Monday blues; hate it when it’s holiday in Malaysia but not here in Singapore…and a drama review for TVB’s ‘Another Era’.


It’s going to be a long week ahead that begins with Monday blues today. I’m getting jealous by the two days of holiday Malaysia is observing today and tomorrow in conjunction with Agong’s Birthday and Awal Muharram. They have a decent long weekend to enjoy while I’m here mumbling on why Singapore has so few public holidays annually. Not a single public holiday for this month as well as for next month. The next one will be Deepavali that falls somewhere in mid November if I’m not mistaken.

As for the short last weekend, I managed to catch a movie with my friend (my movie review for ‘The Nun’ in my previous post), saw a carnival in a mall selling various brands of mooncakes as the Mid-Autumn Festival is just around the corner (didn’t buy any as they are too expensive although I love to eat mooncake), and watching Cantonese drama (my favourite thing to do when I’m free) in a marathon mode. I think I watched 10 episodes in a row yesterday.

The drama that I’m talking about is ‘Another Era’, a 34-episode drama that acts as an unrelated sequel to 1999’s ‘At The Threshold Of An Era’ and both of them are based on the theme of Hong Kong’s financial business. ‘Another Era’ starred Roger Kwok, Niki Chow, Tavia Yeung, Frankie Lam, Benjamin Yuen, Pakho Chau, etc. I am not particularly interested on the ‘finance’ part of the drama (I don’t even bother or can’t even understand certain difficult terminology typically observed in finance sector used in this drama). However, I’m kind of being attracted to the strong cast from this drama (a number of nice veteran actors, and glad to see Linda Chung again in a drama although she only has a supporting role here).

The drama builds up pretty slowly (fortunately, it’s not being dragged too long and made to end in less than 40 episodes which is still not too bad) and from the very beginning, you already know who is going to be the bad guy and that person is certainly going to lose big in the very end. Roger Kwok took on that role (he is very experienced in portraying villain character). However, I’m starting to feel bored of his same old evil facial expression that I have seen before in his previous work like ‘Last One Standing’, ‘Black Heart White Soul’ and ‘Dead Wrong’. Nevertheless, I do enjoy his acting as usual. He is a solid actor. Frankie Lam on the other hand isn’t doing well. He is too wooden and his presence made me felt bored. His story arc with Linda Chung also felt detached from the main story. Benjamin is getting a very likable character here and his death near the end gave a much needed hit/climax. Pakho Chau is on the opposite and his character is pretty annoying (being a lazy games addict guy, not appreciating his good friends, getting mad over small matter easily, knew that his close buddy love him and yet ignoring her even till the end of the drama).

As for the females, Niki Chow outshines Tavia Yeung. That’s good. Tavia has been given a lot of chance in her previous works (she won best actress before too) and it is very welcoming to put more attention to the other female lead, Niki Chow. And she deserves that attention. She handled this role very well (being the saddest role in this drama; losing her two brothers, struggling so much to lead the huge company his father left behind without any experience, losing her father and then losing her boyfriend). Now, I think she do have a chance for best actress award this year only if many others try to pay more attention to her performance here. By the way, Tavia turning the tide and going against her husband (Roger Kwok) near the end is so predictable and hence, that plot twist didn’t work out well. Last but not least, I also find the forceful insertion of few actors from mainland China just to attract more viewers from mainland China is very unnecessary and off putting (Linda Chung’s segment too but that’s still fine because it’s refreshing to see her). Their unimportant and boring storyline do not mix well to the main plot. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Another Era’ a total of 7.0. A solid drama that could have been more intense (I see a lot of potential for this drama to be a thrilling one but the outcome only reaches halfway of that mark) to keep viewers engaged.

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

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‘The Nun’ can be much better but it is still a good addition into the ‘Conjuring’ universe.


I was so looking forward to a full length film for the demonic nun named Valak that first appeared in ‘The Conjuring 2’ movie released 2 years ago. The horrifying doll ‘Annabelle’ that is first introduced from the very first ‘The Conjuring’ film (and is actually based on a real haunted doll of the same name) gets its own 2 movies. After ‘The Conjuring 2’ is released, people couldn’t get their mind off from the haunting visual of the nun and its very own spin-off film is finally released now. I was a little worried before watching it just now as I knew it received mostly negative reviews (scored less than 30% in Rotten Tomatoes). After watching it, I think it deserves more than that rating.

