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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

My Brother's Latest Work: Blame It On The Pop (Da Khuns video version)

My little brother has a hobby of making these videos with my cousins. Normally I don't join in this since I've got my own things I want to do but I do appear in a cameo in this one. That's beside the point though as the reason I'm plugging his video is because I genuinely think it to be very well done and worth sharing with my readers. So here's his latest and best work so far:

Blame It On The Pop (Da Khuns video version)

P.s. See if you can figure when exactly I make my cameo. It's a bit like finding Waldo.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train your Dragon is Dreamworks’ most recent theatrical production and my expectations for this movie were terribly low thanks to the kid-marketed trailer and the promise of 3D. I’ve never seen what 3D films are like but the mention of it alone implies that the movie will mainly be a work based on amazing spectacles rather than the strength of its story and direction. The underuse of Stephen Colbert in Monsters Vs. Aliens and also the horrible third installment of Shrek also played some role in my lack of enthusiasm. However, in a complete reversal of what I thought of Tim Burton’s allegedly darker and mature adaptation Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon was a solid and enjoyable movie disguised as what I assumed to be “Eragon: Kids Vesion”.

The story is about a misfit named Hiccup from a village of dragon-hunting Vikings that value physical strength, violence and foolhardiness over intellectuality and compassion. He is constantly ridiculed by his peers for being so different and has a somewhat strained relationship with father for the same reasons. I missed the first ten minutes of the movie so I don’t what happened then but Hiccup gets a chance to kill a dragon made defenseless during that time. He can’t bring himself to kill it so he lets it go and this is where his relationship with Toothless the dragon begins. The rest of the movie shows him coming to understand the true nature of these dragons, his attempts to clear up the misunderstandings his people have built up over the years and Hiccup coming into his own as a person.

I am happy to say that while the premise of this movie is clichéd, the direction in which the story is taken handles all the clichés in ways that showed that they remembered the fact that the audience weren’t made entirely of a bunch of simple minded fools and children with the attention spans of flies. I say “entirely” because there were definitely a few of those inside as there some people in the theatre with me that found some scenes funny when they really weren’t supposed to be funny. The lack of instant magical pet bonding and quick fixes along with there being lasting consequences for the actions that the characters take actually make it easy for one to take the movie seriously. The sequences and the various plotlines were given an appropriate amount of time to unfold which in turn gave me a reprieve from face palming and head banging that so, so, so many stories with similar premises weren’t gracious enough to provide me with.

Aside from the refreshing take that the movie took for this kind of plot, I have to praise the magnificent work they did with the soundtracks. No matter what scene was playing through on the silver screen, the background music was completely appropriate for every one of them and that made some scenes even more effective than they would have been if the music had been any less fitting. For example, there was a scene where Hiccup dropped his guide to flying dragons right as he was about to fly through an area filled with many cliffs and archways that he needed to get through. Just before that scene, he was still having a lot of trouble with the basic movements so having him suddenly flying like an ace like that would have soured my opinion about the movie with the predictability of the sequence if that was all there was to it. However, combine that with an appropriately glorious orchestra piece and you get an instant and unquestionable Crowning Moment of Awesome.

So how should one describe this movie to give it a more accurate portrayal rather than the initial kids flick impression that I myself fell to? “A fantasy about a kid maturing as an individual with just the right amount of darkness to go with a seemingly light tale” is how I’d describe this movie. If you’re still on the fence about watching this movie like I was then you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say it’s worth the ticket fare, the overpriced snacks and the 98 minutes in the dark cold cinema. People of all ages will be able to appreciate how good this movie is and that includes the sourpusses who avoid all things childish as much as possible i.e. teenagers and cynics. Cynics in particular will be quite appreciative of the twist that happens to hiccup at the end of the movie so I really recommend this particular movie.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

The other day I went to watch Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland much to the insistence of my siblings. For quite some time now they’ve been saying things like “I want to watch that!”, “It’s going to be awesome!” and “Tim Burton’s the best movie maker!” and that really got annoying after having seen the trailer myself. Once I saw the trailer I immediately thought to myself “Well… Can’t be that bad.”. I wasn’t wrong but I hardly felt that it was a movie that was worth going out of the way to a cinema to watch, much less one located in a place without much else going for it besides the cinema thanks to my brother’s friends’ idea of a good time.

