Until death do us part


Philippine release date: May 10, 2017

Screenplay and Director: Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy

Stars: Vyacheslav Chepurchenko, Aleksandra Rebenok, Igor Khripunov

Genre: Horror


The Russian horror movie - The Bride (or Hebecta in Russian) is set to be shown in the Philippines this May 10 , 2017.  The Bride tells about the story of Nastya, a young small town girl, who traveled with Ivan, her soon-to-be husband, to his hometown where they plan to get marry.  Upon their arrival, Nastya can't help but notice the eerie and bizarre photos seen all-over the house of Ivan.  



While his family prepares Nastya for the mysterious traditional Slavic wedding ceremony, Ivan disappears.  As the wedding ceremony draws near, Nastya starts seeing some strange and terrible visions.  Feeling the something is going wrong, being surrounded by strange and unusual traditions and being with uncanny people, Nastya now has second thoughts about the impending ceremony.  


MTRCB Rating: (not yet rated)

Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Company Credit: Released by Planeta Inform thru Solar Pictures

PRISON BREAK is back and ready for its biggest escape yet.

Let us take a pause from movies for a while and talk about the return of a hit television series created by Paul Scheuring - Prison Break.  It was originally aired by Fox and made its initial run in 2005 and lasted up to 2009, having at least four very successful seasons.  This April 2017, Prison Break returns for its fifth season with nine (9) heart-pounding episodes. 

In the Philippines, the all-new PRISON BREAK returns exclusively on 2nd Avenue.  


In the new event series PRISON BREAK, original series stars Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Sarah Wayne Callies, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Rockmond Dunbar, and Paul Adelstein are reunited for an all-new adventure spanning the globe and featuring the signature thrills and cliffhangers that were hallmarks of the original series when it aired from 2005-2009.



The original action drama centered on Michael Scofield (Miller, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), a young man determined to save his convicted brother, Lincoln Burrows (Purcell, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), from death row by hatching an elaborate plan to escape from prison.



In the new series, filmed on location in Morocco, clues surface that suggest a previously thought-to-be-dead Michael may be alive. Lincoln and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies, Colony, The Walking Dead), Michael’s wife until he was presumed dead, reunite to engineer the biggest escape ever, as three of Fox River State Penitentiary’s most notorious escapees, Sucre (Nolasco, Telenovela), T-Bag (Knepper, Heroes) and C-Note (Dunbar, The Mentalist), are pulled back into the action.



PRISON BREAK was an immediate critical and ratings hit, garnering Golden Globe® Award nominations for Best Television Series – Drama and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Miller). The original producing team, including series creator Paul T. Scheuring, Neal Moritz, Marty Adelstein and Dawn Olmstead, return to executive-produce the new series.



The premiere of PRISON BREAK was held last April 5, Wednesday via satellite at 3 PM and primetime at 9 PM. It was really thrilling and I just can't wait for the next episode to the aired. 

Join the conversation at #PrisonBreakOn2ndAvenue. You can check out 2nd Avenue on http://2ndavenue.ph/, www.facebook.com/2ndAvenue, and follow them on Twitter via @2nd_Avenue and on Instagram via @2ndavenuetv. 

2nd Avenue is the only general entertainment channel on Free TV and Pay TV that offers diverse content, featuring delightfully driven characters for the discerning market. Seen on UHF Free TV Ch. 29, SkyCable Ch. 19, Global Destiny Cable Ch. 29, Cablelink Ch. 35, Cignal Ch. 28, and Dream Channel Satellite Ch. 32.

Prison Break on 2nd Avenue is made possible by Solar Entertainment Corporation.   It is the largest content provider and channel operator in Southeast Asia. It is committed to elevating the network to a global standard and maintaining Solar as a leader and innovator in the industry. Until today, Solar continues to widen its programming to meet the demands of emerging audiences.
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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Rated R: For Intense Violence and Language

Running Time: 139 minutes (2 hours and 19 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Biopic, Drama, War

Released on November 4, 2016 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Cross Creek Pictures, Demarest Films, Argent Pictures, IM Global, AI Film Productions, Vendian Entertainment, Kylin Pictures, Pandemonium Films, Permut Productions, Summit Entertainment and Icon Film Distribution

Based on a True Story

Writers: Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring:
  • Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss
  • Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell
  • Sam Worthington as Captain Jack Glover
  • Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss
  • Luke Bracey as Smitty Ryker
  • Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte

And we are back with yet another movie review about of Oscar-nominated flick, as we continue to review each of the movies I have watched during my stress remedy season! Before anything else, I just want to say that this film is truly worthy of the nomination. Yes, that is right! M. Night Shyamalan is not the only one making a comeback recently, but also actor slash controversy magnet Mel Gibson, as he is back at doing what he does best, making movies, although I could see him return to major acting roles some day, and his latest project will leave you speechless. In this post, Dateline Movies reviews this next Best Picture Nominee that is really inspiring, especially for a Roman Catholic like all of us in our family (potential religious bias aside), Hacksaw Ridge! Also, needless to say, spoilers ahead.


What is the movie about?

It was the age of war, and Desmond Doss, played by Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) a faithful Seventh Day Adventist who lives with his violent, former soldier father, Tom, played by Weaving (The Matrix Trilogy), and is in love with a local nurse named Dorothy Schutte played by Teresa Palmer (Lights Out), seeks to extend a lending hand to those who were sacrificing their lives for freedom's sake. However, he has a catch. He will support in the front lines as a medical aid, but on the condition that he does not carry a single firearm in the battlefield.

