The Critics Can Suck It, I liked Suckerpunch

There was a ridiculous amount of hype for Suckerpunch. It was inevitable with such a gorgeous, scantily clad cast and Zach Snyder at the helm.

Then the bad reviews started rolling in and with 80% of percent of my Blondie costume done, you can’t blame a gal for being a little anxious. But you know what? The critics can suck it. I enjoyed Suckerpunch.

Emily Browning’s character, Babydoll, is institutionalized by her stepfather and is scheduled for a labotomy in 5 days. She retreats into her mind and has these dream within a dream fantasies about finding a way to escape with the help of four other inmates — Rocket (Jenna Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung).

Yes, the film’s strongest point is that it’s just so visually stunning (And I’m not just talking about Abbie Cornish. Oh, Abbie. Make an honest woman out me. ♥), but the core of it had potential. The plot and character development was a little lacking, but I think that was mostly due to the scenes they cut out to get the rating down from an R to a PG-13. I’m hoping they come out with a director’s cut because I’m insanely curious about that scene with Jon Hamm and the Burlesque stage numbers that they edited out.

The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. Emily Browning does a hauntingly beautiful cover of “Sweet Dreams” that you should watch out for and the songs they used for the fight scenes just made everything so much more bad-ass.

Suckerpunch’s biggest fault is that it was over hyped. Forget the hype. It’s a fun (up to the second half which I can’t explain without spoiling) movie that’s an odd-but-kinda-works combination of girl-power and a fanboy’s wet dream.

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Gotham City Sirens #20 – Hell Hath No Fury Part One

I don’t know what Ivy and Catwoman are doing on the cover, but they weren’t in this issue at all. Stunning cover art by Guillem March as usual though.

So issue #19 ends with Harley finally snapping and deciding to go after the Joker for everything she’s had to put up with during the course of their relationship.

The thing about Harley Quinn is, it’s so easy to just picture her as the token fun-loving, ditzy blonde of the group. What we tend to forget is that before she fell in love with the Joker and went loony, she was Arkham Asylum psychologist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

The Harley Quinn  in this issue is cunning, strategic, a tad bit cruel and written with a depth that I’ve never read or watched before. Here, we  see Harley as a psychiatrist and how she uses that to her tactical advantage.

Now, I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten frustrated and sworn off Gotham City Sirens only to pick up the next issue when it comes out, but #20 makes me glad I haven’t completely given up on it.

Here’s hoping the rest of this story arc doesn’t disappoint.

Young Justice

I don’t think I was alone in slightly recoiling in horror when it was revealed that the Robin and Kid Flash in Young Justice were going to be Dick Grayson (former Robin, former Nightwing & currently one of of two Batmans) and Wally West (former Kid Flash, currently one of two Flash-es), but like most things I’m initially skeptic of, I was wrong and this arrangement actually worked. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Young Justice is the latest DC animated series for Cartoon Network focusing on the teenage counterparts of Justice League members. The pilot opens with Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy and Aqualad finally gaining access to the Justice League headquarters as step one in their eventual initiation into the league. When the headquarters turns out to just be a glorified façade for a teleporter to the actual League HQ, Speedy goes all John Hughes angst and quits. In an effort to prove their worth, the remaining three decide to take on a Justice League mission without their mentors’ knowledge.

The pilot centers on Superboy’s origin, as well as a short appearance by Miss Martian. As of Episode 3, Artemis has yet to make an appearance.

This had me sold in the first 10 minutes of the pilot. Of course, there have only been three episodes aired but I am hooked. I understand now why the producers opted for Dick and Wally over their successors. They’ve both got a really great sense of humor that works well in a series like this.

The writing and the animation are top notch and this is the best scene ever:

via fuckyeahdickgrayson.tumblr.com

Character design is okay. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I’m a Timmverse fangirl, don’t listen to me. I do like the way Robin’s costume was redesigned, with his computer in his gloves and shit.

With the exception of Superboy channeling Christian Bale in the Dark Knight, the voice acting is pretty good. Although, once you realise Jesse McCartney is voicing Robin, it kind of ruins the moment. At least he voice acts better than he sings.

So far the only thing I really dislike about it is how Miss Martian keeps going, “He-llo, Megan!” It’s really annoying and makes her look like a complete ditz. I’m hoping Artemis will balance out the annoying once she joins the team.

With all the fuckery that’s going on in the Batman universe right now, (Bruce dead, Bruce alive. I still haven’t gotten over Final crisis) Young Justice is refreshing. I am sufficiently whelmed.

Shogun (1980)

For Christmas I got my dad-the-James-Clavell-fan the DVD box set of the 1980’s mini-series adaptation of, “Shogun”. (Who ironically, hasn’t gotten past the first disc, while my brother and mom have watched all 9-hours of it in one sitting on separate occasions.)

