Spin Master DC Toys

Surprisingly Fun

Way back in 2018 it was announced that DC Comics and Spin Master Toys had come to terms on a new licensing agreement. Starting in 2020, Mattel would no longer produce the bulk of DC’s toys. I was a bit sad about this, since I grew to love their Multiverse 6″ line as a collector and really liked their 12″ True Moves figures for my kids. Thankfully, Spin Master will continue with their own value priced 12″ figure line and a bevy of other wonderful figures, vehicles, and playsets of varying sizes.

12″ Batman figure

The 12″ line features the same excellent articulation as Mattel’s True Moves figures. Spin Master also seems to lean harder to comic style characters as opposed to some of the more realistic looking toys from Mattel. Spin Master focused on Rebirth Batman with their first wave of toys, but have also introduced a new wave featuring more of our favorite DC heroes and villains.

4″ Heroes Unite Battle Pack

The 4″ figure line features an amazing lineup of characters. Yep, you have your traditional heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash, and a number of popular villains including Joker, Harley Quinn, and Darkseid, but you also get characters that don’t receive as much attention on the 4″ scale such as Nightwing, Bronze Tiger, Talon, Copperhead, and Killer Croc.

4″ Nightwing

The 4″ figures come with mystery accessories and a few rare chase accessories. There’s a Hammerhead alternate figure of King Shark that is exclusive to Target stores as well. Other figures in the line include Catwoman, Shazam, Cyborg, and Gorilla Grodd. The figures come in single packs, multi-packs, and Mega Gear Packs that features bigger accessories.

Mega Gear Pack

There are also a number of playsets, vehicles, and other toys for children and collectors to purchase that are being released with each wave. Sticking with the popular blind bag trend, Spin Master is also releasing 2″ collectible blind bag figures.

Toy Hype photo of assorted Wave One items.

I really like the fact that Spin Master is focusing on comic inspired looks for the characters. I do hope that they eventually produce some higher end figures for collectors but I love that they are producing tons of figures that provide a lot of playability for children. In today’s world, it seems that more and more companies are focusing on collector items and produce more dull options for children to play with and collect. I think that this will pay off for Spin Master in the long run.

4″ Wonder Woman

So, do you like the new line-up of toys being offered by Spin Master? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, let me know which figures you are looking forward to or want Spin Master to release in the future.

As always, thanks for reading my post. Have a great day!

Classic Horror: C.H.U.D. (1984)

Under The City….

Sometimes a classic horror film takes its time finding fans. Many films that failed to find their audience in theaters often gain a cult following once they are released to streaming services, Blu-ray, DVD, or, in the case of many films released in the 1980’s and 90’s, VHS. C.H.U.D. is one of those films. Although it did turn a small profit, it was only given a limited release in theaters. New life was breathed into the film once it was released on VHS.

The film tells the story of mutated beings (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers or C.H.U.D.) that are attacking homeless people and anyone who ventures too close to a manhole cover in the Lafayette Street area of New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The problem with the attacks is that they are not being made public due to an official with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who has placed a gag order on city officials. When a local police captain’s (Christopher Curry) wife goes missing, he starts to dig deeper into the numerous missing persons and homicide reports that are being swept under the rug. With the aid of a soup kitchen owner nicknamed “The Rev” (Daniel Stern) and a local photographer, George Cooper (John Heard), who is doing a photography project on homeless people in the neighborhood, the captain attempts to uncover the truth about what’s really happening under Lafayette Street.

Once the captain, The Rev, and George begin to uncover dirty secrets, the NRC official named Wilson (George Martin) tries to put a stop to them and to the mutated creatures below the city. I won’t tell you if Captain Bosch, The Rev, or George survive the final conflict, but I will tell you to watch this film despite its many flaws.

The film is by no means a stellar production, but the first sixty minutes of the movie are surprisingly well done. It isn’t until the final act that the performance of some of the film’s stars (in particular John Heard’s performance) seem to come apart at the seams. The C.H.U.D. mutants look pretty good and generate some decent scares, but their brightly lit eyes are a bit goofy looking. The music by Martin Cooper is actually very good. It keeps pulling the viewer in once the direction goes off of the rails in the climax of the film.

