Monthly Archives:April 2011

More than Thunder and Fury

29 Apr , 2011,
Crimson
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If you’ve been following Marvel movies in the past couple years, then you’ll know pretty much just what to expect. The Thor movie, one of the last to be screened before the Avengers hits the big screen, is just as formulaic.

It’s a regular  action adventure, with a slapped on dash of romance, a stab at comedy, and plenty of glitzy special effects. Yet despite it’s routine  script and simple premise, it has its high points, thanks to industry veteran Kenneth Branagh’s direction, as well as a cast that’s not half bad.

Thor’s tale begins with his meteoric rise as Asgard’s golden boy – a blonde haired, blue eyed, and likely brain-dead warrior, who loses it all when he leads a force of warriors into Jotunheim, the frozen kingdom of the frost giants,  jeopardizing a millennium old truce between the two worlds.

Stripped off his power, he is banished to earth so he could learn how to play better with others,  but his first run-in with a mortal – the astrophysicist Jane Foster (who, naturally, ends up as his love interest), proves to be the catalyst for his growth and development from just another beefcake with a big hammer into a real hero.

While the pacing of the story plodded along at times (especially when Thor’s just sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing), it was interspersed with enough intrigue and theatrics to keep the things going.

It helped, too, that the actors were as competent as they were. Chris Hemsworth played a convincing Thor, Hollywood doyen Anthony Hopkins was just brilliant as Odin, and Tom Hiddleston, heretofore an unknown, was a suitably conflicted and tortured Loki. The Warriors Three (or perhaps The Three Stooges) were played for laughs, and there were enough in-jokes and bits of humor (some self-deprecating) that helped to polish the script’s otherwise dull edge.

There’s not a whole lot to complain about visually.  Character designs and costumes were true to the comic books, and made even better by the dynamic nature of film. Special effects and CG too were used effectively, and these touches formed the proverbial icing on the comic book cake.

The worlds of Asgard and Jotunheim were stunning to say the least. Jotunheims icy vistas, crumbling crags, and the Lich King-esque castle of the frost giants were as breathtakingly beautiful as they were haunted and foreboding, while Asgard’s shining halls, as well as its blend of magic and technology (just watch the Bifrost activation sequence) were impressive and arresting.

Fight choreography sadly wasn’t one of the film’s stronger suits, especially if it involves more than 2 people going at it at a time. The melee between Thor’s allies and the frost giants in the first act proved messy and unnecessarily complicated, and the skirmish between the Destroyer and the Warriors Three proved no different. The final battle between Thor and Loki, at least, was better conceived, and more than just another slugfest.

Overall, though, it was a fairly decent movie, and a fair treat for the May Day weekend. It’s worth a watch, if you’re a Marvel fan.

Oh, and stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.

Free Comic Book Day!

27 Apr , 2011,
Crimson
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If you love comic books, don’t forget that there’s only less than 10 days to go before Free Comic Book Day! And Free Comic Book Day, of course, means free comics if you visit G&B at Rochor Center.

So don’t forget to mark 7th May down on your calendars, guys. There’s lots out this Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a small glimpse at some of the titles out.

FCBD 2011 Titles - Screen Cap from FCBD Official Website.

Much Ado About Sakura Fest

25 Apr , 2011,
Crimson
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Sakura Fest - Logo Image

Held over the Easter weekend, the three-day Sakura Fest promised fun, games and frivolity for fans of Japanese culture, at a fee, of course.

The event had been conceived as a means for the Singapore Flyer to raise money for the Red Cross fund in aid of Japan’s quake and tsunami victims, with stalls set up in the Flyers foyer selling an assortment of Japanese trinkets, games, knick knacks and food products.

It was also (predictably) the place for cosplayers to strut their stuff, what with a contest and all (the semi-finals and finals being held on Saturday and Sunday), an opportunity for J-rock lovers to listen to local bands performing covers of their favorite hits, and for fanboys to catch their fill of budding idol Chiroru Hoshino as well as singing sensations Sunao and Ritsuko.

Since I had the long weekend pretty much to myself (Joey was in Hong Kong doing a spot  of cosplay shopping), I decided to hit Sakura Fest on all three days, just so I could get a wholistic picture of the proceedings, to cheer some of the folks who’d attended my Cosplayers’ Roleplay Workshop on, and just chill with the Fightsaber boys,  but truth be told, there wasn’t a whole lot going on.

