Friday, December 28, 2007

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Released by: 20th Century Fox

"Alvin and the Chipmunks" is a film about a man who adapts 3 singing squirrels.

Intended for children, this is generally a "feel-good" movie. Though extremely lacking in a sensible script, they are enjoyable to watch and made for entertainment using digital technology. At long last, the classic characters "Alvin, Theodore, and Simon" were brought to life; their presence brings a lot of good memories, and they recall to mind the vivaciousness of Alvin and the unique altered voices of the trio whose albums, including one produced for Christmas, were instant hits.

The character "Alvin" might not be too appropriate for children for he simulates "Dennis, the Menace", but generally, the film can inspire families to appreciate what it means to be one, including parenthood and the gift of children. Beyond all successes, the basic realities of love and family are still the most treasured gifts of all.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I am legend

Starring: Will Smith
Released by: Warner Brothers

"I am Legend" is a story of a man who searches for the antidote to a virus that has inflicted almost, if not, all of the residents of futuristic New York.

Will Smith is truly the x-factor that contributed to the overhwelming success of this film with his all-natural acting. Also, creating futuristic, barbaric New York is amazing, with streets and buildings corrupted by time. The script is seamless and believable; overall you'll be entertained watching this film.

This film exposes the tremendous contributions of scientific inventions; but they are also potential sources of the death of humankind. Somewhere along the film is the struggle between man's ingenuity and God's power - when will man stop playing the role of God? Eventually, there's a significant part of the film that calls of a subtle resignation to God's will The various symbols effectively represent the role of the Divine in the life of humanity; we just have to "listen".

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass is a story of a orphaned girl who wants to go up north to witness a parallel world whose knowledge about it is kept hidden from many by the magisterium.

One cannot deny how much is spent for this movie given its digital effects and other factors which makes it as truly an entertaining piece of art. The screenplay is precise, written in the language of the children and the music makes one jump up from his chair and be moved to action. The cast performed its role quite well. Cinematography is excellent. Visual language through film does give the imagination some degree of satisfaction.

Many controversial issues have been raised about the film before its showing, some based on religious arguments, others, whether it could be at par with the Lord of the Rings.

It is true that some aspects of the film are worth commending e.g., the intimate relationship between humans and their daemons in animal form. Hurt one and you hurt them both. Whatever they symbolize, it seems like the daemon is a person's best friend; he is something that represents his very self. Another example is how the film values friendship and loyalty.

However, the writer's concept of the truth as something that others want to be kept hidden needs to treated with a grain of salt. Could others become so powerful for so long as to hide the truth and keep the rest in the darkness of ignorance? Or could it be that truth cannot be manipulated, for truth sets everyone free? If it were the former, then the viewers, especially the children are forewarned about seeing this film considering that the writer who is intent on guarding the truth represented by the golden compass may actually be the one "manipulating" the viewers' minds to see truth the way he see it.

As such, the stereotypical of the battle between good and evil may not be stereotypical at all; its visual symbols needs to be examined under watchful eyes.

Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, September 14, 2007

Evan Almighty

"Evan Almighty" is a story of a Evan Baxter who prayed to change the world and the Lord answering his prayers in the most unpopular way possible!

“Evan Almighty” is a timely sequel to 2003's "Bruce Almighty" with a creative twist, nemesis Evan Baxter gets to receive God's prank! Although we kinda missed Jim Carrey, Steve Carell puts on his unique rendition of a man who talks to God. The animation worked pretty well, and we are satisfactorily entertained by harmonious display of animals. All in all, the film is fast-paced and should be slowed down to give way to more emotions.

But beyond all technicalities, Evan Almighty is an example of how religious themes could be as relevant and as entertaining as with other genres using digital animation and still get their message across millions of audience both young and old. God is alive here and now, and the messages as old as Noah will find their way to the present.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, August 24, 2007


It is a story about a young man who traverses the other side of the wall of London to capture the star for the girl he loves.

Stardust is a classic made by a modern day novelist Neil Gaiman. Simulating C. S. Lewis' "Narnia" and Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" makes this movie admirable. It transcends fantasy that appeals to children to the world of spiritual symbols for the adults to ponder deeply. The screenplay then becomes seamless and believable; its effects stunning. Much more, the characters make this film human and entertaining.

Stardust speaks of a spiritual truth of "Someone out there looking down on us like the stars in the sky." How true it is when we question who's looking at whom, us looking at the stars or vice versa? When we look at things from the point of view of stars we begin the understand the greater picture of what life means and what love is all about. Even the stars become lonely when they see wars and conflicts envelop the earth. The star points to God and our desire to reach Him.

Rating: 5 / 5

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Malu Fernandez tragedy: Hurray to Pinoy Bloggers!

