Thursday, September 21, 2023

Stay Tuned

While many of my interests often edge towards the obscure or lesser-known, it’s not too often I seek something out solely because of a small portion of it. This is the case with Stay Tuned, a lesser-known film from 1992 that I somehow stumbled upon, in which the premise sounded interesting, but it was one small part of it caught my interest enough to want to watch it. After watching it through Amazon Prime Video, in which it was free for Prime members, I did find it worth the watch, though it did not really exceed my already-low expectations going in.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Stubs - Batman: The Movie

Batman aka Batman: The Movie (1966) Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin Directed by Leslie H. Martinson. Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. Based on characters created by Bob Kane (and Bill Finger). Produced by William Dozier. Run time: 104 minutes Color USA Superhero, Comedy

Feature films based on TV series were something new back in 1966 when Batman  was released in theaters. The TV series, from 20th Century Fox, debuted on ABC on January 12, 1966. The series followed a single storyline spread out over two nights each week. The show would end on a cliffhanger on Wednesday nights with its conclusion on Thursday nights. Building off the 1943 serial produced by Columbia Pictures, for which critic Susan Sontag extolled “the vulgar and laughable (shining) in exact proportion to its unconvincingness,” the TV series presented a very different version of Batman than we’ve come to expect from more recent film portrayals, camp.

Producer William Dozier quickly came to realize its commercial possibilities, and infused the series with the “pop art technique of the exaggerated cliché,” hoping to broaden its appeal to both adults and children. The show proved to be very popular and $50 million (equivalent to $466,661,950 in 2023) in Batman merchandising had saturated the market. Deciding to capitalize while public interest was at its peak, it was announced that a feature film would start filming on April 18, 1966 with Burgess Meredith as “The Penguin,” Cesar Romero as “The Joker,” Frank Gorshin as “The Riddler,” and Julie Newmar as “Catwoman,” each reprising their roles from the series. However, a back injury forced Newmar to withdraw and she was replaced by Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1955.

Filming was postponed until April 28, 1966 and was completed in twenty-six days, with an additional six days for second-unit photography. Filming locations included Stearn's Wharf, Santa Barbara, California; Cliffs, Marineland of the Pacific - 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes; Kirkeby Center - 10889 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles; Van Nuys Airport - 16461 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, Los Angeles; and Bronson Caves, Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park - 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles. The film opened on July 30, 1966, roughly a little more than two months after the last episode of season one aired on May 5, 1966.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Gran Turismo (Film)

While video game to film translations have historically been rocky over the years, especially in live-action, it can be said that more recent efforts such as Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog films have figured out how to make it work without sacrificing the spirit of the source material. With that in mind, as the Gran Turismo games have no real plot to speak of, the film adaptation makes up for this by taking a decidedly more unique approach, adapting a story surrounding the events of the games rather than the games themselves, in this case the story of how Jann Mardenborough went from being a Gran Turismo player to a professional racer. I will admit to not playing any of the actual games prior to this film, only being aware of them, however the approach it took made me curious enough to go see it, especially after looking more into what it was based on. While I didn’t really have any expectations going in, the movie turned out way better than I expected, to where I honestly consider it one of the best video game movies out there.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Stubs - Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero

Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
(1998) Voices of Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., George Dzundza, Robert Costanzo, Bob Hastings, Mary Kay Bergman, Marilu Henner, Dean Jones. Directed by Boyd Kirkland. Screenplay by Boyd Kirkland, Randy Rogel. Based on Batman by Bill Finger and Bob Kane Run time: 66 minutes. Color. USA Direct-to-video, Animated, Superhero

Following the relative success of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), a second film was ordered by Warner Bros. That film was Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, which was made to tie-in with Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin (1997), but delayed a year when that film received a poor reception. The last Batman direct-to-video film to use cel animation, SubZero was released on March 17, 1998.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Note: This review contains spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

While Batman: The Animated Series (Batman TAS) is one of the more highly-acclaimed Batman series, it was not my first introduction to the Dark Knight (that honor goes to The Batman (2004)), since I was literally too young to watch it when it was on. I have, however, since gone back and watched a select handful of episodes and found it to have earned its reputation. While I was also too young to see it in the theater when it came out, I had also seen Mask of the Phantasm, the first film based on the series, after hearing how good it was, though the untimely passing of Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy led me to give it another look in his honor. After a second viewing, I can see how one could argue that it’s one of the best Batman films, especially of the animated variety.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar


Note: This review contains spoilers for Metalocalypse and The Doomstar Requiem - A Klok Opera.

