Monday, June 16, 2014

Vintage Troublemaker: Year 34

New logo by Belligerent Monkey!
This was originally posted on May 11, 2009 – the day after my thirty-third birthday. I am reposting it now because I just did a thing about Star Trek and next week I’m going to be reviewing the Masters of the Universe Classics version of the character Blade from the 1987 Masters movie.
I made the decision to clean this article up and re-post it while I was writing the introductory paragraph for Blade. I was going to say some things about the Masters motion picture and then remembered I had already said some things about it and that I was mostly right that time.
This was basically just a recap of my birthday weekend. Five years ago I used to celebrate my birthday by watching movies with friends and stuff instead of just being at my shitty job all weekend. HAHAHA NO – I’m not bitter at all!
So I had this weekend that was so awesome and full of dorkery that I was compelled to write about it. I think it’s a fun piece. I have cleaned up my grammar – which was not as good in 2009 – and added in some pictures and stuff. Also, I stand by most of these reviews. My opinions haven’t changed on any of them. Except GI Joe – I’ll explain when I get to that. Enjoy!
I turned thirty-three on Sunday and was determined to split the weekend between being the biggest dork I could and hanging out with Mrs. & Lil’ Troublemaker. I pretty much succeeded.
I went to see Star Trek Friday afternoon and it was every bit as good as Wolverine was bad. I cannot believe how awesome that movie was. I want to go and see it again as soon as I possibly can. Here’s a review!
Star Trek
Man, I’m not even sure how to go about writing this one. I just want to keep saying “awesome”, and that doesn’t do anybody any good.
I’m going to start off with the only two negatives in the whole movie just to calm myself down a little bit. The first is the use of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage at the beginning of the movie. It really seemed weird and out of place, even though it would realistically be a classic rock-type song at the time the movie takes place. It was just kind of jarring to hear that in a Star Trek movie, though I guess not wholly inappropriate. The second issue is that I’m not sure it was explained why Scotty went with Kirk. I’ll have to pay closer attention to that part next time I see the movie, which hopefully will be soon.
The cast is great. Everybody nails their character without doing an impersonation of the original crew. I went into the movie not wanting to like the guy playing Kirk, but I loved him after a mere five minutes of screen time. My impression before seeing the film was that the actor looked like kind of a douchebag, but it occurred to me after seeing his great portrayal of Iowa’s biggest man-whore that Kirk is kind of a douchebag. The kind you like to see doing awesome stuff like starting fights with Starfleet cadets, Romulans, Vulcans and pretty much everybody. As a matter of fact, Kirk’s main value to the plot seems to be pissing people off. And that’s okay. I even thought Eric Bana was tremendous and I haven’t had any use for him since his rotten Hulk movie. Everybody else is great, and since I don’t want this to just turn into a list of actors and how awesome they are, let’s move along to the story.
The story is great. The pacing is so solid you never have a moment to relax. There is always something going on that requires your attention. Every single character is thoroughly outlined and given something important to do. Not even the old original cast movies – which are some of my all-time favorite movies; even the odd-numbered ones – put so much care into making each primary crew member seem crucial. The overall story is just mind-blowing. Not only did the writers manage to reboot the whole franchise from the start (If you don’t include Enterprise. And I don’t), they did it in a way that respects and cherishes what has gone before. If you are even a casual fan of Star Trek, there are so many call-outs in this movie that you won’t be able to remember them all. Also – don’t ever fuck with Romulans. Ever. They will absolutely ruin your day.
There really isn’t any point in discussing the technical aspects of the movie. Regardless of your opinion of J.J. Abrams, the guy knows his stuff. Effects, cinematography, production design; all of those things are outstanding. The new bridge looks so fucking cool I wanted to go out and buy the playset immediately. I also like the sneeze shield in the transporter room. You can’t ever be too careful. The costumes are great, too. They are instantly recognizable but completely updated.
J.J. Abrams says he wasn’t even a Trek fan when he signed on, but he has still managed to put together one amazing love letter to Gene Roddenberry. Go see this movie as soon as you possibly can. Not only is it a great starting point for new fans, it actually serves as a beautiful conclusion to old stories for existing fans. The universe is now full of fresh, new possibilities.
