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February, 2017:

Review – Marvel Legends – Juggernaut Wave – Deadpool

I’m a little torn on Deadpool here.  He’s a pretty great figure.  Not the perfect Deadpool necessarily due to a few minor design issue but he’s solid.  He also comes with a ton of accessories and no Build-a-Figure piece for Juggernaut.  Which is why I’m torn.  What Deadpool represents is essentially what I wish we got from Marvel Legends as a line.  Dump the dumb BAF aspects, load up more accessories, alternate heads, weapons, effect parts, alternate hands.

Yeah, it’s a dumb reason to dislike a figure, it’s more that I dislike the concept he is presenting, because it’s what I want from every figure.  How much cooler would Havok be with a screaming head and an energy blast that strapped to his chest somehow.  How much better would that boring Phoenix be with a flaming base and fire ball parts to strap on to for dynamic attack poses?  How about a nice Ice base for Iceman to thrown down on?  Is Deadpool representative of what we could have without BAF bits?

Enough talk about non Deadpool things though, that’s sort of tangential to the main topic here, and not totally some weirdly meta thing for a Deadpool related review.  Also, referencing that it’s a review within a review isn’t meta and 4th-wall-ish either.

Deadpool has one really great thing going for him, his accessories.  He has so many accessories that a few of them seem really pointless and dumb and out of place next to the others.  The swords, the pistols, the knife, all have nice built in storage on Deadpool, which is great.  The rocket Launcher could even peg onto his back.  The alternative head makes sense, Deadpool with and without mask.  The Taco’s fun.  Then there are the two screw silver guns, they look ugly, they don’t really fit too well with the theme of everything else, personally, and they just don’t even need to be there.

Which just exacerbates my previous frustration, not only does he get a mess of accessories, he has extra mostly useless crappy accessories!

Honestly Deadpool only really has two real flaws.  One, he has this goofy pinky finger sticking out hand.  This problem could have easily have been fixed with a spare, normal hand, maybe in place of one of his useless extra guns.  But it didn’t happen, it’s kind of really weird.

Then there is the part where he’s crazy hard to find, because, well, Deadpool.  He had a super popular movie, he doesn’t have the saddle of a BAF piece and he’s a really good figure all around.

Review – Movie – John Wick (Chapter 1)

Occasionally a movie comes along that’s just so simplistically perfect in what it’s trying to present.  Recently it seems there have been two such movies, and John Wick is one of them.  Where so many movies try to make everything a deep metaphor or some sort of social commentary on the world at large, John Wick gives us a straight forward tale of revenge, with hints at a deeper world beyond.

I feel like this layered simplicity is what really makes this film work.  That and the top notch action choreography.  This movie is loaded with shoot outs and guys getting shot and beat up, but it all works extremely well and flows along very well.  Everything is intense and tight and fast, but it manages to keep some level of gritty realism as our hero gets injured and tired and remembers to reload his gun from time to time.  The centerpiece moment is the fight in the middle of the film in The Red Circle Club, as John Wick, chases his target through a crowded night club battling henchmen all along the way.

But the action isn’t the meat of this film, and neither is it’s revenge based plot, the meat is the rich criminal underworld created as the film moves along.  Specifically, the way John Wick never stops to explain anything to us, but still presents everything in a way that’s clear as to how things work.  Take the Golden Coins we see several times in the movie.  They are simple gold coins, probably valuable in their own right, but they also seem to represent more than just a coin, favors perhaps.  A way of trading trust throughout this world of mobsters and assassins where everyone knows everyone else.  John has many of them, and spends several of them in clear logical ways that give us the idea of what they are without hand holding the viewer along.

There is also John Wick himself.  John is a retired hitman for some powerful criminal organization.  We never get to see John Wick in his “glory days”.  Instead, we get the feel of just how much of a bad ass John Wick is by the way other characters react to seeing him “back in action”.  The way his old boss has nothing more to say than “oh” when learning that his son has pissed of John Wick.  The way his colleagues immediately respect him and treat him highly.  Through the vague story of what length John went through to retire and get married in the first place.    And of course through how determined and skilled John is at dispatching dozens of grunts along the way despite being “retired” for some years.

It’s this little detail that helps keep the action flowing without stopping to get bogged down in the details while simultaneously not leaving tons of “well what the hell does that mean” moments.  It’s a fine line that other similar movies often fail at because they are too vague with the details or too talky about it.

The movie itself may not be quite for everyone, mostly because it’s pretty violent, though it’s also violent in a way that’s not overly gory.  Another nice point of this film, it would have been easy to get gratuitous with the violence, with constant blood splatters and whatnot, but the film avoids these cheap gimmicks which just helps push that subtle layer of realism that I mentioned earlier.

The bottom line is, this movie is pretty fantastic, especially if you are at all into action movies with excellent fight choreography.

