Tuesday 30 June 2015

Movie & Opinions: Jurassic World -- My Review & Questions

It is not man VS raptors, it is man teams up with raptors
Image from Jurassic World
Okay, so the last movie review came a little too late and most people have already watched The Avengers 2, but that iskind of my point: what I have said would only not spoiled your mood after you have watched it, right? This time, my Jurassic World review really does contain some spoilers so be warned.

Here are some reasons why I think I am not disappointed by this sequel at all: first, I think it did very well in what it has to do in terms of rekindling the "dino interest" among movie-goers while being limited by the odd storylines set by the previous two movies. Many other reviews on IMDb would disagree with me, saying that the storyline is simple and predictable, but to be fair, when you are dealing with dinosaur movies, or dangerous creatures movies such as sharks, zombies, GM-gorillas and chimps, or even Ultron Sentries as a matter of fact, you can only expect the storyline to be: in control-->lose control--> chaos--> battles-->restore control/unable to restore control, am I right? Whatever twists you can think of in between will not be able to challenge this designated flow of storyline (or generic stages in linguistic term). With The Lost World's (JP2, 1997) weirdest storyline of T-Rex rampaging through the town after a trip on cruise, drinking from swimming pool and eating house puppy, and JP3's (2001) better script but the very worst lost-child's-mother acting, Jurassic World (JP4) has done its best in terms of script.

New theme park, new dinosaur, the Mosasaurus
Image from Jurassic World

Second, the screenwriters know the weaknesses of the movie, yet they managed to shut the audience up. The screenwriters have been reminding the audience over and over throughout the movie that

  1. Jurassic Park was a thing back 20 years ago,
  2. People are no longer interested in common dinosaurs,
  3. People want bigger, louder, scarier dinosaurs, more teeth,
and guess what, none of these isn't true! These are what everyone of us who have watched the last 3 JP movies think. We all think the first movie is the best and none of the previous sequels have impressed us as much as the Jurassic Park, we are no longer interested in common dinosaurs because we can easily see them when we switch the TV to Discovery channel, and we all think that none of the usual dinosaurs in an encyclopaedia can scare us any more, so how can we be satisfied with JP4? The answer has been, in fact, shooting directly at our faces like a laser beam since 1999,

Yes, you are right, this is the answer,

A quote that wins, every time
Image from forums.marvelheroes.com
I mean, how else can we be satisfied if it hasn't been a frickin' mutated dinosaur? The screenwriters know what we want and has made this explicit to us! They even know that running from dinosaurs in high-heels is ridiculous!

Good-looking female runner
Image from superherohype.com
Third, the storyline is restricted by its predecessors in many ways, yet it managed to squeeze out a little twist. Like I have mentioned at the beginning, the flow of the movie can't be changed, and some elements also can't be changed, like there must be raptors 10 times the size of the real-life counterpart, there must be brainy kids with family issues, there must be a park owner whose intention is to do good but eventually made bad decisions, there must be a female role who looks good when she runs, there must be a hero role who knows dinosaurs best, and there must be a T-rex that ruins / saves the day.

2 kids and a hero
Image from hypable.com
This was the winning formula for Jurassic Park and the screenwriters know it, the difference is JP2 and JP3 did terribly in reusing it, whereas JP4 has at least tried to add twists to this formula and turned the raptors from villains into heroes. Sounds ridiculous that raptors listen to a human's order? Well, if crocodiles can understand their own names, then why the highly intelligent raptors cannot?

Gallimimus running on the field in Jurassic World
Image from kryptonradio.com/
Gallimimus running on the field in Jurassic Park
Image from popculturelandscape.com
Fourth, I really like the way the story relates to the old Jurassic Park.
Gate of Jurassic Park
Image from jplegacy.org
Gate of Jurassic World
Image from cultofmac.com
Every step of the way, the actors and actresses remind you of the old Jurassic Park by using the same design of the Jurassic Park gate: the same island Isla Nublar, the same Gallimimus running on the field scene, naming and quoting John Hammond's "spare no expense", bringing audience back to the old park lobby and fallen "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" banner, old raptor painting on the wall, old JP jeep with old logo, and to my biggest surprise -- the return of scientist Henry Wu, who is one of the few characters who are still alive yet has not appeared in any sequel and the only Chinese in the movie. Don't you just miss him?

Here's a photo comparison of the old one and the recent Henry Wu,

Henry Wu in Jurassic World and Jurassic Park, 20 years apart
Image from passthepopcorn.my
Lastly, I like the way this movie leaves clue for yet another sequel. When I come to think of it, in Jurassic Park, Dennis Nedry tried to steal embryos but failed tragically. This time round, Henry Wu stole his own work and escape on a helicopter. Who is behind these incidences? Who is always trying to get their hands on these dinos while not wanting to spend money on developing their own? InGen Lab has always been creating these dinosaurs, yet InGen Security seems to be happy to steal its own lab's stuff and take control. Henry Wu seems to have secretly reached a deal with someone from InGen Security, possibly someone from the Jurassic World board who wants to destroy the owner Simon Masrani. All these have probably started since the days of Jurassic Park 20 years ago. There are too many gaps left behind in this movie and we should expect the next JP movie to tell us more about it. I'm really excited about the next one.

