Power Rangers (2017) Review

I enjoyed the new Power Rangers movie. So sue me. Obviously, you don’t go into a movie called Power Rangers expecting anything resembling a deep story, you go in expecting to have a fun (if maybe a bit insane) time. And I ultimately felt Power Rangers delivered on that, even if it takes an excruciatingly long time to get there.

Back in the 90s, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was the biggest thing on children’s television. The show was a unique specimen in that it took stock footage from the long-running Japanese series Super Sentai – a super hero show in which a multi-colored team of heroes battled monsters with giant, dinosaur robots – and not only dubbed it, but also filled in the non-super hero-y parts with a teenage sitcom with American actors.

In retrospect, it sounds like the most insane concept ever, and in many ways it was. But it worked. Spinoffs of both Super Sentai and Power Rangers continue to this day in their respective countries. And during the 90s, it was the centerpiece of children’s popular culture much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before it, or Pokemon after it.

I should know, I was about four-years old when Power Rangers came into existence, and like so many children, I was hooked. Again, this is a series that had super heroes, dinosaurs, robots and monsters, and then threw in the stories of a group of teenagers that actually aimed to be relatable (if campy) around it all. What kid wouldn’t like this?

Now, like so many other 90s franchises, Power Rangers has received the nostalgia-fueled Hollywood blockbuster treatment. And while I will certainly say it’s a greatly flawed film, by the end of it I was having a good time. While many such reboots just don’t work, Power Rangers does manage to tap into the nature of its ridiculous source material and give you what you came for.

Suffice to say the story is the best kind of nonsense. As the film’s mythology goes, every planet that houses life has a “Zeo Crystal” hidden somewhere within it, which can grant ultimate power. 65 million years ago, the Power Rangers were a band of aliens trying to protect the Earth, after one of their own, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) went rogue and tried to steal Earth’s Zeo Crystal. The dying leader of the Rangers, Zordon (Bryan Cranston), then called down a meteorite to stop Rita from gaining the crystal, and to ensure life would be allowed to continue on Earth.

“They may not be the Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, but they’ll do.”

Fast-forward to the present day, and the Zeo Crystal’s location is now buried deep under thee city of Angel Grove, where five teenagers, Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Trini Kwan (Becky G) and Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), inadvertently uncover five mystical tokens during one of Billy’s exploits to an abandoned mine, to continue in his deceased archeologist father’s footsteps.

“I don’t know, a simple poster might be a better wall decoration…”

Upon finding the tokens, the teenagers are given newfound strength and superhuman abilities, and eventually uncover a hidden spaceship in the location they found the coins. The spaceship is tended to by Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader), an ancient robot who “uploaded Zordon’s essence into the ship’s matrix.” Zordon then informs the teens that by finding the tokens, they are destined to become the new Power Rangers, with Jason becoming the leading Red Ranger, Kimberly the Pink Ranger, Billy the Blue Ranger, Trini the Yellow Ranger and Zack the Black Ranger. With their new roles as Power Rangers, they must prepare for the return of Rita Repulsa, who plans on constructing a golden goliath named Goldar in order to find the Zeo Crystal (which just so happens to be buried deep beneath a Krispy Kreme).

Yeah, it’s insane.

Honestly, once we actually get to the Power Ranger-y bits, it’s a lot of fun. The grave problem with the film, however, is that it just takes way too long to get their.

The build-up to the teenagers becoming the Power Rangers takes up the majority of the film. This might not be so big of a problem, if this extra time were spent on things like character development. Instead, it all just seems like build-up for the sake of build-up, and a good deal of awkward dialogue doesn’t help things, either.

Now, in its defense, the film does try to give a little bit of attention to its characters’ backstories: Zack has an ailing mother, for example, and Billy is probably the most interesting character, having a form of high-functioning autism that gives him an incredible memory at the expense of basic socializing skills. The problem is that these character moments are very short-lived (especially for Zack and Trini, whose introductions in the film feel incredibly sporadic).

