Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014...a look back

Humans, we do like to complaint a lot, tend to satisfy our consumerism DNA, buying unnecessary things for the sake of owning or showing off. I do believe we need to step back once in a while, and kinda do the self-introspection about what we are doing at the moment. 

Well, 2014 almost done and dusted, I’ll try to see whether I have done at least decent achievements. Due to my rigorous activities in Facebook (I have sinned), it won’t be difficult to compile the good memorable things in 2014:

1. Submit my Thesis
Finally, first crucial step to my PhD work! Crazy 5 years, I’m gonna blame it mostly to my procrastination blood. Looking back at the early years, I think I could have compressed at least 1 year of those lazy moments and doing nothing stuff. Oh well, nevertheless, thesis has been submitted, supervisor was more than happy, and I felt damn relieved. Good job! Now, let’s hope those examiners won’t over grill me. 

2. Family and Friends.
All those celebrations counts, albeit small ones. Let’s see, I was able to go back home and celebrate family birthdays: Wifey’s, Dad’s, Mum’s, Jayden’s, Sister’s, Nephew’s, and Niece’s. Not to mention, Chinese New Year and Christmas. Also I'm so grateful to be surrounded by amazing friends and colleagues. Without them, my days in Singapore could be filled with boredom. Come to think again, that’s quite an achievement! Being there to hang out with your family and friends during these moments should be cherished, since we don’t meet up very often. Yap, small things matter!

3. Wifey cut her hair short!
My wife is identical to long hair, since the first time I met her. But, I must confess, I used to have this utter interest of short hair women. Back in the day, she was quite adamant that no way in hell she’ll cut her hair short. So, when all of sudden she was throwing the idea into my face, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, and jump right in to googling all those short hair chicks. Just in the right time, Taylor Swift just redid her hair. I’m one very happy husband.

4. Kid's growing up
Looking at my monthly pics of Jayden shows how fast a kid can grow up within a year. Not just physically, but also other things. Saying 1-10 or A-Z is no sweat for him, and he has more vocabularies in his babbling. Communication wise, it's getting easier to understand him. He's also getting more attentive to movies, books, and toys. Lastly, he's very good at memorizing places, especially those playground places.

5. Losing weight.
When I did my medical check-up, the report mentioned that based on BMI, I’m certified obese, and that just hurt my eyes (add heart to that as well). So, after months of gym, jog, and bit of diet here and there, I managed to cut down 10%. Not enough to meet the 'healthy' target, but I take every achievement along the way. The downside, I bought lots of new clothes and pants (size goes smaller!)

6. All those good movies!
I've created another section specifically for this one, still drafting it!

7. Taylor Swift’s concert and 1989
Finally managed to catch her concert live, another name checked from my list. It was a fortunate event as well, since I missed the public selling date initially. But due to her Bangkok concert cancellation, she added 1 more concert day in Singapore (and I didn't miss that). The good stuff: concert was great, she was gorgeous albeit looked tired, entertaining, and the stage was nicely done. Furthermore, she just released her latest album 1989, and it was one hell of an album. 

8. U2 releases new album
Apparently, Tay took the thunder from my beloved U2 in recent years, but I was damn surprised when these guys released their latest album, "Songs of Innocence" free through iTunes. The verdict? Much better than "No Line on the Horizon" for sure, some tracks just remind me of the old stuff they use to make back in the 90's. So, no disappointment this time, lads...good stuff!

9. New LEGO Collection
This year's probably the period when I got most LEGOs. I bought Ecto-1 (21108) from the Ghostbuster. It is very well made, nice details, and size just about right. Although the downside, the minifigs cannot be put inside the vehicle, that's a downer. Then I got the Mini Cooper (10242) and Star Wars Sail Barge (75020) from my parents for my birthday. Then, my buddies bought me the VW Combi (10220) and Star Wars Snowspeeder (75049). Gotta say, the VW Combi and Mini Cooper look damn gorgeous! 

