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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Best of Me: Movie Review

By: Lakwatsera Lovers

The Best of Me marks the ninth film of Nicholas Sparks adaptation, which stars James Marsden (X-Men), Michelle Monaghan (Source Code), Liana Liberato (If I Stay) and Luke Bracey (The November Man). The film already took a beating from the critics but as far as I'm concerned it was not bad at all to deserve an 8% rating. 

Dawson and Amanda (James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan) are former high-school sweethearts. The two met again after 20 years when their old friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney) passed away. They both know that they still have feelings for each other despite the long years that have passed. Will Dawson find the time for a second chance with Amanda?

Same with other Nicholas Sparks film, The Best of Me relies on romantic drama theme centralizing with its story and sentimental lines that will easily capture a girl's heart. It manages to deliver a steady pace shifting from the past and present stories without getting complicated or boring. However, the film is hampered with cliches and a bit predictable at times. 

As for the cast, it wasn't the perfect choice, but they manage to pull it through. James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan were okay but a bit short with their chemistry issues. Luke Bracey is miscasted as the younger version of James Marsden, but it was Liana Liberato, who stole the show. Finally, she got the spotlight she deserves, and we hope to see her in more movies like this.

Overall, The Best of Me is romantic yet tragic but isn't quite memorable enough compared to Sparks previous works. For me, it's still "A Walk to Remember" as the superior among the nine films, and we will have to wait for two more adaptation lined up next year. 

Lakwatsera Lovers rates it 7 out of 10 stars 

Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey

Directed by: Michael Hoffman
Distributed by: Multivision Pictures Philippines
Opens October 22, 2014 
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This Week's #1 at The Box-Office "FURY" Pits 5 Men Against 300

Landing at number 1 at the box-office, "Fury"  led the U.S. box-office(this weekend, October 17) with $23.5 million bow.  The latest World War II action drama with  a star power cast including Brad Pitt,  Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jason Isaacs and Michael Pena is now the biggest hit of director David Ayer's career, acclaimed for his works in "End of Watch" and "Street Kings."

"Fury" brings back one of the forgotten time periods which is the last gasp of the Nazi empire, with an American army that has been fighting for years and is on its last reserves of manpower.  Brad Pitt is the leader of a 5-man crew named Don "Wardaddy" Collier.  

Over the course of these 24 fateful hours, that training will be tested as the five men of the Fury – Wardaddy, the commander; Boyd Swan, the gunner; Grady Travis, the loader; Trini Garcia, the driver; and Norman, the assistant driver – take on 300 enemy German troops in a desperate battle for survival. 

"The men are exhausted.  In World War II, you fought until you either won or died, or were grievously injured and got sent home.  The fanatical regime is collapsing, it’s a confusing environment where anyone can be the enemy – it’s incredibly taxing on the fighting man’s soul,” director Ayer explains.

Leading the men of the Fury is Don Collier – better known by his war name, Wardaddy.  The role is played by Brad Pitt.  “Wardaddy is representative of the backbone of the army – sergeants and NCOs really hold the army together,” Ayer says.  “He’s very no-nonsense, very practical and pragmatic – all he cares about is getting the mission done.”

But Ayer says that Wardaddy is also a man with a hidden past.  “He’s atoning for his history, through this incredible act of penance of fighting in this war and liberating Europe.

He has his own moral code, but it’s not your civilian moral code; it’s very reflective of the time.  He’s very stoic, but with life and humor and love for his men and a true hatred for the enemy.”

  "Fury" opens October 22 in cinemas nationwide.

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“THE HOBBIT” Final Chapter Reveals Character Posters

The character poster artworks for Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” have been unveiled online. The one-sheets individually feature in close-up shots the film's eight major characters namely Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Galadriel, Legolas, Tauriel, Bard and Thandruil.

The third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

The Hobbit” Trilogy tells a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson and his team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, with Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and Orlando Bloom.

