Official PEx Movie Reviews [2019]

PEx_MoviesPEx_Movies Administrator PEx Admin
edited March 11 in Movie Reviews
Bumblebee bumbles not — by emulating an Amblin-esque filmmaking and staying away from Michael Bay’s “Bayhem”. 

PEx Reviewer : pabzicles

PEx Rating: 8.5/10

Bumblebee bumbles not — by emulating an Amblin-esque filmmaking and staying away from Michael Bay’s “Bayhem”. The Transformers universe is done being big and takes another direction by focusing on the friendship between teenager Charlie and the small Autobot Bumblebee. It is the smallest film in the universe but it has the biggest heart.

The film starts at Cyberton (the home of Transformers), where a civil war is occurring between the two opposing factions: Autobots and Decepticons. While the Decepticons gains the upper hand, Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) secretly sends off Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O’ Brien) to Earth to set up the Autobot’s distant base of operations.

Meanwhile on Earth, Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfield), a not-so-herself-teenager after the death of her father is having trouble moving on. The feeling of isolation persists when her family reacts the other way. Sally (Pamela Adlon) replaced her dad with her now stepfather Ron (Stephen Schneider). Plus the estranged relationship with his brother Otis (Jason Drucker). Little did she knows, things will start to change after her Uncle Hank gave her a yellow Volkswagen Beetle on her birthday.

For starters, where does Bumblebee fit in the timeline? In all honesty, the new installment suggests that it is a prequel in respect to the already existing films. The only clear connection we can see is the existence of Sector 7 — the secret American government agency that deals with extraterrestrial technology and threats in the Transformers (2007). Other than that, it suggests a soft reboot or retcon of the universe. There are some contradiction in the canon like Bumblebee’s landing on Earth in 1980s versus his 1940’s World War II existence. The Generation 1 design versus the Bay’s Transformers design. With the universe already convoluted storylines, we may better treat this as a stand-alone film and it does best being one without necessary knowledge of the universe.

Bumblebee borrows much of its storyline from Steven Spielberg’s (who co-executive produce the film) Amblin films such as E.T. or BFG where a child befriends an alien or enormous creature. Such trope makes this film predictable and the usual plot of Transformers where the combined forces of human and Autobots beating the hell out of Decepticons. Setting it on the backdrop of 1980’s era is also evident in the Spielberg latest outing Ready Player One which throws pop culture references such as Breakfast Club etc. plus the sound and style of the generation.

By comparing to all of its previous films, it seems to be a creation of people who studied Bay’s Transformers installments and serve as course correction in all ways. For instance, screenwriter Chistina Hodson put a female figure on the center of it which seems to be a combination of Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Banes of Transformers (2007). Teenagers who befriend Bumbleebee and entangled between the war of both factions (although Mikaela has fascination on cars which seems to be like Charlie). Yep, all familiar but Bay direction’s does not connect to those teenagers storyline behind all the mayhem which Hodson successfully do so. She makes it grounded and ensures that it focus more on the emotion and connection between our characters.

On other hand, Travis Knight (fresh from his directorial debut of Oscar-nominated animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) ) stray away from Bayhem as much as possible. Gone are Michael Bay’s signature such as spinning and low-angle shots and fast intercuts but rather replaced it with Dutch angles and allows every scene to breathe and let viewers take in every action with the same feeling of exhilaration. He let us see Bumbleebee’s comic side but also its emotional side too through close up shots. Steinfield is in no way objectified in this film like Bay always did on female characters. In an androcentric world of Transformers, it is so refreshing to see her as Ripley like character. Unlike Bay Transformers, military and robots always steal the show but the film invests more of its time in the dynamics of Charlie and Bee but also delivers amazing action sequences and as always – almost perfect CGI.

The film boasts itself with outstanding casts like Hailee Steinfield. She brings to the table a bit of comic and a bit of a tomboy performance similar to her Edge of Seventeen (2016) outing. She is a real sweetheart and maybe the only reason why this film pulls off. His love interest Memo played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is surprisingly endearing too. John Cena (a bit of odd choice because of his popularity in comedy genre) as Jack Burns serves as the frenemy in the story. He delivers a good performance that shows some serious side of him but the script won’t fully allow it. For the voice roles, the only thing worth mentioning is Angela Bassett precise and regal voice of Shatter. Too bad Dylan O’ Brien short lines for Bee is too short but hey! Bee is charming in every way.

