‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ review: What fanboy dreams are made of

Pokémon Detective Pikachu instantly evokes a sense of wonder and excitement made palpable by its goofy charms and photo-realistic details.

It won’t take a while for viewers to get sucked into Ryme City – a utopian metropolis where wild Pokémons and humans peacefully coexist together. For the uninitiated, these Pokémons are huggable pets that come in different shapes and sizes. For fanboys – including this writer who has played multiple versions of the game back in the day – it’s basically playing “Who’s that Pokémon?” as we try to spot as many as we can in any given frame. Much of the world building here is how the film naturally integrates these adorable creatures in mundane human activities. Look, there’s a squad of Squirtles putting out a fire! A Jigglypuff lulling its customer to sleep! A Ludicolo casually working as a barista! I can easily turn this review into a listicle of all the Pokémons that appeared in this film. Detective Pikachu is an obvious nostalgia bait, especially for the children of 90’s who have maintained their love for the Nintendo property. There’s something magical in seeing a proper live-action Pokémon film for the first time.

Mr. Mime is a scene-stealer in this movie. Oh, and his “hair” is actually a pair of horns. Let that sink in.

The casual moviegoer won’t be alienated however, even if the only character they know here is the yellow furball known as Pikachu. Bringing in a less sarcastic brand of humor, Ryan Reynolds doing the voicework, proves to be a silly yet inspired casting choice. Even if you don’t have the faintest idea how this world operates, viewers sure do know how to appreciate a good joke. When it comes to the fun department, Reynolds and director/co-writer Rob Letterman is quite, to borrow a catchphrase, “super effective.” And since this is a family friendly movie, Pikachu does not curse and we forget for a while that this is practically Deadpool’s voice talking to us.

Hot on the trails. Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and Tim (Justice Smith)

It’s a massive gamble not to include familiar faces like Ash Ketchum, Misty or Brock, but the core success of this franchise has always been the intimate friendship between the Pokémons and their trainers, regardless which character leads the story. In Detective Pikachu, the eponymous electric mouse teams up with Tim Goodman (Justice Smith brings warmth to his role) whose estranged father Harry is either dead or gone missing. Also for some reason, only Tim has the ability to understand all the words coming out from Pikachu’s mouth. Rounding up this buddy comedy/mystery is an intrepid TV intern Lucy (Kathryn Newton) who fancies herself as an investigative reporter. She’s paired up with arguably the second worst Pokémon next to a Magikarp – Psyduck. The poor fella has to listen to spa music so it’s head won’t explode in confusion.

Facing an unknown threat. Psyduck and Lucy (Kathryn Newton).

As the crew unravel the truth behind Harry’s disappearance, they stumble upon underground battles, experimentation facilities and an overpowered Mewtwo. As a kiddie detective noir, the whole experience is refreshing and easy to follow. Sure, at some point, the film struggles to deliver a coherent story especially once the twists of the third act fail to make sense. But with all the dazzling stunts happening on screen, we can easily brush off this forgivable flaw.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu undeniably breaks the video game adaptation curse. In fact, it’s the best one out there yet! On an aesthetic level, it’s a lush and lovely imagination of an alternate world. Like Pikachu, it comes out as a beacon of joy and hope. It’s breezy story leaves more themes for exploration and I can’t wait to revisit this place again. In case it’s not clear, I would like to order a cinematic universe please.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Rob Letterman, written by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman and Derek Connolly, Pokémon Detective Pikachu stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Rita Ora, Karan Soni and Josette Simon. 104 minutes. Based on the game ‘Detective Pikachu’ by The Pokémon Company. 109 minutes. Rated PG.

Ryan Reynolds voices quirky, fast-talking ‘Detective Pikachu’

Pikachu speaks! And that’s just for starters in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu.”

As fans everywhere know, Pikachu is a Pokémon, and no matter how expressive Pokémon can be with their features, actions, body language and special powers, they are linguistically limited to stating their own names.  Inexplicably, such is not the case with this one particular, pint-sized, fast-moving individual in the deerstalker cap: Detective Pikachu.

It might be his caffeine habit, a raging case of amnesia or just his electric personality, but this bright yellow P.I. talks a blue streak. Just try and shut him up.

The fact is, when the story opens, Detective Pikachu is up to his fuzzy little face in mysteries so deep and confounding that he can’t even remember how they started, and he’s not going to rest until he figures it all out.  Who is he?  What happened to his partner, Harry Goodman?  And why is he suddenly able to communicate in human language so that one man—one specific young man, that is, Harry’s son Tim—can actually understand him?   

