Friday, November 4, 2011

Hot and Cold flashes

Quick entry this time.

Can you believe it's November already?!?! Oh man this year is flying by. So much has happened, and there is still two months left. Really, the next Star Wars thing on my radar isn't until February. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, well, then you might have to wait until after the first of the year to find out!!!) Speaking of Star Wars, I was watching the Back to the Future movies the other day and I found a reference in the first one to one Princess Leia!!! Marty McFly had just finished telling the Emmett "Doc" Brown in 1955 about how he (Marty) ended up in 1955 and finished with, "You gotta help me, Doc. You're my only hope."

Okay, that might have been unintentional, but you gotta admit, that's pretty cool! BTW, that series happens to be one of my other favorite movie franchises. And personally, I preferred the original Jennifer to Elizabeth Shue, even though she didn't have much screen time in the first film. But that might be better for a different discussion... or a review perhaps....

I hope everyone had a happy and SAFE Halloween! Check out my other blog here to see a few pics of my geekawans in their Halloween-y best. (They're not yet posted... but please feel free to peek the site! Content will be up soon!)

Well, I will bid you adieu for now. May the Force be with you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lego my popcorn!!!

Well over a week (or so) ago, on a couch on the other side of the family room...

Geek Reviews

Edit: I just realized, since the sale, and all it's cool toys are no longer in existence.... The dark expanse above this edit was a movie crawl, much like the original Star Wars one... but with my own wording to fit this blog.... *Sigh* Maybe I'll find a new site with something similar!

What a set up, right? So maybe it wasn't that epic after all.... But there was an almost mad scramble to get the order in on time! I know you all are on pins and needles wanting to know the mystery DVD. Well, if this entry's title (and pretty much every other theme in this blog) are any clues, you might be able to make a very educated guess.

For those that may still be trying to figure it out, I am referring to the recent release of the LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace film that was on Cartoon Network a couple months back. From all of my research before the release, it was only available as a Blu-ray/DVD combo. The deal of the day for that one was a Walmart "special"... $13 + free site-to-store shipping! The set was also packaged with a LEGO mini figure of a younger version of everyone's favorite nerf-herder, who was featured in this release. I placed the order and made plans to have an adventure with my Geekawans.

Confirmation of the arrival of my new purchase arrived on a Friday. I sorely wanted to rush out that evening to pick it up, but a promise to help a close friend with a personal project (one that played into my first passion! Okay, okay... second) came first. By the way, check it out on YouTube by clicking here. It's a short video, but quite entertaining!

So that following day, my youngest and I ventured the crowds at Walmart to pick up my copy. Irony of all ironies, ordering online did not necessarily save me any money.... There were displays full of the exact same set, priced at $13. So ultimately, I just ensured that I would get a copy for my very own. Yeah....

It took me a couple days to pop the disc in the player, though. Hey, I know! Star Wars is a priority! But so is passing my classes. Anyway, the first thing I was curious about was the special features; more specifically the extra video shorts. The first one I scanned was titled Bombad Jedi. I am still at a loss why they included Jedi in the title.... Basically, it chronicles the exploits of one bumbling gungan -- in Lego form, no less -- as we revisit numerous events and locations throughout the Original Trilogy (also in Lego form). The animations are very well handled, as are the character designs. With an exception of Jar-Jar.... It seems as if the designers tried too hard to make him both Lego cartoonish and expressive. The end result added an odd comical look that was a bit outlandish, even for Jar-Jar. I did like the tie-ins to why Jar-Jar was in the specific areas that he was, as well as how he "influenced" the outcomes for each episode.

Out of the other shorts, two were a bit less memorable. The short The Quest for R2-D2 wasn't necessarily  bad. It simply didn't capture my interest as well as the other shorts. Although, there were some clever nods to the different species in the SW universe and how they interact with their respective envirnments. The Clone Wars Animated Comics were a bit more interesting. I am guessing originally packaged with some of the higher-end lightsabers found down the toy aisles at Walmart and Target, these comics are actually a collection of short (1-2 minute) stories of the clones during various sieges in the Clone Wars. Again, not spectacular in nature, but interesting none the less.

