Better than Streaming: A look at V: The Final Battle Blu-ray (by Warner Archive)

By now, many of you should be aware about how much I loved watching V: The Original Miniseries and the best way to view it in high-definition is on Blu-ray. I was a kid when I first saw V: The Original Miniseries way back in the 1980s and it was a major hit not only in America but also around the world. Considering the way the 1983 miniseries ended and the success it achieved, a sequel was inevitable although it was not spearheaded by creator and genius Kenneth Johnson. 

That sequel is none other than V: The Final Battle which was another mini-series that played all over the United States in 1984. It was considerably longer than its predecessor as it had three episodes and combined for more than 270 minutes playtime. V: The Final Battle, which had the now iconic Michael Ironside as the most notable addition to the highly talented cast, was a TV ratings hit as well and eventually Warner Bros. proceeded with its plan to produce a regular TV series out of Kenneth Johnson’s creation. Oh yes, like the original mini-series of 1983, I saw both V: The Final Battle and the TV series locally back in the 1980s. My first bout of replaying V: The Final Battle digitally was on DVD format more than fifteen years ago.

Just two days ago, I received my Blu-ray copy of V: The Final Battle which I ordered online. 

The front cover of V: The Final Battle Blu-ray.

Released in April 2020 by Warner Archive, V: The Final Battle on Blu-ray comes with two discs (the first disc contained the first two episodes). Its technical specs goes as follows:

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles
English SDH

Discs
Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD-25, 1 BD-50)

Playback
2K Blu-ray: Region free

The people at Warner Bros. surely wanted to freak buyers out.

Having viewed the first episode the other night, the most telling difference I spotted right from the start was that V: The Final Battle’s footage did not fill the entire screen of our HDTV at home. In fact, what was presented was a more squarish image with black borders on both sides. This is because the sequel was formatted with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Having seen V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray with its widescreen imagery (aspect ratio of 1.85:1), I found the sequel’s 1.33:1 Blu-ray look not only weird (note: I still remember that TV imagery in the 1980s were more squarish than widescreen) but somehow less immersive on our HDTV. Regardless, I still had fun and engagement replaying V: The Final Battle’s first episode. The picture quality, so far, looks good and the colors look more vibrant than ever. As for the extra stuff, there is really not much here to satisfy fans of the sequel as the Blu-ray comes only with network teasers. If you are looking for behind-scenes stuff or interviews with the cast, you will be disappointed. How is the overall quality and fun of V: The Final Battle as a whole? That will be revealed in a future review. 

If you are a long-time V fan, or if you are looking for gems of the science fiction genre, or if you are looking for the standout entertainment properties of the 1980s to add to your Blu-ray collection, be aware that you can order V: The Final Battle Blu-ray online by clicking here.

In ending this piece, watch this short clip of V: The Final Battle from the Warner Archive YouTube channel. It’s got Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler doing action and a glimpse of established V franchise hero Marc Singer as Mike Donovan!

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-ray and The Thing 4K Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: John Carpenter’s The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo coming out on September 7, 2021

Calling all fans of director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell as well as Blu-ray collectors fond of science fiction and horror films!

Get ready because Carpenter’s classic sci-fi horror film The Thing (1982) will be released in 4K Blu-ray format (in a combo including the Blu-ray disc and digital code) on September 7, 2021. In addition, those who insist on having the best 4K visuals with the classic movie will be delighted over the early confirmation that The Thing has been rendered in native 4K.

The cover of The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo.

As of this writing, there is no suggested retail price yet. Still, here are the product descriptions and specs from Blu-ray.com’s articles about The Thing 4K Blu-ray. Some parts in boldface…

SPECS

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: DTS:X

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Subtitles

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital

Digital 4K

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

DISC ONE – 4K BLU-RAY

  • 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
  • DTS:X AUDIO TRACK
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

DISC TWO – BLU-RAY

  • Main feature
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • U-Control: Picture in Picture
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

For those who are not too aware about this old sci-fi horror movie, The Thing tells the story of an American research team stationed in Antarctica whose lives turn upside-down after a sled dog comes to them after being hunted by a helicopter from the Norwegian research team.

Historically speaking, The Thing was released in cinemas in the United States just two weeks after Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The Carpenter-directed space alien monster film was trashed by movie critics of the time and in the American box office, Spielberg’s movie about a friendly alien creature from outer space was simply unbeatable. As time passed by, The Thing found its audience on TV and home video and its critical reception turned from negative to positive overall. In the awards circuit, The Thing was nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (credit to Rob Bottin who went on to work on effects for RoboCop and Total Recall) in the 10th annual Saturn Awards given by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Fans of actor Keith David will want to see his performance in this particular film. David also went on to work again with John Carpenter years later.

To get to know more about John Carpenter’s The Thing through trivia, watch the video posted below from Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray and V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray disc of Warner Archive (read my retro review).  

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase delivered the great stuff!

I can start by saying the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase was indeed worth the wait and even though it was not perfect (a few games shown that were not too interesting and a certain 1st party exclusive game had an excessive amount of time of the showcase), Team Xbox, Bethesda and their strategic partners in gaming succeeded in delivering the great stuff. There were so many games, including very promising Xbox-exclusive games and many new additions into Xbox Game Pass (XGP), the people who hated Xbox became silent during the showcase and some time after!

To put things in perspective, those of you who missed out on the livestream – plus the Xbox haters whether they saw it or not – I encourage you to watch the Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase YouTube video below. Take your time.

So you must be wondering what I think about the showcase.

Other than the fact that it was efficiently organized, nicely paced and the Xbox and Bethesda executives/producers had a nice physical stage that gave the online event a more impressive viewing atmosphere, the amount of games – from the big budget productions to the smaller, indie productions – was incredible! Then again, that should not be a surprise at all! Not only did Phil Spencer and the Xbox core team learned from last year’s standalone games showcase, the integration of Bethesda and its games being mixed with the others (from the 3rd party game makers and other Xbox game developers) resulted a powerful lineup for the whole world of gamers to see! Not only that, there is a huge load of games to be added into Xbox Game Pass which I am confident will attract even more gamers to join in and subscribe!

As for the games and key moments that I found engaging, I should say that starting the showcase with Starfield (with Todd Howard as presenter) in the form of a teaser trailer (which used real-time graphics powered by the Creation 2 engine) was very surprising as I anticipated it to be shown somewhere in the middle of the event. Regardless, I enjoyed it a lot and, in a way, it was like Team Xbox and Bethesda decided to confirm the release date and the Xbox-exclusivity of the game once and for all.

Todd Howard presenting Starfield early in the showcase.

