It's been a while since I linked any of my reviews here. So here are two movie reviews! I apologize they're a bit short, I've been so busy writing school papers lately it's cut my personal writing time a bit...
Brought to you, once again, by Rockstar North.
Seriously though, I didn't bother watching the Spike TV Video Game Awards (or whatever stupid name they were calling it now, I don't remember), I never watch it. But being the avid video game fan that I am, I nonetheless have to read the results. And BIG SHOCKER! GTAV won Best Game, because Rockstar always wins Best Game at these things... That is, when Madden NFL isn't winning.
It's funny, I think so little of this so-called award show, yet it always gets to me. I don't know, maybe it's because I like and appreciate video games so much, and this is the best the medium gets with an award show. I mean, this is an award show that has done antics like writing the names of winners on a woman's leg in the past. I'm not even asking for something entirely highbrow, just something that doesn't reinforce the stereotypes that video games are a mindless pastime for delinquent teenage boys.
I mean, I know Spike TV is a mindless network founded on negative male stereotypes ("beer and boobs and fart jokes yeehaw!"), but when making an award show for video games, they could have at least attempted to make a show that appealed to the gaming community (or should I emphasize the "savory gaming community"). Believe it or not, not all gamers share such a bro mentality.
I really shouldn't care. After all, this is the same show that thought 50 Cent: Bulletproof was Game of the Year material, the show that only recently seemed to notice Nintendo exists, the same show that would rather have displays of the aforementioned sexism and potty humor in place of broadcasting half of their own awards. To say it's a poor representation of video games is an understatement.
But it's the only mainstream representation video games have as far as awards are concerned. It has only succeeded in reinforcing the negative perceptions people have about video games, and it relishes in it.
Again, I'm not asking for something stuffy and pretentious, but it would be nice to see video games represented by an award show that actually cares about their creative and artistic merits. At the very least, can they start using envelopes?
The GameSpotit: The Desolation of Blogs.
The Hobbit:I just finished watching the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, for the first time since it was in theaters. I must say it was even better than I remembered it. Granted it's only a year old, but sometimes movies can lose something when their time on the big screen is done (Avatar anyone?).
I couldn't be more excited to see The Desolation of Smaug, and so far it seems the critics like it even better than the first one. Even though I never understood most of the complaints with An Unexpected Journey, it's good to hear the series is only getting better in most people's eyes.
It, admittedly, hasn't been too great of a year for movies. Sure, I still need to catch up on Gravity and maybe a few others down the road, but for thew most part, 2013 has felt pretty mild. The only movies I've seen this year that either lived up to my expectations or surpassed them are Despicable Me 2 (which I actually found funnier than the first), Monsters University (again, it's not one of Pixar's best, but after Cars 2 and Brave, it's a leap in the right direction), Catching Fire (not as great as obsessed young adults would have you believe, but probably the only franchise that's popular with young adults that's actually, y'know, good), and Frozen (which destroyed my huge skepticisms and is probably my favorite movie of 2013 I've seen). It will be great to see the year capped off with The Hobbit. It may be just what my movie-loving self needs.
Guess I should catch up on a few films to get my "favorite movie" awards ready for January-ish. Oh, and The Wind Rises counts as a 2014 film as far as I'm concerned. Sure, it's in contention for an Oscar this year, but a week-long showing in LA exclusively for critics doesn't quite count for me. So I'll be seeing it come February when it's released properly in the US. I only say this because, being an immense Studio Ghibli fan (actually, I'm THE Studio Ghibli fan), omitting Miyazaki's "final" film gives the likes of Frozen and Desolation of Smaug a better chance to be called my favorite film of 2013 (still hope The Wind Rises wins Best Animated Feature at the Oscars though. Ghibli has been snubbed too many times, and this is the Academy's last chance to make Miyazaki a two-time Oscar winner).
Boy that drifted off-subject...
Super Mario 3D World:After finding all the green stars and stamps, and reaching the top of the flag pole on every stage, I have unlocked the final level of Super Mario 3D World.
Good heavens. It's difficult.
