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Cars 2 Spy Train Transporter
Cars 2 Spy Train Transporter
Offered by EDtoys
Price: $23.87
7 used & new from $15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Store your Cars and more, July 21, 2014
This review is from: Cars 2 Spy Train Transporter (Toy)
This is a pretty fun and useful toy for any of you who have kids with lots of toy cars. This is the train from the movie Cars 2. It only had a brief appearance on the film, but who wouldn't want a bullet train to play with? It's main claim to toyhood fame is the ability to store ten cars on the train. Five on the bottom and five on the top. There is a hinged ramp so the lower cars can "drive" in and out with ease. Once the lower cars are gone you flip a switch and have the cars on the top tier drop as the entire upper level becomes a ramp, zooming the cars down the lower ramp.Since the toy cars in the Cars series are a bit larger than your normal toy cars this train can easily store Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars as well.

As a toy itself you have a train with wheels that roll and a couple of missile that shoot out of the headlights. The wheels are a bit small and are plastic (no rubber) so they don't make for the greatest of wheeled vehicles out there. The missiles have to be inserted in a specific way or they will not work, or worse get jammed in the spring loading mechanism. So be mindful when you are loading up. While we are talking about limitations the switch that launches the upper level cars can also get twitchy and drop your cars when you don't want them to. This sort of thing seems to be the norm with Disney toys: fun toys, but questionable quality at times. Still all things considered you get a pretty useful and fun train.

Jackill's Guide to Light Attack Craft Volume 1
Jackill's Guide to Light Attack Craft Volume 1
by Eric Kristiansen
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Really cool... but not canon, July 16, 2014
Jackill's guides came about during a time when technical info for your favorite sci-fi show was in short supply. The fans had to quell their desire for more expansion to their favorite universes with role playing and video games. The Jackill guides collected as much information the writer can glean from various sources in order to create a set of comprehensive data books. This one relates to fighter craft and other small vehicles from or for the Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek franchises.

So here's the problem. A lot of info on this book isn't canon. Either this is because the franchises changed their details since 1993 on the ships in question or the source material itself was more speculative than confirmed. The Star Wars franchise is probably the most concise of all of them (and the one that had the most changes), and this Jackill's guide has some pretty significant portions of data wrong. Star Trek entries mostly entail ships that never shown up on any show or movie, and are thus considered non-canon (Paramount's rule of thumb is if it isn't confirmed in a movie or TV show it's not canon). Battlestar Galactica is a hard call because so little information has been published for the 1979 space opera. Still considering I see specific inaccuracies in the content it's hard to say any of it is official, plus by the artist's own admission states some designs are completely his own.

The artwork looks really, really good. This is especially true when you consider it was done using MacDraw II. There are issues with dimensional accuracies with ships having stumpy wing spans compared to what we know it should be. However scale seems pretty spot on, and the level of detail is impressive.

This is essentially a fan made book that has a lot of well thought out information. Some of the information is confirmed accurate, while a good deal more is not. If you are mainly in it for the art or blueprint style drawing inspired by these science fiction classics then this is definitely a worthwhile buy. If you are looking for something completely official to the franchises then you may need to pass this one up.

STARCHASER: The Legend of Orin - Original Soundtrack Recording
STARCHASER: The Legend of Orin - Original Soundtrack Recording
Price: $14.66
7 used & new from $6.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to see a forgotten movie get a soundtrack release, July 16, 2014
Starchaser was a beloved film of mine back in the day. I missed it during its very brief run in the theaters (thus missing the 3D action), but did catch it on VHS and loved it. I got the DVD as soon as it was released and loved it too. Now they have released a soundtrack CD of the movie, which is surprising considering the limited audience this film ended up having. What you have here is an extensive track list of the music directly from the movie. There were no songs from popular artists on this film so all you get here is the incidental music used to heighten the emotion of a scene.

