Sunday, June 28, 2020

Review Hub - Scooby-Doo

First airing in 1969, Scooby-Doo has since gone on to become one of Hanna-Barbera's most recognized and popular franchises. While the general formula of four teenagers and their dog solving mysteries remains largely the same, there have also been a number of attempts to shake up this formula, some more successful than others. While our first real exposure to the franchise was the Kids' WB TV series What's New Scooby-Doo? alongside the DTV film Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, what truly began out on-off relationship with the brand was the Cartoon Network series Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. As such, due to the sheer amount of material produced for the franchise, we only decide to watch and/or discuss whatever catches our interest.

Below is a list of links to every Scooby-Doo review on this blog, arranged in release order and categorized accordingly.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Stubs - Heat Lightning

Heat Lightning (1934) Starring: Aline MacMahon, Ann Dvorak, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Screenplay by Brown Holmes, Warren Duff. Based on the play Heat Lightning by Leon Abrams and George Abbott (New York, 15 Sep 1933). No Producer Credited. Runtime: 64 minutes USA Black and White Drama, Pre-Code

Some films are sadly forgotten over time even though they were, in their own time, controversial or milestones. Case in point, Warner Bros.’ Heat Lightning (1934), which was not only banned by the Legion of Decency but was also one of the last studio releases before the Production Code was fully enforced. A lot of times with so-called Pre-Code films its hard to see what made about the film couldn’t have been made during the run of the PCA (Production Code Administration).

Friday, June 26, 2020

Second Look - Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (PS3)

After playing through Transformers: War for Cybertron and its sequel Fall of Cybertron again, I decided to take another look at a third game in the series, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, developed by Edge of Reality rather than High Moon. What made this game stand out, however, was that it was advertised as a crossover between the aforementioned Cybertron games and the live-action film continuity, specifically the then-new Transformers: Age of Extinction. On my initial playthrough my thoughts on the game were a bit mixed, however after a second playthrough and some additional continuity research, I found my impressions a little more negative than they were before.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Second Look - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Note: This review contains spoilers for Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

After taking another look at the storytelling mess that is Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen, I decided it might be worth taking another look at Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in light of how the Bumblebee film’s high quality got me to reevaluate the previous films. Though it was difficult finding the right time to do so due to its length, I managed to find a long-enough period of time after I finished revisiting the video game prequel to the movie. While the film itself is still a vast improvement over the previous film and has some great moments in it, there are some issues with its pacing that prevent it from being more enjoyable than it actually is.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Second Look - Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (PS3)

Following the release of Transformers: War for Cybertron, a sequel was released in 2012 called Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, continuing the story of the previous game. I recall being hyped for this game when it first came out, and upon playing it believed it to have lived up to that hype, though I had decided to replay it following the preceding game to see if my opinion had changed at all after eight years. While I maintain that Fall of Cybertron is one of the best Transformers games that’s been released thus far, I ran into some technical difficulties that I hadn’t seen before, which ended up affecting my experience to a degree.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Second Look - Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PS3)

During my efforts to look back on the Transformers games set in Warfor Cybertron’s continuity to celebrate its 10th anniversary, I decided to also take another look at the video game tie-in to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, one of my favorite Transformers games and arguably one of the better representations of the live-action film continuity. Things got off to a rocky start, however, since the game somehow managed to render itself literally unplayable on the PlayStation 3 I originally played it on. Fortunately, I happened to have another, separate PS3 that our family uses to watch movies, and upon the initial install, the game ran without issue. After getting to experience the game for the first time again, I thought it held up well after nearly a decade, even with some imperfections in the storytelling.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Second Look - Transformers: War for Cybertron (PS3)

For much of Transformers history, the video game offerings have often been considered one of the weaker aspects of the franchise, with the most tolerated one being the 2004 Transformers game based on the Transformers Armada cartoon. In 2010, the High Moon Studios-developed game Transformers: War for Cybertron displayed that it was, indeed, possible to make a good game based on the franchise and its core concepts, with the overall quality of Transformers games having largely improved since then. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this (for its time) ground-breaking game, I decided to revisit it to see how well it held up, as well as offer a bit of a retrospective on its place in canon and overall impact on the brand. Despite some issues with the game on a technical level, I found it to still be a solid experience after all this time.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Stubs - The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) Starring: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Leslie Banks Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel Screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman Based on the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Edward Connell in Collier's (19 Jan 1924). Produced by David O. Selznick (Executive Producer) and Merian C. Cooper (Associate Producer) Run Time: 61 minutes. USA Black and White Adventure

