Dawn of the New Decade

“Entering the new decade like”

Greetings and salutations, weary traveler! A new decade is upon us, for it is now 2020. If I were a Dark Souls NPC, this is the part where I’d start laughing maniacally.

I know what you’re thinking, “shouldn’t I have posted this on January 1st?” Ideally, yes. But honestly, after my Frozen II review had been delayed for way too long, I knew that had to be my first writing of the decade. It just had to be. As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, Frozen is both one of my favorite films, and one of particular importance to me. Thus, because it took me so long to finish my review of its sequel, it made sense as the one and only option as my first writing of the 2020s.

Why not read my Frozen II review again, while we’re on the subject?

If you’re curious what else I have planned for the near future, I… what’s that? You’re not curious…

Well, I’ll tell you anyway.

I hope to finish my reviews of the Star Wars films, continuing in episodic order. I most recently reviewed the original Star Wars feature, Episode IV – A New Hope, which means next up is the best Star Wars feature, The Empire Strikes Back. Then of course I’ll cap off the original trilogy with Return of the Jedi, followed by 2015’s delightful return to form, The Force Awakens. It’s just a shame they stopped making Star Wars films after that. But at least they went out on a high note, I suppose…

… Okay, okay. I’ll review The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker as well. *Sigh*

Along with those, I also plan on reviewing Knives Out, another Rian Johnson film that, like The Last Jedi, seems to believe that swerves and twists for the sake of swerves and twists equate to originality and creativity. Apparently Mr. Johnson isn’t aware that M. Night Shyamalan has already proven on numerous occasions that isn’t the case. Oh please, don’t make me re-watch Glass!

 

Yeah, apparently I got a lot of Friends gifs…

Anyway, I also have a list of games to review, so hopefully I’ll start knocking those off said list soon enough. Mostly leftover 2019 games, but some older ones as well.

In fact, I have a schedule that I hope to stick to for 2020 in regards to the number of movie reviews, game reviews and top 10 lists per month. Fingers crossed I follow through!

As you may have guessed, with the new year comes award season. Everyone and their dog seems to do it, and I am no exception. I plan on doing my best of 2019 lists in not too long (I hope). But also seeing as we’re in a bright, shiny new decade, I also hope to do some ‘Best of the Decade’ awards reflecting on the movies and video games of the 2010s. And maybe that will lead me to make retroactive decade lists for the 2000s and 1990s. Maybe even the 1980s as well, seeing as I was born during that decade. Yeah, I was born in September of ’89, so we’re grasping at straws here, but any excuse to revisit 80s movies is a good one, I say. Funny thing is the 80s really stick out to me with movies, while the 90s really stick out in regards to video games. I don’t know why I pointed that out, but I thought it was interesting.

Oh yeah, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to finally make reviewing TV shows a thing. So again, fingers crossed.

I’m hoping to review the three currently-existing seasons of Stranger Things, as well as The Mandalorian, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and maybe some others. Also, now that I have Disney+, maybe I’ll start reviewing The Simpsons. But just the classic seasons. I don’t know if I could stand to watch the more contemporary seasons. I would rather watch Glass again than watch new Simpsons.

Well… actually I’m not sure about that. That’s a lose-lose scenario if ever there were one. But yeah, classic Simpsons is still on the cards.

At any rate, this “New Decade Post” is coming dangerously close to becoming one of my filler posts that haunted 2019, so let’s wrap this up before that happens.

Anywho, I hope you lovely people are all having a great, productive new year so far. May the new decade be one of great new beginnings and some cool returning stuff, I guess. Hopefully the next time I’m writing a blog like this, it’s updating my progress on learning about makin’ the vidya James.

The 2019 Christmas Special/Five Year Anniversary Celebration!!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! How about that Rise of Skywalker, huh?

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is coming to a close, and with it, the decade itself. Mayhaps I should start doing some ‘Best of the Decade’ awards along with my yearly ones?

But let’s think about that a little later. It’s Christmas, holmes! And being Christmas Day, that also means – you guessed it – it’s WWE wrestler Rusev’s birthday!

Oh yeah, it also means it’s the anniversary of Wizard Dojo’s launch!

