Monthly Archives: May 2017

Jumping the Soapbox: Looking Back at Los Disneys

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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!?

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Oh look!  The series is literally jumping the shark!

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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…

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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.

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

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Cinema Dispatch: Baywatch

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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!?

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

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Cinema Dispatch: Everything, Everything

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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?

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

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