5 out of 5 Immolated Redshirts
After I got home and paid the bills, we loaded Lil’ Troublemaker into the car and headed for Toys R Us. Mrs. Troublemaker really wanted to get our son this ride-on toy we had seen there the week before and I really wanted to buy every Star Trek toy I could get my hands on. We got the bug-shaped riding toy no problem, but the Trek stuff did present a problem. You see, to get the bridge playset I mentioned before, not only do you have to buy the playset itself for around $25; you also have to buy eighteen of the single-carded 3.75” figures. The actual boxed playset only includes the Captain’s console, the viewscreen and a floorplan/mat-type thing to put all of the parts on. In order to have a complete bridge you have to buy all of the single-carded figures; each of which includes a piece of the bridge, such as the control console and conn Station. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but you aren’t actually buying eighteen different characters; you end up with a couple of different variations of several of them which I don’t particularly want to buy. Hell, the playset comes with a Kirk, but you get the exact same Kirk when you buy the single figure. They could have at least put one of them in the black Starfleet shirt he wears for most of the movie. This was a deal-breaker for me. As much as I’d like to have that bridge, I’m not buying that many figures that I don’t really want. I ended up just buying one of the new phasers and the new Enterprise – both of which I will discuss some other time.
Side Note: I never did get around to reviewing those. The Enterprise is awesome:
It’s almost on par with Diamond Select Toys’ incredible starships and cost a lot less. I would have loved to see a line of starships from Playmates. The phaser was exciting at first thanks to the wacky stun/kill action:
But now I feel like it looks pretty junky and almost like a Dollar Tree toy. The old phasers are way better.
Lil’ Troublemaker had a couple of mini-adventures while we were in the World’s Best Toy Store. First, he managed to scale to the top of one of those bins made of metal grids. I was squatting right beside him, so he was in no danger of falling, but he made it all the way up that thing just so he could get a hold of one of those generic rubber balls like you would play dodgeball with. I was impressed. The second funny thing occurred when this other little boy walked up with his family. Lil’ Troublemaker is to the point where he really wants to play with other kids when he sees them, so he tried to get this other little boy to play with the ball he had just freed from captivity. I was a little nervous because the other kid was like half the size of my son and I don’t need any lawsuits. Lil’ Troublemaker kept offering the ball, never quite sure if he should try bouncing it over or not, but the other kid just kind of stood there staring. I just assumed given his size that the other kid must be a little younger than my own and not quite to the same level of social development. After talking to his parents – who were toting around three other kids, too – we found out he and Lil’ Troublemaker are the same age. Lil’ T is a big boy.
On Saturday, the big plan was to have the guys over to watch GI Joe: The Movie, Transformers: The Movie (the animated one) and Masters of the Universe and drink lots of beer. I had to get up early so I could go to the post office to pick up a package I assumed was my birthday present from my parents and go to the bank to deposit the birthday present from my Granny. It turned out the package was an Imperial Officer’s hat I had purchased off of eBay. I bought it to get an idea of the quality of goods from this place in Singapore that makes recreations of Star Wars costumes, among other things. I need a couple of different pieces for something I’m working on for Dragon*Con this year. The hat is fucking awesome, by the way.
Side Note: The project was the ill-fated Mandalorian costume that I have mentioned many times before. I didn’t end up ordering any parts from this place because I couldn’t get them in the colors I needed. I lost the Imperial Officer hat in the flood later that same year.
Me and the guys had a blast dissecting the three movies and I highly recommend this triple feature for anybody who grew up during the 80’s. Here are some thoughts:
GI Joe: The Movie
Good lord does Cobra-La suck. I love the Real American Hero, but this movie brought with it the worst concept in the history of Joe. I loved these organic, monstrous predecessors to the Yuuzhan Vong when I was a kid, but as an adult I think it was a terrible thing to mix in with GI Joe. I wondered aloud Saturday if Larry Hama went home and punched his wife in the face after seeing that nonsense back in the day. I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must have been.
Cobra-La notwithstanding, the movie is still a blast to watch, especially with friends. Just about every Joe that existed at that point is on screen at one time or another and you get to see Duke receive a bloody stab wound through the heart courtesy of a snake. And then live. You also get Alpine delivering my favorite animated Joe line ever, “How are you at splicin’?” You might be wondering why that is my favorite line. Me too. I cannot explain that at all, I just love it every time I hear it.
