Thoughts on Fuller House

I’ve been getting over a horrible plague that makes my lungs feel like they’re full of slime and I want nothing more than to pull them out and itch them. It’s been a slow go getting better, much slower than when I casually get a cold, but for the first time in about two weeks I can look at the computer without getting a headache.

It was during my down time that I ended up marathoning Fuller House, the sequel/follow up/ continuation of 80’s/90’s hit Full House. Now, I didn’t watch much Full House when it first aired, I was more a fan of Family Matters and Boy Meets World in the big TGIF lineup. I remember it being way too smaultzy for my liking , but during a phase of unemployment in my late teens I watched most of the reruns on TBS, you know because I was going places. However, with hoe much this show was parodied, I could have never watched a single episode and I’d know that Full House that is the story of the recently widowed Danny Tanner, his two heterosexual life partners Jesse and Joey and his three unnaturally adorable daughters DJ, Stephanie and Michelle.

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So remember how when Jurassic World came out and it was pretty much the same thing as Jurassic Park only with fake dinosaurs and less likable characters. Fuller House is kinda like that, only its not pretending to be something new. It picks up where the previous show left off…only twenty-nine years later, but that’s irrelevant, it might as well be the very next day. It’s the exact same thing, save for the Olsen Twins not being involved and after watching the whole thing, that might be one of the better things about it.

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The first episode is horrible and outside of nostalgic purposes, should not be watched. I get it, I get nostalgic too, but after the fifth or sixth original cast member has shown up and the audience has screamed itself hoarse, it gets really irritating. And then the catch phrases start happening…oh the catch phrases…oh dear god the catch phrases. From what I remember Michelle, being the youngest and most marketable of the children, had a slew of fun things she would say that would get a laugh and cheer out of the studio audience. She had so many insufferably cute things to say that I’d forgotten the rest of the cast was just as annoying, just in smaller doses.

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If you can get past the reunion special, which I think is what most people watched, you get a show that’s not great, but interesting. Interesting in a sense of current pop culture vs the late 80’s/ early 90’s pop culture. We were so over saturated by the TGIF shows and their ilk that for the past twenty years, sitcoms have been everything that Full House isn’t…or at least the ones that I’ve had the misfortune of tuning in to.

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This show actually makes my soul hurt.

Fuller House is the story of DJ Tanner-Fuller, who has moved back into her childhood home after the untimely and gruesome death of her noble, self-sacrificing, firefighter of a husband Tommy (other than a plot point he’s not all that important. The series takes place a year after his death and everyone’s moved on. He’s only mentioned to remind us that DJ can be sad or stressed out. His death never brings a sense of tension or sadness. DJ says that she misses him, but the kids don’t really seem to care and for the most part DJ doesn’t either. Other than a firefighter friend, I’m not sure that he’s mentioned by name.), with her three sons, whom just happen to fall into the same age brackets as DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. Because being a single parent doesn’t lead to a lot of humorous situations, DJ is aided by her sister Stephanie and wacky friend Kimmy. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same plot as Full House, only genderbent.

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From what I’ve read Kimmy’s role in the show was originally meant for one or both of the Olsen twins, which would have given us show that wasn’t a carbon copy of the original, but probably not nearly as satisfying. One of the biggest problems with Full House was that once Michelle started talking and had the five or six things she said each episode, she quickly became over saturated and the show became all about her. I don’t think Fuller House would have worked as well as it did with Michelle being there, not only would it have lost its best character (which is surprisingly Kimmy) but it would have lost it’s two best jokes, which poke fun at the Olsens and their success. (Plus, why would the Olsens come back? They’re beyond successful and haven’t shown an interest in acting in years.) I really like the idea of the show’s most over saturated character becoming an unseen character, like Maris Crane on Fraser or Ugly Naked Guy on Friends or even Gwen on American Dad (before they wrecked that joke…and the whole show.).

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Outside of the premise the show follows DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy and their kids as they adjust to their new life, which seems to be the best thing that could have happened to any of them. They live in this strange benign world where there are no emotional consequences for any of their actions. This might be to avoid the old sitcom trope of the classic misunderstanding, lies that backfire or the heartfelt speeches of the original. At one point DJ’s kids find out that she’s started dating again, a big deal is made that she doesn’t want them to find out until the time is right, but when they catch her kissing love interest #1, they don’t care and wish her well. At one point Stephanie pretends the kids are hers to pick up a guy and nothing comes of it. It’s not even a lost plot thread either, she keeps on lying and the episode ends and in a later episode it’s revealed that they’re still seeing each other. I’m not sure if this is refreshing or not; it seems like people in the Fuller House Universe can do whatever they want without worry and become closer because of it.

