vrijdag 29 mei 2015

Jurassic Park Dinosaurs: Dimetrodon/Dimetradon

Year of release: 1999

-Two pieces of capture gear

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, the name incorrectly spelled as 'Dimetradon' on its package, also features two pairs of tiny legs (almost dragging its belly over the floor), 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.
It's a rather green figure. Almost all of the body is posed in a swampy green colour, including the legs (and claws) and the head, while the neck, back and upper part of the tail sport a darker tone of green instead. On the head, around the eyes and snout, a line of this same dark green is found in a largely symmetrical fashion. The sail is painted beige, with various light green stripes and shapes on both sides. The creature has small black eyes, a pink tongue and white teeth, as well as a black JP logo on the right side of the base of the tail.
The figure also comes with two pieces of capture gear, a small chain to restrain the limbs (though only two of them at the same time, not all four), as well as a large muzzle to keep the creature from biting. Both pieces sport a shiny metallic, light brown (almost gold) paint job.

Analysis: it took a while, but the classic Dimetrodon figure from JP Series 1 finally got a repaint for the first JP: Dinosaurs line. The paint job is actually not all that different, mostly green but in different hues, but the colouration of the sail is certainly something else, opting for a lighter, more relaxed paint scheme with stripes instead of spots. The figure could have used some more work, since its underside is rather dull (no painted claws for instance), but considering the sail and head are the most striking body parts such minor oversights can be forgiven.
This time, Dimetrodon too is the victim of capture gear. It comes with two pieces, both of which originally came with the TLWS2 Ornithosuchus instead. Since they just happened to fit on this creature too it saved Hasbro the need to design new capture gear. The leg piece isn't as easy a fit for this animal as it was for its original owner, considering its legs are somewhat fatter, but it does the job well enough (though in this case too only restraining one pair of legs). The muzzle is of more use though and easily puts a stop to Dimetrodon's nasty chomping habits. As for these, the sculpt's biting action has not been changed and is still a blast to perform, gnawing on poor human figures or other unfortunate creatures. As such, Dimetrodon remains a tough critter to reckon with and a welcome addition to this repaint line.

Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the original JPS1 Dimetrodon, with repainted capture gear from the TLWS2 Ornithosuchus. The figure would be repainted a third time for JP Dinosaurs 2.

Overall rating: 7/10. The paint job is adequate, though nothing really special. Otherwise it's still a fine sculpt and a welcome change from actual dinosaur figures, being a Synapsid instead. As a part of the not very common second wave of the first JP: Dinosaurs line, it's not always an easy find, especially complete or MOC, so you might have to track it down to some extent if you feel you need one.

maandag 25 mei 2015

Today's Column: Judgment Day approaches for the Jurassic Park fanboy

This month's column is up!

Dag des Oordeels voor de Jurassic Park fanaat

No real controversy this time, just a lot of nervous anticipation. The day me and many others have been waiting for for 14 years is close at hand. Should we be excited it has finally dawned, or will all of our hopes and dreams be shattered in two hours of Hollywood viciously demolising our cherished childhood memories? Looking at the trailers and everything they tell us about the story, it honestly can still go both ways. It may be the greatest movie experience in many years for the JP fans, or it may leave us with a major dinosaur sized hangover that will cause us headaches for years, as this is definitely not the end of something, but rather the beginning. The beginning of the Jurassic World franchise replacing the much beloved Jurassic Park franchise, or the continuation of the latter in the guise of the former? I dare not speculate. Where Jurassic is concerned, I'm currently a nervous wreck.

