Thursday, September 29, 2011

Comics this week

FF #9- After last issue, things seem to be building up to a massive battle between the Reeds, the FF, and the Inhumans. Unfortunately, the build-up was better than the execution as the battle this issue was horribly one-side. The Inhumans basically took out the Reeds without trouble and FF was a non-issue in the battle. It was anti-climatic as hell. Writer Jonathan Hickman seem more interested in introducing new plot-lines than showing off a good battle. Usually I have no problem with that but when the most interesting new plot on show was a conversation between 2 kids (Bentley & Val are going to be 2 great villains when they grow up), this means the rest of the new plots aren’t that interesting. However Hickman has shown on previous occasions he can pull a rabbit out of the hat so I can still be hopeful. I just hope my hope is not misplaced.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #13- In my review of the last issue of WoT, I state that writer Chuck Dixon has been faithfully adapting the novels by Robert Jordan. I had been happy with his work so far but sometime we can have too much of a good thing and we reached that point this issue. #13 is just too faithful to the book to make a issue. The narrative may be necessary to help readers focused on the battle as it is written in the book but it also pull the reader out of the battle. It’s hard to feel the excitement of the battle when you are reading a narrative overview of the battle. Not a bad issue, just not a very exciting one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Winner!

How to be a winner? Act like Charlie Sheen!

Charlie Sheen, former star of the over-rated TV show Two and a Half Men went through a very public dispute with show creator Chuck Lorre and was fired from the show. I’m not going to go into the reason(s) as we all saw it, we all heard of it, and we all read it.

However Charlie is going to have the last laugh because he filed a lawsuit against Lorre and Warner Bros. and he is going to get a big settlement for it. Big as in $25 million BIG!

Wow! Talk about a golden handshake and that’s just the initial sum. Charlie is going to get even more once the show syndication run throughout the world. And all he need to do is to keep his mouth shut about the show!

Okay the last part might be a little hard for him but reading this, you can’t help but say this; Charlie Sheen: THE WINNER!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Find A Common Goal First

As the saying goes, you must walk before you can run. I think this is something former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say need to understand before he embark on his plan of forming a coalition of opposition parties.

The basic idea is sound and others like Chiam See Tong had tried it before but simply put; I think his plan is doom to failure.

The reason for my thinking is very simple; the various opposition parties in Singapore have nothing in common. For there to be a working coalition, there must be several political parties working together for a common goal. Currently the only thing the opposition has in common is that they have a common enemy in the ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Outside that, they have nothing in common and having a common enemy is just not enough for the coalition to last. They need to have a common political goal or at least a policy that they can all agree on and build off. Until they find this common policy goal, the coalition plan will not work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cooking Is Sexist

One of the things about young Singapore women is that they do not cook. It’s pretty obvious. Out of 10 young Singaporean women out there, you would be lucky to find 1 do can actually cook (putting chicken nuggets in the microwave and cooking instant noodles or rice do not count).

Some foreigners I know find this very strange as in their countries, most women do cook. I now understand why Singapore women do not cook. In Singapore, cooking is sexist! Yes that’s right; cooking is sexist so if a woman cook, she is promoting sexism.

That’s the feeling I get when I read that Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) intend to give its first tongue-in-cheek sexism award to "honour" Mr. Desmond Choo as the person who has done the greatest disservice to gender equality this year. His offence?

In his election speech (Choo is a candidate from the People's Action Party in the recent General Elections), he said that a resident told him that choosing an MP is like choosing a wife and if your wife is unable to cook, there's no point. Choo was criticised for being sexist though he said the statement was taken out of context.

Personally I don’t really care if it was taken out of context because well…I don’t really see what’s wrong with it? The resident told Choo one must choose a wife who is able to cook things for you. Is that so bad? Is wanting a wife who can cook a sexist remark?

According to Aware, it obviously is. For so people who wonder why young Singaporean women don’t cook, this is the reason. Cooking is a sexist activity so no women should cook!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Rant About Education

Now we all know that Singapore is the land of the kaisu Singaporean. Singaporeans are “scared to lose” so they will do anything possible to avoid losing. Top of the pile of kaisu Singaporeans are kaisu Singapore parents. You know the type; the parents who will enroll their kids in every tuition class, music class, art class etc they can find.

