Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

They already made four of these movies… But 2004 Incredibles will have its first sequel next year!

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Directed by Pierre Coffin (the Despicable Me franchise) and Kyle Balda (Lorax), Despicable Me 3 is the third feature-length movie about former villain Gru (Steve Carell) and the fourth feature-length movie of the franchise (Minions is the third).

After a failed mission, Felonious Gru has been removed from the Anti-Villain League Agency. Despite the attempts of comforting him by his wife Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), he still feels purposeless… Then, an invitation from his long-lost brother Dru Gru (also Carell) changes his perspective on things. Now, he knows he is from a long line of supervillains. Out of this new knowledge, he faces the choice to go back to being evil or remain a good guy.

I remember when the first movie took the world by storm with its quirky slapstick humor and its adorable characters. I am happy to say that the humor is still present. Especially with animation, there is a tendency for the humor to decrease…sometimes exponentially (eg. Shrek Forever After). The slapstick is still funny, and the kids will love it.

I also appreciate how the filmmakers learned from their mistake regarding the Minions. You see, certain minor characters may shine even more than the stars themselves, but it only worked because they were presented in short bursts. Giving them a spin-off with the same shtick often results to a very boring product. Such was the case with Minions (2015). I’m happy to see that the Minions were not trying to hog the spotlight.

And that is where it ends, folks…

SPOILER ALERT

The positive I gave for the Minions was quickly removed because the Minions serve no purpose at all in the story. Remove all of the Minions scenes, and the story will still be exactly the same. Some might argue that the moment the Minions left their leader was one of the turning points in Gru’s “slump plot”. That is not the case. After having his hundreds of Minions leaving him, Gru never truly grieved about it…which was actually a bummer because we have seen the relationship between them (Gru knows them all by name, for example). But the movie never gave Gru a chance to digest what happened.

Also, the characters of Gru’s adoptive daughters were downplayed at an exponential rate! They did not really deliver something substantial to the plot.

Also, the basic conflict that could have been (Should I be good or bad?) was not addressed at all because it was not challenged or presented at all! When Dru asked his brother to be evil again, Gru accepted…not because he wants to be bad…but because he wants to prove to The Agency that he is still capable of doing something right. There was not a moment for him to ponder the situation he is in…which for me is such a wasted potential.

Despicable Me 3 has a poster that is very truthful…because it sums up what I felt after seeing this movie (look at the featured image again)… Though entertaining (especially to kids), it will not grow old well because of its unnecessary characters and a wasted huge potential for conflict. Once the kids who enjoyably watched this grows up, they will soon realize this is not as good as they remember it to be. This movie is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Can We Still be Friends Movie Review

Can I still be friends with Star Cinema after watching this movie?

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Gerald Anderson and Arci Muñoz join forces for the second time in Can We Still Be Friends?

Directed by Prime Cruz and written by Jen Chuansu (the duo behind Sleepless), the movie shows the volatile relationship between Diego (Anderson) and Sam (Muñoz). After their break-up, the two former lovers seem to have a hard time coping with the loss. So they had an idea to remain friends (to be specific, roommates). Can they still be friends?

Let me first say what I like about this movie…

The chemistry between Anderson and Muñoz is undeniable. The kilig factor is real. It really feels like they have been partners for 8 years.

Arci Muñoz is the absolute star of this movie. Her acting is very impressive. One minute she is this very innocent, childlike, and charming woman; the next, she is a very mature and goal-oriented individual.

Also, I gotta give credit where credit is due. Gerald Anderson’s acting has improved…like a lot!

Juan Miguel Severo, the Spoken Word artist and the one who portrays Sam’s gay bestfriend JM, is effective, too. However, his character and the female bestfriend of Sam (sorry, forgot the name) could have easily been just one character.

I also like how the movie starts with Diego and Sam already in their 8th year. It is a welcome sight to watch a romance movie that is not set before the relationship.

