woensdag 30 december 2015
Het jaar zit er min of meer op, dus is het tijd voor de gebruikelijke lijstjes. Welke films die dit jaar het licht in het donker vormden kan ik iedereen aanbevelen, en welke moet een ieder absoluut zien te vermijden? Hieronder de links naar de lijstjes zoals ik die heb ingediend bij mijn voormalige werkgever, MovieScene.nl, en mijn huidige, FilmTotaal.nl, gevolgd door mijn wat uitgebreidere originele tekst.
MovieScene: Beste Films 2015
MovieScene: Slechtste Films 2015
FilmTotaal Top 10
Top 10 Beste Films
1. Jurassic World
Nou nou, wie had dat aan zien komen voor een JP fanaat als ik... Objectief gezien natuurlijk niet de beste, maar over Jurassic ben ik nooit objectief geweest en iedereen mag het weten. Ondanks die paar tekortkomingen (rennen in hoge hakken en zo) die ik domweg negeer, bleek het een emotioneel weerzien (vier keer, veel te weinig eigenlijk) met een oude vriend die ik veel te lang heb moeten missen (veertien lange, onafzienbare jaren). Een werkend park en hordes dino's is precies wat ik wilde hebben en precies wat ik kreeg. Welcome to Jurassic World! In de negen titels hierna volgt die gewraakte objectiviteit.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
George Millers krankzinnige comeback naar de gekkigheid die hem eind jaren zeventig op de kaart zette blijkt zowel voor fans van het eerste uur als de nieuwe generatie een volslagen surrealistische en hyperactieve hellevaart. 'Over the top' krijgt een geheel nieuwe invulling en het publiek de beste actiefilm in jaren. 'What a film, what a lovely film!'
3. The Martian
Sir Ridley weet science in space na Nolans bombastische en wetenschappelijk absurde Interstellar weer interessant te krijgen met een zowel intiem als episch drama. Louter topacteurs en Mars zag er nog nooit zo prachtig maar toch zo vervaarlijk uit. Plus de beste Lord of the Rings verwijzing ooit.
4. Ex Machina
Dit fenomenaal gespeelde drama kruipt onder je huid en zet de verhoudingen met je techologische gadgets weer op scherp. Machines zijn zowel verleidelijk als beangstigend in deze intelligente maar constant onheilszwangere Sci-Fi thriller. Oscars voor de hele main cast alstublieft!
5. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
De hype was zoals verwacht een tikkeltje extreem, maar toch bleek TFA een geslaagde nieuwe Star Wars film die ons de teleurstellende prequels deed vergeten. Hoewel het verhaal bij vlagen een herbewerking van ouder materiaal leek, wist zowel de oude als de nieuwe cast te overtuigen. Het geheel werd met zoveel liefde door overduidelijke medefans geleverd dat het onmogelijk was er niet in mee te gaan. Toch zal ik meneer Abrams de begane misstappen bij die andere space opera franchise, Star Trek, niet vergeven.
6. Inside Out
Wie dacht dat Pixar tussen alle sequels door geen tijd meer had voor innovatieve ideeën bleek zich schromelijk te vergissen. De geest van Pixar leeft als nooit tevoren in deze Pixarfilm over de geest. Wederom een tranentrekker voor het hele gezin van de bovenste plank.
In de 'war on drugs' is het recht de grootste verliezer, stelt pessimist Denis Villeneuve. Dankzij dit zenuwslopende drama moeten we hem gelijk geven. Intense spanning, fantastische acteurs en een luguber einde dat nog een tijdje na blijft galmen, alles wat we gewend zijn van onze favoriete Canadese zwartkijker.
Na de teleurstelling van Avengers: Age of Ultron waren we wel toe aan iets heel anders, iets kleiners. We kregen het letterlijk in deze superheldenkomedie met een hart van goud. Ondanks het opstappen van Edgar Wright blijft zijn stempel qua komische opzet en energieke montage goddank herkenbaar behouden.
9. Er Ist Wieder Da
Lachen om Hitler, mag dat? Ja hoor, maar de boodschap dat de komst van een nieuwe Führer met even onfrisse opvattingen als de oude dichterbij is dan we wellicht zouden denken, gaat niet aan de kijker voorbij. Hilarisch maar confronterend tegelijk.
10. The Walk
Robert Zemeckis' ode aan doorzettende durfals kent een simpel plotje maar wordt met bijzonder veel vaart en enthousiasme verteld. Maar het is de techniek die deze bioscoopervaring compleet maakt. De derde dimensie wordt zelden met zoveel effect geleverd. Mensen met hoogtevrees kunnen wellicht beter thuis blijven. Jammer genoeg zal deze film in de thuisbios lang zo'n indruk niet maken.
Troep zat er helaas ook genoeg tussen dit jaar...
Top 5 Slechtste Films
Wat vroeger werkte, werkt nu vast ook wel, dachten de Hollywoodbonzen. Dus gaan we weer met de Griswalds op vakantie in de wetenschap dat alles fout zal gaan. Inclusief de grappen, want de humor is wel heel erg onleuk. Hoeveel lichaamssapgrappen kunnen er doodslaan in één klucht? En waarom moet alles sowieso terugvoeren op fysieke en seksuele onzekerheden in deze zeperd? Als alleen de auto nog een beetje op de lachspieren werkt, weet je dat het goed fout is gegaan.
2: Fantastic Four
Au... De slechtste Marvelbewerking tot nu toe. Wat ging er mis? Zo te zien alles, want werkelijk niks deugt aan dit fantastische viertal. Wie dacht dat de FF in 2005 al op hun bek gingen: het kan dus nog flink veel erger. Schrap dat vervolg a.u.b.!
3: The Green Inferno
Eli Roths kannibalenfilm met wel heel weinig kannibalisme, die veel te lang de tijd neemt om de irritante hoofdpersonen richting de kookpot te sturen waar we ze het liefste zien. Daar is een woord voor: saai.
4: Knock Knock
Eli Roth (alweer) imiteert Funny Games maar dan met twee wulpse maar vervelende jongedames. Dat pakt opvallend preuts uit en wordt nooit eng of confronterend. Wel slaapverwekkend.
5: Fifty Shades of Grey
Ik besef me dat ik de doelgroep niet ben, maar ik krijg het niet warm van al dit kitscherige gedweep met zweepjes. Wat mij betreft de saaiste seksscènes van 2015 in de minst opwindende erotische thriller.
2015 werd van tevoren al geacht een jubeljaar voor de industrie te zijn met het aangekondigde overweldigende filmaanbod. Hoewel de kassa's naar verwacht behoorlijk vaak en hard rinkelden (geloof me, ik heb het gevoeld!), viel het inhoudelijk beschouwd toch een tikkeltje tegen. De hype overheerste, maar werd meestal niet echt waargemaakt. Blockbusters die alles mee leken te hebben vielen tegen (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spectre), voor elke heropgezochte klassieke reeks die onze gunst verwierf (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Mad Max) viel er een andere vies tegen (Terminator, Vacation, Fantastic Four) en het aantal verrassingen vanuit het onafhankelijke/arthousecircuit was ook niet overdadig hoog. Wat dat laatste betreft moet ik eigenlijk mijn mond houden, want als deze lijstjes iets duidelijk maken is het dat ik het dit jaar veel te mainstream heb gehouden en te weinig aandacht heb geschonken aan de rest. Uiteraard heb ik er in mijn taak als recensent wel een aantal mee kunnen pikken, maar tijdgebrek heeft mij desondanks genoopt er te veel links te laten liggen. Daarin ligt dan gelijk een goed voornemen voor 2016... Minder hype, meer de grenzen opzoeken.
zondag 20 december 2015
Year of release: 2004
-Missile Launcher with missile
Description: unlike most other original Kenner dinosaur sculpts, this Raptor stands in a very active pose, with its legs in a walking mode, left arm outstretched and right arm held back, its head raised upwards and its mouth opened. The animal takes on an attack posture and looks ready to jump on an adversary with an agitated overall look. It has seemingly every right to be agitated since its body shows numerous signs of near misses with larger carnivores: it has scratches and scars all over his body, some small and hardly noticeable, others large and plain in sight. The largest scars look like claw marks and can be found on its back, its tail and both legs. Other noteworthy signs of abuse are the end of the tail, which isn’t just bent, but looks more like the bone has been broken and caused a deformity, as well as scratches on the left eye. Also a point of interest, this figure has rather large feet to keep it from falling over (though it often does so regardless when not leaning on the left arm). Its sickle like claws are a bit small and the toe they’re on is stuck way too much towards the back of the foot. This Velociraptor has a very simple attack action which has little to do with its attack posture. When the tail is moved from side to side, the head swings along as if the animal is making snapping movements.