The trailer looked great and it shows what kind of environment and visual style Bethesda is aiming for. It also shows that Howard and his team are aiming for something unique and fresh apart from what they did with The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. The moment I saw the 11-11-22 appear as the trailer played, I quickly realized that, in light of this pandemic, Starfield will be released on November 11, 2022 and I immediately understood that it’s not yet time for them to show gameplay footage. More importantly, Starfield is indeed an Xbox-exclusive title coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC! That’s right! The Xbox fans who want Starfield but are still stuck with the aging Xbox One, they still have time to upgrade by acquiring an Xbox Series console (which is still hampered by supply constraints) or having a Windows PC that is capable of running the game.

What Microsoft owns, Sony and Nintendo cannot touch! Starfield is exclusive to Xbox!

Given its late 2022 release date, I believe that next year’s edition of the Xbox-Bethesda showcase will show Starfield with gameplay footage! As written in Xbox.com: Starfield is the first new universe in 25 years from Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery.

Next is Halo Infinite!

After the stage presentation by Bonnie Ross and Halo franchise veteran Joseph Staten, Halo Infinite was shown with real-time (in-engine) graphics emphasizing more of the in-game environment of the Halo ring and, more notably, the story concept was emphasized more with the iconic Master Chief floating through space (he even took a moment to look at one of his fellow soldiers who died) and meeting a new female AI who eerily resembles Cortana (who was the villainess in Halo 5: Guardians). Then they showed a real-time preview of the multiplayer of the game which was impressive.

Unlike last year, Halo Infinite looks so much better and it was clear that serious adjustments were made to achieve the next-generation look. The signature look of the Halo franchise has been maintained but with much more striking visual details and a really smooth frame rate.

While the multiplayer is very impressive, I find it baffling that they did not show any single-player gameplay footage as I hoped to see them improve over last year’s disappointment. While it is clear they have yet to complete the game in time for the 2021 holiday season (even an Xbox One version has been confirmed) and probably were not prepared to show single-player gameplay footage in the showcase, I speculate that Team Xbox and 343 Industries could be preparing another presentation of Halo Infinite at this year’s Tokyo Game Show (TGS 2021) which will be an online event.

As for the minimal showing of the story concept of Halo Infinite, I am satisfied with that right now and I prefer that 343 Industries and the Xbox marketing team should refrain from spoiling the plot (which is too common in Hollywood blockbusters) and save it for gamers to find out. I am confident right now that this new game has what it takes to exceed Halo 5: Guardians. What Team Xbox needs to do announce a final release date.

When it comes to the smaller, indie productions, the Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes & Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising really surprised me! I never expected these spiritual successors to Suikoden to be part of the showcase at all!

As written in Xbox.com: 505 Games, Rabbit & Bear, and Microsoft are teaming up to bring the next incredible JRPG adventure by legendary game storyteller Yoshitaka Murayama to Xbox! We’re also thrilled to present the first official Eiyuden Chronicle franchise trailer for you today.

Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama (Suikoden I & II) and Director Osamu Komuta are joining forces once again to bring us an unforgettable journey through the world of Allraan.

Anyone who played the first two Suikoden games will notice the similarity of aesthetics in this upcoming game.

Wow! Not one but TWO Eiyuden Chronicle games are coming to Xbox consoles and Xbox Game Pass with one in 2022 and the other in 2023! Having been a Suikoden fan as well as having played Japanese RPGs on consoles long ago (note: I was a PlayStation fan along the way), I am very delighted about this latest announcement. The Eiyuden Chronicle games add even more to the build-up of Xbox becoming the premier destination and ecosystem for gamers who love playing role-playing games (RPGs)!

For more on the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise of games, I encourage you to visit them at FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

More on RPGs, I recently expressed I wanted more science fiction RPGs (sci-fi RPGs) from Team Xbox. As Starfield has been confirmed as Xbox-exclusive for 2022 from Bethesda, RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment made my wish come true with the announcement of The Outer Worlds 2! That was easily one of the highlights of the showcase for me personally as I love Western RPGs and I replayed The Outer Worlds many times! Watch this CGI trailer!

There is so much to love in the 2019 multi-platform RPG The Outer Worlds and in recent times its full vision and concepts – both of which were limited by time and budget – were finalized with the release of the two DLC packs. Now that The Outer Worlds franchise is under the full control of Team Xbox, it is inevitable that Obsidian Entertainment will have tremendously more resources and access to better technologies (note: imagine certain game engines made by Bethesda being utilized by Obsidian) to make their grander concepts and new gameplay features come true in The Outer Worlds 2! This is another Xbox-exclusive RPG to look forward to after Avowed which Obsidian is focusing on right now.

Next that interested me is The Ascent.

Having seen the game a year ago, The Ascent has very nice visuals, a solid art style, a nice presentation of future technologies and most notably a lot of action that are so good to look at. It’s coming out on July 29, 2021 already and I am confident it will be a hit with Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Microsoft made the smart move on approaching the game makers. The Ascent will launch exclusively on Xbox game consoles (including Xbox One) and Windows PC.  

Psychonauts 2 also caught my attention.

Even though I never got to play the original Psychonauts from a long time ago, the sequel still impressed me and sparked my interest with regards to platform action, adventuring and the visual concepts from the mind of Tim Schafer. It should be noted that Microsoft acquired Double Fine and purchased the publishing rights from the previous owner. Psychonauts 2 is set for an August 25, 2021 release. 

Contraband is a future project exclusive to Xbox Series consoles and PC.

The CGI trailer was pretty cryptic and at best only showed visual concepts that should be realized in the form of gameplay in the future. Very clearly, this is an Xbox Game Studios project in partnership with Avalanche Studios (Mad Max, Just Cause games). As written in Xbox.com: Contraband is a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan, and our most ambitious and spectacular game to date. We’re taking everything that we’ve learned from 18 years of being at the forefront of creating beautiful, vast open game worlds filled with stunning vistas and incredible emergent gameplay moments.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl was really eye-catching.

I can confidently say that this game is very atmospheric, gritty and even horrifying. It’s a first-person shooter designed to grab the player and pull him/her deeply into its ravaged in-game setting. I can speculate that this game could push players to come up with the courage to not only endure its challenge but also overcome the horror elements along the way. This one’s heading to Xbox Series consoles and PC on April 28, 2022.

As for Team Xbox’s newest exclusive racing game, Forza Horizon 5 turned out to be real and the same goes with its Mexico setting. This one’s coming to all Xbox consoles and Windows PC on November 9, 2021!

Forza Horizon 5 is a stunner on Xbox Series X! The photo-realism is so high (from the specific parts of the car right up to the many elements comprising the vast open world) this new game made by Playground Games could easily convince people they were looking at real-life, physical objects and places.

