Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fear-mongering 101

Cute and moving, Pixar’s “Monsters University” revives old critter pals Sulley and Mike from the 2001 hit “Monsters, Inc.” The prequel rewinds to the buddies’ college days, when both characters were untested, aspiring “scarers.”

Monsters University has creature students of all shapes and sizes—there’s a snail, too, which is odd in an environment of mostly myth-connected beings. Anyway, the future best buds start, interestingly enough, as mismatched rivals. The small, cyclopean Mike Wazowski (voiced again by Billy Crystal) and the towering, brutish James “Sulley” Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) show promise as future go-getters in the scaring biz, but for purely different reasons. The imposing Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), however, underestimates Mike, but the latter intends to prove to her that he and a band of meek misfits have what it takes to excel in the field.

“Monsters, Inc.” has always been one of the stranger, more imaginative Pixar projects, and it’s just appropriate that it’s gotten the prequel treatment. There’s much to explore in Mike and Sulley’s world, and while the story does that to an extent, the more satisfying origins are that of relationships and motivations. Sure enough, we get to see how the main chartacters started out in the school, and we get introduced to the peripheral figures that helped shape them into their more familiar selves.

While the underdog angle is quite predictable, it’s easy to like the new characters in Mike and Sulley’s “loser” clique. The unexpected thing about it is the different take on the message; the film’s surprising takeaway involves the characters’ figurative lemonade-making, persevering to achieve dreams despite “sullied” records. This touching and revelatory predecessor will make fans of “Monsters, Inc.” appreciate the original movie, and the main monster duo even more.

A dashing, defiant ‘Da Vinci’

(Published June 27, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Italian visionary Leonardo da Vinci is a defiant and reluctant hero in the new drama “Da Vinci’s Demons,” created by David Goyer, screenwriter of “Man of Steel” and “Blade.”

An accessible merging of historical and fantastical exploits, the show depicts the innovator as an inquisitive but sometimes flaky fellow, able to craft some unheard-of inventions while seeking answers to his own life’s mysteries.

Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley), illegitimate son of a nobleman, is in his 20s, a brilliant “scribbler” scoffed at by those that underestimate him, but respected and beloved by friends from Florence’s thriving artistic community.

He persuades Florence’s ruler Lorenzo de Medici (Elliot Cowan) into making him the bustling republic’s weapon designer, suggesting that his abilities will be useful in the impending war with the city-state’s enemies. One of those looming adversaries is the Vatican, ruled by the corrupt Pope Sixtus IV (James Faulkner), whose bloodthirsty henchmen are tasked with controlling knowledge and silencing perceived enemies.

Lorenzo and Leonardo, however, are attracted to the same woman, the enigmatic Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock), who is spying on both smitten men for the Vatican.

“Da Vinci’s Demons” is lushly realized. There’s a vibe of artificiality emanating from its adventurous costume designs and set pieces, but they mostly enhance the fantasy-history scenarios, which are distinct enough to create a multifaceted Florence.

Leonardo, or Leo, is presented as an exasperating but undeniable genius who often saves the day—his keen detective skills and extensive scientific knowledge often debunking superstitious beliefs and fallacies. Rooting for him is easy, as the character expectedly manages to escape his various scrapes with ingenuity and foresight.

But just as alluring as Leo’s use of eidetic memory or his ambidextrous sword-fighting is his seemingly unending quest to decode his long-unsolved puzzles. Who and where is his mother? What trauma did his mind bury and is only partially recovering?

Tying to the gradually unveiling answers is a secret society of wizened freethinkers, whom Leo encounters mostly through hazy visions and fever dreams. Occasionally, there’s flashy, music video-esque editing, as well as sketchy animation, helping illustrate Leonardo’s more “unreal” mind-jaunts and thought processes.

English actor Riley portrays the titular character energetically, mesmerizing with Leonardo’s dashing demeanor and enlightening outbursts, especially in the outstanding fifth episode, “The Tower.” In it, Leonardo addresses his sexuality, which is still being speculated on centuries later. The celebrated artist-inventor’s TV version certainly has its embellishments, but both real and fictional details blur into an amusing incarnation.

In the same episode, he aptly tells an outwitted enemy: “This is how history will remember you. Lies, truth—it’s irrelevant. The best story wins!”

