STGCC 2014 Day 2: Mega Picture Post

DC Day! I was in something of a euphoric state through much of this day. Also got some halfway-decent photos of the big cosplay runway event! Thanks to everyone for letting me hang around to take photos, crack jokes and just be a generally annoying fanboy.

Kai Le as Jason Todd, Red Hood

The gang’s all here, thanks to Hot Toys.

“I utinni! you.” “I know.”

Jaye Tempest as Elizabeth from Bioshock 

Reno in a Bram Stoker’s Dracula-inspired outfit

Sara as street Cass Cain

Matt as “Rico Vrataski”, a gender-flipped version of Rita Vrataski from Edge of Tomorrow

Frasier as Huntress and Jenny as Black Canary

Cry for Justice

This one’s for the Helena/Dinah shippers

It’s no use, he’ll just wake up and re-live the day again!

Mini-Steve and Natasha

Batgirl finds herself stuck in this fiendish trap called the “Skyhook”

That smile is made of pure evil. Which is to say Sheril did a good job as the character because she is very nice in real life. 

“Sometimes, a bad headache can feel like a knife through your head.” 

Shaun shows off his T-800 makeup

Sandy! 

Crane!

Orbakat Cos as Scarlet Witch

Rachel Rynx as Hawkgirl

I hope he finds it soon.

The game is afoot.

Gun show courtesy of Jes as Wonder Woman and Ka as Power Girl! 

Rul as Nathan Drake! 

Statue re-enactment attempt #1

Lil Steve and Lil Natasha are welcome even if they aren’t DC.

First the Joker cripples Batgirl, then he takes the chattering teeth to her crotch. 

I call this one “a guy can dream” *goes to cry in my corner*

Joel Schumacher wasn’t the only one with Bat-nipples on the brain

A single tear. “MY PARENTS!!”

Rorschach realises my journal isn’t quite as interesting as his own.

Run little Barry! 

It’s Kie as Tim! 

Theodora as Black Widow

THERE WAS A SHAUN! Come and get it, it’s a running buffet!

Don’t nobody tell Frasier, but I think Sarah was the better Huntress.

Alright, they’re both great.

Zann as the smiley Squire! 

Statue re-enactment attempt #2

Don’t shoot the fanboy!

Cards against Bat-family

“You broke the fourth wall INTO THE WRONG UNIVERSE!!” 

Rex as Green Lantern – toting an actual green lantern! 

Fun fact: the Evil Queen never says “mirror mirror”, it’s always “magic mirror”. This is like “Beam me up, Scotty”.

Double the Loki

Don’t tell my pastor I bowed my knee to an outlaw spirit

Popular Australian cosplayer Evey Dantes as Supergirl. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see her in her Batgirl get-up.

Zack as Star-Lord is holding my tiny Baby Groot sculpture.

Magic-users unite! 

Isobel, Wanping and Charissa

Snowman already built.

Ollie & Helena

With a sketch by Cameron Stewart

That’s Rocky as DoFP Wolverine

The story of Bucky is about how one guy realised “Bucky” wasn’t all that cool a name and spent his next life trying to make up for that.

Scythe Scythe Baby

Don’t cross the streams!

So. Much. Abs. Envy.

Nathan Drake can’t grasp the concept of a superselfie

Tim & Conner 4eva!

The Predator macho hand clasp

Gwen as classic Star Lord

Batgirl has every right to be scared – there’s Raymond as the Joker, combining the New 52 Death of the Family look with the Bronze Age one.

Sakura Llama as Legolas!

Archers showdown!

Bat-family for life.

Jason’s revenge

The feels

Batman facepalm.

“Alas, poor Jason”. Isn’t “infinite jest” more the Joker’s thing though?

When the helmet goes on, the gloves come off.
Accidental whirly shot is probably one of my favourite photos of the day.

Get lost, Joker!

Not so cool when I wear it. No fair.

My Little Tony (yes, I’m way prouder of coming up with that than I should be.)

Cosplay runway time!

The Mass Effect trio

Goin’ Rogue

The Iron Giant is puppeteered by Orvis Evans. It is an amazing piece of craftsmanship.

