Saturday, August 27, 2016


The first Ice Age movie came out when there wasn’t many 3D animated movies yet.  It’s no beloved classic – at least, as far I’m concerned – but with not much benchmark around then, I really found it a good, re-watchable film.  Through the years, more and more 3D animated films have been made, and we’ve seen how far – especially through Disney and Pixar – the medium could achieve in both visual and storytelling standpoints.  Meanwhile, all this time, Ice Age has been spewing sequels, getting more and more stupidly over-the-top, boring, lazy, and unfunny with each new installment.

It has been about a decade and a half since the first movie, and it perplexed me that this franchise is still alive when it’s only getting worse – and this latest one, Ice Age: Collision Course, is the worst yet.  But I did some Googling, and it finally made sense to me: these movies might have been terrible but they yield profit – much profit.  Ice Age (the good one) grossed $383,257,136 from a budget of just $59 million.  Ice Age: The Meltdown (the passable but forgettable sequel) made $660,940,780 – almost double of the first one – from an insignificantly higher budget of $80 million.  Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (when it jumped over the shark and killed the integrity of this franchise) made $886,686,817 out of $90 million – its best box office performance.  And Ice Age: Continental Drift grossed $877,244,782 out of $95 million.  These impressive return-on-investment numbers have made Ice Age a prominent franchise despite the inferior quality of its films.  Besides, as far as Hollywood is concerned, making money is more important than making worthwhile films.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

'Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon' Is as Goofy as It Suggests

Scooby-Doo! crossing over with the WWE isn’t quite that peculiar.  Such thing isn’t unprecedented.  Just last year, it crossed over with KISS.  And back in the 70’s, there was a Scooby-Doo show called The New Scooby-Doo Movies (which I was able to watch as a kid because Cartoon Network re-ran it), which featured the Scooby Gang teaming up with real-life celebrities (e.g. The Harlem Globetrotters, The Three Stooges) or fictional characters (e.g. Batman and Robin, The Addams Family).  Heck, this isn’t even the first time the cartoon collaborated with WWE; they made the movie Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery back in 2014.

However, though the concept of a Scooby-Doo!/WWE crossover isn’t really bizarre, Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon is pretty ridiculous nonetheless.  (Some mild spoilers ahead.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

'Now You See Me 2' Does Not Quite Have the Same Hypnotic Sense of Fun That Its Predecessor Has

Back in 2013, critics weren’t too impressed with Now You See Me.  But me?  I loved it!  Thus, I was really looking forward to the sequel.

Now You See Me 2 is set a year after the events of the first movie.  Henley Reeves (played by Isla Fisher in the first movie) has left the Four Horsemen (in real life, Fisher was pregnant during production, so she wasn’t able to participate in this movie), and the remaining members – J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) – are in hiding, restlessly waiting for further instructions from The Eye via their handler, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo).  But when they’re finally activated for a new mission – with new member Lulu May (Lizzy Caplan) taking Henley’s spot – their much awaited comeback doesn’t turn out as they planned, as they instead find themselves being taken to Macau, China, and coerced by the wily tech genius Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) to steal a rival’s data-mining hardware.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

After Nearly Two Decades, 'Pokémon' Still Refuses to Let Ash Win

I had long stopped watching Pokémon.  I had grown out of it when I was a teen – though I was able to watch some episodes and movies that my younger sister was watching then.  But when she also grew herself out of her Pokémon fandom (she’s now a teen), there were no longer any opportunities that piqued my interest to check it out.

Until the latest episodes of Pokémon XYZ series that is.  It drew my curiosity when I got wind of the buzz that Ash could finally win a Pokemon League at last.  It seems that Ash has finally upped his game, becoming a more proficient trainer than he was in years past, and he makes it into the finals for the first time (the furthest he had reached prior to this was in the Final Four), versus Alain.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

At Last, 'Bleach' Wraps Up (Very Poorly)

After a fifteen-year run, the Bleach manga ends with its 686th chapter.   Which might as well, since it has long way gone beyond “jumping the shark” territory.  It used to be one of my most favorite manga/anime properties because it used to be genuinely riveting and badass.  But the last few years’ worth of chapters has ranged from mediocre to straight up godawful.  And the worst thing about it is that the obsessive nerd in me couldn’t stop myself from still following it regularly.  I felt I had invested too much fandom on it already that I just have to see it through till its end.

