Maria Leonora Teresa

maria-leonora-teresa-posterVerdict: Do Something Else

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 1.78 (7 ratings)

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Director: Wenn Deramas

Writer: Keiko Aquino

Cast: Iza Calzado, Jodi Sta. Maria, Zanjoe Marudo

Synopsis: The film focuses on the troubles of three characters. Julio (Zanjoe Marudo), Faith (Iza Calzado) and Stella (Jodi Sta. Maria) all lost their daughters in a freak bus accident. The three are all grieving deeply for their loss, when a man shows up at each of their doorsteps. He claims to be a psychologist in experimental treatments, and he offers them his latest experiment. They each receive the gift of life-sized talking dolls designed to look and sound like their daughters. And for a while, having the dolls around does seem to ease their suffering, but it soon becomes clear that there is something more sinister and dangerous at play. People in their lives begin dying, and it appears that the dolls are somehow part of all this misfortune. (Click the City)

MTRCB rating: R-13

Running time: 110 mins



3.0         Oggs Cruz (Rappler)

Maria Leonora Teresa is your standard horror film. It is sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but never uninteresting.” (Read full review)


Maria Leonora Teresa started with a bang but ended in a dud. I wished whatever momentum and energy the film had was sustained until the every end.” (Read full review)


“Sure, there are a lot of moments throughout the movie that will make the audience squirm in their seats or jump out of it, but those are done as if ticking off items in a checklist. Is the victim alone? Check. Did the lights suddenly go out? Check. Is the attack coming from behind? Check.” (Read full review)

1.5         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“The film seems to severely misunderstand what exactly makes these dolls so scary. As a result, scenes that are meant to be terrifying mostly end up looking pretty silly, the movie trying in vain to sell the threat of a four-foot entity wielding a knife.” (Read full review)

1.5         Rito Asilo (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

“The film is more of a hodgepodge of flimsy, half-baked stories than fully realized tales that ooze with danger and cautionary pertinence. In fact, the movie is more vexingly funny than scary.” (Read full review)

1.5         Mario Bautista (Showbiz Portal)

“Despite the absurdity and being weighed down by its own silliness, the audience laps it up and it succeeds in being a crowd pleaser to those who go for this kind of mindless horror train ride.” (Read full review)

1.0         Armando dela Cruz (Film Police)

Maria Leonora Teresa makes a completely mangled case; from the ramshackle writing to the paper-thin characterization…It plays out, ultimately, like an exploitation of the director’s best work.” (Read full review)


Separados27x39in FINAL copyVerdict: Proceed with Caution

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 2.15 (17 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: GB Sampedro

Writers: Enrique V. Ramos, GB Sampedro

Cast: Victor Neri, Ricky Davao, Jason Abalos, Anjo Yllana, Erik Santos, Alfred Vargas, Ritz Azul, Angel Jacob, Melissa Mendez, Althea Vega, Sharmaine Arnaiz, Iwa Moto, Diana Zubiri, Sue Prado, Menggie Cobarrubias, Cris Pastor, K-La Rivera, Rhea Lim, Jace Flores, Patricia Javier, Katrina Halili, Joel Lamangan

Synopsis: Separados is a mostly bittersweet, partly comic, partly tragic saga of six men who have separated from their wives. Based on true stories, their parallel and overlapping tales are framed by a church wedding to a second wife by one of them, who grabs another chance at matrimonial bliss.

MTRCB rating: PG-13

Running time: 97 mins



3.5         Julia Allende (PEP)

“The film deals not only with physical separation of partners and its effects on men but emotional disconnection as well with people they have invested emotions in.” (Read full review)

3.5         Gelo dela Cruz (Beyond Your Five Senses)

“The film offered small bites of different flavors instead of allowing its audience to devour and enjoy a specific delicious meal. Though it would make you laugh, fall in love or in other words, be entertained, it still boils down to the question if this is the only role a film should have.” (Read full review)

3.0         Fred Hawson (ABS-CBN News)

“The unique aspect of this melodrama is that it is told completely from a male point of view, of men confiding to other men. While many would criticize it for being one-sided, I actually thought it was a refreshing change from all the usual female-driven drama stories. Director GB Sampedro has filled a long absent void for male-oriented relationship stories.” (Read full review)

3.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

“In an industry where male characters are mere catalysts to a women-centered narrative, it is refreshing to see a film that deals with the emotional troubles of Filipino men (minus the guns, goons and violence), although the treatment is on the superficial level.” (Read full review)