For about ten years, the [adult swim] series Metalocalypse, an animated series about the unrealistically popular death metal band Dethklok, never had a conclusion. Following the conclusion of Season 4, the show had an hour-long special, The Doomstar Requiem, which ended on a cliffhanger with the intention of an additional fifth season to finish it off. Long story short, this sadly never came to pass, leaving fans with no sense of closure. That is, until 2021 when the network greenlit a direct-to-video finale movie, Army of the Doomstar, which finally released in August 2023. As a fan of both Metalocalypse and Dethklok, the wait felt truly excruciating, but receiving closure made the incredible and emotional finale very much worth the wait.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Note: This review contains spoilers for The Flashpoint Paradox.

In the leadup to DC’s (in)famous New 52 reboot in 2011, a now famous The Flash storyline known as Flashpoint was ran, which featured a limited series with a number of tie-in comics that all explored an alternate timeline. This arc would later be adapted in 2013 as Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the first installment in the DC Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU). While I will admit to not caring too much about the movie when it first came out, I became more curious over time due to a combination of Reverse Flash memes based on it and watching the 2023 The Flash film, which also adapts the Flashpoint arc. After finally sitting down to watch it, by streaming it through Max, I liked it more than I thought I would, going so far as to find it a better Flash movie than the actual Flash movie.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Stubs - Nancy Drew. . . Trouble Shooter

Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter (1939) Starring Bonita Granville, Frankie Thomas, John Litel. Directed by William Clemens. Screenplay by Kenneth Gamet. No Producer Credited. Based on the character "Nancy Drew" created by Carolyn Keene. Run time: 70 minutes. Black and White. USA. Drama, Mystery, Comedy

Nancy Drew first appeared in the book The Secret of the Old Clock (1930) and was created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as a female counterpart to the Hardy Boys series of books. The Nancy Drew books were written by a series of writers using the same pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. Nancy Drew would appear in 175 novels from first publication to 2003.

The book series was so popular that Warner Bros. bought the rights to make “B” pictures. Fifteen-year-old child star Bonita Granville, who had already been nominated for an Academy Award for her role in These Three (1936), was picked to play the lead in a series of films. Warner Bros. wanted the series to resemble the popular Torchy Blane films starring Glenda Farrell, which mixed comedy and crime.

There were four films in all: Nancy Drew... Detective (1938), Nancy Drew... Reporter (1939), Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter (1939), and Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939).

Shot during February 1939, this, the third film, was released on June 17, 1939.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach – Ruin (DLC)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach

Although the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise remains as successful as ever, the most recent entry from Steel Wool, Security Breach, has fought an uphill battle. The game launched in a blatantly unfinished state, with glitches galore and a story too vague for its own good. Even with numerous patches that addressed countless issues, its reputation hasn’t quite escaped the one it had since launch. Despite its troubles, however, it still received a free piece of DLC, Ruin, that offered a glimmer of hope in addressing remaining questions from the base game. While it doesn’t quite fix everything within its roughly four-hour runtime (when playing normally), Ruin does still represent a substantial improvement over the original Security Breach to the point where someone would wonder why Steel Wool didn’t simply play to their strengths the first time around.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Stubs - Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer (2023) starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh. Directed by Christopher Nolan. Screenplay by Christopher Nolan. Based on the book: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan. Run time: 180 minutes US/UK Color Biography, Thriller

In mankind, there have been moments when things seemed to change. Most of us would say 9/11 was such a day. Life in the US has not been the same since. Another such moment was the birth of the atomic bomb in 1945 and its creator, J. Robert Oppenheimer, is the subject of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the bottom half of Barbenheimer, a duo of films that hit US cinemas on July 21, 2023.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Stubs - Barbie

Barbie (2023) starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt, Rhea Perlman Narrator: Helen Mirren. Directed by Greta Gerwig. Screenplay by Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach. Based on Barbie by Mattel. Produced by David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Robbie Brenner. Run time: 114 minutes. Color. USA. Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure

Note: This review contains spoilers for Barbie.

