Sunday, February 24, 2008

L は一人で世界を変われますか?

I loved the Death Note series, from the manga to the anime, and eventually to the big screen adaptations. As evil as it may sound, Yagami Light was my hero. Just between you and me, I wish to be the God of the New World as well. But of course, part of me disagree with what Light did too. Not because he killed the innocent, but because he tried to be too smart and did unnecessary things which led to his downfall. Pray that a Shinigami doesn't drop his note near me, because I won't make the mistakes Light did. :)

Anyway, enough bullshit about secret desires. I've just watched the 3rd movie in the Death Note series. Although I have the 2 previous installments on DVD, there was no need to refresh myself with the plot, reasons being first I'm already very familiar with the story in the manga and anime, and secondly, the movie is a spin-0ff from the series, meaning that it was original material not taken from any sources. I enjoyed the previous movies and felt that it was a good effort to conclude the series in just 2 movies, but was a little sad that it ended too quickly without focusing on some of the smaller but more interesting arcs in the manga. For fans, do try and watch the anime or read the manga to find out how Kira actually defeated L.Back to the movie and my take on it. Again, major SPOILERS here so back off if you don't want to know the details. Although most people can understand the movie without ever watching the other 2 movies, they will not be able to understand why L needed to write his own name in the Death Note. He did it to as a measure to prevent Kira's assasination, and eventually used it against Kira to reveal that his Death Note was a fake. With the death of Watari and Kira, L had around 22 days left, in which he dedicated his remaining time to solving other crimes on the international level.

Other than a few cameos from the characters in the first 2 movies (including Shinigami Ryuk), the story featured new characters and a plot revolving around a biological weapon being developed and sold in Japan. Personally, I thought they could have done better with the casting. As quickly as he was introduced to the viewers, Professor Kagami was stabbed in the back by Matoba. A rather unnecessary scene, just to show the brutality of Matoba and his henchmen, particularly the skinny girl who can stab guards with a dagger without blinking. Rambo would have been proud. I didn't like the rest of the 2 henchmen too, being too sterotyped as psychopaths holding an AK and a laptop respectively. Their acting always felt exaggerated, but most Japanese films are like this anyway. While the story wasn't especially full of loop holes, I still found myself questioning the writers. Here are some of the points which in the movie I found not too convincing:
  • The boy F took care of in Thailand didn't have a back story established. We knew that he was in the movie to provide for the antidote and that he would solve the ridiculous puzzle Professor Nikkaido gave his daughter Maki, since he's a mathematical genius and all. I was waiting for his story in a flashback, which didn't come. I was beginning to think that he was a redundant character, until the final scene which revealed that he was L's future successor Near. Honestly, I didn't see that coming (who would have thought N was Thai), so it was a pleasant surprise.
  • Although the virus was explained to be a new breed crossed between exisiting viruses, I thought the it behaved more like a magic potion or curse instead. Maki was immune not because her father reduced her blood sugar level, but because she prayed to Kira. Seriously, the effects of the virus was too preditable and unrealistic (for L at least). What if the virus started to spead in the train? L would have died from a guilty conscience right there on the train. And on the plane itself, the effects of the virus appeared at such an incredible rate one would really think that a voodoo spell was cast instead. And for those who didn't notice, all the bad guys who seemingly died on the plane were escorted to the police van in the end. God bless Professor Matsudo, who made enough instant 3-in-1 antidotes enough for an entire flight immediately after giving L the only syringe he had. Seems his antidote and not only stop the virus but also cure skin diseases and revive the dead. A Nobel Award is coming his way and he will not have to buy beer to bribe his way to a school lab very soon.
  • There wasn't any twist in the movie, although L was conceived to be extremely versatile and intelligent. He could speak in at least 4 different languages, and can take body temperature using his hands. He can make a definate deduction that 1311 referred to KM, and recite medical jargon till a professional virus researcher tells him to stop. A little too far fetched, and the twist I was waiting for never came. I thought Kujo had something up her sleeve and that L had already seen though it, but it didn't happen.
  • And FBI Detective Sugawa was nothing more than a plot device, appearing at the right time to aid L when he was needed. As a driver, decoy, and also for comic relief. I still have no idea what he was doing in L's basement when Kujo came intruding. Although I was a little apprehensive about how smart they made Kujo, but since she was also from Wammy House, it could have explained why she was also a genius. Just a crazy one bent on killing people thats all.
  • There were some scenes which seemed like a joke, such as Professor Nikkaido's death scene. Ok, I understand that by injecting himself with the virus he can achieve a few things, such as giving Kujo and gang a very visually shocking experience, and by eliminating the need to abduct Maki as a hostage. But the way he died was aggravatingly long to watch, and can Kujo just incinerate the room from outside like that? The final scene where he sprang up came off as a weak attempt to scare people. Lame to say the least. And did that guy just by pass the reticle scanner with his handphone? If images can deceive recticle scanners than there's no point in building them, right?
Apart from these little complaints, I enjoyed the movie and found it entertaining, though never appearing to reach the standards set up its predecessors. Matsuyama Kenichi as L was different from the L in the manga, but captured the hearts of the viewers through scenes where as eccentric as he can be, tries to take care of the boy and Maki. I loved the scenes where he offered candy to Maki, and where he tried to straighten his back. I liked his English spoken speech with Near at the end too, explaining the origin of his name.

