Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Lion King (2019)

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Mufasa (James Earl Jones) shows his young cub the extent of their kingdom and how they are all connected in the circle of life. The king’s brother, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is not as thrilled now that he is no longer next in line to the throne. In an effort to usurp power and be the new king, he comes up with a plan to get rid of father and son. Teaming up with the hyenas, he leads his nephew to a gorge where a stampede of wildebeest endangers the life of the heir. Mufasa ends up giving his life for his son, while Simba (Donald Glover) is tricked into running away and giving up his place as the ruler of the Pride Lands. Far away from Pride Rock he finds a family in warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner). However, his life of no worries will have to come to an end as his childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé) finds him and urges him to take his rightful place as king.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Five years have passed since Thanos’ snap, which millennials have coined as the Blip. Everyone who got “blipped” and came back post-Endgame now faces the oddity of being five years younger than their contemporaries. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) finds it hard to adjust to life without Tony Stark and believes that their coming school trip to Europe can be a perfect opportunity to unwind, except that he is ambushed by otherworldly Elementals attacking Venice, London, and Prague. Lucky for him, Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who claims to be from an alternate universe comes to help. Powered by an AI named Edith that Iron Man has left in his care, Spider-Man is forced to step up in a world with a shortage of Avengers to prove that he is indeed worthy of membership to the group, all while saving his friends as well as the planet itself.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

VIRGIN LABFEST 15: Set A

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ISANG GABING ANG BUWAN AY HILA-HILA NG GULA-GULANIT NA ULAP – Childhood friends Egberto (Ybes Bagadiong) and Elisimo (Heber O’Hara) rendezvous in their baranggay where they spend two nights digging a hole to look for treasure. According to a dream that features a ball of fire, the town is a hotbed for hidden gold. As the two reminisce on their childhood and contemplate on their lost friendship, they start to think that they are just using one another in a ploy for eventual betrayal.

Unfortunately, I did not understand what message this play was trying to convey. In a metaphorical level it could be a narrative about greed but it simply drowns in all its cryptic nature. The dialogues are all about mundane small talk and delve into pseudo-philosophical territory once in a while. You will be waiting for a punchline or a revelation but neither will come. On the contrary, congrats to both Bagadiong and O’Hara for keeping their energy levels high from start to finish, without which the material could’ve been intolerable.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

VIRGIN LABFEST 15: Set C

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THE BRIDE AND THE BACHELOR – A Bachelor (Alex Medina) relaxes in his apartment playing video games and living the carefree life when he is suddenly ambushed by a Bride (Via Antonio). He is her ex, and today is her wedding day, yet here she is in her wedding gown trading opinions with him regarding marriage and thoughts about relationships in general. As they discuss what had been the pros and cons of the failed 10 years they spent together, they agree to disagree and decide to move on with their lives.

This one doesn’t quite connect. It’s one of those narratives full of talk and dialogue. However, the lines are rather repetitive and the plot suffers from awkwardness and dead air. The smoke machine and occasional red lighting onstage coupled with chanting in the background suggest something supernatural but there really is no twist of that sort to speak of. If anything, it seems to be a simple issue of style. The material is also devoid or either intensity or climax, which makes it feel like just a filler of sorts.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

VIRGIN LABFEST 15: Set B

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THE UNREACHABLE STAR – 18-year-old Ali (Lorie Figuerroa) comes home to a mini celebration for her birthday. Tatay (Raffy Tejada) has political plans for her to complement her being an Iska while Nanay (Tex Ordonez) believes that devotion to the Virgin Mary is the answer to their problems. With Kuya (Reynald Santos) working odd jobs so they can all survive, what’s supposed to be a happy reunion turns sour as they begin to reveal inconvenient truths about themselves and their dysfunctional family.

