Thursday, January 28, 2016

Collectible Time #52: DC Direct Green Arrow and Flash Action Figures and Funko POP! Flash

Received three additional DC superhero figures for my birthday (see "Collectible Time #51": Jan '16), commemorating Stephen Amell's Green Arrow and Grant Gustin's Flash...

The DC Direct Green Arrow was a gift from my supervisor and is a real stunner, standing 6.8" and accurately captures Amell's brooding persona. (The figure also comes with some nifty accessories, as featured above.) Through this representation, television's Oliver Queen truly lives and breathes, albeit in startling miniature form. (Say, maybe Ray "The Atom" Palmer worked some scientific magic on ol' Ollie and shrunk him down to size!)

As a companion to Green Arrow, I also obtained the DC Direct Flash: courtesy of a cluster of my congenial co-workers who gave me an Amazon gift card. The Gustin tribute also stands 6.8" and embodies the leathery, dark-crimson look of Barry Allen's superheroic alter ego. To heighten the realism, the figure captures to a tee the actor's agile form and is equipped with two, extra sets of hands to grant a variance of finger expression. Heck, he's so life-like that one would expect him to spring--or rather, zoom--right off the shelf...

Also, in thematic tune to the character, my friend Melissa F. surprised me with a Flash gift bag , which included a sharp, logo t-shirt and a DC Universe/Funko POP! figure.


Though I've purchased POP! figures for folks over the years, I never had one of my very own until now. I must say, at 3 3/4", he's a cute, little "super deformed" chap and bright as a button. (For the record, I discovered there's a darker POP! television Flash in this ongoing series, as well as a couple swell Reverse Flashes and a couple cool Captain Colds.)

Anyway, "Arrow" and "Flash" are all the rage now, and thanks to my most generous friends, I'm officially part of the collectible excitement. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

X-Files: The Belief is Back!!!

“The X-Files” returns to Fox (Jan 24) for six new episodes, which should please its legion of fans. 

This type of revival (like “Ash vs Evil Dead”) is probably the best (and most consistent) way followers can get their fix, even though an “X-Files” movie franchise should have furthered the flow. Alas, “I Want to Believe” faltered at the box-office. (Personally, I thought its Frankenstein, stem-cell based story was rather inventive and in tune with the series dark formula, but it got eclipsed by "The Dark Knight”, which was destined to crush any form of competition.)

With the franchise's testing-the-waters return, some episodes will act as stand-alones, while other parts will thematically connect to the original series' mythology. Whatever the story content, Chris Carter is again at the helm (a plus), even directing a few installments, as are its acting principles, David Duchovny as Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis are also back to stir the nostalgic flavor. 

If the truth be known, despite "I Want to Believe'"s miscalculation, “X-Files” should have been reinstated long before this. Heck, a few direct-to-disc movies would have acted as a decent bridge to a new weekly series. (Also, there’s a big audience for these monster-of-the week shows, as “Grimm” and Fox's very own "Sleepy Hollow" have demonstrated.) Nevertheless, better late than never. Let’s hope the brief revival leads to a longer extension, but that all depends on what's offered this time around. 

Personally, an unpretentious, head-on, alien/monster approach ensures success. A lot of prelude chatter, with no creature and/or paranormal manifestations, won't do. We know what "X-Files" is; so why tease us with mere insinuations? As long as the basic concept is rekindled, there's no reason to believe this one should fail.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Collectible Time #51: A Batman v Superman Birthday/Mattel Dawn of Justice Action Figures

My parents came through again with some wonderful "Batman v Superman" action figures for my birthday!!!

Two are packaged together, with Mattel's Ben Affleck/Dark Knight and Henry Cavill/Man of Steel positioned next to each other. (My Batman, unlike in the stock photo, has his head stationed slightly to the left, implying a tinge of dissension, I dare say.) Anyway, these DC "Mega Figures" are in tune with Hasbro's Titan Hero Marvel pieces, in their slender sculpts and 12" heights.

I also received the Mattel's 12" DC Multiverse "Dawn of Justice" Batman, which sports his silver-gray armor; as well as the 12" companion Superman, which nicely conveys the Man of Steel's bold muscularity. As you can discern from the below images, these 10-points-of-articulation representations have a bulkier look and feel to them than those of the above set.  

