Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Victorian Portraits Of Star Wars Characters

It is common knowledge that Star Wars is the most spoofed and influential franchise in the universe (and probably galaxies far, far, away too). Just a simple search on the internet and you'll get hundreds of thousands of results. Even Hollywood movies and TV series have repeatedly joined the bandwagon. Even the documentary The People Vs George Lucas [2011] featured these many fan-made works, and most of them are pretty good indeed.

Now then, a San Francsco-based artist and CG modeler (whom apparently also works at Pixar), Greg Peltz, has created these astonishing Victorian-styled portraits of some famous Star Wars characters. These impressive works can also be bought via KLUTstudio.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Infographic: Superhero Movies Statistics

Marvel Superheroes on the left, DC on the right. Photo from nerdsraging.com

I know I've been posting a lot about Superheroes lately, but I can't help it. It is probably my favourite genre. As we all know by now, this summer will see a repeat of last year's Superhero movie showdown. Although looking at this year's line-up of The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises (I'm not counting Ghost Rider and Dredd as they don't come up in the summer), I have to say they are galactically bigger in anticipation than last year's Thor, X-Men: Firtst Class, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenger combination.

And with each movie guaranteed to bring in big bucks, its pretty much established that this genre is here to stay. Now then, the guys at Infographics Inspiration have come-up with some very cool statistics about this whole craze. There's everything from Christopher Reeve's Man Of Steel to Christopher Nolan's Caped Crusader. Included also are some cool trivia such as Michael Jackson was asked to perform songs for Batman [1989] and the three biggest Superhero movie flops so far are the three Pusnisher movies. So up, and away we go to the infographics then...


Superhero Movie Statistics

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Babe-O-Licious: Emily VanCamp

Today's entry will once and for all eliminate any lingering doubt (if there actually were any in the first place) that this particular segment of mine is entirely self-indulgent and frivolous. Why? Because I have actually NEVER seen any of the work done by this person whom I picked as the fourth entry for Babe-O-Licious. Yup, I've only seen a few photos on the web and clips of her on YouTube. That of course is entirely my own fault as she's been in what I gather are some rather popular TV shows. The person in mention is the ultra-alluring actress who goes by the name of Emily VanCamp.

Emily first greeted the world with her presence on May 12, 1986 in Port Perry, Ontario, Canada. She then left home at the early age of 11 (wow, that's a pretty young age indeed to be leaving home) to study ballet in Montreal. After a few years she decided dancing was not for her and soon fell in love with acting. Among the films she has been in so far are horror flicks The Ring Two [2005] alongside Naomi Watts and also Carriers [2009] which also featured Chris Pine and Piper Perabo. But from my short "research" on the Internet (in other words, using the highly "sophisticated" methods of referring to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes), her movie that I would like to check out first is Norman [2011], an independent feature also starring Dan Byrd.

She is however mostly recognised for her roles on the popular TV shows, Everwood [2002-2006] and Brothers & Sisters [2006-2011]. As mentioned, I have not seen both series but I am aware of the fact that the divinely enchanting beauty whom I bestowed as my very first Babe-O-Licious entry, Odette Annable, also had a role on the latter show. Emily is now the headliner for a brand new series titled Revenge [2011- ] alongside Madeleine Stowe.

She stands at 5 feet 8 inches and speaks French fluently as she was raised speaking the language. More and more people are beginning to recognise her beauty as proven when BuddyTV ranked her as high as number 4 on their list of TV's 100 Sexiest Women Of 2011 (that other Babe-O-Licious gal I mentioned earlier was at number 2!). Hmm, it might be time for me give that show, Revenge [2011- ] a try now.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island [2012]

