Sunday, May 24, 2009

Small vs. Big -- Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

There are some movies that did a pretty good job in small details, but failed in the big picture. The long-waited sequel of the big hit in box office, Night In the Museum 2, unfortunately joined the club here.

Ben Stiller's influance in Hollywood is obvious -- just look at the whole group of ppl he summoned for this carnival-like movie! It seems that he wants to make it another Ocean's series. But my suggestion is, next time, write the scripts yourself, Ben.

Similar to the original one, this sequel movie tells the "battle" in the biggest museum of the world -- National Archives of USA, located right in the heart of Washington D.C. We know that the story is predictable, but the effort of trying to improve that by adding a whole bucket of patriosim, a classic Hollywood version of "the man saved the day and got the girl", several pieces of funny talkshows (OK, they are NOT that funny, actually) and the most IN items such like the Jonas Brothers (but they really look cute... pardon me...), is not effective here at all. 99% of the audience are here for Ben Stiller, not a freak lady pilot crazy for whatever man she saw. I'd rather to see some more scenes about the little boy playing Ben's son.

Some jokes are too abstract for foreigners and even some Americans. The last scene about Motorola mobile phones is so ironic -- I'm pretty much sure that we will see this end of this once-holy brand quite soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Should-Not-Delete Deleted Scenes – Angels & Demons

I’m a huge fan of Dan Brown, esp Angels & Demons. So you can imagine that how excited I was when I saw its trailer in the cinema for the first time. But when I finally bought the ticket and sat back to enjoy the show, I grew disappointed only after 5 min – yes, with the scene that Tom Hanks on a “Vatican helicopter”, instead of the CERN’s super jet.

With limited length of the film (actually not quite “limited”, 2 hrs 15 min according to my watch), it is understandable that the director needs to cut off sth from the original book. But should that be those most important things such like the father-and-son relationship between Camerlengo and the Pope? If you’ve ever read the original book, you will definitely agree with me that this is the key to the whole story – why this young man killed his be-loved Holy Father and planned for the series of cold-blood murders. Without the key, you are just looking at a normal plot-of-murders movie (OK, a luxurious version maybe). Was it because of the pressure from the real-life Vatican Court? Otherwise I just couldn’t understand why the director chose to keep so many details about religion, history and arts while deleted the key. BTW sometimes I felt like that Ron Howard shared some common things with Dr. Langdon – they showed off a bit too much.

Tom Hanks finally got a decent hair-do, for God’s sake (literally here…). But Ewan McGreger still stole the show, even with so many scenes deleted – the Father’s gown is gonna be the Next Bit Thing in fashion industry for sure.
The only thing that the movie did better than the book – they really found a stature of “Angels-And-Demons”!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pieces of Memory – “Star Trek”

I’m not a real Star Trek fan. When this classic TV series was being broadcasted in China, I only caught up with several episodes, here and there. My only remaining impressions about it are the skinny uniforms and the “flash away” of the Enterprise. But when the movie hit cinemas in town, I still decided to go watch it.
By telling how the main crew of Enterprise was assembled, it appears that we are expecting sequels… Guess the main cast signed some contract (like Harry Potter and Pirates of Caribbean series) to act in sequels… They look toooo old for the roles of fresh-grads! Captain Pike (by Bruce Greenwood) looks more like the captain of Enterprise in my memory. And see if you can recognize Winona Ryder…
The story is quite predictable: tragedy, grow-up, conflicts, reconciliation, revenge, etc. But I really don’t like the way that Hollywood writers handle the topic of “Alternative Reality”. Since the time of Back to the Future and Lost in Space, they’ve been continuously talking about “go back, change, and happy ending” stories. Well, I feel like that even people did travel back to the past, they should not be able to interfere with anyone or anything that existed in that reality, but rather be a pure “watcher”. Occasionally people in that reality could see some trace of those time travelers, and most likely they would treat such things as “oracle” or “miracle” and develop a whole bunch of religious stuff.
The music is not as good as the Star Wars classic, but the visual effects are quite nice, especially the scene that a whole planet collapsed into a black whole within seconds.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saigon to HCMC (7)