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No consequences for anything…Except for that one time Stephanie was unlucky for this baseball guy.

I mean the original Full House had more tension, there were arguments, misunderstandings, liars were punished. Fuller House is largely tension free. At one point DJ calls Kimmy out on some bad parenting choices (rewarding her daughter for skipping school and making friends) and instead of an argument Kimmy full on admits that she’s making poor choices and changes her ways. When Kimmy confronts her daughter about skipping school and punishes her, her daughter is pretty cool with it and everyone hugs. No tension whatsoever, but it works. The show does try to add some tension via a love triangle with DJ’s new business partner and her Full House love interest Steve, but everyone’s so likable that it just ends with the two guys admiring each other and going out for beer and pizza. I’d actually really like it if in a later season if those two hook up, because why not. It’d be a fairly tension free way to introduce new love interests for DJ. Hell, they already kissed.

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The whole thing is a little surreal and it almost feels like a dream. It’s a world filled with people that we wished existed, everyone’s the nicest person you’ve ever met, kids are super sweet and never bad, but when they are no one gets hurt and everyone learns a lesson. There’s a part of me that thinks that DJ is actually in a facility somewhere, recovering from the shock and horror of her husband’s brutal death and all of Fuller House is in her head. Everyone from her past is there, she gets to reconnect with her best friend, first love and sister and everyone looks great and is super successful. Either that or there’s a curse on the family where the first born’s spouse will suffer an untimely death, meaning DJ’s eldest should hold off on the girls until he can get in touch with a medium or demon hunter…or something.

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If you liked Full House or at least watched it or can tolerate Millenial nostalgia, give a few episodes a try. It’s not as bad as you think, it’s not as bad as Full House. Hey, if Fuller House does as well as Girl Meets World, then maybe we’ll get one step closer to my dream of a Family Matters Reunion. Let’s face it, the best non-animated television family of the 90’s were the Winslows.

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The Lego Movie AKA My Favourite Commercial

So, the Oscars are going to be announced tomorrow(or today depending on when I hit post), which is a big thing, I guess, for the movies. Okay it’s a very big thing and a lot of people watch and get invested in them. When I was in my early teens and had aspirations of being an actress, I used to watch them religiously. I never followed these aspirations, which is good because I’m a bad actor and had very poor judgement at eighteen, there’s probably a sad alternate universe where I ended up in the adult film industry. Regardless of alternate universes, the Oscars are coming up and people make predictions about these things.

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Now there are only two categories that I care about and those are best feature and short animations. Sadly, I haven’t seen enough short animated films from 2014 to make an educated guess, luckily after the Oscar announcements finding those short animated shorts becomes much easier. So hear are my predictions for the nominations for best animated feature length film. Big Hero Six, Boxtrolls, Song of the Sea or Princess Kaguya, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the Lego Movie. (I’d like to see Song of the Sea and Princess Kaguya get nominated, but since Dream Works and Disney both have fantastic entries, the Lego Movie made a ton of money and there is usually a nod to stop motion, there might only be one spot for traditional animation) And since the Oscar rarely goes to the best film, I predict the Lego Movie will win.

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Speaking of the Lego Movie, let’s talk about the Lego Movie. There have been several Lego Movies and video games, most of them are based on various franchises such as Star Wars, Batman and the Marvel Universe. I haven’t seen these movies or played these games, but I’ve heard they’re fun and a good watch if you can get past the production values. My experience with Lego was built entirely of my imagination. It involved epic battles between My Little Pony and the Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

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I didn’t expect much from the Lego Movie, because at its centre, it’s a feature length commercial. I’ve been burned by feature length commercials before; just look at Battleship and most of the Transformer movies or Foodfight!…but we’ll get to Foodfight! soon enough. I walked into the Lego Movie with low expectations, because how can a movie encompass all of the craziness and fun that is Lego. As a toy, Lego can be imagination incarnate. Most movies based on products suck the imagination out of you and leave a mundane husk; they will take hours of your life and laugh about it. I went in kind of expecting to be crushed and was proven completely wrong.

