Monday, June 03, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Movie Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is loud, dumb, and silly as hell. In other words, it's the Godzilla movie we've always dreamed of.

Taking a hard left from the first movie's grounded approach, Godzilla: King of the Monsters leans heavily into the "monster" part of the genre, putting the mysterious organization called Monarch center stage to deal with the 2,000% increase in the world's giant monster population. After the events of 2014's Godzilla, the world now knows that MUTOs Titans walk among us, with Godzilla taking on the role of apex predator. But a shady mercenary group led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) plans to awaken an ancient and dangerous Titan to not just challenge Godzilla's reign but also bring about a new era of monsters ruling the earth, and the only ones standing in their way is Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the Monarch organization!

The complaints from the first film was that there was too much screen time for the puny humans and not for the Big G himself, but in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the humans are rightfully helpless against the unrelenting giant monster assault. But did they really have to make them stupid? The human villain's plan involving the monster villain Ghidorah is illogical at best, downright idiotic at worst, and characters act and speak so unnaturally that I'm surprised none of them are CGI. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown does what she can with her big-screen debut, but she's relegated to crying and screaming at whatever the director is pointing at. Nothing much can be said about the rest of the human cast, who are obviously just written to bring us from one giant monster action scene to the next. What an unfortunate thing to say about a cast that has such luminaries like Ken Watanabe and Zhang ZiYi!

But it's all moot when the Titans start slugging it out, as Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers an all-out assault on your senses and sensibilities. Each monster-centric set piece is vicious, lavishly-rendered, and loud enough to make your teeth chatter.  Not only that, but the monsters are surprisingly faithful adaptations of their Japanese counterparts, so much so that old-school Godzilla fans will find lots to love with this movie, despite the director still making the mistake of cutting to the humans mucking about while Godzilla and Ghidorah are beating each other up naught but a few meters behind them.

Don't make the mistake of expecting anything more from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It's job is to give us Godzilla fucking up Ghidorah and other giant monsters six ways to Sunday, and in that respect the movie is a rousing success.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Marvel Legends Avengers Endgame wave review: Ronin, Hercules, BAF Thanos

Hasbro has been absolutely spoiling us with their recent Marvel Legends offerings, and the latest wave is no exception. Let's check out the choice action figures I got from the Marvel Legends Avengers Endgame wave!

Thanos is an all-new sculpt, based on his final form in Avengers: Endgame. The armor looks menacing, full of sculpted grooves and sharp layers that really brings the image together. His snarling helmeted face is the only one included with the fig, so you'll definitely need the previous MCU Thanos Build-a-Figures if you want an un-helmeted one.

I love how they translated Ronin into action figure form. The details and sculpting are spot on, but it pains me that Hasbro just went with a featureless potato for a head. Would it have killed to have angry eyes sculpted in there? The soft plastic "vest" hides the accurately-sculpted torso, and I think a vest-less Ronin looks good as a screen-accurate Endgame Hawkeye if you so wished.

Marvel's Hercules is a bare-chested beefcake of a figure, and easily my favorite and most-anticipated out of the wave. Based on the character's new look during his short-lived 2016 series under Dan Abnett, Hercules sports a man-bun and a sly smirk that puts the headsculpt among the best I've seen from Marvel Legends so far.

Articulation-wise, Thanos does what it can with armor that hinders some of his movement. The ab crunch is a godsend, but the lack of rocker ankles and waist swivel is the biggest travesty. I guess you could pose him just standing there menacingly, but that's a poor showing for the MCU's biggest bad guy. I also seem to have a bum figure, with both arms not pegging into the shoulders properly, causing them to pop off at the slightest touch. It's not something you can look out for, but I hope this is just an anomaly.

Hercules on the other hand is a well-articulated figure, with pretty much all the action figure joints you need to pull off some impressive poses. It's obvious they poured their heart and soul into making this fig, and we're all the better for it.

Fitting for a limber assassin, Ronin is the most articulated of this bunch if not for the soft plastic "vest" that basically nullifies the ab crunch and waist swivel the figure actually has. I've modded my Ronin following the "fix" floating around the interwebs that gives him better torso range even with the vest, but even then I would rather not have mutilated my perfectly good figure to fix what shouldn't have been a problem in the first place!

What I love about Marvel Legends these days is that when they give figures accessories, they push it to the limit! Hercules has extra hands and a big burly sword and sword-mace to smash foes with, while Ronin has two swords and an extra hand simulating him throwing shuriken at baddies. Thanos, being a B.A.F., only gets the sword-y thing he used in the movie. It's molded in flat gray plastic, which I guess means Hasbro loves giving customizers extra income.

Ronin and Hercules have minimal paint apps, and whatever paint they have were applied well, so I have no complaints. The gold trim on Ronin's costume looks great, and the "chest hair" on Herc is a nice touch! But I don't like the copper-sh paint they used for Thanos' non-armor parts (and from what I've gathered, it's not even screen-accurate!), not to mention the armor could have used a black wash for the details to pop. As it is, the mighty Thanos looks mighty plain even with all that intricate armor. I guess my panel-lining pen is going to see some action today.

Hercules, Thanos, and Ronin are fine action figures and will find homes in many collections. As much as Thanos is my homeboy and I'm glad we have a version of him I've wanted to have for so long, the blandness of the entire fig and it's QC issues leave much to be desired. Hercules emerges as the standout of the set, a welcome update to a beloved character and packed with all the good stuff Marvel Legends should have.

I hope this review has been useful for you! Who's your favorite MCU Marvel Legend? Let's talk about it in the comment box below! Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers Endgame Movie Review

There's no contest. None whatsoever. Avengers: Endgame is the king of comic book superhero movies.

After the events of Infinity War, the remaining heroes of Earth have all but hung up their capes. Super soldier Captain America (Chris Evans), thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), badass humans Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, who finally comes back to complete the gang), and Tony Stark, the Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), are at their lowest, and the feeling of hopelessness and darkness is pervasive if not for the bright light of Scott Lang the Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who brings what could be a way to undo the crimes of Thanos (Josh Brolin) once and for all.

Epic doesn't even begin to describe it. Kevin Feige, the Russo Brothers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and the rest of the crew managed to create a poignant and incredibly satisfying conclusion to 10 years worth of interconnected movies. Avengers: Endgame had to pull a lot of things out of its ass to make it work, sure, but damn if it isn't a fun piece of escapist cinema.

If you come into Avengers: Endgame expecting the story to go a certain way, word of advice: don't. Happily subverting the oft-mentioned "Marvel formula" of storytelling, nothing is sacred, nothing is set in stone with Endgame. Characters change in shocking ways, plans come together in ways you don't expect, and just when you're sure that the Russos are steering into familiar territory, they go off the rails anyway. It's not hyperbole to say you'll be on the edge of your seat for the next 3 hours.

There's also a sense of warm familiarity, as Endgame is essentially a farewell tour of all that you love about Marvel Studios and its characters. You've seen guys like Black Widow or Hulk or even Rocket Raccoon grow all these years, and everyones's growth gets a big payoff in this film. But it's the Big 3 of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man that takes center stage. Their movies jump-started the MCU, and its through their individual stories and struggles that the movie's emotional heart shines. Because whereas Infinity War was Thanos' movie, Avengers: Endgame is entirely our heroes. So much so that, if you're a fan of the Mad Titan and want more of his corpulence on-screen, you might find yourself a smidge disappointed.

But you'll find yourself forgiving that, because all those good things come together in an explosive climax that deserves to be seen on a big screen. Watching it anywhere else would feel like a downgrade. Prepare for a half-hour of non-stop comic book action, a veritable highlight reel of Marvel Studios' superhero roster with callbacks to every single thing you loved about and wish you could see in the MCU. Yes, Marvel listened to us for this one, and I was bawling my eyes out the entire time this was happening.

And that's what's so special about Avengers: Endgame. For fans like me who have been there since the beginning, Endgame feels like a gift from Marvel to us, thanking its audience for its patience and trust. A trust that was repaid 3,000-fold. For everyone who has seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its highs and lows, its awkward first steps and its glorious rise into cinematic history, Endgame is an emotional and satisfying sendoff to an era that has given us fans so much joy.

Thank you, Marvel. Thank you so much.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Final Day: Avengers did it first

Endgame is here! A page from Avengers vol.1 #71 from 1963, from the legendary team of Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema, with inks by Sam Grainger, and lettering by Sam Rosen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 2: Hope this doesn't count as spoilers

A page from The Ultimates vol.2 #11, written by Al Ewing and co-penciled and -inked by Kenneth Rocafort and Djibril Morissette-Phan, with colors by Dan Brown, and lettering by Joe Sabino.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 3: Iron Man as Austin Powers

A splash page from Iron Man vol.1 #165, from a story by Dennis O'Neil and penciled by Luke McDonnell, inked by Steve Mitchell, colored by Bob Sharen, and lettered by Rick Parker.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 4: Put on a happy face

Galactus in trouble (!) in a splash page from Thanos vol.1 #6, written by drawn by the legendary Jim Starlin,
with inks by Al Milgrom, colors by Christie Scheele, and letters by Dave Sharpe.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 5: Glute to see you, Starhawk

A page from Guardians of the Galaxy vol.1 #62 (1995), scripted by Michael Gallagher, penciled by Kevin West,
inked by Steve Montano, colored by Evelyn Stein, and lettered by Joe Rosen.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 6: Because Doctor Who was technically Marvel that one time

A page from the Doctor Who: Endgame comic strips, originally published in

Doctor Who Magazine #244-247 (1996). Also the first Eighth Doctor comic strip!
Written by Alan Barns, with art by Martin Geraghty, Robin Smith, and Robin Riggs, and letters by Elitta Fell.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 7: Ant-y Matter

Splash ant page from Irredeemable Ant-Man Vol.1 #6, scripted by Robert Kirkman, penciled by Phil Hester,
with inks by Ande Parks, colors by Bill Crabtree (whoo!), and letters by Rus Wooton.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 8: Yeah calling each other by our codenames will never be awkward

A page from Iron Fist/Wolverine (2000) #4, written by Jay Faerber, penciled by Jamal Igle,
inked by Rich Perrotta, colored by Liquid!, and lettered by Richard Starkings and Comicraft's Troy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 9: X Marks the Spot

Cover for X-Factor vol.1 #65, co-scripted by Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, and Chris Claremont
(holy crap that's a lot of talent in one book), with art by Whilce Portacio, inks by Art Thibert,
colors by Steve Buccellato, and letters by Michael Heisler.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 10: Infinity Warlock

Splash page from Warlock vol.4 (1998) #4, scripted and penciled by Tom Lyle, with Robert Jones on inks,
Tom Smith on colors, and Richard Starkings, Comicraft, and Wes Abbott on letters.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 11: Hulking Out

A page from The Incredible Hulk vol.1 #168, with story by Greg Pak, pencils by Paul Pelletier, inks by Danny Miki and Crimelab Studios, colors by Frank D'Armata with Veronica Gandini, and lettering by Simon Bowland.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Shazam! Movie Review

With Shazam!, the DC Extended Universe is starting to lose its edge...and it's all the better for it. True to his nickname of "The Big Red Cheese", Shazam! arrives on the big screen in a movie full of laughs, superhero action, and a surprising amount of heart.

It's really weird to say that a DC Comics movie is comfy, but there's a certain earnestness and warmth to Shazam! that evokes the style and feel of 1980's children's adventure movies like The Goonies or E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, and folks looking for the same edgy veneer as Aquaman and Wonder Woman will be hard-pressed to find them here.

Not to say that it's all fun and games, as Shazam! still deals with themes like abandonment, loss, and a kid's need to be validated, as is the case with Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a troubled orphan boy who spends most of the movie pining over a mother who may or may not have abandoned him. Billy's rebellious nature doesn't faze the ancient Wizard Shazam (Djimon Honsou in his second DC movie role), who bestows upon him his powers and turning Billy into a superpowered adult (played by Zachary Levi) tasked to guard the Seven Deadly Sins, a group of evil spirits that could spell doom on Earth should they escape. All well and good, except Billy would rather busk corners and take selfies as Shazam than be the hero he's meant to be.

It's amazing that the two best performances of the film come from the actors playing the same character. Asher Angel is equal parts charming and childish as troubled teen Billy Batson, and it doesn't stop when he transforms into Zachary Levi's Shazam, who has the immature doofus act down pat. Levi's adult Shazam is the perfect vehicle for Billy's journey from edgy asshole to hero, and it's fun to watch him take the "kid in an adult's body" bit and run with it like only he can. The rest of the kid cast is great, though Jack Dylan Grazer's role as Billy's foster brother/best friend Freddie Freeman may be downright annoying at times, but I guess that's just the adult in me talking. Oh god I'm an adult now...

Throwing a wrench into the wizard's plan is Sivana (Mark Strong), a rejected candidate for the power of Shazam and whose abusive upbringing turned him into a bitter man obsessed with wielding power over the weak. Given the DCEU treatment, Dr. Sivana is no longer the mad snickering geezer with Mr. Magoo glasses but a force of evil that's truly menacing thanks to Mark Strong's performance, making him one of the better-done villains DC has had so far.

It's surprising how down-to-earth Shazam! feels, to the point that it might come across as boring to fanboys who've been used to being fed the over-the-top action the DC movie universe is known for. Indeed, it drags in some parts as superheroics take the back seat to more family drama, but I feel that's what's so endearing about this movie. It's more about a kid's journey towards acceptance and finding a family who will call him their own, and that makes Shazam the superhero more relatable in the end.

Shazam! is the "easy listening" of DC movies, a wonderful palate cleanser after all the non-stop epicness thrown at us so far. If you're a fan of Shazam in any capacity, you'll find lots to love with this film, and I'm sure even non-fans will find something to love here as well.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Top 5 Post-Endgame Storyline Predictions

It's official: Disney now owns 21st Century Fox, meaning that the live-action rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four are now under Marvel Studios! What does that mean for us geeks? It means that it's now inevitable that the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will rub elbows with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Welcome home, indeed!

With Avengers: Endgame less than a month away, the future of the MCU as we know it post-Endgame is now anything-goes. Thankfully, the comic books that inspired the movies are still ripe with exciting stories Marvel Studios can use to tell the further adventures of our cinematic heroes! Here are five Marvel Comics storylines that Marvel Studios can use post-Endgame. What are the odds these stories will happen? Which are the best stories to adapt to the big screen? I rate them now so you won't have to!

5. Operation: Galactic Storm

What is it: A giant crossover storyline that saw the Avengers caught in the war between the Kree and Shi'Ar race.

Will it happen?: Well, with the Kree-Skrull War still fresh in the people's minds because of the Captain Marvel movie, making another movie about another intergalactic war feels passé and rehashed. Galactic Storm also featured a schism between Captain America and Iron Man over a decision they didn't mutually agree with. Where have I heard that before?

Odds: 10,000 to 1

4. Avengers vs. X-Men

What is it: The Avengers and the X-Men punch each other instead of talking it out in the biggest case of "Not talking it out fucks everything up" ever seen in comics. Oh, and the Phoenix Force gets broken into pieces for some reason.

Will it happen?: I mean, Captain America: Civil War has shown that Marvel Studios is capable of crafting something interesting out of bad stories (full disclosure: the Civil War storyline was what brought me back to comics after a long hiatus), especially involving two superteams punching each other out. But as events go, I'd rather have the Avengers and the X-Men team up instead of tear each other apart.

Odds: 1,000 to 1

3. House of M

What is it: An 8-issue event that saw the Avengers and the X-Men thrown into an alternate reality created by Scarlet Witch where mutantkind reigns supreme. Famous for Scarlet Witch's wish for "No more mutants.", which resulted in the decimation of the mutant gene.

Will it happen?: Depends. With the X-Men now in Disney's hands, will they find a way for Wanda and Pietro Maximoff to be related to movie Magneto, especially that it's been established that Wanda and Pietro's powers came from an Infinity Stone? Are alternate realities a fit for the MCU's grounded aesthetics? As much as I didn't like the storyline, porting it into Marvel's cinematic universe sounds like a fun time at the movies regardless.

