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…

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Luck at First Sight Movie Review

Luck and Fate play tag in director Dan Villegas’ latest rom-com flick.

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Directed by Dan Villegas (Walang Forever and English Only, Please), this movie shows the first pairing of Jericho Rosales and Bela Padilla in a rom-com.

Joma (Rosales), a struggling gambler, is down on his luck. His neighbors demand him to pay his debts; he has no money; and bad luck seems to follow him. Desperate, he bought a green marble that will help him find his life charm. This leads him to meet Diane (Padilla), a woman who manages his sick father’s drugstore. Due to possibly luck, everytime Joma and Diane touch each other, good luck (particularly money) comes knocking. They used their good luck to win gambles and make money. There is only one rule though… If they want the good luck to continuously prosper, they should not fall in love with each other.

First, let me tell you about what I like about this movie. There is obvious chemistry between Jericho Rosales and Bela Padilla. Their interactions and “falling in love” scenes are cliche, true…But it still manages to be organic because of the movie’s two stars. Jericho Rosales has proved that even at his age (even joked at the film), he is still a heartthrob and a good partner to any star. Also, I love it when he acts like a desperate gambler. It is pitiful and pathetic at the same time.

The scene stealers of the show have to be Kate (Kim Molina) and Boggs (Cholo Baretto), who portrayed Diane’s cousin and Joma’s cousin, respectively. They provided most of the comic relief.

However, the movie suffers a lot of problems.

First, it is plagued with rom-com cliches. Even with a relatively new concept (life charm), the story depends heavily with methods used a hundred times in rom-coms. In fact, an equation such as “gambler with lots of debts+woman with sick father+life charm+rule about not falling in love=this movie” left little to the imagination. The story unraveled the way I expect it to be. Scenes went by the way I expect it to be. There was a formula, and the filmmakers followed it religiously.

BUT, the last scene of the movie may have went to a better ending (once you get to know the main characters), but sadly it decided to go to the comfortable ending. It was pretty much a downer for me.

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Second, an established characteristic of Joma was thrown out the window in the last 30 minutes of the movie: his bad luck in gambling… It would not make sense for him to suddenly be that good in gambling. If he was that good in gambling, then he does not need Diane in the first place, and that would only contradict the very set-up of this movie. Though it lazily explains why (THE POWER OF LOVE), that only raises new questions! Why hasn’t Joma’s “love” for his family/abandoned home not enough to give him this amazing gambling skills? Does it have to be sexual love for it to work? It’s like that Frozen plothole again…

Lastly (though it is a bit nitpicky), Jeric Raval was underutilized in this movie. Instead of Thou Reyes, he could have been the film’s antagonist. I have to be clear though…Thou Reyes is actually an entertaining antagonist in this movie.

Luck at First Sight suffers from cliche, cliche, and most importantly cliche, and only the incredible chemistry of its actors managed to save this from being a bore and a cringe fest. This is…

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 Film Review

In just two films, the GotG franchise has achieved what The Fast and the Furious has lazily attempted in eight: showcasing the value of family.

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Director James Gunn attempts to recapture the surprising success of the first GotG film.  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista return as the core members, while Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, and Pom Klementieff join in on the action.

After their victory against Ronan the Accuser, the Guardians of the Galaxy gained fame all around the…galaxy. After a conflict against the Sovereign, the Guardians meets the father of Peter Quill (Pratt), Ego the Living Planet (Russell), who has Mantis (Klementieff) as servant/company. As father and son bond for the first time in three decades, the rest of the Guardians discover something sinister in the shadows…

The very first scene of the film reminded me of the unsung character of the previous film: the soundtrack. As expected, the soundtrack of the film is fantastic. Most of the time, it is very retro, but very emotional in a few (more to that later).

James Gunn managed to juggle an ensemble of characters again. Each character had a time to shine (much more in a positive light compared to the first one). Further backstories were given to Gamora (Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Bautista), and Rocket (Cooper). I personally like the Drax-Mantis chemistry in the film. Most of the jokes I like were from scenes harnessing the energy of that tandem.

But without a doubt, the scene stealer of the film is Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). The character went such a huge development that his very first scene immediately made me watch him intensely. His relationship with Peter went deeper in this film.

Visually, GotG2 is one of the most colorful in the MCU franchise. It is vibrant to watch, and each world/ environment is designed well.

Also, the typical Marvel humor is present. I mean, if you need to show someone the typical Marvel humor, show GotG.

