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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mini-Movie Reviews- Apes, Guardians, Turtles

Hey there everyone! Old man Chaos is here with some mini-movie reviews. Now, am I reviewing miniature movies? Or will my reviews be brief? Ha ha. The jokes never stop around this joint. I'll be here all week.... At any rate, I have seen a couple of movies over the past month or so so I figured I'd give my 2 cents, as per usual. So, let us begin...

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I have a long history with the Planet of the Apes franchise. I love the originals. They are incredible films (yes, they are dated now, but you have to think about them in the context in which they were made). This series has every sci-fi staple that you can imagine: space travel, time travel, alternate timelines/realities, nuclear holocausts, mutants, environmental messages, distopian police states, war, racial allegory... I could go on. And the series is also very good at connecting the various threads, ideas, and names- its not perfect, but this franchise is an awesome universe.

Then, after Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the series ended (logically so, I might add). Recently,
there have been 2 attempts at rebooting the franchise. Tim Burton tried it first, and though the movie had some strong make-up effects and visuals, the plot was bad and well... let's not talk about that ending. The more recent attempt was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I am in the minority here I suspect- I didn't like this one either. My "brain" was interested- a totally different take on the franchise, with cutting edge effects. However, my "heart" wasn't in it- it did not engage me the way the old franchise did. I felt Rise was just dull.

Fast forward to this summer. All advance reviews said that Dawn was a game-changer- an excellent movie that did real honor to the old franchise while charting a new course. I decided, with some trepidation, to see it. And boy... it was amazing!

The story, actors, digital effects... it all combined to tell a great story of how humanity has just about collapsed and apes are in the ascendant. However, both species exist near each other- will they fight? Can they get along? This movie explores themes of war, suspicion, abuse of nature... The apes are just phenomenal- they look like animals, but each one has a soul. This is captured perfectly by Andy Serkis as Caesar- the leader of the apes. While he is suspicious of humans, he wants peace. His second in command, Koba wants to fight the humans- for all too human reasons, and actually rather compelling reasons, interestingly enough. What is set in motion is a multi- dimensional struggle within the ape community, the human community, and between the two species. The action is hard hitting, the quiet moments are pitch perfect. And, in PotA tradition, the ending is morally ambiguous, to say the least.

Ironically, with everyone saying this movie takes the franchise into "new waters"- I disagree- I feel that this movie borrows heavily from Battle of the Apes- the themes of peace and suspicion are there. Heck, change Koba's name to Aldo and presto... its a re-imagining of the weakest of the old franchise. I'm fine with this though. It borrows but is still very different (Koba's motivation is much stronger than Aldo's; Caesar here is more ambivalent toward humanity).

This was a real treat. I give it 3 1/2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. Check this one out- fan of Apes or not, there is a lot of meat to this film, and it has lots of good action scenes for casual film goers.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel movie franchise has had its ups (Captain America 2, Avengers) and its downs (Iron Man 2), but overall this franchise is incredible. The Marvel characters have gotten incredible treatment in these films- movies that are fun, filled with character moments, and ultimately they are very loyal to the essence of these characters (no emo-Spidey here). This trend of fun movie going continues in Guardians of the Galaxy- though focusing on lesser known characters, the movie is still a blast and fitting with this Marvel spirit.

The actors give it their all here, with Chris Pratt doing well as the heart and soul of this rag tag team. Rocket Raccoon is also well realized, with Bradley Cooper's voice being almost unrecognizable (in other words, not his Hangover shtick).  Though he says little, Groot also tugs at the heartstrings. Dave Batista is a lot of fun as Drax, providing both action and some comic relief (nothing goes over his head ha ha). Last, Zoe Saldana is again the queen of sci-fi as Gamora- beautiful but dangerous, she realizes the error of her ways and tries to stop a terrible plan she has helped to set in motion.

The movie is fun. Lots of humor, great character interplay and banter. The action scenes are also quite good for the most part.The movie's soundtrack is almost a character in itself, with some fun 1970s tunes in there. The movie also gives the best explanation of Thanos and the "Infinity Stones" yet- setting the ground for all that cosmic stuff. I think Josh Brolin will do just fine as Thanos (he's here briefly). I am looking forward to his character taking center stage at some point.

