V.G. Movies #16: House of the Dead.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


This one has a pretty basic history. Sega released it in 1997 in arcades as a "light gun" game--you know, where you actually shoot at the screen to kill things. (In a PC port, you just used a mouse, of course.) The player takes over the role of either agent Thomas Rogan or agent "G" as they are sent on assignment on December 18, 1998. There were disappearances at the home of Dr. Roy Curien, a biochemist/geneticist. While there, they have to fight a bunch of zombies and monsters, such as mutant bats, spider-like creatures, and a demon-like warrior who can wield fire. There's also the character of Sophie who is agent Rogan's fiance. Depending on how you play, she will either survive or become an undead being at the end of the game.

And that's about all there is to it. It's not that complicated, either in execution or story. It's one of those games that would be almost impossible to screw up. But of course, we hadn't been introduced to the master of that ability yet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the film that introduced the world to the "genius" that is Uwe Boll.


I actually saw this bad boy in theater back in high school. The film follows a bunch of young adults who want to go to a rave on an island. They miss their boat and end up chartering a fishing boat helmed by a man named Captain Kirk (Jurgen Prochnow) and his first mate, Salish (Clint Howard). Unfortunately for them, they also have a cop named Casper (Ellie Cornell) on their trail, as she wants to check the ship for drugs and weapons. Of course, they get to the island and all hell breaks loose as they soon discover the island is over-run by zombies.

There are different camps of people on how much this flick sucks, especially in comparison to other b-movies. There are those who say it's so bad it's good. Others who say it's so bad... it's just bad and boring. To me, it's the former. This movie is hilariously awful. And there are plenty of reasons why. The zombis, for one, look incredibly stupid, and they don't really function as zombies. These zombies can even swim (and visibly hold their breath as they do so). The action scenes are terrible, including bad slow motion, as well as the camera spinning around almost every single time a zombie is attacked at one point. Don't forget they never run out of ammo, either! And let's not forget the most famous thing in this film: the game footage. That's right, Uwe Boll actually randomly spliced in footage from the games for no reason and in completely random spots. I mean, the majority of the time, it's not even during action scenes... just... whenever he felt like it.

The script and characters are just painful, as well. The dialogue is mostly dull and cliched with the exception of almost anything said by the Captain or Clint Howard's characters. There's the nonsensical decisions of the characters, as well. Who would pay a thousand bucks to a shady fisherman just to go to a rave on an island after they missed their boat? And then pay him additional money to run from some cops just to get to the rave? On top of that, they're doing all of this after they find out the island is called "Island of Death" and that nobody should go near the place. On top of that, there is almost nothing to do with any of the games in this film. This is apparently a prequel to the games, but still... you should have some ties, right?

I know this is a short review, but what is there really to say? Uwe Boll is considered the modern day Ed Wood, and this is where he got his start. And considering you can only learn and get better from experience (which, believe it or not, he actually does), this is still at the start of his career and is totally bad. Bad story, bad acting, bad writing, bad makeup, bad editing, bad directing... bad everything. There's even some stuff I didn't even bother to mention. I do admit that the last few seconds give a cool twist if you know the game story, as that's where the prequel bits come into play. Otherwise... that's about it. If you're interested in Boll, might as well start here. It might be beyond bad, but it's surely entertaining.

A Hot Mess


50/50 Review #15: Le Samourai.

Le Samourai is like what would happen if you mixed Drive with Ghost Dog. Jef Costello (Alain Delon) is a quiet, precise hitman who apparently follows a samurai code of life. Unfortunately, one day a hit on a club owner goes a little wrong, and there are some witnesses. Jef is picked up by the police, but due to a rather solid alibi that he set up prior to the hit and most of the witnesses claiming--for some reason--that he's not the man they saw, they're forced to let him go. But a stubborn police officer refuses to believe he's innocent, and he constantly has to keep on his guard so not to make any wrong moves.

I was pleasantly surprised with this film. Of course, the Ghost Dog connections are insane (frenchmen, a quiet hitman who acts like a samurai and takes care of birds, and gangsters who hire and then turn on him? Don't forget special keys to help steal cars). But that's pretty much where the comparisons end, fortunately. They're all pretty superficial. The actual story and characters are much different. This film is much more of a mystery/thriller in that you're questioning why the gangsters want him dead and then how he's going to stay safe from the police. The story kept me pretty invested throughout, and the pacing and flow works well.

The character of Jef is also really interesting and entertaining. He's, again, similar to the Driver in Drive in that he's quiet, calm, and collected, but he can kick your ass and/or kill you without a second's hesitation. And he does have a specific style about him, too. He's fun to watch, because you're never quite sure what he's going to do next, and I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on in his head. The suspense was great, even if there was never a sense of any physical danger.

But I don't have much else to say outside that. Jef Costello is a fantastically cool character. I don't think there's a lot of depth to the film, but like with Drive, I'm not sure there has to be. The character and the style are enough to carry the film. Though it does have kind of a shocker ending that I didn't exactly see coming. If you're a fan of noir, or cool antiheroes, check it out. It might be a quiet little film (hell, no dialogue is actually spoken for the first 10 minutes), and it certainly isn't perfect, but it certainly kept me engaged.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. That'll about wrap it up for Dan Heaton's Month! It was certainly a classic kinda month. And despite some movies being out of my typical wheelhouse, I still enjoyed myself for one reason or another... comedy, dialogue, characters. But now it's time to do something pretty much the exact opposite. Next week... I'm starting Jason's Month. Need I say more?)


V.G. Movies #15: Resident Evil.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


One of the first of its genre, Resident Evil basically founded the "survival horror" genre of gaming. Debuting on the Playstation in 1996, RE was a total success. The game was originally called Bio Hazard in Japan, but due to some copyright issues, the name was changed in America. Capcom (the game company) held a contest with its employees to come up with a new title, and Resident Evil was born ("Resident" due to the fact the game took place in a mansion... get it?).

The basic idea of the original game is pretty simple. Raccoon City has been facing some strange issues lately, particularly with murder and cannibalism. So the police force sends their Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) team to investigate. But when the first "bravo" team disappears, the Alpha team is sent in to investigate. After a vicious dog attack, the team is forced to take refuge within a nearby abandoned mansion. The remaining Alpha team consists of Barry, Chris, Jill, and Wesker (three of which are major and popular characters for the remainder of the series). You quickly discover that all sorts of creatures and monsters (including zombies) are all over the place, thanks to some biochemical testing funded by the Umbrella Corporation--with a chemical known as the T-Virus. You also discover medical labs underground, a monster called the Tyrant, and that Wesker is a double agent for Umbrella (and he becomes one of the primary villains of the series, no matter how many times he's killed).

Eventually some sequels came out, introducing the world to other popular characters and storylines--but I'll get to some of those later. As for now, all you need to know is that the games were popular enough to warrant a film adaptation. And who had his name attached to it? None other than the director of Mortal Kombat, the only real moderately successful video game adaptation thus far. Yeah, it's Paul W.S. Anderson.

But what happens when you remove every character from the games and only keep in the idea of a mansion, zombies, a few key monsters, and, of course, the Umbrella Corporation? A movie that doesn't resemble the games whatsoever--yet managed to spawn one of the most successful video game movie franchises of all time (the only one, thus far, where each film has made more money than its predecessor). But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's take a look and see how well (if at all) this first film works.


This is a film that splits people, especially fans of the game. I never really got into the games, but I can appreciate its story and characters. And really, when adaptations take nothing but a title and a few namesakes from the source material, I can agree that it's bothersome. But is Resident Evil an exception to that rule? After a computer system called the Red Queen (Michaela Dicker) kills everyone inside the Umbrella Corporation's underground "Hive," a special military unit owned by Umbrella is sent in to see what went wrong. This team includes One (Colin Salmon), Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Kaplan (Martin Krewes), and a few others. They also happen to run into Alice (Milla Jovovich), a young woman with amnesia who woke up in the mansion that resides over the Hive. They also find a couple men--Matt (Eric Mabius), who claims he's a cop, and Spence (James Purefoy), who seems to have a connection to Alice. And, of course, they eventually discover that the T-Virus had been released within the compound and now there are a bunch of zombies and a monster roaming about.

Despite having practically zero connection to the games, I'd say this is still a fairly decent flick. The majority of the movie, particularly the first 30-40 or so minutes, has a lot of great atmosphere. It sets up a creepy, mysterious vibe that raises the tension slowly, building to the big moment where the zombies finally show up. There are also a number of memorable moments in this portion of the film, including the laser room. Everything is set up nicely with a good mystery, decent characters, and a nice overall vibe.

The next portion of the movie isn't all that bad, either. This would be the non-stop action part of the film. You have zombies (of both human and dog variety), guns blazing, blood dripping, music blaring, and hearts pounding. It has some good suspense and decent thrills, even if moments such as the mid-air dog kick set up Alice to evolve into a character who would nearly ruin the film series. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Where I feel the film stumbles is in its third act. You discover the twist to the story... what really happened behind the scenes and how a number of the characters are connected. Some motives are a bit shaky, and some of it feels a bit contrived. Then you have the "big bad" of this film--the Licker. The CGI for this creature leaves you a bit wanting, and it feels maybe only a sole generation better than the CGI Reptile in Mortal Kombat. Fortunately, you don't have to see it for very long. The acting gets a little wonky here, as well. And up until this point, the film could have easily played as a prequel to the original game. But then the scientists come in and you have the double ending that sets up two things in the inevitable sequel. You have Matt (spoilers!) becoming Nemesis, and then you have Alice waking up in the abandoned Raccoon City cocking her gun (very Super Mario Bros.-esque). Despite the cool factor, it's at this point you realize that any sequels are not going to be straight adaptation of the games.

On the whole, it's really not that bad of a flick. In the world of video game adaptations, I'd actually say it's kind of underrated, bogged down by what its sequels became (similar to, say, the Saw series--though at least that series managed to have a functional continuity and didn't have to retcon itself all the time). But again, I'm getting off topic. Its soundtrack, produced in part by Marilyn Manson, is very fitting and well done. If you want to see your favorite characters in these films, watch the sequels (...if you must), but this one works as an original story based in the same world as the games. Could it have been better? Definitely. But for what it is, it's fine.

I Am McLovin!


The Vlog: Season 4 "Demented" Commentary.

About a month ago, I got the idea to do a commentary with the cast of Season 4 of The Vlog. Some accepted the offer; others declined; and at least one just couldn't be there due to timing issues. But one Friday evening, I got together with Dylan, Kai, Jason, Sebastian, and Steve to record the Vlog's first-ever commentary track. We had a lot of fun doing this, and now... it's finally available to watch and/or listen to!

I had to cut out a few things for time (and sanity) sake, but there's a lot of interesting stuff here! Behind-the-scenes stories, some 'making of' explanations, our favorite moments, a lot of jokes, and more! Note: I've split it up into 5 parts for your convenience.

Warning... There's a lot of hilarious awesomeness here! Enjoy.

Introductions and Episodes 1 and 2.

Episodes 3, 4, and 5. (Note... episode 4 has some audio issues due to technical difficulties, but it's still listenable and only lasts a short time.)

Episodes 6 and 7.

Episodes 8, 9, and 10.

Episodes 11 and 12.


The Demented Podcast #38 - Steve Effs Off.

Moving into our first of two guys in this "all female" season, Jason Soto of Invasion of the B-Movies joins us once again. This time, we're talking meta-horror films Scream and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. (Warning: Both discussions are heavy on spoilers... and while we assume most of you have seen Scream by this point, Leslie Vernon is a more unknown flick. If you don't want to be spoiled, we can tell you this: It's an incredibly positive reaction from all three of us.) After the film discussions, we move on into the Tower. Jason has a new strategy... but will it work? Listen to find out!

Due to Podomatic bandwidth issues, I will no longer be placing the podcast player on the site. But you can easily listen and subscribe through iTunes!

Current Leaderboard
1) Rachel - 169 Points
2) Stevee - 108 Points
3) Jandy - 107 Points
4) Nikhat - 96 Points
5) Lindsay - 91 Points
6) Joanna - 83 Points
7) Jessica - FAIL

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR3) Dan Heaton - 176 Points
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) Rachel Thuro - 171 Points

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping  me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.


50/50 Review #14: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Despite the fact I live in Texas, I'm not a big fan of westerns. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy one every now and then, but in general, they aren't my cup of tea. So when I saw I had a western on this list, I was slightly wary. The story follows a lawyer and/or senator named Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) who comes back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of an old friend, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). The rest of the film is told in flashback as Ransom relays his story of how he came to shoot the evil outlaw, Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). He also gains the affection of a woman named Hallie (Vera Miles), who Doniphon also has the sweets for.

While I'm not a fan of westerns, I am a fan of Jimmy Stewart. I've basically enjoyed everything I've ever seen him in; even if I don't like the movie itself, I've always liked him in it. This is no exception... except I kinda enjoyed the movie this time, too. I have seen a number of Stewart's films; however, this would be my first John Wayne film (I know... gasp!). And he gave me pretty much everything I expected. He had a strong presence, a fun way of talking, and said "pilgrim" about a hundred times. And that was good enough for me. So the two of them were the strongest part of the film for me. The relationship between the two of them was great.

There were only two real downsides to me, though. The first being something rather major--Liberty Valance wasn't a menacing villain. Lee Marvin wasn't bad, per se, but the character was supposed to be this outlaw of epic and diabolical proportions. I expected him to show me why he struck fear into the hearts of all these people. Instead, he was more pathetic to me. He was only kind of scary when he had that whip thing, but he only used that maybe twice in the whole film. And when the title itself centers around his eventual death, I wanted him a little more terrifying. Not to mention the implications of having one of his no-name henchman be Lee Van Cleef, the freakin' BAD in Good/Bad/Ugly (OK, I know this came out before that, but still)! Because of all this, the big David and Goliath showdown didn't feel as hefty and suspenseful as it could have been. The second downside involved a couple of the subplots. First, there's a subplot where Stoddard teaches people to read that goes absolutely nowhere. Second, the political subplot that goes throughout the film and then takes up most of the third act is just... dull. I really didn't care at all about any of that.

Otherwise, the drama and the comedy was good (haven't really touched on the comedy, but there are some pretty funny moments in the film). Tom Doniphon was a really good character with a lot of internal conflict, particularly pertaining to the kind of "love triangle" with Hallie. So I did really like John Wayne, and I still really liked Jimmy Stewart. The turmoil he faces due to the truth of his story is well written and performed. If you're a fan of westerns, I can't imagine that, well, you haven't already seen this. But if you haven't, I have no doubt you'd enjoy it. If you're not a fan of westerns, I say it's worth watching for the two leads and their character archs alone.

I Am McLovin!



Very few expected this to be any good. How many modern horror movies are? Even as you first watch the trailer, it's just another silly teens-in-the-woods horror type. Then the second half of the trailer started... and there was something a little more to it. People became intrigued, myself included. And then the reviews started coming in, calling it one of the best horror films of the last few years, etc., and how you should go in as blind as possible. It soon became a must-see, and I went as soon as I possibly could have. But did it live up to the hype?

The Cabin in the Woods is about five friends--the 'virgin', Dana (Kristen Connelly); the slutty girl, Jules (Anna Hutchison); her buff boyfriend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth); his nice friend, Holden (Jesse Williams); and their stoner friend, Marty (Fran Kranz)--go to a remote cabin that Curt's cousin recently bought. But something dangerous is going on behind the scenes with two men, Satterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford), working for somebody that has seemingly a little too much power...

And that's all I'm gonna say. I agree with the others: go into this one as blind as possible, if you haven't already seen it at this point. To call this original is underselling it, I think. The story is intensely unique, and not since Scream has a movie taken its predecessors in the genre and lovingly kicked them in the balls. It takes everything you know of the genre and turns it on its head, playing with tropes and ideas. It's a smart film, a level of subtle meta that makes it more like an Easter Egg hunt of awesomeness than a "oh look how clever we are." But it's still pretty damn clever.

The characters are a big part of this, taking what are basically the dumb teens in every horror film and making you root for them, making you hate when any of them die. They are well written, thanks in part to Joss Whedon and his fantastic ear for dialogue, as well as his character building. I mean, nothing is overly complex about these characters. You're given enough to care, but not too much to the point where it feels forced. Let's not forget the "management" characters, who are also a hoot. There's a darkness to their actions, but it's almost always a light mood, with just that hint of desperateness.

This movie goes places you can't even begin to imagine, and the third act is just balls-to-the-wall insanity. (If excessive blood bugs you... you might want to steer clear.) The only downside is some CGI use, but it's only quick glimpses usually, and only for... things... that need it. Otherwise, it's practical all the way.

The movie is scary, intense, and really funny. It's an edge-of-your-seat kinda flick, and you never know when something is going to happen. The build-up is crazy, with scenes that have you cringing and twisting in your seat because you're expecting something, but most of the time it's just... playing with preconceived notions again. It's smart, clever, and amazingly original. If you're a fan of horror films, The Cabin in the Woods should be at the top of your list.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


V.G. Movies #14: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


This is the one I've been waiting for. This one was actually the inspiration behind this entire project. So if you're just going to read one of these articles, let it be this one! Warning... this one is a bit personal to me.


The Final Fantasy series, originally released by a company called Square, is one of the most successful and popular Role Playing Game series on consoles. However, this story begins with a completely different company and game series. This story begins with a company called Enix, which was founded in 1975. In 1982, a man named Yuji Horii wanted to take the idea of console RPGs and make them more mainstream and popular. He worked with the Famicom (Nintendo) because of its ability to "save" the game and not have to start all over. In 1986, he and Enix released their most popular title, Dragon Quest (renamed Dragon Warrior in the United States). The game wasn't as popular outside of Japan, mostly for one major reason.

In 1983, Square was founded. It wasn't long, however, before the company started having numerous financial troubles, coming quite close to bankruptcy. And one of the company's designers, Hironobu Sakaguchi, was saddened by his lack of success in the industry. Inspired by the Japanese success of Dragon Quest, Sakaguchi decided to attempt one last game. His swan song, which Square also hoped would help their own financial woes, came across in the form of an RPG. He called this game Final Fantasy, titled such because he assumed it would be his last game. Of course, it was a major success and became the company's biggest title, even overshadowing its inspiration, Dragon Quest/Warrior in the U.S. And the first five games were actually visually designed after anime director Hayao Miyazaki's work.

But the games have not always been translated easily over to U.S. soil. This is where things get a bit confusing. Final Fantasy II was released in Japan in 1988, but it wasn't released until 2003 in America until the release of Final Fantasy Origins on the Playstation. Then Final Fantasy III was released in Japan in 1990, but never left the country until 2006 when it was remade for the Nintendo DS. It actually wasn't until 1991 when Final Fantasy IV was released that America actually got a Final Fantasy II (which was just IV re-numbered). In 1992, Japan saw the release of Final Fantasy V, though it was considered too difficult for American gamers at the time and did not see an American release until it was re-released on Final Fantasy Anthology for the Playstation in 1999. Again, America did not see a Final Fantasy III until 1994, after Final Fantasy VI was released in Japan (also re-numbered for the U.S.).

And then there was the gap. In 1997, Final Fantasy VII was released for the Playstation (the first PSX Final Fantasy), and when it made its move to America, it kept that number. It wasn't until the different aforementioned combo collections later that the gap was filled. Anyway, this game is credited as "the game that sold the Playstation." It also mainstreamed the RPG for gamers outside of Japan. It sold a ridiculous amount of copies in a short amount of time, and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest selling game of the franchise, and it remains the most popular. It's considered one of the best and most important games of all time, and some argue one of the greatest games ever made. In fact, it's still garnering top spots on lists and critical success, over a decade later. There have been some spin-offs, a movie (which I'll get to in the near future), and years of debate and rumor on a possible future generation remake with better graphics and enhanced gameplay.