So will there be another movie? Unlikely, since L's dead and all. Although there is still the BB Case in which happened before the Kira case with Naomi, it's unlikely that a movie will be made. Another possibility is that Near grows up, and they introduce Mello. Once again a new Kira emerges (like the manga to a certain extent) and challenges the world. Either way, I certainly enjoyed this movie way more than Kung Fu Dunk. Ending off this review with a quote from L: "You alone cannot change the World. But that is the beauty of it."
Iron Man is an upcoming superhero film based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Iron Man. The film is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a billionaire industralist who is captured by terrorists in Afghanistan. Ordered to build a missile, Stark uses his resources instead to build a suit of armor and make his escape. Returning to America, Stark improves his armor and becomes the technologically advanced superhero Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his secretary and love interest Virginia Potts, Terrence Howard plays jet pilot James Rhodes, and Jeff Bridges plays the villainous Iron Monger. Due for international release in early May, this will be one of the next wave of Marvel movies, with the Hulk and Wolverine movies also on the horizon. Downey is also reprising his role in The Incredible Hulk, as Marvel has plans for a film adaptation of The Avengers. Favourite Ironman quote at the moment: "You're not a soldier, Tony." "You're right. I'm an army." Check out the trailer for the show here. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an upcoming film based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Wolverine, due for release on May 1, 2009. The film is directed by Gavin Hood and stars Hugh Jackman as the title character. It is a prequel to the X-Men film trilogy, focusing on the mutant Wolverine and Team X, before his skeleton was bonded with the indestructible metal adamantium. Set seventeen years before X-Men, the film will focus on Wolverine's violent past, and his early encounters with William Stryker. The Weapon X program and his interactions with other mutants will be explored, including his complex relationship with Sabretooth. The Gekirangers have ended their series on a high note. The first Super Sentai series which I have finished, and I thought it was awesome. Although some main characters died, their deaths were extremely well thought out, as it ties up some loops and also gives a satisfying conclusion to some characters' background stories. Rio's nightmares with the rain finally cleared up, and Mele was there with him even after death.

With such a outstanding series, it would be tough for Disney to top them with the Americanised version of Gekirangers, called Power Rangers: Jungle Fury. I've already watched the first 2 pilot episodes, and while I liked some of the new fights, I prefer the Japanese version because I still can't get used to the American cast. I also loved the lengthy roll calls in the Japanese vesion, you know, when they can each take notes doing fancy moves and introduce themselves one by one while the enemy stares at them. Awesome.... I love it. Check out a video I made, comparing some of the scenes taken from the first 2 episodes of both Gekirangers and Jungle Fury.

