Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Tanith Low in... The Maleficent Seven

Review:  #377
Title:  Tanith Low in... The Maleficent Seven
Series:  Skulduggery Pleasant - companion book
Author:  Derek Landy
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The events that happen in this spin-off feel crucial to understanding future Skulduggery Pleasant books.  It focuses on Tanith Low and how she enacts a plan (teaming up with six other people, hence the title) to steal four weapons.  It doesn’t get too much more complicated than that but with the various deaths and implications of her actions that are sure to be brought up in the main series; you definitely don’t want to skip The Maleficent Seven.  While the plot wasn’t too clever or complex, there was enough going for it to be interesting.  Some of the humor was good.  Various events still leave you feeling desensitized.  A lot of killing but feels like there isn’t a proper purpose behind it.  A lot of scheming and planning, but it isn’t clever enough.  It feels ordinary, I guess the thing I’m trying to get through here, is that the book and characters try so hard to be badass, but the truth is, it doesn’t come out that well.  Anyway, it’s still a nice addition to the series.
Rating:  6/10

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Toy Review: Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Windrazor (Legion)

Review:  #149
Name:  Windrazor
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Predacon
Line:  Prime - Beast Hunters
Year of Release:  2013
Size Class:  Legion (Wave 3)
Variations:  a clear version sold in a giftset which was a Target exclusive


Windrazor transforms into a bird/dinosaur-like beast/monster.  According to the back of the packaging, this is dragon mode.

This is a well formed beast mode.  Windrazor gives the illusion of bulk thanks to the large wingspan but he feels very lanky in your hands.

The head is fairly detailed and he has a surprising amount of paint applications (his wings are painted in addition to gold highlights around the body).

As mentioned, he is a bit small.  I forgot to straighten him up in the above photo (since I like to pose Windrazor in a crouching position, makes him look more realistic).

You can plug the weapon in a few places here, the first (and best) place would be outside of his legs.  They're the least obtrusive there.

He can also hold the weapon with his mouth, which is interesting (understandable since that's where Abominus holds his weapons in combined mode).

Major visual flaw here would be that his hands are clearly visible.  He also has a hollow chest thanks to transformation.

Unlike some of the other Terrorcons, Windrazor isn't as poseable in beast mode.  There's only so much you can do but on the other hand, he looks great as it is already.


Not as complex as the other Terrorcons, yet more so than what you expect.  With beast forms, it's always tempting for the designer to just have the beast arms turn into robot arms and beast legs into robot legs, with minimal manipulation.  With this smaller size, the temptation would be even greater.  However, the transformation manipulates enough parts for it to be satisfying and exceed your expectations.  True, his arms don't really change much, and his legs are just formed by flip up a piece, but that's one piece more than they had to.  In the end, quite impressive.


Robot mode looks great here, I particularly love the wings on the outside of his arms, it feels like Windrazor could use them for defensive or offensive purposes.

Once again, Windrazor is fairly lanky here, and thicker lower legs would make him look more aesthetically appealing.

The head sculpt is good, and you can just make up the smirk in the above photo.  The head is hard to get a focus on due to the extremely small size.

You can make out the Predacon insignia on the top of his right shoulder guard.  Unusually, it's more visible in beast mode than in robot mode.

Windrazor is still small in nature compared to some other Legion toys.

While some may view the wings to be kibbly, I really like it and it gives him a lot of character.  For some reason, it reminds me of Terrorsaur (particularly the Transmetal version).

Windrazor might look like he's quite poseable but the opposite is true.  He has balljointed elbows, true, but they're restricted such that you can't straight them.  He also lacks needs and his head is fixed, so effectively, the only meaningful movements are in his shoulders and this elbows being posed inwards.

His weapon is a "Tornado Bow", he shares his weapon with Rippersnapper, which is a shame.  For some reason, my Windrazor cannot hold it securely.

Anyway, there are a few possibilities in how Windrazor holds it.  The weapon seems like a cross being a gun and a bow and arrow lookalike.

A great robot mode that has a distinctive appearance.


This is an amazing figure, especially considering it's size.  He looks wicked in both modes and even if you have no intention of obtaining all the Terrorcons to form Abominus, he is still worth picking up.


