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Having watched well over 1,000 movies and television shows (including episodes), as well as hundreds of video games, in my lifetime, I've still got a long way to go; and I love embarking on new journeys in the form of countless visual stories.
I'm not bias to any one genre, though I do believe that maximum emotional engagement can make great films. You can have a great film that resonates with the hardest-to-please audiences out there, as long as the story strikes a chord where anyone and everyone understands the depth of what they're watching. A story can have universal appeal and still be a genre-piece through and through.
I just like a well-done movie with a great story that leaves a lasting impression on me. In the end, that's all that matters in my mind.
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The Best Spider-Man Movie Ever Made: and Sony's All-Time Best Animation!
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is so much better than anyone expected it to be: it's the kind of film people don't realize they want so badly, and when it comes, it's a breath of fresh creative air. This film's the best kind of crazy: alternate dimensions, cartoony-drama (family issues and dying mentors) mixed with humour (cartoon pigs, film-noir cliches and Japanese mechas), culturally remixing Spider-Man into a living and breathing idea; anyone can be him, and what makes them different defines their own Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is still one of my all-time favourite characters: he's tied with Batman and Superman as far as I'm concerned, and it was high time that Spider-Man got his own theatrically released animated feature. Spider-Verse honours the character and then some with its wholly unique animation style, its star-studded voice-actors and the whole thing feeling like the sort of thing Stan Lee would have wanted to see on the big screen. Stan unfortunately passed away before the film's release, so hopefully he got to see an early screener copy of the film. Who knows? It sucks that he's gone now; but his creations (his brain children) live on through the endless stream that is modern pop-culture. This movie's definitely a zeitgeist piece for Spider-Man: a self-aware love-letter to a character whom both comic and non-comic fans know and love openly.
This film delves into the origin story of Miles Morales: and how he became Spider-Man after Peter Parker is killed by Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin). We see Miles' dilemma of being himself play throughout the movie, and when the Spider-Men from the multiverse come into his reality, they help overcome his deep-inhibitions. This movie doesn't gloss over the dramatic stuff easily (Kingpin's family die in a car-crash) and it somehow manages to balance out the humour with the serious stuff ridiculously well (Spider-Ham and Spider-Gwen compliment the comedy-drama duality of the film). Spider-Verse is the comic book movie people have wanted since Frank Miller's Sin City: it's got that same to-the-T comic-book styling to it; and I don't say that lightly at all. It's something amazing to behold on the big screen.
If only animated cinema in general could acknowledge that it's okay to be as aesthetically liberal with animation as people can (and do) go with live-action cinema through endless variations of stories, genres, styles and motifs. I think movies like Spider-Verse show that Disney's animated fairy-tales (while still being very enjoyable) don't represent what animation CAN be like Japanese animation does, but films like Into The Spider-Verse represent what animation inevitably WILL be: a varied landscape as diversified as any medium in life can possibly get. The 2010s have been a rather progressive time for American animation and I'm more than happy to see Hollywood tackle things outside the 'Disney fairy-tale comfort zone'.
I loved every second of this movie and I'm stoked for the sequels and spin-offs! This movie was a SUPER-BLAST!
P.S. Stan Lee, Steve Ditko: you both made the world a happier place to be thanks to your genius creation.
Toy Story (1995)
The film that brought computer-animation into the world, with style!
Having recently viewed the Toy Story 4 teaser on YouTube, I felt the need to revisit these movies. I can honestly say that Toy Story is as important to animated cinema as Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in that both movies were the first feature length animated productions ever done in their respective mediums: Toy Story being the first computer-animated feature and Snow White being the world's first traditionally-animated feature.