Ever since Malu Fernandez wrote the infamous article in People Asia Magazine deriding OFWs, Boracay, and the Philippines itself as Third World, Filipino bloggers and internet users have banded as one in demanding that Manila Standard / People Asia Magazine either compel Malu to apologize to the public or to fire her for her irresponsible, unprofessional, and even unskilled writing abilities that produced nothing except junk, anger, and prejudice against fellow Filipinos.

To date, neither Manila Standard hasn't done any of these nor Malu Fernandez apologized. Instead, she defended herself in her article entitled “Am I a diva? Or do you lack common sense?”

They only enhanced traditional media's "one-way" downward approach of bringing its news and issues. But they only continue to lend deaf ears to thousands of readers who are very irate by now because of their insensitivity to OFWs, including families and friends. They may have a list of email addresses or a "feedback section" by which readers could air their grievances, but we still see the trapo mentality of "those who have the money have the only authority to give the message to the readers".

This inadequacy of traditional media just solidified the ground for an alternative, more promising and relevant mass-based form of public expression - blogging. Search anything about "Malu Fernandez" on google or yahoogroups and you'd see thousands of bloggers condemning her prejudicial outlook against hard-working Filipinos who by far are the ones saving our country from financial disaster. This may also signal the end of traditional media and the blossoming of real media which represents more concretely the sentiments of the masses who have very limited access in a highly-valued page of a newspaper.

The blog can be an arena for the sharing of ideas of many instead of just a small number of people who think that they are the only ones who have the authority to write. The concept of chosen editorial writers are now a thing of the past simply because the convention of representing a common sentiment simply doesn't hold water.

Pinoy blogging also brings out the developing identity of the Pinoy which Ms. Fernandez totally overlooked because of her narrow-minded view of the Filipino psyche. The real Filipino is not just a passive receptor or a victim of those who have power or riches. Now, the majority of the Filipinos start to speak out their displeasure of things and people. They openly condemn any form of discrimination against fellow Filipinos, and don't give a damn whether they are rich or poor, have or have-not. For them, it's time to break the barriers set up by people like Malu Fernandez. Now, we are certain that there is a Filipino identity that treats everyone else EQUAL with no conditions whatsoever.

Though Ms. Fernandez explained that her article is intended only for an "elite" few, don't believe every word she says. The moment an article goes into the press, it begins to be a public property and is subject to feedback, whether criticism or praise. That's why it's called mass media. She is not writing her personal diary and locked up in her dark room. Otherwise, such writer might not have any "common sense", or a sense of the "common."

Finally, media institutions should humble themselves and open their eyes to the reality that they don't have the monopoly of information, but only a speck or a fragment of it. They should stop using mass media for profit by putting on some cheap stunt. Otherwise, let them warn the readers by putting up a warning sign, "The articles presented here do not represent the sentiment of the company; rather, they are figments of writer's own imagination." The ordinary person's article on a blog is as relevant as what is written in major dailies or magazines.

The readers should also be aware of this new reality before they buy a newspaper. If the newspaper doesn't resonate with their sentiments, let them boycott them altogether. Unless Malu Fernandez and / or Manila Standard make just retribution to the Filipinos, in particular to the OFWs and their families, they will only fall on the verge of oblivion and irrelevance.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rush Hour III

A Chinese inspector and an American policeman meet again to search the Chinese Ambassador's assassin. All clues lead to Paris.

Rush Hour III is purely about entertainment, zany lines, and Jacky Chan's amazing stunts. But the investigative wonders fall sharply backwards as compared with the more complicated crime stories of the Ocean's Thirteen and Bourne Ultimatum. What results then is slapstick comedy with amazing lines from Chris Tucker.

Beyond the entertainment value is the issue of friendship and brotherhood. As time goes by, relationships do become sweeter and stronger.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons just hit the big screen, with Homer "doing it again!" and causing havoc to the environment. It jeopardizes the health of the whole town that President Schwarzenegger decides to seal Springfield with a big plastic dome.

Though the Simpons are noted for being campy, creating endless surprises and amazement among the audience, it didn't quite reach the "campiness" level it deserves. It may have chosen an appropriate and a timely theme, but it didn't tackle it that effectively. It fell back to the level of an ordinary cartoon situation failing to rise above its expected depth and style.

One would show the using Simpson conventions of undoing every problem they have done. Beyond that, Ned Flanders may be the man of the show, as he would provide what Bart sorely needs - a caring father. It's true that Homer is hilarious and ridiculous. But he may have been a bit too much for the audience to handle.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum

It's Matt Damon's third part of the Bourne film titled "Bourne Ulitmatum", a story of Jason Bourne dodging new, superior assassins as he searches for his unknown past while a government agent tries to track him down.

