2019

Maria (2019)

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FILM INFO

FILM INFO

When a former Black Rose cartel assassin deliberately betrays them by refusing to complete her mission, the cartel orders her execution. Unknown to them, she fakes her own death and is able to create a new life of her own. When the cartel discovers she is alive, the hunter becomes the hunted as she fights to get revenge on those who took her new life away from her. This movie is directed by Pedring Lopez under Viva Films.

CAST: Cristine Reyes, Germaine De Leon, Adrea del Rosario, Ronnie Lazaro, Johnny Revilla, Cindy Miranda, Freddie Webb, Guji Lorenzana, Jennifer Lee & KC Montero.

GENRE: Action, Thriller

WHAT I LIKE?

Maria is truly one of the breakthrough Action Films after Buybust. I really admire the effort and the creativity poured in making this film. What I like about Maria is the fact that it was consistent with its R-16 content. Violent. Brutal. Gory. Anything you expect from its plot full of killings & betrayal is laid down very well. True to its premise, Maria is a complete bloodbath showcasing impressive and well-executed man-to-man fight scenes and some pretty amazing stunts & Cinematography. Well, I really adore the fight scenes between Cristine & Jennifer & Ivan & Cristine. These scenes are truly one of the film’s strengths. Aside from solid stunts & fight scenes, the plot of the movie is also relatable as it tackled drug syndicates and assassins in the Philippine setting. The Sequences were presented well and the Conflict of the whole story was justified from beginning to end. What I like about Maria is the fact that the whole film really invested on Production Design & Action Sequences. I didn’t see any cringe-worthy scenes at all. Well, the drama of loss was injected well to fire up Maria’s revenge plot. I must say, I admire Cristine Reyes for this role. She was born for this. She was a perfect fit. I couldn’t think of anyone who could portray MARIA other than her. Her action scenes were natural and were executed seamlessly.  Ivan Padilla & KC Montero were effective villains. Oh! I must say that their English Conversations were just so lovely to watch on screen. At some point, I can imagine watching a Hollywood movie. Their actions scenes were also great. Freddie Webb was also good on his portrayal as the Master Villain even with the absence of action scenes from him. Overall, MARIA is something we could truly be proud of. How I wish many more audience could watch this movie. Wait, its R-16 by the way.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

It may be a little bit similar to other Hollywood Movies with the Revenge plot formula but I must say that MARIA was able to put a Pinoy taste as a whole. The whole movie is graphically-disturbing thus the R-16 Rating.

RATINGS:

10/10 POPCORN

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2018

Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story)

SID & AYA

FILM INFO

Sid met Aya, a mysterious woman whom he met after asking to spend time with him as he battles insomnia and those long & empty nights. This movie is directed by Irene Emma Villamor under Viva Films.

Casts: Dingdong Dantes, Anne Curtis, Gabby Eigenmann, Cholo Barreto, Bubbles Paraiso, Josef Elizalde, Pio Balbuena, Gab Lagman, Joey Marquez, Jobelle Salvador & Johnny Revilla.

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Sid and Aya is indeed not a love story. The movie is a life story. It teaches us to take risk for the persons we love. The movie is pragmatic and straightforward. It gives us a different kind of views in love and in life. It was raw and realistic. The status inequality was laid down well along with the contrast of characters between Sid & Aya. Sid being an established, well-mannered, handsome and arrogant person at the peak of his career. He is a go-getter and very determined in his goals. Aya, a hardworking middle-class woman who is cool, jologs and outgoing person. She is a family-oriented person. I salute how the Director played creatively the contrast of the 2 main characters and made it look seemless as both of them flaw effortlessly on the film’s promise of love and happy endings. Sid and Aya is not your typical sugar-coated love story. With the addition of scenes in the workplace (PH Stocks Market, Laundry & Coffee Shop), these location add to the complexity and differences of the two characters living their own lives and crossing their path somewhere in between. Cinematography is on-point. Color Grading was perfect. The Japan Scenes were beautiful and impressive. The Soundtrack was great too. Everything is so smooth and flawless. Anne and Dingdon were such a joy to watch and I must say, their first time together on screen was a huge success. They were the film’s gem aside from the unconventional plot material. There is something deep and relevant about the ending. Its a thought-provoking and inspiring to say the least. Overall, I highly recommend Sid and Aya to everyone. 

