Monday, November 26, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph (First Impressions) (Movie Review)

    
     “Wreck-It Ralph” is the latest CG animated Disney movie sense 2010’s “Tangled” and it’s a rare treat to see Disney step out of there familiar form of storytelling that isn’t centered around fairytales. This movie’s themed around arcade games and it might just be the best game themed movie I’ve ever seen. Most video game themed movies like “The Wizard” or “Spy Kids 3: Game Over” focus solely on product placement or flashy visual effects and while this film certainly has a lot of fun offering creative video game worlds and colorful effects the focus is all on the characters.
    The premise goes like this, Wreck-it Ralph is a villain in an arcade video game but he’s tired of being the bad guy, so he goes game jumping into other video games to earn a medial, that way he can proof to be a hero and gain respect from his fellow video game characters. While entering one specific game he meets a little girl who’s a game cliché and wants to prove she’s as good as the other game characters, a friend ship begins and they go off on an exciting little adventure while also going on a journey of self discovery. There are plenty of sub-plots, including a virus that’s destroying arcade games, a surprise villain and characters from other arcade games that are trying to get Ralph back to his game. A simple premise with familiar themes but there’s so much creativity, imagination, character depth and competent story telling that make this film such a gem.
    These two lead characters are very likable and while the message they convey in the end is generic, it’s still good enough to give these great characters more depth and it proves to be the engine that runs this train. Having said that, this is a very entertaining family film that can appeal to both the young and old, the jokes are very clever and the video game worlds that the film has to offer are a lot of fun to experience. It gives you a nice feeling that you’ve been whisked away to this really imaginative world, with so many colorful and elaborate locations. The first fifteen minutes are quiet reminiscent of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, where as in that movie there were a lot of famous cartoon characters all in the background of the film that had no real part in the story, “Wreck-It Ralph” features a lot of famous video game characters like Sonic, Pac man and others, but only as extras that give life to this whole video game world. So you really shouldn’t go into this movie expecting a big cross over like “Rise of the Guardians” or “The Avengers” because it’s not that kind of film.
    All the same, this is a very colorful, clever and entertaining family film that’s certain to please audiences of all ages. Little kids can have fun with the visuals and all the different worlds while parents (young enough to have grown up with video games) can have nostalgic flashbacks on that simple joy of playing video games as a child. It’s an all around great family film that stands as one of Disney’s finest CG animated movies. I give “Wreck-It Ralph” 4 stars.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Nostalgia Critic: My favorite episodes and biggest laugh out loud moments

