Saturday, 16 August 2014

DryChris's Bignormous Bargain Bin Billiteration Blitz

Yee-haw! Welcome to another blog where instead of giving a bunch of different works a more in-depth look, I simply just throw them all into one pile and talk about them for a bit. This time we've gone back to the movie world, but instead of going for the top shelf, I've settled on the bottom of the barrel at the bargain bin. And I do mean that in a literal sense not in a "holy shit these films are awful" sense...though there are a few stinkers here and there. The great thing about this whole shindig is that I don't have to feel too bad because so little came out of my pocket to bring me the experience. That is unless I find something really bad. Which I don't think I did. I hope. I really do. Let's just dive in already.

Vampire In Brooklyn AKA Blacula In Da Hood...Wait That Was Blacula...So Blacula With Eddie Murphy

Well I'll give him this...he does look like a lady-killer.

Eddie Murphy. The guy's fallen  on some really shitty times. As his star starts to fall, Charlie's rises with all the TV attention he's getting. But we do know that Eddie had his good times, which most people seem to say were around the times of Beverly Hills Cop. Personally, my favorite work from Eddie was none other than The Nutty Professor remake he did. To me, that really highlighted his comedic abilities and it also allowed me to see Dave Chappelle being thrown into a piano. Which wasn't something I was wanting to see but after that movie, I wanted to see that happen more often. Coincidentally, this film was made a year it should be good...right? I mean he didn't suck in the 90s did he?

Well at least it isn't Pluto Nash...or Norbit...or The Nutty Professor II...or...hold on let me just get the list.
In this horror-comedy made by Wes Craven, Eddie plays as Maximillien, a vampire who is set on finding his significant other who is a NYPD detective played by the saucy Angela Bassett. With the help of a streetwise cat named Julius (Kadeem Hardison), he finds himself reaching closer to her honey. At the same time though, his bloodlust causes ruckus in the streets which complicates the relationsh-wait am I watching Blacula again? It is pretty accurate to say that there a lot of similarities between this and the original black vampire's debut but to the defense of this film it doesn't take the exploitation path as much. There is certainly some ludicrous moments, but they're mostly played for laughs. For example, at one point Maximillien disguises himself as a preacher, which allows for Eddie to do some of his hilarious overacting. John Witherspoon also comes by to remind me that I loved him in The Boondocks. Along with that, the film is able to take itself seriously and provide some great editing. It does take the concept of the "vampire love" in a different direction that I quite enjoyed. If it were a more serious piece it would have certainly been received a lot better. That is something that really surprised me, just how many people hated this film. I wouldn't go so far to say that they are completely wrong and that this is Eddie's magnum opus but you can't tell me with a straight face that this should be lumped with his other failures. Okay, maybe you can (you're entitled to your own opinion bla bla bla), but I think you give it way too little credit. It was aware of what it was and it took advantage of it. It spread out the humor with the drama and it looks superb to boot. Perhaps people just expected a gut buster like Beverly Hi-nope I still don't get this hate at all. 

Stonebrook AKA Seth Green Meets The Mob-ish And Becomes Keyser Soze vewy vewy quiet...I'm hunting nerds...uhuhuhuhuhuhuh

Seth Green is quite an interesting character in the entertainment world. He's done a great deal of film work, although let's be honest with ourselves...we only really know him as either the son of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers or as Joker in the Mass Effect series or as Chris Griffin in Family Guy or as "that dude who made Robot Chicken". On the one hand, it is a bit unfair when you see that the guy is a relatively decent actor, but on the other hand, he's sort of made it comfortable having the focus of his career be on television than it being on film. Regardless, when you spot him in a film it certainly is a sight. I still find it weird when I saw him with his silly glasses in It. And considering that he was wearing some silly glasses on the cover of this, you can see why the pocket change flew away suddenly. 

The plot is basically that a country boy by the name of Erik (played by a dispensable pretty boy actor, Brad Rowe. Seriously, his IMDb page ain't nothing to bat an eye at) finds himself accepted to Stonebrook, a prestigious university which happens to have a family member/friend type thing there too. He finds himself under some financial troubles as he tries to stay in school but with the help of his roomate, Cornelius (Seth Green), the two find a way to scam themselves into some serious cash. They try to get some more cash in a game of pool but fail up until they meet Tali (played by half-Van Damme, half-that sensei asshole from Karate Kid, all better actor, Stanley Kamel) a crime boss type thing who offers them some jobs that get them some money. Along the way, Erik falls in love with the daughter of Tali (which he doesn't figure out later) and then gets into one hell of a sticky situation when he gets deeper into the problem.

Stonebrook is quite a film. Half of it was like a colorful college flick and the other half was a more serious actiony film. The pacing is pretty awful but the acting's serviceable. I really enjoyed seeing Stanley Kamel with his reserved acting style and Seth Green was very good as this conman-like character. You really don't feel much attachment to the characters though and there's very little energy that jolts you as the events unfurl. It's relatively low-key for a film that involves scamming, and not in a way that benefits the film. It tries to pull off some neat ideas with the editing and what it throws at you but it tends to fall flat with how its executed. Their best part was pretty much ripped from The Usual Suspects and it really didn't make sense. In fact a good chunk of things didn't make sense, especially when the tone shifted. It's a film that has some substance in it, but said substance is not enough weight to make the film work. I don't think it's awful, it's just a good idea halfheartedly done. I can't say it's much to talk about, and the lack of a Wikipedia page seems to agree with me. 

Unsavory Characters AKA Film Noir Cliches 101

I could get a more professional looking cover for a nickel

If my top blog is anything to go by, I'm a big fan of film noir. I love a lot of what it offer, what with such things as a sensual lounge singer, a grizzly fedora-wearing cynic, out-of-nowhere punches, lines like "the boss wants to see you", "the boss don't like to be kept waiting" and "long time no see", cigar chomping, lots o' liquor, scotch on the rocks, cigarettes, tobacco lit by matches, male character uses Zippo-esque lighter to light a female character's smoke,  complicated semi-sexual relationships, male character is seduced by a woman to engage in subterfuge, said subterfuge goes wrong for the male character, femme fatale, lots of deceit, gangsters, wise-asses and so much more. Unsavory Characters looked to fit that bill in all it's low-budget goodness, and by the premise, it was certainly going to deliver something to look forward to. 

The movie starts with some hard-boiled fellow getting caught up in some troubles over in Havana. You can tell he's in Latin America because everyone calls him a gringo. In any case it seems to be a pretty typical film noir as it hits all the notes I've said above but then it cuts in the middle as we see that a writer has been pitching what he has for the editor and finds himself stuck in a writer's block. Being that when you see a writer in a movie, they always have writer's block and always have to go on some adventure to continue making their story, the writer ends up going to the places he writes about to finally have something complete. Along the way he meets a girl who he gets friendly with and finds that she has a jealous ex (yet another staple of the film noir, everybody's gotta be jealous). What follows is a life-imitates-art ride of such proportions that it's hard to tell whether you should laugh or take it seriously. 

And I mean that in the best way possible because there is so much this movie does wrong but right at the same time. It has an obnoxious but excellent jazz soundtrack, somewhat stilted and cliche dialogue yet with a lot of dashes of intrigue and bizarre originality, decent acting that occasionally gets cheesy at the right times and clumsy at the wrong times, a nude scene which is relatively unnecessarily but tactful too, shirtless men because why not, a discount Joe Pesci for a brief moment and an insane hobo for no reason in a scene to boot. There are some parts like the ex gets knocked out but then managed to come back into the car because it's a crazy twist. Along with that he assaults the guy in broad daylight too. There's also a scene where the female lead throws money onto a bed and then grabs it with her mouth acting like a cat. While there is certainly an air of the low-budget quality, there are rare moments of sloppy dubbing (but when they happen they're a delight) and some really good cinematography for the budget. I wanted to see what happened but I don't know if it was because I was dying to know what happened or dying of laughter. It's mixed up but it somehow manages to be focused in the end. With a better crew it certainly would have been a stellar send-up to the old style of film noir, but what is given does the same. It just takes the good and the bad of those times with it. 

