Monthly Archives: May 2017

Jumping the Soapbox: Looking Back at Los Disneys

LOSDISNEYS0

Los Disneys is the work of artist Jay Kristopher Huddy

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

People who say to get politics out of video games are idiots.  Even if we take this talking point at face value (spoiler alert: it’s not “politics” they actually want out of video games), it’s a stance only taken by cowards and the ill-informed.  For video games to be seen as a legitimate art form it needs to be free to have thoughts and opinions because art is ALWAYS political to a certain extent, and some of our greatest pieces of creative expression exist to convey a message; not just to look or sound nice.  Now there are still arguments to be had about what constitutes hate speech, how much power platform holders should have in controlling the market, and making sure the wrong games don’t get into the wrong hands (i.e. effective rating systems), but we can’t even get THAT far into the discussion if everyone wants to deploy the ban hammer on the mere IDEA of having something to say.  Are we clear on that?  Good.  Let’s talk about the game where you blow up Disney World.

.

Los Disneys of Former Florida!  Free, Independent, and Ever Expanding!

LOSDISNEYS1

I honestly couldn’t tell you how I came across this game all those years ago (I think I might have been on a Controversial Games kick in high school) but it’s managed to stick with me even now.  This mod of Bungie’s Marathon casts you as a spy infiltrating Disney World (now the capital of the state of Los Disneys) in order to destroy it before they have a chance to take over the world, and while the graphics and gameplay were somewhat archaic even when I first discovered it, the novelty of the well realized location is what drew me in and kept me playing.  On the surface, it’s not all that different from other shock art we’ve seen aimed at Disney (*cough* Air Pirates *cough*), but the narrative is actually quite compelling and the art direction is strong enough that you want to keep pressing forward just to see what you’ll find around the next corner.  Needless to say that Disney wasn’t too happy about all this which garnered a few headlines and only increased the game’s exposure at the time.

Now I always saw it as a merciless take down of Disney’s monolithic place in American (and to a certain extent, worldwide) culture, but then why would you take MY word for it when we can get the answers straight form the horse’s mouth!?  No, not Horace Horsecollar!!  I got in touch with the game’s creator, Jay Kristopher Huddy, and he was nice enough to answer a few questions about his career, the game, and its legacy!

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

POTCDMTNTCD0

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Here’s the thing about the Pirates movies.  Other than MAYBE the DCCU, it’s probably the most frustratingly simple conceit imaginable that they keep managing to screw up over and over again, so while some people may have a seething hatred for them (I wouldn’t blame you if you did), I find myself disappointed more than anything.  Now credit to where it’s due.  The first movie is still good, I like a lot of what they were doing with the second film, and I even think the fourth film was a marked improvement over the nadir that was At World’s End.  In fact, the fourth film is the closest since the first film of what this franchise SHOULD be which is the cinematic equivalent of pulp adventure books like the Conan stories or John Carter of Mars; a universe comprised of interesting and diverse characters but with stories that can be enjoyed individually.  Where Pirates started to screw up (and then self-imploded with the third one) was in trying to focus too much on continuity, MacGuffins, and character motivations that spanned MULTIPLE films; all of which made it almost impossible to enjoy the second and third ones on their own and why the fourth one felt like an okay start to a new direction for this franchise.  Will they continue that trend with this new one?  Well… probably not considering that Will and Elizabeth are returning to the series which presumably means a whole lot baggage is coming along with them, but let’s find out!!

