Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Don't Collect the Funko Sodas Much, but This One is Clever

I collect a lot less Funko Pops these days (focusing on specific lines I like) and don't really collect the Funko Sodas much even though they are snazzy. They are these little figures in faux-soda cans that you pop open and see if you got a regular figure or the rarer, "Chase." However, a new one is going to be bigger so instead of a can it will be in a, "3 Liter," bottle as can be seen above. That is cute and hilarious. It is, of course, the Wampa from, "The Empire Strikes Back," that finds itself on the wrong end of a lightsaber. Considering that is arguably the best, "Star Wars," film I would say a figure from it deserves a unique little soda bottle.

Monday, May 16, 2022

That Teaser For the New Predator Movie, "Prey," is Snazzy

I'm not going to get my hopes up too much over a 45-second teaser trailer, but the new Predator-themed movie titled, "Prey," does have a spiffy one. I am a big fan of the, "Alien," movies as well as the, "Predator," ones so it pains me sometimes to admit both have had more medicore-to-bad flicks than good--including the ones where they fight (although the first AVP is kind of dumb fun). Here is the teaser:

The last movie to feature a Predator was simply titled, 'The Predator," and reading the behind-the-scenes drama about how it got made was more interesting than the movie itself. Then there were rumors a movie about a Comanche warrior facing off against a monster was secretly a Predator movie from a director known for liking to keep his flicks kind of secretive, Dan Trachtenberg of the mostly-good-till-the-end, "10 Cloverfield Lane.

I am all for a Predator-themed movie set in the past that tosses out a bunch of the extra continuity we got in, "Predators," or, "The Predator," and just focuses on what the first two movies did well--a creepy alien hunting people in an extremely unfair manner thanks to all its weaponry. I can't say for sure if, "Prey," will do that, but if it does then it already has a big leg-up over a chunk of the other Predator films. We shall see when it premieres (on Hulu of all places) this coming August 5th.

I Tried Nitro Pepsi Draft Cola and it Was Definitely...Different

I generally don't like Pepsi. It just is not a beverage I'm a fan of drinking. That said, I love a good gimmick soda and when I heard Pesi was doing, "Nitro Draft Cola," in a manner riffing on those Nitro coffees folks love, I was down to give it a taste. I sampled the Vanilla one and my overwhelming response is a shrug followed by an, "Eh?" It wasn't bad, it just seemed like Pepsi that was really foamy (with some vanilla in this version) and otherwise, it was uninspiring. If you love Pepsi this might be a drink you adore, but those who are Pepsi haters such as myself are not going to be converted. Now, if they made a Nitro Coca-Cola I'd be quite interested, but as of now, that's just going to be a daydream.

2 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fan Expo Saint Louis 2022 Thoughts

Have you ever been really excited about going to something but then once it happens, you feel kind of let down and realize it isn't your scene? I attended the Fan Expo Saint Louis (formerly known as Wizard World) and imagine people who went for things different than what I was after enjoyed it. If you want to wait in a line to see a celebrity and pay for them to sign a picture of themselves, then this show had you covered. I just said hello to Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario whom I've met before) because he's a cool guy, Jason Mewes because he also is a cool guy (we've chatted at other shows), and met Carl Weathers as the line wasn't too long for him and he was nice too. 

There were plenty of vendors, but almost none with actual comics. There were maybe three vendors with some comic books--it was slim pickings. There were a couple booths selling Funk Pops, so that was fun, but otherwise, it was lots of random booths with those obnoxious, "Mystery boxes," of junk, cosplay props, random knick-knacks, and maybe one booth with like cool old toys and such. Maybe I'm just jaded from all the great local shows full to the brim with awesome stuff for sale, but this was not a show to go to if you were after comics, toys (besides Funko Pops), or collectibles, and that's what I really like at cons. It was a bummer.