3.0         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

“What should be the film’s strength, however, becomes its weakness: with six separate stories to tell, some are fleshed out and some are not. Some can be summarized in one short sentence because of how little plot they actually contain. This leads to a loss of focus.” (Read full review)

3.0         J. Walking

“This film, directed by GB Sampedro, could have been perfect, really. It’s unfortunate that the rawness and unaffected material had to be subjected to such a glossy treatment. Heck, forget glossy—this is a film dripping with sap.” (Read full review)

2.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“The film manages to touch on a couple of interesting issues that don’t really get much play in mainstream cinema. But its insistence on its gimmicky structure and its multitude of stories means that none of these narratives threads actually go very deep.” (Read full review)

2.0         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

S6parados is a pure cavalier movie, written and directed to parade the sacrifices and sufferings of men just to keep their precious dignity intact, and without a doubt only a guy can come up with that inspired title.” (Read full review)

2.0         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“While the film provides 6 stories from male-centric perspectives, the film trades quantity for depth.” (Read full review)

2.0         Patrixia Mai Santos (The FilmSoc Report)

“It tries to tell six stories, but it seems it’s just one story riddled with cheap humor, sweetened with overbearing music, anchored by one single event to compensate for all of their connection.” (Read full review)

2.0         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“Wala akong tanong sa sinseridad ng materyal bilang nasa mga balita dati na may sariling koneksyon ang direktor sa mga usaping hiwalayan. Wala rin akong kaso na multi-character din ito na pinagbuhol-buhol sa isang wedding ceremony. Ang problema ko lang sa kanya, paglabas ko ng sinehan, wala akong masyadong napulot. Walang masyadong insight.” (Read full review)

1.5         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

Separados attempts a commentary on Pinoy masculinity by featuring stories of men in various stages of personal crises, but its understanding of gender dynamics is so out-of-whack, misogynistic even.” (Read full review)

1.5         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“It is also a waste that the film had this roster of actors who I think can do good if only given the right material.  Such a waste.  The melodrama was overbearing.  It was a collection of schmaltzy and sappy and somewhat misogynistic stories put together.” (Read full review)

1.5         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“There is attempt to deal with some hefty topics surrounding lost affection, but it ultimately doesn’t do it quite well. The craft of the film’s overall staging is subpar and dull, mostly choosing to have its characters act in obvious and artificial manners.” (Read full review)

1.0         Vinny Tagle (Philippine Star)

“This movie, featuring interlocking tales of six men who separated from their wives, is full of over-the-top Pinoy soap opera acting, cloyingly sentimental piano music, and shoddily developed characters. And this movie isn’t just awful, it also borders on being sexist: almost all of the men’s problems stem from some character flaw from their wives. How misogynistic.” (Read full review)

1.0         Emil Hofileña (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

“There is a complete lack of subtlety in this movie but at the same time there’s no depth, so it feels like someone is constantly screaming gibberish into your ear throughout the entire movie, trying to make you feel a certain emotion, but you can’t even figure out what they’re trying to say in the first place.”  (Watch video review)

1.0         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“The thing with S6parados is that it is already outdated; there’s nothing about it that we have already seen before, probably even better versions of these stories. And one of the film’s faults is that it did not really present anything new for such ‘perspective’.” (Read full review)

1st Ko si 3rd

1st KoVerdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.09 (22 ratings)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Writer/Director: Real Florido

Cast: Nova Villa, Dante Rivero, Freddie Webb, Ruby Ruiz, Lara Morena, RJ Agustin, Denise Barbacena, Coleen Borgonia, Ken Chan

Synopsis: A 65 year-old woman gets reunited with her first love and finally, the supposed first date happens five decades after they got separated.

MTRCB rating: G

Running time: 109 mins




4.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

1st Ko si 3rd is not a groundbreaking comedy. It is light. It is unpretentious but it is all heart, something some sophisticated or avant-garde films do not possess. The film allows us to feel the unspoken pain between laughter, which is what life and love is all about, isn’t it? Kudos to director Real Florida for creating this ‘little gem.”” (Read full review)

4.0         Patrixia Mai Santos (The FilmSoc Report)

1st Ko Si 3rd made us feel how time gets us crazy, how it hurts us with memories, and how it makes us stronger by accepting certain truths.” (Read full review)

4.0         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

“It works in multiple levels, and it’s one of those films that manages to touch people the right way. 1st Ko si 3rd is a very nuanced and poignant look into the lives of people in love (that happen to be senior citizens) packaged in an easily accessible, crowd pleasing fashion.” (Read full review)

