Bruce Willis, Hayden Christensen star in action thriller ‘First Kill’

From the Producers of “Lone Survivor” and “2 Guns” comes action-thriller “First Kill” that puts the audience at the edge of your seats, scene after scene. The movie stars Golden Globe nominee (“Life as a House”) Hayden Christensen with iconic action star and Golden Globe winner (“Moonlighting”) Bruce Willis.

When Will Beamon (Christensen), a successful Wall Street broker finds out that his 11-year-old son Danny (Ty Shelton) is being bullied in school, he takes him on a hunting trip in a small rural town to grow their father-son relationship.

While hunting they stumble upon the assassination of young criminal, Levi Barett (Gethin Anthony) who was involved in a bank heist. Trying to save Barett, Will, takes him to their cabin, but after getting treatment, takes Danny hostage and uses him as leverage to retrieve the stolen money.

There he meets the town police chief, Howell (Willis) where they help each other by solving the kidnapping, finding out the truth about the botched murder attempt and retrieve the money from the bank heist.

The film revolves around a father-son relationship that tests the limits of the two but also the relationship of the son and the criminal. Forcing all men to adapt to extreme circumstances in order to survive.

The Hollywood Reporter praises the performance of Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) in the film saying “A British actor who displays both a credible Southern accent and an entertaining relish for his intriguing character,”.

Directed by Stephen C. Miller and screenplay by Nick Gordon. It co-stars Megan Leonard (The Life and Death of John Gotti), Tyler Jon Olson (Marauders) and Jesse Pruett (Vice, Precious Cargo).

“First Kill” opens August 2 in cinemas from Octo Arts Films International. Check the film’s trailer here: 

Unravel the ghost doll’s mystery in ‘Annabelle: Creation’

Annabelle is coming to theaters again, and this time audiences will be taken through the infamous doll’s very beginnings—from her first home in a little girl’s room to her first possession of a little girl’s soul, in New Line Cinema’s “Annabelle: Creation.”

After a chilling cameo in “The Conjuring,” followed by a starring role in her own film, it became clear to filmmakers that moviegoers were ready to uncover the origins of the doll that has both terrified and captivated them.

So, on the heels of his successful feature directing debut, last summer’s hit “Lights Out,” director David F. Sandberg was tapped to helm “Annabelle: Creation,” the next chapter in James Wan’s “Conjuring” universe produced by Peter Safran and Wan.

“I was already a big fan of ‘The Conjuring,’ it felt like a classic that stood out from a lot of other modern horror movies,” Sandberg says. “I remember I was really intrigued by that world and excited to do my own sort of classic take within the genre.”

“When I was directing the first ‘Conjuring’ and we were designing the Warrens’ haunted artifact room, I remember between myself, the studio and the producers, we all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘You know, it would be incredible if we could tell the stories of each of these objects,’” Wan recalls, referring to the collection the couple had confiscated over their years of paranormal investigation. “Even then, we felt that giving Annabelle that prologue opening was cool, but we sensed she had a lot more stories to tell. Every time that doll appeared on screen for just those few minutes, people shifted in their seats. Audiences react to her.”

To craft the story, the filmmakers turned to scribe Gary Dauberman, who had written “Annabelle” and was eager to dive back in. “The first film I wrote extended the mythology of the doll,” he says. “For this one, we wanted to dig into her history and see if we could find out how the evil started.

“Dolls are things that bring people joy, right?” he continues. “They’re given as gifts, passed down through generations. So I wanted to set that up for Annabelle by starting her out from a place of love—a happy family—in order to sort of lay the groundwork for a nice contrast to all the bad stuff that would follow.”

With a toy taking center stage, kids seemed an appropriate addition to the tale. While batting around more ideas, Dauberman relates, “It was James who had the idea to make the kids orphans, and from there I had my playing field. Then I just had to figure out what it is about this particular doll that makes it so haunting and evil.”

Sandberg says the sense of dread already attached to her carried over to the set of “Annabelle: Creation,” revealing, “even the actors were a little wary around her, asking me, ‘Do I have to touch the doll? I don’t really want to touch it,’” he smiles.

