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Darna......the superhero of choice?!?!?!
One thing I find difficult with these movies is to review them with a certain amount of objectivity. As a rule I really like superhero/action movies and I normally have a certain amount of grace towards them even if they are considered bad by the general population. For me as long as the actor\actress in the lead role brings to the real a certain amount of gravitas or believability I can tend to look over glaring plot holes or bad dialogue.
There have been only a handful of actors who you could actually say fitted the role to a tee.....Christopher Reeve (Superman), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Christian Bale (Batman), Helen Slater (Supergirl), Robert Downey Jr (Ironman), Tobey MacGuire (Spiderman).
With the Darna series there have been many actresses over the years that have fitted into the red boots and costume. Almost all people would say that Vilma Santos was the quintessential Darna. However, looking at the movies made in the 90's both Nanette Medved and Anjanette Abeyari both did a very good job of the role.
Sure the stories weren't going to win an academy award but both girls in their respective movies tried to give Darna a certain amount of respect.
In this outing...an origin story of some description...Nanette gets to don the red boots and tights in which she looks very good. As a movie the production values were actually quite good. The setup of Edu Manzano as the villain of the piece was very well done at the beginning and you actually believe that he is very dangerous. Nanette receiving the stone and transforming was also excellently done.
I won't go into many details of the story but suffice to say it wasn't spectacular but it wasn't bad. If anything it was a little more serious than the sequel with Anjanette and didn't have any of the camp quality. The action set pieces were well done for Fillipino standards and Nanette actually looks like she could crack a few heads. I think she even did a few of her own stunts.
Overall, the Nanette, Darna turns out to be OK. A little serious for me but still resonating with what Darna is about.
Darna! Ang pagbabalik (1994)
So bad it is Good!!
Superhero movies are one of those rare beasts that can either inspire people or make people feel nauseous. There have been great inspirational ones (Batman Begins and Superman) and nauseating ones (Wolverine Origins and The Spirit). Darna Ang Pagbabalik is actually one of the nauseating ones but everyone seems to be having such a good time in the movie that it actually turns out to be not too bad. Just like the 1980's Flash Gordon, DAP can be classified as so bad that it is good.
A campy delight from start to finish, DAP captures all the good elements from Wonder Woman of the 70's and Xena of the 90's to give a very unintentionally funny Fillipino Spin on the superhero mythos.
Now DARNA is very, very big in the Phillipines with comics, TV series and tonnes of movies....the best of which are the old Vilma Santos affairs. But Darna Ang Pagbabalik holds its own. Don't watch for the story, just sit back and let your brain switch off for 90 minutes.
Anjanette Abayari definitely looks the part of Darna. Not only does she fill out the costume quite nicely but also managed to do most of her own stunts including a kick ass fight sequence at the start involving a few cartwheels and round house kicks. I'm not too sure why they didn't continue with Anjanette but for the 90's Anjanette was Darna just like Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. Of course...no one can beat the original movie Darna - Vilma.
The villain is also a classic over the top type that has been a mainstay of the Darna mythos for a long time.
So sit back and enjoy and don't think too hard!!
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Better than the original!!!!
During the late 70's and early 80's a special group of sci-fi and fantasy movies came out of Hollywood that are still memorable even today. Like Superman I and II, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of these movies.
Everything just seemed to click. The acting, the story, the action and special effects. Even now as I am writing this the movie is 27 years old and still looks spectacular. It is amazing to think that Director Nicholas Meyer re-wrote this story in only 12 days and didn't get a writing credit.
Also, who could forget Ricardo Montalban as the stand out villain Khan Noonian Singh. This wasn't just any cutout cardboard bad guy. This was a man with depth. Someone, although evil, we could sympathise with. He is a great character study of someone dealing with his grief and despair in absolutely the wrong way that it effects (and literally kills) all those around him.
Shatner and co also bring tremendous strength to their characters especially surrounding the concepts of life and death. A tremendous credit must be given to Nicholas Meyer who helmed this project. Although, not a Star Trek fan his legacy still effects Star Trek to this day.
The Special effects still hold up to todays standards as well plus one of the first uses of computer graphics on film. Finally, the kickbutt cliffhanger ending rounds it all off as a great movie.
The only beef I have with it is the dodgy costumes on Khan's goons. They all look like they came out a really bad Mad Max movie and that's the only thing that looks dated.
Apart from that the movies is simply fantastic!!!! Go watch!!!
Broken Arrow (1996)
John Woo when he was good!!!!
Now you know when a film has you and is entertaining. Usually for me the indications are....1) I'm not bored 2) I'm not yawning 3) i don't have to make an excuse to goto to the toilet even when I don't need to. This film did not have me doing any of these things.
