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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

BLOG -- Recap of March

March came and went pretty quickly. I ended up getting busy work-wise these past 2 weeks, and I'm still pretty busy (blahhhhhhh). I've also been watching a lot of movies, lol. 

Ever since Kingsman: The Secret Service, I now have this tiny goal to watch as many movies as I can get my hands on... that has Colin Firth in it. Hahaha, I've become a big fan. It's kinda funny. Many people would find Colin Firth playing Kingsman's Harry Hart as unlikely or unexpected. For me, that was my first real exposure to him -- so Colin Firth playing a character like Harry Hart is the norm for me. That just means I'm going to be in for a lot of surprises as I go through his filmography. I can't wait! XD


Outings/Events in March:
- Stayed over at my sister's place x2. 

- Hung out with friends x1. 

- Had a Gaming Day with my sister, her fiance, and a friend.

- Went wedding dress shopping for my sister with friends.

- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn achievements / news: 
-I've created another character on another server. One of my friends transferred to another NA server so I created a character there so I can still play with him, lol. I've just created a solo FC with that character as well, hahaha. :D
-The FC my main character is a part of had a fashion/lingerie show event, and my character was a model! I'll post up pics whenever I grab them from my PS4.

-FUNNY NOTE: A couple weeks ago, I found out through Lodestone that somebody created a character with the same name as my main character -- and guess where this character was created? In the JP server my main character transferred out of back in December. This means that if I ever wanted to transfer my main character back to that JP server, I'd have to spend $10 US to change her name (edit: I was informed after this posting that if you transfer to a server where your character name is already taken, you'll be forced to change your character's name instead of having to pay $10)

Now -- this doesn't bother me, but I can't help but laugh at it. I guess somebody really doesn't like me over there. If you are wondering why I think that character was created out of malice instead of coincidence, here is my reasoning: the first time I found out about it, the character was a Level 1 Marauder. I just checked that character's page today, and the character's still a Level 1 Marauder. No progress or anything. 

Just so anybody knows, my main character is currently on Masamune server, and I'm probably gonna stay there with my main character for as long as I'm playing. I enjoy the FC there. Another thing: when I create alt characters, I NEVER use the same name. So if you ever meet somebody on another server with the same name as my characters, it's not me, lol. :P


Exposures:
- (Wii U) Mario Party 10 -- This is fun.

- (Restaurant) Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu -- I guess it's a good place for people who like tofu dishes. I personally thought the selection was small.

- (DVD rental shop) Bay St. Video -- A friend suggested this place to me a long time ago and I finally worked up the nerve to check it out. I can get pretty antsy when going to a new place. Rental prices are pretty decent and they offer a list of titles to rent for free, so please check it out if you live around there.


Finished...
Watching:
- (Movie): Kingsman: The Secret Service (x3) -- I can totally watch this many more times, too. In fact, I plan to watch it at least one more time (if I can restrain myself from watching it more times).

- (Movie): The English Patient -- This was toooo long, lol. I liked parts of it. I really hated Katherine, though.

- (Movie): Disney's A Christmas Carol -- Creepy! I wonder how close this is to the original ('cuz I've never watched the original version of "A Christmas Carol").

- (Movie): Magic in the Moonlight -- Emma Stone and Colin Firth were really good. The situations were kinda boring though.

- (Movie): Another Country -- I was surprised to find myself enjoying this a lot, being a pretty old movie. There were some interesting ideas.

- (Anime): Sword Art Online (Season 1) -- I really liked the first half. The second half was good, too, but I didn't enjoy it as much.

- (Anime): Kokoro Connect (TV Series) -- This is cute, and kinda gritty. It was not at all what I was expecting, and I'm not sure right now if that is a good thing or a bad thing.


Playing:
- (PS4): Dynasty Warrior 8 Empires -- This is an addictive game. I created an officer in the likeness of each vocaloid, hahahaha (Hatsune Miku, Kaito, Rin, Len, Luka, Meiko). I'm waiting for a good time to restart it.

- (3DS): Weapon Shop de Omasse -- This is an addictive game, too. The ending was kinda ehhh, though, so I'd suggest getting it during a sale.