This Raptor sports a rather intricate paint job. Though its underside (lower jaw, throat, belly, lower part of the tail and most of the arms and legs) is simply dull white, the top parts of the figure's body are much more detailed. The dominant colour is light green, which is most notable on the back, top parts of the limbs and the tail. Darker green stripes run over this lighter shade of green: a pair of them runs from the snout over the neck and back all the way to the end of the tail on each flank of the figure. Additional dark green stripes are found on the upper arms, while on the legs they from a big 'pear' shaped form. Small black stripes in random patterns are seen on the neck, back, upper legs and front half of the tail. The various gaping wounds on the figure's legs, left eye, back and tail are coloured bright red, giving the figure a definitely bloodied look. The eyes themselves are also coloured red, with black pupils and black eye liners. The sides of the mouth are coloured black, while the inside of the mouth is pink (and seems to be missing a clearly definable tongue!), and the figure sports white teeth. The Raptor also has black claws on its hands and feet, and a white JP logo on its left upper leg.
The Dino Trooper figure wears an orange (or light brown) jacket with dark brown spots and shapes on it and revealing a grey shirt underneath, as well as silver tags around his neck and golden insignia on his chest. He also sports a black utility belt with a silver clip, dark brown trousers (with black specks mixed in) and black boots. His trousers and shirt sport some slight tears, like he’s had a conflict with an unpleasant dinosaur. He has black hair and eye brows, small green eyes and a rather grim look on his face. He stands in a very odd pose, left leg stretched forwards and right leg bracing backwards, left arm reaching up and right arm pointing down, as if he's very startled by some prehistoric monster in front of him. His missile launcher is painted in a light brown colour: it can be loaded with a red missile, which is basically a stick with a large oval shape with two round holes in it at one end. Pushing the end of the stick makes the weapon being fired, sort of.
Analysis: Another often repainted TLWS1 figure used for JP: Dinosaurs 2 is this Cyclops Raptor, which doesn't live up to that original name because both eyes seem to be working fine, despite the heavy damage inflicted on this poor dinosaur. The package calls him simply Velociraptor, but Battle Scarred Raptor would suit him better. The scratches and huge scars have been present on this sculpt since day one, but this is the first time the toy designers actually make good use of them and paint them differently to enhance the poor health status of this Raptor. It works to great effect and makes this figure stand out excellently compared to its previous incarnations. The rest of the paint job works fairly good too, thanks to the different shades of green on top of each other and the various details like the black stripes, eyes and claws. The only real downside is the undetailed underside of the figure, which just seems like it was never painted at all and remained dull factory white. This white itself conflicts with the green and causes an ugly interplay between both colours, but because of the figure's stance most of this bad colouring remains unseen, except for its use on the limbs (and on the JP logo), so it causes only a minor grievance for the paint job as a whole. This Raptor still features a wiggly head attack option. It works okay, but it seems like the tail won't move as far as before, making the action a little less effective.
The Dino Trooper looks largely unappealing compared to the Raptor's cool paint job. His paint job, though still featuring nice little details like the tags, insignia and specks on the pants making them look muddy, is overall rather boring. Unfortunately the idiotic pose he assumes has also been left unchanged, making him topple over easily. His weapon is crappy like ever: not only is the firing mechanism a real let-down, because of the missile's odd shape it's also hard to hit a target. Even a sculpts standing as unstable as the Raptor (when not leaning on its left arm) will be hard pressed to be knocked over by this missile launcher. At least the Raptor's attack action can knock over the Trooper, so it's clear who would win this fight, heavy battle scarring or not...
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the TLWS1 Cyclops Raptor, which was repainted twice before for JPD1 and as a JP III Exclusive. The Dino Trooper is a JP III Military General repaint with repainted missile launcher. The Trooper would be repainted again for JP 2009 (sans weapon), but this would be the last time this Raptor sculpt got released.
Overall rating: 7/10. This Raptor sports quite a cool and detailed paint job, finally making full use of all the scarring and wounds on this sculpt, but the figure itself is still not great. The Trooper is a not very impressive repaint of a lousy figure with a boring weapon, which does do some damage to the set's overall appeal. Like all four dino/human two-packs, this is one of the more common JPD2 releases, and it can still be found without little trouble, usually (but not always) for decent prices.
zaterdag 12 december 2015
Year of release: 2004
Description: this four legged rhinoceros like dinosaur sports a predominantly brown paint job. Most of the animal (flanks, head and neck shield, legs, tail and back) is covered in a rather shiny dark shade of brown. The paint job accentuates the various lines and grooves in the creature's skin, making it appear this figure has more 'skin texture' than it did before. On its back, legs and tail, as well as around its eyes and on the shield, there are various different shapes of light brown (almost orange). Its underside (base of the tail, throat and belly) are coloured in a similar shade of light brown which gradually changes into aforementioned darker brown. The horny features on its head (beak, three horns and stumps on the cheeks) are coloured white. Its eyes are also brown and feature orange pupils, while the creature has a pink tongue. The claws on its feet are coloured black. On its left hind leg a white JP logo can be found.
This figure stands in a relatively neutral pose, though one might also say it stands in a defensive posture with its head lowered and front legs braced for attack. The end of its tail is bent slightly to the left. The animal has an attack action: when its right hind leg is moved back, his head raises considerably upwards, as if the animal is giving a head butt with its spiky head.
The Dino Wrangler sports a white shirt with a blue bandana, as well as black pants, a brown utility belt with silver clip, black shoes and dark grey gloves. He also has dark brown hair, and lighter brown eye brows and eyes. He stands in a fairly neutral posture, except his right leg is posed in a forward move as if taking a step, and his left arm is raised upwards a little. He comes with a grappling hook weapon,basically a large hand held contraption which ends in two comparatively small claws than can hook around dinosaur body parts. The claws are operated by a handle on its top side. It has a slightly shiny light brown colour, giving it a metallic look.
Analysis: another old TLWS1 toy that returned to stores with JP: Dinosaurs 2 is this fairly small Triceratops figure. It sports a rather conventional Ceratopsian paint job, brown with some more brown mixed in. Like with its previous incarnations, little has been done with the great paint scheme opportunities its neck shield offers. A shame, but the new and improved skin texture feel it looks more detailed than before, though that may only be an illusion. It makes the simple brown paint job stand out on its own to a higher degree though. At least some of the real details, like the claws on its feet and its tongue, have not been omitted, though the eyes would have benefited from a different colour, since now they're hardly noticeable at all. The white JP logo is a bit of a nuisance, but it's likely a darker coloured logo would not have registered much. The figure comes with the same typical Triceratops head butting action as before. It still works okay, though this time there's no capture gear involved. But its attack option is certainly sufficient enough to knock its human companion over.