As such this soundtrack is really only for people who enjoy listening to incidental music. There isn't much in the way of melodies and catchy orchestral themes on this soundtrack. The main theme can be found peppered through a few tracks like the Main Theme, Welcome Aboard, and the End Credits. It's a catchy theme, however it's a soundtrack tune which doesn't seem fit for radio airlplay and the like. If I had to pick favorites (music that is more like a proper song) then I would single out the opening and end themes as well as Sky Chase (one of the few all synth tracks... I have a soft spot for that kind of sound). Again this is an album for fans of strictly soundtrack music.

The music was done by the London Studio Symphony Orchestra with a small spattering of late 70's-early 80's style synthesizers on a few songs. This orchestra is a smaller one compared to other ones you have heard from soundtracks like Star Wars or 2001. It's not a tiny orchestra either, however those of you familiar with the music will notice it doesn't quite the same grand scale sound you would expect from a bigger budget production. Considering Starchaser wasn't a big budget production I applaud them for having the sizable orchestra they did use instead of going the cheap route musically.

I would call this album mostly for fans of the film and fans of the orchestral soundtrack type of music. It's a great piece of nostalgia for those of you who saw the movie. The rest of you should check out the audio clips (and ignore the obvious mp3 ripping errors) and decide for yourself.

S.S.R.N. Seaview Technical Manual
S.S.R.N. Seaview Technical Manual
by Frederick Barr
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $49.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forget the 1993 edition, July 15, 2014
Please note that there are separate editions of the Seaview Technical Manual. This one is the one published in 1993. It has 40 pages filled technical details and artwork for the ships in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea television series. It's a good book in its own right, but it is now completely overshadowed by a new edition that sports over 80 pages of content including new art and new research that makes this newer book a more accurate representation of the show's technology.

The newer book looks almost exactly like the original, except on the top it says, "Newly Revised and Expanded". Some of the new content includes two full color posters (28" x 19") of both the original and refitted Seaview. One side of the poster has exterior art while the other side has the interior. The new edition also has artwork for compartments and equipment not mentioned in the previous version as well as a lot more info on interior details, entries for the development and mission of each of the vehicles on the show. Over 20 blueprints on this addition.

If you are a fan of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and love to learn more about all the cool subs and technology then DON'T get the older technical manual. The newer manual has everything the old one does only updated and with twice the content.

With This Ship (Joe Hardy Remix) (Joe Hardy remix (radio edit) )
With This Ship (Joe Hardy Remix) (Joe Hardy remix (radio edit) )

4.0 out of 5 stars Soft, then powerful track, July 14, 2014
The Joe Hardy remix takes the song into different territory while at the same time being very true to the original mix. The song starts off pretty mild and mellow with a slightly understated swing rhythm. It stays there for a while, however by the time you get to the climax of the song everything falls into place with powerful drums and backing instruments that give the song a very strong anthem feel to it. There are a lot more synthesizers on this mix, but it doesn't play like an electronic song, but more like a rock tune.

I really like this song because of the dynamic between the soft and very powerful. By the time you get to the end it feels like you road a really wild ride sonically. This is another recommended remix from the band. This is actually the full mix and not the radio edit as eluded to, and I prefer it to get the full effect.

With This Ship (Mister Speed Remix) (Joe Hardy remix )
With This Ship (Mister Speed Remix) (Joe Hardy remix )

5.0 out of 5 stars Strikingly impressive and wildly veers off the song's original course, July 14, 2014
It's rare to hear a remix take a song and change in such a way that makes it practically unrecognizable while at the same time creating a whole new and exciting version. The original version of this song is a rock tune with a lot of unique interplay with the instruments that make it a very creative sounding tune. "Mister Speed" took this song, tore it apart and rebuilt it into a powerful electronic dance track. The vocals have been repurposed so that what was once the chorus is now the verse. The guitars are taken away and in place is a driving bass line and a straight dance beat that is perfectly accentuated by some of the more powerful drum parts from the original version.

In the end what you get is a really catchy dance tune that sounds very, very different from it's core version. The chord progression was been simplified drastically in order to accomplish this, however the right kind of editing of the vocal and instruments give the song plenty of variation to work with. In my opinion this is the best remix by far of this song. If you are an EDM fan you must pick this up!

