Tuesday, September 28, 2021

CARLO AQUINO Reveals He was ALMOST Cast in Number One NETFLIX K-DRAMA Series "SQUID GAME"

 


Last September 17, Netflix premiered a South Korean streaming series of the survival and drama genres that took the binge-watching community by storm. “Squid Game” details the misadventures of several civilians recruited by mysterious figures to participate in a competition involving children’s games with the promise of generous prize money, but with deadly consequences for the losers. The nine-episode series got rave reviews and became the first K-drama to land number 1 on Netflix’s 10 most-watched weekly TV shows across all territories including the US. What has only been revealed now is that a Filipino actor actually missed out on being cast for “Squid Game.”

The Philippine Star reports that actor Carlo Aquino, currently a Kapamilya but a star that has made his mark on all major TV networks in the country, was indeed offered a part in the Netflix original K-drama “Squid Game.” Aquino revealed in several recent Instagram Stories posts that the director of “Squid Game,” Hwang Dong-hyuk, personally contacted him for a part in the series in 2020. Unfortunately he had to turn down the casting offer due to existing travel restrictions in the Philippines at the time on account of the pandemic. Thus Aquino missed out.

It may have turned out awkward either way. The role offered to Carlo in “Squid Game” was that of Abdul Ali, a Pakistani overseas worker in South Korea, who joined the mysterious game competition due to his employer not paying his salary, making him desperate to send money to his family back in Pakistan. Ultimately Abdul Ali would be portrayed by Anupam Tripathi, an actor from India who made his career in South Korea, filling in foreigner roles for K-dramas such as in “Descendants of the Sun.” “Squid Game” was the first series where he was billed in primary cast.

Missing out on a K-drama role, especially one that exploded worldwide like “Squid Game,” may have been too bad for Carlo Aquino. Fortunately he manages to keep himself busy in the local entertainment scene. Aquino stars in the ongoing Kapamilya teleserye “La Vida Lena,” airing via cable on the Kapamilya Channel with simulcast block-time slots on A2Z and TV5, with fast-cut runs streaming on iWantTFC.

Image from Philippine Entertainment Portal

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN Announces Work Begun on DONKEY KONG EXPANSION Area to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD

 


Very few videogame development companies can claim to be iconic and familiar enough to warrant building an actual area of attractions in a theme park after them. Japan’s Nintendo happens to be such a company, inking a deal with Universal Parks and Resorts to build Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. Opened this past March, with a copy soon to follow next year in Universal Studios Hollywood, Super Nintendo World treated guests to a vibrant Nintendo experience. But despite being called “Super Nintendo World,” the only features and attractions were from one Nintendo franchise, “Super Mario.” Thankfully, even that detail is about to change.

The Verge tells us that Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan is getting ready to expand its offerings less than a year after it launched. The Japanese gaming and entertainment giant revealed that they have already started work on an expansion in the new area of the Osaka-based theme park. The expansion will feature locations and characters from another classic Nintendo IP, “Donkey Kong.” Where the terrain motif of Super Nintendo World’s Mario attractions is rolling hills and grasslands, the Donkey Kong area will feature jungle aesthetics from the “Donkey Kong Country” game series.

Nintendo chief creative Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of both Donkey Kong and Super Mario, is only too pleased with both franchises soon to be represented in Super Nintendo World. “I am looking forward to creating a thrilling Donkey Kong experience with the amazing team at Universal,” says Miyamoto. “It will take some time until it is completed, but it will be a unique area for not only people who are familiar with Donkey Kong games, but for all guests.” Much like the Super Mario area, the Donkey Kong area will feature interactive experiences, merchandising shops and dining facilities. Its principal attraction will be a roller coaster.

While Universal Studios Japan has taken great effort to open Super Nintendo World this year, the fact that the world remains shrouded in the pandemic has understandably hobbled visitor numbers. It is hoped by Universal Parks and Resorts that by the time the Donkey Kong expansion is opened to visitors in 2024, COVID will be even more under control and travel restrictions will be relaxed. It is not known whether the Super Nintendo World under construction in Universal Studios Hollywood will have provision for the same expansion, or if it will come later after opening.

Image from Nintendo Official Website

Monday, September 27, 2021

PMPC STAR AWARDS FOR MOVIES 2021 Honors Winners from PRODUCTIONS as Far Back as 2019

 


This past Sunday saw the best from the Philippine movie industry honored by the Philippine Movie Press Club in the 36th edition of the Star Awards for Movies. Due to the ongoing presence of the COVID pandemic in the country the awards ceremony was a virtual event. Even telling is that some of the films and performers that were nominated in these Star Awards were from productions as far back as 2019, before the pandemic took the world by storm. Still, the winning nominees awarded by the PMPC are quite the formidable ensemble, even if circumstances changed how their films were accessed by local audiences.

Inquirer.net has it that the 2019 pre-pandemic Star Cinema film “Hello, Love, Goodbye” walked away with five accolades from this year’s PMPC Star Awards for Movies. “Movie of the Year” was a given, as was “Actor of the Year” for Alden Richards. “Actress of the Year” however was bagged by veteran star Sylvia Sanchez for “Jesusa,” shutting out Alden’s Kapamilya costar Kathryn Bernardo. Nevertheless, “Hello, Love Goodbye” was a powerful contender due to also winning “Supporting Actress” (Maricel Laxa), “Screenwriter” (Cathy Garcia-Molina, Carmi Raymundo, Rona Co), and “Love Team” (Kathryn and Alden, though thankfully not to concern the KathNiel fans).

Another multi-Star Awardee for the 2021 ceremony is a fellow pre-pandemic production, with Solar Pictures’ “Mindanao” starring Judy-Ann Santos being named “Indie Movie of the Year.” Juday herself got no awards but the film claimed two other Indie-related category victories in score and production design. Ricky Davao was “Supporting Actor of the Year” thanks to his role in “Fuccbois,” Xia Vigor from “Miracle in Cell No. 7” won as “Child Performer” for her performance opposite Aga Muhlach as daughter-father tandem. Said movie also got the nod for “Movie Ensemble Acting.”

The virtual presentation of the 36th PMPC Star Awards for Movies this 2021 was made available in video format on social media, particularly the PMPC’s official Facebook page just this September 26. For more information on the other winners, check out the video available here.