Meanwhile, that poor Dino Wrangler is armed with one of the lamest and least effective weapons ever devised for a JP figure. The capture claw weapon never worked well on hatchlings even, and it certainly doesn't stop a rampaging Trike, even a smaller specimen like this one. At best, it can be clutched around one leg but there the “wrangling” stops. The Dino Wrangler, formerly known as Alan Grant for the JP III line, himself also doesn't help this set much with his rather dull paint job, which is basically just black and white. Using one of the smaller scale Hasbro human figures for this already small Kenner Triceratops figure does make the dinosaur appear bigger, more impressive than it is compared to this human. But otherwise, this is not much of a successful pairing.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the TLWS1 Triceratops, which was repainted twice before for JPD1 and as a JP III Exclusive. The Dino Wrangler is a JP III Alan Grant repaint with repainted grappling claw. The Trooper would be repainted again for JP 2009 (including his weapon), but this would be the last time this Triceratops figure got released.
Overall rating: 6/10. This Triceratops features a solid and detailed paint job, but the figure itself is still so-so. The Wrangler is still a half decent figure with a simplified paint job and a terribly lousy weapon, which doesn't help the set much. Like all four dino/human two-packs, this is one of the more common JPD2 releases, and it can still be found without too much effort, usually for fairly low prices.
woensdag 2 december 2015
Year of release: 2004
Description: this Tyrannosaurus has long slender legs, tiny teeth and a small head compared to adult Rexes, which is caused by the fact is was originally designed to be a juvenile figure. It does have the odd little two fingered arms seen on larger Rexes though. This figure stands in a neutral pose except for its tail, which is bent to the left somewhat. Its lower right leg hangs a little loose (though still attached) and can be twisted around, as if it’s broken or damaged in some way. The leg cast can be applied to the leg by sticking the pin on its inside in the little hole in the figure’s upper right leg. That way the twisted leg will “switch” back and the animal’s leg is healed; at least, that's the general idea. The Rex’s mouth can also be opened and closed. This animal comes with one piece of capture gear which can cover its head, like a muzzle. It’s coloured shiny metallic grey, as is the leg cast.
The Rex itself sports a rather blue look. Except for its underside (throat, belly and lower parts of the tail), which are painted greyish white, and a thick black stripe running from the back of the head over the neck and back all the way to the tip of the tail (and being thickest in the middle where it also runs over the top of both legs), this animal is all light blue, most notably on the head, flanks and limbs. The little Rex is adorned with various grey stripes: these are found on the flanks (two on each flank), the upper legs (three each) and the back (two stripes running from the back of the head to about half way of the tail). The claws on both hands and feet are painted black, while the ridges on these limbs are also black. The eye socket is black as well and harbours red eyes with cat like black pupils. The figure has white teeth. A white JP logo is found on the right upper leg.
The Dino Tracker wears a white sleeveless shirt, green trousers with tears on them, and black shoes. He has blond hair, blond eye brows and very bright blue eyes. He has some asymmetric details, including belts around his torso, wristband (right arm), glove (left arm), shoulder patch (left arm) and a backpack with a hole in it so the glider can be attached to the figure: all this detailing is coloured dark brown. Most notably, his left arm can move differently from the average human figure, not only forward and backward, but also up and down. The figure stands in an odd position with its legs wide apart and appears to be looking down. The glider is coloured dark red with silver highlights. It basically resembles a red triangle. The Tracker can carry it on his back, so it appears he's hanging onto it.
Analysis: the second JP: Dinosaurs line saw the unusual move on Hasbro's part of pairing its human figures from their JP III line with dinosaur figures from the old Kenner lines. This of course spawned some incompatibility issues, since the style of the human figures differs so much from the style used for the dinosaurs. This T-Rex with Dino Tracker set is a prime example of this: the Rex is the old TLWS1 baby T-Rex repainted, but compared to the Tracker it's hardly a baby at all (which is why there's no 'baby', 'junior' or 'young' in the set's title on the package. However, the figure retains its juvenile attributes (long legs, skinny body and overall cute look) which doesn't make it a very successful T-Rex choice for this set. Also, why would the Dino Tracker come with a hang glider when it's primordial companion is a land locked creature? Is he like the Jurassic Park equivalent of the Flying Doctors, scouting things out from the air looking for injured animals? A Pterosaur figure would have seemed a more obvious choice here, or a different human figure.
Aside from these issues, this set features decent repaints. The Young T-Rex (that's what it really is after all!) has been given a very interesting and imaginative new paint job, much different from any Rex paint job seen before. Blue hasn't been used all too often for JP dinosaur figures anyway, making this figure stand out amongst its fellow Kenner figures. It's also fairly detailed: claws have been painted, while eye sockets, fingers and toes have not been forgotten. The stripes on its body also add some diversity to this paint job. The only nuisance is the white JP logo which looks hideously out of place. Apart from the paint job, there's nothing new to this figure. It's still the same good old Junior T-Rex with its previous pros and cons.
The Dino Tracker is less of a success. It's nice to see him as a blonde this time around, but the white shirt looks ugly. The green pants, with the scratches and the various shades of green mixed in so it looks more detailed, make up for it somewhat. It's a good thing the alternatively poseable arm has been retained, since this feature makes the figure unique among JP human figures. Unfortunately, the figure stands in the same odd pose as before, which makes it look silly when it's attached to the glider. The glider itself sports a rather boring paint job, also very similar to its previous incarnation. It wasn't until JP 2009 until a Hasbro designer had some fun with it and made it look much more different, as well as way cooler.
All in all, it's clearly the T-Rex is the main draw of this set. The Tracker has some minor redeeming features but is little more than an accessory. Luckily the Rex has a rather small mouth and isn't in pristine physical condition so his human counterpart won't get chewed on too much... At least he can take to the air for refuge.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the TLWS1 Junior T-Rex, with repainted accessories from that same figure. It was repainted twice before for JPD1. The Dino Tracker is a JP III Billy Brennan repaint with repainted glider, a first time repaint. Brennan would be repainted again (with glider) for JP 2009, but this would be the last time this T-Rex figure got released.
Overall rating: 7/10. This Young T-Rex sports a rather original, appealing and detailed paint job and remains one of the most movie accurate sculpts. The Tracker is a half decent repaint of an imperfect figure with an unimaginatively painted glider. Like all four dino/human 2-packs, this is one of the more common JPD2 releases, and it can still be found without too much difficulty, though these days prices tend to vary.
maandag 30 november 2015
Year of release: 2004
-Rocket Launcher with rocket
Description: this four legged creature doesn’t look much unlike modern day monitor lizards or iguanas, except for the large “sail” on its back. Dimetrodon also features two pairs of tiny legs (almost dragging its belly over the ground), a “segmented” tail and a big boxy head. It comes with a biting action feature: pushing its left hind leg back makes the jaws open wide, while releasing them makes them close with a powerful snap. The figure measures some 15 centimetres in length and 8 centimetres in height. It stands in a walking posture, with its left hind leg and right front leg posed backward and the other legs posed in a forward move.
The prehistoric critter has a mostly light blue paint job. Aside from its underside (throat, belly, lower part of the tail and inward parts of the legs), which is painted beige, blue can be found all over its body, most noticeably on the sail, legs and flanks. The neck, back and upper part of the tail are darker in tone, and appear more greenish than the rest of the body. A thin green stripe runs from the eye socket to half way the flanks on either side of the body, while similar red stripes run from the neck to the base of the hind legs. On its back, on either side of the sail, a thin black line is found. The sail itself is all blue, with vague green and red stripes mixed in. The figure has very small red eyes, white teeth, a pink tongue and a black JP logo on its right hind leg.
