Monday, March 28, 2022

Netflix Picks: Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb

I was a nerd as a child. I think I actually still am. One of the things that I used to nerd on about, apart from Greek mythology, was anything to do with Ancient Egypt. I used to dream of being an anthropologist and archaeologist so I could learn more about these things when I grew up. While that never happened, I still carry that fascination with history with me now that I’m older and read up on it or watch documentaries related to it as a hobby. One of those documentaries is Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb on Netflix. 

I remember watching the news on the Saqqara tomb online when they opened the casket that was discovered there. Later on, when I found out that Netflix had a documentary about the discovery, I knew I had to watch it!

The documentary tells the story of how in 2018, archaeologists discovered an untouched tomb from the 25th century (BC). In the same area, they found adjacent tombs that had well-preserved mummies, along with some mummified animals. This main tomb was later on discovered to be that of an Egyptian high priest named Wahtye and his family.  

The film interviews the various people involved in the site during the discovery. I think this is the first documentary that I’ve seen involving a dig that did not have any white people involved or in charge. It was quite refreshing to see that the Egyptians were doing this on their own. I saw the sense of pride and respect each worker had for the history that was involved in their work. This was about their story and they were happy to be a part of uncovering it. 

I loved how the whole thing was put together and how it presented the facts of the dig to the audience without making it too boring. As a nerd about these things, however, I was half-expecting Zahi Hawass to make an appearance since he is almost always featured in films like this. I later discovered that he was already 74 years old, so I guess maybe he retired or doesn’t join digs as much as he used to. 

The discovery of the Saqqara tomb is extraordinary in the way that everything about it was an undiscovered territory. The tomb was well-preserved, which meant that everything in it was free for the archaeologists to study, as opposed to many tombs that have been discovered and raided by robbers through the years.

It was amazing to see the process involved in the expedition. I admire the people working on these digs because the work involves a lot of patience and attention to detail. Considering that everything has to be done manually and you have to be extra careful with every little item, it made me realize that I probably would not survive as an archaeologist. I would get sick from the extreme heat that these people have to go through and all the dust they have to endure. 

I thought that it was sad to discover how the story of Wahtye and his family was unveiled: from what they could gather everyone died at the same time due to some disease. Such a tragedy. At the same time though it was inspiring to see how this was discovered just by studying the tomb and every detail in it, including the bones of the dead.

The way I see it, there is more to be discovered at Saqqara if they continued their work after the documentary ended. I hope that they have learned more about the area and that they found more tombs to learn from. All that history and culture is a wealth of information that we can all learn from and I can’t wait to hear more about their progress. 

If you are a history buff and Ancient Egypt fan like me, you might like this documentary. It’s worth the time watching it!


Friday, March 25, 2022

Series Review: The Lost Symbol

Let me get this out of the way before I start my review: I am a fan of the Dan Brown books. I read the books long before the movies came out. I read The Lost Symbol before it was made into a TV show. Naturally, as a fan, as soon as I read about this show being made I decided that I wanted to watch it.

According to some sites that I visited about the show, this was supposed to be a movie, a prequel to the other movies since this is set before The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Inferno. It did not work out and they decided to, later on, make this into a TV series.

I am not familiar with any of the actors on the show with the exception of the male lead who plays Robert Langdon. I remember seeing him before on Designated Survivor. I think that it was good that I wasn’t familiar with the actors as much because sometimes if I’ve seen actors repeatedly in more famous roles I tend to see them as those people rather than the characters they are currently playing. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Netflix Picks: The Fabulous Filipino Brothers

There’s so much opportunity for Asian representation these days with the rise in popularity of Korean music (BTS), movies (Parasite), and TV shows (Crash Landing on You) in the US. Movies like Crazy Rich Asians also paved the way for more opportunities for Asians in Hollywood. 

I think it’s a natural step in the right direction to have a movie that focuses on Filipino culture since there are so many of them in the entertainment industry. People like Lou Diamond Philips, Vanessa Hudgens, Olivia Rodrigo, H.E.R….there are so many of them to mention. I think it was a given that eventually a movie would come out to showcase some of that Filipino talent. Enter the Basco brothers (Dante, Darion, Dionysio, and Derek) and their movie, The Fabulous Filipino Brothers. 

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers is about the four male siblings of the Abasta family and the series of events each one had leading to the wedding that is at the center of the movie. In a way, you get four mini-movies or episodes in one movie that ties them all together. All this was also being narrated by an unseen female, whose identity is revealed at the end of the movie. 


