Weekend Roundup: SENNA & Breaking Dawn

Hello everyone, hope you had a nice weekend. It’s Daylight Savings Time again so most of us in the US lost an hour of sleep Saturday night. Not complaining though as that means the sun will still be up when I leave work on Monday.

Did you venture out to the cinema this weekend to see John Carter or Lorax? Well apparently a bunch of people did as the Dr. Seuss animated feature still sits on top for the second weekend with $39 mil, trumping over the sci-fi fantasy John Carter which made just a little over $30 mil. WOW, that is a major bust for Disney since the budget was a ludicrous $250 million [shakes head]. I have little interest in seeing it, looks like it’s worth a rental at best.

Well, I only managed to see two films this weekend, and yes, the stark contrast between the two didn’t escape me 😀 Anyway, here are my reviews:


Growing up with an older brother who’s a big cars fan, I knew who Ayrton Senna is and his tragic death in 1994. But apart from that, I don’t know much about the sport and and how he’s regarded as not only the greatest Formula One champion in the world but his sainthood status in his native country of Brazil.

Seems like Billy Joel’s song Only The Good Die Young is true after all and Senna definitely was one of them, dying at at the age of only 34. The documentary by Asif Kapaida spans the decade from his arrival to F1 racing in 1984 up until his untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Formula One to appreciate Senna’s extraordinary story and the film does a great job in presenting his life on and off the track.

Forgoing talking heads and interviews typically seen in documentaries, the filmmaker instead relies on actual footage of the races and various events of the characters, including Senna himself to tell the story, so to speak. The somewhat chronological order of the events taking place creates an in-the-moment experience for the viewers which makes is all the more thrilling. A lot of the time, we actually get to see from the point of view of the driver during the race, which actually makes you feel nervous as he make the dangerous corners time and time again.

The film shows a glimpse of what Senna is like as a person. His strive for perfection on the track can be considered ruthless on occasion, but it’s clear that he’s got enormous talent to go with such tenacity. He’s also a deeply spiritual man who loved the Lord and was often seen praying in his car just before a race. He’s also a patriotic man, deeply concerned for the well-being of his country, especially the children.

Senna was one of those rare champions who was all about the sports itself. Early in the film, there’s footage of Senna entering a karting competition as a young boy. Later in the film when someone asked him who his most favorite driver to compete against, Senna replied that it was his rival at one of the Kart championship… saying that there was no money or politics involved, just ‘pure racing’ he said, which he contrasted with the F1 racing that’s rife with politics. The film also follows Senna’s rivalry with French World Champion Alain Prost. They were former teammates-turned-nemesis and a couple of times they were involved in car collisions, one of them actually resulted in Senna being disqualified from winning the race.

Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna

Though his death happened 17 years ago, it didn’t make the moment leading up to his fatal accident any less nail-biting. There’s the driver POV footage down to the last moments just before his Williams FW16 hit the concrete wall at 135 mph. I practically broke down when I saw that scene even though I had watched the footage several times before, it was definitely a very dark moment in the world of racing and for the people of Brazil. It’s so ironic that just only a day earlier, following the death of an Austrian rookie, his medical chielf Sid Watkins had suggested that Senna stop racing and go fishing instead. That same morning he also intended to work on improving the safety of F1 racing with the Grand Prix Drivers Association. His death prompted a series of safety improvements, and there has not been any more fatalities at the wheel of an F1 car since.

This film truly delivers not just the thrill of the world of Formula One, but also an emotionally-charged piece on the monumental life of a real life hero. Senna wasn’t just a champion on the track but a humanitarian champion for his generous giving to his people of Brazil.

Final Thoughts: There has been considerable hype surrounding this film and I must say it exceeds my expectation. This one is definitely snubbed by the Oscars for not even being nominated! A perfect combination of edge-of-your-seat thrills and heartbreaking moments that will tug at your heart long after the film’s over.

4.5 out of 5 reels


Oh ok, where do I begin? Well let me just tell you that I was loaned the Blu-ray by a colleague who’s a self-confessed Twi-hard. I had told her I had only seen the first film but I’m curious to see this one because a big event takes place here, namely the wedding between a human and a vampire and of course the honeymoon where they um, consumate the relationship.