I haven't beat it yet... In fact, I've only reached the level's second segment, and I've already gone through twenty-odd lives. I'll give it another shot later, but boy, it's a doozy.
It's a final challenge worthy of a game of this caliber.
The Wrestling Dead:For anyone who cares, I've been working on my oft-delayed seventh and final episode of The Wrestling Dead. I hope to get it done and uploaded within this month of December, and then hopefully, hopefully I can get working on my video game reviews for YouTube. So yeah, there's some stuff.
Here's some more stuff.
Super Mario 3D World:What a game. What a game. Sure, it may not be Mario Galaxy, but dang it if Super Mario 3D World isn't the most pure fun I've had with a game since Portal 2... Maybe even since Galaxy 2. Yeah, it's really great. Reason enough for anyone to buy a Wii U, and undoubtedly one of the best games of the year.
I beat the game the other day (final boss is amazing by the way), and the post game stuff is intense! Rosalina is a great addition no doubt, and is my favorite character to play (Mario himself comes in second).
It is more like the 2D Marios than any 3D Mario game before it. But the good thing is it doesn't feel like a 3D Mario that's suffering from New Super Mario Bros. syndrome. It feels more like a truer successor to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World than NSMB ever could be. It's just so fun and imaginative.
Cranky Kong:Cranky Kong is rumored to be the fourth character in Tropical Freeze. If this is true, I'm all for it! Cranky is one of my favorite video game characters. Truth be told I kind of hope he's overpowered, so that his comical "back in my day" ramblings aren't just hot air. No matter what he'd be a fun addition. Just leave Tiny out of this.
Frozen:Despite what the atrocious advertisements might have you believe, Frozen is the best Disney movie in years. And I'm just going to say it, it's one of my favorite Disney movies, period. It helps that the generic romance story found in...virtually every other Disney movie isn't the focus (there still is some romance, but it isn't quite as cliche as most of the studio's work), and instead the main theme is between sisters. And instead of having a traditional Disney villain (awesome as they may be, Disney has become a slave to their tropes to often), one of said sisters fills the role that would otherwise go to some scheming individual who basically just exists because the movie needs a villain. And that Snowman, who seems so insufferable in advertisements, is actually, well, tolerable (I've grown tired of chatty sidekicks in general, so I still won't call him a highlight).
Simply put, I loved Frozen. It seems like Pixar's quality has transferred over to their parent company (although I did like Monsters University, which put Pixar's storytelling back on track, Frozen nails the emotional aspects better).
Alright, so November was one tough month to choose a single game of the month. Sure, the new consoles that were released are nice and shiny, but the real highlights in game design came from Nintendo this month. One is the best Mario game in years, the other is a sequel to A Link to the Past that does its lineage proud. Between these two games, it’s one tough choice.
Super Mario 3D World is like an explosion of all the things we’ve grown to love about the Mario series in the past three decades. It has the playable characters from Super Mario Bros. 2, a love of power-ups straight out of Super Mario Bros. 3, the multiplayer of New Super Mario Bros, the constant surge of creative energy (and beautiful orchestrated music) of Super Mario Galaxy. It goes on and on.
Super Mario 3D World is a cavalcade of creativity, and is one of the most fun Mario platformers ever. That alone is hefty praise.
Meanwhile, A Link Between Worlds provides a Zelda as deep as any, while adding its own spin to the series’ formula around every corner.
The great thing about A Link Between Worlds is how it manages to play off the nostalgia of A Link to the Past, while making the adventure within its recreated Hyrule entirely its own.
It’s an incredible journey that caps off an amazing year for Nintendo’s 3D handheld in the best way possible.
Like I said, it was hard to choose just one game for game of the month. Both are among the year’s best games, joining the likes of Ni no Kuni and The Last of Us, and both are so exceptional it seems like choosing which is better seems superfluous. If I had to choose, I might say Mario nudges out the victory, but it’s a very close call.
