Sunday, June 30, 2013

My review of Man of Steel

With the release of Man of Steel, I think it is very clear to my mind about the fundamental differences between DC Comics and Marvel Comics super-heroes.

DC Heroes are like modern-day Gods while Marvel’s heroes are like every day joes who fight alongside the ordinary man. Is that good or bad?

Not at all. There’s something about how they adapted Alex Ross’ stirring paintings of these heroes hovering in the sky that’s both majestic and terrifying. Then again, remember the old JLA satellite was in orbit miles and miles above the earth.

Having said that modern-day comics book movies owe a lot to retcons and to Michael Bay. For those who do not read comic books, “retcons” means “retroactive continuity” or the updating of previously established stories or simply put, rewriting history. This is done so that comic books are kept fresh for modern audiences.

Obviously, that is why you have reboots. Now since these reboots are set today, they are darker in tone. Hence, the Michael Bay (see Armageddon, Transformers etc) larger than life scenes of destruction and the use of US military hardware.

Man of Steel is also obviously influenced by the first Richard Donner-Superman film, Alex Ross’ portrayal of Big Blue, the recent stories by Grant Morrison, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

What I liked about this reboot?
1)    The casting. Henry Cavill is Superman. Finally, there’s an heir to Christopher Reeve who can carry the torch. Amy Adams has the right charm for Lois Lane without being tomboyish. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are perfect as the Kents. I can even dig Laurence Fishburne as Perry White! For real. But what’s with the change --- first we see Nick Fury turn from Caucasian to African American. Now it’s Perry White! Nevertheless, great casting.

2)    I can understand mining Superman’s Kryptonian origins into something richer. It’s now a lot more plausible to have more Kryptonians out there. In the original origin (now that sounds weird, right), Kal-El was the original and only survivor of the explosion of Krypton. But as years went by, he wasn’t the only one. Soon enough, there were a lot of Kryptonians all over the place. Having space expansion makes more sense.

I have to admit that when I think of Jor-El, I think of Marlon Brando’s screen version in the first Christopher Reeve film. Is that now in danger of being toppled by Russell Crowe’s version? Not sure but Crowe does a good Jor-El.

3)    General Zod. Totally badass zealot. One of my recollections of the first Superman film was some government guy exclaiming, “Oh, my God.” To which the general replies, “Not God. Zod.”

In this film, this line is epic: “I was bred for this. I was trained all my life to be a warrior! Where did you train? A farm?” Awesome.

4)    The fight scenes. Spectacular. Love ‘em.

What I didn’t like about the reboot?
1)    The US Military, the people of Kansas and Lois Lane know that Clark Kent is Superman? Surely you jest. Might as well put Ma Kent in the Fortress of Solitude. Didn’t Pa Kent tell him to be careful with his secret identity? Funny. And then he joins the Daily Planet where still you think you can fool people with the eye glasses for a disguise?

The guys who wrote the screenplay would have read the DC limited series Identity Crisis. This isn’t kosher by any stretch of the imagination.

2)    Smallville. The scenes from Smallville in the first Christopher Reeve film are still more riveting and painful (especially when Clark leaves to find his destiny).

3)    The fight scenes. Clark wasn’t trained to be a warrior. Where did he learn how to fight? How did he know how to snap Zod’s neck?

4)    Just like the Batman movies, the carnage in Man of Steel is terrifying. After the first Batman film, I would have moved out of Gotham. I mean the Batman trilogy is great but the ineptness of the police in taking on these criminals? I would have moved to Kansas!

After the attack of the Kryptonians and Metropolis is nearly and totally destroyed, every armed force in the world would want to prepare for more space invasions.

It’s a darn good film. I know with sci-fi and superhero films, you have to suspend you disbelief. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be airtight.

In spite of that, I enjoyed Man of Steel. It’s worth seeing again and getting the DVD/Blu-Ray discs for my collection. Furthermore, it revitalizes Superman not only for the comic book community but also for the general public. Is it better than Iron Man of The Avengers? Or even The Dark Knight? No, it’s not. But it’s real close. And that is the least that you can ask for in a terrific summer movie.

