The Year Of KISS: Creatures Of The Night (1982)

“Get me out of this rock and roll hell…..”

With their popularity spiraling downward at an uncomfortably fast rate, KISS stumbled into a shaky 1982. Ace Frehley’s days in the band were numbered. His battles with alcoholism and drug dependency at the time are well documented in his book, No Regrets, as well as the books of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Frehley’s vices were taking control and he was about to officially exit the band. Couple that with the fact that KISS’ last three studio albums were disco, pop rock, and KISS at the RenFair, respectively, the band’s fans were exiting quickly. Something needed to be done.

That something was 1982’s Creatures of the Night.

The album brought hairy-fisted rock back to a KISS album for the first time since the band’s heyday with albums like Love Gun and Rock And Roll Over. Riding on the shoulders of Eric Carr’s blistering drum work, the album is almost entirely hard rock and heavy metal with only a slight break with the power ballad, I Still Love You. A rotating cast of guitarists brought other rock elements into the album as well. Vinnie Vincent, Steve Farris, and Robben Ford all took turns at lead guitar on the album despite Ace Frehley’s face appearing on the cover. Other performers were brought in as well and despite this, the album’s sound is fluid, hard, fast, and amazing.

The album’s cover is arguably one of the best covers that the band ever released. The piercing, glowing eyes of Simmons, Carr, Stanley, and Frehley set on a dark blue and black backdrop grab your attention. The pink lettering sticks out as well. It’s one of my favorite covers of all time.

Frehley’s drug and alcohol issues essentially cost him his spot in the band. After just a few promotional appearances and appearing in the video for I Love It Loud, Frehley exited or was fired from the band (depending on who you ask) and was replaced by Vinnie Vincent. Vincent took on the persona of the Ankh Warrior. Vincent recorded lead guitars for more songs (six) on Creatures than any other guitarist and co-wrote three of the album’s tracks including its most recognized and only charting single, I Love It Loud. Vincent would become an enigma for both the band and its fans over the coming years, and I’ll cover those years in later posts.

The album received great reviews and was considered by many critics of the time to be one of the best KISS albums ever released. Despite this, fans didn’t show up to purchase the album and it struggled to find an audience. The album managed to crawl up to #45 on the US Billboard 200 charts. It fared much better internationally, peaking at #22 in both Sweden and the United Kingdom. Three singles were released, the title track, I Love It Loud, and Killer. Only I Love It Loud charted, reaching #34 on the UK Singles Chart. That track and War Machine have been played live on multiple tours. Both of them appear on the current End Of The Road tour.

Track Listing:

  1. Creatures Of The Night (Single)
  2. Killer (Single)
  3. Keep Me Comin’
  4. Rock And Roll Hell
  5. Danger
  6. I Love It Loud (Single)
  7. I Still Love You
  8. Saint And Sinner
  9. War Machine

Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitars), Eric Carr (backing vocals, drums), Gene Simmons (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitars, bass), Ace Frehley (listed as a contributor but did not perform on the album), Vinnie Vincent (all lead guitars except where noted), Robben Ford (lead guitars on Rock And Roll Hell and I Still Love You), Steve Farris (lead guitars on Creatures of the Night), Jimmy Haslip and Mark Porcaro (additional bass), Adam Mitchell (additional guitars)

This album is amazing. It’s one of my favorite KISS albums and one that I constantly put on repeat. Every single song on this album is great, even I Still Love You, which is my least favorite ballad by the band. No matter who is playing the lead guitar, I love the solos. If forced to pick one, I’d have to go with Farris’ solo on Creatures of the Night as my favorite solo on the album. While it isn’t the fastest or most intricate solo on the album, it just speaks to me. I’m also very fond of Vincent’s solo on Saint And Sinner.

The album features only Simmons and Stanley on lead vocals. Of the two, Gene Simmons really shines. While Paul definitely does a great job and works his vocal gymnastics on songs like I Still Love You, it’s Gene’s gritty return to the demonic sound that he retched out with each note on earlier albums that captivates me on this record. He does an amazing job on I Love It Loud, Saint And Sinner, War Machine, and Rock And Roll Hell. He rediscovered his inner monster on this album and it really makes him stand out on this record. Unfortunately, that demonic sound will take a backseat to Paul’s vocals throughout the rest of the 80’s. A harbinger of this sound can be found on Keep Me Comin’ which, in my opinion, sounds like a lot of the songs that KISS recorded during the no makeup era.

