Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Screening Schedules this Week [06-18-08]

Something to watch out this week is the showing of Pinoy Animated movie URDUJA

Get Smart
12:15 PM, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15, 8:15 PM
Sex & the City
11:45 AM, 2:35 PM, 5:25, 8:15 PM
Made of Honor
12:15 PM, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15, 8:15 PM
The Incredible HULK
11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:45, 6 PM
12:15 PM, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15, 8:15 PM
Kung Fu Panda
11:20 AM, 1:20 PM, 3:20 PM
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
5:25, 8:15 PM

Sex & the City
11 AM, 1:30 PM, 4, 6:30, 9 PM
Kung Fu Panda
11 AM, 12:40 PM, 2:20, 4, 5:40, 7:20, 9 PM
The Incredible Hulk
10:35 AM, 12:40 PM, 2:45, 4:50, 6:55, 9 PM
Made of Honor
11 AM, 1 PM, 3, 5, 7, 9 PM
11:50 AM, 1:40 PM, 3:30, 5:20, 7:10, 9 PM
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
10:40 AM, 1:15 PM, 3:50, 6:25, 9 PM
Get Smart
10:35 AM, 12:40 PM, 2:45, 4:50, 6:55, 9 PM


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Incredible HULK

By Reymundo Salao

Based on the extremely popular Marvel comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, INCREDIBLE HULK is about Bruce Banner, who is a scientist on the run after he has found out that the result of a freak accident during a scientific experiment causes him to transform into a monstrous Incredible Hulk. Banner is desperately scours Brazil looking for a cure so that he can get back to the life he lived and the woman he loves, but his quest is not easily achieved when the military is on his tail seeking to acquire his powers in order to be used as a weapon.

This movie is a reboot/restart of the Hulk franchise, so although some might think this to be a sequel (because Banner is already on the run as a fugitive in the beginning of the movie, just like in the end of the first Hulk movie), this movie follows an alternate origin story (which is a bit more faithful to the TV series), skipping the tedious details of the origin, and minimizing it into a quick flashback intro. This nostalgic sequence is intentionally made to reflect the 80's Hulk TV series, with its familiar scenes which mirror the series, in fact, the whole movie seems to be injected with an early 80’s feel to it.

The action was terrific. A little bit too over-stylized at times, but nevertheless exhilarating. But when the action simmers down, that is when the film drags a lot. Even though Leterrier has proven his worth when it comes to drama with his previous work "Unleashed", it seems that Incredible Hulk fails to bring that same degree of emotion. Sure there’s plenty of action, but in between them is a storytelling that makes you too tired to follow, and too generic to be impressed with.

I am all cheers for Edward Norton's accurate portrayal of Bruce Banner. He is so perfect for the role. In fact, way back in 2003 when the first Hulk movie was still in production, my friend and I were discussing who would be the perfect actor to play Bruce Banner, and we agreed that Edward Norton seemed to be the only one worthy of playing the man cursed by the Hulk sickness. In comparison, Eric Bana also did a great performance in the previous movie, but he does not have the right look for Bruce Banner, who was supposed to be skinny and wimpy to create the dramatic contrast with his monstrously massive alter-ego. Norton was the right person for the job; the looks and the acting ability. The only minor problem was the cheesy lines he had to deliver.

Liv Tyler (as Betty Ross) was just terrible for the role. Pure plastic. Her performance was forgettably one-dimensional and lacks spice. William Hurt (as Gen. Ross).was good, but also forgettable. Both did not surpass the magnificent performance of 2003's Hulk cast of Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliott (both playing the same roles as Tyler and Hurt). Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, who becomes the Abomination, made a really good performance, but knowing Roth’s talent, he could have done better and could have given more to the role. Regardless of the movie’s unimpressive supporting cast, the movie does manage to tickle the fancy of Hulk/& comics geeks (like me) with the appearance of the Leader (played by Tim Blake Nelson), Doc Samson (Ty Burrell), and the brief appearance of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man), but don’t expect him to put on his Iron suit on this movie.

A Bruce Banner that focuses on controlling the beast within him, and overcoming the loneliness that comes with his curse. Zak Penn's storyline for Hulk would’ve been really good, but it is filled with plotholes like the craters of the sports complex road. And the pacing was also terrible. Moments such as when Bruce jumps out of the helicopter risking the possibility that he would die, or the intentions of Emil Blonsky to become a monster himself, or even the unclear reason why Ross is after Bruce, all were scenes either with bad pacing, or suffered such weak build-up.

