Jurassic Park Amber Collection: Dr. Ian Malcolm

“I hate being right all the time.”

Few people would argue that Dr. Ian Malcolm is easily the most beloved character in the Jurassic Park film series. He’s so loved in fact, that Mattel decided to release a second version of his Amber Collection figure with just a few minor changes and one additional accessory knowing that it would sell like hotcakes. They are probably right.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on the original figure but I do have an Owen Grady and a Dilophosaurus from the same line and I really liked those figures, so it was a no-brainer for me to snag the second version of Dr. Malcolm. This particular figure appears to be a lot easier to find in stores as I have seen the figure on plenty of shelves and they’ve been there for awhile. That’s actually a good thing in my opinion because it keeps scalpers’ prices low on the original figure. If I’m a collector who purchases figures because I love them and not in order to make a profit, I’ll definitely wait for a second version of a figure to hit shelves so that I can get the figure at a decent price.

The figure is pretty much the same mold as the original figure with two exceptions. Based on what I’ve read, the arms are new molds and have more articulation than the original figure had during its release. The only other difference is the paint application on Dr. Malcolm’s boots, which feature a little bit of mud on them this time around. Also of note is that the amber figure base that came with the first run of Amber Collection figures (something that I really loved) is not included with this or any of the other recent figures in this line.

The figure looks pretty good. The face sculpt and glasses could definitely be better, but I’m okay with what I received. The articulation is excellent and allows for some nice poseability. The figure looks good on my shelf next to Owen and the dilophosaurus. I’m hoping to add the Dr. Ellie Sattler figure to my collection once I can find her in the wild.

The accessories included with the figure are a spare set of hands, the iconic glass of water from the first film, and the flare that Malcolm used to distract the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. All of these accessories came with the original release of the figure. What’s new is the walkie-talkie that Malcolm used to help Dr. Ellie Sattler while he was injured. Just so you know, the glass of water only fits in one of the hands as does the flare.

Is the figure worth purchasing? Absolutely if you’re a fan of the character and/or the franchise and you didn’t get a chance to purchase the original figure. If you do have the original figure, the only thing new here is the aforementioned articulation, paint, and walkie talkie. If you’re happy with your original release, I’d skip this one.

Thanks for checking out my quick review of this figure. My next figure review is a doozy! I hope that you check it out later this week!

Throwback Thursday: National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

“Sorry, folks. The park’s closed.”

Arguably the launching pad for Chevy Chase’s successful cinematic career, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) spawned multiple sequels, introduced us to numerous actors who would go on to bigger things, and became a cornerstone for screwball comedies. The film tells the story of Clark Griswold (Chase) and his family as they drive from Chicago to California in order to enjoy a few days of fun at Walley World, an amusement park based upon the adventures of a lovable moose not unlike Disneyland (the destination of the family in the original script that was scrapped to avoid the fury of the Mouse).

The film wastes no time delivering laughs, as Clark and eldest child Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) go to pick up the family’s new ride at a local car lot. Due to an error by the car dealer (Eugene Levy), the family is saddled with the clunky Wagon Queen Family Truckster, an unreliable behemoth that proves to be pretty tough on multiple occasions throughout the film. Rounding out the family is Clark’s gorgeous wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and their young daughter, Audrey (Dana Barron). The group heads out in the Truckster and experience numerous mishaps on their journey.

At one point in the film, the family meets up with Ellen’s cousins, Eddie and Catherine, and their children. Eddie is played by Randy Quaid and is an iconic character in his own right. He and Catherine (Miriam Flynn) prepare a meal for the Griswolds and let them stay the night. Eddie and Catherine’s oldest daughter, Vicki (played by a young Jane Krakowski), introduces Audrey to marijuana and their son, Dale (John P. Navin, Jr.) teaches Rusty about self love. Before leaving Eddie and Catherine’s home, Eddie springs a surprise on the Griswolds. He tells them that Ellen’s crazy Aunt Edna (the legendary Imogene Coca) will be riding along with them in order to drop her off in Phoenix, AZ.

The family gets in more trouble on their road trip. From getting “shot” by a bartender in Dodge City to losing everything from cash to tires, they get into numerous funny situations. One recurring issue is a mysterious woman in a Ferrari that Clark continues to see on the road. Things come to a head at a hotel one evening when the lady, played by Christie Brinkley, convinces Clark to go skinny dipping with her.

