Saturday, December 7

Retro-Gaming Picks

Games like DOA make my old PS worth keeping around.

Yesterday, me and Jason walked around Megamall looking for some old PS1 games. Apparently, he got himself a PSOne so now he's looking for stuff to play. Since he heard so much hooplah about Final Fantasy VII, we went looking for a copy. We went up and found mostly old or crap games. We thought about getting him some of the Final Fantasy anthologies, but they looked... too primitive. Actually, the funny thing is that we found it kinda embarrassing to walk into a gaming store crowded with kids and then ask for a game that's about six years old. We would probably have gotten the same reaction you'd get if you ordered milk in a western saloon. Stunned silence. Heh.
Anyway, I tried to recommend some cool games. Even in these days of CG quality Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube games, there are tons of PSOne games worth keeping. For RPGs, you simply can't beat the wealth of Final Fantasies (VII is the best, progressively getting slightly not as good with the succeeding games, VIII and IX). There are Resident Evils and Silent Hill for creep-out games. Action gamers have the original Tomb Raider I and II, and tons more. Medal of Honor gives you one of the best FPS experiences you can get on a console. Of course, in terms of fighting there's the original Tekken and Dead or Alive and tons more. I'd never throw away my beloved PS. Even after more than seven years, there's still great fun in the 32-bit wonder. Sometimes I think of getting a cute little PSOne to replace my old gray box. Who knows... maybe someday.
Portable Rain

I was walking around in Glorietta a few days ago and I came upon a row of stalls and kiosks selling native products and items. Amid the various ethnic trinkets and doo-hickies which I cared nothing for, I saw a Rain Tube, which is really cool. It's a big bamboo tube which has been decorated with enthic flavor and filled with... stuff. I don't know what is inside; it could be anything from beads to thumbtacks to little bugs. Anyway, the effect is that if you turn the tube over the stuff inside shifts, making a sound which is supposed to replicate the sound of rainfall. It's actually quite nice and soothing, and I would have bought it right there and then. Now thinking back, I may buy one for myself and another for a gift. I just hope it's still there when I pass by Glorietta the next time.
I want to be a Forensics Expert.

And I can be... by playing the PC game version of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations. This game, based on the popular detective/drama series by director Jerry Bruckheimer, will be coming out in March 2003. First it was a comic (which is still upcoming), now a game. Who'd ever thought that poking at dead bodies could be so absorbing? Ooh. Engrossing, or just gross? Heh. Anyway, it's still a ways off, but I may have a bit of ghoulish pleasure in a similarly themed-PC game I just got recently: Post Mortem, which puts you in the shoes of a detective out to solve a ritualistic murder case. Lots of creepy fun to be had on PC. On consoles, I can recommend games like Fatal Frame on PS2 or Xbox, and Silent Hill 2 for more creeps and freaks rather than gore and guns as in Resident Evil.

Friday, December 6

Salvaging a Holiday

Today is a holiday here in Manila, but I had to get up and work. On the bright side, I was able to get adequate sleep. Furthermore, instead of staying cooped up in the office, the creatives met up at the posh Rockwell Power Plant mall. We spent some time at the Press Cafe at the Bookstore formerly known as Page One. While the other guys worked on their stuff, I spent the time thinking up storylines for TV commercials as I munched on a Cheesesteak Sandwich and bottomless Iced Tea. All in all, it really wasn't that bad. Working outside the office, in a nice, relaxed and uninhibited setting makes for relaxed and uninhibited thinking. I got the storylines approved and I was free for the rest of the day!
Anyway, I decided to walk around Power Plant. Not Page One is pretty cool and I love the rack of comics and graphic novels (thought about buying Will Eisner's Graphic Storytelling book but eventually decided against it... for now). However, the rest of the mall is strangely barren for me. Lots of clothing and "grown-up" stores that I really have no use for. I don't know if there is a single electronics or gaming shop in Power Plant, but if there is I couldn't find it. BAH. Give me Megamall or Greenhills anyday.
Well, I will probably walk around to kill time before tonight's dinner and meet with Mike, Dean, Nikki, Jason and the rest. Looking forward to a nice night's discussion and laughs. Maybe I should catch The Ringu (The Ring Japanese version) at Mega? We'll see. Ah. My weekend looks safe once more. Hope, hope.

