Better than Streaming: SM Cinema is reopening nationwide!

Welcome back, fellow geeks and movie buffs! If you are present here in the Philippines and you really crave for watching movies inside the cinema, then you will be happy to know that major cinema operator SM Cinema is gradually reopening its cinemas around the nation complete with safety measures related to COVID-19 (note: SM Cinema has been certified by the Safety Seal program) and the stuff that people enjoy watching inside an SM-operated movie theater.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from SMSupermalls.com. Some parts in boldface…

A premium cinema with leather seats. (photo source – SM Cinema)

First to reopen is SM Cinema Aura Premier on November 17, Wednesday. The newly redeveloped theaters at SM Cinema North EDSAMall of Asia and Megamall will be reopening on November 24, while SM Cinema Grand Central, the newest SM Cinema branch, will be on November 26. SM Cinema FairviewSouthmall, Manila, BF Parañaque, Clark, San Lazaro, Baguio, Dasmariñas, Sta. Rosa, Sucat, Sta Mesa, and Bicutan will reopen to the public on November 30.

As one of the first establishments to acquire a Safety Seal, SM remains committed to the safety and wellbeing of their mallgoers. SM Cinema, in partnership with Hygiea Innovations and Technology, Inc, have installed MERV filters and air purifiers to ensure safe and clean cinema for everyone. A health and safety officer will be present for every screening while movie theaters will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized regularly. SM Cinema employees are fully vaccinated and will be at your service in full PPE gear.

Before you head off to the cinemas with the entire family in tow, take note of these important reminders:

  • Safety protocols will be strictly implemented within the cinemas.
  • Moviegoers, from adults to kids, must be fully vaccinated to be allowed inside the cinemas.
  • They must also wear well-fitted face masks at all times and face shields are non-mandatory and voluntary. A health declaration must be presented upon ticket purchase.
  • Temperature and symptoms will be checked upon mall entry

SM Cinema is making every step of the theatergoing experience as contactless as possible to give customers what they’re ultimately looking for these days – a safe and clean environment. Reopened SM Cinemas will have capacity restrictions to allow customers to social distance one seat apart from each other. Bringing of food inside will be prohibited for now, although drinking water will be allowed in consideration of possible emergencies and health risks. Audiences will be asked to remain in their seats during the duration of the movie, and cashless payment options will be available via GrabPay, GCash, or credit or debit card.

With a wide selection of movies genres perfect for both adults and kids, much anticipated films like Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City,” and “No Time To Die;” are just some of the movies waiting for cinephiles at SM Cinemas!

K-Pop fans will also have “Black Pink The Movie” and Monsta X: The Dreaming to look forward to, and Pinoys can get their fill of local movies like “Encanto” and “Kunwari Mahal Kita,” which will premiere starting November 24. Plus, the Metro Manila Film Festival will run from December 25 to January 7, 2022, with more Filipino movies to enjoy!

Given how dedicated SM Supermall and SM Cinema really are when it comes quality, sanitation and efficiency, it comes to no surprise that no expense was spared to make SM Cinema branches safe and the best they could be during this time of pandemic. The cinema workforce is fully vaccinated and they have the equipment needed to sanitize the movie theaters and keep it safe for incoming moviegoers.

For the newcomers reading this, cinemas in Metro Manila officially reopened on November 10 in relation to the easing restrictions as the daily count of new COVID-19 infections nationwide fell down dramatically. With the lessening restrictions, more people are allowed to go out and more businesses were given more freedom to accommodate more customers (both indoor and outdoor depending on the locations of their respective joints). Movie theaters or cinemas are obviously part of the businesses and now is the time for them to cater to people who want to experience once again the greatness of watching movies on the big screen which is something that streaming movies or TV shows at home can never match.

There are also other advantages that cinemas have over those streaming apps such as premium seating (note: SM Cinema has the Director’s Club line that offers extraordinary cinema comfort with leather seats, in-house butler service, and an exclusive food menu for guests), technologically advanced big-screen technologies (examples: IMAX, 3D and 4D) and premium sound systems (note: Netflix, HBO Go, HBO Max, Disney+ and all other streaming apps really have nothing to offer when it comes to top-notch audio.)

For those of you who really have decided to return to cinemas for your movie viewing pleasure, remember that what you pay for will not only help the cinema operators but also contribute to the economic recovery our nation badly needs to rise from this COVID-19 crisis. The money you pay for streaming services really do not help at all.

