Friday, May 16

Movie Review: The Matrix Reloaded

Milli Vanilli returns from the dead in Reloaded.

Some spoilers but no plot-specific stuff. Basically, if you’ve seen the trailers, you shouldn’t be worried.

I seemed to have lucked out today; our department went out on a ‘creative excursion’ to watch the hottest movie of the season… The Matrix: Reloaded. Unfortunately, thanks to some delays and traffic, we missed out on a few minutes at the front of the movie (which warrants that I see this flick again) and the supposed Matrix: Revolutions trailer at the end of the credits. Oh well.
Reloaded is set some time after the end of the original film; Neo, Morpheus and Trinity are still fighting the good fight both in the real world and in the make-believe world of the Matrix to protect the last remaining free human city of Zion. We finally get to see this human stronghold (WOW!) and see the bigger picture of the struggle which was just talked about but never seen in the first film.
At the end of the original, Neo (Keanu Reeves) becomes The One, a human who has heightened perceptions within the Matrix, allowing him to bend it to his will. This pretty much translates to him being able to fly (making Reeves look like a black-garbed Superman), fight on a level above the more powerful Agents and other computer programs and beings in the Matrix, and do other… stuff. Despite gaining his incredible powers and able to kick Agent butt pretty much at will, Neo isn’t perfect and the fact that everyone else on his side is still mortal and perishable makes the battle just as costly as before. It doesn’t make any matters easier when the opposition they face ups the ante as well. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) returns, seemingly from the dead, with an ability that will make you see double and then some. Then there are the rogue programs; vastly more powerful computer beings that are as deadly or even deadlier than the ever-present and even tougher Agents. This pretty much just translates to a bunch of martial artists- which convinces me that at it’s heart, without all the psycho and technobabble, Matrix is just a kung-fu flick. Heh.

Anyway, the battle for Zion’s survival gets revved to high gear when a threat of invasion is detected. Of course, Morpheus believes the solution lies in Neo and the mysterious prophecy. They believe that the true weakness of the machines lies inside the Matrix… contrary to the belief of other Zion elements that want a more direct, physical defense for the city. This politicking and adding of various characters, council meetings and a ridiculously long RAVE sequence are baggage which for me just bogged the action and pace of the story down. Get on with it already!
Once Neo and gang get sent on a path, it’s a race against time and evil programs to find the answers, or Zion and the human race is doomed. Predictably, along the way there are action sequences aplenty, culminating in an awesome chase and battle along a crowded freeway.

That’s the movie. Oh, and it doesn’t end conclusively, since this IS the middle of a trilogy… but unlike The Two Towers which let you pause and breathe for the next film, Reloaded will have you screaming “NEXT MOVIE, NOW!!!!”.

Which brings me to the nitty-gritty. Did I love it? Or are those many disappointed reviews on the Net in the right?

First of all, the film has incredible visuals. I mean, you go into a movie like this with that pretty much a sure thing.
YES, the characters still look cool. DAMN I want to be able to wear something like Neo’s long black costume. He looks cool and moves cool. Yeah, Keanu Reeves isn’t the most perfect actor in the world but he’s awesome as Neo. Not invincible, but I actually like that they still have martial arts since turning this into a Dragonball/Psychic Powers/Akira thing would probably turn Matrix into something like Dark City… which is NOT a good thing. Yeah, it’s weird to see him fly but it’s also darn awesome; Matrix so far bags the best-looking flying sequences; I want my Angel Ace to fly like him. Woooh.

Trinity kicks butt still, but while she sees more action here than in the first film, her bad assedness isn’t as great, which is sad since Neo kicks butt so effortlessly and Morpheus gets to look good a lot in Reloaded. And I have to say that while Carrie-Anne Moss is damn sexy, she’s not the most beautiful woman in the world (with competition like Monica Bellucci's Persephone I would indeed be worried if I was Trinity), and she looks even worse with blood and stuff all over her…

Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Niobe and the cannon-fodder Zion fighters… Guess I have to play the videogame before I care for them…

Agent Smith is back, and I love it. Smith gives the villainy of The Matrix a face (and a voice) which is cool. The Merovingian and everyone else on his gang don’t hold a candle to Smith. Without a doubt, the most fun segment in Reloaded has to be that BIG BRAWL between Neo and an escalating horde of Smith clones. However, after the fiftieth or so clone appears, I suddenly began expecting them all to start dancing in a synchronized production number. The choreography just seemed to look… choreographed. All those suits... all those identical faces, no blood or bruises... surreal. It would have looked funny set to Keystone Kops music, I think. Heh.