As written on Xbox.com: Forza Horizon 5 showcases powerful, all-new graphical features. Experience sweeping vistas and scan the distance to see the adventure that lies ahead. Encounter the smallest of details throughout the world which is rendered with striking realism, down to the smallest details like the light that glows through each needle on a Cholla cactus. Our Mexican HDR sky captures illuminate the world to the point that you will feel as if you are right there. And thanks to Xbox Series X|S, ray tracing is utilized in Forzavista to make the cars look even more true to real life.

I am looking forward to playing Forza Horizon 5 on Xbox Series X!

To my surprise, Xbox chief Phil Spencer appeared near the end of the Xbox-Bethesda showcase and gave the remarks. He did say that they had one new thing to show and it’s another exclusive thanks to Bethesda’s developer Arkane Austin…Redfall! Watch this CGI trailer and just imagine how they turn its visual concepts into actual gameplay in the near future. I find this intriguing and unique.

As written in Xbox.com: Redfall is coming exclusively to Xbox X|S and PC in Summer 2022 and will be available with Game Pass on day one.

Conclusion

The Xbox-Bethesda showcase is not only great…it also shows that with the full-backing of Microsoft, the integration with Bethesda, the 23 active Xbox game studios, and strong business relationships with game makers/publishers going on, Team Xbox is stronger than ever and Phil Spencer’s leadership is something worth emulating. They have what it takes to make video gaming more exciting and more enjoyable than even the Xbox 360 console generation. 30 games showcased (with a great majority of them heading to Xbox Game Pass) and with many Xbox-exclusives among them, the years-old belief that Xbox has no games is dead and those who keep on moving with that belief are just wasting their lives and spreading their poisonous thoughts through social media.

As for Xbox fans and all others who love video games, the Xbox-Bethesda showcase is more than just a grand presentation of gaming…it is a celebration of the love and enjoyment of video games as well as the benefits capitalism makes for consumers! As seen in the showcase, there is definitely something for most gamers and their tastes. Now is a good time for newcomers in gaming to join the Xbox community and ecosystem.

Gaming on Xbox is more exciting and more promising than ever! In due time, gamers from around the world will be able to enjoy games on Xbox consoles and Windows PC!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Did the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase live up to your expectations? On a scale 1 to 10 (lowest to highest), how would you rate the showcase? What was the biggest surprise among the major games and the small, indie games? Was the inclusion of the Eiyuden Chronicle games in the showcase surprising to you?

What do you think about Forza Horizon 5 and its Mexico setting? Does the announcement of The Outer Worlds 2 make you excited about playing RPGs only on Xbox consoles and Windows PC? Was the confirmation of the Xbox-exclusivity of Starfield surprising to you? Do you look forward to playing Redfall and/or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl in 2022?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Yes! I want more sci-fi RPGs from Team Xbox, Bethesda and Obsidian!

As a geek, I often enjoyed the science fiction (sci-fi) genre of entertainment. Star Wars made its mark in movies, video games (note: I enjoyed playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the original Xbox console), toys and comic books. I love watching V: The Original Miniseries and in recent times I successfully bought myself a Blu-ray copy of it to enjoy it all over again in high-definition. On Xbox 360, I enjoyed heavily replaying the three Mass Effect games (2007-2012) and even had one last replay of the entire trilogy using the backward compatibility feature on Xbox One a few years ago.

When it comes to recent gaming, I deeply enjoyed playing The Outer Worlds in its full design and concept (note: with the Peril on Gorgon and Murder on Eridanos DLC expansion packs included) from start to finish on my aging Xbox One console. That sci-fi RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment is the best of its kind that I have played in the 8th console generation.

For the future, there are two things that keep me really interested in the sci-fi RPG sub-genre of video gaming as well as gaming on Xbox.

First is Bethesda’s Starfield which is anticipated to be exclusive to Xbox and PC and may be released in 2022. As the Xbox-Bethesda showcase on June 13 is approaching, my anticipation for Starfield is growing even though the key details about it remain a mystery. Having played Bethesda’s Fallout 4 on Xbox One and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360, I can imagine Starfield having 3rd person and 1st person views with in-depth exploration, varied forms of interacting with other characters and NPCs (non-playable characters), and shooting plus some melee combat.

The brand-new sci-fi RPG from Bethesda!

As Starfield is sci-fi in concept, there will surely be lots of gameplay features that will make it different from Fallout and Elder Scroll games, and stand out among sci-fi RPGs. I am anticipating space travel, spaceship battles, visiting planets, customizing spaceships, encountering alien lifeforms, the exploration of space stations and more. Such sci-fi concepts remind me of what I enjoyed in Mass Effect games and in The Outer Worlds, but given Bethesda’s RPG design and approach to gameplay, I am confident that Starfield will have features that will make it different as far as sci-fi concepts and game design go.  

The lack of clear details about Starfield only make its anticipated unveiling at the Xbox-Bethesda special event even more attractive. I am confident that Todd Howard will make the big presentation of it.

Second is the future of The Outer Worlds as a game franchise under the control of Team Xbox and Xbox game studio Obsidian Entertainment (note: they were acquired in 2018). To make things clear, game publishing label Private Division (under Take-Two) has the publishing rights of the original game that came out to multiple platforms in 2019. As to who owns the The Outer Worlds as an intellectual property, it is Microsoft which is the result of its acquisition of Obsidian (the creator of The Outer Worlds) which happened during the development of the said game. That being said, Private Division and Take-Two stake is limited to the first game. The rest (note: future iterations) belong to Microsoft and Team Xbox and Obsidian will be managing it.

A quick look back at 2019’s The Outer Worlds.

To put things in perspective, check out this excerpt from Gamasutra’s May 19, 2021 article which was updated with clarifications from Take-Two. Some parts in boldface…

A spokesperson from Private Division, the American publisher owned by Take-Two, has explained the company won’t be involved with “future iterations” of The Outer Worlds franchise, noting that Obsidian and owner Microsoft will be steering the ship moving forward.

Microsoft has been looking to expand its stable of first-party titles for some time, having spent huge sums of cash on a variety of studios over the past few years, such as its recent $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda.

Although the company purchased Obsidian back in 2018, The Outer Worlds developer worked with Take-Two’s subsidiary Private Division to publish the game. Recent remarks from Take-Two president Karl Slatoff had indicated that relationship would continue, but an update from Private Division has confirmed that Microsoft now intends to take charge of the franchise.

“Private Division is still supporting and marketing The Outer Worlds, including the upcoming release of Murder on Eridanos DLC on Nintendo Switch,” said the company. “Moving forward, Obsidian and Microsoft will be publishing future iterations in the franchise, and we’re absolutely thrilled to see where they take it.

Now that it is clear that Microsoft, Team Xbox and Obsidian Entertainment have The Outer Worlds under their belt and with commercial and critical success achieved with the first game, it is anticipated that the developers behind it may announce a sequel during the Xbox-Bethesda showcase on June 13. Here’s an excerpt from Windows Central Gaming’s recent article

Building content for E3 takes a huge chunk of dev time, and many of these games are just in deep content development right now, rather than being prepped for marketing materials.

