Movies

The Movies of 2019: In Anticipation

Though we have only just plundered through the first half of 2018, the line-up of 2019 film releases are going to be enough to get me through the next six months. There are several family-friendly films that are highly anticipated coming out, and a few that I did not know about until I decided to fully investigate. I’ve picked 10 titles I’m excited to see, but for fear of ramble, I’ll only dip into my top 5, then list the rest for your own Googling pleasure.

1. Hellboy is anticipated to be released in January, directed by Neil Marshall. It will be starring everyone’s favorite sci-fi badass Mila Jovovich (multi-pass). I personally, am a fan of Stranger Things, so I am excited to see David Harbour play the main character like a big, red, sarcastic boss. Based on the caption provided with the film release information, it sets up the story that Hellboy is somehow stuck between worlds and is forced to face a vengeful sorceress. With some awesome actors, some CG, a forecasted R rating, and a Hollywood budget, I’m hoping this reboot does the graphic novels some justice, and that Mila doesn’t kick too much of David Harbour’s face in.

2. The next movie I’m excited to hear about every time it’s mentioned is The Lion King starring Donald Glover, Beyonce Knowles, and half of the rest of Hollywood. Directed by Jon Favreau, a director that regularly delivers on family charm, will undoubtedly produce a film worthy of more than a few watches. However, I’m certain there will probably be an entire scene of Billy Eichner shouting at nothing, or perhaps a scene with Seth Rogan chuckling at something off screen. Either way, this movie has a stunning cast, a favorable director, and a summer release. Fingers crossed on the script, score, and the preservation of nostalgia.

3. Glass by M. Night Shymalan is next on my list, and before you start calling names, yes, I know, his track record ain’t that great. However, I’m excited for the second installment in the Unbreakable story, that links M. Night’s more recent project, Split. So, this installment will star both Bruce Willis and James McAvoy, in a detect-and-capture the psychopath drama. I’m just bursting at the seams to see how the director obnoxiously inserts himself into this project as well. But, genuinely interested in seeing how M. Night has the stories connect, and how he will work on his famous twist endings.

4. Wonder Woman 2 is bringing a whole lotta estrogen. Directed and written by Patty Jenkins, the second installment of the superhero series is set to be released in late 2019, November or Christmas. Again, the main role will be starring the lovely Gal Gadot, and will be supported by Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Lynda Carter. The plot is currently unpublished or unreported, but I am a lover of all things superhero, comics, and graphic novel related, I am also a woman, so. Obviously, I identify.

5. Last, but not at all least, I’m waiting with baited breath for X-men Dark Phoenix. I truly love the Marvel movies that have been so popular the last 6 or 8 years, but one of my first loves was X-men, and I am pumped to see the series move forward amongst the other uberpopular superhero franchises. Starring the usual suspects: Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and Evan Peters, an ultrapowerful force threatens to take over Jean Grey’s mind. The poster alone is enough to get my blood pressure up, and I absolutely cannot wait.

I’ll list a few other big-name and big-money movies that are expected to come out next year. Feel free to investigate them yourselves, or just wait for my next update and get an idea of what’s coming up.
• Captain Marvel – Starring Brie Larson and Jude Law – March
• Frozen 2 – Starring Kristen Bell – November
• Toy Story 4 – Estelle Harris isn’t dead yet – June
• Shazam! – Starring Dwayne Johnson – April
• Gambit – Channing Tatum and Lizzy Caplan – June

Toys

Mash ’em and Trash ’em, a toy review

DC Comics MashemsWith the never-ending influx of new toys, new sets, new upgraded versions of what we already love, has come a gross and smelly, uninvited guest: The Mash ‘Em. Wouldn’t you love to experience the horror of stepping on the booger-esque figure of a popular tv character, a favorite super hero or comic book legend, or perhaps a beloved Pixar character whilst tip-toeing late at night? Mash ‘Ems come in a huge assortment of every family’s favorite stars, packaged in a small Donkey-Kong type barrel, which if you’re anything like me, you will likely mysteriously lose the top half of said barrel within the first few minutes of opening. The figure itself is essentially a small, sticky stress ball that is advertised that you can “twist, squish, and mash”, but also has the super power to pick up every piece of lint in your carpet.

While children and adults are both inclined to enjoy watching your favorite character’s face expand and contrast with the power of their own mighty hand, I have a couple of reservations about this toy. Issue number one, the composition of the figure is not as durable as I would hope it would be. You would expect a toy that is meant to be squeezed and abused would be thicker or stronger than what I’ve experienced. The recommended age for play is four years old and above, and my son is five. He has ripped or popped a hole in every Mash ‘Em he’s ever gotten, which certainly may just vary from savage child to savage child, I don’t know, but in our experiments, the variable becomes the constant.

Which leads me to my next problem, they have an odd smell. It’s not a rubber Paw Patrol Mashemssmell, and it’s not a cleaning product smell, but it’s somewhere in the middle and lingers on your hands. Thankfully, none of the liquid has ever gotten into anyone’s eyes here at home, but it doesn’t smell like a safe product to get onto skin. If you’re a complete and total weirdo, you can view on Youtube trillions of videos of psychos spending time and money cutting into Mash ‘Ems (and the female variation, Fash ‘Ems) with box cutter blades and knives. I’m told that it is therapeutic and calming for some people to watch soft objects getting sliced open, but in my house “ain’t nobody got time fo that.”

