Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.
Because skull = ghost = spectre, get it?

Dear Spectre,

I'm sorry, but you have failed.

No, not in your storytelling, or in your narrative execution, or in any other technical element. You have failed as an action film.

What's my basis for saying that, you ask? My basis is you made me doze off. I fell asleep for up to five minute-stretches. Yeah, granted I probably wasn't in tip-top condition while viewing, but that argument is invalid, as I've been able to stay awake watching a few action flicks in the past, despite not having had any sleep the night before. Yes, I understand that action flicks, like roller coaster rides, have lull moments in between action sequences. But you have to either 1) make the lull moments short enough to prevent you from sleeping, or 2) make the action sequences very intense to give you enough adrenaline to carry you through the lull moments. And isn't Sam Mendes more of a drama director?

What's that? You say the Daniel Craig reboot of James Bond flicks is actually the most realistic series in the whole Bond canon, and that action sequences in real life aren't that intense? Really now... well what about that helicopter malfunction over that Mexican plaza? Realistic? Okay, sure, that could happen. Well then, what about Léa Seydoux's character saying "I love you" after such a short time with 007? Exactly.

Now with regard to the theme song, do you guys have a problem with the movie and song sharing the same title? What do you mean "no"? In all twenty-two Bond films (except the first, of course, because the theme song tradition started with the second film From Russia With Love) prior to the latest reboot, only three theme songs did not have the same title as the movie. Three. Out of twenty-two. Now compare that with the reboot from 2006's Casino Royale to the present. Only one film, Skyfall, shared its title with its theme song. Please explain. Who was responsible for this film-theme song title mismatch? Was it Daniel Craig? Or was Adele the only artist who put her foot down and insisted on using the same title? It was Daniel Craig, wasn't it?

Anyway, this was supposed to be a review, but it turned into an open rant letter instead. Again, I blame Daniel Craig.

Oh Craig, you lucky bastard.

Spectre. UK. 2015.

Rating: 7.0 / 10
Christoph Waltz wearing shoes without socks: -0.1
Monica Belluci sex scene: +0.1
Underutilising Ben Whishaw: -0.1
Final rating: 6.9 / 10
Not red enough, so this is probably Utah.

I expected this to be another heavy space drama. My only basis for that, of course, was the poster, showing Matt Damon in a spacesuit. The last time we saw him in that get-up was in Interstellar, as the stranded scientist-turned-douchebag Dr. Mann, and we all know how heavy that was.

Well, the premise was pretty heavy enough. After a Martian sandstorm ruins NASA's exploration team, the entire mission is told to evacuate. One man, of course, gets left behind. Everyone thought he died. But he didn't. Tough luck for Matt Damon, because he's actually still alive. So the "Martian" in the title is actually an Earthling that just happens to be stranded on Mars.

This isn't exactly a survival movie like Castaway; neither is it a film about the loneliness and isolation of man in the blackness of space. This is actually a feel-good movie, with humour as its main ingredient. And to make sure that the comedy takes center stage, the filmmakers made sure to cast popular comic faces like Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, and Michael Peña.

That, in my opinion, is what makes this movie work. You have to counter-balance the heavy premise of being left alone to die on the Red Planet with the comedy of... being left alone to die on the Red Planet. Am I making sense? Probably not. But that's how Sir Ridley Scott was able to pull this off, making sure that despite having Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon as two of the film's lead stars, we viewers won't even think of it as a rip-off of the philosophically heavy drama of Interstellar.

P.S. Go read the book. It's way funnier.

The Martian. USA. 2015.

Original rating: 8.0 / 10
Jeff Daniels' character from The Newsroom being a perfect fit for NASA's director: + 0.1
Entire film not feeling like a Ridley Scott flick: + 0.1
Final rating: 8.2 / 10
Deerstalker + pipe + horse-drawn carriage = orgasm.

Okay, BBC. You've hit a gold mine with your modernisation of Sherlock Holmes, thanks to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. But this, what is this? A Sherlock special set in Victorian London? Martin Freeman with a handlebar moustache? Horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets? And Benedict Cumberbatch wearing a deerstalker in its proper context?