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

How I wish the movie’s running time was longer. I was craving for more Anne and Dingdong’s scenes.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorn

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2018

Meet me in St. Gallen

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FILM INFO

Meet me in St. Gallen is a story of Celeste and Jesse who have found each other during the trying times of their lives. They spent a memorable night together and became separated for how many years. Their second chance of meeting again became special until they met each other at St. Gallen years after. This movie is directed by Emma Villamor under Spring Films and Viva Films.

Casts: Bella Padilla, Carlo Aquino

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Meet me in St. Gallen is a good addition to the quality conversational Pinoy films ever made since “That Thing Called Tadhana’. I really loved that Filipino Film-makers are now taking risks with this kind of genre which usually brings out a well-produced and creative cinematic masterpieces to date. Overall, I fell in love with the movie. What I like about the movie is that its simplicity in terms of story-telling technique and overall plot material is supported with superb cinematography, great dialogues and a story that is deep, raw and very heartfelt. First of all, the plot is pretty much understandable. Its a story of two strangers met at a very random moment and eventually shared a nigh they won’t remember. As a whole, it is a story of chance encounters, timing and missed opportunities. I really like how the Director laid out the sincerity of the plot with the timelines presented in the movie. I would also like to commend the film’s Cinematography and sound engineering. The whole movie was done with artistry especially on the camera angles and shadows. The best part was of course the shot at St. Gallen which is by far my most memorable scene in the film. The whole backdrop was majestic and impressive. Of course, I also loved the Soundtrack especially the one with Moira’s. Since its a conversational film, the film usually invests on dialogues which the film did not disappoint from beginning to end. I was literally driven into a whole new kind of emotions listening to the words that come out from Jesse and Celeste. They were speaking on behalf of their souls and experiences. It was heartfelt and moving. The lines are relatable and engaging to the whole audience. Without spoiling the ending, I think the whole sequences were just right to give way to the climax. Despite three separate timelines, the movie never failed to create connections from one scene to another. Moreover, I also commend Bella and Carlo for such a strong chemistry together. Carlo being a musician and an aspiring Doctor was just so ideal for me. Carlo still has the charisma and the quality of acting that is worth your cinema ticket. Bella on the other hand never fails to impress me with her portrayal of a troubled artist wanting to be free of her own world. Bella was both charming and convincing for her role. Both of them both delivered their best performances and their connection with each other is undeniably strong.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Meet me in St. Gallen falls short in providing cohesive attachment for each scenes especially in the character developments of Jesse and Celeste. I think their was not much of the intensity given and invested on how the values and choices of the characters affected their confusing decision at each timelines they will meet again. Also, the climax will somehow let you question if what is the film trying to say to us? Well, it might be different with yours. Despite this forgivable flaw, you should go and see Meet Me in St. Gallen.

RATINGS:

9/10 Popcorn

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2018

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz

Cruz

PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz is a heart warming film about two individuals learning to love after a heartbreak. They both share memories and wonderful experiences in the wonderful island of Palawan. This movie is written and directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo under Idea First Company & Viva Films.

Cast: Ryza Cenon, JC Santos, Yayo Aguila, Dennis Padilla, Dido Dela Paz, Lui Manansala, Bong Cabrera, Sophie Rankin

Genre: Romance, Drama

WHAT I LIKE?

Sigrid Bernardo never disappoints with Viva’s latest offering – Mr. & Mrs. Cruz. I am really quite impressed with the turnout of the movie. JC and Ryza are such charming together on-screen. Mr. & Mrs. Cruz offers a realistic and relatable premise about heartbreaks and moving on. It invested on tourism with Palawan as the major backdrop. More than just the wonderful and amazing shots in the island, I was actually more compelled with the story and its soul. Palawan is given. The movie showcased the place with justice. Cinematography is spot on and color grading was the best for me. Drone shots are utilized well and did not overpower the continuity of the shots. The movie’s theme song and sound engineering was great too. I loved how the hugot music was utilized on some major scenes. Plot-wise, the movie won’t play around subplots. It is direct and sincere. Most of the scenes were like a mirror to all of us. The drunk scene at the bar was my favorite. It was raw for me. The pain is lingering within the movie. As the characters find the answers to their questions, Sigrid effectively created an atmosphere wherein all emotions are smoothly flowing within the characters and their choices of words. The tight shots and slowmos were creatively used and applied. The narration and metaphors were spot on. More than an impressive cinematic approach, there is too much happening in the movie that will truly glue your interest from beginning to end. I was smiling even after the film. Overall, the film geared towards a realistic ending. An ending that will make you crave more. JC and Ryza both gave award-winning performances. Finally, I am glad to see JC landing on a lead role. He was amazing in the film. His comedic timing and his charm really blended well with Ryza. He’s just too hot to handle at some point. Ryza was just amazing as usual. I am also happy that she landed on a lead role in a film like this. I was really impressed with her acting and her bubbly attitude in Mr. and Mrs. Cruz.
What more I can say. The movie made me smile and it landed in one of my most fave Romantic films to date. Congrats Viva Films and Direk Sigrid!

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

No hate. Just love.

RATINGS:

10/10 Popcorn.

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2017

Ang Panday (2017)

Ang Panday

FILM INFO

Lizardo, the immortal evil nemesis of Panday comes back from the world of darkness to once again bring havoc to the human race. With Flavio III not knowing that his bloodline is the only one capable of destroying Lizardo, he will have to scour different worlds to be able to gain the trust of the mythical power of the legendary sword. Ang Panday is directed by Coco Martin himself and Rodel Nacianceno under CCM Productions, Star CInema and Viva Films.

Casts: Coco Martin, Awra Briguela, Julio Diaz, Jake Cuenca, Gloria Romero,  McCoy de Leon, Elisse Joson, Ejay Falcon, Eddie Garcia, Michael de Mesa, Jaime Fabregas, Agot Isidro, Onyok Pineda

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

WHAT I LIKE?

The 2017 Version of Ang Panday is a good attempt to create a modern and contemporary spin-off to this iconic Pinoy Superhero figure that is somehow apt to the taste of Filipino moviegoers nowadays. Aside from the tried and tested Coco Martin Blockbuster Magic, Ang Panday’s success is mostly attributed to its very dynamic storytelling technique and interpretation of the whole Panday Franchise. The Director successfully staged the 3rd Generation of Flavio set in the present times. With this approach, much of the scenes were shot in the City specifically in Tondo, Manila. The movie gave a realistic feel since it has several scenes shot around Metro Manila. For me, its a good move since they are trying to set Flavio in the modern times. What I like about Ang Panday is its Cinematography and Visual Editing too. They have very impressive action sequences especially those man-to-man fights of Flavio. They also have a good production design especially during the “Magical World” exploration. I really commend the camera angles too during Flavio’s Training and the Climax Fight of him and Lizardo. Overall, it was a breakthrough film in terms of the Fantasy formula. I can see the tremendous amount of effort to delivery a quality film. The movie also has several talented cast. Coco Martin is worth it to become the next modern Panday. His charisma is more than enough actually. Coco was able to portray well a modern Flavio that has the right mixture of cheerfulness and angst as well. The spotlight for Ang Panday is also given to Jake Cuenca in his portrayal as Lizardo. He is by far the best villain in the franchise offering a more stylish yet annoying aura of an evil and wicked Pinoy villain. My most favorite scenes in the movie are the Training of Flavio (though it is really short) and the Climax Fight scenes of Lizardo and Flavion in the desert. If you are in for some thrilling adventure flick, Ang Panday must be in your bucket list this MMFF 2017.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

At some point, I missed the “CLASSIC FEELS” of Ang Panday so I have a little setback with the recent adaptation from Star Cinema and Viva Films. But then again, I try to understand that with the advent of a modern and contemporary twist, some of the elements will really be sacrificed. Ang Panday mostly fails on the narration part. I felt that this vital part of the Franchise is not executed-well. Moreover, the film is also too crowded with lots of unnecessary characters. I find it sometimes chaotic. I am quite disappointed  with the leading lady – Mariel del Leon. She was giving a lackluster performance that is somehow dragging some vital scenes with the main characters, Despite a good cinematography, I find the Audio and dubbing a little bit off at majority of the film’s running time. Visual-wise, I still hope for improvements if there will be a follow-up movie. I mean, it has good visuals already but there are so many rooms for improvements here. Overall, Ang Panday is still a good choice for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

RATINGS:

8.5/10 Popcorns

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2017 · Pinoy Indie

12

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

12 is a story of Anton and Erika, a couple who has been together for 12 years. The story will evolve into their lives as they struggle to cope up with various problems and hurdles in their relationship especially living together in one roof. 12 is directed by Dondon Santos under Viva Films.

Casts: Alessandra de Rossi, Ivan Padilla

Genre: Romantic, Drama

Previous Movie of Alessandra de Rossi: Kita Kita (2017)

WHAT I LIKE?

12 took a lot of risk in its storytelling and cinematography. For me, the risk was worth it. What I like about the movie is its bold approach in investing more from a conversational formula alongside a secluded setting and a very relatable conflict material specifically made for long-term couples undergoing certain issues in their relationship. It is just raw and affecting. Raw in the sense that the conflict material is their. Also, there were less backstory hence the Director focused on two tones of the story only – the ups and downs of the relationship of Anton & Erika. What I even like is how creatively the director set the two phases of their lives through cinematic tones and production setting. Moreover, conversations are abundant yet there were all real and heartfelt. It was generally natural and raw to hear it straight from the two characters. You can easily see their emotions cutthrough effortlessly. Cinematography is impressive. I also love the timing of the Sound Engineering. There were no unnecessary flashbacks and the storyline is presented in a straightforward and on-point manner. Acting-wise, I am impressed with Alessandra and Ivan on this one. Alessandra gave a pure and raw acting performance. Ivan, despite the Fil-Am accent, was actually effective in his portrayal too. Both of them look good on-screen and chemistry is undeniably there. Overall, the movie may be melodramatic but it has some pinch of humor that flows effortlessly as the story goes by. What I love about 12 is that it brings us to a deeper understanding of some of the issues a long-term couple are experiencing. What is most admirable is the lesson it tries to impart its viewers in terms of respect and love for both ourselves and towards others. I just loved the simplicity and realism shown in the movie. For me, 12 delivered.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Somehow it will really disappoint lots of viewers especially if they are expecting the story to be dynamic such as Kita Kita and the like. A big portion of some of the disappointments of the audience are largely attributed to comparing the movie from others too. Therd is no point of comparison because the movie delivered enough justice with the demand of its plot and phasing. Well as I said, watch 12 with your own risk. For me, the risk is worth it.

RATINGS:

8/10 Popcorns.

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2017

Finally Found Someone (Star Cinema)

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PICTURE SOURCE

FILM INFO

Finally Found Someone is a story about Aprilyn who is left by her groom on the day of their wedding. That event became viral online. Devastated by the event, she met Raffy who works at a PR agency hired by the father of the groom who will help her move on. This movie is directed by Theodore Boborol under Star Cinema and Viva Films.

Casts: John Lloyd Cruz, Sarah Geronimo, Joey Marquez, Christian Bables, Yayo Aguila, Tetchie Agbayani, Dennis Padilla, Enchong Dee, Axel Torres, Justin Cuyugan

Genre: Romatic, Comedy, Drama

Previous Movies of Theodore Boborol: Vince & Kath & James

Previous Movies of John Lloyd Cruz: Ang Babaeng Humayo (2016)

WHAT I LIKE?

Finally Found Someone has everything you need to expect from the hands of Star Cinema and the undeniable magic and on-screen chemistry of John Lloyd & Sarah. Truly, they are one of the best and rare loveteams in PH that really sells and hit blockbuster figures despite their conservative status on all of their films. They are just a couple with magic and charm that flawlessly manifests on screen. Plot-wise, it has a new take in the almost tiring Pinoy RomCom formula. This time, the plot is playing around PR industry but still involving those romantic clichés that really seems to sell in a wide variety of audience. The central plot really supported the turnaround of the story despite some inconsistencies. The general theme and phasing was good. I like the cinematography and musical scoring as a whole. Production-design fits with the storyline’s simple approach. Acting-wise, I see a much mature Sarah this time. A little bit far from Lyda Magtalas but she is mush more genuine and natural here which I really love. Lloydie on the other hand is just pure talent and charm and is really one of the reasons why you should watch the film. His strong presence and appeal really goes beyond your internal organs. JL’s smile is to live for. As a couple, there is no doubt that they still have that strong chemistry we love from their previous movies. At some point, you wished that are couples in real life. JL and Sarah effectively created that inspiring and feel-good emotions you expect from real-life couples.  They were just so lovely to watch. The supporting characters were good too. I also love the formula of family values present in the movie. I am moved with JL and Tetchi scene. It was a scene with a pinch in the heart. Overall, Finally Found Someone is a pure joy to watch if you are a fan and if you don’t mind its inconsistencies and technicalities.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE?

Given a slightly new take on its plot, I expected the movie to somehow stand out from beginning to end. For me, the film was lost. It lost grip with its main plot. They could have played much intensity in the PR Industry and its conflict with the love story of the characters but the movie was consumed much on its formulaic and predictable ingredients. It could have been a new approach but it still followed the formula they believe would sell much on the public. Well, I can’t blame them. I also find a lacking character build-up with some of the casts and lacking backstory presentation. Well, still a good movie though I think that this is not their best movie.

RATINGS:

7.5/10 Popcorns.

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