Good Chemistry AKA Buying With My Eyes

If this was any more intense, Liam Nesson would be shitting his pants

One of the reasons that a bargain bin DVD can be purchased aside from a cheap way to get entertainment is because they have a cover that catches attention, thus making the one who views it have to know what the hell the story is all about. And no more is it apparent with this selection. I mean it's a car on fire, a shot to hell sign and the title scrunched up with a really sleek, thin font. And Chemistry is in red. Plus, this was right around the time Breaking Bad started...actually, it was before Breaking Bad! Some intense shit has to be going down with this. Right from popping in the DVD I notice not only that it has the FBI warning, making this semi-official, but the clip it shows at the start is a dude firing a bunch of times, which is the opening of this film. There is also, as you'd expect, some shots of chemical diagrams because you can't just use the word chemistry without that.Now, I have no doubt there's going to be some crazy shit going on in this film, but the introduction really lends itself to make the film a lot more pretentious than it should be. Still, one can't be so hasty with judgement, especially with something so awesome as a DVD with such a rad cover. At least that's what I thought until it kept going.

The dialogue is shaky, it's very much trying to be an intense story but it's not coming through. One part can be blamed by how the writing is throwing tons of exposition at us, which isn't so bad except it's ill-timed. You get information about a character's doings too early to really do anything with it or care about it either. Another comes from the weak acting, with a blonde whose emotional shifts are as smooth as a crocodile on sandpaper and an aggressive asshat who's a complete bore with his over-the-top acting. By far the worst is the protagonist. I really hate the main character and his absolutely stilted narration. He is the synecdoche of this film, as his part represents the whole of the awful quality of the film that is bestowed before us. As for that "good chemistry"? It's pretty damn lame. If you thought Hollywood movies were rushed with relationships, you have not seen a damn thing. The soundtrack is also an incredible bore. The most surprising thing of it all is that this is happening in the first few fucking minutes of this film! I can't think positive about it, and I can't care for all that's going on. Sure it's needlessly dark and that could try to strike a cord with me, but it doesn't. I just can't find myself giving the slightest of fucks. Well, it's not surprising that I would have been duped. How duped I'd be was something completely different. At the very least I chose something with a moderately interesting concept. That being a high school chemistry teacher being forced to work for a drug ring. But fucking hell, this movie ruins it so badly. Nothing feels properly established, nothing makes sense, it's just darkness and disappointment. It's pretty much a worse version of The Counselor. And the ending is even more insulting. After all that nonsense, it tries to end on some hackneyed positive note. Gah, I can't take much more of this film.

Four Eyed Monsters AKA The International Sensation You've Never Heard Of

Is that artsy or what?!

To finish this off, I give you Four Eyed Monsters. The DVD comes with the soundtrack, the movie and 13 episodes, but I'm just gonna focus on the film. The funny thing about this film came from how it boasted as being this "award-winning project (which) has engaged millions around the world who have followed this real couples story". Considering that I have never heard of this production nor have I heard anyone else talk about it, I find it very odd to see that written on the back. Unless it's like Arrested Development or a foot fetish club where there actually is a base for it but if you're not a part of it you would never know just how big it really is. Still, the quick search on this film did give me some relatively decent results so it might not be so bad after all. And it's enough that I could steal the premise of the movie word for word from Wikipedia like so:

A shy videographer (Arin) and an uninspired artist working as a waitress (Susan) meet on the Internet and spark a relationship. Fed up with the usual dating game, the two decide to not communicate verbally, only through artistic means to see if they can make it work.

Man, I really have to commend myself for getting movies with somewhat interesting premises...anyways, you probably want to know if this so-called world-renowned picture is all that it's cracked up to be. The answer is a intrigued "Of course". The opening has this build-up to the vision that single people have when they're not with a soulmate. It goes frantic with both characters, with the male character mirroring his pessimism and sexual frustration and the female character having a more finer touch, showing her passion for being an artist and a repression of her craft from her tedious day job. The film has a very dream like editing style to it which to some may be considered obnoxiously indie, but I think it's done with a greater finesse. It's experimental with it's shots and tackling the premise, making it more like glimpses into the lives of each of the characters rather than a more cohesive narrative. A part of me desperately just wants to dismiss it as if it were hipster trash with its excessively strange editing, soundtrack, concept and dialogue, but I think it tackles the idea of love between the two of them in a heartfelt expression of twisted artistry...and by heartfelt I mean it not only in the actual sense but in the metaphorical sense that you can feel the heart exposed throughout this movie. It works more as a moving art gallery as it does a film. Even if it's pretentious (which I don't think it is), it's one that isolates itself, it doesn't try to annoy someone else with its concepts. It comes from a more sincere source. At the very least, I see it taking some bold risks...maybe some that have been taken before but it spins it in a refreshing work. It's an engaging look into a different kind of a relationship. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Top 20 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Episodes (10 - 1)

Oh brother, now we're getting into the juicy part of the list!

10.  The Granite Family

I'm starting this part of the list with an episode from the Something You Know Whatever season again? Huh...anyways, the episode centers around a Flintstones-like show with the eponymous title which Master Shake doesn't enjoy because of how his environment doesn't resemble that of the show. So like any sane person, he goes into the president's office and launches nukes to Russia, starting WWIII. Most of the episode is with the Aqua Teens being with Carl in his bunker, as Meatwad finds himself scared and Carl continues to bring his aesthetic of hair metal and love for drinking even in the midst of an attack. Master Shake constantly references the show, making remarks like how he brings a dead bird and uses it as a recorder and how it should say something funny about it's day job. What's more amusing than the stab at the classic Hanna-Barbara production is when you bring in the character of Time Warner who has a Porky-Pig esque voice and a fox who mostly goes woo-hoo. The whole dialogue that Time Warner has with the characters makes this episode for me, and the ending itself is incredibly fitting for the situation.

9. Bookie

Something I've noticed is that when this show pins someone as the pain pinata, it's always a blast to see the misery that ensues. I mean they're food, you can't feel sorry for food. And much less Master Shake, because as much as he's a loveable dick, he's still a dick. How does he get himself in harm's way? Well, it all starts with Meatwad showing off his magic skills. Carl finds himself impresed by the sword-swallowing and the fact that Meatwad swallows beans and craps out a cup of coffee (teacup and all), squirts out some foam and a tip jar as well as projecting a bunch of darts to a spinning wheel with balloons and Frylock tied on to it. But at the same time he wonders where the sword went, making Master Shake continue to insist that Meatwad's trick is lame/gay/completely fake/etc. Carl says he has a trick of his own that he can do, but Master Shake thinks he's bluffing and bets Carl that he couldn't do the trick. And the rest of the episode is Master Shake making really bad wagers at a gambling center (not a casino mind you) and getting his ass kicked by some thugs. Along the same road, Meatwad is scoring big with the bets he's making and finally gets to prove to Master Shake what he's made of.

8. Zucotti Manacotti

The last episode from Season 9 to be on this list, Zucotti Manacotti really has only one reason for being here. Is it the great puppets? No. Is it the amusing intro? No. Is it because it's the "who's the imposter" scenario done in the style of the Aqua Teen show? Nope. It's because Zucotti Manacotti is voiced by a guy who sounds like Black Dynamite. I actually did talk to the voice actor on Twitter once I made the mistake of saying that he sounded like Michael Jai White, and it turned out that he does cover for him on the animated show. You might just say that simply because a character sounds like some really cool character from another property that it doesn't just make it a reason to be on the list. And while I think there's a lot more to the episode that makes it great, such as how obsessed Meatwad gets with the show, how Master Shake fucks with Meatwad with the Zucotti Manacotti handpuppet he gets for Christmas, and the tests that Meatwad uses to determine who's the real Zucotti, just think about it. Here we have a puppet character voiced by a damn good imitation of a badass blaxploitation parody/homage character. How can you not the deep voice and the way he talks back throughout the whole thing. It just brings a smile to my face to see the bizarre combination work.

