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Friday, April 24, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review




Avengers: Age of Ultron is the modern comic book in movie form. Whereas Marvel's The Avengers was the Golden Age, all colorful and fun, Age of Ultron is more grounded and has more drama than it's predecessor, and basically the next logical step that the series can make.
 

The Avengers now flex the super part of their superhero monicker, tearing down Hydra bases left and right in the search of Loki's scepter (last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier's post-end credits). With peace now within their reach, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is looking for a way to protect the world without the Avengers having to stick their necks out all the time, starting with the Ultron Program. But when Stark's research unwittingly unleashes the evil AI Ultron (played by James Spader) that threatens to wipe out humanity, it's once again up to the Avengers to save the world, whether they like to (and each other) or not. 


Like the modern comic book, there's strict adherence to continuity in Age of Ultron, with plot points from films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe converging in one place. Loki's scepter, the Infinity Stones, HYDRA, they all serve to drive the story along, and if you've watched all of Marvel's films up to this point, it makes for some very satisfying pay offs. There's also more emphasis on drama, especially with the non-superpowered members like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), that serve to better flesh them out more. Hawkeye in particular isn't just the guy with insane archery skills, he's also given a backstory that makes him more human, which only serves to underline just how badass he actually is. Finally, the Badass Normals get the attention they deserve.



The MCU has had many supervillains, most of them forgettable *cough* Malekith *cough*, and it's only fitting that the Avengers themselves get one of the most memorable and menacing villains we've had so far. James Spader's portrayal of Ultron was pitch perfect! Spader turned Ultron into more than just a walking tank with human murder on his mind...he's snarky, he's funny, he believes that what he's doing is right, and he can go toe-to-toe with the Avengers without breaking a proverbial sweat.

But of course, this being a comic book movie and me being a comic book fan, I was literally shaking in my seat with what they've done to bridge the gap between the comics and films. Director Joss Whedon has pretty much perfected the art of translating the comic book page into awesome cinematic sequences, and this time around there are more face-melting moments that perfectly capture what superhero comic books are all about.

I particularly loved what they've done with Vision (played with subdued dignity by Paul Bettany, no longer trapped in a recording studio), and if you're an old-school comic book fan, you'll love what they've done with him in Age of Ultron. Now, I know some of you are still seething that Stark created Ultron and not Hank Pym like in the comics, but if there's one thing Age of Ultron excelled at, it was making daring choices. There are choices made by Whedon in this movie that may not be popular to purists, but in the context of the MCU, it works. They didn't set out to completely ape your daddy's comic books. This is a whole new thing, a totally different animal, and that's what makes it so special.

Is it safe to say that Age of Ultron is better than Marvel's The Avengers? One could argue it's not. The first movie was such a game changer that to compare it to the new one would be unfair for both. But to Age of Ultron's credit, it focused on what works, on what it does best, which is melt-your-face-off moments ripped straight out of your comic book dreams. Age of Ultron won't be elevating superhero cinema anytime soon, but when it comes to comic book movies, they don't get any bigger than this. Highly recommended!

Friday, April 17, 2015

'Star Wars' Digital Movie Collection Now Available

The hype is strong in this one.

Lucasfilm/Disney will soon release all 6 episodes of the Star Wars saga in digital HD to coincide with Star Wars Day (May 4, 2015, because May the Fourth Be With You...get it?). This, together with The Force Awakens whipping the entire Star Wars fandom into a frenzy, is making 2015 a good year to be a Star Wars fan!

Read the press release below:

STAR WARS NOW AVAILABLE ON iTUNES


For the first time ever, the empire has descended onto the digital platform in the galaxy – or at least here on Earth. The entire Star Wars Digital Movie Collection is now available for pre-order on iTunes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

All six epic films will be fully released for purchase as a complete digital movie collection and individually. Viewers and fans alike will be able to enjoy the Star Wars Saga on their favorite devices anywhere on Star Wars Day – May the 4th.

Enhancing the movie collection are a host of never-before-seen special features including Star Wars: Discoveries from Inside and insightful Conversations between key contributors from across this celebrated film franchise, plus a curated collection of classic Star Wars extras from each film.

