Archive for July, 2014

Movies’ box office analysis this year up to July 2014

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2014 by vincentloy

‘Frozen’ was last year’s highest grossing film, and is currently fifth highest grossing film of all time and also the highest grossing animated film ever, defeating ‘Toy Story 3’. Its box office intake of over US$ 1.2 billion was a huge surprise to me. At first, I never thought that this animated film would become such a hit. That was last year’s story. Now, I will let you have a guess of which film this year so far has the potential to climb to the top of the ladder on the box office table and stays on its solid No.1 position till the end of the year? I believed many would have guessed this right…it’s easy. The answer is…

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‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. This latest fourth installment of the popular ‘Transformers’ movie franchise has now grossed over 966 million after just a month of being released. In just a month, this movie is nearing US$ 1 billion milestone already. Incredible achievement. Despite receiving poorer reviews from critics compared to the previous films, but this one never slows down on its box office intake. It has now easily overwhelmed the other films released this year. By the end of its theatrical release, my prediction is that this film will cross over US$ 1.2 billion, a figure slightly higher than its predecessor, ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ which took in US$ 1.12 billion back in 2011.

I also has no doubt that this film will be the highest grossing film of the year. Other potential film to be released on the second half of the year that could pose a bit of a danger to this (but it’s quite unlikely) is the final chapter of ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’. This one is expected to gain over US$ 1 billion in box office too.

Up till now, the ten highest grossing films of the year are:

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – US$ 967 million (Expected to cross over US$ 1.2 billion in final grossing)

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – US$ 739 million (Expected to cross over US$ 750 million in final grossing)

3. Maleficent – US$ 715 million (Expected to cross over US$ 730 million in final grossing)

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – US$ 713 million.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – US$ 706 million.

6. Godzilla – US$ 498 million (Expected to cross over US$ 510 million in final grossing)

7. Rio 2 – US$ 490 million (Expected to cross over US$ 500 million in final grossing)

8. The Lego Movie – US$ 467 million.

9. How To Train Your Dragon 2 – US$ 424 million (Expected to cross over US$ 440 million in final grossing)

10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – US$ 364 million (Just released. Expected to cross over US$ 500 million in final grossing)

Interesting facts from the above list which will change from time to time:

– 5 films this year grossed over US$ 700 million respectively. This is a very good result for box office this year.

– Out of the top 5 highest grossing films of the year so far, three are superhero movies.

– Animated films also performed fairly good this year, but still lacks behind those superhero movies. Three are on the list as of current.

– One surprising entry to this list is ‘Maleficent’. Many predicted it would ends with perhaps US$ 500 million in grossing only. But now, it is slowly climbing up and sits in the top three with over US$ 700 million figure, thanks to the Disney’s regaining popularity in recent years and also the overwhelming star power of the main lead of the film, Angelina Jolie.

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– Other potential films to be released by the second half of the year which will climb to this top 10 position are ‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ (95% probability), ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1’ (95% probability), ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ (70% probability), and ‘Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb’ (55% probability).

– It’s very likely that all ten highest grossing films of the year will have a box office intake of at least US$ 500 million respectively by end of each film’s theatrical run.

That’s my box office analysis so far. I have watched all the ten movies in that list. Cool…This year is cool with many great movies!

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

4 days 3 nights trip to Bali.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2014 by vincentloy

I have just returned home yesterday from a short four days three nights trip to Bali, Indonesia with my family. Time for relaxing and vacationing went off so quick that I certainly felt not enough. Luckily, I had two more extra days on holiday before getting back to work this Friday. In the trip, we stayed at the Harris Hotel Sunset Road. Nice comfortable room. The tour cost per person is RM2000+. As usual, I took quite a number of photographs from the trip, and will definitely share some beautiful shots here. Overall, it’s quite a nice enjoyable short trip!

26th July 2014 (Saturday)

First time going to the newly opened KLIA2, world’s largest purposely-built low-cost carrier terminal. It’s very spacious, luxurious and finally it looked like a modern airport compared to the former LCCT. But at certain point, now it looks more like a shopping mall to me as there are a lot of retail spaces inside.

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Reached Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) after three hours of AirAsia flight. First destination: Uluwatu Temple. Here, any shot of the cliff would be spectacular. Interesting part of this place is the monkeys; tourists tend to get their attention, and try to guess what’s their response? They can take off small belongings from you so quick that you didn’t notice. One of the monkeys even snatched a sunglasses, climbed up quick to a tree and tried to wear it but couldn’t since it’s big for them.