Legion – Chapter 2 – Finding Yourself Inside Your Lost Head

Just a side note, these episodes don’t have subtitles or names beyond “Chapter X”, I just add that for fun.  Sort of how I add little descriptor bits instead of episode names to my Agents of SHIELD recaps.

This second Episode of Legion was certainly less trippy than the first, though there was, ironically, some actual tripping at one point, briefly.  Things pick up essentially right after David was rescued at the end of the last episode, most of the episode involves David going on a mind trip through the powers of a Mutant, Ptonomy, who can work on people’s Memories to try to find the source of his Schizophrenia.  Melanie, the leader of whatever this group is called, is working to convince David that he isn’t crazy, the crazy is just a side effect of his Psychic powers.

Most of the episode is a trip down memory lane, there’s a bit involving him and his friend Lenny selling a stove for drugs, and some brief bits where David is talking to his shrink about why his girlfriend left him and some scenes involving a very young David being read a story called “The World’s Angriest Boy in the World” which seems to be about a father killing some kid’s mother.  We don’t actually get to see the father however, he is shrouded in shadow.  There is a spoiler here from the comics, but I’ll skip it for now, and it may not be in the show anyway.

The underlying plot though is that David has memories he is keeping hidden from the others, and unlocking them may be the key to figuring out his problems.  I’m also not convinced of who is real and who is not either.  Lenny shows up in a memory and “died” in the first episode, but she may still just be part of his Schizophrenia.  Syd Barret, David’s girlfriend may or may not be real either.  She is hanging around in this episode a lot, but always int he background or off to the side, it’s very… Fight Club… in it’s presentation.

There is also a bit at the end where David’s sister comes to the Asylum looking for him, but they claim he has never been there, and then Division 3 show up and take her into custody, which sets up David wanting to rescue her after seeing a vision of her in danger.

It’ll be interesting to see where things go next to be sure.

Review – Transformers – Generations – Brainstorm

If you’ve been keeping track, you might have noticed that I’ve gone through all of the original 7 Headmaster’s remakes from Titan’s Returns.  You might have been expecting the last review here to cover Titan’s Return Brainstorm.  Well, you’d be almost correct.  The thing is, I have Generations Brainstorm already, and I don’t really need Titan’s Return Brainstorm, so instead, you’re getting Generations Brainstorm.

If you follow some of the recent lines just before Combiner Wars, it kind of felt like Hasbro was exploring and experimenting with ideas for future lines.  We got Scoop with his Trigger masters, and the Minicon combiner team, and Brainstorm here, the first Headmaster in years, I believe since Transformers Energon with it’s Omega Supreme and Minicon head.  Before that was Armada Sideways with his swappable headmasters.

As our first modern Headmaster, Brainstorm is pretty good.  There were some early reports about issues with the neck joint on the Headmaster and body, but rumor has it that problem was fixed.  He even fakes the classic power level gimmick with a flip down panel inside his chest that activates when the Headmaster is attached.

The Headmaster itself is a little iffy though, the arms are large chunks with the arm bits painted on in the appropriate areas.    He looks nice for the most part for such a small figure though.  He works well with his little cockpit in space ship mode.

The new headmasters though aren’t compatible at all.  There is a size difference for starters, which breaks the port set up.  In the broader sense though, I like the size difference here just because it makes for some nice variety from “All Deluxe scale”.  I also am not huge on swapping the heads between bodies, so I don’t really mind that there is a lack of compatibility.

So I’m not saying the Titans Return Brainstorm is bad, he’s based on one of the better molds in the line, but I just really like this version of Brainstorm from a few years earlier in Generations.

Recap – Agents of SHIELD S04E14 – Six Degrees of Agent Coulson

The Superior made a promise, Coulson… Must.. Die…

Such an ominous threat to make in the middle of a season against the lead character from an almost nobody villain.  Which is my biggest complaint with The Superior, he kind of feels like a nobody, and not particularly amazing in any regards.   I suppose that might be the point, the whole sub plot here felt very… “Civil War Lite”.  At least as far as the motivations of the villain.  Basically his only power is Vodka and “Being Russian”.

Kind of some mystery sub plots going on here but mostly this was a good episode.  Daisy was really great in this one, though she didn’t do much aside from kick ass a few times.

Onward with the spoilers…

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Review – Mafex – The Dark Knight Joker

I’m not a huge fan of the “Nolan Batman” films as a whole, but The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies in the broad sense.  Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, both are kind of mediocre, The Dark Knight is so good though.  A lot of this is because of the Joker as the villain.  Loving Heath Ledger’s Joker isn’t an uncommon opinion at all for sure.  Unfortunately, in the US, Mattel has the license for DC figures, and produces most of them.  Mattel, honestly, isn’t the greatest toy company, mostly because they tend to have wonky articulation and really spotty assortments.  The Dark Knight Rises 4″ line had cases of like 23 Batmans and 1 Bane or something ridiculous.  There was a version of The Joker released in the US, but I really wanted something nicer.

