Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is the finalé to the Harry Potter saga that has spanned the last whole decade. This final part of the mega successful movie franchise ever recorded in Hollywood history continues from where the first part of this story ended - when Voldemort broke into Professor Dumbledore's tomb in Hogwarts to steal the Elder Wand, one of the three components that made up the Deathly Hallows.

Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione continue their journey to search and destroy the remaining two Horcrux objects, which each contained Voldemort's soul. However, unknown to Harry, he was also one of the Horcruxes Voldemort had not intended to create when he killed Harry's mother when she tried to protect Harry from being murdered by Voldemort.

Harry, Ron and Hermione's journey of searching and destroying the remaining Horcrux objects saw them breaking into the wizarding bank, Gringotts as well as returning to Hogwarts, where the final and ultimate battle with Voldemort took place. The battle of Hogwarts scene was the climax that I was looking forward to and it did not disappoint me. 

Not to mention the actors and actresses (apart from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) who played their respective roles to perfection. The outstanding acts worth noting are that of Dame Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort and Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. Helena Bonham Carter who played Bellatrix Lestrange has somewhat a more subdued appearance in this final installment. 

In this installment, Alan Rickman really injected a heart-wrenching and poignant moment acting as Professor Snape when his character at last was murdered by Voldemort, using the snake called Nagini. This moment came when Harry, Ron and Hermione found him breathing his last moments, as he pleaded Harry to take some of his tears in which later on revealed some of the most surprising secrets when Harry dove into the Pensieve containing those tears.

The ending of the story (not the scene at Platform Nine and Three-quarters nineteen years later) was quite disappointing when it showed only Harry breaking the Elder Wand and threw it over the cliff from the bridge of the Hogwarts castle. It would have been better had the director of the movie followed the book, i.e. the scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione were talking to the portrait of Professor Dumbledore in the Hogwarts' Headmaster's office, and that Harry repaired his holly and phoenix tail-feather wand using the Elder Wand. 

Overall, the movie is really good, I would give it 4.5 stars for it. The really good portrayal of the main characters (must be because it is the very last one in the mega successful movie franchise) and the right climax scene (the battle of Hogwarts) made up for some of the disappointments I have for the movie. However, for people who love the movies more the books, they should wait a little longer for the complete DVD set, I guess to be released towards the end of this year.

As for me, I would still prefer the books, especially where the details and intimate nuances of the story not shown in the movies are concerned. The movies are great to complement the books but since they were adapted from the books, the real deal would still those books themselves. The movies would do very well to help readers appreciate the story better because the visualisation effects were absolutely well done as always by Hollywood.

Now as the post Pottermania kicks in, even I could feel the emptiness of not being able to anticipate any more dramatisation of the Harry Potter saga. Even though the movies would not be able to outclass the books, they definitely created an extraordinary phenomenon rarely experienced in the movie industry in the past. Thus, if I ever want to relive the Harry Potter saga over and over again, then I should first turn to the books and then only to the complete DVD set.               

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jeanette Aw - the Mediacorp Singapore artiste is a force to be reckon with

I have never paid so much attention to drama series shown on the television until of late. Especially where the Mandarin drama series produced by Singapore's Mediacorp are concerned. When I started watching them on one of our local terrestrial television channels, i.e. NTV7, late last year or early this year I seriously didn't give much thought about them.Until I noticed that Jeanette Aw acted in those drama series in a profound and outstanding manner. It all started when I began to follow the drama series 'Together' but unfortunately, half way through the story. Quite immediately I got "addicted" to watching it as the story was, if in book terms, a real page turner. It feels as though you are dying to want to know what happens next in the story and just want to keep watching until the very end of it.

After that, I watched 'New Beginnings', another Mediacorp's Mandarin drama serial that had Jeanette Aw as the leading actress. She played the leading role to perfection in an outstanding manner yet again. Not only that, the story of 'New Beginnings' really reminded me of my Chinese cultural roots, especially where wedding and death are concerned, and that I should never completely ignore them, lest they would become extinct within my own family.

