Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a sequel of Wreck-It Ralph which somehow is not called Wreck-It Ralph 2. Year 2018 has been a terrible year for sequels after the disappointing Fantastic Beasts and The Incredibles 2. Thank goodness despite all the hype, Ralph Breaks the Internet does not bomb.

It is surprising that Ralph Breaks the Internet turns out to be a good, funny, and refreshing movie despite following exactly the same formula as the first movie. I remember Wreck-It Ralph originally got all the hype from featuring cameos from various games but it turned out to be a good movie with surprising twists and outcomes. For the sequel, just replace the game character cameos to Disney Princesses. In fact, it is quite ironic that the game character cameos are more prominent in this sequel compared to the first movie in which many just pass by on the screen for brief moments.

From the trailers, there are a lot of reasons to fear that Ralph Breaks the Internet would be a shit movie. They hardly features the series' original characters such as Fix-It Felix and Calhoun as Disney Princesses do most of the advertising suggesting that Disney might be banking only on their past successes. The visualisation of the internet, as amazing as it looks, reminds people of the shitty Emoji Movie from last year.

Thank goodness in the actual movie the Disney stuff is just a small part although most of the comedy relies on making fun of the Disney Princesses' tropes. The depiction of the internet life is also funny as it reflects our daily lives on the internet aptly. That means the original material sucks which.. well.. is true. That is the problem when the main characters suck. Ralph is ok but Vanellope is just an irritating brat. Other original characters e.g. Fix-It Felix, Calhoun, Shank, Yesss are actually quite interesting and better than Vanellope.

The plot is quite weak: Ralph and Vanellope go to the internet to find replacement steering wheel for Sugar Rush arcade machine from eBay. The middle of the movie is simply all the humour and satire with the internet and Disney stuff. The build up to the climax feels too abrupt and forced and what makes it worse, it is so out of character for Ralph wanting to introduce virus to Slaughter Race just to get Vanellope to find the game boring. All along Ralph's personality is more towards kind rather than being bad, cunning, or malicious. That is quite a waste because I think the actual part of 'breaking the internet' is quite apt and there are moments that give superhero movie kind of feel. 

The friendship thingy towards the end also feels forced as the fight and reconciliation are too sudden and random. I think the whole friendship theme fails from the start as I cannot sense any good friendship or chemistry between Ralph and Vanellope. Once again the movie ends by breaking cliche with Vanellope not returning to Sugar Rush. Well, that just cements her character as an irritating brat.

Nevertheless I think Ralph Breaks the Internet is still a very enjoyable movie. Initially I expect that Disney Princesses will save a terrible movie but it turns out that they make a good movie better. I would think that the Disney stuff is just the topping although no doubt they are the stars as they do the heavy lifting of the comedy as well as the action parts. The trailers reveal almost all the scenes involving Princesses so they reduce the surprise value a little bit. If the trailers never reveal that much, I am sure we will be laughing harder.

I am pretty sure that Ralph not only breaks the internet but will also break the box office. However, I still hope Disney will end the franchise here. The plot and story are already very weak here and continuing with another sequel will just breaking the franchise. I also hope that Disney will never consider Vanellope as a Disney Princess because she sucks. Lastly, I have a big question if the frog that kisses Ralph at the end of the climax is Prince Naveen from the Princess and the Frog. Lol.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Gintama 2: Rules are Made to be Broken

I was only aware that Golden Village is playing Gintama 2 when I was searching for the ticket to watch Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald. It is surprising that the show availability is so limited considering that it started to be available only since last week (8 Nov) and because of that I just watched it although usually I avoid watching on Fridays and weekends due to more expensive ticket price.

Gintama 2 does not deviate much from the first live action movie last year: great actors, great comedy that some may consider lame, terrible CGI, and plot that does not make sense. There have been improvements which makes Gintama 2 is a more enjoyable movie after all.

The weakest improvement is in the CGI department. The CGI is exceptionally painful in the first movie because of the amanto aka the aliens. In Gintama 2, the CGI is most obvious during the fight scenes. The fight scenes are actually cool and the actors do great while the CGI ruins it. Jeez.. CGI should enhance fight scenes but unfortunately the CGI is jarringly bad here as if the film makers did not even bother to make the CGI blend better with the live action. 