It's so consistent with the first two parts and ties the whole trilogy seamlessly. Though there may be a lot of impossibilities with this fiction movie, it can effectively get the audiences' approval. Matt fits the role consistently as he did in the past.

Intended for adult audiences because of its violent scenes, it would even be advisable for them to be more critical about the film. It did succeed in portraying violence in a Hollywood style, action-packed way, but still, violence is violence, especially when it comes to getting away from the law. The film dwells on sensitive issues as brainwashing, retaliation, and violence. No amount of reasoning can justify a violent act. Sooner or later, the film has to opt for a way to end the cycle of violence. In a way, "Bourne Ultimatum" showed that.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kudos to Leah Salonga

I've been priviledged to watch Leah Salonga perform the role of Fantine in the Broadway musical Les Miserable two weeks ago.

She definitely exceeded the other artists in her quality of voice and her rendition of the role of a poor woman who had to sell even herself to support her child.

Watching her perform on stage made me feel proud especially when she sang "I Dream a Dream".

To Leah, congratulations!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Hairspray is a musical turned into film about a highschool plumb teenager who faces the obstacles of discrimination against black and over bias for beautiful tall, white races to get into the hip TV show for teens.

Nicky Blonsky is a natural - her smile, her dyanamism, her voice. She is definitely the right choice for the character of Tracy. Although the casting director made an excellent job in choosing all the actors and actresses led by John Travolta and Michelle Pfiefer. The songs are all excellent. The film in general is an excellently crafted film.

Content-wise, this film is totally admirable. Its seamless screenplay effectively brings the message across. While it tackles the serious issue of discrimination, it brings it to an inspiring conclusion that is favorable to the audience.

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, July 20, 2007


"Transformers" is a story of robot-like creatures-at- war from another planet that make their way to earth to recover the cube that is the source of life and power.

The wonders of digital technology today made it possible to produce so effectively the animated series years ago. And the best person to supervise its animation is Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Pictures. The story is fast-paced with excellent special effects, particularly the scene in New York City and the excellent display of military and airforce arsenal. However, too much robotics may render the screenplay difficult to bring out the human emotions. Also, Shia's character "Sam Witwicky" is so awfully irritating that is hard to empathize with him. Megan's character "Mikaela" lacks luster in her acting that she remains to be a pretty face.

It's an action - adventure film worth spending some time being entertained to but lacking in emotional depth. If these robots would have more heart, then it could have brought this film to a deeper level. The trite concept of the battle between good and evil made the film quite flat. At least, it's still a consolation that "good triumphs over evil". Always.

Rating: 3

Monday, July 16, 2007


Ratatouille is a story of rat who wants to do what "anbody can do": cook.

Pixar is definitely "a leader" in producing digital animation. Though the medium is for children, its message could be so profound as its interpretation would be left to adults, film study critics, and those who know the film language.

Simply put, no one could ever imagine a rat washing his hands to cook. No matter how he washes his hands, he would still be in fact "a rat". His very nature would make this film totally "unrealistic."

But the film wants to deliver something much more than rats cooking. France, a country known for its exquisite recipes, would be the backdrop symbolic of the Western, "cultured" countries on one hand and the budding, potential cultures of all other countries other than the "First world". More concretely, this film produced in the United States which is increasingly becoming a melting pot of diverse cultures has to confront itself with the inevitable reality of "multi-culturalism".

"Ratatouille" is a statement hard to digest. Even the writers seem to experience great difficulty in resolving the age-old issue confronting the United States: discrimination. But let the audience decide on what road to take after watching the film, on what attitudes they should have as regards respecting other cultures, and how cultures can enrich each other. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix is the 5th episode of a growing boy who in training to be a wizard encounters the dreaded Lord Voldemort. Also his Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry encounters harsh trials as the the Conservative Ministry of Magic Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge implements radical reforms against the students.

The script is excellent. And so is the characterization as it fits the growing Harry Potter into adulthood. The special effects are unquestionable. The film is totally entertaining.

Again, one should see beyond magic and spells even though they are used as instruments for good or evil. The more relevant part is the importance of friends and family to as means of support or even survival. How true is the saying, "Love conquers all" even death.

Parents have to constantly educate their children that realistic as they may seem, magic and wizardly and spells are products of a fictitious mind and have no implications on the moral life.

Rating: 3

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ocean's thirteen

It's part 3 of the "Ocean" team stealing valuable treasure while in competition with high-caliber thieves. This time, they are to help their friend who was tricked by his partner in launching a new hotel in Las Vegas.

Excellent script! The team also is commended for bringing the exciting script to reality. It's amazing how they can team up, plan for a strategy even though the enemy seemed formidable.

The only thing negative with the film is the reality of stealing no matter how noble it is to help a friend. Whether it is stealing for a cause, or to help a friend, or to fight a criminal, stealing is still stealing. Much more when the thieves are performed by captivating actors admired by the public.