 
      Even though I’ve always had my own opinion on films and have always wanted to share them with others, my inspiration for reviewing films came from other popular reviewers like Siskel and Ebert. But my biggest influences came from Internet reviews like “Confused Mathew” or “Cinemassacre” and a personal favorite of mine has always been the “Nostalgia Critic” from “That Guy with the Glasses. Com”. This show’s sort of a fun mix between film reviewing and a laugh out loud comedy show. He focuses on old films that he grew up with, preferably the bad ones because he can be as silly and as funny as he wants with those. Then occasionally, he’ll review something positive from his past and those are the ones that inspire me to review movies and shows that I grew up with. Whether it’s one of his funny reviews or his honestly nostalgic reviews, this show was a lot of fun to watch and now after roughly five years on the internet, this show has reached its final episode. So to celebrate, here are my personal, top 11 favorite Nostalgia Critic episodes. Why top 11, because every single list of his was a top 11 list and in order to do a proper tribute, I’m going to have to make this a top 11 list as well.   
11. NC reviews "Casper"
 The Nostalgia Critic has had a couple of really fun Halloween reviews, but nothing quiet takes the cake like his review of “Casper”. The movie itself was an okay film that I grew up with but the jokes all work really well. Of cores the joke that makes this episode stand out is that a cartoon Casper is constantly picking at him for reviewing his film. This leads to one of his greatest climaxes ever where the Nostalgia Critic suits up in a Ghostbusters costume, battles the Casper cartoon and chases him down to a video game expo, then he has a full mob of costumed people behind him, he splashes in a pool, it’s just all out, wild fun. 
10. AVGN VS. NC: The Final Battle (in 2 parts) 
Aside from reviewing movies and constructing top 11 lists, sometimes the Nostalgia Critic will just have a random, special episode with guest characters and odd, comedic storytelling. One of his best long running specials was in the very first season of the show, where he was literally at war with another popular comedic, internet character called the Angry Video Game Nerd. This was a fun little running joke that these two had a grudge against each other but the highlight was the last episode, simply titled “The Final Battle”. It’s just this crazy one on one fight between these two over the top, comedic guys, with lots of flashy effects, lots of really quick jokes and it was such of fun conclusion to this running series of episodes.       
9. NC reviews "The NeverEnding Story III: Escape to Fantasia" 
This was one of those movies that I grew up with and hated with a passion, so it was great fun to see the Nostalgia Critic expose this film for the unbelievably terrible movie that it is. The jokes are all really funny, especially some new cartoony jokes, like the Critics jaw cartoonishly dropping to the floor at the shock of just how bad the film gets. It’s one of those bad movies that he can really have a lot of fun with and it all leads to the biggest breakout of rage as he literally destroys a DVD copy of the movie with a crowbar.
8. "Batman" (1989) VS. "The Dark Knight" 
His old vs. new episodes are terrific specials where he compares an original movie to its remake or reimagining and my favorite is his comparison of the original “Batman” to “The Dark Knight”.  His comparisons between the two films are interesting, he brings up a couple of things from the original that I had never really considered before and it’s always fun to have a big Batman themed video. Even though I didn’t agree with opinion on which of these two is better, I still thought his explanations were good and it had me consistently interested in what he had to say.     
7. NC’s Top 11 Underrated Nostalgic Classics 
One of his best top 11 reviews by far because this one really takes me back to my childhood and it’s such a rare treat to see the Nostalgia Critic put aside all the silly jokes and honestly come forth with a discussion on old films that he feels deserve more attention. While I don’t exactly agree with all the films on this list, I certainly agree with most of them, especially the film at number 1 on this list and it’s also just a really nice treat to look over all these great films that people hardly ever notice. It’s warm, it’s cheerful and it perfectly lives up to the title of Nostalgia. 
6. The Return of the Nostalgic Commercials: "We'll Be Right Back..."
 This was part of a trilogy of episodes where the Nostalgia Critic literally just looks at odd and silly commercials that we grew up with as kids and it’s such a joy to see just how funny some of these advertisements can get. Personally, it was this middle episode titled “We’ll Be Right Back” that had me laughing the most. This one had all the really funny commercials to look at like the “Bubble Thing” product and this crazy kid that loves Nerf guns. But the big advertisement that steals this special is the “Wonder Boner” advertisement, I can’t even express in words how funny that was. Overall, his commercial specials where an absolute joy to watch and it was this middle episode that easily stands as one of the NC’s best experiences.
5. NC reviews "Pokémon: The First Movie" 
I’ll always regard the first Pokémon movie as one of the absolute worst experiences of my child hood, even as a kid this film sucked the big one. Honestly, of all the bad movies that the Nostalgia Critic reviewed, there was no greater joy then seeing him bash this film. The jokes he makes in this review are brilliant, the delivery is great, and this was actually one of his very first episodes that got me hooked into watching the show. A lot of his early reviews were really good because they were all for fun, without as much screaming and yelling. But it’s this review that I’ll always regard as his best, classic review.    
4. That Guy With The Glasses: Team Brawl 
Now this was something special, at the end of his very first year on the website, the NC celebrates by giving us this mega episode with all these different characters and reviews from his website and other sites getting together for this ridicules epic battle. At the time, I never would have expected to see something this big, this crazy and this over the top on an internet show. There are lots of crazy effects, lots of fun slapstick fighting and lots of terrific guest characters, including the Angry Video Game Nerd, who had one last fight with the NC. It’s too good to be real and it was just too fun to have for just one year, that’s why at the end of every season, there’d be another yearly anniversary episode that brought all these silly internet characters together.   
3. The complete Disneycember Marathon 
By the time his last season came around, a lot of his reviews were just becoming stupid and even a bit unwatchable. But then in December 2011, he does something outstanding called Disneycember. This was a series of short reviews of every single classic animated Disney movie and this time, he reviewed them as himself (Doug Walker) as opposed to the Nostalgia Critic character. I’m a big fan of classic animated Disney movies and while I didn’t agree with every opinion of his regarding some of these films, it still felt like one of the most truly Nostalgic things he’s ever done. I loved listening to his honest opinions of all these classic movies, I loved how short and simple they were and I’ve actually always wanted someone to just go down the list of every traditional animated Disney movie and share their thoughts on them, so this was like a mini dream come true for me.   
2. NC’s Top 11 Coolest Clichés 
This is my favorite of his top 11 lists because it really felt like a celebration of things that we love to see in movies. There are hardly any jokes or rants, it’s just a perfectly loving tribute to the stuff we enjoy in film and it’s a rare case in which I agreed with just about everything he listed. It’s just a really fun video and it’s the one NC episode that I find myself re-watching the most.
1. Suburban Knights (The 3 Year Anniversary Special in 7 parts) 


