This post is in support of the project of the Marikina City Hall. Let us help each other to save our environment, our homes, our lives, and the lives of our loved ones and our countrymen.
A Marathon to Save Marikina Watershed
A new Marikina Marathon happens this April 2012 to stimulate awareness and intensify the campaign “Saving the Marikina Watershed.” Dubbed as DEL RUN, the event will cover 3, 5, and 16 kilometers of roads within the city. For every registration, 10 trees will be planted. The proceeds of the project will be used for more massive tree planting activities in the watershed.
Del Run is an opportunity for people who care for a green environment to converge, have fun, and support a noble cause. Ondoy’s stigma lingers, but something can be done to prevent it from happening again. The time is NOW.
Project Objective: To save the Marikina watershed from further degradation and save the metropolis from another Ondoy.
Venue and Time: Marikina Sports Center, Marikina City, April 15, 2012.
A Commitment for the Environment – The Sierra Madre Mountains
President Benigno Aquino III, declared September 26 as “Save Sierra Madre Day” the anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy, which brought heavy rains
that flooded major cities in Metro Manila and took the lives of many of our countrymen. Most of the flooding can be attributed to the continuous deforestation of the Sierra Madre mountains.
Two years after Tropical Storm “Ondoy,” the victims of its most devastating wrath, remained inundated with promises and that never again would they ever be placed at such a horrific risk.
Marikina cannot do it alone. It should be a concerted effort of all stakeholders to restore the green forest of Sierra Madre. Sec. Ramon Paje promised to plant 5 million seedlings over 10,000 hectares up to 2016, the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term.
In a “Statement of Commitment” he signed with other stakeholders, the agency will plant five million trees to rehabilitate the Marikina watershed to enhance its water-holding capacity and reduce siltation and flash flooding.
Among the endangered wildlife species found in the Marikina watershed include the forest trees narra, red and white lauan, bagtikan, kamagong, and molave.
Another Ondoy Feared
Congressman Miro Quimbo said that to make the watershed effective in preventing floods, at least 25 million trees had to be replanted. He said that almost 80 percent of the 28,000-hectare watershed had been denuded. He also added that it would take at least 10 years to effectively replant in the area.
With global warming taking its toll, we continue to worry that more rains will be forthcoming in the next two years, and we cannot wait that long. We fear another Ondoy happening unless immediate and comprehensive flood mitigation programs are implemented along the river.”
Quimbo also explored the possibility of putting up a dam in the town of Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) as the quickest solution.
Owing to the siltation of the Marikina River, further aggravated by the upstream from Ondoy two years ago, the river’s containment capacity is down by 60 percent from eight years years ago.
Water Impounding – A New Dam Project
The watershed is also seen as a potential source of water supply for Metro Manila. This can play a vital role in regulating flooding in the low-lying areas of Rizal and the metropolis.
Quimbo also stressed out that a dam located upriver would contain the rain water for a few hours instead of immediately bringing it down to the Marikina River system.
The dam can also be a source of energy which the country needs in the next three years. Based on the reports of the Department of Energy (DOE), the country will have critical levels of power by 2014.
Other intermediate steps that need to be immediately funded are water impounding areas in Antipolo City and slope and embankment protection along the Marikina River. He called for a more comprehensive plan to address flooding in Marikina, which will also involve its surrounding cities and municipalities, especially Antipolo, Pasig, San Mateo, and Rodriguez. 90 percent of the floodwater that Marikina catches comes from Antipolo and Rodriguez.
First Line of Defense
Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman vowed to make the watershed reforestation his priority. “It is called Marikina watershed because it is ours. And the
responsibility to take care of it and protect it lie with us,” De Guzman stressed. “This is our first line of defense. When this is gone, all the floodwater will go toward Marikina. Whatever due diligence Mariqueños do in terms of waste segregation, cleanup, and rehabilatation of our drainage and creek system, if our neighbors do not cooperate, we will continue to suffer. Water now rises so fast even with minimal rain. Heavy rains lasting only two hours already swell the river. It used to take at least six to seven hours of continuous rain for that to happen.”