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Then, we went for a seafood dinner at Jimbaran Bay, a perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunset and also the frequent sightings of airplanes landing since the place is near to the airport. A very wonderful atmosphere as you can dine on the beach with such a picturesque setting.

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27th July 2014 (Sunday)

Today’s tours were mostly on visiting those handicraft or product centres. First was the coffee station, where we were introduced on some information regarding coffee beans and also their famous Luwak coffee. Then, visit to the batik shop, and then to a centre selling silver and gold works. Also went to a shop selling wood carving and handicraft products, and then to a premium outlet selling the famous ‘Polo by Ralph Lauren’ apparel brand. Not interested in all these but forced to spend several hours for those was quite boring. Then, watched a cultural Barong performance and we were all bored and left the place earlier.

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In the afternoon, we went to the Kintamani Batur Lake and Volcano. Along the journey past Ubud, we saw the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. We are at over thousand metres above sea level now, and so the place is cold and windy. This is the first time I’m seeing an active volcanic mountain. There is a huge caldera lake besides the mountain.

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Last tour of the day was the Tampak Siring Temple (Holy Spring Water Temple). The place is best known for the mythical water emerging out from the land of which the locals treat it as holy water. Hence, now, the place is a tourist attraction and many went there to shower with the water. Didn’t do that but at least I rinsed my face and I felt a bit refreshed.

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28th July 2014 (Monday)

Today we went for a boat ride to the Turtle Island Farm. On the boat, we fed the fishes with bread and we got to see them through the glass at the floor of the boat. Interesting colourful small little fishes. At the turtle farms, we got to take pictures with turtles (of course), eagles, bats, hornbills, snakes, etc. But that’s a very small place and the excitement ended quick. Back to the beach, and we felt jealous seeing the others playing the water sports while we couldn’t.

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Then, we went to the iconic Beratan Temple. A lake within mountains, and a temple within the lake. A beautiful and cold environment there. The temple is also featured at the back of Indonesian note of 50 000 rupiah.

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Then, we went to Taman Ayun Temple. A small temple with a lot of pagodas and surrounded by river. Took a group photo here along with all my other tour members.

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Lastly, we visited the must-see place in Bali; Tanah Lot. A temple perched on a rocky outcrop in the sea. During low tide, the temple is accessible and joined to the land. During high tide, the temple appears to sit on an island away from the land. At the time we went there, it’s low tide. We also managed to get there before the sunset. There were a lot of tourists there.

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29th July 2014 (Tuesday)

Today we went to a shop selling the famous kek lapis (layered cake) but we didn’t buy any since we find nothing special of it and Malaysia do have it too. Then, we purchased some souvenirs from the huge ‘oleh-oleh’ (souvenir) centre before going to Kuta Beach. Reached the beach and stayed there for a while under the hot sun while watching people surfing, swimming, building sand castles, sun bathing, picnicking, etc. Then, we walked to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe and to Beachwalk, a popular indoor-outdoor shopping centre that turned out to be the latest modern attraction in Bali.

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And finally, time to go to airport and board the flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

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Hate it when the flight is delayed for over an hour and so, we reached KL very late at night. The stress of walking for almost 30 minutes from the arrival gate to the baggage claim area is already burdening, and then we were told there is no more taxi service provided since many were still on Raya holiday. No taxi service for such a huge airport. Crazy…So, no choice…had to take KLIA transit to Bandar Tasik Selatan and then my sister brought us home. What an end to the trip.

(Images in this post are copyright reserved)

 

 

Astro Star Quest 2014 Final.

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2014 by vincentloy

Few days ago before the Raya holiday, on the day before my vacation to Bali, I attended the final competition of Astro Star Quest 2014, an annual local Chinese singing competition for the young adults aged between 18-24. It has been a long time since I last watched this competition live. It’s good to see it live again, as we were able to redeem tickets through my dad’s Astro points.

The Final was supposed to be held on 19th July 2014 (Saturday) but was later postponed to 25th July 2014 (Friday) due to the unforeseen tragic MH17 disaster that occurred only two days before the originally scheduled date. As a further mark of respect to the 298 victims of the tragedy, all the audiences and stage crews observed a minute of silence to pay tribute before the competition commenced at the Outdoor Car Park B of Bukit Jalil National Stadium at 8.30pm. The five finalists this year are Elaine, Ron, Yuii, Sean and Uriah. Three boys two girls. I had been following closely to this year’s competition and I saw high potential for the boys to perform better this year. And I was right.

