Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How I Wish They'd Give Us More

So here's my attempt to try to review the long-overdue 6th film installment of arguably the most popular fantasy series the world has ever seen - that's right, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I give the film:

As strongly as I still stand for what I said about Watchmen being an unfilmable text, the complete opposite can be said for the books of Harry Potter. Yes, I believe that the magical worlds created by J.K. Rowling on paper should definitely have its place on the silver screen. And I'm glad to say that this movie version does depict the fantasy realm rather successfully, save for some minor glitches along the way.

Being the 6th book in this formidable franchaise which has been all-too-familiar with the legions of fans worldwide, Harry this time around discovers an old book that belongs to a person named the 'half-blood prince' during his Potions class with new character, Professor Slughorn. Meanwhile, Death Eaters are wreaking havoc again, threatening to penetrate Hogwarts, and even destroying a bridge in the Muggle world. Harry is also introduced - by the ever-trustworthy Dumbledore - to more dark secrets pertaining to Lord Voldemort, which proves pivotal in his fight against the Dark Lord.

Evidently, there are many events going on, and director David Yates does his best in melding all of them into a coherent narrative for the audience to digest. The action pieces are what's worth mentioning here: being the most expensive film in the series so far, the money is put to good use here in this effects extravaganza. Giving the fans a beloved treat - Quidditch!, finally - the magical sport was filmed with both adrenalin and flow. Besides the impressive fire sequences, each location and set seemed to be detailedly laid-out. Be it the playful shop of Fred and George's, or the dream-like scenes of Dumbledore visiting a young Voldemort - all of them were meticulously orchestrated to perfection.

Of course, as it always happens with the Potter books-to-films translation, there's bound to be this rushed pacing to flesh out the entire story (although the movie did hit the 2 hour 30 min mark), which, in the end, leaves the audience a bit short-changed. Exciting moments like the attack of the Weasley's residence ended as quickly as it came, creating almost no tension at all. Which is a shame, seeing that it was a supposed to be a devastating moment, with the congregation of so many conflict-driven characters.

But the film did pile-up on one thing, though, which was the teenage romance blossoming among our younger leads. Those moments provided appropriately humourous distractions amidst the dark goings-on. Although, I felt, Harry and Ginny could've shared much more chemistry. Plus, the lack of focus on the titular Half-blood prince is also extremely jarring.

However, one particular gripe, is the handling of the death of a main character. Mirroring a similar situation in Order of the Phoenix, the director doesn't seem to put in much elaboration on the passing of the person. I'm sure the audience would've wanted to see how the leads dealt with such an event. But, that might be asking too much for a film that is trying its best to appease every fan.

FINAL SAY: I would not be too quick to say that this is the best in series of films, but it is indeed a competent installment to ready us for the concluding film of the Potter books, Deathly Hallows, which will be separated into two movies. Smart move, Warner.

On a side-note, I'll hereby provide a small, totally-based-on-my-own-opinions ranking of all the Potter movies to-date.

(In ascending order of merit):

6) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - sticks out like a sore-thumb in terms of style. Worked very well as a book, though.

5) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - a rather unexciting installment concentrating on a large snake.

4) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - this one sets the mature tone for the later installment of the movies. Fantastic acting.

3) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - love is in the air. Slicker production values pushed this film a notch higher.

2) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - the magical one that started it all. No one can forget the amazement and wonder of J.K. Rowling's beloved fantasy being translated to screen for the first time. Thank goodness they got it right from the start.

1) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - hailed by many as the best of the movie series so far, seeing that it had good material to work with. A Tri-Wizard Tournament that pits two other magic schools against Hogwarts, plus all the exciting challenges being put up, leading up to the memorable, tragic end. Pity about the hairstyles, though (Harry and Ron looked like aunties!) Should've just kept them short.

So there you go. Already can't wait for the final two movies! Argh.

Down with sore throat and flu. Sickening.

Take good care, peeps!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Going GaGa

Weird and wonderful - how often do these two words complement each other to near-perfection? Some might say Johnny Depp. In the music world, there is Lady Gaga.

She probably needs no further introduction. "Just dance/it'll be okay/da da doo doo/" and "P-p-p-pokerface/p-p-pokerface" will definitely ring a bell. If not, you don't have to bother reading on.

Although she may appear really incoherent at times:
(that was exactly what she wore on the Ellen show, and many people didn't know what to make of it as she started talking, the orbits would move about her face - check out Youtube), her songs are quite different from the others out there.

Recently, I've been replaying her next mega-hit, Paparazzi. It's not as hard-hitting as Just Dance or Pokerface, but there's a certain ring to her singing "But I won't stop until that boy is mine" that pulls you in.

