What a wild and crazy August this has been. Although the weather has become quite suspect with cooler temperatures, wind, and some rains, we’ve been as busy as ever! The weekend after my last blog was our August civic long weekend, although I wanted to do nothing but swim and relax, mrs. darthcobain17 (the planner that she is) had us travel down to the Hamilton area to visit the in-laws. On the Saturday night we went to the Oh Canada Eh? show in Niagara Falls, which is one of those dinner productions where the wait staff also performs in the show onstage. It was pretty good, and with it being all about the history of Canada in a humorous vein, it was quite entertaining. On the way home on the Sunday we stopped by the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, although with mrs. darthcobain17 afraid of all things that fly, I’m not sure why she put that on the itinerary. It was pretty cool though. Once we were home we finally did just relax for the rest of the long weekend.
That following week James was at camp again, this time at the YMCA, while we were back for a work week . . . although it was a shortened one! On the following weekend we were Hamilton bound again, this time because of mrs. darthcobain17’s dad’s birthday. I’d found a Groupon for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, so we decided to take him there on the Saturday. It was pretty cool, lots of aircraft in various states of repair, a gift shop, an observation deck to view flights, and some other stuff like flight simulators, etc. I remember wanting to be a pilot after seeing my first air show as a kid, so this was a nice experience to jog that memory! Afterwards we went out for dinner at a Chicago style pizza joint, where I devoured an entire large pizza, before heading back to London to finish the weekend all low key like.
The next week I actually had off work all by myself, and it was glorious!! I was in the pool 3-4 times a day, I went on a lengthy bike ride each day, and I went out for a good run on three of the five days (which was indeed training for another race). I also got some stuff done around the house like a good clean, picked up a case of beer, got some propane for the barbecue, got the pool pump fixed, etc. Plus my dad, James and I went to the pitch n’ putt one day, while throughout I played a ton of video games!! Unfortunately the week went by way too bloody fast. On the weekend, which was just this past weekend, we once again headed down to the Hamilton area on the Friday night, as the mother in law was throwing a surprise 60th birthday party for her sister at a nearby winery/golf club. The party was on the Saturday and it did end up being a surprise for her, which was nice, and the food was delicious! Unfortunately it was a rainy day and while packing up the mother in law’s car I got my finger stuck and locked in her hatchback! Fortunately mrs. darthcobain17’s aunt is a nurse and they got me all set up for the ride back to London with bandages and ice. The finger feels a lot better now, but that first night’s sleep was a bitch . . . as in there was hardly any sleep! That was unfortunate because bright and early the next morning we had our 10km race to participate in, the fourth annual “Rock the Road” party race! Everybody was worried that my finger was going to cause trouble but it was actually really good, and I set a new personal best, 10km in 50 minutes and 3 seconds. Woot woot!! As for this week, James is back at the university for Sport Western camp, while the two of us are back to work. Booooooo. Here is all the stuff I got accomplished amongst this craziness!!
1) On MLB 2K11 I completed another series on my season, this time heading to the homeland to take on the Toronto Blue Jays!! The series went down as such: lost @ Toronto 3-1, won @ Toronto 11-1 & won @ Toronto 5-0.
2) I buckled down on Lego: Lord of the Rings and got a heck of a lot more accomplished on it than I normally do! The next six levels fell, beginning with level ten. Said progress was as follows: “Warg Attack” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Gandalf the White character, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [for the level completion and status achievement]), “Helm’s Deep” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the King Theoden [Armour] character, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [completion and status]), “Osgiliath” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Gollum character, found the tablet, found 4/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]), “The Secret Stairs” (earned True Adventurer status, found the tablet, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]), “Cirith Ungol” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Shagrat, Frodo [Orc Disguise] & Sam [Orc Disguise] characters, found the tablet, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]) & “The Paths of the Dead” (earned True Adventurer status, found 3/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [completion and status]). While wandering the game hub I also found another tablet, 5 more Silver bricks, and I was able to purchase the King Theoden (Cursed), Eowyn & Hama characters. Excellent!!
3) The next seven games of my season on NHL ’04 are in the books, and there were some wild ones involved, a couple of really close battles! The results came out as follows: won @ New York Rangers 7-4, won vs. New York Rangers 9-4, won @ Boston 8-6, won @ Detroit 6-4, won vs. St. Louis 14-5, won @ Minnesota 13-4 & won vs. New York Rangers 15-8.
