Category Archives: Films & Television

You Are The Apple of My Eye

If you’re Chinese, you can’t help but be inundated by posts about how innumerable Facebook friends were moved by You Are The Apple of My Eye and how it left them teary-eyed. Clearly it does something right. It’s been a chart-topper in every Chinese-language market it has been released in and made instant stars of its two leads. So my wife was understandably insistent that we watch it, which we did this weekend.

I think it’s won’t be a surprise to readers of this blog that I don’t think very highly of this film. Teen love movies are a well-worn genre after all and unfortunately this film does nothing to break new ground. In fact, all too often director Giddens Ko falls back on familiar, overworn tropes. In fact, he explicitly lampshades it, ‘this is the fat friend, this is the joker friend, this is the plain girl who is the heroine’s constant companion’ because, you know, every teen love movie needs one of each.

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7 Tips for successfully invading the Earth

One thing that I didn’t like about The Avengers is how the alien invasion at the end is yet another half-assed one without a chance in hell of actually succeeding. As one QT3 poster put it, “How did they expect to conquer Earth with a few hundred guys on flying motorcycles?” Never mind the Avengers, the US military would be more than sufficient to repel the so-called invasion once it had enough time to organize and deploy. And this is with real-world military assets, not the fancy toys SHIELD has. In the interests of one day seeing a halfway competent alien invasion plan put on screen, here is some advice for would-be alien invaders:

  1. So the portal is the only way for your forces to get to Earth. This means that your entire plan hinges on defending that portal and keeping it open. Randomly scattering your advance forces around the arrival area is a terrible idea. Terrorizing unarmed civilians serves no strategic purpose and therefore wastes time and troops. Instead, you need to secure your beachhead. Establish a strong defensive perimeter around the portal and launch assaults only against enemy forces that are intent on seizing control of the portal.
  2. Once your beachhead is secure, you need to identify longer-ranged threats. Yes, the Avengers are a clear and present danger. But their military value is insignificant compared to human weapons launched from way out of visual range which can decimate your entire force in a matter of moments. This means casting a sensor net widely outside of your landing zone and preemptively striking at enemy forces that are a threat, such as that cloaked helicarrier with nuclear-armed fighters.
  3. When invading a hostile populated planet, it is imperative to invade with overwhelming force. The aliens did not employ overwhelming force. Their pathetic weapons appeared limited to visual range only and their largest war machines relied on physically running into objects to cause damage. That is terribly impractical and tactically worthless. Where were the alien equivalents of bombs, artillery and cruise missiles? In fact, given that collateral damage wasn’t a concern for the invaders, why not just saturate the target area with lots and lots munitions before the first soldier even stepped through the portal? If brute force doesn’t work, then you’re not using enough.
  4. For that matter, why are you using an infantry heavy invasion strategy? They’re soft and have limited offensive power. Where are the alien tanks (remember US M1 Abrams tanks have an effective killing range of over 2.5 km, you need to have better performing equivalent tanks) and the alien fighter craft? Leave the infantry at home, at least until you’ve established secure control of a decent chunk of the planet, and bring only the big guns. Use infantry to police the local population only after organized resistance to your conquest have been decimated.
  5. Do not, repeat do not, run your entire command and communications system out of a single base, no matter how powerful and impregnable you think it is. If destroying your mothership shuts down your entire invasion force, then you’re doing it wrong. Always have back up command posts. In any case, deployed units that are cut off must be able to function autonomously based on last received orders and reports until the command hierarchy can be re-established.
  6. Defend your high-value assets, such as motherships, in depth. Employ screening elements so that enemy forces must go through them to reach your mothership. If your mothership lacks even basic defensive mechanisms that allow it to detect and intercept incoming hostile projectiles, well, you really should build some in before kicking off the invasion.
  7. If your enemy has nukes and you do not possess weapons of at least equivalent potency, I’m sorry but you lose. If you do not possess a technological edge over the enemy planet, then you shouldn’t be invading in the first place. In fact, you should be prepared to be invaded instead. And if they have nukes and you don’t and their nukes can kill anything and everything you have, believe me, you do not possess a technological edge no matter how scary you think your flying worms are.

Hopefully with the help of these handy tips future alien invaders will give a better go of it so that our heroes can finally have some serious enemies to fight.

Avengers

About four years ago, I wrote about this being the golden age of superhero films. I can now say with confidence that the golden age has reached its zenith with The Avengers. Yes, other films like Christopher Nolan’s Batman series and Watchmen have shown that superhero films don’t necessarily have to be mere action movies, they can aspire to be something more. But it’s obvious that with modern film-making techniques that allow anything at all that we can imagine to be put onscreen, action films and the superhero genre are a match made in heaven. And as Davin Arul of The Star has commented, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect superhero action film that this.

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Mad Men

My wife and I don’t watch television in the normal sense. What we do is we pick a season of a show after it has finished airing and watch an episode every night until we’re done with the season. If we like the show, we get the next season and so on. In the case of Mad Men, after we’d finished the first season, we went right out and got seasons two to four. It’s just that good.

Choosing to give the first season a try was a no-brainer given the plethora of awards this shown has won. But it wasn’t quite the show we expected it to be. The premise is an inside view of a middleweight advertising firm set in 1960s America. As such we expected to see all manner of creative ad campaigns and the wacky people who come up with them. This show does admittedly have that. But mostly what it does is act as a sort of time capsule of what living in this period was like. And in a “so similar and yet so different” sort of way, this makes it incredibly fascinating to watch.

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Favorite Films (No. 3)

Once again, more than two years have passed since I last time I wrote one of these posts. Check out the first of these from back in 2007 here and my update from 2009 here. All the usual caveats apply: favorite films are not best films and the date that this post is made has nothing to do with the release dates of the films featured herein. Always consider these lists to be an addendum to previous lists, not a replacement. And since everyone hates reading long prefaces, let’s get right down to it and just refer to the previous posts if you’re still confused.

Spoilers may follow so consider yourself warned.
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The Book of Eli

I was probably among the earliest to hear about this film if only because the story was written by Gary Whitta, a prominent QT3 member, and he posted about the project years before it made it onto the silver screen. It sounded like a standard Hollywood action movie, with some religious overtones that I usually dislike, so I didn’t make watching it a priority. So when I finally did watch it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much nuance it has and how intelligently it handles the religious theme.

For those who don’t know, Whitta was involved in founding the UK edition of PC Gamer magazine, so he has deep roots in videogaming way before he made it big in Hollywood. He’s also a big fan of Fallout 3 and as a gamer, I’m ticked by how it was an unmistakable source of inspiration for this film. There’s the obvious monochromatic look of the film for one thing and the concept of a heavily-armed lone wanderer walking across the post-apocalyptic landscape on a vital quest. At one point Eli is walking along an elevated highway and is nonplussed to see that it has shattered, a scene perfectly replicated from Fallout 3.

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Source Code

I heard that this was a mindbender film so I embargoed myself out of reading anything about it. That means no reviews, no forum posts talking about it, nothing. That’s probably why I enjoyed the film as much as I did, given that:

  1. It has a terrible title which tells you nothing whatsoever about the subject of the film and, more importantly, is a misnomer given that the term “source code” in computer programming does not mean anything even vaguely resembling what they refer to in the film.
  2. The science involved is claptrap of the lowest order. How do you explain how a dead man’s mind can contain all the information in the universe? It’s quantum mechanics. Parabolic calculus. Just brilliant.

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