Daniel Phelan

Stranger Things: Spoiler-Free Review

Are you a fan of classic 80’s child adventure stories? I’m talking about Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Flight of the Navigator, Stand by Me, The Wizard, Explorers, and The Last Starfighter, just to name a few.

Well, you’re in good company. A set of twin writer/directors Matt and Ross Duffer, known as The Duffer Brothers also enjoyed those movies and have decided to grace us with a mixture of those ideas with large doses of practical and computer special effects. Welcome to the world of Stranger Things.

Synopsis

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl.” To say the least, that description only scratches the barest surface, as this series defies genre. It’s a Sci-Fi/Mystery/Thriller/Action/Drama love note to that era of Flock of Seagulls haircuts.

As a Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things was bound to be at least decent. It’s sitting side by side other great shows, including Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Upon first glance, the one thing I noticed was how well this show is put together. From the smallest detail, to the largest story arc, everything is dripping with 80’s. There are throwbacks via posters on the walls, t-shirts, and even the telephones and cars in use are very true to the year. The only thing that may have seemed out of place is the vernacular, the words they used. But, since I only spent a few years in the 80’s, I may be mixing fiction and reality. Which is bogus to the max, like totally.

stranger-things-poster

Review

Seriously, though, the writing, directing, audio, music choices, casting, acting, special effects, and everything else all coalesce into something that major Hollywood movies are currently having great difficulty in achieving, unity. Stranger Things acts as one story set in its own universe. There is no one piece where you can look and say, “that doesn’t belong” or “they should have done that better.”

The episodes are displayed as chapters in a book. If this were a book that I was currently reading, I would read it cover to cover continuously.

Stranger Things is rated PG-14, and I would not suggest it for anyone who is susceptible to nightmares or fear of the dark, as this will exacerbate those conditions. There is a fair amount of blood and violence, a lot of swearing, and just a smidgen of teenage sexual situations. This is one of those rare times where I will side with the ratings and say, maybe the younger kids should sit this one out.

StrangerThings

What do you think about Stranger Things? Have you already binge-watched it? Let us know in the comments!

Stranger Things: Spoiler-Free Review

Finding Dory: Spoiler-Free Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane

Synopsis: Ellen DeGeneres reprises her role as the forgetful blue Tang fish with a friendly personality, as she remembers a key moment from her past and goes on a journey to find the things she’s lost along the way.

Review:

As with any Pixar movie, there was a short movie before the feature presentation, this time, it was Piper, a heartwarming story of a young sandpiper, learning to feed itself, but, also that some things which may seem scary at first could simply be hurdles to be overcome. It’s a sweet little clip, and, if you don’t care about the story, you should marvel at the details. Feathers, water, shells, and even sand are just barely on this side of the uncanny valley.

Ellen DeGeneres slips seamlessly into the role of Dory, just as the movie slips seamlessly back into our lives. It’s difficult to remember that Finding Nemo came out in 2003. We get a split-second recap of the first movie, just to remind anyone who didn’t want to admit to watching the first movie before entering the theater. During the recap, we get to see young Dory, which is probably the cutest thing ever, especially if you didn’t just watch Piper.

Finding Dory - Dory

When Dory is suddenly reminded of something she forgot, it starts a hide-and-seek/I Spy journey to her home, and her forgotten family. Her adopted family, Marlin and Nemo accompany her on this journey, with the help of an adventurous Turtle. Dory blunders her way into dangerous situations and blunders right out of them again. Some of the creatures they meet along the way consider fish to be food and not friends. Along with including nearly every character from the last movie, we get to meet a lot of new friends, including Hank, a suspicious camouflaging “Septopus” and Bailey a self-conscious beluga whale, who is next door neighbors with a near sighted whale shark.

This film served as great entertainment with its colorful cast and easy going feel. The plot is not as straight forward as you would expect from a kid’s movie, but, the twists and turns aren’t exactly sharp either. This is definitely a movie that will be enjoyed by children as well as the adults sitting next to them.