Some misc stuff:

1. To send a postcard from Vietnam to any other country, you need a VND9000 stamp. Stamps are available @ the post offices (working daily) and many souvenir stores. You can either ask the hotel reception to do the post service for you or look for the post box like this:

(There is one just outside of Rex Hotel.)
But the speed of the post service is quite slow: To Singapore is 7-10 days, to North America and China took almost 20 days! Looks like they travel by sea…

2. Some other interesting souvenirs: Herbal wine made of snakes… Posters of Tin-Tin: (although I don’t think he ever visited Vietnam…)

3. Publishing is a popular industry in HCMC. Besides a lot of small book shops all around the city, you can even find many hawkers selling books just around the corner. They like to carry the books by piling them all the way up to the sky…

4. A very “elegant” reminder I found in my hotel room…

5. HCMC is said to be the “Capital of fashion” in Vietnam. You can find many big brands here instead of Hanoi, like this:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Luxiousness In Recession -- X-men Origins: Wolverine

It is said that every economy recession period is also a "golden age" for film industry, for ppl tend to choose cheaper ways of entertainment (i.e., a movie ticket instead of an air ticket), and more ppl need some entertainment to just forget about the cruel reality, even just for a moment.

The story of this "Pre-" movie is rather OK, meaning it does not contain too much co-relationship with the X-men I, II & III movies, so that you can undertand the storyline even if you are not familiar with these mutant guys and girls. But since the title is "X-men Origins: Wolverine", are we expecting "X-men Origins: Storm", "X-men Origins: xxx", etc.?

The part that a team of mutants were organized as a special unit serving US government reminded me of Watchmen. But there are two guys look not that like mutants: Wade (a.k.a Deadpool, played by Mr. Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds) and Agent Zero (played by a German-Korean hearthrob Daniel Henney, a real hearthrob for Korean drama fans!). To me they are just well-trained sword player and shooter, respectively...

The reasons that I called this movie "luxiousness" are:
  1. There are so many nice-looking guys playing small roles in this movie: Wade, Agent Zero, Gambit, etc. Every single one of them is worthy a B-class movie (actually Ryan Reynolds led his own B-class shot Definitely... Maybe already). But here they just played the "green leaves" surrounding Hugh Jackman, with very limited screen time and even more limited lines. Is it because that their paycheck is smaller now during the recession?
  2. There are so many splendid mutants like diamond skin, laser eyes, etc., but the movie focused on a series of WWF-like dogfights between Sabretooth and Wolverine...

Talking about Sabretooth and Wolverine, are you sure they are just "back-to-back" instead of "brokeback"? *_*

Friday, May 1, 2009

Saigon to HCMC (6)

Notre-Dame and Central Post Office are two "traditional" buildings you will find in major European cities that of tourists' interests. Here in HCMC, you will find them also, and again, in French style.
Notre-Dame looks just like any other Notre-Dames you can find in Germany and France. Actually it was designed by French, and even all the materials (bricks, glasses, etc.) were shipped from France. Crazy French ppl...

The Central Post Office is still a post office now, open daily till 5pm. Besides the normal post service, you can find some souvenir store inside. Stamp sets sold in these stores are much more various than those shops @ Pham Ngu Lao.

Talking about souvenirs, I found some very interesting things:These caps are made of cola tins!

The History Museum of HCMC is listed as "must-visit" in my tour guide book. Well, if you have no idea in Chinese culture and interested in some "exotic" things, it might be a "must-visit". But tell you the truth, the items exhibited in it are not of much value, most probably this is not the capital after all...
One highlight of the History Museum is a small water puppet show theatre in it. The water puppet show is unique to Vietnam, so worth to watch one with cost of around US$3.
There is another water puppet show theatre in downtown also, can check with the travel agencies.