-- Rick Olivares

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Doing more with Bianca Gonzalez & Phil Younghusband

Doing more with Bianca Gonzalez & Phil Younghusband
by rick olivares

“How do you find the time for this?”

Television and media personality Bianca Gonzalez gets asked that question “maybe every other day” she says with a smile even if she got up at 3:30am and it’s about 3:30 in the afternoon.

“I know it’s terrible,” she confesses. “I have a morning show then I am off to shoots, interviews… Every day’s different. Like after this I am running off to interview Kiefer Ravena. There’s newspaper and magazine work. Meetings. Dinner with friends or with JC (Intal, her boyfriend). If I am lucky my day ends at 7 or 8pm. If it does I can go to bed at 10pm.”

So she has at least four and a half hours left in her workday for Thursday (June 27) after the press launch for the new Rexona campaign of “Do More”.

In the meantime, she’s fielding her twelfth and last interview for the day (that’s me). We talk abut the campaign that challenges people to be open to possibilities, to keep busy, to seek adventure, and to go the extra mile and to push one’s limits.

“When I first saw the campaign I was instantly sold,” reveals Gonzalez who despite being interviewed for like the twelfth time still is as joyous as when she accommodated the media. “It may be cool but being more than pa-trendy or cool or wanting to be in, this speaks to me. Dati ang konti ng multi-hyphenates na blogger-model, student-athletes and so on. Now everyone does something more. It’s not difficult if you love it. And of course, if you’re focused.”

Gonzalez isn’t the only one endorsing Rexona. There’s also football superstar Phil Younghusband, another workaholic. “Do More’ is about following your dreams and your passions. One thing I am lucky enough to do is my job is my passion. Everything I do whether coaching or playing gives me happiness. It doesn’t feel like work. I try to do a bit more to make myself better,” shares Phil.

But even the veteran football international is quick to accede that Gonzalez is on another level.

“I can’t even do half of what she does,” Younghusband says in amazement about Bianca who hosts Umagang Kay Ganda and Pinoy Big Brother among others. She is an editor-at-large for Meg magazine and is a columnist for the Philippine Star. She’s also a UNICEF Philippines Child Supporter and that in itself has it share of responsibilities. “In between there are endless shoots, interviews, and meetings,” she throws in while offering a smile.

Phil shakes his head.

But Gonzalez too learns a thing or two from the Fil-Briton who normally has 14-hour workdays. “Siguro like what Phil said, ‘If you enjoy every single thing you do because you love it - even if you aren’t that good at it – then it doesn’t feel as tiring. It’s a happy pagod in a way.”

Both were instantly sold on the new Rexona campaign because they felt it was something they could identify with. “

“I like it because it pushes everyone to be more something. Especially with the social media. Even an ordinary person can be a cyber celebrity. Sayang naman your life if you are not doing a lot of things.”

Younghusband’s day is no different. There are the two football roles of player for Loyola and as coach for the Chelsea Soccer School. In between he has all these interviews, shoots, and events to attend to.

“If I can sneak in a nap in between I am fine. But what keeps things in perspective is having great people around you to help.”

Being around positive people helps Younghusband go about his duties. The burden of being unable to lead Loyola to the promised land that is a UFL title is there. There’s also playing for the national team that is increasingly becoming the hunted by cautious and wary regionals rivals.

“It’s difficult but you have to just get up because tomorrow is another day.”

And at times, tomorrow cannot come soon enough. In a few weeks’ time, Phil and older brother James will have a reunion of sorts with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho in Thailand (for the Chelsea Soccer School). “I’m excited. I wasn’t able to say goodbye properly when we left. But now, it’s a reunion with one of the game’s best managers. And I’m excited.”

For the 30-year old Gonzalez, it’s also finding and treating oneself to life’s little rewards. “You have to look forward to life’s rewards. For me it’s a trip out of town. I love traveling. It doesn’t have to be out of the country. Like yesterday, it was a long and tiring day. There was a McDonald’s in the lobby of the building where I was. I got myself a burger and a drink and tama na yun. You just enjoy it. I did.”

I conclude the interview. And Gonzalez by her lonesome sits and enjoys a late lunch. For Younghusband, he has to sit in for a meeting for the upcoming Clear Dream Match II.

The day is far from done.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hong Kong Diary June 14

Hong Kong Diary June 14

Hong Kong (June 14) -- It has been a year since I took any of my kids out of the country and this one couldn't be any more fortuitous for personal reasons. When I go out of the country say with Loyola or for the One FC I am on work mode whether I make any side trips or not. Here in the former British Crown Colony, I'm tuning out any work so none of you bother me because I am not going to reply. 

The flight in wasn't the best, a couple of kids were bawling make it very unpleasant and irritating. Then we encountered turbulence three times including one where the plane dropped for a couple of feet throwing any drinks all over the place. So that made glad to be back on terra firma and in Hong Kong, my old stomping grounds. I really do love this place. Prepared me for the hustle and bustle of New York City (but that is altogether marching along to different beat). 

I really wanted to book in an expensive hotel. It isn't every day where I get to stay in one but practicality ruled. When abroad, you don't really stay much inside your hotel room as you're often out. So... I paid for a room - a small one mind you -- at the old Mirador Mansions (a stone's throw away from where I once lived here). The price is cheap and that allows me a little more financial flexibility. And the location is perfect as I am right in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. We didn't take the train or a cab going to the city either. A regular city bus (A21) that costs HK $33 each. So it's a money saver.

It has been raining for days now and Friday isn't any different. I'm forced to buy an umbrella just to get around between buildings. And that puts Ocean Park for Saturday in question. Yes, the forecast is for more rain. It's not fun watching outdoor events with rain pouring all over you and you have to hold an umbrella (and you're wet anyways so...).

We checked out tickets prices for the upcoming Smashing Pumpkins concert this August (yes, I am watching). Then went to some of the usual haunts - HMV and Hong Kong Records and Page One. In case you don't know, I am a huge music fan and have a massive CD collection. I also am an avid reader who collects books I like as well.

The pull list for me: Marley (the soundtrack from the Bob Marley movie that is at 60% off), Ra Ra Riot's Beta Love, Sevendust's Black Out the Sun, as well as Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache and Daft Punk's Discovery (to replace the copies I lost during Ondoy). It's the summer sale so prices are down. As for DVD's, I picked up rather luckily (as I have waited for this for months now) Being Liverpool  (the first documentary and in depth look at an English Premier League team. Kinda pricey but there it is) and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I got the Nick and Norah at Hong Kong Records. Always compare prices coz it is much cheaper at HK Records!

We also dropped by the exhibition of world-famous Japanese manga film director and animator Hayao Miyazaki at the Donguri Republic store at Harbour City. Miyazaki directed some of my fave maga films like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, and Spirited Away. As lovers of art, we also hope to drop by the Hong Kong Museum of Art this Saturday. But it sure was fun going to the Miyazaki exhibit where there were a lot of people checking out what was on display.

For the HK Museum, they've got on display pottery of the Tea Ware competition (this takes me back to my Practical Arts classes during my elementary days) and the Google Art Project.

Bought some clothes at Giordano at the Miramar Shopping Centre. We also checked out the sports stores in the TST area and right now, the NBA is on heavy promotion. They've got on sale here the "Los Bulls" and "Los Lakers"NBA jerseys and shirts (the Latin versions of the jerseys). Kinda pricey. But the one I would buy if it were available is the "Los Suns".

Lastly, we had dinner with old friend, Mike Yu at BLT Burger. In case you don't know, BLT Burger is a hamburger restaurant that opened its first branch along Sixth Avenue in New York City. It also has a store in Las Vegas and in Hong Kong where it opened last year (there's also a second outlet at Causeway Bay). He picked up his copy of the book I worked on FIVE (the Ateneo Five-peat in the UAAP) and of course, we caught up with what's new in our own lives. In my last visit in HK, I stayed at Mike's place.