Have a good day of eating. Here's something involving food.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Anyway, 2013 is nearly done, and the time has come to start preparing our lists of best games of the year. I usually prefer to do a full on top 10 list, which I will do once again this year. Seven games really stand out, so I need to think of three additional games to add to the mix.
I'll worry about the list later, but the following seven games are the top contenders for the prize (in chronological order):
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
The Last of Us
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Super Mario 3D World
Before anyone says anything about "too many Nintendo games" (because it seems whenever a list of any kind includes more than one or two Nintendo games, the internet deems them biased. Because apparently bias only applies to Nintendo), would anyone really argue that any gaming platform had a better year than the 3DS? It basically had one or two really good to great games every month in 2013. Hard to argue such consistency. The Wii U had a bumpy road for a while in terms of releases, but it popped out at least two great original games in Pikmin 3 and Mario 3D World (Wind Waker HD as well, but that's a remake). But the Nintendo titles are joined by two outstanding PS3 exclusives in The Last of Us and Ni no Kuni. So apparently it's just Microsoft who needs to up their game (pun intended) in 2014.
So yes, have a happy Thanksgiving, and look forward to whatever game of the year nonsense I cook up.
After putting a good chunk of time in Nintendo's year-cappers, here are some of my thoughts on the two newest releases in gaming's most beloved franchises.
Super Mario 3D World:Some people have complained that 3D World doesn't have the same sprawling, explorative worlds as Super Mario 64 or Sunshine, and that its levels are smaller and more compact than those of the Galaxy games. That's probably because this isn't Super Mario 64, or Sunshine, or the Galaxy games. This is Super Mario 3D World, it's its own machine.
It's certainly different than the other 3D Marios, and yes, it's closer to the 2D Marios than any 3D Mario before it. Some people seem to think that's a bad thing, but it's just a different thing. But don't think this is another New Super Mario Bros. game with a 3D perspective. When I compare 3D World to the 2D Mario games, I'm referring to the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.
I have long-since said the NSMB games capture the aesthetics of the Mario's of old, but lacked the creative depth, while the 3D Marios (and the Donkey Kong Country series) have better kept the "Mario spirit" thriving. 3D World, true to the likes of Super Mario 64 and Galaxy, retains the inventiveness that makes Mario, well, Mario. But it does it with a similar sense of style to Mario's NES and SNES classics to create a Mario that's uniquely its own.
Sure, Super Mario 3D Land tried its own hand at merging Mario's generations into one whole, but while 3D Land was a great game in many respects, it could feel a little shallow at times. It played things safely by relishing in Mario's past, and its best ideas were condensed versions of ones we'd seen before. But in the case of Super Mario 3D World, it all feels so rich and complete.
3D World may not reinvent the platformer like 64 or Galaxy did. But it does share their spirit of inventiveness. For anyone who thought Nintendo was running out of ideas for their beloved series, and that the days of every Mario being different were over, 3D World is proof that the Mario series is as strong as ever, and that Nintendo's EAD Tokyo Studio may just be the most creative developer around today.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds:Just in case the 3DS didn't have a strong enough year in 2013, what with Pokemon X/Y having just been released, and Fire Emblem Awakening, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and the infectious Animal Crossing: New Leaf also having been released in the months passed, Nintendo decided to cap off the year with a brand new 3DS Zelda. And not just any Zelda, but a sequel to A Link to the Past of all things.
As bold of a statement as it may be, A Link Between Worlds lives up to that lineage.
A Link to the Past's Hyrule has been recreated from the ground up, right down to the locations of the dungeons (which are brand new on the inside). It's amazing how well the game plays off of nostalgia so strongly while creating an identity of its own.
Link's ability to turn into a drawing on the wall might seem more Mario-ish than Link's usual antics, but its a mechanic that has already created a host of fun and inventive gameplay scenarios for me, and I've only beat the first few dungeons. Getting Link's arsenal at a shop instead of gradually gaining them in dungeons might seem sacrilegious at first, but it's a wonderful change of pace that makes A Link Between Worlds stand out in its series.
