Saturday, April 14, 2018

Brad Peyton follows Roland Emmerich's footsteps in 'Rampage'

Warner Bros. Phils
Disaster films are my thing. That's why one of my favorite directors is Roland Emmerich. He directed some of my fave films like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. These are movies for pleasure that I'm sure a lot of people go to the movies for this kind of flick. Brad Peyton is starting to follow Emmerich's footsteps with his back-to-back disaster films, and as always, it shuts down your brain and makes you want to grab some more of your pop corn for entertainment. It's that kind of movie.


Peyton reunites with his San Andreas lead Dwayne Johnson in Rampage, an over-the-top movie about monstrous animals destroying the city of Chicago. Run of the mill premise but the execution is pretty over-the-top. Everything you expect in a monster vs monster movie is here, and then some. There's a flying giant wolf for crying out loud. Yes, it has wings and it literally flies. Then there's this Godzilla-like giant crocodile against an albino version of Kingkong. It's basically a preview of Kong vs Godzilla.

Malin Akerman in Rampage, Warner Bros.Phils
It's a wild ride for sure, and it's almost like a video game movie. Plus, it has a comedic duo of villains in Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy, which to be honest, is kind of surprising that they took on their roles that are close to being buffoons. It sure as hell looked like they embraced it though, and that's how you do it when you sign yourself up in a movie like this. Same with the Oscar nominated Naomie Harris. She's there for the comedy of it all.

Rampage is an entertaining movie for sure, that is almost doesn't mind the stakes of the concept. It literally destroyed Chicago but all they care about is defeating the monstrous animals, and when they did, grins are all over their faces like nothing happened. Their not even apologetic. It just knows it's there to entertain, and doesn't want you to further contemplate of its logic. How they included the relationship of human to animals is pretty commendable though but when you ponder upon it, which you shouldn't, it's still feel a bit wacky.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

'A Quiet Place' is a firecracker of a film

There seems to be an ongoing rebirth of the horror genre. And most that work with the audience are those with either social commentaries like STD in It Follows or racism in Get Out, or family drama like The Babadook, Insidious and The Conjuring. These clicked with both critics and viewers because of these extra ingredient that they bring to the table.

John Krasinski has added another flick in this growing list of good horrors, and it is one that also tackles family, and yes, unconditional love.

Photo Credit: United International Pictures
A Quiet Place is a film about a family who must find survival after a monster apocalypse hit their hometown in upstate New York. These monsters are blind, and they only attack when one makes a sound. Thus its tagline, 'Stay Silent, Stay Alive'.

It's a really simple premise and yet it’s one of the most stressful time I’ve had inside the theater. But a good kind of stress that I always enjoy when watching movies especially horror. This is the same feeling I had when I watched Drag Me To Hell, Insidious, which are some of my favorites even to this day. I predict A Quiet Place will also be one of them.

Krasinski visualized a post-apocalyptic drama that’s intriguing despite giving lots of answers from the get go. At the beginning, we learned of a family in danger from these monsters but we were also briefed of a possible complicated family dynamic. So there’s the creature, and there’s family drama, and Krasinski mixed that up with a good terrorizing formula. This is a true standout from the rest as however stressful this may be, its theme of love for family may even be stronger than its scare tactics.

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt's action duo is gorgeous to watch. Their family heroics are well-established. Krasinski turns out to be a triple threat of an artist, for how good his performance is in this film, his direction is also a skill to be watched-out for. Blunt is a standout. With a very few speaking dialogues, she makes it up with her tremendous expressive emotions. Millicent Simmonds, who had her breakout in Wonderstruck & Noah Jupe of 2017's Wonder and Suburbicon are also proving to be some of the finest of their generations, taking on roles that compels expressive fear and soul.

A Quiet Place is indeed quiet but it’s a firecracker of a film. Watch this with your friends and family as it will surely bring you stress and entertainment. The ending, without giving much, is also wickedly bad-ass.

Monday, March 26, 2018

'Ready Player One' is a visual smorgasbord

Not a long time ago, Steven Spielberg directed one of the best movies of 2017 with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post. Just a few month after, he's still proven and tested as one of the busiest yet most enthusiastic director of our time. Still with so much energy and creativity in his sleeves, Steven Spielberg directs the action adventure Ready Player One based on Ernest Cline's bestseller of the same name, and let me be direct, it's an absolute epic.

