Monday, November 15, 2010

Let Me In

I have never been a fan of horror movies. Most of them feature shallow protagonists with senseless plots. They also accentuate blood, violence and gore which usually exist in these movies for the sake of existing. Once in a while however, a decent horror film enters the cinemas which exceeds all our expectations.

Vampires are fascinating creatures and have been predominant in the horror genre for some time now and more so these days with the highly successful Twilight franchise and television series such as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Having not bought into these movies and series, Let Me In only brings me back to the 1994 horror drama, The Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. It tells an epic tale of a vampire's life and is known for its exploration into the emotional and "human" aspects of vampires. Rather than focussing on them as mythological or folkloric creatures, the movie shows that they are beings who also, like us, experience emotional torment, pain and suffering. Let Me In captures its audience by appealing to the basest of our needs; the need for affection and human contact.

Based on the 2008 Swedish cult horror feature directed by Thomas Alfredson, Let The Right One In and the novel of the same title, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the 2010 English feature entitled Let Me In tells the harrowing tale of a lonely adolescent boy who develops a relationship with a female child vampire.

WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!


The movie is set in 1983, in Los Alamos, New Mexico during winter. The dark and dreary winter night comes to life with the sound of sirens and the presence of light emanating from an ambulance racing through the woods. We learn that the ambulance is carrying a disfigured man (Richard Jenkins) who seems to be out of control. At the hospital, a policeman (Elias Koteas) begins to interrogate the disfigured man, and accuses him of being part of a series of gruesome murders which have have been mysteriously plaguing the small town. When the policeman is called away to answer a phonecall, a scream is heard and the policeman rushes into the room to find that the man has plummeted to his death from the window leaving behind an ambiguous note which simply reads: "I'm sory Abby."(sic)

We are then transported 2 weeks into the past where we find a young boy sitting on a jungle gym chewing his favourite candy when he is suddenly called in to have dinner by his mother. The boy, whom we come to know as Owen (Kodi-Smit McPhee) is an unhappy boy. The picture we get of Owen's life appears dismal and bleak. His misery stems from having an alcoholic mother (whose face we never get to see) and an absent father, as his parents are probably going through a divorce or separation. Things get worse for Owen at school as he is constantly tormented and bullied by his seniors, leaving no room for joy or comfort in his increasingly meaningless existence.

Owen often fantasizes about taking revenge on his tormentors. Sometimes, he wears a scary mask and pretends to be a vicious bully like his tormentors. Other times, he uses a tree as a stand-in for his tormentors and stabs it with vigorous conviction. He also spends his time peering into his neighbours' apartments. One night, while spying, Owen sees new neighbours moving in. A young girl, walks barefoot in the snow, followed by a much older man whom Owen assumes to be her father. During one of Owen's reveries, a girl mysteriously approaches him, identifying herself as Abby (Chloe Moretz). Despite Abby's insistence that they can never be friends, they are inexplicably and unavoidably drawn to each other and the most meaningful relationship in Owen's life starts to unfold. Abby supports and encourages Owen to stand up to his tormentors and Owen in turn provides comfort for Abby, who always seems exhausted, sad and fragile.

Meanwhile, we are exposed to a brutal series of murders and a horrific secret is exposed. We see Abby's father stalking and killing a man, exsanguinating his body and storing his blood in a large plastic container. It becomes quite obvious to the audience what the blood is for when Abby's father is harsly reprimanded by a loud and montrous voice for spilling the blood. When a second attempt to secure blood from a particular unsuspecting victim goes awry and Abby's father gets involved in a car crash, he douses his face and hands with acid so as to preserve his identity and protect Abby. The story then merges into the present where dark and shocking secrets are revealed as we learn the true identities of Owen's mysterious neighbours. Abby and Owen's relationship continues to blossom. When Owen learns of Abby's secret, he becomes frightened, but he continues to protect Abby despite his fear that Abby might be evil. As the story draws to a close, Owen must choose whether to continue down a path of self-destruction or to sever all ties with the only person who has brought any meaning to his life.

I never thought that a horror movie, featuring a vampire could be chilling, compelling, touching and brutally tragic all at the same time. Most horror movies are plastered with blood and gore, and contain the most ridiculous plots. Let Me In shows that there is hope yet for the horror genre. Although bloody and gory scenes are present, they are always justified artistically. The success of this movie however, is mainly attributed to the acting talents of the two young leads. Chloe Moretz delivers a startling and flawless performance as a vampire who is living a conflicted and afflicted life. Her astounding portrayal as a vampire struggling to reconcile the sad, lonely and frail little girl who desperately craves for comfort and affection, with the blood-thirsty, brutal and savage creature when she needs to feed certainly deserves recognition and praise here. I was thoroughly impressed by her performance in Kick-Ass and it is evident from this performance that a promising future is in store for this young actress. Kodi Smit-McPhee was last seen in his performance as the son to the lead in the post-apocalyptic feature, The Road. McPhee was applauded by critics for his performance in The Road, but his performance in Let Me In garners him (in my opinion) the honour of being one of the most accomplished child actors today.

Director, Matt Reeves of Cloverfield manages to produce a movie which is well-crafted and shockingly tragic. A close to flawless execution makes Let Me In one of the best horror movies I have watched to date. Provocative, touching and highly emotional. If the movie had one flaw, it would be the use of CGI effects to heighten Abby's montrosity and savagery when she turns. The movie could have done better without them, though I understand Reeves' use of them to placate certain audiences. The cinematography and lighting tie in very well in conveying the eerie and desolate atmosphere of the cold, lonely and unaccepting world that Owen and Abby live in. A gem to the horror genre and an unforgettable cinematic experience for movie-goers who are not just looking for a good horror movie, but a good movie, period.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Buried

A review from a renowned critic on the movie Buried prompted me to read Edgar Allan Poe's short story on the subject of being buried alive entitled, "The Premature Burial." After having read his account, I began to have rather uneasy feelings and qualms about watching a movie which features this situation. The thought of being trapped in a coffin alive is certainly disturbing, not to say morbid. Not to be weak-minded and silly, I decided to proceed with my plans to watch this movie which I have been anticipating for a good two months since I watched the trailer.


Imagine waking up to pitch darkness and finding out that you are in a small enclosed place. You find it hard to breathe, you begin to gasp for air. After a while you begin to scream and move around desperately trying to get out. But no matter how much you struggle or how loud you scream, there is just no way out. You are trapped. This is the fate that befell Paul Conroy in the brilliant action thriller Buried which I was fortunate enough to catch in the cinema last weekend.

Minor Spoilers to Follow!!!

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is a U.S contractor working in Iraq. Paul wakes up to complete darkness and finds that he has difficulty breathing. After a while, he finds a lighter and realises that he is in a wooden box. He finds a cell phone and is awakened to the fact that he has been attacked and captured and is now being held hostage in a coffin. The unimaginable has happened: He has been buried alive.

