How To Train Your Dragon – My Review

How To Train Your Dragon was unexpectedly a delightful film to watch. At first I wasn’t interested, after reading the synopsis I felt it would be a good watch, but after watching it, it was much better than I thought it was going to be. It’s fresh, magical, beautifully animated and a touching family film. It proves that DreamWorks can give some serious competition to Pixar.

DreamWorks? Pixar? If you are a fan of animation, you may want to note down the names of two of the biggest animation studios. In 1995, Pixar gave us the first computer animated film – Toy Story, a groundbreaking film that totally changed animation. Both of them have gone head to head for over a decade. Below are names of some of their biggest films:

Wow! Till 2009, I have a copy of all the titles (sniff!) Now you can pick the animation film you liked and then decide which animation studio is your favorite.

Coming back to – How To Train Your Dragon, the movie is about a young Viking boy Hiccup, who aspires to hunt dragons like his brut father Stoick and someday slay the most dangerous dragon ‘Night Fury’ which has never been hunted before by any of the Vikings.

During the opening battle with the dragons, Hiccup tries to help his village and shoots down the ultra-destructive dragon – Night Fury. Hiccup excitedly runs to tell everyone, however no one believes him. Next day, to get the proof of his hunt, Hiccup goes to the woods and finds the downed dragon, which is unable to fly due to a broken tail. Hiccup forces himself to kill the beast but instead he frees it allowing it to escape.

From there, Hiccup and the dragon, he calls Toothless become friends and Hiccup helps the dragon re-learn how to fly by attaching an artificial tail fin. Hiccup learns all about dragons, what they like, hate and are afraid of and uses this information to rise to the top of his class in a dragon fighting school. Above all, he learns that dragons are not at all brutal and finds out the secret as to why the dragons keep attacking their village for food. However things change when Hiccups father finds out about his son’s pet dragon.

If you have ever kept a pet you will definitely love Toothless. DreamWorks fabulously showed the dependent and caring friendship between Hiccup and Toothless. The animation looks outstanding, especially the landscapes shown during the flying sequences which may remind you of James Cameron’s  ‘Avatar’ – remember the mighty dragon Toruk, that only five Na’vi had ever tamed and then our hero Jake goes on to tame the dragon.

How To Train Your Dragon stands tall, however I’m restlessly waiting for Pixar’s Toy Story 3 to be out in June.

My Rating: 4/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

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Addicted to Social Media???

Basketball court was the place you would find me when Yahoo Messenger became popular. I was busy playing my PS2 and then PS3 when most of my friends were creating their profiles on Myspace, Orkut and Facebook. Just to be socially available online, I did my part and created my profile on some of these sites…little did I know that social networking would soon takeover my life.

Being a PR and Marketing Professional, staying away from social media would not be a wise thing to do. Now, apart from managing my online presence (which comes secondary), I also manage profiles of some reputed brands. That’s not all; there are several other things involved when you are managing the profile of a brand, these include –

  • Listening
  • Identifying influencers/issues
  • Engaging
  • Measuring the output

Managing brands, monitoring competitors, customer engagement, updating my profiles, oh well, hope you get the idea, that I spend a lot of my time trading information online. Its fun, rewarding and a part of my profession, but the question is – am I addicted to social media?

Addicted or not, let’s together answer the question below to find out:

  • While on our way to work or home, we get stuck in traffic or see a kid in the car next to us making faces – do you feel like taking a picture, share it online accompanied with a status message (Yes/No)
  • You go to a flashy restaurant or you pick up accessories of a high-end fashion brand and you just can’t wait to share it with the www (Yes/No)
  • You have to tell the world that you are listening to music, going to the loo or taking your dog out for a walk (Yes/No)
  • You keep your answers crisp and make sure that they don’t exceed 140 characters (Yes/No)
  • After a tweet or updating your facebook status you keep hitting the refresh/reload tab for follow-up comments or RT (Yes/No)
  • Whatever you have done over the weekend is all up on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc and you feel like kicking your colleague if they ask: “So, what did you do over the weekend?” (Yes/No)
  • You keep flaunting your number of followers and friends to people (Yes/No)
  • At a gathering you keep asking the people you meet if they are on facebook/ twitter/linkedin and instantly add them the moment you reach home (Yes/No)
  • You have to be present on every social networking site and you don’t delete any of your accounts as someone might ask if you have an account there (Yes/No)
  • You also get up in the middle of the night to check for any new updates (Yes/No)

What’s your score?