John Woo during the early to mid 90's had a range of good films in Hollywood before he went stupid during the 2000's. This along with Hard Target, Face/Off, Once a Thief and Mission Impossible 2 was one of them.
From the get go this movie had Woo written all over it....the slow motion shots, the double guns, John Travolta, and the Mexican stand off - although this time with a gun and a knife. From the opening boxing match, to the underground nuclear explosion and the climax on the train this movie thrilled.
Admittedley, as other commentators have pointed out...this is a run of the mill action movie which is elevated by John Woo, Travolta and Slater to above average. I hate to say this but I could watch this a second time and still not get bored with it.
Overall, this movie did do it for me. Great to have a pizza and a six pack on a Saturday night DVD fest with the guys.
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Man..why are people so unkind
I love commenting on shows that generate such diversity of opinions. There are many people who seemed to love the Mummy Returns and an equal if not more hated it! To me I think those who hated it (i.e gave it 1 or 2 out of 10) often fail to see what the show was really intended for and go down to the technicalities of it all..That is was the script good, were the special effects serviceable, were the characters well presented. All of these areas are important but they pale into insignificance when all the show is there for is to entertain.
Now lets face it...this would not and did not win Oscars at the year of its release so if you want an Oscar worthy movie watch Gladiator or Titanic. But if you want a movie where you can check your brain at the door and enjoy a rollicking good old fashioned action adventure yarn then this is it.
The Mummy Returns can be summed up in two words....Bigger, Better. Everything is on a grander scale compared with the first one. More action, bigger threat and a larger scope. For Hollywood sequels that's what they do in action sequels...look at Xmen 2, Empire Strikes Back, Spiderman etc.
The action is non-stop and has some great skin of your teeth type moments which are similar to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg movies based on the 1930's republic serials. The characters have changed notably Rachel Weisz's character but remember this is set 9 years after the original so this is believable. The son also is believable to a certain point as he would be influenced by his parents and the relationship he shares with his father is very touching.
Imhotep has definitely been humanised and he turns out to be the sympathetic bad guy. The bad guys are all good except the Rock. he is very one-dimensional in this but then he didn't get much screen time.
Overall I thought the movie was good. Look at what it is for what it is...just a goofy action movie that was purely made to entertain and try not to read into it too much.
The Scorpion King (2002)
Don't be too critical!!!!
It amazes me that most of the user comments of this movie tend to fall into the not to bad but not to good category. I admit to a certain extent that maybe the case. What I believe many commentators fail to realise the type of movie this is? Yes we have seen the same plot in a number of different movies - you know the hero taking revenge on someone for killing their family members etc (this of course is the basis for most superhero origin movies as if that is the only thing the male psyche can relate to). But for this movie the plot device that propels our unsung hero The Scorpion King (The Rock in his first major role) actually works. (If you want more plot details read some of the other user comments) The Scorpion King could be taken as a cross between Conan and Indiana Jones. Swords and sandals with one death defying scrape after another. I mean the hero using a large brass gong to escape the guards is a direct nod to a similar scene in The Temple of Doom. For the type of movie that it is - a no brainer action flick enjoyed with other guys over a six pack and pizza - it actually delivers.
From the very opening sequence where the heroes brother has been held hostage to final battle with memnon it is wall to wall action by the Rock as he tears apart everything and anything on screen. If you enjoy it at this level then you will not be disappointed. If you want something more serious and along the same vain then the original Conan the Barbarian with Arnold and directed by the superb John Milius will be your cup of tea.
However, the Rock, in his first role, establishes himself as the new action star of the 21st century easily taking over Arnies mantle from the 80's. His acting maybe not that great but when he starts bruising heads the Rock is poetry in motion. And what is even more superb is that no swearing was needed to generate a rollicking good, if kinda shallow, adventure.
So check your brain at the door and just indulge in the senseless adventure that is The Scorpion King. Hears hoping the follow-up (without The Rock) will be just as incredibly fulfilling in a shallow way!
Much more than meets the eye!!!
If you want Transformers then this movie delivers in spades.
The CGI, the story, the human characters and of course the robots.
If you're a fan of the original cartoon series then you will be a fan of the movie. Some elements from the original story have been changed but that in no way detracts from the movies excitement.
From the opening helicopter attack at the airforce base to the final battle in the city the action is unrelentless.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who has a love for good old fashioned rumbles. Even the transformation are spectacular. The highlight would have to be Optimus Primes transformation when he is squaring off against Megatron.
Shia Lebouf puts heart and soul into his role and makes it believable for the audience. Megan Fox is good eye candy but also had a good role. Anthony Anderson was a little wasted as far as comic relief. John Turturro does a far better job in that department.
Overall, I know that many people don't like Michael Bay and what he does with his movies but here, in this movie, his style of direction fits the bill to a tee! Bring on the sequel!