If the undertaking of filming King Kong (1933) wasn’t enough, Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper were also making another movie at the same time, The Most Dangerous Game. Described as the first in a series of adventure and mystery films the two were going to make at RKO, the film is based on the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Edward Connell, which appeared in Collier’s magazine in January 19, 1924. You have no doubt been exposed to the short story at some time during your schooling. The short story has been called the "most popular short story ever written in English” and upon publication, won the O. Henry Award.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Last of Us Remastered + Left Behind

Note: This review contains spoilers for The Last of Us and Left Behind

I originally played The Last of Us when it came out seven years ago on PS3 and though I remember liking it, I didn’t think about it again until The Last of Us Part II was announced. As time went on, however, I lost interest in playing the sequel, due to certain behind-the-scenes information that came to light and certain information from leaked footage. This made me consider replaying the original The Last of Us to see if my opinion had changed after all this time, which I fulfilled through the PS4 remaster, released only one year after the PS3 version, which I had bought but never opened. Doing this made me realize why I liked it in the first place, but now I see the flaws a lot more.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Stubs - Employees' Entrance

Employees' Entrance (1933) Starring: Warren William, Loretta Young, Wallace Ford. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. Screenplay by Robert Presnell Produced by Lucien Hubbard. Run Time: 75 minutes USA Black and White Drama, Pre-code

During their heyday, the studios were cranking out product to fill their theaters; one new film a week. Films were made on an assembly line basis. Unaffected by the Production Code, the studios were also free to deal with subject matter that in a few years they would no longer be able to. These pre-code films have developed a certain mythic status as Pre-Code, which makes them sound much more salacious than they really are. While they may deal with more adult subject matter, they are still rather tame in comparison with modern films. They might deal with sex but there is no nudity or actual sex. One such film is Employee’s Entrance, a Warner Bros. film.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure

Two years ago, I played Thimbleweed Park through the Limited Run physical release and thoroughly enjoyed it until the ending left a lingering bad taste in my mouth. Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ron Gilbert’s studio, Terrible Toybox, released a short game, Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure, that doubles as a prototype for Ron Gilbert’s new game engine. Since I played the original game, and Delores was free, I decided I may as well play it. For the price, I appreciate what it did and that it didn’t try to be anything bigger, but, like the original game, it’s a little rough.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Stubs - Smart Money

Smart Money (1931) Starring: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Evalyn Knapp Directed by Alfred E. Green. Screenplay: Kubec Glasmon, John Bright, Lucien Hubbard, Joseph Jackson. Producer: None Credited. Run time: 81 minutes. United States. Black and White Drama, Gangster Pre-Code

By 1931, James Cagney’s star was rising at Warner Bros. In only his fourth film with the studio, he was put in a movie with Edward G. Robinson. Already an established film actor, Robinson was already one of the studio’s biggest stars after Little Caesar (1931), the first of the major gangster films of the 1930s. This film went into production while Cagney was filming his own breakthrough gangster film, Public Enemy, which would come out later that same year. The film would prove to be the only ever pairing of these two actors. The film would also be the feature film debut of prominent character actor Charles Lane, who over the next 72 years would appear in more than 250 films.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery

As the Scooby-Doo direct-to-video movies continued to be pumped out every year, it was hard not to notice from a casual glance that there was at one point more of a reliance on crossovers, including Hanna-Barbera’s own Blue Falcon, DC’s Batman (the Brave and the Bold version) and two movies with the WWE of all things. To be fair on the last one, crossing over WWE with other Hanna-Barbera properties such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons was in style at the time. One that stood out to me, however, was a crossover with the band Kiss, named Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery. While I wouldn’t consider myself a member of the Kiss Army, I do enjoy some Kiss songs and I was curious to see how such a crossover would work, which I got the chance to do after recording a Boomerang airing of the movie. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I ended up enjoying to a degree, though it seemed more like a Kiss movie than it did a Scooby-Doo movie.