Category Archives: Review

300

Mostly due to my antisocial nature and my laziness, I haven’t actually seen a movie in a theater since…forever. I broke that fast mostly because of the hype surround 300, the movie based on Frank Miller’s comic book retelling of the Battle at Thermopylae.

Everyone who’s seen the movie has the same thing to say: it’s really good. So I went to see it with a brother of mine. And it was good. Really good. The highlights of the movie are the very impressive battle scenes (which is like 90% of the movie), with awesome usage of slow-motion to enhance the battle drama. It feels like a video game!

Unfortunately, I think the movie was hyped a bit too much for me. It’s good, but not OMGWTFThat’sAwesome!!!111 good for me. History lessons told me how that battle ended, and some of the lines in the movie sound like trash-talk from WWE shows.

Still enjoyable though, despite the high theater prices nowadays. It’s just that I went in expecting my socks to get knocked off; they rolled up a bit, but they stayed on my feet.

God’s Debris by Scott Adams


This 
was Scott Adams’ first non-Dilbert book. If you’re used to reading Adams go on about Induhviduals and stupid managers, or if you’ve never read Adams trying / pretending to sound philosophical in one of his books, then this isn’t what you’d expect.

Adams describes it as a “thought experiment” of sorts, one where he tries to provide some sort of explanation for basically life, the universe and everything. Although it’s a work of fiction, it sounds like Adams is trying to see how people will react to his form of philosophy — it seems to be one of his favorite things to do something just to provoke reactions. (Yeah, he and I are alike that way.)

Adams starts from simple assumptions about the nature of God, and the nature of probability, and proceeds to try to explain everything from gravity to string theory to psychics to women. Yeah, women. You’d think a guy would know better.

It’s a thought-provoking read, as long you keep some of the skepticism down. Adams himself acknowledges that some parts of his book are just plain-old creative BS trying to pass itself off as something deeper. Smart people would appreciate it as quick and light-philosophical reading, but I don’t think it would survive serious logical scrutiny.

That being said, it’s definitely worth the read, if only to get inside the head of a popular cartoonist. I think this part of Scott Adams is the part that writes all those garbageman strips. =p

Music – Ultraelectromagnetic Jam

I’m no music critic; often I can’t even carry my own tune. But I do know what I like, and I know I like the Eraserheads’ music. If you don’t know who the ‘heads are, they’re basically the Beatles of the Philippines, galvanizing the local music industry and serving as an example and inspiration to numerous other bands that followed after them. It’s only fitting then that many of the current crop of Filipino performers pay tribute to them in the form of Ultraelectromagnetic Jam. This fantastic album features several artists performing their own versions of some of the Eraserheads best hits, namely:

  • Alapaap by 6-Cycle Mind
  • Alcohol by Radioactive Sago Project
  • Ang Huling El Bimbo by Rico J Puno
  • Hard to Believe by Cueshé
  • Huwag Kang Matakot by Orange and Lemons
  • Huwag Mo Nang Itanong by MYMP
  • Ligaya by Kitchie Nadal
  • Magasin by Paolo Santos
  • Maling Akala by Brownman Revival
  • Overdrive by Barbie Almabis
  • Pare Ko by Sponge Cola
  • Spoliarium by Imago
  • Superproxy by Francis M.
  • Tikman by Sugarfree
  • Torpedo by Isha
  • Para sa Masa by all of them!

I wanted to comment on each track separately, but I’m too lazy :p They’re all pretty good, mostly because the originals were great in the first place. Paolo Santos carried Magasin surprisingly well, and Superproxy was just the right track for Francis M. Radioactive Sago’s Alcohol is hilarious, and I like the way Orange and Lemons mixed a little bit of Julie Tearjerky and Tikman in Huwag Kang Matakot. I also think I actually like Cueshé’s version of Hard To Believe better than the original. My least favorite track on the album is Kitchie Nadal’s Ligaya, (cute laugh on the “inaahit” bit notwithstanding) as I really prefer the more upbeat original.