 

Image from Philippine Entertainment Portal

NETFLIX Reveals Close REPRODUCTION of ANIME INTRO for “COWBOY BEBOP”

 


When it comes to western-produced adaptations of Japanese manga and anime, fans of the medium from the same western countries are constantly wary, having been burned one too many times. “Dragonball Evolution” and “Ghost in the Shell” are the usual examples given of big-screen takes. Netflix too has been under fire from anime fans particularly for their streaming-movie version of “Death Note.” The 2019 announcement that they will make a “Cowboy Bebop” series was treated with expected caution, grudging agreement with the casting, and hesitation with the recent promo reveal of the main stars in character. Perhaps another tidbit could change their mind. How about showing them the opening titles?

This was the strategy pursued by streaming giant Netflix to placate their potential audience for “Cowboy Bebop” according to Empire Online. On their “Tudum” event which showcased many of their upcoming exclusive content, Netflix went and presented the intro to their “Cowboy Bebop” adaptation from the original and legendary 1998 anime series. The reveal also confirmed rumors that the production did manage to get hold of the anime’s composer Yoko Kanno to also provide the streaming series’ score. As proof, Kanno’s “Bebop” intro “Tank!” was played in the opening credits.

Even more, the intro is a near-shot-by-shot recreation of the 1998 anime version. The dynamic transition of scenes with colorful squares and the characters fading between full detail and silhouettes while in motion was evocative of the original. Of course, a full remake would be considered too lazy so some parts instead featured scenes from the series itself, with the supporting cast getting prominence. Characters Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustapha Shakir), Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) and big bad Vicious (Alex Hassel) are depicted, if not exact with the anime then competently at least.

“Cowboy Bebop” follows the misadventures of a ragtag band of bounty hunters on the spacecraft Bebop, plying the Solar System of the late 21st Century for high-paying criminal bounties, while either hiding from or pursuing their individual dark pasts. The series also stars Elena Satine, Tamara Tunie, Adrienne Barbeau, Josh Randall, George Stults, Rachel House and James Hiroyuki Liao. Despite the character’s absence from the intro and lack of casting, Netflix assures that child hacker “Radical Ed” is also part of the show, which will begin streaming this November 19. Titan Comics is also publishing a tie-in comic-book miniseries with four issues starting this December.

Image courtesy of Comic Book.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

KATHRYN BERNARDO and DANIEL PADILLA Celebrate 10-YEAR LOVE TEAM/RELATIONSHIP in Special YOUTUBE Documentary Coming this SATURDAY

 


What Judy Ann Santos was for ABS-CBN in the 1990s, Kathryn Bernardo became for the network in the 2010s. True, she was already a Kapamilya as early as 2003, doing child roles on TV. But it was her starring role in the 2010 remake of “Mara Clara” that propelled her to stardom the same way the original nineties soap did for Juday. The next milestone in her career was the love team she formed with Daniel Padilla in 2011. That means this 2021 their tandem (which became a RL relationship in 2012) is a decade old, something the two are celebrating via a YouTube documentary.

The Manila Bulletin reports that ABS-CBN talents Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are headlining a special video documentary about their showbiz power-couple status in “KathNiel: Isang Dekada,” which goes online tomorrow, September 25, at the official Youtube channels of Bernardo and ABS-CBN. “Isang Dekada” will chronicle the reel- and real-life journey of Bernardo and Padilla in the entertainment industry and behind the cameras as their onscreen chemistry translates to a solid lasting relationship. This explains the planned one-year duration of their celebration, 2021 to 2022 (2011-21 for their love team and 2012-22 for their relationship).

Both Kathryn and Daniel will share their inner thoughts on their 10-year partnership alongside the many friends and colleagues who have seen their chemistry develop over time. Other interviewees in the documentary include KathNiel’s longtime filmmaker Cathy Garcia-Molina, writer Carmi Raymundo, as well as the voices of a selection of their fandom. Already, ABS-CBN’s YouTube channel has posted video highlights of the two in their many movies and teleseryes together, multiple digest of pure KathNiel awesomeness that their fans will love. That would be ample preparation for when their “KathNiel: Isang Dekada” documentary premieres Saturday 6PM on Kathryn’s “Everyday Kath” and ABS-CBN YouTube channels simultaneously.

Image courtesy of YouTube

“STAR-LORD MARIO” as CHRIS PRATT Cast for 2022 “SUPER MARIO” Movie

 


Nintendo’s Super Mario, the plump and plucky Italian-accented plumber-slash-hero from the “Super Mario Bros.” is easily one of the most iconic characters in videogame history. He and the characters from his franchise are quite popular in their heyday that they got adapted into an animated series and even a 1993 live-action movie from Disney label Hollywood Pictures.  The latter was a flop panned by fans of the game, and no talk of any new “Mario” movie project was undertaken until 2018. Now, the first serious strides to a new “Super Mario” film were made with a cast and premiere announcement.

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Nintendo and Universal Pictures via its Illumination studio have pegged the release of their “Super Mario Bros.” movie during the Holiday season next year. The reval was made during the annual Nintendo Direct, which showcases new upcoming games for Nintendo platforms like the Switch. Rather than live-action this big-screen Mario adventure will be animated, with the show-runners of “Teen Titans GO!” on Cartoon Network as co-directors. It also has some contemporarily prominent stars in its principal voice cast, namely Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Chris Pratt is a surprise and promising choice to play Mario. His previous acting credits had him play a raptor trainer (“Jurassic World”), a Marvel Superhero (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and even give his voice to a LEGO minifigure. His “Lego Movie” costar Charlie Day is cast as Mario’s brother Luigi. Anya Taylor-Joy (“The New Mutants”) plays Princess Peach while Jack Black is perennial franchise baddie King Bowser. Another unexpected element is the inclusion of another Nintendo franchise character, Donkey Kong, voiced by Seth Rogen.

The film is a passion project between Illumination studio founder Chris Melendandri and Nintendo bigwig Shigeru Miyamoto, aka the creator of “Super Mario.” Their joint statements about the project had pointed references to the earlier 1993 adaptation starring John Leguizamo and the late Bob Hoskins. Its box-office failure led to Nintendo’s holding off on any further Hollywood offers for their licensed franchises until this past decade. “The production so far is constructive and going very well, and both parties are learning a lot from each other,” says Miyamoto. “We humbly ask that fans wait just a little longer for the premiere, and we hope they look forward to seeing the unique characters from Super Mario Bros. on the big screen.”

The yet-untitled “Super Mario” is expected to premiere late next year on December 21, 2022.

