The Avengers: Age of Ultron

April 22 saw me trooping to the mall initially to see the Manny Pacquiao biopic Kid Kulafu. Instead, we found that the movie was no longer showing and in its place was the newest Avengers movie.

I honestly had no plans of watching the movie on the big screen because I knew (and I was right) that it would be nothing but explosions and smashing and city property getting damaged and heroes getting bruised and alien tech being used. Nevertheless, I was still excited to see the next installment since I had seen the previous movies in the same universe (Guardians of the Galaxy included).

This latest movie, despite having a stand-alone story, exists as part of a series, and by that I don’t just mean The Avengers series. I know you know what I mean, so I won’t delve deeper into that. What I do want to talk about is how Ultron was completely unexpected for me.

I am what you’d call a casual Marvel fan. I just watch the movies for the pure entertainment of watching them. I don’t go around in costume, nor do I join fan-targetted or organized events. I do not write fanfiction. I just like the movies and gush over… well, none of them, to be honest. Therefore, allow me to say that I did not expect much from the movie.

However, Ultron was still a bit underwhelming for me. Coming from the big bad alien war of the first movie, I thought there’d be something similar in this one, and I thought Ultron (the character) was that big bad alien.

(minor spoilers under the cut)

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Kingsman (2015)

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If there ever was a movie for which the adjective “mind-blowing” would be appropriate, then this would be it.

Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) who gets recruited by super secret spy Harry Hart/Gallahad (Colin Firth).

The film plays on the traditional/old-fashioned spy movies and refers to those frequently. You have your megalomaniac who seeks to change the world through “questionable” means, the gentleman super spy who can kick ass in a bespoke suit, and the young recruit looking to prove himself.

Pretty straightforward and simple, right?

The shocker for me was not in the fact that Colin Firth–the quintessential, gentleman, the man whom other men have to live up to no thanks to his Mr. Darcy role–could plausibly disarm and bring down an entire congregation of people. The shocker for me was the violence.

The local R-16 was lenient, in my opinion. But then again my judgment could be tainted by my teacher ways, so let me rephrase that.

Kingsman takes the word “secret” to a while new level. It had disguised itself as a thoroughly proper and respectable and sort of generic spy movie with the added twist of the secret agency literally being super secret that not even the world’s most popular secret service agencies knew about their existence. They were like the Illuminati except that they were the good guys. The lack of dark overtones in the film processing* and the very few but appropriately placed humorous moments gave one the impression that THERE WAS NOTHING TO BE HORRIFIED ABOUT.

BUT.

(I’m sorry. The font size was necessary for this.)

I

WAS

HORRIFIED.

In a good way.

I’m not quite sure how “horrified in a good way” works, so let me just ramble a bit.

You know how the James Bond movies or other super spy movies always look gritty on screen or have these dark gray or blue color overlay (someone with film tech know-how help me quick!) to emphasize the dankness and the seriousness of the film? WELL, Kingsman was all oranges and yellows and blues and greens and purples. It was colorful. It was bright. It was clean. It was so neat you’d be afraid of eating flavored popcorn for fear of soiling your fingers.

PLUS Colin Firth was such a perfect and poised gentleman that when he finally brought out the moves your mouth just drops and you find yourself leaning forward in your seat while cringing or cowering or all of the above.

Mind-blowing? Definitely. LITERALLY, even.

Secretive? You bet. Who the hell knew Mr. Darcy could move like that? Who the hell knew he could disarm, dismember, behead, maim, kill people with the speed and agility of a champion martial artist and the poise of an aristocrat?

Who knew Samuel L. Jackson could be more annoying than ever? (personal bias, sorry. Not a big fan of the dude)

Who knew a more violent mainstream movie than Kill Bill could exist?

This movie isn’t all about the shock factor, though.

Once you get past the blood and gore and the impeccably tailored suits, you realize that movie makes some pretty compelling points.

One: we humans are the disease killing our planet. What happens when the body gets infected by a virus? The body gets feverish in an attempt to get rid of the virus. Bottomline? The virus dies. Mother Nature is the body, global warming is the fever, and we are the virus. WE die.

Some people might think this is just trivial in an action movie, but, for me, the analogy makes so much sense that it’s hard to ignore. I’m not going to wait for a Richmond Valentine to come and help Mother Nature along. None of us should.

Two: Women. I was going to say that women play a huge role in this film until I realized that there were only two major female characters here, and even then they were only in supporting roles. Roxy and Gazelle were pretty badass, but they still play second-fiddle to the men. Although the movie shows that women are just as competent (MORE, even) as men, the movie also shows that they still need to be tempered by the men. Roxy needed Eggsy to calm her down before the skydiving exercise. Gazelle was too bloodthirsty that she needed Valentine’s weak stomach to rein her in from shedding more blood. I’d personally like to see a movie where both hero and villain are female, and I’d like for this to be a serious movie and not a comedy like what we usually have here locally (Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah comes to mind even though technically the protagonist is a guy).

Three: Times are a-changing. Gadgets, particularly our smartphones, can be mankind’s downfall.