You could compare the situation to the 2014 Godzilla film, in which the whole reason audiences came to see the movie (in that case, Godzilla) doesn’t get nearly the amount of screen time you’d hope for. Though Power Rangers is probably more guilty. At least in Godzilla’s case, its titular monster had origins in a serious drama (let’s not forget Godzilla was originally an allegory for the atom bomb). But Power Rangers was always so ridiculous, that there’s really no reason to try to take things so seriously and hold off on the Rangers, Zords, and giant monster battles.

With all that said, once it all picks up, and the Rangers (finally) don their costumes, ride in their dinosaur-shaped Zords, and have the inevitably ridiculous showdown with Rita Repulsa, it’s a whole lot of fun.

“65 million years never looked so good.”

Speaking of Rita Repulsa, Elizabeth Banks has to be the film’s best singular asset. She seems to be having an exceptionally fun time hamming it up as the evil witch, and just brings a whole lot of energy and humor to the film.

In the end, Power Rangers was never going to be a cinematic classic, nor is it as ridiculously fun as it could have been, since it staves off the good stuff for far too long. But thankfully, the payoff at the end, coupled with Elizabeth Banks’ over-the-top performance, makes it all worth it in the end. And in a time when entertainment is becoming insanely preachy and self-righteous, it’s kind of nice to see a movie that’s okay with just being insane.

 

6.5

Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth Review

The Nintendo 64 may not be famous for housing very many shoot-em-ups, but it had at least one under its belt in the form of Hudson Soft’s Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth. While Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth is certainly a fun title, it doesn’t necessarily bring anything to the genre that you couldn’t see elsewhere.

Basically, if you’ve played a Japanese space shoot-em-up, you know what to expect. You can fire a never-ending onslaught of lasers at countless enemy ships, while avoiding their fire in a top-down perspective in rail-shooter levels. It’s basic stuff, but fun.

Players can control either a red, blue or green ship. Each ship has a standard shot which you can shoot to infinity and beyond, which is used with a press of the A button, as well as special attacks that are performed with the B and Z buttons. The standard shot can be upgraded if you collect enough power-ups (which look like yellow and green spinning… thing. I honestly don’t know what they’re supposed to be). Additionally, you can deflect some enemy shots by doing a barrel roll with a press of the R button.

Because your ship is so powerful offensively, it only makes sense that it would be on the fragile side in terms of defense. It only takes a couple of hits before you see the game over screen, at which point you have to restart whatever stage you were on from the beginning. If you keep getting the power-ups, you get a few extra hits, but you’ll also lose your weapon upgrades. If you die, you’ll restart the level with your starting lasers which, in later stages, can make things really difficult. So you’ll really want to memorize the level and enemy layouts to preserve your weapons and health.

“The blue laser destroys all!”

If you want to rack up points, the red and green ships are desirable, as their guns can shoot in wider areas (with the red ship even being able to shoot directly behind itself while shooting in all directions ahead, after enough power-ups are grabbed). This allows the red and green ship to keep hitting enemies non-stop, thus racking up combos and points. But the blue ship is a lot stronger and more ideal for the boss fights, as its special weapons (a barrage of missiles and a comically oversized laser) are devastating. I really enjoy playing as the red ship, but I find the first boss incredibly difficult when playing as it. Meanwhile, the blue ship only needs to use its specials a couple of times and the boss goes down without taking a hit. So you could say there’s some decent variety in play styles at least.

“Behold, the Super 64!”

Being an N64 title, the game obviously isn’t much to look at. On the plus side, this is a genre that never really gained much from graphical fidelity, so it’s easy to look past its archaic visuals and just enjoy the mayhem. The music is also pretty simple, but really upbeat and catchy, as you would expect from a Hudson game of the era.

Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth remains a fun game, and I have many fond memories of it (not least of which being that it never received a cartridge that would fit in a western N64, and came bundled with the “Super 64” peripheral just to play it). But it’s also pretty standard for its genre. Playing a game of this kind on the N64 may have been a treat back in the day, but if you’ve played other shoot-em-ups, Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth may only have a limited appeal.