4) Gex is pretty much done . . . but not in the way I wanted it to be! What waited for me when I resumed my trek through this title is what I assume to be the last world of the game, called “Rezopolis”. There I was able to complete the first two levels, called “Rez Knight Fever” and “On The Move” respectively. However the third level, and what I am guessing is the final level of the game, I just could not beat for the life of me!! It is called “Rez’ Lair” and in it you battle the main protagonist in the game, Rez, in a final boss fight. But I just can’t seem to beat him, Rez and his attack patterns is just way too hard. And with only three energy available it’s that much harder. So sadly I am putting this game away with about only 99% completion on it! As for a rating, I’m loathe to give it a 10 just because of how bloody hard the final boss is, so I’d probably end up giving it a 9.5 (which will translate as a 9 here on Gamespot) as it is a really fun and original type of game.
5) As usual I knocked off the next two levels on Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. The fifth level was up next, for it I decided to play the “Ovacron 6” mission. To begin I headed to the planet and met up with Tomar-Re, who informed me that the Manhunters had begun mining the world, in the process rounding up the locals and containing them in camps. Ovacron 6 is the home planet of a lantern named Hannu, who is a friend of Tomar-Re’s, so Tomar’s plan was that he was going to free the locals while I was to destroy the Manhunters’ mining operation! I began by searching out some drills to obliterate, making my way through a volcanic type of landscape as I did so. In this level the enemies began to look more organic in nature, but despite that I dispatched them all with much gusto! I finally entered their mining facility and made my way through it’s corridors and inner workings, eventually discovering a couple drills to destroy. I then entered the mine proper and forged on. Tomar-Re soon showed up and taught me a new move. With this new knowledge in hand I destroyed some of the Manhunters’ miners followed by a Rubble Tank, and then a large being who looked a lot like The Thing! Proceeding along afterwards I took out many of the same enemies before being tasked with eliminating the Manhunters’ generators, which I did so easily. Afterwards I ended up on a train that was speeding along below ground. I immediately began fighting the resistance I found, in the process releasing as many train cars as I possibly could. Once I got to the lead car that was firing a large laser beam I destroyed said laser and then moved inside the car, where I was forced to wage an epic battle against a crazy bot dubbed The Overseer. I took him out and that was it, the people of Ovacron 6 were free once more! Upon returning to headquarters after this last mission it was announced by dispatch that all of the crazy events that had unfolded on these various worlds I’d visited were all linked, and that they’d sent out even more lanterns to investigate. However, comms were lost in all cases not long after the lanterns were released. This meant that I then had to go back to each planet and find out exactly what was going on! I chose to begin my investigations by heading back to “Coast City”. Once there I explored all three areas, but my adventure began when Kilowog was able to contact me and told me he had found a data core. However, the Manhunters were planting bombs everywhere. My task was to disable the explosives, so I began exploring both above and below the streets of Coast City, eventually heading up to investigate the city’s skyscrapers. In the process I found Kilowog, while he extracted the data core I protected him from harm. Once the data core was secured and our enemies were defeated we bugged out and headed back to Oa. More to come!
6) My time is finally over on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril, as I’ve put that game to bed in a big way! Picking up where I left off the next chapter of the game, the twelfth, was called “Island M”. The three levels I completed there were: “The Beach” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Green Goblin and Pepper Potts [Rescue] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “The Jungle” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Pyro and Green Goblin [Demogoblin] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Central Core” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Storm character, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Party Time extra]). Afterwards I purchased the Green Goblin, Green Goblin (Demogoblin), Pepper Potts (Rescue), Pyro & Storm characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Pepper Potts (Rescue) and Pyro, as well as the Party Time extra. The next chapter in line was titled “Asteroid M: Space”, the three levels that felt my wrath there were: “Landing Pad” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the General Ross and War Machine characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Asteroid Interior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Red Hulk and Star-Lord characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [X5 Super Move Slot extra]) & “Magneto’s Lair” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Juggernaut and Thor [Classic] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). I then purchased the General Ross, Red Hulk, Juggernaut, Star-Lord, Thor (Classic) & War Machine characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Red Hulk, Juggernaut, Thor (Classic) & War Machine, as well as the X5 Super Move Slot extra. The next chapter of the game was “Asteroid M: Showdown”, and it unfolded as such: “Control Room” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Mystique and Juggernaut [Kuurth] characters), “The