The latest Jeanette Aw's Mandarin drama series I am following at the moment is 'Destiny in Her Hands' in which she has collaborated with some of the Malaysian actors and actresses to bring the series into an successful fruition. In fact a wide media coverage was given to it, I think it was highlighted in The Star newspaper's Star 2 pullout twice. The media coverage was really quite hyped about this series that I thought I should follow the story when it went on air in June this year and now it has about five more episodes to go before the series ends.

Honestly, I found 'Destiny in Her Hands' a real gem of the few other Mediacorp Mandarin drama series I have followed of late. To add icing to the cake, the appearance of local actors and actresses would boost the Malaysian Mandarin film industry in a very positive way. A great artiste like Jeanette Aw is actually a very crucial role model to budding actors and actresses in the Malaysian film industry, especially the Mandarin film industry.

In the entertainment industry, often there would be quite a few individuals who would become a force to be reckon with. And in the case for Singapore, Jeanette Aw from Mediacorp is the one to be recognised for this reason, and to a certain extent I think Malaysia is benefiting from Jeanette Aw's popularity too. Unfortunately for Malaysia, the actors and actresses in the Mandarin film industry has still got a lot to learn, especially from Singapore's Mediacorp.

But all is not lost just yet. By collaborating with Mediacorp or similar foreign Mandarin TV organisations, the Malaysian Mandarin film industry could improve leaps and bounds because we already have a big pool of talents waiting to be discovered and honed. This is already a plus factor that we already have and it should be given due recognition.      

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Kungfu Panda 2

Kungfu Panda 2 is the sequel to Kungfu Panda, released in 2008. It tells the story of Po, a panda bear adopted a goose Mr. Ping has become the Dragon Warrior and is now able to join The Furious Five - Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. He, together The Furious Five were tasked to protect the peace in Valley of Peace.

However, a not-so-new enemy came into the life of Po, as he is enjoying his newly found status as the Dragon Warrior. Lord Shen, an heir of the peacock clan who once ruled Gongmen City has schemed a grand scale plan of ruling the whole of China through harnessing the power of fireworks. For him to carry out this grand scheme of a plan, Lord Shen has enlisted a pack of bandit wolves whom he assigned to steal all the available refined metal they could find.

In fighting those bandit wolves from stealing those refined metal, Po had a flashback of his life as a very young panda with his biological parents. Lord Shen was in the bid of becoming the most powerful ruler in China, and in the process of doing so, he seek to annihilate all the living pandas in the land but Po's biological father somehow survived the annihilation where Po's biological mother was killed in the bid to save him.

Thus, Po while fighting to save the Furious Five who have been captured by Lord Shen had to learn the hard way of achieving the inner peace of coming to terms with his past. He was fortunate enough to learn to achieve this inner peace from the soothsayer who has been coincidentally exiled to the village where Po was born as Lord Shen had blasted Po out to this village in a particularly ferocious battle. And indeed he did earnestly learned how to achieve the inner peace crucial for him to defeat Lord Shen in the finalé of all battles.

Kungfu Panda 2 is one of those very few movie sequels that has captured the audience's imagination better than the first one. Not to say that Kungfu Panda is not worth mentioning, but I guess the sequel this time has outshone it not only in terms of box office collections but also has a more interesting story line. In fact, Kungfu Panda 2 can be a stand alone movie in its own right, thus. for those audience who have not or did not watch Kungfu Panda would not have missed out much of the story, except maybe for as to how Po achieved his status as the Dragon Warrior.

Dreamworks Animation definitely did an excellent job in creating the story of Kungfu Panda and Kungfu Panda 2. The stellar voice-over casts caps the icing on the cake. Kungfu Panda 2 is packed chock-a-block with actions and laughs at the right places that would hold you spellbound througout the movie. 

Although we are in the technologically advanced age where sci-fi and fantasies rule the silver screen, nothing really beats an original story that tells the story of a long-lost time when once the human race used to live. And Kungfu Panda 2 has it all, although the characters were in the form of animals. I highly recommend this movie to all people who are in for good laughs and also for those with kids because the story has also incorporated universal values where children and adults could learn from in a fun way.   


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes, you REALLY need to stop and smell the roses

Life can be very unpredictable. It can throw at you challenges so horrendous when you least expected it. Especially for people who might think life is treating them very well, they often forget the other side of life and tend to take it very much for granted, including yours truly. But of late, things have been extremely difficult for me that forced me to view and take life more seriously than usual.