10. Manchester United is back to action
With Louis van Gaal installed and a bunch of new players, I was pretty optimistic of ManUtd's season this time. We started quite slow, and the injuries clearly didn't help. But, I felt psychologically, the current players are much better handling it compared to Moyes' tenure. We started to win games albeit playing badly. We got some lucks in some games (vs. Arsenal and Southampton), and we played with confidence against the top tiers (vs. City and Chelsea). So, mentally, LvG has gradually fixed that. ManUtd closed 2014 by sitting at 3rd, and the injuries are getting fewer. I'm not sure we can catch Chelsea or City, but I'm quite confident this team will go back at the top, sooner or later. Did I say we bought Angel Di Maria and Falcao? 

So, it's a wrap! 2014 also has its downsides, but hey, a steady ocean won't make you a skilled sailor, right? I'm grateful for all good things, but also need to learn from all the mistakes and bad things. Special thanks to wifey been the rock of my life, not to mention a superb mother for our kiddo. Looking forward to achieve great things with you ahead. So, 2015...bring it on!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks!

This my first 2012 concert, and my oh my, Foster the People is totally amazing. Great music, cool beats, amazing vocal, these kids really know how to pump up the crowd! It's just that I was a bit disappointed with the venue choice. When I thought it would be held in Fort Canning Park, I assumed they would choose the big park in the middle, but turned out the organizer picked up the smaller one. Another thing, some irresponsible assholes decided to smoke in the middle of the crowd! Some of us decided to back out to find some fresh air, huff....

Nevertheless, it was a great concert, and looking forward for their next record!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


This is gonna be my first blog written from Blogger apps on iPhone, let's see how convenient it will be.

Okay, geek mode...During my trip to HK, I spared some time to wander around Mongkok area, which is claimed to be one of the best spot to find toys. After some extensive browsing, I managed to find out that there's a shopping area named In's Point (just near Yao Ma Tei MTR exit along Nathan Road), where it has 2 floors full with toy seller, including LEGO shops.

To my excitement, the place was awesome, with lots of variety among toys. But as my wifey pointed out, jst focus on LEGO. Adding to my amusement, the pricing wise was crazily cheaper, some are like 40% off from Singapore's pricing, almost made it even with US pricing. So, after wandering around some shops, my wifey bought me not just one, but TWO sets for my Xmas presents!

AT-AT Walker
Luke hanging out

I finally picked out AT-AT walker (from episode V, Battle of Hoth), and AT-ST (episode VI, Battle of Endor). I grabbed them for total less than SGD 300, considered as a steal! Initially I was looking for the walking AT-AT, but it was too I pass them out. Especially for the AT-ST, it was the UCS version (standa for Ultimate Collector's Series), which does not usually come with mini figs, but more detail, bigger scale, and comes with info plate. This adds my previous UCS sets of Millennium Falcon and Vader's TIE ship.

Back in Singapore, the AT-ST was mostly built by my buddy, Ebhe, another LEGO Star Wars enthusiast, who might steal it if I'm careless. For the AT-AT, I built it up in slowly for the enjoyment purpose, and finished it in a week.

To my bewilderment, they are good sets indeed, good deal as well. Wifey also spare some spaces in the living room for display, damn she's awesome!

AT-ST UCS version

Sunday, January 1, 2012


If Rolland Emmerich (also the Mayans) predicted correctly, this should be my last New Year let's make it worthwhile :)

Looking back, 2011 is a great year after all, between all those trips (Thailand, Europe, and China), also hanging out with crazy friends...thanks for Facebook's Timeline for helping checking out those things backward. 

2012 is gonna be a more challenging I guess, with my QE exam is coming rite up, and 9 months of counting down for the little one in my wife tummy. Darn, I can't believe I can write down, I'm gonna be a f**king DAD! Probably my most memorable Xmas and New Year's gift, topping the chart. 

So, new day, new calendar, and new resolutions: be more serious in my research, less gaming, save money for the kid, and be a better person/husband/dad/son/friend. Tough, nail biting, eating my heart out, but possible.


