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Alive and Well

Zombie stories are back (at least in my life). You know, there actually was a point in my life where I actually liked stories about the undead. Back in freshmen college I used to hang out with this friend and she was awfully obsessed…really obsessed with zombies. She got me watching all kinds of zombie films in all kinds of genre from the dark and gritty (Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later) to the lighthearted and fun (Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead). She made me watch the whole series of Resident Evil and she even made me play the videogame which I believe I talked about here. She was there when I was watched The Walking Dead for the first time. And guess who was with me when I watched Warm Bodies when it premiered (I would have been there when World War Z premiered had it not been for the fact that we weren’t on speaking terms because of some conflict that we had at that time lol).

I haven’t even told you weirdest part.

In our long walks around the city, she’d call dibs on every structure she would find sturdy or secure in case a zombie apocalypse comes. And then she’d go on and talk about this elaborate plan of hers on how she’s going to survive that first day of the outbreak.

She’s that weird which is why I don’t hang out with her anymore.

I’m kidding. I still tolerate her. She’s someplace faraway though, probably shoving her zombie obsession down on other people’s throats. Now that I think about her and where she is now, I don’t think she’ll survive the zombie apocalypse. For one thing, her ‘training’ in taekwondo is useless on zombies. The use of just your limbs to kill a zombie is not really practical and it consumes the energy you will have to conserve in order to survive the rest of the day. Another reason why she’ll die the first day of the outbreak is she cannot go outside the house without her make up on. And I don’t think make-up is the most practical thing to scavenge on a zombie apocalypse. I think she would rather die than go outside the house without her fake eyebrows.

Anyway, there was a point in my early college years that zombie films are EVERYWHERE. So there really was no reason not to be involved in this kind of genre. And like any other trend, it comes and goes. One moment it’s on every medium of storytelling and then everyone’s sick and tired of it. And the hype dies down.

And I won’t think about zombies for another five years.

So I was searching for podcasts on Spotify when I came across this radio drama called We’re Alive: A Story of Survival. I was caught up with work so I didn’t have the time research about it so I didn’t know what to expect. The premise was the same as any other zombie film–just another day at work and then BAM! commotion and confusion. The only difference in this story is that there were no visuals to guide me. My only source of information were the sounds of the actors, the background music and the foley.

In the first few minutes it was an okay story. It didn’t excite or interest me that much but I didn’t bother to change it because I was too busy with other things. It wasn’t until I was about to go home when I realized I’ve been listening to it the entire day. That’s when I decided it’s one of those stories you’d stick to until the very end.

It took me a marathon of almost 3 weeks to finish it. And in that 3 weeks I’ve come to love the characters just by hearing their voices. I’m so happy that I get to finish a story while doing work! Podcasts saves a LOT of time!

Now let’s move on to the actual reason why I’m here: It’s review time so SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

So the story is about these three soldiers Michael, Angel and Saul finding themselves in a zombie outbreak. As the story progresses, more characters are introduced until the whole show is an ensemble of emotions, issues and complicated decision makings. But it’s a fun ensemble and I found myself loving ALL the characters (except for Michael but let’s talk about him later).

There were problems in introducing the main plot–which is about finding the source of the outbreak and defeating the main antagonist (guy named Ink). First of all, the information about the main plot was stacked in one season making it too much for the audience to absorb. Second, it wasn’t given much importance until the very end of season 3. The build up was so abrupt, the climax didn’t really affect me. Yes, there were hints in the first few seasons but there wasn’t enough mystery for me to hold on to ‘the man with markings’.

But despite the problems with the main plot, the subplots compensated it. Each season’s plot were interesting and exciting and it really drove the characters to grow.

Another thing I found difficult was how time moves in the story. Sometimes I’d be surprised how long they’re stay in a particular place was and it desynchronizes (lol I’ve been playing too much Assassin’s Creed) the whole experience.

