Jul 22, 2014

[Comics] Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

I figured I needed to invest some time in catching up on some of my comic book related reviews - it also gives me time to finish some of the more complex novels that I'm in the middle of reading. And one of the comic book series that I've enjoyed quite a lot are the various Oz adaptations released by Marvel Comics. And while they've finally ended this project of sorts (so sad!) that still leaves us with a few more adaptations to discuss.

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz is the fourth such graphic novel adaptation of the popular Oz books following their original cycle of release. And admittedly it's not quite a story I was totally familiar with off the top of my head - there are significant gaps in my Oz knowledge, I'm afraid. Thus these Marvel Comics releases have been interesting little adventures in the Land of Oz, at least for me.

But more than anything else, I love these comics because of Skottie Young's brilliant, playful art style that so perfectly captures the land of Oz. Who cares if the stories are a tad simplistic given the time they were written and the major fact that they target children. Everything just comes together nicely in these books and I'm glad that they exist, even if only for a select number of Oz adventures.

Jul 21, 2014

[Movies] Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Tobie and I had rather enjoyed the 2011 reboot movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Despite it having James Franco in it, the movie was quite the powerful tale and it became one of the key examples of why Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar. But as fun as the movie had been and the way it had ended, I never really expected them to seriously consider a sequel. But here we are talking about that very movie.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was positioned as a direct sequel to that same movie, which is a good thing since it shows we're all ignoring the strange 2001 remake by Tim Burton.

Admittedly I didn't pay too much attention to the development of this movie. There are quite a number of movies that are dominating the media conversations and this one just sort of slipped by the radar. Thus without having seen too many trailers and reading potential spoilers about the plot, I was generally passive about wanting to watch the movie or not. But given the recent rotating power outages in the city after Typhoon Glenda, we found ourselves trying to beat the heat in a cinema. And it was totally worth it.

Jul 20, 2014

[Movies] Muli (2010)

I've yet to see a local LGBT movie that really impressed me in a significant way. A lot of independent cinema tends to lean heavily on stories that embellish concepts like poverty and our LGBT indies tend to focus on the tropes of forbidden love. To be fair, a lot of LGBT movies around touch on this same topic a lot given how it happens a lot of us during our times in the closet. Classic point of focus.

Muli tried to marry this classic story with Philippine history, particularly the traumatic Martial Law years. It's a decent enough strategy - take a decently emotional story and slap it on a highly emotional period in our nation's history. Get two good-looking actors to bring the story to life - this stuff practically makes it itself, right?

The movie wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. And looking at other reviews online, it's interesting how diverse the reactions to this piece have been. I suppose it's only fair - when you take material like this, some folks will just get swept away by the mood that this movie tries to create. Or you can see past the trappings and see something else entirely. That's the joy of film criticism - the many possible differences of opinion.

Jul 18, 2014

[Movies] X2 (2003)

The first X-Men movie was a decent achievement in film making, but of course it also felt like it was still testing the waters of how things could go. The sequel, X2, certainly took off the kid gloves and tries to fully embrace the superhero nature of the characters through the colorful medium known as the Hollywood blockbuster.

Love it or hate it, the movie was quite the financial success and did pretty well even among movie critics. And personally, I have to admit that I enjoyed this movie a lot more than the first one, probably because of how campy it ended up being and of course how awesome Nightcrawler was implemented as a character.

Of course on the comic book front, the story only borrowed elements from certain comic book stories while significantly twisting others into weird forms. If I were more of an X-Men comic book fan or purist, then I suppose I would have been a bit more offended by how things turned out. Even without that context, I could recognize how there was an attempt to mix and match different elements of the X-Men mythos into a single movie, which sort of muddied things a bit towards the end.

Jul 17, 2014

[TV] Game of Thrones: Season 3

So I'm still playing catch-up with theses reviews of the Game of Thrones TV series and now we're finally at the third season - a particularly memorable one when you think about it. And as he go deeper and deeper into this rather epic tale of the kingdoms of Westeros and beyond, one has to consider just how much has changed.

This third season of Game of Thrones was pretty eventful and featured one of many key scenes that book fans have known about for some time and in many ways had been looking forward to seeing how it would be depicted on-screen. But at the same time I think book fans were more eager to see how TV fans would react to key events in the season.

More than any other season of the show, I think this third season really polarized the TV fan base and also drove a large social media debate about the nature of spoilers and all that fun stuff. And more than anything else, it really just shows just how powerful this piece of television is. It may not be perfect and everyone may not like it equally, but it's certainly doing something brilliant on television.

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