Archive for February, 2014

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games concluded.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by vincentloy

After over two weeks of showcasing the best on winter sports among the athletes from across the world, the 22nd Winter Olympic Games, Sochi 2014 ended yesterday with a spectacular closing ceremony. The host nation, Russia topped the medal table as expected with 13 golds, 11 silvers and 9 bronzes for a total of 33 medals. Norway came in second with 11 golds, 5 silvers and 10 bronzes while Canada is third with 10 golds, 10 silvers and 5 bronzes.

The opening ceremony on 7th February was troubled with a serious technical malfunction when one of the five Olympic rings failed to open in a performance’s segment. Well. That’s a big FAIL to the iconic Olympic rings display which is in tradition of every ceremonies of Olympic Games history. Other embarrassing incidents surfaced one after another during the games which had almost made the host nation of the world’s most expensive Olympic Games in history a major laughing stock.

But the hosts hit back in fine style at yesterday’s closing ceremony, with hundreds of dancers choreographed to form the Olympic rings – with the fifth and final ring failing to open AGAIN, as it had two weeks ago – only this time the malfunction was entirely planned. I’m quite surprised that they did this on purpose this time and I actually like it. The organizers showed a welcome willingness to put in a bit of humour based on a major glitch they had about two weeks ago to purely entertain the audiences this time. Interesting!

Performers form the Olympic rings during a show at the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony

APTOPIX Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony

Well, the games officially ended. Before the games, no one knows Sochi. Where is it? It is not even a capital or a major city of Russia. It was just a small resort town. But now after the games, it can call itself proud for having successfully hosted Winter Olympic Games before, one of the biggest sporting events in the world. The high spirit of sports over there hasn’t end yet as Sochi will be hosting the Winter Paralympic Games too, from 7 to 16 March 2014. After that, we will be looking forward to the next edition of Winter Olympic Games; Pyeongchang 2018 at South Korea.

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Closing Ceremony

(Information and images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Movie review: Ender’s Game (2013)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by vincentloy

I guess Ender’s Game would be one of the last 2013’s films that I would watch. Nothing else from 2013 that has anymore of my attention, and focus should be back on this year’s movies. Hence, this movie review may be the last to end my thoughts on films released last year. Based on a novel of the same name, Ender’s Game is a science fiction action thriller film that stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military academy in outer space to prepare for a future alien invasion.

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The story is strong and is cleverly developed with a solid and engaging plot. Before I started watching this, I had a worry that there may be quite a lot of boring and draggy scenes that could get me asleep in the middle. In the end, I was relieved. This movie had my eyes on it from the beginning till the end. I even wish for this to be a bit longer. I was quite concerned to follow on the story development and to see how Wiggin experiences and excels one step further at a time in the battle station at the outer space in preparation for the Formics invasion.

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Asa Butterfield is the main lead of the show. I previously seen him as lead in the ‘Hugo’ film and I was quite impressed. Same goes to his amazing performance here. If he fails, the whole movie will fails since most of the screen-time is on him. He is very young, but is already capable of carrying such heavy role as seen here very well. Superb work from him, and also from Harrison Ford as the colonel in the movie. On the other hand, I don’t like Ben Kingsley, and his role here is somehow made slightly pointless.

The visual effects are great. This is important to present to the audiences sci-fi thrills and this movie did it. But I was actually hoping for more detailed views of how the Formics (the alien species) live and how their colony and their planet works. On the other hand, I find that the superb advanced technology used by the battle station is confusing and illogical particularly the transparent (or perhaps totally invisible?) screen the people used to control. And in the ending, they managed to easily destroy a whole planet by just a beam of shot. Climax there ends terribly. Slight disappointment there.

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Generally, the movie is quite engaging and worth watching, thanks to the solid plot and also engaging performance by Asa Butterfield. He is surely a young talent to watch out for. He in this movie is like the opposite of Jaden Smith in ‘After Earth’, whom is critically panned particularly on his performance. I’m happy that Asa did things right here in ‘Ender’s Game’ and obviously brought up the movie to a thumbs up from me. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Ender’s Game’ a total of 7.2.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Movie review: From Vegas to Macau (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by vincentloy

‘From Vegas to Macau’ is one of the 2014’s Chinese New Year films from Hong Kong. It is a crime comedy film and is the fourth instalment of the famous ‘God of Gamblers’ series. However, the story is totally different and has no link to the previous films in the franchise that were highly popular back in 1980s and 1990s. This film starred Chow Yun Fat, Nicholas Tse, Chapman To, Benz Hui, Philip Ng, Sammy Sum, etc.

