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Family Guy (1999)
Started out great, but along the way stuck its head it up its....
Oy Family Guy. What happened? I mean really, when it started off in '99. It was interesting, fresh after all those years of The Simpsons dominating the airwaves as...well the only prime-time animated show (And I still love that show btw). Plus willing to go beyond what ever Jerry Springer couldn't accomplish on TV when it came to taste, yet still keep it clever and witty. That was the first three seasons during its initial run before FOX pulled the plug due to floundering ratings. Then Adult Swim picked up the show, the fandom responded in force and brought the DVDs. The sales and AS's ratings made FOX reconsider and soon they put Family Guy back on the air.
The thing of it was it wasn't the same as before.
We all know the premise by now. Its showcases the daily antics of Peter Griffin and his oddball family. Rational wife Lois, dim-witted son Chris, whiny teen daughter Meg, intellectual dog Brian and megalomaniac baby Stewie. Course their just the centerpieces of the wry and crass humor of the show with it cutaways and shout outs to numerous pop culture media. Ho-hum. And that was just fine, in a way it was a parody of the standard TV show clichés; humor, drama or otherwise. And when the characters were acting out these bits it was fun to watch. Pushing the humor was an added plus that helped Family Guy stand out from the crowd.
But after the series came back from it cancellation. It seemed like it got a big head and figured they might as well just do whatever rather then really thinking things through for their stories. Jokes become more longer and stretched out, the characters more stupider (Peter), Crass (Lois), one note (Meg and her constant abuse), snarlier (Chris, though truthfully I don't mind him all that much. In fact he the only one still in character), Pussier (Brian, OH GOD Brian) and over the top gay (No guesses who this is). And the whole premise...well it just seems like "oh hey we got the power of TV and you don't. Watch us lord it over you. Wanna complain about, ooh too bad NAH NAH NAH NA NA NA!".
Things got much more mean spirited. Its okay when you do this once or twice, but doing it every week just loses the appeal. The newfound self-awareness doesn't make the show smarter nor help it either. If anything, it drives the audience away because if feel so pretentious and no one likes being talked down too. Also the focus on Stewie and Brian become too heavy handed for its own good. Course you can blame the writers for not making the other characters any more interesting then the above mentioned characterizations rather then trying to actually develop them (Don't know anything about teenage girls? Really you guys can't just do research or create you own idea of what their like?). Way to dig your own trap guys. And the jokes? Well they were already hit or miss. But if they think drawing them out gonna make stuff funnier, the current writers either need to be fired or take another crash course in humor. Good jokes are to the point and don't overstay there welcome, something FG is sorely lacking in its recent seasons (as of this review).
So rather then a show that was once witty and clever. Its now a show that thinks it witty and clever. Sad but true, even those that stayed on this long will have to admit it. Is there still hope for the show? Yes if it ever gets some competent writers that don't write the first joke that comes to mind. As it is now...(shakes head) all I can say is "Pitiful".
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
A fine little known gem of a vampire movie!
If its one thing I know its vampires. And this film hits all the mark for me, it just a shame it not as well know in the world of horror cinema out there but hey it happens. Still famous or no, It been my pleasure to happen upon Count Yorga and even moreso to see it in its entirety after purchasing it from a Best Buy along with its sequel "Return of Count Yorga".
Premise: The film opens with a coffin being transported to Los Angeles with a sinister atmosphere around it. We then go to a séance where a group of people are trying to contact a recently deceased mother of one of their own, Donna, hosted by Yorga himself. He seem normal enough, charming and polite to a fault. However we quickly find out otherwise when he attacks two of the party guests when their car "conveniently" break down outside his manor. From there it only proceed to get worse for the humans as the girl of the couple, Erica, show strange symptoms and bite marks on her neck and the males of the group start to suspect their something not right about Yorga. But can they figure it out before Yorga strikes again? Plot-wise, it very simple and to the point. Like a modern day Dracula, only the characters, good or bad, are much more genre savvy about what going on and what to do. Though that said, when you see the "heroes" of the story you can pretty much predict the outcome for them. Is that a bad thing? Heck no. Its a horror flick after all and that half the fun. This is Yorga's movie anyway and Robert Quary give a great performance as the title vampire. Sly, slick and menacing all at once. This is a guy you just love to root for even if he is the bad guy.
And of course every vampire needs victims and the vamps (i.e. woman) here are just as excellent. They have sort of a zombie vibe to them sans the decaying flesh part, yet that makes them more attractive (if your into that sorta thing). What adds a extra point for me is that they wisely give the female vamp just as much screen time as Yorga, so you get to see them in all their undead glory.
