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Still rockin after 7 years… 🙂 If ever you’re flying AirAsia by this November, you may want to check out my film “Technophilia” at the Viddsee channel of the AirAsia free in-flight wifi service. Viddsee selected it for premiere for the program this November (which is my birthday month too) 😉

Thanks, Viddsee!!!

Hi Rianne,

Great news! We’re partnering with AirAsia for the first time to market Viddsee short films to a wider audience across SE Asia. AirAsia has a free inflight wifi service roKKi and we will be having a Viddsee channel under the entertainment section for audience to watch Viddsee short films!

We programme 10 new shorts every month in the channel, and we’re excited to select your film “Technophilia” for the month of November!

Regards,
Nikki

“Technophilia” has been the last independent film i shot to date (i know, it’s been way too long), and i so miss shooting indie films really. Shooting commercial/corporate works for years now to pay the bills. But hopefully i can finally find time to shoot another indie film soon. It’s been so long overdue. Sigh…

And i so miss my production team too. From my staff to my cast, everything was so fun and memorable. It’s not only my shortest short to date, it’s also the shortest i shot — about 6 hours from grind to wrap. And i guess it would be the last i would ever shoot in celluloid (and most likely the last i would shoot without a video assist), unless budget and prod requirements lead me back to film in the future… But i sure do hope i can manage to shoot another international production like this again (my team here was composed of: Iraqi, Korean, American, Japanese, Indonesian, Taiwanese, and Filipino). Indeed, filmmaking can end up communicating beyond the confines of language and even cultural differences — where storytelling becomes a universal language to touch people’s lives.

My Film ‘Technophilia’ Now at AirAsia’s In-flight Wi-Fi Service Via the Viddsee Channel
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Our Colored Glass Photo Magnets
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Our Black-and-white Glass Photo Magnets
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Our Playing Cards Design
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Rianne’s Luggage Tag
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Philip’s Luggage Tag
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Our Wedding Puzzle
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Gaya ng pag-ibig, walang pinipiling edad ang Juan, Konek! Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project. Lahat pwedeng kumonek. ;)#WiFiLuv #FreeWiFiPH #InternetForAll #JuanKonek

Posted by Juan, Konek on Sunday, March 6, 2016

Two seeming millennials simply chatting, apparently, it’s something beyond that. A romantic-comedy short film about love and connection…

Watch Our Short Film ‘Wi-FiLuv’
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Whether owning an entry level, enthusiast, or professional Canon DSLR camera, it is an imperative to also own at least one Canon lens.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
Using Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology, this lens delivers sharp handheld shots at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than the usual. This expands picture-taking possibilities any time slow shutter speeds are needed. With focal length and maximum aperture of 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II, its aspherical lens element corrects aberration for excellent image quality throughout the zoom range. Meanwhile, its circular aperture works well for the exquisite rendering of shots with out-of-focus backgrounds.

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens
Given its optical qualities and the 2 to 3 stops of stabilization given by its IS system, the magazine SLR Gear called it ”the best bang for you buck for this type of lens with extremely sharp and excellent AF performance.” When taking its extraordinary low price point into account, this light, compact, and affordable lens turns out as a no-brainer choice for a large number of DSLR kits.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 Lens
The small but mighty package is literally pocketable for being less than an inch thick and weighing less than 5 ounces. This makes it work as a great backup lens so the user can have something extra to shoot with.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens
As a normal prime lens that is significantly sharper than the kit lens, this remarkably affordable piece turns out as the best value lens in terms of the quality of output. Aside from its reliable STM focusing motor for faster, quieter autofocus, its extremely fast aperture works great for images requiring blurry backgrounds and images shot in low light. It is also worth noting that when this lens gets used with a 35mm film or full-frame sensor, it is widely considered to match the perspective seen by the human eye.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L Lens
Its exceptional build quality with excellent and very even optical performance makes it one of the most popular lens for photographers moving to professional lenses. It generally lasts as a workhorse, especially to portraitists, wedding and event photographers, and fashion shooters.
Being a professional grade “L” lens allows it to retain its value extremely well.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Lens
With silent USM focusing motor and full-time manual focus and 4 stops of image stabilization at normal focus distances, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 lens offers the reliability of reproducing an object the size of the image sensor, known as 1:1 magnification. This great and versatile telephoto lens with a convenient 100mm focal length focuses to infinity, just like regular lenses, making it usable for portraits. It produces sharp picture and boasts a unique hybrid IS system designed for macro shooting to work as well.

Most Popular Canon Lenses Worth Buying
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With the fitness gadget market in a boom in 2016, GPS smart watches fare well in many physically active and health-conscious consumers and athletes.

Sony SmartWatch 3
The competitively priced Sony SmartWatch 3 is a cool-looking waterproof device that works great with Google Now and it makes it easy to utilize an Android phone’s tasks and functions by simply pairing it with this watch.

Adidas miCoach Smart Run Optical HR and GPS Running Watch
The Adidas miCoach Smart Run Optical HR and GPS Running Watch offers an enhanced GPS with intensity mapping and accelerometer functionality for running cadence, pace, distance, and route logging. It also boasts optical, HR, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, touch-screen, and music-playing capabilities for tons of great features and a largely pleasing user experience.

Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smartwatch
The Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smartwatch is comfortable to wear all day to help one keep a healthy balance between work and life. It easily pairs with a smartphone, providing gentle vibrate alerts and display notifications. This ultra-thin wearable works great for sportspersons with its built-in accelerometer and wrist-based speed and cadence trackers.

ZGPAX S8 Bluetooth Smart Watch Phone
A quality device packed with some very impressive features despite is relatively low price range, the ZGPAX S8 Bluetooth Smart Watch Phone supports Wi-Fi, AGPS, Bluetooth, and GPS, alongside access to the Google Play Store with almost every standard Android feature working on it. It also functions as a cellphone, audio recorder, music player, and camera for decent outdoor picture-taking endeavors.

Best Smart Watches of 2016
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Regularly changing a vehicle’s engine oil and filter is one of the most important periodic maintenance tasks every motorist should do to keep the vehicle running well for a very long time.

Buy the Right Oil and Oil Filter
Confirm the right motor oil and oil filter unit to best fit the car requirements. To do so, one must secure the following information: car’s engine displacement size and car’s year, make, and model, and car’s oil type. Following carmaker recommendations for oil viscosity is always the best route to avoid engine damage and poor car performance. It is best to buy a quality filter rated to go the distance as the oil.

Gather Tools and Equipment
Before even opening the hood for a change oil, one should always make sure to have all the necessary supplies and equipment within reach. Aside from the oil and filter, one must prepare the following: oil wrench fitting the diameter of the filter to make removing the old filter easily, especially when unscrewing by hand won’t cut it; socket wrench to unscrew the drain plug; funnel to transport oil; drain pan or old bucket to collect used oil; newspaper to catch any spilled oil outside the pan; rubber gloves to protect the hands from hot surfaces; and oil rags or paper towels to wipe off drips and help clean hands.

One should also invest on a jack and jack stand, car ramp, or a safe and secure set of blocks or wheel ramps to elevate the car’s front off the ground and give more room to work underneath the car. Additional tools may be needed in the case of some vehicles that require removing the top or bottom panels for the change oil.

Warm Up the Engine
Warm up the engine for 5 to 10 minutes to allow sludge to move out of the engine easier. Don’t keep the car running for too long to prevent the oil from getting too hot. If the oil gets too hot, wait for about 30 minutes to avoid getting burned.

Raise the Car
With the car parked on a flat surface and the parking break engaged, put the car ramp or wheel ramps in front of the front wheels accordingly. Alternatively, locate the jacking points and jack up the car using a jack stand. As additional security measure, put wheel blocks or tire restraints on the rear tires. Apply enough force by rocking the vehicle to test its safety while raised.

Drain the Oil
Spread newspaper out on top of the drain pan placed underneath the engine, specifically under the oil drain plug. Always exercise precaution when working underneath the car, especially with the engine and exhaust that may still be very hot. Loosen the lone bolt of the oil drain plug by turning it counterclockwise using a socket wrench. When still not familiar with this part, verify that it is really the engine oil drain plug and not the transmission drain plug by checking the manual and looking for a flat metal pan closer to the engine than the transmission.

Wear rubber gloves and manually unscrew the loosened plug as quickly as possible to give way to the stream of oil for draining and minimize spill. The draining process usually takes about 10 minutes. Once oil stops dripping, reinstall the drain plug by hand, then tighten with a quarter turn clockwise using a wrench.

Remove and Replace the Oil Filter
Oil filters come in different varieties depending on car specifications. These include self-contained units that can be simply unscrewed by hand and those made of paper that slides out after unscrewing a cap. Look for the oil filter, a Coke can-sized object that is usually found under the hood, but at sometimes foun beneath the car. Move the drain pan underneath the oil filter before unscrewing the oil filter for replacement counterclockwise, as more oil may still come out from it. If it’s difficult to remove, one may need an oil filter removal tool. To avoid oil spill while removing the filter, wrap a small plastic bag around the filter to catch any oil that escapes as you remove it.

After allowing the opening to drain completely, wipe off the opening using paper towel or oil rug. Smear some of the new motor oil along the rim of the new oil filter by dabbing a finger to it, ideally while still wearing gloves, as this lubricates the gasket and prevents sticking, cracking or causing oil leak by creating a reliable seal for the new filter. Putting a small amount of oil into the filter itself prior to installation also reduces the amount of time the car takes to regain proper oil. Skip this step if using paper filter. Replace the filter and manually tighten the seal. Wipe off both the filter and pan after oil filter replacement.

Refill the Oil
Once everything underneath the car is sealed and secure, remove the oil cap from the top of your car, place a funnel inside the fill hole, and refill the tank’s oil based on the manual’s specified amount and grade of motor oil. Most oil jugs provide a measure on their handle to confirm how much oil is left. If the filter is mounted vertically, filling with oil may reach almost up to the top. If the filter is mounted at an angle, a minimal amount of oil will spill just prior to spinning the filter on. It is good to hold the bottle with the spout on top so oil pours more smoothly without bubbling. Replace the fill cap, tighten all parts, making sure there are no loose tools and leaking issues. Wipe off any spills to prevent burning oil smell.

Test the Car and Record Information
Get the car off the jacks. Start the engine for a minute to allow the new motor oil to circulate thoroughly. Turn off engine and allow the oil to settle for 5 to 10 minutes to check oil levels by pulling out and cleaning the dipstick, the putting it back and removing it once more to see how much oil there is inside. It is worth noting that in cases when the engine has just run, one can’t always rely on the dipstick for accurate measurement, as some oil may still be in the galleries. Check the odometer to record the distance the car should run before next oil change and list down the date to also serve as basis for the next oil change.

Dispose the Used Oil in an Approved Facility
Since dumping car motor oil in an unapproved area is often illegal, and more importantly, is a serious environmental concern, pour the oil from the drain pan to a secure container and bring this to any auto parts store, gas station, or oil-recycling center for proper oil disposal.

Motoring Guide: How to Change Car Oil, DIY-style
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After getting one of my films on Viddsee last year (Thanks to Alem Ang for curating my film for it), this time, I got invited to be a Viddsee curator:

“It’s great to have you join us in this journey with your film up on Viddsee! We’re looking for a community of awesome curators to help surface Asian stories from their own countries!

We believe in the future of digital cinema we’re currently building. Love to grow these communities of filmmakers, audiences and creative influencers with your support in what we do 🙂

Our curators have been recommending good films to us from where they are. Will you be interested in curating Asian films together with us?”

So if you guys have an awesome short that you would want to be part of the #Viddsee community of Asian short films, kindly email me the (private or public) link at: awitkulayan@gmail.com. Hopefully, you will soon be part of our growing filmmaking community that features awesome shorts across Asia.

Got Invited as Viddsee Curator, Send Your Films!
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Direction
Story & Screenplay
Cinematography
Production Design
Sound & Music
Editing
VFX/Animation (if any)
Acting/Voice Acting
Commercial Flair
Average

Given its movie-epic flair, “Queen of the Desert” is pretty enough to be watchable for its sweeping desert landscapes, picturesque British countryside, glorious 20th-century architecture, and classy period costumes. However, the story’s structure ultimately fails. Much of the problem comes from the acting, which is clearly a hit or miss, often the latter, and the episodic pacing that almost never engrosses the audience, even during the supposedly very emotional moments.

Based on the true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer Gertrude Bell, this underwhelming piece of cinema, surprisingly helmed by the respectable Werner Herzog, chronicles a journey through love, loss, and coping up in the eyes of a curious and adventurous woman way ahead of her time.

Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell doesn’t look desert-hardened despite the character she portrays. Her joys and pains remain quite difficult to understand even by the film’s end. There is barely any persuasive emotional depth invested on her character. While her maturity as an actress comes into place at certain times, the disappointing storytelling structure lacks both the sweep and psychological complexity the story desperately needs. The narrative remains passionless and devoid of layers that should have come from the trailblazing archaeologist and politician Bell’s many extraordinary adventures in the 1920s Middle East.

The conflicts of love and tragedy lets down as any death that comes in the story is not in any way impactful for the audience. Viewers are unable to get that crucial emotional attachment to root for the characters and their plight. All details that unfold come as they are without emotional investment of any kind for the audience to keep up with.

Robert Pattison as T.E. Lawrence is completely disappointing, rendering no depth to his persona to impose himself as Lawrence of Arabia. The emptiness in his character becomes the most dominant element in his role, especially whenever he utters his lines. Peter O’Toole could have probably cringed if he’s still alive and saw this unfortunate portrayal of his iconic character.

James Franco as Henry Cadogan adds a bit of spice to the bland sketches of male roles presented throughout the tale, but the film’s storytelling betrays his fate in the narrative that he is still unable to garner any form of convincing impact in the story.

‘Queen of the Desert’ Film Review: Beautifully Empty
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Rianne Hill Soriano Demo Reel

This three-minute reel features selected directorial project clips from both my commercial works and independent films.

These excerpts showcase animation, motion graphics and interactive video productions, emotion pieces with kid, family, couple, and adult characters, diverse genre scenes, natural and man-made tourist attractions, industrial spaces, and realty structures.

Music inspired by Ghostpocalypse by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 and arranged and mixed by Philip Arvin Jarilla.

Please watch in HD if you can. Thanks!

Rianne Hill Soriano Director’s Showreel
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My most personal edited project to date; our most personal video collaboration to date. Thanks to our frequent collaborator production designer Joy who made my GoPro bridal bouquet inspired by our “Denim Neo-classic” theme. Like the designs for our wedding, the bridal bouquet used recycled materials as well.

