Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Marksman Is Standard Liam Neeson Fare, But Slower


Veteran star Liam Neeson has done a Hayao Miyakazi, that is, publicly announce that they plan to "retire", and then come back doing the thing they do best. Now in his late 60s, Neeson is back starring as a lead in an action-thriller called “THE MARKSMAN”. The movie opened at local theatres a few days ago on 25 February.

Living in his ranch at the Arizona-Mexico border, Vietnam war veteran Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) is leading a lonely life together with his trusty pet dog. He has just lost his wife to cancer, and he is about to lose his property to the bank too. He passes by his days with melancholy, downing a regular bottle of whisky, and saving his livestock from coyotes - thanks to his skills as a marksman. From time to time, Hanson would notify the border patrol whenever he spots illegal immigrants pass by his land.



His peace shatters one day when he spots a mother and son cross the fence from Mexico, on the run from the dangerous members of the cartel. In the ensuing violent gunfight, Rosa the mother, gets mortally wounded. Before she dies, she offers Hanson a bag of cash and pleads for him to take her son Miguel (Jacob Perez) to Chicago, where her cousin lives. Hanson reluctantly agrees and the two end up on a road trip up north, with the drug cartel in hot pursuit.

The trip to Chicago starts out awkwardly enough as Miguel blames Hanson for his mother's death, and the impatient and gruff Hanson was treating the entire thing like a chore. Being practical, he was hoping to fulfil a woman's last wish and then, use the money to pay off his debts. But as the ride progresses, the two begin to bond through their shared grief of loved ones lost.

THE MARKSMAN” is co-written and directed by Robert Lorenz, who has worked on several Clint Eastwood films. That ol' Western style is evident in the movie, with its measured pace, grounded sensibilities, and an older grizzled lead actor being a heroic protector. As eye-candy, the movie also takes advantage of the gorgeous Arizona landscape as its backdrop.

Watching Liam Neeson is always entertaining, especially when he plays characters with a mix of guilt and frustration. His Irish sense of humour inevitably filters through in some of his lines. Young actor Jacob Perez gives equal weight in his many scenes with Neeson, providing a sad dimension to their natural chemistry. Usually, kid characters in need of rescue in movies are written as annoying or snarky little brats. For a change, without the need to over-act or say much, Perez's quiet portrayal of grief tugs at your heartstrings.


It is too bad that Kathryn Winnick, as Sarah, Jim Hanson's border patrol agent step-daughter, was simply not given enough lines or scenes that really matter. It goes to show that this is still a guys' movie, and female characters are merely peripheral. Juan Pablo Raba gives an over the top but convincing performance as the baddie Maurico. There is a bit of a revelation on how Maurico became so evil, but the movie is not interested in giving a deeper perspective on members of the Mexican drug cartel. It is all about Jim Hanson - his struggles, his guilt and ultimately, his redemption.


THE MARKSMAN” isn't a trailblazer of any sort, but Red Dot Diva thought it was a watchable action road movie despite its slow pace. It's like comfort food, because you know what to expect - that is, Liam Neeson's character saving the day.






Monday, February 22, 2021

Superman & Lois Series Is Ready To Soar on 24 February 2021, Warner TV Asia


It's time to go up, up and away on 24 February 2021 with the premiere of “Superman & Lois”. The brand new series, which will telecast exclusively on Warner TV at 9 PM on the same day as the U.S., is the latest spin off from the Arrowverse. For those who are new to the Arrowverse, the term refers to a shared universe of several TV series consisting of story arcs of several DC Comics' characters like Green Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Batwoman, just to name a few.

About a decade has passed since a series about Superman was last aired on TV. This was a long running series called “Smallville” starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent, which was well loved by many Superman fans.

