Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Destroy All Humans! 2 (Xbox)

Following the success of the original release of Destroy All Humans! in 2005, developer Pandemic Studios released a follow-up in 2006, Destroy All Humans! 2. Much like the original game, I distinctly remember seeing this game in store displays, including a playable demo, and while I never played it, the name stuck with me. In my hype for the Destroy All Humans! remake, I bought a copy of Destroy All Humans! 2 on the original Xbox, not knowing if a remake of that game was in the works or not. Indeed, a remake of this game was announced as Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, which made me realize I was in a unique position to compare the original release to the remake, since I went into the original game’s remake blind. Playing this game immediately following Destroy All Humans! (2020) is an interesting experience in itself, and while I liked it on a gameplay level, I had mixed feelings on it from a storytelling perspective.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Note: This review contains spoilers for 101 Dalmatians (1961) and 101 Dalmatians (1996).

Long before Disney’s current stream of unnecessary live-action remakes, they had dabbled in a scant few. One of these was 101 Dalmatians, the 1996 remake of the 1961 animated classic One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Although this remake evidently did well enough to spawn a sequel, 102 Dalmatians, critics weren’t too fond of it, at least according to the 41% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it as a “bland and pointless remake” in the critic consensus. Among many other films from the 90s, the live-action 101 Dalmatians is one that I have a vague memory of watching as a young child, but no real memory of the actual content. After watching the original animated film again not too long ago, I felt more in the mood to give the remake a real watch and, to my surprise, it was a bit better than I thought it would be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Destroy All Humans! (2020) (PS4) - Ich Will

Destroy All Humans! is a game I was aware of at the time it first came out in 2005, including seeing it in store displays, so a vague interest in it was always somewhere in the back of my mind. The announcement of the 2020 remake from THQ Nordic, however, was when I felt more committed to actually checking it out through said remake, thanks in part to the announcement trailer’s expert use of “Ich Will” by Rammstein. Due to a number of factors though, I didn’t get around to playing it right away, though what pushed me to play it as soon as I could was listening to a physical CD of the original game’s soundtrack that I found in the wild. I was then pushed even further when, in that brief window of time, Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, a remake of the 2006 sequel, was announced. After finally getting around to it, I found the Destroy All Humans! remake to be a flawed, yet ultimately satisfying experience.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Emperor's New Groove

Note: This review contains spoilers for The Emperor’s New Groove.

In 1994, Disney started production on a musical epic titled Kingdom of the Sun. Over the course of four years, however, the project went through a troubled production period (as detailed in the documentary The Sweatbox, viewable through Internet Archive), only reaching about 25% completion. As a result, studio executives stepped in and, after some discussion, the film changed direction to a lighthearted comedy. The final product, renamed The Emperor’s New Groove, would see a theatrical release in early December, 2000. Though it received a generally positive reception from critics, with an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film underperformed at the box office, making only $169.9 million on a budget of $100 million.

Although I was only eight at the time The Emperor’s New Groove came out, I distinctly remember watching it in a theater and enjoying it. However, it would be about 20 years before I would watch it again through a TV broadcast, which reinforced the fond memories I had of the film. After watching the first episode of  the Disney+ series Sketchbook, in which Story Artist Gabby Capili drew Emperor Kuzco, we felt compelled to watch the film again, which led us to conclude that even after 22 years, The Emperor’s New Groove still holds up as a Disney classic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series (PS5)

While by no means unsuccessful, the Klonoa series is one of Bandai Namco’s lesser-known properties. Although it did well enough to have two mainline games and a series of spin-off titles largely on handheld devices before petering out in 2002, a failed attempt at a revival through a Wii remake of the first entry caused the series to fall into obscurity, with its only form of legacy support for the longest time being a short-lived webcomic on the now-defunct ShiftyLook website. While the series did interest me after I stumbled upon it, I wasn’t really able to truly get into it due a number of factors, that is until the announcement of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series (JP: Kaze no Klonoa 1&2 Encore), a collection of the first two games, Door to Phantomile and Lunatea’s Veil, remade for modern platforms. For whatever reason, the game did not receive a physical release in North America, so I resorted to importing a PS5 copy from the UK just to own one. After finally getting to experience both games through this collection, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this hidden gem of a series.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Stubs - Sabotage

Sabotage (1936) (aka The Woman Alone) Starring: Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, John Loder Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by Charles Bennett Based on the novel The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (London, 1907). Produced by Michael Balcon Run Time: 76 minutes United Kingdom Thriller

While Alfred Hitchcock is usually remembered for his Hollywood films, he had a successful career in England before David O. Selznick signed him to a contract and brought him stateside. Some of his better films from this period include The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), Blackmail (1929), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Sabotage.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Stubs - Bull Durham

Bull Durham
(1988) Starring: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl. Directed by Ron Shelton. Screenplay by Ron Shelton. Produced by Thom Mount, Mark Burg. Run time: 108 minutes. USA. Color. Romantic Comedy, Sports

Sometimes you see a movie a second time and it is not as quite as good as you remember. Thirty-four years ago, I went to see Bull Durham on the first date with my wife and on our anniversary, we decided to watch it again. I’m happy to report that the film is as funny and as romantic as it was the first time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Looker

While The Witness initially released in 2016 to critical acclaim, it wasn’t without fault. Said faults were then taken and exaggerated in a parody known as The Looker, which was released earlier this year. As a fan of The Witness, when I first heard about The Looker, I thought I might get a kick out of it and decided to give it a try, the main motivator being that it was released for free via Steam. After going through the game mostly blind, I certainly got the entertainment value I was expecting out of it, possibly even more.