The Diver wears an all black suit, including black flippers, with an orange vest over it, as well as several green belts and silver highlights. On his right leg he wears an orange knife holder with a knife in it (non removable). On his left upper arm an American flag (no stars, just stripes) is found, so this guy is undoubtedly part of the US military. His face is partially covered with breathing equipment (silver with orange filters), though he’s got nothing covering his eyes (brown eyes with brown eye brows). He’s got a black air tank with more silver detailing on his back. He shows signs of a dinosaur attack on his left leg and right arm, revealing skin. His weapon appears to be some sort of missile launcher. It’s coloured in a slightly metallic light brown paint job, with a yellow missile sticking out of it on both sides. Pushing the end of the missile sort of launches it, though it doesn’t work very well.
Analysis: Of all the old JPS1 figures, who would have thought it would be the non canonical (as in, not in the films or novels) Dimetrodon figure that would make it all the way to JP: Dinosaurs 2? And it's not even a dinosaur! This classic Synapsid sculpt remains unchanged and still has a rather nasty bite in its jaws. It's gotten yet another fairly appealing paint job, this time using mostly blue instead of green. It suits him well and gives him a sort of tropical, jungle look. The various differently coloured small lines give him a distinct look, but the sail could have been used more imaginatively, maybe coloured in another style and colour to set it apart from its body more. Also, details have been omitted: the claws have not been painted, and neither has the inside of the mouth. The eyes appear almost totally non existent, they're so small. Overall, it's a unique colour scheme all its own though, which can't be said for the Diver.
The Diver was probably paired with this creature because it had a sail and Hasbro designers therefore thought it to be aquatic. At least human/beast size relations are more or less accurate in this set, which is not the case for the other dino/human two-packs of this line. The diver features the same paint scheme as before, though some of the colours have been replaced with other, but similar, colouration. The figure is still fairly detailed for human figure standards, but not surprisingly so. Unfortunately the Diver carries the same weapon as before, a rather ugly and bulky rocket launcher with a rocket that is launched by pushing it out of the weapon instead of pressing a button. It was a lame system then and is still lame now, while it retains zero impact. If it even hits the target at all, it has no effect: the Dimetrodon is much too steady on its feet and too heavy to be knocked over by the projectile. However, the Diver's limbs look rather tasty for the creature's big mouth to chomp on... Clearly, the Dimetrodon wins the day in a fight in any way, as it is also the best part of this set.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the JPS1 Dimetrodon, a figure which had been repainted before for JPD1. The Military Diver is a repaint of the JP III figure of the same name, with repainted accessories. The Diver and his gun would be repainted again for JP 2009, but this would be the last time the Dimetrodon figure (or any JPS1 repaint for that matter) got a release.
Overall rating: 6/10. This is an okay set of repaints. The Dimetrodon has a vastly different paint job than before and still looks good and bites hard; the Diver is less interesting and his paint job is not all that different from before, while his rocket launcher still sucks. Like all four dino/human two-packs, this is one of the more common JPD2 releases, and it can still be found without too much effort.
woensdag 25 november 2015
This week's third and final review:
Virgin Mountain - recensie
Best of the three for sure. A laugh and a tear. A light drama with ample humour. But not a movie with a very innovative or inspired plot. Save for the ending which does break with the traditions of this type of film. Solitary fat man, a disappointment to his mother and the butt of jokes to his coworkers, lightens up when meeting a charming woman. Despite her mental problems, they are obviously made for each other. You get the gist of things.
It's not the plot that makes it a decent watch, it's the acting for one. Icelandic force of nature Gunnar Jonsson is literally made for this movie (or rather, the movie was tailored around him) and it shows. For another thing, it's the fine balance between being a funny piece and being a heavy drama that director Dagur Kari carefully treads, without slipping to one side to such an extent that it hurts the film as a whole. That's a tough call for a film like this, especially considering, again, the ending, which likely isn't what people would want to see, but feels like it fits regardless. And thus, Virgin Mountain gets away with it admirably.
dinsdag 24 november 2015
Year of release: 1999
-Dino Damage skin piece
-Three pieces of capture gear
-Bow with two Arrows
Description: this repainted Young T-Rex figure is a recast of its JPS1 counterpart, comprised of much harder and less flexible material than its predecessor. At first glance it looks like an otherwise unchanged sculpt though. It stands in the same fully neutral posture, and still includes dino damage: on its right flank a piece of skin can be removed, revealing a dino damage wound underneath, showing white ribs and red muscle tissue. The wound patch itself is largely symmetrical in shape. The Rex’s small two fingered arms are its only poseable body parts.
The Tyrannosaur's paint job also looks a lot like the one from the original figure. Except for the underside (throat, belly, lowest part of the tail) which is painted white, the whole figure is coloured light brown. It features various shapes of dark grey surrounded by beige edges on various parts of its body, most notably on the tail and upper legs. Additional grey and beige stripes are found on the creature's neck and torso, while spots of both colours are located on its head. The figure has black eye sockets with white eyes (and black pupils), while the inside of the mouth, including the tongue, is painted red and sports white teeth. The claws on both hands and feet are black; it has a line of dark spots running down over each toe (so three lines on each foot). On its left upper leg, the figure is marked with a black JP logo, along with the number .22 and a small Site B logo. This is very odd, since none of the other JPD1 dinosaur figures carry these extra markings: the Site B logo was only reserved for TLW figures, and the numerical system for the Kenner system already had the JPS2 Utahraptor marked as .22.
Three pieces of capture gear come with the T-Rex. There's the required tag, which comes with many dinosaur figures and is quite big in this case: it fits well around the creature's neck. It also comes with a leg restraint, which can hold on to both legs simultaneously. Lastly, there is a big muzzle which can go around the figure's jaws, effectively disabling them, while also covering the eyes, so the Rex can't see what's going on. All three pieces are coloured in the same shiny metallic grey paint job.
The Dino Hunter stands in a somewhat unusual pose, with his left arm held back and his right arm held close to his chest. The position of the arms facilitates him holding his bow. His left leg is posed in a forward move and his right leg backwards, as if bracing himself while using his weapon. He wears a brown jacket with golden “armour” like highlights on his arms and chest. On his left upper arm he sports a JP T-Rex badge (the black Rex skull and arms in a yellow circle, most famously being part of the classic JP logo). Additionally, he wears green trousers, adorned with a brown gun holster on his right hip and a grey knife holster with a brown knife handle sticking out on his left lower leg. He has black boots, and wears a tan cowboy hat with a green band on top and the right flap turned upwards, revealing a second JP T-Rex logo. He has brown hair, ending in a short pony tail, brown eyebrows and black eyes, and carries a rather smug facial expression.
This Hunter comes with a bow and two arrows as his main action feature. The bow is a triangular, mechanical looking weapon (not the old-fashioned Robin Hood style wooden bow) with some protrusions sticking out, most notably a large tip up front and a rectangular plate right under this, sporting a handle on the left side so the hunter can hold it, and a little hole to “load” an arrow on the right side. A long transparent wire is used to launch arrows with: this wire runs over the bow in such a fashion that it appears there's actually three wires instead of one. The bow sports a silver paint job. Two different arrows come with it, a long one with a cone shaped tip and a shorter arrow with a flatter tip. Both arrows are metallic grey in colour and have a tiny incision at their ends so they can be loaded in the bow by sticking them through the small hole and pressing the incision around one of the strings. Pulling the string backwards thus launches the arrow. The figure also comes with a small black backpack for storing the arrows when not used. It's basically a hollow basket with straps on it so he can carry it on his back.
Analysis: not only smaller classic dinosaur figures return for the first JP: Dinosaur toy line, it also witnesses the return of the dinosaur prince, the former Young T-Rex from the very first Jurassic Park line (though the 'young' part is left out this time, but it's still not the size of a fully grown T-Rex). The creature appears very similar to its iconic forefather, but things are not what they seem... This is not merely a repaint, it's actually a recast. The old flexible 'real feel' dino skin has been replaced with stronger and harder material. Unfortunately, this was a bad decision on the designers' part, since it mostly kills the 'crunching' action mentioned on its box, as well as the dino damage option. Pressing the neck to make the jaws open just doesn't work any more; in fact, the jaws can't really be opened much at all. It even has trouble clutching the Dino Hunter between its jaws. So there goes this dinosaur's only attack option... Which leaves us with its most vulnerable point, the dino damage wound. The wound piece is still there, in the same spot as before. However, because of the new material the figure is made of, it's very hard to remove the wound cover, and even harder to put it back. Remember the difficulties with removing the TLWS1 Pachycephalosaurus' wound piece? Same thing here, but even worse! This sadly doesn't leave the T-Rex with much, except for being a decently sized good looking figure.
The paint job is also very similar to the one used on the old JPS1 Young T-Rex, which was also coloured light brown with a white underside and grey stripes and shapes on its back, but the additional beige colourations are new. Details like the inside of the mouth and the claws are not forgotten, while extra features like black eye sockets and spotted toes enhance it further. Still, it's not the best of paint jobs. It seems overly festive but dull at the same time, like confetti with all the happy bright colours removed. Overall, changes have been made to this T-Rex that shouldn't have been made, and the set suffers from it.
That leaves the Dino Hunter to clean up the mess a bit. Former Sgt. T-Rex Turner (this time actually paired with a T-Rex!) has been demoted to random 'dino hunter', but at least his paint job doesn't look the worse from it. His new colour scheme actually is a nice change from his rather dull original paint job. The position of his arms is still a bit of a nuisance, but works well in combination with his bow and arrows. This weapon works as it did before: it takes some practice but it can actually launch arrows, though these would do little damage to the Tyrannosaurus (though as we have established above, Rex won't bite back much any more). The backpack still comes in handy for storing unused arrows. This figure may not be the most likely dino tracker to pair up with the T-Rex, but it's nice to see an actually complete JPS2 figure return for a change, instead of just Jaws Jackson's head stuck on a TLW figure.
Repaint: yes. This is a repainted recast of the original JPS1 Young T-Rex (already repainted for JPS2 and as a TLW Exclusive), with repainted (and also recast) dino damage, and capture gear first seen on its JPS2 counterpart. The Dino Hunter is a JPS2 Sgt. T-Rex Turner repaint, with accessories from that same figure. Both figures would not be repainted again.
Overall rating: 6/10. Though this Tyrannosaurus is still a good figure, its paint job is nothing special and the new material it's composed of effectively kills both the biting action and the ease with which the dino damage could previously be applied. The rest of the set is okay, though also not particularly appealing, but at least not with butchered action features. This set is not the easiest find of this toy line, especially in MIB or complete condition. It could take a while to track it down, plus a fair amount of cash to acquire it. You might very well find it to be unworthy of the effort.
zondag 22 november 2015
Second review for FilmTotaal released this week (but penned last month):
The Program - recensie
Whoever considers this 'the Lance Armstrong' film is wrong, despite it being the only non documentary feature film about the former sports legend thus far. Thing is, at its core it's not about the seven-time Tour de France winner. It's about the journalist who exposed him after years of persistent digging. It's even based on the guy's book. So naturally, Armstrong isn't depicted in a flattering way and that's putting it mildly. The infamous cyclist is portrayed as an absolutely single minded, appalingly arrogant fraud throughout the piece, with little to no redeeming character qualities. Simply said, a total dick. Now, of course nobody will deny that aspect of his character exists. But it can't have been all he ever was/is. After all, he became an inspiration for millions. With the solely negative traits he's endowed with in this film, it's not likely he would ever have been that widely admired. But to the brave, heroic journalist who risked his career and maybe even his life to bring the man down, Armstrong was utterly evil. So that's the Armstrong we get on screen. An Armstrong devoid of nuances, a character from somebody else's pages rather than his own book of life. Which rules The Program out as the biopic it claims to be. But then, history is written by the victors. Which Armstrong himself ultimately didn't rightly turn out to be.
More was to be expected from director Stephen Frears. His previous work showed him most interested in the human side of things, the choices and thoughts that make people who they are, rather than who they seem to be to the rest of the world. The Queen is the best example, where he showed the Queen of England to be just as limited a human being as the rest of us, and therefore a relatable character. The same doesn't hold true for Lance Armstrong, who is portrayed far too one sided and excessively obsessed a character to feel really real. Good performances not withstanding, since Ben Foster does an intense job at playing the star cyclist. Perhaps too much so, going over that top rather than staying right under it. Of course, Chris O'Dowd gives less of a notable performance, thus making him feel more real in the role of the intrepid reporter, which also makes him feel more human than his antagonist, as is the film's intention. And when you say O'Dowd, comedy is the first thing that springs to mind. The Program often feels like it is just that, especially in its first half. After all, we shouldn't take one of the greatest frauds ever too seriously, the film suggests. Too bad, I would have loved to have seen a movie that explains just why Armstrong did the things he did, rather than this film which only shows what those things were (which we basically already knew), rather than their motivations. But why would we need to know why a total dick does what a total dick does, right?
zaterdag 21 november 2015
Reviewing for FilmTotaal continues:
A Family Affair - recensie
This was one boring watch. I had a tough time sitting this one out. I can't imagine why this would be the opening documentary for the IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam). It was just stale in every way. Stilistically it was a dud, mostly consisting of archive footage and talking heads. Worse thing, I couldn't care less about the topic. Grandmother is a cold hearted bitch and the whole family hates her. So of course the director, her grandson, would want to know why. But that is exactly what we just can't put our finger on. It's just the way it is. Bringing her back from South Africa to confront the rest of the family is a bad idea for everybody. It's not helping anyone discovering new perspectives, it just confirms that grandma doesn't care and nobody cares about grandma. Even the director is eventually antagonized by her ongoing manipulations. Which get particularly awkward when she declares she's in love with him. Yeah, right...
A Family Affair's biggest problem is its subject just proves wholly annoying. This is one mean old woman. Not someone you want to watch for the better part of two hours. I did, and I didn't enjoy it. As far as I'm concerned, this affair had better be left to the family itself. Why bother audiences with it? Especially in theaters, when it lacks the punch to be big screen material. This sort of documentary is usually seen late at night on public television. Or on documentary festivals for a one time screening. But not as an opening feature for the world's most prestigious documentary festival.
vrijdag 13 november 2015
Year of release: 1999
-Dino Damage skin piece
-Four pieces of capture gear
Description: as is usual for Stegosaurs, the most noticeable thing about this creature is the double row of plates running from its neck to halfway over the tail. In total, this sculpt carries 22 plates (one of them on the dino damage piece), all varying in size. Additionally, at the end of its tail there are the four spikes Stegosaurus uses to defend itself with. These spikes are also the main ingredient of the action feature this sculpt is equipped with. Pressing the two back plates behind the dino damage piece together causes the tail to swing around, giving this beast the opportunity to knock figures down. This mechanism works fairly well, though it gets damaged easily. This animal's dino damage piece is located right above the right front leg: removing this piece reveals white ribs, a shoulder bone and red muscle tissue.
The Stegosaurus assumes a sort of walking posture, its left hind leg in a forward move and its right hind leg moved backward. Its front legs are neutrally positioned though. His head is posed to the right, as if the animal is looking down at something. Green is the predominant colour of this figure’s paint job. The entire upper part of its body (upper part of the tail, back, neck, top part of the hind legs, upper part of the head) is painted dark green, including all the plates, though the larger ones on its back (not on its tail, since the figure’s tail section is composed of a different material to facilitate the attack action) are toned even darker green. The creature’s flanks, sides of the tail and head and most of the legs sport a much lighter shade of green, while its underside (belly, throat, lower jaw, lower part of the tail, inner part of the legs) is coloured bright beige. The spikes on the end of the tail are painted dark green at the base, which gradually changes into beige too. The Stegosaurus has very small yellow eyes (with black pupils and white irises), and a black JP logo on its lower right hind leg. The small claws on its elephant like legs are not painted in a different colour.
