Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts

Monday, August 11, 2008

A pretty good weekend

This weekend has been pretty good for two things: the Beijing Olympics and Singapore's National Day.

In terms of the Olympics, I've been a skeptic since day one. China has been experiencing a PR nightmare since the start of the Tibet incident, but not forgetting the "slavery" fiasco and all those numerous toxic products that got recalled left and right. But I really have to give it to them for the awesome opening ceremony that they put together on Friday. The British will have a tough time trying to outdo the Chinese in the next Olympics. I pray for China that the level of quality and dedication displayed on Friday would eventually spread to other aspects of their lives, and not just on sports, kungfu and Zhang Yimou.

I didn't see the whole Singapore National Day Parade on Saturday, even when it was broadcasted on TV. The Olympics opening ceremony set the bar so high that any parade or fireworks in the near future is going to feel inconsequential. So, rather than form a negative opinion about the NDP from watching it, I chose to avoid watching it. But I did see the NDP theme song video that's been playing on TV, sung in English by Singapore and Asia Idol winner Hady Mirza, and in Mandarin by pop star Joi Chua. And it was good. Like really, really good. Sounds less like an anthem and more like contemporary R&B (well, at least for Hady's rendition), it's catchy, strangely romantic but more importantly it's emotional, and emotions will touch more people than any fakey nationalistic ba-rah-rum-pumming anthem ever could. Joi sang it pretty straight, thus I prefer Hady's R&B spin on it.

I'm crossing my fingers that Malaysia's National Day theme song this year will be just as good. I also hope that the recent National Day budget cut's not going to affect its quality though. Uh-oh...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

High-definition... WTF?!

To me, there's no topic drier than a technical one (although the Tech Freak might disagree), but if you're planning to set up a home theatre system, there is really no escape from it. You might have heard about this whole high-definition (HD for short) craze that's going on, with people hoarding bargain-priced HD televisions (HDTV for short) at tech fairs as much as they do with rice (well, maybe just in Singapore). Then, there was this format "war" going on between the two HD formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. HD who, you say? To many people, they probably thought that Blu-Ray just burst into the scene recently and were oblivious to whatever "war" that was going on. Probably nobody cared too, because some of us are still transitioning from VCDs to DVDs! (Note: DVDs only came into prominence here in the first half of this decade.)

Of course, to fully utilise the prowess of your HDTV, you need to watch something in HD, and that thing could be either a HD channel from free TV or cable, or from a Blu-Ray disc. I don't doubt the awesomeness of watching movies in glorious HD (e.g. the Blu-Ray's resolution is six times better than a DVD's!), but it's still too early to jump on the bandwagon. For one thing, the Blu-Ray library is currently very limited, so a lot of your favourite movies might not be available in this format for years to come. Furthermore, Blu-Ray disc prices are around the range of S$50, compared to Region 3 DVDs, often priced between S$20-S$30. A Blu-Ray player costs around S$600.

Unless you have deep pockets, it's better to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Prices would naturally drop once the Blu-Ray market widens in the next few months, and it's not like the DVD is immensely inferior to Blu-Ray. If you didn't know, there are Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players that can "upscale" your DVDs, or artificially process the video from your DVDs into near-HD video quality, so, don't sell away your precious DVD collection just yet. The best time to start is either in 2009 or 2010. By then, legal movie downloads might have already become the norm, who knows?

Personally, I think the jump to HD is largely unnecessary. Unless you want to examine every pock mark on your favourite celebrity's cheek, the video quality on DVDs are already sufficient. The only time your eyes need the relief of HD video is when you're gaming. Us gamers are all too familiar with the eye-watering blurry graphics of past-gen systems, but the recent crop of HD-supported consoles have significantly lessen the visual strain, and probably improved gamers' endurance for marathon gaming sessions (to the chagrin of some parents, no doubt.)

