Saturday, May 29, 2021

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

As a juggernaut of TV animation, SpongeBob SquarePants is no stranger to the silver screen. The first feature, aptly titled The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released in 2004 around the peak of the show’s popularity, followed eleven years later by a sequel, Sponge Out of Water. The third movie, Sponge on the Run (originally subtitled It’s a Wonderful Sponge), would have a comparatively rocky release, however. Though Paramount originally planned a full theatrical release, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced them to reconsider the distribution, including at least one release date change. Eventually, the film got a domestic theatrical release exclusively in Canada, followed by an international Netflix release a few months later and a US release in March 2021 exclusively through the Paramount+ streaming service (formerly CBS All Access). This is how we viewed the film once we could access the service, though we mostly did so since Paramount hyped it as their main draw. While an admiral attempt at expanding on the series’ lore, Sponge on the Run is ultimately underwhelming, especially for those who grew up with the show’s first three seasons.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Watch Dogs: Legion (PS5)

Among Ubisoft’s more recent franchises, a relatively lesser-known one that still gets attention is Watch Dogs, which revolves around hacking mechanics and deals with issues of technology. While not my favorite series, I liked it enough that I played Watch Dogs 2, which I found better than the original Watch Dogs, and felt curious after the reveal of the third entry, Watch Dogs: Legion, at E3. However, I still had my reservations and post-release events reaffirmed my choice to avoid pre-ordering it, since its price got halved in only a month. Still, I picked it up for the PS5 as an excuse to use the system and found my chance later, only to walk away wondering if this franchise still has a future.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Celebration of 1200 Reviews

As mentioned in our 1100 review milestone post, our media consumption has drastically increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and this next set of 100 reviews is no exception, resulting in what appears to be the quickest turnaround for one of these posts. An influx in films and video games meant a lot more themed weeks to get them out faster, and while vaccines are being rolled out as of this post, we on this blog still do not yet feel safe enough to go back into a movie theater, instead relying on streaming services such as HBO Max to see what's new, as well as waiting for a physical release for films with otherwise limited theatrical runs (such as Lupin III: The First). We have also since expanded into a single book review, though we don't plan on doing any more for the foreseeable future. No telling how long it will take to reach 1300 reviews while the pandemic is still an issue, though once again we are not making any promises.

Below is a list of links to every review from 1101-1200, broken up every 25 links for easy navigation. Each review will also be color-coded as such: MovieVideo Game, Book.

1101. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
1123. Onward

1143. Bombastic

1158. Gone Home
1159. Tacoma

1176. Rationing
1177. Mank
1187. Minit

Movies: 55 (775 Total)
Video Games: 44 (376 Total)
Comic Books: 0 (27 Total)
DLC: 0 (21 Total)
Book: 1 (1 Total)

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Resident Evil Village (PS5)

Despite my lack of experience with the Resident Evil franchise, I still played Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and enjoyed it enough that I heavily anticipated Resident Evil Village, aka Resident Evil 8, as soon as Capcom had announced it. I even played the PS5-exclusive Maiden demo despite its status as more of a visual showcase. Naturally, this made Village a day one purchase for me and I started playing as soon as I could install the disc. Four days later, I emerged from the titular village recognizing that while it wasn’t as scary as the previous game, its actionized approach still worked pretty well.

Friday, May 21, 2021

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Note: This review contains spoilers for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

With the success of How to Train Your Dragon 2, it would be another five years before DreamWorks Animation would release the third, and currently final, installment, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Due to real world circumstances, this film would also have a separate distributor from the previous two, this time Universal Pictures as opposed to Paramount Pictures or 20th Century Fox. Since the sequels to the original How to Train Your Dragon were written with a trilogy in mind, it made sense to finish watching the films and see how they concluded the story. Though the ending does deliver emotionally, the flight path has a bit of turbulence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Note: This review contains spoilers for How to Train Your Dragon.

Four years after the release of How to Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks Animation released the first sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, but distributed this time through 20th Century Fox instead of Paramount Pictures. Interestingly, Dean DeBlois, who co-directed the original film, agreed to direct this film on the condition that he could turn it into a trilogy. Additionally, DreamWorks Animation had overhauled their animation and lighting software during the production, which gave this film the honor as their first to use it. The end result is a sequel that feels different from the original, both in tone and storytelling, but is still great to watch on its own merits.