There is a bit of fanservice (breasts showing, partial nudity) as this was mean as a soft core porno flick. But nothing overly gratuitous (one scene that might rise eyebrows is when Yorga has two vamps um...cuddle). Same goes for gore, there a little of it but it very cheap looking. So nothing those easily offended or too squeamish should raise a fuss over.
Overall, the horror is pretty dated and you can tell it was used as a drive-in flick (the trailer even looks as such). But if your a fan of vampire films, this is one you don't want to pass up for your collection. Rest in Peace Robert Quarry (who died in 2009), thanks for entertaining us.
Leroy & Stitch (2006)
An excellent swan song to the TV series.
When the L&S movie came out way back in 2002, I didn't really think much of it other then the fact that is was different from the usual Disney fare (Fairy tales, etc) not to mention wholly original. However ironically I wouldn't get on the fan wagon until the TV series to which I then watched the movie. Granted they were two completely different monsters with the series focusing more on adventure but still I dug it for what it was and enjoyed the expansions of all the characters within (save for Cobra Bubbles whose VA couldn't be bothered).
But alas it's the end of the line now as the L&S series takes it final bow with its fourth (Yes FOURTH) and final movie in the series that wraps everything up and actually does it quite nicely.
Premise: The 626 experiments from the TV series have all been caught, reformed and been given their one true place on Earth. As such Lilo, Snitch, Pleakly and Jumba are regarded as heroes but what more surprising the latter three have now been given a chance to leave Earth and find their own true places as well, but of course this mean they'll have to leave Lilo and Nani behind. If that wasn't bad enough, Hamsterviel (the main thorn in our heroes side since Stitch the Movie) has once again escaped from prison with yet another fiendish plan of his own that involving making a duplicate of our favorite blue koala looking alien only of course evil and then trying to conquer the universe. Can Stitch, Lilo and their ohana stop him?
To say the least the movie wraps things very well with a few shade of the themes from the first film (though not as heavy handed) and actually falls back on continuity of the series for fans of it though you don't have to watch it to truly understand all of it. Plus we get some rather cool battles as well, nothing mind blowing but still enough to whet your appetite. Whats even better we get to see all the experiments (even some that wasn't featured in the series) take a quick spotlight role especially near the end when everything hits the fan. So fans of the series(myself included) shouldn't be disappointed here.
The only downsides I can think of is some issues not getting resolved ranging from minor (Do Nani and David ever really get together?) to major (Lilo and Myrtle's platonic friendship which was barely touched upon in this film. In fact I thought the latter's involvement in the film was kinda tacked on. And why aren't there more scenes of Victoria or the "Yeah" girls, there're just a part of this as Myrtle is?) But other then those issue, there not much to complain about.
Overall is a nice send off to a very great franchise and fans of the series shouldn't be disappointed. I'll admit am gonna miss this series but then again, going off by the ending of the movie, we may not have heard the last of the quirky little Hawaiian girl and her "mutant" dog ;).
One Piece (1999)
One of the most excellent adventure series to date. But the U.S. dub almost ruins it.
I believe I don't need to tell you that anime has hit like a brick in the U.S.'s pop culture and quite frankly I couldn't be happier. Mainly cause it nice to see animation that aren't afraid of leaving the kiddy realm and that they can be taken seriously (a fact most of the older generation down here just won't accept). Of course its also nice to see a story that caters to both sides and is always worth coming back to, case in point say hello to One Piece. May look childish but it is the most complex story I've ever had the joy of encountering...at least in graphic novel form when it retains their original shape. Sadly once again political correctness reared it ugly head down here when it came time to see the animated version. You know what that means anime lovers, KID...FRIENDLY...DUB!
Premise: The story follows the massive adventure of Monkey D. Luffy (Luffy for short) as he seeks the titled treasure to become the king of pirates, even though he cursed from eating a Devil Fruit that gives him rubber powers but prohibits him from swimming forever. Soon gaining a crew with their own unique quirks and goals and sailing the dangerous yet wondrous Grand Line in their quest.
So far the U.S is still in it starting chapters of this series (as of this writing) but One Piece has shown an very interesting take at storytelling, what may seem obvious to the viewer and the characters could actually have another deeper meaning to really stun you when it revealed and its these little twists that keep you coming back for more of the story. Of course the main characters are a charming lot too with their faults and strengths. And as overused as it is in cartoons, a bond of a very tight friendship that help them threw their battles.
