Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Struck by Lightning.

Well.. not me.

There was a heavy thunderstorm 2 Saturdays ago in my neighbourhood and one particular strike of lightning was followed by an almost deafening roar of thunder. I was taking a nap and the first thing that crossed my mind is thanks God I turned off the computer and its power disconnected. So I continued my sleep.

I only found out later in the evening that a house in the neighbourhood was struck and its roofs damaged. I would have take a photo but it was already dark. The next morning was greeted by another discovery as I tried unsuccessfully to go online. There was no light on my modem. A quick check revealed that the DSL filter was exposed and when I found the cover, it was immediately obvious why.

Apparently, the phone line was struck too and the overload of power is so great that the line burst and blew open the cover. The line connected to the modem is also burnt off so my modem is damaged now. I must have replaced the modem less than a year ago, the last which was also damaged by lightning. I never learnt my lesson.

Better get the modem replaced ASAP, with a lightning protector of course, or my only way to go online would be the cybercafe.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Deep Blue Sea

I was in Port Dickson today. Unfortunately, it was for work and not play.

I am not sure what was the reason but the tide seems higher than usual and the sea blue-er. Even on non-resort beach, where the water tend to be a little brownish to the eyes, the water is blue today. I am talking about the blue we normally only see on postcard, the shade of the deep blue sea.

Too bad, I didn't have my camera with me..

Friday, October 3, 2008

Accuracy of Death

I stepped into the cinema hall knowing nothing more than Takeshi Kaneshiro played the role of Death in this movie.
The movie opened with Kaneshiro attending a church funeral. He sat himself next to a cute little girl who immediately recognised that he is a shinigami, often refered to as the God of Death or in this case, the Grimm Reaper. When asked about a shinigami's role, Kaneshiro gently explained that a shinigami appears to people about to face an unexpected death. After determining if that person has fulfilled his purpose on earth, the shinigami will choose to either proceed with his death or suspend it. However, a shinigami will only attend a child's funeral as a courtesy since most children are usually not aware of what is really happening. Thus revealed, not really unexpectedly, that the little girl speaking to Kaneshiro is the deceased everyone in the church is mourning.

And with that introduction, the movie begins the first of three stories that make up the film. Kaneshiro's character uses the name "Chiba" when he is on the field. He would usually makes contact and interview "prospects" on their opinion on death and determine himself if the person has yet a purpose to be served by continuing living. Even though his dog companion revealed that Chiba usually choose to proceed, he tends to hold his decision till the last day, which was fortunate for one prospect, whose new purpose in lives was revealed only on the day she was meant to die.

Unsurprisingly, all three stories are connected to each other but it was done in quite an unspectacular way. With a title like "Accuracy of Death", I was actually expecting a slow but highly thought provoking notion on why death is necessary and important to the point that it can affect the course of history. The movie was slow but it was hardly thought provoking. In fact, the charm of the movie lies in its humour. The bulk of the humour however, lies in Chiba's taking in the literal meaning of the words people said, being totally clueless about the slang we used. This incited plenty of laughter but it didn't make sense since he is in constant communication with humans. Beside, one other shinigami who spoke with him didn't seems to have that problem. There is also an inconsistency in the second story when he is more suave and street smart and he even smoked. Maybe he picked it up over the years but in the last story, he is back to his old 'dumb' self.

The movie lack the sophistication I was expecting and the humour was nothing brilliant. Its comic timing however was good enough to draw plenty of laughs. The contents may failed to meet my expectation but I can't say I didn't enjoy the movie. After all, why so serious?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

21

I am no genius but I kinda liked Mathematics. So when a movie comes out that centres on using Mathematics skills to win in Black Jack, I don't even bother who will be in it. I am just going to watch it.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a Maths genius hoping to secure a scholarship to Harward Medical School as his USD8 perhour part time job simply isn't enough to pay for that education. That amount however, is still higher than what an average Malaysian is making on a full-time basis but enough about our country's economy.

As with all the geniuses depicted in any movie, Campbell doesn't has many friends, often only hanging out with two other people who though are pretty smart, are only half his genius and 1/3 his good look. These two friends and Campbell's mother are the only people present to celebrate his very tame 21st birthday. The birthday scene was a crucial one as they used the Fibonacci code to depicted the number 21 on the cake so audiences can see what geeky maths geniuses they are. That was when I realised this is going to be a mediocre movie.

Campbell's lives started to changed when he impressed his non-linear equation professor by explaining how eliminating a wrong option from a choice of three actually increased the probability of one of the remaining two to 66.66% being the correct option instead of just 50%. That is called variable changes.

I didn't get that either.

As it turned out, Professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) is looking exactly for someone of his genius as he is leading a team of clever students to win big money in Las Vegas via card counting. He was looking for a replacement for a key member who left the team for a job in Google, which is really funny if you received an email showing the office in Google. Everyone wants to work for them now.

Back to the story, honest Campbell does not wish to get involved but when his mother gave her hard-earned life saving to help pay for his Harvard education, he decided that Vegas is the only way to go. Campbell joined the team, which coincidently included Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), the prettiest girl in campus whom he happened to has the hots for.

Campbell was determined to do this only until he raised enough money for Harvard but the question is, after he get a taste of the high life of easy wealth, can he really go back? Can a brilliant student making money from simple Maths skill still thinks about using his genius for the betterment of mankind? Would a CEO enjoying privileges paid for by the company opts to gives up that luxury to reduces expenditures? Will a politician with power to reform policy to suits his own personal interest chose to repents and steps down?

The answer is a dissolute no, unless someone makes them.

That someone comes in the form of security honcho, Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) who quickly caught on to what Campbell can do. But he isn't as interested in Campbell as he is in Rosa, with whom he has an old grundge.

The movie has a decent story and characters, which is played well enough by its casts but everything about it is pretty run of the mill. It is a pretty standard fare of a hero using his gift for personal gains only to learn the wrongness of his action and turned over a new leaf. And audiences are taught a little lesson not to belittle those smarts geeks around us as we never know just what they may be capable of.

It is also interesting that the movie actually revealed how card counting works although I don't quite understand it. Maybe the instruction isn't complete but more probably is that I am just not smart enough to get it. There is also the phrase "Winner winner, Chicken dinner", uttered everytime a player got a Black Jack which meaning and significance escaped me but which I find catchy.

Here's a Mathematics question. Is it worth paying to watch this movie? I paid RM6 to watch this on Wednesday and I pretty much get my worth but RM10 for any other day just may noy be worth its fare. Now how is that for non linear equation?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Babylon AD

Well, I watched Babylon AD too. Given the critical review it received, I wouldnn't exactly say it sucks.

Vin Diesel is Toorop, a mercenary tasked with bringing a special and mysterious girl from a convent to the US of A. Come to think of it, I have no idea where on earth he was at the beginning of the movie.

The girl in question is Aurora (Melanie Thierry) and her constant companion Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh). Aurora appeared to be very knowledgeable on many subject common and uncommon. She even knows how to operate a 30 years old submarine but she is also irritatingly emphathetic to the suffering of others. Other than that, put her in a singlet and a pair of shorts, let loose her hair and she is still pretty hot.

It became clear very soon that more than one faction wanted and needed her so Toorop's job isn't somuch of getting her to US safely than ensuring that she doesn't falls into the hand of the other faction. The question is who Aurora really is and why is she so important to so many people?

Compared to Death Race which I watched a week earlier, Babylon AD is more properly produced and tastefully directed but it still suffered from the things that don't make sense plaguing the movie.