It is difficult to imagine what is running through Paul Conroy's mind. The events that led to this horrifying reality? What is he going to do? Who can help to get him out of this desperate situation? Paul proceeds to call a whole list of people whom he thinks can get him out of his predicament. He calls the police, his wife, his employer's office and even the Pentagon. All these calls are exercises in futility as no one seems to be able to help him. Frustrated and drained of energy, Paul finally gets a call from his kidnapper demanding that his family pays a ransom of five million dollars for his release. Paul is also shown a video of one of his colleagues being executed when the demands of the kidnappers are not met as a foreshadowing of what is in store for him should he not agree to pay the ransom.

The rest of the movie focusses on Paul's deperate efforts to be rescued. His continuous efforts and desperation were at moments painful and heart-wrenching to watch. The other events which take place in the coffin are best left to the imagination for people who have yet to watch the movie. It is safe to say that the movie is indeed very realistic and every event that takes place in the coffin can certainly happen. The terror is real.

I know that some people may not appreciate this movie and some may even go on to say that it is shallow and empty. I thought it was brilliant. Unlike Hollywood productions which tend to depend on massive effects to entertain, Buried chooses to depend on the limited and still manages to capture its audiences' attention for a whole 94 minutes. This is attributed to the filmmaker's decision not to show any scenes of what goes on at the other end. There are no scenes showing the 911 operators, the employee in the Pentagon, Paul's wife and child or the kidnappers. There is no flashback of the attack and therefore no scenes of explosions or gunfire. By omitting those scenes, the audience gets to experience what Paul is going through. We are taken along on Paul's journey and we feel his frustration, agony and fear as like him, we also experience the desperate need to reach the other end.

There are a few aspects of the movie that I wish to draw attention to. I particularly loved the way the movie began. After the opening credits, the audience is left in silence and total darkness for a good two minutes before we are made aware that someone is breathing. This simple device slowly draws the audience into Paul's experience before he wakes up to the terrifying reality of his situation. Ryan Reynolds is best known for his role in the sitcom Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place and roles in romantic comedies such as The Proposal and Definitely, Maybe. I can say with conviction that he has certainly come a long way. This is the first dramatic role from this actor which I managed to catch and I must say I was pleasantly surprised as his performance was rather excellent given the limited space he had to work with. The range of emotions he managed to portray was genuine and convincing. This is indeed a breakthrough performance for Ryan Reynolds. I was also amazed at the amount of action which took place in the coffin. You would think that a movie which only features a man in a box would be anything but exciting. Buried triumphs and gives us so much more.

As for the ending, well, I won't give anything away, but let's just say that it ended just as it should have. This show is definitely not made for the faint-hearted and if you feel squeamish about coffins and are claustrophobic, you should give this a miss. As for me, I can say that there was not a single dull moment in Buried and the experience that it gave me was worth every cent. I certainly have no regrets.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Devil

2010 is suffering from a dearth of good movies. I remember a time when there were so many fantastic summer blockbusters that I couldn't keep up with the movies showing in the cinemas. This year, however, is different. In fact, I find it difficult this year to actually say that certain movies are good and worth the money I spent. Many of the 3D features were also very disappointing. With the exception of features such as Inception, the movies shown this year have nothing much going on for them.

Having not watched movies over the last few weekends, I was starved for my weekly dose of movies at the cinema. The latest feature I managed to catch last weekend is the feature entitled, Devil. Devil is M. Night Shyamalan's latest attempt to redeem his reputation as a film maker which has been ruined by features such as Signs, The Happening and from what I hear, The Last Airbender. Devil carries a simple, yet profound plot of the Devil's quest to earth to claim the morally wrong and (personally) escort them to hell.

I found the opening credits particularly interesting as the city was portrayed upside down, indicating that things are about to go really wrong and the natural order of things have been upset. The story begins with a suicide, which apparently opens the door for the devil to enter. Sent to investigate the case is Detective Bowen, who has recently lost his wife and child in a hit and run. While investigating the case, the story shifts to people in the building and focusses on five strangers in an elevator. The elevator suddenly gets stuck between floors and the people begin to panic while viewing each other with annoyance and distrust. The five people trapped in the elevator are: the mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green), the security guard (Bokeem Woodbine), the salesman (Geoffrey Arend), the old woman (Jenny O'Hara) and the young woman (Bojana Novakovic).

The group of people eventually get in touch with security guards (Matt Craven and Jacob Vargas) who can see them, but unfortunately are unable to hear them. The guards try to pacify the group and assure them that rescue is on the way. The people in the elevator begin to get impatient and quarrels and accusations ensue. Amidst this dire circumstances, things get worse when the power in the elevator becomes unstable, sometimes leaving the elevator in complete darkness. After several flashes, the young woman seems to have been injured by something. Then the situation escalates when people start dying one by one each time there is a blackout. The remaining survivors begin losing their minds and the guards watching the horrific events taking place in the elevator are also badly affected. Who the murderer is remains a mystery.

One of the guards, Ramirez, however, is convinced that this is the work of the Devil himself. He recounts tales his mother used to tell him when he was young about how the Devil would occasionally come down to earth himself to collect the souls of sinners. Witnessing the events in the elevator and pointing out an image of an evil face he saw in the elevator earlier on, Ramirez is even more convinced that this is indeed the Devil's work. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that all the people in the elevator have done deeds which are worthy of harsh punishment and it was not completely absurd that the Devil should want to claim them. The Devil is finally revealed when the last two remaining survivors battle it out in the elevator.

The twist at the end of the movie ties all the loose ends together and manages to deliver a profound message about forgiveness and repentance. All in all, a pretty decent movie, well-casted and carefully delivered. I guess M. Night Shyamalan managed to hit the mark this time. The visual effects used in the movie, though simple were rather effective and complemented the tension and panic rather effectively. I really liked the closing scene of the movie when all complications were resolved and the city is shown in its original upright and natural form, indicating that all is well and order has been restored. One thing is for sure though, I would definitely think twice about going for long rides in elevators with a bunch of strangers...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Repo Men

After a short glance at the synopsis of this movie, I decided to give it a shot. The plot seemed rather absurd, but having had rather good judgement of movies in the past, I was quite certain that this movie couldn't be all that bad. After all, the lead actors, Forest Whitaker and Jude Law have never failed to impress me in the past, so how bad could it be? I was however, sadly mistaken. The level of discomfort I felt while watching the movie was so immense that I actually thought of walking out of the cinema just 20 minutes into the movie.

Repo Men is set in the near future where organs are easily available to the public. This ideal situation however, comes at a large price as the as The Union (the sole company which engages in this business) encourages their desperately ill clients to take on exorbitant monthly installment plans, as the cost of an organ is extremely high. If clients fail to meet their monthly payments (as is usually the case), repo men will break into their houses, render them unconscious with a stun gun, cut them open and repossess their organ(s), leaving them for probable death. Repo men are of course under obligation to ask them if they need the assistance of an ambulance after they cut them open to repossess the organ(s). Isn't that considerate of them!