Toy Story is as synonymous with cinema as the works of Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Hayao Miyazaki and Chuck Jones: it's a film that shows the best of every world in the imagination. There are toys that embody cowboys, spacemen, wrestlers, dogs, potatoes and figures that resemble the uber-edginess the mid-90s garnered thanks to hit video games like Doom and Mortal Kombat. Toy Story is a film that knows exactly what makes kids movies resonate with adults: having an emotional bridge that's built into the story itself where playtime and wisdom, as the fundamental themes to the film, is symbolic of the concept of people growing up and how that can change the world around you. You can still mature in ways that still keep you young and hopeful at heart even when everything around you is totally unpredictable and volatile.
This film is a zeitgeist movie for the 90s and it's still technically very impressive to this very day. I'm struggling to find faults with this movie: it's one of those special movies that you can watch repeatedly and still find something new every time you watch it again.
Toy Story is a 5/5 star masterpiece.
A fitting expansion of a beloved universe, even if it falls a little short of all the other Potter films before it.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is one of those modern sequels that utilizes universe-building foreshadowing for sequels and so-forth, but it doesn't play the shared-universe thing as finely as the better MCU films pull off. It's entertaining but flawed, sufficient but lacking, visually engaging but not so much in the jumbled-up story department. It suffers from Star-Wars-prequel-itis, where you can tell exactly what they're going to cover in the story because you've already heard this stuff being overshadowed in previous installments, or because there's a recurring character whose appearance only brings up more questions than answers.
Crimes of Grindelwald is entertaining but it doesn't have the perfectly realized other-worldliness of the eight Harry Potter Saga films. THIS film demonstrates that J.K. Rowling knows how to write a story; it's just that her unfocused visual writing and exposition-heavy dialogue makes a very strong case for why she can't write screenplays on her own. The Harry Potter films benefited from professional screenwriters refining, visualizing and adding to the pre-existing novel stories, whereas Fantastic Beasts has no such leverage to adapt upon.
Crimes of Grindelwald is definitely blockbuster cinema worth seeing at the movies: it's just not a world-class example of when multi-million dollar films can be art in and of themselves (like The Godfather or The Dark Knight Trilogy) .
Grindelwald gets 3/5 stars.
Apollo 13 (1995)
A historical film that is still just as powerful and intense as it was in 1995.
Apollo 13, in my opinion, is one of the finest films of the 20th Century thanks to its incredible cast, emotionally tender direction from Ron Howard and James Horner's incredibly patriotic score to top it all off. It's 90s filmmaking at its very best; it balances practical effects with CGI perfectly in a way that just feels... right for Apollo 13 in particular because it's one of those movies that was at the 80s-90s Hollywood aesthetic crossroad.
The zero-gravity scenes in the Apollo 13 are still remarkable today thanks to the little 'trick' the filmmakers used to make it seem like the actors were really in space: controlling the trajectory of a plane by having it fly up and down in a way that they emulated the 'weightlessness' the astronauts experienced during the near-disaster that was Apollo 13. Gravity could almost be interpreted as a plot-point in the story: it shows that the Apollo 13's situation nearly spun right out of control and that without the help of NASA they wouldn't have been able to focus on their rescue effort; this essentially makes Apollo 13 a disaster movie that has three astronauts trying their damnedest to come back home: dear old planet Earth.
Apollo 13 is a classic for good reason: its sensual direction, the characters, the music and the space sequences are the stuff of cinematic dreams. And it all really happened. This is a story of human will, progress and fighting against the odds. It's remarkable stuff.
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. 5/5 stars.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Good reflection of one of British-pop's greatest icons.
This is a good take on Freddie Mercury's life as the leading man of Queen. It's a good bio-pic that's accompanied by some truly classic songs that millions of people have come to know and love deep in their soul. This movie has had it fair share of problems relating to Bryan Singer's coming-and-going from the project and the whole dilemma of trying to preserve Freddie's legacy as one of rock's greatest icons that ever lived to bless the world with such talent. This film is a showcase of Queen's legacy as a band and Freddie's one as one of pop's pioneering LGBT musicians.
