This analytical post contains big spoilers for La La Land.
Last night while I was watching a Singapore Pro Wrestling event, one of my friends remarked randomly after the show: “I don’t care about spoilers [for pro wrestling matches]. I’m not like other people who get so upset about such things, I just care about how they get there.”
I’ve blogged about this before in the past. I hate spoilers because the impact, the experience of what you’re watching is completely different once you know the outcome. Even for pro wrestling matches — imagine if everyone at Tokyo Dome knew that Kenny Omega was going to lose his match against Kazuchika Okada. There’s a reason why some members of the audience cried after the finale. Even the live VOD camera caught one girl with tears in her eyes. Everyone was expecting Omega to win, it made perfect sense. And yet when it didn’t happen, we were all stunned by what we had just witnessed. An amazing 46-minute match that moved us.
I watched Hacksaw Ridge last week, not knowing what to expect. I didn’t even view the trailer. The only thing I knew about Hacksaw Ridge was: It was a war movie directed by Mel Gibson starring Andrew Garfield (aka the previous actor for Spider-Man). By the time the end credits rolled I was pleasantly surprised. It was one of the best war films I’ve ever seen, on the same level of quality as Steven Spielberg’s old HBO series, Band of Brothers. I don’t think it’ll win the Oscar for Best Picture (the Academy very rarely gives violent action films that award), but it deserves the nomination.
I’ve abstained from watching movie trailers for a long time. I think the last trailer I watched was back in 2008. Modern film trailers these days are so obsessed with being good, in attracting the audience that some of them will go to great lengths to spoil certain important scenes in the movie. Spider-Man 2 is one of the biggest culprits.
I despise spoilers with a passion because watching movies, TV shows, and pro wrestling matches IS my passion. Give it a try sometime. It’s a far better viewing experience.
Your Name (Kimi no Naha 君の名は), was released in Singapore theatres yesterday. I had heard a lot about this Japanese anime film — first from my Japanese friends, and then later it was even reported by BBC News and the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ hailed the film’s director, Makoto Shinkai, as a “changing of the guard”, someone with the quality to take over the reins of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.
Warning: Spoilers follow for Your Name. I will also reveal some light spoilers for Steins;Gate, so please stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled.
– Stick (played by Scott Glenn), Daredevil Season 1 Episode 7
A great quote about how anger, if left unchecked, will eventually lead to one’s downfall.
I wonder where all these Asian zombie movies are coming from all of a sudden. Last month, I watched Train to Busan, a South Korean zombie action flick with a unique setting and a powerful ending. This month, I Am A Hero was just released in theatres here. My friend informed me that I Am A Hero was originally a Japanese manga, and it actually inspired the Train to Busan film.
Warning: Some spoilers follow. Stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled.
I am two months behind in my TNA viewing, so forgive me if posting this in September 2016 seems outdated and slow. At one point back in 2013, I was as slow as seven months behind on my TNA viewing. But I strongly believe in the patience and persistence of watching every weekly episode of Raw, Smackdown, TNA Impact, NJPW, etc.
And finally, all those years of persistence has paid off.
Something weird and magical has happened to TNA in 2016. I have blogged, and blogged, and blogged in the past about TNA’s lousy years of crap booking and poor storylines. Many times, I seriously considered quitting TNA because it was just simply unrewarding and super frustrating to watch. But since the start of the year, things have slowly changed. I find myself laughing and smiling at each Impact episode.
I laugh at Decay. Their gimmick is a much better version of Bray Wyatt’s stable. A group of dark, macabre outcasts who resort to the powers of darkness, facepaint, and Marilyn Manson to help them win matches. I laugh every time Abyss proclaims, “I AM BEAUTIFUL!!”
I used to laugh at The Dollhouse, and it’s a shame that they had to be broken up because of Taryn Terrell’s retirement. I thought that the idea behind Taryn’s stable worked and it just needed a bit more time to give all of the members their chance to shine.
I laugh at Eli Drake. Someone who is so supremely confident and charismatic on the microphone, that every time he opens his mouth, you pay attention and wait for his speech to end.
I laugh at Mike Bennett and his wife Maria Kanellis. The way Maria preaches her husband as some sort of divine saviour, followed by Bennett’s rock-choir theme song always leaves me in stitches.
I laugh at Broken Matt Hardy. His warped accent (“BROTHER NEEEEEEERO!”), his choice of eccentric vocabulary, and the way he screams “delete, delete, delete!!”
I also laugh at all the tiny little details here and there, week in and week out. The accumulation of little things like Ethan Carter III’s ridiculously catchy entrance theme; Grado and Mahabali Shera’s unusual partnership; James Storm riding out to the ring on his “boozer cruiser”.
