Birds of Prey: Long Live The Quinn

In Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) moves on from the Joker and embarks on a crazy adventure in the city of Gotham with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).

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The Beardict: 8.25 out of 10. Birds of Prey is loads and loads of fun so you should definitely see it. It’s a flashy, action-packed superhero film with a heart, where storytelling is not sacrificed for the sake of laughs and violence. Margot Robbie proves once again that she is perfect for the role of Harley Quinn. She’s so effective as the Clown Princess of Crime that I’d watch a movie with her just narrating and doing monologues. The all-female team was fleshed out quite well and did not come together just because they had to. Plus, it has a hyena named Bruce. What more can you ask for?

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#1 Margot Freakin’ Robbie. Robbie first gained international stardom when she appeared alongside Leonardo Di Caprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Since then, she’s been in a flurry of movies where she always shines. However, much like Hugh Jackman can be the only Wolverine, Robbie is so great at playing Dr. Harleen Quinzel that it’s hard to imagine anybody else in the role. She totally gets Harley’s voice, mannerisms, and emotions. Right now, I feel like going on a Margot Robbie marathon just because I can’t get enough of her.

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#2 The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Since I know some things about the Birds of Prey in the comic books, I was slightly concerned that the initial trailer for this movie seemed to focus too much on Harley and not on the core members of the group (Huntress, Black Canary). When I saw the Emancipation subtitle, things became clearer. I was quite happy that they did not dwell on the events after the Joker broke Harley out of prison at the end of Suicide Squad (2016). Let’s face it—Joker is a full-fledged psycho, and their time together is the epitome of a toxic relationship. Here, Harley gets some alone time, and she gets to reflect on the questionable decisions she’s made in the past because of love. She experiences a lot of character growth and is not on the screen just to be sexy and weird, which was unfortunately kind of the case in her appearance in Suicide Squad.

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#3 Organic All-Female Team. One of the best things in Birds of Prey is how these awesome ladies (with different circumstances and motivations) came together naturally for a cause. This is a total opposite of what happened in Avengers: Endgame, where all the heroines like Captain Marvel, the Scarlet Witch, and Wasp just converged in one area of the battlefield randomly. Furthermore, Birds of Prey is a movie about girl power and female empowerment, and it does this without painting all men as evil. Some men are just extremely evil, like the Joker and Black Mask/Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

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#4 Suicide Squad Recognition and a Grounded Gotham. Although Birds of Prey is leagues away from Suicide Squad in terms of quality, I am quite pleased that they did not pretend like it didn’t happen (even though it was lambasted by fans and critics alike). After all, that’s where Harley Quinn first appeared in the DCEU. In her GQ interview, Director Cathy Yan talks about the things she decided to retain from Suicide Squad, and how they helped her build the Birds of Prey world. In fact, there are references to the 2016 film: Harley talks about “saving the world” (although she doesn’t mention that it’s from a creepy, belly-dancing Cara Delevingne) and even finds a WANTED poster at the police station of Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney).

That being said, Yan’s Birds of Prey is definitely more grounded and leaves out (most of) the supernatural stuff, as she pits our heroines against mob bosses and goons who need to get their asses kicked. Her depiction of Gotham is also more lively, and is very far from how Todd Phillip’s portrayed it in Joker (2019) – a city in decay.

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#5 Engaging Script. Harley Quinn narrating was a good move, as it helped the audience understand what was going on. It felt like your favorite friend was letting you in on the shenanigans she did the night before. Writer Christina Hodson gave each member of the Birds of Prey distinct personalities, which can be explored even more if ever we’re going to get a sequel (Trivia: Hodson is also in-charge of the screenplay for The Flash and Batgirl, which is probably why Barbara Gordon, a central Birds of Prey figure in the comic books, was not featured in this movie). Humor was relatable and did not seem forced, which was the vibe I got during some of the scenes from The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017).


#6 Non-Stop Action. Birds of Prey’s runtime is 109 minutes, and there’s never a dull moment. People get punched, shot at, and hit with a baseball bat (or hammer – I can still recall Harley’s faced filled with glee as she used it on her enemies) repeatedly. The fight scenes and choreography are top-notch. Because they went with the R-16 route, there is no shortage of blood at all—a bona fide festival of violence that can rival Deadpool’s.

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#7 DCEU – Back in Business. It feels like the dark days of the DC Cinematic Universe are finally behind them (I’m talking to you, Martha!). Aquaman got a billion dollars in the box office and Shazam! pulled off a family-oriented superhero movie. Wonder Woman 1984, slated to be in theaters this June, seems to be very promising. Birds of Prey has a chaotic brilliance to it that was not seen in both Suicide Squad and Justice League (2017), and it opens up the stage for a plethora of Gotham characters. I’m particularly interested in the future dynamic between Robert Pattinson’s Batman and Robbie’s Harley Quinn. In the comic books, Harley eventually realizes that Batman is a waaay better person than the Joker, and has teamed up with him several times already. Indeed, the future is bright and the possibilities are endless.

I know forecasted U.S. weekend box office numbers are not that promising right now, but do give Birds of Prey a shot. Harley Quinn and the gals can surprise you in a very good way!

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), now showing in cinemas!

1917: A Tour de Force at the Trenches of WWI

1917 focuses on the day of April 6, 1917, and the two British soldiers tasked to deliver the message that can stop the massacre of 1,600 men.

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The Beardict: 8.75 out of 10. Without a doubt, 1917 is one of the most unique and suspenseful films I’ve ever watched. I now fully understand why it was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars. If it doesn’t win Best Picture, then it’s at least going to win Best Cinematography, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. 1917 was able to transport the audience to the harsh conditions of World War I, and it didn’t even need 3D to do it.


#1 Super Cinematography. A lot of things in 1917 are amazing, but its extraordinary cinematography pretty much tops everything else. Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins, who won an Oscar in 2018 for Blade Runner 2049, brings his A game to this epic war drama. This is the first movie I’ve watched wherein the entire thing has no visible breaks, and seems to have been shot in one take. Although Deakins reveals in a New York Times interview that in reality, the longest shot was only seven minutes, the fact that all 119 minutes of the film is seamless is quite impressive. Because the camera is always following the main characters, it feels like wherever they are, the audience is right there with them.

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#2 Excellent Use of Sound. Not far behind the cinematography is 1917’s sound quality. The thudding of boots, the gushing of water, the ravaging of fire, and the scurrying of rats–all of these were given special attention, leading to such a solid experience. During the action scenes, every rifle shot fired by the Germans surprised me, and a part of me felt like I could get hit. Seriously!

#3 Randomness and Cruelty of War. From history books and documentaries, we have learned that war is very bad for everyone involved, especially for the soldiers in the frontlines. 1917 builds on this by showing us that more than the fighting and the shooting, it’s the other things that make it quite terrible–the collateral damage, the health risks in the form of infection and rodents, the lack of food, the random and senseless deaths, and the fact that you’re all fighting under the same flag but almost everyone is a stranger to you, while your real family is waiting back home.

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#4 The Duty of Soldiers. 1917 centers on Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and their mission to prevent 1,600 soldiers from walking into a trap set up by the Germans. At the very start, we get a sense that both of them are good men who believe in the cause. However, as the story progresses, we see that the two have a difference in perspective: Blake relishes in being a soldier and dreams of netting glory and awards for his bravery in the battlefield, while Schofield doesn’t particularly like it. Nonetheless, they both know that they need to do this arduous task no matter what. Their conversations with each other flesh out who they are as people, and this is very effective in making us care about what happens to them. As acclaimed as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) was, I didn’t feel any connection to any of the characters presented on the screen.

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#5 Communication is Key. They say human relationships nowadays suffer because of the lack of communication. However, a hundred years ago, as 1917 reminds us, it was a matter of life and death. It was up to two men on foot to deliver an urgent message across fields and rivers littered with enemies and natural obstacles, when all it would take today is a single click. If today, there is a surplus of people peddling fake news, back then, there was an inability to get proper news at all. Life is hard and dangerous today, but life was REALLY hard and dangerous during 1917.

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#6 The Brilliance of Sam Mendes. Mendes is no stranger to the Academy Awards. In the 2000 Oscars, he won Best Director for American Beauty (1999). 20 years after, he has a legitimate chance of striking gold again. This time around, he’s also nominated for Best Original Screenplay–because 1917 was inspired by the stories his grandfather, a WWI veteran, told him about. I like how he used 1917 to provide a fresh angle on the First World War, something that popular culture doesn’t really cover that often.

#7 The Lord of the Rings Feel. Schofield and Blake’s mission reminded me a lot about Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (After all, the great J.R.R. Tolkien served in the British Army during WWI, and his experiences there heavily influenced his writing). The scene where Schofield swims through the water with dead bodies piled up is reminiscent of Frodo going through the Dead Marshes in the LoTR: The Two Towers. The hobbits are not as celebrated as characters like Aragorn or Legolas, but we all know that they did a lot of heavy lifting–heavy lifting that ordinary soldiers like Schofield and Blake also did in 1917.

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#8 Spot-on Casting. George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman aren’t as well known as the actors supporting them (Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Richard Madden), but I think that’s the point–1917’s main characters were not given the right amount of attention in history, and now the spotlight is on them.

It’s quite amusing as well that Chapman and Madden play brothers in this film, as opposed to their enemy relationship in HBO’s Game of Thrones (Chapman played King Tommen Baratheon while Madden played Robb Stark, The King in the North). Cumberbatch’s Colonel Mackenzie is also eerily similar to his role in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (2011): Major Jamie Stewart.

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All in all, 1917 is a must-watch even if you’re not a war movie fan. If you like cinema as a medium along with the entertainment it brings, then you should definitely watch it right after reading this review. Haha!

Photos courtesy of United International Pictures. 1917, available in cinemas near you! 


