Movie review for ‘The Lion King’ and critically-acclaimed South Korean film ‘Parasite’.


I bet everyone would have gone to the cinema to watch ‘The Lion King’ by now already. Expecting lesser people to hit the cinema for this movie since it is already out for over a month, I was surprised to see that my hall is almost full. People are still flocking to see the film and so far it has grossed near to US$ 1.4 billion, and is already currently the 10th highest grossing film worldwide in history.

The original animated film released back in 1994 was a classic hit and was so well beloved. Although only mixed reviews from the critics, general audiences will still not miss the movie and they enjoyed it too (including me). I know the problem with the movie that has also been highlighted by many; it’s a total copy and paste from the original film. The story is totally the same, the scores are the same, the scenes are the same and even the dialogues are the same. Usually, Disney would add in something new (though very minor as not to eviate much from the original story that everyone remembers) to their live-action remake. Not for this one. There is simply no effort to try to put in a bit of new stuff to further spice up the plot.

Anyway, I’m actually happy for them to keep the score the same. The soundtrack for the original film is very beautiful and has been used (perhaps enhanced too) for this remake. It helps to add a lot to the story. If not, I would feel like watching a National Geographic documentary rather than an animal adventure full of heart. Well, the movie didn’t actually excel in that ‘heart’ aspect. This is due to the realistic portrayal of the animals that in turn erode some necessary exaggerated expressions on them to convey the emotions. The visual effect on this photo-realistic animation is brilliant but at the same time, the emotional side of the film has been brought down by it which I think is more superior.

Anyway, ‘The Lion King’ is still a movie not to be missed for all the adults who wanted to relive the moment when they first watched the original film. A visual masterpiece, and also a musical spectacle. However, it goes on a very safe route with no fresh things added in, and it lacks the heart that what makes the original film so much beloved. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Lion King’ (2019) a total of 7.0.

My next movie review would be short. It’s because I do not want to reveal a lot of information or spoiler about this movie and would like you to experience the movie (if you have not watched it) with very little knowledge of what it is about beforehand. It’s a South Korean film titled ‘Parasite’. I can only say that the plot is somewhere about; a poor family worked on their ways to get hired by a wealthy family to work in the latter’s household. Of course, the whole plot is much more than that and it’s best for you enjoy it without any further spoiler.

The movie receives a full 100% rating in Rotten Tomatoes. That’s insane and I kind of understood the reason after having watched it a short while ago. This movie is clearly a masterpiece not only in storytelling but also in its craft. The movie has very beautiful cinematography, very engaging performances and a fantastic plot that mixes all three different elements (thriller, comedy and drama) together unbelievably well. The social message delivered out of this movie is powerful too. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Parasite’ a total of 8.6. A perfect film to inform to the Hollywood that Asian film has the quality to compete not only in your ‘best foreign film’ category but also in the coveted overall ‘best film/picture’ category at your major film awards.

‘Parasite’ is also the first ever South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or award (highest prize that is equivalent to best film) at 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Well, it deserves it.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

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‘Toy Story 4’ becomes the 6th film this year to join the 1-billion dollar club, and my review for a HK drama about urban legends.


Before this weekend arrives, ‘Toy Story 4’ has already achieved a spectacular milestone; grossing over US$ 1 billion worldwide. As of Thursday, the fourth film in this very successful animated film series has grossed US$ 1.001 billion. I think the movie has entered its 5th or 6th weekend, and is still playing in many theatres worldwide, and has not been released yet in several countries. With that in mind, this movie is going soar higher and may end up with US$ 1.04 billion. It will not catch up to its predecessor (Toy Story 3 which has grossed US$ 1.067 billion way back in 2010 but it is still performing very well in its own, in both box office and to the critics. I personally loved this film and didn’t expect that the fourth story would be very well done too since ‘Toy Story 3’ had already set the bar so high and is deemed to be a perfect conclusion to this film series.

This makes ‘Toy Story 4’ the 6th film this year to join the wonderful 1-billion dollar club. Yes, the 6th film this year alone. Disney is doing very well especially with 5 films this year achieving that (Aladdin, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, The Lion King). Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home is the other film that is able to cross the 1-billion mark this year. It just ain’t stopping here. There are two more films this year that are expected to join the billion dollar club too; ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’. It’s almost 100% certain that these two movies will accomplish that. Hence, this will make 2019 the year with most number of 1-billion grosser movies, at 8. Currently, with 6 films, year 2019 already holds the record.

Next up; I’m about to write a review for a Hong Kong drama that I have just completed. The drama is titled ‘Our Unwinding Ethos’ (十二傳說) and it’s about a folklore professor and her students investigating multiple strange cases that involve urban legends / folklore tales in Hong Kong. The drama has 25 episodes and starred Rosina Lam, Edwin Siu, Jonathan Cheung, Moon Lau, Alex Lam, etc.