‘The Nun’ is the fifth film in ‘Conjuring’ universe but has a story that acts as a prequel to the whole thing. Sets in 1952 at Romania, the movie revolves on a priest and a novice who are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun at a monastery. They together with a guy who first found the corpse of the nun encounter a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. Many are criticizing the film for having poor story or narrative but I’m in the opposite opinion here. I find that the film has quite a clear plot and an easy to understand flow of story. It is simple and it’s good in a situation where it is not distracting the horror purpose of the movie.

What’s lacking from the film is that it has not much of suspense or building up of fear going on even as it reaches its climax near the end. The previous horror films in this franchise especially the first ‘The Conjuring’ film succeeds because it is extremely good on delivering scenes that build up the tension and intensity to get us to the edge of our seats. This movie relies too much on loud jump scares instead. There are also excessive scenes of the demon lurking and stalking behind the characters without any real frightening content later on besides than those expected jump scares. The film ends up being not as scary as anticipated. The nun appears briefly in ‘The Conjuring 2’ and it scared the hell out from a lot of people. Now, it has its own movie and appeared for a lot of scenes but it already losses its frightening effect. Sometimes (or maybe always) it is good to keep the ghost appearance to be as minimal as possible to make its horror effect much more lasting from various other means.

The production design for the film is brilliant nonetheless. A lot of effort has been put into that to create a creepy ambience that is perfect for a horror story. The setup of the monastery and its interior is worth a praise. The music perfectly fits in and it helps a lot to elevate and magnify the horrifying presence and arrival of the demonic nun. The cast did well on their acting especially Frenchie (the guy who first found the corpse) who are adding some unexpected hilarious content to this horror film. Last but not least, I also like how the first scene and the last scene of the movie link back to the whole ‘Conjuring’ universe. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Nun’ a total of 6.8. It is not that bad actually and it’s a good addition into the ‘Conjuring’ universe. I don’t mind if there is ‘The Nun 2’ since ‘Annabelle’ also has its second film already.

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

Asian Games 2018 update so far and a movie review for ‘The First Purge’.


Asian Games 2018 currently on-going at Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia is reaching its midpoint by now a week after its opening ceremony. China topped the medal tally so far as expected with over 70 gold medals and will stay comfortably on top till the end of the games. Japan is in second now with 34 gold medals while South Korea is in third with 24 gold medals. Iran is on fourth place with 14 gold medals so far while the host country, Indonesia is also doing very well (as predicted too due to home advantage) by being placed at 5th position currently with 10 gold medals.

Where is Malaysia? Malaysia is right now at 19th place with only 1 gold medal, 4 silver medals and 1 bronze medal. We are not performing well so far and it’s quite a challenge to reach our target of getting 7 gold medals. I’m hoping that we could break into the top 10 position but looking from the current situation, that is highly unlikely. We have to further lower down our expectation and it would be fine for Malaysia to just repeat the same achievement they have four years ago at Incheon 2014 with 5 gold medals. It looks like something is needed to be done urgently to bring our national athletes to adequate standard. If not, we will just be in a continuous downhill at international sporting events like this.

I’m only paying attention to badminton. Unfortunately, most of our national badminton players have already been eliminated before even reaching the quarter-final stage. They even failed to clinch any medal for team events. Only two Malaysian men doubles pair are left standing as they manage to get into quarter-final. Lee Chong Wei is not participating in this Asian Games 2018 as he currently quits playing to recover from illness. This means not only that we lost a huge chance to win a gold medal in men single event but this decision also means that Lee Chong Wei will never get to win Asiad (Asian Games champion) title in his career as he is too old for the next edition of the games in 2022.

Let’s move the focus from sports to movies now. ‘Weekend for movie’ is a good plan for me and that applies for this weekend too. There are not many good movies in release currently. I’m more excited for movies next month such as ‘The Nun’, ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ and ‘The Predator’. I have not much option this month and so I went for ‘The First Purge’. It is the fourth film in The Purge franchise (I have watched all the first three movies in this franchise) and it is a prequel depicting the origins of the first annual ‘Purge’, a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America is legal including murder. For this prequel, this ‘Purge’ is being seen as an experiment and it only takes place in Staten Island, New York City.

