Monday, September 26, 2016

'Swiss Army Man' Could Be This Year's Weirdest Movie

Swiss Army Man starts with a young man named Hank (Paul Dano) who is stranded in a deserted island.  Bored, desperate, and lonely, he wraps a rope around his neck to end it all.  But before he can proceed with the act, he spots a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washed ashore.  The dead man proves to be flatulent, with his farts strong enough to propel his body across the sea.  Hank uses the corpse like a jet ski and is able to get to the mainland but still far from civilization.  Fortunately for him, the dead body, who he learns is named “Marty”, strangely has the capability to be used in a variety of ways, like a Swiss Army knife (hence, the title) – using parts of its anatomy to gather and store water, chop wood, start a fire, launch projectiles, or even be used as a compass.  Marty also quickly learns how to talk, and he and Hank begin sharing many conversations about life and its principles along their journey.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

'Bring It on, Ghost' Is Surprisingly a Lot of Fun

Bring It On, Ghost – alternately known as Let’s Fight, Ghost or Hey Ghost, Let’s Fight – surprised the heck about me.  After finding Doctors a let-down, I thought I might give watching K-drama a rest (also, because the fall season of American TV shows has come; I need more time for that).  But reading about Bring It On, Ghost’s premise made me curious enough to give the first episode a try.  I immediately found the tone and the execution of the premise very enjoyable.  I also became interested on where the arcs could be going.  Hence, I was compelled to watch the entire 16-episode series.  I wasn’t expecting that I would have this much fun with it.

It tells the story of a college student named Park Bong-pal (Ok Taec-yeon) who grew up with the ability to see ghosts.  He works part-time as an exorcist, beating up and banishing ghosts for a fee, and hopes to save enough money so he can pay to have his ability removed.  One night, he encounters a feisty, amnesiac high school ghost named Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun).  They scuffle, which result to an accidental kiss that triggers Hyun-ji to remember some vague memories when she was still alive.  Realizing that Bong-pal might be the key for her to remember her past and “move on”, she badgers him for his help.  Bong-pal agrees.  But in exchange, Hyun-ji has to help him fight ghosts.  As their ghost fighting partnership progresses and flourishes, they begin to develop feelings for each other as well as learn the secrets that connect their pasts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

'April and the Extraordinary World' Is an Animated Science Fiction Gem

April and the Extraordinary World, also known as April and the Twisted World, is a French-Belgian-Canadian animated science fiction movie (the original French title is Avril et le Monde truqué).  It’s set in an alternate steampunk world, wherein technical and industrial advancement have radically slowed down in the late 19th century toward the 20th century.  As a result, the world’s technologies are steam-powered, driven by burning coal and wood, which result to the depletion of trees and heavy pollution in the air.

The plot centers on a young woman named April Franklin who carries on her family’s research on a serum of invulnerability after the disappearance of her parents.  Along with her talking cat Darwin, she soon finds herself on the run from agents of the government that intend to weaponize the serum, and goes one step closer to reuniting with her parents and uncovering a world-changing conspiracy.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

See Jackie Chan Cover Adele in 'Skiptrace'

Skiptrace is about a Hong Kong detective named Benny Chan (Jackie Chan) who is driven to prove once and for all that businessman Victor Wong and the crime boss known as “The Matador” (Winston Chao) are one and the same.  In order to do that, as well as save his goddaughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing) who recently gets herself in trouble with Wong, he searches for American con artist Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville), a witness to a murder that Wong has committed in his casino.  After Benny retrieves Connor from Russian mobsters in Siberia, circumstance forces them to take the long and scenic route back to Hong Kong, crossing the steppes of Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and China’s countryside, with Chinese and Russian mobsters hot on their trails.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Jeff Dunham Is a Comedy Genius

Ventriloquism and comedy aren’t an unusual mix.  Actually, almost all – if not all – ventriloquist acts I’ve seen are comedic in nature.  But there’s something about Jeff Dunham that made me feel as if I’m seeing ventriloquism comedy for the first time.  He’s that remarkably talented and innovative.

I first learned of him years ago.  I read an article listing the most viewed (or most popular? I forgot) videos in Youtube, and a clip from Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity was in it.  That clip was the debut of Achmed the Dead Terrorist.  When the puppet greeted everyone, “Good evening… infidels!”, I immediately burst out laughing.  From that moment on, Jeff’s sets constantly have me in stitches.  I’ve since watched his specials Jeff Dunham: Arguing with Myself, Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity, Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special, Jeff Dunham: Controlled Chaos, Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters, Jeff Dunham: All Over the Map, and Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood as well as many of his videos in Youtube.

Monday, September 19, 2016

'Alice Through the Looking Glass' Is Delightful Madness

Right off the bat, let me say that I liked Alice Through the Looking Glass.  And not in a “so bad, it’s good” way like I did with other movies of the same nature (e.g. Pan and The Huntsman: Winter’s War).  It’s not brilliant, but I legitimately enjoyed it as what it intended to be and what it is.

