Friday, August 15


While watching LXG, I saw a whole bunch of trailers for upcoming movies, including some ho-hum stuff like Hollywood Homicide (bland cop film with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett) to some home-only fare like (tagalog film about internet porn).
I also saw the trailer for the latest film from young local film director Quark Henares, the dubiously-titled Keka. The title character is a young woman (Katya Santos) whose boyfriend is killed by a bunch of fratboys. In order to deal with her pain, Keka starts working out, learning martial arts and exacting bloody revenge on her beau’s murderers.
While the shots and overall feel of the film give obvious signs to having a lot of effort put into looking new and different from other local films, I have to say some scenes just fall flat- in fact, they seem pretty laughable. In particular, scenes of Keka practicing kickboxing just… don’t… work. It is far too similar to scenes from the recent J-Lo starrer, Enough, and Katya Santos’ physique is hardly buff enough to make you believe she can do the things she does in the film.
Still, all in all I think it’s great to see the efforts of a young director who wants to do something new in local cinema. I am pretty intrigued (or perhaps mystified is a better word) though at how this film is being touted as a romantic comedy, in light of the dark premise and the less-than-dark movie poster.

Anyway, it looks interesting so maybe I’ll check it out…at least on VCD.
The MAD Otaku Speaks!

Within the past few days, my inner otaku got treated to some new stuff. I got the latest issue of Questor Extreme Mangamania and VCDs of the anime movie, Inu Yasha the movie 2: Dream Castle beyond the Mirror.

As with previous issues, Questor Extreme Mangamania #4 continues the events in the four stories in it’s lineup. This time around, horror-mystery story Cante Ista is featured on the cover, with an image that reminds me of the weird gothic anime, Soul Taker. Anyway, the story continues as it does with once again, guys cycling through the desert towards the Devil’s Triangle in the American midwest, talking gobbledy-goo with spirit animals. The kicker this time around is that there’s SEX (which is always good). Well, more ST than anything (well, the one girl in the story gets down to her skivvies for some lethal seduction). The title, "A Kiss Before Dying" is pretty literal… anyway, it’s still an enigma to me, for the most part. I like the art though; I think the staff got jumbled around again, with the former artist of Camp Big V doing art chores for CI.

Shojo-drama Free Spirits proved to resist my initial attempts at reading. All I know is that the spectral residents of the rest house where the hapless barkada is staying are making their presence felt even more. Girl stuff. Moving on…

Camp Big V, I have to say, took a turn for the worse in terms of art. While the Gatekeeper-esque look of the previous issue wasn’t totally in tune with the material, at least it was clean and pretty. The present art is down a notch, and the pacing is pretty iffy. I say this because the new Voltez team’s first kill- the traditiional ‘V’ cut and mushroom cloud… is reduced to a couple of tiny panels. FEH. Not even the appearance of a former Volt team member can change my opinion on this one.

Finally, action-comedy Streetsweepers finishes up the issue. Apparently a couple of new babes join the team, but turn out to be more distraction than anything else. Have to say I find this title to be pretty crappy. The characters are indistinguishable from each other, with no personality, the plot is about as compelling to follow as the neighborhood trash truck and the art's just… messy. Pretty harsh, but I’m a paying customer, and I’ve seen enough manga to know what is style and what is just… not. Sigh.

Overall… BAH. But at least the Cante Ista episode had some ST. Hehehe…

Inu Yasha the Movie 2: Dream Castle beyond the Mirror is the second theatrical release of the highly popular and long-running (over 127 episodes and counting) anime/manga series by manga-ka Rumiko Takahashi. The movie is set well into the latter half of the series, and once again features titular dog-boy Inu Yasha and his companions as they battle a new menace that threatens the world as they know it. This time around, villains from the TV series- main heavy Naraku and his flunkies, sexy wind witch Kagura and creepy soul-less urchin Kanna play important roles in the action.
The main enemy though is a mysterious woman named Kaguya, who may or may not be a tennyo (heavenly maiden from Japanese myth). What Kaguya really is though, is evil, and she’s out to make the world a very dead place. Of course, it’s all up to Inu Yasha, Kagome and their friends to make things all better.
I’ve been waiting for this movie for a least a year, and it turned out to be so-so. The animation and character designs match the first movie, and is of high quality. What just kept the movie from being a classic is the haphazard pacing, plot and somewhat plodding action. This could have been an extra-long TV arc or four episode story. Still, it’s something to see, and it’s great to see my favorite character Kagura get the movie treatment.