On the whole, my prelude movies pieces certainly make me part of in-crowd; and I guess it should go without saying that I'm excited to see these fellows interact in their upcoming, big-budget epic. (Just hope they don't stay adversarial for most of the movie; I'm a firm believer that, once Lex Luthor's trickery is exposed, Batman and Superman should become immediately close-knit.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Time Travel Time #15: The Time Machine (2002)

In the past, “Time Travel Time” has presented posts on the 1960, George Pal film version of H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine” (see “Time Travel Time #1": Feb '14) and the “Classics Illustrated”/Sun Classics television pilot (see “Time Travel Time #9": Jan '15). The movies mirror each other, with the television version leaning as much on the Pal interpretation as Well’s novella. In both instances, the Eloi are fair-haired and the Morlocks brutal; the Time Traveler, whether in the guise of Rod Taylor or John Beck, ambitious and action prone.

With the 2002 Dreamworks/Warner Brothers production, directed by none other than Wells’ great grandson, Simon (with some assistance from Gore Verbinski), both the original text and the Pal feature (i.e., David Duncan’s script for the latter) influence John Logan's screenplay, but with some select, though significant variations.

Per the 2002 retelling, Columbia University Professor Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) time-treks from the year 1899 (in a crystal-fueled device that's a cross between the one featured in Pal's version and that of Nicholas Meyers' "Time After Time"). In this regard, he initially deters the expected Eloi and Morlocks by going backwards. It's his hope to prevent the death of his love, Emma (Sienna Guillory), who was shot in a robbery, and this is the primary, distinguishing characteristic (and the Time Traveler's main motivation) during the remake's fledgling phase.

Hartdegen does, in fact, save his lady, but not without her facing death mere minute later by other means. (Oh, how unflinchingly fickle fate can be!) Heartbroken and desperate, Hartdegen forges ahead, hoping the future might hold the necessary insight to change the past and extend Emma's life. However, when he slips into the year 2030, he’s told by a holographic librarian named Vox (Orlando “Sleepy Hollow” Jones) that time travel (especially any sojourn to the past) is impossible. 

Frustrated, Hartdegen jaunts onward, to the year 2037, learning upon arrival that a moon-based mishap has caused cataclysmic changes to the Earth. He escapes the hazardous climate left in its wake, stumbling even further in time, to the distant year 802,701, where he encounters a new evolutionary path for humanity. 

As expected, the Eloi and Morlocks constitute the factions that have sprung from Earth’s terrain changes, with the former in tune with the beasts we’ve come to expect, but with the Eloi no longer fair-haired or pale-skinned and more cognitive of their circumstance (though to some extent, such keener awareness can also be ascribed to those in the ’78 version).

In any event, Hartedgen befriends the lovely Mara (Samantha Mumba), this version’s Weena, as well as her little brother, Kalen (Omero Mumba), and immerses himself in the tribe’s tree-house-tiered habitat. He also learns of the corralling, flesh-eating Morlocks (eventually gaining additional information from the yet activated and now more knowledgeable Vox). The bestial hunters resemble those of the Pal version (green-skinned, long-haired, but more agile) and of course, Hartdegen decides to help the Eloi evade them, and when they capture Mara, rescue her. 

One would think that, from this point, the story would play traditionally, and for the most part it does, but a surprise villain surfaces: an advanced Morlock, portrayed by Jeremy Irons. This nameless sentinel is a dream-inducing, dictatorial creature, who exchanges time-travel philosophy with Hartdegen, encouraging him to abandon his quest to save Emma (for even if he were to achieve such, it would only lead to a fruitless, temporal paradox). The Morlocks, he explains, are destined to continue their dominating course, no matter what. 

Hartdegen rejects the mutant's claim and combats him, resulting in…well, you’ll just have to watch the film to see. To say the least, the ending is different than in previous tellings, including Well’s novella.

Nevertheless, more than anything, "Time Machine '02" succeeds as an intended homage, offering subtle references to older samplings, including the Time Traveler’s pal, Philby (Mark Addy), along with a cameo of his ’60's counterpart (Alan Young). Vox even references Well's story (as well as the Pal version) and croons a selection from an imaginary Andrew Lloyd Weber musical based on such. 

