A really strange and unique animated TV-show whose science fiction surface hides an absurd core. Like naive art that sometimes completely eschews perspective, this one is naive in its use of physics and other basic elements of a our natural universe. But to complain about this in such a show is beside the point, since it never strifes for realism at all. It’s use of the science fiction toolbox is entirely in service to creating it’s own, absurd little pocket universe where everything can happen. Still, the show manages to create charming characters who are caught in a situation as absurd as the physics of its universe. I really wish this one would get a DVD release so that more people had the chance to see it.
The animated TV-series that followed Burton’s brilliant movie was a heavily sanitized version. Everything that made the original such a fun and entertaining experience has been dumped down or outright cut. The worst changes affected the two main characters, Lydia went from gloomy to annoyingly cheerful, Beetlejuice from malevolent trickster to second-rate jokester. Instead of a decaying and throughout bureaucratized afterworld Beetlejuice now lives in bright and colorful otherworld whose weirdness remains entirely superficial. This seems to have been quite the hit in its days, something that I find hard to believe, since it’s so overwhelmingly boring and mediocre. How anyone can watch this and not wanting his time back is beyond me.
Jumpman, a nifty retro platformer that has nothing to do with the 1983 Jumpman, is one of those games that really make me appreciate the freeware/indy gaming scene. At first it looks nearly a bit too retro and when you start playing you might wonder what the fuzz is, the handling of your character is quite sluggish and there’s no real challenge. But once you’ve beaten the first level and seen the second swoop up out of the background, you’ve seen one of many nifty elements the game has to offer. It’s not really a gameplay element, but it’s still awesome, as if entering deeper and deeper into a 2d retro gaming world with each levels stacked upon each other.
The real fun starts when you’re allowed to rotate the levels, which at first is used primarily to reach certain platforms more easily, but later on is needed to solve some easy puzzles. There are still more unique gameplay elements to discover, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun. One thing that I really liked was how the game always managed to remain entertaining up to the end. The game is not too difficult, but in this case I see that as an advantage, as similar retro platformers often rise the difficulty so high that finishing the games becomes more of a shore than fun. Jumpman never does and replaying it is just as fun.
A show that started out depicting the more or less realistic lives of a bunch of teenagers who hang out in the mall all the time. In general they are, as can be expected from people who see the mall as the center of their social life, pretty shallow and superficial people, but the show managed to make them pretty likable. Their shallowness even made them look more realistic, like all the teenagers trying to be so unique, but in effect acting like pod people, always trying to appease some nonsensical fashion and beauty ideal. Even the most rebellious of the group, Nikki, is nothing more than a fake in that regard.
Sadly all good things have to end or they go bad and with the second season half of the episodes started to sport serious WTF moments, jumping the shark more than once. The second season started also sporting a strange fart fetish. That doesn’t mean it was completely unwatchable, since there was still a good amount of episodes that were as good as the best from the first season, but some were quite awful and cringe-inducing. The third seasons followed this trend, but this time the good episodes were quite rare and the awful ones dominated.
When I started reading I had to force myself to not compare this to Harry Potter or similar children/teenager fiction that starts out with oppressed kids whose parents are dead and who suddenly find out that they are not quite normal. This time a brother/sister pair discovers that their parents are a goddess and Lucifer himself. The first turnoff was the cliched setup. The second turnoff was that the two parties, the fallen angels on the father’s sides and the gods on the mother’s side are nothing more than magical backed crime syndicates.
That said, despite that I had some really strong “I’m not going to like this” feelings while starting the book, the superb writing sucked me in. I never really liked the main plot, the foot notes where highly annoying and on some level I really didn’t liked Mortal Coils, and yet I still couldn’t stop reading it. I haven’t had such a bipolar reaction to a book for some time. I’m still not sure whether I want to read any possible sequels, as I thought the ending was a bit weak together with my other misgivings. I had hoped the book would end with the brother/sister pair establishing a third force not allied with either group.
