My Recipe for a Good Live-Action Adaptation

For the past few years, there were several releases of live-action movies based on Manga, Anime, and Video Games. It has been a hit-or-miss opportunity for every production wherein big budget doesn’t always equate to a great movie. Here, I’ll try to give my two cents on what it takes to translate these media properly. Just a disclaimer, I didn’t graduate from a film or literature related course. These are just purely my opinion, and I based them on the live action movies that I’ve seen so far.

Resembling Cast

It’s one thing to give an actor or actress a make-up and hairstyle to match the character that he or she is portraying, and it’s another thing to pick a cast member who looks just like the character, effortlessly. The latter is quite difficult to fulfill, but when the production pulls it off, it will leave a lasting impression to the audience. One best example I can think of would be Christian Howard who plays Ken Masters in Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist. One look at the guy, and you instantly imagine him executing a Shoryuuken. Beyond the looks, the guy can perform martial arts moves that are convincing enough to emulate the reference character.

Speaking of martial arts moves, picking Takeru Satoh was a perfect choice to play as Kenshin Himura for the Rurouni Kenshin movies.  He’s a trained athlete, and he can do some insane acrobatics combined with elegant swordsmanship. You can see on his execution that he’s the guy for the job. Don’t believe me? Watch this video…

As for an example of a bad casting, you can look no further than Dragonball Evolution. Among other things that this movie had done, the casting alone was a complete mess for me. Watching on mute will leave you confused who’s who. Even Piccolo who can be worked around through proper prosthetic failed to deliver.

Loyalty To Story

One big reason that the fans got hooked with the source material was probably the story. There were events that made the series memorable, and they are looking forward relive these moments. Of course, there are parts that need to be changed or omitted due to the constraint that movies can only run up to three hours, but it should be done in a seamless manner. Kind of like what was done in Death Note. The events were modified, but it still made sense to the overall story. I actually think that the L in the live-action was quite smarter than his anime/manga counterpart.

Now, if only the Tekken movie did not happen. Seriously, the good plot of the video game franchise was murdered by this B-Movie.  The monumental moment where Heihachi threw Kazuya on the cliff was not presented, heck even the story behind the devil gene was not there. Christie’s not using Capoeira, Marshall Law not using Jeet-Kune-Do (Blasphemy!), and the list goes on. The only thing that the movie did right was picking Lateef Crowder as Eddy, but hey, that’s for the Resembling Cast criteria.

Familiar Cinematography

It’s an awesome feat if you’ll be able to remember that shot that exactly captures the same image that you’ve seen in a manga or an anime. Such moments will give you nostalgic fun. Also, if the director can get a clearer view of highlighting the character’s resembling features and skills, it gives the viewers the feel that this medium had been loyal to the source material. Take a look at Rurouni Kenshin (yes, I really love the film, and I’m going to cite it more than once). You can see from the camera angles how Kenshin’s speed and agility were emphasized with beautiful rope works that enabled the actor to lean, bend, and high-jump like the original character.

I understand that the filmmakers have a certain liberty to play with a franchise in the way that they know best. However, I believe that it’s just proper not to ruin that franchise with such style. After all, it was the stuff that the source material was made of that gave it its popularity. Disregarding these factors may prove to be disrespectful to the fans. I hope they will learn from the indie and Asian movie scene on how to do things right. ‘Til then, I recommend the following movies for good samples of live-action adaptations. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Good Live-Action Movies:

  • Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy
  • Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist
  • Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe)
  • Gatchaman
  • Shinobi (Live-Action for Basilisk)
  • Kamen Rider The First and Kamen Rider The Next
  • Garo: Red Requiem
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A Night of Indie Music – Dirty Deeds 2 at Route 196

I went to Route 196 last Wednesday with my friend stump3d to watch some indie bands including my college orgmate, Jai Barrientos. This was the second event that was produced by DiRTY DEEDS Productions, with the first one held a couple of years back. All five bands had a distinct beat and well diverse types of genre, from techno to hard rock, that will suit the taste of any music enthusiast. Here’s a glimpse of their performances.

BPM

Lazaro

Mr.Dirty

Parada

Jai Barrientos

After the program, some of the audience had the chance to jam with the band members. It was a fun night! As for the place, the space is just right to enjoy the band up-close. The ambiance is cozy, and the drinks are quite cheaper compared to other music bars. I recommend that you try to visit the place for a night. A lot of the performers here are indie musicians so you’ll hear original compositions, but there are performers who do covers if that is your thing. Just check Route 196’s facebook page for daily updates of the bar’s guest performers. Let’s support the local indie music industry! (~^_^)~

 

DiRTY DEEDS 2 @ Route 196

Dusted – One Element, Multiple Perspectives

Over one and a half years ago, I wrote a blog post about my experience on going to an art exhibit. It was enriching and enigmatic (in a fun way) at the same time. The recent one that I attended, entitled Dusted  was no different in terms of its impact to me. The theme revolves around earthen materials presented in a wide variety of media and allegories. Based on the exhibit’s write-up, it aims to wake the Philippine Society out of its years of status quo, and calls for reflection. While keeping the goal in mind, I tried my “non-artist” eyes to see what I see, and let my mind sew my own interpretation. I will give a disclaimer early on that I didn’t undergo any formal training in fine arts so some of my observations may be far-fetched from what a true artist will immediately see, and some of the terms I used maybe lost in context since I only depend on the stuff that I’ve read before (corrections are welcome if you find any).  This post focuses more on my personal perspective and experience :).