The final two shorts included are the Star Wars in 2 Minutes short films. Done by a then 9-year-old, these films are his retelling of the Star Wars saga with an impressive, most impressive collection of Legos. The videos were originally posted on You Tube, and you can view them by clicking here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Overall, the quality of the videos is pretty good. On both blu-ray and DVD. The animation was handled very well on all of the shorts, seamlessly mixing full textured backgrounds with Lego set pieces and characters. Personal feelings about characterizations aside, each short has its own charm and is a fun little side adventure that adds to (and re-imagines) this Geek's favorite film series. With the exception of the Clone Wars Animated Comics, the shorts also include some recognizable easter eggs that adds to their individual charm. One of my favorite is the inclusion of the Lego Mola Ram character in the Cantina scene in Bombad Jedi. For those not very familiar with this character, click here for a visual and brief description of who he is in the LucasArts family.

All right. Now, on to the main feature!

The Padawan Menace has the viewer following a group of Jedi younglings (before they are taken on as padawans -- even though they are collectively referred to as padawans.... anyway....) as they are given a tour of the Galactic Senate by a certain golden droid and his plucky counterpart. Yoda gets some strange feeling and leaves the padawans (younglings.... sorry. I'll stop now.) in the droids' care and disappears to locate the source of a mysterious feeling in the force.

The rest of the main feature follows the padawans as they visit some familiar places in the Star Wars universe. Yoda is joined by another youngster who is trying to evade the authorities by posing as a padawan. This particular young one is almost immediately recognizable by anyone with a love for the original trilogies. I'm tempted to say more, but I'd rather not ruin the surprise.

Like the shorts, The Padawan Menace is chock full of various references to Star Wars lore, and in some cases foreshadowing of coming events in the timeline (respective to this film). One of those is a reference to a particular scene in Empire Strikes Back involving one character expressing appreciation for another.

The animation was handled very well. At times, I almost forgot it was animated. Almost. As with Jar-Jar in the           animated shorts, Yoda at times seemed to be overly expressive. It didn't necessarily detract from the character, but it could be distracting at times.

One thing I was not particularly fond of was the high level of annoyance Yoda would display. I understand that Yoda is the senior character in this cast and he is reacting to a large number of younglings. However, the few scenes we saw of him in Attack of the Clones with younglings seemed to show him with infinitely more patience. Some of the interactions did add to the overall charm, though.

It's hard for me to not like a Star Wars film outing. I really enjoyed this film, for what it is. An animated adventure that stories Yoda, a group of soon-to-be-padawans, and a supporting cast that includes numerous beings from the entire saga. This review was a long time in posting, so I thank you for sticking with me!

Stay tuned for my review of Empire Strikes Back on blu-ray. Coming soon to a blog near you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DrthGeek Quick fix

So it's been a while. How y'all doin'?  Good?

Yeah, sorry about not posting earlier.... The last month was a bit crazy. I'm taking classes for a Business Management degree, and the one I just finished ran me a bit ragged. Something had to give. So, I'm sorry.

Well, now that you're here, I'd like to let you know about some planned things for this blog. First, I am putting an art gallery page together. The plans are to include various incarnations of my avatar based on pop culture icons... and such. Right now, most are just pencils, but I hope to get better at inks and coloring so they have a bit more professional look!

Second, the art gallery may also contain excerpts from another work-in-progress. It's more a literary work  than art, but for now that may be its home... unless a better idea comes along....

Also, a regular feature I'm planning on having is my personal reviews of recent releases (mostly Blu-ray/DVD over big screen....) and favorite films. I will make every attempt to check out some of these in the theater, but no promises. =)

I won't go on for too long right now. I just wanted you to know I haven't forgotten about you and ideas I have cookin'! If all goes to plan (what does, right?), I may even be able to get some art posted on the new page!

Anyway, thanks for stickin' with me. I've got a review in the works, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That's No Moon....

About four days ago, in a galaxy not so far away...