Bridge” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Doctor Octopus and Storm [White Suit] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Cosmic Weapon” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Doctor Doom and Magneto characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Health Regeneration extra]). I then purchased the Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Juggernaut (Kuurth), Magneto, Mystique & Storm (White Suit) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Juggernaut (Kuurth) & Magneto, as well as the Health Regeneration extra. The fifteenth and final chapter of the game, at long last, was titled “Heroes vs. Galactus”! The three levels unfolded as so: “Helicarrier Assault” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Loki and Mystique [House of M] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “The Chase” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Patriot and Doctor Doom 2099 characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Final Battle” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Silver Surfer and Magneto [Modern] characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Invincibility extra]). I then purchased the Doctor Doom 2099, Iron Patriot, Loki, Silver Surfer, Magneto (Modern) & Mystique (House of M) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Iron Patriot, Loki, Silver Surfer & Magneto (Modern), as well as the Invincibility extra. It was then time for a task required on every Lego game I’ve ever played . . . the mop up operation! At this point, to fully complete the game, I had to go back through all of the previous levels I hadn’t fully completed and redo them, completing whatever challenges I may have missed the first time through. First up was the “Baxter Building” chapter, where I had to do the third level, called “Times Square” (completed the last challenge). Then it was on to the “Oscorp” chapter, where I played the third level, called “Symbiote Labs” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card). “The Raft” chapter came next, where I played both the first level, called “Prison Entrance” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card) and the second level, called “Prison Interior” (completed the last two challenges). The “Stark Tower” chapter needed a good touch up as well, I started by working on the second level, called “Stark Labs” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card) and then moved on to the third level, called “Penthouse Exterior” (completed the last challenge and found the Red Brick [Collectable Detector extra]). Finishing up the “Hydra Base” chapter was a quick job, there I only had to redo the first level, titled “Underground Foundations” (completed the last challenge). The “Asgard” chapter was a bit more involved as I had to participate in all three levels, as follows: “The Bifrost” (completed the last challenge), “The City” (completed the last challenge, unlocking the Doctor Octopus [Ultimate] character) & “Throne Room” (completed the last two challenges and found the Red Brick [Animal Sounds extra]). Next came the “X-Mansion” chapter, where the third level, “Hangar”, needed to be looked at (completed the last challenge). The “Castle Doom” chapter was a quick fix as there I only needed to look at the second level, called “Rooftop Entrance” (completed the last challenge, unlocking the Jean Grey [First Class] character). “Island M” was a bit more involved, as I had to look at the first level, called “The Beach” (completed the last challenge) and the third level, called “Central Core” (completed the last two challenges, unlocking the Punisher character). Finally I came to the “Asteroid M: Showdown” chapter, the last one I need to touch up, where I replayed the first level, called “Control Room” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card). Afterwards I purchased the Doctor Octopus (Ultimate), Jean Grey (First Class), Punisher & Stan Lee (???!) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Jean Grey (First Class) & Stan Lee, as well as the Animal Sounds & Collectable Detector extras. So this game is finally kaputs, and what a glorious game it was!! This is easily one of my favourite Lego games . . .
7) Some major progress was made on Lego: The Hobbit as well, as the next nine levels are now in the books! Starting with level thirteen, here is how play went this time around: “Galadriel’s Gambit” (completed 1/1 challenges, unlocking the Galadriel character), “Thunder Battle” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Gundabad Orc character), “Goblin Town” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bombur character as well as the Red Brick [Extra Heart extra]), “Riddles in the Dark” (completed 2/10 challenges, unlocking the Gollum character), “The Goblin King” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Old] character), “To the Trees” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Pajamas] and Fili [Lake-Town] characters, as well as the Red Brick [X6 Stud Multiplier extra]), “The Return of Azog” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Orc [Wig] character), “The Legend of Beorn” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Beorn Bear character) & “Beorn’s Homestead” (completed 3/10 challenges, unlocking the Beorn character). Now I just have to figure out how to purchase all of these items!!
8) A lot was accomplished on Trackmania: Build to Race also, as I completed my next twenty five events! I was able to win each race, earning a gold medal on every one of them, the events in question were as follows: “Island A1”, “Island A2”, “Island A3”, “Island A4”, “Island A5”, “Desert A1”, “Desert A2”, “Desert A3”, “Desert A4”, “Desert A5”, “Snow A1”, “Snow A2”, “Snow A3”, “Snow A4”, “Snow A5”, “Rally A1”, “Rally A2”, “Rally A3”, “Rally A4”, “Rally A5”, “Coast A1”, “Coast A2”, “Coast A3”, “Coast A4” & “Coast A5”.
