woensdag 23 juli 2014

Today's News: more and more

News just keeps piling up. At times it seems like I'm the only one posting any on MovieScene lately. Which is one of the reasons my blog is witnessing a decrease in updates. Oh well, at least all this news means there is always something to post on my blog when there is time available.


Seems overkill, to announce movies so far ahead without anything to go on but a title (at least, I hope Marvel has some to fill in those release dates, though they're not spilling those beans just yet), and of course, a plan. However, this is not so much about the movies, as it is a show of strength and confidence. Marvel flexes its muscles to let the world know they're totally prepared to accept DC's recent challenge in annual cinematic universe crafting. DC has so far revealed they're planning ahead up till 2019, now Marvel does the same. You didn't think it was a coincidence this latest planning of the House of Ideas ran until 2019, did you? Plus, DC so far sticks to one movie a year, while Marvel eagerly doubles that amount, and in case of 2017 even triples it. With this slate of release dates, Marvel is making a statement they mean to stay the biggest player in terms of superhero movies. And backed up by the ever expanding might of Disney, they can make good on it. However, unlike DC, Marvel hasn't named any properties yet that can fill those slots. They better put their money where their mouth is soon, because (most) people don't remember release dates, they remember names. Like The Batman in 2019. I wonder what marvel hero gets to go up against that one, DC's strongest franchise still. Ant-Man 2 maybe?


The first real Jurassic Park poster since 2001. And it's both beautiful and bad news. Of course, this is a great mix between the old - the thrashed Explorer vehicle, the beloved Velociraptor, the Isla Nublar setting - and the new - Jurassic World being built on the bones of the previous park in the background, but it also displays a disturbing, deeply rooted conservative attitude towards the JP dinosaurs. This is 2014. No respectable paleontologist will back that retro dinosaur as being an accurate representation of a Velociraptor. It worked in the early Nineties, but today's Raptors don't have arms like that and they are covered in feathers. However, Colin Trevorrow seems more adamant to recapture the glory of the first Jurassic Park film by reintroducing that vintage dinosaur look than by adhering to one of the elements that made JP great: making realistic animals of what otherwise would have been typical movie monsters. Say about Jurassic Park III's narrative quality what you will, at least it dared to show progression by adding feathered dinosaurs, and thus up-to-date science, to the mix. It would be a definite step back if Trevorrow chickened out on that just because audiences didn't think that much of JP III. Why? Because JP's representation of dinosaurs resonates strongly through popular culture. It's basically the dinosaur franchise that all others tend to copy. So if JP gets it wrong (and they admittedly have a few times), others will copy those mistakes and audiences are spoon fed the wrong notions about actual dinosaur looks and behavior. After two decades, Dilophosaurus is finally showing signs of ridding itself of that nonsensical neck frill and venom spitting action in the collective mind of the general audience. Does Trevorrow mean to reuse such silly concepts too, just because they look cool? If so, Jurassic World's dinosaurs are just that indeed: living theme park monsters, not actual animals. Maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions here though. I know that Raptor image on the poster is copied from a still of the kitchen scene from the first movie. It's probably too early to apply one of the final dinosaur designs for Jurassic World on any promotional material yet. So for now I'll keep my faith in Trevorrow. And I want one of those posters, but I'm not gonna get it as I don't care to visit San Diego just to pick one of these up.


Benedict Cumberbatch adds another socially awkward genius to his repertoire. This time it's Alan Turing. And once again he excels in playing such a character, it would appear. This trailer makes me very interested about the actual movie. There's some terrific actors in there and a fascinating historical background to serve as a dramatic narrative. I'm not at all familiar with the director - the Norwegian Morten Tyldum - but this type of film seems to suit him. Or the studio's had some great trailer editors working on it, that's also a possibility. And already there is Oscar buzz generated around this film. Kinda obvious; solid actors, war story, gay emotional conflict, all typical Academy Award ingredients. I'm always put off by people dropping the word 'Oscar' around a movie that is still so far from its release date. It goes to show just what a political game the Oscars are. Then again, people suggested Oscar buzz for The Monuments Men well in advance too, but they haven't been doing that again since its release. Was it because it was a disappointing movie, or maybe because there was no homosexual aspect to any of it? Nevertheless, this trailer suggests a good film to me, so until I see it in theaters, that will suffice. But I'm not prematurely jumping on the Oscar bandwagon until the nominations are in. I am increasingly getting in on the Cumberbandwagon though. Ever since Sherlock, I developed a much more appreciative sentiment towards the man, and I'm even willing to forgive him his transgressions partaking in the further exploitation of the Star Trek franchise.


