222nd Movie Review: Thor

Thor

 Just as good as Iron Man. Now there’s only Captain America to worry about

[warning: Spoilers ahead]

If you think Thor was gonna be the black sheep among The Avengers, think again. Director Kenneth Branagh made sure that he would remove the doubts of a lot of people about this movie being just a cheesy adaptation of the comic book series. In fact, he actually gave the son of Odin a humorous and human touch!

The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. -imdb.com

The movie goes direct to the point right at the start when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is sent to Earth by his father. The film then shows you how he got to that point in a rather straightforward and clear pace. His arrival to the planet gets noticed by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings), and of course the guys from S.H.I.E.L.D. (the biggest connection of the film to the Avengers). Thor tries to search for his lost hammer M’jolnir somewhere in New Mexico, where the film is set. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to grab the hammer, proving that he’s still not worthy of it. In the end, he learns his lesson and tries to stop his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in his devious plan to make his father (Anthony Hopkins) proud of him and to get rid of Thor who is the heir to the throne.

I think this is Chris Hemsworth’s road to A-list status. He fits the role of Thor well with his over-the-top performance as a bad-ass turned good guy son of Odin. The film’s visual effects were among the best I’ve ever seen in a blockbuster movie, which made me think twice whether I should’ve watched it in 3D or not (I didn’t). The visuals was one of the reasons why I thought that the movie wasn’t cheesy at all. I do agree that the whole idea of making a Thor movie was ridiculous and ambitious, but I guess it turned out well in the end.

Of course, there are still some unexplained questions regarding Thor. Like, how was he able to spin a hammer like a baton? Or how the hell could he fly? Maybe there’s an actual explanation for this, but the fact that I don’t know anything proves that Thor isn’t as popular as his buddies (Iron Man, The Hulk). Still, I’m leaving those questions open, ’cause I don’t want to dwell on Norse mythology, magic or science too much. It destroys the whole idea of this being a comic book adaptation (plus, it destroys the fun!)

There were comic reliefs here and there so as to not make the film too serious. Kat Dennings is an example. That scene where Thor attacks the doctors after they tried to get a blood sample from him was epic too. And of course, what a Marvel movie without a cameo from the creator, Stan Lee. All of that, plus the short appearance of Hawkeye (who’ll play a major role in the Avengers) made the movie a little bit more fun.

How Dare You Attack The Son of Odin!

Unlike Iron Man 2, Thor feels more like a standalone film than a preview of what’s to come. Surely everyone knows what will occur in the future by now, so I think that it wasn’t that necessary to mention anything about The Avengers. The movie only subtly and carefully incorporated some of the elements of the Avengers, which made me feel more anxious to catch the movie next year.

However, I felt that the story was isolated from the rest of the world. Every scene on Earth was in New Mexico. Was it just purely coincidence that both Thor and his hammer ended up in the same city? Without another place to go, the story didn’t have much room to improve or expand.

Regardless of that, I guess you could say that Thor is indeed a solid action movie that will definitely please you for two hours. It’s not the best movie story-wise, but its one of the few movies this year that exceeded my expectations. Thor just kicked off the summer movie season!

GRADE: B

Advertisements

K-Pop, How The Hell Did I Love You?

It’s been a year since I started listening to K-pop, and looking back I can’t believe it’s only been that long. I regularly check my daily k-pop news provider allkpop and read about 15-30 articles a day. So yes, you can say that I’m quite addicted (or obsessed) to K-pop right now.

But the question I think you guys would want to know is, why and how the hell did I love K-pop? A friend recently told me that he couldn’t understand why people like listening to K-pop, since some don’t even understand the Korean language (including me); but I don’t have anything against him. Why? Simply because K-pop is a very polarizing subject and isn’t something that can be loved by everyone.

K-Pop is a choice and a preference, much like different genres of music. Someone in this world loves classical music and hates rap music, while another person thinks exactly the opposite. It depends on the people’s ears whether they like a genre or not, so you can’t force anyone to love songs that he doesn’t want to hear.

