I’ve never been so busy and exhausted in my life, but again it’s all in a good way! The last few weeks have been literally action packed, and a ton of fun. The weekend after my last blog post we were in Hamilton for a party at a friend of a friend’s place. These people are super loaded and live in a virtual mansion, and they were hosting a “Hamptons in the Hammer” party. They had hired a lady to cook and serve food, pour drinks, etc., plus everybody dressed up all fancy and weird! Needless to say I drank a lot, smoked a lot, and swam a lot . . . a most productive evening all around.
The following week was the last week of school, so James was super excited. He managed to bring home a great report card, a lot of improvements, and because he brought up his grades so much he is going to get a Wii U as we had promised him that if he made some progress. We haven’t got it yet, but I’m pretty excited to finally make that purchase. The last day of school, the Friday, was actually a PD Day, so I stayed home with him and we got up to our usual activities like swimming, video games, cartoons, etc. For the weekend we had a reunion with family friends we hadn’t seen in a while, down in St. Catharines. We got to visit with everyone, the kids got to swim, and of course we ate and drank our faces off! The next morning, after a great sleep at our hotel, we went to Perkins for an amazing breakfast before heading home.
The week that followed I had off work as James was not signed up for camp or anything. During our time off we did a ton of stuff such as play video games, watch cartoons and movies, go swimming (I finally got him to go off the diving board, after bribing him with some Cars and Planes toys, and now he won’t stop!) . . . the usual sorts of activities. But we also got up to some other things we’d been planning. Together we built his first model, started his comic book collection, and even went to the driving range for some golf. Unfortunately during that same week mrs. darthcobain17 got in a car accident and wrote our minivan off, so we’ve had a rental the last little while but that just ended recently and we haven’t replaced our vehicle yet. We’re going to get by on one car for the next little while as I’m riding my bike to work as usual, but we will need to get this sorted out sooner rather than later. We ended our time off by heading down to Port Stanley on the Sunday, to meet up with some cousins and go swimming at the beach. Afterwards we had some scrumptious pizza before heading home and getting ready to face reality one again . . .
As for last week, it was just a normal work week for us, while James was at his first week of camp, which was golf camp (through the same folks who have been doing his lessons). As the weekend got closer we prepared for action though, as it sure was a busy one! We headed down to Hamilton on the Friday and went to the rink to play some hockey, as our friends Megan and Johnny got another WagJag deal for ice time like they did last year (they were actually filming a TV show or movie at the rink while we were there, which was kind of cool). We had a great game of shinny and then had some beers in the dressing room afterwards, before heading to a nearby pub to consume even more beer! The following morning Johnny and I headed to his hockey school class, where we were put through some drills by a guy insanely more talented than we are. After picking up some lunch on the way home we didn’t have much time to prepare before we headed to the golf course that is only a couple blocks from their house. . . . our foursome shot 18 hilarious holes at Chedoke Golf Course! After my recent successes at the driving range I just couldn’t translate it into a good round on the actual course. I had some good shots during the day but overall was way too inconsistent. I didn’t even add up my score at the end . . . fuck it! I look to improve on that for sure though. After getting back from golf we were famished, so we headed down to Ray’s, the bar/restaurant right at the end of their street. Getting back home afterwards we watched a couple movies before heading to bed. As for the girls, they were at a stag and doe in Guelph, I woke up in the morning to find out that mrs. darthcobain17 won some prizes, the best of which was a game used, signed hockey stick that belonged to the Boston Bruins’ Dan Paille! It is now mounted on my man cave wall. We then headed back to Ray’s for breakfast, before hitting the highway to come back home. As for this week, it’s back to work . . . fuck me. Anyways, here is all that was accomplished throughout this wild ride . . .
1) To kick things off I was able to get back at Goldeneye and complete the third level, which was called “Arkangelsk – Runway”. I began at the loading docks of the chemical weapons facility I had blown up in the previous level. At first I took out very minimal resistance and then moved outside via a conveyor belt. In a small, nearby building I took out a couple of soldiers and found a plane ignition key. Heading back out in to the cold I explored and much to my chagrin, found a tank sitting all by it’s lonesome! I hopped in to said tank and began blazing a trail of destruction down the nearby runway! Soldiers began pouring out of the buildings and coming after me, but I largely ignored them and focused instead on the three large machine gun turrets, as well as the missile turret that defended the air strip. After they were dispatched I abandoned the tank and hopped in a nearby plane, taking off to freedom!! I finished the level with a time of 1:55 and had a 63.2% accuracy rating. This game is so hard, I may have to dumb down the difficulty level a bit . . .
2) Another series of my season on MLB 2K11 has fallen, this time I competed against the visiting Boston Red Sox . . . who are a collective bunch of douche bags! The series unfolded as such: lost vs. Boston 6-4, won vs. Boston 13-7 & won vs. Boston 19-0. Boooooooya!!
3) I got a bit more progress done on Lego: Lord of the Rings, which was nice. The next three levels fell, which were as follows: “The Pass of Caradhras” (unlocked the Gandalf the Grey, Gimley, Legolas and Boromir characters, found 3/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for the level completion and the tablet]), “The Mines of Moria” (found 2/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for the completion and tablet]) & “Amon Hen” (earned True Adventurer status, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for the status, completion and tablet]). Also, while making my way through the game’s hub between levels, I was able to find 2 more Silver Bricks. This game seems immense . . .