Obsidian, however, could appear in a big way. I’ve been told conflicting information about the possibility of Avowed being at the show, which is Obsidian’s first-person RPG set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, making me think there’s a 50/50 chance we could see something on it. I’ve also been told that, surprisingly, Outer Worlds 2 may be announced.

And then there is this video by Colteastwood mentioning that Obsidian is ready to announce The Outer Worlds sequel at the June 13 showcase.

I believe it is inevitable that Starfield and The Outer Worlds will be confirmed very soon as Xbox and PC-exclusive franchises (beyond the games, take note) of the sci-fi RPG sub-genre.

While I can only speculate what story concept, characters and game design for Starfield will turn out with under Bethesda, I can imagine future games of The Outer Worlds getting more varied in terms of game design, characters, settings, in-game environments, storytelling, exploration and more now that Obsidian has better resources under Team Xbox.

As it is clear Obsidian is very busy already working on the fantasy RPG Avowed, it is very likely they will make the announcement of the sequel to The Outer Worlds in the form of a CGI trailer. As to how The Outer Worlds 2 will turn out in the years to come, I hope the developers will add spaceship battles (with real-time shooting on other ships for great interaction), more boarding of other spaceships, more varieties of monsters and enemies to fight with on-foot, building a brand-new colony or settlement and the like.   

With the upcoming Starfield and future The Outer World games under the Xbox umbrella, sci-fi role-playing games will not only establish Xbox as the haven for RPG enthusiasts in the years to come but also help increase the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) base of paying subscribers, help increase the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X console userbase and help the overall Xbox LIVE membership grow a lot! Also imagine the many other fans of The Outer Worlds on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch (who don’t own Xbox consoles) buy Xbox Series consoles for the sequels.

More on the sci-fi RPG sub-genre, I can say that Team Xbox, Bethesda and Obsidian have a potential gold mine once their upcoming games turn out great, keep gamers very happy and convince them and other enthusiasts of RPGs and science fiction to come back for more.

If the current success of EA’s Mass Effect: Legendary Edition indicates anything, it only serves as a reminder that the Mass Effect franchise’s greatness happened long ago and EA and BioWare themselves still have yet to achieve brand new success with the said franchise without resorting to nostalgia.

The way things are right now, Team Xbox/Bethesda/Obsidian are in better positions than EA/BioWare when it comes to making great sci-fi RPGs. For the Xbox fans who love RPGs and science fiction, the games from Bethesda and Obsidian are sure to be exclusive on their consoles plus Windows PC.

To watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 13, posted below are the links for your reference.

In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray coming out soon

If you love the Transformers in hand-drawn animation and if you have a 4K Blu-ray collection to build up, then you should be happy with the news that The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray will be available for purchase in a few months’ time.

The said 4K Blu-ray release (which also contains the Blu-ray for 1080p viewing) is from Shout Factory, a company that is well known for releasing Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray discs of movies loaded with lots of extra stuff that make them very ideal for collecting.

The SteelBook edition.

So what exactly will you be getting with The 4K Blu-ray combo of The Transformers: The Movie? To put things in perspective, here first are the technical specs from the Blu-ray.com page

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles

English SDH, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-66, 1 BD-50)

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A (B, C untested)

The Autobots and Dinobots in a scene in the movie.

Now here is an excerpt from another page at Blu-ray.com that shows what you can expect from the new release.

Shout Factory will also issue two additional 35th anniversary editions of THE TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE —a standard 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack, and a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. THE TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 35th Anniversary Edition 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack includes the all-new 4K transfer of the movie in widescreen alongside the HD full frame version and new bonus material. THE TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray + DVD combo pack features the movie in HD full frame on Blu-ray as well as a widescreen edition on DVD, alongside new bonus material. These configurations will be available for pre-order later this summer from Shout! Factory. (The SteelBook can already be pre-ordered at Amazon).


Under license from Shout Factory, THE TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE SteelBook and standard 4K Blu-ray will also be released in the UK this September.


Description: In the year 2005, the Autobots and the Decepticons are still locked in battle, but a deadly new force enters the fray–a giant killer planet known as Unicron. The heroic Autobots must fight for their own survival and to save their home planet from destruction. A classic of 1980s animation, based on the popular TV series.


Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • NEW 4K TRANSFER FROM ORIGINAL FILM ELEMENTS
  • New Feature-Length Storyboards, including deleted, alternate and extended sequences
  • New Fathom Events 30th Anniversary Featurette, including Stan Bush’s acoustic performances of “The Touch” and “Dare”
  • ‘Til All Are One – A comprehensive documentary looking back at THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE with members of the cast and crew, including story consultant Flint Dille, cast members Gregg Berger, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, singer/songwriter Stan Bush, composer Vince Dicola and others!
  • Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and star Susan Blu
  • Featurettes
  • Animated Storyboards
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Optional English and Spanish subtitles for the main feature

As of this writing, Amazon.com has a live page for those who want to order the SteelBook edition of The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray. You can also order it via Shout Factory.

Devastator and the Dinobots!

As a kid, I got to watch many episodes of The Transformers animated series on television. I eventually saw The Transformers: The Movie on home video and its presentation came with a lot of impact related to the deaths of several characters (including the most controversial death), the noticeable rise of on-screen violence and the more futuristic, sci-fi setting and environments.

Even if you are not a fan of The Transformers, this upcoming 4K Blu-ray release is a blessing. Even if you are not interested in the older, hand-drawn presentation of The Transformers, the animated movie itself should interest you as it has solid performances not only from long-time favorites Peter Cullen (Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) but also from Hollywood legends Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy and Robert Stack. Think about that! Welles, Nimoy and Stack…Citizen Kane, Spock and the Unsolved Mysteries icons in this Transformers film!

For more on The Transformers: The Movie, watch this in-depth video retrospective by Oliver Harper. I highly recommend it and I also encourage you all to follow Oliver Harper via his social media channels.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Does the upcoming 4K Blu-ray release of The Transformers: The Movie excite you? If you saw the 1980s animated series of The Transformers, how many episodes were you able to watch? Were you able to watch The Transformers: The Movie in the cinemas back in 1986?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: A close look at V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (by Warner Archive)

Welcome back, my readers, fellow Blu-ray disc collectors and fellow pop culture enthusiasts! Last time around, I informed you about the approaching June 15, 2021 release of the respective 4K Blu-ray discs of Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) and In the Line of Fire (1993). If you missed that article (which contains lots of details and links), check it out now.