I wish more bands had contributed to the effort though, as the ‘heads probably deserve it. According to my brother, the participating artists were all from the same recording studio (I don’t really pay attention to studios, so yeah I’ll just agree here.) Still, it would’ve been nice to hear some renditions from ‘heads contemporaries like Rivermaya and Parokya ni Edgar.

All in all, awesome album. If you have listened to the Eraserheads music at one time or another, go find a way to get it.

Movies: Transformers the Movie

I should’ve thought of this as soon as I got DSL: I went ahead and downloaded Transformers the Movie.

Transformers was of course, the epitome of my youth. Unlike most other guy kids, I preferred the Transformers to G.I. Joe. I guess I preferred high-tech fantasy over soliders back then, with the war of the heroic Autobots and the Evil Decepticons appealing more to my young mind than soldiers trying to fight terrorists. I watched the show, I read the comics (the first comic series I really collected), I had a lunch box, and I even bought and ate the unhealthy cheap knock-off Transformers-branded chips they sold near the St. Joseph parish.

Transformers: the Movie was the pinnacle of my childhood experience with the Transformers cartoon, since the seasons following the movie were never broadcast on Philippine TV. I watched it yesterday, hoping I would still find the old charm which enthralled me as a child.

I was not disappointed. Well, not much anyway. As an adult I’ve grown more critical of things in general, quick to spot and point out minute flaws. Some notes:

The year is 2005 in Transformers the Movie, some 19 years after the movie’s actual release. At least they didn’t predict flying cars like Back to the Future, but how come we don’t yet have cars that look like Hot Rod? The “futuristic” look of the six new Autobots introduced in the movie (Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Kup, Blurr, Springer and Arcee) give you an indication of how the people of 80s perceived future transportation.

Apparently, Transformers can use lightsabers, er…Laser Swords! Megatron pulls one out during his fatal battle with Optimus Prime, and later in the movie one of the Autobots does too. (I think it was Hot Rod, I forget.)

Amazingly, while the Autobots and Decepticons never actually hit each other with their weapons in the TV series, their appearance in a movie suddenly made Starscream’s use of the Megatron-gun a lot more efficient, accurate and lethal. Ironhide, Prowl, Brawn and Ratchet go down with a single shot each in the first few minutes of the movie. More Autobots died in the first twenty minutes than in the entire run of the series prior to the movie.

This wouldn’t be much of a problem if the Autobots actually had the same numbers they had in the series. It’s a well-known fact that the Autobots greatly outnumbered the Decepticons almost all the time, since there are far more types of cars than there are jets and guns and other stuff. But in the movie, there are apprently less than twenty Autobots still in active service. What happened to the rest? We’re limited to Optimus Prime, the more popular first-batch Autobots, the Dinobots and the new guys. The Decepticons get a slightly better deal. They get both the first and second batch of jets, the Constructicons, Insecticons, and even the triple-changers Blitzwing and Astrotrain. Also, I think Blaster’s cassette-bots make their first cartoon appearance here. Conspiciously absent are the second set of ‘combiner’ teams…the Protectobots, Aerialbots, Combaticons and Stunticons. Some of the fights might have gone better had the Autobots thought to bring around Omega Supreme or Skyfire.

The Dinobots are apparently stupider than I remember. I guess my memories preferred the comic-book Dinobots, where Grimlock actually managed to become Autobot leader. Here Blurr has trouble convincing them to board a ship.

It’s too bad the Autobots didn’t think of bringing Optimus Prime to the planet of junk, where apprently an Autobot can still live after being blown into some twenty-thousand pieces.

The Ultra Magnus character was created solely to have someone fail to be a leader.

Strangely enough, when the Autobots crash through Unicron’s eye, we don’t see any sort of optic sensors on the other side.

The rest of the movie went pretty much as I remembered it. With a lot of forgettable 80s-style music running in the background. Amazingly, at the end, Rodimus Prime declares an end to the Cybertronian wars, and a new era of peace. I don’t recall any peace being negotiated with the Decepticons, who looked like they outnumbered the Autobots fifteen-million to one during Unicron’s attack.

I’m quite relieved, as watching the movie failed to change my nostalgic childhood memories of the Transformers, although I still vastly prefer the comic book series. Not at all bad for a series made to sell toys.

