Oblivion movie posterOblivion is a decent science-fiction film. It has intriguing plot, amazing visuals and spectacular action scenes. It reminded me of many sci-fi movies that have graced the silver screen before. One of these is Moon, which is a brilliant movie about the future and the outer space. It also reminded me of Prometheus because of its search for the unknown. There’s also Minority Report, which is superb in its action sequences.

Aliens. Post-intergalactic war Earth. Advanced weaponry. Gravity-defying vehicles. Clones. These are the usual elements of a science-fiction movie. What sets this movie apart from the previous ones is Tom Cruise. He breaks through as a great movie star here: someone you’d really root for from beginning to end.

The story is quite simple actually. Or so it seems. By the year 2077, Commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his communication’s officer, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are only two of the few remaining people after Earth has been nearly annihilated because of an alien force. The remaining people were said to migrate in Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) while some of the Scavengers (alien forces that broke war with the humans), or Scavs, were said to still hide on the Earth’s surface. Jack’s work is to ensure that drones, which are robots programmed to patrol the skies and protect the planet from Scavs, are active and functioning. Victoria, on the other hand, guides and backs him up with his missions, along with the help of Sally (Melisa Leo), their commander from the space station called Tet. This seems to be their routine for a very long time. As the plot somehow thickens, the audience will find out that something’s different with Jack. He collects books, secretly goes to a cabin in the woods, plays hoops, listens to classics and constantly dreams of a woman every single night. One fateful day, he saw an aircraft fall from the sky. Curious as he is, he goes to the crash site and finds out that one of the survivors is the woman in his dreams (Olga Kuylenko). He saves her, shows her to Victoria and promises to help her find out who she is and what she is there for. Will Victoria accept Jack’s decision? Or will it be the start of the team’s deviation from the rules set by the powers-at-be in Tet? Who is the woman in Jack’s dreams? Does she carry with her a deeper purpose? You’ll find out the answers to these and more in the movie.

Oblivion is fascinating for many things. For one, it continues the streak of sci-fi movies that excel in production values. The audience is sure to be awed by its spectacular visual effects and beautiful location shoots. The plot is written to show off a lot of suspense and surprises, and the director (Joseph Kosinski) did not fail to present them well. Furthermore, Tom Cruise proves that he is still a credible action superstar with this movie. He’s still got the moves to carry a movie like this. His supporting cast, led by Leo, Riseborough and Kurylenko also did well.

Is it possible to say something not good about the movie? But, of course. Amidst the sort of confusing plot lines, I just wish that its story has been developed more. This would surely give more depth to its characters and sense to the whole film. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see how the setting of the movie came to be. Maybe an explanation in a form of a prequel would do.

Oblivion movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5.


Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 posterExplosively entertaining, Iron Man 3 proves once again why the iron-clad superhero is a beloved comic book character. After two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, he remains to be playful, fun and spontaneous thanks to the great effort of its writers and of course, the genius  of Robert Downey Jr. Even the change in director (from Jan Favreau to Shane Black) probably helped made the Iron Man 3 a greater movie than its predecessor. May I also dare say that this one’s as good as, if not better than, the first Iron Man movie.

Iron Man 3 continues the story of Tony Stark months after The Avengers plot transpired. He’s shown to be busy improving his gear and collecting many battle suits while experiencing panic attacks every time he remembers the life-threatening act that he did in New York City (again, from The Avengers). Unbeknownst to him, a fellow scientist whom he previously rejected grew to develop a spectacular treatment for crippled people making them much stronger and powerful. Will he be able to stand a chance to this scientist who is said to help an international terrorist named as The Mandarin? How will his panic attacks affect his responsibility to protect the love of his life, Pepper Potts, the people and the world from annihilation under the Mandarin’s mayhem? That’s what we have to find out.

Beaming with suspense once the action gets in the scenes, Iron Man 3 won’t disappoint audiences that want to see amazing action sequences. Some plot points are predictable, but the few that are not would really surprise. Standouts include the rescue of people from the Air Force One scene, the destruction of the Stark Residence and the final battle between Iron Man and the brain behind The Mandarin.