Speaking of exploitation, Star Wars has experienced that ever since 1978. And since Disney has bought the franchise, exploitation has been turned up a few notches. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Disney scrapped the then running animated series The Clone Wars and is now replacing it by Star Wars Rebels, which is... another animated series from the same creators! And it's set only a few years after Clone Wars, allowing the series to reintroduce some of that show's characters (like Obi-Wan Kenobi, as this new trailer shows). Other than that, the sense of adventure in a war torn galaxy remains the same, though this series does go for a slightly younger target audience. However, both this show and its predecessor feature a young Force sensitive protagonist, while the style of animation hasn't changed a bit. It basically makes you wonder why Disney didn't just pick up with Clone Wars where it left off. It makes little difference to me. I didn't watch Clone Wars, I have little interest in Rebels either. I prefer to stick to the big screen, even though I'm dreading what J.J. Abrams is doing to the franchise.

zondag 20 juli 2014

Today's veritable cascade of news

So much news, so little time to comment on it all here:


A typical post 9/11 tale of inspirational courage and the folly of terrorism, if you ask me. Nothing wrong with that, just a fairly predictable event. We've seen movies like these before, and we'll witness them again after each attack on everyday America. I must say, they wasted no time on this one. The Boston Marathon bombing occurred just over a year ago and a movie is already in the works. Can you imagine how quickly the novel it was based on was written and released. By comparison, movies dealing with 9/11 took a lot longer to arrive in theaters, with the best known examples, United 93 and World Trade Center, both being released in 2006. That's a five year gap right there. No offense to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, but 9/11 was naturally a much more shocking and emotionally costly experience for the majority of the American population. Maybe Americans have since gotten used to this sort of thing - which nobody should, of course - and thus need less time to personally deal with the shock of the aftermath of such atrocities. Or maybe Hollywood just takes less time to capitalize on homeland terrorist attacks. For no matter how respectfully and sensitively they handle the subject matter, it's honestly not all about spreading the word of hope when movies like these get made. Money remains ever an objective.


Here I go again, spoiling a much anticipated movie for myself by posting new news about it online. Comes with the territory, I won't deny. I'd be pretty lousy at my job as a news editor (voluntary though it may be) if I skipped out on certain bits of news just because I don't want to know about them myself. Especially if they seemingly give away much of the plot of a movie many are anxious to see. Which appears to be just what this bit of marketing for Jurassic World is doing. You've got a list of dinosaurs that could - though not necessarily will - make an appearance, as well as various locations and set-ups that will be seen throughout the movie as the prehistoric inmates chase their human snacks around. And you have the final confirmation of Isla Nublar as the place where it all goes down, as such firmly establishing a link to the first Jurassic Park movie. It's now up to the fans to speculate what areas and species will and won't make it into the final product. I think it's safe to say Metriacanthosaurus won't make an appearance... again, as its existence was also hinted at in the original 1993 movie when Nedry stole its embryo: I'd say this is just a neat little nod to the original film on the writers' part. Similarly, Baryonyx and Suchomimus look so much alike, at least one of them won't make the cut (or maybe both, as each of them also looks a lot like JP III's Spinosaurus). The only species nobody can deny will be used in the final film is Mosasaurus, as the brochure also reveals it has its own underwater observatory, which is just too cool a notion not to make use of. Plus, marine reptiles is something none of the previous movies utilized, so it would make for an action scene the like of which has not been seen before. Of course you can complain about the logistics of acquiring Mosasaur DNA, which I won't (as I know a way they could have gotten hold of that, do you?). Compared to this Jurassic World Lagoon, it's likely we won't be seeing the Aviary, as that concept was already made use of in Jurassic Park III, which would make it repetitive in this scenario. This also makes it less likely we'll be seeing either Pteranodon or Dimorphodon. What we will be seeing is T-Rex, that's a given. Maybe eating rich tourists on the 18-hole golf course, that might be fun. For everything this brochure spoils about the movie, there's an equal amount of information that is left out. For one thing, the genetically enhanced theme park monster super predator - the 'Diabolus Rex', as it was called in previous rumours - discussed by director Colin Trevorrow on earlier occasions is not mentioned here. It's likely they try to keep that a secret for as long as they can, at least to those who have missed the director's notes of two months past. And where's our good ol' pals the Velociraptors in all this?


