Monday, 29 July 2013

Gu Family Book (2013)

Gu Family Book
Title: Gu Family Book (2013)
Network: MBC
Cast: Lee SeungGi, Suzy, Lee YeonHee, Choi JinHyuk, Lee YooBi, Yoo YeonSeok, Bang SungJoon,  & Lee SungJae

When I neither loved nor loathed a drama, it takes some time before I get around to blogging about it.  It's like I don't really have anything to say because I didn't feel anything strongly towards the drama. That pretty much sums up my watching experience with Gu Family Book, and that's not exactly a positive thing. It's a drama ripe with so much potential but I feel like it didn't really get anywhere.

Gu Family Book tells the story of Lee KangChi (Lee SeungGi), a half-human, half-werewolf boy who grew up not nothing his beginnings. He's raised by a human father and he pretty much had a normal childhood. But as he reaches his 20th birthday, some secrets come out in the open and he slowly, but frighteningly, learns about himself.

It has a pretty good start, what with the story of SeoHwa (Lee YeonHee) and WolRyung (Choi JinHyuk) taking center stage. It's the heart and soul of this drama. For a simple two episodes, it tells a story of a heart-wrenching love that ruins the life of two people. And that simple two episodes tells a more compelling arc than the remaining 22 did.

That's what's extremely sad about Gu Family Book. It starts out with an engaging plot but it doesn't really take it anywhere deeper. There are so many character arcs that are left hanging. We don't really get much resolution for anything. In most parts, they just let burning emotions of many characters pan out and fizzle. I'm afraid the series focused on way too many characters' plight, that it didn't have enough episodes to resolve all the individual conflicts. KangChi's story is complicated as it is, maybe they should have just left it at that.

One of the character arc that left me hanging is ChungJo's (Lee YooBi). She's pretty much the present day SeoHwa, but she has no happy ending nor fulfilling finale for her vengeful life. I want so much more for her, but she ended up becoming a self-sacrificing third party. I seriously rooted for her more than I did YeoWool (Suzy). Speaking of YeoWool, I expected to have a more complex understanding of his character, but I didn't really see her past her love for KangChi. Her love and dedication for KangChi sums up the total of her arc, and in a drama filled with engaging storylines, hers failed in contrast.

Another character that I looked out for is Gon, played by Bang SungJoon. He's the reason I started watching in the first place. What can I say, he's a talent wasted on a stoic secondary character. It's weird how his character is present from the very beginning and revealed to be one of the four pillars, but nothing really important happened to him. Maybe it's just the biased fangirl in me talking. 

It's not Lee Seung-Gi's fault. I like him as an actor, and as KangChi, he carried out his role extremely well. He's amazing at the candid parts, and he's just engaging in the emotional scenes. He brings out a whole lot of depth to his character. It's really the story itself that's a bit disappointing. I think it started in such a frantic and passionate speed that it couldn't sustain it for 24 episodes.

The most shameful bit is that they titled it Gu Family Book, but it didn't really play any significant role in the story of our main lead. Yes, it may have played a part in the story of his parents, but it did no sort of impact in his trajectory. Instead of seeing him brave the transformation from being a half-gumiho to being human, we ended up seeing him spend thousands of years waiting for the reincarnation of the love of his life. I seriously don't get it.

Basically, I think the ending pretty much defeated the purpose of the existence of the Gu Family Book. It could have been a really good drama, but it suddenly went nowhere. If anything, at least it gave us the love story of SeoHwa and WolRyung.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Latest Obsession: One Piece

I haven't blogged in awhile here and in my personal blog, and it's all because of a really good reason. I've been addicted to One Piece the past few weeks, and I'm not the slightest bit apologetic that I haven't been functioning quite well in society lately. Haha! Seriously though, I can'y remember being this invested in a manga before.

In 3 weeks, I managed to read 715 chapters, and that basically means lack of sleep and divided attention when I was supposed to be doing something else. It's so hard to believe that 3 weeks ago, I haven't seen a single episode of the anime or read even a single chapter. Heck, I didn't even know Luffy's name back then! When my boyfriend said that I missed half of my life when I admitted not seeing a single ep of the anime, he wasn't joking. Why didn't I watch it back then?!? I can't think of a single thing that I hate in One Piece! In fact, it basically has everything I love in a story.

I easily get attached to fictional characters and One Piece is no exception. I am already deeply invested in every single one in the Straw Hat crew, and there's no turning back now!

One Piece has been around for more than a decade already. So much has already been said about this manga and to add more seems a bit silly. But I love it so much that I can't stop myself from gushing how much I love it!

FIRST, it's soooooo coherent. From start to finish, there's an existing theme that's present no matter what situation the Mugiwara crew find themselves in. Sometimes you think you know what's going to happen next but the crew decides to take a detour and you suddenly don't know what's going to happen next. What's surprising is that the story doesn't go off track but the detour still fits perfectly well with the story. There are also little things mentioned in the story that you think makes very little importance but will actually make an impact on the story. But of course, it only works because it's Eiichiro Oda who's behind the machination of the storyline. It's been around since 1997 and the fact that it's still coherent and not dragging nor boring in the slightest are mind-blowing.

SECOND, I love Luffy! I think I found my most favorite anime character ever. I have watched quite a few and have loved way too many. But Luffy is just so special! Here's a character who's so strong and not just because he's born with such strength. He actually trains to be stronger and that's really nice to see. His nonchalance and his undying devotion for his nakama pretty much give coherence to the story. It's also what I love about him the most.