Shogun’s one of my favourite books, and I always felt like I was missing out whenever friends (well, not really, “friends”. Mostly my high school Art and English teachers plus Papa.)  talk about the mini-series.

Set in feudal Japan, Shogun centres around John Blackthorne, a shipwrecked British pilot, as he learns the intricacies of 17th century Japan culture, politics, religion and language. Blackthorne gains the confidence of Toranaga, a feudal lord vying to be the next Shogun, and is the first foreigner ever to be made a Samurai. What was so great about it is, they intentionally don’t subtitle the Japanese dialogue which adds to the tension and conflict and really puts you in Blackthorne’s shoes.

I was pleasantly surprised by Father Alvito, who I imagined in the book to be an old, balding man but turned out to be a really hot, slightly sinister-looking piece of man-meat.

Mmm-mmm. ♥

Hot priests aside,, if you’re a fan of the book, you will not be disappointed. If you haven’t read the book and like Samurai and historical dramas, then you should definitely check the series out. And while you’re at it, read the book!

The Last Unicorn Comic

I had been putting off reading the comic adaptation of The Last Unicorn for a while now. While I love this story to bits, I had already read the book and watched the animated movie countless times and really didn’t feel the need to read its latest incarnation.

I picked it up on a whim a couple of weeks ago and of course, the art just has to be absolutely stunning.

Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon still manage to keep it in the same neighbourhood as the animated movie, but improve on it greatly. It’s also reminiscent of Charles Vess’s work (on Stardust, particularly), which I adore.

My only issue is with the pacing. Not that it isn’t paced well, though. This was slated to be a 6-part series, I’m on the 4th issue and they’re only at the part where Amalthea and Schmendrick  meet up with Captain Cully and his men in the forest. That’s still a lot of plot to cover in two more issues and I’m hoping they don’t rush the last few issues

I thought this was going to follow the pacing of the movie, which I felt left too much out but Peter B. Gillis does a great job of adapting the book for the comic without losing anything.

So if you’ve watched the movie and want to read the book but can’t find a copy or can’t be arsed to read books without pictures…

If it's the latter, Belle is judging you!

… then the comic is a great way to get into Peter S. Beagle’s original work.

Superman Batman: Apocalypse

I’m sorry but am I the only one bothered by  the outlined upper lips on Supes and Bats?  Anyone?

Finally, an animated movie that I’ve read the comics it was based on haha! Apocalypse is based on “The Super Girl from Krypton” arc in the Superman Batman series by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner. Although this was pretty faithful to the source material,  it didn’t exactly blow me away. But then again, the whole Superman Batman series doesn’t blow me away to begin with, I just read it for the homoeroticism.

Moving on.

I mostly watched this because Kevin Conroy was reprising his role as Batman but the best parts for me were the bits that had either Wonder Woman and/or Big Barda in it.  Barda’s a pretty recent favourite and I really need to read more stuff with her in it so any excuse to watch her is awesome.

Whoever choreographed the fight scenes must be a big wrestling fan — which I am not —  but there was this one epic scene with Wonder Woman and Lashina’s whip thing. (Sounds kinky)

Moving on.

I thought the Clark-Kara shopping montage was wa-ay too long and it was very, very cheesy. The final battle between Darkseid, Supes and Kara also took much time.

I wish they’d shorten those scenes and lengthened the scenes on Themyscira. Because I love me some Amazons.

Overall, I thought it was okay. Nothing spectacular, but worth watching.

Note: This entry was published late because I was too lazy make the screencaps earlier. Screencaps, that I just realised don’t have either Batman, Superman or Supergirl in them haha!

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

My DS basically exists for two things: the Ace Attourney series and the Professor Layton series. So in between those game releases, my DS doesn’t get a lot of use. When I got my copy, I tried to really take my time and to make it last as long as I could but I just could not put it down.

The Unwound Future is the 3rd of the 5 Layton games, but is the last in the series’ fictional chronology.  So yes, I might have cried a little at the ending.

Just a little.

DON’T JUDGE ME.

Production this time around was an improvement, adding more voice overs and more animated sequences which, like always were exquisitely done. The main reason I was so drawn to this series in the beginning was its art, which is reminiscent of Miyazaki but with a little more steampunk and an earthier palette.

The game starts off with a time machine experiment gone terribly wrong and a letter 10 years from the future. With much of the plot involving time travel into the future, there is a huge emphasis on Layton’s past which has never been tackled before.

