Robert Pattinson returns to big screen via ‘Queen of the Desert’

Robert Pattinson, best known for his role in the highly-successful young adult blockbuster “Twilight” films, essays a more mature role starring with Nicole Kidman and James Franco in the true-to-life story of trailblazing woman in “Queen of the Desert” directed by award-winning Werner Herzog.

Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell aptly referenced as the “Queen of the Desert,” bring to the big screen the true-life story of Bell, who was a British political officer and archaeologist but ultimately a trailblazer on her terms. The story details the extraordinary adventures of Bell wrestling with the conflicts of love and tragedy, enemy and friend, and foreign and familiar as she sought to understand and unify people from different cultures.

Gertrude Bell, a real-life British woman who was alternately a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. While only a commoner herself, Bell was nonetheless a kingmaker, helping found the modern states of Iraq and Jordan and installing their first rulers, King Abdullah and King Faisal.

Another legendary character that appears in this film is T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, played by Robert Pattinson. His role as T.E. Lawrence is a British Army officer whose writing earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, on whom David Lean’s 1962 classic blockbuster movie epic is based. Lawrence was a good friend to Bell over the years, as the duo helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in Jordan and Iraq. “I needed an Englishman, who still has the air of a schoolboy, but who is very intelligent. He plays Lawrence of Arabia, but at age 22, on an archaeological site. Pattinson is very good in this role. He is an intelligent man and the choice was quite natural”, says Herzog of casting Pattinson.

Pattinson says landing the role was “just crazy”. “I’ve been a fan of Herzog since I was 16. I met him for that job three years ago; I thought it was never going to happen and when it finally did, it was amazing. Riding around Morocco on a camel, it was pretty great,” says Pattinson in his previous interviews.

Of working with the director, Pattinson says, “It’s insane because he wrote the script as well and it’s one of the most difficult scripts I’ve ever read. Werner’s great. He’s exactly what you’d expect. He’s got so many amazing stories. He’s got insane confidence as well. I think that’s where all his creativity comes from. He’s got 100% belief in himself.”

From Axinite Digicinema, “Queen of the Desert” opens March 2, 2016 exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas.

‘Kung Fu Fanda 3’ sneak previews in PH cinemas Feb 29, Mar 1

Invading cinemas earlier than expected, “Kung Fu Panda 3” will have sneak previews (whole day) on February 29 (Monday) and March 1 (Tuesday) nationwide in the Philippines, in 2D and 3D screens.

The latest and third instalment in the global phenomenal franchise, “Kung Fu Panda 3” ruled the US box-office for weeks and is tracking almost US$200 million to-date. The latest kick-ass and hyper-action family-oriented animation brings back Jack Black as the loveable Po along with the Furious Five, Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie Pitt), Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Monkey (Jackie Chan) with their Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) who now brings the franchise into full-swing action mode as he takes on to be the Furious Five’s master.

Po, considered as the Dragon Warrior is now tasked by Master Shifu to take on the role of being the teacher to the Furious Five, a task Po is not so ready to take on, not initially at least. Making the transition from student to teacher isn’t the only upheaval in Po’s life. His long-lost biological father, Li Chan, has made his way to the Valley of Peace and to an emotional and hilarious reunion with Po. Acclaimed “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston joins the franchise to lend his voice to Li.

Meanwhile, Po and the Furious Five have yet to encounter their ultimate nemesis, Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons), once brothers-in-arms with Po’s father figure mentor Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), the ancient tortoise who now lives in the spirit realm. In the Spirit Realm, Kai has taken the chi from thousands of masters, collecting them as jade amulets on his belt. With this accumulated power, he defeats Oogway, breaks free from the Spirit Realm, and arrives on Earth. The only one who can defeat Kai is a master of chi, and the only teachers of chi are pandas – or so Li tells Po.

Black embraced the opportunity to revisit one of his most treasured movie characters and found it easy to reclaim his inner-Dragon Warrior. “I just go back to a younger me, when I was starting my career,” he explains. “That’s how I see Po – as young lover of kung fu. My love was rock and roll and acting, but Po and I share that unreserved passion. I, too, was a young Dragon Warrior,” he jokes.

“Kung Fu Panda 3” kicks in full blast in cinemas on its regular opening day on March 9 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D screens nationwide from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

MOVIE REVIEW: Zoolander 2 (2016)

“ZOOLANDER 2” Review
Co-written and directed by Ben Stiller

Zoolander 2 is the disaster sequel that should not have been. Dressed as the sequel to the 2001 film Zoolander, it offers nothing fresh as it ridiculously tries to exude the same wackiness of the original’s satirical inspection of the fashion industry and fails all the time.

Its story makes the perfect excuse to separate the two fashion icons in Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson) and setting them not just in seclusion but also in the brink of retirement. The reunion could have sparked interest and a few laughs, knowing how it would be riotous to keep them together, but remains on one side of a plateau ready for a downfall. With the inclusion of a sexy police in Penélope Cruz’s Valentina and a comical fashion maven in Kristen Wiig’s Alexanya Atoz, there is something else to notice other than the trip-inducing appearance of Will Ferrell as Mugatu.