The saving grace for me (in terms of something fun) would be the artist alley. There were lots of awesome creators from bigger names to smaller ones. I got to see Jae Lee, Peter Tomasi, Tony Harris, Michael Golden, Ariel Diaz, Howard Mackie, Talen Caldwell, and more. That was neat to see a chunk of folks behind an assortment of cool comics and chat with them. They had lots of neat comics of their own for sale and original artwork and prints as well.

If you're someone who is big on the whole concept of, "Wow, famous people!" and the cult of celebrity as opposed to just thinking of them as regular humans who are known for acting in stuff, then as I said you probably would love this Fan Expo. That isn't a draw for me, however, and the lack of merchants selling actual stuff that I was after resulted in me just kind of milling about the one thing that did interest me--artist alley. Besides being able to admire some great artwork and compliment creators on the comics they've made that I have enjoyed I was just mostly bored. There was so much at Fan Expo in terms of booths, yet so little of it interested me. 

Assuming Fan Expo returns next year I'll probably sit it out and instead focus on other shows I'm more into like ToyMan, QuadCon, and so forth. At least the Saint Louis Comic-Con (which is oddly enough held in Saint Charles) is coming up in June and that's always a fun time. I guess I'm just not the demographic for what Wizard World morphed into. As I said, I'm sure other people loved this Fan Expo Saint Louis, but my highlight of the day was when I stepped out from the show and tried the, "Hi-Pointe," restaurant located nearby. That place was legit and after enjoying their food I can see why they've opened multiple locations in the area. Anyways, the show goes through Sunday if you're around the STL region and want to check it out. I'll be up to other things.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Flashback/Film Friday: Considering the Varying Tones of the, "Friday the 13th," Franchise

Today is, in fact, May 13th and it is a Friday. It is Friday the 13th.  The origins of why the day is considered unlucky have variations, but nowadays folks just find themselves wary upon any Friday the 13ths. I have never found I have especially bad luck on such a day and instead associate it with one of my favorite horror franchises. Yes, "Friday the 13th," is quite the storied line, with essentially 12 movies that feature the branding or star the slasher, Jason Vorhees. Interestingly enough, the movies don't just vary immensely in quality (as to be expected), they have intriguingly different tones flick-by-flick.

The first, "Friday the 13th," barely has Jason, he's more of a victim than anything. His mother is the killer and folks forget that. The flick is creepy and eerie with brief moments of gore but nothing like some of the later films. "Part II," introduces Jason as the killer and is also a creepy and dark yarn. "Part III," was originally in 3D and relies on some lame kills that maybe looked better with that effect but frankly I find the third entry to be dull (the jokes fall flat as well) and only notable as the entry in the franchise that introduces Jason's famous hockey mask. Thankfully, "Part IV: The Final Chapter," is my second favorite of films, giving us characters we actually care about in a story that is entertaining. Up to this point the movies have been relatively minimalist horror films, a gross-out misfire, and another solid entry. The tone hasn't shifted much, yet, but it does before long.

Let's not talk about the fifth film, "A New Beginning," much as it is boring and reveals the killer isn't even Jason. It tries to be a slow burn of creepiness but is drab. However, then we hit, "VI: Jason Lives," which is awesome. Part VI hits the perfect tonal balance of some horror, some humor, a helping of fun action scenes, and just is a treat to watch. Suddenly everything gets a bit science-fiction with, "VII: The New Blood," as it is basically, "What if a girl with telekinesis like Carrie fought Jason?" It isn't bad, it is just strange. "VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan," is basically just Jason killing folks in gruesome ways on a boat with a few minutes actually spent in New York City. It tries to be funny at points but marks--in my opinion--the point the franchise started going downhill.

"Jason Goes to Hell," is the ninth film. I've discussed before how it is awful. It starts with a promising idea--Jason is actually killed by a Government task force--but then goes off the rails with the introduction of magical possession, Jason having a secret sister, horrendously lame humor, weak special effects, and it just sucks. It is followed by, "Jason X," which imagines Jason in space, and if you take it as it is--a dumb silly movie mixing sci-fi with jokes--it isn't awful. The incredibly mediocre, "Freddy vs. Jason," only works as well as it does thanks to the power of nostalgia and mixes the silly-and-scary to a decent degree as it tones down both characters' weirder aspects to make them mesh together in a single film as they go head-to-head.