Now you can argue these parents just want the best for their kids but there is a thing as taking things too far and I think I just read about it. Parents are taking classes, especially maths classes, so that they can help their kids in their studies! Some even “asked” their kid’s schools to provide them with classes so that they can “help” their kids with their homework. I’m amazed there are schools who say yes!

The reason is that these parents aren’t studying for knowledge, to improve themselves, because of their interest etc; they are studying for one reason only, to help their kids with their homework. I find that incredulous, and I don’t mean the fact that the schools are helping the student to cheat on their homework?

There is just something fundamentally wrong with our education system if schools have to provide lessons to parents so that the parents can help their kids with their homework! Now I’m not stupid enough to argue something like the “joy of studying” or “education is more than exams” (this is Singapore), but parents asking classes for the sole sake of “helping” their kids with homework? Tell me there is nothing wrong with that?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Comics this week

Green Lantern #1- DC marketing department worked their magic as Green Lantern is now back to #1. Of course since nothing storywise or artwise changed, the #1 here is nothing but a number seeking to get readers to spend their hard-earned money. Okay, rant over! Green Lantern #1 pick up directly where War of The Green Lanterns left off with Sinestro holding a green power ring and Hal Jordan out of the Corps. No one, not Sinestro, Hal or the Guardians of Oa are happy with the situation but they all try to deal with it the best they can. Touches of comedy throughout the issue, something rarely seen in a GL book, make this a light touch compared to the war, Blackest Night etc. In many ways, this issue is a welcome change of pace by writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke from the all-out action of the previous few arcs. Glad to see even with a new #1, Green Lantern is still one of the better ongoing series out there.

Demon Knights #1- A series focused on a magic-based group full of B-list, C-list, no-list characters in the distant past of the DCU? That sound like a disaster in the making but writer Paul Cornell and artist Diogenes Neves made it work by…well, having fun with the concept. Set in the Dark Ages, Cornell quickly introduced the main characters which would be Vandal Savage, Etrigan and Madame Xanadu and from that point on, characters are thrown at the readers at a kinetic pace with action and intrigue thrown in for good measure. After reading the issue, I remember a similar series I read before. That series is Secret Six, another series filled with B-list, C-list, no-list characters. That series was great and hopefully Demon Knights will be the Secret Six of the new DCU.

X-Men: Schism #4- This is it? This is the dispute that brings a spilt to the X-Men? Sorry but I just don’t buy it. Wolverine has always been the guy within the X-Men most willing to do what need to be done to get things done but he is the one who got a problem with sending Hope and gang to fight for the survival of the mutant species? Sorry but I just don’t buy it. Also I feel writer Jason Aaron jumped the shark this issue. Cyclops and Wolverine engaged in a fight while a gigantic Sentinel is slowly edging to the shores of Utopia looking to wipe everyone out? Sorry but I just don’t buy it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ban On Camera Phones

One of the long-standing rules of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is that you cannot bring in a camera into an army camp. The ban on cameras also means that soldiers cannot bring in camera phones into the camp.

As any National Serviceman or reservists knows; this ban on camera phones is routinely ignored. People bring in camera phones all the time. During my reservist, I know of a guy who brings in a blackberry even. Frankly, there is just no effective way for the SAF to enforce the ban as handphones are so small nowadays.

So in the face of this, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has now announced that it is “exploring ways” to allow soldiers to use the camera-equipped smartphones. It looks like the ban on camera phones are going the way of the dodo and my feelings on this are mixed.

I can understand why the SAF is reviewing the rules but if they are going to allow camera phones, then they should also allow cameras in as well. The reason why camera phones are not allowed in base is due to the cameras inside the phones so if cameras phones are allowed; why not cameras?

It makes no sense right? If Mindef reverse the ban on cameras phones, then they should reverse the ban on cameras as well. If they don’t intend to reverse the ban on cameras, then they not reverse the ban on camera phones! It’s that simple.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Excuse For Failure

DC Universe Online was supposed to be the MMO that will conquer the niche superhero MMO market. The odds were in its favor. Of the 3 superhero MMO on the market (City of Heroes & Champions Online being the other 2), it was the latest one to come out; it was based on the popular DCU; and it is produced and marketed by Sony Online Entertainment.

The reality was different as gamers abandoned the game after a promising start. Now Sony is going to move DC Online to a freemium model next month in an effort to increase the player base of the game. For those of you who are wondering, a freemium
is an online game which is free 2 play but with restrictions. If you pay for a monthly fee, these restrictions will be lifted.

However I doubt this move is going to help DC Online in a great way. More players may join but unless there are massive improvements, the game will continue to be a disappointment. If Sony wants DC online to be successful, they need to concentrate more on improving gameplay than on changing the payment model.

As someone who has played both City of Heroes & Champions Online, I have to say the biggest problem DC Online has is the lack of variety you have. DC Online only allow you to have 7 power sets which is tiny when you consider that when you created a character in City of Heroes, you have a choice of around 12 power sets to choose from. And that’s just in 1 class! DC Online has 7 power sets for the WHOLE GAME!

That is the problem with the game, not the payment model. I feel a lot of game companies are using the subscription/F2P argument as an excuse for why their games failed. To me the subscription/F2P argument is a non-starter because if it is a good game, players will be more than willing to pay a subscription to play the game. Anyone who believes otherwise can just look at the top MMO in the market right now. Last I check, World of Warcraft is still a subscription MMO.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Reason Why

What a busy week this will be for the diplomats of America and Israel! Later this week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present to the United Nations (U.N.) a formal request to admit Palestine as a new nation under the United Nations.

Israel is trying desperately to head that off because if the U.N. accepts Palestine as a member, this will mean the world recognized Palestine as a nation and that will grant Palestine protection under the U.N. charter. As Israel’s loyal lap…ally, America has already said they will veto Palestine’s membership into the U.N.

Of course the United States faced a few problems with this stance.

1) Over 120 countries have said they will support the Palestinians’ bid so America will be in the vast minority of nations against the bid.
2) Muslim countries (population and governments) in the Middle East all support the bid so America will be going against the people of an important region.
3) In fact, globally more people support UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state than oppose it. A poll by the BBC across 19 countries showed that 49% of the people polled backed the proposal while 21% said their government should oppose it. The rest were undecided but this still means people who back a Palestine state outnumbered people who oppose it 2 to 1. Perhaps most surprisingly is that according to the poll, more Americans (45%) support the bid than oppose it (36%).

It all begs the question; why is the United States vetoing the Palestinians bid? In simple terms; domestic politics! Outside that, there's really no other reason for their objection.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Should Not Be Allowed!

Everyone and their uncle know that the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has been desperately trying to lure overseas companies to list in Singapore. In their desperation for foreign money, there have been some strange listings in recent years.

Now one only need to remember the many scandals of Chinese companies in recent years to know that listing rules on the SGX are somewhat lax but I found the coming listing of Manchester United on the SGX the strangest listing of all. Manchester United is a world famous football club in the UK and yet their planned US$1 billion ($1.24 billion) IPO (initial public offering) is in Singapore?

That’s strange no matter how you look at it.

According to media reports, the listing will be sometime next month but you can only buy non-voting preference shares and the share structure will be set-up in a way that will ensure the Glazer family retains control of the club. No doubt there will be some Manchester United fans who will buy the shares for sentimental value but I have to ask why the SGX is allowing this? To me, the listing is a bad idea.

Manchester United may be famous but it is a club 460 million pounds in debt and its ability to pay off that debt depend a lot on its success in the competitive English Premier League (EPL) and Champions League. Yet the SGX is allowing such a club to be listed on the local bourse? Would the SGX allow any company over 400 million pound in debt to be listed? The answer is a clear “No” so why should this case be any different?

A closer look at the IPO however and you can guess why the club is listing in Singapore. No wonder Singapore beat Hong Kong in getting the club to list here. It is probably listing here because no other bourse wants them!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Malaysia Say Bye-bye to ISA

The surprise news yesterday was that Malaysia is going to abolish the deeply unpopular Internal Security Act (ISA). The security law was a remnant of colonial times that allow the government to detent people without trial and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib
Razak announced that Malaysia will be repelling the law and replacing it 2 new anti-terrorism laws.

Less than a day after the news broke and there are already people in the Singapore blogshere who are saying that Singapore should follow Malaysia’s example and get rid of our own ISA. Frankly, I am for getting rid of the ISA but I also think a lot of people are jumping the gun here.

First off, let’s get this straight. PM Najib is not getting rid of the ISA out of the goodness of his heart, his commitment to freedom or his opposition to the ISA; he is getting rid of the law because he need the votes! Try as they might, PM Najib's National Front coalition has been unable to regain support they lost in the 2008 general polls when the government lost more than one-third of Parliament's seats to the opposition. A series of missteps since then (the crazy sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar
Ibrahim, the arrest of more than 1,600 demonstrators during the march on July 9 etc) has made the political landscape even more difficult for the ruling coalition.

