Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Alien, American movie (1979)

Although the official part of my science fiction and horror theme month might be over (the requested reviews), the month it self definitely isn’t yet. And this is well, not a real request, but more something that came up in a conversation. I was talking to Lina the other day (No,not going to be doing a promo here again, you already all know how awesome she is. And if you don’t just press on the link and go follow her already. Whoops…still did a promo, sorry!) and at one point the conversation came to science fiction films. And how cool the movie that I am about to do a review for still is even after so many years. So, seeing as this is one of my all time favorites, and I was planning on writing this one anyway at some point, I figured I might as well do it now. And Lina wanted me to write this too, so there is that. It was the late 70’s when this film came out, and remember this was around the time when the first Star Wars movie had become an overnight success. Science fiction was a very hot property to have and movie studios had certainly discovered that. But audiences just weren’t prepared for the terrifying vision that director Ridley Scott had on this genre. In space no one might hear you scream….but in the movietheatres everyone could hear you scream!

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I know some people like to cover their eyes when going to sleep. This is a bit extreme though…..

In the darkness of space a large spaceship slowly comes into view. The camera moves inside the craft where lights and machinery is being turned on by the ship’s computer. Not only the ship is coming alive though, but also it’s human crew, that is being awakened from their cryosleep. The ship is called the Nostromo, and after having been in space for a very long time, it’s crew that includes Captain Dallas and Warrant Officer Ripley, were looking forward to finally heading back to Earth. But unfortunately they are not anywhere near their homeplanet. A transmission of some kind, maybe even a distress signal, has been picked up from the nearby planet designated LV-426. As per their company’s policy they are obligated to investigate any unknown signals. Using a shuttlecraft they descent towards the surface of the planet. When they finally make it to the ground a small team, under the command of captain Dallas, is leaving the shuttle behind to find out where the signal originated from. Meanwhile Ripley stays on board the ship trying to decipher the transmission. When she finally manages to uncover at least a part of it, she finds out it was not a distress signal, but a warning. However, that warning has probably come to late. For what they find on the desolate planet is something that has come straight out of the darkest pits of hell itself….

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Heeeeeerreeeee’s……Johny!!! Erm…no wait….

It doesn’t matter that this film is now almost 40 years old. Because it is still every bit as terrifying as when this was first released all those years ago. What we have here is a movie that might very well be one of the most claustrophobic horror films ever made. Right from the very start of the movie, when the letters of the word Alien begin to slowly make an appearance, the atmosphere for this film is pretty much set. It is a dark film, both in tone, but also in subject matter. One of the most memorable sequences ever created for film, and maybe even one of the most horrifying ones, is where the alien’s first form emerges in all it’s bloody glory on the screen. The reactions that you see at that point from the terrified cast were real. Ridley Scott never told them exactly what would happen at that scene when they filmed it. And even if he would have told them, I think they would still all have been shocked at the way it looked. Even today it is still horrible. The only reason I’m not going into any more details is because I don’t want to give away spoilers in case you might have not seen this one yet.

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In the future amusement park attractions have certainly come a long way.

The alien itself, designed by H.R.Giger, an artist from Switzerland that has sadly passed away, is a vision that seems to have been born straight out of the mind of a complete madman. It’s dark and sleek form, that can even be called very sexual in a disturbing kind of way, is one of the best movie monsters ever created. Director Ridley Scott has done a great job in not showing the monster right away, but just taking his time, building up to the reveal. It works perfectly. But when talking about Alien, it is not enough to only mention the cool set designs, the terrifying creature and terrific special effects. No…there is one other element that makes this film so great, and that is actress Sigourney Weaver. In her role as Ripley she created the most iconic female character to ever make an appearance in a science fiction movie. She is totally bad ass. Ripley is not only a strong figurehead for women all over the world, she is a character that personifies the word girlpower. Yes she is scared, who wouldn’t be when faced with such a terrifying creature. But she doesn’t cower in a corner: she takes the lead, and does something about it. And by doing that she more than gives the men in this film a run for their money.

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I’ve got some thinking to do here. Will I go shopping tomorrow? Or kick some aliens behind?

The rest of the cast of characters in this film also do a great job in their respective roles, especially actor Ian Holm who plays the sinister character of Ash. And yes, trust me when I say that he becomes very sinister indeed. I could go on talking about this film all day. Don’t worry I won’t be doing that as this review is already getting pretty long. Alien is simply one of those rare films that, just like the Xenomorph itself, is simply the perfect organism. It’s a timeless film, that doesn’t feel dated even for a single second. Okay, maybe the spaceship scenes don’t look as great anymore as they did back in the days. But seriously I’m really nitpicking now. Well..and now there is a question that needs to be answered, right Karandi? Is this film better than it’s sequel? Sorry…I’m not going to answer that one just yet. I will though….soon…in the review for Aliens that will be coming up somewhere next week (yes…I am evil that way). As for this film: see it! That’s pretty much all I can say about it. It is one of the most powerful science fiction horrormovies ever made, and I absolutely love it!