And there's another spoiler for you: the look of the titular villain in the second Avengers installment. Though, if you're a fan of the Marvel comics, it is not that much of a spoiler, as the cinematic Ultron apparently doesn't differ much from the one seen on paper since 1968. More surface detail has been added, making him kinda look like a Michael Bay Decepticon, though most anthropomorphic killer robots tend to look like that, but otherwise he appears to be similar in shape and size to his comic counterpart. Unless he's holding four additional arms or something behind Cap and Iron Man's back, but let's not run rampant in speculation about what we don't get to see based on just this one preview. For in Ultron's case, we'll have to make do with just this single picture for now (nevermind his minions in the background). A few more official movie stills were simultaneously released in this issue of Entertainment Weekly, but they contain little new noteworthy information. We already knew what Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver - the second one on the big screen, and admittedly it's gonna be hard to make us forget Evan Peters' fabulous take on the character in X-Men: Days of Future Past - looked like. We didn't know Don Cheadle was in the film though, likely not only replacing his role as Jim Rhodes, but also as his armoured alter ego War Machine. That's another Avenger to add to the mix, making for a confirmed total of ten. Coupled with at least two baddies (Ultron and Baron Von Strucker) and the continuing S.H.I.E.L.D. shenanigans of Nick Fury, it looks like this is gonna be another crowded superhero epic. But in an ensemble movie, that is to be expected. As long as this movie delivers the same amount of fun as the previous flick did, I can live with some characters taking a backseat. I'm more concerned of weaving the story of Von Strucker's HYDRA plots, which involves the Maximoff twins, seemlessly together with the otherwise apparently unrelated story about Tony Stark designing a robot to assume his mantle of Iron Man, with that thought seriously backfiring on both him and humanity. Which in itself is a fairly natural flow from the events in Iron Man 3 and adequately alters Ultron's origins, as there's no Hank Pym around in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as of yet to design the genocidal android, as happened in the comics. I think the writers turned that story in the right direction though, as it now makes sense following on from Iron Man 3. And so far it looks like they're not gonna mess up Ultron as they did the Mandarin. Thankfully!


Good new poster, keeping in touch in terms of style with its predecessors the way we like. Art is not the issue here, connecting the stories is. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is both a prequel and a sequel to the original 2005 movie. On the one hand it tells the story behind Dwight's facial alteration, which precedes his story line in Sin City, where his character was played by Clive Owen as opposed to Josh Brolin, pictured above. On the other, it deals with Nancy's quest for vengeance after Hartigan's demise. As you can see from above, Nancy already took a few hits killing her way to the corrupt top levels to expose the Roarke empire's crimes. At the same time, Hartigan is also seen on the poster, despite his death previously. Judging from what little we saw in the trailer, he's a spectre of his former self, plaguing Nancy's mental health. Marv (Mickey Rourke) is back as well, even though he too failed to live through the events of the previous movie, hinting he'll be part of Dwight's back story, or possibly his own. How to make narrative sense of this all? It seems tough, and as a result I think this movie will serve better as a compendium piece to the first movie than as a standalone film (sucks for new audiences). But hey, as long as the visual flair is as stunning as before and there's plenty of pretty dames and tough men doing some sinning, eh? Let's hope that will be enough. Remember a not so positively received little movie called The Spirit that seemed to think the same thing? You probably don't, nor should you.