I laugh at every episode of TNA because I am having fun. Remember when pro wrestling used to be fun back in the 1980s and early 1990s? You had wacky faces like Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and Ultimate Warrior in one corner, and then on the other side you had equally crazy villains like The IRS Man, The Million Dollar Man, Razor Ramon, Doink the Clown, and many more.
All of the silliness and fun finally reached its climax on the 5 July 2016 episode of TNA Impact Wrestling, when Jeff Hardy faced his brother Matt Hardy in their “Final Deletion” showdown. It’s not just the match itself, but the entire build-up and skits leading up to the battle are just as bonkers:
This is why I love pro wrestling. I love to be entertained, and I love to see the effort, passion, and skills exhibited by pro wrestlers for the sake of entertaining us, the fans. Matt Hardy deserves an Academy Honorary Award for Most Nonsensically Entertaining Villain of the Year.
Acting and skits aside, at the end of the day, it is the _wrestling_ that matters and TNA has put up some decent matches for title changes and pay-per-views so far in 2016. I was not expecting Bobby Lashley to beat Drew Galloway for the title at Slammiversary. And I was not expecting Jeff Hardy to perform a Swanton Bomb off a tree.
Congratulations, TNA. When you can consistently put out above-average matches with hard-to-predict outcomes, it means you have FINALLY learned your lesson. The question now is whether it’s too late. I’ve read that Slammiversary 2016 almost did not happen because TNA almost went bankrupt. Years of crap booking and burnt bridges have come back to haunt the company. You reap what you sow.
But at the very least, for one night on 5 July 2016, I am reminded yet again why I love this sport. I will continue watching TNA to the very end. It’s a far cry from the glory years of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Kurt Angle, and Bobby Roode (who have ALL left the company already). But I still love pro wrestling.
This short post contains _some_ spoilers for Train to Busan and 28 Days Later. If you haven’t watched Train to Busan, I strongly recommend that you stop reading if you want to enjoy the movie experience blind.
Update (18 August 2016): Screen Junkies has posted a video review for Suicide Squad. It is quite spot-on with how I feel about the film.
Original: I watched Suicide Squad on its opening day yesterday with a couple of friends. All of us agreed that the film was a disjointed mess. There were too many unnecessary scenes, too many jumpy cuts, and a lot of characters felt unnecessary and underdeveloped. My friend summed it up best with one simple question: “Can you tell me what was the best scene in the film?”
We couldn’t find an answer, and that’s usually not a good sign. Suicide Squad isn’t flat out terrible like Batman v Superman. But it wasn’t good either.
The only shining, standout positive from the film for me was Karen Fukuhara’s role as Katana. Her character was horribly underdeveloped (expect me to use this description very frequently in film or TV reviews: “underdeveloped”), but she managed to deliver an okay performance with her limited script.
Somehow, if there were ever a live-action Kara no Kyoukai movie, I think Fukuhara might be a good casting choice for Ryougi. She’s a legit, Japanese-American actress and her Japanese lines delivered in the film were authentic. Hollywood, why can’t you cast more Asian actresses like Fukuhara instead of whitewashing them with Scarlett Johansson?
So two DC movies were released in the same year, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. The first one was horrendous, and the second one was barely passable. The odds seem heavily stacked against the Justice League movie coming out in 2017. Three strikes and you’re out, DC.
While having a late supper with my friends after the film, our conversation somehow transitioned into the Sucker Punch movie. We all hated Sucker Punch for the same reason — it is a textbook, time-honoured example of a show that over-promised and under-delivered. We wanted to watch girls kick ass and beat people up (hint: watch Kill la Kill instead). Unfortunately, what we got was a poorly executed film with lousy fight scenes, too much CGI, and wonky themes of escapism.
Suicide Squad didn’t quite deliver a sucker punch to us (thank goodness). But the entire discussion got us thinking: What makes a good superhero movie? What makes a good power fantasy? Why were the first Iron Man and Avengers films so good, and their sequels so disappointing? Interesting questions to ponder with so many sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies coming out all at once. It’s like being a kid in the 1990s again watching endless piles of Saturday morning cartoons. Except that for every Dark Knight or Mad Max: Fury Road, there’s a Sucker Punch lurking somewhere to knock you out into oblivion.
Steins;Gate has consumed my life for the past two weeks or so. I can’t remember the last time that a videogame (or visual novel) has had such a powerful impact on me. There are so many thoughts swirling in my head after completing the game, and I hope that by writing them down I’ll be able to reach some sort of mental closure.
Spoiler warning: Please stop reading now if you haven’t played the visual novel or watched the anime.
This review contains spoilers. If you are a Warcraft fan who enjoyed the film, then good for you. I am not forcing you to change your mind with my opinion — I am merely recounting my own personal experience after watching it.