The film is very entertaining and even though it’s a pretty light romp, it puts a focus on the plight of the homeless and the dangers of hazardous waste. At the beginning of the film, the police aren’t that concerned with a large amount of homeless people going missing. It is only when his wife goes missing that Captain Bosch decides to turn up the heat on the case. This is a serious issue even today. Society doesn’t always care whenever a homeless person is found dead or murdered. While the issue of hazardous and radioactive waste is pushed to an extreme in this film, it does make you wonder about what we are really doing to our planet.

This film features a massive amount of actors who would go on to have prolific careers. Daniel Stern and John Heard would both go on to have successful careers and would appear in two more films together (Home Alone and Home Alone 2). Christopher Curry would go on to have a solid career as a character actor in films such as F/X (1986) and television shows like Huff. Kim Greist already had a successful career as a model before taking on the role of Lauren, George’s girlfriend, in the film. She continued to act in a number of supporting roles in film and television, most notably in the films Brazil (1985) and Throw Momma From The Train (1987) and retired from acting in 2001. We also get early performances from actors such as John Goodman (Roseanne, Kong: Skull Island), Jon Polito (The Rocketeer, Homicide: Life on the Street), Jay Thomas (Cheers, Mork & Mindy, Mr. Holland’s Opus) and Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement, Strong Medicine).

If you haven’t viewed C.H.U.D., I highly recommend giving it a look. It’s a weird film that is very good most of the time but becomes unhinged too often to really lift it above its B-movie cult status. The sheer number of eventual stars in the movie should be motivation enough for you to give it a look, but it’s also a pretty fun flick as a whole. A sequel, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D., was released in 1989. It takes a much heavier comical turn than its predecessor. I might review it in the future, but don’t hold your breath.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you all again real soon.

Outpost: Northeast Louisiana

Mounds And Vampires And Corn, Oh, My!

With COVID-19 restrictions loosening up a bit and with my children suffering from hardcore cabin fever, I decided to take my family on a road trip to a corner of my home state that I haven’t had an opportunity to explore. Although I spent quite a bit of time in the Monroe, LA area, and have visited Vicksburg, MS on a few occasions, I never took the time to check out the area between Monroe and the Mississippi River in northern Louisiana. That changed this weekend.

Myself and the kids set out on a 4.5 hour road trip to Transylvania, LA. We traveled up Highway 165 (a highway that I’ve driven on many, many times) and then hit Interstate 49 near the small town of Woodworth. We drove north of Alexandria and turned onto Highway 28. This highway took us by the Frogmore Plantation and the legendary city of Ferriday. Ferriday is perhaps best known for giving the world Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley, three men that blazed trails in rock n’ roll, televangelism, and countrypolitan music, respectively. It was also the home of Haney’s Big House, a dance hall where numerous blues and R&B legends such as B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Irma Thomas performed.

In Ferriday, we turned north onto Highway 425 and eventually Highway 65, which would lead us to Transylvania. Along the way we passed through towns such as Waterproof, Newellton, and Tallulah. I highly recommend researching these three towns, as all of them have very interesting histories and a number of notable people are from these towns.

When we finally arrived in Transylvania, we saw the general store (which appeared to be closed for the day), the famous water tower with a giant bat on two sides, the Transylvania Post Office, and the permanently closed and abandoned Transylvania Elementary School. The town is surrounded by corn and cotton fields on all sides and the highways that lead into it (65 and 581) are dotted with prehistoric mounds built by the indigenous people that lived and/or traveled through the area. Some of these mounds predate Stonehenge (3000 BC) by as many as an estimated five hundred years. Many of these mounds are located on private property and can only be observed from the road. Once exception to this is the Poverty Point World Heritage Site. I’ll get to that wonderful place in a few minutes.

By Sinneed – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8050043

After visiting Transylvania, we headed north through Lake Providence and cut across to Oak Grove, LA, home of the Fiske Theatre, the oldest operating theater in northeast Louisiana and the last remaining single screen theater in operation (according to Wikipedia). It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about the theatre here. From there we headed back towards Transylvania via Highways 134 and 581. On Highway 581, we viewed the Transylvania Mounds and the Juice Mound.