Yes, please. Now when is this?

Sorry, but even though this post involves kids, we will not be using the word "adorbz" here.

Even though it's been some time since Pharrell Williams ditched his "Happy" hat and traded it in for this "Freedom" hat, Pharrell's new book has only recently come out. Entitled "Happy", it's a picture book inspired by his song of the same title and is about, well, being happy. But the best thing about the release of this book is probably the press conference he had with a bunch of British kids, which you can see in the video below.

Putrizk @ Wordpress

The film Heneral Luna has enjoyed so much success that the Internet has exploded with countless memes and image macros about the film. We, however, were more curious about the man who ignited this country's revolutionary fire, none other than Supremo Andres Bonifacio. We managed to interview the actor who played Bonifacio in Heneral Luna, Mr. Nico Antonio, more popularly known for his role as Antonio "Tolayts" Tolentino in ABS-CBN's teleserye On the Wings of Love.

1. How long have you been acting professionally? Do you have a background in theatre?
I have been acting since 2003 (my first acting gig was a cameo role for Minsan Pa (2003 movie by Jeffrey Jeturian). Re: theater experience, I used to be part of Tanghalang Ateneo.

2. Did you have to go through auditions for this movie? Which part did you originally audition for, and which roles were you shortlisted for?
For my part in Heneral Luna, I was made to read the Mi Ultimo Adios of Rizal in Tagalog, since I was auditioning for his role. Pero napunta ako kay Bonifacio, which is not bad.

3. Have you always been a history buff since your school days?
Ay oo! Ang hilig ko sa history. Mapa-Philippines, Asian, o world.

4. What were your actual lines in the film? Did you have more lines in the original script? If yes, how did you feel about having your lines cut short?
Ang katangi-tanging linya ko ay "Procopio!" (dahil pinatay ng mga sundalong Pilipino ang kapatid ko). Tapos n'un, pinagtataga na nila ako.

5. How many minutes was your total screen time in the final cut of the film? Were you happy about it?
Ten seconds? Hahaha. Oo naman. Happy ako kasi kasama pa rin ako sa pelikula. May kasabihan nga eh: "There are no small roles; only small actors."

6. What was it like working under Jerrold Tarog?
Masaya. I have worked with him sa movie na Sana Dati. Cool lang siya at he trusts you as an actor. Magsasabi lang siya kung ano gusto niya mangyari sa eksena tapos bahala na ako.

7. How is working on a feature film like this different from working on your teleserye On the Wings of Love?
Wala namang pinagkaiba as I treat every role I play with the same enthusiasm and passion. Ang pagkakaiba lang siguro ay ang bayad. Hehe.

8. How has your role as Andres Bonifacio changed your view on the national hero? How has it changed your view on other national heroes (such as the ones responsible for his death, etc)?
The funny thing about playing Bonifacio is that I had a prior role where I portrayed aguinaldo in this 8-part series entitled Katipunan (with Sid Lucero as Bonifacio; it was shown on GMA 7). Nakakatuwa lang na ginampanan ko ang parehong katauhan. Bilang paghahanda, nagbasa-basa rin ako tungkol sa kanila at sa kasaysayan ng Katipunan. Wala namang naiba sa pagtingin ko kay Bonifacio maliban sa higit akong humanga sa kanya habang kinamuhian ko naman si Aguinaldo. Ngunit kung aaralin mo ang background ni Aguinaldo, malalaman mong pulitiko talaga siya bago siya sumali sa Katipunan kaya hindi na rin ako nagtataka sa mga naging paraan niya.

9. What were the reactions of your mother, your wife, and/or other members of your family on your limited screen time?
Masaya sila at proud. :-)

10. Will you be in the sequel about Gregorio Del Pilar? If yes, can we expect more screen time from you, or at least some more dialogue? Or will you practically play another dead body?
Depende sa magiging treatment nina Direk Jerrold and his team. :-)

Interview by GP and Karlo Abrajano

Watch Nico Antonio in On the Wings of Love which airs on ABS-CBN, weekdays at 9:10 PM.
John Arcilla IS Antonio Luna.