7. Dumber Dolls/Rubberman

Now the last two times I had another episode lumped onto a spot it was because they had the same character and it was too tough to just separate it. In this case, it's that they have similar characters and it was too tough to separate it. I think everyone knows the Dumber Dolls episode for Happy Time Harry who, ironically, is this depressed, despicable has-been whose comedy works more on the anti-humor slant. No? Oh...then do you remember the episode because of Jiggle Billy? His hilarious design and how all he wants to do is commence the jiggling? Of course! Actually to be fair, I'm sure that people are also aware of Happy Time Harry as Harry is pretty integral in not only depressing Meatwad but also making Jiggle Billy doubt his self-worth and make him commit suicide. Again, there's a dark edge inserted but with the absurdity of the situation, your nervous laughter soon becomes more calm. The episode should have really just been just those two dolls because they hold it up so well with how they act, but the other character still keep in amusing with their remarks on the situation.

With that in mind, what makes Rubberman fit to be on this spot if it's less recognizable than Dumber Dolls? Well, aside from how the two involve Meatwad making a friend who's a bad influence on them, it's just as entertaining. Meatwad starts a recycling program and then decides makes a duck out of used condoms, needles, a crack pipe and empty bottles of beer. He manages to bring the creature to life by putting on a special hat-lamp that belongs to Carl (even though Frylock greatly warned him from doing so). And just like Frosty the Snowman, the being (named Lance Potter) is alive and a merry tune plays as they have themselves a wonderful adventure of buying crack on the street, killing a homeless man for his money and sawing off limbs so that Lance can become more human. Again, much like Zucotti Manacotti, what makes this episode great is the voice of the supporting character whom you tag along with throughout the whole thing. The voice being Donn Kennedy and he does a fantastic job of making Lance both a chummy friend of all as well as a disgruntled sailor-type psychotic. Along with that there's the music that plays which has some of the silliest yet greatest lyrics out of an Aqua Teen song ever...excluding of course the movie. For me to choose one over the other is a crime, both are worth it.

6. Larry Miller Hair System

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "You're going to say that this episode is great because of the voice of Larry Miller, one of your favorite comedian cameos, aren't ya?" For a minute, I'd say you pegged me from the start with this choice, but guess what? There was something more that made the episode for me. Now don't get me wrong, seeing an episode where Larry Miller introduces himself to Carl by talking about all the cameos he's done and Carl then talks about Martin Lawrence films is neat. Seeing one where Larry Miller uses a hair system scam to add more fire to his severe gambling problem and then bolts out of a van to get another fix from the casino is a gut-buster for me. That alone makes this great, but it's taken to a new level when you have Carl viewing an alternate universe version of himself where he is a wholesome family man with an innocent-as-heck wife and manages to sleep in different beds and also has a full set of hair. The utter pleasantness of the situation frustrates Carl to the point where he convinces his alternate universe self to become more assertive, aggressive and wild. So in fact, this episode has Carl making another Carl more like Carl. Not only is it ingenious to have a character view his alternate self and force that self to become more like him but it's also hilarious to see the polar opposite of Carl reflected to himself and seeing how Carl reacts to his bizarro. Larry Miller is a joy, but the plot is an absolute riot.

5. Dusty Gazongas

For number 5, I was going to do the same thing as number 7 and just have two episodes with similar concepts. This was going to also have Jumpy George in it, since both of them involve Master Shake and Carl unsuccessfully wooing a woman of the opposite sex. While I love Jumpy George for having the Mooninites and a good amount of funny moments, it felt a little too much for me. I have no problem with a lot more crazy shit happening in the episode but it doesn't have the same vibe as other work. It's hard to explain it...but what isn't is that the love interest in Dusty Gazongas is more interesting. I don't just say that because Dusty is the only character in the show that I would remotely want to bang (Tera Patrick is a close second and the mermaid's an even closer third), but because she manages to combine the stupid and slutty elements of her character very well.

With Jumpy George, the woman was just like a single mom who was really boring and as much as Carl and Master Shake would want to bang anything with a good figure, it just makes little sense. Sure, complaining about something not making sense in this show is illogical but consider how Dusty Gazongas is a lot more in line with the environment and appeal of the two characters. She's a social worker with a trashy outfit which seems typical of the destitute-of-class urban setting. She keeps forgetting to fix the issue and re-enacts her stripper routine. And she's got a lot more going for her if you know what I mean. It's absolutely perfect for Carl and Master Shake to fight for her and the ways the two try to get her in bed are delightful. From cutting power cords, to making a path of rose petals and having a baseball bat wang to tricking her into thinking the light is broken when really all it is off and she's not smart enough to notice it, all the tricks are beyond embarrassing if applied to a real life setting but knee-slappers in the episode itself. And of course we can't forget the integral part the wrench had in the whole thing.

4. Super Bowl

Ah, the Super Bowl. The one time people get all hyped up for some backwards event involving a ball going to one end of a field from the middle. How in the world are Aqua Teen going to tackle this? Hmm...why don't we have Meatwad win these tickets by eating a Doritos like snack and have Master Shake kiss ass to him to get those tickets? Why don't we also have Carl do the same because we all know that he practically breathes the sport and have the comedy ensue from how hard he's trying to play nice with a character that he very much can not tolerate under normal circumstances? And just to top it off, let's have the inclusion of Boxy Brown, a box with a foxy attitude similar to that of Shaft...because why not? It's pretty much the way that the episode should go and it delivers, especially how Shake has both a lot of restraint and yet none at all when it comes to seeing the Super Bowl. It has one of the best payoffs to the whole dilemma as it puts Shake in one of the most teeth-grating positions of his whole life.

3. Handbanana

Probably one of the most quoted episodes aside from anything to do with the Mooninties, the Plutonians or Jiggle Billy, Handbanana takes the Carlin approach to the touchy subject matter of rape. A dog whose made out of Master Shake's hand becomes the new pet of the Aqua Teens. Handbanana is adored by the Aqua Teens but makes a threatening remark to Carl along the lines of "when the sky is darkened by the approach of dusk, you". Carl doesn't understand the remark but when he's visited by him at his house unannounced, he realizes the meaning. It's such a fucked up episode because you're laughing at rape, one of the worst things in the world. Much like the Carlin bit though, the humor doesn't come from the act but the idea of something absurd raping something equally as absurd. The way that Carl finds himself in the rape situations as well as how he tries to prevent it and warn the Aqua Teens about the issue along with the things that Handbanana says, while creepy, are made funny by the cliche "slimy pervert" voice that oozes out of him are what keep this episode going. Carl's final resort is probably one of the best scenes with the character in the whole show.

2. Hypno-Germ

Hypno-Germ is a spectacular episode, you can just tell that by the fact that it's a very low number. Something that I find interesting about this episode though is that it's brilliance comes not from the Aqua Teens but from a completely irrelevant part in the episode. The concept is that Master Shake gets infected with hypno-germs, germs that make him hallucinate and tell him to do downright insane things. He talks to the wall, a file cabinet, files and a basketball in the typical non-sequitors the show thrives on and then does a show for a bunch of file cabinets as he breaks through the floor. He ends up on the middle of the street, as traffic goes by him and he has garbage all over himself. It would have been a fun episode but you'd just think it's too stonery to make a fuss about it. But before you leave, you then see a zoom into his eye. And then what ensues is an amateur production of Rapunzel with nose hair, Mexican jumping beans, missed lines, the Hulk (not the one you're thinking off), a wizard, a zombie and the voice of Dan Halen going through the mess of a story that is laid before you. At that moment you know that what you've witnessed was not only the most surreal moment of the episode and the most surreal episode of the show but also the most surreal thing in the whole of [as]. You find yourself laughing but also taken aback to how the choices made were not only incredibly questionable but worked so well to make the collage of mindfuckery that was bestowed upon you. Clearly, nothing can top this.