Do we really need this? Do we really want this? 'No' on both fronts, but does Hollywood really care what we think if there's the possibility of making a little bit more money out of the franchise? There's another 'no' for you. Besides, the Japanese original Ringu had three sequels, so we're still two behind. It's been nearly ten years since the last activity on the American Ring franchise, so it seems overly late for a sequel or a prequel. A reboot seemed more obvious, though I'm glad they didn't opt for that (though they still might). I would have been more glad if they spend their money and effort elsewhere altogether on something more imaginative, but sadly, studio executives always fail to ask me for my opinion first. So far, this has all the makings of a studio cash cow as opposed to an honest attempt of making a worthwhile successor (or predecessor, in terms of story) to the previous two movies. I'd be very surprised if we'll end up seeing Naomi Watts reprise her role for this one. Though that is probably why it's gonna be a prequel, so she won't have to. Smart thinking.

dinsdag 15 juli 2014

Today's News: Hellboy 3 has gone to hell

Sad news today, as this reached my ears and accordingly, my pen:


I really hoped a Hellboy 3 would find its way into production some day. Both the director of the first two movies (Guillermo del Toro) and its principal star (Ron Perlman) remained genuinely enthusiastic about making a third movie, which is not something you often see in Hollywood after two previous installments (when the creative novelty had decidedly worn off). But now it seems reality has caught up with them and those scores of fans who cherished the notion of giving this particular devil his further due. In hindsight it's kind of a miracle we even got a second movie (and what a great movie that was, surpassing its predecessor on every level!). The first movie didn't do so well in theaters, but made a tidy profit as a home cinema release. Didn't stop studio Sony from denying Del Toro a second go at the big red ape, at which point studio Universal took over the project which became the phenomenal Hellboy II: The Golden Army.  History repeated itself as once again profits were only reaped from the DVD sales as opposed to the theatrical release. And now that the safety net of the home cinema market has disappeared as DVD/Blu-Ray sales keep deteriorating, what studio would burn its hands on a franchise that proved a box office failure twice before for two different studios? The answer is: none. And Del Toro has come to terms with that. Even though he remains a popular director in Hollywood, he's not yet one of those grand director/producer big shots who can do as whatever the hell they please, like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson. In fact, the studio system is slowly but surely imploding, making it increasingly harder even for such big industry names to follow their cinematic dreams, faced with the financial realities as they ever more often are (case in point, Spielberg's Robopocalypse).

It's a damn shame a wonderful character like Hellboy has fallen prey to such depressing reality checks as well. Hellboy II: The Golden Army was a definite step up in every way from the first film, which I can only describe as 'good enough' in comparison. Plus, there was definitely an ungoing character story going on between the titular character and his highly flammable girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) on the one side and Hellboy's undeniably dark nature on the other, that warranted a resolution. It has been hinted on several occasions throughout the movies that Hellboy, despite all his intents and purposes to do so, could not escape his diabolical destiny and was forced to become a force of evil of sorts sooner rather than later. It would have been a great operatic, though admittedly unusually dark and depressing, turn of events for this otherwise fairly light hearted and good humoured series. Which of course entirely fits into Del Toro's oeuvre, riddled as it is with such ungoing dichotomies between both sides of the human moral condition. Plus loads of awesome monsters, both latex and digital, to grace the silver screen and freak the bejeesus out of audiences. Exactly what makes Del Toro's movies such fun, that ever intriguing combination of soulful, heartfelt human drama and moody monstrous atmosphere. Too bad we won't be likely to see Hellboy serve in such capacity no more. Oh well, there's still plenty of other projects on Del Toro's slate. Pacific Rim 2 maybe? Less story, more monster action. These days, we'll have to take whatever we can get.

zondag 13 juli 2014

Jurassic Park III: Dilophosaurus

Year of release: 2001

Description: this dinosaur is a slender bipedal carnivore with a very characteristic head, sporting two ridges above the snout. Also, the large frill, which was a made up feature for the Dilophosaurus in the first JP movie, makes it easily recognizable. The figure stands in an almost stalking mode, with its body and tail bent, its legs wide apart, and its jaws open. The figure has a large dino damage wound, showing bones and muscles, on its left side, with a button in it, which produces a screaming hiss. Also, a lever is located on its back: when pulled the figure slashes its arms and makes another hissing and rattling attack roar. A black JP III logo can be found on its left leg. It’s coloured in various green tones, mostly dark green, but with several lighter green stripes. It has a large white stripe running from its tail to the crests on its head. Some minor grey can be found on its belly. The underside of the frill is coloured in almost exactly the same tone of darker green with lighter green stripes, while its upper side is a dazzling display of various tones of green, accompanied by four red twirled stripes. Its claws are black, and for once they didn’t forget to paint the tiny claws on the side of each foot.