It's about the future in year 2045, when most of mankind spend their lives in a virtual reality called OASIS, created and designed by the eccentric genius James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who will grant his creation to whoever gets the three keys to a Golden Egg hidden inside the OASIS universe. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is obsessed with Halliday and his game and along with his friends, they help each other to fulfill this quest.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
In his almost 40 years of film-making, Spielberg has never been this dynamic with his direction. He's still the best storyteller of our time, and his Ready Player One proves that he's still got the chops that made him celebrated. The CGI used here is extraordinary, that wows and whoas can be heard throughout the film. People can't help it. The liveliness of this film is the same as his old blockbusters. This crowdpleaser is just an addition to his amazing filmography. It doesn't hurt that it's raining easter eggs throughout the film that we might as well call it a visual smorgasbord of pop culture. Genuinely, it feels like an ode to pop culture, video games and video game lovers for that matter--particularly, every scene with Mark Rylance in it. Rylance makes everything tender and light. His humor and natural charm is one of the film's power, and he's not even on screen most of the time and yet he is the heart that makes this more than a visional treat.

On the other hand, Rylance's James Halliday may be the heart, but Ready Player One works as a film with the ensemble's natural magnetism. Tye Sheridan, who I consider as the male JLaw (I know, lol), delivers a firm sense of soul to Cline's beloved lead character Wade Watts. Olivia Cooke, who is a young Rose Byrne (that's defnitely a compliment) in my mind, is undeniably likable as Art3mis. She's come a long way from her Bates Motel stint, to 'Dying Girl' to here, and she has Thoroughbreds under her belt, which is supposed to be good based on the buzz from the movie grapevines. Ben Mendelsohn, on the other hand, is becoming every directors' dream villain, may it be indie or a blockbuster. Other cast includes a likable Lena Waithe as Wade Watts' best friend, Simon Pegg as the curator, Phillip Zhao as Sho and Win Morisako as Daito. Overall, a vivacious bunch of actors and characters.

I watched this film with friends who read the book, and they might be a bit disappointed as Spielberg made it very distinct from the novel. But it's still a highly enjoyable film overall. It might not be as sentimental as Spielberg's other crowd-pleaser but its use of nostalgia will make your viewing experience a memorable one. Watch out for the awesome soundtrack!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

'A Wrinkle in Time' Brims with Colors, Creatures and Lessons

Ava DuVernay, visionary director of Selma and 13th adapts Madeleine L'Engle's classic 'A Wrinkle in Time'. It's a colorful adventure that transports viewers across different dimensions, good and bad.

Meg Murry (Storm Reid) along with her family, is struggling to move on after her father Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine) vanished while doing his experiment in discovering other dimensions. One day, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) introduced otherworldly creatures to bring news about their father's whereabouts. Twist? He's lightyears away from Earth.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
A Wrinkle in Time brims with spectacular colors, mythical personalities and moral lessons. An out-of-this-world visual feast, 'youngings' (and young-at-heart) would certainly enjoy the variety of colors displayed in DuVernay's dimensions. The otherworldly creatures bring the wisdom and most definitely the fun needed in this film. Oprah's 'Mrs. Which', Reese Witherspoon's 'Mrs. Whatsit' and Mindy Kaling's 'Mrs. Who' are definitely the MVPs of this children's film. Oprah is even more regal than her real life persona, Witherspoon delivers the wits and snarks as she reminds the viewers of other Helena Bonham-Carter's character portrayals, and Mindy Kaling is as pleasant as ever.  The film would suffer without them as the leads are not the most exciting element of the film. Save for Deric McCabe who's a promising young actor whose character is so complex, we don't often see it being portrayed by kids.

I'm afraid this movie adaptation wouldn't be as timeless as the novel. There are certain plot holes, and DuVernay's vision doesn't mesh well with the usual Disney tropes. Brighter side is, it definitely carries the good message and the emotional pulse it wants to evoke.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

'Game Night' is a One Big, Fun Murder Mystery Night

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

What a fun time at the movies! Game Night has everything a game night fan would ask for in a game night movie. Jenga is present, charades, trivia night, a Donald Trump roast, an awesome one-take egg chase hunt in a mansion, a breakout room, a fight club, gore, running jokes, a Denzel Washingtom cameo, and a stunt inspired by a Liam Neeson action scene involving a car and an airplane. As expected, they kicked it up the notch.

It started with a montage of Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie's (Rachel McAdams) love story and how they met, which of course, involved a game night. Along came Kyle Chandler as Jason Bateman’s brother, who prepared a one of a kind murder mystery which ended in a punch line after a series of punch lines.

One could call it a bit predictable but nevertheless, it’s loads of fun. Rachel McAdams makes everything adorable, and Jason Bateman is always a dependable nice guy lead. They make a cute couple and in here, they’re also extra competitive which makes them even more fun to watch. A great ensemble to boot. Jesse Plemons and Billy Magnussen are hilarious. It also has a solid soundtrack which includes Quando, Quando, Quando, We are the Champions, and Third Eye Blind's Semi Charmed Life delightfully lip-sync'd by McAdams in a terrific bar scene.

Game Night is a one big, fun murder mystery night, filled with back and forth punch lines and elevated by McAdams and Bateman’s charm. It’s thoroughly likable and guaranteed to bring the fun.