Stardust – The movie you just can’t miss for 2007

November 27, 2007

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Stardust

Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriters: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Matthew Vaughn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer and Neil Gaiman
Genre: Romantic fantasy adventure
Running time: 130 min.

Before we proceed, let me make this absolutely, crystal clear to you: everyone’s a critic and opinions are like arses – everyone has one. Dig long and hard enough and you’ll probably find a critic to nitpick any movie apart, even one as entertaining as this. If you’ve been prevaricating and teetering on whether to watch this movie or get the DVD: don’t. Just go out there and plunk down your eight bucks and enjoy one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Imagine if you will, an adult fairy tale with all the naughty bits adults take for granted thrown in with absolutely hilarious humour and the sort of romantic tale that will make hardened men smile and perhaps, possibly mutter or grudgingly nod approval and you get Stardust.

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Tristan (Charlie Cox) is a bit surprised that the fallen star is actually rather cute.

Based on the award winning Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, the movie follows the plot of the book for the most part but unfortunately had to snip quite a few bits to adapt what was essentially ten hours worth of reading material into a two hour movie. Nevertheless, the movie itself remains faithful to the spirit of the book, albeit with a happier ending. The movie is actually about one Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) and his adventure which starts off as a pretty mundane event in a backwater village called Wall. While being for the most part unremarkable, Wall however gets its name from the fact that it’s actually bordering a stone wall that leads into another world, a fantasy realm called Stormhold though most remain oblivious to the fact except that crossing the wall is verboten.

As with lads his age, Tristan’s trying to woo Victoria (Sienna Miller), the hottest lady in the village to no avail since his romantic rival is the sort of smarmy wanker that women seem to claw desperately over and which we all remember in our high school days as the guy with the looks and the bling. However, Tristan does get one chance – he has to bring back a fallen star within a week before Victoria’s birthday and she’ll marry him instead. Unfortunately, there’s a complication: the star fell over the wall into Stormhold. Oops.

After unsuccessfully attempting to get past the guard at the wall and getting the stuffing beaten out of him, he gets help from his dad who admits that he did manage to cross the wall in his youth and er…sowed his oats so to speak with Tristan being the end result. Suitably informed, Tristan then gets a gift that was waiting for him when he was brought over in a baby basket as a baby: a letter from his mother and a magical candle that once lit can teleport the user over vast distances.

He does manage to get to the fallen star, though he encounters complications. Like said fallen star being actually a really good looking woman called Yvaine (Claire Danes). Being a literal fellow, he kidnaps the star and hopes to drag her home to present her to Victoria as a gift. At this point, Tristan realises that Yvaine is more than a handful as she’s droll and sassy and entirely unhappy with her situation at being knocked out of the sky and being kidnapped the moment she lands. While Claire Danes is American, she carries off a flawless British accent with superb comic timing and classic English understatement.

Unfortunately, Tristan isn’t the only chap after her as a trio of chronologically challenged witches led by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) are after her heart since nibbling on it can reverse the aging process and make them young again. Michelle Pfeiffer hams it up as a sociopathic witch with an obsession for her looks that makes most divas today look sane by comparison as she runs all over Stormhold chasing after the star and Tristan.

Yvaine is also being hunted by a trio of princes, all of whom have to snag a necklace about her neck that would pronounce one of them as the King of Stormhold. In a rather literal display of office politics taken to their logical extremes, the Stormhold monarchy requires that a prospective king cack every last competitor to the throne before he can take the job. That means every prince is out to kill the others and get the necklace on Yvaine which leads to a surprising amount of carnage played to black comedic effect.

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An electrifying experience with Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro)

Thus follows an entertaining two hours as Yvaine warms up to Tristan despite their rather awkward initial meeting followed by everyone chasing after the duo. Robert De Niro plays a hilarious role here as the captain of a sky ship with a rather unusual pastime that he keeps quiet about.

While the star studded cast plays their roles to the hilt with little to fault, Claire Danes carries the whole show as she is able to depict guileless innocence with sassy charm. The special effects are extensive but subtle and the best part is that they’re not there to impress you, but to simply smooth the way into making the movie itself a believable suspension of reality.

