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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Review Hub - Hitman

Among the stealth game series out there, Hitman stands out for its sandbox-style gameplay that lets players approach their objective however they wish. Although the original Codename 47 plays much closer to an action game with stealth elements, what came afterwards quickly evolved and learned how to really tap into its raw potential. For better or worse, the series also hasn't been afraid to try new things while staying faithful to its core identity. Whatever the future may hold for Agent 47, it's clear that he's really made an impact, as his adventures continue inspiring others to this day.

Below is a list of links to every Hitman review on this blog, listed in order of release and separated by category.

Original Series

World of Assassination


Saturday, April 8, 2023

Puss in Boots (2011) - Somebody Once Told Me...

Only a year after the release of Shrek Forever After, DreamWorks began releasing a series of spin-offs starring the supporting character Puss in Boots, who more or less took over the franchise for over a decade. The first entry, simply titled Puss in Boots, came out in 2011 during the studio’s partnership with Paramount, who notably distributed Kung Fu Panda, a film that influenced them to focus more on strong storytelling over celebrity cameos and pop culture references (among other aspects brought on by the success of Shrek). While I was aware of Puss in Boots, I didn’t actually watch it until the strength of its sequel, The Last Wish, fueled my curiosity in how well it stacks up by comparison. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the original isn’t as good, though it’s still pretty good on its own merits and helps demonstrate that even early on, DreamWorks’ pivot was for the better.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog is no stranger to trying genres outside of traditional platforming, from early efforts like the pinball-based Sonic Spinball all the way to the recent open world of Sonic Frontiers. Most unusual, however, was the free April Fools Day 2023 release of a point-and-click visual novel, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, which Sega jokingly presented as a response to fan feedback. Despite its nature as a self-parody, however, it’s clear that the project had a lot of heart put into it, resulting in a very enjoyable experience regardless.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Shrek Forever After - The Years Start Coming and They Don't Stop Coming


Following the release of Shrek 2, I will admit I originally didn’t have much of a desire to invest in the series any further, mainly due to overexposure of the second film and the ads making the third look bad. After watching Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, however, I decided to go back and fill in some story gaps. While I would normally continue with Shrek the Third, I was convinced that I could easily skip it and not miss anything, and so jumped straight to Shrek Forever After, which was originally billed as the final chapter of Shrek’s story prior to the announcement of the elusive Shrek 5. Not only did Shrek Forever After prove to be far better than I anticipated, it seemed to confirm that DreamWorks Animation’s change in story direction was ultimately for the better.