Any attempt at bringing awareness when it comes to mental health is appreciated and should be applauded. Given that this is just a one-act play, should it be picked up to be a full feature, then there is definitely some room for improvement and to further expound on the topic. The potential is there and can still be honed. As it is, you just feel that something is lacking and the acting styles tend to diverge a bit, which prevents the narrative from achieving a uniform tone overall, a bit generic to be honest.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

VIRGIN LABFEST 15: Set D

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LARONG DEMONYO – Retired General Videla (Leo Rialp) invites a New York educated writer to his secluded island home to write a biography that will help his presidential campaign for the coming national elections. Playing coy, Efren (Johnny Maglinao) claims there must have been a mistake because he did not apply for such a position. Soon enough it is revealed that he is not there by accident, but has come for vengeance in the name of his grandfather who was tortured during Martial Law. As they try to outwit one another, they decide to settle the score with a fatal game of chess.

Political thriller, I like. This is the best one so far and proves that a theater piece full of talk can be interesting if presented in a riveting manner. Unlike older entries that feel one sided as far as political ideologies are concerned, Larong Demonyo offers a dialogue between two characters with beliefs on opposite ends of the spectrum. There is enough intensity to keep you hooked and the rapport between the two actors is so good, not to mention you can just cut that tension with a knife.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Atlantis Theatrical)

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Considered as one of the greatest songwriters of her generation, Carole King (Kayla Rivera) starts off as a neophyte in the music industry before getting her big break as a composer. Along the way she meets Gerry Goffin (Nick Varricchio), the campus heartthrob who eventually becomes her husband. After an unplanned pregnancy, the two get married young and become a formidable songwriting duo placing hits on top of the Billboard Charts one right after another. The couple also foster a friendly competition with rivals Cynthia Weil (Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante) and Barry Mann (George Schulze) who work for the same music publisher. As they navigate the upper echelons of the industry en route to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the music scene starts to change; their relationships begin to fizzle. Can one really juggle a successful career and family life in an ever-changing musical landscape?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dark Phoenix

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Becoming celebrities in their own right, the X-Men have become the go-to defenders of choice by the US government, much to the delight of Professor X (James McAvoy) who has always envisioned a world where mutants are accepted with open arms instead of reviled. When a group of astronauts are trapped in a life-threatening space station fiasco, a team spearheaded by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) flies to space to save them. There, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is engulfed by a mysterious entity known as the Phoenix Force. Evading death, she returns to Earth as a different person: more daring, more powerful, and seemingly hungry for destruction. As her newly amplified powers unleash a force that threatens her loved ones, she turns to Magneto (Michael Fassbender) for guidance, but is turned away due to her suddenly sinister behavior. Enter Vuk (Jessica Chastain), a mysterious alien who poses as a friend but really desires the power of the Phoenix Force for herself.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Brightburn

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A childless couple’s prayer is answered when something extra-terrestrial crashes into the woods near their home one night. There, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) finds a baby boy which she and husband Kyle (David Denman) name Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). The child enjoys the love and support of his adoptive parents growing up in their humble home in Brightburn, Kansas. However, he is always bullied at school because of his interests and petite frame. Unaware of his origins and abilities, he gets annoyed one day with a lawn mower that won’t start and accidentally tosses it a hundred feet or so away from where he stands. When the motor finally revs up, he intentionally inserts his hand between the spinning blades and discovers that he is immune to pain and physical damage. Hit by puberty and a menacing voice on his head luring him into the barn where his spaceship lies hidden, he realizes that he is on this planet for a reason: to conquer it and be treated as a god.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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Crypto-zoological organization Monarch intensifies its search for Monster Zero, an ancient three-headed Titan more popularly known by the name King Ghidorah. Led by their leader Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), they intercept renegade paleo-biologist Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) in China, where the two successfully test a Titan awakening device called Orca on Mothra, yet another ancient Titan in the form of a gigantic larva. The organization thaws the three-headed monster in Antarctica which leads to the emancipation of other Titans all over the planet including dragon Rodan in Mexico. Their goal is to rid Earth of its greatest threat: Mankind. Threatened by the emergence of a new alpha, Godzilla resurfaces and faces off with his new rival for dominance, with Mothra now a giant moth by his side. King Ghidorah, on the other hand, teams up with Rodan. Caught in the battle of ultra-sized beasts out to dominate a planet that was once theirs, Emma’s ex-husband Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) must act quick to save not just his family, but also the whole world from the impending peril.

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