While it’s a fairy tale, it’s an adult one which doesn’t flinch from the violence when it has to. You get quite a variety of fatalities ranging from people falling from tall buildings, people drowning, getting kebabbed by cutlasses and one chap, actually two with their heads split open like coconuts with a hatchet. Currently, Stardust has been constantly compared as an upgunned version of the Princess Bride but that’s like trying to differentiate mandarins from oranges. The movie crosses several genres, and yet manages to combine it into a cohesive whole. As it stands, it’s definitely something highly recommended even if you don’t like to watch romance, comedies or fantasy movies in any combination. Stardust is one of the few exceptions.

 

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A stellar body called Yvaine(Claire Danes) drops into Stormhold for a visit.



Megazone 23 – Himitsu Kudasai by Miyasato Kumi

June 22, 2007

Hearken ye younglings and gather round to listen to that most ancient of OVAs, the basis of many anime today – Megazone 23 and listen unto that most sacred and popular of songs by Miyasato Kumi – Himitsu Kudasai.


A rare music video of Miyasato Kumi singing Himitsu Kudasai live. This is the editor’s cut – there are definite differences in pitch, timing and minor rearrangement of lyrics.


Himitsu Kudasai as seen in Megazone 23 Part II with commensurate mass mayhem and senseless destruction as well as property damage.


200 Pounds Beauty starring Kim A-Joong

June 12, 2007

Brethren, we interrupt our regular fare of mass mayhem with a news flash of immense (pardon the pun) proportions. While it’s only finally hit the local scene now, the movie 200 Pounds Beauty has played to rave reviews in its native Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong to name but a few countries. While I’m normally one to say a movie isn’t a movie without liberal lashings of heavy bolter fire and a body count in the quadruple digits, this particular movie has managed to entertain and tug at the cardio-pulmonary strings in a rather touching manner. Kim A-Joong plays the part of one ghost singer Hanna who makes do as the voice behind a good looking but absolute arse of a singer who can’t screech a note to save her life called Ammy. Kim’s acting is as good as her singing and you really can’t help falling for the plight of horizontally disadvantaged Hanna who has the voice of an angel and the body (Kim in a fat suit) of an Emperor class titan. Subjected to constant humiliation, she finally goes into hiding and ends up seeking the help of a plastic surgeon and she goes for the works – high definition lipoplasty, mandibular jaw reduction, septoplasty, silicone implants, a gastrocnemius muscle reduction, brachioplasty – basically everything in the inventory and she appears after a year as Jenny, super slim, super gorgeous and able to sing just like the missing Hanna . If not for anything else, you’ve got to see Kim’s rendition of the old single Maria in the movie. The way she hits the high notes and sustains it without a hitch is amazing. If you get the chance – get the soundtrack. I’m not one for K-Pop but three tracks are worth every credit – the aforementioned Maria sung by Kim, the wistful tune Byul (Star in Hangul) and the cheery Beautiful Girl. It is by order of the Commissariat that you go forth and watch this movie and then obtain the Soundtrack with all due haste!

In case you still have doubts as to the the sanity of the author in recommending what is essentially a romantic comedy in a site devoted to combat tactics for Imperial Guard officers, here’s the following Youtube link for Kim’s single Maria to convince you otherwise! There also additional interesting bits of footage found of Kim of her receiving her well deserved Best Actress award at the 44th Daejong Awards in Korea as well as a somewhat aurally hazardous comparison of her version of Maria as well as one by a Korean singer named Ivy.


The original music video for Kim A-Joong’s cover of Maria by Blondie


A comparison between Kim A-Joong’s version of Maria with another sung live by Ivy at the 44th Daejong awards. Bring your earmuffs along – Ivy screeches the song out like a banshee.


A behind the scenes view of Kim practising “Beautiful Girl”. By the God-Emperor…-_-;


A hilarious cutscene of her newfound beauty when she manages to end up in a fender bender and yet manages to charm everyone.


Kim A-Joong practising for the performance of Maria


The Canticle of Absolution of the Grey Knights

October 14, 2006



Et Templars Mysteria aux Ordo Malleus

Praise the Emperor for his sacrifice,
as He endures so shall we.
We who are Hunters of Daemons,
shall strive in his name eternally.

We the Order of the Hammer,
shall delve into the Dark Shadows.
We shall seek out the Tainted,
we shall pursue the Vilest Evil.

It is we who stand guard,
our Eternal Watch shall not fail.
For we are the Ordo Malleus!

We Grey Knights are the Hammers,
we slay the Darkness without fear.
Founded in great mystery we were,
Chapter six hundred and sixty six.

