Archive for 2008 年 03 月

Movie review – Vantage Point

Haven’t been watching any thrillers for quite some time and so was tempted to watch Vantage Point recommended by girlfriend.

The tagline of this show is “8 strangers, 8 points of view, 1 truth". The main event took place in a town in Spain, where world leaders from Western and Arab nations gathered for a summit on war against terrorism. Right after then mayor’s speech, the president of USA came up to the stage and was shot. Soon after he fell, an explosion was heard a distance away and the stage where the leaders gathered (left soon after the USA president fell) blew up.

This whole series of incidents were first seen through the eyes of Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver), a news producer who was covering the event. Through the few cameramen at her disposal, her perspective of the event provided an initial brief and overall view.

The time is rewinded and now the event unfolds through the eyes of Special Agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid). He is one of the few bodyguards for the president with his partner Agent Taylor (Matthew Fox, “Jack" from series “Lost"). This time, the viewer will get another chance to see the event but with little more details added each time. The event/time is rewinded for 5 times, taking the perspective from Agent Barnes, local policeman Enrique, american tourist Howard (Forest Whitaker), President Ashton and finally that of the terrorists. Only during that perspective of the terrorists do the viewer then see the twist and the plot unfolds.

Storyline – 26/30%

The assassination was just a decoy. One should really watch this show to see how the terrorist managed to out-smart the agents. Not without some high-tech tools too.

Entertainment value – 21/25%

I am quite pleasantly surprised by the way the story unfolds. This Rashomon styled of story-telling is something fresh and new to me. Each time the time rewinds, its like the story changes a little and become something quite different.

Cast – 20/25%

The director originally intended to get some big names for the roles of Agent Barnes, Taylor and president. In my opinion, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox did very well. Having Mel Gibson and Tim Cruise for these roles didn’t really sound right.

Pace/Flow – 18/20%

The pace of the show was ok at the start, got a little tired at the third rewind but then it grew strongly onwards and the car chase scene really got girlfriend squirming.

Overall: 85%

Do catch this show if you like thrillers even though for 90mins, you are basically going through the same 23mins of event again and again. Well worth my time though in my opinion.

Movie review – The Spiderwick Chronicles

33.3% invited me to watch a free show at Bishan GV. Didn’t have much choices so decide to have The Spiderwick Chronicles (TSC).

TSC is one of those fantasy shows that is set in the modern age but with plenty of magical creatures like Harry Potter. The story starts when a mother, separated from her husband, brought her kids to a old house she inherited. Eldest daughter Mallory and the younger brother twins Simon and Jared (played by same person, Freddie Highmore) are the usual squabbling bickering siblings. Mallory is the bitchy one, Simon is the wimpy one and Jared is the braver kid with some attitude problem.

Simon one day discovered a secret room in the house and while exploring around the room, found the Spiderwick’s Field Guide to Faeries. Ignoring a warning note on the book, he read it and soon found him and his family been attacked by goblins. The goblins chief wanted the guide as it would allow it to have the necessary knowledge about all living stuffs and dominate the world (what kind of book is that?).

So how does this movie fare?

Storyline – 22/30%

The story build-up is good, keeping one in suspense over the fate of the author of the field guide. The viewer can also see how the bickering of the siblings turn into cohesiveness and cooperation. The twist near the end of the show is rather predictable and the ending is pretty abrupt so I did feel the ending lacked some bite.

Entertainment value – 17/25%

Did get pretty irritating some point with the bitchy Mallory and wimpy Simon. But other that that, the show did kept me intrigued as to how to story will go.

Cast – 15/25%

Mallory is the high school girl who most fit the idea of eye candy in the show. I don’t know the actors and actresses in this show but this show is not about the stars, isn’t it?

Pace/Flow – 16/20%

The show is well-paced and keeps the story going without really slowing down.

Overall: 70%

On the whole, i find myself pleasantly surprised by how watchable this show is. Even though the target crowd is mainly the younger generations, adults can give this show a try and will be be disappointed if the expectations are kept low.

There is a moral at the end of the show though, we should not neglect the ones beside us while we become very involved in either work or pursuing an interest. Something at the very least that i get from this show.

Anime review – Appleseed Ex Machina

Ex Machina (actually pronounced as Ex Ma-ki-na) is the sequel to the well-received Appleseed released in 2004. Released only in 20th Oct 2007, we at singapore are pretty late in receiving the official DVD version somewhere mid March. Thanks to my otaku 33.3%, i managed to watch this the same week as Evangelion 1.0.

