Month: May 2015

Taken 3

Well, it’s not using the premise of the first two Taken films. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is they managed to draw this crap out to a third film.



Mad Max Gets His Own Feminist Tumblr


Mad Max, meet Ryan Gosling. George Miller’s action hero, as played by Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road, now has his own series of “hey girl” images, thanks to the Feminist Mad Max Tumblr.

“Hey girl,” one post reads. “I don’t need to see the pain and humiliation you suffered as a sex slave. I believe you.” Another references a moment in the film in which Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa uses Max to take an excellent shot.

It only makes sense that this Tumblr would come along, given how much of the discussion around the film has focused on its feminism. Miller brought in Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler to consult on the movie, which focuses on Furiosa’s mission to save women kept as wives for the villainous Immortan Joe. Ensler told TIME: “I think George Miller is a feminist, and he made a feminist…

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La Tormenta – Chapter 26

My computer was heaving its final breaths during my exam period, and right after my final exam I got around to getting it fixed. This meant a delay in writing for days, and after that I had to get everything back in working order. So the chapter is effectively a week late. But hey, at least I got it done.

I feel like the battles could have been better, but I just couldn’t drag them out any further. This meant that I couldn’t emphasise on the toll that making Kage Bunshin puts on Naruto, nor could I feature Mira’s stamina issues. But they aren’t bad, so I hope readers will like it.

At the end of the chapter, I felt like the Edolas arc was more about interpersonal relationships than completing the mission to rescue Lisanna and stop Faust. Family felt like a huge theme, with Cana fighting Gildarts, Mira trying to rescue Lisanna, Lisanna’s connection with Edolas!Mira and Elfman, Mystogan’s relationship with Naruto and Faust…but I think I failed to really bring it out. I guess it’s a little difficult when you only feel it after writing the damn chapter.

Hopefully readers feel similarly when they read the entire thing. I wondered if I made the ending sappy enough. It felt a little lacking. But then, everything feels a little lacking after the Oración Seis arc…

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Guide to Blowing Shit Up

As much as I think he’s just another action movie star whose heyday is long behind him, I can definitely respect Arnie. He was a bodybuilder who went to USA with nothing except a seriously heavy Austrian accent, but made millions as an entrepreneur before becoming an actor, and then went on to become one of the biggest and most recognisable movie stars in the world. And then became a friggin’ Governor of California.

And now he’s blowing shit up to promote worthy causes he believes in. What a man.

Also, now that he’s starred in Maggie, a dramatic film that I’ve heard he was pretty good in, maybe he should delve into comedy too…

Mad Max: Fury Road




I’m utterly blown away. What a film.

I heard that it was scoring really well on Rotten Tomatoes, and every critic that’s seen it seems to be completely enamoured by the film. Given the craziness of the trailer and all that praise, it wasn’t a difficult decision for me to pop by the cinema and watch what must be the most EPIC piece of entertainment featuring a post-apocalyptic world EVER.

There’s so much to gush about. The fantastic practical effects where actual vehicles were used whenever possible; the crazy stunts, the insane car designs, the beautifully barren sceneries, the simple yet enthralling plot, a director that dared to kill the good guys, the believable yet utterly mad action sequences…it’s just a fantastic action film all around. If only other Hollywood films were this good.

But as great as the action was, there’s something else that stood out by MILES.

The characters.

How can a movie with a relatively big cast of protagonists manage to squeeze in so much character development???

Every single protagonist has a different, unique viewpoint; every single one had a moment to establish themselves in the film as much more than just a plot device. The diversity of the characters was what got me; not a single one of the protagonists was the same as the other. And it wasn’t even through stupid tropes like what The Expendables used to define each character; it was nuanced, intelligent character development that wasn’t racist, stereotypical or derogatory.

And while the film is called Mad Max, Max is only one of many protagonists. Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, was pretty much the most kickass character in the entire film, and nowhere in it was she ever portrayed as a damsel in distress, or as a sex symbol, or any of the sexist tropes that Hollywood revels in. But she wasn’t merely a token ‘female who kicks ass’ either; she was steeped in emotion, filled with personal motivations, striving to fulfil others’ aspirations. And all that in a mere 2 hour film. Suck it, Marvel.

