Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Friday, May 20, 2005

My Obligatory Star Wars Episode III Review: "Revenge Of The Sith" (2005)

why'd we pick the same color lightsaber?

If you haven't heard of Star Wars by now you probably have been living in a cave somewhere in Siquijor. The third and final installment of the Star Wars prequels "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith", finally premiered yesterday in theaters worldwide. And I tell you, it kicks more tail than all Jedis put together.

I'm gonna be a little spoiler-unfriendly on this one. It's very hard to describe it without giving out some details. I assure you though, my review won't give much.

We find Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) in the peak of his Jedi abilities and, obviously, will be witness to his descent into the darkside and to become the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Also in this we see how Anakin turns into the dark lord in very graphic detail. I can talk about this movie all day but I would inevitably spoil the movie for whoever hasn't seen it.
We also see Chancellor Palpatine and his inevitable revalation as the dark Sith Master Darth Sidious otherwise known as the Emperor in the old trilogy. Talk about an extreme makeover.
We also see Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) as a senior Jedi Master and General to the clone army and as a younger version of Alec Guiness, the Obi Wan of the old trilogy.
Padme(Natalie Portman)has become more mature and more beautiful, and pregnant to the twin Jedi heirs Luke and Leia.
this is the best toilet everThe best and most memorable performance is awarded to Ian McDiarmid who plays Palpatine. We see a lot of him in this one. The scenes that eluded him in the old movies, where even as the dark master behinfd the Empire, served more as a backdrop to Darth vader rather than a main villain. As they say in showbiz, it's his moment to shine.

Other characters like Mace Windu (Samuel Jackson) and the master Yoda (Frank Oz)also make some cool, although not really surprising, character developments. Mace's "electriying" exit and more of Yoda's bouncy Jedi action.We also see Count Dooku's bowing out, hands down (or out) to the new apprentice.

tickle, tickleThe introduction of new character General Grievous was a welcome surprise to many SW fans. His 4 armed lightsaber duel with Obi Wan is definitely one for the books, however no one can beat the Darth Maul vs. Obi wan duel. We also get introduced to the Wookies and their planet, here we see a Chewbacca cameo of sorts, although he doesn't do much.

mabuhay ang balbon society!!The first 20 minutes of the movie are simply amazing. The movie starts at the peak of the Clone Wars and we are thrust right into it via The most elaborate space dogfight scene ever created for film.

yoda looks fro Jimmy Smits' missing earring.We are also treated with multiple lightsaber duels in the beginning, middle and latter parts of the move, something that old Georgie should have thought of in the earlier movies.

What the movie lacked, though, was more Darth Vader. we only get to see him five minutes before the movie ends. I just wish that he had been given more screen time and an action sequence.

All in all, pound for pound, it is the best of the Star Wars prequels and is in every way, the Star Wars prequel we all wanted to see.
astig moment

Check out some other great (albeit spoiler-rich) reviews, both positive and negative from retrocrush, Roger Ebert and Kevin Smith

Rocketboy's Rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Essay: "My Ride with Che Guevara"

image stolen from GoogleI had just seen "The Motorcycle Diaries" a few days ago and was prompted to review my thoughts on, or against Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Romantic as the movie was, further banking on the already romantic life of Che, I still was a cynic on how this man carried his ideologies to fruition. I have to say I liked the movie, very much, I may add, but my thoughts on this transcend more than just movie aesthetics.

My Pro-Che days
I, in my college days, thought that Che Guevara was the coolest cat in the field of politics. Just like anyone else, I got to know about this dude through those eponymous t-shirt prints and Rage Against the Machine videos. My mother would later confess that during her college days, he was revered of as some sort of a sex symbol because of his rebellious nature and "righteous" ideology, not to mention the fact that he was a "guapo" latino. My interest in this person peaked to the point that I would go to the library an find out more about this larger-than-life character.
As a student-journalist, I was sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed majority, automatically putting me on Che's side. His methods on Guerilla Warfare were totally against what was being taught in the military ROTC.

In order to render your opponent weaker, you need to be hidden. Dont group together. Spread out. Avoid being seen.

It is better for you to wound your opponent than kill him. It slows down the entire opponent's unit. Making the rest of them easier to kill.

Guerillas use their opponent's weapons against them. The more weapons they steal, the more they know the opponent gets weaker.

And so on and so forth....

As a 19 year old in a catholic college, you get to be sensitive to the burgeoning difference between rich and poor and ultimately feel the responsibility to make a difference.
It seemed, for a while, I was having positive feelings towards communism.

