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


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 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.