I do have one nitpick. Like its predecessors, the plot has a twist in the end but unlike the previous games, I found this twist a little contrived and predictable. There is a huge heart-wrenching moment near the end that more than makes up for  the weak plot twist. So yes, I might have cried a little.

Just a little.

STOP JUDGING ME.

Next up for an English release is Professor Layton and the Specter’s Flute which is rumoured to be released sometime next year. Until then, I’m going to finish up the puzzles I didn’t find or get to solve during the game itself.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I actually only started reading the comics after the movie adaptation was announced. After the first few volumes, I was hooked, but a little skeptic how it was going to make the transition to film. When I found out  Edgar Wright would be directing it, I thought well, if it won’t turn out as a great adaptation it’ll at least be funny.

And it was all kinds of funny. Wright did a great job of bringing the comic to the screen. I thought he omitted, added and modified just the right scenes to make the story’s transition to screen work.

The real star of the show however is Kieran Culkin, who  was amazing as Wallace Wells.

I pretty much have no complaints. Except maybe for Michael Cera.

I’m not gonna lie though, the comic reads like Michael Cera but I’m getting a little tired of his one-note performances. He does succeed as Scott Pilgrim in one crucial aspect though: If Cera’s life had a face, you’d really want to punch it.

So far, the only not-so-enthusiastic reviews I’ve heard are from people who haven’t read the comic and maybe that’s where it fails as a movie. The comic itself is a little jarring when you first read it, but if you’re a fan of the comic, you should definitely check it out.

CATS in Manila!

Despite the rain, the unusually heavy traffic and the flooded streets, the family and I headed to CCP yesterday evening to watch CATS.

How can I even begin to describe finally watching CATS live on stage and in person after watching it over and over on video these past couple of decades?

We bought our tickets  in January and last night marked the end of a long, excruciating, seven-month wait. The moment the lights came on and the first notes of the overture sounded, I was already fighting back tears. Watching it on video is nothing compared to watching it live.

Photo via CatsinManila

What I enjoyed the most (possible spoilers ahead):

  • Before the start of the show and during the intermission, the actors go down the aisles and interact with the audience.
    When I was making my way back to my seat, I was surprised by Carbucketty, who rubbed up against me. He and another cat (I didn’t get a good enough look at him to identify him) gamely posed for photos before returning backstage for the second act.
  • Memory in Tagalog!
    In, “The Moments Of Happiness/Memory“, Sillabub sings a verse of Memory  in Tagalog which was such a wonderful touch. It made the performance so personal. I wonder if they did that in the other countries they toured in too.
  • Growltiger’s Last Stand!
    This scene was not in the video so it was a spectacular surprise. There’s a part in it where Griddlebone does an aria and her voice was phenomenal. Gave me chills!

Photo via CatsinManila on Facebook

  • The Rum Tum Tugger has always been my favourite Jellicle cat, and I had very high expectations but John O’Hara did not disappoint. Far from it. I actually like him better than the Rum Tum Tugger on the original London cast recording. If my feet weren’t dying from the heels I wish I hadn’t worn, I would have waited outside the Artists’ entrance to get a photo with him or something haha.

My only qualm (Aside from the neanderthals seated with us on Balcony 1 who refused to sit down properly. I spent a good deal of time watching the back of their heads contemplating their deaths) is a minor one: Lea Salonga, as beautiful and goosebump-inducing her voice is, wasn’t convincing as Grizabella. Her rendition of, “Memory” lacked the anguish and the grit that I loved in Elaine Paige’s performance.

Even so, if I had an extra Php 4,000 I would absolutely watch CATS again before the end of its extended run on August 22. Because Jellicle songs are for Jellicle cats!

Batman: Gotham Knight – Not quite a review

Sometime last year, my friend, Sarah asked me on Facebook about what I thought of Batman: Gotham Knight, which is is a series of animated shorts by different writers and different Japanese animation studios.  She had read my post on B:tas and was surprised I didn’t have one on Gotham Knight.

So I watched it, got bored after ten minutes, fell asleep. Watched it again a week after, got through the second short, then lost interest. Then almost a year later, I remember I never got around to writing that review. Hahaha. Oh dear.

It’s not that it was bad, bad. I thought, at least with the two shorts I watched, that the animation was smooth and the action sequences, fluid. But it just couldn’t hold my attention long enough.

The problem I had with it and the reason I was so bored with it despite all its shiny fight scenes was, throughout the shorts, this Batman was just a cardboard cut-out. Batman is driven by his emotions, by his grief and guilt,  and I felt like they left that and his humanity  out in Gotham Knight.

Maybe it gets better after the second short, maybe it’s consistent throughout all six shorts, I don’t know.  I guess for the sake of fandom and if you like Nolan’s take on Batman, it’s worth a watch, just not worth a re-watch.