Everybody else is doing it, so why not try it? It looks promising… the film’s Facebook page where all photos, videos, and links can be readily organized and properly documented. Easy access, especially when being asked about online resources for screenings and programs where the film is entered or invited to. So here you go…
The Philippine-Korean-Iraqi 16mm short film “Technophilia” will have a screening at “RAW: Las Vegas Presents Fusion” on Aug. 25, 2011 (Thursday) at Tommy Rocker’s in Las Vegas. If you’re in the Vegas area on the said date, you’re invited to come to the event and support local artists. You can buy tickets through this link. Buying ahead of time will only cost $10 for a night of film, music performances, photography, mixed media, and performance art exhibitions, and fashion show.
Inside a hangout place, the game addict boyfriend gets boxed up by his techie lifestyle, which further alters his relationship with his already fed-up girlfriend. Things become more and more mechanical as they move on.
RAW: natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists.
Our mission is to provide independent artists of all creative genres with the tools, resources, and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. RAW educates emerging artists through seminars, workshops, and insights to further knowledge of their industries.
RAW connects them with one another so that they may grow together, while also providing them with opportunities to give back to their own local youth communities through the arts.
We encourage the creative success of the many visionaries and storytellers of our generation.
Grassroots Showcase Events
RAW handpicks and spotlights local artistic talents in film, fashion, music, visual art, hair and makeup artistry, and performance art. With artists from all genres in each showcase, RAW events come together to form an amazing circus of creativity.
What Can You Expect when Attending the RAW Showcase?
We screen an independent film (usually a short, webisode, or music video), a fashion show from an up-and-coming local designer, a musical performance, an art gallery featuring several independent visual artists, and performance art (comedy/dance/fire dancers, you name it…). You’ll get a little taste of everything. Combine all this creativity with drinks, fun, and good company! To partake in the experience, RSVP ($10/ticket) in the “Showcases” section of the event.
It’s almost time for the pitch for our initial plans for our shorts. This includes the story, treatment and other key aspects of the production. Here’s my synopsis for the initial pitch…
“Project Bernardo Carpio” Synopsis:
Bernardo struggles to free himself from his chains, while he also duels with the powerful entity who led him to his demise under the mountains of Montalban. This character-driven story depicts a rivalry that unveils an account of Bernardo’s life and the story behind “The Legend of Bernardo Carpio.”
With many, many, many months of production to go, of course, it is not impossible to have certain changes as the project develops. But here’s to chronicling how those developments progress…
About the film’s title, still on the works… suggestions/recommendations/advice are welcome!!
Tuldok Recruitment Video for the Folktales Animated Project:
Yup! This trailer is talking to you!
After a successful completion and launch of our second project, “Pasintabi” and “Lines to Life” educational series, we are now opening membership to anyone who is willing and wants to help create an Original Philippine Animation Industry.
Only registered members with approved application forms will have access to the exclusive forums to exchange ideas, submit concept art, and contribute in their own special way.
See you at the Tambayan!
-Tuldok Animation Studios Team
Tuldok Animation Studios is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to bring Filipino Artists together to create an Original Filipino Animation Industry.
We are a virtual studio and our previous projects have been built up using community driven efforts inspired by our local custom of “Bayanihan”.
Tickets will be available at the door or simply purchase them at www.brownpapertickets.com and type in Filipino International Film Festival.
$10 for any showings on Saturday and Sunday
$50 for an ALL ACCESS PASS to any of the films.
