Friday, December 22, 2017

My thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 Warning: Spoilers!

Wooooooooooo! Wow! Damn does this move have fans conflicted, a lot of hate out there, even more then for The Force Awakens, which I didn't even think was possible.  I see why too, I really do, but at the same time I enjoyed it, it was definitely a roller coaster with it's ups and downs, but still a fun ride. I'll say this much, this movie has balls, and when I say "movie" I mean director Rian Johnson and Disney has the cajones to be really fricking bold in their decisions in deconstruction what was set up by J.J. Abrams in Episode VII and direction of long established characters.

I can't even bring myself to write a proper review for this film it's got me so messed up. Part of me loves this movie, but another part extremely dislikes a lot of which transpired. Notice I did not say hate, I am not on the "this is the worst Star Wars episode EVER!" bandwagon. It is different, and way way totally different then anyone expected or even guessed or methodically theorized for the next chapter of Rey's and Kylo Ren's trilogy.

With the Prequel trilogy I felt that the story of Attack of The Clones should been the first episode of Anakin's trilogy starting with him already a Jedi Knight which could of gave us another episode set during the Clone Wars or a pre-cyborg Darth Vader hunting down Jedi, but with this new trilogy it feels like we should of had an episode before the reveal of Kylo Ren's identity and the death of Han Solo which should be considered mid-trilogy points, not chapter one. After watching Episode VIII I now see The Force Awakens not only with A New Hope similarities, but also about half of The Empire Strikes Back's structure in one movie, and The Last Jedi with the other half, and the story tying up flow of Return of The Jedi smushed together, leaving truly unknown territory for the sequel trilogy's final installment. I love the "idea" of Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker's powerful fallen apprentice would of nicely echoed that of Obi-Wan and Anakin, but I still feel even after this movie that Adam Driver is no where near the right choose for Ben Solo, I don't see the struggle, or his anger at all, he has no screen presence at all, more like a stand-in line reader was accidentally filmed. 

To say that this movie is "Meta" is an understatement, the product that was produced took everything talked about inside and outside the previous installment like a well played chess board full of pieces, and knocked them on the floor like a sore loser, while at the same time the message is repeated throughout this new tale that the past has to be destroyed, and something new erected in it's place. With that mentality sewn in to the narrative it really hit's close to the heart, and that's what is upsetting and outraging so many fans, cause we are seeing a Star Wars story basically telling us: "we are going to be different just to be different from what you've known and loved.", and to long time fans that is very traumatizing, so I understand where this explosion of hostility is coming from.

With that out of the way, God Damn! I can't wait to see this movie again, I got more excited, more goosebumps, laughed more, and more teary eyed then I did during The Force Awakens, I was a kid again most of the time, stuffing my faces with popcorn and candy being blown away by some truly spectacle entertainment. Holy shit! All praise to the mighty awesomeness that is Mark Hamill, what actually transpired was not what you, I, or even Hamill himself wanted to play out for Luke Skywalker's return, but damn was it fricking emotional, and no where near the worst outcome that could of happened. They truly gave him a nice send off, unlike the telegraphed for the whole film eventual weakly handled death of Han Solo.

Blame Johnson for alot of things he did with this film, but I truly have to thank him for seeing Yoda again, and it being proper Empire Strikes Back puppet Yoda, both physically and vocally, Thank you. I am truly thankful for these small nuggets of nostalgia, but with this movie I've come to the harsh realization, that started with Force Awakens, but now solidified, that this new trilogy is not really for the majority of us long time fans, but Disney is purposefully manufacturing it for mass appeal, and for a younger newer audience. Really if you take away the established Star Wars sci-fi fantasy aspects, this new trilogy feels more like a young adult book adaptation injected with some Marvel Studio lightheartedness, semi-formulaic, and not-too violent well choreographed action.