Thursday, December 5

Insert Shameless Plug Here! (Yay, Carl!)


After his first comic book, the gay-themed One Night In Purgatory, garnered acclaim by landing a finalist slot in the recent Manila Critics' Circle National Book Awards and being mentioned in the Sanghaya Yearbook of the National Commission for Culture and Arts as the best comic book of 2001, Carlo Vergara is set to release his second book, Ang Kagila-gilalas Na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah.

Zsazsa Zaturnnah tells about Ada, a gay man, who receives a mysterious stone that grants him the power to transform into a woman. As Zaturnnah, Ada defends his hometown from extra-terrestrial amazons. Joining him in this light comedy adventure are his sidekick Didi and his secret crush Dodong. Written in Filipino, Zsazsa Zaturnnah is for mature readers due to suggestive content and strong language.

The 65-page first part will be available in mid-December at all ComicQuest branches (SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, Festival Mall Alabang) for only Php120. The second part will hit the shelves in late-February.

For an 'Ispeysyal Preview' of Zsazsa Zaturnnah, click here.
Bikini Karate Babes

Okay, everybody here probably knows that I love the Dead or Alive fighting game series. Granted, this Tecmo-made game features solid gameplay, lots of martial arts action and simply the best graphics of the time whenever a new installment appears... but what keeps it close to me are the babes. Forget Chun-Li. Forget Cammy. Forget Lara Croft. If you want sexy game babes, the DOA series has them. Not that other games don't... but DOA simply has better girls in terms of graphics, animation and... personality. Well, whatever. Anyway, one of the cool extras in the original DOA for Playstation was the ability to unlock lots of hidden costumes, including sexy swimsuits for the girls. Opening up these new duds was really neat, and there are few things more appealing that a butt kicking girl in a bikini.

Well, apparently some enterprising programmers in the US thought that up too. So, they rounded up a bunch of attractive women who both looked great in a two-piece and could at least act like they know karate. Some photoshoots and programming later and... Voila! You've got the outrageously crass but intriguing game known as Bikini Karate Babes. This PC-only game (though there are rumors of a possible Xbox port) has been turning heads since the game's website was put up, clocking over a million hits in a few weeks. Reviews of the game aren't as pretty as the girls in the game though, citing poor controls and basically trashing the game as soft-core porn (there seems to at least some topless nudity, but no explicit images or sexual acts aside from some fondling; the violence is cartoonish).
Anyway, I've seen stills and movies of the game, and it's in the style of Mortal Kombat- digitized fighters against pretty basic backgrounds. The animation is exceptionally smooth and the visuals are vivid, but I question the amount of gameplay it could have; 2-D fighters are simply past their prime, I think. Still, this is really more novelty than serious fighting game. I'd love to get my hands on a copy, but so far it's still US-only. Maybe I should wait for the rumored Xbox version? Heh. Videogames. They are a-changing.
Galactic villain. Made in the Philippines.

Does anyone here catch the sci-fi series, Earth: Final Conflict on AXN? It's all about an earth caught in a struggle for survival against various alien races. In the five seasons the series has had, many characters have come and gone... but one player in particular has remained constant. The villainous FBI Agent Ronald Sandoval has been scheming his way through every season, played quite excellently by actor Von Flores.
Flores? Sandoval? When I first heard the names, I suspected. Lately, I confirmed it... Agent Sandoval is Pinoy! Well, at least Mr. Flores is. Von Flores was born and raised in the Philippines. He attended classes at the University of Toronto where he got bitten by the acting bug and started a career, which includes various roles in numerous TV series. His credits include roles in F/X: The Series, The Adventures of Sindbad, Night Heat, Street Legal, Lonesome Dove, Tekwar and more.
Compared to other Pinoy or half-Pinoy actors in the US like Rob Schneider, Tia Carrere and Lou Diamond Philips, Von Flores might not be high-profile but he has been working consistently. And I really find it cool to see a Filipino playing such an important and pivotal role. Okay, Agent Sandoval may not be a good role model, but he is a survivor. He's gotten shot, blasted, vaporized, possessed, burned, deformed and worse but still keeps on ticking... bad grass is hard to kill. At any rate, he shows that Filipinos aren't just world-class... they're universal!
Travails and Taxis