Tyler Hoechlin (who was in “Teen Wolf” prior to entering the Arrowverse) has taken over the mantle as Superman. Elizabeth Tulloch reprises her role as famous journalist Lois Lane. Instead of the usual villain of the week format, the 90-minute premiere episode of “Superman & Lois” gives a fresh spin of the Superman lore by focusing on the married life of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Like most working parents, they are busy juggling their careers while raising the teenage sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin). Meanwhile, there is the question of whether the boys will inherit any of their father's Kryptonian superpowers and complicate matters even further.


After relocating to Smallville, the rural town where Clark grew up in, he discovers how much the place has changed. He also gets reacquainted with his first love and good friend Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who is now married to the Fire Chief, Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez). Lois' father, General Samuel Lane (Dylan Walsh) is also a frequent visitor as he seeks for Superman's help to take care of villains and trouble-makers. Talking about trouble-makers, the appearance of a mysterious stranger (Wolé Parks) adds to the family drama.

Superman and comic book fans will notice that the superhero is donning a new suit that updates the iconic look with a sleeker style and modern applications. Like the sculpted red belt, billowing cape and custom fabric, for instance.


About wearing the Superman suit, Tyler Hoechlin said, “I find that the new suit is representative of the show. Just as this suit is unique and set apart from the ones that preceded it, the story we’re telling about Clark/Superman at this point in his life is unique and something we’ve never seen before. I appreciate the opportunity to wear the suit and the responsibility that comes with it. But it’s always interesting when I’m asked how I feel about “my new suit,” because I’ve always felt that the suit doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to everyone that finds some kind of meaning in that suit, in the symbol on the chest. I just happen to be the one wearing it. I come from the world of baseball and a line of coaches that always preached that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back. Because when you wear that jersey, it represents not only you, but your entire team, and everyone that has ever worn that jersey that came before you. So when I wear the suit, that’s what it means to me. It represents everything that Superman stands for and has stood for, for almost a century now. And I look forward to carrying on that tradition.


Lois Lane may not possess any superpowers but her intelligence and tenacity as a journalist are her secret weapons when battling against media mogul Morgan Edge (Alexander Garfin), who is bent on promoting online journalism where only clickthroughs matter.

Elizabeth Tulloch says, “I find Lois inspiring in how little she gives a crap about what anyone thinks of her. She’s not doing the work for glory or more Pulitzers, she’s doing it because she believes in justice and truth. She is incredibly driven and determined and hard-working, and she really embodies the aphorism “be the change you wish to see in the world.” She is not intimidated by anyone. She wants to save the world with words.


New episodes of “Superman & Lois” will air every Wednesday at 9:50 PM on Warner TV. Right after the pilot episode, a half-hour special, “Superman & Lois: Legacy of Hope”, will air at 10:15 PM. So remember to keep your eyes locked on the screen after you have enjoyed the premiere.



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Tip: To get deeper into the lore of this iteration of Superman, Red Dot Diva recommends new fans to watch past episodes of the Supergirl series, and the crossover event “Crisis of Infinite Earths”.

Warner TV is on Starhub Channel 515 or Singtel Channel 306.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Join in the Hijinks of Tom & Jerry Movie, Premieres 11 February 2021


Believe it or not. The classic cat-and-mouse chase in the guise of Tom and Jerry is still going on after 80 years! 

This year, the duo continue with their trademark cartoony violence in a full-length, mixed live action and animation movie entitled TOM & JERRY. This is the characters' first theatrical release, with actors Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, Ken Jeong, Rob Delany and Colin Jost joining in the real world set. The movie is directed by Tim Story and produced by Chris DeFaria. TOM & JERRY will be opening at local theatres on 11 February.

Our favourite nimble and mischievous mouse Jerry has taken residence at a swanky New York City hotel, and has been spotted by guest, causing a massive mouse hunt to begin. Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), one of the hotel's employees, decided to hire a cat to solve the problem. And guess who that hapless cat turns out to be? Tom is reunited with his frenemy and their long-standing feud starts up again.

However, Tom and Jerry find out that someone else is conspiring against them as well as Kayla, and the three decide to team up together.


