Category Archives: Anime & Movies

Catching The Avengers: Age of Ultron with Subway Singapore

22 Apr , 2015,
Crimson
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The Subway brand has always been pretty forward looking with their marketing, having supported fashion shows, concerts and independent film makers. That’s why we weren’t surprised, and were even a little impressed when Subway Singapore decided to work the pop-culture angle.

Apart from releasing a hilarious TVC featuring their latest tuna bacon melt, the company also called upon fans to partake of an online contest to win tickets to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Cosplayers were also invited to attend the screening in costume (kudos to the good folks at Here Be Geeks for making this happen), and all in all, this made for a pretty interesting evening.

Superfans and cosplayers mingled at the event area just before the screening.

Superfans and cosplayers mingling at the event area just before the screening.

We spotted some of our cosplay friends in the mix.

We spotted some of our awesome cosplay friends. Sadly, Ultron didn’t put in an appearance. 🙁

As for the movie proper, we’re going to give you the lowdown and hopefully keep it as spoiler-free as possible.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to 2012’s big hit, and picks up following the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tired of all the fighting and hoping to create a lasting peace, Iron Man Tony Stark decides to mess with powers beyond his ken and this leads to the creation Ultron, a sentient peace-keeping software.

The program soon runs-amok, and the team comprising Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Thor have to band together to stop him. Along the way they encounter Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch), and in true comic book fashion, the good guys eventually win but at great cost.

Needless to say, the movie is formulaic. It fits the mould of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies to a T and is laden with action, top-notch CGI and special effects (we especially loved the Hulkbuster moments). Hardcore comic book fans might notice that Ultron’s origin story deviates from the original, but that’s something I’d forgive considering everything else.

For an ensemble movie with such a large cast, Joss Whedon does a brilliant job of telling the story. The pacing, even if it’s a little forced at times, also kind of worked in his favor.

The film opens in-media-res with a massive raid on a Hydra base in Sokovia, and the action doesn’t really let up. That’s why I’m especially glad for the small pockets of peace and contemplation that take place between the fighting and explosions.

These scenes give more emphasis to characters like Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (whom I’d like to call the most death-flagged character in MCU history), and helped develop the burgeoning romance between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanov.

Fans of course can also expect easter eggs galore, and more than a few tie-ins to happenings in other franchises (such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D). There was plenty of foreshadowing as well, and we know for a fact that The Avengers are all set for The Infinity War when it releases in 2018.

Overall, it’s a great geek fix for this weekend.

If you haven’t yet, check out the trailer below:

Terror in Resonance Preview

10 Jul , 2014,
Crimson
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Key visual 1

Schoolyard terrorists and their unwilling accomplice.

I have to confess that I’m something of an elitist when it comes to anime.

I pick series for concept and auteurial direction rather than cheesy character designs (flat-chested moeblob girls and overly whiny boys of destiny with chips on their shoulders simply don’t appeal to me), and that’s why I’m always excited when something existential comes along and bucks the trend each season.

Zankyō no Teroru, or Terror in Resonance, is one of the latest offerings by Shinichiro Watanabe, a director whose illustrious pedigree includes the classic Cowboy Bebop (1998) and Samurai Champloo (2004). Joining forces with him is renowned composer Yoko Kanno, who composes both the OP and ED.

The series takes place in an alternate history Tokyo, playing out as a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between two teenaged terrorists and the police. Thanks to the media preview by the great folks at Aniplus HD yesterday, I caught not ONE, but TWO episodes and I’m now hooked.

Without giving too much of the plot away, Terror in Resonance touches on some very real issues – bullying, peer pressure, stereotyping in the traditional Japanese system – woven seamlessly into the requisite cloak and dagger style meta.

Check out the official promo video here:

Terror in Resonance will premiere on ANIPLUS HD on 21 July 2014, every Monday, 11pm. ANIPLUS HD will be simulcasting the series, bringing the anime to South East Asia screens during the same period as Japan, one new episode each week.

Catch this latest anime series first and exclusively on ANIPLUS HD available on:

• Singtel mio TV Ch340, on Demand at Ch341, and

• Toggle.sg

Japanese Arts Fiesta (JAF) II

27 May , 2012,
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JAF II - Promo Poster.

Dunman High School’s Japanese Arts Fiesta (JAF) marks its return next Saturday, with the campus transformed into a playground for cosplayers and fans of Japanese animanga alike.