For the past few weeks, I've been taking taxis more and more. Some time ago, I only took taxis in emergencies, or for a special occasion (when I don't want to get to a party or something all sweaty or smelling of jeepney fumes). Then, I moved on to taking taxis every Saturday when I went to my pilgrimage to Greenhills. But these days, I've actually been taking taxis as a matter of course. I usually take taxis now going home, sometimes even right from my office in Makati all the way home in Marikina (which is quite a drive). I guess price has given way to convenience and comfort. In a taxi I can just relax alone (with the driver) in an airconditioned ride.
But now, I've often went to the office in the morning on taxis. I remember one time, it cost me about 130 pesos. On another day, in another taxi it cost just 70 pesos; either that day the traffic was very light or one of the taxis had a very broken meter. Hmm.
Though the irritating nature of many taxi drivers to insist on a specific or particular area to go to, or asking for a set price still pisses me off to no end. This is especially bad at rush hours (both in the morning and evening), so luckily I usually look for taxis in the off-hours.
Ah. I guess I am just getting a bit older now. I miss the days when I just squirmed my way into crowded buses, or hung on precariously outside the escribos of jeepneys, holding on for dear life as the vehicle weaved its way through traffic. I guess those days are over. I just want a nice, comfy ride going home; I don't want to drive home, mind you... just ride home. Maybe I should contract some taxi driver and make him my regular ride... like The Shadow does. But that would mean saving his life in some situation and having some special rings made to mark my coming. In return for your life, you must do a service for me. When someone approaches you with this ring... you must give him the assistance he requires...
I think I'll just have to spend a little bit more for my comfort.
But then again, I do know this cheap jeweler...

Wednesday, December 4

Gamer Heaven

I have to say that I'm happy as a clam these days, thanks to the fact that my favorite cable channel TechTV is now showing episodes of my favorite show, the videogame review program Extended Play, daily. Now I can see the entertaining and informative reviews of new games with cool footage and cinematics regularly. No need to turn to NOW anymore, which is good since they seem to have ditched the gaming shows I like in favor of those crummy Quake programs and replayed-to-death 10 Play episodes. Ah, bliss. I love my cable provider. Let's hope that doesn't change...
Counterstruck Out