Okay, so technically I launched this website earlier in December of 2014, but decided to wait to post anything until Christmas Day of that year. So Christmas is the official launch of the Dojo. And this year is a big one, as today marks the five-year anniversary of Wizard Dojo! You know, five years. As in half a decade.

So let’s try to make this Christmas/Anniversary special a good one!

So pull yourself away from those new Playstations Santa Clause brought you for a few minutes, grab some hot cocoa, a Victorian-era top hat, and take a seat to spend your precious time on this sacred holiday not with family and friends, but reading the crap I write. ‘Tis the season.

So let’s get crackin’ and get this show on the road!

Continue reading “The 2019 Christmas Special/Five Year Anniversary Celebration!!”

The 900th Blog Spectacularsaurus

 

That’s right, Kevin! I have finally amassed 900 blogs! The road to the big 1-0-0-0 is on!

“I’m kind of like Yoda in a way. Except not at all.”

Thank you, my dear Padawan readers, for sticking around and reading all of my nonsense. You deserve a big round of applause!

I have to admit, I’m going to have to cut this milestone blog a wee bit short. I still have Star Wars and Frozen II reviews to write, not to mention my annual Christmas special. So let’s not drag this out so I can go write those things instead. Don’t worry your pretty little heads, I’ll make up for it in the 1000th blog spectacularsaurus, which I’ll surely make a big deal.

Here’s a gif of Wallace eating a chunk of the moon.

Thanks again for the continued support, dollface! I hope you’re looking forward to those aforementioned reviews, and whatever the new year will bring to the Dojo. Maybe I’ll finally, finally start making progress in video game design, which I can then update here. And maybe I’ll finally start making videos of some capacity in the new year. I’m still not sure what I’ll do for my videos, but seeing as I hate damn near every YouTuber I’ve ever seen, I’ll probably at least try to avoid doing…whatever the hell it is they’re doing. I’ll probably have no audience, but whatever.

I actually have a list of movies and video games (and TV shows!) I plan on reviewing, and have – believe it or not – finally managed to start chipping away at said list. So here’s hoping the next few months prove prosperous for ye old Dojo.

Okay, now I’m turning this milestone post into one of my filler posts. So let’s wrap this up now.  Thanks again for your readership, yadda yadda yadda, gonna write more stuff. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go review Revenge of the Sith…

Frozen and Me

I just got back from seeing Frozen II and I have to say, as a fan of the original, that was a very rewarding sequel.

I plan on writing my review for Frozen II soon, but first I’d like to give some early impressions of the film, due to reasons that I’ll explain right now.

When Frozen was released in 2013, it was quite unlike anything I’d seen. Internet cynics would probably lambast me for saying that, seeing as it’s a Disney musical and thus ‘can’t be art’ yadda yadda yadda. But as someone who has been a lifelong fan of Disney, I admit there were still things about the animation studio’s output that I always felt were outdated. Frozen, as it turned out, was the Disney movie I always wanted, but never knew I’d actually get.

As much as I appreciated Disney films, I never would have put them on the same level as Studio Ghibli or Pixar’s animated features. Ghibli and Pixar would craft stories that were driven by the characters. Disney, meanwhile, used characters who were defined by a small handful of archetypes, and seemed to exist for the sole purpose of pushing the plot forward. Compared to the characters of Studio Ghibli or Pixar, well, there was no comparison.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a plot/concept-based movie. But knowing what animated storytelling was capable of due to the likes of Ghibli and Pixar, it felt like Disney was unable/unwilling to break away from their formula. Granted, Disney movies were mostly good, but kind of interchangeable really. I could name several Studio Ghibli or Pixar movies that would rank among my favorites, because they all felt distinct. But I felt I could pick one Disney movie to represent the entire lot because, well, they very much had their formula down pat (in case you’re interested, I would have listed Beauty and the Beast in a pre-Frozen world).

But Frozen changed all that. In one fell swoop, it addressed and rectified the issues I felt were holding Disney back. Sure, the archetypes were there, but there ended up being so much more to these characters than what was on the surface. What seemed to be marketed as “just another Disney Princess movie but with two princesses,” ended up being the most thoughtful and meaningful film in the Disney canon. Said princesses were fully fleshed-out characters, the comic foil (Olaf) existed for more than just comic relief (though he was also great at just that). Even the Disney Prince, the most bland and uninteresting of Disney’s archetypes, was given an overhaul, and the film featured one of the very few plot twists that genuinely surprised me.