Geek Reviews

  It is a period of excitement. Children run rampant through the house, causing their mother to want to sedate them. Her mission to gain reinforcements is one of dire need.
  Tension levels are high, as sugar-fuel conversations nearly drown the miscommunication between the adults. Minutes before dinner, the mother's reinforcement turns hostile, and nearly causes a different kind of war, of lasting proportions...

Yes, folks, I was a jerk. And I want to publicly apologize to my wife for the immature outburst of human reactions that usually come from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Sweetheart, I am so terribly sorry. Thank you for being smarter than me and making sure I was aware of how much of a jerk I was acting like. I hope this post can make up for some of that hurt.

The key players in this event was a truck in the shop getting more repairs than originally planned, an already strained budget, a mother and wife stressed to her limits from the aforementioned players, her "angelic" children, and prolonged health concerns, and one single-minded, yet still loving husband keyed up on anticipation for future events and the promise of escape from the stresses of work. My excitement for the release of Star Wars on Blu-ray pushed almost everything from my mind. I was still acutely aware of the above factors, but I made verbally known that my desires were what needed to come first. Boy, was I wrong!

Luckily, my sweet wife, who caught the full force of my Darth Vader-esque tirade, was willing to correct me and bring me back to the light side. Solution to cover costs of repairs to the truck as well as not over-stress the budget: check. Remorseful husband returning to his senses in order to communicate with his better half: check. Understanding wife who, rolling her eyes and (hopefully) grateful for the small reprieve, gives her blessing to allow a late-evening Father/Son/Son outing: check. I pile the troops (in jammies, no less) into the family shuttle and blast for the nearest road that will take us to our destination -- the video department at Target!

Pulling smoothly into the closest parking stall we could find, I unloaded the troops and lead the charge to the front entrance, like any good General should. My superhero sidekick clutched my hand while his older brother scouted ahead at full speed. Mere meters into the main aisle of the store, we spotted our objective. The boys were slightly disappointed with the speed that we completed our mission. My oldest wanted to scout the toy aisle (most likely the Bakugan and Legos...) while my youngest was hoping to explore the "blower uppers" -- the inflatable Halloween decorations that populate retail stores nationwide this time of year. General Dad vetoed the secondary missions, seeing as the primary objective had been achieved. Instead, my troops settled with playing with the small impulse-purchase toys like single pack Lego sets and fit-in-your-hand Nerf dart guns while Dad paid for his brand new copy of Star Wars on Blu-ray!!! (If you can't tell by now, I'm a bit excited!)

Returning the DrthGeek Family Shuttle to its port-of-call, I ushered the troops into the house and assisted with the final bedtime rituals. Excitement poured through my veins, very much like the Force in my favorite film series.... But mindful of the evenings earlier transgressions, and in a bid to start to make amends, I offered my wife the opportunity to peel the wrapping off the box set. A small gesture, true.... You have to understand something here: Not only am I a SW Geek, I am nearly obsessively meticulous with my opening of DVDs. So in my house, this is HUGE.

Once the set was opened, I made the decision to NOT watch any of the films that night. I had to be more responsible and get my homework done (yes, I am working on a college degree!). The films could wait. Besides, it's not like I don't have them memorized already!

The next morning's plans were to consist of a breakfast of junk food, flopped on the couch in PJs, and the first of the six High-Definition episodes emblazoned on the big screen and pouring out of the surround sound. Instead, we did have the junk-food breakfast (freshly purchased donuts! YUM!), but instead of the PJ-attired couch lounging, we all piled into the DrthGeek Family Shuttle and headed off to the farmer's market.

Yes, you read right. Opposed to spending all morning analyzing the films I have memorized, I spent the morning escorting my wife on the hunt for amazing, locally-grown produce. Honestly, and don't tell her this, I rather enjoyed doing that than lazing about at home. When we returned home from our adventures, it was finally time to pop in one of the films and see for myself what all the hubbub was about.