Alas, the film sometimes falters by being too dark in its underground depictions. Often the cavernous dimness makes it difficult to discern the Morlocks; otherwise, they're admirably designed by the Oscar-nominated, make-up talents of John M. Elliot, Jr. and Barbara Lorenz. Fortunately, the creatures' first appearance is decently illuminated, dynamically staged and in intensity, comparable to the human round-up of "Planet of the Apes '68".

Irons’ Morlock leader is perhaps the film’s most interesting and controversial presence. His Karloffian persona gives the movie an air of weird sophistication, but also some might argue, complicates the climax, stifling the story’s adventurous flow with poetic verbosity. 

Pearce’s Hartdegen, on the other hand, remains a welcome presence throughout, the actor’s interpretation differing from Taylor and Beck: radical, regretful and mostly analytical, almost to a “Doctor Who” extent, which works well off Mumba/Mara’s inquisitive view of him. The couple may seem an unlikely team, but their performances make the relationship credible and justifies Hartedegen’s focus on the future, instead of a sealed, impenetrable past. (Jones’ Vox is also an amiable addition, culling woe and humility through his computerized persona.)

Though unlikely to enthrall those who are partial to mindless explosions and characterless plots, “Time Machine ‘02” should still entertain most. It may not be everyone’s favored interpretation, but structurally it's rarely superfluous and always respectful to Well’s concept. Also, with the spread of steampunk pageantry in recent years, this one has aged far better than expected, and on that basis alone, seems fated to be revisited and referenced by Wells fans over the inescapable ticking of time. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

DC's Legends of the Rescue!!!

“Batman v Superman” is yet a couple months away, and the live-action “Justice League” well beyond that. For the time being, we have CW's version of a DC superhero rally, and its television designation doesn’t make it any less significant. In fact, for the sake of its ambitious formula, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (premiering Jan 21) should give comic-book and time-travel fans good cause to rejoice.

The “Legends” cast of characters/performers is nothing short of impressive: Ray Palmer/the Atom (Brandon “Superman” Routh); Khufu/Carter Hall/Hawk Man (Falk Hentschel); Chay-Ara/Kendra Saunders/Hawk Girl (Ciara Renee); Sara Lance/White Canary (Caity Lotz); Booster Gold’s time-tripping son, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill); Mick Rory/Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell); Leonard Snart/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller); Jefferson Jackson/Firestorm (Franze Drameh); Dr. Martin Stein/also sometimes Firestorm (Victor Garber); Valentina Vostok (Stephanie Corneliussen); and Hath-Set/Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).  

I’m most pleased by Routh’s prominent station, in that Warner Brothers misled him with the promise of a Superman extension. That he’ll play the size-shifting Atom on an almost weekly basis is at least some means of compensation.

As implied by CW’s already established superhero programs, Flash and Green Arrow are set to make appearances on this new series, which is only right. After all, the whole point of “Legends” is to take the crossover/team-up equation to the max. Of course, I imagine that there will be trade-offs regarding which characters seize any episode’s given focus, but such an approach would only help spread the wealth and give the heroes/villains adequate time to develop and shine as they skid through the years to thwart the merciless Savage.

Yep, I say we're assured a rollicking good time with this one. Now, if only Matt Ryan's Constantine would leap into the mix and Supergirl would soar from CBS to CW, if only just to guest star, we’d have our bases covered!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Peggy Carter Returns (Season 2 Begins)

If the truth be known, ABC's "Agent Carter" exceeded my expectations, but then I'm a sucker for period-piece adventure, and anything that mirrors "The Avengers"...the classic, British television series, that all right by me.  

For all intents and purposes, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is a '40s Emma Peel, and her companion, Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy), though never pretending to be Patrick McNee, invokes John Steed.

In the initial season, Carter helped Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) clear his name after a complex frame-up. Season 2 (premiering Jan. 18) will focus on Carter's move from NY to LA (along with some hardy Hollywood glitz) during the onset of the Atomic Age. What thrills such will bring is yet to be seen, but I suspect it'll be pretty darn good, particularly with a promised Doc Strange connection characterizing the plot. 