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play the lead characters, Remy and Jake. They are The Union's outstanding repo men and they work very well together repossessing organs in the most efficient manner. Remy and Jake answer to Frank (Liev Schriber) who is always satisfied with their job performance. The story takes a turn, however when Remy encounters marital problems as his wife finds his job no longer acceptable and wants him to switch to sales instead. Remy finally agrees to make the switch to save his marriage, much to Jake's detriment. Remy is persuaded into doing one last job before making the switch. Things go awry when Remy gets severely injured and ends up having an artificial heart. Remy's wife leaves him with their son and Remy continues to lead a meaningless existence working in sales (which he apparently sucks at).

Being in the same shoes as The Union's many unfortunate clients, Remy is forced to become a fugitive once his lease is up, finding protection in abandoned parts of the city. Remy meets a girl named Beth (Alice Braga) whom he says complements him as he has an artificial heart and she has an artificial...well, everything else, ranging from eyes, ears, knees, stomach, kidneys to God knows what else! They pair up eventually and decide to break into The Union to erase all their records and release themselves from their burdens. All doesn't go as planned and things end badly for Remy and Beth at the end of the movie.

I am not usually judgemental when it comes to movies, but I must say with plenty of conviction that this is by far one of the worst movies I have watched. It is pure indulgent nonsense as Simon Cowell (former judge of American Idol) would put it. I never would have guessed that the movie would be so poorly executed. The multiple violent, bloody and gory scenes were totally unjustified. It could have been a better movie if the focus had been on characters and emotions, rather than just mere slashing, shooting and cutting. The amount of blood, violence and gore was just mind-numbing. The movie should be a lesson in how movies should never be made. I came out of the theater with feelings of unease, disdain and disgust. Never have I found a movie so morally disturbing. The whole concept of repossessing organs itself seems highly and legally improbable. Furthermore, the movie portrays characters who seem to be devoid of human decency as they actually gather to chat and laugh about how their clients cry and beg for their lives. The movie is neither here nor there in its direction. It seems to be rather confused about where it wants to go. If it was meant to be a serious social commentary on healthcare, it has certainly missed the mark. As a pure action sci-fi thriller, I can surely say that it was not even remotely entertaining. Even the rather strong performances by Jude Law and Forest Whitaker were not enough to redeem this mess. On a final note, save your money for better things in life and don't even bother getting the DVD. Repo Men is one movie you can definitely live without watching. Believe me, you won't miss a thing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dessert at The Apartment

After having written multiple reviews on movies for this blog, I decided that I should write about something else for a change. As you can tell, I am obviously an avid fan of movies and television series. But for those of you who know me, you would know that I also have a penchant for expensive and rich food, especially desserts (who doesn't!)

As we had some extra time before our usual movie weekend escapade, my movie partner and I decided to stop by this place called The Apartment for dessert. The Apartment is a rather unusual restaurant which derives its concept from an actual apartment. The restaurant is divided into different sections of an apartment where you have a kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc. We were very pleased to be seated in the bedroom section where we could actually lie down on a soft mattress and pillows. It was really relaxing and refreshing.

Feeling awfully greedy that day, we decided to order two desserts! I must say that there were no regrets as both of them were simply spectacular.

















First to arrive was a dessert called Eton Mess. This dessert, which is aptly named may not be very pleasing to the eye, but it was certainly tantalizing to the taste buds. Imagine layers of soft fluffy cream upon layers of meringue, drizzled with strawberry sauce and chopped strawberries melting in your mouth. It was positively sinful, but simply delectable! We gobbled the whole thing up in a matter of minutes! Extremely satisfying to the last bite and left me asking for more.


Our second dessert was the Chocolate Pudding. Do not be deceived by the simplicity of the name of this dessert, for its taste far exceeds any expectations you may have. The chocolate pudding was warm, soft, aromatic, full of chocolatey goodness and just simply delightful. This awesome pudding was accompanied by a scoop of homemade vanila ice-cream which went extremely well with the pudding. A must-have for all chocolate lovers. You will not be disappointed.

Although these desserts were a little above our station, (amounting to RM40 for the both of us) it was worth every ringgit and it is nice to indulge in something sinful once in a while, isn't it? This will definitely not be my last visit to The Apartment for dessert!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I have been an avid follower of Disney movies and cartoons ever since I could remember. From classics like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella to musical features such as High School Musical and Enchanted, Disney has never failed to entertain me with its adventures and magic.

The story of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a re-telling inspired by the short cartoon tale, featuring Mickey Mouse which appeared in Disney's classical music celebration, Fantasia in 1940 and again in 1999.

The plot begins with the tale of Merlin and his three aprentices, Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage), Veronica (Monica Belucci) and Maxim Horvath (Afred Molina). Merlin is killed at the beginning of the movie while trying to protect his spell, "The Rising" from falling into the hands of the evil Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige). Apparently, this spell could lead to the enslavement of all mankind by the dead. (Which leads me to the question, why would Merlin even have such a spell to begin with? I wonder...) Anyway, before Morgana could get away with the spell, two of Merlin's apprentices arrive just in time to stop her. As it is narrated in the beginning, Merlin should have trusted only two of his apprentices as he was betrayed by Horvath, the third apprentice who chooses to help Morgana to acquire the spell. While trying to stop Morgana from killing Balthazar, Veronica draws Morgana's soul into her own body, but before Morgana could kill Veronica from the inside, Belthazar traps both their souls inside an inescapable magic vessel known as the Grimhold. Before he dies, Merlin entrusts Belthazar with his ring and makes him promise to seek for a boy who will be known as "The Prime Merlinian". This boy will inherit Merlin's powers and with it be able to destroy Morgana once and for all.

Thousands of years pass by, and Balthazar keeps his promise to look for the boy all the while trapping the souls of Morgana's evil followers, including Horvath in the Grimhold. As fate would have it, "The Prime Merlinian" finds his way into Balthazar's antique store. "The Prime Merlinian", also known as Dave Sutler is portrayed by Jake Cherry (whose acting skills have not improved since his performance in Night of The Museum 2). Through a series of coincidences, Dave walks into Balthazar's store looking for a piece of paper. It is there that Balthazar discovers that Dave is the one he is looking for. After specifically instructing Dave not to touch anything while he goes to search for something, Balthazar returns to discover that Harvath has been released from the vessel. After a battle, Balthazar and Horvath are trapped in an urn for the next 10 years while Dave, having witnessed the bizarre battle and its outcome, is forced to undergo theraphy after having what is deemed as a mental breakdown.

The years roll by and Dave (now portrayed by Jay Baruchel) has now grown into an awkward 20-year old college student just trying to live his life after the traumatic events in his childhood. He bumps into his former love interest, Becky (Teressa Palmer) and tries his best to impress her and she seems to have rather positive responses towards his advances. Meanwhile, Balthazar and Horvath are released from the urn and Balthazar proceeds with his quest to find Dave and fulfil his mission to kill Morgana. After finally deciding that he wants to be Belthazar's apprentice, Dave goes through a series of training sessions where he learns how to use his powers. His relationship with Becky however, is put on hold as Dave continues to hide his secret from her. The story carries on, leading to the ultimate event of "The Rising" where Morgana and Veronica are finally released. There are no surpises as to how the story ends. As in all Disney features, everybody (well, with the exception of the villains) lives happily ever after. The guy gets the girl, old lovers reunite, good is restored and evil is vanquished.