The summer of 2023 may well be remembered as the summer of Barbie, as it, perhaps surprisingly, turned out to be the biggest movie of the year. The film’s boffo box office, which is already over $1 Billion worldwide when this is written, had a bit of a built-in audience as it is based on the iconic fashion doll invented by Ruth Handler in 1959, with over a billion sold to date.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has evidently had an impact on the animation industry, as it led to DreamWorks Animation taking risks with The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. This new wave of experimentation has now hit Nickelodeon, with the latest installment in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise, Mutant Mayhem, featuring a unique style not seen before in other TMNT media or even any major animated films of recent memory. As a TMNT fan whose entry point was the IDW comic (and whose personal favorite iteration is the criminally-underrated Rise of the TMNT cartoon), I had mixed feelings on the announcement due to producer Seth Rogen’s reputation, though the visual style and premise were interesting enough that I still went to see it on opening day, ultimately leaving curious to see more.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Stubs - Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) starring Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Erik Jendresen; Based on Mission: Impossible by Bruce Geller. Run time: 163 minutes. Color. USA Espionage, Action

In a summer of blockbuster films, and, of course, sequels, comes Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, the seventh in a series that dates back to 1996. The last film was Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018). If you're like me, five years, due to COVID, is a long time between engagements and some of the relationships established in that film have faded for me. However, the central core of the IMF group, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) return; a secret rogue group of a secret rogue organization. These three have each other's back but no one has theirs, you know the drill.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Tron: Identity (PC)

Around the release of Tron: Legacy, Disney had given the franchise a good amount of legacy support, only for the IP, and plans for a third film, to be put on ice following the under-performance of Tomorrowland. In recent years, and following a string of rumors, Disney is officially bringing Tron back with a third film, Tron: Ares. Prior to this, a new game in the franchise was revealed at a recent D23 Expo, a visual novel known as Tron: Identity, which instantly caught my interest due to its interesting premise and a lack of Tron content in the interim, though I opted to wait until it was at a discount through the most recent Steam Summer Sale (with some Steam Wallet funds applied) before playing it. While I did overall enjoy the game, I’m not sure it would have been worth it if I bought it at full price.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking Glass, is quite possibly one of the best-known works of English literature, having received a number of adaptations and reinterpretations in the centuries to follow. Perhaps one of the better-known versions of the story is the animated 1951 Alice in Wonderland film from Walt Disney Productions, likely being one of the first things people might think of if they haven’t read the books, if not two live-action films from the same company. While the movie was critically-panned upon release, it has since been regarded as a Disney classic, and is one of my personal favorites from the Animated Canon. After revisiting it again in light of other, more recent reinterpretations of Alice in Wonderland, including two from Disney themselves, I would say that the film still holds up and is well deserving of its “classic” status.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

A Snow Globe Christmas

Every year, the market gets flooded with an influx of Christmas films. So many Christmas films, in fact, that many of them share similar titles, premises and even whole plotlines. This close similarity brought us to two films, Snowglobe and A Snow Globe Christmas, both about a woman who gets magically transported to a snow globe world and both featuring the same actress, Christina Milian, in two completely different roles. Though we typically shy away from relatively lesser-known Christmas films, our curiosity got the better of us and we ended up watching both of these in particular just to see how differently they executed the same premise. Without spoiling too much, we can safely say that one of them actually turned out fairly decent and the other was A Snow Globe Christmas.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Stubs - Snowglobe


(2007) Starring: Christina Milian, Josh Cooke, Matt Keeslar. Directed by Ron Lagomarsino. Teleplay by Garrett Frawley, Brian Turner. Produced by Jody Brockway, Craig McNeil. Color. Run time: 90 minutes. USA TV Movie, Christmas, Fantasy, Romance

While Hallmark seems to embrace Christmas harder than any other broadcaster/cable channel, they are by no means the only ones making Christmas movies. The Family channel, which has changed names several times, launched its own Christmas programming block in 1996 with “25 Days of Christmas” in 1996. During its incarnation as ABC Family, they released the TV Movie Snowglobe, starring Christina Milian, a singer turned actor.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

An American Tail

Although Don Bluth’s directorial debut, The Secret of NIMH, didn’t do well financially, with a box office of $14.7 million against a budget of $7 million, it attracted the attention of Stephen Spielberg, who collaborated with Don Bluth and Universal to produce An American Tail. Despite production troubles, which included creative differences and Spielberg learning just how complicated animation actually is, the film, notably co-produced in Ireland, released in late 1986 and made $104.5 million on a budget of about $9 million, which made it the most successful non-Disney animated film at the time. Critics were mixed on the film at the time, but its popularity would increase over the years, namely from those who watched it as children and retained fond memories of it. We never watched it ourselves until over thirty years later, which gave us more a fresh perspective and the opinion that while the traditional animation is still impressive to this day, the story is a bit choppy.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Note: This review contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