Monday, May 17, 2021

How to Train Your Dragon

Note: This review contains spoilers for How to Train Your Dragon.

I will admit that when the original How to Train Your Dragon film, based on the 2003 Cressida Cowell book of the same name, first came out, it didn’t really appeal to me at the time for whatever reason, so I didn’t end up watching it, its two sequels or its spinoff Cartoon Network/Netflix series, DreamWorks Dragons. After the third film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, came out, I had been hearing a lot of positive word-of-mouth about the trilogy, and so decided to check it out due to pandemic boredom, via a 3-in-1 Blu-ray collection of the films. Watching the first film on what happened to be shortly after its 11th anniversary, I found it to be a lot better than I expected, even going so far as to compare it to Kung Fu Panda in terms of quality.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Review Hub - MonsterVerse

The original 1954 Godzilla film introduced the world to the titular monster, going on to be a staple in Japanese culture and an icon of the kaiju genre. The original 1933 King Kong film, meanwhile, introduced its own famous monster that would go on to be widely recognized in American culture in some form. These two giants would finally butt heads in 1962 in the Japan-produced King Kong vs. Godzilla, remaining an anomaly to both franchises for the longest time. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, 2014 saw the release of a brand new American Godzilla film, all but wiping the infamous 1998 film from memory in the process as it kickstarted a crossover with King Kong in the form of the MonsterVerse, culminating in the two monsters' long-awaited rematch in the 2021 film Godzilla vs. Kong. Though the overall quality of these films is hit-and-miss depending on who you ask, contractual stipulations between Legendary Pictures and Toho mean only time will tell if these two cinematic icons will ever face off again in the future.

Below is a list of links to every MonsterVerse review on this blog, presented in order of release.

Godzilla (2014)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Great Mouse Detective

With a film library as large as Disney’s, it’s inevitable that regardless of quality, some films slip through the cracks. One such film, The Great Mouse Detective, has also gained somewhat of a cult following over the years. After finally watching the film for myself, it’s hard not to see why, especially considering it was successful enough on its initial release that it saved Disney Animation from bankruptcy. However, while it’s certainly underrated, it’s also not one of Disney’s best.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Star Wars Racer Revenge (PS4)

Three years after the release of Star Wars Episode I: Racer, a sequel known as Star Wars Racer Revenge was released for the PS2 in 2002, in time for the release of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones later that year. I will admit that I never really knew Racer Revenge existed at the time, in part because I lacked the system to play it on, only hearing about it when Limited Run offered a physical copy of the PS4 port of the game and bought it out of interest. After getting to experience Episode I: Racer again, I decided to check out Racer Revenge for the first time to see how much it changed from the first game, finding a number of these changes to be for the better.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Stubs - Straight Shooting


Straight Shooting (1917) Starring: Harry Carey, Duke Lee, George Berrell, Molly Malone, Ted Brooks, Hoot Gibson, Milt Brown, Vester Pegg. Directed by John Ford. Screenplay by George Hively (credited as Story). Producer not credited. USA 62 minutes. Silent. Western.

Westerns had been a staple of American films almost as long as there have been films made in the U.S. One of the earliest examples is Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903). One director who is perhaps most associated with the genre is John Ford, who would direct such classics as Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956) to name only a few of his best-known films. It should come as no surprise that Ford’s first feature film would also be a Western, Straight Shooting (1917).

Friday, May 7, 2021

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Note: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Three years after Attack of the Clones, the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy came to a close with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005, notably the first PG-13 film in the series. Even though I didn’t watch this film very much after its original theatrical release, I remembered its general events the most even over a decade later. To complete our re-evaluation of the Prequel Trilogy, we watched the 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon to help bridge the gap from Attack of the Clones, then watched Revenge of the Sith through the original 2005 DVD release, which features one minor editing change from the theatrical release (two wipes are replaced with straight cuts). While this doesn’t rise to the same heights as the Original Trilogy, it represents a significant improvement over the other Prequel films and is the most memorable and entertaining, even enjoyable.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Second Look - Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.

In the time between the releases of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a series of animated shorts was produced to help bridge the gap between them, under the title of Star Wars: Clone Wars, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky of Samurai Jack fame. The series was originally two Seasons of 10 episodes each, each lasting 3-5 minutes, however positive reception led George Lucas to commission a third Season consisting of five episodes lasting 12-15 minutes, with the intent of providing a direct lead-in to Revenge of the Sith. The series was later compiled into two hour-long features spread across two DVD volumes, the first compiling Chapters 1-20 and the second Chapters 21-25, however this would later be superseded by the 2008 series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and even declared part of the non-canon Legends continuity by Disney following their purchase of Lucasfilm.