PS: Okay, okay, it doesn't mean I have no complaints. Logically speaking, no matter how quiet a dinosaur can be, there is no way could the Indominus Rex successfully climb out without getting the workers' attention, there are people working outside the fences you know? So, there is no way that our hero Owen goes inside the cage without the slightest bit of checking, since he is so smart. And keeping those high-heel shoes on throughout makes sense, since those are her only shoes available, but not breaking those heels at all to make escaping easier? This I can never understand.

Movie & Opinions: The Avengers 2 - My Belated Review & Questions @ Locky's English Playground

Crocodiles 'taught to recognise their names' @ Telegraph

JURASSIC WORLD Official Full Length Trailer @YouTube

The Lost World: Jurassic Park @ IMDb

Jurassic Park III @IMDb

Jurassic World @ IMDb

Austin Powers - Sharks with lasers @YouTube

Jurassic Park 3D Movie CLIP - Life Finds A Way (1993) - Steven Spielberg Movie HD @ YouTube

Monday 29 June 2015

Movie & Opinions: The Avengers 2 - My Belated Review & Questions

Age of Ultron
Image from wallpaperswide.com
Haven't got to watch too many movies these days. Haven't got the time to write too much either.

The Avengers 2 was perhaps the best in terms of casts, CG, story, dialogues. But that doesn't mean it is without flaws. For me, logical flaws are the ones that get onto my nerve the most, luckily, this movie has done enough to cover my logical senses.

Paul Bettany's Vision
Image from mashable
To me, the biggest problem with the storyline is how did Vision manage to lock Ultron in its main body when Ultron literally outpowered JARVIS and tore it into pieces at the beginning? Did the mind stone give Vision the extra computational power? I thought the mind stone didn't work on Tony Stark in The Avengers 1 when Loki pointed the mind-stone scepter to his arc reactor, so how come it works on Ultron -- a fully metallic being? Which brings us to more follow-up questions on this battle of AI. If JARVIS did a backup of himself, why didn't the even-smarter Ultron too? How can Vision be so sure that that was Ultron's final copy near the end.

What made Stark think and Banner agree that they should put an evil-minded stone-powered AI, something even more powerful than the well-developed JARVIS, into the Ultron program? It doesn't take a genius to recognise the danger of this.

Agent Maria Hill and Agent Phil Coulson in The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Image from marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com
It is sad to see Quicksilver died barely after appearing just 1 movie, buthe did he really die? Those of you who watched The Agents of Shield TV drama series know that Agent Phil Coulson has been resurrected using alien technology and working quietly behind The Avengers' back. The TV drama has tiedone very closely with all Marvel's movies so far and it will be ignorant to ignore the fact that agent Coulson will return in future Avengers' sequels. Then how can we be sure that Quicksilver is really dead? On this, since Sif has worked with Agent Coulson in the TV drama, I would expect her to inform Thor about Coulson's resurrection, so Thor will tell the rest of the team. Meaning that the team should know Coulson is still alive.

Black Widow's lullaby for the Hulk
Image from ew.com
Love between Black Widow and the Hulk was a big surprise for me, since she did really kiss Captain America in The Winter Soldier and engage in so much flirting with him (something that Roger himself told Banner at Stark's party). Whoever ends up with Black Widow is not of my greatest interests, but I do want to see how Marvel wants to develop along this line. More romance or just leave it hanging?

Captain America's vibranium shield
Image from Blogger

Now that the team has defeated Ultron, the Avengers should have confiscated literally tonnes of Vibranium. So logically speaking, Iron Man should be able to create the world's toughest suit very soon. Or will he? I suppose nobody wants even the slightest piece of Ultron or Vibranium to be left scattering around Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's home country Sokovia, right?

Broken shield and dead Thor?
Image from Yahoo
The shield doesn't seem to be indestructible though. The part when Stark was subjected to the 'fear' magic of Scarlet Witch, he had visions(?) of all his friends dead, except the almost-dead Captain America who said to him, "why didn't you do more?" Whether his visions are real or not is still a big question, because if it is real, then Captain's shield will surely break, and all Avengers will die. In his vision, there was someone lying on the top of the hill, motionless, but who that really was is still an unknown.

Elizabeth Olsen in Age of Ultron
Image from fanpop.com
Cleavage shots were once the sole property of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, but not any more in the Age of Ultron, as the youngest Olsen's sister basically filled large proportion of her screen time with feminism. Obviously, she is not afraid of showing a little of her body, given her earlier work in Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) and Oldboy (2013). But then in a way, Age of Ultron captured her cleavage a little too much for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I don't go against feminism. I celebrate it with all respect, but feminism needs not be overly-portrayed through breasts and cleavages. Particularly that shot right after she felt her brother was killed, when she leaned all the way forward... Man! I was trying to focus on the story you know?

