Saturday, July 02, 2016

Chain on Thoughts on Gilas Pilipinas Before the FIBA OQT Starts

The 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament – wherein three countries host three simultaneous contests to determine three wildcard teams for the basketball tournament competition in the Rio Olympics next month – is just a few days away.  As one of the host countries and the runner-up from last year’s FIBA Asia (which China cheated won), the Philippines is set to compete in it.  As a Filipino hoops fan, I’ve some thoughts on the matter…

Thursday, June 30, 2016

'Green Room' Has the Premise of a Genre Exploitation Film but Actually Delivers the Thrills in a Smart Way

Green Room is the final film to be released that Anton Yelchin starred in before a freak accident killed him earlier this June (he’s also in a few more films set for posthumous releases, most prominently Star Trek Beyond).  Yelchin is – was – one of the currently working actors I like.  I love his portrayal of Odd Thomas (one of my most favorite fictional characters ever).  I also enjoyed him as Chekov in the nu-Star Trek movies, and as the unlikely vampire hunter Charley Brewster in the Fright Night remake.  I proceeded to watch Green Room primarily for the sake of seeing one of his final film appearances.  Plus, the buzz is that it’s actually quite good.

The film tells the story of a down-on-their-luck punk rock band – consisting of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner) – that gets booked to play a gig at an isolated, dilapidated bar frequented by skinheads and other white supremacist-type thugs.  After finishing their set, the band is about to leave when they witness a horrible crime that they aren’t supposed to see.  They next find themselves trapped backstage fighting for their lives against a neo-Nazi gang led by Darcy (Sir Patrick Stewart), the ruthless owner of the bar.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chain of Thoughts: Excited for 'The Dark Tower' and 'It' Film Adaptations

I’m eagerly looking forward to the upcoming film adaptations of two of my all-time favorite Stephen King books: "The Dark Tower" and "It."  I have some few musings…

Sunday, June 26, 2016

With 'Allegiant', 'The Divergent Series' Just Keeps Getting Worse

Hey, what do you know, I actually found the time to watch The Divergent Series: Allegiant, a 2016 movie that I had no interest of watching in the first place.  Last year’s Insurgent didn’t do well in hyping this movie.  And in turn, Allegiant did nothing to make next year’s Ascendant, the final installment of the series (Allegiant was originally intended to be titled Allegiant Part 1 – as stretching the last book into two parts is what’s usual of these YA novel film adaptations – but the studio decided to just simply title this movie Allegiant and make “Allegiant Part 2” into Ascendant), intriguing.

In fact, this franchise is getting worse with each new installment.  If Insurgent was mediocre but watchable, Ascendant was just painfully bland.  There were stretches of this movie that my mind just blanked out.  I kid you not.  The narrative is just too dull that entire scenes passed before my eyes without my mind processing to understand what had happened.  And I was just too apathetic to care that I missed chunks of the plot.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

'Lego DC Superheroes: Justice League: Gotham City Breakout' Gives an Amusing Shared Backstory to Batman and Deathstroke

After Cosmic Clash, the other Lego DC Superheroes: Justice League movie for this year is Gotham City Breakout (I don’t know if there’s another one; it’s usually two movies a year).  The plot is about Batman being convinced to go in a vacation with Nightwing and Batgirl, while Superman looks after Gotham City in his absence.  However, Batman’s vacation doesn’t go as expected as they find themselves dealing with Deathstroke and his unlikely allies.  Meanwhile, Superman’s stint in Gotham also doesn’t go as easily as he thought it would be.  Batman’s villains break out from Arkham and overrun the city.  Superman underestimates them due to their lack of powers, but they turn out being too weird for the Justice League to handle.  It’s now up to Robin to teach the heroes how to handle the villains the Batman way.

Friday, June 24, 2016

'Eye in the Sky' Gives Us a Cerebral Look on Drone Operations as Well as Alan Rickman's Swan Song

I haven’t seen it yet, but the consensus for Alice Through the Looking Glass is that it’s messy and lacks substance.  Thus, that easily makes Eye in the Sky the superior posthumous film starring the beloved Alan Rickman (who just died earlier this year).

