Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Movie Critique: The Christmas Tree

Written: January 19th, 2014
The Christmas Tree
Year: 1991 | Aspect Ratio: TV 1.33:1 | Flamarion Ferreira Films | 42 Minutes

This is my first movie review, so it may be hit and miss.  If I decide to create a new movie review, I'll try to do better.  But, until that time comes, this is my test movie review.
 
SPOILERS APLENTY
I know that it's been a month since Christmas had passed, and that it's very late to review this, but screw it; I wanted to give it an attempt after having just seen it.  They were not lying when they said... well, before I continue let me just say something.
When the Nostalgia Critic hinted that he was going to be reviewing "the worst Christmas special of all time" back in December, I was clueless as to what it would possibly be; if only because there are tons of Christmas-related movies out there and it could've been any of them.  But when Christmas Eve finally arrived, little did I realize it would be an animated one: a 1991 made-for-TV movie (if you can classify anything under 60 minutes as a movie, that is) called The Christmas Tree.  And from the clips that he showcased and everything that was wrong with it, I just had to see it firsthand, which I did eventually.  And, oh my God, what a trainwreck!  XD  He was right, not one thing that was in it was done properly; everything was done wrong.  I never even heard of it prior to his review, but he also stated that some people considered it to be so bad it's good.  And... let me start from the beginning.  Holy crap, was this movie awful!
 
This movie was done by a group called Flamarion Ferreira Films, which I'm not very familiar with (it must be a foreign company, judging by the animation, which I'll get to soon).  Okay, so try to bear with me as I tell this movie's story.  This movie is narrated from time to time, centering on an orphanage with kids who are unhappy and miserable as they live under the rule of the ruthless Miss Mavilda (who's basically the Miss Hannigan from Annie, in the way that she mistreats orphan children, times a hundred).  The orphans only have one friend so to speak, and that is a tall tree nearby the building which they christen Mrs. Hopewell.  All that changes once a young woman named Judy comes into town with her two children.  She and her family just moved in there, and because the father has to work elsewhere, that leaves Judy and her children to stay at Miss Mavilda's orphanage.  However, the children have to abide by the old witch's rules as they stay there.  Judy gets acquainted with the tree Mrs. Hopewell, sets up a playground for the children, and they are happy with her.  She also shares about Christmas to the orphaned children.  Miss Mavilda is not keen on Judy's kindness, so she wants to get rid of her (and eventually the tree itself).  Oh, I forgot to mention; every once in awhile the city's mayor arrives at the place and gives the owner, Miss Mavilda, two bags of unspecified money as she fools him into thinking that she's taking good care of the children, when she's not, for she gambles with the money she's given.  =<  Got all that, so far?  I'm not even done yet!
 
Now, the story doesn't sound too bad, from the way I worded it; but if you got to see its overall execution, then you'd find yourself flabbergasted.  Yeah!  ...  It's that awkward!  Whatever intentions these filmmakers had, I'm sure they were decent (that is, up until the hastily thrown in "moral" at the end), but it ultimately ended up bad.  I mean really bad.  ={  Miss Mavilda is such an over the top witch!  She undresses the children with "new clothes" as soon as the mayor leaves (but not after having seen them), in their undies; she gambles pretty much every night betting the money that she was given (as she gloats that the children won't get anything new that night); she tries to give the dog (there's a dog, by the way) to the pound since the children aren't allowed to feed him; she plots to have Judy framed as a thief in order to get her fired, like she did with her previous one (your guess is as good as mine); she vehemently orders Judy to not let the children play outside after having lost the money one time, thereby preventing them from getting clothing and stuff that benefit the children; she fires her assistant with an insane screeching noise that almost sounds like microphone mugging; and when her plan is starting to fail, she grabs the chainsaw and tries to cut down Mrs. Hopewell herself.  Miss Mavilda is one of those characters that is not nice for the sake of not being nice, for the plot; up until the final moment of the movie which I'm highly unconvinced about.  Nostalgia Critic pointed out that she may have a double personality disorder, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case because there is one scene when she finishes a sentence only to abruptly start a new one half a second later (i.e. "Come, children!  You're coming with me--Another thing!")  Who did the voice clip editing for this special?
 