Bullet Time, zippy cuts, slow-mos… still here. Nothing terribly new.

The Twins. Cool, scary and challenging. Like most every cool henchmen, they don’t really stay too long onscreen but they will probably be the first action figures kids want.

Zion… in some ways awesome, with cool touches and stuff… in some ways laughable. Some segments reminded me of those HORRIBLE Flintstones movies. That RAVE thing just went too long… Just a vehicle to make the Neo-Trinity love scene more sensuous…

LOTS of stuff to nitpick about, to talk about… lots of stuff I liked and disliked… but in the end what I disliked was…
The pacing was erratic, jumping from martial arts fight to boring lull to Matrix to real world and back and again. The first third of the movie is abysmally slow, with council meetings and ultimately useless infighting/feuds to give the conflict a real-world factor.

Then there are the confusing and heavy technobabble and psychoblahs which will overwhelm you the first time. When the revelation finally comes, don’t be surprised to suddenly say…


And then say…

Um… I didn't get it.

Yep, I missed whatever it was. Flew over my head. I consider myself pretty sharp and I enjoyed the stuff from The Oracle and other science gobbledy-goo the film threw at me… but when The Colonel , er I mean, The Architect started talking… Ah… What the?

Have to watch it again to listen to it again. Well, whatever the secret of The Matrix was, bottom line is, it was bad and the result is another movie to wait for in November. Heh.

Ultimately, Reloaded’s erratic pace has all the best action finishing long before the actual end, and then saddling the audience with high-faluting dialogue that only tech geeks will fathom the first time around. And THEN it ends at a cliffhanger. AAAAAAHHHHHHGGGHHH!!!

Yep, I was disappointed. Disappointed that the story has as many flaws and holes and iffy parts as there are bullet holes in the movie.
Fortunately though, they are still offset by the movie’s undeniable COOL factor, tons of very fun action sequences and the fact that given the quality of the first film (which Reloaded ultimately fails to surpass, I think), I’m in for the long haul. Yep, I’ve taken the red pill and have no choice but to watch Revolutions. And Reloaded again. And maybe again. DARN!

Thursday, May 15

The Matrix Reloaded

This is THE hot movie of this season. Proof of this is the fact that several major theaters have already been booked solid in advance from opening day (TODAY!) till the weekend. Thankfully, I will be watching this much-anticipated sequel later this afternoon at the Power Plant mall with most of my department (we're treating it as a kind of creative excursion. That's the ticket!).
I'll be putting up a review (with proper spoiler warnings, if needed) as soon as possible. Heh.
Pickpocket in my dreams!!!

Yep, it's true. Early this morning I had a dream that I was in some sidestreet in Cubao, outside some store. I felt a tugging at my side and I caught this kid on a bike trying to lift my phone from its holder. I collared the kid but eventually let him go.
Then I woke up. Hmmm.
Well, aside from that failed phone theft (the real one, not this dream), I've been pickpocketed once before; I lost my wallet, with some cash, IDs and cards. Once that happens to you, I think you get paranoid. But I didn't think I'd even be careful in my dreams. Weird.

Wednesday, May 14

Animated Angels

No, I haven't won the Lotto and gotten my own Angel Ace anime. Taking a cue from The Matrix's animated shorts, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle will be having some online-only animated prequels released before the movie reaches theaters in June. So if you've been dreaming of seeing cartoon versions of Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz, this is your lucky day. There are six episodes to be eventually released, which should be fairly quick in coming since there's only less than a month to the movie's showing.
Anyway, I've seen the first episode and I have to say; It's no Animatrix. The animation is fair but the cartoon Angels look nothing like their real-life models, the story's pretty basic and the character designs are generic. However, there's a lot of action, and the cartoon DOES use some real voice samples from the real actresses (perhaps grabbed for use in this side thing rather than an actual dubbing session).
Anyway, you can download the first free episode of the animated Charlie's Angels here.

Tuesday, May 13

Phone Theft

Last week, an officemate of mine had her cellphone stolen. It was made all the more painful since her phone was a relatively new Sony Ericsson P-800. Yep, that spiffy PDA/Internet Surfing/Digital Camera phone. She said that it probably happened in the ladies' room at the Greenbelt Mall, where a woman had gotten close to her bag (she didn't think of it too much at the time). Right there, she lots an invaluable piece of equipment both for business and personal use worth over 36K. DAAAAAMMMMNNN!!!!

