Well, well, well . . . it’s been a while since my last blog, and that’s because the end of summer/start of fall has been a friggin’ busy one! The weekend after my last blog we didn’t have much going on to start out, but on the Sunday we got up early and ran the Terry Fox Run, doing the full 10km. We then went out for a quick bite at Subway, which was inside a Mac’s Milk variety store, and whilst there I found one of those small, remote controlled helicopters I’ve always wanted for dirt cheap! And let me tell you, the thing works like butter, so smooth. We then raced home and got ready for the afternoon, as we were taking James to the Western Fair for a date with his little girlfriend, Addison. It was closing day so it was 2 for 1 rides, thus the place was packed with all manner of crazy people. The kids had fun though, and we even rode the Gravitron for the first time in many, many years.
The following weekend James and I were on our own for a bit of a boys’ weekend. On the Saturday a couple of mrs. darthcobain17’s friends from Hamilton came down, as one of them had to play in a soccer game at the university, due to the homecoming weekend. They then went for lunch, went shopping, and eventually headed downtown for dinner and some carousing. In the meantime James and I went to his golf lessons, then went to BestBuy to trade in some of his Kijiji money for Disney Infinity characters, got A & W for lunch, then went home to play games all afternoon, ending the day with some Kraft Dinner and a couple episodes of Inspector Gadget! On the Sunday mrs. darthcobain17 had a bridal shower to go to, so Jimmer and I took my car to the shop to get it’s emissions test, then met my dad at the pitch and putt course for 9 holes. Afterwards we all met at my parents’ house for dinner.
As for this past weekend, it was boys weekend at the cottage, oooooooohh yeah!! We got up there midday on Friday and then left Sunday morning. Let’s just say a ton of beer was drunk, along with some Caesars, and much smoke was inhaled to boot. We went fishing but didn’t catch anything, explored the remains of the “haunted house” that’s been abandoned up there for years, and our buddy Paul even brought his ATV so we took it out for some spins. The weather was probably the most beautiful it had been up there all summer, it was amazing. The best part was that it was fall sun, so I could be outside all day and not get sunburned! It had rained so much before we got up there that most of the docks were under water, and those that weren’t had busted loose and floated all over the lake. It was wild, there were docks everywhere, pedal boats, sailboats, even a loose SeaDoo floating in a bay all by it’s lonesome. It was like nothing I’d ever seen up there before. Such a fun weekend though, and a great way to end the summer.
As for the weekdays in between, the Monday after my last blog our pool closed, so that was depressing. But I was swimming in 61 degree water at that point, so I suppose it was time. I’ve been continuing to bike to work, James began Beavers again as well as his swimming lessons, and we had a couple nights of entertaining to do when the wife’s dad came down for an overnight and one of James’ friends from school came over for a play date. Thank the maker all this is over though, I need some routine and inaction back in my life! Anyhoo, amongst all this craziness I was able to get a shit load done, the gruesome details are as follows . . .
1) I completed the next series of my season on MLB 2K11, this time hosting the Minnesota Twins. The results were as such: won vs. Minnesota 13-4, won vs. Minnesota 8-3 & won vs. Minnesota 9-1.
2) On NHL ’04 I played the next four games of my season, which unfolded as so: won vs. Florida 15-5, won @ New York Rangers 10-1, won @ New York Islanders 8-3 & won @ Florida 11-1.
3) The jig is finally up for Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, as I was finally able to reach the end of that title! Picking up where I left off I was summoned to the Guardians’ chamber, where they informed me the collected data cores suggested the Manhunters had allied themselves with the Spider Guild of the Vega system . . . my job was to head to Vega and meet up with Sinestro. This led to the final level of the game, which unfolded on Vega. Upon my arrival the first task was to hack some security systems in order to access the lower levels. So I set out and made my way across the very natural, but also very insectile looking landscape. Along the way I took out tons of Manhunter troops and hacked my first computer system, before moving on and coming upon some spiders I had to dispose of. Not long afterwards I came to two more computer systems, both of which I hacked, afterwards I was tasked with finding Sinestro. So I forged ahead, taking out more spiders, including a new flying variety. As the action unfolded I came across some bigger spiders, as well as some large robots. Continuing on in this fashion for a little while I eventually made my way in to a more futuristic looking area, which was full of explosive mines and different types of Manhunters than what I’d come across to that point on Vega. Soon enough I entered a large chamber that contained a massive insect, which looked like some kind of centipede . . . so gross! I battled it and chased it away, but each time it escaped I arrived at another chamber in which I had to battle it again. Each fight utilized one of my various special moves including grapple, missiles, shield deflect, etc., so in order to completely destroy this pest I had to engage it four or five different times! But ultimately I triumphed and upon the beast’s defeat Sinestro was released. While Hal Jordan soaked in the good feelings over his impressive victory, the Guardians mused on the future of the galaxy and Hal’s role within it . . . cut scene, and game over!! This was a fun game, well worth a play, I’m going to rate it an 8 here on Gamespot. However, I would have rated it 9+ if only it had come with an instruction manual. With the website the instructions were supposed to be located at now defunct, and only learning Green Lantern’s moves once at the start of the game, it was very hard to remember all of the various commands over the course of the game, especially once you didn’t play it for a while. That sucked big time, but in essence the game is a pretty good one.