There really is so much about this movie that one can say. Colin Firth was perfect. Whatever doubt I had that he could move like a lean mean killing machine flew out the window when I saw his action sequences. Taron Egerton was just as amazing. I’d have wanted to see him do more parkour, though. Roxy was underdeveloped. I wish we had seen more of her spy abilities. Gazelle was just absolutely wicked.

Watch it.

Watch IT.

WATCH IT.

—–

*I’m not a film expert, so I don’t know the terminology.

I left my heart in Coron

There was no denying the beauty of Coron. The cluster of islands that make up Coron spelled numerous white sand beaches and absolutely beautiful hidden lagoons that literally take your breath away (from all the trekking and swimming you have to do).

Islands View Inn

My friend Hana and I got to Islands View Inn, the place we stayed at in Coron, later than expected because our flight was delayed by an hour. There was nothing to see because the island, soon after we arrived, was soon plunged in darkness due to the regular black out. We could barely see the outline of the other islands in Coron from the top floor of the inn. It didn’t matter that first night, though, because we were taken to the Maquinit Hot Springs, which was a fifteen minute trip from the inn. It was a good thing that it was so dark because we were told that because it was a natural hot spring, we should expect to see moss/algae? in the water with us. Since it was so dark, we didn’t see any of that. We just enjoyed the relaxing heat that stimulated the blood and got us looking fresh and healthy afterwards.

We didn’t avail of the breakfast and dinner inclusions of the hotel, but we were tired and didn’t want to explore other restaurants in the area, so we decided to head on up to the third floor where the restaurant/bar was located. We were surprised to see that the prices rivaled that of Manila’s food prices, so we ordered the “snack” items, which cost P150 each. Hana got the fish and chips while I got the cheeseburger and fries.

I was surprised and apprehensive when the waitress put my food down in front of me. I had two tiny burger patties (to be fair, they were on the thick side) layered with a slice of cheese, tomato and cucumber on the side with two slices of bread on the plate. Hm. The only condiment was this sauce made of ketchup and mayonnaise, which, I would discover later on, seemed to be an island favorite. I asked for plain ketchup and began to dig in. I’m not sure if I were just ravenous, but the food was actually quite decent. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be. I’d have preferred a traditional cheeseburger at that time, but this was a pretty decent and interesting alternative. Hana, too, was satisfied with her meal and mopped up everything on her plate.

The next day, we went to two white sand beaches that were an hour and a half away from the island port. The bangka (boat) ride was pleasant, and I amused myself by looking at the cloud formations and the underwater sights when the sea allowed us a peek beneath the surface. Hana and I weren’t sure what to expect because we left the boat at the “parking area” which was behind the actual beach, but when the beach loomed into our sight, all we could say was, “Wow!”

[Pardon the pics. All were taken using my phone; the camera’s all misted up and I don’t know why.]

Malcapuya Island signage. It should’ve said, “Welcome to paradise!”

The island was so beautiful that Hana and I didn’t want to leave just yet. We left a little after lunch, and what we went to was another island a few minutes away that also had white sand beach. Unfortunately, the shore was smaller, and the boats didn’t have a separate “parking lot” which meant that if you wanted to sunbathe, you’d be doing so with a bangka right in front of you. As for the water itself, it was as clean as the one in Malcapuya, but you couldn’t go far out into the sea without stepping onto some rocks, some of them sharp. The Malcapuya shore was nothing but white sand all the way to the water.

I have to stop here because I don’t have any more pictures to go with the narrative, but trust me when I say that if you want a piece of quiet paradise, then Coron is the place you’re looking for. Sure, Boracay is more popular and has a longer stretch of beach, but it’s noisy and congested and noisy. Coron is peaceful and all-natural.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in, then I suggest Islands View Inn. They offer you a choice of air-conditioned or fan rooms and can arrange tours for you. Our tour guide was Kuya Raymond and he is a certified tour guide and is trained (and certified, I think) by the Philippine Red Cross to give first aid and CPR. Our boatmen were… um, I apologize because I can’t remember their names, but they were so gracious and kind, believe me. Our bangka was called the MV Christian James. One of the boatmen suggested switching the itinerary around (we were supposed to go to Malcapuya on day 3 instead of day 2) because the water that day was perfect for the long boat ride to the island. On day 3, the sun was out but so was the wind, which whipped up some pretty nasty waves. It was a good call on his part because we didn’t have to face the scary waves; we were really lucky that we got the team that we were assigned.

As for food, the inn was in a great spot because it was walking distance from everything except the cashew factory. When we had time, Hana and I explored the place and found a number of small local eateries that served cheap but good food. For breakfasts, we went to the kainan below Balaibinda Lodge. They served cheap breakfast meals for P75 each. One breakfast meal I had was the hotsilog meal: 2 jumbo hotdogs, sinangag (fried) rice, egg. Coffee was P10 a cup (3-in-1 instant coffee). We also tried out this 24/7 eatery a few steps away from the inn. It served a variety of meals (rice meals, noodles, burgers, etc) for a fraction of the cost of the ones in the inn. Then again, I have to be honest, they weren’t as good as the ones in the inn. Still, the food was pretty okay. Nothing spectacular, but nothing that repulsive either.