The dungeons are also top notch. The dungeons seem to include a little clue to what key item you need to buy from the shopkeeper, so while you may no longer have dungeons built around an item that needs to be found and used to defeat its boss, the dungeons are still built around Link's arsenal of toys. And they make great usage of said arsenal, with fantastic puzzles and fun enemy encounters. Oh, and after the first dungeon, it seems like you can enter whatever available dungeon you want in any order.
Funny how a Zelda that, at a glance, looks like it's catering to memories of a past entry, is in actuality one of the freshest entries in the series in years.
Super Mario 3D World is officially the best-reviewed game on any next-gen console by a considerable margin. But what else was it going to be? Something on Xbox One?
Man, it's going to be a long, hard wait for Christmas. My wallet has been done in over the past couple of months, so I guess I have no real choice but to wait for the holidays to get my copy. At the very least, 3D World just seems like a Christmas game, doesn't it?
But I did get A Link Between Worlds, so that should satisfy my gaming hunger until then. Especially since I'm still playing Pokemon and Wind Waker HD.
Seriously though, Super Mario 3D World looks incredible. It's funny how a few short months ago it was being written off so readily, and now here we are, and it's being called one of the best Mario games ever. The biggest complaint I've seen with the game is that it's "not quite Galaxy." But that's hardly a complaint, since most great games "aren't quite Galaxy" anyway.
Peach will be my go-to character from the start, and once I unlock Rosalina she'll be my character. GIRL POWER!
3D World couldn't look more gorgeous, either. Despite all the new bells and whistles of the PS4 and Xbox One, those consoles are still basically just improving the same textures and browns and grays that we've seen all too much of in recent years. 3D World looks to finally showcase just how beautiful a Mario game looks in HD, and the game seems to have a distinct art direction even among Mario games. The game looks like Adventure Time!
3D World looks like the perfect way to cap off an amazing year in gaming.
It's the twenty-second anniversary of the SNES and Super Mario World in North America! As well as Donkey Kong Country's nineteenth anniversary in the US, and DKC2's eighteenth in Japan! Boy is my OCD showing with such information!
Anyway, I figure I should write something unique here. You know, for Dylan417 to read. It's not like anyone else is going to.
So, here's a little something something on some of my favorite SNES games. I'm leaving some out because I'm already writing this around 4:00 AM.
My favorite SNES games (chronological order)
Super Mario World:Super Mario World is gaming. More accurately, Super Mario World is everything that's right about gaming. It's creative, deep, and fun, with impeccable controls and level design that's second to none. It took everything Mario learned from his three (fine, four) great NES classics, and reshaped them into a 16-bit piece of perfection. It's a game that has a new idea around every corner, and always finds time to rewrite its own rules.
Oh, and Yoshi, can't forget that.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:When it comes to discussing my favorite Zelda, the answer has always been close to a tie between Wind Waker and this perennial classic. A Link to the Past was the first Zelda I ever played, and I may have spoiled myself with such an introduction. Everything that makes Zelda great can largely be summed up here. No matter what strides the series has made since, no matter what revolutions they've started, all subsequent entries owe a great debt of gratitude to it.
Secret of Mana:It's like Zelda and Final Fantasy had a baby! And it's up to three players! Despite all the acclaim Secret of Mana has received over the years, you'd think it would be brought up all the more with a combination like that!
If you like Zelda gameplay, and you like RPGs, Secret of Mana is a must! Especially if you like leveling up, since basically everything levels up in this game (characters, weapons, each character's ability with each weapon, magic, etc.). It's a bit light on story when compared to some RPGs, but it has enough world building and cool villains to draw you in (Thanatos, you cad!).
Seriously though, it's a shame Square has yet to bring the Mana series back to such staggering heights.
Donkey Kong Country: In a world where Sega did what Ninten-don't, DKC did what the Genesis never Sega-ttempted!
DKC always gets praise for the visuals and glorious, glorious music, but today it doesn't get half the credit it deserves for it's platforming brilliance (everyone was riding mine karts after DK did it!), and for the fact that it basically reversed Nintendo's fortunes single-handedly.