I enjoyed the first movie in this franchise very much and I’m amazed by the idea of this ’12-hour murder spree’ thing in a film. The first movie is good as it builds up a lot of suspense in a confined environment (the whole story sets entirely in a house and is about the parents protecting their children from a group of outsiders who wanted to purge and broke into their home). As more sequels are coming, they are no longer decent as the direction changes from small-scale intimate setting and suspense building type of movie to large-scale shooting and brainless violence. Excessive unnecessary scenes of people dressed in masks and weird costumes and parading through streets are added in the sequels including this latest film. For me, those are rubbish. I am not here for massive action or gangster kind of movies and I am not here either for weird cosplay on the big screen. I’m here for intense adventure of hide-and-seek game and survival-driven film plot. Recent films in this franchise sway away too much from this more engaging approach. I only get this portion in the last quarter of this ‘The First Purge’ movie when a group of hired killers moved to the apartment block where the main characters are hiding to kill everyone in the block while the main lead character is going in for the rescue. The first half of the movie is very boring and draggy. The momentum only starts to build in the second half and that is very slow. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The First Purge’ a total of 6.0. If there are more sequels coming in for this franchise, I hope they listen to my opinion here.

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

Ending the weekend with final episodes of TVB ‘Succession War’.


Saving money is the priority this weekend after a heavy spending on Universal Studios last weekend. I already had an outing yesterday plus a movie and so for today, I will just stay at home most of the time. That’s the best way to keep the money in the wallet. End of the month is near and I can’t wait to get my hard earned salary. I have been spending the day mostly being online on Facebook and YouTube, taking a nice rest in preparation for busy weekdays ahead as usual, and had just watched the exciting final two episodes of TVB drama ‘Succession War’.

It is a historical drama that starred Ruco Chan, Shaun Tam, Selena Lee, Elaine Yiu, Natalie Tong, Angelina Lo, Yoyo Chen, Jonathan Cheung, Stephanie Ho, Matthew Ho, etc. The drama revolves on the last 28 days of the life of Qing dynasty court official Heshen, who is known for being the most corrupt court official in Chinese history.and focuses on the Emperor’s attempt to eliminate him. The drama has 28 episodes, and each episode reflects one day of the storyline. That’s a cool approach and it helps to get the story fast-paced and not lacking any depth, thanks to the multiple helpful flashback scenes.

Ruco Chan is very convincing as Heshen while on the other hand, Shaun Tam who is portraying as the emperor is doing very poorly in this drama. I have never seen him in any dramas before and so I think he is inexperienced. All he do in this drama is to forcefully show his very angry face in every scenes. One same facial expression (and the deep ‘Batman’ voice) for almost the entire drama. An emperor can still convey his power and fearfulness through many subtle ways, but Shaun Tam is just not knowing how to do that or is not given any useful advice by the production team. I hope he do knew all these criticism and improve on his acting skill since we will be seeing him in more dramas in the future.

The girls in this drama are just taking on minor and supporting roles but they too shine due to their great performances and story arc that binds the whole series together. Selena Lee is beautiful and excellent as the imperial noble consort. She has improved a lot over the years and I can say that by now, she is a best actress material. Too bad, this drama isn’t focusing on the females and she will not get any recognition or awards from her role here although she nailed it very well. Elaine Yiu and Natalie Tong are also great in their respective roles that are very similar (helping Ruco on his mission with all kind of sacrifices while being his lovers). Also not to be missed out is the fantastic performances by the veterans such as KK Cheung as the retired emperor and Angelina Lo as the dowager noble consort.

The number of good TVB dramas every year has been decreasing rapidly. ‘Deep in the Realm of Conscience’ is a poor drama and I was surprised by the huge rating and critical reception it gets especially from mainland China. On the other hand, I’m shocked that this ‘Succession War’ receives very low audience viewership and isn’t getting the popularity that it deserves. I personally think that ‘Succession War’ is so much better than that boring ‘Deep in the Realm of Conscience’. The former is very engaging and delivers exciting storyline in every episode up until its aired finale just now. The only bad thing from ‘Succession War’ is Shaun Tam’s acting. Other than that, everything is good. Even my dad who seldom watch dramas is praising it. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Succession War’ a total of 8.1. The best TVB drama of the year so far.

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

A day in two malls and at Sentosa Island.


