Monday, April 12, 2021

Ticket Reservation for Singapore's Museum of Ice Cream at Dempsey Is Available Now!


The Museum of Ice Cream will be opening at a 60,000 square foot space in Dempsey this August 2021. Limited tickets are available for reservation right now!

The wildly popular New York-based interactive attraction dedicated to the joy and power of ice cream, is getting ready for the Red Dot Island edition. This is the first venue for the museum that is located outside of the USA.

Get your ice-cream loving soul ready to experience about 14 colourful installations, including a “Dragon Playground” that consists of a massive sprinkle pool. And of course, there will be actual ice cream that you can slurp on! During a guide 60-90 minute experience by the museum's performers, five kinds of ice cream will be available for visitors to enjoy.

Here's a peek as to what the photo-worthy Museum of Ice Cream NYC looks like. By all accounts, the exuberant, bubble-gum pink aesthetic will be replicated in the local version. It looks like a haven for selfie lovers!


You can now make your reservations to visit Museum of Ice Cream through their website at https://www.museumoficecream.sg. Tickets are priced from SGD 38 per pax, for a group of four or more. If you are heading there alone, a ticket will cost SGD 42.

The museum will be opening in stages, so do note that the current reservations is for Phase 1. 

The Museum of Ice Cream looks like a fun, joyous place to immersive yourself in for awhile. It is definitely on Red Dot Diva's list of places to visit!



Saturday, April 10, 2021

Columbia Pictures' Aquaverse Theme Park in Thailand Set To Open in October 2021


With overseas travel plans stalled for more than a year, people are understandably craving to get on a plane and out of this island for a change of scenery. Well, here is a motivation to save more travel money and head to Thailand, when things improve concerning the current pandemic and travel bubbles are established.

Set to open from October 2021, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Falls have collaborated to develop Columbia Picture's first theme and water park at Bangsaray, a seaside town located 20 minutes from Pattaya and 90 minutes from Bangkok. The new tourist destination, set within a 14-acre area, is called “Columbia Pictures’ Aquaverse”.

There will be exciting, state-of-the-art rides, live shows, interactive props and themed restaurants featuring favourite characters from Columbia Pictures' movies like Ghostbusters, Men in Black and Hotel Transylvania, that will cater to visitors of all ages. And of course, the opportunity to buy those specially curated merchandise to add to your collection.

A total of 8 highly immersive theme zones have been planned for the park so far. Here is the list of the fun stuff you can look forward to!

* Men in Black Thrill Rides – This is Aquaverse's mega thrill zone with hair-raising water coaster rides, of which one of them has a 12-meter free-fall ride that sends you swooshing right down a MIB Wormhole.

* Ghostbusters Supernatural Experience – A water coaster sends you into the Ghostbusters portal and passes by spooky ghost traps. Or if you dare, step into the world’s first and only fully-enclosed water dome called The Ghostbusters Orb in a family raft ride.

* Bad Boys Raceway – Bad boys, whatcha want? A hardcore chase, of course! Rev it up on the new outdoor go-kart tracks and vroom, vroom vroom! through the neon-lit street of Miami.

* Jumanji Jungle Adventure – Head into the jungle at Jaguar Mountain and escape from Mandrills as you ride a series of water slides with weightlessness and one mega drop before you are sent wildly plunging into a splash pool.

* Hotel Transylvania Kid-Friendly Zone – Join your favourite monsters for a vacation and be ready to get soaking wet because this zone is the largest within the theme park, featuring over 100 water features, splash buckets, water rockets and more! 

* Surf’s Up in Surfer’s Paradise – Surf's up, dude! It's time to show off your epic moves on the high waves - thanks to the park's dual Flowrider! WHOAAAA.

* Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Swallow Falls River Adventure – Love those Foodimals from the animated movie? Cruise along a lazy river and meet these weird hybrid creatures made by the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, or FLDSMDFR for short.

* VIVO Wave Pool – This relaxing giant wave pool inspired by an upcoming animated musical, is also a venue for staged live shows and events.



Red Dot Diva is glad that Hollywood appears to be putting some attention to the South-East Asian region in recent years. We have been ignored for so long, so Aquaverse looks like a groundbreaking step forward. 