Earthbound: In a world where RPGs are defined by whiny teenagers loathing themselves in the midst of much bigger things in a high-fantasy world, one RPG dared to be silly. And yet, it was also one of the most poignant works in the entire genre (still is).
Four weird kids on a mission to save the Earth from an evil alien spawned from hatred itself, fighting zombies, robots, and hippies along the way. It embraced old-school RPG tropes while adding its own spin around every corner. Earthbound is still a delight.
And any game that let's you beat up hippies with a baseball bat is okay in my book.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island:It's like animated poetry! A child's drawing come to life! It's still one of the most inspired visual designs in any game, rivaled by Wind Waker and not much else. But even Wind Waker probably owes a little something to Yoshi's Island's visual treats.
The best part is the visuals are just part of what makes Yoshi's Island so special. The perfect gameplay, top-notch level design, terrific soundtrack, and overall personality of the game also play a role in its appeal.
It was the last direct "sequel" in the primary Mario series until Super Mario Galaxy 2 came along (I consider NSMB to be a spinoff series), but it was anything but a "me too" experience. If anything, it's the most blatant testament to the versatility of the Mario series.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest:As far as I'm concerned, this is the greatest platformer ever made that doesn't have the name "Mario" somewhere in the title. It took everything that was memorable about the first DKC, and made it all so much better.
The revolutionary visuals now looked better, the unforgettable soundtrack was all the greater (perhaps my favorite in all of gaming), and the gameplay was smarter and deeper than ever. Not to mention the atmosphere! Few places in video games have captured the sense of melancholy of Crocodile Isle, which goes largely unappreciated today as one of gaming's greatest "places."
Gone are the more traditional worlds of jungles and simple water levels. Now you're going from pirate ships to giant beehives to haunted libraries with roller coasters in them! Sure, there's a more traditional volcano thrown in for good measure, but it's only world 2! You know you're in for a tough platformer when the volcano world arrives that early!
Simply put, it's platforming perfection.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars:I make it no secret that Super Mario RPG is my favorite of all RPGs, and one of my all-time favorite games, period. It was a perfect transitioning of the Super Mario series into the realm of RPGs. And while Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi have done a great job in keeping SMRPG's legacy alive, somehow it's the original that transcends the idea of "Mario in an RPG" and becomes something else entirely.
Unforgettable characters, a fun story, and humorous writing compliment the simple yet incredibly deep gameplay.
Kirby Super Star:Probably the best "traditional Kirby game, and yet it's not all that traditional. The box art boasts that Superstar houses eight different Kirby games, and while they may be too short on their own accords to feel like eight complete games, the genius of Super Star is that each of its games are a new twist on the Kirby formula that each join together as one larger Kirby experience.
Kirby has charted off to other genres, and at times rewrote his own rules. But Super Star did what Kirby does best, at his best.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble:Although the third DKC's subtitle is nowhere near as clever as that of its pun-tacular predecessor (I still don't even know what the "Double Trouble" in the title is alluding to), the game itself is a worthy successor to the great series.
Sure, there enemy designs have clearly reached the bottom of the barrel at this point, and the game's sales suffered do to it being released a few months after the N64 launched. But when given its fair chance, there aren't many platformers as capable as DKC3.
Happy Super Nintendo, everybody!
Super Mario 3D World:Well, Super Mario 3D World is the second Nintendo game in a week's time to receive a score of 9 from GS. Clearly this represents the early signs of the apocalypse.
Seriously though, Super Mario 3D World looks incredible. It's hard to believe just a few short months ago we were all so skeptic of it. The only downside is I'll have to wait for Christmas, but I'll try to pick up A Link Between Worlds at launch anyway.
I'm happy to see such glowing reviews for 3D World. It seriously seems like the only downside people see in the game is that it "isn't as good as Galaxy," but saying a game isn't as good as Galaxy might as well be saying it's a game that isn't Galaxy, so it isn't too much of a problem.
The amount of power-ups looks insane, the level design looks fantastic, and I'm looking forward to playing the game as its "secret" character.