THIRD, it's refreshing to see a perfectly in-sync main cast! Sure, Zoro and Sanji can't seem to get along but they have no ill feelings towards each other. They always have each other's back. It's also so so so amazing how Nami and Robin are friends. It's nice to see two main female characters actually get along! There's no rivalry between them, and that's a welcome change.

FOURTH, how there's no love story angle makes it even better. It's great how Oda sensei has strictly made it about friendship and great adventure, and those are the two things that drive the story forward. Romance will definitely drag the story.

FIVE, it's such a rich story, and it makes me want to go on an adventure in my own. It's obvious how Oda sensei is a wide reader and knows a lot about literature, mythology, and history. I smile a little when the plot is going on a familiar trajectory because it simply shows Oda sensei's influences. The fun part is how he always manages to make the story uniquely One Piece. I cannot fathom how sensei's mind works, but it will be interesting to be think like him for a day.

SIX, it's a roller coaster of emotions. One minute, I'm giggling over Luffy's imitation of his nakama, the next I'm clutching my heart in pain because of a devastating scene. It just brings so much emotions to the surface. I have never ever laughed so much in a manga! It's the type of humor that can definitely get to me.  Even when I'm reading in a public place I'll end up laughing so much, even when I'm alone. All my sides hurt after every chapter. It gets a bit embarrassing though when I become teary-eyed over a scene (i.e. Garp's meeting with Dadan after Ace's death huhu).

SEVEN, CHOPPER! Seriously though, who can be cuter than Chopper? NO ONE!

Oh, One Piece, you're a life-ruiner, but thank you anyway. I started watching season 13 of the anime, and yes I skipped seasons 1-12 but I promise to watch that still. I have yet to watch the movies, too, but I'll get on that soon. I'm currently busy lurking on forums and reading theories and whatnot. My boyfriend is getting worried. He said that it was enough that I was addicted to Koreans. He didn't expect that I'd be this addicted to One Piece. Well, it's all his fault anyway! Haha. Besides, we talk about nothing else but One Piece! It's our favorite dinner topic now. Hee.

I'm already chest-deep in this obsession, and there's no turning back for me. I won't have it any other way, though. Luffy has been making me incredibly perky lately. :)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Four Sisters and A Wedding (2013)

Four Sisters and a Wedding

Title: Four Sisters and A Wedding (2013)
Producer: Star Cinema
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Cast: Connie Reyes, Toni Gonzaga, Bea Alonzo, Angel Locsin, Shaina Magdayao, Enchong Dee, Janus del Prado, Sam Milby, Bernard Palanca, Angeline Quinto

Four Sisters and A Wedding is a movie which can be summarized by its title. Four sisters have to deal with their younger (and only) brother who seems to be rushing his own wedding. Fueled by their belief that he's making a terrible mistake, they try everything to stop it.

As Star Cinema's first movie offering for their 20th anniversary, they cast some of the most prominent leading actresses and actors of this time and create a family movie. Such strong personalities may clash and make a disaster, but Director Cathy Garcia-Molina manages to pull it off.

Toni Gonzaga plays Teddie, the eldest daughter who pretends to be a teacher in Spain but actually works as a maid. Bobbie, the second eldest and a successful professional in New York, is played by Bea Alonzo. Angel Locsin plays the rebellious third daughter, Alex. The last and most filial daughter Gabby, is played by Shaina, who seems to be given the most subdued role. Enchong Dee is the engaged youngest sibling and their only brother, CJ. Take these five actors and you have quite an ensemble.

Frankly, I enjoyed this movie. I'm not a hard person to please, since I rarely watch movies with any expectation. I like to be surprised. And I am surprised at how much I actually like it. I knew that it will focus on comedy but I was taken off-guard by the emotional arc of the movie. The wedding plot is consistent from start to finish, but I like how they manage to weave the story of each sister into the main plot. The wedding simply brings out their individual baggage, and I think that's what gives this movie more depth. Of course, it's the funny moments that I love the most!

But despite all the running conflicts and the theatrics of the "villains" of this movie, the theme of family loyalty remains present in every turn. No matter how much you fight and no matter how many hurtful words you throw at each other, a family is still a family. I may hate you now, but once someone outside the family hurts you, rest assured that I'll have your back. And that's basically what these siblings and their ever strong mother prove in the movie. They may always be at each other's throat, but they stand together in the face of a common enemy.

Bea Alonzo pretty much does the emotional heavy-lifting. She has the most sub-plots and I couldn't help whisper in the middle of her little dialogue, "Ah, s'ya pala ang bida." She's great in her role, though, and quite believable on how she handles the situation. However, it was Toni Gonzaga who had me captivated from start to finish. She already has her own brand of acting, and even though she manages to make each of her character different, there's a distinct aura to them. And somehow, I don't mind. She's amazing as Teddie, and her little team up with Janus del Prado who plays his pseudo-boyfriend is so entertaining! I'm so happy for Janus to have such a role! He more than deserves to be the main part of the OTP and not just the friend of the lead.

There are some things I do not like, of course. For one, I feel like Angeline Quinto dragged down the movie. I know they're trying to sell her as a RomCom leading actress but she's just not good at comedy. AT ALL. But other than that, there's no stand out annoyance in the movie.

It's a pretty engaging movie because Star Cinema can really execute heart-warming family films. With Connie Reyes as the mother, we pretty much have the intensity covered. She's the character that pulls the siblings together. Despite all their arguments and animosity towards each other, they have to keep it to themselves and show decency when the mother is present. Also, Connie Reyes simply has a way of commanding such strong screen presence.

It's a feel good movie, and if it's still available in a cinema near you, then go check it out. It's definitely worth the watch. It's just one of the many promising releases of Star Cinema for their anniversary, and I definitely can't wait for Tuhog.
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