Archive for the ‘fantasy’ Category

The Princess and the Frog: JAMMIN’ WITH THE BIG BOYS~

December 24, 2009

Let’s face it, when people think of animation, they don’t think of Akira or obscure Czech stop-motion animators or even My Neighbor Totoro. They think Disney. And with good reason! Classic Disney animated features such as Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty are among the most technically accomplished and beloved animated movies ever made. Hell, there was even a bit of a renaissance in the late 80s and early 90s when Disney was spurting out movies like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. (Can we include The Great Mouse Detective in that, too? {:3) But the momentum couldn’t last, as the features started to become pretentious and a drag (Pocahontas), adapted from sources that were increasingly incompatible with Disney’s values and audience (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and eventually abandoning their musical roots (Atlantis: The Lost Empire). When the best you can come up with is Roseanne as a cow (the most modest creative leap I’ve ever seen), perhaps it is best to just tear it all down and start anew. And that’s exactly what Disney did, shutting down their fabled 2D animation studios in favor of computer-generated animation features. Unfortunately, it seems the stagnation and creative bankruptcy went deeper than just the medium of animation, because I’ve hardly heard any recommendations from people I trust for Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons or Bolt.

Thank god that Disney had partnered up with Pixar, eventually buying them up. Pixar honcho John Lasseter was wisely put in charge of Disney’s animation studio and mandated a return to the stuff that Disney was known for and actually good at. And it would star a black characterWAIT WHAT

sick how they're promoting bestiality


Suspiria: Sumptuous Scarlet Screams

October 28, 2009

It’s that time of year again! People dress up in silly/sexy costumes and put out ghost cut-outs and jack-o-lanterns and basically take all the balls out of Halloween. Well not here! You may remember last year I covered Jacob’s Ladder, a disturbing psychological horror film that served as a major visual inspiration for modern horror multimedia franchise Silent Hill (which has seen better days). This year it’s something closely-tied, yet completely different. While Jacob’s Ladder may be the father of Silent Hill, according to interviews of the Japanese staff of the original Silent Hill, Dario Argento’s Suspiria is very much the mother.



Phantasy Star III – Generations of Doom: Utter Disappointment

September 17, 2009

After completion of the monumental undertaking Phantasy Star II must have been, the development team was at the top of their game. They’d created a work of staggering importance to the medium of video game RPGs, so where to go from there? Apparently, to other things. One of the most important core members, Yuji Naka, left to create what would later become Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s 16-bit savior, leaving a large hole in the team. Ever the type to shoot themselves in the foot, Sega decided that they NEEDED another Phantasy Star, whether the original creators were available or not. So instead of patiently waiting for the band to get back together, they put together a team of questionably-qualified individuals and churned out Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom.  I think you might already know where this is headed…

you look cool bro


Ponyo: The Extra-Terrestrial

August 19, 2009

Do you know who Hayao Miyazaki is? If you’re reading this blog, you should. But just in case you wandered in here accidentally while trying to google lolcats, Here’s the skinny: Hayao Miyazaki is basically the Steven Spielberg of animation in Japan. He makes animated feature films with his production company, Studio Ghibli, and is considered a master at what he does. He’s responsible for such anime classics as Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winner Spirited Away, and Japan basically considers him a national treasure.

And I sometimes find it difficult to stand the guy.

Don’t get your feathers ruffled just yet. I adore most of his movies, such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso, The Castle of Cagliostro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s the other half I have trouble stomaching. I think Nausicaa is a pretty standard fantasy adventure starring one of the most insufferably optimistic heroines I’ve ever seen.  The character Nausicaa pisses sunshine and farts rainbows. I cant stand it! Castle in the Sky is basically the blueprint for every Japanese RPG ever made, so by the time I saw it, there wasn’t much new for me to glean from its picked-over bones. I don’t really enjoy Princess Mononoke‘s setting or the fact that the ending doesn’t do any of the preceding 119 minutes any justice. In fact, it’s a huge problem with Miyazaki’s movies in general. They don’t end; they just stop. You’re lucky if you have even a few minutes of falling action after the climax. And then there’s probably my least favorite: My Neighbor Totoro. It’s a movie aimed at very young children, so I probably wasn’t the target audience when I saw it, but it’s still an aimless creature that tries to get by on cuteness and whimsy in lieu of having story or even the barest shred of conflict. I’m sure if I was a toddler I’d love it. I can’t ever say that Miyazaki’s movies are outright crap. They’re always beautifully, painstakingly animated. But I do occasionally have problems with what Miyazaki chooses to do with all his abundance of talent and resources.

And recently, Miyazaki’s latest yarn, the child-oriented Ponyo, washed up on our shores. Was this a hit or a miss?

y helo thar


(grumplet) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: SNOGGING

July 30, 2009

Anyone who talks to me about the Harry Potter movies or read my rant in the comments section for Magus’ grumplet about Order of the Phoenix knows that I had a venomous dislike for David Yates, the man who had been handed the keys to the Harry Potter kingdom. Here was a man with absolutely no experience directing a theatrical feature film, let alone a huge, effects-laden installment of one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. While that alone was not enough to damn him in my eyes, the dull, lifeless adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was. Not only had it left out certain crucial details that would become important in future installments, but it also seemed to have no regard for the heart of the book, Harry’s inner turmoil, and instead focused on soapbox political allegories and rah-rah student rebellion. While all of this was present and indeed a necessary part of the original work, it seemed like David Yates missed the point. It’s true that the absence of the screenwriter of the previous four films, Steve Clowes, couldn’t have helped things, but the amateurish direction by Yates missed the mark. And with the usual 150-minute runtime cut down to a brisk, 120 minutes, it seemed like Warner Bros. had found its perfect stooge for cranking out another Harry Potter installment on time and on budget under the studio’s thumb.

