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Real Steel Blu-ray reviewed over on UTR

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Under the Radar ran a review by the Mad Duo today, covering the recent extended Blu-ray version of Real Steel. Not sure why they’re doing more there and on other sites than their own, but if you haven’t seen that movie (or even if you have) you might get a laugh out of the write-up. Or not.

Tell you one thing they’re right about for sure. Having some of those robots cammied up and equipped for a mission with USSOCOM would be a bad ass sequel.

Read the review.

The Mad Duo reviews Real Steel on Under the Radar.


Weekly Movie Review: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – Sponsored by Tactical Distributors

Saturday, August 6th, 2011


First off, I’d like to say I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. Mainly because it takes a huge steaming chimp poo over existing PotA canon i.e. it’s a reboot *groan*. But, since I’ve had enough of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds for one Summer, and since I can’t find a theater close enough playing ‘The Devil’s Double’, this was the only logical choice. Surprisingly, it was a pretty good.

The story’s nothing we haven’t seen before in the science fiction genre: well meaning scientist (James Franco) creates a wonder drug that ends up having horrible consequences. In this case, it ends up leading to every ape in San Francisco gaining above human intelligence, having a revolution of sorts and escaping into what I believe is the Muir Woods, an ancient red wood forest outside San Fran, to live and propagate until they eventually rule the world. Sure, there’s plenty of happenings on in between, but I just summed up everything: Man’s bid to play God is the folly that leads to his downfall. So what makes this worth watching?

The special effects. Things explode, windows break, apes get shot at, helicopters come crashing down, iron fence bars are thrown as spears, ect. The CGI is also above decent. I stop short of calling it amazing, mainly because about half the time I could tell that main chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis) was computer generated. However, the motion capture work more than carries these moments of digital weakness, along with the other apes, who also look great. The realistically moving primates really are one of the movie’s strong points.

So, as far as reboots go, it’s not a bad film. The special effects go beyond the story, which isn’t nearly as improbable as I originally thought, but you’ll have to see it to understand what I mean. I give it 4/5 Fanboys.

Friday Movie Review: Horrible Bosses – Sponsored by Tactical Distributors

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Every Friday I’ll be moseying on down to the local picture show to view the latest theatrical releases. This way, when you’re doing some weekend planning, you’ll know whether to catch a good flick or to take your hard-earned money somewhere else. This week’s movie is Horrible Bosses.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Horrible Bosses stars Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day as Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman, and Dale Arbus, three lifelong friends who hate their bosses. They spend their evenings drinking, eating out and discussing the latest mistreatment they’ve suffered at the hands of a superior. These offenses, coupled with some alcoholic influence, eventually lead the trio to consider killing their bosses as the best solution to their problems.

A lot of the comedy stems from the mishaps the friends endure while trying to accomplish their ultimate goals. A fairly amusing example of this is when the friends are gathering information in the home of Buckman’s boss, Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) and happen upon his cocaine stash. Hendricks and Arbus accidentally inhale some of the cocaine after knocking it over, while Buckman was in his boss’ bathroom, rubbing a toothbrush and somehow dental floss, among other items, in his ass crack. Even moments like this, however, rarely elicited more than a few seconds of laughter from myself. A lot more of the movie was spent chuckling, especially during Dr. Julia Harris’ (Jennifer Aniston) explicit sexual harassment of Day’s character.

Excellent performances from Kevin Spacey, playing Dave Harken and Jamie Foxx, playing Dean “M***********” Jones, add to the humor of the movie, as does the interactions of the three friends. All the actors really manage to mesh well and play off each other’s strengths, which adds value to the film, even if the plot, which really seems to exist as a framework for the humor, doesn’t necessarily manage to accomplish the same thing.

Bottom line: If you’re not nearly as desensitized of sophomoric humor as I am, then its quite possible you’ll enjoy yourself a whole lot. For everyone else, especially those with younger family members, Zookeeper just came out.

