Friday, August 3

Net Momma

Even though my Mom can't be considered web savvy by any degree, it's pretty cool that I don't have to walk her every step of the way when she uses my old laptop for emailing. In fact, I am pleasantly surprised that Mom has lately started surfing, looking for her interests on the boundless expanse that is the World Wide Web. It feels good that our internet connection is really being appreciated now; it certainly is one of the best investments/acquisitions I've gotten, even more than my PS3 or the widescreen HDTV or that silencer for the Vanishing Ray.

Now, if only I could get Mom interested in Counterstrike, we'd really start using the connection to the fullest...

Thursday, August 2

Box Office D'OH


I made it a point to march into a theater in Megamall last night to catch The Simpsons Movie. I have to say, even with the apparently massive Simpsons fan base in Metro Manila, it's been so long since the series has been at it's prime to expect crowds of people to mob theaters to watch Homer and family on the big screen. As it was, I entered a nearly-empty cinema (granted, it was LFS in the middle of the week), and there was only one screen showing off the movie at Mega.

Anyways, how was it? To try and describe the plot is pretty useless- like any Simpsons episode, you have no idea where the plot is headed from the start or even the whole of the first act. It's all about life in Springfield, numerous sight gags and fast jokes that come at you rapid-fire, until the inevitable Homer Blunder that sets the important events into motion. All I can say is, Homer does something utterly HOMER (read: Stupid) and ruins life as everyone knows it in town. Angry mobs gather. Lives are lost. The Simpsons have to take flight. But somehow, someway, the first family will end up all the better for it.

There are of course lots of funny moments that got me laughing out loud (my favorite of the night was a single line from geeky little Ralph). Many more jokes though were hit-and-miss; you know it's funny, just not enough to elicit a laugh. But you appreciate the effort anyway. I wish I could have watched this in a full theater though- that would have been a blast. In fact, I'd want to watch this movie in a place with as many people as possible- just watching this alone on DVD is just kinda... blah. Or D'oh, as the case may be.

In the end, The Simpsons Movie seems in some ways just a flashier, longer TV episode, though they DO do things here you would never see on TV, and 2-D animation does indeed look pretty slick on the big screen. For fans of the series, this is a must and perhaps it will rekindle the love for the family that time may have slightly eroded. For everyone (if there is anyone) else who don't get the Simpsons, take a watch of this film and see what you've been missing.

The Simpsons Movie is now showing in theaters all around the Metro. Don't have a cow, man. Get a ticket!

Monday, July 30

My Current Phone Wallpaper...

The artwork is from the cover of an All-Avatar Nickelodeon magazine coming this September/October. I'm hoping it comes out here too, but then, by that time Book of Fire may be already showing, so whatever. Darn it... September 21 is so frickin' far away. Patience... patience. All things come to him who waits. Meh.

Last week, we shot a promo commercial featuring a gaggle of beautiful young ladies. TV shoots are a bit hard for me; they usually consist of me having to get up extra-early in the morning since the grind usually begins as early as possible in the day. Still, getting fetched and driven from your door right to the shooting venue and back home afterwards is pretty nice. Also, we usually are served like kings (well, maybe more like lesser nobles) while on the shoot, with food and drinks aplenty readied just for you. Our particular production house for this shoot, Unitel, is known for their yummy food catering, and this time the goodies I will really remember are the unique preparations of leche flan and Braso de Mercedes (served swimming in syrup with fruits) and a particularly nice dinner with Chicken Pastel and LOVELY mashed potatoes on the last shooting day.

It's desserts like these that make it all worth it...

But of course, it was still work and we basically sat there the whole day pouring over this or that take and shot, being consulted for this and that and so on. After two days, it was nice to end the job at the start of the weekend. This week, we get to see the editing and finishings before the ad goes on the air in a week or so. On to the next ad, then!
Led Astray

Vikings versus Indians. Cool, right? Wrong...