Personally, I have nothing against the 2003 Ang Lee-directed HULK movie, but I was also very much excited for this new Incredible HULK movie because it entailed so many promises of improvement; there is its director Louis Leterrier, who is one action director who really understands action, having directed action gems The Transporter and Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog). And then there is Edward Norton, playing the new Bruce Banner, who is perfect for the role. If the intention was to improve on the supposed shortcomings of the first movie, then they have failed to do so. Maybe it was because my expectations were too high, or maybe because I was one of those who, in fact, loved the first movie. It may not have beaten the first movie, in my opinion. But at least, in this one Hulk does what Hulk does best: Hulk Smash!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Creative Clash on the set of Hulk?

Edward Norton is tied down

Unbeknownst to many of us, there actually was a little tension in the making of the new movie The Incredible HULK, starring Edward Norton, Tim Roth, and directed by Louis Leterrier. In the end, all's well that ends well as Norton clarified that the matter was just overblown by the media, and the exaggerated dispute was understandably part of the whole creative process in making a movie. On the other hand, this supposedly "exaggerated" dispute may lead us to think that Norton may not come back for the sequel. You can find the full story HERE. But below is a brief summary:

Edward Norton turned down the project when he was first approached but Marvel insisted that he meet with director Louis Leterrier, and Norton relented. At the meeting Norton offered his version of The Hulk story, and Marvel agreed to hire a screenwriter to work with him on a rewrite of Zak Penn’s draft. But no screenwriter was ever hired and Norton did a substantial page-one rewrite by himself.

Marvel decided they wanted make a shorter, more action-packed cut of the film, discarding a lot of the character development pieces that Norton had brought to the screenplay.

Norton was understandably pissed. He was brought onto the project under the premise that he would have considerable creative control. But the final cut was, of course, not his. Norton and Leterrier lobbied for a more nuanced cut of the film that ran about two hours and 15-20 minutes, but Marvel stuck to their guns.

Leterrier told Collider that 70 minutes of deleted footage is set to be released on the inevitable Bluray release. (Leterrier describes the out-takes: “It’s like the back story. It’s more the sequel to the Ang Lee movie.”)

Edward Norton released the following statement to Entertainment Weekly:
“Like so many people I’ve loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I’m proud of the script I wrote. In every phase of production, including the editing, working with Louis Leterrier has been wonderful…I’ve never had a better partner, and the collaboration with all the rest of the creative team has been terrific. Every good movie gets forged through collaboration, and different ideas among people who are all committed and respect the validity of each other’s opinions is the heart of filmmaking. Regrettably, our healthy process, which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a ‘dispute,’ seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them. All of us believe The Incredible Hulk will excite old fans and create new ones and be a huge hit…our focus has always been to deliver the Hulk that people have been waiting for and keep the worldwide love affair with the big green guy going strong.”


Thursday, June 12, 2008


By Reymundo Salao

Synopsis: An invisible killer is spread throughout the U.S. Northeast, leaving people asking if it is a terrorist attack, a government conspiracy or an unexplainable act of nature.

After “Lady in the Water” has disappointed critics and audiences alike, M. Night Shyamalan rebounds and reclaims his dignity as a filmmaker with “The Happening”. I really do not like talking much about a good Shyamalan movie because the power of his movies usually come from the revealing surprises it gives audiences; his movies tend to scare you with something you cannot immediately understand. And Shyamalan is the master of mysterious threats, which is quite clear with this movie. All you need to know is that there is an unexplained phenomenon that is inexplicably exterminating human beings in and around the North American region.

This movie is such an enigmatic horror movie that reminds me of Radiohead's music video for "Just" and also mirrors classic horror flicks of the 60's, specifically much like Alfred Hitchcock's many works, it also has that Stephen King feel to it. Shyamalan has gone back what he is good at; tapping at the power of fear. And fear is what you get, as The Happening creates a realistic state of imminent threat creating a paranoia that easily infects the audience. The film actually belongs to the Twilight Zone sort of sci-fi suspense; it is freaky and frighteningly mysterious, injected with a B-movie appeal but with a strong sense of realism.

The music was also an excellent mood-setter that appropriately enhances its very unsettling setting. The cast gave a convincing performance, with Mark Wahlberg, and the very charming Zooey Deschanel on the lead; they are supported by explosive performances by John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, and a very disturbing role played by Betty Buckley. Shyamalan's direction of making the movie simplistic, non-flashy, and just lets its realistic storyline simply unfold without any unnecessary visual gimmicks. The story simply doesn’t even attempt to make a detailed accurate scientific explanation, because the main character in this sort of movie is the fear, not the science. The fear feels real up to the point that I feel like I couldn’t just wait till the main characters overcome this threat they’re facing.