I can't fathom losing such a costly item so easily. The same way I can't fathom carrying around something so expensive as a matter of course, on just any day. If I owned such a thing, I'd keep it close to my body at ALL times. Trouble was, my officemate was a girl and she, like most women, usually kept things at a distance, in purses or handbags.

I've had my phone, a Siemens M35i, for over 3 years. Even after all this time I think it's still pretty neat. The size and shape are perfect, it feels durable and sporty, and simple goes well with someone like me who is out on the street walking around as much as I am sitting at a desk. The signal and sound are great, and it just works perfectly all the time. My only complaint? That I actually got the thing years ago for the WAP functions, which are totally, utterly, unforgiveably WORTHLESS. WAP is CRAP.
Anyway, the phone isn't worth anywhere near a P-800, but just the same losing this phone would ruin my day. It would crash me for weeks. It wouldn't be easy to get another phone.

And to think that years ago, it actually got STOLEN. Yep, I was victimized by cellphone thieves as well. Unlike my unfortunate friend though, I got my phone back.

It happened on the MRT. Me and my friend Brandie had left the office early. We were on the train, joking and chatting about stuff. At that moment, the MRT operator's voice sounded on the speakers.
"Please keep your belongings safe and watch out for pickpockets." He warned.
At that moment both of us laughed, joking that the pickpockets would have to invest in stored value tickets to be able to make their getaway. We were still chuckling when our stop at Megamall came, and we stepped closer to the doorway. As we did, other passengers crowded along with us.

The doors opened. I stepped off the train and immediately ran my hands over my pants pockets (which was my SOP) to check my wallet and cellphone. Wallet... check. Cellphone... Cellphone...

What the HELL?!? My pocket was empty!!! My phone was GONE!!!

Immediately, I turned to face the open doorway of the MRT car I had just exited. Brandie had stopped behind me, not knowing what was going on. Actually I didn't either. All I know is, I started yelling.

"PUTANG INA! (Son of a BITCH!) There's a PICKPOCKET on this train!!! My phone has been stolen!!!" I shouted. "GUARD!!! GUARD!!! Pickpockets on this train!!!"

All this time, Brandie was probably nervously looking around, and perhaps an image of my cellphone, sitting safely on top of my desk back at the office came to mind.

To their credit, the MRT security acted en punto. A guard kept the train from running, and several ringed the outside of the car. I, on the other hand, had entered the car again and was scanning the men in the immediate radius. I looked for the most suspicious one I could find.

"YOU!!!!" I snarled, at a short guy wearing a cap. I immediately started FRISKING him. To HELL with right to privacy. MY PHONE HAD BEEN STOLEN! I had deputized myself.
Of course, I found NOTHING.

I stepped back, and nodded. "Okay."
Then, I looked for another vic- er, suspect.

At that point, there was a commotion behind me, and I turned. I saw one of the passengers, a guy, pointing to a guy he collared. Immediately, guards came in and held the suspect. They led the thin man outside the train, along with some other dubious-looking youths.
One of the guards held up a familiar-looking object he had recovered from the man. It was my phone!!!

I approached the guard, declaring it was mine. He asked what the phone number was. I said it. He handed it to me. I HAD MY FREAKING PHONE BACK!!! BACK FROM OBLIVION!!!

Apparently, according to the witness (a guy named Dante; bless you, wherever you are), he had seen the phone get lifted from my pocket. When I started frisking people, he said that the phone was passed around by the gang. In panic, the unfortunate guy left holding the phone tried to just drop it into his pants (Eewww...) and let it fall to the floor where it was to be found. Good plan, but someone had seen him, so tough.
Anyway, the bad thing was, once they had their confirmed suspect, the guards let everyone else go, and let the train on its way. That included, I think, the OTHER gang members. Why they let that happen I will never know. Anyway, we had a criminal in custody, and that was that. Brandie, me and the witness accompanied the guards and the suspect back to the MRT police headquarters to file charges. There, I spent an hour, seeing other captured pickpockets being charged, and acting out a scene straight out of a police drama. Surreal.
It ended soon after. I left and never looked back. It was too much trouble to file charges, attend court and what have you. I had my phone, and a pickpocket was at least caught and his picture put up for reference in the MRT stations. Since then, I keep my phone in a proper holder at my belt, not in my easily-accessible and vulnerable pants pocket.