In this latest edition of Better than Streaming, I want you to join me in taking a close look at the Blu-ray disc of V: The Original Miniseries (1983) which was released on August 27, 2019 as part of the Warner Archive Collection. I bought this Blu-ray release only this year and I can confirm to you all that I had a great time replaying it from start to finish and in high-definition! Having seen V: The Original Miniseries on TV and video tapes in the 1980s and to its early digital form on DVD in 2001, the Blu-ray release is the best visual experience yet!

If you have not seen my retro review, head on to https://carlocarrasco.com/2021/05/08/a-look-back-at-v-the-original-miniseries-1983/

Going on with the Blu-ray release of V: The Original Miniseries, posted below is a new picture of my copy that I photographed for this article.

My Blu-ray copy of V: The Original Miniseries.

The cover really gives V: The Original Miniseries its own distinct look. A look that fans of V will instantly recognize and given the fact that it does not feature any pictures of the actors and only had images of the alien motherships (read: very huge saucer-like space ships that can carry thousands of people plus equipment) on the cover, I can imagine this Blu-ray release standing out when placed with many other Blu-ray discs on store shelves. The tag line on the top – Humankind’s Last Stand – adds punch to the cover.

When it comes to the technical specifications, it goes as follows…

1080p High Definition

16×9, 1.78:1

DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Single disc – Region free

To be clear, the above specs were written on the back of the Blu-ray box and they refer specifically to the main feature…the 2-episodes of the miniseries totaling 197 minutes (3 hours, 17 minutes).

Speaking of the main feature of V: The Original Miniseries contained in the Blu-ray disc, it is entirely presented in one single selection. The two episodes are not presented as separate selections. It means that once you are done with watching the first episode, you only need to wait for the end credits to finish and just let the video play on with the opening credits of the second episode to start and lead further to the story. However, if you saw the first episode and decide to watch the second episode at a later time, only then will you need the remote control of your Blu-ray player to go through chapter selection (skip the chapters of the first episode) to start the second episode.

As mentioned earlier, V: The Original Miniseries was presented in 1080p high-definition and for me it is the best-looking form to date! If you want specifics about the visual quality (as opposed to the high-definition look of the mini-series), I can say that its visual aesthetics from 1983 are still intact but with added benefits due to the higher resolution and digital format. To put things in perspective, the level of visual details, the color-grading, the textures seen on the actors’ faces and the natural look of their skin tone are all improved over the 2001 DVD.

As this is a 1980s production, the film grain also made it and even though it intensifies or weakens as the main feature plays, it never was annoying to watch. If there are any weak spots on the visuals, it’s the fact that the high-definition state made the matte lines in key special effect shots (note: specifically in the scenes of people on the street looking up at a mothership above them) look very obvious and fake. As for other visual effects, the laser blasts look even better and the perfect timing on simulating on-set explosions (specifically the spots that got hit by the laser blasts) add a lot of punch to the spectacle!  

The disc.

As for the extra stuff, I regret to say that V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray only has the exact same stuff the 2001 DVD had…the feature-length commentary by Kenneth Johnson and a behind-the-scenes documentary. Nothing new at all and this easily reminds me of the words describing this release – Warner Archive Collection.

To be clear about the extra stuff, I really find it very disappointing that the 24-minute behind-the-scenes documentary was presented only in standard definition and had a sub-par quality visually which kinda ruins the fascinating stuff of the production (Johnson and crew filming scenes, Marc Singer and Faye Grant being interviewed, etc.) shown.

The real meat of the extra stuff is the feature-length commentary of Kenneth Johnson. All throughout the two episodes, Johnson provided a lot of insight on the filmmaking, the creative concepts, the symbolism connecting the mini-series with the rise of the 3rd Reich in Europe, etc. I replayed the mini-series entirely with Johnson’s commentary turn on and it was really engaging as a viewing experience!

Conclusion

While the lack of new extra stuff somewhat hampers it, I still had great enjoyment with my Blu-ray copy of V: The Original Miniseries (1983). Its main feature and the Kenneth Johnson commentary are the best things about it and therefore make it worth buying. I can only speculate that if more V fans (plus the many people out there who have yet to discover V of the 1980s for their home entertainment and sci-fi craving) bought a lot of copies of this Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray release, the executives at WB could be convinced to release another Blu-ray of the 1983 mini-series with all new stuff involving the participation of Johnson, the other production team members and the surviving actors (note: it would be great to come up with brand new interviews with Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler, David Packer, Blaire Tefkin, Robert Englund and others). It would be great to see pop culture convention footage related to V compiled not to mention an all-new feature commentary with the actors participating.

Overall, the V: The Original Miniseries – Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray is highly recommended! Fans of V of the 1980s will love it and all others who have yet to discover it will find something new and compelling to watch at home with this. Add this to your shopping list and your Blu-ray disc collection!

In closing this Better than Streaming piece, posted below for your enjoyment is the 43-minute YouTube video of the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel that had Kenneth Johnson and Marc Singer as guests focused on V.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Doom 2099 #14 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s pop culture and fans of Marvel Comics! We return to The Fall of the Hammer crossover storyline of Marvel’s 2099 universe and this is my first time to review a comic book of Doom 2099 (note: this comic book marks the 4th chapter of the crossover).

Last time around, the X-Men of 2099 got involved in the events and their member Skullfire got reunited with them thanks to some help by Doom of 2099. The self-proclaimed Thor realizes that a powerful friend of his is down on the floor.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Doom 2099 #14, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Pat Broderick.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Valhalla where Thor sees his powerful friend lying down helpless. X-Men’s Bloodhawk, Krystalin, Meanstreak, Skullfire and the self-proclaimed Loki witness Thor’s curiosity. Loki, who is actually Meanstreak’s friend Boone in disguise, tells Thor to blame what he calls the spoiled children for conspiring against him. Meanstreak tells Boone to stop his act and reminds him that he was the one who caused the short-circuit.

Doom 2099 then tells them that none of the gods are real for they are the fabrication of science created to exploit the believers of Thor who have desperately awaited the return of their god. Doom points out that the real threat is not the Asgardian play actors but rather the flying city of Valhalla itself.

After hearing the ramblings of the others, Thor then makes his move to strike Doom 2099…

Quality

This comic book shows Spider-Man and Punisher of 2099 finally ending their long ride together.

As expected, there is indeed pay-off executed in this comic book in relation to the gradual build-up that took place in the first three chapters (Spider-Man 2099 #16, Ravage 2099 #15, and X-Men 2099 #5). You must be wondering how was the pay-off…I can say it was executed good enough. Not only does this comic book reveal the truth about the so-called Asgardian deities, it also sheds light on who the pretenders really are and, more notably, who is the mastermind behind everything and why did all these unfortunate events happen in the first place.