Note: I never mentioned about Blu-Ray's audio quality because I'm the kind of person who can't tell the difference between 5.1 and DTS except that one is louder than the other. Thus, the prospect of having 7.1 surround sound in my movies isn't exactly something earth-shattering to me. You might want to ask or check out an audiophile's website for more info on this.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The BMF must write more

The great thing about blogs like Alvin Lim's, the authors don't post pictures and videos as much as I do. With Alvin, he writes and draws about office life quite regularly, and generated a lot of feedback and comments from them. So far, the most I've done was to bitch about money and suggest some ways to save them. It's not that I hardly write anything, just that I tend to write reviews more, and they're all located on the main site. The blog is a tool more suited for occasional, random thoughts or important news that needs to be posted up quickly, and recently I didn't have much to share aside from my opinions about the movies I saw. Furthermore, the original plan was to have the Freaks regularly contributing their literary geniuses here, but they have opted to plant their roots on a more liberating and irreverent blogsite. Still, it's not like the BMF Blog is experiencing a dearth of material. I'm still making sure that there's at least one blog update daily, but I'll try to write more and will promise to post less LOLcats pictures.

For your reading pleasure, here are some recommendations for the weekend:


(cribbed from's Hit List)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wii need more, better games

It's a little weird that I start my first rant on a non-movie-related topic, but please bear with me.

Although I've more or less quitted gaming due to budgetary reasons, I still follow the gaming news, play some Zelda, read people's rantings, etc. One of the big developments recently was Sony finally losing the number one mantle to Nintendo, because of one little white box everybody underestimated called Wii.

Firstly, I'd like to clarify that I'm not an ardent supporter of everything Ninten... ok, ok I'm a total Nintendo whore, but it's hard not to be after being so smitten by the two epic Nintendo classics, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario 64, that memories of playing those games still resonate after all these years. It's no surprise then that I was way excited over the revelation of the Wii's unique motion-sensitive controller last year. The new controller suggests a million new ways to play video games, especially first-person shooters. Instead of wrestling two short sticks (and your sanity) only to aim at something, you're finally able to just simply and instinctively point and shoot with the Wii controller.

Weeks passed since the launch, and Nintendo released a slew of innovative but cutesy and family-friendly games, putting the special controller to good use. Months go by, still the same type of reflex-orientated games like Warioware and Wii Sports. If not, then it would be ports of existing games from other platforms such as The Godfather and Resident Evil 4. Yeah, there was the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was probably responsible for most of last year's huge Wii sales, but that one's really a Gamecube game and not entirely designed with the Wii in mind (although it would be mindblowing if they did). But, still nothing particularly Wii-centrically mind-blowing.

Elsewhere, Sony's starting to clean up its act by showing off impressive upcoming games like Call of Duty 4, Burnout Paradise, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Little Big Planet, a puzzle-like game that ironically looks like it belongs on a Nintendo console. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Xbox 360 is aggressively vying for the top spot (and looking like they really might) with games such as Rock Band, Grand Theft Auto 4, Project Gotham Racing 4, Mass Effect, BioShock, and of course, Halo 3. But for Nintendo, apart from the next Super Mario and Metroid installments, what's the next best thing we have to look forward to?

Wii Fit, a game that makes you exercise or do yoga. For real.

Okay, we know your in-house games are awesome, and that I'd buy the next Zelda game on the Wii even if I'm forced to eat US-Customs-rejected toxic China-made food to save the money for it. But really, how many times do you think you could get away with just announcing the next Marios, Zeldas and Metroids every single year? No doubt Zelda's still an amazing game, but even a die-hard fan like myself is beginning to notice a slight, stale stench around the fringes. Is it really that difficult to get third party developers to come up with an awesome first-person shooter, instead of yet another generic mini-game collection or kiddie sports/platformer? I still remember how Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and other developers lauded the Wii's innovation in the last E3. So what happened with that then? Are the third party developers shunning the Wii like they did with the N64?

Because of my recent cashless state, I have yet to "choose" my "side" in the next-gen gaming wars. But if Nintendo doesn't buck up by the time the money starts rolling in, I might just invest my money elsewhere, or start appreciating regular, not-made-in-China food. And I doubt I'll be the only Nintendo game fan feeling that way.