I want to immerse myself fully in the hype, believing it's gonna be the best thing ever, but past experiences with similar Hollywood hype have left a sour taste for the very term. No mindless swallowing and tirelessly rejoicing about every little bit of info released - in fact, aside from the trailers I try to avoid most additional promo footage - but keeping a watchful eye on the development of this soft reboot. It's not like the story offers so many major new directions compared to the original film. There's still a theme park of dinosaurs on a remote island and shit still happens despite humanity's typical overconfidence it won't. Enter new characters learning the same old lessons by being chased by new dinosaurs (and a few old ones). It's the way things are handled that makes for a different experience, for good or for bad. So soon we will know whether entrusting this giant blockbuster of a film to a fairly inexperienced director, who only ever made one movie prior to this (though at least it was pretty good), was a smart move. Soon we will learn whether the overwhelming sense of wonder and awe the first film instilled in so many of us is preserved in Jurassic World, or blatantly traded in for generic blockbuster action and dito oneliners. Soon the wait is over, and we will all know whether Jurassic Park still lives strongly in Jurassic World, or whether a highly derivative but feeble follow-up of the former is the promise for the next few years.

How will this end? Tune in next month for the answer!

And here's a little joke to keep things light.

vrijdag 22 mei 2015

Jurassic Park Dinosaurs: Velociraptor

Year of release: 1999

-Three pieces of capture gear

Description: this small Raptor figure, measuring about 15 centimetres in length, stands in a neutral posture, except for the claws on its arms; the left one is reared upwards, while the right hangs down somewhat. It stands perfectly on its two legs and usually doesn’t slouch forward or fall down, since the long tail provides ample balance for the rest of the body. This Raptor sculpt is equipped with ‘slashing jaws’: pressing the legs together makes the head move forward and the mouth open, and when released they violently snap back. So doing, the creature makes a vicious biting move at its victims.
This Velociraptor sports a mostly lime green paint job; its entire body is painted in this colour, while a series of black stripes and dots runs from the neck to the end of the tail in a largely symmetrical fashion. The bigger dots carry yellowish green dots and stripes within them. Additional black stripes and shapes run over the legs and feet. On the head more light green stripes are found, one running from the one side of the face over the eyes to the other side of the face, and a second one around the lower jaw. On either side of the flanks a single light green and black spot are located. This Raptor has orange cat like eyes, white teeth, a pink tongue and dark green claws on its feet (the claws on the hands are not painted). On its right upper leg, a black JP logo is found.
The Raptor comes with three parts of capture gear, a small cuff like JP tag, a muzzle, and limb restraints (which can be attached to both arms and legs). All three parts are painted in a shiny, metallic, light brown paint job. When the capture gear is applied to the figure, it’s nearly totally subdued, being unable to walk, use its jaws or claws and of course, kill. The small tag is just an extra gadget with no real function except to annoy completist collectors who keep losing them.

Analysis: reviving a classic sculpt for the second wave of the first JP: Dinosaurs line, this Raptor suffers from a case of poorly inspired repainting. Green just isn't a Raptor like colour as this figure proves. It just looks too much like a vegetable salad, which is not the feeling you want for a scary predator. Apart from that, the paint job feels unfinished: more detail was definitely needed, especially on the figure's underside and arms, both of which now look rather dull.
Apart from the silly paint job, there is nothing wrong with this much loved sculpt. The biting action is still effective and spiffy, while the capture gear does what it's supposed to do and restrains the creature's most dangerous body parts. This capture gear has the same colouration as the one from the Chaos Effect Raptor Alpha figure, but the 'limbs' part is not identical to the piece used for both that figure and the JPS2 Velociraptor. It's slightly longer and the arms section is wider. This may cause some confusion and annoyance to the die-hard collectors who actively seek out the right capture gear for their loose figures.

Repaint: yes. This is a repaint of the original JPS1/S2 Velociraptor, which was first repainted for TLWS1 and again for JP: Chaos Effect. It comes with repainted capture gear which originally came with the JPS2 Velociraptor, and looks very similar in colour and shape to the gear from the Chaos Effect Raptor Alpha, though closer inspection reveals very minor differences in regard to the latter.

Overall rating: 6/10. Though still a good, classic sculpt, the paint job this figure sports is just not very appealing and feels wrong for a Raptor. It's undoubtedly the least impressive (released) incarnation of this often repainted sculpt. It is the rarest though, being part of the not very common second wave of the first JP: Dinosaurs line, and as such usually not an easy find, especially complete or MOC. If you want one, you'll probably end up spending more cash on it than it's worth.

zaterdag 16 mei 2015

Today's News: New Black Underworld

This is all I have to show for this week, since there wasn't much news to begin with, plus I had to deal with a minor illness.

