Sunday, November 28, 2021

Stubs: The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles: Get Back
(2021) Starring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Directed by Peter Jackson. Produced by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, Olivia Harrison, Peter Jackson, Clare Olssen, Jonathan Clyde United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States Color Run time: 360 minutes Documentary.

On January 2, 1969, with loose plans to do a live concert, The Beatles, at Paul McCartney’s guidance, gathered together in Twickenham Studios to rehearse, write songs and record for what was planned to be a TV Special. An ambitious project to write, rehearse and perform new songs, The Beatles gave themselves less than a month to pull it together. While the Deluxe Edition of the album Let It Be will attest to, they not only came up with enough material for an album, they also worked on songs that would appear on their last album Abbey Road and also on solo records from McCartney, Lennon and Harrison. The live concert finally found a home, the rooftop at Apple Corps, and took place on January 30, 1969.

In between starting the project and the concert, the recordings moved from a film studio to their own company, George Harrison would briefly leave the group, and keyboardist Billy Preston would join the sessions.

The TV Special would become the film Let It Be, and was seen by many to be documenting the disintegration of the greatest rock and roll group of all time. It didn’t help matters that the film was released after the group’s official breakup and that no member of the band went to the premiere.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

8-Bit Christmas

It’s not often we watch new movies on a whim, but sometimes it’s good to take a risk like that. 8-Bit Christmas, based on the book of the same name by Kevin Jakubowski, is such a film, one that we didn’t know about until shortly before it premiered on the HBO Max streaming service, with the hook being that it was a Christmas movie centered around the atypical subject of a video game console, in this case the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I will admit I went into this with low expectations, even with Neil Patrick Harris getting top billing, however, while imperfect, it turned out to be a lot better than I expected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Smashing Drive (GameCube)

While I have played some more obscure games before, it’s not very often I play a game because I heard about it through a YouTube video, and yet here we are. Developed by Gaelco, Smashing Drive was released into North American arcades in the year 2000 and later ported to home consoles (Xbox, GameCube) in 2002. After learning about the game, I managed to find a GameCube copy online since I didn’t know about the Xbox port at the time, however the newfound attention drawn to it caused prices to go up by the time I got around to buying it. After getting to play through it once, I can say it was worth playing once, though not at inflated prices.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Clifford the Big Red Dog (Film)

While I may have a limited exposure to Clifford the Big Red Dog, I had enough from my childhood that the trailers for the live-action adaptation, which went in and out of development for years, didn’t really inspire confidence. I did, however, decide to watch it for free through Paramount+ under the idea that while I wouldn’t pay money to watch it, I’d still give it the benefit of the doubt. After all, Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) turned out much better than I had expected based on its own rocky development and early trailers. Unfortunately, this version of Clifford turned out closer to how I feared Sonic would.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Stubs - Beauty and the Boss

Beauty and The Boss (1932) Starring: Marian Marsh, David Manners, Warren William, Charles Butterworth Directed by Roy Del Ruth Screenplay by Joseph Jackson Based on the play A Templom Egere by Ladislaus Fodor (Budapest, 2 Dec 1927). Producer (None Credited). Run time: 66 minutes. USA Black and White. Pre-Code, Comedy.

Violet Ethelred Krauth had a bit of a meteoric rise in Hollywood. Her film career began in 1928 when she was only 15. While she was still attending Hollywood High, Marian had approached a silent movie actress, Nancy O’Neil, who gave her speech and movement lessons. That lead to appearances in short subjects produced by Pathé, where she used the name Marilyn Morgan.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Crazy Taxi (PS2)

The year 1999 saw the release of an arcade game from Sega known as Crazy Taxi, with its popularity and success leading to a port for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. Not long after the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, ports of Crazy Taxi for PS2 and GameCube were released later that same year and has since been ported to other systems over the years. Of these ports, I happen to own the PS2 version that I found at a GameStop when they still sold PS2 games. I picked up this port since I had some experience with the arcade game, and only learned later that it retains all of the music and product placement found in both the original arcade version and the Dreamcast port. After deciding to give the game a closer look, I would agree with the idea that it encapsulates the time in which it was made, though found the port a little rough around the edges.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Stubs - No Time to Die

No Time to Die
(2021) starring Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Based on James Bond by Ian Fleming.  Produced by Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli. Run time: 163 minutes. United Kingdom/United States Color. Action, Espionage, Romance.

