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Monday, November 30, 2015

Trese Board Game Playtest: It's Scary Good


It's official: I live in an age where Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo's scary, insane, and amazing comic book Trese has been made into a board game.

My girlfriend Andrea and I had the privilege of being one of the first to playtest Balangay Entertainment's prototype Trese Board Game in Uno Morato last Saturday, and I have to admit I had some reservations. But all those doubts disappeared once the dice started rolling!


I was surprised at how well thought-out the Trese Board Game is. You play as one of five characters from the Trese comic (Maliksi, Captain Guerrero, the twins Crispin and Basilio, and, of course, Alexandra Trese herself), and the goal is to beat the scenario by completing three objectives. We got the God of War scenario, so we had to stop Bombers from blowing up locations, enlist the aid of supernatural creatures, and finally seal the Big Bad Talagbusao at the end to win.


The Trese Board Game took us to some iconic locations in Manila, where cases come up (via Case Cards) that need your team's attention. You roll dice to attack aswang, disarm bombers, or solve cases. The Case Cards are interesting in that you don't know what you're getting into until the Cases 'manifest' themselves by flipping face up. It's that kind of randomness that kept us players on our toes.

Too many cases unsolved, though, and the Crisis Meter goes up, representing the escalating trouble in the city. Once the meter reaches its highest point, the city is in shambles and you lose. It's a brilliant mechanic, really, and I love how it makes you feel just like Trese and the gang as they try to stop the city from being overrun. It's a good incentive for your team not to mess around and solve some cases!

Our team of four (Crispin, Basilio, Captain Guerrero, and Maliksi) made it to the end of the God of War scenario, where the final objective was to seal the dreaded Talagbusao. As luck would have it, the Kambal were in the right place at the right time to seal the dude and end his reign of destruction once and for all, just like in the comic! In the end, after a suspenseful series of dice rolls trying to meet Talagbusao's high requirements, it was Andrea (as Basilio) with help from another player (as Crispin), who defeated the Talagbusao and ended the session in victory!


It was a fun ride, and kudos to Balangay Entertainment for successfully translating the feel and flavor of Trese into board game form. We had lots of fun, and you can bet that we'll be there to buy a copy once it's available!

Thanks for reading! If you want to know more about Balangay Entertainment, you can visit their fanpage here. Haven't read Trese yet? You frikkin' should. Trese is available at National Bookstore and other good book stores.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Ronnie del Carmen and Pete Docter Invade Manila for INSIDE OUT


Inside Out, Disney-Pixar's latest movie, arrives in Philippine theaters August 19, and what better way to celebrate its release than with a visit from the two people who helped bring it to life!

Ronnie del Carmen and Inside Out director Pete Docter are in Manila right now to promote Disney-Pixar's latest animated film, and we're fortunate enough to have been given exclusive access to their press conference! This is the first time Pixar ever flew someone over to Manila to promote their film, so this is an amazing opportunity to know more about Inside Out straight from the source.


Pete and Ronnie were all smiles as they climbed up the stage, even dancing an adorable little jig for everyone in attendance. "We've been here 12 hours and we've already eaten 3 times," Pete quipped before taking his seat. Looks like Ronnie's been giving Pete a crash course in Filipino dining habits!

Ronnie del Carmen is a veritable rock star in his own country, as he's one of the most prominent Filipinos working in Hollywood right now, having worked on some of Pixar's most memorable hits like Up, WALL-E, Finding Nemo, and now Inside Out. A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas majoring in Advertising (like me!), Ronnie's hard work enabled him to be pulled into Pixar and eventually leading him to where he is today, back in Manila sitting in front of a media/press crowd promoting the film he co-directed with Pete Docter.


"[Pixar is] a collaborative place," Pete tells us in between regaling the crowd of the process that goes into making a movie like Inside Out. "There's a team of 270 amazingly talented artists who worked on this film, and every one of them contributed in some way."

Unsurprisingly, some of these 270 were fellow Filipinos, Ronnie revealed. "We called ourselves Pixnoys (Pixar-Pinoys). And all we do is eat."

Kidding, of course. Ronnie always looks like he's having the time of his life.

Having migrated to the US in 1989, Ronnie calls it "quite a journey" from simply watching movies in Greenbelt, wishing he could be a part of making movies, to eventually working at Pixar. "I'm not just coming home, there's a movie I helped make that 's opening here [in the Philippines] and it's kind of a surreal experience."

"It's a dream come true," Ronnie says with a smile.


