Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.
Vincent D'Onofrio should count as two persons.

Before anything else, let me just say that this movie isn't an original. It's a remake. The original film of the same title was released in 1960, directed by John Sturges, and starred Hollywood powerhouse actors Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, among others. But that film was also a remake (a more precise term would be a "transposition") of the great Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. So you could say this film is a remake of a remake.

Anyway, whether or not you're iffy about remakes, or if you lament the lack of original screenplays in Hollywood, here are seven magnificent reasons to go see this film.

1. It's a Western
Yes, Westerns are a western genre (See what I did there?). Well, not just the West in general, but America in particular, because it was only their country that had the westward expansion. But apart from cowboys and Indians, Westerns embody something much more than its geographical setting. Westerns take us back to the grit of the past, when social relationships were wilder, when death was an everyday occurrence, and when the line between banditry and chivalry was blurred at best.

See? Western.

2. Peter Sarsgaard is despicable
I first saw Peter Sarsgaard in An Education alongside Carey Mulligan. He comes off as a nice guy, with a sort of Paul Rudd vibe, so seeing him in a villainous role is a huge break from character. And no, he is not related to Stellan Skarsgård.

Great goatees always indicate villains.

3. Chris Pratt is funny
Chris Pratt never really broke away from the comedic mold he was known for in Parks and Recreation. Even after shedding some weight and buffing up for his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, his comedy chops still remained a part of his acting arsenal. In this film, he gets the funniest lines, making him the unofficial comic relief.

Chris Pratt, in his best "I'm-no-comic-relief" pose.

4. Denzel Washington is, well, Denzel
Don't get me wrong, Denzel Washington is the manliest of the Magnificent Seven. He is indeed the most alpha-male among the cast. My only problem? He's black. No, I'm not being racist. Hear me out. I just think it's not historically accurate. The movie has no date of reference, so let's peg it at sometime around the real-life Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which was in 1881. Slavery officially ended in the United States after the Emancipation Proclamation in 22 September 1862. Chisolm, Denzel's character, wouldn't have been out of place then as a free man in the Wild West. But for him to lead five white men and a Native American? Highly unlikely. The African-American Civil Rights Movement went full swing in the 1960s, and before that, black people were segregated to the back of buses. What I'm saying is, if this film were historically accurate, Chisolm would've been lynched within the first fifteen minutes.

"I'm still pissed about his Oscar win for Training Day."

5. Antoine Fuqua is brilliant
Aside from directing both Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington in Training Day, Antoine Fuqua also directed King Arthur, the period film which launched Clive Owen's Hollywood career. Like King Arthur, The Magnificent Seven is an ensemble film starring multiple cast members, and Fuqua seems to have action films like these covered. It's a wonder Disney hasn't asked him to direct a Marvel flick. He'd be great at it. Or maybe they already did, and he declined. Whatever.

"You know why Chisolm's black? That's right, motherfucker."

6. Haley Bennett is pretty... good
Yes, Haley Bennett is a good actress. But what I really want to say is, damn, she is really pretty. In the film, it's not that noticeable, because of the grit and grime from the dust of the wild west. But once I saw the real Haley Bennett, I was like, "Damn, what a beauty".

I mean, come on. Look at her.

7. Some characters died (Spoilers ahead)
So this is the story of seven men who risked their lives to thwart evil and save innocent lives. With such a noble premise as this, one should already expect that there will indeed be deaths, innocent or otherwise. Not all of the Magnificent Seven made it alive; that would be too implausible, too Hollywood. But not all of them died, either, which made it more realistic. Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio) died like Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, shot with arrows. Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and the Chinaman Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee) died in the sniper's nest up in the church steeple. And Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) had the most magnificent death of them all: sacrificing himself to take out the big guns with a stick of dynamite. Among the seven, the last ones standing were Chisolm the negroe (Washington), Vasquez the Mexican (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest the Indian (Martin Sensmeier), which is probably a statement about how the ethnic minorities will be the last ones standing after a gunfight.

The boys doing the mandatory "Armageddon walk".

The Magnificent Seven. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 7/10
No Haley Bennett nudity: -0.1
Gunfights: +0.1
Vincent D'Onofrio's horse-bump: +0.1
Final rating: 7/10
Apple Corps via The Daily Mail
Sleepovers were probably awesome. 