Does anyone here like Counterstrike? It's all the rage in countless cybershops and cafes all over the metropolis here. FYI, CS is a mod (meaning, modification) of the original First-Person Shooter videogame, Half-Life. Whereas in HL you played a soldier out to foil an alien invasion, in CS you're simply a soldier out to survive a deadly squad-to-squad cat and mouse game of kill or be killed. Players take the role of either terrorists of counter-terrorists, bring together some friends for a squad, and just let go.
It's been around for awhile, but I confess to not being a fan of FPS games. I get dizzy easily from the fast movements and limited views, and well... I'm just not that great at it. I remember several months ago, I was in another ad agency... me and two of my officemates, Dino and Manny, went off to Glorietta one lunchtime to try a game. We found this cybershop at Park Square and settled down to get our feet wet in the world of videogame counter-terrorism.
Well, the situation was, we were all newbies. At best, we were experienced in playing Unreal Tournament at the office G4s, but Counterstrike's controls were alien to us. But we went in anyway... I mean, how hard could it be? We set up a simple field, had the attendant put in two bots (CPU opponents) and we were off.
To put it simply... we got our arses kicked. And then some. It was horrible. For some reason, we started off with handguns, while the bots had long, high-powered rifles. And they aimed with godlike accuracy. Picture this; we each were on opposite sides of the battleground. I peered out from a window. I could see the bot at the other side of the field, a small dark speck. He fired. I fell DEAD. What the HELL?!
This massacre continued as we tried various strategies. We stormed out, guns blazing. We fell dead. We hid in crevices. They found us. We fell dead. One of us would sacrifice himself to set a trap. We still got whacked regardless. I waited and actually got the drop on one of them, firing like a madman. He turned around. I fell dead. This went on for quite a while. Eventually we were actually able to kill one of the bots, but we still lost that round. Dang. As far as I know, every time you win in CS, you earn money for upgrading weapons and ammo. At the rate we were losing, I wouldn't be surprised if our enemy could afford helicopter gunships by then. We were that BAD. Sigh.
It's actually pretty funny. The physics of FPS games, CS especially, are quite fantastic. Good players will jump, not run, around, to become harder to hit. Can you imagine if you saw that in real life? It would be terrifying to see guys in balaclavas, jumping like kangaroos toward you, guns blazing. And they didn't even need guns. The scariest guys are the ones that come at you with mere knives, making you panic as fumble with your hard-won rifle, not wanting to die, gutted like a pig. That happened to me once. A bot came at me with a knife, and all I could do was at least try to empty my clip. Then, I died. Gah.
Maybe I'm not an FPS guy at all. It's not in my genes. Probably not an RTS guy either, though I love commanding armies. At heart, I'm probably a martial arts one-on-one fighting gamer. Fireballs over firearms, I always say. Give me DOA, VF or Tekken anyday.

Didn't help either than there are no babes in Counterstrike. Heh.
Smell That? Dead Cat.

These past few days, whenever I walk out of the office towards Ayala Avenue in Makati, I pass by an underpass. Near a spot by the stairs, I always catch the telltale stink of a dead cat. It's a hot smell; stuffy and decaying and simply disgusting. I can't tell where it is; on the roof? In the gutter? Can't be in a trash can else it would have been gone after a day. In the bushes? I really hope some Ayala maintenance person finds it and gets rid of it 'cause unless someone does, that stink won't go. The smell lasts for days and days. Believe me, I speak from experience.
Several months ago, I began smelling this subtle stink in my room. The sanctum is of course, a small chamber with one wall having the windows, and one door. I usually stay indoors with airconditioning on, and had been doing so for several months since I had the climate control installed. Anyway, the smell was musty but weak. I couldn't tell where it came from. I checked my bed mattress, sheets and pillows. Okay, modesty aside, I am a very neat person. I am a neat freak, actually. So you can imagine that if I smell something stinky, I find out what it is. Anyway, I really couldn't tell where that musty stink was coming from. After a while I even checked my feet. Nope. Dang, what was that damn smell?
Over the course of several days it was getting worse. I would ask my mom, and she'd come in and say it was my imagination. For some reason I believed her... until I eventually remembered that my mom has no sense of smell. I then asked one of the household help. They said they smelled it too. In fact, they've been smelling it for days. AAARGH. Well, I couldn't really blame them since I usually kept my room sealed up and locked when I left for work. I wonder now what they thought the smell was all about... for all I know, they probably think I killed someone and hid the body in my closet.
Anyway, It was finally deduced that the smell was coming from a cabinet near the ceiling, above where my clothes were kept. I remembered that I kept some old toys there, and a stack of magazines. We opened the cabinet and peered in. OH GOD, THE STENCH. The stink was strong, exhaling from the cramped closet in fetid waves. What WAS it? The maid who looked in told me that there were maggots. Fricking MAGGOTS.The HELL?!?
Apparently, the things were spilling from a crack which led to the inside of our house's roof. Whatever was producing the maggots was somewhere in the recesses above my room. We finally got some guy to climb up the roof and enter the compartment. He found a BIG, dead cat. Apparently, the animal climbed up there to die, and of all places chose the spot near my room. Well, the guy we sent got the carcass and loaded it into an empty rice sack. When he climbed down, I saw the sack... it was huge. A cat? From the size of the bulge it looked like a dog. I don't even want to imagine what it looked like. Gah.
Despite the removal of the cat corpse, the smell persisted for a few days. I emptied several cans of Lysol to try and deaden the smell (unsuccessful; the smell wafted out even worse), and tried taping the cabinets shut. After a few days I unsealed the cabinet to let it air out; a cloud of flies, each the size of a bat (okay, I exaggerate) came out- the remaining maggots that we didn't sweep out. After they were gone, it only took a few more days for the smell to weaken to negligible levels.
Today, I basically ignore the cabinet. I light an incense cone in there every now and then, and cast a spell of warding to keep the dead cat spirit from haunting it. But these days, I still twitch whenever I smell something fetid and musty. I read somewhere that sights and sounds can eventually fade from memory, but smells last a lifetime. If that is so, Dead Cat will haunt me for the rest of my life. Bad smells, bad memories. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 3