4.0         Shayne Zalameda (Misstache)

“It is poignant and tender as it touches on your weakest sensibilities, sometimes to the point of remembering your first love. But the film is never melodramatic, though I felt really sad toward the end.” (Read full review)

4.0         Gelo dela Cruz (Beyond Your Five Senses)

“The film was intelligently crafted as it vividly depicts the lives of older people who failed to conceive children. It presents their usual habits and dilemma. The narrative is very fluid that all scenes contributed to the development of the plot and the characters, most especially, of Corazon.” (Read full review)

3.5         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“While 1st ko si 3rd is a undeniable crowd pleaser, it misses the opportunity to take its story to the next level. The film remains mostly on the surface, unable to provide weight to Cory and Third’s missed love story. 1st ko si 3rd delivers mostly on the laughs. While this hardly detracts from the overall enjoyment of the film, it does leave you with a sense that the film could’ve been so much more.” (Read full review)

3.5         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

1st ko si 3rd might have old characters in its forefront, but it’s appeal is far more beyond that. It’s bittersweet and charming.” (Read full review)

3.5         Ghio Ong (Philippine Online Chronicles)

“Aside from the kilig, the film also depicted the pain of moving on from one’s ‘great love,’ which was quite a good show of balance. It showed how the wistful yearning of past loves could be hopeful at first, but frustrating in the end.” (Read full review)

3.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“The setup is actually pretty lovely, but the film stalls in the back half as the story reveals its themes through long stretches of confessional conversation. And the film doesn’t have the verve to really follow through on the story. It’s sweet enough, but it really feels slight in the end.” (Read full review)

3.0         Jessica Zafra (InterAksyon)

“This would be tiresome if Nova Villa weren’t so watchable. Her face, so open and familiar, is like a time machine.” (Read full review)

3.0         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

“The film brims with humor that doesn’t care whether it succeeds or not—its comic moments are either hit or miss—achieving a lightheartedness that may be strained but not phony, its modesty both its weakness and strength.” (Read full review)

3.0         Fred Hawson (Fred Said)

“It tells a story you might have already seen before on a TV drama anthology. What makes this film really special is its star, Ms. Nova Villa. She definitely gives this film in general that vital spark that elevated its common story into one of uncommon poignancy and charm.” (Read full review)

3.0         Armando dela Cruz (Film Police)

“The film feels dragging as a result, but the excellent performances from the cast push the story to being a snapshot of the lives of the elderly and how they continue to love and all.” (Read full review)

3.0         Emil Nor Urao (E-Reviews)

1st Ko si 3rd is a bittersweet surrender to life. Nova Villa (Cory) carried this film with her perfect comedic timing and earnest moments. But the person that I really cared about was Dante Rivero (Alejandro) because he looks very sympathetic.” (Read full review)

3.0         Ian Rosales Casocot (The Spy in the Sandwich)

“Real Florido’s 1st Ko si Third was an enjoyable romp through geriatric romance, and a perfect showcase for the talent of the deserving character actress Nova Villa—but it was slight, like an enjoyable one-note joke that took two hours to tell.”

2.5         Andreo Calonzo (GMA News)

“To a large extent, 1st Ko Si 3rd is like the one who got away. It will please you at first with its charm. It will show some emotions. It will make you hold on to some promise. It will build your expectations for a satisfying ending, but it will fail to deliver. It will leave you wanting more, and wondering what could have been, what should have been.” (Read full review)

2.5         Emil Hofileña (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

“Nova Villa is impossible to dislike. She owns this role but does not overdo it. She’s like your grandma. She’s just really natural in this… But as charming as this movie is, a lot of the dialogue (and this movie is mostly dialogue) in this movie feels forced. If not forced, plain. It’s very expository and not very engaging.” (Watch video review)

2.5         Genesis Valencia (The G Spot)

“Villa, in her first lead role, shines throughout the film as the embers of her old flame get rekindled as she struggles to adjust with her new life as a senior citizen.” (Read full review)

2.5         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“It’s quite a lovely idea, but the finished product leaves a lot to be desired. Though it does have some pleasant moments which discusses old age, and some scenes of lightheartedness and true hilarity, the film never reaches the joyous heights that it really needs to reach.” (Read full review)

2.5         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“Hindi ko nakitang pangit ang pelikula kumpara sa mga nasabi na ng iba. Dragging lang s’ya at predictable.” (Read full review)

2.0         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

1st Ko si 3rd doesn’t require much of its audience. It is contended just with drawing kilig from the idea of senior citizens getting a second chance at romance. It’s not necessarily a bad goal, but it’s not very original either.”