Don’t miss the most iconic movie collection of all time as it becomes available on Digital HD. Own the Force on May the 4th!

(Watch a trailer for the Star Wars Digital Movie Collection here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuNhZ8K4iow.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Taiwanese Model Transforms into Black Widow for Age of Ultron Event


No, that's not a mannequin. That's Amber An (安心亞), a popular Taiwanese actress and singer (and was voted World's Sexiest Woman by FHM Taiwan), cosplaying as Black Widow from Marvel's The Avengers for an Avengers: Age of Ultron press conference and exhibit in Taipei last weekend.


It's been said Amber An had a bad girl image before, which makes her transformation into Black Widow even more apt. If ever there was such a thing as an Asian Black Widow, I'd want her to look like Ms. Amber here. I mean, look at those eyes, people.



The Philippines will have a similar exhibit when Hot Toys' Age of Ultron tour arrives here in a couple of weeks. I wonder who among our local actresses can pull off a Black Widow?

Anyway, you can check out more pics of her and a 40-foot Mark 42 (!) over at Amber An's page and in Beast Kingdom's page.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Hot Toys Age of Ultron Hulkbuster will bust Hulks, Wallets



Avengers: Age of Ultron is all about going big. Hong Kong-based collectibles company Hot Toys got the memo, so they set out to make their most ambitious figure yet: the mighty Hulkbuster!

Hot Toys just unleashed some truly mouth-watering preview pics of the Hulkbuster Armor, seen in the trailers of Avengers: Age of Ultron as the armor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) uses to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)! Standing at a whopping 21 inches tall, the Hulkbuster is bigger than Hot Toys Hulk. Bigger than even a Hot Toys Iron Monger. It'll be like holding a small child. Madness.


It's got LED lights out the wazoo, and it looks articulated enough, but let's hope it's more articulated than the pics make it look, or that they can fit an entire Hot Toys Iron Man Mk.43 in there just like in the movie. It's certainly freaking imposing, though. I mean, 21 inches? That's almost 2 freaking feet tall. You could put it on a stroller like an armored baby.



Me? I'm just glad I live in a time where something as awesome as the Hulkbuster in collectible figure form exists. Check out more pics over at the official Hot Toys page.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jason Momoa as Aquaman Revealed!

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is more than a year away, but director Zack Snyder just tweeted one of the most interesting pics to come out of DC's upcoming cash cow.



Captioned with the line #unitetheseven, the picture shows Game of Thrones alum Jason Momoa looking grim and all tatted-up Samoan style. I'm loving the intricate armor and the familiar four-pronged trident he's holding. And he's even got the Aquaman logo on his belt! How nice of you, Zack!

What does Unite the Seven mean? Is he going to be the catalyst that brings all the major players together? Or will all the characters in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice have this on their pictures? One thing's for sure: the upcoming DC movie just got real.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Time of the Doctor Collectors' Set Toy Review


Have you ever seen a character don a costume that made you go "I like that. I want a toy of that." That was me when Matt Smith exchanged his professor tweed for the very sexy Purple Frock Coat of Awesome in Doctor Who. I've had a version of it made to wear in conventions, but it would be amazing if I had a toy representation of such a cool costume. Underground Toys tried with their 3.75" line, but they left much to be desired. Until now.

It took a while, but Underground Toys finally released the definitive Eleventh Doctor action figure in their Time of the Doctor Collectors' Set, which I will be gladly reviewing today!


I like the box it comes in. It's made to look like the TARDIS, with the doors able to swing open to reveal the figure inside. It's a nice touch, and the plastic window lets you view the figure in all it's glory. But why settle for a window when you can take it out and play with it?


Standing at 5" tall, the figure captures the look and feel of the Eleventh Doctor in his Series 7b costume nicely. While some manufacturers can't seem to get characters wearing coats right, Underground Toys blows them out of the water, with the Purple Frock Coat of Awesome looking like actual clothing instead of bulky crap. The detail is amazing for a figure of this scale, right down to the texture of the purple cashmere of the frock coat. As a fan of this costume, I am more than pleased.