But if I do read the sequels, there’s one thing I actually want to see, both parties, the Immortals (the gods) and the Infernals (the fallen angels) getting completely wiped out. The Immortals even more so, because I get the feeling the sequels will try to ram some sort of redemption for them down our throat and I would hate seeing that.
Known as the movie that killed of Dreamworks traditional animation branch. Which is a shame, as it is a magnificent movie. Sinbad, a mix of a thief and adventurer in this version, has to bring back the book of peace or an old friend from his childhood has to die. This is complicated by Eris, a goddess of chaos who doesn’t want to give the book back, and Marina, his friends fiancée who travels with him to Tartarus, where Eris resides.
The animation is truly beautiful, some of the landscapes really make you wish you could step into the movie and simply marvel at them. The rest is not bad either, the dialog has wit and is fun to follow, the developing love between Sinbad and Marina is convincing, the side-characters are fun and there’s enough action to keep you glued to your seat. Eris as the villain is also excellent. Sinbad’s friend acts a bit too goody two-shoes, but even that minor flaw can be forgiven, as the rest is perfect.
A short movie that tells a sappy Christmas story about Shrek. He never had a Christmas before, so he tries to make a perfect one for his family only to have all his friends get in the way until he throws them out. The rest of the story follows a predictable pattern. As much as I like the Shrek franchise, this one was unnecessary, especially as it seemed like Shrek was back to his old self from the first movie, forgetting all his character development from the other two movies.
The sequel to the first Jellaby comic has the same endearing qualities as the first one. The artwork is excellent, nice and simple yet very expressive. The story is well done, it provides a nice emotional conclusion, even if we don’t really learn more about Jellaby’s origin. The girl who found Jellaby in the first part, together with another boy who is not quite her friend, bring Jellaby to the big city to find his home, against the girls own wishes (she fears to lose her only friend).
I’m not sure whether there will be more Jellaby, since this wraps the story nicely up, but it leaves room for more. And it’s always sad to see such endearing characters go, but I’m definitely interested in what Kean Soo does next, whether it will be more Jellaby or something altogether different.
The second Simonon Thor Visionaries TPB collects the Thor issues 349-355 (1984-1985) and 357-359 (1985). They wrap up the Surtur storyline in a very satisfying manner and then go on to deal with the aftermath of it. I really liked how Loki played a decisive role in the fight against Surtur, despite their earlier cooperation. The book really shows Simonson’s strength, the whole Norse mythology angle. He also manages to make it a natural part of the bigger Marvel superheroe universe without toning down the mythological elements.
The collection also shows some aspects of Simonson’s work that are less than stellar. After Surtur has been vanquished the Asgardians remain on Earth for some time and the side plot depicting their stay on Earth could have been shortened. There’s also the side story with Sif and Beta Ray Bill and the attempt of a Russian agent to bring down the financial system of the US, prescient of Fight Club. The whole cold war plot reads incredibly ridiculous and dated. And Simonson can be a bit on the wordy side, his writing could be a bit more succinct.
Thankfully Simonson sticks most of the time to exploring the Asgardians and their world and how they deal with the loss of Odin. I really liked how Simonson gave Thor depth without trying to make him smarter (which would have been the easy route). Unlike Loki he’s not brilliant, but his heart is in the right place and he manages to be believable heroic. And when he grieves over his father’s loss it feels real. It’s all these elements that really carry the story and make Simonon’s run so outstanding.
The story of Robots is as generic as it can be. A young guy goes to the big city to realize his dreams and work for a big company, only to see them squashed by an evil, young usurper who has taken over and dethroned the original, friendly big boss. The rest of the story goes as expected.
Still, despite the lack of any fresh ideas in the story department, the movie has some things going for it. It’s a world devoid of any biological life, robots are all there is. Here’s where the movie really shines, the animation brings the robot world to life. Instead of uniformity, each robot feels unique, each element of this world is quirky and weird and makes for some really fascinating visuals. The script is also quite amusing and manages to string you along. It’s an excellent execution of some very conventional narrative elements fused to some very unique viusals and spiced with a nice supply of gags. In the end it didn’t really matter that I knew all along what would happen, because I had so much fun.