Crunchy Pants

STOMPADON

If you’ve ever attended a Super Art Fight at the Ottobar, you know what this cutie is. For the rest of you, Stompadon is a character/persona created by Kelsie Wailes. When Stompadon takes the stage, art fighters tremble with fear. Stompy’s win record is quite impressive making the beast one of our fiercest competitors. And cutest!

Ever since Kelsey put on the blue monster head, I’ve been wanting a plush version to protect my home from the terror of the Grumpasaurus. Fortunately, enough people bugged her for Stompadon plushies that she actually got a prototype made! It’s absolutely adorable. If you’d like one of your very own, she’s raising money through Kickstarter to fund a proper production run. If you’re an early adopter, you can bring home your very own Stompadon for $20. There are 33 slots left as of this writing so you better hurry. When the $20 slots fill up, you can still get just the plushie for $25.

The campaign ends January 17 so there’s plenty of time to claim a Stompadon. The Kaiju style art print that Kelsey drew is absolutely wonderful. And the little clay versions are the cutest. So what are you waiting for? We can’t let 2013 fall to the sadness of the Grumpasaurus. We must have our Stompadon army! Check out the page for photos of the rewards.

Lady Vastra And Her Companions, Good Lord

This prequel to the Doctor Who Christmas Special demonstrates the absolute perfection of a Lady Vastra, Jenny, and Strax spin-off series. Seriously, I can’t get enough of the three of them investigating crimes in Victorian England.

The Christmas Special airs Christmas Day on BBC America at 9pm and BBC One at 5:15pm GMT.

The Hobbit: An Unfinished Journey

Thorin, Oakenshield
It’s rare that I am able to convince friends to come with me on a midnight journey to see a film on opening night, especially when we all have to go to work the next morning. Yet there we were, five intrepid souls siting in extra comfy seats waiting with great anticipation to see ten minutes of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Oh, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Let me get this out of the way now. Tolkien’s universe is devoid of minorities and extremely light on female representation. Were it up to him, The Hobbit would be a homogeneous sausage-fest of dude bros. The screen writers saw fit to include Galadriel in the film in a scene that doesn’t happen in the book just make believe that women had a place in Middle Earth. Cate Blanchett completely owns the screen, but for the most part, this is a movie about dude bros bro-ing out as hard as they can. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun.  It’s not like I spent the entire film yelling at the screen for not including any women or minorities in the cast. But in a magical world of fantasy, it’s a little boring that aside from height variations and clothing, all of our heroes kind of look the same.

With that caveat, here are my thoughts. There my be some spoilers, but really, this book is 75 years old, there’s the cartoon movie from 1977, and you’ve probably read it in your mythology classes at some point.

Story Within a Story

One of my favorite literary devices is when characters tell each other stories. It happens a few times during the course of the movie.  The film opens with the older Bilbo that we met in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, played by Ian Holm, sitting down to write about his first great adventure. It’s a wonderful way to tie the character to the Lord of the Rings.

Later, on the trail to the Lonely Mountain, Balin tells the story of how Thorin got his title “Oakenshield.” It’s my absolute favorite part of the movie. It’s a powerful story that explains a great deal about why I want to call him Thorin Evergrim. The guy never smiles.

We get another story from Radagast the Brown, a wizard who watches over the green forest. He recounts his encounter with an evil force that heralds something much darker than anyone can imagine. But these are rumblings of things to come in the next two films.

Hobbits Are Invisible

Though the book and this movie are both ostensibly Bilbo’s tale, I really felt more of a connection with Thorin. This seemed more like Thorin’s story than Bilbo’s which speaks to one of the major problems of this film. It felt a bit sprawling and unfocused and Bilbo kind of got lost in all the confusion. Certainly, his scenes with Golum are the stuff of performance legend, but even then, Golum stole the spotlight away from our clever, yet trixy hobbitses.

Still, I think Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo. I love his facial expressions. You can see the internal conflict in his eyes, that desire to live a simple life battling with the pull of adventure. I’m hoping he’ll take more of a central role in the next film because he’s doing some amazing things with Bilbo.

Baaaa, baba baaaa, baba baaaa, Duna naaaa, nana naaaa, nana naaaa

Though we don’t get to hear the fanfare from the Lord of the Rings trilogy that I’ve been humming the entire weekend, some of the audio cues hearken back to that original trilogy. The violin solo we hear whenever anyone talks about the ring itself finds its way into The Hobbit. And the dark horn call we hear when the uruk hai are on screen is echoed when we see warg-mounted orcs.

The main theme is taken from the song the dwarfs sing in this trailer:

It’s haunting and sorrowful. But it swells with power that seems so appropriate for the dwarfs.

RUN!

There’s a scene when the party runs away from all the goblins and I couldn’t help but thing, “haven’t we seen this before?” It will be a nice kind of book end that will visually tie this movie to the The Fellowship of the Ring, but I kind of felt meh about the bit. Also, the heavy use of CG in some parts jumped me out of the experience. I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that it was about 2:45am when it happened. Maybe it will be less annoying when seen altogether with all six movies (oh man, that’s going to be so much fun!), but it seemed a little, I don’t know, forced?