Second and most importantly; we do not know anything about the 2 new anti-terrorism laws that will be replacing the ISA. Currently all we know is that they will NOT be called the ISA but outside that it is a big blank. For all we know, the new laws could be worse than the ISA.

In Singapore, the ISA is also very unpopular but till we get more information of what Malaysia is doing, let’s just wait before we call for our government to follow the Malaysian example. Let see if the Malaysian example is one that’s worth following first.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Comics this week

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #12- In many ways, I’ shocked at how much I’m enjoying this series. If I looked at it objectively, there’s no reason for my love. Writer Chuck Dixon has been faithfully adapting the novels by Robert Jordan but he isn’t doing anything truly special; artist Chase Conley is doing a competent job but he also isn’t doing anything special with the art. However the duo is doing wonderful work together on this series (they just gel) and this issue show why! What was a pretty forgettable scene in the book is brought to life with gusto by the creative team. The singing and dancing by the various characters made this a lively issue and there’s another tour de force by Moiraine showing again she would not let anything stop her from getting things done. Forgot the new 52 by DC, readers should pick up this shockingly overlooked series by Dynamite.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Laughing Matter

Just last week, I spoke about how sky-rocketing property prices was one of the reason why the People’s Action Party (PAP) lost votes in the last General Elections (GE). I also said that the government’s tactic of trying to talk down housing prices just isn’t working. That hasn’t stopped them from trying of course but the latest round of talking down the market has Singaporeans howling in laughter.

I have to say I’ve joined in. You see; the latest person to try to talk down the market is Mr. Wong Heang Fine, President of Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (REDAS) and Chief Executive of CapitaLand Residential Singapore, one of the largest property companies in Singapore. Mr. Wong says that the government should review the current cooling measures as there are fears that economic woes in Europe and America would weaken the local real estate market.

Now I understand that a man in his position would want the property market back to the time where prices rise by more than 10% a year, I’m sure several other property developers in Singapore hope for the same thing, but to call for a review of the cooling measures is a joke. The reason is that the “cooling measures” has not cooled anything yet! The “cooling measures” by the Singapore government has not worked! Property prices have not come down, though at a slower rate than before prices are in fact still going up! And they are asking for the cooling measures to be scrapped?

Needless to say Singaporeans have found this hilarious. Prices are still escalating despite the cooling measures and property companies want the government to review these said measures? Like most Singaporeans, I can’t help but laugh.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

5 Peter Pans

After a year of remakes and sequels, it seems that Hollywood is not stopping. I just read on IGN that various Hollywood studios are doing remakes as well as upcoming projects for various fairytale stories.

Now I have no problem with that…in theory. There are some good remakes out there, Rise of The Planet of the Apes being one, but I’m shocked at the sheer amount of them. I’m not sure how true it is but according to the IGN report, there are remakes in the works for 5 different Peter Pan movies!

Come on! I know Hollywood is in a creative drought but 5 Peter Pan movies? Surely things can’t be that bad! Can a Hollywood studio executive give me a call then? Hire me! I assure you I can do better than 5 Peter Pan movies.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, It's Ugly But...

In case you are wondering, this is Miss Singapore 2011 Valerie Lim wearing her Singapore “costume” at the Miss Universe 2011 contest in Brazil this year. As you expect, a lot of Singaporeans are unhappy about the costume, saying that this dress does not represent Singapore.

Let me make this clear first; this is one ugly dress! Usually I couldn’t care less about cloths but this dress look more like a carpet than a dress so I totally agree that this dress is ugly.

Having said that; I do not understand why Singaporeans are saying this dress does not represent Singapore. Does Singapore have an official dress/uniform/costume accepted by normal Singaporeans? The answer is "No", so why can’t this dress be the Singapore costume?

We don’t have a national costume so the designers decided that this will be the national costume. Fair enough to me and besides...keep your shirt on people, who cares about a beauty contest?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Investing In Comics

Any readers of my blog can tell that I’m a comic reader. Every week, I put up a review of the comics I bought for the week and that was my intention this week as well.