Image courtesy of MovieWeb

ANDREW E. Goes Classic 1990s Comedy for “SHOOT SHOOT” Premiering on VIVAMAX Streaming this OCTOBER

 


When talking about long-running tandems in Philippine showbiz, Viva Films and rapper-comedian Andrew E. go way back. During the early-mid 1990s Andrew starred in a series of comedy films produced by Viva. In fact, his acting debut in 1991 was in a Viva movie inspired by his debut single “Humanap Ka ng Panget.” These films also established a character archetype for Andrew based on his rap songs, one that Viva Films must have kept in mind for their latest collaboration. As the latest original addition to their VIVAMAX streaming platform, Viva Films is bringing Andrew E back for “Shoot Shoot.”

As the Philippine Star would have it, Viva Films and Andrew E are going back to basics with the production of “Shoot Shoot: Di Ko Siya Titigilan,” premiering on streaming next month. For starters, the film and its title are based again on the veteran rapper-comedian’s discography. “Shoot Shoot” was released in 2004 and was followed this year by “Shoot Shoot” (Part 2). The latter actually made waves in the local TikTok scene for its catchiness. But that was not all. As Viva relates on Andrew E’s Instagram page, they are reviving Andrew E’s film typecast as the “ultimate f-boy.”

Another element of Andrew’s old Viva movies that returns in “Shoot Shoot” is him being surrounded by beautiful girls. Even now, at age 54, that has not changed one bit for Andrew considering his costars for this film, AJ Raval and Sunshine Guimary. These two babes from Viva’s talent pool complement the rapper and comic as he breezes through another misadventure with nostalgic slapstick comedy. Given the risks of such blatant throwbacks to audience reception (and the pandemic), releasing “Shoot Shoot” on VIVAMAX is a safe bet to gauge viewer appreciation of nostalgia for classic Andrew E comedy in film.

“Shoot Shoot” stars Andrew as an aspiring actor from the boonies who lands a dream role as the heir to a wealthy family. His decision to practice his lines at home makes his neighborhood believe that he has landed some big money. Soon Andrew’s character Jack is beset by beautiful women throwing themselves at him to try and marry into his “fortune.” And then there are some people with more sinister plans. The movie starts streaming on VIVAMAX Plus (PPV) this October 1, before hitting regular VIVAMAX on October 8.

Image courtesy of Viva Entertainment

Thursday, September 23, 2021

See Earth Become the Galactic PARTY PLANET on “THOR as an ONLY CHILD” “WHAT IF…?”


Episode plot-wise, Marvel Studios’ “What If…?” has been a roller-coaster in terms of being “low-stakes” one week to “all the stakes” in the next. Its premiere was a straight retelling of an MCU film with a few roles switched around. Episode 4 saw a whole alternate universe destroyed while the one following saw a global zombie apocalypse threatening to go galactic. The what-if from last week saw “only” open genocidal war on the verge of breaking out between the US and Wakanda. Just how threatening is the conflict in the latest episode this time? Well, it keeps to “reasonable” levels.

So here we are talking about “What If…Thor Were an Only Child?” Longtime MCU viewers, try to recall the very first “Thor” film in 2011. Before things go off the rails with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki tricking Chris Hemsworth’s titular Thor into doing an action that causes his exile to Earth, we get the impression that the horned-helmeted trickster was something of a hapless minder to his impulsive, boisterous Thunder God brother. What if the is not the case due to this changed backstory, of Thor’s dad Odin not taking the infant child (Loki) of his enemy Laufey and adopting him as a son. What now?

As the meat of the episode shows, without the burden of a “younger sibling” to hold him back (or indirectly teach him life lessons with his chronic deviousness), Thor becomes a party-animal alien/god royal. Readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (and, to a lesser extent, “Game of Thrones”) might make comparisons between only-child!Thor to King Robert Baratheon, but even less restrained. How else would you describe Thor’s inviting every cosmic who’s-who he knows to a party on Earth? An assembly of gods, celestials, ETs and more which rightly worry global peacekeeper SHIELD and acting-commander Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).

But as this episode’s storyline takes place during the timeframe of “Thor,” that means during his party the Prince of Asgard meets the human scientists he encountered in the “Sacred Timeline,” Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). As like canon, sparks fly between Thor and Jane, giving the former a window to the “lesser beings” and the latter evolving her fascination with the Asgardian. However the collateral damage to Earth done by guests of Thor’s party has pushed Hill to get outside help, in the form of Captain Marvel. Can the situation be defused before the planet ends up like a “Dragonball” battlefield?

In terms of deviations caused by event divergences in “What If…?” this episode has some very stark evolutions of prominent MCU characters. Thor as an only child is less burly and more “pretty-boy.” Just as surprising is the change in Loki. Raised by his father among his true people, Frost Giant!Loki is more chill. Rather than seething under Thor’s shadow they treat each other as equals with just the right amount of vitriol. And the dynamics between Thor and Jane, the latter fully knowing the former is otherworldly from the start, offer fresh new variation.

Speaking of variation, there is some significant break from the episodic nature of the MCU anthology towards the end, when a character appears that the cosmic presenter/narrator the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) never sees coming (else he would have commented on it as part of the narrative). Considering the cosmic power this newcomer was packing, one might surmise he was not part of the alternative universe the Watcher was observing, but rather came from outside of it. What this entails for the remaining episodes of “What If…?” on Disney+, one can only guess for the moment.

Now that is one way to hype the audience towards the few remaining episodes of this show. And as a parting comment, yes, we did notice Thor doing the “Zemo dance” from “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Pure meme, that. “What If…?” gets a new episode Wednesdays on Disney+.

Image from MCU Wiki – Fandom 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Not Again: MISS UNIVERSE PH 2021 POSTPONED, MISS DAVAO CITY WITHDRAWS

 


Try as hard as the country is doing, there is just no hiding that the pandemic has ravaged the regular routines, and the new normal remains the only normal for many. The Miss Universe Philippines Organization has been battered by one obstacle after another in holding their 2021 edition of the beauty pageant to select the Filipina contender for the Miss Universe competition this coming December. Already the delays reached the point where a candidate withdrew due to health issues (thankfully not COVID). But with new cases still reaching record highs, the pageant’s September 25 schedule is deferred once more.