The movie started right with the introduction of Toorop, his character and what he stands for. We were treated to a mildly exciting journey they made as Toorop tried to smuggle Aurora and Rebeka to the US. Along the way, the movie created the mystery of Aurora real identity.

But after creating the stage for what could be of biblical proportion, audiences were left with the tacky revelation of science experiment gone wrong (gone right?). And if Aurora is so important to everyone alive, then what exactly is Toorop fighting for?

As an action movie, it isn't so bad but ultimately has nothing fresh to offer. As a science fiction, its element is too weak and too brief. As a biblical fantasy, the mystery it successfully created in the beginning was ravaged by its sudden transition into science fiction toward the end of the movie. In the end, the villain was not properly dealt with and we could not see the relevance of certain incidents that took place. Maybe there is some kind of significance to the ending. Aurora did gave virgin birth to a pair of twin girls who were one black and one white but I certainly couldn't see the meaning.

I was prepared to defend the movie but such anti-climatic ending changed my mind. Too bad.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Death Race

I was planning to watch Babylon AD when Duncan told me Babylon sucked, watch Death Race instead.

OK...

I know Jason Statham was in it and though I thought he looked the part of a tough guy, I was never really a fan. Beside, the title and poster looked really cheesy and I expected the movie to be the same. But I watched it anyway.

Death Race is a very old school type of movie with an unlikely concept, a simple story and a small little twist to the plot. Done right, it can still be entertaining, provided one is willing to overlook all the holes that filled the entire movie. Holes that simply doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense that corporation can and would take over operation of correctional facility (they don't call it prison anymore).

It doesn't make sense that said corporation has authority to grant release order to its prisoners.

And it sure as hell doesn't make sense that in times of economic turmoil, so many people can actually afford paying to watch Death Race.

Still, I can see why such movie appealed to my buddy. Death Race is a sport broadcasted by aforementioned corporation from one of the prison it controls. Participated by its prisoners, the race promised anyone who wins the race 5 times release and freedom. But this isn't just a simple race to the finish line. Each car is heavily fortified and even more heavily armed. Driving over a lighted icon of sword or shield placed along the track will activate either the offensive or defensive system of the car. And it's not exactly a good idea to take the lead right from the start as that would means others can fire at you while you cannot fire at them. You don't just lost a race, you can literally die in one.

Wow! The whole idea is just like one big video game.

In the middle of round 2, the warden even introduced a new secret weapon called the Dreadnaught, presumably meaning "Dreadful Juggernaut". As the name might suggests, it is a super heavy vehicle that is both destructive and near indestructible.

Question. If the Death Race show is as popular as implied in the movie, why would they released something so powerful it can potentially kill every racers in Death Race and in effect, killing off the show along with them? And how does every vehicle, regardless of size and shape able to maintain similar speed to each other?

Ahh... more holes that just don't make sense.

Obviously I have many problem with its realism, or lack of it. But if I were to judge this movie solely on its entertaining value, then it's not so bad. Fast cars that are armoured and fire machine guns and missiles. Race sport that plays like a video game. Hot babes in tight clothing who know about cars. Yeah.. a guy could like a movie like this. Just don't worry about the things that doesn't make sense.

Robbed!

"Be careful what you wish for
Cos you just might get it all...
And then some you don't want..."
Sung the bridge of Chris Daughtry's Home.

Not for the first timeduring my blogging existence that I thought I got to write something other than movie review. And so something did happened on the first Wednesday of September. Something for me to write about.

I was robbed.

OK, technically, I was mugged but it lacks the dramatic effect of robbed. A bike pulled up right in front of me just as I was approaching the junction to the outdoor parking lot, its rider asking for my IC. Not looking the slightest like a police officer, I demanded for his identification. That was when he unzipped his jacket to revealed a machete hidden within and I know I was being mugged.

I remembered being very angry. This is my hard earned money and now I have to give it away to someone who did nothing more than hides a weapon in his jacket?

My immediate thought was to fight and take him down but a quick scan of the area suggested that there will be noone around to help me if I am unable to overpower him. So I co-operated and handed him my wallet. Even as he was taking the cash, I was grumbling aloud about how unfair this is. When he asked for my phone, I handed it to him too and demanded he return the SIM card but he wasn't interested in my old model. Suddenly, I was glad I never got around to replacing it. He asked for my other phone too, the bulge being rather obvious in my pocket but I just told him off, saying that was a company phone that I cannot give away. He didn't insist but instead, turned around to made his escape.

Huh? What a wimp! I could have take this guy!!

Part of me regretted that I was in no shape to fight back but another assured me that I did the smart thing. That's it until I realised that I was so absorbed in the thought of beating him up that I forgotten the time tested and proven art of self defense.

Run!

The street wasn't that busy. All I needed to do was run across quickly and I would reached the commercial building I came out from. And I wouldn't lost that RM300 - 400 I was carrying in my wallet.

I am feeling really stooopid right now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The "Cloned" Wars

Am I a big fan of Star Wars? Not exactly.

Do I like Star Wars? I guess I do to a certain extend. Having said that, I sure wouldn't mind getting Stormtrooper action figures for my birthday in October. Ahem. I always liked the Troopers figure because they looked like they are right out of the movie. Unlike the human figure, which likeliness is more difficult to capture.

Anyway, I just saw Star Wars- The Clone War, which was supposedly a missing episode between Part II Attack of the Clones (goodness, what a very lame name) and Part III Revenge of the Sith. Actually, I understand the transition just fine without having to watch this latest installment but I guess I just want to.

In a nutshell, the Galactic Republic with the help of the Jedi are in a war with the Separatist led by Count Dooku. The Separatists fought with their AI driven droids while the Republic have in their disposal the clone soldier, which, having a brain is is a more inteligent fighter. In the word from the movie, the war has kept the Jedi busy fighting the war with noone keeping the peace. But when crime lord Jabba the Hutt's son was kidnapped (since when he has one?), the Republic tried to win his favour by rescueing him. An endeavor that the Count would stop at nothing to sabotage.

The story was predictable and boring. The AI of the droids have to be seen to be believed. So they are not as intelligent as a live soldier but do they have to be portrayed as downright stupid? That was what they were in the movie. Very very stupid goons which are more funny than deadly. Basically there wasn't much of any developement going on here, characters or plot wise, just a bunch of things happening. The film is ultimately an action film but even that wasn't very exciting. The light sabre duel, all of them, are hardly inspired. The duels in the original trilogy were very suspenseful while the later prequel presented a very martial art oriented chereography. In The Clone Wars, it's just a bunch of people swinging their lightsabre and pushing things away with the force every once in a while. Very unimaginative. And I don't see why Lord Dooku has to let Anakin go near the end of the movie.

So the story sucks, how about the presentation? This film is actually in digital animation. I recognised the style from the Clone Wars animated series although they went one atep further and made this in 3-D. The style worked well enough as I am just glad they did not try to go the realistic approach. But while we were on the subject of animation, I must say I get more kick out of watching a single episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than this movie. Really.. this probably goes straight to DVD in the States (I dunno, I didn't check).

So should anyone watch this movie? Actually the Troopers are cool. As are most of their cannons and tanks and ship fighters and stuffs.

Only the fans.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

All I want is to hold her hand..