At a current global box office take of $630 million (with more territories still waiting for the premiere), Inside Out is a smash hit for Pixar, who seem to have a knack for bringing engaging and funny stories to life.

One surprising tidbit about Inside Out was that it was supposed to feature depression as 'a malevolent force taking over', but decided against it, as it didn't further the message they were trying to convey. "The thing about depression is that it's the absence of emotion," Ronnie says. "It's not about being political. It takes it out of the hands of the protagonist. It would not be worth watching this movie about emotions and you're ineffective."


A movie about emotions have never been done before, and it took Pete and Ronnie's team 5 years of exhaustive research into psychology and story meetings-cum-therapy sessions to clarify how they're going to go about making people care about personifications of emotions.

"The research kind of fell our way and we were like, 'Yes! We can tell the story' because the hard thing to do is to make a movie wherein you care about what your characters are going through." Pete explained. "No one's ever seen an emotion before, nobody knows what they do, yet they're these characters in a little girl's head, and we're supposed to care about what they want. That is monumental."

The last question is the most decisive one: will we ever see the Pixar films, a collection of movies that's been analyzed by fans to hell and back as happening in a single universe, cross over with each other?

"This will be a controversial answer," Pete said with a rueful smile before answering in the quite definitive "No."

Ow. Sorry about that, Pixar shared-universe fans.


And just like that, the presscon was over. Pete and Ronnie stayed to do a photo op holding plush toys of Inside Out's characters, their babies, and you can see in their faces the relief of finally releasing to the world their labor of love. And with a near perfect score from critics and fans alike, it's evident the world absolutely loves them too.

Inside Out opens across the Philippines on August 19, 2015.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

7 Things from the Batman v Superman Trailer

San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has been carpet-bombing us with mind-blowing reveals, but right now none have been as mind-blowing as the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer! This new trailer is chock full of new footage, giving us some interesting new info about the movie. Let's look at seven things that stood out from the trailer!


THE TRIAL OF SUPERMAN

Many wondered why the gratuitous Disaster Porn of Man of Steel seemed to have no repercussions. But apparently that's not true, since it looks like Superman WILL be held liable for the destruction of Metropolis. How liable though, is anyone's guess. What else can they do to a guy who can shrug off the blast from a World Engine? And can Superman's reputation even recover? I guess we'll have to wait till the movie arrives for the answer.


WAYNE TOWER FALLS

Speaking of destruction, it's now verified that Wayne Tower is one of the many buildings destroyed by Superman's fight with Zod, and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) was there to see it happen! Shades of 9/11 permeate this scene, and it looks like this event is the catalyst for Batman's disdain for the Man of Steel.


KNEEL BEFORE LUTHOR

An unusual scene, which looks like Superman at the mercy of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg)! Will this be the reason why Superman would choose to battle Batman? Is mind control involved? Lex's smug smile and Superman's blank stare could be a hint of how this goes down.


A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

In a nice nod to the comics, Bruce Wayne looks upon a costume mounted in the Batcave's museum, and it's unmistakably the costume of Robin, Batman's trusty sidekick! It's grafitti'd with something the Joker would say, implying that Jared Leto's character in Suicide Squad may have a hand in making that suit empty, just like how the Joker was the reason for Robin's death in the comics. It also implies Batman did have a partner at some point, and whatever happened to him may have had a profound effect on Bruce Wayne's worldview.


WONDER WOMAN!

Finally, we get a clear look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman! I have to say I'm loving the look, and it's the scene that gave me more chills than any other scene in the trailer. She looks WAY out of place in the trailer, though, but that's just the comic book fan in me talking. Where does she fit in with Batman and Superman's rivalry? I guess the trailer worked, because now I can't wait to know the answer.


DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

Blink and you'll miss it! Before Batffleck grapples away from an energy blast, he's bathed in a lightning silhouette that's awfully familiar...


It looks like the good folks of Batman v Superman paid homage to Frank Miller's iconic cover from The Dark Knight Returns!


KRRRRYPTONITE!

Green rocks in a Superman movie? It doesn't look good for the Man of Steel already. Looks like Luthor will gain access to Kryptonite at one point in the film. It's Superman's biggest weakness in the comics, but we'll have to see what effects it has on him in Batman v Superman.



Judging from the things we learned from the trailer, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is shaping up to be the most anticipated movie for DC Comics fans, and comic book fans in general. If the film is as good as the trailer makes it look, the mind blowing has only just begun!