Sigh. Disappointments abound. Well, Questor EM’s still developing, and a third Inu Yasha movie is on the way. Life goes on. And on. And on…

Questor Extreme Mangamania is available wherever comic books and magazines are sold for Php 100. Copies of Inu Yasha the Movie 2 should be available now at better-stocked anime shops in the Metro.

Thursday, August 14


The latest comic-to-movie translation hits theaters.

Yesterday, to pass the time before going to get my blood sucked at Comic Quest, I went and watched the latest comic-to-movie translation, LXG (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). For the information of those not well-versed in comics, the film is adapted from the works of comic legend Alan Moore (who coincidentally has excommunicated the film). LXG is about an alternate 1800s Europe, where characters from famous literary works of Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and others actually live and breathe. It's an interesting premise, bringing together famous 'superheroes' to form a European, non-costumed, retro version of the Justice League. What makes the story more interesting is that most, if not all, of the 'heroes' are... er... colorful personalities. Not what you'd call squeaky-clean. That makes for some intriguing interactions.
Well, at least it was so in the comic. In the movie, it's a bit more simplified, but what can you expect? Anyway, moving on.

LXG opens up with Old world Europe being rocked by a series of amazing attacks; attacks carried out by a group armed with hi-tech weaponry (for the time); automatic machine guns, tanks and troops with seemingly invincible body armor. Not one but all nations are attacked, causing the fragile peace and order situation to teeter on the brink of war. The one responsible for this carnage is a mysterious, scarred and masked mastermind calling himself The Fantom (how that weird bit of spelling came out escapes me), purportedly an arms dealer looking to make a literal killing in the coming conflict with his futuristic munitions.
In order to stop this villainy, the British Empire calls back from retirement the legendary white hunter, Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery), to put together and lead the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The present group consists of invisible 'gentleman thief' Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), international pirate and submariner Captain Nemo (Naseerudin Shah), vampiric Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), Shapechanging Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng) and the immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend). Tagging along (and causing quite a bit of controversy among fans of the original comic) is American secret service agent and former carefree boy-hero Tom Sawyer (Shane West).
After the League gets together, they head off to thwart the Fantom's plans, riding Nemo's ornate invention, The Nautilus. But even as it seems that everything is well in hand, treachery and betrayal are waiting to spring a deadly trap, and a sinister agenda is beginning to take hold. HAHAHAHAHA...

Ahem. Anyway, LXG has been rocked from the beginning by bad to lukewarm reviews. I however sat down, watched it and found the film... not bad. Really.
Well, it wasn't stellar, but it didn't suck like another British-flavored Sean Connery-starrer, The Avengers. Perhaps the raw material of the original comic and premise just really allows for an interesting watch. There's a lot of pretty violent (and a bit poorly shot) fight sequences as the League takes out The Fantom's armored troops; Quatermain taking out baddies with his 'jabs of doom', Nemo using some dazzling (and pleasantly wireless) martial arts, Mina Harker going Dracula on enemy arses and Tom Sawyer spraying bullets like he's watering a garden. The tech toys are nice; the Nautilus and Nemo's car are cool, if a bit too fancy, and the enemy weapons have an odd, interesting retro-look. Thankfully, unlike recent action films LXG at least keeps a fast pace with little dead, boring lulls in between meaty loud stuff.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come without flaws. First of all, after you think it through, the plot is pretty ridiculous. I'll leave it at that since I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. Also, the baddies start off interesting but you really don't get to see any of them as having personalities or identities aside from Fantom himself; there are a couple of soldiers with attitude, but none really stand out; heroes of the LXG's caliber demand villains with equal standing, and the movie's lead heavie kind of comes up short (even a last-minute revelation of who the baddie really is just appears as an afterthought and pointless). A really formidable, literary-based baddie taking on the League with all his/her powers and abilities would have helped the film immensely. Give us Fu Manchu with his martial arts, magic and armies of suicidal kung-fu brides. Give us Jack the Ripper assassins. Oh well. Maybe in the sequel...
On the whole though, I found LXG to be a watchable movie. Sean Connery was at his usual level of old hero archetype; Peta Wilson (whom I admittedly didn't find too fetching in the trailers) turns out to be a pretty cool Mina Harker, and one of the more engaging characters in the film. A couple of characters aren't used to their best, such as invisible man Skinner (who ironically seems to 'disappear' at a certain point) and foppish Dorian Gray. And, yes, Tom Sawyer seems a bit out of place. Well, actually, VERY much out of place. But they had to have an American. Ho ho...