(“Da Vinci’s Demons” airs Saturdays, 8 p.m. on Fox.)

Get outta the kitchen

It’s difficult to get into the humor of “The Heat.” The predictable comedy’s two main characters, polar opposites forced to work on a case, initially hate each other, but in typical odd-couple fashion, they eventually learn to respect conflicting methods and find things in common. Their love-hate relationship is far from subdued or subtle; the partnership is characterized by over-the-top territorial pissing contests, profanity-laced encounters, and silly physical gags.
Sandra Bullock’s character, Sarah, is an effective but barely respected FBI agent who must work with Melissa McCarthy’s detective character Shannon, an overly brash, foul-mouthed and lumbering cop who, understandably, has no friends. Not unexpectedly, they hate each other’s guts, but are subsequently exposed to their vulnerable sides, becoming less hostile, even sisterly partners. But alas, getting from point A to point B, and all points thereafter, is a long, almost chuckle-free chore.

Bullock’s played pushover, vanilla underdogs before, but none is as uninteresting as her FBI agent here. McCarthy plays an unpleasant, UNPLEASANT, power-tripper, a difficult person to like or even get accustomed to. The parts that can be considered somewhat funny are already in the trailer, and some featured scenes don’t even make the final cut. Seriously, it’s painfully unfunny at times, and it’s just extremely hard to root for—and be amused by—the one-note bully.


The teleporter Kisapmata, from the unpublished Lakan miniseries. Drew this in 1995.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blue and Gold Uniformity

X-Men, Circa 1990. Cool post-X-tinction Agenda lineup wearing the Forge-designed uniforms. The roster: Gambit, Psylocke, Storm, Forge, Banshee, Wolverine, Jubilee.

Love Machinery, Eighteen

Once upon a time, the cinematic universe was but a dream, and The Avengers was just a single comic book about one group of heroes, handled by a reputable creative team. And Marvel randomly did those dandy 100-Page Monster specials.

Been years since I looked at these. Spectacular drawings. Got them at half-price after the first prequel was released. Looking forward to the new vehicle designs!

Invisible Woman and Wolverine.
"Yay, AoU!"
"Suckered 'em again!"

New Mutants, high school days. After the death of Doug Ramsey and the X-Men during the Fall of the Mutants, Magneto's students "graduated" and wore new costumes. The team later "absorbed" X-Factor's trainees, the X-Terminators.

Kirkman and company's Invincible universe. I want to see an Invincible live-action movie someday.
JLA-Avengers, 10th anniversary: Scarlet Witch and Zatanna.
"Mind-wiped anyone lately, Zee?"
"Girl, I was rebooted. Depowered anyone lately?"
"No, but I was mind-controlled for the nth time."

Top Ten: Forty-Niners hardcover by Alan Moore and Gene Ha. Jetlad and Skywitch move to Neopolis, new home to various superbeings post-World War II. Thanks, Danry!

Discombobulation, Elation

Thinking aloud, et cetera.

June 24. Was thinking of a name for a male character and discovered "Marcelle." I like it; it kinda comes off as androgynous AND bisexual. But I already have Mars and Morris, which already sound alike. Still, maybe I'll use that someday.
June 25. 'Twas cool, hanging out and discussing komiks with one of its staunchest fans, Danry Ocampo, earlier today.
June 25. Just reread Top Ten: The Forty-Niners. Gorgeous art by Gene Ha.
June 25. Speaking of prequels, enjoyed Monsters University a lot. Although I'm wondering why that snail is considered a monster.
June 25. As usual, the CBCP is reacting to things that threaten its existence, that offer alternatives and free thought. Pitiful meddlers.
June 26. Pasakay ako ng tricycle pauwi nung isang gabi. Ang mga driver, tutok sa panonood ng cable. Rains of Castamere episode ng Game of Thrones.

A milder, more contrived ‘Community’

(Published June 19, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Originally inspired by some of “Community” creator and show runner Dan Harmon’s experiences at a community college ages ago, the show almost consistently delivered for three seasons.

After Harmon’s firing following a reported feud with actor Chevy Chase last year, the acclaimed comedy series’ fourth season became hit-and-miss.

Harmon’s absence was felt. New episodes elicited noticeably milder laughs or were just bafflingly unfunny. Hopefully, his recent rehiring will rectify this and other lapses, and defibrillate the beloved show into its original, gut-busting but periodically moving state.