Of all of the tracks on the album, my favorites are I Love It Loud, Saint And Sinner, War Machine, Rock And Roll Hell, and Creatures Of The Night. If I’m truly honest, though, I can’t pick just one as my favorite. This album doesn’t have one bad track on it. Everyone that played on this album did a great job. Carr’s drums are of special note. I recommend reading this article to get an idea of how Carr’s drums were recorded to get the blistering sound that you hear on the album.

As the years have gone by, fans old and new alike have revisited or rediscovered Creatures of the Night and it has finally taken its rightful place as one of the band’s most loved albums. It didn’t reach gold status in the United States until 1994. It deserved and still deserves more attention. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my go-to albums whenever I meet someone curious about my fascination with KISS.

Thanks for checking out my review. For June and July I’ll be taking a Summer Solo Break. During those two months I will be taking a look at the original members’ four solo albums released in 1978. In August I’ll begin my journey through the No Makeup era albums and the eventual reunion album, Psycho Circus, and the band’s final studio albums featuring the group’s current lineup. See you next month!

Fisher-Price DC League Of Super-Pets Figure Packs

“Look! Up in the sky!

The promotional push for Warner Bros. and DC’s upcoming League Of Super-Pets film is well underway. The film’s trailer has been out for quite awhile and toys have been showing up in Happy Meals at McDonald’s and on store shelves. I am fortunate enough to have acquired two of the Fisher-Price figure packs to review. I received the League Of Super-Pets Figure Multi-Pack and the Batman & Ace Figure Pack.

Both sets are pretty cool. They are obviously targeted at younger children, so I’m not going to be too harsh with my review. I’m simply going to give a general overview of both sets and mention a few things that parents, younger children, and collectors might find informative.

The multi-pack set features six figures and a block of red kryptonite. The included figures are Krypto (Superman’s dog), Ace (Batman’s dog, not to be confused with Titus), PB (Wonder Woman’s wonder pig), Chip the Squirrel (based off of Ch’p, a member of the Green Lantern Corps), and two guinea pigs which, at least to my knowledge, are new characters. One is Pigasus, the flying guinea pig and the other one is Lulu, the villainous guinea pig.

The figures look great. Only Ace and Krypto feature articulation. The points of articulation are limited to five points on each figure (swivel neck, shoulders, and hips). The rest of the figures are stationary. Chip is a bit awkward to stand up on his own without leaning him against something. His tail makes him want to lean back and eventually fall over at times.

Collectors will probably only be interested in the Ace and Krypto figures. Chip is my favorite out of the rest of the figures, probably because I’m familiar with Ch’p from the comics. PB is pretty cool looking but nothing too impressive. The guinea pigs seem to almost be afterthoughts, especially Pigasus, who looks like one of those cheap Dollar Tree statuettes. I’m positive that younger kids will enjoy this set. Again, Krypto and Ace will probably garner the most attention from kids and the other figures will probably end up at the bottom of the toy box.

The Batman & Ace set is similar to the figure multi-pack. In fact, the Ace figure in this set is the exact same one featured in the multi-pack. There is also a Superman & Krypto set available and it features the same Krypto as the multi-pack. For the Batman set, both Batman and Ace feature the same points of articulation (head, hips, and shoulders). The only exception is Batman’s right shoulder which is spring-loaded. It’s like this in order to use the “throwing” action that allows Batman to throw his grappling hook. Even for a preschooler’s toys this feature is lame. Batman’s arm is extremely limited in its motion. Simply lift up the arm and let it go while Batman is holding the grappling cord to throw the hook. It’s downright ridiculous.

Are these sets worth collecting? Only for Krypto and Ace in my opinion. The other figures (including Batman) are okay, but I’m not a huge fan of these particular figures outside of Chip. If you’re buying this for your kid, definitely pick up the multi-pack. You can also purchase the Batman & Ace or Superman & Krypto individual sets or pick up the Superhero Gift Set that features all four of the figures together. The reason that I recommend picking up the gift set is because Krypto and Ace feature different molds and have their own throwing features. That way you can get two different versions of those figures and the two heroes as well. I’ve only been able to find it online on the Fisher-Price website. Based on a little internet research, there is also a Wonder Woman & PB figure set as well.