Okay, today wasn't a very good day for movies. Me and my bud Pot had intended to watch The Simpsons Movie at Greenhills, but we ended up giving up when we were faced with the prospect of a 2-hour wait to the next showing. So we just passed the time looking around Shoppesville and V-Mall for stuff and then going on home to crash at The Sanctum. For some reason, we ended up popping in Pathfinder into the DVD player. Pathfinder is a pretty recent movie, but I remember it just came and went in theaters locally. The poster looked cool, but the trailer was a mess of gory stuff that I just didn't find enticing. Well anyway...

Pathfinder is set hundreds of years before Columbus discovered America, and is all about the Viking expeditions that apparently made their way into Indian territory. The film opens with a young Viking boy and apparent survivor of one such expedition being found by an Indian woman. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed youth is taken in by the Indians despite being a child of the 'Dragon Men' (the Indians' name for the Vikings) since Indians are like that. The kid soon grows up into a young man named 'Ghost'(Karl Urban of LOTR fame and Doom Infamy). He's of course an outcast to some of the Indians, but liked by many of the ladies, particularly one lovely lady named Starfire, the daughter of the local Pathfinder, or shaman. Ghost however is continually reminded that he is not of the Indians' blood, and his path lies somewhere else.

To crash the tranquil life of the natives, the Vikings return. Now, these aren't nice cartoony Vikings like Hagar the Horrible. They're not honorable warriors like the guys who accompanied Antonio Banderas in 13th Warrior. Nope... these guys are more like the URUK-HAI. I mean, these guys look, sound and act like they walked straight out of flamin' MORDOR. These are nightmarish, horrific, faceless, horned and armored monsters who kill for sport and nothing more. Of course, what do these baddies do? They start hacking Ghost's Indian people into bloody chunks, and aim to do the same to everyone else on the continent, apparently. Of course, the Indians don't stand a chance... good thing they got an Indian-raised Viking Warrior on their side.

Okay, at this point, all sense seems to fly out the window as Karl Urban suddenly becomes a master of the Viking Sword despite the fact that he has received no training at all from anyone in the use of the metal weapons. At the start, the Vikings kill everyone in their path with no resistance whatsoever, and seem invincible. Then Ghost shows up, and he starts killing them in droves. Heck, as long as Ghost is there, even the Indian girl Starfire gets to scratch off Vikings herself. But it really doesn't matter since, despite arriving in apparently just three longships, there seems to literally be no end to the enemy numbers. For every seven killed, another horde shows up. What the heck? Is there a Viking re-spawn point somewhere I missed? No matter how many Ghost kills, it eventually takes both a frozen lake and an avalanche to finally kill off these Terminator-like invaders.

No matter that Indians are supposed to be fierce warriors in their own right, learned in the ways of the land and their environment. Here, they're either cowardly sissies or idiots who walk into their own traps, can't defend themselves for shit, and can't outrun heavily-armored Vikings who are totally alien to the vast land.

HECK, in one crazy stretch as Ghost and his friends are being hunted by the Vikings in a dark cavern, time and again a Viking sneaks up on them DESPITE being in full armor. Apparently the Vikings are also half-Japanese, able to move silently like frickin' NINJA until they are within inches of their prey, at which point they just habitually give themselves away with a loud "HA!!!"

The action drags for far too long; Ghost kills Vikings ala Die Hard. Ghost kills Vikings ala Rambo. There's even a bit borrowed from King Arthur (another crapper). But in the end, the Indians still get their arses kicked so many times it begins to feel masochistic and repetitive. When the final Endgame kicks in and Ghost tricks the Vikings into a lethal trap on an icy mountain, the film STILL can't get the hint and finish stuff cleanly, needing to drag out things unnecessarily. I mean, I half-expected the Vikings to rise out of the climactic avalanche and still kill a hundred Indians or so before finally keeling over.

Oh, and did I mention the acting sucks? The indians are as wooden as their useless weapons, and there are derivative lines of dialogue like "You speak in riddles, old man," and "Fight and you die. Leave, and you may live," all over the place.