Release Date: 19 January 2012 (Malaysia), 10 February 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Written By: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn, Richard Outten, Jules Verne
Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman
In A Nutshell:
Sean Anderson (played by Josh Hutcherson) receives a distress radio signal which he decodes with the help of his new stepfather, Hank (played by Dwayne Johnson). Sean believes the signal is from his grandfather (played by Michael Caine) and is about a mythical island. The pair seek the help of helicopter pilot, Gabato (played by Luis Guzman) and his daughter, Kailani (played by Vanessa Hudgens) to locate the island and rescue Sean's grandfather.
Thumbs Up:
+ Possibly stunning visuals in 3D (can't confirm as I saw the normal version, but from what was seen on the screen, thats highly likely to be the case)
+ The Rock singing "What A Wonderful World"
+ If you're bringing the kids, they'll probably enjoy it
Thumbs Down:
- The humour at its funniest only reaches "a chuckle here and there" level
- Nothing special or unpredictable about the story
- Despite being beautiful and mystical, the island doesn't really mesmerise
- The audience can't really feel a connection with the characters and there was never really a sense they were in danger.
The Verdict Is In:
Here's the good news, if you're going to see this with your children or any other kids, its most likely that they'll have a good time enjoying this. As an adult, let's just say it will be a case of "been here, seen that" for the millionth time. You'll be able to predict the outcome of each scene and also know the ending to most of the jokes. Even the mystical island albeit being beautiful, fails to mesmerise and captivate our imagination in the way that, for example, Avatar [2009] and the world of Pandora profoundly excelled in doing so. You just know that there's something missing to able to "Wow" us. Again, we can blame that on the predictable factor. So, if you're an adult looking for some escapism for 90 minutes, I'm afraid this is not the movie. As much as I am a fan of The Rock (and only now just realised that Vanessa Hudgens has one smokin' hot body), the film fails to stimulate either your senses or your imagination.
5 out of 10

Friday, January 20, 2012

Characters From "Community" As X-Men

One of my favourite TV shows right now is comedy series Community. While one of my favourite superheroes are the X-Men (I have a special place in my heart for superheroes, as written in a previous post). Well apparently illustrator Aviv Or has combined the two in his caricature drawings, so behold... Community-X!!

Very good work indeed Mr. Or! And since Community's theme each episode is spoofing various pop culture and movie styles, I have to say this is very fitting indeed. Plus, each X-Men character fits their Community counterpart too. For example, Pierce is always seen as the bad guy in the study group so he is very fitting as Magneto, while Jeff as the leader of the study group is of course Cyclops. Here's the illustrations for the individual characters:

# Jeff Winger as Cyclops

# Britta Perry as Jean Grey

# Abed Nadir as Professor X

# Troy Barnes as Wolverine

# Pierce Hawthorne as Magneto

# Shirley Bennett as Storm

# Annie Edison as Shadowcat

# Ben Chang as Nightcrawler

# Dean Pelton as White Queen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

List: 7 Favourite Zombie Movies

One of the most addictive TV series currently running is zombie flick, The Walking Dead. Not only does it offer genuine suspense and an intriguing story line, but there are plenty of deep and rich characters on display. But you would expect that considering that the producer of this series is one Frank Darabont, whom many might remember directed two all-time outstanding movies, The Shawshank Redemption [1994] and The Green Mile [1999].

Which brings me to the topic of zombie movies. First of all, let me say that I am by no means a fan-boy of the genre. Heck, I'm not even that into horror movies. I mean I do enjoy them, its just that I'm not as enthusiastic as I am towards other movie genres. I find most zombie movies predictable and repetitive, which is the opposite of The Walking Dead. Let's just say that in terms of "apocalypse-human survival" type of movies, alien invasion films are waaay ahead on my preference list. Having said that, each and everyone of the zombie movies on this list managed to entertain me. But please remember that this line-up is from a non zombie-purist point of view. Here goes the countdown:

#7 Dawn Of The Dead [1978]

A compelling flick from zombie godfather, George A. Romero. There's one problem I have with this film compared to the Zack Snyder remake, which is also the case with most other classics films. It is none other than the slow-moving zombies. When you can casually run pass while also nudging these creatures, its hard to believe an army or even a police force weren't able to stop them.

Selected Quote: "One stop shopping; everything you need, right at your fingertips"

#6 Shaun Of The Dead [2004]

One way to get pass the slow-moving zombie dilemma as mentioned above in #7 is by making it a comedy! And with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost teaming-up with director Edgar Wright, you could almost guarantee loads of laughs and fun.

Selected Quote: "For a hero, you're quite a hypocrite!"

