‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’ review: Greater upgrade, greater responsibility

Spider-Man: Far From Home’ keeps the comic book lore fresh with its picturesque locations, strong performances and overall light-hearted fun.

Note: The following review contains spoilers from Avengers: Endgame.

I admire MCU’s Spider-Man films for managing to impart uncle Ben’s infamous words (“With great power, comes great responsibility”) without the need of explicitly mentioning it. Homecoming stands out in the superhero genre with its scaled-down coming-of-age themes that nevertheless delivers action, humor and heart. At its center is a teenager who wants to be a superhero, yet hasn’t quite figured out how. In Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is once again wrestling with that responsibility but the stakes here are much larger than saving the neighborhood. Much of the pressure comes from filling the metal boots of the late Tony Stark/Iron Man as he bequeathed Peter a pair of techie glasses which has access to Stark Industries’ database and orbital weapons. It’s a cool legacy to inherit (not to mention the spectacular spidey suits later), but can Peter have at least a week off to enjoy his high school field trip to Europe – a perfect setting to profess his romantic feelings for his classmate MJ (Zendaya)? Well, you know the drill: With great power…

Against his wishes, Peter is pulled out by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to team up with Quentin Beck a.k.a. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) – a superhero from an alternate earth who emits green gas and wears a fishbowl on his head. The mystery guy quickly buddies up with a confused Peter (who’s in need of a father figure since Tony’s death) and empathizes with his struggle to moonlight a superhero job. Gyllenhaal fits wonderfully into this environment as he carries the charisma and gravitas needed to act as a mentor to a young Holland. But of course, anyone who’s familiar with his character in the comics should know early on that there’s more to him that meets the eye.

A new ally? Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) explains the existence of a multiverse to Peter Parker (Tom Holland).

Together, they try to stop various destructive “Elementals” across the globe. This mission is clearly an Avengers-level type of threat but when Peter asks Fury as to the whereabouts of the other Avengers, he simply says that they’re all either busy or unavailable. Hmmm… how convenient. Thankfully, a must-watch post-credit scene alludes to a bigger inter-dimensional threat that supports this plot convenience and fixes a huge character plothole found in the narrative. Hence, I’m letting this one off the hook.

Set several months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, this installment also has the task of addressing the ramifications of Dr. Hulk’s snap that restored half of humanity wiped by Thanos. The five-year absence, referred to as “the blip,” is amusingly explained through the perspective of high school milieu. Those who are spared by Thanos continue to grow five years older, while those who are previously “snapped” went back with their original ages. Again, for convenience sake, the significant class members of Peter are still of the same age.

An unforgettable European field trip: Betty (Angourie Rice), Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) are caught in the crossfire against the Elementals.

With all the globe-trotting and action extravaganza involved, reprising director Jon Watts finds a way to maintain a light tone that keeps the sequel intact with its predecessor, yet at the same time, fit it with the ever-expanding world of MCU. The script, penned by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, remains to be a character-based, high-school comedy just so happened to be set in multiple geographical locations – New York, Venice, Berlin, Prague, London and the Netherlands. One of the film’s twists traces back to Captain America: Civil War and another one back to Captain Marvel. It’s a testament how well-written and well-thought of this film is. I have to emphasize that with Kevin Feige and the rest of Marvel’s vision, the future of MCU is in safe hands.

New continent, new suit. Spider-Man dons the Stealth Suit.

More than the standard saving-the-world scenario, the coming-of-age sensibilities once again makes Far From Home a breezy and charming addition to the franchise. There are plenty of relevant adolescent themes like young adult anxiety and insecurity, competing love interests, class bullies, Gen Z’s indulgence to social media and the general immaturity of youth. Through it all, the story not only propels Peter’s individual story but also manages to give the supporting players their moments to shine. Nerdy Ned (Jacob Batalon) steals scenes through his unlikely romance with the prim Betty (Angourie Rice). Tony’s right hand man, Happy (Jon Favreau) strikes a spark with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). While we get a more layered character in MJ this time, with Zendaya keeping the mutual attraction to her onscreen partner under a sarcastic and awkward facade. On the other hand, Holland continues to thrive on the iconic role for this generation. His edge over Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s portrayals is that he exudes with a sincere, boyish enthusiasm that appeals to a wide audience.

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) takes a greater responsibility in ‘Far From Home.’

