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 VerdĂș, 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.