Sunday, August 28, 2011

13 Assassins

13 Assassins join together to stop an insane lord from reaching a position of higher power and turning the world into a blood bath. It’s a suicide mission -- still former Shogun Shinzaemon takes on this task, for the people, and gathers a group to take down evil Lord Naritsugu.  The premise is similar to one of my all time favorite films, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. That film is a masterpiece…13 Assassins isn’t in the same category.

Seven Samurai is actually a simpler film, but it works better in achieving its emotional resonance. Knowing all the main characters will die is not as important as the impact of their deaths as a whole. I felt far more connected to Akira Kurosawa’s protagonist and supporting cast than I did here. It’s not a failure, but had I watch this film first (as most are sure to do; Seven Samurai is a film from the 1950s) I would have enjoyed it far more.

Those looking for more substance, look elsewhere. The villain, Lord Naritsugu, is the embodiment of pure evil just because that’s his personality. There’s no rhyme or reason to his madness, the world is just a toy to him. He represents evil, and the samurai are good, plain and simple.

And a good vs. evil story can still work, although a moral gray area would have been nice, for example, if the Samurai weren’t exactly killing for a noble cause. If Lord Naritsugu was just raising taxes and people just disagreed with him based on his political views I think his death would actually mean more. If he were more of a sympathetic antagonist maybe his final scene would’ve been more poignant. Leaving the audience wondering if the samurai went too far…that’s not the case in the actual film, Lord Naritsugu deserves to die, and you feel nothing for him when it ultimately happens.

13 Assassins just needed one ingredient to make the film truly shine, and that one thing is care. Five or six members of the cast stand out, the rest were largely nameless, and when their death scenes happened I shrugged. I couldn’t tell most of the supporting cast from one another, and in a film where you know the good guys are going to die having that attachment to them makes their demise impactful.

If each samurai was recruited separately, under different circumstances, and each had a different reason for joining outside of loyalty the viewer may care when they got sliced in half. Even something simple as giving each samurai a different weapon would’ve differentiated them – it sounds weird but it worked for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: if they were all the same color, and had the same weapons, honestly would you care which one was Michelangelo or Donatello?

I just don't know who most of these guys are. Why should I care?

This isn’t a film with amazingly choreographed fight scenes or gore – to be sure I can’t point out anything that truly makes this film leap away from the shadow of Seven Samurai. It is based on a true story; take that for what you will. Verdict: if you haven’t seen Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, then find it, watch it. It’s a better written movie and gives you the same “good overcomes evil” sendoff, but with a lasting influence. Something 13 Assassins doesn’t have. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Classic Comic: Spider-Man - Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut

The Amazing Spider-Man issues 229 and 230

Writer: Roger Stern
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Jim Mooney

I’ve liked the idea of Spider-Man for many years, but I’ve never been troubled to check out any of the wall crawler’s adventures. I’m a DC comic nerd through-and-through; I just find Batman more interesting than say, Daredevil, or any Marvel equivalent. Marvel has never really tried to upstage DC, there’s been room for both comic giants for years – if merely comes down to fan taste.

In a search for more personal reads (Superman has the emotional spectrum of a toilet paper roll) I thought I should check out some of Spidey’s best trades. Where to start was the question. Theoretically anywhere. All I know is Spider-Man is a fan favorite because he’s more like the common man; just a regular personable guy that can easily be related to. And I didn’t think I needed to read about his back-story to enjoy an issue – I love Green Lantern but it’s much harder to dive into DC’s universe, there’s just too much exposition that’s necessary to understand the narrative, and it would quickly turn someone off. Spider-Man is a household name, and everybody knows his origin.

A simple search resulted in a few stories that peaked my curiosity. The unstoppable Juggernaut vs. Spider-Man had me right away. The big brutish mountain of a man the Juggernaut against little ol’ Spidey sounded like a David versus Goliath clash.

"Silly bitch, your weapons cannot harm me!"