Spider-Man: Far From Home pays homage to Tony Stark’s legacy as viewers are constantly reminded of the fallen industrialist’s presence. Sometimes it’s done literally through his mural images painted on buildings or his life story featured as a documentary in an airline, almost like he’s a religious figure. Other times, it feels symbolical through the growing paternal bond between Happy and Peter. The big question that keeps getting thrown around here is who should be the next de-facto leader of The Avengers. I stand by my opinion that Peter is way too young and inexperienced to play a leadership role. (I’m personally rooting for you, Dr. Strange). However, as the front face for the next phases in MCU, I think we might just found a worthy successor.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Jon Watts, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remy Hii and Jake Gyllenhaal. 129 minutes. PG-13.

‘Captain Marvel’ review [2 of 2]: Unconventional, dismantled origins

Captain Marvel creatively spins an origin story by reversing the wheels of the classic MCU Phase 1 formula.

Fresh off from the monumental showdown of Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel carries a ton of expectations for fronting the ‘strongest superhero’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not to mention that this stand-alone/Phase 1-ish material competes with several experimental and crossover films in Phase 3, the titular heroine is at a disadvantage for having zero narrative to begin with unlike Spider-Man and Black Panther who have prior introductions in Captain America: Civil War.

And if we should extend the comparison by a universe, when it comes to female representation in this increasingly sensitive era, DC’s Wonder Woman is the first one to blast through that barrier in 2017. Still, a multitude of female demographic in particular are looking forward to this film with the hopes of seeing a part of themselves represented on screen. The result is hardly a game-changer but it sure does have several things going on that other superhero films simply don’t have.

Since most audiences have no idea about Captain Marvel, it is to the film’s benefit that co-writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck structure the screenplay like a mystery. The reverse origin story kicks off with Vers (Brie Larson) already possessing an array of powers under her belt, and that includes superhuman strength and photon blasts (with flight ability to follow). There’s a lot of backstory teased in her fragmented visions but the film cuts right to the action of an intergalactic war. Vers is a member of an elite Kree military unit called ‘Starforce’ whose purpose is to hunt down Skrulls who have been invading peaceful planets in the galaxy.

The Kree Starforce (L-R): Djimon Hounsou (Korath), Algenis Pérez Soto (Att-Lass), Brie Larson (Vers), Rune Temte (Bron-Char), Gemma Chan (Minn-Erva).

Her misadventure sends her crashing to planet C-53 (a.k.a. Earth) where she crosses paths with a young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, played by a magically and seamlessly de-aged Samuel Jackson. From then, the film then turns into an entertaining buddy-cop romp as they try to uncover the truth of Vers’ human origin. Oh, and the film is set in the 1990’s so Gen-Xers and early millennials can expect a healthy dose nostalgia – payphones, pagers, blockbuster video rentals, CD-ROM, Alta Vista search engine, etc. – all of which are intended to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings..

Larson and Samuel L. Jackson (as a young Nick Fury) in ‘Captain Marvel’

While Wonder Woman is evident in its feminist themes (given that Diana Prince lives in an island solely inhabited by women), Captain Marvel has a more complex undertone to its proceedings. At one point, Vers/Carol Danvers breaks free from the conventions that bind her. In particular, her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) constantly reminds her not to let emotions get the best of her. It’s a subtle commentary on the sexist notion that women are too emotional to handle tough jobs. She then comes to a realization that this perceived vulnerability can also be the source of her greatest strength.

Jude Law (Yon-Rogg) and Larson in ‘Captain Marvel’

More than anything, the film is about a superhero’s existential crisis. As the plot progresses, loyalties get reconfigured and Vers starts to question her identity and core. Is she just a mere pawn fighting for a cause she never truly understood? A soul trapped between two worlds, neither of which she feels truly belonged? Her former best friend Maria (Lashana Lynch) helps her to keep in touch with her humanity and given the film’s structure, most of her backstory is filled through quick flashbacks, expositions and testimonials. The storytelling style has its share of weaknesses as this is not the best way to mine emotional depth. Hence, when it comes to an empowering and moving montage of a beaten-down Carol standing up through various stages of her life, it never reaches its maximum desired catharsis.

Lashana Lynch (Monica Rambeau) and Larson in ‘Captain Marvel’

As for the former indie darling, Brie Larson radiates with spunk and girl power. There’s an air of chill arrogance and stubbornness in her portrayal similar to Tony Stark and Stephen Strange, but the former deserves worthy of her attitude because of her unimaginable extent of powers. One can argue that there’s something off with the Oscar-winning actress’ performance and maybe that has something to do with the fact that she spends most of the film running without a solid backstory. Some may lazily dismiss her portrayal as bland but I would have to firmly disagree with that, Larson takes full ownership with what she’s given. And with some chunks of her history still missing, we can agree that the best parts of her character’s journey are still ahead of her.

