Lameazoid.com Rotating Header Image

September, 2017:

Review – Movie – The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Spoiler Free Thoughts and Review

The Incredible Hulk seems to be a really hard hero to get right for movies.  He’s had a few of them and even a live action TV series in the 80s.  The Incredible Hulk is sort of the redheaded stepchild of the MCU.  It came out just after Iron Man.  It’s technically sort of part of the MCU, but no one really remembers or cares that it’s part of the MCU.  Part of this confusion is the change in actors from the movie and his next appearance in The Avengers.  They traded out Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo.  This particular movie also exists in a weird space since it’s technically a sequel to the 2003 Ang Lee film simply called Hulk.  The rumors and stories I’ve read are that Norton was kind of a bear to work with on the whole thing and had a hand in altering a lot of the script until it was much less of a sequel and more of a reboot.  It doesn’t really directly contradict Ang Lee’s Hulk, but it doesn’t reference it either.  This is also part of why they dropped Norton for Ruffalo.

A lot of the problem with Hulk is that the exciting part, IE the big green monster, is boring and hard from a story perspective.  He’s not really a hero, he doesn’t really go around saving people really, he just gets mad and rages, and hopefully he’s raging against someone more evil than he is.  The part that works for the story, Bruce Banner, is kind of boring from a movie perspective.  It’s not super easy to depict “inner turmoil” on screen, which is part of what makes the Hulk and Banner who they are.

This film also is treated by the greater MCU the same way it treats it’s Ang Lee predecessor.  It’s not really acknowledge, it’s not really rejected.  It does seem to be kind of a goto reference for the TV MCU though.  Ironic since the TV MCU is also ignored by the movies.  Daredevil and Iron Fist make references to the final battle in Harlem, Agents of SHIELD makes references to Emil Blonsky a few times.

It’s an alright film, but I kind of prefer the Ang Lee vision of Hulk and frankly, I don’t really like Edward Norton as Banner.

Synopsis and Spoilers

The plot starts off with Banner working and hiding in Mexico, working at a soda bottling plant.  He’s communicating with Samuel Sterns, a scientist in the states, anonymously working to find a cure for his Hulkness.  During an accident, he accidentally cuts himself and some of his blood lands in one of the sodas which ends up giving Gamma Poisoning to poor Stan Lee.  This leads the military to Banner’s location.  They recruit special forces agent Emil Blonsky to head in and capture Banner.  After some Fitbit advertisements where Banner’s heart rate keeps increasing during his escape from the military, he finally Hulks out and battles it out with the soldiers before making his escape.

Jealous of the Hulk’s power, Blonsky gets injected with some experimental super soldier serum to help beef himself up and help him go up against the unstoppable force that is The Hulk.  Banner returns to the states to meet up with his old girlfriend Betty Ross, daughter of General Ross, who is leading the military charge against him.  Bruce wants to recover the data from the original experiment that transformed him into The Hulk to better help Dr. Sterns  find a cure.  Unfortunately for Banner, the Military has been alerted to his presence.  Hulk rears his raging face again and makes short work of the military forces, including Blonsky, despite his newfound strength.  Hulk flees with Betty after The Hulk “kills” Blonsky.

Bruce and Betty finally meet up with Samuel Sterns, who was able to formulate a cure, but possibly a faulty cure.  They administer the cure to Banner and afterwards General Ross, Blonsky and the military show up yet again and take Banner into custody.  After Ross heads out with Banner, Blonsky forces Dr. Stern to inject him with Banner’s blood.  The super soldier serum and the Hulk blood have a negative interaction and Blonsky is transformed into the classic Hulk nemesis, Abomination, who starts rampaging through Harlem.  General Ross agrees to let Banner go because the Hulk is the only one who can stop The Abomination.  After the two brutes trash out the city, prompting Wilson Fisk to leverage his power to rebuild things in his vision for control (no wait, wrong show), The Abomination is defeated and things come to a close.

Banner is later shown to be living in seclusion again and Tony Stark shows up to talk to General Ross in vague terms about the Avengers.

How it’s Connected

Aside from Robert Downy Jr’s cameo at the end, there’s not a whole lot else that comes up later.  There aren’t any references to The Absorbing Man in the first movie, there aren’t any Infinity Stones or much SHIELD even.  The events that take place in Harlem are mentioned in the Netflix Defenders shows some, primarily because those shows mostly take place in and around Harlem.  Though I find it kind of odd that the major event everyone talks about is Hulk and not, you know, the literal alien invasion and Avengers.  The Super Soldier serum theme is here, that of course relates to Captain America, Agent Carter, and a few bits in Agents of SHIELD.