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow
Image from ScreenSlam
All in all, this is still a fantastic movie, and I can't wait for the DVD to be released as the deleted scenes of the popular villain Loki is expected to be included in it. My baby girl also loves watching the Avengers, and she is already watching all Avengers 2 videos on YouTube, so Marvel, please release that DVD / Blu-ray earlier.

PS: And yes, if you do find the lifting hammer scene funny, how about knowing how heavy Thor's hammer (Mjölnir) really is?

Ultron @ Marvel Cinematic Universe Wikia

The Vision: Everything you need to know before seeing 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' @ Mashable

Elizabeth Olsen Says ‘No’ to More Nudity @ Fleshbot

Sam Explains The Duct-Taped Shield @ The Sundry Times

How Much Does Thor's Hammer Weigh? @ YouTube

AVENGERS 2 Age of Ultron Movie Clip "Lifting Thor's Hammer" @ YouTube

Friday 19 June 2015

Message: Three Months Before PhD Confirmation & My CAES Talk

First page of my presentation slide
Image from Locky's English Playground

In less than three months time, I will be submitting a PhD confirmation report as well as presenting my initial findings to the board. This is something all PhD candidates must overcome in order to proceed with the research project. It is an important stage and I would like to do it well, and so last week, I picked up my 19,000-word thesis draft again having left it untouched for months.

Looking back at the previous stuff I wrote, I was largely unorganised and incoherent. It seems to me that I will have to speed up with the writing process or I will risk having a paper full of potential for landfill. What saddens me is that, I haven't even spent much time on writing my blog half as much but I am already feeling a lack of time.

Researching in creative language use in English seems far more interesting than most of the things I encounter these days, but none of that can be published here before I get them published in journals, if I ever manage to get them to.

No one was presenting before me, so I took a selfie! Overly-smudged face by Samsung's default camera mode
Image from Locky's English Playground

My talk at the CAES conference at HKU last week wasn't as good as I have expected. I actually could have answered my questions better that day during the Q & A session, and the fact that I forgot to play a short video clip of the TV drama eventually led to some wrongly asked questions from the audience, as they thought House M.D. uses specialised discourse and therefore a specialised corpus should be used instead of COCA. These are questions I should have expected for audience who knows little about the TV drama. That night, I immediately made changes to my slides when I got home. It is hopeful that when I present this study again next week at the Asialex 2015 at PolyU I can make a better impression on the audience.

Message: My First 7000-Word Paper & Upcoming Talks @ Locky's English Playground

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Auto & Event: Charged Hong Kong - May 2015 Gathering

Image from Locky's English Playground

The EV owners meet-up on 29th May at Jockey Club's Happy Valley Clubhouse was our third major event since Model S arrived in Hong Kong and the Tesla Rally last year. It was also my first time to attend as Tesla Motors Group Representative of Charged Hong Kong. Many thanks to all committee members of Charged Hong Kong for this nomination.

Members having fun even before the dinner started
Image from Locky's English Playground

The weather was not exactly helpful that evening. Drizzles added extra work to the staff as they had to shift tables to maximise coverage. Mosquitoes started their dinner early as I counted more than 10 bites on both my forearms and my neck despite having repellent OFF! applied, while our dinner started late as the food was not ready until almost 7:30pm.

Food is ready
Image from Locky's English Playground
However, despite all those glitches, all members still had a great time mingling. Laughs and jokes were radiating out from my table in particular and attracted many other to come and join the fun. We had such good fun that everyone found it difficult to leave!

Charged Hong Kong chairman Mark Webb-Johnson giving a short speech
Image from Locky's English Playground
The barbecue lamb racks and sirloin steaks were among the tenderest and tastiest I have ever had! Definitely the focus of the meal! The rest of the food was alright.

Model S parked together for photos
Image from Locky's English Playground
At 9:45pm, 15 minutes from the end time of the event, my wife and I bid the rest goodbye and headed back to our car. I wanted to take some photos of the EVs with my DSLR before leaving and just as I was getting ready, everybody else came down to the car park at the same time. Before I could make sense of the happening, fellow owners were already moving their cars to park next to one another.

White among several shades of grey
Image from Locky's English Playground
Thanks to their effort, I was able to take some awesome photos.

Bill demonstrating his gadget mobile to others
Image from Locky's English Playground
I suppose it was because our gadget king Bill was about to leave and so everyone else who wanted to check out his Teslamobile took their chance for one quick glimpse of his modification work.

Panorama of the car park
Image from Locky's English Playground
After that night, I was already looking forward to our next gathering! I will have gifts to donate for the lucky draw next time round!

For more awesome photos, check out my Google Plus photo album here!

May 2015 Meet-Up @JockeyClub +Charged Hong Kong

Auto & News: Hong Kong Tesla Model S First Delivery Event!!!@ Locky's English Playground

Auto & Event: Tesla Rally Hong Kong 2014 & Shark Conservation @ Locky's English Playground

Tesla Motors Special Interest Group +Charged Hong Kong

Charged Hong Kong - May 2015 Gathering @ Google Plus