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.

SPOILER ALERT

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…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

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…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Beauty and the Beast Film Review

Disney continues to pull the “Let’s Make It Live-Action” lever…

This time, it’s one of the films of the Disney Renaissance in the 90s.

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After Alice in WonderlandCinderella, Maleficent, and The Jungle Book, Disney hires director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls, and …strangely… the last two Twilight movies) to helm the live-action remake of the 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast. With an ensemble featuring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in starring roles and Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, and Ian McKellen in supporting roles, the 2017 version has a lot to live up to from its 1991 older brother.

The film follows 90% of the 1991 film. Honestly, I won’t tell it anymore because the story is such a classic.

One of the things I like about the film is that it added/fixed some plot questions/blunders/scenes from the original 1991 version. How come the villagers have no idea of their former rulers? Why are the pieces of furniture still friendly to Beast? LeFou’s character development is a welcome addition. Whether or not his sexuality affected his character arc/film itself is not important (at least for me). Also, the addition of his line in The Mob Song just made both LeFou and the song better.

Of course, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens gave their all. Emma Watson is truly a beauty in this film (you know… Belle), and Dan Stevens managed to give us a voice that is almost similar to the 1991 version (credits to the post-production team too). The chemistry between the two is very evident. The tandem of Lumiere and Cogsworth (Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, respectively) feels so natural.

The songs were phenomenal as well. As I said, this remake will be heavily compared to its 1991 version, which won multiple awards (ie. songs and score). New lines were added; new songs were introduced. All of it went seamlessly, and we are lucky to listen.

I have three issues with the film though. First, there are some scenes which the green screen is VERY obvious. It takes away the magic of the moment. Second, the character of Agathe the Enchantress (Hattioe Morahan) is really unnecessary. I mean, obviously the first scene is important, but the rest of her scenes can be removed and it would not affect the plot at all. Lastly, the fight between Gaston (Luke Evans) and Beast was better in the 1991 version. The 2017 fight was too short and did not feel personal at all. In the 1991 version, you feel Gaston digesting every moment he bludgeons Beast. 2017 Gaston using a gun doesn’t work for me. When you saw 1991 Gaston stab Beast deeply, you truly feel his obsession.

Beauty and the Beast captured the essence of the 1991 original. It has great performances from all of the cast, but it is simply a live-adaptation remake of a 1991 animated film that is debatably better. So… this film is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

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…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

*Kinda obvious I have a crush on her

Passengers Film Review

Jennifer Lawrence as your only companion in space? SIGN ME UP!

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After the commercial and critical success of 2014’s The Imitation Game, director Morten Tyldum enters the sci-fi genre with Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.

In the deep void of space, Jim Preston (Pratt), a passenger of the space ship Avalon, prematurely wakes up from hibernation and finds himself the only man awake in the ship. Months later, he meets Aurora Lane (Lawrence), the only female passenger awake. Meanwhile, something causes the entire ship to malfunction.

The first act of the film gives us “Cast Away in Space”. Christ Pratt delivered enough emotion to convey the fear of being alone. The scene where he hugged a space suit showed how companionship is a vital element in a person’s life. This explains the need for one of the film’s biggest plot point (and one that is arguably wrong to do).

The addition of Jennifer Lawrence to the story may be due to her Hollywood appeal and the fact that she is hot right now. However, one might wonder if “50 Girls 50” is better than “Cast Away in Space”. There was so much potential for an “I am alone” space movie, but I guess filmmakers needed to gross more money, so they added J. Law. But it does not change the fact that J. Law. delivered in this film.When Pratt conveys doomed acceptance, Lawrence conveys fear of the inevitable.

The visual effects of the film served its purpose both as a visual marvel and a nonparticipating companion to Jim.

My biggest concern in Passengers is its linear plot. If one omits or rearrange certain plot points/acts, the film would have been a lot more interesting. Plot twists and big reveals would have felt more impactful. Because of its linear plot, the film felt like a passable movie. Scenes that were supposed to feel big felt less than it should have been.

Passengers has amazing visuals, good chemistry between characters (though it may be weird when one considers its narrative origins), and a potential that was sadly not utilized well due to the filmmakers decision to present it in a manner that was done a lot of times. Because of that Passengers is…

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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…

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*third party/infidelity

Love Me Tomorrow Movie Review

Dawn Zulueta proves to moviegoers that she is still “leading lady” material at the age of 47.

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Director Gino Santos offers the viewers a movie with a premise that is full of potential. With seasoned actress Dawn Zulueta and heartthrob Piolo Pascual leading, this movie should be good.

The film is about Christy (Zulueta), a 49 year old fashion designer, and JC (Pascual), a DJ of a famous club. A year after her husband died, Christy finds herself falling in love with JC…despite the obvious age difference. Meanwhile, she tries to find success for her fashion business, and JC, along with his friend/FuBu Janine (Coleen Garcia), sets up his own club.

Without a doubt, Dawn Zulueta is the star of this movie. At the age of 47, she is still beautiful and stunning. She makes the most out of the script given to her.

The sub-plot of JC’s professional DJ career is a good point, too. In many ways, it is a better story than the main one.

However, Love Me Tomorrow suffers from a very predictable and cliched plot that people have seen hundreds of times. Scenes are predictable; dialogues are predictable. It is frustrating to see a premise that has potential only to be poorly executed. The movie has few scenes which seems to give more depth to the “age is just a number” theme of the movie, but it quickly falls to the limits of generic romance movies.

The chemistry between the two leads is nearly non-existent and obviously forced. There is no build-up whatsoever to their “budding” romance besides the accidental encounters, obligatory stares, and “the plot needs it” coincidences.

Further more, sub-plots just come and go, and all of them are resolved in such a quick way that viewers are left to wonder why it is shown in the first place. One potentially good sub-plot is hinted but is never mentioned again.

What makes it more frustrating is the fact that the last scene is exponentially better than the rest of the movie.

Love Me Tomorrow has a premise that is executed in a way we have seen before… and we have seen similar premises executed better. For that, this movie is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY