Wednesday, December 13, 2017

'The Orville' Could Be the Best Thing Seth MacFarlane Has Ever Created

The Orville is better than Star Trek: Discovery.  I say this, not because I hate the latter – I enjoy them both – but the former, throughout its 12-episode debut season in general, is genuinely more fun, endearing, and worthwhile.

As what I already shared before (in my first article about The Orville and Star Trek Discovery), I didn’t know at first what to make of it.  The pilot felt a bit gawky and wobbly.  But as I continued to watch week after week, I got to grasp what it was going for more and more, appreciate it more and more, until I eventually found myself getting immersed and loving almost every single thing about it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany's Screen Team-Up Makes 'Stronger' a Must-Watch

There are two reasons why I watched Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany – two extremely talented actors I like.  I’ve liked every single film I’ve seen Gyllenhaal in recent years, and he has always been reliable in delivering compelling performances.  One of the worst Oscar snubs ever was when Jake wasn’t even nominated for his work in Nightcrawler (in my opinion, his performance in that movie was superior to winner Eddie Redmayne’s in The Theory of Everything; Nightcrawler is also a much better film).  Meanwhile, I’ve adored Tatiana Maslany ever since I encountered Orphan Black, in which she showcased her jaw-dropping versatility by portraying the different LEDA clones distinctively and convincingly.  It’s a pity that she only won an Emmy once during the show’s five-season run.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

One Important Character Is Unfortunately Missing in the Otherwise Elating 'Psych: The Movie'

After the series ended in 2014, Psych returns to the small screen through a Christmas special – a TV movie called, er, Psych: The Movie.  Yeah, yeah.  I wish the title was more distinctive, especially considering that, if all goes well, creator Steve Franks plans to make five more Psych movies.  So what’s the next one going to be called now?  Psych: The Movie 2?   Moreover, if it was going to be identified as “The Movie”, then it should have been through a more appropriate medium than the 88-minute, commercial-break-divided TV movie that it is.  Instead, it should have been released in theaters – or, the very least, in VOD.

Nonetheless, it’s an elating early Christmas treat for every Psych fan.  There’s nothing particularly “special” about this special.  It’s as if it’s just another episode of the series.  But that’s totally fine.  In the first place, the show has been generally witty, well-written, tonally amiable, and highly entertaining; revels in wide-ranging pop culture references and non-staling recurring jokes; and, when needed, can get very suspenseful or touching.  Psych: The Movie turning out to be mostly like what the series had typically been is more than enough.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

'Mother!' Is a Messed-Up Metaphor

Darren Aronofsky is known for his surreal, controversial psychological films.  With the exception of Noah – which is garbage – I generally found his body of work fascinating.  I didn’t necessarily fully “enjoy” his films, in a typical manner of speaking, because they are confusing, taxing, and disturbing (especially the highly depressing Requiem for a Dream).  But there’s always this riveting, provocative quality to them that makes them worth watching at least once.

With the polarizing reception of his latest opus mother!, I was only made more intrigued of watching it.  And it’s the most unrestrained Aronofsky film I’ve ever seen.

'1922' Is Yet Another Solid Stephen King Film Adaptation from Netflix

1922 is the fourth of four Stephen King film adaptations of 2017 (two of which, It and The Dark Tower, were released in theaters), and the second of the two Netflix-produced ones.  And like Gerald’s Game – the other Stephen King Netflix movie – it’s surprisingly great.

It’s about a country farmer named Wilf (Thomas Jane) who locks himself in a hotel room and begins writing a confession to a crime he did in the year 1922 (of course).  In that year, his discontented wife Arlette (Molly Parker) is determined to sell the land they inherited and move to the city – something Wilf is against.  They talk of getting a divorce, but Arlette also wants to bring their son Henry (Dylan Schmid) with her.  Desperate to keep the land and his son, Wilf convinces Henry to help him murder Arlette and make it appear she has run away from home.  They perform the deed, and dump her corpse into a dried up, rat-infested well, which they then fill in.  But afterwards, Wilf’s life begins to fall apart and is haunted by his sin.