Analysis: this is a damn crappy figure. Most of the positive aspects all have a negative aspect undermining them. The colours aren’t very bad, though the green gets monotonous. The head looks pretty cool, though it’s a shame the mouth can’t be closed. Not having forgotten to paint the claws is a positive point, but because of the hideous violent outburst of green it’s hardly noticeable. The sounds are pretty good, and very similar to the sounds the Dilophosaurus in JP made. But that’s where it ends as far as positive attributes are concerned. The rest basically sucks.
First of all: the pose this figure has taken on. Its legs are very wide apart and the figure stands in a bent position. This makes it hard for the figure to stand up straight, especially because the frill makes it heavier on the front side. The only way it can stand up is for the head to point straight upwards, making the figure look ridiculous.
Second of all, and most aggravating: the frill. It’s very disappointing, and sadly enough it can’t be removed (unless you slightly customize it, which I reckon a lot of people might have done). The only thing you can do with the frill is move it up and down the neck a bit. Strangely enough, the frill points outwards instead of inwards, unlike the frill we saw on the Dilophosaurus in the first movie, like they put it on backwards. Even worse is the fact the frill hinders the playability of the dinosaur action.
Which brings us to the third point: the dinosaur’s arm attack action. By pulling the little lever on the back the arms move up and down, but they are too short to stick out from under the frill, so it doesn’t look very scary, dangerous or convincing. A shame, because the accompanying sound is pretty cool.
Fourth and last point: the dino damage. Like all Hasbro figures sporting dino damage, it can’t be covered up, so this dinosaur has a large open wound on its chest all the time. Which is pretty irritating. The Dilophosaurus was a pretty cool dinosaur in the first movie, even though some of its features (its frill and its spitting venom, which we fortunately don’t see with this figure) were made up. But Hasbro totally and truly screwed this dinosaur up.

Playability: very limited. Like mentioned above the frill stands in the way of the dinosaur attack action and the position the creature takes on also isn’t a plus. Its arms and legs are poseable though, but that’s it. It would have been a lot better had Hasbro decided to make a removable frill, but for some reason which is totally beyond me they didn’t. Nothing a good pair of scissors can’t fix though…

Realism: despite all its flaws this creature is easily recognizable as the Jurassic Park version of a Dilophosaurus. Its head is a dead giveaway, and both the hissing sounds and the frill show us the designers of this toy didn’t forget the dinosaurs from the first movie. The colours are different from the ones that dinosaur sported though. As is the size, but the Dilophosaurus in JP was probably a juvenile, because a real Dilophosaurus could still grow to six metres in length. So in comparison to the human figures from the JP III toy line this figure isn’t far off as far as size is concerned. Real Dilophosaur fossils show no evidence of members of this species spitting venom or having large frills though: that’s all fiction. But the two crests are accurate. Incidentally, there was no Dilophosaurus in JP III.

Repaint: no. Not surprisingly, this figure wouldn't be repainted until JP 2009 came along (featuring an altogether different paint job, but sadly not improving the figure itself).

Overall rating: 3/10. Due to its ridiculous pose, awkward frill which can’t come off, and limited playability this sculpt is one of Hasbro’s worst dinosaur figures. Even the few positive attributes can’t help it be better. It’s not rare, so should you want one you’ll find it easily, but be warned: it’s not worth much. At all.

zaterdag 5 juli 2014

Today's Triple News: Dawn of Superman's Odyssey

News! News! We got news here!:


