Tag Archives: reviews

Forgotten Invention: The Revolver Camera

30 Jan

“Revolver Camera (New York, 1938). Colt 38 carrying a small camera that automatically takes a picture when you pull the trigger. At the left: six pictures taken by the camera.” [source]

This is quite possibly the coolest camera ever.
Although I have to wonder, where does one load the film?

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FYI, this is off topic but Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a really entertaining movie.  It’s worth the extra bucks to see it in 3D since it was actually meant to be seen that way — mind you, this is coming from someone who usually hates 3D movies since the glasses never sit right on top of my own frames.  This time around however, there was a lot more depth in visual effects (it doesn’t look like Paper Mario) and the 3D is apparent throughout the entire movie (and not just a small segment like in Harry Potter).

Overall, I kind of felt like the movie’s too short since I want to see a bit more character development but you know what, if that means sacrificing all the crazy gory fights and blood spewing decapitations then forget it; this movie’s awesome for what it is.  It was never meant to win any Oscars or Academy Awards for being a thought provoking film; characters accept their fate, they deal with their problems and move on, end of story.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel if they’d expand on the character-team dynamics a bit more.

Oh and be sure to check out the concept art for the witches because they are fantastic!!  Go! Go! Go!

WICKED: A New Musical

6 Aug

I just came back from seeing WICKED: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz at Place des Arts and omg… I want to see it again!

I don’t quite remember how I first learned about this Broadway musical but given that it’s been referenced in two television shows I watch (Ugly Betty — I don’t remember which season this is in but they showed glimpses of a few scenes when Betty was watching it; Glee — I love Chris Colfer & Lea Michele’s cover of “Defying Gravity”) along with its outstanding reviews from critics, my interest was piqued.  I confess, I wasn’t too impressed with The Wizard of Oz when I saw it as a child (it might be a combination of not understanding the plot and dialogue since my schooling was done in French at the time) but I do remember liking the songs.

Last year, I finally got my hands on the book Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, just to see what the big deal is.  The first segment was quite tedious to get through since it’s about Elphaba’s birth and toddler days — way before she became known as The Wicked Witch of the West.  It’s not that children are uninteresting but it was difficult to see what the point of it all is and where the story is going.  Things start to pick up when she attends Shiz University but it’s everything that occurs afterwards that truly define who she is.  It’s amazing how all the details, conspiracy, politics, and characters  all come together in the end.  You can’t help but gain a whole new appreciation and understanding to characters in The Wizard of Oz because Maguire’s prequel gives them such depth and complexity — far beyond what the film portrays, which is so biased and shallow to begin with.  To my delight, the book exceeded my expectations in nearly every regard.

Book Versus Broadway

Like all adaptations, there are differences but in this case I actually prefer the Broadway version to the book.  The tweaks give the ending a whole different tone.  I’ll stop here since I don’t want to ruin it for anyone interested in reading/seeing Wicked, but I will say this: the show really does live up to all its hype.  It’s funny, dazzling, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, passionate and inspirational.  The cast is incredibly charismatic (Christine Dwyer & Jeanna de Waal are amazing); the sets are fantastic (I love how they change scenes); the costumes are so colorful and detailed; the choreography and songs are captivating; the singing is phenomenal… oh the list goes on!

You don’t have to read the book to appreciate the Broadway show but there will be minor details that you’ll miss out on such as the structure of the stage:

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You can’t really see it but there are cogs and spools all along the sides, framing the stage behind the dragon (very steampunk-ish, lol).  And yes, the dragon does move.

It’s a reference to “The Clock of the Time Dragon” in the first part of the book (which the musical omitted) when the origins of evil is discussed.  It’s interesting because the “clock”‘s arrival sets certain vital events in motion that will ultimately change the fate of prominent characters.   In the musical the origin of evil is introduced much more concisely since we jump right into it.

Is It Worth Seeing?