 

6.5

Tinhead Review

During the 1990s, the platformer genre saw a huge boom in popularity. After Sonic the Hedgehog struck it big, it seemed like every developer was trying their hand at making a mascot-based platformer. None of them saw the same success as Sonic, of course, but not all of these would-be platforming heroes were as abysmal as Bubsy. Case in point, the oft-forgotten Sega Genesis title Tinhead which, while flawed, showed enough potential that it’s a shame it never took off as its own franchise.

In Tinhead, players control (as you may have guessed) Tinhead, a charming robot whose cute design was a refreshing reprieve from all the “animals with attitude” that were inspired in Sonic’s wake. Tinhead can run and jump, like most of his platforming kin. But Tinhead differs from other genre heroes with his attack.

Tinhead can shoot little bullets out of the top of his head, and can change the trajectory of his shots (forward, upward and downward) by pressing the A button (C jumps, and B fires). Additionally, the bullets can bounce off walls, leading the player to get creative with how to take out enemies.

The method of attack is what helps make Tinhead a bit more creative than a lot of the other platformers of the time. Unfortunately, where Tinhead’s control stumbles is in his jumping which, being a platformer, can become bothersome.

Tinhead manages to take to the air well enough, but once his jumps reach their maximum height or length, he comes crashing down as though gravity suddenly has a vendetta against him. The jumping mechanics aren’t terrible, but they certainly are less fluid than you’d hope they’d be, as the rapid descents mean you have to be incredibly precise when it comes to the trickier platforming segments.

Yet another problem with the game’s physics comes in the form of going down slopes. Normally in a 2D platformer, the character will only slide down a slope if yo press down on the control pad. But in Tinhead, the poor robot will automatically slide downhill unless you are actively moving him upward. If you let go of the D-pad for even a split second, Tinhead will start to go downhill. It’s not a major complaint, but when you’re also fighting an enemy or trying to grab an item when going uphill, it can prove problematic.

By now I probably sound largely negative, but in all honesty Tinhead is a fun game. The story involves an evil intergalactic goblin who has stolen the stars, trapped them, and scattered them across the cosmos. The goal of each level is to find a star, and then head for a teleporter to clear it.

The game hosts four worlds, each consisting of three stages, and each stage being separated into two segments (each segment containing its own star and teleporter). There are colorful enemies who look like they wouldn’t be out of place in Sonic 3D Blast, and Tinhead can even ride on a weird dog/pogo ball hybrid for some extra distance in his jumps, as well as a propellor and jetpack.

One area in which Tinhead differs from other 16-bit platformers is that its titular character can have up to five hit points (grabbing a battery refills one hit point, while grabbing a lightning bolt refills them all). It’s a small change, but it does take away some of the stress out of the equation. I’d hate to think how difficult this game might be if Tinhead died in one or two hits along with the overly-precise platforming bits.

It’s simple stuff, but it’s charming and different enough to make it stand out, at least in regards to the other Sonic wannabes of the day. The visuals look nice and colorful, and the music is pretty darn good. Though there is one more notable complaint to be had with the boss fights, which can be incredibly tedious (just dodge their occasional attacks and keep firing. They don’t change patterns, and there’s not much in terms of strategy).

Tinhead may not have been a classic, as it’s a capable but unspectacular platformer with notable problems in its physics and boss fights. But it’s charming, and provides some solid fun. Who knows, maybe if Tinhead had been allowed a few sequels, he could have found his stride and became a full-on platforming star. If Bubsy was allowed to have sequels, I don’t see why Tinhead should have been denied them.