9) Upon finishing Lego Marvel Super Heroes I was ready to start a new title on the 3DS . . . although I actually started on a couple! The first in question is Mario Kart 7. This game really needs no explanation as it is very similar to the many Mario Kart games that have come before it. You jump in a go kart, using characters from the Super Mario Bros. galaxy, and do battle over a series of races for ultimate karting supremacy! Starting out on this title I went to “Single Player” and began on the “Grand Prix” mode, which is the main racing mode of the game. I began on the easiest level, the 50 c.c. class, the first series of races was called the “Mushroom Cup”. There I won all four of the races (using Donkey Kong), including “Toad Circuit”, “Daisy Hills”, “Cheep Cheep Lagoon” & “Shy Guy Bazaar”. I finished with 40 total points, unlocking the “Flower Cup”. I then participated in the “Flower Cup”, using Mario as my racer. I won all four races, including “Wuhu Loop”, “Mario Circuit”, “Music Park” & “Rock Rock Mountain”. I again finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Star Cup”. For the “Star Cup” I used Yoshi as my racer and I again won all four races, which included “Piranha Plant Slide”, “Wario Shipyard”, “Neo Bowser City” & “Maka Wuhu”. I finished with 40 points and unlocked the “Special Cup”. Toad was my racer of choice for the “Special Cup”, where I won all four races, including “DK Jungle”, “Rosalina’s Ice World”, “Bowser’s Castle” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 total points. Next up came the “Shell Cup”, and I used a Koopa Troopa to get me around the track. I won all four races here, which included “Luigi Raceway”, “Bowser Castle 1”, “Mushroom Gorge” & “Luigi’s Mansion”. I finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Banana Cup”. For the “Banana Cup” I raced with Luigi, but wasn’t able to win every race. I won the first race, “Koopa Beach”, but was only able to place second on the next race, “Mario Circuit 2”. I was able to win the last two races though, at “Coconut Mall” and “Waluigi Pinball” respectively, finishing first overall with 38 points and unlocking the “Leaf Cup”! Princess Peach piloted me through the “Leaf Cup”, where I was able to win all four races. The races in question were “Kalimari Desert”, “DK Pass”, “Daisy Cruiser” & “Maple Treeway”. I finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Lightning Cup”. The final circuit was indeed the “Lightning Cup”, and I employed Bowser as my character. I won all four races there, including “Koopa Cape”, “Dino Dino Jungle”, “Airship Fortress” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 points, and for the unlock I was then able to use my Mii as a playable character. Sweet!!
10) The other game I began play on was Batman Origins: Blackgate. This is a bit of a prequel story in the Batman franchise, before Arkham Asylum was constructed and Blackgate prison was where the baddies were all sent to do their time. Batman is pontificating on Gotham’s rooftops as the game opens up, having just put away a few of Gotham’s more serious offenders. Despite making the streets that little bit safer though, he knows crime will never stop, some crooks may even view him as a personal conquest! During his rhetoric Batman witnesses a criminal exiting a building after a robbery, and it ends up being Catwoman. Batman engages her, but before he can attempt a takedown the D.E.O. shows up and they train their sights on the man bat, allowing Catwoman to flee . . . and this was where the first level began. To start with I engaged the many D.E.O. officers and took them all out, before traversing the rooftops of Gotham City using my grappling hook, in pursuit of the distant Catwoman. Along the way I eliminated more pockets of resistance, and also learned to use both my batarangs and stealth mode in the process. Eventually I caught up with Catwoman and beat her down in a boss fight, then demanding she tell me what she just stole. It ended up being a collection of files, which she had already forwarded on to her employer. Before I could take Catwoman in the Gotham Police Department showed up though, allowing her to escape while also forcing my own flight . . .
“NNGRR” - The weekend after I posted my last blog I finished reading yet another book, Under the Dome: Part Two, the exciting conclusion to the series I started just a short while back! To start things off this time around Barbie has recently been arrested by the corrupt Chester’s Mill Police Department, being framed for the murders of two young girls, as well as the reverend Lester Coggins, and Barbie’s own friend Brenda Perkins (the late police chief’s wife). However, Rusty Everett, the physician’s assistant who befriended Barbie earlier in the story, doesn’t believe in his guilt, as do a number of his other friends. After a trio of young teenagers Barbie entrusted with seeking out the source of the dome’s power report back on finding an area of town chalk full of radiation, Rusty takes over with the Geiger counter and seeks out this source. Find it he does, what’s powering this invisible dome is nothing more than a small metal box that looks like an Apple TV device, only a little more alien in manufacture. When Rusty touches the device he has a seizure and experiences visions . . . visions of the creatures who are responsible for the device. More convinced of Barbie’s innocence by the minute, Rusty rounds up as many allies as he can find and a plan is put in to action. First they are going to spring Barbie out of jail (which actually becomes a double rescue once Rusty confronts Big Jim and gets his own self thrown in the clink!), and then they are all going to take a pilgrimage out to the site of the dome’s generator and hide out there, an area full of radiation, the last area anybody would ever think to look for them. They are lucky they do, because meanwhile on the other side of town Big Jim has sent his police force out to the WCIK radio station, the site of his massive meth lab. The person responsible for making the meth, now dubbed “Chef”, has gone a bit paranoid with all of the drugs he’s done. And Chef is not going to allow Big Jim’s troops to take back the operation. The end result is a disaster of epic proportions which may just wipe out the entire population of Chester’s Mill, unless some quick thinking is found. Will anybody be spared, or will the land under the dome be the site of a mass burial plot? This was a really cool story, and a great conclusion to the craziness that King set up in the first volume. He writes things so that they seem so real, and the intricate plot with all the multitudes of characters was really quite majestic. I totally want to watch the TV series now!!