I have been waiting for the film that would bring Da Couch Tomato out of retirement. And I never expected it to be a Filipino film.

Viewers and critics have been hailing this as “the hope of Philippine cinema”. That would, of course, be unfair to other contemporary filmmakers, because we wouldn’t call their films “hopeless” now, would we? But I think we all agree that Heneral Luna is definitely a breath of fresh air in this Hollywood-saturated market. And as Hollywood continues its downward spiral of remakes and reboots, we definitely need more films like this.

Here are six reasons why you should go see Heneral Luna on the big screen, and not wait for the torrent to come out. (Shame on you!)

Box office sales mean revenue for the filmmakers
Which in turn is the yardstick by which a film’s success is measured. If it makes enough money, that means people actually watch films like these, and that means studios need to make more of these movies so viewers can watch them and generate money for the studios to make more movies… you get the drift. It’s a cycle, and also an upward spiral.

It’s Philippine history
Granted, the filmmakers have posted a disclaimer at the beginning about taking creative liberties and artistic license. But if it’s films like these that would make grade school students head to the library to borrow actual history books, if only to find out what really went down during the Revolution, then the filmmakers have done a good job.

It’s a great production
The entire production, from the costumes to the make-up to the sets to the cinematography to the camera movement to the special effects, were excellent, especially the visual reference to the older Luna’s masterpiece “The Spoliarium”. If ever there were any lapses or inconsistencies, I either didn’t notice them, or I let them slide. No viewer would let nitpicking get in the way of an awesome viewing experience.

Probably one of the most awesome frames and references in this film.

It's got an awesome acting ensemble
John Arcilla, of course, was the true star, and like a general on the battlefield, his mere presence in the film practically raises the other actors' performances to their A-game. Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini was brilliant. Archie Alemania was great as the film's comic relief, while Mon Confiado as the stoic president of the First Republic nailed the look on the old 5-peso bill down to the flattop. I just thought the young Manuel L. Quezon wasn't mestizo enough, and Arron Villaflor as the writer Joven was probably this film's weakest link, maybe due in part to him sharing most of his screen time with Antonio Luna. And speaking of screen time, we wish we'd seen more of Nico Antonio as Supremo Andres Bonifacio.

It utilised the Unified Cinematic Universe Theory (patent pending)
I had this same idea a few years back, and I call dibs on the UCU Theory, should I decide to write an academic paper on it. This technique was started by television spin-offs, such as Cheers - Frasier, and more recently Breaking Bad - Better Call Saul. Its cinematic use was popularised by the Marvel superhero film franchises, wherein different films share a connected universe, utilising the same actors and a shared inter-connected storyline. This film has a sequel, which we can surmise will be about Heneral Gregorio "Goyong" del Pilar, and will still star Paulo Avelino as the boy general, which was revealed in a very, very short segment stuck in the middle of the end credits. Just like in a Marvel movie.

It achieved its intended effect(s)
Some of which are: renewed nationalism, historical rediscovery, national pride, new perspective on old history lessons, collective online conversations and debates, an Oscar-nomination campaign, new-found respect for Filipino movies, and countless and priceless Heneral Luna memes.

Heneral Luna, scanning the horizon for an Oscar nomination.

Heneral Luna.Philippines. 2015.

Rating: 8.9 / 10
How come K-Stew is in both films?

This is a quick post about shit lit vampire series Twilight, and shit lit dystopic series The Maze Runner. Both bestsellers were turned into box office hits, and I apologize to mankind on their behalf. We should have fought this problem at its root. I think it's too late now to save ourselves from them.

Also, warning: spoilers. I'll be discussing some crucial plot points ahead. If you don't want your enjoyment of these stories spoiled, THEN DON'T FUCKING READ / WATCH THESE STORIES IN THE FIRST PLACE. You are better off reading something from Wattpad, or watching the New Breed Category of Cinemalaya, which to me are the same thing, and are much better use of one's time than watching Twilight and The Maze Runner

Anyway, disclaimer. When I talk about Twilight and The Maze Runner in this particular post, I refer not just to their source text (which is to say, the novel) nor just to the adapted text (the movies), but to the text created when the narrative exists on different media (books and movies). That concept in itself will take a lot of epistemological explaining to do, so just fucking roll with me here.

