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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Movie Review - Astro Boy


Movie Title
Astro Boy
Year
2009
Genre
Animation
Story
In the far future, Metro City, a floating city that is generally run by robots with humans merely enjoying life, brilliant scientist (who is also Metro City’s Minister of Science working under the selfish & power-hungry President Stone played by Donald Sutherland) Dr Tenma with the help of his trusted friend, Dr. Elefun (Bill Nighy), created an incredible sentient robot to replace hi s young only son, Toby, after he was accidentally killed in a military exercise gone awry in their attempt to harness a powerful alien and unlimited "blue" energy (which was eventually used to power Astro Boy himself). The robot was programmed with Toby’s memories & personality but it failed to fill the void that was left by Dr Tenma’s dead child and was asked to leave.
In search of acceptance, the robot, broken-hearted, leaves Metro City and heads to the surface world where he meets & befriends a group of colorful characters who gives him the name - Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore). Upon learning that his friends and family up in Metro City are in mortal danger, Astro Boy returns to his father’s side in a valiant effort to save the city & everything he cares about. Of course, he ends up being the super-powerful robot hero defender of Metro City that we all know and still love today.
Acting
The voice acting from the cast is very believable and I’m especially impressed by Freddie Highmore. However, knowing in advance that Nicholas Cage was the voice behind Dr Tenma did take a little toll on my enjoyment of the movie as Cage had not really made a good impressing portraying characters other than the bitterly hopeless tragic remorseful dad/hero/victim. On the other hand, Eugene Levy, Nathan Lane & Kristen Bell provide an appealing supporting cast of colorful characters that are quirky and lovable.

Overall
Astro Boy is based on a Japanese comic book/ Manga created by Ozamu Tezuka (who many consider to be the Grand-father of Manga) dating back to circa 1950s. He was also the star of several popular TV series. The original (Japanese version) Astro Boy wears very little clothes and this being a Hollywood production, has been made more acceptable to international audiences. Another point to note is also that Astro Boy looks very much like Marvel's Namor, who also wears a green speedo and has black hair.

I'm sure he was as big as, perhaps today’s Ben 10 or Spongebob. Just go ask your dad or uncle and they would have something nostalgic to say. =)

Rating: 5.5/10








Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Comic Review - Fantastic Four 544-546


Title/Storyline
Fantastic Four
Publish Date/Year
2008
Creative Team
Dwayne McDuffie & Paul Pelletier
Publisher
Marvel

Story
In the wake of Civil War where Reed and Sue’s marriage suffered seriously due to the different sides they each took during the War, the decide to take a “second” honeymoon (but they didn’t really have their first honeymoon as it was crashed by some dastardly super-villains) to work on their marriage on Saturn's moon Titan. Meanwhile, the Wakandian Embassy was destroyed in the Civil War when Storm was fought the Thor clone (co-created by Reed), the recently married King of Wakanda – the Black Panther (T'Challa) and his Queen, Storm (of the X-Men) take up temporary residence at the FF’s HQ and stand in for the as FF members in Reed & Sue’s absence. Hence – the New FF.

Former cyborg-killing machine Deathlok, Michael Collins, seeks help from the FF with a desecration of the gravesite of young hero – Gravity. The FF go to the Moon to seek out Uatu, the Watcher of our Galaxy for information on the perpetrator(s). With Watcher Uatu’s help, the FF soon learn that Gravity's body had been taken by the cosmic entity Epoch (a really ugly Cosmic Guide to Quasar, Protector of the Universe) to the far side of the universe. However, before the FF can retrieve Gravity’s body from Epoch, the Silver Surfer arrives to deliver the death warrant for Epoch. The Silver Surfer agrees to give the FF a little time to complete their mission before summoning Galactus to feed on Epoch. However, the FF then decides to protect Epoch from Galactus’ hunger. The dire situation causes Epoch to revive Gravity, reborn as the new protector of the universe! Stardust, the other Herald of Galactus, joins the fray! But then the FF has the Black Panther on the team! He, like Reed, always has a plan for almost every situation and he has the Galactus Contingency Plan – which includes King Solomon's Frogs (don’t ask, you have to read it) and an armor based on the technology Dr. Doom used to steal the Surfer's Power Cosmic years ago. The FF save the day by actually feeding Galactus back to full strength.