Also that weekend James and I watched our next Batman movie, one of my all-time favourites . . . Batman Forever!! As this film kicks off Batman is up to his usual crime fighting ways, the current thorn in his side is former district attorney Harvey Dent, otherwise known as the newly minted villain Two-Face. Dent is bent on the bat’s destruction for personal reasons, and although Batman is battling him to a standstill, he can’t reel him in and get him behind bars. Commissioner Gordon has brought in outside help, a smoking hot blonde doctor named Chase Meridian, who specializes in behavioural issues such as dual personalities. And of course her and the Batman want to get jiggy with it, so to speak. Anyhoo, it’s all status quo until a new villain arrives on Two-Face’s doorstep and ups the ante. Edward Nygma, a former employee of Batman’s at Wayne Enterprises who was let go for his experimentations with human brain waves, has recreated himself as The Riddler. He is also bent on Batman’s destruction . . . well, Bruce Wayne’s anyways!! It appears as though Batman may finally be in over his head. However, Bruce is about to get some help. At a charity circus event that Two-Face raids, an acrobatic family known as the Flying Graysons are killed by Two-Face’s actions, all but one of them anyways . . . Dick Grayson. Bruce takes him in, although Dick is quite unwilling at first. But life in the mansion and the mysteries it holds is a little too much to bear for him, and he finally discovers Bruce’s little secret. After many arguments and much consultation with Alfred, Bruce finally takes Dick on as a partner, and thus he is dubbed . . . Robin. Together the two plan a final mission to The Riddler’s lair, but using his brain wave invention Riddler and Two-Face have gotten a lot smarter in the meantime . . . and overconfident. Can the dynamic duo save the captured Chase, the city of Gotham as a whole, and both come out of it in one piece? I’d like to think so!! I still remember going to the theatre when this flick came out. I was a massive Jim Carrey fan in his early days, so this movie was all about The Riddler for me, and boy does he make an awesome villain, so funny and zany, and of course not adverse to violence. And then you add in the likes of Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, and Drew Barrymore, and this is a pretty star studded affair. A great story too, with a couple of classic villains entering the fray. And they went a different direction with it, at least visually. It wasn’t as dark as the first two, this film features a whole ton of colour while also remaining dark on the whole, as a Batman movie should. So good!!
When we headed out of town that same weekend James and I decided to test out the DVD player in our new van, watching Batman and Robin! As this film begins there is a new villain in Gotham City, a hulking man formerly known as Dr. Victor Fries . . . now known as Mr. Freeze. He is a scientist who, during research to help find a cure for his wife’s ailment, suffered an accident that turned his blood to ice. Now he can only exist in below freezing temperatures, hence the fancy suit. He is rampaging around Gotham City, turning anything and anyone to ice, while looking for diamonds to power his suit as well as the device he hopes will eventually save his beloved. Batman and Robin are on the case though, and they try to minimize the impact of Freeze’s escapades, although they can’t seem to bring him to justice. Entering the fray is another villain, another scientist named Pamela Isley. She works in the field of botany, at a research site that was formerly funded by Wayne Enterprises, before Bruce learned of their unethical research methods/goals. In a lab accident engineered by her boss, the unknowing Isley is subject to a toxic experiment that is sure to kill her but instead ends up reinventing her . . . as Poison Ivy! Approaching Mr. Freeze with a partnership in taking down the bat, the two start to cause all sorts of ruckuses! Complicating matters for Bruce and Dick is the arrival of a sexy young blonde named Barbara Wilson, who is Alfred’s niece. She has been kicked out of her school in England and has come to America to take her dear uncle home, her concern only worsens when she realizes Alfred is very sick. While Batman and Robin are out fighting the good fight, Barbara learns of Alfred, Bruce, and Dick’s secret, and she wants in. With Bruce still having trust issues in letting Dick join the fold as Robin, his anxiety is ever heightened by this request! But with the double threat of Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy (not to mention Ivy’s powerful henchman, Bane) a bit too much to handle, Batman has no choice but to go to war alongside Robin and the freshly minted Batgirl. But can they repel this double threat, save Gotham City, and in the process acquire a cure to Alfred’s illness? I really like this movie, even though it is commonly referred to as one of the “worst movies of all time”. I’m not quite sure what people hate about it so much, to be honest. I thought the story was consistent with the rest of the Batman franchise, the characters were fantastic, and with a cast that includes the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, and my favourite, the absolutely adorable Alicia Silverstone, what’s not to like!? Wait, I know why most people hate it . . . because most people are drop dead stupid. And you can quote me on that . . .