I shot my own wedding and my husband, who frequently collaborates with me on my film and commercial projects as sound engineer and/or scorer, worked on the audio requirements.

For the most part, this wedding film was shot on a first-person perspective, giving a raw, more personal and genuine chronicling of a wedding from the viewpoints of those involved in this special occasion.

Let us share the intimacy of a wedding celebration from the “other” camera perspective — the bride’s. And at some point, the couple’s and the wedding party’s perspectives as well.

Watch the entirety of the professionally edited 29 minutes, 38 seconds of this GoPro-shot wedding or simply give the first 3 minutes a chance, then let’s see if you want to keep up with what’s next…

Best watched in HD (1080p).

Next time, we’ll upload the official wedding video with full coverage of our wedding celebration from the traditional perspective, then there will be a balance between the two points of view.

#riannephilipwedding
#GoPro
#wedding

Click here for:
Rianne and Philip Wedding Facebook Page
Rianne and Philip Wedding Website

Rianne & Philip Wedding Shot with GoPro Bridal Bouquet
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Entourage movie review

Protecting fruit trees from impending birds and pests is important to prevent damage to the produce, especially when nearing harvest time. In doing applicable bird-control measures, which often means incorporating several methods to keep birds and pests at bay, fruit tree owners can ensure a better harvest with the peace of mind that no birds or pests turn out first in line with touching, eating, or even destroying their produce.

Trappings and Alternative Food Source
Using bird trapping or netting, which often requires baiting a trap with water and food attractive to birds, works as a form of protection for the fruit trees. However, people should be responsible enough to release any captured birds after. It is also important to check local laws in the area, as birds are generally considered protected animals, making it illegal to kill them. Another way is to provide the birds with alternative supply of food such as birdseed and corn away from the fruit trees, while still employing extra barriers of defense for fruit tree protection.

Visual Decoys
When the budget is tight, fruit growers can simply put out balloons with drawn eyes on them about 3 feet above the trees to help repel birds. In case the birds pop these balloons that are tied around tree branches or poles, the loud sound and blast of air can also scare them away.

Aside from the traditional decoys around, a good number of decoy product varieties are readily available in the market including solar-powered and battery-operated items with extra features like aluminum cannulations, steady LED light and flashing light functionalities beneficial for evening protection, and decoy moving parts for a more convincing look.

Sound Decoys
Whether solar-powered or battery-operated, the more modern sound decoys often provide extra features like daytime and nighttime working modes and passive infrared (PIR) motion-activated sensor for more efficient repelling of nearby birds and pests within the area of coverage. Some also emit ultrasonic waves, vibrations, and pulsations supporting frequency conversion to irritate or simulate danger and repel birds nearby.

Motion detectors that trigger noisemakers can help deter birds through the aid of recordings of beating large wings, predator sounds, and distress cries. It is best to alternate the sound of bird cries with a variety of convincing shrill noises including those of locomotive or static sounds, as well as move the speakers in different areas so the birds don’t get used to these noisemakers.

Chemical Repellents
Chemical repellents are more reliable when needing to seriously protect landscaping and property from corrosive droppings from birds, reduce the health and liability risks linked to pest bird infestation in the region, and prevent the spread of diseases caused by birds such as bird flu. It is best to use chemical repellents that are biodegradable and organic for a more environmentally responsible means of repelling birds.

Many available chemical repellents in the market are diluted to water in containers. Some are directly sprayed or painted onto surfaces so that the area produces food-grade taste aversion to birds and they leave the treated area for a long time or even permanently, as they look for more conducive spaces with better food source for them.

How to Protect Fruit Trees From Birds and Pests
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[Total: 1    Average: 4/5]

Inside Out movie review

Direction
Story & Screenplay
Cinematography
Production Design
Sound & Music
Editing
VFX/Animation (if any)
Acting/Voice Acting
Commercial Flair
Average

“Inside Out” is a powerfully moving animated piece about the importance of sadness in human life. Daring to explore the existential crises of the human mind and the emotions that affect one’s life, this formidably ingenious film works like a thesis or research project. With a material that strikes as a reflection on the power of emotions, it targets the family audience, particularly those with ages ranging from pre-teen to adult.

Packaged as a movie set inside someone’s head and how the mind and the emotions work together, the story presents a strikingly endearing take on a young girl’s growing pains as she encounters wave after wave of personal and familial problems. While traversing the bumpy road ahead of her, she also finds herself struggling to come to terms with puberty.

The narrative revolves around Riley, a sweet girl from Minnesota who gets uprooted from her Midwest life after her family’s financial struggle leads them to San Francisco. With the loss of the comfort of her childhood home, the company of her dearest friends, and the camaraderie of her hockey team, turmoil ensues inside her mind’s “Headquarters,” the control center where her emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger live and help her through her everyday life. When Joy, her main and most important emotion, accidentally gets lost with Sadness, the arduous journey to get back to the Headquarters coincides with Riley’s progressing depressive state while navigating her new city.

The tale begins a bit too verbose for the youngest viewers, but the gorgeous imagery and colors often help keep most people’s eyes glued to the screen. This poignant entry to the Pixar catalog hits an elusive sweet spot with its fiercely sweet approach to animated filmmaking. In portraying both the intelligence and the fragility of a child’s mind, it encourages viewers to talk more openly about their feelings — although its theme’s complexity may be lost on the younger viewers. It plays around the intricacies of human decisions, actions, and motivations and turns the unexplainable into a stuff of grand drama.

As an ambitious motion picture, its epic journey across a fantastic landscape delivers such an empathetic answer to the question “What is going on inside one’s head?” What remains consistent in the film is its impressive level of intellectual-emotional exploration. Ticking so many boxes without feeling contrived, the level of conceptual cleverness and visual design utilized in the story creates tender magic on the big screen. It challenges the viewers to dream, play around the profundity of the subconscious, and understand life’s highs and lows better. With its deeply thoughtful insights on how sadness is as much a part of life as joy, it suggests that true happiness doesn’t just involve the feeling of perpetual joy, but rather a balance of all emotions that make one human. It effectively hits the viewer by mapping the human mind to a much broader palette and putting the workings of the human psyche front and center.

This feature’s computer-generated pixels and keen attention to detail meet the challenge to surprise and delight. It offers thrilling audacity to its audience with how it dares to convert abstract elements into luminously beautiful and dynamic visuals. It handles its intricate material with striking balance through a satisfying presentation of the human psyche. Using its own madcap, non-preachy way, the dazzling wit of its storytelling becomes a means of answering the intangible aspects of human emotions and visiting one’s subconscious — without bordering on the too serious, goofy, or irreverent. The picture’s colorful imagery and inventive situations offer an emotional roller-coaster ride to connect to the viewers and keep their attention.

More than its clear technical achievement, this ambitious candy-colored adventure offers a brilliant piece of writing that takes the idea of emotions to a whole different level. Crafty, playful, thought-provoking, and mood-moving all at once, both its humor and pathos promote the exploration of some of the most basic human emotions and how they work together to make people who they are. With jokes that are as funny as they are imaginative, it approaches the happy and the meaningfully sad by entertainingly penetrating the mind with bursts of imagination. It packs an emotional punch through tender wisdom and emotional punches. It also provides a nuanced yet elegant depiction of depression, as well as how interactions and memories affect human behavior.

This existential picture is an emotionally mature yet genuinely funny cinematic treat. Coming from a material that is very difficult to pull off, it maintains a believable humanity, while being intellectually engrossing and heartwarming at the same time. Interestingly, it succeeds where a lot of heavy, serious, and thematically complex live-action movies have failed.

As a brisk and effortlessly charming affair, it doesn’t just connect human emotions to people’s manner of processing ideas, it also turns them into engaging characters that wrap lessons in behavioral science into an ambitious and visually dazzling head trip.

Bold, sweet, funny, and heartbreakingly sad in various scenes, this wonderful piece of family entertainment boasts a wealth of spectacular voice talents including Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Bill Hader as Fear, and Lewis Black as Anger. As an ensemble, they are able to combine simplicity with the extraordinary, as well as the daring with the sophisticated. Its marvelous mounting of the human mind makes its patrons feel like visiting a laboratory that is crossed with a rainbow.

A worthwhile way to spend cash while consuming emotions in cinematic form, this significant contribution to pop culture by the people behind Pixar is another outstanding addition to the studio’s library. It offers a universality that makes it an instant classic. Its moving storytelling deeply touches through a fireworks display of fizzing ideas, as if it is designed to alternate on triggering the tear ducts and the facial muscles. It is easy to love this type of film when watching it for the first time, but it will prove even more enjoyable after repeated viewings.

‘Inside Out’ Film Review: Happy + Sad
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Video #2 documentation filmed during the “Inside Out” Press Conference in Manila, Philippines with director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen.

Ronnie talks about his Filipino colleagues at Pixar and their advocacy projects, then Pete and Ronnie discusses their successful working relationship starting from the film “Up,” then all the way to “Inside Out.”

Unplanned handheld shots with my GoPro, and I guess the footage turned out fine nevertheless — thanks to the awesome responses from these two smart and creative guys from Pixar.

Video #2: ‘Inside Out’ Co-director Ronnie del Carmen Talks About Pixar and Pixnoys
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Video #1 documentation filmed during the “Inside Out” Press Conference in Manila, Philippines with director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen.

From filmmakers’ introduction to the “Inside Out” story development to Pete and Ronnie’s working relationship at Pixar.

Unplanned handheld shots with my GoPro, and I guess the footage turned out fine nevertheless — thanks to the awesome responses from these two smart and creative guys from Pixar.

Video #1: How the Story Came About From the ‘Inside Out’ Directors
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Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-PixarInside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar
Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-PixarInside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

 

 


Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out Press Conference in Manila with director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel Isabela Function Room.

Inside Out Press Conference in Manila Photos

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out photos by Rianne Hill Soriano

Inside Out Photos Courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Inside Out photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar

 

Photos: Inside Out Filmmakers Press Conference in Manila 2015
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Paper Towns movie review

Direction
Story & Screenplay
Cinematography
Production Design
Sound & Music
Editing
Acting/Voice Acting
Commercial Flair
Average

“Paper Towns” offers a lukewarm teen dramedy that romanticizes a type of a geeky schoolboy’s lost-and-found teenage daydream tale. Packaged to appeal primarily to pre-teens, it maintains a consistently wholesome voice that greatly downplays the darker side of growing up. Although the paper-thin presentation doesn’t turn out as deeply moving as it intends to be, it occasionally manages to remain grounded with charming supporting details that can still warrant a slight recommendation.

Adapted from the bestselling young adult novel by author John Green, also the man behind the book “The Fault in Our Stars,” this coming-of-age tale looks at young, unrequited love, friendship, independence, adventure, breaking rules, seizing the day, and letting go through the eyes of a regular teenager who is in love with the mystery girl next door. The funny, frisky teen narrative centers on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo. After taking Quentin in a series of risk-taking tasks around their Orlando hometown for the whole night, Margo suddenly ends up gone the next day, only leaving behind some cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. This leads Quentin and his closest friends in an exhilarating adventure to track down the missing Margo, the popular girl who loves mysteries too much that she eventually ends up being one herself.

This formulaic teen romance and melodrama directed by Jake Schreier may not be the most poignant nor groundbreaking in the way it handles its light and noble intentions, but it makes the clear choice of presenting the messiness of ordinary life to make its target audience identify more with the story. It focuses on the more literal than the more existential views about growing up, and along the way, make the simple pleasures of understanding true friendship as profound as finding genuine love in unexpected ways.

As this motion picture gets manicured to primarily appeal to the book’s teen fans, it makes the storytelling slightly too romanticized that the progression of the tale comes across as a little too polished and scripted. Despite a few resonant moments, the material gets weighed down by the meandering exercise in artifice and gloss in favor of the often too clean lines of fantasy and romance, rendering more contrivances in its make-believe world as the story moves on. With such issues, the gauzy plot’s series of behavioral puzzles find it difficult to provide authentic beats of awakening to really strike serious emotional chords, especially come resolution time. These make the picture a glazed down and a serenely bland adaptation piece that practically works better on paper than on screen.

It is worth noting that the characters didn’t opt for the unreasonably glamorous looks that many actors tend to prioritize in their on-screen performances for such a gloss-filled movie. Generally, each cast member possesses that everyday appearance that adds a more identifiable charm to the proceedings. However, this doesn’t make the actors free from the paper-thin characterizations from the script. Amidst the charming young cast’s attempt to help compensate on the shortcomings of the storytelling through a good number of likeable performances, their cardboard characters are still often too mundane to merit significant personal and social impact.

Nat Wolff as Quentin Jacobsen keeps up with the stereotype geek-and-goody high schooler character frequently featured in this type of coming-of-age spin. Overall, he delivers the needs of the story as a passionate young adult in search for his childhood sweetheart. His co-star Cara Delevingne as Margo Roth Spiegelman lives up to the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” archetype, but her monotone take on her role ultimately falls short in putting layers of depth to her character’s more mysterious demeanor. Interestingly, the supporting characters end up more charming than the two young leads in most scenes. The more compelling friendship between the three high school boys Quentin, Radar, the role played by Justice Smith, and Ben, the role played by Austin Abrams, offers more chemistry as screen buddies compared to the main characters Quentin and Margo.

‘Paper Towns’ Film Review: Paper-thin wholesome
Rianne and Philip Wedding Photo Canvas Design
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

We have eight wedding albums for that infinity effect. We opted for small, handy albums categorized accordingly, instead of a single huge and heavy one that only one person at a time can check out.

Here are our wedding photo albums I personally designed, each one printed via Shutterfly.

1. “Our Day” Album
This version shows the scanned copies of each album cover and page. A QR code is also included for easy access to the album’s online version, which shows the pristine digital copy of the album.

Our Day Wedding Album

As an alternative, use any of these two URLs for online access to the album’s digital copy:

Shorter URL: http://tinyurl.com/rianneandphilipweddingalbum1

Original URL: http://ws.shutterfly.com/qrcode/share/0e6e0a5d5849552992d38d26b532bfb85c6a5dd1b74ed00b6cbbd47cbb382743

This “Our Day” wedding album summarizes the turn of events during our wedding day in a relatively linear presentation from beginning to end.