Friday, December 08, 2017

This Possible Glimpse of a Glorious Future Is an Uplifting Moment for Lakerdom

Lakers are 9-15.  Getting to the playoffs is still doable, but it’s hard to be optimistic about it.  But their recent road win against the Sixers to snap a five-game losing streak makes my heart hopeful again for the Lakers’ future.

The Lakers led most of the game.  But the Sixers made a huge run in the fourth quarter. With the two teams tied at 104, and with eight seconds left, this happened…

Thursday, December 07, 2017

I Hope 'Dunkirk' Wins Best Picture in Next Year's Academy Awards

Christopher Nolan has made some of the most exceptional films of the 21st century.  Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and Interstellar – I quite enjoyed all these films.  But Dunkirk could be his best-crafted film yet.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

'In This Corner of the World' Is a Captivating Look on What a Young Woman Could Have Undergone in Wartime Japan

In This Corner of the World is an anime drama film that follows the story of a girl named Suzu from 1933 to 1945 in Hiroshima and Kure.  It starts during her childhood, as she helps in her family’s seaweed business and revels in making drawings.  But the bulk of the plot focuses on her experience as a young bride struggling to perform her housewife duties in the household of her new family, who are basically strangers to her.  On top of this, with World War II raging, she has to deal with various wartime matters, like rationing, deaths of loved ones, endless U.S. air raids, and – most notably – the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

There Would Have Been No Controversy If 'Olaf’s Frozen Adventure' Had Been a TV Special Instead

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is a 21-minute featurette that was originally intended to be a TV special but was later decided to play in front of Coco (great film, by the way).  I don’t know if this was also the arrangement with the Philippine screenings for Coco, because when I went to watch the film, the short wasn’t played before it.

Anyway, it turned out being extremely unpopular.  Filmgoers hated it.  The bonus animated shorts that typically play prior Disney and Pixar films are only a few minutes long, so its much-longer-than-usual runtime – which is comparable to an episode of an animated series – irked moviegoers.  In addition, they probably felt that, before they could enjoy Coco, they must first endure a lengthy ad for Olaf merchandising being shoved down their throats.

Recently, Disney has decided to pull the short out of further Coco screenings – either due to the backlash or the fact that it was intended for a limited time engagement in the first place.

In 'Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie', Arnold's Surname Is Finally Revealed While Helga Gets to Shine the Most

More than 13 years after it aired its last episode, Hey Arnold! has recently made its return to the small screen via a TV movie – Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie.  It serves as a closing chapter to the original five-season series, though it could also work as a prologue to a new season, if Nickelodeon ever decides to do so.  On top of this, Arnold’s surname is finally revealed in this movie, which is – wait for it – Shortman!  After the mystery of Arnold’s surname served as a running gag in the show, the reveal that “Shortman”, which we assumed is his grandpa’s nickname for him, has been his surname all along is hilariously brilliant.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

‘Coco’ Strikes a Chord and Plucks Heartstrings

With every new Pixar movie, there are at least three things that are guaranteed about it.  First, the animation is going to be masterful, highly detailed, and gorgeous.  Second, at some point, it’ll pull your heartstrings and make your eyes well up with tears.  And, third, (save for maybe a Cars installment) it’s going to be a classic, or if not, at the very least, it’s going to be one of the year’s best animated films.

These three are true about Coco.  It’s a fantastic animated film – probably the best one I’ve seen this year.  It does an impeccable implementation of the Pixar formula, but at the same time, it’s also one of Pixar’s most original films – as well as one of its darkest and most mature.   It’s somewhat similarly themed with 2014’s Book of Life, but no way is it a copycat.  It’s an entirely different film.  It’s simply another case of Antz and A Bug’s Life – two good, distinctive films that just happen to share some common things about their respective premises.

Why DCW's "Crisis on Earth-x" Is So Much Better Than the DCEU's 'Justice League'

After the fantastic Flash/Supergirl musical crossover, I wished that the next annual DCW mega-crossover would be a musical as well, since almost all DCW cast members have musical talent.  Well, that was not what happened, but “Crisis on Earth-X” turned out being what I think is the greatest Arrowverse crossover special yet.  It isn’t perfect.  It does rely on a few clichéd tropes.  But it overall succeeds in being immensely fun and delivering the best of what superhero TV can deliver.

