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The Top 11 12 of 2011

And 2011 comes to a close. We now reach the much-awaited year of the Mayan calendar when the Himalayas will drown in a great wave and the earth will be repopulated with the sperm of John Cusack.

Anyway, I would like to apologize to Philippine Cinema for not patronizing you too much this year. I didn't have too much money to spend on movies, and when I did, I went for the 3D films. I'm sorry, really. I hope to watch more Filipino movies in 2012. Which is why I am hoping my friend Cris will get to work on that MTRCB deputy card. I designed her wedding invitation in exchange for this, and I really hope she honors our arrangement. Okay, let me be more blatant: Cris, if you're reading this, where's my MTRCB deputy card? Philippine Cinema needs our reviews.

Okay, so the films in this list were chosen for their rating. For films with multiple reviews, the mean average rating is considered. And that is why I keep reminding my co-writers on this blog to include a rating, if only for the sake of the year-end Top 12.

I would have wanted to do a Top 11 for 2011, just so it rhymes. But there were actually 7 films tied for the bottom slot, which would make it 14 films total. So I decided to just drop two films and end up with a Top 12 list, as always. So to find out which films would be cut, I consulted Rotten Tomatoes (no relation, despite us both having the word "tomato") and used their tomato-meter to rank these films. I ended up dropping 30: Minutes or Less and Cowboys & Aliens, much as I wanted to include the latter for its homegrown Filipino cinematographer, Mr. Matthew Libatique.

Again, this list is limited to 1) films reviewed on this blog; and 2) films released locally and internationally this year. Great films such as The Help are sadly excluded, because although it was released in the States in 2011, it will only hit Philippine theaters next year. And yes, we do condone file sharing.

Before we begin, let me remind you that the title links back to the original review. All rightey then, let's begin with...

(Five-way tie)

"Not that way, Fassbender!"

People who love shipping straight men will have a field day here, shipping the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr until you throw up from bromance overdose. But the real life BAMF here is Azazel, who is Nightcrawler's father. Why? Because when he teleports, he goes "bamf!" Get it? Okay, people who never read the comic books won't get that one.


Doctor Who. "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe"

Best. Tree. Ever.

From the title alone, you already know that this is an allusion to C.S. Lewis. But I really don't know why they chose The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to represent Christmas. It's got to be more than just the snow.

That little kid has pretty poor eyesight, with lenses like that. And the little sister, played by Holly Earl, is kind of pretty. Even her name is Christmas-y. ♪ Deck the halls with boughs of holly ♫

Like a younger and prettier Helena Bonham Carter.

Now you might have noticed that everytime I review a work penned by Steven Moffat, I kind of always gush like a fanboy. That's because Moffat's stories are always brilliant. This is the second Doctor Who Christmas special that I've seen, and this is also the second one that made me cry. So that's two for two. Brilliant.

I was a bit disheartened when the opening credits flashed and I didn't see the names of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. But it's Christmas, and Steven Moffat knows this. And here is his gift to me:

"It's Christmas, you moron."

*some info from Wikipedia

You also might want to check out the reviews for Doctor Who Series 1, Series 2Series 4Series 5, and Series 6.



When you have a two-character narrative, and you pit them against each other, who will win? The more interesting character, or the one with the better story arc?

The one with the bigger fan base.

The more interesting character I'm talking about here is Tom Hardy, who plays Tommy, the ex-Marine who "ripped off the doors of a tank". Literally.

Anyone who punches that fast can surely
rip off the doors of a tank.


DJ Earworm. United State of Pop 2011: "World Go Boom"

Listening to DJ Earworm's annual mash-up has become a tradition since 2009. Without further ado, here is the product of a whole year's worth of pop music.

I'm pretty sure that was Andrew Garfield in one of the shots. Now what in heaven's name is he doing there?

