Friday, December 30, 2011
Looking forward to Kevin’s 2012 wedding and other milestone events.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
(Photo by Oliver M. Pulumbarit)
Friday, December 23, 2011
Have fun, and enjoy the Yuletide break.
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
It’s not exactly the way one may remember the characters or stories, but “The Adventures of Tintin” easily captures the essence of the seminal series. Those unfamiliar with the comics need not worry; this particular adventure is still pretty accessible. The opening credits impressively encapsulate some of the intrepid titular hero’s exploits and backstory. Enough details are shared, keeping the uninitiated interested and curious, while fans of the books will immediately appreciate the familiar elements and recognize parts inspired by the classic stories.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Many successful original properties debuted in the shorts format, according to Hickey. “Johnny Bravo started as a short. It’s a great concept and there’s a lot less risk if you have that concept, rather than just launching a multimillion-dollar series.”
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Top secret agent Ethan Hunt’s big screen adventures aren’t exactly memorable for giving him a distinct, likeable personality; you don’t really root for him because he’s a relatable or dramatically appealing character. The “Mission Impossible” movies primarily showcase stunts and complex action choreography, and we don’t really care for the agent’s welfare because there’s no doubt whatsoever that he’ll survive them all.
The “M:I” movies’ plots are pretty simple, often convoluted by story details that allow for more kinetic scenarios. That’s still true with the fourth movie, “Ghost Protocol,” directed by acclaimed storyteller Brad Bird. But thanks to the previous film, Ethan Hunt now feels more human, exuding more identifiable qualities than the stoic super-spy in the first and second movies.
It still sticks to tradition action-wise; Tom Cruise gets to wall-crawl
Bird’s first live-action film mostly impresses, although some initially interesting sequences become tedious. The antagonists start as interesting characters, but ultimately become flat and boring.
Still, the lively components outnumber the dull. The film benefits from the inclusion of Pegg, who plays the team’s resident tech guy-turned-field agent. The other operatives’ backstories also make us care for them, even Hunt. As for the mission itself, it’s a typical interception-retrieval job, but it’s made a little more urgent and desperate when the small team becomes the sole active IMF group. And “M:I – Ghost Protocol” has big, sweeping shots made for
I didn’t disassemble my Christmas tree earlier this year, and covered it with taped newspaper pages until early November. Wow, where’d the time go? It’s almost mid-December already. As people close to me know, I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday; I’m not a Christian. What I do like are the colors and festivities of the season and the extra time spent with loved ones. The season reminds me of many happy times with my family and friends.
Forget that ordinary-looking cover; “History of the Marvel Universe” is actually a satisfying and informative read, summarizing decades’ worth of stories into a 48-page one-shot.
Uatu the Watcher narrates the main/616 reality’s superhero history, some momentous events accompanied by existing illustrations. It’s a nice compression that doesn’t go into the complicated and confusing origins of certain X-characters, their clans and their scheming arch-foes. It’s accessible enough for the new Marvel fan, but older readers will still enjoy the almost Marvel Saga-esque organization of shared histories.
Monday, December 05, 2011
(Published Dec. 5, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Actor Stephen Amell is gaining popularity as the busboy-turned-gigolo Jason, a new character introduced in HBO’s sex comedy series “Hung.” Amell, 30, considers the role “pretty tame” compared to some previous ones, including a violent werewolf and a killer.
The Canadian actor appeared as the villainous werewolf Brady in a few episodes of “The Vampire Diaries.” Before that, he had parts in the teen drama series “Degrassi” and gay-oriented shows such as “Dante’s Cove” and “Queer as Folk.”
He’s having the time of his life playing Jason, rival to “Hung’s” main male prostitute Ray, played by Thomas Jane. Amell revealed during a recent phone interview that it wasn’t a difficult role to play because he has no hang-ups about sexual matters.
“I’m extremely open-minded,” Amell said. “I think that whatever people want to do in their sexual life, it’s their private life for a reason. Whatever decisions they make, whether talking about same-sex couples [or] mixed couples, it doesn’t matter to me.”
The character is likewise open-minded, Amell added. “One of the things about Jason that we learn from the season is that he’s not opposed to working with male clients. Jason’s character is straight, but that doesn’t always matter in the gigolo world.”
Amell finds working on TV shows likable for a variety of reasons, and he considers landing a regular role especially rewarding. He appreciates the different dynamics that each show offers him. “I was on ‘Vampire Diaries’ for only a couple of episodes,” he said. “One of the main differences is that we shot that in
The “Hung” experience isn’t very different, cast-wise. “I got along great with everybody,” he said. “We had seven different directors this year. I got along great with them and Thomas Jane, Anne (Heche), Rebecca (Creskoff) and Analeigh (Tipton), the main actors I worked with this year. It’s a real nice crew. It’s a first-rate group of people.”