Leading up the anticipated release of the TOM & JERRY movie, Warner Bros. has planned a series of exciting promotional events. Check them out below!



Get A Daily Dose Of Tom & Jerry's Antics!

Fans can enjoy a daily dose of Tom & Jerry movies at 11:30 AM every day from Saturday, February 6, on Cartoon Network (Singtel TV Ch 226 / StarHub Ch 316). Their antics in these shows are reimagined in the world of classic tales like the Wizard of Oz, Sherlock Holmes, and Robin Hood, and many others. 

The Tom and Jerry Show is also airing on Boomerang (Singtel TV Ch 228 / StarHub Ch 317) every day at 6 PM. Plus, there is a two-month long channel takeover featuring various Tom and Jerry series from March to April!

Oh, and HBO GO subscribers get to watch a specially-packaged boxset of The Tom and Jerry Show Seasons 1 to 4 including the movies, starting on 1 February.




Chase Down Those Giveaways and Fun Challenges!

Take the Tom and Jerry Challenge by downloading photo templates from Cartoon Network Asia's website - cartoonnetworkasia.com/promo/tomandjerrychallenge. Pose yourself or your pets together with Tom and Jerry, snap a shot and then post your photo in your Facebook and Instagram feed, using the #TomAndJerryChallengehashtag. You have up to 11 February to take part in this real world meets cartoon character challenge. The most creative posts stand to win tickets to watch the TOM & JERRY movie and receive some cool merchandise.


You can get even more chances to win goodies by spending $5 on Win Win Potato Crisps at all major supermarkets and convenience stores. Just upload your receipt to winmart.com.sg/contest before March 31 to stand a chance to win the prizes.


Nab Those T&J Collectibles!

There are loads of Tom and Jerry merchandise for fans to collect. Here are the places where you can find them:

Golden Village
From February 11, GV is offering limited-edition Tom and Jerry reusable cups. Remember to grab them when you go watch the movie.

Gician
Head to 7-Eleven stores for novelty items like plushies, back packs, water bottles and more! These collectibles are expected to hit the shelves in March.

EZ-Link
A brand new Tom and Jerry EZ-Link card will be available at EZ-Link vending machines located at Bishan Junction 8, Bugis Junction, Tampines Mall and Westgate, from February 24.

Polar Puffs & Cakes
Take a bite of new limited-edition Tom and Jerry cakes, which will be available at all Polar outlets from February 18.

The Flip Flop Shop
It's all about the chase! A fun and stylish new Tom and Jerry footwear collection can be purchased at all The Flip Flop Shop outlets now.

Mighty Jaxx
Coming soon by design studio Mighty Jazz is a Tom and Jerry collaboration.


The worldwide pandemic has been difficult for everyone, and Red Dot Diva thinks we all need some cheering up. So why not gather your family and friends to spend measure of rambunctious cartoon fun at the cinema watching the TOM & JERRY movie? As they say, laughter in the best medicine!






Sunday, January 31, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League To Premiere 18 March 2021 on HBO GO (Asia)


Mention the name Zack Snyder and you will find mostly fans from both ends of the spectrums - those who are in rapturous worship of his works or those who bristle with snarky derision. He's the ultimate controversial hot button for any geek conversation concerning DC superhero movies.

Zack Snyder was working on the movie JUSTICE LEAGUE since 2016. Before he had the change to edit and finalise the film, Snyder left the production in 2017. His daughter had died by suicide, and he wanted to spend time with his family. Joss Whedon, well known for being the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the first two Avengers' movies, took over. The movie version released in the same year was a weird combination of Snyder's original take and Whedon's more colourful style. Not surprisingly, with an uneven tone given to the characters and the script, the movie did not turn out to be the box office hit that Warner Bros. had hoped.