Speaking of which, talk about a bunch of creative rumbles. Be it against other devil fruit users, major weapons, martial arts, sword play or against the elements themselves. Luffy and his crew take on all comers and the viewers are definitely in for a show once everything hits the fans.
Animation wise, its not bad. Some of the attacks lose a bit of their impacts from the comic but it still very cool to see everything unfolding with movement and color. The downside to this is the dreaded DBZ syndrome where a couple of episodes are dedicated to the back and forth struggle of the fights. Still if you're a fan of the series, you might stay for the long run.
Alas a company called 4Kids has picked this up on the United States behalf and if the name is any indication, its going to be edited the crap out of. Now, unlike most anime viewers, I have nothing against dubs. Yes they may not match the quality of the originals but they do try their best. But with 4Kids its another story. I know they can't show blood, obscene gestures, and the like and thats fine with me. But seriously do they have to, HAVE TO, edit silly little tibits like guns the way they do (they turn them into water guns and hammer gizmos for crying out loud, surly they can do better then that. Calling them blasters or boomsticks would've at least been a little better.)
Much worse however is the changes to the story lines, what so bad about the word death and any reference to it. Kids learn about it eventually, heck DBZ didn't even try to ignore it. So what the point of covering it up by having characters "in a coma" or "been taken away"? I mean they don't have to show the death, but don't act like it didn't happen, thats insulting the series material. And for quality sake, I wish they stop adding ad-libs to scenes that don't need them.
Voice wise, its somewhat decent. Let get the good out of the way and say that Zoro (or Zolo though I don't care which name hes called), Nami, and at least most of the villains sound their roles. But Luffy, ugh way too young for a TEENAGER and screechy. Ussop, well it kinda fits him but it needs to be a little more solidified to suit the character. And Sanji? If it didn't sound like a pillow was stuck down his throat it would've been all right.
Music is also not bad though I am curious what the original track sounds like and I will commend 4Kids for the intro (yes I LIKED IT). Very catchy after a couple of viewings though of course it doesn't hold a candle to the original material. Kinda wish they used the 2nd opening with English lyrics but good job on the intro nonetheless.
Still though 4Kids does stay a bit faithful to the manga and retain some of the scenes and dialogue which am happy about, but if they really wanna please the fans their gonna have to step it up on the content level and stop with what they think the animation needs besides lack of the offensive (blood, gore, and cursing).
Overall I love the story, characters, situations and the grand scale of the adventure of the series in general. But am going to have to hang my head down on the dub which barely does the series justice. Still if you don't care much for how good a dub is done or have never heard of the series then the One Piece dub may be worth viewing (though for the latter, I recommend reading the manga for a better experience.). Everyone else, wait for the uncut DVD version which 4Kids have graciously decided to release or check out a fansub (the original Japanese version with subtitles). It might be better then what us yanks tried to make of the show.
Sin City (2005)
Congrats Frank Miller, Hollywood didn't wreak this one!
I'll admit right now, I've never read the graphic novel of which this film is based and ,being a fan of mystery and noir, am surprised I didn't hear of this series sooner up until the trailers. But a little digging got me caught up and interested in what this movie had to offer (that and the fact that Texas own, Robert Rodriguez, was directing the film :)).
Premise: Based of three tales of the series (That Yellow Bastard, Hard Goodbye, and Big Fat Kill) Sin City follows the "heroes" of their stories as they deal with their situations in the famed city of hard (VERY hard) knocks.
The first act, Hard Goodbye, is my personal favorite of the three. The main character is just so likable and the surprises (saving that you've never read the comics) really come fast. It has a bittersweet ending but around this point, you'll be glad to know that this poor sap went out happy.
Second act, Big Fat Kill, will probably be the most enjoyed of the audience. There's a lot more energy and action here plus the deadpan narration of this story's hero really is worth a chuckle.
Lastly is the final act, That Yellow Bastard, which really is more of a traditional noir tale then the first two and bit of a hard act to follow. However the grip of this hero situation pulls you in and, like Hard Goodbye, it has a very bittersweet end. Still a very well done story.
I'll admit that some of the effects, quick cuts and acting can be a little silly (most of it was done in green screen after all) but the style and beauty of the work more then make up for it, never mind the fact that its done in b&w (if anything it enhances the mood of the stories plus those white on black silhouettes KICK ASS!) Not to mention the A-list actors here and no, for all you haters out there, it more then just attracting an audience. They all really seemed to really get into their roles and bring out the characters. Seriously, for once I was thinking about the characters rather then the actors who WERE the characters. This is a bunch who took the movie's source seriously. Nice and my hats off to them for their hard work.
