Friday, April 28, 2006

SILENT HILL


SILENT HILL is NOISY with NIGHTMARE GRANDIOSE
By Reymundo Salao

Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her child Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) traveled to a mysterious town known as Silent Hill, thinking they can have answers to Sharon’s sleepwalking nightmares. But everybody knows that nobody should go to that town which is said to be an abandoned ghost town cut off from remembrance. Once in Silent Hill, Sharon got lost. And Rose starts a relentless search for Sharon in this nightmarish town of mist and ash fall that now and then falls in and out of a dark creepy alternate state where hellish creatures roam and search for killing prey. She is later joined by a local police officer (Laurie Holden) and they unravel the secrets of the town that is haunted by not only demonic monsters but also of far more evil forces as well.

SILENT HILL is based on the Konami video game with the same title. The Silent Hill game is said to be one of the (if not “The”) scariest video games to come out of the Playstation years and one of the milestones when video game began to have script-rich depth and not just visceral shoots and pops. The movie is directed by Christophe Gans who wrote and directed “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and its screenplay is written by Roger Avary. With the reputation of the famed original video game at stake, and the fact that most game adaptations have fallen short of satisfactory, there was the tremendous pressure for this adaptation to be more than just good. Sure, there may have been one or two plot-holes and the dialogue may tend to be a bit dry in some sequences. But indeed it does prove to be such an impressive masterpiece.


The film starts out with the kind of simplicity that mirrors classics with simple storylines like Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" and George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". But it later develops into a superb movie with a dark-fantastic storyline. There are enough strange creatures in this movie to a point that it seems like a horror version of “The Wizard of Oz”. Contrary to popular belief, Silent Hill hardly uses any computer-generated imagery. The most notable use of CGI is the fog that drenches the town. Most creatures are live actors covered in latex and makeup.

The storyline of Silent Hill reminds us that sometimes, the real evil comes from those who pose as the forces of good; it strikes on the evils of extreme religious fanaticism to the point that it resorts to evil just to punish those in the opposite side of their beliefs. The issue of religious fanaticism and hypocrisy is relevant in these times when moralists who strike stones of persecution on open-mindedness, does exist in modern society. It is already a used theme but it works in perfect coordination with the entire body of the film.

Radha Mitchell, who’s appeared in Pitch Black, Finding Neverland, Man on Fire, and Phone Booth (that’s why she looks so damned familiar, doesn’t she?) shines in a cool heroine glow, as the mother who is willing to cross hellish trials just to retrieve her child. The sexy motorcycle cop is played by Laurie Holden was one of the main characters (Marita Covarrubias) in the unforgettable X-Files TV series. Her acting was initially dry, but she was such a sight for sore eyes as a believable sexy motorcycle cop. Sean Bean, who’s had a prominent success in his film career, has a somewhat smaller role than his usual films. Even Deborah Kara Unger (who appeared in “The Game” and “The Truman Show”) as a somewhat crazy Silent Hill resident has a more prominent role in this film. But it was Alice Krige as a fanatical religious leader named Christabella who stands out as a true monster of a role, even if she doesn’t wear a mask or a costume on.

SILENT HILL is a virtual hell-on-earth experience. it is more guilty-pleasure vengeful horror rather than being an audience-victimizing gorefest. It is one film that seems to have been made of the same ingredients that have made timeless horror classics. SILENT HILL is a landscape of the creepiest of nightmares; a place perhaps you will find VERY stimulating.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Screening Schedules This Week (04-26-06)


ROBINSONS MOVIEWORLD
Tristan & Isolde
12 PM, 2:25, 4:50, 7:15 PM
D' Lucky Ones!
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Silent Hill
1:55 PM, 4:35, 7:15
When A Stranger Calls
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Basic Instinct 2
12:45 PM, 2:55, 5:05, 7:15 PM
Lucky Number Slevin
12:45 PM, 2:55, 5:05, 7:15 PM

SM CITY CINEMA
Just Friends
11:50 AM, 1:40 PM. 3:30, 5:20, 7:10, 9 PM
When A Stranger Calls
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
D' Lucky Ones!
11:25 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:15, 5:10, 7:05, 9 PM
Silent Hill
11:20 AM, 1:45 PM, 4:10, 6:35, 9 PM
Pamahiin
11:50 AM, 1:40 PM. 3:30, 5:20, 7:10, 9 PM
Tristan & Isolde
12 PM, 2:15, 4:30, 6:45, 9 PM

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ultraviolet (2006)


ULTRAVIOLET: Cheap Junkfood
By Reymundo Salao

Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans has emerged with a genetic mutation. As more people are infected and the government becomes increasingly terrified of their growing power, those with the mutation are treated as outcasts. The government sets out to destroy them, but one woman is determined that that doesn't happen: ultra-beautiful, ultra-lethal Violet (MILLA JOVOVICH).