Although I’m still feeling slightly unwell today, but I insist on heading out to explore the city and seeks some entertainment in this weekend. Things go according to plan as me and my friend went to the Sentosa Island. This is the first time he is visiting the island while this is my third time doing so. The area around the Resorts World Sentosa still looks the same with all the fee-charging attractions. As I said earlier, I went there for the third time already and I still have not had the opportunity to enter into the Universal Studios.

We were just looking around for some sights and enjoy the happening atmosphere with a lot of tourists over there. We also went into the casino not to play, but to enjoy the comfy air-conditioning as the weather outside today is pretty hot. We spent nothing there except for the monorail fees (4 dollar) and a lunch at the ‘Malaysian Food Street’. Walking outdoor for over 10 minutes is already a bit unbearable with that scorching heat this afternoon and we decided to head back to the Vivo City shopping mall. The mall is the point for people who are taking public transport to travel to the island and it is also one of the largest malls in Singapore.

After Vivo City, we went to City Square Mall to catch a movie. Good seats are all taken up at Vivo City’s cinema and we have no choice but to change mall. We watched ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’. I enjoyed the film very much and I highly recommend it especially to the Marvel fans. It is very entertaining and I have an enjoyable time through the whole movie. In this movie, Scott Lang (Ant-Man) works together with Hope (Wasp) and her father Hank Pym to retrieve her mother Janet from the quantum realm.

The movie focuses mostly on turning small things to big things or vice versa and those scenes are brilliantly executed to deliver a lot of fun and thrills to the audiences. Ample of hilarious scenes made this movie experience very enjoyable. Those funny scenes felt very natural unlike those from ‘Deadpool 2’ that felt forced and awkward at some point. ‘Deadpool 2’ is the Marvel movie that comes right before this although it has no link to the storyline of Ant-Man or Avengers.

There are also some quick yet warm family and romantic moments to keep the whole atmosphere light and cheerful in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’. The actions are good and the cast are fantastic. Do stay until the end for one mid-credit scene and one post-credit scene. The mid-credit scene is particularly crucial as it ties back to the event from the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. I rate ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ a total of 8.5. A highly enjoyable and fun movie. With so many superhero movies released in the past already, Marvel is still able to produce some good works these days.

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

Movie review for ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and 2-billion box office milestone for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.


Dinosaurs return to the big screen. The fifth film in the Jurassic Park film franchise, ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ opened on international markets much earlier than its debut in the US to our delight. We get to watch it two weeks earlier. The release of this latest film also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the first film that started it all. Can’t believe it has been 25 years already since the first time we are seeing the ‘kids hiding in the kitchen scene’, ‘raptor knowing how to open a door scene’, ‘T-rex saving the day at the end of the movie scene’, etc.

In this ‘Fallen Kingdom’, the story sets few years after the event in ‘Jurassic World’ whereby the theme park is now permanently closed and left abandoned. The dinosaurs roam freely until a volcanic eruption on the island occurred that will put them into extinction once again. Owen and Claire returned to the place to rescue them but were actually tricked to do so by a businessman to make profit by selling them and on the other hand creates another powerful hybrid dinosaur called Indoraptor. Another hybrid dinosaur on the limelight after the terrifying Indominus Rex that brought an end to the ‘Jurassic World’ theme park in the 2015 movie.

I think I have very high expectation before the movie and so after watching it just now, I felt a little disappointed. I have to say that 2015’s ‘Jurassic World’ is better and more exciting than this one. Well, this ‘Fallen Kingdom’ is also worthy of a praise by me mainly due to the fact that the people behind it can still creatively moving the story forward from and after the first four movies. The starting scene of this that features the Mosasaurus escaping is thrilling while there are still some heartstopping scenes after that. However, the level of intensity seems to have gone down and the supposingly climax-reaching scene in the end couldn’t hit me.

The 2015’s ‘Jurassic World’ has a great introduction scene to the opened theme park, had a great flow of story in the middle, and a jaw-dropping finale fight scene between the dinosaurs. All that is gelled into a great and an entertaining movie. This ‘Fallen Kingdom’ couldn’t reach that high standard set by its predecessor, but it is still a good effort. I like the play of light, shadow and colour in this one which delivers it into a darker tone and intended horror buildup of the story (there are still some funny moments to lighten up the mood). Besides that, I am also moved by some very sad moments involving the dinosaurs as the movie also goes deep to the emotional side.