Once again, I encourage you all to take time out to support local cinemas with your family members or your friends. The cinema viewing experience is always better than streaming!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

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Tokyo Game Show 2021 (TGS 2021) Xbox livestream set for September 30

With Gamescom 2021 and the Tokyo Olympic Games over, video gaming will be highlighted in Japan with this year’s edition of the annual Tokyo Game Show happening at the end of this month and Team Xbox has a new online event set to be streamed on September 30, 2021 (6PM Tokyo Standard Time).

Tokyo Game Show is set for September 30 to October 3.

Before you Xbox fans and gamers get too excited, there is a need to control your expectations first as Aaron Greenberg of Team Xbox tweeted: Well since you asked, @tokyo_game_show is a show for our players in Japan and across Asia. Expect regionally relevant updates, but no major reveals or announcements as our game teams are focused on continuing to ship big releases across October, November, and December.

With major announcements and special reveals ruled out, there will still be fun stuff to show but with Japan and Asia in mind during the 50-minute Xbox livestream. Microsoft’s approach to this event may not be as high-profile as the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase of June but what is clear is that Team Xbox is focused on achieving growth in Japan’s video games industry and already a record number of Japan’s independent game makers have received Xbox development kits.

TGS 2021 is also an opportunity for Team Xbox to emphasize what they have to offer gamers of Asia this coming holiday season. While nothing clear has been made, they could show the latest about Halo Infinite with footage of the single-player campaign. They could also show Psychonauts 2 with the accolades it gained, plus some more new footage of Forza Horizon 5, and reveal details of the limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console for the Japanese market. Xbox Game Pass (XGP) promos and Xbox LIVE updates for Japan are expected.

TGS 2021 could also be the ideal time for Team Xbox to finalize and announce a precise release date of CrossfireX which has been scheduled for a 2021 release. There are only a few months left before the year ends and I believe that the Tokyo Game Show is the ideal time to announce a solid release date with a huge online audience present.

More on Japanese-related gaming, I can only wish that Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama will make an appearance during the Xbox TGS 2021 livestream and give updates about the developments about their two games Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Previously, it has been announced that those two games will be released on Xbox Game Pass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

There is also Tango Gameworks, a Japan-based game studio owned by Bethesda and Xbox. I wish to see some updates from them for the Xbox livestream, especially when it come to future games.

Watch out for the TGS 2021 Xbox Livestream at the official YouTube channel of Xbox at https://www.youtube.com/c/xbox

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: Why I look forward to The Suicide Squad’s eventual 4K Blu-ray release

I want to start by saying that I am not a fan of the Suicide Squad entertainment franchise of DC Comics for the simple reason that I rarely read any of its comic book. In 2016, out of curiosity, I got to watch Suicide Squad in the cinema and even got some enjoyment out of it.

This year, The Suicide Squad got released and what caught my attention was the fact that it was directed and written by the highly creative James Gunn who made his mark in American cinema with the Guardians of the Galaxy films which established their own notable place within the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sadly, being based here in the Philippines, I won’t be able to watch the newest DC Comics movie on the big screen because local cinemas have stopped showing movies since the COVID-19 pandemic started (note: some local cinemas were used as vaccination sites). Although millions of people here in the Philippines have been vaccinated, there are still no new signs that movie theaters will reopen and resume the showing of movies.

The movie poster of The Suicide Squad.

The next best option for me is the eventual 4K Blu-ray release of The Suicide Squad.

Now don’t get me wrong. As of this writing, there is still no official announcement yet that The Suicide Squad will come out on Blu-ray (for 1080p viewing) and 4K Blu-ray. Still, that movie has a 4K Blu-ray page at Blu-ray.com and can see it by clicking right here. Trust me, The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray will be announced soon!

Posted below are key details from the said page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Original aspect ratio: 1.90:1

Audio – TBA

Subtitles – None

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (2 BD)

Digital

Digital 4K

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

Why I look forward to this movie’s 4K Blu-ray release

Firstly, being a geek, I find James Gunn’s superhero-related work to be really creative and that includes combining bombastic spectacle with presenting groups of characters whose interactions and respective personalities prove to be memorable. He is also a solid storyteller and has proven to be capable of not only getting solid performances from the actors but also making good use of their respective talents.