2.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“The film wants to be charming and maybe it was.  It also was trying to be funny.  It succeeded in some aspects but I think that the wooden acting, the uneventful script, and the superficial storyline hindered the film from actually taking off.” (Read full review)


RONDA POSTER v2Verdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.13 (19 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Nick Olanka

Writers: Adolfo Alix, Jr., Jerome Zamora, Nick Olanka

Cast: Ai-ai delas Alas, Perla Bautista, Bernardo Bernardo, Menggie Cobarrubias, Carlo Aquino, Carlos Morales, Cogie Domingo, Moi Bien, DM Sevilla and Julian Trono, Cesar Montano, Angeli Bayani

Synopsis: A policewoman roams the city of Manila to fulfill her duties as a police patrol and to look for her lost son.

MTRCB rating: R-13

Running time: 80 mins



5.0         Renelson Morelos (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

“Everything just unfolds in a slow-burn, no-frills fashion, with the camera (superbly lensed by Albert Banzon, who frequently collaborates with Adolf Alix, Jr., one of the script’s co-writers) acting as a dispassionate observer. Ronda runs for just a mere 80 minutes, but it may require a good deal of patience from the viewers, with its narrative technique and pace, just like some works from the Romanian New Wave.” (Read full review)

4.0         Jonell Estillore (Film Police)

“What appears at first as an almost tedious character study—teeming with long shots and drowned in an equal share of social commentary and quietness—stands out as a relatable tale of lost desires behind one’s uniform.” (Read full review)

4.0         Macky Macarayan (The FilmSoc Report)

“The true power of Ronda comes from the story of a woman who has so much power in her arsenal, but even so there are some things she has no control of. Ai Ai De Las Alas renders a nuanced, stripped down performance of an ordinary cop and gives her an extraordinary focus by letting us peer into Arroyo’s psyche in moments of silence.” (Read full review)

3.5        Jenilee Chuaunsu (PEP)

Ronda manages to be both relatable and mysterious at the same time. It has all the ingredients of a well-made film, and it is definitely worth watching.” (Read full review)

3.5         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

Ronda may be a bit slow, but it is far from boring. The plot does drive us forward like any good mystery should. Ultimately, Ronda as a film is an effective one, giving us a (tantalizingly small) slice of life gone slowly out of balance.” (Read full review)

3.5         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“At its very best, it’s pretty engaging, and seems to be a commentary on the dismalness of the city and the people within it. However, much of the material presented is pretty unstable and can range from being too obvious to being too ambiguous.” (Read full review)

3.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

Ronda ends on the verge of telling a story. The whole film feels like a first act, simply establishing the routine of the main character and defining her place in the world. It’s kind of compelling as a mood piece, but the ending suggests a much more interesting story yet to be told.” (Read full review)

3.0         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“By choosing to focus solely on Arroyo, it becomes particularly strange when the film’s most pivotal moment is laid on the lap of her son. In the end, despite spending the entire film with Arroyo, there’s very gain to little gain from the short-lived patrol with her.” (Read full review)

3.0         Jessica Zafra (InterAksyon)

“Morales gives a perfectly modulated performance: he doesn’t try to have a moment, but he holds the screen in a long telephone conversation which, since we don’t hear the other party, is really a monologue.” (Read full review)

3.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

“Ai Ai de las Alas delivers a subtle dramatic performance, and so proving that she is more than just a box office comedienne.” (Read full review)

3.0         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“May ilang shade ng pagka-noir ng City After Dark pero hindi ito masyadong nag-push pagdating sa mga makukulay na karakter. Gets ko rin ‘yong gustong iparating na maraming pulis ang nasasakripisyo ang kalidad ng relasyon nito sa pamilya dahil sa serbisyo. Gusto ko si Ai-Ai delas Alas dito lalo na sa effort n’ya to underact.” (Read full review)

3.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“I loved the overall film of the film. The glacial pace. The scant dialogue. The scant music. If I do not know who’s the filmmaker behind it I would think that Adolf Alix made it, and he did.” (Read full review)

3.0         Genesis Valencia (The G Spot)

“The script’s highlights are probably the lengthy dialogues delivered in the background, which are unfailingly funny in spite of the film’s more dismal theme.  The cinematography by Albert Banzon is equally gritty, featuring the dank streets of Manila at night, complete with street children, robbers, and prostitutes.” (Read full review)

3.0         Irvin Malcolm Contreras (Letterboxd)

“Ai-Ai De Las Alas is actually an excellent dramatic actress even though she’s more known as a broad comedienne. This film lets her stretch her dramatic chops and she gives an outstanding, yet also subtle performance as a police officer going about her usual duties all the while worrying where her son was.” (Read full review)