The use of journal reading was…okay. But I kinda wish they avoided that. Sure, it’s easier to convey emotion through narration (especially when a story is limited visually) but it removes the tension and it moves the audience further away from the situation.

My favorite thing about the series is the fact that it revolves around the people and not the outbreak. It talks about how it affects each individual and what it does to the community. The action scenes were great but there is something about the conflict among the characters that made me stick around. It was all about the people put in a situation that happens to be a zombie apocalypse.

Now let’s talk about of some the characters.

Michael is not my favorite. Aside from the fact that most of the story comes from his point of view, he wasn’t a very interesting character. Sure, there were details about his past but it didn’t really do much for me to empathize with him. And how he treated Pegs was really shitty.

I do appreciate his pressure and weight of being a leader of a community though. I love how the series portrayed him as a good but ineffective leader. Like, how he cared for the people not because they’re people but because it’s his duty as a soldier to protect them. And I love how that evolved as the series progress.

Angel was the type of character you’d be into for no apparent reason other than you pictured him in your mind as cute. I love how he started off a arrogant and learned to cool down and just be reliable. I didn’t like the way he died, though. It didn’t make sense keeping him alive and THEN just shooting him. His history involving Scratch was blurry and useless.

Saul and Lizzy were few of my favorite characters. I find them really cute together and their story arc was the most intense. I loved how far they’d go to keep each other alive (which was ironic since both of them died, eventually). I also liked that they had to die and leave behind a child that everyone feels protective of. They remind me a lot of Tonks and Lupin of the Harry Potter series.

Pegs was like the Sansa Stark of the story. She started off as this whiny, anti-gun gardener girl to this bad-ass helicopter pilot who stopped giving two shits about this guy who treated her poorly.

Riley is bad-ass. There’s not much to say except I didn’t really understand why she had to go on this fruitless effort with Burt to find Scratch. I didn’t expect her to reach this low point where she cared nothing but revenge. Revenge that didn’t really get to have a closure in the end.

I have this love-hate relationship with Burt. Although I didn’t approve some of his random decision making, he was really funny and I wish he could’ve had more sarcastic moments with Kelly. She’s another favorite because of her sarcasm and how much she’s changed in the series.

I guess I will have to criticize Datu’s character from a Filipino point-of-view. First of all, I loved that I felt represented having a character someone from my own country. Second, I kinda wished Datu was given more depth. That he’s not just some convenient maintenance guy who saves the day when something is broken. Third, I wish the series gave much thought on the fact that he is a father working overseas for his two children and doesn’t get to be with them in this end-of-the-world zombie apocalypse shit. Because Filipinos are all about family. Especially when one is working abroad. Fourth, his accent was a bit distracting.

Also, I din’t get why he had to choose Michael as the one to shoot him in case he’d turn. I don’t recall his significance in Datu’s life or any moment that these two characters shared.

Finally, let’s move on to CJ. She’s absolutely my favorite character. I love her attitude, her fierceness, her leadership and most of all I love how much she cared about her people. I love that behind the scenes, she get to spend time with them and get to know their story. Her reliability and leadership reminds me of Hermione except this girl has got attitude.

At first, I was sort of conflicted with her choices but as the story progress, I get to see where these choices come from. She understand the current situation but she also sees the bigger picture of it.

There was even a point where I shipped her with Saul. Not ship to the point I want them to end up together in the end but I just found their dynamic really endearing. It was on those Dunbar episodes with Victor and you know, for the first time ever Saul get to take a break from all the stress about Lizzy and his friends. And CJ gets to have people to watch movies with after being alone for months. Plus their sarcastic exchange was cute.

Speaking of, I kinda wish the series showed more mundane activities. Just those quiet moments where the characters are doing the most boring stuff. Just to give audience a time to breathe from the stress of the story.

Anyway I guess that’s about it. It was a great series–the kind of series you’d think about unexpectedly in the middle of the day. And really, I was glad I found it.

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Go Set A Wat–just happened?