Having grown up watching Samurai Jack when this series first came out, and being caught up in the Prequel Trilogy hype at the time, I made sure to catch every episode as they came on, even the very short ones, and the strong animation and character writing never failed to disappoint. I even got the two DVDs as they came out, which has since made it much easier to re-watch the series over the years even without the context of the trilogy it was based on. Despite this series being officially designated non-canon material, I choose to pretend it still is for reasons that will become evident. While going through a re-evaluation of the Prequel Trilogy, however, I decided it would be good idea to revisit this series again in between Episode II and Episode III. While my general positive opinion of the series hasn’t changed much, I must admit I got a lot more out of it with the full context of the Prequel Trilogy’s events.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Note: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and The Mandalorian.

Following the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999, the Prequel Trilogy continued in 2002 with the release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, furthering the story of Anakin Skywalker. While I did see this movie in the theater when it first premiered, I will admit to have sparsely seen it since then, in part due to the overall negative reputation the Prequels had at the time, though I will also admit further to not fully paying attention to the story since I was young when I first saw it. As part of our re-evaluation of the Prequel Trilogy, I rewatched Attack of the Clones through the original 2002 DVD release, which features the most minimal changes compared to the original theatrical cut of the movie. While my opinion on the movie has overall improved since my initial viewing, my feelings on it are still a bit mixed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PS4)

Around the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace came a cavalcade of licensed games to cash in on the hype, many of them aimed at children, with varying levels of quality. Arguably the one that best stands the test of time is Star Wars Episode I: Racer, a racing game inspired by the Podracing sequence seen in the film proper. Though this game originally released on the Nintendo 64 system, I have fond memories of playing the PC port as a kid, for which I still have my original copy, and so I was excited when a modern re-release of the game was announced, later picking up a physical copy of the PC reissue and the PS4 port from Limited Run games along with the PS4 port of its sequel, Star Wars Racer Revenge. After finally receiving my copy of Episode I: Racer in the mail, I decided to revisit the game through the PS4 version and found myself having a blast with it despite some technical hiccups with the port.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Note: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. 

For at least a decade, the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy maintained a mostly negative reception from fans and critics due to a perceived lack of quality compared to the Original Trilogy. We also held this viewpoint once the Prequel Trilogy ended in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith, at least until we saw the truly disastrous results of the Sequel Trilogy. After The Rise of Skywalker failed to address many of the Sequel Trilogy’s mounting flaws and exposed its lack of any solid direction, we decided that although we had skipped the Prequel Trilogy in our initial buildup to The Force Awakens, it might be worth looking back and re-evaluating our opinion.

Naturally, we begin with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Though this entry is the most infamous due to the hype surrounding its initial release and pretty much everything that could be said about its low quality has already been said, lack of input from anyone but George Lucas notwithstanding, this won’t stop us from voicing our opinion anyway. As for my own personal history with this film, I distinctly remember watching it in the theater when I was six and liking it, though admittedly I didn’t pay close attention to the plot and a subsequent viewing lowered my opinion. Now, as an adult viewing it with essentially fresh eyes through the 2001 DVD release, which features very minimal changes from the original theatrical cut, I have to agree that the film is indeed bad, but I didn’t find it quite as bad as I had thought.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Stubs - The Secret Bride

The Secret Bride (1934) Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Warren William, Glenda Farrell, Grant Mitchell, Arthur Byron, Henry O'Neill, Douglas Dumbrille. Directed by William Dieterle. Screenplay by Tom Buckingham, F. Hugh Herbert, Mary McCall Jr. Produced by Henry Blanke. Run time: 63 minutes. Black and White. USA Political, Drama

By 1934, Barbara Stanwyck’s time at Warner Bros. was coming to an end. While it started with such films as Night Nurse (1931), So Big! (1932), Ladies They Talk About (1933), and Baby Face (1933), she was growing tired of the films the studio was placing her in. Director William Dieterle wasn’t happy with the film and was surprised Stanwyck wasn’t more upset about the project. For Stanwyck, she saw it as a means to an end, anything to get her out of her contract. After one more film at the studio, The Woman in Red (1935), she would go on to a very successful career as a freelance actress.