The movie picks up several years after the events of On Stranger Tides, though more importantly for the purposes of this story, after the events of At World’s End as we have the son of Will and Elizabeth Turner (Orland Bloom and Keira Knightley) named Henry (Brenton Thwaites) trying desperately to break the curse on his father that has imprisoned him as the Captain of the Flying Dutchman.  While working for the British Navy, the ship he’s training on crashes face first into THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE (wouldn’t you want to AVOID something named that?) and he’s left as the sole survivor of an attack by the ghostly crew of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem).  Now Henry has been looking for Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) for some time to see if he has some insight into saving his father and Captain Salazar manages to suss this out, so on top of leaving him as the sole survivor in order to spread his legend, he ALSO want him to give Jack a lesson when he finds him; mainly that he plans on killing that guy the first chance he gets.  Now after that prologue, we jump to the Island of Massive Coincidences where Jack just so happens to be wasting his days away drinking rum and there also JUST SO HAPPENS to be a woman named Cariana Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who may have the answer to finding the GREATEST TREASURE OF THEM ALL and exactly what Henry needs to break his father’s curse.  Oh, and Henry JUST SO HAPPENS to be sent to this island after he’s found by the British Navy because why not.  I won’t spoil much more at this point (mostly to keep this mercifully short) but by the start of the second act, Jack, Henry, Carina, and a few salty sea dogs (including Joshamee Gibbs played by Kevin McNally who’s been a staple of this series since the beginning), are sailing towards this mysterious treasure known as The Trident of Poseidon which can possibly break Will’s curse.  They aren’t the only ones headed in that direction however as Captain Salazar is after Jack, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is KIND OF after Jack, and some dude from the British Navy (David Wenham) is after all of them so he can throw them in jail.  Will Jack Sparrow manage to find this treasure and also avoid the wrath of Salazar who just so happens to have a grudge against him?  What exactly did Jack do to Salazar in order to gain his ire, and how far will he go for revenge?  Do these movies REALLY need to be this complicated every single freaking time!?

POTCDMTNTCD1

Oh look!  The series is literally jumping the shark!

Continue reading

Samurai Jack: A Retrospective

    It’s only been a week, yet I’m still processing the fact that Samurai Jack is over. That his big comeback has left us as soon as it arrived, and in its wake, it left something spectacular: a revival of a beloved TV show that remains true to the spirit of the original while updating it in all the right ways. Outside of the recent comeback for Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this, but even then, the evolution of Samurai Jack is one less of superficial style (all in all, it’s the same), but rather a narrative one. In recent memory, when you see a franchise get a new life, you expect it to draw inspiration and some basic building blocks from its predecessors, but other than that, it feels like a totally different creation. Sometimes that new direction is for its benefit, such as what Marvel Studios has been doing with its movie adaptations. Other times, you end up with something like the live-action Transformers movies. Still, this comparison feels inaccurate. Samurai Jack 2017 isn’t just a revival or a re-adaptation, it’s a continuation of the show’s original continuity with the intention of wrapping up a story that was left open-ended. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve reviewed each episode, covering the in-the-moment developments as they were presented to us. I feel like I’ve covered plenty of ground regarding the show’s evolution and sense of theming, but now that it’s all said and done, we can see how far we came and take a look at the season as a whole so we can appreciate what made this conclusion of Jack’s story such a success. But first, we must take a look at what came before…

Continue reading

Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 7 (Parental Glideance)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro

Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby

We’re back with another episode of Scootaloo Explains It All, and while we won’t be breaking the forth wall this time around (I guess Pinkie Pie has the day off), we WILL be dealing with family problems as the one thing both her and her idol Rainbow Dash have in common is Absent Parent Syndrome!  All that’s about to come to ahead, at least for Rainbow Dash, in an episode that has been a REALLY long time coming, but can it POSSIBLY live up to the hype that has been generated over all this time!?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Scootaloo doing the most Scootaloo thing imaginable (with the help of Applebloom and Sweetie Belle) by trying to launch herself straight to Cloudsdale using a makeshift slingshot.  Never mind that she’s snap her neck if she tried going THAT fast THAT quickly, there’s no way she’d have enough thrust to make it all the way to a city in the sky!  Then again, this is a land of magic horses, so maybe Newton’s Three Laws of Motion are more suggestions than outright rules.