In a documentary I saw a long time ago, a simple experiment was carried out where scientists observed the growth of bacteria in a petri dish. Yet, despite the condusive environment created for them, their growth stopped even before the air and nutrients and whatever provided to them is used up. This is because they already created much wastes in the environment that it has became inhabitable.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what will happen to earth in the future when humans have created so much wastes on the planet that it can no longer support lives. And that is the world Wall-E lived in. The humans has moved out of earth into space, leaving only a troop of automated robots to clean up the mess for their eventual return.

In the biginning of the movie, all these Wall-E has already broken down, leaving only a single unit to complete the task.There was already towers and towers of compacted trash but little Wall-E still has a long way to go.

Fortunately, his solitude hasn't yet bore him to death (or total breakdown) yet as he has a good and loyal friend in the form of a cockroach. Beside that, Wall-E also developed a hobby of collecting special items from the mountains of trash that surrounded him. It is also from here that he keeps himself going as he salvaged parts from broken down units of Wall-E. Come to think of it, that is probably how his hobby got started and how his personality grows. Anyhow, anyone noticed the resemblance to Stephen Chow's recent"CJ7"? Wasn't there also a cute little hero there who can fix stuffs and a man who collected "treasures" from the junkyard? Or am I thinking too much?

Anyway, if anyone noticed I was refering Wall-E in a masculine term, that is because this is a love story. After 700 years of doing what he was built for, a space ship from Axiom, a huge mothership city where the humans now lives, arrived on earth to dispatched a probe to determine earth ability to support lives. This probe, named Eve was obviously a female, although I don't understand the reason of assigning gender to robots, and she was sleek, aerodynamic and squeky clean, in stark contrast to the worn out and blocky Wall-E. They were two world apart, like a princess and a pauper. Like Charlize Theron and Danny Devito. Or Michelle Reis and Eric Tsang. Well, You get the picture.

Wall-E has a little idea of what romance is from old movies that he watched in his spare time but he just let his heart guide him along. Awww...

How good can a romance between two robots be, you asked? Well, have you ever meet a person who totally change your perception in lives and gave you new purpose? Ever just want to hold the hand of that special someone? If you ever have that feeling before, you will be able to relate to Wall-E because mechanical he may be but I can so feel his longing to just hold Eve's hand.

So Wall-E fell in love with Eve and tried but failed miserably to impress Eve until he saves her from a storm and took her to his home. She was actually quite impressed with erm.. what he does with his home. They became friends and much later in the movie, she fell for him too. Awww...

This little love story was just lovable but there was also a side story. What happened to the humans who abandoned earth 700 years ago. What has happened to them since and what have they become? Predictably, they returned to earth eventually and it was interesting how the story of how they continue their lives from then on was told during the closing credit through a series of art beginning with cave painting, followed by what appeared to be Egytian hieroglyph. It was the beginning of life anew on earth after all. They even followed that up with painting style of the Renaissane era, pointilism and the style employed by Van Gogh himself. Brilliant closure but that was another story. In the end, it is the romance between Wall-E and Eve that makes this movie.

A delightful movie and one I would categorize as a good date movie, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Wall-E is absolutely adorable. Beside his personality, the design team deserved credit for designing a look that appeared both cute and functional. If ever a robot was built to do what Wall-E does, I can definitely imagine it would looked like that.Ha ha.. Wall-E looked like a little boy with his schoolbag in this picture.

Oh.. as with all recent Pixar production, there was also a short story before the actual movie begins. Called Presto, it is a story of a magician and his magic hat and how his pet rabbit refused to cooperate with him on his tricks until he is fed. Very very funny. Some people are not aware of Pixar's choice to include a short animation as an openning and the worried lady next to me actually asked if she is in the screening of Wall-E. I don't blame her, I had the same reaction when I saw Rattatouile.

So go watch this film but if you saw the story of a magician instaed, don't worry. You are in the right theater.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fraternity

Did you know that the Fraternity almost prevented WW2 but their assasin failed to kill Hitler? Their following assignment was then the assasination of those people who would prevented the creation of the atom bomb which eventually led to the end of WW2.
But alas, that very creation led to many new modern problem..

Nah.. that was just my imagination talking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Feeling Good

Last Tuesday my car broke down in, of all place, the stretch of road between Kuala Pilah and Batu Kikir? Where, you asked?

Exactly. That was an outskirt area so I don't blame you if you don't know. Fortunately for me, the OTC rep of my company was just coming back from Bahau (where? - exactly) and she spotted me. After getting a towtruck to get my car to the nearest workshop, Vikki gave me a lift home. Thanks Vikki.

Today, as I was preparing to go home, after seeing my last client for the day at, oh, about 7.00pm then (in case management is reading this), I discovered I have a flat. I used my last spare and have not replace it yet. There is a tyre shop just a block away so I slowly made my way there just to discovered it's closed. I talked to two malay chaps there if they know any tyre workshop nearby. One called his friend whom he claim is a mechanic, who agreed to come over. I thought immediately, this is gonna cost me. They are bound to take advantage in that kind of situation.

That young man arrived, took a look, confirmed I do not have a good spare and..

.. offered his spare to me at no cost. He said I can get mine tyre replaced tomorrow and look him up to return it. No cost. Then, he proceeded to helped me changed that tyre.

OK.. that was not what I was expecting. Awfully generous of this guy, especially since I don't even know him. Guess I should at least buy him lunch but the question is this:

Am I unlucky to have meet with these two unfortunate events barely within a week or am I exceedingly lucky that in both situation, I found someone to lent me a helping hand?

Have I done anything to deserved that? Um.. I do take time to help people sometimes. including strangers as long as it didn't cost me too much time or money or as long as I don't suspect they are taking me for a ride. I have not, however, went to the extend of offering my spare tyre to a total stranger. So was it the collective good deeds I did that I am receiving them now? It is nice to know there is still goods in the world and that one good deed will get you another.

I want to believe that because it just feels good to.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wanted

It seems not many people were aware that the movie Wanted was actually based on a comic book. The concept for the book was that there were really super powered beings n the world and what they chose to do with these power was to use these powers for their own benefits. In short, absolute power corrupts absolute.


Wesley Gibson was a loser in every sense, until he met a woman named Fox who told him his father was in fact a super assasin with the Fraternity who was just killed not too long ago. Wesley was promptly invited to take over his place. He learnt then that superheroes did exist but were wiped out when every super villains in the world decided to team up. Following that, one of them with reality altering power proceeded to also wiped out from every living memories these heroes. I would have prefer a more grounded story of these supervillains corrupted lifestyle but I thought the addition of the hitory and other alternate universe where those heroes still exist to be far-fetched. What most readers enjoyed most from the book is the extreme attitude. Wesley went from being a loser to smug confidence. He is not afraid to do anything because the Fraternity has his ass covered. Consequences are a thing of the past.

Was the movie true to the book?

Well, they have Wesley (James McAvoy) the loser and Fox (Angelina Jolie) the hottie. They have the Ikea table and Wesley's girlfriend having an affair on it. They have the shoot the wings off the flying flies test and they have the beat the face up training session. Beyond that everything else is different.

The comic is about owning superhuman ability and abusing the power to do anything and own everything desired without care of consequences. In the end, though Wesley was the lesser of the evil compared to his enemy, he was still a criminal. And he wins and own everything in the end. The moral of the story was crimes pays. Obviously Hollywood cannot make a movie with that kind of message so they made a few changes.

Wesley's father was a super assasin. Yes, and he has in his blood to become one himself. But these assasins were not just out to make a profit from their ability. They belong to a secret society with a noble goal of kill one to save a thousand.