Appleseed, unknown to many, actually began as a manga from 1985, as did many animations. Pls find out more about Appleseed here if you are not familiar with it.

Ex Machina continues from where Appleseed ended off. The lead protagonist Deunan with her cyborg lover Briareos (i wonder why they design him to look like a rabbit with those ears) are caught in a new terrorist act that not only involved cyborgs but humans as well. They were unable to find out who the mastermind was and things got worse when Briareos himself was affected, once claimed by his doctor was impossible.

Without further ado, lets see how this anime fare.

Storyline – 24 / 30%

Plausible storyline, easy to catch on although it does get a little taxing trying to understand why the mastermind was carrying out this attack. I am not really into all those emotional spiritual stuff so a blur here. Nonetheless, captivating.

Entertainment value – 22 / 25%

Nice fighting scenes and there are some scenes John Woo fans will not be strangers to. Especially when the acclaimed director himself was the producer. Very interesting to watch how Deunan react to her lover lookalike and how the three of them develop.

Graphics – 23 / 25%

Really, they managed to improve on the wonderful work on Appleseed and now the ladies in Ex Machina appeared so flawless and lifelike. This show has really bring the level of animation up to another standard which would be compared to for years to come.

Pace/Flow – 18 / 20%

Barely a down moment. The pace is well rounded with the relationships between Deunan, Briareos and his clone while going on with the bigger plot of the terrorist acts.

Overall: 87%

Anime fans will never miss this great show, both in terms of story and graphics alike. Non anime fans will not be wrong to watch this as this could very well be benchmark for many animes. This is better than the Evangelion 1.0 i watched in the same week, and will most likely make “Brave Story" that i am about to watch very pale in comparison indeed.

Movie review – Evangelion 1.0

Took me some days to get down to writing this review but late better than never rite?

Evangelion 1.0 is part one of a tetralogy (meaning four in total). I guess the second one is named Evangelion 2.0 and so on. A check with Wiki proves i am right.

I shall elaborate a little on what Evangelion is about for the sake of those who are not familiar with this anime series. Originally as manga from 1994 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, it soon became a popular anime series followed by 2 movies (Evangelion: Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion) and now the Rebuild of Evangelion: tetralogy.

The main guy is the show is a 14yr old kid, Shinji Ikari. Constantly emotional, depressed, he is perpetually lacking self-confidence and almost completely anti-social. Sent by his father, whom he has not contact with for a number of years, he was abruptly thrown into a situation to pilot EVAs, hugh mechanical robots (revealed later to be actually something else) to save the world (what else) from Angels (or simply the bad monsters).

The story gets very complicated when explaining why Shinji is chosen for this task, what happened in the past (the First Impact and Second) and the fate and personal story of the other pilots, Rei and Asuka. In Evangelion, there are a lot of incidents linking to the bible and christian stuffs, basically you can say that the producer of this story was somewhat inspired by christianity.

Evangelion 1.0 is something like condensing the first six episodes of the original anime series, which was twenty-six then, and changing some parts of the original. I personally watched the original series at least twice but because i am not really a fan of Evangelion, and given that the last time i watched the series was about ten years back, i cannot really tell the differences. To me, it was like watching the anime series all over again, a more summarized version.

The best part of watching the condensed version is that a whole lot of Shinji’s whining, crying, complaining, bitching about life and his dad are missing. And this really made this show very watchable indeed.

Storyline – 20 / 30%

Nothing much changed from the original, which was quite em, original. Gets very confusing and complicated when it gets to the emotional state of the characters and the deeper meaning behind the story.

Entertainment value – 16 / 25%

A whole lot of effort was put into the building up of the fighting scenes with a whole lot of effort put into the logistics before every fight. Very exciting during those fight scenes but otherwise can get quite boring if you are not really interested in the story and its deeper meaning (like me).

Voiceover – 20 / 25%

Nothing much to complain, nothing much to compliment either.

Pace/Flow – 18 / 20%

Having watched the original series, which was draggy with plenty of sobbing, whining, this condensed version look so much better.

Overall: 74%

Do catch this if you are an anime fan, Evangelion has plenty of cult followers around the world. Even if you are not, this show (and the three following ones) are really a good chance to be able to watch the whole series minus the irritating emo parts.

Looking ahead

Its been quite a busy week for me even though there is one less working day.  Work was hectic but what kept me busy were these.

