Feb 23, 2016

February 2016 Loot Crate - Dead

The fine folks at Loot Crate supply me with a box o' goodies every month
in exchange for review and promotion

Ah February, the month of love. The month The Walking Dead returns to TV and Deadpool is tearing up the box office. Naturally this month's theme is Dead.

Let's dig in, shall we?

Plenty of fun to be had between the pages this month: a brief zombie apocalypse survival guide, an interview with iZombie's coroner, Rahul Kohli, and a recipe for Deadpool tacos. If there was one thing the Deadpool movie was missing, it was Mexican food!

The pin is an undead Loot Crate. Whoa, hold the phone! I just had to add 'undead' to my spell check dictionary. What kind of a world is this? Anyway...the pin has a secret code on the back to unlock Carl Grimes in the Road to Survival Walking Dead mobile game. Not bad!

Quantum Mechanix delivers an exclusive Deadpool figure. He's the perfect size for a desk, being only a few inches high. I'm still not entirely convinced the dark cloud behind him is smoke but it makes sense as he's jumping out of an explosion. Some people will get a variant X-Force outfit version.

What better way to get yourself clean after a day in the zombie apocalypse than this Walking Dead soap-on-a-rope? Or you could just leave it out in the bathroom when you have company over.

On the left is an exclusive Walking Dead big head construction figure from McFarlane Toys.

Here's Daryl against the inside of the Loot Crate box. These figures look pretty cool but as "construction" toys they suck. The parts don't snap in so as you try to assemble it, you end up popping off other parts. If you look close, you can see his right shoulder peg sticking out slightly. Once you get it together, set it somewhere to admire it.

And rounding out the Crate is a Deadpool shirt! I'm not sure why his guns are excited for tacos, but hey, it's Deadpool, so who knows? I promise this will be my last time griping about the shirts being made for 20-somethings and being practically see through.

Overall, this was a pretty solid Crate! I'd give it 4 out 5 Headpools.

If you want to get sweet swag delivered to your bunker every month, head over to Loot Crate. You can enter promo code AEIOUwhy for 10% off any subscription plan. Even if you only order one box, you can still save 10%!

Feb 17, 2016

Review: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure

Way back on Force Friday (September 4) there was a trio of YA books released as part of the "Journey to The Force Awakens" line, each one spotlighting one of the original trio of heroes. This one was definitely my favorite, followed closely by The Weapon of a Jedi. Leia's story, Moving Target, wasn't bad it just wasn't as much fun as these two were.

From Amazon:
"Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookiee team-up for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story follows everyone's favorite pair of smugglers as they fly the Millennium Falcon on a top-secret mission for the Rebellion. Hidden in the story are also hints and clues about the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!"

That last sentence there was an exciting thing at the time, but really there's not much tying any of the books to the movie. All three of the stories take place during the original trilogy time but are bookended by characters closer to The Force Awakens time period telling the story through flashback. Out of the three, this is the only one that would give you a glimpse of the character in their later years before seeing the movie.

The best use of a Force Awakens character was in Luke's story where they introduce Sarco Plank as a capable bounty hunter. You might know him as the figure you've been seeing for months that maybe had a blink and you'll miss it cameo in the movie.

But I'm really here to talk about Han. What makes this my favorite story out of the three is that it's the Han Solo we originally fell in love with way back when. The story takes place just after the Battle of Yavin so we're getting the scoundrel Han who isn't quite convinced he should throw in with the Rebellion yet.

Greg Rucka does a great job characterizing "classic" Solo. Despite it not being a full length novel, he manages to work in a new person from Solo's past, an interesting female Imperial officer, and a shootout with bounty hunters. Not only that, but the story moves quick and there's never a dull moment. In short, it's the kind of Star Wars adventure you want!

One thing I learned a long time ago is not to ignore a book just because the intended audience is young. I never felt like it was aimed at the 10-14 crowd. A good story is a good story! If you're yearning for "the good ol' days" of Star Wars, absolutely check these three books out.

My only complaint about them is that they're under 200 pages.

Feb 9, 2016

Salem Ice Sculptures

This past weekend was the Salem's So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Festival. It's an annual event in downtown Salem to draw people out and promote local businesses. There are shop discounts, ice sculptures around town, and other small events. If you're really interested, you can get the brochure here.

This year there were 23 sculptures. We had just gotten about 6" of snow on Friday so that helped set a more wintry mood for viewing ice art. It also made for some slushy and slippery walking. It was too cold to go and visit all 23 sculptures but I did manage to see quite a few.

Pro tip if you ever visit an ice sculpture festival: get there early. Not because they might melt, (well, ok, they could) but because the longer the sculptures are out there, they lose their transparency. Not that they still aren't impressive, it's just that I saw pictures of them from earlier in the day and they look really nice when clear. That, and some of them have images inside that you can't really see when they get cloudy.

