Things I Liked and Didn’t Liked about The Hunger Games : A Movie Review

Last Sunday after touring the UP Diliman premises I had the chance to see The Hunger Games on the big screen of Trinoma Cinema. Seeing the trailer and comments from people on the web, I made it a point not to miss this one. And indeed I was not misled, it was a great movie worthy to be watched.

A screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book with the same title, it tells the story of the TRIBUTES, a boy and a girl drawn via a lottery from the 12 districts of Panem and are slated to compete which each other till death in the annual Hunger Games. Directed by Gary Ross and written also by Gary Ross with Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray, it starred Jeniffer Lawrence as the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, Liam Hemsworth as Katniss’ boyfriend Gale Hawthorn, and Josh Hutcherson as the tribute boy from district 12 Peeta Mellark. With the special participation of Donald Sutherland as President Snow of Panema country.

The movie was great but I just felt hungry for more fight scenes. Basing on the trailer, promos and it’s title, I was in assumption that it will be an action packed movie, but it didn’t cater much on action scenes instead focused on the main characters. How I wish they’ve inserted more action scenes about the Hunger Games itself and their fighting for survival. I just felt it lacked a little bit more action considering the plot of the movie.

But I am very happy with their musical scoring and sound engineering. The movie was able to use great musical scores and sound effects. I love how they effectively incorporated the sounds and music in every scenes of the movie. Superb sound engineers and musical scorers. Cinematography was also great with those shots in the forest and the view of the metropolis as well as visual effects with those holographic thing used. Acting wise, Jeniffer Lawrence was very effective as Katniss Everdeen. She also did good with the action scenes and with that I can compare her to Jeniffer Garner. Also commendable were the acting jobs of Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Wes Bentley as the Head Game Maker Seneca Crane.

All in all it was indeed a film worthy of the price you’ll pay. The story is well written which depicts how the poor is being manipulated by the rich and being forced to be feed in killing each other for their entertainment. It also offered an inspiration of hope that little as you may if you have courage and overflowing hope you can overcome everything. I liked the scene when Katniss paid the last respect to the dead body of Rue and then raised her 3 fingers, which led to some sort of rebellion from the people. As what President Snow said, “Hope is the only thing more powerful than fear. Of little hope is effective, of lot of hope is dangerous.”

It can also be viewed as an upfront to producers of reality shows who are manipulating the games based on what is popular and appealing to the sponsors. It showed that rules of the game can be easily changed based on  popular demands, but in the end they are caught by their own rule when Katniss and Peeta planned to commit suicide by eating the poisonous berry so that no one will win the game.

A story of  hope, of bravery and of love and sacrifice, The Hunger Games is truly a recommended film to watch. Happy Hunger Games, May the odds be ever in your favor.


“I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me” – Peeta Mellark

Filming is more fun in the Philippines (List of Foreign Films Shot in the Philippines)

Since many people’s attention are glued in the ongoing drama of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s Impeachment trial, I thought of making side steps and taking the spotlight into a much lighter yet still entertaining topic.

We all know that Bourne Legacy has just finished filming in the country. Present here were its lead stars Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. This only proved that our country is a great filming location that Hollywood film makers are coming here to shoot their masterpiece. Who would not be proud knowing that in so many countries they’ve chosen our country to film their movies and it means a lot, especially that our government is aggressive in its efforts and campaigns to increase our tourist arrivals.

But Bourne Legacy is just one of the films shot here. There are already numbers of international films shot and taken in the country.

Here is the list of other movies that was shot here in the country:

1. The Real Glory (1939) – Written by Jo Swelling and Robert Presnell Sr. from the novel of Charles L. Clifford and Directed by Henry Hathaway. It tells the story of American soldiers who are delegated to train rural men in southern Philippines in defending themselves against Muslim radicals. It starred Gary Cooper, David Niven, and Andrea Leeds.

2. Back to Bataan (1945) – Written by Ben Barzman, Richard Landau, Aeneas MacKenzie and William Gordon and directed by Edward Dmytryk. The film tackled US war against Japanese occupation in the Philippines during the World War II. It starred John Wayne, Anthony Quinn and Beulah Bondi.