After leaving Transylvania for a second time, we headed south to Alsatia and took Highways 580 and 577 to Poverty Point World Heritage Site. The site features six mounds identified as Mounds A-F. Mound A, also known as the Bird Mound, towers over the rest of the mounds at a height of seventy-two feet. It is 710 feet long and 660 feet wide. It is the largest mound in North America. No one knows exactly what purposes Mound A or any of the other mounds were used for, as they differ from all of the other mounds found in North America as far as found artifacts are concerned.

Many of the artifacts found at the site and on display in the museum are amazing. In particular, I found myself in awe of the plummets. Polished and drilled to be attached to things like nets, this things look like they were manufactured and not made by hand. I also really loved the figurines and and other small carved items on display at the museum.

Visitors are allowed to walk to the top of Mound A. Three types of tours are offered at the site. You can take a self-guided 2.6 mile hike, a driving tour, or a tram tour led by a tour guide. We went with the driving tour considering our late arrival time. You can learn more about Poverty Point World Heritage Site at their website. Be sure to check their website before visiting at this time, since COVID-19 has affected operations at the site.

View from the top of Mound A looking back toward the museum and visitor center.

After our visit to Poverty Point, we decided to head home. Instead of taking the same route we used to arrive in NE Louisiana, we ventured down Highway 17, hopped onto Interstate 20, and then quickly exited in Start, LA. From there, we headed south on Highway 133 (catching glimpses of the Boeuf River along the way), passed through Hebert, and eventually ended up in the lovely town of Columbia on the Ouachita River. In Columbia we hopped back onto Highway 165 and made our way back to the Lake Charles area.

Our trip to NE Louisiana was definitely one that we’ll remember. The small towns in the area appear to be hit pretty hard by poverty, but the history (and prehistory) of the area coupled with the agricultural heritage of the region make northeast Louisiana a great place to visit. I also recommend visiting Monroe and, if you have time, stopping across the Mississippi River in Vicksburg to check out that town which is also loaded with great attractions and history.

Thanks for reading my post. I’ll be hitting the trail again real soon!

All photos by me except where noted.

Outpost: Transylvania?

Northern Louisiana…..

In my last post I mentioned that I had a special surprise coming on Sunday. Well, here it is! I took a road trip this weekend to Northern Louisiana. I visited some really cool places. One of those places is Transylvania!

This is just a teaser for my post. I’ll make my full report either tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for checking out my post!

Classic Horror: Friday The 13th (1980)

They were warned….

Today’s Classic Horror features the first film in one of the most successful horror franchises of all time, 1980’s Friday The 13th. The film turned forty years old on May 9th of this year, so it’s fitting that I should highlight the movie that started it all for Jason Voorhees even though he isn’t the central character nor the primary villain in this film.

L to R: Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson, Adrienne King, Laurie Bartram, and Harry Crosby III.

Just in case you are wondering, there are spoilers ahead!

The film is actually a pretty generic slasher flick. A group of attractive young people arrive at Camp Crystal Lake in order to help its current owner, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer), refurbish and clean up the grounds in order to open up for summer camp. Unfortunately for the group, the locals in the nearby town believe that the camp is cursed. They warn the youngsters about “Camp Blood” and all of the horrible things that happened there ever since a young boy drowned and a young couple was murdered the following year. Despite the warnings, the group moves ahead with their work. One by one, they are picked off by a murderer who is never shown on camera. When there’s only one person left, the villain is finally revealed to be the mother of Jason Voorhees, the young boy who drowned in the lake many years before.

Betsy Palmer starred as the insane Pamela Voorhees, driven to murder by the voice of her son. Adrienne King portrayed Alice Hardy, the final girl in the film and the one who faces off with Mrs. Voorhees. She also gets a spooky surprise during a dream sequence at the end of the film. It introduces the world to Jason Voorhees (Ari Lehman) sans the hockey mask that would make him famous. The film also starred Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles, Harry Crosby III, son of Bing Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, and Mark Nelson. Also appearing briefly in the film as a camp counselor who is murdered on her way to the camp is Robbi Morgan as Annie Phillips.