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I went in for this movie in hope to see a purely funny and light-hearted comedy movie since this is directed by Wong Jing, a famous Hong Kong director known for putting his nonsense humours into his film. In the end, the movie turned out not hilarious at all, and that was a serious disappointment I had after watching it. The story is so much darker with quite plenty of violence, and the worst thing is that gambling, which is supposed to be the main highlight or theme of this film had been put aside with very little emphasis. More attention is now on catching a boss of a criminal syndicate.

Honestly, I never thought the plot deviates so much from its original course. I was hoping for more actions on the gamble table but in the end, offered with plenty of fights, shootings, and undercover mission. And the extremely loud sound that come with those action scenes are unbearable. This looks more like an action thriller than a comedy film to me. What do you think?

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It’s good to see Chow Yun Fat in big screen. He is a legendary actor and I have long not seeing him in movies. As expected, he contributed a good performance to his role. Wait for the post-credit scene as you will see another copy of himself appearing, this time as the God of Gambler we famously recognized in the last few seconds. As for Nicholas Tse, I find that he isn’t interested to participate in this film. Lack of emotions and energy in acting. While on the other hand, Chapman To overdo on his actions and that’s a bit annoying.

Out of 10 points, I rate ‘From Vegas to Macau’ a total of 6.1. I was not thoroughly engaged and this Chinese New Year film failed to gives a good laugh or two unlike the others.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Architectural insight: Incheon Asiad Main Stadium

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2014 by vincentloy

One of this year’s biggest sporting events would be the Asian Games 2014. Incheon would be hosting this 17th edition of the games, hence becoming the third South Korean city to host the games (previously Seoul in 1986 and Busan in 2002). It would be held from 19th September to 4th October 2014. A bit of calculation here reveals that we are only seven months away from the opening of the games. Media would usually paid more attention to the main stadium, which will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies to be watched millions of people worldwide. It’s the new Incheon Asiad Main Stadium.

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It is designed by Populous (which previously also designed the London 2012’s Olympic Stadium and the recent on-going Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics’s Fisht National Stadium) and will have 60 000 seating capacity. After the games, it will be reduced to single-sided grandstand of 30 000 seats. Well, this is the trend nowadays to reduce large stadium to smaller size to avoid ‘white elephant’ issue and for sustainability. The whole area will also be transformed to people’s park for the city. The stadium is now reaching its final stages of construction and is expected to be finished by April. Well, the design looks quite great, and I can say it’s even better than the London’s Olympic Stadium. Here below is an excerpt from an article: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/populous-to-design-main-stadium-for-2014-incheon-asian-games/ that explains the design concept behind this marvelous sporting venue:

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“The stadium design is based on an asymmetrical configuration with the main corporate
and management facilities located on the permanent western side, creating a more efficient design,
both in terms of construction and operations. The eastern side will be a lighter solution,
the temporary modular seating structure will disappear after the games, and the stadium
reduce down to the single sided grandstand. The building will link into the surrounding parklands;
integrate into the landscape, provide an open accessible gathering place for the people of Incheon.
The roof of the temporary stand becomes the canopy roof of a new post games retail component,
containing shopping mall and supermarket and multiplex cinema chain. The shell that housed
the broadcast component, pre game function spaces and site management of the temporary event
is replaced with vibrant commercial space afterwards, creating a seven day a week attraction
for the local community
,” said Andrew James, Senior Principal at Populous.

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Symbolism is very important in Korean culture with music and dance being part of everyday life. 
The traditional Buddhist ritual dance, the Sung Moo Monk dance provides the image which will be 
reflected perfectly into the architectural drama of the stadium through flowing forms, 
sweeping lines creating movement. The representation of yin and yang is also present through 
the complementary opposites of the masterplan – permanent and temporary sites.

