Walrusland

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zombieland_posterI will be fairly brief with this review, since it’s one of the rare occasions that we discuss a movie that is still in theaters. Zombieland is a horror-comedy (emphasis on comedy) fun ride. If you’re a George Romero fan, enjoy Shaun of the Dead, or are looking forward to Left 4 Dead 2, then you should enjoy all 88 minutes of Zombieland.

Yes, the fabled cameo lives up to all the hype. Spoilers have been everywhere, but I somehow made it to the second weekend without having the secret ruined. If you care and haven’t already had the cameo spoiled, don’t visit the IMDB links in this post and get to the theater now.

Story

The story begins with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), survivor of a zombie creating plague ala 28 Days Later, trying to make his way across country to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Along the way he meets up with southern fried zombie killing machine, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a pair of sisters played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and a whole lot of zombies. It won’t make the Academy’s list of best screenplay nominees, but the plot does what it needs to.

Presentation

Great casting and good performances are what make this movie work. All four leads are solid, though the guys are exceptional. Harrelson is absolutely perfect as Tallahassee and Jesse Eisenberg nearly outdoes Michael Cera on the awkward nerd type.

The computer graphics and special effects add to the playfulness of the movie and are a nice touch. And a Metallica opening theme is bound to earn some extra points from me.

STORY

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PRESENTATION

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I certainly intend to so see Zombieland again and I could see it making it’s way to onto the list of classics (next to Army of Darkness?) that are hauled out for those rare nerd buddy get togethers.

On the Jazz!

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If you've been following this blog for any length of time, then you know I'm a HUGE A-Team fan and I have been watching closely the development of this new A-Team movie. You also may know that after I saw Spider-Man 3 in the theater and had a horrible experience (not because the movie itself was disappointing but the crowd and atmosphere were horrible), I enacted a self-imposed ban on going to first-run movie theaters to see movies. As we left Spider-Man 3, I told my wife, I'll break this ban for two movies: Serenity 2 and a good A-Team movie.

I won't make any official declarations until I see a trailer, but this image certainly gets me well on my way to lifting the theater ban. For me, it all hinges on Hannibal. If Liam Neeson can perform a properly written Hannibal and I can see that in the trailer, I'll be there. If the trailer is disappointing, I'll be doing an A-Team episode marathon in my home on opening night instead.

It's not a doll! It's an ACTION FIGURE! (part 2)

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I listed primarily Sideshow Toys in the last post. While Sideshow has been a dominant force in these types of collectibles, in recent years, a new company has emerged out of Hong Kong that puts everyone to shame. Hot Toys makes dolls that are so realistic, you'd think they have souls. There are several I am quite impressed with, but I'll only highlight three.

Hot Toys Aliens
Hot Toys has primarily movie lines. One of their big properties is the Alien line, but they also have Predator, Terminator and several more. I can't see buying this Alien figure and ever being able to sleep again.



Hot Toys Iron Man
Don't mix up this figure and the movie suit, you might not ever figure out which is the real one again.



Hot Toys Joker
If you're wondering who should play The Joker in the next Batman movie, I got your guy right here. It's this doll. He looks so much like the Heath Ledger Joker, it's insane. More insane than The Joker even.


What's even more crazy is that Hot Toys has taken articulation to a whole new level. Now you can move their eyes. Sheesh, I remember when swivel arms on G.I. Joes were a big deal.



Again, Marc has pictures of some Hot Toys figures from The Dark Knight. He doesn't have the new creepy-eyed Joker yet, but the two he has (along with Batman) look really good.

Hey CT, what about the ladies? Well, good point. There are a lot of great action figures/dolls in this scale of guys, robots, and monsters but do the lady figures work as well? Sideshow made a pretty decent Buffy line that had some good Buffy, Faith and Willow figures. There's also the premium format Slave Leia figure from Star Wars.

The problem must be that the gal figures tend to be of characters who show more skin. So the girl figures look funny because of all the awkward joints and stuff.

There's one set of figures that I ran across that seems to have circumvented that for the most part.