Enter Medicom and Mafex, and their Dark Knight Joker.  This isn’t Mafex’s first figure, though they don’t put out a ton of product.  Actually, especially previous to this Joker, Mafex has had a really awful reputation for releasing really crappy figures.  Not so much from a design standpoint but from a quality standpoint.

I’d heard that they had gotten better with this release, and I opted to go ahead and pick up the Joker here as my first figure from their releases.  I have to say I was not disappointed.  Though I also need to say, there are still some quality issues, particularly in the joints on these figures.  As of writing this review, I’ve picked up three figures from the Mafex line, and all of them have had joint issues of some kind, most often in the neck.  My Joker sometimes has problems with his arm falling off.

Aside from this issue, I’m really satisfied by this figure.  The sculpt is great, the weapon assortment is great.  The smiling head is a little too happy, which is kind of weird, but the normal glowering head is spot on great, and it’s really the onle that would be used most of the time anyway.

There’s a bit of hindrance to articulation by his coat, though the Joker, especially this iteration of the Joker, is pretty slow and shuffling in his movements anyway.  He’s not exactly an athlete or a ninja on any level.

So the question is, is it recommended?  It’s probably the best Heath Ledger Joker available in this scale.  That said, the join issues could be a turn off.  I’d recommend him, but not for a tremendous mark up, unless you’re a huge fan of this Joker.  I add the last part because now that we’ve moved on to the DC Cinematic Universe and the Suicide Squad Joker, this Joker probably isn’t going to get any sort of future release in a better line (Figuarts).

Weekly Wednesday Haul – Black and Green Lions Edition

The new Legendary Voltron Lions seem to be a massive hit. I’ve heard many people talking about not finding them while also hearing of stores not keeping them in stock.

Which is pretty impressive given they aren’t particularly cheap. Anyway, I managed to pick up Green Lion, then later Black Lion, so I’m well on my way to completing my Legendary Defender Voltron.

Voltron Black Lion Green Lion

They are both pretty awesome, though I wish there was a bit more side to side neck articulation.  Also I was worried I might break something trying to remove Green Lion from Black Lion.  The post that holds the Voltron arms on is a little TOO tight.

Review – Gunman Clive (3DS)

The Good

  • Quick classic style gameplay
  • Interesting and different art style
  • Game becomes more complex than it initially feels

The Bad

  • Game can be frustratingly “cheap” in it’s difficulty
  • Not an overly long game with not a ton of replay value
  • Some mechanics such as the weapons could be a little more refined

In Depth

Gunman Clive is a game that harkens back to a simpler time of gaming.  There isn’t a super deep story going on and the levels are all relatively short.  It’s very “arcadish” at it’s core, with it’s time tracking and death tracking, that is to day, the idea is more to beat your high scores, than experience some deep endless story or gameplay.  This isn’t a bad thing mind you, and there’s more going on here than it initially seems.

The basic plot is that you are a cowboy in the west and your girlfriend, or wife or whatever has been kidnapped.  You chase out, armed with your trusty side arm to rescue her.  The basic controls and gameplay remind me a lot of the old Mega Man titles.  Not for crazy power ups or level selection, but just the basic jumping and shooting only straight ahead sort of mechanics.  The levels themselves are much more classic platform shooter, something akin to a Contra game, especially with the power ups you collect along the way.  The game starts out simple enough, there are opposing cowboys to shoot down, sometimes there’s rabbits or birds swopping in.  As the plot advances along though it becomes apparent there’s a lot more behind the scenes as you travel through levels with more and more crazy technology and eventually head off into space battling aliens.

The game is divided into several themed “worlds” with 5 or so levels in each world.  Each world can be completed in around a minute once you get the hang of things, though chances are you’ll spend longer on each level working it out.  Each time you die you simply return to the start of the level to try again, there are no lives here.  As the levels advance, things get more and more complex.  Enemy cowboys start hiding behind things for example, and later you encounter robot cannons and various environmental hazards such as spikes and electrical beams.

At the end of each world is a huge boss.  The bosses are all pretty interesting and varied in their mechanics and design, I particularly liked the giant transforming train robot at the end of the Train world.  All in all the difficulty across the board is pretty simple, a lot of the puzzles and traps though fall into the category of trial an error.  You play through learning the proper timing of everything until you manage to get through to the end.  The most annoying aspects involve the enemies constantly respawning if you slide their spawn location on and off the screen.  Also annoying is that sometimes enemies drop new weapons which are worse than the one you have, except you can’t avoid picking up the inferior weapon.

Probably the main gimmick of this title is the neat art style used throughout,  The entire game is rendered in this sort of yellow and gray hand drawn motif.  It looks pretty cool without being super distracting.  Despite it’s simpler art design, there’s a lot of fun complexity going on, especially in the bosses and as the world progresses into the later worlds.

Gunman Clive isn’t a super complex title, but it’s a fun little indie game platformer.  It’s not the most replayable game though unless you are into score challenges.  There is a “Play as a chicken” mode that unlocks after completing the game though.