Helmed by the Yutaka Japanese Cultural Club (DHS YJCC) this year, the event promises more fun and excitement thanks to a the new team promises more fun and excitement, as well as a plethora of stage and fringe activities to whet your pop-culture palate.

Highlights include a maid & butler cafe, a haunted house, a cosplay runway competition, song & dance performances, game stalls, vendor booths, and a studio set-up where cosplayers can be photographed.

Event Details

Date: 2 June 2012

Time: 11 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Venue: Dunman High School (DHS), 10 Tanjong Rhu Road, (S) 436895 (map link here)

Tickets: General admission is free. Tickets are required for the Maid/Butler Cafe ($10) and Haunted House ($2).

Don’t forget to check out the JAF Facebook page for more updates and details!

Marvel's The Avengers

4 May , 2012,
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The Avengers - Poster Art.

After banging out so many superhero movies, you know that sooner or later, Marvel’s going to get their formula right. And true enough, they’ve got it spot on with The Avengers, which I had the opportunity to catch when the team was invited to the grand re-opening of the newly renovated and refurbished GV Jurong Point on Tuesday.

It’s an amazing piece of work that’s set to give you a total geekgasm – there’s a grab bag of heroes, dynamic action sequences that look like they popped right out of a comic book, stunning visual effects, and witty banter (yes, witty banter).

Director Joss Whedon (of Buffy fame) is certainly no stranger to the world of comic books (with his writing credits in the Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, and a whole bunch of Eisner nominations), and his style works wonders for something that might have been incredibly hard to pull off – it’s already difficult enough to deal with one larger-than-life character. When you have six (and one diva of a villain), that’s when things get a little tricky.

Needless to say, Whedon’s script rises to the occasion, framing the Earth as a world on the verge of destruction by a race of shadowy, techno-organic aliens.  Said aliens are hovering just out of reach, and the very smarmy Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has cut a deal to be their herald.

Loki emerges in a S.H.I.E.L.D facility, “burdened with glorious purpose”, proceeds to happily massacre or brainwash the people around him, steals the proverbial macguffin, and kickstarts what’s arguably the most entertaining cinematic romp I’ve had the pleasure of watching in the past half-year.

One of the things that really stood out was the dialogue. It was superbly written and mostly intelligent (I was kinda imagining them in little speech balloons like in a comic book), and the story, which culminates in the near total destruction of midtown Manhattan by inter-dimensional invaders was just plain win.

Sure, there might be a few familiar scenes (some elements of the opening are strangely reminiscent of Buffy’s Season 7 finale), but Whedon’s a genius when it comes to creating spectacle and you’ve just gotta give it to him.

Similarly, the all-star cast was pretty good at their game. Robert Downey Jr. was remarkable as Iron Man as usual, while Mark Ruffalo, as Dr. Bruce Banner, held his own with a convincing performance as the troubled geneticist with anger management issues. Samuel L. Jackson was great as Nick Fury (as usual, since he’s Samuel Mother F*ckin’ L. Jackson), though I felt the others could have used a little more intensity. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye didn’t leave much of an impression though (and he didn’t shoot any aliens in the knee either), and Scarlett Johanssen’s Black Widow… well, I just gotta say I’ve seen better femme fatales elsewhere.

I was also impressed by Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. Coulson’s a character that grows on you, and if you’ve been following his antics in the past few Marvel flicks, then I can bet you that he’s going to grow on you even more by the end of The Avengers.

The sound effects were great thanks to the cinema’s new Dolby 7.1 sound system and EAW speakers, and the plush seats made the experience really, really comfortable. There was also ample leg-room and the way the stadium-style seats were tiered meant I didn’t have to worry about “floating heads” getting in the way of the action.

We also got wind that GV Jurong Point was holding a buncha promotions to commemorate their re-opening, so if you do wanna watch The Avengers, and get your hands on some freebies at the same time, do check it out.

From now till 23rd May, their daily offers include:
  • Monday: Free coke drink with purchase of one large popcorn
  • Tuesday: $2 for two cheesy hotdogs (usual price $4)
  • Wednesday: All-day student pricing and $2 off on Nachos combo
  • Friday & Saturday: Free late-night parking at Jurong Point Shopping Centre
  • Sunday: Complimentary restaurant vouchers with every pair of tickets purchased before 2.00pm

That’s not half bad, if you think about it.

In any case, go see The Avengers movie.

It’s definitely worth your while and then some.

ICDS: A celebration of cosplay and pop-culture diversity

1 May , 2012,
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International Cosplay Day Singapore (ICDS) is less than four months away, and as we promised in a previous post, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s festivities!