Thanks for checking out this quick review. I’m ready to see League of Super-Pets in the theater and will most likely review it as well. Let me know if you pick up any of these figure sets and whether or not you enjoy them! See you again soon!

The Year Of KISS: Music From The Elder (1981)

“I believe in me.”

Fans of KISS in the United States felt alienated by the band at the beginning of the 1980’s. Thanks to the pop direction that 1979’s Dynasty and 1980’s Unmasked took, listeners accustomed to a harder sound from the group longed for an album that returned to the band’s hard rock roots. Hoping to regain those fans, KISS promised to release a new album in 1981 with a much harder sound, stripping away the pop influence that dominated their last two releases. After thinking a bit more about the situation (and with influence from Bill Aucoin), however, the band decided to make a bold move and released a concept album instead. In November of 1981, Music From “The Elder” was released. It was ill received by fans despite decent reviews and was the first album that KISS did not support with a tour. They only made a few promotional appearances. It also marked the beginning of the end of Ace Frehley’s time with the band.

The album is quite possibly KISS’ most disliked release. That’s a bit of a shocker considering the fact that Bob Ezrin, producer of KISS’ Destroyer and albums for bands such as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper, was at the helm of production for the album. It was much harder than both Dynasty and Unmasked overall, but it also featured orchestral arrangements, minimal input from Ace Frehley, and a bungled track order on the original release.

The concept of the album was based upon a fantasy/science fiction short story idea that Gene Simmons developed. The album was then written and recorded as a soundtrack for the story. There have been rumors over the years of a film being made to accompany the soundtrack but nothing has ever come to fruition. In the story, a young man is recruited by the Council of the Elders, an entity dedicated to saving worlds from evil, to be their hero in a battle against evil in the boy’s world. It’s a bit flimsy if you ask me, but I could definitely see this story playing out fairly well if the story was fleshed out a bit.

L to R: Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Carr, and Ace Frehley.

The band’s image was dramatically changed for the album and promotional appearances. Following the puffy capes, mirrored vests, and flashy costumes of the Dynasty/Unmasked era, the band revealed a much sleeker, toned down, black-and-white look (save for Paul’s atrocious purple headband). The band also cut their hair much shorter than fans were used to seeing. I’m personally not a fan of this look overall but I always loved Ace’s costume from this era. It was a very cool look in my opinion.

The album performed poorly overall. It topped out at #75 on the US Billboard 200 but did manage to break the Top Ten lists in Germany and Norway. It peaked at #11 in Australia. Two singles were released. I was released internationally, finding its greatest success in Australia at #24 on the charts. A World Without Heroes was released both in the United States and internationally but only managed to reach #55 in the United Kingdom and #56 in the United States. The album featured twelve tracks (although one could argue that the instrumental bookends, Fanfare and Finale, don’t really count) and the song order was intentionally switched on releases in the United States, Europe, and Brazil in the hopes that fans would focus their attention on potential singles.

Track Listing (original 1981 United States release order)

  1. The Oath
  2. Fanfare
  3. Just A Boy
  4. Dark Light
  5. Only You
  6. Under The Rose
  7. A World Without Heroes (Single)
  8. Mr. Blackwell
  9. Escape From The Island
  10. Odyssey
  11. I (single outside of the United States)
  12. Finale

Personnel: (for simplicity’s sake, this is just a general listing of contributions from each individual) Paul Stanley (lead and backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitars), Ace Frehley (lead guitars, lead and backing vocals), Eric Carr (backing vocals, drums, percussion, acoustic guitar), Gene Simmons (bass, lead and backing vocals), Bob Ezrin (keyboards, orchestral arrangements), Michael Kamen (orchestral arrangements), Tony Powers (keyboards), Allan Schwartzburg (drums on Odyssey and I), St. Robert’s Choir (vocals), the American Symphony Orchestra (strings, horns, etc.).

While this album is definitely unique when compared to the rest of KISS’ albums produced before and after it, I have to admit that it’s not as terrible as many people claim. It has quite a few surprisingly heavy tracks including Dark Light, Only You, and the very classic Black Sabbath-sounding Under The Rose. Gene has the best vocal performances overall with Mr. Blackwell, A World Without Heroes, Under The Rose, and Only You, in my opinion. His plodding bass throughout the album is also amazing. Paul’s voice sounds great, especially on I and The Oath. He really shows his range on this album, blasting out with a full falsetto on tracks like I’m Just A Boy and sounding reminiscent of Christian rockers Petra’s first lead singer, Greg X. Volz, on Odyssey. That being said, Stanley’s songs are my least favorites on this album. Ace Frehley penned and performed my favorite track on the album, Dark Light, which also features one of my favorite solos by him. Carr’s drums are great, but he’ll really shine on KISS’ next release.