I give Alien a 10 out of 10 score.

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March Theme Reveal: Anime

Goodmorning, goodafternoon , goodevening, or maybe even goodnight! No idea when you are reading this post ofcourse, but I always try to be polite. So, we are already at the halfway point of February, and that means it is time to reveal the theme for next month. A few of you already knew about this (because really I am terrible at keeping secrets), but for those of you that didn’t yet know or for some reason missed the title of this post: it’s anime! I’m very excited for this month, for not only is it a theme that is very close to my heart, it’s also because if all goes well I have some collab posts lined up that I am really looking forward to. Just like last month I am going to ask you for some help again. For this month I am going to be reviewing two animes that will be selected by you the readers. And yes…..there are again a couple of rules for this. Ugh….I know I hate them too. But let’s get them over with, shall we?

The Rules

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Ughhhh…rules? Again? This is getting so annoying!

Well, don’t worry I’m not going to make them very tough again, so here goes:

  • The anime must either be on Crunchyroll or Netflix (please bear in mind that I live in Holland, so not every show might be available to me. If it isn’t I ofcourse will let you know, so you are able to choose another one)
  • The anime must have a maximum length of 12-13 episodes (It can be a first season, if it has that number of episodes)
  • Any genre of anime is allowed, except full on comedy series (sorry, I just don’t like that genre and would not even know how to write a review for that)
  • Leave your choice for the two animes in the comments section
  • You can leave a comment on this post up until the 25th of February
  • The two animes that will be selected will be revealed on the 1st of March and just like last month I am going to use a random number generator to determine who has won
  • The two bloggers that have won will get an honorable mention on my blog

That’s it! Pretty simple huh? As always I want to thank you for your help, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you are going to come up with. Rest assured for the people that are not into anime, there will still be other content as well such as movie reviews and hopefully another Korean drama series. See you on the next post!

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Okay, let’s get out of here!

 

Starship Troopers, American movie (1997)

Can you believe it? This is already the final requested review for my Science Fiction & Horror theme month. But that doesn’t mean that this is the end of the month itself though. There are still some reviews coming up, one that is kind of a request as well, but I don’t want to give that one away yet. (Although there is probably one person reading this that knows what I am talking about). Now, this review was requested by someone that I really think the world of and is truly special. I am talking about the astonishing Dani who has a blog that focusses on books. Even if you don’t like books, I still urge you to follow her anyway though. You know how some people can have a rough time in their lives, but still triumph in the end? Dani pretty much wrote the book on that. She is a powerhouse of a woman, that just spreads so much happyness and joy around with her reviews and comments, that you cannot help but smile. And considering all that she has been through, that is something that still amazes me to no end. My respect for her is enormous. Her positive attitude is something inspiring and if this hasn’t convinced you to follow her now, go and check out her amazing blog and you will know what I mean. Dani, my amazing and kindhearted beautiful friend, as you are so fond of saying: you rock! This review is for you!

The review

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Hey look, it’s a giant erm….🤔🤔🤔

 

Yes, we humans are at it again. In the 23rd century we begin colonizing new planets and wouldn’t you know it, we of course encounter a hostile alien species. Well, at least we know that we humans are always very peaceloving beings right? So what do we do when we encounter something that is hostile? We of course squash it. And in this case that term is pretty relevant as this hostile alien race are a bunch of bugs. Only not the kind that you can trample underfoot. No, I’m talking about big giant bugs that are as big as houses, and a few that are even bigger than that. These Arachnids, as they become known, are hellbent on destroying our beautiful planet, and so we go to war! But for a war one usually needs soldiers. The Federation is the organisation that governs the Earth and in order to gain citizenship that grants special privileges one can for instance, enlist in the military. John “Johny” Rico decides to become a soldier against his parents wishes. His girlfriend Carmen Ibanez and one of his best friends, Carl Jenkins soon join him in the Federal Service, together with Isabelle Flores (who secretly has a crush on Rico….awwwww). One of their first missions will sent them to the heart of the Arachnid race, their homeplanet Klendathu. And this is ofcourse going to be a peace of cake right? Erm…wrong. Soon John is about to find out that the human invasion force might have bitten of more than they can chew……

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Taking selfies in the future can be very hazardous to your health.

Starship Troopers was directed by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, who is responsible for such science fiction classics as Total Recall and Robocop. And most people that know his style will probably also know that he really isn’t one to handle things in a very subtle way so to speak. Extensive use of gore and sex/nudity are certainly some of his trademarks. One only has to watch Basic Instinct and you will get the picture. And this movie definitely isn’t an exception. In a pretty controversial scene we get a number of the male and female soldiers all taking a shower together, and yes they are naked. One has to wonder if this was a scene that was purely added to shock audiences or if it served any kind of purpose. But we have a film here that also is meant, in part at least, as a satire. The “benovelent” Federation, is little more than an institution that sends young people into a meatgrinder. But the way that is done, the propaganda it uses in for instance television commercials, is at times quite hilarious.