Though on Titan we be hidden,
yet our eyes encompass the Galaxy.
No Devil shall elude our gaze,
no Daemon shall elude its Fate.

We shall be the Keepers Immortal,
all Secrets shall be our Knowledge.
We are the Guardians of Mankind!

Caution and secrecy are our code,
watchfulness and patience are our way.
Hidden from the Eyes of Chaos,
we strike without warning or dread.

Though we find ourselves in Shadows,
no Blackness will enter our Hearts.
No treachery will touch our souls,
no pride will sully our thoughts.

We shall be Pure amongst Impurity,
we shall be Innocence amongst Guilt.
We are the Imperium’s Hidden Saviours!

We are spread across the Heavens,
our watch is untiring and ceaseless.
The Emperor shall guard our Souls,
as we Guard those of others.

Our will shall be our weapons,
our faith shall be our armour.
Our minds will be secure fortresses,
no Temptation will weaken our resolve.

Though unnumbered lurking perils await us,
our blades will ever be ready.
For we are the Emperor’s Vengeance!

Masters of all weapons are we,
no defence exists against our wrath.
With the Nemesis shall we fight,
with an Aegis to shield us.

In bloodshed shall we save Mankind,
Death shall be our Everlasting Creed.
War Unending shall be our Fate,
in battle shall we be steeped.

We shall be unstinting in Hatred,
we shall hunger for Holy War.
For we are Swords of Justice!

When all flee in hideous disarray,
strong and sound shall we stand.
Cowardice is wholly unknown to us,
our courage comes from the Emperor.

Unbowed and unshaken against all foes,
we shall claim victory with blood.
Steady and surely we hunt them,
those who dare oppose our wrath.

Death stalks us in many forms,
the grotesque and the utterly inhuman.
We are the Bringers of Hope!

Bloody battles unending constantly await us,
redemption the reward for our vigilance.
When Possession rears its unspeakable head,
ours is the blade that descends.

When Empyrean Horrors invade our realm,
our Exorcisms shall hurl them back.
There is no Chaos spawned horror,
which can resist our indomitable anger.

With undaunted courage we shall prevail,
no arcane magicks shall overcome us.
We are the Bearers of Victory!

No corruption shall blemish our Galaxy,
no Immaterial Fiend shall be spared.
No Malevolent Spirit will oppose us,
no Creation of Sin shall survive.

No Unholy Deed shall go Unpunished,
all Blasphemous Acts shall be Atoned.
No Spawn of Misrule shall avoid us,
all are banished to the Void.

Nothing shall evade our Cleansing Fire,
not Daemon or Spawn or Renegade.
For we are Mankind’s Divine Blade!

Heavenly Blessings are laid upon us,
the Warp is ours to Tame.
Though Sorceries shall be against us,
no Witchcraft will bring our Doom.

Though Spell or Incantation blocks us,
the Emperor shall see us Victorious.
No Hex can overcome our determination,
our resolve is strong as steel.

Sigils and wards shall watch over us,
prayers shall serve as our Guide.
For we are the Emperor’s Chosen!

There is much darkness awaiting us,
yet the Emperor lights our path.
Falsehood surrounds us at every turn,
yet no Traitor shall confound us.

No despicable trickery will thwart us,
no Damnation shall bring us low.
There is no peace for us,
for an eternity we will strive.

Though mere mortals in His service,
everlasting shall be our True Duty.
Et Imperator Invocato Diabolis Daemonica Exorcism!

The Canticle of Absolution of the Grey Knights, known as the Six Hundred and Sixty Six Secret Words. Source: corrupted datafile 0/223/Inq\6a


The Commissar – Blood, Steel and Guts

September 9, 2006

“You’re a Guard Commissar. I’ve heard stories. Stories of ruthlessness. Brutality. Iron rule and unflinching punishment.”

“I’m all of these things,” said Gaunt. “When I have to be”

+++Major Landerson, Gereon Free Militia to Colonel Commissar Ibram Gaunt. Traitor General by Dan Abnett+++

A commissar was not a tactician. He was not a strategist. He could not fine-tune an assault or design the perfect defence. But when the Guard needed leadership, such things were irrelevant. Commissars led when the Guardsmen needed to be led from the front into the teeth of a foe a colonel and his officers could not face. When there was no room for tactics or skill or anything but sheer bloody-minded, fanatical bravery, the commissars took the lead.