Opening across the Philippines on Dec. 12, 2014 in theaters and IMAX®, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
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“OUIJA” Benefits From Imprint of Horror Experts

Platinum Dunes (“Transformers,” “The Purge” series, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”) joins forces with Blumhouse Productions (“Paranormal Activity”) and Hasbro to bring to the screen “Ouija,” a supernatural thriller in which a group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they unwittingly make contact with a dark power from the other side.

Several years ago, Hasbro and blockbuster producers Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller of Platinum Dunes approached Universal Pictures to discuss making “Ouija” as a microbudget film that explored the supernatural elements of the iconic board. Fellow powerhouse producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions was brought on to complete the team—which includes Hasbro’s producer Bennett Schneir, who has a multipicture production deal with the company—and “Ouija” was a go.

Schneir reflects that the Ouija board’s combination of wish fulfillment, desire for closure and fear of the unknown allows for an ideal vehicle for this type of movie: “You want to connect with the other side; you have questions. In the many, many stories of the Ouija board, there are always the rules that must be abided: Never use it in a graveyard, never use it alone, always say goodbye. If you follow the rules, good things will happen; if you break them, you better be careful.”

After penning the films “Knowing” and “The Possession,” husband-and-wife team Stiles White and Juliet Snowden were eager to continue writing character-driven thrillers. When they were approached to craft the screenplay for “Ouija,” with the offer for White to make his directorial debut, it was just the project for which they were searching.

Snowden recalls the thriller’s inception: “When we got the call, we were given the opportunity for Stiles to direct for the first time and for us to write. All they said was, ‘Ouija. What would you do?’ Our first instinct was to consider our memories of the Ouija board: playing as teenagers, sitting around with our friends and wanting an answer to something…anything.”

White elaborates on the duo’s writing style: “We gravitate toward the psychological elements of horror. Juliet and I have always been drawn to stories that are about relationships or family dynamics being tested by a supernatural force. Whatever the setting is, we try to create a compelling situation centered around people up against something larger than life. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with `Ouija.’”

The Ouija board was imagined out of humanity’s intrinsic desire for answers to the seemingly inexplicable. So, when White and Snowden began writing, they knew they needed to first sort out their protagonist’s intense need. The more that the duo looked into the reactions following the loss of someone, and how traumatic death is for many of us, the more they found their story’s motivating force. With that driving the narrative, one young woman’s obsession with finding out what happened to her best friend was the clear through-line.

There is a long held belief that if you don’t follow the procedures of game play with the Ouija board, it’s possible for you to open a door to the spirit realm. As well, unless you do certain things to close that door, that phenomenon might follow you beyond playing at the table.

This was a jumping-off point for the creators of our story. White gives: “We thought, ‘If you didn’t play properly, could weird things continue to happen to you after you’ve played?’ That’s what we loved about what was possible with this story: All kinds of things could happen if you played it wrong.”

We first meet our heroine, Laine, as she comes over to check in on her close friend Debbie, who, unbeknownst to her friends, has broken a cardinal rule of the Ouija board: playing alone. When Debbie dies in a very gruesome way, she leaves behind footage and diaries with clues as to what went on immediately before she died. Still, Laine simply cannot accept her death. When she starts to look deeper, she realizes all clues lead to the antique Ouija board that resides in her friend’s home.

To ground the story in reality, White and Snowden were careful to write characters who had varying degrees of trust in the board. Fuller shares: “Stiles and Juliet made sure to focus on the journey itself, which is either the people who had a big belief in it being right, or the people who had no belief in it being surprised at what they unleashed. This conflict among the group is something they wrote remarkably well and is the glue that holds the film together.”
Opening across the Philippines on October 29, “Ouija is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

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Ridley Scott's “EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS” Takes Cinematic Experience to a New Level

Ridley Scott revisits Exodus, one of the most pivotal and dramatic books in the Bible and reimagines the story of Moses in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” – filmed in 3D starring Christian Bale. 