Ong Bak Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Ong Bak Trilogy [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Tony Jaa
Price: $17.92
29 used & new from $10.83

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just a repackaging of previous Blu-Rays, July 11, 2014
Ong Bak was a movie that took the martial arts world by storm. The insane stunts, dynamic camerawork and all around fresh look made this the movie to watch for martial arts fans. Two more movies followed with varying levels of success that never quite equaled the original, but in the end all three were worth the look. Magnolia Home Entertainment collected all three movies and put them together into this single collection. They aren't even in slim cases; the same Blu-Rays that are sold separately are packages in this collection. Other than the fact you can get all three together there isn't anything special about this release. Here is the movie breakdown:

Martial arts movies generally focus more on the fighting choreography than any meaningful or complex storytelling. Ong Bak is no different. The first film was about a monk on a quest to recover the head of a prized statue that was stolen. The plot was just an excuse to have Tony Jaa get involved in impressive fight sequences, insane chase scenes, and all around impressive stunt work. The reason you want to see this movie isn't because you are drawn by the drama of a lone man's away from his element. You are watching it to see Tony's legs on fire (literally) beating up bad guys and slipping through obstacles a cat wouldn't dare.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning is set in medieval Thailand and is a revenge story where Tony Jaa is a prince avenging the slaughter of his family. The story starts off with him as a child and moves onto his development and training up until he takes on his family's killer. It's another story that is there only to facilitate the martial arts, but this one was a bit more thought into it. This movies feels like it has more fighting only because there are more enemies to fight. The stunts and choreography are still really cool, but didn't give me the same impact as the original movie.

The final film in this trilogy, Ong Bak3, The Final Battle, you have another revenge story. Jaa's family is killed (again), only this time he is taken captive and tortured. Then the story gets weird with lots of metaphysical stuff going on and a lot less butt-kicking. I would like to say this is the more interesting story of the three, but as a martial arts film it has the least of what Tony Jaa fans crave.

The first disk looks pretty dreadful compared to the other two. It's hard to take in that this is the best transfer they could have gotten from the film masters. I know for a fact Ong Bak was shot with 35mm film so I have no idea what the excuse is. I still enjoy watching it, but I am very hard pressed to say it's high definition. The other two looks a lot better, but not exactly perfect. There is a bit of artificial enhancements, but if that's the trade off for a much better picture I can't complain much at all.

Audio for the first movie isn't bad, but doesn't really take advantage of the surround sound environment. The other two movies had a better budget, thus better use of surround in my opinion. The list of special features for each disk isn't half bad. I haven't viewed all of them, but I will give you as much as I can:

Disc 1:

The Movements of Muay Thai - Short, but extremely sweet exhibition of various Muay Thai moves you see in the film.

French Rap Music Video with Tony Jaa - Rap group Tragedie and Tony Jaa in a music video with clips from the film peppered throughout.

Making of Music Video - No making of feature for the movie, but you get one for the music video (what's up with that?!?!).

Selected B-Roll - Alternate shots from the notable scenes in the film. Actually a cool extra.

Promo Video Featuring The RZA - Kind of a funny commercial where a street fight is interrupted to talk about the movie.

Disc 2:

Alternate Cut - That's right. You get two versions of Ong Bak 2 on this disk. The alternate cut is about longer, but nothing really noteworthy. No additional fights or poignant exposition. Still not bad to get a chance to see the uncut version of the film.

The Story and Characters of an Epic - Basically an analysis of the various characters in the movie. Didn't really learn anything new watching this.

Revealing the Majesty - A look at the coolest action scenes in the movie. Particularly the elephant surfing stunt (you have to see to believe).

The Art of War - The making of focuses on the various martial arts featured on the film.

Capturing a Warrior - Video footage of the fight choreography.

The Kingdom - Production info and comments.

The Community - Behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Interviews with Cast and Crew - All the major players have interviews in this featurette. One of the longer features in the disc.

HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 2 - Robert Wilonsky does a promotional segment for HDNET for the movie, and you get to see it here.

Disc 3:

Ong Bak 3: The Making of a Legend - A rather sedate collection of interviews from cast and crew. Not exactly enlightening.

Behind the Scenes: Uncovering the Action - Raw filming of a couple action sequences. Pretty interesting one, but even at about six minutes it starts to feel long.

Interviews with Cast and Crew - Like the previous disk you get interviews from the principal cast and crew.

HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 3 - Also similar to disc two this is another HDNET promo piece.

If you are looking for a convenient way to get all three Ong Bak movies at a decent price this is the way to go. Considering how much the first movie is going for these days this can become a pretty sweet way to build your collection. If you are looking for a remaster of the original film you may have to wait a bit longer. If you really like Ong Bak you may also want to check out Tom-Yum-Goong (essentially the same story, but different crazy stunts). Ong Bak is an impressive martial arts foray, even if it's a bit flawed.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2014 6:39 AM PDT

Travel Without the Tardis (Doctor Who)
Travel Without the Tardis (Doctor Who)
by Jean Airey
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from $0.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More for the collector than for the traveller, July 8, 2014
Here is the publisher's summary of the book:

"Do you know where the Fourth Doctor was tied to a post waiting for the Kraal's bomb to explode in The Android Invasion? Or where the BBC went to film the Zygons' spacecraft rise from the waters of Loch Ness? Or where the village of Devil's End from The Dćmons can be found? Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman have scoured the length and breadth of Great Britain in search of the film locations of many of the Doctor's extraordinary adventures in space and time. In doing so they have unearthed a wealth of fascinating information about the filming of the world's longest-running science fiction TV show. So if you've ever wondered where the planet of Telos really is, or what race of aliens lived in the caves of Wookey Hole, then Travel Without the TARDIS will prove to be an indispensable guidebook."

This interesting little piece of Who literature delves into the on-location shots from the Doctor Who series up until the mid-1980's. So what you have are two American Doctor Who fans and authors who took a two week junket to England to cover as many of the various places Dr. Who was shot as possible and chronicle the adventure. Some people might look at this as a travel guide, but it's not really the best source on HOW to get to these places (one famous reference on how to get to Leeds Castle involves a train ride going the wrong direction). It's more a collection of anecdotes from the various locations that show the differences between American and British culture along with some of the customs of the day.

A Doctor Who completist will want this book, but as a travel guide it is weak and a bit outdated. Doctor Who Magazine made some nicer and more up to date travel guides, and these days you can probably find info online as well. Please note if you plan on getting it for your collection that some early copies have pages 81 - 96 missing, so try and confirm if you can if these pages are on the copy you are going to buy.

Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning
Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning
DVD ~ Michael O'Hare
Offered by Solo Enterprises
Price: $20.00
45 used & new from $0.48

5.0 out of 5 stars A complete introduction to Babylon 5, June 30, 2014
Babylon 5 is a far reaching science fiction series that captivated a surprisingly supportive audience. It is a show that spearheaded many innovations in television storytelling. First is the long story arc as Babylon 5 have a complete storyline that spanned the entire five year series run (the series would only last five years because of this). It is also where computer animation got its foothold onto sci-fi television with some truly industry changing techniques. What you have here is two of the more notable specials from the franchise. The first is the telefilm and series pilot The Gathering, while the other is the TV movie In The Beginning. In a way both kind of bring the series full circle. Here is a description of the two:

The Gathering

It's an early development of the B5 story, and with that comes some growing pains as the show starts to get its footing. This feature takes place a year before the series starts. The story involves the opening of the Babylon 5 station, which is sort of a United Nations where different alien races can come together for diplomatic treaties. One final diplomat from an enigmatic and advanced race is arriving and was assaulted. From there a sort of crime solving mystery from there where the station commander is accused of committing the act and a little web of intrigue is spun from trying to find out the truth.

