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Review – Movie – Logan (2017)

The latest and supposedly last outing for Wolverine, or at least, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Logan is one of the better comic book movies we’ve had for sure, though not totally flawless.  Most of my complaints with this movie however stem more from how sloppy Fox has been with the X-men universe continuity, and not so much with the film itself.  Much like the previous Wolverine movie, The Wolverine, this film pretty much exists in a vacuum from the other movies in the series.  There’s a vague underlying theme about how awful Logan’s existence is because, while he never dies, everything he cares about eventually does.  There’s also a brief mention of “The Statue of Liberty” which is a throwback to the original X-men when Hugh Jackman took up the role, but it felt more like an Easter egg than a plot point.

It also brings up the question of “Where does this fall in continuity”.  Is it the old time line or the new timeline?  If he mentioned the Statue of Liberty from the first X-men, that would imply this is old timeline, except there are a few little nods to the new timeline, like the return of the mutant Caliban seen briefly in X-men Apocalypse.   Or the point about how there haven’t been any new mutants in something like 25 years, which seems contradictory to X-men 3, which showed us some future where there were clearly some young mutants in the school.

Nitpicky continuity stuff aside, the movie starts off a little rough but ends up on a pretty good note overall.  It’s also worth noting that this movie, like Deadpool, is definitely rated R.  Where Deadpool was more R rated for it’s crude sexual jokes, Wolverine gets it’s rating for language, a lot of gory violence, and one moment of very, very brief, non sexual nudity.  I only bring this up really because it’s worth noting in case anyone wants to take their 9 year old to the film and because it kind of felt a little unnecessary.  I hate to sound like some sort of grump over language, but given the history of the X-men franchise and the character, adding in a bunch of “fucks” almost makes some of the characters seem out of character and all of the extra goriness on the claw slashing didn’t really add a lot to the plot.

It all also felt a bit out of place as the movie progressed and more and more of Laura and her backstory, the young girl tagging along with Wolverine, became the focus of the film.  It’s like hey, here’s a bunch of kids going completely psycho in the movie violent way possible because “Edgy cool”.

The whole film also does a pretty effective job of being a bit of an emotional roller coaster, as everyone around poor Logan seems to get harmed or killed by the people following them.  Not to mention Logan himself, who is not anywhere near peak form as the poisoning in his body from his Adamantium skeleton is finally getting the best of him.  He’s feeling a lot of pain, his claws don’t always work, and he isn’t quite healing as well as he used to.  It certainly helps give some urgency to the character.  The regular X-men movies usually managed to write off Wolverine when Magneto was around, since Wolverine can’t do anything to Magneto, The Wolverine had Logan under the influence of some poison that suppressed his abilities, I guess something needs to be done to make a guy who can’t be harmed interesting (see also The Hulk).

The core of the movie is about the interaction between Logan, Laura and Xavier as they run from a band of pretty bland bad guys.  They are involved in Laura’s past, but they are essentially just an extension, spin off or figure version of Alkali and Stryker’s band, that same old repeating thread.  There is also Weapon 24, who is the main baddie for Wolverine to battle.  It’s not super clear what makes this guy so special other than “He’s like Wolverine only extra feral” and ultimately is pretty much a throw away nobody who only exists as someone who can stand toe to toe with Wolverine and not get killed in 1 claw swipe.

Laura manages to be an interesting character, despite being mute for much of the film.  The aged Charles Xavier is also incredibly likable in this movie, though his purpose and point isn’t super clear to the big picture.  He’s basically become a super powered senile old mutant, he has some mysterious vaguely explained crisis from the past, and serves as a father figure to Logan who in turn serves as a father figure to Laura, which makes a fun dynamic, but also felt like there were some pieces missing to help explain, at the very least, why Logan hadn’t just put him out of his misery already.  I mean I get that they are old friends, but he really feels like he is suffering with no possible recovery, if Logan really cared he could have saved both of them a lot of trouble a long time ago by giving him a quiet quick send off.  I know that sounds cruel but in the context of the film world presented, it honestly isn’t.

But alas, now I’m getting off on a tangent, and running a bit long.  Logan really is a good film, it’s definitely the best of the Wolverine trilogy, though I’m not sure that it’s quite the best X-men film.  It’s also a nice send off to Wolverine while also serving as an origin story for X-23, Wolverine’s replacement.