Inbetween the release of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, a couple things happened. Steve Clowes returned from his sabbatical to adapt the sixth installment, Yates was tapped by Warner Bros. to direct all following Harry Potter installments, beating out other hopefuls like Alfonso Cuarón, and the decision was made to cleave Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in two so that proper respect could be paid to sending the series off (and, of course, to allow WB to milk their cash cow to the bitter end). My heart understandably sank. Not only was Cuarón, the director of my favorite installment of Harry Potter, not returning, but that Yates hack was getting the glory of finishing up the whole thing. C’est la vie, eh? It was with a heavy heart and extremely low expectations that I entered Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, almost daring Yates to do his worst.

You must be very careful while entering a giant's anus, Harry...


Phantasy Star: To Boldly Play What No One Has Played Before

May 9, 2009

Before I talk about the actual game, I feel I have to give some sort of explanation for my history of playing RPGs. You see, I’m a bit of a Johnny-Come-Lately when it comes to role playing games, at least in terms of my age. This is partly because of my early inclinations as a gamer and partly due to my systems of choice. You see, I didn’t own an 8-bit system. My next door neighbors actually owned an Atari 2600 and a NES, and my sister was friends with the girl that lived there, so sometimes I would tag along and get my fix that way. My aunt and uncle also owned a NES and I would marvel at seeing The Legend of Zelda box art. I thought it was so classy!

The first system I actually OWNED was a SEGA Genesis that my dad one day brought home with him, apropos of nothing, as far as I can tell. Wasn’t anyone’s birthday or anything! He got it when it was packaged with Altered Beast and also got us Revenge of Shinobi, Golden Axe and Forgotten Worlds to go along with it. At first the games made me really anxious because I was afraid I’d die in them and I’d only watch my sister play. But sometime around the advent of Sonic the Hedgehog, I started to really get into games, and you know the rest of the story~

As you might be aware, there was somewhat of a dearth of RPGs for the SEGA Genesis. There was the Shining series, and the Phantasy Star series, but I never really heard about them until I was much older. I guess the kids my age didn’t really talk about them. I didn’t even know what a RPG WAS. The next system I got after the Genesis was a N64, and that was even WORSE in regards to RPGs. Finally, in I think 1997 or 1998, I got a Playstation and my tastes in games were irrevocably altered.

Final Fantasy VII wasn’t the first RPG I’d ever played, but it was the first one I actually enjoyed. From there on I was Square’s bitch for most of the PS1 era. But what about those other RPGs I’d played? My awareness of role playing games was driven almost solely by the now-defunct Electronic Gaming Monthly. Not only did they have big shiny ads for the BIGGEST. GAME. EVER. Final Fantasy VII, but their seminal Top 100 Games of All Time list in their 100th issue mentioned several Genesis titles, like Shining in the Darkness and… yes, Phantasy Star II. I rented them both and was immediately turned off by their inaccessibility and lack of visual pizzazz. By that time they were already dated and I hadn’t the foggiest idea how a RPG played. So I guess it’s no surprise FFVII was able to hook me instead of those two.

But the Phantasy Star series still intrigued me, although I’d relegated it to the background; a curiosity I would never be able to appreciate. And the online aspect of the later Phantasy Star Online installments only made it even more out of reach for me. But the recent release of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (lovingly referred to by a friend as Spinhog’s Software Pile), with its inclusion of just about every notable first-party Genesis title, including the Shining and Phantasy Star series, was my second chance to try to see what drew people to the franchises in the first place, with the eyes (and patience) of an adult.


Happy Holidays – Labyrinth: Remind Me of the Babe

January 7, 2009

Tim: ..!!
Tim: OK I gotta get into my MOVIE COMMENTIN’ MINDSET
John: Is that like channeling spirits?
John: Like
John: you call upon the powers of MST3K?
Tim: I shoot myself in the head with an Evoker and a big red Tom Servo shows up before me.
Tim: ZIO!!!
Tim: ok GO
John: The Columbia TriStar logo is associated so closely with movies I loved in my childhood. :3
Tim: My gosh, I only think of that white horse when I don’t want to sneeze.
John: Ooh, this looks pretty good in high quality
John: This is a CGI Owel
John: Or owl
John: gaze upon it and know the power of technology
John: in 1985
Tim:Movies don’t have LOGOS anymore do they?
John: They’re always at the end
John: It’s onlyyyy forevaaaaaaaaaa
John: Bowie, you magnificent, creepy bastard.
Tim: Years before Frank Oz gave us STEPFUHD WIVES.
John: I didn’t get that until muuuuuuch later in life.
John: cuzithurtslikehell
John: Man
John: This song
John: Takes me all the way back
Tim: Monty Python Terry Jones?!
John: Yes.
Tim: Get. Out.
John: Nope!
John: :D
Tim: Henson DIRECTED this?!
John: YES
John: Think again, boy.