And did I mention that crazy music video that everyone's talking about? As morbid as her different poses are in the vid, there's no denying her insane but wonderful fashion sense.

On that note, you should check this out, too. This is a video of a young woman doing an acoustic version of Paparazzi. Simply put, it's really amazing.

And if you're a Daughtry fan as well, check out his acoustic version of Pokerface. My OG Pavarotti might recognise this version 'cos we heard this version performed during out Timbre outing. I think it's inspired by this vid:

That was quite a lot of Gaga, wasn't it? Well, believe me, she's influential enough to probably be the next Madonna. Or maybe not. Or whatever. I just dig her music.

Watching Harry Potter 6 tomorrow. Wait for my review!

Take care, peeps!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Finally got out of my lazy shell to blog. Besides the awesome-tastic, mind-blowing WKWSCIFOC09, I'll blog 'bout those events before that as well. Prawning, mahjong, movie, birthday, camp, settlers' cafe......

Firstly, prawning with Hannah and Baoyuan.

One of the smaller prawns we caught..

I didn't know prawns had such long lobster-like pincers!

Our catch! Hannah totally pwned me and Baoyuan.

Next prawning place I wanna go is the one at Bishan!

Had Mahjong + Movie with wenj, van and liangwei. Caught Duplicity.
I give the movie:

It's always nice to see a beloved actress grace the screens again - and the sight of Julia Roberts with her mega-watt smile more than makes anyone day. Although Duplicity revisits familiar genres (it's Ocean's meets Bourne), the competent actors do bring wit and freshness to the plate.

Roberts and Owen both play collaborating spies who conspire to con two rival mega-corporations. Their motive - to pit the two companies together and make-away with this secret recipe that could be worth millions.

With beautiful locales, biting dialogue and numerous plot twists, you'll either be thoroughly entertained or thrown-off by the storyline. Here's my piece of advice: don't think too much, just go along with the ride.

FINAL SAY: It's welcoming that a witty little flick can appear amidst the barrage of mega-blockbusters and mindless family stuff in the theatres. Get ready to laugh and be confused. But don't worry, you'll get it in the end.

And just one day before my camp, attended Zhihui's early 21st together with Cheryl and Weilun. (Pearlyn!!)

This setting just reminded me of the super-paiseh thing that happened between me and zhihui's dad. Shan't repeat it here :X

Our signature "MAYBANK!" pose =D

Us with zhihui's present - a slick, classy laptop case. And us mock-puching it to represent Pearlyn. Hur..

Andddd......... now for pictures from the most awesome camp in Singapore. NTU's Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information Freshmen Orientation Camp 2009!! (Wow, that was a mouthful).

Borrowing a line from a classic song: "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun..." Besides that, there's that hush-hush event that got everyone mind-f*****. Pardon me, but that word best summed up the experience :X

Here are the photos courtesy of the wonderful seniors of WKW! =DD


First OG outing later. Co0L! Two questions on my mind now: should I go for Hall Camp (planning to stay only one year) and should I get a MacBook??


Take care, peeps!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Slappin da bass, man!"

Woohoo! What a rolicking two weeks after my job contract ended :X

Watched 3 movies. All were average, or above-average. Shall start-off with Pearlyn's KTV birthday celebration. (Photos courtesy of Pearlyn's HP)

Us singing 听妈妈的话 by Jay Chou.

Happy birthday, Pearlyn! My jacket is not your present! Lol.

Cheryl's contribution. Would you care to clarify what on earth is this!? HAHA.

Okay, the first movie review for this post. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
I give the movie:

Although the above poster rocks, the movie didn't really rock as much as I expected.

Not really a continuation of the first movie, T2 did bring back Megatron, though, but he's more of a sub-character to give way for the bigger, meaner, The Fallen. The titular villain is trying to eradicate the last of the Primes (you know, Optimus Prime) so that he can activate this gigantic machine hidden somewhere on Earth to destroy our Sun to harness some energy power source for the survival of their Decepticons race.

Of course, without our Sun, you know what will happen, and it is up to our hero, Sam (Shia Lebeouf) and his hot girlfriend (Megan Fox, who appears solely to add sex appeal to the picture) to locate the said machine before The Fallen does.

Amidst all these plots, there's the usual cheesy robot humour and metallic action to appease fanboys. Clocking in at two and a half hour (one hour too-long for me), the effects displayed in this movie are what's worth watching. The animators must have a hard-time morphing the robots from sleek cars to lean-mean fighting machines, and for the price of your ticket, the fighting scenes and some of the set pieces are well-worth.