“Although the western stand is permanent; the main façade will be designed to be lightweight
and flowing like the monk’s robes composed of an undulating, translucent material,
a lightweight metal or fabric mesh, an articulated skin, reflecting the sun and the movement
of the sky. The organic form of the metal and fabric roof will appear to float above the stadium,
merging with the landscape at one end, the plaza at the other. The movement and form will be
repeated in the material of the temporary roof on the eastern stand, creating a unified image,
reinforcing the dynamic movement of the dancer,
” says Daekwon Par, Populous Project Designer.

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Image above shows a graphic interpretation of the traditional Buddhist Sung Moo dance which the stadium’s form is based on.

Here below are some latest construction images of the stadium:

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The stadium’s impressive design will certainly becomes the spotlight of the Incheon 2014 Asian Games.

(Information and images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Malaysia’s first dinosaur fossil discovery!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2014 by vincentloy

I was quite surprised by this news today. For so many years, we couldn’t discover any dinosaur fossil in Malaysia, and hence there has been early conclusion that this extinct species has not been on this land before. But that statement has to be taken out from now on. Yesterday, the discovery of Malaysia’s first dinosaur fossil is unveiled to the media by two professors from Malaya University and Waseda University respectively.

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Out of several bone fragments excavated at site in the interior of Pahang, a tooth about 23mm long and 10mm wide was the best preserved fossil. It is then identified as belonging to spinosaurid dinosaur. This group were known as carnivorous, fish-eating dinosaurs and were believed to be “semi-aquatic”; live half on river and half on land. If you still have no idea of what this dinosaur looks like, then try to recall back a scene from ‘Jurassic Park III’ film when a T-Rex lost to another giant dinosaur in battle. That giant dinosaur is spinosaurus, a large predator with elongated, crocodile-like skulls and conical teeth. The discovered tooth is believed to be of this particular species which may even grows larger than T-Rex.

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The fossil remains were actually discovered in August last year during field expeditions and a search for dinosaur deposits in Malaysia, which began in September 2012. Currently, the exact location of the excavation will not be revealed first till proper closing off and preservation measures are done to prevent damage to the site. It is now of course treated as the new addition to the priceless treasures of Malaysia. So, we are now looking forward to more great discovery of maybe even other dinosaur species too that had once lived on this land. Researchers said it is expected that large deposits of dinosaur fossils still remain in Malaysia. Cool.

The first fossil is always the hardest to find but, once it has been found, many others are likely to follow. Hope so. I have just returned from Yunnan, China and one of the destinations I visited there is the Dinosaur Valley. I was so excited and in awe looking at the dinosaur fossils exhibits in the museum there. Very interesting. Maybe in few more years, we could have our own national dinosaur museum here in Pahang, Malaysia too. Eventhough it is now just a very small tooth discovered, but it served as a ground-breaking discovery and the start for many others to come.

(Information and images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Full result of 67th BAFTA Film Awards 2014.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by vincentloy

The awards ceremony of the much anticipated 67th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) took place yesterday on 16th February 2014 at Royal Opera House, London. Stephen Fry was the host of the ceremony. The awards, honouring the best of local and foreign films of 2013 is always regarded as a precursor to the upcoming much prestigious Academy Awards or famously known as Oscars. Hereby (below) is the full list of the result:

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Best Film
“12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“Philomena”

Comment: Very much predicted. Out of the five, I have watched ‘Captain Phillips’ and ‘Gravity’ fully, and ’12 Years A Slave’ partially. ’12 Years A Slave’ will win best picture with not much competition in Oscars too.

Outstanding British Film
“Gravity” – WINNER
“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”
“Philomena”
“Rush”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“The Selfish Giant”

Comment: Expected. This brilliant and innovative science-fiction thriller has to be honoured.

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Kieran Evans (Director/Writer) – “Kelly + Victor” – WINNER
Colin Carberry (Writer), Glenn Patterson (Writer) – “Good Vibrations”
Kelly Marcel (Writer) – “Saving Mr. Banks”
Paul Wright (Director/Writer), Polly Stokes (Producer) – “For Those in Peril”
Scott Graham (Director/Writer) – “Shell”

Film Not in the English Language
“The Great Beauty” – WINNER
“The Act of Killing”
“Blue Is The Warmest Colour”
“Metro Manila”
“Wadjda”

Documentary
“The Act of Killing” – WINNER
“The Armstrong Lie”
“Blackfish”
“Tim’s Vermeer”
“We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks”

Animated Film
“Frozen” – WINNER
“Despicable Me 2”
“Monsters University”

Comment: Yup. Out of these three, ‘Frozen’ easily stood out. The other two nominees are just average.