Blue is glue!

 from aquarium, to Bedrock, then Jinmao Tower, and this...What's next?

My gosh, it’s been so long that I haven’t updated this blog…darn! Between Europe and Hong Kong trip, and other lazy reasons, I just couldn’t keep up to update the new things that I’ve watched…Well, I supposed I gotta catch up then…Thus, I’m trying to write lesser, and compose a shorter but concise reviews.

It’s been 15 years since the first Mission: Impossible brought into the big screen by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. The first one was too convoluted and twistingly complicated for one time viewing, but the hanging wire and red-light green-light thing was classic. Second one was a disaster full with nonsense action scenes. While J.J Abrams managed to create the best of the series with the third one back in 2006. Emotionally gripping, supported with great cast, complete with eye-popping stunts, a truly proper popcorn summer flick.

Best hottie catfight for 2011. 

And here comes the number 4, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and per say, the best of the series. So many reasons not to hate this one, it’s the most light-hearted and fun MI flick, it has wonderous and eye-catching gadgets, not to mention over the top stunts, and last but not least, Tom Cruise acts as if he is still 30 something. And what I like more is the active involvement of the cast as a team, so we are not just seeing Cruise in solo mission, where each of the member has its own unique treats. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) as the team leader, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) as the only female member, providing eye candy and male attraction (she got brain and amazingly hot!), Benji (Simon Pegg) as the I.T guy and ice-breaker a.k.a funny guy. Lastly, which most probably will gonna continue Hunt’s legacy, Brandt (Jeremy Renner) as the CIA analyst.

It’s nice to see the less-dominated screen time by Cruise and letting other guys have their own moments. Like everytime Pegg always made chuckling everytime he jokes or even says a word, while Patton managed to steal some scenes with some of her daring or tight outfit, and Renner, of course, showing his tough side later halfway through after being left out in the early part of the movie.

Renner: Listen, I'm gonna be your future boss! with bigger payment! 

Ghost Protocol is what I’ve been longing to watch on last summer period, especially with all the popcorn action flicks complete with some cheesy lines and beyond your imagination thrilling scenes (remember Fast Five?). Many memorable and over the top moments, and Tom Cruise was totally nailed it, which could be his last Ethan Hunt journey (he’s almost 50, dude!).  Nevertheless, If you manage to catch it on IMAX, shouldn’t be too dissapointed, you got Cruise jumping around Burj Kalifa and Patton showing her nice eye popping cleavage. What a total enjoyment of full 2-hour nonsense espionage movie, gotta love it!.

My Review: 9/10

Monday, November 21, 2011

Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!!

My first Tintin comic was happened to be “The Secret of the Unicorn”, when my aunt passed her legacy of Tintin collection to me back in the early 90's. As a huge fan of Tintin, too bad she will no be able to see it in the big picture (she passed away this year, may she rests in peace). Since that first experience with Herge comic series, I became hooked up and starting collecting them all. I remember I read the Unicorn continuation, “Red Rackham Treasure" years after, since I was not able to find it anywhere (by then, I managed to complete my Tintin set).

And it was a very exciting news to see this legacy and one of the world most celebrated character (outside US of course) to be transferred into the big screen. The names involved are no small feat, Spielberg and Jackson, (they'll take turns on directing) along with WETA and a bunch of great writers ranging from Steven Moffats ("Sherlock" TV series), Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz", "Scott Pilgrim"), and Joe Cornish ("Attack the Block"). To use live actors and animation has always been a conundrum into how to appropriately put Tintin in the big screen, although previous attempts was made (and it was awful). Seeing the trailers was already giving me some worries, especially in the CGI and story department. Firstly, I was afraid this will turn to be another "Polar Express" or "Beowulf" catastrophy, where they missed out the inhuman facial and eye emotion. Secondly, how they can make Unicorn to be a great and exciting movie and won't end up be a total boring and flat storytelling still remains a big question from me. Lastly, most important thing, how they will be able to design and put 'personality' into all the virtual/3D cast, plus a white dog.