 

7.0

Tetris Attack Review

In 1995, Nintendo released Panel De Pon on the Super Famicom. It was something akin to an inverse Tetris. A falling-block puzzle game where the blocks ascended from the bottom of the screen, as opposed to falling from the top. In 1996, Panel De Pon was brought stateside under the name Tetris Attack, swapping out the original Panel De Pon characters with a motif based on Yoshi’s Island. The game was later re-released on the Nintendo 64 with yet another new title, Pokemon Puzzle League, using characters and visuals from the Pokemon anime. While Pokemon Puzzle League is the version that has seen subsequent releases through Nintendo’s downloadable services, the Yoshi’s Island aesthetic makes Tetris Attack the most endearing version of this overlooked gem of a puzzler.

As stated, despite having the name Tetris in its title, Tetris Attack works as a reversed version of the falling-block puzzle genre made famous by Tetris. Here, the blocks all rise up from the bottom of the screen. Nor do these blocks come in different shapes. Instead, they are all bricks adorned with different colors and symbols (like red blocks with hearts, yellow blocks with stars, and blue blocks with diamonds.

The player moves a cursor around, which looks like two squares clumped together. The player moves the cursor up, down, left and right with the D-pad, with the A and B buttons being used to swap whatever two blocks are within the cursor. By moving the blocks around, players are supposed to line up at least three blocks of the same color (either horizontally or vertically) in order to eliminate them and prevent the blocks from reaching the top of the screen, which results in a game over.

But wait, there’s another twist to the formula at play. If you manage to chain four or five blocks of the same color together, or get an ongoing combo going, you’ll drop what’s called a “garbage block” on your opponent. Garbage blocks make things more difficult for whoever ends up with them. Players eliminate the garbage blocks by completing a series of blocks adjacent to the garbage block, which then turns into a series of regular blocks. Additionally, rare exclamation point blocks may appear, and if you manage to chain them, you’ll drop a metal garbage block on your opponent, which is even tougher to get rid of.

Like most of the great puzzle games, the gameplay is instantly understandable, but so well executed that you could play it for hours at a time. Tetris Attack will have you thinking and strategizing on the fly, racking your brain to find the quickest combos possible. It’s insanely fun.

Tetris Attack features a host of different modes, such as endless (where you simply play and rack up points until the blocks inevitably take over), and the oddly-named Versus Mode – which is more of a story mode – where players control Yoshi as he battles his friends (such as Poochy and Lakitu) to free them from a curse, and then take the fight to Bowser and his minions (in which all of your freed allies serve as additional tries).

The single player modes are all fun, but no doubt it’s the multiplayer that will keep you coming back. Tetris Attack is one of the most fun puzzle games I’ve played, and if you have another player willing to tackle it, you can easily get lost in its action.

Once again, the game has seen many different facelifts through the years. And while the core gameplay remains the same in each iteration, Tetris Attack serves as a testament to the appeal of a franchise name, because – as stated – the Yoshi’s Island characters and visuals make it the definitive version of the game.

Sure, playing the game under any of its guises is fun, and if you can more readily play it in one of its other forms, go for it. But there’s just something so charming about the Yoshi’s Island aesthetics, that it gives the game its cutest, most appealing packaging. Tetris Attack even includes some great remixes of Yoshi’s Island tunes, as well as some stellar original music, which is refreshingly peaceful and calming. Until, of course, the blocks raise too high, and the music becomes more appropriately hectic.

Tetris Attack is pure fun. It remains one of the best multiplayer titles of the 16-bit generation, and is one of the most addictive puzzle games around. The Panel De Pon formula is something special in the falling-block genre, and wrapping it up in a Yoshi’s Island motif just makes it all the sweeter.

 

9.0

Kong: Skull Island Review

Though the giant monster genre may not exactly be a critical darling, there are at least two giant monsters in cinema with legacies so strong that even the more prudish film-lovers show them a degree of respect. One of them is Godzilla, who has seen a recent return to form in both his native Japan with the acclaimed Shin Godzilla, as well as making a splash with western audiences with his 2014 American reboot. The other iconic giant monster is King Kong.