The one actor that gave this reviewer pause was Sigourney Weaver, who plays herself, or rather, her voice as the overhead announcer for the Monterey Bay Marine Life Aquarium, which has a “Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release” motto.

As with any Pixar sequel, this one simply isn’t as good as the original, in this reviewer’s opinion. However, as stated earlier, with how seamlessly it segues into the first movie, you can hardly tell they are 13 years apart. Also, it’s worth it to sit through the credits for a humorous end-scene that tie the two movies together even tighter than before.

Finding Dory: Spoiler-Free Review

Deadpool Blu-Ray out May 10th!

Greetings muchachos and muchachettes of the Fourth Estate, DanPool here!
(What the !@#$ is a “DanPool”? I thought this was about Deadpool…)
[Maybe it’s a pool that belongs to some guy named ‘Dan’?]

Deadpool
Deadpool

Deadpool
Deadpool

 

 

 

 

Can you both be quiet? I’m trying to write a post about the new Deadpool BluRay.
(Who’s Ray, and why is he so Blue?)
[Da Boo Dee Da Boo Die!!!]

What you are currently looking at is an intro into the little world of Deadpool!
(But, not that little, really. I mean, it’s a good size…)
[Size doesn’t matter anyways, right?]

Deadpool

Deadpool_VHS_Announce_4_rgbGuys, we are getting off track here.
(I’d rather get on a Nordic Track, those things will tone your buns)
[Buns of steel, or at least Sourdough.]

I’ve stolen some secrets from Fox studio, using a mixture of Blades, Explosives, and some Special Hugging!
*The Management Does Not Endorse Theft, Explosives Use, Or  “Special Hugging” – –
Enough with the sidebars already!
(Wow, you are getting really testy!)
[Testes, he he..]

Hey, if you looked like Ryan Reynolds crossed with a Shar-Pei, you’d understand!
(You put that mask on, on purpose.)
[It’s not even Deadpool, it’s just a crappy Freddy Kreuger mask…]

Deadpool

Obviously, I’m not going to get anywhere with these two commenting on everything, and since I can’t find their off switches, I present to you my ode to Deadpool!
(You can definitely, find my On switch, if you know what I mean!)
[You wrote an ode? What else did you have to do to get this gig?]

 

H is for Humorous, sparkling wit
E is for Enigmatic, deeply fascinating
Y is for Yes, always believing in yourself
!

D is for Diligent, conscientious in duty
E is for Efficient, succeeding at tasks
A is for Adventurous, leaping into the unknown
D is for Devoted, unwavering faithfulness
P is for Phenomenal, an amazing person
O is for Open-hearted, filled with generosity
O is for Observant, keenly perceptive
L is for Loyal, a worthy friend

B is for Beautiful, Like prettyface Vanessa
L is for Learned, mastery of knowledge
U is for Uber, simply outstanding, and a great taxi service. Just ask Dopinder. He’s Dope!

R is for Romantic, the heart of a poet
A is for Affable, instantly likeable
Y is for Youth, eternally young at heart

C is for Colossus, he’s really shiny!
O is for Original, refreshingly so
M is for Maximum Effort, doing your best
E is for Excellent, of the finest character
S is for Sensational, ever exciting

O is for Optimistic, always staying upbeat
U is for Unique, you’re one of a kind
T is for Tactful, ever sensitive

O is for Outstanding, excelling beyond others
N is for Noteworthy, having remarkable acheivements

M is for Motorcyclists, beheaded with a chain
A is for Ajax, Whose real name is Francis
Y is for Yearning, a thirst for vengeance

1
0
T is for Tasteful, odes of style
H is for Hip, ahead of the times
!

Deadpool
Please remember that this poem pales in comparison to the actual movie. Which you should totally see!
(Yeah, it’s a really crappy poem, it doesn’t even rhyme!)
[Are there any people who still haven’t seen this… Bzzzt..]

Finally, I found the Off Switch!
As I was saying…
Based on Marvel Comics’ version of insanity personified, DEADPOOL gives a segue and flashback infused tall-tale of mercenary Wade Wilson, after he is subjected to terrible experiments, gains a red suit (to hide the blood from the bad guys) and begins a rampage of vengeance!
Starring Ryan Reynolds, who has been trying to get this movie made since ‘Origins’ came out, mainly to clean that stain from his record.