Fox maakt X-Men spin-off

Technically, Fox already was making an X-Men spin-off with Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool, but most fans wouldn't want to be reminded of the connection between the two names after the dismal way the character was handled in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. By any rate, this new project has far more ties with the X-Men proper to warrant the designation 'spin-off'. Same school, even some of the same characters, but mostly new faces. Younger ones, too, though the "true" X-Men are already undergoing a sort of rejuvenation with the younger cast currently assembled for X-Men: Apocalypse. But hey, that's likely a different time line, so that's where that comparison ends. Interestingly enough, reports indicate the studio opts for a standalone approach to this film, even though it offers much material for expanding the X-lore, which would help in building that cinematic universe Fox previously seemed eager to get going. Maybe they wisely let that thought go. It already seems they abandoned plans for a crossover between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and now even their X-titles will refrain from intertwining. Maybe Fox had a look at the manner in which rival studio Sony mishandled the Spider-Man franchise despite initially harbouring great plans for an epic fleshing out of the character's world. That failed, and Sony felt the need to work together with that other rival, Marvel itself, to recraft the character into something the fans do appreciate. It's not inconceivable Fox is attempting to keep the same from happening to their X-verse, so for now, they're taking it one step at a time again. It only takes one piece of the puzzle of a cinematic universe failing to fit in to get the house crashing down after all, and with six Marvel movies currently in the works, that's something Fox would want to deter. Besides, in the case of New Mutants, not much effort is needed to let the spectators know this story is taking place in the same realm as the X-films they've already seen. The name Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and the often dropped term 'mutants' are dead giveaways if ever we saw them. You don't need many recurring characters - apart from Xavier himself, perhaps - to understand the connection.

Regisseur voor Black Panther gevonden?

I find the notion of hiring a director based on the colour of his/her skin or her gender to fit the profile of the protagonist of the piece somewhat disturbing. It makes more sense to go for the quality of his/her work first and foremost, other attributes being a bonus rather than an obligation for the job. I thought it had already been disproven that only black people can direct other black people, and only women understand women. This is the 21st Century, shouldn't we have grown past such levels of discrimination? Even though, admittedly, it does benefit getting said minorities in the directing chair, since I won't deny the number of black and female directors for Hollywood blockbusters is still meagre at best. So sure, give Ava DyVernay the directing gig of either Black Panther or Captain Marvel, she's shown ample skills in making movies to deserve it. Considering her previous film, Selma, already dealt with what in a sweeping instance of generalization on my part can be termed "black issues", I would prefer to see her tackle Captain Marvel, just to show she can avoid limiting herself in terms of topics. However, Black Panther is definitely of historical significance to the coloured community - or at least, it ought to be - so as to avoid any potential black backlash, I can't blame Marvel for wanting a black director. At least Black Panther isn't a female character, so having a woman directing a male superhero is worthy of some notice. But I would have preferred it entirely if Marvel had shown some true guts and had stated they wanted DuVernay for something not related to her as a person, like Thor: Ragnarok. A black woman directing a blond, blue eyed male thunder god, now that would be progress.

Beckinsale terug voor Underworld 5

And here's a female's return to the big screen I could have done without. The Underworld movies can be categorized in the same type of film as the likes of Resident Evil, mindless action flicks that have a total B-movie vibe around them but still get surprisingly major releases. And both franchises are running for a lot longer than people usually realize. I wasn't even aware there was a fourth movie. Still, some people apparently keep paying to see them, so the studio keeps making more. All good and well, I understand the way the world works, even though I would have preferred to see that money spent on  more original projects. Kate Beckinsale isn't hard to look at anyway, though that's totally sexist of me. Her acting suffices for the subject matter, but is otherwise simply forgettable, few would disagree. Apparently, she wasn't expected to revisit this particular character again, but the odds turned out in Underworld's favour. Maybe she's hoping this franchise will develop in similar lines as the Fast & Furious franchise, which also seemed to be in decline halfway through, and then against expectations got bigger and better all of a sudden, to become the eagerly antincipated blockbuster series it is today. I doubt fate has that in store for Underworld, but that's what people undoubtedly said about F&F back in the days. Playing an undead character sure doesn't hurt Beckinsale's chances.

