Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (2013)


Your Mom’s Dead. Enjoy the Game, Kids!

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (2013)Today’s game was introduced to me by my roommate, Richurd. I had not heard of it because I barely do any research into future video games anymore, but Richurd was well acquainted with it. And his passion for the game gave me passion for it, in a similar way to how Richurd transmits all of his passions into me. And his STD’s. Well, he told me that this game was a new RPG with an art design by Studio Ghibli, so that drew me to look into it. After watching a few videos, I fell in love with the artistic direction of the game and just had to get it. So now I’ve beaten it and that jerkface Richurd practically hasn’t played it yet. What an asshole. Well, let’s see how it worked out for me as I review Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, developed by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, published by Namco Bandai, written by Akihiro Hino, and including the voices of Adam Wilson, Jo Wyatt, Jennifer Bryden, Lily Burgering, Brian Protheroe, Steffan Rhodri, Lauren Mote, Louis Tamone, Iain McKee, and Alexander Morton.

Oliver (Adam Wilson) is a young boy who lives in a town called Motorville with his mother, Allie (Jo Wyatt). One day, while test driving a car built by his friend Philip, Oliver crashes into a river and is rescued by his mom, but the strain is too much on her and she dies of a heart problem. Welcome to your happy kid game! Hey kids, did you love the first few minutes of Up and how it made you want to kill yourself? Anyway, while crying in his room, his tears cause his doll to awaken from its slumber and reveal itself to be a fairy named Drippy (Steffan Rhodri), given to Oliver by his mother, who was actually the Great Sage Alicia from another world, and Oliver has inherited her magical ability. And Drippy needs Oliver’s ability to rescue his world from the Dark Djinn Shadar (Brian Protheroe) and Queen Cassiopeia (Jennifer Bryden). What Drippy didn’t account for is that Oliver would be a selfish prick, so he gets him on board by telling him that he might be able to save his mother by saving her soul mate in his world, and thus the adventure begins.

I had a lot of problems with this game. But did I like it? I was 270 hours in by the time I stopped playing, if that answers my question. And it does. It’s a really good game, especially for people like me, but it’s definitely not without its problems. I think the bulk of the problems I had with it came from the fact that I couldn’t decide who this game was for. The look and theme of the game seem to be focused more towards children, but the story can get pretty heavy in parts. Hell, the whole story gets kicked off when the kid’s mother dies. That’s pretty harsh material. And they deal with some other pretty heavy issues in the game as well. Also (and I may have been reading too much into this) but I was uncomfortable the entire time the team was in Castaway Cove. The adult mayor of this town was set on everyone being forced to wear bathing suits in the town, ESPECIALLY the two children I was playing as. The mayor of Pedovilla even tells the kids to follow him to his house to get their bathing suits. Oliver, you will have no shirt. Esther, you will be wearing a slightly modest two-piece bikini. Mayor, you’re gross. And it had nothing to do with the story, so it was just a creepy little interlude with no point. I was actually hoping by the end that the story was all going to be some psychological catharsis for Oliver and that none of it was going to be real, but they decided to make it a real magical world instead. And dealing with some serious issues and just LOOKING kid friendly wasn’t the problem, but it was how badly the story babies its audience. Everything has to be spelled out so clearly that I was sure this game was intended for kids. The concept of soul mates is introduced in this game as everyone in Motorville’s world shares a soul with someone in the magical world. They introduce this by having a 5 minute conversation trying to figure out who in Motorville might be the soul mate to the king that was a giant cat, eventually deciding that it was probably the only cat we had seen in Motorville. Thanks game. This also helps ruin some things that could be surprises, like how Shadar is granted the “Power of the Storm” right before my group got into a boat to cross a sea. Surprise! He used it right then. Spoiler alert, game! They also made a lame attempt to conceal the fact that Swaine was Gascon. They act like we’re not going to know how it turns out for about an hour of the game, and don’t even have Swaine admit it for another long period of time after Oliver and Esther figure it out. They also drop their emotional dick on the table a little early in the game. I feel like the emotional crescendo of the game was the battle with Shadar, who they build up as the ultimate evil throughout the entire game. It wasn’t until mid-battle with him that I started wondering to myself, “Wait, why is the title Wrath of the White Witch? Shadar has been the major bad guy for the first three quarters of this game and she’s just been sitting in a chair, if that lady even is the White Witch because I don’t think I’ve even heard someone call her that.” Then, when the game continued right after that, I realized that we still had to deal with her, and she had a very short period of time to get wrathful.

There’s really nothing that I can say about the look of the game. If you like the look of the Studio Ghibli anime movies, you’ll love the colorful, lush environments and cheerful design of this game. It’s an absolute delight. If you don’t like it, then you = fuck.

I really enjoyed the gameplay here as well, but I couldn’t guarantee that everyone else would. I love RPG’s, so I’d definitely be into that part of the game, but I was also really into the familiar system. But I would have to say that the familiar system felt a little … familiar … to Pokémon. You catch creatures that you use in battle, and they can level up and learn new moves and only have four at a time and they evolve too. But that’s the only similarities. But if you take a good system and use it well, I can still like it. And, much like the Pokémon games, my OCD will cause me to try to catch ‘em all, which is how I was able to invest so much time into the game. I also liked some of the awful puns they used for the creatures. Like the sheep creature called “Baatender” and the bull boss called “Gladiataur”. Then they also had one called “Unibopper”, and it seems vaguely inappropriate to make a Unabomber reference in your kid’s game. But there were problems with the gameplay as well. Much like with the story, the game expects you to be dumb and extends the tutorial 10 hours into the game. Some of that was because they kept introducing new things that you could do slowly to give you time to get it figured out, but I’m a RPG pro. And you’re not throwing anything at me that I’m not pretty used to. And you should not be giving tutorials all the way into the 4th level. Assume we have it figured out by that point. Especially if your long tutorials are basically, “Do what you’ve been doing for the first 4 levels, but now you have TWO familiars.” The biggest issue with the gameplay is that it wasn’t the classic turn-based style, but just because the AI teammates were assholes. The familiar catching system was bullshit enough on its own since it was completely random and there was nothing you could do to have a better chance of catching something, so you just have to wait until the game decides you’re ready to have this creature, but it gets even worse when you have a chance to catch something, start switching to Esther to catch it, and then Oliver decides he needs to do a move that hits everybody and kills your potential familiar. To successfully catch anything, you had to outsmart your own AI and tell everyone to defend so they wouldn’t fuck it up, but then they would still get on your nerves because your teammates doing a buff spell on everyone like a Defend Up move would interrupt what you were doing and make you have to reselect what you were doing. I didn’t even require that since the only creature on screen is done fighting and is just waiting to see if I want to try to catch it! Getting into fights can be nice because you can see where all the fights are so you can try to avoid them or attack them, so you can get through a level without having to slog your way through, but it can also get annoying that creatures will run away from you if your level is too high so you need to really sneak up on creatures when you’re trying to catch some and you’re level 99. The missions were all fine, being only slightly annoying that some of them make you run back and forth a lot. None were as bad as the one that takes you to all corners of the map looking for “the world’s greatest treasure” just to find out that the last point is a guy’s grave that says that “the world’s greatest treasure is a life spent with friends.” Fuck you, game! That shit made me laugh out loud. Way to waste my day.