“Community’s” fourth year is shorter. Its first three seasons had over 20 episodes each; this latest season has only 13.

The more compressed set apparently doesn’t allow much room for running story lines, and it has been  quickly wrapping up arcs like the “amnesia” of the villainous ex-teacher Chang (Ken Jeong), and the relationship between geeky Troy (Donald Glover) and independent Britta (Gillian Jacobs).

It expectedly reiterates the family aspects of the misfit group of community college students. Their bond has been tested from time to time, but characters always learned from each other’s gaffes.

Led by the ex-lawyer Jeff (Joel McHale), the eclectic study group has gone through thick and thin, often finding common ground despite their differences. Season 4 addresses Jeff’s abandonment issues. His anticipated meeting with his long-absent father happily made for a somewhat satisfying self-contained episode.

Other characters’ issues are brought to the fore. Abed (Danny Pudi) has the usual quirks and anxieties; Annie (Alison Brie) is still a restless overachiever; Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) has marital and maternal insecurities; Pierce (Chase) often wants to fit in; the aforementioned Troy and Britta face compatibility difficulties.

Some problematic episodes already aired had a more scattered consistency and a less-precise handling of humor. Previous seasons saw sturdier, better-paced stories and were able to present and mine situations for hilarity without missing a beat. Season 4 has had episodes that dragged or simply added nothing new to “Community’s” characters.

But the better episodes exhibited tighter, more explorative writing, most apparent in those stories dealing with the gang’s “secret origin,” Jeff’s inner conflict on graduating and his daddy issues, to name a few.

 Previous seasons had their clay figure and video game iterations—there were fewer pop culture references and parodies, which were essential “Community” ingredients. But the show is able to experiment again—the characters recently appeared as puppets in an episode.

(“Community” airs Sundays, 8 p.m. on Fox.)

Time Won’t Give Me Time

Status updatery, et cetera.

June 17. It's interesting that Russell Crowe has never seen a Superman film, and Mireille Enos has never seen a zombie movie. It doesn't matter. They're great actors, nonetheless.
June 19. Hay. True Blood.
June 19. Saw an ep of My Husband's Lover. Okey naman. May kilig din.
June 19. Weeks of energy-sapping summer heat, then days of non-stop rain. Wish it could just be breezy February for the rest of the year. Weather woes aside, getting stuck in the house meant I could work on my personal project.
June 21. Read Age of Ultron. Whoa, what? That was it?
June 21. After watching episode five of Da Vinci's Demons, I'm convinced that Tom Riley can effortlessly take over and reinvent the Doctor Who role. But not just yet, he's actually entertaining as flaky and semi-loony Leonardo.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Superman Versus Batman

A friend wanted them on a Shadow cover. Superman has the speed and heat vision, but Batman is holding a chunk of Kryptonite and an enchanted Batarang. 

Heavy mettle: Superman springs eternal

Some spoilers ahead.

No, there won’t be cellophane “S” emblems and memory-altering kisses. It’s also not the Superman mythology you remember. Co-written by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, and directed by Zack Snyder, this latest Superman movie is often visually stunning and emotionally engaging. But it’s also quite humorless, save for some brief exchanges.

“Man of Steel” is the inevitable re-imagining of the classic superhero into a more contemporary and edgier savior figure. The DC Comics character has been revamped countless times before in print, TV and film versions. But the changes this time are more significant; this iteration of the archetypal hero is a little darker and more “realistic,” its fantastical setting notwithstanding.

Henry Cavill plays the Kryptonian Kal-El, sent to Earth to escape his dying planet and eventually raised by kind Earthlings. Clark Kent grows up unaware of the origin of his powers, but finds answers and, not long after, threats from his old homeworld in the form of the brutal General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his conquering army.  This modern take is reminiscent of DC’s recent “Superman: Earth One” graphic novel, and partly inspired by the second Superman movie.

Krypton’s history is excellently revamped, the planet’s political and scientific structures epitomized in the enmity between Zod and Jor-El (Russell Crowe). It’s not merely a vague world mentioned in passing this time; we see enough of the Star Wars-esque Krypton, its culture and semantics, helping enhance Superman’s background tremendously.