Season 2 also reinstates Chad Michael Murray as James Thompson and Enver Gjokaj as Daniel Sousa, with a reappearance by Cooper/Stark and an anticipated, dance-number cameo by Lindsy Fonseca as Angie Martinelli. (I can only imagine that continued Cap references will again be part of the proceedings.)

While "Agent Carter'"s companion series, "S.H.I.E.L.D." generally hits a more adventurous note, it also tends to get muddied by various espionage tangents. The nice thing about "Agent Carter" (so far) is its simplicity: in my estimation, the best way to tell a good-vs-evil tale. Now, let's just hope the new season extends that wise tradition. 

Friday, January 15, 2016


So long, Dan Haggerty...

You were an emblem for high adventure, covering so many genres, including horror and exploitation, but you'll be most appreciated for your iconic role as the heroic Grizzly Adams. You enhanced my childhood with your towering, amicable presence. I'll miss you, dear friend. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Goodbye, Alan Rickman...

You sure could spin villainy with style, but you were memorable in any role you accepted. You were loved by many, will be missed by many, and your imaginative body of work will inspire forever. 

Collectible Time #50: Nate "the Animal" Gonzalez/Adam West Batman and Boba Fett Prints

Nate "the Animal" Gonzalez has done it again, this time with two eye-popping, iconic depictions!!!

First we have an  Adam West Batman 11" x 17" portrait: a sequel of sorts to Gonzalez's Burgess Meredith Penguin sketch (see "Collectible Time #42: Oct '15) and his Cesar Romero Joker painting (see "Collectible Time #39: Sept  '15).

Gonzalez has carefully captured West's sturdy, stalwart aura with the proper glint of conviction, which would make any citizen (Gotham-based or otherwise) feel secure, while making any arch criminal cringe. I also love the overall hue on this one, including the realistic cowl sheen. 

I sure hope Gonzalez continues his Batman series. His love for the Adam West show is most evident in what he's already produced, and to see Gonzalez take on other Batman '66 characters would be a dream come true. 

Next up is the artist's brilliant Boba Fett...

Like the Batman print, Fett is an honorable 11" x 17" and presents a rich, sandy backdrop and fetching pigments that respectfully represent the character's roughened guise. The pose is also fitting, with the fearless bounty hunter geared for action, as his famous Slave I makes an explosive, rear cameo. 

Gazing upon this vibrant expanse inspires me to watch a"Star Wars" adventure, particularly "Return of the Jedi", or at the very least spring a spirited offshoot of such in my mind...

Gonzalez is an excellent, upcoming artist, and his reputation is destined to expand. You'd be wise to get in on the ground floor by purchasing copies of these or others from his impressive ensemble. 

You can touch base with the amiable Gonzalez at Facebook, under his name, where a gallery of his work can be viewed. You'll be most impressed!!!

Monday, January 11, 2016


Farewell, David Bowie...

You were truly the Starman in every way, inspiring us with your celestial songs and otherworldly portrayals. You are undoubtedly part of a higher existence now...but then, you always were. Godspeed, wherever you may go...

Sunday, January 10, 2016


RIP, Mr. Scrimm...

Your portrayal of the Tall Man will haunt us forever, though you made a lasting impression in each of your fine roles. You also projected kindness and sophistication whenever you met your fans. God bless you, kind sir...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I heard the Troglodytes squawk in Bone Tomahawk...

There's nothing quite as strangely satisfying as a horror western, whether it's an offbeat team-up like "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter" or a surreal anthology like "Into the Badlands" (1992). 

Writer/director S. Craig Zahler's latest entry in the crossover sub-genre, "Bone Tomahawk", is much in tune with Wes Craven's "Hills Have Eyes", Jack Ketchum's novel,"Off Season", and Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", with a strong dash of John Ford's "The Searchers" and a hardy sprinkling of John McTiernan/Michael Crichton's "13th Warrior" and Marcus Nispel's "Pathfinder": overall, pretty intense ingredients. 