4) The day has finally come . . . James and I have completed Donkey Kong Country Returns, everyone rejoice!! At this point the eighth and final world was upon us, called “Volcano”. There we defeated the first eight levels, as so: “Furious Fire” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Hot Rocket” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Roasting Rails” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Smokey Peak” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Bobbing Basalt” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Moving Melters” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Red Red Rising” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Tiki Tong Terror” (defeated boss). So that was it, end boss defeated, game over!! Or maybe not so fast. After completing the game a new world emerged, a one off level called “Golden Temple”. However, in order to access said level we had to collect eight coloured orbs that are found in each world’s bonus level, which are obtained by collecting all of the K-O-N-G letters in all levels of each world. We tried a couple of these bonus levels early in the game but they seemed so hard that we left them alone, meaning to come back to the later. And so we did have to come back to them, although they were still quite difficult, our experiences playing through the entire game better prepared us for what we were about to face. We eventually completed them all, and the action unfolded thusly: “Jungle – Platform Panic” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the green orb), “Beach – Tumblin’ Temples” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the blue orb), “Ruins – Shifty Smashers” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the white orb), “Cave – Jagged Jewels” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the pink orb), “Forest – Blast & Bounce” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the yellow orb), “Cliff – Perilous Passage” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the orange orb), “Factory – Treacherous Track” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the black orb) & “Volcano – Five Monkey Trial” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the red orb). This allowed us entry to “Golden Temple”, which ended up being a long level full of fruit obstacles hung high in the sky that we had to jump across, and had old school Mario Bros. style music. We eventually cleared this level and found 5/5 puzzle pieces. With all of our successes in the game we had managed to unlock everything in our Music Gallery and Diorama Gallery, and pretty much everything in the Image Gallery. An amazing game, but boy am I glad it’s finally over!!
5) Major progress was made on NHL ’04, as I was able to play the next eight games of my season. The violence unfolded as such: won vs. Pittsburgh 12-5, won @ New Jersey 14-12, won vs. Edmonton 7-5, won @ Anaheim 8-7 (OT), won @ Los Angeles 12-8, won @ San Jose 12-10, won @ Calgary 12-6 & won @ Edmonton 7-5. Crushin’!!
6) Another game that fell during this blog period was Shinobi! I ended up completing the last three levels of the game, starting with level six. In it I infiltrated an underwater base and began roaming tunnels, using lifts, and making my way across open bays full of submarines. Taking out Zeed’s forces all the while, another danger surfaced when a robotic shark that had been ramming the glass tunnels I was in eventually broke through! I then had to have a halfway boss fight against this contraption, which was called Mechaladon. After the battle we sunk down in to a lava pit under the ocean floor, where I began making my way over rocky outcroppings, battling ninjas and strange cavern creatures along the way. A smelting factory soon appeared, upon infiltrating it I had to be on the ball, navigating conveyor belts, lava flows, and other equipment. Soon after the boss of the level showed up, a machine called a Lava Crawler. I bashed it to smithereens!! For completing the level I unlocked the Jumped the Shark achievement, as well as the Shark Attack Concept Art item. Level seven kicked off in a barren, mountainous environment. Flitting across the landscape, dispatching ninjas as I went, I eventually came to a series of mine carts lowering from above on chains. Climbing said carts I reached a high ledge where I immediately had to run from a large, rolling boulder, a la Indiana Jones! After losing it I trekked ahead, passing through a cavern and coming to what looked like the inside of a dojo. This dojo was a little different though. Behind the many doors it contained there were portals that would warp me to other locations, so it ended up being a bit of a maze. Making things even more difficult where the huge number of ninjas and cyborgs constantly trying to do me in, not to mention the spike traps! My tenacity finally paid off though when I reached the boss of the level, a very tough to beat baddie named Shadow Master. After many tries I took him out, and although I thought this was the last level and the end boss, I was sure mistaken! For completing the level I unlocked the Die Hard, Shadow Temple Gatherer, and Shadow Temple Hunter achievements. I also unlocked the Fushin Ninja Costume, Challenge 7, and Defense Droid Concept Art items. Level eight, the last of the game, began in a swampy region that reminded me a lot of Dagobah, after Shadow Master crashed the ship we apparently had our battle in there. I set off, having to avoid many sets of deadly purple spikes, eventually navigating very tricky sequences of moving and dropping platforms high up in the air. Making my progress even tougher were the many droid type soldiers determined to bring me to a standstill. At this point there were a lot of technological elements dotting the landscape I was passing through. After dispatching more droids and making my way further upwards via some more tricky jumping sequences, I took a lift up to face the final boss of the game, a strange alien being named Orn. And this guy was tough, he was able to completely refill his energy twice during our battle, which basically meant I had to beat him three times with just one of my lives. Tricky!! I persevered though and finally got a win, ending my Shinobi experience! For completing the level I unlocked the Baby Ninja, You’ve Got The Glow, Secret Mission Gatherer, and Secret Mission Hunter achievements. I also unlocked the Chibi Jiro Costume, Secret Mission Music, Challenge 8, and Captain’s Head Costume items. This was a pretty good game, but super hard though, even on the easy setting!
7) As for Gex, there I was able to fully complete the second world of the game, called “New Toonland”. The levels that fell came in this order: “Twin Towers”, “Pow!” (password was RVTCSHGP), “Rock It!” & “The Flatulator” (defeated the world’s boss, password was XTHCSHGP). I even began play on the third world, called “Jungle Isle”. So far I’ve only completed the first level there though, called “Feeding Frenzy” (password was KVKLPHGP). More to come!