So yes, I’d love to return to Coron. If I could afford to travel whenever I wanted to, I’d definitely go there.  It’s the perfect getaway place.

The Proposal (2009)

The-ProposalMm mm mm mmmmmm.

Delicious. Yummy.

Ryan Reynolds is now officially a crush of mine.

The Hollywood myth was true: Sandra Bullock shoots her leading men to stardom. 😀 Ryan Reynolds may already be a rising star, but this movie takes the cake.

Margaret Tate is a hotshot editor in a top publishing company. Andrew Paxton is an aspiring writer who’s sticking it out in possibly the worst job ever after Andrea Sachs’ job as assistant to Miranda Priestly. The two have a pretty good dynamic going as far as boss-assistant “relationships” go, but problems arise when Margaret, a Canadian working in an American firm, finds that her application for a visa renewal was denied, which means that she’ll have to be deported. How does she stay in the country? She has to marry an American. Who? Her assistant, who else?

The rest of the movie is a comedy of errors and a wonderful tale of opening up and family ties. It’s a simple story, actually, and definitely not Oscar material, but it resonates with everybody who’s had his dreams shot down, who’s lost loved ones, who’s facing parental pressure. It resonates with people — women, especially — who feel alone and have difficulty letting others in.

I’ve read other people’s reviews about the movie’s character development, and to some degree, I agree with them, but with light-hearted movies like this one, it’s just something that you throw out the window. If you don’t, then you never will really appreciate this hilariously endearing movie.

Women, watch this with your girlfriends. Men, keep an open mind, not to mention an open eye, and you’ll see what a gem of a movie this is. 🙂

Wall-e

My roommate was right. This movie will be appreciated best by the smart people. Such a smart and touching movie.

Star Trek (2009)

star-trek-crew

 

(original image address : http://screenrant.com/images/star-trek-crew.jpg)

I give this movie 4 stars not because of how accurate and faithful the movie has been to the original series, but because of how it was able to entertain its audiences with a clear and exhilarating plot, witty lines, and a relatively balanced mix of action in traditional hand-to-hand combat and sci-fi laser blasting. 🙂

James Tiberius Kirk, son of Captain George Kirk, was born under highly stressful circumstances. His father, who was captain only for 12 minutes, saved the lives of the many people in his fleet including his wife’s and son’s. Growing up without a father, James T. Kirk became a rebellious man but with a top IQ and a good heart. You might call it fate, but he was soon recruited into the Star Fleet where life continued to be eventful for him, and where we see the first encounter between himself and Spock.

Their first encounter being less than friendly, the two find that they have to work together to ensure the safety of millions of lives. While the rest of the story may be history–especially to the Trekkies–regular moviegoers will find that this movie does not limit itself to the diehard fans. It provides something of everything to cater to everyone’s delight: a bit of a love story, a dash of wit and humor, and a heaping of action and sci-fi.

Sylar, ahem, SPOCK, rendered a merely okay performance as the younger Vulcan first portrayed by Leonard Nimoy in the series. Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of this young genius was hampered by his Sylar season 3 tendencies (bad then good then bad Sylar), but he turned in an overall decent acting job.

Chris Pine? I’m a girl who watched this with a LOT of other girls, so you can just imagine my comments will be largely based on his gorgeous eyes haha. But YES, Pine turned in a powerful performance as the legendary captain in his younger years, albeit getting beat up every so often.

I’m no geek when it comes to this series, but I believe I know a good movie when I see one. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of them.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

miss_pettigrew_lives_for_a_day_movie_posterCharming little piece of work, this is. 😀

Frances McDormand is Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, daughter of a clergyman, whose beliefs and ways have always been in contradiction with her employers. As such, she is fired at the beginning of the movie from her post as governess. She goes to her agency to get another job, but her history has made it difficult for the director to hand her another one, especially since war (as this is set right before the Second World War) was coming and jobs were scarce. With no job and no money, Miss Pettigrew “steals” a calling card bearing the name of a woman who has asked for the agency to send her a “social secretary.” She shows up at the woman’s door, and from there, she begins to LIVE.

While the word LIVE may have different implications, in this movie we see that Miss Pettigrew has lived a very depressing and drab life, but her encounter with her new employer, however brief it is in the movie, provides her with opportunities not just to think outside the box but to LIVE outside it as well. She has never lied, cursed nor deceived anyone, but desperation has forced her to do these things with some consequences that are rather amusing to the third party observer. Also, it appears that she doesn’t have friends but finds a few in the company of her employer. She gets pampered, gets a makeover, and lives the high strung life of a young starlet’s “social secretary,” whatever that is. She experiences so much that it is a surprise to realize that all of it happens in just one day. And in that one day, Miss Pettigrew lives.

Charming, charming, charming. A wonderful and truly apt review of the movie can be found here. Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.