This series is surprisingly good and very engaging. I started watching it with very low expectation due to the not-so-popular cast and the earlier thought of this drama going only on the paranormal / haunting direction. Now, I am left impressed. There are 11 different cases (12 including the last one at the ending) to solve in the series and each one is captivating and different to each other (and yet the series flows very well and ties things back together). The plot is very clever and every episode’s ending left me to guess on who’s the real killer and eager to know the answer. That is a sign that the drama is a good one and had my attention. This series is much better than the overhyped medical drama ‘Big White Duel’ released earlier that relies only on star-studded cast, big production and realistic medical scenes but is very poor on story execution, character’s development, and many others.

‘Our Unwinding Ethos’ on the other hand relies on solid content (no big cast or big production) and brilliant plot that got me engaged. Well, this series isn’t perfect either. There’s still a long way to go for the two main leads, Edwin Siu and Rosina Lam to excel in acting. They just can’t give great performance, they are just doing average here. But they don’t impact much on the overall series’ performance. Give it a try if you have not watch it. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Our Unwinding Ethos’ a total of 7.8.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

 

Egypt is my travel destination next year!


The past 4-days long weekend was awesome! I was able to do a lot of stuff and had some great family bonding time in those 4 days; got my haircut, ate a lot of durians, attended my uncle’s 70th birthday dinner, played rummy and went up to Genting with family, did a quick shopping, and visited a travel fair at Mid Valley.

I also managed to watch the live broadcast of the National Day Parade on last Friday’s evening in conjunction with Singapore’s 54th National Day and Bicentennial celebration. I was surprised that even our Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir attended the event (alongside with leaders from Brunei and Indonesia as well). The parade was wonderful. How I wish that our Malaysia National Day Parade could be as energetic and as captivating as theirs.

It was a quick holiday back at home in KL that feels just not enough although the weekend has already been extended to 4 days due to the Singapore’s National Day that falls on last Friday and Hari Raya Haji that falls on Sunday (hence replacement on Monday – yesterday). To be accurate, I only had 3 days of break due to the super lengthy time wasted on the travel back and forth between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I was already mentally prepared for the much more serious traffic and human congestion in both my departing and returning bus trips. The queues (be it vehicles or humans) near the immigration checkpoints are insane! Did you know that my bus ride started at 12.40pm yesterday from KL and I only reached Singapore at 11pm (one hour plus break in between). That’s like over 10 hours of journey. What can I do? That’s the cheapest mode of transportation.

As mentioned earlier, I did went to a travel fair (called MITM Fair) last Sunday at Mid Valley Megamall. My parents decided to book our Chinese New Year holiday trip (next year’s CNY) earlier rather than waiting for the MATTA Fair next month. This MITM Fair is also free to visit unlike the MATTA Fair where there is an entrance fee per visitor. The fair is smaller in scale but is sufficient for us to browse around and get the trip that suits us the most (price, timing, travel company, itineraries, etc).

After years of suggesting but not selected, my wish of traveling to Egypt is finally fulfilled. My dad isn’t that fancy of a vacation to an Arab country but since he knew that I have longed for this trip for a long time, he finally agreed to try. Thanks dad! I’m not here to show off, but I do have visited quite a number of countries in the past. I have seen jungle, sea, snow, islands, beaches, caves, mountains, and rivers, but never a desert. This will be my first time seeing that. I am also quite interested in history and hence Egypt would be a cool destination for me as it has a lot of ancient temples, ruins and of course, the majestic Great Pyramids of Giza.

The group tour that we have booked isn’t cheap. It costs us RM8000++ for one person and it covers everything in a 9 days 7 nights trip. That includes a 3 nights stay at a small luxury cruise along the famous Nile River. Didn’t know that a trip to Egypt would costs that much! With that amount of money, I can go to Europe already too (but I have been there twice in the past). I am already excited now for the trip, which is still far far away (about half a year from now).

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

Fireworks again in the city..and can’t wait for the next weekend when there are holidays finally!.


Singapore is really not holding anything back in preparation for its upcoming 54th National Day celebration (will be on this coming Friday, 9th August). The National Day parade to be held at Padang this year will be much grander as 2019 is a special year that marks the 200th anniversary (bicentennial celebration) of the founding of modern Singapore. What I meant by not holding back I stated earlier? Answer’s below.

To ensure the parade will run smoothly, not one but multiple rehearsals have been held in every weekend leading up to the actual celebration. Hence, we got to enjoy the fireworks display (part of the rehearsal) at the city area every weekend since late June. Yes; fireworks display for the past 4 to 5 weekends. That’s Singapore’s way to flaunt its wealth. A mega celebration for a tiny country.