SPOILER ALERT

As written in the intro, GotG2 managed to tug at my heartstrings with the theme on fatherhood. Quill explores his relationship with his two dads: the biological (Ego) and the father figure (Yondu). And each relationship is both tragic when you think about it.

For me, this is the most emotionally gripping film in the entire MCU franchise…A surprise considering the negative comment I have for it…

However, it seems that the film sacrificed simple story structure to make room for the Marvel humor. The film had no BIG conflict until its last 30 minutes. Everything is just a series of unfortunate events that leads to the Guardians meeting Ego. Most of the action sequences are caused by the sub-plots that are scattered in the film. Let me be clear. It is funny and entertaining! But looking at it in an objective perspective takes a lot away…

Also, it infuriates me to see a few scenes with obvious green screen use. This is a BIG budget film, by the way.

Though the space/sky battles are good, the hand-to-hand action scenes are still too choppy. Every piece of movement gets cut! It makes it so hard to follow the action. HOLLYWOOD, learn from your Eastern brothers!

And another (though it’s super nitpick), the character of Adam Warlock is teased in a post-credit scene, but it totally ignores a former tease of the same character in Thor: The Dark World.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun and emotional ride but lacks the decent structure of its predecessor. Add the same problems it had in its first run (fight scenes). This film is…

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Can’t Help Falling in Love Movie Review

The new movie of KathNiel is directed by the person who directed 2014’s Bride for Rent. I am very nervous……

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Directed by Mae Czarina Cruz-Alviar, Can’t Help Falling in Love is the latest addition to the KathNiel movie list.

Gab (Kathryn Bernardo) just got engaged from her boyfriend of six years, Jason (Matteo Guidicelli). Everything seems to be peachy until a letter claiming she is legally married to a stranger flips her world around. She decides to meet the stranger, Dos (Daniel Padilla), and persuades him to file for separation. But as they attempt to end their “marriage”, a relationship blossoms along the way.

First of all, what I like about the movie is that there truly is great chemistry between Kathryn and Daniel. It is to be expected from a showbiz couple with 5 previous movies and numerous shows in their history. Each kilig moment feels genuine and organic.

The filmmakers obviously utilized drones to take establishing shots, and it looks great. However, the quality of the video is obviously lower.

Most of the humor in the movie work well. However, some of them were cringy given how cliche and predictable the scenes/lines are.

And that brings me to one of my biggest problems with the movie. It is just predictable and cliched.

SPOILER ALERT

Of course, Dos and Gab being together is the desirable and predictable outcome, but I’m talking how the scenes would go and the lines would be delivered. Also, the filmmakers need to learn about subtlety. The movie went the A Walk to Remember route, but fails to deliver the plot twist well. It was so on the nose!

In line with this, there are key moments/scenes in the movie that could have benefited if there were no background music (ex. the parking lot scene).

Also, there was a sub-plot with a transgender character that is totally unnecessary.

Lastly, my biggest problem with the movie is the ultra unrealistic reaction of Dos when he learns about the marriage and his actions later on. Though the movie tried to justify it in a very half-baked manner (with only 15 minutes left), it is simply too hard to buy it. Then again, that one might just be me….

Can’t Help Falling in Love is a rom-com movie with genuine chemistry between its co-stars, but even that will not save it from its cliche story and worn out scenes. This is…

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My Ex and Whys Film Review

They could simply just shoot the “Liza Soberano in the rain” slow-mo shot for 2 hours, and it will still be a wonderful sight.

my-ex-and-whys-secondary-posterDirected and co-written by Cathy Garcia-Molina, My Ex and Whys stars Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano. An expert in the rom-com genre, Garcia-Molina attempts to give us yet another memorable rom-com.

The story starts with call center agent/blogger Cali Ferrer (Soberano), whose twitter blog @TheBakitList slowly gains fame. After attending a blog con, Cali has an online discussion/argument with a new blogger, Gio Martinez (Enrique Gil), who happens to be her ex. The twitter war leads to both their blogs being instantly famous, and they are hired to promote a bag company. Meanwhile, Gio attempts to win Cali over again, but Cali’s trust has been long gone.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room…Liza Soberano is simply gorgeous*! Like wow! Every frame involving her is a beautiful painting. That “Cali and Gio meets for the first time” scene was so cheesy yet you can’t help admit that Liza is really a beautiful woman.

It is quite clear that the two have chemistry. C’mon, they have been working on their love team for a few years already. When the humor and the drama hits, you feel that a relationship is about to be rebuilt or destroyed all over again.