Behind it all, there is subversion in the form of criticism and accusations against corporations, against people of faith and even against idolaters who don’t realize that idolatry is unholy and foolish. In a certain way, this comic book made its case in support of Marxism, socialism, Communism and atheism even though those four forms of evil were not explicitly emphasized.

When it comes to the characters, Doom 2099’s presence here is actually light but it should be noted that his civil discussion with a powerful figure behind the scenes gave the story a lot of weight. What I enjoyed about Doom 2099 is his Darth Vader-like way of talking and taking action.

The X-Men of 2099 surprisingly have a good share of the spotlight here while Spider-Man 2099 and Punisher 2099 finally stopped riding together and begin to get involved with the troubles of Valhalla. I should state that the first-ever meeting between Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099 and Doom 2099 is a short yet powerful scene.  

Conclusion

Doom 2099, the X-Men 2099 members, Loki and Thor on the 2nd page.

Being the fourth chapter of The Fall of the Hammer crossover storyline, I can say that Doom 2099 #14 (1994) proved to be the most engaging chapter yet mainly due to its pay-off in relation to what was built-up before it. The revelations were quite strong and clearly this comic book was the tuning point of the storyline, and even set the stage for the concluding chapter. I caution you, however, that the anti-capitalist and anti-faith themes of this comic book can lead you to trouble if you decide to take them seriously. It is bad enough that American society today is being torn down by Marxist, socialist, Communist and atheistic forces. You have been warned!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Doom 2099 #14 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed-and-numbered edition cost $180 and $300 respectively.

Overall, Doom 2099 #14 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at V #5 (1985)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the V mini-series (Original Miniseries and The Final Battle) and the 1984 TV series, and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, science fiction enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the V entertainment franchise of the 1980s! Before I start this newest retro comic book review, I am happy to say that I recently published my retro review of V: The Original Miniseries which is one of the most in-depth retro reviews I wrote so far. I recommend you to read it now. If you are a fan and you are interested to buy yourself the original mini-series on Blu-ray disc format, head on to Amazon. Now we can return to the 1980s comic book series.

Last time around, Ham Tyler and Chris continued their operation which resulted getting reunited with the star child Elizabeth Maxwell (refer to V: The Final Battle mini-series of 1984). Meanwhile, Mike Donovan and Julie Parrish met with delusional astronomer Earl Meagan (patterned after Carl Sagan) who is obsessing with meeting Diana of the Visitors.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V #5, published in 1985 by DC Comics with a story written by Cary Bates and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Diana, Linda and Charles watching a video message from the delusional Earl Meagan expressing his thanks to her (Diana) for accepting his peace proposal for a summit of peace between the humans and the Visitors. He expressed more of his delusion stating that he is confident that both of their races will benefit from the meeting.

Diana explains to her powerful companions that they have a lot to gain by turning one of Earth’s most influential figure to their side. After Diana left, Linda expresses that their commander has gone too far. Charles tells her what she is thinking of.

On Earth, in the presence of Ham, Chris and Bates, a weakened Elizabeth recalls her time with Kyle when they went into hiding away from the Visitors’ search team. She then makes mental contact with Kyle.

Elsewhere, as Mike Donovan and Willie watch the newscast about the peace summit between Diana and Earl Meagan set to happen soon, Julie Parrish personally tells the astronomer (by the helipad within a city) that he just can’t go as such a meeting is suicide. Still delusional, Meagan tells Julie that she is no different from her short-sighted friend Mike, leaves her and rides the helicopter to push through with the summit…

Quality

Realizing her mistake with the delusional astronomer Earl Meagan, Julie comes back to Mike.

First thing to mention is the good news that the quality of the writing and plotting by Cary Bates has the high quality maintained throughout. While the story about the peace summit between Earl Meagan and Diana is the highlight here, the other story (told through Ham and Chris) about the discovery of a secret camp where the Visitors conduct experiments on humans is itself very intriguing as it parallels what the Nazis did to prisoners during the dark days of World War II.

Going back to the highlighted plot of the comic book, Earl Meagan is not only delusional with his old belief that any extraterrestrial race capable of traveling through the depths of space is surely friendly and benevolent to humanity…he is completely wrong and a danger to his own people as clearly lost his touch with truth and reality. He is a perfect example of what happens when a scientist refuses to realize the limits of science and goes over the edge believing in the falsehood that another scientific breakthrough will prove him right and all others wrong. By today’s standards, Meagan can be compared with the radical socialists in America who foolishly believe that all foreigners (including criminals and terrorists) should be allowed free entry into their country without consequence and without responsibility, and at the expense of their fellow American citizens.

When it comes to characterization, I still recognize Ham and Chris as I remembered them from V: The Final Battle thanks to solid writing. Julie’s portrayal in this comic book, however, takes a drastic turn from powerful receiver of Earl Meagan in issue #4. More notably, it is refreshing to see the relationship between Mike and Julie getting strained as a result of Meagan.

Conclusion

The closest thing you can have about Carl Sagan betraying the entire human race in favor of aliens from outer space.

V #5 (1985) is another solid tale about the conflict between the Resistance and the Visitors, but with Earl Meagan as the mad scientist with charisma who puts his fellow humans into more danger. It’s a worthy read from start to finish.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of V #5 (1985), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $36.

Overall, V #4 (1985) is highly recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at V: The Original Miniseries (1983)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Original Miniseries and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Way back in 1983, I was fortunate to watch the 2-episode sci-fi mini-series on television titled V: The Original Miniseries. Because there was no Netflix, no YouTube, no Internet access and no DVD at the time, getting to replay the said mini-series as well as its sequel V: The Final Battle was really hard. Replays of them on local TV rarely happened.

Then in 2001, V: The Original Miniseries was released on DVD format and I got to watch it all over again with a good amount of enjoyment. In recent times, I purchased the Blu-ray release and replayed the original miniseries in high-definition at last!

You must be wondering if the original mini-series aged well through the decades, and is it still good to watch by today’s standards? While I will comment about its overall quality below, what I can say is that its theme about people fighting to be free from fascism, oppression, terrorism and dictatorship remains relevant to this day.

For his part, star Marc Singer stated: “I think themes of what holds society together and what tears society apart, those themes are universal themes and I think they’re always going to be relevant. I think there’s going to be a necessity for things like V to be revisited in order that society remember what it is that’s cohesive and coherent about it and why is it that we should all stand together and treat each other well.”  

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Original Miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. The first episode was broadcast on television in the United States on May 1, 1983.

V: The Original Miniseries

Early story

The story begins in El Salvador where camera operator Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and his companion Tony risk their lives capturing footage of an armed conflict. As the two tried their best to move away from the heat of battle, a helicopter of the enemy tracks them and corners them. Just as hope seems lost for Mike Donovan, the helicopter suddenly flies away. He turns to the other direction and witnesses the presence of a huge, floating saucer-like space ship coming his way. He begins to record footage of it.

