Yes Or No, Y’Know? All. Things. Geek.

This 42" tall playset gets a definite YES! from me.

This 42″ tall playset gets a definite YES! from me.

There are plenty of geeky things to get to today.  So let’s start with the big one.

YES!
J.J. Abrams has been confirmed as the director of Star Wars Episode VII.  Be ready for fanboy battles to reach all new levels.  Can the director of Star Trek pull off the switch?  Considering he was raised suckling the hairy teat of George Lucas, I wouldn’t worry.  Plus, this might pave the way for Joss Whedon directing Episode VIII.  (No logic for that statement… only hope and speculation.)   The only downside – a Damon Lindelof rewrite of Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt’s finished script.  Fuck you, LOST!

NO!
Two of my favorite newer shows are getting cancelled!  Ben and Kate and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 have officially received the ax.  Hopefully they receive a DVD release – I don’t think I’m ax-ing for much.  At least they’re in good company.  Some of my highest recommendations lasted only one or two seasons – Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Freaks & Geeks, Action, Profit, Undeclared, Jericho, and Firefly.  (Veronica Mars, Deadwood, and Arrested Development got three.)  P.S. I’m still waiting for my Sons and Daughters and Warren the Ape DVD’s!

YES!
Two cool video games I’ll buy and never play: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and Pokémon X and/or Y!

NO! OR MAYBE YES?
Django Unchained toys came out, and that’s a baaaaaad idea.  A good idea would have been buying them, though.  They’re selling for upwards of $500 each (though I’m not sure what they started out at, I’m sure they were under $50).  An entire set went for $6000 on eBay!  Why are my feelings so conflicted right now?!

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InASense, Lost… Holy Crap! Or, These Toys Piss Me Off!

I’ll admit it.  I watch Cartoon Network.  That’s where I catch all the latest Clone Wars episodes (not for much longer, though).

It’s also where I catch-up on the latest and greatest toy offerings.  Of all the dumb things I’ve seen, I couldn’t believe that this (post from two years ago) has officially made its way here:

What’s next?

This toy from Britain?

Or this one from 1991?

(SIDENOTE: Wow.  That song is not catchy at all.)

The Silver Lining… Episode I: The Phantom Mess, I Mean, Menace

What’s that old saying?  Time heals all wounds.  Well, time might not heal all, but it sure can heal some.

Over the weekend, I went to the show to see the re-issue of Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D, and you know what?  It wasn’t as bad as I remembered, and here’s why:

1) It has two of the best characters in all the prequel story lines.

Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn, which translates to "Half Slice" and "Hole in Chest"

I always maintained that Liam Neeson brought a gravity to the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn that Ewan McGregor never could to his Obi-Wan Kenobi.  I still don’t know if it’s his size, voice, or demeanor, but when Qui-Gon defies the Jedi Council to stand by his belief that Anakin is The Chosen One, his conviction is convincing.  Everything in the Star Wars universe we know and love hinges on his gut feelings, and we buy (and buy and buy) into it, too.

As for Darth Maul – once a bad-ass, always a bad-ass… until he falls down a pit like other fan favorite, Boba Fett.

2) Jake Lloyd is a much more tolerable Actor! than Hayden Christensen.

If he says "wizards" one more time!

Notice I didn’t say “better.”  He’s a kid, for Yoda’s sake.  What am I gonna do?  Ridicule him like how… he… will… eventually… kill a bunch of Padawans?  I also think this video existing helps his situation:

3) Jar Jar Binks wasn’t as jarring.

He's wearing Pajarjars.

I’ve come to Jar Jar Binks’ defense before (or at least George Lucas’ decision to include him), so it was no big surprise to me that this time around, he hardly annoyed me.  That’s probably because he was a big surprise in the first place, much like the Midi-chlorian debacle (which was nowadays just as negligible).

4) Were there more practical effects and sets in Episode I?

Seemed like it to me.  To all you non-film school students, practical effects means “it’s really there.”  Episode II and III relied heavily on CGI, whereas this one went partially old-school, and the look of the film benefits greatly.  Palpatine’s senate office looks real when he’s in it; Anakin’s Podracer and Naboo Starfighter look real when he’s in them.

There was an article I read (that I don’t feel like looking for) that stated mixing CGI and practical effects tricks the mind much better.  That’s why Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were so convincing for early CGI.  It even explains why Ray Harryhausen’s clay figures can mess with us – they really exist.

Now I’m not knocking CGI in lieu of practical effects either, and here’s proof:

"There is no try... only do-over."

(For the flip side of this Silver Lining, check out this article on Time Magazine’s site.)

InASense, Lost… Nostalgia In 3D

Consarn it.

There, I said it.

And unlike how I didn’t see The Lion King when it was re-released last summer in 3D, I went and saw Beauty and the Beast in 3D.  And it was worth it.  And I’m probably going to see Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D because of it.  And I’ll explain why.  (And stop using “and” to begin sentences…)

Beautiful and the Beastly

Beauty in the Beast is twenty-one years old.  It can legally drink, and that’s crazy.

While watching it, at least for the first few minutes, I felt an odd mixture of two reactions:

  1. That increasingly familiar optical adjustment to 3D images
  2. And geez, cell animation sure can be sloppy

I noticed a few occurrences in the movie that seemed strange by today’s “family standards”…

  • They showed Gaston kill a duck.
  • They showed not one – but two – men in their boxers.
  • The village girls had quite the buxom bosoms.