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is in theaters March 25, 2016.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nostalgia Makes Me Feel Good!



There was one toy that caught my attention at ToyCon, and for me it was worth more than any toy in that convention.

While squeezing myself through the crowd during last Saturday's ToyCon, I came upon this shop that had lots of vintage G.I. Joes, SilverHawks, X-Men, and Star Wars figs. If I saw a figure I once owned in that pile I would break into a smile. I looked around to see what else they had, and that's when I saw hanging on their booth's wall a Proton Pack toy from The Real Ghostbusters toyline.

Suddenly, nostalgia carpet-bombed my consciousness. Seeing the thing up close brought back lots of memories! I was a huge fan of The Real Ghostbusters as a kid, and my mom often told the story of how she bought a Proton Pack like this from a catalog while she was in the States and almost didn't catch her flight home coz it was only delivered the very same day she was supposed to leave.


The day I got this toy was one of the best days of my life. The Proton Pack was one of, if not THE first of my "big" toys. To me it was the Real Thing, and I wore it every damn day, bustin' "ghosts" all through the house and annoying my parents with the incessant whirring noise the gun made!

Unfortunately, my Proton Pack was given away during the Great Teenage Toy Purge (where she thought I was too old for toys), so you could imagine my joy seeing one of these again. I was even half-hoping it was actually my Proton Pack, inspecting it to see if it had the same pinch in the hose or the same tear in the sticker I remember so vividly.

I asked how much they're selling it for, and they told me they haven't put a price on it yet. Just as well...you can't really put a price on nostalgia.

Did you ever see a toy from your childhood that gave you nostalgia feels?


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World Movie Review


The first Jurassic Park was a marvel of modern cinema. Unfortunately, it got a bit long in the tooth with every sequel. But just when you thought it could only get worse, Jurassic World comes to remind itself that it could get better, and it can start by sticking to what it did best.

Located off the coast of Costa Rica, the Jurassic World luxury resort provides a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, including the vicious and intelligent Indominus rex. When the massive creature escapes, it sets off a chain reaction that causes the other dinos to run amok. Now, it's up to a former military man and animal expert (Chris Pratt) to use his special skills to save two young brothers and the rest of the tourists from an all-out, prehistoric assault.

There are points where Jurassic World feels too much like a love letter to the original Jurassic Park, like it was slowly turning into a remake than standing on its own reptilian feet. But on the other hand, that was probably why I enjoyed Jurassic World so damn much. Running through corridors being chased by raptors, kids running through forests with a dinosaur hot on their tail, all of it brought back awe and wonder and visceral thrill of seeing dinosaurs chomp and stomp their way across the screen just like it did when I first saw the original 1993 film as a kid.


The humans this time around are a bit genre-savvy, a bit more aware that what the fact that Jurassic World exists is crazy and fun...and every bit as dangerous. Chris Pratt steals the show with his cool and collected performance as alpha male Owen Grady, channeling his previous Star-Lord persona to woo ladies and stare down velociraptors like it's no big deal. Unfortunately, there wasn't much characterization left in the bowl for the rest of the cast. Bryce Dallas Howard was okay as overachieving park manager Claire, not as particularly memorable as Laura Dern was in her time. Vincent D'Onofrio as shady InGen thug had nothing much to do. The two kids? Jeez, I even forgot the kids' names, and their 'parents-about-to-divorce' back story wasn't very compelling.

You know who was compelling though? The dinosaurs.


Dinosaurs. Compelling. Not exactly the kind of word I'd describe long-extinct reptiles who want to eat everything that moves, but when you fear for every living thing on screen whenever the Indominus Rex (the movie's Big Bad) arrives, or feel that swell of joy seeing freaking velociraptors have a Big Damn Heroes moment, there's no other other way to describe it. The featured dinos this time around had "real" personalities, showcasing the underlying themes of humans (unsuccessfully) meddling with nature, especially 65 million year old nature.


But most importantly, Jurassic World made me fall in love with dinosaurs, even the first Jurassic Park, all over again. Trust me, the climactic battle will make sure you'll feel the same way too. Despite feeling like a retread, there's no denying that Jurassic World is a damn-near solid blockbuster film, a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. Rejoice! Dinosaurs are cool again. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The ‘Single Ladies’ / Shingeki no Kyojin Mash-Up You Need Right Now

Guile's Theme? Go home and be a family man. The DuckTales theme? You are small time.