Richard Jewell shows how being a good person is very, very hard

As human beings, we make decisions daily. And most of the time, what we end up doing is not necessarily the best for others. We tend to choose what’s easiest given the resources that we have, and we move on with our lives. That is why whenever we meet someone who shows even a hint of altruism, we stop and think if there are ulterior motives: “Wait a minute…What’s in it for this person?”

Then, we realize that standing before us is an outlier. While we feel blessed to experience such kindness, we also dread how society can take advance of our outlier friend.

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Richard Jewell, a helpful security guard assigned to Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, is one such outlier.  Based on true events and on Marie Brenner’s Vanity Fair piece called “American Nightmare–The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” Richard finds a bomb during his shift and manages to save lives in the process. Initially hailed as a hero, the media and the government eventually twist the narrative and make him the enemy of the people.

The #Beardict: 8.25 out of 10. Richard Jewell is a movie for everyone who’s always wanted to do good but is afraid to step up, be in the spotlight, and face the (negative) consequences. With outstanding cinematography and solid performances from veteran actors such as Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell, the film excellently portrays the rocky path to doing the right thing. Director Clint Eastwood delivers yet another cinematic gem that tackles the complexities of being a decent human being.

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“No good deed goes unpunished.” This is why people are hesitant to help out, but it didn’t seem to bother Richard Jewell (played by Paul Walter Hauser–a dead ringer for Jewell). He just knew that he had to do what he had to do. As the story progresses, we realize that Jewell is not perfect and his inability to defend himself and see the bad side of people can be downright frustrating. His overzealous nature in performing his duties made him strange in the eyes of society, and he became an easy target. Fortunately, for him, he had loyal allies who never doubted his innocence–his mom Bobi (Kathy Bates, who recently was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the film), and his friend turned lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell). Bryant and Jewell’s friendship is proof that random acts of kindness, the ones where you don’t expect anything in return, can never be classified as overrated.

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The detractors in Richard Jewell, journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) and FBI lead agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), cannot be classified as villains. They’re not really bad people, but they just 1) prioritized the easier route in bringing success to their own lives and 2) were in disbelief that a shining beacon of hope like Jewell could actually exist.

Clint Eastwood is really a master when it comes to making meaningful heavy drama that tugs at your heartstrings. I was hanging on to every scene, with both my mind and heart racing in anticipation. For sure, Richard Jewell is right there with Eastwood classics such as Gran Torino (2008) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) in terms of quality. The way the 90s was brought to life was superb (using actual footage from the Summer Olympics was a nice touch), and there were no dragging parts even thought the film is over two hours long.

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Personally, I found Richard Jewell so relatable because of a lot of things. I’ve been told multiple times by friends and family that I’m such a nice guy, sometimes “too nice” for my own good. I’ve been judged by others because of how much I weigh or because of what I’ve done in the past. To top it all off, I have a supportive mom who always has my back when times get rough. Trust me: give this film a watch, and you’ll be in a reflective mood once you leave the movie theater.

Richard Jewell celebrates the goodness that a person can achieve, despite obstacles in the way. The film reminds us that being the Good Samaritan may not be the easiest thing to do, but we must become one anyway since not everyone will be willing to.

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Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines. Catch Richard Jewell in cinemas near you, starting January 15!

Joker Proves That A Film About A Comic Book Villain Can Be Oscar-Worthy

The Beardict: 9.25 out of 10.

Anarchy starts within a person, and then it spreads like wildfire to a society just waiting for a catalyst. Joker (2019) is a disturbing piece of cinema worthy of Academy Awards and the utmost praise. Warner Bros. successfully abandons the traditional superhero movie approach and transcends the genre through this well-crafted origin story. By going all out in his transformation from Arthur Fleck to the Clown Prince of Crime, Joaquin Phoenix makes audiences everywhere shudder at just how effective he is at playing a deranged individual. 



I honestly didn’t know who Director/Writer Todd Phillips was before Joker (2019), and when I looked up what he did, I was surprised to find raunchy comedies such as The Hangover Trilogy and Old School under his belt. I suppose you can make a case that Joker is just a different brand of “comedy,” as it’s probably the saddest movie of all time with the most laughter in it. Phillips’ familiarity with the subject of humor must have been responsible for the inclusion of the laughing disease officially called “emotional incontinence” or the “pseudobulbar affect” (which explains why Arthur laughs uncontrollably during random moments), as well as Joker’s speech about who’s to decide which material is funny or not.


In the Philippines, the uncut version of Joker (2019) was released and slapped with an R-16 rating, and for good reason. Mature themes such as mental illness, suicide, bullying and abuse were tackled immensely. When it came to the violence, it was not gratuitous at all as each kill and act of brutality were instrumental to Joker’s character development.

There has always been some mysticism in terms of how Joker came to be, and even comic book stories over the years have offered up various explanations. However, this time around, we get a solid look inside the complex mind of one Arthur Fleck, who’s suffering from mental illness and is constantly being pushed over the edge. The fact that we get to know a lot about his thought process without character narration is a testament to how great this movie is.


Someone like the Joker doesn’t just happen overnight. The film excellently lays out how an awkward outcast becomes a full-fledged psychopath. One could say that in the beginning, Arthur was just an average person doing his best to survive. He worked as a clown to bring joy to people. He liked to dance, had dreams to do stand-up comedy, and took care of his ill mother (as any responsible son would). However, the cruel nature of Gotham quelled any shot he had of living a happy life. Aside from the beating he regularly took from strangers, the city cut funding for his therapy sessions and pills, and the divide between the rich and the poor grew even wider.


It didn’t help that he also had daddy issues, and Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) and Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) were potential father figures who failed him.  To make matters worse, both of them represented Gotham’s elite, who were not necessarily bad people but just way out of touch when it came to reality. To say that his relationship with his neighbor Sophie (Zazie Beetz) also complicated things is a severe understatement.


Joaquin Phoenix has played a host of characters over the years, from Commodus in Gladiator (2000) to Theodore in Her (2013). However, his take on Arthur/Joker has to be his best performance ever. From his facial expressions, voice, to his body movements and mannerisms–how he made the role his own is both impressive and downright terrifying. It’s so convincing that it makes me want to ask him in real life if he is feeling okay. Seriously. That being said, I’m glad Phoenix didn’t take the role of Doctor Strange because it looks like he was really meant to play the Joker. Together with the superb sound editing and score, he made every scene he was in riveting. In case It Chapter Two and Pennywise were not enough in making us scared of clowns last month, then Phoenix’s Joker will surely do the trick, and he didn’t need supernatural powers at all to accomplish it.


Indeed, Joker doesn’t have a superpower, but his unpredictability comes close to being one. When we were at the cinema, viewers were literally squealing in their seats because no one was sure of what was going to happen next. A very calm scene could lead to a gut-wrenching one in a span of three seconds. When Joker finally strips himself of inhibitions and stops giving a crap about things, he becomes downright lethal. He changes his mind often but once committed to a decision, he implements it ruthlessly without a single shred of remorse. He doesn’t think he’s good, but he doesn’t think he’s evil either. He just thinks and then acts, consequences be damned. 


Although Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece The Dark Knight (2008) was released more than 10 years ago, many still regard it as the best Batman movie of all time. Clearly, Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker had a lot to do with that. While we’re not here to debate who the better Joker is, and obviously, Joker (2019) exists outside of the Christian Bale trilogy, we can confidently say that Phoenix’s Joker is a believable predecessor of Ledger’s Joker (except for that problematic 20-year Bruce Wayne age gap presented). All the self-doubt was already gone in Ledger’s Joker, and he was very comfortable in his own skin, which is how Joker (2019) ended. Gotham’s criminals gravitated towards him because of the chaos he represented. Phoenix’s Joker could have easily said this famous line from The Dark Knight: “Madness, as you know, is a lot like gravity. All it takes… is a little push.”


If you’re keeping up with pop culture, you’ve probably seen memes of the Joker dancing on a flight of stairs, edited to include Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) from Spider-Man 3 and sometimes even Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) from the Star Wars prequels. While the memes are quite hilarious and all, the real scene is actually pivotal to the film as it is the exact moment where Arthur breaks free from the bonds of society. All his life, he tried his best to conform to a city which consistently rejected him, but no more. He celebrated Arthur Fleck’s death and the Joker’s birth with spectacular over-the-top dancing. Finally, he was visible and had the stage, and can now shape the world to his advantage.

Without a doubt, Joker (2019) is an affair unlike any other movie that deals with superheroes and villains out there. It is a cinematic masterpiece (albeit, a depressing one) by DC Films that centers on a psychopathic murderous clown and touches on several very controversial topics, something Marvel Studios won’t be doing anytime soon. If Avengers: Endgame is the type of movie that gets your heart beating with excitement, then Joker is one that will punch it several times to remind you that life is painful, and you have to live with that pain.


Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Joker is out now in cinemas near you!









Amazon’s The Boys Reminds Us To Never Meet Our Heroes (A Non-Spoiler Review)

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If you have not yet subscribed to Prime Video (Amazon’s streaming service), then now is the perfect time. Why? Because their newest show The Boys is an absolute beast, and I mean that in the very best way. Why else would it be one of the most-watched Amazon Originals just two weeks after its release?

The Boys, based on Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s Dynamite Entertainment comic books of the same name, takes us to a world where superheroes are celebrities controlled by Vought International, a corporation which puts profit, image, and power over saving lives. Their primary group of heroes are called The Seven, led by the all-powerful Homelander (Antony Starr). After suffering a personal tragedy, young Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) gets recruited by the mysterious Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) in his quest to “spank” the supes and their excessive ways.

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The Beardict: 9 out of 10. The Boys just blew me away with its compelling story line, flashy costumes, and over-the-top acts of violence. It could very well fill the TV show void that Game of Thrones unceremoniously left behind. The treatment of superheroes as demi-gods is both fantasy and reality, as we do tend to put our idols on a pedestal and not look beyond the surface. It asks one of the most important questions of our time: how much control does the average person have when he/she is surrounded by giants?