“Man of Steel” does a number of things right, other than modifying the lore. The actors breathe life into the revitalized roles. Cavill dons the cape and darker (and trunks-less) costume impressively, although he’s not as charismatic as Christopher Reeve (none of the others were, to be fair). Still, he’s a very good actor, and it’s a consistently impassioned portrayal. Amy Adams makes a great Lois Lane, intrepid and unyielding but still very likable. It’s good that the Clark-Lois dynamic is changed this time; she actually uses her investigative abilities to figure out the alien hero’s identity. Other standouts include Crowe, Shannon and Kevin Costner (as Pa Kent).

The Christ demigod metaphors are much subtler than in the 2006 film “Superman Returns,” but they’re there and they work. As for Clark Kent’s humanity, parts of his acclimation to Earth are presented in a non-linear manner, which keeps things unpredictable despite one’s familiarity with the established origin.

However, the storytelling isn’t always smooth. Parts that stick out include: the unnecessary scenes of the Daily Planet employees evading debris and getting trapped in the rubble (no, Superman isn’t going to save them, so it didn’t set up anything important); the end of the climactic battle (while we all saw that “last resort” option coming, it was devoid of impact and fitting music); some of the fisticuffs lack power (the CGI overload makes a few battles too video game-y).

Still, “Man of Steel” mostly thrills. Snyder does a terrific job, his shared vision with Goyer and Nolan redefining the quintessential superhero for a new and somewhat grittier era. This newly established world can help kick off an “Avengers”-like DC film mythology, if the potential is properly realized. In any case, Superman is fresh again, and it’s a version that we won’t mind seeing again in the years ahead.

Hot director Zack Snyder paints a powerful picture (2007)

(This was originally published six years ago. I watched “Man of Steel" last Tuesday, and remembered interviewing Ian Tracey, the unruly trucker in the film, and director Zack Snyder, years ago.)
By Oliver Pulumbarit
First Posted 18:50:00 03/02/2007

His feature film debut, the 2004 zombie flick “Dawn of the Dead,” showcased filmmaker Zack Snyder’s stylish storytelling chops. The horror movie was a hit, and Snyder would soon be counted among Hollywood’s most promising new directors. His penchant for briskly paced but suspenseful action sequences, together with his rock-and-roll visual sensibilities, make him the ideal choice to translate comic book visionary Frank Miller’s bloody epic, “300,” to the big screen.

The new movie, also co-written by Snyder, is swathed in muted colors and characterized by an unrelenting barrage of creative carnage. The adaptation chronicles the exploits of a defiant Spartan king and his army of 300 warriors, and stars Gerard Butler and Rodrigo Santoro as adversaries who command faithful foot soldiers.

Snyder, an award-winning commercial director, studied art at the Heatherlies School in London, and later, at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He’s currently working on the movie version of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s groundbreaking “Watchmen” series, about the fateful dealings of gritty and realistic super-beings.

The filmmaker talked about “300” and his artistic idols in an exclusive phone interview, while in Beverly Hills, California.

   Was “300” easy to translate into a movie?
   It was challenging. Initially, after I first found the graphic novel, I couldn't think that Frank Miller would want me to do that as a movie. But Gianni Nunnari, our producer, got the rights to the movie. No one was doing it, not Spielberg or the other directors. My intention was to make the movie as similar to the graphic novel as I can. Frank's supportive of me; he respected me and understood that I was gonna do what I can with it.

   Were you involved with choosing the proper actors for “300”?
   I was. It’s totally my cast. I got all the people I wanted in it. After I met Gerry (Butler), it was easy to work with him, and the job he did in it was fantastic. He embraced the role and the character of King Leonidas. He carried the graphic novel around with him.

   How have critics responded to the movie?
   The critics are a hard crowd to please, but we had a screening yesterday and they were applauding and screaming! My hope is that people watch it to have an experience that they’ve never had in the movies.

   You’re currently working on “Watchmen.” Please tell us about that.
   It’s going good! We’re working on the script. We’re drawing. We’re doing it right now. That’s the only thing I’m working on right now. I’m a comic book fan, and it’s the king-daddy of them all. I think “Watchmen” is the only work by Alan Moore that I’m interested in doing, also since the others have been done already.