CNN Philippines has it that the 2021 Miss Universe Philippines pageant scheduled for this coming Saturday will not happen, again. The organizers announced this new setback on Sunday, September 19. A new date for the coronation night will be announced, after the MUPO hashes out new details with the COVID Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) regarding “enhanced plans” for the event to prevent the spread of pandemic when and where it would be held. This latest postponement of the beleaguered competition was only punctuated that same Sunday by the withdrawal of Miss Davao City Ybonne Ortega. The reason: she got COVID-19.

Ortega had a lot to say about herself, the pageant and other matters when she wrote her lengthy Instagram post on September 19. Apparently she tested positive for the virus before getting together with the Miss Universe PH production and her fellow candidates. Ybonne also remarked on the struggle to stay positive even when negative naysayers bring her down. “Despite this short, but very exciting journey, I came across with so many people in different industries,” says Miss Davao City. “They had supported me in the most special ways from the beginning up until now. Your efforts are immensely treasured."

Questions were raised when Ortega failed to arrive at Clark Hilton Hotel for the MUPh candidate’s lock-in prior to pageant night, which started a week ago. Also a no-show then was the candidate for Davao Occidental, Krizzaleen Mae Valencia. Given that the delays of the original coronation night schedules were an insistence that the pageant be held in Metro Manila, reports that the organizers led by National Director Shamcey Supsup-Lee were at Clark International Airport recently has led to speculation that the facility may be under consideration as an alternative venue. Nothing has been confirmed.

All that is known is, whenever Miss Universe Philippines 2021 kicks off, it will be broadcast-streamed by ABS-CBN on KTX.ph.

Image from Philippine Star

2021 PRIMETIME EMMYS Sees TV Audience INCREASE as NETFLIX Continues DOMINANCE

 


This past Sunday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences held the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Held live with reduced attendance at The Event Deck of L.A. Live, with broadcasting done by CBS and Paramount+ live-stream, the ceremony seemed to indicate a turnaround in audience stats for the Emmys, with 11% more viewers watching on CBS than the awards last year. That is not much to say however, considering the 72nd Primetime Emmys was the least-watched in the awards’ history. In any case, there were some notable highlights for this ceremony, which honored the best TV and streaming content from June 2020 to May 2021.

The Associated Press tells us that in line with the prevailing trends from the year before, streaming series again ruled the roost during the Primetime Emmy Awards last September 19. As before, Netflix seemed to take the lion’s share of nominations and awards. This time, their award cow “The Crown” is joined by another 1950s-60s period-set limited series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” in netting awards for the streaming giant. Apple TV+ was not far behind, their sports comedy “Ted Lasso” being the most-nominated individual show. One disappointment of the evening was Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” with 21 nominations, and won none.

For individual awards, Netflix cornered Outstanding Drama Series (“The Crown”) and Limited Series (“Queen’s Gambit”) while Apple TV+ secured Outstanding Comedy (“Ted Lasso”). For acting, both Outstanding Actor and Actress for Drama went to stars of “The Crown,” namely Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II). Obviously, Jason Sudeikis’ role as the titular Ted Lasso got the Outstanding Actor for Comedy nod. “The Crown” continues to prove its Emmy-bait potential even as the real-life British Royal Family distances itself from the biographical drama. “The Queen’s Gambit” on the other hand has reportedly reinvigorated audience interest in chess following its October 2020 premiere.

Another notable event during the Emmys was an instance of posthumous nomination. Michael K. Williams of HBO’s “Lovecraft County” was one of several hopefuls for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Drama, but passed away last September 6. Relatively new streaming platform Disney+ had some choice nominations during the evening as well, but only managed a major win in Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-recorded) courtesy of their recorded-film release of now-legendary musical “Hamilton.” All in all, Netflix is top of the heap for both nomination quantity and realized victories in this year’s Emmys.

Image from USA Today

Monday, September 20, 2021

VIETNAM Gets Until OCTOBER to CONFIRM or CANCEL SEA GAMES

 


December of 2019 saw the Philippines play host to athletic delegations around Southeast Asia for the 2019 SEA Games. Despite concerns about logistics (the reason the country took over from original planned host Brunei) and the expense (especially with the Marawi Siege two years earlier), the multi-sports event was deemed successful, especially with the host becoming overall champion. It was also fortuitous timing since the COVID pandemic exploded in 2020. Next SEA Games host Vietnam hoped the worst would end by 2021. When that did not materialize, there was possibility that they might cancel even after a postponement to 2022.

The Manila Bulletin reports that Vietnam was being given until next month by the Southeast Asian Games Federation to decide whether or not they will push through with the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi next year. This ultimatum of sorts was revealed by Philippine Olympic Committee President Bambol Tolentino this Monday, September 20. The SEA Games Federation members held an online meeting regarding whether Vietnam would be able to uphold its promise to kick off the event on May 2022, from its original date of November to December this 2021. If Vietnam cannot guarantee hosting by October, the Federation would have them cancel the Games.

It is important that Vietnam could definitively say yes to hosting the SEA Games and that they could commit to the May 2022 date. That month comes across as the only comfortable window next year for Southeast Asian athletes to compete, given that other major regional meets will take place before and after May. March is given over to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, with Thailand as host. The next Asian Games is due on September with China hosting at Hangzhou, and they gather athletes anew for the Asian Youth Games in December.

Then again all these sporting dates could be moot if the worst of the COVID pandemic continues all the way through to next year. Vietnam must confirm its hosting capability or announce the cancellation of the SEA Games by next month, since Cambodia is also waiting on hosting the event in 2023. Worrying about whether they will compete or not might also distract Southeast Asian athletes from the other events including full-international meets like the July 2022 World Games in the US, and the Winter Olympics, again in Beijing, China.

Aside from Cambodia, future SEA Games hosts in order are Thailand (2025), and Laos or Brunei (2027). If these two countries back out, then Vietnam if it cancels the Games next May, can bid to host again for that year.

Image courtesy of ONE Esports

AMAZON “LORD OF THE RINGS” Series Scouting MOVIE TRILOGY Composer HOWARD SHORE

 


If moviegoers who do not have a scholarly knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkien think of his epic fantasy book series “Lord of the Rings,” they will likely envision the New Line Cinema film trilogy of the early 2000s, directed by Peter Jackson and starring the likes of Elijah Wood, Vigo Mortenssen and Sir Ian McKellen. The movies and its prequel “The Hobbit” have been out of the public imagination for years now, so nobody outside of film buffs could imagine how the “LOTR” series being developed by Amazon would look like. But there is a possibility they will hear some familiarity.