Superheroes with super flaws. We were fortunate enough to attend The Boys’ panel during San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Fun fact: They announced that the show was already renewed for Season 2 even before it premiered on July 26, which tells us a lot about Amazon’s confidence in The Boys.

There, showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and executive producer Seth Rogen (Preacher) talked about how The Boys is the perfect counter to all the Marvel and DC superhero movies that have dominated pop culture recently. And they’re right, it’s essentially a parody of the genre because of how The Seven, basically a dysfunctional version of the Justice League, are presented: Homelander is a hybrid Superman-Captain America with psychopathic tendencies, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) is a jaded Wonder Woman, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is an extremely irresponsible Flash, and the Deep (Chace Crawford) is a messed-up and laughably depowered Aquaman. Only newcomer Starlight (Erin Moriarty), their version of Dazzler, is up to the task of actually making a positive difference in the world, and she quickly finds out that Vought may not be on the same page as her.


It’s all about control and manipulation. In Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers fights against the Sokovia Accords because he believes that the Avengers should supervise themselves. In The Boys, instead of the American government, Vought’s VP Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) controls the superheroes’ every move. If they save someone, it must be on camera. If a bystander gets hurt, then marketing/PR needs to come up with a valid excuse.  They effectively use The Seven’s abilities to secure ratings, appeal to their demographic, and sell merchandise. Think reality TV on overdrive–with capes, ass-kicking, and human lives at stake.

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What it’s like to be normal in a world full of superheroes? Two things–collateral damage, and the realization that there’s nothing you can do about it. They jumpstart the plot, and everything goes haywire from there. In superhero movies, the regular folks are always on the sidelines. Here, Billy Butcher and his grudge against the supes are front and center. His rugged look and demeanor emphasize how different average people are compared to The Seven. The rest of his squad A.K.A. The Boys – Hughie, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and The Female (Karen Fukuhara) get in all sorts of trouble during the first season in a frustrated effort to expose Vought and their shady activities.


Karl Urban leads a cast of sci-fi/fantasy veterans. He may not be the most talked about Hollywood actor, but Urban probably has the most science fiction and fantasy properties under his belt–The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Thor: Ragnarok, Dredd, Chronicles of Riddick, Pathfinder, Doom, Priest, Almost Human… Do I even need to continue? He even had minor roles in Pete’s Dragon and Xena: The Warrior Princess! You may also recognize his co-stars in other sci-fi/fantasy projects: Jack Quaid was in The Hunger Games, while Erin Moriarty played a supporting role in the first season of Jessica Jones. Chace Crawford was in The Covenant (he was also in Gossip Girl, of course, who could forget?), while Elizabeth Shue was in Back to the Future Part II and III. Last but not the least, Karen Fukuhara played Katana, arguably the best character in the DCEU’s poorly-received Suicide Squad (She continues to be badass in The Boys).


The blood. Don’t get me wrong, The Boys is an intelligent show with insightful dialogue. However, it does not scrimp on the gore at all and are at times downright barbaric. Almost every episode has flying body parts and multiple blood spatters. There’s no Endgame type of brawl, but the action scenes are pretty cool. With TV as awesome as this, it really is a great time to be alive.


Everything is gray. You have The Seven on one side, and you have the The Boys on the other. One of the great things about this show is it you can route for either group and not feel bad about it. Everyone has reasons for doing what they do, and although some may be more valid than others, they are reasons nonetheless. Each episode is basically a test of morality as you find yourself agreeing to things you never thought you would.

More to come. At the end of Season 1, it’s pretty obvious that there there are still loads of stories to tell. During the first minute of the show, Vought’s promotional video talks about how 200 superheroes are under the corporation. Just think of the possibilities! Additionally, it seems Mr. Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), Madelyn’s boss, is going to play a more active role in the second season, which means things are going to get even more dangerous.


The Boys is such a refreshing take on the superhero genre, and whether you love people wearing spandex or not, it is the best show to binge watch this weekend.

Photos courtesy of Amazon Prime Video. All 8 episodes of The Boys’ Season 1 are now available for streaming om the platform!

Amazon Prime Video is available in the Philippines! Head to to start your free 1-month trial, or subscribe to a discounted rate of 2.99 USD (roughly 150+ PHP)  per month for the first six months (This post is not sponsored).


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical warms us inside with its relatable story and classic tunes

In “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” we see Carole’s journey from hopeful teenager to genius composer, all the way to becoming a confident performer and recording artist.

The Beardict: With her amazing performance in Beautiful, Kayla Rivera goes all the way and brings Carole King right before our eyes. Atlantis Theatrical does a stellar job in showing us how much musical impact King brought over the years—whether as a composer in the sidelines or a singer in front of the crowds. Without a doubt, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is a delightful and relatable ride for both young and old folks alike.


The story: While it’s true that everyone has a story to tell, the most inspiring ones almost always have simple beginnings. Carole was shown as a shy, unassuming 16-year-old girl, but with talent and tenacity already coursing through her veins. 

She had a singular purpose: to be a composer, a profession dominated by men. Early on, we saw that musical fire in her come alive as she pushed her mom out of the piano chair so she can let her hear what she created. As things progressed, we witnessed how different stages of her life affected the music that she came up with and the lyrics that her husband Gerry Goffin wrote. 

Although her experiences were indeed beautiful, they were not without conflict. Her best friends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who also worked under talent manager and music publisher Don Kirshner during that time, provided the much-needed comic relief while solving problems of their own. 

Aside from tackling Carole’s life and that of the people around her, “Beautiful” highlights how the music industry was during the 50s and 60s. Composers like Carole were always in the shadows but never the light, as the songs they wrote were assigned to popular singers and groups at the time. They also sometimes could not let their creativity flow freely, as they had to cater to what type of music would sell records. 


The music: Carole King had many hits over the years, and a lot of them are featured in the musical. It’s one thing to appreciate their greatness as songs when we catch them on the radio or Spotify, but it’s another to actually know the meaning behind them. For example, “It’s Too Late” is an iconic song about a lost love, but in the musical, we get to find out why it was written and for whom. It is also very entertaining to get different versions of the songs she composed (like the way “Some Kind of Wonderful” has a version from both Carole and the Drifters), veering away from the traditional song-reprise format. 

Additionally, even though it is called The Carole King Musical, the theater production featuring songs from Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil was a nice touch that gave a better picture of the music prevailing during that time, and all the evolutions that followed. 

The performances: Kayla Rivera has been missed. She did well in “Aladdin” and “Addams Family,” but it’s pretty obvious that her excellent portrayal of Carole King is her new crown jewel. Her ability to convey emotions both through song and simple dialogue was quite effective, and she had great chemistry with costar Nick Varricchio (who played Gerry Goffin). 

Overall, together with Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante (Cynthia Weil) and George Schulze (Barry Mann), the main cast quartet had fantastic performances. However, my personal favorite among everyone is Schulze for being a true chameleon. If not for the souvenir program, I would not have realized that he is the same guy who played Earl in last year’s “Waitress!” Everything about Barry is different—look, posture, mannerisms, singing voice, speaking voice, and accent, and yet, Schulze was able to pull it off, and then some!


Rounding up the awesome cast are theatre veterans such as Maronne Cruz, Jamie Wilson, and Carla Guevara-Laforteza, and a solid ensemble group who probably had more than 10 costume changes during the entire show. Of course, none of these would have mattered if the cast were not supported by an extremely talented orchestra led by Musical Director Farley Asuncion.

The style: The set was simple but quite effective. There were times when only Rivera and a piano were in front of the audience, and yet it didn’t feel like the stage was bare or lacking. I especially enjoyed how it felt like I was attending an actual Carole King concert whenever the scene focused on Carole playing in front of a crowd (the piano zooming towards the audience was just perfect). The ending song “I Feel The Earth Move” was casually performed after the curtain call, encouraging the audience to stand and clap to the beat.

The audience connection: We are positive that everyone who watches “Beautiful” would head home with a smile on their face. Whether you were already a teenager when “Locomotion” came out or your parents haven’t even met yet, you’re sure to find something to connect with while watching the musical. 

For the older generation, it’s the nostalgia that the songs bring. I watched with my dad, and it’s certainly the case with him. Born in the 50s, he told me that he knew almost all of the songs performed, and they reminded him of his younger years. “You’ve Got A Friend” was one of the first songs he learned to play on the guitar, and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was actually a song he dedicated to a former crush. Woah, right? 

For the younger generation, it’s the reminder that good music is timeless and always relatable, no matter what decade you were born in or what genre you love listening to. I was not surprised at all when I went on a Carole King binge after I watched “Beautiful.” It was the right thing to do! 


#AtlantisTwenty and Director Bobby Garcia are really on a roll this 2019. With “Angels in America” receiving rave reviews earlier this year, and now “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” charming its audiences to the fullest, their version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” featuring Jett Pangan and Lea Salonga is bound to be a hit—and I honestly can’t wait!

Photos courtesy of Atlantis Theatrical. Catch Beautiful: The Carole King Musical every weekend from June 14 to July 7 at the Meralco Theater!


Rocketman takes off with the right combination of substance and flamboyance

“You gotta kill the person you were born to be to become the person you want.” In Rocketman (2019), we follow the colorful transformation of shy kid Reggie Dwight to the legend we now know as Sir Elton John.

The Beardict: As a full-on musical biopic, Rocketman takes off with the right combination of substance and flamboyance. The film allows us to know both the artist and the man–how Elton Hercules John had humble beginnings, rose through the ranks, broke records, and reached the top, all the while managing his tumultuous personal life. It is a beautiful explosion of music that reminds us why we listen to songs in the first place. If you were not an Elton John fan before, you would be now!


