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.