Thursday, 27 December 2012

Best of 2012: What An Entertaining Cinematic Year!

2012 has been a pretty good year for movies. There were two HUGE and brilliant superhero movies (three if you count Spidey), a welcome return to Middle Earth, one of the best Bond films ever, and a pretty consistent array of animated features as well (including a decent one from Malaysia as well!).

there were five movies that could have EASILY been the number one movie in my list of favorite films, but in the end, I decided that there could only be one...

1) The Avengers
It really went down the wire, but in the end, Earth's Mightiest Heroes won out over Thorin's merry band of dwarves, because it was just SO SO SO EXHILARATINGLY FUN to watch. I can't remember the last time I came out of a cinema feeling so giddy from all that excitement and fun, and immedietely wanting to go watch it again.

2) The Hobbit
What can I say? I'm a LOTR fanboy, and The Hobbit pretty much lived up to my expectations. It's a wonderful return to Middle-earth, and barring a few parts that really should have been cut out, this was a worthy addition to the LOTR franchise.

3) Skyfall
IMHO, the best Bond film ever simply because it's a movie that actually makes an effort to be an actual MOVIE, and not just another caricature of James Bond as a gadget-wielding, booze-swilling shagging machine going up against another cartoony villain hell-bent on taking over the world.

4) The Dark Knight Rises
As good as this was, it simply wasn't as mind-blowingly awesome as The Dark Knight, and didn't hold up to repeated viewings as well as the other films above it on this list. Still, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman... MEOWWWWRRRRR.

5) Wreck-It Ralph
John Lasseter and his merry band of Pixarists have certainly done a lot of good to Disney's output. Case in point, this awesome tribute to retro videogames that I actually prefer over Pixar's own Brave.

6) Brave
It's not that I don't like Brave, I love it to bits. But it just didn't stand out as much as some of Pixar's best movies. It was beautifully animated and the story is great as ever, but it lacked that extra OOMPH that should have set it apart from Disney's usual Disney Princess stories. But it's still testament to Pixar's quality that I could still watch Brave multiple times and not be bored of it.

7) Looper
One of the better sci-fi movies of the year (Eat your heart out, Prometheus!), with good pace, good acting and a killer story.

8) Life of Pi
Featuring probably the best 3D in a live-action movie since Avatar, this was a mesmerizingly beautiful movie with some great acting and a story about storytelling told by a master storyteller.

9) The Amazing Spider-man
This was not a BAD Spidey movie, in fact, it was pretty awesome - it just suffered a bit from a story that has been done before, and a villain that just wasn't complex enough. BTW, with Peter Parker pretty much gone in the comics now, the movies are the only place where he still lives.

10) Rise Of The Guardians
It was a toss-up between this, Frankenweenie and ParaNorman for this final spot in my top ten, and in the end, this won out because I'm a sucker for super teams like this hehe.

Notable mentions:
- Ted
- Dredd
- Cabin In The Woods
- The Raid
- The Expendables 2
- Frankenweenie
- The Hunger Games
- War Of the Worlds: Goliath
- The Lorax
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
- Jack Reacher

Biggest Wastes Of Time

1) The Watch
2) Total Recall
3) Tai Chi Hero
4) Resident Evil: Retribution

Most Annoyingly Catchy Song From a Movie:

1) The Thunder Buddy Song (Ted)
2) Circus Afro (Madagascar 3)

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Best of 2012: Who Says Comics Are For Kids?

This is supposed to be a blog about books. Unfortunately, I haven't been reading many books. It's not that I DON'T READ anymore, I just don't read with the same ferocity I used to in the past, when I would devour novels by the series.

These days, I still read a lot, but I've been a lot more selective with my reading. In fact, I've been reading a lot more comics and graphic novels lately... actually, ever since I got my iPad, that's pretty much 90% of my reading material these days. It's not that comics are any easier to read (I dare you to read Transmetropoliton or The Invisibles, and tell me that it's "for kids"), it's just that at this stage, I kinda like the wild imagination and creativity that some of these comics have.

Sure, some of the superhero stuff can be pretty run-of-the-mill, but even those are getting better - Mark Waid's Daredevil is superb, and Matt Fraction's Hawkeye is one of my favorite comics this year. Some of the new DC 52 (Scott Snyder's Batman and Animal Man) and Marvel NOW (Indestructible Hulk, FF) titles are pretty good too - I should know I've read almost all of them.