1. Event Theme

ICDS 2012 celebrates “Cosplay & Pop-Culture Diversity”. It’s an all-inclusive convention that transcends barriers by immersing convention goers in an eclectic fusion of Eastern and Western pop-culture elements.

2. Event Details & General Ticketing Information

Date: 26 August 2012

Time: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Venue: Blk 68, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Convention Center (check out the NP campus map here)

Tickets: $5 (available from July 2012 via www.gatecrash.com.sg, various event partners, and at the door).

3. Guests-of-Honor

This year’s special guests include U.S. based cosplayers Ms. Yaya Han & Ms. Jerry Polence, who will be visiting Singapore for the very first time, Mr Jay Tablante from the Philippines, and the cast and crew of COSPLAY: The Series from Indonesia.

Ms. Yaya Han is a household name in the global cosplay scene. She has more than a decade of experience as a cosplayer, and her costumes have won awards and acclaim throughout the U.S. She has been invited to appear as a Guest, Panelist, Judge, Performer and Host to over 100 conventions and other events all over the world.

Website: www.yayahan.com

Similarly, Ms. Jerry Polence is a U.S. based Filipina cosplayer, model, and blogger with an impressive international following. She has been in the cosplay scene since 2004, and has been featured extensively in various media.

Website: www.polence.com

Known in pop-culture circles as “The Geek with the Camera”, internationally acclaimed cosplay photographer Mr.Jay Tablante has collaborated with D.C. and Marvel to produce some of the most iconic and daring images in comic book cosplay of all time.

Website: www.jaytablantephotography.com

The cast and crew of COSPLAY: The Series will also be at ICDS, where they will be filming COSPLAY: The Series Singapore Special. They will also be performing at the event, and opening Singapore’s 2nd Annual Cosplay Chess.

COSPLAY: The Series started as a web series in 2011 and has since grown into a content and performance franchise. The team behind it calls themselves the Q-Cosushinkai Project, a congregation of unique and talented cosplayers, performers, musicians, artists, writers, designers, and filmmakers. COSPLAY: The Series has since signed on to a professional artist management contract with PT NAGARAJA FMFE NUSANTARA to boost its professionalism in delivering the best possible content to its fans.

Website: www.cosplaytheseries.com

 4. Cosplay Competition & Cosplay Catwalk

Cosplayers of both Eastern and Western pop-culture titles are invited to join the Cosplay Competition at ICDS.

Registration for the Cosplay Competition is open from now till 30th July 2012, and contestants stand to win cash prizes sponsored by our partners Anibee and Paradigm Infinitum. You can view the full details of the competition here.

You could also strut your stuff on stage in our Cosplay Catwalk. Check out how you can dazzle the stage here.

5. Artists’ Alley, Dealers and Sponsor Booths

Adding to the carnival-like atmosphere is the Artists’ Alley, myriad Dealers and Sponsor Booths.

Ms. Yaya Han and Mr. Jay Tablante will be holding signings at their booths at selected time slots, and fans can partake of a wide variety of pop-culture products.

(And if you’re interested in registering for an Artists’s Alley booth, do check out this page for more details!)

6. Singapore’s 2nd Annual Cosplay Chess

This year’s theme for Cosplay Chess is East & West, pitting characters from popular Japanese animation, games and manga against their counterparts from American comic books, games, movies and novels.

Some popular characters that will take to the stage this year include King Tryndamere from League of Legends, Sara Pezzini from Witchblade, Big Sister from Bioshock 2, Joker from The Batman, Gilgamesh and Saber from the Fate series, Vergil from Devil May Cry, and Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear.

With an early start this year, as well as better logistics support thanks to Ngee Ann Polytechnic and our sponsors, we expect higher production value, and greater quality overall.

We’re really excited about ICDS, and we hope you are too!

Don’t forget to keep tabs on our site and Facebook page for more exciting updates and details in the weeks to come!

Here’s to seeing you folks at the con!

Cheerio! ^_^

Announcing International Cosplay Day Singapore!

20 Apr , 2012,
Crimson
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Yes, you heard that right.

The Neo Tokyo Project is proud to be the organizers of International Cosplay Day Singapore (ICDS), in conjunction with Cosplay Chess 2012!

Supported by Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies, partners and stake-holders in the local pop-culture scene, this celebration of cosplay and pop-culture will take place at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Center on 26 August this year.