“Detective Pikachu’s got some sass,” says Ryan Reynolds, who brings his spot-on timing, style and irreverent humor to the film’s title role. “He’s got some serious attitude. He’s really a larger-than-life-character, but he has to be.  I mean, he looks like a little cotton ball.  Imagine if someone flash-fried me and injected me into this little yellow guy; that’s basically what it’s like.  

“I’ve worked on films with CG characters before but I’ve never seen this kind of interaction  on this scale,” he adds.  “It’s pretty special.  When you see this fully rendered version of a living, breathing Pikachu on screen, you feel like you could just reach out and touch him and cuddle him.  But don’t cuddle him.  I can’t be responsible for what he might do.”

And Reynolds’ vocal performance pulls no punches. “There’s something inherently fun about that big personality and Ryan’s voice coming from this tiny, incredibly cute creature.  It seems like a disconnect, but it’s completely natural,” director Rob Letterman offers.

Since the movie depends upon their dynamic, the filmmakers sought to give Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith ample opportunity to establish a rapport.  Reynolds and Smith recorded their scenes together in the weeks prior to the physical shoot—an uncommon approach, but one both actors appreciated.  Reynolds then remained on set with Smith for the beginning of physical production, feeding him Detective Pikachu’s dialogue via an earpiece, to draw on that connection, after which Smith continued filming with a stand-in reading the lines.  

Says Reynolds, “I do a lot of voice work, and this was especially fun because, unlike most situations, I got to interact directly with Justice.”  As for being on set afterwards, he concludes, “I wanted to be there to establish a kind of rhythm.  A lot of the time we’re talking over each other and we’re a bit like the Odd Couple in a sense, so you need to get that right.”

In Philippine cinemas Thursday, May 9, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.  #DetectivePikachu #PikaPika

About “POKEMON Detective Pikachu”

The first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and the most successful media franchise of all time.  

Fans everywhere can now experience Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other.  The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon characters, each with its own unique abilities and personality.

The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened.  Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

Directed by Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps,” “Monsters Vs. Aliens”), “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” also stars Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) as Tim; Kathryn Newton (“Lady Bird,” TV’s “Big Little Lies”) as Lucy, a junior reporter following her first big story; and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“Godzilla,” “The Last Samurai”) as Lt. Yoshida.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2 revs up more on meta-references, violence and attitude. It simply won’t back down up until the post-credits.

Deadpool 2

If the first Deadpool movie made history by breaking down the fourth-wall in the superhero film genre, this sequel outdoes its predecessor by revving up on everything that fans expect of it: meta-references and gratuitous violence. So much of these, that this time, you can almost feel its portrayer, Ryan Reynolds eating popcorn beside you, giving you rib nudges all throughout. And with the amount of bloodshed and mockery thrown in this film, expect some lasting bruises on your way out.

By design, Deadpool should make fun of other films and its first victim is no other than Wolverine (it’s no secret when the trailer explicitly markets this film with a line, “from the studio that killed Wolverine”). Then, we are served with a stylish, James Bond-inspired opening sequence featuring Celine Dion’s original song, “Ashes.” This is played along Deadpool’s signature fake credits (“directed by one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick”) to remind us that this sequel can be self-deprecating too. It is Marvel’s slowly-diminishing competitor, DC Comics who takes the biggest shade of all and past the comic-book genre, even B-films like Human Centipede can’t escape the travesty. Deadpool 2 simply won’t back down, up until the post-credit scene that everyone’s been raving about.

READ MORE: Final trailer for ‘Deadpool 2’ pokes fun at superhero movies

But the meta-ness of its humor is only one aspect it. It’s the raunchy side that induces you to laugh your guts out. It is indeed excessive—and reprising screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (and now joined by Reynolds himself) could be trying hard for all we care—but it doesn’t matter. Wade Wilson/Deadpool is not a protagonist who acts like a comedian desperately wanting his audience to laugh. He is a hilarious madman who draws comedy out of tragedy after being tortured in the first film. Hence, he can’t help himself. It all works.

The most important thing is Deadpool’s humor, no matter how vulgar and edgy it is, it does not rely on racism, sexism, homophobia and other real-life offensive themes. In fact, the film goes in the opposite direction and mocks those who tolerate them. Deadpool calls his motley crew as “forward-thinking and gender-neutral,” a character comments on the discrimination of plus-sized heroes in Hollywood, and so on.