Some of you may be wondering, "Do we really need a new Beatles documentary?" The answer is, well, it depends. If you're a millenial who only discovered the Beatles on Spotify, then yes, we do. If you're an old fan who was already alive when all four Beatles were, then yes, we do. Okay, so it doesn't really depend. The world does need a new Beatles documentary.

Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years is as the title suggests–a documentary about the touring years of the Beatles, from their early road struggles in Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany in 1960 up to their last live concert in Candlestick Park, San Francisco in 1966. As a treat, however, director Ron Howard threw in their gig at the rooftop of the Apple Corps. office in 1969 which, although not part of the touring years, was the Fab Four's final live performance.

Before they had moptops. Circa 1957.

For the new fans, they'll get to see footage of the Beatles in their prime, showing how John, Paul, George, and Ringo became the biggest band in the UK and how they seamlessly transitioned across the pond to become the biggest band in the English-speaking world. For old fans, especially the die-hard ones who've seen hours of Beatles videos before this, they'll get to see all-new never-before-seen footage of the Beatles, gathered from fans' home movies which were filmed during the actual tour dates.

The film features archive interviews from the late Messrs. Lennon and Harrison, as well as new interviews from Sir Paul McCartney (who doesn't seem to have aged well), and the great Ringo Starr (who seems to have looked cooler with age). Then there are also celebrity memoirs, recounting their fond and nostalgic memories of Beatlemania, including Elvis Costello, Eddie Izzard, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sigourney Weaver.

Back in their Cavern days.

Pretty noticeable was how cool the Beatles were. Aside from being very cheeky, especially in interviews, they seem to exude that happy-go-lucky attitude, making their performances seem like playtime, when in reality, that's one of the most gruelling tasks a human being can endure. They never do seem to take themselves seriously except when making music and writing songs. That's their craft, that's what they do best, and that's something they really take seriously.

The Beatles weren't really after the fame nor the prestige; these were just a by-product of their excellent music. Well, yes they did want to reach the "toppermost of the poppermost", but what they really wanted was to be the best in songwriting and music-making. They put premium on the music and the performances, and when all the screaming fans couldn't give them the best of what a live musical experience should be, they ditched that and concentrated on giving their best in the studio. After their retirement from live performances, the world didn't really mourn the loss of Beatles music, because their remaining years in Abbey Road gave us some of the best recorded albums in history, forever cementing their legacy in music history.

One of their last live gigs at Shea Stadium.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week–The Touring Years. USA/UK. 2016.

Original rating: 8/10
The Cavern footage: +0.2
Not enough Cavern footage: -0.1
Not enough Hamburg footage: -0.1
Manila footage: +0.2
Not enough Manila footage: -0.1
The Beatles against segregation: +0.1
Final rating: 8.2/10
The true hero of this film. In my opinion.

The premise of Train to Busan is pretty simple and straightforward: Zombies on a train. And the final product doesn't suck like another movie with a simple and straightforward premise, Snakes on a Plane.

Now, there are no actual zombies in real life. In the movies, however, there are two types: we have the slow, lumbering ones (like in The Walking Dead), and we have the fast, athletic ones (like in 2004's Dawn of the Dead). In Train to Busan, the zombies move as quickly as Korea's bullet trains–figuratively, of course, but they are still fast as hell. Actually, they kind of embody both speed characteristics of popular zombies. When they're not chasing any uninfected humans, they just stand around loitering like homeless people waiting for free food. But once they spot a potential meal, they go berserk, and start running so fast that they could chase a regular train down if they wanted to. Oh, and also, as long as they don't see you, you don't exist to them–sort of like the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park, but not quite.

The good thing about this: NOT CGI.

Another notable feature of Train to Busan is its seeming lack of back story. The story focuses more on the human relationships, such as the father-daughter drama, the husband-pregnant wife drama (future dad is our favourite character), the teenage lovers tragedy, and the evil CEO (or was he a COO?) angle. We've actually resorted to creating nicknames for the characters, because calling them by their Korean names would still be confusing since we don't speak Korean (they all sound alike). We've called the dad-to-be "Baby", his wife as "Preggy Mommy", and the teenage couple "KathNiel".

