Author Archives: Michael Alegre

Four funny, ferocious, fine ladies are our new Ghostbusters!

‘Ghostbusters’ doubters BUSTED!

Friday, 15 July 2016 | Written by
Four funny, ferocious, fine ladies are our new Ghostbusters!
The new Ghostbusters!

The new Ghostbusters!

All the skeptics and naysayers can calm the f*ck down now. Ghostbusters was pretty damn good.

The 2016 Ghostbusters movie is a reboot of the 1984 supernatural comedy classic. Since it started marketing a year ago, (and especially after it was announced that it was going to feature an all-female team) the worst corners of the internet has absolutely ripped on it, even infamously making its first trailer the most disliked movie trailer on YouTube to date. A lot of things have been said against it – that it was a desecration to the beloved cult classic (and apparently of childhoods), a shameless cash grab, a diversity and feministic publicity stunt, or that the trailer simply looked bad and unfunny. Out of all of that, the only think you could really concretely have an opinion on is the trailer, so if you don’t like what you saw on the trailer, then okay, I can understand if you’re mildly peeved.

But to hate that much on a film and to decide that it’s trash without even having seen it yet? I don’t know. Color me traditional, but I usually reserve my verdicts on a movie after I’ve watched it.

And watch it I did. To no surprise, the Ghostbusters reboot was a fun supernatural romp totally undeserving of all the internet hate. It has a great cast, comedy that mostly landed, flashy and energetic action beats, consistently outstanding visual effects, a relatively simple story with a smooth flow and perfect pacing.

Who you gonna call?

Who you gonna call?

Melissa McCarthy (Abby), Kristen Wiig (Erin), Kate McKinnon (Holtzmann), and Leslie Jones (Patty) star as the 4 new Ghostbusters. Along with Chris Hemsworth’s beefcake simpleton receptionist Kevin, the team answers the city’s call for the strange and unexplainable.

Melissa McCarthy’s raunchy attitude isn’t always for everyone, I’ll even be the first to admit that her comedy leaves a bad taste at times, but she does shine in Feig’s movies. Feig is able to temper that usually raunchy, physical and overeager content to suit their movies. Their collaboration is a strong suit in itself. SNL alum Kristen Wiig brings a low-key charm as the team’s straight woman. Leslie Jones acts as the civilian avatar and delivers comical hysteria while Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann steals the show with her flamboyantly punk-slash-oddball swagger. McKinnon’s physicality, darting expressions, and delightfully zany charisma are the stuff of pop culture icons.

Pop culture icon waiting to happen.

Pop culture icon waiting to happen.

The chemistry between these four women is palpable – a fortunate result from years of working together in SNL (and McCarthy for being a multiple time former SNL guest and fellow comedic powerhouse.) When they’re obviously having fun together, how couldn’t we?

Rounding out the team is Chris Hemsworth’s moronic Kevin, but his “dumb blond” shtick was more flagrantly hit and miss than the rest. (Mostly misses) But at the very least, I’m glad he wasn’t just the eye candy comic relief I expected him to be. He serves the story in a pretty big way especially during the final act.

To the leads, not to mention the litter of other comedic actors making up the supporting cast, making people laugh is second nature. But at times the movie’s bogged down by pointless and cringe-worthy slapstick. It was funny all in all, for sure, but I concede that this was not their best comedic work. But then wasn’t the only thing that made this movie entertaining.

Ghostbusting time!

Ghostbusting time!

The one thing this reboot had a leg up on the original is its action beats. The actual ghost busting was some legit cool stuff! When I hear that familiar Ghostbusters theme and I see the ladies arm their proton packs and light things up, I couldn’t help but feel giddy inside. All the new toys, the spritely choreography and the vibrant CGI – the ghost fighting spectacle – are new to the brand and delivered flashes of awesomeness. Who says women can’t do action? There was one Holtzmann sequence near the end that gave me a genuine chill! Holtzmann is a total badass; McKinnon absolutely killed it! (Pun intended.)

With Paul Feig helming the film, it was always in good hands. With acclaimed comedies like The Heat, Spy and Bridesmaids, under his belt, the internet should have had a little more faith in his ability to make good, female-led adventure comedies.

Reboot Driector Paul Feig

Reboot Driector Paul Feig

Excluding some misogynistic responses, a lot of the initial negativity was probably from nostalgia for the original film. Reitman’s 80s film had this unique tone and blend of comedy, humor, and storytelling. (Murray’s removed acting style contributed to that distinctiveness and that alone is hard enough to replicate.) And to a lot of people, that was what made Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters.

But this reboot was made with love, not to mention an obvious blessing from the original. There were a handful of big nods and callbacks to the 80’s movie, even after the credits start rolling. So to anyone who feels like this isn’t a legitimate project, well rest assured that it was an affectionate and wholly respectful endeavor to our beloved property.

I’m guilty of fanboy entitlement myself (especially when it comes to comic book movies), so I can understand the fanboy disappointment, but at some point you just have to let it go and judge a film by virtue of its own merits. The bottomline? The Ghostbusters reboot was no Murray-Akroyd-Ramis-Hundson reincarnation, but did it entertain me? Yes, it sure as hell did. Did it puke all over the original movie? No it did not. Would I watch a sequel? I’m already excited for it!

Four funny, ferocious, fine ladies are our new Ghostbusters!

Four funny, ferocious, fine ladies are our new Ghostbusters!

For those who just really don’t like the idea that the Ghostbusters are women, well no one’s asking you to forget the original or throw away your copies. Both can be Ghostbusters. An it’s 2016. Captain America’s African American, Thor’s a woman, and there’s a Chinese Superman now. The world’s a changin’, don’t get left behind. ‘Coz the fact is, these four fine, funny ladies are Ghostbusters now too. Deal with it.

The Ghostbusters reboot may not generate the same, strong, cult following as the 1980’s movie as it lacks its novelty and distinctive character (especially in today’s big budget, adventure spectacle-laden film landscape), but no one can deny that the all-female reboot was still an entertaining and respectable reinterpretation. It has a drastically different tone and brand of humor, and is geared heavily towards a younger audience than the original, but it’s an update that’s true to form and honors and enriches the franchise. The strange and weird better watch out. There are new Ghostbusters in town now, and they are here to stay!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
You eventually root for ALL the characters at one point.

Why you need to watch Game of Thrones RIGHT NOW!

Thursday, 30 June 2016 | Written by
You eventually root for ALL the characters at one point.
The coveted prize of the Game of Thrones.

The coveted prize of the Game of Thrones.

Don’t you ever get tired of feeling left out when the latest Game of Thrones meme goes viral and you’re there scratching your head wondering why everyone suddenly wants to hold the door? The rest of the world laughs, or their collective hearts break, or are shocked, confused, frustrated, enraged and every other extreme emotion in the spectrum – and you have no idea what the freak is going on. Of course, you could watch the series but you’re intimidated by the hours you’d have to invest and the highfaluting dialogue you’ve heard so much about and countless names no one seems to remember or even pronounce properly. Who can blame you; it’s so much effort.

But I’m here to tell you, it’s so worth it! All it takes is the first step, just press play, and you’ll realize what all this fuss is about. Game of Thrones is likely one of the best written and envisioned pieces of art of our generation, and it’s not too late to get on this bandwagon!