Love that story. Been telling it countlessly. I wish my friend was as lucky as me, but them's the breaks.

What a world we live in. Sigh.
Cute Vampire Girls sucked my Blood!!!

Expecting nothing more than dinner and a chat, I was waylaid and bloodsucked tonight at Comic Quest. I spotted a couple of special statues/figurines of anime anti-heroine Vampire Princess Miyu and her manga-only creation, Vampire Princess Yui. I could not resist their exquisite detail, from the folds of their costumes to their scuplted faces, hands and feet... DAMN YOU VINNIE!!!! AAAAAHHH!!!!
Anyway, after I shed blood for them, I later discovered that they require assembly... DAMN YOU VINNIE!!!! AAAAAHHHH!!!! Once put together though (the pieces fit nicely), they look nice, with Miyu in a kneeling pose while Yui is standing (the position showing off nice folds of her costume). They look so nice atop my desk in the Sanctum... DAMN YOU VINNIE!!!! AAAAAHHHH!!!!

Vampire Princess Miyu is all about the adventures of an immortal, ever-childlike vampire who battles evil creatures known as Shinma who prey on humans. Unlike your usual girly-heroine anime though, Miyu's episodes rarely end happily, and always have a macabre twist. A 4-episode OAV and a 24 episode TV series is available, along with manga for both VPM and Vampire Princess Yui.

Monday, May 12

Takaw-Mata (Hungry Eyes)

Visual stimulus is important to me. Extremely important. When I eat, I prefer to do so with an appetizing portion about food or eating playing on TV. Or with a book opened to a page where a lavish feast is being described. Does anyone here love watching Globe Trekker (formerly Lonely Planet)? I actually taped their Food around the World special so I can play it while I eat. My favorite parts include the earlier segments; where Ian Wright has a Japanese breakfast eating a raw egg mixed with rice. Or when Justine Shapiro eats the sour veggie stew called Samba with soft buns for breakfast on a houseboat. Or the many other sundry delicacies shown throughout the hour-long feature. That's a great thing to watch while eating (though I will probably turn it off when the 'worst' meal segments come along- Gak... kangaroo tails and sheep eye...).

Well anyway, there was that steak sequence from The Matrix that I saw last night; and when I went out to have lunch I was looking for a bloody raw steak like Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) was eating. So when I went to Food Choices at Greenbelt I ignored the dozen or so Thai and Asian food kiosks and had my eyes focused on Tender Bob's. I ordered roast beef, and had several bloody cuts sloshed with gravy. To be honest though, I had the meat seared well-done before I had it. Can't take bloody meat. Screw the juice.
Anyway, the meal was good, and I enjoyed mouthing Cypher's dialogue ('Ignorance is bliss...') as I chewed the meat. Heh. In a way, it's true I guess. Enjoyment and appetite are all in the mind. But good meat never hurts.
The Matrix Reloaded (into my DVD)

Last night I popped in my copy of The Matrix into the DVD and sat back to re-visit the original movie in preparation for Matrix: Reloaded later this week. The movie is still slick and sharp and cool as it was when I first saw it. High points still include Trinity's opening chase, the dojo battle between Neo and Morpheus, the hallway shootout and the exciting (albeit in my opinion, unnecessary and futile) fight between Neo and Smith. A personal favorite scene of mine in the film is where Cypher is eating steak as he betrays Morpheus to the machines. DAMN that steak looked good. Heh.
The fight scenes are still cool and the gunplay rocks. From the trailers of Reloaded, it's obvious that the Wachowski Brothers have revved up the action by ten; the brawl between Neo and the hundred Agent Smiths brings to mind similar scenes of one-versus-many in Hong Kong movies like Jet Li's Once Upon A TIme In China. Only this time, CG effects stands in for most of the slam-bang action. Still pretty awesome just the same though.
Sad to say we don't have any premier showings lined up; we're going to have to wait till opening day like everyone else. Can't wait. Reloaded is going to rock. It's just a matter how much.

Sunday, May 11

Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day today. Greeted mom. Not planning anything extravagant, but at the very least, I'll be treating dinner tonight with maybe a pizza. Will be staying home for the day. Want to rest, draw, play and just chill (literally; I'll be keeping the aircon on).