Have I been trained to be that politically correct?

Another thing I realized in re-watching the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (when there were only five nominations) was that they showed blood (when Gaston stabbed The Beast).  Pixar’s Up would be the next film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that too had some bloodshed (when Carl hit a construction worker in the head).

(SIDENOTE: Toy Story 3 is the third film to be nominated for Best Picture.  No bloodshed, but do toy guts count?)

So onto why I would bother seeing The Phantom Menace in 3D

It was the prequel I liked best.

There, I said it.

monkeyFLASHmonkeyBACK… The Toys That Got Away

The year is 2006.  The 20th Anniversary Edition Optimus Prime has just been released.  Upon hearing this, something else might have been released… in my pants…

When I was a child, there was nothing I wanted more than Optimus Prime.  The problem was that he cost $20, and I had a difficult time saving up a score of buckeroos.  There was always something else I wanted that cost exactly what I had, so alas… no Optimus Prime.

UNTIL NOW:

Hellz yes.

My dream has been not only met, but exceeded.  This celebratory edition may not include the weapons base trailer, but he looks just like the cartoon – in robot and vehicle form!  It’s an insane representation!

So what broken dreams are left floating around my adolescent heart, you wonder?

They are, in no particular order:

  • Centurions – Wild Weasel

This went to Sam Rockwell, right? It was Jake Rockwell? Oh well.

You might not remember Centurions for their cartoon or toys (there were 65 episodes produced!), but I will never forget this cool vehicle idea.  In retrospect, the real world application of it wouldn’t fly roll past production, and in further analysis, I probably liked it because it reminded me of TRON (you probably don’t remember that old 1982 movie either).

  • Star Wars – Tatooine Skiff

Everybody wanted this; nobody had it.

This one still didn’t live up to the Desert Skiff we all wanted with every fiber of The Force, but it was better than what was originally offered.  And too bad it came out after I started collecting M.A.S.K.

  • M.A.S.K. – Razorback

This car could arch its back. For some reason.

I still consider M.A.S.K. the best toy collection of my youth (StarCom was a close second), plus I was blessed in prolonging my longing for the vehicles I missed the first time around when they were getting dumped in KayBee Toy Stores years after they were gone from store shelves… on clearance.  I never got a second chance to get Razorback, but I still have dreams about finding them still (this is 100% true).

  • Transformers – Grimlock

Me, Sean, want Grimlock badly.

Perhaps there’s a 20th Anniversary Grimlock on the horizon?  How about 25th30th?

monkeyFLASHmonkeyBACK… First Toy In Each Collection

Omigodomigodomigodomigod!  This post imagines what my blog might have looked like if I had one when certain things happened.  This edition takes us way back to 1995…

Omigodomigodomigodomigod!

I am loath to admit this, but I’ve literally dreamed of this day for years.  Or at least for the years that there were no new Star Wars action figures on the shelves of stores.

THERE ARE NEW STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES ON STORE SHELVES… er, I mean… HOOKS!

This is the first one I’ve purchased:

Imagine James Earl Jones saying: "This... is Chewbacca."

This got me recollecting (ha!) about the first toys in each of my collections.  Join me as I walk down memory lane…

  • 1985 – M.A.S.K.

Secret raiders working overtime fighting crime!

Let’s be honest – it’s not really been ten years since I’ve purchased toys.  Having a little brother to spoil means never having to stop.  But this is definitely the last collection I had that was my own, and it all started with Condor.  I remember asking for this, not even really knowing what it was.

  • 1984 – The Transformers

More than meets the eye!

I was dying to get any Transformer for what seemed like forever.  I really wanted Optimus Prime, but he cost twenty bucks!  Having read the giant-sized coloring book long before these figures were released, I really took a shine to Jazzz (he had three Z‘s in the coloring book).  The trick was this – my mom wasn’t too keen on me starting new collections that were similar to other one’s I started.  I already had Gobots, so Transformers were kind of off the radar… until my aunt took my sisters and I shopping.  I had the eight dollars it cost, and I begged her to let me buy it.  She used the payphone to double-check, and my mom relented.

  • 1983 – Gobots

We came out before Transformers!

Memories are fuzzy, and so it goes with this.  The way I recall it all, there were animated commercials advertising Transformers long before they came out.  AND THOSE COMMERCIALS BLEW MY EIGHT YEAR OLD MIND.  Robots that transformed into cars and planes and guns?  Sign me up!  Well, they were nowhere in sight, so the Gobots had to do.  And they did.  Until I got Jazz.  I still think Leader-1 was one of the best, but Gobots could never overcome their horrible names (Scooter the Scooter, Tank the Tank, Cop-Tur the Helicopter, Loco the Locomotive…)

  • 1980 (?) – LEGO

My first set

I don’t remember exactly when I started getting “big kid” LEGOS, but I know this was my first set.  The reason I say, “big kid,” is because when I first saw the LEGO spacemen at one of my parents’ friend’s houses prior to getting this set, that’s what I was told.

  • 1979 – Star Wars

Obviously, my figure said "Star Wars" - not ROTJ.

I distinctly (and weirdly) recall receiving this from Santa, and I was fascinated by this strange action figure.  Was he a space policeman?  He had a gun and a helmet.  Was he a space fireman?  He was wearing orange.  All I know is that I hadn’t seen the original film yet, and I was hooked.

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE PREQUELS!