I remember watching this premier on TV and was smitten by the concept, story and various characters and technology. This show introduced a massive five mile space station complete with an internal arcology and levels upon levels of interesting sites. As an introduction it's really good, but when compared to other shows and films in the franchise it's the weakest. Not because it's a bad production, but as I said before this was to give the viewers a taste of what was to come. With that some more notable elements had changed as the show evolved. Some of the aliens will look different than they do in the series, and some elements shown here will not show up at all later on. Also there were casting changes too that makes this movie feel like a different animal.

This DVD is actually a different version than the one that originally aired on television. The computer animation was updated to something more palatable for the viewers of that time. The early CG was good, but definitely shown its age after five years of constant innovation. Also some of the scenes were streamlined to flow better, and some scenes were added. It does make for a better flow of the pilot when compared to the original. Also the original music score by Steward Copeland (from The Police) was replaced by the show's regular composer Christopher Franke. While I like Franke's music I do miss hearing Copeland's version.

What I liked most about The Gathering is the fact that Babylon 5's five year story arc was already showing hints from the very start. Something unheard of on many TV shows that preferred the safer, more episodic route. The Gathering is a fine introduction to the series.

In The Beginning

This would have to be the best Babylon 5 movie made to date. Maybe it’s because this movie is more engrained within the B5 storyline, or maybe it is just good writing. Either way In the Beginning is a thoroughly deep and compelling film. Best of you it is film you can watch without knowing much of anything about the franchise and still get involved in the story. Technically on par with any other B5 project, In the Beginning is good for both seasoned fans of the series and newcomers alike.

This made for television movie chronicles the Earth-Minbary war. A very poignant event that happened ten years before the start of the series. As a brief summary humans recently won a war with another race and feel daring enough to venture further into space. They come across the Minbari, and after a very unfortunate miscommunication of intent the war started. It was a pretty one sided affair with the Minbari winning campaign after campaign up until when they were about to seize Earth itself. Then all of a sudden they surrendered unconditionally. The Babylon 5 show would reference this war many, many times during it's first four seasons along with several moments in that war. This is the movie that explains it all and answer all the questions fans were wondering about. The story is told by a character named Londo Molari at the final day of his ironic rule as emperor of his people.

J. Michael Straczynski, creator and writer of Babylon 5, wrote the script, and fans of the series you get to see some of the epic events that were hinted at on the series. What instigated the war. How the various characters of the show were involved or affected by the war. The single definitive Earth victory in the war. How the war ended. Moreover you get a good feel for the tragedy and desperation that comes out in war. It is all laid out to complete any B5 fan's experience with the series. For new viewers the movie gives you a complete and all-encompassing story that leaves only a little room for inside info, but plenty to enjoy if you never heard of the series.

While I love the way the story is presented I will say I do find it odd that many of the main B5 cast in one way or another seem to be too well connected to each other considering these events happen over ten years before the series even started. It's too many coincidences if you ask me. I guess it's for the fans, and it's not like it's a terrible stretch of what's feasible to see it. Oh well. Ultimately it’s a small price to pay considering the good stuff. Many of your favorite B5 stars are here in their "younger" forms like Bruce Boxleitner and Claudia Christian. And I absolutely love the entire film is narrated by Peter Jurasik's Londo Molari. It gives the right amount of poise, grandeur and reflection on the story.

The special effects are on par with what you would expect for Babylon 5. Not the greatest stuff in the world, but very well done considering it’s on a television show budget. As a matter of the CG animation and effects still hold up as high quality stuff even today. The computer effects group is known for doing a lot of groundbreaking work on this show. With In The Beginning coming after the fourth season you get the established work from this team.

This is a bare bones presentation with one film on each side of the DVD. It's a clean transfer, but not that could be had. Even for the DVD format. It would be nice to see a remastering of these shows as well as a different release with some extra features like some of the tons of interviews done with cast and crew.