Bale as Moses frees the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptian rulers and faces the formidable Pharaoh Ramses played by Joel Edgerton for his actions. As a man, Moses has a vision and turns his back on his privileged life and leads his people, the Israelites, from enslavement. Scott’s film will feature ground-breaking special effects, including the plagues visited upon Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea.

The movie features one of Moses’ extraordinary feat when he led the Israelites out of Egypt where the Red Sea parted to give way to the passage of the people.  Just how director Scott and his team made the  parting of the ocean itself – with the aid of some spectacular CGI effects – will be one of the many visual treats in store for the audience when the film is released this December 5 (in the Phils.).

Scott is indeed at the helm of a huge production in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” where they called for more than 1,000 crew working on sets on three soundstages and the back-lot at Pinewood Studios on the outskirts of London.  Moving to Southern Spain in  Almeria after filming in the UK, the production team spotted a perfect spot for filming the latter part of the movie – a vast area of one kilometre long and 1.5 kilometres wide was used to build a stunning set for an ancient Egyptian city, Pi-Ramses, complete with houses, shops, cafes and a spice market where the rugged landscape and vast swathes of deserted sandy beaches lies.
The script remains true to the Biblical story of Moses whilst using very latest tools available to a modern filmmaker to realise some of the more fantastical elements - abandoned by a desperate mother as a baby after the Egyptian rulers orders the murder of all boys born to slaves, he is found in the bulrushes by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the royal household, where he grows up alongside Ramses, the future monarch. Ridley shared that  “I was staggered to discover what kind of man Moses was and where he’d come from. I had no idea he was the counter-point to Ramses. I didn’t know how close their relationship was and that they were raised like half-brothers, half-cousins if you like.”

This story just lit a match for me,” says the director. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is an incredible, big story, which is actually the threshold, of the beginning of the rule book of civilisation. If you regard the Ten Commandments as such then it comes out of that.”

Check out the film’s featured video with the filmmakers on set of the movie below: 

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“ANNABELLE” Earns More Than $150 Million Worldwide

BURBANK, CA – October 19, 2014 – New Line Cinema’s “Annabelle” has surpassed the $150 million mark at the worldwide box office, earning more than $166.1 million to date and counting. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President, Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President, International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

(In the Philippines, “Annabelle” also continued to make a killing at the box-office, grossing P139.54-million nationwide, as of Oct. 19, 2014. That further tightened its grip to the national record of all-time highest-grossing foreign horror film).

Director John R. Leonetti’s supernatural thriller, produced by Peter Safran and James Wan, enjoyed the largest opening weekend this year at the domestic box office for a horror film, at $37.1 million. The demonic doll, who first debuted in last summer’s global hit “The Conjuring,” has currently scared up more than $74.1 million at the domestic box office.

Internationally, “Annabelle” has taken in just over $92 million in 51 markets, including the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Australia and much of Asia, with a number of markets yet to open, including Mexico. The film set new opening records for the horror genre in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Chile and Colombia.

In making the announcement, Fellman said, “Who doesn’t love a creepy doll? Annabelle is back and audiences have certainly missed her, judging by their enthusiastic welcome in theaters across the country. We’re happy to have unleashed the spirit of Halloween a little early this year, and congratulate New Line and the filmmakers on reaching this impressive benchmark.”

Kwan Vandenberg stated, “There’s an appetite for scary movies the world over and ‘Annabelle’ has really struck a chord. With several markets still to open, the film is on a strong trajectory that should continue to gain momentum as new audiences everywhere experience the thrills and chills it provides.”

Still showing across the Philippines, “Annabelle” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Trial : Movie Review

By: Lakwatsera Lovers

When the trailer of "The Trial" was released, we've read a lot of comments where the film is being compared to Korean hit Miracle Cell No. 7. Well, actually it's not the same thing and Chito Roño's latest offering simply touches the hearts of its viewers.

