Lex Petros: March 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

World Invasion:Battle Los Angeles (2011)

I was a fan of ID4 (1996). The movie blew me away when I was still in college...

District 9 (2009) was remarkably brilliant and caught me off guard...

Skyline (2010) was promising but utterly ruined by bad acting and a poor ending....

So, understandably Battle LA trailers and sneak peaks did not peak my interest. Unless it was Roland Emmerich or Steven Spielberg at the helm and producing the movie, I was skeptical to say the least. As Forrest Gump would say, "life is like a box of chocolates..."; you know the takes guts and lots of imagination to make an earth-invasion movie to suit the palate of audiences. Cliched scenes and predictable outcomes always make it an uphill task.

Jonathan Liebesman directed this 116-minute flick with Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez starring. Liebesman, I remember from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A New Beginning. The theme was laid on the USMC (United States Marine Corp). For me, that was a good way to do things. After all, most situations calling for the defence of the nation would befall the USMC. Regular army will pound, but the USMC are designated for special operations and specific mission parameters. Think about this movie as a sci-fi version of Blackhawk Down (2001).

Needless to say, the premise was not original - CNN reports imminent meteor strikes, but turns out that the projectiles coming from the heavens appears to have mechanical structures and moving at slower speeds as they near - it's always the eastern seaboard which gets it- you see loads of terrified citizen being evacuated but which good invasion movie won't see the brutal deaths of a few dozens or hundreds to make a point? Aliens? Well, what else? Immense ships, superior firepower and ugly forms. Action and ammo always sell. These things crashes into the water just off the coast of 16-17 countries and make their way inland, blasting all and sundry in their wake.

The movie progressed to focus on a unit led by Lt. Willam Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) with the more senior Staff Seargent Michael Nanz (Eckhart) shadowing and counselling the young Lieutenant. Their mission was to secure an overrun police prescient, rescue any civilians and get out before an aerial bombing commences to "drive the infestation back to the ocean". Along their way, they pick up Rincon and his children at the police prescient and a separated USAF Tech Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez). The suspense ala Blackhawk Down starts from here- fighting out of alien territory to make it to an FOB (forward operating base), the next safest place to be when the Air Force commences their assault.

The entourage knows how to kill the aliens more effectively when they dissected one alive to find out where its heart is. The aliens incidentally run on water and so, they bleed water. They invasion force has come to drink us dry. The engagement of a freeway between the Marines and an alien party seems to mirror the final show down in Saving Private Ryan. The aliens in this movie control un-manned drones to kill and maim humans from command ships placed in major cities and locations.

Just the luck they needed when the Marines come across an RF distortion which hints the presence of a command ship. It was underground. I liked this part of the movie - the infiltration battle scene and the final show down when they laser-in guided missiles into the command ships. Much like how they do it in ID4 after they discover how to down a mother ship effectively. Once the command units are down, all drones drop like flies and the foot soldiers retreat.

The action packed movie certainly was worth the time and money. After being disappointed by Skyline, Battle LA is certainly a refreshing invasion movie.

I'd give this one a 7.5 out of a possible 10.


After the great quake...