We already got a small tease of Ben Affleck's Batman (with Batmobile!) for DC's upcoming superhero extravaganza, now it's the Man of Steel's turn. Good timing, as fanboys were about done nitpicking over every conceivable little detail of that one released picture, so now they can drool over another one for a month or so. There's little to go on here though, as the only really bit of news it contains is that Superman (Henry Cavill again) will visit Gotham City. A likely event, considering the title Batman v Superman (Dawn of Justice, etc.). Of course, you can argue that Batman might have traveled to Metropolis (which he still may), but Superman is the once who's faster than a speeding bullet which allows him to travel the globe in the blink of an eye so it's easier (and proably less strainful on the budget) for him to do so. Otherwise, not that much of note here. The Superman costume has scarcely changed from the previous movie. Gotham looks a bit bleaker and more Gothic in appearance than it did in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, but that was to be expected, as this movie would turn more to the pages of the comics in an attempt to set itself apart stylistically from those exquisite films, as well as from the sunnier, brighter city of Metropolis with which it will share the screen. The big question this picture hints at first and foremost is one of a story nature: what is Superman doing in Gotham? Once again turning to the title (as there's little else to go on at present), the most in you-face answer is he'll be getting into fisticuffs with Batman. Next question then is, why will they fight? And that leads to more questions, and so on and so on. Which ensures fans will have plenty of material to debate until the next photo is released. Good thing too, as they still need to wait two more years for the definitive answers.


Interesting director's choice in this politically tense day and age. Art adheres not to the borders of man, especially when loads of money are involved. Will it be good art though (if there even is such a thing)? Bondarchuk's epic love story Stalingrad met with rather mixed reviews, though its accoloades include highest grossing film in Russia and first non-American film shot in IMAX 3D, thanks to its impressive visual effects which thoroughly suit that format. So, strong box office results for prior work, innovative international use of technology and experience with big budget spectacle, coupled with a chance to win favours with the Russian industry, all come with Bondarchuk, which are enough reasons to sway studio executives to hire him. In terms of story, the Odyssey has proven itself to hold up for several milennia, so it can survive this latest attempt no doubt. As for the execution, the visual side seems secure as far as the budget allows. As for the character side, therein lies the greatest challenge. I would suggest casting a solid, capable actor in the title role (as the movie is called Odysseus), and his name is Sean Bean. His take on Odysseus was one of Troy's redeeming features and I would love to see some more of that. Then again, it might not be such a good idea for Bondarchuk to suggest his film is a sequel to Troy, which it's not intended to be. Even though I get the feeling that final product was right up his alley in terms of directorial execution, as it was maligned for much the same reasons Stalingrad was (except for the absence of Orlando Bloom's poor acting skills).


I was already stoked for Dawn of the PotA (first few reviews are fortunately showered in praise!), so these three short films (collectively titled Before the Dawn) miss their mark in convincing me to go see a film I was already convinced to go see. Considering they are rather short on apes - silhouettes and sound effects is all we get - I don't think anybody watching them that didn't know another PotA film was coming feels the sudden urge to get in line for admission tickets. Their primary purpose seems to assure confused folks that missed the connection between both films have something to fall back on to enlighten them as what caused the abrupt and expansive change in status quo for both apes and humans. However, as is the case with any good viral marketing, this backstory can be missed when considering the movies proper. The information provided here serves as a decent background that does not need to be seen specifically to enjoy the motion picture experience. Nevertheless, they do add a little bit of sense and character to the rebooted Apes universe as a whole, even though the quality of these three films varies. The idea of staging the demise of human society over different time periods since the outbreak of the devastating simian flu plague is infective (obvious pun there, sorry). The first film is easily the weakest, just a quick piece intended to be emotionally charged but ending up rather dull. The second one spices things up considerably by comparison, showing just how seriously everyday life has changed in a brief timespan, while also introducing a new threat to the survivors that was absent from the first short but is of course what we'll all go and pay to see with most anticipation (apes, I mean). The third film, which is longer than the other two combined and therefore might be accused of having an unfair advantage to hook us in the most, is the most chilling, disturbing and dramatic of the trio. Which is a mean feat, considering it deals with an object more than it does with people, be they human or primates. It's a very imaginative and subtle yet effective way to show how much one side has deteriorated while another has risen, with both sides ending up in an existential state of balance. I doubt any of the characters introduced here, human or artificial, will end up playing a substantial role - more than a cameo, that is - in the upcoming theatrical movie proper, but they don't need to. Before the Dawn is just a neat and helpful bit of background story but if you don't know it's out there, it's not likely to diminish your viewing experiece of the movie it serves.

vrijdag 4 juli 2014

Today's Column: I have no translation for 'grabbelbak'

The month has just begun so here's a column for y'all:


