movie review

A captive of Captive

Gritty, in-your-face, a mirror of Philippine society. These are some of the words I associate with Brilliante Mendoza’s films. This director doesn’t mollycoddle the viewers that’s for sure. He paints reality as how he sees it – no more, no less – and hopes that by showing the ugly reality, his films would somehow serve as a vehicle for change.

Captive is no different from his other films. The 2 and a half hour film is based on the Dos Palmas kidnapping of missionaries and Filipinos by the Abu Sayyaf group more than a decade ago. Most of the events in the film really happened, about 25% were added for dramatic purposes and to help the story move but they’re mostly fictional characters and scenes. One of the fictional characters is Therese Bourgoine, played by French actress Isabelle Huppert, whose perspective it is we watch. Bourgoine is a missionary who was abducted together with her motherly companion Anita Linda, two other foreign missionaries, and tourists of Dos Palmas Resort. The story progresses with ransoms paid, captives freed, captives killed, and even a Stockholm syndrome which was surprising but actually happened between a tourist and one of the Abu Sayyaf bandits back in 2001. Brilliante Mendoza used many of his staple actors like Ronnie Lazaro, Coco Martin, Sid Lucero, etc. The acting wasn’t stellar for some however because they were overshadowed by Huppert and the more commanding Raymond Bagatsing and Ronnie Lazaro.

The film made me squirm the whole time as Brilliante captured the harsh realities of kidnap-for-ransom, religious fanaticism, terrorism, and the government’s indifference neigh shady cooperation with the kidnappers for a share of the ransom money because these facts are hard to swallow, but in the back of the Filipinos’ collective mind, they all ring true.

What amazed me about Captive is Brilliante’s research on what really transpired that ghastly 18 months and how he was able to show as much details in the 25 days he shot the film. That’s saying a lot about how talented and organized he is. My film experiences scream that such a film is impossible to shoot in 25 days but Briliante was able to do so. Not only that, he made everything seem believable. I thought the film was shot in Basilan but he admitted to us that the locations were in Batangas and Quezon.

Captive will premiere at SM Pampanga, Brilliante Mendoza’s hometown, on September 2, 2012. There will also be a Manila gala premiere in Greenbelt 3 the next day. Regular screening at SM Cinemas and Greenbelt will begin on September 5, 2012.

Green Lantern is good clean family fun movie

Do you have the ability to overcome fear?  This is the premise of Green Lantern.  The movie is a space opera.  Green Lanterns are space cops.  It is ridiculous enough to say it, they get their power from a power ring and “green lantern” battery.  There have been many reviews of Green Lantern.  Mixed review of a movie, and many of the geeks who have seen it aren’t pleased.  To expect this movie to surpass “The Dark Knight” in storytelling will only disappoint you.  To expect his movie to live up to the genius of Geoff Johns, would also disappoint you.  The movie is better than Thor, but it does not reach for greatness.

There are many things “wrong” with the movie in the “technical” sense.  It just isn’t clever writing that has thrilled readers for years.  Yet the story captures the essence of who these characters are in the book.  The CGI was something we could expect from movies these days.  The score also captured the essence of the movie and of the characters.

Ryan Reynolds who plays the protagonist, Hal Jordan is more than suited for the role.  He brought the right level of comedy and angst, and arrogance.  The script was decent enough to show the essence of character.  A Green Lantern isn’t without fear, he just has the ability to overcome it.

The lead actress, Carol Ferris as played by Blake Lively was also written well, and written to perfection.  There was just enough moments to show her heartbreak, and her love for Hal.  Other critics have said that Lively wasn’t perfect for the role. I beg to disagree. She was vulnerable, smart, savvy, and feminine.  She also was able to rescue Jordan in an important scene.

The script also got the Lanterns right.  There was Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar Re.  The awesomeness of getting them on screen was that spectacular.

Many geeks have argued that Green Lantern was too much talky.  This is a weakness of the script. And I have to agree with the Multiverse, it was as if the writers didn’t think the audience could get it that this was a man with a magic ring that the script kept spoon feeding the audeince.  In many ways it was a history lesson.   And maybe that was the problem for Comic Book readers.  We expected to be wow’d in the same level we are wow’d by Geoff Johns’ words in the series.

There were instances that were gems.  The script touched on dad and children relationships. Like Jordan’s and Hector’s.  It barely touched on Carol’s relationship with his own father, which is also a shame.  Another gem of course is Lively’s performance of the heartbroken Ferris.  It was also great that Lively’s character, Ferris was able to see through the Green Lantern mask.  Carol Ferris is no Lois Lane.  Also the inclusion of Amanda Waller was a good one, which I hope is a start that she would appear in other DC live action movies.

As I mentioned, if you were expecting the level of storytelling sophistication to rival “The Dark Knight”, for Green Lantern, then you will be disappointed.   For the most part, the plot is dull, and slow.  It is hard to relate to a big gigantic cloud for a foe.  The story though isn’t terrible like Jonah Hex or the Priest, but it isn’t awesomeness either.  Yes, even the gorgeous Blake Lively, or the many easter eggs sprinkled throughout the movie couldn’t make it a great one. They just prevented it from being a bad movie. It is in a word, ordinary, yet fun enough that people ought to go see two hours with their kids.

Should DC make a sequel?  Yes it should, but it should keep the cast, and have better writing that doesn’t dumb down the material for the audience too much.  People did get The Matrix, and the Dark Knight, they ought to get Green Lantern too.

Image credit: DC Entertainment