This figure comes with four pieces of capture gear, which can be assembled together to form a hind leg and tail restraint. It basically shackles the legs, which via a wire are connected to what can best be described as a box that goes around the tail, keeping the animal from using its spikes. This also makes the tail attack option a dinosaur-breaks-free-of-capture-gear action: pressing the plates together makes the Stegosaurus whip its tail, break free of the box and smash it in two. It doesn’t get rid of the shackles though. All pieces of capture gear sport the same shiny silver metallic paint job.
The Dino Hunter stands in a largely neutral pose, except for his right leg which is moved slightly forwards. He sports an almost military outfit, namely a light blue shirt with a black vest and dark blue straps over it, as well as light brown gloves, dark blue pants with light blue stripes in an asymmetrical pattern suggesting camouflage on them, and black boots. He also has a pair of black sunglasses on. He has a stone cold facial expression and brown Elvis like hair. He’s got some detailing on his pants, though it’s hardly noticeable because it’s coloured in the same blue as the pants themselves: on his left leg he’s got one pocket, while on his right leg he has a knife as well as some damage to his pants, indicating he’s had a close call with a hungry carnivore.
Analysis: the only other larger dinosaur figure of the first JP: Dinosaurs line is brought to you from the TLWS1 line instead of the original JP toy line. It's the Stegosaurus, and boy, did they do little with this figure! The sculpt itself remains unchanged, which is for the best compared to the Tyrannosaurus JPD1 brings us, which was recast so badly it had no action features to speak off left. Stegosaurus fares better in this regard: both the whipping tail action and Dino-Damage (Trade Marked, according to the box) wound work as well as they did before (which in the latter's case means it keeps falling off on its own accord). The paint job is very similar to the one seen before, but with different hues of green being used. Unfortunately, the green we had was fine, while these other greens are kinda ugly together. It also lacks painted details, like the big nails on its feet and such, but this is of course common for this line (though at least the T-Rex got more than its fair share of detailing). It would have been nice to see a Stegosaurus coloured something other than green for a change (this is the third time in a row!), but apparently the toy designers can't come up with different colour schemes for this species. A shame, but not a loss we can't overcome. The animal comes with the same capture gear as before, which still does what it's supposed to do: either contain the animal's tail or be destroyed by it, your choice.
The Dinosaur Hunter has undergone a small change compared to its original sculpt: he has had a head transplant. This does give us some variety, considering we already saw both the head and the body before in this toy line. Fortunately they go well together. The figure's paint scheme remains the same, but this time blue is used instead of grey. An interesting choice of colours, but not different enough to make it stand out next to the original figure, unlike the other Ajay body repaint from this line. Sadly, this figure does not come with a set of weaponry, so he can only hope the Stegosaurus' capture gear will keep the beast in line. Wishful thinking...
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the TLWS1 Stegosaurus figure, with repainted dino damage and the same capture gear as its TLW predecessor. The Dinosaur Hunter is a TLWS2 Ajay repaint, with a repainted head sculpt from TLWS1 Peter Ludlow. Both figures would not be repainted again.
Overall rating: 6/10. This Stegosaur's paint job is not as appealing as before, but not a complete atrocity either, and it's still a very nice sculpt regardless. The same thing basically goes for the Dino Hunter, though it's a shame he doesn't come with any weaponry like the other human figures of this line. This set is not the easiest find of this toy line, especially in MIB or complete condition. It could take quite some time to track it down, plus a decent amount of money to get your hands on it.
zaterdag 7 november 2015
Second review for FilmTotaal is up:
The Green Inferno - recensie
Another dud. Granted, a cannibal movie isn't for most audiences to begin with. The number of people with a morbid interest in seeing one human being graphically killed and devoured by another isn't particularly big. Of course, horror afficionados are the target audience here, but they too won't like what they see. For a movie that claims to want a return to the gore and social commentary of the Italian cannibal movies of the Seventies and Eighties, there simply isn't a lot of cannibalism in The Green Inferno. Number of people brutally murdered, cut to pieces and ingested, spoilers!: just one. A good fifty minutes into the film, which only lasts just over ninety to begin with.
But at least it's a particularly gory death that feels indeed strongly reminiscent to those old movies this movie is inspired by, like the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. Unlike most other deaths in the film, which are generally caused by arrows shot through the neck. But what of the social commentary on the appetite of the mass media, which also formed a strong ingredient back in the old days of cannibal gonzo? Problem is, the movies of the present day simply aren't as bloodthirsty as those in the early Eighties (unlike television, but that's another matter entirely). Sure, there's still plenty of gore in horror movies, but as graphic as the original cannibal movies? Not to mention acts of genuine animal cruelty are (fortunately!) outlawed today. So in The Green Inferno it's social media that is critiqued, rather than the violence in fellow contemporary movies and the audience's desire for ever more murderous thrills. The use of mobile phones and live streaming employed by naive activists that think their actions can actually change anything in the Third World where corrupt government officials and big corporations break their own laws for profit every day, backed by private militias. Activism via social media is no good in such scenarios, says director Eli Roth. Such comments on the use and abuse of the media are as far as The Green Inferno goes, before Roth finds it necessary to take a stand against female genital mutilation. A noble endeavour, but considering such acts are hardly practized in the Amazon rainforest, it feels awkwardly out of place, just an added sensational bodily horror show detracting from the actual cannibalism. As if eating people isn't horrific enough.
It certainly isn't in The Green Inferno. This is not a cannibal movie like its predecessors, it's a mixed bag that just happens to have a few acts of cannibalism in it. And it's a boring bag at that, with annoying cardboard characters you want to see chopped to bits but which you are denied to see die those expected brutal deaths (except for that one guy). Horror fans will be bored, while the rest of the audience won't bother anyway. If Roth thinks cannibal movies will return thanks to this flick, he's mistaken, his less than subtle hint at a sequel notwithstanding. Considering the movie had a hard time finding distributors and was shelved for the better part of two years before its release, tells you cannibal films are likely a thing of the past, and probably for the better.
vrijdag 30 oktober 2015
Year of release: 1999
-Three pieces of capture gear
Description: the electronic Raptor of the first JP Dinosaurs line sports a wholly different paint job than the regular Raptor figures of this series. Its back, topside of the tail, neck and upper part of the head are painted dark brown. This colour is also found on the sides of both upper legs. Triangular shapes run out of this colour over the rest of the body. The flanks, sides of the tail, rest of the legs, arms and most of the head are coloured dark yellow. The belly, throat and lowest part of the tail are painted beige. The creature has grey claws on both hands and feet, including the infamous sickle shaped claws on the feet. It has light yellow eyes with cat like black pupils, white teeth and a red tongue. The edges and inside of the mouth are also coloured red. On its left upper leg the figure sports a black JP logo.
This Raptor stands in a fully neutral pose, with its long tail slightly tilted up. It has a more robust look to it compared with the regular Velociraptors of this line and has a bigger, rounded head. Its mouth is opened and can’t be closed. Unlike with most other Raptor figures the claws on its hands are turned inward as if the beast is holding something. This was most likely done to make the creature look more menacing when the attack action is activated, and to help them grab other figures. Pulling the creature’s legs back (or pulling only one leg back, as the legs are interconnected) makes the arms move away from each other as if the Raptor is preparing to strike. Releasing the legs causes the arms to revert to their original position like the critter is clutching some prey between them. Activating this strike action also causes a loud attack scream to be heard.
