Thursday, July 24, 2014


Tyrion Lannister. Black sheep.

Simian siege, evolution of ‘Apes’

(July 20, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Darker and more ominous, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a worthy, rampaging sequel to 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” sturdily continuing the saga of the chimp champion Caesar, default leader of similarly smart simians.

The latest installment in the prequel/reboot series, the Matt Reeves-directed film works well in enhancing the decades-old mythology, first introduced in the 1963 novel “La Planete des Singes,” and translated later to the first “Planet of the Apes” film in 1968.

In “Dawn,” much has happened to the world, a full decade later. The intellectually evolved Caesar (motion-acted and voiced by Andy Serkis) is now leader of a peaceful tribe of apes, simultaneous to the decimation of the human race by a relentless virus.

Human survivors in San Francisco, led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), seek to restore power in the city. A small team is sent to the California wilderness, where a hydroelectric dam is situated, and where Caesar’s tribe lives. Man and ape grudgingly cooperate and compromise, but some members of each group are just antagonistic and untrusting, which predictably leads to disaster.

From the get-go, “Dawn” benefits from seamless special effects, resulting in busier, more hyper-real scenarios, whether they’re thunderous clashes, hunting scenes, or quieter, more intimate parts (specifically the bits that focus on Caesar’s family). The apes here are rightly more expressive, strange but fascinating amalgamations of simians with unsettling human mannerisms.

There is much to appreciate, drama-wise, as the human family tasked with working in ape territory gives the film some dimension. Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Kodi Smith-McPhee portray weary survivors who bond with the non-humans well. But just as dramatic are the main ape family members—Caesar fathered two sons with an ailing female. Their travails are surprisingly just as relatably human, their ordeals terribly affecting.

The theme of family is wisely utilized and explored; flashing back via video recording to Caesar’s younger days (with James Franco’s fatherly character) at one point, the film connects to its predecessor’s focus on father-child dynamics, replicating much of the pathos with “Dawn’s” new rapports.

It is elating to see Caesar as a mature, progressive, sympathetic leader, just as it is exciting to see his primitive culture advancing in undreamed-of ways—we root for him and his loyal compatriots, despite the fact that these events all lead inescapably to their kind inheriting the Earth.

Reeves, no stranger to wrangling “real” and fantastical elements—he directed the horror-drama “Let Me In” and scifi flick “Cloverfield”—handles the primate politics of “Dawn” with precision and texture, making its chaotic flashpoints especially grand and epic.

Objectifixation, Sixteen

"Woohoo! I have a TV show! Take that, Pietro!"
“I don't know. I keep seeing Grant Gustin as an evil Warbler."

Targaryen sigil pillow. Thanks, Art Navarro and HBO Asia!

Found this old vinyl record under a stack of drawings. A friend gave it to me in '89, I think.

Sale stuff. That Supergirl 1 Million issue is weird.

Longshot and Psylocke.
"Dazzler needs an intervention! That costume!"
"I know! At least you left that Limahl look in the '90s."

Unforgettable 1991 ad for (adjectiveless) X-Men # 1 that appeared in many Marvel titles.
"A talking raccoon, Frank! Maybe they'll give me a reboot."
"Yeah, that'll probably happen after I get my fourth doomed movie, Howard."


X-Terminators. The original X-Factor's trainees: Rictor, Boom Boom, Skids, Rusty, Wiz Kid, Leech, Artie.

Cloud-based service allows real-time viewing

(July 17, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Couch potatoes have gone beyond viewing favorite shows only on TV screens, thanks to the Internet. One company provides an orderly, easily accessible system for such dedicated viewers, via tablets, phones and/or other gadgets.

A cable TV-streaming service launched last year in the United States, NimbleTV ( is cloud-based. Subscribers around the world can watch the shows as they air in their countries of origin on most Internet-ready devices.

Inquirer Entertainment was invited to test the service. In the limited time offered, much was discovered—intriguing channels to browse, shows to see, and see again. Surfing took up much of the time; it can be hard to decide which programs to view now or save (record) for later. 

The NimbleTV dashboard is easily navigable; the page layout is intuitive. The show may be viewed full-screen or shrunk into a corner if you wish to check out the schedule for other shows.

Nearly all genres are offered—reality TV, game shows, cartoons, and so on.

While the shows are recordable, one drawback is when something you’re watching gets interrupted with the notice, “Please wait while we verify your subscription with your provider. This may take a minute.”

It doesn’t take that long, but still. Or you are asked to wait while the channel guide is being updated. At times, it resets to where your show started, so it can get confusing.