+++The Statue Garden, Chapter 18 of the Grey Knights by Ben Counter+++

Imperial Guard CommissarExceptional recruits that excel in Stormtrooper training from the Schola Progenium are seconded to the Commissariat to be trained as commissars. Remaining outside the standard command structure of the Imperial Guard, Commissars have the right and authority to summarily execute anyone without trial if they are deemed to be found wanting. In Dawn of War, Imperial Guard Commissars are the backbone of your Guardsmen squads, providing courage and fearsome leadership when it is found wanting.

Commissars cost 80 Resources and 40 Power and are available in two forms – as part of the Command Squad and as an individual leader. Each Commissar has 375 hitpoints and is equipped with a powersword and laspistol. Each of them packs Commander class armour, rendering them immune to most conventional forms of firepower except for Plasma weaponry and Heavy Bolters. In combat, they can perform a disruption attack with their Power Swords to scatter enemy units.
Available once an Infantry Command is built, Commissars are available in two forms – as an addition to an Imperial Guard Command Squad or as an individual offer from the Command Centre.
An individual Commissar can be attached to a Guardsman, Ogryn or Kasrkin squad as a leader. As part of a squad, the Commissar confers increased morale and a minor self healing ability to the squad. Technically speaking, he adds 2.5 hit points per second to a squad’s healing rate, allowing them to heal faster. For a standard Imperial Guardsman squad, this means he boosts the regeneration rate up to 3 hit points per second. In addition, he adds 200 Morale Points to the squad he joins but does not affect morale regeneration rates. At Tier 2, he can execute a member of the squad to give a temporary bonus of resetting morale to maximum and doubling the rate of fire to all Guardsmen, Kasrkin and Ogryn within a small radius from the Commisar. This becomes a viable strategy by constantly boosting the fire rates of your Guardsmen for a marginal cost of 20 Resources to replace the executed Guardsman. One currently used strategy is to pack a unit of Guardsmen with a Commisar with the squad carrying Plasma Rifles in conjunction with a Psyker to deal with vehicles though this method is only to be advocated if you have superior numbers on your side.

In Tier 0, Imperial Commissars are best used individually to tie up a squad on their own in conjunction with a Guardsman unit providing fire support. Once the Commissar gets injured or halfway down his healthbar, he should rejoin a Guardsmen squad to avoid enemy units focusing fire on him. In packed melees with close combat capable troops, a Commisar should charge in with a squad in Melee mode such as against the Orks and against Chaos Raptor units. Alone – he will be massacred in melee. As the enemy begin packing more anti armour and anti elite troop weaponry, Commissars should change from being a close combat and assault unit to a leadership role with their Execute ability.
In the Command Squad, a Commissar represents a quickly reinforced unit with only slightly inferior stats to a Priest, doing approximately 85% of a Priest’s maximum melee damage while still retaining their ranged lethality with their laspistol. Their primary advantage is that they only take 25 seconds to be added to the Command Squad, representing quick reinforcements should your Command Squad take casualties in combat. Their ranged damage is also the best after the General and some tacticians advocate a Command Squad consisting of 3 Commissars, a Priest and a General set at the Ranged Stance to tear down listening posts and provide ranged fire support in the middle and late tiers of the game.


One last duel once more

September 8, 2006

He slammed back into the bulkhead wall, hard enough to hear something crack. Celes crumpled to the floor, seemingly unconscious. Her mind floated in and out in a hazy fog. She found it hard to focus, blood caked the back of her head and ran down fresh and hot, soaking her collar and armour.

Pain.Hurt.

Pain.Hurt.

She tasted blood on her lip. Her teeth felt loose. Celes pupils narrowed. She begun hyperventilating.

Pain.Blood.Hurt.

Pain.Blood.Hurt.

PAIN!!!! BLOOD!!! HURT!!! KILL!!!

KILLL!!! KILLL!!!!!!! KILLL!!!!

Something in Celes snapped. Something deep inside her roared, and quite simply lost all sense of reason. There was a blood curdling howl from something behind him. As if something, some animal had lost all sense of reasoning.

He turned and looked back, and the once confident Porhen killing machine had a look of fear in his eyes. Celes was virtually unrecogisable. She was hunched over, breathing hard. Her hair was tangled and mussed, but one eye was visible through her blonde locks. Her pupils were dilated, bloodshot, and crazed. Celes’ fingers were clenched until the knuckles were bone white and every muscle in her body was corded like steel cabling. She gave a banshee roar of fury, the bloodlust coursing through her veins.