Director
Alfonso Cuaron – “Gravity” – WINNER
Steve McQueen – “12 Years a Slave”
David O. Russell – “American Hustle”
Paul Greengrass – “Captain Phillips”
Martin Scorsese – “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Comment: Brilliant directing work by Alfonso in ‘Gravity’. Very deserving to win.

Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell – “American Hustle” – WINNER
Woody Allen – “Blue Jasmine”
Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron – “Gravity”
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Bob Nelson – “Nebraska”

Adapted Screenplay
Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope – “Philomena” – WINNER
John Ridley – “12 Years a Slave”
Richard LaGravenese – “Behind The Candelabra”
Billy Ray – “Captain Phillips”
Terence Winter – “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Leading Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor – “12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
Bruce Dern – “Nebraska”
Christian Bale – “American Hustle”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips”

Comment: I actually preferred Leonardo diCaprio. In upcoming Oscars, it will be intense battle between Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). I think the latter’s film couldn’t be nominated this year as it is not released in Britain yet. But it seems like the latter is the current Oscars’ favourite.

Leading Actress
Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine” – WINNER
Amy Adams – “American Hustle”
Emma Thompson – “Saving Mr. Banks”
Judi Dench – “Philomena”
Sandra Bullock – “Gravity”

Comment: Another predicted outcome. She will face no or very little competition in Oscars this year too. All the nominees here had won Oscars before, so everything is fair.

Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi – “Captain Phillips” – WINNER
Bradley Cooper – “American Hustle”
Daniel Bruhl – “Rush”
Matt Damon – “Behind The Candelabra”
Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave”

Comment: Quite a surprising win. But I do feel glad too for Barkhad Abdi. First cinematic debut and he won best supporting actor. Wonderful! He is the captain now!

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence – “American Hustle” – WINNER
Julia Roberts – “August: Osage County”
Lupita Nyong’o – “12 Years a Slave”
Oprah Winfrey – “The Butler”
Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine”

Comment: Another expected result. Predicted to win in Oscars too. 

Original Music
“Gravity” – Steven Price – WINNER
“12 Years a Slave” – Hans Zimmer
“The Book Thief” – John Williams
“Captain Phillips” – Henry Jackman
“Saving Mr. Banks” – Thomas Newman

Comment: Happy for ‘Gravity’ to win. The music in this movie gave me goosebumps and successfully brought up the excitement and intensity of the film. 

Cinematography
“Gravity” – Emmanuel Lubezki – WINNER
“12 Years a Slave” – Sean Bobbitt
“Captain Phillips” – Barry Ackroyd
“Inside Llewyn Davis” – Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska” – Phedon Papamichael

Comment: Expected also. Great cinematography in ‘Gravity’. Effort paid off.

Editing
“Rush” – Dan Hanley, Mike Hill – WINNER
“12 Years a Slave” – Joe Walker
“Captain Phillips” – Christopher Rouse
“Gravity” – Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Thelma Schoonmaker

Production Design
“The Great Gatsby” – Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn – WINNER
“12 years a Slave” – Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker
“American Hustle” – Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
“Behind The Candelabra” – Howard Cummings
“Gravity” – Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woodlard

Costume Design
“The Great Gatsby” – Catherine Martin – WINNER
“American Hustle” – Michael Wilkinson
“Behind The Candelabra” – Ellen Mirojnick
“The Invisible Woman” – Michael O’Connor
“Saving Mr. Banks” – Daniel Orlandi

Make Up & Hair
“American Hustle” – Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-Bell – WINNER
“Behind The Candelabra” – Kate Biscoe, Marie Larkin
“The Butler” – Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace Neal
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” – Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater

Sound
“Gravity” – Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris Munro – WINNER
“All Is Lot” – Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian Arthur
“Captain Phillips” – Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver Tarney
“Inside Llewyn Davis” – Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff
“Rush” – Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse

Comment: Expected result too. ‘Gravity’ will win many technical awards too since it succeeds beyond anything that words can explain. 