According to Deadline, Amazon Studios is looking to tap Howard Shore to score the “Lord of the Rings” series they plan to release on Prime Video streaming late next year. Shore, it must be recalled, was the composer of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. He would win three Academy Awards for his work on that cinematic epic: two Best Original Scores (“Fellowship of the Ring” and “Return of the King”) and a Best Original Song (“Into the West” sung by Enya). If he agrees, Shore will be the only figure from the New Line Cinema creative team to be involved in this Amazon Prime prequel series.

The upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series takes place some millennia before the events of the films (and the books they are based on), and are more accurately an adaptation of happenings from Tolkien’s companion volume “The Silmarillion.” Set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, it is likely to cover events like the founding of the Kingdom of Numenor, the settlement of Elves on Middle-earth, and the rise to power of the Dark Lord Sauron, whose defeat at Mordor by the Last Alliance (“Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” prologue) ended the Second Age and began the Third.

Principal photography for season 1 of Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” was reportedly completed in New Zealand this past April, after its production run was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The series is expected to premiere on Prime Video next year, September 2, 2022. Work on the second season was scheduled to commence in the UK earlier that year, on January. The choice of New Zealand where the Peter Jackson “LOTR” movies were made was brilliant enough. And if Howard Shore does accept the offer to score the show, we could hear more of this music come 2022.

Image from Maxim

Friday, September 17, 2021

PALAWAN in “TOP 25 ISLANDS of the World” List by TRAVEL+LEISURE, But FELL from TOP to 19th Since Last Year

 


With the pandemic still hanging like a permanent cloud over the world, it feels rather unproductive to talk about preferred travel destinations around the world. Even when said destinations have been competent in keeping their local infections manageable, many tourists might prefer to err on the side of caution. Nevertheless, another major travel magazine has come up with its updated list on the best island getaways for 2021, however useful that might be. And again, the Philippines lucked out in having one island on that ranking again. About the only downer is that its position has decreased from last year.

CNN Philippines has it that Palawan has again landed in the “Top 25 Islands in the World” list compiled annually by “Travel+Leisure” magazine. The updated edition of this travel recommendation came out earlier this month, and has Palawan at rank 19 with 88.63 points from voting done by travellers during a period from January to May earlier this 2021. While Filipinos, particularly Palawenos, can celebrate this achievement, it is sobered by the fact that 19th place is lower than what the island province got in the 2020 Top 25. It actually ranked Number 1 then.

Palawan has enjoyed being the best island destination in the world according to “Travel+Leisure” multiple times in the past decade: 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020, when the pandemic was still in full swing. The 2021 top island this time around is Milos in Greece, part of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. “Travel+Leisure” readers who voted in the poll earned Milos a 95.50 score. Palawan not being able to focus on its tourist destination areas on account of addressing the pandemic first may be understood as having led to its lower rank. It is still a great island getaway for the country all the same.

Months earlier another Philippine island paradise, the surfing haven of Siargao, had also made another Travelogue list, this time from TIME magazine, back in July.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Latest MARVEL’s “WHAT IF…?” on DISNEY+ Sees KILLMONGER Prove Himself Less Extremist and More EVIL

 


The Disney+ MCU animated anthology “What If…?” is now at its sixth episode out of nine for its first streaming season. From its premiere back in August the show’s premise of building episodic stories from divergent events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline have become increasingly off-the-wall, and at the same time more willing to take the consequences of the alternate storylines to outright grim and dark conclusions. Just how much more unsalvageable a situation be beyond the destruction of the universe in episode 4? The latest what-if the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) showcases returns the stakes to more “manageable” levels. But the deviations remain sweeping and the conclusion, still dire.

Let us consider “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” Scenes from this episode actually have prominent exposure in Marvel Studios’ initial trailers for “What If…?” Its divergence point after all is in the dawn of the MCU. How different does the setting become when, just as he was about to be abducted by terrorists from the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, Tony Stark is saved by a lone US special forces operator, one Erik Stevens, alias Killmonger, secretly Prince N’Jadaka of Wakanda?

The scene where Killmonger tosses away the missile that would have canonically left shrapnel in Stark’s heart gave MCU fans of the character, of which there are many from 2018’s “Black Panther,” hope that his what-if episode will showcase him as a hero. Further scenes from the trailer saw Killmonger leading the people of Wakanda in defense against a highly-advanced invasion force. At the risk of spoilers, it must be said that those hopes will be dashed. Not only does all of Killmonger’s heroic actions factor into his master-plan of ambitious, his alleged noble if extremist ideal of arming abused minorities such as African-Americans to incite revolution are made lies by some of the deaths he engineers throughout the episode.

In fact, the beginning of this episode is highlighted by the Watcher as taking away something vital from the MCU setting. While episode 3 posited the failure of the Avengers initiative to assemble, this one stops the emergence of MCU heroes to begin with. Without his canon abduction, witnessing of his company’s armaments being misused, and worry for his mortality, Tony Stark never becomes Iron Man and remains an weapons developer, whose genius and resources are exploited. Killmonger demonstrates to Stark his designs for a vibranium-powered humanoid combat drone, sheepishly admits he styled it after his favorite anime, and Stark becomes his unwitting, disposable accomplice.

A contributing factor in Erik Killmonger’s appeal as one of the MCU’s best-received big baddies is his being portrayed by actor Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”). Jordan reprises his character’s voice and masterfully sells both his affable heroic public face and the violently callous true nature that drives him towards his goal of returning to Wakanda and putting himself in power. He even shares a momentary argument with T’Challa over their conflicting viewpoints, in another poignant performance by the late Chadwick Boseman, which is just appropriate.

Marvel Studios has also released a new teaser for “What If…?” to mark its series midpoint, and more story-divergent treats are in store for viewers. Most interesting of all is the Avengers-like assembly of some of the alternate-universe characters featured in past episodes from Captain Carter to T’Challa Star-Lord. What does it mean? When does this happen? We will just have to wait for the next episode of Marvel’s “What If…?” streaming Wednesdays on Disney+.

Image from Comic Book Resources

Singer-Actor INIGO PASCUAL Joins Cast of US Musical Drama “MONARCH” Premiering on FOX Network This 2022

 


When he first broke into the Philippine entertainment scene in 2014, Inigo Pascual proved that he was definitely a chip off the old block that is his father, heartthrob Piolo Pacual. Both are good-looking and talented actors, while also being accomplished singers and recording artists. Here Inigo also shines as a songwriter, and this side holds equal weight alongside his acting career. Now at age 24, the younger Pascual has made inroads to international stardom thanks to some of his performances being streamed on Netflix. Perhaps that might explain why US network Fox has tapped him for a musical drama they will release next year.