Admittedly, I came out of this film feeling invested with the powers that Carol has to offer for Avengers: Endgame more so than being emotionally connected with the character herself. Still, that does not make this film a weak entry to the franchise for there are plenty of things to like here. It’s amusing to see Jackson in a different light and his scenes with the orange cat Goose are one of the scene-stealers. Even Mendelsohn’s Talos lends an unexpected emotional weight to the story, making the character memorable in MCU’s current pantheon of villains.

Higher, further, faster. Brie Larson is Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

Overall, Captain Marvel succeeds in accomplishing the goals it has set upon. It offers more female representation in the superhero genre and it introduces a kickass heroine’s origin story that nicely retrofits to a larger machine. Hence, this film has enough substance to make it an essential viewing before Endgame.

At one point, Carol says an empowering line, “I have nothing to prove to you.” While the film proves a lot of things, this is a universal shared sentiment that we can all keep in mind against those who try to put us down.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a screenplay written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, ‘Captain Marvel‘ stars Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Algenis Pérez Soto, Rune Temte, Azari Akbar and Jude Law. Based on Marvel comics character ‘Carol Danvers’ by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan. Run time: 124 mins.

‘Captain Marvel’: A spoiler-free character guide

For casual moviegoers, we can’t blame you if you have little or no idea on what’s going on with Captain Marvel. After all, this first female-led Marvel film initially caught buzz during the post credits scene of Infinity War, where everyone just assumed that the said heroine is the solution to beating Thanos. Anyway, it never hurts to have a little background. Here’s a spoiler-free breakdown of the characters appearing in Captain Marvel.


THE KREE


The Kree are a scientifically and technologically advanced race of mostly blue-skinned “noble warrior heroes” from the planet Hala.


CAROL DANVERS / CAPTAIN MARVEL

Portrayed by Brie Larson

A Kree-human hybrid, Carol is a member of an elite military unit called ‘Starforce’ and her abilities include superhuman strength, energy projection, and flight. In the film, she returns to Earth to rediscover her ordinary human past of being an ex-U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. According to Marvel chief executive Kevin Feige, she is “the most powerful superhero in MCU.”


RONAN THE ACCUSER

Portrayed by Lee Pace

Last seen as the main villain in Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan is a ferocious and radical member of the Kree who attempted to obliterate planet Xandar by forging an alliance with Thanos. The Guardians may have successfully defeated and killed him, but since the events of Captain Marvel occur before the aforementioned timeline, we can expect the character crossing paths with Starforce.


YON-ROGG

Portrayed by Jude Law

Yon-Rogg is Kree’s Starforce lead commander who trained Carol to use her powers. According to Law, his character is “almost a devout warrior — unquestioning, conservative, but inspirational.”


KORATH THE PURSUER

Portrayed by Djimon Hounsou

Another familiar face from GOTG, Korath is last seen as Ronan’s cybernatically enhanced warrior who gets slain by Drax the Destroyer during the Battle of Xandar. Before that happens, Korath here is the second-in-command of Starforce.


MINN-ERVA

Portrayed by Gemma Chan

Minn-Erva is Starforce’s efficient and standout sniper who feels slightly threatened by the talented Danvers joining the team.


SUPREME INTELLIGENCE

Portrayed by Annette Bening

The Supreme Intelligence is a god-like entity/artificial intelligence that consists the greatest intellects of the Kree people for the last million years. Each member of the Starforce has a particular relationship with the Supreme Intelligence.


THE HUMANS



NICK FURY

Portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson

Set in 1990s, the ‘would-be’ director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and founder of Avengers Initiative, is a younger, greener and less jaded low-level bureaucrat. Jackson describes his character as a “desk jockey” whose first encounter with a super-powered being (Carol Danvers) transforms his cynical perspective towards bureaucracy. This marks the first time where Marvel digitally de-ages a character by 25 years, for the entire film’s run time.


PHIL COULSON

Portrayed by Clark Gregg

Before he’s killed by Loki in The Avengers, and subsequently brought back to life in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson is a rookie agent who works closely with Fury. Likewise Jackson, Gregg is digitally de-aged by 25 years throughout the film.


