zondag 29 maart 2015

Jurassic Park III CamoXtreme: Swamp Spinosaurus & Tyrannosaurus Rex

Year of release: 2002

-'Swamp' Collector's Card (no number)

Description: the T-Rex stands in an aggressive posture, its head curved to the left and its arms outstretched as if attacking something. The tip of the tail is bent pointing upwards and to the left. The majority of this Tyrannosaurus figure is painted basic green, while the belly, throat and base of the tail are coloured beige. A series of thick dark green spots and dots are found all over its body in a seemingly random and asymmetrical pattern. On its snout and above the eyes the Rex sports red colouring. It has small yellow eyes and white teeth (inside of the mouth not painted), as well as black claws on both arms and feet and a white JP III logo on its left upper leg. Its feet are supported by extra small plastic bases in the same dominant green colour, so it can stand on its legs more easily.
The Spinosaurus is positioned in a crouching move, its right arm resting on the ground, possibly stalking potential prey. Its left arm is raised upwards and its mouth is opened wide. It too sports a paint job dominated by a single shade of green, while its sail features a darker green colour, which ends in a stripe running over its tail as well as smaller stripes running over the flanks and dots on the side of the upper part of its tail. Additionally this Spinosaurus has similar dark stripes on its lower arms and legs and the same colour is also found all over the head. Yellow colouring adorns the back of the head, while a single yellow stripe is found on each flank. The figure has white teeth (inside of the mouth not painted), small red eyes with yellow eye lids and a white JP III logo on its left upper leg. Its claws are not painted.

Analysis: the most obvious type of camouflage is the one featuring different hues of green to avoid detection in a forest environment featuring heavy plant growth. A swamp usually qualifies as such, so it's no surprise to see this duo of carnivores adapted to a green environment. This swamp 2-pack is probably the least original of the CamoXtreme sets and also doesn't feature the most appealing paint schemes.
Both paint jobs are far from wildly imaginative. The Rex's especially is rather dull, except for the red colouring on its snout which hints to its bloodthirsty nature. Though Hasbro didn't forget to paint its claws, like they did on the Spinosaurus, the inside of the mouth is sadly forgotten (also on the Spino). The pads on its feet are still more of a nuisance than a useful tool and plenty of Rexes keep falling over despite them. On both figures, the white JP III logo looks totally out of place: a black logo would have made more sense, even though it would be harder to spot.
Spinosaurus has a more intricate paint job, but only on the top half of its body. Its underside has been totally neglected, apart from the cute little dark green stripes on the lower arms and legs. The two shades of green work well together but that doesn't apply to the yellow colouring which would more easily reveal this creature in a swampy setting. The coloured eye lids are a nice surprise though, since those are usually ignored on dinosaur paint jobs. This is the lesser of the two small JP III Spinosaurus figures Hasbro produced (the whole crouching pose just feels un-Spinosaur like), but its addition to the CamoXtreme line instead of repainting the other Spino figure again does add a little more diversity.
Incidentally, every once in a while a Swamp Raptor figure is mentioned. This refers to the unreleased CamoXtreme Tropical Velociraptor, a JP III Wave 2 Pack Raptor repaint which featured a similar paint job to this set (as far as we could tell from the only known picture), but was never actually named a Swamp Raptor, so technically - and literally - this figure does not exist.

Repaint: yes. Both figures were originally featured in the JP III toy line. The Tyrannosaurus came with the Military General figure in Wave I of that line, while the Spinosaurus was released later on along with the Military Diver figure for Wave II. Both dinosaur figures would be repainted again for JP Dinosaurs 2/3 and JP 2009, the Spinosaurus not nearly as frequently as the T-Rex though (in fact, it was altogether absent from JPD3).

Overall rating: 5/10. If you don't own the original JP III sculpts yet this set might be interesting for you: if not, it's really nothing special, except for the new collector's card completing this set. The CamoXtreme 2-packs are a bit harder to find than most other Hasbro JP dinosaur 2-packs, but not (yet) excessively so. You can still find them irregularly on eBay for a fair price. These 2-packs were imported in the Benelux in decent quantities, making them also fairly easy to find there.

donderdag 26 maart 2015

Today's Review: Shaun the Sheep Movie

Another review up!:

Shaun het Schaap: de Film - recensie

A great stop motion film for the whole family this turned out to be. Would you have expected anything different from Aardman? I certainly didn't and I'm glad the finest stop motion studio in the world once again hit its mark. I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen any of the episodes from Shaun's own television show, so all I knew him from was his debut in the terrific original Wallace & Gromuit short A Close Shave (1995). It's amazing how little Shaun appears to have changed since we first met him 20 years ago. He looks largely the same, doesn't talk and is still the smartest sheep around. I like how Aardman sticks to its all too British roots and knows beter than to needlessly update their own characters to modern times. Both the studio's characters and its masterful level of craftsmanship and the quality that comes with it, remain a beacon of stability and tranquility in this troubled world of ours. And if that isn't enough to convince young and old alike to take the trip to theaters, the lack of dialogue which prohibits the usual exasperatingly obnoxious Dutch dubbing process is thrown in as a bonus. I just wish they could have dropped that annoying rap song that runs over the end credits. And yes, there's some bonus footage shown after those.

Now for Shaun's TV show. All 130 episodes... It's Aardman, so I don't mind at all!

woensdag 25 maart 2015

Jurassic Park III CamoXtreme: Lava Tyrannosaurus Rex & Velociraptor

Year of release: 2002

-'Lava' Collector's Card (no number)

Description: the T-Rex stands in an aggressive posture, its head curved to the left and its arms outstretched as if attacking something. The tip of the tail is bent pointing upwards and to the left. The majority of this Tyrannosaurus figure is painted basic brown, while the belly, throat and base of the tail are coloured almost a yellow type of brown. A series of thick black stripes runs from the neck over the back and the first half of the tail, with additional black highlights on the head, also around the eyes and on the lower jaw, as well as near its knees and the back of the lower legs. On either side of the figure, a pair of long red stripes runs from the base of the neck almost to the end of the tail, while seven smaller red stripes are located on the upper legs. The facial area around its small yellow eyes is also painted red. The inside of the mouth is not painted, but the figure has white teeth, as well as black claws on both arms and feet and a white JP III logo on its left upper leg. Its feet are supported by extra small plastic bases in the same dominant brown colour, so it can stand on its legs more easily.
The Velociraptor stands in a stalking pose, its right arm and leg stretched outward and its head raised upwards with its mouth open, as if it means to jump onto something. The tail is raised upwards and bent leftwards at the tip. Most of this figure is coloured black, except for its throat and belly, which are painted reddish brown, and the very top part of the neck, back and base of the tail which is bright red and ends in a fork motif right above the cat like yellow eyes. The Raptor is equipped with a series of grey stripes, spots and dots of various sizes all over the black parts of its body. Both the claws and inside of the mouth are unpainted. The creature has white teeth and a white JP III logo on its left upper leg.