Secondly, for some time now, I’ve been checking for updates about how Gunn’s style and approach would make the new Suicide Squad movie of Warner Bros. fun and engaging to watch. The good news here is that, as of this writing, critical reception has been positive.

Of course, movie critics’ tastes are different from my own and it will be some time before I will finally get to watch the The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray.

Thirdly, I find the cast of the new movie interesting and intriguing. John Cena as Peacemaker looks zany. Michael Rooker’s Savant looks intimidating. There is also the iconic Sylvester Stallone providing the voice of King Shark! Of course, there is also Idris Elba as Bloodsport and I wonder how the cinematic version of the character will turn out. Bloodsport debuted in the 1987 comic book Superman #4 (Volume 2) during the time John Byrne spearheaded comics of Superman.

Fourthly, my 4K Blu-ray collection is pretty small as of this writing and when it comes to Warner Bros./DC Comics superhero movies available in 4K Blu-ray format, I want something much better than Wonder Woman 1984 (note: director Patty Jenkins clearly did not take inspiration from the fine works of the legendary George Perez as far as telling a Wonder Woman story set in the 1980s goes. The presentation was also bloated and disappointing.).

From this point on, The Suicide Squad has its chance to recover its huge production and marketing costs by playing in several movie theaters (that managed to stay open or reopened) around the world. How the movie-loving public, geeks and DC Comics fans will react remains to be seen.

There is also the possibility that James Gunn-directed DC Comics movie might not score highly in ticket sales given the fact that it has been launched also on the streaming service HBO Max. Matching the $746.8 million global ticket sales of 2016’s Suicide Squad is pretty daunting for the new movie in this age of pandemic. Streaming the movie for home viewing is convenient but the best visual experience is still in the movie theaters, especially in the IMAX cinemas (because the movie was filmed with IMAX cameras).

It should be noted that paying for HBO Max does NOT mean you are paying The Suicide Squad producers and investors. Buying movie tickets, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray discs actually pay the film’s producers, investors and business partners. That being said, I encourage you to go for Blu-ray and/or 4K Blu-ray instead of streaming when it comes to enjoying movies at home.

Too bad the local IMAX cinemas and all regular theaters here in the Philippines remain closed. Clearly the best option for me to watch The Suicide Squad is on 4K Blu-ray in the near future. Streaming is definitely not an option for me and I am not going to waste my money on any streaming service.

Stay tuned for future updates about The Suicide Squad on 4K Blu-ray.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray, V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-ray and Highlander 4K Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

What to watch today for Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you my readers and my fellow Christians! We honor and remember our Lord and Savior Jesus whose birth, life, sacrifice and resurrection remains highly significant to this day. It is during the Christmas season we should focus mainly on Lord Jesus and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the elements of this screwed-up world we live in. Christmas is all about Lord Jesus, nothing else and nobody else!

That being said, it is time for us all to take the opportunities of today to deepen our faith in the Lord and this is about what to watch this Christmas.

No, I am not talking about the venomous Hollywood movies that pretend to be about Christmas, nor those movies that used Christmas as a backdrop or a setting. In fact, I am not talking about movies at all.

What I am talking about are Christ-centered events and presentations that we can find online and easily access. For starters, we can warm up ourselves with the many Christmas musical performances by Hillsong Worship and a few from Planetshakers below.

Now we can focus on upcoming Christmas events. In fact, a few of them will happen today – December 24, hours from now to be precise! Let’s start with Hope Unlimited Church (HopeUC) and its Christmas Eve service which will start live streaming via YouTube today at 2:45 PM Manila Time (5:45 PM in Australia). For the newcomers reading this, HopeUC is headed by the famous pastor Darlene Zschech and her husband Mark.

Next is the Christmas Eve service of Hillsong Church which will start live streaming via YouTube at 3PM Manila time (6PM in Australia) today. Expect to see Brian and Bobbie Houston.

Tomorrow, Hillsong Church will have its Christmas Day service. It will start live streaming via YouTube at 6:30 AM Manila time (9:30 AM in Australia).

Another Christmas Eve event you should pay attention to is Yugto, to be organized and presented by Church of God, World Missions Philippines. This special event will start streaming live via the megachurch’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel tonight at 10PM in the Philippines (1AM of December 25 in Australia).