I digress. Instead of giving you longer a lecture about K-pop, I’m just gonna tell you how I happened to love it. However, I’m telling you, it’s not gonna be easy for me to explain.

1.) Sisters’ (and cousin’s) Influence

When I graduated from high school in Koronadal City, I moved to Metro Manila to start my college life. After being alone with my parents for three years, I finally had a chance to live together with my two sisters and away from my parents, and that’s when it all started. They kept on telling me about these artists who not only sang but danced well. I kept what they said in my mind, but I wasn’t totally hooked by the topic then.

2.) I hated K-pop first before I loved it

Before I got to Quezon City, I despised those Korean groups flooding the nation’s music countdowns. I hated the fact that they were in groups of 7, 9, (and even 13!). I even dissed my sisters when they kept bugging me to watch it. Eventually, I started to check them out on Youtube. I liked some of the music videos, but it took a while before they convinced me to check out some more artists. The first groups I hated then loved were Super Junior and Girls’ Generation (SNSD), while the group I truly hated then was U-Kiss (because initially I got annoyed with their repetitive “Bingeul Bingeul”, but I like them now).

Super Junior
Girls' Generation (SNSD)

3.) The Songs

I’ll admit that not every K-pop song is great, but there are definitely some stand-outs that are very good. The songs are catchy, they have different genres of music, and they have a musical style which is unique and contemporary. The Korean music industry is one of the biggest in the world! And take note that they’re only a small country with a population only half as much as the Philippines!

Some examples:

Before U Go – TVXQ

Lupin – KARA

Wedding Dress – Taeyang

4.) Disappointing American Artists’ Debuts and Comebacks

The latest songs of the biggest musicians aren’t as great as they used to be, at least in my opinion (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Akon, Britney Spears, the list goes on and on). Even the new artists don’t have anything great to offer. Instead, they just stick with those repetitive pop songs and add some auto-tune in their music, remaking old music without a lot of creativity (Ke$ha, I’m talking to you). There are still bright spots here and there (Katy Perry, B.o.B., Justin Bieber [yikes!]), but the lack of better and innovative songs created a void that left me hungry for better music.

5.) Lack of Interest With OPM

Even our OPM songs aren’t getting any better. It was 2006 when I stared discovering some major rock bands like Sponge Cola, Bamboo, Rivermaya, Eraserheads, Kjwan, Imago, Sandwich, Callalily and many more. Most of them have disbanded or in a hiatus right now, and we could probably blame ourselves for that (piracy sucks big time). Without a lot of good bands remaining, there was an opportunity for K-pop to fill in the gap.

6.) Lyrics Ain’t Everythin’, fo’ shizzle!

Lots of people say a good song requires good lyrics that can make people connect to the song, but in my opinion, lyrics aren’t everything. I’m not saying lyrics doesn’t matter, of course it does, but there’s more to music than just words. R n’ B, rap and hip-hop music are good examples. Sometimes the words don’t even make sense, but people like it because it sounds good and it’s catchy. And for people who don’t understand Korean, it’s exactly the same. And even if everyone understood the language, I bet some of the songs’ lyrics won’t make any sense either. (P.S. choreography makes up for the lyrics)

7.) High Quality

The biggest K-pop artists like 2NE1 and Big Bang had their songs produced by famous American producers (Teddy). Their music videos have a production cost between $100K-$1M each, and they have raked in tens of millions of dollars in Korea alone. Talk about high quality music. The videos are shot using state-of-the-art video cameras and they have different costumes in every live performances. Entertainment companies spend millions of dollars for their trainees and they discipline their artists by making them work hard for about 3-8 years before they finally have a chance to debut. Yep, it almost seems like they’re the new America.