Kath without the 'Niel.

The suspense and the thriller take center stage, of course, because this is a zombie flick. But saturating the film with blood and gore wouldn't help tell a good story, because it's the humans who are the stars here, not the zombies. So to create a balance, writer-director Sang-ho Yeon injected humour, and was very generous with the dramatic moments. It's the human drama, after all, that makes the deaths more painful to watch.

How or why the zombie outbreak happened is not the concern of the narrative, because in a real-life zombie pandemic, it's the living, breathing, uninfected humans we'll be concerned about. To hell with the infected. Also, if you're interested in the backstory, you can check out the animated prequel, Seoul Station, which was also written and directed by Sang-ho Yeon.

Basically, Metro Manila's rush hour train crowd.

Busanhaeng (Train to Busan). South Korea. 2016.

Original rating: 8.5/10
Use of fast zombies: +0.1
Death of "Baby": -0.1
Death of Little Girl's dad: -0.1
Final rating: 8.4/10
"What do you think, Miles? Should I aim for 'Best Actor'?"

For two guys in a buddy flick, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller exhibit great chemistry, which I assume extends offscreen.

In War Dogs, the new drama from Todd Philips brings us back to the mid-2000s, back when the war in the Middle East was on the minds of most Americans. We follow David Packouz (Teller) and Efraim Deveroli (Hill), two childhood friends from Miami, as they become professional arms dealers under Deveroli's company AEY. Take note, this is a profession very uncommon among 25-year pot smokers, but through a mixture of determination, talent, and sheer luck, they win a multi-million dollar Pentagon contract to supply arms to armed forces in Afghanistan. This isn't a shady black market deal gone wrong, but it could just as well be, because a few snitches and glitches and double-crosses later, AEY is taken down by the FBI.

Films based on a true story tend to be either serious or boring, which should not be the case, because a lot of times fact trumps fiction in terms of interesting stories. War Dogs is neither serious nor boring; in fact, it's a wild romp. The end credits of the movie says it was based on the Rolling Stone article "Arms and the Dudes", but that is apparently inaccurate. The actual Rolling Stone article is titled "The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time Weapons Traders", written by Guy Lawson back in 2011. He then turned this into a book in 2015, and its Amazon page lists it as Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners From Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History. The question then is: Three? I read the Rolling Stone article, and Alex Podrizki, the third gunrunner, was only mentioned towards the end.

See? No Podrizki. Just two war dogs.

War Dogs is proof that Todd Phillips is a good director. Ordinary, mediocre directors tend to excel in a certain genre only, but shift them to another genre and they flounder. Phillips is known for his weird and offbeat comedies, most famous of which is The Hangover trilogy, yet he transitions to drama seamlessly, and hopeully we can expect more serious flicks with him at the helm. Granted, this film also has some comedic elements going for it, but that's more than welcome if only to diffuse the tension that the really serious topic of gun smuggling brings.

Although Miles Teller is a good actor (remember his fatigue- and angst-ridden drummer in Whiplash?), this film belongs to Jonah Hill. If you can, even for an instant, put his annoying laugh out of your mind, and if you can get past his onscreen obesity, you'd see that Hill has come a long way since his early comedy films such as Superbad. In fact, Jonah Hill is so method in this movie that he gained an unhealthy amount of weight for this role in order to tip the scales, presumably to make his character more despicable. He is, after all, a two-time Oscar nominee.

"Seriously, bro... Am I that fat?"

War Dogs. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 7.5/10
No Ana de Armas nudity: -0.1
Bradley Cooper with facial hair: -0.1
Based on a true story: +0.1
Jonah Hill's laugh: -0.1
Drug use: +0.1
Final rating:7.4/10
Bananas in pajamas overalls.

As is the current trend with animated feature films, viewers are treated to a preceding short film, which may or may not be related to the main feature. For Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets is its seventh full-length feature release, and its accompanying short, Mower Minions, is the studio’s first short. Oh, and it stars the studio’s poster boys, a.k.a. the Minions.

