Monday, January 30, 2017

XXX (2002)


XXX stars Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, an extreme sports professional who gets recruited to become a spy to take down the mercenary group Anarchy 99 in Czech Republic as an undercover agent.  XXX spends 30 mins showcasing Xander in his extreme sports profession, stealing a Senator's car and trashing it, and then being recruited by the NSA.  Then another half hour is spent with Xander infiltrating the mercenary group.  Basically, XXX takes a long time to set up and you are only rewarded with the true plot when you're near the end of the film.  XXX's stunts and set pieces also get more extravagant as it goes on, with the last action sequences being so over-the-top that it is hard to believe that Xander would be able to survive them.  It also ends up being campy with the number of gadgets that shows up.  XXX isn't a bad film but it takes a while for the viewer to warm to it and it targets a very specific audience.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Legends LG-34 Mindwipe


Review:  #359
Name:  Mindwipe
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Legends
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Deluxe with Vehicle
Mold Status:  new

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS:


Like the rest of the Legends line, Mindwipe comes in alternate mode and in a fancy box.


The stock photos are great as per normal and shows off the multiple gimmicks of the figure.


The artwork is unique for the Japanese release and is striking.


The instructions booklet also has a two-page comic, naturally starring Mindwipe.

VORATH:


While not specifically named, the Headmaster shall be referred to as Vorath, after the G1 incarnation.  He is mainly black ad purple and the contrasting colors help break it up.


Mindwipe's head is visible from behind as expected.  Articulation is limited to shoulders and head.


Interestingly enough, the head is similar to Mindwipe's head.

SERVANT:


Mindwipe's mini-vehicle is Servant, which is a repaint of the one that came with Titans Return Crashbash.


It's dragon/bird mode isn't too bad although the main flaws are the wings and the long tail.


Servant is approximately the size of a Legion classed figure, but is definitely smaller.   Above is RiD Legion Bumblebee.


Vorath can climb onto Servant's back, there are two pegs corresponding to the pegholes on Vorath's (or any other Headmaster/Titan Master) legs.


It's a shame that they couldn't have used another mold for the mini-vehicle since we already had experience with this from Skullcruncher.


It's an okay mode and clearly not the strongest mode.


The dinosaur mode is where Servant will blow you away.  It combine's with Vorath, forming the lower jaw and arms.


It looks good from all angles and the transformation is so clever and intuitive.


Once again, he's approximately the size of a Legion-classed figure.


The colors are supposed to be similar to Mindwipe but the excess red clashes with the purple arms.


While disappointing that TakaraTomy reused the mold so quickly, Servant is still fun and clever.

BAT MODE:


Mindwipe, naturally, transforms into a bat.  However, he is more of a mechanic bat with organic elements rather than a straight-off bat-in-disguise.


He has additional faux wings on his back that is used for robot mode but otherwise, the wingspan is impressive especially when you consider that the wings itself are thin like you'd expect.


The wingspan helps make Mindwipe seem bigger but it doesn't eliminate the fact that the wings are thin pieces of plastic and the torso is hollow (Generations Kup is used for comparison above).


The bat head is very detailed but unfortunately is made of soft plastic.  The mouth can open and it is impressive to see his teeth painted white and the insides of his mouth being red.


His torso can open up to review a space to place Vorath into and pilot Mindwipe.


The other interactivity is to detach the tail assembly (which was awkward anyway), being the robot's gun and shield, and let Vorath sit in it as a type of sled armament.


Mindwipe's wings have multiple joints for transformation which coincidentally also allows him to fold his wings like a real bat, which is pretty cool.


A decent bat mode and while you may think he is static, Mindwipe is actually fairly versatile.

TRANSFORMATION:


The only surprise about Mindwipe's transformation is folding his wings together to form the robot's shins.  Other than that, there is nothing else remarkable about the figure, since you turn the bat upside down, rearrange the legs to form the arms and then plonk Vorath as the head.

ROBOT MODE:


Mindwipe's robot mode on the whole is pretty good but the proportions, in particularly, his huge shins, throws it off a bit.


He is fairly clean and devoid of kibble.  The faux wings on his back are made of soft plastic and warp easily (especially when first out of the bubble).


The headsculpt has some interesting angular lines, you cannot mistake his face for that of an Autobot.


He is standard height for a Deluxe.


Poseability is solid although the short thighs and large shins can work against Mindwipe.


His feet are huge as well.  They're attached in such a way that it is designed for his legs to be flat when they are slightly sprayed apart (like in an "A" shape).


Mindwipe's main weapons are his gun and a shield with flip out claws.


He has ports on both his arms such that the shield can be attached to either.  Unfortunately, the post is a tad bit too long so it sticks out a bit.


The color scheme is very nice with the burgundy regulated to only his rear wings, the purple and black can stand out and shine.


Mindwipe's legs hold together better than expected considering that the tips of the bat wings are soft plastic and so doesn't peg securely like it is supposed to.  The tightness of the joints help in this aspect.


Mindwipe's last weapon is Servant in its gun mode.


There are three clearly defined barrels but it still looks too much like a dinosaur lying on its back.


A decent robot mode with only aesthetics issues and even that is down to your tastes.

OVERALL:


Mindwipe is a strong figure and is another winner in the Titans Return / Legends line.  While Mindwipe isn't the best that the line has offered, he still offers plenty of fun.  The bat mode is fantastic with the multi-jointed wings and the robot mode isn't half bad either.  Mindwipe is worth your purchase.

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For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: Desolation


Review:  #635
Title:  Desolation
Series:  The Demon Road Trilogy - 2nd book
Author:  Derek Landy
Read Before:  no
Comments:  An excelling follow up to Demon Road but in many ways lacking.  The plot follows Amber and Milo who travels to Desolation Hill, the only place on Earth where they can hide from the Shining Demon.  The beginning was intense as the pair struggle to stay ahead of the Hounds, who were sent to capture them.  Once they reached the town, a whole bunch of mysteries follow including what is Hell’s Night, why the town’s people are acting so weird and of course, why this is the only place where the Shining Demon cannot track them.  However, even with the promising story, it doesn’t deliver the same heights as the first novel.  There is also a lot more coarse language and sexual dialogue, which felt unusual.  The violence is dialed up a notch and while the pair of protagonists still manages to hold onto their charm, they’re less likeable.  A myriad of new characters are introduced, some of which are forgettable.  Once the big climax was over, it felt like the novel was over but there were still a small section which obvious sets up the next book in the series.  Overall, Desolation is still an engaging read but doesn’t live up to the high expectations set by Demon Road.
Rating:  7.5/10

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Bodyguard (1992)


The Bodyguard is a love story between a celebrity singer/actor and her professional bodyguard.  The singer, Rachel, has been receiving death threats and the need for the best bodyguard in the business is required.  Naturally, the two start to develop feelings for each other although to be honest, Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston were a bit stiff in most of the scenes, however, the chemistry between the two main characters still manages to work and shine through.  The first half of the film was actually fantastic but the pacing drops and the angles the film ended up moving to makes the second half a bit more boring.  There are some annoying characters that hinder the Costner's character, since it's your typical characters who doesn't think the main character is worth their money in abilities.  Overall, The Bodyguard ends up being a nice film telling a simple story to good effect.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Legends LG-39 Brainstorm


Review:  #358
Name:  Brainstorm
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Legends
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Deluxe with Vehicle
Mold Status:  remold of Titans Return Blurr

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS:


Part of the Legends line, Brainstorm comes in a fancy box with a nice piece of unique artwork in the front.


The back shows off the robot and vehicle mode, as well as the mini-vehicle accessory.  It is an attractive package.


The front of the instructions sheet has a large piece of the artwork which is nice.


Lastly, there are two pages of comics showcasing the character, although it looks to be fairly silly and lighthearted.

CANA:


The Headmaster is Cana and the baby blue with white torso color scheme works amazingly well, considering that the only paint is on his face.


The back shows off the larger robot's head as per normal.  Articulation is limited to balljointed shoulders and head.


The headsculpt is average but considering how small it is, the paint applications are fairly detailed.

SYNAPSE:


The mini-vehicle is Synapse, which is a repaint of Titans Return Brawn's vehicle but in a matching color scheme to Brainstorm.  Cana is folded up and snapped into place to fill the gap in the middle which doesn't look too bad.


A treaded jeep, not sure how useful that is going to be.  The back is definitely weaker in terms of sculpting than the front.  At least the vehicle is easily recognizable.


Cana can sit in the driver's seat and looks really good there.


Synapse is smaller than your typical Legion figure which is slightly disappointing (above is RiD Legion Bumbleblee).


With that being said, this is one of the better repaints of vehicles since the color scheme doesn't look too forced.


The jeep mode is probably the best mode of Synapse.


Flipping Synapse upside down and then unfolding the sides will create a type of hoverbike.


It doesn't look like much to be honest since the sculpting is weak.


However, placing Cana on top to ride it and it instantly looks more like a bike.


It's longer in this mode but the empty middle makes it seem lacking in substance.


It scales well with Brainstorm though.


Considering what these vehicles have to do, Synapse is one of the better molds out there.

VEHICLE MODE:


Brainstorm transforms into a spaceship that has elements of a vehicle because he is a retool of Titans Return Blurr.


The rear of the vehicle mode is where it falls down a bit in terms of a flying spaceship since it looks too much like a ground-based vehicle instead.


That being said, Brainstorm is an extensive retool and the remolded and added wings helps a lot in distinguishing the mold.


In terms of size, Brainstorm is a Deluxe and he is somewhat on par with other Deluxe figures (above is Reveal the Shield Jazz).


Brainstorm has wheels underneath such that he can roll.  The cockpit also opens up to reveal a seat for Cana to sit in.


Furthermore, if you really wanted to, you can detach the front of the vehicle to create a sled-gun-emplacement thing for Cana.


The color scheme is the biggest difference compared to the Hasbro version and it works well in this mode.  The baby blue is really nice although the black can seem out of place, it's great in hand.

TRANSFORMATION:


Brainstorm's transformation remains exactly the same as Blurr.  It is simple but effective and a lot of fun to convert between the two modes.  The only slight issue is the cockpit folds down a bit further to form the torso but unless you have fingernails, it is annoying to flip it back up.

ROBOT MODE:


Brainstorm's robot mode is excellent although the lankiness of the limbs kind of clashes with his shoulder wings which tries to bulk him up.


There is no useless kibble which is impressive.  It is a very clean and sleek robot mode.


The headsculpt is the other big difference compared to the Hasbro version since he now has a mouth.  Unless you've watched the Headmasters cartoon, this looks weird for Brainstorm.


While Brainstorm has the height of a Deluxe, he is lanky so is not as bulky as others.


The differences between him and Blurr in robot mode is less pronounced.  The only visible difference (apart from the color scheme) is the shoulder wings.  Note that there are secondary molded ones which is pretty cool.


Poseability is Brainstorm's strongest aspect.  He has so much articulation and thanks to the design of his feet and heelspurs, he is super stable too.


The color scheme takes some more getting used to here with more black showing and a lot more white than expected.  The baby blue takes a backseat.


The wings on his shoulders can also fold back if you prefer.


His weapons is a gun and a shield-gun created from the front of his vehicle.


He can wield the gun in either hand.  Unfortunately, the gun is in its casted plastic color so looks dull in comparison.  If it was coated in silver, it would work a lot better.


The shield can be pegged onto either arm since both has ports to accommodate for it.


The shield looks amazing and is a better weapon thanks to the gun-barrels than Blurr's was.


If you don't want to use the shield, you can leave it on his back (the spot it would be in if you didn't remove it for transformation).


Brainstorm can seem a bit bland in robot mode since there aren't many additional paint applications.


His last weapon is Synapse's weapon mode, which is one of the best weapon modes of the mini-vehicles.


It actually looks like a gun instead of a vehicle with a handle.


A fantastic robot mode although the color scheme is either love or hate.

OVERALL:


Brainstorm is a neat figure.  He comes with one of the better mini-vehicles and the amount of remolding is extensive.  He doesn't seem half-baked and the transformation is fun and intuitive.  Brainstorm is worthwhile to get as a figure although it really depends whether you like the color scheme or not.

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For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

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