All posts by Matt

Editor in Chief of NerdNewsToday.com. Primary video producer, shooter, editor, and purchaser of too many toys... although there is really no such thing as "too many toys".

NY Toy Fair 2012 Coverage: Think Geek booth Photo gallery

This week in New York City, the 2012 edition of Toy Fair is going down at the Jacob Javitts Center, and Team NerdNewsToday is there with the goods! Up first is this gallery from Think Geek, which includes pictures of some of their new licensed items from Minecraft, Portal, Star Trek, and Star Wars, as well as some original zombie and general gamer items.

I, for one, can not wait for the companion cube cookie jar, but the real show-stealer is those zombie slippers that chow down on your feet!

Check out the gallery below for all the images!

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“Sinners and Saints” Movie Review

Anchor Bay’s latest DVD release, “Sinners and Saints,” starring Johnny Strong, Kevin Phillips, Method Man, Tom Berenger, Costas Mandylor, and Bas Rutten, has just come out earlier this month. Direct to DVD is typically translated to mean a “meh movie,” so can this film overcome that distinction, or will you be seeing this on the clearance rack at Wal-Mart? Let’s take a look and break this thing down!

Here is your quick spoiler-free synopsis of the film:

“In the gritty New Orleans underbelly, beleaguered Detective Sean Riley is trying to cope with the death of his young son and his failed marriage. Facing a probable suspension from the department, Riley is teamed with a young homicide Detective, Will Ganz, to help solve a series of brutal murders that have plunged the city into a major gang war. The two quickly realize there is something much bigger and far more sinister going on than either could have ever imagined.”

Johnny Strong’s character, Sean Riley, is that douchebag at the bar that purposely cock-blocks you, purely because he can. He is pretty unlikeable in the beginning of the movie, trying to play that bad-ass cop with a heart of gold gimmick. Unfortunately, him and his team of cops at the start of the film just come off as braindead morons who must have skipped every class at the Police Academy, otherwise they would know how to properly enter a barricaded home with an armed gang inside. This is hardly a spoiler alert, but their terrible police work is what gets most of Strong’s unit slaughtered instantly (with him being the convenient sole survivor). Even after getting to know him halfway into the film, he is still not the most riveting character emotionally (I would call it flat acting), but the dude can fight and shoot and that is what matters in a movie like this.

Strong’s partner in the film ends up being a homocide detective played by Kevin Phillips, who will be appearing later this year in George Lucas’ “Red Tails” film. On his own, Phillips is bland, but when teamed up with Strong, the two bounce off each other nicely. That seems to be the best that can be said about our two leads, is that it takes another actor to push them to make their skills better. Depending on the scene, sometimes the characters will be stronger than in others, so just be patient and hang on tight for the pay-off.

The most interesting character to me was the one of the villains, played expertly by Louis Mandylor. His modest insanity and bad guy tactics are fun to watch, augmented by his Australian accent that makes anything he says sound more intense and evil. Costas Mandylor plays the main baddie, who reminds me of Michael Ironside from “Total Recall” in the best way possible.

The film gets interesting pretty quickly, as a strange group of mercenaries begin storming various locations and beginning a disturbing series of human-arson acts. Speaking of which, in terms of graphic violence, “Sinners and Saints” implements a mainly digital series of special effects for their gunshots and blood, but they make up for that with their revolting burn victims that are rather crucial for the plot. Nothing like a charred body to wash away the taste of a CG shootout.

While the acting in the film is not superb, it’s good enough for a direct-to-DVD release. It’s not a group of laughably bad actors trying to get a break, but some decent up-and-comers who are growing their chops, so kudos to the casting director for finding a solid cast that makes the film work.

The film features some other notable actors like Tom Berenger, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Method Man in supporting roles. Method Man is definitely the most interesting character of this group, but I can not say anything else without spoiling what happens. MMA fans will recognize Bas Rutten in this film as one of the main villain’s enforcers, named Dekker. Most of the time, Rutten just stands vigil as a silent bodyguard with the director tossing an occasional reaction shot his way in various scenes with his boss. His fight has the most MMA techniques in it, but being a bad guy means that he most certainly will die, and his death is quite entertaining.

