Aquaman Review: Worth Diving into this Underwater Adventure

December 23, 2018 at 6:32 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This movie review contains spoilers of the Aquaman live action film adaptation. Read at your own risk!

 

Okay, full disclosure: I used to read DC and Marvel comics as a child but I don’t exactly recall if I ever read any Aquaman comics. My exposure to Aquaman was a few glimpses of its cartoon version on TV, nothing more. So I went into the cinema this weekend to watch its live action adaptation as a movie goer more than a comics reader. Thus, I really didn’t know how much of the film’s story borrowed from the original material.

The movie Aquaman was first and foremost a visually stunning spectacle. Its underwater scenes alone made up for the fact that the movie was silly and corny at times in terms of plot and dialogue. The movie tells the story of Aquaman’s origins – how he was born from a human father and a mother who happened to be Atlanna, the queen of an underwater world called Atlantis.

Arthur Curry, as what Aquaman was called by humans, was just trying to mind his own business – helping people in trouble – when he got caught in an emerging war between Atlanteans and surface dwellers, i.e. humans. His Atlantean half-brother Orm wanted to declare war against humans for causing so much pollution in the ocean and militarizing the ocean. But in order to do so, Orm must convince at least four of the seven kingdoms under the sea to side with him and gather forces against the humans.

Mera, an Atlantean princess who first appeared in Justice League, prodded a reluctant Arthur to reclaim his birthright as the king of the seven seas. It’s worth noting the callback to Justice League in one of the scenes in the movie. This could only mean that the events that took place in Justice League happened before Arthur officially became Aquaman.

The movie’s plot was rather cliché – a typical trope I’ve seen in other movies and TV shows where a hero’s quest takes him to other parts of the world in search of clues. But like I’ve said, I don’t know how much of its plot was taken directly from the comics. Another problem I had with the movie was the dialogue. There was too much exposition in them that it sounded like the writers cramped every detail of the backstory they could in the dialogue.

Although I liked Arthur’s humor in Justice League, in Aquaman, most of the humor between Arthur and Mera fell flat. The two didn’t even have chemistry to make the romantic side of the story convincing. The sub-plot about Black Manta was unnecessary and looked more as a distraction from the main plot, which was the Atlantean war. Black Manta’s story was better off in a separate movie than this one.

While Jason Momoa’s performance as Aquaman was remarkable, Amber Heard as Mera was lacking in depth. And while I enjoyed the first half of the movie, the second half was much better. In the second half, we saw Arthur successfully take the much sought-after trident and finally became Aquaman. Aquaman’s costume in the movie looked way better than the original campy one from the comics. The sea creatures also got a modern upgrade. No longer we saw Aquaman riding on a pink seahorse. Instead, the sea creatures – from seahorses to sharks, turtles and giant crabs – were fierce and formidable.

Overall, the movie was enjoyable and still worth watching. I could only hope that the sequel (should there be one) would be better than this first installment.

 

Thought Bubbles

  • What exactly does Arthur do for a living when he’s on land and living among humans?
  • How did Orm know about Vulko’s “betrayal”? How long did he know that Vulko trained Arthur as a young boy?
  • Considering the Atlantis scenes in Justice League, did Orm and Vulko know about the mother box as well? Why were they not involved in the fight against Steppenwolf?
  • Given that there was melting lava in one of the underwater scenes in the movie, shouldn’t the water be hot and boiling then? How come Arthur and Mera didn’t seem to feel any heat from it?

Just Passing By

November 16, 2018 at 9:47 PM | Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

Some people come and go in your life. Whether they are your classmate, a work colleague or a fellow member of your organization. Some can become your friends while others can become your enemies. But there are those who come into your life merely as a life lesson and just a part of an experience. While you might have considered them initially as a friend, eventually they will leave you and move on with their life. They will not stick with you for a long time. They are just passing by.

On the other hand, I’m also the type who would cut off people from my life if I’m betrayed. Through the years, I have known many people who I used to consider as friends. But time passed by and friendships were tested. I eventually learned who can be trusted and who would betray that trust. I also learned who among them were just fair-weather friends. I already got burned by friends who only took advantage of what I could give them.

But there are also those people who I have outgrown (or have outgrown me). Others just faded away due to distance and lack of communication. I find the latter to be ridiculous because in this modern day of social media and advanced technology, anyone can be reached through various means – whether through a phone call, text message, email, Twitter DM, Facebook message, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. Unfortunately, some people just couldn’t be bothered to reach out and keep in touch.

Anyway, these people who have faded are now just part of my experience – a mere life lesson that tells me they are not meant to stay.

My Top 5 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Songs

October 27, 2018 at 9:23 AM | Posted in Music, TV | Leave a comment

I’ve been listening a lot lately to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend original soundtrack. I guess I’m enjoying the show’s music as much as I can since season 4 is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s final season before it goes off the air for good.