The girls she tried to rescue, my word. Sure, they are referred to as beautiful in the film, but nowhere in it were they objectified other by the antagonists. They were damsels that got themselves out of distress; characters dared to be more than just a plot device for the men to fight over.

Then there were the last people from Furiosa’s former home. Watching older ladies riding motorbikes and fighting and winning for a greater purpose was just amazing to watch. Other than the opening scene, the movie is dominated by women of all sorts, an amazing spread of different characters that stole the screen from the men every single time.

Other than being the ultimate feminist movie, the male characters were quite good too. I thought Tom Hardy was brilliant as Max, the anti-hero who found something more than just his survival to fight for. Sure, there were moments when Tom Hardy used his Bane voice, but it was a stellar performance from the guy.

Nicholas Hoult was also amazing as Nux, who grew from his role as a crazed fanboy of Immortan Joe to become something so much more. I especially loved how the love story between him and Capable developed. The first tender moment they shared felt so honest and real I was honestly quite stunned that something like that was possible in an action film.

The only criticism I could level can only be at the development of the antagonists. They felt more like a product of the settings rather than independent characters. But it’s always so much harder to make a nuanced, interesting protagonist than a villain, and I adore the attention George Miller placed on the protagonists rather than the antagonists. Let all but Immortan Joe be faceless enemies; give me more of that kickassery from Furiosa.

Mad Max: Fury Road came out on the same weekend as Pitch Perfect 2. The latter has scored a far bigger box office so far, and will probably rake in the dollars. That’s no surprise since it appeals to a far wider audience. But as nice as it is to see a film that focuses on women, the original Pitch Perfect never grew beyond the same stereotypes of women that feminists decry. Instead, it’s Mad Max the action film that can really call itself a feminist, a movie that gives women the fascinating characters they deserve.

Favourite movie of the year so far. Second favourite film EVER, after Memento. I can’t imagine any movie except Star Wars: The Force Awakens topping this one in 2015 for me.

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7I have got to stop being seduced by gorgeous headphones with great sound and a relatively cheap price.

The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 went on sale at Stereo for the month, and a hard case was offered along with it. I had already drooled over the beautiful gunmetal version, but the supposedly bright sound turned me off. But since I had time after my exams (and I needed to get my MacBook Pro fixed), I decided to pop by to have a listen.

Needless to say, I was sold.

My terrible photo-taking skills and phone camera don’t do the headphone any justice. It has a great build and aesthetics that seem very similar to the Sony MDR-1R, but is more metal than plastic which lends confidence. The extending arms feel very secure with each click, unlike my NAD VISO HP50s. But the clamping force is quite high however, and some stretching is required for comfort. The earpads are also a little stiffer than most, and less breathable. So comfort isn’t great, but it’s quite good nevertheless.

The accessories aren’t spectacular, but sufficient. Three(!) cables are provided, with two portable cables (one with a mic/remote) and a 3m home use cable. The source side plug is a little chunky, but that’s not entirely bad. The 3.5mm jack in the earcup is a little recessed, which can be problematic. A protein leather pouch is also included for storage, but that’s not going to provide much protection. The free hard case I got is far better.

The important thing is of course the sound, and boy have Audio Technica nailed this one. The bass is very punchy, with zero bloat into the midrange. There’s only the slightest bass lift to give it greater impact, but otherwise the bass is awfully clean. It definitely took me by surprise, given I had been expecting far less bass due to its supposed bright nature.

The treble is quite extended too, but crucially, I didn’t encounter any of the sibilance that others have heard. But while others have praised its slightly elevated treble levels for being pretty neutral and detailed, I found myself bowled over by the midrange and lower treble instead.

As with all Audio Technicas I’ve heard thus far, female vocals are just insanely seductive. With the MSR7, even male vocals are given a chance to shine with a neutral midrange that renders voices beautifully. The neutrality of the midrange also allows the music to breathe, and details hidden behind the warmth of other headphones pop out with the MSR7. Coupled with the punchy bass and well rendered treble that gives the MSR7 quite a bit of air, it made me rediscover my music in a big way. So much for liking warm, relaxed signatures.

It’s headphones like the MSR7 that make me question why high end audio is so costly. Law of diminishing returns, indeed.