The adventure is led by the versatile Kurt Russel, who not only made a fine impression as "Tombstone'"s Wyatt Earp, but in such imagi-fare as John Carpenter's "Escape from NY/LA"; "The Thing" and "Big Trouble in Little China" (each, in its own right, a disguised western); and let's not forget Paul W.S. Anderson's "Solider" (a science-fiction retelling of "Shane"). 

Set in the ironically labeled 1890s town of Bright Hope, "Bone Tomahawk" starts with an ominous prologue, wherein two unsavory types, Buddy (horror veteran Sid Haig) and Purvis (David Arquette) slaughter a group of campers, only then to be confronted themselves by an aggressive force. Buddy is killed via an arrow, while Purvis frantically flees, and from this, further odd events unfold.

At first, the circumstances are subdued, in a kind of "From Dusk Till Dawn" mislead, but this helps establish the story's primary characters: the calm, seasoned Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell); his deputies Nick (Evan "X-Men" Jonigkeit) and Chicory (Richard "Cabin in the Woods" Jenkins); injured foreman Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick “Watchmen/Fargo” Wilson); his alluring wife, Samantha (Lili "Banshee" Simmons); the dapper John Brooder (Matthew "Lost" Fox) and the astute "Professor" (Zahn McClarnon: Wilson’s “Fargo” costar), a Native American who's well versed in tribal history. 

When Hunt investigates the campground slaughter, he addresses Arquette at the local saloon and shoots the suspect in the leg when he tries to flee. O’Dwyer’s wife, who possesses doctoring skills, is asked to visit the jail to remove the bullet, as her husband nurses his own wounded leg at home. However, when Samantha stays overnight to watch over the man, it results in her being abducted, along with Nick and the prisoner. 

To stir things up, a local stable boy is found slaughtered the next morning in a most vicious manner. The Professor attributes the grisly handiwork to the Troglodytes: an inbred, cannibalistic clan of tribal rejects who’ve taken residence in the caves far beyond Bright Hope.

Hunt assembles his crew to retrieve the missing persons (hoping they're still alive), with Chicory, Brooder and O’Dwyer (despite his injury) sallying forth. 

For a time, Dwyer’s admirable determination becomes the venture’s concentration, as tries to subdue his pain and curb his frenzied concern. Brooder remains cool and quippy in the meantime, with Chicory adding down-to-earth comic relief whenever he can. As one might expect, Hunt is the most focused among the men, maintaining stabilit, even when his group is confronted with unexpected interference.

Though their trek remains interesting, things finally intensify when they reach the Troglodyte’s turf. The ghostly cave-dwellers waste no time in firing their arrows upon our brave band, intending ultimately to feast upon their flesh.; and to empower their animalistic auras, the Morlock-ish monsters never speak, opting instead for blood-curdling squawks: the apparent result of bone-pipes fixed in their throats.

The film’s final stretch is its most memorable, though not as gruesome as, let’s say, “Jungle Holocaust”, but still reeks of generous sadism and gore. Whether our heroes will actually succeed is hard to predict, but what enfolds is gripping and jarring, culled from a primitive resourcefulness, where the surrounding elements are all one can grasp, and a weapon can be as basic and raw as a refashioned body part.

For what it’s worth, much of “Bone Tomahawk” echoes the slow-burn feel of Ron Howard’s “At the Heart of the Sea”, which also caters to cannibalism (see Dec ’15 post). Zahler's movie also  feels like a Werner Herzog adventure, presenting a quiet but dismal descent. At other times, it smacks of surrealism, like Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Valhalla Rising”, where Mads Mikkelsen's Viking embarks on a similar, strange sojourn.

When all is said and done, what best distinguishes "Bone Tomahawk" is its characters, with each performance, whether supporting or leading, exemplary. For the record, Russell and Wilson fans will be particularly pleased by the actors' deft nuances and extensive screen time.

With more publicity and further word of mouth, “Bone Tomahawk” could have been a major hit. Its existence at least demonstrates that one doesn’t need zooming starships or caped avengers to create otherworldly escape, though the film's pensive pace and dark tone will probably deter some. Still, for those who fancy their adventures tough and quirky, Zahler’s fable will garner praise. I, for one, rank it among 2015’s best, and if you're so inclined to check it out, I'm confident you'll claim the same.