GI Joe: The Movie is so much fun to watch and undoubtedly a treasured memory, but it really kind of sucks. Any of the mini-series are far superior story-wise (Even if they all have basically the same plot of “We have to stop Cobra from assembling the Weather Dominator, MASS Elements, Serpentor DNA, etc.; IT’S A RACE AGAINST TIME AND AROUND THE WORLD!”) and The Movie didn’t even really benefit from higher quality animation (thought the standard animation for the series is really good anyway) like Transformers did. It did, however, benefit from Sgt. Slaughter and Don Johnson; so you almost even things up there. If it wasn’t for nostalgia and Roadblock’s new duds, this movie would never get
2 out of 5 Extraneous Cobra Commander Eyeballs
Side Note: Clearly I was out of my fucking mind when I wrote that.
It’s funny – I’ve probably had more extreme flip-flops on this movie than any other. When I was a kid I loved it, but as I got older I really started to dislike Cobra-La and how they usurped Cobra Commander’s story (most of which I had taken from the comics). Eventually I softened on them again because I remember being excited about seeing the movie when it came out on DVD and thinking I was going to dig the whole Cobra-La thing. Clearly I did not.
These days I’m back to liking them. I mean, they aren’t any more ridiculous or bizarre than anything else that happened on the Joe cartoon. And as for how they affected Cobra Commander’s story, the comics are the comics and the cartoons are the cartoons. I can separate them now and enjoy each for what they offer. Also, I think I was wrong and the animation was better. Or at least it is in the opening sequence, which is one of the best in cinematic history. So I retract the above score and call 33-year-old Phantom a dimwit:
4 out of 5 Extraneous Cobra Commander Eyeballs

From Wikipedia
The (Animated) Movie
Overall this is much better than the GI Joe movie. I remember going to see this in the theater with my mom and being terrified she was going to make us leave when Spike Witwicky said “OH, shit!” and looking over expecting to see her angry face only to discover that she was sound asleep. I was torn between relief that I was going to be able to continue to watch what was obviously going to be the greatest movie of all time and complete bewilderment as to how she could possibly doze off with the most significant conflict in the history of the universe unfolding before us.
I kind of got to relive that bewilderment Saturday night. Big Jason nodded off shortly after Spike’s life-altering exclamation, unknowingly mimicking my Mother’s reaction to the movie when she saw it twenty-three years ago. This is surprising since Big Jason is a much more enthusiastic fan of the Transformers than my Mother is. Heck, Big Jason is a much more enthusiastic fan of the Transformers than I am. The poor guy was just exhausted.
Anyway, this movie is a big ol’ chunk of awesome. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t get a little misty when (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) Optimus Prime dies (END OF SPOILER!), then you just don’t have a soul. I even remember being upset when Ultra Magnus got blown to pieces, though I noticed during this viewing that the Autobots don’t really seem to give a shit. I guess when you’re the type of guy that believes your imminent death is your species’ darkest hour you probably haven’t made a whole lot of friends (Although I’m sure you believe you have). Knowing what I know now, though, Ironhide’s death is really the most upsetting. I have a soft spot for curmudgeons. That’s why I get along with Angry Matt so well.
This whole movie is just awesome on top of amazing on top of spectacular. From Autobot city to the Sharkticons to the demented Quintessons to the also demented (but in a different way) Junkions; it’s new thrill after new thrill. This is one of the few times that something actually changed the face of something forever. That promise is often made but rarely fulfilled. In the case of Transformers: The Movie it is the truth. Future episodes of the cartoon were all affected by the events of the movie; everything from the cast of characters to the storylines and timeline were almost entirely different. Of course, so were the voices of Ultra Magnus, Galvatron, Kup and a few others.
Great flick – way to go, Hasbro and Sunbow. I actually still prefer this one to the live-action one.
4 out of 5 Dead Autobots
Side Note: Not much to say here other than of course I prefer the animated one to Michael Bay’s version. While I don’t hate the Bay movies at all – I quite like the first and third entries – as a parent I am disgusted by the use of profanity and sexuality in his adaptations of a children’s toy line. Both are utterly unnecessary. I think I’ve said this before but I am dreading the possibility of having to tell my son he can’t go and see the new Ninja Turtles movie because there are too many dick jokes. He loves Ninja Turtles as much as I ever did and he deserves a great live-action movie like the one I got to see in theaters in 1990.