After its release was rescheduled due to COVID, No Time to Die, the new James Bond film, finally made it to screens. The final film to star Daniel Craig, this is in many ways a different sort of Bond film and one that was well worth the wait.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Film)

After the success of Prince of Persia: The Sands ofTime, Jerry Bruckheimer Films sought the film rights to the game for distribution under Walt Disney Pictures. Series creator Jordan Mechner, who couldn’t resist the offer, was also hired to write the script. However, production wouldn’t begin until after the 2007-2008 WGA strike was resolved, as Disney wanted to ensure that Prince of Persia would become their next Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, these plans fell through, with poor critical reception and an underwhelming box office in its original 2010 release. I remembered liking the film when it came out and re-watched it after finally playing the original game as part of a deep dive of the Sands of Time trilogy. While I can agree there are better films, I’m not sure I understand why critics at the time were so harsh.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Second Look - Assassin's Creed

Note: This review contains spoilers for Assassin’s Creed.

When I last played the original Assassin’s Creed in 2011, I didn’t think as much of it in comparison to other entries in the series and even wrote a review that, regrettably, didn't go into nearly enough detail. While playing the Sands of Time Trilogy on the PS2, however, I was intrigued by this game’s connection to Prince of Persia. After development of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time finished, director Patrice Désilets started work on another entry for seventh-generation hardware. As more information about those systems came to light, he considered an assassin character in an open world setting and called it Prince of Persia: Assassin. During development, however, the story and gameplay took on its own identity, which resulted in 2007’s Assassin’s Creed. With this knowledge, I replayed the game and found it not only better than I remembered, but a real breath of fresh air after the overly bloated direction of modern Assassin’s Creed titles.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (PS3)

Five years after The Two Thrones, and two years after a failed Prince of Persia reboot, Ubisoft released The Forgotten Sands as a tie-in to the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time film. Despite this, however, The Forgotten Sands is actually the collective title of four games set between the events of The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, with a different story and gameplay style between each platform (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; Wii; Nintendo DS; and PSP). Due to timing, the PS3 version of The Forgotten Sands was actually my first exposure to Prince of Persia and I remember enjoying it back in 2010 before I picked up the PS2 games or was even aware of the differences in other platforms. Ten years later, I returned to The Forgotten Sands after giving myself the full context of the PS2 trilogy and, while it did mess with my muscle memory, I still had a good time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

Only a year after Warrior Within, Ubisoft completed the Sands of Time trilogy of the Prince of Persia series with the third installment, The Two Thrones. Although it shares the same director as the previous installment, The Two Thrones notably saw a shift back towards the style of the first game, The Sands of Time, and was met with positive reviews on release. Considering the general improvements made to the experience, this praise feels deserved. That said, it does feel like a compromise between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, for better or worse.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

One year after the success of The Sands of Time had revitalized the Prince of Persia brand, Ubisoft released a sequel, Warrior Within. While it did receive generally positive reception, it notably had no involvement from Jordan Mechner, who didn’t like the darker direction the studio had taken the game compared to The Sands of Time. After finally playing Warrior Within for myself, I can see why.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Game)

If there’s one series that has unfortunately faded into obscurity, it’s Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia, created by Jordan Mechner. Despite the prestige brought on by the Sands of Time trilogy, Ubisoft’s focus shifted to other endeavors, like Assassin’s Creed, and the general public stopped talking about it. With a remake of the first game, The Sands of Time, in the works, I finally played the original release, which has a reputation as one of the best games ever made, plus a script written by Jordan Mechner himself. Fortunately, this game lives up to its reputation and combines story and gameplay in ways that I wished more games had attempted.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Stubs - Dune (2021)

Dune (2021) Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth. Based on Dune by Frank Herbert. Produced by Denis Villeneuve, Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Joe Caracciolo Jr. Run time: 156 minutes. USA. Color. Science Fiction, Fantasy

Since the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, published in 1965, has been cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in the world, it should come as no surprise that there have been several attempts to bring it to the big screen. Despite a badly-received 1984 adaptation directed by David Lynch, a second attempt has recently been made, this time by director Denis Villeneuve.

While the film was released theatrically, it was also same day released on HBO Max, which is where it was watched for this review. While Trophy Unlocked isn’t quite ready to venture into theaters, we will admit that the film was made and should ideally be viewed on a larger screen than our TV set. This is an epic film, to say the least, with everything big, if not oversized, throughout the film.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Novelist

The Novelist is one of those independent games that I heard of when it first came out, in this case in 2013, and thought it sounded interesting, but never got around to playing it. When I obtained a massive bundle, however, I noticed that it included this game and eventually made the time to finally play it, since I could relate to the struggle of trying to write a novel. While I’m not sure that the experience completely resonated with me on a deep level, I’m glad I finally gave it a chance.