Unfortunately with it's 40 years of non-stop popularity, and now with the 21st century marketing why give you any or all details about anyone or anything in a movie when you buy a book or comic, watch a webisode, or play a video game on sale now at the same time to get that information. Which sadly dilutes and takes away from a story, leaving you in the dark unless you track down, and pay for said additional content. I hoping really hard that Abrams and Episode IX brings not just the last two chapters, but all three trilogies together, and gives us something truly awe inspiring not just for the new fans who are gonna be keeping it going far in to future, but also the long time fans that have made the franchise the billion dollar property it has become today because of our unending love of a trio of films of a galaxy far far away.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Justice League Movie Review

                                                             Warning: Spoilers!
 
First off, I loved it, I really did, I came out of the theater very happy. Was it one of the greatest movies of all time? No. Warner Bros. seems to have listen to the fans and made a more brighter and light hearted film, but at the same time you can't tell if that is what they were originally going for at the beginning of writing and filming, because you end up leaving wondering which scenes were Zack Snyder's originals and which were Joss Whedon's reshoots. We will never know the truth, no matter what any one person from production says, to me personally the film almost felt director-less with only a handful of scenes here and there that felt like that had either director's personal touches.

My two favorite stand out characters were Cyborg and Superman, it was very joyful to see Henry Cavill's Superman smiling, and saying heroic quips again. Ray Fisher's portrayal of Victor Stone, a young man fused with alien technology to save his life, and finding a purpose to use those new abilities was a great centerpiece to the story. You could almost call this Cyborg's movie, he is the one character that I felt truly had a character arc, and can't wait to see the extended cut blu-ray with all his cut scenes put back in.

My two favorite scenes were with Superman, his throw down with the other heroes after he comes back to life showing he is the most powerful being on the planet and you better be damn grateful he's an actual good guy was phenomenal to see on the big screen, and then of course him joining the final fight, flying around saving people, dropping true to comic Superman lines, helping and working with his teammates, and look like he's having fun doing it. As to the rest of the League, Gal Gadot still really shines and owns this version of Wonder Woman down pat being her third time around, so no problems there, but Flash and Aquaman are really the less fleshed out, but I'm pretty sure that's because WB dosen't want to retread what the Flash TV series has already done, and Aquaman is getting his own movie. Another thing that bugs me with the two characters is Ezra Miller's Flash waling his arm weirdly when running, hopefully they'll fix that in future appearance along with a better designed costume, but more importantly not one single scene showcasing Jason Momoa's Aquaman use of aquatic communication, come on!, I was waiting for a scene of Aquaman protecting people leaving the final battle location by boats in the ocean by calling up sharks and giant octopus to take out Parademons.

Then there's poor Ben Affleck, I really loved him as Batman/Bruce Wayne in Dawn of Justice, but in Justice League he just seems so nerfed, I don't know if it was the writing, his state of mind when filming scenes, or the direction given to him, but I just felt we didn't get the proper amount and attention giving to the Cape Crusader this time around. I mean in the final battle he didn't even fight Steppenwolf, he was left on a ledge firing a Parademon laser rifle, WHAT THE HELL! This is Batman, the goddamn Dark Knight himself, human and powerless or not he would still be down there throwing every gadget in his belt helping his teammates to stale the Apokoliptian from getting back up to the Mother Boxes, just like he would be in the comics, WB missed an opportunity to continue to have Batman looking badass.

Two things I really wish they could of done better for the movie, number 1 being: Who approved the color palette for Steppenwolf?, he was two different shades of gray, that's all, his armor and his skin tone barely a hue away from each other, it was like people were fighting and talking to a stone statue not a cosmic warlord. Would it have killed them or the budget to add some red stripes to make him more vibrant or something, geez. Number 2; I know Snyder does a lot of green screen shooting, but this movie was damn near Star Wars prequel level, if it wasn't in Metropolis, the Batcave, outside Wayne Manor, or inside the Flying Fox, every other scene was CGI added background, and then there's during the final battle when we watched a video game cutscene of the Batmobile driving through buildings and shooting Parademons. The two things bugged me the most, but there's also the issue of scenes and dialog from trailers and other scenes cut out to make the film under two hours, which apparently was a Warner Bros. board mandate which I think hurt the film more than it helped you move plot point to plot point at break neck speed, like going down a studio approved predetermined checklist they think the general audience would need.

