Friday, 29 March 2013

Review: Sequel or a Reboot?

G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra is a extremely flawed, but decent movie, it engages audience purely as an entertainment medium, nothing more. It is successful because of that. In 2012, for the 3-D sequence, the movie is delayed to 2013 and for some reason, most of the characters has been replaced, makes the movie kinda in a limbo. Is it a sequel? Or a reboot?

The answer is kinda both. G.I Joe: Retaliation is somewhat more enjoyable if you watch it as a full reboot, but you can't ignore the predecessor's storyline, because it is connected. In the movie, only Duke, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, President of America, Cobra Commander and Zartan returned for the sequel, the rest of the casts are brand new. With Bruce Willis, The Rock and Adrianne Palicki join the ensemble cast.

Plus points of the movies are the cheekiness of Rise of Cobra is still there, some good one-liners, comedic moments from the casts are notable. The CGI and audio effects have been improved significantly from Rise of Cobra, with seamless visual effects and greater audio power. Bruce Willis looks great as General Joseph Colton, the original G.I. Joe. Despite the action being more grounded, more realistic than its predecessor, action sequences is still a treat!

Now the minus. What the hell are they thinking when they are making this sequel??!! They are calling this a sequel but replaced most of the cast, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is gone as Cobra Commander, Ripcord, Scarlett, General Hawk and etc is all gone! And not to mention Channing Tatum, actor who portrays Duke has little screentime and all of a sudden has a better friend in Roadblock (The Rock) and didn't mention his old 'bro'. Due to that, most of the time, it makes the story non-relevant anymore, even though it doesn't have a good story to start with.

In conclusion, G.I. Joe Retaliation is a great all-out action movie with great effects in full force. But, it must be treated as a reboot rather than a sequel in order for it to be enjoyable, which I did. If you are in for the true sequel of Rise of Cobra, you will be disappointed.

Score: 2.5/5

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Thank You, My Chemical Romance

Just now, I've learned a sad news, one of my favourite bands, My Chemical Romance, has announced that they're splitting after 12 years together.

To me, part of my teenage years has just died. This band has given me some of the best songs during my high school, with hits like: Teenagers, Helena, Na Na Na, Planetary (Go!) and of course my favourite song of all time, Welcome to the Black Parade!

In his blog post at the band's official site, Gerard Way wrote:

"Being in this band for the past 12 years has been a true blessing. We've gotten to go places we never knew we would. We've been able to see and experience things we never imagined possible. We've shared the stage with people we admire, people we look up to, and best of all, our friends. And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end. Thanks for all of your support, and for being part of the adventure."

Hopefully, they still produce great songs and albums on their own after they split up, it's been great to hear those great music material from these guys over the years...

Before I go, here's the Famous Last Words...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Driver is the Problem, Not the Car!

The automobile industry is different now, with global warming and the increases in fuel prices. Automobile industry has no choice but try to innovate by using an alternative mode of powering the car like Hybrid engines, plug-ins, Hydrogen cars, reducing weight of the car by trying lighter materials or even longer mileage and fuel saving tires.

One of the most common sight of eco cars right now are Hybrid cars. Hybrid cars are usually powered by a normal combustion engine and with an electric motor assist, which are really economical and low on carbon dioxide emission, which is a good thing for the Earth and the wallets of the drivers. Even on Malaysian roads, Hybrids are popular as well, they usually make up by several car models, Toyota Prius, PriusC, Honda Civic Hybrid, Jazz Hybrid and the sporty looking CR-Z.

Or This??

But I have heard from hybrid car drivers complaining about the cars themselves are not very economical as they promised and advertised, which they feel like it's a rip-off. I couldn't believe them at first, but after driving around the town observing how hybrid drivers drive, I have three possible hypothesis:

  1. The hybrid car is really not as economical as they promised.
  2. There are problems with the car itself
  3. Malaysian drivers are driving like cocks!
Sorry for the harsh word, I couldn't hide my feelings, but what I said is true, Malaysians are driving like maniacs!

