What’s The Best Darna Costume Design for Jane De Leon?

It has been several months since ABS-CBN formally announced it hired actress Jane de Leon as the new cinematic Darna for their ongoing movie project. Since that time, there has not been much details about the Darna movie. To put things in perspective here, De Leon came in as a replacement for Liza Soberano.

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A Darna figure I photographed on the left, Jane de Leon on the right. (Jane de Leon picture from Belomed.com)

Apart from the news that De Leon met with TV Darna star Marian Rivera (who works for a rival TV network), took physical training consistently, confirmed filming will happen this year and responded to those who bashed her for just being a pretty face who cannot act, the filmmakers have so far kept details of the Darna movie secret.

Are they revising the script to accommodate De Leon’s talent? Are they rendering the visual effects with computers ahead of time? Is the production team having trouble scheduling filming with the many actors they hired? Are the filmmakers consulting with local comic book artists and writers to find ways to make the Darna movie fun and engaging?

So far, nothing could be confirmed. And this leads me to the next point – what will be the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon?

In this ABS-CBN news video posted on November 27, 2019, De Leon confirmed that she has been working out for the role, read the script and stated the costume was being arranged. No details about the design of the costume were revealed.

For starters, it is easy to imagine De Leon wear the traditional Darna costume which has always been a two-piece swimsuit with a head dress (in recent times, a helmet), superhero boots, arm braces and a frontal cloth. Check out the photo I took of a Darna statuette during the 2019 Toycon below.

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I took this during last year’s Toycon.

If the filmmakers prefer to show the cinematic Darna with a new look of much less skin exposed while still maintaining the feminine figure, the lady’s armor design could be a useful alternative. Take a look at the armor of Faora in Man of Steel.

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The armored Faora in Man of Steel. (photo sourced from IMDB.com)

An armored Darna just might work in modernizing the look of the Philippine superhero icon with the 21st century in mind. While it can cover a lot of De Leon’s skin, it could use a little less metallic parts (compared to Faora’s armor in Man of Steel) to show more of the actress’ figure. Having the armor painted red with some parts in gold can help maintain the Darna look.

As of this writing, we don’t know yet what the filmmakers have in mind with the Darna costume for Jane de Leon. But once new updates about the costume and the film itself have been released, I’ll share and discuss them right here.

For the meantime, visit the Darna (2020) movie page right here.

For those of you who read this, what do you think is the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon? How should it look? Feel free to post your answers with the comment tool below.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Write About Love

Write About Love is the first new Metro Manila Film Festival movie I saw in the theater in many years and I should say it was surprisingly good.

Here’s my review of Write About Love directed by Crisanto Aquino and released by TBA Studios.

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Early story

The story begins when a lady (Miles Ocampo) succeeded in selling her story to executives of a movie studio. A short time later, the executives found her story looking “too mainstream” and was very similar to that of another movie. This results an order on revising the story and she has to do the rewriting assignment with the involvement of a seasoned indie screenwriter (Rocco Nacino). They have only thirty days to revise and improve the script and the state of the film project was at stake.

Together the screenwriters work and discuss in detail how to establish the situations, how to develop each character through trials and emotional rides, what to do to make the story deeper and the like.

As the film’s narrative and the screenwriters work on, the respective lives of the in-story characters transpire.

Quality

To put things in perspective, Write About Love is a character-driven movie about screenwriters who are challenged to craft a much-improved screenplay for the movie studio while dealing with matters of their respective lives. Miles Ocampo is clearly the protagonist of the film and through her, you will relate with the pressure of work she goes through, the creative challenges of writing stories (and developing the characters), and the fractured parts of her personal life (hint: she lives with her mother but maintains contact with her father). When it comes to acting, Ocampo delivered the emotions needed in each scene that required heavy drama. You will see her cry a lot and you’ll even feel her pain.

Her co-star Rocco Nacino (the other screenwriter) has comparable screen time as hers but with much less dramatic scenes. Nacino does excel, however, with the more creative side of screen writing.

What really stood out with the dramatic performances are the supporting players Yeng Constantino and Joem Bascon as the screenplay characters of Joyce and Marco. Joyce and Marco are lovers living-in together but their relationship got hampered by their respective careers. Joyce is a musician and Marco is a corporate executive. When things get rough between them, crying scenes happen along with convincing moments of depression. Constantino herself stands out as her in-depth talent in singing blends nicely with the dramatics of her character.