8.) The Artists

The most popular groups get the most attention and the members get a chance to be in the spotlight in interviews, photo shoots, live performances or cameos in different shows. Eventually you’ll get hooked to the artists and end up being bigger fans of their groups because they’re just fun to watch. My favorites so far are Goo Hara (Kara), Jiyeon (T-ara), everyone from Big Bang (Daesung, Taeyang, Seungri, G-Dragon, TOP), Yuri (Girls’ Generation), Seohyun (Girls’ Generation), Lizzy (After School), Eunjung (T-ara), and many others. See, I got hooked!

P.S. Don’t mention plastic surgery, it’s normal in Korea, and I don’t have anything against it.

Goo Hara
Jiyeon
From the left: TOP, Seungri, Taeyang, Daesung, G-Dragon
Yuri
Lizzy


9.) Korean TV Shows

K-pop is more than just MUSIC! That may sound crazy, but k-pop artists are trained to be versatile artists. They can sing, act and even host an event. One of the biggest reasons why I began loving K-pop is the Korean TV Shows, and I’m not talking Korean Dramas (I discovered them late), I’m talking about their variety shows! They have the funniest shows on earth! I have a 200 GB collection of shows like Family Outing, Running Man, We Got Married, etc. that not only showcases singers, but also Korean actors, gag men, models, and even Korea itself! (NOTE: Tell me if you want a copy of these shows, I’d be more than happy to give them to you). And it’s even more fun when you already know the singers involved in these shows.

AND FINALLY…

10.) THEY’RE KOREAN!

They’re KOREANS! They’re the same country who lagged behind us (economics-wise) 50 years ago, having the same problem as ours today! We were even told by many that we would become the next Japan, a powerhouse of Asia. I’m not saying that Koreans are better than us. I believe were just as good as them, but there are just a lot of things that are pulling us backwards and are preventing us from further progressing. I don’t know about you, but I blame a lot of our problems to Ferdinand Marcos. The recent problems our country is having don’t even match the vile corruption he’s done, but we don’t need to dwell on our past. We just simply need to become better citizens and pray to God that everything’s going to be okay.

So that’s it. That’s why I love K-pop and why I probably will keep loving it for the next 5 to 50 years. If you tried but you still don’t like it, I don’t blame you because it’s your choice, not mine. I’ll even admire you for trying. If you hate it, it’s okay for me either. I’m not gonna say that you’re deaf or that you have a bad taste in music or say that you’re missing half of your life. There are lots of other people I could talk to about K-pop, and I also tend to distance my guilty pleasure from my school life. There’s a time and place for everything, and I’m not gonna die if I don’t talk about K-pop. Everybody has flaws*. 🙂

Thanks for reading this, and I hope, just hope, that all of you start liking (or hating) K-pop!

*For E-5.

Topy’s Top 7 Songs For April 29-May 5, 2011

You guys know what time it is! It’s time to showcase my top 7 songs for the week! I’m kinda disappointed with the new releases of American artists this week. None of them even entered my iPod after I listened to the once. Wanna know what songs I’m talking about? Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Rihanna.

Well, good thing I discovered K-pop! Basically, the only reason I listen to K-pop is because I find American music quite boring and stagnant or disappointing at times. So when there’s a void, K-pop fills it for me.

This week, Jessie J keeps the crown for the third week in a row, while Big Bang’s newest single finally becomes the most played track in my iPod.

TOP 7 US SONGS

1.) Price Tag – Jessie J feat. B.o.B.

Previous Position: 3 Weeks at #1


2.) Make A Movie – Twista feat. Chris Brown

Previous Position: #4

This song is actually one of the best Chris Brown collaboration I’ve heard in a long while, so if you have time you can check out the embedded video above.