4) With our trip to BestBuy to get more Disney Infinity characters done, Jimmer and I made sure to make full use of them and get back at this game! A lot of stuff was opened up for us too, with our purchase of Mater, and the two pack of Lightning McQueen and Holly Shiftwell (which also included the Piston Cup). The adventures/games that we completed this time around included “Find Luigi” (had to locate Luigi in the town of Radiator Springs), “Calibrate GPS” (follow green arrows around Radiator Springs to calibrate our GPS), “Find Guido!” (Guido wanted to play hide and seek in town, our mission was to find the little rascal), “Jump at Flo’s” (in order to bring in more customers to the V8 Café, Flo asked us to perform a big jump outside the restaurant), “Rescue Ramone” (Flo was looking for her lost hubby, so we had to search Radiator Springs until we found him), “Tow Ramone” (Ramone had run out of gas, so we hooked him up and hauled him back to the V8 Café), “Drive to the Farm” (Chick Hicks showed up and asked us to race him to the farm, which we did, and won), “Take a Practice Lap” (took a practice lap around the Radiator Springs race track, in order to prepare for an upcoming race against Chick), “Chick’s Challenge” (defeated Chick Hicks in a 5 lap race around the race track), “Jump into the Barn” (we jumped in to the barn’s loft, on a dare by one of the town’s citizens), “Little Bo Beep” (had to find and tow some scattered tractors, taking them back to the barn), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 12 collectibles in the time limit given, the easy level), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 18 collectibles in the time limit given, the medium level), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 25 collectibles in the time limit given, the hard level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the easy level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the medium level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the hard level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the easy level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the medium level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the hard level), “Stunt Practice” (performed four acrobatic jump stunts for an interested townsperson), “Luigi in Town” (met Luigi back in town, in Radiator Springs), “Purchase Turbo” (purchased Turbo Level 1 for our vehicles) & “Drifting Drill” (got some drifting pointers from Luigi, then tested them out on the new race track). And the adventures just keep on coming, more soon!
5) Another game I finished and can now put away is Lego: The Hobbit! The mop up operation on this one wasn’t nearly as intense as most of the other Lego games I’ve played, because I just didn’t understand how to use the resources I collected to make the various objects I needed to complete all the side quests, or even how to unlock the cheats contained in the red bricks. So I basically just purchased the few characters I thought I’d need to mop up some of the game levels and took it from there. I began by purchasing the Beorn, Beorn Bear, Saruman, Gollum, and Azog characters. Afterwards I plowed through all of the levels I hadn’t fully completed in my first round of play, and they unfolded as such: “The Mines of Erebor” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Thror character), “The Coming of Smaug” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Thror [Armor] character), “The Sickness of Thror” (completed the last 8 challenges, unlocking the Balin [Young] character and obtaining the Red Brick [Stud Magnet extra]), “Bag End” (completed the last 6 challenges, unlocking the Frodo character and obtaining the Red Brick [Helium Voices extra]), “The Battle of Moria” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “Azog the Defiler” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Thrain character), “The Mountain Trolls” (completed 2 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Troll Battle” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Ori [Pants Unarmed] character), “The Dawn” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Ori [Lake-town] character), “Troll Hoard” (completed the last 6 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Red, no Ring] character and obtaining the Red Brick [X4 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Gundabad Wargs” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Oin [Lake-town] character), “The Hidden Valley” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Orcrist] character), “Thunder Battle” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Yazneg character and obtaining the Red Brick [Bubble Effects extra]), “Riddles in the Dark” (completed 6 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “The Return of Azog” (completed 3 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “The Legend of Beorn” (completed 3 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Beorn’s Homestead” (completed 5 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Mirkwood” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Dori [Pants Unarmed] character and obtaining the Red Brick [Precious Gems extra]), “Bilbo’s Escape Plan” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The Elven Gate” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “Kingsfoil” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The High Fells Tomb” (completed the last 2 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Lake-town] character), “Dol Guldur” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The Enemy” (completed 2 more challenges [for 8/10 total]) & “Durin’s Day” (completed the last 2 challenges, unlocking the Dwalin [Armor] character and obtaining the Red Brick [X8 Stud Multiplier extra]). The last bit of business I attended to was purchase as many additional characters as I could with what studs I had remaining. The ones I obtained this time around included Yazneg, Thrain, Thranduil, Thror, Thror (Armor), Tauriel (Lake-town), Thorin (Armor), Thorin (Lake-town), Ori (Pants), Oin (Lake-town), Orc, Orc (Wig), Gundabad Orc, Gundabad Orc (Wig), Grinnah, Kili (Armor), Kili (Pants), Frodo, Galadriel, Dwalin (Pants), Fili (Armor), Dori (Young), Bombur (Sausage), Bolg, Bilbo (Mountain), Bilbo (Old), Bilbo (Beige), Bard the Bowman (Lake-town) & Bifur (Pants). I would have given this game a 10, but with how hard it is to purchase/obtain most of the unlockable content, I’m giving it a 9 instead. Lots of fun though!!