#5 Dawn Of The Dead [2004]

Although billed as a remake of George A. Romero's classic, other than the title and shopping mall location, this is very much its own movie. I know this will upset many purists, but in my view this is also the better movie. This movie along with 300 [2006] showcases Zack Snyder's true abilities as a director because his other two films, Watchmen [2009] and Sucker Punch [2011] to me were complete disasters (haven't seen his other feature, Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole [2010] yet). Worrying times ahead for Man Of Steel [2013]. Hopefully Christopher Nolan's presence can save that movie.

Selected Quote: "I've been to a lot of funerals. Folded the flag, and given it to a lot of wives and fathers and kids. And I told them how sorry I was. But that's never really what I was feeling. In the back of my mind, I was saying, 'Better them than me'. But I don't believe that now. Because now I realise that there are some things worse than death, and one of them is sitting here, waiting to die"

#4 Night Of The Living Dead [1968]

Although not the first zombie film being made, it can easily be said that this was the pioneer of the entire genre. This classic from George A. Romero had plenty of interesting characters but none more so than the one played by Judith O'Dea, Barbara (photo above). It was also refreshing (okay, maybe "refreshing" isn't the most suitable word, because this was one of the earlier zombie films) that the zombies were not caused by a virus like other movies, but from radiation from a fallen satellite.

Selected Quote: "They're coming to get you Barbra! There's one of them now!"

#3 Zombieland [2009]

Not only is this one of the best zombie films, but it can also pass as one of the funniest comedies of the past few years. The "Zombie Survival Rules/Guide" and "Zombie Kill Of The Week" being featured is the stuff of legends!

Selected Quote: "The first rule of Zombieland: 'Cardio'. When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go, for obvious reasons... were the 'fatties' "

#2 28 Days Later [2002]

This movie perfectly exemplifies why fast-running zombies are better for movies than the traditional slow-moving ones. It creates an abundance more suspense and adrenaline-pumping thrills. But perhaps what make this film greater is that the zombies are not the only threat to the survivors (not giving away any more spoilers!)

Selected Quote: "What do you mean there's no government? There's always a government, they're in a bunker or plane somewhere!"

#1 28 Weeks Later [2007]

Just like 28 Days Later [2002], this sequel generated a truckload of suspense, thrills, and a non-zombie threat. I even considered giving these two features are tie for first place. In the end this flick got the photo-finish win thanks to the family conflict that drives the plot. Awesome piece of film-making.

Selected Quote: "It all makes sense. They're executing code red. Step 1: Kill the infected. Step 2: Containment. If containment fails, then Step 3: Extermination"


To end things off, here's an infographic from Yahoo Movies guiding us about "How dangerous is a zombie?" It lists down plenty of zombie movies and sorts them out according to how fast and smart the zombies are.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tarantino's Favourite Movies Of 2011

So, yesterday The Golden Globe Awards was being held. But I'm not going to discuss that today, instead I'm going to focus on an "awards list" compiled by a very influential film maker. One of my all-time favourite director, Quentin Tarantino has revealed his favourite films of 2011 and made it available on The Tarantino Archives. As a huge cinema fan he has always had a gigantic knowledge of movies. Here not only does he lists his 11 favourites of the year but also the other movies he liked, a "nice try" award, and selects his best director and screenplays. He raised some eyebrows in his favourites (Green Lantern and Green Hornet?). Also I'm still not sure what he means by "nice try", but interesting to see one of my favourite movies of 2011, Drive [2011] in that category. He also listed his worst movies of the year. Since I tend to avoid movies I know I wouldn't enjoy nowadays, I've only seen two films from that category. But I totally agree with him on Sucker Punch [2011]. Quite frankly everyone has their best and worst movies of the year, but what I really found intriguing was the "nice try" category. Would've wanted to find out more about what he found that worked and didn't in those films.

* update: apparently the "Worst Films" has been removed from the original Tarantino Archives post, but had already been reported by other sites. It is still included here too.