1) Decided last sunday to either (A) give up keeping that pathetic 2 fishes and keep away the tank for good or (B) do a good job of keeping a tank of fishes and be a responsible pet owner. I couldn’t bear to give up the 2 fishes even though i don’t really love them. Releasing them into the reservoir nearby would mean killing them as the habitat is really too harsh. Couldn’t find anyone to “donate" them to so option (B) will be the only choice.

So i went to the market and bought another 4 red-eyed tetras for 70cents each. They will be joining the one red-eyed tetra and black-tailed red tetra i am having.

After the addition, i still felt that something is lacking so went down on wednesday to buy another 3 danios and one water plant on log. Will post the pictures of the new tank layout soon.

2) My desktop was in my room. The tower was stashed away in some corner and so the wireless reception of the internet had always been poor, 60%+ on a good day. This meant that my internet isn’t exactly on a fat green pipe. So i moved my desktop out to the living room, hoping to bypass the router for a wired connection.

The wired connection didn’t work for a reason i cannot understand. I still cannot figure it out but decide that moving my desktop out is a bad idea. My parents will be moving around the living room and my screen is in the open. Any pictures, vids or sounds deem indecent by my parents’ conservative mind will mean that i will be forever be labeled as the “dirty one" in addition to my current list of nicks like “stingy one" blah blah. Means i have to give up my collection of japanese entertainment too.

Decided to move back to the room, but not without some re-arranging of the desk and cabinet layout to facilitate the wireless connection.

3) My GF’s computer died on her on wed. Given that the hard-disk (which is the most suspected cause) was already more that normal lifespan of 3 years, she decide to get a new one.

A day later and a new hard-disk become a new desktop. After instructing her for nearly 45min over the phone on how to salvage the video card and ram, i managed to catch the animation “Evangelion 1.0″ with 66.6%.

And so it came that i spent both Good Friday and the following day at Sim Lim Sq buying and setting up her desktop. Beside most of the hardware installation, i was responsible from giving advice, helping to compare prices, a little hardware setup and almost all the software installation. In short i became something like a Dell technician.

Despite all these, i still managed to find some time to watch “Ex Machina" and bought a stainless steel chain (or necklace?) for myself. After i am done with the room shifting tomolo, i shall get down to the movie review of “Evangelion 1.0″, “Ex Machina" and updates of my new tank.

Phew.

Pictures from my new toy – S100fs

Here are some indoor and outdoor pictures taken with the new Fujifilm S100fs.

Used my FF bear as my model.

Some outdoor pics.

And the following three pictures were taken with the Film Simulation bracketing.

First is the Provia (standard).

Provia mode

Next up is the Velvia mode.

velvia

Notice how the colors of the ixora appear stronger in Velvia mode.

Last is Soft mode. The colors are toned down.

soft mode

I have yet got a chance to go somewhere like Sentosa or Botanical gardens where i can really flex my new toy’s muscle. These pictures were taken with on my bed or below my girlfriend’s block of flats. Should be able to do so once the weather clears up.

Stay tuned.

Initial impression of S100fs

I finally get to shoot some pictures today. Was too shagged out yesterday.

I still can’t quite get used to the weight and having to use both of my hands to operate the camera. And i find that the space between the grip and lens is rather cramped.

The whole camera has a solid feel to it. While moving it around, i can feel some little vibrations in it, could be the continuous auto-focus at work. The shutter lag short, and so is the time taken to produce the picture on the LCD screen.

I feel that the LCD screen is something of a let down though. While trying to take close up macro shots, the screen resolution is somewhat disappointing. The resolution is not that good and sometimes it makes me wonder if i have got the focus right or the screen is not good enough.

But as you can see, the picture taken above of my helldiver is better than i could achieve with SP-500.

Now i am only but just an amateur photographer. I do not go in-depth into the science and physics of photography, prefer to have a camera to just point and shoot with occasionally some controls over how i want the picture to be. Was pretty frustrated with SP-500 because i often find it unable to focus, the electronically manual focus is not that good. With this S100fs, i am able to have more control over the focusing. And this is one of the main reasons why i bought this latest from Fujifilm.

Liked the way the colors are produced on this picture. I have heard from 33.3% that Fuji cameras are better than most of the other brands when it come to reproducing colors. The colors from SP-500 are usually pretty soft unless i adjust the saturation.

The S100fs comes with three auto-bracketing function. One allows me to take the same picture in their Provia, Velvia and Soft settings. Another one allows me to take in three dynamic mode, will try out and post some pics here later.

So far, i am quite impressed with this S100fs. The amount of controls i can have is way more than SP-500 (or some will argue that i have yet mastered the Olympus) but i find myself learning again. It actually feels good to learn how to take pictures with this camera.