In any case, it’s still convenient and generally reliable. Plus, shows like “True Blood” are aired without jarring cuts.

Interested parties may try the service for a limited period. Visit Viewers who wish for the service to be made available in the Philippines should contact NimbleTV via Facebook  ( and Twitter (@NimbleTV).

Age of Kulan Gath

Age of Kulan Gath. From Uncanny X-Men 190-191. Manhattan and its denizens were transformed by the master spell of the wizard-king Kulan Gath, who was opposed by the X-Men and other freedom-fighters.

Found Lost

Thanks for the book, Danry! At sana masaya ka na at may issue 2 ka na ng Lost! And thanks, Aileen, for the pic. 

Local comic book collector Danry Ocampo finally got the Lost comic book that I promised a month or so back, and the Deathstroke sketch he requested. He brought a copy of Rodsky Patotski, when he dropped by the office, too! Nice. Salamat, Danry.

Catwoman, Pre-Crisis

Catwoman. Pre-Crisis Selina Kyle.

Brainiac blunders and breakthroughs abound in ‘Silicon Valley’

(July 14, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Lewd and lowbrow elements often make up most of  Mike Judge’s humor, but the “Beavis and Butthead” creator’s new HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley” is primarily smart and geeky, although it can still be crude and downright silly at times.

Judge, with John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (collaborators on Judge’s animated series “King of the Hill”), cocreated “Silicon Valley,” an eight-episode foray into timely success stories in the tech world, mainly inspired by Judge’s stint at a startup company based in California’s Silicon Valley hub in the 1980s.

And similarities with current-day brainiacs abound, as “Silicon Valley” follows the life of promising genius programmer Richard  Hendriks (Thomas Middleditch), who develops a groundbreaking data compression algorithm, which makes him suddenly sought-after by eccentric billionaires who wish to be part of his impending success.

Richard chooses a venture capitalist’s offer of $200,000 and 5-percent ownership, over a $10-million buyout of his new company—not an easy decision to make and stand by, but a path that would be more rewarding for him, he figures.

But while Richard charts his own course now, he has to deal with all the challenges that come with a potentially profitable future, from his company’s name to the nitty-gritties that his new endeavor entails.
Interestingly, his eager and willing colleagues and housemates join him in ensuring that he gets things done, despite the occasional derailing subplot. 

Entrepreneur Erlich Bachman (TJ Miller), who has been with Richard since the beginning (Erlich runs an incubator of startup businesses), is supportive of the young up-and-comer while acting as a meddlesome middleman.

“Silicon Valley” wryly pokes fun at the unique absurdities of the “techspert” culture, while presenting an easily relatable underdog story with the shy protagonist, who now faces the might of a spurned Internet giant (with nigh-unlimited resources to reverse-engineer his vaunted breakthrough).

And while it deals with the funny world of intelligent people who are ill-equipped to handle “real” problems, it still inspires guffaws through Farrelly-esque irreverence (Erlich attacking a young bully who tormented the defenseless Richard is priceless). The show also periodically resorts to adult/green humor to emphasize the more human side of the characters. In the season-ender, there is actually a lengthy joke that’s both lewd and intelligent, but works hilariously.

May the show mine its offbeat, otherworldly realm for more effective laughs next season, and offer more scathing and spirited satires!

(A “Silicon Valley” marathon airs July 20, 12 p.m. on HBO Signature.) 

‘Game of Thrones’ artist visualizes the fantastic

(July 11, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“With my comics background, it was an easy transition to do the work on ‘Game of Thrones,’” said Northern Irish storyboard artist William “Will” Simpson, during a recent phone interview with the Inquirer.

Simpson illustrated iconic comic book characters such as Batman and Judge Dredd, before shifting to doing storyboards for movies. He stressed that disciplines he learned in comics continue to be useful to his current work.

“Comic illustrating is a pressurized art job where storytelling is everything, and clarity is important … when I got into storyboarding, I was drawing detailed and clear illustrations. It’s a natural kind of progression. ‘Game of Thrones’ was such a breeze to walk into,” Simpson said.

His film credits include “Reign of Fire” and “City of Ember,” among others. He said that being a storyboard artist requires him to work closely with directors.

“The great thing is, you’re trying to do a version of their vision, their idea of what we’re going to shoot,” Simpson said. “It’s important that I connect with all of our different (‘Game of Thrones’) directors. I have to be able to adapt to their way of solving problems within a script. A lot of the time, it’s moving camera angles … [it has to be] clear to the directors of photography and everyone else involved. ”

Simpson related that if the directors like his approach to telling assigned scenes, they approve and immediately work on it; if not, he makes appropriate changes like adding very specific shots or changing angles.