Ronald (John Llyod Cruz) is a 27-year-old mentally challenge graduating elementary student who is also having a part-time job in his school as a gardener. He is accused of raping his teacher Bessy, (Jessy Mendiola) with a video surfacing as a proof of evidence. Soon, a rape case is filed to put Ronald into prison, and he immediately needs to find someone to help him on court with his trial.

It's pretty obvious that most of our tagalog films rely with romantic comedy films starring popular love teams. Finally, we've got something on mainstream that takes on a spin to break the thread of some recent releases. The theme of the film is delicate to handle due to the topic (rape & mentally challenge person) used in it. However, the delivery is basically straightforward and assessed well, enough to produce a good quality of the story. The only problem is, it tries hard to insert too much story in the process making the film a bit long because of some flashbacks and other stuffs that are needed to be justified. 

What made the film even more powerful is because of stellar cast. John Llyod Cruz provided a career-best performance selling the hardship of his character. He shows his versatility and easily captivates the hearts of his viewers. We never knew that we would love Gretchen Barretto. At first, we thought that she was not the perfect fit for the role as we consistently see her playing as the villain in films and soap operas. She might be out of her comfort zone, but she managed to provide impressive emotions of a grieving mother. Sylvia Sanchez and Vince De Jesus also did a great job as Ronald's parents, as they bring quality minutes producing humor and drama when they need to. 

Overall, The Trial is a very interesting film with an outstanding cast giving solid performances to make the movie memorable. It is compelling, heart-wrenching and occasionally funny. Well, if your asking if John Lloyd did it? You'll need to watch and find the answer for yourself, so we won't spoil anything. Another advice, bring some tissues along, as the film is a definite tearjerker. 

Lakwatsera Lovers rates it 9.5 out of 10 stars

Cast: John Llyod Cruz, Jessy Mendiola, Richard Gomez

Directed by: Chito S. Roño
Distributed by: Star Cinema 
Now Showing in cinemas nationwide

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Keanu Reeves' Double as Neo in "MATRIX" is Now the Actor's Director in "JOHN WICK"

The much anticipated return of Keanu Reeves in full-tilt action is about to end in his upcoming movie "John Wick" where he plays an ex-hitman forced to come out of retirement and brings bloody vengeance to the Russian mobsters who took everything from him.     

Making their directorial debut in "John Wick" are Chad Stahelski and David Leitch whom Reeves have long collaborated with since in "The Matrix" films who have served as the movies' stunt coordinators and are now Hollywood's most in-demand when it comes to training actors in action films. Most recently, the duo's works include phenomenal hits such as "300," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "The Bourne Legacy" and "The Hunger Games."

Starring alongside an all-star cast with Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyvist, Adrianne Palicki, Alfie Allen, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane and John Leguizamo, Reeves ups the action ante in "John Wick" as he pulls off the latest grueling and highly complex action scenes.

In recent interviews, Reeves enthused on reuniting with Chad and David,  "Working with Chad and Dave, there was an ambition to do something at a high level. They've wanted to direct a film for a long time, and they wanted to raise the bar, have a style, have a vision."

Retracing their passion for martial arts where Chad and David met while studying the moves, they soon find themselves as stuntmen for movies and has since progressed as stunt coordinators/directors.

In "John Wick," they have a chance to showcase the high-concept stunt have they been working on for years which they call the "gun fu," a hybrid stunt that includes flying fists and firearms.  With Reeves, this "gun fu" mix of martial arts and guns is something they believe the actor can believably pull off.  "We've had the pleasure to work with a lot of actors, but Keanu is as hard-core as they come," Leitch said. "He's as hard-boiled as John Wick. We asked more of him than we'd ever asked of any actor, and he never let us down."

"John Wick" opens October 29 in cinemas from Pioneer Films. 

