Maleficent (2014): Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones!

SPOILER ALERT.

 
So there’s a young girl with nice hair, a pair of horns, and black great wings whom they categorize as somewhat a fairy called Maleficent. Now the moment I saw her, I said she is a Harpy. I insisted but my friends/movie pals just won’t believe me. Anyway this girl lives with other magical creatures in a very nice swamp aptly called moor.

One day a young male human being called Stefano emerges from behind the bushes – the entrance being highly reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia. Maleficent was talking, seemingly in command of the conversation, to the magical creatures and the young male who had emerged from the bushes. I did not keep track of what they were saying. Then there’s a montage of them growing, looking like they’re in love. Then there’s a conflict that could be remedied by a true love’s kiss. When Maleficent was 16, she and Stefano kissed, but somehow it did not work out, and for some reason Stefano just did not see her anymore. (Yeah, a total dick.)

Then there’s a castle ruled by a king. Again I did not keep track of the conversation but I assume this king wants Maleficent’s land. He sends soldiers to claim the land, but they are utter nuts for not planning how to defeat magical people with wings and cheekbones; so Maleficent-1, Humans-0. I think the King died in war too. The good thing about the war though was somehow knowing what Maleficent’s weakness is – metals. (So she’s somewhat a cross between a harpy and a vampire?)

I didn’t keep track of the conversation again, but I assume the people were pissed. They were undermanned, so the few remaining soldiers made a pact or something that whoever catches Maleficent becomes king. (I’m not sure of this though.)

So Stefano, the treacherous Stefano, went to Maleficent’s land. He said something like getting away, or a precaution, or wrong attack information from the Humans. Now Maleficent, the-ever-loving-never-moved-on Maleficent, somehow chose to trust Stefano, stayed with him for the night cuddling, and drinking from his flask containing some sort of sleeping potion. While Maleficent was asleep he tried to kill her with a dagger, but he got scared, so he opted to take out her wings. And somehow, she lied low and lived miserably. You can feel her misery through a Jolie-patented howl not seen since Girl, Interrupted (only it was better in Girl, Interrupted.) She then tried to live like Voldemort post-Hogwarts – strengthening her powers and getting an ally called Theodore whom she morphs into different kinds of creatures, more prominently being a crow.

So Stefano the Prick became a king, got a wife and had a daughter. The king’s daughter was named Aurora. Upon knowing this truth, Maleficent obviously got mad, so she set up a revenge.

On a special ceremony for the king’s daughter, three fairies came to the kingdom to give their gifts. Imelda Staunton, formerly Professor Dolores Umbridge of the Harry Potter series, now a pink fairy, gave Aurora beauty. The second fairy gave Aurora charm. The third fairy was about to give her a gift when thunder struck, wind blew hard and Maleficent came in. Guess what, she gave her Aurora a curse.

So there. The king got mad, entrusted Aurora to the goofy fairies until her 16th birthday. All through Aurora’s life, Maleficent was there ensuring she keeps being alive until the curse ensues. But for some reason she grows affection for the child. Aurora becomes 15, and days before her 16th birthday Maleficent takes her. Aurora sees her as her fairy godmother. Maleficent has ultimately put Aurora in her good book, and tries to renounce the curse but failed. Aurora meets a guy, whom Maleficent thought would be the one for her.

One day Aurora thought she liked Maleficent so much already that she went to the fairies to ask their permission to live with Maleficent. Then Aurora knew of the whole truth. She confronted Maleficent and ran away to the kingdom. The king got Aurora locked up in her room, but the curse took its toll. She fell for an indefinite sleep.

Maleficent then got Aurora’s guy. He kissed her, but as far as Disney’s new stance for romantic kisses goes, there is no such a thing as true love, so the guy’s kiss does not work. But then, Disney advocates their new stance on kisses as an act of true love (sisterly love in Frozen, foster motherhood in Maleficent) so Aurora lives with Maleficent’s kiss.