Thoughts on What’s Next

There hasn’t been a straight followup for The Hulk, he shows up again in the later Avengers films and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok, but nothing new in terms of a solo film.  There is/was clearly some plan though, during the scene when Samuel Sterns turns Blonsky into the Abomination, he too gets infected by the Hulk Blood and his head starts mutating.  In the comics, Samuel Sterns is a smart dude with a big head villain named Leader.  Someone was pushing for this angle, though at this point it’s clearly gone nowhere.

Final Notes

The Incredible Hulk is an ok though pretty forgettable part of the greater MCU.  It’s not an awful movie, it just sort of, is.  Hulk is just sort of a hard guy to really do justice in film.

Review – Transformers – RiD – Scorponok

Possibly the last of these fun little animal Decepticons we’re going to see is Scorponok.  There’s also a Toys R Us purple colored repaint of this figure called Paralon, who actually really resembles Beast Wars Scoponok, but this review primarily covers the normal brown colored mass released version.  Scorponok’s animal motif is, a scorpion.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

In fact, he simply IS a scorpion in his alt mode.  While the other Decepticons all turn into vehicles with animal like themes in robot and beast mode, Scorponok just turns into robot and a scorpion.  Straight out Beast Wars style.  He has a really unique style going for him as well, and a very unique Transformation.  The scorpion mode gives him some really obvious choices for hands, but Scorponok eschews that with a clever trick.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

His scorpion claws slide up his arms to become a pair of huge shoulder pauldrons.  No parts forming here, but they are essentially lose pieces at one point.  The effect is neat for sure, but the connections tend to be a little lose on the shoulder joint.  Given their large size they catch anything passing by and easily leverage out of their joint to become crooked or loose.  The end result also means his claws have no real joints in Scorpion mode, which is kind of a lame trade off since Scorpion claws are one of the more versatile and fun joints in scorpion toys.  Who doesn’t live a big set of vicious working pincers?

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

He also has a ton of fun character in his face and overall design.  His little face with it’s little robot mustache makes him look pretty interesting.  He also has a set of spindly legs that work well despite their small size and his upper body girth.  He also completed his sandy sort of Persian motif with a scimitar weapon.  The sword can be held in robot and scorpion mode as a giant stinger.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

Overall, Scorponok isn’t the coolest Decepticon in the line, but he’s still a fun little toy.  He does feel a little small overall, which is probably his biggest downside.  The Paralon repaint kind of fits the name Scorponok a bit better, if you are looking at getting only one, but I find the brown color scheme works better for the figure overall.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

 

Review – Nendoroid – Tracer

Good Smile Company makes two lines, primarily, Figma, and Nendoroid.  Both likes primarily deal with anime and video game characters.  Figma is more of a traditional style scale figure, they are generally around 1/12th scale.  Nendoroids are all “Super Deformed” Chibi designs.  Bigs heads and small bodies, sort of similar in style to something like Pop Vinyls in the US, except a zillion times better with articulation and interchangeable parts.

Nendoroid Tracer

I’m not super big on the style, and there are a lot more anime characters I don’t care about int he Nendo line than the Figma line.  That said, the first official figure from Overwatch was Nendoroid Tracer.  I like Overwatch, I play Tracer more than any character, seemed like a good figure to test out the waters on the Nendoroid line.  There’s a Figma Tracer being released later this year and Nendoroid versions of Mei and Mercy are coming up as well.

I had my doubts going into this line.  A lot of those worries were pushed away upon actually getting the figure.  She’s pretty awesome.  I can fully admit, that this style of figure isn’t going to be for everyone, but this little Tracer is pretty adorable and a lot more versatile for poses and action that I expected her to be.  Not every Nendoroid has as many joints as Tracer, only some characters get elbows, many just get swapable arms.  She also pretty much requires the stand due to the size of her head, but it’s low profile and with some work she can be posed without it.

Nendoroid Tracer

I was also worried that she was going to be smaller than she actually is.  She isn’t huge, but she fits in pretty well with some smaller Figma and Figuarts figures.  Really, given her style and related silly factor, she kind of works alright with some larger figures as well.  She would definitely fit with other Nendos since they are all roughly the same size.  She isn’t meant to be a perfect scale representation of Tracer, but she does a pretty good job of being a silly super deformed version.  She has all of the most noteworthy details like her chest piece, glasses and arm fins.  The center bit of her hair is articulated as well, so it can be adjusted a bit or to recreate her “blowing her hair” bit she does in the game.