3.) Roll Up – Wiz Khalifa

Previous Position: #5

4.) Moment 4 Life – Nicki Minaj

Previous Position: #2

5.) Count on Me/The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars

Previous Position: #6

6.) Can’t Be Friends – Trey Songz

Previous Position: #7

7.) Best Love Song – T-Pain feat. Chris Brown

Previous Position: #3

TOP 7 K-Pop SONGS


1.) Love Song – Big Bang

Previous Position: #4

2.) Before U Go – TVXQ

Previous Position: #1

3.) Cafe – Big Bang

Previous Position: 2 Weeks at #3


4.) Intuition – CNBlue

Previous Position: #5

5.) Going Crazy – Song Ji Eun

Previous Position: #6

6.) Twinkle Twinkle – Girl’s Day

Previous Position: #2

7.) Bangkok City – Orange Caramel

Previous Position: 2 Weeks at #7



Box Office Predictions for April 29-May 1, 2011

Three new movies this weekend, which means they will probably mess up my predictions for the week. Hey, don’t blame me if I only get 1 right, okay?

This could be the second straight weekend that 2011 beats last year’s tally, so the pressure is on for a newcomer who is expected to kick off the summer season in Hollywood.

Last Week’s Box Office Mojo Derby Rank: 157 (down 48 spots from last week) with 82.913% Accuracy (up 4.452%)

1.) FAST FIVE – $75.6M – Yep, you read that correctly. Ever since Universal called the original cast back for the fourth installment, this franchise has become nothing but pure gold for the studio, domestically and internationally. They say that they want the franchise to transform into a full-blown heist movie, so they tried to add some elements here and there for the fifth movie. Adding Dwayne Johnson will also allow this one to beat Fast and Furious 4’s $70M.

2.) Rio – $17.2M – Going strong and hoping to attract more families is Rio, who will pretty much sit at the top of 2011’s tally for a while until Fast Five and Thor begins to rake in the big dollars. Expect this film to crack $100M this weekend.

3.) Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – $11.0M – Madea films never hold well in its second weekend. Maybe the length of the titles have something to do with it? I mean, you won’t even bother recommending this to your friends because saying the title alone would be tiring.

4.) Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil – $10.5M – A pretty crappy title for a pretty crappy movie. I’m unsure with my prediction for this one. Something tells me that this will underperform because nobody wants to watch a bad-looking movie in 3D (a la Cats and Dogs 2: Revenge of Kitty Galore) and also because the first movie opened 6 years ago. On the other hand, the first one opened at $12M and it ended up earning a respectable $51M. So I guess shaving the second movie by $1.5M compared to the first one is bad enough.

5.) Water For Elephants – $9.5M – I bet Pattinson fanatics already watched this in its first weekend. However, I think the older crowd will want to catch this in its second week. Word-of-mouth has been pretty much okay for this one so I don’t think it will crash and burn like Pattinson’s last romantic drama, Remember Me.

6.) Prom – $9.0M – Who doesn’t wanna revisit their high school prom? Me! This is an effortlessly-titled movie distributed by Disney, which means we’re against the teens here. I never predict teen-powered flicks correctly, but I can tell you that this won’t beat Fast Five. PROMISE.

7.) Hop – $6.5M – After sharing his eggs last week, Hop will take its steepest drop so far since it rose 12% on Easter. I don’t think this will bleed more than 50% though.

So…WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED LAST YEAR?


It was a really front-loaded weekend last year as the remake Nightmare on Elm Street took the top spot with $32.9M. How To Train Your Dragon and Date Night held well with $10.6M and $7.5M respectively, while Brendan Fraser’s kiddie comedy Furry Vengeance garnered little interest and tanked with a $6.6M 5th place finish.

Box Office Results April 22-24, 2011 [final update]

[updated: more accurate estimates courtesy of box office mojo]

Wow! This one calls for a celebration! For the first time this year, we have a sure winning weekend against the same weekend last year! More good news is that this week’s top 12 earned 121M, 36% more than that of last year! It looks like the year could catch up to the 19% lead that 2010 has after all! And April is the only month to have 2 movies winning consecutive weekends since November of last year

Number One Movie Predicted Correctly: 0 Weeks in a Row

Number of Times I Nailed the Top 7: 1

1.) Rio – Surprise, surprise! It looks like the holdovers (angry birds) defeated the newcomers (fat suits) this week! I think that people are starting to learn that good movies deserve to be at the top while lackluster ones should be sent to the garbage can. But don’t think my predictions are already wrong! It looks like the top 2 movies are gonna end up having a photo-finish!