On the holiday Monday Jimmer and I sat down to watch The Green Lantern, which I’ve been wanting to see for a while now. The film kicks off with a bit of history on the Green Lanterns. A long, long time ago an immortal race of beings known as “The Guardians” created the planet Oa. To inhabit this planet they brought together a collection of beings who they charged with policing the galaxy, keeping it safe from evil, and these beings they dubbed their “Green Lanterns”. For green is the colour of will, and willpower is what the Guardians, and in turn the Green Lanterns, use as their source of power. Anyhoo, in the more recent past one of these Guardians felt it necessary to also harness the power of fear, although the others all disagreed. He went about attempting it anyways, and in the process evolved in to a massive, evil monster of a being called Parallax! A Green Lantern named Abin Sur was able to battle Parallax though, and eventually imprisoned it on the planet Ryut, in the Lost Sector. Fast forward to the present day and a space ship that crash lands on Ryut frees Parallax from it’s prison. This force immediately goes after Abin Sur, seeking revenge, and a mortally wounded Sur barely makes it to Earth before he expires. Before he does pass on though, Abin Sur frees his ring to seek out his successor. The person that is chosen is a brash young test pilot named Hal Jordan, who unlike a Green Lantern is supposed to be, is quite full of fear, at least buried down below. Upon meeting Abin Sur Hal doesn’t know what to think . . . but then after being transported to Oa and taking a beat down from both Kilowog and Sinestro (not to mention a harsh reprimanding), he then wants nothing to do with this super hero business! In the meantime a scientist named Hector Hammond is tasked by the government to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur, the very first alien being in U.S. history! In the process Hammond is infected with some of Parallax’s essence, which is buried deep in Abin Sur’s body. Hammond goes through some major changes and eventually morphs in to an insane villain. After thinking on it and trying out his powers, Hal is having a change of heart though, and he is there to counter Hammond. However, Hammond’s connection with Parallax has brought Earth to it’s attention, and it is on it’s way to pay the blue and green planet a visit! After lobbying The Guardians for help and being denied, Hal realizes this is a battle he must win alone. Making matters even worse is that Hammond has kidnapped Hal’s co-worker and former love interest, Carol, and is set to turn her in to a monster like him! Does the rookie have the will needed to pull off one hell of an upset victory? Of course he does, he’s Canadian!! This movie got raked over the coals after it was released, but as with Batman and Robin, I have no idea why. It’s a really well done movie based on a super hero that flies a little more under the radar than most, so something a little different, which is cool. I thought the story was solid, and the effects were amazing. And with an awesome Canadian lead in Ryan Reynolds, backed up by the complete hottie that is Blake Lively, what the hell is not to like? Give me more!!
Sieve, Greg and I continued our movie viewing tradition, going to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie on opening night. And it was pretty epic! The film starts by following the life of April O’Neil, a low ranking news journalist at Channel 6. There has been increased crime activity in New York City, by a group known as the Foot Clan. April senses there is more to this story than meets the eye, and she is determined to get the dirt. Her camera man Vern tries to discourage her, but she is like a dog on a bone! One night while out on her bike April hits pay dirt when she witnesses a Foot Clan heist in progress down at the docks. Before she can get any footage though, a mysterious “vigilante” shows up and cleans the Foot’s clock, leaving behind a strange symbol April faintly recognizes. April presents what she found to her boss at Channel 6, but as usual she isn’t taken seriously. Not long after, while out with Vern in the truck, people are fleeing the scene of a Foot Clan attack in a subway station. They are taking hostages in an attempt to draw out this vigilante. April gets involved and after said vigilante shows up to save the day once again, she tracks him to the rooftops . . . and it turns out there is not one vigilante, but four, and even more surprising . . . they are teenage, mutant, ninja turtles!! Afterwards April seeks out Eric Sacks, a man who runs an advanced scientific research company and used to be a partner with her deceased father. For after meeting the turtles and hearing their names, some memories from her childhood have been triggered. She inquires with Sacks about something him and her dad were working on before a lab fire destroyed everything and killed her father, something called Project Renaissance. It involved creating a special kind of mutagen that would allow humans to self-heal, keeping them safe from all manner of diseases and ailments. To test the mutagen they were using it on a rat and four baby turtles. Sacks presumed them lost in the fire, but secretly April saved the animals and released them in the sewers before the lab fire went out of control. After showing Sacks a photo she took of the four brothers from a distance, they both realize that these creatures are the beings she saved all those years ago. Sacks tells April to seek these beings out as the mutagen that is in their blood, the last of it’s kind, is essential to saving human lives and making the world a better place. However, unbeknownst to April, Sacks has deeper and darker motives behind wanting to find the turtles. He has partnered with the leader of the Foot Clan, the Shredder, constructing a scheme to infect the city of New York with a chemical agent, and then get rich by selling the agent’s antidote to the government! The mutagen in the turtle’s blood is key to this antidote. When April successfully seeks out the brothers (where she also meets their master, Splinter, for the first time), all is made clear to her by Splinter. But it’s too late, for April has unknowingly led Sacks and the Shredder right to the turtles’ doorstep! In the process Splinter is seriously injured, Leonardo, Donatello and Michaelangelo are captured . . . leaving Raphael, April, and an astounded Vern Fenwick to come up with a search and rescue plan. Stacked against overwhelming odds though, will this small team be able to rescue three quarters of their fighting force, and then also be able to save the city from imminent disaster? This movie was really good even though, like many others I’ve reviewed lately, it’s getting killed by critics. But anybody with any sense knows not to pay attention to these idiots anymore, they never like anything!! The story in this film was a pretty classic TMNT plot, but they altered their origin story a little bit, giving it a different vibe in that light. The best thing about the film is how they made the turtles look, they are friggin’ fierce!! Raphael especially is just a hulking behemoth, they are so big and they appear just like what you think a ninja turtle would actually look like. And then the action sequences, man they did a good job, so intense and wild. Add in a sexy Megan Fox (I don’t care what anybody says, she’s a good actress and she’s hot as hell) to stir the pot a little and you’ve got a blockbuster, critics be damned!!