Wheel of Time 10 – Crossroads of Twilight

Haven’t read Robert Jordan in a while. Someone gave me Crossroads of Twilight as a gift, so I read it and hope that his pacing has improved. It has not. He writes well enough, dialogue is nice, descriptions are more than adequate, but I expect some things to happen in his books! He has so many plots running at once, he should at least resolve two or three per book. Perrin, Mat and Elayne get a lot of chapters, but they barely get anything done. Rand al’Thor himself barely gets one chapter, and I’m thinking it was just put in ’cause people would be pissed if he didn’t actually appear in the book. Egwene at least had the good sense to go out and try to do something. Not that she got anywhere sensible of course…

I swear, with so many things going on, it will take him forever to wrap up this series. And while that may be good for him, I wonder how many people will bother following the books for so long? Especially when they’re more of the same…

Books: Dark Tower series

“I do not aim with my hand.
He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my Eye.

I do not shoot with my hand.
He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my Mind.

I do not kill with my gun.
He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my Heart.”

–The Gunslinger’s Catechism

I’ve finished books 3 (Wastelands) and 4 (Wizard and Glass) of Stephen King’s amazing Dark Tower series. The sprawling worlds travelled by Roland of Gilead and his band of gunslingers continues to draw me in; I guess the romantic western atmosphere really appeals to me.

During these two books, we follow Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, Eddie and Susannah, gunslingers-in-training as they forge ahead on the road to the Dark Tower, where the fate of all worlds may be decided. Along the way, they gain new allies, one thought previously dead. They storm across the fallen city of Lud, blaze across the wastelands on an insane sentient train, and finally land in Kansas. It is in Kansas that Roland narrates a tale of his youth, and of his days and Gilead.

It is Roland’s tales of Gilead that I most enjoy in the series. Roland’s world, the world that has moved on, is a medieval-western hybrid of sorts. A world where people look to gunslingers with fear and respect, a world where a misspoken word in a tavern can get you killed, a world fraught with danger and adventure. In this tale we learn of what happened to Roland after he passed his rite of passage, his first love, and his decision to pursue the Dark Tower.

I look forward to the last three books…all of which are out in hard cover versions. Wizard and Glass ends on much less of a cliffhanger than Wastelands, so I’m willing to wait a bit for the paperback copies to come out, though I hope it doesn’t take too long.

Books: More Bob Ong

A while back I blogged about Bob Ong’s first book. A short while after, I also picked up his next two books, Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro Ang Mga Pilipino? (Why Do Filipinos Read Backwards?) and Ang Paboritong Libro ni Hudas (Judas’ Favorite Book).

“Bakit Baligtad” focuses on the Philippines, its people, its quirks and its problems. “Paboritong Libro” is a lot harder to classify, as it jumps across several topics, with the unifying theme being the chapters named after anagrams of the seven deadly sins. At least I think that’s the unifying theme…

“Paboritong Libro” is also the better of the two books. Or at least the easier read, as “Bakit Baligtad” had a tendency to be a lot more serious and preachy, which might turn off people looking for a light read. Also, “Bakit Baligtad” contains a significant amount of non-original material, from the apparently-now-defunct Bobong Pinoy website and from several online forums.

In fact, after reading “Bakit Baligtad”, I realized the particular appeal of Bob Ong’s books…all of them, including the first one, read like they were written on the internet. Maybe in a blog or something. Each book is like some sort of running commentary on some part of life in general; (the first book was about education, the second about the Philippines; I’m still not sure what the third book was about) That’s why it’s so hard to pin down, it leaves you with that internet feeling of “hey-when’s-the-next-update?”

Both books are generally hit-or-miss though, with a bit more hit than miss, same as the first one. Some good parts, some you’d want to sleep through. They’re good for the price they’re at. In any case, I’ll probably pick up his next book as an impulse buy if I see it.

My favorite part of these two books (I’m not sure which book it was in anymore) was a list of amusing signs found all over the Philippines. One of them is described as such: on a cracked lopsided wall along Libis, QC: Danger Wall is Falling!

Hehe, that cracks me up, and I’m not sure why. I’d like to see that wall.