In fact, at the request of certain cast members, the production brought in a Catholic priest to bless the set and the prop Annabelle dolls, much as they did before cameras rolled on “The Conjuring 2” and the most recent production, “The Nun.”

Just in case.

Opening across the Philippines on August 26, 2017, “Annabelle: Creation” is a New Line Cinema presentation, an Atomic Monster/Safran Company production. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

MOVIE REVIEW: Kita Kita (2017)

Kita Kita is the story between Lea (Alessandra de Rossi), a Pinay tour guide based in Japan who is recovering from an inexplicably long “temporary” blindness that was caused by a heartbreak; and Tonyo (Empoy Marquez), the kabayan who lives across her house and pursues her patiently. Together, they explore tourist spots in and around Sapporo, places that were already familiar to Lea but experienced differently by her because of the many memories that she made with Tonyo, who promised “I will be your eyes” throughout their journey. The result is a tender, if bittersweet, story of a “blind” people who helped each other “see” the world and their hearts in cheerful pastel colors.

Let me start outright that the movie is far from being ideal. There is a lot in this movie that was not supposed to work. The editing and the ordering of the sequence seems jarring at places, the third act losing all the warm and fuzzy feeling that was built up to the final moments of the second act. The “countdown” sequences sometimes appear contrived, as another stab at the fashionable spoken-word poetry artform. There are important elements (like certain props or costumes) that figure prominently in the movie but which presence cannot be explained. More importantly, many people on social media have already pointed out their problems with the movie’s conceit, about Lea’s relationship with a stalker she barely knew and who seemed to take advantage of her disability…never mind that the film was directed by a woman (Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo) who, under the usual circumstances (and especially in the United States of America), would have already called the police.

And yet, it works, because Bernardo (or, rather, Marquez) imagines Tonyo as less of a psychopathic stalker, but more of that cultural trope in Philippine film and culture, the masugid na manliligaw (persistent suitor), always persistent—yes, a bit irritating—but still deferent to the object of his desires. (Think , for instance, of Michael V. pursuing Lara Morena in “Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko” [Octoarts Films, 1998], but without the histrionics and the caricature and the obsession.) While Tonyo himself is self-aware of his predicament, he still keeps himself within distance, so near yet so far from Lea. And because he knows his place, once Lea opens up to him little by little, Tonyo wins her heart and takes it with him, even in muted moments of her solitude. In Kita Kita, Marquez proves that he is more than just the sidekick or the buffoon in comedy films or TV shows; he is the charming, if unideal or unassuming, suitor who can sweep Lea and the female members of the audience to their feet. He has also demonstrated his mastery of comedic acting, even throwing de Rossi off-character and giggling in a few scenes that the filmmakers claimed were improvised.

Complementing Marquez’ performance is the understated delivery by the lithe Alessandra de Rossi, who dominates the film’s screen time. In Kita Kita, the solitary Lea is tender and helpless, but too vulnerable, afraid (or rather unwilling) to ask for help (with an “SOS” door sign for her thought bubble). Initially impatient at Tonyo’s pursuit like anyone who is nililigawan (being courted), she mellows down and follows along Tonyo’s beat, their feet moving along the same dance (and even soaked together in a foot spa). de Rossi draws the audience inside places that cannot be seen—inside her heart—and this allows her to take the audience for a ride, from sweet little moments to her melancholic musings. Whatever shortcomings this film may have are overshadowed by Marquez and de Rossi’s carefree and enjoyable performance.