In addition to an artist’s alley, a cosplay competition, a cosplay runway where you can strut your stuff and Singapore’s second annual Cosplay Chess, we’ll also be featuring guest stars from internationally acclaimed web TV drama Cosplay:  The Series, who will be filming two exclusive episodes of the hit show at our con!

Don’t forget to check back with us for more updates and details, and be sure to look out for our official press release after May 1st!

Wrath of the Titans

29 Mar , 2012,
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Wrath of the Titans - Poster Art.

I was practically cringing when Sam Worthington played Perseus in the 2010 Clash of the Titans, but after his recent outing in the surprisingly good Man on a Ledge, I was half-expecting a decent showing.

Sadly, Wrath of the Titans, which plays fast and loose with Greek mythology, proved utterly disappointing thanks to Jonathan Liebesman’s treatment, a garbled script, and visual effects overkill.

Wrath picks up 10 years after Clash, with Perseus living an innocuous fisherman’s life in a remote village with his son Helius.

Of course, as all Hellenic myths (or in this case, a far-fetched one) goes, Perseus is visited by Zeus (Liam Neeson, though I’ll always remember him as Qui-Gon Jin),  who discloses that the walls of Tartarus are shaking because the gods’ powers are on the wane, and that a catastrophe is coming.

The hero, naturally, refuses the call to action, and only seriously gets off his ass when a monster plonks itself right smack in the center of his backyard and starts nomming on his neighbors.

What follows is a formulaic tale that’s incredibly insipid, though it’s got it’s humorous bits thanks to Toby Kebbell’s performance as the roguish Agenor.

Of course, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the folks behind the scenes had played a bit too much World of Warcraft. I mean come on. Major evil imprisoned deep beneath the earth, a world shattering disaster, and a manifestation that’s spouting fire and oozing lava? Sounds a lot like Cataclysm, ain’t it?

Don’t get me wrong. The visuals aren’t bad, and they must have spent a fortune on getting the 3-D to work the way it did (which was better than the previous film).

Yet ultimately, there’s very little going on beyond the visuals. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes’ (who plays Hades) were the two biggest names on the set, and they practically carried the show. Bill Nighy (he was Viktor in Underworld, and Davy Jones in POTC) was exceptional too, but he had all of 15 minutes of screen time. The rest of the cast pretty much played second fiddle, with Worthington’s performance being the least impressive of the lot.

Now that I’ve stepped out of the cinema and ditched my 3-D glasses, I’m wondering if this film should be renamed Wrath of the Critics. It’s a miracle the film’s passed muster at all.

Watch ONLY if you must.

The Hunger Games

23 Mar , 2012,
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The Hunger Games - Poster Art.

Many films promise a veritable buffet for movie lovers – cool visuals, competent acting, a watertight plot – and many films fall short. The Hunger Games, a big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s dystopic science-fiction novel, is no exception.

The film paints an image of a bleak future ruled by decadent corporate bigwigs in The Capitol, where the underclass toils in outlying, slum-like districts. As punishment for an insurrection, each district must offer up a pair of teenagers each year in tribute, to participate in a televised death match called The Hunger Games.

It all begins on the cusp of the 74th Hunger Games, with the protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteering as tribute in her sister’s place. Also chosen is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s boy who’s long held a torch for the spunky Katniss.

What follows is a tale that bears striking similarities to Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale, with a liberal smattering of Man vs. Wild thrown into the mix and it’s pretty much repetitive after awhile.

Katniss climbs trees, skulks in bushes, slings arrows a la Rambo, and somehow or the other, gets out of hairy situations because she’s the girl of destiny. ’nuff said. There’s a romance subplot between Katniss and Peeta, but the chemistry’s lukewarm at best, and while the film attempts to include something of a political metaplot, it gets muddled and lost in the woods really quickly.

Somehow, The Hunger Games feels like a step back for Gary Ross, whose directing credits include Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Sure, he’s managed to cobble something of a movie together,  but this one sure isn’t going to win him any awards. It’s got a long, plodding setup (which takes up at least a good half of it’s 142 minute runtime), a premise that might as well be thrown to the wolves, and while Battle Royale elevated schoolyard violence to an art form, The Hunger Games  just drops it in the gutter.

It’s apparent as well that it was Jennifer Lawrence who carried the show. Her performance as the tough-as-nails Katniss was reasonably good, though Josh Hutcherson, by comparison, was pretty much an accessory on screen. It was also a shame that the other Tributes didn’t get a whole lot of screen time, and frankly, I would have enjoyed more of Woody Harrelson’s kookiness as mentor Haymitch.