Ok, so.

The Maze Runner opens interestingly enough in media res. A boy wakes up with no memories in an elevator speeding up a shaft. The door over his head opens, and he finds himself surrounded by other boys living in what they have been calling THE GLADE.  Sounds like a good premise so far.

Unfortunately, it only goes downhill from there. As we soon find out, The Glade is a part of a ridiculously elaborate plan by the government (or what remains of it) to either a.) find a cure for an infection threatening mankind, or b.) a screening process to see who deserves the cure.

What starts out as a very intriguing premise turns out to have an unbelievable, and unconvincing explanation. It just doesn't make any sense.

a.) It doesn't make sense to spend time and resources on an elaborate process that involves sophisticated machinery and logistics to develop a cure. It's something a 12-year old psychotic spoiled kid would have thought of, had he been in charge of the world. I'm assuming adults are still in control of the world at that time, so I find it hard to believe that all the theatrics (people pretending to be dead, people scaring the test subjects with their drama, etc) are part of a scientific, logical process to determine a cure.

b.) It is an insult to the world of science to think all these playacting tactics can help determine the cure. Cures are developed through biology, and chemistry. Not through an elaborate plan that involves constructing a maze designed to hold a CODE that will help the test subjects escape.

c.) You have the technology to wipe people's memories away, and this is how you used it?

d.) All the "Gladers" / test subjects came to the Glade with their memories wiped away. Tabula rasa. Clean slate. What's their motivation to escape, then? Why would they want to escape when they can't remember a damn thing? They don't have a longing for anyone's presence (i.e. an absent family member) or the need to return to a lifestyle that they have lost (i.e. getting stranded on an island after a plane crash). They LITERALLY HAVE NO REASON. Let me state again the basic premise of this story: THEY CAME TO THE GLADE AS BLANK SLATES. This is like me telling you "Dude, we need to escape this place and go to Kagago Nation, because all the reasons we have for living are there." You will probably say: "What's Kagago nation? I don't think that exists." EXACTLY. The Gladers have no idea about life outside of the Glade, so why do they keep trying to escape? It's not like Thomas came to the Glade bringing them artifacts of their old life to remind them how living was like outside of the Glade, but nope, no, didn't happen.

At least Twilight had these things going for it:

a.) Bella Swan was a typical teenager. She was despicably obsessed with her 90-year old volatile boyfriend, and she thinks everything is a matter of death. But that's how teenagers are. OMG, have you seen one? They literally think they have no reason for living after a break-up. They literally want to kill themselves because the persons they're "in a relationship" with had other plans for themselves. They will LITERALLY throw away their potentials and opportunities because of─you guessed it─LOVE. As the single-minded driving force behind the series Twilight, it makes sense. It wouldn't make sense if Twilight is about a fully-formed adult with a fully-formed life obsessing about Edward Cullen; it would be sad and pathetic. But this is Bella Swan. She hasn't had enough life experiences to let her know better.

b.) Bella Swan's motivation was clear from the get-go: she wants to be with Edward Cullen. That's it. It's simple and neat, and you can throw LITERALLY anything at her, and she would still want to be with Edward Cullen. All of her subsequent actions after realizing that goal are in accordance with accomplishing that goal. You can throw an ancient clan of murderous vampires between her and Edward Cullen, and she will find a way go through them. Hell, you can throw her in the fucking Glade, and she'll fucking solve that Maze just to have Edward's fangs on her pussy. On the other hand: there's ABSOLUTELY NOTHING convincing that's motivating the Gladers from leaving their lives behind.

When we talk of literature, Twilight is at the bottom of the cesspool. Not because it's particularly bad, but because it's ridiculously successful while being ridiculously bad. Its success makes us realize that for all of our intentions of writing good stories, the readers have a totally different idea about what to read. It scares us of even trying to write good because now we know it's bad writing that will get the readers reading. But for all of that, The Maze Runner manages to accomplish something. It manages to be an even worse crap than Twilight.
"You're looking more like Thor now. That's great."