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Iron Fist is in this film as well? That is so awesome!

Another thing that one has to note is the actors that are being used in the roles of soldiers. Casper van Dien, Denise Richards and Patrick Muldoon are all way to pretty to be playing at Gi-Joe/Gi-Jane. But this was also clearly the intention of Paul Verhoeven. The acting in this film is quite atrocious. It’s so wooden at times that there are some scenes that become unintentionally funny. But in amongst the youngsters are luckily a few veterans such as Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown. Both of them have some fun parts in playing veteran soldiers that work as drill instructors, that try to get the new men and women into shape. Casper van Dien plays the hero of the movie, John “Johny” Rico (seriously who came up with that name), and he is just likeable enough to carry you through the film. Actress Dina Meyer’s character Isabelle, is one of the characters that you will like the most. She plays the tough woman soldier that kind of kicks ass, but also has a weakness, her love for Johny.

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Hi! Now I am here to give you some make up tips before you head off to war.

But where this movie excells at is the fights against the Arachnids. While I am not quite convinced by the special effects they used for the shots in space , they more than make up for this in the way they depict the bugs. Usually with films like these you see the monsters in total darkness. Here though, we get fight sequences in full daylight, that not only look enormously convincing, but are also highly entertaining. The multiple different species of Arachnids are definitely the highlight of this film. The fights are bloody and very gory, and we get to see people that literally get torn apart by these nasty critters. As such it is definitely not a movie that is for the faint of heart, or when you are easily shocked by violence. But, it has to be said, this is a war movie. And even though we are of course talking about a fictional war against an inhuman species, it’s still a war. And war is never pretty, no matter which way you look at it. And this comes across perfectly as Starship Troopers doesn’t pull any punches on that front.

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You have a metal hand? That is just disgusting. Get away from me!

So is Starship Troopers a film that is worth seeing? Well…..hell yes! I’m not going to lie here, this won’t be a film that pleases everyone. There is enough stuff in this film that probably will have some people raise their eyebrows, especially considering the acting involved and the extensive use of excessive gore and violence. But if one is willing to look beyond that, and enjoy the film for what it is, you will have a blast. This is just a solid peace of sciencefiction action film making, with cool creatures and some incredibly well made special effects fight sequences. Considering this film is now over 20 years old (seriously where does the time go), it is one of those nice and cool cultclassics, that will always be fun to watch. And I also like the fact that this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously either. Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to go find me some bugs to squash. Naw….not really. Unless they are wasps that is…..

I give Starship Troopers a 8 out of 10 score.

Competition time!

Yes people, the moment that you have all been waiting for has finally arrived! As most of you know a short while ago I reached  1000 followers. I’m still pretty much completely in awe by that, but to celebrate I also promised that I would be having a competition in order for you to win some cool stuff. And now, it’s time to finally do that. Before we get into the rules for this (yes I know, horrible, there are rules again) I’m thinking you would probably like to know what you can win right? Well, you have the chance to win one of three different prizes. As I run a multi topic blog, I have decided to give away one prize in three of the categories on my blog. So without further ado, let’s go see what these goodies are!

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I have been thinking about giving away some kind of boxed set of dvds but with the regional codes that might not be such a good idea. So instead I ordered a Mikasa figure from Attack on Titan. You can see her on display down here. The one thing I am extremely disappointed in was the fact that it got delivered to me without a box. So, really my apologies in advance for that. The figure itself however is intact and looks pretty freaking awesome if you ask me.

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Pretty bad-ass isn’t she? 

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As with the Anime category I decided not to give away dvds because of regional codes, but I did order something cool that movielovers would probably enjoy as well. Last year I read a terrific making of book of one of the coolest movie franchises ever: Back to the Future. You can read my review for it right here. It was an awesome book to read, and in case you are wondering: no, this is not my own copy that I am giving away here. All of these prizes are brand spanking new items.

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Well…as you can see I now have two copies of this book: so the new one might become yours! 

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Last but not least I am delighted to present to you a prize that grants you the opportunity to read one of my most beloved fantasy epics: The Dragonlance Chronicles. Did you ever wonder where my Blogname came from? Well…Raistlin is a book character that came from the pages of these books. He is one of my all time favorite characters, and if you read the novels you will find out why. I am very happy that I was able to track down a very rare edition for you guys that collects the first 3 novels in one beautiful tome.

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Even I don’t own this copy….I might keep this myself. Kidding of course!

The rules

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Rules? Really? Do I have to write these down as well?