Father-daughter day!

Cameron Stewart nailed the scowly face.

The “trophy case” in the hotel room some of my friends were staying at. I guess the glasses are Commissioner Gordon’s trophy.

STGCC 2014 Day 1: Mega Picture Post

Hey everyone, here’s part 1 of my requisite mega picture post for Day 1 of the Singapore Toy Games and Comics Convention. If you put your ear to the screen, you can almost hear the shameless fanboy squeeing! The highlight of the day was definitely having my Batgirl custom action figure officially approved by writer/artist Cameron Stewart.

Batgirl writer/artist Cameron Stewart approves of my custom action figure!

David Mack and me! 

FABULOUS!

Artist Andy Price shows us the cutie marks he draws on the Pony version cameos of him, his wife and writer Katie Cook

STGCC 2014 Preview Day

STGCC 2014 PREVIEW DAY
F*** is there for the launch of the annual pop culture event
Words and photos by Jedd Jong 4/9/14



This weekend, an estimated 45 000 fans will descend on the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre for the Singapore Toy Games and Comics Convention (STGCC), produced by Reed Exhibitions and held in collaboration with the New York Comic-Con. This morning, F*** was at The Vault bar for a taster of what’s going down at the convention. Cosplayers dressed as a Star Trek science officer, RoboCop and Spider-Man helped get everyone into geek gear.


Deejay and TV host Elliott Danker was the emcee, welcoming four of the 27 special guests onstage. These included sneaker artist and toy designer Matt “Sekure D.” Fabris, current lead artist on the Amazing Spider-Man comic series Humberto Ramos, Singaporean cosplayer Lenneth XVII and the artist behind the Famous Chunkies caricature series, Alex Solis.
Matt Fabris explains why sneakers are his chosen canvas, citing the popularity of basketball star Michael Jordan in the 80s-90s. “Shoes are just my thing,” he says, revealing that at last count he owns 450 pairs. Fabris went from studying finance and IT to pursuing his artistic passion, beginning as a graffiti artist in his home country of Australia. “It was just a hobby that turned into a job, so now instead of wearing a suit all day, I get to wear a tracksuit, pants, watch basketball and paint robots. It’s good.”


Humberto Ramos cites the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory as an indicator that geek culture has gone mainstream. He says that one of the downsides of being a professional comic book illustrator is that he no longer views comics as leisure and whatever little downtime he has, he wouldn’t want to spend reading them or going to a comic book store. However, the plus is that it has given him the chance to rub shoulders with renowned Marvel artists and writers like Joe Quesada, John Romita Jr. and Brian Michael Bendis, thus making him feel like “the luckiest fan ever.”

After spending over a year in Southern California, Lenneth has returned home. On the differences between the cosplay scene here in Singapore and in the States, she says that materials are a lot more accessible in the States but that the practise of bringing costumes to a tailor for sewing is more commonplace here. Known for her bishōnen (“beautiful youth boy”) cosplays, Lenneth has a secret weapon – her Golden Retriever Mako, who cosplays too. “He’s really good with cameras.  When I ask him to sit, he’ll just look at me,” she says. “Nothing is too challenging when you have a treat in your hand,” she adds with a laugh.

Alex Solis began his depictions of well-known comic book characters sporting rolls of fat in place of defined muscles to raise awareness about healthy eating and to amuse his young daughter. Solis weighs in on the increasing visibility of geek culture in today’s world, attributing some of that to the success of the Marvel Studios films. “I think pretty much all the Marvel movies that came out, stuff like that I feel like it touches everyone. Even now, with Guardians of the Galaxy, I see so much of that going on. Even stuff that you don’t really think about, like big world events, that touches everyone and helps people put their minds of the bad stuff that’s going on and that’s a good thing.”