Robbi Morgan as Annie Phillips.

The film was criticized by the MPAA for its violence which, by today’s standards, is actually pretty tame. The movie was also criticized for exploiting the young cast by having them run around in underwear and shirtless at points and a brief scene involving nudity. Again, by today’s standards, especially when compared to more modern slasher films, this movie is very tame. Critics of the time panned the film for numerous reasons, some that were actually warranted. As I already mentioned, the film was a fairly basic slasher film. The acting wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. What really gets me is how many critics were angered and/or couldn’t believe that an elderly woman could pull off all of the murders in the film. Many critics didn’t like the fact that a woman was the killer, either.

Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees.

The movie would go on to produce a seemingly endless chain of sequels, one that even happens in the future aboard a spaceship (Jason X, 2002). In 2003, much to the delight of horror fans, Jason faced off against A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger in Freddy Vs. Jason. The franchise was rebooted in 2009 but there has yet to be a sequel to that film. A television show was released in 1987 and ran for three seasons. It followed two cousins who ran an antique store and collected cursed items to safely store away. It had no connection with the film series despite being called Friday The 13th: The Series. There have been books, video games, action figures, and much, much more paraphernalia that has been released over the last forty years as well. The franchise has shown to be one of the most profitable horror properties in history. It is second only to the Halloween franchise and only gave up the top spot in 2018.

Of the cast, only Kevin Bacon went on to have a massively successful career. Many of the actors went on to have minor roles in film and television and a few have had solid voice acting careers. Adrienne King became the focus of a stalker and, as a result, left the United States to study art and dance. She eventually returned and began doing voice work, afraid to show her face on camera. She has slowly returned to acting on screen in small roles.

Adrienne King as Alice Hardy.

If you’ve never watched any of the Friday the 13th films, give this one a look. It’s a standard slasher film but it’s still worth checking out because of the films and franchise growth that would follow.

Thanks for taking a trip to Camp Crystal Lake with me today. I plan on taking a look at a couple of other films in the franchise in my Classic Horror series.

Throwback Thursday: The Legend of the Lone Ranger Toys (1981)

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Yes, I know that some folks will claim that “Hi-Yo” is wrong and that it should be “Hi-Ho,” but Clayton Moore, the man best known for portraying the Lone Ranger on television for most of the 1950’s, has stated in interviews that it’s “Hi-Yo, Silver.” I don’t argue with the Lone Ranger. That being said, 1981’s The Legend of the Lone Ranger did not include Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger. Instead, it starred Klinton Spilsbury as the masked man (with lines dubbed by James Keach) and Michael Horse as his ally, Tonto. The film also starred Christopher Lloyd as Butch Cavendish, Jason Robards as President Ulysses S. Grant, Richard Farnsworth as Wild Bill Hickok, and a number of popular supporting actors featured in western films such as Buck Taylor, Tom Laughlin, and John Hart.

The film bombed. The failure of the movie was due in part to a longstanding courtroom battle between Clayton Moore and Jack Wrather, the man who owned the rights to the Lone Ranger character, that spilled over into the public arena. Fans of Moore’s version of the character were angered whenever Wrather obtained a court order that stated Moore could no longer make public appearances as the masked man. As a result, the film took a hit. Spilsbury would never act again and the film would fade into history.

As a young kid in the early 80’s, I wasn’t too concerned with legal battles or the acting abilities of Spilsbury, I just wanted cool toys. I didn’t even see The Legend of the Lone Ranger until it was replayed on television, but when Gabriel toys released a line of action figures based on the film, I made sure that my mom hooked me up with the Lone Ranger and Tonto and their horses, Silver and Scout.

I played with these toys constantly. They primarily aided G.I. Joe and my Star Wars figures in battle since they were the only other 3 3/4″ figures that I had at the time. There were five figures and three horses in the line, but I never did get Butch Cavendish, General Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, or Smoke (Butch’s horse). I was happy with the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Silver, and Scout.

I broke one of the knee joints on my Tonto figure and had to administer six-year old medical assistance to him by using an old clasp from a bag to allow him to move his knee. Both he and the Lone Ranger could ride their horses. The Lone Ranger came with his two pistols and Tonto came with a pistol and knife.