Eye in the Sky centers on a joint operation by the UK, the US, and Kenya.  The mission is to capture high-level members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group who will have a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.  Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) overseas the operation at Northwood Headquarters, England, while reporting to her supervisor, Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), who is in Cabinet Offices Briefing Room ‘A’ (COBRA), London, England with British government officials serving as witnesses.  A USAF Reaper drone being piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, USA provides aerial surveillance (the so-called “eye in the sky”).  Facial recognition of targets is conducted by a base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Kenyan Special Forces are on standby, ready to make the capture, while undercover Kenyan field agents, including insectothopter handler Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi), are on site for ground intel.  Unfortunately, complications escalate the mission objective into one that requires a drone strike and the participants have to struggle with the political and ethical implications of its execution.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

'Signal' Is an Impactful Crime Drama

Signal’s premise reminds me a lot of the 2000 American movie Frequency.  I haven’t confirmed it yet, but I can almost guarantee that the creator of this series was inspired or influenced some way by that movie.  Regardless if that hypothesis is correct or not, the striking premise was what intrigued me to watch it in the first place.  And it turned out being the best K-drama series I’ve seen this year so far.  It’s in a completely different level from the rest.

The series centers on two detectives, Park Hae-young (Lee Je-hoon) and Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong), who communicate through time via a mysterious walkie talkie.  Hae-young is a police lieutenant/criminal profiler in 2015 whose bad experiences with the police as a kid made him bitter and contemptuous with them despite becoming one himself.  One night, he gets hold of a strange walkie talkie that allows him to do the impossible: communicate with a cop from the past named Lee Jae-han.  Due to their first exchange, Hae-young is able to assist veteran detective Cha Soo-hyun (Kim Hye-soo) in bringing closure to a fifteen-year-old kidnap-murder case, which prompted the immediate creation of a cold cases squad with Soo-hyung as leader and Hae-young as profiler.  From then on, Hae-young and Jae-han make use of the uncanny means of communication that fate has given to them to solve cold cases or stop the crimes from being committed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' Introduced Me to the Talents of The Lonely Island

I’ve never been a fan of Andy Samberg.  I liked his voice work on the Hotel Transylvania movies, but he never struck me as someone who can do great comedy.  I saw some of his sketches and roasts, but I was never really impressed.  But Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping did to Samberg – or, more accurately, to the comedy group The Lonely Island, which Samberg is one-third of – what Keanu did for Key & Peele: I became familiar of their comedic talents, and now, they intrigue me.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a mockumentary that satirizes the pop music industry and culture.  It follows the career of a Justin Bieber analogue named Conner Friel (Andy Samberg), who used to be part of an iconic hiphop boy band named The Style Boyz, but became a bigger star as a solo artist named Conner4Real after the band feuded and split up.  Due to the fame and success getting to his head, he started believing that he can do no wrong.  It also doesn’t help that he is surrounded by a huge entourage of “yes men.”  Thus, the inputs on his second album, Connquest, are purely from his poor tastes and incompetent insights, which nobody dared to disagree with.  The album unsurprisingly receives negative reviews and commercially flops.  Desperate to remain in the spotlight, Conner resorts to gimmicks ranging from glitzy to ridiculous.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How Is My 2016 TV Watching So Far

It’s the middle of the year again, and once more, I rank from best to least the TV shows I’ve watched during the first half of the year.  This time I decided to include animated series along with the live-action since this is supposed to give a hint of how my year-end TV show list could turn out, and animated TV series have always been considered for that.

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Sherlock’s New Year’s Day special was the first TV program I watched in 2016.  Half of the year has passed, and it’s still the best of 2016 TV so far.   CLICK HERE for more of my thoughts on it.

The Venture Bros. Season 6
New status quo, still the same quality of hilarity and brilliant writing.  Being one of my most favorite cartoons ever, I was very happy that there was a new season out this year – albeit just another 8-episode one.  It’s so frustrating that each new season takes two to three years to make.  Arg.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fans of the Games Will Love 'Warcraft: The Beginning'

Warcraft III was one of the PC games I loved playing as a teen.  As much as I enjoyed its gameplay (as well as the gameplays of its scenario maps), what really blew me away was the beautiful mythology and the storylines of its campaign.  Since then, I’ve always mused about how awesome it would be if a series of full-length Warcraft movies – animated or otherwise – were to be made.

Thus, when it was announced a few years ago that a Warcraft movie was finally on the way, I was understandably beyond thrilled.  And it became one of the movies scheduled in 2016 that I was greatly looking forward to.