Other Transformers reviews can be perused at this page here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cars 2

I enjoyed the first movie, and I didn't think it was too bad.  While having the characters as cars with eyes and mouths wasn't the most original idea ever, it was still executed fairly well.  I didn't expect it to have a sequel though.  Overall, I think the original is the better movie, Cars 2 seem to have fallen into the trap of having too many cliche elements.  It's still an enjoyable movie, and fun to watch.  The animation is top-notch and I was impressed by the London scenes, the environment was beautifully animated.  Cars 2 is more action orientated, and surprisingly, guns are heavily featured, as well as explosions and intent to kill.  This is more like a comedy spy film than a kid friendly animation.  I'm not completely sold on this new direction.  Anyway, there were some good humor, especially when the creators had some fun in getting around the limitations of being a car and making the characters do what humans normally do.  There's a typical underlying message here.  The ending was fun and it was a heartwarming moment.  The revelation of the mastermind behind everything was disappointing though, the villain didn't seem to fit the character.  While it doesn't have that special feel like other Disney Pixar films, it's still a decent film and a blast to watch.

Of note, the Hawaiian Vacation short set in the Toy Story universe as a special feature in the DVD was brilliant and funny.  It stole the show and felt much more fun than the Cars 2 movie itself...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: Deltora Quest Volume 10

Review:  #376
Title:  Deltora Quest Volume 10
Series:  Deltora Quest - 10th volume
Author:  Story by Emily Rodda; Illustrated by Makoto Niwano
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Guess what?  After the last volume completed the Dread Mountain arc, this final volume condenses the last three books into one volume!  Yeah, they spent all that time in the beginning dragging each book out and staying so faithfully to its source material and then they give up in the end.  Not sure if this was a conscious and deliberate decision made right from the start or the manga was getting axed and the illustrator had to wrap it up.  Anyway, it does not do the last three books justice (well… even less justice than normal).  Especially the Valley of the Lost arc, the manga adaptation loses all the cleverness and ingenuity.  It felt too brief and skipped too many things.  Overall, the manga adaptation of Deltora Quest didn’t live up to its potential; from the forced humor (it tries to be serious at times yet extremely silly at others, inconsistent) to the style of drawing.
Rating:  5.5/10

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Toy Review: Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Prowl (Legion)

Review:  #148
Name:  Prowl
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Prime - Beast Hunters
Year of Release:  2013
Size Class:  Legion (Wave 2)
Variations:  retool of BH Smokescreen and the original mold was also repainted later on as BH Bluestreak.


In typical fashion, Prowl transforms into a black and white police car, the black paint used is really nice (since it's rich and glossy).  Prowl is a technically a retool of Smokescreen since there's the addition of a painted lightbar.

The spoiler is wicked and the car overall is great.  Prowl is well painted too, his wrap-around windshield along with the back windows are painted.

One of the best things about this mold is that the back is fully molded realistic!  The designer could have easily gone the lazy route like with many other Legion toys (heck, even some Deluxe toys!) and leave the back all gappy, exposing robot joints but no, it's perfect here.  Granted, it's unpainted but that might be asking for too much.

Prowl feels small, but he's actually the same size as RtS Prowl from a few years back.

A nice trend with Legions is that they come with weapons (although there isn't too much variety).  Prowl has a few peg holes where you can attach the hammer.

Basically, on either side.  The hammer itself has a few pegs so it depends on your preference on which orientation to attach it to.

A great car mode with plenty of sculpted detail.  It's impressive and the paint job is stunning.


Refreshing and complex for a Legion.  It's something that you'd expect of a simple Commander class toy (although to be fair, it's not quite that level yet).  The way the arms and door wings form was interesting.  Too bad the top of the car is a big piece of plastic but the transformation of the chest exceeds your expectations.


I didn't like this mold's robot mode at first.  Why?  The huge feet (something the Deluxe also shares) and the awkward looking long legs.

That said, Prowl has grown on me, mainly because of the transformation.  The large feet does mean that Prowl is very stable.

There's no remolding for robot mode, he retains the same head as Smokescreen, so Prowl loses some character in this department (the remolded head for the Deluxe toy is amazing though).  At least it's painted.

Thanks to the long legs, Prowl becomes fairly tall in robot mode, but in the process, losing some bulk.

His weapon is the justice hammer!  He shares the weapon with a few other toys.

One of the nice things that they've fixed since the DOTM Legions is that you can plug the weapon in either hand.

You can also plug it in such a way that it kinda looks like a ranged weapon, it's not the best but it'll do.

Articulation is limited but about what you'd expect from a figure this small.  He has balljointed hips and shoulders.  He also has some ankle joints which help in a few points.  The fixed knees is a hindrance since it makes Prowl look unnatural in a lot of poses.

Overall, a decent robot mode with a nice color scheme (although the feet are a bit too bland).


An excellent mold.  He has two good modes and an amazing transformation scheme.  I found him to be surprisingly good and he displays very well.  The door wings look amazing and the paint is nice and glossy.