I extremely love Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (also known as Alice in Wonderland) and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, which this movie is very loosely based from.  It’s the first novel that I’ve ever read (my copy has both books in it), and I credit it for jump-starting my lifelong love for reading and collecting novels.  I’ve read it many times over.  I also enjoyed watching many of its screen adaptations – from the classic Disney animated film to the 1999 Hallmark TV movie to the brilliant anime series Alice in Wonderland (or Fushigi no Kuni no Alice), which is an overlooked gem.

Heck, my favorite photo of my sister is that of the time she had to dress up as Alice in school.  I simply can’t stress enough how I deeply love Alice in Wonderland

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Top 10 Bankai in 'Bleach'


Much excitement is stirred whenever a character in Bleach utter that word, especially for the first time.  It’s easily one of the best things about this manga/anime.  As the ultimate evolution of the Zanpakutō, it’s expected to be large, flashy, and amazing.  Oftentimes, a Shinigami is at his or her most badass whenever he or she activates his or her Bankai.

One of my biggest disappointments with the way Bleach wrapped up is how it ended with several notable characters’ Bankai still remaining unrevealed.  Anyway, unless the last arcs of Bleach are still going to be adapted into anime and the unrevealed Bankai are going to be shown there for the first time – something very unlikely at this point – then that means all Bankai that were set to be revealed in the narrative, incomplete they may be (arg!), are now available on hand.  And from those, I picked my top 10 favorites.

Same with my list on Shikai, these are all based on my personal preference, after weighing in each Bankai based on – let me just copy-paste what I wrote there – “not only its raw power, but also how well it impacted the narrative, how gratifying was the delivery of its initial revelation and subsequent appearances, how kickass and efficient it was wielded by its Shinigami and how much it added to his or her characterization, and, of course, how stylish its design is.”

Wielder: Tōshirō Hitsugaya
Though I was actually more impressed when Tōshirō revealed his Shikai for the first time than when he did with his Bankai, it’s nonetheless one of the most notable Bankai in Bleach.  Not only does it give Tōshirō ice wings, increased freezing power, and the ability to cast a variety of ice attacks, but it also allows him to create out of ice a life-like image of himself which he uses as a decoy in the latter part of battles since it can only fool an opponent once.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top 10 Shikai in 'Bleach'

Bleach just ended a month ago in a saddening, unsatisfactory manner.  But there was a time when it was a terrific, badass anime/manga.  And one significant reason that made it so is the surprises and excitement brought by the Zanpakutō, the Shinigami’s weapon that takes the form of a katana, wakizashi, nodachi, or tantō when sealed.  So even if I hated what Bleach had eventually become, for the sake of the great thrill and enjoyment it had delivered to its fandom when it was at the top of its game, I want to somewhat pay homage to it by listing my most favorite Zanpakutō releases.

For this post, I will first enumerate the top 10 Shikai – the first released form of the Zanpakutō – that I liked the most.  A list for my favorite Bankai – the second and ultimate form of the Zanpakutō – is set for another post.  So, in this sense, this is a two-parter.

I ranked them based on my personal preference.  I considered not only its raw power, but also how well it impacted the narrative, how gratifying was the delivery of its initial revelation and subsequent appearances, how kickass and efficient it was wielded by its Shinigami and how much it added to his or her characterization, and, of course, how stylish its design is.

Wielder: Kensei Muguruma
Release command: “Blow it away.”
When a Shikai is released, the Zanpakutō often becomes longer or bigger.  But in the case of Kensei Muguruma’s Tachikaze, it shortens from a wakizahi into a combat knife.  I find that unique and appealing.  Moreover, Kensei wields his combat knife with as much intimidating presence as any Shinigami with a sword has.  The form of his Shikai gives Kensei, especially as a Visored, an air of someone being in the Special Forces.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' Is a Serviceable Comedy Movie

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a comedy about party-loving brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) whose antics tend to cause trouble during family gatherings.   With their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) Hawaiian wedding coming soon, their family orders them to bring respectable dates so that they will be obliged to behave during the occasion.  The brothers begins their search by placing an ad on Craigslist, which goes viral and even results to them appearing on a talk show.

Meanwhile, Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick) are slacking, party-loving bestfriends who have just been fired from their waitressing job.  They see the brothers on TV and realize that the free Hawaiian vacation is exactly what they need.  They pose as well-educated, upright girls and succeed in charming the boys to choose and invite them.  However, once they arrive at Hawaii, the girls’ true colors gradually become apparent.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

'Doctors' Is a Middling Medical Drama

My expectation for Doctors was that it was going to be a remarkable medical thriller.  But though some interesting medical cases were touched upon, Doctors is no thriller at all.  It’s primarily a romantic drama which happens to have doctor characters and set in a hospital.  The medical aspect felt incidental.

The series is about two neurosurgeons who first met when the girl (Park Shin-hye) was still a high school student with a gangster personality and the man (Kim Rae-won), a freshly minted doctor taking a sabbatical, was her Biology and homeroom teacher.  The teacher influenced and inspired her to redirect the path of her life to a meaningful direction.  However, circumstances led them to have somewhat of a falling out.  Thirteen years later, they reunite as co-workers in the neurology department of a hospital, reconnect, and start a love affair.