2. “Our Wedding” Album

 

Rianne and Philip Wedding Photo Albums
Rianne and Philip Wedding: Photo Magnets
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Metro Manila Shake Drill

Manila, Philippines — Kudos to everyone involved in conducting the metrowide earthquake drill today. This is a worthwhile initiative by the government, in collaboration with private institutions and the public. Last Tuesday at SanLo, the drill allowed everyone in school to be more aware of what to do (dock, cover, hold; then, run towards safest and nearest possible ground right after the shake) and lessen the possibility of panic, injury, or even death.

I hope today’s technological breakthroughs can be utilized for further enhancement of emergency systems nationwide, most prominently the conversion of TV and radio stations’ broadcast into digital — which I believe would make it easier to have confirmed national and local government announcements of emergencies including crucial typhoon, flood, fire, and earthquake warnings — just like how it is practiced in the US. In an emergency case, regular programming will be replaced by unified local or national government warning.

In connection with this, the country should have a standard SMS number to text and inform local government rescue teams (like 911 less the person/dispatcher), since I think it’s a more practical and second best option to get in touch if the need for rescue arises. And for practicality as well, have this SMS number instantly activated only, for the mean time while we await to become a more developed country, after an official emergency warning is implemented.

Also, may we request any of the Public Information Offices of the country or whoever should be in-charge to provide an official infographic and list/guide of what the public needs to do in case of emergencies — each document easy to read and categorized into the type of emergency including fire, rain/flood, and earthquake. A standard, easy-to-remember, and go-to government website (.ph) where all these will be accessible should be properly disseminated to the entire country.

Things to Do During Emergencies: Metrowide Shake Drill 2015
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Magic Mike XXL movie review

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Average

For the most part, “Magic Mike XXL” keeps its commitment to entertain. As a sequel that capitalizes on beefy charm and well-oiled performances, the franchise delivers another movie that is all too eager to please its target market. This raunchy road flick dives into some quick thrills that are not quite as psychologically curious as the original stripper opus “Magic Mike.” Shapeless but generally enjoyable, it renders an easy-going experience throughout, courtesy of its goofily gleeful male comrades who are clearly oozing with sex appeal, especially whenever they are on the limelight. Viewers are supposed to come for the stripping galore, stay for the laughs and giggles, but leave the demanding storytelling expectations behind.

The narrative picks up three years after the legendary headliner Mike bowed out of the stripper life, while still at the top of his game. Something rekindles his passion for it that he joins the rest of what’s left of the Kings of Tampa on the road for one last blowout performance at the male-stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. While on their way, the guys learn some new moves, as well as shake off the past and build new relationships in between unlikely turn of events. They meet new acquaintances and old friends, specifically during their whistle stops in Jacksonville and Savannah, allowing the viewers to take a tour of the best stripping venues around the southern states.

This follow-up to the 2012 hit utilizes the road-trip template to promote an amusement park-ride sort of experience for its intended demographic. Although it delivers the fantasy goods of formidable male bodies moving in provocative ways, the mediocre, a bit too cautious script, which puts irony to the fact that the movie explores the idea of taking risks, really pulls down the story. The already contrived tale gets stretched even thinner that the narrative really lacks much storytelling weight. The barebones plot barely bothers to scratch beneath the skin that there is a dire need for improved narrative thrust, especially by the time the bland and ultimately lame resolution gets revealed. The all-tease, no release type of ending doesn’t really arrive anywhere that it makes the mindless worship of male bodies in motion eventually nose-dive towards tedium.

For its strengths, this Gregory Jacobs-helmed buddy road comedy, which is undeniably tossed out for public consumption, proves how carnal pleasures can be served hot so the audience can enjoy some quick thrills and squeals. With admirable testosterone frequently on display, the rowdy picture deviates from the conventional movie masculinity where male characters are expected to rip out the big screen with stereotypical machismo. It has its own gung-ho way of celebrating masculinity, as well as celebrating female sexual desire, in flashy ways. The fun dance moves of barely dressed men simulating sexual acts are filled with an energetic dose of movie lust. They rightfully blend giddy aesthetics with gratuitous man-candy sexuality. Through the years, Hollywood has clearly spent much time objectifying women. So perhaps, in this film, it’s about time to return the favor to the ladies in such dazzling fashion.

Mike and his posse consistently sizzle throughout the movie’s running time. As usual, Channing Tatum’s dancing charm seems second nature in his role as Magic Mike. The rest of the virile boys including Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie, Matt Bomer as Ken, Kevin Nash as Tarzan, and Adam Rodriguez as Tito successfully coast through their own outrageously fun dance moves, which are often highlighted by pelvic thrusts and sticky looks. They are able to carry the need for a light, playful, and fun-filled presentation meant to tickle and titillate without having to border towards the seriously offensive. However, taking the characterization a couple of steps deeper would have placed more value to their campy roles.

‘Magic Mike XXL’ Film Review: Beefy magic
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Entourage movie review

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Average

“Entourage” is a breezy romp clearly targeted for the fans of the bromantic HBO series of the same title. Lazily entertaining and good-looking with an amped up gloss, its lavish amount of flash celebrates excess and male privilege in Hollywood. Although it pays decent fan service with distinct traces of what made the TV series a hit in its own right, the material doesn’t provide enough cinematic storytelling values to sustain the expectations for the film medium.

Functioning like a frat party involving Hollywood personalities, this theatrical version brings back the series’ original cast as A-list star Vince Chase demands for his directorial debut as part of the new movie deal offered to him. In between the personal issues and relationship woes of Vince’s crew, the agent-turned-studio boss Ari Gold is back in business and very soon finds himself in a very risky situation when Vince and his wolfpack ask for more money to finish the project. The movie’s financier assigns his son to evaluate the production, which soon jeopardizes not only the financing, but also the upcoming theatrical release of the project.

This poorly plotted motion picture proves that what works on the small screen may turn out quite cheap, lacking, or even desperate on the big screen. While it is predominantly fine for such a material to not take itself too seriously, the story flow trips over a lot of half-baked issues. The deficient script skips over whole chunks of vital narrative elements just to keep up with the required testosterone-fueled fun. With its situational comedy unable to sustain its storyline or its characters within a reliable cinematic framework, the storytelling simply presents a two-hour episode of its TV counterpart, which evidently shows that what gets forgiven on TV becomes glaringly apparent and quite impossible to overlook in film format.

On the good side, the vicarious pleasure crafted by director Doug Ellin genuinely offers patrons with that same jaunty style found in the series. But despite sticking to the winning formula that mostly kept TV fans entertained for a good number of seasons, the ambition of this bro-mage of a movie still fails the franchise’s own conceptual ambition for a successful form of filmed entertainment meant for the big screen.

Highlighting celebrity worship, narcissism, and sexual objectification, this cash grab picture remains negligently fatuous for the most part. Often times, it turns out empty and self-centered and its problematic dramatic arc remains stuck in an inconsequential rut where a circle of guy friends try to have sex and ultimately party hard all the time. Its sexist ways make things feel very low-grade through the casually misogynistic treatment of its woman characters — even with scenes showcasing MMA fighter Ronda Rousy inside the ring.

The movie’s ritzy cinematography and production design simply map out an “oh-yeah celebration” of idealized consumption through the ostentatiously savvy sights of mansions, convertibles, Los Angeles landmarks, and women in bikinis. Even though these posh elements offer a decently watchable form of diversion, the movie’s shallow treatment and overarching moodiness fundamentally rely on familiar jokes and celebrity cameos — including those of Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Armie Hammer, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson — to provide brief amusement every now and then. The presentation generally satisfies its devoted fans by providing them brainless delight and comfort at the presence of the utterly familiar ragtag team. However, it makes no effort to seriously engage the uninitiated.

With its fan service gliding with confidence, this big-screen incarnation delivers plenty of inside jokes and mundane treats geared toward its followers. No matter how ridiculous and over-the-top things get on screen, its silly fun promotes escapist entertainment to keep that guiltily pleasurable relationship with its devotees. But beyond the fizz aimed at its built-in audience, this missed opportunity wastes the potential of a frat boy-bachelor party flick that can compellingly touch on the politics of Tinsel Town. It is very unlikely to make new fans and the more demanding viewers would probably remain unmoved by its aimless and vapid intentions.

The cast’s easy camaraderie aptly depicts the strong bond that made the series a commercial success. The actors led by Adrian Grenier as Vince and his company composed of Kevin Connolly as Eric, Kevin Dillon as Johnny, and Jerry Ferrara as Turtle seem pretty comfortable in the skin of their shallow characters as a pack of bratty wolves crying to the moon about their capricious place in Hollywood. But without any character change, without any arc and dependable conflict in its narrative, these guys offer nothing but mindless fun.

Jeremy Piven renders an energetic performance as the devil to be loved Ari Gold. The supporting roles turn out as a mixed bag. Haley Joel Osment is a hit-and-miss as Travis McCredle. Billy Bob Thornton as Larsen McCredle pleasingly owns the screen in almost every appearance. Rex Lee as Lloyd simply provides some comic relief as required by the lame script. A number of woman roles are merely left out as objectified characters.

This movie is packaged more like “a very special episode” of the series, offering too little for anyone who is not a die-hard fan. Its plain, unadulterated fun exploring the ego, money, power, and success involved in the movie business doesn’t cover any new ground. Its concept suggests mocking or even satirizing the industry, but what it turns out to be is practically the very material intended for such mockery. If this picture is geared towards promoting the industry’s superficiality, then it literally turns out to be its very own product.

‘Entourage’ Film Review: The narcissistic, sexist fun in Hollywood
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]
How does technology affect your life?

Shot December 2008, premiered June 2009… 6 years after premiere and 3 years after last award, Technophilia is still getting around. Check it out as “Film of the Day” for Viddsee, curated by Alem Ang.

technophilia 1
Shooting Format: 16mm

Screening Format: HD

Running Time: 7 minutes

Acknowledgments: Colorwheel Media Studios, Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), and Korea University (KU), Asian Film Professionals Training Program, Hit Productions

You can check out more about the film via its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Technophilia/178031655605594?fref=ts

Via its film blog: http://www.technophiliafilm.blogspot.com

Via IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1459060/

And Viddsee: https://www.viddsee.com/video/technophilia/ls76n

Technophilia Poster
Film poster by Joods Feliciano
Thank you to the KoBiz (Korean Film Council), Korean Academy of Film Arts, and Korea University for the support. Thank you to Seymour Sanchez for the opportunity to know about KOFIC. This is the unplanned, spur-of-the moment film that brought me to places. Thank you so much!
My Film ‘Technophilia’ is Film of the Day at Viddsee
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]

The Voices movie review

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Average

“The Voices” is a disturbingly comedic piece that offers a risky mix of macabre madness, melancholy, and morbidity. Crossbreeding humor with horror in its own quirky manner, this genre mash-up exploring mental disorder and serial murder jumps between the fun and the unsettling.

This stylishly grisly feature presents a surreal portrait of an American psycho. The story revolves around the dark inner life of Jerry, a seemingly normal, hardworking factory worker who tries to impress his colleagues in his newfound work. Although seemingly living a typical bachelor’s life, his mental issues slowly manifest through his verbal discussions with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Recent company events lead him to pursue his attractive English co-worker Fiona, which triggers a killing spree done in insanely bizarre and idiosyncratic ways. As the body count increases, so do Jerry’s grotesque conversations with unlikely voices.

This thoroughly twisted motion picture provides a gripping look at mental illness without resorting to the typical elements found in many slasher materials. The production’s attention to details contributes much to the film’s zany stylization. Its demented sense of humor blends well with the bleak and disarming dread in Jerry’s life, which kind of helps align the audience with this weird murderer character’s sense of menace. Its wildly uneven tone maintains a creepy air while delivering severe shifts in moments of joy, sorrow, and gore in various scenes.

While reveling in its collision of moods and ideas, the film playfully dances around bright kitsch and pop sensibilities. The storytelling presents a dark comedy with a delightfully strange amalgam of flights of fancy and sheer madness. Its pink-hued small-town setting promotes fun scenerios where talking animals and fridge-bound heads offer wacky jaunts into lunacy, clearly providing a comparative look at Jerry’s visually dull reality. The visceral gore found in the tale works great with ghoulish humor, often mixing homicide moments with utter hilarity.

With Marjane Satrapi at helm, the presentation’s wildly uneven ability to go back and forth between comedic simplicity and ghastly absurdity clearly aims to disrupt the viewers’ sane minds. The dramatic sequences interestingly wander around how a mentally ill individual’s mind can possibly work in figurative ways.

This tonally wild indie picture has its odd share of laughs and shocks. No matter how subjective the impressions for the film gets — depending on people’s personal tastes and preferences — some may find this warped comedy nearly too horrifying to be funny. But even though the concept feels a bit strained at some point, the dynamics of the storytelling allows for a shift in gear as the tale progresses, or at least just before reaching absolute terror or annoyance in the affected scenes. These make the picture a workable psychological thriller and dark comedy that fittingly turns out comically offbeat come resolution time.

The director’s treatment yields a delicate balance to make the viewers care about a sick man trying to avoid the sinister’s path, and at the same time, make the same people worry about a serial killer’s descent into madness.

Ryan Reynolds in the lead role works as a deranged killer on the loose. His remarkable range in portraying a small-town worker suffering from schizophrenia promotes an uneasy balance between his character’s sense of bloody mayhem and his nice-guy demeanor. His comic chops combined with his cry-baby-to-butcher appeal creates an oddball performance that generally serves as an off-kilter treat, especially for black comedy fans. His voice performances both as his main character’s dog and cat are quite notable as well.

The supporting roles including those of Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver effectively tie with Reynold’s sick sense of humor. They are able to hold together the needed vulnerability and awkwardness to maintain the story’s disturbing charm.

For the most part, the film remains unpredictable. However, some crucial scenes, especially those at the latter part of the story, turn out otherwise.

The film’s compassionate portrayal of a serial killer lingers around the thin line separating the silly and the stylistic. Without being absolutely profound in intersecting horror and comedy in the material’s loopy turn of events, some of its murderous impulses suffer from intermittent insensitivity. But one thing’s for sure — its tongue-in-cheek narrative makes it a point that its premise will stick to the viewers’ heads even after the credits roll.

‘The Voices’ Film Review: Quirky morbidity
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]

Spy movie review

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Average

“Spy” takes a deliriously funny girl-power angle to its espionage movie package. Exceeding expectations, it charms with its no-holds-barred spoofs that are finely crafted into its action and comic elements. Its physical comedy turns out robust and intense without resorting to typically overused farcical treats. Its greatest strength comes from its rightful dose of empowering action and embarrassing incidents rendered in equal measure. All these turn out quite likeable through its potently funny lead actress who finally lands a role very much worthy of her talent.