A rather entertaining flick, with a good number of laughs and delightful moments in numerous scenes. Look out for the scene where Dave tries to use his powers to tidy up the house. Besides being a direct reference to the Disney classic it was based on, it also reminds me of a scene in Sleeping Beauty when Merryweather uses magic to tidy up the house. Also keep an ear out for Molina's lines which are witty and amusing in several scenes. Monica Belucci was gorgeous as the kind-hearted and sweet Veronica who would sacrifice herself for the man she loves. As for the other performances, they were mediocre at best. Jay Baruchel is convincing enough as the awkward nerd who is just well, plain awkward in every way and Cage's performance was...well, lets just say that he was there. The CGI effects were awesome enough for a Disney feature such as this. An enjoyable and a fun movie for audiences of all ages.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Salt

I arrived at the cinema just in time for this show. I was not expecting much as the reviews and ratings for this movie were not favourable. I must say that the action sequences and the stunts portrayed in this movie are commendable indeed which is more than I can say for the plot. Jolie must have really trained herself for the stunts in the movie (if indeed the stunts were performed by her). They were remarkable and the explosions and chase-scenes were also exciting and entertaining enough. The plot however is weak and lacks clarity. This is coupled with an ending which is so abrupt that you will never see it coming.


SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!


The movie opens with a scene of CIA agent, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) being tortured for information by North Korean soldiers who accuse her of being a US spy. Salt denies these allegations and to her detriment continues to be brutally tortured. It is not until later that she is released through an exchange with an elderly Korean man. We also learn that the person responsible for her release is Mike Krause (August Diehl) and not the CIA agent who escorts her in her release, Ted Winters (Liev Schriber). We later learn that this is the event which leeds to the marriage union of Mike and Evelyn.

Some time has passed and Evelyn is back in the US safe and sound with her husband. All seems well, as she continues to work as a CIA agent who masquerades as an employee in a petroleum company. Everything seems routine and ordinary until a man called Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) enters offering vital information to the CIA about Russian sleeper agents who could possibly destroy America. Salt is sent in to conduct what seems like a routine interrogation. All hell breaks loose when he claims (in a rather convoluted flashback) that Salt is in fact a Russian spy and that she is scheduled to execute the Russian President when he comes to the US for the funeral of the Vice President. Salt denies having any knowledge of this and bolts, proclaiming her innocence all the way. When Salt is finally caught in connection to the assasination of the Russian President, she is taken into police custody. After a series of double crosses, triple crosses, and quadruple crosses, Salt actually emerges as one of the good gals who vows at the end of the movie to eliminate the bad guys from the face of the earth. This leaves the ending of the movie with plenty of room for multiple sequels, and even the creation of a series.

It is safe to surmise from the rather absurd plot and the sheer amount of twists and turns that Salt is an action feature only made for pure entertainment and nothing else. If you are looking for depth and a good movie plot to go along with the spectacular action sequences and kick-ass stunts, you will leave the cinema feeling sadly disappointed. A must-watch, however for fans of Jolie whom I think did a pretty good job as the fugitive who will fight to the death in the name of justice.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Despicable Me


I first came across this particular feature when I saw the movie poster in the cinema after one of my movie weekend escapades. I remember asking my movie partner what those cute little yellow things in the poster were. Neither of us knew that they were actually genetically modified corn pops! (which apparently is a breakfast cereal...never expected that!) My curiosity about the animated feature grew, but I did not manage to feed it due to my daily obligations.

My next encounter with this feature was during another trip to the cinema about a few weeks later when I managed to catch the trailer to the movie. In the trailer, we are introduced to Gru (Steve Carell), the so-called protagonist of the movie. Gru is portrayed as this really unpleasant guy who would give a kid a balloon only to have the pleasure of popping it the very next minute. However, my curiosity about those cute little yelllow dudes was still not sated.

BE WARNED! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to arrive at the cinema in time to catch the beginning of the movie (This rarely happens, mind you). I was told that the beginning of the movie featured the theft of the pyramid and scenes of the three little orphans trying to sell cookies to Gru. It was when the three orphans were being reprimanded in the orphanage that my movie partner and I walked in. We are introduced to the three orphans, whose names are Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). The three little girls are being reprimanded for not selling enough cookies. I took an instant liking to the three girls; Margo the responsible and caring eldest sister; Edith, the mischevious and bright tomboy and of course Agnes, the bright-eyed cutie whom would melt anyone's heart.

The focus then shifts to Gru and his master plan. Gru is portrayed as a man who is desperate to be the world's greatest villain due to his mother's (Julie Andrews) low opinion of him. Gru is often tortured by flashes from the past where his mother belittles his achievements, however monumental they may be to him. It is with this that Gru is determined to design a master plan which would deem him the greatest villain of all time; a plan which would finally make his mother proud of him; a plan to steal the moon...yes, the moon! A project as gigantic as this has to come, of course, with the proper funding, which Gru hopes to continuously obtain from the Bank of Evil (formerly knowns as Lehman Brothers). It is there that Gru crosses paths with Vector, (Jason Segel) who attempts to befriend Gru, but Gru keeps his distance. Gru gets in to see Mr Perkins (Will Arnett), the bank manager and he promises to continue funding Gru's project with the condition that Gru can grant him some assurance of his of success, mainly by stealing a shrink-ray gun which is essential in his ultimate capture of the moon.

Gru manages to steal the shrink-ray gun (which awesome powers are demonstrated in an earlier scene with the shrinking of an elephant - a very cute scene by the way) from a secret lab with the help of his little minions (the little yellow dudes). However, Gru's plan to use the gun to steal the moon is quickly thwarted by Vector when he swiftly and cunningly steals the gun from Gru. Gru tries to penetrate Vector's fortress to retrieve the gun, but Vector's security measures simply prove to be too much for poor Gru. When Gru is just about to admit defeat, he sees three little girls easily gaining access into Vector's residence as Vector is apparently a sucker for cookies (especially coconutties). The light bulb comes on and Gru immediately decides to adopt the girls simply to gain access into Vector's home and recover the shrink-ray gun.

The girls jump for joy when they receive the news that they are to be adopted. Expecting to meet a beautiful mother and a kind father, the girls are surely in for a big surprise. Hovering over them is the tall figure of Gru which the girls, at first view with awe and fear. But soon after, sweet little Agnes innocently jumps onto Gru's leg, hugs it and refuses to let go. He proceeds to take them home with Agnes still hanging on to his leg (She is simply adorable and reminds me so much of the little girl, Boo in Monsters Inc.). Gru does not have a clue what little girls need and proceeds to treat them with indifference. Gru's plan to retrieve the shrink-ray gun is realised with the help of the girls and of course the little yellow dudes (they are just so cute and are responsible for most of the laughter in the feature). After getting what he wants, Gru passes an amusement park and another lightbulb comes on as Gru plans to rid himself of the girls. But as convention would have it, instead of abandoning them, Gru starts to bond with the girls and they actually have a great time together at the amusent park (where Gru manages to win a soft toy unicorn for Agnes, which according to Agnes is just so fluffy!!!).