Bumblebee is a departure from our usual Transformers films. But for the first time in the franchise, we care for its characters and yes even on the robots. It showcases the story of teenage girl regaining herself after an emotional breakdown and that story is worth our precious time. This sense of new direction for the franchise will ultimately gain converts that will add up to already established Transformers fan base and could spawn more sequel or even prequels.

Director: Travis Knight; Written By: Christina Hodson; Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.; Running Time: 1 hour and 54 minutes; MTRCB Rating: PG 
Images: UIP/Paramount Pictures

Bumblebee in cinemas Jan. 8.

Check out the official discussion thread here:  Bumblebee



  • PEx_MoviesPEx_Movies Administrator PEx Admin
    With everything that's going on around the world, Joe Cornish beckons all of us to re-examine our values through a modern retelling of King Arthur's tale.

    PEx Rating: 6/10
    Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

    Middle-schooler Alex is forced to deal with a lot of issues at such a young age. He struggles with being
    raised without a father. He lives by the bullying he experiences at school. But everything changes when
    he pulls a sword out of stone in an abandoned construction site. And yes, that is indeed the legendary
    sword of King Arthur - Excalibur.

    The Kid Who Would Be King is a coming of age story tapping chivalrous values and packed as a fantasy
    flick. Audience young and old are hooked with the tale of a noble quest, unimaginable display of magic,
    and the occasional comedic banter. However, viewers slowly relate with what each of the characters are
    going through. And this lets the film subtly throw life lessons that everyone can benefit from whatever
    one may be going through in life.

    It is rather difficult for a film like The Kid Who Would Be King to compete against a variety of other
    movies currently shown in the cinemas. However, it offers an alternative that is quite different in all
    aspects to what moviegoers are normally presented with. The movie balances fantasy with real-life
    lessons and serves just the right amount of drama, comedy, and action to pull off a flick that’s quite
    palatable to watch.

    The Kid who would be King, in cinemas January 23, 2019!

    Check out the official discussion thread here: 
    The Kid who would be King
  • PEx_MoviesPEx_Movies Administrator PEx Admin
    A relevant and timely film filled with serious themes for Filipinos to learn from. 

    PEx Rating: 7.5/10

    Clint Eastwood at the age of 88 has been on Hollywood long enough that some people might say he must retire from film making and better spend his time with his family. But the man shows no signs of slowing down and continues to create films that shows American way of life, patriotism and history. Or maybe, as a man of age, he just wants to show to everybody that he can still do anything (even acting for a threesome scenes) and that was his character in The Mule is all about. 

    In 2008, Eastwood starred in and directed Gran Torino (2008) from writer Nick Schenk. A decade later, the duo collaborated once again in the loosely based adaptation of The New York Times article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” by Sam Dolnick which recounts the true story of Leo Sharp who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel in his late 80s. Two films that feature Korean War veteran and Eastwood has nobody in mind for the leading role rather than himself.
    The Mule centers on Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood), a nonagenarian horticulturist that has estranged relationship with his family because he loves his job more than anything. He is a careless man that loves cursing, speaks “****” or “negro” and listens to music while driving on the road. A champion for his peers but not to his own family. When the Internet starts to cause financial troubles, he was pushed to become a drug courier - “a mule” for the Mexican cartel. A one-time deal that soon becomes a habit.

    It is a character-driven film and thus it relies heavily on Eastwood skills in front and behind the camera. Portraying as the lead, he is physically fit for his age and embodies the role similar to his performance in Gran Torino. His unapologetic and friendly take provides humor most specifically for being sexist, racist and horny. But the fact that even his screen appearance of just driving and singing in a car is entertaining enough, which validates his choice that nobody is ever perfect to embody Earl Stone than himself.

    Moreover, all those things are due to his skills behind the camera. He ensures that even simple scenes will keep the audience invested to it by providing beautiful scenery during the driving scenes, a dramatic conversation during his family interactions and to the tensions created every now and then by a drug cartel and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    It is surprising that the script is full of humor given that the trailer suggests it is a heavy drama and thrilling film. The film moves like a donkey at times at times has questionable plot points but overall it unfolds just fine until the end. While Earl Stone story is driving straight ahead, other characters are just tagging along. Which makes its diverse supporting cast in the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, etc. are underused. The scene where Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper), a DEA Agent, taking advice from Earl Stone in the bar is the only time Bradley Cooper shines. This is the part where the film asserts why family is always important.

    The third act is the point where most of dramatic moments comes from and will literally make you cry. The phase where Earl Stone finally realizes that he can’t run forever, from his family, from the DEA and from justice. It does not end in a bang but it is done right. 

    The film is filled with themes such as sexism, racial prejudice, stereotypes, family importance and above all the crimes involved in illegal drug economy. Also, it provides commentary on how advancement in technology affect jobs and the modern generation’s reliance on mobile phones. Even the casting choices shows that racial inclusion is important and yes, even from our own in the form of Eugene Cordero as Luis Rocha.

    The Mule may not be a Clint Eastwood career’s finest but the story of Earl Stone is a relevant and timely film filled with serious themes for Filipinos to learn from. 

    Director: Clint Eastwood; Written By: Nick Schenk; Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, Andy García; Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes; MTRCB Rating:  R-16

    Images: Warner Bros. Pictures

    The Mule opens January 30th in select Ayala Malls Cinemas.

    Check out the official discussion thread here:  The Mule
  • pexer99pexer99 PEx Admin
    A dog movie that finds its way into our hearts through cuteness. 

    PEx Reviewer : pabzicles
    PEx Rating: 7/10
    Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

    What is supposedly a heartwarming story of separation and reunion from W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Way Home is muddled with tonally confusing narrative, bland voice acting and less striking CGI. Good thing that it is a dog-centric film that does features lots of cute animals and heart-tugging moments enough to alleviate its viewers from going home. 

    A Dog’s Way Home let us follows Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard), a part-pit bull puppy raised by a cat and finds her home through the loving arms of Lucas (Jonah King) together with his mom Terri (Ashley Judd), an army veteran. When a Denver ordinance prohibits the family from owning a pit bull, Lucas was forced to send Bella to live with the family of his friend Olivia (Alexandra Shipp) in Farmington, New Mexico. Bella misses Lucas so much that one day she decided to escape from the Farmington house. Finding our canine embarks on a 400 mile journey from New Mexico to Colorado. Along the way, she discovers the harshness of the environment and makes friendly and hostile encounters to animals and humans alike.  

    As its title suggest, the story follows a narrative of dog that gone lost and find its way home movies that came before it. But there is more of it than meets the eye. Rather than choosing the conventional way, its writer-author Cameron, co-writing with his wife Michon tried stuff it with lots of serious subtexts which makes it tonally confusing.

    It is so easy to root for our beleaguered canine and following her story alone is worth investing. But same as Bella’s journey with lots of good and bad moments are similar to its narrative choices. One of its bad subplots shows a horrid scene where Bella gets tied to a corpse and unable to drink water for days only to be found by children that have more concern on the dog rather than the corpse. Another one is her story of robbing food from humans (majority of times) and make us feel like it is okay and fun. And the greatest of it all is showing to us that animal welfare and pit bull law that aim to protect these animals are meant to harm them. 

    But with all of its bad choices, are the good ones too. It tried to open conversation on why animal hunting is terrible. I like how it features the duality of man. That there exists a bad owner that does not deserve to be with pets opposite the loving/caring owners too. Which proves that man is dog’s best friend and also its worst enemy. Also, it opens up how dogs can help to cure depression.  

    Speaking of its visual effects, it is understandable given its production budget that its visual effects is less striking. But we can't deny that there are animal movements in here that is rather off put. Most specifically, on the scenes between Big Kitten (an orphaned bobcat) and Bella. But this unlikely friendship is one of the best encounter Bella had on her way home.

    Charles Martin Smith gives us a well paced film that features lots of animals (wild and domesticated) against the beautiful terrains of New Mexico and Colorado. Bryce Dallas Howard voice that lacks pathos nor humor to embody Bella as a dog full of soul spoils it. As if she was just doing a commentary that requires flat narration. But Smith’s power to create emotionally charged scenes by putting focus on the innocent face of our protagonist and Danna’s dramatic scores helps to provide emotional beats that will surely melt your heart. 

    A Dog's Way Home will easily find its niche with animal lovers but Bella’s cuteness could win over your heart even if it's the coldest one. It is a sweet and enjoyable journey regardless of all its imperfections and should be the best way to spend time  with your family (and pets too) this month of love. 

    Columbia Pictures presents in association with Bona Film Group Co., Ltd., a
    Pariah production, A Dog’s Way Home.

    Director: Charles Martin Smith; Written By: W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon; Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, with Wes Studi and Bryce Dallas Howard.; Running Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes; MTRCB Rating: G (General Audiences) 

    A Dog's Way Home in cinemas Feb. 6!

    Check out the official discussion thread here:  A Dog's Way Home

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