So every time a new chapter was out, I proceeded to read it.  I mostly had to suffer through a narrative that was either mind-numbingly boring that I soon forgot what I had just read or so pretentiously convoluted that I felt it was not worth the effort of making sense of it.  Then there were rare instances when it seemed to be going towards a direction that would make it good and exciting again – but these eventually dwindled or nothing substantial happened from them.

To sum it up, Bleach was somewhat of a torturous fandom for me, that its conclusion would come as a relief.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Duffer Brothers Channel Stephen King and Steven Spielberg with 'Stranger Things'

Stranger Things is the first non-Marvel Netflix show I’ve watched.  It’s set during the early 1980’s in a small Indiana town called Hawkins, and tells the tale of the mysterious disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and the ensuing search and investigation conducted by his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder); brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton); best friends Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin); and the local police led by Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour).   An enigmatic psychokinetic girl named Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown), shady government agents, top secret experiments, and a sinister extra-dimensional entity are also in the mix.   I won’t give anymore plot details since this is best enjoyed when one just has a vague idea on what it’s all about.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

'Ratchet & Clank' Feels Like a Slightly Better Version of a Weekend Morning Cartoon

Ratchet & Clank is based on the video game series of the same name.  It centers on a critter-like alien named Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor), a talented but careless mechanic.  He later meets the adorably puny but brainy robot named Clank (David Kaye).  Together, they go on an unlikely adventure, joining forces with a team of space heroes called The Galactic Rangers, to stop the evil Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) and his accomplices, Victor Von Iron (Sylvester Stallone) and Doctor Nefarious (Armin Shimerman), from destroying planets in the Solana Galaxy.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

If vs. Is

“If” is one of my favorite words.  Logical thought is hinged on “if.”  “If” sets the premise.  “If” sets condition.  “If” sets context.  “If” sets the tone.  “If” sets an assumption.  “If” incites the imagination to picture what could be.  “If” sparks thought experiments.  From the “if”, the “therefore” – a conclusion – is made.

“If” is a beautiful word, and serves a versatile function in explicating aspects of reality and truth.  But there’s one important thing that “if” can never do: invalidate an “is.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

'Money Monster' Is the First Julia Roberts Film I've Seen in Years

Money Monster is about a grandiloquent TV personality/Wall Street guru named Lee Gates (George Clooney) who finds himself and his crew taken hostage during a live broadcast by a disgruntled investor armed with a gun and a bomb named Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell).  Kyle has just lost all of his life savings for following Lee’s previous tip of investing on a bullish company called IBIS, which unfortunately lost $800 million worth of investments, including Kyle’s, due to a glitch in its trading algorithm.  With the help of his director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) giving instructions to his earpiece, Lee must overcome his fear and rely on his talking skills to defuse the situation, save their lives, and uncover what really happened with IBIS.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Steampunk, Zombie, and Jidaigeki Genres Converge in 'Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress'

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri) is set in a steampunk version of feudal Japan wherein a zombie apocalypse has forced humans to live inside fortified “stations”, which are connected by railways and the only means of travel between them are by armored trains called “Hayajiro.”  However, it’s not uncommon for stations and trains to be attacked and overwhelmed by the zombies, which are called Kabane.  The Kabane are very difficult to defeat since they are undead and can only be “killed” when their glowing hearts are pierced.  However, their hearts are covered with an iron-like layer that is difficult to penetrate.  Someone wounded by a Kabane is immediately infected and will shortly transform into a Kabane.  Hence, it’s a general and expected practice for newly infected people – especially warriors – to commit suicide before transforming into one.  Dealing with this kind of situation, humans live in widespread and constant dread and paranoia.