Greatest Battles: Sinister vs. Gambit

When we were kids, I got my sister good and hooked on X-Men. If I found myself short on cash and could not get that month’s issue, chances are I could con her into buying it. All I had to do was tell her that the arc was about Rogue and Gambit.

My sister being a girl, she was more into the quasi-romantic shenanigans of the Cajun Charmer and the Southern Belle than she was into the social commentary or splash pages. Most of her collection is the stuff after Lee launched the book back into the spotlight, where Joe Mad and Chris Bachalo took the book to new heights. I was content to let her collect the main titles while I focused more on the secondary Mutant books like Generation X.

Ashura jo no Hitomi (Ashura)

I’ve always had an interest in Japanese culture. Not just what you find in their animation, but their traditions and customs. The gateway drug that brought me in of course was their martial arts. One heard about karate more than one heard about kung-fu when I was growing up, despite the late night “Kung-Fu Theatre” that showed on local television. As I grew up and found access to more stuff, it became anime, taiko music, or horror films. From where I was growing up as a Filipino-American, Japanese culture seemed so exciting and exotic.

Kabuki is one of those traditions that are completely out there from an American (and Filipino perspective). It’s a slant that we just don’t have in our art or our storytelling. Western culture is all about the fast beginning: “hook them in the first five minutes or lose them” thinking. Japanese storytelling conventions include the slow boil of a start and then quick, flashy action and satisfying endings. Kabuki is all about the flash, especially in Edo, where Ashura jo no Hitomi (Eyes of Ashura Castle) takes place.

Shadowland Daredevil

If I were honest, I'd say I liked the 2003 Daredevil film. It wasn't the bees knees that Ang Lee's Hulk was, but it made me want to learn more about the character. But since I know that the fan boys will skin me alive for saying that, pretend I didn't say anything.

Comics wise, I've only got maybe a handful of issues of Hell's Kitchen's own dark knight. None of them are part of the Shadowland story arc where he defeats the ninja cult, The Hand, and becomes their leader, establishing a base of operations in New York. That arc came out much later and I can't really give you an opinion on it.

The Marvel Universe figure, though, that I can tell you about.

The Immortals

It was a very good weekend, movie-wise. I thought that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was already pretty good and sustained my thrill over its whole runtime. I enjoyed it immensely. But after seeing that with friends on Saturday, I also had a movie date with my girlfriend. As it was my turn to pick a movie (i.e. there weren’t any good Tagalog movies on), I chose something I’d missed out on: The Immortals.

Though I’d been looking forward to his movie for awhile, I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about it. I knew it was done in the style of Zach Snyder’s 300 (was full of digital color manipulation and shot mostly on a green screen stage with the backgrounds filled in later). I knew it was based on Greek mythology and starred Mickey Rourke, who seems to be making a name for himself as the go to guy for asshole villains. I knew it was directed by one of those guys who went around being referred to with one name (Tarsem). That’s it.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I’m not really a big fan of Tom Cruise the person as he’s been portrayed in the press. He comes off as a nutjob crackpot with a quirky religion. I still can’t believe he divorced Nicole Kidman and married Katie Holmes. That scene on the Oprah show where he’s dancing on a couch? If I knew someone like that in real life, I’d be highly suspicious around them, afraid they might snap at any second. I’m still waiting for the inevitable news that he’s pulled a Mel Gibson on some ass of a tabloid photographer.

Tom Cruise the action hero, though? Him I can get behind. Who can forget Maverick in Top Gun? Minority Report was awesome (it wasn’t Dick, but then there isn’t an adaptation of his work that is, so why bother to compare?). Have you seen Collateral? I recommend it. Cruise as a smooth, cold-blooded killer is great. He’s played cops, samurais, Nazis, spies, sports agents, vampires, and one over-weight Jewish studio executive. All with the aplomb and talent of a real movie start.

He’s pretty eclectic in his choice of roles, but there is one character that he keeps coming back to: Ethan Hunt, IMF agent.

Mandalorian Warrior & Pre Vizsla

It suddenly occurs to me that I still haven’t seen the end of the last season of Clone Wars. This seems like a grievous oversight for a consummate couch potato like me. As a geek, I should be glued to the nearest TV set, salivating while I wait for the latest episode to air. Instead, I’ve found myself lazily awaiting the DVD collection of the season 4 episodes.