Maybe it was just because I expected so little, but The Happening really took me by surprise, and if you ask me, this movie was way scarier than Sixth Sense. If you want a really good scare or a really good scream, and get to learn a little something as well, THE HAPPENING is something you should watch.

Friday, June 06, 2008


By Reymundo Salao

Synopsis: A year after their return, Pevensie kids find themselves summoned again back into Narnia... but this time, it was a different Narnia, a far more savage land where the Narnians that used to roam the lands have become almost extinct. The rulers of this land are now humans known as the Telmarines, who have wiped out the existence of Narnians as if they were wild pests that need to be exterminated. The then naive Telmarine prince named Caspian (who is also the rightful heir to the Telmarine throne) fled his kingdom after finding out that his uncle, King Miraz, the current standing ruler of the Telmarines intends to kill him. While hiding in the woods as a fugitive, he befriends some Narnians and discovers the real story as to how the Narnians were robbed of their kingdom. After gaining trust with each other, he allies with them in their struggle against Miraz.

But in order to win the war, they needed the help of the Kings and Queens of Old; which were actually the Pevensies who actually had ruled Narnia for years before that time. With the Pevensies return to Narnia, they are bothered by the great regret as why (they felt as if) they abandoned Narnia. And with a far more dangerous adversary, allies of lesser number, and the absence of Aslan, can the Pevensies, Prince Caspian, and the rest of the struggling Narnians have the strength to face defeat?

Just like the great epic movies of sci-fi and fantasy, PRINCE CASPIAN is as grand and dramatically darker as Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back. That great second chapter where everything worsens, where we realize that everything really isn’t about fairy tales and easy-go-lucky happy endings, on this chapter we see serious mortal wounds and frightening tragedies. This great dramatic detour wherein the characters go through an extreme acid test, when they go through it, they would have already evolved.

If the first Narnia movie The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe was about childish fantasies, this sequel is about how fantasies can fail. Caspian was far more darker and had a more medieval fantasy epic atmosphere. Narnia is not anymore a place for Mr. Tumnus and his funny little umbrella. In this Narnia, you will not survive if you did not carry a sword around. Our main characters here are witness to how gruesome failure can be. From the audience point of view, it puts the characters on a more dramatically-challenging position, giving them a chance to deal with far more serious issues. What with the dramatic sense of guilt the Pevensies had when they find that they seem to have abandoned Narnia and Aslan, with the internal conflict between Peter and Caspian, and then the temptation to darkness at their hour of despair.

The people behind this movie are remarkable. The movie, of course, is faithful to the book by C.S. Lewis but screenwriters Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Andrew Adamson who is also the director of the movie, made minor and clever little additions to the story, such as the friction between Caspian and Peter, two characters who have their own issues to deal with, it only makes sense that these characters would tend to get on each other's nerves.

Some critics disliked the movie because of its darker, more violent tone. But the storyline of Narnia has to move on, and the children had to grow up to face far more serious challenges. Challenges that are there, not just to create an "action movie scenario" but to see how our heroes dramatically react to new threats. That's what makes Prince Caspian a better movie, the threat is more real, and the battles are realistic, because the villains are not fantasy creatures anymore. They were humans. The appearance of the White Witch was also one of the thrilling moments of the movie, what indeed would make an ultimate sequel--- if not an echo of acknowledgement from the villain of the previous movie?’

Caspian makes you say "eat that, George Lucas!" because clearly, this movie managed to give adequate action-fantasy without giving up its excellent storyline. I could not help but contrast this movie to any one of George Lucas' Star Wars prequels. This second Narnia movie has that great balance of good story, powerful actors & actresses, and spectacular eye candy. This has the makings of a good epic franchise that hopefully would continue smoothly till the last book. Let's just hope it does not have the same fate of franchises that fail by the third movie (spider-man 3, X-men 3).

Disney has succeeded in making a fantasy epic which is as seriously excellent as the Lord of the Rings movies. So far, with this year's Hollywood summer movie bets, Iron Man was great but not blinding, Indy 4 was a silly disappointment, and Speed Racer was just awful. While Prince Caspian is my first big personal atomic bomb champion for this summer so far (I’m still eagerly awaiting Incredible Hulk and Dark Knight). I am at all counts, all praises for this movie. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has a regal high score; a movie that shouldn’t be missed.