Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Stubs - The Last Flight

The Last Flight (1931) Starring: Richard Barthelmess, David Manners, John Mack Brown, Helen Chandler. Directed by William Dieterle. Screenplay by John Monk Saunders. Based on the novel Single Lady by John Monk Saunders (New York, l931). No Producer Credited. Run time: 80 minutes. USA Black and White Drama, Pre-Code.

After the First World War, many American soldiers chose to stay in Europe rather than return to the States. They needed to forget the horrors they encountered during the war and with a generous exchange rate for the U.S. dollar, they could afford a more hedonistic lifestyle. Besides, Prohibition had taken a stranglehold back in the States and drinking seemed in order for these Vets.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Stubs - Chances

Chances (1931) Starring: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Rose Hobart, Anthony Bushell. Directed by Allan Dwan. Screenplay by A. Hamilton Gibbs. Based on the novel Chances by Arthur Hamilton Gibbs (Boston, 1930). Producer Not Credited. Run time: 72 minutes. USA Black and White. Pre-Code, Drama.

There is no one way that you can become aware of a particular movie. In the case of Chances, for me, it was purely by accident. One morning while I was getting ready for work, the film happened to be on TCM and I happened to be watching. Since I didn’t have the time to watch it, I decided to DVR it and watch it later, which I recently did.

There were several things that attracted me to the film. I haven’t seen a lot of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. films, and those I have seen, especially from this time period, I have liked. Then there is the backdrop to the story, World War I. For most of my life, World War II has been so dominating, and rightly so, that the first World War is somewhat forgotten. However, during the 1920s and 30s, it was the last major war that most people had lived through, so it was used quite often for a backdrop for films. And then there was the obvious story detail that becomes quickly apparent, two close brothers fall in love with the same woman. I’m happy to say that on all these points, the film does not disappoint.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Stubs - Her Man

Her Man (1930) Starring Helen Twelvetrees, Marjorie Rambeau, Ricardo Cortez, Phillips Holmes. Directed by Tay Garnett. Screenplay by Thomas Buckingham. Produced by E. B. Derr. Run time: 83 minutes. USA Black and White. Romance, Drama, Pre-Code.

It is sad to consider how many films have been lost over time. Sometimes, when you look up some older actors on Wikipedia, there are usually one or two films from the silent era or early sound that will be listed as a Lost film. Either because they were made and stored on highly flammable nitrate film, or through plain neglect or because the negative was destroyed in the name of censorship (Convention City), a survey of American films will often times have holes that cannot be filled.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD (Xbox One)

Note: This review contains spoilers for TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue.

Sometime after the TY the Tasmanian Tiger HD Kickstarter, a survey was sent out to backers, myself included, about what rewards we might want out of a potential TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD Kickstarter. Sure enough, such a Kickstarter was later announced, which I backed after seeing that Krome Studios was able to deliver on what they promised for the previous game. Unlike the first time, Xbox One was an option right from the start, and so I opted for that under the idea that I would have a more consistent experience to compare with the original Xbox version that I played. After recently receiving my code and getting a chance to play it, I found that Krome was once again able to deliver on their promises, though noticed some technical issues along the way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Among the games announced at Sony’s PlayStation 5 reveal, the one that I was most excited for was Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, since it was the first new game in the series since the 2016 reimagining and would return to the original timeline as a sequel to Into the Nexus. On top of this, the reveal immediately showed off the PS5’s potential with the dimensional travel gimmick and the new character Rivet (who was unnamed at the time) was the first female Lombax to be introduced since Angela Cross all the way back in Going Commando. Rivet’s reveal also made a splash on the internet for this reason, however I opted to wait to play the game for myself to see how she was handled rather than indulge in any of the hype. I will admit the game’s $70 price tag was almost a turn-off for me, though I pre-ordered it regardless, finding it to be a much-welcomed return for Ratchet & Clank and a true showcase of what the PS5 can do for the series.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Luca (2021)

As much as the global COVID-19 pandemic affected Disney’s output, it also had an effect on Pixar. When the onset of the pandemic forced theater closures, Onward, which had only just released, went straight to Disney+. Since then, Soul released directly on Disney+ for free that Christmas, followed by their most recent film, Luca. We admittedly didn’t expect much from Luca based on the initial trailers, but we decided we would watch it anyway since we had seen every other film from the studio. While the end result may not have the same emotional weight as the average film from the studio, its lighter tone actually works in its favor.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

FF7R Episode INTERmission (DLC)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Over a year after the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake, with no word yet on the second full installment, Square Enix released an updated version, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, for the PS5. Square Enix not only offered this upgrade for free for existing PS4 owners, sans those who downloaded the free PS+ version, they also released a piece of DLC exclusively for PS5 owners (as of this writing). This DLC, FF7R Episode INTERmission, would explore Yuffie’s role in Remake and release as a separate $20 purchase for those who didn’t purchase Intergrade. This was how I played it, as I didn’t want to buy the same game again at full price, though the process involved in getting to that point ensured that I couldn’t actually play it on launch day. As soon as I could play it, however, I explored just about everything it had to offer and found it worth the asking price. Mostly.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Cars 3

Note: This review contains spoilers for Cars 3.