Japanese Cover.

I can’t tell anyone to go out and buy this album without warning them that this is not a “real” KISS album when compared to their other releases. It’s unique, was a massive risk that unfortunately failed for the band, and is probably not the ideal album to use when introducing potential new fans to the group. I appreciate it for what it is and as I listen to it more often, I’ve become more and more fond of certain tracks.

Thanks for checking out my review. Say what you want about KISS, but they deserve credit for really stepping out of their comfort zone with Music From The Elder. As a concept album, it’s not half bad. As a KISS album, it’s an anomaly that deserves a listen.

Firestarter (2022)

A slow burner that ultimately flames out

Heads up, folks. I’m going to be making a lot of bad fire related puns in this review but I won’t spoil the film.

Yesterday I visited the original Firestarter film from 1984. You can check out my thoughts on that film if you’d like in this post. Put briefly, I enjoyed the film but wasn’t really impressed by it in any way shape or form. I watched it in order to prepare myself for the 2022 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel from 1980. After watching the 2022 version, I’m left with many of the same feelings for it that I had with the original.

In 2022’s Firestarter, Zac Efron takes on the role of Andy McGee and Ryan Kiera Armstrong portrays his daughter, Charlie. Both of them have amazing powers. Andy can “push” people mentally to make them believe and/or do whatever he wishes. Charlie has the power of pyrokinesis. She can set things on fire with her mind. She also has a combination of her father and mother’s abilities. Sydney Lemmon plays Charlie’s mom, Vicky McGee, who can move things with her mind, communicate telepathically, and has premonition abilities as well.

Andy and Vicky have been successfully hiding from “The Shop,” a government agency that ran tests on the couple as college students that resulted in them gaining their powers, for over a decade. When Charlie was born, agents for The Shop attempted to kidnap her so that she could be studied and, ultimately, weaponized. The McGees managed to get away and have been on the run ever since that time. As Charlie has grown older, her powers have increased and she finds it harder to control or suppress them. When she has an explosive accident at school, The Shop goes back on the hunt by bringing in an assassin named John Rainbird to eliminate the McGee adults and collect Charlie for the agency.

The original film focused primarily on the hunt for Charlie and Andy. It dismissed the character of Vicky early in the movie. Firestarter 2022 takes about an hour to establish the McGee family situation and to build up Andy, Vicky, and Charlie as characters. It’s a slow burner that simmers throughout the first hour and then heats up quickly once John Rainbird catches up to Andy and Charlie. Rainbird is a strange anomaly in this film, as his character arc takes a unique turn compared to what he did in both the original film and the novel. I won’t spoil what happens, but I didn’t really care for what his character ends up doing in the film. It’s kind of aggravating for me because I really like how sinister and cold Rainbird is for almost all of the movie.

The original film felt more like a science fiction adventure than a horror film in my opinion. The 2022 film turns up the heat on the horror. Charlie seems to enjoy burning things at times, even prior to the film’s climax. She also throws in a few line of dialogue that let you know that she’s not necessarily a fan of her daddy at times. She’s calculating and downright wicked at times as well. This makes her seem like much more of a threat than innocent little Drew Barrymore came across in the original film.

The film isn’t terrible, but it’s nothing special either. For a film about a kid that can make fire with her mind, the cinematography is decidedly dull and dark. Many scenes were extremely dark, possibly to hide any shortcomings of the CGI used in the film even though I thought that the CGI was done extremely well. Also, I’m okay with director Keith Thomas focusing on the family unit for the first hour of the film but I really wish that he hadn’t rushed the final half hour in order to end it all with a long and laborious climax. I wanted more of the chase, more development of Rainbird and blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Dr. Wanless (Kurtwood Smith). Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben) talked a good game but she wasn’t in the film long enough for me to care about her. The whole film just feels to rushed and too slow all at once. I willsay that the film’s score, done by legendary horror icon John Carpenter, his son, Cody, and Daniel Davies, is excellent. l might try to pick up a copy of it for myself.