Aurora lives but the king is not content without revenge so he tries to kill Maleficent. First he had a metal trap. Then Maleficent makes Theodore a dragon so she escapes. Then the king becomes a knight clad in metal. Then they fight. Aurora takes Maleficent’s wings out of a glass case. Then Maleficent has wings. Then Maleficent and the king goes straight out of the castle through the stained glass windows, like Severus Snape flying out in Deathly Hallows after McGonagall dueled with him. Then Maleficent and the king swerves down the tall tower, like Harry and Voldemort’s last fight. The king dies; Aurora builds a relationship with her guy; Maleficent makes Aurora queen in a merger between humans and the magical creatures. All is well; the end!

Things I like about the movie:
1. Maleficent’s cheeks!
2. Maleficent’s cheekbones!
3. Maleficent’s horns!
4. Maleficent’s lips!
5. Maleficent’s wings!
6. Maleficent’s body suit!
7. Maleficent calling Aurora “Beastie”!
8. Imelda Staunton as a pink fairy!
9. Theodore!
10. The cute Disney trolls!
11. The moor!

Things I don’t like about the movie:

1. The story.
2. The king!
3. Maleficent being not recognized as a harpy!
4. Everything Harry-Potter-like!

  • 4.1. The castle looking like Hogwarts!
  • 4.2. Flying out of the stained glass windows! (That was a patented Severus Snape move!)
  • 4.3. Enemies swerving down a tower! (That was a patented Harry-Voldemort move!)
  • 4.4. The king falling off! (That was a patented Dumbledore move!)

5. Everything Narnia-like!

  • 5.1. The knights!
  • 5.2. The humans fraternizing with magical creatures!

6. Everything LOTR/The Hobbit-like!

  • 6.1. The magical trees!
  • 6.2. The goofy acting!
  • 6.3. Smaug-like dragon!

 

FINAL VERDICT: Before writing this, I was resolved on not loving it. So I will have to stay with I DID NOT LOVE IT. But thinking about it again, I think I LIKE IT. For me, it’s 2 of 5. It’s a grower for me I guess. Tomorrow it’s going to be 3 of 5!

Shame (2011)

This is a story of a New York executive with a secret addiction to sex. He goes on with life until things change after his sister moves in with him, intending to stay indefinitely.

Michael Fassbender – as in Magneto, and the tyrant to Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Eijofor in 12 Years a Slave – was so fascinating. He was charming, scary and vulnerable. He should have gotten an Oscar nomination for this.

Carrey Mulligan was classy, zany and vulnerable. Her rendition of the song “New York, New York” speaks much of the mood for the film. New York is depicted as this sad, straight-forward yet secretive place.

Just like in 12 Years, Steve McQueen gives amazing visuals in Shame – clean, clear shots with lots of sepia and gray lights. My favorite shot in 12 Years has Chiwetel Eijofor – chained, writhing and shouting to get out – stuck in a small underground contraption with small rays of sunlight seeping through holes. In Shame, my favorite shot involves Michael Fassbender sleepless, breaking down early in the morning along a decrypt New York street, mortified of the thoughts in his head.

The Fault in Our Stars (2014): Song-scene Predictions!

(UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE! Here’s the post to confirm the soundtrack placements in the The Fault in Our Stars movie.)

The Fault in Our Stars is my second favorite John Green novel. It is my second as I prefer Looking for Alaska more – a story of deeply troubled school kids sunk into vices and pranks; the very probable things I’m in awe of but would never want and dare to happen unto myself. Nonetheless I know The Fault in Our Stars is special. One, it features one of the most likeable romantic pairings in the Young Adult world – Hazel and Gus. Two, it chronicles with respect and fascination the journey of cancer patients. Three, Green makes metaphysics like street talk through his characters. And lastly, the novel depicts Amsterdam beautifully.

With the upcoming release of its movie adaptation in June, I am one of the thousands who did look after the soundtrack list. I believe the success of any Y.A. movie relies much to the story, the acting and the soundtrack – the soundtrack being the most accountable for its charm. Take the movie Juno for example: It was so charming because of Ellen Paige, Michael Cera, and its cute, crafty songs.