Excellent scripts cannot compromise for wrong values promoted by the film.

Rating: 2/5


"Next" is a story of a man who can see up to two minutes of the future to save the woman she loves.

It has stunning special effects, especially the multiplication of the character of Nicholas Cage. Jessica Biel acted satisfactorily. Otherwise, there's not much amazing thing going on in this sci-fi movie.

"What if you can see the future" is the theme of "Next", can you do something? You may not be able to change the world, Cage says, but you can change yourself.

Rating: 3/5

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

It's the Fantastic Four once again confronting an alien creature out to destroy the earth: the Silver Surfer who is more deadly, more powerful than their 4 powers combined.

Marvel Comics sure are making money from their past investments: the comic heroes finding their way to the movies. With the conflict happening in Iraq and the terrorist scare, it seemed that ordinary citizens would appreciate having heroes around to conquer evil.

But evil seems to be insurmountable. In this film, not even the combined powers of the Fantastic Four could counteract the Destroyer of the earth. In this case, extraordinary powers become useless; only the natural strength of the human heart and the human will can do that. All people have these things: courage and strength and nobility of character, and love. These are the powerful tools that can counteract evil.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pirates of the Caribbean 3 at world's end

Once again, Disney hasn't failed the public in producing part III of the Pirates of the Caribbean with the amazing trio Elizabeth, Will Smith and Jack Sparrow in a whole new amazing adventure while escaping death.

Using Hollywood style convention of pure entertainment with matching effects, the audience is driven to experience suspense, action, as well as love. Undeniably, POTC3 is another blockbuster just like its 2 other parts.

This film is recommended for people who are stressed out and needed to be entertained. The only value the film holds is in the area of love - for one's parents and loved ones. Otherwise, it would be futile to look for any deeper meaning of implications on real life in this film.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Apocalypto is a film of a man who after being captured to be offered to the gods, wants to escape to go back to his family no matter what the costs are.

Mel Gibson, the producer of "Apocalypto", succeeded to produce another film with the quality of "The Passion of the Christ". The film has excellent cinematography, fast acting; there's no boring moment. The screenplay is profound. To re-create the Maya civilization is a big challenge for the producers; they did quite well.

However, the film may have used too much Hollywood conventions and imposed it on the Mayan Civilization; the nemesis were portrayed as truly evil; there's too much feasting on blood and gore.

The message of Apocalypto does not lie on violence, but on the capacity to live with respect to human life. The reality of "family" is the strength of the film. Gibson also gave emphasis to the children. They were not held captives.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, February 09, 2007

Night at the Museum

Ben Stiller

Log: this is a story of man who was able to get a night job at the museum that creates havoc and all figures move into action.

Technical assessment:

Ben Stiller is a natural! He produces life in the character and brings together the pandemonium of characters and historical personalities.

This is truly a child's film for entertainment so count out the inconsistencies. It may be entertaining but there are lose ends. The script is as simple as it gets. The film has to capitalize on Stiller and the computer generated effects to lure the audience specially children to watch the movie.

Moral assessment:

Such film gives emphasis to the importance of learning. Targetted for children, the film brings the message home like taking pride even doing blue-collar jobs and the importance of education, plus the fact that we should always be proud of our parents.

But a profound message is also in for the adults - the wounds of history can still be healed if people of races, ages and beliefs all work together for the greater good.

rating: 3.5

photo taken from:

Friday, January 12, 2007

the pursuit of happyness

Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton

Christ Gardner (Will Smith) has hit rock bottom. Hoping against hope for his family to survive, he sells little needed bone density scanners. Inspired by a broker, applies for internship only to find out that he will not be receiving any salary for 6 months. His wife Linda gives up on him so he has to take his son Christopher wherever he goes. But all his resources are running out; his scanners have not been selling, and his landlord kicks him out of the house. The only thing keeping his spirits alive was to be able to pass the licensing exam for stockbrokers.

Will Smith and his son Jaden are the best picks for the role of Chris Gardner and his son Christopher. They already have the perfect chemistry for the roles. But Thandie's role cannot be relegated to second spot. The harmony of actors, script and cinematography makes way for the production of this great film.

There are films that give out the message that happiness is not found in possessing material things but in relationships. "The Pursuit of Happyness" runs counter to this predominant thought. The film takes great care not to overemphasize materialism. For one, Chris' family is really hard up; his wife left the family, and they had to survive each day just to live in a shelter and spend the night in public bathrooms and buses. However, "happyness" with a "y" does raise a childlike interest. Everyone deserves to be happy with the happiness of a child. And when it comes in a spur of the moment, it erases all sufferings combined. Yes, it's a wonderful feeling.

Rating: 3.5