This spoof sub-genre offering tells the tale of the deskbound CIA analyst Susan Cooper. After a tragic loss, she finds herself working undercover to avenge her partner who falls off the grid while trying to prevent an impending global terrorist act by a deadly arms dealer. So from being the insecure unsung hero on a dead-end desk job, she suddenly undertakes one of the agency’s most dangerous missions and eventually transforms herself into the most reliable spies ever to grace the CIA. Putting herself more and more at risk in every appearance of an annoying top agent whose compromised status prevents him from taking the mission, Susan further proves she is more than just a desperate choice and an unlikely replacement. She shows how much of a top-notch agent she can be through her quick-witted decisions and natural fighting skills.

This entertaining parody tastefully dismantles the genre it belongs to. The smart script utilizes neat plot twists while doing some wonderfully seditious feminist undertakings in its own comic ways. There are enough twists to make its spy-spoof parts engaging.

Working as a clear takedown of Hollywood’s “007” franchise right from its opening credits, this action-comedy flick puts a feminist twist to the story and makes the details work on a ridiculously straightforward level. It instinctively promotes its spy thriller side by not skimping on the action. Lighting, camerawork, and set pieces complement the acting performances. What makes the tale more interesting is how it succeeds in presenting its kick-ass lead female character beyond the Hollywood female stereotype. Its off-the-wall humor also becomes a breather as it consistently shows the women in awesome action and comedy, while the presence of males in various mission-oriented scenes always makes things worse on screen.

Writer-director Paul Feig has a full grasp of a material that could have possibly ended up in the dumb-movie route in the wrong hands. He is able to draw the best out of his characters in a narrative that bathes in many ridiculous plot points. His storytelling remains committed to the flavor he wants for the film and ends up delivering scores of laughs throughout.

The cast members help elevate this motion picture above the average comedy level. They seem pretty game for anything that they commit themselves to the ridiculous material and they end up owning most scenes, if not all scenes, they are in.

Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper anchors the material with empowering charisma and talent that she may just have worked in her first starring franchise. This motion picture is likely to end up as a box office hit with the usually supporting or co-headlining actress McCarthy now getting the main role she deserves in this full-throttle star vehicle. Her versatile take on her character sustains the comic showcase the story needs. In this movie, the viewers are asked to laugh with her, not at her.

Rose Byrne consistently works as a hilariously scene-stealing villain. Jude Law offers a campy-style acting that fits the bill. Jason Statham delights with his tough-man persona, which is clearly utilized for comic effects. The rest of the supporting performances turns out as acting gems that make the story even more deliriously fun from beginning to end.

‘Spy’ Film Review: Delirious spy fun
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 2    Average: 3.5/5]

San Andreas movie review

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Average

“San Andreas” is predictable fun that hits the disaster territory. It is a heaving mess of a tale with senses-shattering effects to keep many eyes glued to the screen. Its fault is in its storytelling choices, which lack convincing depth and plotting.

This disaster movie presents the classic case of scale and spectacle over story. Its crumbling down California and Nevada sequences showcase pretty competent effects, but its narrative elements render nothing but cracks and crevices throughout. With no emotional weight for the most part, this predictable flick is best watched for its special effects showcase more than anything else.

The story revolves around a heroic public servant whose hang-ups with his dysfunctional family let him feel like it’s the end of the world — until a real worldwide disaster of epic proportions strikes. Every bit of the tale is based on the long overused disaster flick formula. There’s this heroic guy who can’t save his marriage as his ex-wife moves in with her flashy new beau; there’s that haunting past about the loving father failing to save his daughter’s life; there’s that romantic spark between two teens who eventually struggle to survive like the rest of the people around them; there are these scientist partners who stumble into a discovery of the worst type of earthquake to ever hit the world; and there are some heroic and not so heroic casualties that clearly add to the high body count from the seemingly never-ending shaking of the tectonic plates.

This earthquake flick directed by Brad Peyton opens up with great promise. The helicopter-saving-the hanging car sequence works well in its creative build to really kick-start things, as if all the energy in the movie’s need for mood and atmosphere gets focused in it. But as soon as the earthquake issues begin to dominate the tale, the ground opens up to a sadly familiar wasteland that swallows whole the potential for a good film. In no time, this plot-driven picture quickly degenerates from blissfully promising to fatally frustrating.

The cinematic offering’s template is so familiar that characters and plot points can be easily replaced by those from older disaster movies, with the latest possibly being the Roland Emmerich behemoth “2012.” The formula is so clear that this motion picture seems like “2012” reincarnated — only with a different family on the spotlight, but same everything: a family with relationship problems; a sidekick dying but still saving someone during the process; the smartest scientist in the world alongside media people warning everyone about the impending doom; the stepfather being a jerk as soon as the earthquake happens; and the hero of the story getting all the luck in the world by getting all-access rides via a helicopter, a plane, a truck, and a motorboat, inclusive of each split-second maneuvering to escape just about every falling building and other structural debris behind him.

While it is true that there are some engrossing moments in between the chaos of digitally produced action set pieces, it really doesn’t matter how impressively the buildings collapse if the suspension of disbelief is lacking. With the narrative’s loopholes and the endless list of forced details in the script, the viewers passively take the survival and non-survival scenarios as overdone and anything-but-realistic, which shall eventually lead to the material’s old-school commercial values largely slipping away from their memory.

In impressively blending practical shots and CG techniques for such a decently budgeted disaster blockbuster, the relentlessly over-the-top fun works more like disaster porn. Outstanding action with heart-stopping stunts abound. But amidst the fair amount of individually working destruction scenes, the picture ironically offers minimal tension because the story completely drives away from the sentimentality, emotionality, and/or profundity of the proceedings. The money’s worth is clearly geared towards watching the thrilling audio-visual flair, but a fair amount of storytelling wit could have saved the narrative. The special effects look sturdy; the relationships look weak.

What saves this movie from getting buried into the planet’s core is the charisma of its lead character Chief Ray Gaines played by the impossibly charismatic former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Even with the weak dialogue plaguing the screenplay, he is still able to swing in to the rescue while delivering plenty of muscular thrills for the not so demanding audience. With a wry smile, a squint, or a jaw-dropped expression, he often owns the screen to present a Rock-buster picture where the rock-solid hero is always ready to save everyone he could. Overall, the woody characterizations in this movie, which also stars Carla Gugino as Ray’s estranged wife Emma, Alexandra Daddario as Ray’s daughter Blake, Paul Giamatti as the scientist Lawrence, Ioan Gruffudd as Emma’s new lover Daniel, Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Blake’s love interest Ben, and Art Parkinson as Ben’s brother Ollie, are generally able to carry their roles into either the conventionally likeable or acceptable route until each character falls right through the script holes.

This movie’s epicenter is found in the middle of action and mayhem. Its magnitude reaches the top of the scale of mainstream formula. Its intensity boasts digital destruction with characters and plot being less than structurally sound. It is disappointing to know how it is being marketed as an earnest human drama that offers some informative details about what to do during an earthquake — a worthwhile and timely endeavor indeed. However, it merely allows the viewers to spend two hours admiring the work of visual and sound effects artists and technicians.

‘San Andreas’ Film Review: Epicenter disaster
Rianne's Score (Click post title for review)
Readers' Score (Click the stars to rate)
[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]

Mad Max: Fury Road movie review

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Average

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is supercharged with its own dose of resonant mythmaking. This action spectacle is not without flaws, but whatever narrative heft it lacks miraculously loses its ground in the storytelling — thanks to its adrenaline pill’s maximum overdrive of fun and pleasure. It proves a significant point that when done with the careful combination of heart, effort, and talent, a glorious symphony of violence, action, and manic flair can overcome the need for perfect story. The spectacle ends up so engrossing that it easily overshadows the questionable parts of the tale.

This “Mad Max” flick has more than just “What a lovely day” can offer.

This exhilarating piece of post-apocalyptic popcorn is loaded with fine madness in every nook and cranny of it. Early on, it readily gears up for a desert adventure full of mind-blowing action sequences to rival just about any other awesome action sequence ever to grace the big screen. Add up the subversive wit, propulsive momentum, feminist roar, and hilarious sexual politics and you get a full-throttle action flick that is inexplicably kick ass in every way.

Milking on the franchise for the fourth time after three decades, this “Mad Max” reboot, still helmed by the ultimate “Mad Max” hero George Miller, works as a road movie centering on the escape of an unlikely group from the greedy men in control of human’s basic resources. This leads to a feature film-long chase where a cult of manipulators and the manipulated do everything they can to catch the ragtag team led by Furiosa and Max.

This motion picture makes a stark statement about humanity’s violent tendencies. Imagine how these maniacs survived the world’s end and how they would probably blow it up again if they get the chance to take whatever’s left. Another interesting point in this film is how it becomes a testosterone and estrogen mash up. Max, Furiosa, and the rest of the escape group develop interactions and varying human relationships more than gender, culture, and beliefs and beyond what their wild society defines and dictates.

Plot, subtlety, logic, and character development get tossed out the window at the expense of staging a triumph of kinetic action in this motion picture. Interestingly, it succeeds in doing that as its hyper-accelerated rush of oil-fisted explosiveness spot-on hits that elusive nerve for insane entertainment to tickle the fanboys and the fangirls.

As an epitome of a badass thrill ride, this scrap-metal demolition derby makes it a point that the action never stops — unless a few good seconds of breathing time should be counted as such. The well-thought-of audio-visual frivolities are a lot of fun. They turn out as pure guilty pleasure from start to finish. The practical effects and stunts are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Knowing how much of the sets and props are real and completely functional, including the fire-wielding guitar and the speaker truck housing it, adds to that already bone-jarring, visceral impact of this limitlessly inventive masterpiece.

The spectacle promotes gloriously crackling entertainment envisioned by such a brilliant maestro. Full of relentless imagination aptly realized on screen, this two hours worth of rolling thunder is clearly targeted for action junkies. The presentation suggests that this picture is deliberately meant as an overdose of monumental thrills. An incredible array of physical objects moves through its cinematic space in unique ways that each frame can work as awesome wallpaper. Moreover, it lays out all the crazy on screen all at once without losing focus. Everything is an orgy of the loud, the louder, and the loudest.

From the cinematography to the production design, this towering, weird-ass heavy metal of a film suddenly redefines the action template. It sets a new gold standard for action cinema. Its action pieces make many other blockbusters, superhero flicks, and special effects-savvy offerings look like they were rough tests and B-movie projects.

Displaying a perfect balance of practical and CG effects, what primarily sets this movie apart from its contemporaries is how much it feels homegrown and handmade while still maximizing the benefit of digital wizardry. Its revved up vision showcases such a gloriously twisted design fitting its theme, story, and even its social context. It doesn’t try hard to incorporate its key messages and it just fits enough to make a hyper-accelerated rush of weirdness and insanity rightfully orchestrated to both entertain and tickle social values.

This gorgeously rendered warfare of a flick injects ferocious fuel into the franchise to fire up its sequel cylinders. If this is bait for another trilogy, looks like a good number of old and new patrons will be willing to line up for more adventures with George Miller and his team.

More than just its technical brilliance, the acting performances led by Ton Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa deliver a significant contribution in achieving the film’s revolutionary effect. While subjective, the ironically toned down madness of Max in the story works well with how he shares the stage with the equally toned down yet equally kick-ass Furiosa. Together, they shine amidst all the crazy elements around. They complement the insanity of their surroundings.

The way the rest of the characters are made to behave on screen promotes a strange kind of flavor for the storytelling, regardless of their level of acting skills. Miller really makes the ensemble work — making perfection even out of the imperfections. Supporting roles including those of Nicholas Hoult as Nux, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, Josh Helman as Slit, Nathan Jones as Rictus Erectus, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Courtney Eaton, and Abbey Lee as The Wives keep up with the needs of the narrative accordingly.

“Fury Road” is beautifully strange, violent, and thrilling. It may be flawed in terms of character development and plot details, but it is undeniably a flawless piece of crazy entertainment. Its whirlwind of fire accelerates to breathtaking heights that nothing else matters.

So buckle up because this is one hell of a ride. It’s mad as hell, but it’s one wild ride worth taking.

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Film Review: Mad symphony + feminine fury
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Check the official website for more Las Vegas Monorail information

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The Las Vegas Monorail allows tourists to experience the famed Las Vegas Strip in as little as $5. Its speed is just right to have the eyes feasting on the magnificent lights and structures in this bustling tourist destination from a different vantage point.

Aside from being a very fast, environment-friendly, and practical alternative to taxi and shuttle rides, this strategically located, state-of-the-art transportation system lets the tourists enjoy the sight of the city from above the ground — without the traffic and at the fraction of the cost of a car rental. Even for locals, it has its own benefits as well.

Cost-efficient Transportation

Aside from the single-ride ticket for $5, a 24-Hour Pass for $12, Two-Day Pass for $22, Three-day Pass for $28, Four-Day Pass for $36, Five-Day Pass for $43, Seven-Day Pass for $56 are also available. These rates are updated as of April 2015. Check out for promo codes from various Las Vegas travel and tourism platforms to take advantage of an even cheaper monorail cost.

Nevadans enjoy discounted tickets available at all customer service booths upon presentation of a valid Nevada driver’s license, a State of Nevada government-issued identification card, or a Nevada Sheriff’s Card. The local fare for residents is only $1 per ride with a maximum purchase of two single-ride tickets per person per day.

Convenient Monorail Stops + Free Shuttles

Monorail riders don’t need to worry about city traffic or spend much with car rentals and high fuel consumption when dining, shopping, gambling, and enjoying entertainment venues both on and off the Las Vegas Strip.

The monorail arrives every 4 to 9 minutes at the seven monorail stations along Las Vegas Boulevard. People can explore every stop and take advantage of the free sites in each hotel station: MGM Grand; Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas; Flamingo/Caesars Palace; Harrah’s/The LINQ; Las Vegas Convention Center; Westgate Las Vegas; and the SLS Las Vegas Station.

Commuters can also catch the free Las Vegas shuttle from the monorail’s routes, which further help save commuters more time and money. They also have access to the free shuttle services departing from locations along the Monorail route: Rio Las Vegas Shuttle; Bally’s/Paris Station; Sams Town Shuttle; Palms Shuttle; and Orleans/Gold Coast Shuttle.