Robert Downey Jr. continues to successfully bring to life the character everyone seems to like. As the neurotic but brilliant millionaire Tony Stark, he displays the fun, the spontaneity and the genius of his character effortlessly. Gwyneth Paltrow impresses as Pepper Potts. She gets to do some action, which is always cool for a character who’s not expected to do so. Meanwhile, Guy Pearce proves he’s one of a kind actor. His handling of his character in the movie (Aldrich Killian, the scientist and mad creator of the virus that makes people strong and powerful) is just so good. I thought I knew him the first time I saw him in the movie but his effort here in comparison to his other films (Memento, Lawless, The King’s Speech) is far different that made me doubt myself. That’s how good he is. Don Cheadle (as War Machine) and Ben Kingsley (as The Mandarin) also play as a great supporting cast.

We all know that Marvel movies are visually spectacular. And this one is not an exemption. With all the sentinel-like costumes, advanced weaponry and blazing explosions, one would think what they see onscreen is really, really happening. Furthermore, the directing and editing done in this movie are done so well that the audience would be compelled to enjoy what’s being served in front of their eyes. To cap it off, the smart screenplay, beautiful cinematography and amazing production design proved this movie to be a great one.

Iron Man 3 movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5/5

The Croods

The_Croods_posterThe Croods is the first hit animated movie of the year. It didn’t just bring (and continues to bring) in a lot of people in the theaters; it also is a good movie. It is not like any other animated film that we’ve watched before, most probably because it featured the ancient times with humans, not animals, as the protagonists.

The film is about a family of cavemen, the Croods, and their struggle to survive amidst the environment-changing events on planet Earth. Grug (voiced well by Nicolas Cage), the patriarch, always reminds his family to keep inside the premises of their cavern home so as to remain safe from dangers in their environment. They would only go out at day to hunt for food. Her daughter, Eep (voiced by the amazing Emma Stone), wanted to break free from this routine (“This is not living. This just keeps us from not dying.”). She finally has her chance when she met Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a much modern man, who is trying to keep up with the changing times, especially, if it means being alive. Would Eep ever convince Grug and her whole family to go out? You’d surely find that out in this movie.

Kids are going to love The Croods. But let’s change that statement for it may misguide people. Every member of the family is going to like, if not love, this movie. Each one is bound to appreciate what’s in store for them by watching this film.

There are many elements of this film that make it really unique. Steps on how ancient people might have discovered things are hinted, subtly or not (making fire, working with tools, naming things, starting a family, raising pets and the like). The dialogues are smart, even though a few may insult some people. The comedy scenes may not be appropriate for everyone, but each funny dialogue will hit anyone it’s supposed to hit. It’s the touching scenes, though, that will really hit everyone hard. You won’t know you’ve been hit until you realize you’re crying. Haha, seriously, even though you don’t cry, you’ll surely feel something with those touching scenes.

Choose among these two: playing it safe by abiding by the rules or discovering by exploring what is out there. These principles clash on this movie. Questions like “Is it better to be safe but feel fearful of not going anywhere than taking chances and risking it out?” will find its way to the audience’s mind. Needless to say, this movie empowers the idea of breaking the status quo. If the early humans have not tried to get out of their comfort zones, they might have not discovered things important for their survival. The movie shows us that if we keep on hiding on where we are (a.k.a. routinely following what’s always been on our daily lives), we’ll be safe and yet wondering… just wondering. It’s not bad if we follow the rules, but if we’re going to be tied up by them, we’ll not go that far. Now, changing the rules according to what’s better means we’ll have the chance to get better. It’s a risk, but we know we are doing something to change what has always been. And that’s not always a bad thing.

The movie’s beautiful but not in the conventional sense that we get from other great animated movies. You won’t be able to blame the animators or the visual effects supervisors for that because they have dealt with cavemen as characters and ancient earth as setting after all. But this movie showed signs of a visual masterpiece, albeit inconsistent. The visuals are enough to satisfy the eyes of the audience. Meanwhile, the audience’s ears are filled with outstanding aural effects. It doesn’t just provide emphasis on the scenes, it helped to really touch the heart in the sensitive ones.