Finally my critiques of the written story used to add to the DC Extended Universe, first off, Really!?, that's how you bring Superman back to life?; with a fricking Motherbox, when you already set up his possible healing and coma in the previous chronological installment. I couldn't of been the only one that was expecting them to find an empty casket and discovered Clark was alive but was wandering around the country as a nameless small time hero again instead, that would of been way better then easy buttoned back to life. Second, does any one in the world know a group of heroes came together and saved the world from destruction and enslavement, I don't think anyone outside of those Russian villagers truly felt the danger, everyone else on Earth was none the wiser just going on with their lives and not knowing about the formation of the Justice League.

Which brings me to my final gripe, we never get to hear them called The Justice League in the movie, not even as a joke, why is WB so afraid of their very own comic book source material names being said out loud? Wonder Woman never called Wonder Woman in three movies, Cyborg called "The Cyborg" once in dialog, one mention of Arthur Curry being called "The Aquaman", and correct me if I'm wrong but I sure never heard them say "The Flash" in the movie at all. Warner Bros. needs to realize yes these are million dollar motion picture adaptations of the characters but they are still comic book characters and they need to say them in the movies and we need to hear them coming out of the surround sound at the theaters, or they're just basically selling us the Trademark they own that they think we're only drawn to like mindless zombies, and not selling us on making a live action continuity connected super-hero universe like they should be doing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Marvel Legends Vintage Series Black Widow

Oh yeah, finally got a Black Widow Marvel Legend. Came across the Vintage wave at Walgreen's today, and was stoked there was a Black Widow left cause she was the one I wanted most because I was never able to get a figure of her 'til now to complete my Avengers line up. Couldn't bring myself to ever buy the terrible looking 2004 Toybiz figure, and thanks to limited production and distribution of the 2010 two-packs I can never afford the far superior near perfect Hasbro version.

As is Hasbro current M.O. she just uses a standard adult female body cast in black plastic with only her belt and Stinger gauntlets make her definitively comic book Natasha Romanov. Her head is reused from the Toys"R" Us two-pack Mary Jane, but I think works better for Natasha, I do wish the the hair color was a bit lighter, and not sure why they tried this weird fade from lighter to darker wash on the hair though. She comes with two "Nick Fury" pistols as I call them instead of more real world looking hand guns, which I don't mind cause she has used them in the comics, but I might look in my weapons bin to see if I can arm her with something else.

I really hope they make another wave of these Vintage Marvel Legends, cause I really love the retro inspired blister cards, and gives use collectors a cool reason to pick up a repaint when they pull on the ol' childhood nostaltiga. Personally I can't wait to see if they make a bright green Hulk or classic costume Thor. Now I just need a Marvel Cinematic Universe Black Widow to join my movie Avengers, but also still need a comic version Winter Soldier, damn ultra rare two-packs.  


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Gundam Unicorn 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode)

My long time good friend and fellow blogger Kajimaru got me this San Diego Comic-Con Bandai booth exclusive clear plastic model kit way back in 2012, and now in 2017 I finally got around to building him. He didn't take long to build, I finished him in just about under two days. He was a little unique in assembling when it came to the exposed Psycho-Frame pieces with the yellow under pieces, and then the small "moved/opened" armor pieces which made each limb very tedious.

Noticed for some reason I didn't put up a Real Grade Gundam Mk.II pic on the Gundam Model Kit Page, even though I did a full review, so pic added. Currently got 4 model kits waiting to be built: HG Turn-A Gundam, HG 1/100th Gundam Heavyarms Custom, HG Full Armor Gundam Thunderbolt, and a SD Heavyarms I've had for over a decade. I think I'm leaning towards building the 1/100th Gundam Heavyarms Custom, so look forward to step-by-step post of every time I work on him.



