Ladder 49 (2004)

PG-13  | 115 mins  | Action, Drama | October 1, 2004 (USA)

Director: Jay Russell
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, and Jacinda Barrett

Gets me everytime. Firefighters are definitely unsung heroes.

RATING: 9/10


Praybeyt Benjamin

Filipino, Comedy | Release Date:  October 26, 2011 (Philippines)

Director: Wenn V. Deramas
Starring: Vice Ganda, Jimmy Santos, Eddie Garcia, Derek Ramsay, Nikki Valdez, Kean Cipriano, DJ Durano, Vandolph Quizon, Carlos Agassi, Dennis Padilla

Isa itong komedya tungkol sa isang bakla na nagkunwaring lalaki upang gampanan ang pagiging sundalo. Like La Pacita Assorted Biscuits na kadalasang hinahanda sa mga lamay, Praybeyt Benjamin is an assortment. It's a mix of Mulan (yung chekwang cartoon character), Private Benjamin (Goldie Hawn), Mary Poppins, and a Maricel Soriano or Roderick Paulate comedy.

Vice Ganda plays Benjamin "Benjie" Santos VIII.  Ang mga Benjamin ng Santos clan ay traditionally nagiging mga sundalo, matipuno, lalaking-lalaki.


Suntok ang inabot ni Benjie ng malaman ni lolo (Eddie Garcia) na binabae pala ang apo nya. Ayun, itinakwil ang buong pamilya niya. When a terrorist group took the entire country hostage, napilitan ang army mag-recruit. Nagpalista si Benjie para akuin ang posisyon ng tumatandang ama (Jimmy Santos), at dahil na rin gusto nyang sagipin ang lolo niya who was taken hostage by the terrorists. Sa camp, na-inlab siya kay Brandon (Derek Ramsay), at tuluyan nang nagladlad ng tunay na katauhan. Naging lider din sa camp si Benjie ng isang maliit na grupo ng mga losers turned national heroes, sa tulong na rin ng kanyang kabaklaan at mga gadget ng scientist na tatay.

"Ay kabayo!"
"Brownout?" tanong ni kapatid.
"Hindi, sunrise."

Sarcasm and competent support actors, 'yan ang kargang bala ng pelikulang 'to. Si Jimmy Santos bilang ama ni Benjie, si Abby Bautista na gumanap na batang kapatid ay ilan lang sa mga tumatak sa ating lahat.

"Pag bakla, salot agad?"
"Hindi ba pwedeng malas muna?" sambit ng batang matabil.

May mga bentang scenes din, tulad nung pagkikita nina Benjie at ang kanyang pamilya for the first time mula ng mag-training siya sa pagsusundalo. Ang setting: merong glass window sa pagitan ng dalawang kwarto -- nasa magkabilang silid si Benjie at kanyang pamilya; nag-emote sina Benjie at mga magulang nito through the glass; damang-dama mong nasasaktan sila sa partition na namamagitan sa kanila; nag-iyakan, pilit nilang maging kontento na lamang na hanggang hawak sa malamig na salamin na lang ang magagawa nila... At nang biglang nagbukas ng pintuan sa side ang kapatid na babae ni Benjie.

Mapapamura ka habang tumatawa. T@%* i*a! May pintuan pala!

The 1 hour and 50mins Praybeyt Benjamin had good moments, but it lacked focus. The story was all over the place, ang script ay hindi ganun kalalim. But it worked OK dahil sa delivery ng actors. There were hopeless antics, but Vice Ganda made it look promising. Let's face it, kung hindi si Vice Ganda ang bida, malamang flop ang movie. Nobody could deliver those lines like he did. May cameo pang lumabas sa dulo na mage-gets lang if you’ve seen the film it was referring to.

Masarap talagang manood kung sinasabayan ka din ng crowd sa emosyon mo -- anlulutong ng halakhak ng mga kasabayan kong nanood sa sinehan. Sumakit ang ulo at tyan ko sa kakatawa sa pelikulang ito. At mukhang hindi lang ako, because Praybeyt Benjamin is now the Highest Grossing Filipino Film of all time, and is also the first Filipino movie that reached Php300 million mark.