Analysis: this Lava 2-pack is one of the less successful entries in the otherwise fairly impressive CamoXtreme repaint line, both in regard to the paint jobs of the figures as in the overall idea. The original JP III T-Rex mini figure sported a paint job not all that dissimilar from this Rex, also with black stripes and a lot of brown (though of a more passive hue). The red stripes add a little bit, but are distributed in a rather dull fashion. Sadly, the Rex remains equipped with feet supports, which still quite often don't keep it from falling over.
The Velociraptor also isn't blessed on the front of originality with its new paint job. In fact, the red stripe on its back is virtually identical to the stripe on its predecessor. The black and grey motive adds more diversity though, but it's a real shame details like the claws and inside of the mouth were wholesomely neglected.
The whole idea of dinosaurs living in a 'lava' environment is generally both cliché ridden and ridiculous. Apart from the silly backward notion that the Mesozoic age was filled to the brim with active volcanoes on every corner, as often seen in comic strips and old Saturday morning cartoons, the thought of dinosaurs (or any animals for that matter) residing in a hot spot of fiery chasms and lava flows, as pictured on this set's collector's card, is stupendously idiotic. Tough and nasty as Rexes and Raptors were, lava would just kill them anyway, nor would many potential prey venture in such territories. And evolving alongside dormant volcanoes would not yield such fiery paint jobs. Hasbro undoubtedly intended the idea of a 'Lava' environment to spawn awesome paint jobs, but unfortunately the result certainly failed in that regard.
Incidentally, a large Lava Pteranodon figure was once planned for release for this CamoXtreme line, but it never got off the ground (yes, pun intended). No specimens are known to exist. That's what hot lava does to you if you're not careful, flight capability or otherwise...

Repaint: yes. Both figures were originally featured in the JP III toy line. The Tyrannosaurus came with the Military General figure in Wave I of that line, while the Velociraptor teamed up with Alan Grant, also for Wave I. Both dinosaur figures would be repainted over and over again for JP Dinosaurs 2/3 and JP 2009, up to the point we couldn't care less about either sculpt.

Overall rating: 5/10. If you don't own the original JP III sculpts yet, this set might be interesting for you: if not, it is a rather bland addition to your collection. It's just not nearly as good as some of the other CamoXtreme paint schemes and has little to offer beyond that, except for the nice new collector's card completing this set. The CamoXtreme 2-packs are a bit harder to find than most other Hasbro JP dinosaur 2-packs, but not (yet) excessively so. You can still find them irregularly on eBay for a fair price. These 2-packs were imported in the Benelux in decent quantities, making them also fairly easy to find there.

zondag 22 maart 2015

Today's News: slow week

Getting back on track by offering all the news of last week up at once. Wasn't much of it anyway.

Eerste poster nieuwe 007 Spectre

My, doesn't Daniel Craig look like a manly man on the first one-sheet for the 24th 007 film? His eyes never seemed more blue. That alone should win over the womenfolk en masse. Plot details are few, but that matters little when it comes to a huge beloved franchise like this. It's James Bond, people know what ingredients to expect. This poster guarantees they'll get some of it, namely a tough protagonist and plenty of (gun) action. And likely the usual obnoxious product placement ads interspersed throughout the film, as his gun and watch seem ready for that. The general image suffices for the marketing campaign up to this point. The most important thing is the name getting the chance to nestle itself into the collective consciousness, building awareness for the impending movie well in advance. It's hard to miss on this poster. Even though for those more strongly interested than the general audience, it's still unclear whether it's 'Spectre' or 'SPECTRE'. But details on that and the actual story can wait until the promotional campaign kicks into higher gear, when trailers start pouring in. For now, suffice to know that, as always, James Bond will return. And so will Craig.

Nieuwe casting Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Even though we may be, Disney sure isn't done remaking its entire library of animated features into live-action films. We've only just had Cinderella, but at least three more projects are in the works, including this one, Beauty and the Beast. After all, it's a tale as old as time, so who cares there have been dozens of versions of this story already? The expensive and visually lavish French film was released just over a year ago, but casting on the next iteration is already in full swing. And some of the casting is certainly spot-on. Luke Evans as the arrogant hunter Gaston is a golden choice. Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson are always good reliably British choices. I'm more on the fence over the titular characters, as played by Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, respectively. Also very British, perhaps too much so to play supposedly French characters. Watson undeniably is a beauty, but I've got a hard time picturing the dashing, gentlemanly Stevens in any beastly form. It's gonna require a lot of make-up to hide those positive features of his. And how about the chemistry between both? So far, Watson has never played one on one with another actor for a whole movie, she's always done threesomes or group jobs (no, not of that kind!). She did well enough playing off multiple characters, but didn't often convince me on a smaller, more personal scale. Guess it's up to Beauty and the Beast to show me otherwise.

Pilot Let the Right One In in de maak

Another movie up for a television series, and what an odd choice it is. Apparently Let the Right One In has some staying power and enough of a franchise potential in the mids of execs in the TV industry. Despite being limited to one original Swedish film and its lacklusterly received American remake. I haven't seen the Scandinavian original. but I did see the US take on it and found it to be surprisingly strong for an American remake. Either they simply just got it right for a change, or the Swedish film must be exceptionally good. But a TV show based on this premise? I can't imagine it running longer than a single season. Boy befriends ancient vampire who looks like little girl. She helps him defend himself against bullies, he aids her in acquiring blood. Plus a little murder mystery on the side, but that's all there is to it. If they want to make a show out of it, even a short series of like six episodes, they still need to add a lot of details and new story elements to stretch it out. And apparently, considering the high praise for the original film, the story doesn't really need it. That combination of facts doesn't bode well for this project. But hey, I've heard of worse recently announced TV shows based on films, both good and bad ones. And since we're living in the Golden Age of Television, we can afford a badly adapted series or two. Enough good stuff to pick from. It just kinda sucks for the Swedes if their hit movie was among the poorly conceived shows out there.

Eerste trailer The Transporter Refueled

A change of main actor notwithstanding, the Transporter just continues raging on the big screen as ever. It never got to be a major franchise despite spawning two sequels, but it seems the Luc Besson studios are endeavouring to change that, having learned from surprise boxoffice successes like the Taken series and Lucy how the game works. Wouldn't be the first time an action packed movie series featuring fast cars and hot dames which everybody considered burned out after the third installment, suddenly picked up speed with its fourth entry. Remember Fast and Furious? However, that series benefited from the return of its hottest stars against the odds, and Transported Refueled does not. Jason Statham just departed after three films and left the steering wheel to Ed Skrein. What do we know him from? Playing bit parts in a bunch of action movies, but he's most notably known as the creepy Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones, before the hot Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) took over our collective notion as to what Daario Naharis should look, sound and be played like. So the appeal of the new Transporter flick isn't likely to come from the main star. Hopefully the fast-packed action, cool vehicles and scantily clad girls prove enough to entice audiences and ensure the F&F like future the producers no doubt envision. Fat chance.

Gainsbourg in Independence Day 2

Yes, ID4 2 is still a go and the cast is getting bigger by the week, whether we care to see a second film or not (most of us don't). Big European name Charlotte Gainsbourg - from those creepy sexually charged Lars von Trier movies like Nymphomaniac and Antichrist, that freak out American audiences so nicely - has joined the fight against the next invasion of evil alien grasshoppers. We have no idea what character she'll play as of yet. My hope is she'll play the French president who leads the heroic main assault against the sinister extraterrestrials in a fighter jet by herself. Not gonna happen. If she performs duty as a government leader at all, it's probably one desperately needing American assistance to combat the legions of evil, as these things go in Hollywood blockbusters. Maybe she won't play someone in office at all though, that might just be my imagination running wild. Face it, if the script calls for a strong female European political leader, anyone in their right mind would immediately cast Sidse Babett Knudsen, who would personally kick some serious alien butt. Given her recent repertoire, it's not inconceivable Gainsbourg will play the stripper girlfriend of the black pilot instead. Though maybe she's too old for that, and the black pilot they cast too young. Did Jeff Goldblum's character finally found a wife then? So many options, and not all of them as flattering to Gainsbourg's considerable talents, as you can see. It doesn't matter really. If not by Gainsbourg, alien ass will be kicked by someone else for sure. Because that's what ID4 2 will definitely be about.

