Saturday, April 18, 2015

StarBoy91's March 2015 Mini-Reviews 2/2

Written: April 13th-18th, 2015
 
PART II
King Kong 1933 (iTunes)
1933 RKO Radio Pictures / Turner Entertainment
[Image from Wikipedia]
There is nothing I can say that hasn't been said before pertaining to this movie.  The fact that it's been around for over eighty years is incredible, and while many of its effects have aged a lot by today's standards, at the time it came out it was considered a groundbreaking achievement (especially the blue screen and animatronics),... though I could've done without the (unintentional) rape face Kong makes during certain moments we cut to his mug.
 
And while the acting might be over-the-top for today's standards (Fay Wray's screams, anyone?), that's oddly enough part of its charm.  The story is engaging, and the classic King Kong is a good watch once in awhile filled with (unintentional) hilarity.  Luckily it was successful enough to spawn a franchise, including sequels and reboots, most notably the 1976 and 2005 ones (the former of which I didn't think was that bad, and the latter which I actually genuinely like).  =)
My Personal Score: 4/5
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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Nintendo Wii U)
2015 HAL Laboratory (Developer) / Nintendo (Publisher)
[Image from Wikipedia]
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
Still trying to reach 100%, but aside from that thoughts are still the same since February=)  Go Clay Kirby!!
My (Tentative) Personal Score: 9.0/10
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National Treasure (DVD)
2004 Buena Vista Pictures
[Image from Wikipedia]
National Treasure is a movie I remember enjoying and admiring a lot back when it came out in theatres, and ten-plus years later I still feel the same way, more or less.  =)
 
Yes, the premise of there being a secret treasure buried by the Founding Fathers is a bit farfetched and silly, but somehow Jon Turteltaub and Jerry Bruckheimer's collaborated effort managed to make it work.  A lot of that is attributed to Nicolas Cage, who is perfect for the role of Ben Gates, mixing in the perfect blend of knowledgeable with quirkiness and perseverance so well.

What I also like is how the characters discuss and try to decode clues that lead to the treasure, which are the best part; and the chemistry between Cage and Diane Kruger is good and appealing, which makes the fact that they broke up (offscreen) in the first half of National Treasure: Book of Secrets a tragedy.  I like the journey the characters take to get to the treasure, and despite being rated PG it surprisingly doesn't feel like a Disney film.  It's also one of the few films where Sean Bean has appeared and didn't die (aside from Troy and one of the recent movies he's been in).

What's great about this movie is that, while a lot of things are fictional in what is otherwise pertaining to history, the way it's setup is enough to make people dream of history and finding lost treasure and treading unknown territory.  =)  It is a fun and engaging movie, and I do think it's a bit underrated; though I do understand some of the negative feedback it's gotten.

I haven't seen Book of Secrets in its entirety since its theatrical run in 2007 and I can only remember bits and pieces of it, but from what I gather it's pretty much the Home Alone 2 of the series... let's hope that when (if) the third movie comes out it doesn't share the same trappings.
My Personal Score: 4/5
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Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday (SNES)
1995 Phoenix Interactive Entertainment (Developer)
Sunsoft/Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Publishers) / Acclaim (Distributor)
Maybe incomplete and far too easy especially on the hardest difficulty setting, the one and only Looney Tunes licensed game with Porky Pig in the lead role is an enjoyable game to play regardless, if only along the lines of guilty pleasure.  =)

The surreal dreamlike atmosphere makes Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday unique among the Looney Tunes games, and what lends it replay value despite what I've stated at the top is the random weather generator; this is a game that I'll be happy to play again and again as any time the game is turned on each stage has got cosmetic changes--in some stages it will either rain or be enshrouded in fog with different foreground objects, and some of the interior areas will slightly look different each time.  It's also a fantastic-looking game with beautiful animations portrayed by each character, though the bulk of the Alps stage has got a putrid brown color scheme.

Yes, it could've benefited itself with bosses that actually challenged you (or actual challenge period) and background music that generally wasn't crap, but at least it plays good.  Makes me wish Porky starred in more platformers. as opposed to just one.  =(
My Personal Score: 6.5/10
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Punky Skunk (PlayStation One)
1996 Ukiyotei (Developer), 1998 Jaleco (Publisher)
Yes, that is its actual (American) name; and understandably, I can see how the prospect of taking control of a skunk in a video game does not sound like a flattering idea.  But, upon playing it after finding out about *sigh* Punky Skunk on a whim, it's actually not that bad.  =)
 
Yeah, the skunk's normal attack is exactly what you think it is (which doesn't exactly help its case), but the best part is how in each stage you can alternate between normal and special mode that help you progress further, such as the rollerblades and the paraglider (with differently-colored jumpsuits no less), in a similar fashion to Maui Mallard making for intuitively good gameplay.  What's refreshing about this PlayStation One title is that it is vintage 2D, with visuals so beautiful and animations so fluid to look at that they could almost belong to a Nintendo 16-bit title.
 