There are problems here though. First, the bad guy Ronan the Accuser. Now Lee Pace is just fine in the role (menacing, etc). However, his motivation is paper thin, and he is never really developed. He's kinda just there. Red Skull, Loki, and Winter Soldier / Pierce all make an impression. Sadly, Ronan falls into the Malekith/Whiplash/Chitari realm of being boring and underdeveloped. This is too bad- it takes the teeth out of the tension and conflict.

Karen Gillan fares a bit better as Nebula (she is given a bit more to do) and her appearance and
attitude make an impression (hope to see more from her as well), but she's second fiddle to the bland Ronan. The climax is also too familiar and bland- destructive energy cloud, hero fights baddie, energy thing happens, battle won- we've seen this too often in Marvel movies (see Cap 1, Thor 2, Avengers).  Come on Marvel people- we can do better than this (see Cap 2).

So, I would give Guardians 3.25 out of 4. Cap 2 is still the absolute highlight of the Marvel franchise, but GotG was a ton of fun and I can't wait to see their further adventures (and more Thanos).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Oh. My. God.

I went into this with LOW expectations. I loved the old cartoon (had the action figures and all that), but I'm not a diehard fanatic as an adult. As the promotions began for this movie, I wasn't sure what to make of it. The more recent trailers convinced me that the prognosis wasn't good. But, a friend of mine was dying to see it, so off we went.

Thanos. End. It. All. Now.

This movie is a wreck. A horrible wreck. The plot is nonsensical, to put it mildly. Megan Fox looks nice, but can't act her way out of a paper bag. Will Arnett belongs in another movie. The Shredder seems to have been thrown in at the last minute (trust me- his relation to the plot is stupid and he acts basically as just muscle). William Fitchner is here for a paycheck, pretty much.

Nurgle... Take away my pain...

The turtles themselves are not bad- they have some good moments of camaraderie, and some jokes do well (most fall flat though). Then Splinter shows up knowing things that his character simply has NO WAY OF KNOWING AT ALL- he should be called Exposition, not Splinter. Poor plotting 101.

Dear. God. No.

The action scenes are haphazard and without stakes. There is no tension. No cohesive narrative. The villain's plot makes no real sense at all. Shredder looks good but that's about it. This movie was just awful. There are few times where I feel CHEATED going to a movie. Even weak movies have some redeeming value (For example- Machete Kills at least had a fun performance from Mel Gibson, most of the film was poor). Ask my friend Pete about Lost in Space (the joke is we "never" saw it, if you know what I mean). This movie was that bad.

Let's put it another way. I bought the 1990 Turtles movie on bluray for $4.99 at Best Buy in order to watch it and purge the crap I had just seen (and the 1990 movie isn't the greatest either- but it has heart and character development).

Zero out of Four Marks of Chaos. And for the record, it is films like this that makes Khorne want to collect skulls, by the way.

Anyways, that's my movie reviews. Planning on seeing Sin City 2 (hoping Rodriguez has brought his A game) this weekend. Until next time...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Scions of Gorechild- The Engines of Bloodshed

Hey there everybody! Old Man Chaos is back with yet another startling, insane, and shocking edition of Chaos Corner. What's that you say? It's hyperbole? Exaggeration? Overwrought and melodramatic? Ha!! No I say- this will be the greatest edition of Chaos Corner ever!! (*results may vary. Not a licensed spokesperson. The views expressed here are the opinions of one person and do not reflect the editors or owners of Chaos Corner. Ex post facto). Anyways, I've got some oldies and some newbies, presented herein for the first time. So now, without further ado... making their Internet debut... The Engines of Blood!

You have seen two of these bad-boys before, but now they are joined by the third (and I suspect final, at least for the Scions of Gorechild) daemon engine. This one looks a bit different I grant you, but I shall explain his origins in due time below.

First, let me say that Maulerfiends are very strong daemon engines. They can take apart most tanks with ease (unless you have a bad roll or two- it happens). They move incredibly fast and can get into the enemy quickly. They fare less well against elite units like Terminators. Complicating things is their lower WS and I- which kinda sucks (I guess they loose it in exchange for their speed. However, looking at a Murderfang in a drop pod it kinda sucks when he gets that many attacks).