Watch if you’re curious, but I’d suggest sticking with the novel instead.

John Carter (of Mars)

8 Mar , 2012,
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Disney's John Carter - Poster Art

Disney’s been pumping out big budget hits for awhile now, so it comes as no surprise that the company would fund the gloriously pulpy romp that is John Carter.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (who helmed several Pixar projects including Wall-E), this big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs turn-of-the-century interplanetary opera casts Taylor Kitsch (Gambit in the Wolverine movie) as the titular loincloth-clad Virginian cavalry man turned swordsman, whose incredible feats on the planet Barsoom earn him the title “Warlord of Mars”.

I have to admit that as a big science fiction fan, I was rather skeptical when I sat down for the screening.†After all, the series was a seminal work, and while Carter’s many adventures were the subject of multiple comic book and small screen adaptations, few had come close to capturing the grandeur of Barsoom and it’s diverse cultures, or the tone of the original.

I didn’t have high hopes for Stanton either. He had a slew of animation experience, but Carter was his first live-action film, and directing real humans and directing a bunch of pixels were two different things altogether.

But surprise, surprise! Not only did the movie not didn’t disappoint, it was spectacular and then some.

I have to compliment Stanton’s clever juxtaposition of highs and lows. The story was a little formulaic at times, but overall, the pacing was just right. The action scenes were brilliantly lurid (with copious amounts of (blue) blood, gore and explosions), and thanks to his†grasp of dynamic camera angles and creative composition, proved generally entertaining.

The attention to fine detail was remarkable, and it showed through in the creation of pieces such as Zodanga’s crawling citadel, the sky ships, the alien creatures and elaborate costumes. †It was evident Stanton put in a 110% on this one.

In terms of acting, Kitsch’s performance was less kitschy than his last outing, while Lynn Collins (who also starred in the Wolverine movie) sizzled as not-quite-damsel-in-distress Dejah Thoris. The duo looked good together, and while their on-screen chemistry was a little lacking, there was potential there and that speaks volumes. Mark Strong’s performance as unapologetic Thern mastermind Matai Shang was also impressive, and it was a shame he didn’t get all that much screen time.

An awesome movie that’s sure to get your geek on. I’m hoping for a sequel already, and knowing Disney, it’s probably already in the works.

Ani-Buzz: The Prince of Tennis

11 Feb , 2012,
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The (Classic) Prince of Tennis - Title card

We know our readers aren’t just big on comic-books, games and movies.

They’re anime and manga addicts too! That’s why in Ani-Buzz, we’re tracking down some of anime fandom’s cult classics by the greatest Japanese directors of all time.

We’ll also have a peek at hot titles each season, courtesy of the good folks at online anime portal Anibee.tv.

In our first installment, we’re gonna hit the hard courts with The Prince of Tennis, a classic sports story that’s making a comeback thanks to the hype surrounding it’s 2012 re-make.

Also called Tenipuri for short, The Prince of Tennis revolves around elementary schooler Ryoma Echizen’s journey to become a top tennis player, but before this young prodigy can make a mark in the Japanese tennis scene, he has to contend with resentful teammates and upperclassmen at Seishun Academy.

Giving new meaning to "you got served!"

Tenipuri’s about coming of age, friendship, rivalries and growth – staples in any sports story if you think about it, and the story’s pretty standard fare. It’s rife with the over-the-top action and exaggerated (sometimes absurd) moves that define the sports genre, but unlike it’s contemporaries at the time, it does boast a fair amount of research.

Tennis fans will appreciate the creator’s use of jargon like “western grip” and “spin”, and while the art style might seem a little dated, it’s hard to forget that Tenipuri’s characters, especially the namesake protagonist, had once set the hearts of fangirls pounding in its heyday.

It’s an enjoyable watch, thanks to the quality work of the Production I.G. team, and both the OP and ED sequences were pretty jazzy.

Personally, I didn’t fancy the snippets of recycled and redundant footage that dogged the episodes, and there were some minor discrepancies in the subtitling, but it’s nothing an average viewer might notice otherwise.

Princess Bride reference, or pure coincidence? You decide.

Ultimately, it’s an evergreen title, and you’d probably want to give this series a go if you’re a fan of the sport. It’s also something worth reminiscing if you grew up with anime in the early 2000s.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Check out The (Classic) Prince of Tennis, airing now on Anibee.tv. Check out the Prince of Tennis on Anibee.tv page and Anibee.tv on Facebook for more information.