While the original 1933 King Kong may not wow today’s audiences with its special effects, it remains heralded for how much it pushed filmmaking techniques forward, as well as its genuine storytelling prowess. It’s still entertaining, and is held in such high regard that its remakes in the 1970s and 2000s were seen as big deals, with the filmmakers behind those remakes (particularly Peter Jackson and his enjoyable-but-overly-long 2005 film) showing a great deal of respect to the source material.

Now we have another reboot of the King Kong franchise in the form of Kong: Skull Island. Though unlike the previous films, this is not a remake of the 1933 movie. Instead, it’s a reimagining of the Kong mythology that serves as a means to not only reintroduce Kong, but also to combine his world with that of the 2014 Godzilla, to create a shared cinematic universe between the behemoths.

Of course, this isn’t the first time cinema’s two most famous giants coexisted. Toho once made their own King Kong Versus Godzilla in the 1960s, which delighted the Hell out of me when I was very young. Of course, today, King Kong Versus Godzilla can only be enjoyed in an ironic sense, as the film’s special effects were laughably bad even in their day, and it’s not exactly a movie that had a strong narrative to fall back on.

Still, King Kong Versus Godzilla established my love of giant monsters from an early age, and now I’m ecstatic that the two legendary monsters have the chance to have an epic encounter worthy of their names.

The good news is that Kong: Skull Island doesn’t just serve as a means to prep Kong up for his inevitable encounter with Godzilla (though it does that, too), but also makes for a highly entertaining film in its own right.

“The film features numerous awesome creatures besides Kong.”

What struck me as kind of funny is how different the tone is in Skull Island than it was in the 2014 Godzilla film. In the 2014 movie, the film really tried to treat Godzilla with nothing but reverence (sometimes to its detriment, as Godzilla only had a handful of minutes of screen time). It was a serious, dramatic film, and a mostly good one (albeit with some great flaws). But here, Kong is only treated with reverence in select moments. For the most part, Skull Island just wants us to have fun and to show how badass King Kong is. The plot has serious elements, but the tone of the movie is a lot more focused on action, comedy, and fun than Godzilla was.

Personally, I don’t mind that. So many blockbusters these days try to be so dark and edgy, that a genuine good time seems increasingly rare. Though I respect Godzilla’s efforts for trying to present things as serious as possible to respect its titular lizard, Kong: Skull Island serves as a nice counterbalance to it. This is a movie all about having a fun time, and it succeeds.

“Tom Hiddleston seems to be cosplaying as Nathan Drake for the majority of the film.”

Kong: Skull Island takes place shortly after the Vietnam War (making it a prequel to Godzilla). Bill Randa (John Goodman) is a leading member of the government organization Monarch, and is leading an exhibition to the mysterious Skull Island, under the pretense of mapping out the island. He recruits a tracker in James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a photographer in Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and Lieutenant Colonal Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) along with his with entire squadron, who are to escort the mission.

Naturally, it’s anything but an easy ride, as Skull Island is surrounded by perpetual storms, and shortly after arriving, many of their helicopters are downed by the giant ape known as Kong. The surviving members of the group (namely the main characters) then meet up with Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a cooky and eccentric US soldier who’s been stranded on Skull Island since World War II.  The group then plans a way to escape from the island, all while surviving the many dangers it entails, the most prominent of which being vicious, reptilian monsters dubbed “Skullcrawlers.”

It’s silly and simple, yes. But it’s also a lot of fun. The special effects are great, the action scenes are exciting, and the film is a lot more generous with its giant monster fights than the 2014 Godzilla film. Not to mention John C. Reilly gets some terrific comedic moments and one-liners.

“Confirmed: John Goodman makes any movie better.”

Admittedly, the film has its flaws. Namely, the characters are all pretty stock, and pretty much fit into their generic adventure movie roles. It’s a shame, because the film features some great actors, but they only have so much to work with in regards to their characters. John Goodman especially seems underutilized, much like Bryan Cranston was in Godzilla (though admittedly Goodman has a better showing than that).