After lockdowns and restricted travel, it is also nice to look forward to having some fun and frivolity. Keep a look out for more news about the exciting travel hot spot at Aquaverse Water & Theme Park's website - https://www.columbiapicturesaquaverse.com!




Saturday, April 3, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong - A Monster Flick That Is Pure Escapism


Let's admit it. When one goes to watch a movie called “GODZILLA vs. KONG”, one should not be expecting much other than a massive showdown between two alpha titans.

It does not matter if you are Team Godzilla or Team Kong. The payoff for having the two monsters get into a loud, messy fisticuff is quite a thrill.

The CGI is great for some parts, and generic for most of it. However, it is the camera work that takes you on a visceral ride while Godzilla and Kong engage in their smash and bash. For a few seconds, you are up close and personal with Kong as his eye stares right into a space-age travel pod, or you are placed in the middle of the melee, as your line of sight swerving around angry monsters in the heart of central Hong Kong. It seems that director Adam Wingard had tailor-made the scenes for an amusement park ride.



As for the plot, er... what plot? The paper-thin narrative is as bland as steamed broccoli even though there are capable actors like Alexander Skarsgård as Nathan Lind, a researcher about something called Hollow Earth, and Rebecca Hall as the Kong Whisperer, Dr. Ilene Andrews. Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown return in this franchise instalment as father and daughter, Monarch scientist Dr. Mark Russell and Madison Russell respectively. There is also Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie, a manic investigator about kaijus, whose podcasts capture the attention of Madison, and Julian Dennison as Madison's good friend Josh Valentine, who turns out to be the MVP of the movie.

Adding to the frantic monster rumble is an organisation called Apex, owned by an egoistical villain named Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir). Walter wants to take credit for saving the world from Godzilla, and he has a plan in mind. His actions have antagonised the atomic breath-spewing King of Monsters from his ocean home, and after leaving mankind in peace for about 5 years, Godzilla blasts a surprise attack on Apex base at Pensacola, Florida.

Nathan Lind and Dr. Ilene team up to get Kong back to his ancestral home in the mystical Hollow Earth, where there is supposed to be an energy source powerful enough to protect the world from Godzilla. The movie is definitely skewed toward the giant ape, allowing him several scenes with human-like gestures like yawning or subtle changes in eye expressions. As a side quest, Team Madison, Bernie and Josh are in a hurry to find the source of King G's sudden aggressive behaviour.

The humans in “GODZILLA vs. KONG” are mostly relegated to a lot of nonsensical dialogue and superfluous scenes that are absent of genuine emotion. The exceptions are the lovely quiet interactions between Jia (Kaylee Hottle), Dr. Ilene's adopted deaf daughter, and Kong, who has taken to the girl and has learned how to communicate with her through sign language. (By the way, Red Dot Diva thinks Kaylee is just soooooo adorable!) Plus, the collateral damage caused by the massive monster battles is just insane! Do we know how many people have perished in Hong Kong? Where are the governments in all of these?

The lack of consideration for human kind is so insane, that it takes little effort to suspend all disbelief, and just go with the punches. After all, there are kaijus thrashing one another on screen!

Without giving too much away for those who have managed to avoid spoilers up till now, the third act brings another player (thanks to Apex) into a dazzling battle of the behemoths, which provides the audience an opportunity to root for Godzilla for a change.

GODZILLA vs. KONG” is 1 hour and 53 minutes of pure escapism, and an enjoyable tribute to both beloved iconic creatures who each have their own massive fanbase. It is also far more spectacular than its predecessor “GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS” (2019). No wonder it has achieved Number 1 in the local box office for two weeks in a row. The film has raked in over USD 150 million in box office takings worldwide, making this one of the biggest box office hits during a pandemic.

The movie teases some interesting ideas about the Hollow Earth and its other nasty creatures, Kong's awesome weapon, and the possibility that Godzilla and Kong may meet up again. Hopefully, in the next movie (if there is one), the writers will be able to infuse better characterisation, dialogue and motivation for the humans, which will take the Monsterverse to a whole 'nother level!






Monday, March 15, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League Is A Spellbinding Visual Wonder


After several years of hardcore fans clamouring for the Snydercut to be released, the moment of truth will be revealed to the world's audiences in just 2 days.

ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE” aka the Snydercut is set to premiere on 18 March, streaming via HBO GO for fans in Asia (*). The director's cut entailing how the 6 superheroes - Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) came together as a team - consists of hours of unseen footage and alternate dialogue. The movie is rated NC16 across Asia.

Red Dot Diva had access to an official screener a few days ago, and yes, she has watched the entire thing, all 4 hours and 2 minutes of it.

Verdict? Justice is served.

The movie is absolutely epic. A beautiful opera worthy of the DC superheroes legacy we hold dear to our hearts.

The running time of “ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE” may seem daunting, but Red Dot Diva did not feel that it was a slog at all. That itself is a testament to the skilfulness of Zack Snyder and his production team regarding the film's editing and pace. The movie is segmented into 6 parts and an epilogue.

Compared to the critically panned theatrical version in 2017 which had director Joss Whedon (who was uncredited) changing parts of the script and re-shooting several of the original scenes, “ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE” is a far superior version in many ways.

*** WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS ***

*****

*****


Right from the start, the movie continues from “BATMAN vs SUPERMAN”, with the world still mourning over the death of Man of Steel. An evil, galaxy-travelling warrior called Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his horde of nasty parademons, suddenly arrive on Earth. Steppenwolf is eager to collect all three Mother Boxes - small, powerful, partially sentient devices created by alien witches. Once synchronised, the Mother Boxes will have enough cosmic power to destroy planets. Batman, with the help of Wonder Woman, race against time to form a team of superheros to prevent this disaster from happening.

As Zack Snyder is no longer hemmed in with the usual theatrical release running time of 2 hours tops, he is able to give ample time to each superhero in this re-edit. As a result, the superheroes' personal baggage and motivations for joining the team were more heartfelt. In particular, Cyborg is now the centre of it all. The film showcases how Victor Stone transforms from an angry conflicted soul who had been unwillingly resurrected by his father Silas Stone, to a place of acceptance and understanding.

Also, the added scenes relating to Barry Allen's rescue of Iris West becomes a turning point that gives him a desire to serve a higher purpose. This is such a contrast to the original 2017 film, where Barry was a bit of a nervous wreck, confessing to Batman that he was afraid, he has not done battle before and all he does is push people away and run. In fact, all of the Flash scenes in movie, where we see the concept of time from Barry Allen's viewpoint, was superbly rendered.


The plot is also more coherent, with a much appreciated backstory about the Mother Boxes and Cyborg's innate connection to one of these devices. In this version, Steppenwolf is always hot on the heels of the Mother Boxes, which leads to a number of adrenaline-pumping battle scenes, accompanied by Junkie XL's rousing score. Many of the action sequences were already in the theatrical version, but these are now edited in a more visually thrilling way.

Even better was the revelation that there is a bigger Big Bad behind Steppenwolf's anxiety and hard work. It is none other than supervillain Darkseid, a tyrant who rules Apokolips, and has an aim beyond just owning the Mother Boxes.

As for the Superman fans, his resurrection provides more meaning as the story develops, and of course, there is that classic black suit. And also, thank the goddesses, no Mustache-gate!!

In typical Snyder style, this energetic recut is audacious in its delivery, with several segments echoing the insane visual grandeur of the action movie “300”. Yet, there are touching moments of tenderness, like the Clark-Lois and "Martha Kent"-Lois scenes. The somewhat sly humour is also spot on, unlike the cringeworthy lines in Joss Whedon's take. Red Dot Diva's personal favourite segment involves a sardonic exchange between Diana and Alfred Pennyworth regarding the brewing of tea.

Of course, as in most movies there are minus points that you could pick on. Some may find the squarish 1.33 aspect of the movie unfamiliar. The movie format was filmed for the IMAX theatre, so while watching it on a regular screen, you will see the right and left sides blacked out. Having said that, it did not deter Red Dot Diva's enjoyment of the film because of the fascinating new material that was unfolding on screen.

Red Dot Diva was also disappointed that there wasn't more of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) other than her looking woefully sad regarding the loss of Clark Kent. In this regard, the 2017 movie gave Lois more due justice as an investigative journalist. A balance between both impressions of Lois Lane would have been perfect.