Fortunately, it turns out that Spielberg and the team did a truly great and satisfactory job! The CGI (using famous motion capture technique ala "Avatar") was splendid, awesomely rendered, flawlessly and sharply animated, even Snowy is believable and you'll like him a lot (too smart in many several scenes, and easily lost control because of a cat and sandwich). Spielberg geniously opens the movie with 2D silhouette (remember "Catch Me If You Can"?) with amusing John Williams' piano music background introduction to transfer the viewers from the comic into his animated world. Then, the most clever part was revealed (I won't spoil it here) when he seamlessly changed the 2D into 3D. Tintin and Snowy, in almost 'real' life condition. Well done, Steven, I fell in love with the movie already. 

Now onto the next part, story telling. I must tell you upfront, this Tintin is a combination of at least 3 stories, Unicorn and Red Rackham Treasure for the main plots, and the injunction of Crab with Golden Claws as a mean to properly hook up Tintin and Haddock. Tintin loyalist might be well dissapointed, but for others, I think it turns out to be decent, especially with he very fast pace of story telling, these different plots were placed one into another appropriately. You'll get lots of action, crazy chasing scenes, awesome ship battles (way much better than "Pirates of Carribean"), and not to mention Bianca Castafiore tries to rip off both Haddock and Snowy eardrums (yes, she is in the package).

From casting point of view, Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis did a marvelous job on portraying the main characters, especially Serkis, where he made Haddock is the main star and scene stealers, as in the comics, complete with all the swearing and drinking issues. Serkis is truly an expert on making virtual characters into a 'personality', and with memorable and strong performances from Gollum, King Kong, Caesar, and Haddock, he should have an Oscar already!

Daniel Craig is a good addition as the main villain, while I have some dissapointments with the world most bizzare Interpol twins. No offense for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, they are both talented and super funny comedians. It's just that the jokes and slapstick acts from Thomson and Thompson have only 50% hit rate, leaving only few memorable funny lines. Calculus, a more bizzare persona, is absent on this one, a sign which Jackson will attempt to exploit him for the next installment.

“Secret of the Unicorn” does no wrong as a family and entertaining flick, especially for the fans. Some parts were a bit bland, and common viewers might expect more action and explosions. Yet, this is Tintin, no superhero, no superpower, no hot chicks, no gadgets, just a young fella with common sense and thirst of adventures. A fairly good role model for kids, don't you think? This one also boasts technical innovation in animation, yet still lack of better storytelling. Nevertheless, Spielberg and Jackson will have no trouble on selling out the sequels, since they have done a marvelous job on capturing our Tintin imagination into the big screen. 

My Review: 8.5/10

Friday, October 14, 2011

His name is Atom. Get'em a fight.

Ex-boxer Charlie Kenton just had one of his bad days: owing too much money due to robot boxing bad bets on, his ex-girlfriend has died leaving him with their eleven-year-old son Max. Thankfully, the ex’s sister wants the boy, and he wants to get rid of him (convincingly). After making a deal with the sister’s husband, Charlie takes his son for the summer. Max, while at first resentful of his father, begins to appreciate the wild life (involving robots) his dad leads. He soon becomes involved in the rough and tumble world of robot boxing with a robot that he discovers named Atom. Get ready to rumble!

Adults loves Rocky, kids are crazy about Transformers, so I guess combining them was not such a bad idea, wasn’t it? Apart from the cheesy and corny script, plus the unimaginable and non-existent notion of replacing humans with robots on boxing, Real Steel is a fun, enjoyable, and entertaining family movie. Frankly, I did not expect it to be this good, even much better than the Transformers series (yes, you read that correctly).

Everybody loves the underdog story, especially in boxing flicks, where most of its famous movies have the similar plot, from ‘Rocky’, ‘Cinderella Man’, ‘The Fighter’, etc. Even better, Real Steel added the robots, father and son bonding, and video games. Its robotic premise would appeal any boys and men, and the drama (plus cheesy parts) surely would attract the girls and women. It’s amazing that Shawn Levy is able to connect the dots adequately and making Real Steel actually a good flick, considering his last movies such as Night at the Museum 2 and Date Night did not perform that well.