Not a whole lot to see and do, if you think about it. XD

There were a handful of stalls in the vicinity, selling oden (stuff stewed in a hot pot), ramen, $4 popsicles, and moscato at $5 a pop, several sad looking booths that featured Japanese hoop tossing and fishing games, and a New Age guy doing tarot readings, but that was about it.

What stole the show was obviously the cosplay contest (and the entire reason why so many people were probably there to begin with) at the Greek Theatre adjacent to the foyer. (There were also some Free Hugs peeps blundering around, but eh, I ignore them, their Scream masks, and their flagrant sword waving on principle).

It was a contest that saw more than 20 contestants grace the stage, strutting their stuff in a variety of costumes from Super Mario, Ironman, Bleach (go Ichigo!), Reborn, and a whole slew of (groan) Vocaloids. Finalists were, naturally, required to present a skit to highlight their showmanship skills on Sunday – no mean feat considering the poor acoustics at the venue.

At least the Cosplay moments...

...and idols were pretty awesome.

While the cosplay contestants put up a strong showing, the emcees (both from Akibanana) were positively cringeworthy. Their lines were trite and cliched, and the whole wussy teacher vs. domineering schoolgirl thing  just grated on me.  It didn’t help that they had no grasp of comic timing, delivery, or stage presence. They were also obviously in love with the sound of their own voice, and just wouldn’t shut up when their jokes got stale.

The idols, by comparison, were impressive, and managed to galvanize the crowd during the otagei (fan dance) components. In fact, those segments were pretty well executed, and I found myself shuffling along, even though I didn’t feel up to the whole wildly swinging thing. That, and the fact that I didn’t want to be anywhere near otakus in singlets sporting unshaven armpits. And boy, were there loads of them.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for a filler event. It was a time sink, but in a good way. Of course, there’s only one other real event to look forward to next month, and that’s License 2 Play.

So until then, folks, cheerio!

This ain't no Fairy Tale

22 Apr , 2011,
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V1K1 - Poster Art

I was invited to a screening of Tzang Merwyn Tong’s latest short film, V1K1 (pronounced Vicky) at Sinema Oldschool on Thursday.

As anyone with any inkling about the local film industry would know, Tzang’s something of an underground film maker, whose reputation was made solely on “A Wicked Tale”, a rather twisted re-imagining of the classic Red Riding Hood, so naturally, I was curious about what V1K1 had to offer.

Touted as a techno fairy tale for all the wrong reasons, it very literally discusses the presence of fairies of misfortune, composed of electrical signals, and one scientist’s obsession with them. Naturally, said scientist manages to trap the fairies, and bites off more than he can chew, there’s a lot of hoo-hah and sparkly lights, and a denouement that leaves much to be desired.

It’s apparent from the outset that the film’s a student project. The execution is botched and amateurish, and while it’s nice enough of Tzang to allow his ITE students a hand in making the film, the rawness and clear lack of polish ruins what might have been an otherwise strong concept. The lighting is wacky and inconsistent, the sound recording and engineering weak and irregular at times, and the editing sloppy.

Especially jarring, too, were the camera angles and shot lengths, which turned something sold as techno inspired and experimental, into so much visual garbage. The one saving grace is the music score, and that, at least, fulfills the techno requirement, and decently, I might add.

The script, if it can even be called that, is banal and completely unoriginal. The characters are clearly drawn from Shakespeares’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the fairy obsessed scientist Gabriel is a little too similar to Mr. Crocker from The Fairly Oddparents. Gabriel claims to have a bone to pick with the fairies for ruining his past, but there’s no flashback – no important visual reveal about just how badly the fairies  messed things up. It’s hard to take things at face value, when all you’ve got on screen are a bunch of not so pretty faces going through the motions.

The whole concept of techno fairies, too, isn’t something entirely unknown amongst gothic werepire weeaboo fanboys and New Age  pseudo mystics, and takes everything about Deus Ex Machina a little too literally. The characters, for all their exoticism and mysterious qualities, turned out to be wooden, played by actors  incapable of delivering their lines with any hint of conviction or panache. I’ve seen doorknobs act and pantomime better.