First of all, I need a show of hands: Who’s totally fed up with splitting a book into two movie adaptations? I know I am not alone.

I’m glad that director Francis Lawrence stayed on to direct the Mockingjay films, as the Catching Fire movie was really, really great. It’s probably the best book-to-movie adaptation that really captured my own experience when reading the book. Mockingjay Part 1 maintains the tone, the edginess—just about everything you loved from the second movie is still there, and that’s great.

It’s super—and I mean super-super—that Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is in the film, because I read the book and Effie didn’t have a big part in the third book. Banks, together with the rest of the awesome supporting actors Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (I miss him already! Rest in peace.) played their part as expected. I secretly wish they had more screen time. Even the new supporting cast (Hey, Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones!) is good, but they had even less screen time.

"All hail Katniss Everdeen, for surviving The Fappening!"

It’s also not a surprise that Jennifer Lawrence (as Katniss Everdeen) and Josh Hutcherson (as Peeta Mellark) have totally embraced their parts. This movie, though, does not give us enough scenes of them together (because plot), and it leaves me wanting. Also, Liam Hemsworth (as Gale Hawthorne) is looking a lot more like his brother Chris (Thor in The Avengers and People’s 2014 Sexiest Man Alive), but he still needs to step up as Gale. I loved Gale in the book, and I haven’t really met that Gale on the big screen. The “kiss” scenes both in the second and third movies were merely just glimpses.

But really, watching Mockingjay Part 1 is... bitin. I have no other words for it. It’s great and all, but since the book is split into two movies, the pace of the book was somewhat lost. I know the buzz and momentum will increase once again when the Part 2 trailers, teasers and shiz start showing up, but the whole experience of the whole book is now out the window. Then again, I understand while some books need to be split (because details, I know!), it’s a real toss-up. I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just because of the money.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 just a 7 for me. Suzanne Collins’ dystopian world and everything in it (the tension, the emotions, the rage, etc.) is all there, but it will leave you wanting for more.

P.S. I still have “The Hanging Tree” song in my head.

Why does it look like the Lord of the Rings font?

Sue Denim still has issues with online anonymity.

Follow Da Couch Tomato on Twitter and Google+.
What a waste of food.

Following the tradition of Pixar shorts preceding a feature presentation, Disney comes out with Feast. It's a story about a carnivorous man and his carnivorous dog─a win-win situation for both of them. That is until a herbivorous (okay, vegetarian) woman enters their lives, The dog doesn't like it, of course, and when the couple break up, master and mutt go back to their binging. The dog is more than happy to resume an all-meat diet, but the master is not, returning to meat more out of depression than dependence. And he finds out how far his dog will go for him, proving that a dog is indeed a man's best friend.

Feast is the accompanying short to Disney's Big Hero 6. Like its predecessors from Pixar, there is also no dialogue, which I think is the standard for animated shorts for both companies. This allows the animators to practise animating body movements and facial expressions instead of worrying how the mouth and lips should open when speaking a certain sentence. And they'll be needing all the practise they can get, as these shorts are the training ground for future directors of full-length features.

If you can, watch this in 3D. The original wireframe animation was done with computers but then rotoscoped with traditional hand-drawn animation. The result: a 2D cartoon that pops out like 3D. Actually, I only saw the 2D version, not the 3D one. But I could tell, because I am a big fan of animation and 3D.

And food.

Follow Sting Lacson on Twitter. But follow Da Couch Tomato first.

Follow Da Couch Tomato on Google +.
"I'm scanning you for anything that might infringe on existing superhero franchises."

As the follow-up animated feature to last year's phenomenal Frozen, Disney has made sure to give us something very different from its "fairy tale princess" template. Thus we have 2014's Big Hero 6, a colourful spectacle of a superhero flick, loosely based on the Marvel comic of the same title.