My Anti-Che days
After college I went on a 2 year mission for my church. I kept a journal. My own "Motorcycle Diary". I was exposed to the realities of Filipino indigenous poverty (as well as urban poverty). You would think that I would be so angered and driven to join the ranks of the mountainfolk to revolt against our corrupt government at this point.

This was not the case.

I experienced, through the guidance of my church and prayers to God that the answer to poverty was not revolution to change government, but to change one's self from within and start influencing people to do the same. Never in the two years that I was in Cebu did I feel angry towards anything. I felt love and compassion. The revolution I experienced was more spiritual. And the changes, although slow at minimal at first, were effective.
After my mission, I became a strong anti-communist. Although it's end goal is noble and applaudable (i.e., a utopian society), I believe that communism will ultimately destroy humanity and everything we believe to be good and true if it propagates more than it has.
As an ally of Fidel Castro, Che was labeled a communist, so I was against him as well. I learned to dislike guerilla warfare principles and totally shun his influence from my Christian head.
The disenfranchised youth, not knowing who he is or what he represented, keep cashing in on him as a romatic figure by buying items bearing his image. Bags, t-shirts, pins, buttons, caps, everything with the Che with the hat. My friend once asked a punk-puser kid who he thought the image on his shirt was. The kid said "The drummer of Rage Against the Machine".

I never bought a Che Guevara t-shirt, no matter how nice it looked.

What I think of Che Today
Picking up wher I left off during my college days, I started researching on Che again. I find that many of the things I previously knew about him take on a different light after I view them on recently acquired my post-journey perspective. There is a theory that he wasn't even a Communist to begin with, or at least, not in the most traditional sense of the word.
I guess I am making may peace with Che. My ignorance of his ideologies may be some of the reasons why I kind of 'fell away' from him.
I still think Che was a misguided person gifted with extraordinary charisma. Since he was a physician, he was geared to analyze things scientifically. In "The Motorcycle Diaries", he was just around the same age as I was when I went on my own personal journey. These years were very formative for me, and it definitely was for him as well. I had spiritual guidance throughout my stint, he didn't. He had tons of charisma. I didn't. He influenced entire nations. I influenced a handful of people. I don't mean to sound condescending parelleling my name with his. My point, if well taken, proves that both the influential and mediocre go through, essentially, the same experiences, with vastly different results. What really matters, if the use that influence for good or bad.

Peace, 'Che. Peace.

Hasta la Victoria siempre!

Che and I riding home

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.”
Che Guevara

with items taken from

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Preview: "V For Vendetta"

Nothing comares 2u!
The Wachowski Brothers are up for another go in the comics to movie franchise. V For Vendetta is the latest project being worked on by the brothers since their last little project called The Matrix Trilogy. A bald (but still beautiful) Natalie Portman will play a woman rescued by a mysterious revoulutionary known only as "V" bent on fighting the powers that be in totalitarian-ruled England.
Seems like the brothers like sticking to the "Fight The Power" theme. This, by the way does not seem to have anything to do with Artifiial Intelligence or digital worlds or brain uploading or anything of that sort. But we really don't know what these kids are cooking up now, do we?

By the way, this just in. The role of V originally was given to James Purefoy, who quit for undisclosed reasons and is now being replaced by...Hugo "Agent Smith" Weaving.

Welcome back, Mr. Smith, we missed you!

watch out! Zorro just lost is mask!

Props to

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Movie Review: "Sa Aking Pagkakagising Mula sa Kamulatan" (2005)

During the Ayala parade of the Makati Day festivities, I was stranded in my office since I could not get a jeep to ride home because parade closed the entire stretch of Ayala. Lucky for me I had the best sleep I had in days in the office (I sleep in the morning and wake up at around 1pm) and decided to go see a movie. Upon reaching the main lobby of G1, which is usually covered with posters and streamers for both local and international cinema mostly cheesy, but there are a few good ones. I was greeted by this huge but humble poster of a Tagalog digital movie called Sa Aking Pagkakagising Mula sa Kamulatan (My Awakening from Consciousness)by newbie director Ato M. Bautista. Being a novice critic of digital cinema and a rabid supporter of local independent film, I decided to go watch this movie instead of that Ridley Scott crusade movie. I shell out my P75 with no prior knowledge 3 minutes ago that the movie existed.