3.0         Gelo dela Cruz (More Than Your Five Senses)

“As the protagonist circles the streets of Manila, the film introduces pertinent issues of the society such as the good cop-bad cop dilemma, the arrest of the Arroyo’s, machismo of policemen, class struggle, etc. However, it came to a point that it was too much as it tries to present many things in a single plate.” (Read full review)

2.5         Fred Hawson (ABS-CBN News)

“The main selling point of Ronda is Ai-Ai de las Alas’ rare performance in a no-frills, unglamorous and unfunny role.  Otherwise, this film could well have been two hours of just impatiently waiting for the answer of what Leo was up to for the past two nights.” (Read full review)

2.5         Emil Hofilena (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

“Olanka plays the arthouse card a bit too much. A lot of this movie is very, very slow-paced. At a certain point I didn’t feel the need for it to be slow-paced. I kinda get that a lot of this movie is about the boredom of routine life. I got that point early on but then the movie just kept being slow-paced. For me it came off as just trying to kill time. The slow pace did a disservice to the themes that this movie is trying to juggle. This movie never actually went in-depth into any of them. The themes just ended up getting lost in the boredom.” (Watch video review)

2.0         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“In the end, when the film finally decided to move the story forward, it suddenly stopped. Whether these two stories are related nor if they’re bound to be connected in the first place, I really have no idea which leads me to believe that the film would have benefited from a balance of some sort in order to either make the first part more solid or the latter part more memorable — neither of which the film achieved to do.” (Read full review)

2.0         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

Ronda, as it is, bares too much skin but has nothing much to show underneath. Rather than running and reaching many areas, it is just content jogging in place.” (Read full review)


hustisya_posterVerdict: Proceed with Caution

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 2.44 (17 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Joel Lamangan

Writer: Ricardo Lee

Cast: Nora Aunor, Rocco Nacino, Rosanna Roces, Sunshine Dizon, Gardo Versoza, Chynna Ortaleza, Jeric Gonzales, Romnick Sarmenta, Jaime Pebanco, Tony Mabesa, Miles Kanapi, Sue Prado, John Rendez, Chanel Latorre, Angela Ruiz, Menggie Cobarrubias

Synopsis: A foul-mouthed woman fights for her soul in the belly of the city. Working for a human trafficking agency controlled by a powerful syndicate, she sees no evil, hears no evil. In a society like ours, you have only two choices – to be a victim, or a victimizer – she makes her choice.

MTRCB rating: PG-13

Running time: 120 mins



3.5         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“Ito na siguro ang Joel Lamangan film na pinag-isip ako. Naroon pa rin ang mga signature na decision n’ya kung paano ie-execute ang eksena pero naaliw ako na parang nag-level up s’ya rito. Pati ‘yung ibang teknikal, naalagaan. Pati ang treatment n’ya kay Nora, light lang at punung puno ng kampante na hindi kailangan ng isang mahusay na aktres sa pelikula ang sigawan at iyakan.” (Read full review)

3.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“The movie gets far too obvious, especially in the back half. There’s a sequence near the end that lays it on pretty thick, the movie abandoning all sense of subtlety as it unleashes all the evils of Metro Manila into a single alley. Still, even the clunkier parts of the movie are elevated by the stellar performance of Nora Aunor.” (Read full review)

3.0         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“It’s a flawed yet striking film, with a ravenously engaging first half that unfortunately comes undone in its second. But while Hustisya loses focus well towards its end, it is held together by the strength of Nora Aunor’s performance.” (Read full review)

3.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

“The only thing that holds the film together is Nora Aunor’s riveting performance. Despite being burdened by an uneven script, Aunor manages to make the film very interesting as viewers follow the complex changes that her character undergoes.” (Read full review)

3.0         Renelson Morelos (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

“The Lamangan shout-out loud ‘advocacy’ and big ‘theatrics’ are admirably toned down in the film. There are still bits of those here and there, but for a good part of the film they don’t blare out in your face. More than a self-conscious sociorealist drama, Hustisya is an observant character study.” (Read full review)

3.0         Fred Hawson (ABS-CBN News)

“Nora Aunor is really an acting force to reckon with and delivers all the goods her fans expect from her. She may not seem too comfortable with the comedy aspects, with a number of one-liners that did not fly. But you cannot deny that her serious dramatic scenes were all nailed perfectly.” (Read full review)

