Hmm I wonder if anyone is still reading my blog. Yea it has been dormant for a long time since I uploaded my Egypt & Turkey photos, thanks to the lack of motivation and time to share my trip experiences. Firstly, nobody bothers to read blogs anymore, with Facebook being 100x more interesting. Secondly it is really time consuming to upload the pictures and add captions. Sigh...
This is probably my last blog entry before I put the blog into sleep. As usual, my annual review of songs and movies. I have already uploaded my song rankings in FB (Cannot upload in youtube due to copyright issues), so I'll just present my movie rankings here.
A whopping total of 20 movies in 2013. This must be the most number of films I've watched in a year.
Let's begin the countdown!
20) HUNTER X HUNTER
This title comes from a popular Japanese comic which talks about a little boy who aims to be a professional hunter. In order to become a certified hunter, he has to pass a hunter exam, competiting with other like-minded people. However it was not a friendly competition and often involves life-and-death situations.
The characters (the good and bad) make a comeback with a completely new sideplot, which feels like any other filler story typical in animes. Unless you are a avid fan of this comic, I don't see any reason watching this movie. I used to read this comic before enlisting into NS, and I've forgotten most of the characters already haha. And I wasn't a fan right from the start. Regrettably, I was yawning throughout the movie it was like watching an streamed anime through a website
19) AH BOYS TO MEN (PART 2)
This movie takes off directly from Part 1, and focuses more on the interactions between the recruits. The main events of BMT are also featured, such as shooting range, grenade throw, field camp, SIT test, 24km route march, and of course the Passing Out Parade that ends the movie on a "happily-ever-after" note, typical of Jack Neo's movies. Other little acnedotes and stories we've heard/experienced in BMT are covered as well. The funniest one is probably when the sergeants were trying to steal the recruits' rifles while they were asleep in field camp.
However Part 1 is definitely funnier. (FYI part 1 got a rating of 7/10) Congrats to both parts for breaking the Singapore box office records. Though this movie relates very well to lots of Singaporeans, plot and cinematography-wise it's still pretty weak. It's quite ironic as many people labelled this movie as trashy, or commented "I don't even want to watch", but yet the box office sales is so good lol.
Those familiar with Jay Chou's songs and albums will know that he occasionally composes wackysongs, with strange MVs. This movie is precisely the platform for Jay to unleash all his wackiness and funny ideas. Some parts are funny in a way that they totally make no sense haha. The musical fighting scenes seem to be one of a kind too.
Unfortunately behind all the comical antics, the plot isn't as strong as his very first directed movie 'Secret'. The female lead is also pretty weak, in terms of acting skills. This is a very self-centred movie, and Jay will definitely not let the other leads steal his limelight of course. At least he managed to create some touching moments at the end, though people still can't help giggling when he acts 'too serious' lol.
Despite its title, the story isn't really that epic. It tells about a human girl who is unwittingly brought into the world of tiny advanced beings who live among the forest. With a mission of course. Unlike Gulliver, she transforms into as tiny as them, thus being able to experience how these little creatures live. Personally I feel the characters who stole the show are not the human-like main characters, but the humorous slug and the snail, which provided most of the comic relief in this film. I quite agree to the theory that tiny creatures like flies live in a faster time frame and hence their movements are always so quick to us. Conversely in the eyes of the flies, humans always seem to be in slow-motion mode and that's why flies are so good in escaping our swatting heh.
Plotwise this isn't as impactful as Pixar films, but the graphics are done pretty well (has the Avatar nature feel) and it might be worth it to watch it in 3D.
16) MONSTER UNIVERSITY
I had great expectations for this movie because it took more than 10 years for Pixar to come up with a second instalment of the popular 'Monster Inc' shown back in 1998. Read many mediocre reviews and there was a controversy whether Pixar has 'lost its touch'. Unfortunately I do agree with them. Recent Pixar movies like 'Brave' didn't create as much impact as its early predecessors. If I were to rate the top 3 Pixar movies, I would say 'Toy Story 3', 'Ratatouille', and 'Up'.
This film is a prequel of the first movie, which talks about how the two main characters attended the scaring course in university and became good pals after that. The story went on a predictable route, with just a lacklustre twist near the end. The storybook-like plot is no doubt an inspring one, but it failed to stir up any emotional or tearjerking moments in me. Guess Pixar has to buck up with the coming 'Find Dory'.
15) HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
The second instalment of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Didn't watch the first movie in theatres but managed to catch up before proceeding to this one. Overall I think the first movie is better, because it sets the background and theme of the plot. This second movie got me pretty confused near the end, with people appearing then disappearing, doing things that make no sense. Not to mention the ending, which gives the "What the end already?" kind of feel. Tactics to make viewers spend more
The society in this plot is really sick they enjoy watching people fight to death within themselves. What's with all the skill analysis and training in the end they are all killed by 'man-made disasters' cheorographed by the gamemakers themselves
14) THE CONJURING
This is the very first horror film I've watched in the theatres. I was feeling pretty nervous even before I watch the movie, as I have no expectation how horror movies would be like. I really dread force-shocking tactics such as sudden images and loud sudden noises. Obviously every horror movie will definitely have such moments. Considering that this movie is so highly rated and said to have freaked out many viewers, I thought it might be a little too overwhelming for a first-timer like me.
The introduction itself is freaky enough, as my hair stood for seconds as the movie title, with a big scary ghostly font, scrolls up slowly across the screen, while a creepy music plays in the background .
Thankfully enough, that was the only moment during the movie when my hair really stood up. I guess I'm pretty much immune to ghost stories haha, though creepy images/sounds (especially those with poor quality) can still freak me out. And thank god there is minimal gore in this movie (my most dreaded part of horror movies). I admit I can't take gore very well, especially self-mutilation (eg. gorging out your own eyeballs, sawing off your own arm). The images running in my mind now OMG!
This film uses mostly old-school scare tactics. The ghost looks so typical - long hair, white clothes, pontianak/"The Ring" style. Even the setting is so standard yup a haunted house haha. But well scary things will always remain scary. In fact the older and more outdated the horror element is, the scarier it becomes, right? (Have you ever seen a high-tech horror movie? Lol)
13) THOR: THE DARK WORLD
This movie isn't as bad as what most critics rated it to be. Plotwise it doesn't really stand out from the other loads of superhero movies recently. There wasn't much excitement factor in the storyline and the battle scenes, nor were there good twists to make us surprised. The humour in this movie seems to appeal more to me. It's not profound wordplay where humour is generated through puns and analogies. The humour in this film is so simple that even children will laugh out loud, but it doesn't degrade to a form of slapstick humour with exaggerated actions and delibrate 'tries-too-hard' kind of jokes. Such natural humour works very well with me. =) Sadly this might be another of my laugh-and-forget movies. The only emotional part of the movie is probably when the queen died, but then it wasn't really that impactful.
12) ABOUT TIME
I am usually a fan of time travel themed plot, but this film doesn't seem to captivate me as much as I expected. This movie tells about a guy who has the ability to time-travel and redo things that didn't go as well as he wanted during the first time. Such ability is so easily abused haha. The movie generally consists of two parts - the first half which is more on romance, and the second half which focuses more on family relationship. The former is more comedic while the latter is more touching. After all, this movie teaches us to live each moment as though we only get to live once. Quite true. If we had the chance to redo things again and again, we wouldn't treat the first time seriously.
11) MAN OF STEEL
This Superman film is not what I had expected after watching the previous 'Superman Returns' movie. The tone seems to be darker, thanks to Nolan, the director of Dark Knight. Plot wise it really feels like some alien invasion film haha.
The movie started off in grandiose, in another planet where Superman originated from. The CG effects were amazing, though it become weary after a while. Action scenes seem to be neverending, as one came after another - right until the credits roll. We all know the sheer power of Superman, and when two or more Supermans battle each other, the extent of damage caused to the surrounding objects/buildings can be really incredible.
The camera used to shoot the scenes (even still scenes) is pretty shaky and it made me dizzy after a while. The fast-paced projectile movement during the battles made it worse >< Hope these problems can be rectified in the next instalment of the film.
10) IRON MAN 3
This film was so popular that it broke several box office records. Anyway I didn't know Iron Man was so popular until this year. I don't remember hearing any hype for the first two instalmentsMaybe he grew popular thanks to Avengers, where he played a major role in haha.
I almost dozed off during the actionless beginning when the plot is building up with lots of dialogues. The movie only picked up when Iron Man's hi-tech residence was destroyed by the villians. The skydiving rescue part was pretty cool. I didn't know one can control his body so well (and has the mind to listen to instructions) during a free fall. And the Iron Man suit is so versatile that it could fit any person, regardless of height and build, snuggly into it lol. However as sturdy as it looks, the suit is actually quite fragile - could break into pieces so easily.