Centuries ago, a group of weavers found a secret language in the cloth they weaved. Calling it the Looms of Fate, they came to understand the code was intruction from Destiny for a specific person to be assasinated to prevented certain tragedy. These assasins eventually evolved to what they are in the present days, able to use adrenaline to increase their speed, strength, awareness, and other skills. They were also able to shoot with uncanny sharpness and even bent the bullets from their guns. The man introduced in the beginning of the film as Wesley's father was shot by a fellow Fraternity's assasin with a sniper rifle from two whole city blocks away! Imagine that.

Basically the movie merely took the basic characters and setting from the comics and changed everything else. What the heck? Why did they do that? I wasn't disappointed but I thought the concept of the Fraternity presented was awesome and deserving of its own mythology. Why do they need to use the comic reference? They should just released that as its own movie. After which they can tells story of the Fraternity in the medieval age and other eras in history. Heck, they can claimed the Fraternity assasinate JFK. The concept was awesome and the potential limitless. It would be bigger than Star Wars.

Was it obvious that I enjoyed the movie? You bet I did. The directing was very stylish, from the art direction to the action. I must admit though that the more creative actions all appeared in the beginning while those toward the end were less spetacular, although still awesome all the same. And the movie shows what they means when Sloan, played by Morgan Freeman, said creating the orchestra symphony with guns. Watch that out in the start of Wesley vs everybody in the Fraternity at the end of the movie. There was something else they adapted from the comic book as Wesley found out later the story of his father's death was not entirely true. Neat twist, even better than the one in the comic.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Darkest Knight

If not for the tragedy that befell the actor, I would have yelled,"Heath Ledger lives!"
His portrayal as the Batman's lunatic archnemesis was absolutely captiviting.

The director who also brought us the brilliant "The Prestige" returned with his second installment of Batman. Christopher Nolan has chose to named the sequel The Dark Knight, after one of Batman's more famous moniker.

I had always assumed that the Dark Knight was simply a fancy name, since the Batman is a hero who wages war against crime and he usually operates in the dark of the night. The movie revealed a greater significance behind that name.

Post the first film, Batman Begins, our hero continued his war on crime. Two new and important characters entered Gotham City. First is a lunatic criminal in clown make up with a dangerous trait. The Joker has absolutely no fear of consequences.

The second is Gotham new hero, a righteous and charming man who is also the District Attorney. Harvey Dent is determined to bring the city criminals to justice legally and was later refered to at the end of the movie as The White Knight.

Ah... see the contrasting connection now to the Batman's Dark Knight?

Ledger's Joker may not dominate the film but he certainly steals the limelight. This Joker is not like the Joker in the comic book, whose fall into some chemical substance distorted his face into a permanent smiling facade. This Joker is just a man, though a mad one at that, who painted his face white, with a permanent smile painted on his face in red. This Joker is more gritty, and almost real.

This Joker, in my opinion is the star of the show. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe he has even more screen time than Batman himself, didn't he? The strength was in his personality and Ledger performance is Oscar worthy. While Bale is great as Batman, he is more often than not behind a mask and I don't quite fancy the growling voice he used as Batman. Only time I saw a stellar performance behind a mask is Edward Norton's portrayal of King Baldwin in Kingdom of Heaven. The contrasting personality of these two characters taking their battle from mere physical to a mental level with Batman, though more highly skilled in combat, finding that he is unable to intimidates the Joker as he did the other common criminal while the Joker takes full advantage Batman's refusal to bulged from his morality aganst him.

Comparison to Jack Nicholson's Joker in the Tim Burton helmed Batman is inevitable but I felt such comparison is unfair. Burton has created a world very much similar to the version presented in the comic book and he was lauded for doing that successfully. His Joker is maniacal to the point of being comical with a penchant for the grandeur and Nicholson played that lunacy to perfection. What Nolan required from Ledger was very much different as the Joker here is much darker with a twisted plan for Gotham City which he executed with deadly precision.

Nolan has brought to the movie an unprecedented level of realism never seen before in a superhero movie. The characters were rich and the motives each have for doing what they do is believable. The script, even Joker's line is unpretentious and at times, provoking. And though the idea behind the surveillance technology employed by the Batman is mind-boogling, it was not inplausible. I can imagine the US military already working on that technology, assuming they haven't already own it.

In one hand, it is hardly common for a billionaire to dons tights to battle crime. On another hand, it was not too fantastic that the logic behind it can be immediately dismissed. This is Nolan at his best, capturing many small moments of brilliance and packaging them into one breathtaking piece of orchestra.

Likewise, the Joker appeared to have his small moments of victory but just when it seems Batman had him beaten, he bounced right back to take over the city. Only then did everyone sees the true extend of the plan he has for Batman and the city. The final hour of the movie is most suspenseful and unpredictable and though the Batman out maneuvre him in the end, he never really did outwitted the Joker. The Batman may won the war but the costs from the earlier battles lost are too great while the Joker never really lose anything. It's true that although Batman has foes with more powerful ability than the Joker, none was as dangerous as a man who is simply, mad.

Nolan's realistic approach was a fresh change to the superheroes franchises but seeing that the movies were planned as a trilogy, who will trade punches with Batman next? Considering the style employed here, we can safely rule out any characters with superpower although who to say that Nolan can't come up with a realistic version of such foes? It woould certainly be interesting to see his version of the Penguin. I am almost certain we will see Catwoman in an ambiguous role, as she already did in the existing Batman mythology. But who will be the main villain? And after Ledger's excellent portrayal as the Joker, who else is deserving enough to challenge the Batman in the final installment?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Today..

TODAY I visited NZX Commercial Centre for the first time. It was nice but not yet very exciting. When the Street in The Curve just started, the place was still quite empty but I could see that it will grow very quickly and I was right. Too bad I can't say the same for NZX. It has potential but I think it will take a bit longer than The Curve before it really prosper.

TODAY for dinner, I had Big Apple Donuts.Shared the doughnuts with my sister with each of us having half a piece, starting with,
Mango Tango, which is sweet but really, I can't taste the mango at all. The doughnut itself was pretty normal, unlike the first time I sinked my teeth into Dunkin Donut which was really fresh and soft yet bouncy. That was then, now there is nothing special about Dunkin either.
Iceberg, which has very nice white sugary powder on top, which I think is glucose powder. The filling is supposed to be vanilla and again, I could not taste that.
Almond, which nickname I forgot but it has almond taste since it contain real pieces of almonds.
Pink Panther which is sweet and actually has a very strong strawberry flavour but unfortunately it also tasted very artificial.
Alien, which is basically chocolate topped and chocolate filled. Quite Ok but it would be cool if the doughnut has some small cavites on top for the filling to oozes out as we bite on it. Hey, they called it Alien after all.
Chocoholic, which is also chocolate topped and chocolate filled.
What I enjoyed the most was actually those white sugar ontop the Iceberg. Everything is so sweet they can't be healthy for you. And to think I declared to Sylviena that the next time she sees me, I would have lost my tummy. Tough.

TODAY I attempted unsuccessfully to finish a comprehensive full review of The Dark Knight which I hoped to watch again this Wednesday but even though I logged in at only 2 minutes past midnight, the tickets are all already fully booked.