I remember only a few weeks before the 9.0 Richter scale Tohoku quake just off the east coast of the Oshika Peninsula, Christchurch, New Zealand was shook by a big one, although paling in comparison with the recent quake in Japan.
It seems like the Pacific Ring of Fire's tempest is brewing deep within the bowels of the earth and with greater frequency than ever observed. Japan always had to be wary of quakes. In 1923, the Great Kanto quake almost levelled most of Tokyo and was the impetus for developing advance warning sensors and quake-resistant buildings and technologies.
The death toll now is between 2,000 to 5,000 with the number growing as many bodies are discovered in rubbles and hard-hit areas near the epicentre.
It was not so long ago when great Indonesian quake resulted in a tsunami which hit Indonesia, and ripple all over the Indian Ocean striking Sri Lanka, India and even Malaysia on December 26, 2004, Thank God my friends in the Maldives were spared of any serious damage or worse, injury or death. Ironically, the salvation was through an immense sea-wall system which the Japanese had built for the Maldivians in 2002 as a gesture of bilateral goodwill- probably anticipated the off chance a giant quake off the Indonesia coasts could be powerful enough to send waves of destruction to the Maldivian archipelago.
What's unnerving for me about these disasters is that the fact my mum can sense what she describes as "a sort of uncomfortable buzzing in my head" just days before the quake. Perhaps she has the gift of clairvoyance or perhaps some sort of premonition. For me, sometimes I perceive momentary lapses into what I can describe it as "spinning around" before something happens. The Friday quake however was not caught by any "psychic senses" (if any).
The Japanese are struggling to prevent a nuclear event at the Fukushima Daishi reactor facilities, tirelessly attacking the burning or overheated nuclear rods with sea water from air and land. The ionizing radiation has probably sealed some of the workers' doom despite what local news agencies say about the radiation levels. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster comes to mind. Many were exposed to radiation doses which were 100 times more than Fukushima and many died to prevent radioactive particles from reaching the nearby towns and cities in Russia and parts of Europe.
Back in Japan, news agencies reported recently that radiation has been found in food, and the mostly likely iodine-131 which is absorbed by your thyroid glands. Having done some reading on the subject, apparently the best way to avoid its absorption is to ingest iodine pills (the one with the non-lethal isotopes) to saturate your thyroid glands so that the radioactive iodine will just pass through your system with minimal retention.
I admire the people and governments whose relief efforts are pouring in to Japan.
What I find completely revolting is some first lady making mindless statements; implying that the recent quake was a result of Japan's lack of studies in environmental factors and go-green technologies. Just days after our local news agency Berita Harian apologizes for publishing an-insensitive caricature of Ultraman running away from Tokyo with a giant wave closing in, our premier's wife had to embarrass the lights of the nation.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Libyan conflict intensifies

Security forces have tried to retake the eastern town of Al-Zawiyah where the oil refineries are situated. Right now, Libyan authorities are said to be assuming that they have control of the West. Rebel fighters are armed no less.
Whilst the world superpowers condemn the use of force by Libyan security forces on civilians, Gaddafi has some allies who will not take a hard stand against the embattled leader.

Former Cuban president, Fidel Castro opines that there will be a US-backed invasion lead by NATO to take the country's oil. Venezuela and Zimbabwe has not publicly criticized Libya. Venezuela in particular, has close links to Iran and have made somewhat a tepid offer to mediate. Last week, the UN Security unanimously passed a resolution to impose several embargoes to Gaddafi, his family and assets.

The Libyan Transitional Council chair and spokesperson are contradicting each other on talks with the current regime in what appears to be a framework to waive criminal prosecution in exchange for stepping down and making a departure. Liberty for relinquishing power. Somehow the proposed trade off probably would not sit well for a lot of people. The war crimes against his people, against humanity will not blow away with the wind.

Security forces are stepping up the assaults and the casualties are mounting by the day. Benghazi correspondents have reported sporadic gun fire whilst the eastern Libya is raining bullets. Looks like a civil war is inevitable, or rather, this is a civil war in infancy. The east is in the grasp of the opposition and some western parts are reported to be under rebel controls. Intense fighting is reported in Zuwiyah and there is practically no way in, even a communications blackout.
Anti-rebel forces have amassed and surrounded Ras Lanuf which was taken by anti-Gaddafi rebels a few days ago. It only stands to reason that this is a matter of time. The rebel forces will not be able to hold out for long without aid. They are close to being outgunned and out numbered.

What the UN Security Council has to do is decide on the no-fly zone which was been talked about. Military force would be hard to push up with Russian and China possessing veto power in the Council. The no-fly zone may not be feasable as current tactical assessment places Gaddafi ground forces as the real threat and jets would have difficult targeting Libya's fleet of attack choppers at low altitudes. Of course, imposing a no-fly zone may tantamount to an act of war.