The Juggernaut’s so unbelievably powerful it’s hard to see how the web head would make it through a fight. He walks through walls like they’re reinforced with peanut brittle not concrete. Juggernaut took on both the Hulk and X-Men – he’s immortal, invincible; stronger than Spidey a hundred times over, and once he starts moving he can’t be blocked. In space a body in motion stays in motion until something physically breaks its path: that’s the Juggernaut…except he is on Earth, and can’t be stopped!

Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut is two issues, and by the end I was rooting for Spider-Man like a soccer fanatic. He won me over not with his charm or wit – there is a lot of that, and Spider-Man is never short on inner-monologue – but with resilience and wiliness to put his body through hell to stop this human wrecking ball.

One page, just one page said all it needed to about Peter Parker to make me care about him. Towards to end of issue #229 Spidey blames himself for not stopping Juggernaut from possibly killing his ally Madame Web. He remises about all his failures as Spider-Man – he’s just a kid in a suit, but he has the weight of an entire city on his shoulders.

Endearment and forming a personal attachment to something or someone is the quickest way to get people to grow to love something. And in this case it only took one small story to make me see Spider-Man as a true hero. His perseverance towards a foe that’s a tank with legs is outstanding. He never gives up; physically he is stopped at every turn, but his “never say die” attitude carries him through to the end.

"Pimp smack yo ass, bitch!"

Originally published in 1982, this nearly thirty year-old story is a must read for any Spider-Man fan…and I considered myself one before reading, but I never really understood what made me thing he as so amazing – outside of the title. Now I know, and you will too if you read this. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The road is paved with polygons: Roll Out!

Of all the things from my childhood to create in 3D, Transformers would be number uno (that’s Spanish right?), they were the thing for me as a kid; I had every toy, I watched the show religiously, and at recess I was the first to say, “Autobots, roll out!” I couldn’t get enough of that.

So I had the thought of doing a Transformer rolling around in my head for a while, and instead of going for something obscure (Hot Rod was my favorite Autobot as a lad) I went with the classic, Optimus Prime.

I really do mean classic, I wanted the no frills bare bones boxy looking Optimus from the original 80s run. Call me a purest, but that’s my time, and it’s what I was going to design; away with you Michael Bay, I wanted people to easily identify it as Optimus once I was done, not have a mess of shiny spikes and metal everywhere.

It’s a simplistic creation; the core idea was to not go overboard with ancillary detail, keep it true and basic and it looks more like the original. Finding ideal reference material was harder to find than you’d expect…really I had to look around to find how each piece of Optimus’s body parts fit together. Sounds a little strange, but it’s actually difficult to tell which part of his anatomy goes where, I had to guess about some for the finer details on his face for instance. These things don’t build themselves…how are Transformers born by the way?

We are talking about turning something that’s mostly represented in two dimensions into three, which is easier said than done – you literally have to look at it from a different angle, and many artists have to visualize something before they create it. Although when you are trying to make something based off pre-existing properties you want it to look like the source as much as possible. Or you could not do that, its never going to be perfect…unlike god’s best creation, nachos.

The big man is pretty blocky, no smooth edges on this guy (there’s a penis joke somewhere there.) He’s mainly composed of rectangles and sharp angels. You’ll notice I left the wheels off his legs; while in the original series when he transformed, from vehicle to robot form, his wheels disappeared (as did his trailer for some strange reason; maybe he just keeps spare ones around the battlefield?) and I decided to go with this depiction. In some anime renditions his wheels are visible -- not here.

One little thing I did leave out was his entire backside. Yes, he’s completely one sided, not even a big square robot ass, nothing. The other side is flatter than soda from your great Grandma’s fridge.  This is mostly due to the lack of reference material (I suppose I could have gone back to watch the show, or just made something up), but I knew I was going to render him from just one view anyways. This wasn’t a project I was going to display from every angle, and he wasn’t going to animate him (who knows how long it would have taken me to create a vehicle transformation state?) I instead opted for this simple pose.

