message of the film. Unlike most comedies who are just being obscene for the sake of being obscene for a cheap laugh (*cough* 21 and Over).

I love it when DiCaprio takes on roles that is opposite of what people think of him which is pretty much a love-struck teenager 16 years ago, I like seeing him in roles like Howard Huges in “The Aviator” or Billy Costigan Jr. in “The Departed” but most of all him in “Django Unchained” as Calvin Candie, this is definitely his best role yet and his best contribution with Martin Scorsese.  Leonardo DiCaprio delivers great showmanship and he is simply electrifying in this role. From the first 2 acts of the film, everything he says and does is comedy gold but when things go serious he reminds me a lot of him as Howard Hughes back in The Aviator but him being in a comedy was very much “out there”. He proves that he can be a versatile performer in this movie, him starring in a black comedy is very new to him and he does have very good comedic chops in this film. His performance adds so much to the zany environment of the film. 

Saying that DiCaprio is in the level of being a show stealer, but really everyone in this movie was fantastic too. Jonah Hill as the Wolf’s right hand man, Donny Azoff also delivers the same fun Leo did; his role in this film continues to show that he is a versatile performer like Leo. And like him, his role in this film and his previous academy award nominated role in Moneyball, he does tether away from what people believe his role really is which is him being the fat and obnoxious kid in Superbad. Another great performance was Matthew McConaughey, despite the fact that he was only there for the first 10 minutes he did have a great intro (he got me doing the Lunch Table chest bump-humming after seeing this), unfortunately the trailers did gave away all the best things about his character in the film. There were also a couple of actors I’d like to name in this movie that felt like they were taken out of obscurity like Jean Dujardin and Rob Reiner, both were also hilarious in their roles.  Last but not the least is Margot Robbie, who is probably the best looking woman I have ever seen in cinema today (if you thought that Megan Fox is a goddess, you haven’t seen anything yet). It is very rare to have a super-model like woman like her to actually give a great and non-cringe worthy performance like she did in this movie.

In the end, The Wolf of Wall Street is the most entertaining film of the year and we have barely made it out of January. Martin Scorsese continues to prove that he is the best directors of all time and why Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are the greatest actors in the business right now. The film is oddly enough entertainingly hilarious from start to finish as it is a 3 ½ celebration of terrible behaviour. The film is packed with laughs and brilliant yet Oscar-worthy performances to the screen. I can’t really recommend this to everyone because the movie is definitely not for everyone, and by everyone I mean people who have a religious background or at least for people who found films like Psycho, Goodfellas, Scarface, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction be “too much”. I did forget to say earlier that I have blindly watched this movie and it does add a lot to the experience.




EPIC WIN! - 5/5

Sunday, January 5, 2014



Review By:
G.P. Manalo 
 Directed By:
Renny Harlin
Kellan Lutz 
Gaia Weiss
Scott Adkins

Hollywood continues the trend of having two similar movies in one year (last year we had two white house takeover movies). Later this year Hercules will be played by Dwayne “The Franchise Saviour” Johnson in Hercules: The Thracian Wars, but right now we have the Kellan Lutz version out in theaters and this is pretty much an atrocious attempt at bringing the greek hero to life. The film tries to be self-aware of how bad it is and be a dumb action movie but instead feels like a blatant rip-off of Gladiator with action scenes from 300. 

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES tells the origin of the mythical Greek hero, Hercules: In ancient greek, King Amphitryon has grown mad with power once he had ruled a neighbouring kingdom, his wife is not fond with his behaviour. She prayed to the Gods for deliverance, Hera appears to her and told her that she will bear the son of Zeus. 20 years later, Hercules has become a man or royalty but a thorn in the side of his father. Because of forbidden love between him and Hebe, a princess of Crete his father has exiled him to Egypt. Hercules, has set out on a journey just to be ambushed, sold to slavery and take part as a Gladiator. As he becomes a famed Gladiator, he fights to return to his kingdom and overthrow his father, the king. 

When I first heard that Hercules will have a Hollywood-ized re-telling of his origin, I was both intrigued and feared. Intrigued because I was raised by the Disney’s Hercules movie and I grew up wondering if that is his true story or not (I soon realized it’s not because it is made by Disney) and knowing that Hollywood is finally doing a movie about Hercules (twice in one year), I could finally get that movie.  But most of all I was in fear. In fear, because when the trailer for this movie was released there was never one-line spoken by the lead and there were gratuitous amounts of the 300 slow-mo action effects, not to mention bad special effects and the other actors who had speaking lines sounded like they have a forced British accents – I pretty much summed up the flaws in this movie, did I?

But not only that really, the big flaw that everybody is talking about is that it tries to be that “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of movie, it tries to be self-aware that the movie is terrible and it won’t try it’s best to even be a good movie but movie acts like everything it is doing is meant to be taken seriously but it is really not. The movie is directed by someone who had a history of making “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of movies and it being Deep Blue See and Die Hard 2, but this kind of quality is far from those. Like I said earlier the movie felt like a direct-to-dvd rip-off of Gladiator, think of it this way a man who is associated with a family of royalty and somehow gets screwed over, sold to slavery, becomes a gladiator and now he will work his way up again to have his revenge….. Rings any bells?!  

The movie’s selling point is the action and the special effects; the action of the movie was enjoyable for a little while. Sure, there was an amazing scene from the trailer where they showed Hercules’ strength but that was halfway through the movie. The action scenes borrows the slow motion effect sequence from 300 (where things will slow down and abruptly goes back to normal speed), but the effect was over-used unnecessarily more than once up to the point where the action becomes repetitive and dull to watch for the most part. The special effects on the other hand do make the experience worse. The movie is pretty much a green screen movie that looked like something from the Star Wars prequels and you can tell by most of the shots in this movie, but the problem with the green screen effects is that it looks unfinished in some scenes (you can tell by that opening shot of a woman riding a horse or that lion in that gladiator-ish scene). For a $70 million dollar movies they make really shitty special effects.

The writing and the directing didn’t give specific tones to the film resulting to the performances in this movie being bland and lifeless, most of the actors either talk like modern-day people or people sounding like they are gargling marbles for it to sound like a greek accent. I can tell that some actors are trying but they ended up sounding like they were growling their dialogue. Kellan Lutz does physically embody Hercules, but really there is nothing more beyond that. There’s a perfectly good reason why he never spoke one line in the trailers. The way he speaks his lines is like a bad Chris Hemsworth Thor impression but with less charisma or personality and emotion. Gaia Weiss spewing out romantic dialogue and looking like she is a reject actress for a Porno. Scott Adkins sounded like he was doing a bad impression of Leonidas as is his opposite, Roxanne McKee doing an even blander version of Queen Gorgo.

In the end, The Legend of Hercules is a heavily flawed movie to begin with. As I write this review and rack my brain for an hour, I find it difficult to find something good about it. The film is selling itself as a dumb action movie but in reality the film tries to be a serious movie but you find yourself being distracted by the dumb and silly quality of the overall film. The director has always made bad movies that are quite good but this is just not one of them. I can't really recommend that you see this movie immediately in theaters, it's a safe watch for you when the movie is premiered in TV and you could probably enjoy it in that format. If Disney would write a song for this movie it should be called “zero to zero” because... Hercules and…. That’s the quality of the movie… I’ll get the fuck out now….