The short starts out in the Minions’ living room, where they are watching a home shopping channel selling blenders. Realising that they would need this to make banana smoothies, they break open their piggy bank to see how much funds they have. Of course they don’t have any money, so they decide to do some manual labour to earn some extra income. So they head over to Fuzzy Memories Retirement Home to do some yard work, but instead they wreak havoc. What did you expect with Minions and power tools, anyway? What they actually bring to the senior citizens isn’t cleanliness; it’s happiness. Turns out the oldies haven’t laughed hard in a long time, and so the Minions get paid for their destructive antics, which they use to purchase their blender.

Like with babies, the more time you spend with Minions, the more their speech becomes intelligible, and you find yourself recognising more and more words from their very strange and limited vocabulary. But like with true slapstick comedy, words aren’t necessary, as the hilarious actions speak volumes.

In Pixar’s case, the accompanying short films tend to serve as the training ground for directors who will eventually move on to direct their full-length movies. In Illumination’s case, it seems that the shorts serve as nothing more than extra time for the movie patrons to make it to their seats. Mower Minions is still entertaining, though, don’t get me wrong. But if you’re looking for something that could get an Oscar nomination for Best Short, you’re not going to find it here.

Unlike that leaf blower, this short won't blow you away.

This probably looked good in 3D.

Like most computer-animated films being released nowadays, The Secret Life of Pets is also released with a preceding animated short film. Unlike other computer-animated films, however, this film's short sucks. The plot is about the Minions (those cute/annoying yellow turds from Despicable Me) trying to purchase a blender, then hilarity ensues. For adults, that hilarity is ho-hum. But the kids will probably have a good laugh over it.

The premise of The Secret Life of Pets is basically like Toy Story for animals. It's pretty straightforward in the title: when the owners are away, pets have a secret life, like this classic poodle that plays death metal music while banging its head. The timeline for this movie occurs in one of those periods between the owner's departure and arrival. So that's maybe twelve hours? I wonder how long that is in dog time.

Duke is so cute. Like a walking chocolate carpet.

This film isn't bad. It's just not Pixar-level good. For adults, it doesn't have that "Aww" factor we associate with animated films that tug at the heartstrings, except maybe for those who are hardcore pet lovers. I wouldn't know, because I'm not hardcore, but there might be a pet reference or two in this film that could be considered as nuggets of wisdom. Again, I wouldn't know, as I mostly just sat back and laughed at the jokes.

Seeing that this film is mainly for children, the casting of voice actors was most likely the studio's attempt to appeal to the grown-up crowd. There's Louis C.K. as Max, Eric Stonestreet as Duke, Kevin Hart as Snowball the bunny, Albert Brooks as Tiberius, Dana Carvey as Pops, among other stars–these are just some of the biggest names in comedy right now, in case you didn't notice (except for Carvey, who was big in the '90s and is making more of a comeback here). These comics are supposed to draw the parents into sharing a two-hour family-friendly movie with their children, although the little kids couldn't really care less about who voices the characters they're seeing onscreen.

That said, The Secret Life of Pets succeeds as a traditional animated film, and I mean traditional in the "cartoons are for children" sense. Adults may not share the same sentiment, especially those who've been exposed to a lot of Pixar and Studio Ghibli.

You just gotta love the texture on that dog's nose.

The Secret Life of Pets. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 6/10
Dana Carvey: +0.1
Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" as the opening song: +0.1
Final rating: 6.2/10
Graffiti sa tren. New York na New York.

Noong makita niyo ang promotional materials para sa The Get Down, malamang pareho tayo ng naisip: Oh, a show about hip-hop? Malamang parang Empire lang 'to, pero set in the 70s. Well actually, medyo parang Empire siya, pero hindi rin.

Siyempre, dahil si Baz Luhrmann ang co-creator nito, alam mo na more or less kung ano ang ie-expect. Malaking production ito, tulad ng ibang Baz Luhrmann films na Romeo + Juliet at Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, at Australia. Sinasabi nga na ang The Get Down ay ang most expensive show ng Netflix, at one of the most expensive shows ever produced for television. At dahil si Luhrmann din ang co-writer at director ng pilot, na-set na niya ang standard para sa buong series.