During the Q&A, Tzang evinced that he’d crafted the characters first, before the story. While I don’t decry his approach (and some stories are, in fact, character inspired), it really seems like he’s trying too hard to shoehorn something completely alien into a Singaporean context, and the cognitive dissonance that ensues simply rips the whole movie apart. While the Japanese (an example he’d aired) certainly had Godzilla and Hello Kitty, these were the byproducts of the collective cultural identity and consciousness of the Japanese people – Godzilla as a rebuttal to nuclear fears, and Hello Kitty as an icon of cute consumerism.

Sadly, fairies aren’t exactly commonplace in the local context – there are more tales about pontianak and pelesit and polong than there are about fairies, and what amount of resonance he might have possible expected out of the local audience was all too easily lost.

Simply put, watch only if you’re a supporter of local cinema, and have $4 to throw in the gutter.

If you’re a true, blue sci-fi or fantasy fan who actually knows your fairies, turn away.

You won’t find a happy ending here, I can assure you.

CosCards!

20 Apr , 2011,
Crimson
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My first CosCard, featuring my Corruptor's Raiment Warlock cosplay. XD

So after procrastinating for almost half a year, I caved and decided to get some CosCards printed.

If you haven’t guessed already, the word CosCard is an amalgamation of Cosplayer and Calling Card.

CosCards often feature said cosplayer in a defining costume and pose, and include both contact information, and sometimes interesting bits of trivia. Designs also tend to be personalized, either for the cosplayer, or the story the character is from.

CosCards are more than just a novelty. They’re handed out at cons to photographers, by way of introduction to new cosplay friends, and even traded, just as if they were cards from a collectible trading card game.

Also previewing Joey (Lord Angelus)'s CosCard. XD

It just so happens that I’ve made a limited stack of CosCards, printed on matt paper with a linen finish that I’m giving out to readers of my blog, so if you want one, leave a comment, and we’ll figure out how to send you one in the mail.

And if you live overseas, I’d love to hear from you too. I’m always keen to make friends with cosplayers from other countries and cultures, so let’s do an exchange, alright? XD

Also, for those peeps who might be wondering where I got my CosCards printed, it’s at Leadership Trading and Supply (No. 1 Sophia Road, #01-51 Peace Centre, Singapore 228149).

They’re reasonably priced, and the quality’s pretty amazing. If you’re looking to print your own CosCards, and if your stuff’s already been shopped and sized (the standard size for a name card is 9 cm x 5.5 cm, by the way), you can even get it done in under an hour!

How cool is that?

Until tomorrow, cheerio! XD

Somebody call Security

19 Apr , 2011,
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SP: The Motion Picture - Poster Art

Because I’m about to butcher a Japanese movie.

 

When I discovered that Security Police, better known as SP, was going to be dramatized as a full length motion picture, I was quite excited. Having watched the drama series, which was all about close protection – escorting VIPs, keeping an eye out for assassins, terrorists, and other nasties – I was looking forward to watching Junichi Okada (former V-6er and star of the show) flex his acting muscle on the silver screen.

Sadly, there’s little praiseworthy about the film edition, and as much as it pains me to pan something outta Sushi Land, I just gotta.

SP: The Motion Picture opens at a charity rally – a rally where psychic cop Inoue (Okada) and his fellow SP officers are posted, and in true action fashion, something dramatic happens, and there’s a foot chase. I have to admit, the chase scene was one of the highlights of the show (the entire sequence was 20 minutes long), with some excellent camera work and choreography and fighting in the face of an oncoming train (which is awesome).

However, if a film starts out that strong, then there’s an expectation that it should continue to deliver, which is where the rest of the film falls short. It soon becomes evident that Inoue’s superior Ogata is involved in an Illuminati-esque conspiracy, and after he fails to recruit Inoue to the group, bad stuff happens.

And when I say bad stuff, I mean that it’s pretty much like an escort quest in World of Warcraft, with nasties that come in phases, and that alone takes up the second half of the show.

Sad to say, while something like this might have worked on the small screen (thanks to its episodic nature, and judicious use of cliffhangers), it’s a delivery that’s sorely lacking in a movie where the screenwriter’s got to get everything all sorted out by the 93rd minute.

That meant the plot ended up being ricepaper thin, with the only thread binding the narrative together being that one conspiracy, general emo-ness, and Inoue.