The plot is still quite weak but easier to follow and less confusing than the first movie. The earlier part of this movie is essentially for the sake of laughter as it does very little for the overall plot other than to introduce new characters, the shogun and Kamataro Ito, as the later part of the movie requires them. Ito wants to take over Shinsengumi and is basically made use of by the real antagonist, Shinsuke Takasugi since Shinsengumi is protecting the shogun whom Takasugi wants to kill.

The returning actors are still great and the new actors are equally great to capture the lameness, ridiculousness, and over-the-top comedy. Without these actors and the comedy, the movie will just be a gone case. The comedy goes full throttle right from the beginning with Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura discussing the success of the first movie and then teasing Shun Oguri (who plays Gintoki) who never won Japan Academy Prize while Masaki Suda (who plays Shinpachi) won it last year. The running gags referencing Shun Oguri's other movies/roles and the parodies of other animes (Evangelion and Totoro just to name a few) did not fail to make the whole cinema laughed. The star of the comedy, however, is hands down Yuya Yagira who plays Toshiro Hijikata. As a plot to take over Shinsengumi, Hijikata is planted with a chip to turn him into an otaku so initially he repeatedly switches personality between the serious Hijikata and the otaku before eventually the otaku personality becomes more prominent. All the otaku jokes and stereotypes definitely hit the correct notes from the otaku audience too.

In midst of all the comedy and the things that don't make sense, there are still some touching moments with the Shinsengumi arc. I think the movie does well representing the manga/anime feel with interspersing the comedy, touching moments, action, serious moments, and parts that actually drive the plot quite well. The changes of atmosphere still feel natural or anime/manga-like and manage to avoid being abrupt, awkward, or lame.

Usually I feel happy and light on Fridays but somehow I feel so down and emo the whole day. I was contemplating whether to rest early or to watch just now and I am really glad that I decided to watch. I had good laughing session and it was therapeutic. I am very surprised that I enjoy Gintama 2 much more than the first one. Looking back, I think the first movie is somewhat cringe-y. Perhaps it introduces and de-sensitises me to Gintama gag style and that familiarity enables me to enjoy Gintama 2 more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Compared to Harry Potter series, many find the first Fantastic Beasts movie not that fantastic. Yet I still find it enjoyable with like-able characters and pretty nice approach of featuring the beasts (to match the title) and still have the plot on Grindelwald coming a long. Since the first trailer for the Crimes of Grindelwald was released, I am so excited and hyped for the movie. I just watched it and sadly I have to agree with critics who say that this is just a cash grab to milk the success of Harry Potter.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is a huge disappointment. The story is weak and the characters seemingly do things and make decisions any good reasons. Why is everyone suddenly interested in finding Credence? They do not even seem surprised and wonder how Credence survived and end up in Paris. Why do Queenie and Jacob go to London? How does Queenie turn upside down from her character in the first movie? I can go on and on with other characters. So it feels like these are just being randomly put together to make the story happen. In fact, I don't sense any threat from Grindelwald and any motivation from the characters to stop him. That is supposed to be the main plot driving the story, isn't it?

There are so many characters that it is difficult to keep track and the movie does not even bother to introduce who these people are to begin with. Sadly the characters are underdeveloped and the potential of having interesting characters end up becoming a crowded movie with forgettable characters. Even the 4 main characters from the first movie do not feel like main characters here.

The revelation that Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore and hence possibly Albus Dumbledore's brother is shocking since it is established in Harry Potter that Dumbledore's siblings are Aberforth and Ariana. I hope JK Rowling ultimately has a good plot twist regarding this Aurelius. If this turns out to be some retcon, I think she is just destroying the whole Harry Potter universe that is already perfectly crafted before all this Fantastic Beasts mess.

I think they can drop the 'Fantastic Beasts' tag for the subsequent movies. I already find not enough creatures in the first movie and they are almost non-existent in this movie. Some are simply squeezed in just to fulfil the title that there are beasts in the movie.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is supposed to be darker than the first movie but thanks to the poor story, I don't see any conflict or any climax in the movie. There is hardly any nice action/fight scenes. The escape of Grindelwald is underwhelming and the supposedly climactic showdown ends up as boring CGI with no fight whatsoever which is even worse than anime or cartoon fight scenes.