Even though I did get Platinum on this game, I don’t think I’d call it an easy completion for trophies. Well, they aren’t necessarily difficult as much as they can be extremely time-consuming. I did spend 237 hours playing the game, after all.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a fantastic, though far from perfect, game. The story was touching, but between some deep messages and babysitting its audience, could not decide if it was for children or adults. The same goes for the gameplay, which is fun and engaging, but with tutorials way too far into the game. The graphics are inarguably awesome. Even though it has some problems, they’re nothing that should destroy your enjoyment of the game too much, and I’m definitely going to recommend this game for a purchase for anyone who likes classic RPGs or Pokémon. Great game. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch gets “Ni YES Kuni” out of “Now for the tutorial on how to read…”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE! YouTube OTHER JOKES HERE! Twitter BE A FAN HERE! Facebook If you like these reviews so much, spread the word. Keep me motivated! Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)


I’m the Mother Fucker that Found this Place

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)I tried to get to the theaters to see today’s movie numerous times, but it never worked out.  I think I must not have wanted to see it that badly.  It looked interesting enough, it was talked up a great deal, and it was subject matter that should be of interest to any American, but something about the movie didn’t seem like it would suit me that much.  I put the movie off so much that it eventually came out on DVD.  At this point, the movie had already been nominated for five Academy Awards, so it was pretty much cemented; I didn’t want to watch this movie.  I generally don’t watch anything that gets nominated.  They’re usually depressing dramas and are no fun to watch.  But I saw the movie in a RedBox and decided it must be done.  This movie is Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Édgar Ramirez, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Mark Duplass, and John Barrowman.

In the fiction of this movie, something really bad went down in 2001.  I’m sure I’d have heard about it if it was real.  Because of this event, the American government is looking for some dude named Osama bin Laden.  Maya (Jessica Chastain) and Dan (Jason Clarke) are interrogating a guy named Ammar about his involvement, and they use this information to find the personal courier of Osama bin Laden.  …That’s pretty much it…

This is probably going to be a really short review, because I just don’t have anything to say about this movie.  I don’t get it.  I really don’t know what everyone was talking about with this movie.  I didn’t hate the movie, but I was really bored through the greater majority of the movie and just could not fathom its popularity.  I was just pretty bored by most of the movie.  The first three quarters of the movie is all the investigation to find bin Laden, which had a few interesting scenes of torture, but was mostly Maya watching movies.  I do that all day, and I don’t think anyone is that interested in a streaming feed of my day.  They tried to keep it interesting with a couple of sparse, action moments throughout, but there were not enough and most of them ended with a whimper.  Like when the guys were trying to locate the courier with his cell phone signal.  They basically just drove around in circles until they found him, and then they took a picture and he drove off.  And there was one part where a car blew up that was kind of tense, but I was too busy laughing because a black cat ran in front of the car as it approached, in some of the bluntest symbolism I have ever seen in movies.  I suppose you could make the argument that the point of the movie was to almost be a documentary about the death of bin Laden, and that’s fine and everything.  But I think most Americans had already read about how that went down.  I never read the news, but I was already aware of that.  So that means that the movie is just wasting time up until the point where they invade bin Laden’s compound.  That scene was an exciting recreation that I enjoyed thoroughly.  And it’s probably an argument that movies can do much better when they end really strong, but I had not forgotten what I went through to get to that point.  If I were to watch this again, I’d skip to the invasion.

I think the one thing about this movie that I can get behind are the performances.  Everyone did a great job, so the movie deserves some eyes getting on it just for that.  Jessica Chastain was great.  She was a strong character for the bulk of the movie, but I never really saw her embody what everyone kept saying about her being “a killer” or anything.  She was tough when it came to getting in the faces of her superiors, but she also couldn’t stomach the torture early on in the movie.  After that, I was impressed with how many people were in this movie that I didn’t know about.  Going in, I only knew Chastain and Chris Pratt were in this movie.  And he was a really small part in the movie.  But I recognized Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong from Sherlock Holmes, Édgar Ramirez, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, and John Barrowman.  I shouldn’t even really recognize Barrowman since I’ve never seen Doctor Who or its spinoff show Torchwood, but Chris Hardwick has given me so much more Doctor Who knowledge than most people with no firsthand knowledge of the show.

Zero Dark Thirty is a movie I respect, but not a movie that I like.  Personally, I felt very bored watching the live action remake of stories I had read a year ago that never really felt like much more than a lady watching movies and looking at pictures.  But the scene of the invasion of bin Laden’s compound, as well as some great performances, does stand as a reason to watch this movie.  Plus, lots of other people love this movie, so it’s more than likely just not a movie that does anything for me.  Zero Dark Thirty gets “This is what defeat looks like” out of “You can help yourself by being truthful.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)


It’s “Make Your Mommas Proud” Time!

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)The sad realization I’ve had about doing my reviews is that I occasionally don’t seem to find the time to see the movies I actually want to watch because I’m too preoccupied reviewing movies that have been requested or that I just want to watch to make fun of.  Today’s movie is the former.  I really wanted to see this movie for a number of reasons.  It included the voices of many people I like, it is about something I revolve my life around, and it just looked good.  But I never managed to get to the theaters to see it.  When it came out on DVD later, I still didn’t get around to it.  My roommate even purchased it and I still put it off until he finally had to slap me in the face a number of times with his BluRay until I agreed to watch it.  And then I left it on my desk without watching it for a few times until I felt like my life was in danger if I didn’t get around to it.  What I’m saying is that I’m terrified of my roommate.  He’s mentally unstable and I need help.  And since none of you are rushing to my aid because you’re bad people, I’ll instead review Wreck-It Ralph, the new movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, directed by Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Rachael Harris, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Dennis Haysbert, Maurice LaMarche, and John DiMaggio.

