The 'Shroom:Issue LXXXVII/Critic Corner
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO EVER PUT IN THESE ANYMORE
But howdys and welcome to the June issue of Critic Corner, hoorah! I hope you enjoy what we have got for you today. (:
Also, a heads up that there was no Section of the Month awarded for last month since there was only one section, and that was M4E’s review on Hannibal, sooo… I will rightfully crown M4E as king of Critic Corner. GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY.
Non-Mario Game Reviews
I'm baaaaaaaack! Did you miss me? What do you mean, "who the hell are you"?! You need to take a look at the archives. But enough of bad jokes, let's cut to the chase. I'm hear for a stunning, touching review of NES Remix 2. Hey, that rhymed.
If you're not familiar with the NES Remix games, imagine 9-Volt's microgames in WarioWare, but longer. That's basically what NES Remix is - a glorified collection of extended 9-Volt microgames. I own both games, but I'll be reviewing the second game, because at least the second has games I can appreciate instead of super golden crystal Jesus nostalgic Super Mario Bros. If you both suck at NES games and are extremely completionist, don't buy this game. It's not that it's horrible or anything, but it's a warning. For example, I'm awful at Punch-Out but started the challenges anyways. Of course, I could not beat Glass Joe fast enough in the second challenge, which led to me playing it over and over and letting the game laugh at me by giving me non-rainbow triple stars. Every other challenge I've completed thus far I've gotten triple rainbow stars. And let me just say, is it me or are the requirements for rainbow rank a lot more lenient than the first game? I swear that there were some challenges in the original, especially in Super Mario Bros., where you almost had to have perfect maneuvers to get those precious triple rainbow stars. However, in the second installment, I've played, what, 50 challenges? I've played challenges from all the starting games minus Wario's Woods plus Lost Levels.
The challenges from existing games are okay. It really depends on the game. For example. Dr. Mario's challenges were fun and demanding. However, the Kirby's Adventure challenges, in my opinion, could have made better use of many abilites, especially lasers. The thing about those challenges that dissapoints me is that four of the challenges are just a boss. There are challenges which pit you against Kracko, Heavy Mole, Meta Knight and King Dedede. However, in Kirby's Adventure, there is a treasure trove of fun cannon-fuse puzzles which have become a staple in the series, and in Kirby: Triple Deluxe get even better thanks to the 3DS' gyroscope controls. Unless one appears in a Remix level, none of these puzzles appeared. A fun challenge would have been to solve every cannon puzzle in the game quickly to nab your rainbow rank; that would have been far better than a battle against a half-beaten Heavy Mole. Now, I'm not saying that these challenges aren't fun; one challenge gives you the task of destroying many blocks with the UFO ability. Despite that, I feel that the challenges of Kirby's Adventure, one of the best NES games ever, are very lackluster.
Not only are some challenges lackluster, the NES Remix games have a Mario obsession. In the first game, the original Super Mario Bros. dominates everything, having many more challenges and remixes than any other. This is slightly better in the sequel, but the spotlight still focuses largely on Mario and his games. If there ever is an SNES Remix, I hope that other SNES games such as Kirby Super Star or Super Metroid get an equal amount of focus as Super Mario World. Mario games are extremely formulaic no matter how many powerups or gameplay changes they introduce, and the challenges in them get stale very quickly.
Now for the biggest flaw in both games. The fact that games are "remixed" is the selling point of the game - you come in thinking that the game will challenge you to rethink your playstyle in creative ways, but that...just doesn't happen. Many of the remix challenges resort to interface screw instead of fundamentally changing the game. In particular, there is one challenge that takes place in the egg-eating minigame of Kirby's Adventure. The only gimmick in this challenge is that with each egg swallowed the game zooms in a bit. This hardly makes for a unique challenge at all, and feels just like Pokémon anime filler. This was even worse in the first, with challenges that were just the game but turning black-and-white for a period of time. This is especially evident when this is used in Ice Climbers (Remix 2, Stage 7) and Tennis (Bonus, Stage 9), where it doesn't make anything more difficult at all. NES Remix 2 improves on this, but there are still challenges that resort to random interface screw, such as the afromentioned egg one. Probably some of my favorites are the "collect all the coins" challenges where you play as different characters from other games, such as Kirby, Link and Samus. There's even one where you have to take out two Waddle Dees and a Poppy Bros. Jr. as Toad. Also, the interface screw is used in challenging ways - the black-and-white effect is used in Dr. Mario, where you then cannot tell the difference between yellow and blue colors, forcing you to memorize the colors of the pill. The remix stages overall feel more varied, but I'd like to see challenges that actually change the level design - I know there is a challenge in 2 where you play through a remake of 1-1 in Super Mario Bros. 3, but that's not an original level design at all. Make the enemies faster. Change the obstacles. Remove powerups. Add enemies from other games!
Overall, NES Remix 2 is a fun addition to your Wii U library, but its creativity is limited and has some lackluster challenges under its tow. It still stands as an improvement from the original, however. You know what they say - third time's the charm. At least, I hope it will be.