Marquez’ and de Rossi’s performances also work not just because of what they did in the film, but in what they (and the film) did not do. It’s interesting to note that on its second week, Kita Kita was showing along with another romcom (Finally Found Someone) and yet—at least in my experience—the seats for the former were already sold out much faster than the latter, even hours before our selected time slot. And after seeing the film, we understand why audiences would like to come back for more. There is little to none of the cliches that we’ve associated with hugot films: the self-referential lines that talk of sweeping generalities about the experience of love or heartbreaks rather than the character’s experience themselves (e.g. “bakit ganon, kapag nagmamahal ka….?”, “bakit ganun yung mga taong minamahal natin….?”), lines that sound good on film but you never really hear people say in real life; the lead characters who mope as a form of self-indulgence; the requisite supporting characters whose primary role is to feed the main characters’ self-indulgence; and the almost-religious insistence to a happy ending (or at least a near-happy ending). Kita Kita takes the risk of eschewing most these conventions, and instead of feeding the characters cheesy lines and unnecessary support characters, Bernardo lets Lea and Tonyo enjoy themselves, with each sequence give them space for their characters to grow. It is easy to see that Marquez and de Rossi enjoyed each other’s company in making the film, and we have also seen how the audience enjoyed watching the film as well.

The result is that the film feels less of a typical Filipino romcom or (as radio anchor MJ Felipe claims in his DZMM radio show) a Koreanovela, but more of a contemporary Japanese romance, dialogues, scenery and all. For all its shortcomings, Kita Kita feels like a fresh whiff of flowers in springtime, a lighthearted film without the trappings of the conventional hugot movie, and whose memory will linger on like a dance waiting to be danced again and again.

TBA Studios announces exciting lineup of upcoming movies

From TBA Studios, the independent film company that brought highly-acclaimed movies such as ‘Heneral Luna,’ ‘Sunday Beauty Queen,’ and ‘Bliss,’ comes an exciting lineup of upcoming movies as formally announced on its grand launch Wednesday, July 26, at the Marquee Tent of EDSA Shangri-La Manila.

TBA Studios executive producers E.A. Rocha and Fernando Ortigas opened the event with major announcements on the company’s most recent partnership deals.

The group has entered into a strategic partnership with the country’s leading telecommunications company, Globe Telecom. TBA Studios and Globe Studios are co-producing several projects including ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,’ the much awaited follow-up to Jerrold Tarog’s blockbuster hit ‘Heneral Luna.’ Globe is also going to provide marketing support for ‘Birdshot,’ an official entry to the forthcoming Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, to ensure that the critically acclaimed film will reach more audience when it opens on August 16.

Other exciting film projects unveiled by TBA Studios include Carlo Obispo’s ‘1-2-3,’ a gripping family drama, which opened last year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and ‘Women of the Weeping River’ which took home top prizes in the recently concluded 40th Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Mindanaoan filmmaker Sheron Dayoc. Another highly anticipated project is the chilling crime thriller ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’ directed by Raya Martin, based on the best selling novel of F.H. Batacan.

TBA Studios also confirmed that the film adaptation of the popular graphic novel ‘The Mythology Class’ is already in development. The official announcement was made b its creator Arnold Arre and director Tarog, who would helm the project.

Cast members and directors of TBA Studios’ upcoming and past movie projects attended the festivities. Also present were the different government agency partners as well as corporate sponsors, who helped TBA Studios along the way.

Projects In Development

The Mythology Class

Director: Jerrold Tarog | Genre: Fantasy

A young girl who holds a passionate love for Filipino myths, finds herself face to face with mythological creatures. Together with her new found friends, she embarks on a journey to fight supernatural creatures who are wreaking havoc in the human world. Based on a graphic novel by Arnold Arre.

Quezon VS. Aguinaldo [Working Title Only]

Director: Jerrold Tarog | Genre: Historical Epic

The third and final installment of Jerrold Tarog’s historical trilogy.

An American Crucifixion

Director: E.A. Rocha | Genre: Thriller Drama

An American carpetbagger in the early days of Philippine Republic is involved in smuggling, racketeering and making enemies within the Philippine and U.S. governments not to mention the Chinese Mafia. When a terrible thing happens to his family, he offers himself to be crucified on Good Friday as an act of redemption.

The Color Of Fire

Director: TBD | Genre: World War II Love Story Drama

Manila 1940. A young American naval officer is engaged to the daughter of a powerful Filipino-Spanish family during the golden age of Philippine Commonwealth under the United States. With the arrival of World War II, the lovers are separated-he joins the guerillas and she becomes head of the family during the Japanese occupation of Manila, where utter horror and massive destruction reign.