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The Lego Movie is about a young minifig named Emmet Brickowoski, who does his best to fit in and follow all of the rules. He wakes up, goes to work and follows all of the rules. Rules are a big part of Emmet’s life. There is nothing special about him, he is so unremarkable that his co-workers don’t even know who he is. After a chance encounter with Wyldstyle, Emmet is stuck to a mysterious and magical item. He learns from the wise minifig Vitruvius that he is the special and the key to stopping the Evil Lord Business freezing the the entire Lego world with krackle. Can Emmet unlock his potential and help the other master builders stop Lord Business or will Emmet forever be unspecial and unremarkable?

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The Lego Movie blew me away in several ways, first and foremost with its animation. The Lego Movie looks amazing, it has the tactile feel of stop motion yet creates such grand and epic effects that could have only been done on computer. Each and every brick is lovingly filled with personality, scuffed and worn as if it came from my own childhood toy box. Character movements are authentic to the way you’d play with your minifigs, these are toys and the movie never lets you forget it. Both standard sets and original creations are rendered in an homage to both those original sets and the pieces we all created as children.

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Apart from the animation the voice acting is awesome, it’s so good that you’ll forgive some of the more cliche parts of the plot. In fact the combination of animation and voice acting is so much fun that I was able to ignore that the Lego Movie’s plot revolves around my least favourite troupe. The troupe where a boring man meets an amazing woman and she teaches him everything she know and he gets all of the glory, usually makes me grind my teeth, but the Lego Movie does this well. In fact this is the best that this trope has ever been done. What the Lego Movie does right is that it captures the childhood wonder of the Lego stories we would all create. We can forgive the clicheness of the plot, because our own story-lines might have been a bit cliche themselves.

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The Lego movie may not be the best animated film of the year, but it was the most fun. The Lego Movie is a movie that’s hard to stay mad while watching. Yes it has all of the cliches, but it has so much fun with them that you forget that they’re there, you forget that you’re watching 101 minute commercial. So, if you are one of the few people that hasn’t seen the Lego Movie go watch it, you likely won’t be disappointed.

Postman Pat: The Movie AKA A Biting Critique of Pop Culture…several years too late

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Postman Pat, it’s a British stop-motion animation series aimed at very young children. Most episodes concerned Pat and his cat Jess as they delivered the mail and helped out a villager or two. The show had a really catchy theme that was just about as auditorily infectious as the Duck Tales theme. From what I remember the show either aired on CBC or YTV here in Canada and I enjoyed watching it as a kid. It was cute, quaint and was one of those rare shows that existed in a sweet, benign universe. It dealt with the adorable and sweet side of real life. The show started in 1981 and through a variety of property transfers, is still going.

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So what better way to honour a time tested and loved series than by making a feature film. You know, like Garfield or the Chipmunks or Smurfs or any other gross, unneeded violation of childhood icons. Now, Postman Pat isn’t nearly as bad as those other cinematic abortions, but it’s not great and I’m almost inclined to say that it’s the worst animated film of 2014, but then I remembered Legends of Oz.

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Postman Pat: The Movie is needlessly complicated while being incredibly dull. It starts out as any typical episode of Postman Pat with Pat and Jess delivering the mail. Pat’s excited because he’s going to get his bonus and is planing on using the money to take his wife to Italy. Upon bringing his mail to the sorting facility Pat learns from the obviously evil Carbunckle that the post office is going to become a hell of a lot more efficient and that no one is getting their bonuses.

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Distraught, Pat returns home to find his wife extremely excited about the trip and Pat doesn’t have the heart to tell her that they can’t go. That’s all right, because after watching a timely parody of singing competitions with Simon Cowbell, Pat learns that not only is one of the prizes a trip to Italy but that the show is coming to his town and he can audition. As Greendale’s acts are all made of silliness and Pat easily wins his way into round two. Pat’s boss and the evil Carbunkle see the performance and Carbunkle decides to use Pat’s new found fame to his advantage.

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Focused on winning the competition, Pat allows Carbunkle to replace him with a robot for his postal service. Carbunkle plans on taking over the world with Patbots and I had to type that sentence. Pat’s fame starts to isolate him from his friends and family and he struggles with fame and what he’s willing to do for his wife, even if it pushes her away.

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So Postman Pat: the Movie is about evil robots, the pointlessness of singing shows and autotune…I think. It tries to be a satire, but it’s too cutesy to work. The robot plot sort of comes out nowhere and is far too silly to work. There’s a subplot about two brothers who are against Pat in the talent show that tries to tie things together, but ultimately feels like it was tacked on. Plus the singing is so over the top that the robot plot is more plausible than that voice coming out of Pat.