“In the comic book world, Deadpool is a man of our time with the ability to spout just the right thing, in terms of pop culture reference, at the worst possible moment.” – Ryan Reynolds
Tim Miller makes his feature film directorial debut on DEADPOOL. But, let’s talk about the movie a bit more.

Ok, I kind of lost my train of thought. There’s lots of action, adventure, comedy, and a love story thrown in for good measure. Also, Explosions!
Deadpool

Deadpool

 

 

Seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie by now, pre-order the Blu-Ray, and you’re welcome! It comes out on May 10th.
For a fantastic Spoiler Free Review, look under here.
(Under Where?)
[You said ‘Underwear!’ Bwahaha!]
Totes Toots! Read More

Deadpool Blu-Ray out May 10th!

Criminal Movie: A Review

Criminal Review

I’d like to start this review by saying the movie Criminal is complicated, to say the least. It almost feels like a few movies put together.
I really wanted to like it from the beginning.
That being the case, I’ve split this review into different parts;
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good:
This movie has one of the most original premises I’ve seen in a while. Essentially, imagine an evil version of Billy Bob Thornton from Sling Blade wakes up with the memories of Jason Bourne. Would he still be evil? This premise kept me in my seat.
This movie has the largest assortment of actors who have been in comic book movies this side of an X-men sequel. Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and Gary Oldman. And, those are just the ones on the poster. Needless to say, their acting is superb, they totally embodied the characters that they portrayed.

 

The Bad:
Where should I start? Criminal starts with a LOT of jump cuts from city to city, person to person. It’s kind of a spy thriller so it makes sense, but, you really need to pay attention to what is going on.  One of the most interesting characters is killed off in the first half of the movie, which I thought was a poor choice, as far as story is concerned. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, is not a likable guy. He does some stuff at the beginning of the movie that almost had me walking out, almost. Throughout the movie, his character changes immensely, but, it’s still unnerving.
There is a little girl who accepts this character almost immediately, which is also unnerving, as she has no idea who he is, and her mother has absolutely no reason to trust him at all. These scenes could have been better explained, in my opinion.
Gal Gadot is not given nearly the screen time that she deserves and her character was handled poorly.

FIN02_Criminal_1Sht_Payoff_VF_s

The Ugly:
Shaky Cam, Shaky Cam everywhere. If you have trouble with this, be aware. Also, I was expecting Kevin Costner’s character to bust out some Kung Fu, or Krav Maga, but, the best we get is prison moves and brute force. Some of the more violent scenes are very graphic and can be disturbing to sensitive viewers.
In addition, there was a whole subplot about guys who could be Bond villains, computer programming, and nuclear missiles. These were wholly unnecessary in my opinion. Overall, this felt like most other recent Kevin Costner movies, such as The Postman and Waterworld, both of which I enjoy to this day, but, mainly when they are on cable. So, this movie may end up as a stocking stuffer from the bargain bin at your local Wally World.

TLDR;
If you enjoy movies with interesting plots, that are well-acted and feature some big names, Criminal is a good romp.
If you like action scenes and explosions, you will enjoy Criminal.
If you have trouble with shaky cam and you don’t enjoy hasty jump cuts, Criminal might be a movie to skip.

criminal-2016-ryan-reynolds1

Oh yeah, and Ryan Reynolds is in this movie. Who knew?

Criminal Movie: A Review

Allians: A New Collectible Card Game

Have you ever wanted a personalized game character? Imagine a card game where you are both player and card! The company Claimony is making that a reality with Allians. Inspired by the classic collectible card games and fantasy leagues, you can draft your team and develop their unique traits. Your team can then wage war with a dash of competitive card games and betting. Engaging in tactical battles and climbing the battle to glory! If that all seems too normal, or average, Claimony steps up the game by connecting your personal card, with your personal Steam account. The system only requires the URL for your Steam account to generate a Champion Card. By default, the card will feature your Steam ID, however, you can upload your own original artwork instead. Your Champion’s attributes are based on your Steam performance and typically range from 0 to 150. The Combat Level is an indication of the Champions overall strength. It’s derived from all attributes with extra weight to the top attribute and range from 1 to 15.