If the staggering standing ovation is anything to go by, then its a big YES!  I don’t know if this is the norm but people were clapping and cheering enthusiastically after every song and dance number; quite a number of us got teary-eyed near the end as well.  The troupe is currently on tour so if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they’re performing, I highly recommend you  go see it.  It’s worth every penny.  Even my friend who normally doesn’t like musicals became enraptured by it.

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[edit] I must apologize for the lack of posts lately.  We’re doing a bunch of renovations at home right now so it’s really inconvenient for me do to anything on my laptop.  There’s so much stuff piled up in my room that I feel like I’m one of those people on TLC Hoarders.  >___<

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

14 Dec

I just came back from watching The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and I am happy to report that the movie did not disappoint!  Those of you who are fans of the graphic novels and the TV show probably know the plot already but one of the greatest thing about watching the movie in 3-D (yes, I watched it in 3-D even though I despise the medium) is seeing how fantastically they’ve rendered the texture.  It’s beautifully achieved — the hair, the fabrics, the dust, the water, the wood paneling, etc… are all so incredibly detailed and realistic.

Evidently, this film is made with 3-D effects in mind because the visually, the focus is just right.  It’s always obvious when the effects are added in as an afterthought because: the depth perception would be completely off (too sharp in the foreground and so blurry in the background that nothing can be seen);  there aren’t enough frames in between to optimize the effects when it comes to action shots so it’s not as smooth as it should be; and all the details get lost because the “camera” is moving so quickly yet everything is pop-ed up and highly pigmented that your center gets thrown off because your eyes don’t know where to focus.  With this movie however, I didn’t feel any of that.  Graphically, the only thing that’s lacking is the texture for  skin but since Tintin a cartoon character to begin with, it doesn’t bother me that much.

In short, it’s worth the extra $3 to see this movie in 3-D even though I did spend a fair amount of time trying to adjust the 3-D glasses on top of my own.  The film is action packed, gripping,  hilarious, and a great reminder to why I fell in love with “the adventures of Tintin” in the first place.

Men With No Shadows 不速之約

11 Oct

Heavily inspired/borrowed by the Japanese manga-turned-anime called Death Note, Raymond Lam plays the demon in 不速之約 (Men With No Shadows), who torments Bobby Au under unusual circumstances.  Bobby, upon realizing how unfulfilled his life is, pleaded relentlessly for a second chance to make things right — confessing his love to the woman of his dreams (Tavia Yeung), finishing his lifelong medical research to cure her extremely rare form of allergies, and getting a chance to ensure that everyone in his family is well off and taken care of after he’s gone.  Amused with such trivial concerns, the devil grants him a second chance at life; however, it doesn’t take long for Bobby to realize that the devil’s new-found generosity is not without consequences.

Thoughts & Review

There is only one word to describe Men With No Shadows: annoying.  TVB must really hate Raymond Lam — I don’t think any leading man of his fame and stature has ever, in the history of TVB, done so many consecutively terrible series.  I had to re-watch the last two episodes thrice because I kept falling asleep in the middle of them.  I am so disappointed because the ending feels like such a cop-out after how great the first half of this series is.

It makes me wonder whether or not TVB purposefully gives him terrible scripts to work with — because of his stature (pull in ratings for a bad series) or because somewhere along the way, he offended someone on top of the TVB pyramid.  Men With No Shadows proves that Raymond Lam can act when he’s not obsessively posing for the camera.  In fact, his role here allows him to show more emotional range then all the work he’s done in the past 2-3 years combined, but the script is wretched!  It’s such a waste of talent because the cast is fantastic.  Near the middle, it seems like everyone involved is simply doing the best they can with what they were given with.

The plot is painfully drawn out — full of clichés, plot holes, and pointless family drama that has nothing to do with the story.  I am so disappointed because we finally get to see Raymond in an evil role, yet the producers had to inject him with some humanity.  There are various aspects that are illogical, and the attempt to explain these incidents, although makes sense, completely voids the allure of the initial concept.