This Raptor comes with three different pieces of capture gear. There's the typical cuff like tag with the JP logo on it, as well as an arm piece that can hold both arms together. The big third piece can fit over the Raptor's back. All three pieces are painted shiny metallic grey.
Analysis: this line doesn't only return old and familiar regular dinosaur faces from the classic days, but also some electronic ones, including this repaint of the often fondly remembered JPS1 Electronic Velociraptor. The sculpt has not been changed and comes with the same effective attack option as before, trapping unfortunate human figures between its arms, while producing a terrifying strike shriek. This sound has been greatly improved and is now very noisy, adding to the figure's overall intimidating feel. It's much louder than even the JPS2 Utahraptor sound, which was the same shriek but didn't sound loud enough to come over as really frightening despite that figure being a huge awe-inspiring Raptor. This JPD1 figure basically tells us what the Utahraptor's shriek should have sounded like.
The paint job of this electronic Velociraptor copies the paint scheme of its predecessor but uses harder colour contrast making the used colours stand out more. It's not a very original paint job (in fact, it's largely identical to the one featured on the regular JPD1 Wave 1 Raptor figure, which does add some consistency to this toy line), nor are the used colours very appealing together. Details, however, have not been omitted. Painting both the inside of the mouth as well as the edges around it is new for this line and a definite nice touch. The eyes could have used a different colour than yellow though, since the rest of the face is mostly the same colour, so they don't stand out much.
Unlike the original JPS1 Electronic Raptor, this figure comes with capture gear. None of the three pieces were designed for it of course, but at least they fit. The arm piece works pretty well, and even provides some dinosaur-breaks-free-of-restraints action. Pulling the legs back causes the arms to separate, which often (not always in one take) makes the arm piece detach as well. The tag is just the standard little nuisance, the sort of thing people keep misplacing, severely annoying collectors who try to get the figure complete when in loose condition, all the while not having any real function but to tell folks this is a JP figure, which of course anybody can see by the JP logo on the figure's left leg. The big back piece is an odd addition to the set. Though it fits, it doesn't really restrain anything. Originally a head piece was attached to it, but that didn't fit on this Raptor so they discarded that. Now it just sits there on the figure's back, feeling (and being) out of place.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the old JPS1 Electronic Velociraptor, with repainted (and in the back piece's case, slightly retooled) capture gear from the TLWS1 small Pachycephalosaurus and TLWS2 Ornithosuchus figures, as well as the typical tag found on many dinosaur figures from various JP toy lines. The figure would not be repainted again.
Overall rating: 6/10. It's still a decent Raptor sculpt with excellently enhanced sound FX, but the paint job and capture gear aren't the best around. This is probably the most common electronic dinosaur figure from this line, but still not necessarily an easy find, especially MIB or complete.
woensdag 21 oktober 2015
Here's my first review for FilmTotaal. Same business, different employee.
The first Flemish Sinterklaas movie is definitely modeled after the Dutch formula. Which is not surprising, since until so far, the Flemish kids had to make do with the myriad of Dutch Sinterklaas titles. And those proved succesful enough to finally convince Belgian producers to develop a Sinterklaas product of their own. And since only one Dutch Sint movie is produced this year - usually it's two, sometimes even more - why not return the favour and release it in Holland? They need not have bothered. Not that Ramon en het Paard van Sinterklaas is particularly bad (though it's certainly not a good family film that wins the hearts of all family members, as it's really only fun for kids), but it doesn't add anything to the slate of Dutch movies covering the topic, other than certain long running characters in Sint's Flemish entourage that the Dutch kids aren't at all familiar with. And most of them aren't so much fun to watch they'll stick in kids' minds for very long.
Aside from that, the film feels very much like its Dutch counterparts. Sint and co. are preparing for their trip up north, something goes awry - in this case, Sint's horse and its attendant are kidnapped - but all ends well and the festivities can procede as they always do, full of mirth and merriment. Add to that a cast of supporting characters (but no children, interestingly enough) to spice things up a bit and you have a thirteen-a-dozen Sinterklaas flick. In Holland, it's good to keep the kids occupied for a good 90 minutes. However, there's so many side characters in this film, that it ends up nigh two hours in length. Too long for the parents, and as it turned out at the press screening where the target audience was represented as well, also quite a challenge for the kids to sit through without getting overly restless. So there at least is a difference with the Dutch method: the Flemish take their time. Other than that, if it wasn't for the accents and the presence of Antwerp, you'd hardly think you were watching a foreign Sinterklaas picture. I would have preferred something more distinct from the Dutch takes on the subject.
The big question on most parents' minds of course is: how are the Belgians portraying Zwarte Piet? It's a white guy in make-up, the blackness explicitly stated to be the result of crawling up and down chineys, just as he was always supposed to be. Good approach. However, thicker layers of soot might have been applied, since this particular Piet (and there's only one of him here) obviously hadn't seen a chimney for months. Which might as well be true, as I doubt he's doing much chimney diving at home in Spain. Nevertheless, when you call a well established character Zwarte Piet and the first reponse he gets from a child is 'is that Zwarte Piet?' because there's so little black on him, you know you're confusing kids needlessly. I'll say no more on the matter than that I applaud the Belgian intentions but their execution still leaves room for unnecessary debate.
maandag 19 oktober 2015
Year of release: 1999
Description: this medium sized bipedal carnivore sports an elaborate paint job, though brown is the dominant colour, as it is found on the arms, most of the legs, underside of the tail, belly, most of the flanks, throat and most of the head of the figure. A dark green paint job covers the top of the head, neck, very upper part of the legs, topside of the tail and back of the creature, which runs out over the flanks, neck and tail in rounded shapes. Additional green spots are found on the animal’s head, flanks, upper legs and sides of the tail. The same shade of green adorns the otherwise mostly yellow sail in three stripes as well as three rows of tiny spots on each side of the sail. In between the brown and green colouring on the creature's body, a vague line of beige is located, running from the snout to the tip of the tail, though occasionally being interrupted by larger green shapes running out of the colouring on its back. A black JP logo is found on the left leg. The claws on the feet are painted white, but those on the hands are not coloured in a different paint job. The Spinosaurus has beige eyes with black pupils, small white teeth and the inside of the mouth, including the tongue, is coloured pink.
The creature assumes a walking stance, with the right leg posed in a backward move. This position causes problems: the sculpt can’t easily stand on its own accord (despite its large flat feet) and quite often must lean on something to stand up (though this tends to differ for each specimen: some have it worse than others). This dinosaur features an attack action: pull the left arm down so the mouth will open, revealing a snake like split tongue, as well as a not very impressive set of teeth. This also produces a roar, which is relatively high pitched, at least more than you might expect of a fair sized predator like this.
Analysis: the TLW line got some of its electronic dinosaurs repainted too, starting with this Spinosaurus figure. It was never the most successful TLW sculpt, though it was an interesting take on this species before JP III came along. The sculpt remains unchanged, meaning it still has balance issues and a rather unappealing and uninspired biting feature (in fact, identical to the one of the Electronic Dilophosaurus already repainted for this line). The sound is not as much improved as those of the JPS1 electronic repaints of JPD1, but still loud enough to make some impression. Unlike the Wave 1 electronic dinosaur figures, this dinosaur does not come with any capture gear, probably because it's already a bigger sculpt than its Wave 1 counterparts, so cost wise it didn't warrant any. As for size, it seems the reason the electronic Velociraptor and Parasaurolophus sculpts from the TLWS1 line didn't get repainted for this line because they were too big to fit in the designed packaging for the electronic figures of the JPD1 line. Too bad, since those were seriously the better electronic sculpts, but it's interesting to see a new take on this Spinosaurus too.