However when I reached my regular comic shop yesterday, I looked at the weekly list of titles which had been shipped this week and found that there had been quite a number of sold-outs on the list. I enquired and was told that there had been a number of buyers for the new DC Universe revamp. DC is revamping their comic titles, cancelling their current titles and putting out 52 new titles. Personally, I feel this is nothing but a marketing ploy as most of the titles aren’t exactly new but just titles with a new #1.

Despite my personal feelings, the marketing worked as speculators are buying up the #1 for “investments”. As someone who remember the 90s comic boom and the following collapse, I will tell the speculators this; be very, very careful about speculating in comics!

As a long-time comic reader and collector, I can safely say that most of the comics on the stands of comic shops will not be worth much in a few years time. In fact, I will say that most of the new 52 titles by DC will be cancelled within 2 years. Sure, there will be some that will be worth more money in a few years but the majority of the comics are not worth investing in and with good reason. Making money is not what comics are for!

Comic books are meant to be read and enjoyed. They are not sitting on the stands of your local comic shop for investments. For all those people who bought the #1, I hope you enjoyed them but if you bought them for investments and speculations; sorry but you are out of luck.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sad State Of Music

1. Aqua, “Barbie Girl”
2. Los Del Rio, "Macarena"
3. Billy Ray Cyrus, "Achy Breaky Heart"
4. Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"
5. Chumbawamba, "Tubthumping"
6. Hanson, "MMMBop"
7. Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On"
8. Baha Men, "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
9. Right Said Fred, "I'm Too Sexy"
10. 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up?"

This is the list from Rolling Stone Magazine on the “worst song of the 1990s”. As a guy who grew up in the 90s, I have to say I agree with most of the Top 10. I’m kind of surprised Aqua's "Barbie Girl" is voted the worst (Macarena & Achy Breaky Heart are both far worse in my view) and there are no songs from Boyzone or BackStreet Boys in the Top 10 but overall I’m okay with the list.

However you know what I feel sad about when I read this list? No, not my age but the fact that most of the songs on this list are better than the garbage coming out from Justin Bieber right now! When some of the worst songs from my generation can still beat the crap out of the hottest songs right now; now that’s sad.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Price Of Glory

Anyone who saw a rugby match can easily tell that rugby players are big, tough guys. They have to be because rugby is a FULL CONTACT SPORTS with capital letters all the way.

With the Rugby World Cup starting later this month, the best players in the world are gearing up for tough competition. They are eating right and training hard to give themselves the best possible chance of lifting the trophy and becoming world champion. However for one player the biggest problem is not dieting or training but…tweeting!

New Zealand winger Cory Jane, publicly admitted that he was suffering from severe withdrawal pangs after the management of the New Zealand team imposed a ban on tweeting till the end of the World Cup. Jane says he is a tweeting fanatic and is battling his withdrawal via a loophole in the rule. The ban is on tweeting so he doesn’t tweet but he does check his account once every 10 minutes just to see what people are writing about.

Just when you thought you heard of every addiction there is, here’s one more! Blood, sweat, tears, and a ban on tweeting; the things you do to be world champions! Bravo, Mr. Cory Jane, Bravo!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh WikiLeaks!

Oh WikiLeaks! Oh WikiLeaks! Oh WikiLeaks!

What fun you are! Even a year after you guys shot to fame, you are still causing world leaders to have sleepless nights!

The latest WikiLeaks cables, released on 30 August, is causing Singapore leaders extreme headaches as they come out to “clarify” their positions. Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew rejected a WikiLeaks claim that he characterized Islam as a “venomous religion”, claiming that he was talking about extremist terrorists group like Jemaah Islamiyah, not Islam as a whole. Then Minister-in-charge for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim has to explain why his two children hold American citizenship, another revelation by WikiLeaks.

That’s just 2 revelations out of many many from the pages of WikiLeaks. Most of which I found more funny than dangerous. Oh WikiLeaks! Oh WikiLeaks! Oh WikiLeaks! How bored we would be without you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wimpy LTA

You know, usually I’m all for government agencies helping Singaporeans with their problems. I usually like it when agencies like the LTA (Land Transport Authority) change their policies to help Singaporeans.

However for the LTA latest ruling on off-peak cars (OPC), “usually” is the operative word. In the past, ruling for OPC was very simple. You cannot drive your vehicles on Monday to Friday between 7am to 7pm. On Saturday, you can drive after 3pm. On Sunday and public holidays, you can drive for the whole day. Thus the term off-peak car; you can only drive the car during the off-peak hours. If owner want to drive their OPC during the restricted hours, they will need to pay a $20 license before the day of use. If you fail to do so, you get a fine.