6) More races were completed on Trackmania: Build to Race, although the gold medals sure are getting a lot more scarce . . . silver is the new gold, basically!! Anyways, here is how play unfolded this time around: “Snow B1” (first place, gold medal), “Snow B2” (second place, silver medal), “Snow B3” (third place, bronze medal), “Snow B4” (first place, gold medal), “Snow B5” (first place, gold medal), “Rally B1” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B2” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B3” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B4” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B5” (third place, bronze medal), “Coast B1” (first place, gold medal), “Coast B2” (first place, gold medal), “Coast B3” (second place, silver medal), “Coast B4” (second place, silver medal) & “Coast B5” (second place, silver medal). Lots more to come!
7) The final series of races is in the books on Mario Kart 7, although it took some replays to eventually get them all won! It was finally time to play “Grand Prix” mode on the 150 c.c. class, and it sure was a lot more tricky. First up was the “Mushroom Cup” circuit. There I placed second, second, first and second respectively, using the Koopa Troopa as my character. Said races included “Toad Circuit”, “Daisy Hills”, “Cheep Cheep Lagoon” & “Shy Guy Bazaar”. I won the overall competition with a total of 34 points, unlocking the Daisy character for my troubles! I then participated in the “Flower Cup” series, using Daisy as my racer. I placed first, fifth, third, and first respectively, and said races included “Wuhu Loop”, “Mario Circuit”, “Music Park” & “Rock Rock Mountain”. I finished with 30 points, good for second place overall. For the “Star Cup” I used Donkey Kong as my racer and I finished first, fifth, fifth, and second respectively. These races included “Piranha Plant Slide”, “Wario Shipyard”, “Neo Bowser City” & “Maka Wuhu”. I ended up with 26 points, only good enough for a paltry third place. Toad was my racer of choice for the “Special Cup”, where I placed fourth, seventh, third, and second respectively. These races included “DK Jungle”, “Rosalina’s Ice World”, “Bowser’s Castle” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 21 total points, good enough for another third place. Next up came the “Shell Cup”, where I used Yoshi as my pilot. I won all but the third race, where I finished last (eighth). These races included “Luigi Raceway”, “Bowser Castle 1”, “Mushroom Gorge” & “Luigi’s Mansion”. I finished with 31 points and guaranteed the overall win, which unlocked the Shy Guy character! For the “Banana Cup” I raced with the Shy Guy and finished third, fifth, first, and third respectively. These races included “Koopa Beach”, “Mario Circuit 2”, “Coconut Mall” & “Waluigi Pinball”. This earned me second place overall, with 26 total points. Mario steered me through the “Leaf Cup”, where I was able to place first, third, fourth, and fourth respectively. The races in question were “Kalimari Desert”, “DK Pass”, “Daisy Cruiser” & “Maple Treeway”. My 26 points were good enough for only third place overall. The final circuit was the “Lightning Cup”, and I chose Peach as my driver. I was able to win all four races there, which included “Koopa Cape”, “Dino Dino Jungle”, “Airship Fortress” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 total points, guaranteeing the victory and unlocking the Lakitu character in the process! Once through all eight circuits the first time around, I then went back and touched up the ones I wasn’t able to win on originally. Here is how that went: “Flower Cup” (won with 34 total points, unlocking the Wario character), “Star Cup” (won with 36 points, unlocking the Rosalina character), “Special Cup” (won with 30 points, unlocking the Metal Mario character), “Banana Cup” (won with 38 points, unlocking the Honey Queen character) & “Leaf Cup” (won with 32 points, unlocking the Wiggler character as well as Mirror Mode). Can’t wait to try out the game’s alternate modes!
8) I was able to get back at Batman Origins: Blackgate, after a brief hiatus last time around! At this point in the game, after the opening level, they give you a choice of where you want to go next. Before you make your choice though, Catwoman shows up and fills you in on what’s happening at Blackgate prison (after you take out a few thugs first, of course!). Basically the prisoners have revolted and Blackgate has now been split in to three territories, each of which is being controlled by a big wig criminal, including the Joker, Penguin, and Black Mask. The prison guards are being held hostage in the basement, for the amusement of the big wig’s thugs. In a tentative, temporary partnership with Catwoman, the duo set out and attempt to stop this madness. I chose the second level of the game for me to be the Cell Blocks. I began by slinking my way up to an open window and entered it, then began flitting through the interior of the prison beyond said window. Not far in to it I received a transmission from Catwoman, who said Penguin should be nearby. After hacking the security system I came to some outdoor gangways and witnessed a small group of thugs sending some weapons down a freight elevator to Penguin. The thugs that were left after the shipment departed I quickly took out, I then re-entered the prison on the other side of this gangway. Strolling through the detention blocks I took out all manner of low life that chose to oppose me! My ultimate destination was the exercise yard, but many roadblocks seemed to spring up and bar my progress. Thus I had to improvise my own route (which was made easier once I obtained the Batclaw device). Making my way back towards the detention block area I ascended further upwards than I was able to before, once at the top I began my explorations and passed through what looked to be some sort of furnace room. Once through it I finally came to the exercise yard and took out a couple thugs who were standing guard. Exploring the area I found a caged section where Penguin was making the captured prison guards fight his thugs! Penguin soon discovered Batman and forced me to enter the cage, where I was to engage a person Batman apparently was familiar with, called Bronze Tiger. However, I wouldn’t finish him off at the end of our battle, and in the confusion of this aftermath we teamed up and turned the tables on Penguin’s forces, engaging them and causing them to flee . . .