Maganda ang production design ng series, at kasama na rito siyempre ang costume designs. Straight out of the 70s, lalo na ang graffiti sa mga pader ng Bronx, ang red Puma sneakers ni Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), ang afros nina Ezekiel (Justice Smith) at Dizzee (Jaden Smith, na uncredited, surprisingly), at ang disco costume ni Cadillac (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

Hindi ko lang alam kung totoong footage of old school New York ang ibang eksena na ginagamit pang-intercut sa mga scenes. Pwedeng totoong footage 'yun, or pwedeng modern footage na nilagyan nalang ng film grain para magmukhang luma. Si Grandmaster Flash pala ay totoo. I mean, totoong tao siya na master ng turntables at pioneer ng hip-hop music. Sa show, siya ay pino-portray ng isang actor na si Mamoudou Athie. Pero 'yung totoong Grandmaster Flash, na obviously matanda na, ay associate producer sa show na ito.

Shaolin (kanan) at Flash (kaliwa), na medyo kamukha ni Pharrell.

Dahil ito'y tungkol sa hip-hop, hindi talaga maiiwasan ang mga comparison sa Empire, ang hip-hop show ng Fox na lumabas noong 2015. Actually, malayo ito sa Empire. Ang magkatulad lang siguro sa dalawang shows ay ang African-American, hip-hop music, at New York City. Ang Empire ay mas katulad ng Glee, kung saan may mga original songs. Sabi nga ng British rapper na si Rodney P tungkol sa The Get Down, "I was worried. I saw the trailer and I thought, 'This is gonna be like a hip-hop version of Glee." Buti nalang hindi.

Magaling din ang casting para sa show na ito. Maganda ang chemistry ng DJ na si Shaolin at ng kanyang wordsmith na si Ezekiel, a.k.a. Zeke. Ayos din ang magkakapatid na sina Dizzee, Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks), at Boo-Boo (Tremaine Brown, Jr.), pero parang tinamad ang writers mag-isip ng pangalan nila. Sa adults naman, ang galing ng mga veterans na sina Jimmy Smits at Giancarlo Esposito bilang magkapatid na magkalayo ang hitsura at landas. Pero ang pinakabida talaga rito ay si Mylene (Herizen Guardiola). Ang galing lang ng boses. At ang ganda pa niya.

In terms of narrative pacing, maganda ang pilot dahil na-hook ako agad. Ang isang indicator kung magiging maganda ang series ay ang pilot, dahil kung hindi ka na-hook sa pilot, hindi mo pagtiyatiyagaan panoorin ang mga susunod na episode. Pero ayos ang pilot, at hindi lang dahil si Baz Luhrmann ang nag-direct. Kaso lang, natapos ang six episodes na parang isang buong season na. Mid-season break lang dapat iyon, dahil twelve episodes talaga ang Season 1. Pero buo na siya e, at malamang ang magiging feel ng next six episodes ay Season 2. Hindi lang ako sigurado, so baka may surprises pa si Luhrmann up his sleeve.

Nakaka-bother ang pekpek shorts ni Boo-Boo.

The Get Down. USA. 2016.

Original na rating: 7/10
Walang Herizen Guardiola nudity: -0.1
Jimmy Smits bilang Papa Fuerte: +0.1
Kevin Corrigan bilang Jackie Moreno: +0.1
Kevin Corrigan na taga-Bronx talaga: +0.1
Medyo corny na rhymes ni Nas: -0.1
NYC graffiti: +0.1
Speech ni Zeke sa Episode 6: +0.1
Grandmaster Flash: +0.1
Final na rating: 7.4/10
Podrace sa Tatooine. Joke lang.

Matagal na ang kwento ni Ben-Hur. Ang source material nito ay ang nobelang Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ ni Lew Wallace noong 1880, at mula noon ay nagkaroon ng maraming cinematic adaptation. Ang pinakasikat nito ay 'yung Ben-Hur noong 1959 starring Charlton Heston na nanalo ng Oscar para sa performance niya rito. Kaya sa mga nalilito pa rin, fictional po si Ben-Hur. Hindi po siya historical figure.