3.0         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“At its very best, it provides a striking allegory on the twisted nature of power within Manila’s streets. But most of the times, the product isn’t as smart as its attempt. Most noticeably, the film could benefit from tighter, cleaner and subtler execution, especially once it rides to a pretty faulty and obvious finale.” (Read full review)

2.5         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

Hustisya is too concerned about accommodating (Aunor) that the drama, out of convenience, jumps from one outrageous sequence to another, and she just keeps doing what she is told.” (Read full review)

2.5         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

Hustisya covers so many different issues that we really aren’t sure where to begin. Are we supposed to care about the plight of sex trafficking? Are we supposed to do something about the rampant poverty and ennui? Are we supposed to do something about the EDCA, which is mentioned a couple of times in the film? The film’s lack of focus ultimately hurts the film’s message.” (Read full review)

2.0         Abby Mendoza (PEP)

“The film utilizes clichéd, hackneyed stereotypes—decadent, corrupt official, sexually-abusive and -abused lesbian inmates, a mama-san with a tacky fashion sense, a crook of a lawyer, a moralistic journalist whose commitment to truth does not see the light of day. All of whom could have left a mark, something striking at least, on its audience but for the lack of sincerity or heart in how they were written they turn out dull, unremarkable characters.” (Read full review)

2.0         The New Alphabet

“What could have been a daring and thought-provoking exploration of injustice in the metro through the expressive eyes of Aunor, Hustisya strode safely to its cliffhanger. It was too safe that it’s frustrating that a film, which could have been a vehicle for a powerful social commentary, wheeled linearly to its ending: no detours, no curves, and no jagged edges to at least substantiate its ominous title.” (Read full review)

2.0         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“It is the supposed game-changing incident of frame up when the film just rolled downhill. At this point, it’s now a parade of the usual Lamangan schtick which probably is his vision of a political statement. He doesn’t dip so much into these so called issues but instead, stays content with just enumerating them.” (Read full review)

2.0         Don Jaucian (Philippine Star)

“What’s even more disappointing is how Lamangan lets go of the tenuous thread he’s built in the first half of the film, an intriguing (and often comedic, thanks to La Aunor’s bite) descent into the seedy underbelly of Manila’s cybersex dens, human trafficking, and high-level corruption.” (Read full review)

2.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“Technical wise, the film was leaps better than his previous late works.  I also admire that it felt he was experimenting in form.  Working in the independent scene rubbed some different style on him.  But I had a problem with that as well. There were times that I was watching several films at once.” (Read full review)

2.0         J. Neil Garcia

Hustisya‘s strongest–and probably, only–virtue is, of course, the expectedly stellar performance of its lead, Nora Aunor. Her character… is something of a sympathetic antiheroine with a personal moral code (she may be a human trafficker, but she doesn’t like to lie) and… arrives at her own belated (and, sadly, narratively gratuitous) realization that not only is she being framed by the person who’s supposed to be her devoted and lifelong friend (played to the matronly, libidinously capacious, and chronically itchy hilt by Rosanna Roces), there’s also something morally wrong with her participation in the human trafficking business that apparently is so profitable it has generated its own elaborate economy of shadowy investors, benefactors, go-betweens, procurers, etc. Aunor does a masterful job heroically sustaining her character’s agonizing mimesis in this unwieldy, convoluted, and misguided story, vacillating from good to bad to uncertain to good and finally to maniacally laughing bad throughout a mostly confused and unavailing plot, that leaves one by turns scratching one’s head and cavernously yawning, each time character twists and reversals take place in this story with the ease and inevitability of a sneeze…”

1.5         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

“Unlike Bing Lao, Ricky Lee has not adjusted his writing to more visual, more organic forms of storytelling, and Lamangan, stuck in the same template, does not help at all with his signature in-your-face, throw-everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach. Hustisya may be a tad more tolerable than the pair’s most recent efforts, but they’re really too venerable and experienced to be graded on a curve.”

1.5         Patricia Denise Chiu (GMA News)

“There is a thin line between criticizing the justice system and justifying a crime or the actions of a criminal. Hustisya, never mind its bad sound and imagery, falls flat simply because it did not tell a cohesive story at all.” (Read full review)

Once a Princess

Once-A-Princess-PosterVerdict: Proceed with Caution

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 2.50 (3 ratings)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Director: Laurice Guillen

Writer: Angel Bautista

Cast: Erich Gonzales, Enchong Dee, JC de Vera, Matt Evans, Nikki Valdez, Bryan Santos, Tippy Dos Santos