RATING: 6/10 (pero mamamatay ka sa kakatawa)


X-Men: First Class

PG-13 | 132 mins | Action, Sci-fi, Adventure | June 3, 2011

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult

This prequel was a big gamble for Marvel. It's dangerous business to redo a well-known franchise such as the X-Men, presenting it contrary to conventional comic-book-inspired flicks -- with new actors, a different backdrop; less special effects, more dramatics. Risky, but Marvel should be proud of the decision, because it's worth it.

Eleven years ago, the X-Men film series was launched. I hated how Cyclops' character was played down in the trilogy, and was eventually killed, but I realize it's all Hollywood business. Because James Marsden puzzlingly decided to ditch the movie franchise in favor of a mediocre part in Superman Returns, produced by a competitor studio (but also directed by Bryan Singer), without a doubt 20th Century Fox and Marvel Pictures was not at all pleased with the actor who played Cyclops. So they prematurely killed the character to get back at him, to wipe out any future movie contracts with him to portray Cyclops. But that wasn't really my point. With the X-Men actors' starmeter rankings soaring along with their talent fees, 20th Century Fox couldn't afford to have Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry in another film together. So they decided to hit replay -- enter X-Men: First Class.

The first half lazily unwrapped the lives of Erik Lehnsherr (who will be Magneto) and Charles Xavier (Professor X), the dull intro counterbalanced by stellar performances of the lead actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the younger counterparts of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen's characters. While the young Erik is in a Nazi concentration camp unconsciously demonstrating his magnetic abilities, fortunate Charles Xavier meets little Mystique, a blue-skinned shape-shifter, at home. Then it swings to the early 60s, with Erik hunting a German genetic scientist turned topnotch evildoer apparently seeking revenge for his Nazi torture many years ago. Prof. X, on the other hand, finally becomes an Oxford professor.

McAvoy is convincing as a telepath, projecting the extraordinary sensitivity that the role demanded. And he could well qualify as a stud with his brainy pick up line. "Heterochromia is in reference to your eyes, which I have to say are stunning. One green, one blue. It's a mutation. It's a very groovy mutation..." Fassbender wisely portrayed a younger and emotionally complex Magneto, brimming with rage. The rest of the cast were passable; Kevin Bacon as the resident baddie Sebastian Shaw couldn't be more stiff, he could use some lessons from Jack Sparrow, maybe teach him how to be an effective mischief with a drunken gait.

The story develops to Professor X recruiting a group of teenagers with mutant abilities to battle for the U.S. government -- Banshee, Havok, Angel, Darwin. They would later battle against larger-than-life nasty, Sebastian Shaw. The movie also explains how Hank McCoy transforms to Beast, Mystique's love interest. Director Matthew Vaughn bribed us with a remarkable warfare, in operatic proportions. Magneto dangling from the Blackbird lifting a submarine was epic. You'd twitch at Professor X stretching his abilities to telepathically communicate with Magneto.

X-Men: First Class nicely fused real life events and fictitious mutant heroes, from Poland during World War II to the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

I still couldn't understand why Havok instead of Cyclops made it to the First Class, which if I do the math, with Prof. X and Magneto young as they are in the film, would make him older than (big) brother Scott a.k.a. Cyclops. (I guess, James Marsden and Fox still isn't in good terms.) Anyway, it's no secret most people in Hollywood are far more interested in making money than being faithful to the source material. At least some fans will be satisfied to see Nightcrawler's red daddy, Azazel!

Even with its flaws, X-Men: First Class is a valuable boot up of the comicbook legacy that is the X-Men.

RATING: 8.5/10


The dreaded first blog post.

Watching movies is my stimuli. I have a masochistic desire to let flicks provoke my interest, enthusiasm, or excitement. I get inspired by the real and fictional events that's projected onto the screen.

Then I'd always have something to say later.

Now, I've grown tired of keeping my precious thoughts to myself. I've become lonely at discussing solo my magnificent impressions. I've realized the bizarreness of examining and disputing the screenwriter and director's work then talking to myself about it.

Hence, this movie review blog!


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