Since Dekaranger, it has been a tradition for each year's red ranger to "pass the torch" to the next season's red ranger. Sure they will meet soon enough in the spin off movies, but it's a cool scene nonetheless. I've compiled some of the scenes here, so check them out.
Deka Red to Magi Red

Magi Red to Bouken Red
Bouken Red to Geki Red
This year, Gekired passes the torch to Go-on Red.
I've always been a fighting game fanatic since the Street Fighter II days, where I will save pocket money just to go to the game shops to play SFII. And I've bought almost all the SF and KOF games for my consoles, and in my poly days I could play any character in KOF and even entered competitions.... in which I lost both the entrance fee and pride. Not that I suck, but those guys in the arcades were awesome didn't have a life. :) Well, I haven't been playing in recent years but with the coming of Street Fighter IV that could change. The trailers and screens of the returning characters got me excited, and I'll be looking forward to the game.The characters and environments will be rendered in 3D computer graphics and appear to use a stylized cel-shading effect to lend the characters and environments a hand-drawn look. The gameplay video featured a full 3D, cel-shaded environment and characters, fighting on a 2D plane that shifted and rotated. The version of the game shown to EGM ran at consistent 60 frames per second.
SNK Playmore is also releasing a new game, called KOF98 Ultimate Match. It uses the old 98 system, which was a fan favourite, and adds in characters such as Geese, Kasumi, Eiji, etc. KOF was my favorite fighting game of all time, so it would be interesting to see how this game comes out. But it will definately be overshadowed by KOF XII, which boosts all new engines as well as characters. check out the trailer here:
Ok, this post worked out longer than I expected, but it was a good way to spend Sunday morning. Until the next post, do take part in the survey I created on the right. It's a good way for me to see where the hits are coming from, and whether the fact that my blog entry titles being written in Japanese is really the reason I'm getting so many visitors from Japan. Until then, ja!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Happy lunar new year! A brand new year starts while we welcome the year of the rat. Hopefully it'll be a good year for us since we got 2 big rats at home (yes, Misa and Kiki since they belong to the rodent family). It's a good long weekend, and with so much good food around it's easy to grow fat. Well, we've got to treasure this period as it's the last of the major festivals/holidays for the next few months.

Although me and Mabel don't get ang pows anymore, I believe it's happier to give them out instead. Sure we lose the extra "income" and instead need to fork out some money to give to the minors, but I think it's good to give our blessings to the younger generation, and in turn we will also get blessed with good luck..... something money definately cannot buy. Since the last post, I've also grown a year older. My birthday fell in the 2nd day of new year, and I was quite happy to receive a few angpows too for the occasion. Mabel cooked me a fantastic supper at night. Looked simple but it was filled with good stuff in between the fish balls and crab sticks. Not too young now, but again I'd like to give this quote "You don't stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing."

We watched 2 movies this festive weekend, namely shows from Hong Kong which were specialled released in the new year period. As some of you know, I'm not a big fan of Hong Kong cinema, largely due to the lack of creativity and perhaps the lackluster visuals, being not worthy of the justification of the over priced tickets. Still, Mabel ignored my pleas to watch Cloverfield a few weeks ago but I didn't really have the option to reject her since she really wanted to watch these 2 movies. I've got quite a lot to say about the 2 movies, so pardon my nagginess and read on. First up, Stephen Chow's CJ7 (长江7号). Personally, I felt that although the last few movies by Chow were block office successes, they lacked the punch of his yesteryear movies. But that's to be expected, given that he's grown much older since the days were he was still the Saint of Gamblers or the undercover cop who fought back to school. Since Shao Lin soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, I've always thought that the movies he made, while entertaining, could be better, instead of relying on the same formula again and again. This is so especially true when it comes to the casting. The same people keep making appearances in his past few movies, and although I understand that it was done on purpose and reflect some type of connection (e.g. the car mechanic in Shao Lin soccer who wore his shorts really high, also showed up in CJ7 with the exact same trademark), it has become quite irritating. Another point is that Chow loves to reference his old movies. In Kung Fu Hustle, there were references to Shao Lin soccer. In CJ7, there were references to both Shao Lin soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. It might seem cool at first, but now it has become some sort of a overkill.
On to the movie itself, and spoilers are abundant so beware! For the most part, I found the movie, while short and predictable, provided a wholesome experience for the movie viewer. It told of a simple story of love between a father and a son, and of course the laughs were added by an extra-terrestrial being named after a toy line. Stephen Chow himself was not cast as the main star this time, and most of the screen time went to a 10 year old actress (yes, actress) named Xu Jiao, who's role in the movie was Chow's son. Chow, a coolie, could not afford to get his son the toy he wanted, and inadvertably picked up a creature from outer space and gave it to him as a gift. As I mentioned, the plot was as straight as an arrow, and the moment Chow received the bonus from his boss I knew he was going to die. It was obvious, since CJ7 had the ability to restore cells in any object, inanimate or otherwise. There were a few truly bone tickling scenes, but also some tear jerking ones. I wasn't affected, but Mabel's tears were flowing away when Dicky knew of his father's tragic death.