8) Next up was Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. The going has been slow on this one, but I’m plugging away. The second level of the game I chose to play, after completing the tutorial level last time around, was called “Coast City”. In it I traveled to Earth and met up with Kilowog in Coast City. An evacuation was underway, so he tasked me with providing cover while he took on the Manhunter command ship. I insisted on taking the lead though and he eventually relented. I blasted and bashed all the Manhunter enemies I came across as I tore through the city, first looking to destroy the generators that were providing force fields for their ground turrets. After they were destroyed, as were the turrets in turn, I moved underground for a spell. This time I was searching for their destructive drilling machines, and in the process of finding and eliminating them, I met up with even more powerful enemies. Once this task was accomplished I met up with Kilowog and he taught me how to call other Green Lanterns for backup. Once the call was made I headed topside again and eliminated a small number of the Manhunters’ anti-aircraft turrets, before hooking up with the boss of the level . . . a being known as The Admiral. It was a tough scrap but I eventually won the day, destroying him and his lethal weapon of destruction. This one tired me out!
9) Major, major progress was made on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril! Play began at the fourth chapter of the game, called “The Raft”. The three levels I completed there included “Prison Entrance” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Wolverine and Wolverine [Tan] characters, and gained a Red Brick [Bubble Effects extra]), “Prison Interior” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bruce Banner and Iron Man [Heartbreaker] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Prison Rooftop” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Spider-Man [Future Foundation] and Hulk [Minifig] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). After this chapter I used my collected studs to purchase some stuff, including the Bruce Banner, Hulk (Minifig), Iron Man (Heartbreaker), Spider-Man (Future Foundation), Wolverine & Wolverine (Tan) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for the Hulk (Minifig), Iron Man (Heartbreaker), Spider-Man (Future Foundation), Wolverine & Wolverine (Tan) characters . . . as well as the Bubble Effects extra. The fifth chapter of the game was “Stark Tower”, there I completed all three levels, including “Stark Garage” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Tony Stark and Howard Stark characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Stark Labs” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man [MK1] and Pepper Potts characters) & “Penthouse Exterior” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man [MK42] and Iron Man [Hulkbuster] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). I made some more purchases at this point, including the Howard Stark, Iron Man (Hulkbuster), Iron Man (MK1), Iron Man (MK42), Pepper Potts & Tony Stark characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for Iron Man (Hulkbuster), Iron Man (MK42) & Iron Man (MK1). The sixth chapter was the last one I was able to get at, and it was called “Hydra Base”. The three levels I ploughed through were “Underground Foundations” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Captain America [WW2] and Wolverine [Days of Future Past] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Hydra Base” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Human Torch and Scarlet Spider [Classic] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Portal Room” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Norman Osborn and Captain Steve Rogers characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [X3 Super Move Slot extra]). My purchases afterwards included the Captain Steve Rogers, Captain America (WW2), Human Torch, Norman Osborn, Scarlet Spider (Classic) & Wolverine (Days of Future Past) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for Human Torch, Scarlet Spider (Classic) & Wolverine (Days of Future Past) . . . as well as the X3 Super Move Slot extra. Wowee zowee, can’t wait to wreak more havoc on this one!
10) Since we finished Donkey Kong Country Returns, James and I decided to begin play on Disney Infinity for the Wii. We’ve only got three characters so we haven’t been able to do much on it yet, but it has been pretty fun regardless! We began by exploring the game hub, which is a castle and it’s grounds. We earned a lot of points for leveling up, as well as a lot of spins in the toy box, where we collected many cool items. Once we’d had enough of that action we decided to begin the adventures that were available to us at this point. First up was “Sparrow’s Flight”, featuring Captain Jack Sparrow! In it we had to roam around a small island and collect as many yellow orbs as possible. Our best score was 11, which earned us a bronze medal. Second came “Sulley’s Paintball Brawl”, featuring James P. Sullivan from Monsters, Inc.! This was a paintball game against a slew of other monsters, our best performance was 26 takedowns, which bagged us a silver medal. Finally, third came the “Mr. Incredible, the Hero” adventure, featuring, you guessed it . . . Mr. Incredible! In this game we had to save as many townspeople from the evil robots as possible, and the best we could manage was 2, good enough for a silver medal. We hope to explore this game further and see what else we can do with it, as well as get some more characters in order to unlock more of the adventures.
11) I also had to start a new game on the 3DS, since Shinobi suffered my wrath. I picked one I was really interested in, called The Trash Pack! This game revolves around those tiny toys whose theme is what you might find in your garbage, but I have no idea what the whole plot is behind them. This game didn’t shed much light on that for me unfortunately, as it’s simply a collection of four mini-games that don’t have any real story elements to them. The mini-games in question were called “Trash Catch” (had to collect trash falling from the sky in our garbage truck, not letting any of it hit the ground), “Trash Attack” (had to collect as many cans as possible, while avoiding all of the garbage that kept bouncing down the street), “Trash Drop” (I had to flip Trashies off a garbage can lid and knock the various garbage items out of the nearby crane claws, in to the waiting garbage cans) & “Trash Toss” (I simply had to toss Trashies in to the specified garbage bins within the given time limit). I managed to fully complete the first three games, but the last one was a real doozy as the controls were a little oversensitive. I made it pretty far, but wasn’t able to fully complete it. During my initial play on this game I was able to unlock a ton of Trashie characters, including Putrid Sardine, Smelly Mouse, Waste Wolf, Stale Bread, Trashola, Germit, Slop Corn, Trash-a-Pillar, Loo Paper, Garbage Egg, Awful Pie, Crud Can, El-Trasho, Rancid Steak, Trash Rat, Scum Gum, Disinfect-Ant, Moo Cow Disease, Grott Dog, Rotten Apple, Stench Fries, Toxic Trash Rim, Skummy Skull, Dump-ling, Chicky Pox, Blow Fly, Compost Monster, Mucky Maggot, Garbage Gull, Rankenstein, Bird Flu, Bashed Bottle, Sour Snail, Sicken Chicken, Septix, Manglez, Noxious Bee, Snotten, Sludge Can, Rot Moth, Mouldy Milk, Vul-Gore, Puke Pod, Flu Virus, Scummy Squirrel, Stinky Soda, Bin Pig, Scummy Screen, Putrid Pizza, Smelly Fish, Putrid Boot, Smelly Sock, Yucko Taco, Foul Nugget, Germ Worm, Off Cheese, Flesh Eating Virus, Gross Rover, Bin Scab Beetle & Scabby Cat. And there are all different coloured versions of most of the characters too, so I collected even more than this would indicate. At the end of my initial round of play I had collected 125/179 Trashies. After going back and playing through the game again at my leisure, I’m now up to 156/179. This is a fun game for sure, but it’s just way too short! I finished it the day I first started playing it, and not only that it was just a few hours and I had played through the whole thing. Although the games are really fun and there are a ton of Trashies to collect, it’s simply way too short.