Crying over a book is hard because you can’t hug a book. The physical qualities of a book doesn’t have that warmth and tenderness that you long for. Either a book is too small or too hard or too thin or too edgy for your embrace that it will never substitute the comfort of a hug. So you awkwardly put the book on your chest and lay on your bed, crying as your heart gets broken to pieces because of that same bloody book that you can’t even hug.

Saturday, I spent my money for this book that costed more that my regular budget because it was the sequel of one of my favorite books. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee had just been published last year and everyone was excited. I’m not really a fan of hard bound because they’re too solid and too perfect and it doesn’t create those cute little wrinkles when you’ve read it a couple of times so I waited for the paperback and here we are.

Her first book (at least the first one to get published), To Kill A Mockingbird, has been my favorite not only because it was so familiar to my childhood years but it also served as a moral compass from the time I was 16. I even wanted to make “Atticus” as a second name for my future son and “Scout” as a nickname for my future daughter. That is how much I love that book. It taught me a lot about courage and prejudice and how people understood and believed different things. And that in order to understand those differences, we have to consider things from their point of view. And believe me, it changed how I saw the world.

Now, years after reading that beautiful book, a sequel was published. Did I mention that Harper Lee wrote Go Set A Watchman before To Kill A Mockingbird? But her editor thought it was not ready for publication to which she also agreed. So she wrote another story which she based from it and is now a renowned classic. Let’s move on.

Go Set A Watchman is about Scout, now called with her full name Jean Louise and is 26 years old coming home to Maycomb from New York for a two-week vacation. This is the thing I love about sequels – the nostalgia you feel for a place you have never even been to. We all understand how Maycomb feels like even if no Maycomb County is the same in the mind of every reader. But damn it we all know what it feels like.

I believe Jean Louise grew up to be a fine young lady. I love how she still has that Scout attitude in her. She’s definitely the woman I imagined Scout would grow up to be. She speaks her mind and I love how she tells Henry, her boyfriend, straight up that she’s not ready to marry anyone. Speaking of Henry, I’m a little sad Scout didn’t end up with Dill. But I guess Harper Lee was just telling the reality of childhood sweethearts. Sometimes you just don’t end up with the kid you proposed to at the school playground. And who the hell is Henry anyway? I never heard of a Henry. And it’s really annoying everytime he whines about Scout not marrying him and shit. Like leave her alone. But I guess Scout likes him in her own way so whatever.

Aunt Alexandra is back bitching again. Omygod she’s like every young person’s worst nightmare. She’s the epitome of every old fashioned grumpy old woman who had this superiority complex and is always disappointed with the “kids these days”. But I’d give her credit for staying to take care of Atticus who is now 72 and has an arthritis. I still picture him the same though.

And if you’re wondering where the hell is Calpurnia in all these when Atticus needs her most? Well, she’s old and retired. She’s back in her home resting. There’s also another reason why she left the Finches.

Jem died.

Yes bitches Jeremy Atticus Finch fucking dies. And you know the awful thing about that aside from the fact that he’s well…dead, is that there no further talk about what really happened except he got a sudden heart attack. Like I need details!!! Plus the book mentioned it in a really casual way. Kinda like, “After the sudden death of Jem, Calpurnia decided to move back to her hometown blah blah blah…”

Wait what?

Words so quick you almost don’t catch it. You read it again and you still could not absorb it. You read it one more time and you go, “Harper Lee, bless you soul but you sadistic b–” I can’t really call an old woman who just died that word.

That was the biggest twist really. My god. I was imagining Jem to grow up like Atticus but now he’s rotting in his grave. And it really hits you how much things change when someone you know dies. Like Maycomb suddenly stops feeling like Maycomb. It’s a Jem-less Maycomb County now so it’s not Maycomb anymore so yeah.

But I’ve gotten over from Jem. Like I already accepted the fact that he won’t be in the novel so I think we should move on.

So basically the story is about Scout finding out that Atticus has been having this series of meetings with racist white people where they talk about segregation and separating Negroes to white people. And Scout got so disgusted by it that she literally throws up.