As far as the cast is concerned, it’s a complete 180 from the original film. Where the first film had a nice litany of great actors, the acting overall was subpar. The 2022 film has lesser known actors in most of the roles but all of them turn in stellar performances. As already mentioned, Armstrong walks a fine line between innocent and sinister as Charlie. Michael Greyeyes, the first actual Indigenous actor to portray Rainbird, who is Cherokee in the book, knocks it out of the park. His performance was great, Kurtwood Smith wasn’t in the film long enough to do much and Gloria Reubens was a tad over the top as Captain Hollister. Sydney Lemmon did a great job as Vicky. Zac Efron, the only “major” star in the film, did a great job as Andy, Charlie’s overly cautious father who often finds himself at odds with both Vicky and Charlie. Efron continues to impress me with his versatility as an actor,

So is it worth checking out? If you have the Peacock streaming service, yes, it is. I recommend watching it on the streamer. I don’t know if I would plunk down any hard earned money to see it in a theater, though, as it comes across as more of a well done, nicely budgeted made-for-TV film than a major motion picture. It’s okay, but much like its predecessor, it’s nothing amazing.

Thanks for burning a little of your time with me by reading my post. See you again soon!

Throwback Thursday: Firestarter (1984)

“I’ll burn you up! I’ll fry you!”

I was a child way back in May of 1984 and the PG-13 rating was was just a few months away from making its debut with the film Red Dawn. Had Firestarter been released in August instead of May of that year, it quite possibly could have received the first PG-13 rating. Instead, it was given an R rating and somehow my parents still allowed me to watch it. I remember enjoying it. I remember feeling sad for Drew Barrymore’s character. I also have very vivid memories of the standoff scene at a friendly farmer’s home where Drew lights up a bunch of nasty government agents. This film stuck with me over the years, and with Blumhouse releasing a new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel on May 13, I decided to revisit the original film adaptation before diving into the new one.

I found out that I had forgotten more about the film than I remembered. I forgot how the cast was loaded from the top to the bottom with great actors including George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Heather Locklear, and Art Carney. I also forgot that despite the cast, some of the performances were subpar. I also forgot how cheesy the fireballs looked in the film’s climax. I also didn’t have the same feelings about the relationship between Drew Barrymore’s Charlie McGee and David Keith’s Andy McGee. I definitely forgot the very pedophilia-like vibe that George C. Scott’s Rainbird gave off when he first described how “attractive and young” Charlie was in his eyes.

Despite these facts, I still really enjoyed this film. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a brief rundown: Andy McGee and his daughter, Charlie, are on the run from “The Shop,” a government program that’s in the business of underhanded experimentation on humans. Andy has the ability to influence minds. His wife, Vicky, had similar powers. Both of them were products of the Shop and after falling in love, they married and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has the power of pyrokinesis. She can create, control, and emit fire. When the Shop shows up to collect Charlie in order to weaponize her, they kill Vicky. Andy catches up to the agents, blinds them with his mind, and then he and Charlie go on the run. Along the way they run into a friendly farming couple named Irv and Norma. They have another standoff with the Shop agents (the one I have vivid memories of from my youth), and continue running. Eventually the Shop catches them and separates them. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what happens next.

The film is considered by many to be one of the most loyal adaptations of a King story. Andy’s part of the tale is cut out almost completely, but we get to see Charlie’s full story. As a kid I felt that the relationship between Andy and Charlie was very strong, but it doesn’t hold up as well for me as an adult. It’s more like a big brother/little sister relationship. Andy and Vicky’s whirlwind love story is glazed over and we really don’t get to see much of Heather Locklear at all in the film. The special effects are pretty hokey but they don’t deter from the movie as a whole. George C. Scott is a bit underwhelming and pervy as Rainbird. Martin Sheen doesn’t have much to do but he is a key player in the film’s climax. Overall, David Keith and Drew Barrymore give the strongest performances, especially Keith. He looks worn out and tired of running the entire time. He also looks very vulnerable whenever he tells Irv (Art Carney) the truth about his situation.

Firestarter isn’t my favorite Stephen King film adaptation. It has a few slow moments, awkward pacing, and one casting misfire (Scott), but the individual performances of Keith and Barrymore are solid even though their father/daughter relationship doesn’t quite mesh.