Movie Reviews GalacticPetey (talk)
It’s no secret that I’m a massive Godzilla fan. Hell, some might even consider my obsession unhealthy. When this film was announced back in 2009 or 2010, I was pretty excited. A big budget American take on Godzilla? Sweet! Though I was cautious because the last time Hollywood tried this back in ‘98, we got that abomination with Matthew Broderick that was insult to the franchise. Fast forward to 2014 and the movie is finally here. I saw it the first opportunity I got and saw it again later. Did the film live up to the hype? Or was it 1998 all over again? Let's find out. Be warned, spoilers and profanity follow.
This review is gonna assume that the reader has already seen the film. As such, I will not do a plot recap and spoilers will be mentioned frequently. With that said, let’s get into our human characters. This is one of the most controversial aspects of the film. Our lead is Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. One of the biggest complaints was that he was bland, uninteresting, and was a poor choice. I can see where these people are coming from. Let’s just get one thing out of the way. The script was pretty lackluster, which was probably due to there being several different writers attached. That being said, I thought Johnson did fine. Yes, the writing was not up to snuff, but he did the best he could with what he was given. He has shown in the past that he is a talented actor, and I eagerly look forward to his portrayal of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In fact, you could argue that his somewhat wooden performance is because his character is a soldier. He has been trained to be stern, tough, and to follow orders. He's a soldier and he's seen some shit. Besides, he’s a better lead than Broderick was in Godzilla ‘98.
Ken Watanabe plays the character of Dr. Serizawa. As soon as I heard the name “Serizawa” uttered in the movie, I giggled like a school girl. Pure fanservice right there. For those who don’t know, Serizawa was the name of the scientist from the original 1954 Gojira. I feel Watanabe was underused in this film. You get a famous, talented Japanese actor and name him after one of the most important Godzilla characters and have him only spout exposition that seems more like Dr. Yamane than Serizawa. Like Johnson, Watanabe does a good job with what he’s given, which is not a lot. There is one scene that Watanabe nails perfectly, and that’s the scene where he is trying to convince the admiral that using a nuclear bomb would be a bad idea. He pulls out his father’s watch that’s permanently stuck at the exact moment the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That scene has very little dialogue, but it' such a powerful moment. I would've liked more stuff with him. Hopefully the sequels expand on his role more.
Elizabeth Olsen plays Ford’s wife Elle Brody. There was a lot of criticism that she added nothing to the plot. I strongly disagree with that mentality. Yes, she doesn't have much screen time but that’s beside the point. In the couple scenes that she is in, she has good chemistry with Aaron Johnson. The scenes between the two of them are well done and it will be interesting to see them interact as brother in and sister in Age of Ultron after their romantic realtionship in this movie. Back on topic, Elle and Sam (their son) are actually a big plot point. They are the whole reason Ford gets involved with the operation against the Mutos. Without them, who knows what could have happened. Ford would not have been there and the nuke would've detonated in the city. Like Watanabe, I feel I could have used a little more of her in the movie.
Now for our best actor in the film, Bryan Cranston. He also perhaps the most controversial aspects of the film. He was featured heavily in the trailers and TV spots and was made out to be the main character of the film. And then he dies before the halfway point. People were furious about this. I can definitely agree with some of their arguments. Joe Brody was easily the best character in the film. He was acted and scripted extremely well. Cranston’s performance is some of the best human drama I've seen in a monster film. I was pretty upset that he got killed off so early. Like I said, they used him a lot in the ads. But when you think about it, maybe he didn't need to stick around longer. The whole point of his character was to find out out what the hell happened in Janjira. He needed closure as to what killed his wife. He does go to Janjira and he does see what killed his wife, the Muto. His character arc was done. Hell, his death actually raises the stakes. At that point, you realize no one is safe now. Would I have liked more of him in the movie? Yes. But I’m fine with what I got. I must admit, I'm surprised the studio had the balls to kill him off so early.
The other human characters do decent. David Strathairn as the admiral was a great throwback to the generals of the old Godzilla films. He’s a bit more compassionate and the scene with him and Serizawa talking about Hiroshima is great. Sally Hawkins plays Serizawa’s assistant. She felt kind of unnecessary and seems to exist solely as the exposition fairy with Watanabe. Her part could have easily gone to Serizawa, giving him a larger role. Juliette Binoche is fantastic as Sandra, Joe’s wife. Her part is small but she does a such a good job and her relationship with Cranston is very believable and provides some of the best human drama in the film.
Now let’s talk about the kaiju. These are the guys you came to see. I’ll talk about the Mutos first. To start off, they have a great design. They’re unique, alien, and terrifying. The CGI on these things was stunning. The male Muto has a great introduction where he emerges from the cocoon and trashes Janjira. He also has a pair of wings that allow him to fly. Watching the Muto take to the skies hearkened back to some of the classic flying monsters like Rodan. Even more so than Rodan, the flying Muto reminded me a lot of Gyaos from the Gamera series. The female Muto was very Cloverfield-esque. What I loved about her was that she had a personality. After Ford destroys the nest, the female immediately stops the fight with Godzilla and runs to the nest. Little things like that make her one of the most interesting kaiju we've had in the Godzilla series. Adding on to this, the Mutos were actually sympathetic villains. They show character and personality when they meet up. Sure, they’re going to kill everyone, but goddammit they’re so happy together. I almost felt sad when the female lost her babies, and I think that having the villains be sympathetic is a great thing for a film to do.