Ardent fans of Snyder began calling for an original cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE, insisting that such a version exists. They flooded social media with the hashtag #releasetheSyndercut soon after the movie's release and continued promoting the grassroots campaign for years. Finally, on the date of JUSTICE LEAGUE'S 2nd anniversary, the fans efforts gained more traction when actors like Gal Gadot and Ben Afflect added their voices to the chorus. Synder also began posting more stills from the alternate cut.

The studio finally gave in despite pundits estimating that it would cost gazillions to produce this version. In May 2020, WarnerMedia announced that the infamous “Snyder Cut” will premiere on HBO's streaming services in the following year. The extended version of the movie would be about 4 hours long.

Since the official announcement was made, Zack Snyder has dropped a number of teasers about the feature film. Based on these “Snyder Cut” tidbits and teaser trailer, Red Dot Diva knows that there are some key differences compared to the theatrical version. These include Superman wearing his black suit, more screentime for Cyborg whom Synder declares as "the heart of the movie", the return of Kiersey Clemon's Iris West, more emotional arc for the Flash, a more heavily armoured Steppenwolf and the iconic Darkseid (who was absent in the original movie release) is back as one of the villains.


Love it or hate it, ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE now has a premiere date. Fans in Asia (*) can watch the “Snyder Cut” on HBO GO on 18 March 2021, the same time as the U.S. debut. There is also a new movie soundtrack released on WaterTower Music, featuring a score by Tom Holkenborg AKA Junkie XL.

Red Dot Diva has to confess that she likes Zack Snyder's visual impact in his DC superheroes movies. Believe it or not, she even enjoyed SUCKERPUNCH. Yes, his movies are dark and violent, mostly style over substance but ultimately, quite unforgettable. Storytelling-wise, his choices on character arcs have been unpalatable to many hardcore comic book fans. Regardless of this, Red Dot Diva feels that the Snyderverse has its place in the DCEU. Most of all, due to the circumstances in which Snyder had to leave the production of JUSTICE LEAGUE, Red Dot Diva is glad that he is now able to bring his original vision to fruition.

Like many other Snyder fans, she is very curious about how ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE will fare on her personal like to dislike scale. Adding to the intrigue is the strong support for the project from DCEU actors like Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher and Jesse Eisenberg, as well as directors David Ayer and Damon Lindelof. She knows it is definitely going to be bigger and bolder (and loooonnger), but will it be better?

Well, if you are as curious about Red Dot Diva's thoughts on ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE, a Facebook livestream is currently being scheduled for March 2020. Joining her on the recap/ review of the widely anticipated director's cut will be her two geek buddies and DC fans, Atty and John. Look out for more announcements on this in the coming weeks!




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(*) - including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan


Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Star Wars Identities Exhibition at ArtScience Museum Is A Rare Delight


The Star Wars Identities Exhibition, which will open for the public this Saturday (30 January) at the ArtScience Museum (ASM), is something not to be missed!

The show was supposed to open last year, but then the coronavirus arrived, and Red Dot Island promptly went into a 2-month Circuit Breaker. For many months after, businesses and individuals were following strict safety protocols to help keep everyone healthy.

Despite the long wait, ASM and their partners Pico Pro, X3 Productions and Lucasfilm Ltd, the owner of the show's 200+ original Star Wars movie artefacts, have managed to produce a wonderful exhibition that will delight the franchise's fans - both long-timers as well as newbies.

Through several displays of props, concept artwork, sculpts, costumes and character profiles, Star Wars Identities is structured as an interactive personal journey for fans to learn how an identity is shaped in a lifetime.

Red Dot Diva managed to get a sneak peak of the exhibition, totally geeking out like an Ewok at a raucous forest rave. To keep some of the show's surprises and reveals more exciting for the visitors, she will only list down a few key highlights that you should look out for!

1. THE INTERACTIVE IDENTITY QUEST

This is *THE* main highlight of the exhibition. It adds an educational and intriguing dimension to the usual static displays.