Hugh Jackman is pretty good at his rare parent role (is it the first time he was cast as a dad?), where he was pretty much hateable during the first half, and transformed into a ‘perfect’ dad near the end. A good casting, he’s likeable, charismatic, and women are craving for him (that’ll do). But the scene stealers has to be the Jackman’s long lost son, newcomer Dakota Goyo (remember the little Thor?) And like any other kids in Hollywood movie, he was ‘blessed’ with advanced intelligence, likes video games, and has DNA for customizing robots (who does that, anyway?). I bet everyone must be fall in love with Max and his antics, although in latter parts during the big boxing matches, he tends to scream a lot, and that was kinda annoying. Nevertheless, the heart of the movie lies in these two pivotal characters, and added by other splendid cast such as Evangeline Lily and Anthony Mackie, not to mention the robots, Real Steel’s corny script was propelled by the terrific cast.

Technical point of view, the fighting scenes were amazing, and I actually prefer this kind of thing rather than the shaky or quick editing ala Transformers kinda thing (you barely see who’s punching who). In Real Steel, the boxing scenes were well choreographed (Sugar Ray Leonard handled the thing), the robots movement were logical, easy to follow, and as intense as the real human boxing. And also, they come in cool names as well which you can use for  your avatar nick names, from Noisey Boy, Twin Cities, Midas, Six Shooter, Ambush, and last but not least, the great Zeus. Every one of them has its distinctive feature, easy for the audience to actually remember them. Especially for Atom, I guess Spielberg gave some advice from his E.T experience, just give it a pair of humble blue eyes. Conclusively, it is a budget well spent by the CGI department.

Nevertheless, Real Steel is not that fully polished movie in the end. One of the major low downs is that the ending was quite premature, and I believe it should have been concluded even further than the current version. I felt disappointed since there are still many question left unanswered, and I bet after you see the credit title, you must be asking, “What about this, what’s next?”, and so on and on. Added to that, 127 minutes running is kinda long a straightforward plot, some scenes were actually safe to be excluded. With no major surprises or even twisted plot, it is a happy-go-lucky movie after all. Of course it sounds totally unfair to compare this Disney theme flick to calibre movies such as ‘The Fighter’ or even ‘Cinderella Man’, but still watching Hugh Jackman and the robots is a celebration of joyful and fun entertainment despite of the rusty script writing, coupled with a good dose of genuine heart. In the end, you’ll root for Atom.

My Review: 8/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the 1st full AVENGERS trailer...

Okay fanboys, here's what you've been waiting for...a full 2 minutes AVENGERS trailer. This time, you can see clearly all the members in full action, unlike the short several seconds preview from the CAPTAIN AMERICA ending. Nevertheless, I think this flick can be huge, I really really hope it won't suck...

PS: I want more Hulk...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't Talk to Anyone, Don't Touch Anyone

Mitch (Matt Damon) found her wife, Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) fell sick and died with unknown symptoms after just got back from work trip. Soon within the same time line, other people from different locations randomly also died with more or less same symptoms. Afterwards, number deaths are increasing. It is inevitable, a lethal virus breakout has spread throughout the world. An international team of doctors contracted by Central for Disease Control (CDC) to deal with the sudden outbreak. Each person has different agenda but together they are mixed up to survive. 