The same year, they began working on a movie. The company created Square Pictures, and basically invented the idea of photo-realistic characters in an animated film. In other words, this is the father of the motion capture technique. The film was originally going to be called Gaia, but went through (no kidding) fifty script rewrites. Its story, interestingly enough, shared some similarities to the crazy popular Final Fantasy VII. But not enough. The film took 4 years to finish with a budget of $137 million. It only made $83m back, a devastating blow to the company.

So devastating, in fact, that Square went belly-up, having put everything into this production. Ironic that the franchise that saved them was also the franchise that killed them. They could only do one thing if they wanted to continue--merge with their biggest rival in the gaming industry. In 2003, Square-Enix came into existence. Their first major release was Final Fantasy X... the most popular and successful of the franchise since VII.


There are three franchises that I credit with basically changing and/or altering my life to make me who I am today. Of course, most of you probably know the third (and arguably most important) being Harry Potter. The very first was Pokemon. Prior to that series, I was a very casual gamer, with some Mario or Sonic here and there (among other games, of course). But it was Pokemon that first made me addicted to something. I played... I collected... I read online fanfiction--one in particular that took the characters of the show, made them adults, and made the story very dark and thrilling. It was incredibly long and incredibly awesome... I've never been able to find it again, but that did something to me. It introduced me to the online world. I'd never had a reason to really get online before. I was a gamer. But still not a big one. Not until Final Fantasy. Backstory time.

The Christmas of 1999, at the ripe old age of 13, I was debating between wanting a Nintendo 64 and a Playstation. One day, however, I was at a Target with my mother, probably after church. I went off to the game section and... what did I find? A demo to a little game called Final Fantasy VIII. I'd never seen anything like it. I played for a while, running down the streets as these soldiers attacked me. Then I chose this summoning option and brought out who I later learned was Leviathan (and totally not available in that part of the actual game). I thought it was the coolest thing, this giant water serpent appearing in a tidal wave to attack these bad guys. My mind was set. I was getting a PSX and Final Fantasy VIII.

However, I got stuck in the game, and I didn't own a strategy guide. So I went onto that thing called the intarwebz and looked one up. On February 12, 2000, I stumbled across a website that--no hyperbole--changed me forever. There was an online forum (and eventually chat) where so much happened. I made friends, enemies, memories... so much fun, way too much drama. I learned some HTML, practiced with my own website skills, and eventually got into the dark, seedy world of chat-based role playing (like pencil/paper, but online). I never left my room. I was on the computer almost 24/7, and this became even more rampant once Harry Potter came into the equation... but that's another story. I'd say this went on for roughly 4-5 years. I was an internet junkie, even moreso than I am now (scary... terrifying, really).

But back on topic, I continued with the Final Fantasy series, eventually coming to own almost every game that came out from 7+ (including the re-releases of the older games with Chronicles, Anthology, Origins, etc.), and got other games Square released (Xenogears, etc.). I also branched out into other games, as well, but FF was always the favorite. I bought a PS2 just for FFX and a PS3 almost purely for FF12 (though, of course, I did get plenty of other games besides those for each system). Needless to say, it wasn't much of a transition when I eventually came online a lot for my movie fandom, stumbled across the good ol' Blog Cabins, and began blogging myself. None of which probably would have happened had I not gotten as addicted to the internet as I did, mostly thanks to the Final Fantasy series.

So you can imagine the excitement I had when I noticed Final Fantasy was being made into a movie. And not just any movie, but a photo-realistic one that was being advertised everywhere. The main character was even on mainstream magazines as like "Sexiest woman of the year" and whatnot. So I went to the theater when it came out... and did eventually buy it on DVD (it was actually my first DVD, if I recall... or at least one of the first couple). Despite the fact I would find ways to defend it, I still knew it was a godawful "adaptation." So with that being said... let us finally get into why.


As it pertains to a film adaptation for games, Final Fantasy is unique. With only a few exceptions (and practically all of them having come after this film), there are no direct sequels or overarching stories or characters in these games. (Almost) Each game is a brand new adventure with brand new characters. What ties the games together are a series of 'staples'. Each plot typically involves two stories--the one in the foreground and the one behind the scenes. The foreground story is typically political and more reality-based. The one behind-the-scenes is more fantasy-based and mysterious. And when combined together, they make a story rather epic in scale. Then there are chocobos, the giant yellow birds used similarly to horses. There are moogles/mogs, little white creatures with bon-bons on their heads. There's a guy named Cid who owns or has some sort of relation to an airship. There is typically a set of minor characters named Biggs and Wedge. There are random monsters you fight in the wild. There's magic. Along with the magic, there are 'summon' creatures used to help battle (with ones that tend to keep showing up throughout, like Shiva, Ifrit, Bahamut, etc.). And don't forget the epic, beautiful soundtracks by Nobuo Uematsu. And a few other little things.

Out of all of those Final Fantasy staples, this is what the film had: The political/fantasy story mix, and a guy named Cid with an airship... except they couldn't even get those right. The story had both elements, but ultimately did not have an 'epic' scale; as for the name, they spell it "Sid," not "Cid." The story takes place in the future of Earth (the only FF story to take place here), where an alien species had crash landed and taken over. These "Phantoms" can kill and/or infect anyone they come into contact with. Dr. Aki Ross (Ming-Na), working along side Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), is looking for "spirits"--specific energies that reside within particular living entities (these can be plants, people, etc.)--that, when put together, can help get rid of the phantom menace (sorry, couldn't resist) without destroying the planet's life force. There are seven in total that she's looking for, and she now has six. So she teams up with a special forces team, including Captain Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin), Ryan (Ving Rhames), Neil (Steve Buscemi), and Jane (Peri Gilpin). But the crazy General Hein (James Woods) wants to use a much bigger weapon that might cause more harm than good.

Despite its lack of staples, there are a number of connections that could be made with Final Fantasy VII, as I previously stated. A big, tough black guy (who at one point was supposed to have a gun-arm), a landmass with a giant serpent 'swimming' about, a giant cannon-like weapon that could do an insane amount of damage, a meteor, a climax in a crater, and--of course--Gaia... the "life stream" itself. This is a huge part of not only this film, but also of the aforementioned game. And there might have been one or two FF8 moments, as well (a tearful Zero-G make-out session in the helm of a spaceship to piano music after battling through a cargo bay?). But that's pretty much where any comparisons end.

As an adaptation, this movie fails in almost every regard. And that's highly disappointing since it was going to be pretty damn difficult to make this a poor adaptation. Because, as I said, there's no real story or set of characters to adapt. All it needed to do was take these basic concepts and include them, and it failed to do so. And I believe this is the reason most people dislike the film and the reason it failed at the box-office, due to the backlash from fans. This was not a Final Fantasy film; this was, pure and simple, a cash-in on the title. But does that necessarily make it a bad movie?

If you can get past the "this isn't a Final Fantasy movie" thing, it's really not all that bad. It has a pretty original story and take on the 'alien invasion' plot. The characters aren't all completely flat, and you do get connected to one or two of them. Steve Buscemi does well as the comic relief character. The action, when we have it, isn't too bad. It's not mind-blowing, but it's decent enough to work (this isn't an 'action' movie, really). The film is not perfect by any means, but it works.

And then you have the visuals. They were incredibly ground-breaking at the time--game changing, really. But today, they're maybe a little better than graphics for a PS3 game. It's a bit disorienting at first, actually, because they don't look fully rendered by today's standards, so you have to get used to the style. I'm not trying to detract, though. The graphics are incredibly impressive, especially for its time. And the stuff outside the people still looks pretty fantastic, too.

Overall, the movie is a terrible "adaptation" of the games, but as its own being, it's pretty decent. In my past defenses of the film, I've stated that Square should have stuck with its original title--Gaia. Had they done this and not tried to capitalize on the success of its flagship franchise, I believe the film would have--ironically--been more successful and better received. In fact, the little Final Fantasy touches it did have would have been seen more as little winks to fans of the company rather than the minimal, weak attempts of tying itself to the games as it was. In other words, the film's biggest true failure... was in its title.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


The Knobbies #3 - Winners!

Here y'all go! It's time for the winners of the third edition of The Knobbies! And after a little prodding, I actually got more votes for this one than the other two! My previous highest was 7 people. This one got 8. Exciting! (And kind of sad.) But here are the results...

Movies you'd most like to see a full-length version of with Nic Cage

With a total of 8 votes... we ended with a tie!

3 votes each for The Dark Knight and The Room! In second place, we had 2 votes for Mortal Kombat. No votes for The Princess Bride.


Best Kai Outfit

Also with 8 votes and a tie, 4 votes went to both the Zebra Snuggie and the Panda Hat/Yoshi backpack (though my personal vote goes for the latter).


Biggest Season 4 Shock (Spoilers!)

8 votes... and NO tie!

In first place, with 5 votes... Sheep's death! In second place, with 2 votes, Cokie being at Nick's door. And in third place, Rachel killing Jess.


Best Improv

This one got only 7 votes for some reason, but it's a not-even-close winner!

And that winner is, with 4 votes... Kai's "You hit me in the ball!"/"You got the other one" moments in the finale.


Worst Impression/Accent in Season 4

8 Votes and another tie.

The winners are, with 3 votes each... Dylan as Nic Cage as Vizzini and Dylan as Nic Cage as Wiseau. I have to say, I'm kinda shocked at the Wiseau, which I thought was pretty great. Maybe not enough Cage in the Wiseau? Who knows...

But second place goes to Steve's Fake Cajun.


Favorite Body Switched Character

8 Votes and a single winner...

Nic Cage (in Dylan's Body)! As if there would be any other...

There was a tie for second, both of them being Tom (either Barry in Nigel's body or Nigel in Barry's). And third went to Jason (in Sheep's Body).


Favorite Other Character

It's a pattern, it seems. 8 votes and a tie.

In first place, with 3 votes each, are Sebastian and Kai!

And in second place is The VooDoo Man.


Best Part of Season 4 Finale

Too many ties, dang it! 8 votes, and both winners with 3 each...

Mortal Kombat segment and Nolahn's Shameless Self-Promotion.

In second place is another tie, Sheep's sad montage and Sebastian turning evil.


Favorite Non-Story Time Episode (Excluding the Finale)

7 votes and no tie... with 3 votes, the winner is....

Episode 10: The Return! (Where Barry and Nigel switch back to normal and I do a ton of dog puns)

In a tie for second, all with 1 vote each, episodes 1, 2, and 8. No love for episode 6, apparently.


Favorite Story Time Episode

And we're back to 8 votes and a tie. The winners, with 3 votes each...

Episode 7: The Room and Episode 9: A Vlog Renewed (I honestly thought it would have gone to the latter due to all the love it got during its premiere).

Second place went to Episode 3: The Dark Knight.


Least Favorite Season 4 Episode

See, this is a strange one. With a total of 6 votes... a grand total of 2 went to this winner...

Episode 10: The Return (Where Barry and Nigel switch back to normal and I do a ton of dog puns).

Yeah... it's both the favorite AND least favorite episode of the season. Second place is a tie between episodes 3, 6, 8, and 9 (some of which were voted for in the 'favorites' categories, which adds to confusion). Oh well.


Favorite Overall Season 4 Episode (Excluding the Finale)

And yet... more stuff that makes no sense. 8 votes total. 3 of them go to the winner...

Episode 9: A Vlog Renewed! Which was not the sole winner of the favorite Story Time episode category.

In second place we have... Episode 10: The Return. And in third, there's a tie with episodes 3, 4, and 7.


Favorite Vocal Performance

A runaway winner. 8 votes, and 7 of them went to...

They were both awesome. Yay for both James and Nolahn!

And in second place, with 1 vote, is just Nolahn. (Sorry, James?)


Favorite Story Time Performance (Dylan)

8 votes. Tie with 3 each.

Dylan/Cage was The Joker and Dylan/Cage as Johnny (The Room).... which, again, the latter performance won one of the worst impressions category.

Second place goes to a tie of Vizzini and, shockingly, Nick (with a k).


Favorite Story Time Performance (Not Dylan)

8 votes and another runaway win. 7 of them go to...

Upset Sebastian. Yay, Sebastian!

1 vote went to Nolahn in A Vlog Renewed.


Favorite Comedic Actor in Season 4

8 votes and a single winner with 4 votes...

Kai! Congrats!

Second place has a tie between Dylan and Sebastian.


Best Actor in Season 4

Now, the one you've all been waiting for... with 8 votes and a single win (4 votes)...


Second Place: Sebastian
Third Place (tie): Nick and Kai



What was your favorite moment this season?

Only 4 people put anything. Here's what was said:

"Nolahn's self-promotion made me laugh quite hard."
"What happened to Sebastian imitating Jason for 2 seconds. That was hilarious!"
"The final fight between Dylan and Kai."
"Filming the Kai/Dylan fight." (lol)


What was your least favorite moment this season?