Definitely one of the best movies of 2005. I wouldn't know if its as good as its source and quite frankly I don't care, it came out good to me anyway. Still if your a fan of the series, check it out. If not, give it a watch anyway though be warned this is a EXTREMELY graphic movie. So if you don't have a stomach for it, I wouldn't bother. And haters if you can look beyond the blood, gore, action, etc...You might just enjoy it.
Overall, a excellent way to kill two hours and enjoy yourself. Check it out!
Invader ZIM (2001)
Utter insanity...I LOVE IT!
Like most, I was shocked and extremely disappointed with Nick when they pulled the plug on this show. Not that I have anything against them, they're an alright company (though I loathe Rugrats, they seriously overplay that toon). But you think that a network that wants as many good shows as it can get would hang on to something this unique. Alas they wanted save face and keep their kiddie image. So when they went to the creator to tone down its...aggressive nature. He refused on most accounts and well, you know the rest. Still in its aftermath, the show has gained a tons of fans, merchandise and a huge effort to get it back on the air (though i doubt its possible due to the creator's statement about never working in animation again...quitter :P).
I've been with the show ever since its premiere and its taken awhile to grow on me but thats mainly due to extreme craziness this show belts out. Common sense is just thrown out the window in IZ though you can still make out the stories between the screaming and mayhem. And what a bunch of stories, I've never seen such creativeness crammed into thirty minutes. The writers take such simple concepts and really go nuts with them. Your always expecting one thing then something just jump out of nowhere to really make you head spin. And with characters as wired as Zim or as annoying as Dib, why wouldn't it. And the humor, oh it just got to be seen to believed. A perfect blend of sci-fi and dark humor. All I can tell you is by the time the credits roll, you be grasping for air due to all the laughing (considering you have a taste in this type of stuff). I can kinda see why Nick was a little uneasy with most of the content. Its not vulgar but it is a little disturbing now and then.
Artwise, its an very unique style. Cute yet creepy with a nice blend of colors and shading. The CGI parts aren't bad neither especially with its use of camera on action scenes. The only flaw I noticed about it is that the lips can't keep up with the words half the time. But that a usual problem most cartoons have, so it can be overlooked.
Music, well done with dramatic beats that really enhance the craziness of the situations. Ditto on the voice acting as they match up to the characters really well. Even the background characters are worth listening too.
Overall, it was a fine series while it lasted and was unfairly canned due to the network not having it way (and mean seriously Nick, "buget problems". If you can't admit you had personal problems with the show. Then your not the network I watched as a kid). I doubt we'll ever get a show like this again but at least fans can enjoy it on the rightly deserved DVDs. VICTORY! VICTORY FOR THE ZIM FANS!
Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (2004)
I was rather surprised when I found out the two women who sung for Teen Titains were getting their own cartoon show as well. Granted like most folks in the U.S, I've never heard of this band since its from out of country (the closest I've ever heard of J-Pop would be the Dance Dance Revolution machines). So I found it interesting as the show premiere came close (Checking it out at my Lowes movie theater helped as well).
Premise: Basiclly just a bunch of misadventures of the band's three member trio: the title characters Ami and Yumi (which from what I read in interviews, are based off the real life duo's more shining characteristics) and their tightwad money hungry manger, Caz, as they travel the road on their concert tour.
Its a cute show really with simple premises, situations and solutions all with a dose of the girl's music thrown in. However since the format for this show is short, most of the episodes end pretty corny and doesn't really give the stories a chance to flesh out more. Not to mention that you can see most of the resolutions coming a mile away. Still the character's personalities shine through and make the show worth watching as they stumble in and out of problems.
Art wise, very nice style. The creators or Puffy must of been fans of the game Parapper or Um Jammer Lammy cause the show reminds me of those video games and the art is very reminiscent. For those that haven't played those game, the style is simple line art, very abstract and colorful. Especially for a flash cartoon (2-D animation done mostly on computer). So good job here from the folks of Renegade.
As well as the sound section. As mentioned, the tunes are of course Puffy Ami Yumi songs with some usual cartoon play back. And the voice actors (which you may recognize as the main voices from Grim Adventures and Teenage Robot) do a nice job voicing the girls while mixing in some Japanese language (mainly when the two characters express surprise, get shocked or angry) and I love the dude who does Caz voice, the only one who seems to have an accent here.