Magka size pala tayo ng paa..The story is about a shy teenage boy named Rey who lives in the more familiar parts of Manila (although not exactly specified, you can tell from the uban decay on the wood finished houses and the LRT) and a gang of deadbeats and stambays who gang up on him and beat him to a pulp. Much of the movie deals with what led to the events said above. The unsatisfied girlfriend, the jealous "siga" the lustful gay hairdresser, all of these and more related stories meld into a character study of the urban Filipino teen in a dark gritty, realistic manner. The fact that this movie was recorded with a digital camera adds to the realness and rawness of the streets and its inhabitants. Ketchup Eusebio as Pogi is both funny and irritating at times. I'm not really used to seeing Ketchup cuss like an inmate. Expect a lot of expletives and rude sexual dialogue not to mention a few scenes that are difficult to watch, so be warned. Also, look out for performances form very familiar faces like Lito Pimentel, Archie Alemania and a surprisingly serious Empoy Marquez as the snatcher with a heart. Carlo Aquino's toned down performance as Rey is at times bland but gets redemption as the movie coasts along. Urban life is depicted quite nicely and it runs kind of like a miniature City of God.

What I didn't like about this movie was that, since it was done in digital format, was the pixellation and the editing snags (which kills the movie's continuity). It was kind of distracting. But hey, I'm a greenie when it comes to digital, guess we have to deal with that.

Overall, it is a satisfying watch. I actually had to see it twice to see if I really liked it. Catch it while it's stil in G1.

If you want a second opinion, check out this article.

Rocketboy's Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Preview: Dream Theater, "Octavarium"

...something about giant balls, heheheh.After John Myung announced that they have a new album out during his bass clinic. The entire crowd of 1000 cheered in approval. It's not like Dream Theater doesn't come out with an album every two years. These boys just don't lose their edge. I just hope that Octavarium is better than their last one Train of Thought which, to me, was a real dissapointment. Judging from the cover (although that doesn't really say anything about what's inside, duh) I would imagine this being like their Falling into Infinity album.

It is Finished.

Image Stolen from George LucasI am super excited to see The Revenge of the Sith in 2 weeks. All the critics say that it looks to be the best of the new three. It should be. A two-plus hours and all the buildup the first two movies established for this grand finale, this will movie will decide whether George Lucas shoud be revered as a demigod or stoned to death with all his Star Wars merchandise.

I'm gonna kill that makup artist!Another movie I am excited to see in the near future is Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. If you have hung out with me with this blog long enough, you would know how stoked I am to see the third installment of Chan Wook Park's revenge trilogy. I have been posting really trivial stuff about this film including the proposed posters that accidentally leaked out of the web. They had just wrapped up shooting last week. According to Twitch, the teaser trailer is already available for download.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Movie Review: "The Assasination Of Richard Nixon" (2004)

what's your flava?Sean Penn is not a star, he's an actor.
In The Assasination on Richard Nixon, again, he plays another offbeat character, this time a disgruntled salesman off to show the world his point by attempting to assassinate then President Nixon. Of course we all know that Nixon never got killed but suffered a worse fate of becoming the most hated president of the United States. Assasination focuses on Samuel J. Bicke, father of three who is separated from his wife (Naomi Watts) and a reluctant furniture salesman. It focuses on Bicke's degeneration into desparation as that nothing ever goes well for him both socially and professionally. Despite his best efforts he is being put down by a government system that looms over him like a dark cloud and is keeping him from reaching the stars. he later realizes that the main root of his suffering is the incumbent leader of the system causing his suffering, who also happens to be the leader of the free world.

I still dream of you Naomi.  Even after 21 Grams...Assasination is first and foremost, a character study. This movie cannot avoid to be compared to Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Its a chronicle of a man reacting to his environment. Its like looking into a lab rat in a maze. As Bicke tries desparately to figure out how to resolve his predicament we see him lose touch with what's real, and Penn delivers this in absolute perfection.

Watts shines as the resentful ex wife Marie, who we know thinks secretly that her husband isn't really good enough for her even though she entertains her husband's silly ideas out of decency. Don Cheadle is 'da man', as he usually is as the even-minded best friend Bonny who sticks with Bicke through thick and thin.

The movie has a gritty realistic feel. Alfonso Cuaron, Leonardo Di Caprio and Alexander Payne helm the producers chairs on this one and lounge on them, if I may say so myself. This movie was well taken care of in the hands of director Niels Mueller.

Penn's performance in not as spectacular as in I Am Sam, nor as dramatic as in Mystic River. Its just, well, it's own thing. It's amazing how Penn just jumps into such diverse characters in such a short span of films. I saw I Am Sam and Assasintion almost back to back, I swear, what I saw were two different actors. Who cares if he can be an a-hole sometimes. Who cares if he gets offended and lashes immediately on offensive comments (Remember the Team America brouhaha and the Oscar 2005/Jude Law thing?), he is everything an actor should be and a lot of actors can only dream to be as good as he is.

This movie is very much well worth your buck. Penn never dissapoints!

You stop making fun of Jude Law and those kids in Africa and the US voting population!!!

Rocketboy's Rating: **** (4 out of 5)