An incident a few days ago, really jolted me into intense grief that made me realise life is something many people don't put much value to it nowadays. For me to prove my point, all you need to do is to flip through the pages of the newspapers daily and you will find plenty of news on fatal road accidents, cold-blooded murders and merciless armed robberies and snatch thefts happening rampantly, just to name a few. But I have digressed.

A very good and close friend of mine suffered a heart attack last Thursday. I only got the news Saturday morning when he sent me an email. He managed to get to the hospital in good time to have an angioplasty and a stenting procedure done to save his life. Thankfully, his condition is improving and I hope and pray that he will recover well and completely soon. I burst into tears after reading his email and the tears just would not stop streaming down my cheeks for the rest of the day. Unfortunately for me, unavoidable circumstances have rendered me unable to visit him at the hospital.

I am actually not able to fathom the idea of him succumbing to a heart attack at a relatively young age. The idea really terrified me very much. It makes me shudder with fear just at the mere thought of it. I think the idea of death of some one I care about a lot, be it a close and very good friend and even a family member has an extremely profound impact on my emotions in ways I can never imagine and comprehend. All the more it is strange that I could somehow foretell when a not-so-good thing is going to happen to someone I know and care about very much.

Prior to my friend's heart attack I had a dream in which I think it was a premonition or a warning sign the inevitable could have happened. And it REALLY came VERY CLOSE to happening. Two days before the incident in this dream, I had actually saw him standing in a very dark place (only he and I were visible) looking at me with a demure facial expression. I tried to reach out to him, only to find that he was drifting away from me into the dark oblivion, disappearing from my life altogether and forever. I woke up the next morning feeling awful beyond description.

This dream I had was actually the third in my entire 30 odd years in life, thus far. The previous two times a few years ago experiencing similar dreams has rendered outcomes I had never expected to face at all, and yet they did happen. They all had to do with the deaths of two family members whom I was really close to and care about a lot.

It is because of this kind of experience I had in the past that I view life and death more seriously, maybe too seriously than most people would. Thus, I have a very different outlook where life and death are concerned. That is why I work very hard to keep the friendships and relationships I have established because they REALLY mean a lot to me, each and every one of them. All the more, I try my very best not to take them for granted lest I would live a life full of regrets. And I always make the effort and time for all the people I know because life is REALLY like a box of chocolates, you'll never know what you're gonna get, as Forrest Gump was quoted to be saying in the movie Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks.

All the more we all should stop and smell the roses from time to time and not be caught up further with the rat race we are already in. Finding the right balance is my ultimate aim to fulfilling my goals in life. And this friend, who is recovering from his heart attack has taught me the invaluable lessons in life more than he could have imagined in just almost three short years I have come to know him, and at times even more than what my family members have taught me in my lifetime (I am not undermining the importance of the family institution here) thus far.

This blog is a fitting tribute to my friend who is always willing to be there for me through all the good and bad times I have been experiencing, he has never failed to give me encouragement from Day One I got to know him. Even the email he sent from his hospital bed has been optimistic, the very same optimism he would use to encourage me when I feel hopelessly discouraged.

Prof., my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as always. I pray and hope very much you will make a full recovery soon. No amount of words could describe the gratitude and appreciation I am indebted to you for all you have done and are still doing for me tirelessly. May God Bless you always.

People should receive their bouquets when they are alive. 
~Allegra Kent, Once A Dancer... An Autobiography~                 

Friday, July 15, 2011

For your information

I am sure my friends and blog followers are wondering why it has been extremely quiet on my blog, with no activity in sight and to speak of at all. To be honest with all of you, I have been experiencing severe writer's block that has rendered me unable to churn out any ideas, especially good ones worth to be put into writing. I guess this is every writer's nightmare, including yours truly.

I wish things are more smooth sailing for me, especially as a writer. However, this is life where it can be unpredictable as the weather. Thus, things have not been very much in my favour. I am trying my very best to take things as they come. Not easy to produce writings to have the whole world at my feet, like how J.K. Rowling did with the Harry Potter series. And I'll never stop wishing that this day will come in the very near future.

Wish me luck.