This film is like 'The Greatest Showman' in that it serves to be a modern reminder that cinema can be all about self-contained entertainment that honors history and shows how the past parallels with the present in many respects; and I prefer Bohemian Rhapsody to 'Showman' personally. This is about one of my favourite bands of all time and the film's more a character study into how Freddie's flamboyant nature changed the lives of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a rock-solid film that deserves to be seen at the movies; by any and all ardent Queen fans out there.
Despite the great songs it has, the movie itself is nothing to write home about.
Sing is Universal Pictures'/Illumination Entertainment's attempt at emulating Disney's many preceding animated musicals: and it doesn't really work. The stories are haphazardly told and the animation is subpar for 2016 standards. It has a good cast, don't get me wrong, but they're stuck in such an ordinary film it's not funny. They're playing anthropomorphic animals for NO reason at all; it's just so the kids can laugh and root for them in a superficial way. The characters are all the same underdog trying to overcome their shortcomings, the character models look derivative of Dr. Seuss characters from The Lorax and it's full of characters trying to be Despicable Me 'Minions' fodder. This whole film is very rinse and repeat-y. It gets incredibly boring fast because of this. And a lot of the film's problems lie in its unfocused story and and boring character designs.
It seems that Illumination Entertainment wants to CONSTANTLY recycle the same damn animation aesthetic over and over again as long as it's cost-effective: and Sing doesn't realize that it's to the movie's detriment. Sure some of the characters look good for newspaper caricatures but that's it; when they're living-breathing animated beings in a movie they're pretty damn lifeless because of the empty mentality the animators had when creating these characters. Sure the story has resolutions just like any movie should, but the ones found here are so redundant and cliche that I'm surprised this film was welcomed by audiences everywhere. People should (and often DO) demand a lot more from American animations in cinema.
Sing gets 1.5/5 stars.
First Man (2018)
Comparable to Apollo 13.
First Man is what space biopics try to be and then some. It's about the Apollo 11 landing that indeed did happen, thanks to miscellaneous third-party sources proving it really occurred (like the BBC, The Soviet Union's government, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), and everywhere else who received the broadcast live in 1969 outside The States). This film's truly an incredible film about space and the untapped wonders we're still yet to tap into: it also shows how the fragility of life must be balanced with scientific progress, as was the case with the many trials and errors NASA had along the way. Apollo 13 tells a story of aviation in the stars, and how human fragility has helped define certain moments of historical space exploration and how we've overcome our own problems, be it personal ones or overarching ones.
First Man shows that space is still very much a cinematic wonder to explore, and I want more up-and-coming directors like Damien Chazelle to explore the galaxy even more. I love these biopics: this one has all the emotional, historical and cinematic honesty of Apollo 13, and that's one of my all-time favourite movies.
First Man gets 5/5 stars.
This Made Star Wars Fun Again!
The Force Awakens isn't perfect entertainment and we should all stop pretending Star Wars movies as a whole have to be flawless(The Prequel Trilogy also gets held up to that kind of scrutiny, as well as The Original Trilogy). They're not THE films by which ALL movies must be compared to; films like Sunset Boulevard or Citizen Kane are more suited for that purpose to compare movies to because they were benchmark films that set the stage for Hollywood movies then onward, even though they weren't films driven by special effects. Cinema is an evolving art form and it's bound to repeat some things. Is that really a bad thing especially when the film in question is only a 'soft-reboot' and not a shot-by-shot remake of the original? I say no: it isn't. The Force Awakens is a blockbuster that's derivative but progressive, familiar but fresh. It's not perfect but it's Star Wars through and through.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was finally released in 2015 to audience, critical and commercial fanfare: it was named one of the AFI's Top 10 Films of 2015, grossed $U.S.2.07 billion at the global box office and was credited with revitalizing the Star Wars franchise. However, there were some ardent fans who criticized the film for its redundancies they wished weren't featured in the film, and I can understand those criticisms; I just don't agree with those who hold those issues against the film. The Force Awakens is an overdue visit from an old friend that you've been wanting to see again for years. And you find that the friend has made some notable changes since the last time you saw him. You see what was there before but you can also feel and embrace the new stuff as well; and that's very true for the story of The Force Awakens.