Black Powder Red Earth: Part 1

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I just got a hold of an advanced review copy of the new ‘Black Powder Red Earth’ graphic novel. Since I enjoyed the Facebook game, I was eager to read through it and see how good it actually was. I’m happy to say it does the property justice.

“Black Powder Red Earth: Part 1” by Jon Chang, Kane Smith and Josh Taylor takes place in a near future Iraq, 2019 to be exact. The story follows the actions of a PMC operating in the area of New Basrah, Basran. Their actions primarily include the capturing of high-value targets, negotiations with government officials, and information gathering. Showing the wide range of operations undertaken by these individuals definitely adds to the believability of the story. From earlier dealings with Echelon Software, I know a good amount of research and cooperation with actual operators went into making the story closer to reality then most other fiction dealing with this subject matter, and it shows.

Complementing the story is the art, which is done in a somewhat gritty style that matches the setting and mood perfectly. The coloring, to be expected considering the setting, is heavy in earthy tones. Variants of brown and tan are found in almost every panel, although more vibrant colors are also represented from clothing, cars, vegetation, and of course people. Characters are also outlined with a fairly thick border, which gives them a more pronounced appearance. There is also plenty of detail to be found, especially in the background of many panels. No scene feels lacking visually.

In short, I recommend giving this graphic novel a look. It’s a fine addition to the Black Powder Red Earth universe, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment to see how the story develops. It’s definitely one of the better new IPs to come out as of late.

The hardcover of “Black Powder Red Earth: Part 1” will be available later this year.

Echelon Software

Monster Black Ice

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Always on the prowl for new energy drinks, I came across a flavor of Monster I haven’t tried yet. Monster Black Ice is part of the Extra Strength Nitrous Technology line, and is the first in the line to have zero calories or sugar. Surprisingly, the drink is lacking in that “diet” taste, and is pleasantly smooth, with a nice bite. I had a hard time locking down the flavor, but I’d best describe it as berry-ish, almost like a punch. Although Nitrous Super Dry is still my go to Monster, I find this to be an excellent alternative, so give it a shot.

Redback One 2-Day Basic Carbine Course: AAR

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

An Intro: I’ve had some previous experience with the M4 before, but this was the first class I took that was completely devoted to its operation. Even though it was only two days long, I still managed to pull a lot of useful information that I will definitely be using in the future. In any event, if you’re new to the carbine, or just want to polish up some skills, this is an excellent class to take.

The Instructor: Jason Falla has 6 years experience in the Australian commando regiment and a further six years in SASR. He has prior experience in counter terrorist operation, heavy weaponry, combat medicine, CQB, special reconnaissance and surveillance, and hostage rescue. In 2005, Jason relocated to the USA and worked for Blackwater for a period of 5 years as a firearms instructor before starting Redback One where he became the senior instructor and training advisor. His years of experience and mastery of the carbine really showed through his instruction.

The Weather: The first day was pretty chilly, and it stayed that way pretty much the entire day. The morning started cloudy with a light sprinkle, but thankfully this didn’t last. It definitely helped that we spend most of the day in the classroom, but more on that later. The second day was also fairly cold. It warmed up a bit as the day progressed, but a jacket was not unwelcome. Also, plenty of afternoon sun led to plenty of sunburn after the second day. What can I say? Blame my Nordic European ancestry.

My equipment: I used a Daniel Defense M4 with a DD forward grip, Magpul ACS stock, Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Applications Sling, Surefire Scout Light with Manta Rails to hold the pressure switch, and an Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic. For my choice of magazines I used Magpul PMAGs. For the purposes of the exercises, each mag was filled to 28 rounds. I also used a Crye Precision Mag Clip for one of my mags, which I held on the left shoulder strap of my rig. My rig is a Tactical Tailor 2 piece MAV complete with an X Harness, both in MultiCam, of course.