dinsdag 12 mei 2015

Jurassic Park III CamoXtreme: Canyon Tyrannosaurus Rex

Year of release: 2002

Description: this larger T-Rex figure measures some 25 centimetres in length and stands just over 15 centimetres tall. It's posed in an attack posture, with its tail bent upwards and pointing to the left and its head slightly tilted up, as if it were looking at something just above him. Its legs stand far apart from each other. This Rex is pretty skinny and has a small body, it’s mostly head, limbs and tail. A very large dino damage would is found on its right flank, showing ribs and red muscle tissue. The upper piece of exposed tissue is actually a button which activates a shrieking roar, as if the creature is in pain. A second roar, more aggressive and imposing, can be made by pulling its right arm down: when doing so the mouth will also open. A third sound can be made by having the T-Rex stomp on the ground: logically this is called a stomping noise on the box, though it could also serve as a crash sound. The quality of all three sounds is not very good, since static is heard as well. The two roars are the same sounds the Arctic T-Rex figure produces.
This figure features an intricate paint job. Most of the top and lower part of the body (back, upper part of the tail, neck, back of the head, lower jaw, arms, most of the legs, belly, throat and lower part of the tail) are coloured grey, with this colour being somewhat darker on the torso. In between the lower and upper parts of grey, black colouring is applied, which for the most part gradually shifts into grey in the figure's lower regions (especially noticeable on the legs and flanks), while a similar effect is achieved by black spots on the throat. Most of the face and upper jaw is also black, with a series of white dots running around the upper jaws, facial ridges, snout and eyes. From the snout to the tip of the tail a row of black spots runs over the figure's top parts, each spot encircled by an orange line. These spots get increasingly bigger towards the centre of the figure, with the biggest spot located right above the legs, and diminishing from that point on. In a similar fashion, orange spots with black lines around them are found on both legs. A fairly small white JP III logo is located on its right upper leg. Rex has got a pair of small yellow eyes and the claws on both hands and feet are all painted black.

Analysis: like the other electronic CamoXtreme figures, this Canyon T-Rex, the biggest of the bunch, features a superb and original paint job, one that would not be surpassed afterwards. It has a very rugged and provocative look to it, establishing this T-Rex is not to be fooled around with, in canyons or otherwise. Of course, whether the creature would blend in in a canyon environment depends on what canyon it is, since not all canyons are alike (that would constitute a stereotype!). The Grand Canyon terrain for example is quite red in appearance, and this Rex would probably stand out there (which it probably would anywhere despite its camouflage, since it's not a small creature). A Canyon environment is kind of an odd choice on Hasbro's part, a volcanic area would probably suit this paint job more, though this Tyrant Lizard King looks cool in any environment. It's also good to see the JP III logo isn't as big as on the smaller electronic dinosaur figures from this line: this way it doesn't attract attention to itself very much. The only downside to the paint scheme is the split between the torso and tail sections of the figure's body: the black paint on the tail ends rather abruptly there, making it look phony. This is undoubtedly because of the way the legs are posed, since the black line seems to be continuing on the legs. Needless to say, in some poses the paint job reveals itself to be less detailed than it should. But it doesn't make this figure's first impression any less appealing and the overall paint job suffers little from it.
Apart from the paint job, this figure retains its former imperfections. The torso is too small and thin, making this animal seem disproportionate. The massive dino damage on its right flank is a major nuisance, as is the poor quality of the sounds. The stomping sounds produced by bashing this figure's feet down cause the figure's electronics to break all too easily. And lastly, the active pose this figure assumes hinders playability despite the usual range of poseable limbs. In a harsh judgement, this paint job basically deserves a better sculpt.

Repaint: yes. This figure was originally featured in the JP III toy line. It would be repainted twice again for JP Dinosaurs 2 and 3.

Overall rating: 7/10. Despite its many shortcomings, this T-Rex got a fantastic makeover making it appear much more awesome than its JP III predecessor (or any of its repaints to follow), even though there's still a lot to be said against this particular sculpt. The CamoXtreme Canyon T-Rex is definitely harder to find than most other CamoXtreme dinosaurs (except for the Night Raptor maybe) but you can still find them irregularly on eBay, though prices haven risen enormously of late. Unfortunately this figure was not imported in the Benelux or the UK like many other CamoXtreme figures, making it also much harder to find there.

zondag 10 mei 2015

Today's News: Hateful Terminator captains

The end of the week witnessed news of a lesser magnitude:

Nieuwe foto's Tarantino's Hateful Eight

A colourful bunch of characters. A lot of guns. A batch of terrific actors. The prime ingredients of any Tarantino movie, and Hateful Eight proves no different, judging from these pictures. Though another Western, directly following Django Unchained (which may not wholly fit that moniker, it must be noted), this movie seems a whole different animal. It's got more principal characters, but less characters as a whole. It also seems limited in terms of setting, taking place for the most part in and around a stagecoach stopover during a heavy blizzard. Eight characters with divergent pasts, many haunted by their experiences in the recent American Civil War, get holed up together and soon tensions erupt with explosive results. And there you basically have the Western version of 12 Angry Men. As is usual for Tarantino, it's not a novel concept, but it's the way it's handled that makes it enjoyable and successful. And with such talent among the cast (and apparently Channing Tatum, too), it seems like little can go wrong in terms of quality. Same can't be said for these characters, most of them likely won't leave that cabin alive. Tarantino will put those guns to great use in making sure of that.

Meer Avengers in cast Captain America 3

Speaking of the Civil War, here's another conflict with the same name for you. Different time, different sides though. Should a masked man with a secret identity and an essentially dangerous set of superpowers take responsibility for his actions, or let the government do it for him? Iron Man says yay, Cap says nay. And thus the Marvel heroes are at each other's throats. Which heroes, you may ask? Well, from the looks of it, virtually all of them and then some. Basically all the Avengers from the previous film (that made it out alive at least) are returning, and a bunch of new names - like Ant-Man, Spider-Man and Black Panther - are thrown into the mix. You gotta have an ample batch of superheroes for a superhero war, after all. But why then, isn't this movie basically your Avengers 3? Isn't Cap A gonna get lost in his own film? There's two sides to the conflict and he's only representing one of them. I'm sure the powers-that-be take this into consideration and make the ideological questions at hand and the characters through which they are addressed the most, Cap and Iron Man, take centre stage. Which still means Iron Man is likely to assume a role at least as important as Cap's. Hey, that's what you get for not making an Iron Man 4. However, there's still a true bad guy to take out amidst all the superhero fisticuffs, and it's former Nazi Baron Zemo, one of the classic Cap villains. Surely that will tip the plot in Cap's favour, though not so much the stakes, if he has to fight both him and the government lackey Avengers. There's a reason Cap died at the end of the original Civil War storyline, you know...

Nieuwe posters Terminator Genisys

My first thought upon seeing these posters is they enlarged Emilia Clarke's breast size. That's gotta show how excited I am about seeing Ahnuld as the Terminator again. Sure, he made it into an iconic character back in the days, but in my mind Terminator Salvation showed you can have a decent Terminator flick without the Austrian Oak. Audience attendance for that movie disagreed with me. And now that Arnold's political career is over, he's back (yes, that line is impossible not to use in this context these days). The plot kinda helped him out in returning, crafting an alternate timeline to twist the old (and there's lots of that both in terms of characters and rehashed dialogue) into something new. Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese, T-800, T-1000, been there, done that. So now we get a T-3000 to provide the new action. I recognize an abandoned concept from Salvation in this character. A fiendishly sinister original ending shaped in a character, to be exact. Originally, Sam Worthington's character in the predecessor was gonna save the day and then unexpectedly kill off the good guys and take John Connor's place as resistance leader (basically with the intent to lead it to its doom). Too daring and dark, so they let it go for a more cheerful, positive resolution. Now the new model Terminator on the block assumes Connor's appearance, and possibly more than just that, as it's unclear from the trailers where its loyalties lie. Interesting to see this notion return in a different form. But thanks to the alternate timeline, basically every Terminator notion returns in a different form here. The oneliners stay the same though. We loved them then, why wouldn't we now, the studio likely assumes. Same thing as with Schwarzenegger.

woensdag 6 mei 2015

Today's News: Star Wars and superheroes galore

Good start of the week, though maybe lacking in diversity.

Nieuwe foto's Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I still hate to admit it, but I'm getting more and more optimistic about this new Star Wars film. Though I'll never forgive J.J. Abrams for what he did to Star Trek, it does seem increasingly more evident that his mentality in just right for the competition. Or maybe he just knows how to utilize the classic trilogy's well remembered and much beloved aesthetics to get the fans hoping he's doing the right thing. After all, in terms of plot and characters we still know next to nothing. It just looks grand. But since Star Wars was always better known for its fabulous looks rather than its complex storytelling, all things considered he seems to be doing more right than wrong thus far. And thanks to these wonderful pictures, we know just a little bit more than we did before their release. Adam Driver is playing a baddie on the Imperial side. I doubt anyone would have thought differently, but at least that's now confirmed. It's safe to say less fans would have guessed Lupita Nyong'o is playing a digitally enhanced space pirate, though these pics dont tell us what she looks like just yet. The expected visual effects work aside, the best thing about this photoshoot is how clearly it shows J.J. is also using a lot of practical effects, another thing most will fondly remember from the Old Trilogy and lament the lack of in Lucas' own Prequel Trilogy. The bizarre menagerie of exotic aliens and droids, as well as the elaborate sets for strange new worlds, look nothing if not spectacular. But whether it will all be put to good use...? We won't know until December 18.

Freeman gecast in Captain America 3

I didn't see that coming. Such a British actor in such an American blockbuster, but basically it's a terrific presence in a kick-ass series of films, so it's by no means a bad match. But who will Bilbo Freeman play? I honestly haven't a clue. What I've read from the plot suggests this particular version of Civil War isn't limited to US soil, but is played out on the global level. So Freeman could be portraying some representative from another nation, likely the United Kingdom. But that's just rampant speculation on my part. Though I have a tough time seeing him play a superhero character (which isn't something I would actually have issue with), he may surprise us all again and prove to be doing just that. Captain Britain perhaps? Considering how few different nationalities are found among the current line-up of Marvel Cinematic superheroes, it wouldn't hurt the story to introduce a few that are not from the USA. Even though that might make for an overly crowded film. But hey, so far the only non-Americans on the Avengers rostar are the Russian Black Widow, the Asgardian Thor and (spoilers!) now Scarlet Witch from that fictional Eastern European country. Sure, Civil War introduces the Wakandan Black Panther, but that's still not many characters to make for a worldwide event. Of course, it's the actions of the superheroes on foreign soil that makes things global and politically delicate and therein likely lies the rub which will soon involve Martin Freeman's character.

Beoogde regisseurs voor Spider-Man bekend

Can't say any of these names sound particularly appealing to me for directing Spider-Man. I get that they all directed films involving teenagers and comedy which is an important market and demographic for Hollywood, but to just give them the lead of a very expensive superhero flick? Let's hand the reigns of Spider-Man to the guy who made Pitch Perfect? That doesn't sound like the smartest line of thinking to me. Marc Webb directed a film similar to those on the resumé of these guys, (500) Days of Summer, prior to helming both Amazing Spider-Man films. Look at how well that turned out... rebooting the character (again!) less than five years later. Not that I blame Webb for the lackluster quality of both films, which is mostly to blame on aggressive involvement from a studio without a sense of direction for the future. But this time I would go for someone more snazzy, more experienced with this sort of subject matter, even though teens and comedy are definitely parts of the mix. How about Edgar Wright? He's done teenagers and superheroes before, and he's apparently not doing anything since he left Ant-Man. Sounds like a prime choice!

Nieuwe poster Ant-Man

Speaking of Ant-Man, here's his new poster. Looks good, but the formula for these posters is now a given. Hero(es) on the foreground, faces of supporting cast and a bit of setting in the background. And there you have it. And in this case, it doesn't look as visually striking or intriguing as with, say, Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: The Dark World. It will do the job, sure, but this poster lacks the inspiration of the teaser poster, which was basically all white with a tiny Ant-Man in the middle. That was daring and fun. This is a routine job. Let's hope the movie is not.

zondag 3 mei 2015

Today's News: a bit of everything

This week's crop of news, courtesy of yours truly and the Internet:

Nieuwe trailer Ted 2

Little is added to what we already knew of this film's plot, but a big can of raunchy jokes has been opened here. Makes you wonder how much more of this we're in for when the actual movie hits theaters, since all manner of bodily fluids and sexual positions have been adressed in this three minute red band trailer alone. One thing this preview makes amply clear is that we shouldn't expect too much from the plot; as if we did. Yes, it's pretty intriguing from a philosophical view point, basically being a retelling of that classic episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Measure of a Man. To what extent does artificial intelligence qualify as 'life'? And what are its rights under the law as dictated by man? All wildly fascinating stuff, make no mistake. But hey, we're talking about a live teddy bear in this case, so forget about any of it sticking for very long. It's not meant to be taken seriously by nobody. The only sticky stuff present in Ted 2, as overtly indicated by this trailer, will be sperm and alcohol.

Butterfield favoriet voor Spider-Man

Butterfield is as good a choice for a younger Peter Parker as any, to my mind. His name certainly sticks out from the others on the shortlist, him having had the most big screen production experience and critical accolades that come with it. That said, do we want a younger Peter Parker? This is Spider-Man after all, not Spider-Boy. True, but in most every incarnation of the character, he started out at high school. He also did in both the Raimi trilogy and the recent Amazing Spider-Man reboots, but in both cases, the actor that portrayed the wallcrawler definitely felt older than the character was supposed to be (since in both cases, he was). So maybe it's about time we let the younger generation try its had at webslinging. No kids on the current Avengers slate, so let's diversify a bit and add one. It's sticking close to the Ultimate Universe the Marvel Studios movies have a knack of imitating. It might make the impact of the upcoming events in Captain America: Civil War hit home harder. Restricting superhero activity is one thing for adult superhumans, but what about teenagers? Requiring them to register their powers to the government, thus limiting their life options from an early age, does feel rather harsh. Hopefully a teenage Spider-Man played by an actual teenager does add some such intriguing new layers of superhero logistics and laws, if played right. And I'm fairly confidant Butterfield can play it right.

Nieuwe posters Fantastic Four

I'm still not convinced these four are right for their respective parts, though. And from the buzz online, it appears I'm not alone in that hesitation. So far the responses to the trailers and other promotional material has predominantly been on the negative side. Maybe it has something to do with Marvel's apparent campaign of smearing the quartet's name because Marvel Studios doesn't own the rights to the franchise anymore. That would be quite cynical and detestable, considering the FF's illustrious history at Marvel since 1963. However, I haven't followed most of the recent FF stories, so I don't know if rumours are true. I just know what I see, and I see these trailers and I'm simply not feeling overly excited by them. Other than the lack of chemistry of the actors and the characters I'm fearful of (which hasn't been proven yet), I can't quite put my finger on it. The actors are fine in their own right, and I know from readint the comics there's plenty to like about the characters in general. Maybe it's the director? Rumours again are not kind. Josh Trank apparently isn't the most easy of directors to work with. Which forms a decent segue to...

Trank stopt met Star Wars

... this bit of news. No more Star Wars for Trank. Much like Gareth Edwards and Rian Johnson, he seemed like a fine choice. A talented young upstart, fresh from his first critical and commercial success. And therein no doubt lies the problem, as other than Chronicle, Trank has nothing to his name just yet. Sure, he directed a likable indie superhero flick, but handling a big blockbuster movie, especially one that comes with high expectations and related pressure, is another thing entirely. Word is things didn't go so smoothly on the set of Fantastic Four. So that might have made the right folks at Disney/Lucasfilm a tad nervous. You're not giving Star Wars to someone who can't even emotionally handle a small property like FF. Especially when there's ample time to find a successor. So the second entry in the Star Wars Anthology series is now in need of a new director. But what about Fantastic Four 2? Fox has already been planning that sequel for some time, with Trank slated to direct it. There's no word yet on whether Fox and Trank will part ways. Which again makes you wonder how much of these rumours are true. A grain of salt is a good thing to take with all this stuff for sure. The Internet may be playing Jedi mind tricks on us.

Eerste teaser Fifty Shades Darker

And here's a mind trick for the members of the female audience who're into this sort of thing. A thirty second tease of Jamie Dornan putting on a tux and a silly mask, followed by a moaning sound. Not very subtle but it will do the trick. Less than two years to go until the release! Make sure to note it in your agendas and plan your lives accordingly, ladies! Even though nobody will honestly accuse Fifty Shades of Grey of being a good film, I'm sure the womenfolk will gobble up the sequel vigorously. But hey, men do the same with "their" franchises like Fast and Furious and all those darn superhero movies, so let's not get overly sexist here. Just remember, guys: in about three years time this will all have blown over and we can resume the everyday course of life as it nothing happened. It's not like anybody is talking about the Twilight movies and books anymore these days. Thankfully.

zaterdag 2 mei 2015

Today's Review: Im Labyrinth des Schweigens

Finally another review up!

Im Labyrinth des Schweigens - Recensie

It's that time of the year again, where we all need to take a break from things and remember those who died in war. In the Netherlands, if not the majority of the European continent, it means mostly not forgetting the many tragedies of World War II, since few other wars have plagued those nations since (thankfully!). Of course, distributors are quick to jump on the public consciousness by releasing films adressing the thematics of war, and every year sees the release of one or two films referring to the horrors of the Second World war. This year is no different, with Im Labyrinth des Schweigens the default war remembrance picture released in Holland. It's made all the more topical because it addresses the issue of forgetting what happened in WW II, at least in the West-German scenario. The country was rising from its own ashes swifter than people would have thought possible, so who would want to open old wounds by investigating the past and risking dividing the nation? It sounds inconceivable to the contemporary generations, but the term 'Auschwitz' hadn't penetrated the collective consciousness: in fact, most wouldn't have a clue as to what it entailed. It would take an unprecedented trail, wherein a country would convict its own war criminals for the first time, to change these paradigms of 'ignorance is bliss' and force Germany to gain knowledge about its own atrocities. Could make for a smashing movie.

Unfortunately, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens doesn't prove the film the subject deserves. Though the notions remain intriguing, it chooses predictable drama and basic entertainment over the historical facts. It will be a frustrating watch for those with just a tad more knowledge of history than most, as the movie wastes much of its time sending its protagonist on a wild goose chase that they know will prove fruitless. While the intercutting of shocking testimonies from Holocaust survivors remains as powerful a scene as in many movies containing similar material, putting emphasis on the sensational stories of Nazi war crimes, thus for instance depicting Josef Mengele as a crazy monster rather than the disturbingly human character he undeniably was, hurts the film's efforts to remember the times when memory was overruled by the collective desire of forgetfulness. Though the principal cast deliver adequate performances, the script does make for an overly naive and irrationally obsessed protagonist. The historically grounded sides of his character as an investigator of the truth are undermined by his stereotypical reactions on the adversity he encounters, including turning to alcohol and losing the love of his life to his freakish persistence. It has to be admitted though that casting a charming blond haired, blue eyed German man as the one to investigate the crimes of the Aryan driven regime is a fine statement of the younger generation delving into the unholy matters of the old. But when you have that character running around the streets at night in a drunken fit, yelling 'you're all Nazis!' to random passersby, you're making it hard to come across as serious.

As a whole, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens explores interesting philosophical questions, but due to its desire to come across as exciting first and foremost, it fails to make the most out of its intriguing historical subject. A better movie might still be distilled from the topic, allowing us to remain silent about this one afterwards.