In 2009 there was a reboot of sorts simply titled, "Friday the 13th." It was completely unremarkable and not bad, I just remember basically zero things about it. It was just a generic horror movie with Jason wedged into it. That's been it since then as the franchise had some legal disputes over the rights. Whether we ever get another, "Friday the 13th," remains to be seen, but it would be ironic if the unkillable Jason were finally stopped by intellectual property disputes. As it is, the franchise leaves behind an interesting assortment of films.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

"Grim," #1 is a Great Start to the Latest Big BOOM! Release

The publisher BOOM! has put out a number of quality titles for some years now with, "Something is Killing the Children," being one of their most massive hits lately. The next big release is unrelated to that Universe but also has a bit of a snazzy horror vibe. Titled, "Grim," it gives us a lot to chew on in a jam-packed first issue that left me eager to read more. Sometimes comics get going too slowly, but, "Grim," just hits the ground running. Thanks for this is owed to writer Stephanie Phillips who isn't afraid to have us readers asking questions with answers coming (assumably) later. 

We are introduced to a grim reaper named Jessica Harrow who can't remember how she died but now, along with other reapers, claims souls who are dead. She takes one such recently deceased person over a River Styx of sorts to an otherworldly waiting room and then some other fun little plot twists happen to really pique our interest too. It was good stuff. 

Props are also due to Flaviano, the artist, and Rico Renzi, the colorist. The illustrations are fantastic, making the, "Real world," and the world of Death/afterlife/etc. both stand out as different and intriguing. The deep reds we often witness in the post-life realm are eerie and the supernatural elements coexist with the grounded stuff stupendously thanks to the art and colors. It's a gorgeous comic.

The first issue of, "Grim," gives us the basic plot, establishes some delicious mysteries, and has fantastic art and colors. It is a marvelous first issue and I look forward to seeing where the series goes. I give this debut...

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Happy National Twilight Zone Day!

I know sometimes it feels like we might be living in some version of The Twilight Zone, but today we actually kind of are! It is May 11th, National Twilight Zone Day! Created by Rod Serling, "The Twilight Zone," has had multiple iterations but I love the first series. Every episode is its own little yarn and while not every tale is a winner, many are amazing. A stellar piece of sci-fi (and sometimes dipping its toe in horror), "The Twilight Zone," inspired so many other people and stories--you've probably seen something that draws inspiration from, "The Twilight Zone," and have not even known it!

Why is May 11th the day we celebrate this show? Nobody seems to actually know. The reason it is today seems to be as mysterious as, "The Twilight Zone," itself. Whatever the reason, spend today watching some original episodes, the movie, or one of the rebooted versions if you'd like!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Television Tuesday: My Overall Thoughts on the, "Moon Knight," Show

Note: I spoil basically all the twists from the show in this post.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we will be getting another season of, "Moon Knight," or some kind of movie to flesh things out further. There were too many little things left unanswered and one really big moment in the post-credit scene. Plus, May Calamawy is too good when she beomces a hero, the Scarlet Scarab, to not bring her back in another, "Moon Knight," project or with her own show/movie! Yes, Marc's wife, Layla, becomes a hero that actually existed in the comics years ago (as a male), and she kicks butt. That's in the final episode, however, which I quite liked and was pleased tied everything together. Even if the last episode was quite good, how was the show overall? Odd, but I enjoyed it.

We honestly did not get a ton of Moon Knight in, "Moon Knight." Besides some suited-up action in the 2nd episode and a whole lot of him in the finale, the suit (or suits, as Steven wears the Mr. Knight outfit) was/were used sparingly. The show was instead an interestingly blend of genres as it told the story of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, seeming a bit like a wonky action-comedy with slight horror vibes in the first episode, turning into more of an adventure-filled romp for the second and third entry. I was enjoying the show through the first three episodes but not really finding my attention that piqued. Then things got very weird, and I liked that. Throughout it all Oscar Issac was amazing too, carrying the show through the duller times.