Odds: 500 to 1

2. Secret Wars

What is it: No, not that weird Jonathan Hickman one. The 1984 crossover comic book event slash toyline tie-in one. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars featured a who's who of Marvel characters, who were kidnapped by a cosmic being called the Beyonder to fight each other in a "Battleworld" for the Beyonder's own amusement!

Will it happen?: If you're going to feature guys like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Avengers together in one screen, this is a painlessly fun way to do it. The storyline was popular and was even the first appearance of the symbiote, so there's even an in for Eddie Brock/Venom if Marvel wished. Win/win!

Odds: 100 to 1

1. The Coming of Galactus

What is it: A three-part storyarc that introduced Galactus to the Marvel Universe. The Devourer of Worlds has set his sights on Earth, and its last line of defense is the Fantastic Four!

Will it happen?: GOD I HOPE SO. Galactus is one of my favorite characters, so to see him on the big screen in all his glory will probably melt my brain. With how much flack Fox got with showing Galactus as a lame dust cloud in that funny movie, this is the perfect chance for Marvel Studios to do Galactus right. Besides, if you're gonna bring the Fantastic Four to the MCU, Galactus better not be that far behind!

Odds: 4 to 1

Which Marvel Comics storylines would you like to see in the big screen? Let's talk about it in the comment box below. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Transformers Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime Review

The one thing I hate about Transformers Studio Series-38 Optimus Prime is that we had to wait this long to have a G1-inspired movie Prime. I mean, you mean tell me we could have gotten G1-inspired designs from the get-go and you just didn't wanna? For shame! Still, I'm glad the powers-that-be saw the error of their ways and gave us the movie Optimus Prime toy we deserved...the very toy I will be reviewing today!

Standing at 7 inches tall, Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime is typical of the Voyager size class. I would wish him to be bigger, but here we are. As with every fig in the Studio Series line, Optimus Prime was designed to be as movie-accurate as possible, and so Hasbro packed a lot of detail in this figure that you would probably see on-screen. I especially liked the torso sculpting, with all the silver mechanisms and detailing, giving this Optimus Prime toy that realistic feel.

Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime is packed with articulation you don't usually see in Transformers toys. The hips have incredible range and motion, giving Optimus the ability to pull off a convincing kneeling pose. There's also a welcome waist swivel and ankle rokers for even more posing options! This is an Optimus who wouldn't be caught dead standing like a brick in the heat of battle.

With simple transformations being in vogue recently, It feels damn good to know that Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime requires a whopping 35 steps to transform convert! I love puzzles myself, and I have to say converting this figure into either mode is a welcome challenge. It's just a shame that some parts (especially in the legs, which is apparently a common issue) don't peg into each other right or pop apart way too easily. There are a LOT of fiddly, come-apart-y things with this fig, and I won't blame you if you get frustrated transforming him the first few times.

Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime converts into a nondescript flatnose truck just as God intended. The detail is great, and the silver paint mimicking the familiar G1 livery brings it all together. The truck mode is a tad small for a voyager-class figure, unfortunately. Rising cost of plastics, everyone!

Accessory wise, Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime comes with the only accessory that matters: his iconic Ion Blaster. Only this time, it's updated for modern sensibilities. The familiar rear end design of the gun is still there, but now the entire gun is longer and definitely meaner looking. It's even got a magazine that's begging to be emptied into stinkin' Decepticons. This is the gun of a soldier who ain't looking to forgive.

And as with all Studio Series toys, Optimus Prime here comes with a cardboard stage and backdrop, in this case a shot of the San Francisco Bridge. Very nice! 

The moment Optimus Prime made his explosive appearance during the first five minutes of the Bumblebee movieI knew we had something special in our hands, and it was only a matter of time before Hasbro saw his money-printing potential. Transformers Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime is an amazing toy of a character in much need of updating, and I'm sure he'll find himself leading may different Transformers displays before long!

He's been out in stores for the past few months but it's only come out of Philippine toy store shelves a few weeks ago. If you can find a way to get him for retail, do so and fast.

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