Is it an awesome film? Yes, it is, by Disney standards. Its themes reach out across all age groups, making it a film the whole family can enjoy. Is it groundbreaking? Maybe. Probably in its methods of animation. I don't know. But is it fresh? Definitely not. Because Big Hero 6 is nothing more than a modern animated version of the Japanese Super Sentai genre, as evidenced by:

1. Fusion of East and West
The Super Sentai genre originated in Japan, but it couldn't have successfully crossed over to the other side of the Pacific without retaining its predominantly Japanese core elements. In order to make it appeal more to American audiences, there inevitably had to be a fusion of East and West. Hence the portmanteau "San Fransokyo", one of the more obvious clues, as well as the character and set designs, such as the city's bridge looking like the Golden Gate with unmistakeable Japanese arches.

2. Team Roster
As demonstrated in this film, the composition of Super Sentais almost always follow a specific formula, such as

  • A five-member roster, popular examples of which are Voltes V, Bioman, Voltron, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and Captain Planet (yes, I would argue that Captain Planet qualifies as Super Sentai);
  • A group composition of three (3) males and two (2) females, popular examples of which are the ones mentioned above, with the exception of Voltes V and Voltron, which have only one hot, kick-ass female on the team.

3. Team Composition
The team members are almost always made up of:

  • 1 Cool guy - Usually the leader of the team. In this film, Fred (TJ Miller) is the cool guy, but he serves as the film's comic relief instead of the leader.
  • 1 Little guy - Usually the brainiest in the group. In this film, the little guy is Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who serves as both the brains and the leader of the group.
  • 1 Hulk - Usually the biggest and the strongest in the group. In this film, it's Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.).
  • 1 Tomboyish Girl - Usually the less prettier of the two girls. In this film, it's GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), though I find her more attractive than the other girl in the group. In a cartoon-y kind of way, of course.
  • 1 Ethnic Minority Girl - Usually the less dominant of the two. In this film, it's Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez). Though she may stand physically taller, it's GoGo who has the stronger character. Honey Lemon's ethnic background is emphasised by the annoying way she says "Hiro" with a Latina accent.

Not on this list: One (1) robot, who is either the team's assistant, or the team's mecha fighting machine. In this film, it's Baymax (Scott Adsit), who performs a little of both roles as the team's medic and as Hiro's flying fighter robot.

In this scenario, Captain Planet would be the robot.

4. Character Names
Despite speaking in American West Coast accents, the characters of Big Hero 6 have unmistakeable Japanese origins. The brothers Hiro and Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney), GoGo Tomago, and even the dreadlocked Wasabi all have Japanese-sounding names. I think even the robot Baymax was named after the Betamax, the Japanese counterpart of the West's VHS.

5. Colours... Lots of It
The Super Sentai genre makes liberal use of colours, primarily to differentiate between team members who fight in identical costumes. Although the characters in this film are distinguishable from one another even in full battle gear, the art department made sure to use an extensive palette in the character designs, because let's face it–nobody wants to see a monochromatic Super Sentai flick. Colour is encoded into the Super Sentai DNA. That's just the way it is.

6. Character Secret Identities
The fact that they fight evil as a team puts them on the same level as a superhero group. Since they live normal lives as university geeks, then that means their Super Sentai personas must be separate from their real world alter-egos. Even the villain in the kabuki mask hid his face. The whole world of Super Sentai revolves around secrecy, which necessitates the need for costumes, masks, and helmets.

There are some who insist that Big Hero 6 will be a standalone film, but this film ended with so much breathing room, and Disney has a habit of bleeding franchises dry (hello, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lion King) that it's quite possible that they might throw in a sequel. And if you've stayed after the entire end credits sequence, you'll know what to expect.

A sequel? Yes, please.

If given the chance, watch this film in 3D. I only got to watch the 2D version, but I'm thinking of seeing it again, if only for the preceding short Feast, which I'm pretty sure looks awesome in 3D.

Big Hero 6. USA. 2014.

Original rating: 7.5 / 10
Character design: + 0.1
Set design: + 0.1
Alan Tudyk voicing another villain: + 0.2
Aunt Cass: + 0.15
Dramatic moments: + 0.1
Final rating: 8.15 / 10

Follow Sting Lacson on Twitter. But follow Da Couch Tomato first.

Follow Da Couch Tomato on Google +.
Premium Blogspot Templates
Copyright © 2012 Da Couch Tomato