Saturday, January 28


Selene returns to kick Lara Croft's butt.

The first Underwold film was a slick piece of work- while it was often mentioned as a Matrix-wannabee, it did have a cool concept (Vampires fighting Werewolves), nice production values and visuals and the singular genius of having the radiantly gorgeous Kate Beckinsale as the leather-clad vampire warrior, Selene. Apparently, while the first UW was a modest success in theaters, it was a relatively low budget film that suddenly had a big pay-off in DVD sales. As a result, the title gets a new lease on life and a chance for bigger things with the sequel, Underworld: Evolution (which has since gone on to become the number one film at the US box office).

Evolution kicks off right after the events of the first film. In fact, it mops up the loose ends from before quite bloodily quick. But before we actually get into the current affairs, Evo opens up with a flashback to the 12th century. There, we see a small army of vampires in Lord of the Rings-like armor (a bit like vampire elves, actually- which is quite cool) taking on a village infected by the Lycan breed. We learn of the origing of the two warring races, and in particular the fates of the two brothers who started it all- the prime vampire Marcus, and the head werewolf, WIlliam.

The action then shoots back to the present, as Selene and her half-lycan/half vampire lover Michael (Scott Speedman) are on the run. Their opposition, however, quickly changes from ordinary gun-slinging vampire goons to the now-awakened, mutated Vampire Elder, Marcus (Tony Curran), who has his own evil agenda. In order to survive AND stop the world from being consumed by mad vampire/lycan mutants, Selene and Scott will have to ally with a mysterious third party and risk it all for the sake of the future. They must evolve... or die.

This is a pretty slick and well done action film, though I have to say that you need to watch the first film to really make heads or tails of it all. The names and events just fly at you as fast as the flash edits.

Still, the action is quite easy to understand, and the bad guys are pretty easy to see. The production values are more ambitious this time around (more and bigger werewolves with niftier transformations), thanks to a bigger budget, and the film retains the blood and blue look of the first. Performance-wise, Miss Beckinsale's Selene is an awesome action heroine (she could give Angelina Jolie a run for her money)... did I say she was darn gorgeous? I'll say it again. Selene is HOT. Oh, and girls get Michael- Scott Speedman's reluctant superwolf/vamp is pretty kick ass. The two make a great, perfect couple and a subtle cheer for mixed race relations.

All in all, Underworld: Evolution is a worthy sequel/climax to the original film, ending with a pretty optimistic view. The next film in this series, if director Len Wiseman has his way, will supposedly be a prequel showing more of the history of the ancient vampire/lycan war.

While there are some rough spots, I certainly liked Underworld Evolution enough to try and find the first film again and watch it, and have this sequel on DVD when I can. An exceptionally cool franchise which gets a shot in the arm with this hot sequel. Again, I recommend watching the first film before heading to the theaters to catch this bloody good action flick.

Friday, January 27

Fear Factor

It's great to be a scare-fan lately, with lots of cool, creepy shows on offer. Which is great since I haven't watched Nginiig! in months ever since they started doing more and more celebrity 'possession' shows than actual ghost or mystery features.

Ghost Chasers is a pretty cool show, featuring the exploits of a duo of plumbers who moonlight as paranormal investigators. Together with a seemingly ever-changing support crew, TAPS (The Atlanta Paranormal Society) sets off all over the country visiting and investigating haunted sites. The cool thing about Ghost Chasers is that they often DO seem to catch evidence- be it the odd light 'orb' or even actual footage of moving objects or unexplainable apparitions. Which is a WORLD away from local shows that show nothing but bad acting. Anyway, the show's already on it's 3rd season in the US (the 2nd season is showing locally on Star World) and seems to be going strong. If anyone knows if the DVD of the first season is available locally, please tell me.