Until that time, I’ve bided my time re-watching the first three seasons of the cartoon. In the second season of the show, Obi Wan Kenobi traveled to the planet Mandalore to visit his old flame, Satine, the Duchess of the fifth planet of the system. During a three episode arc, Kenobi uncovers a sinister plot to overthrow the Duchess. Behind the coup was a group of rebels known as the Death Watch. These terrorists wore the traditional Mandalorian Armor, which casual fans recognize as the armor that Boba Fett (or his father Jango Fett) wears in the movies.

Star Trek Galaxy Collection

I first came across Playmates’ Star Trek line back in 2009 when the reboot movie was first released. The first time I saw them, it was no wonder I passed. If I remember correctly, their price point was around Php 350.00 or 400.00 and nothing about their design, sculpting, or poseability warranted that kind of scratch. They were low quality figures with not much thought put into them.

When the distributor dropped the price to around Php 100.00 a figure, I still didn’t bite. One of the selling points of the 3 ¾” “Galaxy Collection” figures was that they came with parts you could add to the Transporter Room and Enterprise Bridge Playsets (each sold seperately) to expand your Star Trek display. Problem was, these extra parts were NOT included in the assortments sold outside the mainland US. This included the Philippines.

Transformers Vault

If you look back on reviews I posted on and, you’ll probably notice that most of them are of Transformers.

I’m a big Transformers fan. Though not as rabidly obsessive as some (no, I can’t quote from the Japanese continuities or name all the members of The Wreckers), that doesn’t mean I love the characters any less. When a friend of mine first put me on to this book, Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe - Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia from Abrams Books,  I was immediately convinced that I must have it for my library (when I say library, I really mean one shelf).

Transformers Prime Arcee

The thing about the Transformers: Prime toy line that makes it so much fun is the fact that they look so much like their models in the TV show. One of the big disconnects back in the days of Generation 1 (the 1980’s cartoon that originated the franchise) was the fact that the designs of the toy line had little resemblance to the characters from the show. Big, burly bruisers like Ironhide became misshapen mutants with no heads when the toys appeared in stores. With the improvement in materials and design, however, coupled with increased competition, we’ve gotten to a point where the toys can come very close to the robots you see on screen.

We saw this improved likeness during the whole Armada/Energon/Cybertron trilogy, but when Transformers: Animated rolled around, it got pretty amazing. The new Prime toys share that same closeness with the CGI models, but without the far out anime look of its predecessor. While the robot forms still are pretty organic-looking, the vehicles look more traditional.

Transformers: Prime Bumblebee is one of those toys that wouldn’t look out of place alongside a Transformers Universe Hound or a Henkei Mirage in vehicle mode, but looks like he should belong next to a Transformers Animated Blurr in robot form. Among the other Prime toys I bought a few weeks back, the other that shares that same aesthetic is Arcee.

Won't Last a Day Without You

So after braving Twilight: Breaking Dawn, the next flick my girlfriend asked me to see with her was Won't Last a Day Without You, the second Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson vehicle after Catch Me, I’m in Love (which I also went to see earlier this year – can you say wha-pah?). I wasn’t as reluctant as I was with Breaking Dawn because at least Ms. Geronimo is far easier on the eyes than Stewart.

Still, I never relish going to see Tagalog films. If you’ve never seen one, then you really can’t understand. People rant about how cliché Hollywood has become, how unapologetically derivative films are nowadays, but you don’t know how bad it can get until you’ve experienced the standard Pinoy movie. About the only cinema that can top us with cheesiness is India’s Bollywood, and at least they occasionally come out with a movie that just awesomes your socks right off (i.e. Endhiran). It’s been awhile since I’ve had my socks awesomed off by a Pinoy movie (I’m not going to count RPG Metanoia because it’s not a live action film).

The Art of Thor

I really loved Marvel’s Thor when I saw it earlier this year in theaters. My appreciation for the movie grew once I got a copy of the DVD, and could watch it at leisure but I was disappointed that the disc only featured commentary with director Kenneth Branagh. Where were the “Making of” featurettes? The stories about how hard it was to build those gorgeous sets? The explanations about the inspiration behind the costumes? What about the anecdotes about the evolution of the various props?

None of these were present on the DVD that was available in the region, and I don’t own a Blu-ray player (the Blu-ray edition has more features, but I’m still not ready to abandon my DVD collection and start building another in a completely different format). It looked like I was shit out of luck.

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