The animation is so... I don't want to say it's the worst animation you'll find in a DTV movie, but the way it's presented is a little cheap, so it comes close.  Look, I understand that TV movies don't have as high a budget as theatrical and Hollywood movies, but done with the right push you can have well-done DTV animation (I'm not saying make it spectacular, but have something at least be presentable).  A couple examples that come to mind for me are, as far as '90s movies go, Beauty and the Beast: An Enchanted Christmas, and Opus n' Bill: A Wish for Wings that Work.  I bring up the latter 'cause for something that was around twenty-plus minutes long, it's amazing how much good animation there was despite it being worked on a very small budget (I plan on talking about it one of these days, it's really good); another reason I bring it up is because it was done in 1991, the year I was born,... which was also when The Chirstmas Tree came out.  I cannot even fathom the fact that it's a '90s movie, and if you didn't know any better while watching it, you would think that it something that was made during the '60s or '70s, back when animated programs didn't have much of a budget to work with.  Tell me, does poor color quality, limited animation, and stock scenery and animation sound like a movie the '90s would make?  Does it??
 
To even discuss the animation would require a lot of effort.  While there is motion and a tiny fraction of fluidity, there are times when the animation skips, does not look polished at all, and few moments where you could see the dust left on a layer.  A lot of the time the words are synced with lip movement, but I couldn't help but spot a few moments when words were spoken when lips were closed (or spoken at an incorrect time).  And as I said before, there is lots of repeat animation, particularly whenever characters are speaking; and as someone who was born in the early '90s, it just makes me feel embarrassed to watch something of exceptionally low quality (especially since DTV animation would keep evolving as the years progress).  This was a step backwards, readers, a gigantic step backwards.  Several of the motions during animation go either steady or slow, there is no rhyme or reason to this.  The facial expressions stand out, for they look a little weird to me; the children's especially, who look like ragamuffin dolls.  I'm under the impression that the animators wanted to make them look charming, but ultimately they look a little creepy (I'm more referring to that one scene where Lilly and Pappy, Judy's children, meet the orphans for the first time, and after the five stare at them for several seconds they start to grow large smiles that are as wide as their faces, while their eyes slightly close up).  Oh yeah, truly, I'm endeared by that.  >~<  *shudders*  God, this movie is bad!

And if you think it ends there, it doesn't, for now I'm going to cover the voice acting.  And a lot of it is so unconvincing that it's hard to get yourself invested in it because of that.  Ray, Judy's husband, sounds so monotone and lifeless in the two scenes that he's in that you can't help but wonder if there could've been any effort put in there.  I also liken Ray's voice role to cardboard acting, in the way it sounds unconvincing and emotionless.  Dammit, people, I thought everyone finally got past this cardboard acting crap!  Stop that!  There is no flow and rhythm throughout the actors' roles, especially the ones that we're supposed to hate or root for.  Miss Mavilda is over the top, and as I said before there is a voice clip that is almost close to overlapping another, and when she fires Judy her voice screeches almost as if she's shouting at the top of her lungs, "You're FIRED!!!!!"  Considering the overall voice acting quality, it can be startling.  But the worst part is the children, and I don't want to poke fun of child actors, I don't, but the truth is that they're not good.  The children (save for one) are voiced by actual children, but whenever they speak it sounds like they didn't go through any vocal training whatsoever.  Another thought that comes to mind is how they got past tryouts (if they even did that).  Let me state one example of failed voice acting.

So, Pappy and Lilly are searching for the North Pole to make a wish to Santa to prevent Miss Mavilda from cutting down the tree, as they're being transported by Licorish, the dog.  They reach the North Pole (which makes me wonder what continent this movie takes place in), but they run into trouble as a cheaply drawn and animated bear chases after them.  Lilly falls down a cliff and hangs on to the snow, asking that her brother help her; even though she's hanging on for her life she doesn't express emotion as she says it.  She falls down, "crying out" her brother's name, again with little emotion.  Afterwards, Pappy searches for her sister as he calls her name as if he were bored, "Lilly".  C'mon, even some of the worst of child actors at least put some effort into their performances... well, except that obnoxious kid during the middle of Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger.  He grated on my nerves.
 
This movie is just so awkward in more ways than one, I can't believe it's real.  There is a scene where it constantly cuts to and from Judy telling the orphans about Christmas and Miss Mavilda playing her latest game of poker; you barely have time to process it.  The orphanage being run by a cruel person is such a cliché, and there are times when some scenes play that do not have one exposition shot to make it polished.  For example, when the mayor asks Miss Mavilda where Judy is, the next scene instantly has her there.  Out of nowhere!  And then near the end Pappy tells her that he saw Lilly fall down a cliff, and then she turns around and instantaneously sees her husband nearby.  Your guess is as good as mine as to how he materialized all of a sudden onto the scene.  Miss Mavilda is intent on cutting down Mrs. Hopewell with the saw herself once she sees that her henchman won't do it, and she is so determined to do it that nothing will get in her way.  {=|  Just as she is about to cut her down, she's struck down by lightning.  ...  I am not even freaking kidding; she's zapped by lightning... which came from Santa.............. um, Happy Holidays?
 