 Unlike the first year anniversary, which was just one big, fun, fight, this third year anniversary was an epic little comedy adventure that spanned over seven parts. The premise goes like this, the Nostalgia Critic and his team of reviewers from his website dress up as classic fantasy characters from movies and video games, they then head out on a hilarious and relatively exciting little adventure filled with lots of fun battle scenes, crazy jokes, great music, nice little character moments, including some hilarious new characters and an awesome villain character. The story is surprisingly competent for an internet made movie and while other yearly anniversaries would be a comedic adventure, they never reached the same highlights that this special has to offer. I love the whole medieval adventure theme, the passing is great and it just seems to feature every great thing that the Nostalgia Critic has to offer.  
 

Runner Up’s include: Doug's Top 10 Movies He Likes But Everybody Else Hates, NC’s Moonwalker review, To Boldly Flee: 8 part series, Batman and Robin review, all other Halloween reviews, Tom and Jerry: The Movie Review, all Christmas Reviews, Howard the Duck review, Every other Old Vs. New, Top 11 Villain Songs, The Room review, Animaniacs Tribute, NC’s Top 11 Drug PSAs, Top 11 Dumbest Spider-Man Moments, The Wizard review, The Langoliers review and NC’s Top 11 Batman The Animated Series Episodes.    
Biggest Laugh out Loud Moments
As an extra bonus, here are my top ten biggest laugh out loud moments from the Nostalgia Critic episodes.    
11. Girls mud fighting from the NC’s review of “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation 
10. Non-censored Duck from the NC’s review of “Howard the Duck
9. Mara Wilson’s cameo from the NC’s review of “A Simple Wish”.
8. Captain Planet educating kids about Aids from the NC’s review of “Captain Planet”.
7. Chasing down Casper from the NC’s review of “Casper”.
6. Pee-Wee Herman’s drug PSA from the NC’s Top 11 Drug PSA’s  
5. Zack Morris over the top costume in the NC’s review of “Saved by the Bell”.
4. The “Bat Credit Card” gag from the NC’s review of “Batman and Robin”.
3. Reacting to Tommy Wiseau’s bad acting from the NC’s review of “The Room”.
2. The Wonder boner advertisement from the NC’s second commercial special.
1. Baby Arnold Schwarzenegger from the NC’s review of “Junior”.
  