So to prepare myself in immersing fully to The Fault in Our Stars movie experience come June 5, I decided to listen intently to its songs.

All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran. This first track speaks spot on of the love that makes Hazel and Gus travel across Amsterdam. The song capitalizes much on the impression a person first gets upon the title ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ – a night of star-gazing and pondering. And with Ed Sheeran singing, this folk-pop song nails being charming.

Movie use prediction: Maybe at the credits.

Simple as This by Jake Bugg. This second track is the first song I’ve ever heard of from Jake Bugg, whom now I am interested of hearing more from. The title of the song is its gist – we do several things to come about with something simple.

Movie use prediction: Maybe behind a montage introducing their town with Hazel narrating.

Let Me In by Grouplove. This third track reminds me of color purple, blurring lights, and the hour immediately after sunset.

Movie use prediction: Maybe during that first car ride Gus and Hazel shares.

Tee Shirt by Birdy. This fourth track features Birdy’s sweet vocals on a song about a girl infatuated much to a boy on first sight.

Movie use prediction: Maybe Hazel locked in her room, thinking of Gus, after that semi-date right after support group meeting where they meet the first time. A la Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton in Fight Club, yikes!

All I Want by Kodaline. This fifth track is Coldplay-ish – manly and ethereal.

Movie use prediction: Maybe when somebody from support group dies. Or a friend is gets blind.

Long Way Down by Tom Odell. This sixth track features some strong vocals over a song about a man reminiscing his moments with his girl.

Movie use prediction: Maybe that point when Hazel gets weak and stays at the hospital.

Boom Clap by Charli XCX. This seventh song is quite an up-beat song of what the heart sounds like when in love. I think Demi Lovato agrees.

Movie use prediction: Maybe while they’re playing a particular video game.

While I’m Alive by STRFKR. This eight song is an upbeat song celebrating the celebrated modern philosophy YOLO.

Movie use prediction: Maybe during a carefree car ride leading to Gus and friends’ fit of throwing stuff on an friend’s ex-girlfriend’s car.

*For some reason I do not have a copy of the ninth song Oblivion by Indians.

Strange Things Will Happen by The Radio Dept. This tenth song is a duet with hints of bubbles popping, soft tunes, strings and set with very, very light cymbals constantly tinkling.

Movie use prediction: It sounds quite Euro-pop to me so maybe during a walk on the streets of Amsterdam.

Bom Falle Ralla by Afasi and Filthy. This is a Dutch hip-hop song.

Movie use prediction: This is a no-brainer. Van Houten will ramble about the philosophical leanings of this song to Gus and Hazel.

Without Words by Ray LaMontagne. This song is comforting. It talks positively about life despite its crossroads.

Movie use prediction: Maybe when Gus tries to comfort Hazel from being so disappointed of meeting Van Houten.

Not About Angels by Birdy. This song features Birdy in soulful vocals singing to a lover not to give up.

Movie use prediction: Sounds quite ambiguous to me. I have three: Maybe when you-know-who is in the brink of you-know-what; or maybe during that trip to the Anne Frank House; or that ‘dance’ at the hotel.

No One Ever Loved by Lykke Li. This fourteenth song sounds warm and steamy.

Movie use prediction: Maybe while Hazel looks into a sleeping Gus after they did it.

Wait by M83. The fifteenth song is another manly, ethereal number.

Movie use prediction: Maybe at you-know-who’s you-know-what.

So I guess a lot of those songs are pretty much ambiguous that I just can’t point at which specific part of the plot each song goes, but I’m sure of Bom Falle Ralla though. That’s all!

Divergent: The Movie (2014) and The Book (2011)

I watched Divergent weeks ago oblivious of the world YA author Veronica Roth opened. I heard some friends mention the book before yet it is only a couple of days ago that I thought I wanted to read it. And the myth quite applied to this – the book was better than the movie adaptation.

In fairness to the production, I thought they quite did a fairly good job adapting the book considering its fast and very particular elements of a dystopian post-apocalyptic world.

