Category Archives: Movies

Pisay (the movie)

Last weekend I watched Aureus Solito’s movie Pisay at the UP film center with a couple of friends (both of whom were my Pisay batchmates of course).

For the uninitiated Pisay is the nickname for our beloved Philippine Science High School. It’s a system of government-run schools with a special focus on science and math subjects. There’s a highly-competitive entrance exam and we’ve always been told that students who make it in are considered the “cream of the crop.” (I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone outside Pisay say that though.) Students are given full scholarships and a modest stipend, and are required to take a science course upon graduation.

The movie was pretty good. It was more or less four short stories tied together, each one focused on a different year and following a particular batch of students through their stay at Pisay. Each story covers themes central to the Pisay experience: the difficulty of getting in, balancing academics and relationships, stipends, homesickness, trying to pass and failing, wanting to take a non-science course, and so on. The movie takes place during the school years from 1982-1986, basically during the fall of the dictatorship. So it also gets to cover some of the major events during that period and the senior year story has a stronger focus on activism.

I suspect that the movie will be a lot more appreciated by people who actually went to Pisay or people who lived through the 80s. (I’m not sure if teenagers in the 80s really used that much slang though.) I’m also not sure how accurate it is as a reflection of what it was to be a Pisay student in the 80s – some things felt deliberately dramatized for the film’s sake. (That’s fine though.)

This movie hits all the nostalgia points even though it takes place in a completely different time period than when I was there. I look back fondly on my days in Pisay and consider that an important formative period for me. It was challenging and rewarding and it was great to be among peers that shared many of my interests and many lifelong friendships were formed. Maybe someday I’ll write about the experience more, but probably one blog post wouldn’t be enough.


Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

First, the spoiler-free summary (spoilers after this part):

  • overall a very entertaining movie to sit down and watch popcorn and to enjoy the jokes and the space battles and the different colored lights and the tiny adorable tree creature
  • GOTG’s humor was one of its strong points and for the 2nd movie, they push the comedy up a notch, perhaps a little too much in some places. Lots of funny gags and one-liners
  • I felt like some of the character/background development stuff was pushed a bit too hard as well
  • the movie’s plot also felt a bit thin and straightforward. I mean, you could see some of the major plot points coming a mile away. Maybe from the trailers even
  • Star Lord was ok. Gamora/Nebula felt poorly written. Rocket was a bit annoying. Drax and Mantis were ok, although the space they have for Mantis’ character overlaps with Drax a bit. I’m still not super happy with how Drax and Gamora are characterized in the MCU.
  • I’m less happy with this movie’s soundtrack compared to the first one
  • Magugustuhan ba ni Mama: Certainly not. In fact, she chose to derp around the mall instead of coming with me and my cousin to watch.
  • IMAX or not: Some visuals used the 3d effect, but nothing too exaggerated or critical. I’d say IMAX optional, but it definitely adds something to some scenes.
  • There are five extra scenes near the credits (one of them is right before the credits roll, so I can’t really say “post-credit” screens). Most of them are just setting the tone for the inevitable GOTG3
  • Additionally, just pay attention to the background of the credits roll as well, it’s great
  • While I felt the movie was ok, it’s kind of just more of the same of what we got with the first movie, which felt a lot stronger overall

Spoilers follow:

  • It would have been silly to expect Ego the Living Planet to have his Marvel comics appearance of a planet with a face, but guess what, we actually got it!
  • Stallone as Starhawk and Yondu being officially a member of the “original Guardians” team was great. Oh and apparently Michael Rosenbaum was Martinex!
  • The Stan Lee cameo here was really meant to push the “Stan Lee has been playing the same character in all his cameos” narrative
  • Giving Peter a Zune was a cruel joke on Microsoft’s expense, but sets us up for more music (maybe from later decades even!) for the 3rd movie
  • Lots of random other Marvel fan-service cameo appearances too: Watchers, Cosmo, Howard the Duck, and I’m sure I missed/forgot quite a lot more


Scary Movies and Games

I’m not a fan of scary movies. I don’t appreciate the idea of paying money to get surprised by jump scares or whatever.

Back when I was a kid I remember my dad watching a Betamax copy of The Gate back home and me and my younger brother were watching with him and the movie seriously creeped me out. There was this one scene where a demonic eye manifested on the lead kid’s palm and that scene stuck with me for a while. (Maybe some latent form of trypophobia – don’t google it.)

Slasher movies I find a bit more acceptable – I watched a few of them in the 90s like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. But the really creepy stuff like The Ring and similar films I’m not particularly interested in.

For scary video games, we played a few of them back on the PC when we were young. The most memorable would definitely be Waxworks, a kind of point-and-click with first-person grid-exploration horror game. I remember my brother and I would play it late at night while the folks were out. There was one time we had to stop because we had been surprised at the sudden appearance of some bad guy in the pyramid stage. We had to turn off the PC and run out to the sari-sari store so that we had some people to talk to. We eventually managed to finish this game, but I think after that part we refrained from playing too late in the night. LOL.

