NO one doubted "The Dark Knight" was going to be a blockbuster, particularly since it's the last movie of the late Heath Ledger and buzz has been building around his portrayal of The Joker. But I don't think anyone really expected it to be this huge, as it posted $158.4 million in its opening weekend to break the previous North American box office opening record. Fittingly enough, DC's Batman beat rival Marvel's franchise comic book character Spider-Man (but I'm still a big Spider-Man fan), as the previous record holder was "Spider-Man 3" with $151.1 million. Check out this video report from Access Hollywood. Yup, Hollywood is definitely benefiting from comic book characters with all the comic book movies that have been coming out in the past few years. By the way, if you loved the graphic novel like I did (and who doesn't heh), I'm sure you also can't wait for the "Watchmen" movie. If you haven't seen the "Watchmen" trailer yet, you can check it out here.
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By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net IMAGINE running around a multi-level, 350-square-meter arena holding a laser gun called a phaser and tagging supposed enemies you find hiding behind a dark wall. For 15 minutes, this high-tech game of tag using specially-made laser-fitted guns allows players (a maximum of 24) to relive a favorite childhood game. "This is not about war. It's more a tagging game," said Maureen Scherrie Delantar, marketing and operations manager of Aslag Philippines' LazerXtreme Arena, noting that children as young as six years old can play the game without risks of getting hurt. Here's a photo I took of Delantar showing the special vest and laser-fitted gun. And here's INQUIRER.net multimedia specialist Erika Tapalla interviewing Delantar. Video taken by INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alex Villafania. Opened two weeks ago to the public, the LazerXtreme Arena in Market! Market! was built with the "family in mind," said Delantar. While everyone is now quite familiar with team-based, simulated shooting games like paint ball and Airsoft, a combat sport which uses specially designed guns that fire pellets, LaserXtreme Arena's laser tag game uses a combination of sensors, laser technology, and customized software to make the experience as surreal as a computer game. Even the theme is partly inspired by computer games. It has a high-tech airlock, which is a briefing room, and a roomful of specially designed vests with blinking sensors that players will wear during a game. All in all, the arena theme looks more like the interior of a spaceship, said Delantar. LazerXtreme Arena is not the first laser tag arena in the Philippines, according to Delantar. There have been other similar operations established in the late 1990s but they were still quite expensive. Delantar stressed that LaserXtreme Arena was designed to be an affordable entertainment alternative for families, friends, and even corporate clients. Apart from the 350-square-meter arena, it also provides several rooms where people can hold functions or parties. "Everything was designed by Filipinos with help from foreign consultants," Delantar said. As of this writing, the laser tag arena is still being outfitted with more special effects lights and haze to add to the spaceship ambience. To complete the high-tech experience, a good dose of music comes blaring from large speakers strategically placed around the arena. Delantar said players can also customize music that can be played during the games. Each player is assigned a phaser, vest, and nickname. At the end of each game, a computer printout of each player's statistics is provided, showing how they fared during the game. Delantar said celebrities have already visited the high-tech laser tag arena. "This is a mental game, which makes it safe for kids. Also there is no pain, no paint in this game," she added. LazerXtreme Arena is located on the fourth floor of Market! Market! in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net AFTER several nostalgic attempts to bring back old actors as the characters that made them superstars (think Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone), here comes Harrison Ford out to reclaim his title as the eponymous Indiana Jones with a new movie, still armed with his trademark bullwhip, revolver and indomitable fedora. His latest adventure, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," is largely George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's remake of the same good old fashioned 80s-era action-adventure to satisfy the cravings of a nostalgic thirtysomething crowd and see if the same moviemaking formula of the early 80s would work with a new audience. This review may contain some spoilers, so stop reading if you don't want the movie spoiled for you. Sure, maybe the movie is an attempt to cash in on a once-popular franchise that made both Lucas and Spielberg among the biggest icons in moviemaking history. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is an action-adventure movie that throws Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones Jr. more than 20 years into the future since his first adventure in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which was set in 1936. This puts Indy face to face with Russian communists and spies during the 50s cold war. It's clear that Indy has aged through the years and tends to drop middle-aged gripes over curled brows compared to his smart smiling sarcasm when he was younger. Cate Blanchett plays Irina Spalko, a cold-hearted yet less-than-scary Russian parapsychologist. She and her group of Red soldiers kidnap Indy and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) to find a missing alien artifact that she claims holds the key to ultimate power. As in previous Indiana movies, Indy gets to escape while taking down half of Irina's group. Later, Indiana meets up with motorcycle-riding Mutt Williams (Shia LaBouf) to help find his foster dad, and Indy's close friend, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), who left a message to Indy indicating that he has found a crystal skull that could point the way to a mythical kingdom of vast wealth. Incidentally, it is the same place where Irina and her ilk are searching, but her reasons for finding the lost city are more nefarious than just stripping it of its treasure. For those who watched the first three films in the early 80s, there's some sense of reminiscing on the days when Spielberg and Lucas would both use some sort of analog technology to get the desired visual effect in their film. These were mostly blue screens that put characters in a scene, which are actually small set productions. In those days (and I have fond memories of watching such movies) the special effects put the viewer in the middle of the scene along with the protagonist of the film. The special effects were barely noticeable, as though a scene was seamless from start to finish. People would then wonder how the effect was made or if it was an effect at all (an example is the famous rolling boulder scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). However, moviegoers are far less excited with special effects now than they were a decade ago, as computer graphics have made almost anything possible on the silver screen. "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" used just about every computer-made special effect technique in the arsenal of Industrial Light and Magic. "Blue screened" scenes were quite obvious, digital rotoscoping was employed and there were spots where Ford's face was digitally plastered to an actor's body to make it look like he was doing the action. The action scenes can still be appreciated but knowing that the same digital visual effects from Lucas and Spielberg's works have been used in the latest Indy film make it less exciting. The acting is somewhat contrived for some of the characters and the build-up of their profiles, especially the new ones, is weak. Of course, Ford as Indiana Jones remains as effective a hero as he was 27 years ago but a few of the other actors are less than supportive. Case in point is Blanchett's characterization of a Soviet dominatrix. Stone cold as she may seem, there is little character development that would have put a lot more emphasis on her demeanor. Her use of a rapier would have given ample backstory characterization but audiences are left to wonder how she really came to be and only her intentions are known. Meanwhile Mac and Oxley's characters are neither given some thought as to how they should be integrated into the story but that's passable considering they play smaller parts in the story: Mac constantly buggers Indy with his greed and Oxley just keeps giving Indy small clues that Indy himself would have solved himself. LaBouf's characterization of Mutt Williams is nothing spectacular but remains passable as it gives the viewer, old and new alike, a sense of things to come. You'll find out what I mean when you watch the movie. Still, LaBouf should shed off some of his angst-ridden onscreen persona as it's become pretty much his forte in his previous films. For all its problems, the same action-adventure formula works for the latest Indiana Jones franchise. The action is intense; the staple of deadly animals and acrobatic tribesmen, as well as lots of gunfights and car chases, will still make nostalgic older audiences find their way back to the days when they wanted to roam the world looking for some adventure. Meanwhile, younger generations of moviegoers will find it amazing to see that Ford can still hang on to his bullwhip while swinging around, dodging bullets, and remaining cool about it.