3. Too Late the Hero (1970) – A story of a reluctant hero Lt. Sam Lawson, who is commissioned to a British unit and tasked to destroy a Japanese radio in the Philippines. Written by Robert Aldrich, Lukas Heller and Robert Sherman and Directed by Robert Aldrich. It starred Michael Cain, Cliff Robertson, and Ian Bannen.

4. The Big Doll House (1971) – It tells about the story of women prisoner in the Philippines who after undergoing sadistic torture plotted an escape. Starring Roberta Collins, Pam Gier, and Judith brown, the film was Written by Don Spencer and Directed by Jack Hill.

5. Black Mama, White Mama (1972) – A story of 2 female prisoner who can’t seem to get along. being chained together, they stumble, stab and cat-fight their way to the wilderness. Directed by Eddie Romero from the story and screenplay of H.R. Christian, Joe Viola and Jonathan Demme, it starred Pam Gier, Margaret Markoy and Sig Haig.

6. The Thirsty Dead (1974) – A story of a death cult who kidnapped girls off the streets of Manila to feed from their bloods to remain immortal. Starring Jennifer Billingsley, Judith McConnell and John Considine. From the Direction of Terry Becker and story by Terry Becker, Charles Dennis and Lou Whitehill.

7. The Boys in Company C (1978) – A war story that tells the lives of 5 marines in their boot camp training in Vietnam. Directed by Sidney J. Furie and Written by Stan Shaw, Andrew Stevens and James Canning, the cast includes Stan Shaw, Andrew Stevens, James Canning and Michael Lembeck.

8. Apocalypse Now (1979) – A masterpiece of Francis Ford Coppola from the creative writing of John Millus, Francis Ford Coppola, Joseph Conrad and Micahel Herr. The film tackled the story of Captain Willard who was sent to Cambodia to assasinate a green beret renegade who acted as God of a local tribe. Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall.

9. Enter the Ninja (1981) – It tells the story of an army veteran who after being trained in Ninja School went to the Philippines to fight a land grabber of his friend’s property. Directed by Menahem Golan and Written by Dick Desmond and Mike Stone, it starred Franco Nero, Susan George and Sho Kosugi.

10. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) – A story of an Australian reporter who was caught in the center of political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno. Starring Academy Award winner Mel Gibson with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt from the direction of Peter Weir and screenplay by C.J Koch, Peter Weir and David Williamson.

11. An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) – A story of a young brat Naval Aviation student trained under a strict GySgt who eventually met Paula who became her girlfriend. Starring seasoned actor Richard Gere with Debra Winger and David Keith, the film was directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Douglas Day Stewart.

12. Missing in Action (1984) – A story of an American soldier who escaped from Vietnamese POW camp and was tasked by the American gov’t to investigate and prove that sevaral MIA’s are still alive and held captive in that Vietnamese POW camp. Written by Arthur Silver, Larry Levinson, Steve Bling, James Burner, John Crowther and Lance Hool from the direction of Joesph Zito starring Chuck Norris, M. Emmet Walsh and David Tress.

13. American Ninja (1985) – Directed by Sam Firstenberg from creative writings of Paul De Mielche, Avi Kleinberger, Gideon Amir and James Silke. The films depicts a American soldier skilled in martial arts who takes on mercenaries in the Philippines. It starred Michael Dudikoff, Steve James and Judie Aronson.

14. Platoon (1986) – An Oscar winning film by Oliver Stone (writer/director) about a young American recruit in Vietnam war who eventually suffered psychological meltdown brought by the horrors of war and conflicts with his own platoon. Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe.

15. Hamburger Hill (1987) -Another Vietnam war epic, it depicts the brutal and realistic interpretation of what transpired in the US-Vietnam war in the 60′s. Directed by John Irvin and written by James Carabastos, the film starred Anthony Barrile, Michael Boatman and don Cheadle.

16. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) – It’s a bio-pic of Ron Kovic who after being paralyzed from the Vietnam war became an anti-war and human rights activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Another award winning film by Oliver Stone, written by Ron Kovic and Oliver Stone. It starred Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Barry and Caroline Kaya.

17. Delta Force 2. The Columbian Connection (1990) – Another Chuck Norris film, which tells the story of a rescue mission of hostages by a drug exporter. Also starring in the movie are John P. ryan and Billy Drago. From the direction of Aaron Norris and written by James Bruner, Menahem Golan and Lee Reynolds.

18. DNA (1997) – A story of scientists who thru extracting DNA and enzymes have created a monster and wants to sell it as a war machine. Starring Mark Dacascos, Jurgen Prochow and Robin McKee.The film was directed by William Mesa and written by Nick Davis.

19. Noriega: God’s Favorite (1998) – The story of Manuel Antonio Noriega, a military general in Panama who proclaimed himself as God’s favorite because of many lucks he experienced. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and written by Lawrence Wright, it starred Bob Hoskins, Jeffrey DeMunn and Rosa Blasi.

20. Kiss the Sky (1998) – Tells the story of 2 businessmen who came to the Philippines and found themselves wandering into alcoholic and drug related living. Starring William Petersen, Gary Cole and Sheryl Lee, the film was under the direction of Roger Young and written by Eric Lerner.

21. Knock Off (1998) – A Van Damme film about a fashion designer in Hong Kong who became a CIA agent and joined moves to fight terrorism. Directed by Hark Tsui and written by Steven de Souza. Co stars are Rob Schneider and Lela Rochon.

22. Brokedown Palace (1999) – A story of 2 girl bestfriends who were busted for drug smuggling. Starring Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman, from the direction of Jonathan Kaplan and written by Adam Fields, David Arata,

23. Man on the Moon (1999) – Starring the funny man Jim Carrey. From the direction of Milos Foreman and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karasewzki. It tells the story of Andy Kaufman, an eccentric, avant-garde comedian. Also starring are Danny DeVito and Gerry Becker.

24. Thirteen Days (2000) – Starring Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood and Shawn Driscoll. The story is about the US struggle over missile crisis in Cuba. Directed by Roger Donaldson with writers David Self, Ernest R. May & Philip D. Zelikow.

25. Music Within (2007) – A True Story about Richard Pimentel, a brilliant Public Speaker with troubled past, who returns from Vietnam with hearing-impairement and work for the benefits of Americans with disabilities. Starring Ron Livingston, Melissa George and Michael Sheen. From the Direction of Steven Sawalich. Writers Bret McKinney, Mark Andrew Olsen, and Kelly Kennemer.

26. Romantic Island (2008) – A story of 3 Korean couple who travel separately to the Philippines. Directed by Kang Cheol-woo and written by Jeong-sub Lee. It starred Seon-gyun Lee, Soo-kyung Lee and Min-ki Lee.

27. I Come with the Rain (2009) – Starring Josh Hartnett, Tran Nu Yên-Khê and Byung-hun Lee. Directed by Anh Hung Tran and written by Anh Hung Tran. A story of an ex-US cop who turned to be a private eye in search of the missing billionaire’s son.

28. The Hunt for Eagle One (2006) – Directed by Brian Clyde and written by Michael Henry Carter, Michael Henry Carter.Starring Mark Dacascos, Theresa Randle and Rutger Hauer. Tells the story of a group of US Marines who are sent to rescue a captured US Marine and a Filipino Captain while stopping a group of Al-Qaeda-backed local rebels from launching biological weapons.

29. Mammoth (2009) – A story of a successful couple (a businessman and a surgeon) and their relationship with their Filipina maid. Written and Directed by Lukas Moodysson. It starred Gael García Bernal, Michelle Williams and Marife Necesito.

30. Subject : I Love You (2010) – Starring Briana Evigan, Jericho Rosales and Dean Cain. Written and directed by Francis dela Torre. It is an action-drama flick based on the I Love You virus.