The Manila Bulletin reports that FOX Network has tapped Inigo Pacual to join their upcoming series production “Monarch,” premiering in late January this coming 2022. It is his first full foray into international acting, and as a bonus he might be called on to showcase his singing talent for this show, which will also focus on music. Just how big his upcoming role will be is highlighted in his being a cast regular alongside such a big name as veteran American actress Susan Sarandon. Their proposed character roles will be grand-related by adoption after all.

“Monarch” is developed by show-runner Melissa London Hilfers, and will focus on the trials and tribulations of a three-generation Texas family that is an indelible fixture in American country music. The Roman Family is headed by Albie (Trace Adkins) and Dottie Roman (Sarandon), the latter being hailed in-universe as the Queen of Country Music. The family’s musical trade is carried on through the now-grown Roman children: Gigi (Beth Ditto), Nicky (Anna Friel) and Luke (Joshua Sasse). Nicky Roman wants to uphold the family legacy and still be acknowledged as her own celebrity, and she and her husband Clive Grayson have a musically gifted adopted son, 18-year-old Ace, played by Inigo.

Inigo Pascual is no slouch in music or acting, with several films, TV performances, series episode guesting, and show hosting duties under his belt. He also has two studio albums with the second, “Options,” releasing only this past June. Playing a young man with aspirations for making it into music seems just Inigo’s thing, with the “Monarch” blurb underlining that his character Ace will face challenges to his journey in the American country music scene. The show premieres January 30 next year on FOX Network.

Image courtesy of Deadline

APPLE Reveals iPHONE 13 Series: SAME Features as 12, But MORE POWERFUL

 


The trend with tech gadgets nowadays is that the improvements from one current model to next upcoming one begins to feel rather small-steps. Perhaps it is because most tech manufacturers are committed to an annual release of new products. As a result the improvements seem to be just a wee bit more than what last year’s model offered, with big feature updates being relegated to a few years’ intervals or so. Apple has been part of this trend, with a new iPhone to offer regular users year after year. The iPhone 13, first introduced last Tuesday, had no distinctive new additions. But the spec improvements were notably several steps up.

As told by The Verge, it was a performance-beefy if not tech-groundbreaking iPhone 13 that was revealed in the virtual Apple event last September 14. It does the exact same things and has probably the same amount of features that 2020’s iPhone 12 has. The difference is that it does them all better, as in twice better in some respects. And what Apple holds over its competitors is that these spec updates did not result in a price change between the 13 and 12 lines.

The iPhone 13 presentation said the cameras are even better than before. And indeed, the sensors on the now-familiar lenses-in-upper-right-square configuration are larger, allowing 47% more light to be captured in a shot over the iPhone 12. Sensor-shift optical image stabilization from the 12 Pro Max is a standard now, plus the new, bigger pixel size of 1.9μm is notable. The new A15 Bionic processors are faster than 12’s A14. The storage is twice larger than its predecessor too, and the battery life getting an additional 2.5 hours is as much for plus points as having more 5G potential. All in all, the iPhone 13 is just a more powerful 12, and that seems fine.

In addition to the basic iPhone 13, Apple also unveiled the model variants: the more compact iPhone 13 Mini, and the higher-end iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. These ones pack the ProMotion display refresh rate of a sweet 120Hz, plus computational photography perks. All of Apple’s newest iPhones will become officially available Friday next week, September 24. This is remarkable given the tech giant’s public admission that their manufacturing has been affected by the pandemic-driven global chip shortage. The true mettle of the iPhone 13 will be seen when it hits shelves next week.

Image from AppleInsider

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

BTS Receives DIPLOMATIC PASSPORTS from South Korean PRESIDENT as SPECIAL ENVOYS

 


The South Korean K-Pop group BTS may have undoubtedly reached the insane levels of international super-stardom that their fellow countryman PSY never even achieved during his own heyday in the early 2010s. Most western music fans of this generation could identify them and even profess their fandom of the boys. They have nominations for Grammy and Brit Awards, and won multiple AMAs, Billboards and Golden Disks. But they have influence beyond music as well, having had the honor to address the United Nations on behalf of UNICEF. It is in the latter facet of their prominence that this gift from their national government falls under.

According to Inquirer.net, the seven young men of BTS received from South Korean President Moon Jae-in the documentation that fully complements their role as Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture. Those documentations are diplomatic passports issued to BTS by President Moon himself at the Blue House Presidential residence this past Tuesday, September 14. The official BTS social media pages showed photos of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, V, Jimin, Jungkook and RM flashing their new diplomatic passports at Blue House. Moon had already named them Presidential Envoys back in July.

What does a diplomatic passport do? It indicates their holders as having diplomatic functions for the country that issued them. Therefore, diplomatic passport holders are accorded VIP treatment by authorities at airports they arrive in, and their baggage may be exempt from inspection. In South Korean law, diplomatic passports are given to the country’s (present and former) Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers, ambassadors, International Olympic Committee members, public officials serving other diplomatic missions abroad, their spouses and (young, unmarried) children, and special envoys declared by the government like BTS have recently been.

The only limitation of these diplomatic passports is that they must be used solely on official (South Korean) government business. That means BTS cannot travel for overseas concert tours using them. They can however use their passports to for example, accompany President Moon to the UN General Assembly on September 20 for Sustainable Development Goals Moment. Other than that, should the K-Pop juggernaut be called on to speak internationally on South Korean interests in global agendas, they could use these passports as diplomatic envoys. Their nice Presidential gifts also included fountain pens for each member.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS has been on a meteoric rise to global celebrity with their infectious, memorable self-composed music. This has intensified further since they began releasing English-language songs since last year with “Dynamite,” followed by this year’s “Butter” and “Permission to Dance.”

Image from Manila Bulletin

DISNEY+ Drops First Exciting Trailer for MCU Limited Series “HAWKEYE”

 


It is said that the train started by Marvel Studios in 2008, a train known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) franchise, can no longer afford to stop for even the shortest breaks. True, they tried to do that in the first year of pandemic last year; but it was financially disastrous to keep the start of their MCU Phase 4 on hold for as long as it has been. This is doubly so now that the franchise not only has films but streaming series on Disney+. Soon to follow the “What If…?” animated anthology is a series focusing on Avengers member Hawkeye, the first trailer for which has landed.