With nothing much to do yesterday, I purposely went to the city with my friend to watch this fireworks display again since it’s free. This is my second time watching it (you will notice my blog post about two weeks ago did highlight on it too). They do look nice (at least better than any fireworks show in Malaysia).

And then, I was never tired of this city view; day or night;

Besides than going to the city yesterday to watch the complimentary fireworks, I also brought my friend to Jewel Changi Airport since he has not been there before. This is my third time visiting Jewel by the way. A visit to Jewel isn’t complete without this picture below although I have taken this shot for quite a lot of times already in the past;

The waterfall looks cool when you see it for the first time. After visiting Jewel for several times, I felt that there is nothing much to talk about already regarding this latest Singapore’s attraction besides than thinking that yup, this is another way for Singapore to show off not only its fantastic-looking buildings, but also to show off its wealth again. A luxurious building indeed. In my third visit, I got impressed with its glamorous toilets instead (haha…glitzy sanitary fixtures and full-height glass window for the toilet!).

With this weekend about to end, now I’m very excited for the next weekend which will be longer due to the Singapore’s National Day that falls on this Friday and Hari Raya Haji that falls on the next Monday. Yup, that’s a long 4 days weekend break. Perfect time to go back to KL and now I’m mentally prepared to face the inevitable crazy traffic and human congestion on the way to cross the border to Malaysia on this Thursday’s evening after work.

Weekend with durian, movie and music all by myself!


I have spent this weekend all by myself and there’s fun in it too. Besides than giving the time just to myself without being bothered by anyone else, I also got to enjoy the things I like to do in this last weekend of July. Sometimes, it is just right to spend some quality time alone.

It looks like durian season is coming to an end and hence I will not miss the chance to treat myself with the king of fruit. I treated myself yesterday two XO durians that cost 30 dollars in total. I just love it; its creamy texture and the mix of sweet and bitter taste are so mouth-watering. I usually have them on weekend as to avoid speaking to my colleagues and boss on weekdays with bad breath. Haha…its smell is really very strong and that’s why this fruit is highly controversial.

For me, a weekend feels incomplete without a movie. Although ‘Toy Story 4’ has been out in cinemas for quite some time now, I only managed to watch it just today. ‘Toy Story 3’ that was released 9 years ago is already a remarkable way to end this film series and everyone felt that it is not necessary for another ‘Toy Story’ films (me included). However, ‘Toy Story 4’ surprised us all with yet another brilliant addition to this film series that has accompanied a lot of kids for years till now when they have all grown up.

There is so much emotion in ‘Toy Story 3’ and in this latest sequel, we saw a similar parting moment again between the main characters (a little spoiler here) at the end of the movie. ‘Toy Story 4’ delivered yet again with its humor (had some great laughs and fun…the new character, Forky is really hilarious) and emotion. The vocal performances are top-notch and the animation do look marvelous too. It’s hard for a sequel to work well especially after an impressive conclusion in the third film and yet ‘Toy Story 4’ defies that. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Toy Story 4’ a total of 8.6. A highly enjoyable, entertaining, fun, and moving film. This is so far the best animated film of the year. So far, the film has grossed US$ 870 million worldwide and I hope it will go over t-billion dollar milestone.

Recently, I have been actively following the development of Sammi Cheng’s Follow Mi concert tour in Hong Kong (if you do not know her; she is a famous Hong Kong singer and is regarded as a Cantopop queen). Although I am not in Hong Kong personally to watch her show (she held 13 shows at Hong Kong Coliseum which ended last night), but I do watch a lot of her performances recorded by some kind audiences and uploaded to Youtube recently. She tried on some new directions in this concert (her 10th concert tour at Hong Kong Coliseum and she had also break past her 100th show at that venue) and I love it. Some of the guest artists that she had invited in her 13 shows are Kelly Chen, Sally Yip, Kay Tse, Candy Lo, Karen Mok, Louis Koo, Joyce Cheng, Jackson Wang, Gigi Leung, Amanda Lee, Coco Lee, etc). Her new song (We Grew Up The Same Way) is particularly meaningful and beautiful and I love it so much that I kept repeating the song from day to night whenever I’m listening to music nowadays.

Too bad that I’m not in Hong Kong to watch her show (it’s super hard to buy her concert ticket) and it also looks like it’s not the good timing for tourists to visit Hong Kong now due to the never ending protests that happened currently (Hong Kongers protesting against the extradition bill and the interference of mainland China on Hong Kong’s own different governing policies). Anway, I do hope that she will come to perform at Malaysia or Singapore very soon and I will not certainly miss it. She’s my no.1 favourite singer to listen to.