Reading:
- (Manga): Judge by Yoshiki Tonogai -- The mystery was interesting, but overall it's pretty meh...


Currently... 
Playing (not all at once):
- (PS4): Destiny
- (PS4): Costume Quest 2
- (PS3): Borderlands 2   
- (3DS): Bravely Default
- (3DS): Liberation Maiden 
- (3DS): Disney Magical World 
- (3DS): Pokemon Shuffle
- (GBA): The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition  
- (PSP): Persona 
- (PSP): Crush
- (PSVita): Persona 4 Golden  
- (Wii): Fortune Street 
- (PS2): Atelier Iris 2 
- (PC): UnEpic  
- (PC): King's Bounty: The Legend


Watching:
- (TV Show): The Walking Dead (Season 3 -- Episode 4) 
- (Anime): Yu Yu Hakusho (don't remember)
- (Anime): Shakugan no Shana (Season 1 -- Episode 19)
- (Anime): Log Horizon (episode 3)

Reading:
- Nothing at the time.


That's it for March. Here is one photo I took this month plus one Youtube video / interview I enjoy listening to.


 Some crackers with a ridiculous price tag. I think it was a pricing error.

Interview with Colin Firth and Taron Egerton about Kingsman: The Secret Service, 
done by VOST Cinema. They show some clips from the movie, so don't watch it 
unless you don't mind spoilers or you've watched the movie. 
I think the interview is pretty insightful and funny.


Have a good rest of the weekend and thanks for reading! And be careful of possible upcoming pranks! (not from me, though -- I've had no time to plan anything this time, lol) :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

REVIEW/THOUGHTS [MOVIE] -- Kingsman: The Secret Service

Format Watched: In theatres (March 3rd; March 6th, 2015)
Approx. Runtime: 129 minutes (2 hours, 9 minutes)
Language Watched: English
Type of Movie: Spy, Comedy, Action, Science
Overall Impression: This is a super-fun movie. I enjoyed every minute of it. Go and watch it! :)


SPOILER ALERT WARNING!!
This review will contain some spoilers -- or rather, there will be a "Spoilers" section at the end of the review to go into further detail about certain things. There may still be slight spoilers throughout the review, but I've tried my best to keep them at a minimum.


PERSONAL STANDING (Pre-exposures, thoughts, etc.)
This movie was on my radar long, long ago -- ever since the first trailer. The trailer didn't exactly entice me to think, I've gotta watch this in theatres right now! Instead, it made me curious. A well-aged man in a stylish suit kicking butt? Who also sees potential in a younger somebody who seems a bit out-of-place? I was really curious how the two would interact.


STORY
Kingsman: The Secret Service is about a young man named Eggsy. He gets recruited by veteran spy Harry Hart to try out for a spot in Kingsman, a secret spy organization. We follow Eggsy's trials for the spot, while at the same time, we follow Harry as he tries to uncover and stop an evil mastermind's plot.

That's the plot in a nutshell. Despite its simplicity, there were a lot of unexpected moments. There were also a lot of times where I had no idea what was going to happen next, and I mean A LOT.

SCRIPT
I just have to say that I enjoyed the script a lot. All the dialogue between the characters -- really, really good. Witty, funny, sometimes unexpected. Big props to Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman for giving the actors such good lines to work with. 

OVERALL TONE
The overall tone of Kingsman: The Secret Service is a mix of light, playful, over-the-top, funny, and thrilling, intense, gritty, serious. Now that I think about it, I experienced a range of emotions when I watched the movie. It was good, though. Kingsman: The Secret Service did a good job blending everything together, though I would say it is more fun than anything else. 

THE ACTION SCENES
The action scenes in Kingsman: The Secret Service are for the most part, really, really fun. This was the first time I ever wanted to watch a movie again for the action scenes (and I did watch it again, as noted in the beginning of the blog -- that desire was so strong, hahaha).

The action scenes tend to move fast, but -- for the good or the bad (I think it's for the good) -- we can see what's going on. For example, if Harry is about to punch somebody, the camera will follow his fist to the target. Then we would see the impact. I haven't watched many movies where the action scenes were shot this way, but I can say that I really enjoyed it. I don't know why, but it felt fresh to me.