If you really want to know if Beyonce's video for "Single Ladies" is universal, there's no better way to test it than to set it to the song that absolutely goes with everything: Guren no Yumiya, the opening song to Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), as Youtube user Lei Riddel just did!

I don't think I've ever seen such holy symmetry. It's like discovering the equation that answers the meaning of life.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

4 Awesome Things to Come Out of NexCon 2


What a difference a year makes!

Last year's NexCon was fun if not a bit small-ish, but just like modern comic books, the ultimate celebration of science fiction and fantasy in the Philippines took everything it did right, added more things to do right, and turned it up all the way to 11 this 2015, resulting in NexCon 2: Heroes Rising!

I was there for both days and let me tell you, I don't think I'll be going to any other con any time soon (and it's not just because I'm out of money). NexCon 2 was the proverbial breath of fresh air the local convention scene needed, and it resulted in some of the best con-going moments this geek has ever had.

Here are four of the awesome things to come out of arguably one of the best conventions of the year.

THE COSPLAY



There were more cosplayers in this year's NexCon. Way more, as Reskiy's video above shows (my girlfriend and I even get some good screen time in!), which made the con much more fun to roam around in. From Game of Thrones to Marvel and DC, Star Wars to Supernatural, Big Hero 6 to Doctor Who, NexCon had them all in spades and droves!

What's even better is that online chatter about the cosplay environment in NexCon 2 has been overwhelmingly positive, so kudos to NexCon 2 for making the convention not just fun but also safe for cosplayers.


THE LIP SYNC KOMBAT


NexCon 2 did its own version of the wildly popular Lip Sync Battle, this time made even better because it had pop culture characters performing some of the cheesiest hits known to man!

Some of NexCon 2's most memorable moments came from the Lip Sync Kombat, with match ups like Iron Man vs. Captain America and Asuka Langley vs Castiel from Supernatural (seen above) chewing scenery and trying to one-up the other in over-the-top displays of lip-synching mastery! And the fun part? Everyone was singing along with them.


THE "TAGALIZED" DOCTOR WHO


Unbeknownst to many, there's a secret battle raging on about whether Doctor Who should be aired as is or "Tagalized" (dubbed in Filipino, our national language). Enter Noel Urbano and Louie Paraboles, Filipino voice acting veterans and panelists of NexCon's Tagalize This! panel. After talking about their experiences in the Philippine dubbing industry, they gave us a treat we won't soon forget: a live dub-over of a scene from the Doctor Who episode Day of the Doctor!

At that point, no one has heard Doctor Who being translated to Filipino before, much less dubbed over in it, but thanks to Urbano, Paraboles, panel moderator Cyrus the Virus (who is an accomplished radio personality and singer himself), and two of my Whovian friends (hi Janir and Kat!), we were given a "Tagalized" Doctor Who that is both faithful and tastefully done. We now have definitive proof that Doctor Who can be "Tagalized", and it can be done well!


THE MOMENTS WE WILL REMEMBER

Photo courtesy of Happy Hariography.

Some of us don't think about it too much when we shell out Php250 for a con entrance. Maybe you'd think "I'm here to look at stuff, maybe buy a trinket or two, and then leave."

Not in NexCon 2.

The main thing that separates NexCon from every other local con is the people. As one friend of mine put it best, "It actually feels like one big geek party at someone's house. If not everyone is your friend, they become one." It's like everyone is on the same wavelength, all of you are there to celebrate your fandom. Two cosplayers dressed as the same Doctor Who character? They won't just high-five each other, they could end up being great friends after!

 Photo courtesy of Jin (behindinfinity)

And the quality of the crowd lead to some memorable moments I haven't seen from any other convention since. Ben Affleck's Batman hugged Man of Steel's Superman on stage, Budjette Tan had his pic taken with Trese herself, and popular cosplayer Jin Joson invited the crowd to help her re-enact the microbots scene from Big Hero 6 (as seen above)!


These are just some of the awesome things to come out of NexCon 2: Heroes Rising. If you weren't there, you missed out big time, but hopefully next year we'll see you and we'll party together, yeah?

Got any more interesting and awesome moments to share from NexCon 2? Leave a comment below and let's spaz about it like the fanboys/fangirls that we are! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Top 5 Strangest Star Wars Merchandise

Star Wars is such a huge and money-making franchise that making merchandise out of its iconic characters and settings is a no-brainer. But while there have been awesome stuff made like Force FX lightsabers and Hot Toys, a few strange and quirky ones slip through the cracks.