The Croods movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4/5

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I._JOE_RetaliationG.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to 2009’s science action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Unsurprisingly, it is way, way better than its predecessor. The cast is more solid, the plot’s more suspenseful and the action’s more gripping. I don’t get pleased easily with action sequences but this movie’s got what it takes to please all action fans out there. It also doesn’t hurt that the story stretches into advanced technological capabilities because the audience has been served with awesome pseudoscience wonders that could actually be possible for years to come.

The movie is about how Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization, has infiltrated the U.S. government and organized the framing of the G.I. Joes, a special mission force aimed to protect people from Cobra’s forces. The plot continues on how the G.I. Joes redeem themselves and prevent Cobra from dominating the world.

Honestly, the movie started a little bland to the taste. You’d think it’s just about what the G.I. Joes do in a regular way: going here and there to serve the U.S. government. A surprising thing happened, though. Duke, the lead character in the first movie as portrayed by Channing Tatum, is killed in combat. After that sequence, the movie went uphill. Yes, he and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have a little chemistry as buddies but ultimately, he doesn’t bode well with the whole G.I. Joe feel. It also doesn’t help that he’s not a very good actor so the scenes where he’s in doesn’t really mark well.

The Rock is the real star of the movie. He’s able to carry it well with the help, of course, of the solid supporting cast. Adrianne Palicki (as Lady Jaye) is a real eye-opener; she’s so good in all her scenes. Equally capable are the villains: Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, the avenging member of Cobra who’s betrayed by one of his own, Ray Stevenson as Firefly, an ex-Joe who’s now a member of the Cobra, and Jonathan Pryce as both Zartan (the master of disguise) and the US President (he’s so good he passes as both menacing and pleasant according to the character he’s portraying). Not to be outdone is Bruce Willis who just continuously stands out ever since he first appeared until the last scene.

Based on the movie’s ending, there’s a possibility of a third G.I. Joe film. I won’t mind as long as it would be as good, if not better, as this one.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 3.5 out of 5

It Takes A Man and A Woman

It_Takes_a_Man_and_a_Woman movie posterIt Takes A Man and A Woman features John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo as a love team for the third time. I was surprised to find out that it was 4 years ago when they last paired up on the big screen. But this is hardly difficult to believe. With huge clamor from their fans since 2009, it didn’t seem like long ago when they last teamed up.

It Takes A Man and A Woman is a feel-good movie. You’d find yourself laughing at times, crying during some scenes, but probably smiling most of the time. The chemistry between the two lead stars is undeniable. They always light up the screen every single time they are present and that means more when they’re together in a sequence. The way they carried their characters was certainly believable: John Lloyd as Miggy, a young businessman with a propensity to committing big mistakes and Sarah as Laida, a successful yet still the bungisngis magazine consultant. I guess you need not be reminded of that if you’ve been watching their movies since. Their delivery of lines is still impeccable: what they’ve shown was still true to their characters.

The movie won’t be so good without the supporting cast. A shout-out to Al Tantay and Irma Adlawan as Sarah’s parents; Rowell Santiago as John Lloyd’s older brother and most especially Joross Gamboa, Gio Alvarez and Matet de Leon as the pair’s co-workers for providing some of the laugh-out loud moments in the film. This supporting cast is so solid they’ve been making the John Lloyd-Sarah films a whole lot better.

The film will make you fall in love. If you’re already in love, it’ll make you feel more in love. Some of the romantic scenes might have bordered on the cheesy/ bubbly territory, but a certain few certainly showed more depth; yes, the two lead characters showed maturity. I guess that’s already implied in the movie’s title. And more: forgiveness and infidelity are the two main themes of the film and they were sensibly shown, if not explained. The touching scenes provided the right intensity to let the audience feel what they were supposed to feel. These scenes, including the comic and the romantic ones, really stood out.

Cathy Garcia-Molina never fails to make a romantic-comedy film that is full of really kilig moments. This movie’s got so many kilig scenes you’ll never regret watching it with your loved one  in the theater. Moreso, scenes with these moments were beautifully shot and this certainly made it more romantic. (Spoiler ahead: wait for the movie’s wedding sequence and really fall in love)

It Takes A Man And A Woman movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4/5.