Thursday, February 28, 2013


I loved this movie as a kid and watching it now, it still has it's charms.  I liked the concept of the film, in which a meteorite hits the Earth and brings basic single celled alien lifeforms in which they evolve rapidly.  Sure, there were a few times where the movie slows down and you want to skip it to get to the good parts, but the move was entertaining from start to finish.  Once the monsters starting coming out into the public, it just got better and better.  The climax, in which the ultimate monster arises, felt strange and didn't feel like it fitted into the rest of the film.  Since there was all that build up with more and more complex monsters and then suddenly we have that thing.  The special effects were well done and not over the top.  While some of the humor was crude, the movie was funny and enjoyable.  There were some classic scenes and dialogue.  The Head & Shoulders advertisement at the end was weird and seems tacked on.  The ending overall feels low quality and rushed.  If you don't take the movie seriously, then it's a fun ride.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: The Reptile Room

Review:  #316
Title:  The Reptile Room
Series:  A Series of Unfortunate Events - 2nd book
Author:  Lemony Snicket
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  The style of writing can get annoying at times, since the author loves wasting your time and fills up the book with rubbish like what words mean and gets sidetracked.  He mentioned before it happens, the death of someone again and again, once is okay, but not three or four times.  It’s the same with repeating the strength of each Baudelaire siblings.  It gets annoying really quickly, and you come to realise how stupid and unrealistic the plot is.  How the villain Count Olaf keeps getting away with the things that he does.  It seems that everyone is stupid in that universe, and every time the Baudelaire siblings will be ignored, it doesn’t even make sense now.
Rating:  6/10

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toy Review: Transformers Prime Thundertron

Review:  #128
Name:  Thundertron
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Prime
Year of Release:  2012
Size Class:  Voyager (Wave 4)
Variations:  repainted in the Japanese Prime (Arms Micron) line as Leo Prime


Thundertron transforms into a blue lion type beast.  It's notably a robotic lion (there's barely any organic elements).

The tail is weirdly situated in the middle of the torso, and it's made of a soft rubbery plastic.

The area around the head feels like a mess with the panels (and it doesn't completely obscure the head).  However, the beast head is nicely sculpted and painted, it looks very good.

The beast mode is static, there's no real poseability.  The forelegs are fixed, and while the rear legs can be moved around, it doesn't add anything.

The 'wings' serve to cover the insubstantial torso.  While some people will find this to be cheaty, I thought it was okay and Thundertron looks great anyway.  He features a variation of the Decepticon insignia, since he is part of the Star Seeker faction first seen in the Exiles book.

For a Voyager, he is a tad bit tiny.  It's evident he has more mass than a Deluxe sized toy, but maybe it's because he has a beast mode, which just doesn't convey the illusion of a large size as well as vehicular modes do.

Finally, you can also store his gigantic weapon on his back, yeah... it looks ridiculous there but at least you can peg it somewhere on the figure.  I think it's a good beast mode, it looks cool and it's solid, it just lacks in some play value.


It's likely that a lot of people would not like Thundertron's transformation.  At it's core, it's the dreaded "stand him up and fiddle around with the beast legs to become robot legs and beast arms to become robot arms".  However, the designer has tried to spice things up, the legs are still as uninteresting as ever, but the way the arms form is unexpected and more complex than you'd expect.  The downside is that transforming back to beast mode can be confusing since the arms twist in ways that you don't expect.  Surprisingly, there's also a number of panels around the beast's head that you have to manipulate in order to form the robot chest and get the head out.


I'm going to say it, Thundertron's robot mode looks really awesome.  I just love his waist skirt and the beast head that forms his chest and the way the beast claws form shoulder pads.

He's relatively kibble free, just the panels that act as skirt armor.  He's also got the beast forearms hanging on either side of his head.

The head is odd, it's extremely long, and it features a beard.  The crest folds down for transformation, and I find that it covers his already small eyes.  I guess it fits the pirate theme.

Let's have a look at his huge gimmicky weapon.  It has a bronze claw on one end and a clear blue sword on the other.

He's got peg holes on each forearm to place the weapon in.  The claws don't extend out too much to look natural or formidable.

The gimmick of the weapon (and the reason why it's so large) is that you can morph it into a sword but pressing the blue piece.  It also features a led light but it's not strong enough to illuminate the sword.  This is also the reason he has clear blue forearms, it's so when you activate the gimmick, it illuminates his forearms as well.