It’s as if both the 2014 Godzilla and this film showcase the good and bad of both of their approaches to the material. While Godzilla focused too much of its time on the humans at the expense of the giant monsters we all wanted to see, Kong: Skull Island spends so much time on its action that its characters are never allowed to become anything more than archetypes. Hopefully future films in this crossover franchise will learn to find a good balance between entertainment and depth.

Still, Kong: Skull Island is tremendous fun. It delivers solid blockbuster entertainment, and serves as a fitting introduction for King Kong’s placement in this new shared Monsterverse (King Kong is much larger than he’s ever been, with the film making a point to mention that he’s “still growing,” as to make him a worthy opponent to Godzilla). The wait for future giant monster showdowns is looking promising, and hopefully the inevitable encounter between King Kong and Godzilla will be one for the ages.

 

7.5

Where’s Waldo (NES) Review

Where’s Waldo? on the NES is 8-bit Hell. It’s a game so fundamentally flawed and aesthetically unpleasing that it has to rank as one of the worst video games of all time.

For those unfamiliar, Where’s Waldo were a series of picture books which featured complex images featuring the titular character of Waldo hidden amongst the countless other characters and goings-on on the page. Though his candy cane-striped shirt, cap and coke bottle glasses may lead you to think he’d stand out like a sore thumb, the books were really creative in how they hid the character on each page, with plenty of other characters and objects sharing at least one similar trait to Waldo, to throw the reader off.

The books were a lot of fun, but they don’t exactly scream to be translated into video game form. But that’s just what happened on the NES in 1991, and it was a chaotic mess. But don’t take my word for it, just look at a screenshot of the game.

“Good lord, where IS Waldo?! Where is anything?!”

Under any circumstance, this would be one of the absolute ugliest NES games ever. But this is a case where bad graphics actually do equal a bad game, because the whole point is to find Waldo. But how can you tell what anything is when it looks like this?!

Most of the stages use this setup, and players have to find Waldo by hovering a square cursor over different sections of the picture, and selecting where they think Waldo is. If they find Waldo, they move on to the next stage. If not, time is taken away from the countdown timer. If the time reaches zero, it’s game over. Of course, you can’t pause the game at any point, to ensure you don’t cheat.

At the very least, Where’s Waldo? tried to take advantage of the medium in just about the only way it could, with Waldo switching locations in every playthrough. Something a stagnant picture in a book couldn’t accomplish. Not that it really matters, when the game itself makes finding Waldo an unfair situation with its horrendous visuals.

The game features three different difficulty settings, with the harder difficulties giving you less time, a smaller square, and bigger pictures with more characters.

Players are given a fair amount of time to find Waldo, so you might think about just randomly clicking everywhere until you find him. But that won’t serve you any good in the long run, because the time limit isn’t set to each level, but for the whole game.

As it is, Where’s Waldo would already be an abysmal game, but it’s this time limit for the whole game that really kills it, because the developers were seemingly sadistic in finding ways to cheapen this aspect.

You may notice when starting up the game that Waldo is holding a countdown timer…which is already ticking down. That’s right, before you even “play” the game, the clock is already running. But the worst part of it all is that, in between stages, you are taken to a map screen where Waldo walks to the next stage – where the player has no control and has no ability to skip – with the clock still counting down the whole time. And Waldo doesn’t simply walk to the next stage, either. Instead, he walks around aimlessly, zig-zagging all over the place before making his way to stages. It is an obnoxiously cheap trick that makes the game blatantly work against the player.

Where’s Waldo? does try its hand at some variety, with three of the game’s eight stages featuring different gameplay. But these stages may actually be worse than the rest of the game.

There’s a cave stage which is pitch black, with Waldo only showing up sporadically for the player to find them. If they manage to do just that, players then take control of Waldo (complete with slippery controls) and guide him to the exit. An hourglass icon also appears when controlling Waldo, but it’s actually detrimental and takes away a good chunk of time. It’s not like it’s an enemy that chases Waldo, it shows up and looks like a power-up or something. So it’s basically just another cheap trick for first-time players.