Ten Things you need to make your own Manga comic.

Later this month our group will be joining with others for the Comic and Anime Convention being hosted by Culture Crash. We'll be introducing stuff we've been doing these past few months, seeing some new titles released and in particular, imparting what little we know to budding comic creators. I've been told to submit what I'm going to talk about, and to tell you the truth, I had no idea until about, oh, a few minutes ago. Well, actually, things have been mulling in my head as to what I could share for some time, but I haven't been able to actually organize them. Well, now I have. Or at least, I have tried to. Here it is...
10 Things You Need to Make Your Own Manga.
1) You need your basic manga story. Which basically is, get a plotline and find some way to twist it to something different from the norm. Try to get cross-dressing or sex-changes into the storyline. Give something new and creative so when someone asks what your story is, they'll go, "Are you serious?"
If you get that reaction, you're on the right track.
2) Know the manga stereotypes by heart and be ready to use and abuse them.The genki, ultra-bubbly ditz of a heroine/hero. The comedy/American sidekick. The evil villain with the shoulderpads. The butt-kicking babe with the paper skirt. The BIG guy. Know when to use them, and when to twist and make your own unique stuff.
3) Know how to draw seriously sexy women. This is hard, and there's no easy way to this except by practice. Practice, practice, practice. Learn how to draw serious anatomy first before you begin to adopt a manga style. That way, your drawings don't look 'wrong'. When you know how to draw a sexy girl, dressed and undressed, from the top of her hair to her toes, you are pretty much set. Girls are vital in manga. It's a LAW.
4) Know how to do Fight Scenes. The Matrix was inspired by manga. Manga is all about detailed fights, acrobatics, slow-mo dramatics, weird angles, power-blows, blood-gushing from the side of the mouths, long speeches and novel-length duels. Don't go for the cop-out splash pages. It's all about the
5) Love stories aren't mushy. Love and relationships are what gives manga soul. Learn how to make sugary dialogue, dramatic pauses and heart-stopping confessions. Remember, manga heroes are never afraid to cry.
6) Big Guns are Cool. Learn to draw some sort of mecha. Mecha isn't just giant robots; it's every machine that appears in your manga. Arguably easier than anatomy, but it still takes practice.
7) Who's BAD? A manga is only as great as its baddies. Evil armies, secret organizations, dark demons... that evil beeyotch from the other class... the trick isn't just making them hateful and dangerous... but making them as cool (or even cooler) than your heroes.
8) Et Tu, Brute? Betrayals, turncoats, double-crosses and last-minute saves. Who's on who's side? Who's really evil? Who's on first? Who's on second? A great manga plot will keep you guessing until the very end. And then, there's the next season...
9) Don't sweat it! Know when and when not to use manga conventions like sweat drops, veins, SD and such. Too much can destroy atmosphere or mood. Unless it's intended.
10) Have FUN! Your manga comic should reflect YOU. Love doing it, love making it. Make it unique and true to yourself, and you'll find other people who will love it just as much.

Whew! That's the stuff I guess I will talk about, of course more in depth and extemporaneously. I hope I can hack it. Else, I'm going to look like a wonderful fool later this month.
Sharing old war movies...