*video from DJ Earworm on YouTube

You may also want to check out DJ Earworm's mash-ups for 2009 and 2010



This is another one of those films which I watched without having any idea about it whatsoever. Any preliminary impressions I might have had came from the title alone.

This film was also produced by Image Nation, which is a company based in Abu Dhabi. So I believe we can expect Arab wealth to find its way into Hollywood in the near future.

So anyway, my first thought was, "Contagion? Sounds like some sort of virus. Maybe it's a zombie movie or something." Because that's typically how zombie movies start. There's some sort of killer virus in the beginning, then it begins to mutate and spread, then brat-tat-tat-tat, you get machine gun fire, then blood and gore, and before you know it, it's a full-blown zombie apocalypse.

But not this film.

Yes, this one's about a virus, and a killer virus at that. Except this one centers on the human drama. Well, not just centers, but more of focuses entirely on the human drama. What happens when a killer virus strikes? How does humanity react? And this chronicles humanity's reaction on all levels. The plot absolutely does not take a zombie apocalypse direction.

What makes this film work as a drama is the extremely talented ensemble. This is like a Dream Team for the acting department. Here are the starters (in alphabetical order), who all have Acadamy Award trophies which they can use to bash your head in.

Marion Cotillard
She is so beautiful, she looks great
in any hairstyle.

Matt Damon
(who by the way does not have an acting Oscar)
"I don't care."

Gwyneth Paltrow

Kate Winslet

Next we have two reserves, who have no Oscar trophies, but who have been nominated at some point in their lives.

Laurence Fishburne
Morpheus can whoop your ass
while drinking coffee.

Jude Law
"I was nominted twice."

By the time the film ended, which was when everyone had the cure injected up their nasal cavity, I thought "Well, this is a pretty decent film. It's quite good, actually." And then the end credits flash.

Okay. That explains everything.

And on a final note: Jennifer Ehle has a very pretty face.

"I know, right?"

Contagion. USA/UAE. 2011.

Rating: Seven point nine out of ten.

*some info from IMDb


Terra Nova. Episode 10: "Within"

This episode is basically just a set-up for the next one. They found out who the spy was. It’s Bucket. Sorry, it’s Skye. Her nickname's actually Bucket, and I think it would be better if we had a bucket over her head the entire season.

"Duh, I'm the prettiest girl here."

There is, however, a cute girl in the hospital.

"I mean, why use my beauty toward
the end of the season?"

Bottom line is, Lucas has finished his equations.

Complete nonsense.

And now the portal can go both ways. Like I said, it’s just pretty much a set-up for the next episode.

And you all know what's coming.

*some info from Wikipedia


Raiders of the Lost Ark

If you've seen The Adventures of Tintin by Steven Spielberg, you've probably already heard of the story of how he acquired the rights to redo the Tintin books on film. Since the anecdote would require effort on my part to paraphrase, let me just lift it directly from Wikipedia:

Spielberg has been an avid fan of The Adventures of Tintin comic books, which he discovered in 1981 when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. His secretary bought him French-language editions of each book, but Spielberg did not have to understand them: he immediately fell in love with its art.

This then renewed my interest in the Indiana Jones films, which I've loved ever since I was a kid. In fact, at one point in my life, I wanted to be an archaeologist, especially after The Last Crusade and Jurassic Park. That's another Spielberg film. It might be safe to say that half of my childhood fantasies were directly or indirectly influenced by Steven Spielberg.

Anyway, this review will try and see what it was about Raiders which prompted the French to cry "rip-off!"


Mission: Impossible─Ghost Protocol

Since this was released on my birthay, this now becomes my new nickname. GP. Ghost Protocol. Get it? Geddit?

Whatever. Anyway, this is Brad Bird's live action directorial debut. If you dismissed him as a director of children's films, think again. This guy did The Incredibles, so he knows a thing or two about action sequences. And this film is proof of that. Good call also for choosing to shoot some scenes in IMAX, like The Dark Knight. This becomes evident from the opening shot of Budapest, showing the crispness and clarity of the images. Clearly, IMAX is the HD of film.