Cy-Girls
I don't really know anything about the Cy-Girls. Appears to be based on a video game or something. I first heard about them when running across a set of customized action figure pictures by "Monkeyhead." The Supergirl figure he did looks great. And even the less-covered Wonder Woman figures he has done look okay in spite of the joints.



In looking closer at all these toys, I'll definitely grant you there are some cool things here. And argue all you want that they're action figures, to me, they're still dolls.

It's not a doll! It's an ACTION FIGURE! (part 1)

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In my years of collecting toys, I've tended to gravitate towards figures that are between 3 and 6 inches in height. (Maybe someday I'll do a history lesson on my favorite toylines through the years, but that's another post.) I guess, in my mind, once the figure reaches the 9 or 10 inch range, has removable clothes, and hair that can be brushed, it's a doll. It seems though that some toy collectors are just insistent that their toys are not dolls. The way they've countered this notion is by paying anywhere between $80-$400 for these collectibles. And that's a good distraction. I'm no longer going to make fun of you for buying a doll. I'm going to make fun of you for spending say $200 on a really fancy doll.

That said, there are some dolls out now that look pretty swanky and I wanted to highlight a couple of them here. Now, before my wife starts worrying...unless we win big in McDonald's Monopoly, I am not buying any of these dolls...er...action figures.

Amok Time Cylon
Maybe I like this mostly because it's shiny. It's a pretty faithful rendition of the classic Cylon design which I still think is an awesome design. Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of the Cylon standing on a box, or else I'd make a joke about how this figure doesn't come with a box. (Sorry. In-joke between me and Jeeg until I can find that image.)



The big company in the manufacturing of these dolls is Sideshow Toys. They've been around for several years and put out some nice looking stuff. Not just these dolls, but also statues and busts. I haven't had the ability to buy anything that Sideshow has made with one exception...I bought the Rowlf the Dog polystone bust. That thing is awesome. I wish I could have gotten more, but I wisely stopped at one. Sorry for that sidebar...back to the dolls.

Premium Format Rocketeer
If someone said I could have anything off this list for free, I'd choose this one. And not because it's the most expensive one. The Rocketeer hits all the right chords with me. Great original comic, excellent movie, WWII-era super heroics, pulp-style adventuring, art deco look, but most of all, a bit of obscurity that makes him a great addition to my "why I'm a unique nerd" list. This doll is the spittin' image of the Rocketeer. I imagine the thing can probably fly, too. It better at that price.



Snake Eyes
I've recently fallen off the deep end with my action figure collecting and G.I. Joe is almost the exclusive reason for that. But with the Joes, I haven't delved into the 12-inch scale yet. But a figure like this and I can see the temptation. The Ray Park version of Snake Eyes didn't look bad from what I could tell, but this is what the outfit should have looked like. All sorts of straps and weaponry. This is a guy you don't want to mess with.


My friend Marc got this one and took a bunch of pictures he has posted here.

Doctor Doom
If someone said I could have two figures off this list, here's my second choice. Why? Look at the picture. 'Nuff Said.


Hey, this post is so full of awesomeness, I'm going to let it spill into another post. Part one ends here, but look for part two soon!

From the desk of Colonel Stryker

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Here's the plan re: Logan:

1. Blackmail Kayla, the attractive Native American psychic mutant, into cooperating in exchange for her abducted sister's safety.

2. Kayla moves to Canada, gets a job as a schoolteacher, and tricks Logan into falling in love with her.

3. Colonel Stryker locates Logan and warns him that someone is killing members of his old black ops team.

4. Victor fakes the murder of Kayla and brutally beats Logan.

5. Stryker offers Logan a way to beat Victor (who is secretly working for Stryker, too) and avenge Kayla (not dead).

6. Logan undergoes an operation to reinforce his skeleton with virtually indestructible metal, transforming him into an even more dangerous killing machine.

7. Stryker plans to mindwipe Logan at this point, and I guess use him as a killing machine for killing and killing-related purposes.

8. In the event our new killing machine overhears us talking about mindwipe (which we will discuss while he's in the same room, despite his enhanced senses), and goes into a kill-frenzy of killing . . .