Each of the scheduled Christmas special events of HopeUC, Hillsong and Church of God, World Missions Philippines will include teachings of the Word of God, musical presentations, prayers and other special activities that viewers can focus on and deepen their faith in Lord Jesus.

In ending this, posted below are YouTube videos of the recent Christmas-related events that you might have missed. Enjoy them and remember to take steps when you want to deepen your faith in the Lord. Merry Christmas to you all and remember to keep on being the fearless and aggressive church of Lord Jesus!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Sharing this Christian piece means spreading the good news of the Lord to others. It can help you save the unsaved and the lost souls out there.

If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Hope Alive Conference by New Life Church on December 11 and 12, 2020

Are you looking for an event online to deepen your faith in the Lord and adjust yourself accordingly? If you are seeking such an event, then you should know that the Hope Alive Conference soon to be organized by New Life Church is all set to happen on December 11 and 12, 2020 online.

The good news here is you still have time to prepare for it.

Hope Alive Conference will be held online on December 11 and 12, 2020. (credit: Hope Alive PH and New Life Philippines)

To put things in perspective, the Hope Alive Conference is an online event that will bring words of fresh hope right in the comfort of your home. There will be pastors who will speak out the Word of God and share their insights about Christianity. The activities will be streamed live through Facebook and YouTube. You simply should look for New Life Philippines’ channels to avail of the livestreaming.

Day 1 of the conference is on December 11. There will be a morning online rally set for 10AM local time with pastors Paul and Shoddy Chase (the founder and senior pastors of New Life Church) leading it. On the evening at 7PM is another online rally led by pastor Lawrence Lim of the New Creation Church based in Singapore.

Day 2 of the conference on December 12 will see the morning online rally at 10AM which will be led by pastor Chad Mansbridge of the Australia-based Bayside Church. The evening rally set for 7PM will be led by New Life Philippines lead pastors Jocel and Mylene Evangelista.

The Hope Alive Conference will mark the culmination for the campaign to share hope, speak hope and give hope to those who seek it during this time of pandemic. It will also provide troubled Christians inspiration, enlightenment and the holiness of the Lord that they need.

You still have time to prepare for the conference and you can start by visiting  https://www.facebook.com/events/1449121155478971/

Once the Hope Alive Conference finally happens, be sure you have good Internet connection, your mobile device or your personal computer fully operating (with the Facebook and YouTube apps already running), and you have your notebook, your pen and the Holy Bible with you. For the faithful reading this, always keep on being the fearless and aggressive church of Lord Jesus! Take part in the Hope Alive Conference!

Note: Images here are properties of Hope Alive PH and New Life Philippines.

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My Observations: COVID-19’s impact on crowded fun-oriented events should be taken seriously

For the past few weeks, the coronavirus disease COVID-19 halted much of the world’s societies and economies compelling families to stay at home as the authorities struggle to prevent infections from spreading.

Community quarantine and regional lockdown have been implemented which strongly limited people from traveling around and also negatively affected truck deliveries which really hurt manufacturing and other key economic sectors like food production (and the businesses that sell food), retailing and more.

Unsurprisingly, special events that attract a lot of people as attendees have been postponed or cancelled. In the city of Parañaque here in the Philippines, the planned 2020 cityhood anniversary celebration had to be scaled down dramatically because of COVID-19-related fear. The said celebration’s most popular events such as the Bb. Parañaque beauty pageant and the Sunduan Festival could not be organized and as of this writing, no new dates for organizing such events have been announced. Under the current quarantine procedures, mass gatherings have been prohibited.

That being said, it would be best to forget about crowded fun events for the short term and just focus on being safe at home, managing your precious funds and maintaining faith in the Lord (note: study the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to Him).

Speaking of fun events, Comic Book Resources (CBR.com) published a new article that caught my attention titled Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions. It caught my attention because I myself had attended several pop culture events, including the gigantic Comic-Con International in San Diego, California (AKA San Diego Comic-Con).

Let’s focus on this excerpt from Comic Book Resources:

Comic conventions long have been an integral part of fan communities. Before comic-book movies and TV shows were a multibillion-dollar enterprise, fans looked forward to these annual gatherings as a chance to be surrounded by people who shared their interests. They (were) a sacred place where fans could collectively celebrate something they were really passionate about.

