The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Film)

When I found out that I’m getting two tickets for the Philippine premier of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2, I get excited to see the film. But since there were only two tickets, it is difficult to choose who will I bring with me to watch, knowing that a lot of friends wants to go. I almost decided to ditch it and just giveaway the tickets to two of my blog followers. But since I still have to personally claim the tickets an hour before the showing, it will be a hassle for me to organized the giveaway in a little amount of time. So I end up going to the event and invite the most Twilight fanatic friend I know, Chai. We went to Greenbelt, Makati last Wednesday night with the other movie goers who are all excited to see the movie a night before the regular showing. There are some raffles and giveaways too before the film showing but I can feel that the crowd is more interested for the movie to start than the giveaways.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 picks up directly where the first part of Breaking Dawn Part 1 left off. Bella wakes up with her ruby eyes as a newborn vampire and adjust pretty fast to her newly acquired strength. As a vampire her senses become much stronger. She sees everything in remarkable details, she hear even the slightest sounds, smell even the farthest blood and move awkwardly fast. Her strength is not to be challenged, if you have doubt just ask Emmett. As as newborn basically Bella is what everyone around her expects her to be, except for one thing. She is so comfortable in her new self to the point of being too controlled which isn’t normal for a newborn. Part of her new life is being a vampire wife to Edward and a mother to their fast growing newborn daughter, Reneesme. Reneesme is a half-human and half-vampire who poses an unknown threat to vampire existence which makes her the target of the most powerful clan of vampires, the Volturi. But the Cullen coven is determine to keep Reneesme alive, thus begins the final adventure of this final installment to Stephanie Meyer’s vampire mythology.

If you’ve seen the first four films of this series, you may agree with me that the adaptation didn’t start great. The first installment (Twilight) isn’t much a great movie compare to other movies that was released that year. But this final installment erased all the bad memories of the previous films. It definitely salvaged the whole franchise adaptation by leaving a satisfying and entertaining ending.

Everything that happens on the first part of the film were pretty much the same with the book. The difference comes mostly on the last part where all the actions scenes is happening. Personally I like the changes they made from book to the film. It give so much room for surprises that even the hardcore Twilight fans will get shock and caught off guard. I give applause to the director and screenwriter for delivering a simple storytelling trick with cunning skills. I honestly didn’t see that twist coming which makes the changes effective and satisfying.

My emotions were high and my mind was boggling during the intense fighting scenes. If the emotional moment holds more time I might even end up releasing all those feelings into tears. But with the fast-pacing scenes all I can do is absorbed what is happening while questioning most of it. For someone who read the book before seeing the film adaptation, I can’t help but compare what I’m seeing on screen and what I’ve read few years ago. And seeing the differences just keeps me busy that I haven’t realized ahead of time the possible ending.

As much as I want to give more details and explain why this movie is the best of all Twilight Saga films I don’t want to give any spoilers. Because this movie won’t be as effective as it is if you watch it with spoilers. And for those who haven’t seen the previous installments, I think it is better if you watch the first four films before this one. The story wont make sense if you start this saga with this final installment. And some scenes may not be as powerful as it is if you are not invested to the characters like most fans of this series.

The movie also wrap the whole series in a classy note by showing every actor of twilight saga films a little screen time during the credits. Even those who aren’t part of the this final installment were there. It leaves me memories and flashbacks of the other previous films of this phenomenal series of Stephanie Meyer.

Again kudos to the film makers for finishing this movie adaptation with a heart and dignity. And thank you for leaving us a memorable movie experience.

Eat Pray Love (Film)

Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having — a husband, a house, a successful career — yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self—discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Based upon the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love proves that there really is more than one way to let yourself go and see the world.

I don’t feel commenting much on the film technicalities right now since there’s nothing much really new or nice to comment. I’ll just try to explore more on what I think I appreciate from this film, which mostly came from Liz first travel adventure – Italy. In Italy Liz learn to experience life again. She instantly fall in love with the people, the place, and the language. She learned the joy of living life fully. Living with joy and living in the moment. She discovered the concept of la dolce vita or the sweet life. Which simply means living and enjoying every moment. It is enjoying a picnic by yourself on the floor while wearing a negligee. It is eating Thanksgiving turkey for breakfast with friends. It is loving yourself with all the gray hair, stretch marks and extra flab. She experience again how to eat without feeling guilty or worrying about gaining weight.

Watching the scenery of Italy gives me again the desire to travel. I love to travel, I enjoy seeing new places, exploring different cultures and traditions. And this film give me a part of that experience. It makes me want to see those wonderful places in the movie, especially Italy. I want to have my first hand experience with the historical beauty of Rome, taste those lavishing food and learn the language. I wish I also have an entire year for myself, to travel with unlimited funds and experience a part of that life. A year to experience different culture and traditions. A year to see the world in a different view. A year to discover myself and some of life lessons.