L to R: Custer, Cody, and Cavendish.

None of the figures looked like their counterparts in the film, but it’s pretty obvious who each character represents. I really wish that I had held on to the figures, as they were a big part of my childhood. There’s a slight chance that I have one or two of them tucked away somewhere, but I’m not sure if I do or don’t. If any of them survived, it’s probably Silver. He doubled as Pegasus whenever I got my Perseus action figure from The Clash of the Titans which also came out in 1981.

Yep, The Legend of the Lone Ranger might not have been a success, but it definitely delivered when it came to the toy line. The characters are still popular to this day, although they are slowly fading into history. Disney attempted to revive interest in the masked man with the release of The Lone Ranger in 2013, but it failed to catch the attention of audiences. I actually enjoyed the movie, but I seriously doubt that the Lone Ranger and Tonto will be hitting the silver screen any time soon.

Thanks for checking out my post.

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

The Forgotten Island

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)

Bookended by a beloved classic and a notorious flop, 1977’s The Island of Dr. Moreau is often forgotten by science fiction fans despite being a decent adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name. 1932’s Island of Lost Souls has become an influential classic despite being disliked by Wells. 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau starring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando was plagued with production issues and in-fighting between cast and crew that damaged the film on many levels. Its chaotic production has become infamous in cinema history.

When the 1977 feature was released, it featured a solid cast including Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Barbara Carrera, and Nigel Davenport, and, at least in my opinion, some pretty good makeup and special effects for the time. It tells the story of Braddock (York), a shipwrecked engineer who ends up on a mysterious island and is restored to health by Dr. Moreau (Lancaster), his warden named Montgomery (Davenport), and a beautiful young woman named Maria (Carrera). In time Braddock learns that Dr. Moreau is doing genetic experiments on animals, creating beings that look and act somewhat human. Braddock eventually comes into contact with a number of the beings that live outside of its walls.

The creatures are guided by the Sayer of the Law (Richard Basehart) who repeatedly recites the three laws taught to him by Moreau. Those laws are 1) No Walking On All Fours, 2) No Eating Of Flesh and 3) No Taking Of Life. Despite knowing the laws, many of the creatures find it hard to resist their natural animalistic instincts and a couple of them give in to their desires. One of them attacks Braddock and is sent to Moreau’s house of pain for treatment. The other one, Bull-Man (Bob Ozman), attacks and kills a tiger. Moreau attempts to have him brought in for treatment, but Bull-Man escapes and is wounded. When Braddock catches up to him, Bull-Man asks Braddock to kill him, ending his miserable existence. Braddock complies and sends the rest of the creatures into a frenzy.

Braddock attempts to escape the island with Maria but is captured by Moreau. Moreau injects him with genetic material that begins to turn Braddock into an animal. Attempting to resist his newfound instincts, Braddock and Maria manage to break free of Moreau’s house of pain and Moreau kills Montgomery whenever the warden stands up to him for injecting Braddock. Chaos ensues and the creatures go on a rampage throughout the compound. Does Moreau pay for breaking his own laws? Do Braddock and Maria escape? What happens to the creatures? You’ll have to watch the film in order to find out!

With its impressive cast, decent story, and solid effects, you’d think that Moreau would have performed better at the box office. Sadly, the film managed to come out the same year that a certain other little science fiction/fantasy film was released: Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Star Wars dominated the box office for the rest of the year following its May release, and only a few other science fiction and horror films managed to grab a decent amount of attention that year including The Deep and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Couple those films with the fact that there were a ton of other successful films in 1977 including Saturday Night Fever, Smokey and the Bandit, and A Bridge Too Far, and you quickly realize why a middling science fiction flick set on an island might fall between the cracks.

That being said, the film is definitely worth a look. The makeup is always knocked for looking cheap and is often compared to the Planet of the Apes films since Moreau‘s director, Don Taylor, previously directed 1971’s Escape From The Planet of the Apes but I actually like the makeup in the film. The music by Laurence Rosenthal isn’t bad, but it’s not that impressive, either. The cast is solid and the story is interesting but it does move at a somewhat slow pace. All in all, this is a nice flick to check out on a rainy day.