When Litwak’s Arcade closes, the video game characters come to life.  …I KNEW IT!!  One of the older games in the arcade is a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., which is a Rampage rip-off where a giant monkey or lizard creature is replaced by a bad guy named Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), who wrecks a building, and the gamer must take control of Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) to fix it.  But 30 years of being the bad guy is taking its toll on Ralph, who just wants to be the good guy and get a shiny hero badge every once and a while.  Ralph sets off into the other game worlds to earn a medal, going to the new first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty and jumping into the team of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), where he is able to earn a badge.  He escapes in a pod, but accidentally takes a Cy-Bug creature with him, which causes him to crash in the saccharine sweet kart-racing game and lose his medal to a little, glitchy girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who wants it to join the race and become a playable character.  But Ralph’s absence does not go unnoticed.  Having no villain in the game is viewed as a malfunction by the owner of the arcade, and if Ralph doesn’t return, the plug will be pulled on the game.  Felix teams up with his new love interest, Sergeant Calhoun, to find Ralph before it’s too late.

Disney must’ve realized that Pixar was showing them up recently because they really seem to be stepping their game up.  I would put Wreck-It Ralph up against any Pixar movie as at least their equal, and that’s one hell of a compliment with some of the Pixar classics out there.  I loved Wreck-It Ralph, and there’s really no reason I should even bother acting surprised about that.  This movie was made for me, or at least born gamers like myself.  …But mostly for me specifically.  For a movie so full of hidden references as this one was, only the most dedicated of gamers will be able to get all of them, and I’m proud to say that I got them all.  And, coincidentally, I am also single.  They had the more obvious things like the Konami code in the game (Yes, I consider that to be something obvious; something everyone should know), but they also had smaller things you have to pay attention for, like graffiti saying “Aeris Lives” and a Leroy Jenkins reference.  But then they also had things that pained my nerdiness, like making Zangief a bad guy.  The only point where Zangief was a bad guy (to my recollection) was in the Street Fighter movie, and no one acknowledges that movie’s existence.  You just think he’s a bad guy because he’s Russian.  But it wasn’t all about the video game references for me.  I thought the story was very sweet, had a simple but good message, and actually made me laugh out loud multiple times.  Most of the things that made me laugh were (arguably) horrible puns, though some of them were genius.  One character claims she has “Pixlexia”, they get trapped in “Nesquicksand”, and they had a Wizard of Oz/Oreos joke that I thought was great, even though I kind of saw it coming.  But I can’t hold that against them.  I AM a comedy genius, after all.  Also, I always thought that what the guards were saying in Wizard of Oz anyway.  But, just as important to the lasting effects of this movie as the comedy, this movie was very sweet.  Mostly involving the fatherly relationship between Ralph and Vanellope.  Also, the ending was sweet as all hell.  I’ve noticed recently that some movies don’t end the way you want them to because they want to be unpredictable.  This movie’s ending was perhaps predictable, but it was exactly the ending I wanted.  I left with a warm feeling in my heart.

Not much to say about the atmosphere of the movie.  It’s fantastic.  It captures every look it goes for.  And it’s interesting to see how they changed the atmosphere and design for each of the individual games.  Keep an eye out for that.

The entire cast of this movie killed it.  And most of them were people I loved going in.  John C. Reilly did a great job, but I found myself mostly focusing on everyone else.  Sarah Silverman killed it.  She was relentlessly adorable, like a female, human Wall-E.  I also love Jack McBrayer, but he was overshadowed by Jane Lynch, who was pretty funny with a pretty hilarious, tragic backstory.  I thought it would’ve been much more progressive if her character was getting married to a lady instead, but perhaps Disney isn’t quite ready to take a stand on the gay marriage situation.  They’re no Chick-fil-a.  Also, he may not have a huge part in the move, but the Ace Man himself, Adam Carolla, is in this movie a little!  That is so exciting to me.  But he wasn’t complaining, and that’s how I like my Ace Man.  I’ll stick to his podcast to get my Carolla fix.

Wreck-It Ralph was a movie that I should not have put off for as long as I did.  I regret missing it while it was in theaters, but hopefully I can make it up to the movie by purchasing it on BluRay now.  The story is sweet and funny enough for children and adults alike, and it’s chock full of things meant to please the nerdiest of gamers (me).  All of the performances were great, but Sarah Silverman stole my heart in this movie.  I think everyone should not only see this movie, but just go buy it right away.  If you don’t like it, then you’re a bad person and I feel no remorse for causing you to spend money on things you don’t appreciate.  Wreck-It Ralph gets “You’re a winner!” out of “And you’re adorable!”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)


I Think, Therefore You Are.

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)Remember my October Horrorthons?  Of course you don’t!  Why would you?  I apparently don’t.  Around the time I was reviewing horror movies for this Horrorthon, a movie review was requested of me by friend of the reviews Kendra that I never got around to.  And then it never really felt like a good time to review a horror movie because it was no longer October.  She probably forgot that she requested it.  I know that I forgot about it for a while.  But then it popped back into my head and I realized that I should not try to wait until October to knock this one out.  Let’s do this!  The movie is In the Mouth of Madness, written by Michael De Luca, directed by John Carpenter, and starring Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen, David Warner, Charlton Heston, John Glover, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, and Bernie Casey.

John Trent (Sam Neill) is a patient in a Looney bin that recounts his story to Dr. Wrenn (David Warner).  Trent worked as an insurance investigator who is hired by the director of Arcane Publishing, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to locate popular horror novelist Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow).  At first, Trent is not interested.  But he then inexplicably decides to buy all of his books and read them, giving himself nightmares.  And that is exactly the reason that any rational person would take up the case!  Also, he cut up the covers of the books and found a map that only people in this movie can read because it just looked like a collection of various book covers to me.  Anyway, it leads Trent and Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), editor of Cane’s books, to a town that doesn’t exist called Hobb’s End – the place where Calvin’s tiger died – where they find that Cane’s books are coming to life.