Despite its movie title, Rocketman is not all lift off as we take a tour through the ups and downs in Elton’s life. Because of this, our moods bounce from I’M THE BEST to LIFE SUCKS. The movie presents us with so much relatable content. Elton realizes the hard way that being a genius in one thing doesn’t mean you’ll be a genius in everything. Making music is hard, but liking/being yourself is much, much harder. His belief in ‘killing’ Reggie Dwight made him lose control and float this always-happy persona (That scene in front of the mirror where he forces himself to smile is really tragic). His story inspires us to strive for greatness, but also serves as a cautionary tale about what comes with it (feeling empty, people taking advantage of you, etc.).


Taron Egerton’s performance as Elton John is simply inspired. There were moments during the film that seemed like Taron was a man possessed, but in a very good way. Who knew he could sing and dance with such gusto? By showing his range, he is successfully veering away from just being called that guy from Kingsman.

Another thing Rocketman does well is introduce Elton John to a younger generation. Most millennials know him for either Lion King (Can You Feel The Love Tonight) or Princess Diana (Candle In The Wind), but obviously, he has so much more to offer. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that he’s had so many hits throughout the decades, and we’re pretty sure that the film’s release is going to result in a spike of Spotify listeners.


When a film has a lot of material as basis, it tends to just copy what has been done before. Although Aladdin (2019) is without a doubt a magical remake of the well-loved Disney cartoon, you can sense that there were parts that they played it safe and followed the original too much (scene by scene, line by line). In the case of Rocketman, instead of having the character of Elton perform in front of concerts all the time, they used his songs to define certain periods of his life, from childhood to his rise to fame to his midlife crisis. Instead of a voiceover, we get to know Elton’s thoughts through the lyrics. They also assigned singing parts to other cast members, completing the musical feel of the biopic, without it looking like it was forced (La La Land, we’re looking at you!). In terms of direction, Dexter Fletcher obviously knew what he was doing, and the topnotch costume and production design really helped Rocketman soar.


It’s hard not to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody (2018). After all, they are both about the journey of music icons. However, there are other details that tie the two films. For example, is the name John Reid (Richard Madden), Elton’s long-time manager/lover, familiar to you? That’s because he was also Queen’s manager. (Trivia: In Bohemian, he is played by Aidan Gillen, another Game of Thrones alum). Director Dexter Fletcher was also the one who finished directing Bohemian after Bryan Singer’s abrupt departure from the project. What’s actually distinct about Rocketman is its focus on Elton as a gay man in a harsh world. A lot of his music are based on his experiences with the people around him – his parents, his friends, and his romantic partners – and how they reacted to him baring it all for the world to see. One more thing: Congratulations to Taron and the rest of the cast as well for not lip syncing any of the songs (their real voices were used)!


Rocketman is great, yes. It’s weird, and we totally love it. However, we recognize that it may not be for everyone. Aside from the fact that Elton’s sexuality is central to the development of the story (something that may not sit well with more traditional moviegoers), you also have to like musicals, or at least be open to it. If you can’t stand characters expressing their feelings through song, then you should consider watching something else.

Overall, we think Rocketman is a powerful and honest take on how it must feel like to be a rockstar like Elton John—how he’s achieved so much more than an average human being ever would, but how in the end, he’s just like you and me: passionate but flawed, a Rocketman whose thrusters burn out from time to time but still manages to move forward. We can’t wait until it gets a Broadway version!


Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures. Rocketman out now in cinemas near you!

What X-Men: Dark Phoenix Did Right

In X-Men: Dark Phoenix, our favorite team of mutants experience their biggest threat yet, and it comes from within their own ranks. While doing a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) bonds with a mysterious cosmic force that makes her not only extremely powerful but also more volatile, causing a rift between her and X-Men leader Charles Xavier (James McAvoy).

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The Beardict: Despite what the majority of critics and moviegoers are saying, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is no slouch. Sure, it suffers from some pacing problems, and the conclusion of the franchise may not be as “epic” as what we would have wanted, but it still packs a solid punch and gives us an entertaining film worthy of our time. Don’t be too convinced of how Rotten Tomatoes has rated it so far: Listen to your mutant-lover heart and give it a shot.

There have been way too many negative reviews on X-Men: Dark Phoenix already, so we’re going to approach it this way: highlight what the movie did right here, and discuss what stopped it from being great in another article.


What went right:


The Dark Phoenix treatment – visual effects and Sophie Turner’s performance. In 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, the Dark Phoenix power came from inside of Jean. This time around, they described it as a cosmic entity, which is more believable and closer to the source material. Visual effects were spot on, as the use of bright color for the Phoenix flame was effective in showing it as a force of both life and destruction (The Last Stand concentrated on the decay part too much). It was awesome to see the power course through Jean, as it seemed like she could take on Captain Marvel and Scarlet Witch at the same time. Fans were skeptical at first, but casting Sophie Turner as the title character was a stroke of genius. Showing a significant improvement to her X-Men: Apocalypse performance, her charm, towering presence, and ability to convey raw emotions are more than enough to convert non-fans to believers. 


Cyclops is the best version of himself. The most mistreated character in the entire X-Men franchise is obviously Scott Summers. Supposed to be the X-Men’s ground leader and one of the most formidable mutants around, he has been constantly reduced to supporting roles movie after movie. If Jean is the MVP in Dark Phoenix, then Scott (Tye Sheridan) is definitely the MIP (Most Improved Player). Charles and the rest of the X-Men finally give him the respect he deserves, as his role in the team expands (after the departure of Mystique and Beast). We see the kids in the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters look to him for direction, and his love story with Jean is pivotal in determining how the Dark Phoenix story line begins and ends. Oh, and his optic blast? It’s used here more times than it was ever used in the past X-Men films combined.


Good character development for the young X-Men. From being one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen to a bona fide X-Man, Storm has come a long way. We see shades of her leadership and loyalty in Dark Phoenix, and Alexandra Shipp does an excellent portrayal of Ororo, from her partnership with Cyclops down to the African accent that Halle Berry had in X-Men (2000) but conveniently forgot about in X2 (2003). Haha. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) holds his own as well, as he gets over the need of being told what to do and embraces the lethal power that he has.

Michael Fassbender in "Dark Phoenix"

The X-Men working as a team. In almost two decades of X-Men movies, a consistent problem has been the action scenes. It’s glorious seeing one-on-one battles (especially those involving Wolverine), but mutants, gifted as they are, should be seen working together. X-Men: Apocalypse started making mutant battles more fluid, and Dark Phoenix improved them further. Without a doubt, the space and train scenes of the film were among the best of the franchise as we get to see some of our classic X-Men heroes fighting as one unit.

Music. Hans Zimmer’s score was nothing short of perfection – adding a certain level of gravitas to each setting from the space mission scene to the final moments of Jean realizing her full Phoenix potential. Even Quicksilver’s slow-mo action scene received a more serious treatment this time around (versus using a decade-specific track a la Time In A Bottle or Sweet Dreams as in the previous X-Men films).


Relevant social commentary. The X-Men comic books have always been political. Through the X-Men, creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made a statement about how people have always been resistant to diversity–it’s hard to live in a society when you are different. In Dark Phoenix, mutants get a reprieve from being misunderstood and find themselves in the right side of the law for once–proclaimed as heroes even by the president of the United States. However, all it took were a couple of incidents, and everyone turned their backs on them again. The movie may be set in 1992, and the world we live in now tries to be more understanding, but this still applies: When you’re different, people can still like you, but all it takes is one mistake, and they’ll forget everything you’ve done for them.

References. Despite obstacles, Dark Phoenix Director/Writer Simon Kinberg tries to connect the film to past X-Men efforts. For example, the Blackbird still comes out of the basketball court, and Charles and Erik’s bromance lives on through a game of chess. Seeing Dazzler (Halston Sage) during the X-Party in the woods was a pleasant surprise, and it definitely made comic book fans giddy.


It’s hard to say goodbye to characters we’ve followed for years, but we have no choice but to let go. Now that the X-Men franchise is in Disney’s hands, we’re hopeful that the direction they take will be less complicated so their transition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be seamless. Who knows, maybe we’ll get an Avengers Vs. X-Men (AvX) adaptation in 10 years? Literally anything is possible.

Now that you’ve read what Dark Phoenix did right, check out the Beardict on what stopped Dark Phoenix from achieving greatness here

Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox. X-Men: Dark Phoenix out now in cinemas near you!



My Musings on Game of Thrones: The Long Night (Season 8, Episode 3)

My Musings on Game of Thrones: The Long Night (Season 8, Episode 3)

April 29 was an intense day on social media. As soon as the Long Night (Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3) finished, social media accounts were caught in a frenzy, posting (and virtually screaming) all sorts of reactions: from status messages without context, to memes, to downright spoilers. Blood pressures went up and friendships were lost (because of spoilers), but now we’re left with the question: Was it worth all the hype? I can’t speak for everyone, but…


The #Beardict: As the most ambitious episode/battle sequence Game of Thrones has released to date, The Long Night (Battle of Winterfell) tries to live up to the very high expectations through its non-stop action and suspense, but ultimately ends up lacking in storytelling. Although it does give us with the greatest assembly of Game of Thrones characters ever, fitting farewells to the characters we’ve come to love since Day 1, and a sense of direction moving forward, I can’t help but feel that a very important part of the show was closed abruptly, leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s impossible to please everyone, and we should just be happy that we’re alive to witness such a great moment on television. Be that as it may, being a loyal fan doesn’t mean we should not provide criticism when it’s due. Let’s get into our points, shall we?


Many things didn’t make sense, and characters made very poor decisions. The Dothraki were the very first victims of this episode. This is what happens when your group is not represented properly when battle plans are made the night before. Haha. Whose bright idea was it to make them run into the dark when they’re not winter folk? The scene spit on Khal Drogo’s grave. I also get why Jorah Mormont was with them, semi-leading, but why was Ghost even in their faction?


Daenerys didn’t use Drogon enough to help her soldiers on the ground. She saved Jon Snow when he was surrounded by wights, but for some reason, decided not to fly again, allowing Drogon to get super mobbed. Jorah basically died because Dany froze. Her case to be queen of Westeros just went out the window (Side note: It’s possible that there’s a deeper reason why Jorah was killed off this early in the season—without her stalwart sentry, traitors have a more open line to Dany *cough” Varys *cough*).