Monday, March 21, 2022

Series Review: CSI Vegas

One genre that I have always been a fan of is crime procedural TV shows. I enjoy watching policemen/detectives solve crimes and beat the bad guys by finding clues and evidence that lead them to their suspects. 

I remember being a fan of CSI back in the day. I watched all of them: CSI, CSI New York, CSI Miami, and CSI Cyber. They were all interesting shows. A bit cheesy at times, but still entertaining shows. When all these shows died their natural deaths, I thought I would never see their stories on TV again. That is until I heard of CSI Vegas.

CSI Vegas was meant to be a sort of epilogue season to the original CSI show: the season showed what has happened under a new set of people now that the original detectives and CSIs have moved on with their lives. While not all the previous members of the cast were shown in this season, there was mention of some of them and several of them were also part of the cast for this new version. 


Monday, March 14, 2022

Netflix Picks: Locke & Key

I’m not really into comic books, I’ve never been a fan. Graphic novels are just not my thing. When I heard that the Netflix show Locke & Key was based on a graphic novel, I was not sure if I would be interested in it. However, during one of my (several) times quarantined during this pandemic, I had enough time to watch things online and I decided to give this a try. I ended up watching the two seasons available on Netflix. 

Locke & Key is the story of the Locke Family. The father Rendell was murdered by a student in the school he worked in. His wife then decided to move her children to Rendell’s family home in Massachusetts, called Key House. While there, her children discover magical keys that each have a specific magical purpose. They also come face to face with a demon who is after the same keys to gain power.


Friday, March 11, 2022

Series Review: A Discovery of Witches Season 3

Finally, after a long wait, fans like me finally got to see the third and final season of the TV series A Discovery of Witches. Based on the All Souls books by Deborah Harkness, the season follows the story of witch Diana Bishop and her husband, the vampire Matthew Clairmont as they travel back to the present day from Elizabethan England to learn the secrets of the Book of Life. 

In this final season, there are only seven episodes, as opposed to the original 10 from the first season and 8 for the second. It was explained that the budget for the 8th episode was used for COVID protocols, which is understandable during these pandemic times. I’d rather have one less episode than not have it at all. 

It was bittersweet to be watching the show knowing that it was the last season, which was to be expected as this would end the story of Matthew and Diana as it did in the books. It was exciting to see this part of the story come to life but at the same time, it felt a bit like saying goodbye to all these characters that I know and love.

The cinematography and the effects, as always, were perfect. The acting is still as good as it has been in the previous seasons. I think the difference with this season compared to others was that there was more time and focus made on the ensemble cast than just Matthew and Diana. I liked that there were moments that focused on these supporting characters because I did enjoy reading about them in the books as well.

I was very pleased with the casting of Toby Regbo as Jack. At first I was skeptical because I had my own idea of what Jack would have looked like. I have also seen Toby’s other roles and wasn’t sure if I could picture him as Jack. But, being the good actor that he is, he pulled it off. I’ve always enjoyed the way he acts, there is something about him that seems so subdued and yet impactful.

As someone who has read the books, there were several parts that were changed in the story. Given the limited time they had to share the story, I understood that changes would have to be made to move things along faster. Still, there were critical scenes from the books that made it and I loved watching them, clapping happily at how good they were executed. 

Fans of the show would notice that the actor who plays Baldwin has changed due to scheduling conflicts with the original actor. Peter McDonald did a good job being Baldwin. It was a bit of a different take on the role but he still exuded that power that the character had. In fact, I felt that I could sympathize with the character more when he played Baldwin. There was a softer, redeemable side that I saw in him more than with the first actor. 

The final episode was very beautifully made. It was nice to be able to say goodbye to each of the characters and to the books themselves with the way the ending scenes were presented. I know that the story ends here but I would love to be able to see spinoff shows featuring the other characters, even those who don’t have detailed back stories in the books yet. Fans of the books know that there is a book about Marcus and Phoebe, but I’d love to know more about Marcus’ children in New Orleans. I feel like they have this whole different dynamic there that would be interesting to watch.

As a Toby Regbo fan, I’d love to see a show about him as Jack and how he has struggled in the years without Matthew and Diana. And, as a Gallowglass fan, I would love to see more about the character as well. Maybe not so much about the years he was pining for Diana, but maybe about how he moves on from there. I know that Deborah Harkness confirmed that a book on Gallowglass is in the plan, but she’s not quite there yet. I hope we get to see that book or maybe an authorized spinoff sometime in the future.

So sad to say goodbye to this show….I loved every minute of it and I wish there were more! Thank you to the cast and the production for bringing Deborah Harkness' books to life! This fan is very grateful!