Through an RFID wristband, you will go through 10 stations along the way. As you listen to some of the Star Wars stories, and learn about the different elements that affect one's identity, you are given options like species, planet, culture, and personality. Just like the contrasting lives of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, the choices you make and the choices your buddy makes will reveal different sets of characters!

Red Dot Diva found it so much fun deciding whether to be a Wookiee or maybe a Twi'lek, determining if one had overbearing parents or those that let you do whatever you want, and affirming what is one's primary mantra.

All of your selected data will be captured in the RFID wristband, and at the end, your very own customised Star Wars identity and avatar will be revealed! Provide the system with your email address, and a more detailed profile will be sent to you so that you can share with your friends. 


2. THE SPACESHIPS DISPLAY

The massive display of iconic Star Wars spaceships including the Imperial Star Destroyer, Tie Fighter, Mon Calamari Starcruiser and B-Wing Starfighter, was so creatively done. From a certain angle, it seemed as if the Rebel ships were chasing or heading straight into combat with the Imperial forces.

Take a while to stand around the display, as the engine whines of speeding spaceships surround you and bright starlights ripple as if you are standing on the deck of one of these ships.

And of course, there is a model prop of the galaxy's fastest hunk of junk - the Millennium Falcon - for you to admire as well.


3. TWO MASTERS - YODA & DARTH VADER

Representing both the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force are displays of two masters from the Star Wars universe - Yoda and Darth Vader.

Pay your respects to the impish Jedi Master Yoda, and wonder at some early concept art of the character by art director Joe Johnston. One of which was the idea of a garden gnome like creature!

However, the grandeur and ominous aura of the Darth Vader model is simply breathtaking. (Or is that a Force C-chh-oke? Oh no.) No wonder the Dark Side has such a powerful allure.


4. PADME'S COSTUMES

Fans can view three of Padma Amidala's outfits in a stunning display. The costumes are, from left to right, the ethereal Parade Gown from The Phantom Menace, her iconic white jumpsuit from Attack of the Clones and regally purple Senate Gown from Revenge of the Sith.

Too bad, eye-catching Red Invasion Gown was not included because it is one of Red Dot Diva's personal favourite!


5. THE ART OF RALPH MCQUARRIE

It is such a rare opportunity to worship at the shrine of concept designer Ralph McQuarrie. His ideas and creativity are so sublime.

Included in the range of McQuarrie's artwork was the one that started it all - a drawing of an early C-3PO and R2-D2 in Tatooine that helped George Lucas get the first Star Wars movie funded and produced by Fox Studios.

Most of McQuarrie's ideas remained intact in the films, and it's still wonderful to see some of his creations brought to life in recent Star Wars shows like Star Wars Rebels, The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian.


Other than the key highlights mentioned above, there are also droids on display that include fan favourites C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8, the meson taloscope (instrument used to test midi-chlorian levels), a model sculpt of Ahsoka, puppets of the pod racers from Phantom Menace, Stormtrooper costumes, amongst many more gems. More photos of will be posted on my RDD Instagram.


For those who want to wield the Force of the Wallet, there is a little gift shop selling the exhibition's merchandise like posters, books and apparel. (The Exhibition Catalogue recording every artefact featured may be worth a purchase at the price of SGD 20.)

Star Wars Identities has travelled around the world in the last few years, delighting fans in cities like London, Tokyo and Sydney. The one at ASM will be its final stop.

It is such a rare chance to view original items from the Star Wars franchise up close and personal. Especially now, with international travel bans and curbs continuing for quite awhile. So, don't miss visiting Star Wars Identities, and because of safety distancing measures, do get your tickets ASAP!

Oh, and you can redeem your SingapoRediscover vouchers for this show and any other exhibits at ASM too!

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Starts: 30 January 2021

Ends: 13 June 2021

Where: Artscience Museum

Tickets: https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum/exhibitions/star-wars-identities.html



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games Collaborate To Develop A New Open-World Star Wars Game



This week, Ubisoft announced a piece of exciting news for gamers and Star Wars fans.

The video game company, home of popular games like Assassin's Creed, Raving Rabids and the Tom Clancy series, is collaborating with Lucasfilm to develop a new story-driven open-world Star Wars game. Ubisoft's critically-acclaimed AAA studio Massive Entertainment will be working to bring their latest technology like the Snowdrop engine, to deliver an epic adventure in the beloved galaxy far far away.

The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.

Back in 2013, Lucasfilm Games (a.k.a. LucasArts) was more or less shuttered after Disney acquired Lucasfilm and its subsidiaries, leaving the company to function with a handful of staff as a video game licensor. Red Dot Diva knows of several Star Wars fans who are often nostalgic about Lucasfilm's games like Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront. So, it is heartening to know that on 11 January 2021, Disney has decided to announce the revival of Lucasfilm Games and resume its active role as a game developer and publisher.



Douglas Reilly, VP, Lucasfilm Games said, “Ubisoft have a unique talent for crafting immersive worlds so we’re thrilled to work with them on this project. We are inspired by the passion and talent of the team at Massive, and together we share a vision for the type of original stories we want to tell with our players in this expansive galaxy. They have the creativity, experience, and community understanding to bring awe-inspiring authenticity, depth and innovation to this new Star Wars game."

The game is still in its very early stages. There is no blurb about the possible storyline, nor any further news about the release date, characters or timeline within the Star Wars lore. However, Massive Entertainment is now currently on a recruitment blitz for this game project. They are actively looking for the brightest creative talent to come onboard. If you are interested to join the team, you can apply to open positions at https://www.massive.se/career/.

Red Dot Diva is definitely keeping an eye out for more news on this wonderful new Star Wars adventure!


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Live with Red Dot Diva's First Episode of 2021 Will Feature The Curious Unicorn


It's a new year, and a new season of Live with Red Dot Diva!

One of the best things that happened in 2020 was the decision to launch a monthly Facebook livestream featuring mainly creators and artists based in South-East Asia. During these 1-hour livestreams, Red Dot Diva and her guests participated in lively discussions on a wide range of topics like writing for horror stories, creating modern folk tales, and the current state of genre films in Red Dot Island. These interesting conversations will continue in 2021, and Red Dot Island already have the first few guests lined up for the next few months.

The first guest for 2021 will be The Curious Unicorn a.k.a. Hammy. Hammy is an independent visual development artist, graphic designer and 2D animator who is currently based in Brunei. She used to live in Los Angeles as well as in Red Dot Island. Those of you who wandered around the Singapore Comic Con 2019 Artist Alley may remember her booth selling eye-catching artwork, in an unusual wooden scaffolding setup.



Hammy's unique minimalistic art style stands out amongst the sea of more detailed comic book and manga drawings you tend to see on the internet. The lines in her artwork may seem deceptively simple, but as you admire her art for awhile longer, you will notice that they embody a sense of enigma and mystery. Some of her artwork reminds Red Dot Diva of the style used in Genndy Tartakovsky's animated series, Samurai Jack, but softer and with more surrealism infused in them.

Ever since she was back in Brunei, Hammy has been busy exhibiting in art shows, like the Anime Festival and Impiana #1.0. She is currently working on her own 2D animation project called Thea for this year's festivals, and will also be holding her own solo art exhibition called The Light Within in March 2021.



Red Dot Diva is looking forward to find out more about Hammy's artistic experiences and adventures as they discuss how curiosity of the mind comes to play when creating art. Join us for the first Live with Red Dot Diva session in 2021 on the following date and time:

DATE: 30 January 2021, Saturday

TIME: 1 PM, Singapore Time (GMT +8)

TO RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/865740250908096/

LIVESTREAM: www.facebook.com/reddotdiva/live


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Check out more of The Curious Unicorn's artwork on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thecuriousunicorn/

Catch up on past Live with Red Dot Diva sessions at the Videos section - https://www.facebook.com/reddotdiva/live