Politics, drama, tension and generally nail-biting writing

Game of Thrones features a world where dragons, magic, giants, ghosts are commonplace; yet the story focuses on the people, countries, allegiances, rivalries and all the politics in between. GoT rebels against modern day fantasies that concern themselves too much with spectacle and CGI fluff. Grit, sex, murder, deception, betrayal, vengeance, honor, principle – these are the meat of this show and the fantasy elements are just sweet, beautiful icing.

dragons

The fantasy elements are just icing to the character drama.

Every episode leaves you at the edge of your seat and craving for more. Its drama sends you through a whirlwind of emotions. And one huge reason why, and I’m sure you already know this, is that no one is safe in this world. Anybody can be collateral. It’s not a show that butters up the notion of war, it doesn’t give you closure, it doesn’t make a show of character exits; sometimes they characters die without notice and without glamor. Honorable deaths, what’s that?

So be ready for the shock and disbelief followed by a long period of mourning. (Every GoT fan’s guilty pleasure, I’m sure.)

No clear villain

You eventually root for ALL the characters at one point.

You eventually root for ALL the characters at one point.

There are no clear heroes and villains (well maybe a couple of clear heroes), just people; people with strengths, weaknesses, agendas, principles, flaws and potentials for growth. There are characters you start off despising, then eventually root for…and then sometimes hate again! They go through motions, develop and become more and more complex. They’re never static, which is what makes them so compelling. The characters and their agendas are really what you tune in week after week for.

Medieval spectacle

…that and the UNMATCHED production quality!

Watch close enough and you realize that every shield’s insignia and sword’s pommel is different, the decaying in the flesh of each demon ice army soldier is unique, every single one of the rural extras have a variety of flamboyant fabrics, accessories and textures. At the same time, there’s a regality coloring a certain family and inversely, a depravity for another and there’s a lush fashion sense observed by an entitled society while a drab uniform wraps a slave people. There is a very deliberate and thorough attention to detail and individuality that spans an unbelievably immense scale – from the tiniest of things to the broader, more collective levels.

Captivating city scapes.

Captivating city scapes.

Exotic and beautiful locales, citywide sets, majestic castles, exhaustive regalia – every visual aspect of Game of Thrones is intended to ensure audiences are completely immersed in the world of Westeros (and beyond).

Unbelievable action set pieces

If it's a fight you want...

If it’s a fight you want…

This show doesn’t always do action set pieces but when they do, they are freaking EPIC. GoT’s battle sequences are like mini-Bravehearts or medieval Saving Private Ryan – large scale, bloody and savage, brilliantly constructed and extremely, extremely, satisfying!

Consistency is key

Most shows lose steam around the third or fourth season. That’s around the time you only still watch because you don’t want to waste the hours you’ve spent on it or you still hope it gets good again. But with GoT, you won’t ever feel this way. Six seasons in and it’s still as good as the first few episodes I watched then…if not BETTER. And the more I invest in this world, the deeper all its drama affects me.

Sexy People

<3<3<3

<3<3<3

Whether they’re good or bad, there’s one thing they all have in common – they are freaking GORGEOUS. Lena Headey’s Cersei Lanister, Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark, Richard Madden’s Robb Stark, Rose Leslie’s Ygritte, Carice Van Houten’s Melisandre, Emilia Clarke’s Deanerys Targaryan, and Kit Harington’s Jon Snow, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jamie Lannister (who’s coincidentally the splitting image of Shrek’s “Prince Charming”) – my god this show is littered with beautiful people.

Good god man, are you for real?

Good god man, are you for real??

Tyrion Lannister / Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage should get an award fo...oh wait, he did.

Peter Dinklage should get an award fo…oh wait, he did.

Tyrion Lannister is so amazing an individual that he deserves an entry of his own! He is the single most bad ass character in all of Westeros (maybe even in all of FICTION!) He’s an imp. But don’t let his vertically challenged stature fool you – no one towers over everyone else more than Tyrion Lannister.

All his life he’s had the odds stacked against him, yet he never lets it bring him down. Instead it fuels him to be someone the world doesn’t think he can be. He’s one of the land’s best political and strategic minds, making him a powerful asset to anyone vying for the throne.

But really the best thing about him is how sassy he is! Seriously, the balls on this guy would give a basketball a run for its money! And this is in no small part because of Peter Dinklage’s outstanding performance!

Social inclusion

And finally, you really should start watching so you know what the heck everyone on your Facebook feed is talking about!

Time to get in the 'game',

Time to get in the ‘game’,

When you think about it, it’s actually the better for you to watch it NOW than back then! Binge watching will make it easier to remember all those pesky names and multiple simultaneous plot lines. It’s nearing the end of the series so you’re just in time for the climactic season. It’s not too late that you already know how it all ends before you even started and late enough that by now you’d have already forgotten all the more significant spoilers that went viral! It’s perfect! Now I wish I could watch it for the first time too!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
Dynamic duo of action comedy!

(Movie review) ‘Central Intelligence’ exploits the Rock and Hart connection!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 | Written by
Dynamic duo of action comedy!
Genuinely fun and genuinely funny.

Genuinely fun and genuinely funny.

Robbie Weirdicht (pronounced “weird dick”) is my new favorite action hero! He’s tough, smooth, all sorts of bad ass, aaaaaand he loves sappy romance movies! My kind of hero! The sensitive kind!

The Rock stars as Robbie Weirdicht, aka Bob Stone, a former fat and bullied kid in high school, who turns his life around and becomes CIA super spy in jorts. He reunites with the only friend he had in high school, Calvin “Golden Jet” Joyner (Kevin Hart), for a 20-year reunion but inadvertently drags Jet into his world of high-risk espionage. But Jet soon realizes that not everything is as it seems, as the line between good guy and bad guy start to get murky. He starts to wonder: is Bob Stone really who he says he is?

Dynamic duo of action comedy!

Dynamic duo of action comedy!

The film strikes a good balance of action and humor (albeit with a few, forgivable moments of expositional drag) Its action is what you’d expect from someone like The Rock – aggressing, hard-hitting – but with the humor leaking and lending itself to action beats, it becomes a teensy bit slapstick. Imagine Rush Hour with more muscle. There’s a lessened sense of danger, but watching The Rock kick butt and shoot stuff is still very much enjoyable.

The Rock, or Dwayne Johnson as he’s been calling himself since his Hollywood career started (but he’ll always be the Rock to me), has really come a long way since his early acting days. As a big 90’s wrestling and Rock fan, I used to watch all his new films. The first few ones filled me with gleeful and nerdy excitement at the idea that The Rock was in an actual movie. I thought it was so cool, but really, in hindsight, he wasn’t all that good. He was type-casted as the big, buff, bad ass, he had a way of acting and speaking that was prevalent across all his roles, he had a lot ticks and mannerisms, “Rock-isms” if I may, that were absolutely glaring – I could never see him as anything other than “The Rock”. Having played the character for years, he just couldn’t seem to get away from the persona. The Dwayne Johnson rebrand didn’t help much either.

But I’m happy to say, in Central Intelligence, while I still saw faint traces of “The Rock”, I was mostly seeing Robbie Weirdicht/Bob Stone. I bought it – I bought the character, I bought his history, his motivations, his anxieties, etc. Dwayne Johnson has started elevating his performance since, maybe, 3 or 4 films ago, but it’s never been more evident than here. And Central Intelligence is all the better for it.

Your new favorite action hero!

Bob Stone – your new favorite action hero!