I'll mention a couple of my favourite action scenes in the "spoilers" section. I will also mention one action-ish scene I felt didn't fit with the movie at all. That scene was the ONLY scene I didn't care for, so I'm being really nitpicky.

THE COMEDY
There was more comedy than I thought would be possible in a spy/action movie. And I loved every moment of it. I credit my enjoyment of the comedy to good script-writing, great acting / line delivery, and character response. 

THE GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
Kingsman: The Secret Service has a fair amount of graphic violence. I don't think it would be expected from watching the trailer, but it's there. While it's questionable if those scenes are necessary, I personally think that they are. Since the movie can get very light and over-the-top, I think this adds a bit of realism. I think it also helps to shift the tone of the movie, especially for one scene. I will talk a bit more about this scene in the "spoilers" section.


ACTING/CHARACTERS
The acting was great. I had no complaints. And special props to Colin Firth -- the man who now rivals Robert Downey Jr. in my "HOTness" meter, hahahaha. I can't believe I haven't seen Colin Firth in anything else besides Mamma Mia! (and I wasn't even focused on his character when I watched that). And of course, for me to get taken in so strongly by him, Colin Firth did an awesome job as Harry Hart. Knowing that he did most (or was it all?) of his stunts upped my impression of / respect for him significantly.

CHARACTERS
I liked all the protagonists in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Unfortunately, you get next-to-no backstory on any of them, but I think it's okay for this movie. You do get the motivations behind Harry, Eggsy, and Valentine (the villain). Also, each character's response / emotion to whatever situations was telling enough for me to know who I'd root for and connect with (Harry, Eggsy, Merlin, and Roxy).

I'll briefly mention something about Roxy in the "Spoilers" section. I will also mention something about Harry in the "Spoilers" section.

Pic of Colin Firth as Harry Hart. 
What a dreamy-but-deadly gentleman. <3


MUSIC
The music is fantastic. There's a blend of orchestral pieces and licensed songs. A lot of the pieces are variations of the track "Manners Maketh Man" (I'm going to consider that the theme song for Kingsman: The Secret Service), which I enjoyed. I think "Manners Maketh Man" is a cool and epic-sounding piece and I enjoyed listening to it again, rearranged to fit whatever scene.

Maybe it was just me, but the music did a really great job of evoking desired emotions for each scene. Even when seeing the movie for the second time and knowing the outcome of -- well -- everything, I often couldn't help but still feel the same worry, joy, fear, etc. What had me at the edge of my seat last time still had me at the edge of my seat the second time, and I largely attribute that to the music -- and good acting.

I should also mention that Valentine's theme song just makes my hair stand on end slightly. It unnerves me, hahaha, which is what it's supposed to do.


MOVIE VS. THE COMIC BOOK
I am leaving this as a placeholder. I've ordered the comic book recently so this section should be updated at some point.

***EDIT -- July 31, 2015 -- Okay, so I finally got around to reading it. My brief thoughts? The comic was... pretty different from the movie! The comic and the movie still keep to the same essential plot of a spy organization trying to foil an evil mastermind's scheme. But... how they get there is almost like night and day. At least, that's my opinion of it.

Out of the two, even though the comic book came out first, I personally prefer the movie more (well, of course -- it's got Colin Firth, hahaha! <3 Though that's not why, hahaha). I guess for me, I found the movie more relatable. The characters were more likeable as well -- for both Harry and Eggsy. And I definitely liked Gazelle a lot more in the movie than in the comic book.

With that said, I did enjoy the comic book. You get to see more of Eggsy's training, and some of the comedy and situations were totally unexpected and ridiculous. What was done in place of that really violent scene... I find it just a bit more cruel and emotionally painful.

In the end, I gotta say that the comic book and the movie are completely different. I see them as alternate retellings of the same story instead of complementing each other and defining a larger Kingsman universe. This is fine, but I was hoping they'd be complementary since I really enjoyed the Kingsman universe in the movie and wanted to experience more of it.
 