Allians from Claimony

Allians from ClaimonyPlanning: Used to reveal hidden information. Based on your efforts in Strategy and Other genres. Also influenced by Sports and Adventure games.
Endurance: Helps you withstand tough opponents. Based on your efforts in Simulation and MMO genres. Also influenced by Strategy and Racing games.
Aggression: Commonly used to overpower enemy tactics. Based on your efforts in Action and RPG genres. Also influenced by MMO and Other games.
Reflex: Helps you evade and confuse your enemies. Based on your efforts in Action and Racing genres. Also influenced by Indie and Sports games.
Luck: Lets you take advantage of your surroundings. Based on your efforts in Adventure and Indie genres. Also influenced by RPG and Simulation games.
To further personalize your Champion, you must choose from a variety of factions:
Seeker: Seeking wisdom and power through understanding the world around them.
Primal: In need of freedom and individuality through free expression and competition.
Zodiac: Mysteriously keeping secrets within their circle to outwit their enemies.
Infiltrator: Lone wolves who love to manipulate and spy on others to gain intel.
Guardian: Team players who are very protective of their allies and their reputation.

The role of factions will be made clear during the upcoming Kickstarter. The link will be provided as soon as it is available.Allians from Claimony

Check out Alliansgame.com to create your personalized card.

Have you looked into Allians? Comment below with your thoughts on the new CCG.

Allians: A New Collectible Card Game

Mort of the Month – Manikin

Greetings, True Believers! Do you ever feel lonely, singled out, or out of place? Let me introduce you to a Mort who never had to feel that way. (Except for that last one.)
Writers warning: You may not know any of the character referenced here. I implore you to read about them at your local Wikipedia.

Manikin

Real Name: Whitman Knapp

Abilities: A mutant ability to manifest three separate versions of himself from throughout history.

Debuting in Marvel Comics’ Alpha Flight #44 (March 1987), Whitman Knapp was an intern at a hospital in Canada. He was a colleague of Lionel Jeffries, who would become the monster, Omega.

Omega used his powers to distort poor Whitman’s DNA, which triggered his latent mutant ability to manifest three other versions of himself:

  • Proto, a semi-sentient glob of primeval goo capable of corroding substances by secreting acid
  • Ape-Man, a neanderthal with “great strength”
  • Highbrow, a future descendant of humanity, who was really smart and could teleport

So, this guy could call past and future versions of “himself”. I understand the future version, but why would he choose the primordial ooze and caveman? Talk about the strangest family reunion ever. His only real skill was as a Doctor. And, to top it all off, he called himself “Manikin”, get it “Man-i-kin”, something about being a man and having family… Manikin spent the majority of his career in Alpha Flight, at a time when only die hard fans were buying those issues. (Read: 1990’s) During this, he spent some time questioning his own existence. He believed he was a fictional character and had conversations with his creator. These were later discovered to be machinations of the DreamQueen. After Alpha Flight recruited some better members, Manikin was demoted to Beta Flight, which was apparently better than Gamma Flight, and, hopefully better than Omega Flight. (If they existed.)

After a fight with the Spider-Man villain Jackal, Manikin’s powers were changed to only allow him to change into one of his manifestations at a time. Kind of like the lamest version of Ben 10. “Whit-3”. Also, for some reason, his manifestations changed their appearances slightly, Ape-Man became more ape and less man.

Why he’s a “Mort”: If you were able to call reinforcements to battle, would they be your grandparents and future children? This guy is the superhero equivalent of that guy who always threatens to call his dad on you.

Rating: 4 out of 10 useless manifestations.

Mort of the Month – Manikin

The Good Dinosaur – Review

“Let’s sit down and review The Good Dinosaur by Disney/Pixar.”

