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.