We’ve made it no secret that our enthusiasm for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has waned since the shift to more of a lifestyle brand following Avengers: Endgame. Each successive film (and one TV show) we had seen in Phase Four didn’t do much to keep us invested, with little enjoyment outside of Spider-Man: No Way Home (which still requires seeing almost 30 other movies for the full effect) and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. As such, we had little interest in the films from Phase Five outside of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Despite this, however, we went back and watched Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Quantumania) solely to see how they introduced the main villain of the current Saga, though we did so through Disney+ because we had no plans on actually paying money to watch it in a theater. Unfortunately, we quickly regretted the decision, as the film embodied issues that have plagued the MCU since the beginning, but were exacerbated post-Endgame and never properly addressed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie (PS5)

As part of Bandai Namco’s recent efforts to remaster old Namco games to bring back old and negelcted IPs, Katamari Damacy was reissued through Katamari Damacy Reroll in 2018, bringing the fun and addicting game to a new generation. Following this, a remaster of the second game in the series and the only other game to be directed by Keita Takahashi, We Love Katamari, was announced in the form of We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie (WLK Reroll), including extra content not found in the original release. Having played the original before, I was curious about the new content and went for a PS5 copy of the game, primarily because of how much I associate the brand with PlayStation, and found it to be the superior way to play the game.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch

Note: This review contains spoilers for Lilo & Stitch.

When Disney releases a hit movie, it’s not uncommon to give that success legacy support in the form of a sequel (often direct-to-video but sometimes theatrical) or a TV series, often both. Such was the case with Lilo & Stitch, a film so popular at the time that it spawned a multimedia franchise with four films (including the original), a 65-episode animated series (Lilo & Stitch: The Series), a Japanese anime (Stitch!), a Chinese donghua (Stitch & Ai) and numerous English and Japanese books and video games. Although the wider franchise has faded into relative obscurity, the original film is still celebrated to this day, with Stitch himself appearing as a summon in Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III and serving as the subject of Disney’s annual holiday 626 Day.

In honor of this year’s 626 Day, we decided to take a look at one of the DTV sequels, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, animated by Disneytoon Studios. Although it’s not the second film released, despite the number in the title (it’s actually the third), we chose this one because it’s the only one not directly tied to Lilo & Stitch: The Series and is the second film chronologically, acting as a midquel between the original film and Stitch! The Movie. Unlike most Disney DTV sequels, this one does a decent job of capturing the spirit of the original film. Like most Disney DTV sequels, however, it still falls short of the overall quality of the original.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Stubs - The Sin of Madelon Claudet

The Sin of Madelon Claudet
(1931) Starring Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Robert Young. Directed by Edgar Selwyn. Screenplay by Charles MacArthur. Based on the play The Lullaby by Edward Knoblock (New York, 17 Sep 1923). Produced by Harry Rapf. Run time: 74 minutes. USA. Black and White. Pre-Code Drama, Academy Awards

Helen Hayes was known as the “First Lady of the Theatre” but she was more than that, having won not only the “Triple Crown of Acting”, a competitive Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award in the acting categories, she was also one of only 18 people who have won an EGOT. Hayes would, in fact win two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actress for Airport (1970) but also one for Best Actress for her role in The Sin of Madelon Claudet.

Based on a play, The Lullaby by Edward Knoblock, Hayes was not the first choice for the role, Kay Francis was. But Francis rejected the offer, stating "I would have to be out of my mind to play that silly French prostitute. Why that dumb little bunny actually walked the streets so that she could buy clothes for her son. Phooey! How can you generate sympathy for such a shallow woman?" While Francis was ultimately wrong about that, the first previews seemed to indicate that she may have not been.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Katamari Damacy Reroll (PS4)


With the increasing complexity of the gaming landscape at the time, director Keita Takahashi created Katamari Damacy with the intent of creating something simpler that was also fun, though he had difficulty getting it off the ground due to him being in Namco’s art department at the time. When the game first released for the PS2 in 2004, his efforts paid off, spawning a long-running franchise across multiple console generations, only for it to becomes largely dormant following Touch My Katamari on the PS Vita in 2012 before coming back into full swing in 2020 with Katamari Damacy Reroll, a remaster of the original game for then-modern hardware. When I first played the original game on the PS2, I was instantly hooked by its simple, yet addictive nature, leading to it becoming one of my all-time favorite series. Due to the large gap of time following the PS Vita game, I became instantly excited by Katamari Damacy Reroll (Reroll) when it released for the Switch, but ended up holding out until it received a PS4 release, as it was my preferred platform anyway since I more heavily associate the series with the PlayStation brand, though the timing of its release led me to not play it until recently when its sequel, We Love Katamari, received a remaster of its own. After having not played the game for so long, Katamari Damacy Reroll served as a great reminder of why I loved the series in the first place.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Stubs - The Flash

The Flash (2023) starring Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Michael Keaton. Directed by Andy Muschietti. Screenplay by Christina Hodson. Based on Characters from DC. Produced by Barbara Muschietti, Michael Disco. Run time: 144 minutes. Color. USA. Superheroes, DCEU 

In the wake of the recent shake ups at DC and after a litany of charges and allegations against its star, Ezra Miller, The Flash speeds its way into the summer film race at theaters across the nation. And, of course, the biggest question hanging over it is "is it good enough to make people forget about its star's legal troubles?"