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Review: You are My Destiny

Tiktok may be an app that I have yet to understand completely but it can be useful for some things. I saw a scene from a Chinese drama there and I decided to search for it online. Turns out the drama was a remake of the Taiwanese drama Fated to Love You. 

You are My Destiny is about two complete opposites: a nerdy, doormat type who works as an assistant for a law firm and a confident and rich businessman. Both cross paths as they step onto a cruise ship with their respective significant others. As destiny would have it, she ends up breaking up with her boyfriend on the ship and he is left alone by his girlfriend (who leaves before the ship left the port) and they end up having a one-night stand together, which results in a pregnancy. 

The two end up getting married, although the guy, Wang Xiyi, gets the girl, Chen Jiaxin, to sign a divorce agreement that would ensure that they would split up once the baby is born. Somewhere along the way, the two fall in love with each other, only to be split up through attempts from Xiyi’s (ex) girlfriend and her art broker friend, who is also interested in Jaixin. In the process, the couple also loses their child in an accident, which hits them both hard and complicates their relationship. Now that I am writing about it, the show really had a lot going on and it was pretty heavy. Still, they were able to make it work without the show becoming depressing.

Many years later, fate brings the former couple back together again, which then starts their path to reconciliation. It’s a long, dramatic road, but it does lead to a satisfying ending. 

As long as this series was (36 episodes!), I still enjoyed watching it. The actors, both lead and supporting, were entertaining to watch. The male lead even reminded me of Korean actor/singer Rain because he had that same vibe to him. I enjoyed that it was not just about romance but also about how the relationship brought about the personal growth of both characters into better people. Love was part of the journey, it was what pushed that journey/growth further, but it was not all there was to it. 

I appreciated the fact that the supporting characters, specifically Xiyi’s aunt (the actress who played her was so pretty) and cousin, were not portrayed in the stereotypical way that I was expecting them to be played. I was expecting them to be after the money and to be manipulating, evil characters but they turned out to be very endearing as the show went on. Even Dylan, the guy who was interested in Jaixin, turned out to be a decent guy despite my expectation that he would be just as manipulative as Xiyi’s ex, Anna (who also happens to be his long-lost sister).

One thing that I need to take note of is the product placements made throughout the show. I think this is the norm for some movies and TV shows these days because I’ve seen this in Korean dramas as well. The thing is, with Chinese dramas, I think they are more blatant or more obvious with their product placement. With Korean dramas, the products simply happen to be there whereas the Chinese dramas seem to have a more “here’s the product, take a look at it” mentality.

If you’re looking for a drama that’s easy to watch, this is something that I would recommend, especially if you have seen the Taiwanese version, Fated to Love You. If you have also seen the drama The Day of Becoming You, which I reviewed on this blog, you might also recognize Jaixin as she was portrayed by the same actress who played Yun Sheng Sheng. 

FYI, You are My Destiny is currently on WeTV. Fated to Love You, on the other hand, is on Netflix if you are interested in watching the original first! 


Friday, March 4, 2022

Review: The Witch Part 1 - The Subversion

In one of my earlier posts, I shared my love for the Korean drama series Our Beloved Summer, which stars Choi Woo-Shik and Kim Da-mi. I recently learned that they were in a movie together called The Witch Part 1: The Subversion so I searched for it online to see what that was all about. I found it on iQYi. 

The movie is classified as a horror-action drama and it was released in 2018. It tells the story of children being used as lab rats for experiments and made into superhuman warriors. They are extremely talented, strong, and smart. One of them escapes and is discovered by an old couple who takes her in. 

In the film, this young girl (Kim Da-mi) grows up with no recollection of her childhood and eventually joins a TV singing competition. It is because of this that the people from her past discovers she is alive after she was presumed dead when she escaped. This starts a chain of events where people are after her either to kill her or to use her abilities for their own benefit and her life is never the same again. 

The film had a lot of action and those action sequences were so good that I was looking for more of them throughout the movie. I thought the concept of lab-created superhumans and the abilities that they have opened up this whole world of stories which I assume will be tackled in future movies (this film is labeled as Part 1 after all). For those who do not like the sight of blood, this may not be the movie for you. The film does not shy away from the blood and gore during their action scenes. It may look a little too violent, but I think they would not have been able to portray how strong and how ruthless every one of these superhumans were if they did not do that. 