Additional shuttle options are not directly connected to the Monorail, but they are mostly about 10-15 minute walk from the closest Monorail station: M Resort Spa and Casino; Palace Station; Green Valley Ranch; and Southpoint Hotel.

For more detailed information about the Monorail stations and free shuttles, check out: Las Vegas Monorail Guide: Nearby Hotels and Attractions

Accessibility

The monorail system is completely ADA compliant with convenient access to wheelchairs, walkers, mobility scooters, and motorized scooters. All stations have accessible elevator services to all levels. Properly harnessed and trained service animals accompanying persons with disabilities are also permitted in the trains. Every child under five years of age always gets a free ride.

Ticket Validity

Monorail tickets are valid for one year from the date of printing. This information is shown at the ticket’s upper right corner. The unlimited passes should be used within a one-month period. Once the pass is used, it will expire in either 24 hours or 72 hours. To serve as guide to pass holders, every used ticket shall be stamped with an expiration date and time upon first use.

Monorail Schedule

The Las Vegas Monorail is open every Mondays from 7 a.m. to 12 m.n., Tuesdays to Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The Customer Service Ticketing Office operates daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following locations: MGM Grand Station, both The Underground (Formerly Star Lane) and The District Entrances; Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas Station; Flamingo/Caesar’s Palace Station; Harrah’s/The Linq Station; Westgate Las Vegas Station; and SLS Las Vegas Station.

More Las Vegas Monorail Information

The Las Vegas Monorail is an ideal option in specific occasions such as the New Year’s Eve celebration when the Strip is generally not very accessible to motorists, as well as popular conventions like The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show and CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which attracts visitors from different parts of the world.

More Las Vegas Monorail information is available at its official website. Travelers are encouraged to tag @LVMonorail for their posts about their Las Vegas Monorail experiences.

Las Vegas Monorail Information: The affordable transportation around the Strip
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Della’s Kitchen at Delano Las Vegas will host a special farmhouse dinner Sunday, May 17 at 6 p.m. The event will tantalize taste buds with locally sourced and sustainable offerings showcased through five elegant courses designed by Executive Chef Jay Calimlim. Guests will be educated on the importance of local produce and how these ingredients come together to create a delicious culinary experience.

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception where guests will have the opportunity to meet Chef Calimlim as well as mingle with other attendees. Passed hors d’oeuvres will be served including Beef Tartare Benedict, Seared Diver Scallops and Chilled English Pea Shooters. At 7 p.m., guests will be seated and the culinary adventure will begin.

The delightful event menu will feature:

  • Spring Asparagus served with smoke crème fraiche, organic beets and pea tendrils
  • Durham Ranch Country Fried Quail served with local honey, lavender, smoked maldon and pepper mignonette
  • Berkshire Pork “Chop” served with creamy grits, baby root vegetables and pickled mustard seeds
  • Tahoe Cheese’s “Black & Blue” served with an oat and walnut crust topped with cherry gastrique
  • Lemon-Lime White Chocolate Cremeux served with oven roasted apricot, almond and hazelnut ice cream

The menu at Della’s Kitchen is focused on local and regional ingredients, including Delano Las Vegas’ own greenhouse, which supplies herbs for the desert-sustainable breakfast and lunch menu. Sustainability highlights for the farmhouse dinner menu include exclusive Nevada vendors such as Painted Hill Natural Beef, Durham Ranch Game Birds and Berkshire Pork, Tahoe Cheese and Mojave Desert Honey. From no added hormones or antibiotics to humanely treated and minimally processed ingredients, all of these sustainable options will provide superior flavor throughout this event.

Tickets are priced at $78 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and are available for purchase by emailing dellas@delanolasvegas.com or by calling the restaurant directly at 702.632.9254. Space is limited.

 

Della’s Kitchen farm dinner in Delano Las Vegas
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Shark Reef Aquarium Hammerheads

Las Vegas — The Shark Reef Aquarium Hammerheads can now be seen by Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino visitors.

This spring, two new curious creatures are lurking beneath the surface of Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. The attraction’s newest residents, a pair of Scalloped Hammerheads, were recently introduced into the 1.3-million-gallon Shipwreck exhibit.

Distinguished by the unusual shape of their heads, Scalloped Hammerheads reside in coastal warm temperate and tropical seas, and can grow up to 14 feet in length, weighing over 300 pounds. Shark Reef Aquarium is one of only three aquariums in the United States that Scalloped Hammerheads call home.

“Scalloped Hammerheads are one of the most distinguishable species of sharks and we are honored to welcome these stunning creatures to our aquarium,” said Adrienne Rowland, director of Shark Reef Aquarium. “Guests will be intrigued when they see these magnificent fish swimming alongside other Shark Reef favorites.”

Each of the Scalloped Hammerheads was retrieved from a sustainable and healthy population in Hawaii. Other populations of Scalloped Hammerheads were listed as an endangered species in 2014.

“We are fortunate to have these animals in our aquarium for our guests who may never have the opportunity to see them in the wild,” said Rowland. “This experience provides guests with a better understanding of the delicate balance of life in our oceans.”

Shark Reef is now home to two species of hammerhead sharks: the Scalloped Hammerhead and the smaller Bonnethead Sharks.

 

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay: Welcoming the Hammerheads
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My blog is back online… finally!

But here’s the thing… This blog is currently being manually restored. Yes, each post (except for the more than a dozen posts left in my workable backup file that only backed up my 2006 posts) is being copy-pasted back as blog posts — the entire blog that started in 2006, being copy-pasted back one by one.

With thousands of posts to work on, it would take a really long time to have everything back online. Lesson learned the very hard way: ALWAYS BACKUP EVERYTHING PROPERLY and MAKE SURE ALL YOUR FILES ARE UP AND RUNNING WITH NO TECHNICAL PROBLEM IN YOUR ENTIRE PLATFORM.

A big part of the problem was my hosting issue. I changed my web hosting earlier this month as part of the decision to overhaul everything, since I don’t even get a decent customer support from my prior hosting. This, alongside my own irresponsible way of maintaining my blog through the years, has caused my WordPress files to fail, leading to the impossible means to backup my blog from the prior hosting — I can’t even open my cPanel from my old hosting and it’s taking forever to get a response from technical support.

I’m taking the relatively clean slate to overhaul my entire blog: a much better, cleaner, and more strategic theme, design, and layout; and more organized categories, tags, and links.

I stopped blogging in 2012, the time when I had A LOT of writing stints from about a dozen of U.S. and Philippine writing platforms, which included websites, other blogs, and broadsheets. I didn’t want to stop, but I had to pick my priorities. Since I really needed a lot of money for lots of expenses back then, I stopped blogging to allot more time for all my work loads (imagine shooting, teaching, and doing at least 10 articles per day — everyday).

Now, I want to focus more with my own… I am still doing writing gigs alongside my primary works in advertising and the academe, as well as my polishing of scripts for my future films, but I also want to build back my blog, which I am writing for my own, not just for commissioned works. It’s my very own. I should start loving it again.

So in a nutshell, how has this blog evolved? Read my About Blog page for the short and sweet details.

Hello world, it’s March 2015 and my blog is finally back online!
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Crossing Over movie review

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Forced, heavy-handed, and overdone, “Crossing Over” gets so wrapped up in its quest for topical resonance that it forgets some of the basics of telling a good narrative. From its paint-by-the-number quality to the banality of presenting its subject matter, this misconceived immigration drama turns out as an incompetent way of mounting a multi-character piece.

Amidst the fact that this seemingly well-intentioned drama tackles realistic issues about U.S. immigration policies, the provocative points about the country’s attitude towards migrants, and the possible horrors of getting naturalized, it lacks the needed subtlety and eloquence for it to succeed. Too many of the hurdles in the story feel like a product of a writer’s imagination than being real-life experiences. Its message gets undermined by its cardboard characters and clunky script.

While the film certainly offers some viable stance for more people to relate to it, its crisscrossing stories, heavy ironies, and even heavier moralizing just don’t work. It turns out more like a muddle of good liberal intentions that get loosely anchored to a mass of pure Hollywood triteness.

“Crossing Over” is a blend of thriller and social drama utilized in a hokum kind of way. Being a politically-minded ensemble piece, its multi-character canvas about immigrants of varying nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in America really falters with the wobbly screenplay and loose direction. The storytelling gets unbalanced with its competing storylines. Its lapses into sentimentality are overkill.

The story is improperly fleshed out through stereotypical characters and overly structured sub-stories that keep crossing and bumping into each other, primarily dictating a general air of dull preachiness. It mainly strains with too many characters, too many story strands, and too much of an effort to cover all the bases. The characters are stretched thin with only the most overstuffed dialogue to express themselves. The focus on these immigrant dreamers runs into thematic banality because the film’s treatment is filled with much crass manipulation.

The camera work, editing, and the entire means of storytelling have that very amateurish feel to it. Scenes are very choppy. It’s like entire reels have been cut for whatever weird reason. Tied together with endless, flattening shots of American homes, highways, and establishments, it may be sporadically provocative given its theme and subject matter, but it is also often convoluted and dull with random undercooked messages and ideas showcased every now and then.

As a contrived saga with subplots showcasing immigration woes of all sorts, its markedly unimaginative sense of cinematic storytelling often offers boring moments with little new or insightful to add to the debate about the underlying politics and promise of the relatively unlimited opportunities in the U.S.A. — as mentioned by the judge during the oath-taking ceremony for the newly naturalized Americans.

Even with its unsuccessful mounting, director Wayne Kramer deserves credit for taking on the touchy subject. The presented issues don’t seem pretentious, just the didactic but ineffective way of telling the story. Somehow in some way, it is still an interesting failure as a movie that at least strives to be about something thematically relevant, even though it entangles itself too much that it fails to become a good cinematic offer.

The lack of subtlety in its multi-stranded storytelling makes the movie an overwrought harangue about the gates of illegal immigration. It spoils the supposed empathy for its subject and theme. The surfeit of coincidences weaving the characters together tries to keep the action unified as an anthropological melodrama. However, its intensity doesn’t live up to its very intentions as the sledgehammer approach becomes mostly off-putting and risible on screen.

The film has a few moments of poignancy and engaging acting, especially with the outstanding performance of Summer Bishil as Taslima Jahangir. Her acting moment is just bull’s-eye to the heart’s core — a very impressive scene that stands out from a movie filled with utter mediocrity.

This would have been a perfectly serviceable film. Yet, it merely provides hysterical little bits of what is already given. Viewers get what the filmmakers are trying to say about immigration and nationalism, but everything is laid down in an overly substantial form that seems mistreated to deliver more yawns than moral, political, and intellectual stimulation. And even with famed names as Harrison Ford as Max Brogan, Ashley Judd as Denise Frankel, Jim Sturgess as Gavin Kossef, Cliff Curtis as Hamid Baraheri, Ray Liotta as Cole Frankel, among other names, this issue-oriented movie remains a disappointment.

This illegal immigration drama is timely and well-intentioned; however, it is too contrived and schematic to generate good enough credibility for its subject matter. It is a serious film that offers some pretty good performances, but the sheer number of characters in the narrative dilutes their power. All these leave the movie in a bit of a mess in its own game of sex, violence, betrayal, and diminished nobility of the tradition of naturalized citizenship. From a purely cinematic point of view, “Crossing Over” is a bit too interlocking and hampered by its wayward and overreaching direction and overstuffed script.

‘Crossing Over’ Film Review: Interlocking stories, struggles, and immigration
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Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs movie review

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“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the first spin-off in the “X-Men” character flicks, is a considerably reliable, action-packed first attempt for an “X-Men” origin story. It largely succeeds on having Hugh Jackman back with his adamantium claws, with his charisma breathing the fire into  this superhero movie. For its scale and ambition, this motioni picture promotes heart and action through its own Shakespearean-style tragedy. However, amidst the strength of its regenerative charm as one of the “X-Men” pop culture favorites, the rather pedestrian and superficial parts of the script, the extravagantly loopy plotlines, and some by-the-number action spots weaken the film.

This film is not great. It is not bad neither. It still feels very much like every other mediocre comic-book adaptation. Some genuine archetypes and myths find their way into the mix, but the overflow of half-baked ideas adds to the clutter. It marries action and melodrama in a superficially cinematic way that half of it works while the other half becomes a major drawback for not having that much-needed deft for the material.

On the surface, director Gavin Hood mounts an action-packed adventure featuring Wolverine’s back story. Wolverine’s appeal proves strong with his mystery and origins uncovered for the thrills. The opening sequence looks promising. The emotional exploration on the relationship between Logan and his brother Victor is surrounded with superb action set pieces and a few complex character interactions.

With Hugh Jackman back with his adamantium claws as Wolverine, he uplifts the weaker parts of the film into a pretty watchable fare. He captures the essence of the lead character. This origins story would collapse under the weight of its unpolished parts if not for his considerable acting prowess, as well as his effective acting dynamics with Liev Schreiber. They know how to give good growls as Logan/Wolverine and Victor/Sabretooth. How Logan and Victor grew up as brothers provides the essence to the story. From there, things pick up toward the inner conflicts of Logan’s character.

Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau/Gambit turns out as a pretty good addition to the movie. Amidst being a secondary character with very short screen time, he makes a lasting impression without upstaging the main characters. Overall, the ensemble cast uncompromisingly plays for keeps: Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox; Danny Huston as William Stryker; Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool; Kevin Durand as Frederick Dukes/The Blob; Will i Am as John Wraith; Dominic Monaghan as Chris Bradley/Bolt; Daniel Henney as David North/Agent Zero; Scott Adkins as Weapon XI; and Tim Pocock as Scott Summers. The script may be convoluted at times, but the characters generally deliver enough direction to the narrative’s entertainment and emotional requirements.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is interesting enough to keep Fox and Marvel’s planned series of “X-Men” origin stories. For this offering, it is by no means perfect, but it is still an entertaining enough effort to please many of the “X-Men” followers, It condenses such a complicated origin story into a watchable fast-paced action flick; thus, leaving the door open for another “X-Men” prequel in the future.

‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Film Review: Adamantium thrill and tragedy
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Cinema continues to develop better technologies to keep up with the rising demand for valuable and entertaining film content.

For more than 100 years since its birth, the movie industry has evolved much as an art form and a creative industry. Since then, it has provided major contributions in the arts, culture, politics and technology. And whether it’s in Hollywood, Bollywood or any other film industry center in the world, each one continues to develop better technologies to keep up with the rising demand for valuable and entertaining content. And this is where computer animation gets incorporated in the film’s special effects, which serves as a powerful tool to tell impressive stories in the film medium. Instead of the traditional way of drawing each movement frame by frame (24 hand-drawn frames with incremental changes in each drawing’s movement for a one second motion), the digital process allows for less drawings and utilizing computer software to enhance each image of the moving picture.