Clearly I am very disappointed with the movie and I cannot even find one good thing that I like from the movie. I was so eager to get the screenplay book, the book on the movie making, and the wands after the first movie but I am feeling none of this now. In my opinion, there is no story, no action, no magic, and nothing fantastic from Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Digimon Adventure tri

Digimon Adventure tri (subsequently I will say it as Digimon tri to make it simpler) is a sequel of Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Digimon. It is a series of 6 movies in Japan but is released online as an 26-episode anime for international market. The first movie was released in 2015 and although I was excited with the initial news, I could not be bothered about it. Firstly I find the graphics to be disappointing as it feels as if it is completely different anime from the the original series. I know the kids are growing up and so on but the style is just so different that it feels like different characters altogether. Thank goodness the digimons are still as cute. Secondly, I wanted to wait until the whole series is done and watch. I normally cannot stand waiting a week in between episodes and imagine waiting 6 months in between the movies. Time flies and suddenly it has been 3 years. I thought I was very late but that was not the case. The last movie was only released in Japan this May and the English version was only out in September.

Digimon tri is a perfect example of creators taking advantage of nostalgia from old series. As a sequel, the story is weak and sort of butchers the original storyline. I can tolerate bad stories and simply enjoy the characters and digimons. The thing that upsets me as a whole is the inclusion of Meiko Mochizuki. It ruins the original series to suddenly have an additional Digidestined who is never mentioned before. Not to mention that she is boring and adds nothing to the team dynamic so her presence is completely unnecessary.
I completely forgot about this but this is another reason why Meiko should not be introduced in the first place!

It is nice to see how the DigiDestined are teenagers now who not as innocent as last time and have to start thinking about real life consequences. The biggest bummer is the character development for Taichi and Yamato, supposedly the 2 most prominent characters that we can consider as the team leaders. I feel that their character development is mixed out. Taichi is the one more hot-headed and with the crest of courage but in Digimon tri, he is more wary of fighting because of worries with destruction in the real world. Yamato should be the one more cool headed but in Digimon tri, he is more eager to fight. Thank goodness the rest is not out of their original personalities: Sora still takes care of her friends (and sometimes neglects herself), Koushiro is still the computer geek, Joe initially struggles if he should prioritise his real life (exams and all that) or fighting, and Mimi is becoming less selfish and is nice to see her very warm towards Meiko. With Taichi and Yamato so badly written, I think Takeru and Hikari deserve special mention for being more mature and level headed.

It is unfortunate that the crests seem to be thrown out of the story entirely. In the original anime series, we only get see Agumon and Gabumon evolve to their Mega level. Gomamon and Palmon are the first two to evolve to their Mega level in tri when Joe and Mimi overcome their personal struggle and somehow show the values corresponding to their crests. After them, the writers do not even bother writing something similar for Mega evolution of the others and Biyomon and Tentomon's Mega evolution feels like simply it is their turn. Without the crests thingy and if the Digimons can simply digivolve when they want or need to, we might as well do without the DigiDestined as the kids literally do not do anything, well except Koushiro who is the only one actually does something important to solve the issue with his computer abilities. Still about the crest, Meiko does not have any and that is another reason for her unnecessary presence.

With tri being a sequel of the original Digimon series, we definitely cannot run away from Digimon Adventure 02 which is also a sequel of the original series. They are not the focus in tri and they are being 'removed' from the story in a very lazy manner. It does not make sense (or perhaps because the story does not even bother to explain) how they know more about Yggdrasil's plan without involving the others. When they disappear and are uncontactable, the rest of the Digidestined does not show any hint of worry. It is so weird, especially for Takeru and Hikaru to do nothing about it since they are part of the Adventure 02 team after all.

Maki Himekawa and Daigo Nishijima are introduced as members of the very first or original DigiDestined even before Taichi and friends. The original DigiDestined has been hinted in the original series so a bit more revelation on them here is pretty nice. My biggest issue is with Maki Himekawa. I can understand her struggle but I find it super stupid that after researching information on rebooting the Digital World for years, she does not know that all the Digimons will lose their memory while the other DigiDestined are aware of this fact. Gosh! Sorry but I can't empathise when she is shocked that her partner, Tapirmon, cannot remember her and then she falls into depression etc.

Another proof of poorly planned story line is the pacing of the story. Whether we view the episodes as movies or as anime, the pacing feels very haphazard. As movies, it is quite obvious that there are some parts which are just fillers and there are the action parts. When this is converted to the episodic format for the anime, it makes some episodes completely fillers and some are the story or action parts. Either way, there is a problem with the pacing and I can't help feeling bored. I will suggest to watch as the movie format since the episodic format does not really have the feel of continuity between an episode to the next.