CHECK out the latest "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" trailer, courtesy of Solar-UIP Philippines.
A REPLICA of the legendary Mach 5 from the upcoming live-action film "Speed Racer" is on display at the Rockwell Center. The car comes complete with Yokohama tires and a cockpit although the gauges are stickers on the dashboard. Video taken by INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alex Villafania.
By Relly Carpio INQUIRER.net THE NEXT Open Gaming Meet has been set on May 10, Saturday at the airconditioned cabana on the rooftop of Residencia 8888 at Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center. "We usually hold the OGM on the first Saturday of the month, but to give a breather to us, since we had the last one on the third week of April, we're holding it a week later," said Victor Cabazor, one of the organizers. "The OGM is an informal gathering of tabletop games enthusiasts from various groups to try out new games and/or play favorite games, be it boardgames, miniature war games, RPGs (role-playing games), card games, or board wargames, with friends, new or old," Cabazor added. An entrance fee of P50 will be charged to help the organizers with the rental of the cabana. Simply inform the front desk upon arrival that you are going "to the tournament at the penthouse" to gain entry to the building.
NEUTRAL GROUNDS will hold a World of Warcraft Tabletop Tournament on April 27 at their Robinsons Galleria branch on the third level of the Expansion Mall. This constructed format tournament will have an entrance fee of P200. Registration is from 10-11:30 a.m., and early registrants will have the chance to win one of four World of Warcraft shirts in a raffle. Late registrants will suffer penalties to their standing in the tournament. Round 1 will start at 12 noon. Redemption Cards are not allowed. You may check out the Neutral Grounds site for more details.
By Relly Carpio INQUIRER.net MAGIC: THE GATHERING is set to release its Shards of Alara set on October 3. This is their large set, and was code-named "Rock" during its development process. The tagline for the set is "Five worlds share one fate." The first of three in the Shards of Alara block, this set will have 249 unique cards. Pre-release events are slated for September 20-21, with previews beginning at magicthegathering.com by the first of September. Bill Rose is the design lead with Devin Low as development lead. Magic: The Gathering is the most successful collectible card game (CCG) in the world, and is the basis for most of the newer CCGs in the market today. It boasts of over 6,000 different Magic cards and six million players in over 75 countries in the world.
THE HERO from Hell is back in action. Check out this ""Hellboy II: The Golden Army" courtesy of Solar-UIP Philippines. Did you love the first movie? And are you looking forward to this sequel? And have you read the Hellboy graphic novels and books? I've got to admit that I'm relatively new to the world of Hellboy, after enjoying the first movie, and have just begun saving up for the graphic novels. So let me know which ones you'd recommend.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THEY'VE been fans of Hasbro's Transformers toys and cartoons, but now they've had a change of heart and embraced the GoBots. TransFormers Philippines is now GoBots Philippines, complete with a logo and slogan change: "We changed our name, we changed our fandom, we are no longer Transformers Philippines…" and a link to http://transformersph.blogspot.com Of course, there's more to this than meets the eye. TransFormers Philippines is playing a week-long prank starting today, April Fool's Day. In an interview with hackenslash.net, TransFormers Philippines moderator Azrael Coladilla said the prank is targeted at the more specialized fans of the GoBots, a short-lived cartoon and toy series that was itself a minor success. He said they also did an anti-Transformers prank last year when the site "shifted allegiance" to the Decepticons, led by the evil Megatron. Like the Transformers that came after them, the GoBots involved a war between two groups of alien robots, the Guardians led by Leader-1, and the Renegades led by Cy-Kill. The cartoon and toy series only lasted from 1983 to 1986, compared to the Transformers line that started in 1984 and spawned a series of cartoons as well as last year's live-action movie. Coladilla said the Philippines has a small group of GoBots fans that has always wanted to have its own online community. "We do this prank every year but it doesn't mean it's only for laughs. We're actually planning to have a GoBots Day soon to feature the toys and cartoons owned by some of the fans," Coladilla said. Still, Coladilla said the TransFormers Philippines community will remain as it is and will continue to feature all toys and cartoons related to big robots and mecha. Of course, it will still be a Transformers world.