Monday, February 28, 2011

Black Swan: Movie Review

Creepy, Brutal, Honest, and most of all, REAL. This is Black Swan. Humanity's most depressing and most utterly real depiction of insanity and how far the human capacity can take you. And for such a dark, depressing, horrifyingly splendid story to be told by Natalie Portman under the helm of Darren Aronofsky (I thank you sir for giving me The Wrestler. Truly I do), this is not something you want to miss.

Nina Sayers is proficient in ballet. She works in a theatrical company that gave her a shot as the Swan Queen of a play called Swan Lake. But the story is a dark one. A princess was cursed into a White Swan and only true love's kiss can break the spell. However, her identical twin Black Swan seduces the prince who will never be with her anymore. And so, she kills herself. While that is the play, Nina's story is somewhat more, psychotic and truly gripping. This is the story of one who strives for perfection, and at the worst part, gets it.

I think Darren has really done, again, another fantastic job. Hot of the heels from the Wrestler and backed by an awesome Mickey Rourke, its a like a guy project that now turns into a girl project, and with such finesse displayed. Shots are amazing, creepy, haunting, and wonderful while the script is so simple that it does not need any convolution inside.

And I think Natalie Portman's performance has been spoken to death. But if you were to ask me, something does not feel right. Perhaps its a little feeling that I wanted more out of her (Like Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole instead) but this is still an Oscar worthy nominee performance. Truly something you do not want to miss.

Aside from how I wanted Natalie to do a lot more in this movie, it seems to be my only gripe. Much of Nina's relationship with her mother is not fully explained but if you were to take it plainly, there's much to expand. There's a lot more that could be told.

And now, to the SPOILERS PART.

Truly, this is how we all strive to be in our perfectionist mode. And it does not help when you have a psychotic tendency to meddle yourself in schizophrenia. But everything about the movie has been explained since the beginning: In order to be perfect, you must let yourself go. Which is why exactly it was correct for her to want the part of White and Black Swan together that she ended, by stabbing herself. Only when she realized who she had stabbed in the first place that she decided (yes, DECIDED) to bleed. The human brain is much powerful than you can expect for sure.

Now through the journey you will be greeted by how evil we all are. In order to gain something, we lose something. The best part was how Thomas displayed such a wonderful display of wanting Nina that bad but he was actually trying to make Nina lose herself. That was wonderful. Such trickery that the audience wants to know what have they been lied to. I hate to say it, but this is really where sex played such a huge role, that it worked. And I oppose having sex scenes in movies since they can always find another way to do this.

To me, I laughed because I understood. And that's creepy. Because how far we are willing to go for human perfection without even being called or labelled as evil to others is what all of us has inside. the idea has always been to acknowledge that we are our own worst enemy. And it is something neither of us are willing to change with.

Kyo's Score: 9.5/10. When bars are raised, so is the score. This would've been perfect if it was me reviewing a few years back though.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marvel vs Capcom 3: PS3 Game Review

Above is the cover for the Japanese version, and its much better than the US version. Lucky for R3 buyers, they get double cover. So we won in that respect. For the game however, its sort of a hit and miss.

Marvel Clashes Again With Capcom. This was a long time coming since fans have waited for 10 years for this to come out. Was done as an April Fool Joke also before. So when last year it was announced, everyone in the fighting community shat bricks.

What's good is that this game has 2 modes, offline and online. Offline having a few extras like arcade which gives you an ending, depending on which character you use to beat Galactus as the final boss. Mission mode where you get to practice combos and learn some new combos even. Training mode is, as it is. And versus for offline multiplayer.

I'm not sure where to start, so lets go with the players first. The fighters are all... ok. Some feel overpowered but its not a feeling of broken. You have guys like Thor being slow but supremely powerful, or even Dante and Wesker as S tiered characters. 36 of them (4 needs to be unlocked) are available in disc, but I can't help but feel that its just too low, considering how Capcom is intending to release more DLCs of characters soon. I always believed that if you want to make a game right, give us the full thing.

But the main issue is how battles are fought. You have 6 buttons. Light, Medium, Strong attacks, Specials to launch enemies for air combos, and partner 1 and 2 for assist. And it is WAY too easy to execute combos. Frankly, even Tatsunoko Vs Capcom is much harder than this. So its very easy to pick up and play, but mastering it may be a different question. But that being said, after playing this for a while you just know that you can master it in a short duration of time. Gone are the days where executing combos would be magnificent (MvC. No. Not even MvC 2.).