Again, right as usual, my wife suggested I watch the films in release order rather than chronological/episode order. She said something about being concerned about the impressionable young mind of our three-year-old not needing to see the devilish visage of Darth Maul (or something like that), but I knew the real reason was that she is a closet SW-Purest and wanted to see/listen to the films too! But if you ask that to her face, she will only admit to liking the Ewoks... 'cause they're cute....

Anyway, as I watched the film for the one hundred billionth time, I still got excited and my face split into a huge grin hearing the first chords of the opening theme. My elation was assisted by my youngest humming along. I watched the film looking for the new additions and updates. As a whole, A New Hope (Episode IV) was visually cleaner. The colors were definitely more crisp, and the detail on some of the textures was thrilling to see. However, some of the scenes, like when the droids are wandering the deserts of Tattoine after escaping the Imperial Star Destroyer, seemed a bit too crisp and made the scene look more like a moving painting rather than a motion picture. Still, the scenes that really stood out, ironically, were the Special Edition "upgrades" GL gave the saga in the late '90s. Because of the digital enhancements, the HD treatment visually handled those scenes with a bit more fluid grace. Unfortunately, though, that same HD treatment caused the digital enhancements to be more noticeable as not part of the original film editing.

Foley artists, it seemed, were given some extra liberties this go-round. A lot of the feared changes came from little sound nuances here and there that, to the SW trained viewer, pop out as "did I just hear that droid beep right?" or "I don't recall that being in there...." The strangest, because of the unnecessary nature, yet oddly fitting auditory change was the krayt-dragon impersonation by Obi-wan "Old Ben" Kenobi when we first meet him on screen. Other reviews have described the new call as more human-sounding. I think that is a very fitting description. It most definitely sounds like a human whooping at a high pitch down the far end of a canyon while the call echoes off itself and ends in something that sounded almost like a growl.... It was a very odd thing to change in the first place, in my opinion. But this newest rendition is probably the oddest sounding of them all.

Once Han, Luke and Chewie truly began the rescue of the beautiful Princess Leia, I really started to pay more attention to the film and watch it from a  fan's perspective. Leia still called Chewie a "walking carpet", Luke, Wedge, and Biggs still flew the trench run, and Han still proved that he wasn't in it only for the money, so at least GL left the plot line alone. Overall, the HD treatment, by the end of the film, helped remind me why I fell in love with this galaxy far, far away.

A word to the Purists out there: I'm right there with you guys! Don't fix what isn't broken. But sometimes, a little sprucing up can make a difference, and not be entirely bad.

Well, I think I've ranted and raved enough for one post. This Nerf Herder's gonna call it quits, for now. But stay tuned, fellow Geekawans and Geek Masters. We've got five more films to go! Not to mention the new special features! Until then....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming Soon to a Galaxy Near You...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the countdown is now in minutes. For those of you who may not know what I am referring to, the Blu-ray release of the Star Wars Saga becomes official at midnight. Depending on your time zone, you may already have your copy. And if you're one of those lucky folks and are reading this... well... I appreciate the fact that you're reading this instead of checking out the new content, but you might want to reconsider your priorities...

I just added a new feature. Check out the AWESOME pic of everyone's favorite Nerf Herder over on the left sidebar. The guy that did this phenomenal piece of art graciously permitted me to use the image as the background for this blog. Unfortunately, I was not able to get things to look the way I was hoping. Do me a favor, check out his site on deviantArt. He is a magnificent artist. One of many on that website. If you're a fan of anything, you can find some great art of just about whatever you are in to, many of which you can order prints of. Follow this link to go straight to XJapanRoX's site and check out the great artwork! Thanks again, Joe!

Well, folks... not much time left.... Hopefully, this time tomorrow, I'll be able to post the first of many reviews.

Until then

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day Late & 20 Bucks Short

I originally intended to post this Sunday, being that it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Coming from a family that has VERY strong military backgrounds, I wish I could say I had a stronger reaction to the tragedy at the World Trade Center. The truth of it is, I was a college kid that slept late that morning, only to catch the news right as the towers started to crumble. I was most definitely shocked by the unfolding events. Like many Americans, I had no idea what to make of things. Sometimes I still don't. The only thing I know for sure is that we live in a country full of heroes. No matter what happens, there will always be someone who is willing to step up to fight for what is right. That is what made -- what makes -- America great. None of us know what the future will bring, but if we can learn to work together, we will be able to handle anything. I want to extend a thank you to ALL of our heroes -- at home and abroad. Thank you for what you choose to do every day.