And that is just about it…

SPOILER ALERT

First of all, the character of Diego is just sooooooooooo insanely insensitive to Sam (his girlfriend of 8 years) to such a degree that it is just really unrealistic.

Also, the very reason the two broke up is because of Diego’s immaturity and unwillingness to accept responsibility. But for some reason, the movie decides that Sam should be the one to make the move. She desperately (beeeeeeegginggggg) asked for him to come back. The one who gave the most is still the one who lost the most.

At the end of the day, they got together in very predictable fashion. And suddenly…POOF…Diego is now responsible and reliable. How did he turn into such a man? We don’t know. The movie never bothered to show us the progression of his character arc. Sam, on the other hand, had better characterization. She became a better person, and we saw that journey.

Also, the movie had a wedding vow (between JM and his husband) at its climax. The message basically says accept your partner for who he is because you love him. This apparently became the catalyst for Sam’s aforementioned beeeeeeeeg. NO!! I mean, it is true that you have to accept your partner for who he/she is, but if there is something that is needed to be corrected (ie. immaturity and a no-no attitude to obligations) he/she has to change!

Lastly and a bit nitpicky, there was a scene in the movie that has an obvious continuity error.

Can We Still Be Friends? has an amazing cast with good performances, but its unrealistic and predictable plot, followed by its insane message about love, its heartbreak, and its possible return, makes this ultimately…

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The Mummy (2017) Movie Review

9 years since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Universal Pictures aims to reestablish the OG of the Cinematic Universe, the Universal Monsters Universe, with a new name: the Dark Universe.

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Directed by Alex Kurtzman (co-wrote The Legend of Zorro and the reboot Star Trek franchise), The Mummy is the first of a series of remakes by Universal Pictures in hopes of establishing a cinematic universe revolving around monsters such as Dracula, the Frankenstein’s monster, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man. They already did this in the 1920s to 1950s  with great success.

This version, set in the present day, revolves around the character of Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a former US military officer, who unearths the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and unknowingly placed a curse on himself. With the help of a shady organization called Prodigium, led by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), Nick attempts to stop Princess Ahmanet’s plan to summon Set,the Egyptian god of death.

First of all, I looooooove the dedication Tom Cruise has for his movies. Watching his scenes in this movie proves that he still gives it all. At the age of 54, he still does his stunts! Sure, this is not as cool as him hanging on a plane’s door in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, but it is still astounding to know he pushes himself beyond his age. Nick Morton, his character, reminds me a lot of Mortal Kombat‘s Johnny Cage because Nick is very charismatic. Without a doubt, Tom Cruise is the biggest positive in this movie.

The set designs look cool! I had my eyes peeled when the Prodigium HQ was shown. true enough I saw hints of the Gill-Man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and a vampire skull.

There were Easter eggs to the Sommers Mummy franchise (the one with Brendan Fraser), too.

And that is where the positives end…

The story of this movie is messy and all over the place. If taken piece by piece, it is enjoyable and fun. That is true, especially the first scene. But if we are to look at the big picture, which we should to all movies, the viewers will realize that this movie could have been an easy trilogy. A lot of things are happening. Often, it happened in random ways. This movie had SIX writers, and it is pretty evident they had a hard time narrowing the story down.

Also, the character of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) is completely forgettable and unnecessary. Besides being the damsel in distress and the bridge between Nick and the Prodigium, there is absolutely nothing she had offered as a character. Try to remove her in the story. Will we have the same story? Yes! Then, why include her?

Also, much of the humor in the movie does not work for me. Some of it was provided by Jake Johnson, who portrays Nick’s close friend Chris Vail. It felt too forced, and it strays away much to the supposedly feel of the movie. However, I like how the movie incorporates elements of horror in it, somehow resonating the 1932 original.

Lastly… and a bit nitpicky, I had issues looking at Sofia Boutella’s pre-final form (the one where she is Sofia Boutella but with a cracked nose and a cheek hole). The VFX on her face looks so plastic to me. I end up looking at the background everytime her pre-final form face shows up.