It’s a good thing his character gave him the chance to stretch his acting muscles a bit. Bob is a refreshingly nuanced action hero. He’s not your Herculean, chisel-jawed, over confident, Rambo-James Bond hybrid hero-type. There’s a lot more to this guy than brawn that made him very unique; even relatable. One such quality is that he was a former fat kid and with it comes a complex set of deep-seeded insecurities and fears you don’t normally associate with action heroes. His unease when he encounters something that reminded him of his awful high school life was pretty tragic to watch and Johnson played it with conscious subtlety. Sure he’s still a gigantic bad ass when he needs to be, but the character pleasantly disarms when he’s shown to be the same gentle, goofy, unapologetically girly-man-inside soul he was when he was a kid.

There’s a mystery element in the plot that was a nice swerve from the normal buddy cop comedy formula. Having this uncertainty cloud over Bob’s intentions kept the audience on their toes and mindful of the details. But even though the casting ultimately made the end game predictable (don’t ask me how), the whole plotline still made Bob Stone an even more compelling character.

Let’s talk about his partner now though. Kevin Hart is no sidekick; he’s a partner. He brings the chuckles just as much as Johnson brings the pain. His adlibs are to him what punches are to The Rock and no surprise to anyone that Hart’s mouth is just as action-packed!

Straight man actually suits him.

Straight man actually suits him.

Hart’s Golden Jet Joyner is the former high school superstar who grows up to become a very ill-equipped to be entangled in all this spy stuff accountant. This is honestly the first time I’ve ever seen Hart play the straight man to anyone so if you want to talk restrained performances, give the award to this man! (Well, straight relative to Johnson’s more unpredictable super spy.) The role of the straight man suppressed Kevin Hart’s typically aggressive, rapid-fire and crass brand of humor (that I usually find forced and hard to swallow.) But Hart’s controlled performance and this simmering hysteria he put into Jet, made me appreciate his comedic knack even more! It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was seriously bawling at a few quips and gags with Johnson.

Such love between these two.

Such love between these two.

Who’d have thought these two would make such a powerful comedy duo? Their rapport radiated off the screen! They had such great chemistry and comedic harmony that you’d think they’ve been doing this together for years. Well, hopefully rest of the world feels the same and they do end up doing this for years. (Central Intelligence 2!)

But the fun doesn’t stop with the 2 leads. (Minor spoilers. Skip to the next paragraph to avoid!) The movie’s trailers did a great job hiding the rest of the film’s entire cast (finally someone did trailers right!) The focus was very much on the two, making some of the other roles practically cameos. But they weren’t there just for fan service’ sake; these were surprising and enjoyable cameos, no doubt, but they also relevantly served the main story.

Sequel please!

Sequel please!

Central Intelligence made the most out of its two lead actors’ individual appeal as well as their considerable on-screen chemistry. Along with the perfect mix of action-packed brawls and shoot-outs, cloak and daggers and double crosses, goofy, frantic, and at times cleverly meta humor, these two loveable characters made a very strong mark on the genre. I do hope they turn this into a franchise. Who knows, maybe Bob Stone and Golden Jet could be the next Riggs and Murtaugh!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
Let the magic entertain.

Movie review: ‘Now You See Me 2′ doubles up on its MAGIC!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 | Written by
Let the magic entertain.

 

 

Should have been called "Now You Don't". Missed opportunity there, if you ask me.

Should have been called “Now You Don’t”. Missed opportunity there, if you ask me.

I am speechless. I am literally going to have a hard time writing this. Because right now, having just come out of the movie, all I can think of is…THAT. WAS. AMAAAAAAZIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!!!

Unlike the first one where I practically knew nothing about what was coming, this time, I had high expectations. (An unavoidable consequence of having been wowed so immensely by the first film) So high in fact that I was afraid I was setting myself up for a letdown. But no, this movie met and exceeded all of my expectations. From the crafty action beats, intricate plots, and charming characters, to the twists, turns, misdirection, and grand reveals – every meticulously planned aspect of this film was pure magic!

The Four Horsemen are back!

The Four Horsemen are back!

The Four Horsemen have gained notoriety for using their magic to oust white collar crimes (and put on a hellova show too, of course) and now they’re back with their next big performance. But as they embark on their appointed mission, a shadowy figure is pulling the strings from behind their curtains. It’s magician vs. magician, skill vs. skill, intellect vs. intellect, as the Horsemen face off against a formidable opponent who seems to know everything inside the four illusionists’ bag of tricks!

There’s a thoughtful focus on the two main narratives (one involving the Horsemen, and another with Ruffalo’s Dylan Rhodes) and a deliberate pace and balance between its action and mystery beats. For a 2-hour movie, the whole thing goes by pretty quickly and with an easy rhythm. But I understand the critics have not been kind to the sequel, mostly stemming from the ridiculousness of what the movie tries to pass off as actual practical magic, but I was unaffected. I genuinely had a fun time with it!

Is any of the magic here real? Probably not. A few of them, maybe, because you’ve seen them or variations of them before, but some were just damn near preposterous and done with an excess of CGI (albeit seamless ones). But should that diminish your level of enjoyment in any way? Absolutely not. Just like any good magic trick, this film requires some suspension of disbelief. The more skeptical you are, the harder it is to appreciate the trick. So roll with it. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Believe.

Let the magic entertain.

Let the magic entertain.

Because that’s what Now You See Me 2 was like – one giant magic trick. Its plot teases, seduces, distracts, misleads, and then ultimately sets you up for the big payoff. Your eyes are glued to the screen from start to finish, trying your best not to miss anything while trying to figure out how the tricks are being done, or who is playing whom. There was a certain joy in trying to find the answers in the film’s details, and it’s doubly satisfying once they’re finally revealed (and you find out it still subverts all your expectations.)

It’s Ocean’s Eleven, if Ocean’s Eleven had semi-plausible superpowers. The film embodies a similar suave and intellect, while adding the razzle dazzle of a superhero flick. Basically the two things that made the first movie such a joy to watch in the first place. But NYSM2 is not a mere repeat; it’s a natural progression of what’s come before.

The sequel retains most of what made the first movie work thematically, but it also exhibits growth in both the story and its characters. Dylan, for example, starts off as the FBI agent he was in the first movie before being revealed as the Horsemen’s unseen grandmaster. And as easy as it is to stick to that formula, the film quickly evolves Dylan’s roll from inside man to frantic protector. His backstory is fleshed out, and there is a sense that his past is not as black and white as the first film made it out to be.

Dylan and his rival, Thaddeus Bradley.

Dylan and his rival, Thaddeus Bradley.

The progression was even more apparent with Merritt and Jack who were both learning each other’s trades, trying to be more than a one trick pony. It’s a seemingly negligible side story at first but it plays out surprisingly substantially by the end.

My two favorites: Merritt and Jack.

My two favorites: Merritt and Jack.

Speaking of the characters, while the energetic and flashy, “magic” craft and the intriguing mystery elements are the film’s main course, it’s the characters, their performances, witty banter and strong chemistry that really accentuate this crime caper’s entertainment value. All the characters, from Eisenberg’s Daniel Atlas to Freeman’s Thaddeus Bradley gives the film its perpetually slick and confident undercurrent.

I especially loved Ruffalo’s performance, as Dylan dances a thin line of poise and desperation. Dave Franco’s Jack Wilder is still a fan favorite, with his naïve charm and sleight-of-hand skills. Lizzy Caplan’s Lula replaces Isla Fisher’s Henley as the female horseman, but fits right in with the crew like a glove. She certainly has the most personality in the group. And Woody Harrelson…I’ll avoid giving too much away but suffice to say that he delivered an amusingly unexpected, VERY versatile performance.

Harry Potter and The Horsemen.

Harry Potter and The Horsemen.