A. Shoot in head with adamantium bullet, which we assume will give him amnesia or something, despite obviously being untested; or

B. Attack him with Weapon XI, our other experimental supermutant killing machine, assuming we can get him working using Logan's DNA as the final ingredient.

Race to Walrus Mountain

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witch_mountain_posterFINALLY, The Rock has come back to Nerd Lunch! Actually, it’s only been a few months since the last time we discussed The Rock, but what can I say, I’m a complete mark for the guy (see Exhibit A or Exhibit B or Exhibit C).

That being the case, you can pretty much guarantee I’m gong to see anything starring Dwayne Johnson. Even the Disney label will not deter me, so Race to Witch Mountain recently made the cut for movie night.

Story

This is a reimaging of Escape to Witch Mountain, but I’ve never seen the original despite it being out longer than I’ve been alive. My apologies to the twelve readers, but I can’t make any comparisons for you.

The basic premise is that two odd kids (spoiler alert: they’re aliens) end up in The Rock’s cab and ask for a ride to the middle of the desert. The Rock quickly finds out that he’s in for more than a simple fare and has to out maneuver government agents, evil alien bounty hunters, and mobsters.

To the movie’s credit, little time is wasted getting to the action. There are a few groan worthy moments especially with the environmental message, but the plot does enough to hold everything together.

Presentation

The performances are solid all around. The Rock has ample opportunity to do his shtick, though he does not ham it up like he did in The Game Plan or The Rundown. Carla Gugino is an able adult sidekick, though not the most believable scientist. The two kids are tolerable, but as aliens don’t have to show much.

One disappointment is the special effects. On the HD, the standard definition effects look pretty bad in spots. I guess you need to spend $150 million dollars to get the top shelf effects these days.

STORY

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PRESENTATION

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REWATCHABLE

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I’d watch The Rock read the phonebook, but if I’m going to free up a couple hours I’d rather spend it re-watching The Rundown or Walking Tall.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Steak 'n Shake Chicago Frank

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My last couple trips to Steak 'n Shake have been a bit odd. I'm no economist as Tony O. would attest to, but it seems to me that in this struggling economy, anything that's not McDonald's has been struggling a bit. It seems we've seen a lot of new fast food/quick service products lately. Arby's has those Roastburgers, Quizno's has those new Torpedos, and Wendy's has boneless chicken wings (that's another post). Steak 'n Shake has been really tweaking out it's menu lately and while I don't mind what it used to be, I can't say I'm complaining all that much about what it's become.

A few weeks ago, my family and I went and saw that they now have a little book on all the tables you can flip through showing their various shake specials and other food specials. There is a lot of great stuff that Steak 'n Shake is offering. So many great things, I whipped out my iPhone and started taking pictures. Bacon Cheese Fries, Hershey's Special Dark Syrup Milkshake, Guacamole Steakburger, and much more. I was a bit taken aback though when I got to the Steak Franks which were Steak 'n Shake's version of hot dogs. Seriously? It's just hot dogs. What's the big deal?

Then one more flip and there it was...CHICAGO-STYLE STEAK FRANK!!!


I already had my mouth set on a juicy Steakburger that night, but I strongly contemplated this. Part of me also was fearful that one of my favorite food items would not live up to my high standards. But the fact of the matter is, I have no options. If I want good, Midwestern food, here in the state capitol of Florida, Steak 'n Shake is about my only option. So for lunch today, I decided to splurge and grabbed myself one of these Chicago-Style Franks.


I figure the best way to review this is to look at the Periodic Table of Chicago Dog Elements and then come back at the end and give a summary about the whole thing.

1. Poppyseed Bun - Honestly, when it comes to a Chicago-style hot dog, this is the one area where I'm not a purist. I don't dislike the poppyseed bun, but the bun can be normal for all I care. Steak 'n Shake used a regular bun and that was fine with me.