   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commercialism in Film (The Wizard)

      We all know that an advertisement is meant to get people to buy a product, but there are other forms of commercialism that find a way to get their sails to attention of an audience. Product Integration is the term and it’s when a program revolves around a product. This is when a TV show or movie sub-consciously tells you to buy a product that’s featured in the show or film. Enter the 1989 motion picture titled “The Wizard”, a harmless little family flick but in reality, it’s a theatrical Nintendo commercial in disguise as a feature film. However, the product placement was almost to excessive for the films own good, because this movie was a rare case in which the audience was far more interested in the products than the actual film. The plot revolves around kids that participate in a big Nintendo game tournament, and from that synopsis on, we see kids playing popular Nintendo games, speaking in game lingo, showing off arcade games and sneak peeks to games that haven’t been released yet. The most notable teaser is when the kids play “Super Mario Brothers 3”, a highly anticipated NES game that wouldn’t be released for another couple months.  
         There are also moments in the film when kids would brag about owning every single Nintendo game available at the time and if kids watching the movie wanted to be as awesome as the characters featured in this film, they’d have to buy as many Nintendo games as their parents can afford. The best example of an advertisement in this film would be the introduction of “The Power Glove”. This was one of the very first game controller accessories for the NES, allowing you to play video games without a regular game controller. In the film, one of the challengers in the tournament shows off his skills by playing a racing game with it. Then the Power Glove is never mentioned again and has nothing to do with the plot. So you could have honestly chopped out those 40 seconds of the movie, re-packaged it to air on TV and there you go, it’s a commercial for the Power Glove.  
       Nintendo games weren’t the only things to get an indorsement in this film, for the climax, we get this big chase scene throughout the back lots of “Universal Studios”, showing off all the attractions and sets. It’s also no coincidence that the Universal theme park would open up for the first time in Florida that following year. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a scene when the characters visit the two big dinosaur statues in Cabazon California, a popular film set used in Tim Burton’s 1985 classic, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”. Overall, “The Wizard” was a critical failure for fans and critics alike but it succeeded as Nintendo’s biggest advertising money maker and a perfect example of product placement in film.     

Skyfall (First Impressions) (Movie Review)

     Good old 007, I always look forward to another one of these films. With a current total of 25 movies (two of which were spinoffs) and more movies to come, there’s no doubt that James Bond is one of Hollywood’s most successful and long lasting icons. The humor, action, and escapist thrills of the series are just so simple and fun that it makes this an easy series to continue over the years. This latest addition is the James Bond cannon is titled “Skyfall” and it’s the third film to star Daniel Craig in the respected leading role. Personally, he’s my favorite actor to play 007 and this film might just be his best performance so far. He’s always been a more haunted and intense 007 than the others, which I’ve loved about these later films. However, in the case of this film, he manages to keep all of that good stuff alive while still adding a lot more of the charm and glamor that we hard core fans loved from the earlier films.  
     The plot for this film is a breath of fresh air, instead of having a super powered villain try to take over the world or gain lots of money, this movies villain was once a member of Bonds secret service but he was betrayed and is now out for revenge against M, who’s the leader of the organization. This makes the conflicts a lot stronger, without resorting to formulaic James Bond clichés. Judi Dench is back in the role of M, who’s been playing the character sense 1995’s “Golden Eye”, which was Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond film. She is fantastic as always and I love that this film gives her and Bond a story as opposed to 007 just finding another token female.
     The action sense are a huge improvement over the last movie “Quantum Of Solace”, which suffered from to mush shaky cam and constant zoom ins. “Skyfall’s” action is just as riveting as ever, but this time there’s more subtle hand to hand combat and the camera goes for wider shots that observe all the battles and chases very well. The new theme song is good and the opening credit sequence is one of the best to come from this series. Action movies today hardly ever use cool opening credit sequences like this and I’m so glad that this series still makes it a tradition to keep the credits in the opening. I especially love the sets and locations in this film, everything is colorful and elaborate, my eyes were constantly pleased. Overall, this film isn’t going to become one of my absolute favorite installments in the 007 cannon but it certainly stands as one of the more competent entries in the series that doesn’t resort to an overabundance of gadgets or silly jokes. If you’re a long running James Bond fan, this film is certainly worth your time. I give “Skyfall” 3 ½ stars.