The Good Dinosaur

In proper Pixar fashion, we should start with a review of the pre-movie short: Sanjay’s Super Team. Based on a ‘mostly’ true story.
At only 7 minutes, this short packs in a lot of story. A young boy is at odds with his religion and the modern world. Eventually, a midway point is found through a daydream of various Hindu gods as superheroes, battling a shadow demon. After the dream ends, the boy has a newfound appreciation for his father and religion in general.

Now, let’s step back about 65 million years, and see what the world would have been like if an asteroid didn’t exterminate all of the dinosaurs. An asteroid belt rotates slowly, one chunk of debris bumps into another, sending it on a direct course with a bright blue orb, Earth. The meteor misses the planet completely, disturbing nothing.

“A few million years later”, we meet a family of Apatosarus living on a farm. The runt of the litter is Arlo, the hero of our story. After a classic Disney tragedy sequence, Arlo sets out on an adventure to return home, meeting a wild child human on the way, named Spot. The first laugh I had while watching this movie was during a touching scene when Spot placed a large beetle in front of Arlo, and promptly pulled the bug’s head off.

The Good Dinosaur Arlo and Spot

Perhaps the most interesting part of this movie was a scene where Spot and Arlo eat fermented plums and go on a psychedelic drug trip. After this, we meet a variety of interesting characters, including scavenging Pterodactyls, T-Rex Ranchers, and a pack of wild, wolf-like humans. All of this culminates in Arlo returning home to a loving reunion.

All in all, this is a good movie for kids, although there are a few scenes involving small animals savagely eaten by predators, and tall tales about chewing through a tail to survive a tough situation. For adults, there really isn’t a lot to offer, which is a let down for a Pixar movie.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 fermented plums.

Disney-Pixar presents a film directed by Peter Sohn and written by Meg LeFauve. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated PG (for peril, action and thematic elements).

The Good Dinosaur hit theaters this past weekend, opening to $39.155 million domestically, beating the new Rocky universe film Creed but losing out to the two-time champion, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 which brought in $52 million in its second week at the box office. The Good Dinosaur, which was riddled with re-writers, re-castings, and delays, saw Pixar’s second worst wide opening ever, beating out only the original Toy Story, Pixar’s first feature film. Inside Out, the other Pixar film to release this year, saw a $90 million opening weekend back in June.

The Good Dinosaur is in theaters now.

Have you seen the new dinosaur flick yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Box office numbers provided by boxofficemojo.com.

The Good Dinosaur – Review

Mort of the Month – The Walrus

Once again, valued readers, it is time for the Mort of the Month!

Most Morts are known mainly by their powers and not their personality. Well, let me introduce you to a villain who was a Mort even before he donned a costume!

The Savage Walrus


Real Name: Hubert Carpenter

Abilities: Minimal superhuman strength, agility, and endurance; good at crossword puzzles; ability to distract enemies by his dumbfounding remarks; above average ability to hold his breath; a protective layer of blubber deflects minor injuries and freezing temperatures.
Hubert Carpenter was a cab driver in New York. He lived with an eccentric Uncle Humbert, who was a janitor and a Mad Scientist, apparently a double major in the Marvel universe. After Donning a costume with a Rainbow “W” proudly stamped on his chest, Hubert was apparently endowed with the proportionate strength and speed of a walrus. While walri walruses are larger and stronger than humans, that would mean he would be weaker and slower than the average human. In actuality, he did gain a bit of super strength, endurance, and invulnerability. He can rip lamp posts out and swing them around without breaking a sweat. While his backstory may seem impressive, his ambitions reached to the highest mountain of “breaking stuff”. Literally, he described himself as a “mass-destructionist”. So, a villain who breaks stuff, brilliant! Unsurprisingly, he was first defeated in Defenders #131 (May 1984) during his inaugural debut by a lesser known hero, Frog-Man, who may or may not end up on my Mort-o-meter in the future. Essentially, Walrus fought until he collapsed. That was it. No witty remarks, no secret weapon…

Anyways, after being out of the picture for a while, Hubert reappeared with the White Rabbit, another Mortworthy villain in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #185. Man, these Morts are getting out of hand. Are you taking the very subtle hints that these are heroes and villains based on Alice in Wonderland? She was a Playboy Bunny villain, with rabbit themed gadgets, who was also defeated by Frog Man.