A Haunting is a new show on The Discovery Channel which takes a detailed look into some really creepy, real-life supernatural encounters. The show takes great pains to recreate the accounts of the actual people involved and revs up the precedings with flash edits, scary sound effects, suspenseful music and basic special effects... all in all resulting in a pretty scary show that should satisfy your scare-cravings.

Ghost Chasers is shown on Saturdays (9PM, 12:30AM Sunday) on Star World, While A Haunting is shown every Wednesdays (10PM) and Saturdays on Discovery Channel. And be prepared for a chilling good time.

As anyone in The Gang would attest, I'm not into singing... and certainly, I've never really been into the show American Idol. However, for some reason every time I catch the show on TV these days, I am inexorably engrossed in watching it. Seeing all these nobodies and wannabees get grilled, speared, shish-kabobed and sauteed by judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson is just so... entertaining. It's like gladiatorial games, yet without the action but triple the cries of anguish and despair, with the requisite 'Aye' or 'Nay' from the Emperor. Or Imperial Council, as the case may be. I don't know if I'll still be as engrossed when the actual competition starts, but we'll see. For now though, it's good watching.

Wednesday, January 25

Buyer Beware

Have you heard about the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan film, The Lady in the Water? It's billed as a 'bedtime story' that Mr. Sixth Sense tells to his daughters, and stars actor Paul Giamatti as the main hero Cleveland Heep (a building super who finds the titular lady) and Bryce Dallas Howard (from M. Night's last film, The Village) as Story, a 'Narf' or aquatic creature whom Cleveland must somehow help get back home. It sounds weird and wonderful on paper, and I'm pretty curious to see how this film turns out.
Imagine my surprise to find a DVD titled Lady in the Water on the DVD stalls a few days ago. WOW! Maybe it was an ultra-ultra-ultra advance copy, with no effects and shit. WHOA! So I scooped it up. No matter that I wasn't able to preview the thing. I had found a gem.

Later at home, I popped it into my mutant dvd player and the movie started. It wasn't Lady in the Water. It was She Creature, this b-movie mermaid/horror film from a couple of years back.

Sigh. Well, you get lemons as often as gems with the bootleg biz. Had me a bit of a laugh and this blog entry, so it's not a total loss. Heheh. Gah.

Tuesday, January 24

Weird Dreams

Lately I've been having really strange dreams. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I often come home pretty pooped and just aching to get some shut-eye. Now, I've had odd dreams countless times before. It's just that these days I seem to remember them a lot more even after waking up. Perhaps they're visions. Then again, perhaps not. But I guess it might make some interesting reading for me to jot them down when I can.

Here are some of the recent ones.

One dream had me flying a dragon with Harry Potter (yeah, Daniel Radcliffe in character) trying to get it back home. Unfortunately, it was a particularly slow species of dragon, so we eventually had to go and take a train since flying it home would take several months. Unfortunately, I didn't meet Hermione anywhere in the dream.

Another dream had me in a Star Wars-esque setting, among a troop of captured rebels or perhaps conscripted workers drafted to serve the Empire. We stood in formation as we watched Imperial Stormtroopers file out of a ship and past us in a long line. The weird thing here is that the troopers were BURNING. Yep, burning stormtroopers, or firetroopers (the flames looked pretty nifty, and they didn't seem to be bothered). After these burning soldiers passed, they were followed by ICE troopers, all frosty and foggy.
To compound the weirdness, after the military parade my troop was sent to have our meal. We waited in line as an officer approached each of us, serving some sort of gruel. The rest of my group each had a meal tray... however I inexplicably had only a newspaper. EH?
Realizing this, I worriedly stared and waited with dread as the Imperial officer serving the food came to me. He stopped and there was silence as I thrust out the periodical. Luckily, before anything else happened I was woken up by our maid- It was lunchtime.


I think there are profound messages in these dreams. Messages that may mean the difference between my success or failure in my endeavors.

Or not. What the heck. They're pretty funny in any case.