Friday, October 27, 2017

G2 Laser Optumus Prime Reprolabels

















Oh yeah, now here is my recently acquired Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime with the replacement stickers I got from Reprolabels. Definitely an improvement, and also hastily used a Gundam detail pen to fill in some panel lines. I could do more, but I think I'm gonna stop there before I go overboard and really regret it. I'll have to dig out my G2 Megatron and R.I.D. Scourge and take some more pics.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vacation Toy Hunt Finds

Just came back from a week long vacation in the state of Indiana, and my idea of an awesome vacation was hitting vintage used toy shops every day in a different town. My first day was in Chicago, Illinois where I got to hang out with two favorite podcasters from Optimusprimecast, Dale and Eric, who showed me, and my wife around town, taking us to all the great toy shops in their area, except Quake Collectibles that sadly closes on Tuesdays which was the day I arrived.

Our first stop was Namaka Toys, this was an awesome place, not a vintage store, but dealed in high end pricey imports merchandise, mostly Japanese imports including Gundam model kits, and Takara Masterpiece Transformers which had me drooling. Didn't pick up anything for myself there, but did find an awesome birthday present for a friend.

Toy de Jour was where I got my first find. Dale, and Eric was digging through a box of recently acquired Transformers, and who is sitting on top the pile to which I had to quickly pick up, and examine to check quality, and completeness, but Transformers: Prime First Edition Voyager Class Optimus Prime complete with both weapons and virtualy no damage or missing parts. What puzzled us, and the store owner was that his head was not what it should of been of Optimus with his face plate up, but a nicely detailed plate-less face, so we were thinking perhaps it was customized or a foreign variant we didn't know about. To find out after some research later that the head is a third party part swap: Dr. Wu DW-TF06 Sage Maskless Face.









We also hit another toy shop called Rad Vintage, a comic shop, and a gaming card shop called The Dice Dojo, where I did find two Planeswalkers cards I was looking for a very price. With only a few hours to hang with Dale and Eric, and to roam around Chicago it was time to drive out to Indiana.



Our first stop in Indiana was D's Toys in Indianapolis where I acquired my very first Beast Wars Transformer figure with Transmetal Optimus Prime, he dosen't have his weapons, but is in superb condition. My other great finds there was loose McFarlane Toys Youngblood Die Hard with all his accessories, and found the first three brothers of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leo, Don, and Mikey, all in fantastic shape, and complete with their weapons fueling the need to find Raph in my continued hunting.

Stop #2 in Indianapolis was The Toy Pit, which after much digging and deliberation I only walked away with a carded Playmates WildC.A.T.s Grifter, starting me down the path of having to complete the team, but did find another great addition to go with my present for my friend I got at Nakama Toys the day before.


  

Kokomo Toys in Kokomo, Indiana I can only describe as Vintage Toy Heaven, this was the shop I was at the longest digging through pegs of loose bagged figures, and probably spent the most money. Very happily here was where I found the Raphael to complete my 2007 TMNT team. I checked off two rare-hard-to-find figures I was looking for off  my list with Marvel Legends Commander Steve Rogers, and DC Universe Classics Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, both complete with their accessories. Surprisinly also found the recently released Marvel Legends Death's Head II, loose with his extra hand just not in the official package, and paid less then retail, Score!










In Mishawaka I ran in to Tom's Vintage Toys, which i almost walked out with nothing until I came across a Playmate Star Trek: The Original Series Tricorder, but it wasn't until I pressed a button and heard that 60's tv show sound effect that I knew I couldn't leave without it.

Added another Playmates WildC.A.T.s member with Zealot at Corn Coast Comics in Huntington.




















My final hunting spot was the furthest to get to, but what I found there was truly worth the travel time, because at Sewer Lair Toys in Terre Haute I found one of my Holy Grail Transformers: Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime. He's not 100% complete, missing the disc launcher form the tanker, ripped stickers on the chest, the sword has part of the handle broken off, and some paint scraped off his hands, but damn did I pay a fraction of what I probably would of paid for a similar condition off Ebay. Just got to get some replacement stickers, track down a disc launcher,and hopefully maybe a replacement sword, and he'll look great along with my G2 Megatron.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Star Wars Episode VIII Title Reveal

-STAR WARS-
EPISODE VIII:
THE LAST JEDI 

I like it, they broke away from the old sci-fi serial sounding titles of the previous second entries. This title sounds more like a chapter in a book, which I say is kinda fitting for the second to last installment of the overall Skywalker saga. The title of course refers to the self exiled Jedi Master who was finally located at the end of the previous film, Luke Skywalker, who was referenced as such in Episode VII's opening crawl and a couple times in the movie.