Speaking of which, both the humor and the drama work so well in this film. Back and forth the humor and the drama go. Much of the humor is provided by Gio’s all-male family. Joey Marquez shines as the patriarch of Gio’s family. The drama between the two leads is very effective because of their chemistry. You can really sympathize with Cali’s pain and you can feel Gio’s attempts to redeem himself.

Also, the film used social media as a means to move the story forward, which is pretty rare in Filipino movies. Every tweet is treated like a piece of dialogue.

Besides Liza Soberano, the other scene stealer of the film is the character of Lee (Ryan Bang). At the start of the film, Bang portrayed the character with his usual image, a dorky Asian who is having a hard time speaking Filipino. But then he starts acting in the drama scenes. Like wow! I never knew Ryan Bang can act.

The sub-plot about Lee’s upcoming wedding was also done well. It provided Lee’s character to develop more than just a bestfriend of the two leads, and it allowed the romance between the two leads to be set in motion. However, in a few parts of the film, it outshines the primary narrative.

Also, some of the minor characters in the film were either unconvincing (Cali’s two brothers), exaggerated (Cali’s girl bestfriend), or unnecessary (Lee’s Korean friend).

SPOILER ALERT

Lastly, the end of the film ignored or did not present the consequences of Cali’s actions. Her public image and professional career might be in jeopardy for all we know, but the film showed us the happy ending where they get together.

My Ex and Whys is another rom-com from Cathy Garcia-Molina that hits the right spot most of the time. Though it may have been better if certain characters were either scrapped or polished, it is still a fun watch and may pull some heart strings. This film is…

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*Kinda obvious I have a crush on her

The Lego Batman Movie Film Review

yet another Lego film filled with fantastic humor and incredible fun

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A spin-off of The Lego MovieThe Lego Batman Movie is directed by Chris McKay, whose directorial works has been mostly Robot Chicken episodes. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the writers and directors of the 2014 The Lego Movie, only served as producers.

The film follows the adventures of an egocentric Batman (Will Arnett) who attempts to stop the evil plans of The Joker. Along the way, he accidentally adopts the orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and reluctantly works (at first) with the new GCPD commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).

This film absolutely bursts with fun, humor, entertainment, and a rare heartfelt moment about family and friendship.

The film had amazing special effects. Each individual piece looks like real Lego toys (except of course for the eyes and mouth). And though each character moves in spectacular ways, they are still limited by the physical capabilities of their Lego form. I can only imagine the immense planning the animators went through.

Besides Batman, the biggest selling point of the film is its humor. From the very start…and I do mean the very start of the film, it presents to you the level of humor the film has. Like last year’s hit Deadpool, this film is very meta in its humor. Good comedic timing from each character and very colorful visuals make this film such a sight to behold.

Also, the soundtrack of the film just screams of Batman, action, and humor. You know it’s an animated film, but you have this feeling that you’re listening to a Hans Zimmer-esque soundtrack.

However, my only gripe with it is it has moments of slow pacing, especially the scenes where it addresses Batman’s fear. It only builds up when the same moments ended with a sudden joke. There was not much moment to address or digest it. Only in its final reveal or epiphany did we get a clear answer, but because of the way it was handled it did not mean that much as it should be. It was just fortunate that I know a lot of the Batman mythos and have invested a lot in the character.

The Lego Batman Movie is a film for all ages, especially for Batman fans. A lot of Batman reference and pop culture Easter eggs are scattered in the film. Tons of action and humor make this film…

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La La Land Film Review

There was a time when musicals ruled Hollywood. This film reminds us of the greatness of that era.

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Director Damien Chazelle, who gave us 2014’s Whiplash, one of the greatest films of that year, now gives us another music-heavy film with a lot of comedy, drama, nostalgia, and of course a great soundtrack.

The film centers around the relationship between Mia (Emma Stone), a barista by day and struggling artist by day and night, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who dreams to own a club. Conflicts rise when they realize that to achieve a successful future means to sacrifice precious things in the present.

Holy nostalgia! I love this film! Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Donald O’Connor would be proud. The title sequence itself is a big shout-out to the musical of the 40s and 50s (or the entire genre in general). The film felt like a treasure hidden from a time capsule from an era almost forgotten… a time when the actors should really have talent! The Epilogue scene reminds of The Broadway Melody Ballet featured in Singin’ in the Rain.

SPOILER ALERT!

