After spending many years on sub-par DVD releases and in basic limbo for a new release, “The Wizard” is given a much overdue Collector’s Edition that treats the cult classic the way it deserves. Is it a glorified Nintendo commercial? Sure! Is it a glorified ad for Universal Studios? Definitely! Is it fun? Oh god yes. “The Wizard” is a movie that might appeal to you more if you have nostalgia attached, granted, but on its own it’s a solid kids adventure film that’s also ahead of its time in the way it digs in to the video game tournaments and how much mental and physical prowess they demand.
After some um—rather interesting internet ballyhoo, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is finally brought to the big screen in what is a shockingly good adaptation. Although I’d argue that the “video game movie curse” ended in 2018 (ahem–“Tomb Raider”), “Sonic the Hedgehog” does open the door for more, higher quality video game movies down the road. While I’d be hard pressed to say that “Sonic” re-invents the wheel, it also dodges a lot of video game movie pitfalls by side stepping cloying pop culture references, and paying homage to the source material.
In the nineties, many American movie studios were trying to beat Disney at their game by basically—mimicking everything that made their movies a hit. They didn’t try to rewrite the rules until the early aughts; before then we had a bunch of movies that were basically D grade copies of Disney hits. Richard Rich is a once Disney animator who tries his best to riff on Disney, taking a classic fairy tale and adding about every trope from the Disney list you can imagine, right down to funny talking animals. What he forgets is entertainment and a sense of life.
With their partnership with GKids, Shout Factory has managed to obtain a remarkable chunk of Studio Ghibli’s library and have given choice titles some truly deluxe treatment. Among some of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces is the incredible “Spirited Away” a film that owes a lot to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that also evokes subtle social commentary on child trafficking. In either case, “Spirited Away” is still a remarkable and stellar piece of art, with some of Miyazaki’s most memorable creations including No Face, and the Soot Sprites.
If I have to pick a favorite aspect of “Over the Garden Wall” is the ambiguity of it all. There’s not a ton of exposition or explanation as to whom or what the characters Greg and Wirt are. We just know that they’re brothers, they have polar opposite personalities, and they’re stuck in a timeless land filled with dangers and mysterious oddities that they can’t possibly fathom. Along the way, Greg and Wirt learn a lot about the idea of grief, and confronting their fears, and learning to appreciate one another as brothers. They also have their own personality quirks that could count as flaws, but only make you love them even more. By the time the series ends, you’ll be glad you met them and realize you know everything that you need to know about them. I encourage you to fall in love with it like I did.
1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” is and is still widely considered the definitive fantasy masterpiece that has barely aged after so many decades. Even film fans that don’t care much for older films still have a hard time turning down “The Wizard of Oz” and ignoring its indefinable charm, and sense of adventure. Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard Of Oz” remains one of the most influential and engaging masterpieces, one filled with awe, surrealism, and a healthy sense of mystery, even eighty years after its initial release.
Few people actually recall that Maxwell Atoms’ iconic characters, Billy and Mandy, were first introduced as part of Cartoon Network’s “Grim & Evil” where they shared a series with the cast of Evil Con Carne. Though “Grim & Evil” only lasted 30 episodes, the pint-sized hell-raisers would soon live on in one of the most successful spin-offs of all time from Cartoon Network’s golden age: “Billy & Mandy” (as I’ll refer to it from here on out) is one of the last really great series from the CN’s “Cartoon Cartoon” era.
1994 was the year to really tune into Nickelodeon. It was a time where they’d hit their stride with programming blocks like SNICK and excellent series like Rugrats, and The Secret World of Alex Mack. It was also the year that “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” premiered (October 30, 1994). Another of the many Klasky Csupo produced animated shows, “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” focused on the world of monsters that hide in our closets, under our beds, and in our toilets. It is one of the few genuinely horror-oriented animated shows that Nickelodeon has aired.