Back in KL on the 28th Aug to the 2nd Sept!!!

Again, so sorry for any update on my blog. IT’S SO DEAD. Sigh, no time to blog much as work is really stealing a lot of my time and energy away. And whenever I get back home, all I wanna do is just sit on my behind and vegetate in front of my TV. At times I vegetate so much, there’s a whole eco system evolving all over me. So wonderful, the miracle of nature, isn’t it?

But nature does take a break once in a while and I, the grand wonder of evolving nature will be heading back to Kuala Lumpur TODAY, the 28th August and be leaving on the 2nd September. So hope to see everyone that I know in KL very soon!!! Adios Labuan, hello KLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and I wanna share something that I spotted during my regular shoppings for junk food and cheap beer. I went into a grocery shop and my eyes spotted bread. But its not just any bread…its:

Roti Kok. See the packaging? It even has sugar for that extra sweetness. Just imagine:

Dan: “Oh man, I’m so hungry!”
Jack: “Really? Fancy some kok?”
Dan: “That sounds so delicious!!!”
Jack: “What you want to have with it? Kok with tuna mayo?”
Dan: “Yes please!! The more mayo the merrier!! I like it when it drips from my….”

Ok the rest is censored. The end. See ya all in KL!!!!!!!!!

Review: WALL*E & Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Nothing much happened over the weekend for me, so I decided to watch to 2 movies in 2 days haha. I was really anticipating the latest Pixar offering, 'WALL*E', while I was dragged with my legs kicking to watch the other film, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’. Here’s what I think…

Review: WALL*E

I always believed that the Disney’s greatest and most original characters were introduced to us way back during the golden years of ‘Snow White’, ‘Fantasia’ and even ‘The Lion King’. These characters and films stood the test of time and were cultural phenomenons that is and forever will be remembered for generations to come. But I wonder with the new generation of Disney characters, with the influence of Pixar, will they be just as timeless? The children in this age of ‘Playstations’, internets and 'iPods' were introduced to the staple of Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and Lightning McQueen, but will they survive the test of time? The new generation of youth being so fickle minded, and with new and cooler alternatives being introduced to them consistently, these new Disney characters really do have their work cut out for them. But are the golden years of Disney really so golden? Remember that decades ago Disney was the sole factory of all things movie animation, children did not have much choice, did they? Now we have Dreamworks that gave us ‘Shrek’, Fox with ‘Ice Age’ and not to forget our Asian counter-parts from Japan with their very original offerings. But whatever the outcome, only ‘ever after’ will we discover these answers.

Anyway, back to ‘WALL*E’. Being a Pixar offering, you can be rest assured that a high level of quality is in store for you. And with 'WALL*E', they did not disappoint. In fact, for me anyway, it exceeded my expectations. After coming out of the cinema hall, my mind was swirling with the notion that this is Pixar’s best picture since the introduction of ‘Toy Story’. No joke. It was a tremendous piece of story-telling told with almost no dialogue from its main characters. And the most surprising of all, everyone seemed to love it. Emotion, humor and action sequences were told with reliance on simple movements and interactions between the characters. And they did it with wildly imaginative aplomb.

As usual the animation is state-of-the-art, but what stood out as one of the greatest piece of animation master-work was the very emotive binocular-like (and VERY CUTE) eyes of 'WALL*E'. You will just have to watch it to believe it. All problems and stress will be immediately washed away once you stare at those puppy-cute eyes of 'WALL*E'. And when he moves, it has a completeness that 'WALL*E' achieves that will leave him (or it) be remembered for years to come. But let’s not forget 'EVE', the other main robot that is his companion. 'EVE' communicates her (or it) emotions through bodily shapes. Between the two, they have this special type of sweetness that will stroke the emotions of all ages, and is also universally touching.

