Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Thunder Clash

We're ready and more than able. Let them throw all they want at us. We stand as one.
Razor-sharp mind and intuitive flair for plucking his troop from disaster. Massively strong and versatile, just his fearless presence on the battle field quells any Decepticon fightback. Commands the instance respect and loyalty of every Autobot and the fear and loathing of the Predators. His incredible speed and strategic genius more than matches the evil Predators' supersight and ultra-communication powers. As trailer is a powerful command centre. As robot and battle station armed with handheld weaponry and 12 missile-power defence.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Power Rangers 2017

I could go for some Krispy Kreme.

I wasn't planning on going into spoilers, but considering I'm talking about a movie that just came out I don't think I can go into it without spoiling. So...uh... spoiler warning. Turns out a movie named Power Rangers is about Power Rangers.

I was initially pretty luke warm during the initial lead up to the released of the Power Rangers movie, until about November when I started warming up to the new updated designs. The various trailers and commercials made the movie look more like a Freeform tv show than what I wanted, so I was planning to wait until video. As release neared, I found that changing too as I started getting really excited for the release. Thanks to my wife making plans to go to the movies with some friends, I ended up watching it after all opening weekend.

And I'm glad, because that was a super fun movie.

Now, despite what those early commercials advertised, the ones that were on tv closer to release actually were what the movie offered. A new restart of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as a big budget Hollywood movie series. Unfortunately that segways into my biggest complaint with the movie. It's the first part of a new super hero movie series, meaning the bulk of the movie is set up. Now, that's not a bad thing as the movie gets right to the point. After a short bit of bringing the kids together and putting them into the situation where they become Power Rangers, we basically have to watch them grow into the part over the bulk of the movie. It's not terrible, in fact its done pretty well. Just as someone who's there for the costume action and robots fighting monsters, it feels like an eternity.

The new updated version of the classic team is given a bit more depth as characters, though some of the angsty teen bits feel a bit over used. Of course, I'm no longer a teenager, so that particular style of drama probably doesn't appeal to me any longer. The new in movie universe history for the Rangers, Zordon, and Rita is pretty well worked out. It makes for a decent set up and even gives Zordon some much needed depth. In fact Rita was a lot of fun. Not just some cackling witch who sends monsters to earth, she's a hands on villain who's probably a little too scary for children. By the end of the movie, the only thing I was still unhappy with was Goldar.

Goldar was not used in a way I liked. Now, the way he was used would be perfect for any generic monster, just going in with the name Goldar still rubs me the wrong way. Classic Goldar is a great cheesy villain with a classic look. This is literally just a monster made of gold with no personality. However the way he's used is pretty cool, I'll just have to get over the name when I watch the movie again later. The big Ranger action scenes are satisfying in a way I didn't expect.

The Rangers fight Putties with slick martial arts while exchanging corny banter before taking the Zords out in a giant fight scene which is pure adrenaline for fans of this kind of stuff. During the action, the Tyrannosaurus Zord steps on a familiar yellow Camaro and throws it at a group of Putties. This scene erupted in laughs from the audience as Jason delivers the line of the movie, "sorry Bumblebee". I really liked this part a lot. Usually Zords only get a brief bit of screen time before they form the Megazord, while here we see them fighting all over the place. The intro bit of them running to battle with the classic Power Rangers theme playing was pure joy.

In the end we get some classic Ranger cameos and a fun hint of the subject matter of the next movie. In all it was a much better movie than I anticipated (though I really could have used more Rangers in costume scenes) and I left happy. Also craving donuts as the Krispy Kreme product placements were rampant, though pretty well done. The scene where amidst the chaos, Rita enjoying a plate of fresh Krispy Kreme donuts was pretty funny.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and am happy I saw it. Considering it's a movie more aimed at teenagers in a theater full of children and middle aged nerds, it still fared pretty well with all us watching. I'm looking forward to future installments and hoping for a neat special edition of the blue-ray.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Groundbreaker

The first one in is the first to win!
A fast-moving fighting machine. Always the first to arrive and the first to start shooting. Brash, impulsive. Acts like someone with his foot on the accelerator. Built-in thermal and geological sensors in helmet home in on enemy installations and fuel supplies. High-density outer armor emits laser beam force field that can withstand direct enemy bombardment. Equipped with state-of-the-art, radar-targeting electron assault rifle. Also armed with laser-guided, programmable pulse blaster that flies and functions by remote control. Rocket car has all-terrain capabilities and can reach speeds of Mach 1.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

The movie Toho would have made.
I don't think I'm spoiling in this post, but just incase I am, this post may contain spoilers. So there, I have you more warning than Wikipedia.