Friday – September 24th
8:00PM – 10:00PM – OPENING NIGHT FEATURE
*NOY – Philippines – Directed by DonDon Santos
Courtesy of Cinemedia and Star Cinema
Saturday – September 25th
9:30AM – 12:00PM – High School Youth Program in Film making
12:30PM – 1:45PM – 1st Block of Shorts
*Technophilia – Philippines – 6min 37 sec – Directed by Rianne Hill Soriano
*”Stay Here” by Leah – US – Music Video 4min 25sec – Directed by Christopher Ad. Castillio
*O – US – 2min 5sec – Directed by Amber Rosario Manuguid
*Tulungan Kita (I’ll Help You) – Canada – 4min 46 sec – Directed by Fernando Dalayoan
* Liham – US – 11min 20sec – Directed by Clarissa Munoz-Banerjee
* Bout That Bout – US – 26min 47sec – Directed by Nico Sabenorio
* Birthday – Philippines – 8min – Directed by Princes Dalmas
* Finally – US – 8min 1sec – Directed by Kristin Alcala
2:15PM – 3:45PM – Matinee Feature
*Fling – Philippines – Directed by Han Salazar
(With English Subtitles)
4:30PM – 5:30PM – 2nd Block of Shorts
*Prom Date – Philippines – 15min – Directed by Charlotte Dianco
*”Lahat ng Araw” by Charmaine Clamor – Music Video 4min 38sec – Directed by Christopher Ad. Castillio
*Chocolate Meat – US – 7min 48sec – Directed by Justin Ryan Madriaga
*The Fork and Spoon – US – 2min 5sec – Directed by Amber Rosario Manuguid
*”Seven Months” by Bambu – Music Video 4min 28sec – Directed by Gabe Pagtama
*Codename: Dragonfly – US – 17min 20sec – Directed by Ron Santiano
6:00PM – 700PM – PANEL FOR FILMMAKERS – FREE – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
7:30PM – 9:00PM – SATURDAY NIGHT FEATURE FILM
Mosquito Filipino – Documentary – Directed by R.A. Mendoza
US – 79min
Sunday – September 26th – 4:00PM – 6:00PM
*A Journey Home – Philippines – Directed by Paul Soriano
(With English Subtitles)
7:00PM – 9:00PM – CLOSING NIGHT FILMS
3rd Block of Shorts
*Little – Philippines – 34min 15sec – Directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo
(With English Subtitles)
*Pera Perahang Lata (Penny From Tin Can) – Philippines – 29min 50sec – Directed by Rianne Hill Soriano
(With English Subtitles)
*Chasing Manila – Philippines – 18min 2sec – Directed by Paul Soriano
(With English Subtitles)
Now, Inception is more than just a leap of faith for filmmaker Christopher Nolan.
With its elements about powerful ideas, dreaming in a dream, and dreaming inside other people’s dreams, Inception is one entertainingly hard-core, multi-layered mindbender. This motion picture masterpiece is one of the strongest science-fiction concepts to come in a long time. Nolan and his production team construct a breathtakingly audacious blockbuster narrative while not leaving the intelligent and more demanding film lovers behind.
Inception is nothing less than astounding. It dreams big, dreams deep, and creates challenging dreams to engage the wide-eyed dreamy viewers. In doing so, the film’s own thin line separating dream space and reality innovatively creates such a well-mounted story. It carefully blends the conscious and subconscious in various levels. It balances philosophical ideas and narrative tension within a labyrinthine plot that engages in various forms, degrees and intensities.
Whether for its visceral popcorn thrills, elegantly laid out action sequences, boldness and restraint, this ambitious film knows how to manipulate its thematic fetishes and its complicated narrative structure.
Like its own theme, Inception taps into the subconscious of each viewer in its relatively comprehensible way. Orchestrated by a crafting hand of a director who knows what he wants and how to make things happen, even the most obscure details get digested as the film cinematically sells its conceptual and emotional investments. It’s bold, intense, exhilarating, engaging, and impressive. It is complex yet coherent. It’s something that can benefit repeated viewings and feed the viewer with something new or different each time. Preposterous, yet ingeniously done, it offers such an entertaining ride. It serves as a popcorn flick, too!
While it is ambiguous enough to lead to conflicting opinions, the main purpose of the film is to engage the intellect about its theme and concept, not just merely figuring out which one is real, which one is a dream. While additional viewings are needed to personally provide a more solid analysis and opinion about the film’s ending, it seems more like the filmmaker crafts this opus in a way that there is no concrete interpretation to dictate to each and everyone that something is or is not.
The various elements, symbolisms, characterizations, and dialogues are carefully planted in a way that they work together to let the audience go beyond the need to figure out a twist or find out the “truth” behind the main story. Like how actual dreams are, Inception is open to different interpretations. And it does so without making specific aspects of it bug its quality down. It works in higher levels of film viewing that it touches something beyond a film viewer’s surface thinking, quite different from how s/he would typically treat other movies. And this is what makes Inception seem quite different from the usual. It is endlessly elliptical and it works in many facets. It allows its tagline “Your mind is the scene of the crime” validate itself; while its grand provisions for a visual feast keep up with the more palpable sense of its thrilling ride.