9) THE WOLVERINE
This movie should be called 'Wolverine in Japan' instead haha. As the movie is almost entirely shot in Japan, it doesn't forget to promote tourism aspects as well. For a Japan fan like me, watching this increases my urge to visit Japan (and I was going to fly to Japan two days after watching the film!). Knowing Japanese also provides a slight advantage because you can understand what the unsubtitled Japanese dialogues. Only some key Japanese conversations are subtitled, probably to give the feeling of being 'lost in translation'.
However the X-men Origins - Wolverine movie still wins over this one, with a more thrilling and fast-paced plot. This film has a very Japanese plot (by introducing a lot of mysterious and suspicious people at the start), very Japanese cinematography, and even the gore feels like what Japanese scary movies will use. There is a small twist at the end, which I admit caught me unaware, but nothing too remarkable. Let's look forward to the next X-men movie in the coming year!
8) ILO ILO
Thanks to the hype created by winning at the Cannes Film Festival, this artsy film managed to get under the limelight among Singaporeans. I believe most Singaporeans can relate to this film as it reflects truly on how we live. It also made me recall the times with my maid when I was small (yea we used to play around while bathing). This film is set in the 90s, and seeing many old stuff (like walkman, Pets Coursebook, 'boat' series currency notes, fat CRT monitors) triggered my nostalgic feelings too. Sigh those were the days
Unlike Jack Neo movies which often use blatant messages to put his point across, I really like how this film presents things subtly. Even the emotional moments were presented in a subtle manner, without the use of background music or slow-motion techniques to force out your tears. A movie need not necessarily wow the audience with costly cinematic effects. Even a simple one can touch the audience and arouse their inner emotions.
7) CAPTAIN PHILIPS
Based on a true story where an American ship is being hijacked by Somalian pirates. The part after Captain Philips is being taken hostage by the Somalians kept me at the edge of the seat, not knowing what is going to happen next. Of course we know that Captain Philips is going to be saved in the end, but the process made me curious. Although he was rescued eventually, it wasn't totally a happy ending after all. The film tries to make the viewers think from a different perspective.
What I like about this movie is its unpredictability, despite it being based on actual events. It focuses more on the humane side of the pirates, rather than blatantly labelling them as the 'bad guys'. However there were some anti-climax here and there, which was quite inevitable since such things did really happen. Well, we often experience anti-climax in our real lives too right?
6) THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
This second instalment takes off directly from where the first ended. The plot has already been built up and the film wastes no time plunging into the action. The great adventure of the hobbit thus continues. Love the RPG feel of this movie, where the protagonist travels from one town to another, passing through woods and caves. Like the first instalment, this movie is equally looooong. As usual, there is a segment featuring a lengthy dialogue between the hobbit and the 'baddie'.
Somehow the first movie feels more enjoyable, probably because there is more humour into play as the film slowly introduces the characters and we learn more about them. Perhaps the gollum made the movie more interesting too. (No gollum in the 2nd part *sob*) Another one year wait for the final part of this trilogy
5) DESPICABLE ME 2
Wow this must be the highest rating I've given for animation films after since 'Up'. Thanks to the cute and funny minions this movie shot to fame. Felt that this is much better than the 1st instalment mainly because of the increased screentime of the minions haha. I wasn't really into minions previously but after watching this movie I felt that these little beings are actually quite lovable haha.
I found myself laughing (or giggling uncontrollably) quite often throughout this movie, which is a good thing since I have a high 'laughing threshold' when watching movies. American puns, intelligent humour, slapstick humours in Hollywood movies don't usually make me laugh. Anyway don't expect any emotional scenes like in Pixar animations, this movie is just for you to laugh your hearts out. If you love watching Tom and Jerry during your childhood, you would probably love this movie too haha.
In the McDonalds Happy Meal promotion I was wondering why is there a ugly purple minion (I thought all minions were yellow). After watching the movie I finally understood why haha. The final shooting scene where the minions change colour is really awesome - someone could make a game out of it! Haha. And the minions could speak Japanese! (referring to the banana kanpai scene)
I watched this film with zero expectations. I knew nothing about this movie before I stepped into the theatre, except that it is made by Disney and the poster is bluish. I didn't know what kind of characters are there - human or animals. It proved to be something good though, since I enjoyed the movie and rode along its twists and surprises as the plot unfolds. Special mention goes to the wonderful soundtrack, especially 'Let it go' and 'Do you want to build a snowman'. These songs fit the theme perfectly.
As the title suggests, be prepared to see plenty of snow and ice in this movie. Watching the icy scenes made me feel cold, but the characters in the story gave me much warmth. The moral behind the story is simple, and it is such simplicity that makes me feel comfortable watching.
Down to Top 3 Movies!