I had been anticipating Kong: Skull Island for awhile now and with Toylanta being held on opening weekend, I had to wait a week to watch it. So last night the wife and I saw it and OMG it was great. The movie is part of Legendary Pictures Monsterverse, which so far is just Kong and Godzilla (the Legendary Pictures version), though Pacific Rim would fit right on it. It's a Legendary Pictures film series, and as I'll get to in a few sentences, fits pretty well into the ongoing story. For the record, I wish Legendary made the Transformers and Power Rangers movie.

As a long time kaiju fan, this is the King Kong movie I've wanted for a long time. I would say the King Kong movie I've always wanted, but the Toho Kong movies (King Kong vs Godzilla, and King Kong Escapes) are in the same vein. So I'll say the movie I've wanted for a very long time, because Kong as a super hero doesn't get explored often. Though, Legendary is doing it's part to contribute to that cause.

The movie is wonderful, taking place as Vietnam is wrapping up, we see a military group of helicopter pilots provide escort for a Monarch expedition into the largely known Skull Island for testing. The testing (which includes explosions) upsets the wildlife and drives Kong out to defend his land. The surviving military and Monarch  members find their way to the pick up point for rescue and along the way discover the giant (and dangerous) wildlife Skull Island has to offer. Separated into two crews, one discovers a long lost fighter pilot and villagers were they learn about Kong and the dangerous monsters living in Skull Islands hollow core. The other crew, hellbent on revenge for the loss of their comrades get into various skirmishes with that not so friendly wildlife.

The movie establishes Kong as one of the guardians of Earth, like Godzilla. It's beautifully filmed, paying homage to Apocalypse Now, and featuring some extremely gorgeous visuals. The scenes of the villagers place of worship and Kong learning in the sunset are particularly impressive. It's only weak points are easy to ignore for the most part. Some of the scenes are edited in a way that seems a little clip show like. This is a common complaint I've had with a lot of recent movies, so I think it may be the result of a newer editing trend that may just not working so great with me.

While several newer movies this editing style doesn't gel so well for me, making the movie seem like a series if scenes or clips and not so much like a flowing narrative. Fortunately Kong's moments like that are much fewer than other recent movies that I've found moments like this few and not so distracting. Other complaints could be found in some of the human characters seemed two dimensional. Which, in all honesty is a common complaint in most big budget movies as well as pretty common in kaiju movies. So the movies lesser parts were easy to overlook in greater sum of awesomeness.

I said above Pacific Rim would fit easily into Monsterverse, and this movie opens that door even more. The Pan Pacific Defense Corps was created in response to the 2014 kaiju attack that took the military weeks to stop. The M.U.T.O attack, which took a long time to end was in Godzilla 2014. The resulting kaiju attacks came from a portal in the Pacific Ocean. Skull Island, which is home to many giant monsters (I'm not spoiling the entirety of it) and even is hollow, providing monsters in the center of the earth a way to come to the surface. Skull Island just happens to be in the Pacific Ocean.


Hey, what if we got a Legendary Pictures version of Jet Jaguar?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Triggerhappy

Have gun, have fun!
Usually too busy laughing uncontrollably and drooling out oil to look where he's shooting. Loves the sound of his guns blasting away. Wild and unpredictable. Paired with Blowpipe, a powerful compressed-air cannon who is also the conniving, envious brother-in-law of Lord Zarak, the Nebulan leader of the Decepticon Headmasters. In jet Mode, has side-mounted, rapid-fire photon-pulse guns. Maximum speed: 1,980 mph.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Botlanta 2017

So much thanks to my friend Duron Land for the image we used on the standee.
This past weekend held the first ever Botlanta event at Toylanta (formerly known as Joelanta). Toylanta is a wonderful local toy convention that I have the honor of helping out with. Initially it was a GI JOE centered convention that ran for quite some time before broadening it's focus to also cater to other interests. At that point it was renamed Joelanta and the Great Atlanta Toy Convention, and is where I came onboard. They had invited me to operate a Transformers panel that I have had fun doing for years with my friends Dusty Griffin and Brian Kilby (and on occasion Diecast and Crazy Steve).

The panels popularity had grown to the point where it grew into it's become a programming track at the show. Which we have dubbed Botlanta, as the con has a great naming convention going on. Going into this year, the head honchos of Joelanta decided to rebrand the convention into Toylanta to avoid any confusion. Joelanta, Botlanta, and assorted other panels with a massive (and I mean massive) dealer space (there's dealer halls every nook and cranny) make up Toylanta. Which is becoming even more popular (and bigger) as each year goes by.

So this year, I got to organize a Transformers show. While I've organized fan meet ups and ran panels at conventions before, it was a new experience for me. I reached out to various fans within the Transformers fan community to help Dusty, Brian, and I make a panel track. One thing that was important to me was to make this show distinct. I thought each panel should be informative as well as entertaining to those in attendance. I wanted the track to be an experience to remember and a destination to not miss.