Additional questions: How did Sam and Davos survive even if they don’t really know how to fight? Why did Bran warg into crows and do nothing else? Was he taunting the Night King or recording history? Why was the crypt emphasized even though all the main characters were miraculously unharmed by the end of the ordeal?


The Lord of Light is real, but the Azor Ahai isn’t? During the trench scene, Melisandre had her most vulnerable moment in Game of Thrones as she was not sure if the Lord of Light would heed her call and provide fire to keep the wights at bay. Thankfully, he did—visible proof that he is real. If that is the case, then why does it seem like the Azor Ahai prophecy is fake?  Throughout the series, Melisandre has been going on and on about the “one who was promised” by the Lord of Light, someone who would defeat the forces of darkness (presumably, the Night King) and save everyone in the realm. At first, she thought the reincarnation was Stannis (let’s face it, everyone was way ahead of Melisandre on this one and figured he’s not the Azor Ahai) but changed her mind when she saw Jon Snow. Steady in her newfound belief, she even goes to the extent of resurrecting Jon when he dies at the hands of traitorous Night’s Watch folks. In The Long Night, since Arya ends up being responsible for shattering the Night King into a thousand pieces, then why was Jon resurrected in the first place? Did he fulfill his destiny by bringing everyone together to fight the Night King? Was there really a coming of an Azor Ahai, or was Melissandre just busting our collective balls the entire time?


Arya’s Destiny: Did Arya need to be the one to kill the Night King? Okay, since we just discussed the Azor Ahai prophecy—did Melisandre change her mind yet again and thought Arya was the one who was promised? She reveals that Beric Dondarion can now rest (he was resurrected by Thoros multiple times in the series) since he’s finally fulfilled his purpose—saving Arya from wights in this battle. However, Arya would be an odd choice to be the Lord of Light’s champion because she, in a way, believes in the Many-Faced God (this is the reason why she can wear many faces).

Anyway, before this episode, there was no indication that she was going to be the one to get rid of the Night King. Until recently, she didn’t even know about the looming threat of the White Walkers. You can say that the surprise is the beauty of it, but it disrespects the revenge list that Arya herself promised to finish. Her entire badass character growth was hinged on that list, and the Night King is such a deviation to her otherwise calculated plans.

Melisandre mentioned brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes—did this mean Walder Frey, Cersei, and the Night King? Or Meryn Trant, Littlefinger, and the Night King? People now have many combinations for Arya’s list of actual and potential victims, and although many fans are predicting a Cersei death under Arya’s capable hands—I don’t think this will happen anymore. Her contributions to the Battle of Winterfell have already propelled her to the top GoT characters tier (so much so that expecting mothers are planning to name their daughters Arya), and it will be quite unfair to the story/unbelievable if she ends up killing Cersei as well. My fearless forecast is that Cersei will be the one to kill Arya to make the finale really sting.


The Night King went down like a punk without enough backstory. We know that to defend themselves from the First Men, the Children of the Forest did some nasty experiments and led to the creation of the Night King. Although it has been reported that his origin may be fleshed out in the planned Game of Thrones sequel, it’s quite sad that the Night King is now gone (after he was hyped season after season) but the questions still remain. Bran says the Night King wants “an endless night” to devour the world, but why? Who is he, really, and why can he smile but not talk? When Daenerys used Dracarys on him, he was quite smug about it because he knew he would not die. Since he was not affected by dragon fire, does that make him a Targaryen, or just an illogical ice being? While we’re on the subject of the Night King, let’s mention how he was so easily dispatched by Arya. She’s an assassin and all, but she’s still human, and he is not (Side note: You know why that Arya move is so familiar? Think Rey and that Last Jedi fight scene with Kylo Ren and the Praetorian Guards of Snoke).


“You did nothing, Jon Snow.” A lot of memes are going around saying that Jon Snow was basically useless in the Long Night. After watching the episode twice and thinking about what Jon did, I can indeed say that he was, unfortunately, near useless. This started because Jon chose to ride Rhaegal and do How To Train Your Dragon adventures with Daenerys (as my girlfriend called to it) while all hell was breaking loose down below. As he’s not experienced with a dragon, he should have just remained on the ground with Ghost and did damage there. He could have joined Lyanna Mormont and her men in defending the opening, or helped out Theon in protecting Bran, or stayed with Daenerys so he and Jorah could team up to save the woman they love the most. Instead, he ended up running around aimlessly, lost on what to do. At one point, he saw Sam getting mobbed by wights and he didn’t even attempt to help his best friend. Before Arya struck the Night King with a dragon glass blade, he was seen screaming in front of Viserion, ready for his suffering to end (I thought Viserion would try to engulf him with blue fire but he’d survive because he’s a Targaryen). Fans suggest that he was actually distracting the ice dragon so Arya can head past them undetected, but I highly doubt that’s what the episode was going for.


To be fair, we did see that Jon was feared by the Night King and his generals. When he was swerving with Rhaegal to attack the White Walkers below, a mysterious shroud intervened and pushed him away. When the Night King saw that Jon was only a few meters away from him, he rose an army of wights to come between them (it seemed he did not want to fight Jon one-on-one, because he might lose—he already saw Jon take care of White Walkers beyond the wall).  It’s kind of like when NBA teams play the Golden State Warriors – they concentrate their efforts in locking down Steph Curry, forcing him to have a bad game but freeing his teammates to do the work and attack the opposing team. This was a bad episode for Jon (even MVPs have bad days I suppose), but he did succeed in making the Night King lower his guard when he got taken out of the picture, leaving the path free for Arya to take advantage of. It’s just sad that what Jon set out to do from Season 1 was to protect Westeros from those beyond the Wall, and it’s not even him who gets to take the final blow.

Will Jon get to take the Iron Throne? No. Does he even want it? Not really. Will he help Dany take it? Most likely! Will they succeed? I don’t think so. Whatever happens, let’s all hope Jon Snow’s character is given justice and closure. He deserves at least that.


Cersei as the big bad of Game of Thrones? When you progress in video games, you usually fight lesser bosses first before going up against the big boss at the end. The enemies you triumph against serve as stepping stones for the final showdown. Although Game of Thrones is not a video game, is it essentially saying that Cersei is a bigger bad than the Night King? It’s certainly anti-climactic given the Night King was described as the greatest threat the entire world has ever known. I’m under the belief that if the first scene of the show is about White Walkers, then one of the last scenes should be about them as well. However, the showrunners are probably reeling us towards the fact that at the heart of Game of Thrones is politics and warfare (Remember the War of the Five Kings?). Season 8 Episode 5 has been teased to even have a bigger battle than that of Winterfell, so I’m keeping my hopes up.


Bonus: The dark cinematography – was it necessary? This is a controversial topic among fans, but in case you didn’t notice, The Long Night was unusually dark, bordering on pitch black already during some scenes. I joked that the only times the screen was visible (aside from the fire scenes) were when the clouds and subtitles were shown (The night is dark and full of darkness. Haha). The Internet complained and declared that the Battle of Helm’s Deep (from the Lord of The Rings: Two Towers) is still the best medieval-fantasy battle scene more than 15 years after its release. However, a lot of people were also quick to defend how the Battle of Winterfell was shot—that the show wanted us to feel how it was like being there: stressful and full of desperation. They also pointed out that this is why TVs have the brightness function. According to a Mashable report, the cinematographer Fabian Wagner blames “HBO’s video compression which he claims added pixilation and dark colors.” My stand here? HBO should have already told viewers in advance that the Long Night is meant to be dark, and that people can adjust the brightness if they become uncomfortable and can’t see anything anymore.

Thank God the Episode 4 preview already shows us some sun. Haha. Can’t wait for it!

Photos courtesy of HBO. Game of Thrones returns on HBO on May 6, Monday (SST 9AM).

Avengers: Endgame is a fitting close to a beautiful era of superheroes

A NON-SPOILER REVIEW (out of respect for the fans who haven’t watched yet)

Is April your birth month? Well, this 2019, every MCU fan’s birthday became April 24 (or 26, depending on your geographic location). Haha!

The Beardict: Avengers: Endgame has got to be the most hyped movie of all time! And yet, Marvel Studios, President Kevin Feige, and the Russo Brothers was able to craft a thing of beauty that lives up to our very high expectations, and then some. You can almost hear them say: “Some people mishandle their franchises and source material, but not us.” Endgame ties more than 10 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe goodness in a neat bow and presents us with a carefully gift-wrapped story that explodes right in front of our very (watery) eyes as soon as we step foot inside the cinemas, making us shake with raw emotions.


Endgame speaks to us on a level that goes beyond a regular movie could ever do, kind of like a food dish that gives an umami flavor. Its ability to engage the audience more than any interactive film is an achievement by itself. It doesn’t matter if Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are characters we grew up with, or we’ve only been acquainted with them for only a short period: Endgame effectively transforms us into happy kids having our first cinematic experience. 

A friend mentioned that Endgame is not “just a movie” (as non-fans would like to remind us every chance they get) but a well-developed masterpiece. Indeed, it is. It escapes the 3-hour movie trap and uses incredible pacing in showing character development, build-ups, and glorious fight scenes–all towards a very satisfying climax and conclusion. This is why for every post that talks about when to pee during Endgame, there are a lot more which provide tips on how not to pee at all–because each scene is simply important.


Endgame is, without a doubt, the Russo Brothers’ crown jewel. It will be sad to see them go (they have said this will be their last MCU film for the foreseeable future), but they end their Marvel stay with a bang. Joe and Anthony Russo made their MCU directorial debut in 2014 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Five years down the road, and it is arguably still the most solid Marvel film ever made (which headlines a solo superhero). They obviously didn’t rest on their laurels, because for each succeeding movie they’ve directed–from Captain America: Civil War to Avengers: Infinity War and now to Endgame–they have gotten better and better at transitioning from a world of spies and soldiers (S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra) to something that offers the largest collection of superheroes ever assembled. The Russo Brothers definitely leave an MCU in a great position to tell even more stories that we can enjoy. What a time to be alive!