Sometimes when watching a film series, you might skip any entries past a certain point because you felt burned by one of the sequels. Such was the case for us with Cars 3, the only Pixar film we hadn’t seen, since we viewed Cars 2 as a less-than-stellar sequel to an already okay film. Though we had heard good things about Cars 3, we actively avoided it for about four years until a window of opportunity struck and we could finally complete that unsightly gap in our Pixar viewing via Disney+. As it turned out, it improved on the previous films enough that we now wonder why we didn’t watch it sooner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Second Look - Cars 2

Note: This review contains spoilers for Cars 2.

I will admit that when I first saw Cars 2 in a theater, my expectations weren’t that high because of how generally underwhelming I found the original Cars film in comparison to Pixar’s output at the time, however I didn’t expect to walk away feeling disappointed at the time for what felt like a poorly-executed storyline for Pixar. This even led me to outright skip the original theatrical run of Cars 3 due to my reaction to Cars 2, though in the years since then I decided to give Cars 2 another chance after watching Cars 3 on Disney+ and finding it surprisingly good. Unfortunately, however, I still wasn’t that impressed by Cars 2, though now I have a better understanding as to why.

Monday, June 14, 2021


Note: The review contains spoilers for Cars.

When you start off good and you’ve been practicing your craft long enough, you are likely to have at least one weak point somewhere in your career. In the case of Pixar, their first arguably weak movie in their catalog was the original Cars film in 2006. When I saw the first trailer in front of The Incredibles in a theater, I will admit the concept of basing a movie around a world of anthropomorphic vehicles was baffling to me, however I watched it anyway out of my loyalty to Pixar, finding it surprisingly average for them at the time and their weakest film until Cars 2 came out in 2011. In the 15 years since, I have only watched Cars again sparingly, however I recently decided to give it a closer look to see how well it held up when compared to its sequels. Though I generally enjoyed it, it’s still not exactly one of Pixar’s better movies.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon (+ Us Again)

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic altered for the foreseeable future, it’s film distribution. With the closure of many theaters, both temporarily and permanently, many studios quickly resorted to releasing movies digitally at a quicker pace than before the pandemic set in, chief among them Disney and Warner Bros. Disney opted for the Premier Access model for some of their films, where you have to pay a $30 fee on top of a Disney+ subscription for a limited time before being re-released for free on said service. One such films released this way was their latest installment in the Disney Animated Canon, Raya and the Last Dragon. Since I have a Disney+ account, this movie was on my radar, however, I decided to wait three months for it to be available for free before watching it, since I find the Premier Access model a little ridiculous. Now that I have seen it, while I generally enjoyed it, I’m not sure it would have been worth the Premier Access price.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Stubs - Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Starring Scarlett Johansson, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche. Directed by Rupert Sanders. Screenplay by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger. Based on the Japanese Manga Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow and the film Ghost in the Shell directed by Mamoru Oshii. Produced by Avi Arad, Ari Arad, Steven Paul, and Michael Costigan. Run Time: 106 minutes. USA Color Science Fiction, Action

There seems to be a real trend in making live-action films from animated movies. Disney may be the most notable since it began reimagining their classic films starting with 101 Dalmatians (1996), a remake of the animated film from 1961, and continuing with remakes of Alice in Wonderland (2010), Maleficent (2014), a telling of Sleeping Beauty (1959), Cinderella (2015), Jungle Book (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Aladdin (2019), and Mulan (2020).

Friday, June 11, 2021

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2

I didn’t have too much experience with the output of Arc System works, but I did look forward to, and subsequently play, Dragon Ball FighterZ. I really enjoyed its style and presentation, so I decided to try a title that I heard was similar, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, which I later learned was an update to Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- that got a PS4-exclusive physical release. It took me a while to get around to actually playing it, but I’m glad I did, since the flair and presentation kept me hooked like with FighterZ. However, beneath it all, I felt like I missed something.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DuckTales: Remastered (PS3)

Back in 1989, Capcom released the NES game DuckTales, a highly-acclaimed platformer based on the 1987 animated series of the same name. Although I had no nostalgia for the game, or the series for that matter, I figured that WayForward’s 2013 remake of the game, DuckTales: Remastered, could help enlighten me on why people liked it so much. However, I waited for a disc-based physical copy of the game, as opposed to a retail copy with a download code and pin, before actually playing it. While I played this back in 2013, I didn’t review it then, so I recently went back a replayed it for review purposes and still liked it, despite its rather short length.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado has an interesting place in DreamWorks Animation’s history. While not their final traditionally animated film, it was their final pre-Shrek production. Critics gave it mixed reviews at the time and the film bombed, grossing about $76 million on a budget of $95 million, which in turn may have convinced DreamWorks to double down on CG animation. As for my own experience, I remember watching it as a kid, but not too much of it stuck with me, likely because I didn’t pay attention to the plot as much back then. At the start of 2021, however, I watched it through Hulu out of a renewed curiosity from the film’s sudden rise in popularity through internet memes. While the story isn’t perfect, I didn’t think it was as bad as critics initially thought and could even consider it an overlooked film in DreamWorks’ library. It even got me thinking about where DreamWorks Animation would be today if they didn’t completely abandon traditional animation.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

After managing to get a PS5 at launch, the first game I played was the pre-installed Astro’s Playroom, a fun introduction to the system and the new DualSense controller. I enjoyed it so much that I soon sought out a copy of Astro’s debut title, the PlayStation VR exclusive Astro Bot Rescue Mission, partly to have an excuse to get more mileage out of the headset. When I got around to playing it, I found it very charming and a great example of third-person VR.