12) Finally, since The Trash Pack ended so abruptly I needed another game to turn to, and it ended up being Lego: The Hobbit! This game tells the story of Gandalf the Grey and his select team that went to re-take a Dwarven stronghold from the evil dragon Smaug. Not only that, it tells how the Ring of Power was found by Bilbo Baggins along the way, setting up the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy . . . and it does so all in supreme Lego style! So far I’ve completed the first four levels of the game, which went as such: “The Mines of Erebor” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Young] character), “The Coming of Smaug” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Dwalin [Young] character), “The Sickness of Thror” (completed 2/10 challenges, unlocking the Dori [Young] character) & “Bag End” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [red, unarmed] character). More to come on this one too!
“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog James and I got around to watching our next super hero movie, and of course we chose Spider-Man 2! As this movie begins we learn a few things, first and foremost that life as Spider-Man is wearing Peter Parker out. He’s having trouble juggling his job as a pizza delivery guy, being a student at university, along with the heroic duties of Spider-Man, and it’s showing. We also learn that Mary Jane has become a local celebrity, transforming in to a model as well as a stage actor. And finally we see that Harry Osborn is intent on finding Spider-Man and ending him, for the “murder” of his father. Peter is thrilled though when Harry introduces him to a famed scientist named Otto Octavius, who he just so happens to be writing a paper on. Octavius is working on a form of nuclear fission power, which would provide mass amounts of energy from a very small source, and to help aid him with his project he has built a set of sentient robotic appendages that allow him to manipulate the power source while it’s in action. However, at the unveiling of said project things go very wrong and Octavius almost blows up half of New York City! In the madness his wife is killed and the inhibitor chip that prevents the robotic arms from taking control of his mind is destroyed. Left to the whims of these constructs, Octavius goes on a rampage, demanding that his financial backer, Harry Osborn of Oscorp, get him more of the precious tritium that he so desperately desires in order to power his rebuilt machine. In exchange Harry asks that Dr. Octopus, as Octavius is now known, brings him Spider-Man . . . alive. Dr. Octopus begins his search, but Peter Parker, literally and figuratively feeling a lack of faith in his abilities and just an overall weariness, has quit being Spider-Man. Harry gives Doc Ock a lead though, giving him Peter Parker’s name, and eventually a showdown is planned. After some recent experiences reinvigorate Peter and give him the motivation he needs, he takes the fight to Dr. Octopus and the action culminates in an abandoned warehouse on the waterfront. Can Spider-Man convince Dr. Octopus to fight the dominion of his robotic creations and destroy his precious project, or is New York going to end up a smoking crater in the ground? This was another excellent super hero action film. Once again Tobey Maguire makes the perfect Spider-Man, and they found another great villain to send Spidey’s way with Dr. Octopus. Gotta love Spider-Man, second best only to Batman!!