Preparing to enter the hellish war zone that is Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond is brutally mocked by his comrades-in-arms for his religious beliefs, with some of those who pick on him being Smitty Ryker, played by Bracey (Point Break Remake), and his superiors Sergeant Howell, played by Vaughn (Into The Wild) and Captain Jack Glover, played by Worthington (Avatar).

How far can Desmond Doss go through the scorching fires of war? Can he stay true to what he believes?

What we think of the movie?


Acting = (5/5)

Recently, I have read a lot about Andrew Garfield appearing in several Oscar-worthy materials, including last year's Silence, another religious feature which follows Garfield as a Jesuit priest attempting to rescue a colleague from captivity, and 99 Homes, which we will be reviewing sooner or later. I have not watched any of the two previously mentioned films yet, but while I am more familiar with his then tenure as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Hacksaw Ridge clearly made use of Garfield's knack for drama effectively, and as such, his performance here is one of his finest in his entire career. Here, Garfield masterfully portrays Desmond as a relatable, peace-seeking war hero with pure energy and a whole lot of heart. The movie's tender moments, from his climactic rescue mission, to the scenes with his family and the love of his life, with the best scene making this claim evident being that part wherein he was temporarily incarcerated for insubordination, as well as during Smitty's ambush attack on Desmond, allowed Garfield to truly tug with our heartstrings with effortless charm.


I am not exactly a fan of most of Vince Vaughn's comedic outings, as the majority of them, for me, personally, come out as cliched or just plain badly executed. However, the moment Vaughn's Sergeant Holler debuted as Desmond's strict, wise-cracking drill instructor, I burst into tears with laughter.


For a serious movie such as this one, Vaughn was able to finally put his comedic amiability to very good use, with extremely lively, flying colors. As Desmond's superior with a very harsh sense of humor, especially in that one scene wherein Sergeant Holler made various insults towards his subordinates to get them ready for the battle to come, made Vaughn's character as a surprising standout persona, and in an instant, he just showed how much talent he can show when he is outside his usual familiar element. While he has recently been appearing in other dramatic roles such as the second season of HBO's True Detective, this movie might just pave the way for more, better roles for the actor.


Man, it really has been a long time since we have seen or heard of Hugo Weaving in a major motion picture production. As every fanboy's favorite villain actor, as he is notable for playing the nefarious Mister Smith in The Matrix Trilogy, the maniacal Megatron in the Transformer movie series, and as the evil Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, Weaving has made audiences everywhere quake at his demanding on-screen presence. However, there have been some times wherein you cannot just help but root for his character, like in V for Vendetta and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Here, Weaving portrayed Desmond's father, Tom, who is now a depressed and disillusioned veteran of the First World after past wartime traumas. While we only get to see him in a few key scenes, Weaving's notable charisma made Tom Doss a tragic figure, who only due to past experiences, was turned into a man who has lost his way, and during the scene wherein Desmond is being tried as a "conscientious objector" (Someone who refuses to kill out of conscience), Weaving made Tom more than just a broken father, but a caring, and at least, a trying one.


Teresa Palmer is a great actress, although most of the roles she take are admittedly underwhelming. From The Sorcerer's Apprentice to The Best of Me, Palmer managed to shine despite the  fact that seriously, she could really deserve a big break. However, this movie was no exception, and while like Weaving, only appeared in merely a handful of key scenes, Palmer managed to make use of her limited screen time to make a mark in the flick. Here, we see the actress portray the anchor to Desmond's life, the light in the darkness that surrounds him in the battlefield, and outside, and similar to Garfield, managed to deliver some of the film's much more emotional scenes, and make audiences everywhere shed a tear or two in awe at her chemistry with Garfield.



For Worthington's and Bracey's portrayals of Captain Jack Glover and Smitty Ryker, respectively, two of other Desmond's foils and eventual friends during his time in the war, in small roles, they performed amiably well. Pretty good portrayals done in incredibly short amounts of screen time, if you ask me.

Direction and Quality = (5/5)

Come on, it is a movie directed by Mel Gibson, also known as the director of the award-winning Braveheart. Of course it ought to be shot beautifully, and executed spectacularly as it was.

The shocking battle sequences as well as its gory and bloody outcome has become a patent for director Mel Gibson, just like what he does at The Passion of Christ. You can see blood everywhere, including seeing a number of mutilated and dismembered bodies.  Almost half of the movie, you cannot see much violence, but once they venture into war, when Desmond and his company's arrival at Hacksaw Ridge, it has all become bloody and chaotic as one will definitely expect from a war movie.  The ending scenes featuring Desmond's daring rescue of seventy or more of his comrades (as well as some enemies), are fashionably well-done. Now those are fine examples on how to perfectly do an outstanding, pulse-pounding action scenes, and not like the ones which that we regularly see in other works, which are mostly lazily done or lacking in any actual tension. Don't even get me started on the naval forces bombardment of Hacksaw Ridge at their entry. That was amazingly shot!

Also, the movie does a good job at keeping you at the edge of your seat at every turn with the help of some minimal jump scares, including that spooky human-made alarm system (Those who saw it will understand that) and Desmond's nightmare sequence wherein he gets ambushed by enemy forces at night.

The score done by Rupert Gregson-Williams is resoundingly brilliant! His work here, with the accompaniment of his orchestra members, wonderfully blends well with the gripping nature of the motion picture, and in the end, we were treated to a delightful experience at the theater house.