Saturday, June 17, 2023



While Pixar had a sort of “Golden Age”, that being the time between Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 3 (2010), these films didn’t necessarily come without struggle. Such was the case for Ratatouille, the studio’s eight feature, which saw Brad Bird take over as writer and director after the original creator, Jan Pinkava, left Pixar during the film’s early development. After about two years of work, which included story rewrites and extensive research into cooking and Parisian culture, the film saw the light of day in 2007 to critical acclaim, successful box office returns and the Academy Award for Best Animted Feature (beating out Persepolis and Surf’s Up). Today, Ratatouille remains not only a classic animated film, but an enjoyable celebration of the joy of creation, particularly through the power of cooking.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Three Lesbians in a Barrow

A change in gameplay can sometimes be beneficial for a game series, though it still helps to try and keep things fresh as it goes. A follow-up to The Testimony of Trixie Glimmer Smith (TToTGS), Three Lesbians in a Barrow (TLiaB) is another visual novel that was included in the same bundle as the previous game and Parsnip and expands further on those games’ universe while trying something new for the series. Though shorter, TLiaB accomplishes this goal, even if the execution isn’t perfect.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Testimony of Trixie Glimmer Smith

Genre changes between games in a series aren’t uncommon, but are still notable when they do happen. Case in point, whereas Parsnip is a point-and-click game, its sequel, The Testimony of Trixie Glimmer Smith (TToTGS) makes the jump to a visual novel format. Acquired through the same bundle where I obtained Parsnip, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it aside from its nature as a sequel. While it still has some hiccups along the way, I found myself surprised by what it was able to accomplish with the shift in gameplay style.

Monday, June 12, 2023


Note: This review contains spoilers for Parsnip.

If you think the oddly-specific horror game subgenre of “cute game turns out to be dark” has been oversaturated by now, you’re not alone there. In a sea of games included in a massive bundle, Parsnip stood out to me mainly due to its appealing art style, to where I thought to download and play it along with its two follow-up games included in the bundle. Once I finally got around to playing Parsnip, I was legitimately unaware that it was one of those types of aforementioned horror games, and while it is effective on a first playthrough, the game is not without flaws.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Stubs - Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia (2009) Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond. Directed by Nora Ephron. Screenplay by Nora Ephron. Based on My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme, and Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, which was based on her blog The Julie/Julia Project. Produced by Nora Ephron, Laurence Mark, Eric Steel, Amy Robinson. Run time: 123 minutes. Color. USA. Biographical, Drama, Comedy.

For someone who has been dead for nearly 18 years, Julia Child is hot. Not only is there a successful series about her TV Series, Julia on HBO Max, but recently CNN ran a special about her, also called Julia, in May of last year. No better time to rewatch Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron’s final film and the first film to be based on a blog, though one step removed.

Julia Child is best known for her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her long-running public television series, The French Chef (1963–1966; 1970–1973). Not only did she change cooking in America, but she also was a larger-than-life personality. She got into cooking because she loved eating and loved eating French food. When she couldn’t find a French cookbook in English, she took classes at the Cordon Bleu. A chance meeting with Simone Beck, who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle, lead to Child’s involvement with the project.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Following the success and positive reception to the 2018 Bumblebee film, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro began to rethink the direction of the live-action Transformers universe, including a mix of live-action and animated films. Around this time, following a period of G1 oversaturation, Hasbro seemed to collectively remember that other portions of the brand exist and that not everyone started with or has nostalgia for the 1984 version, and so the first of these films, the live-action Rise of the Beasts, borrows characters and concepts from Beast Wars, the first new iteration of Transformers from 1996. While I do have some experience with the Beast Wars cartoon, as well as the Beast Machines sequel series, I will admit that I don’t have any clear memory of it, since I watched it on DVD when I was a kid, and out of order at that, plus it was not my gateway into the franchise (for me it was the 2001 Robots in Disguise series). Still, I became curious about it due to how good the last film was and that the director, Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II), is a fan of Beast Wars, giving me some hope for its quality despite trailers presenting an increasingly-worryingly complex plot. After getting to attend a Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Early Access Fan Event screening at AMC, my fears were assuaged and it turned out far better than I could have expected.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Second Look - Transformers: The Last Knight

Note: This review contains spoilers for Transformers: The Last Knight.