Inception isn’t perfect. Yet, its weak points are unquestionably shadowed by its brilliant and meandering machinations. The film splurges and invests in its concept, story, script, visuals, sound, emotions, and intellect, in accordance to how the film language can intangibly bring out all its cinematic ideas and values across.
Like Leonardo diCaprio’s character Cobb, Nolan is a meticulously skilled extractor and an architect of deep and provoking thoughts. He is a sly narrative tactician who juggles at big ideas and make people think about his idea. He takes the audience to a pleasurable trip through varying mental labyrinths filled with elegant dreamscapes and genuine human drama. It has a sort of paradoxical architecture of its own as Nolan offers a clockwork-precise showmanship in every scene. By the film’s ending, he impressively allows the characters to wake up from their dreams to figure out what’s real. Yet, whether for his film’s characters or for his film audience, things doesn’t really end there…
Inception is a rare movie project that can be enjoyed on a superficial and/or progressively deeper level of viewing. It uncannily fascinates the audience as the story moves further into the challenging layers of the subconscious mind. It is a work of a visionary. For all its high production values and budget requirements, this is the kind of film that the big movie studios should support more often.
Philippine Dual Citizenship Requirements
A natural-born Filipino (a child born in the Philippines or a child born to a Filipino parent) who lost his Filipino citizenship due to naturalization as a citizen of another country can now apply for dual citizenship. Read More
Behind-the-scene of Inception: Movie Locations
Inception hinges on the premise that it is possible to share dreams and that they have been designed to look and feel completely real while you’re in them. In such subconscious state, a person’s deepest and most valuable secrets are there for the taking. Read More
Well, most residents know about it, but they probably forgot how this perk can be something they can take advantage of. There are also those who prefer to watch something they specifically want which might not be readily available with this option. But for those interested in watching something that gets their attention within the DVD racks, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is a great way to enjoy diverse collections of movies, TV shows, and instructional and informational videos.
How to Buy a Condo in the Philippines: For Foreigners Who Reside or Frequently Travel to the Country
As a foreigner is not allowed to own a house and lot in the Philippines, if you’re a foreigner who frequently travels to the country and you want to invest in a “home” for your you next visit, what you can buy is a condo unit. Condos are easier to maintain as it has full-time security and it offers services and options beneficial to those who don’t regularly stay there. There are condo units that can also provide individuals or even families good options to live near commercial areas and the most happening places, while also getting fully-serviced amenities beneficial to regular urban dwellers. Read More
Eclipse Continues to Suck Blood Out of Pop Culture
By Rianne Hill Soriano
Eclipse Continues to Suck Blood Out of Pop CultureBy Rianne Hill Soriano
Twilight Saga: Eclipse is a compelling sequel certain to enthrall die-hard fans.
Twilight is now a legendary brand famous for its teenage angst, pale make-up, and otherworldly love triangle. Now a historical movie franchise breaking box office records worldwide, this third installment clearly marathons every opportunity to please fans. While they ultimately deserve more, this movie successfully utilizes the right blood type to fuel all its bankable possibilities. And whatever critics and non-fans say, its hard-core followers ultimately back up this romantic fantasy flick as an ultimate cash cow.
Eclipse is dull, boring, and overly dramatic; unless the viewer finds it therapeutic, entertaining, or orgasmic to see perfectly pale and powerful vampires and perfectly chiseled, shirtless werewolves making a regular girl happy on the big screen. If just for those, this movie is a sure winner. The movie marathons to as much close-ups and beauty shots while the actors and actresses try to put life to their clichéd lines. Add up some action to boost things up in between the many drags, and that’s about it.
Its vampire boy-meets-ordinary girl-meets werewolf boy story can already be effectively told in a short movie, but of course, the studio needs to prolong it as much as it can. To keep up with the feature-length movie requirement, Eclipse incorporates many visceral set pieces, stylistic flashbacks, and impassioned sentiments to keep the viewers hanging on to its swoony tale of forbidden love.
There’s no middle ground with the Twilight Saga: Either the viewer surrenders to the value of this movie version of the Stephenie Meyer bestseller or the viewer walks out feeling lifeless in disappointment. One thing is for sure, this film confidently provides the commercial requirements to make fans satisfied.