For acessories she includes her stand, 3 faces, and several sets of hands.  She also includes a pulse bomb, and her two pistols.  The hands are made for gripping her pistols, open palms for throwing the pulse bomb or pegging the pistols on for her spin pose, and a set of closed fists.  There isn’t anyway for her to hold the pulse bomb sadly, though in game she pretty much just tosses it out and runs anyway.

She also includes a little blue plastic piece that can attach tot he stand to represent when she Blinks.  The end effect works pretty well at showing off her overall gimmick of speed and time shifting.  I kind of wish there was a second piece of the Recall Glow but I’m happy with what she came with.

Overall, I really like Nendoroid Tracer.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming Mei to go with her.  The style definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste and she is probably a little pricey for her size, but she is fun to pose and mess with and is a neat representation of the popular character.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – A Fist Full of Comics Edition

Nothing physical new this week, but Amazon was having a pretty amazing sale on Marvel Digital comics, like 90% off on a LOT of books, so I binged a bit and picked up a stack of books I’ve been looking forward to reading.  I once did comics reviews, I may have to start doing it again.  Anyway…

A lot of newer stuff in there, I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the art style in a lot of older comics.  The two main drivers here were Ms. Marvel and Spider-Gwen, both series I’ve been wanting to read for a while.  I’ve started on both.  I also picked up the Kate Bishop Book because I really enjoy the Hawkeye^2 run.  The same thing can be said of Jessica Jones.  Alies was enjoyable and the Netflix series is my favorite of those shows, so it felt like a no brainer.

Spinning off a bit from Marvel, I’ve heard the Darth Vader series is pretty decent as well.  I’m always kind of wary of Star Wars Expanded Universe stuff, it tends to feel a little Fan-Fic-ish which I don’t care for.  I decided to give this one a go however, and the Doctor Aphra book I believe is related.  Whatever the case, Doctor Aphra I believe is getting a Black Series figure in an upcoming wave, and I’d like to know why.

I was a little hesitant to go for Gwenpool.  I’m not real big on Deadpool, and Gwenpool kind of feels like an even more MEME ridden version of Deadpool.  For what it’s worth I passed on Squirrel Girl for this reason, also I can’t stand the art in Squirrel Girl.

IronHeart Ironman was kind of a random gamble, I know there was some uproar over this book and it’s protagonists so I figured I’d check it out.  Mockingbird was also a random pick up.  I like what I’ve seen of the character elsewhere, so I figure I’d try out her series.

Lastly, Marvel 1602, I have almost zero idea of what this is but it sounded like a neat concept.  I generally like these sort of “re-imagined what if” style stories, probably because they tend ot be self contained while still keeping the idea and spirit of super heroes.

Review – Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

The Good

  • Solid game play from a solid franchise
  • Nice little additions and changes from the original Metroid II
  • Good visuals

The Bad

  • Repetitive enemies and play mechanics
  • Bosses are disproportionately difficult compared to everything else
  • Very linear game play for a “Metroidvania” style game.

In Depth

Metroid: Samus Returns is a 3DS update and remake of the original Metroid II on Game Boy.  It’s essentially to Metroid II, what Zero Mission is to the original Metroid.  The maps in Samus Returns are a little closer to the original Metroid II maps than Zero Mission and Metroid, but there are some changes and additions.  Samus Returns adds Super Missiles and power bombs to Samus’ arsenal, for example, and there is a map revealing scope mechanism as well as the addition fo the Grappling beam.  A lot of the added items are things added during Metroid 3, that became regular staples of the series.

The entire game also has a modern overhaul.  Instead of sprites, everything is polygons and the game is playable in 3D mode, though it is a 2D platform title.  Only one new boss uses the 3D mechanics in 3D space, everything else operates in classic 2D Metroid style.  I really enjoy this style of game, so I am admittedly biased towards the play style.  The game is lacking a bit in the Metroidvania department however.  A lot of the areas have 2 or 3 main path loops that the player must traverse and there isn’t a lot of backtracking done aside from picking up items later, and a lot of this backtracking needs to be done close to the end of the game since you don’t even find the weapon needed to unlock these items until later in the game.  The game itself is broken up into 8 Areas, all generically named “Area”.  The Areas are gate blocked by special pedestals that only open the way after collecting a certain number of Metroid DNA samples.  There isn’t a lot of explanation to what these pedestals are but it’s most likely Chozo related, in classic Metroid fashion.