When the family finally arrives at Walley World, the park is closed for repairs. Desperate to have some fun with his family and needing a break from all of the insanity from the road trip, Clark pulls a BB gun on the park’s security guards (John Candy and Frank McRae) and demands that they allow him and his family to have fun. It all leads up to a wacky ending to a wacky film and it’s definitely worth putting on your “must see” list.

While Chase was already an established celebrity thanks to his work on Saturday Night Live and in films like Caddyshack and Foul Play, Vacation opened the door to films such as Fletch, Spies Like Us, and Three Amigos. D’Angelo was already an established actor and even had a Golden Globe nomination under her belt for portraying Patsy Cline in 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, but Vacation launched her into bigger roles in films throughout the 80’s, 90’s and she is still a successful working actor today. Hall went on to star in a string of hit films including Edward Scissorhands, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, The Dark Knight, and the TV series The Dead Zone. Dana Barron went on to have a solid career as a guest star in multiple television shows and is the only Griswold child to reprise her role in more than one Vacation film when she starred in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. The film also starred the aforementioned Coca, Candy, Krakowski, and Levy, and numerous other actors that were either already established or on the cusp of stardom like Brian Doyle-Murray, Mickey Jones, John Diehl, and Eddie Bracken.

In each sequel that followed the original film, only Clark, Ellen, Eddie, and Catherine are portrayed by the same actors. It’s a running gag of the film series that the adults age but the kids always remain young. The film spawned four sequels and one spin-off sequel (the Cousin Eddie film) and has consistently made multiple Top 100 Comedy lists over the years. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

Thanks for taking a trip back in time with me on this post. I’ve had a major crush on Beverly D’Angelo ever since I saw this film and hope to meet her one day. I’d also love to meet any other member of the cast, especially Chevy Chase. See you all again real soon!

Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure: Mr. Hyde!

“Now it’s time for Mister Hyde!”

The Marvel Legends Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings Build-A-Figure line features six pretty good figures. The line includes four figures from the upcoming Shang-Chi film (Shang-Chi, Wenwu, Xialing, Death Dealer), an A.I. Tony Stark, and Civil Warrior from Contest of Champions. Collect all six figures and you get the necessary parts to assemble Mister Hyde.

Since this is the first Build-A-Figure that I’ve ever completed, I don’t have any other figures to compare it to except for the standard Marvel Legends line. In that case, this figure is roughly 1.5″ to 2″ taller than all of the figures in the line needed to assemble it. The parts snapped together with a fair amount of ease although I did have a little trouble getting the right leg to lock into place.

When fully assembled, the figure has articulation similar to other figures in the line. The only gripes that I have about the figure is the wonky right leg and some stiff elbow and knee joints.

The figure itself looks awesome. I love the green suit and red bow tie. I also love Mister Hyde’s cane, which features dents and scratches that make it look like it is battle worn and ready to pound any would-be heroes into a pulp.

I really like this figure. It has some weight to it and it looks great on my shelf at work. I might have to invest in another Build-A-Figure soon if one pops up that catches my interest.

Thanks for reading my post. More fun, including a super special figure review, is coming soon!

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

“I sabotaged your plane.”

2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow didn’t grab my attention when it was first released. I thought that the look of the film in the movie trailer was cool but felt that it was going to be just another “style over substance” flick using CGI, big name actors, and a nostalgic look. I was right. This film was a mess. Parts of it were pure brilliance but the bulk of the movie was a boring, CGI-laden, soft-focused train wreck.

You’d think that a film featuring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Giovanni Ribisi, and Angelina Jolie would have some punch to it, but this film just plodded along from one CGI sequence to the next with a plot that was thinner than most of the serials and pulp novels that the film looked to for inspiration. There was so much potential with this film and it totally missed the mark.

In the film, someone is hunting down scientists who either end up missing or dead as a result of the villain’s actions. Reporter Polly Perkins gets the inside scoop on what’s going down while secretly visiting with one of the scientists who is on the hit list. When a gaggle of giant robots attack New York City, “Sky Captain” Joe Sullivan swoops in to save the day and the girl, Polly. Sky Captain takes one of the robots to his secret base where his tech genius, Dex, manages to discover the location of the villain’s secret lair right before he is captured and taken prisoner by the villain’s mysterious assassin. From that point on, Sky Captain and Polly go on a quest to find the villain and stop his plans to to star a new “world of tomorrow” using his rocket ship loaded with animals and two key vials that he has been trying to track down. Will they stop the evil genius before he destroys humanity? If you can make it through the rest of Sky Captain, you’ll find out!