And then she realizes why Calpurnia was being cold to her when she visited her. And now she gets really confused and alone because everybody in Maycomb is okay with it.

And then she has this really heartbreaking confrontation with her dad. She was like screaming at him and telling him that the one person she trusted and looked up to betrayed her and stuff. Atticus was explaining to her that Negroes are not ready to have civil rights and they are growing in numbers and they aren’t educated yet and shit. And Scout went on just screaming awful things to him.

It was really awful. I, myself also felt the betrayal because I adored Atticus for being the wise father that he is or was or maybe still is. And then when Uncle Jack smack down slapped the shit out of the Jean Louise, we all realized the deal with this book–That Atticus is not some god we should worship. He’s a flawed human being too. I’m not siding with him but no one really goes to extremes. He’s not good and he’s not bad either. He’s a human being. It’s time to grow up now and let go. This is not a childhood story anymore.

There will be moments in our lives when our heroes would fail us. And that’s one big character development for everyone because we are finally separated from them. We grew up and we won’t be needing their approval anymore and we can all live our own lives guided by our own beliefs and principles outside the influence of our heroes. You are now your own watchman.

Even if I love To Kill A Mockingbird more, I believe this book is important because, aside from it costing a LOT, it’s quite relevant to my life right now.

Wild Thoughts

Today I watched the film Into the Wild directed by Sean Penn and I kinda wished I didn’t especially at a time like this. As you all know, in less than a week, I’ll be graduating. Yey?

Remember the time I was having this drama in my life and said school made everything bearable? Well, there’s another thing why I don’t think I’m ready enough to leave it–School has got these rules and requirements that needed fulfillment and no matter how much I complain about them, these things give me comfort.

There is something contenting about the idea of just following orders. You know, instead of actually having the freedom of making your own rules and dealing with your own shit like any adult would do. At least, that’s what I think adults do after they graduate. Well, unless you’re super rich then congratulations.

I’ve been thinking about my future lately and it terrifies me to be honest. I mean, would I even get a good job considering how much they say the competition is in the industry?Would I even survive the cruel life they say in the city? Would I even fulfill the promises I made to myself for my family? Would I still have the days when I can walk around and reflect on my life? Would I still be happy?

There are thousands of more questions but I’ll probably drift away from my topic if I list them down. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about these things lately before I sleep at night. And now as I think  about the film Into the Wild, it made me question about my life choices even more.

TRIGGER WARNING. The following ideas may contain thoughts on SUICIDE.

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It is KNOW not NO.

Ha Ha Ha. I’m still not in the zone of working on my projects so I figured I could still read one more book. My friend recommended his sister’s book, Love, Rosie  by Cecelia Ahern. I was a bit skeptic because for one, the film, with the same title was not really that great. It was a story of these two idiots who were in love with each other for years but they didn’t have the balls to say it and they spent half of their lives hiding feelings and choosing the wrong people. But of course, they got together in the end. And that’s the thing why I didn’t like the film but I shall explain it later on. Also, the book was 500 pages long. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that kind of commitment.

But I still gave in because he justified it with his jumpy comments and giddy persuasions.

My first comment about it is that the format is so weird. It’s composed of these series of emails/letters/text messages in every page and you won’t see a narrative paragraph until the very end of the book. I think the author is trying to be unique and she’s trying to find another way to connect with the readers. But to be honest, it didn’t really elaborate things and I was given very limited information of what was actually happening.

For example whenever there’s a certain important event that’s happening in Rosie’s life, it would just be inserted in some letter and I would just be surprised of it coming out of nowhere. It was really hard to visualize a scene when there are two characters exchanging ideas through letters without anyone narrating the whole story and you’ll just have to rely on the documents given to you.

In my opinion, when it comes to reading stories, it’s vital that I have someone who’ll guide me to every scene that’s involved. I need someone to elaborate a character’s point of view especially when they’re alone and dialogues were out and thoughts are limitless. And that is why I think narrative paragraphs are important.