May Calamawy makes a great hero.

The fourth episode was filled with creepy tomb raiding before pulling the rug out from underneath all of us (when Marc/Steven seem to die) and putting Marc and Steven in a surreal psychological thriller mixed with a sci-fi afterlife via a kinda-sorta mental hospital. The fifth episode kept that vibe going and was really depressing as we saw all the trauma Marc went through and then genres switched again with the finale. Suddenly we have giant versions of Egpytian avatars fighting as if we were watching a Kaiju flick and the aforementioned moments of Layla becoming a hero happen as well as tons of kickass action. I was having a great time watching the final episode but felt a little annoyed when everything seemed to be wrapped up with a tidy bow. Then that scene happened after some credits with Jake Lockley and a big smile filled my face.

The, "Moon Knight," show has been quite different from the comics, but that's okay as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always tweaked a lot from the funnybooks they draw from. That said, Marc Spector has also had the alias/identities of Steven Grant plus Jake Lockley. The show hinted at Jake but never actually revealed him until that delicious last moment of the show where it turns out Jake has indeed been hanging around all along and is quite the troublemaker. Steven is quite different than in the comics and Jake seems a bit removed from his four-panel inspirations as well, but he still has the hat, so I'm happy. Seeing Jake raises a whole bunch of questions and I want to get some answers in a future season or movie! Plus, again, props are due to Oscar Issac for essentially playing two major roles in the form of Marc and Steven and then a third persona being added to the mix at the end just shows how much range Issac has. He and Calamawy did a ton of heavy lifting for the show and Ethan Hawke was a solid villain if a bit under-utilized considering how talented he is.

Oh snap, Jake Lockley!

In conclusion, "Moon Knight," was overall a good time that slowly turned into a great one. It dipped its toes in various genres and took a little bit to get going but as soon as it let itself get weird and trippy I was pleased. It is a little annoying how it starts strong, then drags a bit until the last third of the fourth episode, but it does eventually kick into a fantastic overdrive of bizarre and exciting from that ending of episode four and on. The entire show is worth watching, just be prepared to get through the duller moments for the really wild ones.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Honestly, Does Anyone Care About a New, "Avatar," Movie?

James Cameron made a film called, "Avatar." It was decently entertaining and had really good special effects but otherwise was quite forgettable. Many people said the plot was basically, "Dances with Wolves," and the dialogue and plot was clunky (they literally called the valuable mineral the humans were after unobtanium). "Avatar," was--for reasons still beyond me and others--a massive hit that made a ton of money. Then it barely left any kind of cultural footprint besides looking pretty. I seriously cannot member the names of any of the characters the actors played beyond the main one, Jake Sully. I only remember that because when I hear, "Sully," I think of the, "Monsters' Inc." movies. For years we were promised a sequel to, "Avatar," and everyone shrugged at the idea. Now, we have to face the fact that it is actually happening with, "Avatar: The Way of Water."

I saw the trailer for, "Avatar: The Way of Water," when I saw the new, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," flick. Upon watching the trailer all I could do was mutter under my breath, "Who is asking for this?" Here is the preview if you want to see it:

Yeah, that definitely looks like a movie. Not a movie that will necessarily be bad, by any means. It just looks like one that will have great effects and keep us busy for a couple hours...and then is promptly forgotten after a viewing. As you can tell, I'm not very enthusiastic about, "Avatar: The Way of Water," but it should be a perfectly fine movie. Just one nobody asked for.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Mother's Day to All the Moms and Mother Figures!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and mother figures out there. I love my mom, Ellen, and the mother of our son, Clarkson, the wonderful Samii. All of you mothers and those who have served a motherly role are awesome!