When I first watched Transformers: The Last Knight (TLK), I was able to view it in a theater one day early as part of AMC’s Optimus Prime Time event, which included a special lanyard and a T-shirt, both of which I still own even after having since downsized my Transformers collection. My original review of the film, which I wrote that night and posted the following day, was a lot more positive, likely influenced by having seen it in a theater that appeared to be filled with other Transformers fans. After having rewatched Age of Extinction (AOE), I decided to give The Last Knight another shot to round out my reevaluation of the live-action films prior to Bumblebee. This time, however, my view on it is a lot more negative.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Second Look - Transformers: Age of Extinction

Note: This review contains spoilers for Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Three years after Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a fourth live-action Transformers film, subtitled Age of Extinction, was released with the intent of kickstarting a new trilogy. When I first watched this film in the theater, and on subsequent viewings, my outlook on it was generally positive, as I had found it to be vast improvement over the first three installments to the point where I saw it as the best of the series. After Bumblebee proved to be a genuinely good movie in its own right, I decided to go back and reevaluate how I felt about this movie, viewing it through a Blu-ray release that featured the presentation of the IMAX version. While I still like it on some level, I noticed more of its flaws this time around.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Note: This review contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Of the more well-known superheroes from Marvel and DC, Marvel’s Spider-Man is one that’s no stranger to adaptations across TV and film. Some have had a lasting ripple effect, like Japanese Spider-Man inspiring the giant robots in Super Sentai (aka Power Rangers) or how the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man (2002) movie helped make superhero films more viable at the box office. Recently, 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse made a huge splash in the world of animation thanks to its well-written story and its unique art style that perfectly replicated a living comic book and demonstrated that a CG film with such an approach could succeed at the box office. Into the Spider-Verse’s success has inspired experimentation in other animated productions, as seen in Sony Animation’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines and DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, as well the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, to name a few.

While time will tell how well other films inspired by Into the Spider-Verse will age, the film itself has remained enjoyable every time we’ve seen it, thanks in part to the continued discovery of new details in both the animation and story. Naturally, we immediately had an interest in the sequel, Across the Spider-Verse, from the millisecond we saw the original trailer (the one that initially labeled it “Part One” before that style of release fell out of favor), leading us to do what we normally haven’t since COVID-19 and watch a film on its opening weekend. Fortunately, Across the Spider-Verse proved itself worthy of its pre-release hype, though its nature as half a full story does affect the experience.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Stubs - Five Star Final

Five Star Final (1931) Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Marian Marsh, H. B. Warner, Anthony Bushell Directed by Mervyn LeRoy Screenplay by Louis Weitzenkorn. Based on the play Five Star Final by Louis Weitzenkorn (New York, 30 Dec 1930). Produced by Hal Wallis (uncredited). USA Run time: 89 minutes. Black and White. Drama.

Warner Bros. was a studio that didn’t shy away from social protest films. No other studio would have released such films as I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), The Public Enemy (1931) and Heroes for Sale (1933). Five Star Final represents a different kind of protest film, that against tabloid journalism, an issue that seems as fresh today as it did in 1931.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake (PS4)

When developer Purple Lamp made SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated in 2020, I became curious about their next SpongeBob endeavor, The Cosmic Shake, since I overall liked how their previous game turned out. However, I didn’t know that the game had come out earlier this year until I saw reviews come out, since I hadn’t been aware of any release date prior. Once I finally got a PS4 copy, which I played through a PS5, I generally enjoyed it, though not quite as much as Rehydrated.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Second Look - Super Mario Bros. (Film)

For the longest time, most live-action video game movies haven’t been of the best quality, though the first of them, the infamous 1993 Super Mario Bros. film, didn’t really set a good precedent, mainly due to how little it resembles the source material. While more recent efforts have been getting better, it can be interesting to look back on this film to see what went wrong, and with the release of the more faithful animated film, now is as good a time as any. While I had been wanting to re-review this film anyway since I was not completely satisfied with my first attempt, it has become much harder to do so, at least if you live in the US, since it cannot be streamed anywhere and the more recent Blu-ray release has become more difficult to come by. Fortunately, it is still possible to get a cheap DVD copy, which allowed me to watch the movie again with fresher eyes after having not seen it in over a decade. Unfortunately, it’s still not that great of a movie even on its own merits, although it’s easier to see why it has attracted a cult following in the 30 years since its release.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons (Film)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Dungeons & Dragons (Film) and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