What I like to do is just to rotate the weapon around so that the sword faces the front (instead of taking the spring out like so many other people do).

You can also store the weapon on his back, it uses the same peg hole as the beast mode.

The leg sculpting is amazing but you might have noticed that the sculpting is a little bit different for each leg (as well as the paint application is different).

The reason is that you can detach his right foot!  Thus he now has a peg leg, just like a typical pirate.  Personally, I think it's taking it a bit too far having a robot have such a leg but I'm sure many others out there think it's a novel idea.

Balancing becomes more of an issue but surprisingly, it's not too bad.  He won't tip over that easily but precarious action poses are out of the question.

So... the foot looks like this... what to do with it? (Hint:  it's already in one of the pictures above)

Turns out the foot contains a peg hole which you can plug into one of his forearms as a claw weapon (and a better looking claw weapon than the big electronic weapon).

Thundertron has an athletic robot mode.  While it's less bulky than most Voyagers, it's still a decent size.

Poseability is quite good, he has excellent articulation and is sturdy on his feet.  The only complaint I have is how restricted his head is, if it had the ability to look up, then it'll be perfect.  Of note, the waist skirts are on balljoints, so it can be positioned to your liking.

A good robot mode.  Initially, I was a bit worried about the shade of blue used, making him brighter/lighter than necessary, but I had no problems once I got him in hand.  Oh, and the beast's tail just hands from his back which is a bit awkward.


I love this toy, for some reason, it appeals to me, from the beast mode to the robot mode.  I admit that he has some flaws, the transformation can be unnecessary tricky with the arms (but overall, is very simple in concept).  I just think he looks great, and I heartily recommend the figure.


Other Transformers reviews can be found on this page.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: The Bad Beginning

Review:  #315
Title:  The Bad Beginning
Series:  A Series of Unfortunate Events - 1st book
Author:  Lemony Snicket
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  An enjoyable book, if you don’t think too much about the plot.  The protagonists, the Baudelaire siblings, really have it tough and are unfortunate.  It hits you hard when things don’t go their way, and it’s even worse when it continually happens.  The plot by Count Olaf to steal their fortunes was a bit simple, and illogical.  If I were him, I wouldn't propose immediately my evil plan for everyone to know… that’s just stupid and shooting yourself in the foot.  Anyway, the narration is interesting (and I guess it would expand your vocabulary too) and keeps you going, adding extras to the story.  It creates a protective feeling for the siblings, thus when the sad ending comes, you feel sympathetic to them.  It’s not the most complex thing you’re going to read, but it does the job.
Rating:  6/10

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

No... just no.  Why do I put so much expectation towards these Harry Potter movies when they just disappoint me time and time again.  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration as Deathly Hallows Part 2 was one of the better films since Chamber of Secrets (before they started going all into the 'dark and gritty' theme).  Still, if you're a fan of the books, the way the plot was dealt with here might incense you a few times.  I seriously don't know why this film gets so much praise, when there were so many cliche moments, in vain hopes of creating some humor or effect.  For example, the statues coming to life and the way they arrived (i.e. dropping down, kneeling) was done before, as was McGonagall saying "I've always wanted to do that" being lame.  I was thinking "are you serious?" when the wand fights occurred and I was looking at the weird special effects (especially the start of the battle where it looked just like arrows flying towards a besieged castle... I've seen that many times in movies).  The actual battle, to which it was building up to, was disappointing, and I really hated how they changed the final parts.  It should have been everyone fighting in the hall, with allies helping each other fending off Voldemort and spectators cheering them on, giving a sense of unity.  Instead, we get a stupid one on one of Harry against Voldemort, which turned out to be lame anyway (Voldemort using strips of fabric?  WTF).  The only redeeming part was the revelation of Snape, which, while doesn't even stand on the same level of the book's version, still brought out some of the same effects.  Like most of the other Harry Potter movies, a lot of the original plot is lost and can be confusing for viewers without the 'background knowledge'.  This is the least boring movie out of the last four, but I refuse to say that it's a good movie.  Go read the book instead, and for all you people that say why read when you can watch the movie.  Well... you'll see why adapting such a long book with a complex plot into four hours is not a good idea.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Review:  #314
Title:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Series:  Chronicles of Narnia - 1st book
Author:  C.S. Lewis
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  An amazing book that really immerses you into the world of Narnia.  It feels just the sort of fantasy world you’ll love.  The story is simple but sucks you right in.  It teases you with some facts of Aslan, never revealing all.  One of the things I’ve noticed though is the events, sometimes it happens and you’re thinking, I didn't see that coming, it feels… disjointed.  It’s hard to describe, but the closest thing I could say is that the book seems to have mood swings.  Anyway, one of my favourite books from the series, it has a special touch to it.
Rating:  6.5/10

