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Spellbound-018

OFFERING A mix of horror and comedy, Spellbound (2011) is a lighthearted romantic comedy, who doesn’t offer much conflict but is surprisingly entertaining.

To be upfront, what sets this film from other films is that it effectively handles horror and comedy. As you may observe, that rarely happens in movies. In logic, as the film puts it, if a heroine, in a horror movie, falls in love, the scary factor loses its effect, because it would be overcome by romance. Without qualifying the situation, how can a person be scared if there’s a person beside her willing to protect her?

That’s why even if there is a couple in a horror film, say in the case of “Shutter”, “Scream” or “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, the romance is usually suspended to make way for the horror. It’s either you gain the element of one genre but you lose the other. In “Spellbound”, you get to keep both. At one point, we get to smile as drunk Yuri rips off Jo-gu’s tailor made shirt. Then the mood shifts, as we see a long-haired abnormally white-skinned tone woman coming out from a frame, matching with a cool breeze wind.    (more…)

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Jones tries to get the golden statue

The then 39-year old Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones. We first see him in the middle of a treasure hunt, out in the deep forest of Peru, to retrieve a golden statue, that is heavily guarded by booby traps.(I really wonder why of all the places would you hide an artifact in an enclosed cave that is mostly suspicious for such materials rather than bury it 10 feet below ground.) He carefully replaces the statue for a pouch that has the same weight, thinking that this will fool the “security measures”, i.e. booby traps. He slowly walks away from the altar but the cave starts to collapse. He runs and dodges swift arrows. He jumps from a pit and he has to run after that or else he gets hit by a gigantic rolling stone.

First ten minutes of the story and we are already in adventure.

Apart from being a history professor, Jones is an enthusiastic archeologist. And apart from being an enthusiastic archaeologist, he is also an uncommonly handsome man, even his student drools over him. (Don’t worry, this film has nothing to do with pedophiles). Jones donates his treasures to the museum for the public’s pleasure, but as the film shows, his past treasure hunts has not been succesful. He is stepped over by an archenemy, Belloq, a fellow archeologist who have been fond of pestering Jones up until the end. Despite the failures, he has already received publicity on his past discoveries, as the “obtainer of rare antiquities”.

It is not surprising therefore that one day two U.S. military personnel, on behalf of the U.S. Government, hires Jones to search for the lost ark that is believed to be a “source of unspeakable power”, before the Nazi could turn it against them. This sets off Jone’s mind ablaze and he is then set off across Nepal for another journey.

Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan (1998), artificial Intelligence (2001)), the film has never been short of action and adventures. The moment you think it is going to end, you realize that the end has not started yet. I can picture out that Indiana Jones has been the father of succeeding action adventure films. By some anonymous decision, according to Wikipedia, it is the best action adventure family film, as it appeals to adults and children.

Jones and Belloq having a "friendly" conversation

We must also give thanks to George Lucas for the story, and Lawrence Kasdan for the screenplay. In addition to the charming actors and the classic soundtrack, you’re also likely to be impressed by how the story is told. Close to the end, Jones almost has the ark on his disposal but because of his deep interest in historical objects, he suspends his decision. This leads him to be a captive, and ultimately, for the story, the last confrontation.

During his journey, Jones is accompanied by Marion. I’m glad Marion is not that classy or goody-goody suburban girls. She knows how to run, punch, kick, somersault, almost anything similar to Jones, but still maintains that look for sexual interest.

Despite thirty year of its release, I still see some authenticity. When Jones is chasing to retrieve Marion from the enemies, he clutches on a moving vehicle and makes his way down to the back of the car. This stunt really looks dangerous as Jone’s back is sliding and clashing on the ground. To this day, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” still remains one of the top of all action films and is classified under the banner “classic”.

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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“Animal Farm” is an allegorical novel of the political abuse of Stalin or any abuses of the idea of communism or totalitarianism. This fable, portrayed by talking animals, is also a showcase how the downtrodden people suffered from the reign. How uneducated animals are led to misery by the leader’s corrupt use of language. How the gullible animals are fooled in thinking they have the Utopia. And most of all, how humans can be like animals.

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Animal Farm (1945)

The story starts on the rebellion of the animals under the supervision of Mr Jones, the landlord of the farm. He is a diligent and hardworking man however, at some point, he became lethargic and forgot to take care of the animals. In result, the animals are underfed and overworked for several days. One night when Mr Jones comes home, the animals expect for their compensation however they got none. At last, the animals can’t take it anymore and decide to take the matter for themselves. They kick and punch their oppressors and in the end manage to overthrow all Mr. Jone’s lot.

After triumph, the intellectual pigs assumed the leaders’ position. By then, the farm prospers. They harvest harder and better than Jones’. They also undergo many reforms like educating the animals and establishing moral laws. However, things get ugly when Napoleon hungers for power and supreme authority. He purges and kills anyone who poses threats on his plans. Since most animals can’t think for themselves and regarded as “stupid”, they believe and follow all Napoleon says and orders. Before they knew it, their freedom from Mr Jones slowly becomes a prison of dystopia.

I admire George Orwell for his stubbornness. His book criticizing Stalin’s regime, at that time, is a controversial topic. It is like a taboo that’s why almost all of the publishers rejected his proposal. But at last when the World War II ends, one publisher took charge. From them on, the book have steady sales. (more…)

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