I really wanted to like this film. It’s based on some of my favorite things, pulp novels, serials, and the Max Fleischer classic Superman cartoons. It even has a number of wonderful Easter eggs for fans of these classic films and books. Despite this, the film just does not connect with me. While I was watching it, all I could see in my mind was director/writer Kerry Conran saying, “Look what I can do!” with each uninspired CGI sequence. To top it all off, Gwyneth Paltrow was horrible in this film. I am assuming that she was trying to emulate classic serial damsels and divas like Louise Currie, Veda Ann Borg, Noel Neill, and Linda Stirling. Instead, she came off as overly annoying with a wooden delivery.

The rest of the cast did a lot better than Paltrow, who portrayed Polly Perkins. Jude Law starred as Joe Sullivan, Giovanni Ribisi had a small but important role as Dex, and Bai Ling did a fine job as the silent assassin billed as the Mysterious Woman. Granted, all she had to do was jump around and fight Jude Law for a bit, but she gave a much better performance than Paltrow. Angelina Jolie’s role as Franky Cook was brief but fun. Also of note is Omid Djalili as Kaji, one of the Sky Captain’s old friends who helps him and Polly.

The majority of the film focuses on the relationship between Sullivan and Polly. Sadly this meant that the strongest and weakest performances in the film were front and center at all times.

I always try to be positive about the films that I view, but Sky Captain was just too bad for me to really enjoy. It’s too slick to be nostalgic like the old serials that it hopes to be like and too boring to hold my interest. Couple that with the worst performance that I’ve ever witnessed by Gwyneth Paltrow and I have to say skipping this film isn’t a bad idea. I wanted it to be good, but it fails on too many levels for me to recommend it. Instead, check out the Blackhawk serial or King of the Rocket Men. Both are superior to Sky Captain. If you’re looking for something more recent to watch, check out the tried and true The Rocketeer.

I know that many fans of the old serials loved Sky Captain, but it’s just not for me. I will admit that I enjoyed some of the humor in the film and the cast outside of Paltrow was solid, but that wasn’t enough to win me over. Thanks for reading my post. I have three special posts coming up next week!

Tunes: The Karate Kid Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1984)

“Sweep the leg.”

Thanks to the highly successful Cobrai Kai series that is currently being produced by Netflix (originally available on YouTube Red), interest in the classic The Karate Kid films has experienced a resurgence. Youngsters want to see the original film and its sequels in order to get a deeper look at the backstory involving Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. Older folks such as myself that were around for the theatrical releases of these films are hopping on the nostalgia train and reliving their favorite moments about the films.

For me, the music was just as memorable as the original film and I decided to revisit the original film soundtrack. After listening to it I’ve learned that the music actually loses a bit of its luster without the visuals to go along with each song. For instance, the biggest track on the album is probably You’re The Best by Joe Esposito. Played during the epic battles at the tournament that lead up to Daniel and Johnny’s final fight, the song comes off a bit cheesy until it hits the chorus. Whereas most songs actually make a scene better, in the case of You’re The Best, the scene actually helps improve the song.

Survivor is probably the biggest name on the album (although an argument can be made for Jan & Dean) and they had a modest hit with The Moment Of Truth. The song is very similar to many of Survivor’s other early 80’s tunes that spent weeks and months on the charts. It’s nothing new to fans of the band but it holds up pretty well even today.

My favorite song on the album is Young Hearts by Commuter. It can be heard during the “Golf N’ Stuff” sequence in the original film and in a similar sequence at the same arcade in Cobra Kai. This song really hits me every time I hear it. The lyrics are a bit all over the place to be honest, but it’s just a cool sounding song.

Outside of Survivor, the only other band that most casual music fans will recognize is Jan & Dean. They perform (Bop Bop) On The Beach with the Flirts. If it sounds a lot like something that the Beach Boys would sing to you, you’re not entirely wrong. Jan & Dean are often compared to the Beach Boys because of their sound and Mike Love, one of the Beach Boys, actually wrote the track. It’s a good song and probably the most “alien” track on the album. It sounds like nothing else on the playlist and that’s refreshing in my opinion.