Watching through the Band of Brothers DVDs, I couldn't help but remember those old WWII movies they used to show in the afternoon on Channel 9 (RPN). I don't remember them much, but I do recall images. American green berets battling German troops and SS were common themes; but unlike the recent films on the subject, I don't recall the old war movies to be particularly bloody. Guns fired with smoke and flashes. Bullets made furrows all around the targets, and men fell. We didn't see bodies with eyes wide open, or gratuitous amounts of blood seeping from their corpses. I certainly don't remember anyone with blown-off limbs lying about. I guess war movies were 'cleaner' then.
Saving Private Ryan reintroduced the era of the Last Great War, but was made with gritty realism and almost vomit-inducing blood and gore. The colors were washed-out as if you were watching an old relic from some old theater, and when men died, they died horribly, gurgling their last words in agony. Argh. Well, war is hell, and that made it clear.
However, it really isn't the violence which drew me to Band of Brothers. What engrossed me was the story of these men; the incredible ordeals they went through, the frightening but fascinating recreations of fierce encounters with Nazi troops, and the hope of seeing the men you come to like survive to the end.
I wonder if I will ever make a war-themed comic sometimes. I often portray battles and fights in my art and stuff, but I realize that I have exercised restraint in portraying death. I dislike gratuitous death scenes or death tolls. If I have to show death in my comics, I want it to mean something, whether it to prove the implacability and unmistakeable nature of evil, or a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. Or, it was simply a matter of self-defense. Pretty weird when you consider that many of my characters are assassins and professional fighters.
Hmm. Being quite serious right now. Maybe it was the apple I had a while ago. Or maybe because I've got a full day of work tomorrow that has to be finished. Pretty much like Captain Winters from Band of Brothers contemplating the taking of a Nazi-infested town...
Ah. Back to the trenches tomorrow.

Monday, December 2

New but not necessarily Improved

After watching Die Another Day last Saturday, me, Mike and Jason crashed at my place to simmer down and sample a VHS tape with several new cartoons, notably the new Transformers: Armada and the updated He-Man: Masters of the Universe. Well, I wasn't too excited, since it was pretty early in the morning (we were at the house at about 2 AM I). The new Transformers anime is, in my opinion, a traversty. It's been 'updated' with new little bots called the Minicons which Mike says are actually based on the Gobots. My generation will remember the Go-Bots as having their own series, with Leader-1 and the good Guardians battling Cy-Kill and the evil Renegades. In Transformers Armada, they've become a 'new' race of robots which can augment the powers of Autobots or Decepticons they merge with. Anyway, I really wasn't listening to the story; all I could see were the humans... now drawn in ANIME style. I just can't reconcile anime with the Transformers. It's just WRONG. I guess the old cartoons just still have a hold on me. Sigh. Anyway, Optimus Prime still looks pretty much the same, but Megatron on the other hand looks like an over-sized Insecticon. And he turns into a TANK! What the HELL?! This isn't my Transformers. Well, that's a given anyway.
The new He-man cartoon made me perk up a lot more. Instead of the realist but BLAND Filmation cartoon-style (which I loathe) of the old series, the new Masters of the Universe cartoon has a nice look which evokes but not screams anime influence. Where it has improved best is in the action; there are slow-motion scenes for drama, exploding blasts, powerful magic, clashing weapons, the works! Now THIS is what Masters of the Universe should be like! Most of the characters look a lot cooler and more formidable. Man-at-Arms is a real walking arsenal. Teela is a butt-kicking babe as she should be. Ram-Man still looks moronic, but at least he looks strong. Cooler still are Man-E-Faces, whose powers change with his look, and Stratos, the flyer. However, I have to say that Mek-a-Nek is still laughably ridiculous. On the baddie side, Evil-Lynn is both a babe AND awesomely powerful. Everyone else looks fiercer and more dangerous. Finally, Skeletor is a powerful fighter and a worthy leader of evil, though I found his new voice a bit too... weeny. Hmm.
One good, one bad. I'd love to see more of the He-man cartoon, but count me out of the Transformers. There are good changes, and bad changes. We take what we can get, I guess.
The Urge to Splurge