An Unfinished Journey

Overall, while I really enjoyed the movie, I felt like I didn’t see a self-contained film. Lots of dangling threads to tie up in the next two. I wonder what it was like for people who are completely new to the entire Tolkien film world because I just can’t judge it on its own. The end of the film didn’t really feel like an ending, more like a chapter break. And while I think it will work amazingly well when all three are seen in one nine hour marathon when they’re all complete, it left me wanting. I guess that’s a good thing because it virtually guarantees that I’ll be in line for a ticket when The Desolation of Smaug drops sometime next year.

With all its warts, I definitely think it’s worth seeing in the theater. The IMAX 3D experience is absolutely wonderful. It really draws you into the world. I didn’t see it in the new frame rate so I have no idea what that’s like. But this is the kind of movie that must be experienced in a theater. Perfect fun for the holidays.

2013, The Year The Earth Stood Still

2013 is shaping up to be an amazing year for blockbuster science fiction movies which feature our planet in various stages of decay or attack. We’ve got three trailers to drool over which I will be presenting in order from least exciting to OMFG!!!

After Earth

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

Will and Jaden Smith crash land on Earth that was abandoned by humanity 1000 years ago. Since then, “everything on the planet has evolved to kill humans.” It’s an M. Night Shyamalan movie which is unfortunate. His name causes my eyes to instinctively roll. But Will and son are excellent together on screen. Could the twist be that this movie is watchable?

Actually, one of the theories I’ve heard is that this is actually pre-historic Earth. It’s an interesting thought and there’s definitely evidence to support the claim. The Sabertooth Tiger and the apes look like their historic counterparts. The real twist will be if there isn’t a twist. I’m kind of looking forward to this, but I wouldn’t be sad if I saw this on video after the theater release.

Oblivion

Sixty years ago, the Earth was attacked. Though humanity won the war, the planet was devastated. Mankind evacuated the planet leaving the discarded husk of our home to the alien invaders. Um… exactly how is this winning? Anyway, Tom Cruise is sent back to Earth to repair a bunch of drones all over the planet that seek out and destroy any aliens left on the surface. Or so he’s been told.

Turns out that there are humans still living on the planet led by Morgan Freeman. Now I have a few theories on what’s going on here. If humanity really won the war, why abandon Earth? There must have been some sort of fucked up treaty with the alien race that allowed them to stay on the planet and have a few humans to hunt down and feed upon. And the drones are really there to keep humans in certain areas so that the aliens can farm them or hunt them or something. Alternatively, humanity left all the poor people on Earth to fend for themselves and claimed victory as a sort of retelling of history. We also get some glimpses of Tom in a city with people so a third possibility is that maybe he’s been frozen for a while and everything he’s been told is a complete lie and there’s some other shit going on.

Either way, there are a lot of mysteries that I think will be fun to see play out on screen. Tom is a pretty good action star and I love me some Morgan Freeman. I think I’ll definitely be buying tickets for this one in the theater.

Pacific Rim

What amazes me most about this trailer is that all of my friends are losing their shit over how amazing it is. Um… hello! This is basically an Ultraman movie without subtitles. Don’t get me wrong, this is a lot of fun and I will definitely be seeing it in the theater. In 3D. Like five times. At least. But it’s not that new to those of us who still watch Tokusatsu.

Certainly the production values are better than even the recent Ultraman movies. Warner Bros threw a lot of damn money at this thing and it really shows. What will set it apart from other toku movies is the plot. And honestly, we don’t watch these movies for the stories, so the bar is set pretty low. If the story delivers, if we’re given a compelling plot, if I actually give a shit about the human characters and don’t look at my watch waiting for the next giant kaiju/robot battle, this will be the giant monster film that will set a new standard. It’s going to be a lot of fun, no doubt. But will it be a good movie?

Pacific Rim, I will see you in the theater. And I will pay full price for your 3D. And popcorn. And drink. Also, you have Idris Elba who makes me swoon.

Will humanity survive 2013? Or will we fall to a murderous planet, alien/conspiracy/whatever, or kaiju from a portal of doom? All I know is that it’s going to be a great year for us sci fi geeks!

Through the Eyes of a Goomba

I’ve never thought twice about the Goomba I stomp whenever I play a Super Mario game. Those days are over thanks to Filipe Costa’s brilliant little “First Person Goomba” short. The poor guy’s life flashes before his eyes right before Mario takes him out. It’s touching yet ultimately heart-wrenching as we know the fate of all Goombas who go up against the mustached plumber.

Metal Gangnam Style

This is Matt Rach doing a metaltastic cover of PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” The laid back attitude mixed with the heavy riffs and minimalist video makes this cover absolutely perfect.

Still not tired of it, especially when it inspires awesomeness like this!

Because Capcom Loves You, STREET FIGHTER X MEGAMAN!

Megaman and Street Fighter celebrate 25 years of awesomeness in 2012. Street Fighter just wrapped up their anniversary a few months ago. Megaman kicks off his anniversary this month. And to kick off his celebration, Capcom decided to combine two great games into one, Street Fighter X Megaman! Well, really, they decided to throw the Street Fighters into a Megaman game. WHICH IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!

Eight Street Fighters get the Megaman 8-bit treatment with levels based on their fighting stages. This means Megaman will be getting eight new powers including Ryu’s fireball. It looks like a lot of awesome fun. And the best part, it’s free! Capcom will be releasing Street Fighter X Megaman for PC December 17. Kinda wish my PC didn’t die on me cause I really need to play this!

From: Capcom Unity

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