Special Visual Effects
“Gravity” – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki Penny – WINNER
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” – Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan Sudick
“Pacific Rim” – Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel Sumner
“Star Trek Into Darkness” – Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett

British Short Animation
“Sleeping With The Fishes” – James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa – WINNER
“Everything I Can See From Here” – Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam Taylor
“I Am Tom Moody” – Ainslie Henderson

British Short Film
“Room 8” – James W. Griffiths, Sophie Venner “Sea View” — Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot – WINNER
“Island Queen” – Ben Mallaby, Nat Luurtsema
“Keeping Up With The Joneses” – Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina Lim
“Orbit Ever After” – Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len Rowles
“Sea View” – Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot

The EE Rising Star Award (voted by the public)
Will Poulter – WINNER
Dane Dehaan
George Mackay
Lupita Nyong’o
Lea Seydoux

Oustanding British Contribution To Cinema 2014
Peter Greenaway

Fellowship Award 2014
Dame Helen Mirren

Comment: I do like Helen Mirren. She is a great actress. It’s good to know that she is honoured with this award (popularly known as Lifetime Achievement Award) that recognizes her outstanding contribution to British cinema. 

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‘Gravity’ won 6 awards, becoming the biggest winner of the night, while ’12 Years A Slave’ is crowned Best Picture overall.  Congratulations to all the winners! What do you think of the result of this year’s BAFTA Film Awards? For me, it’s great and not much surprising. Most outcomes are predicted. The deserving wins. Now, let’s wait for the 86th Academy Awards (Oscars) which will take place on 2nd March 2014.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

‘Outbound Love’, a Hong Kong series shot mostly in Malaysia.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by vincentloy

‘Outbound Love’ is a 2014 TVB romantic comedy series of 22 episodes that starred Ruco Chan, Aimee Chan, Samantha Ko, Benz Hui, Mary Hon, Vivien Yeo, Tony Hung, Lin Xiawei, etc. What is the main reason that had me interested to watch this from the very beginning? The answer lies at this post’s title itself already. Principal filming of this series took place in two countries; Hong Kong of course, and the other one is Malaysia. Yes. That’s my country.

Overall, this series is very light-hearted. It all started when a travel agency employee, Law Sik Sik (Aimee) travels to Malaysia for work and encountered a playful tour guide, Luk Kung Zi (Ruco). She had a lot of misunderstanding and is always annoyed by his character until finally, she realized the good nature of this man. Then, love sparks as expected, and yup, another happy ending for a typical TVB drama.

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I will not write a long review of this series. I will just list down what are the pros and cons of this series in point form. Quick and straightforward to keep this short.

Pros:

1) Refreshing location of shooting. It’s nice to see new background for drama scenes. And Malaysia do offers great stuff as shown in this drama (mural paintings in Penang, KLCC, Pavilion KL, Batu Caves, durians as king of fruits, beach, Penang’s heritage town, etc) of which some elements are essential or linked to the story’s development. And sorry for those annoying BN flags everywhere as the time of this series’ shooting nears our country’s general election.

2) Ruco Chan as lead. He is known to portray strong acting skill, and he as the main lead here had no problem on carrying the series, or even helped to enhance the series. A very interesting character for him to take on, and he did it exceptionally well.

3) Many new faces in this series which can be good or bad. Luckily, the newbies managed to work on their character well too.

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Cons:

1) Lack of attention to details, particularly sense of geography. In a moment, the characters are at Penang, then the next scene shows that they are in KL. Distance between these two places are over 300 km. Also please be reminded that Malaysian Chinese seldom speak Malay among themselves. We will speak Chinese; Mandarin, Cantonese, or own Chinese dialects, or English, and last option would only be Malay Language).

2) There isn’t exactly any much drama going on throughout the series. No intensity. The storyline isn’t engaging. Quite boring at certain point.

3) Aimee Chan’s character. I know in the series that she had to get annoyed by Ruco’s character most of the time. However, her way of overdoing it, turns out makes me annoyed of her in the end. Her acting is still not solid or convincing enough as first female lead.

3 pros and 3 cons. Hence, I can only say that this series was just average. Not poor but also not great. Worth watching to spend your time every weekdays after work. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Outbound Love’ a total of 6.5. A relaxing drama that disappointingly comes with not much drama. Luckily, the ending didn’t turns out bad and looks good, but things are a bit rushed to conclude the story as seen in the final episode.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)