   Are you interested in working on your own comic book title, eventually?
   I don’t know. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and comic books. But I feel that, right now, as far as my aesthetic goes, “Watchmen” fills my mind. But sure, if I’m offered, I’d do it.

   What got you into reading them?
   I grew up reading Heavy Metal. My mother got it for me. She didn’t know that it was too violent and too sexy! Whenever I got “X-Men,” “Wolverine,” normal comics she bought for me, I didn’t like them. But when Frank Miller and Alan Moore came along, I started liking comic books a lot.

   Since you like Heavy Metal, you must be familiar with fantasy painter Frank Frazetta.
   I love Frazetta! He’s a big influence on “300.”

   How old are you? You look pretty young.
   I’m 41. I look like a young guy! And I act like one, too.

   When you switch off your filmmaker side, what keeps you busy?
   I play Gears of War on my Xbox. It lets me unwind. I train at the gym a lot. I also read books; I’m constantly looking at them. Other than comic book fare, I like biographies, history books and war novels. I like Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” I recommend it!

   How is your knowledge in painting helpful to you as a director?
   As far as my personal aesthetic goes, it’s part of what I see. In that way, it’s not necessarily a tool. I tend to not turn it off when I’m looking at things.

   Judging by the movie, you certainly can appreciate Lynn Varley’s colors on “300.”        
   Oh my god. She’s amazing!

   Was it difficult to recreate that mood when you used a lot of blue screen shots, where elements were added later?
   It’s hard, but very rewarding. It’s rewarding because of the potential and endless possibilities, and working that way enabled me to realize what I imagined. I’ve done a lot of commercials on exotic locations, but they’re landscapes, instead of blue screens.

   How do you feel about being able to express yourself in the film medium?
   It’s a privilege and an honor to be in a position like I’m in. There’s no better place and resource. The studio people have been helpful. They’ve been incredible. I did a deal with Warner Bros.; I have a company, Cruel and Unusual Films. We have a two-year, overall production deal, and “300” is the first film.

   Who’s your biggest artistic influence?
   My mother is my biggest influence. She’s a painter and a photographer. She encouraged me to paint and draw. She bought me a camera when I was 9 years old.

Love Machinery, Seventeen

Joss Whedon's future Slayer Melaka Fray, inheritor of the magical Scythe, which appeared in her early 2000s comic before its TV debut (Buffy the Vampire Slayer season seven). She reappeared in the Buffy Season Eight comic book.

The Punisher Armory by Eliot Brown. Cover by Michael Golden. Wish I got more of this when it came out. I have two issues. Really cool weapons and equipment handbook.

Man of Steel, now showing.
"I have no super-bastard in this one."

X-Men versus X-Men, Inferno edition. Also, Storm's team, influenced by the Goblin Queen, kills the Marauders. But I think they knew that they were clones, or clonable, at this point.
2008 annual this time. Found this at Book Sale earlier this week. Huge hologram photo cover.
Mandarin Spawn! Like other McFarlane figures, it's ultra-detailed, has limited poseability, and you know next to nothing about the character. But you just gotta have it. Bought this in 2005.
Walt Simonson issue. Thor can't transform into Donald Blake anymore, so he asks Nick Fury to create a civilian guise. Fury gives him glasses to complete his new secret identity. Thor bumps into a reporter named Clark moments later.


Young uberfan, circa 1977. I had an Avengers shirt too, about a year later.

College Try

From 1993. Part of my old comic book illustration thesis. This is about half of a quintiple gatefold cover, originally drawn on several illustration boards. The comic book was called "Dark Utopia." 

Immersion Obsession

Just stuff that’s been happening.

June 4. Game of Thrones' penultimate episode. No spoilers. Just... my god.
June 4. Hay, CBCP. Gay people don't need "interventions" for accepting their sexuality. Jeez.
June 4. I hope they cast Ben Whishaw (from Skyfall and Cloud Atlas) as the 12th Doctor.
June 4. But if the next Doctor's body is female, let the character be played by Kaya Scodelario, quirky, crazy Effy from Skins.
June 5. Just found out that Teen Wolf's Tyler Hoechlin was the kid from Road to Perdition.
June 6. Man of Steel next week.
June 8. Every time I see GoT's Daario, I'm reminded of the shows Hercules and Xena.
June 8. My nephew in the US recently got a Best in English medal, the only person from the batch of seventh graders to be given such an award. It's his second language; he spoke mostly in Filipino before moving to the States years ago.
June 9. Bought a bottle of Zest-O Slice juice, "grapple" flavor. Yeah, sounds like a wrestling move, but they mashed "grape" and "apple" together. Anyway, it tastes good.
June 11. Been getting requests to like FB pages. To my contacts, don't feel slighted if I don't like them immediately, or at all. Either I haven't seen them or I'm not interested at this time. Thank you!
June 11. Been years since the last Astro City miniseries. Must get the new issue!
June 12. Watched Man of Steel last night. Enjoyed it a lot, despite a few gripes. Must watch it again!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Past, Tense

Man, was I tense and excited. I was one of the finalists in Filbar's character design contest in 1991, held at Camp Crame. Whilce Portacio, artist of Uncanny X-Men during the time, was the special guest and one of the judges. He became my teacher eight years later, from late '99 to summer 2000. 

Lonely planet, predictable parenting

“After Earth” brings back the father-son tandem of Will and Jaden Smith, now playing problematic and marooned fighters in the M. Night Shyamalan-directed scifi-adventure flick. Such a collaboration between them seems promising; it’s the Smiths’ movie years after “The Pursuit of Happyness” and Shyamalan’s got some respectable films under his belt (let’s not talk about “Airbender,” now).
It’s actually a very simple parent-child bonding movie, well-acted by both Smiths, undoubtedly, but there isn’t much to see and enjoy aside from that. In the far future, their characters are trained to destroy savage alien beasts that can literally smell humans that fear them. The older Smith plays Cypher Raige, a much-revered warrior that can calm himself, “ghost” past the aliens and destroy them, while the teen Smith plays his guilt-ridden son Kitai. Both are stranded on an abandoned planet, the now-unrecognizable Earth, after their ship's crash-landing.

“After Earth” is predictable and slowly paced. Will Smith’s original story is written for the screen by Shyamalan and two others. It’s mostly about an initially dysfunctional bond between the two family members, a problem that will undoubtedly be resolved once the characters learn new things and accept change. We see both Cypher and Kitai go through the motions, but it’s the latter who gets more action scenes, and more opportunities to tangle with hostile CGI creatures.

The Smiths’ bond is genuine, however, so there’s no trouble with convincing the audience about their emotional states. The science is a bit interesting—the changed atmosphere and fauna of the forgotten Earth, and the sensory configuration of the aliens are among the parts that should’ve been explored more, for a more complex and sturdy backstory. Also, the father-son characters become dull after some time, leaving us indifferent to their familial issues and anticipated transformations.


Forgot about this. Village church from 1996. This was one of two churches that a batchmate asked me to draw. 

Friday, June 07, 2013

‘Teen Wolf’ star mum about likely bromance in season 3

(Published June 7, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“I’ve always been a  fan of [the horror] genre,” said actor Tyler Hoechlin (heck-lin), who plays “alpha” werewolf Derek Hale in the monster drama series “Teen Wolf,” during a teleconference with Asian publications.

A former child actor, Hoechlin played Tom Hanks’ son in the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.” He had a recurring role in “7th Heaven,” and a part in the 2011 comedy “Hall Pass.” Now 25, Hoechlin is playing his “Teen Wolf” character for the third year. Tough bruiser Derek is the reluctant mentor to the main character, a.k.a. Scott, played by Tyler Posey.

“I think that everything you put together— a good storyline, good characters, something you can relate to—is always fun,” Hoechlin said, referring to monster flicks and TV shows. “Teen Wolf’s” third season, he added, would feature more new characters that viewers could connect with.

“We have more villains than we’ve had in the past, leading to a lot more action, a lot more deception,” he revealed. “There’s going to be a lot of guessing who is who and who’s on whose side. I think, it will be fun for the audience to watch, to get to know [them]. I believe people will kind of attach themselves to the characters very quickly!”

Some fans of the show have been vocal about their support for Derek and another male character, Stiles, the goofy sidekick played by Dylan O’Brien. There is online speculation about where their oft-tense, uneasy friendship is headed. But Hoechlin is mum about the characters’ sexuality and a possible gay relationship.