Now on to the Big G himself. Let’s start with his design. Holy shit, it’s fucking awesome. This is one of the best designs for Godzilla yet. It’s massive, it’s intimidating and he just looks powerful. Unlike the ‘98 film, this Godzilla actually resembles the source material. Not only that, Godzilla actually acts like Godzilla. He’s not running from the military and getting killed my missiles. Oh no, this Godzilla takes on two monsters at once and has survived being nuked several times. Not to mention he actually shows emotion and character. One thing that separates Godzilla from other giant monsters like Cloverfield is that he’s sentient. He can feel anger, he can be sad. That’s one thing this movie excelled out. Godzilla is a character, not just a plot device who exists only to show action scenes. The scene where Godzilla makes eye contact with Ford is one of the best shots in the film. It’s brief, but Godzilla expression is great and you really get a sense that the Mutos are giving him hell and they’re a force to reckoned with. Then there’s his roar. I was a little iffy when I first heard the roar. It was very different from the classic roar. You could still tell it was Godzilla, but it seemed very odd. Over time, the roar grew on me, and it’s one of my favorites now. When you first hear it in the airport scene, it just shakes the entire theater. Atomic breath is a very key aspect of the Godzilla character. It was insultingly not in the ‘98 film because it was too “unrealistic,” which is bullshit. But I’m not gonna keep bringing up that film. Just read my review on the forum as to why the ‘98 film is garbage. Back to the new movie, the new atomic breath was one of the best parts. The breath is never shown until the final battle. It was a great move because it made the reveal scene all the more stunning. When the spines started to glow blue, I had to try really hard not to scream right then in there in the theater. I loved how they gradually lit up, illuminating Godzilla right before he blasts the female Muto. Then there’s the finishing move where he breathes the atomic breath right down the Muto’s throat and rips her head off like a fatality out of Mortal Kombat. Good stuff.
I guess now it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Godzilla’s screen time. One of the biggest, if not the biggest complaint about the movie was that Godzilla was not shown enough. Now, I can understand this complaint. Many people went in expecting two hours of Godzilla blowing stuff up. Anyone who was expecting that probably was disappointed. People must not know that the original film kept Godzilla screen time to minimum, yet it’s a fantastic piece of cinema. Having Godzilla’s screen time be limited was a smart decision. Think of it like Jurassic Park. Would the Jeep scene with the T. Rex have been as awesome if he showed the Rex in full in the first ten minutes of the film? No. Patience is a virtue. The buildup for Godzilla was amazing and it made the airport scene all the more effective. Movies like Jaws and Alien didn't show the monster that much but they are hailed as some of the best films in their genre. I for one liked that this wasn't a typical Michael Bay action film. I guess people are spoiled and want nothing but explosions. God forbid we have some quiet moments. Now, I will say that the sequel could definitely use more Godzilla. This is the first film where we slowly set up Godzilla and keep him mysterious. The second film should show Godzilla early on and dive deeper into the lore and mythos of the creature. Keep him mysterious, but show more.
A Godzilla movie wouldn't be complete without a kickass score. Composer Alexandre Desplat does an amazing job. You may know him for his musical work on Zero Dark Thirty, The King’s Speech, Argo and the last two Harry Potter films. As many of you who followed my kaiju reviews know, Akira Ifukube’s music is one of my favorite parts of many Godzilla films. Sadly, none of his tracks are in the film. The song “Back to the Ocean” seems to contain little snippets of the famous Godzilla theme, but it’s easy to miss. That being said, the soundtrack on its own is great. It’s very Danny Elfman-esque. Fans of the 1989 Batman film know what I’m talking about. The soundtrack is very similar to that. At times it’s loud and bombastic, but other times it’s subtle and subdued. The music works great with Godzilla and is now one of my favorite musical scores in the series. I hope Desplat returns for a sequel, hopefully adding in some great new variations of Ifukube’s timeless tracks.
This is the film we should have gotten in 1998. Take notes Emmerich, this is how you pay tribute to an icon. This is the film Godzilla fans deserve, and the one we needed right now. Godzilla differs from your generic summer blockbuster or run-of-the-mill monster film. It has a realistic tone and a serious message about nature and how we are helpless against it. Not only that, this is a film that was made by fans, for the fans. The sheer fact that I got to see the real Godzilla on a massive movie screen is just too much. Maybe I’m biased, but this was some of the most fun I've had in a theater. If you haven’t seen the movie, go do yourself a favor and see it now. If you've already seen it, go see it again!
The King is back, baby!
Final Score: 8/10