Anyway, the story was also somewhat biased with Alex and Rosie’s relationship. It’s like the author was obviously tweaking situations so that fate would go with them. Plus, the relationship they have were really idealistic. I don’t think that you can still connect to a friend in a constant basis especially when you’re married and you have crazy kids and you’re busy with your job and you’re living half a world away. I’m not saying that you can’t be friends forever because you can. It’s just that when you think about Rosie and Alex’s regular updates, it’s too unrealistic.

OR maybe they did not really had those regular updates and they caught up with each other as rarely as I thought they did… and it’s the fault of the fucking email/letter/text message format again that I could not keep track on the timeline of the story.

I also believe that the author is trying to prove that girl/boy bestfriendships lead somewhere, in which I disagree. I believe that as long as that platonic relationship is intact, things will never get complicated even if the whole world says you two look good together.

Going back to the author being team Alex/Rosie, I was a bit disappointed because the character of Greg didn’t have depth and character development. One moment he was this silent and  forgettable character and then he was this cheating asshole who ruined Rosie’s life. Surprise, surprise. If only he was given justice by making his character more interesting so that he’d at least  deserve the title of being Alex’s rival.

I also have to agree to what my friend said about Greg’s proposal to Rosie. It didn’t have to be as obviously opposite as to Rosie’s dream proposal just to let the readers know that Greg is not the one for her. It would be cool if Rosie just had that “dream proposal” from Greg and yet not feel “the silence” that everyone’s talking about. That would bring juice to the situation: Having everything perfect yet not feeling it.

But there were moments that are emotionally scarring and just really really sad (I don’t know but I’m starting to get really empathetic to the past few books I’ve been reading). Especially in the part were Rosie poured out all the dismay and resentment she’s been feeling for the past years. You know how when people experience series of unfortunate events and suddenly someone starts summarizing them for you and you start feeling awful? That’s how it felt like when Rosie enumerated all the problems she was facing.

And after realizing how miserable her life really was, you get to read her father’s last/goodbye letter for her days after he died. And I felt so happy for her because she really deserve that one letter that tells her she’s appreciated. And that’s enough for her to keep going.

I don’t feel the necessity of Katie (Rosie’s daughter) and Toby (Katie’s bestfriend) repeating history but I guess it’s for the irony and the laughs.

I would want to say more but I’m starting to get lazy so I would leave the rest to you all. It was a great book. It discussed not just Rosie’s relationship with Alex (which the fucking movie did) but her entire life and struggles.

The only right thing the movie did was cast Lily Collins as Rosie.

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I suppose, in a way, it was LEGENDARY

Well here I am lying on my bed and obviously in no plans of sleeping, no sir, not yet. I just watched the finale of How I Met Your Mother and is still trying to absorb everything. Ok, first of, I didn’t really hate it despite the many bad reviews I got from my friends. And no, it’s not because someone spoiled it to me that I have no interest on who ends up with who anymore. In fact, when my supposed-to-be-friend-who’s-supposed-to-understand-my-devotion-to-the-show-and-who’s-supposed-to-shut-herself-up-when-she-knew-that-I-hadn’t-watch-it-yet betrayed me with her cunning little remarks, deep down, I had a hope that she would have the decency to tell it to me as a joke. A way of luring me into devastation and then once I finally watch it, I would be satisfied because it wasn’t how I expected it to be. So I kinda shrugged her off and went on watching it to know what really happened. That’s why that spoiler didn’t really ruin me (worst spoiler ever was when I accidentally found out about which family do the Cahills belong by reading about The 39 Clues on Wikipedia. They belong to the Madrigals. HA!).

Now, what do I think about the finale?

OK FROM THIS MOMENT ON, THIS ENTRY IS GOING TO CONTAIN SPOILERS SO IF YOU WANT TO RESERVE THOSE EXTREME FEELINGS, YOU MIGHT WANT TO WATCH IT FIRST.

so what do I really think about the finale?