Crazy Steve ran a panel with his awesome collection of vintage toy ads from newspapers and catalogs. Not only is it neat to see those old ads, but as he explained, there was some interesting history displayed in them. Various variations on figures would be in the pictures and artwork that would reference various stages of the Transformers toy line in planning. Dusty, who is a Toy Hacks designer, showed his creative process for making a Repro Labels set and even gave out free sets to attendees! Thanks to my pals at RFC, we were able to produce several panels covering several topics and even put on a live episode of RFC. I was also very pleased to meet two gentlemen (whom I became fast friends with) that had approached me to run a panel on toy displays and even set up an impressive display.

While planning the show, I contacted Derek Yanniger, whom was a key artist on the Transformer Generation 2 comic book. His work was an integral part of the overall look and feel of the comic, which just happens to be my favorite TF comic to date. Derek agreed to come Saturday, and was an absolute treat to have. We set him up with a table to sell his artwork and signatures. In the afternoon, he did a panel with my friend Gabe, on his time with the comic. Derek was such a gracious and outright cool person, it was an all around great experience.

I had spent so much energy into the show that by show time I was a nervous wreck. I just wanted it to be everything somebody coming would want it to be. Fortunately, I had the support of my crew and especially my wife (who made sure I always had a cold soda, or a back rub when I'd take a moment to sit down). Together we all put on a show that I'm very proud of. It was my first time, in a hobby where I don't have many first times anymore. Sunday as the convention was wrapping up and I spent a lot of time with various people at the show talking. Which is my favorite part of these conventions. I get to meet new friends, see old friends again, sometimes meet friends in person for the first time, and generally get to hang out with my friends having fun with something we all love.

I learned a lot this year, which will help going forward in the years to come. Learned what works, what didn't work as much, and what to work on for next year. Seemingly and thankfully everyone that came had a great time. As the show wrapped up and everyone said their goodbyes, I felt like a moment in time was passing. There was a mojo in the air of togetherness that I felt strongly. I can only hope others felt it too and it wasn't just the results my pulse racing all weekend. Shortly before leaving the con, I went into our panel room to say goodbye for the year. As silly as it seems, it felt like leaving home. As an adult, a year doesn't seem so far away anymore. But waiting for next year feels like an eternity.

Check out the Botlanta FB page for pictures and hey, while you're there, please like and share!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Evac

Evac is used to dodging laser fire. His entire life, Decepticons have gotten in his way, and tried to stop him. They've never succeeded. No matter how overwhelming their attack, Evac knows that with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee covering him, nothing will stop him from delivering his passengers safely.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dino Bravery

Giant guns always improve robot dinosaurs.
I'm not going to lie, I didn't pay much attention to Dino Charge like I should have. After Megaforce ended I somehow never watched. I don't have much of an explanation, I thought it looked neat and as it went into Super Charge I took notice, but once again it largely passed me by. I did take notice of the Megazord toys, and thought they were great. As Ninja Steel began it's media push, I just went ahead and made a point to not let it slip by. I thought it looked neat, and didn't want to regret missing it.

So news of the new South Korean series Power Rangers Dino Force Brave, which is meant to be a sequel to the Super Sentai show Dino Force is based on, was posted last week to the various kaiju/toku sites/groups I follow. I'm not going to lie, it caught me off guard. Probably because of the use of Brave in the title, and the reworking of the Rangers and Megazord. It looks great, really great. The Dinoforce Megazord was already a good looking robot, but in the new white and red color schemes, and with new weapons like the chain gun and chainsaw sword. It really pops.

I'm hoping dubs of the short format show (15 minute episodes) will be easily available. I generally just watch clips of the Japanese shows as I'm not into torrenting (which seems to be the most accessible way to get the dubbed episodes) and as I've mentioned before, I like Power Rangers just fine as is. So, it's really enough for me.

What these clips have more importantly done is. They've turned up my desire to watch Dino Charge finally, and oh hey... that's right, it's on Netflix. So, thinking I'm going to start that pretty soon. I've been regretting not watching it and letting it slip by. Though I suppose there's plenty of time to make up for that now. I still regularly see that Megazord on shelves, think I should get it while I still can. It looks great and well...

I think I need it.

*edit* I binge watched Dino Charge shortly after writing this post. OMG it's amazing.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Windbreaker

I can get you the info you want...before you even know you need it!
The fastest trooper in the force. A super-speed information gatherer, zooms ahead of the battle to bring back an ultra-accurate report on the terrors to come. As a vehicle, he's long and lean with a dual purpose engine/defense module. As a robot, this firepower becomes unbeatable in his hands.