A Brief History of Computer Animation

Computer animation started way back in the 80’s with “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” using computer techniques to generate the “Genesis Effect” scene. “Jurassic Park” also used computer-generated images for realistic living creatures in the film. The ’90s saw the significant impact of computer animation with “Toy Story,” the first full digital-animated feature that became a box office success and garnered many technical awards in top award-giving bodies including The Academy Awards. “Babe,” a combination of live and computer animated effects, became a huge hit as well. This animation timeline continued in the new millennium with “Shrek,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and many more.

Animation and Special Effects

Going beyond the realistic world allows the viewers to escape from their own lives towards out-of-this-world and hyper-realistic experiences in audio-visual form. There are even some cinematic works mainly relying on computer artists’ digital animation and special effects skills to make the film bankable with such visual flair and wow factor.

There are many aspects involved in the job — character design, digital painting (traditional painting techniques such as watercolor and oils are applied using digital tools through computer software), texture mapping (a method of adding detail and surface texture, a bitmap or raster image, or color to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model), in betweening (a process of generating intermediate frames between two images to give the appearance that the first image moves smoothly towards the second image where key frames help create the illusion of motion), lighting effects, camera movements, and other special effects and animation methods.

The full spectrum of animation in filmmaking is quite large. Animation jobs may include works for a film’s opening/closing billboard or credits (making the opening credits of “Spiderman” or the closing credits of “Alice in Wonderland”), a production outfit’s logo (making the Warner Bros. logo fit the mood and the applicable look for any specific film like in the case of “300”), special effects on scenes (like in the “Harry Potter” movies) and more. There are films requiring photorealistic and seamless 3D rendering and animation (like in “Avatar”). There are those requiring the use of motion capture technology where a real actor’s movements are captured into the computer through attached points on the actor’s body in order to recreate an entirely new character (the historical use of motion capture is best utilized in the character Gollum of “The Lord of the Rings” and “”The Hobbit” trilogies).

Fantasy, Epic and Adventure Movies

Fantasy and adventure movies like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “King Kong,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “2012” offer spectators the chance to explore worlds beyond imagination.

Filming such thrilling creations of the mind requires much resources. To a certain point, it is impossible to shoot all required elements live — and this is where animation and digital art become parts of the overall special effects process of creating spectacular fantasy realms for the viewers to enjoy. From the digital backgrounds to the magical creatures, animators and special effects artists work hand-in-hand to realize every filmmaker’s vision for his or her film.

Action and Superhero Movies

For all those engaging stunts and chasing scenes for films like “Wanted,” “Transformers, “Iron Man,” and “Sin City,” the magic of recreating or enhancing live action shots has long become the source of adrenaline for many action movie fans. Animation and special effects can make a huge blast without the risk of getting people hurt with an actual blow-out scene. Martial arts and all sorts of fight scenes are also enhanced to make them look more cinematic and suspense-filled. The way blood gets shown during fights can be realistic or anything beyond real — depending on the director’s more detailed instructions.

Horror and Suspense Movies

Using digital magic through the concept of animation and computer graphics are very important in a number of horror movies requiring gore and goosebump-inducing sights of spirits (“The Ring”), monsters (“28 Weeks Later”), and possessed beings (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”). With animation, special effects, sound effects, and music, a horror film becomes such a hit. Otherwise, if the audience doesn’t get to accept the movie’s make-believe offer, the motion picture loses the chance to tell a good story, then it fails to impress the viewers from getting those much-needed horrific chills.

Romance, Musical, Comedy, and Drama Movies

Even romance, musical, comedy, and dramas can utilize computer animation to make the storytelling more technically and thematically polished. It doesn’t always have to be a magical scene or a huge explosion. It can be a simple background change or a significant computer-generated image to enhance specific scenes. These are usually utilized to make things look as if they are part of any regular scene. Such effects are available in movies like “Australia,” “Mamma Mia,” “Shallow Hal,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

The Success of Walt Disney

Since Walt Disney’s release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, animated films aimed at family audiences have become the company’s niche. For decades, Disney has produced films using traditional animation, until computer graphics became a game-changing technology in the film industry starting the late 90’s.

The animation medium extends into the many formats becoming more available to filmmakers. Disney continues to explore the ever-changing playing field of cinema by also producing live action films within the same target market.Since late 2000’s,, showing 3D movies has become a viable trend for top movie studios.

The Impressive Track Record of Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios has a consistently impressive track record for quality feature and short films, complete with their trademark of having a short film before every main feature like in the case of their classic offerings “Finding Nemo,” “Wall-E,” and “Up”).

After a few films mainly pioneering in computer animation, Pixar films readily rose up the ladder during the 90’s to become in par with the works of top animation companies in Hollywood. Its box office successes back up the studios’ countless awards for both the technical and thematic brilliance of their films like in major award-giving bodies Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films for “The Incredibles,” BAFTA Awards for “Monsters, Inc.,” and Golden Globes for “Ratatouille.” The company proves that the right combination of proprietary technology and world-class creative talent is the key to the animation film industry’s success. With such memorable characters and heartwarming stories appealing to audiences of all ages, it is no surprise that Pixar teams up with the veteran Disney in creating many great films that are now mostly classics in world cinema history.

“Animation Career Information: Become an Animator,” A Digital Dreamer.

“The History of Animation: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Studio System in the Production of an Art Form,” Digital Media FX.

Why Computer Animation is Important to the Film Industry?
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2012 movie review, film poster

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Commercial Flair
Average

“2012” doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but it is still one hell of a fun ride. It is everything you could possibly expect from a blockbuster disaster movie: an irresistibly visual spectacle that is perversely entertaining. The people behind these films really seem to live up to the idea that: “You don’t get off a roller-coaster and complain about the lack of storytelling.”

This popcorn flick is totally not credible when it comes to its showcase of unequivocally cheesy, ridiculous story; yet, it is hugely engaging with its mind-boggling visual effects.

The story is your basic end-of-the-world chaos narrative. It’s your usual Hollywood cash cow with the doomsday premise offered for mere escapism. They sure do blow up things real good. In fact, its graceless mess may kind of insult the intelligence of the logic-demanding crowd, but for some reason, it still leaves most people thrilled.

It is everything you can expect from such an apocalyptic movie material. The special effects are topnotch in making the film an intensely gripping experience where the protagonists are expected to flee and escape the most horrific events happening around them every single time. The main premise offers the usual mix of a flawed relationship in a typical American family, a responsible and all-good scientist, and a devoted and principled U.S. president — all struggling to make it through the last days of Earth.

The narrative is a chock full of cliches. Everything is too predictable that it’s really just a matter of enjoying the movie’s audio-visual flair — and nothing more. Nevertheless, some philosophical and emotional elements of redemption and the concept of survival of the fittest at least become apparent in some scenes — for a bit of spark about people’s existentialist notions of the world.

Formulaic and frenzied, this flick is undoubtedly a spectacular but ultimately silly blast from Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”). In his tradition of catastrophic flicks, he offers another look at the end of the world in “2012.” This time around, it is the End of Days based on the idea that the Mayan calendar’s last day is said to be Dec 21, 2012. In the film, the earth’s crusts are shifting, causing earthquakes and volcano eruptions on a global scale, followed by inescapable tsunamis.

This motion picture follows the family’s journey towards their destination, en route to China, where the governments of the world have some sort of solution to the impending doom of the world through giant ships reminiscent of the bible’s Noah’s Ark, which convincingly shows the film as another Noah’s Ark story interpreted in a 21st Century setting.

“2012” heavily invests in cinematic time and popcorn. Its unrelenting pace, almighty effects, and sheer tongue-in-cheekiness make it consumingly enjoyable for its willing audience.

Emmerich provides rollickingly good visual thrills throughout. However, the movie lacks a strong script to support its massive scope and inflated length and turn it into a disaster classic in cinema history. It gets tad monotonous by the middle part and it further loses momentum by the last act. Things get too corny by the end that what keeps it really worth watching is indeed the fantastical, mind blowing visual feast it showcases from start to end.

This end-of-the-world story throws in bits and pieces from other disaster movies — with its familiar plot tapping into virtually every disaster flick ever produced.

Despite the consistently breathtaking sound and visual effects, the film’s acting performances are just a mixed bag. More often than not, actors including John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson live up to the nonsensical script’s requirements, but there are instances that they really find themselves dwarfed by the demands for CGI flair. It gets clear that it is quite a job to act in front of chroma screens and other movie-making machines, while pretending to be already seeing the apocalyptic mess described in the script in detail. At least, most actors are still able to keep some humanistic touches in their scenes to deliver that incredible sense of urgency brought about by the world’s end and that emotional struggle of trying to survive annihilation. They strive to keep up with some inane and mostly cliched dialogue.

Watch this movie for its effects. Take them for what they are and leave logic behind.

‘2012’ Film Review: A spectacular disaster
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airlines with flights from US to Philippines
For those intending to travel to the Philippines from U.S. and Canada, there are many airlines offering both direct and codeshared flights. For passengers traveling to the Philippines with flight itineraries involving more than one carrier (through connecting flights), it is best to inquire at the airport’s check-in counter if checked-in baggages need to be checked-out and checked-in again at the connection point, or if the baggages just need to be picked-up at the passengers’ destination.

Here is a shortlist of airlines serving flights from the U.S. and Canada to the Philippines (and back):

Air Canada
(Canada) 1-888-247-2262; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-840-4626 to 28
Frequent Flyer: Aeroplan

Baggage Information

Known to have the most extensive flights available from Canada to the Philippines and back, Air Canada offer international flights from all over Canada to the Philippines via Vancouver and Toronto. There are daily flights are available with stopovers: in Hong Kong, China; Narita, Japan), and Seoul, Korea.

American Airlines
(U.S.) 1-800-433-7300; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-817-8645
Frequent Flyer: AAdvantage

Baggage Information

American Airlines has an extensive U.S. network and codeshare agreement with other Asian airlines to fly their U.S. passengers to Manila, Philippines and other key cities in the country.

Asiana Airlines
(U.S) 1-800-227-4262; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-892-5688 to 89, (Cebu Philippines) +63-32-342-8066 to 67, (Pampanga, Philippines) +63-45-599-6657 to 78

Frequent Flyer: Asiana Club
Baggage Information

Asiana Airlines is the second major carrier of South Korea. It has flights from Canada to Manila via Vancouver. In the U.S., Asiana has a significant number of flights from major U.S. cities to the Philippines.

Cathay Pacific Airways
(U.S.) 1-800-233-2742; (Canada) 1-800-268-6868; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-757-2436 to 37, (Cebu, Philippines) +63-32-231-3747, (Davao, Philippines) +63-82-222-8901
Frequent Flyer: Asia Miles

Baggage Information

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, services three of the largest U.S. cities New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with direct flights to the Philippines. The other cities have partnerships with regional airline companies to fly passengers to the Philippines. Cathay Pacific has daily flights directly traveling to the Philippines via its two biggest cities, Toronto and Vancouver. It also has many codeshare flights with other airline companies in Canada to passengers to Canadian cities not serviced directly by the airline.

Delta Airlines

(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-447-4747; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-889-6440
Frequent Flyer: Skymiles

Baggage Information

Delta Airlines service flights to Manila from both the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., it has direct access to and from Manila with its own fleet. It also offers multi-city flights in and out of major Canadian cities through direct and codeshare agreements with other airline companies.

Eva Air
(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-695-1188; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-753-1380 to 82
Frequent Flyer: Evergreen Club

Baggage Information

Eva Air, Taiwan’s major flag carrier, has daily flights from four major U.S. cities Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York to Taiwan. Then, Eva Air takes the passengers from Taiwan to Manila. In Canada, Eva Air services Vancouver direct to Taiwan; while passengers from other Canadian cities take a partner airline to reach a connecting flight going to Manila. From Taiwan, Eva Air takes North American passengers to Manila. Flights are available daily.

Japan Airlines
(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-525-3663; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-886-6868
Frequent Flyer: JAL Mileage Bank

Baggage Information

Japan Airlines has extensive available flights in several U.S. cities, whether direct or codeshared flights. Japan Airlines services Vancouver and Toronto in Canada. From Vancouver, the airlines has direct flights to Tokyo. From Toronto, passengers need to disembark through Chicago to take a codeshared flight to Toronto.

Korean Air
(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-438-5000; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-893-4909
Frequent Flyer: Skypass

Baggage Information

Korean Air, South Korea’s flag carrier, has several service areas in the U.S. and it service direct flights to Seoul thrice a week. It also services two the Canadian cities Vancouver and Toronto. From Seoul, passengers bound for the Philippines can avail of several daily flights to Manila.

Philippine Airlines
(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-435-9725; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-818-4914 and +63-2-816-4302, (Cebu, Philippines) +63-32-252-8412 and +63-2-252-8917, (Davao, Philippines) +63-82-224-6977
Frequent Flyer: Mabuhay Miles

Baggage Information

Philippine Airlines, the Philippines’ flag carrier, has multi-city, daily flights from all over the U.S. to major Philippine cities. The airline also services thrice weekly flights in and out of Vancouver to Manila. These flights connect passengers to regional airports in the Philippines including Cebu and Davao.

Singapore Airlines
(U.S) 1-800-742-3333; (Canada) 1-800-387-0038; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-756-8888, +63-2-756-8877, and +63-2-756-8899, (Cebu, Philippines) +63-32-232-6211, (Davao, Philippines), +63-82-221-1039, +63-82-224-5608
Frequent Flyer: KrisFlyer

Baggage Information

Singapore Airlines has flights available from the Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. It also flies in and out of Canada via Vancouver. From these cities, passengers can get a connecting flight to Manila and other Philippine destinations serviced by Singapore Airlines from Singapore.

Thai Airways
(U.S. and Canada) 1-800-426-5204; (Manila, Philippines) +63-2-812-4744
Frequent Flyer: Royal Orchid Plus

Baggage Information

Thai Airways have flights from New York and Los Angeles to the Philippines via codesharing with other airlines. Passengers coming from Canada get connecting flights to Canada from the U.S.