As Gru grows attached to the girls, he starts to neglect his master plan much to the dissatisfaction of his resident mad scientist, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), who thinks that the girls are too much of a distraction. Much to Gru's detriment, Dr Nefario decides to take matters into his own hands by sending the girls back to the orphanage leaving both parties heart-broken. Gru decides to execute his plan and actually manages to steal the moon. His success is short-lived however, when Vector proceeds to kidnap the girls and demands that Gru surrenders the moon in exchange for the girls. Gru of course agrees and although many more challenges await him when Vector decides to go back on his word, Gru emerges victorious, saves the day and everyone lives happily ever after.

I have to say that for a first production from Illumination Entertainment, Despicable Me has managed to surpass many productions, even those from other major animation studios of today. It is simply delightful and purely entertaining. Never have I enjoyed watching an animated feature so much this summer (including the likes of Shrek Forever After). Refreshing and unique in its concept, it manages to draw the audience in with its dialogue, a unique and refreshing protagonist (don't think I have seen anyone who wants to be a super-villain so badly and failing so miserably), its slapstick humour (mainly contributed by the little yellow dudes - whose origin I still did not know of when I left the cinema) and not to mention the Russian-ish accent which Steve Carell manages to pull of with such humour and conviction. I highly recommend this feature to anyone who is looking for a good laugh or even many many good laughs for that matter. This is one feature which will keep you rolling and asking for more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yun Niang

I never thought I would ever return to watching Mandarin series. When I was in primary school, I was absolutely crazy about Mandarin series. I remember my frequent visits to the video store to rent any Mandarin series I could get my hands on. One of the most memorable series I have watched is entitled "Liu Ge Mong" which when translated means "Six Dreams." The series is divided into 6 different stories which portray women as the protagonists. They show how women are treated in the olden days in China. These women protagonists are often forced into loveless marriages, tortured by their mothers-in-law, and have to go against all odds to find their true selves and happiness.

I was extremely bored the other day and I decided to walk into a DVD shop. I browsed through the collection of DVDs and I happened to stumble upon a series entitled, "Yun Niang." The first thing I will always look at when deciding to buy or watch a series is the actors. I found the female protagonist very pretty and of course the male protagonist fairly presentable. I also saw a familiar face. It was the actress who acted in quite a number of stories in the "Six Dreams" series. It was then that I decided to purchase the box set. And I must say that I definitely made the right choice.

Being a Mandarin series set in olden China, I expected a lot of tragic events to take place and a lot of tears to be shed, and I was right. But melodrama and tragedy aside, Yun Niang is a really good series. I love the actress (Ady An) who plays the title role. I have never seen her act before, so she is obviously a fairly new actress. Her performance as the sweet, gentle and kind-hearted Yun Niang is to be applauded. Having no idea that she does not really belong to her parents, Yun Er (as they call her) grew up poor and had to work hard for a living. She lives with her adopted parents, her retarded half-sister and her father's student ( a guy who is head over heels in love with her and is willing to do almost anything to make her happy). However, Yun Er falls in love with a rich man's son, Hao Chung (William Feng) and after many challenges and trials, they finally come together and get married. She loves her husband but from the first day of her marriage to him, her mother-in-law seems to hate her and immediately proceeds to torture her verbally. She does not understand what she has done wrong.

The secret that Yun Niang is not aware of is that she has actually married into her own family! Her father-in-law is none other than her biological father and her mother-in-law is her stepmother. We find out from the beginning of the series that Hao Chung is not the biological son of his parents, therefore there is no incest involved! Phew!!! Anyway, to cut a long story short, after discovering her true identity, Yun Niang is reunited with her father in the most touching scene in the series. Her stepmother/ mother-in-law has to suffer the consequences of her evil and deceitful actions towards Yun Niang and Yun Niang is finally reunited with her true love, Hao Chung at the end of the series.

The series was rather long, but I did not find many boring scenes in it. I enjoyed all 32 episodes and would recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of the "Six Dreams" series and other Mandarin series. Watching Yun Niang get her happy ending was most satisfying indeed!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knight and Day

I have been looking forward to this feature ever since I watched the trailer about 2 months back. It looked like an action comedy/ adventure which I would probably enjoy. After a long wait and much anticipation, I was not in the least bit disappointed. Knight and Day proved to be every bit as exciting and entertaining as I imagined it would be.

I have always been a fan of Cameron Diaz, especially after having watched her comedic roles in movies such as, There's Something About Mary and of course Charlie's Angels. I find her portrayal of the characters in these movies, refreshing, energetic and vibrant. She exudes personality and breathes life so naturally into these roles that one cannot help but be captivated by her charms. As for Tom Cruise, I used to be a fan of his for a very long time. In fact, when I was in high school, I rented all his movies just to salivate at his good looks. I realise now that, good looks aside, he is not much of a dramatic actor and perhaps his switch to comedic roles in the later part of his life may be his best career move yet. I must admit that I was very much amused and entertained by his character in this movie and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. He seems to appear cool and calculated in the most dire and dangerous situations in the movie.

Diaz portrays June Havens who is flying to Boston to attend her sister's wedding. She is spotted by Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) and he arranges to bump into her a few times. After a series of coincidences, they end up on the same and oddly fairly empty plane. The two start a conversation and get rather flirty with each other when June decides to go to the washroom to freshen up. Unbeknownst to her, Roy is being ambushed by everyone on the flight and he manages to kill every one of them, including the pilot. After June returns from the washroom, she is drugged by Roy and wakes up in her own bedroom. Before Roy drugs her, she is told not to trust anyone who says that they want to protect her and under no circumstances is she to get into any vehicles.

After a series of events, as expected, June is forced to enter a vehicle and is taken into protective custody. Roy comes to her rescue, despite her reluctance to trust him and the two continue to battle dangerous people, powerful weapons and multiple explosions in their fight for survival. Romance blossoms on their adventure together, and in the end the two find that they have no one else to trust but each other.

It has been quite some time since I have watched a decent action adventure which is simple, light-hearted and does not require any deep thought. Most action features nowadays are wrought with convoluted storylines and complicated characters which deter people from enjoying them for what they truly should be. Some examples of disasterous action features I have watched lately are, The A-Team and The Losers. Both these movies are examples of how action-comedies should not be made. Both of them portrayed shallow character explorations, weak and complicated plots and rather forgettable performances.