In its own mediocre level, Eclipse’s good points are its pretty good make-up, atmospheric feel, and art direction setting the mood for a sort of emotional pornography for teenagers. The “melodramatic crush factor” works well for those craving for such inner adolescent fantasies. The marketing strategy establishing the vampire-wolf division “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob,” along with the “in-Bella’s shoes” girl fantasies, is developed pretty well throughout the movie. It validates its teen-friendly demeanor where words overcome sexual urges and where fight scenes are meant for viewers who are only concerned about the protagonists winning and looking so cool with it.
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black embrace their own sense of camp in this movie about teenage uncertainty, emotional highs and lows, and impassioned teenage love. It is not the stunning locations, special effects, or the plot that “Twilighters” will keep in mind, it’s the characters and their relationships that they shall remember.
Director David Slade taps into what Twilight fans want. He keeps it cold and lifeless in a way that the ultimate teenage fantasies about the characters become the full movie. The adolescents and the adolescents at heart don’t mind how characters shamelessly have their buttons pushed as long as they can relate to these characters’ own personal hurdles.
Eclipse manages to create a teen drama effectively utilizing its cheesy special effects to stage chaste, romantic tensions against the many scenic backdrops. It demonstrates adolescent longing and primal physical confrontations where the ultimate damsel in distress gets saved by not one but two “prince charmings,” not to mention their whole clans helping out.
For those seeking for a quality film offer, this 124-minute movie about convoluted passions and hormonal outrage cries out for life. It seeks for a life-saving blood transfusion. It is like watching two lovers looking at each other’s eyes and feeling the ultimate magic of being in love; while anyone not relating to it would most likely feel bored or apathetic.
With fans undoubtedly willing to get bitten, this third chapter in the Twilight Saga remains foremost a flick for devotees. Given the strength of this franchise, the least non-fans can wish for is for the next chapter/s to take the challenge of better quality over the shallowness of its comfort zone. If it continues to be this programmed and predictable, the only thing to remember it by is that it sucks the blood out of pop culture; while it leaves everybody else outside dead cold.
Like the first two films, Toy Story 3 simply captures you with emotional magic in film form. Entertaining, well-crafted, and emotional, this third film of the historical animated film franchise is powered by fun, fueled by intellect, and driven by heart. It is a fitting finale for a Pixar animated trilogy perfected in tone, delivery, timing, humor, and drama. Its charm goes to infinity and beyond.
This film can bring you back the old memories of your toys and literally wonder where they are now. Whether tears come out from your spectator eyes or not, its ending offers an undoubtedly heart-wrenching moment that grabs the child in you. And this can simply be described as “cinematic magic.” By taking a bunch of animated toys teaching people about the mystery of human lives and struggling through it, Toy Story 3 becomes a sentimental journey with a heartfelt mix of sugar and spice. Every scene is delightfully engaging and there is so much to be absorbed without straining its theme and story. The gags are all set in the right places until the film wraps up with an enchanting finale.
The well-embraced Pixar tradition of a short film preceding the main feature attraction is nothing but clever and enchanting. Day and Night directed by Teddy Newton, also the voice behind the toy character Chatter Telephone, is a masterpiece on its own and it perfectly complements Toy Story 3.
This third motion picture from the franchisecomes full circle. It’s a rare sequel that clearly endures the test of time. Like its theme and story, it mixes joy and sweet sadness for the complicated choices about staying in the comfort zone and embracing change. It emphasizes the relationship between toys and a child’s imagination. It’s about the inevitable moments of having to leave some things behind. It’s about the feeling of abandonment that comes with age and passage of time. And it’s about accepting how changes in life can sometimes be harsh and unfavorable.
Toy Story3 has a basic plot and a simple, straightforward story orientation. What makes it stand out from the rest? The filmmakers know what they want, they know what they’re doing, and they know how to do things with utmost sincerity. It has such a simple formula, yet the delicate combination of the various aspects of film production goes beyond being objective and quantitative. The challenge in reaching such level of cinematic marvel requires careful choices and bull’s-eye decisions for the script, choice of shots, animation requirements, audio requirements, and voice performances. It’s a candid story that delves about living life, feeling outdated, getting misunderstood, and facing things beyond your control. It answers the question about what happens when “playtime” is over in a figurative and emotional way that is surprising, self-realizing, and considerably hurting while still being gently comforting.