Review – Saints Row the Third (PC, Xbox360, PS3)

2011 – Volition – 1 Player (Campaign) Multiplayer (Online)
PC, PS3, Xbox360

The Good

  • Loads of fun Gameplay
  • Reminiscent of classic GTA
  • Amazing custom character creation with voices and interactions not just “faceless”

The Bad

  • The missions are kind of just a repetition of a handful of mini games
  • Kooky level may be too much for some people’s taste.

In Depth

Saints Row really has a comeback story behind it. The first game is apparently rather terrible. the second game is better but not great. It’s already saddled with being a “GTA knockoff” by default no matter what it does. Somewhere Volition has managed to get something really right because Saints Row the Third seems to be quite a hit among gamers. So much of a hit that THQ had decided to focus more on games like Saints Row over things like it’s failing Wii Tablet thing (U-Draw).

This thing is pretty long and image heavy, so you’ll have to click through to get the whole thing.

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Review – Marvel Legends – Juggernaut Wave – Wolverine

Wolverine is arguably the most popular Marvel comics character.  Spider-man is pretty up there and Deadpool seems to be doing pretty well, but Wolverine is, or at least was at one point, pretty up there.  It’s a shame he doesn’t’ get more Marvel Legends figures really.  I mean I know I complain about all of the dozens of Captain Americas, but Wolverine is way more popular then Cap.  Maybe we just already hit Wolverine Saturation years ago and don’t need more Wolverines?  Who knows.

While wolverine has had a few looks over the years, and some slight redesigns, mostly in how big his head fins are or how large his shoulder pauldrons get, he has had two basic looks, there is the classic Blue and Yellow design, which appeared in the previous X-men themed wave of Marvel Legends, and there is this Brown and Dirty Yellow design.

I’m kind of mixed on this figure.  It’s a good figure.  It’s got a good sculpt and paint.  He is appropriately short as Wolverine should be.  He even has swappable hands for claws in and claws out.  I really wish Marvel Legends would do swappable hands more often.  I’ve been spoiled lately by import figures.

What he really needs though is a swappable head.  Wolverine can make some nice poses, but his head is just so….  Boring.  A raging grimacing or open mouthed head would be a welcome addition to make him seem more dynamic.  I like having the neutral head, I just wish eh also had an angry head.  Wolverine is pretty known for being a raging animal after all.

The claws are also interesting.  They aren’t the often used rubbery plastic that deforms and looks ugly.  They are nice and crisp and solid.  They tend to wobble a bit in their pegs though, making them hard to keep in alignment.  I also worry about breaking them off a bit, since this sort of hard plastic tends to snap more than give under pressure.

Aside from the bland facial expression, this is a really nice Wolverine figure.  Here’s hoping that the new Logan film will give us some slightly more action oriented Wolverine designs but given the track record of the X-men films getting ignored for toys, I doubt it will happen.

Review – Marvel Legends – Wal-Mart Falcon (6″)

Poor Falcon, Major player in 2 Captain America Movies with a guest bit in Ant-Man.  He’s even probably getting groomed  up to be the replacement Captain America, if Bucky doesn’t get there first.  Like Scarlet Witch, he’s gone for too long without getting a 6″ figure.  I imagine a lot of this reason is his huge wings.  This sort of accessory really doesn’t work too well with the current model of figure + BAF part.  That’s probably part of why his release was a Wal-Mart exclusive along with a better repaint of The Winter Solider, in their own little wave.

The core piece here is of course, the wings.  The wings are certainly very huge and very nice looking, however there’s no articulation in them.  This is probably both good and bad.  It of course sucks for pose variety.  On the other hand, articulated wings on figures this size tend to amount to a hinge in one point that results in some funky gaps when extended too far in one direction or another.  At the very least, some sort of hinge at the backpack would have been nice so the entire wing could swing up, down or straight out, but alas, it’s not there.

You can sort of fake a forward and backward sweep to the wings.  The way the pegs work, they can peg on the front side or backside of the backpack, which will make them swing forward or backwards, depending on how they are pegged on.  If the top and bottom holes were the same size you could fake an up and down sweep as well, though the coloring would be upside down with them turned upside down.  Alas, you can’t actually do this since the pegs are different, probably done because of the coloration issue.