The rest of the album features a lot of bands that sort of sound like mainstream pop and new wave bands of the early 1980’s. It Takes Two To Tango by Paul Davis sounds a lot like something that Hall & Oates would have performed. No Shelter by Broken Edge sounds exactly like a Cars tune. Tough Love by Shandi could easily have been performed by someone like Olivia Newton-John. Feel The Night by Baxter Robinson could have landed on just about any early 80’s pop rock band’s playlist, especially artists like Night Ranger or Rick Springfield. Desire by Gang of Four and Rhythm Man by St. Regis sounded like tracks released by many new wave artists like Thomas Dolby.

As is sometimes the case, a few songs were left off of the album that appeared in the film. The biggest track left off of this particular album was Cruel Summer by Bananarama. It would go on to be one of the biggest hits the group ever released. If you want a copy of it for yourself, however, you won’t find it on this album.

Ultimately this album does a decent job of holding up despite being a product of its time. I still love listening to the songs even though some of them are a lot cheesier than I remember. Thanks for checking out my post and revisiting a classic album with me. I hope to do a few more posts like this in the near future.

Marvel Legends Series: Death Dealer

Who is the mysterious Death Dealer?

Marvel has definitely stirred up quite a bit of interest in its upcoming film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, by injecting the mysterious Death Dealer into the film’s first full-length trailer. Not only does the character look awesome, we also get to see how the Death Dealer has apparently been a part of Shang-Chi’s life for a long time. In the comics, the character only had a short run in Master of Kung Fu (1982). Known as Li Ching-Lin, the character was an MI6 agent and worked for Fu Manchu, the father of Shang-Chi. If you’ve seen the trailer, you already know that Wenwu is Shang-Chi’s father in the film and he’s also the Mandarin, so that makes the Death Dealer even more mysterious. With his predominantly deep blue costume, Kabuki-styled mask (yes, I know Kabuki is Japanese), ponytail, and throwing knives in tow, I have a feeling that Death Dealer might just become the Boba Fett of the MCU.

Ultimately the Death Dealer’s role doesn’t matter even if he turns out to be a chump in the film, because he’s definitely the coolest figure in the Mr. Hyde Build-A-Figure line. The detail on this figure is awesome. The amazing mask has eyes that are piercing. The detail work on the arm guards is on point, especially the tassels at the elbow. There are also great details on the boots, belt, and robe. This figure just looks great.

As amazing as this figure looks, there is one slight problem with it. While the robe doesn’t hinder the poseability of the Death Dealer as much as the Wenwu figure in this line, it does limit posing somewhat. That doesn’t bother me very much but I felt the need to mention this one slight issue with the figure.

The accessories for the Death Dealer include the left arm of Mr. Hyde and a pair of “action” hands. One hand is featured throwing two knives and the other hand features a knife about to be thrown. While these don’t seem like very many accessories, they are definitely the best looking ones in this line. Plus, I’ve come to expect a lack of accessories in the Marvel Legends series as a whole. It’s probably my biggest gripe with the entire line of figures from Hasbro.

If I was only going to buy one figure in the Mr. Hyde/Shang-Chi line, Death Dealer would be the figure that I would purchase. Wonderful coloring, excellent accessories, and an overall awesome look sets this figure apart from the rest of the line. I can look beyond the posing issues with this figure because it just looks great. I highly recommend this figure.

With the acquisition of Death Dealer, I have all of the necessary components to build Mr. Hyde. Be on the lookout for a review of that figure very soon. Thank you for checking out my post. Let me know in the comments if you are collecting any figures from any line by Hasbro. I’d love to hear your opinion on them. I’d also appreciate any ideas for future posts. Don’t forget to share any of my posts that you like and let your friends know about my blog!

Classic Horror: The Vampire (1957)

“I got plenty of reasons, Willy. Three deaths in three days.”

With the rise of the Atomic Age in the 1940’s, classic monsters such as vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster gave way to giant monster films such as Godzilla, Them, The Blob, and Robot Monster in the 1950’s. The 50’s also gave us sci-fi horror films about experiments gone wrong, man meddling with nature, and more. Hoping to breathe new life into the fading traditional monsters, United Artists gave us 1957’s The Vampire. The film puts a sci-fi spin on the classic vampire tale and the results are actually quite nice.