It could have gotten better.

Yeah, Robin and Barney’s divorce was horrible. That stupid 10-minute revelation of how their marriage went was really hard to take since the whole last two seasons were all about them. A lot of awesome things happened to them–the stupid motherfucking playbook, barney’s proposal, the rehearsal dinner, how they went back together and all those moments when you thought how perfect these two were for each other.They were an amazing couple and I was actually rooting for them. I just didn’t get why they had to ruin the awesome development of their relationship and to think, the reason of their divorce was unbelievable. They to get separated just because Robin was always traveling around and that they didn’t had time for each other. Really Barney?Really? Because that’s not the guy who finds incredibly ridiculous yet impressing ways of making things work. And I hate the way Barney turned back to becoming that womanizing bloke. Throughout the show, we’ve witnessed how his character matured and we fell in love with it. And it was such a down-fall.

And the thing about the baby, well, it touching and yeah, I did cry my eyes out on that. Credits to Mr.Neil Patrick-Harris for working it. We see Barney falling in love and giving his all not to a woman, but to this tiny toothless creature who was born out of another meaningless sex. It was all touching and wonderful but it didn’t really fit the story. It’s like the writers wanted that scene to be there and they forced it’s way into it.

I was expecting more of the gang being together because, well, it’s a finale. Everyone should be there. But then, Robin started moving around and it’s just the four of them. It just really sucked. And I didn’t get to see any more of Marshall and Lilly. I mean, yeah, they were there the whole time, but they’ve been through rough times and I think they deserve better scenes of saying goodbyes and making closure with the audience.

Tracy’s death was also awful because I loved her and she’s a really really sweet and smart and beautiful character and I wasn’t able to get to know her enough. And no matter how much I would rewatch the series, it wouldn’t change anything because it has ended and there’s no way of knowing things about her anymore. It just, stops there. Honestly, it was okay for me to for the writers to kill her off because tragic stories–they’re the best. I just wished they didn’t name her because I wanted her character, that we get to know little by little as the story progresses, remain enigmatic. I think naming The Mother has lost the right of the audience to own her.

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Now, the thing that I hated the most is Ted ending up with Robin. I thought we were over this. I completely do not understand why they had to bring back these feelings when clearly there has been a lot of hints in a lot of episodes that he should have moved on. One big example is Robin marrying Barney. She obviously hated commitments but we see her taking the risk, not on Ted, but to another person who’s also afraid of commitments. And then Ted got this happy life with The Mother and had this long-ass session of telling the story of how he met her to his kids. He must have he really loved her. But no, she dies and this guy, who I thought was sentimental and romantic enough to just spend the rest of his life moping over his dead wife probably telling those wonderful stories of his life over and over again to his kids, storms off chasing the woman who he should have gotten over with six seasons ago! Seriously though. I know the whole point of the show is not mainly about The Mother but the adventures Ted and his friends had on his adult years, it’s just that I was lead to believe in the idea of Ted’s great love to The Mother and not on Robin. So with all that happening, I’m left with the wonder of what is really The Mother’s role on Ted’s life. With all those adorable coincidences that made us believe on destiny and he ends up with Robin. Terrible things. Terrible things.

Everything was devastating and totally unfair. But life is unfair. Maybe that’s just what this show was trying to teach us. The reality of life. That life can’t always be about having someone and then marrying them and having kids with them. And that friends would leave in time and might not be around like they used to. Or the decisions or choices we prefer now might not be the same some years from now because sometimes…it’s just the way things are. Just because we’ve experienced the worst days of our lives, it doesn’t always mean we’ve got a free pass on the upcoming a-lot-worse days. I mean, life would always be piled with the best and the worst things. I’ve got 9 seasons listening to the story of five full grown adults face life I can’t hate it just because of its crappy finale.

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i still prefer the yellow umbrella than the blue french horn though.