Wala namang problema ang pelikulang ito story-wise, kasi nga ito ay pang-ilang remake na ng isang sikat na nobela noong turn of the 20th century. The fact na nakailang remake na ito ay proof na maganda ang kwentong ito, so palakpakan natin si Lew Wallace. Siguro kung may isang problema sa kwento, ito ay ang kakulangan sa exposition ng sitwasyon sa Jerusalem noon. Hindi naman kasi lahat ng manonood nito ay Kristiyano, kaya mas mainam sana kung mas naipaliwanag pa nila ito. Although hindi ko pa nababasa ang libro ni Wallace, sa tingin ko mas malaki ang part ni Jesus Christ sa kwento, kaya nga "A Tale of the Christ" ang subtitle ng libro e. Siguro kung mas nadagdagan pa ang bahagi ni Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus, at kung ang Jesus scenes ay naitahi nang maayos sa main narrative, baka mas nasiyahan pa ang mga critics.

Pa-gwapuhan ang labanan ng mga Jesus Christ sa Hollywood.

Performance-wise, maayos naman ang pinakita ni Jack Huston bilang Judah Ben-Hur (literal translation: Judah, anak ni Hur). Maalala niyo siya bilang hitman na kalahati ang mukha sa TV show na Boardwalk Empire, kung saan ang acting niya ay subtle pero very effective. Dito, ayos naman ang acting niya. He doesn't shine, but he delivers. Si Toby Kebbell, on the other hand, ay magaling. Bilang adopted brother at future rival ni Judah, nakuha niya ang effective villainy, 'yung may transformation pa mula mabait hanggang masama, at kung saan ang kasamaan niya ay hindi niya sinasadya at napilit lang sa kanya.

Sa anggulong ito, medyo kamukha niya 'yung character niya sa Warcraft.

Meanwhile, si Morgan Freeman naman ay typical Morgan Freeman. Masungit pero mabait na old man ang tipong role na swak na swak sa kanya. Halatang sinulit ng producers ang talent fee niya, dahil maririnig sa simula ng pelikula ang boses niya bilang voice-over narration. Nakaka-distract lang ang close-up shots niya, dahil nakikita ko ang mga nunal niya sa mukha na parang monggo bread. Tsaka 'yung dreadlocks, diyos ko po. Parang mop. Pekeng-peke at nakaka-distract.

"Ano ba problema? Hindi ba bagay sa akin ang rasta look?"

Wala rin namang problema sa direksiyon ni Timur Bekmambetov, na kung naaalala niyo ay siya ring nag-direct ng Wanted. Si Bekmambetov ay magaling sa mga action sequence, kaya naman ang sikat na chariot race sequence sa huli ay sobrang nakakadala. Pero honestly, sayang naman ang directing prowess ni Bekmambetov kung another remake lang ang gagawin niya.

Sa palagay ko, the world doesn't need another Ben-Hur movie. Kung gusto ng Hollywood ng mas marami pang sword-and-sandal epics, marami pang magagandang kwento sa Bible na hindi pa naisasa-pelikula. Pero para sa mga kabataan ngayon, dapat niyo nga itong panoorin kung ang kilala niyo lang na Ben-Hur ay si Ben-Hur Abalos.

Hmmm... cross? Okay, gets.

Ben-Hur. USA. 2016.

Original na rating: 7/10
Walang Ayelet Zurer nudity: -0.1
Walang Nazanin Boniadi nudity: -0.1
Chariot race sequence: +0.1
Naval battle sequence: +0.1
Dreadlocks ni Morgan Freeman: -0.1
Kagwapuhan ni Rodrigo Santoro: -0.1
Final na rating: 6.8/10
"BFG, dito ba nakatira ang mga Avatar?"

Noong una kong nalaman ang pelikulang ito, at n'ung malaman kong ito'y sa direksyon ni Steven Spielberg, naisip ko na agad itong panoorin. At n'ung malaman kong based pala ito sa libro na sinulat ni Roald Dahl, sabi ko, "Fine, I'm watching this."