Digimon:I finished watching the first season of Digimon on Netflix, and I genuinely enjoyed it as much now as I did when I was a kid. It's funny how back in the day it was perceived as a Pokemon knockoff (which it really isn't), but today it's often recognized as one of the first kids' shows to put an emphasis on story arcs and character development. Yeah, the cool monsters are the immediate appeal, but the show has enough character and heart to make it endearing even in those cheesy moments.
I'll start watching the second season/series soon, which as a kid I found nearly as good as the original (but not quite). It's probably a good thing the third such season isn't included though, since it alienated me from the franchise for years (and considering it isn't in syndication or on Netflix like the first two, I'm guessing I'm not alone there). I really should check out the fourth and fifth shows and see if they're any good.
Disney Movies:Disney has finally jumped on the Netflix bandwagon, it seems. Because over the past few weeks it seems they've added a slew of movies to the site's streaming service (though Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin and Little Mermaid are conveniently absent). Here is a list of the ones I've watched recently.
Emperor's New Groove: Yeah, I watched it again. Funny how it ended up streaming just a few weeks after I rented it in the mail. Anyway, I've talked about it enough lately so I'll keep it brief. It's one of Disney's funniest movies, one of their most unique, and despite the short running time, it's also one of my favorites from the studio.
Lilo & Stitch: Yeah, another one I watched "again." Hey, when I like movies I like to watch them. So sue me. Like Emperor's New Groove, it's one of the "experimental" Disney films from the early 2000s that actually worked. It was an inconsistent time frame for Disney (more on that in a minute), but it was a rare time frame where Disney was daring enough to get out of their comfort zone (no singing princesses!).
Anyway, I love Lilo & Stitch. The setting is unique (the first animated film ever set in Hawaii), I like the weird little girl/evil alien dynamic, and although it's a little smarmy, it has more than enough heart to make it feel a lot more genuine than today's more sarcastic animated fare.
Pocahontas: Is it wrong that my favorite song in Pocahontas is "Savages?"
Anyway, Pocahontas is one of the more underrated movies from the Disney renaissance. It was the film that immediately followed the much-beloved Lion King, so that might explain some of the lackluster response. But people go too far when they claim it "broke" Disney's streak in the early nineties. It's still a good movie, people.
Now, Pocahontas has some problems. In particular, the animal sidekicks feel completely unnecessary, and are examples that Disney is a slave to their own tropes. There are also a few silly story elements (Pocahontas immediately and conveniently learning English by "listening to her heart" comes to mind), but overall it's a fun Disney movie. And it actually has a pretty unique ending for the studio. Pocahontas and John Smith go their separate ways! The film doesn't end with the studio's usual "happily ever after" closing. It ends with people learning something, and going home. Surely I'm not the only one who finds it a unique ending for the Disney brand?
Mulan: One of my all-time favorite Disney movies. Along with Belle, Mulan is easily at the top of the Disney Princess echelon. Some people complain that she had to "be a man" in order to save the day, but these people clearly only half-watched the movie and just wanted to complain. Yes, she disguises as a man, but Mulan, as a woman, is the one who ends up saving the day.
Heck, it certainly beats a character like Brave's Merida, who is just a young male personality in the guise of a dress.
Despite my love of Mulan, I do have three complaints with it: The first is Mushu, who is another sidekick who feels unnecessary. I don't hate him, but I can easily picture the movie without him. Another complaint is the lack of songs. I like the songs that are included, but there are so few of them it feels a little inconsistent. And my final complaint is the bit of cultural ignorance in the film's early moments. Notice when Mulan is meeting the matchmaker the women are dressed like geisha girls. You know, geisha girls, as in JAPAN AND NOT CHINA! Seriously Disney, know your Asians.
But, it's still one of my favorites.
Hercules: Another favorite of mine, and a much better Superman movie than any Superman movie. It has a similar comedic energy to Emperor's New Groove, has some fun character designs, great animation, and terrific voice work (James Woods, Danny DeVito and Susan Egan make this one of Disney's greatest achievements in the vocal department). Yeah, another favorite.