If it is what is about to come from Universal’s Dark Universe, The Mummy should be a warning to viewers to be cautious on the next installments (The Bride of Frankenstein will premiere on 2019). Despite the charismatic Tom Cruise in the lead, its disorganized plot has led me to conclude that this film is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Wonder Woman Film Review

The last time a female superhero starred in a movie was 2005, and that was Elektra… Am I nervous? Yes… Am I excited to see Gal Gadot though? Hell yeah!

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Female superhero movies have not been kind to us. The last one, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, was in 2005 and has been one of the worst Marvel movies ever. A year before that, we had Halle Berry’s Catwoman, which was one of the worst DC movies ever. So despite the announcement of a film about THE ultimate superheroine, I was hesitant.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, the film centers around Diana (Gadot), princess of Themiscyra, a hidden island populated by Amazons and led by Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). After saving American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from crash landing, she gets exposed to the bloody reality of World War I. Thinking that Ares, the God of War, is behind all of this, Diana leads Trevor back to London and hunts Ares, whose death would stop all the hate and fear of the Great War…she believes.

Gal Gadot delivers as Princess Diana. Just one look at her and you’ll agree that she is truly a princess. Her portrayal in this film is much more naive and innocent compared to her previous portrayal. This is totally different from her firm and worn-out character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Once the action starts, she reminds us how we liked every second of her in BvS. It is very obvious, however, that she still needs to train her acting skills. There were key emotional moments in the film which did not hit its mark because she can’t deliver the emotions.

The film is so different in style compared to the other three DCEU films. The humor is much more natural. It does not feel forced (Suicide Squad) or too out of place (BvS). Much of the humor is provided by Chris Pine and Lucy Davis, who portrays Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy. The shots are definitely more colorful than the other films. One look at Themiscyra and you will agree that it is indeed a Paradise Island.

I also love how they revealed Wonder Woman’s costume. They teased the costume multiple times, but when it was time to show it…BOOM! I was actually trying to reach out to Gal Gadot… It feels like the time I watched 2014 Godzilla.

The action pieces were also amazing to watch. There were three big action sequences and a few smaller ones scattered around the film. It felt raw, powerful, yet graceful at the same time. However, it has too much slow-mo. It came to the point that I was reminded of 2014 The Legend of Hercules, a movie with horrible and lazy use of slow-mo.

I also like the easter eggs and shoutout to past DC films/properties. My personal favorite was the 1978 Superman reference.

Though a lot of people I know (and reviews I read) does not like the last part where it centered on love (as a theme), I personally like it. In fact, I cried when Wonder Woman had a short speech on how love is the only cure for the problems of mankind. It is a heartwarming callback to creator William Moulton Marston’s original idea for the character. After playing a lot of Injustice and Injustice 2, it is such a pleasure to see a loving Diana again.

However, much like the three DCEU films that preceded it, this film still has a problem regarding pacing. If the MCU has a problem with its villains and, as of late, overuse of its humor, DCEU seems to have a problem with its pacing. I understand it is an origin story, but some scenes could have been cut short (not removed, to be clear). The film could have been 20 minutes shorter.

Also, though I said it was an MCU problem, the antagonists of the film is too underdeveloped. Screen time is at a low for the bad guys. Thus, it gave us little to nothing to understand their motivation. We simply know that they are…evil.

SPOILER ALERT

Lastly, I do now know if it was a coincidence or purposefully done, but a blonde soldier named Steve riding a dangerous plane that could destroy a city/country and sacrificing himself in the process sounds too Captain America: The First Avenger to me.

Wonder Woman is a film that exceeded expectations. It brought the DCEU back to its knees. Though it still has the ever-present pacing issues, this film is truly the best DCEU film so far. Justice League has a lot to live up to…because Wonder Woman is indeed…

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