Yes…I know why are there rules? Well, can’t have a competition without some form of rules right? So what am I going to ask of you? Do you need to sharpen your swords for gladiator combat? Do I want you to take place in a marathon? Perform in a live Karaoke show? Do some mud-wrestling? Erm….no…no worries. I’m a simple guy, so I am going to keep it very simple for you all:

  • As this is a celebration of my reaching 1000 followers, you can only participate if you were following my blog before the 23rd of January 2018 (I reached the 1000 follower mark on the 22nd).
  • You can only choose one category in which you want to participate.
  • Participating is easy: just leave a comment below this post telling me in which category you wish to win.
  • You can only leave one comment. Duplicates are not allowed.
  • You can leave a comment up until the 28th of February at which point the competition will close.
  • The winners will be determined by the random number generator (the one I also used for my current theme month).
  • I will announce the winners on the 9th of March (Which coincidentally is my birthday, and there is nothing better than giving away presents on your birthday)

And…that’s it. That’s not too hard right? For those of you that have started following me after the 1000 followers mark, rest assured there will be another competition somewhere in the future. So I hope you don’t feel too left out, because I really appreciate everyone that reads my posts, leaves a like or a comment in some form or another. I will leave you now with saying good luck if you are going to be entering this, and I hope that the prizes are to everyone’s liking. Thanks for reading and see you on the next post !

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Now…..fight! 😂😂😂

 

Pacific Rim, American movie (2013)

Hello everyone, it’s time to get things kicking into high gear with another movie review. This one will be the first science fiction film review for the current Theme month and it was requested by Bizarre Brunette. Now, if you don’t know who she is yet, I suggest you quickly take a trip over to her blog as I am pretty sure she will appreciate it. I came across her blog somewhere last year and I really love the content it contains. She covers a very diverse amount of topics with posts about boardgames, novels, comic books, real life, tv-series, and the list just goes on and on. Needless to say, it is a blog that is well worth checking out, as it has something in it for everyone. And just like most bloggers, she is also a very kind person who always responds to your comments. So head on over there and start reading her posts! Bizarre Brunette has requested a review for the awesome blockbuster Pacific Rim that was directed by the talented director Guillermo del Toro. It is a movie that I myself love very much as well, and when I rewatched it for this review I think it must now be the fourth or fifth time that I have seen the film. So, all systems go: let’s get started on the review!

The Review

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Row, row, row your boat…gently down the, erm…robot?

One day an enormous and monstrous creature arises from the ocean depths and begins to wreak havoc on humanity. After a long and bloody struggle that left thousands dead, the monster, that gets nicknamed Kaiju, is finally defeated. But just when everyone thinks it’s over, another Kaiju arrives, and then another, and another….With every passing day the human race struggles to stay upright against these monsters. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Former differences are set aside and everyone in the world bands together to create a new weapon system: The Jaegers. These giant robots that are piloted by two people, are finally beginning to turn the tide and humanity is slowly starting to win the war. Or so they think. The terrible aliens are quick to adapt and more powerful and deadly Kaiju’s start appearing, and slowly but surely the Jaegers are beginning to lose ground. Twelve years after the first monster appeared, the funding for the Jaeger program has stopped and instead money has been put into building giant walls. But this plan seems pretty futile. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Marshal Stacker Pentecost is in command of the final four remaining robots. He has a plan that might put an end to the alien threat once and for all. But he will need the help of the former Jaeger pilot called Raleigh. But Raleigh has a severe trauma from his past, and is very reluctant to help out. And with the attacks of the Kaiju becoming ever more frequent, humanity’s dusk seems close at hand……

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Looks like he drew the short end of the stick…..yeah better move on I guess.

Okay, I’m not going to be very subtle in this review so let me just come out and say it right here and right now: I freaking love this movie. It has the word “geek” written all over it, and as I am geek myself and very proud to be one, it is hard to be objective for a film like this. I often hear people say that films such as these are trash and are not even worthy of the name movie. As you all know I love films, but I also have a very open mind when it comes to the type of movies that I watch. I can find enjoyment in arthouse movies, classic films and yes blockbusters such as these. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a movie that isn’t overly complicated but has enormous entertainment value. And this one has just that. It certainly isn’t without it’s flaws, that’s for sure. But before I get to that let me first focus on the things that I love in this movie. For one thing it has giant robots that make the very ground shake, beat the crap out of gigantic alien monstrosities. It is Del Toro’s loveletter to the anime genre known as mecha, that usually features robots piloted by humans fighting either each other or some kind of other threat.

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Look mum, I finally made it on tv!

And boy or boy are these fights fun to watch. In one of my favorite scenes from the film, we have the giant lead robot known as Gypsy Danger fight a Kaiju using a ship as a club. It doesn’t get much better than that. The special effects in this film are astounding and the absolute highlight of this film. But how about the actors? We have a pretty impressive cast that amongst others, features the always charming Idris Elba and Charlie ” Sons of Anarchy”  Hunnam in the lead roles. Idris plays the charismatic Marshal Pentecost and is the driving force in this film. He is calm under fire, has a really commanding presence, and is very protective of the young Japanese woman called Mako. His bond with her is very touching, especially when you learn exactly why he is so protective of her. Charlie plays the brash pilot Raleigh, and while I certainly would not call it on Oscar winning performance it gets the job done. Just like Elba he has a very natural charisma in the way he acts, and that’s why it’s hard not to grow attached to his character. Also be on the lookout for a very hilarious appearance by actor Ron Perlman, who in this film has the best pair of shoes ever seen in a motion picture.

