Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Nuclear Man (story)

The Nuclear Man
        I have no idea what I’m doing. I should do, being the former apprentice of a world-renowned nuclear physicist - surely he picked me for a reason - but something tells me this is a situation no scientist ever really prepares for.
        First there was that accident at STAR Labs, with the particle accelerator, and then again with Dr Stein...I think I’m hexed. The universe can prove me wrong by letting Doc be alive, somewhere, somehow, though I know the chances are slim.
        Right now, it’s hard to focus. As if trying to control atomic superpowers wasn’t difficult enough on it’s own, I have to do it with Emily stuck in my head. Our head. Whatever.

(Click for detail)

        I should probably explain. After the particle accelerator malfunctioned, I went looking for Dr Martin Stein, to see if he could help me understand these new ‘fire’ powers I’d developed. He called me a meta-human, and it turned out not be fire at all - I was literally making atomic energy, like a living nuclear reactor. Dr Stein’s lab was built right on top of one, and he was trying to tap something called a ‘firestorm matrix’ when a hired gun tried to steal his work. Thank God the whole facility didn’t go up, but whatever Stein was working on blasted him, his assistant Emily Sung and me. Something impossible happened; my powers saved me and Emily, who was standing next to me, but Stein was gone. And when I say Emily and I were ‘saved’, I mean we were...fused.
        I’m not even kidding. We’re currently sharing a superpowered body (my handsome body, to be exact) and while I control the arms and legs, Emily’s the brain. We’ve only just begun to see what this body can do, but already we’ve been able to transmute metals. How sick is that! It’s mainly Em’s work - I direct the power, she does the calculations, remembers formulas, blah blah important stuff.
        But right this moment, I have no idea what I’m doing. Em’s gone silent and this headcase in a hood just did something impossible too; he threw out a miniature black hole. You can’t transmute a black hole! There’s all this energy ‘round my hands, and I’ve got no clue how to use it.
        Unless I go for the guy. I might be able to throw some of this energy, like a fireball.
        I aim through the black hole, which has started to weaken, directing my atomic fire towards the perp. I just want to knock him down, not damage (or kill).

(Click for detail)

A vicious jet of atomic energy fizzes through the air, ignoring the now-fading black hole’s pull and tearing a hole through the other guy’s outstretched hand.
        Ronnie! Careful!
        Oh now Emily chooses to resurface.
        The black hole is completely gone, as is Headcase’s hand; there’s a smouldering stump in its place. Oh my god, I did that. Thankfully, the wound’s cauterised, but I still just took a guy’s hand off.
        What were you thinking?
        Shut up, Em.
        Sirens. I need to go. The police will take care of his wound, but if he uses his powers on them...
        Oh man. I. Have. No. Idea. What. I’m. Doing.

To be continued?

So for anyone not too familiar with their DC heroes, this is Firestorm. I wanted to do something with him after seeing this week's episode of The Flash and thought a photomanip was the best way to go. The second image and the story was me getting a bit carried away. Officially speaking, this does tie into Countdown to Justice, though I have no idea how as I only did this as a spur-of-the-moment project yesterday. Nonetheless, I hope you've enjoyed this story!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Istari Adventures: Back In My Day

Back to Middle-earth for my latest brickfilm. What did Gandalf get up to in his youth?


This video was technically a long time in the making. I first had the idea for it this time last year, and wanted to make a Hobbit brickfilm in time for the release of The Desolation of Smaug. I put it aside because I had no orc minifigures at the time and went to work on An Istari Halloween, but that failed and I was left without any Middle-earth mischief for a while. Sometime later I found 79014 Dol Guldur Battle and 79011 Dol Guldur Ambush at supermassive discounts, then in July I finally scripted the thing...and filmed it last week. Procrastinating seems to be strong in this one, mmmmm.

I also really wanted an excuse to use that Bilbo minifig. It was an exclusive with the pre-order of the LEGO Hobbit video game, so I thought I'd missed my chance of getting it, and then found a bundle at GAME with the minifig and a DLC, for half price! I won't be able to play it until I go home for the Christmas holidays, since I couldn't bring my PS3 to uni, but I've already got some use out of that minifigure.

"By the power of Grayskull!"

The fight scene was a lot of fun to do. Parts of it are in homage to Fancy Pants' amazing LEGO The Force Unleashed brickfilm, which you need to go and watch right after you've finished reading this blog post. I tried grading it a greenish tint, to make it feel more like how Dol Guldur appears in the films, and between that and the very dark lighting I think I got the tone right. Some of the effects are a bit dodgy, though. Next time I do lightning, I shall definitely be spending some time getting to be more familiar with After Effects' 'advanced lightning' function. It came out looking okay, but not amazing.

There's not much more to say about this brickfilm. It's just another short bit of lighthearted fun, and I hope I get around to making another episode of Istari Adventures (I have the lines collected for three more, though I have no idea which order or when I'm going to film them). Thanks again to Jorden Davis for voicing Bilbo, and I hope you enjoyed the video!

I leave you with a cut frame, of another hobbit going about his daily hobbit chores.

"Are those pumpkins or carrots?"

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Countdown to Justice: Volume I summary

Countdown to Justice
Volume I

This is essentially a table of contents for Volume I of my LEGO Justice League origin story, Countdown to Justice. I worked on this over the course of about four months; I wanted to create my own 'Dawn of Justice', incorporating my favourite aspects of DC comics and other media, but knew I wouldn't have time to make a full brickfilm. Overall, I'm pleased with this volume, though the story in the second will be a lot more focused.

Chapter 1: The Martian
Chapter 2: Look To The Stars
Chapter 3: Just a Hypocrite in a Cape
Chapter 4: Broken Spirits
Chapter 5: You're Not Alone
Chapter 6: Deal with the Devil Ray
Chapter 7: Paying a Fine
Chapter 8: Freak Like Me
Chapter 9: The Brave and the Bold
Chapter 10: Risks
Chapter 11: Hope and Fear

Volume II will begin in February, with Who Rules The Night, and will be followed by Volume III, the finale, later in 2015.

The Story So Far

Warning: contains spoilers.

A year after the events of Man of Steel, three parties have taken an interest in 'Superman': Batman, vigilante guardian of Gotham; the Martian Manhunter; and CEO of LexCorp, Lex Luthor. While Martian Manhunter seeks to unite with Superman to halt an oncoming threat, Luthor wishes to find a way to destroy him should the need arise, and uses the scientific discoveries of Dr Milton Fine to uncover an alien metal which could prove useful in creating an anti-Kryptonian weapon.

The k-metal is recovered from deep within the sea - where it crash-landed on Earth, inside of an alien ship - by Devil Ray, and his meeting with Luthor is intercepted by Aquaman and the Flash, who decide to find what Luthor bought from Devil Ray and destroy it.