Oh, but here's the kicker: Miss Mavilda survives the blast, and she's reinstated as Judy's assistant (the latter of which will now run the orphanage).  After all the terrible stuff that she did, she's still getting off scot-free?  There is no consequence whatsoever!  Oh, my God, tell this isn't real!  Oh, now for the "moral"!  Are you ready for this, readers?  Brace yourselves now!  Okay: "You always win when you're good!"  =/  What?  What??  What does winning because you're good have anything to do with Christmas?  What... being consumed lots of shrooms to even bring up something that is so irrelevant and overgeneralized?  ...  What the hell, movie???  The Christmas Tree knows nothing about being a decent holiday special, so they had to throw in something that had nothing to do with anything!  Holy crap, this movie was awful.
 
Okay, so what does that make The Christmas Tree, then?  You could say that the people involved had the hearts in the right place and had good intentions, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from the lack of effort seen here.  I think it's a testament as to how not to make a Christmas movie, to say the least.  As the Critic stated in his review, "even the worst of Christmas specials at least try to put in some effort in making something dedicated to that special day [Christmas], feeling that they owe it to themselves to create something for a beautiful time of year".  This special did not succeed at that.  So, yeah, it's bad: with bad acting, bad animation, and bad story.  And while it is a bad movie, I can't say that I hated it.  Sure, it did pretty much everything wrong, and that in a weird sort of way made it enjoyably bad.  As I said earlier, I heard that it's sometimes lauded as a "so bad it's good" kind of movie, and for the most part it is; well, except the moral.  That was halfhearted at most.
 
Do I recommend it?  Well, that is something that depends on your mood.  It's not a movie you watch for high quality, but if you're really curious to see how bad it is, go right ahead.  I should warn you that if you are going to watch it, then do so with discretion, because the amount of bad you'll find is exponential.  I saw some comments online that say that they stopped during the middle of the movie and that they could not take it anymore, which should say a lot about the movie's overall shoddy quality; and while I can't say I stopped watching the movie (I kept on going until the end), I will concede there were moments when I thought "Oh, my God, this is so stupid, I can't believe it's real!"  If you're a bad movie enthusiast, The Christmas Tree is a movie you might get into; but if you're not into bad movies, then don't even watch it.  It's bad, horrendously bad; and by sitting through the movie you would be having to put up with all the awkward moments (and there are plenty).  If you're looking for a good Christmas movie, then I advise that you look elsewhere.  ={  It's not the worst animated special I've seen, but as far as Christmas is concerned, it's really bad.  You've been warned.
 
0.5/5
( >'.')>TO EACH THEIR OWN<('.'< )
The Christmas Tree is the property of Flamarion Ferreira Films
Screengrab from watching the movie on YouTube via WaffleIronArchives' video
Thank you for reading my review, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.  Take care.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Yoshi (NES) Review

Written: January 15th-16th, 2014
 
Before the review starts, a few words must be expressed over the events that happened in the year up to now:
Welcome to 2014, everybody!  =)  Lots of things happened since the start of the year, including some reeeeeally weird events.  o_0  During the month The Legend of Hercules by Renny Harlin came out to incredibly negative reviews (as we speak, 5% low) which makes it the year's poorly received movie yet; I almost want to watch it just to see how bad it is (some say it's so bad it's good).  We got a completely shocking revelation of a classic SNES game released twenty years ago being reprinted once more in a more accessible SNES cart format (since the previous issue was half a cart), and you'll never believe which one it is.
Screengrab from Nintendo Life
Yep, that very game!  I don't know what's weirder: the fact that this Christian-theme Wolfenstein 3D knock-off has come back to haunt us all, or the fact that Wisdom Tree's Super Noah's Ark 3D exists.  I suspect the reissue must have something to do with that Noah movie with Russell Crowe that's coming out this year.  I mean, really, this cannot be coincidence.  *ponders*  And recently I just saw the Cinema Snob review a very weird '70s live-action musical--how the hell do you make a Beatles movie without the Beatles in it???  That just goes against all logic and reason!  ?_?
 
On the bright side good things have occurred as well.  Alfonso Cuarón won the Golden Globe for Best Director for Gravity (and deservingly so, that movie was incredible!), and Chicago P.D., the spin-off to the solidly good in my opinion Chicago Fire, has debuted and made a very good impression so far.  Nostalgia Critic started Nicholas Cage month with a funny review of an over-the-top movie, Linkara finally concluded the mindfudge nightmare comic series that is Marville, and I got Rayman Legends for the Nintendo Wii U during the Epiphany.  I finally talked about the Wander Over Yonder episode "The Pet"... three months after it came out (I can be such a procrastinator sometimes).  =(
And I saw the most recent episode of that show, "The Ball", which I thought was very good.  And by far it has got to have the most adorable animated (space) dog I think I'll ever see in a long time; but that's for another time.  ^O^  Unfortunately, I also got to see a poor excuse of a YouTube video with Alex Kidd and Link in it that lasted a minute long, and let me tell you it was not amusing one bit!  >=(  The creator of that video had better owe several thousand viewers a big apology for that unpleasant misfire!  ...  Well anyway, enough progress tracking for now, I know why you all came here: to read my first ever 2014 video game review!  =D  Let's go back to the beginning.
 