9) Well, the last time on Mega Man 10 I said there were six more bosses to go . . . not anymore!! We got on a massive roll with this game and polished them all off, easy peasy. First up was Solar Man. In more of an open building we began by ascending some ladders, as well as traversed some conveyor belts, taking out rocket launchers and these multiplying cube bots along the way. At the top we found a corridor broken up by lava pits, having to make our way over them, avoiding the lava streams that were shooting out of the floor and ceiling! We also had to engage more cubes, as well as these powerful turrets. Eventually we came to the “halfway boss”, a pair of birds that rained fire down upon poor Mega Man! After defeating them we ascended some ladders, avoiding more fire traps, then came to a corridor with some conveyors. Avoiding fire traps and cube bots while jumping the lava pits between said conveyors, we soon came to a long sequence of ladders we had to climb. These were tricky as there were sequences that were quite clogged up by turrets and fire traps, but eventually we reached the top, and in so doing found the boss chamber. Once inside we defeated Solar Man and obtained the Solar Blaze weapon! Next up came Chill Man. His level began on an icy plateau, as we made our way along we had to take out evil snowman bots, as well as these armoured hover bots. Soon enough we broke the ice and dropped down through some caverns, breaking more ice as we went. Eventually we passed through a long corridor filled with snowman bots and these floating eyeball bots. At the end of said corridor we ascended some ladders and came to an open area where it was snowing. Avoiding the bomb dropping birds as we went, as well as more indescribable enemies, we moved along and were forced to jump some chasms. Eventually we arrived at the boss chamber and entered, beating down Chill Man and obtaining the Chill Spike weapon! Third came Nitro Man, his level took place in front of a very futuristic looking backdrop. Exploring the initial area we ran in to these green bots that were tanks at first, but then broke off in to a small flying bot once you hit it. We also dispatched some soldier bots and then began ascending ladders. We came to a long roadway that featured these small buses streaming along towards us, our only defense against them was to time our jumps and clamber over them! Making our way upwards after this sequence we fought a shielded security bot and came to another roadway full of buses, followed by a couple more roadways that this time featured more heavy duty truck type vehicles. Once through this maelstrom we began descending, dropping through chasms and setting off bombs, all the while battling hard hats and security bots. At long last we came to an area with a very craggy floor, where more tank/flying bots attacked. Once they were dispatched we came to the boss chamber and defeated Nitro Man, earning the Wheel Cutter weapon! Commando Man was our next selection, play began in a sandy dessert where we made our way over some dunes at first. While on the move we had to avoid these scorpion type bots, as well as the flying bots overhead that were dropping bombs on the scorpions to get them all riled up! Soon enough we came to the beginnings of a large steel superstructure and began making our way over it, dispatching hard hats while weathering the frequent sand storms that blasted through the region and tried to push us down the many nearby chasms! Afterwards we dropped down through some large corridors, taking out shielded hoverbots along the way, and eventually came to a flat area of open desert again. Soon enough the sand storms started up once more, we had to navigate the many deadly drops they were trying to force us in to (there were lots of sharp spikes featured in the trap this time around!). After clearing the danger we showed up at the boss chamber and engaged Commando Man, upon his defeat we were awarded the Commando Bomb weapon! Fifth came Blade Man. In a stone lined alley way we began our trek, taking out turrets as well as these large robot axes that were trying to hack Mega Man to bits. The scene soon shifted indoors as we entered a chamber, having to jump over spike filled pits, engaging cave spiders all the while. After ascending some ladders we came to a long hallway with platforms we had to power ourselves by jumping back and forth on them, kind of like one of those old school train cars with the pump handles. Avoiding more of the same enemies as we went we then reached the halfway boss, a small castle armed with a couple of turrets and some spiked, spinning discs that launched from the front door every so often. After destroying it we descended some ladders and then dropped through many rooms, fighting all the same types of enemies as we went. Once at the bottom there was another very long corridor where we had to use a platform we needed to jump on to get us across, avoiding the bed of spikes below. After defeating the horde of enemies that awaited us at the end of this sequence, we arrived at the boss chamber. Blade Man fell easily enough, and for our troubles we were awarded the Triple Blade weapon! Last but not least came Strike Man, who was a sports themed bot! In a very futuristic type of setting, with sports stadiums dotting the background, we trekked along and started engaging the sports themed enemies of the level, such as the bot who threw baseballs at us. Not long afterwards we moved indoors and began descending some ladders, being forced to fight a mini-boss, which was a bot shaped like a soccer net! Upon it’s defeat we dropped through the floor and engaged more sports bots (mostly soccer and football themed), at the end of this corridor we then headed back upwards, ascending through many rooms, some featuring enemies and others not. At the top we then popped back outdoors, at least briefly, forced to scurry underneath these large rocket laden soccer balls that blasted up in to the air above us. Heading back inside afterwards we soon came to another mini-boss which happened to be another soccer net abomination, only this one was a lot tougher than the first! After defeating it and moseying on, we came to a room full of these little green hatches that small machines popped in and out of, harassing us in the process. After navigating this pitfall we ascended some ladders and came outside once again. Destroying a few last enemies we then came to the boss chamber and took on Strike Man, upon his defeat we were given the Rebound Striker weapon! And that is where we have left off, as the scene has shifted to Dr. Wily’s hideout . . . always a tough affair that can take a while to complete. We’ll see!