Alright, that’s it for my last post of the month (most probably). Can’t wait for this long month to end and can’t wait for the holidays in August (National Day and Hari Raya Haji for a long weekend break).

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

Less than one year to go to Tokyo 2020!


The first Olympic Games that I have watched was Athens 2004 when I was only 13 years old. From then, I am impressed by the sheer beauty of its opening and closing ceremonies, huge variety of sports contested, large number of participating athletes from all across the world, and the loud cheers from enthusiastic audiences.

Beijing 2008 stunned us all with unforgettable and magnificent opening and closing ceremonies, topped with stunning architecture in its Olympic venues (particularly the famous ‘Bird Nest’ stadium). London 2012 also fascinated us all with its fantastic green initiatives in the games and I even did a research report about it in my Master study. The latest edition of the games was Rio 2016. That’s the games that didn’t leave any impression due to its pretty average ceremonies and venues (the venues had now fallen into state of disrepair) and its multiple controversies.

Now, I’m looking forward to the next games which is now just a year away; Tokyo 2020. I have high expectation to this games as I believe Japan can deliver and put us all in awe with its advanced innovation and ideas. It will be the 5th Olympic Games (or to be exact, the 5th Summer Olympic Games) that I will be paying my attention to (I never bother to watch the Winter Olympic Games).

With the clock now ticking, Tokyo has already made immense progress on its preparation to this games. It will be their second time hosting the games (also the first Asian country to host it twice). The exterior of the main National Stadium looks completed as seen from the recently released photographs. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the latticed timber stadium will have a maximum seating capacity of 80 000 people and is set to be completed end of this year.

Recently, the Tokyo 2020 medal design has also been unveiled to the public’s excitement. Why? It is because that all the medals are manufactured from recycled smartphones and small electronic devices that were donated by the public between April 2017 and March 2019. Talking about green inititative here again…Altogether, these yielded 32kg of gold, 3500kg of silver and 2200kg of bronze. Ohh! I didn’t know that our common electronic devices have gold in them?!

I am also looking forward to our Malaysian athletes’ performance in this games. Our best bet, Lee Chong Wei will be no longer playing but I do still hope that we can finally win our country’s very first Olympic gold either from other badminton players (but our national badminton team isn’t doing well now unfortunately) or even from other sports.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

 

 

3 movies to join the 1 billion dollar club simultaneously, and they are ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’.


We certainly saw a lot of movies that smashed the box office this year. Just last week, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ defeated ‘Avatar’ to become the world’s highest grossing film of all-time at US$2.79 billion. At this stage, it looks like ‘Endgame’ will ends its run possibly breaking through the unprecedented US$2.8 billion mark. We will see.

Then, before this weekend arrives, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ becomes the 40th movie to cross the prestigious 1 billion dollar milestone. It is the first ever Spiderman film to accomplish that feat (after multiple attempts by different studios in the past). It has so far accumulated approximately US$ 1.005 billion. As of now, the three films this year that had passed the milestone are ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’. Yup, they are all Marvel movies. 2019 is proven to be a big year for Marvel (this year marked the end of the three phases of MCU films that spanned 10 years and over 20 films) and people from all around the world aren’t tired yet of superhero movies.

The next film to join the 1-billion dollar club is ‘Aladdin’. This live-action remake of the animated classic is going to achieve that before the weekend arrives too Currently, the film has gained US$ 999 million and it’s only less than a million dollar away.  By the way, I do like the original animated film but I have yet to see this live action remake.

The next film that is a sure thing to also join the 1-billion dollar club is ‘The Lion King’. It is also a remake (remake of the original computer animated film to the current photorealistic animated film). The movie has only been out in theatres for about a week and it has already made over US$710 million. That’s certainly impressive and with huge box office return coming in every day, this film will get past the 1-billion mark pretty quick (most probably by next weekend).

Yup, three 2019 films get past US$1 billion simultaneously. This impressive feat makes people wonder now whether is it too easy now for movies to cross the 1-billion milestone. It’s is definitely not as hard as before due to increasing movie ticket prices and much bigger market from foreign countries (especially China).

On the other hand, it looks very likely that there will be at least 7 films released this year that will be 1-billion grosser. They are ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Captain Marvel’, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘The Lion King’ and the upcoming ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’. There has never been a year with this many films that would gross over 1 billion dollar. ‘Frozen 2’ will be the only animated film this year that will do that although I still hope that the currently airing ‘Toy Story 4’ can accomplish that as well to push the number to 8. The film has been in cinemas for quite some time now and has currently accumulated over US$ 870 million. It needs another US$ 130 million. That is still possible only if the movie stay as leggy as it can. By the way, I still haven’t watch it too.

That’s it for my update to the blog on this lovely Friday evening. Have a great weekend!

(Images in this post are from various online sources)