MLPS7E07-1

“Fly like an eagle!!  Through the revolution!!”     “What did she say?”     “I don’t know.  She wants to buy a beagle?”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Baywatch

BAYWATCHCD0

Baywatch and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Seth Gordon

I may not know much about the Pamela Anderson/David Hasselhoff series, but if there’s one thing I do know it’s how much I LOVE Dwayne Johnson and how much I REALLY LIKE Zac Efron!   Both these guys don’t always get the credit they deserve for just how good they are with the former’s career mostly consisting of crowd pleasing popcorn flicks and the latter having a pretty rocky career; alternating between decently received comedies and underperforming dramas.  While I may not have an affinity for the series that this is directly based off of, I can appreciate a lot of what I saw in the trailers leading up to this and it seemed like a possible bright spot in a year that really hasn’t been that great for comedies so far.  Does this send up a nineties  television landmark manage to be a 21 Jump Street style success, or did this franchise really peak with Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff running in slow motion?  Let’s find out!!

In Emerald Bay Florida, there is a team of elite lifeguards, led by Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) that saves people, stop thieves, and pick up litter to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of their beach’s visitors.  We enter the story just as they’re about to start recruiting some newbies and a hotshot Olympic swimmer named Matt Brody (Zac Effron) is there to assume one of the spots as he has a letter from the local government guaranteeing him a position.  Mitch takes him on board, but the road to being a TRUE member of Baywatch, which currently includes Stephanie Holden and CJ Parker (Ilfenesh Hadera and Kelly Rohrbach) as well as two other newbies Summer Quinn and Ronnie (Alexandra Daddario and Jon Bass), he’ll have to prove that he’s more than just a good swimmer as this job takes dedication, heart, and a true commitment to protecting those who depend on them!  In fact, the whole team will have a chance to prove just that as local entrepreneur Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is up to no good and is letting the remnants of her criminal activity (drugs and dead bodies) wash up on THEIR beach!  Oh, now this will not STAND; especially when you’ve got Mitch “The Rock” Buchannon on the case!   Will the Baywatch crew be able to stop Victoria’s evil schemes before it’s too late?  Will Matt finally learn to think of others and be part of a team?  Just how much chiseled pecks and bodacious babes can they cram into one movie!?

BAYWATCHCD1

It’s like Pain & Gain, but we actually LIKE these people!!

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Everything, Everything

EVERYTHINGEVERYTHINGCD0

Everything, Everything and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Stella Meghie

I understand that not all movies are going to be for me, and one of the genres where this is most true is the bittersweet romantic drama; hence why I have yet to review a Nicholas Sparks movie on here.  For the most part, this also applies to coming of age teen films like Paper Towns, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Fault in Our Stars; none of which I’ve seen even though I’ve heard MOSTLY good things about them.  Will this manage to stand out from the pack the same way The Edge of Seventeen did for me last year, or will this be a bitter reminder of why I’ve been avoiding these for the most part?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is all about the life of Maddy Whittler (Amandla Stenberg) who has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, also known as SCID.  Basically, her immune system is so weak that she can’t fight off ordinary germs and viruses, so she has to stay in the specially designed sterile house that she and her mother (Anika Noni Rose) have lived in since she first discovered Maddy had this disorder.  Everything seems to be going fine with her finding ways to pass the time and even having a nurse visit her fairly often (Ana de la Reguera), but all that changes when a boy moves in next door!  The strapping young lad is named Olly Bright (Nick Robinson) and they immediately hit it off despite not being able to get close to each other; otherwise he’d probably kill her with his dirty boy diseases.  That said, having opened Pandora’s Box so to speak has made it harder for Maddy to just keep on living her life the way she’s been doing up to this point, and she wants to see more!  Will Maddy risk her life just to experience the rest of the world; albeit for a very short time?  Will Olly be able to accept Maddy despite all the barriers that built between them?  Didn’t John Travolta already make this movie like a hundred years ago?

