27 May 2007

Movie Review: Spider-man 3

I have watched this super-hyped blockbuster about a fortnight ago, but has delayed a review until today because I needed time to think about the plausibility of the characters' attitudes and emotions. These twisting feelings, prima facie, appear realistic, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it has been grossly exaggerated. But first, the other aspects of the movie.

The storyline sans the emotions has involved far too much of what a two- and a half-hour movie can handle. Many characters that play a rather important role had too little screen time, such as Eddie Brock a.k.a. Venom. (As a side note, some have commented that Venom was weak and defeated too easily, but I'm actually fine with that. In fact, I would rather have this than prolonged punching and throwing.) Flint Marko a.k.a. Sandman was another, having a powerful background story of a sick daughter needing money for medical treatment, yet has that part seemingly left hanging in the air (though I suppose future Spider-man movies will touch on this). The only part of the story I thought was nicely done was with Harry Osborn. In short, the storyline has too many branches and failed to develop most of them properly.

A consequence to this over-branching storyline (even if they were well developed) is its conclusion. Spider-man 3 suffers the same problem as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, i.e. too long an ending. (But you can hardly blame Peter Jackson: he inherited that problem.) I remember myself, while watching the end, wondering when the hell the movie was going to end.

Other aspects of the movie were good, such as the graphics and sound. The music didn't stand out, but it did its job in supporting the movie. The actions, in my opinion, were a bit excessive and at times I was bored with all those swinging and punching which never seem to end. The acting was okay... nothing outstanding, but nothing I am dissatisfied with. Tobey Maguire's portrayal of the emo Peter Parker was hardly convincing, but given the extreme contrast with the typical Peter Parker, I cannot really fault him. Then again, this could've been done on purpose.

So, back to the emotions, there are several parts to this: Spider-man's indulgence in his own fame and failure to comprehend the dynamics of his relationship with Mary Jane Watson; her reactions to his lack of understanding; and his actions and thoughts following the breakup.

Regarding the first, I think it failed terribly to convince me of its plausibility. Certainly, he can't possibly kiss Gwen Stacy without knowing that it will affect Mary Jane negatively. He would be too great a jerk not to realise this. But I think the other part - not fulfilling the role which Harry did instead - was quite possible, given Peter's responsibility and character.

As for her reactions to this, I think, with or without Harry's intervention, she would've acted the way she did. That is, her reaction is pretty much expected. So that's okay. But coming to Peter's emo state, I think it is again too far a swing. Sure, he would've felt angry, despaired and even vengeful, but for him to actually change his character totally, and seeking revenge in such a elaborate fashion is really going too far. But then, there's the symbiote to put the blame on.

So all in all, Spider-man 3 is pretty average as a movie, worth watching as part of a series, but on its own, it becomes those watch-it-if-you-have-no-other-movies-in-mind kind of movie for me.

06 May 2007

The Thing About the Brotherhood

The Intelligent Singaporean was one blog aggregator that was born shortly after the mrbrown incident and evolved with amazing speed into one of the local blogosphere's greatest assets. Created by inspir3d, its aggregation style is a one-man (or possibly one-team, since its operations are not well known to me) effort in collecting and publishing relevant blog entries. This is a remarkable task, considering that it is a daily effort and one has to use his intelligence and wisdom to sieve out good entries. More information about the Intelligent Singaporean can be obtained from this Singapore Angle interview.

Its style has varied over time before settling into the plain links we see today, and it remains largely an aggregator except for some occasional posts by a mysterious "Brotherhood". The Brotherhood posts appear rather frequently, approximately once every two or three days - almost as common as the "daily reads" that publishes the aggregated entries. Their articles are long by blog entry standards, and I find them quite difficult to read because of the obscure way the articles are written.

The way they operate doesn't really make things clearer. The Brotherhood consists of several online personae, and they are usually the ones to post the first comments on these Brotherhood posts. These comments, written in apparent coded messages, are sometimes incomprehensible to people outside of the Brotherhood, and it does add frustration to one who yearns for transparent and clear arguments.

Usually, I follow everything on the Intelligent Singaporean, but after reading the first few Brotherhood posts, I decided to skip them altogether. Apparently, I am not alone in not reading the Brotherhood posts: in the comments of this entry by Mr Wang Say So, he said that

"I really don't know much about who these "Brotherhood" people are, and the way they write, I don't think I will find out.

And somewhere further down, a person signing off as "Rob" said,

"Can we move on away from the Brotherhood stuff? There's a reason why I don't visit IS anymore."

That being said, I must emphasize that the aggregator part of the Intelligent Singaporean is still a very worthy read as it is before the Brotherhood appeared. And since inspir3d has allowed the Brotherhood to publish their articles there, I presume that their articles are generating a reasonable amount of readership, so perhaps their posts appeal to some other people. People like me can just skip the Brotherhood posts.

However, I do wonder if having the Brotherhood posts is the best arrangement. Their articles are essentially blog entries, and thus quite a different nature from the "daily reads". Wouldn't it be better to separate them into two different sections? For that matter, why doesn't the Brotherhood get a blog for themselves? Certainly, this will make the main aggregator site neater. Just imagine a newcomer to the blogosphere being introduced to the Intelligent Singaporean as the best aggregator for local sociopolitical issues in Singapore; it is quite likely that he/she will be confounded by the recommendation.

I have no say as to how the Intelligent Singaporean is run, and I certainly do not know the relationship between inspir3d and the Brotherhood (I suspect they are personal acquaintances). But I think the Intelligent Singaporean will serve its purpose better if the Brotherhood articles are not featured so prominently. At least, it should be given the same "status" as the normal aggregated posts.