FINAL SAY: Enough robotic action to please the fans, but letdown by bad pacing and plot. But, that's the whole point of some blockbusters anyway.

Everybody's 21st!

Yep, I forgot whose idea was it, but it sure is fun having a Primary School get-together to celebrate everybody's 21st birthday!

Kick-started it at SMU's Settlers' Cafe with Liangwei, wenj, val and van, with Shawn 客船-ing for awhile.
(Photos courtesy of Liang Wei and Vanessa)

Me explaining the rules of the 'Hanging Monkey' game.

Careful! Don't let the monkeys fall down!

Vanessa attempting an unglam shot of me again...

...and succeeded.

And our damn-powerful Jenga playing skills... let the pictures speak for themselves...
Relax, girl, it's only the start of the game!

The crazy tower is beginning to show...

I don't think praying helps much...


"Are you kidding me??"

Attempting the final stunt..



Playing this iPhone game on wenj's phone. He had to put his hands below in case his precious phone drops :X

Then it was off to my house for steamboat!

Looks absolutely delicioussss...

Don't worry, I washed my hands!


Then it was time for Guitar Heroes World Tour!

"Slappin' da bass, man!" You'll know why I keep saying this later.

You can imagine how disastrous it was for some first-timers..

"Ah si wa wu jit ba ban..."

Then it was cake-cutting time. Bringin' out the delicious durian cake from Jalan Kayu!!
I can almost smell the durian now..

Happy birthday to US! =)

And here's the next movie review, for I Love You, Man.
I give the movie:

As far as good comedies go, there's actually a new sub-genre for this category, and it's called a bro-mance flick. This movie twicks one of Hollywood's most bankable romantic formulas and I'm glad to say, it absolutely worked.

Peter (the fantastic Paul Rudd) has just proposed to his girlfriend. And during wedding preparations, his fiancee discovers that Peter doesn't have a good man-buddy to accompany him at the aisle. You see, Peter is more of a 'girlfriends' kinda guy - he is perfectly straight - but has failed to secure strong male friendships in the past. After a series of disastrous man-dates (awkward but stupendously hilarious), in comes Sydney (Jason Segel is a hoot), the complete character-opposite of Peter, who shows potential of becoming Peter's best-bud for his wedding task.

I Love You, Man works well with this weird but amusing setting of the anxiety of trying to find a male-buddy even though Peter is decidedly approaching middle-aged. And witnessing the bonding of the awkward and confused Peter with the brash and loud attitude of Sydney through rock jamming sessions is so endearingly funny, these two characters' electrifying chemistry alone carry the show.

Of course, kudos to a bevy of funny supporting casts. And here's presenting to you one of the funniest scenes from the movie, where Peter is trying to get his fiancee to be interested in a rock song he digs. Peter mutters the already-classic line of "Slappin' da bass, man!" with absolute hilarity:

FINAL SAY: Filled with laugh-out-loud situations and side-splitting one-liners, this is where Hollywood comedies should be heading to. Seeing that I watched it with a female friend and she totally enjoyed it, this movie is evidently for both genders.

And the final movie review is probably apt, since the world is still reeling from the shock of MJ's passing.

But firstly, take a look at this MJ report by AP and try to spot Yee Wen with her Singaporean friends being interviewed outside the Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA. Cool stuff!! :D (at time: 1:00 onwards in the background)

Here's the review of Departures.
I give the movie:

There you go, my second 5-star review of the year besides The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If you realise by now, I kinda give high ratings to those movies that talk about life and in this instance, death, in particular.

(winner of this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Film) is about a failed cellist who moves back to his hometown with his wife in rural Japan, and taking up a job as an encoffinment (aka nokan) in a company that specialises in cleansing, donning-on make-up and dressing-up the deceased for their final 'journey'.

As morbid and sometimes frightening as it might sound, this profession is part of Japan's rich cultural heritage. Seeing the character painstakingly go through each and every minute detail in dressing up the corpse, and the care and respect taken to dress-up each deceased beautifully is painful but at the same time, heartbreakingly poetic to watch.

Each family has its own story to tell. And the film portrays each funeral in its most honest happiness, or for some, misery, leaving the audience in laughter and simultaneously in tears. When the story finally comes to a wrap with a heart-aching plot surrounding the main character, the audience is already swept up by the meticulously-crafted and moving storyline, only to be touched once again by this masterpiece of a film.

FINAL SAY: Funny and a profoundly moving film at the same time - this tale is an ode to family life, and how each of us copes with the inevitable situation of death. Laugh and cry along with it. Then, contemplate. Highly-recommended.

Communication Studies Orientation Camp next week. So fast!

Take care, peeps!