Meanwhile, the Batman (who harbours great distrust for the Man of Tomorrow) goes to Ivy University to spy on Milton Fine, but overhears a meeting between him and Luthor. During their conversation, in which it becomes clear Fine knows more about the alien wreckage than he is letting on, Batman is sought out by a Parallax Corps ring, which tries to induct him into the corps. He uses its power to try and appregend Luthor and Fine, but a blue-ring-empowered Superman drains its energy. With the yellow ring drained, Batman disappears into the night, and the divide between the two superheroes grows ever wider.

What To Expect

Volume II will pick up soon after Volume I left off, focusing more on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (who only made a brief appearance in the first volume). It will delve into the latter superhero's lore, as we follow her moving about in modern day America, and we will see the animosity between Batman and Superman reach its peak.

You can also expect at least one interlude into Milton Fine's research, as the mysterious scientist's plans advance further.

While Volume II won't start until February, keep checking this blog for updates, and I will continue to upload brickfilms to my YouTube channel. I may also begin to blog on my second channel, though I find doing so hideously awkward. Overall, there's a lot more to come from Jam Pot Studios, and I hope you'll be with us every step of the way!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven: Hope and Fear
       The strength that Batman felt coursing through his veins was phenomenal. The ring was feeding him information, telling him how to use its power, begging for its golden light to be unleashed. Begging to bring fear.
       As Batman understood it, the ring’s functions were activated and controlled by his imagination and his ability to induce fear in others. He lived on the fear of criminals, and the more they felt, the brighter his light would burn. He would begin his crusade through the streets of Gotham anew-
He heard movement, and came back to the present. Luthor was preparing to make a run for it, down the hall. He would not get away.
       The fear of criminals...
       Batman knew what Luthor was capable of, and of just some of the heinous deeds he had already done, the lives he had wasted. It was time to put his ring to use.
       Luthor ran, and a swarm of screeching bats, all made of yellow energy, soared into him. In mid-air they became a set of hands, then chains binding Luthor’s arms and legs.
       Batman flew up close, and lifted Luthor into the air.
       “I know what you and Fine are doing, Luthor,” he said. “And I know all about your arrangements in Central City, and about that satellite you have flying over Kansas, and with the Devil Ray. I know your secrets.”
       He threw the still-shackled Luthor down the hall. His prisoner cried out when his back slammed into a wall. Yellow straps appeared around his mouth, silencing him.
       “You fear the people,” Batman continued. “You fear what a few men and women with great power can do, and you plan to strike us off.”
       He tore off the straps by hand. They floated away for a moment, then disappeared into less than air.
       “What was in the wreckage that is so valuable? A weapon? Is that was the ‘K-metal’ is? Because you know,, I have a superweapon of my own.”
       Power at 96%.
Batman ignored the ring. He still had enough power left to finish the job.
       Power at 93%.
       A bolt of blue streaked down the corridor. Batman was torn through a wall, and out into the open air. His concentration broken, Luthor’s shackles vanished.
       Batman looked down at his ring. It was spitting out yellow sparks, like an angered snake.
       Power at 86%. Bruce Wayne of Sector 2814, you are advised to return to Qward for-
       “Drop the ring, Batman!” He knew that voice. Where he had only heard it on the Batcave computer, now the speaker was here in the flesh, floating above the ground in front of him. His clothes were the same, but now he was bedecked entirely in blue, with a strange symbol on his chest. A symbol similar to that on Batman’s chest, and on his yellow ring.
       Bruce Wayne of Earth, you are advised to return to-
       “Drop the ring!” Superman shouted, and brandished a ring of his own, on his right hand. A blue ring.

(Click for detail)

       Blue Lantern ring detected. Parallax Corpsman 2814, return to Qward immediately-
       Superman rushed forwards and grabbed Batman’s left hand, trying to pry the ring off his finger. Batman could feel his hold on it slipping and lashed out, sending yellow sparks into Superman’s eyes. It gave him a moment, long enough to break free from the distracted lantern and flip back, sending out a large, yellow fist. It crashed against Superman’s chest and shattered.
       Power at 75%. Why was his power fading so quickly?
       “Batman, the ring is wearing you! You have to remove it!”
       “And you’d know all about controlling power, wouldn’t you...Clark?”
       Batman turned and flew up, only to be pulled down by his heel and slammed into the grass. Superman pinned him down and pressed his blue ring against Batman’s yellow ring. There was a flash of green as the energies meshed, the yellow fighting back against the invading blue but slowly being absorbed.
       Power at 66%...power at 50%...
       Batman screamed in anger and threw out all the energy he could, a wave of bright yellow that sent Superman flying into the side of the university. “You hypocrite!” screamed Batman. “This is my chance to make a difference! With this power, I can bring crime in my city to a definitive end!”
       Superman pulled himself out of his crater in the wall. “At...what cost?”
       Power at 33%.
       “There’s nothing I have to give that I wouldn’t gladly sacrifice for the cause! Can you say the same?” Superman stayed silent as he flew at the yellow lantern, and before Batman could react, Superman had spun at inhuman speed and caught him in a headlock. He pressed his ring to Batman’s, and their energies were at war once again.
       Power at 20%...14%...5%...
       The yellow light died, and Superman pulled away. Its energy almost depleted, the ring flew straight off Batman’s finger. Batman’s yellow uniform faded, leaving his old black suit behind.
       Before the yellow ring could disappear, Superman focused and fired twin jets of searing heat. The ring, fully deactivated, fell to the ground.
       Without the ring, Batman slumped, and Superman unceremoniously dumped him on the grass as he took off his own ring. A figure walked out of the shadows - a strange, grey-skinned being, who took back the ring and gave Superman a respectful bow.
       “My many thanks, Son of El. Without a green ring to give mine full functionality, I would not have been able to withstand the yellow lantern’s attacks for long.”
       “Well, be more careful next time,” Clark chuckled. “You won’t always have a Kryptonian around to lend a hand.”
       Superman watched as Saint Walker donned his ring and regained his radiant Blue Lantern uniform.
       “What will you do with the Parallax Corpsman?” Walker asked.
       At that moment, Batman sprung to his feet. Superman whipped around and fixed him with a severe stare.
       “We need to talk.”
       The Batman said nothing. He threw up a smokescreen from his belt and ran off into the shadows. The fallen yellow ring was also gone. Superman was about to follow, using his x-ray vision as a guide, but a gentle hand fell on his shoulder.
       “Let him go. The ring is useless without a power battery, and he was acting under Parallax’s influence.”
       But deep down, Superman knew that wasn’t entirely true. Now he knew for certain: the Batman was more of a threat than anyone had ever imagined.