What I found it hard to believe it, but it's true. Hybrid cars are designed as fuel-saving economical cars to drive around the city, what I see is people use them as a normal car. For a typical road users here, driving normally is like braking when the car is very close to the car in front, accelerating hard along the highway and swerving left and right.

These driving will result in lower fuel economy, that's for sure. But don't complain that it's the car is not what it was promised! This not only applies to hybrid cars, but cars in general. Don't change cars because you find petrol is expensive, change your driving style, a smooth driving driver will save a lot of fuel than aggressive drivers. I tested before, I drove around the city smoothly with my 1.6L Proton Waja for a few days. After that, calculated the mileage, fuel up petrol and drove around the city in the same travel period and same condition, but this time drove aggressively. I found out if I drive smoothly, I can squeeze out almost 100 km more mileages than aggressive driving in my Waja.

If you still not convinced, watch the video below by automotive entertainment show, Top Gear, in which Jeremy Clarkson tested out the same theory. The first-half of the video is humourous, I admit, but the second half he is absolutely spot on!!

In general, look at yourself before complaining about the car, it might be your own problem!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

As soon as I heard that Kathryn Bigelow is going to direct Zero Dark Thirty, my mind was set, "I'm going to watch this movie!". Why, you ask? Well, Bigelow's previous movie, The Hurt Locker, is an amazing piece of war film. It was tense, suspense and almost perfect. So, Zero Dark Thirty, a movie about the hunt for terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden, has a lot to live up to.

Before the movie, everyone probably knows how the movie is going to end up, due to the massive news few years back, but this movie has done very well on showing how it gets there. The movie sent shivers down my spine the first moment the movie started, it started all blacked screen with telephone recordings of the Sept 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre. Forget horror movies, hearing all the victims' last messages to their loved ones and emergency services with only voices and no videos are much scarier, setting up well for the movie.

But the scene after the opening might disturbs viewers with its torturing scene. I don't mind torture scene usually, but the torturing scene is so realistic and authentic, I found myself hard to watch the scene the whole time, this movie is certainly not for everyone.

Nonetheless, Kathryn Bigelow has done a brilliant job with Zero Dark Thirty, provide suspense and intensity throughout the movie even though everyone knows the outcome of the ending even before it started, and several subplots are just as interesting and intense, letting me glued to the screen the whole time, anticipating what about to happen next.

Let's not forget, Jessica Chastain's Oscar nominated performance, who portrait CIA agent, Maya, who is tasked to find the whereabouts of the terrorist leader. With her "end justifies the means" attitude and her determination is very well acted throughout the movie.

Lastly, the climatic scene where the op to kill bin Laden makes sure that the movie has the intensity from start to finish, with a totally dark environments and night visions camera guiding the viewers and the on-screen soldiers. This is very different from what we usually seen in war movie where the climatic battle is loud and all-out actions, Zero Dark Thirty offers a much more quiet but just as terrifying action sequence.

Zero Dark Thirty probably surpasses The Hurt Locker in every way, in terms of storytelling, actions and the intensity, but the torture scenes might turn a lot of people off. It's not for everyone, but if you can watch it, I recommend you to watch it. One hell of a movie! It was one of the best film of 2012. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Score: 4.5/5

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My 3 Recommended 3-D Films

Let’s face it, 3-D is not doing well at the moment, the hype has died down and not as much people are going to 3-D cinemas as compared to few years ago when 3-D saw resurgence due to James Cameron’s Avatar. One might be simply that 3-D is not really being more immersive compared to normal 2-D. The other one will be film publishers just simply slap a 3-D conversion to just about any movie they can make, making some of the 3-D films fake-ish and unimpressive.

But, there are movies that really take advantages of the 3-D technologies really well. With proper editing and effort, 3-D films can be great. Here are the 5 movies I think people should go for a 3-D version.