After watching ‘WALL*E’, I cannot help but to compare this film to ‘E.T’, whereby Steven Spielberg successfully managed to encapsulate the feeling of childhood isolation and the delight of discovering true friendship between a boy and an alien, while ‘WALL*E’ is able to connect with the viewers’ hearts and emotions through two simple robots, but emotionally complex, with limited dialogue. As challenging as that may sound, the director Andrew Stanton from ‘Finding Nemo’ pulled off a masterstroke with enduring skill. It is hard not to fall for the charms of ‘WALL*E’, and surely this latest member of the Pixar family will indeed successfully stand the test of time. Best Animation Film of the year thus far (sorry ‘Kung-Fu Panda’!!!)…

Verdict: 9 / 10 (WALL*E)

Review: ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

I love ‘Star Wars’. Well, ask any guy and see who doesn’t (Ok, maybe 80% of all guys likes it. My point is it’s a majority lah). But after watching this latest addition to the ‘Star Wars’ saga, it was heartbreaking. ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ already broke my heart, but this latest film shattered it into tiny little pieces and then was stomped to smaller pieces further by a freak called ‘Jar Jar Binks’. And then he pooped on it. It was that bad. And I’m still on anti-depressant pills to this day.

This film is in fact visually beautiful, skillfully crafted with sweeping landscapes and grand action sequences. But sadly, as usual with George Luca nowadays, tremendous effort has gone into the visual style of the film, but the story and acting quality is very obviously dreadful. I mean, what is wrong with George Lucas? His passion for ‘Star Wars’ is long gone and little time or care is given to the story, character development and dialogue. He is now making ‘Star Wars’ just for the sake of making it, not because he wanted it. His heart was never into ‘Star Wars’ since ‘The Return of the Jedi’ was completed. If George Lucas finds making a ‘Star Wars’ film too burdensome, then hand it over to someone more passionate about it for goodness sake. But no, he wants complete control of his baby, and look how it turned out. If Bill Gates was his son, he would still be living in his basement and there would no Microsoft…

In a nutshell, the dialogue is completely juvenile and fitting for an infant with an I.Q. of 0. (Seriously George, is this the demographic you are targeting at nowadays? Jeez). Silly nicknames are being thrown about like a boring weekday party, i.e. ‘Sky Guy’ and ‘Snips’. C’mon man, ‘SKY GUY’?? ‘SNIPS’?? Does ‘Snips’ refer to anything anatomical perhaps? God, let’s move on. The storyline is so overly simple, I wouldn’t even provide a brief description here or else I would have revealed the entire film to you. And the action sequences? I find it so ludicrous that all battles seem to take place head-on in a straight-line with all blasters blazing. It all provides sweet visual candy, but come on. It’s ‘Star Wars’ for goodness sake. There’s a host of new characters introduced here, again beautifully designed and animated, but their potential is depressingly under-utilized.
But let’s the fair here, the film is not without merit. The action sequences are immensely rich in detail, painfully designed to maximize visual eye candy that will at times leave you speechless. Being a ‘Star Wars’ fan, there was a few action sequences in there that did raise my ‘WOW’ bar a notch or so. Beautifully choreographed light-saber battles, very cool designs of new machines of war and very impressive additions of sound effects that are distinguising signatures of a ‘Star Wars’ film are all there to be admired. But that’s all there is to be admired really.

All in all, it is upsetting that I felt ‘Clone Wars’ was a bit of a snooze. Long gone are the days that ‘Star Wars’ was in its prime, and long-gone are the days that George Lucas ever cared. Take a rest, George. Hand it over to someone else that cares a bit more about this legacy. Give that person a chance, whoever it may be, and we then might actually see a ‘Star Wars’ film that once again matches the original in passion and quality.

Verdict: 4 / 10 (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

KK Town Weekend Hop-Over

Waahh, its been so long since I’ve updated what I’m up to lately. Sorry ya, no time no time…Work has been killing me softly with its song, and the song seems to never end. HAihz . Anyways, here’s an update for 2 weekends ago, when SL came down to Labuan for a quickie. Trip, that is. I knew there wasn’t much in Labuan to captivate SL, but I still have to show what was on offer here. So for the first day, we were in Labuan eating, walking around, shopping (SL bought LOADS of chocolates and 2 bottles of alcohol. But only brought back one haha. I’ll talk about it later) and also taking in the sights of this place nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Borneo’ (although whoever coined it should be shot for its inaccuracy. And be bombed to bits as well).