That texture sure isn’t special either, I hope it at least looks good, but since I spent all of 30 minuets on it I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought it was trash. I added some scuffs and scratches to the Autobot leader, and I went for more of a dull metal finish as opposed to a reflective look.

Not the most complex model and certainly not my best work, but he looks like the big fella from the 80s cartoon show and that’s what I was going for. Roll out! Unless you don’t have any gas…then I guess we could just stay home, that’s cool too. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Star Superman film

I’ve already gushed about my enjoyment of the All Star Superman trade; not long ago an animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s series was made. Having All Star Superman fresh in memory it seemed like a no brainer to take a look at the movie conversion. And I’d say any fan would be pleased with what Warner Bros. delivered to us.

Firstly, I see the All Star Superman movie as more of a abridged version of the comic and less as a film on it’s own; It would be foolish to try and cram a twelve issue trade down to an hour and half…I’d watch it, but that’s still a bit too long for most tastes.

All Star Superman, comic and film, are two halves of a whole – scratch that, All Star Superman as a narrative is complete, but the film should serve as a nice treat for those who’d read the book already.

By film's end Lex Luthor is painted in a slightly different light than the comic.

The story stays very faithful, and some scenes are shot-for-shot rips from the pages of Grant Morrison’s work. That’s certainly a good thing. The animation and art is all top notch. The voice acting is good across the board, although James Denton as Superman comes off a little too flat and monotone occasionally; but it makes sense that Superman would always have a calm tone of voice even in the direst situations.

What I’ve said about All Star Superman the compiled comic can all be used to describe the film version. Some finer points are lost in the transition, such as Superman’s fight with Bizarro; the touching flashback to his Smallville days and the semi related side story about Jimmy Olsen. Luckily most of which aren’t entirely integral to the plot.

Since I am partial to the source material it’s hard see this movie through the eyes of someone who didn’t read the graphic novel. Maybe the story is too weird in some areas. Yet I think most of the core message is visible. I did find the comic had more of a view of mankind as a whole, while the movie focused more on Superman’s last achievements – as I said before I find that both film and comic go together like milk and chocolate, and they should be consumed together…preferably through your eyes!

Warner Bros. has had some really great animated films as of late – Batman: Under the Red Hood comes immediately to mind – and the All Star Superman film fits neatly with the others. I recommend the comic first, but the film shouldn’t be ignored it’s a wonderful addition to Grant Morrison’s tale. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crysis 2 Retrospective

Having a PC to run the most graphically intensive game on the market seems like such a fruitless effort. The amount of money required just to have a very pretty game, isn’t enticing to most people and me. I’m far more concerned with gameplay, and I find Crysis 2 sorely lacking in that department.

It’s not like it doesn’t have solid mechanics. It’s a very well put together FPS but how far does that get you nowadays?

As the silent protagonist Alcatraz you’re fitted with the Nanosuit initially to keep from dying. The suit practically makes you a god in human terms, but it’s more than a weapon it’s the key to mankind’s salvation.

Crysis 2 has a grand scale; set in New York, an alien virus has taken hold of the citizens and you have to stop…well the story really doesn’t tell you why you’re doing what your doing at first. I don’t know about anyone else but I just went with the flow. From beginning to end the journey isn’t very compelling, doesn’t make you think, and frequently has you saying, “hey?” and “what?”

I just didn’t know what was going to happen from one thing to the next, but not in a good way: more like a “What the hell is going on?” thing. I do know that every level just centers on you having to go somewhere to meet someone. If you’re not trying to get to someone, you’re being swept away from the events forcefully, only to have to start your trek again.

You know how annoying its become in a Call of Duty game when your character dies (it was novel in COD 4, but know its rather shallow) well imagine that, but only it happens at the end of every level! Now you don’t die, but the game is surely trying to get you to feel something…I’m just not sure I cared. Since your super-suit is tied to your vitals anytime it shuts down, you do as well, and by the end of the game you’ll be shut down quicker than someone trying to pick up a chick with a testicle hanging out.