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (5/5)

You know, stories that revolve around religious beliefs are usually doomed to be trashed by several critics and moviegoers, with the exception of those who are strong of faith. I am a Roman Catholic myself, and I have not seen movies such as God's Not Dead completely yet, but from what I have heard, it pretty much boils down to the cinematic equivalent of a philosophical lecture. That is not what a movie about faith should be. It should be, yes, true to one's standings, but it should not be, as most would say it, "on the nose", or too direct. Moviegoers expect to be inspired or be thrilled while watching in front of the big screen, not get bored to death with shallow thoughts. Hacksaw Ridge thankfully managed to make use of a true to life account of a faithful and strong-willed war hero, and turn it into more than just a tribute, but also a rewarding and thoughtful testament to a greater universal truth that will touch the hearts of anyone who watches it.


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Like Arrival, I admire the film's efforts to place a lot of focus on the humanity of the characters, specifically that of the protagonist Desmond Doss. The further you progress through the story of Desmond, on the way encountering the real reasons why Desmond does not like using a gun in battle, which are eventually revealed to be because of him nearly killing his father while he was undergoing a drunken tirade with Desmond's mother, and him accidentally hitting his younger brother Hal, played by Nathaniel Buzolic (Needle) while playing, the more you root for Desmond, and in the process, probably relating to his inner turmoils.


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The dialogue is phenomenal as well, especially Sergeant Holler's insulting quips. Most of Desmond's lines are actually pretty memorable, and they really know how to be life-motivating in a way.

But I will admit that this movie started out a little bit slow though, due to some expository scenes that explore further on Desmond's life. Stick with it, however, and you are in for one heck of an amazing journey.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (5/5)

There are only a few, minor cliches here, and most of them here are are pretty much obvious and identifiable in a single glare. These include the "underestimated hero" in the form of Desmond Doss himself, and the theme of belief-based discrimination. But like I said, these are only minor, and in no way will any of these usual tropes will prevent you from enjoying the movie. Trust us, they will not.

By the ending, we see that Doss and his comrades are pinned down by several enemies, with Smitty and several of his other brothers-in-arms dying in the crossfire. With not much people left to fight with him, Desmond took it upon himself to rescue anyone who is still breathing in the battlefield, all the while evading captivity from his foes. After picking-up a lot of his comrades and safely delivering them back to the nearby shoreline through the use of a rope to guide their way down from the cliff, we are treated to a beautiful shot of Desmond dodging enemy fire from here and there to the tune of Gregson-Williams' perfect score. I am not going to lie. I actually teared-up for a short while, namely because it was just really, really, really beautiful!

With Desmond's valor honored by his teammates, he returns for another round of search-and-rescue, until he gets caught in a grenade blast while defending his peers. The film then closes with Desmond returning home to his now-wife Dorothy, carrying the Bible that she gave to Desmond.

Overall, this was a very fitting ending to an otherwise above-average war movie, complete with moments of raw melancholy and smartly executed thrills.
Overall Evaluation = (5/5)

On paper, it would appear that this film is just going to be another by-the-numbers war story, but thanks to a careful direction and performances that honor the real people that they are based on, this is a brilliant piece of cinema!

TOTAL = 25/25 (Masterpiece)

Hacksaw Ridge signals a major comeback for actor and director Mel Gibson and a showcase for Andrew Garfield's increasingly visible range of talents, as well as a heartfelt masterpiece that reminds all of us to stay true to what we believe in.

It is movies like these ones that give me a reason to write. It is basically wonderful beyond words, surely it will leave quite an impression on your faces, and your spirits will truly be raised. I also once heard that Mel Gibson is being eyed to direct the Suicide Squad sequel. Whether or not this is true, Gibson seems like he can handle the property.

It is still a shame that Andrew Garfield is no longer Spider-Man. He was very good in the role. And speaking of Spider-Man, recently, there has been quite a serious buzz surrounding the web-head's eventual fate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Sony seems to be forming a strategy of their own to reclaim Spider-Man for their own, starting with a potential R-rated Venom solo movie? Uh-oh, this is not looking good. We can only hope for the best with Spider-Man: Homecoming, coming soon to theaters. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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Arrival (2016)

Rated PG-13: For Minimal Language and Violence

Running Time: 116 minutes (1 hour and 56 minutes)

Genre/s: Adaptation, Alien, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction

Released on November 11, 2016 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by 21 Laps Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Lava Bear Films, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures

Based on the Short Story "Story of Your Life" Written by Ted Chiang

Writer: Eric Heisserer

Director: Denis Villienueve

Starring:
  • Amy Adams as Doctor Louise Banks
  • Jeremy Renner as Doctor Ian Donelly
  • Forest Whitaker as Colonel G.T. Weber
  • Michael Stuhlbarg as Agent David Halpern

Get ready, for yet another science-fiction movie about aliens visiting our world, featuring a cast of talented actors playing as scientists and military personnel, who are all trying to ensure the safety of humankind. Only this time... there is not much action at all, or even an invasion story, and instead, it is about humans actually (trying) negotiating for once with extraterrestrials? It might sound like the perfect recipe for a good, relaxing sleep, but I can assure you that this, being considered as my favorite movie of 2016, is undoubtedly one of the finest films that I and Dad have watched! We are not joking. We really do love this flick. Dateline Movies is back again with reviewing, well, movies of course, but now, we are heading to Oscar territory as we review the second movie that I watched during my two-month anti-stress movie marathon, the awe-inspiring, the jaw-dropping cinematic marvel that is Arrival. Since director Denis Villanueve is about to revive a Ridley Scott classic that Scott himself is too busy to direct due to commitments with Alien: Covenant, the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, we might as well review Villianueve's most recent outing! Also, spoiler alert!