Airlines with Flights from the U.S. and Canada to the Philippines
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popular bars in Reno, Amendment 21A number of popular bars in Reno offer good food, fun drinks, intimate spots, cozy dining, and wild atmosphere for tourists and locals alike. From upscale pubs to hip and indie-style night spots, the bars in this northwestern side of Nevada provide diverse options for partying guests. Here are some of the popular nightlife spots that are worth checking out:

Amendment 21 Grill and Sports Bar

Amendment 21 is an ideal place for enjoying sports shows, especially football games.

This casual spot in downtown Reno serves beer on draft and traditional American-style food. Its guest amenities include a billiards area, HD sports programming, video-game consoles, and internet jukebox.

Amendment 21 serves lunch and dinner everyday and the popular breakfast specials during weekends.

The Underground

As one of Reno’s largest music venues, The Underground features some of the best local, regional, and national acts to ever grace the night scene. It has already hosted a series of post-Burning Man parties and a couple of private events with shows ranging from the hardcore to the world beat.

It boasts professional sound engineers for their events and it has access to the hottest DJs and other music talents in the country. The place promotes that urban feel with the brick walls and spaces that can often fit the guests’ party requirements. The Tree House Lounge showcases walls covered in art, a stage with stripper poles, and a totally jungle-gym feel.

Providing another unique vibe to the he nightlife experience, it features a 4,000-square-foot area called the Showroom, an ideal venue for concerts, dancing, and wild party nights. It offers a professional stage complete with concert video, sound, and lighting equipment. It has a fully stocked bar with the finest bartenders in town. The Underground also provides guests with a VIP room and another option to enjoy the night through that more cozy, intimate feel at The Back Alley Lounge.

5 Star Saloon

The 5 Star Saloon located in downtown Reno features a diverse crowd including homosexual and straight party people who enjoy meeting new friends for a fun and wild night.

Guests come over to listen to live shows and DJs or play billiards. On the weekdays, it has a friendly neighborhood bar; while on the weekends, it prides itself as a jam-packed dance club.

This bar spot also features the 5 Star Saloon Store where people can buy merchandise items with the bar’s trademark including shirts, hats and caps, bags, mugs, buttons and magnets, intimate apparel and adult fun stuff.

Popular bars in Reno, Nevada
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popular Chinese restaurants in Henderson, Nevada near Las Vegas

There is a fast-growing demand for Asian cuisine in the United States. One of the most popular is Chinese cuisine, which is readily apparent with the number of Chinese restaurants available in different states.

Henderson, Nevada is primarily a residential and commercial area that is just a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Living up to the Vegas signature offering of awesome buffets and delectable dining spots, the popular Chinese restaurants in Henderson offer a variety of famous house specials, combo meals, mixed vegetables, noodles, rice, and of course, the Chinese restaurant trademark fortune cookies.

From a local’s point of view, which ones are the most popular Chinese restaurants among Henderson residents?

P. F. Chang’s China Bistro

Serving a mixture of traditional and new variations of Chinese food, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro offers a unique combination of Chinese dishes, desserts, and fine wines all served in a stylish, high-energy bistro. There is a children’s menu and high chairs are available upon request. Customers can also dine on the patio or request to reserve a private room.

This dining spot boasts of using only the freshest, highest quality ingredients in every dish. It has a variety for any guest’s preferences from raw food to cooked meat to vegetarian meals. All entrees are served with a choice of either steamed brown or white rice. For starters there are soups, salads, sides, lunch bowls, noodles, rice and desserts. They also offer a good variety of specialty hot teas.

China A Go Go

China A Go Go has a great selection of traditional Chinese dishes at reasonable prices and very large servings. A top favorite is the wonton soup full of veggies, wontons, sliced pork, chicken, and shrimp.

This Chinese restaurant provides fast delivery within a three-mile radius in any of its three locations in the Henderson area. The service is always fast and friendly. The menu constantly expands to suit the diverse tastes of the diners.

Panda Express

With more than 1,000 branches throughout the U.S., Panda Express is one of the fastest growing Chinese restaurant chains in the country — Henderson is definitely part of the list. Award-winning designers and architects provide every Panda Express a unique and inviting look as each location radiates a dynamic background matching the unique taste of the meals being served.

In this Nevadan valley, the Orange Chicken is one of the most popular dishes. The large number of combo plates available offer each diner a choice between two or three entrees and a choice between noodles or rice for their meal orders.

Popular Chinese Restaurants in Henderson, Nevada
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You don’t shell out thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions just to let the film bury itself inside the can, that dusty DVD container, or the inner workings of your dying hard drive.

Whether you intend the film to be watched for commercial purposes or you want it to be merely seen and touch lives of people for non-commercial film screenings, festivals, and other artistic endeavors, you need to let the people know there is something to watch out for.

Creativity and networking are crucial to effective marketing. From PR materials to merchandising items, they play significant roles in making the film better known; while actually earning additional money from sales through branded materials.

Classic examples of a film franchise’s merchandising items include books, shirts, button pins, bookmarks, keychains, bags, caps, paperweights, and school supplies (especially for children’s movies like “Harry Potter”and “Ice Age”) — where the film’s title or its sample art work gets branded into specific merchandise items. Sponsors also receive product placements in movie projects and their logos and contact details can even be placed at the film credits. The major sponsors can even be provided advertisements and write-ups in newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and sometimes, even the film’s poster. Events and advanced screenings to further create buzz also become welcome sources of sponsorship goods.

Press people are invited to conferences and advanced screenings. They are provided physical and/or digital press kits containing publicity photos, production notes, poster, bonus articles about the film, film trailers and other media files. There are also fun stuff sold to a number of stores and Internet sites, where more than just merchandising materials, actual props used in films get auctioned or sold. Sponsorships and ex-deals on children’s films are also common in fast food chains and other commercial establishments where merchandise items are sold or given as freebies.

Marketing sounds pretty commercial, but even independent films practice marketing in one way or another. It is quite clear how the marketing arm of a mainstream production goes. Now, taking the idea of marketing in an independent production: a person talks about the film with friends, then friends-of-friends, and so on. The filmmaker and his/her team build profiles of the project in various online networks, create a website, a blog, or a Facebook page, put trailers on video sites like Youtube, and even collaborate with certain musicians for the scoring and coming out of music videos with mutual benefits for both parties. They promote the movie posters or even create memes and even artistic and viral calls to action in as much venues as possible. People get screening invitations through post cards, phone calls, text brigades, emails, e-groups, and social networking sites.

More often than not, a motion picture clings on to reviews and words from those who watched it in advanced/press/block screenings. The idea is, “if the film is really good, people will start talking about it.” With Hollywood productions and even independently-produced films like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Once,” words coming out from those who initially saw the films affect their box office power.

In the Philippines, the main difference between Hollywood films and most of the country’s local films is how the value of marketing gets practiced and taken into account. To compare, it is still Hollywood and other developed countries with successful film industries that are able to market their films effectively, as they have ample budget and they have the support of their own governments, as well as many private institutions. However, this doesn’t mean that Filipinos should hamper their creativity in marketing strategies. Being creative and resourceful people, Filipinos, whether involved in commercial or independent films, can come up with great ideas and innovations on how to go about it. This also applies to struggling independent filmmakers and small production companies anywhere in the world. In fact, by this time and age, basic marketing strategies abound with or without a big budget. In this era of fast-paced communication and information technology where it is already very feasible to reach the greatest number of people through viral campaigns in the internet, film marketing is just a matter of setting priorities and putting effort and creativity to it.

It is as simple as: “If you have a film, you have to let other people know about it.” You have to reach out and let others share their thoughts about it. It is a storytelling medium anyway… so just tell them you have a story that they may want to check out, and hopefully, they enjoy it and tell more people about it.

Marketing as a Vital Part of Film Production
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Best Museums in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is not all about hotels and gambling. It has some of the finest museums in the U.S. While there are dozens of museums and exhibits of various themes and interests located all over the city, these are the best ones to check out when visiting Las Vegas:

Atomic Testing Museum

755 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119;702-794-5161

With 8,000 square feet of gallery and exhibit hall and a specialty gift store called the ATM Store, the Atomic Testing Museum provides multiple viewpoints of the Nevada Test Site and its impact on the country. It features many artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and pieces of the Berlin Wall and World Trade Centers. Its design offers a highly interactive experience filled with touch screens, motion sensitive plasma TV presentations, audio interviews with former workers from the test site, and other valuable multimedia components for the benefit of museum visitors.

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Museum
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109; 702-693-7871

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is Las Vegas’ premier exhibition venue hosting various exhibits of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art by the world’s leading and most influential artists. It has already featured works of many renowned artists from Picasso to Warhol. Its rotating museum-caliber exhibitions offer visitors rare opportunities to view legendary and historical works of art carefully selected from prestigious international collections.

Clark County Museum
1830 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson, Nevada 89002; 702-455-7955

The Clark County Museum provides guests with the uniquely valuable experience of visiting Southern Nevada’s past. Visitors can tour many sites such as the Heritage House, Mobile America, Beckley House, Esslinger Barn, Giles/Barcus House, Boulder City Depot, and Candlelight Wedding Chapel. Its Heritage Street features unique collections of historic homes restored to recreate lifestyles of important periods in local Nevadan history. There are replicas of the 1900s newspaper print shop Donald Reynolds Printshop, outdoor exhibits of a resurrected ghost town, a Paiute Indian Camp, and a Pueblo-style Exhibit Center providing a historical journey through its timeline from the Ice Age to the Age of Entertainment.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum
900 North Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89101; 702-384-3466

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum features animated dinosaurs, Southern Nevadan plant and animal life, international wildlife room, shark exhibit with live sharks, children’s hands-on exploration room, exhibitions about the African Savanna and African Rainforest, and other interactive natural science exhibitions and educational programs geared towards understanding, appreciation, and natural history preservation of the planet’s wildlife, ecosystems, and cultures.

Liberace Museum
1775 E. Tropicana Ave. Las Vegas, Nevada; 702-798-5595

The Liberace Museum features collections of jewelry, pianos, rare cars, costumes, antiques, customized automobiles, and elaborate costumes from Liberace’s million-dollar wardrobe. The entertainer and pianist Liberace was a mainstay of Las Vegas for many decades. His diamond-studded gold piano, fabulous capes, million-dollar furs, a Louis XV desk owned by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, an authentic uniform from Czar Nicholas, a piano played by Frederic Francois Chopin, and a concert grand owned by George Gershwin can all be seen in the museum. It also displays the world’s largest collection of rhinestones and other memorabilia.

Lied Discovery Children’s Museum
833 N. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89101; 702-382-3445

One of the largest children’s museums in the U.S., the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum features over 100 hands-on exhibits about science, arts, and humanities. There is an everyday living section where children can pretend to pick a job, earn a paycheck, conduct bank transactions, go shopping, and do the groceries for them to experience the tasks typically available for adults. There is also a section where children can simulate what it is like to be physically impaired. They can also explore a science tower with fiber optics and a weather station.

Nevada State Museum and Historical Society
700 Twin Lakes Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89107; 702-486-5205

The Nevada State Museum and Historical Society is a state agency and an educational institution that serves as a museum for the advancement and understanding of the natural history of Nevada, with emphasis in Southern Nevada and its relationship with its surrounding areas. Aside from hosting national and international traveling exhibits in many of its gallery spaces, it has the three permanent exhibits Biological Sciences, Regional History, and Earth Sciences. This museum continues to grow as it continuously collects, researches, interprets, and preserves the state’s past and present heritage.

Marjorie Barrick Natural History Museum
University of Las Vegas Campus, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, Nevada; 702- 895-3381

The Marjorie Barrick Natural History Museum offers a dedicated collection about native cultures in the Southwest and Central Americas. It carefully illustrates the natural history of Southern Nevada and its bordering regions and also serves as a valuable learning facility for students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). This regional center for natural history features survival arts and native artistry of the Southern Paiute, dramatic weavings of the Navajo, beautiful carvings of the Hopi, dance masks of Mexico, and huipils of Guatemala. Guests can explore the earlier periods of Las Vegas, the building of the Hoover Dam, and the pre-Columbian cultures. Many of its exhibits also showcase diverse and fascinating wildlife and fragile ecosystems.

Best Museums in Las Vegas, Nevada
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Las Vegas is not the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for nothing. The city’s bars offer much diversity to take nightlife fun to the next level. From the elegant and upscale Vegas club-going experience to the weirdest and wildest textures of club extravagance, this tourist-driven city has so much to offer for people’s varying tastes and preferences.

Drai’s

3595 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109; 702-737-0555, 702-737-7801

Located at the basement of the Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon (formerly Barbary Coast), Drai’s is a notable gourmet French restaurant during the the day and night’s regular hours, then it transforms into an after-hours nightclub by midnight. To date, Drai’s is the only after-hours bar and nightclub in Vegas where guests can literally go partying until the morning drops. It has consistently been the favorite of those looking forward to partying well after the regular nightclubs close their doors. As an iconic Vegas nightlife spot, it establishes itself as the longest-running late-night venue in this bustling tourist destination. This bar is known for its great house music and fine bottle selection and service.

As a trendy bar and Art Deco lounge bringing house beats and chill vibe to partying guests, this Vegas hotspot boasts interestingly hip, library-like furnishings and intimate interior design. It showcases moody bookshelves, plush sofas, decorative chairs, and tropical plants all with that impressive slice of artistic flair. It features a nightly performance of a small jazz ensemble that entertains the audience with light and soulful grooves. The warm and mostly reddish lights also set the mood for a taste of the newest sounds from the most popular and experimental DJs around.

Double Down Saloon

4640 Paradise Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89109; 702-791-5775

Double Down Saloon is a punk rock site located east of the Strip and one block south of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with the sign “Happiest Place on Earth.” This dark biker bar showcases vivid chaotic and psychedelic murals covering the walls and ceiling. Wild videos abound in all directions. A diverse list of touring bands and various local and regional artists provides live music every weekend.

Going to Double Down becomes a complete dive bar experience with its eclectic and varied mix of both locals and tourists enjoying dirty jokes, goth murals, live punk music, jukebox, poker and pinball machines, and stage performances. As threatening and crude as it is, it has that weirdly warm and inviting atmosphere in a completely punk rock way. The bathroom looks like a crime scene filled with pornographic images and graffiti smeared with a number of God knows what. Punk converts including hot girls, male execs, bums, hipsters, bohemians, and regular Joes and Janes can grease up with the signature Bacon Martini or the Ass Juice (a combination of a number of liquors and fruit juices). The bar also offers the infampus Leprechaun piss (a green concoction that hides its kick-ass strength through its well-masked sweet taste) and the awesome Schlitz beer.