10) Finally, with my play on Kingdom Hearts long since stalled I decided to start on another PS2 game, choosing Jak X: Combat Racing! This game takes place in the universe of the Sony characters Jak & Daxter, the premise behind it is that a villain in one of the previous games, Krew, has passed on and invited a number of beings to the reading of his will . . . among them are Jak & Daxter. However, when Krew’s daughter, Rayn, reads the will, it is revealed that all of them have been poisoned via the drink they are all toasting with during the reading! The reason behind this is the emergence of a new sport in Kras City, a violent affair called combat racing. Krew really wanted to enter a winning team in the combat racing championship before he passed, so those who have been poisoned have a choice . . . die, or agree to drive for Krew posthumously and if any of them should win the championship, they’ll all be given the antidote! And so the action begins. After completing the initial five part tutorial I’ve been able to win a small number of events. Play started off in the “Red Eco Cup” series, which features Class 1 vehicles. The first location I raced at was “Spargus”, the lead in event called “Spargus City – Circuit Race”. A circuit race is just a 2 lap affair, first to cross the finish line wins . . . I won the race. The second location I raced at was “Kras City”, the first event there called “Loading Docks – Death Race”. A death race is an event where players’ overall scores are not only based on their time around the track, but also on how much damage they inflict on their enemies in the process. I performed well enough to earn a gold medal. Next up was the “Dirt Stadium – Death Match” event. A death match is where all competitors are placed together in a contained arena, and from there it’s basically a street fight, the first to 10 kills is the winner! And in this particular event I certainly was the winner. Then came the “Seaport Strip – Circuit Race” event, where I placed second and earned a silver medal. The last event I played shifted to the “Grand Prix” location, the event in question being “Qualifier – Deathdrome”, a circuit race I needed to win in order to help quality for the Kras City championship. Win I did . . . next!! This game is pretty violent, a whole lot of fun, and it’s very cool how it’s not just the action on the track that goes in to telling the story. After every race there is a cut scene where the events of the storyline continue to unfold and evolve with what happened on the track. It’s like racing plus!!
“NNGRR” - The weekend after I posted my last blog I watched the first Iron Man movie, which I hadn’t seen in some years. The film starts off following the recent exploits of Tony Stark, playboy-billionaire-genius extraordinaire! Tony is the son of famed genius Howard Stark, who unfortunately passed away too early. This meant that when Tony turned 21 he took over his father’s business, Stark Enterprises, a company which funds all of it’s various research primarily by dealing in the weapons industry. And running the business alongside Howard’s former partner, Obadiah Stane, business has been good! However, all that changes when Tony travels to Afghanistan to demonstrate Stark Industries’ new weapon, the Jericho missile, to the U.S. military. The convoy Tony is a part of is attacked and mostly destroyed by a terrorist group called the Ten Rings, and at this point Stark thinks he’s had it. However, the group wants Tony for his brain, coercing him in to building them their own Jericho missile out of the various Stark Enterprises weapons they’ve accumulated themselves. Before he can begin on this project though, Tony needs to be saved from the shrapnel that embedded itself in his chest during the attack on his convoy. Performing the procedure is another captive of the Ten Rings, a man named Yinsen, who surgically inserts an electromagnet in Tony’s chest that will prevent the shrapnel from lodging itself in his heart. When Tony gets back to full strength he does Yinsen one better though, building a small arc reactor to take the electromagnet’s place! Once that is out of the way it’s down to business. Tony and Yinsen appear to be working on a missile, but in reality they are building an advanced suit of armour that, if it should work, would allow Tony and his new friend to fight back and escape this group’s evil clutches. The suit indeed serves it’s intended purpose, but during the action Yinsen is killed, prompting Tony to take out his vengeance on this group with a little more gusto!! Upon being rescued and transported back to the United States though, Tony is restless, for something is nagging at him. At a press conference he informs the world that Stark Enterprises is getting out of the weapons business, seeing how easily this terrorist group in Afghanistan got their hands on his tech. Obadiah tries to play things down and tells Tony to take it easy for a while. Tony appears to concede to Obadiah’s wishes, but in reality he’s in his workshop engineering a new suit, one that makes the suit he constructed in Afghanistan look like an ancient relic! And Tony is lucky he does so because soon enough, after a few insights, he realizes that Stark Enterprises has been double dealing in the arms race, and it’s been Obadiah who’s been behind it all along. Working with his assistant Pepper Potts, as well as a friend from the military, Tony plans on setting things right and taking Obadiah in. However, Obadiah has been scheming in the meantime and he’s not going to go quietly . . . the action then all culminates in a battle above New York City that only one “Iron Man” will make it out of! This movie is really amazing. It’s got a cool and gritty story behind it, and the effects are top notch, the tech that is in this film (especially the Iron Man suit) is pretty incredible. Put some awesome talent behind it all in Jeff Bridges, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg and especially Robert Downey Jr., and you’ve got one hell of a film!