Also, my other gripe is the fact that the health bar feels too low for medium. MvC2 used to be much much longer. yeah, you can change, but it still does not take away the fact that the fights with your fave characters ends in 15 seconds if you're that good in exploiting.

Graphics are ok if you ask me. Nothing mesmerizing though. Music... is a hit and miss. While I love remixes from the characters (Iron Man and Cap America still reigns), the character select song left much to be desired. I think Capcom forgot this is not Street Fighter 4, but rather is MvC. Those 2 are very different where this is all about good fun.

But its not saying that this game is not fun. it just feels, cheap. Thank God for the low price of RM 130 though. If not, I may be screaming.

Good to have story endings where MvC2 lacked. but hated the fact that I know this game can pack a lot more stuffings, but Capcom decides not to.

Online is a problem. Some games just feels horribly laggy. The best part though, is that if you're having a laggy connection, you can train your input settings in Training mode. Quite nifty, but wait til you get a disconnect and then you're screwed.

It is a fun game, nonetheless. but there is much left to be desired. I feel like i have the same problem when i played KOF XII on PS3. There's just so much to be desired to put it on par with other older fighting games. Long time fans may find a bit of good time to be had, but new players may turn them off.

Kyo's Score: 7.5/10. This is what you get when you don't release a full game when it should be. There's just too much left to that you know Capcom is going to steal your money.

Graphics: Nothing extraordinary.
Story: There's an ending for every character. So beat them to know their story.
Gameplay: Leaves much to be desired although you can still have a good time with the normal fighting.
Replay value: 360 missions to complete, online fights, constant update of character DLCs, if you love this then you'll be here for a long... time. :D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am Number Four: Exclusive Movie Review

After winning free movie tickets (Credits to Afdzal for giving me the opt. :D) to this movie, I was quite excited. Buzzes in the country were illuminated (pun intended) because of the special mention of Malaysia. But to tell you the truth, the Malaysia part was not even shown, just written. But back to the movie, this is not that bad of an attempt nor effort. Its quite good, even if you have to ponder certain things in this soon to be franchise movie. I hope.

Four is an alien from another planet. And the bad guys are chasing after him. There's 9 of them on Earth, and the Mogs are chasing them one by one. Weirdly, in order. Why? Don't ask because I have no idea. So with 3 dead, Four is now the focus. As he runs from... where did he run again from to Paradise, Ohio, he's constantly being hunted. Protected by his guardian Henri (Cool Timothy Olyphant), witnessed by unlikely friends Sarah (Quinn from Glee) and Sam (Dad went missing because of aliens), they are now on the run hoping to beat the Mogs out of Earth and further save their lives.

The movie is quite promising, and its not that bad of an effort. nitty gritty details can make you feel that its trying so hard to be a detailed movie (MJ's song that he watches you is the ringtone from Henri's calls), it leaves a lot to be answered. So you'd feel bad if you watched the movie for a story. Just grasp for a simpler premise of what is being established and you should be fine.

Shots were so so. Nothing astounding. Seems also to be borrowed by Assassin's Creed (I know how to "blend in". Puts up hoodie. and Leap of Faith). And other teenager elements that is really hit and miss. Nice job on photography segment, but still does not make you feel connected to the movie.

Score is so so also. So not much to hope for.

What bugs me is that the script is weak, the action choice is hampering (Super powered people against plasma guns. The heck?), the actors and actresses were not that inspiring (Sarah did not even have any interest in Four, AT ALL), writers did Smallville (Superman elements entirely visible), and questions did not answer that much. There's just so much left to for you to wonder that if you really did go in with high hopes, you may be horribly disappointed.

So leave your brains at the door and hope for the sequel to come. Or at least sleep in the first few bits and only wake up until the last bits. Your call.

Kyo's Score: 6.5/10. THANKING GOD IT IS FREE. :D

Monday, February 14, 2011

Black Eyed Peas' The Beginning: Music Album Review

Motivations to get this album is really about The Time (Dirty Bit). Reason is that it brings to you the song Time of My Life which will remain as an all time classic (also thanks to Dirty Dancing which I still want to watch. Patrick Swayze...). But a closer look into the album and you might find something you like.

Its start with The Time. And progresses to bring you some older tunes. Its like using older songs as base and remixed into a newer generation. So there's still a feel of the 80s and 70s in the tracks. And it progresses to make you go "Hey I know that tune!". To some, it may be a cheap technique and I would agree too. Because it feels that its not an original album. But looking at the title of the album, perhaps these songs are influences to BEP. And they're looking to pay tribute to such.