If there are any other forgotten films out there that you’d like me to visit on this page, let me know in the comments. I really enjoy The Island of Dr. Moreau despite its many flaws. Also, my brother had a book about the film that featured numerous photographs of the creatures on the island. As a young kid, the images in the book frightened me and it’s one of my earliest memories of being scared. I guess that means that I have a soft spot in my heart for this film.

Thanks for reading my post. I hope to have a Classic Horror or Throwback Thursday post for you all real soon and if things go according to plan, I’ll be posting an extra special Outpost article this Sunday!

In Defense of Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Retreat? Hell!

I saw Battle: Los Angeles in the theater way back in 2011. A sleeper hit, the film debuted at number one amidst a bunch of films that just weren’t that great including Red Riding Hood and Mars Needs Moms. Panned by critics and dethroned in its second week by the animated Rango, Battle: LA quickly got lost in the shuffle of alien invasion films and was written off as just another loud, noisy mess.

I beg to differ.

While it’s definitely not a great film and suffers from having a few plot holes and inconsistencies in time, it does a solid job of giving us a war movie with aliens as the antagonist. It takes itself seriously and actually makes you care about the characters, even if most of them are gone by the end of the film.

The film’s plot is pretty basic and has been visited before in both military and science fiction films. There’s an invasion (this time it’s aliens) by an unknown enemy that catches the world off guard. The enemy begins its invasion in major seaside cities. With evacuations complete, Marines are sent in to retrieve any known remaining citizens and bring them back to safety. Marines from Echo Company, 2/5 are sent in to retrieve an unknown amount of civilians from a police station located in West Los Angeles before the US Air Force bombs the area. They are given three hours to complete their mission.

The film becomes an urban warfare/extraction film once the Marines begin their mission. Prior to this, we are given brief characterizations of the members of the platoon. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that most of these Marines do not survive the film, and in some cases, the time spent developing the characters takes longer than their actual survival time during the extraction.

As the film chugs along, it gives us glimpses at how a real life situation involving aliens (or any other enemy) might take place. The Marines battle personal demons, worry about family and friends, struggle with PTSD, doubt themselves and others, and become wary of the capabilities of themselves and others in their platoon. You don’t see these types of problems dealt with in most science fiction films. Sure, you’ll have an occasional character in a movie with an issue that eventually becomes the reason that they become a hero, but it’s always delivered in a heavy handed fashion. In Battle: LA, these Marines attempt to work around their issues, with some failing and others coming out scarred even more.

It’s this gritty realism woven together with a chaotic camera style that makes the film a wild and emotional ride. Sacrifices are made for the betterment of the group as a whole and losses are noted and then filed away until after the Marines get to safety. Friends and brothers are mourned but the survivors continue to help one another keep it together as mentally and emotionally as possible in the situation.

What I find amazing about the critical reviews of this film is that most of them hammer the movie for being loud, confusing, and over the top. They criticize the camera work while complimenting and praising the exact same style of shooting fight scenes in films such as Gladiator and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. They compare it to Independence Day which is, at least in my opinion, as glossy and vanilla as you can get with an alien invasion story. Did I enjoy that film? Yep, but I prefer the realism found in Battle: LA.

Critics also take shots at the cast, in particular Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, stating that both of them are too good to be in a film such as this one. I actually appreciate the fact that both of these actors are in this movie, as their performances definitely bring the film up a few notches. Both them and the rest of the cast took their roles seriously and this makes the film that much better.

For those with sharp eyes, you’ll notice that this cast is pretty loaded with both established actors (Eckhart, Rodriguez, Michael Pena, and Bridget Moynahan) and a number of other actors who would soon go on to bigger and better things. Lucas Till would go on to star as Havok in the most recent series of X-Men films and eventually land the starring role in the remake of MacGyver. Ne-Yo was already an established R&B/hip hop artist prior to being in this film and continues to be successful as both an actor and musician. Noel Fisher has established himself as a reliable character and voice actor, having appeared as Michelangelo in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, Vladimir in The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 2, Mickey on Shameless, and numerous other roles. Joey King, who portrays one of the civilian children in the film, has starred in numerous film and television productions including Ramona and Beezus, The Conjuring, and The Kissing Booth. Many other members of the cast have continued to have solid careers in supporting roles in film and television.