Monday, January 23

Doing a 360, Part Two

So far, my new XBox 360 has been working fine. No sign of any bugs or defects, or signs that the rumors of overheating and other crap are happening to my unit. It works fine, especially the cool wireless controller. Yesterday, in anticipation of my running out the included batteries, I got the XBox360 Charge and Play Kit which consists of a rechargeable battery pack, and a USB charger cable (you plug it into your PC or the Xbox to charge it up).

My only game so far is Dead or Alive 4, which was my first and only choice for an initial game (it came free with my unit). The game looks incredible, though at first glance it looks very similar to the previous XBox entry, DOA Ultimate. However, as you see more of the game you will notice the increased level of detail and realism in the graphics, the new animations and tons of little nuances which make it a whole new game and pretty much the most playable and technical game in the franchise.

In terms of Story and cinematics, DOA4 impresses with a collection of probably the best CG endings so far seen in a videogame fighter. These somewhat lengthy movies range from the bizarre and funny (ever think you'd see Kasumi the Ninja Heroine as a mermaid? Or how Hitomi spends her mornings? It's here...) to the silly (Leifang overreacts anime style, Zack in a slapstick quest ala Harryhausen/Indy Jones) and the plain weird (Brad Wong goes tripping). Several though are epic, and center mainly on the ninja characters' quest to destroy the evil DOATEC corporation once and for all (which result in some righteous ninja butt-kicking). If you finish all the initial characters' Story Modes, you will unlock DOA4's ULTIMATE Ending movie, which belongs to the character of Helena, the opera singer turned new CEO of DOATEC. Her movie reveals a lot, begs the asking of some questions and finally brings this chapter of Dead or Alive to an end. My advice... don't turn off the movie until the credits end.

In terms of gameplay, DOA4 is a whole new ball game given that several key mechanics have been refined and made more robust. Counters are now harder to do and cause less damage, giving fights a bit longer life span (which is good) and minimizing the winning of bouts due to random countering and luck. Fighting against the CPU is now more challenging given the fiercer A.I., who WILL counter you if you just rail out the same attacks again and again. There is no Easy Mode, so right off the bat you'll be in a fight.
Oh, and at the end of the Story Mode for most characters (and at the end of Time Attack) is Alpha 152, a glowing, transparent, crystalline or metallic female Kasumi clone (think Dural from Virtua Fighter but with hair) who is the new Boss of DOA. Forget Raidou. Forget Tengu. Forget Genra. Alpha 152 will kick your butt and then some with teleportation, super-long combos and some scary throws that can take out half your life bar in a flash. Sparring mode will do you good.

My main gripe with DOA4 is an aesthetic one... I hate the choices Team Ninja made for the unlockable costumes. In fact, I believe they got a bit lazy or rushed things. Many of the characters sport palette-swap outfits (the same outfits but with different colors) and a lot are shortchanged again on the size of their wardrobes. Where are the bikinis? The cool choices fans were given in DOAU are sadly lacking in DOA4.
That aside, DOA4 plays great, looks beautiful and is easily the best of the lot in terms of gameplay. Now, if only Team Ninja gets to working on additional costumes for download, it'll be perfect. As it is though, you can't get any better than DOA4 when it comes to fighting games on the Xbox360 (there's no other fighter anyway), though as it is DOA4 fails to top my current fave game, Soul Calibur III for the PS2. Still, it's one of the best reasons to get an Xbox360. Though Rumble Roses XX is coming late March. Hoho.

Sunday, January 22

Yes, the Filipino Can!

Congratulations to The Pacq-man, Manny Pacquiao, for winning his long-awaited bout with Mexican pugilist Eric Morales. This day Manny was truly powered by the faith of his people as seemingly every Pinoy was watching the match. Late in the day, me and my friend Pot went to the malls in Greenhills and we found the usually-filled up parking buildings virtually EMPTY. It seems that most of the population was glued to TV sets watching their champion do battle.

Congrats, Manny. You earned it.