Deadpool 2 X-Force
The X-Force (L to R): Domino (Zazie Beetz), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) and Bedlam (Terry Crews).

Along with old-timers Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Weasel (TJ Miller), Dopinder (Karan Soni) and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), DP2 returns with more wonderfully diverse cast members. After conducting hilarious quick-cut interviews, Deadpool assembles his not-so-derivative team called the X-Force crew: Bedlam (Terry Crews), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Peter the human (Rob Delaney), and Domino (Zazie Beetz) who cinematically shines with her luck-manipulation skills.

We learn from the get-go that Deadpool and his long-time girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) plan to have a baby of their own and with a troubled fireball-hurling kid Russell/FireFist (Julian Dennison) stepping on the picture, he test-runs his capacity to be a father. The X-Force must protect the kid from a time-hopping terminator-esque Cable. The latter being played by Josh Brolin fresh from his Thanos role so we can expect more jokes in this department. As a whole, DP2 actually works as an antidote from the harrowing end of the recently released Avengers: Infinity War.

Josh Brolin as cyberkinetic soldier Cable

Defying morals is part of Deadpool’s charm and as we can see here, Deadpool convinces Russell that killing will set him to the wrong path. Yet, he and his team does this by slicing and dicing a lot of bodies along the way. It’s ultra-violent as ever than before but it works hand-in-hand with the humor and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos. These are all punchlines in this bloody raucous good-time.

Director David Leitch (who I also recently learned is a former stuntman) knows his angles well and employs neat camera tricks here. But what makes DP2 stand out even more is the use of its soundtrack. When is the last time that you heard songs like Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’, Air Supply’s ‘All Out of Love’ or Annie’s ‘Tomorrow’ used in a fight scene? Only Deadpool has the craziness to do so.

On the other hand, Reynolds’ attitude and charisma permeates through his mask that he almost immortalizes himself with this character (much like Robert Downey Jr. does in his Iron Man). He has a crazy level of  hyper-awareness that he can point out obligatory tropes that even DP2 is also guilty of doing. He throws in comments like, “big CGI fight coming up!” “that’s just lazy writing,” or “if we finish this mission, we can skip the third act and eat chimichangas after.” It indicts pop culture and questions mainstream taste, showing gruesome stuff while asking its viewers, “Are you enjoying this? Of course, you are!” Nothing is sacred here, except the comedy itself.

Deadpool with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic)

On an entirely different note, I still have my reservations whether or not to officially include Deadpool in the X-Men franchise. How do you put a character in a universe that does not use fourth-wall breaking comments? Will he start calling Professor X as Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy? That being said, I think it is best for his character to stay out of it. But even if the executives decide to go in that direction, it can still be interesting how they do it. Marvel, please don’t screw this up in the future.

And now to answer the question of diminishing returns. Does DP2 wear me down after using more of the same technique? At this point, not yet. The strain occasionally shows but for the most part it pays off with big laughs with an emotional core strong enough to keep it together. Deadpool 2 can be as subversive as it can be but deep inside it’s just a comic book movie that wants to be loved. The bottomline is, if you enjoyed the first Deadpool film, you will most certainly enjoy this sequel too.


4.5 out of 5 stars


About Deadpool 2

After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the Yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox, Deadpool 2 is now showing worldwide on May 18, 2018 starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Stefan Kapicic and Eddie Marsan.

Directed by David Leitch from a screenplay written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds (R-16). Runtime: 119 minutes.

 

WATCH: Final trailer for ‘Deadpool 2’ pokes fun at superhero movies

It’s all for fun after all in the final trailer for “Deadpool 2!” Ryan Reynolds is so back after breaking box office records via superhero character “Deadpool” and this time the Merc with the Mouth’s movie is bigger and more badass than ever.

David Leitch, director of “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde,” is at the helm to bring more stunts, more style and more action. “Deadpool” debuted in February 2016 with the biggest R-rated opening of all time and went on to be the highest-grossing R-rated film in history with more than $750-million globally. “Deadpool” was also honored as the first live-action superhero movie to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the Comedy or Musical category, and Ryan Reynolds was also nominated as Best Actor.

Along with the returning and new cast in “Deadpool 2,” Academy Award-nominated actor Josh Brolin also stars as the time-traveling Cable, a warrior infected with the techno-organic virus that renders him cybernetic and the most highly-anticipated screen personas in recent history.