TODAY, NTV7 screwed up its schedule AGAIN and I never found out if they screened The Celebrity Apprentice earlier than planned, later or not at all. This station got their schedule so messed up so often it almost seems deliberate. Sure, it was an outdated series and I already know Piers Morgan will win but what was the saying again?
"It was not the destination but the Journey."
It reminded me of how they used to screwed up the airing of Survivors back then. They have the show only a few days later than the airing in US but the show was always aired 10 minutes late. And since it is unacceptable for the midnight news to be late, the show will break for the news before resuming the final 10 minutes of the episode. Survivors didn't lost its fanbase in Malaysia because the show was getting boring (well alittle of that too) but because of the anticlimatic ways that NTV7 handled the show. I was just glad they didn't messed up last week when the annoying Omarosa was fired. If they did, I would stop watching NTV7. I probably should anyway. Well, at least after they air my episode in Deal or No Deal anyway.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

I am absolutely speechless and I meant it quite literally.

When the credit for the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight rolled out, I could only go wow, then I go wow again. I must have gone wow close to 10 times but I just don't know what to say.

The movie has everything - action, science fiction, romance, tragedy etc. Director Christopher Nolan is the William Shakespeare of our times. Never before have I had such high expectation of the movie and still have that expectation surpassed by such great margin. A definite 5-stars rating and a full review soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hancock

I actually wrote about the Beauty and the Beast Broadway Musical I just watched last week but misplaced the draft. I am too lazy to rewrite that now so I am just gonna wait and see if the draft will magically reappear.

For now, I am just gonna write a review on Hancock, currently the last movie I saw. And I realised of late, I was giving away too much of the storyline in my review. I have been an avid movie-goer for a long time and of all people, I should know what may be revealed and what may not. It wasn't always like this though as I remembered vividly how I struggle from revealing the shocking ending when I wrote the review for The Prestige.

So here goes. Will Smith is John Hancock, the world's only superhero who has chosen Los Angeles as his base of operation. Despite his role in fighting crime, he wasn't appreciated as he tended to be reckless with his power, causing maximum collateral damages everytime he made an appearance. That is until he saved the life of an image consultant who takes on trying to change his image. It wasn't a business decision. Jason Bateman's Ray Embrey is a really nice and honest guy who truly believe Hancock deserved better.

There was 2 trailers out for this movie. While the first one indicated an all out comedy, the second was more dramatic. I thought it was so funny when a new proper Hancock asked permission to touch a woman so he could save her. And deflecting a missile aimed at you with a wave of your hand is just so cool. It was this second trailer that got me to watch the movie.

The movie itself however, failed to live up to the expectation created by the trailer. Though the characters in the movie - Hancock by Smith, Ray by Bateman and Mary by Theron (well, I don't think I can not like any character played by Charlize Theron anyway) are all quite likable, the story turned out to be uninspired and predictable. And like I mentioned in The Hulk, I take my fight scene very seriously and there is noone in the movie to really give Hancock a hard time. Sure he lost some of his power near the end of the movie making him vulnerable but hey, when I see a superhero movie, I expect a superhero brawl. No matter how good a script you write, if a superhero did not have an enemy who can match him/her in physical prowess, you will not have an exciting finale. Period.

All the recent superhero movies that ever been successful had the protaganists' actual superpowered nemesises from the original comic books fighting them in the reel version. The presense of these supervillains may not necessary tranlated to success but their absense will almost certainly guarantee the film's failure.

This is not a bad movie. It just wasn't as good as I expected. And while it was fun while it last, it didn't give us much worth remembering.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sailing

It was the first time I went sailing. I am talking about really sailing here. Sailing with the power of the wind to move the boat, without a motor to runs it. Of course I was planning to blog about it. Unfortunately, Jaclyn's camera broke down and I was unable to get the pictures to go along with the story. Well, she finally got the pictures out thanks to EJ card's reader.

When Jaclyn's granduncle insisted to take her sailing, Jaclyn turned to her group of friends for companionship. Fortunately for me, she didn't forget about me. Unfortunately for her, I was the only one interested. It was a Sunday morning after all. Noone is willing to wake up early for anything on a Sunday morning.

It was the 9th of March 2008, a day after Duncan's birthday (as well as Samyvellu's) and one day after the national general election. Many people have chose to stay home that fateful day out of paranoia of possible post-election riot. Way I see it though, there is no place safer that day than in the middle of the sea.
Me at the Sailing Club in Port Klang.

This is Jaclyn. Notice how I shifted the angle a little to minimise the glare. Brilliant photography? Not really cos I should have just turn on the flash. LOL.

Unfortunately, her granduncle (GU) was away to prepare the boat so there wasn't anyone there to hold the camera for us. He also managed to contacted another of his friend to joined us.

GU was briefing us on the trip even before we arrive. At all times, we must ensure we have one hand on the boat. Each of us must remain in our position no matter what. We are not to try anythingwe have not been taught or briefed on before. Erm.. actually, I can't remember all of them now.

The mast of our boat and also my favourite photo of the day.
This shows our bearing of the direction the boat is moving.
The helm, or the big steering wheel. Learning some basics before the journey begins.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity - Am I tall or is GU short?
Aye aye Captain! All ready to set out.

We started out by engine but by the time we reached windy water, it was turned off with only the power of wind to bring the boat forward. We were really sailing. For lack of an accurate term, I was helping with setting up the sail and pulling those ropes as we change the direction of the sail. They are hard works but fortunately, I have the muscle for it. Too bad there wasn't any pictures of me in action. That would be so cool.

My camwhore moment on the boat.

Jaclyn definitely looked more at ease out in the sea than me.

Apparently, in non-competitive sailing, one person is actually enough to manage the boat. I really admired these two men to still have the strength in their age for such a hobby.

Contrary to popular belief, we weren't just letting the wind take us where it was blowing. With the right technique, we can even sail against the wind, and with decent speed too. Me.. I couldn't understand the dynamic of it all. I just let go when I was told to let go and pull when I was told to pull. GU was actually quite impressed with how well I took instruction and performed the required tasks. He was equally impressed with Jaclyn ability at the helm as most people are unable to steer a boat properly the first time. Most people which included me, who took the boat in circles when I tried. Paiseh!

Captain Jaclyn Sparrow with her crew.

Just posing. I couldn't steer a boat if my life depends on it.

It was a hot and sunny day but it didn't remained so for the rest of the day. When dark clouds began to gather, we turned the boat around to head for dock but we didn't make it before it rained.

It wasn't the perfect storm but it was still quite heavy. Despite the condition, we continued to leave Jaclyn at the helm since she was doing such a great job. We docked just as the rain was coming to a stop, then packed up the sails, rolled up the ropes and head for home.

I was developing a healthy sexy tan from beginning. At the end of the trip, my skin was blazing red, despite putting on the sunblock twice during the entire trip. But I don't care about the sunburn.
A first time at anything is always a memorable experience. The rain did nothing to dampen the spirit or memory, just make it more exciting. I didn't suddenly develop a passion for sailing but I definitely have a great time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hulk Smash!!!

There was two reasons I wanted to watch the new Hulk movie. The first was because Edward Norton is Bruce Banner and I thought that casting was sheer genius. Why didn't I thought of that?

The second was the scene in the trailer where Bruce Banner actually stepped out of a flying helicopter, with the intentionof bringing out the Hulk in him through sheer extreme agitation, since he recently just managed to suppressed the Hulk.

Damn. That was taken straight out from the Ultimate version of the Hulk. In the comic, Banner had successfully suppressed the transformation into the Hulk through medical science. But when the military needed the Hulk to fight an unstopable enemy, they didn't think twice to just push Banner off the helicopter. The panic, fear and madness felt by Banner as he plummeted to the ground from so high up in the air was enough to turned him into the Hulk again just moment before he crashed with a loud thud. Brilliant. Only from the wildly creative mind of scribe Mark Millar.