This movie is directed by Kurt Wimmer, who directed EQUILIBRIUM, which was a fairly good sci-fi action flick. But it was hardly groundbreaking. Being outdated by the style of the Matrix films and Hongkong ballistic ballet popularized by John Woo, EQUILIBRIUM's success in terms of reputation may have seemed like a stroke of luck. What made Equilibrium a better film than the visual style it employs is its storyline, which was based on the sci-fi classic novel "Fahrenheit 451". ULTRAVIOLET, on the other hand, has a weak storyline and a charmless script. ULTRAVIOLET may have had sincere intentions to become a serious sci-fi flick, one that at least hopes for some cult-status fame. But it just all goes wrong by some bad foundation. ULTRAVIOLET is barely eye candy. It is entertaining in such a low degree just slightly above badly-made action flicks, the likes that star Steven Seagal and Mark Dacascos. But at least it never gets that low. The consolation aspect of ULTRAVIOLET is that to the moderate film junkie, the film is highly bearable, especially when you consider just staring at Milla Jovovich part of the redeeming factor.

Regardless of the fact that the concept of “futuristic virus paranoia”, along with “cyberpunk rebellion” has become overused subplots, this movie fails to present well and utilize these concepts. Up to a point that one would easily get confused in comprehension and give up the will and the effort to understand the progress of the storyline and just wait for the next action sequence and all the other visceral aspects of the film.


But then again, there is a gross waste of costume designs and character designs for this film. In one scene, there are a bunch of assassin-like operatives dressed in sleek cyberninja costumes. Only to find out that they don’t last too long in the storyline, then die. There is also an array of magnificent foot soldier costumes, all of which aren’t given much highlight in the film. The fight scenes are okay, but never impressive. There is even one action sequence that reminded me of the More cigarette commercial. There isn’t much originality and shock factor in the futuristic gadgets, the setting, and the set design, not only because it may have been overshadowed by “Aeon Flux” (which has a more or less familiar setting with this film). The futuristic antiseptic atmosphere of ULTRAVIOLET reminds us of "Logan's Run" only without the intelligent storyline, and "Barbarella" without the sexual wit. In addition, there seems to be no consistency in the law of "science fiction physics" in this film. For instance, if characters can “download” weapons like firearms into their arms out of nowhere, why don’t they just download rocket launchers, instead of machine pistols and swords? We don’t even know why Violet’s clothes keep on changing color! I guess the line spoken by the main character in the beginning of the movie and its trailer stating, “I was born in a world you may not understand” seems to be the perfect excuse for all the silliness this film projects.

The main characters Milla Jovovich, Nick Chinlund, Cameron Bright, and Michael Fichtner deliver weak performances. Everybody else, and I do mean EVERYBODY ELSE...acts like dry crap in this film. The villains, with the exception of Nick Chinlund, are never menacing. Neither do they look cool enough to be villains. In one sequence, the villains stood in pose looking like members of a boyband.

For me, ULTRAVIOLET is like cheap junkfood; cheap cheese curls, to be precise. Edible, but with no nutrients, and is never as tasty as the fancier junkfoods. ULTRAVIOLET makes us film critics useful: we warn you that films like this may look cool from the trailer and the poster, but may generate a common verdict of being grossly disappointing, although, there may be some that would find the fun in it. At least, this movie is not as ignorant as the ridiculously stupid Fast & the Furious movies or the mindless Charlie's Angels movies. You will probably enjoy ULTRAVIOLET if you expect it to be the kind of anime-ish movie made to just pass your time. Just hope that SILENT HILL will be released this Saturday simultaneously with the Metro Manila and the world premiere.