We can see how much study was done to portray a single character or display a certain scene. The level of respect is certainly there. Of course, not everyone gets equal screen time in a movie like Endgame, but rest assured that heroes previously glossed over have their shining moments here. Credit should also be given to screenplay writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus for doing an awesome job for inserting laugh-out-loud moments in an otherwise serious movie. To compare, Thor: Ragnarok was enjoyable, but its humor was a double-edged sword because it seemed as if the characters went out of their way to be funny. Thankfully, Endgame does not suffer the same fate. Instead, it has the most heartfelt movie lines that will be quoted for years to come.


If you’ve watched Avengers: Endgame already, watch it again, and again, and again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving–you’ll always find small gems that you didn’t see before. So many references to the past films are there, so remember to pay close attention. As accessible as Endgame is to everyone who wants to watch a great movie, it serves as a huge thank you to the die-hard MCU fans who have been with the franchise since Day 1.

All of the positive reviews on Endgame will be superficial if it doesn’t translate to box office numbers. As of this writing, Box Office Mojo reports that the film has now broken so many records, including the highest 1-day opening ever (estimated at $156.7 million) in the US. In the Philippines alone, it has already garnered an unprecedented $10 million (I am proud to have contributed to this, and I’m sure many of you are too.) Can Endgame become the highest grossing movie of all time? Hopefully. The reigning champion is Avatar (2009) (Somehow, I want a #BeatAvatar hashtag to trend. Haha!). Its director James Cameron believes that superhero stories are overdone. With all due respect to one of the best filmmakers of our time, I disagree. If the genre continues to produce Endgame-caliber movies, why should it end? As the old adage says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Is Avengers: Endgame a perfect movie? No, simply because that’s an impossible undertaking (I personally have questions that I wish were answered, but that’s another article for another time). But wow, it’s super close to being one. Why, you ask? Because Marvel understands us better than anyone in the industry ever could.

Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios. Avengers: Endgame out now in cinemas near you!

Captain Marvel Brings #HigherFurtherFaster To The MCU

By: Jurmane Lallana

“Higher, further, faster, baby!”

It’s been barely a week since Captain Marvel photon-blasted her way towards the big screen. Reviews are mixed, and except for the fact that everyone is looking forward to Avengers: Endgame, the fans are currently divided on almost anything you can think of—from Brie Larson’s casting/performance as Carol Danvers to whether or not Captain Marvel does well as a stand-alone film or if it only serves as an appetizer for Endgame. Let’s attempt to discuss some of the issues here, but first…


The Beardict: 8 out of 10. Captain Marvel is a stellar start to Marvel’s new wave of superhero films. Although technically still part of the MCU’s Phase Three, the generous display of power and leadership effectively establishes Carol Danvers as the premier hero of Phase Four. As an origin movie, it skips the awkward stages of development and presents Captain Marvel right away as a “noble warrior hero” who sees the light and showcases a glimpse of her full potential during the film’s climax (I got really emotional when she went Binary and MAY have shed tears). Oh, and it gives us 90s nostalgia through its awesome soundtrack and references, which is always a plus in my book. Captain Marvel is definitely not perfect, and I’m saying that as a fan who has been anticipating this for years now. However, my belief in Marvel Studios remains intact, and things can only get better for the franchise from here on out. The best treat for yourself is to watch the movie on IMAX, so you can see Carol’s thrilling adventure in its full glory.



Brie Larson as Carol Danvers

With an Academy award under her belt, Brie Larson brings a lot of talent and experience to the MCU. However, Captain Marvel is the first female-led movie from Marvel Studios, and that puts a big responsibility on her shoulders. Her detractors often cite two complaints against Brie: 1) She’s a hardcore feminist whose controversial comments cause certain demographics not to watch her movie, and 2) she simply doesn’t look, act, or sound like a superhero.


For 1), while it is true that Brie identifies herself as a feminist and has a lot of things to say about society, it does not mean that she only wants women watching Captain Marvel. Many media and vloggers have blown up what she said about wanting more diversity in the movie critic industry, and twisted her comments into something toxic and racist: that white men should be offended and they should boycott the movie. Even in the Philippines, literally any Captain Marvel promotional post is littered by people saying that the movie will tank because the main actor doesn’t care about her audience. Rotten Tomatoes even had to change their system of how movies are rated because trolls kept bombing Captain Marvel with abysmal scores even before its release.

For more clicks and views, the Internet tried to derail MCU’s plan of making Captain Marvel a shining beacon for empowerment. Fortunately, as of this writing, Box Office Mojo reports that the film is expected to have an estimated 153M USD opening weekend (domestic US), which means that all the hate for the movie pre-release was not enough to hamper its success.


For 2), to Brie Larson’s credit, although she would not have been my first choice (Emily Blunt as Captain Marvel would have been perfect), it seems Marvel was right to cast her as Carol all along. Because of her strong personality and non-apologetic stance when it comes to the causes she believes in, she is able to embody the essence of Captain Marvel even when off-screen: a woman who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo despite the potential backlash that may occur.

In terms of her actual performance as Carol/Captain Marvel, all things considered, I think she did a good job in depicting how a gifted Kree solider would be if she lost her memory. Despite initial criticism received from the trailers that she is emotionless/does not smile at all, Brie’s acting does not disappoint, and she is able to make Carol relatable, especially during her conversations with Nick Fury. In the next installments, now that her past is no longer in question, we will most likely see a more confident Carol Danvers from Brie, something that many viewers were probably looking for already in her debut film.


Marvel Studios establishes Captain Marvel as MCU’s Superman

Captain Marvel is often compared to DC superheroes. Because she is bannering MCU’s first solo film with a female lead, both fans and bashers would like to know how she measures up against Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Additionally, Shazam (slated to be released on April 5 and headlined by Zachary Levi as the titular character) is traditionally called “Captain Marvel” as well, so people are also talking about which film would be better.

Although these comparisons are valid, the real contest here is actually between Captain Marvel and DC’s golden boy himself, Superman. Powered by the lightspeed engine from the Tesseract, Carol ends up being the strongest Avenger (sorry, Hulk and Thor) and can stop warheads and crash spaceships with minimal effort. That ending scene where Carol looks back at the Earth fondly moments before she departs with the Skrulls? That’s something Superman would do.


Clearly, President Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios saw how Man of Steel (2013) failed to captivate its audience, so they proceeded with Captain Marvel with these two things in mind:

#1: Make MCU’s most powerful hero have a solid connection with the female demographic. Basically uncharted territory for them, it was a bold move for Marvel Studios to emphasize Captain Marvel’s gender during the marketing efforts. For example, the trailers highlighted HER in HERO, and release date was set on International Women’s Day. Aside from Carol Danvers, they also featured formidable female characters like ace pilot and best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Kree Starforce sniper Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan).

Although Wonder Woman was great, Batman and Superman are such icons already that other DC heroes tend to automatically live in their shadows. By making Captain Marvel the strongest MCU character, they are able to boost the name Carol Danvers, a heroine, to the level of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.


#2: Concentrate on the fact that Captain Marvel is a human being. The Supreme Intelligence made the mistake of reminding Carol that she’s human, and it led to her drawing strength from it. However, that reminder was not only for Carol, but also for us. Her humanity makes her relatable and inspirational, as she’s not a male alien who arrived on Earth to avoid planetary destruction.


The genius of Captain Marvel’s twist and secrecy

Once again, Marvel Studios proves that it is a master when it comes to trailers. People always become wary of their trailers because it seems they show too much, but each time, we get amazed at how there was no spoiler at all. For Captain Marvel, they were able to keep the characters played by Ben Mendelsohn (General Talos), Annette Bening (Supreme Intelligence/Wendy Lawson/Mar-Vell) and Jude Law (Yon-Rogg) secret. The Kree turn out to not be so noble after all, and the shapeshifting Skrulls A.K.A. the supposed bad guys are only looking for a new home.


For the longest time, speculators were so sure that Jude Law was Mar-Vell, and some comic book fans may actually be irked to find out that Mar-Vell’s gender was bent (his alias in the comics is actually Dr. Walter Lawson). However, having Mar-Vell as a female mentor to Carol does work better, as it makes the passing of the torch more symbolic.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a welcome blast from the past


The last MCU film that focused on S.H.I.E.L.D was Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Age of Ultron only featured a marginal appearance from Nick Fury), and the organization has definitely been missed. Seeing how the state of the 90’s S.H.I.E.L.D. operations was really funny, knowing how advanced things were in the Avengers (2012). Their headquarters was shown to be in Los Angeles, which ties up nicely to the storyline of Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) being transferred to the LA office during the show’s second season.


We saw two-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) with his “high clearance” at level 3. His short partnership with Carol prompted him to start the Avengers Initiative, and most likely inspired him to reach the top of the ladder as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. so he could protect the world while she was away.

We also saw a younger Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), a beloved character who has not appeared in an MCU movie in seven years. He will always be the reason why the Avengers came together and saved the world.

Captain Marvel in Avengers: Endgame and beyond


Of course, it was very strategic for Captain Marvel to open around a month before Endgame, so events of the movie are still fresh in our minds when we enter the cinemas for the fourth installment of the Avengers. Although there’s a certain level of satisfaction obtained from watching Captain Marvel while knowing the details of the other MCU films, it’s not a requirement. One can basically watch the movie, understand what’s happening, and get entertained even if that person hasn’t seen Infinity War.