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What is the movie about?

English professor Louise Banks, played by Adams (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) wakes up one day to see that there are twelve unidentified flying objects hovering over the sky. Since she has nothing else to do, she goes to work, despite the fact that there is mass hysteria occurring all around her.

While going through her usual routine, Colonel G.T. Weber, played by Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) seeks her assistance, in hopes that she can be able to decipher the mysterious messages the aliens are sending out, given her professional background, and with that she accepts the mission. 

Traveling to Montana, one of the sites where one of the ships are located, she teams-up with fellow scientist Ian Donelly, played by Renner (Captain America: Civil War) in trying to establish communication with the mysterious visitors, who seem to be carrying something of value.

However while the rest of the world is falling apart, due to fear of potential alien attacks, the leaders of other nations are doing things their own way in order to solve the crisis, while Agent David Halpern, played by Stuhlbarg (Doctor Strange) acting as an obstacle, and the world coming close to doomsday.

What we think of the movie?



Acting = (5/5)

You might know her as Lois Lane in the DC Extended Universe, and is about to reprise her role in the forthcoming Justice League movie, but for most of us youngsters, including me, who were born in the 2000s, she is Giselle from Disney's classic, Enchanted. Many years later, after appearing in much more serious roles, Amy Adams has since distinguished herself for her versatile acting range, and with Arrival, Adams added yet another spectacular performance to her resume. Here, Adams delivers depth and emotion to Louise Banks, a grief-stricken mother who lost her daughter after a terminal illness (or did she?). In the movie's more tender moments, specifically the ones featuring Hannah, Louise's daughter, that show the various dimensions of a mother-daughter relationship, from its ups to its downs, Adams truly shines, delivering a magnetically appealing and heartwarming performance that anchors the film with its humanity. I simply cannot believe that she did not even receive a nominee for Best Actress for her work here, which is just a shame because Adams really did a magnificent job, and that includes her performance in the psychedelic psychological drama Nocturnal Animals, which we still have not watched, but we heard was excellent.



The one thing I have noticed so far from Jeremy Renner is that he is usually an underestimated talent. Despite delivering his best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, in the Mission: Impossible franchise as William Brandt, and even in The Bourne Legacy as a leading man in the form of the film's main protagonist, Aaron Cross, he would not always be given enough credit for his many efforts. In Arrival, Renner finds himself playing a certain character type that we have already seen him do before, a snarky and charismatic know-it-all. Aside from adding some slight humor to a serious movie, Renner's on-screen chemistry with Adams, whom he shares an actor connection with as both of them appeared in another Oscar-worthy movie, American Hustle, really helps to liven the entire movie up. Despite bearing a familiarity with his role here, Renner managed to perform on the same level as Arrival's leading lady.



Man, it is very fortunate that Forest Whitaker is getting much better roles in movies like this one and in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and in upcoming flicks such as Black Panther, compared to his previous "below-the-radar" projects. Whitaker is a phenomenal actor, as evidenced by his ability to either deliver a commanding presence or a sentimental side on-screen, and he truly deserves much more recognition and better films, unlike, shall we say, TAK3N? (Boy, that movie was terrible.) In Arrival, despite having a relatively and reasonably small amount of screen time, Whitaker is able to bring the tough, no non-sense Colonel G.T. Weber to life with exceptional strength and grace.



For our last main cast member, we have Michael Stuhlbarg's Agent David Halpern. Wow, Stuhlbarg is everywhere, from Men in Black 3, Steve Jobs, Trumbo, to Doctor Strange, and despite being placed in secondary roles in almost all of his films, he somehow manages to be a fairly noticeable presence in all of them, especially in the third Men in Black movie, wherein he played as Griffin, the alien who has the power to see various future probabilities. Honestly, there is not much to say or is worth noting with regards to his role in Arrival, aside from the fact that it is pretty much exactly the same old, same old "authority figure foil" cliche. Stuhlbarg gives his best though. Also, is it me, or from a certain angle, he looks somewhat like Joaquin Phoenix?



Direction and Quality = (5/5)

From here on, this section will now be called "Direction and Quality", because having "Production Value and Cinematography" as the name for this segment make it seem that we are after for the most expensive pieces of cinema, and only focusing on the way the imagery was taken, despite the fact that we have included a film's music in this category. Fun fact, when I first used the label of "Production Value and Cinematography" on one of our earlier play reviews, I did not really understood the definition of the word "cinematography", until some time ago when I decided to look at the dictionary, and I only decided to change it now because I felt it would make it much more organized, if you know what I am saying. Oh, silly me.

When you hear the words "alien" and "movie" in the exact same sentence, you are bound to expect some of the most mind-blowing special effects your eyes have ever laid upon. Well, we do not get to see a visual spectacle of an intergalactic scale, as I have said before, this movie tackles the whole concept of a first contact between aliens and humans to a cerebral level. However, I can say that, as simple as the designs of the "Heptapods", the name of the featured aliens in the flick, as well as their shell-shaped vessels, the film's visual effects are very well done, and they make for an eye-catching experience. I actually love the square-shaped, voided interior design of the ships, as it really reflects the film's atmosphere of intrigue, suspense and mystery, and the animation done for the Heptapods' inscriptions were splendid and clearly polished.