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Get to the chopper!!….whoops…wrong movie.

But yes, I did promise to at least try and stay objective in this review. So, I guess I now have to adress the fact that as mentioned the film also has it’s flaws. There at times is some cringeworthy humor in the movie. Humor is of course a very personal thing, but there were times I just had to roll my eyes at certain scenes. But on a good note, it luckily is nowhere near as bad as in the Michael Bay Transformers movies. Then again if there is anything even worse than the “humor” in those movies, I really don’t want to know. The script of the film admittedly does have a few holes in it. The storyline such as it is, pretty much comes down to having the film move forward from fight sequence to fight sequence. But to be fair, there is also a human element in this film, that definitely creates a kind of heartwarming atmosphere so to speak. Which is saying something as it at certain points is also a very bleak and dark movie.

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I’m blue, laba di laba da…..

But, despite all that, at the end of the day this is just a fun filled movie. The Jaegers and Kaiju beating the living daylights out of each other is pretty much the sole reason why you should see this film. The other one being the fun characters that really also create a heart in this movie that goes along with all the special effects. If you like your films to have a deeply layered storyline, it is probably very wise to avoid this one. If you are like me though, and you want to keep your inner child alive, this is the movie to do that with. Later this year the sequel for this film will be arriving in theatres. Having seen the trailer for it I honestly have to admit I don’t get the same vibe from it as this one. It looks like it’s going to be more of the same, only a little bit less impressive. But then again I could be wrong. You can definitely expect a review from me for part 2 later this year. For now though I hope you enjoyed this one!

I give Pacific Rim a 9 out of 10 score.

February’s Theme: Science Fiction & Horror movies

Can you believe it? The first month of the year is already over. Time sure does fly when you are having fun right? But with January now being a thing of the past (though I am pretty sure it will return next year), this means we now have a new month to get through. And a new month, means a new theme for my blog. In January I already let you know what that theme would be, namely science fiction and horror movies. But that’s also because I needed your help. You might recall that I asked you all to let me in on which movies you would like me to review. A lot of you gave me some awesome suggestions, and now the time has arrived to decide which ones would be the winners. So how did I set about in doing this? I of course consulted a number of the most scientific and inventive minds our world has to offer. Erm…sorry to disappoint but no, not really. Let’s find out how I did decide and then ofcourse which ones have made the cut so to speak.

Total Randomness

Now I did not really use rocketscience people. In fact it was all done in a very basic way. I  made two lists from all of your comments, one for the horror movies, one for the science fiction movies. Each comment got a number, and after buying a random number generator from the Appstore, I let fate decide on the winners.

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The horrormovie list! With 26 movies to choose from.
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The science fiction movie list! With 28 movies to choose from.

So….who has won? Well, let’s find out shall we?

And the winners are……(horrormovies)

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The random number generator selected number 9 and number 14 from this list. Number 9 was a suggestion from Vinnieh and will go down in history as the oldest movie that I have ever reviewed on my blog: The Haunting from 1963. The second number, being 14 was a choice made by Shadowcat99 namely the Stephen King adaptation It from 1990.

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And the winners are……(science fiction movies)

imageFor the science fiction movielist we get two numbers that were next to each other. The first, number 22 was a suggestion by Bizarre Brunette the epic Pacific Rim. The number 21 that was selected next, was chosen by Dani being the Paul Verhoeven classic, Starship Troopers.

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In closing

Congratulations to the winners! I hope that the reviews I’m going to write for your choices will live up to your expectations. And, each review will also as promised contain an honorable mention, which means a small promo from me about your blogs as a thank you for participating in this event. Just like last month, the theme will not be the only thing that is going to be happening on my blog. There will also be plenty of other content heading your way for some anime, another Korean dramaseries and hopefully a book review as well. I’m looking forward to another cool month of blogging. Thank you all for reading, see you around!

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Sorry could not resist in scaring you a little bit. My apologies…😈😈😈

 

 

Thrawn, a Star Wars novel by Timothy Zahn (2017)

With the movie the Return of the Jedi that was released in 1983, the first Star Wars trilogy was finished. And many people at the time thought that would be the end of things. The popularity of the franchise started to wane, and slowly but surely people began to lose interest. But then nine years later Star Wars got noticed again, this time not because of a new movie, but by a novel written by Timothy Zahn called Heir to the Empire. It would be the first of a new trilogy of books that chronicled events that took place after Return of the Jedi. It became a huge succes. Not only was it an amazing story, but it also introduced a couple of new characters that became fan favorites, even though they had never been seen before in a movie. The most notorious of these was Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue skinned alien Chiss, was a military genius that almost brought the New Republic to it’s knees. After this first trilogy a huge range of novels were made that took the story even further. This became known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

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The original cover to the book that introduced Thrawn.