While modern audiences may be more familiar with the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) tabletop game nowadays, including the recent Honor Among Thieves film, few may be aware that there was another D&D film, simply titled Dungeons & Dragons, released all the way back in 2000. The backstory behind the film is actually interesting, but the short version is that director Courtney Solomon obtained the film rights from TSR, the original D&D publisher, when he was 19. However, the film wouldn’t come to fruition for ten years, partly from most of Solomon’s ambitions, including securing big names like Francis Ford Coppola or James Cameron in the director’s chair, either rejected or toned down. As such, he had to direct it himself through his own production company, Sweetpea Entertainment, resulting in a critical and box office flop that didn’t even make back its $45 million budget. Having finally watched the film ourselves, born from curiosity after watching and enjoying Honor Among Thieves, we can personally confirm that this take on the property is best left in the dungeon where you found it.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Stubs - Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant. Directed by Jonathan Goldsteinl, John Francis Daley. Screenplay by  Jonathan Goldsteinl, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio. Based on Dungeons & Dragons by Hasbro. Produced by Jeremy Latcham, Brian Goldner, Nick Meyer Run time: 134 minutes. Color. USA Fantasy, Action, Heist, Comedy

Dungeons & Dragons (commonly abbreviated as D&D or DnD) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The game was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). It has been published by Wizards of the Coast (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 1997. The game was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry. (with thanks to Wikipedia).

None of that is important to your enjoyment of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a film which opened to good reviews on March 31, 2023. I will say I was intrigued from the commercials as the film was presented as having a fun vibe.

I know that parts of the story are taken from the board game, but it plays more as a quest film with fantastical elements. There are what one would expect; magical creatures and evil witches but also conmen and petty thieves. In this case, there is a certain honor among some of the thieves, hence the title, as well as betrayal by others.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Angry Birds Movie

While Rovio’s Angry Birds franchise may have dipped in popularity in recent years, it was a global phenomenon when the original game released back in 2009. For a few years after, you couldn’t escape its presence, especially once its popularity spawned a number of sequels, including crossovers with the Rio film duology and the Star Wars film series. Despite this popularity, the announcement of an animated film in 2012 came with some hesitation, as that would mean it could release years after the series had already peaked in relevance. This didn’t stop the film from finally releasing in 2016, however, to mixed response from critics while still making $352.3 million, nearly five times its $73 million budget. Though I was curious as to how it turned out, I wouldn’t watch the film until a recent flight, where I was forced to watch it on my phone (and the suboptimal conditions necessitated the use of subtitles). Considering The Angry Birds movie released years before Pokémon Detective Pikachu in 2019 and Sonic the Hedgehog in 2020, it’s certainly not one of the worst adaptations of a video game, but it’s definitely not flawless either.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

In 2013, Sega entered a three-game exclusivity contract with Nintendo for Sonic the Hedgehog content, which ended in 2014 with the release of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U and Shattered Crystal on 3DS. These two games also marked the beginning of the short-lived Sonic Boom sub-franchise, for which I was formally introduced to through the cartoon series that the first two games were supposed to be a prequel to. While I had heard all the negative reviews of Rise of Lyric, including info on its rocky development, I couldn’t play it for the longest time due to not owning a Wii U at that point, but I didn’t really understand why the franchise failed to last that long since I thought the cartoon and 11-issue Archie comic were of good quality. When the Wii U and 3DS eShops were announced to be shutting down, I finally got a Wii U so I could play some games that were still stuck on the system, Rise of Lyric included. After finally getting to play such an infamous game, I now fully understand why the Sonic Boom franchise fell off the way it did, as the game leaves a rather terrible first impression.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal

When the short-lived Sonic Boom franchise was first introduced, it began with a pair of games for Wii U and 3DS, respectively titled Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal. While I was a fan of Sonic Boom while it lasted, and have since tried to own whatever media related to it that I can find, I didn’t have a Wii U at the time Rise of Lyric came out and by the time I got a 3DS, I was only able to play the Shattered Crystal sequel, Fire & Ice. I did, however, go more out of my way to track down both games physically when their respective systems’ eShops were shutting down, deciding later to play the 3DS game first out of boredom on a trip due to its advertised connectivity with the Wii U game. After finishing the game faster than I expected, I found it to be pretty decent for what it was, but not quite as good as Fire & Ice.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Stubs - Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 3 - Best MCU Since Endgame?

