Sunday, October 25, 2009

The price you pay for original?

Caveat emptor... let the buyer beware! According to the Sunday Straits, video stores have been unwittingly peddling pirated wares forged by the Jack Sparrows of the movie industry, whose scanning and Photoshop skills have shown marked improvements.

However, this is not the first time poop like this has happened. Many ages ago, a video store with a name that rhymes with "taser" brought in purportedly original VCDs of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return of the King from Thailand, mere weeks after the theatrical release. Took a while before anyone noticed the aquatic stench, including yours truly, who was at the time just too elated to have the opportunity to revisit Middle Earth at such short notice. The company was slapped with a million-dollar fine for its efforts; unfortunately I can't seem to track down the original news article about this fiasco. Hopefully, the evidences of my gullibility, as pictured on the left, would suffice.

Anyway, the article suggests that we should all become digital artwork analysts and look out for slightly "pixellated" graphics, in order to guard ourselves from these fakes. We know how busy the officials are, catching those pesky teen downloaders and fining holiday-ers who bought the same fake DVDs abroad; we must do our part to protect the billion-dollar movie industry from losing millions. Actually, there is an easier and quicker way to spot a dodgy DVD - if an English movie has big Chinese titles on its cover, avoid buying it. This will reduce your chances of making a bogus buy by about maybe 99, 100%?

Left picture: The Maltese Falcon DVD, a made in Taiwan variant (with an all-English cover art) sold at Suntec Carrefour for a measly S$6.99...

Err... Then again, maybe not.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review: Up

To my dear brother Will2k who fell asleep during The Mummy 3...

Saw "Up". You won't fall asleep on this one. In fact, bring extra tissues.

Pixar has done it again, again, again, etc. Shit, can they not fail? Maybe they should fail once, so that at least I don't have to say "they have done it again" once again.

It's one of those good movies where there's no point talking about it since it only ruins the experience for those who haven't seen it. All I will say is that a small chunk of it was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's "Laputa: Castle in the Sky", but the rest of the magic is pure Pixar effort.

A bit surprised how Up is startlingly similar to Gran Torino's old white geezer meets Asian kid and both learn life lessons plot, complete with dogs, but with more balloons and lesser guns.

Seems like the best movie directors nowadays all work for Pixar. The rest of the crap goes to Hollywood. Easily, best movie of the year before seeing The Hurt Locker, District 9, and Inglourious Basterds.

Anyway, "Up" is two thumbs way up, with balloons tied to my thumbs.

55 MINUTES LATER: I just read The Outlaw Vern's review, and realised he has beaten me to the Gran Torino reference. So, credit is given where credit's due.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Review: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen

Some time has passed since the events of the previous Transformers movie. After the defeat and death of Megatron, "transformers" from every corner of the universe, Autobots and Decepticons alike, started making their way to planet Earth en masse. The humans recruited the Autobots to hunt and destroy the Decepticon nuisance, while trying to keep their existence under wraps from the public. Things start to get more complicated when an ancient Decepticon who calls himself "The Fallen" appears, looking for a Decepticon weaponry long hidden somewhere on Earth that could potentially destroy the world.

Transformers 2, or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen still possesses all the problems from its predecessor, and worse. The comedy that held up the entertainment factor of the first one has deteriorated in quality in the second. With lesser good laughs, the second movie leans more heavily on the other major aspects - action, acting and story - but there isn't a marked improvement on these either. The action is still a mess, no thanks to the convoluted designs of the robots, where it is still very difficult to make out the head from the feet, especially when the robots are on the move. The camera does not jerk around as much, but it's just a mild compromise. Shia LaBeouf is less goofy and more serious and heroic and dramatic, a development that shortchanges on his character's core appeal. Megan Fox had more to do in the first one despite being objectified as a sexual conquest for the hero. Here, she's just purely an object positioned here for maximum oogling satisfaction. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers 2 confuses plot convolution with sophistication, making a baffling mess out of what is simply a "Decepticons want to destroy the world" tale. And finally, the robots are still relegated to supporting duties when they're actually the real stars of the show.

But the thing that finally derails the movie are the two blatantly racist depiction of African Americans via two twin robot characters, who sport gold-capped teeth, cuss a lot, and act like sub-intelligent buffoons. There are so many ways to make these characters more endearing and likeable (they're the good guys after all), but the filmmakers just had to make them as obnoxious as possible. However, the real "icing" on this putrid cake is when they introduce fan favourite Transformer, the Devastator, a gargantuan and destructively powerful Decepticon that is actually a formation of several construction vehicle-themed Transformers, only to have his awesomeness crash down several notches by letting the twins almost nearly defeated him. - BMF

Directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, The Island) and written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, (Transformers, Mission: Impossible 3, The Legend of Zorro) and Ehren Kruger(Blood and Chocolate, The Brothers Grimm). Stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White and Glenn Morshower. Voiced by Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Tony Todd and Frank Welker.