Director: JP Habac | Genre: Comedy
Writers: Doy Del Mundo and Ida Del Mundo

Poignant and funny, this is the music-filled tale of three male seniors in a Home for the Aged who come out of retirement to perform as drag queens, just so they can pay for the Home after the death of their landlord.

WATCH: Stephen King’s child-killing clown is back in main trailer for new adaptation of ‘It’

“You’ll float too.” Watch the official main trailer for New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “It,” based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name.

View the trailer at below and watch “It” in Philippine cinemas on September 7, 2017.

When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

Directed by Andrés Muschietti (“Mama”), “It” stars Bill Skarsgård (“Allegiant”) as the story’s central villain, Pennywise. An ensemble of young actors also star in the film, including Jaeden Lieberher (“Midnight Special”), Jeremy Ray Taylor (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”), Sophia Lillis (“37”), Finn Wolfhard (TV’s “Stranger Things”), Wyatt Oleff (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Chosen Jacobs (upcoming “Cops and Robbers”), Jack Dylan Grazer (“Tales of Halloween”) and Nicholas Hamilton (“Captain Fantastic”).

Muschietti is directing “It” from a screenplay adapted by Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman. Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg and Barbara Muschietti are producing, with Marty P. Ewing, Doug Davison and Jon Silk serving as executive producers.

A presentation of New Line Cinema, “It” will be released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company.

Columbia Pictures picks ‘Patay Na si Hesus’ for distribution

Columbia Pictures is back to local film distribution via comedy movie “Patay na si Hesus,” starring Cannes Film Festival 2016’s Best Actress (“Ma’ Rosa”) Jaclyn Jose.

Home to blockbuster films such as “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the Resident Evil franchise, and the James Bond movies “Spectre” and “Skyfall,” the Sony-owned company marks its return to local movie distribution with the crowd-pleasing motion picture produced by T-Rex Entertainment Productions.

“Columbia Pictures Philippines is proud to be named the distributor of ‘Patay na si Hesus.’ Columbia has always been supportive of the local movie industry and we see this as a step to getting more involved in the development of Filipino films. We couldn’t be happier to be working with the folks at T-Rex in bringing this film to audiences nationwide,” says Columbia Pictures Philippines’ managing director Christopher Sy.

With the scenic route from Cebu to Dumaguete as backdrop, the movie serves up an unforgettably riotous road trip in which a single mother (Jose) drives her children in a cramped mini mini-van so they can pay their final respects to their father before he is laid to rest. The movie is in Bisaya and Tagalog. To prepare for her role, Jose took Cebuano lessons several weeks before the shoot.

Early audience reviews are in, and they are ecstatic.

“Sige kog katawa! (I couldn’t stop laughing!) Irreverent, funny, and with just the right amount of kookiness,” says Jerrold Tarog, director of the groundbreaking hit “Heneral Luna.”

“I can make a top 10 list of best Pinoy road movies and this would be up there… maybe number 1,” gushes Jade Castro, director of “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington.”

“Nakakaaliw, nakakatawa! Ang galing ng mga artista! Gusto kong magroad trip kasama nila,” says Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, writer-director of “Kita Kita.”

Respected screenwriter Ricky Lee notes that the film “celebrates the joyous imperfections of every Filipino family” and praises its “superb cast of quirky yet lovable characters.” It is, he says, a movie “that will leave you crying and laughing at the same time.”

Directed by young Cebuano filmmaker Victor Villanueva, “Patay na si Hesus” is one of the 12 films selected by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) for its first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), which starts on August 16 in cinemas nationwide.

New trailer, poster of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ revealed at Comic-Con

The new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok has debuted in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con along with a new poster!

Feast your eyes on the new trailer and poster below. Be sure to catch Thor: Ragnarok when it thunders into Philippine cinemas on November 3!

Directed by Taika Waititi from a script by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom and Eric Pearson, Thor: Ragnarok picks up after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

The film also stars Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Thor: Ragnarok is distributed by the Walt Disney Company (Philippines).