The paint job is really a fifty-fifty situation. On the one hand, the paint scheme is largely identical to the one from the TLWS1 Spinosaurus. On the other, the colours used this time around make you totally forget this. Its predecessor already had an appealing and interesting paint job, and fortunately this sculpt continues the trend with this new colour scheme. Brown and dark green fit well together, giving the beast a murky, earthy look, while the minimalistic use of beige is a good little addition. The yellow sail with the green specks and stripes makes it totally distinct from the light green with purple variation seen last time. It's good to see the claws on the feet are painted this time around, though it's a real shame the same can't be said for the claws on the hands. The beige eyes are a bit of a downer though, a brighter colour would have made them stand out more. So while it's still far from a perfect sculpt, the new paint job at least adds to its appeal, rather than bring it down ever further like we've seen on some other repaints of this first JP: Dinosaurs line.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the TLWS1 Electronic Spinosaurus. The figure would not be repainted again.
Overall rating: 6/10. Not the best Spinosaurus sculpt around (though very different from Hasbro's later Spinosaurs), but it's decent enough. The paint scheme doesn't score high on originality, but at least the colours are different enough to avoid it being a total copy-cat. This Wave 2 electronic dinosaur is not the easiest find of this line and can fetch relatively high prices, but loose samples can occasionally be acquired at low cost.
zaterdag 10 oktober 2015
Some reviewing has been done again:
The Visit: An Alien Encounter - recensie
Aliens visiting our Earth: it can happen, you know?
This is without a doubt a very intriguing premise, but the end result leaves something to be desired. Blame it on the approach, stemming from the lack of archive material to cover, since The Visit: An Alien Encounter revolves around an event that hasn't happened yet and might not ever happen at all. Of course, some dramatization is required when there's little else to show but talking heads. Director Michael Madsen (not the American actor of the same name) opts for an enactment of a possible visit by extraterrestrials, but one that does not show said visitors so as to keep it a complete mystery what they look might like, since we are not likely to find out any time soon. The result is only one side of the visit in question is shown, and it's our own. Which fits the conclusion that whatever else, aliens arriving on our planet will first and foremost be a human affair.
First contact will change the way we look at ourselves. Whatever the visitors may look like - similar to humans or something far from it, something so devoid of human characteristics or even traits of other life forms that share our planet - they will place a mirror in front of us as to the questions of our expectations of the unknown, our control or lack thereof over the unknown, and the resulting dealing with the unknown in ways that are all too human. Fear, a very likely scenario, is a prime human condition Madsen addresses, which is why the governments that prepare for 'The Visit' would hope to keep it a quite affair, rather than a public one, considering the ways the public responds are more than likely to be far from calm and orderly. But however controlled those governments plan to keep things, there's so many possibilities provided by our complete lack of knowing what's coming (or what is not coming at all) that control itself is ever an illusion.
What's left out of the equation is wonder. Most of the scientists interviewed for this film are so busy delving into the ramifications of the visitors' arrival for humankind that they don't tend to pause and wonder over the eventual happening itself. The very fact that this may actually come to pass, in the distant or even close future. You can't really blame them, as they're sitting opposite a camera, addressing the audience as if they were the visitor and are asked to state the first questions regarding their field expertise that enter their minds considering the subject. And then they turn out the dutiful experts indeed. Though it makes for a scientifically intriguing and philosophically appropriate film, it's not the most inspiring one. Madsen hopes to hold off any stale science talk and lack of pace by adding a bit of action in a recreation of The Visit, complete with frightened mobs and charging soldiers, but his stylistic choices of extreme slow motion give it all an overly sensational and exaggerated feeling. Once again, blame it on the absence of actual extraterrestrials to point the camera at.
The Visit: An Alien Encounter is an ambitious and fascinating documentary on paper, but in actuality can't hold off moments of feeling tedious. Nevertheless, the point is well made: if there's aliens coming, be prepared for everything. Some of our governments and scientists certainly are.
maandag 5 oktober 2015
Year of release: 1999
-Three pieces of capture gear
Description: this Dilophosaurus is electronic and sports a biting action. When pulling the left arm back the mouth opens and produces two short identical screeches which in no way resemble the rattling and hissing sounds this creature made in the movie. Most noticeably, this figure is equipped with a big frill, largely round in shape with serrated edges. The frill can be placed around the creature’s neck, making it look more aggressive and dangerous than it looks without. It can also be applied to various other figures, though more for fun than for realism. Like any good Dilophosaurus figure, this sculpt sports the same double crest with small spikes behind on its head. The creature stands in a largely neutral posture, though its tail is raised upwards. It has some trouble standing on its two legs since it’s not very well balanced, but making it lean on its tail in a tripod position solves that particular problem and makes it look more dominating.
This Spitter sports a fairly simple paint job despite the ample colouring possibilities the frill and crests offer. The lower parts of the sculpt (belly, most of the flanks, arms, feet, most of the legs, lower part of the tail and portions of the head, including the inward parts of the crests) are all light grey, while the rest of the figure (the back, upper part of the tail, the front sides of the upper legs, the neck and the area around the eyes) is dark green. Green shapes run out of this colouring over the flanks and sides of the tail and neck. Hardly noticeable, lighter green colouring runs around the edges of the darker shade of green on most of its body. Most of the lower jaw and throat are purple. The inside of the figure's mouth is also purple, including the tongue, while it has small white eyes with black irises and tiny white teeth. Its claws are not painted in a different colour. On its left upper leg it carries a black JP logo. The frill is also grey and is covered with green around the edges on both sides, including the aforementioned lighter green hue, as well as purple stripes and small lighter green spots on the front side.
This dinosaur comes with three pieces of capture gear. The first part is the standard tag which fits around various body parts. The second piece restrains both the arms and legs simultaneously, while the third piece covers the head, including its crests. All three pieces are painted in the same shiny metallic grey paint job.
Analysis: the classic Electronic Dilophosaurus from the very first JP toy line from 1993 also returns for the first JP: Dinosaurs line. Unfortunately, there's nothing this figure adds to the already existing sculpt. Both the paint job and paint scheme are largely identical to its predecessor, though the original white has been replaced with grey and this new release sports a darker paint job overall. Even the colour schemes on the crests and frill are practically the same, which is a real shame because body accessories like these provide great opportunities for wild colouration try-outs, but apparently no designer rose to this challenge. The only notable difference is the back of the frill, which also has coloured edges now. Furthermore, some details have been omitted, like the claws on both hands and feet, but the inside of the mouth at least is painted. The sound FX have been beefed up a few notches and sound more impressive than before. However, for some reason the mouth won't open as far as before, making for a less effective attack action. It could just be my particular specimen, but the feeling is raised that the designers tampered with its strike feature when improving the electronics.
Unlike the original JPS1 Electronic Dilophosaurus, this figure comes with capture gear. None of the three pieces were designed for it of course, but at least they fit. The limb piece works pretty well and does an adequate job of restraining arms and legs. The head piece is a near perfect fit, which is especially interesting knowing this particular part also comes with the Dimetrodon and Ornithosuchus figures of this toy line: it seems to be a fairly universal muzzle. The tag is just the standard little nuisance, the sort of thing people keep misplacing, severely irritating collectors who aim to get the figure complete when in loose condition, all the while not providing any real function but to tell people this is a Jurassic Park figure, which of course everybody can see by the JP logo on the figure's left leg.
Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the old JPS1 Electronic Dilophosaurus, with repainted capture gear from the JPS2 Velociraptor and TLWS2 Ornithosuchus figures, as well as the typical tag found on many dinosaur figures from various JP toy lines. The figure would not be repainted again.
Overall rating: 6/10. It's still a fairly decent Dilophosaurus sculpt with greatly enhanced sound FX and usable capture gear, but the paint job is just a terribly big let-down and the attack option has lost its impact. This is one of the more common electronic dinosaurs from this line, but still not always an easy find, especially MIB or complete.