The core of the game is fun, and everything about the remake works well and helps flesh out the game play from the original title.  Metroid II has always been one of the weaker titles in the series and fleshing it out and giving it a bit more connection to the world of Metroid at large.  Despite taking place on the homeworld of the alien Metroid creatures, it’s always felt a little separated.  Partly because even the Metroids themselves are all mutated “mature” versions that don’t fit the usual Bubble with Claws image of what a Metroid is supposed to be.

Which leads into the core problem with this game, and with Metroid II.  The basic plot involves killing Metroids of various types, more powerful than the last, in order to proceed through the game.  There are 4 types of Metroids, not counting the Queen, and you fight each type several times.  These 40 fights end up being extremely samey as a result.  This problem is exacerbated by Alpha and Gamma Metroid being, more or less the same thing and each of the Omega Metroid battles are literally identical.  There is some variation in the fights by using different environments, sometimes over lava or damaging plants or around movement hindering water, but they all use the same general mechanics until you each the Omega Metroids.  Some of the battles have these moments where the Metroid runs off into a nearby room, which honestly just makes things even more tedious since it mostly just means passing a simple and annoying ball mode tunnel puzzle to progress the fight.

This repetition in boss fights isn’t helped by the normal level enemies either, there’s something like 6 or 7 different ones in different colors that you face… over… and over… and over…  They respawn extremely quickly as well, so sometimes just traveling back and forth a room you get to battle the same enemies over and over.  The game also introduces this gimmicky melee counter attack.  Enemies will charge you, you counter them, then you effectively one shot them if the counter hits.  If you miss, or just try to kill the enemy, you get to shoot it normally, often a dozen or more times.  The whole thing is designed around encounter, wait for charge, counter attack, kill, which itself is slow and tedious the 100th time you perform the action.

There is a new boss that’s added to the game that shows up a few times.  A large Chozo digging robot pops up early on, awakened by Samus.  It later shows up during a stage sequence where you must outrun it’s massive destructive drill arms while passing over and through obstacles.  Eventually you battle it out with the boss.  It’s probably the most difficult boss in the game, though not the final boss, and it’s a nice change of pace from the repetition of the Metroids.

Despite the repetition, it’s a fun game.  It’s not the best Metroid title but it’s a welcome update to one of the less enjoyably and probably less played games int he Metroid franchise.  The new additions do a lot of good freshening things up and the updated graphics are a great step up from the cramped old Game Boy title.

Star Trek: Discovery – Screw It…

This isn’t any sort of review on Star Trek Discovery, it’s just a straight out complaint about how ridiculous this whole scheduling streaming etc thing that’s going on with this show is.  So here’s the basic idea.  the new Star Trek series, is exclusive to CBS’s AllAccess Netflix clone.    I kept thinking this was some new deal CBS was pushing but apparently the service has been around for 3 years now.  News to me, shows how well it’s doing I suppose.  It also follows the Hulu Model, where there is a lower priced tier with ads and a high priced tier without ads.  CBS knows that Trek is really popular, or was at some point, so it’s something they are using to try to leverage success out of their dumb streaming service.

I guess I also heard wrong about Discovery being available on regular broadcast TV.  Last I had checked, it was supposed to be broadcast on regular TV weekly, then only available “on demand” with All Access.  I can deal with that, I have a DVR.  Except the DVR goes to crap when a show gets delayed, and thus gets cut off.  This is kind of an issue with cable boxes in general not being very dynamic in their scheduling, but it also feels kind of intentional.  Ok, no CBS doesn’t have control over football, apparently there was a game earlier in the day, but how often does a game NOT go over.

So what do I end up with?  half an episode of Star Trek and half an episode of some crap with Oprah having some sit down bitch fest about Trump.  And of course, it’s not available on demand.  How convenient.

The reality is, I’m irritated, but I probably really shouldn’t be.  I really haven’t cared much about Trek since Star Trek Voyager.  The new movies are all terrible.  Star Trek Discovery seems to be getting rather mixed reviews anyway.  I’m also not paying for CBS’s Netflix.  Maybe, MAYBE if it were ABC, and it had all of the Marvel stuff included, but a lot of that is already on Netflix.  CBS has very little programming I even care about, and I’m not paying monthly for one show.  I might get a free month once the entire season is available, like I plan to do for Hulu and Runaways.