LXG is a serviceable action/SFX movie. Lots of loud stuff, meaty fists of doom, CG up the wazoo and Sean Connery. Get your own league together and watch this. And have fun nitpicking about it after.

Wednesday, August 13

Angel Ace: The Movie Casting Call!

Nope, no movie company or anime production house has offered to make a theatrical release of my comic. Anyone who does comics will inevitably be asked the question, 'Who'd you want to play as your characters?'
I've thought about it, and through the years of doing the comic and watching films as I have, I've had various images and live models for the Angel Ace crew. In particular, Angel herself has been pretty hard to cast, partly because there is often that conflict to use either a local talent or an international star. Anyway, I found the recent casting thing pretty fun to do, and I wanted to just share them with you all. Note; I will try to rationalize my choices, but I do realize some of them may cause some to go, 'WHAT?! Are you SERIOUS?' Heh...

Mondebaine Gallowglass: Leonardo Di Caprio

Angel Ace's main, ultimate villain is a handsome young genius, monarch and a destined god-made-man and definitely a figure of formidable personal power. Leonardo certainly has the boyish good looks, the blonde locks and the experience in playing a snotty, arrogant villain (as per his outing in the Three Musketeers flick, Man in the Iron Mask. Don't worry guys... Angel gets to kick his arse eventually. Heh...

Ripley Scott: Seth Green

SCOTT EVIL?!! This was a no-brainer. Rip isn't a pretty boy; he's more about character than looks, and Seth is all that. Plus he can be goofy and intense when he needs to be (he also plays the torn werewolf Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). And I think he looks right well at home wearing the Ripper's trademark leather jacket, corn-yellow locks and goofy grin.

Gregor: Arnold Schwarzenegger

WHHAAAATTT???!!! Okay, okay, this was a bit of a stretch. Originally, this role should have gone to B-Movie king Rutger Hauer, but he's really getting on in years and is a bit on the flabby side (if he was in his prime, he'd be perfect). Arnold may have been one of the reasons Batman and Robin sucked eggs but what can you do? Anyway, Gregor is supposed to be a character who radiates an air of invincibility and unrelenting strength; a Rock of Gibraltar to someone as powerful and formidable as Angel herself. Who else can shed menace as well as cheers as Ah-nuld?

Got to apologize that I really can't find any pics or models for lead guy Mike Rodriguez. I don't feel like looking through local teenstar fansites for a pic of the latest hunk of the month. I've been told that local actor Marvin Agustin is pretty good, so there. Anyway, Mike has to be a pretty boy, and can pull of smart and intense as well as being very boyish, friendly and naive.

Kai Mishima: Zhang Ziyi

Okay, another no-brainer. If anyone can point another incredibly cute, pouty, martial arts-high kicking oriental babe who can act and fight and fill a spandex battle costume like Miss Zhang, please tell me. Yes, I've thought about the So Close girls, but ZZ still has the look down pat. KIIII-YAAA!!!

And finally...

Angela Windsor Gale AKA Angel Ace: Sarah Meier

To tell you the truth, I've been perpetually at a loss at what Angel would look like in real life, till I flipped though an old copy of People magazine a few days ago. I saw a page of pics of model Sarah Meier and I decided there are then, 'It's Angel!' Best of all, she didn't have to have the goggles, scarf, red costume or anything other than her natural good looks and charm to capture the spirit of my main heroine. Of course, who knows if she can act or do wirework martial arts stuff... But gosh darn, isn't she gorgeous? Heh...

Well, that's that! There are lots more Angel Ace characters of course, but these are the mains and the best ones to cast for now. Yep, I was throwing around some voice-casting ideas for The Sorcerer and thinking about casting Rebecca Romjin-Stamos as the SIVA ninja commander, but that's for another day. Wasn't that was fun? Heh-heh...

Tuesday, August 12

Project Buffy pages

Here's our brave, powerful and tardy heroine.

Here are the villains. Of course, aside from being evil, they're also hot.