Which snowballs into my third and final issue with the product:
The videos. The videos are possibly the worst and most annoying crazes I’ve seen in my lifetime thus far. The amount of Mash ‘Em and Fash ‘Em videos available, in combination with the amount of views these videos are getting are astounding. My son can memorize verbatim full-length videos of people who are simply opening the packages and giving them a squeeze, and the kids go wild. It’s confusing how impressed I am by how effective the marketing is, and by how much they annoy me. They are moderately priced, at Wal-Mart they are around four dollars, but on places like Amazon they can go for much more. Four dollars is not exactly enough for me to refuse the purchase if my son asks for one, but it is perhaps just enough to be sulking about later, after my second glass of wine and second ripped Thor body on my table, but I digress.

I may just be a bit cranky and under-rested, but I would skip this purchase all together. We’ve all experienced the gummy ball, the stress ball, the sticky-window-guy, and we all know how quickly they become unattractive. Within a few minutes they’re fuzzy, you’ve lost the packaging, and there’s residue on your hand somehow. Children undoubtedly love them; they’re graphic, super simple, and come in packaging that makes finding out the character a blind-choice surprise. I get the appeal, but I would find another toy with your character’s face on it and keep your four bucks.

Score 2/5

LEGO

Roller Coaster (10261) – A Review In Parts

roller coasterRoller Coaster (10261)
Released: June 01, 2018
MSRP: $379.99
Pieces: 4080
Minifigures: 11
Shop: LEGO

In the event that you don’t know me personally, and I thought that you would let me talk for more than ten minutes throughout the past year, then you’ve probably heard me utter the words, “LEGO Roller Coaster! It’s comin’ dude! Bank on it! I promise!” give or take an expletive. When the aptly named Ferris Wheel (10247) appeared on shelves, rumblings began to whisper and quickly disappear about a roller coaster set. But then it was quickly dismissed, because there would be no possible way that LEGO could make such a thing img_2133without compromising their product quality standards. It was unimaginable!

And then, Carousel (10257), arrived and it was clear that amusement park themed sets were here to stay. What could be next? A goddamned roller coster, that’s what! But again, that was just a theory. And then Joker Manor (70922) came to fruition, and while that has a roller coaster as part of the set, that wasn’t enough. But! BUT! In that set, they showed us that they had been working on a new system, a way of making a LEGO roller coaster possible. All that needed to happen now was a stand alone set where the train of the coaster made it up the hill without direct human interaction. And then, more roller coaster elements appeared in other sets: Rhino Face-Off by the Mine (76099), Ferrari Ultimate Garage (75889), and a Friends set or two. All we needed now was some sort of chain system, like those used in the Ice Tank polybag set that came out at the end of 2017 for The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

Coming in at 4080 pieces, Roller Coaster (10261) was released to LEGO VIP Members on May 16th, in the year of our President Business, 2018. The official release date is June 1st. Bags are numbered One through Eleven, with generally three bags per “Step,” with Step 11 being reserved solely for the 200+ links in the chain. There are eleven minifigures, two trains with three cars to a train, and yes. You CAN motorize the set into full-on automation. Over the next however img_2135long it takes us, we’ll be sharing with you our experience in constructing this massive set.

STEP ONE:

Bags 1 through 5 construct the taller end of the roller coaster ride. The entire base sits, roughly, on a basic baseplate and a half (48 studs, give or take) by three baseplates (96 studs, give or take). With the first set of bags, you set the base for the taller end, build a cotton candy cart, and build three of the eleven minifigures. The three minifigures are named Child (twn322), which is also featured in the beach themed minifigure pack, Child’s Grandfather (twn327), and Cotton Candy Vendor (twn320). These two adults consist of parts and colors that have been released already in various sets, except the hairpiece for Cotton Candy Vendor. The short tousled with side part hair comes in bright light yellow, and has only been released in this set and the brand new City Hospital (60204).

The cotton candy cart is a fairly studs-on-top build with the newer trans-clear wheelchair wheels, trans-dark umbrella, and the new beehive element in bright pink coupled with a bright pink minifigure head to complete the cotton candy. The cart also as a 1×1 light bluish gray printed calculator tile for minifigures to swipe their credit cards for their purchases.

Along with laying out the large green plates, connecting them, and setting up the base for the coaster, this end of img_2137structure also has a small body of water consisting of trans-dark blue tiles. A green frog calls this small pond home. While on the other side of the tracks, a brick built bench utilizing two 1×4 on a 1×2 base vehicle spoilers, a brick built tree with the newer six stemmed plant element introduced in 2016, and the new three leaf green plant piece. Also, in the same area, there’s a simple map using a couple of 1×1 round bricks and a panel piece, to hold a sticker displaying the aforementioned Carousel and Ferris Wheel with the Roller Coaster.