The same night we saw TMNT I finished reading a book called Iron Man: Extremis, another prose novel from Marvel! This story picks up just after Tony Stark announces to the world that he is Iron Man. He has since locked himself in his garage for weeks on end, struggling to deal with his guilt over the lives his company’s weapons have taken over the years. However, since getting out of the weapons business Tony has an idea of where the future of Stark Enterprises is headed, but by squirreling himself away for so long the board of directors of Stark Enterprises are lacking confidence. Soon enough Tony is roused from his misery though, when contacted by an old acquaintance (and shagging partner) he met years ago at a conference named Maya Hansen. Maya calls him in to deal with an emergency she feels responsible for. Maya and her partner were working on a biological agent called Extremis, capable of transforming a human from the inside out, growing new organs, giving him or her new abilities, basically making them super human. Somehow a group of three low-lifes got their hands on a dose of Extremis and one of them, Mallen, took the injection. He comes to a few days later and has all sorts of powers, and even scarier, they seem to evolve to fit whatever situation he might find himself faced with! Mallen is somewhat deranged and he begins his plot of terror by attacking an FBI building in Houston, burning it up and killing most of it’s occupants. Iron Man immediately confronts Mallen, but is dismayed when he is easily bested by this freak of nature. Iron Man is not only bested, he is damn near killed. During the battle a number of civilians were killed, adding to Tony’s woes. Iron Man’s only salvation can come from the very thing he just went up against. Tony is transported to Maya’s office and after making a few secret tweaks to the Extremis formula, is given the injection. The tweaks made to the formula make his suit seem like it is a second skin, response times and commands are that much faster, he is literally connected right in with it. With Iron Man’s newfound abilities in tow he then heads out after Mallen once more, as the freak is making his way towards Washington, D.C. to pay his government a visit. Can Iron Man come out victorious in this second battle with Mallen? He just might, and along the way may even find a surprise regarding how the Extremis dosage leaked, and come up with a more concrete idea for his company’s direction. This was another solid super hero novel. They make things seem very real in these books, it’s not just about the battles and all the flashy bang bang. The consequences of these battles and the ripple effects they create are explored, the stuff you don’t normally think about. Very cool!
On the way to the Warplane Museum James and I decided to watch Man of Steel during our time in the van! The story begins of the planet of Krypton, where a couple named Jor-El and Lara produce the world's first natural birth in decades. However, the future for this child is bleak, as due to the depletion of Krypton's natural resources (which led to the mining of the planet's core) it faces imminent destruction. Sick of the ruling council's lack of action, General Zod attempts a takeover, but his movement is soon snuffed out. During the action Jor-El and Lara decide to jettison their newborn son, Cal-El, in to the great unknown so that he may have a chance to survive and won't perish along with the rest of his race. Just before the planet implodes Cal-El is sent away, while General Zod and his cronies are banished to a black hole. Fast forward many years and we find out Cal-El was rescued by a mid-Western farming couple and he's been raised as an American ever since. Through a series of flashbacks we find out that the radiation from Earth's sun has reacted strangely with Clark's (Cal-El's given Earth name) alien biological makeup, and so he's gained many types of powers, such as super strength, x-ray vision, heightened senses, and even the ability of flight!! Throughout his life Clark performs special feats that are witnessed by other people, and legends of his powers spread. Eventually a reporter from The Daily Planet, Lois Lane, seeks Clark out to do a story on him, but when she finds out the nature of his history she decides to keep quiet, fearful for what mankind might subject Clark to if they found out. But Earth and it's inhabitants are going to find out about Clark soon enough, for when Krypton imploded the prison holding General Zod and his forces was rendered ineffective. Ever since he has been combing the galaxy for Cal-El. When Zod finally makes it to Earth and demands humankind aid them in rounding up Cal-El, they happily oblige. But when the Earthlings learn Zod is actually a tyrant who has no intention of keeping his promises, the people who so eagerly offered Cal-El (now dubbed Superman) up to Zod will look to him as their salvation. With Zod greatly outnumbering Clark though, can Superman repel the threat, or is it curtains for the human race? I'm not a huge Superman fan, but this flick really helped reinvigorate the franchise for me. It had a great story, and the effects were amazing, I loved how they made the Kryptonians move so fast during the action sequences. And I really loved how we see Clark working on the Western coast of Canada in the movie's earlier moments, a shout out to Superman's Canadian roots!! There was some pretty cool talent involved also, with Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne . . . and don't forget Amy Adams, way hot!!