Quentin Tarantino's Official Top Eleven Of 2011:

1) Midnight In Paris
2) Rise of The Planet Of The Apes
3) Moneyball
4) The Skin I Live In
5) X-Men: First Class
6) Young Adult
7) Attack The Block
8) Red State
9) Warrior
10) The Artist / Our Idiot Brother (tie)
11) The Three Musketeers

Others He Liked (in no particular order):

* 50/50
* Beginners
* Hugo
* The Iron Lady
* Carnage
* Green Hornet
* Green Lantern
* Captain America
* The Descendants
* My Week With Marilyn
* Fast Five
* The Tree Of Life
* The Hangover Part 2
* Mission Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol
* The Beaver
* Contagion
* The Sitter
* War Horse

Nice Try Award:

* Drive
* Hanna
* Drive Angry
* Real Steel

Best Director:

* Pedro Almodovar
* Bennet Miller
* Woody Allen
* Jason Reitman
* Michel Hazanavicius

Best Original Screenplay:

* Midnight In Paris
* Young Adult
* Red State
* Attack The Block
* Our Idiot Brother
* Beginners

Best Adapted Screenplay:

* Moneyball
* The Skin I Live In
* Carnage
* Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
* Hugo
* X-Men: First Class

Worst Films:

* Sucker Punch
* Potiche (Trophy Wife)
* Miral
* Insidious
* Rampart
* Straw Dogs
* Paranormal Activity 3
* Meek's Cutoff

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: Project Nim [2011]

Release Date: 8 July 2011 (USA)
Genre: Documentary
Director: James Marsh
In A Nutshell:
A documentary from director James Marsh (who won an Oscar for another documentary, Man On Wire [2008]), Project Nim tells the story of a chimpanzee, Nim Chimpsky, who after born in 1973 was taken from his mother as part of a scientific experiment. Nim was raised just like a human child by a family and taught sign language to communicate. Nim is then taken away from the family to live with a few other carers. He is also taken to use for medical experiments before freed by a historical lawsuit.
Thumbs Up:
+ The journey of Nim's life is an emotionally engaging, humorous, and extremely fascinating story
+ The human characters and their flawed behaviours are just as interesting as Nim
+ The documentary is able to get interviews with all the major players involved and their stories are  remarkably candid
Thumbs Down:
- Nothing to list as "Thumbs Down"
The Verdict Is In:
Having just recently viewed this majestical documentary, I made it a very late inclusion on my 20 Favourite Movies Of 2011 list. Not only that, I gave it a very high position too. The story of Nim is very reminiscent of The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes [2011], where Nim is raised liked a human child (Nim is even breast-fed by his human mother), communicating with humans, eventually placed with other chimps, and his reaction when finally meeting with his original family members.

As we get to see, Nim is extremely capable of communicating with the humans. Not only is he ( I'm following the people in the documentary here by using "he" and not "it") capable of doing plenty of sign language (some signs he even developed by his self) but he is also extremely good at reading people's emotions. For instance, he would sign "sorry" when he made people angry and would also give people hugs when he sensed they were upset. At one point in the documentary, we get to see Nim tell a human friend what he did for the day, like what berries he found to eat, etc. Further evidence of his intelligence could be seen in the various ways he manipulates people to get what he wants.

But of course the most fascinating aspect of this feature is the journey of his life. How as he grew older he developed sexual desires but not having any other apes around him. His absolutely terrified reaction when first meeting another chimp, as if he was horrified to see these strange "creatures". His reaction of joy when after years in a sanctuary seeing Dr. Lemmon (the guy who started the research) again and falsely led to thinking he might be rescued. How depressed he became when he found out the truth. His reaction and disgust after an even longer time, when being visited by his original human mother. His relationships and fun times with his human friends, at times even getting drunk and high. These are all priceless moments indeed.

And of course there are the human characters who are just as interesting as Nim. We get to see the good side of humans in some, and unfortunately the bad in plenty others. As another reviewer put it, animals may be wild, but only humans are cruel. I got a profoundly haunting experience after viewing this feature. A must watch for all.
9.5 out of 10

Thursday, January 12, 2012

List: 20 Favourite Movies Of 2011 (Part 2)

In yesterday's post, I featured Part 1 of my 2011 Favourite Movies where I listed down rankings #20 until #11. In Part 2 today, we will continue with the countdown. Despite me saying yesterday that 2011 falls behind a bit compared to the previous few years in terms of overall movie quality, I enjoyed these following 10 films immensely and will be watching them again plenty more times in the future. So here we go with Part 2:

#10 Win Win

A touching story, abundance of witty humour, and rich, entertaining characters gives Win Win the "Win" (I know, bad pun joke). Paul Giamatti delivers a solid performance as usual, but its the best friend/assistant coach character played by Bobby Cannavale in this movie that is my favourite. He is just freaking hilarious.