Soon enough, several other space ships arrive and float above many other cities around the world. In America, medical student Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and her colleagues carefully watch the TV news coverage. In a nice neighborhood, several residents – including Robin Maxwell (Blaire Tefkin), Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson), Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and his grandfather Abraham (Leonardo Cimino) to name a few – marvel at the sight of a space ship above them. At another location, the research of scientist Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell) and his colleague got interrupted with the arrival of a space ship.

The Visitors formally begin their new relationship with the people of Earth.
Diana of the Visitors played by Jane Badler.

Some time later, the Visitors make verbal contact with the people around the world using varied languages of Earth. In a special arrangement held at the top of the United Nations (UN) building in New York closely viewed on TV by the general public, the Visitors reveal themselves represented by John (Richard Herd) who expresses their message of reaching out peacefully to the people of Earth, seek their help and, in return, share with them their advanced technologies that could help humanity a whole lot for future generations. The Visitors are human in appearance but speak with very distinct sounds.

As a result, the governments of Earth agree to the offer of the Visitors and establish ties with them. Symbolically, a large group of Visitors’ engineers led by Diana (Jane Badler) and security chief Steven (Andrew Pine) arrive at a refinery to formally begin collecting chemicals and minerals.

Then things start to turn bad…

Quality

I can clearly declare that the writing and directing done by Kenneth Johnson remains great, and for many reasons why. On storytelling, Johnson (who was inspired by the anti-fascist novel It Can’t Happen Here and made an adaptation of it before finally coming up with V) clearly took his time on establishing the core concept stage-by-stage, and he also found efficient ways of explaining details to viewers by using in-story news reports and videos and retrospective as effective tools of exposition (these helped cut down the reliance on expository dialogue).

As the story goes on, Johnson carefully introduced the many characters on-screen (including the use of quick introductions of some characters who are located away from others they are connected/related with), established who they are and, most notably, showed how the events that took place affected them.

The Visitors (and one member of their youth auxiliary movement wearing brown) posting propaganda material to condition people’s minds they are friendly and trustworthy. These posters are familiar to many Nazi propaganda materials used in Europe decades earlier. Prior to the release of the Original Miniseries, a real-life marketing campaign of putting up such posters happened in real life.

Johnson also used symbolism which reflects what happened decades ago in Europe with the rise of the Third Reich. The Visitors’ symbol resembles the Nazi Swastika while the persecution of scientists (as well as their families and associates) resembles the Nazi persecution of Jewish people, and the scene of Daniel Bernstein joining the Visitors through their “Friends of Visitors” movement recalls memories of the Hitler Youth. I should state that Earth citizens who chose to collaborate with the aliens from space (strongly symbolized through Eleanor Dupres), images of the armed Visitors watching several helpless Earth people being taken away from their homes and the dominance of propaganda over the free press also reflect what happened back in World War II when the Nazis occupied many parts of Europe. The fact that Johnson used alien humanoids as the Visitors make them a more universal antagonistic force that viewers can relate with.

When it comes to the cast members and their respective performances, there is a whole lot to enjoy here and I can confirm that the quality of dramatic performances is pretty good and adds a whole lot of believability to the story. The most notable performer here is none other than Faye Grant who believably portrayed Julie Parrish on her in-depth transformation from a promising medical student to a reluctant organizer of a movement of freedom-loving people called the Resistance. Faye Grant excellently portrayed emotions and even showed the fragile side of Julie as she struggles to strengthen herself to lead her fellow people who seek freedom and survival. Julie also is the most charismatic and likeable character in my view.

Marc Singer’s Mike Donovan is the closest thing this miniseries has to an action hero. Donovan is not a soldier, nor a policeman, nor a combat specialist. He is a hard-working media employee who has covered a lot of armed conflicts overseas and along the way he learned how to fight. As he is not a fighting machine, Donovan was portrayed to be vulnerable and really ends up struggling a lot. In a way, Donovan symbolizes people who take action once they realize what is wrong and what lies they have been fed with. It should be noted that before Bruce Willis wowed audiences as the vulnerable hero John McClane in Die Hard, Marc Singer’s Donovan was the vulnerable and struggling action performer realized ahead in time. On the dramatic side, Donovan’s talk with his mother Eleanor is a great scene to watch, and his contrast with Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) must be seen! If you ask me, Mike Donovan is Marc Singer at his best!

Faye Grant’s portrayal of Julie Parrish is highly believable complete with a good range of emotions. Her character development all throughout the Original Miniseries is very believable.
Marc Singer as Mike Donovan.

The other most notable role is none other than the Visitors’ commander Diana excellently played by Jane Badler. Diana was played to be charismatic, powerful, and sadistic at the same time. She is not a mere evil figure nor is she your typical pure evil antagonist. In fact, she is the powerful extension of an unseen high authority of the aliens and this alone makes her worth your attention. Also, through her interactions with her fellow aliens Steven and Brian (Peter Nelson), you will see very interesting traits of Diana’s personality. I should state that Jane Badler’s eyes and expressions really gave her character a very commanding presence on-screen. Even though her screen time is not dominant, Diana’s impact remains very strong.

As for the other cast members and their contributions in the film, I can state that Robert Maxwell was excellently portrayed by Michael Durrel to be the very caring father striving to protect his family even as society has been manipulated to demonize scientists like him. Daniel Bernstein is clearly the traitorous Earthling who has gotten so involved with the Visitors, and I am confident that David Packer will get on your nerves. Willie is the good-natured Visitor who tries to fit in with the people of Earth and his friendship with Harmony Moore (Diane Cary) is very symbolic. Given the reputation of Robert Englund as a horror icon, his performance as Willie is a must-see!

The most notable of all the supporting cast members here is none other than Leonardo Cimino’s Abraham Bernstein who is a Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and survived to establish the family in America only to see evil return in the form of the Visitors. His dramatic scene of protecting a certain family is a must-watch, and most likely it will stir your emotions.

This scene shows the contrast between Abraham Bernstein (Leonardo Cimino) in the background and his grandson Daniel (David Packer) in the foreground. Abraham is an old Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and lived on. Daniel, who is 17-years-old, willingly joined the Visitor’s youth auxiliary movement which parallels that Hitler Youth.

In addition to being successful with telling the story, spreading the details and getting solid performances from the cast, Kenneth Johnson also proved to be really crafty with the way the camera captured images and how the very important moments were presented to captivate viewers. Johnson’s work here is clearly a labor of love. As for the music, Joseph Harnell did a good job overall. His style gives V a distinct aesthetic on tunes and I noticed his music becomes more lively late in the 2nd episode. Harnell also knew how to add musical excitement when the narrative needed a boost of energy or speed.

People of Earth, including children, are helpless under the Visitors.