Art
Paul Pelletier, who may be better known for his work on War of Kings delivers solid work on the FF but the embellishment sometimes make his art seem like Mark Bagley’s. I say this because altho’ Bagley is a favorite of many comic readers, I have not liked his work much. However, knowing that Bryan Hitch is going to take over the art chores within the next few issues made it OK so see Pelletier do only a handful of issues.

Additional Comments
With just 3 issues, there are enough characters in the arc to really amp up the excitement & let fans sink their teeth into, especially with characters like Uatu, Black Panther and the Silver Surfer. These 3 characters are among the BEST (and my personal favorites along with the Inhumans) ever characters created from the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby Era, plus they all made their debut into the Marvel Universe in the very same book – Fantastic Four! This is a great arc for both new readers and seasoned readers to jump back on board the FF fan-wagon!

Order your copy here 22% OFF:

http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/0785124837

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Comic Review - Dark Reign:The List - Wolverine


Title/Storyline
Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine
Publish Date/Year
2009
Creative Team
Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic
Publisher
Marvel

Story
This issue is basically a team-up story spotlighting Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr) and Wolverine (Logan).

However, before long, it becomes a Marvel Boy (or the New Captain Marvel, a title given to him by Norman Osborn as a member of his dark Avengers Team) and Fantomex (aka weapon Xiii, making him logan’s fellow alum) team-up story instead as Wolverine gets mind-wiped and becomes a zombie as soon as Noh-Varr & Logan infiltrate a facility (known as “The World”) that had somehow become sentient. Predictably, the very same facility Norman Osborn wants to get his grubby hands on.

The heroes try to shut down the sentient facility before Norman Osborn can gain control of it with a legion of zombie shock troops.

Art
I love Esad Ribic’s work. You will be familiar with his painted covers than his interior artwork. However, his pencil work is no less impressive and exuding a distinctly European flavor. N complaints. You can see from his work here that he is another one of the artistic young guns to watch!

Additional Comments
The issue didn’t seem to fit the theme of Norman Osborn’s list but as a stand-along story, it’s didn’t have any epic level impact to the rest of the Marvel Universe BUT it was great to see:
1 – Marvel Boy in action as a Hero (instead of as Osborn’s lackey in dark Avengers)
2 – Fantomex after quite a few years since his last appearance in Morrison’s run of X-Men

Good art and fun read. Great Standalone book but didn’t seem to fit the title theme.

Per-Order your 33% discounted copy here:http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/0785142363

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Comic Review - Dark Reign:The List - Hulk



Title/Storyline
DR The List - Hulk
Publish Date/Year
2009
Creative Team
Greg Pak & Ben Oliver
Publisher
Marvel

Story
Norman Osborn has the Hulk on his to do list and
decides to permanently remove the Hulk (whose alter ego is Bruce Banner) and/or any of his companions from the game.

Bruce Banner and Hulk’s son, Skaar, sneaked into one of Osborn’s facilities and freed a former SHIELD Agent – Dr Waynesboro. In Retaliation, Osborn sends Moonstone (aka Ms Marvel of the Dark Avengers) and Victoria Hand (Osborn’s HAMMER deputy) to deal with them.

The Hulk is nowhere to be seen in this issue because the inside cover re-cap tells us that he is only Banner now. But this Banner is no longer the timid egghead we used to know but instead a cool, calm, collected & heroic tech-maestro like Reed Richards (of the Fantastic Four).

The back-up story is a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #14 where Osborn as Green Goblin, meets Hulk for the very first time.

Art
Ben Oliver's artwork is – in a word – breath-takingly beautiful. My only gripe is that it looks too much like Adi Granov’s with bits of Oliver Coipel thrown in.

Additional Comments
Having not caught up with developments with the Hulk since World War Hulk, I’m not quite sure of the dynamics between Skaar (Hulk’s Son from PLanet Hulk) and Banner but they seem to have a truce.