Poor Karl Urban yet again gets himself into another crappy action film. I mean, I like the guy. He has a good look, but this kind of junk doesn't do his career any good. I blame the director and the writer for this particular film. Unlike good action heroes of old, Urban isn't allowed to look strong enough. He is never cool or bad-ass enough in this film, as he should for a revenge-payback theme like this one. In any case, the bad acting, horrible dragged-out pace and overly gory Pathfinder is something he should never have wandered into.

Karl Urban vainly tries to escape the horror of his latest bad movie.

This film should appeal for gore buffs, since the bloody action is pretty brutal- in fact, the imagery and cinematography is perhaps the only good thing about the film, capturing the look and feel of Frank Frazetta's barbarian artworks. Oh, and there's Clancy Brown as the evil Viking leader, who is actually pretty cool. Aside from that... this is a movie neither modern day- Norse or Indian descendants would be proud of, since it slams both their cultures with the subtlety of a fist to the nose. I'd tell Pathfinder to get lost.

Sunday, July 29

Avatar Season 3 Trailer

The Avatar Panel at the San Diego Comic Con has come and gone, and here is the result... a 2-minute or so long trailer showing scenes from Book of Fire. The quality of the vid isn't too hot- there are lots of defocused parts, and it's dark- but Avatar fans will be watching this until September, mark my words. Anyways, the scenes shown are pretty awesome and had me going "WHOA!" continuously.

Where do I start? Well, the trailer (at about 2 minutes) shows scenes of a recovered Aang and friends taking the fight back to Azula. Zuko is his usual emo self, still not happy even though he seems to be welcomed back into the Fire Nation. There's a scene between him and a disheveled, ratty-haired Iroh where he says that he has only himself to blame for what has befallen him. OUCH.
There's even more action, showing Katara looking pretty awesome and heroic with her mastery of waterbending. Toph looks taller, buffer and dressed in a new costume in one segment. But it's Sokka who has the most changes, apparently training in the use of a sword and wielding the more mature weapon instead of his trademark club and boomerang. FINALLY, he may get to be bad-ass in Season 3. And of course, we see Aang, sometimes with hair, sometimes without, in a new costume, in various settings to a scene where he seems to be looking over the Fire Nation's capital.

New stuff includes scenes with a young Avatar Roku (apparently), some mysterious new faces who may or may not be enemies, and lots of epic scenery like a force of Earth Kingdom Tanks (lead by Teo the Machinist Boy), Fire Nation war balloons and what appears to be Appa in Battle Armor.

Aside from the trailer, there are tons of screens and shots of artworks and designs over at Avatar Spirit.Net showing the Gaang in Fire Nation disguises, designs of Fire Nation citizenry and warriors, and lots of gorgeous art depicting the tropical paradise which is the Mysterious Fire Nation.

Some Cool Snippets of Information...

Avatar as we know it, the Story of Avatar Aang and his friends and enemies, ends with Book 3. However, it has been confirmed that Nickelodeon has renewed Avatar for three more seasons. The creators have hinted that the series will continue on with new characters and new stories set either in the past or future of the Avatar world.

There will be an episode entitled "The Beach" which has the Ozai Angels (Azula, Mai and Ty Lee) showing off more skin than ever before in sexy swimsuits. This is about as close to anime-style fan service as we can get with a US cartoon, I guess. The bad news? The old crones Li and Lo will alse be baring all... AAARRRHHHH...

M. Night Shaymalan was at the SDCC, talking about the future live-action Avatar movies he is developing. A special feature on the films will be included as an extra in the Avatar 2nd Season DVD Box Set.

Man, that's a lot of stuff. I'm still looking forward to seeing a clearer version of the trailer and more vids from the Avatar SDCC Panel. It's going to be a long wait to September, but darn... all this good info and imagery should make the wait a wee bit more bearable.

Yeah, right.