On opening night my buddy Sieve and I (along with his friend, Greg), went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction!! And boy, was it awesome. So different from the first three, but also very similar in the most essential ways. Anyhoo, it’s been five years since the Battle of Chicago that happened at the end of The Dark of the Moon, and a CIA agent named Harold Attinger (who heads up a secret division named Cemetery Wind) has tasked his unit with not only hunting down all remaining Decepticons and destroying them, but Autobots as well. All Transformers have been vilified, even the Autobots, despite the fact that they saved the planet from enslavement by defeating Megatron and his forces in the Battle of Chicago. Meanwhile, in Texas, a down on his luck inventor named Cade Yeager finds an old semi-truck in an abandoned movie theater, and promptly purchases it. Upon getting it back to his “lab” he begins work on restoring it, only to find out that this old beat up truck is an injured Optimus Prime, who was in hiding after a battle with Attinger’s forces! It’s not long before the CIA picks up reports of sightings of said truck though, and they move in on Yeager’s farm to claim their prize. Optimus fights them off though, and before long he, Cade, Cade’s daughter Tessa, her boyfriend Shane, and Cade’s partner Lucas are on the run from the authorities . . . life as they know it has changed forever. After eluding their pursuers the group soon realizes there are many other factors in play in this scenario that is unfolding in front of them. First, Attinger’s unit is achieving such success in destroying Transformers because he is working alongside another Transformer who has no affiliation, he is more of a cosmic bounty hunter . . . he goes by the name of Lockdown. With the destroyed Transformers Cemetery Wind brings in, they then use the material for research and development via a company named KSI, which is headed by a genius named Joshua Joyce. With the materials gained in Attinger’s crusade, along with some help from Lockdown, Joyce has created his own line of Transformers, which he thinks he is in full control of. However, the material used in his prized bot, Galvatron, was taken from the remains of Megatron . . . so maybe Joyce is not in full control after all! Meanwhile, after meeting up with the remaining Autobots on the planet, which include Bumblebee, Hound, Crosshairs, and Drift, the team of humans and bots prepare a plan to infiltrate KSI’s main office in Chicago to put a stop to what’s happening there. Eventually, after some battles once again with Cemetery Wind as well as Galvatron, they are able to convince Joyce of his folly. The scene then shifts to Beijing, where the race is on to stop Galvatron from creating an army of Decepticon drones that will take over the Earth. To aid their cause Optimus has to recruit four bots that have been on Earth for 65 million years, a group of bots brought in to being when the Transformers “Creators” came to Earth and planted their seeds oh so long ago. But will it be enough to not only stop Galvatron, but repel the nuisance that is Cemetery Wind as well? This movie was pretty awesome. I love Optimus’ retro G1 look at the start of the film, and all of the action sequences that take place throughout. The evolution of Galvatron was pretty cool also, another shout out to the G1 plot line, and the addition of awesome G1 characters like Hound and the Dinobots was very satisfying. The part I really liked was the plot though, it was just so different from the first three (not that I dislike those movies, I love them all very much, it was just such a radical shift in direction) and incorporated so many sub-plots in to one main story, it was really cool to see unfold. And the human actors were all great, too. Wahlberg was awesome as usual, and you gotta respect both Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer’s appearances . . . and then there is Nicola Peltz . . . holy shit, she’s hot. I’m raring to go for a fifth installment, let’s do this!!
During the time off I had with James, we began our movie adventures by watching Spider-Man 3 on opening weekend. This film starts off happily enough. Mary Jane is starring in a play on Broadway, while as Spider-Man Peter Parker has virtually cleaned up the streets of New York, crime is as low as it’s ever been. Peter is even thinking of proposing to Mary Jane! The one wild card though is Harry Osborn, who dons some of his father’s old gear and comes after Spider-Man. However, in the action that unfolds during their battle Harry is injured and gains amnesia, so all thoughts of revenge against Spider-Man are out of his head and they can resume the great friendship they once had. The peace doesn’t last long though, as soon enough the wheels start to fall off for everyone. First (this is in random order), Mary Jane gets fired from her play after some terrible reviews on opening night, and combined with the public adoration Spider-Man is getting it all adds up to a great depression for her. Second, Harry regains his memories and is once again deadset on bringing down Spider-Man. Third, an asteroid hits the Earth and releases a bizarre, living symbiote substance, which binds itself to Peter and causes him to become a little bit evil. Fourth, a photographer named Eddie Brock has horned in on Peter’s territory at the Daily Bugle, and has even gained himself a staff job. And finally, an escaped convict named Flint Marko causes Spider-Man some grief after gaining powers in a particle accelerator accident, forever after dubbed as The Sandman. With all of these forces going against one another it’s not long before everybody’s lives turn upside down . . . and miserable. After an incident in which Peter accidentally backhands Mary Jane, he realizes the suit the symbiote material formed is changing him in a way he doesn’t like. However, in casting off the symbiote, a willing host in Eddie Brock steps in to claim ownership. The end result is now a third villain, Venom, who Spidey has to go up against. The action all culminates in a battle at a construction site, where Venom and Sandman use a captured Mary Jane as bait to lure in the Spider-Man and finish him off once and for all. The wild card that may turn the tide of the battle though is Harry Osborn . . . just what will he make of it all, and whose side will he choose? This was a great film, my favourite of the three for sure. I mostly like it the best because Venom is my favourite Spider-Man villain, so it was awesome to see him represented in the series. And I really like Topher Grace too, so to see him play Venom was pretty cool. I like the fact that they had two main super villains in this movie as opposed to the usual one, and the addition of Gwen Stacey was pretty neat also. It was a pretty exciting way for the Tobey Maguire series of Spider-Man films to go out!!
During our time off I finished a DVD set I’d been working through, that being Darkwing Duck volume 1! This is a Disney show that originally aired when I was a young teenager, way back in the early 1990’s. Drake Mallard is the main character in the series, and although he seems like any ordinary duck living in St. Canard, the opposite is in fact the truth. For at night he moonlights as Darkwing Duck, crime fighting fowl extraordinaire! However, Drake feels as though he’s not getting the recognition he deserves for his role in keeping the streets of St. Canard as safe as he possibly can. All of that changes though, when he stumbles upon an evil plot by famed criminal Taurus Bulba. Although he’s in way over his head, Darkwing comes out on top and thus starts to become a household name in the city. During his adventures Darkwing gains a couple of companions. First is Launchpad McQuack (yes, from Duck Tales!), a pilot who let’s just say . . . is a little bit clumsy. Gosalyn is the other, a small orphan duckling who Drake takes under his wing and raises as his own daughter. The struggle is then on for Drake to balance life as a father with his lust for the limelight as Darkwing Duck! Throughout the rest of his adventures he must face down many villains including Steelbeak, Ammonia Pine, Professor Moliarty, Tuskernini, Jumbalaya Jake, as well as the fearsome five (Negaduck, Megavolt, Bushroot, The Liquidator, and Quackerjack), among others. This collection of episodes includes the 2 episode pilot, plus the next 25 episodes on top of that. Although not one of my favourite cartoons at the time, I found myself highly enjoying this collection as it unfolded all these years later. On to volume 2!!