I missed the post-credit scene unfortunately (didn’t know that Jurassic Park movies now beginning to have post-credit scene too) but I knew the details of it already and find it unimportant. Jeff Goldblum is in here but for a very unimportant cameo role who is just present to deliver some golden quotes. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ a total of 7.3. It’s still fun and nice to watch; I will never get bored of another Jurassic Park film.

This movie is expected to gross over US$ 1 billion (I’m thinking about US$ 1.3 billion) in its final box office revenue just like its predecessor. ‘Jurassic World’ in 2015 gained over US$ 1.6 billion worldwide. ‘Fallen Kingdom’ is predicted to earn lesser than that but will still easily cross the 1-billion mark. On the other hand, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is in a certain position to reach the 2-billion box office milestone by end of this weekend or latest by early next week. It will be the only fourth film in history to reach that impressive figure (after ‘Avatar’, ‘Titanic’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’). Now the question is whether it will eclipse ‘Star Wars: The Force Awaken’ which earned US$ 2.068 billion back then for the third spot in the table of highest grossing films of all time (unadjusted for inflation). There is quite a high possibility for ‘Infinity War’ to do so.

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

 

 

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is awesome!


‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is by far my most anticipated movie of the year and I’m so excited that its release has finally arrived. I have watched all the previous 18 MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films that began 10 years ago with ‘Iron Man’. I’m thrilled and impressed by how far Marvel has gone to in the development of their films with many of them being exceptionally well executed, and them having all the stories culminate into this third Avengers movie.

I’m also amazed by the creative marketing from my country (Malaysia) in promoting this ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ such as installing a lit Avengers logo on the top of the Telekom Tower (Stark or Avengers Tower as shown in the first Avengers movie resembles a lot like the Telekom Tower) and having large visual projection of the film’s advertising on the facade of Suria KLCC mall which is directly at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers.

As for the movie itself, it is awesome! Marvel has accomplished it again by delivering to us an amazing movie of which almost all previously appeared Marvel superheroes assembled again to take on the villain, Thanos who finally collect the Infinity Stones by himself to power up the Infinity Gauntlet and be the most powerful being in the universe. It’s a bit sad of not seeing Hawkeye and Ant-man joining the huge group of superheroes here (I felt a bit incomplete). Anyway, the movie still has all the charm from the multiple exciting battle scenes, some humorous moments and interesting emphasis on the character development of Thanos. He is not just a bad guy who aim to wipe out half the universe and be evil for no purpose. There seems to be reasoning on his part (although I couldn’t agree on his stand) and I praise Marvel for adding this story to refine this particular character.

This makes no time for the superheroes to shine on their own (most of them only has very few lines in the movie), That is reasonable due to the huge number of superheroes involved while most of them already had their arc explained in their past individual films. The whole movie is quite straightforward except the very end which will puzzle the audiences especially those who are not a strong Marvel comic fans. I only understand some of the ending theories as explained by some people out there on the internet. Spoiler ahead; I don’t think all those who are dusted after Thanos snapped his finger from his Infinity Gauntlet complete with all the six Infinity Stones will just died like that. I believe they or some of them may appear again (maybe resurrected?) in the next Avengers movie scheduled next year. And where has Thanos went to in the end? I don’t quite get that. I think I need to research a bit more on the details of the ending. It’s an open conclusion as expected because Marvel will not just end here as there are so much more future plans ahead for MCU.

The battle scenes are fantastic and explosive till I wouldn’t even want to blink for once during those scenes. Besides that, I can really feel the intensity especially when Thanos appears with those amazing score and the CGI of Thanos’ appearance properly worked on. (it’s so cool watching the scene when Thanos used his gauntlet to pull and throw a planet onto the superheroes…and also many other scenes!) It’s actually very hard to make a movie not only about one superhero but to gather a lot of them into a single production with a great villain and plot. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ a total of 8.0. If you haven’t watch it and plan to do so, please stay till the end of the credits for a post-credit scene (typical for Marvel movies).

By the way, this movie is going to make a lot of money in worldwide box office. There is no doubt it will be the second movie of the year to gross over US$ 1 billion after ‘Black Panther’ (currently has US$ 1.3 billion in box office). I’m thinking that this ‘Infinity War’ will hit US$1.8 billion in the end.

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