I thought that in the world of Divergent, I would have lived with Candor. So as a fan and person who operates with a rational mind, I would like to speak my views on how Divergent was and could have been adapted as a film.

On the big picture, I hoped Divergent was more of a well-built, character-driven, coming-of-age movie, than a sci-fi-action movie that it is.

First, since the series was thought to be made in four parts, I think it is best to establish the characters and the environment – physical, political and economic – really well in the first movie, with less of the action it so wanted. The core of the first book Divergent in the Divergent series deals with Beatrice’s changes and realizations. In short, she is the best thing about the book – her personality, relationships and reactions – and not particularly all the raucousness in the plot.

The movie started with a montage of the FIVE factions in dystopian Chicago. I’m a three year old and I did not understand until I read Wikipedia. This montage was a critical part of the movie and I though it could have improved with emphasis – like Citizen Kane opening montage emphasis.

The movie spent most of its time showing Dauntless paramilitary training yet a lot of those scenes quite missed the point. Veronica Roth placed the training segments to show the changes that happen in Tris, her friendship and hatred towards fellow initiates, her realizations towards the factions, and her looming romantic relationship with Four. There were too many visuals that lacked sense and compassion.

Second, there are gaps with characterization. There are characters from the book not (or less) featured in the film. The main characters Beatrice and Four are underdeveloped.

I believe Shailene Woodley could have delivered a Beatrice with more nuisances than this. I remember her doing her thing in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now. She sure could pull some sort of what Jennifer Lawrence does in the Hunger Games series.

Four’s affection towards Tris could have looked more obvious. I remember getting amazed at their first kiss – not because it looked a piece of art, but because I thought, “Where the hell did that come from?”

On the other hand, the movie particularly nailed establishing the characters of Tory, Jeanine, and Peter. Miles Teller as Peter was spot-on perfect for the role. Tory was an effective vengeful Dauntless. And of course, the wonderful Kate Winslet just became the sinister Jeanine Matthews.

What I particularly enjoyed with Divergent were the clothes with the exception of those from Amity and Dauntless. I super dig Abnegation’s clothes! I know they are supposed to be some monks or something but they look super cool! They dress like sci-fi Middle Eastern people which I super like! I also like Candor and Erudite outfits – I dig office clothes! Now Dauntless don’t look too military-athletic-punk to me. Which it should. I have problems looking like McDonalds so you know my feelings towards Amity.

To put my views towards Divergence more clearly through movie references, I suggest the following in order of preference: (3) Wanted (2008) – Four and Tris quite have the dynamics of James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie’s characters; (2) The Amazing Spiderman (2012) – The coming-of-age archs at the beginning were prioritized, with sci-fi fantasy themes introduced slowly towards the middle; and (1) Hunger Games (2012) – The dystopian world, characters, customs and dynamics were presented more clearly in this movie.

I am excited on how they will present Insurgent. I did not like the Insurgent book as much as Divergent. I found it too plot-driven. That’s besides the point though.

If they do continue with an action-packed approach, then it would not be a problem anymore as the dystopian world was already introduced. They could make the plot flow as they want. I am interested on how they will present Insurgent as they sure have left lots of gaps in Divergent. They missed the characters of Edward and Uriah among others.

Starting Over Again (2014)

This is a Filipino rom-com that gives emphasis to moving on.

Time changes people. Only Severus Snape has the ability to love the same person forever. Because he is from Slytherin where love is more like obsession than what it really is. Hahaha, what am I saying.

This has an interesting premise set to cheesy sequences. Iza Calzado gives a powerful performance.

In Time (2011)

In a world where time is a commodity, a poor man falls in love with a rich girl, and seeks to break this economic notion that divides them all.

Nah, what am I saying. I was floored by the underlying notion of the movie – a world where no diseases exist, aging stops at 21, and time is practically life.

La Vie En Rose (2007)

It tells the story of the French singer Edith Piaf.