Charlie St. Cloud (Film)

Last Monday night, I went to the red carpet premier of Charlie St. Cloud at SM Megamall with my best friend. The film is based on Ben Sherwood’s best-selling novel The Death and Life Of Charlie St. Cloud which I already read before seeing the movie adaptation.

The movie plot is strong because it’s based off the book. But in-spite of a good plot the movie doesn’t carry the same depth and darkness of the book. Charlie has near death experience, lost his dearly brother Sam, graced with an extraordinary gift talking and seeing spirits, limited communication to his mother, no real friends, barely trust no one and can play catch with his dead brother. It has limitless opportunity for motivations, soul-searching, and well-written emotional drama which the movie failed to present. There are more to explore, issues about life and death, grief, moving on, restoring faith, life after death and living a full life. But the movie focus on the love story angle forcing Charlie to go down the misguided teenager role.

 Zac Efron does a decent job portraying Charlie St. Cloud. I can now completely detached him from his singing and dancing role in High School Musical. But still I want to see more of his talent. I think he has something more to offer, but the script and the director limits him to show what he really got. There are some scenes where he is ready to full out those emotional moments then all of a sudden it diverted to another scene. Like when the tragedy strikes, the film has the chance to gear the affecting power but it jumps to another scene cutting the moment before it culminate. Obviously poor pacing is the problem. Efron gives a good effort and the film failures are hardly his fault. Charlie Tahan as Sam is sweet and endearing. He’s a good little actor that should be watch out for. I didn’t see much of Sam’s funny and naughty side from the book but Tahan is credibly good as Sam St. Cloud.

I fell in love with the two characters (Charlie and Sam) from the book and I still love them from the film. They manage to deliver a believable chemistry as brothers. The relationship between them is really strong on-screen. It looks more real by not being too sweet. Nothing too fancy or sugar coated sweet bonding like those cheesy lines from the book. In here they fought once in a while and still manage to show the care they have for each other. A simple look and some little gestures is all they did and still you can feel the intense care and love from both of them.

I want to like this movie as much as I like the book but no matter how much I ignore the differences I still felt that the movie lost some magic that the book has. It’s not a bad film but the story and characters deserves more. Everything is too safe, it needs more edge and darkness. Probably a better script and direction will make the difference.

Step Up 3D

I know this review is way due already, I started writing this the night I watched the film which almost a month ago but I did not finished  it, so it end up as a draft post in my dashboard. I don’t intend to post it this late but still I want to share my thoughts about the film which I did enjoy watching. As of I know the film is still showing in cinemas so maybe it’s not too late after-all.

I’ve watched the first two Step-Up films, so basically I know what to expect from this movie. Just to refresh some of the characters relation from the previous movies, Moose (Adam Sevani) is in “Step Up 2: The Streets” he is part of the group that helped Andie compete in the dance competition. Camille (Alyson Stoner), Moose partner in this movie is in “Step Up” film. She played Tyler Cage’s (male lead in the first film) younger sister. Now they are back in “Step Up 3D”, though I’m not sure if they got the main role or not. The movie poster shows Luke (Rick Malambri) and Natalie (Sharni Vinson) which obviously means that they are the lead characters. But the film tells the story of two couples (Luke-Natalie & Moose-Camille) other than the dance battle premise. I enjoy more the Moose and Camille story compare to Luke and Natalie. The latter is the photogenic couple while the other is more a down-to-earth and easy to relate with couple. It’s much easier to sympathize with Moose and Camille, since they aren’t as formula-familiar as Luke and Natalie.

The plot as expected is simple and predictable. But since I already expect the worst before seeing the film, I don’t care much about the plot. Yes, there are clichéd moments, melodramatic and cheesy lines, under develop characters and lots of not so nice details but who cares? I went to see this film not for the story but because of the crazy dance moves which they managed to execute well. There is street dance, jazz, lock, pop, robot rock, tango, and a little bit of ballet. I’m not really amaze with the robot thing dance but there are three dance scenes that I really enjoy. The finale dance competition, the Moose and Camille street scene and the dance scenes in the battle of gwai. The finale with all the lights or leds costumes from head to toe is visually stunning. The dance moves are well choreographed and well delivered. The Moose and Camille’s one shot sequence with the old song “I wont dance” which may look like out of place in the movie is the most engaging dance scene for me. It’s totally different, fun and enjoyable. The couple put up an impromptu show using dustbin lids, couch, paintings and others. And the battle of gwai where Moose with the pirates dance in the watery stage. Somehow it remind me of Micheal Jackson’s moves.

For the casting, Adam Sevani as Moose is one of the best thing about this movie. He deliver his role well giving the character so much life. No doubt he can dance and act at the same time. And he did not only do hip hop, his dance sequence with Camille proves it. He is defenitely fun to watch. Alyson Stoner as Camille finally get more screening compare to other movies I’ve seen her. She also got the talent. Sharni Vinson as Natalie has the moves but her acting didn’t match the level of her dance moves. Rick Malambri as Luke is just ok. Actually, I don’t feel him much in the film, as if he is just one of the supporting cast.

Overall, the story was cliché but the film is visually stunning, the dance moves are amazing and extraordinary which make this movie entertaining as a whole.

Tekken (2010 Film)

I got my chance in playing Tekken before though I’m not a video games buff. Other than Jin and Yoshimitsu I’m not familiar with some of the fighters in this movie. Maybe I’ve seen most of them in the selection menu, but they are not my usual choice in the battle game. Most of the time I’ll pickup King, Lei, Paul and Asuka. As a film based from a fighting game series I don’t expect much from this film. Surprisingly though… it’s actually NOT bad.

The story is fairly simple and predictable. Like most fighting games it revolved around the fighting tournament. The story focus in one character which is Jin Kazama, his quest for vengeance, the Mishima bloodlines & the iron fist. Nothing much new actually but I like the fact that they tried to create some character relationships than just make a generic fighting flick movie. It takes a more gritty, real-world approach to the storyline breaking away from most of the supernatural and strange elements from the games. A nice touch that results in a solid, pretty easy to understand martial arts adventure, at the very least.

The casting is fair enough. Jon Foo (Jin Kasama) delivers well in the sullen, angry role of the revengeful pretty boy. He is believable as a young talented fighter as if he really earns every hard-won match. Ian Anthony Dale (Kazuya Mishima) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Heihachi Mishima) are pretty good too. Kelly Overton (Christie Monteiro) is ok. Candice Hillebrand (Nina Williams) looks too old for the role. And her costumes needs some fixing. Actually the costumes are good except for that one. After checking the video characters, I find that they wear the same style like in the video game. I think they are pretty accurate. Yoshimitsu has the most faithful look from the video game though he doesn’t talk much in this film.

The fight choreography are well executed. It was realistic enough to enjoy and digest. The fighter look like they mean business when they fight inside the arena. Battles doesn’t look fake, they are pretty good and fierce. In fact, they look extremely painful, especially those battles where real life martial artists are fighting on each other. None of the fight scenes were disappointing. They really looked like they put all their effort on their stunts and actions. The chasing scene from the first part of the movie wherein Jin is running from some bad guys and the Jackhammers (some kind of police robots of Tekken Corporation) is nicely done, it’s pretty intense. The chasing stunts are quite thrilling.

As for the settings, Tekken is set in dystopian near future year 2039 which is supposed to be futuristic, but I didn’t find it on that level. I feel it’s more like a post war era setting. Most of the scenes are set at night, or in shadows with spotlights, gasoline fires or neon lights.

Tekken was actually quite good compared with all the other game series turned to film. I mean as far game-turned-movie goes this one was actually pretty decent. As much as I want to compare this film to another fighting game Street Fighter : The Legend of Chun-Li, I can’t remember much about the last film. I am certain that I’ve watched The Legend of Chun-Li before but unfortunately I can’t remember much from this film. Compare to Dragon Ball Evolution Tekken is way better (WAY WAY Better). Tekken’s gritty action scenes and fast-paced story make it one of the better video game movies. This movie was made for entertainment like the game itself, so disregard about the inconsistency in adaptation this movie is enjoyable and pretty nice film.

Salt

Christopher Nolan‘s Inception is a tough film to follow, any movie who made screening along with this film will had a hard time coping. Unfortunately Salt falls behind Nolan’s masterpiece. Before watching Salt I am prepared to get just another Mission Impossible movie with a female character on the lead. I am aware that the original script was written with a male character on the lead role which was offered to Tom Cruise. But Cruise was unable to commit because the character is too close to his Mission Impossible character Ethan Hunt. Then the script landed to Angelina Jolie who likes it, which lead to character change in the script. A female in a lead role for an action film and the script alteration makes me interested to see this movie.

The story will fall under the common action films that offers spy stories. Nothing much new with the plot but the twist and turns of the movie are pretty intense. Somehow it provide the mystery and thrill to the film. The lead character Evelyn Salt forces you to question her motives as well as her allegiance with each action she makes. It placed you in the dark along the high-speed ride and makes you ceaselessly question her sides – whether if she’s really a spy or not?

The action sequences are done very well, it’s not flashy and not overly executed. Somehow impossible for a girl but with Angelina Jolie everything looks great and believable for a CIA agent and a Russian Spy character. Each moves are past-faced and thrilling. Full of fast fights, unending chases, explosions, car crunching actions and death defying stunt. Plus the special effects that provides an ongoing supply of excitement.

Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt is good. I think she is the best part of this film. Other than Uma Thurman of Kill Bill, Angelina Jolie is one of a kind girl that can actually do action films more spicy. She does it all and she does it well. In this movie she definitely own every frame of the scenes. Liev Schreiber as Ted Winter doesn’t work for me. Weird but I still think of him as Sabretooth of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The actions are so fast that there’s no time to question anything. But after all the chases and stunts I wonder if the motive is really worth. The ending was too open ended which lead a potential sequel in few years down the line. Overall, this movie offers actions and thrills but it won’t take you on the intellectual journey like Inception did.