Back to the movie. It opened with a quick introduction to the origin of the Hulk. In an experiment on radiation imunity went wrong, Banner became the Hulk, destroyed the lab and injured his lab partner and love interest Betty Ross. Also in the openning sequences are flashes of documents addressed to Stark Enterprise and Nick Fury from SHIELD, each making reference to famous characters in the Marvel Universe. So when the story takes us to the present, where Banner is in hiding in Brazil while looking for a cure with the help of a mysteriuos Mr Blue, I can't help but wondered if that was Dr Reed Richards aka Mr Fantastic himself from Fantastic Four. He turned out to be a Dr Samuel Stern, whom Banner must return to meet back in the States if he is to have any chance of ever suppressing the Hulk.

But even before that trip, the military already located his whereabouts and a band of highly trained soldiers, together with mercenary Emil Bronski was dispatched to capture him alive. Of course the Hulk came out and they didn't stand a chance.

By the time the Hulk and Emil meets for round two, the British mercenary has already been enhanced by the US Super Soldier programme and was already stronger and faster though not yet bigger. It was interesting seeing a soldier pitting his cunning and agility against the pure brute of the Hulk. However, his guns could not harm the Hulk and the battle ended with him broken and almost dead.

As Banner and Betty continued their run, Emil received a second dose of the Super Soldier serum to further even the odds. Earlier before that encounter, Bruce actually did looked for Betty the moment he returned to US but when he saw that she is already seeing someone else, he left her alone. After all, if you truly love someone, you let her go. If she comes back to you, she is yours. If not, it was never meant to be. Right?

Well, it was meant to be. Even after seeing Banner transformed into the Hulk, she continued to stay with him. There was even a King Kong moment where in a scene after Hulk rescued Betty, she woke up to an apparently nervous and clumsy Hulk. The giant just soften up at the mere sight of the woman he loves.

The story doesn't ends there as Banner finally met up with Dr Stern. The cure apparently worked and just as the Hulk was banished from Banner's system, the military busted in and took Banner away. Emil, disappointed to lost to the Hulk without a rematch forced Stern to use Banner's blood sample on him, turning him into the Abomination. His anatomy is a little distorted which is quite interesting. He also became bald and because he was not wearing extra large and loose pants like Banner, he loses that as well. His pants and hairs are not the only things he lost though as a full frontal view also revealed that he no longer has what is every mens' favourite piece of muscle. Ahem..

This is the scene I was waiting for. Unsure if the Hulk was truly suppressed, Banner needed a trauma at its highest level to try draw out the monster within, so he decided to throw himself out a flying helicopter. The Hulk emerged and they both clased like only Titans can. Noone was supposed to be physically stronger than the Hulk in the Marvel universe but the producer wanted to give him a real challenge. Not only is the Abomination stronger but he was also more well trained in close quarter combat as a soldier.

As an ardent movie fan who take the fight scene very seriuosly, I find it unacceptable that this version of Hulk was able to defeat the Abomination. What I would do differently if I were the director is to have them in a more primitive fist fight with the Abomination having the upper hand due to the skill he already have but with the Hulk keep coming back for more. Despite all his skill, Emil will finds that it was not enough to overwhelm the Hulk's brute strength. The Hulk would also not be the one using weapon but the Abomination will. And plenty of collateral damage from the fight.

The anatomy of the Hulk as presented in the CG was rather impressive. Take it from me that I do know abit on this subject since I draw a lot of muscle bound men. If they could retain a little resemblance of Norton to Hulk's face, that would be even better. The texture however, does not like like skin some of the times. And they move too fast. Big creatures like them could not possibly move with that kind of agility. Just look at Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, especially the scene where he fought the 3 rexes. They are by no mean slow, but there was a certain weight in their movements that was more realistic. And that was an excellent fight scene. No need to smash cars into fists like gloves.

Other than that, I really have no other complain. The movie even managed to get abit emotional at times although I doubt anyone would actually shed a tear. There was some light humour that blended in very well like the purple pants that Betty bought for Banner. In the comic book, the Hulk is always wearing a torn purple pants. Then there is the time when Banner got his Brazilian wrong and told some rascals not to make him hungry because they won't like it when he is hungry. The movie also hinted on a possible new nemesis when we saw drops of Banner blood falling on Dr Stern's wounded forehead, causing it to swells.I didn't recognise the name but Stern must be the Leader, another archnemesis who battle the Hulk's brawn with brain. The cliffhanger near the ends however, takes the cake when we see Robert Downey Jr in a cameo as Tony Stark aka Ironman telling General Ross that they are assembling a team, obviously refering to the Avenger, which is rumoured to be an upcoming Marvel live action movie project.

I suddenly find myself wondering how an Avenger movie would be like if Peter Jackson directs it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Petrol Price Hike - Two Ways To Look At It?

With the recent price increase on petrol, I was expecting comments aplenty on this subject. I have my two-sen worth and would have told my story that night itself if I wasn't feeling so sad then. Why was I sad? When a day comes when I can finally laugh about it, perhaps then, I will write about it.

On 4th June 2008, the government suddenly announced the price hike of petrol from RM 1.92 to RM 2.70 per litre - a whopping 40 plus percent increase. This, coming not too long after an announcement by the same government that the petrol's price is only expected to rise in August.

LIARS!

As was the case everytime such an increase was brought on, the people of Malaysia rushed to the nearest petrol station to "enjoy" one last bite of the old price. It must be almost six in the evening when I pulled up into a petrol station in the Seremban R&R, and I have not heard yet. I usually fill up my tank in the morning before I head for the office but on that day, I thought maybe it will not be such a bad idea to fill up there and then, considering that it hasn't been a terribly hot day. I ended up with just buying a drink as I was very thirsty. About 5 minutes after I left the station, Roy sms-ed me informing me of the price increase effective from midnight.

I just left a station and it was not packed, so I thought he must have mistaken. After all, I have my own inside source on this matter and Duncan has not informed me about it.

I made a stop in Kajang to helped Silas and Rachel buy an ear thermometer and decided to eat there too when Wendy called me, reminding me to fill up. OK.. maybe Roy hasn't mistaken, he was a bright chap right?

I sms-ed Duncan to confirm and he informed me he knew about it an hour ago. What? And he never thought to tell me? Some friend. So much for my inside source.

As I drive out from Kajang, it took me more than 20 minutes to just turned around the bend of a shop block. It was the first time I was there at such an hour so I didn't suspect a thing, thinking it must be always like that in there.

But no.. the whole delay was caused by the many vehicles lining up to enter a petrol station just around the block. For that, I was stuck for 20 minutes over a distance of a mere 300 or so metres. Though the road I travelled to go home that night was mostly wide enough not to be affected by such jam, I can see that every station is packed with a long line of vehicles waiting to go in. I estimated that it would probably take an hour for anyone before they can fill up. I thought of how I entered an almost empty petrol station and did not fill up. On top of that, I realised that I actually received an sms from one of my bosses about the increase as early as 5.17 pm but I didn't notice it. Bummer..

Duncan called me later. He too was stuck in a jam near Uptown Damansara as everyone was trying to enter the petrol station. He cursed and asked why are Malaysian like that? I brutally and honestly replied," Because Malaysian are broke."