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In the first stage, each contestants had to perform a song of their favourite. Here, Elaine, Ron and Yuii didn’t deliver to their best form. They were the first three to sing. Then, the hot favourite to win, Sean stood out and stunned the audiences with his fantastic voice and delivered an outstanding performance, hence taking in the highest score in the first round, followed by Uriah.

Then, came the second round of which they had to perform fast-paced songs. This should be challenging to Sean as he only known to have mastered slow songs and had never attempted fast songs in all the previous preliminary rounds and semi-finals. Fortunately, he managed to pull it off. But no doubt the best performance in this stage belongs to Uriah whom amazed the audiences with great dance moves and the violin play in the end was overwhelming. Yuii also improved in this stage while on the other hand, I don’t get what Elaine is performing in this round. Poor Ron…he selected Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ but delivered the song with total lack of power. That’s bad.

As expected, Ron took the fifth place sadly, but I admired his attitude when he said that he didn’t lost, as he had won at least the fifth placing. Yuii came out in fourth place. At this point, the top three were Sean, Uriah and Elaine. In the third round, they had to sing a song that can moves everyone particularly the judges of course. Hence, choosing slow sad songs is the right tactic here. I was surprised that Sean started to show decreasing voice, revealing his poor stamina/health. This is not good for him but luckily he still successfully proceed to the final (fourth) round with Uriah whom was rapidly improving as the competition is nearing its end. As predicted, Elaine is made the second runner-up as her score was quite far from the top two.

Two boys battle for the championship. They had to perform Pharell William’s ‘Happy’ in their own way. I have to say Uriah’s approach is better and more powerful and it is also an advantage to him since he is very good in English and that Sean isn’t in his good health condition (looks very tired) in the later part of the final. And so, Uriah is crowned the champion while Sean is the first runner-up. Sean also won the Most Favourite Finalist. A bit pity to Sean as he clearly has a much beautiful voice and outperformed the rest by delivering songs with depth and emotion that ultimately touched everyone. Nevertheless, Uriah is a multi-talented young star and he was like a full package as he is also capable in multiple musical instruments (piano, violin, etc) and that he can perform with energy and passion. Congratulation to him and also to the other four that had came so far to reach to the final.
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I was in the VIP seating (below VVIP). Quite a strategic place; not that far from the stage and I was only few metres away from the judges (the nearest being the Malaysian singer, Z Chen). But it was quite hot having to sit through the night there for over 3 hours. As reminded by the emcee, a good thing of watching an event live is that you would be able to see things that are not aired on TV. That’s right…The competition was over and there may be bright future particularly for Uriah and Sean in music industry. Now, have to wait another year for the next, Astro Star Quest 2015.

 

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by vincentloy

Fireworks heard everywhere in my neighbourhood from days or even weeks before the Hari Raya celebration. It may be disturbing when some fireworks were set off on the late-night hours when most have already been sleeping, but it’s okay since their major festival is approaching and that it is normal to play fireworks to build up the festive mood. But isn’t fireworks are illegal in Malaysia? People still can buy it and play. Who cares….! If no fireworks, things would be too quite, and there wouldn’t be Raya atmosphere around.

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The time has come. The Ramadhan month is over and the Muslims have successfully finished their fasting over this one-month period. I do really admire their faith and wisdom on Islam for being able to not consuming any food or drink in a lengthy period of time everyday for the past month. For me, I think I couldn’t stand the hunger and the thirst, as well as the lack of energy. Fasting is a good practice, and it somehow helps Muslims to save money too (skipping lunch everyday).

Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim friends particularly in Malaysia a very wonderful and joyous Raya celebration! Selamat Menyambut Hari Raya Aidilfitri! Maaf, Zahir dan Batin. By this time, I believed many have already went back to their hometown (sudah balik kampung) safely. Time to gather, chill and celebrate together with your family, relatives, neighbours and friends on this wonderful festival! In the meantime, I’m sure KL would be quite empty except than seeing Chinese or Indians, and mostly foreigners wondering the streets nowadays. I’m currently on a short family vacation at Bali, Indonesia. Will be updating my blog with highlights from my Bali trip once I returned to Malaysia.