[updated: well, I prayed, but I guess Madea just can’t steal a win this week]

Predicted Outcome: Rank 2, $23.5M

Actual Gross: $26.3M

Total Gross: $80.6M


2.) MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY – I should’ve followed my instincts. History repeats itself one more time as another sequel earns much less than its predecessor. That’s what happens when you disappoint people, and I’m telling you, America’s getting smarter with their movie choices. This one had the best per-theater-average though, and still reached an impressive $20M+. Heck, even Big Momma couldn’t do that!

Predicted Outcome: Rank 1, $35.0M

Actual Gross: $25.1M

Total Gross: $25.1M


3.) WATER FOR ELEPHANTS – Over-performing this week is this Pattinson-Witherspoon project. My favorite critic said that the two didn’t have any chemistry, and that Christoph Waltz stole their thunder. Still, I find this film intriguing, but what’s more intriguing was how strange this whole weekend was. This week is actually only one of the few that generates more money on Friday than Saturday. Maybe people just wanted to rest on Black Saturday. I don’t know, or maybe they just wanted to wait ’till Jesus rises from the dead this Easter. Hey, I’m a Catholic too!

Predicted Outcome: Rank 3, $18.6M

Actual Gross: $16.8M

Total Gross: $16.8M


4.) Hop – Also doing well this Easter (and I expected it to) is a movie about the Easter Bunny. No surprise there, but I just want to know how come everytime I try to not be bullish, a movie over-performs and vice versa? Damn!

[update: Hop becomes the 3rd movie to reach $100M this year]

Predicted Outcome: Rank 4, $9.1M

Actual Gross: $12.2M

Total Gross: $100.2M


5.) Scream 4 – Aah! Aah! Aah! Aah! There, I screamed four times. Are you happy now, Scream 4? I guess not, because you crashed and burned this week by 63%! Ouch! No more sequels for you my friend!

Predicted Outcome: Rank 5, $9.0M

Actual Gross: $7.0M

Total Gross: $31.0M


6.) AFRICAN CATS – This movie earned just about the same as Oceans and Earth did their opening weekend. I guess people thought Lion King, Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life were equally good movies.

Predicted Outcome: Rank 6, $6.4M

Actual Gross: $6.0M

Total Gross: $6.0M


7.) Soul Surfer – No hard feeling for you, Rio, I still get 5 out of 7 this week, and that’s slightly better than my average. Still, what are the odds I get another lucky break and get those 7 right once again when the final results come out within the next 2 days?

Predicted Outcome: Rank 7, $4.8M

Actual Gross: $5.4M

Total Gross: $28.5M

Total Score: 5 out of 7, with a variance of $2.94285714287143M per prediction.

221st Movie Review: Wedding Crashers (2005)

A flawed film saved by its marvelous cast

THE STORY WAS AWFUL!

Sorry, I just had to say that out loud. However, the whole movie didn’t actually seem awful thanks to the wonderful performance of the cast members. And in actuality, this is one of the best examples of a raunchy, male-oriented romantic comedy!

Divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are business partners and lifelong friends who share one truly unique springtime hobby–crashing weddings! Whatever the ethnicity of the wedding party–Jewish, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Hindu–the charismatic and charming duo always have clever back stories for inquisitive guests and inevitably become the hit of every reception, where they strictly adhere to their proven rules of wedding crashing to meet and pick up women aroused by the very thought of marriage. At the tail end of another successful season of toasting brides and grooms, Jeremy learns that the daughter of Treasury Secretary William Cleary (Christopher Walken) and his wife, Kathleen, is getting married in what is sure to be the Washington D.C. social event of the year. After infiltrating the lavish affair, John and Jeremy quickly set their sights on two bridesmaids, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher) Cleary. With the lavish reception in full swing… -Written by Sujit R. Varma

Okay, before I get to the cast, I give props to the editors of the film. It was clearly edited with care and you can tell from the film’s first scene, when John and Jeremy started to crash different types of weddings.