This was all before the Dark Times…before the Empi…erm, Disney. When they took over Lucasfilm, and revealed plans to make a new trilogy of movies taking place after Episode VI, something had to be done about the Expanded Universe. And something was done to it: it was declared non-canon. In other words all the characters, worlds and events created within those books were no longer part of the official Star Wars timeline. A lot of fans, including me, were not very happy with that. But two years ago, something happened that brought a smile to the faces of many people that loved those books: Thrawn was brought back. This time he was reintroduced as a new adversary in the Star Wars cartoonseries Rebels. And just like that Thrawn was canon again. Last year the original creator of Thrawn, writer Timothy Zahn, wrote a new book about the legendary character. It was, needless to say, highly anticipated. But as with most things that you look forward to, it very rarely lives up to all the things you expect.

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Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels. 

This novel explores the origin of Thrawn and tells the tale of his quick rise to power through the ranks of the Empire. Thrawn is first found as a young man, seemingly abandoned by his people. An Imperial team is impressed by his cunning and tactical genius, and decide to give him a chance to prove himself. Thrawn takes on the young ensign Eli Vanto as a translator and together with him, begins his training. But a lot of high ranked people don’t take kindly to having an alien in their ranks and would like to see him fail. Meanwhile on the planet Lothal a ruthless administrator called Arihnda Pryce is also making plans to expand her power. Eventually the two will cross paths. Where Thrawn is skilled in military tactics, Pryce is more than his match on the battlefield of politics. But when threats against the still unstable Empire begin to appear all over the galaxy, Thrawn faces a new adversary that might become his downfall. Especially when this opponent seems to be two steps ahead of him at every turn…..

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Yup….Arihnda Pryce was also featured in Rebels. She doesn’t look very happy about it though. 

Thrawn became a very different novel than I expected it to be. I had hoped for a very tense and exciting book, with an interesting origin story of the Grand Admiral. In part it delivers this, but the other part was well, quite frankly a bit boring. We get a story that focusses a lot on internal politics. As I am not a huge fan of politics in the first place, I felt that these chapters slowed the story down to a crawl. We also get a lot of secondary characters thrown into the mix, that just get introduced but then, at least most of them, don’t really do anything. But what of Thrawn himself? The character that many loved so much in the brilliant original trilogy of books that introduced him feels…different. It’s still Thrawn, that can’t be denied, but at the same time it’s not. Of course Zahn had to reinvent the character and as such has had to make some changes. But still, this is not the same Thrawn that was such an amazing villain. And that is the part that disappointed me the most.

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Yes, he is looking at you. Are you scared yet? 

Still, it is not a bad novel. There is small cameo appearance of a major character that will have most Star Wars fans whopping with joy. I also really liked the backstory of Arihnda Pryce who was at times even more cunning then Thrawn. Whether or not you will like this novel depends on a few things. If you like your Star Wars books to be full of action, big space battles and lots of tension, then I don’t think this is a novel you would enjoy. There are a few scenes like that, but mostly we get a book that focusses more on backstabbing officials and internal politics. As mentioned Thrawn is also not quite the character you are used to, but there are still flashes of his original brilliance throughout the book. Maybe the sequel to this novel, Thrawn: Alliances, that will be published this year, more of those flashes will make an appearance. All in all, Thrawn is an okay novel if you don’t expect too much from it.

I give Thrawn a 7 out of 10 score.

Girls und Panzer, Anime tv series (2012)

Have you ever found yourself wanting to write a post, but you just don’t quite know where to start? This is one of them. I always like to start my reviews with an introduction that in some way relates to whatever I am reviewing, but this one……I really am at a loss for words. I have promised to do a review for Girls und Panzer for a very long time, and now that the moment is finally there, I am stalling and buying time. And, not quite succeeding at that either, am I? So why is this so hard? Well….unless I am mistaking I don’t think there currently is a place in the world where the sport of Tankery is being held. What’s that: Raistlin writing a post on a sports anime? What kind of black sorcery is this?  As most of you might know: I absolutely hate sports, of any kind. I don’t practice sports, I don’t watch sports, and Ugh….I am rambling again. Anyways, if I could participate in a game of Tankery though: you can count me in. Phew. Well, I am finally past the starting point. Time to start the review in earnest….now, where do I start? Oh yeah, you would like to know what this show is about right?

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Yes, there really is a pink tank in this picture.

Girls und Panzer takes us to a world where World War II tanks are maintained to be used in the sporting event known as Tankery. In this brutal, but at the same time relatively safe competition, girls from different highschools fight each other on battlefields in order to reach the finals and claim victory. Miho Nishizumi is a girl that comes from a very prestigious family that has been practicing Tankery for many years. But in a previous competition something happened to Miho, that causes her to become traumatised and not wanting to continue practicing the sport. Having transferred to a new Academy school ship that she believes doesn’t have Tankery on their list of activities, Miho tries to pick up her life. On her first day at the new school she has already made some new friends, and really begins to believe that life is good again. But, little does she know that the school has added the sport she fears so much back on the roster. Eventually Miho, as the only one who has had any previous experience with Tankery, is pressured into helping the other school girls. Together with her new friends, Nishiszumi enters the competition where she will face a lot of new challenges. The biggest one being, coming to terms with the life she thought she had left behind….