Downton Abbey stopt

And some sad news to conclude this week. All good things must come to an end, including this one. I have yet to catch up with the previous two seasons of this delightful show, though I've heard they're not as good as what came before. I'm still sorry to see the Crawley family leave the air, regardless. Downton Abbey proved about as high class a show as British telly can deliver. Fabulous tale of sweeping change in both the higher and lower echelons of society in the first half of the 20th Century, proving both sides are utterly compelling and relatable in their dealings to stay afloat. Not to mention the strong assembled talent, always good for terrific performances. Usually quality English shows prove to last only a season or two, so we should consider ourselves fortunate it lasted as long as it did. At least Downton Abbey gets a chance to be wrapped up properly. A fine series like this deserved a fate better than cancellation, even those who ended up disliking it shouldn't deny as much. Oh well, as I stated before and we all know, the whole 'Golden Age of Television' thing. Plenty to watch. Let's merrily move on.

vrijdag 20 maart 2015

Jurassic Park III CamoXtreme: Desert Spinosaurus & Velociraptor

Year of release: 2002

-'Desert' Collector's Card (no number)

Description: the Spinosaurus stands in a walking posture, with its left leg posed forward and the left arm raised, its mouth opened as if roaring and the end of the tail bent pointing to the right. It sports a mostly tan or beige paint job, which covers practically the entire underside of the figure, except for the second half of the tail, which is black, while the tan covers the upper part of the tail. The other top parts of the figure (back, neck, upper jaw, part of the sail) reverse this paint scheme and are black instead. This black colouring ends in bent triangular stripes over the figure's flanks. The sail is festively adorned with white and orange stripes: additional orange highlights are found on the creature's head around the eyes and nostrils, while the lower part of the eye sockets is white, with small yellow eyes. A black stripe runs around the lower jaw from one side of the jaw to the other, while the Spinosaurus has white teeth and the inside of its mouth is dark pink. A black JP III logo is found on its right upper leg. Its claws on both hands and feet are not painted.
The Velociraptor stands in a stalking pose, its right arm and leg stretched outward and its head raised upwards with its mouth open, as if it means to jump onto something. The tail is raised upwards and bent at the tip. Most of this figure is coloured bright yellow, while its back, most of its head, the larger part of the upper tail section and the claws on its feet are painted black. The claws on its hands remain unpainted though. A yellow stripe runs on each side of its face, while blue stripes run around the jaws. Its throat is also coloured blue. A series of six white spots runs over its back. The eye sockets are white, with fairly large orange eyes and cat like black pupils. The inside of its mouth is simply painted black but has white teeth, while a black JP III logo is located on its left upper leg.

Analysis: Hasbro's fascinating take on camouflage paint jobs continues in this 'desert' themed 2-pack. It must be said, the previously fairly dull coloured Spinosaurus steals the show in this pack and looks remarkably good. Its intricate zebra or tiger like paint job makes an excellent addition to the CamoXtreme line. This little Spinosaurus might very well disappear in savannah grass (which is not the same thing as a desert environment though): it would have to be pretty tall grass to hide an adult Spinosaurus though, which is probably why the unreleased adult Desert Spinosaurus of this line featured a totally different paint job. At least it would work on a juvenile, though this Spino figure, despite its size, has too many adult features to ever have worked as a baby figure. Despite its inventive new paint job, Hasbro got lazy and ignored the claws, but that's a small oversight considering the paint scheme is still highly attractive.
The Raptor has a less successful paint job, though still much more original than its predecessor. Compared to the Spinosaurus it looks rather boring. At least it has painted claws on its feet, though the claws on its hands also were left unattended. Like the Spinosaurus, its paint job would work well in a dry grassy setting - which isn't a hallmark of most deserts: this 2-pack could have used a different name - but the blue colouring around its mouth might give it away. The way this blue is used looks silly anyway, like the Raptor had something with blue blood for dessert (get it?) and forgot to wipe its jaws clean. Also, the inside of its mouth definitely needed more work.
Aside from the paint jobs, there is little else to warrant attention to this pack. Both figures are nothing new and have zero playability options. The Spinosaurus is still a decently realistic miniature figure while the Raptor is about adequate but not particularly attractive. It must be noted, as it was above, that Hasbro planned to release a larger Desert Spinosaurus (which was a repaint of the JP III Wave II Aqua Attack Spinosaurus) for the CamoXtreme line, but it got scrapped. A single specimen appeared and got people speculating quite a bit, so when you read or hear something about a rare and valuable Desert Spinosaurus, it usually concerns that figure instead of this not so rare smaller Desert Spinosaurus, even though this one has a better paint job - by far.

Repaint: yes. Both figures were originally featured in the JP III toy line. The Spinosaurus came with Amanda Kirby in Wave I of that line, while the Velociraptor teamed up with Alan Grant, also for Wave I. Both dinosaur figures would be repainted several times again for JP Dinosaurs 2/3 and JP 2009.

Overall rating: 7/10. One excellent paint job, one decent enough, plus a nice collector's card are the only interesting things in this set, unless you don't own the original JP III sculpts yet. The CamoXtreme 2-packs are a bit harder to find than most other Hasbro JP dinosaur 2-packs, but not (yet) excessively so. You can still find them irregularly on eBay for a fair price. These 2-packs were imported in the Benelux in decent quantities, making them also fairly easy to find there.

donderdag 19 maart 2015

Today's Review: Cinderella

Finally, another review up!

Cinderella review

Okay, so this movie serves us a most oldfashioned fairy tale imaginable and displays a shockingly conservative view on the role of women. Nobody will deny it. But if you can swallow that, it's indeed quite as magical a movie experience as it aims to be (and not even in obnoxious 3D, for a change!). I don't think the studio is excusing reverting to old social values, it just acknowledges a classic tale without feeling the need to utterly change it by updating it to appease a modern audience. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as this movie proves much more enjoyable than similar recent rehashes of old glory like Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, which were quite bland and forgetful despite making the female protagonists tough and independent. Both qualities are sorely lacking in the victimized Cinderella, I admit. But this movie seems to say 'Oh, the heck with it! Let's embrace such ridiculously backward gender patterns for a change and acknowledge our true classics as they used to be, not as they should be today!' If Disney meant to say explicitly that women are either weak willed victims or total bitches with this movie, you honestly think grand dames of cinema like Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, let alone promising new faces like Lily James, Holliday Grainger or Sophie McShera, would voluntarily have signed up for this slap in the face of their sex? I think they just recognized the obviously outdated romantic plot for what it was and decided to run with it just to enjoy getting a chance to play such outrageous roles, so seldom seen today. And for the better, since if they occurred more often, that would indeed be suspicious and uncalled for. But it's not wrong to indulge in reactionary storytelling every once in a while, to appreciate just how much female roles have changed since the days these types of women were seen everywhere on the big screen.