1. Gee Whiz

I could just post a bunch of videos of laughter as well as type out a huge wall with nothing but HA repeated as nauseum, but I'm better than that...for now. As you can tell though, the main reason I choose this episode is because of how much I was chuckling throughout the whole thing. The story is that Meatwad gets pregnant around the highway and thinks that it was by the hand of Jesus since many people have sighted the son of god on the billboard. That's enough to make the story funny, but what's even better is how the episode is a big ol' fuck you to censorship by having George Lowe make a video about standard practices which involves shooting a nun and having her bleed a rainbow. This then makes any swears in the episode be replaces with a whole slew of sound effects (which isn't that strange for the show) and a giant red X when the sound plays. This gets highlighted when Meatwad overeats like mad and then fires off at his roommates for not getting any ice cream. It's not only what he says that puts me in stitches, it's the selection of sounds that fire off as he yells at them. I couldn't stop crying and when I did I had an indoor pool. And that's not even taking into consideration who's Meatwad's daddy, who was on the billboard and how the episode ends. It managed to summarize the idiosyncratic nature of the show but more than that, it was funny as fuck. That to me, is what makes this the greatest Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode.

So that's my choices. Please note that just because any other episode didn't appear on this list doesn't mean I didn't like the others. It was a tough choice and I really love a lot of the episodes. Which is to be expected for this show. Not necessarily because it's a great show (even though it is) but because there's very little you can do wrong with a show like this. Even TV Show Show, which I would say is the more weaker of the new seasons, has some brilliant moments. Sure, it's relatively cheap humor, but it's the good kind of cheap humor. See you later. 

Top 20 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Episodes (20-11)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is perhaps one of the weirdest things to come out on TV. Sure cartoons are known for their bizarre nature, but they are usually kept rooted by their narrative or demographic. Aqua Teen, on the other hand, loosely ties everything together to revel in a modernization of absurdity which I like to call neosurrealism. This particular brand of neosurrealism is a by-product of channel surfing, stoner comedy, and every single non-sequitor in Western animation to date mixed in with a urban and contemporary paint-job. It follows the story of a mostly noble box of fries (Frylock), a total jerk of a milkshake (Master Shake) and a child-like meatball (Meatwad) who get themselves and their seemingly only neighbor: a misogynistic, perverted, sports-obsessed boozehound (Carl), into all sorts of madness. The heroes are incompetent and the villains are more treated as annoyances or delinquents. The show is a continuity defiler, as inconsistencies run rampant, especially since it starts with a cold open involving Dr. Weird, a nucking futs scientists and his assistant, Steve. Recently they've gotten to the habit of changing the title of the show, as well as the opening, but whatever you see in the opening will not reflect at all what you are about to witness. And to top it all off, it's as cheap as a Hanna-Barbara production. But by god, it was the first stepping stone in creating the [as] that we know today and it's just a ton of fun. So I've decided to count down my favorite 20 episodes. Why 20? Because the show would stop at 100 but since they go for half the time, I have to count 20. SO LET'S GET THIS BALL ROLLING.

20. Chicken And Beans

Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 had already come by to show the shift in style that the show had gone with, which really only amount to a better use of animation allowing for some interesting set-pieces and gimmicks to emerge. Aqua Something You Know Whatever was no different, but it had quite a hilarious selection. This one is certainly no different. Meatwad becomes a musician and invites Carl to a gig in which he sings a song about chicken and beans being his favorite dish. Carl only comes for the beer that Frylock can pay for with the credit card, but Meatwad is at least happy he got someone invested. At the gig, Master Shake tries to make Meatwad choke when singing the song which prompts Meatwad to puke over Carl out of nervousness, making him feel like he blew his chance at being a big shot. Being the tactful friend that he is, Master Shake shows Meatwad a video he posted online of the botched gig, but then it's revealed that the views are astronomical. Meatwad becomes a complete sensation which prompts his ego to elevate itself and causes Master Shake to try and out-do him with a cover of Big City Nights called Bruschetta Nights.

One thing that makes the episode is the songs that are played throughout. Chicken And Beans is pretty much a mockery of white-guy-on-acoustic-guitar songs which only end up getting big for their sound rather than their content. Bruschetta Nights is equally as absurd but Master Shake tries so desperately to become a big hit with the constant exposure of it. The first gig is a great part as you have Carl shouting compliments simply because he's getting alcohol out of the deal, Meatwad talking about a dream and Master Shake jeering Meatwad and coming up with quips when Frylock tells him to stop. Meatwad's egotistical attitude is great as well because it still keeps his character's maturity in check but elevates the jerkiness that he rarely ever plays. It's even better when he gets confronted by Frylock as he eventually reverts back to his old self.

19. The Last One

As previously mentioned, the villains in the show are a complete joke or simply inconveniences in the lives of the Aqua Teens. The Last One makes full awareness of this fact as the Mooninites (probably the most famous characters in the show aside from the main four) try to round up a plethora of antagonists so that they can come up with a plan to destroy the Aqua Teens. Most of the characters were pests to the Aqua Teens or to Carl but a few of them were just people that the Aqua Teens ended up "helping". To say it centers on their plan to bore a single screw into the Aqua Teens' heads (literally, they only have one screw which they dub THE SCREW OF DAMNATION) is about as laughable as their organization. While the Moonitites call themselves the leader, they generally muck about doing pointless tasks and attacking people for arbitrary reasons. They name themselves after the days of the week spouted by a giant robot rabbit aptly named Rabbot, and end up adopting a highway before they proceed with their plan. The way that all the characters bounce off each other with their attitudes makes for a wonderful clusterfuck and the anti-climax becomes all the more reasonable and hilarious as a result. As for the Aqua Teens, you only see them at the end but when they come across the leau

18. Bible Fruit

The show is weird, that's indisputable, but what becomes weirder is when they venture into a darker kind of territory in a somewhat straight fashion. Granted the show is all about blood, explosions, and crassness but at times it tries to get to get you with some uncomfortable laughs. Luckily the scenarios become so over-the-top and nonsensical with the choices placed that you can set it aside. Still, with that said, this episode was probably one of the only times I felt weird in an uncomfortable way. The episode centers around Frylock meeting with a group of born-again Christian fruits who hang out at his place. The leader of the religious group, Bert Banana, is a repressed alcoholic, drug and sex addict and domestic abuser who has a fiancee named Tammy Tangerine and a friend named Mortimer Mango. Bert is the showstealer, switching from a chirpy, faith-heavy Good Samaritan to a vile, paranoid monster. The whole situation is played for laughs and it's made well by how quick the shifts in attitude are as well as how the cracks of the persona fall down to cause havoc in the house. But the things that Bert ends up shouting and the way he treats his fiancee could very well be in a well done second-rate domestic thriller. By far the best part is just how Frylock manages to slink his way out of the situation and tricks the fruits with Master Shake as a distraction.

17. Last Dance For Napkin Lad

One thing that I was hoping to see from the reincarnations of the Aqua Teen was episodes that would semi-reflect the title. I know, how absurd of me to expect that in a show that pretty much doesn't follow itself from the start. But Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 was nice enough to give me this as a sign that it was thinking about the idea. The title opening is one of the best with the Aqua Teens being these badass cops that stop the previous bad guys to a rocking theme and some wonderful renditions of the characters in a better art style. Hell, if I wanted to ask for more it would be episodes that had the animation of the opening with it. But that's beside the point. The episode in question deals with the Master Shake and Meatwad being criminals, Frylock being a double-agent and Carl being a spy who has been tracking the Aqua Teens down to try and arrest the other two. Master Shake goes under the name Flint, Meatwad's Ryan and Carl is the alias of Lars, who in reality, doesn't wear a moustache. The whole confrontation deals with the execution of a "Napkin Lad" who causes Frylock to become entangled in a mess with Ryan and Flint.

Okay so maybe it's not the same premise as the opening but the action-packed nature is still there. It plays off as if it were an intense thriller with better animation gimmicks and all these twists and turns but they still keep to their tone by making nothing add up in the end. You end up asking a lot of questions that you shouldn't ask and you just have to be taken in for the ride. A ride that involves noodle soup recipes and flying submarine cars.