On the other hand, for other Malaysians who are not celebrating this festival, a big Happy Holiday greeting to you too! This week offers perfect opportunity for trip (like me), outings or simply rest at home after spending over half of the year working, working and working! Enjoy la….Many must be taking additional leaves up till the end of this week too. So, you would have over a week of break! Awesome!

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Last but not least, I would like to sincerely wish every Malays once again ‘Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!’.

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

 

20th Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 opened!

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

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The 20th Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 commenced with a colourful opening ceremony yesterday held at Celtic Park Stadium in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. Due to the time difference between Scotland and Malaysia (where I am), I couldn’t watch the ceremony live from television as it was midnight over here when the ceremony was held. But nevermind, I got to watch it online today, of which I can skip some parts out from this nearly three-hour show.

Few of the highlights of the ceremony would be:

(a) Each of the participants of the 71 competing nations and territories entered the stadium for the parade and they were led by a Scottish Terrier dog wearing a tartan coat emblazoned with the country’s name. That’s something you would be surprised. I find this cute and interesting.

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(b) A touching moment of silence to pay tribute to the 298 victims in the MH17 flight tragedy that occurred last year. Over 80 of the victims are from Commonwealth nations. This is a very touching move and the visual of over 40 000 people in the stadium standing up in silent for a minute as a sign of respect is an impacting sight to behold. Malaysia’s contingent arrived with the flag flown at half mast and with the front row of people dressed in Malaysia Airlines uniforms. The Commonwealth family had shown tremendous support for my country, Malaysia.

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(c) The giant LED screen (recognized as Europe’s largest LED screen) which stands at the whole of the stadium’s south stand offers overwhelming display of lights and visuals and serves as a lovely backdrop for the center of the stadium where performances were held.

(d) President of Commonwealth Games Federation, Prince Tunku Imran had a brief moment of struggle to open the baton that carries the Queen’s message. He successfully opened it after a while and handed over the note back to Queen Elizabeth II before Her Majesty read out her speech and declaring the Games open.

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(e) First time collaboration between UNICEF with an international sporting organization, and the ceremony will be the platform to achieve bigger result to help the unfortunate kids across the world. Stars like Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy (both are my favourite actors) appeared in the ceremony to encourage people to donate for the needy children across the Commonwealth nations.

(f) Of course the fireworks. Quite a lovely pyrotechnics display from Glasgow at the end of the ceremony.

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Of course the level of this opening ceremony shouldn’t be compared to those organized by Asian cities particularly of China as seen in their recent years’ ceremonies (Beijing 2008, Guangzhou 2010). It’s not about big-scaled performances or massive sequences. It’s about the hospitality, friendliness and dazzling colours that Glasgow delivers to the world through this opening ceremony. Quite similar to London 2012’s ceremonies but is in smaller proportion, since Commonwealth Games is smaller than the Olympic Games. The opening ceremony isn’t bad or great either. It won’t be memorable after some time.

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Also nice to see Susan Boyle again. On the other hand, the violin and music sequence when the Commonwealth Games Federation’s flag is brought in is wonderful too. I love the colourful stage floor too. Ahh..not to forget the amazing flypass by Red Arrows to welcome the Queen to the stadium. Hmm…the performances are too little, and major portion of it only features singing which can be very boring most of the time. That’s a bit more of my reviews or opinions of this opening ceremony.

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Ahead from now are the 10 days of competitions in 17 sports before the closing ceremony which is to be held at Hampden Park Stadium on 3rd August 2014 to close the games and to pass on to the next host, Gold Coast 2018.

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

A lot of countdowns on the way…

Posted in Interesting Encounters on July 23, 2014 by vincentloy

Everyday as soon as I walked into my office in the early morning and sat down by my desk, the first thing I would do would be updating my work diary. For this week, there is one extra thing I’m writing down – number of days to several approaching events or holiday…It’s fun when the days you are waiting for are getting closer and closer…So here goes what I’m counting down for on this week:

1. Hari Raya holiday.

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Five days to go. It’s a major celebration for the Muslims in the country. A major national holiday. Many would be taking extra days of leave next week after the public holiday that falls on Monday and Tuesday. Nice. The long break can commence by this Saturday right away. It’s a perfect opportunity for me to take a break and go somewhere (see below) for holiday. Will only be back to office on Friday next week.

