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Nothing tells victory other than walking with a backdrop of fire, smoke and explosion

Based on a novel, “I Am Number Four” is a teen action science fiction film that might be identical with “Twilight”, except that we’re not talking about vampires we’re talking about aliens.

In my childhood days, aliens are supposed to have deformed bodies, numerous eyes, extended parts and, in most cases, inaudible languages. But in this film, “I Am Number Four” shows aliens as well-fed, well-trained human figure with mystic powers. I reckon they are attempting to revolutionize the people’s perspective on aliens like “Twilight” did with vampires – except of running away from the fangs they come straight towards it.

Like “Twilight”, the main character is in High School named John Smith (a.k.a. Number Four), an alien that came from Planet Lorien. Their planet is destroyed and their being hunted down by another race for no particular reason. (The story says it’s not for colonial reason, what then . . . for fun?).  There are nine of them in total. Number one, two and three are dead. Who’s next? Go figure.

In order to protect them, “aliens” have babysitters (a.k.a. Guardians), which is ironic since these babysitters don’t have any powers except knowing hand-to-hand combats and having a piece of glowing dagger. They can’t fly, run fast or lift a refrigerator. How can these “babysitters” compete with villains who have laser guns, ginarmous winged beasts and an uncommonly sense of smelling? Continue Reading »

Unknown: Take back your life

Martin Harris falls off from the bridge

AFTER FOUR days from a car accident, Martin Harris wakes up on a coma and learns that someone has stolen his identity and not even his wife identifies him and that someone is trying to kill him. He solves the puzzle with the help of a young female driver, an inspector and a long-time friend but finds out it is never a puzzle to begin with.

With this mystery thriller, Liam Neeson once again pulls off his worried but stern face like that of his Taken (2008), you just know that things are getting serious. But instead of him chasing someone he is the one being chased down.

Although this is a thriller and this is Liam Neeson, you don’t get much bare bone until the climax. What can you expect from a biochemist being hunted, throwing some chemicals? It is surprising, however, that when he punches it comes out naturally.

Film veterans says this isn’t authentic, and gladly refers several films. I talked to my cousins and he said they are similar films made earlier. Despite this disappointment, the film earned high enough to make a second movie. Although, a sequel isn’t necessary since at the end it gives you this happily-ever-after feeling.  Continue Reading »

IN THE flirty world out there, you have to battle your way through perfumes, dresses, shoes and other glamorous things that would lure a lovely man into your cage. But as painful as it is, age is a valuable asset and being in your thirties is as hard as you can get. In this age bracket, we meet Bridget Jones, 32, who seeks a functional relationship and tries to improve herself based on her New Year’s Resolution.

An eager fan of Jane Austen, Helen Fielding outlined her novel “Bridget Jone’s Diary” with that of “Pride and Prejudice.” We see the characters of Mr. Wickham as Daniel Cleaver, a carefree and selfish man and Mr. Darcy as Mark Darcy, a highly educated and respectable man. In the story, the two has also unsettled accounts and later in the film they find themselves hitting each other in the streets, which would lead to a background music of “It’s raining men”.

As for Elizabeth Bennet’s character, she is no longer shy and constrained woman. Things have changed. Bridget is battling not the economic problems but couple problems. She has been teased over and over again by her relatives, mostly by her mother, and every year they try to set something up to her. She is so happy when she gets laid that she calls herself as a “sex goddess”. Continue Reading »

Students praising their teacher

“DEAD POET Society” is a story about a poetry teacher who inspires his students to seize the day (Carpe Diem) and how students apply it to their lives.

In one of his classes, John Keating (Robin Williams) asks his students, “Language was developed for one endeavour, and that is?” to which a student answers, “to communicate” but Keating rebukes him and replies, “No! To woo women.” This is one of Keating’s unconventional ideas. On his first session of the semester, he tells his students to rip off the textbook’s introduction, which says that poetry can be judge through a scale. I would love to sit in one of Keating’s classes, his one of those teachers who thinks beyond the books.

