Saturday, July 28, 2012

El Professore Movie: Kongo

Director: William J. Cowen
Starring: Walter Huston, Lupe Velez, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Bruce
* * * 1/2
A sound remake of the silent film, 'West of Zanzibar', 'Kongo' is conceptually one of the most depraved motion pictures ever made, lensed right at the peak of Hollywood's Pre Code era.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pre-Order Hot Toys Jim Gordon and Avengers Hulk Maquette!

Our dear friends at Sideshow continue their noble quest to beat the crap out of your credit card with two new hard-to-resist items fresh out of their fun oven. Up for pre-order is an exclusive Hot Toys Lt. Jim Gordon S.W.A.T. suit version 1/6th scale collectible figure featuring an uncanny likeness of old man Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight...

And if that didn't get you frothing enough, here's a 2 feet plus Hulk maquette from The Avengers, kind of like the one they used on set except this one is wearing pants. This seems to be the definitive piece for Ruffalo-Hulk enthusiasts...

More images and commentary after the jump, but if you're already convinced you can pre-order Jim here: Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series Jim Gordon (SWAT Version) The Dark Knight - Hot Toys
and Hulk here: Marvel (R) Collectibles Hulk Maquette

Thank Gif It's Friday

Today marks the start of the greatest sports event in the world... the Olympics. And to celebrate, here is the greatest Olympics animated gif of all time.

Coming in September: The Hobbit Lego Board Game!

Lego is making a board game for The Hobbit! Unlike the Lego Star Wars board game, I hope this one actually comes out in the US.

For the press release, images, and thoughts (mostly a Heroica rant)... click through the jump!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Hot Toys Sucker Punch Amber 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure!

I unapologetically love plucky lil’ Zack Synder’s audaciously indulgent, hyper-violent ,burlesque, music-video epic Sucker Punch and none of the collective jibber-jabber will ever dampen my enjoyment. I’ve already reviewed Hot Toy’s 1/6th scale Babydoll figure, and now I have a lollipop devouring, fetish/army Amber - featuring the likeness of actress Jamie Chung - to add to my freakishly realistic tiny people collection.

To find out what I thought (and see a lot more pictures!) join me... after the jump!

Review: "Redshirts" by John Scalzi

I grew up as a Star Trek kid. Didn't see Star Wars until high school, so I grew up on the Star Trek cartoon with the original cast and with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Q was - and largely still is - my favorite fictional villain. Deanna Troi my first celebrity/fictional crush. Star Trek is really the reason why I love science fiction so much today.

Redshirts is equal parts love letter and parody to the Star Trek I know and love. Clearly, John Scalzi knows how ridiculous many sci-fi tropes are, and they're lampooned perfectly here. The characters realize that the ship they're on is radically different than the others that the Federation is associated with, and how things work on a specific timetalbe, and it becomes very obvious very quickly where the plot is going (as if the title isn't a dead giveaway).

What follows is simply a lot of fun from start to finish. There's time travel, there's the uprooting of basic sci-fi conventions, there's just a lot of fun stuff going on from start to finish. Plus, the book ends with a number of postscripts from various characters we encounter along the way. I don't want to give those parts away at all, but I finished the main story very late at night and still wanted to plow through the extra stuff, as they felt like bonus features as well as fleshed out the story a bit more.

What's interesting is that the story may be a tad too long and unnecessarily profane to get to its point, but it's easy to forgive it because it's so much fun, especially the codas. I'd imagine the audience for this is very limited to those who have a soft spot for Trek and the like, but there is plenty to enjoy here on a whole.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 7/18/2012

I'll leave a review for The Dark Knight Rises to more capable hands, but suffice to say it was AMAZING!  If you haven't seen it yet, go right now!  Tell your boss you're sick and head to the nearest theatre...Go ahead, I'll wait! 

Ironically, in the biggest Batman week of the year, there were NO Batman comics released.  However, there was a book with Batman in it!  That book, of course, is...

Justice League #11 -  The League is all stressed out this month as they continue to try and deal with Graves, the one-time author now turned super-villain who blames them for the death of his family.  Graves has kidnapped Steve Trevor and our heroes are trying desperately to catch up with him.  Tempers flare and Wonder Woman, feeling responsible, loses it!  Green Lantern tries to talk some sense into her and ends up instead in a battle that of course gets broadcast to everyone around the world.  Even Superman gets involved...Batman is SOOO exasperated.  Not cool, guys...