Summer is the dry spell for gamers. And I thought Crysis 2 could be something to keep my interest. But you can’t just be a shooter these days. Sure Crysis 2 is a pretty game, it’s only a shooter though -- a good one, but not at all great.

It took me a month to slog through Crysis 2 -- I was that disinterested. 

A few things led to my complete boredom while playing; one, I never felt like a super solider. You have this Nanosuit, which enhances all physical attributes and senses and I never felt particularly powerful. Are you supposed to run and hide as much as I do? Is that how the developers intended for the game to be played?

Sometimes I would just go stealthy to run by enemies to the next checkpoint. It’s too difficult to run and gun in Crysis 2; you can’t go toe-to-toe with someone, in most cases you get ripped to shreds. It also doesn’t help matters that I never knew when I was about to die, sometimes there’s so much crap on screen you have no idea what’s happening.

And I might be in the minority here but I don’t think Crysis 2 is the best looking game ever. I just don’t. Killzone 2 or 3, Uncharted 2, or even Modern Warfare 2 all look just as good as Crysis 2. The lighting effects are cool, some of the environments are neat, but the character models are dull and lifeless and the textures on the NPC’s aren’t on the same level as the surroundings. Even if it was by a far margin the best looking game of all time, that still doesn’t make the gameplay any better.

If Crysis, as a series, wasn’t a graphical showcase, and had subpar visuals, would anybody care about it at all? I struggle to think so. It’s deceptively average in all the areas that count for a game to be noteworthy. It’s nice to look at, but not nice enough to make me give a rat’s ass about what’s going on.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Madden 12: Last Look

Madden 12 is only a few days before release, but I wanted to write a few things upon playing the recent demo on Xbox Live. I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Madden; generally speaking I do enjoy it – and I was addicted to it my senior year of High School. The little quirks are what have always put me off – A.I. that would know receiver routes before I ran a play, or my player missing an easy tackle. Then there’s a sense I’m never quite in control of the players’ actions, which frustrated me to know end.

The demo available does give you a full-length game to dive into (albeit with accelerated clock run-off when you pick a play quickly), so it’s nice to get a long hands-on playthrough. There’s not much in the way of actual features to be seen. What’s new isn’t going to blow people away as the core game is relatively unchanged. Game Flow, the A.I. chosen play-call system is back and it does seem more refined.

Madden 11 had an all too often habit of calling deep routes in the end zone when using the first iteration of Game Flow. Now you can choose between a group of plays that your Offensive Coordinator sends in; I still like to choose my own plays, but for those who just want to speed through opponents Game Flow seems like more of a viable option then last years outing. Simple put, the plays given are more sensible to your current field position, as they should be.

The subtleties have been heavily emphasized. Tackling animations are more varied, and players fall to the ground more realistically: there’s more momentum to the hits you land, but as anybody who has watched football knows not every hit is a bone crusher and that’s reflected in Madden 12. Sometimes players just fall to the ground from shoves and pushes, it sounds kind of dumb, but it’s realistic and the more akin an actual game.

Computer A.I is far more reactive than I’ve ever seen – receives adjust routes and tiptoe along the sidelines for spectacular catches, but the real improvement is in the defensive intelligence.

Tackling is now a science as player momentum is carried through to the ground.

There was a time when even a pair of good Linebackers like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs could be easily picked apart; the A.I. in previous Madden’s could be exploited heavily. Now blatantly throwing over the middle isn’t going to pay off as much; Linebackers, Cornerbacks, and Safeties all seem to anticipate where a QB is going to throw the ball – not in a cheap way like previous editions where the A.I. would just accelerate extremely fast and cut off a receiver’s route. Defenders seem much more disciplined in there assignments, and it’s going to take some work to shake some of the more intelligent players in the league.

NFL players are still human and thus they have their ups-and-downs, even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have bad games. Player performance will dynamically change throughout a game. If Donald Driver drops a few easy passes that’s going to have a psychological effect that lasts throughout the game and his catch rating will suffer because of it. With the Packers’ D I turned Jay Cutler into a first-time prison inmate, he loved the sack! Because of his porous Offensive Line he adopted a  “Tuck and Run” mentality: running more than throwing. And when he would throw he just slung the ball around repeatedly tossing it up for grabs so he was labeled “Trigger Happy.” I’m sure there’s good change to player ratings throughout a game along with the bad, but it’s nice to see real life performance issues reflected.

I’m more optimistic about Madden 12 having a chance to sit with it. Still I’m a big Franchise Mode player and I also want to try the newly revamped Superstar Mode, if both of these features received significant attention I’ll be far happier with this year’s Madden than I was with the last. I’m glad we’re getting back to football not just with Madden but also with the 2011 NFL season in full swing. I can’t wait. Football is back!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All Star Superman

Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Frank Quitely
Inking & Coloring: Jamie Grant

The first, and greatest superhero of them all is Superman. But even the last son of Krypton has become a stale archetype to readers. If Superman is invincible and semi-immortal there’s literally no suspense to be had. Having a “Super Man” is a novel concept, but in today’s age we need excitement. And when you have a man that can’t be killed it’s tough to capture attention, and for readers  – outside of the die-hard fanbase – to stay interested.

So how to make a Superman story engaging? Simple. You kill Superman!

All Star Superman has our godlike alien friend contemplating his recent mortality at the hands of Lex Luthor. Luthor’s final last plan was to kill Superman (isn’t that always his goal?), and he succeeds. It’s not much of spoiler to say, as it’s in the first few panels that you learn this truth. And frankly Superman takes it all in stride initially. As Luthor’s plan to kill Sup’ gave him even more power and abilities like super intelligence.

Then the question becomes, now that Superman is stronger than ever, but mortally damned, what can he do to maintain humanities’ prosperity without his efforts? All Star Superman shows the Man of Steel as a loving companion, a scientist, philosopher, and a time-traveler; even a god in some respects. We see Superman like we’ve never seen him before: a person that realizes he has precious time left and donates his last time on Earth trying to enrich future generations.

Think about that for a second. Sure Superman has been a reflection of pure good and justice, but never has he been an intelligent dreamer that strives to cure cancer; I find All Star Superman’s message to be one of selflessness and caring about your fellow man, and that sometimes prosperity can only come from sacrifice.

Each of the 12 issues of All Star Superman has something profound to say. Sometimes it does get wrapped in comic logic and jargon (we are talking about a man that can probably lift the sun), so a suspension of disbelief is needed even in this story. By the end –even if the journey has some bumps – you appreciate what Grant Morrison was trying to bring to light about Superman. He’s not just some brawny strong-guy, he can be a symbol for humankind less from his ability to lift a car above his head and more so through contributions to science and the planet as a whole.

While the ending has some predictable moments it’s the final panel that pulls the story together in a cohesive synapses. Things that were shown earlier make sense all with a single picture; even though there’re words spoken I believe that this final image could have been left blank and it would still make the viewer say, “ah ha” in understanding. What it does is force a second read to grasp some of the finer details laid beforehand and piece together the big picture. And I don’t know about you but I personally like to re-read a story to see what else I can discover – it’s by no means necessary in regards to All Star Superman, but it’s there for those that want to go back and find out more.

Is this the ultimate Superman story? Maybe not, but I ask does it need to be? You could have replaced Superman with another fictional hero (maybe created exclusively for this story) and I still think it would’ve been a good read. Yet because it is a story of the most renowned and well known superhero I think it’s far more profound. And thus I’d recommend this to anyone, even if they weren’t interested in Kal-El’s future and present; as a comic fan you should check this out. Personally, this was the first Superman trade I’ve ever finished -- yet all from this point will be compared to All Star Superman

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Great game. Where’s its sequel?

There are so many forgettable games out there, that surprisingly, are remembered by a lot of people, it’s weird – the other day I was thinking about Haze, the much delayed first person shooter. And I spoke to someone recently that said Too Human was one of their favorite games! It felt like I took a trip to Bizarro world, you’re ass backwards if you think Too Human was even remotely a good game.

Games like Haze and Too Human won’t get sequels, and frankly we’re all the better for it. Still there’s a crop of titles that surely should be given another shot. Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts is one that comes to mind. For those unfamiliar with the game (It sold poorly, as if it was packaged with herpes or something), Psychonauts is a twisted little platformer, with a quirky sense of humor and somewhat off putting art-style.

As Raz (short for Razputin) you’re trying to become a Psychonaut or a Psychic agent: a special group with strong mental powers. It’s all very kooky; instead of a world map where you pick which area to visit next, you instead go around throwing a tiny door onto people’s foreheads, which allows you to enter their minds. Once inside you’re faced with all the crazy things that person dreams about in physical form.

While it doesn’t stray far from the platforming motif -- running, jumping, and collecting, that type of thing – it still leaves an impression because of it’s unique design and humorous story. None of Tim Schafer’s games sell though, so I’d be shocked to see a sequel, which, for lack of better term, sucks.

Psychonauts was an odd game in more ways than one.

Let’s go with another, Okami that beautiful adventure game from now closed studio Clover. Okami and the license are now in the hands of Capcom. I can’t say there’s not something of a sequel with the DS game Okamiden, but a true HD sequel on this generation of consoles or the next would be a sight. That classic Japanese art and the vibrant watercolor milieu would be so amazing in HD. I only hope it will happen. It's not like Capcom churns out sequels very often…

Here’s one that’s all my own. Diddy Kong Racing. Anybody remember that game? Oh, it was a joy. Stop, don’t say it, “It’s just a Mario Kart clone.” Of course it’s going to be similar to Mario Kart, how can a game were you drive miniature cars with cute animals and sling power-ups at one another not be considered a Mario Kart-like game? Diddy Kong Racing hooked me with the Adventure Mode, where you actually had to complete challenges and defeat bosses in order to progress.

DKR, as I like to abbreviate it, wasn’t just about cart racing. You had hovercrafts and planes to mess around with. It added a nice dimension and extended the game since each race felt very different depending on which vehicle you chose to tackle a course with. Will we see another [shrugs] I don’t know? But at this stage of the game Nintendo is scraping the barrel for nostalgia to package up and sell anew to people, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

A vey recent game I’m flabbergast (don’t get to use that one much) not to see get a sequel is Shadow Complex. This side scrolling Metroid/ Castlevania style shooter is one of the best titles available on Xbox Live. It would be in my top 5…if I had a top five. With a wide-open ending; it seemed like a no brainer that we’d see something announced. It certainly sold well, great even. Nope, nothing. I thought maybe at this years E3, but not a word. I don’t know if it’s Epic’s call or Chair the creator – another Shadow Complex would be something I’d be all for.

Let me kick more ass in my super-suit.

There’s still a few other games I’d like to see get proper follow-ups. Lost Odyssey, the Xbox 360 exclusive Japanese RPG, and the Prince of Persia from 2008 (I seem to be the only person that actually liked that game) are two I wouldn’t mind seeing resurface with another go.

Hope isn’t always lost. Maybe someday we’ll get to see more from the aforementioned titles…it’s just…damn there isn’t a thing to play this summer! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MST3K best of the best: part 3

It Lives By Night

Let’s watch a movie where a man turns into a bat, or bat-like creature…well you really don’t see him as a bat, ever – he looks more like walking beef jerky by films end. I guess when people were done blazing up in the 70s they would watch crappy horror films like this. Calling It Lives By Night a horror film isn’t accurate anyways, it probably would’ve worked better if it hadn’t been made at all. That wouldn’t do because we wouldn’t have gotten MST3K…MST3K’ed?

If you can watch the MST3K Rough Cut version it’s even better: it’s essentially the un-edited first pass of the film, many of the jokes used weren’t even featured in the final version. While this stinker isn’t on par with Werewolf, it does come close to absolute awfulness.

Favorite Quote:

[Doctor convulses]

Mike: “I’m having sex!”

Night of the Blood Beast

I had no idea NASA was owned by five people and ran out of a garage, Night of the Blood Beast should be used as an educational tool; children could learn a lot about the space program from this movie. For example you can’t work at NASA unless your name is Steve, everybody that works at NASA is named Steve, it’s law. And not only is there only one vehicle at NASA there’s a power station located conveniently next to the main building or only building I should say.

This black-and-white piss poor example of a film is heightened only be the constant japes of Mike, Crow and Servo. Whether it is pointing out how stupid everybody acts to the convoluted and pointless plot; Mike and the other make this a gem to view. I nearly wet myself the first time I watched it and Crow said, “get Steve on it!” or when the dead pilot is examined, Mike and the ‘bots just keep saying, “it’s like he’s dead or something.” You have to watch this one.

Favorite Quote:

[Monster jumps into the bushes to escape]

Mike: “huh, huh -- I regret nothing!”

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is supposed to give children nightmares, right? Well if that’s not his job, you sure have me fooled with this one. Santa Claus doesn’t employ elves much anymore; instead he enslaves children from all around the world. He may be a slaving semi-pedophile, but damn it he’s no racist!

The message in this film is so confounding. Wait a minute are Santa and Satan in a battle for the fate of the world? If that’s the case why wasn’t this movie way more awesome? Because that’s a killer premise. Instead the devil dances around in red tights and tries to turn unsuspecting kids against dear Old St. Nick. The MST3K crew didn’t need much to turn this into one of the best episodes, they could have just ran the movie without the riffing and it still would have been great.

Favorite Quote:

Crow: “Wow, Santa’s doing the forbidden dance.”

The Sword and the Dragon

The fantasy fanciful epics of the Russian people make for gripping cinema. Say what you want this film is uplifting. A cripple rises up and becomes a hero – seriously you’d have to have a heart of stone to not think that’s inspiring. And despite what Mike and the ‘bots proclaim, the movie isn’t Finnish it’s Russian, but who cares right?

The goofy re-dud does send this film into catastrophic mediocrity, but it sure is fun to watch. Mike, Crow, and Servo don’t seem to know what they are viewing, they’re just as spellbound as us; to be sure, what makes this one of my favorite MST3K installments is how entertaining the film is by itself. It’s no Lord of the Rings, but the world is so delightfully odd and obtuse that it becomes charming. While it doesn’t have the laughs per minute like a Prince of Space or Space Mutiny it’s still just as enjoyable to watch as those.

Favorite Quote:

…Uhm, I really don’t have one.

The Wild World of Batwoman

Oh, okay so a movie about Batwoman, that should be fun. You know female superheroes don’t get enough respect…wait what now? It’s not about the Batwoman, oh, well then what is it about? Hmm, a scantily clad women and her group of air head followers, who battle a man named Ratfink. Yes, yes that’s really what’s going on here.

Man, this movie is ridiculous I don’t even know where to start…actually I won’t start anywhere. I leave you with a scene from Wild World of Batwoman; it’s all that needs to be said about this film.

Final Justice

Does Joe Don Baker filter gravy directly into his veins? Actually that’s uncalled-for besides an all pork-fat diet takes time to work it’s magic, pace yourself Joe Don, pace yourself or you’ll soon be wearing a pacemaker, ZING! Oh, Joe Don Baker is fat.

No, seriously this is a good one. Any time Joe Don’s face is planted squarely on screen Mike, Servo and Crow have something to say. They aren’t all fat jokes…well, maybe they are but there’s still some fun to be had elsewhere in the movie. I’ve never watched a film that loops back to the same scene purposefully. Joe Don spends half the film in a jail cell, and when he gets out he’s sent right back.

While not much happens in Final Justice, a little MST3K-style riffing can go a long way, and this movie is instantly better with the Satellite of Love’s inhabitants cracking wise.

Favorite Quote/ Moment:

The entire end credit sequence is pure gold!