MARIA RAMBEAU

Portrayed by Lashana Lynch

As Danvers’ best friend in her past human life, Captain Maria Rambeau is a resilient single mother/U.S. Air Force pilot who plays a huge role in helping Carol to regain her past. Larson describes Danvers and Rambeau’s friendship as equal, with “a playful competitiveness and a mutual respect.”


MISCELLANEOUS



TALOS

Portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn

As the film’s main antagonist, Talos is a shape-shifting Skrull commander who leads his race’s invasion to Earth by posing as a S.H.I.E.L.D. director. In the comics, the Skrulls have been at war with the Krees for centuries. Mendelsohn described Talos’s human persona as “buttoned up” compared to his “more laid back” Skrull persona.


GOOSE

Portrayed by Reggie, Archie, Gonzo and Rizzo

Named after a Top Gun character, Goose is Carol Danvers’s pet and travel companion. In the comics, he’s originally named as Chewie (after Star Wars‘ Chewbacca) and if the film will be faithful to its source material, there’s a strong reason to believe that the house cat is actually an alien of the Flerken race with hidden special powers.


Captain Marvel opens in Philippine cinemas on March 6, 2018.

WATCH: New int’l trailer for ‘Glass’ pits The Protector vs The Beast

The Protector (Bruce Willis) must stop The Beast (James McAvoy) from a murderous rampage orchestrated by Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) in the new international trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s eagerly anticipated suspnse thriller Glass.

Check out the film’s new trailer below and watch Glass in Philippine cinemas January 16, 2019.

M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone Pictures, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass.  

From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass.  Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast.  

Following the conclusion of SplitGlass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

Joining the all-star cast are Unbreakable’s Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard, who reprise their roles as Dunn’s son and Price’s mother, as well as Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story series).

A Blinding Edge Pictures and Blumhouse production, Glass will be released by in the Philippines by Buena Vista International.

New ‘Glass’ character posters shatter the superheroes

David Dunn (Bruce Willis), Eijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) get their character posters for M. Night Shyamalan’s eagerly anticipated new suspense thriller Glass.

Check out the character one-sheets below and watch Glass in Philippine cinemas January 16, 2019.

About Glass

M Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’sUnbreakable, from Touchstone Pictures, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass.

From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass.  Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast.  

Following the conclusion of SplitGlass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

Joining the all-star cast are Unbreakable’s Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard, who reprise their roles as Dunn’s son and Price’s mother, as well as Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story series).

This riveting culmination of his worldwide blockbusters is produced by Shyamalan and Blumhouse Production’s Jason Blum.  They produce again with Ashwin Rajan and Marc Bienstock, and Steven Schneider and Kevin Frakes, who executive produce.  Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum also serve as executive producers.

A Blinding Edge Pictures and Blumhouse production, Glass will be released by in the Philippines by Buena Vista International.

‘Incredibles 2’ review: Still incredible after 14 years

In the sleuth of modern superheroes, Brad Bird’s ‘Incredibles 2’ rises above the noise by confidently kicking it old-school and placing its heart where it needs to be.

It seems like yesterday but when Pixar’s The Incredibles came out in 2004, the superhero genre was just starting to gain a foothold in the cinema – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer’s X-Men were only the top commodities that time; Tim Burton’s Batman might be too gothic for mainstream taste; Christopher Nolan’s reinvention of Batman Begins wouldn’t come a year after; and Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was still in its years of troubled development. Flash-forward to 2018, these superheroes (metahumans, demi-gods or whatever their comic origin calls them) has now dominated the landscape – heroes like Spider-Man are now just supporting characters in a gigantic crossover film where almost everyone is “super”.

READ MORE: Sacrifice is the main undercurrent theme in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Hence, when the Parr family (Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack) first graced our silver-screens, it almost feels like a game-changer. A visually dazzling animated feature that alternates the breakneck action to the satire of living a suburban life; it knows when to be goofy and when to treat its protagonists seriously. Writer/director Brad Bird based each of his characters’ powers from stereotypes: the dads/providers are the strongest members in the household, moms/busy bees are always stretched to different directions, moody teenagers put up shields and struggle with social invisibility, young kids are filled with boundless energy, and the babies are just unpredictable. Simply put, this character-driven blockbuster uses spectacle for us to better see ourselves – it’s an instant classic that appeals to both children and parents.