He works primarily in black and white, drawing scenes onto frames, but has done color designs when asked by producers to create conceptual artwork for certain sequences and characters.

“I like just drawing storyboards in black and white … there’s a clarity to them that helps, rather than hinders. Conceptual work, it’s different; you’re trying to get the feel of what you’re trying to portray. I got to do that back in the beginning. The White Walkers, [monsters that] were going to be part of the main story even though we just see them briefly—they were probably my favorite thing to conceptualize.” 

On author George RR Martin’s blog post last year, which indicated that the American writer imagined the Iron Throne differently, Simpson responded that changes are inevitable with the HBO adaptation.

“There have been many conceptualizations of the Iron Throne by lots of different artists [and fans] over the years. When we came to the stuff in the show, it was with fresh eyes … When you see it on the set, it’s a marvel; it feels right for what our show is. I think it’s become an acceptable thing. When you look at fans who want to get photographed on the Iron Throne, George should be happy about the fact that it’s actually done its job. It definitely has helped create an identity for the thing,” Simpson said.

While being a storyboard artist doesn’t require one to draw exact likenesses of the actors, Simpson explained that he imagines them while working. “You have their images in your mind when you’re drawing, and you have to get some of their approaches to acting into your characters. You try to instill all that into the boards, under pressure,” he said, laughing.

(The “Game of Thrones” marathon airs Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m., on HBO Signature.)

Life, loss and ‘The Leftovers’

(July 5, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Inspired by the religious belief called “The Rapture”—mass vanishing of innocent and righteous persons prior to the end times—“The Leftovers” is an aptly bleak HBO series that tackles the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of millions.

Created by Damon Lindelof (“Lost”) and Tom Perrotta (“Election”), the fantasy-drama series focuses on the aftermath of the global event dubbed The Departure, three years after people of all ages and races disappeared.

Still reeling from the loss, denizens of one town react differently to the unprecedented occurrence that continues to baffle scientists, and even the religious. It’s not all-out chaos, as things seem normal, only somber and much quieter. A cop, Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) tries to maintain order, attempting to make sense of his life and keep his disassembled family together. His wife (Amy Brenneman) left him to join a cult of silent (nonspeaking) protesters; his daughter (Margaret Qualley) keeps rebelling; and unknown to him, his son (Chris Zylka) has become the henchman of a self-styled prophet.

Life goes on for the abandoned, most of them silently questioning the still-unanswered mystery. Some deal with feelings of unworthiness; but there are those who carry on, unruffled. A priest (Christopher Eccleston) dispels the belief that The Departure took only the virtuous and sinless; he gathers and spreads proof that some of the vilest, most hateful people were included in the “cosmic” culling.

“The Leftovers” has a tone similar to some fantasy and sci-fi drama series about encompassing cataclysms or “miracles”—“FlashForward,” “Resurrection” and “Revolution” easily come to mind—but it certainly is more dour and less optimistic,  its small-town setting giving it a strange, “Twin Peaks” vibe. (Kevin’s sanity is questioned a few times owing to some odd encounters.)

It has quirky, “Lost” touches, as well; by the third episode, it is easy to sympathize with the characters. Not that it isn’t easy from the get-go, it’s well-acted enough to inspire emotional rapport—there’s just a deeper understanding of their dysfunctions once the massive, soul-searching backstories unfold.

The focus on Eccleston’s religious character, for example, reveals his various frailties, illustrating in detail his life prior to, and after The Departure. He exposes the fact that the despicable were among the disappeared, exemplifying the serious conflict within his being. While he is perplexed at the randomness of the calamity, he gives voice to those who want to remember that a clear demarcation still exists between good and evil.

There’s enough interconnected drama that effortlessly establishes the despairing, befuddled world. Theroux does admirably as the layered cop, touched by guilt and a struggling family man, observing change and disruption from a unique spot. Liv Tyler is warm and pleasant as the unhappy woman searching for purpose; Zylka and Qualley do impressively as the jaded youngsters with corresponding angsts and respective shenanigans; Eccleston is just uncommonly remarkable as an unwavering naysayer.

It’s easy to get into “The Leftovers” despite its predictable, world-weary tone and unrelenting moodiness. The post-apocalyptic drama’s melancholy musings offer a fresh look at societal upheaval, and answers more relatable human mysteries while doing so.

(“The Leftovers” airs July 6, 8:45 p.m. on HBO and HBO HD.)