If you are a fan of Babylon 5 you have likely already have seen The Gathering and In The Beginning... and loved it. If you never seen the show before and don’t want to sit through an entire season of reruns this movie set is the best introduction you can get. What's great is the questions you may have from the first movie get answered when you see the second. Everything just fits together without needing to see the entire series. While there is a good deal of action and adventure I would call this more of a drama since that’s where its strength lies. If you can’t see anything but exploding aliens all over the place all the time then you probably will lose interest. Everybody else can come in. The water’s fine.

The Pirates of Dark Water Fantasy Role-Playing World
The Pirates of Dark Water Fantasy Role-Playing World
by Lee Acosta
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from $36.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light on gaming, but heavy on world building, June 25, 2014
Pirates of Dark Water (or simply Dark Water when referring to the mini-series) was an ambitious animated show with a setting that's so unique that nobody ever tried duplicating it before or since. A world of mostly seafaring inhabitants with exotic locales, creatures and technology set the stage of a fantasy tale of a long lost prince trying to restore order to the world by finding powerful artifacts capable of stopping a malevolent force known as the dark water. This is part of a role playing game system that roughly takes the rules from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (second edition) and incorporates it into the Dark Water settings. As a game system it's average riding on the coattails of other successful RPG's. However for Dark Water fans you get something much better. Here is a quote from the game's Introduction to help describe it better:

"The Pirates of Dark Water is filled with elements of classic myth that give it a universal appeal. The motif of the hero's journey, out of a known environment, to undertake a task that leads to the source of life, has been an elemental part of storytelling for centuries. However, the ingredients that allow Dark Water to soar beyond the realm of the conventional tale of the hero's quest are humor and creativity.
Mer is an alien world, an environment unlike any we have ever seen. Everything, at every turn, surprises and amazes, yet it seems natural to the environment of this watery world. Mer, a planet in a constant state of flux, has island continents almost simultaneously being created, destroyed, and recreated. Even so, there is an unnatural natural order to all things on Mer. A simple example of this is its weaponry. In addition to standard medieval-type weapons, a number of items are of a design that takes advantage of the world's peculiar ocean life. Poisonous sea urchins are hurled with deadly accuracy from powerful sling shots, alien starfish are used as shurikens and blown glass muskets contain lizard-like creatures that, when "triggered," expel their deadly breath weapon.
To help you fully understand this unique world, we have provided you with a number of aids, the first being this, the World Book. Within these pages are descriptions of the lands, inhabitants, special characters and everything else needed to role-play on this fantastic world."

The core of this is the World Book, and it contains all the gaming rules. It also contains a wealth of information on the show. You get quite a bit of details on the history of this world, the different sentient races, weapons and unique artifacts, all the prominent locations, all of the main characters and more. There are game stats, rules and scenarios peppered throughout the book, but you also get a fair amount of non-game information that delves into the history, culture and technology of this world.

While you do get a good deal of non-game info this isn't the perfect source. Stuff like the prominent ships from the show only get basic stats without any real meat on them. I admit as a fan I would have preferred more details on other aspects. The book is really good with what it gives you, but there is so much more that can be written about that was left out.

What you also get with the game system is mess of monster sheets, loose leaf on three hole punch paper (for convenient organizing of game info used back in the day). There are over 100 monsters including the show's popular ones like the dagron, monkeybirds, the darkdweller and the constrictus. I haven't gotten confirmation if the information on the more obscure creatures is 100% accurate or not. There is some question regarding if new info was added to spice up the gaming side of things. Still the main creatures you saw in the show should have an accurate depiction on this supplement.

Finally there is a full color map of the world of Mer (setting for Dark Water). It's pretty, but not all that informative. So if you are planning on getting this and you want everything make sure it comes with all three supplements. It would not be hard to end up with just the world book, which is most the cool information. However the loss of the monster sheets would be a shame. The world map not so much.

The Pirates of Dark Water RPG is one of many games made to capitalize on both role playing games and shows that piqued the interest of many fantasy fans. While Dark Water the game is mediocre the information on this unique fantasy world would be a prize for any Pirates of Dark Water fan.

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