Ang mga pelikula ni Steven Spielberg ay hindi hit-or-miss. Wala naman siyang pangit na dinirect, sa pagkakaalam ko. Dahil ito sa cinematic language, kung saan fluent na fluent si Mr. Spielberg. Ang cinematic language ay universal–ito ang dahilan kung bakit ang foreign films ay maiintindihan mo kahit walang subtitles. Ang mga galaw ng camera, ang editing, ang pacing: lahat ito'y vocabulary ng language of cinema. Si Spielberg ay bihasa na sa language na ito. Dalawang klase lang ang pelikula niya: good, or great. Itong The BFG ay somewhere in between.

Si BFG, nanonorotot ng panaginip.

Kung nabasa niyo ang The BFG ni Roald Dahl ay mapapansin niyo na itong gawa ni Spielberg ay more or less faithful adaptation ng original source material. Tungkol ito sa unlikely na pagkakaibigan ni Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) at ng Big Fuckin' Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance), at kung paano nila kinalaban ang mga evil cannibal giants sa pamumuno ng giant na nagngangalang Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement). Bale nag-tag team sina Sophie at BFG at sinumbong nila ang mga masasamang giants na ito sa Queen of England, na siya namang nagpadala ng military support para i-capture ang giants at itapon sila sa isang malayong isla.

Kung mapapansin niyo rin, medyo iba ang formula ng film na ito sa mga usual children's films o animated films ng Hollywood ngayon. Huwag kayo mag-expect ng mala-Pixar treatment, kasi ang pelikulang ito ay hindi naman written for the screen. Tulad ng binanggit ko kanina, ito nga ay faithfully adapted mula sa Roald Dahl book, at dito pa lang ay ibang-iba na ito sa usual screenplays, dahil of course: Roald Dahl. Hindi ito ang typical run-of-the-mill Hollywood screenplay, primarily dahil sa faithfulness niya sa source material.

Maganda ang overall visual design ng The BFG, at kung fan ka ng aklat ni Dahl at ng mga illustrations ni Quentin Blake, mapapansin mo na parang straight out of the book ang character design. Noong makita ko ang mukha ni BFG, naisip ko, "Teka, parang kamukha niya 'yung nasa Bridge of Spies, ah. 'Yung Oscar winner." Kaya niya kamukha iyon ay kasi si Mark Rylance talaga iyon, at napakagandang mapanood sa big screen ang facial expressions at iba pang physical movements na siyang-siya talaga.

Si BFG ay hindi pa talaga giant sa lagay na 'yan.

Itong pelikulang ito ang pangalawang venture ni Steven Spielberg sa digital filmmaking at motion-capture, at nakatutuwang isipin na para na siyang dalubhasa rito. Noong ginawa niya ang The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, iwan na iwan talaga ni Andy Serkis ang kanyang co-stars in terms of motion-capture acting. Pero dito sa pelikulang ito, ang ganda talaga panoorin ng mukha ni BFG. Dalawa lang ang naisip kong dahilan nito: 1) either ang layo na ng narating ng motion-capture technology mula 2011, or 2) napakagaling lang talagang aktor ni Mark Rylance.

Overall, hindi disappointment ang first collaboration ni Steven Spielberg at Walt Disney Pictures. Sobrang swak rin ang tambalang ito dahil medyo pambata ang tema ng pelikula, at medyo pambata rin ang forte ng Disney. Pero malamang hindi na maulit ang tambalang Spielberg-Disney, kasi mayroon namang sariling company si Spielberg (DreamWorks at Amblin). So sana sinamantala niyo na ang panonood nito sa big screen, dahil baka first and last film ni Spielberg ito under the Disney banner.

Gusto ko lang din sabihin na ang cute-cute ni Ruby Barnhill. Ang sarap lang kurutin ng pisngi niya. Super cute! Kung ako rin ang Big Friendly Giant at nakita ko siya sa orphanage, kukunin ko rin siya at hindi ko na siya ibabalik. Gagawin ko lang siyang display sa garapon. Sobrang cute kasi.

"Ang cute mo talaga! Sarap mo kagatin!"

The BFG. USA. 2016.

Original na rating: 7/10
Mark Rylance: +0.1
Jemaine Clement: +0.1
Walang Rebecca Hall nudity: -0.1
Ututan sa Buckingham Palace: +0.1
Dream-catching sequence: +0.1
Final na rating: 7.3/10
Squad goals: Break-even sa box-office.