Again, only 4 people. Here's what was said:

"Poor, poor sheep!"
"There wasn't one, and I'm a big 'ol softie!"
"When it was all over. (Aww!)"
"One-sentence Reviews."

I wasn't aware my OSR's were disliked! I'll keep that in mind.


Who do you think will die in Season 5 (the final season)?

Most people (4 votes) actually think James and Nolahn's voices will die. In second place (3 votes), people think Nick, Kai, and Sebastian are going to die. In third place (2 votes), people think Jason, Barry, and Cokie will die. And in fourth place (1 vote), somebody thinks Dylan, The VooDoo Man, and Rachel are going to die. Nobody believes everyone is safe.


50/50 Review #13: His Girl Friday.

This marks my first Howard Hawkes flick, and jumpin' jehosaphat... what a doozy! Ex-journalist Hildy (Rosalind Russell) is getting married to Bruce (Ralph Bellamy), but first needs to tell her old boss and ex-husband, Walter (Cary Grant). But Walter goes out of his way, using all his resources, trying to make sure she doesn't end up marrying the guy so that she will end up back with him and at his paper. And unfortunately, a potentially wrongly accused murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen) is going to be hanged the following day, and his story becomes further and further intertwined with theirs.

I felt like I couldn't breath the entire movie. The acting style had everyone speaking about five times as fast Social Network, and all on top of each other. Honestly, it was completely fascinating and rather humorous (I even laughed out a loud a couple times). Of course, an hour-and-a-half of it came to be a bit much at times. The comedic timing of the actors mixed with the whip-crack speed of the dialogue was outstanding, even if it was difficult to keep up sometimes. And hey, there were even a couple meta jokes!

The story took me into unexpected places, too. I was expecting the one where Walter tries to stop Hildy from getting married again. But what I didn't expect was the newspaper angle and all the wrongfully accused murderer stuff. That was a unique twist to this story that kept me guessing where the film was gonna be going next. I also appreciated the con artist feel of the film. It was like Hildy and Walter were trying to out-con each other throughout the film, and then there was even an ending not unlike that of a con artist flick.

And... that's about it. Really. Outside of the brilliant, witty dialogue and the incredible speed with which it was said, the film doesn't really offer up much else (though I'm sure we could bring feminism up here pretty easily). At least not on a first viewing. The characters are fascinating, and the actors who portray them do so excellently. But everything this movie has to offer resides in its words. All five billion of them (potential hyperbole). Ironic how this review seems to be just the opposite.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. If there's anything more specific you want to talk about, just hit me up in the comments!)

Post #1000!

You can expect the next 50/50 Review later today... but I just wanted to put this in here now. So... yeah, this is my 1000th post at R2D2! This is going to be a big year for me here. Besides this 1000th post, this December will be my 5th year. I'll get through the 5th season (and second year) of The Demented Podcast. I'll wrap up The Vlog with Season 5. (And hopefully get a Vlog Movie together.) I'll wrap up the 50/50 series, as well as the video game movie series. And, of course, I have some other big things up my sleeve.

But I won't share those other big things... just yet. Thanks to all my readers who have allowed me to post 1000 times (and counting). Y'all are great!


V.G. Movies #13: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


In 1996, a production company named Core Design released a game called Tomb Raider on the not-so-successful Sega Saturn, along with PC. Not too long after those releases, it came out on the PlayStation, bringing the system the success it acquired during the mid-90s. The game stars one of the most famous and popular female video game icons, Lara Croft, a British adventurer akin to Indiana Jones. Interestingly, Lara was just a male placeholder until they came up with another character. But as they developed the game further, they realized a female was the best idea, so Lara stayed.

The games' stories don't particularly matter, as the film doesn't follow any of them. But what each game does include are a set of expectations. At her home, Lara has a butler named Wilson who will follow her around. She goes on adventures around the world, typically having to fight rivals, mythical monsters or other magical things. There's a lot of puzzle solving, and there's a lot of gunplay and skin-revealing and/or skin-tight outfits.

The games gained such an immense popularity that the stress of it was too much for Core Design. After the fourth game, they "killed off" Lara, only to have a fifth game that gave us a flashback adventure... and a sixth game that brought her back to life. Unfortunately, the sixth game bombed, and Core Design handed over the title to Crystal Dynamics in 2006... but that's a story for next time.

In 2001, director Simon West (previously known for Con Air) gave us a film version starring the perfectly cast Angelina Jolie. And most people agreed that Jolie was great casting, but... the film wasn't all that great. However, it did hold the highest-grossing video game film title up until the Prince of Persia movie (more on that one later this year).

I tried playing one of the games years ago, but couldn't get into it (and I didn't like how the controls worked). But I did see this film in theater and remember not disliking it. We all know, however, that memories of yore do not necessarily hold up today. With that said, let's see what I feel about this adaptation.


Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is a treasure hunter and/or tomb raider who lives in a giant mansion with her butler, Hillary (Chris Barrie) and techie friend Bryce (Noah Taylor). One day she finds a clock left by her father (Jon Voight... in the movie, too), which brings her into an adventure against the Illuminati--including member Manfred Powell (Iain Glen)--to get two triangle pieces and become masters of time. Also helping, though which side is questionable, is an old friend named Alex West (Daniel Craig). So what'd I think?

Boobs. Boobs boobs boobs. That's the biggest part of the character of Lara Croft (no pun intended). They even padded Angelina Jolie up so she could be closer to the video game character in size (and even they thought the 36DD size was too big and unrealistic to jump Jolie up that big). But with the breast size and tight shirts, it's really almost all you can think about while watching anything in this film. There's even a slow motion running sequence in the climax. The other key character trait? Her guns. And she does shoot them. But you know what I find kind of funny? She never once shoots a human with them in the whole film (she shoots at things that will fall on/hurt/whatever other humans, but never does a bullet come out of her gun and go into another person).

Seriously, though, from what I've read, they tried to toss in some key characteristics of Lara for the fans, despite it being a brand new story and... changing a lot. The butler's name is different. They added in a tech friend. They add in the character of Alex West, pretending that there is some personal history between the two which is hardly explained.

The biggest fault of the film is almost the laziness of the story and characters. I mean, the story is there and it isn't half bad. But what it's lacking is any sort of development or depth. The story goes places that don't make any sense sometimes. What's with the little ghost girls? What the hell was going on at the climax with Croft and the bad guy running up the pyramid after the pyramid piece thing? And a handful of other things that just happen with no explanations.