Entertainment Weekly tells us that Marvel Studios dropped a trailer late this Monday, September 13, for “Hawkeye,” the next upcoming MCU Disney+ limited series. The show stars Jeremy Renner reprising as master bow marksman Clint Barton, former SHIELD Agent and Avenger, and his newest misadventures following the events of “Endgame.” The series also delves deep into the character’s original Marvel Comics incarnation: particularly the fact that he got a young and female legacy character that uses his codename, and which they later share between them.

The trailer sees Barton (Renner) reminiscing of his “emo” days during the five-year period when he lost his family to the Thanos “Blip.” During that time he took the new identity of the sword-and-bow-wielding Ronin, waging a violent war against the remnants of organized crime worldwide. He has since dropped the act after “Endgame” restored his wife and children, but Clint made vicious enemies during his Ronin phase, and they are out to collect just when he was out of town and trying to get home to the folks during the Holidays. This is complicated when he sees another figure aping the Ronin motif, forcing him to pursue the copycat.

Said Ronin poseur turns out to be a girl, one Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). She’s a Hawkeye fan despite describing herself as a heck of an archer herself. But a hasty meeting leads to a frantic team-up as now Barton and Bishop must fend off some very determined assassins including Black Widow Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), who blames Clint for Natasha Romanov’s death. As the two Hawkeyes try to survive until Barton makes it to his family’s Christmas dinner, intense action scenes are intercut with surprise elements like a “Hamilton”-like “Rogers: The Musical” on Broadway.

What that is about, we shall have to wait for the series. “Hawkeye” also stars Vera Farmiga, Tony Dalton, Alaqua Cox, and Brian D’Arcy James. It starts streaming on Disney+ November 24, succeeding “What If…?”

Image courtesy of Yahoo News

MISS UNIVERSE PHILIPPINES Pageant Sees MISS ZAMBALES Retire Due to DENGUE

 


Even with the uncertainties brought upon by a global pandemic, the show has to go on for many annual events. The 2021 edition of the Miss Universe pageant is still pegged tentatively for December of this year, which means the Miss Universe Philippines pageant must be held within the remaining less than four months. And indeed, the 30 entrants that passed the four preliminary delegate selections (starting from 100) have begun getting ready for coronation night at possibly September 25. But even as the contestants did their latest photo shoots and secluded themselves in a hotel outside Metro Manila, they still lost one of their own due to health issues.

The Philippine Star reports that Miss Zambales Joanna Marie Rabe has withdrawn from competition at the 2021 Miss Universe Philippines pageant as of this past Monday, September 13. Rabe explained on social media that her bowing out of the contest came as a result of having contracted dengue fever, for which her doctor has advised plenty of rest, something she would not have if she continued her journey. The competition thus now only has 29 candidates vying for representing the Philippines in Miss Universe 2021.

“I would like to inform you that my Miss Universe Philippines journey has been cut short," wrote Rabe on Instagram. "I got dengue fever earlier this week and my doctors [advised] that I would need more time to recover my strength." The Zambales beauty then proceeded to thank her family, friends, online supporters, the people of her home province and the Miss Universe Philippines Organization for giving her the opportunity to pursue her dream even if she never even made it to the coronation night, One of her closing lines about seeing everyone again in a bigger stage and brighter circumstances reminds fans that she is still of age to re-enter competition even next year.

Joanna Marie Rabe’s medically-induced departure from the Miss Universe Philippines pageant was met with well-wishes on social media. Hannah Arnold, Binibining Pilipinas International 2021 and a fellow member with Rabe in the Aces & Queens pageant training camp during 2019, remembered her fondly. “I already knew you were a queen,” says Arnold. “We are so proud of you and will wait for your great comeback! Get well soon, Jo!" It does not seem that the MUP Organization will replace Rabe with another cut delegate to keep the contestant total at 30, but the coronation night looks set for September 25, broadcast on ABS-CBN’s KTX.ph streaming.

Image from GMA News

Monday, September 13, 2021

MCU’s “SHANG-CHI” Sets Near-$258-M BOX OFFICE Milestone Globally in PANDEMIC

 


As the Marvel Cinematic Universe proceeds further into its Phase 4 story arc, one might notice that the franchise’s more superhuman characters are in limited series on Disney+ while the films are headlined by “normal human” leads. While Wanda/Scarlet Witch and Vision as well as Loki were busy in their respective shows, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow went to action one last time (in a solo film that was actually a Phase 3-set prequel), and then Shang-Chi used his lifelong martial arts training to stand against the secret society led by his father who wore magical iron rings. True, there were dragons in the end of that movie but it was still primarily a Kung-Fu adventure.

But the premise seems more than enough as told by Comic Book Resources to secure for Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” one of the most impressive box office runs this year. Bear in mind that this is still all happening in the middle of a global pandemic that could see some North American domestic and international markets close their theaters when the film is supposed to be releasing. Building from a September US Labor Day weekend premiere, “Shang-Chi” now has a US-Canada gross of $145.6 million and $112 million globally, for a $257.6 million total.

Speaking of the box office, its earnings have put this MCU blockbuster (in pandemic terms) as the Top 8 Best Movie of 2021 in the US, and the Top 6 US-Produced Movie worldwide. But the appeal of “Shang-Chi” was felt by critics too. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has the film at a 92% “fresh” rating from 269 total reviews. Metacritic was a bit tougher with 71 out of 100 from 51 critics, but still “generally favorable.” This is the new best-reviewed MCU installment thus far.

“Shang-Chi” stars Simu Liu as the titular character, a martial arts expert trying to escape the influence of his father Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), leader of the Ten Rings society who has lived millennia thanks to the power of the eponymous Ten Rings. The Ten Rings were initially seen in the very first MCU movie, 2008’s “Iron Man,” with this film being the first time its leadership has taken center stage. Other cast members include Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh and Sir Ben Kingsley. “Shang-Chi” is still playing in cinemas globally, where available if not closed by COVID.

Image from Box Office Mojo

Friday, September 10, 2021

INCLUSIVE Facilities in Soon-to-Open CLARK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT New Passenger TERMINAL

 


One of the many facilities opened by the Philippines from the former infrastructure of the American Clark Air Base was an international airport. Originally serving domestic and international flights to and from northern and Central Luzon, it was proposed to also begin serving Metro Manila following the full expansion and congestion of NAIA. To that end, several passenger terminals were planned with all to be completed by 2025. The first of these, constructed by a public-private partnership under the Duterte “Build, Build, Build” program, was completed last year and should begin operating at the end of the year. This particular terminal features several notable facility innovations new to the country.