The following week I finished watching another volume of the current Nickelodeon series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was called The Good, the Bad, and Casey Jones. This volume is the second released that relates to season two, containing six more episodes from said season (episodes 7-12). In these episodes we first see Raphael’s pet turtle, Spike, get mutated in to a hulking behemoth that renames itself Slash. We also learn that the O’Neil bloodline has played a significant factor in the Kraang’s long history in attempting to take over the world! To finish things off we watch as Casey Jones comes on the scene in full force after meeting the Turtles completely by accident (bonding with Raphael after they initially wanted to beat each other to bits!), a strange type of fungus invade the sewers, a souped up Metalhead saves the day, and we witness the return of the Rat King. Throughout it all the intense ninja action and wisecracking tomfoolery of the four brothers is on display for all to behold, and boy is it awesome! A great collection of stories, can’t wait for the next one . . .
That same week I kept the good times rolling by watching Iron Man 2, which I hadn’t actually seen yet! This story picks up not long after the events of the first film, at the end of which Tony Stark announced to the world that he is Iron Man . . . and the media circus hasn’t stopped since. However, Tony has a couple of major issues on his mind which are distracting him from his duties as Iron Man, as well as running Stark Enterprises. First, a U.S. Senator has served Tony papers to appear before the Senate, as this chap feels the Iron Man technology should be acquired by the U.S. military, not locked away solely for Tony Stark’s own personal use. More importantly though, the power source that runs the small arc reactor in Tony’s chest is slowly poisoning him, it’s only a matter of time before he perishes . . . unless a new power source can be found, that is. Soon coming to the forefront though is a new enemy Iron Man must face down, whether he’s up for it or not! A Russian man named Ivan Vanko has created a suit of his own, and he attacks while Tony is partaking in an F1 race in Monaco. Vanko is captured after Tony dons his Iron Man suit and defends himself, but in the aftermath of the incident the issue of the Iron Man tech becoming public heats up even further. With Tony’s world spiraling out of control and him feeling like he’s only steps from Death’s door, he loses control and goes on a bender, ignoring his duties all around. Tony’s allies try to pick up the slack, with the newly appointed CEO of Stark Enterprises, Pepper Potts, trying to control damage on that front, while Tony’s military friend, Rhodey, takes one of the Iron Man suits to his superiors since there seems to be no Iron Man left to serve the public. But when Nick Fury (who has secretly planted Black Widow on the scene as a Stark Enterprises employee!) pays Tony a visit, a glimmer of hope shines down on his world. For one, Tony learns the truth about Ivan Vanko, he is the son of a former partner of Tony’s dead father, Howard, who’s been looking for revenge on Tony for years, after their parentals had a bit of a falling out many years ago. Also, Fury hints that Howard has laid the groundwork for creating a new element that could potentially safely power Tony’s arc reactor, it’s simply up to Tony to finish the research off. With a newfound spring in his step Tony sets about making amends, attempting to express his true feelings to Pepper, and forgiving Rhodey for doing what he felt he had to do. Tony has a lot more than jeopardized friendships to mend though, for Ivan Vanko has escaped from prison thanks to Justin Hammer, a rival of Stark’s in the technology/weapons development biz (although a far inferior one!). But with Vanko on his side, Hammer has something planned for the Stark Expo that is going to knock the world’s socks off . . . although Vanko secretly has other plans! Will a combined team of Tony Stark and James Rhodes, both wearing Iron Man armour, be enough to combat this threat and restore peace to the city, or has the invincible Iron Man finally met his match? This is another great entry by Marvel in to their now extensive film world. Once again the effects were top notch, going even further than the first film, and the story was dynamite too. I love the race scene in Monaco, so cool and unexpected! Tony facing down his own morality was an interesting twist, although my favourite part of the film is how they found ways to insert more of the Marvel characters we know and love, intertwining all of their stories in to one massive saga (a la Nick Fury and Black Widow). Can’t wait to close this series out!
At the end of that week I finished reading another super hero book, this one was titled Astonishing X-Men: Gifted. The story is written from the point of view of Kitty Pryde (formerly known as Shadowcat), a former member of the X-Men who has suddenly been invited back. However, the X-Men are in a shambles. It’s been five years since the death of Jean Grey, and Cyclops is still torn up about it. He and Wolverine can’t get along because of their mutual feelings for Jean, but besides that Wolverine has been missing for quite a while anyways. Professor Xavier is a world away helping with a different mutant cause. And worst of all (at least for Kitty) is that she’s been invited back by Emma Frost, in the past one of the X-Men’s greatest foes who has recently become one of it’s core members. As their leader, Cyclops wants everybody to put aside their differences in order to present to the world a shining example of what mutants can do for mankind, when working together on the side of good. The plan looks like it’s going to start off well, but not long afterwards a doctor/researcher who Hank McCoy (Beast) is familiar with announces a “cure” to the mutant “disease”. Immediately the response to this news is all over the place, as are people’s various views on it’s existence/purpose. Whatever the case, the bottom line is that this news is only going to make life that much harder for the X-Men, who are regarded as heroes by some . . . villains by others. Soon enough the true nature of this discovery rears it’s ugly head though. For Doctor Kavita Rao, the one who discovered the cure, was helped out by a mysterious being not of Earth, simply known as Ord of the Breakworld. As the X-Men set about stopping the threat Ord represents to Earth and it’s inhabitants, many revelations are made, about the true nature of the cure, and also about Ord and his world and their relationship to Earth. With Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. also getting in on the action, just who will be left standing, and will anybody be able to make sense of the situation they’re left with? This was a good story, it contained a really intricate plot that seemed very realistic. All of the issues, questions and concerns that plague the X-Men get you thinking about what indeed would happen if our world was introduced to mutants with such capabilities! What I liked most about the book was my introduction to some characters I wasn’t aware of, such as Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost (so hot!) and Ord of the Breakworld. This was a great read for sure!