On the plus side, at least they manage to find Graves old writing cabin and get a lead on where to find him.  Of course this may very well all be too late to save poor Steve...

In other news, Shazam is back again this month, as Black Adam is released from his tomb by Dr. Sivana, who promises to help him find "The Wizard".  Billy Batson, meanwhile, is playing a prank on his schoolyard bullies that goes awry.  They chase him onto a subway train when suddenly he's surrounded by lightning!  Next thing he knows, Billy is...somewhere else!  Somewhere mysterious...

Of course that's not all!  Join me for some Before Watchmen, some Wonder Woman and more after the JUMP!

Comic School Review: Iron Man's First Encounter with The Mandarin! (1964)

Surely one of the greatest things witnessed by those lucky ducks that attended this year's San Diego Comic Con was the first glimpse of Oscar Devourer Sir Ben Kingsley in his role as nefarious villain The Mandarin in the much anticipated Iron Man 3: Go Tony Go! Since reading the truly salacious descriptions of Sir Benjamin with a well groomed mo', I have had undeniable MANDARIN FEVER and have wanted to know everything possible about the bad guy that Marvel claims is "the most feared Oriental of all time!" Don't believe me? Check this out...

This is the introductory page of Tales of Suspense #50 in which Iron Man trades blows with Red China's sour-faced secret menace for the first time! Naturally it was written by Stan the Man Lee in the manner only he knows how, and drawn by the delightful Don "What The" Heck. I bought it from Comixology for a mere $1.99 and you will too if you know what's good for you!

Read along with me as I review this culturally insensitive classic from 1963... after the jump!

Mists of Pandaria - We have an ETA

And it is September 25th, 2012 - completely throwing me off. The prediction had been for Christmas, but Blizzard has been mighty coy and sneaky and will be springing it out earlier.

Whilst I'd been initially a bit - iffy about the premise of Pandaria, I've warmed to it. And it makes sense; Lich King was the Warcrafting equivalent of a Shakespeare play, Cataclysm reached a completely untoppable level of chaos and destruction - where could they possibly go from there? You can't just keep trying to outdo the previous bad guy.

Blizzard official press release can be found here, and click on the pretty picture for pre-sale. That special edition mount looks SWEET.

My panda will completely pwn your panda.

America's Got Talent Quarterfinal Recap: A Close Call!

It's the last of the America's Got Talent  quarterfinals… and going in, Howard said it'll be the best show yet. I really hoped so. Last week was pretty awful, especially after one of my favorites was axed.

This week was different, and one of the best yet. Howard blamed the producers for lining up so many great acts, and you could see how the producers can make or break the show. Acts from previous shows went through that are not as good as these were.

It was the first show where there wasn't a super clear cut group going through. William Close is going through for sure, but I said the same thing last week about Wordspit. But other than William Close, the rest is really up in the air.

Click though the jump for the full recap and my hopeful predictions of the top 4. (YouTube videos at the end)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's Out? 25th of July 2012

New Comics Day! Here's what came out:

Nerd History: The Chronovisor

I recently finished the excellent Bottled Demon by Matthew Rossi, a collection of the weird, the historical, the occult, the "what ifs," etc. I could probably write about a lot of what he touched upon, but I do want to touch upon one of the first stories he tells, about Father Pellegrino Ernetti and a machine he created called the "Chronovisor." This "chronovisor" would allow the viewer to look into the past by tapping into the events still floating in the air through space. You might have read Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, and it's kind of like that.

Hot Toys Tease Agent Coulson and Chitauri Footsoldier!

Fresh off their Facebook page, Hot Toys surprise us with a tease of two previously unannounced The Avengers 1/6th scale figures: Agent Phil Coulson and a Chitauri footsoldier! Did not see this coming...

The full figures will be revealed this Friday at the annual Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong event, along with the 1/6th scale Hulk, Iron Man Mark VII, and The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman! HOLY CRAP!

To be honest, I'm not a hardcore enough fan to pick up either Coulson or the Chitauri, but I look forward to seeing them, and I'm pretty sure I'll grab that Hulk, Iron Man and Catwoman! We'll show you those as soon as they break!

Review: The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s been a weird week for Batman. Arguably the year’s most anticipated film, it has elicited a torrent of conflicting emotions. Last week began with threats of violence against those giving negative reviews and ended with a very real act of violence against those who were most excited to see it. The Dark Knight Rises, which should be judged only on its own merits, is now surrounded by a lot of excess noise. Needless to say, people are very emotionally invested in the Batman story, and more so than ever in its long-awaited conclusion. And that makes commenting on it a harder task.

I too was incredibly excited about seeing The Dark Knight Rises and I’ve had a solid few days now to mull my experience over. To find out what I thought, join me.. after the jump!

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 23!

OMG! What is going on!? In this very unorthodox teaser episode of The Book Was Better podcast, beloved host Jessica is absent and I am fumbling through proceedings all by my lonesome. What have I done to her? Will she return? Is the answer sinister or completely pedestrian and underwhelming? There's only one way to be sure, and luckily it will only take up about 3 1/2 precious minutes of your life.

But the good news is that I do reveal which amazing movie novelisation the two of us will be discussing next week! And trust me - it is wonderfully horrible!

Download this half-arsed mini episode RIGHT NOW from our official site, or why not subscribe to us on iTunes so we can let ourselves into your iPod every week while you're not looking!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Hot Toys Nick Fury 1/6 Scale Collectible Figure! (The Avengers)!

I've been greatly anticipating Hot Toys line of 1/6th scale figures based on Joss Whedon's crowd-pleasing, problem-punching, superhero flick, The Avengers! After what feels like a long wait, the first character is finally becoming available and, thanks to an early birthday gift, I have scowling, shiny-domed, S.H.I.E.L.D. co-ordinator Nick Fury right here in my quivering, over-eager hands!

"CALL ME A DOLL AGAIN, MUTHAFUGGA!" This badass is going to bitchslap Ken and get your Barbie's pregnant. If you want to see a lot more pictures of him and find out what I thought, then let's assemble... after the jump!

Kickstart the Week: 99% Invisible

Wired profiled one of my favorite podcasts last week, 99% Invisible. While it's primarily a podcast about design, heavy on architecture, it's about a lot more than that. I have stolen blog ideas from them before, but only because what they do is so neat. For someone without the mathematical brain to really get into architecture and such, and without an artistic bone in his body? It's really solid. Plus, the podcast is rarely over 15 minutes long, so it's a perfect bite-sized chunk for when I get out of the house.

99% Invisible is attempting to kickstart its third season, but with a few twists. For one, the stretch goals (as they made their goal in 24 hours) are going to help them make a truly great podcast even better. To think that a single Kickstarter campaign may be able to help them not only increase their output to 40 episodes a year (as opposed to the bi-weekly schedule they're on), but create an app that could really revolutionize the show? Incredible. Plus, if they get 5000 backers, there will be a $10000 funding match, so even a dollar might help push things way over the top.

Supporting this Kickstarter helps public radio in a myriad of ways, opens up new funding avenues, and supports a great podcast with a great idea. Definitely take a look. Beyond the jump, I've linked some of my favorite 99% Invisible episodes to get you started:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday Night Board Games: Trains, Tiles and Cooperative War

Thanks to a mega sale at Barnes & Noble and the delivery of my copy of D-Day Dice, we were able to have an unexpected all-Valley Games game night.

We started off with Days of Steam, which I bought for just $20.00 at Barnes & Nobles huge clearance event. All clearance board games were 50% off of retail price. And just a few days after I bought the game, the prices dropped to 75% off. You might want to stop reading and head there right now if you want awesome deals like Fresco for $15, the Star Trek Deckbuilding Game for $10, or Launch Pad for just $5.

Click through the jump for a full recap.

Book review: Accidental Inventions!

I love coffee table books. A persons definition of a coffee table book differs, but it's usually in the same roundhouse as an art book - something created with a higher than average production value, designed to inspire or stimulate conversation. Or just to hang around and make the owner look swanky, lets be fair.

This particular gem is a square hardcover with a dustjacket, though I rather like it with the title-less cover underneath. Observe!

Join me after the break whilst I crack open this baby.