The Manila Bulletin reports that the soon-to-open new terminal at Clark International Airport (IATA airport code CRK) has inclusive amenities serving all faiths and even gender identities. This comes in the form of gender-neutral bathrooms (indicated by half-male, half-female logos), all-gender nursing stations, and multi-faith prayer rooms. A statement from Vince Dizon, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO, notes that CRK aims to present a positive atmosphere to passengers and guests, in the form of accommodation with inclusion and respect to all.

Gender-neutral bathrooms will be added to the default male and female rooms for the benefit of transgender individuals and those who identify as non-binary or cis-gender. The nursing stations and prayer rooms will also provide foot-washing facilities for Muslims. This new terminal will also push for CRK’s direction of the “silent airport policy,” wherein audio boarding calls are minimalized in favor of posted visual-display announcements. The Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD), which manages and operates CRK, holds to these two principles of inclusivity and intuitiveness to guide them in shaping the future facilities at the airport, such as the other planned passenger terminals.

Operation of Clark International Airport was given over to LIPAD, a consortium formed by JG Summit Holdings, Filinvest Development, Philippine Airport Ground Solutions, and Changi Airports Philippines Pte back in August of 2019. Their concession to run CRK runs for 25 years. The interior of the new terminal was designed by American architectural firm Populous with some help from Casas+Architects. It has not been specified yet when in late 2021 the new Clark International Airport terminal will open to passengers.

Image from CRK Official Website

Thursday, September 9, 2021

First “THE MATRIX RESURRECTION” Official TRAILER is INTERACTIVE and Somewhat Confusing

 


Nearly two decades ago, a sci-fi action film caught the world by storm. “The Matrix” captivated audiences with its incredible stunts and action sequences blended in with surprisingly philosophical discussions on how one perceives reality and what the limits of his capabilities are in reality. Its popularity led to two sequels to form a trilogy, an authentic anime anthology, and several videogames. Some 18 years later one of the original franchise creators is bringing a fourth installment, “The Matrix Resurrections,” to both cinemas and HBO Max in December. A trailer has also been put up, but what the viewers see depends on their current “reality,” aka the time of day.

According to Entertainment Weekly, a trailer for “The Matrix Resurrections” has been uploaded to the fan-site WhatIsTheMatrix.com for the viewing pleasure of anyone interested. But as those who have been fans of “The Matrix” since the Wachowskis made the original that premiered in 1999, there is a twist in the presentation. The website offers the visitor a choice between a blue or red pill much like Keanu Reeves’ Neo was given in the film. Depending on what one chooses, and factoring the time of day in the viewer’s computer, there are a variety of scenes shown, seemingly all at random.

Take for instance this writer’s trip. The red pill was chosen, and the familiar green scrolling code in black background begins to run. Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s voiceover then drones, “This is the moment for you to show us what is real. Right now you believe it's [says the time of day on the laptop, in this case 4:57 PM] but that couldn't be further from the truth. Could be this is the first day of the rest of your life, but if you want it, you gotta fight for it."

 Depending on whether one chooses the red or blue pill, and the time when the site was accessed, a variety of scenes from the original films and the upcoming fourth will be featured. You’re sure to see Abdul-Mateen’s character (rumored to replace Laurence Fishburne, who is not returning), and then Keanu Reeves’ Neo (still sporting the John Wick beard), Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity, Jonathan Groff losing his mouth, and more. The interactivity is fascinating, but one gets no context to the plot of this unexpected film. Perhaps a follow-up trailer will be more straightforward. Then again, this is “The Matrix.”

“The Matrix Resurrections” is directed by Lana Wachowski from a story co-written with David Mitchell and Alexander Hemon. It also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, Jessica Henwick, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The film releases in theaters and HBO Max December 22, the latter on the ad-free tier for a month following its premiere.

Image courtesy of Polygon

PH BL Web Series “GAMEBOYS” NOMINATED in KIDS Live-Action Category of the 2021 INTERNATIONAL EMMY AWARDS

 


One cannot help but feel sometimes that “Gameboys,” a 2020 web series developed by The IdeaFirst Company on YouTube, was made to cash in on the recent prominence of the boys’ love genre in live-action through Southeast Asia, as pushed forth by the Thai series “2gether” which shone an international spotlight on the premise. Nevertheless, the Philippine series about two online gamers who find love amidst the COVID pandemic proved solid and entertaining enough to stand on its own merit. Not only is a second season in the works, this week it also got nominated in the International Emmy Awards.

Inquirer.net reports that The IdeaFirst Company’s “Gameboys” series was named as one of the nominees in the 2021 International Emmy Awards. The announcement was made by the International Emmy governing body, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS) this past Tuesday, September 7, with IdeaFirst then sharing the news via its official Twitter and Instagram pages the following day, September 8. “Gameboys” is in the running for the “Kids – Live-Action” category. The fact that it is in the “kids” category is indicative of how far the journey for LGBT+ representation has indeed come.

Even better, this is not even the first international recognition the web series got. Last November in the 2020 Indie Shorts Awards Seoul, “Gameboys” not only got nominated but won as Best Web Series. Its citation in that awards noted that the product “met the highest standards of excellence.” Now, their next big race for international recognition has come, and at no less than the International Emmys, which has been awarded since 1976. It probably helps that “Gameboys” eventually got streamed on Netflix by December of that year, just one of the many platforms the series is available in now.

“Gameboys” stars Elijah Canlas and Kokoy De Santos as Cairo and Gavreel, online gamers who meet via Zoom chat during the pandemic. Initially gaming rivals, Cai finds himself unsettled at first by how much Gavreel fan-boys over him. Yet despite initial awkwardness and the barrier of enforced pandemic isolation, the two strike a rapport that gradually blossoms into a relationship. The IdeaFirst Company first premiered the series on YouTube, then on Netflix with reshot and additional footage. Its newest platform to premiere in was GMA7’s Heart of Asia on digital TV Box this past June.

Other nominees in the same category as “Gameboys” include series from the Netherlands, Australia and Argentina. It is the only Filipino nominee in the whole International Emmy Awards, its 2021 awarding ceremony set for October.

Image courtesy of Twitter