The Force Awakens is a blast to watch: it's intergalactic fun that honors the previous movies beautifully and manages to feel new while strictly being a self-aware Star Wars romanticist's film made for people who grew up on The Original Trilogy.
The Force Awakens gets 5/5 stars.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
As fine as film noir gets!
How do you get more culturally meta with film than by making a film noir set inside the Hollywood landscape itself? Well, Sunset Boulevard answers that non-specific question in a beautiful fashion and then some by telling a story about 'delusions of grandeur' and how time's passage can become an unforgiving beast for movie stars still gloating about their 'good old days'. Norma Desmond is an out-of-touch actress who's refused to come to terms with, or accept, reality. She happens to come across struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis escaping from the men who lent him his car. After skidding onto the former star's driveway by coincidence, Joe's life takes one dark turn after another: and the film's look into career realism as well as its equally potent career naivety (even if the person it's coming from has more experience in real life). Norma is one of cinema's prettiest faces embodying the idea of tragedy and aged celebrity-status.
Sunset Boulevard is the classically conceived kind of 'toxic valentine' that's inspired similar tales from Hollywood to exploit the many rewards and dangers of being blinded by show-business. It's film-noir that doesn't involve stealing an artifact or something: it's a film noir that comes from (and explores) the very medium where the genre began. It's meta-genius in classic American cinema.
Sunset Boulevard gets 5/5 stars.
"Like a turd, in the wind."
Venom's a beautifully bad movie that's all-out in its over-the-top nature and its overly oddball Tom Hardy. This movie exists purely as an overdue tie-in to 2007's Spider-Man 3: and boy does this ever show in the film's mid-2000s-inspired Hollywood aesthetics. It's got the hallmarks of a non-MARVEL Studios MARVEL film: stingy references related to the ONE central character in the movie due to rights issues and building up to sequels before even telling the story at hand.
This film is an eccentrically empty action-adventure that's trying to tie-in with the modern superhero film craze taking the world by storm. Unfortunately, Venom isn't a very strong example of the genre's strengths: it's a movie made because 'it-had-to-be-done' for Sony (mind you it's not nearly as ATROCIOUS Fox's/Constantin Films' Fant4stic!). Venom's cynical but dumb fun, average story filled with 'ballsy' action sequences guaranteed to make fans of the character proud, but there's not a hell of a lot else to discover in this film.
Venom gets 2.5/5 turds in the wind.
American Gods (2017)
Amazon Studios is an ever-growing innovator for Internet-based entertainment.
American Gods came from the pages of Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel: and its accompanying series is one of the most ambitious and crazy live-action television shows out on the market currently. It's ambitious, gritty, funny and often surreal in its visualization of novel-specific descriptions of scenes. Its direction is so eccentric yet specific that it works surprisingly well. It's a story of America, mythology of the world, and how modern media is effectively turning into a religion in and of itself. It's complex and visually rip-roaring in its creative visualization of the novel's events. It's amazing that they pulled off half the stuff they did in this honestly; I think give or take a few years the term 'unfilmable' is going to become a thing of the past because technology's gotten to the point where we can visualize the most complex thing and make it easy to watch and understand.
This series is proof that unfilmable media will cease to exist: any piece of media that exists can become a film or television show. It's quite the time to get into modern television.
American Gods gets a godly 4.5/5 stars.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers' Triumph!
No Country For Old Men is based on Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel of the same name: and having read the novel I can honestly say that the Coen Bros. did a fantastic job adapting the book for the screen. It's ridiculously faithful to the source material and it's visualized in such a gorgeously cinematic way that it's no wonder this movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2008 (for the films of 2007). It's a neo-Western, neo-noir thriller that is virtually an extravagant showcase for Javier Bardem's terrifying villain Anton Chigurh (which won Bardem the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). Bardem's so intimidating as Chigurh that I'd say he's almost as scary as Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter (even though this film isn't a horror-piece).