On the whole, I'd give CJ7 a 3 out of 5. Not Chow's best work to date, but the movie served good entertainment, and there were few flaws about the plot (for a comedy). Save the re-used jokes and characters, and spare us the references, and I'm sure his next film will be better. And I don't mean the upcoming Dragonball flick. I've got next to zero hopes for that one. :(
The next day, we went and watched Kung Fu Dunk. A few months back, the rumors began that Jay Chou was going to star in the movie version of Slam Dunk. Of course, I knew that this was bad news. There was no way that he was going to pull it off, considering the fact that the manga spanned over 30 volumes and is a fan favourite even a decade after it ended. Thankfully, it turned out that he was making a separate movie not related to the manga. This way, even if he failed, he wouldn't be tarnishing any names. And as expected, I thought this movie bombed. Badly, too. It was without a doubt one of the worst movies I've seen at the theaters in quite some time. I'll begin by saying that I love Jay Chou's albums, and they're a staple on my Ipod playlists. I didn't watch Secret, his previous film but I did watch Initial D and thought he did well. And to his credit, I have nothing against his peformance in Kung Fu Dunk. It's the movie which left a bad after-taste which I'm trying to get rid of. For starters, I can't stand idol dramas and movies, typically those from Taiwan. I've always felt that they were unrealistic, overly stylish and spent way, way too much time trying to make the characters look cool and appealing, through slow motion scenes, overly dramatic sway of the hair, etc. And Kung Fu Dunk has too much of those scenes, where the focus weren't on the plot or the basket ball game, but on the lead actors and trying to make them look cool. I'm not a basketball player, but even to me the moves they did seemed tooextravagant, and the only point was to make the actors look cool.

It probably didn't help that the movie had a virtually non-existant plot. Too many questions were raised, too many questionable scenes, with no answers. Again, spoilers here so stay away if you still plan to watch the movie. In the movie, Chou was a normal kid who went to Kung Fu school. Bear in mind that it was a school with lots of other students, and he was by no means special. Well, perhaps he was, since he has fantastic shooting abilities and supposedly picked up an ancient skill even capable of time travel. And my point about making the characters look cool in exchange of realism? Chow can single handly take on over 20 knifed henchmen without breaking a sweat. Much too absurd for me, sorry. I'm fine with him knowing qigong, shooting 3 pointers, but beating up all those guys was overboard. At least give him a hard time! The plot had lots of loop holes for me as well, so I'll list out those I remember:

  • Young kid learning how to reverse time, and uses it to save a game?
  • Mafia and Triad bosses betting over a University basketball game?
  • Devil Team with the same haircuts mysteriously disappear in second game?
  • 3 uncles and 1 auntie joining the University for game?
  • No fouls called by the referees. In Shao Lin soccer, it was stated that the officials were all bribed. This were neither implied nor referenced in the movie, and the "secret weapon", the referee can even turn the game around by goal tending, while everybody is fine with the decision. WTF?
  • Moral of the movie: You know Kung Fu, you can do anything. Jump 5 storeys. Defeat 20 knife carrying triad members. Cure fracture arms and legs. Freeze the atmosphere with your inner ki. Use flying needles with lethal accuracy. And of course, time travel.