(Click for detail)


       There was a knock on what remained of the office door as Fine set about reordering his scattered papers. Not that they would matter soon.
       He turned to see Luthor standing in the doorway.
       “And now you see why I need your research, Fine,” Luthor growled. “But I don’t expect to be kept in the dark, if we are to continue our arrangement.”
       “You mean our partnership, Lex. The original deal has changed, and I require your Metropolis facilities to continue Consent, and I shall tell you all that you wish to know. The truth, and nothing else. Do we have a new deal?”
       Luthor swallowed his pride, along with his fears of Fine’s true nature.
       “We have a deal.”

To be continued in Volume II...

That's it for Volume I of Countdown to Justice! Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it thus far. Volume II begins in February, and I will soon be uploading a summary and behind-the-scenes look at Volume I, so (as ever) stay tuned!

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten: Risks
       Dr. Milton Fine’s office was cluttered. There was no floor, save for a canyon trail between mountains of marking and assignment papers piled up at almost minifigure height. Desk lamps dotted the room in odd places - on the shelves, under the marking, in the bin, everywhere but the desk itself - while Fine’s drawers contained little more than half-eaten bagels and biro pens that had dried up years ago.
       If nothing else, Fine was an eccentric, the like of which Batman had never seen. Fine also happened to be a genius; his and Dr. Palmer’s research into ‘dwarf star lensing’ would make the idea of shrinking an object, or even a living being, a genuine possibility, though from the files it looked like both scientists wanted to keep it on the down-low.
       With a little effort (Fine’s computer was suspiciously well-protected) Batman managed to hack Fine’s computer, and was about to begin the download of Fine’s data when he heard footsteps and voices coming from down the hall. He recognised one of them immediately. After all, he had gone into business with the guy.
       By the time Milton Fine and Lex Luthor entered the office, Batman was safely outside, in the rain, hiding in the shadows of the overly-ornate (and, aptly, ivy-vine covered) windowframe. He adjusted the sensors in his batsuit, and with after short buzz he could hear the conversation inside.
       “-still do not understand how your ‘research’ could have predicted the presence of the K-metal, Dr. Fine.”
       “The mineral gives off a very peculiar kind of radiation,” Fine replied. “I was on a trawler at the time, when the ship came down. The sailors were too superstitious to go anywhere near it, and by the time I could get a crew together, I knew it would have sunk too far. But thanks to your funding...” He trailed off.
       “Now that the alien wreck is in your hands, Dr. Fine, what do you plan to do with it?”
       There was silence for a moment, before Fine resigned himself to telling Luthor the truth. “From what you’ve described, Mr. Luthor, it seems you brought back the craft’s computer. I will endeavour to interface with this machine.”
       “No matter the risks?”
       “No matter the risks.”
       Luthor went quiet for a moment, and Batman risked taking a peek. He turned his head slightly, just in time to see Luthor pull a gun on Dr. Fine. Fine was so surpised he fell back against his desk. Then Batman saw something odd in his expression, and realised that Fine’s reaction was forced. He looked back to Luthor.
       “You though I wouldn’t do some background checks on you, doctor?” he said calmly, with a hint of smugness. “You don’t exist, ‘Milton Fine’, but unlike other nothings, we genuinely cannot find anything on you. Prior to the beginning of your tenure at the university, ten years ago, the evidence clearly shows that you did not exist. So, answer me this, doctor - who are you? Really?”

(Click for detail)

       Dr. Fine started to laugh. Batman listened for his response, but a flash of yellow caught his attention. At first he barely registered it, thinking it was a plane...but it was hurtling towards him. Faster and faster, a blinding bolt of golden light-
       Bruce Wayne of Earth.
       His left arm snapped out.
       You have been chosen to represent space sector 2814.
       A light weight on his middle finger.
       You have the ability to instill great fear.
       Strength spreading through his body.
       Welcome to the Parallax Corps.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine: The Brave and the Bold
      Having chased Black Manta, or ‘Devil Ray’, to Arthur’s own hometown of Beachrock, Arthur made the mistake of the young and naive: blind confidence. At no point while he tracked Black Manta did he believe he might not be strong, fast or skilled enough to defeat his enemy, and bring him to trial for his crimes.
      The barbed spear being raised triumphantly above him was proof of that mistake. Arthur’s enemy had gained the upper hand, and now Arthur was lying on the beach, several ribs cracked and recovering from a dizzying blow to the head, and he was sure that this internal ‘damage report’, for all the good it would do, would be his last. His trident was lying metres from him. He barely had the strength to stand. Manta was saying something, and then Arthur felt a rush of air as the spear came down towards him.
      Then another rush of air, and the spear never came. Arthur looked around, and slowly his vision unblurred. Manta was retreating back into the sea.
      Can’t...let him...escape...Arthur wearily got to his feet, fighting the urge to collapse and fall into unconsciousness. Black Manta couldn’t get away. not after all this...
      He tripped over his own feet, at the boots of a figure in red.
      “Was passing through when I heard a lot of macho grunting. Got a feeling that a certain orange-clad superhero might be needing a hand,” he said, and then pulled Arthur to his feet.
      Arthur knew this face, from the news. The Flash. The fastest man alive.
      “ did...”
      “You’re hurt pretty bad. C’mon, let’s get you inside and fix you up. Know anywhere we can go?”
      Arthur nodded and pointed to the lighthouse in the distance. The Flash said nothing as he slung Arthur over his shoulder (with much difficulty) and raced off down the beach.

(Click for detail)


      “I have to find that crate,” Arthur said. Thanks to his superhuman physiology, he had mostly healed, but was still a little tired and sore. “Whatever Blac...Devil Ray, was selling to Luthor, it’s bad news. I’ve been tracking him on-and-off for months, mainly the last week or so.”
      “You don’t have to do it alone,” Flash offered. Arthur tried to wave him away, but Flash continued. “Things have been quiet in Central City lately. I have time. Plenty of time. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t accept my help, and who knows what Luthor’s latest science project is?”
      Arthur had to admit the thought of coming up against any one of the drones Luthor had sold to the military filled him with dread, and even fear.
      “Alright,” he said. “Alright. I could use a hand.”
      With that settled, Arthur leaned back lazily, letting the Flash know he would not be getting any more out of Aquaman for now. They could wait a few minutes before heading out, and if Arthur was honest, the concept of this partnership was a little nerve-wracking. What if the fastest man alive slowed down his invesitgation? Then a different question struck him.
      “What were you doing here in Beachrock?”
      “What, because I’m a superhero I can’t take a vacation?”

To be continued...

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight: Freak Like Me
     It’s been over a year since Steve and I escaped from Themyscira, and you know what? I don’t miss it at all.
     All my life, I was ‘the princess’, gifted by the gods, and future leader of the Amazons - bred to be a warrior queen, taught only of strengh and authority - but that never meant anything. I know they all thought I was too much trouble, too unruly to be a ruler. I guess running away with (of all creatures) a man only proves that they’re right.
     The first thing I saw when I arrived in the world of men was a gigantic green monument to a woman, and my hopes were raised. Even now, I see little reason for our ancient distrust of men. Times have changed, and this isn’t a world roamed by Herakles or his like anymore.
     The new world does have its fair share of problems. Some things, like poverty and famine, never change. War is still present, and there are always rich men living off the poor. Coming to think about it, I see some reason why we Amazons distrust men, but I could give you a list of Amazons I don’t trust either.
     I’ve spent most of my time so far in the streets of ‘Washington DC’, this modern Athens, trying to help people. I have great strength, among other things, where humans today have allowed themselves to become weaker and more fragile. I feel as though I have a responsibility to these people who, without knowing it, accepted me as one of their own, though my sword has stayed sheathed for some time now. Apparently, men don’t tend to use them anymore; it has been replaced by newer, more potent bringers of death.
     And here I am in Metropolis, away from Steve (who has returned to his work with the government), away from my mother, trying to focus on the one thing that brought me here. I know he’s an alien, and I know this goes against everything I was taught in Themyscira, but I need help understanding my powers. Superman is fast, strong and can fly, all things I too am capable of, but where my skill with a sword is superior to any man alive today, I don’t fully understand my other, preternatural strengths. If he can train me, show me how to control my abilities as he has learned to...
     He is here. Somewhere in Metropolis, a city of eighteen million people.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven: Paying a Fine
      Deep beneath his mansion, Bruce Wayne was frantically typing away at his control desk. Six monitors, all showing the same thing: LexCorp purchases. He had gone to the lengths of securing a joint venture between Wayne Enterprises and Luthor’s company just to gain access to LexCorp files, to see if his suspicions were right.
      After hours of poring over every detail, Bruce finally found something intriguing: a large amount of money was being funneled into the research of a Dr. Milton Fine at Ivy University.
      He pondered this for a moment. According to this data, Lex had many pet science projects at universities across the globe, but none of them were as expensive as Dr. Fine appeared to be.
      A short amount of digging later, and Bruce found something even more perplexing. No records of Milton Fine go back further than ten years ago: no birth certificate, no high school yearbook. It’s as if he didn’t exist until ten years ago.
      The Batman was already leaving the Batcave by the time the control desk went into standby.
      The ‘world’s greatest detective’ couldn’t let a mystery like this slip by. It was time to pay Dr. Fine a visit.


      At first it was a tiny pinprick of yellow light, and then it burst into a supernova of gold over the Earth; a single, yellow ring, shrouded in the equally yellow energy of fear.
      As the ring began its descent, another anomaly appeared: a strange figure bedecked in blue, who shot after the ring as though his life depended on it.
      He needed to be faster. If he didn’t get within range of the ring and drain its energy before it found its new host, then the Parallax Corps could make a foothold on the Earth. If that happened, if the yellow ring did make the bond, Walker wouldn’t be able to get close enough to drain it again, not without the presence of green light.
      Whoever made these rings had a cruel sense of humour, he thought, and then tucked his arms in and began flying faster.
      He had to catch that ring.
      He would not let Parallax take another body. All will be well.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

The next few weeks may be a bit rocky, but Countdown to Justice is planned to continue on Wednesday September 3rd.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Deal with the Devil Ray
     The sun beat down over the Floridian town of Beachrock with a fury it ordinarily reserved for the desert. Though he would never admit it, Luthor was glad to have traded his usual suit and tie for more comfortable, thinner clothes. Still, it was only for a few hours, while he completed his business with Devil Ray.
     Dominic was completing the transfer of Devil Ray’s payment before the latter’s eyes. Luthor had no intention of double-crossing him, but the Ray was not to know that. Even one as far removed from society as him knew of Luthor’s fearsomely duplicitous reputation.
     Resting on the scalding sands, recently unloaded from Devil Ray’s submersible craft, was a large crate, the size of a pickup truck. LexCorp engineers were examining every detail of its contents, and so far it checked out. The Ray had kept up his end of the bargain.
     “Interesting name,” Dominic suddenly blurted, his nerves clearing getting the better of him. He tried avoiding the Ray’s one, red, strip of an eye, but the crimson glow quickly caught his gaze.
     Devil Ray leaned down, inches from Dominic’s face. “I did not choose it.” “T-then what is y-your r-real name?”
     The Ray considered this for a moment. He checked Dominic’s tablet computer, and read that the transfer was complete. He fixed Dominic with his red visor once more. “...David...”
     With that, he strode purposefully towards Luthor himself. “Our trade is complete. If you wish to contact me again, use my established business channel. Nobody is welcome in the Devil’s Deep save the Manta, and next time I will not make an exception for your messenger.”
     “Understood.” Luthor stood his ground. Not a blink or a flinch. After all, the Ray’s only advantage over him was his strength.
     As Devil Ray stomped back to the crate to the back of a LexCorp flatbed truck, Luthor smiled. While the crate’s other contents would no doubt prove of great use to him, it was the K-metal that made this purchase so worthwhile. If Dr. Fine’s research continued to be correct, the K-metal would-
     A sudden creaking, and Devil Ray’s submersible began falling. There must have been a sharp drop off shortly into the water, as in moments it had completely disappeared. Luckily the flatbed was already off the beach, as Luthor was sure that had it not been, it too could have been sent spiralling into the deep.
     Devil Ray’s attention was fixed on the shoreline, where a figure burst out of the water and landed with such force it scattered the sand beneath him, making a small crater. He was dressed in a tunic of orange mail, and wore tight trousers not dissimilar to those of a wetsuit. His expression was severe, and half-covered by strands of long blond hair. In his right hand, he clutched a golden trident.
     “Manta!” he shouted, and swung his trident at Devil Ray, sending him flying back across the beach. He tried to land a blow on the Ray’s head before he could get up, but the Ray was too fast. He got to his feet and drew out a small shaft that was dwarfed in his hand. It grew into a barbed spear.
     Luthor quitely called Dominic back over to him. His chauffeur scrambled to get both of them back into the car, but Luthor had to watch for a moment more.
     “Manta!” the orange-clad warrior - who the media so mockingly dubbed ‘Aquaman’ - bellowed. “Your diabolical trading is at an end! No more will you defile the seas!”
     Devil Ray’s response was unwavering. If he was at all intimidated by Aquaman, he didn’t show it. Luthor was impressed. “I am a humble businessman. If you do not like the treasures I have to sell, be they wrecks or rare marine life, then simply don’t buy them. What authority do you have to stop me?”
     “The authority of the king of Atlantis!”
     And as the beach finally descended into chaos, Luthor dropped into his car and sped away. He could hear the thunderous blows dealt behind him as the car careened away down the path, back onto the coastal highway.
     “Get me to Ivy University.”

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

Countdown to Justice continues this Saturday, August 30th!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Five

Chapter Five: You’re Not Alone
     “It must be tough,” Clark began, “having had Mars in the first place. I never knew my parents, or Krypton, but you...I’m so sorry, Mr. J’onzz.”
     So polite. “Call me J’onn.”
     Here was a feeling J’onn had not expected to find in Smallville: relief. For the first time since H’ronmeer’s Curse, J’onn did not feel alone. Clark knew what it felt like to be the last of a great race, to have an entire peoples’ legacy on his shoulders.
     Clark had found a similar solace from the Martian. J’onn was not only the last of his race, but had suffered a more terrible loss. What Clark had only dreamt of having, J’onn had had and lost, yet here he was, fighting back. That gave Clark a glimmer of hope, a pure blue light in his soul showing him a tomorrow where he wouldn’t have to be alone.
     “You’re not a hard man to find, Clark.” J’onn smiled. “Take it from a detective, you want to cover your trail more carefully. There’s no telling who else out there might be looking for you.”
     “I dread to think. Even in this last year, I’ve made some enemies.”
     J’onn looked at him quizically. “A man with the strength to move mountains worries about the likes of Morgan Edge, and Glen Glenmorgan?”
     Before Clark could protest, J’onn continued. “I know the game, son. On Mars, I was also a detective, and I made enemies, even my own brother Ma'alefa'ak. I can help you, Clark, if you’ll have me.”
“Why are you so interested in me?”
     “Because the world’s interested. When you fought Zod, when you saved the Earth from his army, the humans were faced with two truths that would change their world forever. The first was that not only is there life in the great void, but that it is significantly more powerful than any human military can defeat. That’s a terrifying thought for anyone, and the whole world now feels that terror. But the second truth, and this is a great comfort to many, is that not all alien life is malicious. You have shown them that there is always hope, and that is why they call you Superman - you’re more than they are, but you’re still a man.”
     At this, Clark was silent. There was no way to respond to something like that. J’onn had such immense confidence in Clark, though they had only met that night.
     “And Clark, you need not do this alone.”
     They walked deeper into Shoulder Gorge in total silence as weight of J’onn’s last comment settled on them both. There were others fighting the good fight all over the world, who could be summoned if the need arose. The two aliens hoped that day would never come, but fate was drawing that day closer and closer. The countdown had already begun.
     “What helped you, growing up with godlike power,” J’onn asked. “What anchored you to humanity?”
     Clark grinned. “Back in high school, I was captain of the football team. It felt so good to be a normal kid, on that field, playing a normal sport, and I was good at it. I cherished those games more than...more than anything.” He stopped for a moment. “How about you, J’onn? What helps you, when you feel a little more alien than usual?”
     He thought about it for a second, and then it came to him. “Chocolate.”

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Countdown to Justice, on August 27th, where we head to Florida for a meeting with the dreaded Devil Ray! Remember to follow the blog for regular updates.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Four

Chapter Four: Broken Spirits
     “Ask not what LexCorp can do for you, but what you can do for LexCorp, Miss Swann.” I lean across the table and peer behind Patricia Swann’s hard grey eyes. “Your father’s research - I know it exists - is of great interest to me.
     “You came to me looking for a job, hoping for...what? Help, for old times’ sake?” I shake my head. “If you want me to alleviate some of your debts, then you will have to play ball. I need something in return. Every piece of data your father and his colleagues ever collected on the ‘traveller’ would be a good place to start.
     “Think about it, Miss Swann.”
     She slams the door shut behind her. I know I could simply take the data from her, but ordinarily I am a man who possesses everything I could possibly desire. Now, someone else has something I want. I’d like to savour the feeling, and the acquisition of those files will be so much sweeter when Patty Swann’s spirit breaks. Then, if I am right - and I am seldom wrong - I will be one step closer to understanding the red and blue god that now walks among us. Her spirit will break; she has too much to lose if she does not earn my favour.
     Every man (and woman) has a price. Except for me. Lex Luthor.
     As devastating as the damage to Metropolis was, LexCorp has never seen such affluence. I have made it my personal mission to rebuild this great city into a Metropolis of the future. LexCorp tech is being integrated into every new home, shop or office, and the people of Metropolis, of the world, already praise me for it. So many construction contracts; I barely knew where to begin.
     Yet no matter how much of my time and money I pump back into this city, and all the technological gifts I have given that will have long-term benefits, the ‘Man of Steel’ is who these people shower with the most love. And why? He caused almost as much damage as the invaders, and his only real skill, beyond some physiological advances, is that he knows how to throw a punch. He is a toddler, not a saviour, his only instinct to lash out like a wild animal.
     But any wild beast can be tamed.
     The door opens again, too soon to be Miss Swann. It’s Reagan.
     “Sir? Dr. Fine’s coordinates were correct.”
     I lean back in my chair. This news is improving my mood. “And Devil Ray was successful?”
     “Yes sir. The alien wreckage has been recovered. The’s real.”
     And just like that, I have a leash to tame the beast.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

This week, there will be two chapters of Countdown to Justice! Chapter Five will be released this Saturday, August 23rd, and then the regular schedule will resume next week with Chapter Six being released Wednesday 27th August. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Three

As Countdown to Justice continues, we start to take a look at how others have reacted to the sudden appearance of 'Superman', starting in Gotham City...

Chapter Three: Just a Hypocrite in a Cape
     It’s been a year since the end of the world.
     A spaceship descended on Metropolis. Nearly a million people died. Millions more were injured or lost their homes. The power of the U.S. military barely cracked a dent in the ship’s hull thanks to gravitic technology we can’t understand, no matter how advanced our scientists think they are. Top-secret reports I acquired show that it was alien technology that eventually repelled the invaders; the very craft this ‘Superman’ arrived in was what saved our world, but not all of our people.
     A million people.
     Now we know we’re not alone in the universe. Now we know that our technology and our ‘civilisation’ hasn’t brought us that far at all, and I wonder (not for the first time) if policing the streets of Gotham is the best use of my time.
     Crime-rates are higher than ever, the highest in the country, and yet every night I dress in cape and cowl and chase any one of a dozen theatrical criminals through Gotham’s alleys and backstreets.
     Those reports call him ‘Kal-El’. The media call him Superman. I call him a potential threat. He can lift cars, fly at supersonic speed, and project beams of heat from his eyes. How can we be sure that one day, Kal-El won’t turn on us as his own people did? He executed a member of his own race. That doesn’t bode well for us.
     I’ve given him a year to play saviour, but he’s forgotten the truth about the Battle of Metropolis. A Wayne satellite saw him destroy a multi-storey parking lot. Great responsibility comes with the kind of power he has. People in Gotham have died under my watch, but never on a scale like this.
     A million people, Superman.
     Some might call me a hypocrite or a scare-monger, but if I catch the slighest whiff that Superman is becoming a threat to America, to the Earth, then I will take action. Everyone has a weakness, and I’ll find his.
     The Batman will come for him.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

Follow the blog to be the first to know when a new chapter arrives! We take a break next week, and Chapter Four will be released on August 20th.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Two

Take a trip to Smallville in the latest chapter of Countdown to Justice.

Chapter Two: Look To The Stars
      The journey to Smallville is not long. Perhaps not a blink of an eye, but with my prodigious speed the journey is over quickly. An abrupt stop brings me to the outermost field of the Kent farm. I can sense him inside, alone. His thoughts are calm, focused through that telescope of his. Focused on the stars.
      I try not to peer too deep into his mind. Though I have no qualms over reading the thoughts and memories of an enemy or a criminal, as I did in my days as a Manhunter on Mars, Clark Kent is a potential ally and deserves more respect. That said, I used my telepathy to track him down, and a few of his foremost thoughts are unavoidable.
      Lois Lane…Daily Planet…Krypton…these things I already knew. Even without telepathy, a brilliant detective would be able to deduce that Clark Kent is Superman. I pray that none but me have.
      There is one thought I did not anticipate…Watchtower. I shut off my mind, but the detective in me wonders what this means. If he wishes for me to know, then he will tell me, but he has piqued my interest. 
      Invisible, I sneak close to the house. Though I cannot be seen, and through my density powers I barely displace the grass beneath my feet, but there is a chance he may still be able to hear me.
      His powers are legendary. Despite the desolation his kind wreaked on Metropolis, the people of Earth revere ‘Superman’ as a god, in a way the police or armed forces can only dream of. He is beyond the human: Ms. Lane’s first article after the Kryptonian invasion called him “the pinnacle of otherwordly power”. They see him not as a man with power, like the Hawk, Bat or Arrow, but as power itself given invulernable, primary-coloured form.
      I am below him now, looking up through the porch, through the floors of the house, at the attic. His eye is fixed on the telescope lens. For a moment, I wonder why a man with telescopic vision would use such an instrument, but I quickly realise that’s not the point. Dr. Erdel once said of me that my humanity is a greater strength than any of my abilities, and I believe that Clark Kent may cherish his humanity even more than I do mine.
      Then he hears me. I don’t know how I gave myself away, but his Kryptonian hearing is keen enough for a hundred humans. He leaps out of the window and lands before me. Though I remain invisible, he knows I am there.
      “Whoever you are, don’t make this any harder on yourself.” His blue eyes turn red and bore deep into mine. I allow him to see me, and he is momentarily taken aback at the sight of a human detective. Then I show him my true, Martian colours.
      “You’re not from Kansas, are you?” he says. His tone is lighter and more relaxed now. He knows I am not a threat.
      “Greetings, Son of El,” I begin. “My name is J’onn J’onzz.”

(Click image for detail)

To be continued... 

Follow the blog to be updated when a new chapter arrives! Chapter Three lands next week, on August 6th.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Green (BRAWL 2014 entry)

After a week of work, it's done!

And, as with many of my recent animations, here is some added canon I whipped up. Note that this is meant to enhance the film, but you don't need to read this to understand it, nor does it serve as an explanation of my somewhat shaky plot.

The Crystal Conspiracy: When the Torang Prime mine was first opened, fifty years ago, a few green crystals were found in a volcanic area on the planet’s surface. Tests revealed that a green crystal would produce cleaner, longer-lasting energy than the same amount in orange crystals, and so the company director Sorven Crick (direct descendent Hareton Crick, then president of Octan and nicknamed ‘President Business’) organised a cover-up. The green crystals were hidden, all data pertaining to them was destroyed, and scans of the upper layers of the planet were done to ensure that the robot miners were only 13% or less likely to find them. This was intended to keep consumers buying more of the orange crystals, rather than buying the more efficient green in smaller quantities. 

Following Sorven Crick’s death twenty years ago, all knowledge of the cover-up and the purpose for the specified ‘mining zones’ passed out of memory, and so the company began digging across previously-unexplored parts of the planet. By this time, the upper layers of the surface in which the robots had been mining had been mostly eroded away, and so the rediscovery of the green crystals was inevitable.

Torang Prime: Far out in the Dark Reaches, Torang Prime is the largest planet in a vast system, orbiting a grey sun. As such, there is no organic life on Torang Prime or any other planets in the Torangi system, save for the mining operation that has come to this world. It is similar to what scientist descibe as a ‘canonball world’, where intense pressure has crushed the planet’s surface into diamonds (only on Torang Prime, much of the world’s surface has been crushed into orange crystals instead).

So as not to damage the structural integrity of Torang Prime (as a rival corporation did on the planet Xamathamax, which exploded just minutes before the miners reached the planet’s core), the company planned a hundred year tenure on the planet, which would ensure that the planet would not be damaged or stripped totally bare. Even with the discovery of the green crystals, and increased production in previously unexplored ‘zones’, the company is predicted to fall short of their Maximum Mining Gain by 30%, a prediction which won current company director Orvin Klank the Miner’s Guild Environmental Award. This tenure ends in thirty years.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Countdown to Justice begins!

After putting it on hold for a couple of months while I tried to get the last couple of minifigures I needed, here is chapter one of my ongoing DC LEGO Universe project, Countdown to Justice!

Chapter One: The Martian
The snow is beating heavily at the window of my office. Outside, the city of Metropolis is unnaturally tranquil and blanketed in white. I never grow tired of the snow, for it is a phenomenon I never would have had the pleasure of experiencing on Mars.
My name is J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and I am the last of my kind. I came to Earth through a crack in space and time. Your scientists say my home planet cannot sustain life. They are half-correct, for though Mars is now a barren wasteland of iron-laced stone, it was once home to the greatest race in the Sol system. The Curse of H’ronmeer changed all of that.
Now I live among you, using my unique abilities to disguise myself as a human. On Mars I was a Manhunter, an officer of the law, and so here on Earth I have chosen to be a detective. I continue to do my best to help protect the lives of those who cannot protect themselves.
But your world is rapidly becoming a very different place. A more dangerous place.
Last summer, men from the world of Krypton brought the full power of gravity itself to bear in the middle of Metropolis, killing thousands and doing untold damage to the city. Though a human champion, the man Luthor is funding Metropolis’ reconstruction, life on Earth will never be the same again.
  Yet he is not the only champion fighting for you. One of the Kryptonians, who had lived here in peace for thirty-three years, repelled the invaders and aids in the great rebuilding. The people call him Superman.
  Faster than a speeding bullet. Stronger than a steaming locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
It is to this Man of Steel that I now go. He has fought to keep his identity a secret, and understandebly so, but he does not see what I see. He does not yet realise that the continued existence of us all lies in unity, and he must look beyond Metropolis. Beyond America.
For now, he will look to Mars.

(Click image for detail)

To be continued... 

Follow the blog to be updated when a new chapter arrives! Chapter Two is out now!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Vampire Owls

New animation! Party time!


Vampire Owls isn't anything special. I've wanted to do a vampire-based animation for a while now - and this won't be the last either - and I decided to make it in my revision breaks over the last couple of weeks. Oh yeah, I'm in the middle of my exam period right now. Which isn't fun. At all.

As with pretty much all of my animations, there are some problems with Vampire Owls. My light flicker issue has returned, and though I could remove the worst of it in After Effects, it's still visible now and then. I hope that doesn't detract from the video too much.

And now, for your reading pleasure, here is some additional canon about the world of the vampires that this video is set in. This is also BrickFilm Cinematic Universe material too, so expect the vampires to go genre-bending some time soon, though I'm saving those projects until well after exams have finished.

A relatively young vampire from the south of Italy, Naldo’s greatest regret is losing his accent. The problem was, it used to be so thick that nobody could understand him! Not good, especially if you’re supposed to be threatening mortals. Naldo spends a lot of time outside the vampire realm, in the human world, working with mortal criminals. He is always on the lookout for a new crimelord he can possess. Some of the other members of the Vampire Council believe he is trying to build an army, but that is mere speculation.

Postal Vampire
Nobody knows the Postal Vampire’s real name, and he is as old as the postal tower he inhabits. Though his menagerie of delivery creatures is mostly befitting of vampires - bats and werebats, blackheart dragons and insects - he occasionally hires other creatures, much to his compatriots’ horror. His latest aquisition is Targarioth the Black, a snowy owl who is about as intimidating as a marshmallow. Though he claims that “her speedy of delivery is unparalleled”, the residents of Vampire Town have yet to be convinced.

Blackheart Dragons
Created by dark magic from a dragon egg, beetles’ wings and a Magnus Gem, blackheart dragons are small but fast, agile, and every bit as malicious towards the living as a vampire could want them to be. They are just the right size to carry a single minifigure, have silky black hides and insect wings, and can spit balls of evil, purple lightning from their mouths. Like their vampire masters they are undead, and must feed on animal blood once every two months to survive. They are named after the creator of the first of their kind, an ancient Spanish vampire called Lord Blackheart, who was slain when he dropped a galleon in a ray of sunlight and foolishly bent to pick it up.

That's all for now. I'm going to do a proper post on Avengers Tower soon, and explain a few things about that, and in the meantime I hope you enjoyed this animation!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Why I Love Mayan Mythology (explained)

When I saw that the latest Animation Challenge on was to 'kick a ball', a Mayan myth immediately sprung to mind and, with the deadline only a day away, I figured it was worth taking a few hours out of my revision (*cough* *cough*) to turn this relatively mundane challenge into something odd. I created something odd indeed.

I released this with the description "If you don't know Mayan mythology, this probably won't make sense. If you know Mayan mythology, this probably won't make sense. Don't worry - the gods give Hunahpu a replacement head later, and then he steals the real one back. Oh, and that bat guy is a vampire god." While I made this video with the intention of being hard to understand, I thought I'd do a quick run-through of what this myth actually is.

Soooooo long story short, in Mayan myth there were these two heroes called Hunahpu and Xbalanque (and no, I can't pronounce them). They were playing football (or the Mayan equivalent) in their favourite ball court when the underworld gods - the Lords of Xibalba - got annoyed by the racket. They invited the twins to play in the underworld ball court, which was a ruse and designed to kill the twins. However, Hunahpu and Xbalanque (and I still can't pronounce their names) were smart enough to avoid the traps, and so got sent through a series of houses, which were again filled with traps.

The last house was the Bat House, home to Camazotz the vampire god (the bat guy with the black armour in the animation). To avoid the deadly bats that were flying around the house, the twins stuffed themselves inside their blowguns and waited it out until morning. Eventually, Hunahpu made the mistake of popping his head out of his blowgun to see if the sun was up, and his head was snatched off by a bat and taken to Camazotz. What happened next? Well, to add insult to injury, Hunahpu took part in another ball game with the Xibalbans, only this time with his head as the football!

Don't worry, the gods weren't totally evil - they shaped him a replacement head and planned to give it to him as an early birthday present. Xbalanque, being craftier than they, decided enough was enough and stole back Hunahpu's real head and put it back onto his brother's body.

After that long and hopefully-not-boring explanation, here endeth the lesson.

(Not the interior design you'd expect from the Vampire God.)

Avengers Tower episode 2 is finished and should be up on BrickUltra's channel some time this week, and when it is, it'll get posted here too. As for more mythology animations...we'll have to wait and see. Next time, it'd be more than a quick animation meant to seem like it has no narrative XD

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-man 2 (review) *SPOILERS*

Time for another review! This week, I'm talking about The Amazing Spider-man 2.
I took a look back at some of my old blog posts and realised that my movie reviews are a bit lacking. From now on, they're going to be veeeery different and hugely spoileriffic, hence the massive spoiler tag in the title.

Aaaaaanyway, onto the review. Considering what this new, rebooted franchise has developed into, I think it's worth going over a little backstory.

The Amazing Spider-man came out two years ago (my, they've gone quickly) and as much as I enjoyed it, it was completely unnecessary. Yes, I'm all for another superhero movie, but it was just Sony flailing around, trying to hold onto Spidey's film rights. It had some good character development regarding Peter, Gwen, Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and although the CGI Lizard was fantastic (notice how I avoided saying amazing there, that would be too punny too soon in the review) he wasn't a memorable villain. The film freshened up decade-old ground regarding Pete's transformation into Spider-man, and sat snugly in the box office despite a lot of cynicism from Marvel fans and cinemagoers alike.

It was a standard superhero movie. Enjoyable, and perhaps slightly above average in quality, but nothing special. Still, I was looking forward to the sequel, and the reumours that surfaced about seeing Green Goblin onscreen again were fairly enticing.

Then the trailer for the sequel dropped. My jaw went with it. Jamie Foxx as Electro? And the guy from Chronicle's in it too? Is that Chris Cooper on the cast list? Is Emma Stone wearing the clothes Gwen Stacy died in? Hot off the back of all of this, December 2013 brought more Spidey news: as well as third and fourth installments, we would be getting a Sinister Six movie and, most intriguing of all...Venom. As in a movie about Venom. The anti-Spider-man, and possibly the most popular Spider-man villain of all time (please don't quote me on that). Fans have waited for a Venom movie for a long time, but it looks like one may finally be out of production purgatory.
Finally, last week, I saw the film, and it met most of my expectations. Aside from an underwhelming and farcical backstory for Max Dillon/Electro which bordered on absurd, and an underdeveloped subplot regarding the creation of the Sinister Six, The Amazing Spider-man 2 delivered everything that it promised: high-octane action, the continued development of Pete and Gwen's 'complicated' relationship, the return of Spider-man's notorious banter, and a springboard for potential spin-offs (all of which I welcome with open arms). Free of the need to establish Peter Parker's character, as the first installment did, The Amazing Spider-man 2 swung into new territory, and the franchise is so much the better for it.
I'll get my two gripes out of the way quickly. First off, Max Dillon was stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. He meets Spider-man once, then becomes a bit of a nut and starts pretending that Spidey's his best friend. He plasters his wall with pictures of the web-slinger. He even make-believes that his birthday cake was left by Spider-man. Contrast that to the confident, slick, gravelley-voiced Electro that we get after the Times Square sequence...I'm not sure it works. It's not as well-crafted a 'villain's journey' as Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus in Spider-man 2 (back in the mists of time, in 2004, which is an age in cinematic terms) and doesn't feel cohesive. It's like watching two separate characters. The other gripe was with Harry's transformation into the Green Goblin. There's very little development, and although it fills its purpose well, you can't help feeling that there should be more to it.