One night during my week off I watched a classic I hadn't seen in a long time, which I recently found in the bargain bin at Sobey's . . . Starship Troopers!! This story takes place many years in the future and begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The main characters are four high school students named John Rico, Carmen Ibanez, Dizzy Flores, and Carl Jenkins. Space travel is old hat at this point, and the galaxy has become a wide open place. However, space exploration has uncovered a sector ruled by sentient insects the humans simply refer to as "bugs", and they are none too pleased the humans have shown up on their doorstep. Because of this war is running rampant throughout the galaxy, with the bugs' hostilities originating from their home planet of Klendathu. The only way to guarantee citizenship in the Federation is to do a term of federal service. And so Ibanez, Flores and Jenkins all sign up. Against his parents' wishes Rico also signs up, so he can continue to chase Ibanez, who he is majorly crushing on. Ibanez pulls pilot duty, Jenkins gains a position high up in the Federation's think tank, while both Rico and Flores (who conversely is crushing on Rico) pull infantry duty. Soon enough the four of them are on the main lines in the war against the bugs, and none are in more danger than Rico and Flores. Their introduction to the infantry is tumultuous at best, especially for Rico, who after a fatal accident to one of his fellow soldiers while on his own watch, considers quitting. But after the bugs launch an assault and wipe out the city of Buenos Aires, the fight becomes personal, and Rico becomes a formidable force of destruction. He gains many friends in his unit, and also finally hooks up with Flores when he realizes his pursuit of Ibanez was the wrong path for him. However, after a disastrous raid on planet "P", where Rico loses his squad leader (and former high school teacher), and more importantly Flores, a key operation is planned to capture the brain bug, the main bug behind the hive's strategy. With a chip on his shoulder and a very green squad backing him up, will Rico and the rest of the Federation's infantry be able to pull it off, or will it be one more step towards galaxy wide domination by the bugs? This film is literally amazing, with a pretty low key cast who are all extremely likeable and were the perfect fit for their roles. With the likes of Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, and Michael Ironside, there is character galore going on in this movie! The story is awesome, as was the manner in which it was filmed. And the special effects, wow, this thing looks like it could fit in to the Star Wars galaxy no problem. And that's pretty amazing, considering it was released in 1997. Too bad they never did a follow up to this one!
The past little while I've been listening to the Cold Fact album, by Rodriguez. I found out about this artist by watching the Searching for Sugar Man documentary, which chronicled his bizarre story. Sixto Rodriguez was a child of Mexican descent who grew up in Detroit, where his father instilled in him the love of playing guitar. So he learned to play and spent his time wandering the tough streets of the Motor City, crafting songs based on the lives of the people he saw living in the city. When he came to the attention of the record labels and got signed, they thought he was going to be huge. However, he didn't take off in the States, and after releasing two albums (this was back in the late 1960's/early 1970's), mostly gave up music and worked in construction, as well as tried to get in to politics. However, when a copy of his debut album, Cold Fact, found it's way over to South Africa (and other remote areas like Australia) he picked up a huge following and became as popular as other major bands like Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Stories persisted of him committing suicide during a gig, and nobody on that side of the world knew what his true story was. Eventually the makers of the documentary were able to track him down and found out he was indeed still alive. They were able to convince him to come to South Africa and play some shows (this was in the late 1990's), and the rest is history, he is now more of a well known name. Rodriguez's music is very much a social commentary, and I found his sound very surprising in a way. Although he is of Mexican descent you never would have guessed it just by listening to him, as I find his music a folky mixture of Bob Dylan and James Taylor. Cold Fact was his debut album in 1970, and it is a great listen. My favourite tracks on it include "Crucify Your Mind", "This Is Not A Song, It's An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues", "I Wonder", "Like Janis", "Rich Folks Hoax" & "Jane S. Piddy". This album is worth a listen, and the documentary is worth a watch!