Here are a couple of inked pages from Project Buffy. I've done almost half of the 20-page story so far. This is destined for another local manga anthology, and the other stories are looking pretty good. Aside from myself, artists and writers like Honoel Ibardolaza, Joel Chua, Jason Banico and Vin Simbulan are submitting stuff. This should be something to look forward to very soon.
Styx Taxi

It seems that comic-making might be genetic, since my cousin Jeremy in the US is also into making indie graphic stories. His latest work is an indie comic entitled Styx Taxi: Pastrami for the Dead. It's all about modern day 'ferrymen' of the dead (as in the Greek myth of the River Styx where a ferryman named Charon takes the dead across to the afterlife). In it, the ferrymen are cabbies and come from the spirits of people who are consigned to serving in the Styx Taxi service for their crime of taking a life. The comic focuses on three drivers- wise old Dom, the beautiful and kind Circe and the grizzled cynic, Charon, as each competes to see who finishes the most 'runs' in the day. The winner gets to return to earth for 12 hours and just... live.
The story's pretty quirky and often touching, though some parts are a bit too 'New Yorkish' in language, which may be hard to understand. Otherwise though, it's an interesting read and Jeremy's art is pretty nice to look at, and very indie in feel (which is a good thing).
Now, since this is an independent comic in the States (Jeremy and his writer showed it off in the recently-held Comic Con where they managed to sell 8 copies), it's not really available here. I may leave a copy at Comic Quest for people to read, but otherwise, it's just a footnote. Oh well.

Monday, August 11

Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad!

Yep, you read that right. Yesterday we celebrated the tandem birthday of my parents. Don't ask me how that happened that both of them were born on August 10. Really odd and wonderful. Heh.
Anyway, we had dinner at home with our visiting relatives from the US, dining with pasta with meat sauce, shrimp, crab, fried rice, tasty adobo chicken and soft drinks to wash it down. For dessert, there was fruit salad and cheesecake from Red Ribbon (we just served one of four cakes given to my mom and dad for their day).
Me, my sister and brother all chipped in to get our parents their gift; a Foot Spa which gives nice, soothing foot massages with vibration, warm hear and bubbles. After the visitors left, we plugged it in and had mom and dad test it out. Really nice. I recommend this as a nice gift for parents everywhere.
It's times like this that really make me realize how lucky I am to have as perfect a family as I could ever have had. Loving parents who were and are always there who never smothered or spoiled me, siblings whom I can talk to as equals and always have fun with whenever we are together, and an often unspoken but always obvious closeness between all of us. Given the fact that my siblings and their families are leaving for overseas life in the near future, I guess I have to cherish these moments as much as I can before they vanish altogether. Kinda sad, but what can you do? We can all just be thankful we had these moments in the first place.
Anyway, Happy birthday Mom and Dad. They'll probably never read this, but what the hey. Kiss, kiss.
On Cable

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, the removal of AXN from Destiny Cable forced me to enact our household's transfer to Sky Cable. This has both ups and downs; the uppest of the up being the fact that the reception is superb (compared to the relative graininess of the picture quality with Destiny... but that was probably just my connection. The other ups of course are channels like, AXN, Cinemax, Lifestyle and Cinema One. The downer is the loss of all my 'electronic entertainment' channels; TechTV and NOW, and my one source of Globe Trekker reruns, Discovery Travel and Leisure. Well, on the good side I now can sleep a bit earlier since I no longer have a regular reason to stay up till three AM (X-Play reruns).
Darn, if there was any justice in the world, Sky should have WOWOW, which would be the best channel for an anime buff, and for uncensored movies galore. Sigh.

My aunt and uncle from the States came home to check up on the progress of their house in the province. They've been living in the US for over three decades, but they plan on retiring here in the motherland. Haven't gone to the site yet, but from what I have heard it's my brother's opus as an architect. Not really being a travel person, I will save going there when the house is completed and being blessed or something.

CSI: Miami
Got to watch the spinoff CSI series starring David "Kit Kat" Caruso and Kim Delaney. Set in the more steamy reaches of Miami, this forensic-detective series promises more lurid cases, often involving corpses left on beaches instead of deserts, and a more driven and emotional lead in Caruso's head CSI character, Horatio. I kinda like the visual style of the flashbacks (literally flashy) referring to the crimes, and the new team of characters has quirks which are set to differentiate them from the Las Vegas team.

Still inking the 20-page manga story for an upcoming anthology. It's taking me quite a bit of effort thanks to my decision to use my old-school inking style as opposed to a more Photoshop-heavy rendering. Should be finished with this by the end of the week.