Die Beautiful Film Review

Paolo Ballesteros as a homosexual might be overdone, but it’s still effective.

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Director Jun Robles Lana and Paolo Ballesteros deliver a film that touches the issues of discrimination, betrayal, obsession, and brotherhood (or sisterhood) through the corpse of a dead homosexual.

Die Beautiful is about the life (and death) of Patrick/Trisha, a transgender woman. Her life was told through a series of flashbacks, and the film goes back and forth when it comes to its timeline. Through the course of the story, the audience sees Patrick’s journey to being Trisha, her misadventures with having relationships with men, her obsession to participate in gay beauty contests, her friendship with fellow transgender, Barbs (Christian Bables), and her relationship with her adopted daughter, Shirley.

Ballesteros won the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival – Best Actor category, and it clearly shows that he deserves it. You can clearly see the struggle between Patrick and his father (Joel Torre) and how it affects him.* Or the heartache Trisha felt when her partners left her behind.

Another great thing about this film is its comedy. Ballesteros has incredible comedic timing, as expected from him. All the other gay characters, especially the one played by  Bables, were spot on with their comedic cues and jokes. The characters often use humor to mask the problems they face.

And that is another thing. The film goes back and forth when it comes to its tone. One second you’re laughing hard at someone’s joke about penises. The other, you feel uncomfortable watching a particular scene.** These scenes allow you to understand Trisha, a flawed person who means well for the people she loves. The paragraph Trisha remembered for the Q&As of the beauty pageants might show the resiliency of her character. Or it might show her stubbornness to positively change for the people closest to her.

However, what the film makes up for incredible humor and acting, it suffers from some pacing issues. There was really no build up to something huge that might happen near its so-called climax. There was a potential for one though, but it was not used.*** Also, there were some scenes that seem to be unnecessary for the film as a whole, i.e. the Jessie arc.

Furthermore, the film showed a plethora of scenes or plot points that we have seen over and over in a homosexual story. Nothing new was brought to the table except its continuous timeline shifts.

Die Beautiful is a film filled with great comedy and incredible acting. However, it also has not shown anything new when it comes to gay-centered stories. For this reason, this film is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

*Before the “operation”
**Won’t tell you

SPOILER ALERT

*** Barbs technically stole Trisha’s body from her family (her father).

Saving Sally Film Review

A breath of fresh air…

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Director Avid Liongoren offers a love story featuring penis shaped monsters, crazy inventions, amazing visuals, and the ever beautiful ray of sunshine that is Rhian Ramos (Sally).

Saving Sally stars Marty (Enzo Marcos) as a nerdy graphic artist who’s in love with his bestfriend, Sally (Ramos), an eccentric inventor. Daily routines with Sally became part of Marty’s life … until Nick the Dick (TJ Trinidad) becomes her boyfriend.

The moment the opening scene starts, it is quite clear that this film is not the usual films that you see in the cinema. These days, it’s either a horrible comedy or a third party movie. With its artsy and humorous animated backgrounds, Saving Sally is extremely pleasing to the eyes. Looking for some visual jokes and pop culture reference is surely a treat.

Most of the actors in the film delivered well. Rhian Ramos simply glowed such radiant beauty in each shot it is hard not to like the character of Sally (She was 19 when this was made). The parents of Marty gave funny portrayals of the overloving mother and the clueless father. Marty’s employer from Renegade Publishing stole every scene he was in.

The story about Marty’s love for Sally was seen a lot of times. An underdog falling in love, a douche of a boyfriend, and falling in love with a friend are some of the usual tropes we have seen time and time again. But what separates Saving Sally apart is its execution. Humor, animation, and cute chemistry between the characters make this film so unique.

SPOILER ALERT

However, after the enjoyable ride this film takes you…it just ends. Yes, it ends in a good way, but a few scenes or dialogues could have ended the film with a much more lasting impact to the audience.

Saving Sally is a film that is a rare gem in a sea of repetitive mediocre comedy and kabit* movies. With its mix of humor, cute visuals, Rhian Ramos, and unique (and wonderful) execution of a story told a million times over, this film is surely…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

*third party/infidelity

Underworld: Blood Wars Movie Review

When will it end???

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Directed by Anna Foerster (directorial debut), this movie is the fifth in the franchise and stars Kate Beckinsale (Selene), Theo James (David), and Tobias Menzies (Marius).

Both the Lycans (werewolves) and the vampires hunt for Selene and her daughter, Eve. Selene hides her daughter and is later called by David and Thomas (Charles Dance) to help stop the conflict between the two factions. Meanwhile, a new Lycan leader, Marius, and a high-ranking vampire, Semira (Lara Pulver), separately plan to strengthen their respective factions by extracting the blood of Selene or her daughter.