Having said that – I don’t hate anything about what I’ve seen of the new Turtles flick. I don’t like their weird faces, but other than that and Shredder being a white guy it seems like just a sort of alternate universe take on the Turtles; no different than things the Mirage comic did back in the day. I’m hoping Bay and whoever directed this thing can show just a shred of decency and not put in the foul language and inappropriate scenarios that made the Transformers movies so appaling.
From Wikipedia
Masters of the Universe
Wow. This movie is really, really bad. This is a classic example of Hollywood having no idea what makes a franchise work. The only villains from the toy line to appear in the movie are Skeletor, Evil-Lynn and Beast-Man. Granted, these are done really well. Frank Langella is obviously enjoying himself under the skull makeup; Meg Foster is super-hot and, well, evil as Evil-Lynn and whoever plays Beast-Man is very Beast-Mannish. The problem is with the other primary villains. You’ve got a sword guy, a snake guy and some kind of hairy albino lizard thing. We decided you could have easily used Trap-Jaw, Whiplash and Stinkor instead. Why make up lame new characters when the original characters would be just as easy to portray?
Let me just say that the Eternia sets look awesome. As a matter of fact, pretty much all of the production design is great. The original characters that appear in the film are brought to life in a fairly faithful and realistic manner and Eternia really comes across as a different world. Here is giant fucking problem number two, though: Only about fifteen minutes of the one hour and forty-seven minute movie take place on Eternia. The rest takes place on 80’s-era earth and revolves around Courtney Cox’s dead parents. And yes, that is exactly as lame as it sounds.
Problem three is Gwyldor. Gwyldor is apparently in this movie to answer the question “What could possibly suck more than Orko and Snarf fucking and producing offspring?”
Masters of the Universe presents to you a certain wonderful suckiness that is best enjoyed in the company of other dudes and copious amounts of alcohol. Dolph Lundgren is something just shy of retarded as he lopes around what looks like downtown Roswell in his leather manties (Looking remarkably like one of the “300”). Teela’s only direction apparently consisted of “Turn around a lot so we can see that leather strap we yanked up your ass.” I guess if you have Dolph for the mommies you need a little Teela for the daddies. The guy that plays Man-At-Arms is appropriately mustachioed and Principal Strickland plays a thoroughly unlikeable cop who wins a toga and a whore for not shooting He-Man and Courtney Cox when he had the chance.
The golden moment in Masters of the Universe occurs roughly an hour and a half in, when He-Man is apprehended by Skeletor and his goons. HM is being restrained by about ten of Skeletor’s “Sentinels” – generic troops that look like leftover Star Wars costumes (Actually a lot of stuff in this movie looks like leftover Star Wars something-or-other) – when one overzealous Sentinel appears to leap forward right onto Dolph’s golden-mulleted head. My initial reaction was “Holy shit! That guy is really into his job!” But after rewinding in order to show it to the guys who hadn’t been paying as close attention as I had (all of them), we discovered that this guy was not leaping forward in a display of aggressive enthusiasm. He was, instead, tripping over another guy’s leg in a display of aggressive clumsiness. The best part is that the very next shot is one of Skeletor throwing back his head and laughing, so it appears he is just cracking up at his clumsy minion. Awesome.

I highly recommend watching this movie at your next social gathering. Whoever is still at your house when it is over are worth having as friends. Anybody else should be immediately reduced to “acquaintance” status. I’m looking at you, Carlito.
Bizarro 4 out of 5 Flying Manhole Covers
I haven’t used a “Bizarro” rating before since I just made it up, so let me explain: I can’t in good conscience give a shitty movie that I enjoyed watching a low score. My scores are mostly meant to suggest how much I am entertained by a movie, with quality being somewhat secondary. At the same time, I can’t really score something the caliber of Masters of the Universe the same as I would Casino Royale, despite being almost equally entertained by them. Enter the Bizarro Score. It will be specifically for shitty movies and if you need any more explanation than that then I just don’t know what to tell you.
On Sunday I just hung out with Mrs. Troublemaker and Lil’ Troublemaker all day. We played with a mix of Batman, Star Wars and Little People farm that my son seems to enjoy. Mrs. Troublemaker’s parents were even nice enough to stop by before dinner to wish me a Happy Birthday. That was nice.
Side Note: I used to write a lot more biographical stuff than I do now. If you look back on Needless Things you can even find recaps of vacations and stuff. While I still do that for cons, I pretty much stopped for regular, run-of-the-mill events. What I’m saying here is – anybody want to come over and watch some 80s flicks? I won’t write about it.

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