Even Daniel Radcliffe’s Walter Marby was fun to watch. I’m not sure if the trailers already gave away his role in the story, so similarly, I’ll avoid accidentally spoiling you. But it was because of him that I really felt the stakes get higher, and the threat to the Horsemen more daunting.

Said intensified rivalry between The Horsemen and their adversaries also amped up the all the crafty “magic” acts. The spy trade in their first heist, that nifty pat down scene, anytime someone gets hypnotized, they were the best parts of the movie! It was wildly improbable, yet also wildly entertaining!

Not all is what they appear to be.

Not all is what they appear to be.

Now You See Me 2 will tickle your mind with its sneaky, twisty-turny plot and captivate you with its glitzy, cleverly-engineered illusions and wickedly cool characters – pretty much the same reasons the first movie was such a hit. But NYSM 2 is definitely not limited to that. It’s a step up and a step forward for the franchise and I’m hoping they still have more up their sleeves to pull out a third installment because Now You See Me 2 was absolutely magical!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
Heroes in a half-shell!

Movie review: ‘Out Of The Shadows’ gets a bit closer to the TMNT we love!

Thursday, 9 June 2016 | Written by
Heroes in a half-shell!
Heroes in a half-shell!

Heroes in a half-shell!

Cowabunga.

Finally, a TMNT movie worthy of the name. It’s by no means a great movie, but it was certainly an improvement from the first.

Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey are back. Along with April O’Neil, they continue to protect New York City from the shadows. But when their biggest threat, Shredder, escapes from custody and enlists the help of two classic mutant villains with strength that rival the Turtles’ own, our heroes in a half shell may need to adjust their status quo and get some help themselves.

Eherm, Casey Jones, eherm.

TMNT: Out of the Shadows was a homecoming for the franchise of sorts. A no-frills family adventure, some extra-dimensional sci-fi elements, the simultaneous brotherly rivalry and exuberance, and an overall easy tone was very reminiscent of the late 80’s – early 90’s TMNT series and Vanilla Ice-era movies. While the first movie, in its attempt to introduce us to a contemporary version of the Turtles and their origins and their world, ends up being convoluted and notably bizarre, the sequel on the other hand was a lot more nostalgic in its simplicity. (Minor spoilers to follow!)

Bebop and Rocksteady

Bebop and Rocksteady.

Casey Jones, Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, the Turtle truck, Krang(!), it was fun to see them all again, and without the complicated backstories that provoked much of the appalled grunts and eye-rolling in the first movie. (Well, Casey Jones wasn’t as bad ass as I’d want him to be, but I’ll get to that later.) Bebop and Rocksteady were simpletons who gravitate towards the nearest big bad dude, Krang was an extra-dimensional alien looking to conquer the planet, and heck, they even fixed Shredder! No more of that robot armor crap; just a leaner, bossier, grumpier Shred-head. And his now relationship with Krang brings back old childhood memories of the two bickering about whose fault it was that their plan was foiled by the Turtles yet again.

So I’m not going to pretend that this was some complex, adult movie — this was definitely for kids (especially with all the silly and lengthy cartoon “science” expositions.) But as soon as you accept that and set your mind to that predisposition, you’ll hopefully be able to enjoy the film as much as I did.

There wasn’t a dull moment. If the Turtles weren’t zipping and zooming all over New York’s rooftops and sewers, or kicking major baddie butts, or posing for the camera in what could arguably be some of the coolest hero shots done in recent years, there was plenty of family-friendly quips and sibling drama and existential undertones to go around.

Turtle power!

Turtle power!

The ninja action beats were sharp, energetic, and staged beautifully and their team-up moves were twice as awesome to watch. A couple of them were cut a little too quick, made things a bit jarring and dizzying, but it was negligible. I found myself laughing at most of the jokes (What would Vin Diesel do?) and there were some really great heart-tugging moments from the characters. Raph’s anger and frustration is staple by now, but Michael Angelo, after a certain police station scene, was particularly heartbreaking to watch. It’s an added testament to the animators’ skill to be able to evoke that level of nuanced emotion from their CG creations.

And TMNT does a great job balancing all its elements. The story unfolded at just the right speed, with just the right amounts of action, comedy and drama, and with just enough attention on the humans so as not to lose focus on the stars, the Turtles.

Okay, time to pull on the brakes for a second. People might start to think I’m giving the movie too much credit, but I don’t mean to. Out of the Shadows was an enjoyable movie, but it’s not without its flaws.

For one, Leo felt like he took two steps backwards. We already saw him rise to become the leader he’s meant to be during the first movie, and now he’s suddenly a total tool of an older brother? Granted though, we seldom see the infallible Leonardo be so…fallible, so that’s fresh, I’ll give them that, but it wasn’t organic and just felt like a plot device meant to manufacture conflict between the brothers.

"Casey Jones".

“Casey Jones”.

Casey Jones’ altered origin as a laid back correctional guard wasn’t very appealing. The character’s charm traditionally comes from his rebellious spirit. He was an outsider, much like the Turtles, which became the foundation of their affinity towards each other. There was a beautiful harmony between his tough exterior and cool, defiant attitude. But in Out of the Shadows, you couldn’t feel that. He was rebellious, sure, going on his solo manhunt, but his perpetually jolly and wisecracking persona just felt weird and inconsistent with his mission and Stephen Amell just couldn’t quite nail the balance between gritty and playful. That was no “Casey Jones”. That was a random character who happened to also be named Casey Jones.  That’s not to say it was a complete misstep though. His affiliation with the authorities at least kept the story tight and focused on the NYPD until the conflict between the turtles and the city comes full circle during the pay off.

Speaking of the pay off, their “out of shadows” moment with the NYPD was great. I liked it. It was a very cool moment and it even echoed Spider-man 2’s train scene, but it was still lacking. I think it could have been more emotionally resonant, could have been given more depth. The buildup was there, but there was really no pivotal confrontation or realization; Leo and Raph just suddenly “grew up”. There were some missed opportunities there for some great coming of age and family drama. They could have been more ambitious with the material and pushed it a bit further.

Missed opportunities and a couple of character lapses aside, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows was still fun to watch. I very much appreciated all the course correcting they made. There was an overall decrease in face palms and an increase in whatever stuff makes TMNT work. Out of the Shadows is a step closer to TMNT that I loved as a kid; it still has ways to go but I have faith it’ll get there with the self-awareness they’ve shown here and more of that patented Turtle power!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
I still have hope for the future.

(Movie review) ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is persistently mediocre

Monday, 23 May 2016 | Written by
I still have hope for the future.
'X-Men Apocalypse' NOW SHOWING!

‘X-Men Apocalypse’ NOW SHOWING!

And just like that, the three most anticipated movies of 2016 are over. Sure there’s still Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange but those didn’t get half as much anticipation or scale as BvS, Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse had. These were the big three, and how did Apocalypse stack up to the other two?

While BvS received extreme contempt and Civil War, inversely, with a booming praise, X-Men: Apocalypse was somewhere in the middle ground. It had flashes of brilliance, but a lot of flat and cliché moments as well, leaving a lot lingering ‘meh’ in its wake. It wasn’t bad per se, it was okay, but this is definitely the weakest of the three “new” X-Men films.

Let’s get to it then. SPOILER WARNING, as I won’t be able to discuss its weak points without giving detailed examples.

THE GOOD: Magneto’s Tragedy

Everything Magneto was great!

Everything Magneto was great!