Day 1:

We were in the classroom for about 7 hours (including the lunch break). That’s not to say it felt like wasted time. Actually, the lessons were quite informative, starting with the training objectives and leading into topics like M4 safety, characteristics of the M4 platform, the cycle of operation, how to field strip your rifle, shooting fundamentals, and zeroing. It’s definitely a great introduction for someone who’s new to the M4.

When 1500 rolled around, we did a bit of shooting. Mostly zeroing our sights from the 25m line.

After an hour and a half of zeroing and confirming our zero, we fired at low percentage targets from the high and low ready positions with follow through and post engagement exercises. That ended the day.

Day 2:

More classroom! But it was only 30 minutes long. And it was about ballistics. Having a good understanding of how the combination of your rifle and chosen ammunition affects a target is very important information. FYI, be on the lookout for Barnes Triple Shock. Best round ever [for now].

The shooting exercises, in order:

-Shooting at high and low percentage targets at 7 meters. A good warm up for the exercises to come.

-Shooting from the standing, kneeling, and prone shooting positions, and the pros and cons of each. We also worked a bit on alternative stances, such as rolling from prone.

-Tactical reloading. We went over this extensively.

-Cadence drills. Shots at 1 sec, 1/2 sec, and 1/4 sec from 7m. This is where stance and trigger control really come into play. This was also the last exercise before lunch.

-My personal favorite, the malfunction drills. We worked on failure to feed, unseated mags, failure to extract, double feeds, and the biggest malfunction of them all: bolt override. Mortar that rifle, soldier!

-Turning drills. Pivoting left and right towards the threat. About turns towards the threat. This also doubled as an exercise in shooting weak side dominant. You can’t always have your left foot forward, after all.

-Shooting on the move, specifically while moving forward. You sacrifice a stable shooting platform, so keeping good control is all the more important.

-Shooting from cover at steel. We devoted quite a few rounds to this, about one mag per cover. We practiced leaning from cover, shooting under cover, shooting above cover, ect. As predicted, some of the students took a few pieces of the cover off. Not a big deal in training, but it’s always important to remember when shooting that you’re optic has about a 2in. offset from your barrel.

-The final exercise of the day was a qualifier from the 50m line. 50 rounds, 5 points within the target, 3 points if the shots hit the body outside the target, same with headshots when the exercise called for them, 250 max score. The shots were made from various positions at various distances. We advanced to the 7m line. I managed a 210. Yea, me!

If you’re interested in attending this or other firearms classes, visit redbackone.com to view their available training schedule.

Also, thanks to Redback One’s facebook for many of the photos used in the article. You can view them and plenty more here.

Mad Duo Reviews Drive Angry

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Drive Angry: Cleared Hot to Watch

Drive Angry is the 3D theatrical version of that old truism about mopeds and, uh, large women. You know the one we’re talking about. This flick is so utterly ridonculous, so over the top, it makes self-respecting grindhouse hang its head in shame—and that’s what’s so awesome about it. We know, you expected us to make fun of it, mock the script and gunhandling…and we would have, if the movie had taken itself seriously, but it doesn’t. Its nonplussed self-awareness conveys the sort of “I’m at peace with myself” vibe that hippy gurus, overpaid therapists and cannibalistic serial killers can only envy. You know from the first thirty seconds you’re in for an over the top ride and within ten minutes you’ll have either left the theater or you’ll be having the time of you’re life.

Frankly, we loved it, and if you enjoyed The Expendables, or movies like They Live or Big Trouble in Little China, you will too. However, if you want writing without clichés or realistic combat action, better skip it. Production values aren’t as good as The Expendables, but the cast is, and it’s way better than Machete…but the fact that we’re comparing it to both should tell you something. Pay attention boys and girls, we’re talking about a movie in which the protagonist engages in a gunfight while in flagrante delicto* with a white trash redneck waitress (who has predictably big store bought boobs), smoking a cigar and drinking Black Label at the same time. The fact that she never dismounts and he neither misses nor spills the whiskey despite an obscenely high bad guy death toll should tell you something about it.