In the middle of our week off James and I finally watched The Amazing Spider-Man, and boy was it good!! I didn’t think I’d like a reboot without Tobey Maguire, as I really enjoy him as Spider-Man, but boy that Andrew Garfield sure is likeable! In this first film of the most current reboot, the story starts off with a blast from Peter Parker’s past. Playing a game of hide and seek Peter finds his father’s home office ransacked, upon discovering this his parents rush him to his Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s house, where he would live forever after, as his parents soon after perished in a plane crash. Fast forward many years and Peter is now in high school, a bright kid who is in to photography, science, robotics, you name it! One day, in helping his Uncle Ben clean out their flooded basement, Peter discovers a briefcase hidden away that had belonged to his father. He takes quite an interest in it and after poring over it’s contents and finding a secret compartment, Peter finds a link in his father’s research (for he was a scientist) to Oscorp, and more specifically a scientist who works there, Dr. Curt Connors. Posing as an intern Peter infiltrates Oscorp, only to find out that the brainy girl he is interested in at school, Gwen Stacy, works at Oscorp directly under Dr. Connors! After meeting the Dr. and impressing him with his knowledge, it’s not long before Peter stumbles in to an area where Oscorp is doing research on spiders . . . and Peter is promptly bitten by one of them. Soon afterwards he finds he has amazing new powers such as heightened senses, super strength, and the ability to stick to walls. He even constructs robotic web slingers so he can traverse the city by swinging from building to building! It’s not long before Peter’s putting his powers to good use, taking down the criminal element of New York with gusto, especially so after his Uncle Ben is killed by one of said criminals while out combing the streets for a disgruntled Peter. Some portray Spider-Man as a hero, others a vigilante villain as does Gwen’s father, who just so happens to be the chief of police. In between his crime fighting bouts Peter visits Dr. Connors as they have struck up a friendship since their first meeting, and Peter wants to pump him for more information about his research, seeing as what happened to him with the spider and all. Peter even helps Dr. Connors complete an algorithm that brings to fruition years of research Curt’s been doing on splicing human DNA with that of reptiles (Dr. Connors has a vested interest in reptiles as they can regrow missing limbs, and Connors just so happens to be missing an arm). However, this proves to be a mistake by Peter, as the formula doesn’t quite work the way it’s supposed to and Dr. Connors evolves in to a massive, bipedal monstrosity that becomes known as The Lizard! The Lizard goes on a rampage throughout New York, in an effort to further his research and ultimately turn the entire population in to lizard people like himself, and there is only one person who can stop him . . . possibly. Can Peter put to rights what he handed so directly to Dr. Connors, or will New York end up looking like a massive PetSmart terrarium? I loved this movie. As I said, Andrew Garfield is super likeable and made an awesome Spider-Man, and on top of that you’ve got actors involved like Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and of course the delicious Emma Stone!! I found the subtle differences interesting also, like how he uses a machine to sling his webs, and how there is no newspaper outlet like the Daily Bugle involved. Cool flick, can’t wait until the second is released on DVD!
Another thing I finished during our time off was the book I was working on, Stephen King’s Under the Dome: Part One. The action takes place in a small Maine town called Chester’s Mill. It’s a true, bumpkin lovin’ type of American small town, the main character is a thirty something drifter named Dale “Barbie” Barbara. He is a former soldier and wandered in to town, getting a job as a short order cook at the local restaurant. However, he is currently on his way out of town after an undeserved run-in with some of the town’s younger inhabitants. But while walking his way out of town on the highway, Barbie witnesses some strange phenomena. First of all a woodchuck unexplainably gets cut clean in half while meandering down the shoulder of the road. Then, an airplane high above him seemingly runs in to an invisible wall and explodes on contact, as do many cars and trucks soon afterwards. It’s not long before Barbie surmises that some sort of invisible barrier has gone up along the town line, and it seems to carry a type of electrical current with it. Not being the most popular guy in town though, he can’t really take his claims to the higher ups. Soon enough the rest of the town learns about this development, and the Mill’s second selectman, “Big” Jim Rennie, takes matters in to his own hands. He is a big, fat, religious idiot who thinks of the town as his own personal kingdom, and “for the good of the town” he’s been running perhaps the country’s largest meth lab in a large barn out behind his religious radio station. Big Jim is pissed off when he soon hears from the commanding military officer in charge of trying to get them out of this invisible “dome”, that Barbie should be the one in command of the situation. Immediately Big Jim starts maneuvering his followers to impede Barbie’s authority, maybe even eventually get him arrested . . . and the means are anything but legal. However, Barbie has his own band of followers, people who hate Big Jim and the grip he’s had on the town for years, people such as the owner of the restaurant Barbie works at, the lady who runs the local newspaper, one of the town’s doctor/nurse, and a small group of teenagers he tasks with trying to find the source of power behind the dome. As the days tick by and the dome stays in place, with the military having zero success in bringing it down, the paranoia and fear starts to mount, and things get much out of hand. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just say that the book ends on a cliff-hanger surrounding a number of issues . . . so the second book should sure be a doozy!! Great read . . .