One of the best scenes, arguably, is the part wherein one of the panicking soldiers, Captain Marks, played by Mark O' Brien (Republic of Doyle), who, after hearing about the Heptapods "offering a weapon", organizes a mutiny and bombs a Heptapod ship while both Banks and Donnelly were aboard it. The tight pacing and execution, which is also featured in the film's climactic scene, which will be talked about more later on by the second to the last segment of this review, makes this as some of the most suspenseful sequences in movies I have ever seen!

But do you want to know what I really love about the movie, aside from the masterpiece of a plot the film featured? It is Jóhann Jóhannson's atmospheric and spine-tingling score that really sets the mood for a piece of cinema that is just as gripping and innovative as this one. Not only does it properly amplify the scientific mood of the flick, it also feels a more-or-less tribute to all melodic marvels in the world of movies.


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (5/5)

As we have said before in the Suicide Squad movie review, we tend to place much more emphasis on the plot, rather than the computer-generated imagery or anything of that like, including the cinematography, although it does factor on our overall evaluation if the way the movie is executed is terrible or passable. And as we have mentioned over and over again, Arrival offers so much more than just the typical alien invasion story. Imagine the story of Arrival as it is, a story about humanity's first contact with the extraterrestrial, and factor out the usual servings of crazed, genocidal beings, and its place, make use of actually peaceful ones, similar to the ones shown in Contact. In addition, wrap it all up with a nice tint of emotional intrigue, and the end result is more than satisfying.


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Needless to say, this section will be riddled with a lot of major spoilers.

The whole idea of a first contact between humans and aliens causing worldwide mass hysteria is already as worn-out as all the other alien movies out there, as once again, we get to have the following cliches. 1.) A scientist protagonist, 2.) the armed forces of the United States of America, and 3.) aliens, obviously. However, the movie places a strong emphasis on Louise Banks' character, completely fleshing-out her character. From her personal background to her distinct charm, Banks is one character to root for.


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Aside from the relatable main character, the film's exploration of the contemporary theme of destiny, complete with allegories to pressing modern day concerns such as racism and the language barrier, surprisingly made Arrival all the more thought-provoking and timely. In this world of ours that is filled with racial discrimination, be it physical or cultural, in the local environment or even at the political arena, those who have suffered for speaking a different tongue, similar to the Heptapods who are only aiming to help, will find this movie powerfully timely.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I do appreciate the film's superfluous attempts at pitch perfect scientific accuracy. Not that it is important to have a grounded take on science in every movie, but the effort done to make a nearly factual storyline, despite being a work of fiction, is extremely commendable.


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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (4/5)

And now we have come to that section in our movie reviews were in we dissect the endings, but before anything else, we have to see if we have encountered any of the usual tropes. After all, this segment would not be called "Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment" if we did not mention any of the movie-breaking cliches. Well, "movie breaking" is a strong phrase, so I guess "movie disturbing", I guess? Sigh.

Aside from the previously mentioned ones, the movie tends to be a little bit predictable, especially in the part wherein the soldiers start their mutiny. Of course it is bound to happen that some humans cannot keep it together in the midst of everything falling into place. There is not much other cliches, actually, although the ending might be predictable from a certain angle, specifically once the deus ex machina of the film, which is the alien's psychic language that Louise Banks was able to decipher, kicks in to high gear.



With that, we finally get to the ending, wherein a sudden case of miscommunication with the Heptapods' usage of the word "weapon" results in all of the nations of the world pursuing the truth in their own ways, with China, lead by General Shang, played by Tzi Ma (Rush Hour) and Russia specifically pointing their guns at the Heptapods. After a clash with some of their own soldiers, the United States government finally decided to pull the plug on their intergalactic diplomacy mission, but Banks is convinced that the Heptapods mean something else, and with some help from Donolly, Banks gets to Abbott and Costello's ship (Donolly named them after the comedic pair, which is hilarious, especially for movie buffs), and now here is where the movie really hits a stride.

Remember when we said that Banks lost a daughter at the start of the movie? Apparently, the movie sucker punches us with the shocking revelation that all of the flashbacks were not even really "flashbacks", but glimpses into the future that are seen thanks to the Heptapods' language, meaning that she is still yet to conceive a child, and the events mentioned are yet to happen. It is a truly monumental plot twist that I, nor Dad, saw coming, and it is one that we will surely remember for many years to come!

But by the time Banks realizes the true power of the language, she makes use of it to convince General Shang to stand down. How? By reciting his dead wife's last words? Okay, okay, I am not saying that this ruined the movie, because it most certainly did not, but it felt as if it was out of the blue.

Once the end of the world was aborted, and the world is at peace once more, Donolly then tells Banks that he loves her, which reveals that he will be the father of Banks' daughter, and, as it was hinted earlier on, will leave them after Banks refused to acknowledge that their own child was going to die before even reaching the stage of adulthood. At the moment, you will stand staring at the screen in awe upon realizing that Banks still accepted the future no matter what, without even doing anything to change it. Never has a movie left me completely breathless, except maybe for a couple of exceptions.

In the end, Arrival is a seriously mind-boggling think-piece that earns its spot in our hearts! It is phenomenal beyond all levels!


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Overall Evaluation = (5/5)

With top-notch performances from its leads, a confident direction at its helm, and an unconventional story for science-fiction aficionados, this film is a huge recommendation, and it really deserves its Best Picture nomination.

TOTAL = 24/25 (Awesome!)

While the third act may feel a tad bit anticlimactic for some viewers, Arrival nevertheless hits the spot by offering intelligent storytelling over costly action sequences, with a stellar cast and impressive camerawork to boot!