Then there’s the subway stage which – good heavens above – is on par with the telephone booth segments from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure as one of the most unnecessary, convoluted, and downright horrible stages in gaming history. Here’s another screenshot to give you an idea.

The goal of this stage is to guide that tiny, blue box (apparently a subway car) to Waldo and his glasses, and then work your way to the other side. The whole thing just looks like a jumbled mess, and because the game never has the courtesy to tell you what’s going on, I didn’t even realize you could change the directions of each space by pressing the B button until my fourth try. The worst part of this stage, however, is the character other than Waldo. This guy moves around the board, and if you come into contact with him, he will subtract from the timer at an absurd pace. You can blast through the previous stages in a minute’s time (dead serious), and this guy can eat up your remaining time in a brief second.

The final stage also changes things up…with a slot machine. The two slots on the sides move at a pace that you can time, but the middle slot moves so fast that getting all three slots to land on Waldo (the stage’s goal) is nothing more than an act of sheer luck. What’s worse, your cursor on this stage moves so slowly between the three buttons, that you’ll likely lose a lot of time going from one button to the next. It’s a disaster.

In case all this was telling enough about the game’s terrible quality, Where’s Waldo’s title screen features some of the most wretched, ear-piercing, headache-inducing “music” in video game history. So in case the game wasn’t hard enough on the eyes, it also assaults your ears.

Simple put, Where’s Waldo? belongs on a shortlist of history’s very worst video games. The Where’s Waldo? books may be colorful and fun, but the game is anything but.

 

1

Lady and the Tramp Review

Lady and the Tramp has to be one of the most iconic of Disney films. Though the 1955 feature may not be among the best features from the House of Mouse, it has enough charm to it to warrant its iconic status.

Lady and the Tramp tells the story of two dogs: Lady, a Cocker Spaniel who lives a ritzy life with an upper-middle-class family (whom she refers to as “Jim Dear” and “Darling,” after the pet names the couple call each other), and the Tramp, a stray mutt just trying to get by.

After Lady’s owners have a new baby, life begins to change for the pampered pup, as she begins to realize she’s getting less attention than she once did, though she loves her family, and the new baby. Lady’s life gets turned upside down, however, when Jim Dear and Darling take a trip, leaving Lady and the baby in the care of “Aunt Sarah,” a ghastly crone with a disdain for dogs.

Not only is Aunt Sarah trouble, but so are her two Siamese cats, who tear up the place and blame it on Lady. Aunt Sarah goes to a pet shop to get Lady a muzzle, which results in the family’s beloved dog running away. After getting lost, Lady becomes acquainted with the Tramp, who helps her get by in life without humans, and the two begin an adventurous romance. All the while, Lady hopes to find a way back home.

It’s simple stuff, but like most Disney movies, the animal characters are cute and easily win the audience over, and it’s a charming enough story to delight both children and adults. It’s true that Disney movies reached a whole new level of entertainment value during their “Renaissance” era of the 1990s, and its only been in recent years that the non-Pixar animated features from Disney have reached a greater level of sophistication in their storytelling. So Lady and the Tramp falls under the umbrella of simplicity that was Disney’s 1950’s output, but again, it has the right amount of charm to bring smiles to faces (especially if you’re a dog lover like myself, though this makes the dog pound scene twice as heartbreaking).

The film is well animated, as you would expect from Disney, though their are some notably choppy moments in editing. But the animals all have a fluidity to their movements, and like most Disney features, the animators gave them as much personality in their appearance as the actors did in their voices.

Lady and the Tramp is also notable for including some of the most iconic scenes in not only Disney’s library, but in all of American cinema. The famous spaghetti scene has been paid homage and parodied countless times through the decades, to the point that younger audiences may not realize that it originated here.

Lady and the Tramp is too simple to be ranked among the absolute best Disney animated features, but it’s filled with so many delightful little moments and cute animal characters that it hardly matters. It’s a sweet, innocently romantic movie that remains heartwarming even today.

 

7.5