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Green Zone (2010) – My Review

I keep myself low on the rough ground as I’m badly wounded. I’m surrounded by several corpses of dead soldiers. A grenade has just landed near me; my movement is being watched by a sniper. As I lay here, I tell myself – This is one hell of a game!

Games like Call of Duty give the feeling that you have been plopped into a World War-II film. You are exposed to different weapons like M4A1, P90, Uzi, M21, RPG-7, Desert Eagle etc; you know who a sniper is, where he is likely to be positioned and how to bring him down. To me, watching war films are similar to playing PS3 as the action, locations and sound effects are almost identical.

Well I’m not going to talk about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or any of the other games in this genre. This post is about Matt Damon’s Green Zone, a war film set up in Baghdad. Another war film also based in Iraq that I had recently watched was – The Hurt Locker. Sadly I learnt of its existence only after it won 6 Oscar Awards in 2010.

In Green Zone, Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, head of a WMD-finding unit in Baghdad. Their mission is to find Weapons of Mass Destruction at alleged sites, but they always find the sites empty. After repeated failures, Miller smells a rat and at a debriefing session he raises the point that the majority of the intel given to his team was inaccurate. However, senior officers debunk his theory saying that the intel is well vetted and cannot be wrong.

After the debriefing, Miller meets a CIA official Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) who tells him that the next site he is going to investigate is also empty, as a team had already searched there some months ago. Brown informs that the intel given is part of a cover-up and Millers investigation was just a formality to mislead the people.

Miller goes on a task to trace the original source of the faulty leads. He is assisted by an Iraqi citizen who becomes Miller’s translator known as “Freddy”, he also leads Miller to the hideout of General Al-Rawi.

Earlier in the film, the character of General Al-Rawi, the right-hand of Saddam Hussein was introduced. A meeting takes place in one of his safe-houses in Baghdad, to discuss the invasion of Iraq. Many of his comrades propose fighting other Iraqi and American forces; however Al-Rawi suggests that they should wait until the Americans make the Iraqi army an offer to join their forces.

Another important character in the film is Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) the man responsible for the US Invasion of Iraq. Poundstone’s ‘inside man’ known as “Magellan” had given him the information about WMD’s  presence in Iraq in a meeting that was held in Jordan before the invasion.

We also have Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) a corrupt foreign correspondent of Wall Street Journal who keeps repeating the US Government’s claims about WMD rather than investigating it’s authenticity. This throws light on how sometimes media works in order to increase their readership.

The only character that I liked in the film was Freddy (Khalid Abdalla) – the same guy we saw in The Kite Runner. He gives us a glimpse of what was going through the mind of a regular Iraqi guy during the US invasion and the amount of frustration and insanity the war had brought to their country.

Director of Green Zone Paul Greengrass, also known for directing –  The Bourne Supremacy (2004) & The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) offers his typical shaky-cam technique in the film. To sum it up, the movie is about – Corrupt Government officials, nowhere to be found WMD’s, soldier on a look-out for more work than just his mission, finding Magellan, emotional good guy Freddy, fat running Al-Rawi and corrupt journalist.

My Rating: 3/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Cop Out (2010) – My Review

I remember watching a number of ‘buddy cop’ films where you have two conflicting personalities working together to solve a crime – one serious cop accompanied by a wilder, dimwit or cartoonish cop.

Some of them that I remember are: National Security (remember Martin Lawrence saying “Why, ’cause I’m black guy?”) Bad Boys, Rush Hour, Men in Black and Wild Wild West

Cop Out is the latest entrant to this subgenre starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. It also stars Seann William Scott, a small-time crook with ‘Spiderman Skills’ i.e. wall climbing skills, who acts as their assistant from time to time.

Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan) are detectives with NYPD celebrating their ninth anniversary as partners. Jimmy’s daughter is getting married and he promises to pay for his daughter’s big fat wedding no matter how pricey the ceremony is. He refuses to accept financial aid from his ex-wife’s second husband Roy (Jason Lee – the weird guy in Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Jimmy plans to pay for the wedding by selling his rare baseball card. Unfortunately,  the card gets stolen and gets in the hands of a Mexican Drug Mafia who has a liking for antique sport collectables. Together, the two cops set out to recover the card from the mafia.

Cop Out has both action and hilarious jokes. There are a couple of funny moments, like the interrogation by Paul in the beginning and parts where Paul gets worried that his wife is cheating on him. The film however fails to offer anything different in the genre, but it sure made me laugh out loud!

My Rating: 2/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Can Social Media replace Traditional Media?

It’s being said everywhere that social media if used wisely can replace traditional media. By now, most of us will have the benefits of social media at our fingertips – it is cost effective with high returns, helps build relationship through customer service and feedback, increases visibility, builds awareness etc

With all the hype, I hear many saying that they are gradually shifting focus towards social media. But I believe that there are still many limitations and challenges. Social media marketing is still not fully understood, is a little risky and is not that cheap.

If we focus only on social media we miss out the powerful combination of social media marketing and traditional media marketing. Both of them can work together to strengthen a brand. The point is that everyone can benefit from social media and it should be a part of the marketing or public relations strategy. However, it should not be the only focus as we cannot afford to ignore traditional media completely.

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Public Relations Interview Techniques: Dodging Uncomfortable Questions

I started off my PR career as Executive Strategy and Planning with a well-known PR agency. My department conducted 2-3 media trainings per month and I was responsible for preparing the module, simulation and mock interview questions, researching information relevant to the industry etc. During my tenure, I attended almost all the trainings that were conducted by the agency.

I observed that you may be the CEO of the company, an expert in your field but when it comes to facing the media you will consider hiring a media trainer.

After entering Corporate Communication, I experimented with the module a bit, customized it as per my organization and started conducting media training workshops.

There are many write-ups on preparing for a television, print or telephonic interview. They tell us to find out about the interview topic, agenda and the format; be prepared with your messages, company information – the business, achievements, awards and recognitions; they also tell us to keep the answers short; what to wear and of course to brush our teeth.

Keeping all the above in mind, the spokesperson goes to the interview all prepared and confident, ready with the company messages. Now the journalist is someone you cannot take for granted, they might have shared details of the topics to be covered during the interview, but they have their own agenda and already have their story visualized. They know exactly what to extract from the company spokesperson.

You may have your points or set of company specific messages ready but you will observe the journalist moving away from them to more controversial and uncomfortable topics. You obviously cannot answer those questions as they may open further questions that you may not be allowed to disclose.

Now dodging those questions may get a little difficult in front of the camera. Below are some statements that can be used to safely move away from those painful topics to the talk points you came prepared with:

“You are raising a very important issue here BUT you must first consider….”

“To some degree, but the point here is…”

“Not really and even more important…”

“There’s another part of the mix you must look at…”

“I really don’t see that as an issue, but what I do see…”

“I don’t know. But what I do know is…”

“However the real concern is…”

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I think the audience would be more interested to kow…”

“Let me answer you by saying that…”

“The solution here is…”

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Fast Five: Toretto and Brian back on track (2011)

It’s been time that I start looking forward to another sequel from the Fast and the Furious stable. The last sequel in 2009 made it big for Universal Studios at the box office. Many Fast & Furious fans remember Brian and Mia racing to free Toretto in the last installment.

Great news for them all – its official, the team of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and director Justin Lin have all signed for what is to be called — Fast Five, to release on June 10, 2011.

Vin Diesel himself made the announcement to his 7,678,055 and rising fans on facebook that read…

Had a meeting with Justin Lin today regarding the Fast saga… some daring but fascinating thoughts in terms of action set pieces… and relationships, old and new.

The team is on their way to Brazil this evening, to scout, and to see what selection of cars there are.

P.s. Will be talking to DT next week, maybe he can let me show some concept art of Riddick… Peace.

Now the question is where will ‘Fast Five’ take place —  Brazil or Europe are the hints given at this time.

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com