Well actually I was supposed to return back to KL, but somehow somewhen I got this crazy idea to suggest SL to visit me instead. I didn’t realize I had forfeited a trip back to KL in doing so. Ah well. Had to wait another month to see KL again then. Anyway, SL brought over tons of stuff for me, i.e. a mini iron (cheaper in KL), various flavors of install noodles (can’t get them in Labuan), Nutella (can’t get them in Labuan too) and numerous cotton T’s for my dressing comfy-ness. But unfortunately, my rented house here was abit dirty and SL coundn’t stand it. Ok ok, maybe abit is an understatement. So SL launched a massive clean-up operation that involved my kitchen floor, my room and bits and pieces of my stuff in the room. God bless SL hahaha.

The next day we packed our bags and headed off to Kota Kinabalu, which was a 3 hour ferry ride away to the center of KK. The ride was kinda slow but eventually we got there. When arrived, I heard about a nice place that had quite a reputation for Italian food called ‘Little Italy’, and furthermore it was walking distance from the KK jetty. So, off we went. Our appetite was not that good as I guess our stomachs was still swimming from the ferry ride. So we shared a beef and mushroom ‘Ravioli’ which was pretty good (although I tasted better in KL haha). However, the cafe Latte was kinda good. Brewed just enough for flavor and whipped with an adequate dash of fresh milk. Yummy.

So where we stayed? I bet you heard of the budget hotel named Tune Hotels right? Yup, that’s where we stayed. For RM50 a night (we stayed 2 nights), you would think that it was a blardy bargain of the century. But wait for it, you have to pay extra for air-conditioning. Yup, RM12 bucks for 12-hour coolness (and you can’t really control the timing. Once you slot that magnetic key of ours into the technical bit that controls the main power of the room, the clock starts ticking. Yup, ticking like a freakin’ time bomb. Damn exciting. That’s not all too, for TV, its RM7 bucks for 24 hours (you get a cute little LCD monitor, but you can watch only RTM1, RTM2, TV3 and NTV7. How exciting). And if you forgot any toiletries (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, etc) its RM5 a pop. Although you can easily buy them from the shopping mall called ‘1Borneo’ located just next door (literally next door, its even connected to the hotel), so shopping, food, cinema, leisurely strolls are no problems whatsoever.

Overall the rooms are satisfactory, I mean you can’t really expect The Ritz for that kinda price rite. I mean you paid for it, so you asked for it. Ringgit for ringgit it was worth it in my opinion. The good? The shower was excellent, power shower with continuous hot water 24 hours and clean wash basins. The bed was also surprisingly comfy (I heard it’s supplied by ‘King Coil’) so what more can you ask for? So, the Bad? The campiness (sometimes the walkway can’t even fit 2 persons at the same time), no locks at the toilet and its all glass (but I guess this point is good for some people eh?) and the view from the window is “to die for”. Also, the walls are kinda thin so you may get echoes of conversations from the other rooms. So, if anyone is planning on any night time curriculum activities in the room, I suggest you keep the volume a bit low or else you are subject to intense attention from outside 3rd parties. Also I want to point out that the hotel in KK is still under construction, so you may tend to see workers walking around the corridors of the hotel. Therefore, locking your rooms securely is extremely recommended (although to be fair nothing was stolen and I didn’t hear any bad rumors of burglary).

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned the hotel is right next to ‘1Borneo’, which is East Malaysia’s largest shopping mall ever. I’ve walked around the place and it is very impressive, very much like ‘1Utama’ with rows after rows of middle-range branded stores (i.e. MNG, Padini Concept Store, Giordano etc) however no upper-class brands were seen yet (although FCUK is opening soon. But I don’t think I consider them upper-class. Phehh). There’s a ‘GSC’ there too, and that’s where I saw ‘The Dark Knight’ which I had reviewed and ‘Red Cliff’ (short review: it’s just so-so. Being directed by John Woo, I had expected abit more. The action is ordinary, although the highlight is to see how the military tactics of their time was utilized to achieve victory. Ohh, and many pigeons were spotted too, which is obviously the cinematic signature of John Woo. Verdict: 6 / 10).

