Not so tempting

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The film, directed by Chris Martinez and produced by Regal Films and GMA Films, remains faithful to the original plot about the fight for survival of four beauty pageant candidates who figure in a sea mishap, subsequently landing on a deserted island along with five others.

The cast is a mixed bag. There are a few noticeable hits and misses. Lovi Poe delivers exceptionally as Serafina, the bratty socialite originally played by Jennifer Cortez. She stands out with the way she enunciate her lines coupled with her slight resemblance to the original actress.

Marian Rivera looks like she had fun playing Cristina, but she got too carefree at several occasions—as if totally forgetting that the role Bambi Arambulo took on was that of a high-class prostitute.

Heart Evangelista, stunning as she is, would have been more effective if she stuck with her naturally demure self as Virginia. She didn't get as much screen time as Dina Bonnevie did in the original film, but that's probably a good thing, as her saccharine portrayal can get annoying at times.

While Solenn Heusaff still has a lot to learn, her effort to reprise Azenith Briones' social-climbing character, Pura, is quite evident, plus the camera loves her. Still, self-confessed fans of the 1980 original would probably remember Heusaff as someone who made most her important lines dull and forgettable.

Rufa Mae Quinto, meanwhile, nails the role of Nympha, which previously belonged to Deborah Sun. She made the role completely her own without having to steal the limelight from the four Miss Manila Sunshine girls. John Lapus, on the other hand, gives a satisfactory performance and doesn't disappoint, but fails to surpass the cattiness and eloquence of the original character, Joshua.

Aljur Abrenica is supposedly the "smart" and "level-headed" one in the group, but his faux American accent only magnifies the fact that he is miscast as Alfred. Both Tom Rodriguez and Mikael Daez show signs of struggle and fail to match the suave performances of their predecessors. They look awkward in the midst of more experienced actors.

The team behind this new movie altered a few creative details to make the original plot more apt for current times. Understandably, the special effects definitely look better and the wardrobe appears more current. It is also for these reasons that you feel like you're watching a complete retread—it lacks the necessary twists that would make it feel different from the original.

In some scenes, the cast look too glamorous and too dolled up as castaways so audiences may neglect the fact that the characters are stuck in a life-and-death situation. Also, despite some expectations that the actors would completely loosen up and let their hair down, most of them fail to do so. Formulaic soap opera acting occasionally crops up and kills the supposed comedic moments, so that is a bit of a letdown. It would've been better if nobody shed real tears.

For what it's worth, Temptation Island 2011 did an excellent job in paying loving homage to the original. The hilarious scenes and spot-on dialogue can be more or less traced to the original so viewers familiar with the first version would appreciate how it was redone. Also, Martinez made a clever move by renaming the characters for those of Gosengfiao's other movies: Virginia P. (1989), The Secrets of Pura (1988), The Diary of Cristina Gascon (1982), Nights of Serafina (1996) and Nympha (1980).

Unfortunately, it's not campy enough, and, worse, the barrage of superfluous fluff makes it appear that serious effort was made to have the film fall under the so-bad-it's-good category. In the end, it's a good sexy comedy. There's a fine line between campy sexy comedy and plain sexy comedy.

Fans of the original may have mixed feelings about this remake. Watching the end credits, in which footage from the original scenes are synced with scenes in the remake, would make you wonder: What's the point? Was a remake really necessary? Hopefully, it was done to introduce a new audience to the material and to provide a new outlet of discussion among cineastes. It could also doubly elevate the original's masterpiece status, too, and prove that Regal had the capacity to green-light a satisfactory (if not a better) remake. It could be one (or none) of these reasons, but to borrow Bibeth Orteza's words from the 1980 original, "your guess is going to be just as good as mine."

This movie review originally appeared in BusinessWorld "Weekender" on July 8, 2011.

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