Time for a little backstory:
In the beginning of the '90s a little game was released for the Super Nintendo called Super Mario World, or as the Japanese revered it as for the Super Famicom: Super Mario Bros. 4.  It was a huge hit, being one of the first ever Nintendo 16-bit games ever made, and it helped pioneer sidescrolling platformers that were yet to come and made an impact on both the Mario series and gamers in general.  It's a fun game with really good play control, pleasant visuals, and lots of areas to explore (with ninety-six exits to discover) which helped with its replay value even though it's an easy game overall.  There's no contesting that it's a great game, it is, and many people will agree.  But greatest Mario game ever?  Ehhhh, that's highly debatable.  If we're talking 2D Mario then I would be onboard with that, let me tell you; but if we were discussing which Mario was the best overall, my vote would go for the Nintendo Wii's magnum opus Super Mario Galaxy.
 
Super Mario World did introduce new elements that would pop up from time to time in the series: the Wigglers and Reznors made their first appearance, Princess Toadstool permanently dyed her hair blonde after being a brunette for the past few games, the Goombas literally became rotten apples for the first and only time (seriously, Nintendo could not have shaped them properly?), the reserve box came in handy and would do the same in some of the future titles (particularly the recent Super Mario 3D World), and also
we were given Yoshi, Mario's faithful friend and steed!  =)  Yoshi is a charming green dino-like creature that has enthralled and captured the hearts of millions since 1990, and he would make reapparances in the Mario universe from time to time helping him, including Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2.  He would even star in his own games as well as appear in many spin-off games, but before all that something interesting happened.
 
Alternate Names: Mario & Yoshi [|O|] / Yoshi's Egg [|O|]
Year: 1991, 1992 | Developed by: Game Freak | Published by: Nintendo
 
Not a year had passed since Super Mario World debuted that already they were taking into consideration making a game with Yoshi in it.  But that's not the strange part, for instead of making it for the SNES Game Freak (of Pokémon fame) decided to make it for the NES (and Game Boy).  Talk about backtracking!  But on the bright side, the NES had two more years to live so at least people got to play it.  But that's not the weird part; they decided to make it a falling piece puzzler in the vein of Tetris (which will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary this year), only with a much different formula.  And as if all that wasn't crazy enough, upon release Yoshi (Mario & Yoshi in Europe and Yoshi's Egg in Japan) was a critical bomb=O  Damn!  What the hell happened?  How do you go from positively received platformer to negatively received puzzler in the span of two years?  And what's sad about it is that it's the second game that Yoshi appeared in, so it's enough to make you feel bad for the guy.  Well, nothing to do now but delve in and discover the answer.
So as I said before it's a puzzler in a similar vein to Tetris, which means options!!!  =)  As is par for the course in puzzlers like these you get to choose which game type to play (two in this case, I'll get what they are shortly), the option to skip up to level five (wouldn't it be logical to start from the beginning?  What is it with games that dare you to cut corners?  It's very unbecoming!), adjust the speed to make it fast or slow, and even change the background music (if you want any).  I don't know about you, but I'm quite disturbed by the notion of people actually wanting to play video games without music in them!  =|  Why leave the choice on there when music is part of what makes the game what it is???  And once you make the choice it's time to start.
 
Puzzling, few pieces at a time
You take control of Mario as... wait, wait, wait!  I thought this game was called Yoshi?  Why is Mario the controllable character?  ...  Anyway, you take control of the portly plumber (or his brother Luigi if you get a second player) as he's positioned under four rotating tables.  He can only stand under two, so there'll be lots of moving around to be done, and from time to you'll even be rotating said tables.  Each turn will have a couple (or more) enemies go down at a time, and the only way to make combos is if one enemy is on top of the enemy of its equal.  You'll be moving and rotating as Goombas, Boos, Bloopers, and Piranha Plants are coming down.  From time to time there will be top and bottom egg pieces, and if you can manage to sandwich as many enemies inside one egg you'll earn lots of points (and hatch a little Yoshi).  If you don't want the pieces to take the time, you can force them down by holding the Down button (it's up to you).
 