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There are a few great quips in the movie that’ll make you laugh out loud, but they are not worth sitting through the whole film. If you’re interested in Postman Pat, check out the original series.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue AKA Another Dane Cook Plane Movie

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Before I talk about Planes: Fire and Rescue I want to talk about a little thing called a character arc. Now I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I think that it’s one of the most important parts in creating a great story. An arc is the characters journey, the lessons they learn and how they grow. I’d argue that in order for a character to claim the title of protagonist they have to show some sort of growth. For example, you can make the argument that in Disney’s the Little Mermaid King Triton is the protagonist over Ariel, since he’s the one who grows and changes where Ariel is essentially the same character she was at the beginning of the film.

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Now there are a lot of good stories where characters don’t change, but in a lot of those cases the point is that they can’t change and the story can serve as a sort of cautionary tale. A great example of this is the film Young Adult, where the main character is so trapped in her own delusions that when given the opportunity to change she does everything in her power to not to.

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So why the mini lecture on character development? Well the biggest problem with Planes: Fire and Rescue, is that there’s not really a character arc. Now, I haven’t seen the original Planes, so there might have been a ton of character development that I missed out on and maybe Fire and Rescue didn’t need any character development.

The basic premise of Planes: Fire and Rescue is that, Dusty Crophopper, after becoming a world famous racer has damaged his gear box and will not longer be able to race. If he pushes himself into the red he will crash and, though the film never uses the word, die. After trying to prove that he can over come his new found weakness, Dusty nearly destroys Propwash Junction. In order to make things better and get the town up and running he offers for become the town’s backup fire fighter.

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He’s sent off to Piston Peak Natural Park to get certified as a firefighter. This proves to be a lot harder than Dusty originally imagined and his new limitations could prevent him from getting certified and saving Propwatch Junction in time for the Corn Festival. Can Dusty over come his broken gear box and save not only Propwatch Junction, but Piston Peak as well.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue was better than I thought it would be. For a sequel to a spin off the animation isn’t half bad, though it exploits the hell out of the 3D gimmick. Not having seen the first Planes didn’t hinder my viewing of Fire and Rescue. The characters and unique enough and the plot is simple enough to watch without confusion and the end result is surprisingly palatable. Unlike the Nut Job or Legends of Oz, I didn’t have to pause it several times just to get through it. It’s a movie you can watch with younger kids without being bored out of your mind. There are two jokes that made me laugh out loud, the first being a pretty good CHiPs parody and the mention of Boat Reynolds.

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As per Pixar standards, the voice acting is great. The biggest surprise for me was Dane Cook’s performance as Dusty. I don’t mind Dane Cook as a stand up comic, some of his stuff is really funny, I just find him aggressively annoying as an actor. However, like David Spade before him, he proves to be a pretty awesome voice actor creating a sympathetic character who probably deserves a better movie.

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Now all of that being said, let’s talk about what I started this review with (and get into some spoilers): character arcs. Dusty doesn’t really go through one. Sure, he learns a new skill, but he doesn’t change, he doesn’t grow. Dusty is a nice plane and he stays a nice plane. He’s loyal, determined and brave and none of that changes. There’s a moment when he does have to push his limits and go into the red to save lives and he does crash, but that’s not really something he learns to do, it’s already ingrained in his character. He doesn’t really lose faith and instead of learning to work with his disability, it’s written away. There’s another panicky moment when Dusty has to confess to Blade Ranger that his gear box is broken and he gets a bit of a pep talk that helps him over come his fears. But it’s hard to count a pep talk as a character arc.

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There’s a lot of talk of second chances and that it’s not the end of the world if you switch careers late in the game. We find out that all of the fire vehicles found firefighting as a second career and are better for it. The movie gives the impression that once Dusty becomes certified, he’ll find a new lease on life as a Fire Fighter despite his limitations. Then he crashes and he’s put back together and his un-fixable gear box is fixed and he can still race and be a firefighter too and it all feels really hollow. And that’s the problem, Dusty gets everything and loses nothing and while a lesson is learned a lesson isn’t really learned.

Planes: Fire and Rescue is better than you probably think it is, but it’s not great. If you want to see an awesome movie with planes check out Porco Rosso or the Wind Rises, which are both beautiful, fun and poignant.