3) CLOUD ATLAS
This is an abstract, artsy film that received polarized reviews from critics. Some rate it as high as 5 stars, and some as low as 1 star only. Simply put, you either love or hate this film. I was just flipping through the newspaper when I saw the movie poster (without reading any reviews or description about the film yet), and I felt this is the type of movie that I would enjoy, hence giving me the strong urge to watch this movie.
Indeed it didn't disappoint. This film, adapted from a book, consists of 6 different stories that are interconnected in one way or another. The genre/tone of each story has a huge contrast, shot in different styles - it felt like watching six different mini-movies in a single show!
Story 1: Set at Year 1849, Pacific Ocean. Ship, Voyager, "Pirates of Caribbean" style.
Story 2: Set at Year 1936, Cambridge & Edinburgh. Music, Romance style.
Story 3: Set at Year 1973, San Francisco. Mystery, Detective, Thriller style.
Story 4: Set at Year 2012, United Kingdom. Humour, Comedy style.
Story 5: Set at Year 2144, Neo-Seoul. Science Fiction, Future, Technology, "Tron" style.
Story 6: Set at Year 2321 (106 years after Fall of Civilization - Back to Primitive), Big Island (Hawaii). Fantasy, Adventure, "Lord of the Rings" style.
This would mean at one moment you're laughing at the slapstick English humour, and the next moment you're be seeing Sci-Fi floating cars and lasers flying around, and the next moment, two lovers expressing their romance through music. The switch in stories can be very fast, and audience have to pay attention (right from the start of the movie) to the details to discover how actually all these six stories are interconnected. It may not seem obvious at first, but it will slowly become clear at the end. It's just like fixing up a jigsaw puzzle.
Cloud Atlas is reminiscent to a film - "Babel" - I watched 6 years ago, which also features four interlocking stories. To a small extent it reminds me of Cape No.7 (), where different people , with their own stories behind, come together in the end. These two 'jigsaw-style' movies scored pretty high on my ratings too.
However one downside about Cloud Atlas is that the pace is too fast, despite the movie being a whopping 3 hours. It's very hard to catch details and the stories kept jumping around in quick succession. It can be mentally exhausting to viewers. Visual-wise I don't really like how they try to make a Caucasian look like an Asian (and vice-versa). The eyes especially, look totally weird, like an alien lol.
2) STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
Science fiction space-themed films usually don't appeal to me as much as medieval-themed films, however I decided to give this a shot after several superb reviews and high ratings. Indeed it didn't disappoint. The plot is simple enough to follow, yet strong in conveying deep messages, through a good balance of humour and emotional moments. My worries of all the perplexing technical jargons and sophisticated plot (xref to Dark Knight) were unfounded. Action and twists proceeded one after another, keeping me at the edge of my seat. Characters are very well-developed and you can really feel for them.
I was able to enjoy the movie fully despite not having watched the 1st instalment before. And I believe this movie can be equally enjoyed by girls too haha. Of course I will definitely look forward to watching the next instalment!
And the top movie of the year goes to....
Wow really really blown off by this movie. Did not regret watching this in 3D IMAX, even though the tickets cost about 20 bucks. Under a large in 3D, you simply feel like you are really roaming in space, looking down at the Earth, floating around in zero gravity. This movie is specially shot to make viewers feel like they are part of the 'misadventure' too. Just for 20 bucks you get to experience space, why not? Haha. Unfortunately this is a kind of artsy movie - you either love or hate it. Quite a number of people said it is boring and waste of money .
This film tells us that space is not as wonderful as we thought to be. In fact it is much much scarier than Earth. Without food, water, oxygen, it does not support life at all. An extremely large space but totally dead and quiet, gives me the creeps indeed. The title of the movie tells us not to take gravity for granted - something which we experience everyday but yet pay no attention to it. Without gravity, the moment you lose grip of something, it just floats away forever, never going to return again. This film falls short of perfect 10 because it's too short, with only 100 minutes of runtime. Sigh I want to spend more time touring space haha.
Yup that's all for my countdown. Many of you probably wouldn't agree with my ranking but hey, everyone's taste is different =). This is probably the second last entry of my blog (I'll use a picture as the last entry so that it looks better on the front page when viewers enter lol). To all my loyal readers (provided if you are still reading now), thank you for your support for the past 9 years. Yup my blog has been existing for NINE years! A pity that I can't hit the 10-year mark...sigh. In any case I've found someone who is much worth to spend time with compared to blogging haha.
Anyway the weather is soooo cooling now. So windy yet no rain! Is this winter in Singapore? When will it snow in Singapore?