Archive for the ‘empress’ Tag

REVIEW: Tuhog   7 comments

Tuhog

Skylight Films, the indie army of Star Cinema, does their own celebration of the film outfit’s 20th year by coming up with a comedy that plays with intertwined fates of three strangers. Written and directed by Veronica Velasco, and starred by Eugene Domingo, Leo Martinez, Enchong Dee, and Jake Cuenca, Tuhog is a take on the connection of me, you, and everyone else you know.

Due to a highway bus accident, three strangers Tonio (Leo Martinez), Caloy (Enchong Dee), and Fiesta (Eugene Domingo) are literally connected by a piece of steel bar; unfortunately for them, the small hospital where they were directed has only two operating rooms, and before the decision can be made, we get a glimpse of their own lives prior to the said incident. There, we see Tonio, a retired family man, whose aim is to put up a bakery.  Fiesta is a cranky female bus conductor who’s being haunted by her past, while Caloy is a typical college student whose world revolves with the notion of finally having her long distant girlfriend deflowered.

On the outside, it’s easy to dismiss the definition of the film’s title from the main conflict that the film presented. If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll have a clear idea of what I’m referring to in the Season 2 episode Into You Like a Train. However, it goes deeper than that. We were then presented that even before the accident, there were already instances where the three characters have intertwined in the past. And I think that’s where the movie clearly succeeds – that there were already some puzzle pieces even before the picture was made.

Veronica Velasco really knows how to connect the story to the audience and vice versa. I like how each of the backstories were tackled, though it’s safe to say that Caloy’s story was the weakest of the three. Not because it was the lightest, but because it’s the one that comes close (but definitely didn’t) from being a filler. The most interesting one is hands down the first one with Tonio. It’s stories like his that personally strikes the most interest for me because it’s  a scenario that others can possibly see themselves at. Fiesta’s segment is the perfect middle story; it might not be the most original story, but it is successful in what it presented, and the crowd I was with definitely ate all of it up. If anything, the only thing I wasn’t particularly fond of was the resolution part as it tends to become preachy, and it seems sort of out of place to what the build up did.

I’ll dedicate a paragraph of my review to say this, because I want them to get the much deserved props, but the visuals in here is really fresh and well thought. The opening credits is one of the best I’ve seen in local cinema for a long time, and it is talents like such that convinces me that we need more avenue to expose them because the talent is clearly there.

With three different stories to tackle, a large ensemble is needed, and for the most part, I think all of them were okay. I don’t remember anything that strikes as an odd man out. Eugene Domingo was her typical charismatic self, and while most people know her for her comedic skills, her dramatic ones were equally good too. Enchong Dee is the definition of a boy next door and this role plays right up his alley. My favorite though is Leo Martinez, as one who is still in denial of his current state and simply aims for his dream to push through, you’d feel for him and what he’s going through. Martinez together with his barkada in the film (Bodjie Pascua, Jon Achaval, Menggie Cobarrubias) is one of the most enjoyable portrayal of friendship I’ve seen.

Tuhog is a very competent and inspired take on life’s many possibilities and how fate can possibly bring us to see that. It’s one that can make you ask questions about yourself despite not getting the answers instantly.

RATING: 4/5

Advertisements

REVIEW: Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Invasion   5 comments

Shake Rattle and Roll

Last year, it was said that the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise will finally be put to an end. After all, it is on its thirteenth installment last year. However, with the surprising turn of events (okay, not really surprising), a 14th one was in the works, and is now part of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. This year though, only one director was behind the three movies, horror master Chito Rono. My review will be divided into the three different episodes.

Episode 1: PAMANA

When a horror comics writer died, he left an inheritance to his two nephews and two nieces. He also left them each of his four original comics writings. With that, the writer also left a challenge to them. He left them five million each, but each time one dies, the dead person’s money will be separated into the remaining ones. With these horror comics characters going larger than life, and them being stuck in their uncle’s dead house, it ensues horror to these people.

I feel this episode is the perfect throwback to the old Shake, Rattle, and Roll movies. For one, it stars the three leads of the three episodes of the first installment of this series. Second, I like how they connected it with an old horror concept: the power of comics. There’s really something that’s comfortable to watch here that makes the whole episode enjoyable. The ensemble was commendable too, with Janice de Belen, Herbert Bautista, and Arlene Muhlach all perfect choices in their roles. I like how it also ended which made it even scarier.