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Nostalgic Reviews – Pokemon 2000: The Power of One

Ever get that sense of nostalgia where you just have to re-experience something you loved as a child? I’ve declared November a month of new beginnings, as there are a lot of big changes going on for me right now. Sometimes when moving forward it’s fun to look back, plus who doesn’t love pulling off the nostalgia goggles from time to time.

Pokémon is one of those things that I ever quite grew out of. I first experienced Pocket Monsters when it first came out and a Japanese exchange student I knew was playing it. I loved the idea, but had no comprehension of how the game worked. When it came out in Canada, I rushed to get copy…even though I hadn’t quite saved up enough for a Gameboy. When I finally did get a Gameboy I was hooked and have been playing Pokémon ever since.

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The first episode of the Pokémon animated series I ever watched was Tentacool & Tentacruel, part two of a two part episode where the first part never aired because of fake boobs. I remember thinking  that the show was incredibly stupid, but here’s the thing, it knew it was stupid and that kind of made it charming. Despite the fact that I knew the show wasn’t great, I loved it and would watch it every day after school. It was silly and nonsensical, it had a great theme song and was stupid but cute and for the most part the characters were really likable. Looking back, the show still kind of holds up. It’s still stupid, but fun, which is something I cannot say about the later seasons.

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When I first heard about the first Pokémon movie I was stoked, but was ultimately disappointed when I saw it. The best part were the promo cards that came with the tickets, which I still have to this day. Despite my dislike of the first movie, I still looked forward to the second one. I’ll admit, I really liked it and saw it a couple of times in theaters and got it as soon as it came out on VHS. From what I remember, it was the strongest of the Pokémon movies, with the third one coming in as a kind of close second…the fourth and possibly beyond are pretty un-watchable.

Worst Time Travel Movie Ever!

Worst Time Travel Movie Ever!

So let’s look at Pokémon 2000 and see if it holds up past the nostalgia goggles.

Disturb not the harmony of fire, ice or lightning, lest these titans wreak destruction upon the world in which they clash. Though the water’s great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting, alone its song will fail, and thus the earth shall turn to ash. O Chosen One, into thine hands bring together all three. Their treasures combined tame the Beast of the Sea.

So the basic plot of the movie is that Lawrence, collector extraordinaire, needs to collect the legendary Pokémon Lugia for his collection. In order to do this he needs to capture the three legendary birds, Moltres, Zapados and Articuno. In doing so, he disrupts the environmental harmony, unleashing some insane weather all over the world. Meanwhile, Ash Ketchum and friends are stranded on Shamouti Island where Ash is invited to take place in a legend ceremony. He is told that he needs to collect three orbs from Fire, Ice and Lightning Islands and bring them to a central shrine. Ash, being Ash, decides to rush things and heads to Fire Island. Because of Lawrence’s tomfoolery, the prophecy comes to fruition and it’s up to Ash to save the day.

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As I mentioned before, back in the day I thought that this was the strongest Pokémon movie. Now saying that Power of One is the best of the Pokémon movies is like saying Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge is the best of the Puppet Master movies, it doesn’t mean a lot. (Although, now that I think about it there are a lot of similarities between the Puppet Master Series and Pokémon. Both are about little creatures who can do good or evil in their masters hands, with emphasis on collecting them all. Perhaps Puppet Master is a stupid, proto Pokémon. If you combined the two you’d get Puppetmon from Digimon, but I digress). Upon re-watching Power of One, I can safely say that yeah, out of all the Pokémon movies I’ve seen Power of One is the best.

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Now don’t get me wrong, it is by no stretch a great movie or even a good one for that matter. It’s an hour and a half commercial for something far more awesome. It is, however, a far better commercial than Battle Ship or Transformers two and on. The plot is predictable,but fun. The animation is poor and suffers from what a lot of animated features from the late 90’s and early 2000’s suffered from and that’s unnecessary use of CG graphics. Nowadays traditional and CG can be blended quite seamlessly, but back then it was jarring, ugly and would really take you out of the film. Disney and Don Bluth couldn’t do this right, Pokémon didn’t have a chance. Now I have read that in the first movie a lot of the CG stuff was added, but I haven’t been able to confirm this for the Power of One.

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Despite all of that, it still kind of holds up. I could watch the whole film without having to pause it and it didn’t grate on me that much. It still has that charm that the original series had, where it knew it was bad, but was having fun with it. So here are the things that I think made Power of One a better movie than it should have been.

1. The Story.

Despite the story being predictable, it has a more epic feel than the rest of the movies (at least that I’ve seen). The use of the prophecy is an effective, if not, cliche way to tie things together. It feels like there’s a lot at stake and that it might really be Ash and Pikachu’s biggest adventure.

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2. Misty Gets To Do Something.

At this point in the series Misty had essentially been delegated to protector, caretaker and overseer of all things Togepi. There are very few moments in the series after Togepi hatches that Misty would get to do something not related to Togepi. In the film she actually plays a big part, even if a lot of the film involves her denying her crush on Ash. She’s the one that saves Ash and by extension the world. Hell, even Tracy, (who in my opinion is the series most useless character, come on, even Todd got his own video game) got a little something to do.

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3. The music is pretty good

The soundtrack from the first movie was largely pop songs…and not great pop songs at that(except the one by Weird Al, cause Weird Al is awesome). The Power of One has a largely instrumental soundtrack and a couple of fun pop songs, including one from the B52’s. Lugia’s theme is strangely haunting and works as an instrumental piece outside of the film.

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4. Team Rocket

Jesse, James and Meowth are great, because in the movies they are aware that they’re in the movies. They are constantly breaking the fourth wall and despite their wicked ways, help out as best they can. They don’t have a lot to do, but they provide the comic relief, which balances out the tone of the movie.

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So Pokémon 2000: the Power of One isn’t great, but it’s fun. So if you liked the show growing up and you have a high tolerance for late 90’s cheese, it’s worth a re-watch.

Thoughts on Transformers: Age of Extinction

I wasn’t going to say anything about the new Transformers movie, but its been a week since I’ve seen it and I’m still kind of angry about it. So if you haven’t seen it yet, there will be spoilers so read at your own risk.

A few months ago I picked up a bluray collection of the original Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts from the forties and early fifties. Before any menus or options popped up, there was a huge disclaimer. The disclaimer stated that there were racist and sexist things that would show up in the shorts and that those things were wrong both at the time of their creation and in a modern context, the cartoons should still be enjoyed for their historical significance. Some of these cartoons are over seventy years old and because of the era they’re from can be almost hilariously offensive. There are a lot of really, you could get away with that, moments and you kind of laugh because of how different things are now. We know that this is not okay and that race and gender relations at that time were atrocious, so why is that type of portrayal okay and accepted in a Micheal Bay movie.

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I’ve been told in the past that I should just turn my brain off when watching these movies; they’re just dumb action movies and I should just relax and enjoy them. Here’s the problem with that, when you shut your brain off your subconscious is far more susceptible to the messages that the movie is presenting you with. You might get the impression that the stereotypes (stereotypes that border on slurs) are okay, it’s okay to think or act that way. You should never have to shut your brain off just to enjoy something, entertainment should be thought provoking and engaging.

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Now I’ll admit Transformers: Age of Extinction does have its entertaining moment’s. I would have liked to see more of the dinobots, because robot dinosaurs are awesome regardless of what crap they’re put in. There were also some great performances by Stanley Tucci as not-Steve-Jobs and Mark Walberg as a struggling inventor. The movie also has the courtesy to kill off one of its more annoying characters early in the movie. However, there are a lot of stereotypes and weird product placement (why would a transformer still have its auto logo on it when it’s in robot form…other than the film being a nearly three hour commercial) and if given a choice characters will take the stupid option. All of that aside, my biggest problem is with the female lead.

I warned you I was going to give away the plot.

I warned you I was going to give away the plot.

The character of Mark Walberg’s daughter exists only to be victimized or sexualized, which made me angry enough that I couldn’t enjoy the movie. Say what you will about Mikaela (the Megan Fox character) from the first two Transformers movies, sure she was scantily clad, but she could hold her own in the movie. She was good with cars, had a troubled past and a reason for her shallow exterior. In my opinion, she should have been the main character of the movies and the franchise would have been better for it. The female lead of Age of Extinction is useless and other than berating her father for whatever she can, the only words out of her mouth are crying, help me, save me or I can’t do it. Because of bad writing she’s either constantly in danger or making poor decisions that are putting her in danger.

If you cut out all of her crying the movie would only be an hour shorter.

If you cut out all of her crying the movie would be an hour shorter.

At one point after being rescued from a spaceship equipped to transport giant robots, as in once it made it into space it wouldn’t be very habitable for organic life, she refuses to travel down a series of suspensions to a nearby building. Not only does this behavior nearly get everyone killed, but proves that she’s useless. She has no fight or flight reflexes, just there are men and one of them is bound to save me attitude. Now I’m not saying that all female characters need be super strong warrior women, but there should at least be depth and competence, it’s not the forties anymore female characters can be more than a love interest or a damsel in distress.

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A point is made near the beginning of the film that she’s a good at stick driving, other than a dick joke this never comes up again. There is so much of the allotted human time in the film focused on her crying, being rescued and how short her shorts can get that it comes at the cost of screen time for the more likable characters. There are two other female characters who, while having significantly less screen time, are more fleshed out and stronger. There’s a geologist who’s not afraid of a gun in her face and not-Steve-Job’s assistant (who is a bit of a stereotype because all Asians know martial arts) who shows herself to be a competent leader and isn’t bad on a motorcycle.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

I think that the film would have been better if she had been killed off early in the movie, rather than the super annoying surfer. It could have been about Mark Walberg and Optimus Prime getting revenge. Actually a better film would have been the father son dynamic troubles between Optimus and Bumblebee that was mentioned as a throwaway gag, now that might be a cool movie.

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Thoughts on X-men: Days of Futures Past

There are three basic theories of time travel. The first is that you can go back in time and change things, the second is that you can go back in time, but any changes you make are null in your universe and will create an alternate universe; the third option is that time is a loop and that when you go back in time it was predestined that you were supposed to go back in time and you change nothing. Confusing, right. X-men: Days of Futures Past largely follows the first theory, but it does make a few nods to the other two. When I fist started writing this two weeks ago, before getting very distracted, I had serious issues with the time travel rules in the film, but after a re-watch of Looper, I’m willing to forgive it.

As per these things go the following is my own dumb opinion and there are spoilers ahoy.

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Thoughts on Rio 2

I recently saw a double header of Rio 2 and X-men: Days of Futures Past, neither movie has a lot in common…except for being highly convoluted. I’ll get to Days of Futures Past, once I have the time to draw some thoughts…yes I need to draw my thoughts on that one.

So lets start with Rio 2. The original Rio was the cliche, yet heart warming story of an endangered and humanized Blue Macaw who is taken from his cozy life in Minnesota to Rio in hopes of repopulating his species.

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He has a very close relationship with his human companion Linda, but that slowly changes when he meets the feisty Jewel a Blue Macaw  who grew up in the wild. Through all of the movie cliches, they go from disliking each other to falling in love.  There were a lot of atrociously annoying minor characters, including a couple of birds voiced by Jamie Fox and will i am and a dog not even I could love, voiced by Tracy Morgan.

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Rio’s saving grace was that it had an awesome villain, voiced by Jemaine Clement. Nigel was fun and spontaneous in a movie that was very constrained by its plot. Rio was very much a movie by numbers, it might have been written by pulling cliches out of hat.

Rio ended with the reveal that Jewel and Blu did end up saving their species, by having a trio of children. This doesn’t hold well for the Rio 2 if animated movies have taught me one thing, it’s that nothing sucks the joy out of a series faster than the main characters procreating. Look at Shrek, two fun movies and two atrocious movies. So, I didn’t have any expectations going into Rio 2 and while it was better than I thought it was, the movie was so condensed, convoluted and confusing.

There must have been a scrapped Rio: the animated series in the works somewhere. Because it feels like they took an entire series and jammed in into one movie. Everyone has a subplot, but there’s not really a plot to speak of. The closest I can think of is that there is a generic bad guy who is cutting down the rain forest illegally, because he’s evil I guess, but there were so many subplots that I kept on forgetting about it.

The movie is supposed to about (judging from the trailers) Blu, Jewel and kids…who I can’t remember the names of so I’ll refer to as their personality types Aloof, Brainy and Annoying, finding out that there may be other Blue Macaws out there.

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So the family embarks on a trip to find the other Blue Macaws, while a lot of other stuff happens. Stuff includes, Jewel’s long lost father not liking Blu, a Crips and Bloods allegory, jungle carnival, tension between Jewel and Blu over an old boyfriend of hers, Nigel wanting to get revenge on Blu and a lot of other stuff. Once again, the movie’s saving grace is Nigel and his two new side kicks. I think his parts would have been better used if they were cut from the movie and presented as animated shorts.

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The thing is, the movie is really good looking and I think with a few tweeks, it could have been decent. So here’s what I would have done. I would have set the movie before the reveal of the kids, they don’t do much and just serve as filler. I would have kept Blu and Jewel traveling to the Amazon to meet the rest of their species and having to redefine their relationship now that they no longer have to repopulate the species. The stuff about Blu learning to be a bird again could still be in the movie, plus Jewel could get some character development other than being upset with Blu for not embracing the Amazon. It wouldn’t have been perfect, but it would have been a tighter story.

 

Remember less is more…and sidekicks aren’t always a good thing.

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Godzilla’s Revenge or the Delusions of a Bullied Child

While I’ve been tackling the Fantasia part of my Disney Retrospective, I’ve been watching old Godzilla films as background noise. Right now I’m watching Godzilla’s Revenge or All Monsters Attack. It’s essentially the story of a sad, bullied and delusional child named Ichirô, who immerses himself in Godzilla stock footage to hide from his loneliness.

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His parents are never home and kind of leave him in the care of a kind of his mad scientist landlord…I think. He’s such a pathetic kid that he’s bullied by the nerdiest kids in school, this is impart because he may be the most annoying child that has ever lived.

From what I’ve put together, the movie takes place outside of the Godzilla universe and Ichirô is a huge Godzilla fanboy. He sees Godzilla and friends everywhere, even the original as stock footage in the news. When he falls asleep he dreams of key fights from Godzilla movies, while he pals around with Godzilla’s son Minilla. Minilla is almost as annoying as Ichirô, with a voice that makes Barney seem quaint and dignified. There are some fun old stock footage fights, that are rendered annoying by Minilla’s and Ichirô’s commentary. But there is a scene, where Godzilla steps on Minilla’s tail. I’m pretty sure that this was because Minilla inturupted his game of volley rock with Ebirah.

Ebirah.

Minilla’s problem’s parallel Ichirô’s and together they overcome their respective bullies of the same name. Also robbers, to pad the movie out there are bank robbers.

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Godzilla is really only in the movie to be an overbearing father, who seems to be fed up with the fact that his son is the most pathetic monster on Monster Island. I wanted there to be a scene where Godzilla and Ichirô’s father talk about how weird their kids are.

As mentioned before there’s also a subplot about robbers, where Ichirô uses what he learned in his delusions to defeat the robber. I love how when he explains to the media how Minilla helped him with the robbers, the press is all like “is this kid insane?”. No just delusional.

Godzilla’s Revenge is widely considered the worst Godzilla film, but I’d disagree. I think that honour belongs to Final Wars, because while Godzilla’s revenge is certainly annoying and made of mostly stock footage, there’s no Matrix style coat swishing or alien mind control…not that that’s the only Godzilla movie where that happens.

Saga: A mini review

The Death of Captain Marvel will always be my favourite comic. It’s touching, poignant and is extremely meaningful to me on a personal level.

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However, it’s not the best comic I’ve ever read. There’s a huge difference between what’s the best and what a favourite; a lot of my favourite things wouldn’t be considered great by any stretch of the imagination. Anyways, the best comic I’ve ever read is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Stapels.

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Saga is the story of an intergalactic war that started between the people of the Planet Landfall and it’s Moon Wreath. The conflict spreads throughout the galaxy and pulls a variety of species into the fray.

The narrative centers around Alana a native of Landfall and Marko a native of Wreath and their newborn child Hazel. At first glance it might seem like Romeo and Juliet in space, but it goes far beyond that. Romeo and Juliet is a cautionary tale about young love and how stupid teenagers can be and other than the star crossed lovers, there’s not a whole lot of similarities.

The story is narrated by Hazel and her recollection of the conflict and the people that are thrust into her life. Its Hazel’s narration that makes Saga more than just a space opera. She’s a little sarcastic, very poignant and observant. She hints towards things that will happen in the far future, but it never feels contrived or clunky. Part of the beauty of Saga is how well it flows. It never lags, but takes its time to develop characters.

The characters alone are worth the read. They’re beautifully drawn and written, making then feel like real people. Everyone has their moment a time to shine, whether their a freelancing assassin or a ghost. It’s hard not to love the characters or feel a jolt of panic when something bad happens to them.

I’d go deeper into the plot, but that would be a huge disservice to anyone who wants to read it. It’s a great comic to go into blind and just fall into the universe. The writing is amazing and the artwork is breathtaking. Fiona Staples’ art jumps off the page and goes into insane amounts of details.

All I can say, is read it. You won’t regret it. The only problem is that it’s not finished yet and every volume will leave you wanting more. I’ll leave you with a picture of Hazel Fiona Staples drew for me at a convention.

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