The base figure is decent, it looks like Falcon, he’s nicely poseable for flying and standing poses.  He doesn’t come with any weapons though I imagine the budget mostly went into the Wings.  He does include his little remote drone which showed up several times in Civil War.

This is the first and only 6″ MCU Falcon figure we’ve gotten so far.  It’s a decent depiction, though the backpack could be better.  I doubt we get a better version in the future though, any future Falcon figures will probably just use a repaint of this same wing pack now that they have the mold.

Review – Transformers – Titans Return – Blurr

Like Combiner Wars previously, Titans Return isn’t a total homage to only Headmasters.  There aren’t a ton of Headmasters to pull from so some character who weren’t originally Headmasters get roped into the mix as well.  I’m not super keen on picking up a lot of the non Headmaster Titan Masters, the way I passed on all of the non combining Combiner Wars characters.  Blurr however is a character seriously in need of an updated toy, and this Blurr is a really good representation of the original Blurr, especially compared to the previous Generations Blurr.  The old Blurr is a good toy, it’s not a particularly great G1 Blurr.

The best part of this updated Blurr is how lithe his design is.  Blurr is known for being fast.  He has a sleek fast car, he talks extremely quickly, he should have a fast robot.  The Generations Blurr was based on the Drift Mold, and it had a ton of chunky car kibble that kind of restricted a lot of his movement.  I mean no, the toy doesn’t move on it’s own, but it helps if the design conveys the idea behind the character.

Also, unlike the Generations Blurr, Titans Return Blurr’s vehicle mode looks much more like the original G1 Blurr’s Cybertronian car.  The core difference is that the little Titan Master can ride in the car’s seat and drive it.  Transformation is pretty simple but it works well and does the job very well.

The Titan Master is pretty much the same as all of the others in this line, aside from the little pop up head crest.  In head mode, there is a little bit that pops up to form Blurr’s head crest.  It’s a small but nice detail.

One last side note, this figure was remolded into Titans Return Brainstorm, and is exclusive to Walgreens stores.  From what I can tell pretty much everything that applies to Blurr, applies to Brainstorm, though there is a bit of remolding.  I don’t intend to pick up TR Brainstorm since I am happy with the Generations Brainstorm, but I wanted to point out that this mostly applies to the other toy as well.

The overall verdict though for Blurr is that it’s an all around really nice Transformer.  He’s definitely one of the better figures in the Titans Return line up.  Despite not originally being a Headmaster, the added gimmick of the little robot pilot adds some nice fun to the design.

Review – S.H. Figuarts Ranma (Female)

Getting Sailor Moon Figuarts was a surprise.  But not a huge surprise when you consider there was a new redesigned series put out recently.  Getting Ranma 1/2 Figuarts was the real surprise.  For the most part the anime Figuarts I see tend to be based on newer anime and manga that I’ve never heard of.  But here we are, with Ranma 1/2 in glorious highly articulated plastic form.  Sadly it kind of seems like we’ll never actually get Panda Genma who was featured when these were announced.

The first release is the female version of Ranma.  In case you are unfamiliar with the premise, Ranma is a harem comedy anime series and manga, which follows the various romantic relationships surrounding Ranma and his crazy pack of friends and enemies.  The gimmick of the show, is that a lot of the characters carry some sort of curse, generally originating from the Jusenkyo Springs where they change into a different form and back when exposed to hot or cold water.  In the case of the title character, Ranma transforms between a boy and girl due to Ranma falling into the Spring of Drowned Girl.

That’s a pretty gross oversimplification, but that’s the general idea.  Originally shown in the announcement were both male and female Ranma as well as a giant Panda Genma, Ranma’s father.  Ranma here is pretty awesome, probably my favorite Figuarts of all of the ones I own (though Tuxedo Mask is a close second).

A lot of what I like is just how well balanced she is, which is really essential given the martial arts nature of the series.  Part of the plot of Ranma is that everyone has some sort of crazy martial arts fighting style.  Being able to pose Ranma doing martial arts moves really helps sell the figure.

She also has a great selection of alternate faces.  There’s a big smile, a small smile, a frowny serious face and the embarrassed face.  That last one is a lot of fun since as one might imagine, a dude turning into a girl could result in a lot of embarrassing situations.

There is also a good assortment of accessories and alternative hands.  The female version of Ranma also includes a hot kettle, which compliments the cold water bucket included with the male counterpart.