Which kind of touches on another reason this whole thing is lame, they aren’t putting out all episodes at once Netflix style, they are still being released weekly.  This kind of shows how completely tone deaf CBS is on just WHY Netflix is popular.  People don’t want ads.  People want to binge watch and not wait weekly.  People want lots of good content.  One show, weekly, with ads?  I can find that on regular TV, and my DVR has a fast forward function.

The Orville – S01E02 & 03

You know what’s extremely annoying? Bumping around the time slot on shows, especially new shows, like The Orville. This is especially true for new shows. The Good Place did this last year and Episode 2 basically got lost in the flow after it’s “1 hour premier” then “On the regular time slot”. Anyway, thankfully, there is on demand, where you can’t fast forward through commercials like you can with the DVR.

I’m not entirely sure if I will continue talking about this show weekly, but I did want to at least do a follow up after last week’s Episode 1 write up. The show has definitely managed to shake off some of it’s “Pilot Syndrome”. The humor is more subtle and the actual plot lines are much more substantial. Surprisingly, there is actually a bit of continuation of plot lines across episodes. During Episode 2, it turns out Bortus, the Not-Klingon dude is having a child, which takes him out of the action for the duration of the episode, but transforms into the plot of the third episode. I honestly didn’t expect any level of over arching plot to this series, so this is a surprising twist and frankly, bodes well for the potential staying power.

Apparently it’s getting panned by the Critics however. It seems like everyone was hoping or expecting “Family Guy in Space”. Instead we get Star Trek with some humor. Granted sometimes it’s dick and fart jokes level humor, but a lot more it just feels like people making jokes occasionally. Instead of “everyone is all duty all the time” Star Trek, we get a bunch of folks working on a star ship being people. Which is kind of nice.

Also unlike Star Trek, there isn’t always a happy ending solution. The third episode involves Bortus and his mate’s baby. Bortus is a Moclan. They kind of come off like Klingons, but mostly for being gruff and stern and brooding, less so for being party animal warriors. Moclans are also all male. I mean it’s not quite the right description since they are single gender, but having a pair of “gay Klingons” is entertaining all on it’s own, if only because it’s a different juxtaposition of ideas. It also works well since it’s just the way they are, being aliens. It turns out that they aren’t so single gender as one might think, just more that females are extremely rare, since Bortus has a baby girl. The plot of the episode revolves around the decision whether or not to change the girl into a boy, a common Moclan procedure, given their culture. While there are some revelations, the ending doesn’t really turn out how one might expect since they opt to go through with the procedure.

Because culture really is a hard thing to shift. You’ve got an entire species of alien who has been doing this for generations. They aren’t going to deus ex their way into making the “good choice”. The better part is that the show doesn’t come off as some preachy sappy pandering piece for rights of the baby or whatever. Good arguments are presented for both choices and the reality as it were is that these aliens are not humans. The great example used is that humans correct a cleft pallet, they just do it. Moclans see this gender issue in pretty much the same light. It’s not a problem to do the procedure, it’s a problem not to do the procedure.

I’m looking forward to more of The Orville, I just kind of worry it’ll get canned for not being Family Guy enough.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – BAF Edition

This week saw the completion of a couple of Build a Figures.  First off, I added the Homemade Suit Spiderman from Spiderman Homecoming.  This also gave me the last piece for the Vulture Build A Figure.  He is pretty awesome with his huge wings, but it still feels like he could have just been say, a $30 deluxe figure or something.  


A while back I started collecting Giant Manparts when Ross had the wave for cheap.  I recall back when this wave was new, I had a delimma on if I wanted Cap from this wave or from the Thanos wave.  Apparently I had chosen Thanos, because it turned out that I didn’t have Giant Man’s head.  I never did finish that Thanos because I opted for the Marvel Select but I went ahead and ordered the head for Giant Man off of eBay.

I have to say, I am kind of disappointed, his arms are stupidly short for proper human proportions.
Lastly, since I have Jessica Jones now, I went ahead and picked up Elektra from the Netflix wave.  I probably was going to get her anyway.  I am still a little iffy on the others for reasons mentioned but that Daredevil is growing on me and I kind of really want to finish Man-Thing.