31. Deep Gold (2011) – Directed by Michael Gleissner. Written by Michael Gleissner, Frederick Bailey and Karl Wallace.Starring Bebe Pham, Jaymee Ong and Michael Gleissner. A story about a free diver Amy Sanchez who went our her way to find out the mysterious vanishing of his boyfriend.

*Sources, and Wikipedia

Nothing: (Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank)

It was my first time to watch a movie in solitary. At first it was a lonely idea having been used to watch with company of friends, family or special someone. But with my interest to the film I was able to convinced myself, why not make a try. And that film who got me ‘de-virginized’ is the Eugene Domingo starrer “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” directed by Marlon Rivera and written by Chris Martinez.

Viewed last Saturday in SM Megamall Cinema, I was lucky not to experience what other early watchers have. Although the balcony was full packed, I was able to find nice seat on the lower area. As I seated and waited for the film to start several thoughts came out of my mind. Will my expectations with this movie be achieved? Is this film really worth it for me to watch it alone? What are those people in the back doing? Will the cinema became SRO later?

The movie came out late for some couple of minutes as it was scheduled at 3:30 but it didn’t start on that. At the onset, I got disappointed because the picture is kinda blurred. In fact I overheard someone saying “3D ba yan”. I couldn’t laugh out loud cause I don’t want to get into trouble so I just smiled and agreed with his thought. I don’t know if it’s with the film or just the screen of the cinema that it came out somewhat not clear. But as the movie progresses the resolution gets better and it started to fill in my expectations.

Originally slated in Cinemalaya Film Festival which features and honors Indie Film productions, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank is an escape from the usual Indie film genre. Although it still showed the signature indie shots of poverty stricken area in the metro having an opening shot of a child doing her thing on the street and people walking on filthy alleys of slum areas, the main theme of the film is a spoof to indie film makers who capitalizes on poverty as their ticket to international film festivals and recognitions.

Helmed by the seasoned comedienne Eugene Domingo with the bankable newcomers JM De Guzman and Kean Cipriano and support of Cai Cortes, the film tackled how Director Rainier (Cipriano) and producer Bingbong (De Guzman) with their PA Jocelyn (Cortes) handled the pressure of coming-up with a film that will take them to Cannes, Brussels and even to the Oscars. Their film project “Walang-Wala” tells the story of Mila who have 7 kids and are only fed by a single pack of noodles. Their plight will lead Mila to trade one of her child into white slavery. And that is where the story of this film repeatedly evolved.

The best about this film is that it is not boring. The writer and director brilliantly executed the story to bring in different concepts that kept the viewer entertained. I loved how they managed to abuse the specific “crucial” scenes of Walang-Wala and tackled it in different approaches as immortalized in the movie thru daydreams of Jocelyn. From heavy drama, to semi-documentary/action type and then musical. The musical concept  for me is so wonderful it kept everyone laughing. Can you image people in the slums dancing, and belting out songs about poverty and their situation. That for me is one of the best scenes in the entire movie. Another part of the film that made me laugh is the contract signing scene at the house of Eugene, it really showed how brilliant an actress she is especially when she did the 3 levels of acting;The Elevator acting, The TV Patrol acting and As Is Where Is acting. It also showed the quality of actors Cipriano and De Guzman are because they were able to carry the scene well opposite Domingo.But still the highlight of the whole story is the septic tank scene wherein Eugene, instead of her double, accidentally dropped on the septic tank. And without any dialogue with just scoring on the background and her facial expression, it marked.

After watching it I never doubt why it was given the recognitions and accolades on the Cinemalaya Film Festival. The sounds are good, the music is also nice, the acting of course is remarkable especially Eugene who really deserved the Best Actress trophy and the story is just awesome. Although I didn’t like the lighting cause there are scenes that are too dark, still the movie is worth it. As I’ve said earlier it’s an escape to the usual indie genre and the film makers did great in coming up with this concept. And I will not doubt if it will reap recognitions also in international festivals and live up to the dreams of Rainier, Bingbong and Jocelyn’s for “Walang-Wala”.

*Credits to the owner of the photo
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built ark; professionals built Titanic” – Anonymous