"MOVIEHOUSE MADNESS" is when I review movies currently shown in theaters. Also, I rarely go to movie houses, but when I do, there are always face-palming incidences that make me regret going. So read on before you waste your ticket money while refreshing your memory of the ABCs of movie house etiquette!
Here are my spoiler-free reviews of Maleficent & X-Men: Days of Future Past and why you should (or shouldn't?) watch them. Oh and for one second I thought I saw Michael Jackson transform into a human ball of fire, but no, it's just Sunspot. O_O
|Directed by: Robert Stromberg (his directorial debut)|
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton (Beauty & the Beast, The Lion King)
Music by: James Newton Howard
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Running Time: 97 mins
Budget: $200 million
A weird thing happened a few minutes before the movie started. I actually saw a trailer of an "Annie" remake starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis. Annie as in the sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun - yes, that Annie! Annie blackified. Interesting.
Angelina Jolie is back and I don't care if she has horns or she is playing one of Disney's most evil villains. Maleficent has been my most-anticipated movie of 2014, not because I love dark fairytales or fantasy movies but simply because it has Jolie in it. I was really hopeful, at the same time very nervous (we know that this recent trend of "new take on an old fairy tale" usually backfires. Snowhite & the Huntsman, anyone? Oh and don't get me started on Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters! LOL).
I gotta be honest, the film in totality felt rushed & uneven. Visually speaking, the CGI overload was distracting. It's not bad, better than Jack the Giant Slayer that's for sure, but the overall flavor felt so cluttered and artificial. The Moors creatures are adorable though!
There are several factors that made this movie disappointing, if not a failure, but the ultimate crime they did in this big-budgeted fumble of a movie is the overuse of narration. I could only take so much storytelling from a boring voice and several minutes into the movie I was sitting, my mind slowly getting numb, while the lady next to me was busily munching on her extra crunchy corn chips, and I wonder - does Hollywood really think that the audience are stupid? Everything is spoon-fed. Please SHOW, don't tell. Considering it's Stromberg's directorialdebut, maybe it's his way of avoiding the seemingly intimidating task of just doing a few minutes worth of montage. I'm pretty sure half of the film would be unnecessary if they did less narration. That way, Stromberg could have added more interaction between Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty - I totally enjoyed Vivienne's scene with Jolie, and I would have appreciated more scenes like that.
As the credits rolled, I felt nothing. In fact, I have forgotten half of the film already. The first act was kind of shaky for me, like I wasn't too sure what to feel - should I be bored or what? I really didn't know. Add in Sharlto Copley's weird accent that was so distracting that if it's possible to reach in and grab his messy hair I would have - so I could've karate-chopped his adam's apple! I don't know if he really has some foreign accent in real life, but it's like he's destined to play characters with weird distracting squeaky voices/accents. Yeah, he totally ruined the Oldboy remake for me. Elle Fanning, while being a good actress in her other films, seemed to pale in comparison whenever she's sharing screen time with Jolie. It also seems like she was just an afterthought when they made the screenplay - like "oh wait, we forgot to add Sleeping Beauty! You know, the actual protagonist in the story?" Yeah. Her character was so dry, Fanning really couldn't do much but skippity hop in the moors playing with troll-like gremlin-ish creatures. Baby Aurora had more character development than her. It felt like a big chunk of the film was spent showing Maleficent blowing some fairy dust and making people sleep and make them float around like puppets. The ending was so blah I just wanted to get out of the cinema already. I mean what's up with (spoilers alert) pretty boy prince (who can't act even if a machine gun is pointed at him) making gooey eyes with the newly-crowned Not-so-sleepy-Sleeping Beauty after we have established the fact that his kiss didn't pass the "true love kiss"? I don't know what that means, except that maybe there really is no true love except parental love, so why not marry the first handsome prince to come our way? I don't know. I didn't get that.
I still feel that despite the shaky direction and screenplay (not to mention the sometimes cringe-worthy dialogue) it's still one of the better re-telling of a classic fairy tale. The sole reason for that is Angelina Jolie as the titular character. Suffice to say, she owned this role! I do think that this movie doesn't deserve her, but it's really nice to see her play a role that only the likes of Johnny Depp might consider, and kick ass with the limp material they provided her with. Without her, this film would be total trash. At least now we know she can do quirky costumed character roles. I could easily get lost and forget about the effects and side characters just by looking at her expressions. Okay, I admit that when she wailed a few times I thought it was a bit cheesy. But damn it she saved this film even if the jilted lover angle is so cliched!
Maleficent is not terrible. But with its ginormous budget and one of the biggest A-listers in the universe as the lead with a bunch of little popular names around her, and some seasoned technical people behind the camera/script, this could have been better. Way better than the lackluster spectacle (forgive the oxymoron) that it actually is.
My Rating: 3/5
Check out Pax & Zahara's cameo, Jolie's other kids, as some of the royal guests cowering in fear as Maleficent gatecrashed Princess Aurora's christening.