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3
(2023) starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Maria Bakalova, Sylvester Stallone. Directed by James Gunn. Screenplay by James Gunn. Based on Marvel Comics. Produced by Kevin Feige. Run time: 150 minutes. USA. Superhero, MCU

As he departs for DC, James Gunn leaves the MCU and Guardians of the Galaxy with what may be the best MCU film since Endgame (2019), which is four years and approximately one and a half phases later. This says something about Gunn's prowess, as well as the relative weakness of MCU fare of late. As it is, this sequel comes about six years after Vol. 2, which itself was not one of the greats.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Stubs - Dick Tracy (1945)

Dick Tracy (1945) Starring: Morgan Conway, Anne Jeffreys, Mike Mazurki, Jane Greer. Directed by William Berke. Screenplay by Eric Taylor. Based on the comic strip "Dick Tracy" created by Chester Gould, distributed by Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate (Oct 4, 1931--). Produced by Herman Schlom. Run time: 61 minutes. Black and White. USA. Drama, Police, Film Noir

While Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1995) big budget adaptation might be the best-known film bearing the name of Chester Gould’s famous police detective, it is not the first film version. In 1937, Republic Pictures made the first of four serials based on the comic strip, starring Ralph Byrd.

In 1945, after paying $10,000 for the rights, RKO Pictures hired Broadway actor Morgan Conway to play the character in the first of four films, this one called, Dick Tracy. The film is not based on an existing Dick Tracy story and was made on a low budget.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Though Bernard Waber may fly under many people’s radars as far as children’s book authors go, he is best known for the Lyle series, detailing the adventures of an anthropomorphic crocodile. I will admit I had not read the books when I was a kid, but I was still aware enough of them as I got older that a film adaptation of the first two books The House on East 88th Street and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, taking the name from the second (Lyle), got me at least mildly curious about seeing it when it first came out. While I did not see it in a theater, I ultimately found an opportunity when it offered as an entertainment option on a flight, albeit in less-than-ideal conditions since I had to watch it through my phone, which also had some display issues with darker colors. Despite these circumstances, I ultimately enjoyed it overall, with the movie even getting me curious about reading the books.

Saturday, April 22, 2023


“What if mankind had to leave Earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot?” This was the question Andrew Stanton posed at a now famous lunch in 1994, where, following the success of Toy Story, he and fellow Pixar pioneers Jon Lasseter, Pete Doctor and the late Joe Ranft discussed ideas for their next projects. The films that came out of this lunch were A Bug’s Life, Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL-E, the last of which had a much longer development time, finally seeing the light of day in 2008. While longtime Pixar fans may feel divided on some apsects of WALL-E, the film received critical acclaim on release and has not only since been preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, but has also seen a re-release through the Criterion Collection, the first Pixar film to do so.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Mario is a character who needs no introduction. Even if you’ve never played a video game before, chances are you recognize the Italian plumber, or at the very least heard of him or any of the literally hundreds of games he’s been in. He’s also no stranger to adaptations, with three dedicated TV series (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World) and two films (the animated Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! and the live-action Super Mario Bros.) under his belt. After a nearly 30-year absence from the silver screen, a second theatrical film, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, was announced with animation studio Illumination at the helm. Considering Illumination’s rather contentious output following Despicable Me, their first feature, their involvement invited some understandable skepticism that continued even during the first round of marketing. Mario fans can rest assured, however, knowing that in spite of the studio behind it, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, while not flawless, is indeed the film they’ve been waiting for.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Stubs - The Real Charlie Chaplin

The Real Charlie Chaplin (2021) Narrated by Pearl Mackie. Starring Jeff Rawle, Paul Ryan, Anne Rosenfeld, Dominic Marsh. Directed by Peter Middleton, James Spinney. Written by Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton, James Spinney. Produced by John Battsek, Mike Brett, Jo Jo Ellison, Steve Jamison, Ben Limberg. Run time: 114 minutes. Color/Black and White. USA. Documentary.

With few options for entertainment on a recent flight, I happened across this documentary. Being a fan of Charlie Chaplin, I was interested by the title. With someone like Charlie Chaplin, the real can and does, in this film, refer to different facets of the man’s life. Primarily, there is separating Chaplin from the Tramp character that he invented while working for Mack Sennet’s Keystone studio.Then, there’s Chaplin’s Tramp vs. the apparently many impersonators, including those who, in essence, made their own Tramp films. And then, there's really who is Charlie Chaplin, the man himself.