Check out a few other reviews from this page here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spirited Away

A fantastic and engaging animation that I would rank as one of the best films of all time.  They story is amazing, and the wonders literally never cease.  It's packed with great things and even though it runs at two hours long, that time will pass by in a flash and you'll be wishing for more.  I loved how they dived straight into it right from the beginning, five minutes in and you see Chihiro entering and being stuck in the spirit realm.    This realm was engaging and amazing.  The film only teases such a small part of this vast world.  The designs of the spirits were great, they seemed to fit perfectly and it was like what you had always imagined them to be.  No-Face was awesome and strangely 'fitting'.  His silent gestures gives you the chills.  Later when he gets corrupted, you realize that he's the symbolization of a few things.  The chase afterwards was intense and you would be at the edge of your seat anticipating what would happen.  The relationship between Chihiro and Haku was shrouded in mystery at first, wondering why Haku was helping Chihiro.  However, throughout the duration of the film, it seem that you are growing along with their relationship, such that the ending impacts you a lot.  It feels as if they had lead you there, grown along with them, and the revelation was your revelation, they just fit so perfectly.  The music is also amazing, and made some scenes more emotional than they already were.  Chihiro's crying scene and the ending are such examples.  I really wished we could see more after the movie ended, especially after Haku's promise that they will meet each other again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Deltora Quest Volume 8

Review:  #375
Title:  Deltora Quest Volume 8
Series:  Deltora Quest - 8th volume
Author:  Story by Emily Rodda; Illustrated by Makoto Niwano
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  As per usual, the illustrator had to take some liberties and change the plot a bit to suit the manga style.  However, it’s surprising how much they changed, the whole Shifting Sands arc with the guardian, while keeping the spirit of the books, felt very different.  This volume also starts to get into the Dread Mountain arc, and it’s actually fairly faithful.  Some of the more exaggerated faces doesn’t seem to fit well with the story (the humor is forced).
Rating:  5.5/10

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Only Yesterday

When I watched this as a kid, I found the movie to be boring.  The disc hadn't been touched since (I reckon more than ten years) and then I suddenly got the urge to watch it.  The movie tells of a story of a young woman, travelling to the countryside and remembering memories from her fifth grade year.  It gives off a sense of tranquility and nostalgia, as you can relate to it.  Remembering wistfully about your childhood, the actions you have done, and reminiscing.  The early parts of the movie were still confusing with the quick transition between past and present.  Thankfully, it slows down and you can actually start to make sense of what's going on.  The general tone of the movie is peaceful and slow, it's very much grounded in reality, which was surprising (I'm more of a fantasy adventure type lover).  Sure, I still find some portions boring, but now I can understand and appreciate the meaning behind it.  You can tell that the character is going to fall in love at some point in the story.  There were a few events that I didn't quite understand what was going on, but overall, an okay film.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: House of Secrets

Review:  #374
Title:  House of Secrets
Series:  House of Secrets - 1st book
Author:  Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzinni
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  While the beginning wasn’t very inspiring, the plot was pushed along at a fast pace once the three Walker children was transported to another world.  The overall story is solid but there are a few things that stand out and annoy you, ruining it.  The number one thing is that each character performs actions that are selfish or illogical.  It’s understandable that all characters have flaws, but when you’re constantly bombarded with the stupid actions of one main character or another, it’s no fun, even when their redeeming traits come out in a later scene.  An interesting thing is that the children are pushed from place to place, event to event, they don’t control anything, and they just take what it thrown at them.  It’s good in that it keeps it exciting, bad in that the plot feels too out of their control and it doesn’t feel like a quest or classical adventure.  It would do wonders if the children just made a decision to go somewhere, instead of what fate drove them to do.  The ending could be better and it feels as if this one book is enough, that there is no need for a sequel (it’s not as if the world created was huge and there were many other potential, this book didn’t leave much open or mysterious).  An exciting piece once it gets going.
Rating:  6.5/10

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Neighbor Totoro

Another one of the best animation (and just films in general) of all time.  It's special and unique; the experience is amazing and unforgettable.  It's something that you would watch again and again, and still not get bored.  I loved the way how the spirit creatures are portrayed in this movie.  They had done a great job with the explanations in how the spirit creatures fit into our world.  It seemed so natural and that just us humans were oblivious.  Another great thing about this movie is the lack of villains.  They managed to create a very family-oriented plot, that never once gets boring, and carries the momentum the whole way through.  You're left at every point eager for more, and waiting for more spectacles to come.  The sisters are sweet, and all the characters are likable.  There are some iconic elements to the film that never gets old, from the smile of Totoro, the two mini Totoro's, and the scene where Totoro learns how to operate an umbrella.  The Catbus is pretty cool as well.  The plot is just so smooth, flowing from one event to the next in perfect harmony (it never feels abrupt or jagged).  The music is superb as per usual, leaving a deep impression on you.  The fantasy elements of the movie just transports you back to a simpler time, where there were no problems, and I loved that.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: The Colossus Rises