* Attention, grunts reading this: this is a fancy way for us to say he was having sex with her. Note also that he was the one smoking the cigar and drinking, not her.

Nicolas Cage plays our protagonist, John Milton (yes, like Paradise Lost), the bad ass grandfather everyone thought was dead (because he was). He breaks out of hell (in black Oaklies, behind the wheel of a 1964 Riviera) by driving across a sort of post-apocalyptic version of hell obviously dreamed up collaboratively by Dante, John Carpenter, Nick Castle and the editor of Muscle Car Magazine. Hell behind and vengeance before him, Milton goes after the villain of the piece, rescues a waitress from her abusive boyfriend and persuades her to take him across country, drives several awesome cars and tries to avoid a pursing demon, all the while indulging in epic amounts of carnage and bloodshed.

Billy Burke does a good if not compelling job as the evil hillbilly satanic cult messiah Jonah King, whose congregation apparently consists solely of Jerry Springer Show castoffs and refugees from Appalachia. He wants to sacrifice Milton’s grandchild (who killed Milton’s estranged daughter after she performed an ad hoc penectomy on him) in a satanic rite and unleash hell on earth.

Amber Heard is easy on the eyes as the daisy-duke-shorts-wearing Piper, a brawling trailer trash princess, and she does carry her role off okay, but the best supporting actor is without a doubt William Fichtner. He just steals every scene he’s in. Fichtner is the dry, impeccably dressed, laconic Accountant, sent by Lucifer to bring Milton back. Whether effortlessly beating the trailer park bully to death or driving a gas truck through a highway patrol roadblock, he makes it all look easy. David Morse plays Milton’s old friend, and we give the movie additional kewl points for having him in it despite his limited role.

There are a few things in the movie we’d have wished were made clear, like the “godkiller” gun and how Milton wound up dead in hell in the first place. However, in our views such gaps aren’t sufficient to spoil the fun. Besides, they’re more than counterbalanced by such niceties as a 1964 Buick Riviera, a 1969 Dodge Charger, a 1971 Chevy Chevelle, boobies, a cane made from the femur of the villain’s previous victim, the assorted grisly fates suffered by oh so many cultists, laugh out loud one-liners, mounds of expended brass, unabashed bloodshed, more boobies, expended shells and more brass and indignantly bloodthirsty cops…Plus, big damn supernatural bullets with Deus Velox Nex on the side are just kewl.

Though the film starts out in Colorado and makes its way to Louisiana via Olahoma, the terrain throughout will be woefully familiar to any poor bastard ever been stationed at Ft. Polk. Note: the Colorado troopers may not have been too bright (the Accountant’s influence not withstanding), but the Oklahoma troopers actually seem kind of familiar. We particularly enjoyed the OHP Captain ordering them to “shoot at their tires”. Pretty sure he was teaching at a tracking course we attended at Camp Gruber back in the early 90s.

Anyhoo, we’re just not sure how better to describe this movie in comparison to other movies. Constantine meets Crank? Big Trouble in Little China meets the bastard love child of Desperado and Dusk Til Dawn? Maybe it’s a whole new over the top genre itself, but if you don’t expect anything serious or coherent then you should be able to sit back and enjoy it.

Much as you would a really big-boned sportin’ woman or a moped with flames painted on the side. Just don’t wanna to tell anyone about it. You are hereby cleared hot to watch.

Mad Duo Clear!

About the authors: The Mad Duo enjoys celebrity status in the action figure world and among those sheepdogs perspicacious enough to follow them. Iconic trigger-pulling pundits whose wit and witticisms have been described as the “literary equivalent of a .308 boat-tail to the head”, they offer commentary on everything from current events to the relative merits of tactical gear, TTPs and weaponry. Read them on SSD, their website Breach-Bang-Clear or on FaceBook. No sissies, pansies, Olbermann fans or Behar acolytes allowed.