Also starring in “Deadpool 2” are Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, the love of Wade Wilson’s life; T.J. Miller is back as Deadpool’s confidante, Weasel; Brianna Hildebrand returns too Negasonic Teenage Warhead; Leslie Uggams as Blind Al; likewise, Andre Tricoteux returns with Colossus’ body performance. Rounding up the cast of “Deadpool 2” are Zazie Beetz as Domino, Julian Dennison as Russell/Firefist, Shioli Kutsuna as Yukio, Karan Soni as Dopinder, Eddie Marsan as the Headmaster, Jack Kesy as Black Tom Cassidy, Terry Crews, Lewis Tan, Bill Skarsgard and Rob Delaney.

From 20th Century Fox, “Deadpool 2” opens May 16 in the Philippines and will have previews on May 15 nationwide starting 5:00pm (check theatres near you!). Also available in IMAX screens nationwide.

 

WATCH: It’s Ryan Reynolds vs Josh Brolin in full trailer for ‘Deadpool 2’

Red-dy yourselves as 20th Century Fox unravels more in the latest full trailer of what’s in store in the hugely anticipated “Deadpool 2” that will open on May 16 in Philippine cinemas.

Starring Ryan Reynolds as the returning titular character, “Deadpool 2” trailer explodes with familiar and new characters, friends and fiends of Wade Wilson aka Deadpool in a series of non-stop, high-octane action.

An action adventure unlike any other in the hero universe, Deadpool, the Merc with the Mouth as seen in the trailer, assembles his own motley bunch to help him fight enemies and save it against the wrath of the dreadful Cable, played by Josh Brolin.

Directed by David Leitch, a filmmaker, stuntman and stunt coordinator, “Deadpool 2” also stars Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Karan Soni, Zazie Beetz and Julian Denison.

Mark your calendars red on May 16, the day that “Deadpool 2” opens in Philippine cinemas nationwide.

Ryan Reynolds back with ‘Deadpool’ writers for sci-fi thriller ‘Life’

Deadpool himself Ryan Reynolds stars in Columbia Pictures’ new terrifying sci-fi thriller Life as astronaut Rory Adams, an engineer and specialist in space walking. “This script had such a degree of reality and a feeling of constant tension,” says Reynolds, who stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson.

The film reunites Reynolds with his Deadpool writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and his Safe House director Daniel Espinosa. “It begins with an air of discovery that turns to a tension that permeates the whole film as we learn more and more about this thing that we’ve put on board the ISS,” he says.

Life is about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

“Rhett and Paul wrote a very scary, well-paced thriller, but it’s really fed by their investment in the characters,” says producer Julie Lynn. “These six astronauts are smart, industrious, tenacious, hardworking – and when things get hairy we care about what’s going to happen to them.”

Offers Reynolds, “Some of us are a little more excited than others. Some are incredibly aggressive, others more conservative. And these ideas are mixed together – but like a lot of human actions, we push things a little farther than we should.”

Reynolds’ character, Adams, is the spacewalk specialist, and he’ll tell you just how cool that is. (It’s f-in cool.) Just charming enough to keep from being called cocky, and way more handsome than he needs to be, Adams is the rock star of the mission.

“A mission specialist is a fancy way of saying he’s a mechanic who understands how the ship works, how to fix anything that breaks,” says Reynolds. “He’s also the guy that specializes in the spacewalk and he operates the Canadarm, a system that they use to capture the Mars capsule that is hurdling through space.”

Shooting for the space station scenes, the filmmakers created a zero G effect for the actors with harnesses and other effects. Reynolds says that while on Earth, it takes a good deal of force to stop momentum or push off of an object, it takes only a slight touch in space. “If you’re truly weightless, just applying the slightest amount of pressure in one direction will send your entire body in another direction,” he says. “The trick is not to land. Even if you’re grabbing onto something as you stop, just touching it will actually make you stop. I spoke to some astronauts going into this and they were saying that you can actually get stuck in the middle of a room, and you would perish there unless somebody comes and pushes you to a grab handle.”

On the whole, Reynolds found zero gravity an exciting challenge. “We had to do a lot of training,” he recalls. “We had an obstacle course set up in the weeks leading up to shooting where we played around on the wires and learned what the wires are capable of doing and how much we could move around. There’s no sequence in the movie where we’re not weightless. We were always on wires, always floating and slightly moving all the time. It can feel bizarre, because you get invested emotionally in the scene, and then suddenly you forget to move, you forget to float. It was a challenge, but it’s fun playing an astronaut.”