“Crisis on Earth-X” had impeccable synergy among characters, cool surprises, high stakes, heart-rending drama, humor in appropriate amounts and right moments, tongue-in-cheek references (e.g. Earth-2 Wells telling Supergirl to deal with a huge threat by flying “Up.  Up.  And Away!”), and a good amount of thrilling, action-packed set pieces.  It showed a giant teamup of superheroes going against Nazis, fascinating doppelgangers, a major character death, the return of Flash’s greatest villain, the debut of a new DCW hero, Supergirl getting to be a wedding singer, Green Arrow doing something Batmanly once again (i.e. harboring a kryptonite arrow), letting Mick Rory be Mick Rory, the possible meeting of Barry and a time-traveling descendant, a dogfight between two Waveriders, and much more – everything to make the four-part event a superhero TV masterpiece!

With this in mind, I believe “Crisis on Earth-X” is a better superhero teamup than Justice League.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

'The Foreigner' Is Easily the Best Movie in Recent Years for Both Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan

To say that The Foreigner is to Jackie Chan as is Taken is to Liam Neeson isn’t exactly accurate.  Jackie Chan has always been an action star – one of the best ever – and has still been making action films in recent years despite being already in his 60’s.  However, those recent action films of his are action comedies; it has been a while since he has done a serious role – an opportunity that The Foreigner has given him.  In The Foreigner, not only does Chan have to do martial arts and stunts, but he also has to do some dramatic acting.  I think this is the first time he has ever done something like this.  Maybe we can say that, just as Neeson was a surprising action star in Taken, Chan is a surprising dramatic actor in The Foreigner.  In addition, like Taken, The Foreigner is basically about a father who is a retired badass and is forced to turn to his former vocation’s skills for the sake of his daughter.

'Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!' Has Bigger Issues Than Pikachu Talking

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is the 20th Pokémon anime film, and is a reimagined retelling of the season one of the anime TV series.  It follows 10-year-old Ash Ketchum starting off with his adventure to become a Pokémon Master with his starter Pokémon and best friend Pikachu.  Along the way, instead of Misty and Brock as it was in the show, he’s joined by Verity and Sorrel in his journey.  Their party then sets off in search of the Legendary Pokémon Ho-oh.

This movie garnered controversy because it has a scene where Pikachu is depicted to talk for the first time ever.  But, for me, though it was weird, it was no big deal.  First, being a reimagination, I assumed that this film is non-canon anyway.  Second, it happened during a scene where the talking could be organically attributed to Ash’s hallucinating brain or Ho-oh’s magic or both.  Third, it’s so fleeting that it’s really irrelavant to the overall context.  Besides, it has bigger issues than Pikachu talking.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

'The Punisher' Doesn't Knock It Out of the Park, but It Still Hits. Hard.

After getting introduced in Daredevil season 2, Frank Castle a.k.a. the Punisher stars in his own solo Netflix series.  And I found it partly good and partly disappointing.

The Punisher is quite a fascinating fictional character.  He’s an uber-badass.  He’s a non-powered individual existing in a world of superpowers, but not only has he held his own, he has made himself among the deadliest and most intimidating.  In his hands, guns become more terrifying and potent than superpowers.

He has a code of honor, occasionally teams up with good guys, and is often moved to stand up for the weak and oppressed.  But this does not necessarily make him one of the good guys.  He’s a psychopathic, cold-blooded mass murder.  Yes, he primarily targets bad guys.  But he’s a psychopathic, cold-blooded mass murderer nonetheless.  Thus, he has built a reputation of infamy that strikes fear in the hearts of criminals, something that most superheroes don’t elicit from them.

He finds a sick sense of fulfillment from what he does, but he doesn’t consider his vigilantism a righteous crusade.  He doesn’t make any justifications.  He acknowledges that he’s as bad as the criminals he kills, and also deserves to be punished – to be put to death – in the end.