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such great chemistry together. One feels the relationship build and crumble as the film progresses. We love it when they achieve the smallest success, and we empathize when they stumble on obstacles.

Of course, the third character of the film is its soundtrack/music. It’s quite rare for a modern musical to transition itself from a dialogue-scene to a singing-scene. And the fact that it manages to hook such an emotion from the viewers… Mia and Sebastian’s Theme, anyone?

And the great thing about La La Land is that it does not shy away from the harsh realities of life. There is no “Everything Will Turn Out Right” button. We choose what happens to us. We are responsible to our lives. You want to achieve your dream? There’s a price, and it’s not cheap.

La La Land hits all the notes. Just like Sebastian’s passionate speech about jazz, it is only by watching, listening, and digesting this film can one truly experience its greatness. This film is definitely…

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Extra Service Movie Review

Like the characters of this movie, I have a mission… To clean my eyes after watching this…

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Chris Martinez, director of the Kimmy Dora prequel and the Babae sa Septic Tank sequel, gives us an action-comedy film that was neither exhilarating nor funny.

Three ex-convicts, Aw (Arci Muñoz), Em (Coleen Garcia), and Gee (Jessy Mendiola), are recruited by FOTA, the Filipino Organization of Top Agents (a word play on the Filipino word for bitch). In exchange  to retrieve the 3 missing pearls (AKA Perlas ng Silangan).

If they hired Muñoz, Garcia, and Mendiola because of their looks and sex appeal, then they achieved that. In the course of the movie, they have a lot of costume changes that accentuate their curves. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of eye candy scenes.

And that is where the positives end…

AwEmGee! So much cringe was given the day I watched this movie. Let’s start with the genre. According to its Wikipidea page, this is supposed to be an action-comedy movie. Both the action and the comedy failed at delivering anything substantial.

The action sequences and the fight scenes are absolutely laughable. It is quite clear a number of the fight scenes are probably rehearsed once (or never). Every punch and kick has no power. The explosion in the climax did not present any danger because it was extremely unrealistic and had horrible VFX.

The humor was completely absent. One of the big reasons is the characters deliver the punchline with such emphasis the only thing missing is a big neon sign saying “That’s the punchline!”.

Also, the way the characters are portrayed… Just like the color designations of each main character, the characters in this movie are very one-dimensional. Each character was given only one adjective to work with, and the result is one caricature after another. The frustrating thing about all of this is that we have seen the actors’ ability to actually act in a different show/movie.

Extra Service provided no laughs, laughable action, and three gorgeous actresses who deserve better than this. This movie is really…

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Sing Film Review

The director of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the production company that gave us The Secret Life of Pets combine forces for an animated musical. This is a “hit or miss” situation.

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Let’s face it. The Secret Life of Pets, another 2016 animated animal-based movie from Illumination Entertainment, was ultimately disappointing. So when Sing premiered, one might have the notion that it would be just another kids movie. Fortunately, that is not the case.

Realizing his theater is on the verge of foreclosure, optimistic  Buster Moon the Koala (Matthew McConaughey) starts a singing competition and promises $100 000 to the winner. Dozens of animals auditioned, including pigs Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and Gunter (Nick Kroll), self-centered Mike the Rat (Seth MacFarlene), rocker Ash the Porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), shy Meena the Elephant (Tori Kelly), and reluctant criminal Johnny the Gorilla (Taron Egerton). There is only one problem with the competition… there is no $100 000!

It is just so nice to hear these actors… well … sing! MacFarlene has regularly shown us his singing chops in Family Guy; Johansson, Egerton, and Witherspoon teased us in 2016’s Jungle Book, Eddie the Eagle, and 2005’s Walk the Line, respectively; and Kelly is an American Idol alumnus. Because of the expected (and surprising) singing talent, the climax of the film delivered in all levels.

Also, each character’s personal narrative was given enough screen time to let us know them. These are not just a bunch of individuals grouped together just to sing. They have separate lives, and the singing competition added (or removed) something to it.

The visuals and character designs were stunning. The squid scenes, for example, burst with colors!

The only negative thing I can think about this film is that it is a story we have seen countless times, conflicts we have seen over and over again, and resolutions that have become a cliche. But the film managed to be a feel-good one, and everything enters the Entertaining Zone once the music starts hitting.

Sing delivered what is expected from a musical. Despite having an overdone story, it has such a superb voice-acting and singing from its cast, colorful visuals, and laughs the entire family will enjoy. Because of this, this is definitely a…

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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).