This is a great book to pick up because it shows a new side of Banner that we have not seen before. Additionally, the artwork alone is reason enough to pick this book up!

Per-Order your 33% discounted copy here:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comic Review - Dark Reign:The List - Punisher


Title/Storyline
DR The List - Punisher
Publish Date/Year
2009
Creative Team
Rick Remender & John Romita Jr.
Publisher
Marvel

Story
Norman Osborn sics Daken (or Dark Wolverine) on the Punisher, with some (OK, heaps) help from his HAMMER agents on Frank Castle as part of his to do List, taking the fight directly back to Frank’s hideout.

Having had his run-ins with Osborn and his goons in his own book where he tried to assassinate Osborn. He is now severely worn out, injured and battle –weary. Even so, Frank is ever-ready to address intruders. After being bombed-out by Hammer agents, He and Daken have the final showdown down in the sewers. Of course the fight is one-sided but Frank does manage to get his licks in to daken.

Art
It's John Romita Jr. You either love him or hate him. He does very power-packed visuals very well suited for intense fight sequences like this issue (and also for his other book – Kick-Ass)

Additional Comments
WOW! (or WTF, depending on which side of the divide you would fall into after reading this issue. ) A monumental milestone in Frank's life for sure. The fight depiction is raw and brutal.

The ending of this comic is a Major shocker! This is not a dream sequence or a hallucination! Beg, borrow or Buy it as you have to see the last few pages of the book to fully appreciate what I Mean. (Well, if you had taken a peek at the Diamond previews or the Marvel Previews, you would know that the next arc for Punisher is called “Franken-Castle” for a very good reason.).
Pre-Order your 33% discounted copy here:http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/0785142363

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Comic Review - Dark Reign:The List - Secret Warriors

Title/Storyline
Dark Reign:The List - Secret Warriors
Publish Date/Year
2009
Creative Team
Jonathan Hickman & Ed McGuinness
Publisher
Marvel


Story
Nick Fury and cyborg Commando John Garrett discovers that federal employee Seth Waters is an outright threat to Global Security. Left with no other options, Nick Fury seeks out Osborn and strikes up a begrudging alliance to address the problem together. He does this by breaking into Osborn’s bedroom atop the Avengers Tower, guarded by Ares (the God of War) no less!

Together, they manage to apprehend Seth Waters. The only thing they manage to find from him was a tiny thumb-sized device. They start the interrogation to glen info on the device and who Seth works for. Seth Waters is a tough customer, so tough that even Osborn makes no headway with him. Then Osborn sends in Bullseye, with a pack of toothpicks! Seth Waters finally breaks and mutters the word “Leviathan”.

Fury then immediately orders John Garrett to take out Seth Waters as planned and then makes his escape a la James Bond – by jumping off from atop the Avengers tower. Ares, who was guarding the tower, “failed” to stop Fury’s escape.
Art
Ed McGuinness is also one of those artists whose style you either love or hate. his style is a little cartoony but crisp and clean. He combines very modern visuals with art that pays homage to the retro Steranko style of story-telling.

Additional Comments
It was cool to see how Nick Fury can really be a force to be reckoned with, not just a govt. big-wig. He does dangerous field-work and does them in style!

The development with Ares is also interesting because it shows that there are cracks in the Dark Avengers. Possibly paving his return to the side of angels.
Per-Order your 33% discounted copy here:http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/0785142363

Monday, December 7, 2009

Movie Review (NOT) - Iron Man 2 Teaser Poster

All Iron Geeks would need this to help us endure 5 more months before the movie is ready for us! This is the BEST poster I have seen and I just had to share it!
(for those not in the know, the grey guy is not another incarnation of the Iron Monger from the 1st movie but his partner Jim Rhodes - the War Machine. Yeah, "War Machine" - we are going to see some serious action!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Food Review - Pork Rib Noodles (Chun Heong Coffee Shop)

Name
Pork Rib Noodles - Chun Heong Coffee Shop
Address
28 Lorong Ara Kiri 2, Lucky Garden
Food
Pork Rib Noodles (Lunch)
Location
Bangsar - Lucky Garden

Getting there
It is a double shop-lot right in the middle of the shops (instead of at a corner) located prominently across from the Jalan Tempinis-Jalan Ara Kiri Roundabout.