I thoroughly enjoyed Knight and Day and would recommend it to anyone who is just looking for a fun and enjoyable time at the movies.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Frozen

Chilling, intense and terrifying are some of the words I encountered when I read reviews on the movie, Frozen. Frozen is about a trio who are stranded on a chairlift at a ski resort. After the characters realise that they are trapped 50 feet in the air, with no obvious means of escape, they find that they have to make life or death decisions which prove to be more dangerous than just staying put and freezing to death. When I watched Frozen, I was reminded of features such as Open Water and Black Water which both focus on characters who are stranded at a remote location and have to make dangerous decisions in their fight for survival.

As always, in features such as these, we expect to see people dying in rather horrifying and tragic ways. Frozen was no different, but nothing prepared me for the shocking tragic outcome that befell these characters. It was a rather decent movie which managed to keep me on the edge of my seat and I have to admit that there were quite a few scenes which were cringe-worthy. The movie was rather short, with a runtime of 94 minutes, but I found that I really grew to like the three characters featured in the movie and I wanted badly for them to survive the terrible ordeal that they had to go through. I felt for them when they expressed sorrow and desperation and at their dire situation. There were certainly many heartbreaking and horrifiying moments in Frozen and I came out from the cinema feeling rather depressed and somewhat mentally drained.



MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!

The movie begins with the three characters trying to get free tickets to go skiing. The characters are Dan Walker (Kevin Zeggers), his girlfriend, Parker O'Neil (Emma Bell) and Dan's best friend, Joe Lynch (Shawn Ashmore). After Parker manages to use her feminine wiles to get the free tickets, they end up spending most of their time on the bunny slope teaching Parker how to ski rather than doing any actual skiing as Parker is an amateur at skiing. The resentment felt by Joe towards Parker's presence is fairly obvious as the trio has an awkward conversation about Parker hindering them from their usual "guy time" together. It is then that Joe and Dan consider going back on the real slopes to do some last minute skiing before the resort closes. This is a really bad idea. What follows is horrifying, brutal and tragically devastating.


On their way to the ski slopes, the chairlift suddenly stops moving. Thinking that it is just a glitch, Dan starts a very ironic conversation about the worst ways one can die and mentions that the worst thing is knowing that death is staring at you right in the face and you know it's coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it. When the lights at the resort begin to disappear one by one, fear, sorrow and panic ensue. The characters have a tough time deciding what to do, when Dan comes up with the "brilliant" idea of jumping to the ground from the chairlift. Joe and Parker try their best to persuade him to stay, but he is defiant and insists that he can pull it off. Of course, to his detriment, his actions result in dire consequences as he breaks both his legs when he lands on the ground. To make matters worse, Dan's injury attracts a pack of wolves and Dan's worst fears of staring death in the face are realised in the first quarter of the movie.

Joe and Parker are left on the chairlift after the shocking and horrible death of a boyfriend and a beloved best friend. They start to blame each other for Dan's death, but after the blaming game, they come to terms with the situation and are made aware that they only have each other. The two form a bond as they talk about Dan with fondness. After some time, Joe decides to make an attempt to use the other chairlift to get to a pole where there is a ladder. After succeeding in his attempt to reach the ground, he manages to get hold of a ski pole in hopes of warding away the pack of wolves should they return. The last we see of Joe is in a scene of him running down the hill with two wolves chasing him.

Parker is left to fend for herself. Strong and determined to survive, she tries to find a way to get to the ground. Luckily for her, the chairlift comes loose and cushions her fall and she lands on the ground without any major injuries. She manages to slide down the mountain only to follow a trail of blood leading to none other than Joe's body (or what's left of his body). The wolves are happily enjoying their "meal" when one of them spots her and gets close to her. In a fortunate turn of events, the wolves decide to leave her and she manages to escape. She is then saved by a driver in a passing car.

My thoughts on Frozen...

I must say that Frozen left quite an impression on me. I really felt for Parker, Joe and Dan. It was heart-wrenching when Dan asked Joe to cover Parker's ears so as not to let her hear his screams of anguish as the wolves tore him apart. After the devastation and the horror of Dan's death, the two characters who obviously dislike each have to depend on each other for comfort, solace and survival. And after losing Joe, I was amazed at Parker's determination for survival. The performances of all the characters (well, all three of them) deserve a mention as they are the ones who made the movie what it is. As the plot of the movie is nothing new, the characters managed to breathe new life into a common plot and made it more than just a plain survival movie.

Unlike the other two movies mentioned earlier, I really cared for Dan, Joe and Parker and felt their pain and desperation at many points of the movie. I was filled with fear and anticipation for the characters through every step of their journey and I came out of the cinema with a horrible feeling having watched their tragic outcome from a merely innocent ski trip. I wouldn't write Frozen off as a masterpiece and it's safe to say that it will probably be forgotten soon. But I will always remember the impact the characters had on me and the sadness I felt when each of them did not make it. Most of all, I will remember Frozen as the movie where the major characters were actually eaten by wolves!!!!!!! I have never imagined that such a horrible thing was possible and that will certainly stay with me for a long, long time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Getting Over the Loss of LOST

Being an avid fan of television series, I tend to get rather emotional and silly when it comes to series finales. Over the years, I have watched a lot of television series and sitcoms (I really mean a lot!) and I always get these very sad feelings when one of them comes to an end. I took some time to get over the loss of the sitcom, Friends and another favourite of mine, Will and Grace. But I think it will take me months, or maybe even years to get over the loss of what I would describe as the greatest series in television history and maybe even of all time, LOST.

WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD! (If you have not watched the series finale of LOST, please stop reading now!)

Aptly titled, LOST is a series that you can truly get lost in. Spanning 6 seasons and 121 episodes, LOST is a series that will excite, amaze, touch and also confuse and change the lives and perspectives of TV viewers for ages to come. The opening scene in the series already has a lot to say. It begins by focussing on the protagonist, Jack (brilliantly portrayed by Matthew Fox) The camera focusses on Jack's left eye, when it suddenly opens. This opening scene is greatly significant in the series as it signals the true beginning of Jack's life. Little did he know, the events and people he will encounter will change his life forever. Jack soon realises and discovers that his plane had crashed and he immediately steps up to the role of the leader and the saviour for the survivors who were on board Flight Oceanic 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles.

It is going to be a long and arduous journey for Jack and the rest of the survivors as along with the shock and the horror of the plane crash, they soon discover that the island that they have landed on contains many mysteries and horrors of its own. The most memorable season for me was season 1, where the audience is given an insight into the lives and secrets of the survivors. Every prominent character on LOST has deep and dark secrets that are revealed to us through multiple flashbacks.