On a completely different note, this Friday marks another momentous occasion, albeit one decidedly less earth-shattering than 9/11... well, depending on how you feel about it. Because George Lucas NEEDS more money, Star Wars is releasing on Blu-ray in both individual trilogy sets and an entire saga collection. I think it is safe to say that the SW community is split on the, ahem, enhancements this time around.... I, for one, am dismayed.... Okay, that is not the right choice.... I seriously considered ALMOST not buying this new set because of some "script enhancements." Particularly, Vader's almost next to last line of dialogue.... Really? I mean, seriously?

My darling Better-Half would much prefer that I do skip out on this one... considering I have about three different sets.... Including the UNENHANCED Original Trilogy set. And, yes, I will be inundating my impressionable young Geekawans with that version so they can hopefully find the original magic that first captured me. Although, they are quite the fans in their own rights....

As far as the Blu-ray release, stay tuned for my review.... May the Force be with this version....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slave Labor Training

So I was lucky enough to have some extra time off work. I'm thinkin' I'm gonna take a nap, get some meat ready for grilling tonight, relax... you know, the whole nine yards! Woo-hoo!!! That is... until I got home and realized that the Lawn-Mowing Fairy -- hey! This one is MANLY, thank you very much! -- didn't visit my house. So instead, I put on my junky lawn-mowing clothes, my junky lawn-mowing shoes, and trudged outside to start the chores.

Here I am, day off early from work, and I'm STILL working... and not getting paid for this one! That's okay, though.... The satisfaction of a freshly manicured lawn is payment enough, right?

I'm just about to step outside when I hear thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, WHAM! A small human-shaped missile body-slams into me, at just the right height... if you know what I mean.... "Daddy! Daddy! Can I help too?!?" Mommy chimes in with, "He's been waiting to help you all day...."

Now I'm at a critical point in the decision making process: Do I say no and instantly evolve into the evil villain World's Worst Dad, who's alter-ego is the even more sinister Husband Living in the Doghouse... or... oh yeah! That's it!

One of the perks to becoming a father is that eventually you get to cash in on free slave labor. But, the laborers must be trained.... So I become the hero of the moment! Albeit one with ulterior motives....

An hour later, and a freshly edged and ready to be mowed lawn is all that stands between my three year old, me and ultimate victory in the on-going battle for manicured lawns fought all across the world! I get Black Beauty gassed up and primed. I reach for the ripcord, but a small fist has already closed around the handle. If only that young enthusiasm would last! He gives it a few tugs and looks at me quizzically. "Why it's not starting, Daddy?" I give it a couple good pulls... and sure enough... the darn thing refuses to start....

But then, when all hope has been lost, we spy that the spark plug cable has been disconnected! Deftly, I reconnect the line, give one immense yank on the cord, and Black Beauty growls to life, spewing smoke out it's exhaust like some kind of grass-eating dragon. Again, his youthful enthusiasm gets the better of him, and my son steps behind the mower, reaches just above the top of his head, looks up and back at me and says, "OK, Daddy! I'm ready!"

There has never been a more proud moment in a father's life than when his son willingly gets behind the lawnmower and goes to town. Granted, it took almost twice the amount of time as it would have had I simply worked alone. But every hero needs a sidekick. And every sidekick needs training to become the next hero.

For an hour, I was that hero. Hopefully the next moment will be just as cool.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Maiden Voyage

Well, this is the first official posting. Gee, what to include......

First, let me thank you for choosing to read this. We'll see how things turn out!

I will try to have regular postings as well as special weekly postings (like Bad Joke Fridays... or some over cliche thing like that....). But for now.... Feel free to comment and suggest things you, the reader, might like to see.

Until next post......