Friday, February 22, 2013

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Fall of Cybertron Starscream

Review:  #127
Name:  Starscream
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Fall of Cybertron
Year of Release:  2012
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 3)
Variations:  repainted in the JP line as Skywarp


Starscream transforms into a Cybertronian jet with two huge gatling guns underneath the wings.  He has his signature colours of red, blue and grey.

While the general shape is quite good, the back falls apart since that's where his legs and arms are.  The legs don't look too close to thrusters and there's a gap between the legs.

The head is visible, albeit face down, it's still obvious.  There's also a gap in the fuselage, which is apparently game-accurate but it doesn't mean that it looks good.

This is a very chunky jet, thanks to the chunky legs that store on the sides.  You can also detach the tailfin, attach the combined gun and put the tailfin back on (although I haven't got a photo of this).

Starscream is a good size, although he feels lighter than you'd expect thanks to the largely hollow legs.

A nice jet.  The design isn't too far-fetched and it looks great.


It's a very simply transformation, so much that when you're done, you think, "is that it?".  The way the arms store feels lame and inelegant.  The way the torso forms/the nose folds down was slightly different to other jet-formers, and thus provided some interests.  Overall, a fairly disappointing transformation since it contained nothing we haven't seen before.


Starscream's robot mode is once again game-accurate, right down to the chunky legs.

Just like in jet mode, you can remove the tailfin and place the combined gun on his back to store it.

The head sculpt is good, and although I didn't like it at first, it has grown on me.  The head cannot lift up even though it's on a balljoint.  Turning it side to side can be tricky since the two shoulder pads get in the way.

Starscream is around the height of a standard Deluxe (think the Classics seekers mold).  As mentioned, his legs are largely hollow.

The thing I hate most about this robot is the way his torso is hollow since that is where the arms store in jet mode.  I hated it when it was present on Terradive, and I hate it now.  Wished the designer could have found a way to cover this empty gap.

Starscream comes with twin gatling guns, and they look formidable (thanks to their large size).

One of the best features in this figure is that the two guns can combine together (apparently resembling the neutron assault rifle from the Fall of Cybertron game).  There are gears that connect and spinning one of the barrels with automatically spin the other, a neat gimmick.

Starscream can hold the combined gun two-handed, but it severely limits his arm articulation.

The other options are to keep the guns separate and you can either have him hold the guns in his hand or attach them to holes on the outside of his forearms.

If you would rather Starscream have proper facing elbows then that's no problem either, thanks to rotating wrists.

The articulation is good.  His arms have a great range of motion.  His legs seem to be more limited, just mainly because of how big and awkward his legs are (which can cause some balance issues on more dynamic poses).

The colors are well done here, evoking the character.  All paint applications are in good spots, enhancing the figure instead of looking tacky and awkward.

A good robot mode.  I wouldn't say it's spectacular but it does the job.


Personally, I think as a new mold, Starscream feels slightly disappointing.  From the chunky jet to the hollow feel of the robot mode, it just feels that he didn't deliver.  The transformation feels very simple, and it doesn't feel as if they have improved too much on the concept from the Classics days.  I'd say, only get this toy if the character appeals to you and while he has grown on me, I think there are better designed toys elsewhere.


Other Transformers reviews can be found here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: How to Train Your Dragon

Review:  #313
Title:  How to Train Your Dragon
Series:  How to Train Your Dragon - 1st book
Author:  Cressida Cowell
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Not quite the story I was looking for.  This had a very basic plot, with little to not complexity, but considering the target audience, I guess that was to be expected.  The illustrations were a tad bit too rough, so it didn't add to the text, and wasn't great to look at.  This had seemed to be a short picture story book stretched out to a full blown novel.  You could guess what was going to happen and how to defeat the two gigantic dragons that had turned up.  Hiccup wasn't really a likeable character, nothing spectacular happened such that you could feel proud of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless.  I was disappointed.
Rating:  5.5/10
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