But, as was the case with past Ukiyotei-developed titles Hook and Skyblazer it is easy for its own good (with "hand-holding" advice preceding most boss battles), but there is replay value if you wanted a chance to get extra health power-ups by locating hidden bonus games, plus you can backtrack any time you wish.  After having beaten the game the first time I was surprised to find out how poorly it was received upon release; and I read that the biggest cause for that was the way Jaleco advertised the American version as being extreme when it really wasn't.
 
But aside from people being let down by built-up hype towards what it wasn't, I don't honestly see why many hate this game as it's neither terrible or unplayable, even.  =(  Could it have benefited itself with lots of challenge and slightly less dialogue?  Yeah, but in the end I liked it and that's all that matters.  As a side note, I couldn't help but wonder if Cooly/Punky Skunk was a girl or not because of how breast-like the top of the jumpsuit was, and the in-game sprite of said character looked a little similar to the in-game sprite of Mr. Nutz from his game--must be the white striped tail.
My Personal Score: 7.0/10
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Secret of Evermore (SNES)
1995 SquareSoft
Thoughts have slightly improved upon playing it some more since February, but I'm far from beating it at the moment.  I did, however, complete the Queen Bluegarden segment and stumbled upon a clever Cecil cameo from Final Fantasy IV in the process.  =)  Jeremy Soule's music is still outstanding, and it's so easy to lose myself looking at these surreal environments.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Super Shadow of the Beast (SNES - ROM)
1992 Psygnosis (Would've Been Publisher)
Nothing further from what I talked about for my February Mini-Reviews.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Tetris & Dr. Mario (SNES)
1994 Nintendo
[Image from MobyGames]
Thoughts are still the same I as those I expressed back in February... and yet I still need to play more of it to form a proper opinion on it.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Thor (Blu-Ray)
2011 Paramount
[Image from Rotten Tomatoes]
When I saw that the next character to get a live action treatment would be Thor, I thought it was a great idea since I liked the animated versions of the Thunderer (even ones from the '90s Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk shows, even if it was one episode), and when I saw Kenneth Branagh's live action take on big screen in 2011 I was blown away.  =)  Years later, while I still like it, it's not quite as good as I once thought.
 
Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder was perfect casting, and as far as coming of age stories go he did a good job of conveying that feel; Anthony Hopkins as King Odin, as odd as it seemed before, really works; and Tom Hiddleston is decent as the trickster Loki (though he does improve with each movie he's in), and for the first time this character was made sympathetic despite his wrongdoing.  And the journey Thor takes to learn humility and become worthy of wielding Mjölnir is fun, and the movie looks really fantastic (especially in Asgard with the gold-layered walls and the rainbow bridge).
 
But where it falters is not Natalie Portman's casting as Jane Foster, for she's pretty solid in the role; it's not the fact that Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye was given very little screen time (though that is too bad); it's not the fact that it's not two hours long.  Rather, what gets to me is how many damn Dutch angles there are in Thor!  I mean, my God, even scenes where we're not supposed to feel intimidated have them!  The battle in Yodenheim was dark and hard to see, the Destroyer has got earshatteringly loud noises whenever they fire (when played in surround sound), and the last third... wait, there was a last third?
 
Luckily the good outweighs the bad; Agent Coulson actually had a point in being here than he did in Iron Man 2, the movie is really good to look at, Patrick Doyle's soundtrack is brilliant as always, and it was largely fun and involving.  The good thing is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would get better from here.  =)
My Personal Score: 3.5/5
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Weekenders Volume 1, The, Disc 1 (DVD)
2000 Disney
Screengrabs from my Region 1 DVD of The Weekenders Volume 1, Disc 1
The first quarter of one of the best Disney animated series alongside DuckTales and Wander Over Yonder (better, even), the first disc of the first volume of The Weekenders comprises of the very best episodes of the show in my book.  =)
 
The first episode "Crush Test Dummies" does such an impeccable job at establishing its world of Bahia Bay, California and its eponymous foursome that by the time it ends you know all about these characters, and it's only eleven minutes long.  Some other great episodes in this disc are "Sense and Sensitivity", "Home@Work", "Band", "The New Girl", "Party Planning", "Radio Drama", and "The Tradition".  There are some episodes that later on that match in quality, but the show's still fun regardless.
 