The OPC scheme was introduced as a way for people who wants a car (but don’t really need it) to own a car. In return for the restricted hours, owners get rebate of $17,000 as well as a discount on their yearly road tax. It used to be so simple!

However recently LTA has changed policies on the OPC and it has brought confusion to everyone. LTA changed the $20 license so that owners can now buy the license 1 day after the day of use. That’s bad enough but now LTA has changed policies again so that owners can buy their license 3 days after the day of use.

LTA says they changed the policy after receiving numerous complains from owners of OPC. I say; the LTA are wimps!

Come on, the OPC owners already has a $17,000 as well as a discount on their road tax. Not only that, they usually get to pay lower cost on their insurance and car loan as well. All those advantages are more than enough and all you are asking these owners to do is to pay for $20 license if they intend to use their OPC during the restricted hours.

It seem more than reasonable to me; hell, I think OPC owners have a great deal. Are they happy? No, they complain and whine till they are given 1 extra day to pay for their license. Now, they complain and whine till they are given 3 more days to pay for their license. And the LTA is currently run by wimps who gave in to their unreasonable demands. What’s next? 5days? A week? A month?

Don’t’ be surprise because I believe these owners will now ask for even more days to pay for the license and why not? If the LTA is willing to change the period to 3 days, why not change it again to 5 days or a week? The LTA is just making things difficult for themselves and confusing the hell out of everybody.

I say this to the LTA; Figure out what policy you really want and stick to it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Targeting At The Wrong Crowd

In the last General Elections (GE), one of the reasons why the People’s Action Party (PAP) lost votes was because of the sky-rocketing prices of homes in Singapore. Singaporeans are waiting for the government to takes steps to tackle the issue of high (and still rising) prices. The latest steps from the Housing Development Board (HDB) to raise the income ceiling of Singaporeans to qualify for an HDB flat is meant for that and it will be…a total failure!

I do not believe raising the income ceiling from $8,000 to $10,000 will make a single dent in rising housing prices in Singapore. Not only that, I can’t see it having any affect whatsoever. The main reason why Singapore housing prices are still rising (despite the world economy being in trouble) is because of the many foreigners who are snapping up properties in Singapore. This is something everyone knows but the latest ruling from the HDB does not target them but Singaporeans?

What would that do? How would that lower the housing prices in Singapore? It doesn’t and that’s why I believe this new ruling won’t affect prices in the slightest. Everyone in Singapore has heard from the government about how prices should come down in 2014, 2015 etc and guessed what? Everyone heard and promptly ignored them!

I can understand exactly where they are coming from. It is 2011 which means there is at least 3 years of rising prices, so why shouldn’t I ignore what the government says right now? The PAP seen more worried about a potential housing collapse than high housing prices and since the GE have engaged in trying to talk down housing prices than doing anything concrete against the market.

The PAP government needs to understand one simple thing; housing prices have been rising for years and they will continue to rise unless something is done to stop it! You cannot let your fear of a potential problem (housing collapse) stop you from taking concrete steps to solve the problem you currently do have (high housing prices)! As the results of the past few years have proved, trying to talk down housing prices just doesn’t work.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes

When I first heard of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, I was indifferent to it. I’m had seen the original “Planet of the Apes” and while it was a good movie, I won’t call myself a fan of the franchise.

This Planet of the Apes movie has changed that!

Directed by Rupert Wyatt, this ambitious film is a reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise, an origin story for a new series and a remake of “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”, the fourth film of the original series. Amazingly, it worked on all corners!

The film has James Franco starring as Will Rodman, a scientist based in San Francisco who is trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer. Testing on chimpanzees, he developed a virus that mutated the chimpanzees, giving them a level of intelligence.

After a failed presentation of his work, Will was ordered by his boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) to put down all the chimps. Will and his subordinate Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) did but they couldn’t bring themselves to kill a baby chimp that was just born before the failed presentation. Will decided to bring the baby home and gave it to his father, Charles Rodman (John Lithgow), as a pet. Charles named the baby chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis).

Caesar showed a higher intelligence and learning ability from the start and 3 years after bringing him home, Will secretly gave a sample of his cure to his father who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It worked and the father and son duo lived happily with Caesar.