But these bugbears were easily overlooked by Red Dot Diva as she found there was a sense of confidence and sincerity in the way Zack Snyder envisioned the epic. It was made out of an appreciation for the beloved comic book characters, together with great performances by the charismatic, gorgeous looking cast. Even if you detest Zack Snyder's style, it is hard not to appreciate Henry Cavill's chiselled features, Ben Affleck's greying gruffness, Gal Gadot's stunning gazelle-like athleticism and beauty, Jason Momoa's hunky bod framed by his long flowing hair, the utter adorableness of Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher being regal and sombre.

Frustratingly “ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE” ends with a cliffhanger. It is a pity that this will be Zack Snyder's last DC film. After riding on a grand 4-hour adventure, including the intriguing epilogue, Red Dot Diva wishes he was able to continue with the extended universe, because she is curious to know what he has in store for the iconic DC characters.

Well, maybe, that will happen in an alternate universe.






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


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Netflix's Pacific Rim: The Black Expands The Franchise's Lore in Intriguing Ways


Kaijus, mechas, anime-style action and Idris Elba. That was what made “PACIFIC RIM” the 2013 creature feature directed by Guillermo del Toro, so much fun to watch. And also Idris Elba. Mmmmm, yes ... Red Dot Diva has to mention him twice.

Five years later, the sequel “PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING” did not fare so well. It was missing the magic touch of Guillermo del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham. Despite the loud action sequences, the story was flat and souless. Thankfully, Netflix's new anime series “PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK” sets things right for the franchise.

The anime series is set in Australia, where various kaiju have taken over the continent. After a terrible battle with a bunch of kaijus five years ago, the jaeger pilot parents of siblings Taylor and Hayley decided to leave them and a few other children at a remote natural sanctuary near an abandoned base of operations. They then went off with their jaeger Hunter Vertigo looking for help, with a promise to return. Since that day, the Pan Pacific Defense Corp, who are in charge of the Jaegers, had implemented an initiative called "The Black". What exactly that is, no one really knows.


Rebelling against her brother's overly-protective stance, the younger Hayley yearns to travel out of the camp to search for her parents. As Hayley secretly leaves the camp, she accidentally falls through a crack in the ground and discovers a weaponless training jaeger called Atlas Destroyer and its sardonic AI (Erica Lindbeck). Both siblings learn how to Drift with the jaeger quickly enough, but the activation of Atlas Destroyer attracts a kaiju to the campsite and things turn bloody. Taylor and Hayley had little choice but to leave their home and pilot the jaeger as far as they can, in an attempt to find their parents.

There is a lot to unpack within the first three episodes of “PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK”. Right from the start, the series careens into an explosive Kaiju-Jaeger battle. After that, the resilient siblings barely escape from nimble footed jackal-like kaiju in a city called Meridian, encounter a ginormous red-eyed kaiju-eating kaiju, discovers a mysterious mute boy in a secret tank, and stumble upon a dangerous Aussie warlord Shane (Andy McPhee) and his posse dealing with black market goods like rare power cells.



It is a darker, bleaker, and more violent dystopian landscape, even though most scenes are filled with the bright azure skies of sunny Australia. The contrast can be jarring but compared to the first Pacific Rim movie, “PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK” provides an interesting dimension about the sort of menace that prefers to bask in the light of day, akin to a Western monster show. There is even a classic Mexican standoff in episode 3.

When it comes to the action sequences, the animation is impressive, making all the monster thrashing and mecha smashing look seamless. It is unfortunate that, in general, the character animation is bland and lack emotional quality. Most of the times, it seems that the animators have forgotten to add facial expressions to the human characters. That said, the interactions between the siblings are earnest and moving, their actions depicting the different ways each deal with trauma and violence. It is a waste that they do not seem to have more meaningful relationships with other secondary characters in the show, other than the enigmatic 'Boy'. Credit has to given to the voice actors (especially for Hayley), whose emotive lines make up for the flaw.

What is best about “PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK” is the surprising depth that it offers in the franchise's world building. This makes it very binge-worthy, as you feel propelled to find out more about the intriguing concepts that have been posed.

For those who love monsters, mechas and anime, you have to include “PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK” on your Netflix watch list. It has already started streaming from 4 March 2021, and consists of 7 half-hour episodes. Even though it is a more desperate take on the Pacific Rim apocalypse, it is really enjoyable and there is much to appreciate in this new anime series.






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.