EVERYTHINGEVERYTHINGCD1

“And before you ask, no.  I do not have a plastic ball I roll around in.”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Snatched

SNATCHEDCD0

Snatched and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Despite being one of the big up and coming comedians for the past few years, I’ve never had any real exposure to Amy Schumer’s work.  Whether it’s her stand-up, her show Central, or even her previous movies like Trainwreck, she just never managed to come into my radar and I haven’t had much inclination to seek her stuff out.  As far as this movie, I GUESS I’m interested to see how it turns out, not just so I can finally get in the loop with someone worth keeping an eye on, but because she also managed to get Goldie Hawn to costar who hasn’t been active in quite some time!  That said, it looks to be another raunchy comedy (and not a particularly interesting one) which we certainly have plenty of already, but then again it’s never easy to tell just how well the jokes will land or how strong the interplay is between the leads just from trailers alone.  Does this manage to be a standout film starring one of Hollywood’s rising star next to one of Hollywood’s best, or will this turn out just as bad as Dirty Grandpa?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) getting dumped by her longtime boyfriend (Randall Park) just before they take their non-refundable trip to Ecuador; leaving her with a broken heart as well as an extra ticket that none of her friends (or even her landlord) wants to take her up on.  While visiting her overbearing and obsessively cautious mother Linda (Goldie Hawn), she finds an old photo album that shows what an exciting life she led before having kids and she decides to take her on the trip.  It takes a bit of cajoling, but Linda finally agrees and they head to South America where Emily meets some suave mother fucker (Tom Bateman) that gives her the perfect vacation experience and promises to take her AND her mother out for even more fun the next day.  Turns out that he’s the bait for a kidnapping ring which puts a HUGE damper on their vacation and they now have to find a way to not only escape but find a way back to the American embassy before they get into even MORE trouble.  While this is going on, Emily’s brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) is doing what he can to get the State Department to Seal Team 6 their asses out of there, but with his agoraphobia and poor social skills, he may not be up to the task despite everything that’s at stake… or is he?  Can these two survive not only the harsh jungle environment but survive having to deal with each other for that long?  What wacky supporting characters will they manage to run into along the way?  Wait, is this seriously from the same person who wrote Ghostbusters!?

SNATCHEDCD1

“I saw Taken.  If we just keep our heads down and don’t rock the boat, someone will come and save us.”     Mom, our Liam Neeson is your thirty year old son who can’t even face the neighborhood dog.  We are screwed!”     “Now why do you have to talk about your brother that way?”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Alien: Covenant

ALIENCOVENANTCD0

Alien: Covenant and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Ridley Scott