It was great seeing Beckinsale in a leather suit again. She really looked like she did not age at all!

The action sequences were good enough, except for the ones with Lena because it feels so lazily done.

The movie is very formulaic in its plot. Talk talk talk fight repeat until the end of the movie. Everyone just talks and talks, and its not even natural. Every bit of dialogue felt so forced to the bones. Yes, certain films follow this flow, but the dialogues used in those films were so natural you barely felt the formula.

A few character motivations change in an instant with little to no moment to explanation. A lot of revelations appear with little to no moment for the characters to digest or react what they heard. For example (mini spoiler alert), Selene finds out Michael’s fate from the last movie, but there was no repercussion or reaction to it.

The antagonists were just there for this movie to have a villain. The fights between Theo and Semira and between Selene and Marius ended so stupidly that one would wonder how these two became such feared villains in the story.

Underworld: Blood Wars may have Kate Beckinsale in a leather suit, but that is not enough to cover the problems it has. Because of that, this movie is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Rogue One Film Review

A spin-off prequel better than the prequel trilogy.

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Do you remember that opening crawl from Episode 4: A New Hope (1977)? Director Gareth Edwards and his writers managed to make a movie out of it. Is this really a necessary movie to make? With rumors circulating about other spin-offs focusing on Han Solo and Boba Fett, the Star Wars franchise seems to be in a brink of “Milking the Cow” Syndrome. However, as you may have noticed in my intro, for now, that is not the case.

Starring Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Casian Andor), and Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Rogue One is about a group of Rebels (mostly) undergoing a mission to take the blueprints of the Death Star, a space station with enough firepower to destroy an entire planet.

The film features a dirtier, more grounded, fresh take on the series. After 7 films in the series, cartoons appearing out of nowhere, and multiple other media, one might think Star Wars has told it all.

The first act of the film was pretty slow, especially the Saw Gerrera part. However, that seems to be an necessary evil because it helps us learn more about Jyn’s backstory. Once the 2nd act starts, everything went great.

One of the biggest pressures of Rogue One that it is a Star Wars movie. It has come to a point that everything Star Wars (especially in the silver screen) has huge expectations. It’s a matter of “hit or miss”. Fortunately, Rogue One hits the good notes.

Right off the bat, audiences see that there is no opening crawl at the start of the film. This represents the movie’s departure from the two trilogies. Even the music is different. Eventhough there are cameos and references regarding the other Star Wars films, Rogue One manages to have its own identity.

The cast did their jobs well. Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe) and Alan Tudyk (K2SO) are the scene stealers of the show. Yen’s physicality and Tudyk’s voice work breathes life to an already energetic story. Another wonderful thing the film did is to show that the two sides (the Empire and the Rebellion) are not as easy as black and white. Director Krennic’s motivation to lead the Death Star project is relatable, and Andor’s actions as a Rebel are questionable at times.

Rogue One is a masterpiece. With its well-built characters, rich mythos,  and proper connection to both Star Wars trilogies, this film is definitely…

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Moana Film Review

There are two things I learned from the stars of the latest Disney film: Dwayne Johnson can do anything and Auli’i Cravalho is a star everyone should watch out.

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Directed by  Ron Clements and John Musker (the guys who gave us Aladdin and Hercules), Moana stars Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson as the titular Moana and the demi-god Maui, respectively.

The film stars Moana (Cravalho), a daughter of a chief on a small Polynesian island. When crops started to rot and fishes left the area, Moana learned that a 1 000 year old robbery done by the demi-god Maui (Johnson) causes the said disaster. With the encouragement of her grandma Tala (Rachel House), she sails away from her island to look for Maui and return the stolen gem/heart to its rightful location.

Right off the bat, it has to be officially said that Dwayne Johnson can absolutely do anything*! He has done action, comedy, music, and wrestling. We can now add voice acting to the list. WWE has branded him “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment”. Well, Johnson has truly brought energy in the film. His song You’re Welcome was just perfect for his voice. The character of Maui is such a well-rounded character, but it was such a waste not to explore on his past or his motives that much.

Auli’i Cravalho is a promising talent. Her song How Far I’ll Go proves that Disney hasn’t lost its touch with musicals. The future is bright for this lady.

The film’s soundtrack is another marvel. All of the songs were magnificent. Jemaine Clement’s Shiny is a gem on its own.

Round of applause also for Alan Tudyk’s take as Hei Hei the Chicken.

Moana is a feel good film that the entire family can enjoy. The actors’ voice acting, the soundtrack, and the incorporated Polynesian mythology make this film…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

* Figuratively, of course…