Well, our movie reviews are getting shorter and shorter by the post. I guess you could say I learned to keep things balanced. And with that comes the conclusion of our review of Arrival. Hey, did you know? Thanks to this movie, I could not shut-up about the word "palindrome" in our school. They did say that I might as well learn something from each movie, right? Anyway, stay tuned for yet another Oscar-nominated movie, namely about the Second World War. And speaking of war, a different kind of war between heroes and villains is coming to the DC Extended Universe with the upcoming Justice League movie. Check out the latest trailer below, and stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!



The Sinag Maynila 2017 Gabi ng Parangal was held last Sunday, March 12, 2017, at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premier in BGC, Taguig.  The event was hosted by the radio-host duo of Cerah Hernandez and Andre Co. Ballet Manila was on hand and provided an awesome performance by its renowned ballet dancers to open the awarding ceremonies. The movies that participated in the Sinag Maynila 2017 were shown at SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, Glorietta, and Gateway.


Tu Pug Imatuy by Arbi Barbarona is the hit winner taking home six (6) major awards including the Best Picture Award, the Best Actress Award for newcomer Malona Sulatan, Best Director Award, Best Musical Score Award and the Best Cinematography Award.  

Herewith is the complete list of winners:

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Hango
Avelino Mark Balmes, Jr.

BEST SHORT FILM
Aliens Ata
Glenn Karl Barit

SINAG BOX OFFICE AWARD
Bhoy Intsik
Joel Lamangan

SM PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
Beyond the Block
Ricky Carranza

BEST SOUND
Kristo
Albert Michael Idioma

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Tu Pug Imatuy
Arbi Barbarona

BEST EDITING
Kristo
Diego Marx Dobles

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Tu Pug Imatuy
Bryan Jimenez and Arbi Barbarona

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Kristo
Arvin Rosendal

BEST SCREENPLAY 
Tu Pug Imatuy
Arnel Mardoquio

BEST DIRECTOR
Arbi Barbarona
Pug Imatuy

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
Julio Diaz
Kristo



BEST ACTRESS
Malona Sulatan
Tu Pug Imatuy

BEST ACTOR (tie)
Raymond “RS” Francisco
Bhoy Intsik
Kristofer King
Kristo 

BEST PICTURE
Tu Pug Imatuy

Solar Entertainment Corporation CEO Wilson Tieng with Direk Brillante Mendoza

Congratulations to all the winners and looking forward to Sinag Maynila 2018.



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Split (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Violence, Sensitive Themes and Mild Language

Running Time: 117 minutes (1 hour and 57 minutes)

Genre/s: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Released on January 20, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Blinding Edge Pictures, Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures

Writer and Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring:
  • James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
  • Betty Buckley as Doctor Karen Flecther
  • Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
  • Jessica Sula as Marcia


Welcome back fellow readers, and my oh my, it really has been a long time since our last lengthy post. Approximately two months, to be precise. Well, I guess that is what happens when you spend too much time staying up during the late hours of the night working on your projects, and obsessing about the hurtful abstract reality that is, let us just say, "attraction". Too add fuel to the fire, I even caught fever. Yep, to sum it all up, the past two months were stressful. On the bright side, I get to rest and relax while having a movie marathon. Split, the latest thriller from the infamous M. Night Shyamalan, is one of those movies, and mine and Dad's prayers have finally been answered. We will not go in to full detail on our insights pertaining to the movie just yet, but generally, this is a clear sign that the director of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (more on that film later) is back and better than ever. Could this just be another one-hit wonder? Dateline Movies hopes not, and so shouldn't you. Also, from here on out, all movie reviews will have the spoiler alert!


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What is the movie about?

Three classmates, Casey Cooke, played by Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Claire Benoit, played by Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen), and Marcia, played by Sula (Honeytrap) find themselves captured and at the mercy of a mysterious kidnapper diagnosed with a serious case of dissociative identity disorder, who is eventually revealed to be a man named Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse).

Aside from having obviously different behaviors, Kevin's body chemistry shifts as well per identity. Kevin, who possesses no more than twenty-three distinct personalities, including the obsessive-compulsive "Dennis", the manipulative "Patricia", the childlike "Hedwig", and the carefree "Barry", is preparing for the arrival of a terrifying twenty-fourth personality, who is only addressed as "The Beast" by the many identities Kevin has roaming around his mind.

Fearing for their lives, Casey, Claire and Marcia must work together to escape the forthcoming wrath of The Beast.

Meanwhile, Kevin's therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, played by Buckley (Wyatt Earp), is later tangled into the mystery when she learns that something evil, something sinister, is about to be unleashed within Kevin's fractured mind!

What we think of the movie?



Acting = (5/5)

Before going any further, we just want to notify everyone that we have made some minor adjustments in our scoring system. Since a film gaining a score ranging from twenty up to twenty-four, and being called a "Masterpiece" feels like an exaggerated expression, we have decided that only the movies that we review that earn a perfect score of a twenty-five will get the label, and as for those who earned above nineteen but below twenty-five, will simply just earn the title of 'Awesome!". Yeah, it is not the best title we can come-up with, but hey, it is better than nothing.

At the very moment I heard that M. Night Shyamalan is managing a new project with James McAvoy, who will all know as the young Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men prequel films, I was more or less worried, as Shyamalan's recent track record seemingly showed that there was no chance at redemption. In addition, having a talented fellow such as McAvoy partaking in a potential failure could spell doom for his career. However, much of my skepticism was lifted once I saw the trailer, and after seeing the movie, it is safe to say that it was far from a disaster, and with it was the most spectacular work done by James McAvoy in recent memory.