In case you can’t tell, I really like this figure.  Probably the biggest downside is that she’s a little boring without some of the other Ranma Figuarts to go with her.  Also, if you’re not a fan of the source material, there really isn’t a lot of incentive to pick her up.  This is definitely the best Ranma figure available, since it both looks good and is loaded with articulation and parts, in traditional Figuarts style.

Review – Fez (PC, PS3, XBox 360, PS4, Vita)

2012 – Polytron Corporation – 1 Player
* Review is based on the PC Release

The Good

  • Neat and well executed 3D rotation Gimmick
  • Interesting and reasonably complex puzzles

The Bad

  • Some of the puzzles are a little too complex and not obvious that they are even there.
  • Drives to be a community experience but the community has kind of dried up.
  • Navigating around the world is tricky and can get confusing.

Review

Fez Fez is a platform game centered around a 3D rotation gimmick. The core game play is simple platform mechanics. Walk around, jump and climb, with moving platforms and such thrown in. There aren’t a lot of enemies to contend with which doesn’t really matter because dying has no consequence anyway. The trick is, that Gomez, your character has been bestowed with the Magic Fez (or whatever) and can rotate the world 90 degrees left and right. This changes the layering of some objects allowing previously inaccessible paths to be accessible. The object is to collect these cube things. There isn’t much of an actual story.

It’s something that kind of has to be seen to really be understood but the general idea is, that say, there is a platform floating off to the right that you can’t jump to. Rotating the world may bring that platform in front of your current platform. You can then jump to it as if it’s in the same 2D plane. You can then rotate the world back and you will have no cross the gap that was previously not crossable.

Fez Keeping track of the 3D environment can be tricky if the player is poor at spacial logic. The other puzzles all tend to revolve around learning (read Googling a key) for the multiple in game alphabets. These are little symbols that show up from time to time. Sometimes they look like Tetris pieces instructing the player to enter a certain button sequence, sometimes they are little riddles that you must answer. They are basically cryptogram puzzles. I probably would have figured it out eventually but I didn’t even know these factors were a “thing” until i went searching for answers online, which is kind of a problem of game design. It’s not a bad idea, it’s just not presented in a way that is overly intuitive to the player.

Fez This is also a problem with the in game map. I went through almost the entire first half of the game before even knowing there was a map. a map that not only makes navigating the 3Dish world much easier but tells me when I have cleared out an area. You might think “how can you blame your own stupidity on the game?” Because it’s, once again, poor design. I played most of this game using a controller with at least a dozen buttons. Not one of the buttons was mapped to the map. Both the right shoulder buttons were mapped the same and both the left shoulder buttons were mapped the same, yet I had to press escape on the keyboard to open the map. In a game with such redundancy in it’s controls I would expect something as almost necessary as a map to at least be on the Start or Select button, it was not. This is likely not an issue on console versions of the game which don’t have a keyboard.

FezThe game itself also has a few bugs, at least one pretty substantial one that I uncovered (though I am sure I am not the first). One of the puzzles involves cubes which only shot up on certain time intervals, the longest of which is every 48 hours. Firstly, any puzzle which requires player intervention at such a specific time period is pretty shoddy to begin with. This can be “circumvented” by futzing with the time settings of your PC (or console). Doing this seemed to screw up my save file though. I ended up resetting my play time. Not a huge deal. I did however seem to reset several cubes that I had collected, sort of. The map showed them uncollected and I could rediscover them, but at some point I had collected “everything” and could still get more cubes. It didn’t increment my cube counter though. and I could complete the game as if I had everything.

Fez I believe in my searching for clue to complete the puzzles I read that you can collect all of the cubes in one play through but finishing the game once unlocks a FPS view mode which is required to see several hidden codes. It also unlocks a flight mode which basically turns the game into “easy mode”.

Completing the game a second time unlocks a Red and Blue 3D view (which can be disabled). I am not real sure how effective this mode is as I don’t have any 3D glasses floating around to test it with.

Anyway, it’s an interesting game. If you like the idea of combining cryptographic text puzzles with a platformer in a slightly confusing 3D environment then by all means give this game a go. Frankly, I probably enjoyed this game less than i should have. I don’t have the time or patience for this sort of puzzler so I ruined half the fun by just looking up the answers. I did find the 3D rotation gimmick enjoyable though.

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.