So in this special Star Wars-themed edition of Top 5 Thursdays, we look at 5 of the weirdest, off-the-wall merchandise ever made out of arguably the most iconic sci-fi franchise ever and ranked them so you won't have to!


5. QUICK'S DARK VADOR BURGER


I've written about this one before, and till now the strangeness of its jet-black buns continues to haunt me. Available only in France during the 3D re-release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the so-called "Dark Vador" burger looked both freakin' delicious and crap-your-pants scary, just like the Dark Side of the Force.


4. GEORGE LUCAS IN CARBONITE


One of the weirder things to come out of Japan is this life-sized sculpture of George Lucas himself trapped in carbonite, a piece made for a Star Wars convention in Japan. One wonders what sort of dastardly deed Lucas did to be imprisoned in this iconic manner, but we're sure the haters of the prequel trilogy probably have an idea as to what that is.


3. CHEWBACCA "2nd SKIN" COSTUME


Apparently (and scarily), this is is a very real thing: a full-body, skin-tight stretch jumpsuit of Chewbacca for when you want to look like everyone's favorite Wookiee if he was vacuum-sealed. I don't know if this is the case of someone who didn't want to commit to cosplaying full Chewie...or someone who went too far.


2. JAR-JAR BINKS CANDY


If the thought of French-kissing a swamp-dwelling Gungan sickens you, what more the kids who asked for a Star Wars-themed lollipop only to realize their parents unwittingly told them to suck on Jar-Jar Binks' sticky, cherry-flavored candy tongue? I still ask, what in the name of all things holy were they thinking?!


1. WHATEVER THE HELL THIS IS



Seriously, what the hell is it? Oh god, I don't even want to know. Is it from a Star Wars/Hellraiser crossover I wasn't privy to? What is poor Han actually transforming into? And why can't I scrub the thought of seeing this skitter on the floor towards me from my brain?


And that's the top 5 strangest Star Wars-themed merchandise as rated by yours truly. Know of any more strange and downright insane merchandise from the galaxy far, far away? Leave me a comment below and let's talk about it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Force Has Been With Me All Along

I still remember it vividly like it was yesterday. It’s a high school weekend, and my dad showed me a boxed set of VHS tapes his officemate lent him. It was a trilogy called  Star Wars. Figuring I had nothing else to do, I took the first tape, loaded it into our VHS player, and started watching.

I didn’t stop until the credits to Return of the Jedi rolled.

My next few weekends were spent taking out my tito’s Star Wars VHS boxed set and just watching them whenever I can. I would watch it chronologically, backwards, sideways until the tape was rubbed raw. There was something about this sci-fi epic that resonated with me, even if back then I didn’t understand why. And no, it wasn’t because of Slave Leia.

Then Episode I: The Phantom Menace rolled around, and I remember geeking out at Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber, considered by myself then to be the most awesome thing that was ever invented. Shortly after, my mom bought me a cool glow-in-the-dark Star Wars shirt that I wore so many times it became rattier than a Tusken Raider’s robes. In college, when everybody else was playing Counter-Strike, my friends and I would be playing Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, spending hours after classes force-choking opponents left and right.

But I never, ever identified myself as a Star Wars fan.

And that’s weird. In this day and age where everything is a ‘fandom’, it’s either you are or you are not, and your loyalty is measured by how much time and resources you’ve dedicated to externalizing it. I thought Star Wars was an awesome piece of sci-fi, something that made for nice shirts and toys and games, nothing more…until I saw the second trailer to The Force Awakens, the start of the new Star Wars trilogy by J.J. Abrams.

It was beautiful. It was nostalgic (Han Solo and Chewie reunion!). And more importantly, it opened my mind to something I’ve unconsciously tried to deny all these years.

I LOVE Star Wars.

It took a trailer to the new trilogy to remind me of how much I loved the old one. It reminded me that Star Wars was more than just an awesome sci-fi story. It opened our minds to mankind’s future potential. It gave us our love for lightsabers and flashy lightsaber fights, of Sith Lords and Jedi Masters. It gave us a story of hope and redemption, of life lessons that will never grow old or dated, which means Star Wars will always be relevant no matter what the generation. And with The Force Awakens, my generation can finally have a Star Wars film we can truly claim as our own.

I understood now, after all this time. Star Wars was a formative part of my geekhood, and the feeling of finally accepting that takes me back to my teenage years, back to the weekends watching and enjoying the original trilogy over and over. In a way, I never really stopped. You might say the force has been with me all along.

---

This post was originally published in the May 4, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

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!
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