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Sometimes it can be really hard to find a good parking space. 

There are times when you put on a show and literally after seeing the very first scene it just clicks for you. This is one of those shows. Girls und Panzer is a series that is just pure and simple fun. One of the things I love most about anime is the sometimes completely unique concepts it can come up with. I mean really, think about this for a second. How on Earth do you come up with a plot like this: cute highschool girls driving World War II tanks. But not only does it work, it is one of those animes that you can’t help but smile at. It’s really…well cute. And that’s weird for a series that has brutal tank battles in it. But let me just get that out of the way first. Girls und Panzer is a comedy series. In no way is all of this to be taken seriously. There is no blood, and nor are the girls ever in a real life or death battle. Ofcourse no sporting event comes without it’s risk of injury, and Tankery is no different. And yes people, you read that right, not only am I reviewing a sports anime, but it’s a comedy as well. Really, I must have been hit on the head or something.

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Let’s all join in dancing here! Because really that’s what you do in a battle!

Honestly though this is not a slapstick comedy. There are some really funny scenes, but it’s not the kind of humor that is cringeworthy. And that said, the highlight of this series is most certainly the sport of Tankery itself. The tank battles are seriously awesome to watch. Using computertechniques to bring them to life, they are the absolute highlight of this anime. You would think that at some point battles like that will become very tedious, but let me assure that is not the case. Every event is unique, and just like watching an exciting football match featuring your favorite team, you will really hold your breath each time Miho enters a new battle with her friends. You really want them to win, and when they do you will find yourself raising your fist in the air and shouting at the top of your lungs along with the fictional crowd. Erm, or maybe that is just me. Storywise, there really isn’t much more to it than the girls trying to reach the finals. There are a few subplots here and there, but overall the focus is on Tankery. In other animes that might get quite boring, but this anime never has that problem.

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Yes, military uniforms have certainly come a long way since the war. 

There is something that is a bit of a problem and that is the huge cast this series has. I am not kidding here, but this anime has over 50 different characters. While the focus is definitely on Miho and her friends, all the others make appearances in several episodes as well. It will probably not come as a very huge surprise to you that character development isn’t very high on the agenda. But to it’s credit, despite that fact, each character does have it’s own distinguishing marks. I, however did have some trouble in keeping some of the cast members apart from each other. With a cast this huge everyone will probably have a favorite, and for me that was Mako Reizei. It felt like she was continually sleeping through everything (well, she always had trouble getting up early in the morning), and her voice never gets excited even in the face of danger. This causes some very funny scenes, where for example the rest of the girls are going completely nuts, and she just keeps talking with her monotone voice.

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Some people take the order to fire a bit too literally. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the soundtrack. The background music at times sounds like the ones you had in old World War II movies, and it fits this anime perfectly. Together with the world that is created in this series, it manages to create a very unique experience. Girls und Panzer is an anime you need to watch when you want to take a break from all the heavy stuff. It is simply put a very charming show, that I pretty much dare you not to be entertained by. What it might lack in terms of storyline and character development, it more than makes up for in the excitement and fun factor. Unless you are a very cynical person that is completely devoid of any emotion, you will be put under it’s spell right from the beginning. Girls und Panzer has been a joy to watch, even though this is certainly a series that is miles away from the shows that I usually see. Panzer vor!

I give Girls und Panzer a 8 out of 10 score.

February’s Theme Reveal: Science Fiction & Horror movies

Helly everyone! As we are about halfway through the month of January, it’s time to reveal the upcoming theme for next month. As mentioned in my plans for this year, every month my blog will be focussing on a different theme, that will get just a little bit more attention than all the other stuff. And as you can see above in the big black capital letters that are kind of hard to miss, next month the theme will be Science Fiction and Horrormovies. So why reveal this now, and not wait until the end of the month? Well, because this time I’m going to ask you for a bit of help. No it’s nothing serious, you don’t need to do any heavy lifting or homework. So what am I asking exactly?

The help question and the rules.

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There are rules for this? Are you kidding me here?

Next month I want to do at least four reviews for movies that are suggested by you the readers. Yes you! So how exactly does this work?

  • Leave a comment down below in this post for one or two movies that you would like me to watch and do a review for
  • It has to be a science fiction and/or horrormovie
  • It can be either an animated or live action movie, as long as it is in one of the categories that I mentioned
  • You can leave a comment with your suggestions until the 25th of January
  • I will then use a random number generator to pick four movies, two for each category
  • The movies that are going to be reviewed will be revealed on the first post for February
  • The bloggers whose choices got picked will get an honorable mention on my blog

Pretty simple and straightforward huh? I hope you will provide me with a few good suggestions, and of course thank you for the help. Looking forward to seeing what everyone is going to come up with!