The base of the structure itself is pretty basic studs-on-top construction consisting of plates, tiles, and modified plates. It sets the stage for some fairly redundant building in the future, a drawback that we’re probably going to touch on a few times while discussing this set, but LEGO did their best to break up the monotony, by having you move around the structure while you build. Also, building this set in stages, rather than in one shot, appears to help break up building the skeletal structure. Because of the monotony of some of the building and the starkness of the construction, we’re also going to be combining some of the steps, or numbered bags. Make sure to check back often and soon as we continue to cover various LEGO projects and so much more!

LEGO

LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 18 – Cowboy Costume Guy – (15 of 17)

71021-15Minifigure: #15 of 17 – Cowboy Costume Guy
Released: April 1, 2018
MSRP: $3.99
Pieces: 7
Shop: LEGO

So, here’s why we cover the collectible minifigures so much. First of all, they’re plentiful and collectible. So, it gives us a lot to talk about and we love collecting things. Secondly, they’re always full of new parts or new colors of parts, and while the list of new things is continuously growing to immeasurable lengths, we want to show that there’s more to LEGO than just the big and blunt red bricks. Also, variety to your collection makes what you have unique. So when you’re showing off your displays, img_2072all of your firemen could be from space, or all of your hospital staff could be Disney characters.

Cowboy Costume Guy wears a tan cowboy hat. How’s that for a transition? It’s a fantastic new element, and we’re excited to get so many more cowboy hats in so many other colors, in the future. The minifigure head is similar to Race Car Guy’s in that it has the hair coming down the sides. But instead of fuzzy muttonchops, these are manicured reddish brown sideburns. There is no alternate face due to the lack of coverage from the hat.

The front half of a horse hangs from the torso stem like so many of the backpacks, air tanks, and whatever else. The horse is reddish brown with black and white printing for the eyes, hooves, and a patch of white hair between the horse’s eyes. It’s an interesting element with two clearly defined front legs. We’re not sure what exactly, but we have a feeling that there’s something that can be MOCed using this piece. Maybe a western themed restaurant where the horse is leaping out of the front wall of the building, or something.

The dark turquoise torso is a great contrast to the bright yellow arms and hands, as well as img_2073the great print on the front and back. The black and white cowhide print with a tan fringe are great. There’s a little bit of red to represent a bandana, which we would have loved to have seen continue a bit on the back. And a hint of yellow is on the front to show off the cut of the shirt. While it doesn’t cover the entire torso, and why would it due to the horse head you’re going to hang there, the print is just about perfect. The costume tail hangs from the hips and legs assembly’s studs as most minifigure tails do. The style of the tail is new in reddish brown to match the hips and legs. However, these hips and legs are exclusive to this figure because there’s black print on the feet to represent the rear legs of the horse.

While we understand that there are budgets to these projects and this figure already has a lot of new parts and prints, we would have liked to have seen one more thing. Maybe the minifigure could have had a revolver, despite LEGO’s aversions to implements of realistic violence. Perhaps a lasso or some other sort of rope to wrangle cattle could have finished it off nicely. What you get is perfectly fine and really well executed. We just would have liked this particular minifigure to have an accessory to hold.

LEGO

LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 18 – Flower Pot Girl – (14 of 17)

LEGO-Minifigures-Series-18-Flowerpot-Girl_553xMinifigure: #14 of 17 – Flower Pot Girl
Released: April 1, 2018
MSRP: $3.99
Pieces: 5
Shop: LEGO

Between the weird print choices and the large parts, we find it hard to believe anyone’s really going to want anything to do with Flower Pot Girl, beyond completing this series. That doesn’t mean we don’t like her. Let’s check her out!

Look at that ridiculous headgear img_2042element. Look at that weird thing. Look at it. It’s dual-molded in green and magenta. Don’t get us wrong, it fits just fine with this particular minifigure, but what’s going to happen beyond this? It’s so big and such an odd shape, there’s no way that this part is ever going to be used ever again. So, maybe that’ll drive the collectible value up in the secondary market. It just seems like a waste to us.

The minifigure head has printing on both sides. On the one side the face is happy and bright, which fits this ridiculous costume of hers. However, it is unclear what the secondary face is supposed to be. The eyebrows and freckles are done in dark orange, and there are pink lips printed on either side.

The torso and arms are molded in bright green and come with lime hands. The printing is in dark green and black, and it leaves a little to be desired. It’s of a single vine growing up with leaves, leading into the head piece. Because it’s a plant, you see. And while the vine printing doesn’t reach all of the way to the edge, that pretty much gets hidden by the flower pot element.

And that’s exactly what that is. A big dark orange flower pot looking element with two img_2043holes for the hips and legs to fit through. We dare anyone to find another use for this element that looks aesthetically pleasing and makes sense. We’ll pay you a dollar if you can!

The hips and legs assembly are molded in reddish brown. Orange baseplate.

While we acknowledge that this review was written to sound completely underwhelming, we can’t gush for the sake of gushing when it isn’t warranted. Flower Pot Girl is a great minifigure. She comes with two pretty big molded elements that LEGO designed for this character and this character alone (bank on it). And to look at her from a distance, she’s unmistakeable.