In 1989, Nintendo was beginning to take over the world, and had done so right out of the wake of the video game crash of the eighties. With arcades fading, Nintendo was one of the strongest competitors for home gaming consoles, and in 1989 they were juggernauts of pop culture. Back in that era, just about everything was TMNT, The Simpsons, and Nintendo, and the latter had taken the minds and hearts of gamers and tech geeks everywhere that loved a good challenging platformer or run and gunner. In 1989, Nintendo finally branched out in to the wider arena of pop culture by basically helping to fuel a kids’ movie that would become a cult classic.
Director James Yukich’s “Double Dragon” is a nineties anomaly that’s right up there with “Super Mario Bros: The Movie,” and “Street Fighter: The Movie.” It’s so deliriously awful and willingly misses the point of the source material it adapts, and yet it’s delightfully entertaining. As an artifact of the decade, it’s a fun tribute to everything 1990’s (Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf!), as a video game movie it’s a fascinating example of what not to do, and as an action movie it’s a serviceable amalgam of martial arts, comedy, science fiction, post apocalyptic fantasy, and chop socky schlock. If you can divorce yourself from the video game, “Double Dragon” works as a fascinating but entertaining botched cash in on a video game series that was so much better.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “Ready Player One” is a fantastic, mind blowing amalgam of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Tron,” and “The Matrix” all rolled in to one multicolored strobe of pop culture. You’d think with the rapid fire barrage of pop culture nods and winks to video games, anime, and television series that “Ready Player One” would lose sight of its narrative. In the end, though, Spielberg keeps a firm grip on the novel by Ernest Cline, never once losing sight of what made the original novel such a must read in 2011.
With movie critics getting more and more stigmatized by bitter movie studios and petty film directors, it’s a good thing to know in the end that they’re all just opinions. This year I watched so many movies, and as always, my opinion is never gospel or the final word on any film. In 2016 I managed to like a few movies that were critically destroyed and I don’t apologize for finding value in these flops. I probably won’t go out to buy them, but I won’t flip the channel if they’re ever on cable, either.
What were some movies you liked that everyone else didn’t? Let me know in the comments.
This dry as a bone “horror” entry is part “Dream Warriors”, part “The Ring”, with neither of the characters is developed beyond your basic concepts upon which they’re established. And there are also your usual under-developed back stories that Bell limps along with for no reason. Here’s the hero who has a fear of fire. Why? Well—who cares? Look! A ghost! How can we root for characters whom are basic morons? Perhaps it’s Bell’s allusion that gamers in general, are morons. Not that hard to believe, when you think about it. The characters that are supposed to die die.
Boy it’s been a bad year for fantasy cinema in America. Time and time again fantasy films have failed for the most part, and “Warcraft” is one of those casualties. I admittedly have no experience with “Warcraft,” but for those unaware, it’s based on a massive multiplayer role playing game that’s become so popular it’s almost a way of life for most people. It’s a game so terrifyingly addictive, that a cousin of mine even pulled me aside once warning me not to play lest I be sucked in. Now that their Orc world has died, the orc shaman Gul’dan has used dark magic to open up a portal to the human realm of Azeroth.
Once a peaceful land ruled by man, the Orc army known as The Horde, now plan to populate the world and rule over it as their new home led by the noble Orc warrior Durotan. Teamed with a female half Orc named Garona, the human army of Azeroth plan to go to war with them, led by fierce warrior Lothar, their King Llane, and two wizards. Events spiral out of control though when Durotan begins rethinking the invasion and their leader Gul’dan, while Garona is torn between her loyalties to the noble humans and her people. While I’m still convinced video games just won’t translate in to a good movie, “Warcraft” is still a very good time and a nice bit of escapism.
It’s a mess narrative wise, and is painfully convoluted, but often times I found myself very entertained and intrigued by the conflict of the Orc breed struggling to fight for a new world against a human race. There’s also the themes of religious corruption embedded within the giant walking statues and graphic war scenes, which probably also helped enhance the experience. I won’t argue “Warcraft” is a masterpiece, since it tries and often fails to reach “Game of Thrones” levels of drama and intrigue. In the attempts to be just as adult in its character dynamic and ideas about xenophobia, and warfare, it becomes tough to follow.
The first half hour has a lot of information to disperse to the general broader audience, and I literally had to sit at attention to hopefully absorb what exposition the writers were trying to relay to people that have never been in to the digital world of Azeroth. Much to my surprise I cared about the characters and conflicts. I wanted to see sword wielding hero Lothar stop the impending Orc invasion, all the while uncovering the rising evil tide of his kingdom’s powerful mage. Director Duncan Jones splits the time of the film between the Orcs and humans and turns Durotan in to a very complex hero with his own ideas about what can be gained by invading Azeroth.
All the while Jones stages some fun battle sequences, including a showdown between Lothar and a murderous general in the climax. While not everyone’s performances are top notch, Travis Fimmel is great as Lothar, while Toby Kebbell does a bang up job with his motion capture performance as Durotan. It’s up in the air at the moment if “Warcraft” will continue in to a second part of its epic tale; I’m not ashamed to admit I had a good time, and should we be granted a follow up, I just may return to see how the humans win back Azeroth.
Shut up, Tails! Granted, I have always liked the “Sonic” movie from 1999 that finds him battling Metal Sonic, but Tails has to be the most grating animated sidekick of all time. True, he’s still a useful superhero, but in the end I hated this character. “Sonic The Hedgehog: The Movie” from 1999, originally made in 1996, is the anime continuation of the original animated series from the mid nineties. I speak of the very good animated adventure, not the crappy Looney Tunes knock off that aired almost at the same time. This time around Sonic is relaxing in his world alongside Tails, and finds out that Robotnik aka Eggman is back.
He’s kidnapped the president and his daughter, insisting Sonic and Tails must go to Eggmanland to stop his evil clone. Dark Robotnik is a robotic beast with massive wings who thinks like Robotnik, and Sonic has to travel to the city to stop the generator before it explodes. But things get tough as Sonic and Tails realize the city has a ton of hazards, and they’re hopelessly outnumbered. Plus, they don’t know that Robotnik has Hyper Metal Sonic, a robotic version of Sonic, waiting for him ready to be activated. Thankfully though, Sonic and Tails aren’t completely alone, as they gain the help of their rogue friend Knuckles.
Knuckles, once an anti-hero, is now an adventurous hero who takes it upon himself to make sure Sonic and Tails pull off their mission safely. “Sonic” is a short and sweet animated adventure with some darn good animation, and an excellent cyberpunk aesthetic that anime buffs and followers of the cyberpunk sub-genre will appreciate. Though, admittedly, the movie is slim on narrative, the director makes up for it with some killer action, and picturing Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles doing what they do best, and looking darn cool performing their signature moves we’ve seen in the classic games. This is a movie that still holds up; it was a lot of fun back in 1999, and it’s a good time today.