Last week I concluded my Iron Man saga by watching Iron Man 3, and it was a good, gritty movie! The story opens up with a flashback to New Year’s Eve 1999, at a convention in Switzerland. Tony Stark is busy trying to bed a genetic researcher named Maya Hansen, although he is temporarily cock blocked by a nerd named Aldrich Killian, who sneaks in to the elevator with them and urges Tony to consider funding a think tank he is running, called A.I.M. Tony rejects the offer in typical Stark fashion, we then fast forward to current day events. At his Malibu mansion Tony is having troubles sleeping, ever since the events in New York took place where a portal to another world was opened and an alien army poured out (the events described in The Avengers movie had just recently transpired). At the root of Tony’s fear is a helplessness felt at not being able to keep his most cherished possession safe, one Pepper Potts. Just thinking about the events tend to give him panic attacks! Before he can deal with these feelings and explain himself to Pepper though, a new enemy emerges on the scene. A man known only as “The Mandarin” has put together a string of bombings, the evidence in each case astounding authorities as there is no trace of bomb left amongst the aftermath. Around this same time a much healthier looking Aldrich Killian reappears all these years later, setting up a meeting with Pepper Potts, wanting to sell her on his major project called Extremis. Extremis is an injection that helps the human body regenerate and heal itself, prompting severed limbs to grow back, injuries to heal, and cause what some would consider super powers to arise . . . such as the ability to breathe fire! Not long afterwards Maya Hansen also shows up, on Tony’s home doorstep. She wants his help as she believes her boss is working with The Mandarin . . . and her boss just so happens to be Aldrich Killian! Before they can get too far in to the matter though, Tony’s home is attacked by The Mandarin’s forces and utterly destroyed. Although Pepper and Maya find safety, it is presumed that the invincible Iron Man was destroyed in the battle. Tony didn’t perish but he was rendered unconscious, so J.A.R.V.I.S. flew him to the last destination he had programmed in the navigation system, one Rose Hill, Tennessee. Tony had planned on visiting this town to investigate the events of one of Mandarin’s bombings. With his suit damaged Tony holes up in a garage he finds unlocked, befriending the young kid who lives there, named Harley. During his time in exile Tony begins investigating The Mandarin and his attacks, soon enough realizing that the Mandarin’s bombings were just a cover up for the Extremis project, for when a subject took it and it was rejected by their body, the side effect is that they were destroyed in a mighty blast! Eventually ferreting out Mandarin’s location, Tony heads to Miami and confronts the madman, only to find out that he is an actor being handsomely paid to be the face of this villain, while the real villain behind the scenes is . . . you guessed it, Aldrich Killian. It’s now up to Tony alongside his good friend James Rhodes (who now wears a red, blue and white suit, being dubbed the Iron Patriot) to stop Killian once and for all, but Tony must escape imprisonment first. And with Killian having kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to a dose of Extremis, Tony’s quest becomes all the more urgent. Can this pair beat the odds and defeat a host of Extremis powered low lives before getting to Killian, or is it finally curtains for Iron Man? Like I said, this was a very gritty movie, Tony spends more time out of his suit and all kicked to crap than he does inside of it! The appearance of all of the various suits he’s built at the end of the movie was also very cool. I enjoy how the movie took on the Extremis arc, which I just read about a month or two ago in the Iron Man: Extremis novel. One of my favourite parts of the film though, was The Mandarin. He’s such an obscure villain to include, and the actor that portrayed him, both in his Mandarin persona and out of it, was just amazing and hilarious! Cool movie.
While at the cottage we watched a couple movies, the first being Neighbors, which was friggin’ funny!! The main characters are a young couple named Mac and Kelly Radner, who have just had their first child, a daughter they name Stella. The couple is very happy with their new life, although they soon find out they have a hard time keeping up with their best friends Jimmy and Paula, who do not have any children. Their resolve is about to be tested to the max though, as one day a moving truck arrives at the house next door and their hopes of a nice young family moving in are violently dashed . . . for a fraternity called Delta Psi Beta are the ones joining the neighbourhood! But Mac and Kelly are still relatively young and they “get it”. So when the fraternity moves in they approach the frat’s leader, Teddy, and try to establish a good relationship. They even attend an epic party thrown by the Beta’s and have a great time, all they ask is that they just try to keep the noise level down in the future. The next night though, at the Beta’s next party, the noise level keeps Stella awake all night. Taking Teddy’s advice and trying to get in touch with him first before doing anything drastic, they call the frat house and leave a number of messages. But when those messages are not returned they have no choice but to call the cops. Unfortunately for the Radners the officer who shows up rats the couple out, and because of the incident a full scale war soon erupts between the two households! From Mac taking an axe to the frat’s drainage and flooding their basement, to the Beta’s removing the Radner’s car airbags and using them to blast Mac all over his home and office, all bets are off! It all comes down to a desperate ploy orchestrated at the Beta’s end of year party, in which the Radners must secretly infiltrate the frat house and make sure the party is still going strong once the cops are called. They bring in Jimmy and Paula to help, but still being vastly outnumbered will the Radners succeed in getting Delta Psi Beta evicted from their lodgings, or are they in for another long year of pranks and noise complaints? This movie was so hilarious, a lot of the actors involved are super funny of course with Seth Rogen, but also Rose Byrne (so hot!), Zac Efron, and Dave Franco as well. The pranks they pull are classic, the back and forth between the two sides had us in stitches over and over. This is one of those comedies you can throw on any time and it’s always going to be as funny as it was the first time you saw it. Another Seth Rogen classic I need to add to the collection!!