No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece of 2000s-cinema and rightly so: it's a multi-genre piece that has the same brutal desolation of a classic Western, the tense direction of action-thrillers from directors like Martin Scorsese or Michael Mann, but it has the grounded approach to Western filmmaking of John Ford and Sergio Leone. This film is entertaining yet relentlessly tense in its drama, satisfying yet bittersweet in its many payoffs, and never dull in its 2-hour run-time.
If you want a Western that's got the conventions of the oldie-goodies yet updates it for more modern times (1980 in this case), this film is an absolute must-see.
No Country for Old Men is a new country for cinema; a 5/5 star achievement.
Makes for one of the greatest gaming experiences of the century!
Super Smash Brothers was an unexpected success when it started out in 1999, and now it's evolved into a flagship franchise for Nintendo, co-existing alongside Mario (and its many spin-offs), Zelda, Metroid and even recent mainstays like Pokemon. Brawl takes what made the earlier games great experiences and adds to them gorgeous refinement of the highest order: alongside one of the most cohesive recollections of Nintendo's longstanding history in the game industry (mentions as far and wide as (former Nintendo collaborator) Rareware's Nintendo 64 titles: Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark).
Super Smash Brothers has become THE fighting game to play at parties and e-sports events worldwide and for great reason: the franchise is a game that ceases to be fake in the collective minds of players everywhere. The stages are gorgeous, the fighting is immersive bliss and it's got that WARM Nintendo charm to it that only a handful of games can muster for me: like Super Mario 64 or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It's Nintendo at its absolute best.
Brawl gets a golden 5/5 stars.
Chicken Little (2005)
Movies tend to age better over time: Chicken Little ain't one of those movies.
Disney was in a bit of a rut after their animation renaissance of the 1990s: crap like this movie came out of their corporate floodgates (alongside filler-material such as their dreaded straight-to-video sequels) and showed that Disney could, in fact, screw up BIG TIME on the thing it helped popularize in the first place: feature-length animation made for the theatrical market. This film's tepid story and lackluster characters make for an admittedly good looking movie into a shallow film wondering what it wants to do with itself, besides show of that it IS a Disney movie with funny animals: except this time there are aliens invading *woo~*!
This is easily Disney's weakest animated movie from the last two decades (not including PIXAR's Cars 2 or their largely garbage straight-to-VHS sequel trash-heap), but fortunately Disney would pick up momentum in the years to come, and the following decade would see Disney Animation release its finest in-house production in years: 2016's Zootopia. Sadly, none of that greatness is present in Chicken Little.
This stink-bomb of an animation gets 1.5/5 stars.
One of Disney's finest 90s movies.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a staple in millions of people's childhoods from the 90s and for good reason: it's a classic. It mixes Halloween and Christmas in perfect harmony like comparable to how Roger Rabbit mixed cartoon-y mayhem with 40s-50s film noir.
It's beautiful Gothic cinema that showcases how Tim Burton got into the big-leagues of Hollywood.
The Nightmare Before Christmas gets 4.5/5 stars.
A stop-motion film that has more to it than most modern live-action movies.
Anomalisa is a deeply affecting comedy-drama that gives depression-awareness a voice comparable to BoJack Horseman's exploration of mental health: except this one is a feature film and it's adapted from a radio-play by Charlie Kaufman, America's best currently-working screenwriter. Anomalisa is what American animation's been trying to achieve for years: tell a story that's shot like a live-action drama but done with stop-motion puppets resembling inner anxieties about ourselves and a longing to find something beautiful we can find and latch onto and never let go.