Enough of the bad things and lets move on to the good things. One thing for sure: do not under estimate the power of nostalgia. I can overlook all the things I dislike simply because of the nostalgia. While the children are maturing, their partner digimons are still like their old selves. Some will find it irritating, childish, and may not fit the overall dark atmosphere of tri but I think it actually makes more sense that the digimons do not 'grow'. That makes the reunion more touching as it really feels like the DigiDestined are meeting their old friends. This bond between them is what makes tri so touching. I am not ashamed to admit that there are a lot of parts that made me cry such as the first time they reunite and when they have to reboot the Digital World with the partner digimons lose their memories and they start befriending all over again.

I also like the depiction of the real world in tri, especially the use of actual real life locations in Odaiba. Having been to Odaiba a few times and recognising the landmarks make it even more exciting to see these places being depicted. I don't know why they have to 'mask' the name of the real life locations and yet they omit the 1/1 Gundam outside the Diver City. Haha.. I can't help to think if really monsters are appearing in Odaiba, someone will ride their Gundam to fight. Lol. The second movie features the visit to Oedo-Onsen Monogatari. Now I know why last time there was a collaboration between Digimon and Oedo-Onsen Monogatari. Sigh if only I was 'into' this much earlier, I would visit Japan to see. Sadly the real life onsen is not as nice as what tri depicts. Haha.. I had the interest to visit but after reading the reviews, I actually changed my mind a few times and have never visited it.

The connection with the real world also extends to the 'fan-service'. It is interesting to see jokes related to the pairing that digimon fans often have such as Taichi x Sora x Yamato and Takeru x Hikari although we already know what happen in the official epilogue. They even include Taichi x Yamato and Yamato x Takeru moments. In fact, Takeru teasing Yamato for being his number 1 or more important than his 'girl friends' happens more than once.

Listening to the songs that we love as kids is very nostalgic. It makes it really sad as well to know that Wada Koji had passed away. When we remember Digimon, we definitely cannot forget the iconic Butter-Fly and Wada Koji. Despite more 'misses' than 'hits', I think the nostalgia elements are played, or exploited, really well. Nevertheless, overall I think Digimon tri is a nice tribute to Wada Koji and is definitely a project that he will be proud of.

Apparently there is a movie planned for 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary and I am praying hard it will be better than than tri.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wasted Saturday

I finally started watching Digimon Adventure tri after getting the memorial book. I miss artbooks like this as it features the illustrations from various magazines although unfortunately some are on half pages instead of a full page per illustration. The book has 98 pages and the price is very reasonable at 1000JPY. In fact the shipping is so expensive at 750JPY although kudos to Amazon.jp for the 3 days delivery. I won't say much about Digimon Adventure tri yet because I am only done with 3 episodes or 3/4 of the first movie but so far I think the nostalgia and the fact that these kids are teenagers now are handled nicely.

So last month I missed going for the church young adults group because the bulletin was removed and I did not know the room and the timing. Today I set my mind and prepared myself to just be thick skin. I reached the door but I cowered and made a U-turn. Haiz.. I am surprised how I was so thick skinned for RCIY last time and yet I was so scared now. Is it because lack of goal now? Or is it because I am worried of how weird church people are? Sigh.. I don't know..

After the U-turn, I ended up going to Orchard for Pokemon Go community day. Barely 5 minutes into the event, the game was down. Lol. So I ended up exploring Orchard Road for the Christmas decorations. Hehe.. I asked a friend to help me take pictures after he is back from his holiday so I surveyed the places first. It was still early at 1130 and there were already people taking photos T_T I could not beat those little kids lah.

Here are some "sneak peek" photos as I plan to go earlier tomorrow to try my luck if I can take photos without other tourists. Lol. 
Ariel's face looks so weird
Can go inside and sit inside the coach
Minnie is not as popular as Mickey
Poor Elsa is only a cardboard
While Sven gets a statue T_T
Taken in a rush in between people who were queueing to take photo with Olaf
There are still Donald & Daisy, Mickey alone, and Mickey & Minnie together which I did not take the pictures as they are the more popular characters with people queueing for them. The official light up is this evening so I will need to come down a few more times to experience the evening lighting as well. Wooo I have never felt so excited with the Orchard Road Christmas decoration. Haha..