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Xenoshyft Dreadmire, a boardgame for 1-5 players by Cool Mini or Not (2016)

In the time where I still played computergames, there was a certain type of mission that I always truly hated. I can tell you that many a controller almost died, when I let out my anger on that helpless piece of machinery. The type of missions that I am talking about, is the ones where you had to defend a base from a couple of waves of enemies. Usually there was a timer, and you saw that one advancing in agonizing slowness, while the health of your base dropped faster than you could even blink. Aagh, I get frustrated by even thinking about it. But we all know that anger can lead to the Dark Side (yes Master Yoda), so I’m pretty glad I don’t play computergames anymore. No, these days I am back to oldschool gaming. You know, those games that don’t use computers or controllers, otherwise also known as boardgames. Last year I purchased the excellent card/boardgame Xenoshyft Dreadmire. In this game for 1-5 players you have to defend your base from being overrun by alien enemies. Wait, what? Erm….that can’t be right? Can it?

Components

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Yup…it’s a pretty big box. 

This being a cardgame it is probably not going to come as a really big surprise that this game contains cards. And a lot of them as well. You will find close to 400 cards in this box, that feature the different types of enemies, troops, weapons and other stuff that you are going to be dealing with in this game. But these aren’t just any normal types of cards. No, you will find that the illustrations on these are serious works of art. The vile enemies that you will face in this game are absolutely disgusting and horrid creatures. And the illustrations that depict them are truly the stuff of nightmares. Also included are a couple of cardboard boards, on which you will place the cards as well as the troops to defend your base (more on that below). Rounding out the game are a couple of plastic tokens that you use to keep track of health and powers, and a rules booklet. (Well, duh …you do want to learn this game don’t you?). The rulebook is written very clearly and gives enough examples to learn you the game in basically no time at all. And if you have trouble remembering a rule, you can find it quite easily during gameplay. Besides the rather dull boards, the components are top notch, and awesome to look at.

Game overview

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Hey, I already said the artwork for this was amazing right?

This game is being described as a strategic base defense deck builder. That is quite a mouthful isn’t it? But it is not as hard as it sounds. This game takes place in a science fiction universe where the Nortec Corporation is trying to recover the very precious resource called Xenosathem. This being the ultimate energy source that powers weapons and basically provides unlimited power, it is a highly coveted commodity. But it also has a nasty side effect: it turns the indigenous lifeforms into horrifying monsters. Of course this doesn’t stop a greedy corporation from wasting precious human lives in order to recover this stuff. And that’s where you, the players come in. This game simulates one of those mining operations, where you have to defend the Nortec base from being overrun in a series of nine game rounds.

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Just a couple of the friendly neighbourhood creatures you will encounter.

Everyone starts of with a set of basic lowlevel cards. Some of these cards can be used to buy new troops and weapons in order to make your deck of cards more powerful. And that’s where the word deckbuilder comes into play. When everybody has bought their cards the “fun” begins. The troops and weapons you have purchased are placed on a player’s lane, and will be your first and only line of defense against the horrible creatures that are trying to destroy your base. Of course there is a limit to the number of troops and weapons you can place, and as such players have to think strategically what they are going to be using. When everything is placed, the enemies enter an opposing lane. There are three waves of enemies that players need to survive, and each wave consists of three rounds. So in other words players need to overcome nine rounds in order to win the game.

Each wave you can buy more powerful stuff, but the enemies also become stronger. After the enemies are placed combat begins. Enemies deal their damage to troops first, but when there are no troops left, the base gets damaged instead. The base has a certain amount of damage it can take, and when it’s down to zero, it’s game over. So that in a nutshell is how this game gets played. Pretty simple huh?

Difficulty

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Definitely not something you see every day…..

This game is quite easy to learn. Especially if somebody is around that has played the game before and can teach it to other players. But even if you play the game by yourself, it’s relatively easy to get the hang of it. It’s the winning part though, that is an entirely different matter. This game is brutal. I have played it solo for about 7 or 8 times now, and I have not won the game even once. The closest I got was to round 8. Even when I played the game together with other players, that was the highest result that I have so far managed to achieve. There is a luck factor in this game as well (some combinations of enemies are just so powerful that no matter how well you prepare, you can’t really do anything about it), but it also comes down to thinking a lot. And that’s what I really like about it. Figuring out certain combinations of cards that really work well and manage to achieve great results is just one of the fun things this game has in store for you.

The Verdict

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It goes without saying that it takes a while to put sleeves on these cards. 

Well, what can I say this game is awesome. Even though it is incredibly tough, and victory has still eluded me so far, I have had a truly fun time playing this game. The cards look amazing, and the mechanics of this deckbuilder work really well. Not only that, it provides a good challenge, and because of the sheer amount of cards included no two games are ever the same. This is a game for people who love science fiction, and also enjoy to use their brains in order to beat a game, and not just luck.

I give Xenoshyft Dreadmire a 9 out of 10 score.