While it celebrates consumerism with its many brands and product placements, the genius in Pixar impressively manages to keep the film’s innocent pleasures of imagination. Toy Story 3 succeeds beyond its glossy and gleaming pixels both in 2D and 3D. It has a valuable script with animated characters as real as a child’s sense of wonder. It balances rollicking adventure, wrenching pathos, and brilliant humor in an exceptional package. Exuding with enough emotional resonance, it creatively ties up the first two films at a very suitable time: without having to rush things as how the mainstream filmmaking bible dictates it (think of how studios rush sequels for the sake of commercialism). It took years and years until the new technology now enables 3D films and how this era showcases a new age of toys to add up to the Toy Story collection. Even the actual voice behind the little Andy character of the past now renders his voice as a grown up young adult himself.
This third worthy installment kicks off with a brief playful sequence of breathtaking mastery, evocative detail, wonderful camera work, all aptly resolved in a true little boy’s eyes. It impressively opens up with a scene that reminds people of what Toy Story really offered more than a decade ago. And as the fun treats of the film progresses, it carefully blends the moments of sadness and ache that come along as life shifts towards another direction. On a lighter note, there is an appreciation for Pixar’s brilliance in making a nice, long gag reel side by side its closing credits. Aside from bringing a satisfyingly intelligent but fun resolution to the movie, it offers additional time to wipe away those tears before the screening finishes.
Pixar’s now trademark of “ingenuous storytelling” serves up yet another exceptional animated treat that doesn’t surpass its predecessors, but simply continues its virtuous tradition. The studio simply knows how to tell a brilliant story in an animated movie format without resorting to brainless gimmicks and cheap sentiments. It winds up its way gently towards its serious themes without grabbing desperately on them.
With inspired homage to jailbreak movies, director Lee Unkrich presents a thoughtful story about regret for the past and fear of the future. It’s nothing but worthy to mention much of the people behind this masterwork: writers Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich; producer Darla K. Anderson and executive producer John Lasseter; music composer Randy Newman; and the very long list of animators, production artists, and film crew who made the film what it is. As a clever piece of storytelling magic, this family-friendly movie illustrates a natural progression melding with ease in many levels of thematic resplendence.
On the technical side, Toy Story 3 lives up to the expectations. The characters design and animation are spectacularly detailed and well rendered. From Barbie and Ken’s robotic moves to the almost palpable strawberry smell of Lotso as how this gets established in the film, this emotional cinematic treat employs technical wizardry in par with its storytelling. The cinematography and production design are so vivid and fitting in every sequence and scene.
The vocal performances coming from a mix of the old cast and the newcomers create such powerfully emotional characters. Whether a major or minor role, each one really brings his/her character to life. Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear lead the pack of toy characters with such brilliance. Buzz’s Spanish mode is a hysterically fun treat. Aside from these two best buddies of the franchise, the audience shall remember such iconic performances from the many human and toy characters. To mention some: John Morris as Andy; Joan Cusack as Jessie; Ned Beatty as Lotso; Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head; Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head; Jodi Benson as Barbie; Michael Keaton as Ken; Wallace Shawn as Rex; John Ratzenberger as Hamm; Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants; Jeff Pidgeon as Aliens; Blake Clark as Slinky Dog; Emily Hahn as Bonnie; Jeff Garlin as Buttercup; Bonnie Hunt as Dolly; John Cygan as Twitch; Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch; Laurie Metcalf as Andy’s Mom; Bud Luckey as Chuckles; Beatrice Miller as Molly; Javier Fernandez Pena as the Spanish Buzz; and Lori Alan as Bonnie’s Mom.
There is so much to absorb in this animated opus for a viewer of any age. Watching it over and over again further makes a strong bond between the film and its viewer. Best advice: Buy the Toy Story Blu-ray collection once it hits the market. Such a release is truly worthy of anyone’s collection. It doesn’t sell just with merely crappy marketing materials and bonus features. It’s the actual film that hits every button from laughter to tears, from adventure to realizations, from audio-visual flair to earnestness. It’s “magically deep, sweet, painful, and real.”
Like its characters, the Toy Story films are to be treasured forever.
The Karate Kid featuring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan starts off with a considerably sincere showcase of what the movie is all about. From the pop music in its opening credits to the kind of shots it utilizes early on, it’s clearly meant for the young crowd who likes hearty stories and happy endings. This commercially entertaining remake works well for its audience while not being an entire rip-off of the 1984 original. It keeps its spirit alive, except for one disappointing aspect: The Karate Kid is actually The Kung Fu Kid.