Pop go the enemies!
So let's talk about the game modes, shall we?  In Game A you begin with an empty field until enemies begin popping up left and right.  There is no end to speak of so there's no telling when you reach the next level, which will happen without warning.  In Game B each game begins with a row of enemies at the bottom, and the only way to reach the next level will be if you've cleared the whole area (which will take either a short time or a long time depending on how you do), and with each level you start off with an additional row of enemies to make it a little more challenging.  For example if you're in Level 5 you'll start off with five rows of enemies in the field, and depending on the speed it'll get more challenging along the way.
 
With a colorful cast of enemies, how can
you can wrong?
Visuals aren't the main hightlight when it comes to puzzlers, and Yoshi is no exception to this rule, but I figured I may as well discuss them anyway.  They're good for NES standards, though obviously not as great, colorful, and detailed as Super Mario World before it.  Mario's animation as he turns is decent, Yoshi looks good (even though he's just standing by the side), and the four enemies were rendered nicely (and their two-frame animations are decent).  Give Game Freak some credit, at least Goomba looks more accurate here than he did in Nintendo's aforementioned platformer.  The backgrounds aren't all that interesting, as they're just black and green (or pink) checkered patterns surrounding blue spaces.  I do like how the font is the same as it was in Super Mario World, the three BGM symbols look good in 8-bit format (again, lifted from said game), Yoshi looks really good in the title screen, and what's cool is that any time you finish a level in Game B you'll see a small cutscene of Mario riding Yoshi until they stumble across an item (at first they're in the distance with sprite-work similar to, once more, Super Mario World, and then once they get offscreen they reemerge in the foreground bigger and more detailed).  As a whole the visuals are serviceable but good to a point.
 
Things will heat up on fast speed
Music in the game is pretty harmless, though not exactly noteworthy (though a lot of it will be stuck in your head, so bear that in mind when playing this game).  The title music is not bad, and the sound effects are relatively decent.  The select BGMs vary in terms of tone and speed, but none of them are bad.  I suppose to be fair that the only reason for the "no BGM" option would be if the music is repetitive, and while I wouldn't say it is, it definitely comes close here.  The Mushroom theme is playful, the Flower theme is a little deep and somber, while the Star theme is exciting and bombastic.  It's a shame that none of the past Mario themes could've sneaked on here, 'cause I feel it would've matched the visual aesthetics here as well.  =(
 
Congratulations, it's a Yoshi!  =)
Yoshi is by all accounts a simple puzzler, and like all simple puzzlers the difficulty gradually ramps up the longer you survive.  Game A lasts far longer than Game B, and is the easiest of the two, but even then it'll get a little harder later on.  At the top you'll get a preview of the next few pieces that will slide down, and while it's mostly two pieces that come down at a time, it won't take long 'til the moment comes when three start coming down at once.  You must be vigilant, especially when it comes to pairing the pieces; if you fumble they'll overlap each other, which is no problem if you can get a matching piece to get on top of that one.  Game B is where things get very interesting, for each level starts with an additional row of enemies each, complicating your playing field and making the experience a little difficult along the way.  Focusing is one of the keys to survival, and you may need it if you wish to get farther.
 
Holy shit!  =O
So why did Yoshi bomb, then?  I mean, it doesn't seem like there's anything all that terrible about it and it's rather harmless and simple.  But I think that may have been linked to many a person's problem with this game: there just wasn't enough to go for it.  The fact that there weren't many ways to earn combos might also attribute to that, and some I gather found it to be rather repetitive along the way.  And okay, to be fair it can get a tiny bit repetitive, but I didn't really dislike it because of that.  I thought the simplicity of it was charming and it can be fun to play once in awhile.  Mind you, it's no masterpiece by any means, but as falling piece puzzlers go this one wasn't that bad in my book.  I'll concede that there could've been more options to increase the replay value, but aside from that it's good to a point.  It's just too bad that Yoshi himself didn't really do much of anything throughout the game (outside of the cutscenes), and he was the main draw to his own game!
 