Plus, the movie is at least a little modern in other regards. There's a black guy playing the captain of the royal guard in a court full of white folk. And him and the prince certainly seem like close chums. That wouldn't have happened in the original animated classic for sure. What a long way we've come!

woensdag 18 maart 2015

Today's News: catching up with lots of trailers

Not done just yet with the news of last week. Let's get that out of the way fast, since this week's news begs attention as well.

Titel eerste Star Wars solofilm bekend

I suppose this was last week's bit of 'breaking news' (insert exclamation mark or two). Even though the Star Wars spin-off films aren't nearly as hugely anticipated as the upcoming Episodes proper, they're still Star Wars movies. The title of the first solo feature, as directed by Monsters Man Gareth Edwards, is now revealed to be Rogue One. Still no plot synopsis, but if the name is any indication, it will undoubtedly involve the famous Rogue Squadron pilots, of which Luke Skywalker was once a member in the Rebel Alliance, before his status as a Jedi Knight took precedence. Rogue One is generally the call sign of the X-Wing Squadron's leader, so could it be about that? With Felicity Jones as the protagonist, will she play a tough female fighter pilot kicking some Imperial ass all over that galaxy far, far away? Sounds a bit like Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, but hey, that show took a hint or two from Star Wars itself. Maybe the title is simply a huge misdirect and the movie will actually be about something entirely different. Could be, considering the persistence of those bounty hunter plot rumours. But maybe they keep on popping up because people want a bounty hunter movie, as nearly everyone had hoped this first solo feature to be a Boba Fett flick. Doesn't mean that project is off the table if Rogue One is really about Rogue's pilots, since this certainly won't be the last Star Wars spin-off. From the talented Edwards, I'll take any Force filled Fighter fest I can get, rather than facing the inevitable letdown that's gonna be Abrams' Episode VII...

Nieuwe trailer San Andreas

Speaking of letdowns and things resembling other things, this trailer just screams 2012. The plot looks very much like that of Earthquake, except with one main character rather than multiple. I just can't understand why this hugely expensive project was greenlit so soon after 2012's release. Do studio execs really think Dwayne Johnson's presence and lots of visual effects are enough to entice audiences to go see it in theaters? Though I like rampant destruction as much as the next man, to my mind there simply seems little appeal to this film. The devastation scenes are gonna be fun at best, but never original or inspired, while the rest of it just seems utterly dull. Maybe someone in Hollywood knows something the general audience doesn't at this point, and the long expected big bang is finally imminent on the American West-Coast. A big earthquake with lots of property damage and huge numbers of fatalities won't be fun, but would make the film a hot current event at least. But other than that, I can only see this movie being shattered and crushed by the success of others at the box office.

Nieuwe trailer Inside Out

In terms of originality and box office success, I have more hope for this film, Pixar's latest. First of all, it has the Pixar name going for it. It may have taken a dent or two lately because of the lack of inspired projects, but it's still strong enough to stand out amidst a crowd of animation competitors. Second of all, the plot seems much more thoughtful than in the case of most animated features of late, and finally hails another Pixar original rather than a dreaded sequel or spin-off. Lastly, considering the success of characters like the Smurfs and the Minions, clearly colour coded little entities with distinctly different personalities are sure to appeal to kids everywhere en masse, so positive box office results are more or less guaranteed. The only thing in that regard I would have done differently is push the release date back a few more weeks, to stay clear more of the Minions movie and avoid animation competition, but otherwise Inside Out will do just fine. Will it be on the same creative level as the Pixar greats of the previous decade? I dare not speculate. It sure has a unique premise it seems, but whether it will connect to audiences without degenerating into a mindfuck? Probably, but certainly not a given as of yet.

Eerste trailer Hotel Transylvania 2

And here's a less original animated feature for you. An unavoidable sequel from a lesser studio, it's hard to deny. Doesn't mean it will be bad, per se. After all, everybody loves monsters, animated or otherwise. The success of the first film clearly established that, otherwise this sequel would not exist. So far, Hotel Transylvania seems to stick to relatable events, family squabbles and such. No creatures secretly controlling our minds, evil characters hellbent on taking over the world, or other grandiose plot points in this franchise. The plethora of strange and spooky creatures ensures the visual impact needed, while the plot keeps it much more down to Earth. Dracula's daughter has married an outsider (an everyday human) and spawned a halfbreed kid, and now his family, including his overly oldfashioned and conservative father, must learn to cope with current events. Hardly an unrecognizable problem. Just with unusual characters, vampires and werewolves and stuff. I like that notion of turning things upside down. Hopefully Hotel Transylvania 2 will acknowledge the potential of this emotional plot and not let the monstrous take priority over the human aspect.

Meer character posters Avengers: Age of Ultron

Speaking of inhuman characters, here's two of them. Mutants really, though that term is taboo in Marvel Studios's canon. Obviously the new Avengers were the last ones to get their own character posters, since the studio considers the popular returning characters the big audience draw, while these two still have to prove themselves. Quicksilver already turned out a great character in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but that of course wasn't 'Marvel's' Quicksilver. It's gonna be a challenge starting from scratch with the same powers and adding a distinct separate personality on the same creatively enjoyable level. Hopefully the sibling relationship with Scarlet Witch is utilized to maximum effect to make this Quicksilver a decidedly different and original take on the same character. Considering the simultaneous release of these character posters, it seems to be what Marvel is aiming for. After all, they could have mixed things up and paired either one of these with the posters for other newbies like Ultron or Vision (the latter still unaccounted for), but they didn't. Of course, the big question then is, will Olsen and Taylor-Johnson show the necessary chemistry between them to make us like these siblings? I saw the new Godzilla again this week, in which these actors played husband and wife. Can't say they did a particularly compelling job in that role. Hopefully brother and sister suits them better...

dinsdag 17 maart 2015

Jurassic Park III CamoXtreme Arctic Spinosaurus & Stegosaurus

Year of release: 2002

-'Arctic' Collector's Card (no number)

Description: the miniature Stegosaurus is basically coloured in four layers. The lowest layer (the belly, throat, most of the lower jaw and underside of the tail) is painted light grey. Above that, the second layer is white, covering the legs, flanks and both sides of the tail. A number of grey spots and stripes adorns the white parts of the figure. The top layer is coloured black, covering the creature's back, upper jaw, top of the tail, and most notably, the plates and tail spikes. In-between the white and black parts of the Stegosaurus there's the final layer, an orange line on either flank of the figure, running from the neck to the end of the tail, ending just under the last set of plates. The eyes are yellow with black pupils and a black JP III logo can be found on its left back leg. The animal stands in an active posture, with its body bent and its tail dangerously sticking out, like it’s defending itself from an aggressor.
That aggressor could be the Spinosaurus that completes this 2-pack. It stands in a walking posture, with its left leg posed forward and the left arm raised, its mouth opened as if roaring and the end of the tail bent pointing to the right. It sports a mostly light blue paint job, which gradually turns into black on the animal's back, neck and upper parts of the tail and head, and dark grey on its belly, throat, inner side of the legs and lower part of the tail. It has a row of orange stripes on either side of its sail. Its claws are painted black (something they did not bother to do with the Stegosaurus), and it has yellow eyes with black pupils, white teeth and the inside of the mouth is coloured bloody red. A black JP III logo is found on its right upper leg.

Analysis: Hasbro's long time affinity with dinosaur 2-packs started with the CamoXtreme line, which delivered some of the very few actually appealing 2-packs ever produced. This Arctic 2-pack is among those. Though the Stegosaurus lacks some detail (unpainted claws, spikes and even plates), both figures sport an interesting paint job which very well might help them blend in in an icy environment (except for the orange highlights maybe). Aside from the paint jobs, there is little else to warrant attention to this pack. Both figures are nothing new and have zero playability options. The Spinosaurus is still a decently realistic miniature figure, which in a lesser regard applies to the Stegosaurus as well, though its front legs are still overly long compared to its hind legs and it has a rather goofy expression on its face.

Repaint: yes. Both figures were originally featured in the JP III toy line. The Spinosaurus came with Amanda Kirby in Wave I of that line, while the Stegosaurus had to wait for release until Wave II when it was paired with Amanda's (ex-)husband Paul Kirby. The Spinosaurus would be repainted several times again for JP Dinosaurs 2/3 and JP 2009. The Stegosaurus would only be repainted for JP Dinosaurs 2/3: interestingly enough, this Arctic Stegosaurus would be reused in its entirety (so no additional paint work at all) for the JP Dinosaurs 2 'Electronic Brachiosaurus with Micro Stegosaurus' set.

Overall rating: 7/10. Nice paint jobs and a funky collector's card are the only attraction in this set, unless you don't own the original JP III sculpts yet. The CamoXtreme 2-packs are a bit harder to find than most other Hasbro JP dinosaur 2-packs, but not (yet) excessively so. You can still find them irregularly on eBay for a fair price. These 2-packs were imported in the Benelux in decent quantities, making them also fairly easy to find there.

maandag 16 maart 2015

Today's Column: The hour of wolves

This month's column for your consideration:

Het Uur van de Wolf

And it's not even about Game of Thrones. Though I couldn't escape at least mentioning that show, since it's the first thing on most people's minds when you mention these large wild canines these days. I must admit I exaggerated my experiences with the wolf news a little, as I did my fear for the safety of my friends in that region. It's the Netherlands, what could possibly go wrong? Small country, small catastrophes. And one wolf in 150 years shouldn't exactly cause a witch hunt by mobs in panic (though on a related note, that darn eagle-owl in Purmerend nearly did). Nevertheless, I found all the upheaval in the media and the reactions of the man in the street on the subject most intriguing. And since one of my colleagues already beat me on writing another column on superhero movies this month, I'd thought I'd address this subject instead (so you know what to expect for a column next month). How much difference is there after all in between consuming large quantities of one particular television show and one particular news item over the course of a matter of days? In terms of experience, it can be very much the same thing, as I found it to be. The news might reach the same highs and lows in terms of action and drama as the show, though of course, the news isn't scripted (though the way the media brings it might be doctored to some degree).

Of course, when met with a decent amount of viewer loyalty, the series is eligible for a second season, while the news is limited to actual goings-on of any interest for any follow-ups. Seems this wolf has had his fifteen minutes of fame and the show's over. Unless the wolf acquired a taste of the beautiful and bountiful Dutch landscape and decides to return. Fat chance. Whenever I go gallivanting around in Groningen, I'm always happy to reach home again. I doubt the wolf would feel any different.

zaterdag 14 maart 2015

Today's News: catching up required

It's been a busy week, which left me no choice but to neglect my blog unfortunately. In the meantime, the news kept flowing on MovieScene, which has caused me falling behind in commenting on it. Let's try and catch up a bit.

Nieuwe trailer Game of Thrones Seizoen 5

Coolest trailer first. Obviously Game of Thrones. I doubt everyone who was already superstoked for the new season will experience that anticipation much more strongly after watching this trailer, since the tension has already mounted to nigh unbearable levels. But as expected, the new trailer looks splendid. Remaining fan favorites present: check. Quotable one-liners: check. Expensive FX shots of new locations and assorted vistas: check. New plot developments as opposed to the books: check. There's definitely going to be many a surprise for those who have already read the books, now that the series is rapidly catching up with them. There's a few shots of such scenes found in this trailer. I better spoil things for people who didn't read the novels while I still can. Personally, I just hope the series won't spoil the fun of the remaining books too much, as it's obvious by now this show will be finished much sooner than the original source material will. Nevertheless, HBO, bring it on!

Singer regisseert Sci-Fi film Uprising

Despite being involved in a sex scandal and busy directing another X-film, Bryan Singer is already planning his next project. It's gonna be adapting a Robert Heinlein novel. Let's hope this is going to honour the source material a bit more than most Heinlein based films, as there's only one of them that apparently really does so, and by now it's 65 years old (FYI, it's the classic Destination Moon). Many Sci-Fi buffs will still look back on Paul Verhoeven's attempt, Starship Troopers, with dismay, even though in many respects it turned out a pretty good film regardless (as long as you like satirical social commentary in your science fiction, and who doesn't?). So far, things don't seem too encouraging on staying faithful: the name has already been changed from the poetic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to the rather generic (but likely sexier and easier to sell to general audiences) Uprising. I can live with that change. Not having read the book, I can probably live with more of them, as long as the final result still proves to be a good movie. I like the notion of a penal colony on the Moon rebelling against overlords from the Mother Planet, which is basically what the general premise is. So as long as they keep that bit in, things can't be too bad, eh?

Renner en Adams in Sci-Fi film Story of Your Life

Here's another Sci-Fi project for you. This one does less to me. I like Amy Adams fine, but my tolerance for Jeremy Renner has its limits. The plot also doesn't sound all that appealing to my ears: it has elements of V and Contact, and going on the available plot synopsis, not enough to really set it strongly apart. That leaves the director to get me interested, and Denis Villeneuve at least does that, even though I still have to see any of his work (I know, shame on me). The French-Canadian director's oeuvre isn't particularly long, but so far all his feature length films have won critical acclaim. Prisoners for one looked like a generic thirteen-a-dozen thriller judging from the trailer, but from what I've heard from critics and audiences alike, it turned out an unexpected gem against all odds. Plus, they wouldn't just hire anyone to do Blade Runner 2, but they hired him. (Personally, I have no desire to see a Blade Runner 2 get made at all, but that's beside the point.) So apparently, at least there will be some talent sitting in the director's chair. And then you learn the writer of the piece was responsible for Final Destination 5 and the failed reboot/prequel to The Thing, and a wholly skeptical attitude towards this project returns full force.

Fox plant Expendables TV-serie

Another major motion picture franchise being re-developed to fit the small screen? That happens a lot lately. What's up with that?! Apparently the franchise has run its course on the silver screen and now the studio is looking for other venues for its appearance to make it cough up more dough. Aside from developing a spin-off of sorts at the same time (the all-female one, remember?). And stating 'they're still looking at the notion of more sequels', which is more or less saying there's not gonna be any for the next 20 years. Nevertheless, the concept of action stars coming together to make for an explosive team-up might work on telly. Are there enough TV action veterans available though. Sure there are! Plenty of shows to pick your oldies but goldies from. The A-Team, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, Quantum Leap or Battlestar Galactica, to name but a few. No doubt many an old and overly muscled actor from any of these shows is yearning for a chance to relive past glory and cash in on it at the same time. Of course, the appeal of such television (ex-)stars is probably not as great to audiences as it is for movie (ex-)stars, but hey, who cares, it's only television, right? Someone better inform the execs behind this project that these days, television is where all the high-class action is found, so if you want to make a worn-out concept like this work on the small screen, you better come up with some damn intriguing elements to ensure your viewers will stick with you. A gripping and compelling story, solid acting, captivating stunts, etc. Too bad not so much of these were present in the Expendables movies...

Nieuwe trailer Tomorrowland

Ah crap, this looks like any contemporary generic PG-13 Hollywood blockbuster. I liked it better when we didn't really have much of a clue as to what it would be about, but now much of the initial mystery is lifted. I had hoped for something a little more ingenious from Brad Bird. But apparently, he too can't think of anything more than a teen prodigy saving a/the world because he/she is oh so fucking special. Paired with all the crazy and outlandish visual FX a outrageously giant budget can buy. And a superstar to draw in additional audiences (in this case, it's George Clooney). Oh well, expectations weren't high. It's a Disney flick based on a theme park ride, how often do those work? Only on Pirates of the Caribbean, if I recall, and even then only once for realsies (the sequels were okay, but not nearly as catchy). I doubt this will prove as succesful a film, nor spawn four sequels. There doesn't as yet seem room for the quirky humour and truly wondrously exotic locales found on PotC that really pulled audiences in. Please let me be proven wrong in my obnoxious pre-release scepticism, but from the looks of it and full well knowing cynical old me and bland old Hollywood blockbusters, that's not likely to happen, today or tomorrow.

zondag 8 maart 2015

Today's News: Machines, martial arts and alien invasions

Ordinary week in terms of news, with nothing mindblowing to report. Just a few tidbits like these:

Nieuwe trailer Ex Machina

This film is growing on me in terms of anticipation, though I remain skeptical (just not as strongly as I was initially). The fact it was chosen as the opening film of the upcoming 31st Imagine Film Festival makes it score some points, since those folks don't just pick the first genre film that comes their way for that honour. This second trailer also indicates this is more than just a repeat of last year's The Machine, and that it may actually be a better film as well (hence this receiving a theatrical release in the Netherlands, while The Machine sadly did not). However, any bits of ingenuity seem to be found mostly in execution rather than innovation, since this trailer makes no mistake this is again a movie about a robot gone bad, which has been done countless time since the Fifties got that ball rolling. It's the way in which the artificial intelligence goes awry that makes it more distinct. This AI appears to get under your skin on an emotional and sexual level, rather than by its mental superiority (though the fact it utilizes such basic human instincts against its creators goes to tell something about its intellectual capabilities as well). Of course, that too is an age old theme (Metropolis, for example), just not applied as often. I wonder what this machine's ultimate goal will be. Surely it won't be something as grand as world domination, since we already have Avengers: Age of Ultron to remind us of some other reaons why we should never fully trust our technological innovations.

Nieuwe Trailer Avengers: Age of Ultron

Speak of the devil, that particular anti-robot film got a new trailer this week as well. Promises to be quite the superhero spectacle, but we already knew as much. The particular preview shines a bit more light on the motivations of the main antagonist. Save the world by killing the human race, it appears. That's one way to do it, sure. The easy way out, which makes for twodimensional baddies and clear-cut black versus white conflict. But hey, it worked on the first Avengers movie just fine. If you want an ingenious story, you know better than to look for it in this type of flick. This is all about fun characters and explosive action. First film showed both elements are in ample supply from this creative team and so it continues to work its merry magic for this second installment. There's plenty of Joss Whedon type humour to be found here, especially centred around the characters interacting. They just don't like each other all that much but they're sort of stuck with one another, and it makes for relatable scenes of humanity amidst all the superhero shenanigans. Just how the new characters relate to the old guard remains to be seen. It appears debutantes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are somehow involved with Ultron initially, which is not that surprising since they're supposed to start off as bad guys themselves. As for Vision, quickly thrown in at the end of the trailer (and probably the film proper, too), he's no doubt the anti-Ultron AI, reminding us that not all technology is evil. Considering all the technophobia recently running rampant in the movies, there's a positive message for a change. After all, if we're gonna save the world, we'll need some technology to make it happen.

Eerste casting Independence Day 2 onthuld

And if it isn't evil robots, we'll need to save our planet from extraterrestrials with sinister intentions, too. A bunch of all-American heroes did so nearly 20 years ago, and since Hollywood never forgot the financial benefits involved then, they'll have to do so once more. But will audiences pay to see them do just that once more? It's not like we know the story is gonna be anything but repetitive. Everybody knows there's gonna be more aliens out for our planet and some dudes have to get together and kick their asses, the American way. It would be a huge surprise to everybody if there was anything more to it than that, but that's not gonna happen for sure. The suits behind this film obviously want to play it safe, so they're going with the same characters as before, and if they can't get them because the actors don't feel like doing the exact same thing (good for them), they'll want the next best thing. So Jeff Goldblum is back (which I don't mind since I like him) and Bill Pullman likely is as well. Will Smith thought he could make better use of his time (doing After Earth 2 or stuff), so they cast somebody else to play his son, to literally follow in his father's footsteps. Are we glad they didn't opt for Jaden Smith, that would have been a huge turn-off for everybody that still hopes this will be any good. Jaden is probably too involved with the likes of After Earth 2 as well. In case Pullman passes on the project after all, they got Liam Hemsworth ready to go as his character's son-in-law. Apparently the point ID4 2 tries to make is that heroism specifically runs in the family, rather than running in everyone. As for making good movies, we'll find out sooner or later, whether we want to or not. Or we can try and ignore this project altogether and just get our anti-alien fix from watching the first film again.

Biopic Bruce Lee in de maak

I've honestly never seen a Bruce Lee picture. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in watching a picture about the man himself. But don't give me any of that 'only his relatives know what he was all about, so everybody else can't make a good biopic' crap. That's directly stating 'we're cashing in on the memory of our father' to my mind. It's not like there's no books written or documentaries made about the martial arts legend that involved thorough researching of all the documented facts, including earlier testimony from those same relatives. Of course the previous biopics got some facts wrong, that's a simple biopic staple. It's very likely a biopic made by his descendants is bound to turn some actual events around just as easily, if not more so. You think they'll address the negative aspects of the man's life (and there's bound to be some of those, especially taking his early demise into account) in any objective way? Yeah, that's gonna happen... I tend to be much more skeptical about biopics that do involve the direct family because a certain degree of subjectivity is unavoidable. And I figure the same thought applies to many people. I just don't think that many people will bother to concern themselves with the people behind the production of such biopics. To be quite honest: who really cares as long as the movie is good? If it isn't, at least we'll know who to blame for tarnishing Bruce Lee's memory.

woensdag 4 maart 2015

Jurassic Park III Exclusive Dinosaur Tracking Set

Year of release: 2001

-Velociraptor figure
-Triceratops figure
-Bola Launcher set with double bola, harness and support stick
-Aerial Net Trap set with net and smart bomb
-Four pieces of capture gear
-Dino Tracker figure

Description: the dinosaur figures of this exclusive set, both repaints, sport a somewhat darker and grittier paint job with more detail than we’re used to, especially in comparison to the paint jobs of their original TLW predecessors. This set comes with two different dinosaurs: a Triceratops and a Velociraptor. Each comes with its own attack action, though in both cases the attack consists of a head movement.
The Triceratops gives a head butt, raising its head upwards when its right hind leg is pulled back. The creature stands in an attack posture, with front legs braced for action and its head lowered in anticipation of an aggressive enemy. This Trike features a mostly green paint job, consisting of various tones of green all over its body, darker in some areas (the legs, its belly). Tiny speckles of black, resembling dust, and dark hues are mixed in with the green, most notably on the head and limbs. Vague orange spots are found on the back and upper front legs, as well as on the frill and side horns on the head. The claws on its feet are white, as are the three horns on the head as well as the beak, except these grey speckles and spots, giving them a very dirty and used look, as if this animal has a history. The Triceratops has a pink tongue and tiny black eyes, and a small black JP III logo is located on its upper left hind leg.
Like the Trike, the Raptor stands in an attack posture: the left leg is posed backwards and the right leg forwards, while the left arm is stretched out and the right arm held back. Its mouth is opened (and can’t be closed), revealing a large pink tongue. Scratches and scars are found all over the creature’s body (it’s a repaint of the TLWS1 Cyclops Velociraptor, which was basically a battle scarred Raptor), as if it has dealt with attacks from larger carnivores or aggressive pack members all its life. This figure too has an attack action: moving the tail side to side makes the head move in a similar fashion, as if the Raptor is biting at its prey. The figure sports a diverse paint job. Its underside (belly, lower part of the tail, throat, lower jaw, most of the limbs) is coloured grey with darker tones mixed in to give it more detail. A large black stripe runs from its snout all the way over its back to the end of the tail. Its flanks and sides of the neck and tail are yellowish brown, with a slightly darker and more pronounced variant of this colour located on the legs and upper part of the arms. The upper parts of the legs are black, located right under the black stripe on the creature’s back as if being a part of it. On either side of the body, a white stripe runs from the end of the face (say, the ears) to about halfway the flanks. The Raptor has black claws and bright red eyes with black irises and a black circle around the red. A small black JP III logo is found on its left upper leg.
The Dino Tracker figure, being a repaint of JPS2 Harpoon Harrison, is out of proportion with the other human figures Hasbro produced for the JP III toy line. Also, the figure’s paint job shows this man has a darker skin, hinting at a different ethnicity compared to the other human figures of this toy line (and in fact, almost all figures of any of the JP lines). The figure stands in a more or less neutral pose, except his right leg is positioned in a forward move as if the Tracker is bracing himself for something. He sports a beard and wears a cap, as well as a brown vest with no shirt underneath, revealing his chest. He also sports grey shorts (with pockets and a knife on them) and black boots with grey socks sticking out, and a black belt. The figure has no special attack option himself
This play set comes with two different sets of weapons, a Bola Launcher and an Aerial Net Trap. The first set of weaponry consists of a bola launcher with double bola, a harness so the figure can handle the bola and a support stick to keep the figure from falling over when the contraption is attached to him. The launcher is coloured black, while the bola itself is shiny metallic grey, as is the support stick. The harness is brown. A small brown button is found on the launcher: pressing it causes the bola to be fired, hooking itself around anything in its path. The Aerial Net Trap is basically a black backpack with a yellow arm and brown straps sticking out. Via the straps the Tracker can carry the set on his back. The pack comes with a net, which is held together by two brown pipes: with these the net can be loaded onto the arm. Pulling the arm back and releasing it makes the net being launched over a short distance.
This set also comes with four small pieces of capture gear, all coloured shiny metallic dark grey. Two of these pieces are the typical “handcuffs” that have come with many dinosaur figures since JPS2. The other two are leg pieces, used to restrain limbs.
This set consists of 14 pieces in total.

Analysis: like the TLW line, the JP III toy line features an exclusive Dino Tracker Set, featuring two dinosaurs, a Dino Tracker, two sets of weaponry and some capture gear. When comparing both sets, the TLW Dino Tracker Set is definitely the best: it featured creatures previously unreleased, while this set comes with two dinosaurs which have been released and repainted before (and would be again). Also, they’re not the best sculpts (especially the Raptor) and would most likely not been anyone’s first choice when considering what sculpts to repaint for a set like this.
This set may not be a winner as far as originality is concerned, but qua repainting style it’s one of Hasbro’s better jobs (and given Hasbro’s long line of repaints, that’s saying something). The paint jobs of both dinosaurs is more elaborate and detailed than any creature in the JP III toy lines, giving the creatures a dusty and more natural feel, as if they’ve been around for some time fighting other creatures. Even if these figures hadn’t sported the somewhat gritty look they’ve got now, they would still feature original paint jobs. This is especially the case with the Raptor, sporting red eyes, a strange white stripe on each flank and an unusual combination of brown, black and grey. The Dino Tracker also doesn’t look bad, though a bit monotonous as far as colouring goes.
Both sets of weaponry were featured in the TLW Dino Tracker Set as well, and in this case, both of them feature new paint jobs (which wasn’t the case with the Bola Launcher the last time). Unfortunately Hasbro didn’t bother to use the original net launching system of the Aerial Net Trap, so we’re stuck again with the feeble new version which doesn’t have a button but requires one to launch the net by hand with often lame results. Fortunately the Bola Launcher is still one of the best and most functional weapons, repainted or not.
The capture gear this set comes with is very disappointing. The cuffs are redundant as always, leaving only the leg restraints. Neither of them really fits with these dinosaur sculpts, which isn’t surprising since these restraints, both repainted, came with different creatures originally (see the ‘repaint’ section of this review). It would have made more sense to have this set feature the capture gear that came with the original TLWS1 Triceratops and Cyclops Velociraptor figures, which wasn’t great either, but at least felt compatible.
All in all, this play set isn’t horrible, but lacks imagination. Now it feels like some figures and pieces of sets thrown together disguised underneath funky repainting. Though I almost always prefer Kenner figures over Hasbro’s and am glad to see Kenner’s work again making its way into the JP III toy line (like with the Raptor Attack Play Set) this set could have used more work and consideration.
Playability: good enough. Neither figure stands in a neutral pose, but since this set features not only two dinosaurs, but also a human figure, capture gear and weaponry, it’s bound to score higher qua playability than most of Hasbro’s sets. The Aerial Net Trap isn’t great and works only when lucky, but the brilliance of the Bola Launcher makes up for it somewhat. Unfortunately, the capture gear is just plain useless. Both dinosaurs feature an okay attack action and poseable arms and legs, as does the Dino Tracker.

Realism: both dinosaurs looks different from their counterparts in the JP movies (JP III or otherwise), especially when looking at the paint jobs. The Raptor’s paint job is totally made up and looks nothing like any of the movie Raptors’ colour patterns (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case). Its size compared to the Dino Tracker is more or less in line with the size the Raptors in the movie featured, but the shape isn’t entirely correct: for one thing this Raptor has feet which are way too large, and the sickle shaped claws on them, the trademark of any Raptor, are too bulky and small.
The Trike’s paint job also differs from the Ceratopsids seen in the movies (particularly the first JP), which sported mostly brown colour patterns. This Triceratops also is quite undersized, so one supposes it’s either a juvenile or a midget. It’s reasonably accurate in regard to its shape, though the horns are a bit too close to each other.
The Dino Tracker isn’t supposed to represent any character or actor seen in any of the JP movies and is entirely fictional. The same goes for the weaponry and capture gear.

Repaint: yes, this entire set consists of repainted elements from different sets from various earlier toy lines. Ready for a long deconstruction of the history of each part of this set?
The Velociraptor was first seen in the TLWS1 toy line, then labelled a Cyclops Raptor because of its battle scarred appearance (it was blind on one eye, which this Raptor isn’t though scratches on the eye can still be seen). It would first be repainted for the original JP Dinosaurs line, and this is the second repaint. A third repaint would be released in the second JP Dinosaurs line. Interestingly enough, the same goes for the Triceratops sculpt. It too was first released as part of the TLWS1 line, a first repaint following in the first JP Dinosaurs line and a third one in the second JP Dinosaurs line, making this the second repaint of this particular sculpt.
The Dino Tracker figure is a repaint of the JPS2 Harpoon Harrison figure, which would first be repainted for the TLW exclusive Young T-Rex set, making this the second repaint. The Bola Launcher was first seen on JPS2 Bola Launcher Alan Grant and would be reused for the TLW Exclusive Dino Tracker Set. This is the second time the Bola Launcher was used again, but actually the first time it got repainted. The Aerial Net Trap followed a different path. Released with JPS1 Alan Grant, it would first be reused for JPS2 Alan Grant and was later repainted as well as redesigned for the TLW Exclusive Dino Tracker Set (the net launching system was changed, sadly not for the best). This play set uses the same (inferior) launching system and sports a third paint job.
The capture gear comes from various figures, and all four pieces are repainted. The cuffs came with several figures since the JPS2 line. The longer piece of leg restraint originally came with the TLWS2 Ornithosuchus (which in itself was repainted capture gear from the JPS2 Ornithosuchus which never got released), and would get repainted along with this creature for the first JP Dinosaurs line. The other leg restraint originally came with the JPS2 Scutosaurus, which was unfortunately denied a release. That error was more or less corrected when the TLW Exclusive Dino Tracker Set made it to stores, featuring both the Scutosaurus and its capture gear repainted. It’s quite odd this set comes with these pieces of capture gear, since both dinosaurs originally had capture gear of their own.

Overall rating: 6/10. Qua repainting this is quite a good set, and it also brings back fond memories of Kenner’s old toy lines. However, the set comes with useless capture gear and lacks originality, especially since these dinosaurs have been repainted before. There were other dinosaur figures which might have been repainted instead, or better yet, totally new figures. Being an Exclusive, this set isn’t very easy to find, especially in parts of the world were it wasn’t released. It is less rare than the TLW exclusives though (maybe because it’s more recent). It occasionally fetches high prices, but being all repaints, you should consider whether you really want this set before trying to get your hands on it.

zondag 1 maart 2015

Today's News: Dinosaurs avenge Lego Huntsman

This week's load of news. Some bits felt a little repetitive.

Nieuwe poster Avengers: Age of Ultron

Nieuwe posters Avengers: Age of Ultron

Meer character posters Avengers: Age of Ultron

How many characters can you cram on a poster without it looking too crowded? Marvel put ten Avengers on one poster and added a bunch of homicidal robots too, and the result is a one-sheet that looks a little too busy for its own good. Just look how poorly the new characters are reflected, insultingly pushed into the corners. Heck, Hulk's arm muscles are printed in greater close-up than the much anticipated sibling mutants genetic test subjects. Good thing there's the nigh obligatory character posters available to remedy this injustice. So far, no character posters featuring those new characters have been published though. It likely will still happen, after all there's six more weeks before this film opens (eight in the USA even). So until we get to see the final posters for Vision, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, we have to make do with the old line-up of superheroes. Cool characters, but rather conservative and bland posters though. I doubt anybody is getting any more hyped up from these one-sheets than they already were thanks to the trailers. Maybe Downey Jr's upcoming 'big announcement' can get that hype to pick up more momentum perhaps. What could it be? Spider-Man references in this second Avengers flick? Or maybe something a little closer to home, like him stepping down as Iron Man, or that character getting killed off entirely? It's unlikely the last two scenarios would be announced before the film opens, that would be highly spoilerific. I guess we just have to be patient for both this impending news flash and those last few character posters then. Oh, the hype...!

Regisseur gevonden voor Lego Movie 2

I've probably seen a bunch of episodes of Community the new director for Lego Movie 2 helmed, though I can't recall them specifically. However, Community's quirky, whimsical humour is also to be found in the first Lego Movie, so on that note the guy seems well suited. No feature films on his resumé though, but that's not exactly uncommon in directing animation. Besides, he's directed Community's tribute to the classic G.I. Joe cartoon from the Eighties, which means he has both experience in animation and with adapting a toy line into an audiovisual feast. The Lego Movie 2 could have done worse for a director. But how about the Lego Batman spin-off, which is supposed to hit theaters first, but doesn't seem to be as deep in pre-production at this point? Anybody with experience directing toys, animation and superheroes in a humorous fashion? That's a much tougher call, so it's logical to see potential directors have to be screened more thoroughly for that one. How about one of the guys from one of the Toy Story films (Buzz Lightyear sure counts as a superhero in my book)? That would be striking little gold bricks for sure!

Chastain gecast in The Huntsman

Oh Jessica, why would you bother? Snow White and the Huntsman was a decent flick, but not the stuff of sequels. This separate Huntsman movie is just a cash grab that only features a character or two from the first movie and most of the team involved in its production has moved on to more original projects. So why would an Oscar-nominated A-list actress waste time and talent on this flick? The money is probably good. I doubt she'd do it because it'll prove such an acting challenge or because she wants to be closer to Chris Hemsworth's robust manly six-pack. Oh well, the audience only benefits from terrific actors, that means the film is secured of decent performances, even if all else may prove forgettable. So far three damn fine actresses signed on for this flick already, Chastain herself, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt. So at least Hemsworth flexing his muscles and mumbling his way through the movie will have some actual talent to go up against. Otherwise, this movie, rife with development problems so far, simply doesn't get my hopes up.

Dinosauriërs Jurassic World onthuld

Look at me, spoiling this most anticipated movie of 2015 for myself in the name of duty... Oh well, I've already seen the toys so I know what the dinosaurs will look like. Besides, half the dinosaurs shown here won't make it into the final film, hence the paleoart covering their appearance, rather than the CG rendered models. Sucks that the hand drawn creatures look far more appealing and much more paleontologically accurate. They're putting their movie brothers to shame. Pronated hands, feathery bits and splendidly vibrant colours; quite the opposite of the bald, scientifically incorrect and blandly coloured animals we'll see in the movie. Far more exotic species too, but the audience wants to see T-Rex and Raptors, because that's usually all they know. Forget about the more intriguing, poetically named likes of Metriacanthosaurus or Microceratus, those names don't have the star power or the necessary 'sexy' quality to them needed to entice audiences. Or so the studio thinks. Velociraptor and Dilophosaurus weren't exactly house hold names before JP came around. At least we'll have some new species, like Dimorphodon and that genetically engineered bastard that's going to be the main baddiesaur. It's a Hollywood movie, so we shouldn't expect any realism. As further illustarted by the size chart that shows a huge Sauropod like Apatosaurus to be smaller than T-Rex. At least the kids will know better, they might educate their ignorant parents a bit on the subject. As for me, I refuse to let this bring down my enthusiasm for a new Jurassic film. I've had to wait too long for one and I need my dinosaur fix. It's not like there's such a thing as an accurate portrayal of a dinosaur anyway. We simply can't know.