Si David Ayer ay hindi naman terrible director.

Si David Ayer ay isang writer-director, at ito ay isang valuable commodity sa Hollywood. Ang problema lang ay may kapit sa kanya ang studio na parang asong may kadena sa leeg.

Ang Suicide Squad ay hindi naman terrible film. Totoo, ito'y isang bagong type ng ensemble movie sa aspetong puro anti-hero ang mga bida rito. Pero pakiramdam ko ay solid ang original draft ng screenplay ni Ayer, at feeling ko rin ay maayos naman ang director's cut ng pelikulang ito. Pero siyempre, hindi na natin ito malalaman, dahil ang ni-release sa mga sinehan ay hindi na director's cut. Ang napanood nating lahat ay ang version kung saan marami nang in-alter at pinakialaman ang producers.

"Aminado naman akong mas magaling si Heath Ledger e!"

Ang isang ensemble movie ay isang genre ng pelikula kung saan maraming characters ang bumubuo ng cast, at kung saan ang bawat character rito ay isang protagonist. Ito'y bagong genre lang, at ako lang ang nagpauso ng pangalang ito; nagsimula ito siyempre sa The Avengers ni Joss Whedon noong 2012, at halos ma-perfect na ng Marvel sa Avengers: Age of Ultron noong 2015. Ang Captain America: Civil War na nilabas early this year ay may multiple characters din, pero sa aking opinyon ay hindi ito maituturing na ensemble film dahil iisa lang ang main protagonist dito, at ito'y si Captain America.

Ang sikreto ng ensemble film ay ito: dapat buo ang development ng bawat character sa ensemble. Maari itong gawin the usual way, which is onscreen character development. Pero ang technique ng Marvel ay iba: i-develop na ang mga individual characters through their own stand-alone films.

"Ganda ng shirt mo. Pero baliw ka pa rin."

Ito rin ang binalak ng DC sa pag-release nila ng Suicide Squad. Dahil hindi nila nabigyan ng sariling stand-alone films sina Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) at Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), dinevelop nalang ang characters nila onscreen. Pero dahil dito, naubos ang oras sa character development nila habang ang ibang characters naman ay hindi na gaano na-flesh out. Sana 'yung sequence ni Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) involving 'yung dossiers n'ung mga criminals ay ni-release nalang nila online bilang promotional materials dahil nakasira ito sa flow ng kwento.

Ang character development ni Joker (Jared Leto) ay umaasa sa prior knowledge ng manonood at sa pop culture status ng character. Si Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) ay interesting character sana, pero hindi ito na-develop dahil kulang sa oras. Gayoon din si Boomerang (Jai Courtney), bagaman hindi masyadong ganoon ka-interesting ang character nito. E si Slipknot, a.k.a. "the man who can climb anything"? Patay agad. Walang kwenta. Actually, 'yung buong plot ay weak. Parang mas nangibabaw ang pagligtas nila sa love life ni Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) kaysa sa pagligtas ng mundo.

Ang tanong, maisasalba pa kaya ng DC ang Justice League na lalabas next year? Sana naman. Si Zack Snyder ang hahawak nito, sa panunulat ni Chris Terrio, na siya ring sumulat ng Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Pero actually, kahit na gaano ka-brilliant ng creative team ng isang pelikula, wala rin itong kwenta kung ang producers ay nanonood sa likod nila at nakikialam. So sana bawas-bawasan ang pakikialam at hayaang mag-flow ang creativity, kasi ito ang kinakailangan ng DC ngayon kung balak pa nila habulin ang Marvel at their own game.

Bigyan niyo na ng stand-alone film, utang na loob.

Suicide Squad. USA. 2016.

Original na rating: 6.5/10
Scary at dark na Enchantress: +0.1
Maagang pagkamatay ni Slipknot: -0.1
Manipis na characterisation ni Joker: -0.1
Back story ni Deadshot: +0.1
Back story ni Harley Quinn: +0.1
David Harbour from Stranger Things: +0.1
Final na rating: 6.7/10
Premium Blogspot Templates
Copyright © 2012 Da Couch Tomato