Watching the trailer of 'Contagion' brings memories of the 1995 hit 'Outbreak', starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman (it was a very good movie). But, Steven Soderbergh provides a different taste, a more realistic and drama, and less Hollywood approach for 'Contagion', compared to 'Outbreak'.  Soderbergh is quite known on assembling A-list cast, remember the 'Ocean's Trilogy' and 'Traffic'? 'Contagion' is a mix of those movies with a mouth-watering cast from Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cotillard. Not many directors who can do this, but Soderbergh always able to bring out the best from his cast selection, and 'Contagion' is a proven one!
I can't say 'Contagion' is a thriller; it's a more drama for me, and part semi documentary you've seen on TV, but minus the interviews of course. The pace is quite steady, not too fast nor slow, it was okay for me since I was hooked after the first 10-15 minutes. But the great thing is, 'Contagion' manage to provide the 'fear effect' halfway through the middle. It's pretty scary to see how the virus managed to spread sporadically, without knowing how to contain it. Trust, you'll get paranoid for a while, even I felt uneasy when somebody coughed in the cinema. What makes it even more scary is that Soderbergh put all the plots as if this thing a real deal, talking about realistically creepy. A world-wide scale panics, socialization becomes your worst enemy, people are separated from their lovely ones, and even the President has to go hiding in his bunker.
Laurence Fishburne plays the role of Dr. Ellis Cheever, the head of international team to handle the outbreak. I like the way his story evolves that he’s just a normal human being, not Superman or has special power, but spend most of the time, scientifically, medically, and not to mention politically to put an end to the issue, and at the same time he has to take care his loved ones. As his team member, Kate Winslet has different role as Dr. Erin Mears, who has to go to the contaminated city, collect data, interview patients, and arranging countermeasures to keep the sick people contained. However, dealing with the sick people directly proved to be the most dangerous task she has ever been handed. While Jude Law is Alan Krumwiede, a famous blogger who tries to dig up conspiracy theories about pharmacy industries who tries to hold up the cure for the disease. What makes his role is believable, is that in this modern era where people can be easily connected, it is scary to see how an unknown persona can reach millions of people and could ask them to do stupid things. While Marion Cotillard plays a WHO officer, Dr. Leonora Orantes, who goes to Hong Kong, where it was assumed the location of the ‘first patient’. However, she has to deal with some unrest from local officers, and mixed up in a desperate attempt by these guys, which by the way (no spoiler!) could happened in the real world.

And this brings us to the last main cast, Matt Damon as the husband of the first known body count caused by the deadly virus. Almost half to the storyline tells us about how to deal with the outbreak from the government perspective, while Damon’s character tells us the story from the normal people, how he has to go through daily life activities, and protect his daughter altogether.
After a series of bombastic summer movies, it’s nice to see a change of menu, and ‘Contagion’ deserves an appraisal on its effort to bring us a realistic survival story, without zombies or end of the world disaster. It’s damn spine-chilling, thrilling, and makes you a bit paranoid at least (use Purell all the time, and avoid Hong Kong, perhaps!). ‘Contagion’ is perhaps the best epidemic/pandemic movie to date. It begins with a high tense moment, and it stays there right until the end, with no breaks or happy moments in the middle. The downturn, is that, it ends up in a loose end with no clear conclusion or direction, leaving audiences craving for a more definite and purpose. Nevertheless, it is still a great movie, something like an adult movie that makes you not want to touch any adults near you when it’s over. In short, ‘Contagion’ is a disaster movie with brains involved. 

My Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"The Raid" trailer will blow your mind!!!

It's been some time, or maybe a very long time since the last time I was totally excited to watch an Indonesian movie on the big screen. If I can recall, perhaps "Berbagi Suami" was my last one, and even I watched it on DVD (bought original one, of course).

Suddenly, when I was following the movies screened at the Toronto Film Festival, I read the hype on the web, people claimed that they just saw 'the best action movie' of 2011, and it happened to be....surprisingly,  Indonesian movie...

I immediately gave it a look, and damn was like blew my brains out! Not just that it was cool, but it was ass-kicking altogether....Similarly, I remember I was quite interested also when I saw "Killer Elite" trailer...but this one totally nailed it...

Brought by the same team who created "Merantau" (another martial art / silat fighting movie back in 2009), Gareth Evans and his team (including the main man, Iko Uwais) are back and take it to the next level...

you can check the link below for the trailer...reminder, it's kinda violent, but I guess it's better than to see any  'pocong' or anyone 'ngesot'.