The new Firestarter film is supposedly even more loyal to the book than this version, so I’m hoping that it turns out to be a good film. I’m also hoping that we get a cameo from one of the 1984 cast in the new film. I plan on reviewing it after seeing it this weekend.

Thanks for taking a trip back in time with me. Let me know your feelings about Firestarter in the comments. Also feel free to let me know if there are any films out there that you’d like me to revisit on Throwback Thursday.

Throwback Thursday: The Librarian: Quest For The Spear (2004)

Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger star as Flynn and Nicole.

Cable network TNT has been cranking out original films since 1989 when it released Nightbreaker starring father/son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The company has produced one hundred plus original films. Some of their most successful releases have been science fiction and adventure films. One film stands out above the rest of them, however, and that would be 2004’s The Librarian: Quest For The Spear. Despite an overall light atmosphere and questionable CGI, the film started a franchise that would include two sequels and a popular television series as well as comics and tie-in novels.

The Library.

In the film, perpetual student and all-around annoyingly intelligent nerd Flynn Carsen is forced out of college life by one of his professors in order for him to “see the world.” Upset that he can’t enroll for more classes for six months, Flynn heads home to his mother who has attempted yet again to set him up with a young lady. When that meeting goes south, Flynn heads to his room full of books in order to be miserable. His mother slips the mail onto a bookshelf for him. After stumbling over, a letter falls on him that invites him to the Metropolitan Public Library to interview for a position.

Flynn and his mother.

At the library, Flynn is chosen to be a Librarian, a member of a secret society that protects ancient artifacts, historically important items, and a number of legendary items that are real. Some of the items that Flynn is now responsible for include a unicorn, the Holy Grail, a jet pack, and the real Mona Lisa. Flynn is told about some of the other librarians that protected the items before him including the recently deceased Wilde.

Charlene and Judson.

Things go sideways when a secret group known as the Serpent Brotherhood sneak into the library on Flynn’s first night and steal a piece of the Spear of Destiny, the spear that pierced Jesus’ side while he was on the cross. Flynn is then sent on a mission to recover not only the stolen piece, but the two other pieces that are hidden across the world. High adventure sets in as Flynn travels from the library to the Amazonian Rain Forest where he teams up with one of the Guardians, protectors of the Librarians, named Nicole. The duo run from the Serpent Brotherhood, receive help from a local tribe, and eventually find the second piece of the spear only to learn that the previous Librarian, Wilde, is alive and well and part of the Serpent Brotherhood. He plans on uniting all three pieces of the spear in order to take control of the world. To find the third piece, however, he needs Flynn to translate a book written in the “Language of the Birds” to find the third piece. This leads the group to Shangri-La. Does Flynn save the day? I won’t spoil that part of the film for you. You’ll need to check it out for yourself.

The gang’s all here in Shangri-La.

The film has an amazing cast. Noah Wyle, one of the biggest stars on the long-running ER series, heads up the cast as Flynn. He portrays the character with awkward perfection. Wyle would go on to appear in the successful series Falling Skies after leaving ER and would also appear in both of the Librarian sequels and its television series spinoff. Wyle was nominated for the Saturn award for Best Actor in all three of his Librarian films and for Falling Skies. Nicole is played by the breathtakingly gorgeous Sonya Walger, no slouch on the screen herself, as she would go on to star in Lost, the very controversial Tell Me You Love Me, FlashForward, and For All Mankind. Kyle MacLachlan plays the wicked Wilde in the film. He’s probably best known for his work in Twin Peaks, Dune (1984), and Blue Velvet. For every lovely heroine there has to be a dastardly diva and Kelly Hu fits that perfectly as one of Wilde’s sidekicks, Lana. Hu has starred or co-starred in a number of television series and highly successful films over the years including Sunset Beach, X2, Warehouse 13, Hawaii 5-0, and The Scorpion King. Three legends round out the cast in supporting roles. Olympia Dukakis portrays Flynn’s mother and Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart portray Charlene and Judson, the administrator of the Library and a former Librarian that guides Flynn.

Lana gives a sheepish grin to Flynn. Despite being enemies she is a “fan of his work.”

