Man of Steel

The last Superman movie that I watched (just like everyone else) was Superman Returns in 2006. Since the movie came out 7 years ago, I barely remember anything from that one unless I refer to Wikipedia. That's how forgettable the movie was. The new 2013 reboot: Man of Steel is an entirely new movie altogether with no relation whatsoever with the last movie.
Man of Steel started with Clark Kent (Kal El) wandering around Canada doing odd jobs on fishing boats and waiting tables. As the story goes, Clark was still reeling from his adopted father's death and tried to look for traces of his roots and beginning( which he could find in Canada of course). Oh wait, I totally forgot about the Kryptonite's destruction scene early in the film. Krytpon was on the verge of destruction from over-mining of it's planet's core, Lara (Kal El's mom) gave birth to him and send him away in a one way trip to Earth to survive the destruction.
Back to Canada, Clark finally found a spaceship from Krypton which was buried under the ice for 22,000 years. There he meet his dead father whose conscience was preserved in a hologram state and learned everything about Kryptonite and his origin. Louis Lane, a pesky Daily Planet reporter happens to follow Clark Kent into the spaceship and was later attacked by the bad probes in the ship. I don't wanna bore you with the details or spoil the movie for you but let me tell you what I think of the movie.
Amy Adams was the most plain-looking and boring Lois Lane ever. Seriously, Erica Durance would look like a super-model beside her.I don't know what the producer was thinking but I think it was something like 'let's choose some random average-looking actor to play Lois Lane'. I mean the heroin must be at least pleasant to look along with a little bit of cleavage. Furthermore, there wasn't an ounce of chemistry between Clark and Lois in this movie. Heck I think Clark had more chemistry with General Zod than Lois Lane.
Henry Cavill did a decent portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman. If you ask me, he looked much better when he was an unshaven nomadic tramp wandering the shores of Canada. The clean-shaven Superman just doesn't look right. His physique though is out of this world and would give Tom Welling a run for his money.

I don't know whether it's the cinema that I went to but the sound during the entire movie is ridiculously loud. Add that with the endless special effects and fight scene, I was nursing a headache after the 2 hour long movie. Another thing I think Man of Steel relied too much on special effects to draw the appeal fans instead of elements of love, tragedy, conflict or humanity. I know this is Superman, an alien from another galaxy with superhuman abilities and what not so liberal use of special effects is all but expected. But you can't help but compare this movie to say The Dark Knight trilogy which is more realistic and believeable with less spectacular effects. Throughout the movie it was like bang-bang crush and destroy. The movie is too fast-paced for my liking and the amount of destruction caused by General Zod is just unbelievable. More shock and awe than inspirational. Special effects is cool if used sparingly and correctly but I think Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan over-killed it in this one.

I think the scene where Jonathan Kent would rather die in the tornado than let people see Clark saves him is rather silly. In Smallville, Clark would have saved his stepfather in a blink of an eye without anyone noticing anything but a red-blue blur. Also when downtown Metropolis were being destroyed by the genesis machine, I think it's silly that people still hang around and wait in buildings and on the streets when there's a pretty good chance they would be crushed by collapsing buildings or the machine itself.
Man of Steel borrows a few elements from Smallville, like the Smallville high school. Pete which is white, not black. General Zod and the Phantom Zone. Unlike Smallville though, Clark in Man of Steel didn't spend much of his adult life on the Kent farm and he learned to fly pretty quickly too.There's no Lana Lang or the mad Lex Luthor yet in Man of Steel. In Smallville, Clark would speed from one place to another in different parts of the globe in mere seconds. In this movie however, Clark is shown to take buses and hitch hike along highways. What's up with that?
Lastly I feel the movie is way too long. It's like I waited 143 minutes just to see a bunch of aliens fighting and a city almost got reduced to rubble only to find out Clark got a job as a reporter at Daily Planet. And all through the movie there's not a single scene that shows how Clark turned from a boy in a farm to a nomadic trump to a reporter. Although he's Superman, at least show us he took mass com at UiTM or something first to make it more realistic. I don't believe the Daily Planet would simply hire anybody just for good looks and a buff body.
Overall I think despite the best effort of Nolan and Snyder, Man of Steel falls slightly below my expectation. I've never heard of this Snyder guy before today. Just because he produced 300, which is a mediocre achievement in my opinion, doesn't mean he's good enough to make a Superman reboot. I mean this is Superman okay, the most powerful superhero of them all. I had to give this movie 6 out of 10 points only. I hope they would do a better job for the sequel due to be released next year.

Sony Xperia Ion

Remember my previous review about Nokia Lumia 800? The phone is so bad that I've decided to get rid of it. So last week, I put it up for sale at Mudah and let the phone go for a considerably cheaper price than when I bought it. Some poor young chinese guy bought it from me. Poor as in 'he will regret it in a week's time' kind of poor. Yes the Lumia 800 sucks that much.

Now that I sold my good smartphone (my bad smartphone is my 2 years old iPhone 4), I had to get myself another one. Together with some money that I saved, I went to The Mines to get myself a new phone.

I had a few phones in mind before I made myself there. As always I did some extensive research, read the review and hand-ons on blogs and YouTube. See what current users has to say. I was thinking of getting myself either the Huawei P700, Lenovo S890 or a second hand 8GB Nexus 4. That's what my budget like anyway, below 1k ringgit. Once I got to The Mines though, there were very few Huawei devices in sight and no Lenovo smartphones at all. I guess they don't sell less well-known devices there at The Mines. So I changed my strategy and looked for second hand Samsung Note and Galaxy SIII instead.