It was a wonderful story of successes and downfalls played beautifully by Marion Cotillard. I have only seen Marion Cotillard once in Inception and I was floored by her. I know too that she was an endorser for Dior.

But her performance in La Vie En Rose was something. She practically embraced Edith Piaf’s persona in this movie.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Based on a true story, a young woman always lucidly takes part in instances with her mates in a mental institution.

Winona Ryder had the lead role. She was so pale and always frantic. Angelina Jolie grabbed an Academy award for best supporting actress in this movie. Yeah, she was good. On several ocassions I had the song Que Sera Sera on replay in my mind.

50/50 (2011)

This is a story of a young man and his battle against cancer.

That one sentence description may make the movie sound corny (this sort of review totally is) but the truth is it wasn’t. It was practically cool, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivered well.

Hanna (2011)

This is a story of a girl as she finds out that she was intended to exist as a military weapon.

In 2012 I have watched Hanna, my initial impression was how “Euro country-slash-industrial” the movie is. The production design, cinematography and, most importantly, the score makes up for the vibe. I have seen several brochures from Ikea and a few copies of *Wallpaper and to me those practically make up for the experience with Hanna.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 (2014): Spider-man, Gwen, Electrode, Green Goblin and Rhino!

SPOILER ALERT.

So I watched The Amazing Spider-man 2 yesterday and liked it.

I know how it got average ratings, and “lukewarm” attention from American audiences, but it sure is kind of a big hit in the Asian market. For someone like me – Asian, lives in Asia and does not speak and hear English that much, the story comes across quite well. The language was simple and clear, and most importantly I got some good laughs.

I do understand why some American viewers feel cold over ASM2. The story is a bit off in some places, although I think this one has better plotting than the first one.

Let me put it this way: the first movie had more coming-of-age archs than sci-fi fantasy. So that was like 60% Peter Parker as an orphan, a troubled teenager and a lover, and 40% Spider-man who takes revenge to those who killed his uncle and finishes off an Oscorp scientist-slash-lizard. This one, ASM2, is 30% Peter Parker who searches for the truth about his parents, a former friend to a villain, and a lover to Gwen, and 70% Spider-man who fights against Electrode, Green Goblin and Rhino.

In the first movie of this franchise, the coming-of-age archs were wonderful. I believe the director Mark Webber does these archs too well as what he had shown with his first movie 500 Days of Summer. However, the lizard plot was I believe not nice at all – a bit boring really. So with the first movie on hand, I was expecting more Peter-Gwen screen-time for the sequel. Although, yeah, it may not look as much of a Spiderman movie as it should.

This second movie though has less Peter-Gwen screen-time yet has more villains. Yeah, the Spider-man movie as it should be. This movie featured three direct ones, and opened for more. I believe the CGI improved a whole lot, and I must say I had a blast. Electrode emits blue light too much which I really like.

The ending was just quite sad as Gwen dies. I like Emma Stone as Gwen. She is charming and all. When Gwen dropped off the clock tower and was hanging off inches from the floor by Spider-man’s web, I thought she may have survived. But nope, she did not, and I was sad. Now Mary Jane, played by Shailene Woodley in some deleted scenes, is set to join in the third movie. But in an interview, she stated she may opt not to join this time. If I was somebody like Woodley already a figure, got casted, shot scenes, marketed the movie, yet my scenes were deleted, I may have had ill feelings for the production too. But I really hope it goes out well – I want to see her in the third one. She joining the movie would relive the coming-of-age archs that Spider-man movies do well at.

And also, I think this franchise needs more one liners or quotes. I miss the great clichés of the past franchise. People should always be reminded of their humanity! We need clichés! Yeah!

In all, I think I had a great time and it was money well spent!

Bad Teacher (2011)

“A lazy, incompetent middle school teacher who hates her job and her students is forced to return to her job to make enough money for a boob job after her rich fiancé dumps her. (IMDB)

Well I do regard teachers highly but this movie is fun and great for laughs. A cool teacher or anybody cool for that matter is self-deprecating and all that sh*t.