I would even go as far as to say everything about Magneto was great (‘cept for one thing, but I’ll get to that later). His costume was cool; his powers were freaking awesome, and his arc and his drama were just the best thing about the film. Michael Fassbender’s performance as a deeply tortured and conflicted soul was sincere and utterly heart-breaking and it gave the film its emotional core.

THE BAD: Undeserved Turn

It was so perfect – Magneto goes evil after losing his family but eventually realizes he literally has other family to fight for, Quicksilver. That’s why the reveal was made right? So in the end, Peter would be the key to returning Magneto to the light side ala-Return of the Jedi?

…except he wasn’t. In the end, it was Mystique’s rousing (sarcastic) speech that made him realize his faults. Are we to believe his turn came from Mystique? A person he hasn’t seen in a decade?

The connection wasn’t there, it lacked emotional gravitas, and so the turn felt completely undeserved. Magneto’s strong family undercurrent ended in a whimper and it robbed the character of a great moment for growth.

THE GOOD: Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Quicksilver

The all-new X-Men.

The all-new X-Men.

The “new” X-Men were welcome additions to the cast. They gave the film some Marvel-esque levity while also paving the way for the franchise to right the wrongs done to the characters in the previous trilogy. Cyclops, Jean and Nightcrawler all played very active roles in the story and especially the climactic fight and it was wonderful.

All 4 of them had moments to shine. Cyclops optic blasts were extremely potent, Nightcrawler’s ability came in entertainingly handy near the end, and Jean, well, her big moment was jaw-dropping!

Watch out for another Quicksilver moment!

Watch out for another Quicksilver moment!

And then there’s Quicksilver, whose relatively bigger role compared to DOFP gave him the opportunity to outdo his DOFP’s prison scene and even go toe to toe for a while with Apocalypse himself!

THE BAD: Those damn Four Horsemen

I love Olivia Munn and all, but her character needed some fleshing out.

I love Olivia Munn and all, but her character needed some fleshing out.

Psylocke, Angel, and to a certain extent Storm too, were nothing but two-bit thugs with no layers to them whatsoever! They literally just stood around for more than half of the film! And Angel, was a freaking glam rock drunkard! WHUT??…I mean, you didn’t have to give each of them a compelling side story, but jeez, at least give them some personality!

THE GOOD: It wasn’t as Mystique-centric as I expected

With all the promo materials highlighting Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, it was easy to worry that they were doing another “Wolverine” and make the movie revolve around the actor with the biggest star power.  But fortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse was a lot more well-rounded, focusing on Magneto and Charles and the new kids as much as it did Mystique.

THE BAD: Still felt like Mystique was being shoved down our throats

Hope Cyclops takes the lead next time.

Hope Cyclops takes the lead next time.

I still think the character gets way more credit than she deserves. Aside from not really earning her role as Eric’s voice of reason, she was practically absent in the final battle. Hell, she uses her powers TWICE throughout the movie I think.

And yet for some strange reason, she becomes the X-Men’s drill sergeant, further undermining Mystique’s inherently trait of working in the shadows.

THE GOOD: Lots of cool action set pieces

The opening act, Quicksilver’s rescue scene, the final boss battle – X-Men: Apocalypse was not lacking in the pretty and exciting action beats department.

THE BAD: Too many subplots with some inconsistent pacing

…But it’s unfortunately drowned out by way too many subplots!

I understand the desire for every character to have their own personal journey, but because they tried to cram it in a two and a half hour movie, almost none of these individual arcs were properly fleshed out. Charles and Moira’s romance, Quicksilver’s paternal search, Mystique’s vigilante adventures, Striker’s kidnapping, Scott and Alex’…thing, everything felt half baked! So much so that Alex’ OFF SCREEN death was practically dusted off! Havoc deserved better.

Some of these arcs were better off being reserved for future installments. For example, if they weren’t telling Magneto about his connection to Quicksilver, they never should have brought it up in the first place. It had no bearing in the story, just more noise in an already saturated narrative. They could have instead just hinted at the lineage to build up a bigger reveal down the road.

The only sub plot to really serve the overarching story was Eric’s and Jean’s. And between those two, Jean’s was the only one that really payed off.

The subplot overkill is underscored by its odd pace and the seemingly varying speeds of each scene! At one point the X-Men has this massive escape sequence, a lot of things were happening left and right, then it periodically cuts to Apocalypse putting make up on Angel or playing dress up with Magneto or just basically standing around, it’s so weird and disjointed! Action-packed segments would be eclipsed by a glaring non-activity of Apocalypse and his cronies. It’s either time was moving faster where the X-Men were or Apocalypse was taking his sweet time so the X-Men to catch up.

THE GOOD: Feral Wolverine

Hugh Jackman was full on, berserker mode Wolverine! Slicing ass and taking names! Hell yeah! It’s the Wolverine he was meant to be! (As opposed to the implied, and mostly blood-less killing he did back then.)

THE BAD: Underwhelming Apocalypse

Discount Apocalypse.

Discount Apocalypse.

For a movie that’s called “Apocalypse”, he never really feels like much of a threat until the very end.

Of course it doesn’t help that he didn’t feel like an overarching villain ‘coz. More like second half’s villain. Major Striker snuck in there and became the mid-movie dilemma for a while. Neither was the aforementioned standing around. Or the fact that he doesn’t have the built or powers we usually associate him with.

When you think about it, Apocalypse is actually pretty considerate. He already had the world’s nukes launched, but he throws it into space. If anything, he just brought the world a step closer to world peace. But seriously though, if the end goal was to bring about destruction and reap the strong from the weak, couldn’t he have done it quicker with the nukes instead of having Magneto slowly tear the world apart?

Also, the one OFFENSIVE ability he had was being able to manipulate atoms and practically erasing people at a thought, yet he fails to use them against the X-Men. He just puts up his force field. Nice guy, that En Sabah Nur.

I still have hope for the future.

I still have hope for the future.

X-Men: Apocalypse was persistently mediocre. But I guess it was too tall an order to expect 2 mind-blowing X-Men movies in a row. I still enjoyed though; I still have hope for the franchise, but Jean said it best, “…we can all agree, the third one is always the worst”.

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
X-Men's latest big bad, Apocalypse.

X-Men Primer: Who is Apocalypse?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 | Written by
X-Men's latest big bad, Apocalypse.

,

X-Men's latest big bad, Apocalypse.

X-Men’s latest big bad, Apocalypse.

The younger generation must think that X-Men: “Apocalypse” is supposed to foreshadow some kind of end of the world destruction or something, but while that may very well be the case to a certain extent, it’s also, simply, the name of the next X-Men film’s big bad villain.  90’s kids like me know him best from the very well-known, pop culture gem, blue and gold X-Men era animated show, and as the final boss in the 1996 revolutionary crossover videogame, X-Men vs. Street Fighter. He’s a towering, blue and gray, machine-like mutant, who can layeth the smack down on every other puny mutant candy *ss. In short, this guy is trouble. But who IS Apocalypse? Where’d he come from? What can he do? Why does he do it? Well, let me give you the rundown before the next X-Men installment hits tomorrow!

Origin

I’ll just be giving you the broad strokes as Apocalypse’ thousands of years of living are bound to contain way too much detail.

Yep, you heard right, thousands of years.

En Sabah Nur, the pre-celestial tech Apocalypse.

En Sabah Nur, the pre-celestial tech Apocalypse.

5000 years ago, En Sabah Nur, the one who would later be known as Apocalypse, was born in ancient Egypt. He had gray skin and blue lips – the earliest manifes tations of his genetic mutation. He was the first: the first one to be born with an X-gene, the first and oldest mutant ever.