Early last week I read through a book I picked up at Costco quite a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to looking at, called Tolkien’s World. This large, fully coloured volume glosses over many things that take place in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of the Lord of the Rings. It describes the origins of the races of Middle-Earth, including Elves, Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits, and goes in to more detail for some of the more important and influential characters from each of said races. Events surrounding both The Hobbit as well as the three Lord of the Rings volumes are represented, along with key allies, enemies, items, weapons, locations, as well as a general overall history of Middle-Earth. Like I said the book is full colour and the artwork is all very well done, giving a bit of a different look and feel from what you see in the live action movies. Although it’s listed as the unofficial and unauthorized guide to Middle-Earth, the information is very accurate, this book is a good addition for any fan of Tolkien’s works.
Late last week James and I finished watching season 2 of Lego: Ninjago on DVD, it put a nice and tidy little ending on the events that played out over the first two seasons. The action picks up right after the close of season one, when the ninjas destroyed The Great Devourer and the threat it imposed upon Ninjago City. In the battle the ninjas’ ship was damaged and Lord Garmadon hijacked what was left of it, turning it in to his own mobile headquarters. Garmadon also recruited most of the Serpentine to his cause, although the heads of the various Serpentine tribes don’t follow him and get to scheming on how to get their power back. As for the ninjas, they are now without a home, so eventually after a chance meeting, they settle in to a small dojo run by a wannabe ninja named Dareth Mojo. Out of this dojo the ninja focus on intensely training Lloyd, for his is to become the fabled green ninja. In between sessions Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane, along with Nya and Sensei Wu, must to fend off Garmadon’s continued attacks. For he has stolen the ninjas’ golden weapons of power and turned them in to the mega weapon . . . which can only create and not destroy, as Garmadon would have liked it to! In one of their encounters a side effect of the weapon is that Lloyd is aged many years, aged enough that it appears his time as the green ninja has finally come to pass. Not much later a couple of events take place that shape the rest of the season. The Serpentine betray Lord Garmadon and push him in to the ocean, where he washes up on the Island of Darkness. There he forms an alliance with the mysterious Overlord, to bring a devastating weapon in to existence and turn it loose on Ninjago City. Meanwhile the Serpentine plan their own attack on Ninjago City and in the process manage to awaken the Stone Army, who cause the ninjas all sorts of trouble. A final mission is then planned, for the ninja team to travel to the Island of Darkness and stop Garmadon once and for all. Aiding them on their journey are a couple of people they pick up along the way, a surprise appearance by Lloyd’s mother, Misako, as well as Zane’s creator, Dr. Julien. Although highly skilled and capable, it’s still a small team going up against Garmadon and his newfound Stone Army . . . do they have what it takes to get the job done? This season of Ninjago was even better than the first . . . lots of cool plot lines, funny and interesting new characters, and some great, dark action near the end. Although this seemed like it would be the series finale, I’ve heard there is a third season . . . gotta love Lego!!
During our recent action packed weekend Johnny and I watched a couple of films, the first being a title I’ve wanted to see for so long now . . . Step Brothers!! This movie begins when a couple of 60 something people named Nancy and Robert meet at a medical conference and immediately fall in love. The relationship moves quickly and soon enough the pair is married . . . not long afterwards comes moving day. The only complication is that both of them have older sons that still live at home, and both are basically shiftless layabouts. Nancy brings her 39 year old son Brennan to live with Robert and his 40 year old son, Dale. The two have a rocky start, and when a fracas erupts over Brennan’s use of Dale’s drum set, the two are at even longer odds. However, when one night Brennan’s older, and highly successful brother Derek comes to visit, Dale eventually stands up to him and punches him in the face. Awed by Dale’s actions the two quickly realize they have a ton in common and become best friends! But with Brennan and Dale being forced by Robert to go out and look for jobs, in preparation for them moving out on their own, the tension is mounting. After many botched interviews the duo come up with a plan to form their own entertainment company and pitch it to Derek at his birthday party. The presentation is taken as a joke and the last straw is drawn when Robert realizes from their video presentation that the boys have crashed his beloved sailboat, which he was planning on sailing around the world with Nancy upon their retirements. This causes Nancy and Robert’s relationship to break down, and they announce their divorce soon after. The boys are devastated and blame themselves, and are finally forced to go out on their own and fend for themselves. Brennan gets a job from his brother at his helicopter leasing firm, while Dale goes in to the catering business. At an event hosted by Derek’s company, the Catalina Wine Mixer, Brennan’s make or break time has come as he has organized the entire event. In doing so he hires Dale to provide the catering, and things are going swimmingly until the band gets kicked out for bad behaviour. It is then up to Dale on his drums, and Brennan, singing for the first time in years, to save the event, potentially reunite their parents, and maybe even lay the groundwork for the company they so badly want to start, called Prestige Worldwide. But can these two bumbling idiots buckle down and get it done after so many previous failed attempts at adulthood? This movie is a non-stop laugh fest right from the get go, I nearly pissed myself when Brennan rubbed his nutsack all over Dale’s drum set!! Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have such great chemistry together, I hope they do more films in the future. The rest of the cast was really good too, I quite enjoyed the actresses who played Nancy, as well as Derek’s wife, Alice. This is just flat out slapstick comedy gold . . .