At any rate, these puppies are good at tearing through armor and generally terrorizing the enemy. One Maulerfiend is just not enough though. If you take only one, the enemy will focus all fire on that and it WILL die. Now, perhaps that's what you want (firing at the Maulerfiend takes the heat off your other units), but if you want the Maulerfiend to do damage, you may need to take two. Or three. This makes them more survivable (most armies CAN'T take out all 3 at once, even my friend who has taken 3 or 4 Devastator Squads in Inquisitorial Chimeras with Meltas can't take out all 3). Now, opposing a regular army, the Maulerfiends can go after tanks with impunity once they make it to the enemy lines.

So- I thought we could look at all three together, and one at a time too. One is basic with no real conversions. The other two, of course, are heavily converted- its Chaos and I can't resist conversion, you guys know that by now.

So, here is Bonebreaker. This was my first Maulerfiend, purchased when they first came out in the fall of 2012. The one thing that I don't like about the kit is that it really isn't posable at all. If you are building the Maulerfiend, it only goes together in one pose. But, since this was my first, I didn't try anything fancy- I just wanted to see how well it would all go together. The one change I did was I used the Ectoplasma head instead of the "Rhinoceros" looking one, which I just didn't care for. I like the teeth and open maw, as if it is going to bite your head off. I also added the Khornate symbol in the middle of the 8-sided Chaos symbol on his top carapace.

The second Maulerfiend, The Skull Hunter, was completed in Sept/Oct 2013 (I build him while playing GTA IV- I was up well past midnight to work on him). I went a bit crazier on this one than I did on the first one. First, I put a rider on the neck. The rider was a Khorne Bezerker with a head and arm from the Forsaken fantasy box. I wanted him to look a bit feral and warp-tainted but not go overboard. I used chains from the Dark Eldar to make it look like the Maulerfiend's harness.

I again used the Ectoplasma head. I also included a couple of dead Imperial Guardsmen. One is being eaten, the other has been crushed underfoot. The Bezerker-rider is looking not at the carnage but rather toward the horizon, as if already looking for the next target while the Maulerfiend plays with his food.

And now, for my newest addition, thus making it a trilogy of terror, as it were. My final 'Fiend, The Warbringer. Now, you're saying "this guy has guns, therefore he's a Forgefiend". Perhaps, but this is what I was thinking- would Khorne have a Forgefiend? Should I use one- they aren't AS good as the Maulerfiends (if they cost as much as the Maulerfiend I'd be happier- they are over-costed).

But, what if I wanted to use one? But what if I wanted a third Maulerfiend (how many of these damn things can I buy?)? So, I decided to make a Maulerfiend, but with guns. Thus, he has the "Khornate" appearance of charging the enemy, but he has two cannons. I used the arm rigging joints and simply put them on the legs. So, I have a charging Forgefiend.

As a total chaotic contrarian, I went with the "Rhinoceros" head with this one. I'm not thrilled with the head, but I added the alternate Khorne helm/symbol from the Lord of Skulls, giving the head a larger and more fearsome aspect. So, in my friendly games, I can use him as either/or, and people are fine with that as long as I explain which one he is beforehand. Tournaments may not be so kind to my conversion, but that's OK. Not too worried about that.

So, the three of them together make The Engines of Blood. Three daemon engines that wreck havoc on the battlefields, slaying all in the name of Khorne. The Scions of Gorechild do have a Warpsmith in their ranks, and they have made deals for other engines in the past with other Warpsmiths- Lord Korlath will gladly lend his forces to another warlord in order to gain resources or weapons, or, in this case, the aid of Warpsmiths. For Korlath and the Scions, its win/win- they get to spill blood and make material gains, which will allow them to spill more blood. They never get a bad deal, unless the warlord betrays them- but that only gives Korlath an excuse to spill even more blood then take what he was promised anyway.

As for the Engines of Blood, they are fearsome on the battlefield, filling the enemy ranks with terror as they roar and then cross the battlefield with such incredible speed and ferocity. Even Space Marines dread the appearance of the Engines of Blood. They are the battering ram, the vanguard of the Scions of Gorechild- the opponents that they don't scare away they smash aside, ruining the enemy battleline and allowing the Scions to attack unhindered.

I am pleased with their cohesive appearance; they look similar but also distinct- exactly the look I wanted. Seeing all three on the battlefield is quite a sight, I must say.

Well, that's all for this posting. I have something even more blasphemous for the next one... Until next time!

Friday, August 1, 2014

For Your Consideration: Forgefiend of Nurgle

Hey there everybody! Old Man Chaos back with another posting. This is what I originally was going to post earlier this week, but then the GW Financials were out and I felt compelled to add my rather worthless 2 cents on the topic. What started as a short diatribe became a long rant, so I shelved this part, which showcases my new Forgefiend of Nurgle. So, away we go...