Even though he started his career being a stand-up comedian and was known for that genre, Williams shows that he can do drama and can juggle both. He funnily mimics Shakespeare plays and later cries when a tragedy strikes, showing that he is still vincible. Continue Reading »

Becoming the mockinjay by ripaille-d39g5cw

SUZANNE COLLINS ends her epic Hunger Games Trilogy with Mockingjay, where instead of hunting in the woods, collecting leaf samples and flirting with teenage boys, Katniss is now leading a revolution.

So it seems that our heroine is on the verge of selflessness – a feeling that teenagers rarely feel. She agrees, after some conditions, to stage a mock-up televise footage that shows the impoverished districts are capable of overthrowing the dictatorial capitol. Despite her image to be strong, reliable and stable, Katniss knows deep within herself that she is weak, fragile and inconsistent. This is obvious when she sees Peeta being held captive.

At best, Collins maintains the readers’ attention, keeps the pace of the suspense – not giving less and not giving much. But let’s cut to the crap, shall we? The book is a thrilling experience except when you get to the last few chapters. Everyone knows that the grand finale will come through the face-off of Katniss and President Snow, the capitol leader. (Even Collins knows that.) But no, we don’t get that and in fact, the replacement is not any better.

Imagine that you have a computer with an i7 core processor and happily watching Blu-ray Discs, editing summer vacation photos and perhaps killing splicers from Bioschock 2. In the next day, your supplier tells you that this is even better and hands you instead a Pentium-powered computer that can barely run Photoshop.  That’s what happened at the end of “Mockinjay.” You just can’t believe it happened. Continue Reading »

Eat my dust

“TRON:LEGACY” is a film you might describe as a perfect treatment from your stress-related jobs or stress-related homework, whichever is more applicable. With its vibrant visual and a one-dimensional plot, this film tells the story of Sam Flynn having a rescue operation for Kevin Flynn, his father, who is trapped in the digital world.

I bet it’s a hard-core gamer’s dying wish to replace their RPG characters and actually play their favorite games – slaying dragons, dodging fire balls and saving damsel in distress. But of course, for now that is impossible. Given the modern technology, however, and creative artists, they can have a feel of what would it look like through Disney’s Tron:Legacy, a sequel that made the dying fans of the first movie “Tron” squeal for joy.

Sorry, I can’t tell where “Tron” left off because it is a 1982 film, an era that is beyond my age of birth and field of interest. But I heard it follows through the storyline and gives justice to the whole story. Still I don’t know to what extent.

In the early scene, Kevin (Jeff Bridges) narrates a bedtime story for his son that he had an invention that could change the human kind called The Grid, a digital world that has an endless flow of information and possibilities. (He is, perhaps, dreaming of the internet.) The next day, however, the news reports that he is nowhere to be found and his company is now pointing hands of who is the next CEO, and not the culprit. This left his son as an orphan but after twenty years finds a portal that leads to that digital world and eventually to his father. Continue Reading »

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka

CHOCOLATE IS made from cocoa that is pounded and liquified and further heated up and mixed with other tasty ingredients (talked about milk and vanilla), materialized by a container and the end result is either a chocolate bar, chocolate candy, chocolate cake and chocolate toothpaste – kids are getting desperate. Did you know that the single most culprit for cavity and eventually toothache is chocolate?  Most likely if you eat chocolate for one year straight you end up wearing dentures. Plus, you’d be in insomnia since chocolate is known for a source of quick energy. Would you believe me if I told you that what I have written above is all made up?

But we’re not talking about chocolates or cavities – too gross for a subject. That is just my excuse for an introductory paragraph.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a film based on a children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl. It starred by Freddie Highmore (“August Rush”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”) and Johnny Depp (no need for reference), also includes the actress Helena Bonham Carter, and directed by Tim Burton. By now you have the idea of what the film will look like: unique, acidic, nostalgic, creepy. But of course, the calibre is narrowed so as not to scare children, who may droll over the luscious chocolates offered in the story.

