Saturday, June 18

Ye Olde Spaghetti Place

As you can probably tell if you've read my blog for some time, I love pasta. Especially spaghetti. And so, it was with a bit of excitement that I went with the Salt Mines Staff to have lunch at The Old Spaghetti House yesterday. The place has a nice, cozy feel to it... with wooden panels and accents in addition to brick and mortal walls, old-style decor and some nice furnishing (if a bit crowded). The place seems to do good business during lunch, with a full house at the time we were dining.

Anyway, the menu predictably consisted of lots of pasta meals, mainly spaghetti (though there is a selection of other pasta and favorites like lasagna) and some odds and ends like rice meals. To keep with the program, I ordered the basic Spaghetti with Meatballs, which I really haven't tasted done well in other places. Well, I wasn't disappointed. No, it's not Mom's Spaghetti, but the noodles were al dente, the sauce nice and tasty, and the meatballs really good with a steak-sirloin quality of flavor. Along with my main course, I had a nice bowl of cream of corn and chorizo soup (really nice, albeit slightly salty) and a LOT of ice tea (bottomless) to wash it all down.
The price is the usual for a classy place- Php200 will get you a dish and drinks easy. Having extras (like me) will push your meal to just under Php300. Our gripe? One of our mates had to wait a good long while for her order, while the rest of us had our meals early. Otherwise, it was a good meal overall.

I know that there are more OSH's elswhere, like in Libis. I hope to get the Quest Gang to try a meal or two there, for some really good spaghetti. After all, my birthday only comes once a year. Heh.

Friday, June 17

Grimm Future

From seemingly out of nowhere comes this cool-looking dark period fantasy/fairy tale/horror action flick The Brothers Grimm. Looking like a big budget mix of Sleepy Hollow, The Brotherhood of the Wolf and Ghostbusters, the movie casts Matt Damon (Bourne Identity) and Heath Ledger (A Knight's Tale) as two con men travelling Napoleonic France, masquerading as supernatural troubleshooters. When the government learns of the two's shenanigans, the brothers are forced to take go on a mission agasint real demons and monsters causing some grisly events along the borders between Germany and France. Either they win and stop a demonic threat or find themselves on the receiving end of a guillotine.
Along for the ride are Jonathan Pryce and Monica Belluci as the beautiful but evil Queen Mirror. This looks pretty slick. Something to watch for later this year.

Thursday, June 16

The Deadliest Date Movie Ever

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an humor-laden action romp about the lives of two elite assassins married to each other without knowing that deadly fact. But while John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) Smith are total masters at combat and death-dealing, they don't seem to be as good in the domestic setting. Basically, after five (or six) years of marriage, their marriage is on the verge of collapse. Then, something comes to rock the proverbial boat and two people who have made vows to be faithful till death do they part are soon doing their best to terminate their better half.

This is a pretty different action yarn with assassins; there's no big mission to take on, no deadly diseases or bombs ticking away, no evil spy organization to overthrow (but a TON of faceless commandos to take out)... the only real thing at stake here is the Smiths' marriage, and all the gunplay and close combat is really just a metaphor for a couple to work out their differences, be honest to each other and rediscover their true feelings for each other. That is, if they don't get killed in the process.

That said, this is still a pretty slick popcorn flick with some very cool action sequences, funny quips and dialogue and LOTS of sexy eye candy for both guys and gals. Really, I can just stare at Miss Jolie all day, but she's double-triple-quadruple gorgeous here. Seriously. Gorgeous. Babe.

Ahem. Anyway, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is quite an entertaining watch, with good chemistry between both leads and some nice stunts; I just would have wanted the 'shaky cam' look a bit lessened and perhaps a bit more tussling between the two... Heh. Definitely worth my time and I'm gonna get the DVD so I can keep staring at Angelina again. Mmmm.

Wednesday, June 15

Batman Begins

... TODAY. Yerk! The latest and supposedly Greatest Batman flick is in theaters in the Metro starting today! I really really want to watch this movie; in fact, I've never been this excited to see a Batman flick as I'm not particularly a big fan of the caped crusader. However, this movie just may push me into a batty state of mind. Well, we'll see about watching this at the latest over the weekend with the crew. I've still got Mr. and Mrs. Smith to catch before I make the move to Gotham.
Dead or Alive: The Movie

The fight started after Christie joked that Hitomi would be played by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The devil is in the details. Yet onto another game-to-movie thing, though this is less than stellar that Advent Children, it is still pretty close to my heart. Of course, I've been hurt before (Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat 2 movies... aaaah...), but what the hell. I'm a sucker for punishment.

Anyway, the DOA movie's in filming right now. The director is Corey Yuen (The Transporter), which is not a bad thing since he's done lots of Hong Kong action stuff. The script is by J.F. Lawton, whose credits include Pretty Woman (Gyaaaa) and Under Siege (Hmmm). The producer is Paul Anderson who is responsible for the okay Resident Evil movies and the HORRID Alien vs Predator and the Mortal Kombat movies. So... all in all... it could go either way. Yikes.

