This latest entry offers a bizarre combination of the only films I watched during the Lenten season (a habit I started last year). Not to mistakenly compare apples to oranges, these two films are quite similar in extending the proposed cinematic universe of their source materials. A charming British romantic fantasy, Cinderella leads the pageantry of Disney princesses made alive onscreen (to be followed by Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and the recently announced live adaptation of Mulan). Meanwhile, the mythology of Lotus Feet is further explored in Feng Shui 2 which disappointingly doesn’t supplement the ingenious and native horror of the original.
Cinderella may not be my favorite fairy tale but among its onscreen contemporaries, the Kenneth Branagh-directed live adaptation is the most pleasing and satisfying. Forgoing dark hues and undertones (as played by Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent), CINDERELLA is a picturesque modern retelling whose beauty doesn’t just capture the visual design and fantasy fervor from its naïve fictional pages. Romanticism aside, the fantasy film scores a more realistic approach to feminism by forging an empowered Ella (Lily James), whose mantra in life (‘have courage and be kind’) enabled her to weather the vile treatment of her stepfamily and clinch the happy ending she deserves. Excluding the magic of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), CINDERELLA as a British period piece is still entrancing, courtesy of the refreshing and palpable pairing of James and Richard Madden (Robb Stark of Game of Thrones). Cate Blanchett slips into the villainous territory naturally, shifting gears in her signature grace from the rippling farce of Lady Tremaine with her ditzy daughters, to the terrorizing matriarch goaded by greed and envy. CINDERELLA’s benevolent values of compassion, forgiveness and resilience refine this worthy cinematic complement to the beloved fairy tale. That, alongside the efficacious recreation of the story’s fantastic atmosphere, sets the standard of the succeeding live adaptions to balance the personal and whimsical elements onscreen, just like finding the perfect fit for those memorable glass shoes.
FENG SHUI 2
A jargon in economics, the ‘law of diminishing marginal returns’ is what I refer to Kris Aquino’s cinematic cash cow produce whose scream queen status since Feng Shui (2004) spawned four horror films of receding quality. On the other hand, Director Chito S. Roño has then directed three horror follow-ups of similar unsatisfactory results. Together, their latest reunion project is possibly the weakest that can’t be even salvage by Coco Martin’s promising efforts. FENG SHUI 2 is an unnecessary sequel that doesn’t invite the curiosity on its most recognized, bleached legend’s backstory, nor inspire to frighten apart from shock value and gore that Roño repeats from the playbook of The Healing. FENG SHUI 2’s imprudent entertainment value is elicited through the silly appearances of Lotus Feet and the dreary exposition (tell and show) that impale the film’s momentum, particularly when Aquino’s character begins to eclipse Martin’s. The idea of the bagua haunting a new victim-owner is thrilling at first, sort of a fresh adventure ridden of mysterious deaths. Lotus Feet’s grandest ploy is orchestrated to justify the sequel’s existence but the outcome still gravitates to Joy that could tease another installment, thus defeating the establishment of Lester’s story. Mainstream cinema has yet to offer Martin a worthy script that won’t downplay his talents. FENG SHUI 2 is a forgettable and futile horror flick that doesn’t augment the franchise. Regardless of the stories left to tell (if told well), the original Feng Shui is sufficient to immortalize its supernatural Chinese ghost.
HAPPY EASTER! 🙂