Most of the action scenes are shootouts in urban settings, typically a strong hold situation where one group is trying to assault another’s hide-out or location. There is a very cool knife fight towards the final act of the film that is gritty and exciting, and made me wish there was more hand to hand combat rather than gun fights. Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of Dan Inosanto, was a co-producer on this film, so it is no surprise that we would get such a wonderfully choreographed blade fight scene, I just wish Bas Rutten had a chance to get his hands dirtier and help have more hand to hand fights in the movie.

Overall, I was modestly impressed with the plot for the film and how involved I became in the cast and conspiracy of what was happening. While the acting will not win any awards, this is a group of promising young actors who are growing into their abilities, so consider this your chance to see them before they hit it big. “Sinners and Saints” harkens back to the good ole’ action films of the 80’s and 90’s, but with a modern flair and broad group of supporting actors to flesh this detailed plot out.

You can order “Sinners And Saints” from Amazon for around $12. The DVD also includes deleted scenes, and a very short behind-the-scenes feature. If you are a fan of action films, give it a shot (pun intended).

If you liked this movie review, you may also enjoy these: Insane racing anime “Redline” DVD & Movie Review, and WWII Supernatural action anime, “First Squad: The Moment of Truth” DVD & Movie Review

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Enter our Twitter contest and win a copy of “Redline” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Hey, you! Like anime? I don’t care if you said yes or no, because I know you love free stuff, so here is your chance to win some swag, specifically the new sci-fi, racing anime from Anchor Bay, “Redline!”

“Redline” is a racing film created by studio Madhouse (Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars). “Redline” is about the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame, including JP, a reckless dare-devil driver oblivious tospeed limits with his ultra-customized car – all the while, organized crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends. Amongst the other elite rival drivers in the tournament, JP falls for the alluring Sonoshee – but will she prove his undoing, or can a high speed romance survive a mass destruction race?

The winner of this contest will receive their choice of DVD or Blu-Ray of this film. How do you win this awesome prize? Simple, all you have to do is tweet to your friends on Twitter to follow my Twitter account to win, using the hashtag #NerdNewsToday to make sure I see your entry. Here is an example:

“Follow @NerdNewsToday for the best video game, comics, movies & toy news. Join the #nerdvolution”

Feel free to get creative with it too, as long as you have my account and hashtag, you are entered to win! If you want to increase your chances, have those same new followers tweet me back and let me know who sent them to join me. You can enter as many times as you want – the more, the merrier. The contest begins now and goes until February 4.

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“First Squad: The Moment of Truth” DVD & Movie Review

What happens when you take a group of ragtag supernatural soldiers battling against the forces of evil and mysticism, and put it in the backdrop of World War II? You get the first Hellboy movie. But, beyond that, you also get “First Squad: The Moment of Truth,” an anime directed by Yoshiharu Ashino, and released by Anchor Bay. Anime is a fickle genre at times, especially when it starts to mix in real-life dates and events. Does this edition of “First Squad” hold up in combat, or does it fall to its knees and cry that it wants to go home? Check out the review to find out!

Set during the opening days of World War II on the Eastern Front, 14-year-old Nadia (because every anime needs an adolescent girl) has a strange gift. An oprhan who travels with a sideshow act around Russia to entertain soldiers, Nadia has the power of clairvoyance, but none of that can help her regain her lost memories from her childhood. While performing for some troops, the camp is attacked and everyone is slaughtered, except for her. She is rescued by an old man in the woods, who manages to return her safely to the city where she meets a familiar General who explains who she is, what she can do, and why she is the last line of defense the world has in stopping the invading German army.

Nadia is part of a special group of children who were trained to be psychic soldiers, as well as the gun-toting kind, and it is up to her to retrieve her dead friends from the underworld so that they can battle the Nazi’s supernatural army of crusaders from the 12th-century before they turn the tides of the war forever.