I really loved that the teaser poster is nearly identical to the teaser poster from two years ago just with a different color logo and the new title, well done. Another great touch is the color red for the Star Wars logo, which to a lot of long time Star Wars fans is meant to invoke memories of 1983's Return of The Jedi which a great amount of it's advertising and merchandise feature an all red logo. A nice connection signifying that after the death of The Emperor Luke thought he could create a new Jedi Order, only to have tragedy strike once again making him The Last Jedi as Yoda told him he was before his death.

"When gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be."- Master Yoda



 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DC Rebirth Batman & JLA Review

DC Universe Rebirth Batman One-Shot & Batman #1-6
At  first I wasn't gonna pick up this series cause I didn't know anything about the writer Tom King, but then I started hearing how good the the second story arc "I Am Suicide" was, and regretted not getting it from the start. So I hunted down the one-shot and the first six issues, and I have to say I really enjoyed it, it has a nice balance of action, drama, and humor, and David Finch's art wasn't too extreme as it's been in the past. All-Star Batman is still the superior Bat-book, but I can't wait to read the "I Am Suicide" arc, and see the return of classic worthy intelligent Bat-villain Bane.


Justice League of America (4th Series) #1-4, 6-10
Oh yeah!, I waited to read this storyline until I had every issue, and it was a wait, cause of delays there was months between issues, taking a year and a half to gather all nine parts of the arc. To me it was worth it, I love Bryan Hitch's work and I know he likes to do year long stories, and with how fricking good this story was; it would of killed me reading and waiting through the delays. By waiting I just picked up every issue as I finally saw it on the shelf and put it in a box cherishing the thought of one day reading an epic 12 part Bryan Hitch Justice League run, though in the end it turned out only to be 9 parts probably cause the story had to be changed to fit in with DC's Rebirth launch.

I really loved that the team was split for most for most of the story, and that there were parts in the past , present and future all happening at the same time with some issues just focusing on one member at a time. Sucks Hitch couldn't draw issue 10, but he was probably too busy starting to write the new Rebirth Justice League ongoing at the time. Solicitations still shows two issues, and an annual are coming out, so hopefully we'll still get those cause I love getting more League action with Hal Jordan still on the team.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Comic Reviews 12-31 Pt.2

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Pink #4-5
Boom Studios' second dose of MMPR love a month is the almost over, and like the main ongoing each issue keeps on rolling with more and more surprises. Issue #4 adds two more temporarily powered Rangers bringing Kimberly's team up to the standard five to battle Goldar, his human transforming monster, and his War Zord built out of previous destroyed Zords. What's great though is after Kim and her team saves the town and it's people in #5 there's still one more issue left and they have to go rescue Tommy and the main team, awesome. 

Suicide Squad #5-6-7-8
I don't use this word often, or even type it for that matter, but Uhg! It's becoming a real pain to read this comic, I almost threw issue #8 across the room. It takes alot for me to say I hate something, and I have been giving this writer a chance, but I'm gonna come out and say it: Rob Williams is a horrible fricking writer. This whole last eight issues reads like it was written by an 8 year old, which by me saying that is a disrespect to an actual 8 year old that I think could of actually written something better. 

Even worst is what was told in these eight issues could of been easily told in four, cause each issue is only half the pages with the other half being a back-up solo story, way to stretch it out there Rob. I really hope we get another writer soon, cause I hate giving DC my money and they thinks I actually like the writing when I'm only buying it for Jim Lee's art and Romita Jr.'s art when he comes on board. It truly pains me too, seeing Lee drawing out William's most likely badly described so called "action scenes", I know William's narrative is severely hindering Lee's great potential.