“Since the first season, there’s been a positive response to the scenes that involve Derek and Stiles,” he said. “For me, it’s always been a very fun part of the show because those are the two characters on the show that are just so polar opposites of each other. I think it’s an [important] element of the show and we’re not getting rid of it at this point.”

But he hinted that Derek might still figure in a romance angle. “I think there could [be romance for Derek]. I can’t say too much,” he said, laughing.

Hoechlin’s werewolf makeup usually takes about two and a half hours to apply. Sometimes, it can be done in two, “if it’s a really good day.” He admires the effects department’s “phenomenal” job: “It’s a really cool thing to have prosthetics and makeup that you can actually see, touch and feel on set, as opposed to those that are just added afterwards, on the computer. It definitely helps me on the set… you feel very free to do things that, otherwise, you may feel a little bit awkward doing!”

The show, developed by Jeff Davis, was loosely based on the “Teen Wolf” movie that starred Michael J. Fox in 1985. The hit series previously had 12 episodes per season, but the current season has been expanded to 24 episodes.

Hoechlin is thrilled about the expansion and the addition of new actors: “They are all a blast to work with, really great people. We’ve been insanely lucky on the show to have good people to work with every time we bring out new characters. I think it will be an exciting season!”

(“Teen Wolf” airs Fridays, 9:20 p.m. on beTV, starting tonight.)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Scott and Emma Against the World

Or, No More Avengers. Friend wanted Scott and Emma kissing on a Wolverine cover.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Hanging and over

The Wolfpack’s back, but there are few rip-roaring moments in “The Hangover Part III,” final part of a successful series of comedies starring Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha.

Exhibiting erratic behavior, the man-child Alan (Galifianakis) has gone off his meds, unaware of the damage he’s been causing. An intervention is staged by his loyal pals Phil, Stu, and Doug (Cooper, Helms, and Bartha). But en route to a treatment center, the old friends are stopped by the mob boss Marshall (John Goodman), who tasks them with finding the troublemaker Chow (Ken Jeong) and his stash of gold bars. Doug is taken hostage, so the trio scrambles to find the erstwhile drug dealer and ex-con.

This third and final part slightly deviates from the formula while retaining some familiar elements. Phil, Stu and Alan go on a series of misadventures, not to find out what happened to them the previous night, which was already rehashed in the second installment, but they still do crazy stuff before getting Doug back. The surprises this time aren’t as interesting because they ditched the amnesiacs’ “mystery” (although not entirely—do stay for the extra end-credits scene).

It meanders and drags, making it a “regular” heist-comedy and is less about the gang’s substance-influenced outrageous behavior and their results. “The Hangover Part III” could’ve been so much more—Melissa McCarthy is a welcome addition of sorts—but it just isn’t the hazy and consistently gut-busting “Hangover” we remember anymore.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Old New Mutants

Magik. Illyana Rasputin, circa 1984. Just felt like sketching her.
Cypher and Warlock. Doug Ramsey, master of languages, and Warlock the misfit Technarch. Love the old New Mutants.

Love Machinery, Sixteen

Got this GoT season one DVD set last week. Thanks, HBO Asia and Virtusio.

Uncanny Avengers.
"Wasp, not now."
"C'mon, Alex. I don't care about your thing with Lorna. I just want you to like me. And maybe, my mutant fashion line."

Spidey and Deadpool fights and/or team-ups should happen more often.

The only Who's Who issues I own, bought in the '90s. Wish DC would release compilations. It's irrelevant now that DC has a new, revamped universe, but I'd still enjoy reading and looking at them.

DC Vs. Marvel II!
"For DC! Stand fast, warrior-sister Angela!"
"Oh God, this can't be happening. Weren't we Image Comics antiheroes?"

Six of my favorite universes.

Mettle Metamorphosis

Thoughts, compiled.