After receiving a special invitation to join a major world fashion event in Rome, Italy, Derek and Hansel have the best trigger to redeem themselves and bring back the glory that they rightfully achieved in the 2001 film. When they are put on the runway, they both expect the same glory as before. However, much to their shame, they are presented with the words “Old” and “Lame” across their outfits. Those adjectives should have just stayed throughout the film even until they are recruited to save the fashion world to add more spice to the already bland story.

Zoolander 2 overwhelms itself with the cameo participations of a number of stars, adding reality to the kind of comedy that gravely attempts to be either self-aware or funny. The trailers could have been nice enough to take these surprises off the meters but these could actually entice the audience to give the film a chance.

Introductions to the bit players are good enough to serve the film a good means for short laughters (and ultimately a distraction every once in a while) but nothing more. As an opener, Justin Bieber sprints and parkours as he gets away from an operative, only to be cornered and gunned down in the most dramatic way possible—a much-feared picture for the fans and much-awaited dream-come-true for the haters. As if the multitude of gunshots are not enough to make him faint, Bieber pulls out his phone to take a selfie, channelling Zoolander’s trademark pose, and spends time in choosing a filter in Instagram before sharing it online. A surprise in the limelight is Benedict Cumberbatch as a gender-fluid model with long, straight, black hair that would make one scream “Whatever happened to Sherlock Holmes!” Also featured are Susan Boyle giving a middle finger at the Rome airport, a nagging and rumormongering Sting, and Kiefer Sutherland in desertland. Playing bit roles as well are fashion icons Anna Wintour, Valentino, Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Tommy Hilfiger, who are all on the lookout for the fountain of youth.

Director, co-writer, co-producer, and lead star Stiller appears to have been too engrossed in the idea of creating a follow-up, granted the reception of the original comedy 15 years since. All those years could have been spent in other materials and that idea could have just remained as is: an idea never to be realized for the sake of the world’s sanity. Zoolander 2 just turns out as one unrehearsed show in a colorful and vibrant and blazing runway, teeming with capable supermodels that awkwardly lose their balance at the crack of lame jokes and silly sketches. More than just an unforgettable film all in all, this sequel is simply a mish-mash of outmoded ideas—unfashionable and centuries too late.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Triple 9 (2016)

“TRIPLE 9” Review
Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Matt Cook

Triple 9 starts out with a question: What is a Triple 9? For the uninitiated, a Triple 9 is police code for “officer down,” and essentially diverts the majority of the force from any other activity so they can rush to the scene. And that’s exactly what our group of crooks will bank on to pull off a desperate and difficult heist.

Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Matt Cook, the story of Triple 9 revolves around a group composed of dirty cops and ex-military men led by Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an ex-Special Forces who shares a son with Elena (Gal Gadot), the sister of Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet). Irina is the head of a Russian-Israeli mob, which makes Michael’s custody battle for his son quite excruciatingly difficult.

After a heist that they were able to pull off in broad daylight, Irina asks the group to do another job to assist the release of her husband Vasili from prison. After Michael resists, he gets himself and his group the proper motivation to go through with the job after Irina has Russel (Norman Reedus), Michael’s mate back in Special Forces, suffocated with a plastic bag inside his own car—which essentially translates to a very short role for him in the film.

kate winslet in triple 9 movie

The group then proceeds to discuss how they are going to pull off the heist without getting too much trouble from the force. Cops Jorge Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) suggest they do a Triple 9, which means that they need to kill one of their own to pull off the heist. Russel’s brother, Gabe (Aaron Paul, who once again channels his Breaking Bad character’s impulsive, damaged, guilt-ridden, methed up persona) is heavily against the plan (he turns out to be an ex-cop), but nevertheless concedes to the majority.

Enters Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), a transfer cop who gets partnered with Marcus. He turns out to be incorruptible and becomes the perfect target for the group’s plan. His mentor and uncle, Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), also gets thrown into the mix after he becomes the head of the team that investigates the previous heist the group has made.

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For a film that has an all-star cast, Triple 9 falls short on quite a number of things. There’s not much character development and even Gal Gadot’s character is reduced to just a pretty face that shows up on screen from time to time. Chris’ wife, Michelle (Teresa Palmer), barely has any presence on screen, and her only memorable moment was a buttock shot. In fact, the shot was too dark, some people wouldn’t even recognize that it’s Teresa Palmer until you reach the end credits.

The pace of the film seems rushed, and some viewers might exit the theater with more questions that can never really be answered. For one, there is absolutely no mention how Michael has got involved with Elena and the Russian-Israeli mob or how their group was formed in the first place. Likewise, it’s quite incomprehensible why Kate Winslet’s character has to speak in English when her husband explicitly speaks to her in Russian. Rather strange, language-wise.

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Fans of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead might notice some obvious references to the aforementioned shows, whether it may be intentional or not. Not to spoil anything here, but you’ll pick it up pretty easily if you’re a fan of either show.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a gritty action film about people with questionable morals and loyalty, then this film might take the cake. Also, you might want to check your backseat when you get in the car after seeing it. You never know.

American crime thriller drama film Triple 9 is now showing in Philippine cinemas via OctoArts Films International.

triple 9 movie poster