The film tells the story of Paul Beecher, a kindly town doctor who serves his community and is trusted by everyone. When a local scientist, Dr. Campbell, falls ill, Dr. Beecher visits him at his lab to help him. Beecher is too late and Campbell passes away. Before dying, Campbell tells Beecher about an experimental drug that he has developed through his research. When Beecher gets a migraine later that day, his daughter, Betsy, erroneously gives him one of the experimental pills. It triggers animal-like desires in Beecher and he begins to hunt down victims in the night.

Beecher blacks out every evening and cannot remember committing the murders but as the body count rises, he becomes desperate to stop himself. Does he succeed in fighting off his need for the highly addictive drugs? Are his cravings for blood sated? You’ll have to watch The Vampire to find out!

The film blends Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde‘s morality tale with the neck-biting modus operandi of Dracula. The make-up effects are pretty good, especially for a 1950’s flick. The film’s cast includes John Beal as Dr. Beecher, Coleen Gray as Nurse Butler, Lydia Reed as Dr. Beecher’s daughter, Betsy, and James Griffith as the enigmatic Henry Winston.

Sharp-eyed fans will recognize Dabbs Greer as Dr. Will Beaumont, a colleague of Dr. Beecher who attempts to save Beecher’s life. Greer is perhaps best known for his role as Reverend Alden in Little House On The Prairie or from his many guest appearances in series such as The Rifleman, The Brady Bunch, and even Lizzie McGuire, which was his last screen performance. Also of note is the performance of Kenneth Tobey (above, right) who plays Sheriff Buckley in the film. Tobey was a prominent actor in 50’s horror and sci-fi films such as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and The Thing From Another World.

The film stands out for its attempt to blend science with traditional horror. While it wasn’t the first film to do this, it is definitely one of the better ones. I honestly didn’t expect much out of this film but it was a nice surprise that I happened to catch on Tubi. I definitely recommend it to anybody that enjoys classic sci-fi horror from the 1950’s.

Thanks for checking out my post. The Vampire really was a nice surprise that up until this weekend I didn’t even know existed. Give it a shot if you can and keep an eye out for more reviews coming soon!

Marvel Legends Series: Wenwu

Will the real Mandarin please stand up?

Apparently Wenwu will be revealed as the real Mandarin in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings film. Marvel has teased us with Mandarin hints, winks, and nods across all of the MCU so far, so it will be interesting to see if we finally get the real deal in the new film. In any case, I’m excited to see this film. It’s the first Marvel movie that I’m actually eager to see in a long time. Tony Leung will portray Wenwu/Mandarin in the movie.

Of all of the figures in Marvel’s Mr. Hyde Build-A-Figure set, Wenwu is the most disappointing. I’m not complaining about the look of the figure. He actually looks pretty awesome. I’m disappointed with the figure’s articulation. He features all of the same articulation as the other figures in this line, but due to his robe, armor, skirt, or whatever the proper name is for it, he lacks major mobility.

The figure is severely limited as far as posing his legs is concerned and it’s really sad because the figure looks great otherwise. The attention to detail is very nice. I’m especially fond of the buckle on his belt and the design of his armor. The paint apps look great for the most part, although the ten rings that are on Wenwu’s arms didn’t seem to receive as much attention as the rest of the figure.

As far as accessories are concerned, Wenwu comes with two extra pairs of hands, a handheld weapon, and Mr. Hyde’s right arm and walking cane. The handheld weapon is difficult to get into Wenwu’s hands, so I prefer to display the figure without it. Hyde’s cane and arm look awesome and I can’t wait to take a closer look at that figure once I’ve collected all of the pieces.

Reviewing this figure hurts, as I really like his look overall but hate the fact that the articulation is hindered so much that Wenwu is limited to standing poses with his arms in a defensive position. I really wish that soft goods had been used as part of the robe to allow more poseability.

I have one more figure to review in this line before I get to the big baddie, Mr. Hyde. Keep an eye out for an upcoming Death Dealer review as he’s the last figure that I have to get my hands on in order to complete my first Build-A-Figure! I do recommend grabbing Wenwu as he is a pretty awesome looking figure. Don’t plan on posing him very much, however.

Thanks for checking out my review. I plan on reviewing some classic horror very soon, so keep an ear to the rail for that one! See you all very soon!