Supergirl #3-4
Giving this series a chance to see where it goes after the Cyborg Superman incident, I'm still getting use to Brain Ching's artwork too, I don't hate it, it's just a little wonky to me. I hoping to see more of the angry Kryptonian Kara for the start of the new 52, I don't want her to instantly become the cheery, hope filled innocent minded Supergirl, I would like to see her struggle with her anger and gradually become a more clear minded hero. Can not wait to see how she defeats Cyborg Superman and his legion of techno-zombies, hopefully it's a good brutal showdown.

 Superman #9-10-11-12-13 & Annual #1
I'm really digging these quick two part story arcs, of course the Superboy and Robin story was goddamn great, teasing you what the Supersons ongoing is going to be like. The Annual was a great tale of Superman encountering Swamp Thing and them dealing with Superman not being from this Earth and how his very presence is actually harming it, setting up great narratives for future story arcs coming up. My favorite Rebirth title, still going strong, fun fun read.

  Trinity #2-3-4 
Francis Manapul's tour through the three heroes past and psyches is really really good. You can really tell this series is were these three are gonna come together and become the close friends who know each other extremely well and are the trusted teammates who form the heart of the Justice League. Holy shit! Mongoul, I know he's pop up a couple times in the New 52 so far, but this the first I've seen him since 2009, it's gonna be great to see the Trinity take him on.

Comic Reviews 12-31 Pt.1

All-Star Batman #4-5
The last two issues with artist John Romita Jr. concludes the "My Own Worst Enemy" story, it's sad to see Romita leave after only 5 issues, but that's why they're calling this series All-Star cause it's going to have rotating All-Star artist for every story arc. Romita is going over to Suicide Squad next, and our next All Star artist is Jock, who worked with Snyder on a run of Detective Comics before Flashpoint that was damn good. I know I haven't said anything concerning the actual comics, but I really don't know what to say that I didn't already say about #1-3, it's Snyder's great character driven writing, and fricking incredible Romita Jr. artwork, it is awesome. Perfect Batman tale in every way, period.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #6-7-8
Oh thank Thanos issue #6 was the last tie-in issue with Civil War II, no more unnecessary filler that didn't move the story along, and what's great is #7 picks up right where #4 ended like you didn't need #5 & 6 at all. I call this book my "Hydra-Steve Crack", it kills me waiting a month between issues, it's so good, every flashback of Steve's altered memories just keeps getting grander and grander. I hope this storyline goes on for a while, I can't wait to see what he does with Baron Zemo, who now in his memories was childhood friends with, and the upcoming showdown with Taskmaster, and how this is all going to end. 

Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad #1-2
I'm really enjoying this, it's so refreshing to read Suicide Squad written by someone other the horrible hack that's writting the main series right now, but more on that later. Enjoying and can't wait to see where Maxwell Lord and his Nightmare Army go, and what they know of the pre-Flashpoint timeline and see if we start to see more Watchmen connections. Loving the weekly release of each issue and that it's a contained story in the mini-series and not having to pick up Justice League or Suicide Squad with each comic being a different part.

DC Rebirth Justice League One-Shot & Justice League #1-2
Started picking up the new Justice League to get some more Superman action, really loved the one-shot with Superman finally deciding to join the League officially cause the League and the world need's a Superman. I loved Bryan Hitch's JLA run, and really glad he's still writing the team even  though he couldn't write and draw this time cause of the new release schedule. Glad to see the team is split up all over the world fighting the threat, what a group book done right can be, instead of eight heroes throwing all their powers at one focus we see individuals and pairs working towards the same goal.

Mighty Morhpin' Power Rangers #8-9-10
This comic right here along with Superman and Captain America is the main reason I have started going to the comic shop weekly again. Each issue just keeps on getting better and better, and with issue #9's reveal of who was behind the Black Dragon being an evil alternate timeline Power Ranger (most likely Tommy) was fricking mind-blowing. Again Higgins' add something to the Power Ranger mythos with out altering anything we already held as fact in #10 with Billy struggle to be a better Ranger with staying Morphed under his clothes minus the gloves and helmet, never thought of that before, amazing.

Part 2 with five more reviews coming up next...