The other movie we took in was the new Godzilla flick! It took a lot of lead up, but once the monsters got rolling it was a heck of an adventure. The action kicks off in the year 1999, at a mining site in the Philippines. Exploring an apparent cave in, a pair of scientists discover the skeletal remains of a massive, fossilized alien creature, and within the remains rest a couple of surviving spores. One of them is unhatched and is taken in to custody, but whatever was in the other has already busted loose, and the evidence left behind points that it fled to the ocean. Not too long after this incident a Japanese nuclear plant begins experiencing unexplained seismic activity. An operation is planned to infiltrate the plant’s innards and ensure there was no damage done. Plant supervisor Joe Brody sends his wife, Sandra, and a team of others to check it out. However, catastrophe hits when the continued seismic activity causes a breach . . . Sandra and her team perish in front of Joe’s very eyes, and not long after the plant is left in ruins. Fast forward 15 years and Joe’s son, Ford, is coming home to San Francisco after a tour of duty with the U.S. military. However, not long in to his homecoming Ford’s wife, Elle, informs Ford that his father has been arrested in Japan for once again visiting the quarantine zone where the remains of the nuclear plant still lie. Reluctantly Ford heads overseas to bail out his father, and upon doing so Joe is able to convince Ford to visit the site with him, as he is not convinced it was merely an earthquake that caused all that destruction . . . he wants answers, dammit! Upon reaching the site the two explore for a bit, and Joe finds out that there is no radiation present whatsoever! Before they can press on though the pair are detained and taken by authorities to what Joe thinks is a new plant being built in the distance . . . but it is not, it is a facility holding a spore similar to the one discovered 15 years ago in the Philippines! The scientist who first discovered the spores in the Philippines, Dr. Serizawa, is in charge of said facility. But before anything can be explained to the Brodys, the creature in the spore busts loose and wreaks havoc on the facility, killing and injuring many, before escaping in to the night! Dr. Serizawa, along with Joe and Ford, are taken to a U.S. navy ship to aid in tracking/destroying this threat, but Joe was injured during the attack and doesn’t survive. Once on board the battleship all is revealed to Ford. Dr. Serizawa is part of an organization called Monarch. Their purpose is to deal with these types of situations, and the creature that just escaped is known as a M.U.T.O. (massive unidentified terrestrial organism). They feed on radiation but have been dormant for years due to the planet’s reduced radiation levels. However, now that they’ve been reawakened the military may have just one alternative, and it is another big secret! Back in the mid 1950’s a submarine accident deep beneath the ocean’s surface woke a beast dubbed “Godzilla”. For years attempts were made to destroy him using nuclear bombs, the events of which were covered up as military testing. Godzilla survived these attempts though, and after all these years he may just be Earth’s only chance at salvation! The king of the lizards is awoken when the M.U.T.O. begins using what appears to be a form of echolocation. This is half good as it means Godzilla is on the case, but it is also half bad as it means the M.U.T.O. appears to be trying to communicate with something . . . and that something just so happens to be an even bigger M.U.T.O.! With the situation spiraling out of control the military comes up with a last ditch plan to bring the three beasts together and lure them in to an explosive trap, but when the M.U.T.O.s begin to mate and make a nest in San Francisco, they may just have to let Godzilla have at it and take care of the entire job himself. This was a pretty cool movie, with a more intricate plotline and more suspense than I would have thought. The effect that brought was a different kind of Godzilla movie than we’ve experienced in the past, at least I thought so. I enjoyed the cast, Bryan Cranston is always great, and there were some good newcomers as well (Elizabeth Olsen is way hotter than her sisters!). And the effects were awesome too, a great watch all in all!
The past while I’ve been listening to a greatest hits CD from the band Cream, called Icon. This collection includes 11 tracks from the band’s short but sweet career, and is a good addition to any rock n’ roll fan’s collection. Cream was considered one of music’s first super groups, consisting of Jack Bruce (bass/vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar), and Ginger Baker (drums). The band formed in 1966 when Clapton and Baker met up and decided to start a new band, both unhappy with their current situations in their respective outfits. Clapton really wanted to bring in Jack Bruce to complete the trio, but Baker agreed reluctantly as he and Bruce had a history of “quarrelling”. The formula worked though (well enough, anyways!), and the band pumped out four albums (one of them a double) before their breakup just two years later, in 1968. The band’s sound was very heavy rock, especially for the time, with a major blues infusion. My favourite tracks on this collection include “I’m so Glad”, “White Room”, “Tales of Brave Ulysses”, “Crossroads”, “Badge” & “Sunshine of Your Love”.