I love this show, as it's one of my favorites of all time, and there are so many reasons linked to why that is.  For starters, I like the main characters Tino, Lor, Carver, and Tish, for despite their different personalities and characteristics they are written with so much depth that they are relatable and feel like people I would know in real life (personally, I think of myself to be a lot like Tino personality- and quirk-wise).  The world of Bahia Bay is also fantastic, and my favorite thing about it is how each weekend the pizza place has a different theme each time (one week it'll be space-themed and the next it'll be courthouse-themed), which is so genuinely funny and interesting that it makes me wonder where the pizza guy finds the budget to cover all that.  XD
 
Something that's rare among the animated media is the fact that the characters actually change clothing with each passing day, which I find awfully refreshing (the only other instance I can think of where that happened is Kim Possible); and while it may have been made at a time when animation wasn't quite as polished as it is today, it is largely very good and articulately fluid in motion.  But my favorite thing about the series is the writing and the humor, which makes it genuinely funny when the moment calls for it (a lot of the banter between the four is funny, and Lor provides the best lines despite not being the brightest in he group).  =)
 
The Weekenders is such a smartly-written show that explores differing issues with a clever energy and perfect pacing, bookending each episode with strong morals: like how it's all right to compete so long as you don't let it go over your head, how days doesn't necessarily have to go as you plan, and how most things are manageable with groups as opposed to being done by yourself.
 
I have considered covering these episodes individually, but I hope the way I covered the first quarter of this show was sufficient enough.
My Personal Score: 5/5
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Weekenders Volume 1, The, Disc 2 (DVD)
2000-2001 Disney
Screengrabs from my Region 1 DVD of The Weekenders Volume 1, Disc 2
So I had to browse Wikipedia for the episode titles because I didn't know all of them offhand (and they're only listed in the in-disc menus) and apparently some of the episodes that should've been included in this disc were instead replaced with ones that should've been in the Volume 2 2-disc DVD set (which would explain some continuity gaps in said Volume).  At least the first disc of The Weekenders Volume 1 had all the episodes in their correct order.  Regardless, it's still a fantastic show.  =)
 
Some of the better episodes here are:
 
"Diary" - Carver, Lor, and Tino are under the impression that Tish is moving away after Carver reads her diary by accident so they try to make this weekend one to remember.
 
"Dixon" - the first full-length episode of the series which marks the debut of Tino's Mom's soon to be boyfriend Dixon, which all four Weekenders like; especially Tino, who wants her to be with him.
 
"To Tish" - one of the first episodes where characters are now fully shaded as opposed to mostly flat where Tish's friends use her name as a way to tease her, which everyone else starts using much to Tish's dismay.
 
"Tickets" - for being the Snack Shack's 1,000,001st customer (seriously) Tino is given two passes to go to the Chum Bukket concert, unfortunately he's put in a predicament where he must choose which one of his friends and which two to leave behind.
 
"My Punky Valentine" - Tino gets a crush on punk girl Tasha, so he tries to get her to notice him; but his friends Lor, Carver, and Tish try veer him off that route by trying to get him to have a crush on someone else, even an unexpected animated cameo from Jennifer Love Hewitt.
 
"Crushin' Roulette" - since her friends all have dates Tish tries to force herself to have a crush on someone so she wouldn't be left out anymore, wanting to date the right person.
 
Every other episode is great, but since 2001 the episodes have had a complete revamp on Funville's exterior design, and the (impressive) for its time 3D shooting game has been rescinded from the series almost entirely.  =(  But that's made up for by what is perhaps the best meta humor ever: "But I do know one thing: we are not a bunch of made up TV characters... OR ARE WE?"  >=D  "Well, later days!"  =)  Hahaha, I love that!  XD
My Personal Score: 4.5/5
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Ys IV: Mask of the Sun (SFC)
1993 Tonkin House (Developer and Publisher) / Nihon Falcom (Licensor)
Of all Adol Christin's adventures on the Nintendo 16-bit console, this one is just the best in my opinion.  =)  The simple shoving controls from the first two Ys games are intuitive as ever and a welcome addition since the third game went in a different direction, and it's a very involving adventure.  It's also nice to see some of the environments and characters from Ys Book I & II once more.
 
I like the sense of atmosphere (like the cave with the icy reflections on the ground and the abandoned ruins) and the mostly rock-based soundtrack is really great, and the bosses are huge and animate greatly, but the only downside is that level-grinding takes awhile to accomplish near the end of the game (try less an hours' time); but at least there's enough challenge to make it satisfying and at least you don't reach the level cap not even halfway through the game (unlike the SNES version of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys).  Ys IV: Mask of the Sun is a bunch of fun to play, and it's a shame this iteration of the fourth chapter was never given its (official) Western due.  =(
 
I still never played either non-canon Ys IV: The Sun of Ys by Hudson Soft or now officially canon fourth Ys chapter by Nihon Falcom themselves Ys: Memories of Celceta, so I can't make any comparison.
My Personal Score: 9.0/10
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<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
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Thank you for reading my March 2015 Mini-Reviews, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  Hope you have a great day, take care!  =D

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