I admit I was rather late when I started watching this TV show. I started watching it when season 2 was already airing on TV. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a musical TV show this good. Since watching the first season, this has become one of my favorite shows on TV.

And one of the main reasons I love it is because of the musical numbers in the show. The songs featured in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are all original and co-written by the show’s co-creator Rachel Bloom. I have a lot of favorite songs from the show and it’s really tough to pick just five. But I managed to come up with a list of my top five favorites (in no particular order).

 

  1. JAP Battle

This rap song is absolutely fantastic and infectious with brilliant lyrics. It’s about a face-off between a small law firm in California and a large Manhattan law firm.

 

  1. You Stupid Bitch

There’s nothing more gut-wrenching than making mistakes and blaming yourself for them. And this song perfectly sums up what Rebecca Bunch (a.k.a the crazy ex-girlfriend in the story) is going through at the time.

 

  1. Santa Ana Winds

This is kind of a throwback to ‘60s music with its catchy tune. I never thought a song about wind can be this funny. Also, this was right about the time I’m starting to ship Rebecca with Nathaniel.

 

  1. Strip Away My Conscience

With a sound reminiscent of Chicago, this song is flirty, sexy and raunchy. Lots of shippy feels about this scene between Rebecca and Nathaniel.

 

  1. Where’s Rebecca Bunch?

This is an ensemble musical number which I really love, partly because of the period costumes featured here. I also love the contrast between the old and the new, with lyrics about Twitter hashtags while the cast were in a period setting.

Secrets and Lies

September 15, 2018 at 11:17 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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Spoiler Warning: This movie review of A Simple Favor contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!

A mommy vlogger with a secret. A femme fatale with a dark past. A has-been novelist without a clue.

These characters meet and collide in the dark comedy film, A Simple Favor.

The movie, which stars Blake Lively as pathological liar Emily and Anna Kendrick as the anxious and supermom Stephanie, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two young mothers who get tangled in deceit and crime. Both Stephanie and Emily’s sons go to the same school and are actual friends.

Stephanie is a widowed mommy vlogger who meets Emily at her son’s school one day. She is the typical suburban mom who devotes her time to her son. Emily is a successful PR head of a major brand. She has a very strong personality and lives in an extravagant lifestyle. Her husband Sean, played by Henry Golding, used to be a novelist but presently works as a professor at a local college.

What would be a simple favor from Emily turns for the worst as Stephanie later finds out the truth about her friend. Apparently, Emily is not what she seems to be.

While the movie’s plot isn’t exactly fresh (we’ve seen a lot of stories in film and TV about faking people’s death for money), it still keeps you guessing who the real villain is. Who’s fooling who? Is Sean merely a victim of Emily’s twisted games or is he an accessory to a crime?

Blake Lively delivers a powerful performance in the movie as the secretive Emily while Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie is both endearing and naive. Henry Golding as Sean is sympathetic and clueless for the most part with his own shades of gray. It’s a stark contrast to his role in Crazy Rich Asians.

What is notable in A Simple Favor is the soundtrack as it features music almost entirely in French (watch the sample music from the soundtrack above) – completely befitting the film noir atmosphere of the movie. It gives me the feeling that I’m watching a French film myself.

Granted the movie’s dark tones, it still presents itself as a light, enjoyable film with occasional laughs amidst all the intrigue.

Understanding Social Anxiety

August 9, 2018 at 9:35 AM | Posted in Musings, Psychology | Leave a comment
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I came across this recent article about introversion and social anxiety and I was just blown away by how similar my experiences were with the writer.

I have known for a long time that I’m an introvert. I was also extremely shy as a child and kept to myself most of the time. For years, I thought I inherited my extreme shyness from my mother who was also shy and an introvert. I thought that was there to it – until I found out the term “social anxiety disorder” or SAD.

I first encountered the term when a Twitter page of an American indie film followed me on Twitter a few years ago. The film was about a guy with social anxiety disorder. Out of curiosity, I looked up the term “social anxiety disorder” and was shocked to discover that I had almost all the symptoms of the disorder. All this time I thought what I was experiencing was just a result of my extreme shyness. I didn’t know that there was a psychological term for it.

I’ve been known by my friends and family as “the quiet one” and people I’ve met always have this impression of me being suplada or masungit (cold and aloof). I know some people think of me as antisocial because I don’t interact much with coworkers or mingle with other acquaintances. But they don’t know what I’m going through. They don’t know that it stresses me out just to have a small talk with them. It causes me severe anxiety whenever I have to be around people I don’t know very well. I am fearful every time I have to attend conference call meetings with colleagues from different countries. And I hate it when I’m forced to talk or present in front of people.

I am only ever talkative when I’m around with my friends. I only feel comfortable when I’m around them where I can talk about common interests. But knowing I have social anxiety is one thing; letting people know about it is another thing. For one, there is still social stigma in my country about things related to mental health. Second, most people don’t even know what social anxiety is, let alone understand it.  So it is rather difficult to tell people about it without the risk of getting ridiculed.

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