On the other hand, it becomes a must-watch for anyone who wants to know more about her potential role in Endgame. As the post-credit scene showed us, Carol is probably just a few minutes away from charging into the rice terraces and punching Thanos in the face (Mar-Vell was right all along about lightspeed technology ending wars, just not the way she expected it to). Having said that, it won’t be a deus ex machina scenario either, for sure. I have this wild theory that Captain Marvel gets mind-controlled by a resurrected Ebony Maw, and so the original six Avengers have to band together to defeat her. Haha. Imagine the possibilities!


Beyond Endgame, as Captain America and Iron Man take a bow, stories revolving around newer Marvel properties such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange will become front and center in Phase Four. For the second installment of Captain Marvel, it can focus on Carol’s continuous battles with the Kree (remember, Yon-Rogg and Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser are both still out there), or it can pick up after Endgame. Whatever the case, if there will be another Avengers movie in the near future, Carol will most likely lead that team (she was, after all, the leader of the Mighty Avengers at one point in the comic books).

The Goose effect


Just as Marvel dedicated posters and collaterals for Goose, I will also dedicate one whole paragraph for our favorite fluffy Flerken. In the comics, Carol’s pet is actually named Chewie (after Star Wars’ Chewbacca). Early reviews of Captain Marvel said that Goose was a scene stealer, and we actually didn’t know the extent of it until Goose eats the Tesseract through his hidden alien mouth. Unlike the porgs from the Last Jedi which were criticized because they had no use at all except for being cute and selling merchandise, Goose succeeds in being both an aww factor and an important plot mover. Universally-liked, there are already reports that Goose will have a role in Avengers: Endgame. Personally, I’m interested in seeing his interactions with Rocket and Groot!


Together with the rest of the Avengers, Captain Marvel will face Thanos in Avengers: Endgame (opening April 26). I am so grateful that we live in a time where the distance between 1995 and 2019 is just a month. Haha. Until then, I’ll continue using #HigherFurtherFaster as my motto, and I suggest you do too.

Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios. Captain Marvel is currently available in cinemas near you! 

Netflix’s Sex Education Teaches A Lot About Life (And Sex)

Sex Education is a coming-of-age story that centers on Otis, an awkward teenager who becomes even more awkward because of his sex therapist mom. School outcast Maeve spots Otis’ talent at giving sex and relationship advice, and convinces him to start a sex therapy clinic with her.

In an age where movie and series titles can be confusing, Sex Ed is as straightforward as a show can be—we already have an idea of what we’re getting into when we decide to watch it. With only eight episodes, it’s definitely a strong candidate for our weekend Netflix binge.


The Beardict: Sex Ed is able to get the realness of life. It’s not all drama and it’s not all comedy; it’s able to simulate what a normal day of a teenager is like: exciting but also full of cringe (I can’t count how many times I had to hit pause because of the embarrassment that was about to come. Haha.). Sex Ed is unapologetic, branding nothing as taboo. Nothing is weird simply because everything is.

With that said, here are the lessons we picked up while watching Sex Education:



  • People are brought together by circumstance and form unlikely alliances. Arguably, the best parts of Sex Ed are when Otis, Eric, and Maeve work together to perform a task. They’re so dysfunctional that it actually works—much like Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Harry Potter series. Come to think of it: Like Harry, Otis is brilliant but heavily awkward (the “magic” basically is in his blood), Eric has Ron’s loyal best friend mentality except he’s extra fabulous, and with her insight and quick actions, Maeve would be Hermione only if she didn’t scare people to death. If we do get a season 2, we certainly look forward to more adventures with this trio.


  • It’s okay to think and talk about sex. This already goes without saying, right? Well, in the Philippines where everything is almost always more conservative, people find it hard to open up about sex because it might be considered too vulgar. However, Sex Ed reminds us that it’s perfectly normal to tackle sex head on. Like all things, it can be sad, it can be bad, but it can also be wonderful and mind-blowing. Furthermore, a lot of sexual problems are connected to life problems, and vice-versa. For example, in the show, Otis points out that the reason why sex between Ruthie and Tanya is never okay is because Ruthie is not emotionally connected to the experience (she likes someone else). We also see Aimee’s pushover attitude crossover to her sex life–when asked about what she wants, she doesn’t know because she’s always allowed others to tell her what she should do. When Otis fixes her sexual problem, she finally finds the courage to rebuff her social clique and declare her friendship with Maeve.


  • “My vagina has betrayed me.” Sex Ed teaches us that we can be brutally honest because it won’t be the death of us (well at least, in most cases). Codes and mind games should take a backseat because the truth is awesome. There are two paragons of honesty in Sex Ed. First off, we have Lily (my personal favorite). She doesn’t have everything figured out, but she’s not set back by inaction, to put it lightly. For the majority of the season, she’s on a quest to have her first sexual experience. When Jean asks her what happened to Otis, without hesitation, she answers that they were trying to have sex (she says this with both Jean and Jakob in the room). Secondly, we have Ola. She flirts with Otis, tells him she likes him, and ends up getting invited to the school dance. Though at one point she gets labeled as a goat (not her fault, by the way), her journey in the show is pretty smooth sailing, and it’s because she says what’s on her mind.


  • “You’re 16. You’re not supposed to know the answers to anything… You’re going to be just fine.” Sex Education assures us that giving ourselves time to figure out things is a decency we owe to ourselves. Sure, Jean used Otis’ young age to calm him down after he told her that he’s not normal. However, as evidenced by all the parents in the show, even adults haven’t fully understood how to live, and they still learn a lot from their kids as they watch them grow up. And on that note…


  • If you’re going to live like this, you have to toughen up. This was what Eric’s dad told him when he went home bruised after Otis was a no-show at their supposed Hedwig and the Angry Inch meetup. Mr. Effoing doesn’t really approve of Eric’s sexuality, but he tries to be the best parent he can be. In the end, he even says “Maybe I am learning from my brave son.” All parents shown in Sex Ed try to be there for their children (yes, even Principal and Mrs. Groff), but they differ in their approaches because it’s quite difficult to do. As Jakob said to Jean when they were talking about their kids: “We can never let them know how much they make us feel lonely.”


  • Sex Education shows that “you can’t choose who you’re attracted to. You can’t engineer a relationship.” This bathroom stall advice from Otis was specific to a sex clinic case he was working on, but you can see it throughout the eight episodes of the season. Otis is proof of this; he didn’t want to fall for Maeve (especially because he thinks he’s a kangaroo and she’s a lioness) but because of all the time they spent together doing the clinic, he did anyway… and got a massive erection when Maeve touched his eyebrow (possibly one of the funniest scenes in Sex Ed).


  • Things can be pretty messed up, but there is already a level of acceptance even in a toxic environment such as high school, indicating times have changed. Notice how the characters didn’t have to explain how certain things were in the show? They were just accepted and treated as normal with no stigma attached. For example, raised by an interracial lesbian couple, the golden boy Jackson is black and is good at both sports and academics (he has a lot of insecurities but I believe he does not mention his race once). Anwar, whom Eric fancies and hates at the same time, is a fashionable Indian gay guy who is part of Moordale’s elite and thinks he’s better than everyone else. His friend Ruby, the self-proclaimed queen bee and Regina George of the school, is also non-white but is at the top of the food chain and preys on all the “losers” on campus. Interestingly enough, the weakest in their quartet happens to be rich white girl Aimee, who hangs around them to be cool but keeps getting bossed around on a daily basis.


More to this point, Eric and Anwar are the only two openly gay guys shown on Moordale, and yet nobody suggests or asks why they can’t get along since they’re both gay anyway. In the same way, the show doesn’t need to explain why Ola and Jakob don’t share the same ethnicity since they have a daughter-father relationship. As best friends, Otis and Eric don’t share a “no homo” moment, and they don’t skimp on showing physical affection towards each other just because Otis is straight and Eric is gay.


  • “You owe me a birthday.” Maeve-Otis scenes are awesome, but the highlight of the show may just be the friendship between Otis and Eric. Their rift was really uncomfortable to watch as their daily banter was the oil that kept the show engine running. However, it made their reunion sweeter, culminating in a heartwarming dance. Eric supports Otis almost without question, and Otis dresses up in drag because he knows it’s important for Eric. They are, without a doubt, #FriendshipGoals.
  • There’s some sort of sex education inception that happens. Maybe we can call it a Sex Eduception? Kidding aside, what we mean by this is that the Otis’ clients approach him for advice and they learn from his wisdom, and yet, at the same time, Otis learns from each client he talks to. Watching Otis and his sessions helps us viewers learn too. So in the end, who really is having the sex education?


  • “What do you get someone who’s having an abortion? Sunscreen. They need it in hell.” Despite this quote from the protester outside the clinic, Sex Education does not judge at all and tells us not to dwell on decisions we’ve made in the past. In most shows, when a character undergoes something controversial such as an abortion, her entire storyline begins to revolve around it, and her decision whether to go through with it or not becomes the climax of her story. We love how Sex Education puts this arc at the start of the show and does not let the abortion define who Maeve is. Otis doesn’t mention it again, and although it may have played a part in her reluctance when it comes to Jackson, it’s not the focus of their breakup. The real culprit is Jackson overwhelms Maeve, because he’s “too much.”


  • Life sucks, but not everything is bad, and there’s always hope. Not everyone had a happy season ending in Sex Ed, but Adam probably had the worst. His father issues remain unresolved and to top it off, he gets shipped off abruptly to military school against his wishes. Despite all of this, he was able to have a moment with Eric, and he found their lost dog just sitting on the grass, waiting for him. Although we saw him leaving, his story is most likely far from over. Hopefully, Principal Groff gets to show Adam his fun side, and they repair their severely damaged relationship.
  • “It’s my vagina!” This scene was pretty funny and heartwarming because everyone in the student assembly just kept on shouting “vagina” (even guys) in support of someone they didn’t even know. This reminded me of that scene in In & Out where everyone kept shouting “I’m gay!.” Sure, it’s overly cheesy, and Ruby probably didn’t deserve such a save, but Moordale High, for once, banded together and became one voice, and that’s a good thing.