Review and Opinions of Prominent Characters in LOST ( I am only focusing on characters whom I like)

Jack Shepard
From the opening scene in LOST, Jack (Matthew Fox) appears to be a survivor in every sense of the word and an individual who can never do wrong. He immediately rushes to the aid of the other survivors and is very quickly bestowed the "hero" status on the island. He is the leader whom people listen to and being a doctor, he manages to save many lives and is liked by many. But as we delve deeper into Jack's past, we discover that like many other heroes, Jack Shepard is flawed and is far from perfect. We are given an insight into Jack's past and his many unresolved issues with his ex-wife and his father, Christian Shepard (John Terry). In several flashbacks, we get to know that Jack's father is ...well, how shall I say it...not a very nice man. We can see that he is tough with Jack and always gives him a hard time, despite the fact that Jack is supposed to be a prominent and respected neurosurgeon.
We also get to know that Jack's marriage was not successful due to the fact that it was more a marriage of gratitude and obligation rather than love as Jack's wife only married him because he performed a successful surgery on her. Although flawed and broken by his troubled past, Jack Shepard is the epitome of everything that is good and pure about being human. Despite dealing with a bitter childhood, a failed marriage, and a controlling and at times, unbearable father, Jack never ceases to amaze me with his selfless and generous nature right up to the very final moments of the series. Jack Shepard has given me some of the most memorable moments on LOST, especially in the series finale, which I will get to in the later part of this post.

Kate Austen
Mystery surrounds the character of Kate Austen (Evageline Lily) right from the beginning of the series. In the pilot, Kate arrouses our interest when we begin to suspect that she is the prisoner who was being transported by a policeman on the flight. We are then exposed to her dark past and to the fact that she murdered her violent and abusive stepfather. Kate is therefore portrayed as a murderer and although I do not condone her actions, I can't help but favour her character and feel sorry for her. The chemistry between Kate and Jack is clear right from the very beginning when she helps Jack to stitch up his wound as he could not reach it. Romance soon ensues on the island for Kate and Jack, however, it soon turns into a love triangle when Sawyer (Josh Holloway) enters the picture. I will save the ending of the love triangle for my discussion on the finale.

James "Sawyer" Ford
Now there's a character for you! At first sight, Sawyer (Josh Holloway) seems to be this cynical and sarcastic jerk whom nobody likes or respects. When he first appears, I cannot help but think of him as a foil to the character of Jack Shepard. Arrogant and rude, I found it difficult to tolerate Sawyer's character. Like Kate, life was very unkind to Sawyer. This is also revealed through flashbacks and we discover that Sawyer also had a rotten childhood due to the demise of his parents when he was very young. The life of a criminal soon found Sawyer as his actions bring him further down the path of self destruction and ruin. Out of all the characters on LOST, I think that Sawyer is the character who has grown the most. We can see him changing with every encounter and learning with every experience how to become a better person. From a ("son of a bitch") rogue to a decent and caring human being who knows how to love, respect and honour others, Sawyer has certainly come a long way.

John Locke
John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) is my second favourite character in LOST. Distanced from the other characters, we notice that Locke is a truly different, refreshing and unique character. In the pilot, we see Locke savouring being out in the open and really appreciating nature in it rawest form. In a scene from the pilot, we see Locke enjoying being in the rain while others scurry for shelter. He exudes a confidence and exuberance that is unusual for a man who has gone through such horrowing experiences. Through the flashbacks, we slowly learn of Locke's past. The shocking events and revelation about Locke's encounters with his father and what happened to him before and after the crash sent chills down my spine.
We learn that Locke's father had tricked him into giving him one of his kidneys and to top it off threw his son out of the hospital window leaving him paralysed from the waist down. This brings us to the events right after the crash in which we learn that Locke regains his ability to walk only after the crash on the island. With this revelation, the powers possesed by the island become clear to us. Locke believes that he has been given a second chance at life and puts his faith in the island, believing that it will be the place that holds the key to his happiness. His insistance for the survivors to remain on the island often clashes with Jack's dilligent efforts to get the survivors off the island. Locke also battles with Jack for the role of the leader. The outcome of the battle of which will also only be revealed in the later part of this post.

Hugo"Hurley" Reyes
"Everybody loves Hugo." It is time to talk about the "dude!" How can anyone not love Hugo (Jorge Garcia). Better known as Hurley on the show, Hurley reminds me of a big cuddly teddy bear which can only bring comfort and warmth to everyone around him. Hurley immediately bonds with Jack in the pilot and is quick to become Jack's right hand man. He is always there to lend assistance and support and is nothing but a really nice and sweet guy. In the flashbacks, we learn that Hurley was a lottery ticket winner and was a millionaire. We also get to know that bad luck has followed Hurley ever since he won the lottery which leads him to believe that everyone around him will not have a good ending. Being the most realiable character in the series, it is not difficult to guess that greater things are in store for Hurley's character.

Jin Kwon and Sun Kwon
The Korean couple Jin Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim) appear as prominent characters in the pilot. We can see in the beginning that all is not well for the couple when Jin does nothing but control his wife's actions and berates her at every opportunity he gets. My first impression of Jin was that he was a male chauvinist who views his wife as nothing but property. His protective nature seems to stem from frustration and anger rather than love and tenderness. Sun on the other hand gave me the impression of a fragile and submissive wife who is afraid of her husband and dares not do anything to go against him, but my view of her changes even in the pilot itself when she defiantly does something that her husband had strictly instructed her not to. As with all the characters, they too have deep and dark secrets.
Through the flashbacks we get to know that Jin actually loves Sun very deeply and had sacrificed so much just to be with her. Sun's father did not agree to the match as Jin came from a poor family. Jin was forced to perform many illegal and dangerous tasks in order to gain his father-in-law's respect and approval. Sun also had secrets hidden from Jin, like her ability to speak English and her affair with another man. Jin and Sun are characters who have also grown a lot throughout the duration of the series, next to the character of Sawyer. Through many trials and separations on the island, the couple finally realise how much love and respect they have for each other.

THE END OF LOST

I can't begin to express my feelings after having watched the finale of LOST. For the last six years I have been through one of the most exciting, amazing, shocking, thrilling and yet at times rather confusing rides in my life. I know that many people will probably deem me insane, but I cannot even begin to express what LOST means to me. The finale of LOST is firmly embedded in my mind and will remain there for a long long time to come. I have watched and re-watched the finale. I have pondered and shed many tears after watching all the touching and endearing moments when the characters reunite and remember their lives together in the finale.
I know that many would say that I am crazy, but LOST has really taught me a lot. I have learned so many valuable lessons from the show that I will always take with me. I have learned about true and enduring love, the relationships between loved ones and spouses, about life, fate and destiny, but most of all I've have learned about forgiveness and reconciliation. Life can give us a bad deal, but it is the people in our lives who matter most. They shape us and change us and make us realise who we can become when we are with them and make us better human beings.

The night had finally come to say goodbye to LOST forever. The finale reveals that LOST is all about the characters. Just as the first season introduces us to the characters, their beginnings and conflicts, the finale of the series ends and resolves their conflicts and closes the show with the most thoughful, provocative and touching ending in television history. Although many viewers along with myself, certainly did get lost in Seasons 3 and 4 as many new characters entered the series rendering it complex, unfocussed and extremely convoluted. Season 5 and the last season of LOST, Season 6 finally settled on making the series all about the prominent characters in the show. I have followed these characters from their pasts and their time on the island where I have grown to care and identify with them.