Then you have the characters, which are bland. Lara has the relationship with her father, but besides that, she's just a pair of boobs with guns. Her father's story is somewhat interesting, but it could have been fleshed out a lot more. The casting of Jolie's actual father was inspired, but they share so few scenes that the chemistry isn't given time to build, making me really not care. The character of Alex West (the last name taken from the director) is dull, but it's not anything to do with Daniel Craig, who I actually think gives more personality here than in more of his recent roles. The most backstory we're given is a picture of Croft in the military with Alex West in the background. That's it. You don't know if he's supposed to be good or bad, how he ended up working with the bad guys, any kind of motivation outside "money," or any other real connection with Lara. The character of Bryce is fun, but pointless. He invents a giant fighting practice robot named Simon (after the director... I'm sensing a pattern here), and he helps once or twice in the first half of the film, but is otherwise useless. The butler is awesome, though, but totally underused. And then, of course, we're just given your standard villains; nothing special or interesting about them whatsoever.

On the flip side we get some thought-out and fun action sequences. They might be over-the-top and completely unbelievable, but they're a lot of fun. I'm particularly a fan of the mansion break-in sequence that begins with the bungee cord ballet. There are a lot of fun moments in that whole action sequence. I think had they spent as much time planning out the characters and whatnot as they did the action, this could have been an even more solid flick.

The visuals were also done pretty well, too. The robot Simon looks great. The climax bits look good, and the CGI still holds up there. Everything was made to look great and realistic... which really shocked me come the Cambodian temple sequence. There is so much crappy CGI here, it made me wonder if the same team worked on part of the film that worked on the rest. The silver liquid that makes an equally CGI stone piece float into the air is awful. Hell, Terminator 2 made silver liquid look 100% better almost 20 years prior. Then you have the stone monsters, all of which look incredibly fake and do not hold up well at all. But, still, everything outside of this whole set piece looks really, really good.

On the whole, I actually don't think it's a bad movie. It's not great, but it ain't bad. Some effort was put into this... just not nearly enough. I think it needed a few more script revisions. The action itself was really good and a lot of fun, even if the majority of it was physically implausible. The film is moderately entertaining with the potential of being very entertaining. But I guess they were a little too preoccupied with the guns and the boobs.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


The Demented Podcast #37 - Fairy Tales.

Yeah, I know. Not a very creative title... but I couldn't find anything else particularly thematic from the episode to put in there. Anyway, we're joined this episode by Rachel Thuro. We state in the episode that she is of Rachel's Reel Reviews; however, this was recorded immediately before her announcement, and she is now of the site Reel Insight. She's here to talk with us about fairy tale flicks Ladyhawke and MirrorMask.

Then... this former Battle Royale winner and former BR runner-up takes on The Tower yet again. Will this Tower Veteran score the highest of the season... or will she fumble early? Listen to find out!

Current Leaderboard
1) Stevee - 108 Points
2) Jandy - 107 Points
3) Nikhat - 96 Points
4) Lindsay - 91 Points
5) Joanna - 83 Points
6) Jessica - FAIL

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR3) Dan Heaton - 176 Points
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) Rachel Thuro - 171 Points

Due to Podomatic bandwidth issues, I will no longer be placing the podcast player on the site. But you can easily listen and subscribe through iTunes!

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping  me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.


50/50 Review #12: City Lights.

My first experience with Charlie Chaplin was last year with the fantastic Great Dictator, which I count as my "half second" silent film, since it's only partially a silent film, and I'd only seen one prior to that. My full second was The Artist about a month ago. So now we're back to Chaplin again for what is my third full silent feature, as well as being what is considered one of his best films.

We center on a Tramp (Charlie Chaplin), who saves an eccentric billionaire (Harry Myers) from killing himself one evening as he's drunk. They "befriend" each other, though the billionaire only remembers the tramp when he's drunk. He also meets a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill), with whom he almost immediately falls in love with. The tramp is then tasked with finding a way to get money to pay for a new eye operation that will allow the blind girl to see--but at the risk of losing her when she sees him and realizes he's not a rich man, but just a tramp.

What I love about Charlie Chaplin is his creativity. Every scene is a new gag, while at the same time moving the story forward. And every gag works and is very clever and funny. Everything feels almost like a martial arts film due to how finely choreographed everything is, but I'm talking a Jackie Chan flick where everything is rather comical and "purposefully sloppy," I guess you could say. I'm always amazed at the routines pulled off and how exact the timing had to be.

The story here is a simple one, but a good one nonetheless. There's the very sweet relationship between the tramp and the blind girl, and a strange, but interesting "friendship" between the tramp and the billionaire. I was actually kind of surprised at some of the darkness of the story and some of the places it went. When I think Chaplin, I think more whimsy (even with Dictator). So when I get suicide attempts, drunken tomfoolery, and a bit of gun play, I was a wee bit shocked.

If I had any problems, they were small and few and far between. The biggest that sticks out in my mind being that some of the gags go on a little too long and feel repetitive. Did they need to fall in the water three times and have the same exact reactions and outcomes all three times? Things like that. But, again, it was only here and there.

On the whole, I think I'm becoming quite a fan of Mr. Chaplin and will seek out some other works of his, most definitely. I might even branch out and watch a few more silent flicks of other varieties. But mostly Chaplin for now. I always seem to have a lot of fun with his flicks and never fail to have a smile on my face while watching. He's just so... charming and fun.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


MonthWatch - March 2012.

[I'm going to keep a monthly tally of the movies I've both watched for the first time and as re-watches. I think it'll be interesting to see what all I've watched at the end of the year and how many. That being said, let's do it. Here's the next month.]

Note: While it seems I'm forgetting some, especially in the rewatch department, I apparently watched the exact same overall amount of movies as last month (39), just split up differently.

The Artist
- Loved it.
The Hunger Games
- Great adaptation!

Juno - It came on TV one night, and I decided to just watch. Didn't even think about the fact I'd be watching Hard Candy later in the month.
Independence Day
- Came on right after Juno.
Mortal Kombat Annihilation - For V.G. Movie article. Bad. Really bad.
Waiting For Superman (x6)
- Yeah, I watched it in class... so I technically watched it 6 times. Very interesting flick.
Hard Candy
- For DemPod. Still love it.
Pokemon: The First Movie
- For V.G. Movie article. Eh.
- Still think it's awesome.
- I was up for some sci-fi action. I still really like it, even if others don't.
Wing Commander
- For V.G. Movie article. Eh.
- For DemPod. Love it!