  • At the end of the day, we’re all just high schoolers who need “teachers” to believe in us. Miss Sands recognized Maeve’s excellent writing ability and encouraged her to say out loud that she’s smart. Mr. Hendricks from the brand asked Eric to join even though he’s not (yet) particularly good. All the students who came to Otis for advice – they just need someone to steer them towards the right direction. They simply need an honest conversation. Don’t we all?


  • Sex Education actually makes the procedural drama format interesting. You know how in crime and detective shows like C.S.I., someone mysteriously dies at the start and that’s the case they take on for that episode? For almost all of Sex Ed’s episodes, they start off with side characters who experience sex and relationship mishaps, and it gives us a clue of what Otis will handle throughout the episode in terms of the sex clinic. They act as plot devices that move the show along and make us understand Otis’ method of thinking more.

Sex Education’s treatment of teenage drama is certainly fresh, and we obviously want more!

Photos courtesy of Netflix. Sex Education is now available for streaming on Netflix.


Hi there!

To friends or anyone who accidentally ended up here, I welcome you to my review site called Beardict, short for Bear’s Verdict. Here, I try to review movies, TV shows, and anything about pop culture that I find interesting. Please bear with me as I get this blog up and running. Check back in for updates!



The Invisible Man is downright terrifying, and I like it

In The Invisible Man (2020), Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) decides to leave her sociopathic husband, Dr. Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Shortly afterwards, she learns that Adrian has died of an apparent suicide. However, recent haunting events convince Cecilia that Adrian is actually alive, and has found a way to become invisible.

The Beardict: 8.25 out of 10. The Invisible Man is a scary, scary film, and there aren’t even ghosts or supernatural creatures in it. There is, however, a monster that desperately wants to control Cecilia in the form of Adrian. Be prepared to squirm and gasp because the movie does not hold back at all–the terror just leaps from the screen and strikes at your heart.


Unique take. Legendary writer H.G. Wells, dubbed as “The Father of Science Fiction” and responsible for classics such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, wrote his book The Invisible Man more than a century ago (1897). It’s about a scientist (also) named Griffin who succeeds in making himself invisible but eventually becomes insane. The Invisible Man (2020) is a modern-day adaptation of this and shakes things quite a bit, keeping the concept fresh. Instead of focusing on the titular character and the process behind the invisibility, Director Leigh Whannell of Saw and Insidious fame presents us with the Invisible Man’s ex-wife Cecilia and her attempts to get away from his clutches. I think if Hollow Man (2000) and Enough (2002) had a baby, it would be The Invisible Man. Crazy scientist – check. Crazy ex-husband – check. An abused woman who eventually learns how to fight back? Major check.

Suspense on overdrive. I’m not gonna lie–although entertaining, watching The Invisible Man is quite a stressful way to spend 125 minutes of your free time. Having said that, it’s the type of stress that will make you feel alive. For the majority of the film, we follow Cecilia as she struggles to move on from Adrian because he doesn’t let her. Most of the scenes just feature Cecilia doing random things, and it’s creepy how the camera angles, at times, made me feel like I was watching through Adrian’s eyes. The chilling sound effects and sharp cinematography combine to create a terrifying atmosphere of helplessness. Emmy Award nominee Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men) delivers as always and keeps you on your toes. If you feel like you already know what’s going to happen because you saw the trailer, think again. The Invisible Man is quite the journey–it’s not predictable at all and will shock you when you least expect it. It’s quite amazing how they were able to achieve this level of cinema with just a reported $7 million in production costs.

The shadow of abuse lingers. The Invisible Man is a good horror movie with a scientific twist. However, beyond this, it’s also a statement on how severe abuse affects a person’s life and her relationships, even if the abuser is no longer there. In real life, there are many Adrians tormenting Cecilias, and this film gives us a glimpse of their difficult experiences.

Looking to make your blood pump more than usual this week? Watch none other than The Invisible Man!

Photos courtesy of United International Pictures. The Invisible Man, in cinemas February 26.



Just Mercy is a legal drama worthy of your attention

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” – Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy)

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Set in the early 90s and based on a true story, Just Mercy is a drama that centers on Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a Harvard Law graduate who relocates to Alabama and starts the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a non-profit organization that aims to represent prisoners who have been forgotten by society. There, he meets death row inmate Walter “Johnny D” McMillian (Jamie Foxx). Convinced of Walter’s innocence, he does everything he can to give him justice and bring him home to his family.

The #Beardict: 8 out of 10. Just Mercy gives us an insight on how the justice system can fail us because it is run by flawed people, and flawed people can be motivated by the wrong things. The film is an emotional journey about going all out for the truth even if society desperately wants to bury it. The all-star cast of Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson had me in tears.

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Idealism. When Walter first meets Bryan, we see how jaded he’s become inside his prison cell and immediately brands Bryan as too idealistic. However, he soon discovers that it is this exact idealism that makes Bryan different from all his lawyers in the past. If Bryan were more practical, then he would have taken on simpler cases that had more chances of success. Bryan’s resolve and tenacity were stronger than the obstacles in front of him. He also had the right support system in Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), the operations director for EJI who worked tirelessly with Bryan on Walter’s case.

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Discrimination/Racism. “When you’re guilty the moment you born.” On November 1, 1986, in the town of Monroeville, 18-year-old Ronda Morrison was brutally murdered inside a dry cleaning store. There was not enough evidence to point to Walter McMillian as the killer, but somehow, the law found a way to put him behind bars. Alabama remains to be a predominantly white state, and whether consciously or unconsciously, the authorities picked Walter to take the fall because he was an easy target – a simple, imperfect black man who would not be missed (except by his family and friends). It’s deeply troubling how a community would easily believe a lie and condemn the wrong man to death if it helps them sleep at night.

Death Row. When we hear the words death row, we can’t help but imagine the most vile criminals locked up, not remorseful at all of the despicable things they did when they were free citizens. Just Mercy successfully shatters this notion by showing us that being part of death row doesn’t make anyone less human. In fact, that uncertain timer towards their death can make them more reflective of the things they’ve done in the past. This was especially seen in Herbert Richardson (Rob Morgan), an inmate in Holman State Prison who eventually becomes Walter’s friend.

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Become Better People. It’s been more than 30 years since Walter McMillian was sentenced to death in Alabama for a crime he didn’t commit. They say times have changed now that it’s 2020, but has it, really? Just Mercy is more than a great movie; it’s a call to action to do our part and become better people in the face of injustice and poverty.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines. Just Mercy opens exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas on January 22. 

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Bonus Trivia: Just Drama is also additional proof that eventually, all major actors and directors in Hollywood would have been involved in at least one Marvel movie:

Michael B. Jordan – Erik Killmonger (Black Panther), Johnny Storm (Fantastic Four)

Jamie Foxx – Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Brie Larson – Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)

Director Destin Daniel Cretton – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)




Spider-Man is leaving the MCU, and it sucks

The Beardict? Ultimately, fans lose.

Disney (which owns Marvel Studios) and Sony have failed to come to an agreement regarding the Spider-Man movie franchise. This parting of ways comes after Spider-Man: Far From Home was declared as Sony Pictures’ highest grossing film of all time, earning $1.1 billion in the global box office.


In their official statement, Sony said they are “disappointed” that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will no longer be involved in the next Spider-Man movie, and it may be because he’s too busy with the ever-growing cast of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feige is credited for being the man behind the MCU’s roaring success, as it is under his watch and direction that the movie world got introduced to the Avengers, Doctor Strange, and even oddball group Guardians of the Galaxy.

Background: If Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character, why is Sony even in the picture?

Back when Disney didn’t own Marvel Entertainment yet, Marvel licensed to Sony Pictures the movie rights to Spider-Man (and all related characters). Because of this, we were able to get the original Spider-Man trilogy which kicked off in 2002 (with Tobey Maguire as the wallcrawler and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson). When Sony and Director Sam Raimi had a falling out over creative differences after Spider-Man 3 (2007), the franchise was rebooted, resulting in The Amazing Spider-Man  (2012) with Andrew Garfield as the titular character.


In 2008, Marvel Studios produced their first film: Iron Man. With the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. playing billionaire superhero Tony Stark, it wow-ed audiences around the world, Disney executives most likely included. Not long after that, the company behind Mickey Mouse bought Marvel Entertainment.

After The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was met with lukewarm success and failed to gain a solid following, Sony and Marvel struck a deal: Spider-Man was to be incorporated in the MCU, Marvel would assume creative control, and they would share in the profits. Naturally, fans went wild after Spider-Man appeared in the trailer for Captain America: Civil War.


After two successful solo films under the MCU (Homecoming and Far From Home), Spider-Man (now played particularly well by Tom Holland) was supposed to lead Phase 4 alongside heroes such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange. Now, that plan is in extreme jeopardy unless Disney and Sony can come to an agreement.

Fans are taking it out on Sony Pictures as the general view is that the studio mishandled the Spider-Man franchise throughout the years, and now that the MCU Spidey films have been making a lot of money, they want it back. Multiple online jabs have been thrown at Venom (2018), as the film received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 29%.  However, the Raimi-led trilogy was a huge success, and it can be argued that it paved the way for the giant superhero industry that we have today. Additionally, Disney was not involved in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and yet it won Best Animated Movie in the most recent Academy Awards. Sony’s Spider-Man movies deserve a separate discussion, but for now, I just want to point out that while I’m quite sad about where this leaves MCU, it’s not fair to say that we will never get a great Spider-Man movie ever again.


The fact is, as Thanos said in Avengers: Infinity War, “reality is often disappointing.” Companies like Disney and Sony provide us valuable entertainment, but at the end of the day, we have to live with the decisions they make for their businesses. Allegedly, discussions fell apart because of profit-sharing: Disney wanted 50% of box office revenue moving forward (current agreement is just 5%). Of course, anything’s still possible, so have some faith, true believers. Disney and Sony can still change their minds, so we’re not yet in the endgame.


Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures