The Wheel and Axle

Everybody needs a shipwreck wans in a while.

by on Jul.18, 2011, under Film & TV

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The remake of Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Temptation Island” was more faithful than I expected. It had a few tweaks here and there, mostly to modernize the references, but it was surprisingly intact. No wonder: the original was such a classic with those quotable quotes that to mess with it would ruin the remake significantly – and writer/director Chris Martinez knows this.

What is unfortunate is that the remake was obviously created with straight comedy in mind, and that’s where it loses its edge. The original was never, as far as I can tell, intended to be a comedy. It was a sex flick, one in a long line of Gosiengfiao’s pseudo-bomba ouvres that dared to tackle serious social issues but resulted in some of the most hilarious works in Philippine cinema. Nympha, The Rape of Virginia P., Diary of Cristina Gaston, Bomba Star, Under-ageNights of Serafina: you see what I mean.

Proof of this departure of intent can be seen in the theatrical posters of the original and the remake. Compare this…

Oooh! Aaah! We are serious actresses!

… with this:

Oooh! Aaah! Helleeer!

Still, the remake stands on its own for what it is: a tribute to and acknowledgement of the original. It also makes its mark as a tribute to Gosiengfiao himself. Little things are included that refer to his body of work, not the least of which is the renaming of the female characters to reflect some of his most famous creations (Cristina G., Serafina L., Pura K., Virginia P., and Nympha). The inclusion of the Virginia P. “soundtrack” during a most opportune moment is also one of the finest moments of the remake.

The best performers are the seasoned ones: Marian Rivera, Rufa Mae Quinto, and John Lapus.

Marian and Rufa Mae obviously relish their roles; they are hilarious as expected. Marian is perfectly-cast as the balahura con artist and does Azenith Briones proud, even if sometimes she has a tinge of social grace that the original didn’t have. Rufa Mae, another wise choice, delivers her punchlines with great timing and pizzazz. However, both Marian and Rufa Mae know they are doing a comedy and act in this manner, which pulls you out of the illusion.

John, on the other hand, takes the prize as he approaches his character seriously, as though he were in an Oscar-winning drama. He relies on getting the laughs inadvertently.

Hunger begets hallucination.

There have been a lot of positive reviews of Lovi Poe, but I can’t see why. She has her moments, but she doesn’t come close to Jennifer Cortez’s queen bitch. The charm of Jennifer’s Suzanne was the disconnect between her socialite persona and her off-putting English (“What are beetches for but to beetch around with her fellow beetches?” and “Buuurtday na naman ng bruha!” spring to mind), but Lovi’s Serafina delivers her lines too perfectly (and often, masyadong pa-sweet). I wish ABS-CBN had let Angelica Panganiban take on this role; she would have been perfect.

Both Solenn Heussaff and Heart Evangelista fall short as well. Solenn stumbles; props, though, for the slight resemblance to Bambi Arambulo. Heart is sweet, as the role calls for, but her sweetness strikes me as fake and acted, not natural.

Island Men

Of the leading men, Tom Rodriguez was the good surprise. He took the role of Umberto and, despite limited experience, gave it justice (even if he wasn’t as proletariat as the original). Aljur Abrenica takes Alfie Anido’s role and is adequate, but there is something missing in his portrayal; perhaps he should have stripped down to white briefs as Alfie Anido did. Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt that Tom took over that function by prancing around in his red briefs, so who are we to complain?

Mikael Daez barely delivers, but perhaps he should be forgiven given this is his first film role. He is terribly miscast. One wonders what Paulo Avelino – who dropped out due to health – would have done with the role. Perhaps even Dennis Trillo, who does a cameo as Tonio, may have been a better choice to be Ricardo since this character is supposed to be the mature and level-headed one amongst the men, while Mikael looks to be the youngest of them.

My guilty pleasure with this movie is the inclusion of both Debora Sun and Azenith Briones. Debora’s turn as Mrs. Kikinang (Anita Linda’s Mrs. Belisario in the original) was appreciated. Azenith’s turn as Mrs. Syjuco was not as lengthy as Debora’s, but her deadpan delivery – especially the “Model Search” line – was hilarious. The credits are also a must-see.

All in all, this remake is worth watching. It may not provide the same kind of unintended comedy as the original, but it certainly provides a level of entertainment that still warrants a viewing for the horde of fans of the original: those who can identify what it means to be a creuk, a dam goode creuk who can tell anader creuk when dey siwan. Tulad mo, an exciteeng… and adveynchuroos yang wan.

After all, burds of de seym fedder flak togedder.

My Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

Directed By: Chris Martinez

Starring: Marian Rivera, Rufa Mae Quinto, Lovi Poe, Solenn Heussaff, Heart Evangelista, John Lapuz, Tom Rodriguez, and Aljur Abrenica. Introducing Mikael Daez. With the special participation of Dennis Trillo, Debora Sun, and Azenith Briones.

Enjoy these screencaps from the original:

Nothing beats the original.

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