Following the press conference, the artists demonstrate their skills – Ramos does a marker drawing of Spider-Man crawling along a web, Solis draws an overweight Spidey munching on a burger and Fabris paints a sneaker. F*** asks Ramos what he thinks of the Amazing Spider-Manmovies starring Andrew Garfield. He says that while he likes them, he would’ve preferred the films to hew closer to the comics, “but I know it’s not going to happen because the movie industry, they have to answer to a bigger audience who doesn’t care about the comic books. So, if I look at it that way, I’m okay with whatever they do.” He prefers the recent The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to the 2012 film and likes them both better than Spider-Man 3. Ramos concludes by saying he’s glad that more fans are coming to the comics via the movies. “People seem to realise more what I do for a living.”



STGCC 2014 will be held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre on 6-7 September. Tickets are priced at $19 for a one-day pass and $25 for a two-day pass. 

But Always (一生一世)

For F*** Magazine

BUT ALWAYS (一生一世) 

Director : Snow Zou
Cast : Nicholas Tse, Gao Yuanyuan, Du Haitao, Alice Li, Luo Shi, Qin Hao
Genre : Drama/Romance
Opens : 4 September 2014
Rating : TBA
Running time: 106 mins
 

         Paris may be the city of love, but many find New York pretty romantic too. Well, parts of New York, anyway. In this romantic drama from director Snow Zou, long-lost childhood sweethearts Yongyuan (Tse) and Anran (Gao) find themselves reunited in the Big Apple – she studying biomedical engineering in Columbia with a restaurant dishwasher job on the side and he branching out his self-made textile manufacturing business to the States. The film tracks their childhoods in rural Beijing in the 70s and early 80s, to when they journey separately to America in the 90s. Of course, it’s far from smooth sailing for the couple – having parted on less-than-amicable terms, Yongyuan arrives in New York to find his long-time paramour in a relationship with struggling artist and restaurant co-worker Michael (Qin). With the support of his friends and business partners (Du and Li) who have accompanied him to New York, Yongyuan sets about winning Anran’s heart once again.

            The subject of childhood sweethearts rekindling their romances has always been a popular one; the upcoming Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me revolves around this too. Writer-director Snow Zuo adds to this formula the element of lovers reuniting in a foreign land, but this is hardly the first film to do that either. But Always is pretty to look at, cinematographer Li Bingqiang favouring lots sunlight streaming in through the windows in soft focus. Its opening scenes, which feature moments like young Anran buying young Yongyuan a stick of haw fruit candy, are cute but also most certainly cloying. It’s all very earnest and innocently cheesy.

However, as But Always progresses, it wades into ever-deepening pools of melodrama – cue the maudlin pop ballad montages. Things go from being merely hokey to emotionally manipulative and actually kind of tasteless by the time the twist ending rolls around. It’s not even that shocking, given that the movie telegraphs this with its in medias res prologue. Very few films can open with a scene from its conclusion without giving the whole game away – Inception is the only one that immediately comes to mind. We’re probably going into mild spoiler territory so skip past this paragraph if you wish, but we’ll pose this question – remember the ending of Remember Me and how it was called “borderline offensive”? Yeah, you can bet But Always is going to ruffle at least a few feathers, particularly since it will also be released stateside.


But Always marks heartthrob Nicholas Tse’s return as a romantic leading man after spending the last several years of his film career in period pieces like Bodyguards and Assassinsand The Bullet Vanishes and action flicks like Invisible Target and The Viral Factor. He is suitably dreamy here, whether he’s serving breakfast in bed like all fantasy boyfriends do or when he’s chivalrously sheltering his gal in the rain. We also get to glimpse those rippling abs and there is a rather amusing moment during a love scene when the camera seems like it’s about to get lost in his scapulae. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to muster up the necessary chemistry with Gao Yuanyuan. She puts in a bland performance; all those distant forlorn glances not quite enough to sell the yearning and passion that is central to the story.

But Always tries to use its New York setting to distinguish itself from the other romantic dramas that come out of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Well, New York is just about the most-filmed city in the world. We get our main characters strolling through Central Park – which isn’t all that exciting, really. For the most part, anachronisms are avoided, but a few inevitably pop up. Speaking of the 90s setting, the flavour of that decade never really permeates the film, TV news coverage of the Hong Kong handover ceremony and of Princess Diana’s death being the most specific references we get – until that cringe-worthy ending. That’s when But Always crosses the line from being mawkish to being shameless.