Luckily, the few saving graces of the movie came from the veteran Hong Kong actors. Eric Tseng was great, and he provided me with the only laugh I got from the entire movie, when he told Chou to go to his father by saying "还不去?钱来了。" I give the movie 0.5 over 5. I did dig the Jay Chou movie song though. 豆腐!功夫!

There are a few upcoming shows which I would like to watch too. First, opening in cinemas on the 21st of February is L: Change the WorLd. It is the third installment in the Death Note movie series, directed by Hideo Nakata. It is based on the manga Death Note by Tsugumi Oba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The film has been released in Japan on February 9 and in Hong Kong on February 7, 2008. Kenichi Matsuyama will reprise his role as L from the previous Death Note films. The film will center on the final 23 days of L's life after the events of the previous film and how Near meets L and joins the orphanage. Using original material not found in the manga, this movie makes use of the 23 days in which L has left to live, after writing his own name in the Death note in the second movie, to prevent himself from being assasinated by Yagami Light. I know it would be hard to match up to the standards set by the previous 2 movies, but hopefully it will have an interesting plot which set the 2 movies apart from the other manga related movies out there.
From the creators of the Scary Movie, Epic Move, Date Movie series, come another movie called Superhero Movie. As the name suggests, the movie pokes fun at the recent era of Superhero movies, namely the original Spider-Man, where many of the spoofs are taken from. The trailer is out, and linked below for your convenience. Usually I don't watch such nonsensical movies at the theaters, but I might be tempted to watch this and Meet the Spartans, since they reference some really cool scenes from Spider-Man, and also 300 and Transformers for Meet the Spartans. I thought there were too many run-into-pole/wall/tree jokes, and too many fart jokes too, but hopefully the Spider-Man references will be enough to make up for it. Check out the trailer. I loved the part where the main guy break dances on the wall, only to have the cat run up beside him. Brilliant.

Official site of the new Ultraman 8 Brothers movie is almost up, but it's a good 7 months or so before we can get to see the movie (in Japan). For me, I'll most probably be ordering the DVD online, but I expect that would take another half year or go, so the earliest time I'll get to catch the movie will be about a year from now.

Just caught the second episode of Kamen Rider Kiva this week. Still, can't feel much for the series as it's just began. Not really liking the main character too much, but hey I said the same thing for Ryoutaro a year ago, when I made comparisions between Kamen Rider Den-O and Kamen Rider Kabuto. There're a few big questions lingering about the series right now, but the time change sequences in the show were pretty cool. The characters of Kamen Rider Kiva are spread throughout two time periods, each related to one another. There are the actions of Otoya Kurenai and the Fangaire Hunter Yuri Aso in the year 1986 that result in the various Fangaire that persist to the current day, in 2008, with Otoya's son Wataru (as Kamen Rider Kiva) and Yuri's daughter Megumi (also a Fangaire Hunter), dealing with the Fangaire to prevent deaths. It would be interesting to see how the characters relate to each other before and after the 20 year period. The Fangaire (ファンガイア) are stained glass-based vampires who feed off of the Life Energy (ライフエナジー) of humans to survive, with which they can disguise themselves as humans. Because of this, aware humans have formed a group to hunt the Fangaire. The only other person able to destroy a Fangaia is Kamen Rider Kiva. Will be keeping up with the show as it progresses. That's it for this week's entry, largely about my movie rants. Until next time, Ja~

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sean & Mabel's next STOMP entry

I submitted the blog cover video to STOMP a few days ago. Yup the same one I shown here a few weeks ago. I thought it was a good way to increase my odds of being picked for the prize, but it seems that they haven't even picked the winner for last December. Anyway, I highlighted the bug of not being able to rate the videos, so hopefully they will solve it soon. More to rant about, but gotta spend the rest of the day spring cleaning, so the next post will hopefully be up in a few days time. In the mean time, check out the link here, as a form of support for me and Mabel. Arugatou!