And they were fun. Really fun. Fans from across the country would make the pilgrimage to get up close and personal with the writers and artists they idolized. It was a dream come true for members of what was then a tight-knit community.

Over the years, that’s all changed. The conventions that were so beloved by a small group of people have ballooned into massive undertakings, drawing thousands of people from all over the world. They’re not so much fan-driven conventions anymore as much as they are trade shows for the entertainment industry.

That’s not to say these super conventions aren’t fun in their own right; they absolutely are. They offer fans a chance to witness major announcements, take part in Q&A’s with their favorite stars and celebrate pop culture on an unprecedented level. They’ve become an annual staple for the promotion of the latest film and television franchise projects, and big names continuously turn up.

Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions.

To put things in perspective, any convention that is focused on fun would not be possible without the strong interest of multiple fans or enthusiasts who are not only willing to make time to attend such an event but also bring a good amount of money with them and spend on their respective interests.

The San Diego Comic-Con in California, the New York Comic Con in New York, and the AsiaPop Comicon here in the Philippines all require paying a fee (for the ticket or badge) in order to enter the venue which has most entertainment events and booths that fans can go to.

When it comes to special activities, private screenings of trailers of upcoming blockbuster movies occasionally get organized as well as Q&A panel sessions with entertainers or industry professionals, press conferences and more.

However, we are now living in the age of social media, wide access to the Internet and smartphones which enable users to take pictures or videos in high-definition and upload them for people to see online. Think about it carefully.

What good is a closed-door press conference with celebrities when a fan in attendance can capture everything on video and beat the bloggers and members of the press by releasing content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

What good is a private screening (which restricts attendees from taking footage) of a trailer or a short scene from a highly anticipated blockbuster movie when such content will only be released by the movie studio on YouTube, Facebook and other sites where Internet users can watch for free at the comfort of their homes?

What good is a fan convention if attendees post pictures/videos of embarrassing moments (example: someone throws a pie on the face of a movie star in front of the fans) online within minutes and become viral?

What good is buying classic comic books at the comic convention when the comic publishers themselves failed to wipe out the widespread online piracy (note: entire issues of comic books in digital form) of their comics which people can find and read for free?

One key point here is that fan conventions and other fun-oriented events that attract a lot of people are slowly losing their relevance. Convention organizers will have to come up with ways not only to stay relevant, not only to ensure exclusive stuff in their event is truly exclusive, but also innovate and raise the convention’s overall quality.

Going back to COVID-19, it is clear that the said virus is highly infectious and this alone defeats the purpose of organizing a huge event for as long as the risk of infection remains. As of this writing, local authorities are struggling to clean and disinfect places. Killing the virus is a costly and time-consuming affair.

Recently, the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) had to be canceled due to COVID-19 which was a huge blow to many video game and technology companies that had signed up for the event. Microsoft, which was supposed to showcase their upcoming Xbox Series X console at E3, promptly announced it will organize a digital event instead.

Think about those words: digital events. Digital events can be done by companies to make a special presentation of their products or services in the form of a lengthy and detailed pre-recorded video or by organizing privately their showcase event (held in a venue that the company has all to itself) live via livestreaming. With the access of the Internet and the massive reach that social media provides, digital events can make fan conventions even more unnecessary. Digital events are also very useful for companies because they not only have complete privacy but also a lot more control in terms of creativity as well as amount of information to be released. This also spares companies from the hassles of crowd control as well as rampant questioning from members of the news media.

Together, COVID-19, wide Internet access and social media are factors that make organizing crowded fun-oriented showcase events more challenging than ever before. Why bother attending a local beauty pageant live in Parañaque City when viral infection, live-streaming and even crime incidents could happen?

Even after the end of this COVID-19 crisis, the community quarantine and regional lockdown, I foresee that it will take a lot more time before life really goes back to normal.

By then, I don’t think enthusiasm for crowded fun-oriented events would be restored to high levels immediately. Sports events, in my opinion, have a better chance of resuming given the nature of sports competition which remains very important with Filipinos. Other events like food fairs and shopping bazaars are more important to people in the local communities than beauty pageants or fan conventions. What people clearly want once this current crisis is over is worshiping the Lord together at church on Sundays.

Attending church is more essential than a crowded beauty pageant or a fan convention. There is no doubt about that!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com