Congratulations, you're prize is a cute,
smiling flower
Honestly, despite its grave shortcomings, I found it to be so much better than Not Kirby's Avalanche in more ways than one.  For starters, Yoshi wasn't an out of character smart-mouthed wiseass towards his enemies (and the best part is that Yoshi doesn't talk here at all, thank God).  Second of all, I didn't mind the simplicity, and it genuinely felt like a Yoshi game (and there's a reason for that: this is intended to be a Yoshi game as opposed to a drastic facelift of a different one).  And lastly, I thought the difficulty in this game was fairly balanced and as a result felt more fair because of that, instead of having the difficulty being all over the place making for an unbalanced game like that one aforementioned puzzler (making for a "luck over skill" game, and I hate that).  Again, it's not great like Columns, Bust-A-Move 2, or Kirby's Star Stacker, but by itself Yoshi is fairly decent at best.  If you're curious to see Yoshi's first game with his name on it, I think you should check it out.  If you're expecting something big, you won't get that here; but if you're looking for non-demanding simplicity, then this game will be right up your alley.  I can't guarantee whether you'll like it or not, but it is worth playing at least once.  Make of it what you will.
It's funny that I talk about Yoshi, since 2014 is his big year with a couple games on the way.  =)  Like a lot of people I consider his platformer Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island to be the green dino's greatest achievement, and his subsequent platformers were great too.  Uhhh,
kinda.....
................... sorta........................
.......not really!
I like the original Yoshi's Island a lot, I really do, but I feel that out of all the games Yoshi's personally starred in, that one was the only one that really reached greatness.  And the following games that came out simply fell short of that.  Who knows?  Maybe Arzest will finally turn that around when Yoshi's New Island comes out for the 3DS, and if they don't deliver, then I have the full utmost confidence that Good-Feel will not let us down once they unleash the spiritual yarnified follow-up to Kirby's Epic Yarn, Yarn Yoshi on the Nintendo Wii U.  We'll see what the future brings.  I mean, c'mon guys, we're pushing nineteen years here; I've been dying to play another great Yoshi platformer for a long time, and I hope that at least one of them will finally be it!  I seriously cannot wait!  =)
 
6.0/10
P.S. I first played this game when I was little on my cousins' classic Game Boy, and remember thinking that it was good.  I downloaded Yoshi on the Nintendo Wii U eShop to catch up with it, and I'm glad I did.  In speaking of the Nintendo Wii U, what I find fascinating is that there is a letterbox aspect ratio when playing the classic games on the Wii U.  It's so weird to play a classic game on my TV screen (outside of a compilation) that maintains the game's aspect ratio and leaves the borders.  I had to stretch the screenshots a little to make it look right here.
 
P.S. 2: Images of Yoshi's Story, Yoshi's Universal Gravitation, and Yoshi's Island DS all from Wikipedia.
 
P.S. 3: In speaking of Yoshi, I said in my Yoshi Touch & Go review that Nintendo was going to make Yoshi's New Island, not Artoon.  I was wrong; Arzest is making the game, not Nintendo, and to make things a little more ironic, some of the people who used to be at Artoon are now at Arzest.  =(  I really hope the 3DS entry turns out to be good.  Also, Jurassic World (no longer is it Jurassic Park IV) will come out in 2015.  Urrrrgh!  Why do we have to wait longer?!?
 
P.S. 4: The next spin-off game with Yoshi's name on it would be Yoshi's Cookie by Bullet Proof Software.  Time to search for a copy of it!
 
P.S. 5: Wander Over Yonder is the property of Disney; screengrabs from having watched the episode on the Wander Over Yonder News Tumblr.
 
P.S. 6:

I swear, that puppy is so adorable!!!  I'm still convinced that it's the cutest puppy ever seen in an animated media!  ^o^  Buster's much more charming and likable than that creepy CG-lipped dog from that live action dog of a show Dog with a Blog with a charmlessly contrived dog character voiced by a dog of an actor running a dog-themed blog, reeks of dog breath, and gives dogs a bad name; dog-gone it all!  >=(
........ He worded it that way on purpose, you know.
 
( >'.')>TO EACH THEIR OWN<('.'< )
Thank you for reading my review, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!  Take Care!  =)


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wander Over Yonder Blogs - "The Pet"

Watched: October 4th, 2013 / Written: January 7th-10th, 2014
Hi!  Happy New Year!  Here is an episode that Wander Over Yonder fans (or readers of my blog) have probably been waiting awhile to hear my full thoughts about.  And, it's not my fault; at least, not entirely.  Since this was the first full episode at twenty-two minutes, I got a little overboard with screenshots, and I wanted to talk about shortly after it debuted, I really did.  But lots of things happened: sometimes I try to overreach when it come to certain game reviews or certain screenshots, and as a result it can hinder my progress.  Another reason is that I'm such a big procrastinator when it comes to my blog sometimes, which is unfortunate because I like to talk about these things but I want to word them properly and as best as I could express.  I didn't find an opportunity to make a rough draft, which I should have, so these words are just all popping from my head right now.  This is the first of many belated Wander Over Yonder Blogs from yours truly.  I deeply apologize.  =(
Episode VI (104):
*eerie music in the background*
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Another thing that drove me back was that I wanted to watch the movie this was based on, Aliens, but I didn't get a chance to do it.  Fascinatingly, this episode came out on the same day that I saw Gravity, perhaps the single best 3D movie I've seen (and I love that movie to death, seen it twice now).  I might talk about my thoughts on that movie too, but I'm trailing off (as I sometimes do).  This is the first full Wander Over Yonder episode "The Pet", and it is a really great episode, one of my favorites.  The first few minutes are absolutely spot-on.
One of the many things I enjoy about the show so much is how its episodes waste absolutely no time getting to the plot that the title implies.  None of that transportation sequence bullcrap, they're there!  Wander and Sylvia, traveling space via Orrble Juice (which will be called that a few episodes from this one), come across a derelict broken down ship.  Wander wants to go inside to check to see if there's anyone out there that needs help, but Sylvia is reluctant and scared but being the strong type she doesn't show it.  And let me tell you right now: for an otherwise lighthearted animated show, the first few minutes (all cleverly building up to the debut of the creature they'll find) feel really intense and really suspenseful.  =O  There's debris everywhere, there's acid dripping all around, bones abound, and everything is rundown.  I mean, holy crap, dude!  There are a few lighthearted moments, but until the reveal (which occurs five minutes in) it just doesn't let up.
 