Of course, this being a toy of the Eleventh Doctor, I'd expect it to at least have a resemblance to Matt Smith, the actor who plays him. Thankfully, the sculptors did a bang-up job capturing Matt's likeness. The paint softens the detail a bit, but from a couple of angles, this figure is undeniably Matt Smith in all his 5-inch glory.


I was actually a bit hesitant to get this figure as I don't know how Underground Toys does articulation. The Eleventh Doctor, being the adorably uncoordinated giraffe that he is, deserves to have a toy that can move as spastic-ally as he does.  It was a pleasant surprise then that this figure has enough articulation to pull off some signature Eleventh Doctor poses.



As pretty as this toy is, the articulation does look downright ugly in some angles (check out that arm swivel!) as Underground Toys sacrificed function to get those sleeves to look realistic at this scale. But at this point it can be forgiven.

The Time of the Doctor Collectors' Set is packed with interesting extras that give a smidgen of a bang for your buck. There's an Aged Doctor head you can swap in if you want a Doctor who's [SPOILERS!] battled the forces of evil in Trenzalore for 900 years. There's a cane accessory included, for that extra Old Man Doctor feel.


And of course, this set wouldn't be complete without a swappable head of Peter Capaldi, who made his debut in The Time of the Doctor as the Twelfth incarnation of the renegade Time Lord.


The Capaldi head has this whimsical look to him that doesn't jive with the Attack Eyebrow'd look of Twelve in the episode, though. Would have been nice if he had those.

If you noticed that Capaldi doesn't sport the iconic bowtie in the picture, then I'm glad you're actually looking at my pictures! But yes, you can actually swap out the vest and shirt part of the figure for a bowtie-less look for Capaldi, with the inside of the frock coat pegging into the torso so it doesn't move around too much.


Be careful though, as the swapping part is harder than it sounds. The vest and shirt part is a bitch to remove, requiring you to wrench the frock coat's collar apart with considerable force to pull it out.


There's a tiny Sonic Screwdriver included in the set, which is a must for Eleven as he just waving that thing around (cue the fangirl squee). It's soft plastic and more detailed than the paint makes it look.


And of course, a set based on The Time of the Doctor won't be complete without Handles the Cyberman head, who was Eleven's constant companion for a couple of centuries in Trenzalore (and is the longest-serving companion in terms of years!). The detail is great, with the paint really bringing out Handles' banged-up state. You can recreate the poster for The Time of the Doctor by putting Handles in Eleven's hand, but the figure's hand can barely grasp Handles' tiny, uh, handles. That shot you see there is the fruit of minutes of cursing under my breath trying not to snap that soft plastic in half trying to get the damn hand to hold it.

And now comes the difficult part: the price. The Time of the Doctor Collectors' Set clocks in at a hefty $35++. As only specialty stores can get it in my country, I got it worse, paying much more. Awfully expensive for a 5-inch figure with scant accessories, but for die-hard Eleventh Doctor fans like me, it doesn't get any better than this.



The Time of the Doctor Collectors' Set is a godsend, giving us an awesome figure of a god-tier costume of an amazing Doctor. If you're a fan of the Eleventh Doctor or even of Doctor Who in general, you'd want to have this in your collection.

Do you miss Eleven like I do? Do you like Eleven's purple frock coat? Leave a comment below and let's talk about it! I hope you enjoyed reading this review as I did writing it. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Wrestlemania Lives in this Lucky Me! Pancit Canton TVC


Local ads have been a jingle-heavy bore fest for the past few years, but the latest ad for Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Chilimansi blows them all away with 24-inch pythons!

Dressing up Edu and Luis Manzano as pastiches of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, respectively, Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Chilimansi lovingly recreates the nostalgic feeling of one of professional wrestling's greatest matches to sell us the fact that Chilimansi is a match made in heaven. The whole thing is amazing; it's like Wrestlemania VI but with pancit canton...they even got frikki'n Carlos "Sonny" Padilla Jr. to referee! Kudos to the creative director and everybody involved in this project. More like this please.

Watch and learn, advertisers. This is how you make a commercial to remember.

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