We all know this. We need this subsidy for no other reason than we are not making enough money. As my own job stabilised these past few months, I suspected I may be making more than quite a number of my friends, if you don't count my colleagues, that is. But that amount is probably only as much as what a waiter in New York can makes, minus the stress. And of course, I also need to pay my car installment and the cars in my country is super-expensive. The economy is in shambles and anyone who try to tell you otherwise is either his/her own boss or the government. That is why we are all broke.

Let's face it. Rich people are not going to be bothered much by such increase. You won't be seeing Donald Trump inside his car waiting to have his tank filled up. You don't expect Michael Schumacher to stop driving around his fuel-thirsty Ferrari. We lined up for hour(s) to fill up so we may saved peanuts and have our heads filled with endless doses of negativity as we wait because we are not like them. We have a job and we are just over broke.

I am not rich (yet) but I do not want that kind of negativity. I drove home straight and fill up the next day. It was 29.9 litres for RM 80.85, meaning I just lost RM 23.44 just by paying the new price. Way I figured it, if I thought my one hour is worth a mere twenty-plus riggit, I don't have the vision for greater thing in live. And a man without vision shall perishs.

How can we look at this? We can continue to complain about the rising the cost of living or we can do something about it to ensure that we are above being affected by these costs.


ps: I was wrong. Most of the famous blogs I read did not mention about the increase. Even among my blogging friends, only Peter and Silas posted something but even that was just repost of materials they read elsewhere.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Talk About Love

"If you really love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it didn't, it was never meant to be."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and Mars Attack?

A newspaper's review of the movie reminded me to forget about logic as I watch this. With most of the recent films attempting to be as real as possible, even as they tackle out of the world concept, I must admit I almost forgot about movies that try to be just fun.
An Indiana Jones movie has always been about fun and going to watch the latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I had hope to again capture the feeling and excitement I got from the earlier films.
The movie begins with the Russians forcing Indy to help them steal a mysterious item from a US military facility in Area 51. That location itself is enough to tell us the direction that this movie is heading. Indy escaped but without stopping the Russian from making away with the mysterious cargo. Then a young man appeared, asking Indy to help rescue his kidnaped mother and foster father and the real adventure begins.
As with Rocky Balboa, the film did not try to hide the fact that the main character has aged much since the last outing but age hasn't slowed Indy down much though. Except for the occasion whining about how things used to be easier, he still made some unbelievable escape. He isn't any clumsier than he used to be but if he can take on a younger Russian commander, I guess he is still pretty strong.
Unfortunately, despite all their attempt, I just don't feel like this is an Indiana Jones movie. The chase scene in the jungle is the only entertaining part of the movie but I keeps thinking Pirates of the Carribean as I watched that. Don't know why. Some peole may think the man-eating ants are a bit far-fetched but I thought it was totally cool. Hey, it's an Indiana Jones movie. I will never forget the 'monk' in Temple of Doom who can retrieve a man's beating heart right from his chest.
Well, that was about it. The rest of the movie was rather dull for this franchise. Even the famous theme music is very much toned down. And after 19 years of choosing the right script, they can't even get that right. I don't expect the script to be flawless but there is just too many missing ingredients. I am all for exaggeration but certain recipes just doesn't mixed right. You will understand what I mean after you seen the film.
It's not a bad movie, but it is a lousy Indiana Jones movie.

Re-United We Stand

The reunion on 23th went better than I expected as everyone is enthusiastic to meet up again. While I admittedly wasn't too optimistic in the beginning, I now begin to wonder if we really can make this a monthly itinenary. Though Thomas could not make it this round, we have Parama and Wei Cheong with us. Being the one who brought everyone back together for the last 2 gatherings, I was appointed the unofficial organiser. On top of that, as we are expecting an even bigger group next time, Duncan also asked me to bring my camera, making me the unofficial photographer as well.
On a personal note, it was weird that when I met up with my FedEx friends, the girls only obliged very casually for a photograph while my guy friends in 5SK were so excited about taking photos. Hmm..
Wait a minute, with my work schedule, is it possible for me to carry out my duty as a organiser? I don't know but I can't let my friends down now can I?
We will be meeting again June 20th at the Curve for dinner followed "The Incredible Hulk" movie. Yes, everyone is very tame but we are all also excited about planning a trip soon, perhaps to Bali or Pattaya.
Ah.. it's good to be among old friends again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Man in Red Iron Armor

The cool thing about a hero in armor is the special effect. Obviously, a man in armor is easier to rendered than a man in flesh. We only have to look at Ironman, currently showing in cinema and the upcoming The Incredible Hulk to make a comparison.Shiny metal armor in gold and red - Easy.
Facial expression, accurate anatomy and skin complexion - Not so easy.
In the same context, it is also easier to translates the characters into action figure, making some really cool merchandises. I would choose the Stormtroopers figures over any of the leading characters in the Starwars saga anytime. Strangely though, I don't see any Ironman toys offered with any fastfood kiddie meal combo.
Let's make another quick comparison.
The original Ironman in the comic book is Tony Stark, genius inventor of his own weapons manufacturing Stark Enterprise. Wounded while he was in Vietnam, he must dons the suit of Ironman which ironically he considered his greatest failure, to continue living. And because the suit has a device that keep his heart beating, he must never remove it.
The movie Ironman is still Tony Stark, genius inventor of his own weapons manufacturing Stark Enterprise. Wounded while in Afghanistan, he was fitted with a electromagnet in his chest by the enemies' doctor, to prevented sharpnels he received in an explosion from slowly reaching his heart and killing him. Unfortunately, this electromagnet is powered by a bulky battery very much like the one that starts our car. He too turned to his greatest failure, a energy generator that was both bulky and cost-inefficient (since that project was started only as a publicity stunts) to create a small and powerful generator to power the magnet. Hence taking his first steps to becoming Ironman.
Heck.. they have to update the character. The original Ironman used to carry his armors in a briefcase. Would you have believe that?
The villains were updated too. I didn't read the Ironman comic books but I do know that the Mandarin and Titanium Man count amongt his enemies.

In the movie, the Mandarin goes by the moniker Ten Rings. We made the connection right away because the original Mandarain wears a ring on each of his finger. It wasn't vanity. Each ring is a weapon on its own. Ten Rings is a leader of a band of terrorists in Afghanistan that kidnapped Stark in the begining of the movie. Their attempt to force Stark to build powerful weapon for them led to the creation of Ironman which Stark used to escaped from his captivity. Without those rings weapons that the original Mandarin wore, Ten Rings is unable to reach the level of threat that his comic counterpart is able to do.
Titanium Man was supposed to be the Soviet equivalent to Ironman back during the Cold War. though not as advanced as the Ironman armor, it does boosts greater firepower and being built with titanium, is tougher than Ironman. In the movie, Titanium Man's other name, the Iron Monger was used instead. Here he is an upgraded model of the first armor Stark built in Afghanistan to make his escape. Here Monger overwhelm Ironman in both sheer brute force and Firepower. Afdterall, there is only so many weapons you can fit into a suit of armor. Monger is more than that as it was not worn but controlled electronically from within, making him a freaking robot. Ironically, it was Ironman which was built with gold titanium in the movie and that edge Stark used to defeat the Iron Monger. Not just titanium here.. it's gold titanium. Cool.
Everyone may wants to be in a superhero movie now but when you got a stellar cast the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, you know there got to be something solid about the script. The film paced along very well, from the time Stark was kidnapped to his daring escape, from the creation of the clumsy first Ironman prototype to the final sleeks aerodynamic gold and red model and the personal development of Stark's character and the other supporting casts. Maybe not all of us will love Stark but we definitely respect his genius and resolute to set right what he has done wrong. A good script is one that can make the audiences feels what the movie requires them to feel toward its characters.
Personally, I always liked to have the main villain to appeared early in the film so we can see the kind of dangers he really posed. The iron Moner only appeared toward the end of the film but as a pilot movie, sometimes it is more vital to develop the hero first, as was done in "Batman Begins". As suggested from the trailer to its sequel titled "The Dark Knight", we will see Batman's archnemesis appearing fairly early and wreaking much havocs. I expect the same for Ironman but with two of his greatest enemies already out of the picture, who else can he fights?
Well.. I guess there is always the Hulk.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Meeting or Two, of Old Friends