16. Hands On A Hamburger/Dickiesode

It's hard for me to pick which one of these episodes was the better episode to include one of my favorite characters on the show, Dr. Wongburger. For those of you unaware, Dr. Wongburger is a reasonably-educated and incredibly eccentric freak who becomes obsessed with the very thing he takes form of and changes his body constantly much to the chagrin of his family. His debut episode, Dickiesode, involved him running a restaurant where if you pulled the bottom of the cup, you had a chance of either winning fabulous prizes or getting your dick ripped off for his dick ship. That episode does one of the funniest and most suspenseful introductions to a villain and is actually a substantial threat when it comes to Aqua Teen enemies. The rest of the episode deals with Carl becoming a woman and then the Aqua Teens trying to get the dick back, both of which lead to some wonderful moments, but it's Dr. Wongburger who steals the show. Voiced by Tommy Blancha, Dr. Wongburger spouts such great lines as "I have an advanced dickgree in dicknology" and "They crave dick, as we all do" with a deep and disturbing voice that makes them all the more amusing. His minions are also a riot as they abide the mad man's demands.

Hands On A Hamburger on the other hand, mostly revolves around a contest where the last person to have their hand on a giant hamburger gets to keep the thing. Master Shake does his best to get everyone around him out of the game, all with hilarious tactics. Probably my favorite ones are when he gets a little child out by having them count on their fingers, trying to give another guy a handjob, and lighting someone's hand on fire. When it comes down to him and Frylock, he goes full throttle with the tactics which seem to get him nowhere as the seasons turn. It almost becomes futile for the battle to go on as the burger decomposes, but Master Shake is still hesistant. You eventually get the reveal of Dr. Wongburger when Master Shake leaves but not without his hand stuck on the burger. This makes Dr. Wongburger less of a crazy villain and more of a crazy man in general. While he's not as prominent as his debut, the episode still makes his appearance a complete riot. (Also if you're wondering why I didn't put The Creature From Plaque Lagoon it's because I don't think it was as great as these two)

15. Rocket Horse And Jet-Chicken

This is probably one of the only episodes, if not the only episode where there is a different animation style completely throughout the episode. And in keeping with the wonderful craftsmanship of the show, it's done a la kids' drawings. The episode centers around Meatwad meeting Rocket Horse and Jet Chicken, a washed up crime-fighting duo that take signatures at a car dealership. Rocket Horse has no positive words to say about his co-star and Jet Chicken is disgruntled by an operation done by a doctor who already warned him that he was drunk during the ordeal and that he was still forced to do the deed. The whole episode has a bit of an injokey feel as it seems as these characters that Meatwad comes across already have something established in a sense, but it's so much on the surface that you eventually ignore. What you can't ignore is George Lowe playing as Jet Chicken since he really captures that degenerate, disgruntled attitude that comes with someone that really doesn't care much for their craft...whatever it is. The whole experience passes off as a sloppy slippery slope which Meatwad's innocence doesn't seem to register and Rocket Horse plays a great straight-man to the maltempered Jet Chicken.

14. The South Bronx Paradise Diet

Here we have a simple sitcom-like plotline: Carl and Meatwad are locked in a duel to see who can lose more weight, with Frylock betting to buy Carl a case of his favorite beer if Carl wins. A basic premise like this gets a very interesting turn when  it turns out that Carl is losing weight with a special candy bar that ends up being parasites that turn him into an anorexic insect-like being and Master Shake is doing everything in his power to sabotage Meatwad's chances by playing to his weak will power. Meatwad is wonderfully inept at following through with the workout and makes a really good remark about how all the good food ends up not being good enough for you which many can sympathize with. It also gives a glimpse to Carl's psychology regarding working out in the sense that there's really no point in doing so if you're going to die anyways (that eventually becomes this gem of a video.). Really though, it's a very simple premise with some different takes that one has to see in order to truly enjoy it.

13. Revenge Of The Trees

If there's one thing that this show does really well is being able to escalate the absurdity of a situation as the episode goes on. With Revenge Of The Trees, not only does that happen, but the second half truly becomes the icing on the cake. The Aqua Teens have a Labor Day BBQ, with Master Shake opting to flash-fry an entire cow filled with all sorts of fattening junk in a giant fryer. After Labor Day is over, the oil is left outside the Aqua Teens' house to rot and Frylock demands that Master Shake take it to the proper recycling facilities. With the help of Carl, they dump the oil in the woods which then prompts Carl to get in trouble and Master Shake to be summoned twice to Wood Court. Wood Court is another prime example of their brand of a comedy of errors as the system is completely broken and biased and tries so very hard to properly incriminate Master Shake but fails completely miserably. The trees constantly yell how Master Shake is guilty and should be sent to Tree Jail or killed, using Carl's skin as notes but not really having anything properly down when the time comes for it. And crazier yet, their laws are written in a book which is made of trees which is exactly what the whole court is against. It is incredibly accurate to say they are out of order, much in the same way that an elevator is. The only difference being is that there's a lot more laughing and you don't have to be afraid that you might have to end up shitting in a corner if the elevator doesn't descend/ascend with you in it.

12. Space Conflict From Beyond Pluto

I'll be the first to say that I'm not that much of a fan of the Plutonians as much as everyone else is. That's not to say that they aren't really funny when they can be because if such were the case then I wouldn't have put this episode on here. I guess I only say that in comparison with the other space-based characters that are recognized in the show. As it stands though, their introductory episode is great filled with such bits as grilling watermelons, "one man's waste is another man's soap" and Master Shake entering a horse's anus and liking it. The chemistry between Emory and Oglethorpe is a great one as you have Oglethorpe being head-strong and brash and Emory being relaxed and just going with the plan as if he had nothing better to do. Oglethorpe's lines are made much better by the random inclusion of a German accent and how he just wants things to go his way despite his way not being properly planned out.

11. Mayhem of The Mooninites/Revenge Of The Mooninites/Remooned

Much like Dr. Wongburger, it's really hard to pinpoint a single episode that the Mooninites do really well in. In fact, there's a lot more Mooninites for this list to come, but for the sake of the final spot on this half, I have to give it to the first three central episodes involving them. Each episode has the Mooninites inexplicably arrive and disrupt the routine of the Aqua Teens. Ignigknot and Err are a wonderful pair of Atari sprites that act like know-at-all overloads who in reality are nothing more than petty thugs with relatively weak weaponry they hardly use. Each of the three episodes has the two of them trying as best as they can to get the better out of the Aqua Teens and being thwarted by Frylock's powers. The first one, Mayhem, has them corrupting Meatwad into becoming more thuggish, which results in the Mooninites showing off the powerful yet ineffective Quad Laser. The second one, Revenge, involves them using a Foreigner Belt that they obtain by conning Meatwad, which results in some great banter between them and Carl and ultimately results in Carl defeating them as opposed to Frylock. The third one, Remooned, has the Mooninites trying to cash in a check which is in reality a radioactive bill from their uncle. Each episode has their great moments as they revolve around what the Mooninites seek to achieve and the way they react to the Aqua Teens. One of the most noteworthy parts of these episodes is that most of the banter that stems from Err is improvised. It makes a lot of sense when you consider his hyperactive attitude being bounced off by Ignigknot's solemn snark. And probably the best part is just when you see Ignigknot giving the finger to Earth as hard as he can.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Let's Talk About Crossovers

So, I watched the trailer for the long-awaited-yet-who-really-demanded-it Simpsons/Family Guy crossover. Naturally you can tell that because of that, it led me to talk about the whole crossovers thing, and you probably think that I'm going to say something about the thought of the two being together as a whole. Well, I could but it's only a trailer, it only displays a portion. Praising it makes no sense because I haven't seen it in its entirety and ranting about it serves less of a point not only because the episode is already done but they wouldn't care about what I had to say on the matter if it was about to be made. There is certainly a few things about it that I could certainly address in relation to the elements that are present in a crossover, but I'd rather not make it much of the focus of this piece. Because unlike animation/live-action films and gritty fairy tales movies, there is a lot more that can be taken in from the crossover. There's also a lot more notable examples, and it expands to much more than movies and television. It's really quite the beautiful subject to get into, and I'm glad that these two animated sitcoms have sparked my inspiration to jump in.