He was abandoned as a child due to his strange condition but was soon rescued and brought up by Baal, leader of the Sandstormer tribe. These Sandstormers live by a Darwanistic principle – survival of the fittest – a creed that Apocalypse would eventually take on as well.

In fear that En Sabah Nur would soon become a threat, the Pharaoh sends men to destroy him and the Sandstormers. The attack would devastate the tribe and leave En Sabah Nur with his dying father, but in his drying breath, Baal reveals to En the location of advanced technologies he can use to avenge their fallen tribe.

En Sabah Nur attempts to kill the Pharaoh and in the process fills him with so much rage that it triggers his dormant mutant abilities to fully emerge. En Sabah Nur is reborn into Apocalypse.

Apocalypse eventually bonds with the technology from deity-like alien beings called the Celestials, further augmenting his already dominating mutant abilities. With his centuries of being a mutant and his particularly handy alien tech, it’s no wonder Apocalypse would eventually become one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful mutant ever.

Motivation

With the kind of kill or be killed environment the Sandstormers instilled in En, and his clear physical and mental dominance over others, Apocalypse values strength. While Magneto believes that mutantkind is the inherently superior race, Apocalypse does not discriminate. He lives by a simple rationale, if you are weak, you will be destroyed, regardless if you’re human or mutant. Only the strongest of the strong deserve to survive in Apocalypse’ world.

Humans and Mutants alike tremble at his feet!

Humans and Mutants alike tremble at his feet!

The Celestials’ technology allows Apocalypse to stay in suspended animation for long periods of time but every few centuries or so, he would awaken. Lurking in the shadows, he tests civilizations by posing as their deities (or convincing them he was one himself) and inciting war across the world. As with any good villain, Apocalypse’ actions are, to him, of virtuous intention. This destruction is only meant to foster growth, build a stronger, more resilient race, and ensure evolution until such time that man is at a level worthy of his reign.

Powers

When he merged with the Celestials’ tech Baal left him, it essentially put Apocalypse at a level past regular mutants (or villains in general for that matter). Apocalypse probably has the most number of abilities any single character has in comic book history!

His most notorious abilities include shape and density shifting which is why on most media appearances he’s seen as this imposing giant robot thing. But his ability to manipulate his body is not only limited to increasing his size to swat his enemies down. He has such mastery over every cell on his body that he can heal his wounds, regenerate limbs, convert any part of his body into weapons or equipment, change his appearance, adapt to any and all environments, teleport, fly, phase through objects, and inversely, harden his body. Basically anything he wants to do with his body, he can do.

Apocalypse from 90's X-Men Animated Series.

Apocalypse from 90’s X-Men Animated Series.

On top of that he has your run of the mill super strength, telepathy, telekinesis and technopathy (ability to “converse” with his tech). He also has the ability to absorb energy and launch projectiles. With his inherent mutant ability to stop aging, his regeneration, and the Celestial tech he uses to recover from even more serious injuries, Apocalypse has practically made himself immortal.

I’m not even done yet! He’s so powerful that even his blood can heal other mutants and/or kill humans. And not only is he PHYSICALLY intimidating, he’s also intellectually more advanced than almost anyone. He even uses the sciences he learned from the Celestial technology to alter/augment other mutants or humans. Heck, Apocalypse CREATED Mister Sinister!

X-Men VS. Street Fighter's Final Boss Fight!

X-Men VS. Street Fighter’s Final Boss Fight!

Apocalypse is the superpower encyclopedia incarnate. His ridiculously over-powered and wide-ranging skill set is the reason why he can go toe to toe with TEAMS of super-powered individuals and STILL come out on top and why he’s a threat not only to the X-Men but to the entire Marvel Universe!

The Horsemen of Apocalypse

As if Apocalypse on his own wasn’t enough to contend with, he has to go round up, brainwash and supercharge 4 other mutants to do his bidding. They are Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen – you can’t talk about one without the other.

With Horsemen like this, it's kinda hard to side with the good guys.

With Horsemen like this, it’s kinda hard to side with the good guys.

Given the titles Death, Famine, Pestilence and War, these Horsemen serve at Apocalypse pleasure. Some of the more notable heroes to fall in his control and become Horsemen have been Angel, Gambit, Psylocke, Hulk and even Wolverine, but for the movie it looks like it’s going to be Magneto, Psylocke, Storm and Angel.

Overkill is clearly a concept not lost on Apocalypse.

'X-Men: Apocalypse' comes out tomorrow in local cinemas!

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ comes out tomorrow in local cinemas!

Just how much of this will eventually make it to the big screen this weekend is anybody’s guess. But I’m hoping they leave out some of his more outrageous powers, because, well, full power Apocalypse is ridonculous. But even half-powered, Apocalypse is still a credible threat. Very few other villains in the X-Men lore stack up to and struck fear into the hearts humans and mutants alike than the immortal tyrant, Apocalypse!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
New power couple? Probably not.

(Movie review) ‘Just The 3 Of Us’ falls victim to genre cliches

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 | Written by
New power couple? Probably not.
New power couple? Probably not.

New power couple? Probably not.

I watched this movie with a couple of my friends; yeah, just the 3 of us.

Budu-bum-tssss. (I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I couldn’t help it.)

Moving on…

John Lloyd and Jennylyn Mercado’s new film was, as a whole, okay. It delivered a few laughs, a couple of tear-jerking moments, and the usual feel good ending. But, like a great number of our local films, suffers from a tired formula. There was nothing profoundly original in ‘Just The 3 Of Us’; the closest it got to anything new was the aviation backdrop and JLC’s pilot profession (which, I admit, is something I haven’t seen before in a Pinoy film, let alone in such fine detail.) But that in itself wasn’t going to save this film from all its cliché trappings. ‘Just The 3 Of Us’ was a fine, feel good, 2-hour escape from reality. But it was also, simply,…forgettable.

John Lloyd Crus stars as Uno Abusado, a pilot and captain in training. He’s a determined, goal-oriented, 30-something year-old bachelor whose only seeming motivation is to better himself. After one drunken night out with friends, he’s confronted by CJ Manalo, played by Jennylyn Mercado, the girl he allegedly has drunken intercourse with and consequently impregnates. From living a simple, solitary life with no one to look out for but himself, to abruptly caring for 3, things are about to get a whole lot more complicated for the aspiring captain.

‘Just The 3 Of Us’ essentially has 2 main plot lines: Uno and CJ’s unorthodox relationship and Uno’s overarching personal arc.

The former is your generic pinoy romcom formula – quirky girl crushes on handsome prick, and through her quirkiness melts handsome prick’s tough, bad boy exterior and lives happily ever after. It was the shtick back in A Very Special Love (with John Lloyd as well), and some recent ones like English Only Please (with Jennylyn).

Even the general flow and major beats are similar to what we’ve gotten used to. You start off with the reluctant boy and the over eager girl. You wouldn’t normally think they’d be good together so they end up annoying the heck out of each other (or ar least one of them) until the turn midway through the film. The turn happens when boy does something he realizes was going too far or boy goes through something profound, and it opens up the door for the two main characters to have a deeper connection. But then just when things start looking up, there’s that 11th hour deal breaker, one last reason to crush the newfound romance. Not to worry though because predictably, guy will say sorry, girl will forgive, and couple kisses or dances in the rain or some sh*t.

Never mind the reason they fought, or having the least bit of discussion about it and actually EARNING their happily ever after.