Watching this film is an out-of-body experience not unlike the films of David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick except Anomalisa does it in a very different way to those filmmakers: it's an out-of-body examination of ourselves as people struggling to get by with our day-to-day way of living, all told from the perspective of life-like puppets that look identical to one another (mostly), and protagonist Michael gives us a very honest look into what loneliness can really be like when you see EVERYONE as the same person except for Lisa. Kaufman knew that stop-motion would be the best way to tell this well-realized but confronting story on the human condition, and it's equal parts moving and creepy when the story digs deeper into the world's character (and even directly shows that the character's faces are detachable things). That scene where Michael looks at himself in the bathroom-mirror is a great example of WHY this was done in stop-motion, as opposed to a live-action thingy done with computer-trickery to help convey the message. Also the voice-acting is fantastic; probably the best I've ever heard for an animated movie (David Thewlis is great, as is Tom Noonan and Jennifer Jason Leigh: and they're the only three actors in it).
Anomalisa is an other-worldly experience in cinema, and one of the most important ones for the 2010s: quite easily. If you love animation but want to see something new in the medium, this is the film for you. It's Kaufman at his best and most unconventional.
Anomalisa gets 5/5 stars.
One of the ultimate meta-movies of the 21st century.
Adaptation takes us into the struggling mindset of aspiring screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and his journey to do what many writers have to do on a daily basis: adapt a screenplay from a best-selling book. This film tells a biographical story of Kaufman in conjunction with his adaptation of Susan Orlean's writing of 'The Orchid Thief'. It's insane how well the script makes these two seemingly incompatible stories work seamlessly alongside each other in the film. It's an ambitious, experimental and intimate kind of film that's a heartfelt comedy-drama about what it takes to get a movie made in the modern Hollywood/entertainment landscape. And it's made all the more wonderful thanks to Nicolas Cage's performance as Charlie (and his fictitious twin David) Kaufman telling the story of how he wrote THIS story we're watching right now.
Adaptation is a meta-film that oozes genius and fully-realized storytelling that makes for one of the 2000's best movies.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Surprisingly deep stop-motion epic.
Kubo and the Two Strings is another solid entry in Laika's strong animation line-up: it follows Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, the big difference being THIS film centers around Japanese culture and has visual cues from directors Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki. Kubo is unconventionally ambitious for stop-motion cinema: it's an action film that has the screenplay, emotional beats and direction of a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster. And it works really well: even better than a good majority of those aforementioned blockbusters.
Kubo is like a stop-motion anime that's tapping into something the medium hasn't really explored in a broad sense: maturity and unwavering loyalty to relatable drama and mythological story-telling. Kubo is a brave attempt for the American animation industry and it's something a lot of us want but aren't aware we actually desired in the first place. It's bold, beautiful and fast-paced fun.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Not as bad as some ardent Mad Max fans make it out to be.
Sure, Thunderdome isn't the best the franchise has to offer (it's easily the weakest of the lot) but it's not totally worthless. Yeah the action's not on-par with the innovative chase scenes of The Road Warrior and it doesn't have half the teeth (grit) of the original Mad Max, but Thunderdome does dive deeper into the world that was established with those movies. Granted it's sillier, but it's still in character for the universe.
It's enjoyable, just not all-out awesome or classic like the rest of them.
Thunderdome gets 3.5/5 stars.
Star Trek II is the ultimate bridging of cinema and televisino.
The Wrath of Khan is easily the best Star Trek film. It's the franchise's equivalent to Star Wars' The Empire Strikes Back and then some; this film came out during a rather innovative year for cinema in 1982 and it showed that television-to-film adaptations can make for truly fantastic cinema, especially when it comes to revenge stories. Heck: you don't really need to be a hardcore Trekkie to love the sh## out of this classic movie! It's great all on its own, really.
Star Trek has managed to maintain its status as a pop-cultural mainstay for good reason: it has great entries like The Wrath of Khan to its name and it just keeps on growing at an ever-increasing rate.
The Wrath of Khan gets 5/5 stars.
MARVEL's best video game to date.