Trust me, this looks damn good in IMAX.

Now let us analyze the IMF team. Or rather, the Ghost Protocol team. That's because IMF is no more. It has been disavowed in its entirety. (I've loved the word "disavowed" ever since the first Mission: Impossible film.)

Being disavowed never looked this cool.

Ethan Hunt: Tom Cruise is growing old. Of course, by himself, you'd think he's still the eternally youthful Maverick from Top Gun. But side-by-side with Jeremy Renner, you can clearly see the difference. I think they put Renner in this flick so he can continue the franchise in case Cruise decides to choose not to accept any more missions.


William Brandt: This is Jeremy Renner's M:I debut, but from what I heard, he'll be taking over the Bourne franchise. Will it present a conflict of interest for him, being Hollywood's action go-to guy? Will it put pressure on his career?

"What pressure?"

Jane Carter: Paula Patton is maybe the hottest IMF girl since Maggie Q. She kind of looks like Alicia Keys with higher cheekbones. And she can kick ass.

Benji Dunn: Simon Pegg returns from the previous M:I flick, and here he is promoted to field agent. The thing with Pegg is that the audience knows he's there for comic relief, yet somehow he might disappoint some fans who are expecting some slapstick sidekick action. Benji Dunn is a serious field agent with some funny moments, not a funny field agent with serious moments. Nice to know the difference.

"Well, this review says I'm more than comic relief, Cruise."

This film brings us back to the true roots of Mission: Impossible. My favorite film is still the first one, directed by Brian De Palma, because it captures the world of intrigue and espionage that differentiates M:I from, say, the world of James Bond. And we have a lot of great action sequences here, especially the Kremlin sequence,

Where it goes kaboom.

showing us some of the brilliant gadgets the IMF has,

And the product placements from Apple.

and also showing us that Ethan Hunt doesn't need any facial masks to be called a master of disguise. In fact, Hunt doesn't put on any masks for this flick. That task is left to Michael Nyqvist, who is enjoying a successful Hollywood crossover after his Swedish Millenium films. Good job, Nyqvist's agent.

And since we're on the subject of the supporting cast, I'd just like to say that LĂ©a Seydoux (who plays the assassin Sabine Moreau) is cute, and Anil Kapoor's acting (which I loved since Slumdog Millionaire) was perfect. Too bad though that Tom Wilkinson died before he even got out of the car.

Mission: Impossible─Ghost Protocol. USA. 2011.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia



The golden rule is: Thou shalt not judge a movie by its trailer.

Even if the trailers have explosions like this.

From the trailer of this film, you might expect it to be like 300, because it said that this was from the producers of 300. But a film is not the creation of the producers. It is merely a production by the producers (hence the root word "produce"), but it is the creation of the entire collaborative effort under the guidance of the director. And this film was directed by Tarsem Singh, not Zack Snyder, so it's nothing like 300 at all.

The look was great. What Singh wanted was for it to be an action film using Renaissance painting styles. Well, it kind of works here:

And maybe also here:

But that's basically it.

Although it works as an action film, don't get me wrong. The fight scenes were spectacular.

"Take that, 300!"

They even had the typical war speech before they started bashing heads in.

Stephen Dorff looking like Kiefer Sutherland.

So what I'm actually saying is that this film has no problems visually. It's the storytelling that makes it fail. The pacing is too slow, and there is no smooth flow from one scene to the next.

Henry Cavill doesn't show much promise in the acting department. Well, how many good actors have played Superman lately? Exactly.

Henry Cavill's acting moment:
Pretending to have an arrow.

Stephen Dorff showed more acting chops here than both Cavill and Freida Pinto combined. Although they did show Pinto's ass, which is a big career boost for her. Now she'll be able to land more roles showing off that cute Indian butt of hers.

"I'm more than just a cute butt!"