* * *
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
|Directed by: Bryan Singer|
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg
Music & Editing by: John Ottman (known for his collaborations with Singer)
Running Time: 131 mins
Budget: $200 million
I never planned to watch this on the cinema. The oversaturation of comicbook/sci-fi/robots/dystopian movies in the theaters is so nauseating that I make it a point NOT to waste my money for these CGI all-you-can-eat buffet (with the exception of a few select movies). I haven't even watched the last Wolverine origins, because seriously, how many more origins film will you make about Logan?!
But then I keep hearing that this is the best in the franchise. Fine! I removed my invisible blinkers & decided to see for myself what the fuss was all about.
I gotta say that I'm really glad that I did, and I wish I have seen it in IMAX. Though I was feeling petulant before the movie even started because the people surrounding me seemed intent on annoying me with their people noises & movements! There were actually two boys sitting on my left that kept on asking their weary mother a bunch of stupid questions like "Is that the blue girl, Mom?" with their squeaky high-pitched voices. And blue girl meaning Mystique, and no, it's not her, it's Beast. Don't you know Beast, boy?! I resisted the urge to pinch him in his chubby arm. Just kidding. Then here's where I resent the cellphone companies for putting FLASHLIGHT features in every phone! From start to finish, there are flashes of bright lights here and there because oh they're either looking at their food or the stairs or just for the heck of it they seem to like bright lights in the darkened cinema. And oh boy don't get me started on the lady behind us who thought that whispering makes it okay for taking a call in the middle of the movie. No sister, you're not whispering! And I'm glad that you're friend went to the wrong mall and that you used up all the pre-paid load of your other friend who lent you that phone you're using. -_-
Anyway, I couldn't explain the appeal this movie has, but there's something different in Days of Future Past. I'm not sure, but I think DoFP is more playful in terms of direction and narrative while retaining its serious tone - it's a perfect balance. And while Logan takes center stage, yet again, I love the fact that he shared it with the others.
There are three scenes that really caught my attention and made my butthole smile (or grin, whatever):
1. QUICKSILVER. Good lord that was awesome! I so wanted to stand up and clap and cheer but what I actually did was clench my butt and tried to hide my excitement. I would look like a dork if I ever did that - the standing ovation, not the butt-clenching. The slo-mo scene accompanied by a seemingly random Jim Croce song reminded me of The Matrix & Quentin Tarantino and I mean that in a good way. So good that I almost peed my pants. Evan Peters as Quicksilver looks so dorky & pale (a miscast at first sight) that when he actually proved that he's the coolest guy in the block, the surprise and joy I felt was overwhelming. I want more of him.
2. Magneto wearing a fedora. Sure, the helmet rocks. But seeing Fassbender in a fedora just made my intestines tingle with delight! And isn't amazing that after years of incarceration in the lowest, most-secured part of Pentagon, good ol' Mags still looks so spiffy & well-groomed?!
3. Magneto's speech. I know that X-Men is mainly about mutants trying to co-exist with humans (or how both sides try to wipe out each other's race), but I felt that there's something deeper than a silly comicbook story in Magneto's speech. It's like he's speaking to anyone that has ever felt different, an outcast, misunderstood. I wouldn't dwell on this issue, but I've read an article before & it listed X-Men as a movie that's a metaphor for homosexuality. Of course, it probably is just about him recruiting his fellow mutants and forming his own band of anti-heroes - the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But phrases such as "they fear us because they don't understand/know us", "it's time to come out", "We've been hiding for too long" blah blah that points out that it's time for them to stand up and be proud of what & who they are, that the discrimination must end now, and they must never ever allow anyone to intimidate them again - there's something more to it than a simple recruitment speech. Here's another article that further proves that homo-angle.
In conclusion, DoFP is best seen in theaters and is well worth your ticket money, believe me. Hugh Assman, I mean Jackman, is even more awesome as Wolvie, if that's possible (and I feel sorry for the guy who has to play this role in the reboot - many years in the future - because it's almost impossible to outLogan Jackman's Logan.) Fassie & McAvoy are so cute together I almost have the urge to ship them. Jennifer Lawrence as Smurfette, erm, Mystique delivers a solid performance as one of the central characters. Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart of course are the coolest old dudes I have ever seen! Peter Dinklage as the mutant-phobic Bolivar Trask also nailed it! Hell yeah DICKlage! I love the cast & characters (Bishop!) and I'm glad that Singer gave us new characters (with enough screentime) and mixed them with the old gang. The only thing that made me a bit sad is seeing less of the original cast (and for a few seconds of musing, I felt bad for Halle Berry - if this is the direction her career is veering to: white-haired, contact-lens-wearing costumed mutant with only two lines, then my god my heart hurts). Another thing that I loved is the fact that there was a lot of history-meddling - aside from the gang trying to re-write history, Singer also tries to mess with our own history adding the JFK part and whatnot. I love it.
One last thing, I really really wanted to hear the intro of the 90's X-Men cartoons so bad I was actually praying to God during that scene when the Sentinels were activated! I thought I heard some familiar beat and I was expectant. The disappointment I felt when there was none was devastating. That's one of the reasons why I'm giving this a lower rating. LOL.
My Rating: 4.5/5
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