What really set the film apart was the chemistry between Pete and Gwen. No surprises, since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a couple in real life; that spark comes across so strongly in the film that you start to feel like a third wheel. Therein lies The Amazing Spider-man 2's greatest success: it creates lovable, believable characters, Max Dillon excluded. Pete, Gwen, Aunt May, even Harry Osborn (to an extent) seem like they could be real.

So it's heartbreaking when Gwen Stacy dies.
(you were warned about spoilers)

I'm going to talk about that in a separate post, since the death of Gwen Stacy is...well,  just wait for the article. Instead, I'll round this off by talking about what I consider to be the best sequence in the film, which is the Times Square sequence. Max, having woken up from his eel-related accident blue and electrically-charged, wanders into Times Square, hungry for more electricity. He's scared, terrified of himself and his new abilities, and just as frightened of the police, who do their utmost to subdue him but to no avail. Spider-man arrives on the scene to talk him down, and it goes well until a pesky sniper sees his moment.

There are several aspects of this scene which make it so memorable. Firstly, we see what makes Spider-man more of an individual than most other superheroes: he takes the time to know the people he saves, to truly be their "friendly neighbourhood Spider-man". He repeatedly calls Max his "buddy" and creates a sense of friendship to try to calm him, and it actually works for a good long time. Had it been Superman, he would no doubt have solved the problem by levelling a block on Electro's head.

Speaking of Man of Steel, it's important to note just how many times Spider-man puts saving civilians before fighting the bad guy. He stops a group of pedestrians getting electrocuted by a Max-charged handrail, and saves an old man and a cop from being hit by the same car, thrown twice, and all of that's just in one scene. "Friendly neighbourhood Spider-man" is definitely ringing true now.

So, that's my opinion on why The Amazing Spider-man 2 was, wait for it, amazing. Sure, it had its flaws, but so do plenty of Oscar-winning films. As far as superhero movies go, The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a fine example, and probably one of the best Spider-man movies to date. Honestly, I'd say it's joint-first with the original Spider-man 2. Best of all, there's plenty more to look forward to.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 is currently in cinemas worldwide, unless you're in the USA, in which case you have to wait until May 2nd. Not long, my friends. Not long.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

BFCU Canon: Lavaloga

This post is the beginning of a series of nuggets of canon for the BrickFilm Cinematic Universe, which anyone is free to add to or use for BFCU films. Starting this series is some canon based on the island seen at the end of La Conquista, an island I will now reveal is called Lavaloga.


(Pictured: Chief Cherufe, La Conquista)

The island, off the coast of South America, that is home to the cherufe - huge lava monsters, made of, uh, lava. The cherufe are big but also big-hearted, and speak a broken, simplified form of Spanish. They do not age or die - if one is ‘killed’, they will quickly reform in the heart of the island’s biggest volcano: Monte Fumar (‘mount smoke’). There are two other volcanoes, and all three are in the centre of Lavaloga. Around them is a series of lava fields and rivers, and (strangely) beyond that is a jungle and the sandy shoreline.

Chief Cherufe
One of the oldest cherufe, Chief Cherufe is not actually the chief anymore (even though everyone, himself included, calls him that). His mind is fragile, and he often wanders the island, mainly the shores, talking to animals or humming old tunes, leaving one of the younger cherufe to take charge. Occasionally his frail body breaks apart and he won’t be seen for weeks, but he reforms eventually and carries on wandering around.

A young cherufe who likes nothing better than to sit in a nice lava pit and wait for the pressure to shoot him high up over the island. He’s quite small for a cherufe, only a few bricks over minifigure height, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to prove his worth to the other cherufe.

El Consejero
The cherufe who normally steps in when Chief Cherufe goes walkabouts, El Consejero (the counsellor) may just be a nickname, but he’s been guiding the other cherufe for so long that everyone’s forgotten his real name! He acts as a shoulder to lean on, a friend to all, especially those in need, and is good at reading the emotions of others.

That's all for now - I hope you've enjoyed these extra bits of canon for La Conquista, and look forward to more in the near future.

Reactions to The LEGO Movie

I saw The LEGO Movie earlier this week and decided I had to do some kind of homage to it. I mean, for brickfilmers at least it's a huge event, and not something to let pass without a big fuss. This is the first of what may be a few celebrations of The LEGO Movie; here, we ask the LEGO public what they thought of the movie (and show you a few other little bits of fun).

The Taco Tuesday guys may become regulars in my animations...thoughts?

The LEGO Movie - review
I absolutely loved it (but then again, I would, wouldn't I?). As a film in itself it was hilarious, well-written, heartwarming, and subversive unlike anything you expect to see in a kids movie. Technically speaking the film was also marvellous: the visual aesthetics (all the hyper-detailed bricks, the fact everything was made of LEGO) were stunning, and...well, I don't want to spoil that bit. There're a couple of brilliant plot twists, but one in particular makes this film awesome. As a brickfilmer, I was speechless. The movie is designed to look at least in part like it's stop-motion (and the directors say that some of it actually is) and there are even some references to actual brickfilms (most notably a reference to The Magic Portal, purported to be the first brickfilm).

Overall, this is a cracking film (see the video above) and worth a watch for just about everyone. I can't think of any major gripes, so I'm going to give this an 8.5/10.

That's it for now. Remember to like, share and subscribe!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

La Conquista

An age old question is answered: who are the better explorers? The conquistadors or the vikings?

This turned out almost as well as I'd hoped. There's a bump or two, some light flicker and because of software issues, a couple of perfectly smooth shots have come out choppy, but overall I'm happy with this.

Behind the scenes
Vikings didn't really have horned helmets, but I wasn't going for realism here. Aside from the scared viking at the end (and the face of the green viking) they're the generic minifigures from the Vikings theme.

The big lava monster was called Chief Cherufe in the script. A 'cherufe' is a Chilean, humanoid lava giant. They were typically evil, demanding young girls to be sacrificed to them, and were originally conceived as an explanation for volcanic eruptions.

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