The film that started the whole 3-D resurgence. James Cameron's Avatar is true visual masterpiece, his implementation of 3-D in Avatar is probably one of the best in the film-making world. The world of Pandora in the movie is extremely immersive and highly detailed, the colour tone of blue and green is gorgeous. When the camera pan out and revealed the huge world of Pandora, you can be taken aback and enjoy the lovely setting, and I haven't mention the final sequence when the fight take place up upon the mountains.

Tron: Legacy

The movie, actually it's not great, with a so-so plot and some weird one-liners, but the 3-D of Tron: Legacy is pretty well done. The 3-D in Tron is the same used in Avatar, which explains the nice effect, and general colour of the movie is black, which make other colours like Blue & Orange very distinctive and showed 3-D in great effect. The 3-D is clear and impressive when during the fight scenes, when Sam is riding the Tron motorcycles in the arena or during "Disk Wars" or the final escape flight sequences.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Why I choose this one?
Transformations, robots got blown up, metal pieces falling of robots! AND A LOT OF EXPLOSIONS!!!!!!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

PlayStation 4: My Perspective

It's been around 2 weeks since the announcement of PS4, the latest entry into the PlayStation series and the successor to the current PS3. Generally, the reception ranged from great to mixed, but I'm not here not talking about what other people think, I'm here to say what I think about PS4.

I love my PS3, I really love playing it. But despite how much I love playing it, I accept that it's time for a new one, due to the rapid advancement of technology these days. I was also amazed how much the staying power the PS3 has over the last few years, considering the computer tech has eclipsed the PS3. The most example of that is when you placed the PC version of Crysis and Battlefield 3 with the PS3 versions side by side. Hence, PS4 is needed.

From the announcement, I was pleased about the details they revealed so far. The PS4 engineering architecture is very very close to PC. This change in architecture is probably due to complaints by game developers that PS3 is difficult to develop games, as evident in certain PS3 games, which struggled to catch up with other game consoles and gaming PC. It features an 8-core AMD Jaguar processor unit, APU developed by AMD and Sony, an unspecified GPU unit and 8GB GDDR5 memory. It was impressive, even by today's standard, this will make sure games will be easier to work on and most of all, better longevity than other generations' of consoles.

Then, there's the controller, I have mixed reaction towards it. At first, it is exciting to see that they redesigned the R2-L2 buttons from the PS3, which is a bit clunky to use. But then, they slightly redesigned the DualShock form factor, which is very comfortable for me to use because of my smaller hands. So, I need to test it before I can judge the new controller.

Sony also announced the latest PlayStation Eye camera, which will have better resolution and better integration with the PlayStation Move. I'm won't go much into details about this, because I already have doubt with the current PlayStation Move, I need more details about it to convince me.

The highlight of the announcement was probably the social features, which might be catered towards social gamers and to the more connected and more social network-centric society today. This is obvious when they showed the "SHARE" button on the DualShock 4 controller, which allows gamers to share their screenshots, gameplay videos and other gaming content through social networks like Facebook or Twitter. I believe I might use some of the time considering I have been sharing my PC screenshots quite a bit.

Lastly, it's the game. Sony announced a number of games from the conference, such as Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, inFamous: Second Son, and Knack. Games from other developers like Bungie's Destiny, Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, Blizzard's Diablo III and others. But the only game we've seen with longer gameplay sequences and show the early potential of PS4 is Killzone: Shadow Fall by Guerrilla Games. The game ran on true 1080p full HD with bigger sense of scale and details than it's PS3 counter-parts. It is not a really significant leap, but considering the game is up and running just a few months in, it's quite impressive.

I can't wait for the PS4 to come, even though we haven't seen the design of the console itself and the pricing of the console. But considering PS3 still has a lot of games still left to play, I don't need to worry much and probably wait a year before I buy one.

Lastly, a PlayStation montage!