And lets not forget the opening and closing segments with the real life Ami and Yumi. Though I think this is mostly from their show in Tokyo then down here. Still its cute and they don't take to long to lead in the cartoons.
Overall, a simple cartoon kids and teens might love, the older crowd might give a glance at. Would've been better if they can flesh out the problems more and use it as an opportunity for more humor. But they do well with the time they have. I don't know if the band will hit it off down, but anything possible and I wish all the luck for Puffy AmiYumi. Keep rocking girls!
Van Helsing (2004)
It may have been corny, it may have have overused its CGI. But, hell, I loved it anyway!
Yeah, I know this isn't a masterpiece of cinema and I can already tell half this nation's populace hates it despite a good run at the box office last summer. But still I went into this movie just looking for a good time (that and am a huge fan of old school monster films) and thats what I got. For the uptight and so called expert critics, let me spell it out for you: ITS A POPCORN MOVIE! OF COURSE EVERYTHING GOING TO BLOWN UP TO THE MAX AND GO OVER THE TOP! IF YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND THIS, THEN DON'T CLAIM YOU DO AND BASH A FILM BECAUSE OF IT! *Ahem* alright on to my review.
Plot: Helsing and his assistant, a frair named Carl, are sent to Translvaynia to protect the last of a gypsy family from being stuck in purgatory due to a curse Dracula put on them. In the process however Helsing must also stop Drac's plan of engulfing the world in darkness all the while battling his minions. Throw in a plot device involving Frankenstein's monster and you have a pretty cool adventure brewing.
I'll admit for a movie that suppose to be about Helsing. They kinda dropped the ball on the story. There's way too much emphasis on the gypsy girl rather him and they don't flesh out his back story about his lost memory and his supposed history with Dracula. Also the movie has a few nonsense parts (the talk with the creepy undertaker) which kinda slows down the film a bit. But still the movie stays on a linear path and the set-ups up to confrontations are well done. Not to mention the confrontation themselves even if some are a little silly (ballroom scene (though a good homage to the Fearless Vampire Killers), the fight with the last bride, Igor and Dracula himself). Yes their CGI laden but I don't care, its a supernatural movie after all. So what better way to do them.
The actors seem very comfortable with their roles and looks to be having a great time. Extra props go out to the dude who played Frankenstien's monster, I was really feeling for him. Easily one of the best characters in the movie.
Add to that some excellent backdrops and clothes to which the film really draws you into its 19th century world. Yes the movie is full of flaws but it only for fun and only wants to entertain to which it success in spades. If you don't like it, well fine. But for all who love a good popcorn flick or a fan of old school monsters, you can look no further. Van Helsing is just the ticket for a simple good time.
Arrested Development (2003)
Am I watching the same show you guys are watching?
OK, seriously, after reading the recent past reviews of the show am starting to ask myself if you people are even giving the show at least five minutes of your time before rushing online to bash it. You guys are saying that season 2 is going downhill yet your not even explaining why the this season is so inferior to the first. I've seen the second season and I have to say it right on par with the first with more funny twist and situations that Michael and the Bluths have to deal with. Yes they changed some of the story lines now (George Sr. on the run, Gob taking over the company, Buster threating to join the army, and so forth) but THATS HOW SEASONS GO. If they kept the same storyline from the first the show would've haven't gotten repetitive before the first two episodes. And beside the show still retains it wit and subtle humor from the first show while continuing storyline from previous episodes. So really whats the problem with the second season? Cause all am hearing is whining and undeserved bashings from folks with short attention spans.
Monster Force (1994)
Where'd it go?
I too also saw this little cartoon from Universal during its run and I have to say I really wish it was shown in syndication more. Heck even a little cheap DVD would be nice (they did it for Mummies Alive!). Seriously where this forgotten gem of a cartoon go?
Premise: A group of high tech teenagers fight off against classic Universal monsters and spiritual things that threaten humanity. Some of the crew with personal vendetta s(one has the curse of the Wolfman thats been handed down through generations. Another a family member was taken away from her by Dracula, etc).
The animation of course was a little slow and probably hasn't aged well now but the stories and action more then made up for it. Its a shame it didn't last long (as mention only thirteen episodes) but even worse that it hasn't resurfaced. If Universal is reading this PLEASE just give out a little DVD for it. It would mean much to me and any old school monster/animation lover just to see it again.