Anyway, enough about my reading habits. Here is a list of some of my favorite comics and graphic novels of 2012. Even if you don't usually read comics, I highly recommend you give these titles a try

Writer: Matt Fraction
Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye is the greatest sharp-shooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This book is about what he does when he is NOT being an Avenger. Brilliantly written (by Matt Fraction) and fabulously drawn (by David Aja), this series hits the bullseye with its sharp dialogue, great humour and the most likable version of Hawkeye yet.

Hellboy In Hell
Writer/artist: Mike Mignola
Hellboy is dead, and he's in Hell. That's all you really need to know. Mike Mignola makes a welcome return to the Hellboy-verse, writing AND drawing the newly-launched Hellboy In Hell series, and featuring Hellboy in, well, Hell.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
I loved Vaughn's Ex-Machina and Y: The Last Man. Those two had some of the coolest premises ever (though they also had a rather anti-climatic finale), and Saga pretty much follows in that vein. It's kinda like a love story about a pair of lovers from different sides of an galactic war, and their kid. Yeah, it sounds simple, but the story and art is jsut brilliantly fun.

The New Deadwardians
Writer: Dan Abnett
This new Vertigo eight-issue series featured a new twist to the usual “zombie apocalypse” tale, setting an intriguing murder mystery in a world where in order to save themselves from being eaten by zombies, the richer half of society take a “cure” that turns them into emotionless, immortal vampires instead.

Writer: Matt Kindt
A mind-numbing, mind-bending, mind-blowing mindfuck about a mind-managing secret organisation that secretly controls the world. The story is richly detailed, with so many little Easter eggs and extras in each issue. One of my favorite comics this year, and the latest entry in my "Read this if you still think comics are for kids" list of comics for people who still think comics are for kids.

Batman: Death Of The Family
Writer: Scott Snyder
Snyder writes the awesome American Vampire series for Vertigo, and this New 52 story arc features Joker at his most chilling and psychotic best.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Despite what most "serious comic fans" say, I love the Ultimate Marvel universe because of the way they just fuck about with all the conventions in the normal superhero comics. While the new Spider-man Miles Morales still takes some getting used to, transporting the main Peter Parker Spider-man into the Ultimate universe (where he is supposed to be dead) was a brilliatn idea; and Parker meeting the Ultimate version of Aunt May and Gwen is one of my favorite comic moments of 2012.

Writer: Mark Millar
This was a real hoot to read. Millar is in top form writing about a team of super-villains who get together for one last, MASSIVE heist - stealing from the greatest super-villain of all time. If you like Millar's violent, sweary Millarworld stuff, don't miss this one.

Punk Rock Jesus
Writer: Sean Murphy
I first heard about this title at the Vertigo panel at the San Diego Comic Con, where the panelists of Vertigo writers were gushing over it like it was the second coming of well, Jesus. True enough, this is a hard hitting book about a future where some corporation tries to clone Jesus Christ in a Truman Show-esque reality show, but does such a bad job raising him that he eventually becomes a punk rocker.

Honorable mentions:
- Marvel NOW: Indestructible Hulk (Mark Waid)
- Marvel NOW: FF (Mark Fraction)
- Justice League Dark (Jeff Lemire)
- 47 Ronin (Mike Richardson / Stan Sakai)
- Building Stories (Chris Ware)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tom's Cruise Reaches Jack.

Jack Reacher.
Not A Review
Tom Cruise kicks ass!
No, really.
He's actually pretty good here.

This is a pretty solid movie.
Good writing, good acting,
good action, good script,
Like a feature length CSI/Sherlock/Bourne hybrid,
With a kick ass Tom Cruise.

The only thing that's missing is a hot babe,
Rosamund Pike is fine,
She may be a former cleavage revealing Bond Girl,
But here she's no cleavage revealing "Reacher Girl",
(ok, she does show cleavage, but not in THAT way)
She's actually pretty good here too.

But really, this is all about Tom Cruise,
And how un-Tom Cruise-like he is here.
No billion dollar megawatt smile,
And no posturing around like he owns the world.
This my favorite Tom Cruise movie since Collateral.

If you've ever had any reason whatsoever,
To doubt his ability to carry a movie on his own,
(Not that you would, come on, it's TOM CRUISE)
This will prove you wrong.
As Jack Reacher, he is great,
Cool, charismatic, and sometimes snarky and cocky
But Oh so fun to watch..
Yes, he is nigh invincible,
(No he doens't have a superpower)
(he just EXUDES an aura of invincibility)

Story is pretty good too,
Like something out of Person Of Interest,
Good flow, great action, good script,
And some THRILLING sequences,
Especially that part looking through the sniper's scope.
And one heck of a car chase.

I wouldn't mind watching a sequel of this,
Though I get the feeling it'll work better as a TV show.
It already feels like Person of Interest without the Machine
And thanks to Tom Cruise,
Jack Reacher is one hell of a character.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Stop Preaching And Beat Up Some Bad Guys Already, Jackie.

Not a review.
After all that mucking about with dramatic roles,
Jackie Chan is back!
Well, sort of.
He goes back to the old school sort of stunts and action,
But it's very clear that he's too old for this shit already.

I missed this Jackie Chan.
The one that used to fall off clock towers,
Hang off buses with umbrellas,
And fly around KL on a helicopter rope ladder.
Sure, he's older now, And not so fast,
even when he's wearing a roller suit.

Ok, the plot is pretty dumb,
and the middle part in the jungle is jawdroppingly BAD
(featuring the stupidest pirates ever filmed)
The dialouge is HORRENDOUS.
English? French? Mandarin?

Hmmm, cute girl though.
But VERY VERY Annoyingly self-righteous.
Wanted to slap her a few times.
No cleavage rating though.
But really, if you wanted cleavage,
You should have gone to the recent press conference in KL
She didn't just show cleavage,
She was almost TOPLESS.
(No, I can't publish those photos here, heh)

Still, it's Jackie Chan.
The action is still pretty good.
The sofa fight against the Vulture was great,
And that final fight in the factory was awesome,
but still a bit tame by his earlier standards
And he recycled all his old tricks,
Like, stop whacking your balls with sticks already, Jackie.

Oh, and yes we get it, Jackie.
Stolen national relics should go back to their countries.
Doesn't mean you have to keep HAMMERING on about it.
To the point of being overwhelmingly PREACHY.
go beat up some bad guys already.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

By Thorin's Beard, I've Missed Middle Earth...

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Not a Review.
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.
It wasn't just any hobbit, mind,
And this is the story of how he went there and back again.

Ah, it's good to be back in Middle Earth.
The Hobbit theme still brings a fond tear to my eye.
And Gandalf! Dear Gandalf.
Ian Mckellen is still as wizardly as ever.
And he kicks a lot more ass too!
And of course... Bilbo!

Martin Freeman is EXCELLENT as Bilbo Baggins.
Every single thing he does, his speech, mannerisms,
His little twitches, hand gestures, and even his eyes,
Were exactly like I imagine Bilbo Baggins to be like.
Tentative, yet curious; timid yet courageous,
He's now my favorite Hobbit in the ENTIRE series.

Ok now, deep breath...
Dori, Nori, Ori, Gloin, Oin, Kili, Fili,
Bombur, Bofur, Bifur, Balin, Dwalin...
And Thorin Oakenshield.
Other than Balin, Dwalin, Kili, Bombur,
Bofur (or was it Bifur?), and Thorin,
I really couldn't tell which dwarf was which half the time.

Thorin is great though.
Kinda like what I imagine him to be, actually.
Though he's like a surlier, emo version of the one in the book,
With a lot more backstory and baggage.
And oooh, I'd love to have a replica of Orcrist.

Oooh, Riddles In The Dark!
One of my favorite parts of the book!
And it turned out to be one of the best parts of the movie!
Gollum! Gollum!
The poor wretched thing...
Give Andy Serkis an Oscar already!

It's lighter and funnier than LOTR,
(Just like the books, mind you),
And there certainly are some slow parts.
But it's no slower than the first half of FOTR was.
In fact, unlike all the Arwen toilet breaks in LOTR,
Here, I could only identify one certifiable toilet break.

In fact, the slower, quieter scenes were actually my favorites.
(other than that toilet break scene, of course)
Sure, the action was BIG and LOUD,
But somehow they didn't really register as resonantly,
As say... The Bridge of Khazad-dum.
I can't wait for the Battle Of the Five Armies though.
And SMAUG! Can't wait for SMAUG!

At first I was confusticated and bebothered about the "Trilogy"
I thought they really should have kept it at TWO movies.
But after watching the first one,
AND then re-reading the book,
I realized that it DOES make sense after all.

The Hobbit is such a short book, sure,
But there is A LOT going on in there.
The first movie only comes up to Chapter SIX of the book,
And almost ALL the major set-pieces ARE in the book.
Stone giants, the Great Goblin, the three trolls...
They could have done without the Radagast scenes though.

Yes, there ARE embellishments to the story,
As Gandalf would say, the best tales always have some.
But for the most part, they've stayed true to the book.
Though I figure certain scenes were probably there,
Just so the old gang could get together.

It's like a companion piece to LOTR,
With some very familiar faces.
Just don't set your expectations too high though.
It aims for the grandeur and epic scale of  LOTR, but doesn't quite get there.
(I don't get why people complain about the "frame rate" though).
(Seemed fine to me)

Do I like it?
Yeah I liked it.
It's probably 30 minutes too long,
And certain scenes ARE rather slow.
But it's still par for the course.
Besides, it's THE HOBBIT.
And it's worth it watching just to go back to Middle Earth...

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Biggest, Baddest, Warewolf Sale On The Planet

So, yesterday I went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale. And I bought a lot of books. The End.

What, you wanna know how the whole thing was like? Ok fine.

Location-wise, yes it's in Balakong (Mines), but it's a lot better than the LAST place, where we had to take a shuttle bus from the car park to the sale. This time, you just park inside the convention center, and walk up.

And no, unlike this dude, you can't park IN the hall itself:

Darn VIP Wolf.

Anyway, here's my first tip: if you're going for the sale, BRING YOUR OWN BAG. Preferably one with wheels. Don't have one? You can buy one at the entrance hall!

You can also buy T-shirts and other Big Bad Wolf merchandise (WAH BOOK SALE ALSO GOT OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE!), and the designs are not bad too:

But never mind the car, the shirts and the bags... HOW IS THE SALE???

Well, let's head in, shall we?


Ficton, non-fiction, fantasy, Sci-fi, children's books, magazines, coookbooks... there are literally TONS of books in there. Of course, as soon as I went in, I made a beeline for the graphic novel section, where I saw quite a number of familiar faces already hoarding the mostly Marvel stuff there:

It's safe to say that about 85% of the graphic novels at BBW were mostly Marvel trade paperbacks and hardcovers. there's some good stuff in there though - stuff by Frank Miller, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Marvels by Alex Ross... hardly any DC or books from other publishers around though.

Most of the graphic novels were priced from RM15, RM18, RM20, RM25 or RM30. There's also a few tables of manga but... meh.

I spent most of my 3 hours there at the comics section, but I also managed to take one quick round around the hall to pick up a few other things. Funnily enough, novels don't interest me much anymore, but I did find some great drinks books though:

I'd say the average price of each normal paperback is about RM8, though I saw some for RM5, RM10 and up to RM20 for hardcovers I think.

I have to say, this year's sale has to be one of the best planned and most organised book sales I've ever been to. They've pretty much thought of EVERYTHING to make book shoppers feel comfortable. No sifting through dusty boxes, no hot, stuffy warehouses... everything is neat and tidy, and browsing in the hall was pretty easy.

They've also got massage chairs (for those who are too tired to browse), food halls (books make you hungry!), and children's playgrounds (for the kids to spend their time), and the whole hall has nice cheerful colorful banners all over the place:

They've even got STORAGE SPACE for you to keep your unpaid stash (it's got a number system so you don't lose your books), so you don't have to zealously lug your precious stash around all the time!

This is an exceptionally great but evil plan, because it just makes you go back out there empty handed, and buy more stuff!

Don't worry if you can't carry all them books on your own though - they've even got porter services for you!

Yeah, I found the service at this year's sale to be pretty damn good. The so-called "Wolf Pack" were mostly friendly, and even offer to carry your stuff as you approach the cashier.

Maybe it's because it's just the first day and they're all still pretty fresh. I wonder how they'd be like by the end of the week... hehe.

SOOOO... in the end, what did I get? Well, my total damage came up to RM311 (I left my credit card at home and brought only about RM300 to the sale), and here's what I got:

  1. Marvel Secret Wars TP
  2. Marvel Secret Invasion TP
  3. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (Frank Millar)
  4. Wolverine (Frank Miller)
  5. Wolverine: Weapon-x (Barry Windsor-Smith)
  6. Wolverine: Logan (Brian K. Vaughn)
  7. Fantastic Four: 1234 (Grant Morrison)
  8. Fantastic Four: World's Greatest (Mark Millar)
  9. Captain America: Man Out Of Time (Mark Waid)
  10. Spider-Man: Election Day
  11. Spider-Man: One More Day
  12. Spider-Man Mark Millar Ultimate Collection
  13. 50% Wool 50% Asinine (RM8) - a collection of Argyle Sweater strips
  14. Watching The Watchmen (RM25) - Dave Gibbbons on drawing the comic
  15. The Beatles (RM15) - a hardcover coffee table book with loads of pictures)
  16. The Everything Bartender's Book (RM5)
  17. The Ultimate Guide To Spirits And Cocktails (RM20) - by far the best deal in my entire haul. only RM20 for a super thick, super detailed reference book
  18. Shade's Children (Garth Nix) - The only novel I bought there.


In case you STILL need it, here are the details for the sale:

Date: 7-23 December 2012
Time: 9am-9pm
Venue: Mines Convention Centre