2. Family trip to Bali, Indonesia.

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Three days to go. Like I said earlier, the Raya holiday provides us the chance to forget everything about work and go elsewhere for fun and to relax after half year of work with no lengthy break to enjoy. So, I would be heading to Bali, Indonesia this Saturday and would only be back by next week’s Tuesday. A short four days trip, but I think that’s enough to cover Bali, since it is quite a small island and that I have previously visited Bali early this year too for a company study trip.

3. Astro Star Quest 2014 Final.

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I have been following this local annual Chinese singing competition very closely. We had the tickets to the Final which is supposed to be held last Saturday at Outdoor Car Park besides National Stadium Bukit Jalil but was postponed to this Friday for respect to the tragic MH17 incident which occurred last Thursday. Luckily, the date was changed to this Friday and not Saturday. If not, I won’t be able to attend it since I would be already at Bali. So, two days to go for this Final which is going to be exciting battle between the five finalists.

4. Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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Commonwealth Games, is a quadrennial multi-sport event that involves participants of over 70 Commonwealth nations. It is one of the world’s biggest international sporting events. This 20th edition is to be held at Glasgow, Scotland from 23 July to 3 August this year. That means, it’s happening tonight. The opening ceremony will be up in few hours time. Couldn’t watch it since it’s already midnight over here in Malaysia. I have to sleep. But Malaysians always felt closer or more attached to this Games since we have hosted it once back in 1998.

A lot of countdowns now, right?! Couldn’t wait for these days to come! Everything would be awesome from this Friday onwards till the end of next week.

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

Movie review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2014 by vincentloy

Believe me…my father is more eager to watch this than me. Both me and my dad enjoyed the first one, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes very much and it leaves a lasting impression to my father. My dad do often watched movies, but he usually don’t remember much about that particular movie after a while. This one is the exception. Then, last week, I told my dad that the sequel is out, and yes…he treat me for this movie today. And after the movie, I can certainly said that my dad loves it very much as he had a lot of opinions to share regarding the movie. I loved it too. ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is a fantastic movie! Here’s why;

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First of all, the plot is absolutely engaging. We were shown many down-to-earth moments with the apes as they lived peacefully, strong and united in their kingdom in the woods under Caesar’s leadership several years after what occurred in the predecessor film. On the other hand, there is some sort of a flu pandemic which had infected the whole world (from the first film’s ending) and had killed most of human population. However, there is still a group of people in San Francisco immune to that and are trying to rebuild their city and reconnect to the other parts of the world. So, it is like the apes have their homes, and the humans have their homes too, and both do not interfere each others until a group of people led by Malcolm had to repair a dam near the apes’ kingdom to regenerate power source for humans. Conflict began, and so war erupted. Fantastic storyline.

What’s made the story going further outstanding is that there are so much emotional depth in it that it successfully carried the audiences in. There are various messages from this film for us to learn and think of while going through the movie and it evokes a powerful humanistic statements and emotions. Moving and touching. Can’t believe an apes-film delivered that wonderfully good! Besides that, there are also the action parts to bring out intense development and tension throughout this two-hour long film so that nothing from the movie can make us bored. Quite a fast-paced story and character’s development too.

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The next aspect to compliment is the stunning visual effects. I believed many knew how Andy Serkis (as Caesar) and other actors portrayed as the apes in the film. Of course, most of the outcome came from the sophisticated computer technology, but still it is the apes’ facial expression, body gesture and eyes’ emotion that elevated audiences’ liking to this film. Those things make us more connected to the film. Realistic visuals accompanied with exciting sound effects. What more you can expect?

The main actor is no longer James Franco, but he do appeared for a short moment in a video clip and in a photograph when Caesar returned to his home (opps..sorry for a little spoiler here). No disappointment as the new male lead, Jason Clarke as Malcolm delivered her role amazingly too. For the others, there isn’t any much opportunity for them to shine here in acting. People will just concentrate themselves on Malcolm, and mostly, the apes particularly Caesar and the villain, Koba. I already knew Koba is going to be the bad apes from the first film.

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So…yup…I’m praising everything about this film. Exceptionally well. The first film which was the reboot of the Planet of the Apes movie franchise was already great, and this one even did better according to my opinion. The third film is in planning and I’m sure me and my dad are very excited for it. With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, this sequel expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ a total of 8.0. Remarkable, one of the best films this year so far.

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