So now lets move on to the saviors of the movie, the cast. The movie had an excellent ensemble, and includes some of my favorites in Hollywood. I can say that out of all rom-com’s I’ve watched, they’re definitely the most fun, but not the funniest. Owen Wilson OWNED this film, and he certainly fits the picture of an aging bachelor. Vince Vaughn was a little more tolerable here than in his other films, and for the first time, I actually thought he was a perfect match with his character’s partner, Isla Fisher. Fisher was OUTSTANDING! Among the rest of the cast, I think she was the one who gave the best performance. I mean, she was 29 when the movie was made, but she made me think that she’s just someone in her early 20’s and at the same time remain as the bubbliest and most childish hot actress in the world. Rachel McAdams was okay, but she didn’t have any noteworthy performance. Christopher Walken redefined the term politician dad, Bradley Cooper’s showed his potential as the next Hollywood star (which he eventually became), and finally, Will Farell’s cameo was AWESOME!

Now let’s move on to the bad part. I thought it got a tad too long before John got his girl back. And why would he even attempt to get Claire if he knew from the start that he was eventually gonna be busted? True love maybe? As the movie progressed, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that the movie could’ve been a whole lot more EPIC if they had a better writer to pen the script.

Then again, the cliched plot is made less hackneyed by a fun yet improbable storyline, not to mention the good delivery of the actors. So overall, the story was terrible, but the actors’ performances was enough to make me enjoy it.

GRADE: B-

I agreed with the majority

External Ratings:

Rotten Tomatoes: 75% Fresh, 6.8/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 7.1/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 64/100

220th Movie Review: The Truman Show (1998)

Jim Carrey in The Truman Show

Absolutely unique, interesting and well-thought of

The Truman Show is something I never expected to see. Now I regret that I haven’t watched this movie until now. At first I thought it was just a retelling of ex-US president Harry S. Truman’s life, but good thing I checked this out at Rottentomatoes, or else I may have never seen this absolutely intelligent film that breaks the barrier between private and public life.

In this movie, Truman (Jim Carrey) is a man whose life is a fake one… The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day… he finds out everything.Written by Chris Makrozapholous

I felt like I was watching Big Brother set in a big city. I was amused by how the actors around Truman taped him with their hidden cameras. Jim Carrey is fun to watch while portraying Truman as he tries to figure out what’s actually going on around him. He desperately tried to find some clues, and he found them. After that, it was a non-stop challenge for the whole cast as they prevented him from knowing the truth.

You could say that everything that happened in his life occurred to prevent him from leaving the studio (I meant the ISLAND). That’s what fascinates me the most about this film. Where the hell did the studio get their money from to create a studio as big as a small town? The whole show could’ve been very expensive to produce. You’ll also have to pay for the citizens (more like NPC’s) living in the area. How in the world was a company able to adopt an unwanted child without any backlash from human rights and child abuse supporters? I mean, Truman basically lived his whole life without being paid, and the show went on to air for almost 30 YEARS!

Nevertheless, the whole point of the show was to keep you interested. And my, oh my, just as people watching the Truman Show were eager to find out what would happen to him next, so was I. I’m not gonna spoil the ending, but I can say that it ended up being a happy one for Truman. For me though, I wanted to see more of what happens in his life, especially since there’s a GIRL waiting for him in the — oops, I’m spoiling too much.

But hey, what can we do? He’s already escaped from the cameras, the secret paparazzi. He has already figured out that he’s living in a fake world made by his foster parents (a company). You know that you love a movie if you want more and you want to see what happens next. And that’s exactly want I want after watching this movie. This is Jim Carrey’s best movie I’ve ever seen so far, and it just made me give a lot more respect to him as an actor.

GRADE: A- (1 of only 23 with and A- or above)

I agreed with the majority

External Ratings:

Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh, 8.2/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 8.0/10 User Rating (Top 223 all time)

Metacritic: 90/100