It is important to note however, that he was able to hit Spiderman with enough force to send him flying. This was, of course, done while Spiderman was laughing at the villain. Unable to move, because he was giggling so much.

Getting back to our central thought. Walrus was once again Persona Non Grata in Marvel. He popped up during the “Fear Itself” storyline. Deadpool gave him a seemingly innocuous hammer in an attempt to embarrass the villain. Deadpool didn’t know the hammer actually was magical and made an otherwise lame super villain an actual threat, like, Hulk-level threat. The Savage Walrus almost killed Deadpool on multiple occasions during his Hammer-fueled Mario Party. The “Moon-Born Hammer” belonged to some werewolves and got it’s power from the full moon, obviously.

Walrus was tricked into the basement of a Sheriff’s office,  away from the hammer’s power source. Deadpool made quick work of the now, severely under-powered villain. And the rest is history.
Walrus has made brief appearances since the re-emergence of Earth-616 in Marvel Comics. Most notably at a strip club, admiring an overweight dancer. (Daughters of the Dragon #4)

Why he’s a “Mort”: If all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, being good at crossword puzzles is listed as one of his “Super Powers”. Nuff’ said.

Rating: I give this villain 3 out of 10 Rainbow W’s.

Do you think The Walrus is Mort worthy? Comment below with your thoughts!

Mort of the Month – The Walrus

The Rundown: Mort of the Month

As the first of (I hope) a long series of entries, a little history. In the 1990’s, there was a great thing called Wizard Magazine. This magazine was all about comic books and super heroes. At the end of each issue, they had the “Mort of the Month” feature. This was about the lamest superheroes around, who they were, what they did, and how they were lame, with specifics on why they were so lame.

So, without further ado, here is the inaugural Grid “Mort of the Month”.

Ten-Eyed Man
Real Name:
Philip Reardon
Abilities:
360° and limited periscopic vision, Superb hand to hand combatant and marksman

A soldier in the U.S. Special Forces during Vietnam, Philip Reardon took a grenade to the face. After which, he was discharged from the military and began working as a security guard. Mr. Reardon was the guard on duty when thieves knocked him out to plant bombs at a warehouse. When he woke up with blurry vision, he saw Batman and started to fight him, thinking he was a thief. After his vision cleared, he could recognize Batman. Suddenly, the Warehouse exploded, burning Reardon’s retinas, blinding him permanently.

After a visit to a doctor that could only exist in comics, “Dr. Engstrom”, Philip had his optic nerves reconnected to his fingertips. I’m not sure what kind of insurance he had with that security guard job, but, he should try to find a better provider. So, with his sight not only restored, but improved, he decided this miracle of modern science should be celebrated by becoming a Super Villain, intent on revenge against Batman. His major tactic was being able to see in low visibility environments. Being a trained soldier, he had a few good moves up his sleeve, especially if he could sucker punch someone.

The general way he is defeated is by touching something that hurts his “eyes”. I feel the best example of this was from Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode “A Bat Divided”, Bat-Mite was bugging Batman while he was fighting Ten-Eyed Man. A cactus was magically provided and tossed to the villain, who caught it out of instinct and got thorns in his eyes. Incidentally, he was killed in “Crisis On Infinite Earths” after being first on a list of characters to kill off, by writer Marv Wolfman.

Why he’s a “Mort”: To put this into perspective, we have a blind man who has eyes on each of his fingers. What have you touched with your fingers today? I’ll bet that a lot of the time, these are things you wouldn’t want in your eyes at all. Even if he spent his days not touching anything or he somehow learned how to grab things with his toes, he would still need to scratch itches, pick his nose and ears, and wipe after using the bathroom. I would imagine his new found abilities would cause him to be very clean. So, why again was he going out to fight Batman?

Rating: I give this villain 1 out of 10 finger/eyes.

The Rundown: Mort of the Month