It certainly is no easy task to perform twenty-three (make that only eight, since there are only eight personalities featured in the movie) split personas, and McAvoy manages to pull it all off with flair. I mean, just observe how he portrays each individual personality, and notice how he managed to give each a unique voice, a different projection. Notice how he managed to balance the insidious and feminine side of "Patricia", with the immature nature of "Hedwick", the enigmatic presence of "Dennis", and the dreaded horror of The Beast, in various scenes. The best scene that truly showcased McAvoy's knack for acting is in one of the climactic sequences, wherein "Dennis", "Patricia", Kevin, "Hedwick", and two more personalities, "Orwell" and "Jade", struggle to gain control of Kevin's mind. It really is just remarkable to see how McAvoy acted each individual personality in a short time length.



Of course, that is not to say that James McAvoy is the only good actor in the movie. Newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy, who made her big break in the horror art film The Witch (I watched it one time while my family and I were taking a break, and no offense to those who loved it, but I personally felt that it lacked something...someway, but it is definitely not terrible), and is now set to join McAvoy in the X-Men film series as Magik in the soon-to-come New Mutants flick, shines with promise. I admire how, as an actress who is only starting out, manages to deliver a performance that manages to make audiences root for Cassie Cook, a character whom she breathed life to. When you compare it to the other horror movies out there that feature overacting from actors and actresses of her age, she really does a terrific job in conveying actual emotion, especially in the final sequence of Casey Cooke trying to flee from the rampaging Beast.



For our last main cast member, Betty Buckle, who to most die hard moviegoers might recall, was the weird grandmother in The Happening's notorious "What? No." scene. Yep, that was her sharing the screen with Mark Whalberg. With regards to her performance as the therapist caught in a big web of mystery, it is all around finely tuned. Despite the lack of focus on her character for clear and obvious reasons, Buckle still delivers a great rendition.

As for the remaining two cast members, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula, there is not much given screen time for them to truly standout, and due to that, they fall to the usual "blink-and-dead" category, wherein they are expected to die as they are not the protagonists of the story. Despite that, both Lu Richardson and Sula still did some okay performances.

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Production Value and Cinematography = (4/5)

Honestly, there is not much to say about the production value and cinematography, given that it is a pretty straightforward psychological mind-bender set in a closed underground area, and almost no CGI was used. In terms of the direction, however, there are a few details that I can go around on.

The one thing that I love most from the movie is how it builds tension. The build-up is truly something that you would expect from a superior thriller, and the key scenes that highlight this claim include Kevin's slow transformation into The Beast at the train station, followed by the destructive Kevin making his way back to his hideout, complete with a spectacular score done by West Dylan Thordson that completely amplifies the suspenseful atmosphere of the movie, and Casey's final battle between her and the now completely deranged Kevin.

The lighting is good as well, as it does not feature the usual overly dark corridors that prevent the viewer from  actually getting a clear view of whatever it is happening in a certain scene, and it is well lit enough.

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Story, Flow and Dialogue = (4/5)

Let me just say that the movie is not at all that scary, but it more than makes up for it in thrills and tight direction. Generally speaking, the story is very intriguing as well.

The very concept of a character diagnosed of multiple identity disorder, and is suddenly manifesting supernatural abilities is always a very fun idea to explore in any form of media. I can notice some parallels to the all too familiar story of Legion from the Bible, and also the Legion TV show starring Dan Stevens, who is set to play the Beast (Oh the irony) in the upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast. With the usual trope of a superpowered being with multiple personalities, I also expected a fairly unusual Shyamalan-esque twist that reveals either that Casey Cooke is actually the twenty-fourth personality, and the entire movie is actually taking place inside Kevin's mind, or better and even stranger yet, they are all, in reality, clones of himself. I will admit that I was a tad bit disappointed at the lack of the bizarre revelations that has soon became Shyamalan's trademark, but other than that, the story is plenty of fun, albeit cliched.

The mystery surrounding The Beast, on whether or not Kevin can actually gain superpowers, on whether or not The Beast is even real, is predictable and not entirely shrouded in obscurity, as from a moviegoer's experience, and from you watching the trailers, you can easily determine that Kevin really does manifest some superhuman feats. But I believe the real mystery lies at how far can Kevin go with his powers, and by the climax, you will be left breathless in shock and awe at the unspeakable might of The Beast.


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Casey's backstory is beyond tragic, and yes, it is still predictable in a way, but there is no denying that it echoes the film's theme of "power through pain", in my own words, similar to what was tackled in Unbreakable (more on that film later). In flashbacks, we are told that Casey suffered abused at the hands of his uncle, played by Brad William Henke (Fury) who took her in after her father, played by Sebastian Arcelus (Ted 2) died. The flashback that showed the uncle asking the young Casey to "act like animals" with her is creepy, and it definitely adds some necessary character development for Casey. Not only that, it really does make you wonder if the suffering one goes through actually makes them stronger, in a sense.

With regards to Kevin's complete backstory, it is also predictable, but who will care when the movie is as thrilling as this? I know I would not, even Dad. Like the usual flicks, Kevin came from a tormented childhood, as he was frequently abused by his mother. There is one aspect of Kevin's origin story that I admire, and that is the part wherein Kevin decides to create the various identities to become better versions of himself is rather intriguing. It is melancholic. It is somber. It is very, very relatable. It is something that feels like that is straight out of one of my favorite comicbooks, and Dad and I are avid comicbook enthusiasts.


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However, as we mentioned again and again awhile ago, the film is frequently swarmed by a handful of typical overdone tropes, specifically most of the jump scares. One instance of a scare being incredibly predictable is during that part when Haley Lu Richardson's Claire Benoit tried to escape, only to be captured by "Dennis" while hiding in a locker. Yes, it is all there, including the sudden pause in the background music, the shift in the camera's perspective to Claire's, and the sudden appearance of "Dennis", and it is all very predictable as you would have imagined. But mind you that there are certain cliches that really cannot be avoided, and besides, this is only one instance.

Overall, the story fictionally dabbles the topic of split personalities, with the added twist of superpowers, all the while trying to avoid cliches here and there, and the result is anything but a boring, gray experience.

There is actually more to say about the ending of the movie, but I decided to reserve that for our next segment. Trust us, you will not believe what you are about to see by that part.


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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (4/5)

But before the supposed amazing, best moments of the film are shown, we need to see what happens next for Casey, and in a typical thriller fashion, it does not go smoothly.

Worried that the actions of both "Dennis" and "Patricia" could do more harm than good, "Barry" decides to send a barrage of emails to Dr. Fletcher, who just made contact with "Dennis", who in turn reaches out to Dr. Fletcher with regards to his struggles with the coming of The Beast, during a therapy session of "Barry's". She makes her way to Kevin's hideout, wherein after engaging in a small conversation with "Dennis", again about The Beast, she discovers Claire in a locked closet, and with a canister of knock-out gas in-hand, "Dennis" knocks her unconscious, and imprisoned with the rest of the three girls.

"Dennis", for some reason, leaves for awhile in a cinematic and chilling sequence featuring him purchasing flowers, and transforming finally into The Beast as the mindless Kevin rampages back to his hideout. Okay, this is admittedly one of the most thrilling scenes in the movie, but we need to ask ourselves, "why on Earth is there a need for Kevin to walk outside for awhile then transform?"

As Dr. Fletcher regains consciousness, she is greeted by the sight of a now fully morphed Kevin, who has embraced The Beast persona, and after trying, and failing, to kill Kevin, Dr. Fletcher is crushed to death by The Beast's immense strength, then proceeds to devour the bodies of Casey's peers.

With a convenient note from Dr. Fletcher, written before she died, Casey says out loud "Kevin Wendell Crumb", which brings back Kevin, who has no past recollection of recent events. After advising Casey to kill him with a shotgun, "Orwell", then "Jade", then "Barry", then "Hedwick", then finally "Patricia" allowed The Beast change the world by sparing those who have truly suffered, both physically and emotionally, deeming them as "impure". That scene was a blast in so many ways, mainly because McAvoy was able to switch characters in mere seconds. That is a tough act to pull. Wait, are they telling me that all I have to do is say his real name loudly, then he will be temporarily be incapacitated? You know what? Maybe I am taking this movie way too seriously. I will shut-up about that part, right now.

As Casey tries to make her escape, The Beast prepares to slaughter her, only for The Beast to notice her wounds, and declaring that her "heart is pure", sparing her in the process. Kevin, now fully controlled by The Beast, accompanied by "Dennis", "Patricia" and "Hedwick", are ready to do more evil things, hopefully for a sequel that is just as awesome as this one!

But what happened with Casey? Well, she is found by some security detail, which reveals that the hideout is actually the basement of a zoo. She is then escorted by the police back to her home, but before that, she glares silently, signalling that she finally has found the courage to report his uncle's misdemeanors.

All in all, this was an okay ending, albeit, like I said, familiar in certain parts, especially the part wherein Casey was spared. While it could be expected that the protagonist will meet her maker, only a few movies actually did that. Then again, not all movies have to be tragic in endings.


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But wait, there is more. Now, this is interesting. A post-credits scene, featuring Bruce Willis reprising his role as David Dunn from Unbreakable? Hold on a second, if Split is basically a follow-up to Unbreakable, then that means.... an M. Night Shyamalan cinematic universe is confirmed! Okay, okay, we might be getting tired of all of the shared movie universes out there, in addition to the fact that having two rivaling franchises is enough to keep a human being completely drained of money, but think of the possibilities that the series can go! Would we be seeing a superhero team-up? Could there be more superhumans just like them? Man, I really cannot wait for what is to come! Oh well only time will tell.



Overall Evaluation = (4/5)

While it still succumbs to merely a handful of thriller cliches, this movie is a clear sign that M. Night Shyamalan's creative persona is back, and ready to shock viewers, thanks in part to a standout performance from its lead.

TOTAL = 21/25 (Awesome!) 

Split features not only a stellar and spine-chilling performance from the one and only James McAvoy, but it also contains an interesting story, making this an above average thriller that will keep viewers at the edge of their seats!

What has M. Night Shyamalan in store for his upcoming film series remains a mystery, but we can all hope in anticipation that it will be nonetheless promising. And that concludes our latest movie review. Also, for the succeeding days, we will be posting more movie reviews, because I am currently in the mood to make them, given that I have watched a lot of great films already, with most of them being dramas and romantic films. Remember, "affection" was a key element in my two month adventure, and aside from that was the school work, and a little game known as Fallout: New Vegas. Also, did anyone watch the Best Picture mix-up during the Oscars? If you haven't, watch the Steve Harvey-ish moment below. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!