Did you ever wonder that almost all of Tim Burton’s successful films include Johnny Depp? That’s because they are close friends and so Burton knows exactly what kind of character fits Depp. Think “Sweeney Todd” and “Edward Scissorhands”.

The film begins with a preview of how the chocolates are made inside the Wonka’s chocolate factory, all powered by machine except the owner himself, Willy Wonka (Depp). Not for long, we learn why. On the peak of Wonka’s career, his competitors frowned because they didn’t have a market to share. They sent spies and collected Wonka’s secret ingredients. Soon, they managed to create competitive products and the monopoly was over. This disheartened Wonka and blamed the event to his disloyal workers. From then on, he decided to operate alone. Continue Reading »

Image by life serial

WE HAVE  a copy of this book on the school library, which is weird since when I look up at the database there were no copies of “The Hunger Games” or “Mockingjay”. Not to mention, we are over several thousands of students in the school and I manage to get my hands on “Catching Fire”, one of the trendy series this days and is evident on the upcoming film adaptation. I guess I’m destined to read this book. (Ha! Dream on.)

Recap: Hunger Games is the annual activity of the capitol, the government, which showcases 24 tributes as they kill each other for everybody’s entertainment. The one who survives simply gets the liberty of living his life.

After she survived the Hunger Games, Katniss and her family have the luxury to sleep on a well-kept house, eat three times a day, drink a clear water, watch television (television is a rarity on poor households) and in some days, hunt in the woods. Since Katniss victory, there are some unsettled events such as Peeta’s affection, Gale’s identity, and most of all the capitol’s reputation. The capitol, specifically President Snow, is disturbed with Katniss’ recent action in the Hunger Games, her act of rebellion gives hope to defy the capitol. It is in this reason that Snow visits Katniss and warns her that she should act amiably about the situation or else . . . you know the drill.

One of the common traits of a compelling storyteller is his ability to conjure conflicts. Harry Potter, for instance, has to face the greatest, wicked wizard of all time. Ender Wiggin has to defeat an entire fleet of alien warships. Suzie Salmon has to reconcile with her past and move one. The closest writer I have ever come across to provide genuine conflicts is Suzanne Collins. She torns Katniss for suspense and still manages to grace her for sympathy. Katniss is entitled to mentor in this upcoming Hunger Games and the soon-to-be tributes will once again break her heart. If you guess her younger sister or her childhood lover, I’m sorry but your hunch is wrong. I dare say the next participants are beyond your wildest imagination.

I’m glad that despite the intense events, “Catching Fire” doesn’t losses the touch of being a young adult. You still see Katniss as a teenager, confused whose love to accept and to reject. She is still emotional and can’t rationalize actual events. In short, she is flawed and I’m grateful with that. At least, despite the gender differences, I can still relate. Continue Reading »

On her early years, Dren is homeschooled

TWO GENETIC Engineers, Clive and Elsa, are making a creature from a different pool of animal DNAs that could suffice research and development of medicine, say, a cure for cancer. The creature actually has a name, Ginger. Now, Ginger is made from countless studies and hefty sum of money. As you all know, genetic engineered organism has lower life span and it would be a great loss both for the corporation and the scientist to see that happen. Remember the first cloned sheep Dolly? So they create Fred, a male version, who is supposed to mate with Ginger and produce off springs.

Then something went wrong. (Of course something should go wrong, how else could the story go on? Sorry I’m just messing with myself.)  When Ginger and Fred is presented with the shareholders, something like, “Behold, the creature that will change the face of the Earth!”, they somehow disliked each other, I’m understating the word disliked they did much worse than that. It is a big let down and the project is about to be terminated. But of course, geeky scientist won’t let that happen especially if they spent their whole life to the project, working for perfection. Continue Reading »

English messing around with his contact

THE JAMES-BOND spy spoof film is back after 7 years of hibernation. For some reason Johnny English, the simpleton spy,  is now in Tibet together with a bunch of monks.  He is in some sort of total isolation, finding his mind apart from his body and practicing some weird activities like getting his genetalia resistant to any foreign power (which proved helpful in his final confrontation with the antagonist).