Spork - Very quirky and entertaining, though not perfect.
Green Lantern
- Ouch.
Roxanne - For DemPod. Steve Martin is excellent in it!
Ruthless People
- For 50/50. I liked it!
Footloose (2011) - Decent remake, but crappy music.
- Good concept; forgettable film.
- For 50/50. Brilliant!
The Adventures of Tin Tin
- For MILF. Expected SO much more. Not that great.
The Grifters
- For DemPod. Second half was really good.
The Lookout
- Underrated JoGo flick. Pretty good!
The Descendants
- Not as depressing as I expected. I liked it.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
- Very confusing, and I didn't care for it.
Big Trouble in Little China
- For 50/50. Awesome.
The Parole Officer
- Fun at the time, though kind of forgettable afterwards.
The Muppets
- For MILF. It was alright. Harmless fun.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
- I liked it, surprisingly (given my history with the franchise).
Three Amigos!
- For 50/50. My little buttercup...
The Sitter
- Totally surprised by this after all the bad reviews. I thought it was funny.
Young Adult
- Eh. Patton Oswalt was good, though.
- For DemPod. A lot of fun!

A Dangerous Method - For MILF. Best performance out of Keira Knightley I've seen yet. Otherwise dull.
Pokemon: The Movie 2000
- For V.G. Movie article. Eh.


Theatrical - 3
Re-Watch - 59
First Time - 63
TOTAL - 125


V.G. Movies #12: Pokemon: The Movie 2000 - The Power Of One.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


A couple weeks ago, I discussed the history of and my personal fandom of Pokemon, as well as my thoughts on the first Pokemon movie. My discussion of the games ended with Red, Blue, and Yellow. However, in 1999, the world saw the release of the next generation: Silver and Gold. Personally, while I did buy these games, I never got more than halfway through, as I was (at that point) at an age where I was moving on into other types of games.

But this new generation put the player in a new "region" (as opposed to what came to be known as the "Kanto" region of the original games) called the Johto region. Not only was there a new region, but 100 brand spankin' new Pokemon, bringing the total up to 251. The story of the games isn't really all that important since, as you might have guessed from the previous article, the films are mostly adaptations of the TV show. Now, the TV show gets its ideas and whatnot from how the games evolve (no pun intended), but that's about it.

With the show starting to get new types of Pokemon introduced, the movies, of course, are going to capitalize on this, as well. Therefore, in 1999 (ironically), we were given the second film, Pokemon: The Movie 2000.


It has come to my attention that practically every Pokemon movie (and there are roughly a dozen at this point) actually had a theatrical release--mostly just in Japan, though. Due to this new-found information, I came to a conclusion for something I had only been thinking about doing before. In a spin-off series to this one (yeah, MORE work for me), I'm going to actually watch and review not only the remaining Pokemon films, but the anime series itself (since I stopped playing the games, I suppose I'd need a frame of reference to new characters, new pokemon, etc.). These PokeReviews will be given every so often--no real specified time--so as to not interfere with and/or slow down the rest of this current project. I'm sure I have nobody really interested in this whatsoever, but... truth be told... I guess it'll be mostly for me anyway. And hey, if you want to read and comment anyway, cool. Anyway, back to the film that actually is on this current project list.


Whereas the first film focused on the most powerful pokemon of the original games, this film goes back a step in line and looks at the 3 Legendary Birds, plus a new one from Silver and Gold. This film centers around The Collector who, well, collects legendary pokemon. He's after the three Legendary Birds, Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno so that he can summon and capture the most powerful of them all, Lugia. Of course, it's up to Ash and friends to stop him and save the day before the imbalance of nature caused by taking the birds destroys the world.

There is a great, epic adventure idea behind the film. But, as with the first film, it fails to fully capture that idea. But here, whereas the first film just fails at the more adult themes, this film fails on a few other levels. First and foremost, there is no real sense of dread or menace. MewTwo, despite everything, was a very menacing villain and presence. Here, we're just given a rich douchebag who doesn't care if the world is destroyed through his bird collection. Even the eventual fight between the Legendary Birds isn't all that grand because everything is pulled back and focused on the characters rather than the epic scale and destructive nature of the fight. It just kind of happens in the background.

There is also somewhat of a failure in the character department, too. The film assumes you follow along with the show, as Brock is gone and there are a couple new characters. Even the Power Rangers movies gave you continuity in the films while changing thing in their own ways on the show to suit the changes of the films. Anyway, Ash is kind of annoying in the film--very wishy washy. One minute, he can be crying and terrified. One second later, he'll be cocky and stubborn, as if he hadn't been crapping his pants just seconds before. Then there's the fact that the movie decides to explore the relationship between Ash and Misty... but it goes absolutely nowhere. You're exactly where you were before. Misty likes Ash, but does nothing about it. The only cool character moment is with Team Rocket. They decide to be good guys and help Ash for once. That's cool. Except it's only because Lugia has him crossing through a battlefield on his own instead of just flying him across--which is exactly what he does for the return trip. Not to mention he was at his side most of the trip over, blocking attacking. If he can do it there, why not just let him ride him across? But there's also the moment they're willing to die for the cause, which is fantastic and kind of shocking.

The animation isn't even as good as the first film. The first film was cool looking and stylish. It felt very cinematic. Here, it felt like just an extended episode of the show. The 20-minute short film before it centering on Pikachu's rescue of Togepi has better animation and has moments that are fantastic artistically. A totally different style. But in the main feature, none of the animation ever made me go "Oh, that's pretty cool." They even dropped the ball on the flying fortress that the collector lives in, which could have been some cool Miyazaki-esque thing, but instead is just this boring CGI thing.

So what you get is a film that is rather dull and nonsensical with a story that leaves you wanting something more. It's not poorly drawn, but it's nothing new or exciting. The scale wants to be grand, but the direction was off, taking out the suspense, excitement, etc. that it could have had. There are no menacing villains, either, and it really pulls back in the ambition and emotion department. At least the first film attempted something with more punch to it (and from what I've heard, the unedited Japanese version of the first film is actually much better, taking out plot holes and adding even more depth and emotion to MewTwo's backstory). It seems to know where it faltered in the original film and didn't tread that territory again, but it also took out some things that made the first film good. Here, we get a few hints at an Ash/Misty romance and Team Rocket having some character growth. The overall film just could have been... more than what we had.

Feed Me, Seymour!


The Knobbies #3.

It's that time again! Another season of The Vlog has gone by. You know what that means? Yup. The Knobbies! This is where you all get to vote on your favorite and least favorite things in the past season (though there's not as much "least favorite" this time around). This time I have 20 questions for you to go through. Remember, if you need help remembering what each episode included, you can go to "The Vlog" page and read a quick summary.

The poll will be open for roughly 2 weeks and can be found by clicking here. Vote now!