Check out the trailer below: 

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Dreamworks' “PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR” (3D): Reveals First Four Minutes

Dreamworks Animation’s “PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR” (3D) star in their own feature film, a spin-off to the studio’s enormously successful “Madagascar” series which have earned close to two billions dollars since their debut in 2005 - and further explores the back story of the  popular Polar foursome penguins, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private (respectively voiced by Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio and Christopher Knights)

In the movie that will finally blow the spy quartet’s cover, the penguins will face-off with an eccentric genius and brilliant creature from their past known as Dr. Octavius Brine or Dave (voiced by John Malkovich).  Step back in time...only to move fast forward and discover how they came to be the world’s fearless agents in the world of espionage.  They soon join forces with an elite spy group known as the North Wind led by a panache of a wolf known as Agent Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) to stop Dave from his evil plans.  

Directed by Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell, “Penguins of Madagascar” (3D) will finally reveal the untold story of the world’s most hilarious covert birds on November 26 nationwide in cinemas (Phils.) from Dreamworks Animation and 20thCentury Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros. 

Check out the First Four Minutes “Penguins of Madagascar” below:
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Young Cast of  “AS ABOVE/SO BELOW” Endures Tough Shoot

The core cast in Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures' horror thriller “As Above/So Below” consists of six characters who become trapped by their most intimate fears inside the Catacombs, an astonishing 220 feet belowground in Paris. Leading the young cast is Welsh actress Perdita Weeks, best known for the acclaimed TV series “The Tudors” starring opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill.

For director John Erick Dowdle, it was important to find just the right actors to create the story they were looking to tell...and getting the performers to trust them with an unorthodox process.

Whether it was asking them to strap on headlamps and serve as a scene's primary light source or forgo the tradition of hitting marks on the ground-and work with experimental techniques and reaction-only shots-the entire team was game.

"This movie was intended to be a personalized experience for each character," the writer/producer continues. "In doing so, we want audiences to have that experience as well. We don't feel the need to go into great detail about each character's personal demons and all of the backstory. Sometimes it's just one image, and from that image you can extrapolate what's weighing on their soul."

The filmmakers began with casting the role of Scarlett, a British scholar of archaeology and rebellious thrill-seeker who is driven by the death of her father. She cannot stop searching until she proves that he wasn't crazy. Screenwriter and Producer Drew Dowdle walks us through Scarlett's connection to this world: "We had the alchemical background of Scarlett's, with her father being a world-renowned alchemist. As well, the real-life father of alchemy was Nicolas Flamel, who was buried in one of the first cemeteries in Paris that had been relocated into the Catacombs."

In keeping with their style of creating characters who are inherently warm and compassionate, but still quite flawed, the Dowdles searched for a young woman who was believable as an adventure-seeking archaeologist on a mission, but also a young woman who brought humanity to a character hardened by her deep family loss.

John Erick Dowdle shares: "For the role of Scarlett, we wanted somebody who is not only someone you'd love to take a road trip with but someone who you believe could be smart to the point of genius...and also funny. Perdita Weeks is someone we really felt had the depth to carry this character."

Perdita Weeks knew that portraying Scarlett would not be easy. She gives: "Scarlett is a great character to play, as she goes through a significant arc in the film-both in her relation to the other characters and in her unintentional journey of self-discovery. Her driving force is vindication of her father's belief in and study of alchemy and the Stone. She is brutally strong-willed, self-serving-and even manipulative-but ultimately likeable, and throughout the action we see her unravel, which is always interesting to play."

Weeks knew that much would be expected of her during the shoot. Not only would she be required to spend hours in makeup, she'd be slogging through wet mud for a good chunk of the production. She offers: "This was the most physically challenging role I have ever played: from sprinting with heavy cameras and battery packs on my head, to abseiling and crawling through bone tunnels on hands and bruised knees, all the while head to toe in 'blood' and was exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure.”

Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.

A journey into madness and terror, Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures' new horror-thriller “As Above/So Below” reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all.

  As Above/So Below” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Oct. 22, 2014.
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