Before I get into the review proper, I feel it might be worth discussing my thoughts on the series as a whole in order to provide the proper context for everything else I’m about to say.  Ridley Scott’s original film from 1979 probably holds up the best; even more so than James Cameron’s Aliens from 1986 which is still a VERY fun action film and one of the few BIGGER IS BETTER sequels out there (matched only by his own Terminator 2 in 1991).  I give the edge to the original because it’s a straight up horror film and those tend to hold up better than shoot-em-action flicks (the quality of special effects changes rather quickly while what scares us transcends generations), but both are damn near the pinnacles of their respective genres.  Alien 3… not so much.  Oh sure, there’s PLENTY of aspects in it that are outright brilliant and awe inspiring (as well as bone chilling and utterly haunting), but they’re all wasted on a portentous and sluggish script that’s too impressed with its own sense of self-importance to pace itself properly, and yes I’m referring to the Assembly Cut which has most of the stuff that David Fincher wanted in it.  The one thing this movie DIDN’T need was to be over two freaking hours (also, killing the most interesting new character off halfway through didn’t help things either).  That said I would watch that movie TWICE if it meant I never had to watch Resurrection again.  Good GRIEF is that a monstrous product of its time!  I don’t think I’ve seen a franchise so thoroughly 90s-ified in the worst ways imaginable outside of that Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie!  Needless to say that the franchise needed a fresh start in order to get things back on track; and it wasn’t gonna be with those FREAKING Alien vs Predator movies!  I REALLY enjoyed Prometheus which seems to be a minority opinion for some reason, and I’m not sure why.  No matter how “scientifically minded” you are, there is always gonna be things you didn’t expect when traveling to ANOTHER FREAKING PLANET and people are gonna make mistakes!  Honestly, it seems less like a true critical consensus (film stands at a solid 72% on Rotten Tomatoes) than some inexplicable backlash due to it… not being completely scientifically accurate I guess?  What was your first clue?  Was it the giant humanoid albino dudes or the baby alien growing in that one person’s stomach?  Now I didn’t know ANYTHING about Alien: Covenant walking into it other than it was Ridley Scott directing and that it will indeed have Xenomorphs throughout, but considering how much I liked Prometheus I was hopeful that some of the cool stuff Ridley was working with in that movie would find its way into this seemingly straightforward Alien creature feature.  Does Ridley Scott succeed in his true return to the franchise he started all those years ago, or it time to end this bug hunt once and for all?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the crew of the Covenant, a spaceship with thousands of cryogenically frozen humans and almost as many frozen embryos, being violently woken up due to some sort of science catastrophe.  Now normally the crew is left to sleep with the passengers, all of whom are headed to a new planet to colonize it, while their Synthetic buddy Walter (Michael Fassbender) takes care of everything, but with this… solar flare or something?  I don’t know, let’s just go with that.  With this solar flare causing havoc on the ship, all of them need to be woken up and at their posts to avert disaster.  Most of them are fine, but sadly enough the captain (James Franco in a very brief and crispy cameo) gets burned alive in the chaos; leaving the second in command Chris Oram (Billy Crudup) in charge.  So already things are going pear shaped on this trip that’s gonna take another seven years to complete, but they just so happen to pick up a strange signal that might be the answer to their problems.  The signal traces back to a rather close planet which they scan and find to be very hospitable to their needs, even more so than the planet they were heading to in the first place!  Despite the protestations of one the scientists Danny Branson (Katherine Waterston), Chris decides to at least investigate the place and see if they can locate the source of the strange signal as well as check if the planet really is as good as their scans indicate it to be.  Of course it’s not.  You KNOW it’s not.  This movie isn’t called Pleasant Space Cruise; it’s called ALIEN COVENANT!  The question isn’t IF they’re gonna get killed by monsters; it’s HOW MANY of them will!  Aside from the obvious revelations, does the crew of the Covenant find something unexpected on this seemingly perfect planet?  What was the source of that strange signal to begin with?  Maybe it’s someone from one of the other films who’s playing someone new in this movie!?

ALIENCOVENANTCD1

My multiple lips are sealed!

Continue reading

Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 7 (Forever Filly)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro

Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby

We’re back with another episode of Pony Sister, Sister which means it’s a CMC episode!  Those always turn out great… right?  Okay, so maybe I’m a bit too cynical whenever Applejack, Scootaloo, and most prominently this time Sweetie Belle are a major focus of the episode, but it’s not like I don’t have my reasons for feeling that way!  Compared to the Mane6, their episodes tend to be a lot simpler and have far less of an impact which tend to make them feel like filler to pad out the season.  Still, they have managed to step up their game on a few occasions such as Crusaders of the Lost Mark and Appleoosa’s Most Wanted, so maybe they can pull it off again here; especially considering this is ALSO the first Rarity episode of the season as well!  Can the younger ponies show up their older counterparts with an episode that stands out in an already well regarded season, or are we just killing time for the better episodes to be finished?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… um… hold on, it’ll come to me… her name is… okay, I’ve got nothing.  One moment!

Sassy Saddles!  Okay, the episode begins with Sassy Saddles (who we haven’t seen since Rarity Investigates) frantically running around the Canterlot Carousel Boutique in an effort to completely overhaul their inventory for the upcoming Spring Season.  All this worrying is for naught however as Rarity proves once again that she’s the HPIC (Head Pony In Charge) and has made all the necessary preparations and orders to ensure a smooth transition!  Three cheers for effective quarterly planning!!  But wait!  There is a disturbance in force (the Friendship force I guess) as Rarity suddenly becomes quite sullen despite handling her business like a boss.  Apparently she hasn’t spent enough time with Sweetie Belle recently which causes her to have a meltdown; probably less due to that one thing than the collection of stress she’s built up over the past few days finally bursting.

MLPS7E06-1

“We need ice cream and ni-colt-las Sparks movies, FAST!  WHERE IS OUR COPY OF THE NOTE BUCK!?”

Continue reading