As for the CAST. Here goes.

Sarah Carter (Final Destination 2) plays Helena.
Kane Kosugi plays Ryu Hayabusa.
Holly Valance (UK Pop Star) plays Christie.
Jaime Pressly (Sin City) plays Tina.
Devon Aoki (Sin City, 2 Fast 2 Furious) plays Kasumi.
Kevin Nash (Pro-wrestler) plays Bass.
Natassia Malthe (Elektra's Typhoid) plays Ayane.
Other characters are played by new actors.
Brian White plays Zack
Now, the girls are sexy and some seem well-cast (though Devon Aoki seems more suited to play Ayane), but it remains to be seen if this works out.

As for The STORY...

Directed by Corey Yuen, "DOA" tells of of an all-female kick-boxing squad trying to guard their employer.

Bounty-hunter Christie has been hired to bring in uber-crook Fame Douglas. Upon his return, she'll be paid a desirable fifty million big ones.
Unfortunately, Fame Douglas has hidden himself at the top of a tower, smack-bang in the middle of a remote island. On each floor, Christie encounters a member of the DOA troupe - and they've been paid to make sure she doesn't advance to the next - excuse the game pun - level.

Christie as the apparent heroine? The DOA girls reduced to being bodyguards for Fame Douglas? This movie seems to take liberties with the game's original storyline and roles for the characters, but what the hey. If there's lots of cheesecake and a DOA volleyball scene and lots of girl-on-girl fights and sexy outfits, I'll be happy. Heh.

Expect DOA the Movie to bounce into theaters in 2006.

Addendum: The competition, Namco, is also coming up with a Tekken flick. So far, the only cast member confirmed is the actor who plays kickboxer Bruce Irvin, Brian White (who also plays DOA's Zack!). The story so far is about a young man who discovers he has a great power within him, and has to fight a group of elite fighters who are after it. Hmmm. Highly simplied plot, I see. Well, it all comes to a head in 2006.
Advent Details

More tidbits on the ultimate game-to-movie translation.

More stuff on the upcoming Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children DVD release in Japan.

The Japanese dvd release of AC will be on September 14. The final cut of the CG, game-inspired sequel movie Advent Children will come in at a full 97 minutes. Aside from the feature, the dvd will include a 30-minute documentary that outlines the storyline of the original PS RPG that AC follows (this should be a boon for anyone going into the flick who didn't play the game). Other features include various FFVII trailers and stuff on the upcoming 'Final Fantasy VII Compilation' project.

The heftier Limited Edition DVD will include a bit more bang for the buck- a nice toy of Cloud Strife astride his Fenrir motorcycle, an all-new original FFVII anime OAV Final Fantasy VII: Last Order and a special edition of the FFVII PS1 game.

Cool stuff, but I don't expect to be able to get a copy of the limited edition given that Japanese (or even local Filipino) fans will eat this up. It's still unclear whether AC will get a theatrical release, or if we'll see the original DVD in stores here. Most probably we'll see this feature first from the local anime shops (and hopefully the Last Order OAV too). Darn, September is so far away... I want this NOW. NOW. NOW. Sigh.
Steamboy Redux

After a discussion last night with Vin, I decided to clear up a bit my thoughts on Steamboy with this follow-up post. Or, to be a bit clearer, why I didn't like it all that much.

Steamboy has it's good points. It's a great premise- that of a young boy given a great power which he must protect from evil forces. But the execution is muddled, drawn out, dragging and unfocused. There are no clear cut villains. No clear cut good guys. No seeming central plot. There are too many things happening and nothing happening paradoxically at the same time. For far too many times and for far too long, action consists of turning valves and steam vents and pipes. This movie is half about action and adventure, half about PLUMBING. Okay, that's exaggerating but I think it's true.

A serious problem is that no one is likeable. No one has depth or is engaging or compelling to watch. Ray has plainly good intentions and a strong will, but is far too blank and confused for far too long. All the other characters are too ambiguous, showing both good and bad that you just don't care for any of them- not for Ray's cyborg father (who is the de facto villain of the piece simply because he looks the most evil with his black suit and prosthetics), not for his wild-eyed grand pa, not for the token love interest/irritating girl Scarlett O'hara, not for the British Government or whoever else is in the mix. No one makes an impact and this just kills the need to watch this long and dragging (if wonderfully animated) spectacle to the very end (and it takes a darn long while to end).

Yes, there's action and fun stuff- you have to with tons of steam-powered munitions exploding and going crazy onscreen. But it would help (a lot) if it all made sense, with a decent sense of timing and pace.

In the end, for me Steamboy is a cumbersome, flawed spectacle. Great animation and incredible detail, awesome designs. A clunker of a story though.

Whatever. Well, I'll of course keep a copy next to Akira in the old anime library for posterity. But I don't expect myself to be taking this out and watching it too often anytime soon. Moving on...