It’s difficult to invest in the drama when you know what’s about to happen and, basically, it just gets downright boring. It takes you out of the immersive experience. Such is what happened for the first half of JT3OU. It was painfully draggy watching JLC be the stereo-typical asshat and Jennylyn being insufferably pa-cute and quirky. It’s more of the same stuff (if not subpar of the same stuff) and it mostly fell flat and felt forced.

Both leads of JT3OU have played these characters before, and as much as they look good together on screen, their repeat performances weren’t the least bit exciting. Is JLC not tired of playing the reformed douchebag? Also, the pretty boy socialite archetype doesn’t fit JLC as well as it would a Jericho Rosales or a Derek Ramsey-type anyway. Jennylyn, on the other hand, was at her best when she wasn’t acting like Sarah 2.0 (who I’m sure was also acting as someone’s 2.0). Can we agree on something local movie gods? Can a girl be cute and NOT be this quirky and high-strung all the time from now on? Both are great actors, don’t get me wrong. They still yielded a level of acting you could only expect from two undoubtedly great talents. It’s just that the rehashed old performances had me thinking that I might as well have been watching their older movies.

The back half of the movie fared better at least, primarily when Uno’s personal character arc gets going. Without giving away too much, suffice to say that it adds to the movie’s overarching theme of family and it was a nice little engaging mystery that unfolded gradually during the second act. It’s when you finally start to understand why JLC’s character acts the way he does when it came to CJ and their unborn baby. It gave Uno more depth, and eventually gives him a bit of growth.

The second act is also where most of things that Filipinos come to see in these films, happened – the crying, the kilig moments, the mushiness, and the general payoff of everything that happened prior – and it was done alright. CJ’s hyper perky personality is also stifled in favor of a more serious tone. We also finally see JLC the way we like seeing him, non-broody, non-bitchy, and all charm. In other words, I finally actually started to enjoy myself.

Their climactic struggle, in the form of CJ’s ex (so naturally played by Baron Geisler) was a very mature direction to go to. I thought it had the potential for some great dialogue and deep drama but unfortunately, instead of being more ambitious and having the two leads have it out then really talk through it in the end, the film decides to go the cutesy route, ending in a somewhat abrupt and underwhelming note. I knew they’d make up eventually, but their final moment felt undeserved.

To sum it all up, ‘Just The 3 Of Us’ was good enough. Good enough to make you smile a bit, laugh a bit, maybe even cry a bit. What’s disappointing about it is that it never goes beyond the norm of its genre, never stretches the boundaries of its premise, and never pulls out anything grand from its talented actors. In that respect, I’d say it was a film better watched during its TV release. Sorry JLC and Jennylyn. You guys are still hot though.

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.
This definitely deserves a re-watch!

(Movie review) Civil War: The better Avengers movie

Tuesday, 3 May 2016 | Written by
This definitely deserves a re-watch!
Definitely one of the best movies this year!

Definitely one of the best movies this year!

I burned through all 90 something issues of Civil War in a couple of days or so back in ‘07 all that time thinking: “Man, comics are deep.” Civil War opened my eyes to the fascinating and wide-ranging, complex and provoking stories the medium can deliver. Civil War made me love comics, and I’ve essentially been looking forward to the movie adaptation for the past decade! And to my delight, Captain America: Civil War was fan-freaking- tastic!

After a botched operation in foreign soil, the autonomy of the Avengers comes into scrutiny. The UN passes the Sokovia Accords – an act that compels the Avengers to operate under a UN body. Pragmatic heroes like Tony Stark agree with the ruling, they do have to be kept in check, but the Captain America, who believes whole-heartedly that their freedom to choose which battles they fight is fundamental to their being heroes, is very much against it. When Cap goes rogue and Ironman is forced to bring him in, superhero civil war ensues.

Government oversight vs. freedom to choose

Government oversight vs. freedom to choose

A well-adapted and powerful story

Much like The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War moves away from the usual cartoon-y plots to tell a gripping story about internal ideological differences and echo real world themes. That in itself is reason enough for the latest MCU entry to stand out among the rest.

The writing was near perfect. Its story was single-minded and tightly bound, not a single throwaway scene; had a flawless balance of humor, drama and superhero action; was believable and organic in its development of the overarching discontent between former friends and allies; and the pace was just right. The movie may not have reached the argumentative depths of the comic books (such is the limit of the two hour movie), but the basic points were clear and easily digestible and most importantly, it was FAIR. Both sides had valid points and were simultaneously hero and villain in the story.

The broad strokes of the comic source were there – an inciting incident, government oversight, conflicting ideologies, questionable detainment, and a massive superhero fight – but the details were altered to fit the cinematic universe’s current status quo and give everything a bit more legitimacy. The Winter Soldier central piece, and Steve’s loyalty to his friend, for example, worked well as a framework for Steve and Tony’s fall out. The UN signing off on the Accords made a lot more sense that it being a solely US initiative, AND it gives the directive added weight and credibility. Cinema Tony wasn’t the hate-able character he was in the comics; it never feels like he went out of line. Similarly, Cap wasn’t as hardheaded about his beliefs either, at one point he was even about to sign the accords already. This is exactly how you want your adaptations to be – faithful to the source material, accurate in the things that matter, while also ironing out the rough edges and still being a fresh and surprising experience for everyone.

Team Cap

Team Cap

Well-written and acted characters

This was Tony and Steve’s finest hour. CW comes out with a darker Tony and Downey Jr. conveys it thoroughly. Tony’s sadness and frustration brewed from underneath his skin and underscored by the absence of his distinctive retorts. With everything that happens to him through the film, it’s easy to sympathize with this Tony’s campaign.

Chris Evans is again the definitive good guy. He’s got this inherent charm that makes him an even more captivating Captain America than the actual Captain America in the comics! He radiates physical and moral strength, but maintains a calm, kind vibe like a proper gentleman.

There was no clear villain in either of the two. Both seemed to struggle fighting the other, knowing that this isn’t what either of them wanted but it’s what was needed. Watching them fight was like watching your parents fight – it’s hard to side with anybody and you just want it to stop!

Team Iron Man

Team Iron Man

The Russo’s also did a wonderful job juggling the films considerable roster. Everyone fell just into place so naturally. With the focus on Steve and Tony, there was no pressure add unnecessary side stories or screen time. (e.g. Age of Ultron) Every character had a reason for being there, and they were only there for the amount of time that served the story.

But really, I'm TEAM SPIDEY!

But really, I’m TEAM SPIDEY!

And finally, I just have to mention this, but minor as it was, every second Tom Holland’s Spidey was on-screen was an absolute delight! Glaring CGI and pitchy voice aside, this Spidey was true to younger versions of the character – innocent, virtuous, wisecracking, and occasionally annoying. He stole the show, much like Quicksilver did in DOFP.

Tons of fan-pleasing team-ups!

Tons of fan-pleasing team-ups!

Incredible action romps

Sure, a couple of the earlier fights suffered from a bit of choppy editing, but for the rest, it was heart-pounding, fist-pumping, and adrenaline-fueled action that only the Russo brothers can deliver!

That airport rumble tho!

That airport rumble tho!

But the real center piece of Civil War was the epic airport skirmish. It wasn’t a brief gimmick; it was an honest to goodness superhero vs. superhero smack down! Every move was thought out – from each character’s unique abilities to their logical team ups. It was GLORIOUS! My mind turned to mush from sheer ecstasy! Captain America: Civil War entered a new level of awesomeness that my tiny little mind could not comprehend!