Synopsis: Back in high school, nerdy, unassuming Leonard (Enchong Dee) managed to win the heart of Erin (Erich Gonzales), the “campus princess” of Gibbons International School. But Erin ended up breaking his heart, choosing to be with Damian (JC de Vera) the son of a wealthy congressman who could provide salvation for her ailing, bankrupt family. The movie then moves six years later. Erin and Damian are married and barely scraping by. Erin decides to get herself a job to earn money while Damian is sidelined with a leg injury. Her boss turns out to be a much-changed Leonard, and he’s looking to show her just how different he really is. (Click the City)

MTRCB rating: PG

Running time: 115 mins



3.0         Oggs Cruz (Rappler)

“The love story is just a frame for the grit that Guillen portrays with more resounding enthusiasm. Once a Princess comes alive when Erin is in agony. In the name of love, she allows herself to be victimized.” (Read full review)


“Making the viewers think and ponder is different from making them confused and disappointed. Unfortunately this movie falls in the latter category.” (Read full review)

2.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

Once A Princess is a good story in theory, but that isn’t what plays out on screen. It just feels like a lot of people overreacting, the romantic side of this equation never really compelling enough to justify the story’s operatic turns.” (Read full review)

Hari ng Tondo

HariVerdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.26 (23 ratings)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna

Writer: Bibeth Orteza

Cast: Robert Arevalo, Rez Cortez, Cris Villonco, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Lorenz Martinez, Liza Lorena, Lui Manansala, Aiza Seguerra, Carlos Canlas, Mark Tayag, Ciara Sotto, Gian Magdangal, Eric Quizon, Ali Sotto, Audie Gemora, Hans Eckstein, Raul Montesa, Jelson Bay, Gino Ramirez, Menggie Cobarrubias

Synopsis: A grandfather on the brink of bankruptcy brings his grandchildren back to the community that made and shaped him, only to find out the place is no longer the same.

MTRCB rating: PG

Running time: 90 mins




“Masaya, makabuluhan, at napapanahon, sinasalamin ng pelikulang ito ang buhay Pinoy, kaya makaka-relate ka sa mga scenes, depende sa estado mo sa buhay. Sa kabuuan, lalabas ka ng sinehan na inspired para simulang may baguhin sa sarili o may matutunang bago.” (Read full review)

4.0         Phillip Cu-Unjieng (Philippine Star)

“What’s truly engaging about the film is how we may start off with archetypes, but are constantly floored by how these characters develop — obviously a nod to the LGBT community, which results in an astute modernizing of these archetypes.” (Read full review)

4.0         Jonell Estillore (Film Police)

Hari ng Tondo‘s delivery as a piece of comedy and family drama sums it up as a piece full of heart, thanks to the outstanding performance of its cast and smoothly-paced story.” (Read full review)

3.5         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

Hari ng Tondo might feel a little corny. It might feel a little old-fashioned. It certainly feels dramatically miscalculated at points. But there is never any doubt of the film’s genuine heart. Through its sheer earnestness, the film can win you over.” (Read full review)

3.5         Katrina Stuart Santiago (Manila Times)

“We have a local audience that’s quick to judge films about the poor to be poverty porn, and films about the middle class to be shallow and superficial. That Hari ng Tondo does not cross this line between these two kinds of films, and instead stands quite steadily on that line—insisting that there is a story to be told right there—is its daring.” (Read full review)

3.5         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

Hari ng Tondo marks the return of Carlos Siguion-Reyna, whose prominent movies are notable for being affectingly contrived, and his confidence to push things over is still there, only now he’s unsympathetic and relaxed. It may not be an ideal comeback, but it’s delightfully enough.” (Read full review)

3.5         Renelson Morelos (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

“The director’s treatment of the story may appear to be too simplistic and obvious at times (learning life’s lessons by being immersed in poverty, those metaphors, etc), but the film has this charming and light-hearted energy that one will eventually find oneself humming along its tunes.” (Read full review)

3.5         Jennifer Dugena (PEP)

“The film has its head in the clouds with cheesy lines and scenes that, with a little nudge, border on being musicals; but it remarkably also has its feet on the ground with in-your-face honesty and distinctly Pinoy humor that is cruel and tender all at the same time.” (Read full review)

3.5         Fred Hawson (Fred Said)

“This was a very entertaining film which at the same time tells us a lot about life in the urban slums.  The message at the end is loud and clear dedicated to people who had been successful enough to have moved out of Tondo to give back to it.” (Read full review)

3.5         Emil Hofileña (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

Hari ng Tondo is just plain fun. The thing that makes this movie so likable is the fact that the characters are so likable. It’s great that the movie spent a lot of time really letting us into the world of the characters, letting us understand the, letting us like them.” (Watch full review)