Uh … why did I watch this?  I don’t say that because this movie was “bad” per se, but I don’t really understand how this movie became requested.  The movie feels like it intends to be deep and psychologically scary, but was really only a slight step up from a regular “gore and makeup” horror movie.  I started thinking negatively of this movie right in the beginning as the movie opens with the most 80’s, Karate Kid-style rock music.  What have I gotten myself into?  And then it got into a lot of its nonsense.  Like the whole situation with the agent trying to kill Trent with an axe and Trent talking to Harglow and Styles about how he thought it was a publicity stunt.  A publicity stunt?  That guy is dead now!  How much did he believe in Cane’s new book that he’d take part in a publicity stunt that ended with him being dead?  Trent says a lot of stupid things in this movie though.  Near the end, he makes the claim that “every species can smell its own extinction.”  What are you basing that on?  How many now extinct animals have we interviewed about what they can smell?  And what does extinction smell like?  I like to think it smells like White Diamonds.  And then it gets into the story, which isn’t that interesting but felt like it really wanted to be.  Is the book causing all of this?  (Probably)  Does Cane have super powers?  (Sure)  Is Trent crazy?  (Seems to be)  Do I care?  (No, not really)  And then the movie ends with Trent in a movie theater, watching the movie we just watched like the horror movie version of Blazing Saddles.

I wasn’t really impressed with the performances in this movie either.  Sam Neill gave a good enough performance, but it felt like he was not good enough at hiding his accent yet.  He has one on the realsies, right?  Well, if not, he talks weird.  Also weird: his character keeps a squeaky horn in his glove compartment, specifically to wake up passengers that fall asleep while he’s driving?  That’s odd.  Especially since these vehicles actually have built-in squeaky horns of their own.  I spent the greater majority of the movie trying to decide if I wanted to bang Julie Carmen.  By the end of the movie, I decided that I wouldn’t kick her out of bed, but I also wouldn’t actively pursue it.  The only thing I really thought about her character was that she must’ve been SUPER dedicated to her job.  I know she’s Cane’s editor, but does that necessarily entail that she memorize every detail of his books?  She knows which direction the church is from the hotel in a made up novel.  Unless there’s a map or he just spends a lot of time describing the layout of the towns in his books, there’s really no reason to do that.  When I saw Frances Bay in the movie, I recognized her but didn’t know from where.  I thought she was the rapping grandma at first, but then I realized she was a grandma, but a grandma for Happy Gilmore.  That made me so happy.  She’s good too.  In Happy Gilmore, she was a sweet old lady that you wish was your grandma, and she starts out that way here, but shows some range too.

Because of my lack of expectations, In the Mouth of Madness was unable to disappoint me.  But I didn’t like it.  It’s not bad; it’s just average and insignificant.  The story wants to be special and deep but isn’t, and then it’s left to stand on its aging visuals.  The performances didn’t do anything for me, but the Grandma from Happy Gilmore is in it.  Besides her, I can’t think of any reason to recommend this movie to you.  Go ahead and skip it.  In the Mouth of Madness gets “Reality is not what it used to be!” out of “I’m sorry about the balls!  It was a lucky shot, that’s all!”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)


Sony’s Super Smash Brawl All-Stars Royale with Cheese.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)When I learned of the existence of today’s game, I scoffed.  I had no interest in playing this game.  Well, that’s not necessarily true.  I actually have had interest in playing this game many times before, and I’ve enjoyed playing.  Problematically, I enjoyed playing these games when they were called Super Smash Brothers.  But this time PlayStation was doing it.  I still only decided to play this game because I have a somewhat underused Vita and my roommate gave me a code that would get me this game for free.  Consider yourself endorsed, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, developed by SuperBot Entertainment and SCE Santa Monica Studio, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and including the voices of Eric Ladin, Sean Pertwee, Tim Phillipps, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Unshô Ishizuka, Josh Keaton, Max Casella, Sanae Kobayashi, Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, Dred Foxx, Quinton Flynn, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Stephen Fry, Stephane Cornicard, Kevin Miller, Marc Silk, J.S. Gilbert, and, of course, Mario.  No one is going to read through all those names to see that one joke.

…story…Hmmm…  Well, a while ago, a company made a game called Super Smash Brothers because they had been around long enough and had enough iconic, exclusive characters that a game could justify it.  Years later, another accomplished company took their few iconic exclusives, added some exclusives no one gives a shit about, and acted like another character or two were exclusive, and pretty much jacked Smash Brothers blatantly.  And you use those characters to reach the end and beat a disembodied head to make your character glow blue in his epilogue.

You will find that the biggest problem I had with this game is that it is Smash Brothers.  It is so blatantly and unforgivingly Smash Brothers.  I feel like I will use the word Nintendo in this review more than I will the word Sony.  I felt like the credit sequence was so painfully long because they also had to thank everyone involved in Super Smash Brothers.  It lasts like a half hour!  I could bust through the story in less time than I could the credits.  And to refer to what it had as a “story” is true exaggeration.  Every character, no matter how different, hears that something is happening where characters from different worlds are collecting.  They go, they fight, they have a brief, one-stage-long rivalry with a character, and then they fight a disembodied head.  Winning gives them some sort of power that makes them glow blue, in the still-frame ending movie, and then a half hour of credits.  And the final boss was so disappointing to me.  The disembodied head has nothing to do with any Sony product I’ve ever experienced.  It DOES have something in common with a certain Nintendo product that ends with a pair of disembodied hands and polygonal, colorless versions of the other characters in the game.  I will eventually remember the name of that game.  But I believe Sony missed a huge opportunity to make the final boss Kevin Butler.  That would have been fucking perfect!  …SMASH BROTHERS!  That was it.

