Saturday, May 19, 2007

EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO (Pan's Labyrinth)


EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO
By Reymundo Salao

El Laberinto Del Fauno also known as Pan’s Labyrinth is set in post-Civil War Spain. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl moves with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), into the home of Captain Vidal (Sergi L√≥pez), in an abandoned mill in the middle of dark, dangerous woods. Vidal is leading his team of soldiers against resistance fighters--and he will do whatever is necessary to kill every last one of them. As Vidal bosses around the pregnant Carmen, a flying creature leads Ofelia through a garden labyrinth and into an underground cave ruled by a fawn, who believes that Ofelia might be the lost princess of this strange yet magical place. To prove she is royalty, Ofelia must complete three tasks, each more difficult and terrifying than the previous one. Meanwhile, Vidal is becoming more and more paranoid, torturing and murdering seemingly at will.

This film is Mexico's entry to the Academy Awards, in the category of Best Film in a Foreign Language (2006). In 2007, this film became one of the few fantasy films ever nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. Meanwhile, this film received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite the film's translated title suggesting otherwise, the character of the Fawn is not Pan. Del Toro stipulates that he felt the character of Pan was too dark and sexual a character to play in a film opposite an 8 year old girl. The film is only called 'Pan's Labyrinth' in America and the English-speaking countries; everywhere else the film is called 'The Labyrinth of the Fawn'.


This film is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who has gained fame as a respectable director in the fantasy genre. He directed CRONOS, THE DEVIL’s BACKBONE, BLADE 2, and HELLBOY. Del Toro is famous for compiling books full of notes and drawings about his ideas before turning them into films, something he regards essential to the process. He left years worth of notes for Pan's Labyrinth in the back of a cab, and thought it was the end of the project. However, the cab driver found them and, realizing their importance, tracked him down and returned them at great personal difficulty and expense. Del Toro was convinced that this was a blessing and it made him ever more determined to complete the film. The English subtitles were translated and written by Del Toro himself. He no longer trusts translators after the results in his previous subtitled movies.

Guillermo Del Toro creates a fairy tale with dark & gritty depth. Its violent & cold-blooded scenes make it a film more targeted for adults and mature viewers. After the first week movie theaters in Mexico had to place signs over the movie posters warning about the graphic violence as parents were taking small children to see it. Nevertheless, the film is magnificent in its darkness. It makes me think of it as a more realistic, more Oscar-worthy version of Tim Burton’s work, only as a pop comparison. Del Toro even surpasses Burton in reputation now.

Del Toro exhibits his passion for the mystically bizarre and interestingly grotesque, as we are introduced to creatures and places that seem to bridge fairy tale fantasy and creature-feature horror flicks. Del Toro beautifully weaves reality and fantasy together side by side, and creates a thought-provoking masterpiece that intends to be a harrowing classic. A must-see, I give it a golden endorsement.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

SPIDER-MAN 3


SPIDER-MAN 3: GREAT ENOUGH IN ITS OWN TWO FEET; BUT WEAKER BY COMPARISON
By Reymundo Salao


Spider-man returns with Sam Raimi on the directorial helm and its same main cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. The story starts out with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s romantic relationship blooming despite of the challenges they face as Parker balancing his life with his crime-fighting, wall-crawling alter-ego, Spider-man. But things are complicated when Norman Osborn lunges into all-out vengeance against Spider-man. In the midst of it all, Spider-man is faced with new villains that include Flint “The Sandman” Marko, played by Thomas Haden Church and Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace, who eventually mutates into The Venom. The film boasts a plethora of action and amazing visuals, as well as a storyline that is faithful to the comicbook source material.

Spider-man 3 was not bad. But I would be stubborn to argue that Spider-man 3 was absolutely superb, because it was not. Perhaps the first 2 films were too good to a point that Raimi used up all his discipline by the third movie.


Raimi’s signature quirkiness also found in part 1 and his other films like Army of Darkness and Darkman are ever-present. The same kind of silliness that is fit for Marvel's more lighter, more wholesome web-slinging superhero. But there are instances in this film that that quirkiness was awkwardly positioned. Minor scenes that felt like the punch-lines missed their mark.