Still showing in select cinemas across the Philippines, Life is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

CIA’s top secrets unlocked from dead man’s mind in ‘Criminal’

Hollywood’s brightest young and veteran stars Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman star in “Criminal” – the story of the right man in the wrong body.

“Criminal” finds an ex-convict’s brain being implanted the memories of a top CIA agent in a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot. At first, it appears the operation has failed. But Jerico (Costner), unsure of what has happened to him and in fear for his life, escapes and finds himself on the run. At large in London, Jerico begins to experience memories that are clearly not his own – memories that take him into an overwhelming world of family, love and responsibility that he’s never known. As Jerico enters a secretive world of international spies, ingenious hackers and powerful tyrants, he roams a London he’s never known but mysteriously can navigate.

Says director Ariel Vromen: “Our main character, Jerico, is a person who starts with no feelings and no real emotions and then he goes on an incredible journey. He acquires all these memories from CIA agent Bill Pope’s mind and he has to react to an entirely new view of life. Because of the massively high stakes, that core emotional story is surrounded by a plot that has great suspense and lots of action. That really appealed to me.”

Leading the film’s star-studded cast is award winning Kevin Costner in one of his most challenging and unusual roles. As Jerico, Costner had to inhabit two minds at once – that of a hard-bitten, unfeeling criminal capable of anything and that of a patriotic spy and family man driven to be a good man – and find the ways they fuse in one man’s reeling mind.

Costner says of his reaction to the script: “I’m always attracted to projects when they are multi-layered and this story is very much that. “Criminal” is definitely an action movie but I responded most strongly to the complexity of my character, to all the confusion and turmoil that is scrambled up inside Jerico as he comes to terms with what he is experiencing.”

He goes on: “When we meet Jerico, he is in prison and has spent most of his life there. An injury he suffered as a child rendered him a sociopath, so he has no understanding that the things he does are wrong. He just reacts, sometimes violently, sometimes humorously. He is so unpredictable that he is not even allowed near anyone in jail. But after his operation, Jerico starts going back and forth between who he was and who Bill Pope is. He’s very mixed-up and suddenly he’s comprehending things and having sensations that he’s never experienced before on every level. And that’s what I had to figure out how to portray.”

Gadot was drawn to Jill’s own transformation in the course of the story. “With Bill, Jill had settled for a convenient life, staying with a husband who she had trouble communicating with because it was comfortable. When her husband dies, Jill has no choice other than to fight for the truth,” Gadot observes. Her character has to span both fear and inexplicable attraction in her relationship with Jerico, a process Gadot says Costner helped tremendously. “Kevin brings his own charm to the hardcore character of Jerico. He is an incredible actor and by the end of the film, he goes through an amazing transformation.”

Gadot notes that part of the fun of her character is that she is in the dark about who Jerico is and what he wants, though the audience knows. “My character is suddenly confronted by a total stranger who knows every detail about her. She is mystified and the audience will be on the edge of their seats because there is so much going on at every level.”

“Criminal” opens in cinemas this April 13, 2016 from OctoArts Films International.

MOVIE REVIEW: Criminal (2016)

“Criminal” Review
Directed by Ariel Vromen
Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisber

What with the already saturated market for mind-altering/wiping/reading, memory-recovering movies, Criminal gets on the bandwagon to amuse us once again with the premise of making something unfeasible possible. The film is director Ariel Vromen’s first venture into big-budget films after dabbling in a number of music videos, short films, and documentaries. From the looks of it, he might still need to take thing up a notch.

Stationed in London, field agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) arrives on the screen with an immediate need for rescuing. Sensing he’s being followed by the thugs of Spanish industrialist and anarchist Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Jordi Mollà), he hastily tries to avoid capture by going above and below Central London’s walkways, all the while being monitored by Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), CIA London’s Head of Operations. 

What Heimbahl wants from him is the location of his ex-operative Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt), a Dutch hacker (creatively nicknamed “The Dutchman”) who was able to infiltrate the depths of U.S. Military technology, allowing anyone wielding his Wormhole  program to launch any of the U.S.’s nukes from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. Apparently, The Dutchman made a deal with Bill to get asylum from the U.S., to ensure his absolute protection from Heimbahl. What follows is one of the fastest and most absolute deaths for any character I’ve seen so far. At least Ned Stark lasted a full season.