The concept of “First Squad” is pretty clever, and has an excellent set-up to lead you into being interested in Nadia, since she is the focus of this hour-long OVA. From the start, we see a cold and emotionless girl who has no idea why she has these cursed powers, who is outcast from society because of it. After being pursued by a pair of busty blonde Nazi women, one of my favorite cliches of all time, her life begins to resume normalcy (as much as possible) as she opens up and is able to find her friends.

Unfortunately, this anime tends to drag a bit. It’s a very slow 60 minute movie, and takes its sweet time in the first act to establish everything that is happening. By the second half, things pick up quickly and it becomes a very tense and great final act, but viewers will need to suffer a bit to make it through the opening.

The animation is smooth and wonderful to look at, sometimes violent and sometimes beautiful. The scenes on the battlefield are exciting, but the underworld is probably the most creative, with hordes of murdered soldiers of different eras marching across their own private hell. Interspersed through the anime are spots made to resemble old newsreel clips, which add some realism and depth to the film, and help flesh out the time period better to make the viewer more involved.

DJ Krush provides much of the music heard through the film, helping to set the right mood for each scene. His sound contrasts the imagery and setting of the movie in a perfect balance, leaving me wanting a way to grab a copy of the soundtrack to this anime.

There is not a ton of action in the film, but what is there is exciting and makes for a good pay-off. I just wish more time was given to Nadia’s friends, who do not make a notable appearance until the second half, and do not do much until the last 10 minutes or so. The ending was a bit anti-climatic, but that leads me to believe this anime will be a series and not just a one-episode wonder… at least, I hope it becomes a series, otherwise I will be disappointed since I just got started liking these characters and want to see what craziness they get into with the Nazi’s next!

Overall, “First Squad: The Moment of Truth” is not my favorite OVA of all time, but it’s a good one and worth giving a watch. My main complaint is that it just sort of ends with not enough closure, and leaves a huge gap that must be filled by a sequel. It is a slight let-down that this entire DVD is just the hour-long film and a few trailers for unrelated things, leaving me wanting much more out of this DVD which I clearly am not going to get anytime soon. However, for a one-shot film, it does the job, and does the job well.

You can pick up “First Squad: Moment of Truth” on Amazon for around $18-20.

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Mezco unveils new Earthworm Jim action figure

Retro gamers love and loathe Earthworm Jim. Great graphics, solid gameplay, and levels that are hard enough to make you cringe when you hear the name of it, but just the right level of pain to keep you playing the game. In honor of everyone’s favorite invertebrate with a super suit, Mezco has announced a brand new toy for him!

This new figure of Jim comes complete with a game accurate plasma blaster as well as his famous ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit. The 6-inch scale Earthworm Jim also features 8 points of articulation. He comes complete not only with his plasma blaster, but with an alternate “bendy” unsuited worm body as well.

This is not the first time Jim has had an action figure, as Playmates released a series based around his cartoon series from the ’90’s, which had an epic launching worm-head action. Sadly, no action feature here, but this Jim looks great and I can not wait to add him to my collection.

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Conan meets Groo in new cross-over comic

What was rumored as an April Fools’ joke has turned into a full-blown miniseries sure to bring laughs and excitement. Dark Horse Comics is proud to announce Groo vs. Conan!

It had to happen: The most heroic warrior in history meets the stupidest, as Robert E. Howard’s immortal Conan the Barbarian crosses swords with Sergio Aragonés’s Groo the Wanderer in Groo vs. Conan #1!

This four-issue miniseries was concocted by the Eisner Award–winning team of Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés, aided by master illustrator Thomas Yeates and master colorist Tom Luth. Will Conan annihilate Groo? Will Groo turn out to be the man who can defeat Conan? We’ll see.

Check out the full-sized cover below! Groo vs. Conan is on sale April 18, 2012!

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“Redline” DVD & Movie Review

On January 17, Anchor Bay will release their next big Anime movie, “Redline,” on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time in America. Created by Takeshi Koike and MadHouse animation studio, this outrageous film was released in Japan back in 2009, and has taken its sweet time arriving on US shores in an official format. Is this film worth the wait, or is it best left forgotten about? Find out in our review!