Selected Quote: "This is your place! This is your place! You control it! Remember? You control it!"

#9 Thor

I mentioned before how much I love Super-heroes, and this kicked-off the Super-hero filled summer with a bang. Hopefully the same impact will be achieved this summer when Thor appears in The Avengers.

Selected Quote: "Myeuh-muh? What's Myeuh-muh?"

#8 X-Men: First Class

Forget "Team Edward or Team Jacob", because the real debate should be "Team Xavier or Team Magneto". Despite Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto being a villain, you could never say he was actually evil, or at the very least he had understandable motives. And never has it been more apparent than in this prequel movie. 

Selected Quote: Professor Charles Xavier: "Listen to me very carefully, my friend. Killing will not bring you peace" Erik Lehnsherr: "Peace was never an option"

#7 Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

My expectations before seeing this movie was very low. I'm not very fond of remakes/reboots/prequels plus it had a pretty silly and long title. But my, oh my, was I wrong. A stunning blend of great story-telling, wonderful acting, and mind-blowing special effects.

Selected Quote: "I swear, you know everything about the human brain except how it works"

*Read full movie review here

#6 Warrior

I know plenty of friends who like to think themselves as "tough guys" but ended up shedding man-tears at the end of the movie just like me, heh. Emotionally gripping, action packed, and with strong performances from the main cast. Shame it didn't do to well at the box-office.

Selected Quote: "I think I liked you better when you were drunk"

*Read full movie review here

#5 Arthur Christmas

With Cars 2 being a let-down, it was looking like no animation from 2011 would be on my favourite list. Sure, Rango and Rio were entertaining, but I don't think they'll stand the test of time. As an animation fan (particularly Pixar), I was left disappointed. But just like in the movie itself, out came Arthur Christmas at the very last minute to save the day.

Selected Quote: Grandsanta: "Arthur, there is a way" Arthur: "It's impossible" Grandsanta: "They used to say it was impossible to teach women to read. Follow me"

*Read full movie review here

#4 50/50

This film managed to showcase the light-side of tragedies. Probably one of the best promotional tool ever for a cancer awareness campaign. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt really has amassed together a pretty impressive resume.

Selected Quote: "That's what everybody's been saying. You'll feel better, and don't worry, and this is all fine..... and it's NOT!!"

*Read full movie review here

#3 Project Nim

 A very last minute inclusion on the list. I'm not sure yet if this documentary's high positioning has to do with me just freshly finished viewing it, but there's no doubting its quality. A real-life Planet Of The Apes story (without the conquering earth and enslaving humans part, but definitely similar to the movie at #7) set in the 1970s. You'll be left with a profoundly haunting experience after watching this feature!!

Selected Quote: "It's the humans I wanted to leave. Not the chimp!"

#2 Drive

You could very much say that 2011 has been "The Year Of Ryan Gosling" because he gave solid performances in three very good films. The Ides Of March and Crazy, Stupid, Love both were very entertaining features (check out where I positioned them in Part 1 of the list), but I'm very certain that in Drive, we have a modern day classic. The sort of movie you one day recommend to your kids or grand-kids.

Selected Quote: "If I drive for you, you give me a time and place. I give you a five minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours, no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down. I don't carry a gun. I drive"

#1 Submarine

It is beyond travesty that this quirky, smart, and funny film only managed to gross a little over $800,000 worldwide when super over-hyped films like Breaking Dawn and Dark Of The Moon make billions of dollars. Not only is it the most under-rated movie of the year, but also in my view, the very best.

Selected Quote: "Jordana and I enjoyed an atavistic, glorious fortnight of lovemaking, humiliating teachers and bullies in the week. I have already turned these moments into the Super-8 footage of memory"

*Read full movie review here 


Finally, since I love compilation videos so much, let's take another look back at the movies of 2011 in another compilation video, Cinescape 2011 by Matt Shapiro. Its still not as good as Filmograpahy 2010 (the ultimate compilation video) but probably on par with that other awesome video, Fimlography 2011.

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