I was vaguely surprised to see that Sony had actually pulled off a fairly strong set of characters for their Smash Brothers rip off, but they cannot justify it nearly as well as Nintendo could.  Kratos, Nathan Drake, Cole MacGrath, Sweet Tooth, someone from Killzone, Big Daddy and Dante (neither of which are Sony exclusive, by the way.  And didn’t Bioshock originally come out as an Xbox exclusive?), Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, PaRappa and Nariko (why does anyone remember these two?), Raiden (the least favorite of all Metal Gear characters, since Nintendo already had the most popular), Sackboy, Sly Cooper, Sir Daniel Whogivesafuck and Toro Whatthehell from Huh? for Red October.  I lost focus near the end.  I started wondering if Xbox could pull this off.  My research pulled up Marcus Fenix, Master Chief, Blinx, Alan Wake, Joanna Dark, the Viva Piñata characters, the dude from Condemned (which admittedly might be a little dark for a Smash Brothers rip off), and no, they can’t pull off this kind of game.  Of course, they might be able to pull it off if they add in characters that are not exclusive to Sony (such as Big Daddy and Dante) or if they actually had the audacity to make Cole into 2 different characters, justified by being a good and an evil version of the same character.  Hell, I guess Microsoft could pull of this kind of game.  There are like 10 different Carmines in Gears of War, and they could always have Master Chief and crestfallen Master Chief.  And, strangely, the characters I enjoyed playing as most were the ones I didn’t know or didn’t give a shit about.  I liked Sir Daniel from the game I can’t even name because I gave all of my shits away to the orphans in Africa.  I liked the strange cat thing, Toro, from whatever the fuck crazy Japanese thing it spilled out of, partially because he felt like this game’s version of Kirby.  I even liked playing as Nariko.  Certainly more than I liked playing as her in the game she came from.  I kind of defaulted to Kratos most times, because I wanted a character that played well that wouldn’t embarrass me.  I liked the Big Daddy too, but watching a Big Daddy get suplexed by Sackboy is not something I endorse.    I do endorse beating the crap out of PaRappa, especially when he keeps shouting about how you’ve gotta believe.  Believe this, PaRappa: I hate you.

The gameplay in this game was as good as it was a few years back on the Nintendo, but they again failed to live up to Smash Brothers.  The biggest problem was that beating up enemies served no good purpose.  In Smash Brothers, you beat people up because weakening them makes them easier to knock out of the level.  There is no ring out in PSASBR.  In other fighting games, you beat up your enemies to take their life bar down to zero.  There are no live bars in this game.  You beat people up to build up super moves, and super moves are pretty much instant kills.  So, basically, your ability to win is only as good as your character’s super move.  Kind of takes a little bit of the fun and strategy out of it.  There were other issues, like how annoying it was to double tap on the screen to pick up an item instead of just pressing a button to do it, but I think I hate most games that force touch screen use on you.  The big problem I thought of in regards to playing this game is I don’t see any reason to do it.  With Smash Brothers, you did it on the big screen on a console that could support four players simultaneously.  On my Vita, I play alone unless I want to go online (which I never really do).  Of course, this game is also available for the PS3, so I might have liked it more that way.

Graphically this game was fantastic.  Sony will always have that over Nintendo because the decision makers in Nintendo really have gamers figured out.  But this graphical improvement comes at a cost.  The load times between levels are awful, and really take you out of the pacing of the game.  You play a level, taking three minutes tops to beat it, and then you can put the Vita down and go get a sandwich waiting for the next match to start.  The levels are also nicely designed.  They start off as one person’s level and, over time, get invaded by a character from another game.  Like playing in Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis and having the Hydra from God of War pop out of the ground, or having a Metal Gear slice its way into the Patapon level.  The game was musically delightful, but there was a problem with my game and the sound at first, but I don’t really fault the game for it because it was patched while I was still playing it.  And after that, I got to listen to the music from Uncharted from time to time, and I am always ready for that.

Of all the categories that this game comes second to Nintendo in, there is one category that Nintendo could never touch Sony in: trophies.  Sure, one could argue that Nintendo did not do a Trophy or Achievement system, but that feels irrelevant.  The trophies in this game were super easy, and not even very time consuming.  It’s not much more complicated than beating the game with all the characters and using their Level 3 Super Move in their own level.  Then just grab Toro, go online, and get an easy triple and double kill with his Level 3 move that seems to kill everyone on screen no matter what.  Easy Platinum.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a decent enough game that was ripped off wholesale from Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers, and without very much by way of improvement.  Their characters aren’t nearly as iconic and the gameplay feels pointless and unsatisfying in comparison.  But, this game is not without its charms.  If you don’t own a Nintendo system, if you’re looking for an easy Platinum trophy, or if graphics are more important than gameplay, I could see there being reasons to play this.  Ultimately, I wouldn’t have paid money for this thing, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend it to you.  PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gets “Super Brawl Brothers” out of “Melee.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Grave Encounters 2 (2012)


But What if it Wasn’t Just a Movie?

Grave Encounters 2 (2012)Today, I watched a sequel to a movie I didn’t know that I wanted a sequel to. I had seen the original, I had reviewed it, and then I forgot it. It came back into my life when my friend Tiffany excitedly announced on Facebook that the sequel was now available on Netflix streaming. I think I even knew the movie existed before it was available to stream and forgot that. So that’s a great endorsement for the movies, right? Well let’s see how it turns out as I review Grave Encounters 2, written by the Vicious Brothers, directed by John Poliquin, and starring Richard Harmon, Leanne Lapp, Dylan Playfair, Sean Rogerson, Stephanie Bennett, Howie Lai, Sean Tyson, Ben Wilkinson, Arthur Corber, and Brenda McDonald.

The movie starts off with people that are basically less popular and talented versions of me reviewing the original Grave Encounters movie. They may have asked me, but I forgot the entire movie so I doubt I remember them asking me to participate in a sequel. Also, having me say, “Huh? Gay Encouters? No, I haven’t really had any,” wasn’t what they were going for. What they WERE going for was people shitting on the movie, like Alex Wright (Richard Harmon). Alex is an aspiring filmmaker that makes YouTube reviews on the side. Unlike me, Alex gets comments on his YouTube videos, and one of them is from Deathawaits6, who sends a video of Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) in the mental hospital, as well as geographical coordinates for the hospital. Alex starts to become obsessed about whether or not the movie was real. After some investigation, he sets out with his producer and friend Trevor (Dylan Playfair), actress and girl with a crush on Alex, Jennifer (Leanne Lapp), Jennifer’s friend Tessa (Stephanie Bennett), and cameraman Jared Lee (Howie Lai) to see if they can get to the bottom of the grave encounters.

I’m having a bit of a difficult time with this movie. I found some parts of it very effective, but I also felt like it was treading roughly the same waters as it had in the first movie. First off, you done fucked up by not including me in the first part of this movie with the other YouTube reviewers! Just because I didn’t remember the movie doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it! And just because I wasn’t making YouTube videos at the time … y’know what? Never mind. After that, the movie spends an awful lot of time not doing anything scary and forcing us to spend a lot of time with annoying frat boy people that I didn’t join a frat specifically to avoid. Why? They actually include a joke in the movie that exemplifies it. When they first arrive at the hospital, they test out their thermal cameras by having the annoying frat guy fart. That’s some classy stuff there. And they spend way too much time building up to going back to BEEP manor (they don’t say the name), even though it barely ever makes sense. First of all, if I assumed that the first movie – or this one – was real, the last thing I’d want to do is go and find out for myself. I watched that movie. Life was not happy times and sparkles for those people. So if someone named “Deathawaits6” posted a comment leading me to believe that it really happened, I would think to myself about how interesting that was, and that is all. I wouldn’t mind investigating a ghost thing, but if all my information led me to believe that “Death Awaits” if I go there, I’d be all set. No one in this movie ever started to think about the possibility that “Death Awaits” was a bad omen. And thusly, they deserved to die. Darwinism. Of course, once they are stuck in BOOP hospital, Alex has put all their lives in danger and they get mad at him for saying they should go back for the cameras. I actually agree with him here though. First off, he says that’s like $50,000 of equipment that he’d then be responsible for. I’d go back for that. And he did the right thing by having them split up into two groups to collect them. They probably would’ve been fine if they stuck to those groups. But, of course, one person in those groups goes off on his own to get a camera and gets killed. Because, even though he’s a film student, he’s never seen a horror movie before. They also make a joke about how black guys always die first, and they avoided that possibility by not even including a black dude in their group. Of course, they stick pretty close to the cliché by making the only non-white (the Asian dude) get killed first. Later in the movie, they encounter Lance, still alive after all these years, living in the hospital, and the stupid frat guy argues about following him. Really? You can either wander around the constantly changing infrastructure of BLARP hospital until you get killed by something you can’t see, or you can follow the guy that has been living and surviving there for 9 years. I won’t spoil it, but the ending to the movie was pretty fucked up, but in a shocking way instead of a shitty way.

The visual effects and scares of the movie are mostly effective, especially when you factor in that this was probably made for much less money that a lot of the bigger horror movies. I can’t say I was impressed by the first big one though. They did the Ouija board gag! How many times have we seen that? I can think of at least 5 movies right now, and drugs have completely riddled my brain. It must be one of the easiest gags to pull off too. At first, you just need the actors to move the planchette while acting surprised, and then you can probably just pull it off with magnets when they’ve let go of it. It’s not entirely ineffective though, but this movie only really changed it by having it scratched into a table instead of having a factory produced board. Most of the rest of the stuff in the movie worked pretty well. The only other gag I took issue with was the ghosts filming Lance. Why the fuck would a ghost do that?

Although I could probably be prodded to say that the actors in this movie performed well, I didn’t like spending time with any of them. Richard Harmon didn’t do anything that bothered me beyond not banging Leanne Lapp, and Leanne Lapp didn’t do anything to annoy me beyond wanting to bang Richard Harmon. Truthfully, the only people I hated were the frat people, and more specifically the über-frat-boy cliché, Dylan Playfair. Technically, he did a great job portraying that character. I could tell because I hated him and didn’t want to be around him. I was very pleased when he got himself killed, which was dumb in itself. He actually went off into the bathroom by himself to record his will and got killed for it. Why the fuck you would do that? You realize the most likely scenario is that you will be requiring a will because you went off to record one, right?

Grave Encounters 2 feels like a slightly amped up version of the first movie, but I guess that’s what sequels do. It never made sense that they would go to the hospital beyond needing to get us to the place where the scares happen. I would’ve liked for them to get us there quicker, but I liked the time inside the hospital for the most part. Fairly effective and a decent enough watch if you like found footage ghost movies, but it’s not going to be the movie that changes your mind if you don’t. You can check it out on Netflix streaming. I’ll endorse that. Grave Encounters 2 gets “It’s just like the movie” out of “It’s not worth it…”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE! YouTube OTHER JOKES HERE! Twitter BE A FAN HERE! Facebook If you like these reviews so much, spread the word. Keep me motivated! Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Here Comes the Boom (2012)


Who Here That is Not Amish Makes Their Own Applesauce?

Here Comes the Boom (2012)Along with probably everyone else in the world, I had no interest in seeing today’s movie.  But, every once and a while, I need to watch a movie I expect to be shit.  Whether it’s to punish myself, to toughen myself, or to just give me something to make fun of, I occasionally need to pick a movie I have no interest in from the old RedBox.  We already found out how that worked out when I picked up Taken 2, but that was not the only movie I rented that day.  I also picked up Here Comes the Boom, written by Allan Loeb and Kevin James, directed by Frank Coraci, and starring Kevin James, Henry Winkler, Salma Hayek, Bas Rutten, Charice, Greg Germann, Gary Valentine, Reggie Lee, and Krzysztof Soszynski, with special MMA appearances from Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg, Herb Dean, Wanderlei Silva, Chael Sonnen, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Mark Muñoz, and Herb Dean.

Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a biology teacher that’s lost his spirit.  He is further disillusioned when the most passionate music teacher the world has ever seen, Marty (Henry Winkler), is laid off due to budget cuts.  He decides that he should attempt to raise the $48,000 needed to help Marty keep his job.  In the most ham-fisted coincidence I’ve ever seen in a movie that wasn’t making fun of the ham-fisted coincidence, Marty finds out that one of the students in his citizenship class is a former mixed martial artist named Niko (Bas Rutten), and he finds that he can make $50,000 for winning a professional MMA fight.  He and Niko reach an agreement that he will train Niko to become a citizen if Niko trains him to fight.

I hated this movie for the greater majority of my time with it.  Of course, I wanted to hate it when I rented it, but the greater majority of it supported what I wanted to think of it.  It really wasn’t funny, and the story was pretty dumb.  It was basically the story of Rich Franklin’s life if Ace also had an eating problem.  And I’m sure we’ve all seen the joke in self-aware comedies when they have to raise a certain amount of money and that exact same amount of money is the award in some contest that’s posted on a giant sign right behind them.  Those are the ones where the movie says, “How are we ever going to make the money to do this thing?” but the writers were obviously saying, “How are we ever going to get from point A to point B?”  It’s nice to think that they did this ironically, but it really didn’t feel that way when watching it.  Doesn’t matter anyway because plenty of movies are started with dumb premises just to get the comedy going.  This movie never succeeded in the comedy.  It attempted it with mostly slapstick comedy and Kevin James doing vaguely embarrassing things, but it never managed to get a snicker out of me.  It’s in no small part related to the heavy-handed criticism of the school system that made up most of the aforementioned “point A” in the movie.  I’m not saying you don’t have a point, but I don’t rent stupid comedies for your political agendas.  But here’s the really weird part of this review: with all the failures it had as a movie and as a comedy, I actually left the movie happy about it.  I know!  I feel weird even typing it!  I started noticing it when I realized I was actually excited leading up to and during the final fight in the movie.  And, though it’s predictable and ludicrous, it ends with a good message that is somewhat inspirational and actually warmed my heart.  It grew three sizes that day.  And then it exploded.  But that’s just because I have a condition.

The cast of the movie all did well enough.  I wouldn’t necessarily blame any of them for the lack of comedy.  Except maybe Kevin James.  He WAS a writer on the movie, after all.  But he was good in the movie.  He’s always pretty likeable in the movies he’s in, even if a greater majority of those movies are not likeable at all.  And he seemed to commit a lot to the role and got into fairly good shape.  Well, good shape for him anyway.  He’s still got a pretty mean gut on him, but you can see a lot of upper body definition.  I should move on.  I’m sounding kind of gay.  Salma Hayek was in this movie!  She was a great choice, assuming you can get over the common “That guy could never get that girl!” thing that you see in movies.  But she was charming and, more importantly, as hot as ever.  Henry Winkler is also great.  He might not remind you of your grandfather, but he probably reminds you of what you wish your grandfather was like.

Here Comes the Boom was a failure as a comedy, but not that bad as a movie.  I don’t recall finding anything amusing while watching the movie, but the ending was a solid fight and a heart-warming happy ending which started to win me over.  Still, that’s an hour and a half to sit through for a solid 15 minutes at the end, so I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone.  You could do worse for a dollar at RedBox, but there are probably better ways to spend 2 hours.  Here Comes the Boom gets “I’m out there getting my ass kicked!” out of “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to roll around with a sweaty guy from Holland.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Taken 2 (2012)


Listen to Me Carefully, Kim.  Your Mother is Going to be Taken.

Taken 2 (2012)It’s been a while since I was last inspired by a RedBox.  You’ll eventually come to find that the two movies I picked on this day were not inspired, but were picked with a shrug.  And that hurts me to admit about today’s movie.  This movie’s predecessor was the tits.  It smacked you in the face with its penis and downright dared you not to like it, but you still could not. At least I could not.  I loved the first movie so much that I instantly became excited when I saw that IMDb said they were making a sequel when I was writing the review for the first movie.  But then doubt began to sink in.  What if this was just a money grab?  This was a dangerous situation, and one that demanded caution on my part.  So I gave it some time after it came out, only to find that fans and critics alike did not seem to be enjoying the sequel.  In despair, I waited until the movie finally found its way to a RedBox before I was willing to give it a shot.  This movie is Taken 2, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, directed by Olivier Megaton, and starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Šerbedžija (one of few names I’ve had to copy and paste to spell correctly), Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, and Kevork Malikyan.

After the events of the first movie, the Albanian mob find themselves a little sore over how many people Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) awesomed all over.  They set their mind on taking revenge, but ONLY if coincidence brings him and his family onto their continent.  Thankfully for the mob leader Murad (Rade Šerbedžija), Bryan is going to Istanbul on a short assignment and he’s invited his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) out for a vacation.  Oh man!  Someone is about to get taken up in this piece!  Hell, maybe two!  …Oh yeah, there’s also some shit about Kim failing her driver’s test, and also she has a boyfriend that Bryan doesn’t like.  That is probably also as crucial to the story as the taken stuff.

What Olivier did to the Taken series really was like dropping a 10 Megaton bomb on it.  I winced when I thought of that.  Then I decided to share it with you.  This movie was disappointing.  It didn’t manage to capture a sliver of the awesomeness of its predecessor.  It tried to compare itself to the original by not really changing the story at all, and did the dumbest version of amping it up I’ve seen in a while.  The story for the first movie was never that complex, but you can’t just say, “This time, TWO people get taken.  That’s why we named the movie Taken TWO!  We are the most clever mother fuckers that ever were!”  But at least the first movie knew to take their simple story and slap some awesome on it to overcome their problems.  In this movie, the dumb daughter is saving Liam?  Fuck that!  Liam does the saving in this family!  They also really seemed exhausted by the possibility of writing dialogue in this movie.  They’d get started strong and then fall asleep before the sentence ended.  Like when Kim was talking to Bryan about what Lenore said about when they met.  She said, “When you met, it was … super special.”  That line was super special.  That’s like fuckin’ poetry.  Emily fuckin’ Dickinson over here!  …Is that a poet?  The biggest problem I had with the movie was, sadly, the premise for the entire movie.  The villain’s motivation made no sense, but it’s also something you see a lot in action movies.  Obviously, if you kill a mobster’s son, he’s coming after you.  That seems logical.  But where’s the logical side of his brain when it comes to the reason this guy killed his son?  He killed your son because your son was going to sell his daughter into the sex slavery trade.  If I had a kid and he was killed trying to do something horrible to someone, I’d say, “Well, that’ll happen.  Now no one will know what a shitty job I did raising the boy.”  I guess that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting movie, and they even point out that break in logic in the movie, but the mobster is having none of that.

The action of the movie was okay, but I never really felt that thrilled about it.  I didn’t even like looking at most of the movie.  For some reason, they decided that the only proper way to display this movie to us was to crank the saturation of it up to 11.  I don’t remember the first movie being so ugly that I didn’t want to even look at it.  They did a few vaguely clever things in the movie – such as Bryan telling Kim to set off grenades so that he could count how long it took for the sound to reach him – but they also did some dumb things.  I know that Movie Making 101 says that when someone hangs up a phone, the other person hears the dial tone so that they can stare at the phone and look morose.  But this is the smartphone generation and iPhones don’t do that.  The fisticuffs in the movie didn’t happen nearly often enough for my liking, but when they did they were mostly fine.  The last fight was the one that caused the most problems for me, but mainly just because I didn’t know how Bryan ended it.  He was fighting what was basically the Albanian version of him, and they were going punch for punch for the majority of the fight, but then Bryan dropped him on his back and slid him down into a seated position.  Did he just knock the wind out of him so well that he never got it back?  ‘Cause that dude was dead from something the Three Stooges used to do every day.  If you want to say that Bryan slammed the dude down on the corner and broke his neck or something, then I’m going to have to ask you to show your work.  Did you learn nothing from math class?

The cast in this movie did a fine enough job, but most of the characters got on my nerves.  Maggie Grace as the daughter most of all.  First of all, her memory is super short term.  Right in the beginning of this movie, she gets all pissy with Liam because he interrupts her boyfriend trying to get to second base with her.  Have you already forgotten that he also interrupted a Sheik making you the Thursday wife in his harem?  I think he’s got a bit of a head start on you ever getting angry at him again for his fatherly duties.  I also felt like she brought a lot of the stuff to the movie that I felt was wasted space, such as her driving test stuff and the stuff about her boyfriend.  Also, at the end when you have your boyfriend come have a milkshake with the family, the line, “Don’t shoot this one,” was maybe in poor taste.  Liam might take it poorly because his daughter thinks he’s a mindless killer, and the boyfriend probably wants to keep the fact that Liam will literally kill the shit out of him out of his mind for as long as possible.  Liam brought as much awesome as he could to the movie, but there really wasn’t much he could do to salvage it.  I did think that a good father and driving instructor would have told his daughter good job on outrunning that train, but that she should never do that again.  Famke had a pretty easy job on this movie because about halfway in she got really drowsy and spent the rest of the movie half asleep.  But the worst performances in this movie were definitely the Albanian mobsters.  They’re trying to sneak up on the ex-CIA guy that killed the shit out of all their buddies, but their idea of incognito is to be the only people in all of Istanbul wearing track suits like they were a uniform.

Taken 2 was not a good movie, but I’m still excited for the possibility of a Taken 3.  Taken was awesome enough to give them a third chance.  The story was the story from Taken, amped up in the most unimaginative way it could be, and it didn’t even have good enough action to counter-balance that.  You could say that the first movie set the bar too high, but I feel like this movie would’ve sucked with or without the comparison.  There’s no good reason to watch this movie.  Taken 2 gets “Hey Dad, please don’t shoot this one” out of “When a dog has a bone, the last thing you want to do is take it from him.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Mama (2013)


A Ghost is an Emotion Bent Out of Shape.

Mama (2013)I was very excited to get back to the theaters recently. Actually, at the time of writing this, I WAS happy to get back to the theaters about two weeks ago. When I saw Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, I was able to make it a double feature. But I didn’t find a great amount of talent in the theaters. I really wanted to see Zero Dark Thirty, but Hansel & Gretel’s run time cut too deep into the start time of that movie to make it. But there was another movie that tickled my fancy. That’s probably a little too gay of a way to say that, but it was true. I did not expect much out of this movie based on what little I knew about it. I knew only two people involved with the movie. One of the producers of the movie has made movies that have not impressed me with their story, but always had a great visual style to them. And one of the actresses was in The Help and Zero Dark Thirty. That has nothing to do with anything. But let’s see how it turned out when I went to see Mama, based on story by Andres Muschietti who also directed and co-wrote, co-written by Neil Cross and Barbara Muschietti, and starring Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, and Hannah Cheesman.

During a financial crisis that apparently happened in 2008, a man named Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) overreacts a tad by killing his business partners, his estranged wife, and kidnapping his two children – 3-year old Victoria (Morgan McGarry) and 1-year old Lilly (Maya and Sierra Dawe) – taking them on a drive to an abandoned cabin where he’ll probably kill them too. Before he gets the opportunity, something grabs him, pulls him out of frame, and kills the bejesus out of him. Also arguably a bit of an overreaction. Five years later, Jeffrey’s brother (who is also him), Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau again) is going broke searching for them. His search crew finally stumbles across the children, still alive but almost entirely feral, and now being played by Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse. After a psychiatric rehabilitation, the girls’ doctor, Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) suggests that the girls live with Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). But there’s a problem. The girls seem to have manifested a protector that they call “Mama” … OR HAVE THEY!?!?!?

I kinda liked this movie, but that may also have been mainly because I had just seen Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. This movie was better than that one, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a good movie. Just good by comparison. With time, I find that I’m getting better at predicting my feelings about movies as my movie-watching wang becomes more prodigious. Turns out, when I see Guillermo del Toro’s name associated with something and I instantly assume I’ll be unimpressed with the story but find the visual style pretty interesting, it’s a pretty safe assumption. It’s not bad, but it’s also nothing special. It’s a ghost story two feral kids. I think one of the biggest points of contention I had was that I never understood Mama’s motivations. I realize that she was the ghost of a crazy person, but shouldn’t she appreciate the people that were taking care of the children that she loved? I understand the possibility that Mama would get jealous that the kids were liking the living family better than the creepy ghost lady, but why would she try to kill them when they were treating the kids well? I also didn’t understand the people that acted like they shouldn’t be a little bit cautious around the kids. Sure, the kids are really young, but even young kids can pick up a knife and stab someone to death in their sleep. And, since they were feral, they probably wouldn’t even realize that killing these people in their sleep was wrong. That’s just survival to them. I also didn’t understand how Annabel was so against the kids. I would’ve though those feral kids were rad! They’re like tiny, female Wolverine’s!

The visual style of the movie was very effective. That is all. Moving on.

As with many movies, I don’t pass a lot of judgment on the performances. They all did really good jobs. What I do take issue with more often is the characters themselves. Jessica Chastain did a good job, and I was happy to see her looking Goth because she’s much more attractive with visible eyebrows. But I was also disappointed that she wasn’t a more likeable character. She really didn’t want anything to do with these kids. That probably stemmed from her trying way too hard to be a badass rocker chick. This was cemented for me when we heard her answering machine message. It was like, “Hey, this is Annabel. I’m not here. Leave a message or whatever. Then fuck yourself. Party on, Wayne.” It’s the sign to me that neither Chastain nor the writers of this movie are rockers in the slightest. I also liked Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse as the feral girls. They did cute and creepy in equal degrees of quality.

I enjoyed Mama, but I’m also aware of the fact that it wasn’t that substantial. It was just super passionate about being mediocre. The story was nothing special and the characters were hit and miss, but the people playing those characters and the art director did a great job. I cannot really recommend this movie for purchase or viewing in the theaters, but I’d get behind recommending a rental. A dollar at RedBox is right up its alley. Mama gets “What’s under the bed?” out of “Leave a message after the beep. Fuck you. Beep.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE! YouTube OTHER JOKES HERE! Twitter BE A FAN HERE! Facebook If you like these reviews so much, spread the word. Keep me motivated! Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!