CLOSING THOUGHTS
If you enjoy action movies, go and watch Kingsman: The Secret Service. Even if you don't enjoy action movies, go and watch Kingsman: The Secret Service. It is such a fun movie. If I could, I would totally watch it a 3rd time (please let the weather get warmer!!). It is definitely a Day One Blu-Ray / DVD purchase for me.

Thanks for reading! If you want some more input about something I didn't cover, feel free to ask. :)

Now I'll do the scrolly thing so you don't see the "Spoilers" section right away. Then I'll add some more scrolly things after the "Spoilers" section in case anybody wants to comment, but not see the spoilers.

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SPOILERS

"I'll mention a couple of my favourite action scenes." 

Favourite action scene #1: Harry Hart vs. hostile mobs in the bar. What a scene. I totally enjoyed seeing Harry kicking butt -- and with an umbrella, no less. Funny enough, the back shot of Harry before the fight even started excited me the most. I don't know why. Maybe it was because of the anticipation. It made me think, Ohhh, he's going to kick some butt!

Harry Hart in his "butt-kicking stance". ;)

Favourite action scene #2: Eggsy vs. Gazelle. It was fun seeing a one-on-one match. I liked how the scene sped up and slowed down -- almost like they were dancing (a very deadly dance).
 

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"I will also mention one action-ish scene I felt didn't fit with the movie at all."

It's NOT the church scene, as some of you may think. I'm being really nitpicky to even mention it since the scene only lasted about maybe 5 seconds.

I'm talking about the parkour scene Eggsy does when he leaves his home and escapes from the hostile mob that are waiting outside. That scene took me straight out of the movie, and it felt very unnecessary. The music that accompanied that scene felt tacked on as well. Yes, it makes sense that the mob would be outside Eggsy's doorstep, wanting revenge for what Harry did to them. Eggsy's escape could have been done differently, so I don't end up thinking, They put this here 'cuz they want me to think that Eggsy is cool.

If this scene was actually there to pay homage to some spy film, please let me know. It could change how I feel about this scene.

However, I still enjoyed everything else, and this 5-second scene won't stop me from gushing about how much I enjoyed the movie. As said earlier, I'm just being nitpicky.

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"I think it [the graphic violence] also helps to shift the tone of the movie, 
especially for one scene."

Now I am talking about the church scene. So much happens here, and I think it's a very important scene. It allows the viewers to see just how devastating and horrific things could be if Valentine's plan succeeded. I think seeing this scene also helps the viewers feel the same horror that Harry feels when he realizes what he's just done (and to know exactly how he did it). I think removal of this scene could make viewers wonder how it was done, possibly taking them out of the movie.

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"I'll briefly mention something about Roxy."

About Roxy, like in a couple other movies I've watched last year, I am glad that Roxy had a platonic relationship with Eggsy. I am glad that she was NOT a love interest for Eggsy. This goes back something I mentioned in an earlier blog about movies having "obligatory" romance. 

I didn't feel any romantic bond or desire between Roxy and Eggsy so I'm glad it didn't go there. I really need to blog about that topic sometime, hahaha.

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"I will also mention something about Harry."

About Harry... I was really upset that he died. He was such a good character and I wanted to see more of him. However, and it pains me to say it, I think Harry had to die. Not to forward the plot. I'm sure if the screenwriters wanted Harry to still be alive, they would have found a way and have Eggsy still kicking butt at the end. I think at that point, Harry wanted to die. 

If Harry were to live, I think he would end up living a tortured life, racked with the guilt of killing all those people in the church -- especially since he had no control. Harry dying at the hands of the villain was the "better" way for his departure, instead of possibly getting into an accident, or possibly offing himself years later.

Still... Harry will be missed greatly. :(


If you read my spoilers, thank for reading! Now to finish with more scrolly things. If you disagree with anything or just want to say something, feel free to comment :D

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Monday, 2 March 2015

BLOG -- My "Few" Words About Redbox Leaving Canada

As mentioned in my recap blog for February, I'm gonna briefly talk about Redbox leaving Canada. In short, I am very sad that it left. I hope that someday it will come back.