Criminal writers Douglas Cook and David Weisber, who worked before in a number of films like The Rock (might bring memories of Sean Connery’s Shhcoddish accent), decided to use this hasty demise to insert their story’s main character Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) into the mix. With Quaker believing that Bill’s memories might allow them to locate The Dutchman and prevent a cataclysmic event, he asks Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), a neuroscientist who has developed a memory-transfer process, to transfer Bill’s memories into the heavily damaged and empty, untapped brain of Jericho’s.

And from here on out, the acting goes absolutely awry. Either that, or the actors had pretty awful material to work with in the first place. Quaker goes absolutely bonkers when Jericho couldn’t immediately access Bill’s memories after his surgery, which is not something you’d expect from a CIA top honcho. In fact, what you’d expect is an intelligent and calm demeanor; cold as ice. Oldman’s absolutely brilliant acting skills gets absolutely wasted; all he is reduced to is an angry adult who gets into tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Pity.

Also noticeable is that they decided to cast English actors to play ALL of the most noteworthy CIA agents in the film. Besides Oldman, Alice Eve and Scott Adkins star as agents at Quaker’s beck and call. Hell, even the warden who processes Jericho’s release is English (played by Colin Salmon). You just notice these things. Either the film’s casting crew can’t find Americans good enough to play the roles, or they find English people better at playing Americans. Interesting stuff.

Costner’s portrayal of a dumb, drooling, growling, and violent psychopath is on point, and he actually looks like he revels in playing a character that has absolutely no empathy, and just hits or punches his way into anything and anyone. Audiences would find a bit of humor on scenes where his psychopathic tendencies collide and mesh with Bill’s own kind and polite personality. Since he has also gained the spy skill set Bill honed through the years, he finds himself in a patisserie, ordering posh brekky in perfect French, without any knowledge of what the words meant. It is an attempt at humor, and albeit subtly funny, is not enough to make a lasting impact.

Tommy Lee Jones’ role is too much of a pushover, and all he has on while his pièce de résistance gets beaten up in front of him is a hangdog face. There is no power or authority in his character or his acting, which is something that is sorely missed, most especially if you think about his previous work.

Gal Gadot, who played Bill’s wife Jill, did well with trying to make the film as emotionally captivating as possible. Her attempts at trying to connect with a man who seems to have his husband’s essence within him is touching, but is not enough to elevate the film from the depths of the film’s bad writing.

Even with an all-star cast, what a good film should rely on is excellent writing. In the end, an actor can only do so much.

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot hold key secrets in intense action-packed ‘Criminal’

The star-studded and high-octane action film “Criminal” headlines Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman in a fresh, provocative spin on the espionage action-thriller that probes the secret world of memory and identity, as it propels an unwitting death row killer into the consciousness of a dedicated CIA agent in a ferocious race against time.

After playing the snarky superhero Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds takes on a more clean-cut character as he plays top CIA agent Bill Pope in “Criminal,” who was on an important mission who holds the key of secrets in the recesses of his mind. In order to extract vital information, his memories, skills, and training were transplanted into hardened criminal Jericho Stewart’s (Kevin Costner) brain. The procedure was performed by a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones) under the orders and close monitoring of the CIA chief (Gary Oldman).

What they didn’t count on was that Stewart was also able to absorb the other aspects of Pope’s memories, particularly his love for family and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The fallen agent’s wife, Jill Pope (Gal Gadot) helps convince him of his purpose. For the first time in his life, the criminal was able to clearly distinguish right from wrong and sets about to save the world.

The criminal becomes the hunted yet again, but this time he is on the side of the law. The mission is in the memories and every memory holds a clue. He has 48 hours to find a valuable CIA asset called The Dutchman in order to foil an international terrorist’s plans.

Aside from the intriguing premise, “Criminal” is jam-packed with enough action scenes, explosions, and car chases to satisfy the hardcore action-genre fan. What is likewise interesting to note is that this is the second collaboration of top-draw film stars Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones following the 1991 thought-provoking film “JFK.”

Director Ariel Vromen – who came to the fore with his previous work in the chilling crime story “The Iceman” – saw in “Criminal’s” action-packed story a chance to create a hybrid: to fuse elements of an unnerving psychological battle and mind-twisting sci-fi with the classic cat-and-mouse espionage game. He was drawn to the story’s scientifically provocative central idea: memory transfer, the ability to lock a person’s most intimate and individual sensations, hopes and flashbacks into a total stranger’s brain. Though amnesia and memory loss have long been staples of the cinematic thriller, this story came at it in an opposite way. For “Criminal” is the story of a man gaining memories that both put him on a collision course with a terrorist and change the very foundations of who he believes he is.