Look, I understand that this film has plenty of things going against it. The three hour window in the film seemed to be stuck at times and in one particular sequence we go from afternoon to late night to mid morning in a relatively short amount of time. There are definitely flaws with this film, but nothing that I can find that any other, better reviewed film doesn’t have as well. For whatever reason, critics hated this movie. It’s also pretty low with general audiences as well, and I just don’t understand why.

If you haven’t seen Battle: Los Angeles yet, it’s currently available to stream on Netflix. I rewatched it the other night and had forgotten just how solid it really is as both a military story and a science fiction yarn. Check it out and, as always, thanks for reading my post.

May The Fourth Be With You!

It’s Star Wars Day!

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for my entire life, literally. Although I was just a few days away from being one year old when it was released, my family went to the theater to see Star Wars (now known as Star Wars IV: A New Hope). I’ve seen every other Star Wars film in the theater since then with the exception of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars film. I own many of the soundtracks, still collect many of the toys, and have accumulated numerous other collectible items over the years including autographs, PEZ dispensers, posters, apparel, bobbleheads, and more. Along with Doctor Who and Star Trek, it forms the Holy Trinity of my fandom.

American actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

With that in mind, I decided to list a few of my favorite characters from the films and the cartoons. This isn’t a complete list and I’m sure that a quite a few people will disagree with me, but it’s my list. Feel free to comment your own favorites below. I’ll break down this post into four sections: Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy, Disney Films, and The Rest of the Galaxy (cartoons, book characters, etc.). I’ll list my top six from each section and I’ll also throw in a few honorable mentions at the end of my post as well.

Original Trilogy

  • Luke Skywalker
  • Princess Leia
  • Han Solo
  • Chewbacca
  • Darth Vader
  • Boba Fett

The films that started it all gave me some of my favorite memories as a child. Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewbacca captivated my young imagination. As a youngster, I wanted to be Luke, but as I got older, I wanted to be Han. Along with this group were two of the greatest villains in all of cinematic history: Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Sure, Fett’s time on the screen was minimal and he didn’t necessarily go out in a blaze of glory, but he was just cool. From the visor to the sinister quiet demeanor, Boba Fett was the man. Vader, of course, was as terrifying as the come, and I seriously doubt that there aren’t a lot of people who don’t know his name.

Prequel Trilogy

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Darth Maul
  • Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
  • Jango Fett
  • General Grievous
  • Ki-Adi-Mundi

This list is notably short on heroes, as very few of them impressed me enough to make my list. Nope, in the prequels, the villains took center stage with Darth Maul and Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus leading the way. General Grievous was an amazing villain who I wish would have had more screen time (the same goes for Dooku and Maul), but their characters would be fleshed out more in the animated Clone Wars television series and, at least Maul, in Rebels. Jango Fett was a gunslinger through and through and I wish that his death wouldn’t have been so quick. Ki-Adi-Mundi is on my list, but I could have easily swapped him for Kit Fisto, Plo Koon, or any of the other Jedi from the prequels who had a least a few shining moments. Ki-Adi-Mundi’s death was one of the best one’s in the prequels in my opinion, so he gets the nod on my list.

While most people (including George Lucas) believe that the prequels are Anakin Skywalker’s story, in my opinion they are really the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Not only does his character develop the most over the prequels (seriously, we all knew what would happen to Anakin), Ewan McGregor’s performance is arguably the best in the entire trilogy. For this reason, Kenobi is one of my favorite characters overall in the Star Wars universe.

Disney Films

  • Kylo Ren
  • K-2SO
  • Zorii Bliss
  • General Hux
  • Enfys Nest
  • Director Orson Krennic

Of all of the characters created for the Disney films, Kylo Ren is the best. Yes, he’s a big baby at times, but he is ultimately the one character that makes the Disney trilogy better than it really is in the long run. I actually cared about him in the films and wanted him to redeem himself. The only other characters from the Disney trilogy that I really enjoyed were General Hux and Zorii Bliss. Hux was the perfect sniveling foil every time he appeared on the screen, and he’s also one of the few figures from the Disney trilogy that I actually sought out. Bliss made for a perfect “is this person a hero or a villain” character and injected some much need “grey area” to the trilogy.