The killing machine could only whisper one word. He had heard of such Loyalists before, but never seen one. Just one had been known to massacre entire platoons of conventional infantry. “Berserker…”

Max had never seen her in such a state before. It was an awesome and terrible sight to behold.

And that was all the respite he had. Celes gave a blood curdling howl and leaped at him, sword swinging away with unnatural strength, ferocity and speed. The man barely blocked a viciously swung swordblow before another came in, again, and again. Her teeth were bared in a rictus grin of berserk fury. Desperate, the man timed his parry and gave her a hard uppercut that would have stunned a bull. Celes took the impact, blood and teeth spewing out in a hail of gore. Not that it fazed her. She not only shrugged it off, it seemed to only make her madder and increase the ferocity of her attack. Her hammerblows, though innacurate were strong, fast and relentless. The man was an excellent swordsman, but no course prepared for one to deal with a berserker. They felt no pain. They did not tire. They did not die easily.

The man knew that in her berserker fury, even his enhanced strength was barely a match for her strength and speed. Pain meant nothing to one in such a state. He had to stop her. Prevent her from reaching him. Desperately, he fought for distance, giving some space so that he could use his blade while keeping her at bay. Like a dervish, she fought to get closer, both hands holding her reg blade and swinging away while attempting to savage him with her teeth. 

Using every last ounce of skill he had, he parried another mighty blow that cause her to temporarily open her guard. Then relying on every last ounce of nanotechnology enhanced strength he had, he gave a mule kick that slammed her into the bulkhead again. With a roar, the man threw his blade, point first right at her. It would have hit her head, if not for the fact that she got up instantly like a rolly-polly. Instead, the blade sink itself hilt first into her shoulder, and into the bulkhead. Warning sirens blared as onboard systems warned of possible decompression. She didn’t even feel a thing. Celes tried yanking the thing out but it was sunk too deep. She then tried to tear her way out, ignoring the possible damage to her, but the blade was sunk too deep. She had no leverage, even if she was willing to lose the arm. Her teeth gnashed as she tried to madly grab for her enemy.

“Fight someone your own size Asharouk”

The man snarled in recognition at the voice and turned. Kian walked into the room, his duster swishing.

They circled each other slowly. In the dim light of the ship, they both instantly recognised each other.

Both of the combatants grappled like vicious dogs. They both jabbed, punched and slammed each other with such ferocity that the air literally whooshed with the sound of their blows, blocks and counterblows before they both rolled back and away from each other and coming out, weapons drawn. Kian feinted out of his roll with his reg blade drawn in a low iai draw position. The other man seemed to make an almost puppetlike hop back before punching the air with his fists to reveal wrist mounted vibro blades.

“You!” the tall man said in a sibilant hiss as he circled Kian.


Desperate Charge

September 8, 2006

Celes leaned back against the wall as she fished out a flashbang grenade. She gave a motion to her squadmate to arm a fragmentation round and arm it for impact detonation. She thumbed the arming switch, prompting the little explosive device to emit a soft red glow. Her companion did the same. With practised timing, both tossed the grenades down the corridor and then simulteneously reached for their reg blades. Suddenly, there was a crescendo of white light, deafening noise and sleeting razor sharp fragments of durasteel zinging down the corridor.

Unholy shrieks sounded as the demonic abominations were blinded, wounded and deafened from the dual explosive combination. Celes gave a fearsome shout, “FOR TAAANNN!!!!!” and skidded out from the corner with Archer blazing and reg blade hissing with burning heat. Right behind her echoing her battlecry were her squadmates as they went hand to claw with the enemy.

In seconds, the Celes’ Hunter-Killer team were within melee distance to the enemy. In what seemed like an eternity, they fought hand to claw with a ferocity, anger and desperation unheard of. Everything was on the line now. The future of the Families. The future of humanity, and in that they would live by their code – Victoria aut Mortis – “Victory or Death”.

Her squad tore six of the abominations apart with piercing shrieks of screeching agony as they lopped off appendages and thoraxes even as they dodged and parried a fearsomely fast barrage of chitin coated claws that stabbed and slashed like fearsome Praying Mantis’ claws.


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