Beauty Bar

517 Fremont St. Las Vegas, NV 89101; 702-598-1965

Beauty Bar is not your typical bar nor your average nightlife spot in Vegas. It packages itself as a unique place complete with full salon-style atmosphere. It is located in the east side of the historic Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, right between Fremont and the 6th. This gaming-free joint outfitted with a retro-salon interior is a 2,100-square foot location with salon equipment salvaged from the old Capri Salon and Style in Trenton, New Jersey. Its alcove lighting comes from the Algiers Hotel in Las Vegas. It features retro deluxe dryer seats, elaborately mirrored vanities, and other old school salon accessories and furnishings.

The allure of a 1950’s-era salon makes this trendy beauty salnghon-themed nightspot a refuge outside the usual buzz of the Vegas casino culture. It mixes the unique martinis and manicures experience and the manicure demonstration sessions that are comparable with the best masculine sports bars around. It also features live entertainment from top DJs seven nights a week at no cover charge, except during special events.

Diversified List of 2010 Best Bars in Las Vegas
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As an occasion of ethnic pride celebrated throughout Mexico and the U.S., the Cinco de Mayo festivities in the Las Vegas area offer a lot of great food and drinks, fun events, and themed contests around the valley.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at The Chef’s Table

Star and Will’s Residence 10029 Artistic Walk Avenue Las Vegas, NV 89149

Keeping up with the Mexican tradition of eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating during the occasion, the Chef’s Table invites guests to celebrate with them the annual observance of the Mexicans’ historic day of unity and patriotism on May 1, 2010, 5:00 p.m. Guests are expected to enjoy festival food including Barbacoa, Carnitas, Arroz, Frijoles, Pico De Gallo, Tortillas, Chips and Salsa, Pan Dulce, and Margaritas. There will also be a salsa contest for those who can whip-up the best homemade salsa. Those who are interested should bring their labeled entries during the celebration.

There is a $10 per person fee to be collected at the door. Reservations should be made on or before Apr. 29, 6:00 p.m. There is an option not to pay the $10 fee by bringing a bottle of tequila. Interestingly, there is a welterweight boxing match on the same night: Mosley vs. Mayweather. And if there’s enough interest and donations, guests can enjoy watching the pay-per-view fight while enjoying the rest of the festivities. The event will be hosted by Star M and Vernalisa, The Party Chef.

Lindo – Centennial’s The Gringo and Me ‘Cantina’

7870 W. Tropical Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89149

The Lindo Michoacan Gourmet Mexican Cuisine invites everyone for the 2nd Annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration at Lindo Centennial. On May 5, 2010, guests will enjoy festivities all day long with food, beer, and margarita specials, the featuring of the Karma Tequila (a top shelf 100% blue agave tequila); the live Mariachi Band “Mariachi Franco” performing from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the Lindo T-shirt Giveaway, the FUZE Jamis Mountain Bike and Coleman Roadtrip Grill Giveaway, and the featuring of the Karma Tequila Girls to further spice up the occasion.

Pre-Cinco de Mayo Celebrations at the Rio Hotel

3700 W. Flamingo Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89103

A two-day event intended to kick off a weekend before Cinco de Mayo 2010, the Pre-Cinco de Mayo at the Rio Hotel and Casino will feature the most popular Tejano bands including popular groups and folk and regional performers at the hotel’s pavilion.

The Friday event will feature: David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, Roberto Pulido Y Los Clasicos, Chente Barrera, Tobias Rene and Gabe Nieto and Jalapeno Express. The Saturday event will feature: Little Joe Y La Familia, Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers and Charlie Rich, Jr.

Comedian Rick Martinez at Harrah’s The Improv

3475 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109

May 3, 2010 shall mark an early celebration of Cinco de Mayo at the Harrah’s Hotel and Casino by sharing a few margaritas and laughs with Latin comedy sensation Rick Martinez. Bringing his style of hilarity to The Improv stage by 8:30 p.m., this special one-night-only performance by the Mr. “Spicy Latino Nights” himself will offer Latino music and stand-up comedy performances for guests to enjoy.

Tickets are sold at $19.75 (plus applicable taxes) for general admission and $27.45 (plus applicable taxes) for VIP tickets. The VIP treat includes special seating, meet and greet with Rick Martinez, and a complimentary T-shirt. Tickets can be purchased at the Harrah’s Box Office (702-369-5223) and online at www.harrahs.com.

Erik Estrada at the Tacos & Tequila’s 12-Hour Cinco De Mayo Fiesta

3900 Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109

Erik Estrada will host the tribute to Tacos and Tequila’s (T&T) most beloved holiday on the second annual 12-hour celebration of Cinco de Mayo on May 5, 2010 (starting at 11:00 a.m.). T&T at the Luxor Hotel and Casino will provide sizzling Cinco de Mayo food and drink specials, a Mariachi happy hour from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., “Cock-a-Doodle Duel” competitions, and an action-packed fiesta hosted by former “CHiPs” star and Cinco de Mayo celebrity favorite Erik Estrada.

Estrada and surprise guest judges will also host the Tacos & Tequila’s “Miss T&T Hot Tamale” pageant. Guests will expect a stunning lineup of Vegas’ hottest muchachas to go head-to-head in a competition of brains, beauty, and brawn. The winner will receive $5,000 in cash and will become a spokesmodel for T&T and Hennessey Black.

2010 Cinco De Mayo Celebrations in Las Vegas
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Shutterfly movie review

Direction
Story & Screenplay
Cinematography
Production Design
Sound & Music
Editing
VFX/Animation (if any)
Acting/Voice Acting
Commercial Flair
Average

Like it or hate it, then get haunted about the truth behind it.

Adding to Martin Scorcese’s brilliant filmography, “Shutter Island” carefully infuses the director’s artistic filmmaking style with a few commercial compromises. In so doing, he accomplishes his intention of building a disturbing atmosphere that lets the general viewer either go sane or insane, while deeply thinking: “What in the world actually happened?” In this key aspect, “Shutter Island” effectively captures its audience with a valuable concern over its distinctive and provocative subject matter. He mounts the Dennis Lehane novel of the same title into one motion picture opus.

There are a few miscalculations every now and then, including some continuity problems. Yet, these small technical and creative issues don’t greatly affect the bigger picture. Overall, the weaker parts are overcome by the film’s cinematic brilliance. Scorcese’s shots look very carefully planned. Without wasting any element in each scene, he provides significant value to every shot he makes.

Synopsis

Set in the 1950s, “Shutter Island” explores the story of U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels who gets assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a female patient from Ashecliffe Hospital in the barren and remote Shutter Island. A former soldier with a violent past from his experiences in World War II, he also bears the trauma of being unable to save his wife and children from a fatal end. He dedicates himself with his work as a straight-up honest law enforcer and investigator. He knows there are concerns to deal with and issues to address in Shutter Island and he is determined to uncover the alleged illegal acts and inhuman experimentations on the criminally insane people inside the fortress-like asylum.

DVD and Blu-ray Releases

Like the usual technical specifications, Paramount’s “Shutter Island” DVD and Blu-ray copies are both in widescreen format with aspect ratio of 2:35:1. Aside from the Dolby mixes, subtitles and dubbed options are available in English, French, and Spanish (the Blu-ray copy also offers an additional Portuguese option). The DVD has an Enhanced Wide Screen Letterbox feature for TVs utilizing a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The “Shutter Island” DVD doesn’t have any special features in it. Clearly, the producers are turning their attention on the Blu-ray market as only the Blu-ray copy has special features. This direction obviously paves the way of the changing market as how the studios intend it. Or perhaps, the corporate minds are just seeking for more opportunities for profit by releasing another DVD with special features in a few months or so.

The DVD is not recommendable because it lacks pretty much everything else people want to see in a DVD. It is a given that the movie itself is the ultimate consideration when deciding to buy a home video copy of it. However, given such a lame packaging for a powerful, thinking man’s film created by a master filmmaker, it is such a disappointment to not even include a simple commentary track from Scorcese and other significant people from the production. This type of film targets a DVD audience who are very curious and interested about behind-the-scene information and filmmaker insights. For years, the DVD audience has been spoiled with interesting special features that even the not so marketable and the lamest movies get descent DVD sales against pirated copies through them.

The “Shutter Island” Blu-ray has the HD featurettes: Behind the Shutters (behind-the-scene video where the cast and director reveal secret clues hidden throughout Shutter Island); and Into the Lighthouse (Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Williams describe the depths they traveled to portray their characters and the history of the real-life mental hospital that inspired the story).

“Shutter Island” greatly benefits the HD charm of Blu-ray. Robert Richardson’s (The Aviator, Kill Bill) ace cinematography pops off the screen in 1080p resolution and MPEG-4 AVC video codec. The visuals impressively provide atmospheric textures, lighting, and dense coloring in a palette that jumps in between mysterious realism and hallucinatory complexity.

With a sound design and audio mix generally keeping up with the masterful visuals, the Blu-ray’s first-rate sound in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 matches the film’s sinister atmosphere, brilliant music, and the audaciously crisp dialogue.

The one disappointing aspect of the “Shutter Island” Blu-ray is that it features too little supplemental content. While the two featurettes are valuable and well-made, there are no commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and other significant special features the general audience would normally seek for.

With the scant special features, it’s almost clear that, like the initial DVD release, there may be another profitable Blu-ray release to come which may then be branded as something like: “Shutter Island” Blu-ray Special Edition.

‘Shutter Island’ Blu-ray and DVD Review: Even Viewers Turn Psychological
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Film: A Collaborative Art

Most of the time, the only person who seems to easily get that ultimate right to be called a filmmaker is the director. But come to think of it — film is a collaborative art, an audio-visual medium created out of moving pictures. This means to make a film requires the director to work with producers, artists, artisans, and technicians from varying fields in order to translate the script and the director’s vision into a moving picture. Each has his/her own expertise that becomes an asset for the film project.

The Filmmakers

On a personal note, any person involved in a film production are filmmakers, regardless of the specific work s/he does in the production. Since “filmmakers” are the people behind making films, this supports my conviction that everybody involved in the filmmaking process earns the right to be called a filmmaker: whether the utilityman, the members of the art department, the lighting crew, the production manager, the actors and actresses, the producer, just to name a few. All of them are filmmakers, just like the director.

With advocating the conviction of calling film workers as filmmakers, it’s a matter of perspective and respect. This is not to say that I am making an absolute statement of what’s right or wrong in this culture- and art-driven industry. This particular concern simply means living up to a particular stand in an industry I am part of.

The Profession

Unlike professions requiring professional examinations and getting licenses prior to practicing, the filmmaking profession primarily depends on the outcome of one’s work in order for the person to have the “guts” to say that “filmmaking is my profession — that I’m a filmmaker.” Yet, at this time and age, anybody who has a video camera or even a mobile phone camera can come up with a film and put it up in Youtube… Ergo, “I’m a filmmaker.”

Claiming oneself as a filmmaker is really a matter of perspective and paying respect to the work. Like the issue that anybody who can play the guitar who can easily call himself/herself a guitarist or a musician, there is often that issue of some people branding themselves as a filmmaker in a manner that is more appropriately utilized by serious film students, amateurs, and professionals. Actually, being called a filmmaker is not about being an amateur or a professional. Either way, one can be a filmmaker. It all boils down to paying respect to the craft, being sincere about the profession, and being confident of one’s work.

Film Workers as Filmmakers
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“Clash of the Titans” is a story of the ultimate struggle for power as men fight against kings and kings fight against gods. This cinematic piece centers on the perilous journey of Perseus (Sam Worthington), the mortal son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), King of the Gods. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus leads a dangerous mission to defeat Hades (Ralph Fiennes), God of the Underworld, before he can seize the power from Zeus.

Louis Leterrier (“Transporter 2” and “Incredible Hulk”) directs this motion picture based on the 1981 film of the same title. This time, the epic Greek story gets packaged to propel to new heights through a 3D presentation of the mythological worlds of gods and men. Enhancing the looks of larger-than-life mythical beasts and breathtaking vistas spanning from the depths of hell to the heights of Olympus, as well as the battles of men, monsters, and immortals, “Clash of the Titans” brings a more immersive 3D adventure through ancient Greece and beyond.

According to visual effects supervisor Nick Davis, “We were dealing with Olympus and with Hades, so we had heaven and hell, and we had gods and monsters; there were aspects of the fantastical inherent in the story. But at the same time, we wanted it to be photo-realistic. We want people to believe a horse is flying and that harpies are real within the realistic grounding we’ve given the movie.”

The team used a combination of CGI and motion-capture equipment to bring to life the the Kraken, Medusa, Pegasus, the harpies, and a number of other characters. For the scorpiochs fight, they began by blocking out what characters would be involved in the massive battle. Determining the scale of each scorpioch which measured around 25 to 30 feet (from claw-to-tail), the special effects team led by special effects and animatronics supervisor Neil Corbould built a full-scale rig to act as a makeshift scorpioch. This was to give the actors something to interact with during the shoot. Interestingly, Corbould as a teenager worked on the original “Clash of the Titans” directed by Desmond Davis, adding feathers onto Bubo the Owl.

Another critical creature in the story was the majestic flying horse Pegasus. Leterrier said, “Pegasus is a winged horse, he’s the companion of the gods, and no human has ever ridden one. He initially fights Perseus, which is yet another obstacle for our hero to overcome.”

The challenge for Davis and his team was how they should overcome the aerodynamic problems to make a supposedly non-flying horse, given its physique, to look natural when flying. The visual effects team developed a complex system of putting tracking markers and using special cameras to track every motion very carefully. After completing the flying movements, wings were placed via digital imaging.

According to Letterier, the design for the Kraken, the most feared beast in Argos, took approximately five months to finish. The water was a huge element in coming up with a cinematic design as the Kraken would rise from the sea, so it had water cascading off of it within a very massive scale.

Most of the shooting locations were done in vast canvases in Tenerife, Wales, and Ethiopia.

Rounding out the primary cast members were Gemma Arterton as Io, Perseus’ mysterious spiritual guide throughout his journey; Mads Mikkelsen as Draco who would take up his sword to join Perseus’ quest; Jason Flemyng as Acrisius, a one-time king-turned-hideous beast; Danny Huston as Poseidon, God of the Seas; and Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, a princess doomed to lose her life if Perseus would not succeed from his mission.

Warner Bros. Pictures, Clash of the Titans Official Press Kit and Bios. 2010.

Warner Bros. Pictures, “Clash of the Titans.”

Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans: Behind the Scenes
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