The biggest cinematic sin committed here is its misnamed title that sets it somewhere in between an appealing popcorn flick and a big cinematic blasphemy.
The story of Dre migrating to China with his mother, along with his learning of kung fu, renders a fine mainstream treat. But sadly, this movie rides too much on the name of the classic Karate Kid film that it practically uses its franchise just to maximize all the hype and good branding. While making a remake of an old movie is something acceptable, this new martial arts flick for kids could have been more respectful of the film’s legacy by either living up with it (within the karate world) or deviating from its original title to keep up with the new, updated plot. In so doing, it wouldn’t look and sound so funny, questionable, and dumb that it’s a Karate Kid movie using kung fu. In fact, they can even use the original movie’s title as a “sub-title” if they really want to use the brand and recuperate on the most likely huge amount they paid to use the franchise.
The Karate Kid remains a feel good story that works. It succeeds as a crowd-pleasing treat that captures the general charm and humanity of the 1984 original. While it doesn’t surpass what its predecessor has already etched in film history, it takes the same old story and feeds it back with some change in scenery and targeted demographic. It radiates the light-hearted buoyancy of the original with Jaden Smith now stepping in as the new Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan as the new Pat Morita.
When disregarding its title’s ultimate booboo, what makes the movie succeed in its own terms is that, amidst its clichéd plot, it manages to earn that same winning spirit of the influential classic. This formulaic but savvy reboot makes a good family movie.
While it is totally predictable, itproves that the formula still has life as this new one captures the good emotional beats of the original. From the simple emotional good-bye scene between Dre’s Detroit friend who gives him the skateboard to the gripping fight scene in the end, the movie pays enough respect to the tradition and nostalgia of the first Karate Kid. It may not be as good as the old one, but it reasonably engages with enough heart.
The bountiful travelogue opportunities in China also add to its button-pushing crowd-pleaser demeanor. Director Harald Zwart features historic Chinese ancient structures sitting right next to new architectural wonders. The panoramic vistas and well-choreographed fight scenes reinterpret Karate Kid without straying too far from what the original offered during its time.
The fight scenes make a good playground to its characters. The climactic showdown works in the same fashion as the 1984 movie where the face-off between the bully and the bullied feels predictable, but it interestingly doesn’t feel calculated. It gets the general audience’s attention for an emotional investment until the underdog reigns supreme. Even the simple cliché moments surprisingly validates the kung fu showdown, complete with a deciding slow-motion kick. The choice of shots and emotional bearing on the characters works well for the story. The direction, acting, production design and cinematography become the saving graces of this blasphemously titled movie.
Working together in the spirit of kung fu, Dre and Mr. Han embody naturally good chemistry. They carry the movie well: a brash American boy trying to fit in Beijing and a queerly reserved Chinese maintenance man seemingly living a lonely life on his own.
The two main characters ground the movie in between the drama, action, and comedy. While they don’t exactly match the depth and fortuitous rapport of Macchio and Morita, their partnership brings a heart-filled depiction of their own.
Smith impresses with his small frame sculpted with martial arts training. He looks very natural on screen and his charm carries the movie all the way towards a pleasing end. Amidst the frequently annoying awareness on Jackie Chan’s struggle to get rid of his Americanized tongue to speak Chinese without any English twang, he still generally works well as Mr. Han. He brings good depth to his inner struggle as a character where his emotional baggage fills up to the brim in the car drama sequence. At some point, he seems to go overboard, but the direction and editing effectively handles his breakdown with emotional shots showing him heads down on the steering wheel.
The characterizations of the other roles are not given enough value. Dre’s mother played by Taraji Henson is completely two-dimensional and flat like the rest, with the exception of the bullying boys who get their change of heart by the movie’s end. The humanity between Dre and Mr. Han is fine, but the movie could have benefited more if at least, there’s a simple establishment of Dre investing in one emotional bonding scene with his mother, instead of just mere comic elements brought to their scenes together. His potential love interest Meiying played by Wen Wen Han makes a good addition to the puppy love angle of the story. Dre’s kung fu opponent delivers a fine performance to keep the other side of the story’s spectrum a well-rendered aspect of the movie as well.