More than three quarters of a million civilians have sought asylum from neighbor Tunisia and Egypt. More are still leaving the country for fear of a full blow civil war so long as Gaddafi refuses to relent and continues his onslaught.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

A weekend at the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

Whether really worth it or not, I decided to sign up for MO's Elite Club membership for a year. The salesperson really had a good telephone voice who sounds like a middle-aged mother with a few kids. I reckon she's doing this part time. First thing she told me about the package was a complimentary deluxe room with a view of the city or KLCC Park, vouchers for hi-tea and dinner free; in my mind, nothing comes free, but she was candid about the package.
What really convinced me was her motherly persistence. She was a nice lady, calling me even after I had signed up to make sure everything was in order. Thinking about my own mother, I thought perhaps she would deserve a weekend with her best friends, having hi-tea and to the SPA. Rooms would be 50% off, 20-30% ff on dining, 23% off on SPA (I still have one voucher for a complimentary hour at the SPA). What's more, my friends can enjoy the same privileges- the membership is transferable, but only valid up to March 2012. All they have to do is pick up the membership card from me.
I checked in about 2pm on Saturday and went straight to the lounge of the 1st floor. The hi-tea was a delightful fulfillment of palates. A delectable selection of pastries and sweets. Devonshire tea (citrus infused early grey with scones, served with cream, marmalade and jam), cheesecakes, mini-chocolate cakes, sandwiches, mini-burgers and turkish delights! All brought to you in a decked-tray. Tea is kept hot by a pot-sleeve.
I spent an hour plus; taking my time savoring the spread and reading a graphic-version of Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Decartes and the greatest astronomers, physicists and scientists humanity has ever seen. For once, i can understand how the Pythagoras theorem came about and how it was Copernicus, not Einstein who first described (although he didn't realise it), the theory of relativity...
After hi-tea, I relegated to my weekend crib, complete with a workstation, Internet connection and a nice hi-back chair for me to catch up on some work. I got a deluxe suite facing the city with a king-sized bed and a 2-seater couch, over and above the workstation. The sun was glistening, but I was comfortably nestled in my huge bed, with a pile of pillows, tea or coffee and fresh pears. The room comes with a 42-inch plasma TV, complete with 30 channels and a DVD player!
Most important of all is my bath tub! Next to it, a shower stall and a separate compartment for the toilet. The bathroom is almost fully-mirror giving the illusion of size and grandeur. The doors are folding as opposed to conventional-hinged door and from the bathtub, I can still watch TV (with speakers routed to the bathroom; adjustable volume) and read my novel at the same time. When I spend time at hotels, it's no less than 3 times per day in the bath tub! Morning, after lunch and after dinner!
I got up this morning and went to KLCC Park for a stroll. The restaurants rimming the park were mostly opened. I was thinking of some Eggs Benedict at Dome, but decided to get a Sausage McMuffin at McDs. I went down to Cold Storage to get some springrolls and onion rings after breakfast for a TV snack after that. Yes, I headed to the bath tub again to finish my book and to watch TV. I checked out at 2pm after a long, well deserved break.
What a treat after a long week. I shall look forward to coming back here again from some "Peter time". Next time, I'll certainly try the SPA and use the gym. Since it's 50% off for rooms and suites, I'll take 2 nights for the price of 1...


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Getting Killed For Having An Opinion

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister was shot for taking a stance against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. He had prepared to die for his principles against what he perceived as a law which is subject to abuse and purely to protect Islamic authority. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

What sort of religion would prescribed killing to go to heaven? I guess the Taliban can tell us the answer to that. I am fed up with hearing of persecutions of Christians across the world, especially by the ones who would do it for the sake of their faith. The price to pay for freedom of religion is getting far too much for Christians.

Everything has its place in time. After all, observe the turmoil happening on the Arab nations and the Muslim world. Some say it's the demise of an old regime consisting of dictators, cronies and Islamist fundamentalist, thralled with destruction at the hands of self-fulfilling events. Others will say is the hands of God rebuking the ones who profess everything in the name of god to loot, plunder and murder.

It is foretold that the end is near. Christians must ever be more vigilant and look out for signs of the Second Coming. The rife in the Middle East was prophesied. The uncanny development of events lend so much credence that biblical events are unfolding throughout the world. The weather shifts, the rising seas and even the rise of China and Russia. It is undeniably true.

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