Amell portrays a 25-year-old busboy who gets discovered by Lenore (played by Rebecca Creskoff), who pimps him as part of a revenge scheme. Amell gets naked in a number of scenes, but being a regular cast member also means that he’s learning new things about acting. He’s now “coming into scenes with an open mind.”
“If you go to a scene and you’re locked into the way that you’re gonna do it, you’re a little inflexible,” he explained. “The way HBO sets up the production schedule, you have a lot of time to explore different things in the scene. Being flexible and trying things a bunch of different ways are really helpful exercises. That’s what I learned the most, put yourself in the hands of the director, and trust that he is going to craft the best performance for you.”
As for Jason’s competitiveness, Amell can relate. “I used to be very competitive in high school and through university,” Amell recounted. “I’m a little bit more relaxed now. But if it’s good competition and it’s worth being competitive about, I definitely get competitive!”
Career-wise, Amell is seeing changes brought about by his prominent character. “I’ve noticed slight differences,” he said. “I think hooking a role on ‘Private Practice’ was directly a reflection of people enjoying my work on ‘Hung.’ So I’m noticing a bit more connectivity in what I’m doing. That’s really exciting because the idea of doing a good job in one place and having it get me a job somewhere else—as an actor, my main goal going into 2012 is I want to work as much as possible. Every single day that you’re on set, you learn new techniques about acting for the camera, you work with new directors and actors. Those things are critical.”
He added that it’s been a very busy year, and learning has been constant: “I’ve had almost a hundred days on the set, working,” he recounted. “I’m very happy with where my career is!”
Two episodes of “Hung” season 3 will air back to back Monday night at 11:55 p.m. Subsequent episodes will air Mondays after the 10 p.m. movie on HBO.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Some incredible truths about Santa Claus’ yearly gift-giving trips are revealed in Columbia’s warm and endearing “Arthur Christmas,” a modern and inventive take on the beloved mythical figure. Santa’s miraculous Christmas Eve feats and the people (and elves) behind them work like clockwork, but one unexpected mistake may ruin it for one nice child.
Standing between a happy Christmas morning and certain disaster is Arthur Claus (voiced by James McAvoy), clumsy grownup son of the current Santa, Morgan (Jim Broadbent). Arthur, however, is a kind-hearted believer in his father’s mission, helping out by responding to kids’ letters in the mailroom. His brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) has been running operations efficiently for years, while Santa Morgan has become an old figurehead unfamiliar with the new system. It’s revealed that the Santa Claus identity and responsibilities are given to worthy successors, immortalizing the much-revered character.
Vibrant, solidly told, and often visually busy, “Arthur Christmas” just might be the most heart-warming animated feature of the season. Its story is simple but smart; it tugs at the heartstrings during anticipated and unexpected moments, and has enough lovable and lively characters amid all the glittery tinsel and flashy colors.
One glitch during the preview screening was the uneven audio; sometimes the voices are loud enough, but there are times when the volume of the voices lowers, overpowered by the background music and sound effects. Hopefully, that’s just a problem exclusive to that screening.
“Arthur Christmas” opens Dec. 7 in Metro Manila.
Two big team-ups, two new drawings.
Super Gay Marvel
LGBT Marvel heroes, anti-heroes, villains and civilians. Marvel’s got more than 34, but these are the confirmed, in-canon ones. This is a sequel of sorts to a drawing I did last April, dedicated to the creators who introduced or developed these characters.
Roll call: Spider-Woman (Exiles), Xavin, Lucy In The Sky, Northstar, Freedom Ring, Anole, Sunfire (Exiles), Flatman, Bloke, Destroyer, Shatterstar, Beast (Exiles), Rawhide Kid, Vivisector, Karma, Union Jack, Graymalkin, Mystique, Destiny, Living Lightning, Frenchie DuChamps, Colossus (Ultimate), Hector, Jackpot, Phat, Hulkling, Wiccan, Marlo Jones, Quasar, Moondragon, Northstar (Ultimate), Rictor, Daken, Victoria Hand.
Super Gay DC
A gathering of 34 lez, gay, bi, and trans heroes, villains, anti-heroes and civilians from the DC Universe (or Multiverse). I didn’t include Vertigo characters; I’ll probably do that drawing someday. Anyway, this is also dedicated to the comic book writers and artists who made this superhero universe a little more colorful.
Roll call: Bunker, Apollo, Starman, Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet, Extrano, Comet, Tommy Jagger, Fauna, Obsidian, Power Boy, Tasmanian Devil, Hero Cruz, Houston, Donner, Ice Maiden, Gravity Kid, Knockout, Josiah Power, Thunder, Batwoman, Catwoman (Holly Robinson), Grace, Olympian, Scandal, Liana, Pied Piper, Terry Berg, Midnighter, Creote, Question, Maggie Sawyer, Gannon Malloy, Blitzen.
(Published Dec. 2, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Cartoon Network’s “The Amazing World of Gumball” can be counted among the few shows that successfully utilize bizarre concepts while connecting with its more familiar and universal qualities.
Meshing together 2D, 3D animation and live-action parts, “Gumball” immediately stands out as its own world. Disparate designs coexist; the traditional-looking or “flat” animal characters can be seen mingling with digitally rendered and textured beings on “real” suburban streets.
Its titular character Gumball Watterson is a blue cat-boy figuring in nonsensical but entertaining exploits. He and his best friend Darwin, a bipedal fish boy who used to be the family pet, have some of the oddest adventures at school and at home. Every story unceasingly focuses on the young characters’ naivete and their world’s more unusual aspects.
Gumball has to save the surly, puppet-like neighbor Mr. Robinson from unknown “assassins” in one story. In another inane tale, the boys’ friendship is tested, reiterating their incompatibility with schoolmates such as the rich athlete Tobias and the limbless balloon-boy Alan.
In one of their funniest misadventures,
The attraction theme is again explored hilariously in another story. Gumball runs out of fresh clothes so he’s forced to wear his mother’s wedding gown to school! His classmates don’t recognize him and think he’s a cool girl, and
Fans of “strange” comedy cartoons such as “Adventure Time” will appreciate the concise but self-contained episodes. Thriving on unrelenting nonsense and unconventional visuals, “Gumball” is consistently and satisfyingly silly and surreal.
The animated series airs Saturdays at and on Cartoon Network.
Some people rant on a regular basis; I seem to ignore things that annoy me till they practically bother me at the same time. So here are some current peeves and complaints, in one fell swoop:
1. If you’re going to text or talk on your phone, don’t do it in a busy corridor. You’re slowing down everyone behind you, dumbass.
2. I wish invitational screenings would really start on time. I wish organizers would close the doors on latecomers and slow-moving guests, or just start without waiting for them. Let them fumble for seats in the dark.
3. Don’t ask me to do something for free, and support a cause that I don’t believe in. I need to pay my bills and eat, too. And don’t assume that I’m on your side when it comes to certain issues. Do your freaking homework.
4. Stop preaching in the bus. Stop guilting people into handing you money, thinking that it’s what your deity wants. Don’t bother me with your envelopes and leaflets either, self-righteous creep.
5. Those bothersome people asking about credit cards at the mall, I am this close to pushing them out of the way and telling them to f—k off.
(From the Dec. 1-15 issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
One of the more memorable characters from the uber-hit series of animated movies “Shrek,” the suave swordscat Puss in Boots now gets to save the day in his own self-titled adventure. “Puss in Boots” is both a spinoff and a prequel, revealing much about the beloved cat’s early days. Sans his wacky “Shrek” cohorts, the outlaw Puss (voiced again by Antonio Banderas) is joined by intriguing, all-new characters.
The bipedal adventurer finds himself searching for fabled magic beans, now in the possession of Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). But they’re not the innocent and ill-fated kids from the nursery rhyme anymore; they’re both burly, mean adults. Puss encounters the masked thief Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) during the mission, and is surprised to discover that his formidable new opponent is working with a figure from his past.
Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) is “back together again” and offers his estranged friend an alliance against the keepers of the legendary beans. Their quest ultimately involves the retrieval of a fowl that literally lays golden eggs. But Puss only knows part of the plan, and finds himself in deep trouble not long after that particular job.
“Puss in Boots” has more appealing character designs than most of the “Shrek” films, which had simple and less-imaginative concepts, with the exception of the titular spinoff character. From the cat “extras” to the main cast, and even the grotesque villains, much thought is put into the visuals. Animation-wise, it’s typically gorgeous and intricately rendered, although the dimly lit scenes are really dark and difficult to see. That seems to be the case with some 3D and non-3D films being shown here lately. The visual quality is nowhere near as vivid as in the trailers, for some reason. It’s a recurring problem (possibly a calibration issue?) that has to be addressed by local cinemas soon.
Anyway, “Puss in Boots” manages to flesh out the main character quite impressively. Even those unfamiliar with the movies he previously appeared in will feel that they didn’t miss much. Puss is introduced anew as the roguish cat who hooks up with smitten felines, runs from furious cat owners and the law, and nobly risks himself to save lives.
Frequent collaborators Banderas and Hayek share a noticeable and comfortable bond, making the cartoon tandem quite easy to like. Kitty is also an appealing character, not only because she possesses nearly superhuman (or superanimal) speed and stealth, but also because she treads the line between heroine and villainess. She’s still cool even after she expectedly chooses a side.
Galifianakis, best known for the smash adult comedies “The Hangover” and its sequel, doesn’t sound like his amnesiac man-child character from those movies, thankfully. He’s pretty unrecognizable, which is a good thing. He gives surreal life to Humpty, who isn’t exactly the same after surviving the traumatic fall that was only partially chronicled in the old rhyme.
“Puss in Boots,” storywise, is pretty average; the high-stakes adventure is predictable, but there’s solid characterization. Kids and grownups, and old “Shrek” fans, will find Puss’ first solo caper pleasantly diverting.