The longer it has been since Free Record Shop closed, the more I start to realize how much I miss it. The number of sites where you can buy movies on DVD/Blu-Ray has decreased dramatically, while it seems a slow but sure increase in prices at the stores that are left is in process (I feared it would happen). What's more, the number of films available on home theater formats - and I don't mean the downloadable kind - is also dwindling rapidly. It has become increasingly problematic to find hidden gems, especially the kind I like that most people wouldn't consider to fit that bill (such as Return of the Fly, mentioned in this piece). Of course, if I do find such a title now the euphoria is all the more vigorous, but such occasions have become rare and will soon turn obsolete. The DVD Age was a good time for cinephiles, but that time has passed. So too wil the Blu-Ray Age, which delivered superior quality but less diversity in terms of total title output. I'll cherish the memories of both, while I'll put off the inevitable Online Age for as long as I can, as is basically my wont for any scary new media these days. But hey, at least I jumped on the Blu-bandwagon earlier than most.

donderdag 3 juli 2014

Jurassic Park III: Alpha Velociraptor

Year of release: 2001

Description: this colourful Raptor figure stands in a dramatic pose when it’s still in box, showing all its primal predator prowess, with its body straight upwards, its legs wide apart and its ferocious claws ready for battle action. The lower part of the body is predominantly grey with brown stripes, while the upper part of its body is mostly brown. This creature has a large red stripe running across its back, with two bluish purple stripes running on each side of this red stripe from the neck to the base of the tail: here a dino damage wound is located, showing some of its tail bones. On its back this creature has a small red lever, activating the dino attack action, namely slashing claws. The animal has red hands with black claws on both its fingers and toes. It has rather large feet. Unlike previous Raptor figures this sculpt has some red feathers on the back of its head, following the design change of the JP III Raptors. It also has two red nasal ridges on each side of its head. Its mouth is opened, showing its tongue and some lovely teeth: the mouth can’t be closed. On its right leg it has a black JP III logo, which is hardly noticeable because of the brown paint. This Raptor has bright orange eyes.

Analysis: this isn’t a great Raptor figure. It’s disproportional: both its feet and head are too big. It stands in an awkward pose with its legs wide apart, making it look rather fat. The head is turned to the right and can’t be turned another way, while its mouth can’t be closed. This severely limits playability. The paint job is way too colourful: even though the JP III Raptors had more colour than the Raptors in the previous movies, it wasn’t this extreme. The Raptor might be good for dioramas, but not much else.
The sounds are pretty good, and the attack screech is easily recognizable as a Raptor sound. The dino damage sound is a bit odd though: it’s a sort of rasping noise, not something one would normally associate with a Raptor. But still pretty cool. The attack action is similar to the one of the Dilophosaurus from this toy line: by pulling the lever the arms slash back and forth. It works pretty good, but it’s nothing special. Again, the dino damage wound cannot be covered somehow, so this dinosaur carries an open wound all the time, like all the larger dinosaurs of this toy line. It’s a real shame.

Playability: like stated above, the odd stance of this figure hinders playability. Though its limbs are poseable, its head and mouth unfortunately aren’t. Also, its tail is positioned in a bent pose, and not in a more neutral way. Also, because of the electronics you can’t play too rough with it if you want to keep it in working order. And beware the nasal ridges; they’re quite fragile and break off easily.

Realism: the colours are similar to those of the male alpha Raptor seen in JP III, but only slightly. Because of the disproportional body parts and the inconvenient position of this figure, it doesn’t resemble the JP III Raptors that much. Also, it doesn’t resemble the other Raptors of the JP III toy line a lot either, mostly because they all have different paintjob. Put them all together and you have a very colourful bunch of overgrown turkeys. This Raptor is also way too big compared to the human figures of this toy line, especially considering the Velociraptors are already oversized in the JP franchise. This figure doesn’t look much like a paleontologically correct Raptor either.

Repaint: no. This figure would be repainted four times, for the Camo-Xtreme, JP Dinosaurs 2 and 3 and JP 2009 toy lines though, in even funkier colours.

Overall rating: 5/10. It’s not a great figure and could have been better. None of the JP III Raptors are really good though. It’s not rare, so you can find it easily and probably cheap too, if you want one.