Season 5 ended with a big bang as a hydrogen bomb exploded. The bomb was intended to reverse the event of the crash of Oceanic 815 and allow the passengers to land safely in Los Angeles. Season 6 begins with events that take place after the bomb exploded. Far from reversing the event of the crash, the explosion of the bomb resulted in the existence of an alternate reality, which the LOST writers choose to call, the "flashsideways," which further complicates the plot.
In the flashsideways, we see all the prominent characters leading very different, albeit better lives. In the flashsideways, the plane never crashed, but instead landed safely in Los Angeles as scheduled. The characters continue to go their separate ways after the plane landed and manage to lead much better lives. The audience is then suddenly brought back to the harsh realities on the island where nothing changes for the characters when they realise that the explosion did not reverse any events and they are left to continue surviving on the island. The devastation at the failure of the plan and the death of of one of the major characters on the island tear the characters further apart. The final season of LOST alternates between the scenes from the dire situation on the island and the other, well, not exactly perfect but better situation in the flashsideways.

The audience have no idea what is in store for them and how the two realities are going to work out. The revelation in the series finale of what these "flashsideways" are marks the genius of the writers of LOST when the audience is made aware that they are none other than flashes from the after-lives of all the major characters. The major characters have actually created a place where they can meet before, as Christian Shepard puts it, "moving on." There was a lot of speculation as to the meaning of the series and as to whether the events following the plane crash really happened. Many speculated that all the events on LOST were just dreams of certain major characters. Some even went as far as to speculate that all the events were actually part of Vincent's dream (Vincent is a dog which belongs to one of the characters in the series). The last 5 minutes of LOST reiterates to the audience that all the events are indeed real and that all the characters do indeed exist.
In the preceeding episodes leading up to the finale. We finally discover that a long long time ago, a pregnant woman had landed on the island. She encounters another woman on the island who then assists her in the birth of her children. After the babies are safely delivered, in a shocking turn of events, the woman on the island kills the birth mother and brings up the two children as her own. The birth mother manages to name one of the children, Jacob, but before she manages to name the other, her life is suddenly and cruelly ended. The children grow up on the island and we later get to know that the woman has been the keeper of this island and is actually protecting a sacred place which is supposed to be responsible for the source of life. Although she favoured the other child, who by the way was never named, she handed the responsibility of the keeper of the island over to Jacob. In an ensuing fight between Jacob and his brother, his brother gets turned into this evil black smoke which provides the basis for the story of the ultimate battle between good and evil.
We also learn earlier in the show that the prominent characters on LOST have been chosen as candidates for the keeper of the island by Jacob which explains their survival of the crash and their continued stay and return to the island. The finale, as mentioned earlier on comes down to the battle between good, which is represented by, none other than our "hero" Jack Shepard who is given the role of the keeper by Jacob after his death and the evil black smoke which has now taken shape in the body of John Locke, who was killed earlier in the show by Ben (Michael Emerson). As the situation gets more desperate on the island as the black smoke insists on destroying the island and along with it, the source of life, the characters in the alternate reality begin to reunite and the two realities seem to be colliding
In the ultimate battle, Locke (evil black smoke) finally gets killed, but Jack gets seriously injured in the battle. The prominent characters now left on the island are, Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Ben, Kate and Claire. Jack wants to stay on the island to repair the damage that Locke had caused and Ben and Hurley decide to stay with him. Claire, Sawyer and Kate decide to make an attempt to get off the island. As Kate and Jack say goodbye and share their final kiss, we realise, as do they that they belong together though they both know that they will probably never meet again. As the three characters make their way to escape, Jack realises his destiny and mission on the island; to restore the source of life which was forcibly dislodged by Locke. Jack also realises that he is not going to survive and in turn gives the responsibility of the keeper of the island to Hurley who then asks Ben for assistance to guard the island and the both of them become its protectors.

Kate and Sawyer attempting to get off the island.
In the alternate reality, all the characters, with the exception of Jack, realise that they are in the after-life and that they have somewhere to go. As Jack begins his process towards realisation in the after-life, Jack on the island begins his journey to his ultimate demise. Fully aware that he is not going to survive, Jack makes his way among the bamboo fields to coincidentally, the spot where he first opened his eyes in the opening scene of the series. In the after-life, Jack is taken to a church by Kate and is told to enter from the back of the church. Jack finds his father's coffin and opens it only to discover that there is no body in the coffin. After closing the coffin, Jack hears a familiar voice and is shocked to see his father standing right before his eyes. In an extremely touching scene between Jack and his father, Jack realises that he is dead, and that all the events that had happened to him are indeed real and the people that he got close to on the island are real and have created this place in their after-lives to meet again before moving on. Watching all the characters meet again and the bliss and pure joy on their faces at seeing each other again sent tears flowing down my cheeks.


The characters of LOST reunite in the church where Jack intended to hold his father's funeral.


As they embark on their next journey into the after-life, we get flashes of Jack slowly walking towards his death on the island. After Jack finally collapses, he is surprised and happy to see Vincent, one of the character's dog which also appeared in the pilot after Jack opened his eyes. Vincent lies down next to Jack as he dies.
Jack and Vincent during the final moments of Jack's life.
As Jack smiles hand in hand with Kate to cross over and move on, the scene fades to white in the after-life. Back on the island, Jack smiles at the sight of the plane leaving the island with Claire, Kate and Sawyer on board and in the final scene of the series closes his eyes and leaves the world forever.

The cast of LOST gather to move on together.
Emotionally spent and mentally drained are apt phrases to use after a startling and beautiful ending to a series that I have looked forward to watching every Wednesday night. I shall miss LOST in the days to come and along with it all the anticipation, excitement and pure bliss I have experienced each time the letters LOST appear on the television screen. I have to say goodbye to the many new mysteries and shocking events which are revealed every week, the many surprises, twists and turns, the flashbacks and flashsideways which never fail to amaze, entertain and excite. However, what I will miss most are the characters of LOST. All the prominent characters mentioned above whom I have grown to love and care for will forever be missed and remembered with fondness and smiles. Brilliantly and beautifully performed by spectacular actors, the cast of LOST have certainly outdone themselves. Hats off to the actors and actresses who have managed to portray their roles with such conviction and credibility.

The cast of LOST.
LOST has been a part of my life for 6 beautiful and unforgettable years. I gather that there will never again be another series which will affect the lives and thoughts of audiences around the world as LOST has. Goodbye and thank you LOST. Getting over the loss of LOST will be a very difficult task indeed!

The Beginning

Hello everyone! I never thought I could ever be one of those people who actually blog about stuff. I am just a simple lecturer working in a college. I was inspired to create this blog by my brother, who is also another person in this world whom I never thought would actually create a blog since he does not even have a Facebook account! So here I am.

I am very new to this whole blog thing but I hope it will bring me many hours of satisfaction, being able to write about my interests, events, and feelings that sometimes I feel get bottled up in, I would say, a rather monotonous and routine life. I have many things in life that I wish to express. I hope this blog will be an outlet for the great and exciting experiences that I have had and hope to have in the future. I have many things I am truly grateful for in my life and I hope many other good events and people will continue to bless my life and be a part of it and this blog too! =)