But why delve so much on The Incredibles when this article is supposed to be a review on its sequel? It’s because Incredibles 2 literally picks off right where its predecessor ended, completely ignoring the 14 year-hiatus and keeping its characters of the same age – with animation it’s always possible. The 2004 film is a tough act to follow and rather than going with the modern formula that takes advantage of its genre’s popularity, Brad Bird keeps it visually and thematically intact with its predecessor.

And so, in the aftermath of a destructive battle with ‘The Underminer’, the “supers” are once again deemed illegal by the government forcing the Parrs to permanently hide their secret identities. Opportunity knocks the door when telecom mogul/superfan Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) offers them to revamp the public’s perception by letting the least destructive “super,” Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) do their crime-fighting activities. A gender reversal plays and Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is left to take care of their teen daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell) who’s dealing with boy issues, their hyperactive son Dash (Huck Milner) who’s confused by his math homeworks and baby Jack-Jack who’s just discovering his variable array of powers. Keeping things in the continuous timeline, the sequel brings back old-timers like family friend Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and fashion designer Edna Mode (voiced by Bird himself) while introducing a new breed of superheroes with Karen/Voyd (Sophia Bush) being the standout.

Incredibles 2 kicks off with a sub-par level of animation to connect its opening sequence to the first film’s ending. As soon as the title card flashes, the modern animation flourishes yet Bird and his animators still bring out evocative imagery through retro design touches and occasional noir lighting. Complemented with a blood-stirring musical scoring from Michael Giacchino’s (also worked on Jurassic World films), Elastigirl is placed center stage and shines in manipulating her flexible frame – especially in a thrillingly executed runaway train sequence that should give the Mission Impossible films a run for its money.

READ MORE: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ review: Hollywood weaponizes dinosaurs

Juxtaposed with this high-wired action is the comic-relief from Bob’s struggle to temporarily act as both the father and the mother in his household. Majority of the stress comes from babysitting Jack-Jack as his unprecedented powers gives a whole new definition to “baby-proofing” when the house itself needs more of the protection. An ensuing brawl between the infant and a surprised raccoon is a pure child’s play that should amuse the younger audiences; but when the film comes down to its sincerest moments, it brings out a defining point in what does it take to be a superhero. That parenting requires far more than extendable limbs – a heroic act in itself that should never be undermined.

The beauty of Pixar/Disney films is that they always have something to say towards its mature audiences. At one point in the film, there is a moral debate between Bob and Helen on the legality of “supers”, whether it is better to set a good example to the kids by obeying an unjust law or bend them in the hopes of making a positive impact in the future. Another underlying message that should stick out is supervillain Screenslaver’s modus operandi of hypnotizing the public to eradicate the “supers.” This is an evident metaphor/PSA that we are part of a society who lives our lives through a screen. It may teem with social relevance but when it comes to nemesis, Syndrome packs more thematic punch since he’s more of a key element to Mr. Incredible’s character journey in the first film.

Incredibles 2 took 14 years to arrive and now that it has landed, is it a little outdated now to the growing tastes of moviegoers? One can definitely argue that point. However, Bird’s decision to pick up where the last film ended gives him more freedom to cultivate his script and direction without worrying how the characters stack up against the modern heroes of say, Marvel or DC universe. The proper goal of this sequel is to bank on what made the first outing memorable – a balanced act of domestic drama and superhero theatrics, while slightly prodding the franchise to a new direction. As long as the franchise places its heart where it should be – a story of a family working together in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, the Incredibles can rise above the noise.


4.5 out of 5 stars


Distributed by Walt Disney Studios, Incredibles 2 is now showing featuring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks, Sophia Bush, and Samuel L. Jackson. Written and directed by Brad Bird. Runtime: 118 minutes.

Samuel L. Jackson leaves no man behind in ‘Kong: Skull Island’

Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Avengers: Age of Ultron), plays Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, the human alpha among the human characters in Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island which reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure.

Watch the final trailer of Kong: Skull Island below.

In the film, a diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific – as beautiful as it is treacherous – unaware that they’re crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.

The battle-hardened leader of the Sky Devils helicopter squadron, which is set to be decommissioned in the dark final days of the Vietnam War, Packard is struggling to turn his back on a war he cannot win. When his team is offered an assignment to lead the airborne survey of Skull Island, he seizes the opportunity for one last mission before rotating home with men who have become closer to him than family.

Jackson relates, “Packard is glad that all his men are going home safe, but seizes the opportunity for them to have one last flight together before it’s time to go. People are saying we lost the war and he’s saying we just abandoned it. He wants his soldiers to feel like winners, and sees this as an opportunity for them to be heroes and come home with some kind of victory.”

When the expedition reaches Skull Island, however, Packard can only watch in horror. “Kong knocks all these helicopters out of the sky, killing most of his men,” says Jackson. “Having left no man behind in Vietnam, and being the warrior that he is, he is not giving up on that fight easily. Having skin in the game and now blood on his hands for not getting his men home, his natural enemy becomes Kong.”

“We want to see Kong in an environment that is as big and spectacular as he is,” says the acting legend. “We know he lives in the jungle, but what else is in that jungle? What’s out there that allows him to exist? Are there others or is he an anomaly? And we find out that he was once part of a community that got wiped out by something else that’s on that island. Now he’s the guardian that keeps those things in check.”

Both Packard and Kong—each in his own way—is a protector: Kong of his home and Packard of his men, until Packard loses sight of what he’s protecting. “At this point, he has become almost an island unto himself,” Jackson observes. “Everyone is starting to understand that by exacting a measure of vengeance for the people he lost, even knowing that it risks the others not getting home, Packard is not being the level-headed commanding officer his soldiers have come to depend on all those years. In a rational world, and if he wasn’t so emotionally tied to the losses he suffered, he would understand the biological equation at play here. He still demands his pound of flesh.”

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Present a Legendary Pictures Production, Kong: Skull Island. The film will be released in the Philippines in 2D, 3D in select theatres, and IMAX beginning Thursday, March 9, 2017, from Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Samuel L. Jackson plays real-life unsung hero in ‘The Legend of Tarzan’

Iconic actor Samuel L. Jackson stars in Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Legend of Tarzan as George Washington Williams, a real-life but relatively unsung hero from 19th-century American history who becomes Tarzan’s unexpected ally in the film.

“George Washington Williams was a man of so many talents and such bravery – to be this 14-year-old kid and go off to fight in the war between the States,” Jackson details. “And he went on to run for office, became a preacher, and did so many other things. So it was an opportunity to let people know that there was this man, historically, who actually went to the Congo and wrote a letter to King Leopold II about what he was doing to its population. Hopefully, people will see this movie and dig out their phones – or, as we used to say, ‘go to the library’ – and Google George Washington Williams and find out what actually transpired in the Congo.”

Of course, the real Williams didn’t race through the Congolese jungle with Tarzan, but Jackson says it “makes for a fun relationship” between the mismatched pair, and is part of the story’s subtle nod to the dark period in Africa’s history in which it’s set. “We’re obviously telling a fictional story,” Jackson observes, “but I love the reality of what’s going on inside of it, and [director] David Yates deals with those elements in a very real and positive way.”

Relaxed and easy to laugh, Jackson is clearly having a blast on the project, and admits that his childhood affinity for the Tarzan legend might have something to do with it. “I’d swing on ropes in my neighborhood and everywhere else, pretending and playing Tarzan.”

On his working relationship with Alexander Skarsgård and creating the camaraderie that develops between their characters, Jackson shares, “It’s a fun relationship. Tarzan doesn’t want to like George, but once he realizes his tenacity and his commitment and loyalty, he begins to understand him a bit better. George is considerably older than everybody in the film, and Tarzan, Kwete [played by Osy Ikhile] and the other tribesmen, they run everywhere. So I decided that George would always be trying to keep up, saying, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m right behind you.’ But by the time I show up, they’ve already made a plan and are getting ready to go somewhere else. I’d be like: [Mimes panting]. And they’d just look at me and take off running again [laughs]. But George keeps his determination up, and every time they think they’ve lost him, he shows up, so that kind of makes them look at him in another way.

“But I met Alex as a little kid when I was doing `Deep Blue Sea’ with his dad [Stellan Skarsgård],” continues Jackson. “Alex would always be in Stellan’s dressing room playing on the computer. So when we saw each other again on this film, I was like, ‘Man, you grew up!’ It was kind of fun to see him become what he’s become.”

From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures comes the action adventure “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård as the legendary character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The film also stars Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou, with Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

David Yates (the final four “Harry Potter” films, upcoming “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) directed “The Legend of Tarzan” from a screenplay by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, story by Brewer and Cozad based on the Tarzan stories created by Burroughs.

Slated for release across the Philippines on Thursday, June 30, 2016, The Legend of Tarzan is distributed in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.