Friday, November 28, 2014

Pinocchio: Post-Episode 6 Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, Pinocchio has remained a steady treat to watch, and is currently the only drama I'm live-following. As I mentioned in my initial review, this is a story that clearly has its tracks laid out and is riding at a steady, engaging momentum. I'm not at all surprised it won the ratings battle, and I expect the ratings to continue to grow. I'll say though that the romance is still not terribly compelling for me, and is actually only a small portion of why I'm watching. I'm much more invested in the Choi family (love Dad and Grandpa) as well as the new reporter arc and revenge backstory. There's so much good tension and rich characterization all around that to be honest the romance feels like a throwaway drama necessity, which adds some interesting angst but mainly feels like a too-familiar side dish.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Liar Game Reborn: Movie Review

This was a terrible idea. Not so much the story, which is based completely on one of the rounds in the source manga, but just the whole attempt to revamp Liar Game without Kanzaki Nao. I had no idea this sequel was even out until someone commented on my last post, but it was released in 2012. Despite my skepticism of the actress switch and my general disappointment with the 2010 movie, Liar Game: The Final Stage, I couldn't not watch Shota return to his career-defining role as Akiyama. Unfortunately, I could barely sit through half of it, and wouldn't recommend this to even the most ardent Liar Game fans.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pinocchio: Episodes 1-2 Thoughts

Pinocchio's premiere episodes were an easy, breezy watch that managed to avoid feeling stale and boring even during the childhood flashbacks. The hours literally zipped by, which is a pleasure I haven't felt from a drama in a while. That said, I'm not yet completely hooked, and I (fortunately) don't have that sense of dread at having to wait another week for the next episodes. I'm curious as to what comes next, and more than eager to move onto the adult portion of this show, but I'm not passionately won over. It's still early though, and the plot is clearly solid despite being largely predictable. The biggest question for me was whether I would like Park Shin Hye in this, the answer which is mixed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why It's Ok to Compare Remakes

This post has been on my mind for a few weeks now, as the seemingly growing popularity of remakes in Korea has thrown out inevitable drama comparisons and criticisms of those comparisons all over the net. I admit to being very much on the pro-comparison camp, particularly when it comes to my favorite stories. You can see that many of my posts (including Liar Game, FTLY, and Hana Yori Dango) have substantial bits of comparison built in, and I've always enjoyed reading other people's opinions of one version versus another. I like the ability to cross-analyze and dissect a drama, and in my view re-tellings are by design meant to encourage relative evaluation.

It's also come to my attention that there's this rising backlash against making comparisons. This anti side argues that it's annoying to read comments referencing other versions, that dramas should be appreciated as distinct and special snowflakes, that we should judge everything as if it exists in a vacuum. I think that's a nice little idealistic message to tout around and pull out as needed to reprimand comparisons, as if all comparisons are naughty schoolchildren that need to be disciplined and taught what's proper (in this case, to not exist). And as you might tell, it's also a side that I fundamentally disagree with and believe to be far more harmful than positive to the discussion community.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Liar Game (Korea): Episodes 5-6 Thoughts

Before I do the formal review, I just wanted to say that nobody should be taking Woo Jin's psuedo-drama-psychology at face value. I've attended a talk on human deception by a former criminal investigator, and she entirely debunked common myths like liars have poor eye contact or that liars will tend to look to the left. In fact, evidence suggests that liars are more likely to make direct eye contact. So take what you see with a massive grain of salt, because people who lie aren't always going to be so obviously squirming in their seats.

That said, while I generally enjoy this drama (it's the only one I'm following right now, as you can tell from the LG-centric posts recently), I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the hype warrants, plus there's some pretty big frustrations I have with the handling of this. Perhaps those new to this story are able to better enjoy the shock factor and therefore remain highly impressed, but I often find my attention bleeds away during the hour-long episodes. These past two episodes reflect that. The Reinstatement Game was fairly well-adapted relative to the previous games, but for some reason I had a harder time buying the base premise for this game, and am far from infatuated with any of the characters.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Liar Game (Korea): Episodes 3-4 Thoughts

Minority game is probably one of my favorite rounds in the entire Liar Game series. It's so cleverly devised and also features one of the best Akiyama reveals of the whole series. The question he asks, and the staged reveal of his vote - just so freaking swoon-worthy. For the few who haven't seen it, I still recommend you check out the original Japanese Liar Game to really get what I mean, because this version's editing and acting didn't quite do that scene full justice. As mentioned, I'm resigned to accept the Kdrama for what it is, but the pace and structure of this series still has much room to improve, though to be fair I do find it a decent drama.