I especially like this sequence since it starts off with the duo silently walking down a corridor with many different points of view (creating a feeling of eerie suspense).  Wander announces that the "rescue part-ay is here!  Whoo!  Whoo!", Sylvia tells Wander to stick close, but he stops as he sees drops of acid circling around him (yeah, I hate to say it but it's not the brightest thing to be doing at this point) which will eventually melt and create a hole, and Sylvia finds herself in an abandoned room where she sees the final captain's vlog of the late captain.  Just as he's about to instruct "the person that finds this video message" what to do, something attacks him in the blink of an eye before the monitor abruptly turns to static (not getting a clear shot at what it was).  Yep, he's dead (as is revealed when Wander finds Captain Tim's dogtags lodged inside the spider-lip creature's mouth)!  You know, for kids!  =D  I know it seems cruel to say that, but I like it when shows like these take risks... risks in good taste, mind you.  Not like that... animated show about freaky high school fish, but to each their own.  =|
Sylvia rushes to where she left Wander at, but he's fallen through lots of floors (without screaming), so he goes around to look for her best friend.  Wander, on the hand, is not at all phased about having fallen through countless floors (and good thing too, since he's a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine), minding his own business as he searches for those that might need help.  As this is going on, there is a feeling of tension as he goes through a dark room briefly lit up revealing bones, the sound of a stirring creature that is after him, and looming sense of danger.  It's at this point that Wander realizes that Sylvia's right and that they should leave, but before he can go anywhere he turns around as a mysterious creature is creeping up before him.  And once that happens, the lip-spider creature menacingly roars and screeches with drool protruding from its mouth until it cuts to commercial.  The first time it aired there was no commercial break, but it was definitely a sign for it, and what clever way to do that!  =)  And that was the first five minutes!
 
As soon as it leaps towards Wander, they roll backwards until Wander's on his feet and grabs the creature, treating it as a pet.  Actually that part's not 'til later, but he finds the spider (furthermore called Captain Tim since Wander found the dogtags with his name; c'mon, you can't be mad at the guy) to be so cute and decides to take care of it.  And as a result, there are moments that range from funny to cute to genuinely terrifying (more on that later), so it works... it's very creepy but it works.  So the two spend time together; Wander, because he feels that Captain Tim needs help, and Captain Tim because he wants to make Wander his lunch (if you know what I mean).  As this is going on Sylvia finds lots of artillery and decides to bring it all with her.  Basically, Sylvia goes full Ripley mode in this episode, which kicks ass by the way!
XD  This is so over-the-top, I love it!
Let me rephrase that.  Sylvia once gets attacked by Captain Tim early on, but she finds a blaster to scare him off, so she starts finding more blasters and heavy firepower in order to be prepared to take him on.  And here's the thing: Wander thinks Captain Tim is cute, while Sylvia considers him a threat, which leads to very fascinating conflict.  She finds even more blasters once they encounter each other again, after she's been "cocooned" up to the ceiling (while Wander was playing "Hide and Seek" with him).  Captain Tim finds Wander, he discovers the dogtags, so he decides to take care of him as a pet, but Captain Tim doesn't want any of that and tries to run off as Wander's holding on to him by leash.  They both end up at a kitchen, so kindhearted and amiable Wander decides to feed the spider creature beans (to which it tries to resist).  Once that happens, Captain Tim crawls slowly and feels overpowered, to which Wander believes he's feeling tired.  So he pulls out from his hat something that the spider may need (or Wander thinks he needs), resulting in perhaps the cutest moment of the episode:
"Look who came to visit you: it's Sleepy Weepy Beddy Bear!  'I love you, Captain Tim!  I, love, you!'"
How can you not love moments like these?  It's the most adorable thing ever!  And look at those eyes, that cute accent he talks through a stuffed animal, it is just cute!  I always get a kick out of how characters can interact to someone through a stuffed animal, just like Goofy did to his son Max with Old Stuffed Bear in the "A Very Goofy Christmas" segment of Mickey's Once Upon a ChristmasXD  Captain Tim, not wanting to take any of that nonsense, unleashes its rage on the bear as he rips up its stomach, spits acid on there (O_O), wraps it in a cocoon, and attaches it to the ceiling.  I know it's an animated show, and on one hand its cute; but on the other hand, it's pretty damn horrific if you view it in a certain way.  But Wander, being the charming alien that's oblivious to most dangers around him, is not phased at all which makes it funny, in a weird sort of way.
 