Last but not least, I want to talk about the action and visual effects here. The action is, for the most part, raw and believable to watch. The action performers dressed as the Visitors never looked like they were trained but at least their ways of positioning themselves to fire their laser weapons made up for it. The hard action has that raw aesthetic which I actually liked because the action performers – including Marc Singer himself – were convincing with the way they exerted efforts. In this modern age of wire works and digital effects, seeing raw action and real human effort combined with risk taking is refreshing to watch.

More on the action scenes, I should state that the concept of showing the humans using conventional guns against the laser-armed Visitors was done in a satisfying and believable manner on-screen. Such concepts could have turned out bad had Kenneth Johnson and his team lacked talent and precision. As for the visual effects, they resulted a mixed bag as far as quality and artistry are concerned. While the laser blasts still look very good (and their impact was felt thanks to excellent timing with the on-set explosions and fireworks), the huge motherships really look dated as they were matte images (not miniatures), and in a few shots the matte lines were clearly exposed in high-definition which broke the immersion for me. The smaller space crafts that were shown flying also had that similar, out-of-place look (note: they did not match the lighting of the live-action footage). Still, the practical effects used are good to see and the matte paintings used for two key shots in the 2nd episode were photo-realistic.  

Conclusion

The free and righteous praying to the Lord.

As it is clearly still great and engaging to watch, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) certainly aged well, it remains essential to watch even by today’s standards and most of all, its theme about the conflict of freedom and dictatorship makes it completely relevant to this day. It is a reminder about what your part in your society is, who you are, what your values are, and why you have freedom in your local society which can be destroyed by an alienating force once your fellow people refuse to resist it. As mentioned earlier, the cast is great and I am confident that you readers will find a character or two to relate with.

The focus of this miniseries on fascism invading the lives of the free people easily reminds me about how, in this modern age, sinister influences like Marxism, socialism, Communism, unrestrained political correctness and fascism poisoned the minds of millions of people through the academic system and turned them into social rebels, domestic terrorists, looters, rioters and new criminals who are so determined to go against their fellow people who do not share their beliefs. In modern-day America, the ongoing movements of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, SJWs, the anti-Semitic BDS movement, the rabid LGBTQ+ movement, the so-called democratic socialists and other agents of Satan have been harming patriotic Americans, attacking their values, taking the innocence of the youth and children away, destroying businesses and tearing down societies as we know it. The 1983 mini-series will remind you that from time to time, social order will be pushed hard by the invaders (be it people or be it influences so alien to the society) and the people who are righteous can choose to restore the said order as well as their respective lives.

Seriously, if you value your freedom, your culture, your values, your people and your faith in the Lord, you certainly would not want to submit yourselves to a foreign people who intend to destroy you.

No matter what happens, people should never lose faith in the Lord and they must look up to Him for deliverance. The Lord will punish the wicked and make ways happen to lift up the faithful. Clearly, V’s theme about the fight for freedom is truly universal.

Symbolism and socio-political relevance aside, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) also comes with a good amount of spectacle that make sense within the narrative. Do not expect to see extensive, over-the-top action scenes of modern-day cinema/television here but I assure you that the spectacle (note: even with the flawed matte imagery of the visual effects) in this production paid-off nicely in relation to the build-up of events throughout the story.

I strongly recommend you acquire V: The Original Miniseries on Blu-ray while it is still available. Watching it in high-definition is a great experience on my part.

Overall, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) is highly recommended! That being said, I strongly encourage you to buy it on Blu-ray disc format while it is still available and affordable. If you want more of Kenneth Johnson’s other work related to V, I suggest you to look for his book V: The Second Generation. Don’t forget to visit Johnson’s website at http://www.kennethjohnson.us/

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more V-related writings of mine, check out my retro comic book reviews of the V comic books (published by DC Comics) issues #1, #2, #3 and #4.

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #5 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! This is the continuation of a look back at the Marvel 2099 crossover storyline The Fall of The Hammer which started in Spider-Man 2099 #16 followed next in Ravage 2099 #15. The 3rd chapter of the said crossover filled the fifth issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series.

For the newcomers reading this, a few of the X-Men of the far future were officially involved in this 5-part crossover storyline that was meant to celebrate the Marvel 2099 franchise back in the 1990s. This was the reason why Skullfire, Meanstreak, Krystalin and Bloodhawk were separated from their team leader Xi’an and the remaining teammates. Last time around, three of the mentioned X-Men got involved with Ravage and eventually reached the floating city of Valhalla together only to get separated.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #5, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in New York City where a vehicle moves at high speed until it hits a wall and stops. Out comes Tim Fitzgerald/Skullfire who moves away and spots Valhalla above him. In the floating city, Krystalin, Meanstreak and Bloodhawk are in confrontation with a powerful enemy called Heimdall who tells them to bow to him and swear allegiance.

Bloodhawk attacks Heimdall only to get pushed back. Krystalin fires crystal bits at him but to no success. Thinking that he’s too fast for Heimdall, Meanstreak tries a sneak attack from the side only to be hit hard, lose control and crashes to a wall. As the X-Men’s fastest member is down, a shadowy figure approaches him nearby…

Quality

This quick flashback explains how the four X-Men 2099 members went to New York.

As an X-Men 2099 tale, this one felt like a catch-up for Skullfire who was absent in the first two parts of The Fall of the Hammer storyline even though it was confirmed in X-Men 2099 #4 that he joined his teammates and help Meanstreak find his friend Jordan. That being said, there is a good amount of scenes focused on Skullfire as he makes his way up to Valhalla. There is also a quick flashback showing that indeed he was with his teammates as they arrived in New York only to get separated (which explains why only Krystalin, Bloodhawk and Meanstreak approached Ravage). More importantly, the flashback also contains additional details that explain what the X-Men discovered before arriving at Valhalla and why they decided to approach Ravage.

As the 3rd chapter of The Fall of The Hammer storyline, this comic book barely moved the present-day narrative forward mainly due to having to use a few but precious pages to tell the short flashback to explain the X-Men’s involvement. Still, key revelations related to what happened behind-the-scenes added a lot of depth to the narrative and this properly sets the stage of for the remaining chapters. The 2099 major figures like Spider-Man, Punisher, Doom and Ravage all appeared here but very sparsely.    

Conclusion

Ravage 2099 helps Krystalin.

X-Men 2099 #5 (1994) pushed the narrative of the crossover a few notches forward but the revelations written saved it from being a throw-away story. For fans of X-Men 2099, there is a lot to like here and Skullfire’s late entry into the crossover will delight them. The writing was good enough and by the end of the story, the explanations were satisfying and the ending suggested that the stakes would be raised for the final two chapters of the crossover. Those who missed the presence of Thor 2099 should be happy to see him here, even though it was clear that he was being conserved for the last two chapters.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #5 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $18.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #5 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com