The Redline is a no-holds-barred, anything-goes race with traditional non-flying cars held every five years to determine who is the best racer around the galaxy. “Sweet” JP – so named for his personality, retro style, and refusal to mount weapons on his racecar – nearly wins the “Yellowline” race against an eclectic mix of bizarre aliens and humanoids, but his Trans Am is sabotaged by an explosive device placed by his friend and mechanic, Frisbee, in an attempt to pay off a debt he racked up with the Mafia to create JP’s car. While recuperating in the hospital, the pair finds out that JP was selected for the “Redline” because two other racers withdrew.

JP heads to the Robo World, a planet that is vehemently against the race taking place on their locale since they are hiding weapons of mass destruction there and do not want to be discovered. As JP wanders around the refugee camp where the racers are being housed, he meets Sonoshee, a sensual girl who rivaled the skills of JP in the Yellowline, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Together, they must outrun police, bounty hunters, the army of Robo World, and the other racers to not just win, but survive with their lives intact.

Take one part “Fast & Furious”, add a dash of “Death Race 2000”, and mix it up with some intense animation that is the love child of “FLCL” and “Ninja Scroll”, and that summarizes the feel of “Redline.” Comparing it to other films beyond their themes would be unfair, as Redline is a unique experience that I honestly can not judge it next to other animes. It stands out on its own from top to bottom, and is unlike anything you have seen before. The story moves at a breakneck pace, although it can get lost in the shuffle of this self-referential moments and hyper speed action of the movie.

The film was created by Katsuhito Ishii, who worked on many other animes, as well as the animated sequence from the first “Kill Bill” movie, and Takeshi Koike, who many Americans will remember from his contribution to the “Animatrix” DVD. The stylized animation is in your face, with bold lines and bright colors, and a frenetic pace that never slows down for very long. Stark blacks contrast against pastels for a striking look and feel unlike many other animes on the market.

The most amazing part of this film was that everything was hand-drawn, including the giant robots, cars, and backgrounds. Hand-drawing the film is what caused it to take seven years to produce, start to finish, but the impressive visuals will leave you in absolute shock and awe. This juxtaposition of space-aged technology inside the film, along with the traditional art of animation, makes for a highly stimulating and evocative experience that will amaze all viewers.

The music of the film was created after the animation was done, and is synched to perfectly fit every moment of each scene. The American voice-over actors also do a wonderful job of keeping up with the integrity of the original sound in the film, and while I am normally a sub-title person, this constantly-moving film benefits from the English dub so that you can keep your eyes on the action and not on the text.

Redline is a must-see for all anime fans, and I believe can transcend the narrow appeal of otakus and reach out to mainstream audiences. Extravagant and original are the two words that come to mind when I think of this product of love and obsession from MadHouse. While the plot can be a bit thin at times, you will be too enamored with the energy and visual experience of the film to worry too much about that. You will be hooked from the opening moments of the film, all the way to the final climactic race where the stakes are high, and the animation cel count is even higher!

You can pick up “Redline” on DVD from Amazon for around $15-17, and is absolutely worth it. Even if you are not a huge anime fan, this is that one exception that comes out every few years that goes beyond its genre, like “Akira” or “Ninja Scroll,” and can be enjoyed by fans of racing movies or action movies as well. Give it a watch, you will not be disappointed!

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“Battle Royale: The Complete Collection” coming to DVD & Blu-Ray in March

“Battle Royale”. A title that has shocked, thrilled and unnerved audiences. A film whose fiendishly simple premise has inspired many imitations, including the upcoming “The Hunger Games” motion picture. Based on the 1999 global best-seller by Koushun Takami, the futuristic tale first came to the screen in 2000, directed by the legendary Kinju Fukasaku. Authors, filmmakers and film fans the world over consider the film and its 2003 sequel “Battle Royale II: Requiem” sacred cinematic classics. And now, fans can own them on HD Blu-ray and DVD!

On March 20th, Anchor Bay Entertainment brings the “Battle Royale: The Complete Collection” to Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in North America. Featuring state-of-the-art HD transfers, hi-res audio and a wealth of bonus features that delve deep into this truly international phenomenon – the three disc Blu-ray™ plus bonus DVD set has an SRP of $49.99 and an SRP $44.98 for the four disc DVD. Battle Royale will also be released separately on Blu-ray™ for an SRP of $29.99 and DVD for an SRP of $24.98. Pre-Book on both is February 22. Battle Royale will be available digitally via select outlets including iTunes and Xbox LIVE®.

In 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku unleashed Battle Royale, his violently poetic epic about an innocent group of Junior High students forced by the government to hunt and kill their classmates for sport. It was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards®, launched a global phenomenon, and banned from screens by frightened civic groups and distributors across America. Three years later, the equally disturbing sequel – featuring a new class, new rules, and a brutal terrorist plot by the first film’s young survivors – triggered its own tragic firestorm around the world. Now for the first time ever, you can see it all: Experience the entire Battle Royale saga on 4 discs that forever blasts open one of the most potent, shocking and savagely influential sagas in motion picture history.

Battle Royale: The Complete Collection’s four disc set in collectible high-end packaging will include:

Battle Royale Director’s Cut with both Japanese and English language tracks and English subtitles
Battle Royale Theatrical Cut with both Japanese and English language tracks and English subtitles
Battle Royale II with Japanese language and English subtitles
Battle Royale Bonus Content with Japanese language and English subtitles

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Making Of BATTLE ROYALE
BATTLE ROYALE Press Conference
Instructional Video: Birthday Version
Audition & Rehearsal Footage
Special Effects Comparison Featurette
Tokyo International Film Festival 2000
Battle Royale Documentary
Basketball Scene Rehearsals
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
Filming On-Set
Original Theatrical Trailer
Special Edition TV Spot
TV Spot: Tarantino Version

The Battle Royale release will include:
Director’s Cut with Japanese and English language and English subtitles

With impeccable direction by three-time ‘Director of the year’ Kinji Fukasaku, and featuring high-quality acting performances from every angle, Battle Royale: The Complete Collection is as cunning as it is ruthless, offering a unique and brutal depiction of what people are capable of when imminent death is everywhere you look.

42 students, Three days, One survivor – No Escape. Welcome to the world of Battle Royale!

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It looks like we will be seeing PS4 and Xbox 720 this year at E3!

Ironically named Michael French of the UK gaming blog MCVUK.com just broke the best and worst news any hardcore gamer can hear: The next generation of home consoles will be revealed in a massive way this E3. That’s right, this June Microsoft and Sony will take off their respective hats and toss them into the arena that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Couple that with the launch date and firm price point of Nintendo’s next home offering in the Wii-U being announced this summer, and we will have a console war on our hands that we haven’t seen since the early 90’s.

Microsoft has long been rumoured to detail its next-gen plans at E3 2012, and MCV’s third-party publishing sources claim the firm had signalled to partners this will happen.

The 360 is one of the longest-serving games consoles in history. But the real surprise is an  early move from Sony. Execs at the PlayStation firm have made it clear to third-parties that they will not be left behind this time.

We’ve gotten every ounce of water that is the stone, Xbox 360…It’s good to start anew. The PS3 seems like it has a few more good years left in it though. What do you guys think, will we be seeing these consoles in 2013 or are they going to blow us away with a holiday 2012 release? Highly unlikely, but a guy can hope.

Read Michael French’s original post here.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator rises from the ashes, goes free to play

BY JASON NAWARA

Remember when Microsoft Flight Simulator was making 386’s weep and players without the wherewithal to learn what seemed like thousands of hotkeys were stalling immediately upon takeoff? Those were good times, and now we can relive them again-for free. Microsoft Flight Simulator has taken some time off, regrouped, and is now set for a release sometime in 2012 as a free to play DLC game. Microtransactions will be the order of the day as players will be able to purchase aircraft, the Hawaiian islands and more for minimal fees.

Those afraid of the crushing hardware specs needed to play the previous MFS games need not be, the game is optimized to run over a wide range of PC’s, from your five year old Dell to the rig you just built in your basement over the holidays. The game looks great and I can’t wait to take to the skies…For free of course.

Here’s the latest gameplay trailer that came out today.

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