Grade: 3/5

Episode 2: LOST COMMAND

When a simple military operation in the jungle turns into chaos as unknown entities start to meddle with them, it’s now up to platoon leader Martin Barrientos (Dennis Trillo) to act upon the remaining men in his team to survive. This one is based on current zombie craze such as The Walking Dead and the never ending zombie invasions. With that said, I like how director Rono presented this concept in a more interesting manner. It wasn’t simply zombies that appeared everywhere.

There was also a nice dramatic play with the connection of the children to their fathers with the characters of Ella Cruz and Makisig Morales. The cinematography and visuals were pretty slick, and wasn’t difficult to the eyes. Sum it up with a memorable ending, and this is  a good episode altogether.

Grade: 3.5/5

Episode 3: UNWANTED

During December 21, a mall suddenly exploded and people inside it are fighting not only their way out, but fighting for their lives as well. The leader of the pack involves couple Hank (Vhong Mavarro) and pregnant Kate (Lovi Poe). In between, they’re with random mall goers who survived as well though a strange monster keeps on eating these people alive.

I actually liked how this one played with two possible fears: the end of the world assumption and being trapped inside a wrecked shopping mall. Thus, I think that the movie started out good. However, the all out CGI monsters and the appearance and disappearance of all these other characters who weren’t even engaging to watch were a big NO. When we reach the end, it was all CGI now and lost all the potential it had in the beginning. I’d say Vhong Navarro was a charismatic lead, and he was definitely able to carry this episode in his shoulders.

Grade: 2/5

Here are the reviews of the other Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entries:

El Presidente
One More Try
Si Agimat, si Enteng, at si Ako
Sisterakas
Sosy Problems
The Strangers
Thy Womb

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Amorosa: The Revenge   4 comments

Sky Light Films’ follow up to the very uneven Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang is from the same vein, a horror psycho-thriller helmed by Topel Lee entitled Amorosa: The Revenge. If anything, at least I’d give them credits for finally promoting this one right, unlike its predecessor which was promoted as a straight our horror film, only to see a love story when you watch the actual movie itself.

After a life changing incident that involved both of her kids (Martin Del Rosario, Enrique Gil), Amorosa (Angel Aquino) decides to start anew and move to Tagaytay to manage an inn that a relative tasked her to do. It also means that she will be staying there permanently. However, once there, she started to see a revengeful ghost that keeps on bothering her, as she also tries to fix her relationship with one of her sons who was deeply affected by the childhood incident.

The premise of the movie tends to be half stupid and half unbelievable. The characters were pretty much one note and involves them making one stupid action one after the other. Case in point: if you are in the door and you see a killer inside the house, would you run to the stairs instead of going out and locking him inside the house?  The primary question that they want to pose to readers involves a Sophie’s Choice type of consequence which actually leaves them in a lose-lose situation; hence, they are probably pretty much subjected to end up with the fates that they had.

The movie tried to cover all areas. Revengeful ghosts? Check. Hide and seek inside the house? Check. Ghostly apparitions? Check. Hallucinations? Check. It’s as if they came up with a list of the most cliched horror ingredients, and they accomplished all of that in one film. I noticed that there are some areas that actually worked, but they got overshadowed with the attempt to do everything in it. The movie also suffered from continuing to open a lot of stories that weren’t closed which made the movie overlong. I swear to God, this is one movie when you can already see it ending, yet it still goes on and on and on and on.

Angel Aquino tries her best to overcome her character, and she actually did. She was emotional and convincing; she makes it feel for you what she’s feeling. And of course, it’s always a delight to see her take lead credits in the big screen. Martin del Rosario wasn’t given that much to do, but I like that he’s being given all these breaks because he certainly deserves it. Enrique Gil shows some potential, but tends to resort to overacting in the latter parts of the movie. I find Ejay Falcon’s hair ridiculous, but I think it worked on his advantage in this film. Empress was meh since she wasn’t given a lot of things to do.  I somewhat enjoyed the character actors in this film despite limited screentime, though Nanding Josef was very effective in his two scenes in the film.

The potential with Amorosa was actually there. It just got lost with everything that is happening in the film. If they only focused on one instead of trying to fit in every single thing they can think of, I’m certain we could have seen a better version of this one.

Rating: 2.5 / 5