A few, final notes before I go:

  • New character interactions were a lot of fun to watch. Sam and Buck, Wanda and Vision, Tony/Steve and Peter, and Scott with everyone.
  • That helicopter scene likely impregnated women left and right. BICEPS FTW!
  • Massive nerd points for recreating that climactic comic book frame in such spectacular fashion!
  • Black Panther’s tribal, ninja, fighting style was as vicious as it was fresh.
  • …And it was also a nice surprise how essential his side story was to the whole film.
  • Now this is how you use a superhero’s mom in a story!
  • I still can’t get over Vision’s sweater.

It’s hard to fault Captain America: Civil War for anything, really. (Probably only that this shouldn’t be the LAST Captain America installment. ‘Coz you can’t do an Empire ending and leave us hanging.) They made a great concept even better with perfect execution. The action, story, characters, drama, and flare – the Russo Brothers were master conductors and Civil War was their symphony.

This definitely deserves a re-watch!

This definitely deserves a re-watch!

Even with only 12 characters, the scale and impact on the MCU was very much felt. The rifts between friends and former allies were heart-breaking; I tried my best not to cry my nerdy little heart out. Nothing will ever be the same again after Captain America: Civil War, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.

 

'Captain America: Civil War' opens on April 27!

Team Cap or Team Iron Man? Both sides of Marvel’s Civil War

Thursday, 21 April 2016 | Written by
'Captain America: Civil War' opens on April 27!
Marvel's Civil War comic cover.

Marvel’s Civil War comic cover.

A few young heroes botch a mission so bad that 600 civilian lives were lost in collateral damage. The city mourns, the victims angered, and the superhero community is shaken to the core. This tragic event sparks a wave of controversy and public reflection: who do heroes answer to when they’re the ones who hurt the people?

Suddenly there’s precedent for the government wanting to take a little bit of control over our heroes. They pass the Superhero Registration Act – a law that requires vigilantes to enlist with the government and undergo training before being sanctioned to do superhero things. But not everyone agrees with the new ruling, and arguments escalate, sides are formed, and the stage is set for Marvel’s superhero Civil War.

Readers can attest that Civil War was a dense narrative especially when it came to its moral, practical and political opinions. It was as exciting and action-packed as it was thought-provoking, as it inspired its audience to think critically, form their own views and genuinely choose a side in the debate.

But with the immense dialogue and individual perspectives collected in the comic book event, a two-hour movie may not be long enough to capture its complexities. So as a supplement to next week’s most anticipated Marvel film, let me give you a quick rundown of the arguments and principles driving both sides of Marvel’s Civil War (comic!)

Accountability vs Philosophical Freedom

TEAM IRON MAN

Who do heroes answer to when they make mistakes or accidentally hurt civilians? Who tells them when they’ve gone overboard? Who controls the champions of justice when they’re the ones doing the injustice?

The theme of accountability is what’s heavily examined in the conflict. As one parent put it – kids (and adults) can’t just run around doing anything they want just because they’re in costume. Every hero needs to be liable for their actions, mistakes and all, and they need to answer to a higher body – a body created by the people.

The public distrust for heroes only grew, even swelling to the point of violent incidents against the superhero community. They demanded some sort of repercussion and Tony saw the superhero registration act as the best compromise to pacify an angered public. It was time to let go of the old ways and embrace the inevitable progression of their vigilante lifestyle.

TEAM CAP

On the other hand, Captain America believes in autonomy and moral freedom. To enlist is to become government tools, weapons that they can point at something or someone. The government may have been created by the people, but it’s still made up of men, with their own agendas, and is similarly imperfect. Registration would only force heroes to fight wars that weren’t their own, wars that aren’t necessarily right, but politically right. And to Cap, superheroes need to intrinsically be above all that.

Cap believes wholeheartedly that heroes can and should decide for themselves what’s right from wrong. Part of the reason why they became heroes in the first place was to fight battles the government weren’t willing to fight, or couldn’t, or right the wrongs the government themselves perpetrate.

Public Safety vs Heroes’ Safety

TEAM IRON MAN

Without anyone to answer to, without supervision, criticism, limitations, or guidance, these superheroes – most of whom have city-leveling abilities – can run amok, abuse their status, or make weighty mistakes; mistakes that could potential cost dozens, if not hundreds of lives.

Careful monitoring, deeper study of their abilities, training and protocol – this would all help keep both civilians and the heroes themselves safer, especially when it concerns the younger, less experienced superheroes. The price is just too high not to take precaution.

TEAM CAP

Cap on the other hand worries about the dozens of villains finding out heroes’ real names. Not all of them have secret identities, but the ones who do, hide them for a reason. Their enemies could come after them at their home or at work, or worse, come after and hurt the ones they love!

Even though the government assures the security of such sensitive information, it would only be a matter of time before that list got out, and when it does, hero and civilian lives would be in dire jeopardy and Cap will absolutely not risk that.

Here's to give you an idea on just how MASSIVE this superhero showdown got.

Here’s to give you an idea on just how MASSIVE this superhero showdown got.

Efficient Justice vs Upholding Civil Rights and fundamental decency

TEAM IRON MAN

Due to the volatile and diverse nature of super-powered beings they have to apprehend, Iron Man and his team become increasingly authoritarian and hard-hearted, keeping prisoners in a prison on an alternate dimension, sometimes without due process and even enlisting the aid of the Thunderbolts (a supergroup made up of criminals).

But when you’re arresting individuals with a wide-range of destructive and unpredictable abilities, you have to be swift and decisive. Tony argues that his methods are for efficiency’s sake and that the faster they get these types of criminals off the streets the safer the rest of the world will be.

TEAM CAP

Iron Man may be getting criminals off the streets, but at what price? Without due process, suddenly Tony is judge and jury. Tony’s so called efficiency is just another way to call cutting corners, cheating the system, trampling on civil liberties. And when Tony’s increasingly brutal ways led to the death of one of their own, it became clear that Tony was stepping over a line. Is using excessive force what law enforcement has come to?

There is just something fundamentally wrong about the idea of treating people who risk their lives for strangers every week as criminals, something fundamentally wrong about using brute force on friends, something fundamentally wrong about arresting them even as they continue to do nothing but good. Cap, and those who follow him, will not ever compromise these core values.

Other Arguments

TEAM IRON MAN

Financial Security

They’re going to risk their lives for the public either way, so why not get compensated doing it? It’s not the most noble of arguments, but hey, it’s reality. Superheroes got bills to pay too!

***

The comic universe and the cinematic universe are 2 distinct entities altogether, but the main issues will still likely remain: Freedom vs Security – just how much freedom are the heroes willing to give up for the sake of security? What really is better for the people – a controlled hero community or one that’s not tied down to the government’s politics?

What do you think? Are you Team Iron Man or Team Captain America? One week left ‘til Captain America: Civil War, it’s time to choose a side!

'Captain America: Civil War' opens on April 27!

‘Captain America: Civil War’ opens on April 27!

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Michael Alegre, or Magic Mike to his female clients, is a shower-singing, soccer-playing, slightly above average looking, NERD. His pop culture love extends from comic books and video games to movies and TV! When he’s not struggling to read the countless comic books on his backlog, or watching the gigabytes worth of TV shows he’s illegally downloaded, he writes about things he fancies for POC and his blog, mikealegre.blogspot.com. But he’s not a critic. He’s a fan. He loves things too much and is much too biased towards hisfandoms for his opinions to hold any legitimacy. 
Also, nothing in his educational or corporate background makes him qualified to write. Someone should seriously stop him from typing words.

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