I also played the original jump scare game, Alone in the Dark although I never got into the succeeding series like Resident Evil. These days I don’t bother with scary games anymore. Sometimes I consider playing stuff like Amnesia, but I’m sure even if I’m a grown-up I’d still get creeped out by some of the stuff and that’s not really how I like to be entertained.



X-Men Apocalypse Review (Spoiler-Free)

“Everyone knows the third movie is always the worst” – Jean
  • still too much focus on Jennifer Lawrence/Mystique
  • some great soundtrack choices
  • Quicksilver scene maybe just a tiny bit too long. Tradition of defying the rules of physics continues (I hope someone does the math on how fast he was probably moving)
  • nice 80s wardrobe lol
  • not particularly faithful to the source material
  • plot is all over the place, a lot of WTF moments here and there. OMG that stupid arrow D:
  • lots of faults, but you’ll probably enjoy it anyway if you’re an X-men fan just for all the random easter eggs you spot (“Hey, it’s random third-string comic book character in a completely different role!”)
  • post-credits scene? YES
  • I’m kind of hoping they go for Dark Phoenix Saga next (Aliens!) but the PCS tells us they have more sinister designs in mind…
  • Will Mama like it? Probably not.
  • I’d rate it worse than DoFP, probably around the same or slightly worse than First Class

X-Men, Green Lantern and a little bit of Batman

So Metro Manila is at the peril of heavy rains, flooding and traffic again (as often happens this time of the year) and I thought I’d do some actual blogging for a change.

I didn’t want to brave the rush hour traffic last night so I finally got around to watching X-Men First Class (luckily it was still showing at Mega). I had actually seen Green Lantern first despite X1C showing two weeks before the DC movie. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan with all these comic book movies coming out; I saw Thor a couple of months ago and of course we still have Captain America to look forward to next year.

At some level though I’ve started thinking that being a big comic book fan is actually a bit of a handicap when watching these big Hollywood adaptations of our favorite spandex-clad heroes, if only because we cringe twice at much at every small fault or piece of bad writing that we find in these movies.

I may have subconsciously delayed watching X1C because one of my brothers had watched it while I was in Singapore and didn’t really give the gushing review “regular” people had given. And GL wasn’t getting such rave reviews on opening weekend either and there were rumors that even the studio was not confident in the movie. So I came into both movies with a bit of lowered expectations.

My quick reviews of the two movies first then: X1C was fun and it was nice seeing an entirely new crew of mutants (more or less). I can forgive the ridiculous recruitment and training montages (and lol’ed at the cameo). It looks they didn’t bother keeping in continuity with the first trilogy and Wolverine: Origins, which is fine since Wolverine: Origins was ridiculous anyway. The ending felt a bit contrived in the same way that the ending of Smallville and Wolverine: Origins did – mainly because they need to wrap up things to sync with whatever “continuity” they’re supposed to have. The movie feels a bit campy at times and it’s far from the “Dark Knight of X-Men” that some reviews made it out to be, but still a good watch.

Green Lantern was fun as well, though the writing left a bit to be desired for me. At some points the abrupt transitions and especially the poor portrayal of Carol Ferris reminded me of Smallville-quality writing at some point. It’s still a good movie to watch and the scale is definitely more epic than X1C, but it kind of left me hanging the same way Thor did: it’s like there wasn’t much that happened in the movie aside from the telling of the origin story.

Maybe I was just spoiled by Nolan, but Batman Begins set a new height for me in terms of superhero origin movies, and the latest set have yet to reach that bar.

Speaking of Batman I’ve also just finished watching the DC straight to video animated feature “Under the Red Hood” which covers the death and resurrection of Jason Todd (duh, spoilers) and to be honest I found the climactic scene more well-written than the above two movies. But then again Under the Red Hood follows the comic book story arc more closely so I guess it’s closer to the type of stories I enjoy on a regular basis. In fact I find that the DC animated film line to be pretty good; not something I’d watch in a cinema or anything but enjoyable enough.

This is just really more or less random ramblings about comic books and comic book movies so here’s something else I thought of while watching X1C: the problem with the character of Magneto or in general any character whose origin story or background is tied to a real-life historical event the same way Magneto’s is tied to the holocaust. See the problem is that comic book characters live in some sort of time-distorting reality bubble where they don’t grow old as fast as the readers do. Characters like Magneto however, have no choice but to grow old at the regular rate, since we cannot move the historical dates upon which their characters are based. In twenty to thirty years, Magneto will be a hundred years old regardless of what happens in X-Men continuity. How will they make X-Men movies then, will they have a hundred year-old Ian McKellen take the role? With the character of Magneto anchored in time, the fictional world of the X-Men remains tied to a particular era. They’ll probably come up with some handwaved solution about how his powers include not aging; or maybe they’ll take a bold leap and actually kill him off permanently (hey, they haven’t brought back Jean Grey for a while right?)