This isn’t the sort of film I enjoyed watching in the theater. Its funny and all especially the stunning performance of Rowan Atkinson, who still haven’t lost his charm on slapstick comedy. Some plot-points get worn-out like the dialogue of English, “Am I ready master?” with a serious look on his face and his masters snaps “No”. I was perhaps looking forward for a total laughing gas but I only got a fart (though equally funny) in between the scenes. We’re talking about Rowan Atkinson here, the legendary Mr. Bean who revolutionize comedy TV series. Continue Reading »

I read somewhere that if you want to enhance your brain in a playful way without going through cumbersome processes, read detective stories.

“Father Brown Stories” is penned by G.K. Chesterton, a renowned writer during the early 1990’s due to his works regarding philosophy, theology and literature, to name a few. The book is a collection of short stories about a detective priest, Father Brown, a short plump man who have a keen sense of unveiling mysteries. He is not officially a “detective”, but because of many cases he solved he is more than qualified to be one. On the “Queer Feet”, he solved a case by listening to someone’s feet!

It is exciting to see a priest being a detective, I reckon Father Brown is the first of its kind. Priest is one of the dullest occupation there is. I’m not degrading the quality of worship to God, or discouraging you, but you have to agree reading the same book every year, conducting masses every Sunday, secluding your self daily (hourly)for solitary prayer, hearing not-of-your-business confessions knock the adventure in you (or is it just me?) However, Chesterton makes the character of a priest exciting and engaging rather than boring you to sleep in the pew. He solves problem and still manages to mix valuable life lessons. (I hope I didn’t sound blasphemous.)

G.K. Chesterton is a prolific writer. According to Wikipedia, he has written “around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays.” Yes that is some numbers, I doubt if I can ever reached that record even though I started writing at a young age.

He starts every story in cinematic effect. I call it cinematic for one the narration reads like a script and the other is he doesn’t start at Father Brown directly. Chesterton, in most cases, defers his protagonist’s appearance to the end or in the middle. In the very first story, “The Blue Cross”, the whole narration follows another detective and ends in conclusion of Father Brown.

Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton’s semi-poetic writing style has attracted many of his contemporary writers. He has a rather unusual pool of phrases. In fact, G.K. Chesteron’s phrases has been quoted many times already. One of his phrase has been the basis of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited and countless detective TV series.

One might consider his works already a classic since they have been alive for a century. The only problem of the stories is that it is very formulaic. Most of the story starts by the execution of crime and Father Brown explains the solution in a deep words and since the time era is different, I sometimes have trouble comprehending the word structure . Even the people around him, which some of them are dying to hear the answer, are confused or annoyed by not getting direct to the point. That said I don’t favor all the stories. My fault is I can’t justify how good Chesterton’s detective stories since this is my first detective book. I have yet to read other books, say, Sherlock Holmes and Thursday Next to permit a reasonable judgment.

The stories are compiled into five volumes, but I only read the first two. The good news is you only have to read the first story, The Blue Cross, to know if you like Father Brown or not and the better news is that it is available in the internet. Read it here.

I Own An Elephant

I own an elephant since I was in highschool. It is big and disturbing. Sometimes I walk it in school, inside the classroom, inside the library, with my friends, with my family, with strangers but mostly I don’t. I always have to remind myself how big and disturbing it is.

I received the elephant on a car accident. It was raining and so I hardly saw the road. Before I knew it, I was running towards a car. I was badly injured. My left leg was almost ripped into half, all my fingers was gnarled, my broken ribcage implied I could no longer swim, my throat screamed its last scream. And the elephant, as a gift from the offender, would remind me of that dreadful accident. My parents were the least thankful.