By the end of it, all the characters are so annoying that I just wanted to give up entirely.  The writers could have gone in so many interesting directions but they chose to box themselves in from the beginning and ruin everything.  Tavia’s and Power’s character has been reduced to nothing more than a victim and a puppet; Bobby is an angry, bitter weakling;  and Raymond is a sobbing mess.   Only in the last ten minutes of the finale does the show somewhat redeem itself, but even then it comes across as trite and typical of TVB’s happy endings.  There are a lot of serious, underlying issues that are never dealt with; everyone just took the easy way out and pointed fingers, blaming Raymond, when all he did was manipulate them with what was already there.

Conclusion

Overall, you’re not missing anything if you skip this one.  Men Without Shadows is worth watching if you are a fan of Raymond Lam but be warned, the overall themes and conflicts are banal at best.  You can avoid this if you are a fan of Bobby Au, Tavia Yeung or Power Chan since they’ve had significantly better roles in the past.  The only character who I consistently enjoyed watching is Sire Ma’s, but she needs to work on her delivery —  she sounds really whiny sometimes, especially when she’s suppose to be angry.  Those of you who love Death Note can steer clear of this as well — nothing can beat the original.

Captain America: The First Avenger — Review

29 Jul

It’s a good movie.  Granted, the way the main villain was vanquished seems relatively simple in light of everything that happens.  As such, he was more like a villain-of-the-week kind of guy — not that I’m complaining since this is suppose to be a lead-up to The Avengers movie coming out next year.

So what can you expect out of Captain America: The First Avenger?  Well, for one thing, you should brace yourself for a lot of American pride coming your way, which can be overbearing if not done properly.  It works well for the film though since it does take place during WWII.  The CG isn’t quite at par sometimes; you can they’ve used a green screen for some of the scenes, but the humour makes for it.  There’s quite a few good laughs, especially from Tommy Lee Jones (he has some of the best lines in here), coupled with some pretty outrageous, yet ridiculously funny action sequences (not quite as extreme as Die Hard, but enough to warrant plenty of whoops and cheers when the credits roll up).  There’s plenty of consistencies and references to Iron Man and Thor, which I love.  Props for the cool (non-stereotypical) Asian guy and language-savy Black guy.  Lastly, of course, Samuel L. Jackson‘s pretty bad-ass and Stan Lee‘s adorable as usual in their brief cameo.

It’s interesting but the more of these Marvel movies I watch, the harder it is for me to decide which of the heroes I like best.  Although Captain America does come across as one of the most simple-minded of the group, it’s his selflessness and his attitude towards heroism and fame that I love.  He shrugs it off with awkward, yet confused “Thanks but I don’t understand why you’re making such a big deal about this.  I just did what I had to do under the circumstances.  Anyone would have done the same thing” type of mindset.  And his reaction at the end of the movie — omgosh, such a sweet-heart!

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NOTE:

In contrast to the other Marvel movies, this one doesn’t have any special clips at the end of the credits — a lot of people (almost half) actually walked out when it started rolling up and walked back in halfway through (so the theaters was 3/4 full), but there really is nothing at the end except for a brief line that says “Captain America will be in The Avengers” or something of the like.  So disappointing…

Anyways, I can’t wait for The Avengers!!  Joss Whedon is directing it!!!

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Similar Posts:
Thor — Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 — Review

21 Jul

In a word...

I don’t think there has ever been, in the history of film releases, ever been a movie quite as globally monumental and highly anticipated as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Part 2.  I’m a believer that a huge aspect of any movie review stems from what kind of mindset and expectations the reviewer is burdened with prior to watching said movie, particularly if the movie if the reviewer has read the book beforehand.  As such, HBP2 both, in many ways, exceeds and falls-short of my expectations.

WARNING:  HERE BE SPOILERS OF ALL SORTS FROM  BOOKS AND MOVIES.  YE BE WARNED.   Continue reading

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