However, much can be said that its not that catchy as previous renditions of BEP. Nonetheless its fun and captures the BEP essence, but not as good as Elephunk (which is still the best). So if you're looking to chill with the album, you may just want to have the Time only.

Some personal recommendations of mine include: The Time (Dirty Bit), Love You Long Time, Someday, Do It Like This. That should be it.

Recomendation: If you love taking a stroll down memory lane in a Hipper beat, this might be the album for you. If not, save the classics as it is.

No Strings Attached: Movie Review

Friends with Benefits. That's a much milder term. Did you know such a thing happens also in Malaysia? Well, it does and it is a little creepier. Then again, blame the Malays for being rude and thinking free sex is a good idea. Both men and women. But going back to the movie, it does not really do a good job.

There's Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher with a young chick. :P). Two friends. Who Adam has basically tried to finger and get in a date with for... I think its 14 years. Well, after his ex girlfriend is now with... his dad, he runs into a drunk rampage, goes of passing out in front of Emma and ends up sleeping with her. And that happened after he woke up. Which is awkward. So the two agree to be sex buddies without emotional attachment. But seriously, that does not happen. And so was its typical ending.

Much about the movie is all about exploring weird ideas. Like, playing 99 Problems from Jay-Z into Country music. Or Don't Cha in some El Mariachi Mexico trumpet style. Or carrots instead of flowers for a date. Shaved carrots. Yeah. I know.

The script is bland though. Music is awkward. haha. Shots is typical. But you ask yourself certain questions that you don't want to face. In the end, the idea is to ask yourself " Do you want to get hurt in a relationship or not?". And that's it.

Not good. But if you're watching for Ashton, then maybe its ok lah. Not that bad.

Kyo's Score: 3/10.

Mr. And Mrs. Incredible: Movie Review

Been a while since I wanted to do a review. But at least this one deserves it. Filled with so nice moments and a very lovely and compatible on screen chemistry between Louis Koo and Sandra Ng, this movie totally gave me a nice moment. Its like watching The Incredibles, but without the kids. But sadly, the ending was not really up to the momentum built since the beginning.

You have Aroma Woman (Sandra Ng, actually the direct translation is Red something, but beats me on why its called Aroma Woman) and Gazer Warrior (Louis Koo) retiring in a peaceful village 10 years ago. They were 2 of the best superheros protecting China from domestic threats (Gazer Warrior at least. Aroma Woman was hell bent on protecting women around the world. haha). Until the whole of China developed into 2 factions and wanted the both of them to fight to see who's the best. They instead escaped, got married and here they are. Happy. But when an official wants to hold a tournament to unify the sects and disciplines of Martial arts, they become suspicious of the event. The two are forced out of retirement to fight against a bigger threat.

Now what made this movie truly lovable, was actually Louis Koo and Sandra Ng. Two superheroes, but facing problems as humans. But make no mistake, they are happy with each other. And never have they fought one another. Both understanding and communicating. Perhaps it sounds too unrealistic for a couple to be as such, but you could really sense their happiness. At least that's what I saw. Sandra Ng was being her usual confident borderlining confident female character she always has and I can't imagine another woman being able to take her role. Louis Koo was charming as usual so there's no complaint with that.

The movie touches on many of the parts of the perfect married life. And how double teaming with your partners brings the best result. OF course there's conflict from everyone around you, but hey, as long you have your partner, all is good.

The other lovable thing were the parody of crimes done. Bank robbery with a modern steel vault in historic China. It makes you wonder who stole who's idea at times. Also, remember how you signal for Batman in Gotham? Well, in China, they do it with lanterns. Yup. Lanterns. The ones where you write wishes on. Even haggling for a house is very entertaining.

The script does a wonderful job to pull the two together. The shots were done nice. Occasional CG was used to make it feel like its a comic superhero thingy going on, but does its job.

The only hampering part was that the ending was a little of a letdown. Its typical, but it does not give a feeling and a sense of satisfaction seeing as the pieces that fall into the plot is a little uneven.

Its a weird choice of a movie for Valentine's, but I highly recommend it if you want to see how lovable the two can be. But that would be your only focus for the movie. Everything else, meh.

Kyo's Score: 7/10. Thank God a good Chinese movie. FINALLY.