As far as the expanded universe films, Rogue One and Solo, are concerned, both were very good films and both added some interesting characters to the Star Wars universe. K-2SO is my favorite of the bunch, with his quick wit and biting tongue a perfect comedic punch to an otherwise serious film. Sharing a spot near the top with him is the main antagonist of Rogue One, Director Krennic. Krennic was a great villain. He was looking out for number one the entire time and was willing to throw everyone under the bus to get to the top in the Empire. Unlucky for him, though, Grand Moff Tarkin was just as ruthless and he had more power within the imperial ranks.

Solo had its own share of excellent characters but Enfys Nest stuck out to me. I loved how the film intertwined her story as a freedom fighter working with and against criminals in order to disrupt the Empire’s routines. Hopefully we’ll get to see the character fleshed out more over the next few years in either a live action film or series or in an animated series.

The Rest Of The Galaxy

  • Kit Fisto
  • Captain Rex
  • Ahsoka Tano
  • Galen Marek
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn
  • Omega Squad

Okay, I might be cheating a bit with this particular list, as Omega Squad is technically five characters, but they are so amazing that they deserve their own spot on this list. For those of you who don’t know, Omega Squad is the creation of Karen Traviss. She wrote the Omega Squad stories based off of the Star Wars: Republic Commando video game. Omega Squad consists of four commandos grouped together who are the only survivors of the previous squads. The original four from the books are Sgt. Niner, Darman, Atin, and Fi. When Fi is thought to be mortally wounded, he is replaced by Corr. If you haven’t checked out Traviss’ Republic Commando novels, I highly recommend them.

Two characters that completely dominated the Clone Wars animated series were Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. These two characters were amazing and are still developing thanks to the continued series on Disney+. Kit Fisto joins them as another favorite from the animated shows. While he was featured in the live action prequel trilogy, his character benefited from some excellent development in the Clone Wars series.

Grand Admiral Thrawn may be best known to fans of Rebels, but older fans like myself remember him best from the Timothy Zahn penned “Thrawn Trilogy” consisting of Heir To The Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. These three stories were a perfect follow up to the original trilogy of films, giving us a glimpse at the new Republic and the removal of the final remnants of the old Empire. Thrawn was an amazing villain and the stories were so popular that, despite being designated as Legends by Disney, Thrawn was one of the characters brought into the new canon.

Last but not least, one of my other favorites is Galen Marek from the video game series, The Force Unleashed. Those games told a story that was just as exciting as the live action films. Finding young Marek, the son of two Jedi, while eliminating Jedi during the Great Purge, Darth Vader takes the boy under his wing and raises him as a lethal apprentice. In the game, the player is forced to choose between the light and dark side of the Force. The story was brilliant and I’m sad to see it removed from the Star Wars canon, but I highly recommend both the game and the novels base upon it that were written by Sean Williams.

Honorable Mentions

  • Rose Tico – Say what you want about the character, I loved Rose. She injected some much needed life into the Disney Trilogy.
  • Commander Cody – Loyal to a fault, Cody was originally my most hated Clone, but as his character developed in the animated series, he became a quick favorite.
  • R2-D2 and C-3PO – The only characters to appear in all of the trilogy films, how can you not love these guys.
  • Young Han and Lando – I loved Solo and thought that it was a victim of the fallout over The Last Jedi. Both of the actors that portrayed these characters, Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover, took two of the most beloved characters in the franchise and delivered great performances as their younger versions.
  • Lando Calrissian – Billy Dee Williams was amazing as Lando. His development from being an untrustworthy scoundrel to a loyal ally of the Rebellion made him a wonderful character.
  • Wedge Antilles – He survived the original trilogy and returned to finish off the Final Order in The Rise of Skywalker. On top of that, the book series Star Wars: X-Wing, written by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston, in which Wedge is the main character, is one of the best Legends series out there.

So, there you have my list of favorites and a few honorable mentions. Thanks for checking it out and……..May The Fourth Be With You!