Oh, but the darkness does not end there, as the moment Wander goes after Captain Tim to try to give a "love bite" after the spider almost "does" to him, Sylvia emerges from the nearby tube as she was searching for her Star Nomad friend.  But once she looks up she sees the cocoon, and once she opens it up she finds nothing but fur (which is the same color as Wander), which leads into the most dramatic scene in "The Pet": Sylvia thinks Wander is dead.  It's a really sad moment (this is not played for laughs, people, this is serious emotion-wrenching stuff), for it just devastates her, and it overwhelms her so much.  This shows how much she cares for Wander, and knowing that Wander is alive to see her like this is really sad, a bit emotional even.  So what does she do?  The fighting Zbornak exacts vengeance by planning to detonate the ship's self-destruction sequence in order to blow Captain Tim up for having killed her friend.  There are a few minutes remaining, so Sylvia finds an escape pod and takes it, still feeling sad about the loss of her friend.  But little does she know that Wander is still alive and on that ship (which will still be afloat for less than three minutes)... and this was just the first half of the episode, folks!  First half!  =O  I mean, wow!  The rest I'll leave up to you to see.
The plot is very good, I like the premise behind it and how it all transpires and unfolds so cleverly.  =)  The animation, as usual, is beautiful and I loved the little details here and there, especially with the lighting and shading in certain portions of the episode.  Good usage of perspective too!  Wander's great, always optimistic and always upbeat despite the dire surroundings, which is really endearing and uplifting.  Sylvia kicks ass in this episode, particularly when she's in the mecha suit (yes, they actually went there, and if you've seen the movie you'll know exactly where that leads)!  =D  The first few minutes are legitimately tension-filled, the comedic moments are funny (such as the scene where Captain Tim is chasing Wander around a broken glassy pillar and the voice of the self destruct mechanism), the homage to Aliens is well done, and the emotional moments are genuinely emotional.  There are two in this episode, and the second one takes place during the second half of the episode where there is this sweet, tender Randy Newman-like song playing in the background.  And the lyrics are so touching, as are the notes that are used for it; it's poignantly deep, man.  =)  What's nice about this show is that it can share scenes and/or moments with emotional depth so genuinely and not forget that it's a comedy first and foremost, and when it comes to any of these moments they really count.  I'm glad there is a sense of balance in these episodes, which really work for me.  "The Pet" is pretty dark in certain moments, but it ends on a happy note for everyone.  =)
"Get away from him, you--"
The chemistry between Sylvia and Wander is effective, and this episode really shows how much she cares for her best friend.  The colors were chosen succinctly for each scene and the decrepit setting lends a ton of atmosphere.  Captain Tim is great (obviously he's not staying with Wander), and his scenes with Wander were cute and funny.  I had a fanboy moment when it came to the mecha suit scene, and the line too (it was censored, but I didn't mind so much as the delivery could not have been timed any better).  I mention how clever this episode is at times, and no truer is that said than the animatic for "The Pet" during the credits.  It is so ingenious that I cannot stand it!  I don't wish to spoil the exact details, but it does such a good job at lulling you in a false sense of security that in the last five seconds it executes a jump scare, scaring the everliving crap out of the lulled viewer!  The first time I was distracted to notice, but the next few times I took notice and it gets me every time (just like the Ben Gardner head scene from Jaws and that one jump scare moment in Gravity).  Oooh, so clever!  Well done, Craig and team, you've successfully crafted a genuine jump scare, and for a lighthearted animated show no less!  I salute you!  =)  So yeah, I liked "The Pet" a lot, and I highly recommend it; but do not introduce newcomers to this episode (start with "The Greatest" (101a) and then go from there).  Next episode is "The Prisoner" (103b), which I liked a lot too, and hopefully I'll talk about it soon!  Until then, Wander Over Yonder fans, take care!  I am not even halfway done with these WOY Blogs yet!  D=
( >'.')>TO EACH THEIR OWN<('.'< )
Wander Over Yonder is the property of Craig McCracken, Disney
Screengrabs taken from the Wander Over Yonder News tumblr
Thank you for reading this, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!