Review:  #373
Title:  The Colossus Rises
Series:  Seven Wonders - 1st book
Author:  Peter Lerangis
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The plot gains momentum you get further and further in, until you get to the point where the things that happen causes you to feel all sorts of emotion for.  You feel annoyance when Patrick stuff things up, anger when Adiel hides the cupboard and sadness when the characters part ways at the end.  You feel as if you’ve travelled along with Omri on a long journey where he grows up.  You feel affected during the events that happen in the book, often you feel as if Omri is getting shoved with a lot of responsibility (that he shouldn’t have) and waiting to see how he deals with it.  Once Boone comes into the picture, things just escalate and it keeps at a good pace right until the end.  The end is quite sad though but necessary.
Rating:  6.5/10

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

This is a film that EVERYONE should see.  The story is AMAZING, I have watched this movie numerous times, and with each viewer, I am still left in wonder at many scenes.  The events that happen in the movie, coupled with the stunning animation (it's still impressive considering it's nearly 30 years old), makes many scenes extremely memorable.  While the second half of the movie blows you away, the first half isn't too bad either.  It does a great job of setting up the background and revealing the central part of the plot, Laputa (the structure that's floating in the sky) piece by interesting piece.  There's a lot of humor injected throughout the film, making it very enjoyable.  There's never a dull moment.  The scope is pretty big too, carrying the two protagonists everywhere.  By the time the hour mark is up, it surprises you at how different the current predicament is compared to before.  The designs of the world is unique and leaves an impression on you, from the robots to the building structures to the giant tree in the middle of the castle.  Each section feels like a lot of thought was put in.  The music used elevates the events to new heights.  Especially the ending, with the beautiful track that was playing, it left a huge emotional impact.  Seeing the two protagonists support each other and the pirates becoming the good guys warms your heart.  Definitely one of the best movie ever made.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The Indian in the Cupboard

Review:  #372
Title:  The Indian in the Cupboard
Series:  The Indian in the Cupboard - 1st book
Author:  Lynne Reid Banks
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The plot gains momentum you get further and further in, until you get to the point where the things that happen causes you to feel all sorts of emotion for.  You feel annoyance when Patrick stuff things up, anger when Adiel hides the cupboard and sadness when the characters part ways at the end.  You feel as if you’ve travelled along with Omri on a long journey where he grows up.  You feel affected during the events that happen in the book, often you feel as if Omri is getting shoved with a lot of responsibility (that he shouldn’t have) and waiting to see how he deals with it.  Once Boone comes into the picture, things just escalate and it keeps at a good pace right until the end.  The end is quite sad though but necessary.
Rating:  6.5/10

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

At first, I was some of the members of this league had a familiar name, but then I realized that all them were familiar.  This is a pretty neat concept, yet the plot of the film fails to gain traction and keep your interests for long.  There was supposed to be a shock once the true betrayer was revealed, but because the characters have only appeared for a short while and lack any sort of character development that the viewers can grow with, it wasn't much impact.  You're eagerly waiting for the league to form properly and all the members band together, yet when they do, what happens next is dull.  The antagonist is weak and he never feels too much of a threat.  Set in 1899, the level of technology the scientist Captain Nemo has, is way too advanced. Yeah, so he specializes in science, but it can't explain how his machines seem even more advance, at times, than modern day counterparts.  The film is lacking interaction between the characters, the funny quips back and forth the members.  They also didn't display how well they function as a team.  This is an average movie, with not much cause for watching.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review: The Medusa Plot

Review:  #371
Title:  The Medusa Plot
Series:  Cahills vs. Vespers - 1st book
Author:  Gordon Korman
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The beginning of the next story arc in The 39 Clues series, does it deliver?  If you liked the previous books, then you’ll probably like this one as well.  What is hard to stomach though is the fact that in all the previous books, they made the Cahills to be so powerful, with so many resources, that no one could possibly compete with them.  What happens in this book?  A new adversary known as the Vespers so easily trumps over them.  These Vespers just suddenly make an appearance, after eleven books of their absence, even though they’re so powerful.  Anyway, events in the book are interesting enough, albeit stretches the reality with the heist and everything.  The ‘illustrations’ don’t really add to the story, particularly the photos with the characters posed in a cheesy way and looks tacked on.
Rating:  6/10

Blogger Widget