2. Yellow Mustard - Yep, there was yellow mustard. Good amount, but not too much.

3. Chopped Onion - Again, chopped onions were present and there were a good amount.

4. Green Relish - To me, this was the key. More than the hot dog itself, this element had to be correct. It's not enough to just have relish, Chicago-style hot dogs have to have the bright green relish that is only found in the Midwest...and apparently at Steak 'n Shakes across the country. Perfect. The only downside is that there probably was a bit too much relish on this particular dog, but I can't imagine many Tallahassee patrons order this so maybe they saw this as an opportunity to unload some extra inventory.

5. Tomato Wedges - Here's where the formula starts straying, but I'll give them a pass on this one and the next one. Instead of thick wedges, they only put two half slices of tomatoes on the dog. I get that they're working with what they have. Even their salads traditionally have tomato slices from their sandwich topping station. I'd like to have had a bit more tomato on this, but it was okay.

6. Pickle Spear - Again, we're working with what they have. Instead of pickle spears, the dogs had two (cut the long way) pickle slices. Could've have used more pickle, but again, I'll live.

7. Celery Salt - There was no visible evidence that there was celery salt and the dog didn't seem to have it, but if it was missing, it wasn't detrimental to the dog.

8. Sport Peppers - Two nice sized sport peppers were present. Another pleasant surprise.

9. Vienna Beef - Of course the Vienna Beef chart tells you you need their brand of hot dog on a Chicago-style dog. Probably, that what you'd ideally use. And you'd boil water, then dump the dog(s) into the water and let them cook for 20 minutes or so in the scalding hot water. Instead, the Steak Frank is an all-beef grilled hot dog. The dog is sliced nearly in half and then laid flat on the grill for cooking. Not a bad hot dog. I still wouldn't have ordered one without the Chicagoization of it, but good.

10. Ketchup - There was no ketchup on my dog which scores a ton more points in favor of Steak 'n Shake.

So, how was it all together? Please indulge me just a bit longer, I will tell you. A few years ago, I was in a particular situation for a long time that I didn't want to be in. It was during this time that my love for Chicago-style dogs grew. If you've been reading this blog for a while, or you know the Nerd Lunchers, you know of our fondness for Niro's Gyros. That place was awesome. For $3 and some change, I could drive a few blocks and get two Chicago-style dogs and a thing of thick-cut french fries. That cannot be beat. And in the midst of my situation, I would occasionally find moments of solace when I went and got lunch at Niro's. When I've gotten to eat Chicago dogs from Niro's during return trips, I find myself thinking about those times as I chow down. Fortunately, in spite of the situation I was going through, Chicago dogs are not ruined for me. I remember the feeling of escape and solace whenever I have a Chicago dog and I guess my judgment about one from a place other than Niro's hinges on whether or not I can get to those feelings. I will say that by the middle of the dog, I got there. And that was a good thing. Was this perfect? No. I'll give it a solid B though, maybe even a B+.

Thank you, Steak 'n Shake for giving this guy in the deep south a chance to have a little taste from back home. Now, begin work on adding a gyro to your menu, please.

Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb.

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Say what you will about the 60s Batman movie and TV series. It was campy and silly and may have done more harm to the image of comics than good. That aside, it was occasionally peppered with wisdom. For example, this was my day yesterday:



I understand Batman, I completely understand.

Reimagining Doc Savage

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I've said some harsh things about SyFy's new Phantom reboot, but I have a couple of equally questionable pitches for my favorite pulp hero . . .

Pitch #1: The Smallville pitch

Clark Savage, Jr., age 22, is the best there is at what he does . . . and he does it all. An extraordinarily gifted athlete, scientist, and surgeon, he's just back from service in Afghanistan.
When his billionaire father is killed under mysterious circumstances, Clark and five incredibly talented friends launch a crusade against evil that will take them to the four corners of the earth and beyond...

So the hero comes of age, which is something we never saw in the Doc novels. Add a little "Alias" post-James Bond espionage, a little X-Files/Fringe conspiracy/paranormal, and a lot of Warren Ellis / Alan Moore kinda modern comic book science.

Primary supporting cast includes Monk and Ham, a couple of young officers he knows from the war (probably a nuclear/biological/chemical warfare guy, and a Harvard law grad turned intelligence officer, respectively). Maybe Cousin Pat, too?
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