MOVIE REVIEW: Dunkirk (2017)

An icy, chilling war film plucking threads of an avant garde, art house feature with sharp elements of impressionism, Dunkirk proves to be a new and different addition to Christopher Nolan’s filmography of grandiose epics.

“All we did was survive.”
“That’s enough.”

Survival as a form of heroism: a very prominent theme of Dunkirk that is not very often discussed in war epics, perhaps ever. The film goes down to the most basic, most fundamental yet most overlooked premise of a war film.

The greatest spectacle of the film is that it’s almost as blank as a clean canvass, showing no lengthy back stories from any of the characters, suggesting how generic, yet how survival is everything to any being. Nolan’s technique of casting almost greatly unknown actors, and hundreds of faceless extras paves way of showcasing a war’s authenticity, and how fighting for life and death greatly applies to any human caught in a maze of catastrophe that doesn’t seem to begin and end. This is a very slim, risky wire as it could easily go almost emotionally distant not knowing these characters on an intimate level, yet it highlights the importance of life without the depth of intimacy or personal agenda. He purposely built the persona of a soldier in a rather one-dimensional box, limited to only one thought: to live. That itself is perhaps the most honest that a war film could ever showcase without being romanticized: the hunger to survive.

The film is so quiet, you could almost hear the clock ticking, showing the minutes that soldiers await for their fate; occasionally, it gives contrasting roars of fireballs and rampaging attacks, establishing how empty and cold the need of survival could get — no subplots, no drama, no soap-ish lines of having the unpredictable fortune or misfortune of a war’s aftermath: it’s just an intimate conversation between the psyche of a soldier, and the carnage of bombs flown onto them.

Christopher Nolan’s famous non-linear narrative technique works well in hemming three important features: the sky, representing defense and attack; the sea, representing hope and persistence for escape; and the land, representing the endless hours of entrapment. Nolan created a universe as basic as the atmosphere of a war zone, yet is everything compacted into one. The meaning of looking up, looking down, and looking back as an impressionist and allegorical play between the wounded, the enemies and the help.

The film borrows several aesthetics from the colors of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004), the shivering stillness of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) and the non-stop roar of Howard Hughes’ silent war epic Hell’s Angels (1930). The palette of Dunkirk is as cool as ice, but as ablaze as burning jet fuel.

The best element of the film is its eerie score composed by the great Hans Zimmer. For a film that’s almost as quiet as the ocean, Zimmer exhausted every second of the movie with his haunting music that jars the mind, almost making you tip toe on a rope of fire as every bullet shot and every bomb thrown is the judgment of every hero’s life. This perhaps is one of the best original scores ever produced on cinema.

The cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is as flawless as the film’s picturesque sky, projecting fighter jets that intricately scratches the clouds with its smoke traces. The production design is a great catapult where the narrative of a genius sits down. Every light and every darkness speak volumes, and not a single production element has gone to waste. Every object bears meaning and importance to the film’s overall intentions.

To those who closely follow the repertoire of films Nolan has given, from Memento (2000) to Interstellar (2014), will ultimately find Dunkirk as something new, yet is the closest definition of a directorial masterpiece. Given how contemporary the film’s approach is, this film won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it doesn’t change the fact that Dunkirk, indeed, is an unprecedented monumental achievement in its genre, or even in the world of cinema.

5 out of 5 stars

Long live the king in new ‘Black Panther’ poster

Marvel Studios has just revealed a new poster for Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” during the San Diego Comic-Con.

Check out the poster below and watch Black Panther in Philippine cinemas in February 16, 2018.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay.

Marvel’s Black Panther will be distributed in the Philippines by The Walt Disney Company (Philippines).

WATCH: ‘Justice League’ comic-con sneak peek unites DC superheroes

Make way for justice. Warner Bros. Pictures has just unveiled the Comic-Con Sneak Peek of its motion picture event for 2017, the action-adventure Justice League.

View the trailer below and watch Justice League in Philippine cinemas starting Nov. 16, 2017.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Justice League features Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa).

Justice League is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.