Summary: It’s pretty to look at and Nicholas Tse turns up the charm, but this is a movie that gets cheesier and cheesier until it smacks the audience upside the head with its overwrought ending.
RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars
Jedd Jong 

Planes: Fire and Rescue

For F*** Magazine

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE

Director : Roberts Gannaway
Cast : Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Stacy Keach, Danny Mann, Julie Bowen, Wes Studi, Dale Dye, Teri Hatcher, Hal Holbrook
Opens : 4 September 2014
Rating : G
Running time: 84 mins

 

         This year, we’ve seen the release of some highly anticipated sequels: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to name a few. Here’s one that’s not so highly anticipated, the follow-up to last year’s Carsspin-off Planes. Facing trouble with his gearbox, cropduster-turned-racing-champ Dusty (Cook) is forced to give up racing. Dusty decides to train to become a firefighter, stepping in for aging fire truck Mayday (Holbrook). Reporting for duty at Piston Peak National Park, he is mentored by the gruff Blade Ranger (Harris) and attracts the over-zealous affection of new colleague Lil’ Dipper (Bowen).

            Following the box-office success of Planes, originally intended as a straight-to-video release, one imagines the discussion in the Disney boardroom went something like this: “okay, so we sold lots of tickets and merchandise on that Cars with Wings movie. Let’s rush out a sequel. What can happen in this one?”


“Uh, he becomes a firefighter?”
“What has that got to do with racing?

“Uh, nothing.”
“Great! Now go make that movie.”
            Disney has long been held as a bastion of quality family entertainment, but they’re most certainly not above churning out a production line flick for the sake of making a quick buck. Planes: Fire and Rescue combines another formulaic story with juvenile humour and a few quick, inappropriately dirty gags for the older audience members to snicker at. Just as in the previous film, the animation is not bad at all, given DisneyToon Studios’ reputation as the B-team. The kids will go in for the bright colours and there’s a white water rapids sequence that’s somewhat cool. However, the film fails to muster up any real energy or sense of peril. This is a movie about fighting fires and yet it is largely bereft of thrills or any semblance of danger. Kids want to be excited and wowed too; at least a few will find this film lacklustre – especially when compared with the airborne action of the afore-mentioned How to Train Your Dragon sequel.

            Believe us when we say this: yet again, your personal tolerance threshold for puns will be tested. One of the VIPs at a mountain resort re-opening is “Boat Reynolds”, Dusty exclaims “I kicked As-ton Martin up there!” and apparently, a “George Lexus” produced “Howard the Truck”. Just as the first film had its cringe-inducing national stereotypes with racing planes from various nations, here we get Wes Studi as the Native American helicopter Windlifter, speaking entirely in stock platitudes. There’s not much to say about the voice acting. Dane Cook tries to sound earnest and it’s easier not wanting to punch the notoriously unlikeable comedian without seeing his face. Ed Harris does the “harsh taskmaster who actually has a tragic back-story” thing fine; he’s Ed Harris. Julie Bowen squeaks through all her lines as the clingy, borderline stalker-ish Dipper. The vocal cameos by real-life Hollywood couple Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara as two elderly RVs celebrating their anniversary lends the slightest modicum of charm to the often-grating proceedings. “CHoPs”, a take-off on 70s cop show CHiPs but starring two helicopters, did get a chuckle out of this reviewer.

            The film opens with a surprisingly solemn title card that reads “dedicated to the courageous firefighters around the world who risk their lives to save the lives of others” as noble-sounding horns play in the background. What follows are talking planes, bad puns and a moth-eaten story. We have the utmost respect for firefighters and other emergency servicemen and women – if we were firefighters, we’d be feeling at least a little insulted. At one point, Dipper lowers her retractable wing pontoon, squeezing Dusty next to her. “Oh yeah, they’re real,” she purrs. Real classy, DisneyToon Studios. Real classy.

Summary: Solid animation can’t make up for how rushed, formulaic and alternately unfunny and lowbrow Planes: Fire and Rescue is. They can’t all be Frozen.
RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong