Saturday, December 19, 2009

Applause for Avatar

I just took my family to see James Cameron's Avatar, and it is magnificent beyond superlatives.

As I told a friend, Avatar is so good you won't believe it. You'll BELIEVE IT, which is why you won't believe it. It is so well-done, it kicks you beyond the "wow that's an amazing special effect stage" to being unaware that you're watching a movie and being absorbed in the story.

The story works at many different levels -- sci fi speculation, historical allegory, contemporary political tale, and individual psychological/spiritual metaphor.

Go see it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best video games of the year

Our annual video game gift guide, which is our list of the best games of the year, is up on Techcetera.

Big contributors this year are my reviewer apprentice Fortiscule and Mrs. ArcDream.

Fortiscule also handles the review this week on DJ Hero. Check it out!

You'll find a roundup of my reviews and recommendations (which include Fortiscule's reviews, of course) on my profile page.

Are you playing any new games for the holidays? Let me know about it! Email me at and let everyone know what you think of the game. We plan to see Avatar this weekend, and we'll be playing the game afterward.

Old girlfriends in Mass Effect 2

A G4 blog post says that your old girlfriends from Mass Effect might show up in Mass Effect 2, which is interesting. Then the blogger goes on to say he doesn't even remember who his girlfriend was in Mass Effect, Liara the blue alien, or Ashley the regular human lady.

Oh, for crying out loud! How could you NOT remember who you hooked up with in Mass Effect?? A BLUE alien chick with TENTACLES on her head is memorable. Either you remember that you DID hook up with her, or you DIDN'T, which means it was the other girl (unless you ticked her off). How could something like that not leave an impression?

Oh, these jaded gamer youths, for whom romance with a beautiful blue alien is mundane and forgettable! If I meet a sexy blue alien woman, I'm going to write it down.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dads talk about profanity in MW2

I've posted a column on Techcetera that's a series of letters between me and another father about parenting decisions and video games. He had inquired about the intensity of profanity in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, because he was considering whether to get it for his son for Christmas.

My son Fortiscule and I both love video gaming. We share a lot of fun gaming together, like some dads do with baseball, watching football or fishing. Many of my friends in the Xbox Live community are parents like me. I hope y'all will feel free to chime in with your thoughts as well.

The column is called Dads discuss profanity in Modern Warfare 2.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spartans On The Ground

Here's the trailer for Halo Reach. This looks absolutely awesome and gives me chills.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Halo Reach first look gives chills

The new trailer for Halo Reach that was shown on Spike TV's VGAs gave me goosebumps.

I'll post it here as soon as it's available somewhere. In the meantime, here's the first trailer, which has a goosebumps moment in it, too.

Halo Reach - Halo Official Site

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Furlough from MW2

An e-mail letter to Sythbane Squadron, from our friend Fartknockker:


I will be taking a break from Modern Warfare 2 for a while. Not because of problems with the Javelin glitch, but terrible respawns and lag have elevated my frustration level with the game to a point of walking away.

Above, Fortiscule serves as an example of a frustrated gamer, like Fartknockker has become lately.

My theory: Respawns have been programmed to increase the chances of payback kills. As a result you tend to spawn closer to enemies more often than in previous COD games. The other day I was playing Team Deathmatch on Wasteland. I respawned, turned around and there were three enemies 10 feet away. I am not saying this has never happened but it seems considerably more prevelent in this game.

Lag -- seeing an enemy pop in a window for a second and then getting shot by that enemy in that same second and then watching the killcam and that enemy having a full 3 seconds to draw sights, aim and shoot. I have a 6M down and 1M up net speed. This should be sufficient. In my book, that's not fair.

The misuse of tactical inserts to acquire a nuke is another deterent from my play. A player on team A will get a friend to be on team B. The player on team B will equip a tact insert and keep spawning in front of the player on team A at a predetermined spot on a given map that is not traveled very often and out of the way, so as not to be noticed. (I believe these spots were intented to be safe areas for players to operate killstreak rewards and call in airdrops but are now being exploited) The player on team A can get a 25-kill streak very quickly by killing the player on team B over and over because on the tac insert, not to mention the killstreak reward player A acquires for the tac insert kills. I have no patience for cheaters.

I will be working on Left for Dead 2, Borderlands and Call of Duty Classic until I have stored enough patience to return to MW2.


Mode of Duty: Core or Hardcore?

Editor's note: Our friend and contributor Mr. Fartknockker offers this rejoinder to my recent post about the shortcomings of hardcore mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. "I did not in any way take offense to anything in your piece. I actually agreed with most of it," he said. "I just felt like elaborating on the subject."

By Fartknockker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

There has always been a decision to make when playing online multiplayer in a Call of Duty title. Core or hardcore? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Depending on your strengths and skill, one might work better than the other.

Some advantages in core mode include crosshairs on the screen. They help aiming quite a bit. The HUD displays match information, score, and ammo and equipment count, which is very handy considering the new scavenger perk.

If you’re good, core mode offers the best playlist for ranking up weapons and equipment, and completing challenges for bonus experience points -- the key for ranking quickly. Constantly changing weapons, equipment and perks will net you bigger XP on average at the end of every other match. Points you earn from completing challenges far outweigh those from kills or bomb plants.

If you are going to play core though, you have to be accurate with your shots because every one counts. That is really my only major gripe with core mode and the main reason I prefer hardcore.

Hardcore features decreased health and increased bullet damage, which means not only do you have to be accurate, but very quick. I want to know if I shoot you first, you will die, as opposed to me dumping half a clip and you turning and killing me. If I want to use an entire clip to kill somebody, I will go play Halo.

In core mode you can be a little more liberal in running around the map because you have more of a chance to escape damaged but not dead. Hardcore has to be played more conservatively because you can end up pushin’ daises very quickly. If you are a run-and-gunner at heart, like me, respawn times in hardcore might be a little annoying at best.

Camping is one of those things most people complain about but most of those same people will do themselves, at least from time to time. You will find more of it in hardcore because it tends to be a lot more tactical mode because of quick deaths. But, is a player that finds a high point on the map and snipes camping? No. He’s sniping. Is a player that hides in a bush near a bomb plant in search and destroy camping? No. He’s protecting the plant. I would consider a camper somebody who picks a certain spot on the map and stays the entire match. There is no skill in that and that’s why people find it annoying.

No HUD on the screen in hardcore means no clutter and as much visibility as possible. Some people might consider having no crosshairs a disadvantage, but people who play hardcore just know where the center of their screen is in relation to where they want to aim. It becomes instinctive.

It all comes down to personal preference. Personally I like both modes but I prefer hardcore. Luckily, most of my friends such as Big Daddy Ogre, TeeBoan, notatreehugger and BigTODA78 prefer it, too. I can speak for those guys when I say the main reason we prefer hardcore is increased bullet damage. You will find me, however, scoring dome shots and dominating with Sythbane in Core Team Deathmatch.

Sythbane hates it when he empties an entire magazine into Mr. Fartknockker, and then Fartknockker turns around and kills him.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My review of Dragon Age: Origins

My Xbox Live friends might have noticed that I've spent a lot of time playing Dragon Age: Origins lately. My review is up now on Techcetera! Take a look and pile on the comments.

You can find all my recent reviews collected on my profile page.

Below, you see sexy mage Morrigan, voiced by Claudia Black from Farscape. You better believe Morrigan is always in my party of adventurers in Dragon Age. Because, my name is Sythbane, and I party! (... just like Hot Rod.)

Coming soon: Mr. Farttknocker takes a long-range shot at me as he responds to my recent post about hardcore vs. core in Modern Warfare 2. I'd better duck.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MW2 and the Tempo of War

My review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is up on Techcetera. Take a look and see if you concur. TeeBoan and I discussed the game's virtues during a hardcore team deathmatch last night.

TeeBoan is one of the folks who shares my slight annoyance at the party-chat ban during matches, but we also agree that the game is amazing.

The only problem I'm having is that most of my Xbox Live shooting buddies prefer hardcore mode to regular "core" mode. My skill is somewhat deficient in hardcore mode, and my scores are far better in core mode.

My joy in playing the game is far greater when I've scored 20 or 30 kills in a core free-for-all than when I've scored 3 kills and 16 deaths in a hardcore match.

Farttknocker is so far ahead of me in multiplayer rank that I hear only rumor -- spoken in hushed tones of awe -- of his relentless ascent. I cannot fathom how he scores so highly playing hardcore, because the kill counts in hardcore are so low compared to core mode.

My problem with hardcore, as I've said before, is that it rewards players who sit and wait for others to come to them, a passive way of playing also known as "camping." I have little patience for doing this.

The fun of the game, it seems to me, depends on the initiative of players who move around and mix it up. Otherwise, everybody sits still, camping and waiting to snipe, like the stalemate in the trenches of World War I. The hallmark of modern warfare is the speed of maneuver, the suddenness of action and violence. Erwin Rommel figured that out and put it to work in the Blitzkrieg, and George Patton read the beautiful bastard's book.

The speed of maneuvering was accelerated again when the First Air Cavalry was formed in Vietnam, as infantry was lofted around the battle zone in Huey slicks, escorted by Cobra gunships.

In the recent HBO series Generation Kill, the First Recon commander, Lt. Col. Stephen "Godfather" Ferrando, talked about how the Marines were outnumbered in Iraq and their entire strategy depended on "tempo, tempo, tempo" and "the violence of action."

Note the discussion about 1:40 into this video:

Suddenness of action probably was used long ago, too. I'm also reminded of the scene in Excalibur when Arthur, his knights outnumbered as he rides into his final battle against the forces of Mordred, says, "We'll use the old ways. Speed of horse!"

Now, I understand that a hunter's patience, waiting to ambush his prey, is a warrior's virtue that is reflected in MW2's hardcore mode. I do not mean to disparage the skills of my friends who prefer hardcore mode. Farttknocker probably is so good at it because he's a turkey hunter, and he possesses the necessary patience. It's just that I personally don't think it's as much fun to play. I prefer to keep moving!

Ghost in the Joe

Moving on, I call your attention back to my recent post showcasing the G.I. Joes I customized to resemble characters in Modern Warfare 2.

(Here you go, TeeBoan!)

There are no Modern Warfare 2 toys as yet, so I make my own.

I'll be adding to this collection soon, so stay tuned ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Midnight launch for MW2

I lined up with about 30 other folks at midnight at my hometown Walmart for the 11-10-09 release of Activision's Modern Warfare 2.

As soon as I got home with the game, I played about three missions of the campaign, and then dived into the multiplayer.

I was slaughtered in the first match by a bunch of guys who had apparently had the game longer than the hour-and-a-half since the game was officially launched. They already seemed to know the maps, and had unlocked high-level perks.

Then I found my Sythbane Squadron mates Bama Breeze and Smokin Buddy, and we teamed up for some multiplayer and started scoring some kills. It was a good start!

I made a few notes on Techcetera about the midnight madness, too, so check it out. Did you play the campaign first, or multiplayer? First impressions?

I look forward to playing with all my SB-S friends in days and weeks to come. See y'all online!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Borderlands like living in a graphic novel

My review of 2K's excellent new shooter/RPG Borderlands is up on Techcetera. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I have a siren at level 37 now. With my 4x flame elemental submachine gun, I can kill most anything. We should issue those things to our troops.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MW2 G.I. Joes

I took a break from playing Borderlands to make another G.I. Joe look like a Modern Warfare 2 character.

A recent post highlights my G.I. Joe version of Ghost. I've tweaked that character a little bit and equipped him with a better headset.

Now I've added the new Duke from G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra to my MW2 squad. As you can see, I set him up to look like the soldier on the game cover. Some details aren't exact yet, such having a camo cover on his goggles, but I'll keep refining him.

Most of the parts are off-the-shelf pieces from other G.I. Joes, or from other action figures such as Power Team. His M16A2 is modified with an AGOG scope and laser designator. I hand-painted the Screaming Eagles patch of the 101st Airborne on the side of his helmet.

Also joining the squad is Heavy Duty from G.I. Joe: ROC. Heavy Duty arrived in stores this week with Wave 2 of the ROC 12" figures. I don't know if he's analogous to any character in MW2, but Heavy Duty is without a doubt the best head sculpt of an African American man I've seen in a G.I. Joe. He looks bad to the bone. I augmented his gear with a heavy armored vest, in keeping with his character.

New game reviews

I've been busy writing reviews of recent games. Please take a look at my profile on, where you'll find my reviews of:

- IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey (loved it)

- Need for Speed: Shift (liked it)

- HALO 3: ODST (loved it)

- Wet (like Rubi)

Among those reviews, you might see comments by my stalwart Xbox Live friends and Sythbane Squadron comrades Fartknoccker, TeeBoan and Bama Breeze. Thanks, y'all!

Right now, I'm preparing to write reviews of Borderlands, Brutal Legend and Forza 3, so keep an eye out for those!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ODST Firefight screen shots

Here are a few screen shots I grabbed after a round of Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST tonight. I use the same Sun Crow emblem in Halo 3 multiplayer.

The first one below shows me having to reload my pistol at the most inconvenient moment possible ...

Below, see me taking out five enemies at once with one hammer blow, Thor-style:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Knife throwing in MW2

In the multiplayer trailer for Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2, which Fartknocckker analyzed in a recent post, the last scene shows a kill by throwing a knife. The scene renewed my longstanding interest in this arcane skill of the warrior.

When I was an high school, a contractor who laid some carpet at our house was skilled in throwing knives. He said he'd taught knife throwing in the Army. The guy could take any knife and flip it effortlessly, making it stick anywhere in the room. I was amazed.

I asked him to show me how he did it, and he tried to teach me his technique of holding the blade, and flipping the knife so that it rotated 180 degrees in flight. This technique involved judging the distance to get the right amount of spin, so the tip would be pointing at the target when it got there.

I tried and tried to do it, but I could never master this method. I had a cheap knock-off of a Sykes-Fairbairn British commando knife, which I managed to stick in a tree a few times. I ended up breaking about a half-inch off the tip of the blade of that knife, ruining its appearance. I gave up throwing knives after that, but I always thought it was cool.

I normally take a fixed-blade knife camping. I've noticed that Bear Grylls always carries a fixed-blade on his survival excursions, frequently using it to chop wood by holding the knife by the handle and pounding the back of the blade with a stick.

Bulk and weight are issues in backpacking. That's why I admired this United Cutlery Combat Commander knife I saw a few months ago in the BudK catalog, which has a full-tang skeletal frame for a slim profile and minimal bulk. It also reminded me of the knives used in Starship Troopers -- the one Clancy Brown throws to skewer Jake Busey's hand, and that Denise Richards uses to cut the snout off the brain bug.

BudK was selling the Combat Commander for a good price, so I ordered several of them -- one for myself, as well as blades for Fortiscule, jrySix and crownshend. I engraved our names on them, as you can see in the photo!

When I saw the knife thrown in the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer trailer, I was excited to see a blade similar to my Combat Commander! The scene renewed my contemplation about knife throwing.

I have a theory that the method the man tried to teach me in high school -- the 180-degree tumble -- wastes energy with superfluous movement and wind resistence. It seems to me that more energy is transferred from the thrower to the target when the knife flies as much like a spear as possible.

After exhaustive research, which consisted of a Google search and viewing about a half dozen clips on YouTube, I found a video that seems to confirm my theory. This man, whom I gather might be a Russian paratrooper or Spetsnaz commando, demonstrates a quarter-turn technique that looks deadly and effective. Holding the knife by the handle, with his index finger stretched along the spine of the blade, he throws the knife straight at the target. He hits a head-sized target with a solid THUNK from across a parking lot!

Here's another video I found that appears to be of the same Russian dude, with a slow-motion sequence showing his arm movement.

This Russian method appears to be the way to go with knife-throwing. I know that some of my gamer friends on Sythbane Squadron are veterans, such as Fartknocckker. Do any of you guys have any training or experience with throwing knives? What was your experience like? What do you make of the technique in the MW2 multiplayer video, and in the YouTube video of the Russian?

We dropped from orbit

The season's cool games are finally starting to drop out of orbit, and you know which one I'm talking about!

Fortiscule and I played through the campaign in Halo 3: ODST last night. It took us about seven hours, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We loved it. The game is great. It's more human than any previous Halo game. The characters are real people, not genetically engineered, trained-in-a-crucible Spartans, and they are very well acted by Nathan Fillion as Buck, Tricia Helfer as Dare, and all the rest of the cast.

I'll write a full review for Techcetera in the next few days, of course, but that's my first impression of ODST: thumbs up.

I've been busy writing reviews all week. The busy game season is upon us, and I don't want to get behind!

If you're into racing, take a look at my review of Need for Speed: Shift.

If sexy woman armed with pistols and swords is your bag, baby, then take a look at my review of Wet.

If you're curious about Wolfenstein, here's my review of that one, too.

We have new blogging software where I work, and so I'm figuring out how to best display my reviews with it. The new software, a new version of Movable Type, allows for a user profile page that displays all my activity on If you want to quickly find all my reviews, just pop onto that page.

I invite you to please visit my page on often. It doesn't cost you anything, but it helps put bread and butter on my table (or cereal on my TV tray, is more like it), because the more hits we have, the better our ad rates can be, and thus my job is more secure.

You can create your own profile on, too, and leave comments on my reviews. Please do that! It's fun to get feedback, when different gamers have varying opinions on games.

It looks like both Need for Speed: Shift and Halo 3: ODST allow you to take screen shots, which are posted to a corresponding web site. If you grab some screens of yourself in action, e-mail me a copy at, and I'll post them! If we have enough, I can create a gallery of Sythbane Squadron members in action. That could be a hoot!

Back to the game at hand: ODST. It's reported to be selling a gillion copies. Not surprising, because the game is great, but also because it was heralded by the best commercial for a video game ever, bar none, period. Here it is again:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fartknocckker examines MW2 trailer

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

A new Modern Warfare 2 video was released recently that revealed a lot of information that had been closely guarded.

The first was in the title of the video, “Flag Runner.” This is a new, fast-paced capture-the-flag variant in which flags are captured in about a second.

When the video begins, you can see that the weapon has reversed iron sights.

(I asked the esteemed Fartknocckker, who is an Army veteran, what the heck is a reversed iron sight, and he provided this expert explanation: Typically the rear sight of a weapon is a notch or aperture that encases the front sight, which is usually a post. In this case,the front sight has an annular shroud or ring around the post, which should be the rear sight. The MP5 and G3 are also examples of reversed sight weapons. Some rear sights can also be reversed to give you a V notch or U notch, depending on the distance from the rear sight to the front sight.)

Your teammate in front of you is sporting a shield and acts as an escort and spotter on your route.

Heads-up display elements and no team kills suggest the "core" game mode, yet there are no cross hairs, and the slightly increased bullet damage suggest hardcore mode. Is this a hybrid game type, perhaps? Or maybe this is a private match with custom settings.

The new kill streak system is demonstrated when at three kills, the standard UAV is unlocked. At four, an airdrop. And at five, a Predator missile.

The part I found very exciting was host migration in the middle of a match. No more of this nonsense of the match ending just because the host leaves. Just find another host and let’s play. Sweet.

Brok3ntrigger pointed something out to me that I had missed after viewing the video several times and overloading my synapses with eye candy.

(Fartknocckker admitted that he had, in fact, nearly soiled his brand-new Mountain Dew pants because of his enthusiastic physical response to this video. I confess that my Darth Maul underpants barely survived as well.)

At about the 1:50 mark in the video, after a knife is thrown to kill poor Mr. Bowling -- Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling, aka fourzerotwo -- sniping on a hill, the gun begins to be pulled back up into position and is slightly sideways. This is the best angle to view a suppressor AND a red dot sight. More than one attachment on a weapon at a time has been one of the most-requested features by players.

There are many other things to discover in this video, such as a bling “modifier” to weapons, but I’ll let you take another look to see what you can find.

Sythbane would like to see character customization. Big Daddy Ogre wants a “forgive” button for team kills and I already got my wish with multiple attachments. What would you like to see in Modern Warfare 2 or a future Call of Duty title? Leave a comment and let us know.

A powerful ODST trailer

Here's the new live-action trailer for Halo 3: ODST. This is absolutely awesome. I can't imagine why they can't get their act together to create a Halo film, if this is what it would look like.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

G.I. Joe customized as MW2's Ghost

Combining my hobbies whenever I can doubles the fun for me. As a gamer, I'm looking forward to Modern Warfare 2. I also collect and customize 1/6-scale G.I. Joes.

When I saw the mock-up of MW2 character Ghost that Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling posted, I knew I had to create a G.I. Joe version of the character. I love the subtle, spooky camo skull pattern on his balaclava, and I figured I could paint it.

Hasbro recently renewed the 12-inch G.I. Joes, leading up to the current wave of G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra toys. In the wave prior to the ROC toys, there were two Joes with balaclavas: Beachhead and Shockblast.

The new generation of 1/6 heads are an improvement, with heavy rubber molds that hold good sculpts while still being durable for rough play. But Hasbro is also cutting corners, and instead of cloth shirts, most of them now have molded clothes on the upper bodies. I hate these molded upper bodies; they look cheap, and the articulation has less range of motion.

For Ghost, I used the molded balaclava heads of Beachhead and Shockblast. But Beachhead has a molded commando sweater, and Shockblast has a molded flak vest. I transplanted the heads onto bodies from a Duke and a Dusty, both of which have only molded T-shirts and look better wearing shirts. (Transplanting heads is an ugly but necessary chore for customizing. I won't go into the gruesome details here.)

Painting only required three colors: flat black, flat tan and flat dark tan. Water-based acrylics work best on plastic G.I. Joes, I find. I repainted Beachhead's green head to black, and gave Shockblast's black balaclava a bit of flat black to take the sheen off.

Using a fine brush, I painted the subtle skull cheekbones, jaw and teeth. I used the lighter tan to highlight the cheekbones.

Next, to assemble the uniform: Hasbro recycles G.I. Joe weapons and accessories year after year, so I scavenged some other toys for their gear. The Oakley glasses were a problem, because the ones I had were clear instead of tinted. Some glossy black paint took care of that. I put Oakleys on the Beachhead version and modern combat goggles on the Shockblast version.

The black jacket comes from a $1 action figure clothing set from Dollar Tree, believe it or not. It's actually from a firefighter outfit, with a bright yellow stripe removed. I bought a whole bunch of these sets because they work well for customizing.

The end result is pretty good, I think. I like the eyes of the Beachhead sculpt better, so that's my favorite of the two.

It just goes to show you how it would be possible to make a special Call of Duty series of G.I. Joes if Hasbro and Activision and Infinity Ward cut a licensing deal. I made these guys with a few dabs of paint, off-the-shelf accessories from other G.I. Joes and a shirt that literally cost a few cents.

Adding to my COD theme, I was dabbling with a blue paint marker recently and painted a G.I. Joe's M16A4 with a blue tiger paint scheme. Now it looks like Dusty is good at head-shots!

Now I need to find a good head sculpt with a Mohawk so I can make a Soap MacTavish character ...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Xbox Live update brings armor

Check out the new suit!

Republic clone armor is the first thing I bought on the new avatar marketplace on Xbox Live, after today's interface update. I'm eager to see what kind of things my friends customize their avatars with. Fortuscule got a guitar, but it didn't show up on the screen grab, for some reason.

What do y'all think about the new features?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra rocks!

Go see G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra! Fortiscule, Crownshend and I saw it together on Saturday, and it's great! Here are a few of my reactions, with no spoilers:

- Scarlett is way hot, especially in her black body armor.

- The friendship and banter between Duke and Ripcord is entertaining. Both are cooler characters than I expected.

- I had been dubious of the accelerator suits, but they turned out to be a minor part of the overall movie and worked well in the film. They looked great in the chase scene that's teased in the trailer.

- The over-the-top technology and gadgets are so prevalent, so overwhelming, that you either buy into the whole thing or you don't. We just sat back and enjoyed it.

- The action is fast, fast, fast. Your attention is so riveted that you hardly realize what a long film it is until it's over.

- The only thing I hated was the immobile mouth on Snake Eyes' mask. What was that supposed to be? The outline of his real mouth? Come on. Put a ventilated mask on it and let Ray Park breathe, for crying out loud. The mask made one of the coolest characters too weird. Ray Park's swordsmanship and martial arts, though, are incredible.

- There are so many great characters, there are endless possibilities for sequels and spin-offs. They should get cracking on that!

The Toys

The 12" Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow action figures were released prior to the movie, so I already had them. After leaving the movie, I found the new batch of four 12" action figures at Target. It's Duke, Ripcord, Cobra Commander and a Neo Viper. Duke and Ripcord are excellent head sculpts. I'll review the toys later, because knowing is half the battle.