Isabel Lucas is really hot, yet no ass exposure, so... too bad for her. But the performances were salvaged by Mickey Rourke, who spoke in almost-incoherent grumbling all throughout, and maybe John Hurt's short-lived role as the old man. Quite unrealistic, though, is the fact that Theseus called him "old man" despite claiming to have known him since childhood. Really now.

One last thing: the casting wasn't so great either. For the role of Zeus, they cast Luke Evans, who kind of looked like an older Orlando Bloom. Zeus is supposed to be the alpha-god, but it just doesn't work with Mr. Evans here. Sorry. You may be a good actor, but you got cast in the wrong role.

Also, you have a dorky whip.

Immortals. USA. 2011.

Rating: Five out of ten.

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia


Boardwalk Empire. Season 2, Episode 12: "To the Lost"

And thus ends the second season of Boardwalk Empire. Margaret Schroeder marries Nucky Thompson so she doesn't have to testify against him.

The Emperor and the Gold Digger.

The accusations against Nucky are recanted. At gunpoint.

This is how a suicide in Atlantic City looks like.

Nucky's case is dismissed without prejudice. And then he reclaims the Boardwalk.

Now there is a reason why it is Steve Buscemi's character in the opening credits. It's because Nucky Thomspon IS Atlantic City. Jimmy Darmody is a nobody.

And on that note, Michael Pitt is a mediocre actor. And that's why he had to go.

Look at Buscemi's shoulder action.
Great acting right there.

I now have a new favorite HBO director. His name is Tim Van Patten.

*some info from IMDb


New Girl. Episode 9: "The 23rd"

Only Schmidt can get this kind of reaction from everyone.

Candy Cane Corner and Sexy/Dirty Santa + a breakup (or two) = Laugh-out-loud and "a-dork-ward-ly" lines. Add a bit of this little guy on top and—okay, fine—his very-pregnant mom (a.k.a. Schmidt's boss) and the episode just overdosed on cute.

He reminds me of the Jerry McGuire kid.

And there's more icing on the cake—this one just warms your heart for the holidays.

She and Him singing in the background seals the deal.

P.S. My holiday wish for New Girl is...

...that the Douchebag Jar (bottom left) gets its rightful spotlight next year.

•screencaps courtesy of VLC, except for the third photo which I got from Tumblr.


Coming Soon: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Nice touch on using "Seven Nation Army".

There's Zartan, but no Zarana. Anyway, Lady Jay + Jinx = Hotness explosion. Yo Joe.

*some info from IMDb
video from Machinima at YouTube


Boardwalk Empire. Season 2, Episode 11: "Under God's Power She Flourishes"

Although I did enjoy the flahsback, especially seeing a long-haired Aleksa Palladino again, as well as the dorky-haired Princeton Jimmy Darmody, I don't really know how it ties in to the story. This is the first time this show has used flashbacks this extensively.

Finally, that hypocrite Nelson Van Alden is finally brought to justice. Unfortunately, he flees.

Flight of the fugitive.

But the most disturbing thing from this episode would have to be Oedipal scene between Jimmy and his hot mother Gretchen Mol. But it's really... eeewww.

Incest at its worst. Or best. Whatever.

*some info from IMDb


New Girl. Episode 8: "Bad in Bed"

New Girl and Mac Guy S&M Porn Teaser Trailer.

Again with a new opening sequence—a new cut this time. This might be the better choice. Just make up your mind, guys.

This show tackle sex in the same manner it does all other things like romance and roommates...

...and baby showers, I guess.

I think the ideal sex episode should be a balance of the adorkable (Jess), the supermodel (Cece), the real (Nick), the over-achiever (Winston) , and the flair (Schmidt). I think it focuses too much on the adorkable. But she is the star of the show, so.

It should've been alright, I guess—without that line!
This is a crappy-shit haircut, Nick. Seriously.

*screencaps courtesy of VLC


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