The other movie we watched starred John C. Reilly once more . . . it was none other than Walk Hard! This story begins in Springberry, Alabama, in the year 1946. The main character is Dewey Cox. As the film opens up we witness him playing with his beloved brother Nate, who is a very outgoing and talented kid. During their horseplay Dewey accidentally kills Nate, slicing him in half with a machete. Ever since that day his hard ass father insisted that the wrong son died that day. Seeking to make Nate’s last wishes come true, Dewey latches on to playing the guitar, after seeing some older gentlemen playing the blues down at the local store. Dewey’s quest to create a musical masterpiece Nate would be proud of is on, and not too many years later it comes to fruition when his band plays the local school talent show. And Dewey’s music gets the place a rocking! Back at home afterwards Dewey’s father (much to his mother’s dismay) kicks him out of the house, ashamed that he is the author of such raucous noise. Dewey hits the bricks, taking along his girlfriend Edith along with him. Pan forward a short time and Dewey and Edith are living on their own, having children like it’s nobody’s business! There is tension though, as Dewey’s career hasn’t taken off like they were hoping. However, after a fight one day Dewey gets some inspiration from his wife and writes his first hit. The response to the song is immediate and in no time flat Dewey Cox and his band have gained much fame, and are hitting the road hard, touring like crazy. And what comes with life on the road is of course booze, drugs, and sex with all sorts of women. Because of this newfound situation Dewey and Edith begin to grow apart, and when a singer named Darlene arrives to audition for the band, the final nail in Dewey’s marriage coffin is driven in. For Dewey and Darlene fall in love instantly and after abstaining for as long as they can, eventually they get married. But it all comes unravelled when Edith shows up at Dewey’s hotel room on the road, catching him in bed with Darlene, who didn’t know he was married. Losing both women and going in to a funk Dewey hits even heavier drugs, both his behaviour and his music then become more volatile and erratic. Eventually Dewey flames out, after confronting his father and apologizing for Nate’s death all those years earlier. Dewey gains peace with Pa Cox, but only after Pa accidentally offs himself by cutting himself in half with a machete when going after Dewey! These events prompt Dewey to drop out of the spotlight and spend some time getting to know all of the kids he’s been ignoring their whole lives. He finds great peace in it, he even hooks back up with Darlene. Many years later, as Dewey is just in to his 70’s, an agent contacts him and informs Dewey that he is going to be receiving a lifetime achievement award in the near future. They want him to do a live performance on the awards show, which would be his first in over 20 years. Dewey is up to the task, contacting his old band mates, but he wants to write the masterpiece that has eluded him all these years . . . can Dewey come up with some last second inspiration and give his family the performance he’s always dreamt of? This movie was nearly as funny as Step Brothers, and just as ridiculous. The recurring scenes where he gets introduced to each new drug are hilarious, and the songs they wrote for Reilly to perform in this movie are dynamite, so good and so hilarious. What also amazed me was the number of stars that showed up for bit roles along the way, which included the likes of Craig Robinson, Harold Ramis, Martin Starr, Jack McBrayer, Frankie Muniz, Ed Helms, Jack White, Jane Lynch, Jewel, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Vedder, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman, among others. Add to this a main cast that featured Reilly, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell and Jenna Fischer, and you’ve got one hell of a film. So glad I finally saw this!
That same weekend I closed things off by finishing the most recent book I was reading, The Cold Moon, by Jeffery Deaver. This novel features some of his previously established characters that have been featured in prior novels, most notably the paralyzed forensic investigator Lincoln Rhyme, and his police detective girlfriend Amelia Sachs. The two are teamed up once again when a couple of murders are reported that share a common link . . . the fact that a special clock was left behind at each scene. For the murderer, who has dubbed himself The Watchmaker, killed his subjects in cruel, torturous ways where they would have had time to ponder what was happening to them even as they perished. As the pair are working on this case along with other key members of their team, Sachs is also investigating a separate case, the very first one she has ever been assigned as her own case. The death in this scenario appears to be a suicide, but Amelia’s instincts tell her otherwise and she starts digging. Meanwhile, the team has brought in the help of a kinesics expert named Kathryn Dance for the Watchmaker case, who is in town from sunny California giving a conference on the subject. At first the going is slow as the killer has left behind virtually nothing for them to go on, but after Dance interviews some witnesses and they catch a couple of breaks, the pace starts to quicken. Furthermore, as Sachs continues to dig on her other case some links between the two cases begin to surface and the situation becomes even more puzzling. Will the crew be able to track down this Watchmaker and stop him before he strikes again, or will there be more citizens of New York dying gruesome deaths at the hands of this most efficient killer? This is not my normal type of fare when it comes to literature, as I prefer things a lot less realistic, but I was between books and had this lying around so I gave it a go. It was a pretty good story, the plot was very complicated and interwoven, a very clever story. Solid read.
Finally, for the last while I’ve been listening to a release from Bobnoxious . . . their Greatest Hits CD!! Boy is it amazing, so raucous! Bobnoxious is a band from my hometown here in London, and they are a true rock n’ roll outfit. They hardly ever slow down, it’s balls to the wall guitar driven rock, and the main subjects of interest in their songs are sex, drugs and rock n’ roll . . . oh, and booze too, of course. The frontman, Bob, has one of the most recognizable voices I’ve ever heard, a terrific type of growl that lends their brand of musical mastery an even higher level of awesomeness. The band has quite a sense of humour too, writing their own satirical Christmas songs as well as titles about “that time of the month”. Bobnoxious dropped their debut, self-titled album back around 2003 or so, while this Greatest Hits package was released in 2011, containing 18 tracks from amongst their first five albums. The songs that I’ve heard on the radio for years now that are my favourite include “Big Cannons”, “Won’t Go Quietly”, “Should’ve Been Nice To Me” & “Police Nabbed My Dad”. However, this disc opened up a whole new world for me and my new, previously unheard favourites include “On A Front”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Holiday In Disney”, “Don’t”, “Let It Go”, “Full Moon”, “Here We Go Again” & “Long Night”. So amazing, consider me a newly appointed Rockaholic!!