Parking
This can be a hassle as the parking spots are usually all taken and even double parked. This however is you do not mind parking slightly further away and taking a short walk from either Bangsar Village or the housing areas surrounding the place.

Service
Service is quick and fuss-free. The old lady is friendly and you she would enjoy recommending her menu to you if you are unsure of what to try.
Ambience
Typical of any Chinese Coffee Shop, the noise levels are pretty up there but the place is considered fairly clean (considering the shop has been there foe some years) and brightly lit.

Taste
The pork ribs are served in a clear double-boiled Chinese herbal broth which has a very tempting aroma. I like mine with dry Wantan noodles. However, the more traditional noodles like mee, hor fun (or kuey teow), mee-hoon and even mee-suah (or “meen seen” in Cantonese) are also available. I tend to look for some form of chili paste with my food but they only provide chili-padi in soy sauce. I didn’t really use it because the meat in the soup provides enough savory taste.

Presentation
The food is served in large decorated porcelain Chinese bowls (which is a very good thing not only presentation-wise but from the health perspective as well). If it’s the dry noodle variety, then the food will come in 2 bowls instead of one.

Variety
They also serve Duck & Chicken in herbal soup (all double-boiled) but I have not had a chance to try them as each time I visit, I always order the Pork Ribs (Yeah, it’s that good!).

Value for Money
Each serving comes with at least 4 big chunks of pork ribs complete with a generous portion of noodles.

Overall
Altho’ run only by a friendly elderly couple, their service (with a smile, put many other eateries to shame). Great food at great value with excellent service tucked somewhere in the heart of the city - Bangsar. Go try it, an excellent example of great stall food.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Movie Review - 2012

Do we ever listen?
Movie Title
2012
Year
2009
Genre
Action/Adventure
Story
Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. A global cataclysm brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors. Basically, it's about what the different people do to survive the coming of the end. The governments around the world; led by the President of the US unites to come up with a plan so that a selected number of people can survive. They create a modern day 'Noah's Ark' to accomodate the 'chosen' people. Unknown to most people, the ticket to board costs 1billion USD for a person. Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) also joins in the struggle to survive in order to keep him and his family alive. The rest of the story is best to watch and know it yourself.
Acting
When I watched the trailer for this movie; the only thing that made me want to watch it was John Cusack. A splendid actor, one would expect another remarkable performance from him. Once again, John Cusack pulled off his character; a divorced father and writer Jackson Curtis very well. His 6 year old daughter Lilly was played by Morgan Lily who for her age, did a credible job. The other supporting actors were also quite commendable especially Danny Glover who fit the role of the President almost perfectly. Then there was Chiwetel Ejiofor, a less known actor who's role was a person of importance in relation to the 2012 predicted end of the world; he was convincing. Most of the minor characters especially those who appeared only once did reasonably well. You could get emotional as well when you see how everyone tried to survive and some who gave in to 'fate' and awaited their death. One scene that was especially touching was when the Indian family who's father was the one who discovered the 2012 disaster 3 years back held each other tight knowing there was no escape from the waves.
Overall
I did not know what to expect as the only thing I knew about the movie was that in 2012, the world would end. The storyline is interesting; and I like how there are different kinds of characters; from the rich to the poor; from the selfish to the self-sacrificing; from the heartless to the compassionate. I was glad that the action did not occupy the whole 2 hours and 40 minutes (approx). Instead,there was a balance of the 'destruction scenes' and meaningful ones. There are many lessons you can learn just by watching the movie. It does make you appreciate what you have right now; you never know when the end will come. Another one was the vast difference between the rich and the poor; and the movie pointed out men's selfishness especially during the hard times. The importance of family was also emphasized. Lastly, the graphics were good; making everything believable. The movie seems rather long but it was good to the extent where I felt it was only 2 hours; nothing bored me. Definitely a must watch!
Rating: 7.5/10
Guest Reviewer: Serene Chua

Order your copy here at 31% OFF!
2012 (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]