May 23. I just suddenly missed those fancy Multiply picture frames.
May 23. May bagong Avengers cartoon pala. Di ko pa napapanood yung season two nung huling Avengers series.
May 23. Algebra. Flunked it once and attended a remedial class. Looking at an equation now, it's still like an alien language, a code I can't decipher. I don't remember how I passed, but I think some classmates helped out.
May 25. Dalawang oras na madilim, pero ayaw pa umulan.
May 27. Caught two episodes of Nat Geo's The '80s. Interesting how Madonna started out, and knew even then how to provocatively present herself. Also found the US' "cola wars" intriguing. I wonder how New Coke tasted.
May 27. I hope that the kids of those who were mean to me in school become really good persons and never behave like their idiot fathers.
May 29. After I complained to the SM Foodcourt page about their nightly practice of turning off lights while people are still eating, I got a call from a lady named Grace, an operations officer. She apologized for the inconvenience. She said that those in charge of turning off lights have been reminded to check if there are still customers eating in the area.
May 29. I'm turning 40 in a few months. I don't feel anxious about aging now, unlike when I was about to turn 30. Although I feel like I should be more aware of what I eat, now more than ever.

‘Bates Motel’ an intriguing prequel series to ‘Psycho’

(Published May 31, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
It’s not the “Psycho” you remember. “Bates Motel” is a disturbing prequel series expounding on horror/slasher icon Norman Bates, reimagining characters immortalized by the Alfred Hitchcock movie.

“Bates Motel” features a much younger Norman years before the grisly events depicted in Robert Bloch’s novel and Hitchcock’s 1960 film adaptation. Played by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s” Freddie Highmore, Norman here is a bright but strange teen whose emerging dark side is gradually explored.

Developed by writers Carlton Cuse (“Lost”), Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”) and Anthony Cipriano (“The Journey of Allen Strange”), the series introduces figures influential to—or unwittingly instrumental in—Norman’s villainous transformation.

Versatile actress Vera Farmiga plays Norma, mother of the disturbed Norman. In the first episode, Norma and Norman Bates move to a seemingly idyllic town in Oregon after her husband’s sudden death. Norma is the new owner of a decades-old inn; she hopes the new venture will help them start over.

Renaming the inn Bates Motel, she and Norman are set on refurbishing its aging rooms and starting operations. But they soon discover that not all the town’s residents are welcoming, and that it has its share of horrifying and sordid secrets.

Former child actor Highmore is incredibly talented, able to provide menacing sides to the initially sweet and wholesome Norman. He pulls off portraying a shy and smothered young man, charmingly disarming one minute and chillingly devoid of humanity the next.

Farmiga is perfect as the hyperactive, overprotective Norma. She played beleaguered moms to terror tots in the thrillers “Joshua” and “Orphan.” But as Norma Bates, Farmiga coruscates with wildness and wit, the character’s overwhelming personality a crucial factor in shaping teen Norman’s future savagery.

The contemporary setting is still accessible to those with a previous familiarity with “Psycho,” but the present-day reset keeps it attractive to viewers who aren’t necessarily into the seminal book or classic movie. There’s also a visual balance; the presence of smartphones and other modern technology is offset by older architecture, car designs, and Norman’s retro-looking clothes.

Characters like Norman’s tough half-brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) and the intrepid classmate Emma (Olivia Cooke) keep things fresh, adding some unpredictable variables to the equation.

“Bates Motel” is off to a promising start, solid and dark enough to appeal to fans of “Dexter” and “Hannibal.” The young psychopath’s morbid evolution unsettles and intrigues, and the inescapable episodic shattering of his fragile mind offers an oddly fascinating sojourn.

(“Bates Motel” airs Wednesdays, 10:50 p.m. on Universal.)

Creation Sensation

Status updates and random thoughts, as usual.

May 17. Saw new Iron Man Marvel Legends figures. Nice-looking stuff, especially the Classic armor with two masks, and the armor that debuted in 1989.
May 17. I've always liked the bombardment of details and designs in the works of great artists such as George Perez, Gene Ha, Art Adams, Geof Darrow, Phil Jimenez, and many others. Composition and clarity are always important, sure, but the extra effort is easily apparent to--and very much appreciated by--those who are into that kind of contained chaos.
May 17. Aloha Burger. Tastes like Tropical Hut's Hawaiian Glee, but with bacon bits. Which is okay. Thanks, Benedict.
May 20. Weirded out, but ultimately elated to see the definition of some muscles below the collar bone. Discovered them thanks to odd lighting.
May 22. Super-late to the party, but finally watched season one of Sherlock. Managed to keep myself spoiler-free, and was pleasantly surprised that it's a modern/contemporary interpretation.
May 22. So. Star Trek. Simple but spectacular. Great that it still has a connection to the old continuity.