That's when I stumble upon this used Sony Xperia Ion unit. After much testing, I've decided that fate brought me to this particular shop and imma be the new owner of this beautiful Xperia Ion smartphone. I won't bore you with the specs. Suffice to say it comes with dual core processors, 1GB RAM, 16GB space, 12MP camera and 4.55" screen.Even if I didn't find the Xperia Ion, I was looking for a 4" and larger screen. I've had enough of 3.5" (or 3.7") screens for my smartphones. Save for my trusty iPhone 4 all small screen phone sucks, especially you Lumia 800.

OS-wise, the Ion sports Android 4.04 Ice cream sandwich which is one iteration behind the latest Android update. Sony has confirmed there will be an official update some time in July but until then guess I'll have to be content with 4.04 which is still not too shabby.

The Xperia Ion is made with solid-looking plastic and metal back. Since it's Sony, the plastic doesn't feel cheap at all and the metal back adds a sturdy and polished finish to the phone. Up front you have the 4.55" screen, 1.3 MP front-facing camera, small notification light and 4 virtual menu buttons. Top of the phone is one standard 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom nothing but a tiny hole for microphone. On the right side we have the power button and right below it the volume rocker. On the left side is a little latch for one micro USB port and one micro HDMI port which is pretty useful for playing movies or music from your smartphone on a television set.

At the back we have a non-removable cover which house the main camera and LED flash light. The SIM and micro SD card slot are hidden behind a little removable cover at the top side of the phone's rear. The brushed metal finish at the back makes the phone a pleasure to hold and grasp. And since it's metal, it won't attract much fingerprint or dirt like some plastic Android phone. The phone is quite light and slim too. At least it won't sag down your pants when you carry it around.

The screen at 4.5" is alright. I wish it could be bigger like 4.7" or even 5.0" maybe. The OS, 4.04 is not the latest so you might miss some of the better feature of 4.2 Jelly bean. However since an update is coming next month, it's just a matter of time. The virtual button in front however takes a little bit of time to get used too. First few days I had trouble pressing all the home, back, search and that other icon. Turns out I had to swipe them upwards a little bit to make it response. It's weird since I'm so used to my Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 which response smoothly when I press the virtual buttons normally.

One beef I had with the Ion is the latched-covered USB & HDMI ports on the left. I wish they'd put a normal uncovered port at the bottom of the phone like Nexus 4 and many other Android phones. The cover makes it a chore for me to open and close it carefully whenever I wanna charge the phone or connect the USB cable for transfer. One of these days I might lose the cover altogether. The stock Android keyboard is customizable but the strange thing is you have to tap twice to find the '&' key which is a hassle since I use that a lot.

The 12 MP camera features Mobile Bravia engine which produces excellent picture in normal daylight condition but average pictures at night or low-light conditions. This is also true for the HD video capture which makes great video when there's sufficient lighting but slightly grainy video at light. The dedicated camera button works most of the time even when the screen is lock. Other times it would just not response which is not uncommon for phones with such buttons. Sound produced by the Xperia Ion is loud and clear and you can get an extra boost if you turn on the xLOUD setting in the phone. The basic ringtones that comes with the phone left much to be desired including the super boring default ringtone, a relic of Sony-Ericsson days.

After a few weeks of use, I find the Xperia Ion to be fast and responsive thanks to the dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. The 16GB storage space is also a welcomed addition although I get to use about 11.5GB of it. You won't get that much space from entry level Android phones from Huawei, Lenovo or Acer. Add a micro SD card and you'll get up to 32GB more storage. Sony did a little bit of customization on the stock Android OS, although not so much as to slow down the phone or anything. There's still a couple of bloatware that comes with the phone that you won't be able to remove unless you root the phone. Speaking of rooting, I still haven't done so since the instruction is a little bit more complicated than advanced algebra.

Overall I must say I am quite pleased with the Xperia Ion. The screen size, speed, storage size and features are quite good for a phone under RM1K. If you have a little bit more to spend, I would still recommend you get the Nexus 4 - still the best Android phone in the market at the moment. However this still beats any Nokia Lumia or Windows phone anytime.

Columbia Asia Hospital

A few weeks ago my wife contracted dengue fever and had to be warded for a few days at the hospital. Usually we would go to one of the KPJ Healthcare or Pantai hospitals in Kajang or Cheras. This time however we decided to try out Columbia Asia Hospital which is situated in nearby Puchong.

Actually this is our second visit to the hospital. Our first was when my son sprained his feet and had to undergo further examination, X-ray and all. Admission took a fairly long time, not unlike other private hospitals but definitely not as long as government hospitals though. Facilities-wise, Columbia Asia is not bad - comparable to KPJ but nothing like Pantai which still holds the title for the most modern and comfortable hospital to stay at. That said, the TV in every room surely needs some improvement. Instead of a decent LCD TV, they had this lousy 15" LCD monitor hooked to cable TV with horrible reception and sound.

The doctor here is okay. Knows what they're doing. The nurses and patient-care however was a bit below par I should take. Unlike in KPJ or Pantai, the nurse here comes to see and check on you like once every 3-4 hours. Hospital food choice is rather limited and they were not as good as previous hospitals we went to. The cafeteria is okay, just as expensive as other hospital cafeterias but at least the food was good.

My wife shared her room with another patient and for 2 person rooms for adults they wouldn't let anybody stay overnight. As much as I'd like to keep my wife company, I don't really fancy sleeping on the tiny chair or worse, the hospital floor again so it's probably for the best.

Columbia Asia offers some of the most affordable rates for a private hospital. You get a comfortable two-person shared room for just RM150 a day. Of course all of my wife's expenses at the hospital were paid for by her employer so cost was not an issue. But if you don't happen to buy any insurance, you might want to consider this relatively affordable hospital in Bandar Puteri Puchong.