My diet tea from Donki is also not available so it was a wasted trip today. Thank goodness I am still lucky enough to catch 1 shiny cyndaquil on my way home. It feels more shiok to catch 1 best shiny than to catch many need improvement shinies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Shiok public holiday

Finally public holiday feels like a true holiday. Gone are the days worrying about pre- or post-PH load or worrying about people faking MCs and lying to negotiate urgent leaves. I am basically chilling out since yesterday evening to catch up with my games. I am running out of money for Tsum Tsum and I am so far behind for the FF Mobius collaboration event with FF X which will end at the end of this month.

This morning I properly researched for my holiday plan next year and it is unbelievable that the air ticket price to Europe is almost as expensive as 5D/4N vacation plan at Disneyland Paris. I still want to go though because it has been more than 5 years since I went there and there are more opportunities for character photos. It is the visa application that turns me off as I am very lazy to do the forms.

Deliveroo is becoming even better to support my slack life when I do not have any need to travel outside. The minimum amount per order has been removed (although some eateries still have this $12 minimum) and delivery fee is free for Deliveroo Plus subscription. These essentially remove the barriers that previously deter me from ordering too frequently namely to meet the $12 minimum and the difficulty to find 1 place to order which has good food and drinks. Now I can simply order food from 1 place and drink from another place. I am pretty sure since both changes were implemented, I have spent much more and gained much more weight.

That brings me to comparison with Honestbee. I knew about this since it began when I got a flyer at Holland Village. I never bothered to try since I already have Deliveroo account and I do not want to have so many accounts for similar purpose. That is a right decision as Honestbee is quite a shit company. Honestbee has Habitat near my workplace and I gave it a try when it just opened. That was how I was introduced to the horrible service. My order was cancelled after waiting for half an hour and the refund was not immediate. After waiting for a week, I contacted them and was told that something was wrong which caused my refund not processed yet. Well I don't care since to me it feels more like dishonestly. In the first place, why is the refund not immediate when the shop rudely cancelling my order because they were not able to cope with the load? Lame. The concept of Habitat is cool and futuristic: ordering and payment are done through the apps but it will be wasted if the company is not improving. I am not surprised that the reviews in Google is mostly 1 star so my sentiment is clearly shared by many others.

I am sad that I have decided to suspend my gym membership for a month. I did not go for the past 1 week as last Monday, my left knee was suddenly very painful even when I just placed my hand on top of it. There was no redness or swelling, just the pain upon contact. On Tuesday, the pain completely moved to my right knee. According to my aunt, likely the problem was with my back. Hmm.. it had to be because of the 12 sets of lunges and 12 sets of deadlifts on the preceeding Saturday. So after a week of rest, I decided to see if things were okay yesterday. While there was no pain, I am sure the lunges was the culprit. Then I woke up with back ache this morning. So it is pretty telling that I have injured myself and it is best to wait and give myself time to recover. Gotta watch and control my diet really carefully now :(

Friday, November 2, 2018

Consultancy work

I get a taste of consultancy work this week. My boss is away and I got arrowed to represent her to meet an external partner. This IT company is preparing for a healthcare IT system and thus partner with my current company for the healthcare advice.

A part of me feels blessed that even though I am barely 1+ month old in this company, I receive the trust to be involved in this kind of thing. Another part of me feels that I still have a long way to go. During the first meeting on Tuesday, I felt awkward with all the introduction with the strangers and I think I am not someone who likes that kind of superficial pleasantries. I am a perfectionist and when I do not have 100% understanding of the material, I feel very self-conscious and lose confidence with myself. I need to learn and accept that noone has 100% knowledge and understanding for everything and I should have more confidence in myself since after all given the circumstances, I am actually the most familiar person with the materials although that familiarity is not 100%. Nonetheless, I cowered with the possibility of having to present a part for the actual tendering presentation on Monday and I told my boss to save me. Thank goodness the management eventually decided that our company should not be involved in the tendering as it may present a conflict of interest. After all, we are being approached for the advice/consultancy and not as a joint partner for the tender.

The political side of me actually felt irritated because during the CV submission, they looked down on me and my outpatient experience (as expected). So after not submitting my name as the consultant, why never ask the other person to go on my boss' behalf since her name is submitted? But never mind, I do not want to think too much over politics at work and I shall just enjoy 3 days out of office this week for the meetings with the IT company. Hehe..

Now I am very worried if they blame me if they lose tender sia.. I shall pray this Sunday that they get the tender and subsequently want me as the consultant la. Lol. Please God T_T