3.5         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“This is a crowd pleasing film whose cheesy approach will appeal aims to both serious critics and casual movie goers. The ensemble was commendable, and the songs here were really catchy. Dare I say, that by far, the local feel good film of the year.” (Read full review)

3.5         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“The film presents a cheerful place and people who are truly worthy of sympathy and support. So, despite its numerous flaws, the film is nothing short of a crowd-pleaser, and is simply great fun. (Just be prepared to have a song really stuck in your head afterwards.)” (Read full review)

3.0         Oggs Cruz (Twitch)

Hari ng Tondo works quite well as a crowd-pleaser. Its eccentric mix of toilet humor, popcorn musicality, familiar family drama, and skin-deep social commentary is actually enjoyable the very same way a lot of the better-made consumable fare available on television is enjoyable.” (Read full review)

3.0         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“It’s a film built for the popcorn stands with the engrained promise of a good time. While it may not please those looking for more substance in their cinema, it will satiate those who are willing, at least for time being, to put it aside.” (Read full review)

3.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

“Only Carlitos Siguion-Reyna can direct such a feel good movie that warms the heart of every middle class viewer and bury the guilt of the oligarchy.  Fifteen minutes into the film, viewers can safely assume that the story will end up optimistically but without really questioning the status quo.” (Read full review)

3.0         Ian Rosales Casocot (The Spy in the Sandwich)

“The usual comedic shenanigans and dramatic epiphanies unfurl like clockwork, which is not bad at all—but there is a sense of forcedness in the execution that leaves this film feel a tad empty.” (Read full review)

3.0         Macky Macarayan (PLM Film Society)

“Veering away from the visual and narrative cliches that have pervaded independent cinema’s depiction of Tondo these past couple of years (i.e. Tondo as dark, dank, decrepit, and beyond salvation), Hari ng Tondo balances its treatment of Tondo between nostalgia and optimism.” (Read full review)

3.0         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“Parody kung parody na may kasama pang Greek chorus. Gusto ko ang pagka-game ng cast, ‘yong bilis ng mga eksena at ‘yong sobrang klaro ang vision ng gumawa.” (Read full review)

3.0         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

Hari ng Tondo is an entertaining film, but it’s too saccharine for my taste. There’s some potential in the last third, but the overall film is a film that didn’t make that much of an impression on me.” (Read full review)

3.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“It was also refreshing to see a film that was set in the slums that as not grim nor did it sensationalize what it was like living there.” (Read full review)

2.5         J. Neil Garcia

“Offhand, it seems appropriate to review Hari ng Tondo and Children’s Show together, seeing as how they’re both set in contemporary Tondo, and make a big to-do of the density–as well as the profundity–of this district’s well-known destitution and misery…

Of course, the commonality ends there. In a parody of the legendary local gangster’s epithet, Hari ng Tondo is a commercial and mainstream melodrama (with a bit of a musical thrown in for good measure), starring bankable and popular-enough actors, and purveying the platitude of a hopeful and humanistic message through the most improbable of silly plots. Namely: an aging and recently bankrupt multimillionaire seeks to regain his previous prowess by repatriating himself back to his childhood home, and in the process even manages to convince his two well-born, entirely gentrified, but visibly angsty grandchildren to join him in an extended ‘slumming’ expedition, which eventuates in warm feelings and epiphanies for everyone, including the ragtag but golden-hearted gang of residents of this especially immiserated corner of the jaggedly uneven city… Before i aggravate myself any further, i just have to remember that this is a ‘directors showcase’ film, after all (coming, no less, from the eminent Orteza-Siguion-Reyna franchise). As such it can’t really be expected to be as earnest as the ‘new breed’ films, cranked out by eager and up-and-coming filmmakers, who are typically more serious in their aesthetic dispositions (because they supposedly are, among other things, at once less tractable and more needful of quick acclaim)…”

2.0         Jason Jacobo (Young Critics Circle)

“In Hari ng Tondo, Carlitos Siguion Reyna proposes a notion of social reform: a naive inflection of the pedagogical immersion which fantasizes the turning of the bourgeois subject into a political animal attuned to the contradictions of nation formation. What could have been a comedy of Philippine manners is reduced to an apology of capitalist conscience, an argument that intensely misreads a fundament of the theology of liberation.” 

2.0         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

“It’s hard to sympathize with the characters when the script aims to please the crowd more than respect the multidimensionality of humans, treating almost everyone as a cartoon character – sketched very broadly and doing things out of the flimsiest  motivations.”


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