Tuesday, May 15, 2007

2 reviews: a delightful Discovery and a sappy sequel

The Country Suites in Tagaytay, operated by the Discovery Suites group, is as lovely as the brochures make it out to be. A large country-style house converted into an inn with a bed-and-breakfast vibe, there are only 7 spacious and well-appointed rooms, each with a unique interior design theme (we were shown the Japanese-inspired Zen room). There's also a small garden with an outdoor hot tub, with a great view of Taal Lake and its famous volcano.

But what lured my family to the Country Suites in the first place was its restaurant, Verbena, where we had lunch last Sunday to celebrate my dad's birthday and Mother's Day. The food was excellent and surpassed our expectations. For a starter, I had the Tagaytay tomato soup with ravioli, which was hearty and filling. Then I shared the rib eye steak with my dad. Medium-well was really medium-well (a feat rarely achieved, pun not intended), the meat was tender and flavorful even without the peppercorn gravy, and Chef David's super creamy potato puree was as delicious as it sounds. For dessert, I stole bites of the yummy coffee panna cotta served with the set menu my brother ordered, and the complimentary slice of birthday cake (orange carrot with chocolate frosting) they gave my dad. The service was efficient, although the only person who showed some genuine country warmth was the supervisor on duty, who showed us the Zen room upon my dad's request.

Room rates are a bit steep (ranging from P10,000 to P15,000 depending on the size of the room), and the menu prices at Verbena rival posher Manila restaurants', but based on the quality of our meal and the aesthetic appeal of the inn, I'd say it's worth the splurge. The Mother's Day set menu was actually very reasonably priced; at P850++, Bens got 6 courses, with portions generous enough that he barely had room for dessert. I'm sure the next time we take a trip to Tagaytay, we'll be considering the Country Suites as an option for our accommodations, and a meal at Verbena will definitely be on the itinerary.

* * *

As far as comic book film adaptations go, the Spiderman franchise has done a pretty decent job, in spite of all the liberties taken with the characters and story lines. Even a purist like me appreciates how director Sam Raimi churned out entertaining blockbusters with the first 2 Spiderman movies, inaccuracies notwithstanding. After all, one shouldn't take comic book movies too seriously.

However, Spiderman 3 was a letdown in that it had way too many corny and cheesy parts, even for a superhero flick. I kept wincing whenever Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) had one of their countless teary-eyed moments, or when a crowd of overeager extras would gape open-mouthed at an invisible, CGI-generated web-slinging Spidey overhead. At some points, I actually felt like slapping my forehead (the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, lame lines like "Shut up!" in the middle of a fight scene, and an inexplicable, incongruous Saturday Night Fever-ish segment). Throughout the 2 hours and 20 minutes, I couldn't decide if I was watching a maudlin soap opera that happened to have some action scenes thrown in, or an unfunny parody of a comic book (in one scene, Spiderman actually cried "Shazam!"). Too much drama, too little Venom, too much focus on the romantic angle, too little time spent saving the Big Apple from bad worms.

The bright spot in the whole movie was Abi's darling James Franco, who played Harry Osborn with an easy grace that was equal parts arrogant swagger, angry intensity, and devious charm (AND the boy can shake his booty!). Conversely, James Cromwell was wasted in an insignificant supporting role as the police chief, and I just couldn't take Topher Grace-- especially with the bleached hair-- seriously (to me he'll always be Eric Foreman from That 70's Show). And what was up with all the Raimis in the cast credits? Did Sam dole out bit parts to his entire family?

Of the 3 Spidey movies, this last one was the worst. I hear Spiderman 4 is in production, even if Tobey Maguire hasn't signed on for a fourth turn as Marvel's most popular masked hero. I don't know if they're planning a shift a la the Batman franchise (changing directors, casting different actors as the Dark Knight), or if they'll be successful in doing so (just as Warner Bros. hit the jackpot with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale). But it had better be an improvement over this last disappointing debacle, TV reporters with absurd British accents and all.


At Friday, May 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank YOU for that Abi's JAMES FRANCO bit :) he's mine alright (haha i wish!)

he's too hot ailee. it's inhuman. it's mind blowing. never mind that this is the worst of all 3 spiderman movies. i dont care. this one has the most HARRY screentime so i sure hell love it!

s4? it will suck. if only bec HARRY's dead!! hmph!!!


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