Kim Da-mi looks like a baby in this movie as opposed to how she looks in Our Beloved Summer. Choi Woo-Shik, on the other hand, looks the same in both the movie and the TV series. Does this guy not age? I liked watching these two as enemies in this movie after watching them as a romantic couple in Our Beloved Summer. It shows how good they both are as actors because they are so different in this movie when you compare it to the series. Both of them have this eerie, creepy aura about them in this one. They have this confident and ruthless air that is so far from their roles in the series, I can’t help but admire their acting abilities. 

As I mentioned before, Choi Woo-Shik is a really good actor. That scene on the train was charming, creepy, and ruthless all at the same time. I don’t know if any other actor could have pulled it off. He was so effective in his role that I had goosebumps in that scene where he talks about the parents and how Da-mi’s character should really go home and see them. He was creepy good. 

Kim Da-mi was no pushover either. I loved her in the scene where she had her big “reveal” (no spoilers, I won’t say what that was about). Just one look from her and she revealed a lot about her character. You knew exactly what was happening without her saying a word. 

I really wish that Woo-Shik’s character lived on somehow from that movie. I would love to see him as her big nemesis as the other movies come out. The chemistry these two have either as love interests or mortal enemies is so good that I can’t help but admire their interactions with each other.

I can’t wait to see the second installment of this movie series. I hope that the movie pushes through because I would love to see what happens next for this character, especially since it ended on a sort of cliffhanger for her. 

If you are a fan of both actors or if you liked Our Beloved Summer, I recommend this movie so you can see the two leads in very different roles. I suprised myself because I don’t really enjoy bloody movies, but I highly recommend this one. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Netflix Picks: Hometown Cha Cha Cha

One of my sisters is a big fan of actor Kim Seon-ho, the actor who rose to fame after appearing in the series Startup. He recently had a follow-up K-Drama on Netflix called Hometown Cha Cha Cha and my sister and her daughter were both watching it every week as it was being released on the streaming platform. A few weeks later my nephew followed and started to watch it as well. I think he was already on the 10th episode when I started to get curious when they talked about what happened in the latest episodes. I decided to see what the fuss was about and began to watch the show myself. 

The show is based on a 2004 South Korean film called Mr. Handy, Mr. Hong. This show, one of the most-watched Korean dramas on Netflix,  did not disappoint. I found myself liking the plot of the story where the city girl dentist loses her job and finds a new life and home in a seaside village as their resident dentist. As someone who moved out of the city and to the province, I could relate to the adjustment that the lead character, Yoon Hye-jin (played by Shin Min-a), had to go through. Luckily for her, she had the very capable Hong Du-sik (Kim Seon-ho) to help her every step of the way.


I am not always a fan of shows that have too many supporting characters but for this one, I have to say that they enhance the show and do not take away from the lead character’s screen times. I love that every one of them has his/her own back story that people can easily relate to and grow attached to. By the end of the show, I found myself rooting for each one of them. 

The show wasn’t a heavy drama, I think it was marketed more as a romantic comedy. There were a lot of cute and funny moments, including “kilig”-worthy scenes that rom-com fans would enjoy. But there were serious parts too, such as stories on different types of love, relationships and divorce, grief, and sexual harassment. 

I love the plot throughout the show that showed Hye-jin and Du-sik repeatedly running into each other at various points in their life, showing that these two were destined to be with each other. I thought that was a cute part of the story. One thing that I didn’t expect but also appreciated having were the parts about Du-sik’s back story: his grief and guilt the deaths of people around him and how it drove him to be the man that he was in the village. After all the cute and kilig moments in the show, it was unexpected but refreshing to have this episode that made me cry buckets while watching it. This show had a lot of heart, I liked that. 

It’s too bad that as this show was coming to an end, Kim Seon-ho was involved in a media scandal involving his ex-girlfriend. I won’t go into detail as I have no idea what is true or not but I just think it’s too bad that this affected the show at the end (I read that they had to cancel some promotional things at the end of the show because of the scandal). I think that he is a good actor and is very charming on screen, it would be such a waste if he did not get to come back to work on other projects because of this issue. 

And as a little side-note, I have to add that I saw a little BTS connection with the show when the plot went to a couple of K-pop idols who went to the village to live there for a few days. The way they were going about the show reminded me so much of BTS In the Soop, only that they were in a seaside village. Another little connection was during the end of the show where I noticed Du-sik wearing the exact same shirt that Suga was wearing when they were interviewed by Chris Martin for their promotion of the song Permission to Dance. Those connections may not be intentional, but they were very cute for an ARMY like me. 

If you love K-dramas, particularly romantic comedies, this is a must-watch for you. I highly recommend it!

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