Over in Hollywood, they've been complaining of how much remakes have dominated the current movie industry and that it's partly to blame for the dwindling box office receipts. Here in the Philippines, while film remakes have been as common as penguins roaming the streets of Manila, we're basically faced with the same dilemma - almost every local film nowadays uses the same formula over and over and over again regardless of the film outfit.
I mean, name a recent mainstream Filipino film that isn't about the clichéd plot of romance, with no big-name young stars (often the hottest love team of the moment and are also starring in their own TV shows) in the lead, and without a title culled from a line of a love song (most probably a ballad from the '70s and '80s).
A lot of local films further back up the idea that too many actors are on the fringe yet not enough fresh ideas are available for mainstream consumption. Yes, there are digital films but would fans of stars watch movies featuring their idols NOT falling in love with each other? Would they REALLY want to watch a film if it goes out of the formula? The question of whose fault why the local film industry is dying (the producers or the audience?) thus becomes tantamount to asking which came first: the chicken or the egg? "I Will Always Love You" is exactly the kind of movie I'm talking about. It's an almost two-hour cliché and I know I'm gonna sound a big cynic, but it's almost the same as watching a remake.
Justin (Richard Gutierrez) is a spoiled rich boy who meets the love of his life in Cecile (Angel Locsin) - a hardworking smart girl. The problem is she's poor (wow, how new!) and Justin's mother (Jean Garcia), who rivals Cinderella's mother for the most one-dimensional cruel villain just for the sake of being mean, doesn't want her for him. Like, that's so afternoon soap opera, if you ask me.
Anyway, evil mom then sends his son to US to study and so the producers will have a relatively fresh twist to a stale story. But Justin, ever the hopeless lover-boy, secretly brings Cecile along and works small-paying jobs to fund his girlfriend's studies. Yeah, at this point you can figure out the rest of the story yourself.
Not only is it suffering from tired formula, but the ludicrous plot has the whole film drowning itself in a sea of problematic premises. It runs close to two hours although there have been lots of stretches that could've been edited out. Director Mac Alejandre does fair handling some scenes although most of the times, the pacing becomes uneven.
Locsin and Gutierrez have that on-screen chemistry and Garcia is still effective as the mean mother, and all those are given. They can do this movie in their sleep. That doesn't change the fact that "I Will Always Love You" is a stereotype of fairy tale movies that have flooded local cinemas nowadays. Instead of portraying itself as, say, a satire to the genre it walks on, it takes itself seriously and expects us to swallow the bitter pill it forcibly feeds us.
Although I may have sounded as to make it a terrible movie, it is not. Certainly there are worse movies out there. Fans of the leads and desperately hopeless romantics will be willing to overlook the lame and cheesy details that are far less believable than the rhetoric of most politicians and might enjoy this, but it won't set a landmark for those outside the targeted demography.
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