Since the accident, my life changed dramatically. When somebody saw the elephant, they too would be reminded of that accident and gave me a pity look together with a reassuring smile. My family exempted me from any exhausting chores. Gone are the days of lifting the garbage bin or carrying the pale of water. The school gave me a special treatment. Its either I will be the first person to get the freshly cooked lunch or the last person to pass a test paper. One would think that was a blessing in disguise. The one, however, is not the injured. For the injured, the blessing can’t still compensate for the pain.

Today, I am walking my elephant. It would be odd in particular days but today is not a particular one. I will be having a presentation of my thesis for the next hour. I can’t talk without the elephant, I became dependent on it. It is worsed than a trauma, this phenemenon is untreatable. Unless, of course, if the heavens go crazy, then I’ll utter my dying wish.

When I enter the classroom, all is in place. My teacher, my technical devices and my classmates. I walk towards the center of the classroom as soon as my name is called. I flip through my note cards and begin my presentation. It is after fifteen minutes when I heard one of my classmates rustling over the back of the classroom and mimicking my voice. I am quite grateful for it. Usually, it takes them only three minutes before they start mocking me. At least now, I made my premise. My teacher didn’t flinch. As usual, he is showing his professionalism, just doing nothing. When my presentation is finish and after some phony bows, I immediately walk out from the classroom. I can’t bear the view anymore.

The scenery always happens when I’m with my elephant. One would have thought that I had gotten over it and people would have been tired teasing me. However, the one hasn’t realized how piercing every smirks and laughs I received. This kind of pain didn’t diminish over time.

There is, however, another reason why I am with my elephant. My book club is having a discussion about “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold and I am tasked to be a discussion leader. I review again my note cards and begin the discussion. I start with the objective questions working up to the intimate ones. They all listen intently to my words, as if missing one word would deprive them of a valuable information. All participated in the discussion, which I am happy for. When the discussion is over, almost all of the members pat my back and praise for the good work and worthwhile session. I smile and return back the favor.

My classmates loath my elephant but my book club appreciates it. That explains the old adage of “you can’t please everybody”. I’m just glad that there is somebody who appreciates elephants, my elephant.

Typical Public Classroom

On October 5, 2010, Department of Education shocks students, teachers, academe, workers, officials, laymen and, especially, the now-troubled parents when it announces to adopt a K+12 Education System. The news is flashed on every television networks and remains as a front page on national newspapers for several weeks. It has also been the most discussed topic on debates.
The K+12 will replace the current 10-year school cycle of primary education for 12 years. Under this program, a 4-year-old child goes for Kindergarten for 1 year, 6 years for Elementary, 4 years for Junior High School and 2 years for Senior high school before the admission for college.

The government says that a reform on education is “urgent and critical”. Assuming that the public statistics provided is all with God’s truth, Philippines, DepEd tells us, has been lagging behind on standardized test. On 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, for instance, in Second Year High school we ranked 34th  out of 38 countries on Math, in Grade 4 we ranked 23th out of 25 countries and on 2008 results, we were not even worth mentioning – we came last. Not to mention the 2008 scores were from the science high schools, which is the most advanced high school in the country. This results are blamed to the current basic education, “designed to teach a 12-year curriculum, yet it is delivered in just 10 years” and concludes how low the quality of Philippine education is. Problems have also aroused when Filipino professionals, mostly engineers, were not accepted in international jobs reasoning that the 10-year curriculum is “insufficient”.

The additional two years of the curriculum is spent on mastering the previous lessons and the program also offers “areas of specialization or electives” in this period such as accounting, music, arts, agriculture, entrepreneurship, welding, electricity but mostly in technical and vocational skills. High school graduates then in this program, of the age between 17 and 18,  are fully matured to enter college and fully capable for employment, as psychologists claims. College graduates, in turn, will also be globally competitive for the said curriculum are practiced on most countries. However, despite the encouraging facts, people  still remain doubtful. Continue Reading »

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