The mix of searing, high-octane action with the psychological intensity of a man trying to figure out if he is killer or savior was irresistible. “This is a big thriller. We have massive action sequences with cars, helicopter and the huge Airbus 400, along with intense fight scenes and excitement,” Vromen points out. “However, I believe today’s audiences are also looking for something beyond thrilling explosions and car crashes. I felt the unique journey of Jerico’s growth into a different person could be just as exciting as the non-stop action.”

“Criminal” opens in Philippine theaters on April 13, 2016 as released locally by OctoArts Films International.

Ryan Reynolds plays antihero ‘Deadpool’

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, “Deadpool” tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment leaves him with accelerated healing powers and adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Along with Deadpool fighting in the buff, the film’s torrid scenes between Wade and Vanessa, and Deadpool’s non-stop and off-color verbal stylings, all contribute to the film’s R-rating. “I think the R-rating allows us to have a level of reality that wouldn’t be possible with a PG-13,” says Miller. “I also think it’s an important step in the expansion of the genre. There’s a type of film that can only be made with this rating, and that really expands the boundaries of the stories comic book movies can tell.”

“Deadpool” star and producer Ryan Reynolds has no bigger fan than Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who has a fun cameo in the film and also serves as an executive producer. “There’s never been a character like Deadpool, and Ryan Reynolds plays him as though he was born to play the role,” says Lee. “Just like Robert Downey, Jr. was born to be Iron Man, you just can’t picture anybody else besides Ryan as Deadpool.”

DEADPOOL Angel Dust (Gina Carano) roughs up barkeep Weasel (T.J. Miller), in DEADPOOL. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs.  TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.
DEADPOOL
Angel Dust (Gina Carano) roughs up barkeep Weasel (T.J. Miller), in DEADPOOL.
Photo Credit: Joe Lederer
TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs.  TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

Reynolds embraced the character’s myriad (and often twisted) facets. “In the comic book world, Deadpool is a man of our time with the ability to spout just the right thing, in terms of a pop culture reference, at the worst possible moment,” he quips. “That’s what makes him interesting to me and also makes him sort of limitless.”

The character’s accessibility is defined partly by his twisted sense of humor. “It really draws you in,” Reynolds notes. “Deadpool has this bright, optimistic outlook on life, even though his life is pretty shitty. I mean, he’s become horribly disfigured from the experiments that gave him his powers. And, he can’t find love and he’s more than a little insane.”

Reynolds’ director is also infused with Deadpoolian traits. “Tim has a bit of Wade Wilson’s acerbic attitude in him,” says Reynolds. “He sort of speaks, moves and talks like him, too. I think that helped Tim access the character. He really understands how to balance the over-the-top action and humor with pathos, because in some ways, Wade Wilson is a tragic character.”

51703768 Actor Ryan Reynolds suits up to film and action scene on a viaduct for "Deadpool" on April 7, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. The new Marvel movie tells the story of a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers. FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813
51703768 Actor Ryan Reynolds suits up to film and action scene on a viaduct for “Deadpool” on April 7, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. The new Marvel movie tells the story of a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers. FameFlynet, Inc – Beverly Hills, CA, USA – +1 (818) 307-4813

Bringing the exploits of an unconventional superhero to life sometimes created an equally unexpected vibe on set. Notes Stan Lee: “When you see Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds working together, they are both so in sync; they see the movie the same way. It’s though they’re playing a game and each one of them is doing his job so magnificently. When I did my scene in “Deadpool,” I didn’t even know I was working. When it was over, I said, ‘When do we start?’ and Tim said, ‘You’re finished.’ That’s how effortless he makes it seem.”

The filmmakers remain convinced the time is right for this unique movie event. “When comic book movies first appeared, they had to be ‘tentpole’ movies, which had to appeal to the broadest possible audience,” Miller says. “Deadpool was always meant to be an edgy film, and the time is right for it. The genre of superhero and comic book films is wider and it feels like it’s time to do a film like this, that sort of pushes the boundaries a little further.”

Rated R-16 by the local censors board, “Deadpool” will open in IMAX and 2D cinemas on February 10 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.