It's amazing how fast you can spend money. Over the weekend I bought myself a ton(well, not really... but it felt like it after) of stuff, thanks to a nice windfall. You have to love being an employee and being single. Anyway, I got myself the DVD set of Band of Brothers, that truly excellent HBO mini-series about American soldiers in World War II. I resisted getting the set early on when I found out about the set's release, but after watching an episode on HBO, I just HAD to get it. Engrossing stuff, really. All the grit and drama of Saving Private Ryan, but without Tom Hanks(well, at least not onscreen).
Aside from BOB, I also got a bunch of DVDs as well; The PowerPuff Girls Movie, Austin Powers: Goldmember, Signs and The Scorpion King (Yes, it baffles me why I got that). Afterwards, the spree didn't end when I got to Megamall. I was drawn into the anime shop Comic Alley where the 4th DVD Box Set of Inu Yasha was waiting for me. I also got a DVD of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is the latest anime about Masamune Shirow's popular cyber-adventure. Finally, I got a couple of Love Hina anime art books for references.
I'm telling myself that these things are all my Christmas gifts to myself. Gotta remember though that I have to get gifts for other people too... Heh.

Sunday, December 1

Die Another Bond.

Me, Mike and Jason went over to Greenhills after closing down Comic Quest to watch the latest James Bond movie, Die Another Day. As with Chamber of Secrets, we got tickets beforehand so we could just zip in and watch without any problems. Watching at Theater Mall is pretty cool since the seats are comfy and new; the only bad thing is that during the last full show we always tend to miss the snack bar popcorn. No popcorn tonight, but we had Doritos to satisfy us.
Die Another Day sees Pierce Brosnan taking once again the role of our favorite secret agent. At the start of the film, Bond replaces an illicit diamond dealer to assassinate a North Vietnamese colonel named Moon, who is producing special weapons for use against the west. Everything is going smoothly until Bond's cover is blown, apparently by a traitor. After a hovercraft chase and battle, the prologue sequence ends with Moon falling over a waterfall to his death, and Bond getting captured by NVA troops and being thrown into prison! This somewhat perilous beginning made us all think that DAD would be a very different and perhaps more gritty Bond. Well, at least I thought that until the sexy CG intro title sequence came on with a horrid Madonna song. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?
Anyway, Bond spends the next 14 months in the North Vietnamese prison, but he is eventually released in an exchange with an NVA soldier and saboteur named Zao, who served under the late Colonel Moon. Later, Bond knows finds out that he is being accused of disclosing information to the enemy under torture. Disgraced and distrusted, Bond eventually goes on his own after Zao to get the only thing he has left... revenge. The trail leads Bond to a magnate named Gustav Graves and a plot that may threaten the safety of the world... naturally.
Okay, I've read several reviews which praised DAD as the 'best Bond in a long time', but I have to say... well, yeah... compared to trash like The World is Not Enough, I can accept that. On the one hand though, Die Another Day is enjoyable with nice scenes set in a ice hotel and sexy Halle Berry . However, it also has a lot of cons. It is yet again another stab at trying to be 'realistic' and true to the headlines (this time with the North Koreans as the baddies). There are some glaring scenes like Bond surfing that just screams BLUE SCREEN! Yet again, the villains are nowhere near as compelling as classic Bond baddies. Zao is no Oddjob or Jaws... he's just some Vietnamese soldier (albeit a good one) who tends to get his face messed up. You can pretty much see who the 'secret' traitor is a mile away, plus I have to say the secret behind Gustav Graves is a STRETCH. Some action setpieces, like the car dogfight is a bit clunky, and I have to say... why does Captain Amazing from Mystery Men suddenly appear at the finale? What the Hell?
All in all, I have to say DAD is the best of Brosnan's Bonds... but it demands LOTS of suspensions of disbelief... far more than we (Mike, especially) could muster before we just had to shake our heads and go, 'Silly, silly."
Heh. Whatever. We had a great laugh after the showing though. Heh.