One Element

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Even if the theme is solely based on earthen materials, it didn’t stop the creativity of the artists to utilize it in a form that they want to use. The result was a myriad of visual expressions. There were sculptures, paintings ranging from something that seems non-objective (since I can’t recognize any real-world objects as its basis) to something abstract, and even a video of a zoomed-in view of a road while the artist is riding a tricycle. The formed pattern was amazing.

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There are sewn images of overhead  maps paired with cloth with embroidered patterns. You’ll also find images with some hand-drawn lines and coal etches (for my lack of better term), all of which were printed in grayscale, which I consider as another statement for the theme since the different shades of black and gray are close connotation of dust and other similar materials.

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Another artwork uses soil, a mat, and a pillow. Upon a closer look, the pillow has a design that somehow resembles a tombstone, so I’m guessing it’s a representation of a grave. It’s quite fascinating actually.

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The way that this exhibit was presented kinda reminds me of a game jam, where the participants will make a game based on a specific theme. The variation of the output was wide and unpredictable in a fun way.

Multiple Perspectives

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One of the artists asked me of my observations on the different artworks. If you’ve read my blog post before, I have this fear of not deciphering the message it’s trying to convey, but the question was just a simple query of observation. For instance, looking at an artwork of rocks hanging in threads made me think that this will make a good picture from afar to give the illusion that the rock is floating. For the artist that I’ve talked to (not the one who made the artwork above), she said she was fascinated with the shadows formed by the hanging threads. After she pointed that out, I was amazed myself, but maybe in a different way because what I saw somehow resembles a 3D graph that can be formed by a certain mathematical equation. Pardon my geek side XD. However, my point here is that with one base element in mind, the artists brought the idea to life in so many forms and different perspectives. It never fails to impress that they have such keen eyes in paying attention to details and a creative mind to express thoughts in an unorthodox manner.

It was fun to see the irony on this artwork. Here are sculpted soaps with carved words, “maputi” (white), “makinis” (smooth), and “mabango” (fragrant). These are the benefits that are brought by the depicted object, yet I find it ironic since the material used was clay which texture and color pertain more to dirt. If I extend my thoughts beyond what I see, this can represent people trying to conceal their dark side by acting clean and innocent.

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The combination of the image of a woman and an apple instantly struck me with the idea of the divine creation. I interpret the red lines as the taint of sin referencing the events when the forbidden fruit was eaten.

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First thing that comes to my mind when I saw this was Jenga. Yeah, it’s just me being really fond of games. If I’ll play with the concept further, I could link this to government projects not being able to hold its expected lifespan due to corrupted budgets, like a Jenga brick being removed from the overall structure.

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How about you? What things have you pondered on while looking at the artworks? I know my pictures didn’t justify the beauty of these works (spare me for I’m just using my Xperia Play), so if you find the time and these creations piqued your curiosity, I suggest you visit the exhibit located in NCCA Building, Intramuros, Manila.  The exhibit runs until the 30th of September. While you’re at it, you can roam around Intramuros as well. There are lots of sites to behold. (~^_^)~

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Ali Aldaba
Ralph Barrientos
Brisa Dominguez
Joseph Gabriel
Clara Herrera
Kulay Labitigan
Catcat Mendoza
Katherine Nuñez
Issay Rodriguez
Luigi Singson

Curated By: Noëll EL Farol

My Reasons on Why I Chose to Purchase-Lock on Games

Video game sales and bundles have made games more accessible and affordable to players than ever before. A lot of  gamers (guilty as charged) wait patiently for the next sale extravaganza of our favorite app store and hope that the games on our wishlist will be discounted enough to be bought in one purchase cart. With this, it may seem inevitable that our purchases will continue to pile up until we have a lot more games than our free time will allow. We can rationalize that we’re just availing this sort of “rare” deals that we don’t want to miss the chance to buy these great games, regardless of when we’ll play it (i.e. if we ever get the chance to play it). We can also say that we’re doing this for charity. I just hope it’s part of the real purpose. For such reasons, I just reached the point that I don’t want to give excuses just to succumb to my pleasure of getting more and more bargains without enjoying my purchases.  I stopped buying games since January except if the game is part of my research or part of a game engine bundle which I consider a good investment as a game developer. Here are some things that motivated me to have my purchase-lock.

As a Game Developer, I Want My Games to be Played

This is the top reason that really struck me. I’ve experienced the hardships of being a game developer, but I strive and continue to do what I do for this is my passion. This is with the hope that beyond materializing my ideas, gamers will notice and appreciate what I’ve made. I read this article from polygon where it was mentioned that:

The only thing worse than paying less for a game on sale is to not pay anything, and even if you don’t play the games you buy you can comfort yourself by saying you’re helping to fund the creation of that company’s next venture.

Point taken. The company really needs the funds to keep the operations going, but depending on the monetary support alone will prove to be ephemeral in terms of its expansion, let alone survival. More than finances, the company needs followers and loyal supporters who will continue to play the games and spread the word of the quality that the developers deliver.  With more and more games getting released everyday, it is essential to make a mark with your game and create a reputation from there. And it is not achieved by merely pulling off a money-shot trailer or good webpage synopsis. People have to play your games in order to recognize that it’s good, and they get their money’s worth. Who knows, maybe it will make them buy your next games at full price since you’ve already earned their seal of approval.

My Money is Better Spent on Something Else That I Will Enjoy or Consume Sooner

Sure, you’ll get discounts on buying these games, but I can’t consider that money as actually saved if you don’t get to play the game at all, you basically just threw it out (again, unless you really did it for charity). I apply this principle in everything that I buy. If I won’t use it soon, then might as well keep it in my budget instead. I’ll never know when I’ll need the money for other stuff like emergency bills, vacations, meetups, or even game dev materials that I treat as a valuable investment. Besides, most of the best games  reappear in future deals, sometimes with a cheaper price than the previous sale.

Secure My Savings While I’m Still Operating on Active Income

I only got my first ever credit card last year. Actually, it’s a debit card, because I don’t want to have unsettled bills hanging for a while. The interest rate may go crazy if you don’t pay attention. The ease of online transactions made anyone susceptible to splurge on online shops. The next thing you know, you’re already in a big debt. To be honest, my purchase rate for bundles were quite high for the first couple of months of my debit card. The online transfer of funds really made it convenient for me to avail such great deals. Good thing I’m keeping records of my personal finances and I observed the sudden spike of expenses. I knew I had to halt at one point. Then I read this article from Kotaku which motivated me to start my purchase lock. I even sold my PS2, Nintendo DS Lite, and PSP since I just have too many games to play, and I wasn’t able to play them as often as I used to. Maybe I’ll loosen myself on spending if I acquire passive income that pretty much covers all my expenses. How to do that is reserved for another blog, but for starters, you might want to check out Cash Flow board game, created by the prominent businessman, investor, and self-help author, Robert Kiyosaki.

I Just Want to Enjoy the Games That I Bought

Well, I have to admit; this is just me being me. I’m really bothered of the pile of games that are waiting in line for completion. Sometimes, it affects my enjoyment of playing my current lineup of games. I skipped some secret parts which are difficult to discover or consult the FAQ when a challenge becomes too time-consuming to accomplish. Fez for example, had a lot of beautiful puzzles, but solving them through context clues scattered in separate worlds takes considerable amount of time to figure out so I had to consult some guides to solve it. I’m quite torn with this, because you shouldn’t care that much on how long you play a game if you totally enjoy it, but I always say that there’s a vast sea of great games waiting to be played, and as a gamer and game developer. I even check the site How Long To Beat just to have a rough idea of how much time I will consume on the next game that I will play. Again, this is just me, if you really enjoy staying on a single game, then by all means do it. Don’t compromise with what you enjoy. 😀

There’s a TON of Free Games

Who doesn’t want free goods, let alone free games? I observe that this is not just the era of bundles and sales, it’s also the era of FREE games. This is not limited to indie games, but also to old AAA titles. EA Origins have started their On The House section that gives one free game each month. They also gave the complete Sims 2 game and expansions for free. Other gaming platforms like GOG and Steam are doing the same. All of this also stack up to the pile of shame, and even if it’s free, it’s far from something to be ignored. Fallout, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead 2 are just some of the titles that were distributed free of charge. All you have to do is monitor the corresponding sites to keep yourself updated with the latest deals. I’m actually putting them in higher priority above some of my purchased games. On top of that, mobile games have spewed more and more free to play games that will take a lifetime to try it all. If you’re not very particular with games and all you’re aiming for is to keep yourself entertained, then you can get that without spending a single penny.

I wrote this just to give readers something to ponder on. I share the enjoyment of availing the discounted games, and it’s a lot of fun when you’ve played one that you know is far more valuable than what you paid for. Just remember though, your money is well spent if you actually enjoyed what you bought. I believe the game industry doesn’t just rely on monetary support. It’s the continued patronage of gamers that moves the industry to continuously evolve, as new hardware are developed, new concepts are explored, and new realms are created. In the end, I hope you guys buy the games that you will really have fun and at least get your money’s worth. If you do, it doesn’t hurt to write to the developer on how much you love the game. Seriously, the developers appreciate that. Until then, happy gaming! (~^_^)~