I have no idea what is supposed to be inside this one, but it still has some great detail.

The sculptures are sponsored by local businesses and are usually related to the business in some way. This one of anime character Totoro is in front of Harrison's Comics & Collectibles, one of the best comic shops in the area.

This mermaid was in front of Maria's Sweet Somethings, which if you couldn't guess, is a candy/ice cream shop. We stopped in to warm up and found they had a chocolate fountain setup with assorted treats to sample.

I'm not sure if Mr. Potter here was a victim of melting or an unwatched child but he did have a wand at one point.

This is the outside of one of the main sponsors, Rockafella's restaurant. They had an actual ice bar outside with a four foot high wall. They had a couple of portable cast iron fire pits to help keep warm.

PEM is the Peabody Essex Museum, which I should really visit someday! I'm always curious how they get things inside the sculptures like this.

The final photo I'm showing off is of R2-D2 and BB-8! This one was located outside of Flying Saucer Pizza. They have all sorts of sci-fi posters and images on the wall.

There are a few more pics over on my Flickr page if you're interested.

Feb 1, 2016

Monthly Movie Recap - January 2015

Hey folks, we're keeping the Monthly Movie Recap going in 2016. If you saw anything you think is worth seeing, let me know in the comments. This will probably be the only post this week because I write on the weekends and just got LEGO: Avengers so that's where 
my time is going!

As always, clicking on a movie link will take you to Amazon where you can order it (or anything else) and drop a few coins in the coffers.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
A little late to the party on this one but damn what a ride! What it might lack in deep characters or intriguing plot it more than makes up for in hi-octane action and a beautifully shot, post apocalyptic setting. I'd love a sequel but where do you go from here?

Cool: Pretty much non-stop action; the post apocalyptic world I wanted in the originals.
Lame: The Raimi-esque camera speed up during fight scenes
Rating: 8/10

Branded (2012, Netflix)
Recently for some reason I was trying to recall the movie I saw the trailer for that looked like a They Live rehash. Then I found this on Netflix and started watching it. I didn't think I had the right movie for quite some time. The beginning is completely different from what I was expecting!

Cool: There's some great social commentary in here about advertising
Lame: The creatures look too cartoony to take them seriously
Rating: 6/10

Regular Show: The Movie (2015)
I wasn't sure if they'd be able to pull off making a normally 15 minute show into a full length movie, but they do with the same amount of crazy and feels that will hit you "right there". If you haven't seen the show, this isn't the best place to start but if you're a fan, this is a must see!

Rating: 8/10

Minions (2015)
I've been warming up to the Minions with each successive movie and a starring vehicle is exactly what they need at this point. Even though they mostly speak gibberish, they can definitely carry a movie on their own.

Cool: Minions through the ages. The super-villain convention. The end tying it to the previous movies.
Lame: Something about he antagonist, Scarlet Overkill, I just didn't really like.

Rating: 8/10

Creature Feature: 60 Years of the Gill-Man (2015)
I stumbled on this by someone posting about it on Facebook. It's only available from TCM online. This doc looks at how the Creature came to be with short bits on every movie. A good part of it is dedicated to conventions, the fans, and a couple of Creature super collectors.

Cool: You get to see a ton of Creature collectibles. The extras include an episode of the Abbott & Costello show where the first introduce the Creature.
Lame: I ponied up for the BluRay but the source doesn't look HD.

Rating: 8/10, a must for monster fans!

Machete Kills (2013)
I love these grindhouse movies because they know exactly what they are and don't try to be anything more than crazy, over the top fun. For the first 2/3 of the movie, Machete goes Bond and by the end it's full-on sci-fi!

Cool: I like the movie but the final third where it starts to go sci-fi is awesome! The trailer for Machete Kills Again...In Space has me really wanting that movie made!
Lame: I know the FX are done cheaply on purpose but sometimes it's not helping the movie some times.

Rating: 7/10

LEGO DC Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom! (2015)
And the award for longest title goes to...
Another fun LEGO super hero outing! Definitely better than the Bizarro League. I think parents and kids will both enjoy it, especially if the parents are fans of the Super Friends.

Cool: Black Manta! And the Legion of Doom, even the HQ! Great voice cast including Mark Hamill voicing The Trickster and Tony Todd as Darkseid.
Lame: Ok, I know Aquaman gets the short end of the super stick but why put Black Manta in here without him?

Rating: 7/10

*Star Wars The Force Awakens (2015)
Third viewing! If you've only seen it once and you're not sure how you feel about it, see it again. It's easier to digest when you've already taken it all in already.

Month Total
 New: 7  Rewatch:1

Year Total
 New: 7  Rewatch: 1