On a side note, the first character that I ever noticed had this problem was Bab from Pugad Baboy.

Anyway maybe that’s enough rambling for now. Looking forward to Captain America, Transformers 3, etc, etc. Despite my not being 100% satisfied with the current wave of superhero movies, it’s still a good time to be a comic book fan. 😀



I had actually read the much-acclaimed graphic novel only last year. And while I found the story decent enough, I wasn’t sure whether to like it or hate it. Undoubtedly it was an important point in the history of “superhero” comics, but I was never entirely sure about it’s point.

So of course I saw the movie, and it had remained roughly 85-90% loyal to the source material, which made it a bit boring for me since I generally knew what was going to happen most of the time (except for you know, that thing about the bad guy’s master plan…). Not only does the story remain true to the comic-book style, but the backgrounds and choice of music seemed oddly appropriate for all the flashbacks going on to explain the Watchmen and Minutemen backstories. And the movie leaves me feeling the same way the comic did…ambivalent as it were, and unsure of what deep, thought-provoking message about human existence the Watchmen story was really trying to convey.

Still, if you’re any sort of comic book fan, you should watch it even if you hadn’t read the source material. The only real problem with the movie is that Dr. Manhattan seriously needs to wear more pants.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

I had time to kill before going to see my brother’s art exhibit at megamall, so I went and watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

It was so bad. I could’ve been able to forgive the fact that they roughly 80% of the story shied away from Street Fighter canon, had the movie’s storyline actually been good. As it is, you can expect short, unsatisfying fight scenes, ridiculous background stories, disjointed plot/scenes (reminds me of Smallville and/or Heroes writing =/), terrible wigs and the ridiculous sight of Michael Clark Duncan getting beaned by a pineapple.

I’m not sure if it was a problem with the theater’s copy, but there were no subtitles for the Chinese/Thai dialogues, which made up a nontrivial portion of the movie. Also, did they really, absolutely need to have the Kikoushou? The internal world of the movie would have been so much more consistent if Chun-Li did not magically learn the ability to create a fireball from nothing. And it’s totally unexplained as well!

Nash and Maya were pretty much useless. Gen, supposedly a really old guy who’s a rival for Akuma, was played by the same guy who played Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat, except he was wearing a really bad wig and apparently could not die. Michael Clark Duncan is wasted in his role as Balrog, who is not even hinted to be a boxer at all…in fact he went so far as to use a bow and arrow in this movie. (Oh, and getting beaned by a pineapple)

@altealice asks: are there enough lolz to make watching it worthwhile?

It depends on how mababaw you are at the time I guess. The plain ridiculousness of the storyline makes you want to facepalm. Things seem to happen at random and with no explanation (It’s never explained why the hell Bison took Chun-li’s father.) I wouldn’t recommend watching it in the moviehouse, but maybe pickup a pirated DVD :p

At least, it’s still better than the Van Damme movie.

Eagle Eye

On a whim, my brother and I went to Trinoma to see Eagle Eye, barely catching the last full show (including the trailers of course, we love watching trailers). Our mom had said we’d like the movie and she still owed us one since it was her fault we watched Big Stan. So we’re giving her a chance to redeem herself.

The spoilerless review:

Since Eagle Eye trailers seem to be everywhere, you probably have some idea of at least the start of the story. Jerry Shaw is an ordinary loser working at Copy Cabana when he comes into seven hundred fifty thousand dollars and a whole lot of terrorist hardware in his apartment, facilitated by a mysterious woman who contacts him via his cellphone. The FBI bust his apartment and suddenly he’s a fugitive on the run for reasons unknown to him.

For me, the gauge of how good an action movie is how difficult it is for me to see how it ends. For Eagle Eye, it started out a bit slow, then became action-packed without explanation then got to the middle where the plot was developed, and by that point I thought I had a pretty good handle of where it was going. Except I was wrong. And towards the end of the movie there were a few moments of “Oh, so that’s what it was for!” which was a pretty good indication. There was a bit of a cop out at the ending, but I guess that they want this to be a “feel-good” action movie so whatever.

If you’re not yet tired of Shia Lebouf and his half-dorky antics, the movie’s not a bad way to waste a couple of hours.

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Groundhog Day

I caught Groundhog Day for the Nth time today on HBO (N roughly around 50). My father claims it’s his favorite movie of all time; high praise considering he watches every movie that comes out EVER. I’m not actually going to talk about the movie; it’s awesome, if you haven’t seen it, you should. You’re missing half your life.

If you had one day of eternity, what would you do?

Too bad it’s not possible to train to be Batman (your body gets reset every morning); you need to focus on mastering mental disciplines first. Ideally you would have an internet connection available; it should take a few man-years or so to memorize Wikipedia. Probably at some point I would test the limits of what a human being could accomplish in the span of 24 hours. Is it possible to take over the world in 24 hours? Since you get infinite repeats, maybe.

I wonder if a remake of Groundhog Day would sell in this day and age.

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