For the first night there, I just had to eat something posh and expensive (cause being stuck in Labuan can cause one person to have such cravings. Why? There no posh restaurants in Labuan!!!. So we spotted a fancy Japanese Restaurant called ‘Michi’ and walloped a set of ‘Osaka Bento Set’ which consisted of Tempura, Soft Shell Crabs, Salmon Sushi, Miso Soup, Yummy Beef (I forgot what was it called haha) and Salad. RM45. Satisfaction. Hahah. SL had a ‘Gyu Kimuchi Soba’ noodle set which was surprising yummy. It basically your usual soba noodles with beef. But the beef was amazingly yummy. I think the beef dishes here are good. I shall try more if I get the chance again hehe.

The next day we went straight to town (‘1Borneo’ provides free shuttle bus services to and from town, which is a very good plus point for the mall. Well done!!!). We actually planned to do some light shopping and then do island hopping to Manukan Island and all that as it is sooooooooo close from town (yup, for RM30 you can hop onto a speed boat and land on a island in just 15 minutes). But when the time came for the island hopping, it RAINED. Sigh. And it didn’t stop raining until dark. Double Sigh. Oh well, we switched plans and I went shopping for my computer speaker (a good computer speaker. ‘Altec Lensing’ was my numero uno target but ‘Edifier’ jugak boleh tahan lah). Didn’t find a good set of ‘Altec Lensing’, so went for the ‘Edifier’ M3300 model which had a pretty good subwoofer and 2 channel speakers with twitter. RM 230, expensive anot ah? KL selling how much also I dunno lah haha. Bought it and went for dinner at the KK Waterfront. It was ok, with lots of bars and restaurants catering for to the foreigner crowd. We dined at ‘Oregano Café’ which had local fare and a reasonable price. We missed the sunset though, abit sad at that but nevermind lah, there will be other chances for that….

But there was bad news. SL’s afternoon flight back to KL was cancelled and had to be brought forward to the next day. We were damn pissed off of course. But, honestly I wasn’t surprised. A certain domestic red-colored airline always cancels flights whenever passenger numbers do not meet their required quotas. So many of my friends that travel this airline for business and pleasure already kena, and the most f**ked-up part is that as long as you receive their call notifying you of the cancelling within 24 hours, no compensation is entitled to you!!! I mean WTF, 24 hours is not enough to re-arrange everything to accommodate their screw-ups!!! AIRASIA ARE YOU HEARING THIS??!! IT IS NOT ENOUGH AND IT PISSES EVERYBODY OFF!!!!!!!!! *phewww* But luckily for us, our departure back to Labuan was tomorrow and the flight was at night, so SL still can make it, although it is going to be damn tired…So kelian…Sigh…

The next day it was time for our departure back to Labuan, and the ferry ride was at 1pm. We went to the jetty early and arrived around 11pm. Feeling sad that I didn’t touch water except for rain throughout my trip, I decided to take photos instead of the surrounding jetty haha. Click here to see more. Anyway, the ferry ride back to Labuan was not as smooth as we hoped. The water was choppy and the ferry was like a freakin’ mini roller coaster. People all around started to pengsan and SL eventually succumbed to the dizziness. I was feeling it too, but luckily no plastic bags were needed if you know what I mean…Oh, and I bought a rice cooker too. A computer speaker, rice cooker, luggage and more alcohol, hand carried all over KK and Labuan. We should have been in the Olympics hahaha….

Anyway, night time came and it was time for SL to board the plane. She wanted to bring over 2 bottles of alcohol. So we hide one inside the check-in luggage and another as hand carry. But upon check-in, the ‘AirAsia’ counter attendant asked SL if there was any alcohol inside the bag. She said YES. OMG. Why?? The attendant immediately asked the alcohol to be removed. So we tried to hide in SL’s hand-carry bags, 1 bottle in each bag. Once SL reached the security check point, SL got stopped. OMG. The security guard said only 1 bottle can be brought over. Sigh. So, luckily I was still around and brought the bottle of ‘Johnnie Walker’ Black Label back to my Labuan home instead. Too baddd…

I took a taxi back home, and I got a text saying SL is going to board the plane. I reached home and I was hit by an immediate pang of loneliness. The room seemed quieter and it overwhelmed me with its colder and wider empty spaces. The room seemed smaller, warmer back then, filled with a zest of life. Now it’s just a room. Sigh. I guess now I realized something, it’s easier to leave then to be left behind… Sad….