This is a really fun, light adventure film. It’s somewhat of a mixture of the Indiana Jones films, The Mummy films featuring Brendan Fraser, and pretty much every cliched jungle adventure that has been produced over the years. The film knows this, however, and happily plays through its sequences knowing that it’s meant for nothing more than entertainment. Apparently it worked, based upon the film’s success and the success of its sequels and TV series spin-off.

A scaled down version of one of the Egyptian pyramids which ultimately plays an important role in the film.

There are hints of John Williams all over the place in Joseph LoDuca’s score. Known for his work in shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Spartacus, it should come as no surprise that he knows how to work his music into adventure stories. CGI was still fairly new in 2004. Its limitations are quite noticeable in this film but it doesn’t distract the viewer as much as you’d think.

Wilde and Lana size up the new Librarian and his Guardian.

It’s fun. That’s really all that I need to say about this film. It’s light, imperfect, and exactly what a made-for-TV movie should be but with a slightly larger budget. It has a great cast, fun cliffhanger moments, and knows its audience. If you have never watched The Librarian: Quest For The Spear before, give it a look. You won’t regret it. I’ll also be reviewing the other films in this series in the near future. All three of them are available on the free streamer Tubi and also on Blu-ray/DVD. The television series is available on a few different subscription services. Peacock also carries all three of the films.

Thanks for checking out my post.

Dollar Tree Finds

Cheap Thrills, Cheap Collectables

Dollar Tree is well known for their one buck (now a buck twenty-five) toys that will appease kids for a few minutes, but do they have anything worth nabbing for collectors? On a recent trip to one of my local Dollar Tree stores I managed to find quite a few cool mini figures to add to my collection. They are far from perfect, but they are the perfect way to express your fandom without breaking the bank.

There are a ton of mini figures available at Dollar Tree and the lineup is constantly changing. When I visited, I found figures from Masters of the Universe, Justice League, Nickelodeon, Jurassic Park, Disney, and Transformers. The Nickelodeon figures were a range of classic characters such as Ren and Stimpy and Spongebob Squarepants. The Disney figures were from The Incredibles, Disney Princesses, Monsters, Inc., and classic Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie. The Justice League figures were all based on characters from the recent DC films. The MOTU figures were based on the classic figure designs in classic packaging but featured a base with the new Netflix Kevin Smith series logo on it. The Transformers figures were all backpack clips with the clip attached to the top of their heads. I decided to snag all of the Transformers and all of the MOTU figures.

None of the figures in either line that I purchased had perfect paint applications. I didn’t expect them to be perfect. That being said, the primary reason that I didn’t buy any of the Justice League figures was because the paint apps were terrible. Of all of the lines available, only Disney seemed to have their stuff completely together. The Transformer toys were very good (but even they had issues), and the MOTU figures were hit and miss. I had to pick through them to get the best ones.

Of the two lines that I purchased, the Transformers are definitely my favorites. They aren’t to scale and I had to dig quite a while before finding a Soundwave figure who didn’t have a broken shoulder cannon, but overall they are brightly colored, remind me of the classic TV series, and look great on display. If you’re a fan of the classic Transformers line, grab one or two of these figures to clip to your backpack or hang from your rearview mirror.

Note the paint apps on Soundwave. They aren’t great, but hanging from a backpack I doubt that anyone will notice.

Of the figures that I purchased, Orko is easily the best one. Again, these figures aren’t to scale, so Orko is a giant compared to He-Man and the rest of the gang. Orko’s paint apps are amazing and he looks really great on my shelf. Mer-Man and Skeletor both had pretty bad paint apps, but poor Man-At-Arms looked like a porn movie reject with his pencil thin, lopsided moustache.

Are they worth collecting? Not really. It would be cool to have the entire line on card (which is pretty easy to do at only $1.25 each), but I seriously doubt that they will increase in value. If you’re the type of collector who opens up items like I do, then these are definitely worth grabbing. It won’t hurt to tear these toys open and display them and you probably won’t mind if your Optimus Prime bag clip goes missing at a convention because he was cheap. Just be sure to keep quality control in mind with these figures and go through the entire rack before deciding on which ones to buy. The paint apps are hit and miss and many of the figures are broken. Kids will like these for a little while but will probably end up burning them, tossing them, or putting them in the microwave to see what happens.

Thanks for checking out this quick review. I found a few other interesting things at Dollar Tree that I may have to review in the future. I have something special coming up for Throwback Thursday this week and I hope you join me for that upcoming post!