Just like the money-moker franchise Harry Potter before it, the finale of the Twilight series is also split into two parts for ka-ching purposes. There are indeed quite a lot going on in this first part, the main protagonist Bella Swan gets married, have sex for the first time, gets pregnant within 14 days of the sexual encounter, dies and then gets rebirth. Normally I’d apologize for ruining the plot for you but I reckon you’d have predicted the outcome after just minutes after the movie starts so you won’t have to wait with bated breath to see what’s to unfold next.

For what it's worth I think he makes for a pretty decent Hulk, no?

Predictably, the film opens with the resident brooding werewolf, er shape-shifter Jacob reacting to Bella and Edward’s wedding. What kind of reaction you ask? Well he’s so upset he simply has to take his shirt off and runs off to the woods, of course (apparently his pants are made of the kind of shape-shift-enabled material that he doesn’t need to bother taking those off). Then we see the suddenly worried Edward asking Bella one last time if she’s ok with marrying a hundred-something-year-old vampire who has done his share of blood sucking in his past lives. She is only 18 after all. But Bella reasoned that ‘those you killed are all murderers who’ll do more damage to society’ so she assures him she wants to marry him. This whole thing plays out like a mopey soap opera with utterly-cringe-inducing dialog and even more awkward gestures from both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. For a couple who’re allegedly an item in real life, their chemistry just doesn’t appear that convincing to me. If it weren’t for the goth and 300-inspired of bloody corpses piled up at the altar featured in Bella’s wedding nightmare, the whole thing would be quite unbearable.

The wedding itself doesn’t strike me as romantic, well apart from the magical-looking forrest it takes place in. But what’s REALLY worth talking about is the honeymoon location. Say what you will about this pale, sparkling vampire, but my, does the Cullens have great taste and money to burn. My jaw drops looking at Isle Esme, the name of a tropical island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Heck I’d marry a vampire just to spend a weekend on that gorgeous, secluded spot… um, then again, maybe not, ahah.

Anyway, the whole honeymoon itself seems to go on forever. Ok so maybe for the faithfuls, this is the one moment they’ve been waiting forever and so no doubt the filmmakers are making them happy with countless scenes of Edward & Bella getting it on and playing… chess?? Am I missing something here? Maybe chess is an aphrodisiac for vampires? In any case, for a couple who’ve waited a long time to consumate their relationship, there’s hardly any passion in their romantic scenes. Bella always comes across so jittery and uncomfortable around Edward and for someone supposedly in a state of wedded bloss, she never looks all that happy to me [shrugs] Well, the honeymoon certainly doesn’t last long, as within a couple of weeks, Bella finds out she’s with child.

The rest of the movie pretty much deals with how Bella is coping with the extremely dangerous pregnancy that could kill her, and also what the birth of the hybrid baby means to everyone involved. Not having read the book, the whole thing is quite confusing as it’s not clear which side Jacob is on, I suppose that’s what one should expect from a shape-shifter, ahah. Taylor Lautner seems just slightly more bearable here than in the first Twilight movie, but that really ain’t saying much. His idea of being ‘expressive’ is furrowed brows and staring down intently at whoever it is he happens to be facing.

Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) takes an already bleak subject matter and presents it in an arduous, melancholy fashion and full of unintentionally funny moments. It really is hard to take this movie seriously when you’ve got a big fight of werewolves vs. vampires with barely any blood at all, heck we barely even see Edward & co. showing their vampire teeth!

But wait, suddenly the last twenty minutes morphs into a monster/horror movie. I must say that the whole childbirth process is quite disturbing to say the least. CGI-effects made Kristen Stewart into even more skin-and-bones than she already is and the camera shows constant shots of her bloody figure. I think ghastly is a more appropriate term to describe the third act, tethering between repulsive and horrifying. The ending shot is practically identical to the ending of Avatar, in which the protagonist Jake Scully also undergoes a rebirth of some sort. But what Bella went through is undoubtedly far more agonizing and down right traumatizing.

I have to admit that now I’m mildly curious to see how the franchise unfolds in Part II. But since it’ll have the same director and screenwriter Mellissa Rosenberg, who’s responsible for writing ALL of the Twilight movies, I should proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts: Seems like a lot that come before it, this movie is highly geared for the Twi-hard only crowd. My hubby and I enjoyed it mostly for giggles and the gorgeous scenery of the majestic Isle Isme, but I probably would’ve skipped it altogether if my friend hadn’t loaned it to me.

1.5 out of 5 reels

So what movie(s) did you catch this weekend? Thoughts on either one of these, please share in the comments.