Constantino and Bascon are not the only supporting players in the film. There was also Romnick Sarmienta (himself a star in many romantic comedies in the 1980s) and Che Ramos, and each contributed nicely into the film.

When it comes to storytelling and visual presentation, Write About Love was very nicely done. The story moved at a steady pace and there was a good amount of interesting dialogue. In my experience, nothing felt padded. Even the slowest scenes did not bore me. The drama was heavy and there were several moments of clever humor executed.

I also really enjoyed the filmmakers’ smart of use of visuals in which screenplay scenes showing the lives of Joyce and Marco happening while the screenwriters appear near them as if they are watching (actually they were imagining and structuring the scenes which were part of their work for the movie studio). The shots of Joyce and Marco interacting were in full color while the shots showing the screenwriters had desaturated colors.

While it was clear that the filmmakers got great performances from the actors, this movie should be recommended for some very memorable cinematography that took place in the 2nd half. I’m talking about the location shots of North Luzon locations like Baguio City and Sagada. The most visually striking scene was the sunrise scene and if you ever see it, do your best to feast your eyes on it.

Conclusion

Write About Love is a pretty good film to watch and definitely it is one of the better movies released here in the Philippines for the past decade. It does not have an epic concept but rather a small and simple concept that was nicely executed with fine cinematic artistry. The performances are very good (without going into over-acting), the characters are worth caring and following, and the film offers a very unique look at what goes on behind the scenes in the local movie industry.

Also the theme about love is nicely expressed through the trials and emotions of the characters. In relation to its title, this movie shows that writing about love will never be easy because love itself is complicated and unpredictable. In short, realizing the true meaning of love is an everlasting struggle.

Overall, Write About Love is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

To Warner Bros. and the Filmmakers, Please Have Superman (Henry Cavill) and Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) Clash Together on the Big Screen!

With the unexpected, massive success of the Joker movie (my review here), the DC Comics brand in the field of movies got strong even though the said film was not related at all with the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The R-rated, Joaquin Phoenix-led movie grossed over $1,000,000,000 worldwide (without even a release in China) and already it is one of the most profitable movies this year given the fact it was made for well below $100 million. Also, please take note that less than 100% of each ticket sold gets collected by the movie producer.

The future meanwhile looks very promising for fans of DC Comics movies. 2020 will see the respective theatrical releases of Birds of Prey (February) and Wonder Woman 1984 (June) care of Warner Bros. and its creative teams of filmmakers. The Batman (starring Robert Pattinson and directed by Matt Reeves) meanwhile spearheads the cinematic superhero excitement for 2021.

And then there is the other DC Comics superhero movie slated for a December 2021 release….. Black Adam which was recently confirmed through social media by none other than Dwayne Johnson himself.

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Official Black Adam movie image. Note Jim Lee’s name on the lower-left corner.

“I’m honored to join the iconic #DCUniverse and it’s a true pleasure to become, BLACK ADAM. BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line. He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people – but he does it his way,” Johnson wrote in his Facebook page’s November 15, 2019 post.

Recently, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Justice League) confirmed through Men’s Health that he is not yet done with playing Superman.

“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see,” Cavill said.

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Henry Cavill is NOT yet done with playing the cinematic Superman!

While there is no clear sign that there will be a new Superman movie coming, I want to express that Warner Bros. and its creative teams should grab the opportunity of bringing Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill together on the big screen as Black Adam and Superman respectively.

I’m not saying that Superman should be in the Black Adam movie because I believe that the 2021 movie has its own concept already. Rather they can have the two DC Comics characters together in a future Superman movie with Black Adam as the main antagonist, and have the two fight each other hard.

In the comic books, there have been past battles between the Man of Steel and the Shazam villain. The first was in the 1982 comic book DC Comics Presents #49. Check out the images posted below.

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And then there was the other encounter in 2005’s Action Comics #831.

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Previously I expressed that the next Superman movie should have Lex Luthor and Brainiac together as the main antagonists. With the recent statements made by Johnson and Cavill, there is now hope for them to appear together in a future DC Comics movie. I believe that having Black Adam as the main antagonist the Man of Steel in a new Superman movie is a great concept.

Let’s not forget the fact that Dwayne Johnson is a great attraction when it comes to hard battles on the big screen.

I believe that having Johnson as Black Adam fighting Cavill’s Superman will be a great cinematic attraction. With the right director and the right fight choreographer, such a movie battle will be a lot of fun and make people forget about the disappointing battle of the DC Comics icons in Batman v. Superman (which started strongly but lost energy and its pace worsened). In terms of storytelling, there are enough comic book references to help screenwriters come up with a sensible and believable way to establish a conflict between Black Adam and Superman. Again, there is Batman v. Superman as a cinematic storytelling disappointment to avoid repeating.

Let’s not forget that the movie Shazam was a critical and commercial hit for Warner Bros. and it’s safe to say that we will see more of Zachary Levi reprise the title role in future movies. At the same time, we have yet to see Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel) face off with Black Adam and have a true, lengthy encounter with Superman.

If you are a dedicated DC Comics fan who wants to see Superman and Black Adam clash together on the big screen, express your support to the filmmakers, to Warner Bros. and also to Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

I will just say it straight and clearly – the Terminator film franchise is truly unnecessary today and, having seen its debut in the year 1984 (written and directed by a very young James Cameron), I should say that the saga really ended with 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron’s masterpiece).

Out of curiosity, instead of anticipation, I got to watch Terminator: Dark Fate at the local cinema. Having been disappointed with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation (a bad movie notorious for Christian Bale’s loss of self-control) and Terminator: Genisys (the most insulting and most screwed up film of the franchise), I had low expectations for Dark Fate.

Ultimately, I left the cinema disappointed yet again although the experience was not as bad as that of 2015 (with Genisys).

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Clearly, the filmmakers took inspiration from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and mix the more established film franchise stars (in supporting roles) with the younger actors.

To put it short, Terminator: Dark Fate took creative inspiration from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This means it was made with recycled concepts, told the story through its new characters (played by actors who are much younger and who are supposed to appeal to younger viewers) and back them up with the old, more iconic actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton) limited to supporting roles. When it comes to presentation, this new movie felt more like a roller coaster ride than an actual story laced with spectacle stage-by-stage.

That is pretty much how Terminator: Dark Fate turned out. It does not matter that this was directed by Tim Miller, the guy behind 2016’s Deadpool. It does not matter that the great James Cameron got involved with producing and story credit (he shared with a few other names). It does not matter that this movie was made with a large budget of $185 million and relied heavily on computers to generate the visuals (which look fake most of the time). Whatever the preparations made, they did not matter at all because Terminator: Dark Fate is a rushed and creative disappointment that does not deserve your time nor your money.

The movie opened with archived footage of Sarah Connor expressing the darkness of the future coming. This was immediately followed by a scene set in 1998 showing Sarah and her son John living in an age in which Judgment Day did NOT occur on August 29, 1997. Suddenly another Terminator T-800 Model 101 (another Schwarzenegger-type Terminator) appears and actually kills John Connor leaving Sarah in turmoil.

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This is the protector sent through time by the human resistance.

John Connor, who has been a central story element in the 1984 and 1991 (memorably played by Edward Furlong) movies as he was destined to be the human resistance leader in the war with Skynet, was eliminated so quickly in the opening of this new movie very similar to how the character of Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in the James Cameron-directed Aliens) got killed in a very dismissive way in the beginning of Alien 3. This move was nothing less than cynical, ill-conceived and even a daring disservice to Terminator fans.

From this point on, Terminator: Dark Fate turns into a “what if John Connor was dead and a new future war followed?” type of story.

Even though Judgment Day got prevented in relation to what Sarah and John achieved in Terminator 2, a new war between man and machines in the far future still occurs only this time Skynet is no more and the new enemy artificial intelligence (AI) this time is called Legion. This new story concept, by the way, is pretty insulting to any fan who loved the first two films directed by James Cameron as those flicks told a complete saga.

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This is the new, future leader of the human resistance.

And then the plot of The Terminator got recycled. A human fighter is sent back through time to protect a person who is destined to become the leader of the human resistance. Also sent back through time is a Terminator designed to look human and infiltrate society with a mission to kill the future human resistance leader. This is essentially what Terminator: Dark Fate truly is and even though Sarah Connor returned (plus another Terminator T-800 played by Schwarzenegger), there really is nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing worth enjoying.

When it comes to quality, this movie does not have much standing for it. The new characters are not engaging at all and their respective performers really had nowhere to go to engage moviegoers. Mackenzie Davis playing the new combat-ready protector only served to beef the film with action and there is nothing compelling about her act, nor did the script provide anything to make her androgynous character memorable. The new human resistance leader played by Natalia Reyes is forgettable and unbelievable even though she tried hard being dramatic. Compared with Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator, the chosen one Dani Ramos in the film was transformed from a struggling, working-class person into a brave fighter in a very rushed and unconvincing manner. Also, if you take a close look at Natalia Reyes, she is too short to be a figure of authority, too small to use weapons and her act is clearly sub-par in terms of quality making her big misfire in terms of casting. The performance, script and directing really had no depth when it comes to developing the characters.

The new Terminator (Rev-9) played by Gabriel Luna was nothing more than an uninspired attempt to outdo the T-1000 of Terminator 2. Luna was decent with playing cold and emotionless but when he acts human to infiltrate human society, he’s just generic at best.

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This is the new cinematic villain that won’t stop to kill the future leader of the human resistance. Oh, the computer-generated visuals are often fake to look at.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returning, it is sad for me to say that these two iconic performers of the film franchise got wasted. Sarah Connor in this movie was poorly written and this modern version ruins the legacy the character had since 1991. Schwarzenegger meanwhile played another T-800 Terminator whose adjustment into human society turned out to be unconvincing, even outlandish. A Terminator adjusting into domestic human life? Totally unbelievable!

If there is anything to admire in this ill-conceived movie, it is Schwarzenegger’s delivery of his lines as the Terminator. He was over 70-years-old at the time of filming and he no longer has the super fit, muscular build he was famous for but he still proved to be excellent in being robotic with the dialogue. Sadly, this good stuff from the ex-governor of California was not enough to save this movie from its dark fate.

The film has a lot of action and there is a notable variety of it here. Even though action-packed and the action quality is an improvement over Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate is ultimately a ride that can only provide temporary relief from the pain of the weak script. Oh, the use of fake-looking CGI hurts the action and stunts

Conclusion

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Let this be the LAST Terminator movie and let it fade away. How? By NOT spending your precious time and money on it.

Although it is better than Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys respectively, Terminator: Dark Fate still failed to be a solid film and definitely it is NOT worthy of being the official follow-up (the “real Terminator 3” to the first two films written and directed by James Cameron. Cameron’s involvement with this movie did not really improve the situation of the deteriorating Terminator film franchise and even worse, this big disappointment taints his record of excellence as a producer. Director Tim Miller, in my opinion, should go back to superhero movie making or try directing a brand new project of science fiction that does not involve an established intellectual property. How he will recover from Terminator: Dark Fate remains to be seen.

Bottom line – Terminator: Dark Fate is not recommended. You are better off skipping this movie but if you intend to watch it at all, do it out of curiosity. Don’t spend your money on this movie (the cinema, future release on streaming services, Blu-ray, DVD, etc.).

If you want to experience the cinematic greatness of the Terminator film franchise, go back to watching The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at On Deadly Ground

Way back in 1994, Warner Bros. released the action movie On Deadly Ground which marked the directorial debut of its star Steven Seagal. The movie had a poster that easily attracted the attention of avid Steven Seagal fans and eventually the film lured quite a lot of moviegoers to the cinemas.

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Even though it had a boring design, this image at cinemas excited Steven Seagal fans and moviegoers craving for action.

I never saw it in the cinemas due to a lack of time and money. Instead I saw On Deadly Ground on VHS format (and later on cable TV) in the comfort of home. That comfort however turned into disappointment after watching it.

For starters it’s a Steven Seagal movie which guarantees lots of hard-hitting action with lots of swearing. What makes it feel unique was its focus of the environment and its very forced concept about a very greedy top executive of an oil company is creating danger towards the environment as his team rushes to complete an oil rig called Aegis One in Alaska.

The execution of the movie, to say the least, is rather poor. Just about every character in the movie is one-dimensional. When it comes to action, it is typical (and very predictable) Seagal as the star gets to fight lots of bad guys without ever being hurt by them! Ironically Seagal in the film expresses pain over the treatment of his wounds.

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Star-director Steven Seagal and the film crew working on an action sequence.

And then there is the emphasis on the environment. The movie narrowly portrays the fictional oil company as the force of danger to nature and threat to indigenous people of Alaska because it is led by Michael Jennings (played by Michael Caine) who is too greedy and desperate to beat a deadline  and prevent the oil rights from reverting back to native Alaskans.

That’s right! Jenning’s Aegis had the oil rights for twenty years and all they could do is try to launch an oil refinery so near the end of the time period. Does it really take that long to construct an oil rig? What exactly did Jennings do during those twenty years? I mean, he acquired the oil rights from the natives and I could speculate he did not prioritize the construction of any oil-related business project using those same rights. Perhaps Jennings spent years touring the world, suddenly was advised that his corporation has financial trouble and only then did he go to work to make oil rig.

More on the environment, Steven Seagal plays Forrest Taft who initially serves Jennings. He eventually checks the computers of the company to find out that faulty equipment has been used and the delivery of better and more reliable equipment is coming in way too late. Taft even asked Jennings (who eventually learned about Taft’s unauthorized computer access) how much money is enough and this predictably leads to a scene in which Taft gets set up to die in an explosion.

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Michael Caine and Steven Seagal.

Unfortunately for Jennings and the other bad guys, Taft survived and got assistance from native Alaskans. Very predictably, he makes a comeback, collects weapons, performed a few destructive operations before proceeding to Aegis Oil’s rig to cause further destruction and kill bad guys!

Then the film ends with Taft giving a speech at the Alaska State Capitol focused on uncontrolled pollution, environmental destruction and big businesses’ contribution to environmental decline.

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Chinese actress Joan Chen pretending to be a native American tribe member.

It’s funny how Taft got to deliver his speech. He was not arrested for causing the oil rig’s devastation nor was held accountable for killing other people. Where are the local authorities who could have initiated an investigation? Even without Michael Jennings, the oil company could have gone to the local authorities or the federal government to accuse Forrest Taft for murder and even acts of terrorism! Also where in the world are those staunch, loudmouth environmental activists and climate change activists? The damage caused by Taft on the oil rig clearly caused damage to the natural environment with those toxic fumes from the explosions! Logic was clearly thrown out for the sake of senseless violence.

When it comes to performances, this movie is a showcase of shallow acting and cinematic expressions. Not only are the characters one-dimensional and the script really had no character development, the actors really had no where to go as far as acting is concerned. Chinese actress Joan Chen plays Masu who only serves as the English-speaking expository dialogue delivery person to help the audience understand the norms and concerns of a Native American tribe. Shari Shattuck  (who is an author and has her own Facebook page) played the pretty, bland and straight-forward special assistant to Michael Jennings. R. Lee Ermey, who is best known for playing military officers, plays the leader of a group of mercenaries who got defeated too easily by Seagal.

In terms of directing and overall presentation, this movie is clearly nothing more than a vanity project of Steven Seagal. There were many moments in the film that looked like it suggested viewers to worship and idolize Seagal. The pacing of the film is very lackluster overall.

Poorly directed scenes? One of them is the excessively violent torture scene of Hugh Palmer (played by a then 73-year-old Richard Hamilton) which showed no restraint on the part of filmmakers. The scene, which was clearly designed to make moviegoers see the evil of Michael Jennings through his henchmen’s act, would have worked better had the on-screen torture been reduced and shortened.

More on the movie’s violence, the scene showing Forrest Taft easily beating up multiple oil workers in response to the mistreatment towards a Native American man was unnecessary and overly long. Taft looked more like a senseless superhero who does not care about humanity and laws. And then there was that hand-slap game between him and “the man’s man” Big Mike (Mike Starr). The presentation of violence and bloodily injuring a man as means of enlightenment is senseless.

Ultimately On Deadly Ground is a worthless action to film to watch and I believe only die-hard Steven Seagal fans will love it. It was a very bad movie back in 1994, it’s even worse by today’s standards. On Deadly Ground is filled with bad ideas turned into film. A pro-environment concept presented as a senseless action film is a big waste. And then there is the old stereotype that a giant corporation’s head is unabashedly evil, inhuman and greedy (note: not all corporate heads of billion-dollar corporations are like that).

As such, I should say that you should never waste your time nor your money on this piece of crap.

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Note: This retro movie review was originally published at my old blog Geeks and Villagers. What you just read was the updated and expanded version. As such, this retro movie review is the most definitive version.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Joker

Let me make it clear to all of you readers. The movie Joker is NOT a superhero movie at all even though it is a cinematic adaptation focused on one of DC Comics’ biggest super villains. It is also not a movie to watch for fun and enjoyment, but it is still engaging in a very different way.

The truth is, Joker is a large art film made to shock viewers with darkness, deep grit and some graphic violence. The good news here is that the movie is very engaging and easily reminds me of two certain movies that Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese worked together on. It’s a victory for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.

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Joaquin Phoenix as the new cinematic Joker will be remembered for a long time.

Joker follows the exploits and Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling man who is hardly surviving working as an entertainer (a clown, specifically) supporting his mother and dealing with the hard life of Gotham City which was stylistically made to look like 1970s New York City. Arthur, who is living with a condition of uncontrolled laughter, looks up to TV show host Franklin Murray (played by Robert De Niro) as an inspiring figure to try out comedy and hopefully make it big to free himself and his mother from poverty.

While performing as a clown surrounded by children in a hospital, Arthur accidentally drops a gun he just received from a co-worker. Because of this, he gets fired and learns that the man who gave him the gun lied to their boss. While riding the subway still looking like a clown, he gets beaten up by three business executives who were drunk. In response, Arthur kills them with the gun and gets away. This incident starts a chain of events that causes friction between the upper class and the lower class, and then protesters wearing clown masks multiply.

On face value, Joker is clearly inspired by character-driven films of the 1970s. While it is not necessarily based on any particular comic book, it carried some slight elements from Batman: The Killing Joke. What is more obvious is that it took inspiration from De Niro-Scorsese films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.

As a psychological thriller, Joker is a great portrayal of how low a desperate man could go only to strive and survive. Arthur Fleck is greatly played by Joaquin Phoenix who carefully blends drama, anger, violence and even humor altogether. He really made the cinematic Joker his own and along the way, his Joker laught is more effective than that of Heath Ledger and the Joker physical appearance is almost as memorable as that of Jack Nicholson’s. The movie is indeed very violent but it is not overly violent. To be specific, there are a lot more deaths, acts of violence and shooting in Brian De Palma’s Scarface than this movie.

Joker also has a lively portrayal of the conflict between social classes. The scenes of the clown-masked protesters filling the trains and the streets still resonate with the socio-political rallies that happened in modern society. There is also the aspect of poor and desperate people depending on government for survival and they are easily vulnerable to getting cut off whenever resources run out.

Desperation is also a solid theme in the narrative. To see Arthur Fleck look up to Franklin Murray and imagine sharing the stage with him on TV reminds me a lot about some real-life people (who don’t have too much money) I encountered in Cebu City who can’t help but stop studying (even the older ones quit their legitimate jobs) and get into local entertainment hoping that fame and fortune will lift them up. Of course, when things get worse, desperate people would either get back to what they can live with or, worse, turn to a life of crime just to survive. With regards to Arthur’s attempt to become a comedian on screen, that easily reminds me of similar people in real life who thought they are very talented to be the next great superstars but ended up failing.

Conclusion

With its very solid direction by Todd Philips, great dramatic performances, nostalgic presentation and in-depth characterization, Joker is a must-watch movie mainly for moviegoers who want to be engaged with psychological thrills and bouts. As a DC Comics movie that is NOT connected with Warner Bros.’ current franchise of superhero movies (that started with Man of Steel in 2013), Joker works as an adulterated, standalone movie. To compare it with comic books published DC, I should say Joker is very much like an Elseworlds story. For the new comers reading this, Elseworlds was a franchise of comic books published by DC Comics that had stories using established characters but were told outside of DC universe canon.

Joker is highly recommended. Just don’t expect to see the usual superhero movie elements in this very solid DC Comics movie.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Friday The 13th (1980)

Since the successful release of John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978, the slasher horror sub-genre grew dramatically and made its mark in Hollywood. The 1980s saw the release of multiple low-budget films that shared lots of common elements with Halloween. Among them was a cheaply made flick (distributed by Paramount Pictures) that made almost $60 million worldwide.

The film was Friday The 13th which was released on May 1980. Unsurprisingly the Sean Cunningham-directed movie was poorly received by movie critics but moviegoers still flocked to the theaters to watch the cinematic horror unfold not in a suburb but in a summer camp.

This is my review of the movie.

Story

The film begins way back in the past. The late 1950s to be precise. During one night at Camp Crystal Lake, a male and female councilor attempt to make love only to find out that someone had been watching them. Both councilors got killed setting the stage for Camp Crystal Lake’s dark legacy.

Decades later, an effort was launched to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. A cute lady named Annie (played by Robbi Morgan) travels alone to the camp and along the way, people in the small town warn her about the camp’s history of murder. After hitching a 2nd ride, Annie realizes that the driver (off-camera) did not take the path to the camp. Realizing that the driver has no intention of letting her go, Annie desperately jumps off the speeding vehicle injuring herself in the process. To her horror, the driver went back, got down the vehicle and chased her into the woods. After getting caught, the driver slashes Annie’s neck.

At Camp Crystal Lake, teenagers (including a very young Kevin Bacon) arrived to take part in the reopening. What they don’t realize is that someone vicious is watching them from a distance and stalking them.

Quality

In my honest opinion, Friday The 13th is not worthy of being called a classic even though its commercial success added greatly to the slasher horror sub-genre and led to the production of multiple sequels eventually establishing Jason Voorhees (a victim in this movie) as a horror icon. By today’s standards, this movie is generic at best.

The script written by Victor Miller is serviceable. The characters are, unsurprisingly, mostly written to be killed off. What makes the movie bad is that the story is dragging for the most part and what saved it from turning into a disaster was the use of suspense, gore and shock when Alice (played by Adrienne King) got isolated on-screen.

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The characters during the snake scene. At left is Adrienne King as Alice.

As mentioned above, Jason Voorhees is the NOT the cinematic killer here at all and those who discovered the character in the later films (and wanted to go back to the beginning of this film franchise) will be disappointed to realize how irrelevant he was in this old movie.

For the sake of those discovering this movie, I won’t say who the killer is but I can say that screenwriter Victor Miller’s concept of NOT using a masked killer is creatively unique.

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Kevin Bacon in trouble!

In terms of performance, the clear standouts are Adrienne King as Alice and another actress (note: I won’t name her here due to spoiler potential) as the killer. Alice was decently built-up from the early part of the film while the killer, who arrived late in the film, was well presented to be evil, even psychotic (clearly inspired by a certain 1960 slasher movie).

With regards to stunts and kills, this movie is pretty tame when compared to its sequels. This should not be a surprise at all because nobody anticipated the movie would be a box office success to kick start a franchise. The film crew used a really small budget and they did what they could with it although they excelled with some of the gore effects (read: Tom Savini). The physical struggle between Alice and the killer was pretty raw which worked well in the context of the film since the protagonist was no fighter. The killer’s man-like aesthetic in terms of physical appearance added nicely to the suspense and horror as Alice struggled.

When it comes to cinematic concepts, Friday The 13th was written to emphasize how vulnerable people are to getting murdered in an isolated location far away from the reach of the local police and even farther away from the security of the American suburb. At Camp Crystal Lake, the teenagers had a whole lot of freedom to exploit the facilities, to engage in casual sex, make fools of themselves and the like. This is clearly the one factor that defined it and the film franchise went on to establish its legacy with the “horror at the summer camp” concept.

Conclusion

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Robbi Morgan as Annie cornered by the killer.

This is tricky. I would recommend Friday The 13th to moviegoers who are willing to endure slow-paced, mystery and suspense-filled horror flicks, and also to die-hard fans of the film franchise. However, if you discovered Jason Voorhees in the sequels and thought about watching this film (the very beginning of the franchise) to see him do what he is known for (read: killing), you will be disappointed.

As a horror movie, Friday The 13th is the product of its era and at the time of its release, the slasher horror sub-genre was just taking off. I would not recommend this movie if you are searching for more Jason but rest assured, you will get to know the complete backdrop regarding what happened to Jason, why the killings happened in the years that followed and so on. This movie also showed, in my opinion, one of the most definitive depictions of Camp Crystal Lake on the big screen.

Overall, Friday The 13th is serviceable. Not a classic, just serviceable. Nothing special at all. It’s a wonder why moviegoers back in 1980-1981 spent almost $60 million to watch this movie.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com