The Empire Strikes Back:Following up on my recent viewing of the original Star Wars, I watched The Empire Strikes Back a few days ago. When people say it's the best Star Wars film, they're right on the money. It certainly has the most character development, and the most impactful moments (although I might get flogged for saying this, but I think Jedi actually wins in terms of pure emotion).
All three original Star Wars films have proven timeless, but Empire stands out as the heart of the series. It opens with the terrific Hoth battle sequence, and ends with what is still probably the most popular (and misquoted) twist in movie history (seriously people, he says "No, I am your father" not "Luke, I am your father"). And everything in between is simply great.
Alfred Hitchcock:I've recently started watching some Alfred Hitchcock movies after way too long. Psycho was required viewing for a class I'm taking, but I also watched The Birds and Vertigo for my own viewing pleasure.
Watching Hitchcock films is a reminder that horror and suspense films can produce masterpieces as good as any. Unfortunately, they are also a reminder of just how drastically far the horror and suspense genres have fallen. I mean, what passes for horror these days? Those grotesque torture movies? Those mind-numbing "haunting" films? Seriously, what happened?!
All three Hitchcock films I've watched recently are brilliant. Hitchcock had a way of making his films more psychological than violent, which has probably played to their favor through the years.
Psycho is without question a better slasher than...well... basically every other slasher. Primarily due to the way it focuses more on the characters and less on brutality. Now, it still has violent moments, obviously. In its day it was considered "shockingly violent." But the film focuses a lot more on Norman's insanity than it does on one brutal murder after another (in fact, there are only two murder scenes, the first of which doesn't happen until about forty minutes into the film. Compare that to the piles of bodies today's horror films stack up). Even the victims in question are given fleshed out personalities and stories, which of course makes their deaths, and "Mother's" crimes all the more impactful.
Vertigo is another terrific thriller about a former cop with vertigo (surprise) who ends up going mad after his phobia prevents him from saving someone. The Birds, meanwhile, is a vastly superior zombie movie than most zombie movies. For all intents and purposes, it is a zombie movie (unexplained origins, attacks come in waves, etc.), but with birds in place of re-animated corpses.
All three films are definite must-sees.
Super Mario 3D World & Wii U: I finally saw a commercial for Super Mario 3D World on TV today. I emphasize the "finally" because I think advertisement and marketing are what's been holding back the Wii U. Not the controller, not the lack of games (any more), but the lack of advertisements for the console are baffling.
Sure, when the Wii U was first released you saw some theatrical advertisements for the console. But about a month after launch, their went all the commercials. Yes, the Nintendo Directs have been great for announcing new and upcoming games to the big N's fanbase, but they aren't exactly a means of advertisement.
People go on and on about GTAV's ludicrous sales numbers. But is it that much of a surprise when you would be driving down a freeway and see the game plastered on a billboard, and then see another GTA-adorned billboard about a mile later?
To say the Wii U has potential is an understatement. It's the only next-gen console that doesn't just feel like a souped-up version of its predecessor. And although it had a rough number of months in the earlier half of 2013, it has picked up a more impressive library in recent times, and looks to have an excellent lineup in 2014. The console and its games could easily sell, but it kind of helps to have the support of TV time, billboards, and other such advertisements. This is the one aspect I've really questioned Nintendo's direction with Wii U.
I've had some great times with games like Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, and most recently Wind Waker HD (which feels better than ever because of the Wii U gamepad). The concept of the console, despite what the pessimism of today's gamers would have you believe, works. The gamepad is innovative, and Nintendo has been showing the console's promise more and more in recent times.
But when it comes to advertisements, Nintendo doesn't seem to know how they should market Wii U. Before the console was released, they seemed like they wanted to recapture the mainsteam appeal of the Wii, even though Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U were the only games the console saw in its first year that would really appeal to the "casual" crowd. Nintendo even seemed to continue this approach up into E3, and even today, as we approach the console's first year anniversary, they still seem to be advertising the console to a more casual audience to some degree (that is, when they're advertising the console at all). But let's think about what games the console seems revolved around for the next several months: a 3D Mario, a Donkey Kong Country title, a Bayonetta sequel, and Mario Kart.
While Mario and DK certainly are iconic to the point of having some mainstream appeal, they aren't exactly the kind of games that fit into the Wii Sports mold. Bayonetta 2 certainly doesn't fit that bill. Mario Kart is definitely the one to bridge audiences in terms of advertising, but then why not refocus the aforementioned marketing of the console to similarly bridge audiences, instead of catering to one particular crowd who, frankly, doesn't seem to be the core focus of most of the games on the system?
But it isn't even the lack of focus that I think is the main problem with Wii U's advertising, it's the lack of advertising all around. Like I said, I only just saw the first commercial for 3D World, now when the game is only a few weeks away. I saw the Pikmin 3 commercial once (maybe twice), and did Wind Waker HD even have a commercial? Nintendo can afford to advertisement space and TV time, so one has to wonder why they haven't.
Mario is really easy to sell. The series has been around for decades, and its had a long-standing popularity and appeal that few other franchises in any form of popular culture could hope for. So why does Nintendo insist on advertising games like 3D World in select "Wii U events?" Said events probably do help, but wouldn't it make sense to use them in addition to more traditional advertising methods, instead of in place of them?
Contrary to what the internet says (wants?), the Wii U isn't doomed. The games they have on the horizon all will no doubt push the console, and we can look forward to future Nintendo Directs for more upcoming titles. But the fact stands that the Wii U not only could have sold more units than it has by this point, but for all intents and purposes, it should have.