Review: The Mummy 3

Just a quick review here of a franchise that I absolutely loved way back in 1999 when Stephen Sommers directed a film that had all the hallmarks of lameness but somehow pulled off a miracle that created one of the most fun summer blockbusters I’ve ever enjoyed in a long time. For me, ‘The Mummy’ franchise brought me popcorn movie entertainment not experienced since the glory days of ‘Indiana Jones’. It was fun, full of comedic chemistry between the actors and full of fantasy adventure that wandered the four corners of the world. But then something happened….

Stephen Sommers left and embarked on other interests (remember ‘Van Helsing’, which I think was a BIG mistake) and then Rachel Weisz followed suit that ignited the departure of all magic that made ‘The Mummy’ films so entertaining. But those Hollywood executives thought that there might still be some life yet in this rotting celluloid carcass and proceeded to make 'The Mummy 3' and hire Rob Cohen, a director that is noted for this action flair ('XxX' & 'The Fast & The Furious') to re-awaken the magic that was alive almost a decade ago. Brenden Fraser remained loyal to this franchise (as in many ways I think this is his baby) and injected new star power by introducing Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh into the mix.

The result? Bad. When something is dead, just let it be dead. Being a fan, I was actually looking forward to this one but I was completely let down. I knew it was going to be somewhat dumb (aren’t all popcorn movies dumb nowadays?) but this one….this one just tests your tolerance level to new heights.

The problem I have with this film is the same with all other films of this type, such as ‘National Treasure’: the action is very so-so and uncreative (which is unlike the other ‘The Mummy’ films in my opinion) and whenever there is a problem that needs some serious problem-solving methods, the solution just pops out of nowhere (and this is very true for those ‘National Treasure’ films). I mean, just when some brain cells are needed to be called upon, out pops a character with the solution or someone does something accidentally that solves the problem. I mean, this is no new issue but when it happens again and again (i.e. ‘Mummy 3’) then it gets blardy annoying.

Another problem I like to shout at is why in the world Rob Cohen shoots his action sequences in close-ups, especially in those hand-to-hand combat sequences, and especially when you have Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh? I mean they are professional martial arts actors, the action would be lovely as always to be seen in its entirety and not in close-ups which is confusing and at times nauseating. A truly wasted opportunity to admire those two skilled martial artists in action I say.

Now for another problem. The special effects. I know the special effects in the previous ‘The Mummy’ films are not in the realms of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, but is Rob Cohen taking the mickey with us? Some scenes in the films are terribly fake and I do not say this often but I have to say it anyway: it was absolutely pathetic. It was so bad, it was to the point of humiliation to the franchise and I had to laugh at the quality of it. During the part that involved a ‘Yeti’ monster, it was actually insulting that such a disgrace was shown to an audience.

After leaving the cinema, I felt absolutely distraught that such embarrassment is connected to ‘The Mummy’ franchise. This is exactly what ‘The Phantom Menace’ did to the ‘Star Wars’ saga. It humiliated it with all that Jar Jar Binks nonsense. ‘The Mummy 3’ was supposed to be a simple, escapist fantasy fare that is broadly fun and enjoyable. But it turned out to be a torture, a punishment of sorts. If you are a fan of the past ‘The Mummy’ films, this is a crashing disappointment that can push one to the verge of suicide. If you are not a fan, then I guess there still some points in this film to enjoy from, but I would still recommend giving this a miss. Save the cash and re-watch ‘The Dark Knight’ again, you will still at least get some return on your investment instead of the folly that is ‘The Mummy 3’…

Verdict: 4 / 10

Reviewed By: Raymond Choy

From the Corner - A Musical Companion

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