For those of you unaware of what a crossover is, it's when two or more entities, environments or universes, be it fictional, fabricated or real, collide with one another. Most of the time it's kept to an episode or a two part special or very few entries, nothing more beyond that. Now, what is the point of a crossover? Some might say it's to have fun. Others might say it's to keep things interesting. A few might even say it's to combine these two creations and use each of their aspects in an engaging and thought-provoking story dynamic that can say a lot with the comparisons and contrast that both face. While those are all fine reasons, the real one comes down to cold, hard cash. I'm not simply saying that to be the cynic that says that everything the entertainment industry is all about the money (even though it kind of is) but a crossover is something whose major intent comes from that reason and sometimes that reason only. A crossover is the equivalent of a concert as you able to witness all these popular artists together in a single place, figuratively blowing your mind apart. The simple idea of taking two properties and having them join forces is able to bring so much out of a person that there are a plethora of artworks out there that illustrate hypothetical fusions that may or may not come to fruition someday.

Whether a crossover is serious or not, there are certain points that each crossover hits. For one, there is always a conflict that brings one series into another series's world. It may be archenemies, a detour or simply that the plumbing's busted. Introductions are had between the two entities, one entity tries to get used to the other one, and they either have to find a way back to their own world or stop someone who entered into the new world or the problem needs to be fixed. Sometimes the series end up in each others worlds for some time and continue to deal with their conflicts. Much of the comedy expressed above occurs or the conflict starts to become a bigger concern with either the antagonists meddling or the mere fact that the two of them are together. Characters from one series will get chummy with characters from another series and then be enemies or vice versa. Eventually the conflict gets resolved and everyone parts their own ways, the end. And then you rake in the money.

One of the most notable examples of the crossover phenomenon is in our old friend, the comic book. In the world of the comic book there are crossovers as far as the eye can see. There are crossovers between series owned by the same creator, owned by the same company, owned by different companies, series that take place in the same city, in the same country, in the same planet, in the same universe and even in different universes. Some of them are relatively straightforward, others are a little more complex, some are serious, some are enjoyable, some are intentionally funny, some are unintentionally funny and some are just painful. Serious crossovers are usually the likes of Batman and Superman, as they take the stakes and raise them with the protagonists and antagonists of those two series combating with one another. More lighthearted or humorous crossovers either stem from properties that are known for their comedic or fun elements and try to have each of them bouncing off each other. And then there are ones that take two entities that don't really deserve to be alongside each other. There the ones that people joke about with their buddies, hoping that someone from the industry was listening. Some of these involve celebrities who encapsulate their own world which somehow ends up colliding with a superhero and others are Archie Meets The Punisher. Now I'm going to get to the former later on, but the latter is something important to consider because it deals with a thing I call Crossover Juxtaposition Humor.

Crossover Juxtaposition Humor is a very self-explanatory concept. It's humor that comes from the juxtaposition of the entities in the crossover. The dissonance between the two worlds, whether subtle or blatant is going to be addressed. And since it's going to be addressed, it's possible that the creators will want to get a few laughs at how characters react to each others' customs or quirks. That kind of humor is usually what works for the comedic crossover akin to how the intensifying of the conflicts is what makes the serious crossover so great. The thing about Crossover Juxtaposition Humor is that it also can come from what the entities represent and who they are marketed towards. When the shift becomes so jarring, the amount of humor that stems from it goes from just the way that the characters bounce off each other but rather the fact that the two are in the same place. Hence, Archie Meets The Punisher. Now that's not to say that a crossover can't be serious if an innocent, innocuous series meshes with a gritty, hardcore series, but when such a difference is made it becomes a lot harder to take it as seriously. And when a crossover like that takes advantage of such immense differences, it's when Crossover Juxtaposition Humor reaches its finest level.

That's where TV crossovers come along. The thing about TV is that there aren't that many serious crossovers to speak of. And if they are, they are either using comic book entities or  become greatly overshadowed by their more comedic counterparts. Another thing is that the ones that usually end up being more memorable come from animation shows. That's not to say that live-action crossovers can't happen nor do they not exist, but they tend to respect each others worlds and only make references or cameos when its convenient for them. When it comes to the sort of humor that a TV crossover displays, there really are only two categories. The aforementioned Crossover Juxtaposition Humor and meta humor. Crossover Juxtaposition Humor in TV crossovers is very strong, especially in animated shows as they can show better the contrast of visual styles that the two shows have with the addition of animation. Sometimes it's taken even further by converting the characters from one show into the art style of the other, like the Jimmy Timmy Power Hour. That can be funny, but it can also be weird, as it could prove the point that the series is more fitting in its original form than going out of its boundaries. There is also the more jarring kind of Crossover Juxtaposition Humor like in the Green Loontern where Duck Dodgers teamed up with the Green Lantern of all things. And as for the meta humor, you need to look no further than A Star Is Burns when the Simpsons get a visit from Jay Sherman.

Now when I said that a crossover is usually made simply for the purpose of making money, that doesn't necessarily make all the crossovers in the world terrible. A lot of what the mainstream entertainment industry makes is for some sort of financial gain. But whether that is the main purpose or not, its always best to hide that fact at all costs and instead do your damn best to entertain. A good crossover does that as well as take the opportunities that the crossover can offer and makes exceptional use of Crossover Juxtaposition Humor if it needs it. One of my favorite shows, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law can be considered a crossover as it takes various Hanna Barbara properties and revolves episodes around one of them meeting Harvey Birdman and delving into ways to make them relevant for the show. In Green Loontern, Duck Dodgers was not only able to use the power of the Green Lantern rings to hilarious effect, but the way that the characters responded to his antics allowed for a lot of funny moments to flourish because they're not used to that kind of tomfoolery. In A Star Is Burns, not only are there some funny moments that come from the similarities between Homer and Jay Sherman and how Homer feels that Sherman may be seen as the better version of himself around his own house but there is a lot of jokes poked at how begrudgingly the crossover had to come to fruition as well as making fun of crossovers in general. In more action-packed, dramatic crossovers, the greatness comes from the various conflicts. The characters not getting along, their enemies causing tons of ruckus and chaos, the gravitas of the event itself as it tears into the fabric of the world. There are a handful of comic books that relish in how destructive and intense the situation can get. Furthermore, a good crossover can use the ideas that each entity represents and play with them to express an interesting message that maybe couldn't be dealt with by simply having the two of them separate.

Having that all said, there is no denying that since crossovers are usually just made for money that there are some that just whore themselves out for your cash. You know the old saying that "if you made a movie with X and Y and all they did was drink coffee, I'd go see it?". Well, as funny as that may be, there are some who take that sentence and change drinking coffee to fighting. Yes, in the world of film, crossover is just another synonym for easy cash cow. Why try to do more with two established characters when you could just show them off in the same room and have them fight? It certainly does give the public what they want. And it may be a fun idea but the novelty ends up wearing off because they just use it as a way to show off these two characters together at last and nothing else. Had they cared more about the entities, that energy would show more in the product and the product could become something more than a subpar smackdown of the century of the week. Worse than that is when one entity ends up overpowering the other rather than letting the two work better in harmony. What's worse than that is when a crossover gets too meta. A Star Is Burns did well to keep the 4th wall breaking in check, but in another work, that wall could be broken with poor execution or it could be broken so much that what ends up happening is that you have a Panzer IV of mediocre meta-humor that steamrolls you out of any enjoyment for the product. When it's overly emphasizes it proves to the viewer just how much of a gimmick the crossover is much more than if you just had a pointless fight between them break out.

As you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you have two questions. One may be "why are crossovers usually between two entities and not more?" and another may be "what about video game crossovers?". Let's take the first one. I'm going to remind you once again about the superficial nature that crossovers are made because it is that reason that crossovers are limited to two. One of the things that makes the crossover marketable is that it's for a brief moment. It is a once-in-a-lifetime parade that must be seen by all. The thing is that like parades, crossovers can be costly. For them to be done, either well or sloppily, you need to put a lot of money and time into making it. Along with that, there may be some legal disputes here and there that will have to be addressed. It could take a very long time for the two to finally come together and be released out to the world. In that case, adding one or two or three more is starts to become a larger problem because you have to dedicate not only more time, money and maybe legal disputes but you also have to make it more episodes or movies or comics to develop it properly. It may not be all that bad to make more entries to better the effect of the crossover, but the wonder of the crossover is lost when more of them occur either because of the fear of audiences rolling their eyes at how trite the display is or fear that they'll have to put more effort into it. The restrictions is the reason that there aren't too many longer crossover series whether they be of two entities or more. Which is a shame because there are a lot more that can be explored in the crossover.

Video game crossovers, on the other hand, are along the lines of movie crossovers but more fun. Most of them really just involve characters from various different places being together in one place and either fighting, racing or being faces in a puzzle game like Tetris or Puyo Puyo. It's no doubt awesome to play a game in which you can beat up Sonic as Mario or vice versa, but they're just in the same room together and nothing else. It may be a stretch to call them crossovers as they're more like a collection of cameos. Other times the crossover has entities that aren't related to video games like when Marvel goes to fight Capcom or how Nicktoons Unite takes four different shows and throws them together in a boring action platformer. Sometimes it's the two of them together in a place for no reason like when Mario and Sonic were in the Olympics. What would make an interesting crossover is something along the likes of Professor Layton vs Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney as it combines the gameplay mechanics that the two of them have to offer as well as making the story and confrontations between the two characters fun. Those sort of crossovers are rare in video game, but it would be great to see more of those. Considering that Mario and Sonic have become more chummy around each other lately I wouldn't be surprised if there was one between them any time. At least I hope so because that would be awesome.

Despite what I've said about crossovers being mainly about the money, there is no denying that crossovers are a wonderful thing. They make the imagination soar to incredible heights and they can be some really fun experiences. Even bad crossovers have interesting ideas to them, even if it's only because of that what if being explored a bit. It's a shame that in order for crossovers to happen they have to occur for a sense of relevance or to rile people up to spend whatever money they have to witness it or waste their time for what could be a poor payoff. Certainly if there was more integrity that came to the practice of crossovers, they could explore some greater territory and expand themselves from being a one-shot fireworks display if they so wished to tackle the crossover further. And if the universes that come together increase, it would be even better to see what could come out of it. As they stand though, they're relatively good. Sure, there's some flops here and soulless cash grabs there but there are still some that can capture the beauty behind the process and capture a lot more of the brilliance behind the concept. If they go the extra step, good for them, but if not, I'm sure they could do just fine.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mario Party Island Tour Mini-Review

So things have been a bit weird considering my graduation and my resignation from TehPwnShop as well as how I've kind of sort of been trying to manage myself on the things that I have to and want to do before I head off to the big school in the other side of the cold tundra that is Canada. I have shit planned and hopefully if all goes well I can get to posting it here. And hey, since this is a blog I shouldn't worry too much about length! Unless I'm posting this somewhere else...but that's besides the point, LET'S TALK VIDEO GAMES

Ah, Mario Party. It is a game that many have participated for their own amusement. Mario Party has the unifying power of marriage, being able to bring people of various walks of earth together for one reason and one reason only. And much like marriage, half of Mario Party games end in constant yelling, people throwing things at each other and bitter exes. It's a very intense game to say the least. Now usually the good Mario Party games are ones played on home consoles as they bridge the experience a lot better than the handhelds. It's just a fact. That's not to say that the handheld games can't still be fun. I think Mario Party DS was capable of not using the touch screen in interesting ways but making the game enjoyable both as a singular experience and as a multiplayer experience. It certainly had the formula down pat down too, with exciting and memorable minigames, helpful items and blurring the line between luck and skill that Mario Party games are so known to do. All Mario Party Island Tour has to do is meet those expectations. The question of course is does it meet those expe-no. 

With any franchise comes an evolution and certainly Mario Party has gone through its own. There are some positive aspects like how you could buy the minigames instead of have to wait on chance and some single player experiences that can make the game fun for a little bit before your friends come and that's about it. The negative aspects then come with how the game goes about it's business. You know how there was one entry where all the characters were in the same car as they played the game? That kind of decision is what I'm referring to because it's not a change for the better. It doesn't add anything to the experience, it takes away from it. Mario Party Island Tour does the same by taking away something from the experience but what it takes away is the skill of the game.

Yes, against my better judgement, I'm complaining that a Mario Party game requires very little if not any skill at all. But you see, it's not against my better judgement at all because as I stated before, these games have a blurring of how much skill and how much luck is involved. And if you have bonus stars you are more rewarded for your skill...or maybe your luck, it's a bit of a throw of a hat. This game on the other hand involves you racing from point A to point B. With a regular 6-sided die. In a turn-based game. YOU RACE!. Oh sure there's items, but that's only if you land on the right space. And maybe an event can happen that can help or hinder your progress but that's if you land on the right space. There is a little bit of skill. If you win a minigame you get an extra die (if you're in second you get one that goes up to 4 and if you're in third you get another that goes up to 2), but if you roll two ones having the golden 6-sided die that you won for doing good in a minigame it don't mean jack. Oh sure by having the dice still give you a chance to not get a big number you make it fair for the ones who lost to get ahead but then what's the fucking point of HAVING THE MINIGAME IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE?! And to be even more funny there's one course where the idea is to have the smaller role because it's the Bowser board and you gotta play to backwards logic. OH SURE there is one board where you have to get ahead not by the roll of the die but rather the draw of the cards from the goddamn OPPPONENT OH MY GOD THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID.

Look, I'm all for changing the game up, but removing the star/coin method and changing it for this bullshit does not work for a game. This works wonderfully as some sort of casino video game, it really does. It fools the player into thinking they can win with skill but it's really just about luck. You know, like poker. But even poker, for as much as I like to make fun of people who think there is a decent amount of skill involved, at least that can be proved with the whole bluffing and raising that goes on. Mario Party Island Tour offers nothing with it's main game that makes you feel like what you're doing meant something. It's just a big ol' mess of chance. And what fun is playing a game that is more about chance than anything else. The answer to that is of course the minigames and I can tell you that they are the most uninspired and boring things imaginable. They were relatively fair and whatnot but they had nothing really substantial to offer. The only ones that did were the boss minigames, the puzzles and that pachinko one. And the pachinko one is really all about chance but at least that feels fun. You get like a thrill seeing the ball go and hoping it doesn't hit you. Unlike the game which just makes you feel like no matter how well you do in game you could get beat by the guy in fourth place because he rolled better than you. It's not like the guy in fourth place couldn't get in first place either but at least he needed a little bit of skill to trigger the events. At least there is more enjoyment from the sudden tumbling of the infrastructure and all the minigames you mucked about in than just seeing a die roll and end up not in your favor.

Here is a list of reasons of why you should play this game:
  • Because you liked some of the minigames
  • Because you liked the puzzle minigames
  • Because you thought Rosalina would be playable (she's not)
  • Because you wanted to spend your money in the worst way possible
  • Because you don't want to tell your parents that the game they got you is terrible
  • Because you have a gun pressed against your head by a sadist
  • Because you have a gun pressed against your head by someone from Nintendo
  • Because you are an idiot
  • Because you are a paid-by-Nintendo idiot
I give this game 3 faces of Peach after I shoved this game up her ass out of 10. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Pitching Schindler's List 2

A Hollywood executive is waiting for his meeting with two men on the sequel for Schindler's List 2

Hollywood Exec: What's taking them so long?

The intercom goes off

Hollywood Exec: (pushes button) Yes, Denise?

Denise: Your 3 o' clock is here

Hollywood Exec: They're an hour late. Send them in.

Two men appear. For the sake of convenience let's call one John and the other Sam. John runs in, dropping some papers which he promptly picks up. Sam, on the other hand, walks in nonchalantly wearing sunglasses indoors and drinking from a Starbucks cup

Hollywood Exec: You two are late!

John: (flustered) Sorry about that sir, I had a bit of trouble with traffic.

Sam: 'Sup dude. (sips from his cappuccino or whatever)

Hollywood Exec: Listen...I've heard that you two have done some great work in this business. John, you've gotten some wonderful recognition from all those fancy film festivals, as well as winning that Golden Hand thingy...

John: You mean the Palme d'Or?

Hollywood Exec: Whatever. And you Sam, those summer blockbusters are just printing money!

Sam: Well, as my mentor said, "You can't go wrong with explosions and titties."

Hollywood Exec: Yes, well I've been given the order by the higher-ups to make a sequel to one of the greatest movies in the world. And since I know that you two can make some great stuff, I want to hear each of your pitches for the film. Starting with you, Sam.

Awkward silence.

Hollywood Exec: You do have an idea for me, don't you?

Sam: Uh...yeah! I'm calling it...uh...Schindler's List 2: Schindler's Pissed!

John: Really? That's the name you're going with? You sure you didn't get that from a TV show while stoned off your ass?

Sam: Well, what are you calling it smart-guy?

John: The Trials Of Schindler

Sam: How the hell would anyone know it's the sequel to the movie?

John: Well it takes place at the aftermath of WWII, where Schindler is f-

Hollywood Exec: Hey, it's Sam's turn to talk, not yours.

John: Sorry sir.

Sam: Anyways, it takes place at the aftermath of WWII, where Schindler is still in Germany. He's still guilt-ridden by the Jews that he was unable to save and stuff. He then reads in the paper that some of the Nazis have avoided being in the Nuremberg trials. So he then makes it his mission to track down all the Nazi officials and bring them to justice (with a terrible LaFontaine impression) one way or another.

John and the executive have their jaws open.

Sam: So what do ya think?

Hollywood Exec: (aghast) Well, I gotta say this is...this is...

absolutely brilliant! Keep going.

Sam: Yes well...

John: Wait, hold on a really want to hear more of this nutjob's idea for the film?

Hollywood Exec: Of course, I think it has a lot of potential.

John: Even though he ignores the fact that Schindler left Germany and ended up in Bavaria?

Hollywood Exec: We're not really known for being historically accurate, kid. What matters is how good the story can know that's true

John: (reluctantly) You got me there.

Hollywood Exec: Carry on.

Sam: Anyways, so he's finding Nazi after Nazi. At first he tries to reason with them, but they don't he pulls out the big guns and starts gunning them down. (imitates gunfire noises) As he keeps getting Nazi after Nazi, collecting the bounty on their head, he overhears that Amon Goeth has returned to plot his revenge on Schindler.

Hollywood Exec: That's genius!

John: (sarcastic chuckle) If it weren't for the fact that he's dead, sure.

Sam: And it turns out that Goeth is planning to recreate an underground concentration camp under a movie theatre, in which he captures Itzhak Stern as well as a whole bunch of other Jews. So then we see Schindler overseeing the travesty as a little boy with blue clothes meandering about aimlessly in the midst of all the chaos. 

John: Oh, so you're going to make it black and white like the original and have that be a key symbolic feature in the film?

Sam: What is this, the 40s? We'll make it color.

John puts his head down in shame

Hollywood Exec: Yes, that way we can appeal to the modern audiences!

Sam: So we see Schindler continue beating up Nazis, getting information from them and informing the president of the United States to send a task force of his greatest men to combat the Holocaust 2.0.

John: Why would Schindler contact the president of the United States?

Sam: Well who else is going to stop those Nazis, the Germans?

John: You do know Germany went a full 180 after the war? It's not like they actually believed Hitler and would let another Holocaust happen. Hell, the Germans should have been stopping this underground holocaust from happening.

Sam: Fine, they'll be bribed with Nazi gold.

John: The rest of the world would be on their asses then.

Sam: The Nazis become the greatest superpower and everyone's afraid to intervene.

John: That doesn't ev-

Hollywood Exec: Let the man finish for Christ's sake! Go on, Sam.

Sam: Afterwards, we find that Schindler breaks Stern out of the new Holocaust and starts making a new list of the Jews he's going to free, which the two find a way of doing so. Then when meeting up with the American team, they devise a plan to ambush Goeth and the Nazi buddies at the theatre. Then we'll have Stern with a...a subplot of trying to get revenge on Goeth's second hand man who then ended up killing his wife, while Goeth is  planning to destroy the Jews with a doomsday device. Oh and uhhh did I mention that Schindler gets a smoking hot French chick on his team that kicks a ton of ass and has the hots for him?

John: (rolls eyes) Good lord, why don't you just make it so that the little boy in the blue clothes is brainwashed by the Nazis to become an ultimate killing force?

Hollywood Exec: That's not such a bad idea.

John pulls out a flask and starts drinking from it

Sam: In the end, we have this giant climatic battle in the theatre. Everyone on the team is dead. All but Schindler. Amon Goeth informs Schindler that he's captured Stern and his girlfriend and placed them with the rest of the Jews there. He then sicks the little boy on him, who's become a...a...(snaps his fingers) a cyborg spider with fire-breath!

The Hollywood executive is on the edge of his seat. John keeps drinking from his flask

Sam: Before the boy finishes him off, Schindler reminds the fire-breathing cyborg spider boy of the importance of his family, which touches its heart. The fire-breathing cyborg spider boy then kills Amon Goeth, which prompts Schindler to say...

John: Oh god, don't you even think about saying it...

Sam: "I guess you did nazi that coming?"

The Hollywood executive is in stitches. John finishes his flask.

Sam: Schindler then runs off to to where Stern and his girlfriend are and saves them along with a whole bunch of Jews. The building then explodes and upon that he finds the remains of a ton of the Jews. He then says that he could have saved those Jews, he could have saved more of them. He starts to cry out in anguish over the souls that are lost. We seen the turmoil of a tortured soul who has done his best, but feels as though that is not enough.

The Hollywood executive starts blubbering, blowing his nose into a tissue.

Sam: His girlfriend then informs him that he did his best, and that it was the damn best that he could have done. The two then kiss and all the Jews applaud as they all walk out into the sunset. The end.

Hollywood Exec: Well I gotta say, this is one hell of a project! It's gonna be a tough act to follow, John.

John: (twitching furiously) You really can't think that what this guy is saying is a great idea? You seriously can't!

Hollywood Exec: Oh come on, this story is wonderful!

John: It's not! For one, why would Schindler go gung-ho against the Nazis if he's freeing them from the camps through some other way? Why do we need to include Americans out of nowhere? Whatever happened to Emilie Schindler? Did we just forget that he was already married? What happened to Stern's subplot? Or the French girl's ass-kicking abilities? There's so many other questions that are left to the viewer! But fine, go ahead and make it. I guarantee you that Steven Speilberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and everyone else would spit on your script. You'd then have to find some other director and actors who would end up making this sequel more unnecessary than it already is!

Sam: Well if you think this is pointless, why did you bother to come up with a pitch for the film?

John: Look I didn't think that making a pitch for this film was pointless...okay I kind of did, but I can see potential in the idea of continuing with the story of Schindler. The man was not a perfect being, his business and personal life were terrible after the war. He never got his factories working right, he was a complete adulterer; these things don't seem to connect with such a heroic figure. But with that all said, his deeds shouldn't be cast aside from his own faults. Just because great men have faults doesn't mean that their achievements are no less important. I want to build upon the torment that he felt from not being able to save more lives. I want to emphasize the idea that while we all have our faults, we are capable of doing good. Not plaster this man's name to another brainless Nazi-killing fantasy.

More awkward silence

Hollywood Exec: You know, make some good points. And I like your angle on the story too. Tell you what, I'll let you both do your take on the film. I'll let the public decide.

A few years later, the two films come out. Schindler's List 2: Schindler's Pissed and The Trials Of Schindler. The former makes a ton of money, but the only people that like it do so ironically. The latter receives multiple awards from a variety of festivals and just barely manages to break even.