For those who don't know, Redbox is this movie / gaming rental service that operates through kiosks that are placed in various locations. After registering an account on Redbox's website, you go to any of the kiosks, select from the available titles to rent, swipe your credit card, then the movie / game comes out of the kiosk.

The big draw to this service is that very recent titles can be rented out -- and for really cheap. A one-day DVD rental cost me $1.70 CAD ($1.50 before tax). If I missed out on watching a movie in theatre, renting through Redbox is a good alternative for me to experience it instead of going in blind and buying the Blu-Ray / DVD (I do that pretty frequently, though, and I'm not that happy about it). 

I personally really liked Redbox because:
1. Rental costs are cheap
2. They offered promotion codes every so often for free 1-day DVD rentals (I'd often use those to watch movies I just gotta see.. but I know are bad, hahaha)
3. There was enough variety for me (check out the selection for Redbox US if you're curious. I think the selection was about the same, 'cept for the games)

I could go on to start comparing it to Netflix, but I won't since they are different services. I can say that I don't have a Netflix subscription currently since I feel I don't always watch enough movies / TV shows to justify getting a subscription. Plus I have a large DVD / Blu-Ray collection that I would prefer going through first.

Now -- I'm gonna share why I think Redbox wasn't as successful in Canada as in the US. I think these were its two major issues, and they kinda go hand-in-hand:
1. Low awareness
2. Kiosk locations

Low awareness
Well -- I only found out about Redbox because I had to purchase some products from Loblaws for work. If I never had to do that, I would have never found out about Redbox. Then this blog wouldn't even exist because I probably wouldn't even know of Redbox's existence until it was already gone.

Kiosk locations
From what I remember, most kiosks are placed close to or inside a Loblaws, Sobeys, and Real Canadian Superstores. I personally do not shop at any of those places. So renting could be a bit inconvenient for me sometimes (and for anybody else who does not shop at those places). This kinda also means that unless you are a shopper of either Loblaws, Sobeys, or Real Canadian Superstore, you could end up being unaware of Redbox at all (that could have been me!). If the kiosks were also placed elsewhere when it was active in Canada, please let me know. I don't want to be giving misinformation.


If Redbox were to ever come back, I'd suggest placing the kiosks in a few major malls, to at least build awareness among a varied market (instead of having to be a shopper of a few particular brands). Placing them close to supermarkets could still work, but place them in supermarkets that target a more price-conscious demographic. I think placing them in pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart could work as well.


Now, to end off, here is a list of movies I rented from Redbox. This is more for myself, because I am weird like that, hahaha. Remember that I rented some movies because I just gotta see them -- even though I know it is bad. I was a member since October 16, 2013. I only got to use Redbox for 5 months?! No fair... :'(

-The Bling Ring (I was curious how Emma Watson was in this)
-Pitch Perfect (I tried this on a whim, and I'm glad I did. It's one of my favourite movies now)
-The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (my sister was curious about this, lol)
-Rise of the Guardians (I had wanted to check this out in theatres)
-Premium Rush (I tried this on a whim. I didn't know anything about it)
-The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (I watched this to prepare myself for a movie outing with friends, lol)
-The Host (the trailer looked intriguing... what can I say, I was curious)
-Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones (the trailer looked intriguing...)
-Vampire Academy (watching this prompted me to buy all the books, though I've yet to read them)
-The Prisoners (I wanted to watch this in theatres)
-Arbitrage (I tried this based on Chris Stuckmann's review)
-Divergent (I wanted to watch this in theatres)
-Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (I'm gonna say I'm glad I didn't buy the DVD just to watch it, hahaha...)
-Sharknado (I rented this mainly for my sister -- though I was curious about it as well, lol)
-After Earth (I just gotta to watch all of M. Night's movies... lol...)

So in a span of 5 months, I've rented 15 movies. Six of the movies were free rentals. I was planning to rent more when the weather got warmer.


I did not realize this blog would become so long...

Thank you, Redbox. I hope to see you back in Canada!

And to anybody who's read this blog: thank you for reading! :)