It was almost serendipitous. I was out for a yam cha session when I noticed a man literally staring with sinister smile on his face. I was not too pleased with the way he looked at me until I realised he was my friend and former classmate from secondary year. After I recognised him as Thomas, his smile doesn't seems so sinister after all.
I called Duncan and tell him about it and we decided to meet up. Then I called Voon Fatt and surprise surprise. He also just found Ben Mah. Ben's wife is Voon Fatt's client and he was just verifying some information when he realise who her husband is. The reunion seems inevitable now. We attempted to get a few more to join us but the notice was admittedly short. Parama was so enthusiastic he forgotten he got an important date that night. Jason was tied up with works, Azrul was in Sarawak and Kam Fatt, I really got to apologise to as I forgot to tell him till the day itself. Needless to say, he can't make it.From left: Ben Mah, me, Voon Fatt, Thomas with Duncan sitting down.
Soo Wei Kang (standing in middle) from 5SM also joined us despite not knowing us so well. We had a simple dinner in Restoran Peranakan in 1U. It was a good catch up session with another planned for 23th May probably at Wendy's in Sunway Pyramid. Ben Mah and Thomas are married, Voon Fatt probably will in the near future. Only Duncan and I are still single. Sigh.
Looking at some of my younger friends now, I do get a bit envious. Keeping in touch is not a problem nowaday with their mobile phone and various internet networking site like Friendster and Facebook. We have none of that during our days. I don't even know how to use a computer then. Was I talking about computer? Heck, my family don't even have a telephone. I remembered going to the payphone to call them up but most of them were too excited about their new college (something my family was too poor to afford for me) lives to really meet up. In the end, I gradually lost all their numbers. Still, we are beginning to find each others and hopefully, we will not lose contact this time around.

Today I went for another reunion. This time with friends I made when I worked with FedEx. Everyone there loves Sow Hon so he was the key person that must be there. Unfortunately, a few were going back to their hometown this weekend, leaving only(from left) Jason, Sow Hon, Sharon, Carrie and me with a light dinner in Pizza Hut. The outing was shorter than I expected as everyone has plans further into the evening. That was unexpected as I made an impromptu visit to Wan Nee and Woan Koon barely a week ago and we talked for 3 hours or so. And we didn't even have dinner. Then again, that included a tour around the newly expanded and renovated office of my former company. Now that place really looks like a first-class multinational company. Still, I was invited to a paintball outing coming June but I think that date just might clash with the Beauty and the Beast musical I am planning to catch. Oops, I haven't even pay Jaclyn for that ticket.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sex Kills

I walked into the bathroom earlier to find three cockroaches on the wall. Two of them are being naughty. Is this cockroaches sex?
I took out my camera and quickly took a picture. Didn't bother to get a good shot as I didn't want to started them. I wasn't being polite. I just wanted to make sure they are still there when I wrapped up a roll of newspaper and smack them.
Talk about lust being one of the seven deadly sins. I only hit one cockroach of that couple but as the other tried to crawl away, it couldn't, being stuck to the dead one. If it wasn't mating when I found it, it would still be alive now, being able to scurry away before I make a second smack, then a third. I never did figure out which is the male.
I didn't just killed 3 cockroaches today. I killed a whole future generation. Damn, I hate those things.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I am TVman

I have yet wrote the full review on Ironman but I have a far more interesting experience to share than watching a film.
On Saturday 3/5/08, about a quarter to noon, I arrived at the NTV7 studio to shoot the preliminary round for Deal or No Deal. Yes.. I have been selected as a contestant and making pass this round will bring me the chance to bring home the grand prize of RM 100,000.
Naturally, I planned to blog about this but I can't believe I didn't bring my camera. Of course there are also certain rules to abide by since I did signed a confidentiality agreement. So I can't reveal anything on the date or how the shooting was carried out, or who won which preliminary round, or even if I did. Okay.. I will leak out one thing.
The questions got a little tougher.
So what is there left to write about?
I saw the host Non during the roadshow before but this is the first time I met him face to face. He was actually a very nice and down to earth man. And though I thought he appeared pretty serious onscreen, he can be very laid back offscreen. The crews absolutely love him and they are a happy bunch who laugh all the times even as they work. It's so goood to be loving your work. One of their faurite joke on Non seems to be on his oily face as they took every available ability to have him check his complexion on the camera, so they can see if he need touch up on his make up. And they will go "Quick, let's start shooting before the oils come out".
Hilarious.
Non was very friendly with absolutely no air, spending most of the times between takes chatting with us. Nice guys.
I also almost made many new friends. I said almost because I was talking and laughing with many of them but unfortunately, when the shooting ended, everyone disappeared so quickly I didn't have a chance to get their numbers. Only Angie and Stephanie were still around taking photos with Non. I took a couple too and gave my email to Angie. Hope she remembers to email them to me.
I was in group 7 (how auspicious) together with Sam, Alan, Nicholas, Sue and Su Ling. It's too bad I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with them, especially Allan who is a business owner. Maybe a business opportunity there somewhere. Oh well.
Oh, I also had make-up on my face for the firat time in my lives. When I had my lunch, I have to be extra careful. I wasn't afraid to smear the lipstick butI just don't want to eat them. And I hadn't a clue how to wipe my mouth after my food. It's not easy being a woman. And I haven't even try the torture of wearing a high heel yet.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ironman

I just got home from Cineleisure from the premiere screening of Ironman in Malaysia.
Initial comment is; yeah, it's pretty good. Interesting characters, good script, great design and special effect plus they managed to stay true to the original Ironman, albeit very much updated. The movie works, better than expected and I heard Tony Stark will also be making an cameo appearance in the upcoming Incredible Hulk movie. Everything goes as planned then we may even see Ironman vs Hulk in the future. Hmm..
Well, will write a full review soon. Gotta sleep now.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blossoms in Bahau

I was talking a photo of a mountain..when suddenly, a dragon appeared.OK.. so it wasn't really a dragon.Bahau was actually my first "photo expedition" with my new camera. It was a great place for avid photographer, amateur enthusiast included, as it has a park with a pond full of lotuses.Ok.. I actually cheated with this piece. My camera doesn't have that kind of zoom but it is 8 megapixel, so I conveniently just cropped the original piece.
I started the day early, before the fog even settle. I took many photos of the lotus flowers there and these are a selected few.
I took this the evening earlier, when the light was low. Coincidentally, I took another at the same spot the next morning when the bud blossomed.
This is my favourite piece. And here are some others..





I was not the only one there. Another photographer, in full gear was also taking photos of the flowers.
One look at his gear and it was obvious that I got the sleeker machine between the two of us :-)
Then I moved on to other subjects.Some kind of water plant.
Close-up and more close-ups.






Like I said, sign of an amateur enthusiast- getting up close and personal on anything and everything. Now I really regret not getting a camera with better macro quality.