The acting was kinda… meh. Meh also describes the characterization, and the lack of screen chemistry between the characters. It’s obvious somebody dropped the directorial ball on this one.

I is disappoint. :/

Cosplayers, let's roleplay!

17 Apr , 2011,
Crimson

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Today was the inaugural session of my Cosplayers’ Roleplay Workshop – a series of two-hour sessions focusing on marrying dramatic and theatrical methods with cosplay, to help cosplayers discover how using performing arts techniques can improve the quality of their presentations on stage.

The first session covered the use of Voice, and focused on voice projection, as well as pronunciation, enunciation, and diction. We also touched on emotion, with participants acting out a range of feelings from anger and confusion to disappointment and sorrow. It was an exercise with a twist though. Everyone had to pick from a stack of sealed envelopes, and some of the lines were really, really sketchy!

But trying to keep in character, and saying it with a straight face is half the fun, right?

All in all, I had a great time sharing what I had learnt from my time in drama and theatre, and I certainly hope everyone had a great time too. XD

Next session’s gonna be on the 1st of May, and we’ll be talking about integrating body language, actions, and pantomime into the mix.

So until then, cosplay friends, cheerio!

For great justice, let us learn to RP!

I can't say this with a straight face either.

Serene, Setsuko, Knife, and some improvisational theatre.

More photos from the workshop can be found on Facebook here.

An STGCC Quickie

14 Apr , 2011,
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Guess what? STGCC this year's in August! - Web Cap from STGCC Official Site

Just a quick head’s up for peeps interested in hopping down for this year’s STGCC again. If the official Facebook page is to be believed, it’s gonna be held at Suntec City from 20th to 21st August, 2011.

So mark that weekend down on your calendar, folks. I’ll be making an appearance in my Rogue costume, and maybe debuting another surprise costume just for this event.

Peeps can find out more about STGCC and it’s line-up here.

Crimson's 2011 Raiding Schedule

12 Apr , 2011,
Crimson
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2011 sure has a ton of cosplay events – hell, it’s almost as if everyone’s upped and jumped onto the cosplay bandwagon all of a sudden.

First, there was the Singapore Comifest (which is coming back again in June, even), then there’s the Big Three (SOY, Cosfest and EOY), the gaming cons (License2Play and STGCC), and a smattering of smaller cons and gigs in between.

And with so many events on the cards, that means this warlock’s gonna be helluva busy, getting his getup together for June and beyond.

What does this mean? Well, it means that I’ve got to start working out which events I’m targeting, and the kinda costumes I’ll be packing. So here’s the list, if you folks ever see me on the show floor, and wanna say hi. XD

1. License 2 Play – Warlock T5 (Day 1 & 2), Sith Inquisitor (Day 3)

2. Cosfest – Rogue T4 (Day 1 & 2)

3. STGCC – Rogue T4 (Day 1), Steampunk Victorian (Day 2)

4. EOY – Steampunk Victorian (Day 1), Rogue T4 (Day 2)

I’ll probably be doing Sith Inquisitor (from Star Wars, Expanded Universe) for the smaller events, or just geek chic casual.

One thing’s for sure though. I’ll be hanging up my staff and warlock robes for a bit after License 2 Play. It’s been a good one year, and I think it’s time I started playing my rogue alt for a little bit. XD

How about you folks? What are your cosplay plans this year? I’ve love to find out!

Cheerio!

Walking the Warlock Walk

10 Apr , 2011,
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Nothing makes a real Warlock's day like a herd of fawning sycophants (photographers). That, and the dramatic lighting. Photo courtesy of Jasper Fay.

After close to three months, I decided to pull my staff and warlock suit out of storage for the Funan Cosplay Engage competition by Movie Mania.

I figured it’d be a good opportunity for me to strut my warlock stuff again, shake some of that old grave dust off my Corruptor’s Raiment and maybe WOW the audience, what with Funan being geek heaven and all.

The competition proper kicked off at 2 pm, and I was the 5th contestant (out of a total of 21), and one of less than half a dozen actually doing game characters. The rest were the usual, run-of-the-mill Sentai TV characters, anime characters, and a token Vocaloid.

I managed to clinch one of the top ten spots (and walked away some shiny gps). so it wasn’t bad at all. I’ll post photographs from the event as I get my warlock-y mitts on them.

Until then, cheerio!