Tuesday, June 14


Ray Steam takes on baddies in Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy.

The name Katsuhiro Otomo is no doubt well-known to anime and manga fans, primarily for his post-apocalyptic opus, Akira- easily one of anime's landmark films (if not THE landmark anime film). It is a bit boggling though to realize that Otomo hasn't made another animated project since Akira- at least, not until his latest, Steamboy, But does the great director's latest top his greatest?

Sadly, no. A thousand times no.

Steamboy is an adventure-fantasy yarn set in an alternate reality steam-age England, in the turn of the century. Young Ray Steam is the product of genius- both his father and grandfather were geniuses and colleagues in the research and development of a device called the Steam Ball, an amazing power source that could revolutionize the world... or destroy it in a white puff of smoke. When Ray receives an actual working Steam Ball in the mail, he soon becomes embroiled in a battle between ideologies, steam-powered weapons and armies and unfortunately, my lagging attention span.

Again, this was a feature i almost was positive I'd love. I mean, what's not to love? There's a spunky kid hero, his dad-turned-Darth Vader figure, evil corporations and governments at war, steam-powered arsenals and big battle scenes, lots of carnage, flying and rolling machines, lovely animation and even more lovely animation.

So why, oh why did I find myself bored to tears?

Well, the pacing's off and the story was just uneven. Not even the coolest animations or the retro designs can make long scenes of scientific debate interesting. The characters aren't very compelling, not the least of which is Ray himself, who basically just drifts along without an opinion or even much to like about until the final stretch of the movie. Also, you really can't tell who's really good- I like grey areas and blurring between good and bad as much as the next open-minded watcher, but darn everyone seems bad in this movie at one point or another. Which would be fine if only Ray himself found a stand to believe in... but it all just seems weak with little great scenes to talk about or rave for. Spectacularly dragging and drawn out is what Steamboy turned out to be. Not as whimsical as Spirited Away, not as strong in action or characters as ANY of the other Miyazaki classics... not even as visually striking as, say, Innocence (Ghost in the Shell 2)... this is a big disappointment as a follow up to Akira.

Still, the sheer detail and animation is awesome, and the story would probably be better with better editing and about thirty or so minutes of baggage cut out (and the released theatrical cut is supposedly shorter than what Otomo wanted). The main trouble is that Steamboy just loses... well... steam... way too early and chugs for far too long till the end.

Still, it's something to see, and at least it's not as bad as Metropolis. Worth seeing one time for the animation, but I doubt anyone but a true fan or Otomo freak will last a second or third watch. Oh well. Moving on.

Monday, June 13

New PC!

Well, not really. I just had my OS reinstalled, since the ol' beige box was positively unusable by now. It's been acting up for months and months, hanging more than half the time whenever Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer is used. Over the weekend, it got worse, with stuff like my Video Editing Suite and even just the ability to TURN THE DAMN THING OFF getting unreasonably impaired. So, I had to nip the problem in the bud and it was done. But it was not without cost- I lost gigs of data, but after all this time it was about time to clear stuff and make use of the 80 gig-hard drive with new stuff.

A new start for me and my PC, which should do well since it's still going to be my Media Center and homebase for my PPC phone. I guess it's pretty fitting that this all happened on my birthday. Heh.
Playstation Pocket PC?

Last night I discovered a program for the Pocket PC that allows emulation of Playstation 1 games. PLAYSTATION 1 GAMES ON MY PPC PHONE??? INCONCIEVABLE! Well, it seems true, and I was ALMOST actually able to have the ultimate Dead or Alive geek sigh- to have Dead or Alive PS1 playable on my mobile phone. Unfortunately, the DOA file, or ISO, seemed to be corrupt and unplayable. I'll see about finding or someday learning to rip my own mobile PS1 games eventually. That would be sweeeet. Heh.
MAD Birthday

Saturday saw most of the Comic Quest gang converging at my place for a spaghetti-and-chicken dinner, courtesy of my Mom. The guys and gals trickled in, first Dino and me, then later Cams and Jason, then the main group with Vin, Dean, Gig and Andrew. As always, the spaghetti sauce and cheese flowed freely, and we enjoyed in lieu of Don Henrico's Buffalo Wings a tray of barbecue sauce-marinated deep-fried chicken legs which were crispy-licious. Dessert was a Red Ribbon chocolate mousse (very nice), and soda aplenty.
Since it was my birthday, the gang set aside their singing session for a bit, and we spent a couple of hours just talking about old TV shows, random old movies and films and that kind of schtick. Darn... we would all probably qualify as Movie Geeks for that Jack TV game show, Beat the Geeks. We've got a LOT of junk in our heads. Heh.
Anyway, my birthday weekend was pretty cool overall, since Friday saw me meeting good friends Arnold and Cynthia in Makati (and with a nice shirt, too!). This was a really nice celebration for the year. Can't wait till next time.