Treasure Planet: This was my first time seeing Treasure Planet in its entirety, as I had only previously seen it on TV. It's another example of Disney's experimentation in the early 2000s, and although the end results aren't as successful as Lilo or Emperor, it's still probably better than it gets credit for.
I will admit, Disney probably would have been better off with a more direct adaptation of Treasure Island, as the sci-fi motif can feel a little too... 12-year old boy-centric at first. But once the character development kicks in you mostly forget about the gimmick. Also Delbert is awesome.
It's not a great Disney movie, but hey, at least it was another example of Disney trying to branch out.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire: This was my first time watching Atlantis since it was in theaters, which makes it only my second time ever watching it. Again, it's another example of Disney attempting something different during the early 2000s, unfortunately in this case, doing something different falls into its own set of tropes.
Now, the movie starts off well enough, it introduces some fun characters, and Michael J. Fox proves he brings as much enthusiasm to voice work as he does to his live action roles. Unfortunately, and ironically, it's once the crew reaches Atlantis that the film gets pretty boring. It falls into one sci-fi cliche after another (the colonel is the bad guy?! Who's have thunk!), and it gets to the point that it feels so by-the-book that it's no longer fun.
James and the Giant Peach:Despite receiving a heft of acclaim back in the day, James and the Giant Peach seems largely forgotten today. Maybe that's due to the live-action segments, which (purposefully) looks simple and cheap, and it takes about twenty-odd minutes before the stop-motion genius of Henry Selick kicks in.
I hadn't seen Giant Peach in at least ten years, but I was smiling with how much of it I remembered. I admit my younger self found the film much bigger than it is. Watching it again I realize it's pretty short, and some plot points end up feeling a bit rushed because of it. But it remains an undeniable charm. And I personally prefer it to Selick's later Coraline, which I feel was too focused on the visuals, while James and the Giant Peach retains the childlike sense of wonder and whimsy that made Nightmare Before Christmas a classic.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: The first Pirates, AKA the good Pirates, was added to Netflix streaming just a few days ago. I admit I've watched Black Pearl more often than most two and a half hour films, but it had actually been a couple of years since I last saw it. And while the CG has aged something awful, the movie is as fun as it was ten years ago (yeah, it's been that long).
Now, I'm actually someone who can't himself to hate the Pirates sequels. I am certainly aware of their (countless) flaws and pacing issues, but the Pirates of the Caribbean series has a strange allure to it for me. I can't really say what it is, but no matter how bad the sequels have got, I've still managed to enjoy them nonetheless. With that said, watching the first movie again always reminds you how much promise the franchise had, that any movie based on a Disneyland ride could end up being this enjoyable was an achievement in itself.
Okay, enough Disney for now.
The Godfather:Boy is the Godfather a great movie. I know, biggest cliche ever. But it's one of those things that's become cliched for a reason. It's one great movie.
I watched The Godfather as the follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey in my current film class, and I'm happy to have switched to a classic film where I don't feel left out of the loop. I hadn't seen The Godfather in years, and I'm glad I watched it again. The performances are something else, and the cinematography and musical score only helped it in becoming so iconic.
The Wind Rises:Disney, under the Touchstone banner, will release Miyazaki's final film, The Wind Rises, in February in the US. They recently released the official North American trailer, which refrains from showing any spoken dialogue (I think the dub isn't finished). The trailer also skims over the WWII aspects in the movie, which some have complained about. But I don't have too much of a problem with it, since the trailer seems to be more focused on this being Miyazaki's final film, and celebrates the unparalleled animator's career. In fact, the trailer brought me to tears.
Granted, I haven't seen the film yet, and won't see it until its February release (in which I'll see it day one, per my norm). But I swear if it doesn't win Best Animated Feature (it's been released for critical viewing so its eligible this year), the Oscars should be abolished. I still don't know how Ponyo wasn't even nominated, seeing as it was considerably better than most of the winners in the category over the years. Maybe the fact that this is Miyazaki's final film will persuade the Academy to do the right thing...for once.
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