The happiness would not last as a few years later, Charles’ Alzheimer came back with a vengeance. After tests, Will discovered that his father’s immune system was fighting off the virus and he would need to create a more powerful form of the virus to further treat his father.

However in his dementia, Charles damaged his neighbor's car and the neighbor threatened Charles. Caesar saw this and attacked the neighbour to protect Charles. Caesar is then ordered to be held in a primate facility pending the court hearing of whether he is a dangerous animal. Run by John Landon (Brian Cox), the apes at the facility were treated cruelly and for the first time in his life, Caesar saw how humans truly treat apes.

Using his intelligence, Caesar escaped from the primate facility, stole more of the virus made by Will, then went back to the facility and released the virus on the other apes. Will turned to his boss Jacobs in desperation for funds to create a strong virus. Seeing Will’s results, Jacobs agreed and new tests on chimpanzees begin.

The main test subject is a chimp named Koba (Christopher Gordon) and the new virus works. However Franklin is exposed to the new virus and begins to feel unwell. Delighted with the success of the chimp experiments, Jacobs decided to speed up research and testing of the new virus. Will warn Jacobs not to do so as he believed Jacob was going too fast. Jacobs ignored Will’s warnings and Will quits his job in protest.

Meanwhile, Caesar led the other apes in escaping from the primate facility and revealed that he is intelligent enough to talk in the human language. The apes escaped into the city, raiding Will's former place of work and the San Francisco Zoo. The apes then beat a police blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge and escape into the Muir Woods for their freedom.

Let me make this clear; of all the summer movies this year, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is without question the best of the lot.

It is not even close. Director Rupert Wyatt showed a steady hand here as he somehow managed to make a kick-ass movie remake, paid homage to the previous films and then at the same time make his movie an intelligent one to boot.

Of course, he is helped by some impressive special effects and good performances from his actors. The performance by Andy Serkis was especially good. The motion-capture technology may have totally covered him but his actions, his movement was beautifully captured. Although we don’t get to see him personally, Serkis was almost like a Kabuki actor, using his actions and movements to portray the character that is Caesar.

I also like how the movie paid homage to the previous films without making too big of a deal out of it. Various names and one famous line were incorporated into the movie and for the most part they worked well.

The movie also has a great post-credit scene where it is hinted that the rise of the apes was not the only reason for the decline of humans. Unlike other post-credit scene where things came out of left-field (Kungfu Panda 2) or were just plain stupid (Green Lantern), the scene was intelligent, it made sense and was great. Although clearly a drop for a further movie, the scene was nevertheless one of the best scenes in the movie.

Of course not everything was great. Although he was the lead, I thought James Franco could have done better as Will Rodman. I just couldn’t buy Will as a genius researcher and I think it says a lot when Andy Serkis as an ape totally overshadowed Franco in the acting department.

I also have a problem with Freida Pinto as Caroline Aranha. Maybe it was the script but her role as the token female was a waste. Yes I know the token female in summer blockbusters are usually unnecessary, but I felt she was worse than unnecessary. She was utterly forgettable in the role. Most of the time, she doesn’t even look like she’s trying and doesn’t want to be in the film.

Still these are minor points when compare to the overall movie. As I had said earlier, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good film, without question the best movie I had seen this year. Bring on the sequel; I’ll be waiting!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comics this week

Justice League #1- It's here! The DC Universe has been reborn and Justice League #1 is the flagship for the new DCU. The expectations and risks are high and DC knows it, putting superstar writer Geoff Johns and famed artist Jim Lee on board for the new Justice League. So how was it? My take on #1 is mixed. Set 5 years in the past, #1 is the origin story of the new Justice League. The issue has Batman and Green Lantern meeting up in Gotham as Green Lantern is chasing a report of an alien in the city. After destroying the alien, they decided to go find the most famous alien they know of, Superman, to see if he knows anything about the dead alien. Yes, #1 is a little slow but whereas Geoff Johns fails on the pacing, he did deliver on the character/personality clash of Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne. The banter between the two moved the issue along nicely and Jim Lee's slick art complement the story. The plot itself is nothing special. The heroes are feared by the public, they operate separately from each other and a threat (cough, Darkseid, cough) requires them to band together to fight off this threat. That is why I am mixed on this issue. It’s nice and fun but nothing special. As the flagship and rebirth of the DCU, I was hoping for more.