Basically, this movie revisits Wonderland years after Alice first stumbles upon it. She comes back as an adult that has lost much of her childhood qualities despite still being an oddball in society during that era. Wonderland has fallen into turmoil since Alice left as the Red Queen had taken over the fantasy world and now Alice has to rediscover herself so she can slay the Jabberwocky and release them from the Red Queen’s tyranny.

I really have to wonder what the hell the producers of this movie were thinking. Why exactly are they trying to continue the story with a plot that doesn’t work in the same spirit as the source story? Does anyone actually have any good ideas left in Hollywood? Mind you, I’ve never read the entirety of the original stories but I know that the author would be rolling in his grave because of this take on his world. Seriously, how do you go from a story of a curious child discovering a wonderfully mad world and twist it into a crapsack world that needs saving.

I’m also dishing out “What the hell were you thinking?” to Tim Burton for accepting the job to this film at all. I’m not quite as big a fan as my siblings but I know the guy has a sweet macabre style when it comes to film making. He did a decent job here but it lacked that great style of his. The plot was ridiculously generic for the guy and the direction felt half-assed for a good portion of the film. The only thing I felt was actually his work were the designs for the human characters but other than that the rest of the stuff felt like they were thought up by a rookie who only knows how to copypasta other people’s style. The climax was surprisingly dull for what’s supposed to be the peaking point of the movie and the concluding scenes of the movie were so horribly awkward that it may just have been the worst part of the movie.

The main wallbangers of this movie would have to be plot setup, Alice’s actress and the lack actual originality where it matters. Throughout the movie I was thinking why exactly did the place go downhill so much after Alice left? In the big picture, she wasn’t anything more than a lost little girl who passed through Wonderland and yet her brief visit had shaken the world so much simply because she was there for what should have been a few hours. I thought there would be more to it than just the oracle scroll thing saying that it was her but apparently there was no big twist to it at all. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any twists in the movie at all. The actress didn’t do very much to help the situation either. Her acting was wooden where it needed and didn’t need to be. You could pass that off as old British behavior in some scenes but it becomes apparent in the rest that they made a mistake casting roles. Speaking of which I felt it would have made the movie more interesting if Johnny Depp had been someone other than the Mad Hatter even though he did his job sufficiently well enough.

In conclusion, Alice in Wonderland is just one of many others with similar plots and that any hype sparked by the inclusion of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton on the staff is not justified by the contents. I could say the same of “9”, another one of Tim Burton’s movies, if it weren’t for the fact that it actually did show off his style despite its predictable plot. Hopefully the Book of Eli will live up to my expectations as I hear that it has some pretty good twists for a Survivorland movie.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Miku Day 2010

How is it that even as a NEET I still somehow manage to keep a busy schedule in real life? That's a rhetorical question by the way. I know how but I just can't figure out how these things keep coinciding and conspiring to keep me busy(And how is it my new H.P. Lovecraft novel is never around when I'm waiting for someone?). Sigh~. Hoping to get back to posting up the manga reviews and probably improve the layout a bit more soon.

Anyways, the subject of this post is the Miku Day concert they held in Japan a few days ago. I just saw the videos and they've really been working hard on improving the Project Diva models for the live concerts. Seriously, I'm hoping that these upgraded character models will be used for Project Diva 2 cause the movements and textures seem more fluid now. In any case here are the videos that haven't been erased by SEGA yet so enjoy them.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Monday, 1 March 2010

Manga Review: Legend of Koizumi


Title: Legend of Koizumi
Author: Owada Hideki
Release: Monthly
Status: Ongoing
Genre: Shonen, Comedy
Art: A
Originality: A
Story: B
Characters: A
Humor: A
Action: A

Impression: This is a hotblooded over the top mahjong comedy series featuring the world leaders from about 3 years ago with former Japanese PM, Junichiro Koizumi. Basically they turn all of these political leaders into Extreme Mahjong players with high stakes on the line ranging from millions of dollars to jet fighter planes to the safety of the entire world. The special skills these guys use don’t just break the rules but they are far beyond the realm of possible. You could very well call this the Gurren Lagann of Mahjong manga! It’s quite a bit of fun but you will not learn how to play mahjong from this series. It’s too nonsensical and awesome to make any sense at all. Even the pope is dragged into the mess and god damn the guy looks completely badass in this series. Incidentally, Putin is very much the same as his real life counterpart – in other words, he’s a total badass.

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