BvS Packs a Lot of Punch

March 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Posted in Film Reviews, Geek, Movies | Leave a comment
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batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice_IMAXposter

Photo Credit: ign.com

When I first heard the news years ago that there was going to be a movie about Batman versus Superman, I was sceptical. My initial reaction was, “Why would they want to make a movie about Batman and Superman fighting each other? That’s not a good idea.” Even though it happened in the comics (which I didn’t know and never read), I still thought it’s not a good idea. I love Superman and Batman but I didn’t want to see them battling against each other. Then the news that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman came. I was indignant. I thought he wasn’t the perfect actor to replace Christian Bale as Batman. I couldn’t imagine him as the Caped Crusader. For quite some time I was adamant about my initial perception of the movie being made and the fact that Ben Affleck was playing Batman. But then I saw the first trailer and got curious and excited. It was always my plan to watch the movie despite my misgivings about it because I’m a big fan of Superman. And I enjoyed Man of Steel a lot. Even though I wasn’t that partial to Henry Cavill playing Superman at first, he eventually grew on me after watching Man of Steel for the second time. That in itself was reason enough for me.

So I braved the large crowd and long lines at the cinema and watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Even the largely negative reviews by the critics didn’t stop me from watching it. When I emerged from the cinema I was stunned. The movie blew me away. I loved it. I didn’t even notice that the movie was more than two hours long. It was action-packed right from the start.

Batman v Superman picked up where Man of Steel came off. Actually, the movie mainly starts during the later part of the scene in Man of Steel where Superman was in the middle of an epic battle with General Zod in the heart of the Metropolis. Amidst the destruction caused by that battle, Bruce Wayne watched helplessly as the skyscraper bearing his company name got destroyed. The building and its occupants were just one of the many casualties of the battle. It was for this reason and the overall destruction of the Metropolis that Bruce Wayne’s anger and suspicion towards Superman started. It set the tone for the rest of the movie leading up to the inevitable fight between Batman and Superman.

Fear and hate towards the unknown and what we don’t understand was one of the running themes of the movie. Bruce Wayne and the people of Metropolis and Gotham city became wary of Superman because of what he could do with his powers. They certainly saw the impact of that power when innocent people got killed or injured during Superman’s fight with General Zod. While some people saw Superman as a hero, others saw him as dangerous. They couldn’t fully fathom Superman’s agenda or where he actually stands in the justice system. Was he a friend of the people or a foe? Superman, on the other hand, felt guilty about the destruction he unintentionally caused.

The movie also poses several questions. It tells us that when there’s war, sacrifices are to be made. We are forced to make a choice. Do we sacrifice a few people for the good of the many? Do we really need to let some people die so we can win the battle? Must we take the law into our own hands and become vigilantes? These arguments were reflected in Superman’s emotional struggle and actions. He sought the advice of his mother. He confronted Bruce Wayne. He came to the hearing. In the end, he sacrificed himself.

Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman

Photo Credit: bgr.com

Henry Cavill delivered a powerful performance (no pun intended) as Superman, a.k.a Clark Kent. I actually got a bit teary-eyed when Superman begged Batman to save his mother even though Batman got him on a chokehold. Ben Affleck wasn’t bad as Batman after all. I mean, he wasn’t as worse as George Clooney was. Although there were a few scenes where his performance, especially his facial expressions were lacking in depth. But even so, I’d still prefer a different actor to play Batman for the Justice League movie. I think Sam Worthington would play a better Batman.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was awesome. It’s a shame that she only had a few scenes in the movie. But then again, since this movie was all about Batman and Superman, I get why Wonder Woman had limited screen time. I particularly enjoyed her scenes when she was fighting Doomsday alongside Superman while Batman just stood and watched. That was a bit funny. That scene was really a fight between Kryptonians and meta-humans not with rich billionaires with expensive gadgets (But I still love you Batman!).

Wonder Woman

Photo Credit: independent.co.uk

Jesse Eisenberg was miscast in the movie. He looked too young to play Lex Luthor. I still couldn’t wrap my head around that. Whenever I see him on the screen I kept thinking he’s better off playing Jimmy Olsen than Lex Luthor (Interestingly, Zack Snyder initially wanted him to play Jimmy Olsen.). I think Eisenberg channeled a lot of Heath Ledger’s The Joker because I certainly got that Joker vibe in his performance.

While I generally loved the movie, there are still things in it I didn’t like and that bugged me. First of all, why did they make Lois Lane looked like a damsel in distress? I know she’s not supposed to be a weak character but the movie kept showing her as being always in need of Superman’s rescue. I was annoyed that Superman had to momentarily stop his fight against Doomsday so he could rescue Lois from drowning. Lois should’ve been smart enough not to retrieve the Kryptonite spear without some solid plan. Secondly, how could Lex Luthor have known about Superman and Batman’s real identities? How did he find out?

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Photo Credit: nydailynews.com

Also, I really didn’t like the fight scenes between Batman and Superman. It’s not because they’re not well-executed. It’s because that part was just a ploy to get the fanboys all excited. It’s all testosterone-driven. Had Superman insisted and told Batman sooner about Lex’s plan of wanting them to fight each other, they could have avoided that confrontation and saved a lot of time to help Martha. Honestly I would rather see an extended fight scene with them and Wonder Woman against Doomsday.

Admittedly, Batman v Superman isn’t perfect. I know some of the story’s loopholes can be attributed to the fact that the writers are saving them for the Justice League movie and the rest of the DC cinematic universe. While it has its flaws, for me it didn’t fail to entertain. I used to read Batman and Superman comics when I was a child but I didn’t follow the stories when I grew up. I stopped reading comics in high school and moved on to books. So I really don’t care if the movie wasn’t truthful to the comics or whatever it is that die-hard fanboys are complaining about. In the end, it’s my movie experience that matters anyway.

The Truth is Still Out There

February 28, 2016 at 9:36 PM | Posted in Fandom, Geek, TV | Leave a comment
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So X-philes from most parts of the world just witnessed the final episode of season 10 of The X-Files. While some fans felt The X-Files revival was unsatisfying, most are actually satisfied with the way it turned out. Ratings wise, The X-Files revival was a hit. It still garnered around 20 million viewers in the US from the season premiere.  And the final episode drew in about 7.6 million viewers in US alone.

I previously wrote reviews of the first three episodes of season 10. This time I’ve written reviews of the last three episodes. Here they are:

Episode 4: Home Again

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This was a Scully-centric episode that dealt with the death of Scully’s mother and how she coped with it. I saw two sides of Scully in this episode – the vulnerable and emotional Scully who desperately wanted to keep her mother alive, and the strong, rational one who wanted to catch a criminal. That emotional side of Scully was intensified with her strong feeling of guilt about William, the son she had with Mulder who they gave up for adoption. Underlying this episode was a story about a mysterious figure killing people who treated the homeless like they’re disposable things, easily discarded and forgotten.

Mulder & Scully with flashlights_HomeAgain

I admit I didn’t know what to make of this story the first time I saw it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. While Gillian Anderson’s emotional performance was commendable, I didn’t feel any connection with how she was feeling when her mother died while I was watching it. Maybe because it was so long ago when I last saw Scully’s mother and couldn’t remember the final episode where she was in. For me, it wasn’t as compelling and emotionally raw as the “Memento Mori” episode from season 4.  I just think it was kind of off that Mulder and Scully could still tease each other during an investigation given the circumstances about her mother. Yeah sure, the flashlight scenes were cute and awesome but the story about an artwork coming alive to kill people just didn’t do well for me. It sort of reminded me of that “Arcadia” episode.  It’s not really new.  It didn’t creep me out like the “Founder’s Mutation” episode did.

Episode 5: Babylon

Terrorism and racism are such serious matters and this episode’s attempt to fuel a discussion about these two social issues was a complete failure. “Babylon” was a story about an FBI investigation of a recent bombing of an art gallery by two young Muslim men. Two new FBI agents who resembled the younger versions of Mulder and Scully were called in to investigate the case. Agent Miller – like Mulder, was a believer of the supernatural and the paranormal while Agent Einstein – a medical doctor just like Scully, was a sceptic. The two young agents sought the help of Mulder and Scully during the investigation. One of the men who bombed the art gallery survived and was in a coma. Mulder and Miller believed that they could still communicate with the comatose terrorist by supernatural means to find out details of another bomb plot by Muslim extremists.

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Written by Chris Carter, this episode was riddled with problems right from the first scene. I remember feeling dreadful when I watch the first few scenes. The minute they showed a young Muslim man praying shortly before bombing the art gallery, I knew this episode was in trouble. It’s another attempt to stereotype Muslims. I know Carter deliberately wrote this to show us the ugly side of terrorism and racism and maybe spark a debate but it just fell flat for me. I could understand why some Muslims felt offended by the episode. And for me, the episode hit closer to home. The scene where a nurse said to Agent Einstein how immigrants were stealing American jobs and healthcare almost mirrored the words that my aunt heard when she first immigrated to the US. She experienced racism in the US firsthand. It was terrible. And the way that nurse in the episode said it, it was so hateful that I was offended.

These serious issues presented in the episode would have worked if it weren’t for the fact that Carter added humor to it by piecing together a sub-story about Mulder getting high on “magic mushrooms” (which turned out to be a placebo) to try to communicate with the comatose patient in another realm. I actually winced when they showed Mulder going to a Texas bar and dancing to Achy, Breaky Heart. And that 50 Shades joke was awful. Not even the appearance of The Lone Gunmen could make this episode better. The only scenes I liked in this episode were the ones with Mulder and Scully walking along outside Mulder’s house at the end. That was a shippy moment.

Mulder & Scully in Babylon ep_s10

But what was that about witnesses hearing trumpets from the sky? That wasn’t included in the investigation anymore. It was all but forgotten by the agents.

“Babylon” had the potential to be great if it was split into two stories – one episode dealing about terrorism and racism, and a separate funny episode where Mulder can go high and dance all he wants from the magic mushrooms.

Episode 6: My Struggle II

This episode was slightly better that its first part, although there were still loopholes in it. For the most part, “My Struggle II” focused on Scully and Agent Einstein figuring out how to stop the Spartan virus that was quickly spreading all over various cities. Mulder, on the other hand, spent his time tracking down the Cigarette Smoking Man – the one responsible for the spread of the virus – and trying to convince him to stop the outbreak. The twist of this episode was that there was no alien invasion that happened in 2012, only the discreet and massive dissemination of the Spartan virus through anthrax injection years ago. Scully’s alien DNA turned out to be the one solution they needed to kill the virus. Replicate her alien DNA and administer that to the sick patients and they would save so many lives.

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While I was admittedly at the edge of my seat while watching the episode, I couldn’t help but still feel frustrated by it. Mulder and Scully spent most of the episode apart when they could have solved the outbreak together. And I was disappointed that Agent Monica Reyes appeared in the episode only to reveal that she was conniving with the Cigarette Smoking Man. She could have refused CSM’s offer and sought the assistance of Assistant Director Skinner. But no, she went ahead and made a deal with CSM to save herself.

And I still couldn’t believe that everyone seemed to believe Tad O’Malley’s every word. He’s a well-known conspiracy theorist that some people might not even consider legit. Are we supposed to believe that people accept his words as truth instead of other authorities or prominent newscasters? Where was the FBI in all of this? Skinner should be in most of the scenes there along with people from the CDC.

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The ending was so abrupt and deliberate that you could tell that Chris Carter intended it that way so people would want another season to find out what happened in the story. I was also confused with that ending. Was that really an alien ship that hovered over Scully and Agent Miller or was that a man-made aircraft built in alien technology? We would never know for sure until the showrunners tell us there is a continuation of the story in season 11.

While there are fans who want Chris Carter out of season 11, I wouldn’t mind him being there for season 11 as a director or executive producer. I mean, he created the show in the first place. He created Mulder and Scully and I am forever grateful for that. He just has to come up with better storylines about the mythology. Season 10 is far from perfect. But overall I enjoyed it. And as fans, we should be thankful that Carter, Fox and the cast and crew gave us season 10 in the first place. I, for one, would still love to have season 11.

The X-Files Redux

February 15, 2016 at 10:17 PM | Posted in Geek, TV | Leave a comment
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The X-Files revival

The return of The X-Files on the small screen brought back my obsession with this show since the series ended in 2002, and since its second movie, I Want to Believe came out in 2008. Like many X-philes around the world, I anxiously anticipated its season premiere last January 24. Luckily for us Filipino fans, we got to watch the new season on cable via Fox Channel Philippines the same day as it aired in the US.

Suffice to say, I had mixed feelings about the first three episodes. The first time I watched each of these episodes, it left me with questions and feeling wanting more. Thus, I decided to watch all the three episodes again before I make a proper review of each. Here’s my take:

Episode 1: My Struggle

I didn’t like this episode. The general feeling I had about “My Struggle” was that it felt contrite. I had a feeling that Chris Carter – who wrote and directed the episode, wanted to build up excitement among the fans about the series’ mythology arc by putting practically all conspiracy theories involving alien abductions and government cover-ups in one episode. The narrations were too long. What could have been explained by Mulder in a couple of sentences were dragged out and narrated in a long, unnecessary dialogue. Carter even crammed the show’s two popular slogans in one dialogue.

 “I want to believe!” “The truth is out there!” These words were exchanged between Mulder and Scully during a scene where they were arguing.

Scully & Mulder_My Struggle

To me, this episode was just a general introduction to the newbie fans about the world of The X-Files. Nothing was really new except that Mulder and Scully weren’t together anymore. Yeah, apparently they broke up sometime after the movie, I Want to Believe. Bummer! Anyway, I deviate…

I wasn’t impressed by the supposedly shocking revelation in this episode. The plot twist being that it was a conspiracy of men all along. Men from a shadowy government used alien technology derived from the UFO crash in Roswell in the 1940’s and abducted innocent victims to experiment on them. There were no alien abductions after all. It’s all just a government cover-up.

Also, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren’t their best in this episode. I found their performance to be lacking in depth. But perhaps that’s because they’re still adjusting and settling in into their old characters?

Episode 2: Founder’s Mutation

This second episode was better. It felt like the old X-Files I knew and loved. “Founder’s Mutation” was a monster-of-the-week episode about a doctor doing questionable experiments on children and a teenaged boy with strange powers. It’s creepy enough, but not in the traditional sense of the word. I loved that Mulder and Scully were like their old selves again in this episode. I think David and Gillian felt more at ease with their old roles here.

Founder's Mutation_X-Files

In this episode, Mulder and Scully were back working at the FBI under the X-Files unit with Assistant Director Walter Skinner still as their boss. The fact that this wasn’t supposed to be the second episode from the lineup could explain why there were no mentions in the story about how Mulder and Scully were reinstated in the FBI. But I still have questions about this episode. Firstly, were there any objections from the other powers that be in the FBI about Mulder and Scully’s reinstatement? Where was FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh? Correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I could remember, weren’t there supposed to be Super Soldiers masquerading as agents within the walls of the FBI? What happened to them? I guess these questions might be answered in the upcoming final episode, “My Struggle II” which is a return to the mythology arc.

Anyway, this episode also touched upon the sensitive subject of William – Mulder and Scully’s son who was given up for adoption in season 9 to keep him safe from the people who wished him harm. Both Mulder and Scully imagined what life might have been for them if they didn’t give up William. The scenes were sweet and touching. I’m glad that Chris Carter and the writers decided to address this issue since after season 9 ended.

Episode 3: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

I’ve always loved the comedic episodes of The X-Files (“Small Potatoes” being one of my favorite funny episodes). It brought balance to the show, which was a refreshing break away from some of the heavy drama and scary stuff that the show was known for.

Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Such was the case with the third episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” It’s  campy on purpose and hilarious as hell! Darin Morgan, known for the funny and quirky episodes he’s written for the show, wrote this episode. I loved this episode for its witty dialogue and fun twist to the age-old story of a man turning into a werewolf during full moon. But this time, it wasn’t a werewolf but a were-lizard. Also, I just loved the banter between Mulder and Scully in this episode. It reminded me a lot of “Bad Blood.”

Rhys Darby, who played the were-monster/lizard, was superb in this episode. The delivery of his punchlines was exceptional. He was funny, lovable and endearing. Kumail Nanjiani, who played the animal control officer, was just as good. His facial expressions were priceless. And who could forget Scully in this episode being all flirty and stuff? That scene was hilarious! Also that scene with Mulder being clueless about his camera app was too cute and funny!

This is how I like my Mulder

There were a lot of funny scenes in this episode, but what fans probably loved the most were the Easter eggs scattered all throughout the episode. They were a tribute indeed to the X-philes – the fans who stayed loyal even after the series ended. I, for one, belong to that group.

I am enjoying The X-Files revival so far, and there are only two episodes left before season 10 comes to an end. I will be reviewing the three final episodes of the show next time. Here’s hoping that the show will still return for another season. I want to believe!

A Force to Reckon With

December 26, 2015 at 7:30 PM | Posted in Fandom, Film Reviews, Geek, Movies | 1 Comment
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Ever since I heard that there would be a new Star Wars trilogy, I had been eagerly awaiting for its first installment’s release. But unlike most fans, I was not hungry for spoilers. I avoided reading about leaked photos and possible plots about the film. There were so many of them that I wouldn’t even know which ones to believe. I wanted my experience of watching the new Star Wars movie to be unspoiled and untainted with plot theories.

Star Wars_TheForceAwakens poster

True enough, when I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time, I was blown away. I got so excited the minute the classic theme song played on screen and the all-too familiar opening crawl text came on. The movie started with a raid scene by an army of Stormtroopers at a small village in the desert planet of Jakku. They captured a pilot named Poe who was part of the Resistance group fighting against the evil First Order. Apparently, Luke Skywalker – the last Jedi – was missing and there’s this map that Poe had gotten hold of that the First Order wanted. The map contained the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, who of which the First Order wanted destroyed. Thankfully, Poe gave the map to a droid called BB-8 before he was captured.

If you’re a Star Wars fan then you’d know that Jedi knights are capable of bringing balance to The Force and the galaxy.

I loved the fact that the movie started off with a battle scene right away. As an audience, I was immediately pulled right into the action and enjoyed every minute of it. Kylo Ren, the main villain and leader of the First Order along with General Hux, was obviously a nod to Darth Vader. He looked menacing and as sinister as Darth Vader in the first scene.

And then there’s Rey, the main protagonist who was a scavenger in Jakku. She sells scrap metal for a living. She lived a lonely life until she met BB-8 and Finn, the Stormtrooper who deflected from the First Order. From then on, her life changed forever.

Before watching the movie, I was mulling over the idea of how cool it would be if there’s a female Jedi. Aside from Princess Leia and Queen Amidala, the movie franchise has always been dominated by male characters. There was never a female Jedi as a main character.

I was surprised and extremely delighted then when I found out that Rey turned out to be a Jedi in the making. She manifested the powers of a Jedi just like Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi before her. When I realized that I said to myself, “Finally! A female Jedi!” I loved everything about Rey. She’s strong, smart, independent and capable. She could defend herself without any male help. And she knew how to fly the Millennium Falcon! I almost made a fist pump during the scene where Kylo Ren was trying to will Luke’s lightsaber into his hands but it whizzed past him right into the hands of Rey. That was such a fantastic scene. And of course the lightsaber fight scene between her and Kylo Ren was absolutely fantastic.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-Rey-Finn-BB8-running

I only wish the writers could’ve given her a much cooler name than Rey. Rey is such an ordinary name for an extraordinary girl. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is a cool name for a villain.

Speaking of Kylo Ren, I liked him with his mask on. He looked and sounded as fearsome as Darth Vader. But when he took off the mask, I was kind of disappointed. He didn’t look menacing at all. He actually looked boyish – like a teenager trying to look tough. But perhaps that was the intention? After all, he was Luke’s apprentice. Maybe J.J. Abrams and the writers wanted him to behave like an immature teenager rebelling against his parents because he still had much to learn about The Force. He could not control his emotions. He’s not a complete Jedi yet.

The scene where he stabbed Han Solo with his red lightsaber was gut-wrenching. I could feel his conflicting emotions in that scene. Should he go back to his father and mother and be in the light side of The Force or should he continue to serve the evil supreme leader Snoke? In the end, he chose to be with the dark side of The Force and there was no turning back after that.

Kylo Ren and Stormtroopers

I have several questions about the movie when I left the cinema. And one of those questions was how come General Leia (formerly known as Princess Leia) never trained as a Jedi or used The Force? She was definitely capable of it. She felt the Force when Han Solo died. She could’ve used the Force to track down her brother Luke.

Also, why did Leia and Han Solo breakup? What caused the breakup? Is Rey the daughter of Luke? Is she a Skywalker after all? I highly suspect that she is Luke’s daughter. But if she is, then who is her mother? And why was she abandoned in Jakku?

What is Kylo Ren’s motivation of joining Snoke and practicing the dark side of The Force? Why does he want to be like Darth Vader?

How come Maz Kanata had Luke’s lightsaber? Who gave that to her?

The movie left so many questions unanswered. And I know the writers intentionally did that to make room for the second installment of the movie. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I want more.

Plus Points:

  1. The Chewbacca and Han Solo scenes were adorable.
  2. Poe and Finn bromance – need I say more?
  3. Girl power was in full force – from Stormtroopers to Resistance fighters, there were females aplenty!
  4. Well-known actors in cameo roles

An Ode (Sort of) to Star Wars

December 24, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Posted in Fandom, Geek, Movies | Leave a comment
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I am one of the thousands of Star Wars fans out there who couldn’t wait to see the latest installment of the film franchise. I saw the original Star Wars films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) on a VCR when I was a child. The movies were such a big deal in my family back then. I grew up in a big, ancestral house where my family and my aunt’s family lived together.

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

My male cousins, aunt and two uncles would talk about Star Wars often and watched the films over and over on VCR. In fact, my relatives were such fans of Star Wars that they bought a tape of the making of the Star Wars movies and watched it again and again. Having lived in the same house with them, I was able to see the movies on tape and watched how the Star Wars movies were made including behind-the-scenes footage of how they filmed the action sequences involving the spaceships and droids. I was amazed by how spectacular the movies were and even more amazed by how they were made.

Star Wars posterBack then, I liked the movies enough but didn’t catch on with the important details. For one, I didn’t know the name of Han Solo’s ship (*gasp!*) nor the name of Darth Vader’s killer star (*double gasp!*). I know right?! But hey, I was a kid back then and English was not my first language. So I had trouble understanding the dialogue.

But over the years, I had the chance to watch the movies again as a young adult and came to love them. And I eventually learned all the important names in the movie franchise — yes, including the Millennium Falcon and Death Star.

So when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit local cinemas, I went to see it as soon as I could. And it didn’t disappoint. It was spectacularly amazing. I felt nostalgic while watching it. The movie felt like it was an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. It filled me with fun memories and I felt so at ease.

However, like most fans out there who’ve seen the movie, I have questions that are left unanswered by the end of the film. Check out my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens here.

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