Screening Schedules This Week (04-22-06)


ROBINSONS MOVIEWORLD
Ultraviolet
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
D' Lucky Ones!
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Pamahiin
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Eight Below
2:25, 4:50, 7:15 PM
The Hills Have Eyes
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Basic Instinct 2
12:45 PM, 2:55, 5:05, 7:15 PM

SM CITY CINEMA
She's the Man
11:25 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:15, 5:10, 7:05, 9 PM
D' Lucky Ones!
11 AM, 1 PM, 3, 5, 7, 9 PM
Ultraviolet
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
Pamahiin
11:50 AM, 1:40 PM. 3:30, 5:20, 7:10, 9 PM
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
Eight Below
12:20 PM, 2:30, 4:40, 6:50, 9 PM

Friday, April 07, 2006

LA VISA LOCA (home video redux)


LA VISA LOCA: A PERFECT Pinoy Film
By Reymundo Salao

A year ago, the film LA VISA LOCA was released in theaters. Although the film was released by a production company that seemingly cannot afford the kind of intoxicating marketing campaign other local production companies can do to its movie, this film wasn’t exactly popular by mass appeal. But unflinchingly, without a doubt, LA VISA LOCA proves to be one of the best Filipino movies that has been released in a long time.

The home video release of this film was launched around the later months last year. But for those who haven’t watched it, now is just the right time to go rent it or buy the DVD/VCD of this truly spectacular movie, since its storyline is set upon the upcoming Holy Week season. I am now bringing back my film review for this, one of my favorite movies, of all time. A film us Filipinos can be proud of.

Robin Padilla plays Jess Huson, a driver who, like many Filipinos, has always had that lifelong dream of being an American citizen. He lives with his father who spends most of his time watching television and calling up a radio call-in program and expresses his angsts about society. Jess does hope to be reunited with his girlfriend who has moved to work in the US, but his aspirations crumble when his application for VISA is denied. Until he meets a foreigner named Nigel Adams (I failed to get the actor's name but he also played his part very well) who just may give him the opportunity to finally work abroad.

This is one film that has a lot to say about us Filipinos and our oftentimes-misguided colonial mentality to consider working abroad as an aspiration in life. Although some of us may not be like that, we would feel a certain familiarity with the film's characters like Jess, who longs to be reunited with his girlfriend in the US, like Mara (played by Ruffa Mae Quinto) who has been somewhat abandoned by his former boyfriend who has long left the Philippines to work abroad as well, and like Jess' father (Johnny Delgado) who would soon feel that sense of longing if and once his son would leave for the US. There is also a sense of relevance in the character of Nigel Adams, the foreigner (who seems to be British because of his accent) who initially has that admiration for the Philippines, but tends to lose that admiration when he gets the impression that he's just being suckered by opportunists that want to cash in on his being a foreigner. And lastly, is the unpleasant colonial mentality of some Filipinos who think ill of their nationality. The ones who credit every bad human trait as a Filipino trait, to the point that they deny being a Filipino at all. Certainly, this film of yours is rich in relevance, a profoundly made story of our culture.

But more than just that, it's a rib-tickling comedy that taps on real issues and realistic incidents. It's hilarious without the slapstick. From the naughtiness of Jess' senior citizen father to the bizarre world of Agimats, the film never leaves any room for dullness or cornball lameness. I also like the "choral" excerpts by Marissa Sanchez, Tessie Tomas, Noel Trinidad, and Isay Alvarez, for it is very Pinoy (one groundbreaking element making it very original). The only thing I didn't like about LA VISA LOCA that I could think of was its poster. Everything else is solid perfect.

In totality, the film is well balanced. It possesses just the right amount of intellectual and artistic substance, and the wit and humor that could entice each and every kind of audience, from the co├▒os (slang for the upper-class bourgeoisie), to the sosyals (slang term for those who pretend to be "upper class") to the masa (to the masses), and even to scholars. I couldn't do much but salute to those who made this film and hope that it would be nominated for the prestigious Academy Award's BEST FOREIGN FILM because I would daresay that it deserves it. The Philippine Daily Inquirer calls it “Fresh and Feel-good”, The New York Times calls it “A Lively, Genuine, and Heartfelt film with a convincing portrayal by the charming Robin Padilla”, I call LA VISA LOCA one PERFECT Pinoy film.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Screening Schedules This Week (04-05-06)


ROBINSONS MOVIEWORLD
House of Fury
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Moments of Love
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
North Country
12 PM, 2:25, 4:50, 7:15 PM
Venom
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
The Dark
1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM

SM CITY CINEMA
House of Fury
11:50 AM, 1:40 PM, 3:30, 5:20, 7:10, 9 PM
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
Final Destination 3
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
Moments of Love
11:25 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:15, 5:10, 7:05, 9 PM
Venom
11:30 AM, 1:05 PM, 2:40, 4:15, 5:50, 7:25, 9 PM
The Dark
11:25 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:15, 5:10, 7:05, 9 PM