One thing applaudable with Raimi, though, is his ability to fit in the numerous subplots into the film's limited running time. In this one, Raimi focuses on the complex relationship between Peter Parker, Spider-man, and Mary Jane Watson. This focus is in full consistency with the first two films. But this emphasis deprived Raimi of the opportunity to have a more interesting focus on the other characters. Sure, there was focus on characters like the Sandman or Venom, but the geek in me is craving for more focus on those new characters.


Fan expectations & geek nitpickings are always present in comicbook adaptation movies. What may be well-received by the general audience may not be satisfactory to the core Spider-man fanbase. I would have thought Raimi's keen sense of humor and eye for horror would be utilized to make his new villains more interesting than it was. With the introduction of Sandman, it should’ve been about time to have a Spider-man villain who's cooler in terms of character temper. Sandman is one of Spider-man's longtime villains who is adored by fans because of his sense of humor. Likewise, Thomas Haden Church is also known for his polished balance of sense of humor and a reputable acting career. But none of that humor is shown on screen; instead, we are given an overbrooding Sandman. Sure, he shines in some dramatic scenes, but please; they shouldn’t have made him too serious throughout the entire film! It's as if we're not already sick of Harry Osborn's and Eddie Brock's whining. Thomas Haden Church was PERFECT for Sandman, he's got the Sandman look and his talent is capable of giving an inside out adaptation of Sandman's character. Instead, Church's talents are wasted with the film's lack of focus on his character.


And then there was Eddie Brock who transforms into the horrifying Venom. The look of Venom was excellently brought to life. Venom is supposedly one of the creepiest villains in Spidey’s universe. A villain in which Raimi should have showcased his expertise in horror the same way he made “Evil Dead” a cult classic. Topher Grace did a fine job playing Eddie Brock, a new character who becomes a rival to Peter Parker, and eventually, to his alter-ago as well. The storyline concerning Harry Osborn, the new Green Goblin, on the other hand, was one that has got some interesting twists; James Franco was given a more radiant spotlight in this one, one that makes his character a more important role to play.

Although the action was sufficient to blow away any chances of boredom, the special effects tend to be over-used. Sandman became disappointing when they exaggeratingly turned him into an overgrown sand giant, a seemingly bastard child of the stay-puft marshmallow man from the Ghostbusters movie & Imotep from The Mummy. In addition, there were action sequences that went by too fast; they may be impressive but cinematically devoid of being appreciated.

Nevertheless, nitpickings would not totally bring this movie down. Apart from his eye for exciting action, Raimi juggles with equal doses of comedy, action and romance into this movie. Spider-man 3 is great enough in its own two feet; the only weak point it has is that it pales in comparison to the first two movies which were so good that it breaks our meters. An essential sequel to the Spider-man franchise, this movie is a must-see. And it seems that Spider-man will not rest as a trilogy. There is already news confirming a part 4.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spider-Man explodes in several local screens 4 days advance


The highly-anticipated SPIDER-MAN 3 is opening in Philippine Cinemas today May 1, 2007. 3 days ahead of its official American release on May 4, 2007.
Locally, it will be shown in almost all local screens. SM City opens with all theaters showing the movie, while at Robinson's movieworld, it opens in 4 out of its 6 theaters.

ROBINSONS MOVIEWORLD
Spider-man 3
12:40 PM, 3:20, 6, 8:40PM
Spider-man 3
10:30 AM, 1:10 PM, 3:50, 6:30 PM
Spider-man 3
11:40 AM, 2:20, 5, 7:40 PM
Spider-man 4
1:45 PM, 4:25, 7:05 PM
Ang Cute ng Ina Mo
11:15 AM, 1:15 PM, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15 PM
Pathfinder
12:45 PM, 2:55, 5:05, 7:15 PM

SM CITY CINEMA
Spider-man 3
11:40 AM, 2:20 PM, 5, 7:40 PM
Spider-man 3
3 PM, 8:20 PM
Spider-man 3
10:20 AM, 1 PM, 3:40, 6:20, 9 PM
Spider-man 3
11 AM, 1:40 PM, 4:20, 7 PM
Spider-man 3
12:10 PM, 2:50, 5:30, 8:10 PM
Spider-man 3
10:20 AM, 1 PM, 3:40, 6:20, 9 PM
Spider-man 3
11:20 AM, 2 PM, 4:40, 7:20 PM