Spider-Man is MARVEL's long overdue response to the Batman: Arkham video game franchise; and boy what a response this is. Spider-Man is one of 2018's very welcome surprises from the game industry. It's got the same photogenically gorgeous graphics of 2015's Arkham Knight and this year's God of War. Not to mention that the open-world design of this game is also very intricate and immersive; almost a little too much some might say. I don't understand where the critics are coming from when they say the open-world design isn't innovative: I reckon that it's an improvement on that area of past Spider-Man games. And this Spider-Man game uses previous adaptations as a broad reference point, not a direct conversion of any pre-existing movie, TV-show or comic book: it just dives right into the life of an older and more refined 23-year-old Peter Parker.
Spider-Man is one of 2018's biggest and greatest media events! Don't miss out!
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)
Fantastic Star Wars game from a fantastic year for gaming!
Star Wars has seen MANY video game adaptations through the years and Rogue Squadron is among the very best the franchise has to offer. It's fast-paced, the dogfights are ridiculously immersive and it feels JUST like the movies. Sure it's difficult to complete the levels and gain all the medals for the levels, but it's worth the effort. The gratification is the same as getting a star in Super Mario 64. This was a boundary-pusher for the Nintendo 64 back in the '90s and it's still loved among gamers and Star Wars like myself.
Rogue Squadron gets 4.5/5 stars.
Game of Thrones: Hardhome (2015)
Season Five is probably among the show's very best ones. And Hardhome rocks!
Game of Thrones has become THE television fixation which people tend to really love or really hate. As for me, I reckon it's a medieval-European-influenced piece of fiction that's become a television tapestry of political commentary, genre-breaking television conventions, fantastic fight scenes and characters who have become household names comparable to the Star Wars and Harry Potter casts of characters: yet these guys have the intensity and evocation of tragic Shakespearean characters.
Game of Thrones is blockbuster television done right, and Hardhome is one gigantic set-piece bursting with spectacle and character that has helped the show stay great.
BoJack Horseman: Free Churro (2018)
One of Bojack Horseman's best episodes!
'Free Churro' is tragicomedy shown in a way I don't think animation's been able to successfully pull off the way Bojack did with this episode right here. Never has a character expressed themselves the way Bojack does making light of the fact that both his parents are gone: he was resented by the two of them all his life and all he wanted was just a little appreciation from them, just some basic gratitude.
This episode really got to me; I know what it's like to experience resentment from your parents and how that kind of emotional rejection backfires in terrible ways in the future. But it's okay to make light of it knowing that you can move on from those troubles in the end (however long that will take). For Bojack it may be a little more difficult to resolve his lifetime of problems but he's self-aware of everything right with his life while admitting and addressing everything wrong with it. Even after all of the jokes Bojack makes of his mother Beatrice, he makes it clear that he wished she were a more caring type of woman.
If Bojack's parents were the disease, then the symptom that is his life (and inner-demons) may finally be a salvageable thing instead of a lost cause.
This episode gets a well-earned 5/5 stars.
Akame ga Kill! (2014)
Entertaining but nothing too substantial.
Akame ga Kill is an anime's anime: it's got over-the-top fights, girls eating biscuits looking like kittens nibbling on treats, mecha-parallels in the form of out-of-place fight scenes, and a protagonist who wants to get to the top of the game. Akame ga Kill is fun but it's derivative fun. I've seen almost everything in this cartoon done bigger and better in other shows probably because other shows ceased to be fake to me: like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Cowboy Bebop and Death Note; those stories were medium pieces that were determined to explore new aspects of anime and become something transcendent of the status quo, not compose solely of stuff we've already seen in other things. Also, the setting is nice looking, but it's not convincing like Berserk managed to do with its own beautifully brutal medieval Europe. Akame ga Kill is just a weird hodge-podge of all these other settings BECAUSE ANIME.
This show does have good stuff in it and some episodes are genuinely engaging, but the fights where things get borderline DragonBall Z just feel too much like a been-there-done-that scenario. At least it relishes in anime cliches, even if it isn't one of those shows non-anime fans can enjoy.
This ambitious show gets 3.5/5 stars.