I really like the concept of the Forgefiend/Maulerfiend. The model is very cool, though I wish the thing was a bit more poseable. At any rate, I have 2 Maulerfiends and 1 Forgefiend for my Khorne Bezerkers (which I have hunched down, thus it can be a Maulerfiend in friendly games if I wish).

Naturally, I realized that my Plague Marines have been neglected in the 'Fiend department. My wife helped me to rectify that by getting me a new 'Fiend (thanks honey). So, my first consideration was which would I do it as? I decided that my Plague Marines, usually holding their positions and hanging tough would be to give them a bit more firepower- thus a Nurgle Forgefiend was born.

Then, of course, I had to consider how I would "Nurgle-fy" it. That is, how would I convert it in order for it to be within my usually disgusting Nurgle parameters. At first I thought I'd do guts and the like- my typical number. However, as I was sifting through my bits- I discovered that I still had plenty of parts from my Heldrake/Zombie dragon that I did a few months ago (and I'm still working on the second of that ugly combo FYI).

So, what caught my eye? The rotting, almost rat-like head that is the alternate head for the zombie dragon. I also had a rotting neck for it left over as well. As I sized it up, I knew it would fit perfectly for the upright Forgefiend. Well, that was easy. But it was missing something. Then it hit me- I have to make this thing look more rat like. No, I wasn't going to buy Skaven stuff. Instead, I took one of the Lasher Tendrils and basically stuffed it up the Forgefiend's tailpipe and... instant mechanical rat tail.

Granted, most of my Nurgle stuff is either insect, zombie/decayed, and mold/sores. I have done more than my fair share of green-stuff guts and the like. I have never done a "rat-like" Nurgle piece. However, it makes sense, as rats certainly carry diseases- thus I think Father Nurgle would approve of my creation. (Besides, when I do another one later I can do the guts and all that ;-)

I wasn't quite done with the conversions (slight and simple though they are). I took the tripartite Nurgle symbol and put it dead center on the thing's main carapace. The other conversion I did was with the ectoplasma cannons. I took spawn tentacles and made them look like tongues- thus all three "heads" had tongues. The ectoplasma cannons were now heads, not weapons. Then I noticed that the 3 heads again were part of the Nurgle motif- yes, Father Nurgle approved greatly. Lastly, I added some green stuff at the arm/weapon joints- making look as if the thing were part metal, part mold, part decayed flesh. It would tie it more completely into my army.

Now for the painting. I did Death World Forrest as the basecoat. The legs I did with Leadbelcher. Then I washed very liberally with Earthshade (such a ubiquitous wash I must say). I then set to work on the armor ridges, trim, weapons, and the tail- I used the aforementioned Leadbelcher, followed by Typhus Corruption, and then Ryza Rust to make it look nice and rusty. 

The growths I then highlighted with Nurgling Green, then I washed it down with Earthshade, with a lighter edge highlighting of Nurgling Green. I did the same with the flesh portions of the head and neck.

The bones and teeth I did with a Desert basecoat and then moved up with Ubshanti Bone and Screaming Skull with drybrushes of Tyrant Skull. The tongues actually challenged me a bit. They couldn't just be straight red, but what colors would work on all 3 heads. I started with Screamer Pink, then went lighter. Then I did a wash of Druichii Violet and some Earthsahde again. Presto! The tongues are distinct, but also look rotten and sickly. The toughest decision for me turned out very well.

Naturally, I had to add some blood and slime to the proceedings. Of course, you have to be careful not to use too much, lest it drowns out the rest of your paint scheme (I am always tempted to put on more and have to pull myself away). I used the GW slime and blood technical paints, but I also used the Tamiya Clear Red- so some blood looks fresh while some of it is old and coagulated.

All told, I am happy with how this guy turned out. He is clearly an invention of Papa Nurgle, and my Plague Marines will be pleased to have him I think. At some point I will do another for Nurgle (Forge or Mauler I'm not sure). But first, I have to finish my second Nurgle Heldrake (one of my craziest conversion jobs yet, I must say). However, I have been distracted by something VERY Heretical. The Emperor would not be happy, let's put it that way. I think they'll be done by next week...

Until next time, stay heretical my friends.