Frozen subverted expectations before subverting expectations was cool. And honestly, it did so way, way better than the works that have attempted it since. Perhaps The Last Jedi would have been less polarized if Rian Johnson had studied how Frozen subverted expectations, as opposed to seemingly writing off what J.J. Abrams and company started with its predecessor. No doubt Frozen did to Disney traditions what Rian Johnson could only hope to do with Star Wars.

On top of defying tradition and giving new depth to Disney storytelling, Frozen was also a hell of a lot of fun, and the catchiness of the songs needs no explanation. Again, the cynical and snarky would love to ridicule me for saying something like this, but Frozen was a perfect movie (and certainly THE perfect Disney movie). Sure, naming my favorite Disney movie still has an easy answer, but now it’s because there’s one that’s just so damn good, as opposed to one I simply feel best utilized the studio’s formula (I still love you, Beauty and the Beast).

Now I have to get a bit more personal. On top of being the Disney movie I always wanted/never expected, Frozen also had a profound impact on me personally. Sorry to sound like a sad sack, but I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Social Phobias. I have my entire life, and in that particular point in time I had been feeling especially low. But Frozen, a Disney movie about a magical snow princess and her sister, believe it or not, helped me better understand and subsequently deal with my demons. And I have been improving myself ever since.

Through Elsa, the snow queen who gives Frozen its name, Disney somehow created a character who serves as a universal and sympathetic allegory to such issues (and many others). Many people have also viewed Elsa as an allegory for homosexuality, and more power to them. But that goes back to what made Frozen so special: What other Disney movie featured characters and elements that were allegorical and left so much room for interpretation?

Again we go back to the internet smartasses, who would no doubt laugh at me for claiming Frozen – a kids movie (and perhaps even more so, a popular movie) – of all things, is what has helped me better understand myself. Surely they would point out all the arthouse and indie films that deal with mental issues and such in a literal manner. Well, I’ve seen a good number of such films, but even with the good ones, I’ve felt a bit of a disconnect with them. Along with a tendency to feel more than a little bit like award-bait, many such films tend to display mental issues and the like as a hopeless tragedy, or something that is simply to be pitied or vilified. But through Elsa, Frozen told audiences how these issues – even though they may be hard, and sad, and tragic – are a fact of life for many. These things shouldn’t be feared, but we should learn to accept them and be willing to face our issues to better ourselves. Elsa may have been the antagonist, but not because she was the typical Disney villain who was out to cause evil because reasons, but because people were ignorant and feared her, which caused her to run away from her problems and create the core conflict of the movie. It’s through the selfless love of her sister Anna, the film’s protagonist, that Elsa in turn learns to love herself.

Yeah, it’s a bit deeper than the usual Disney fare.

For one reason or another, Elsa was a far more relatable character to me than anyone found in “more intellectual” films. I may now be a 30-year old male, and (as far as I know) I lack magical ice powers, but Elsa is indeed the movie character I relate to over all others. I am not the slightest bit ashamed to admit that.

Frozen, of course, eventually became a worldwide phenomenon. Along with Pokemon and Harry Potter, it’s probably among the biggest pop-culture phenomenons to have occurred in my lifetime. While it was great to see something so good be rewarded with recognition, the fact that we live in the often-abhorrent internet age naturally meant that as soon as Frozen became popular, it became ‘cool’ to ridicule it (how dare children like things!). But despite generic internet contrarianism (a YouTuber complaining about stuff? Oh, how original), that first year or so of Frozen-Mania, when the film was absolutely ubiquitous, was probably the first of maybe two instances in the 2010s where the world seemed to find something that made it genuinely happy and brought people together in a way that’s incredibly rare in this cold, disconnected internet age (the second instance would be the release of Pokemon Go).

Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film in the world for nearly six years (it was somehow displaced by that uncanny valley Lion King remake. Though I suppose Frozen can still claim to be the highest-grossing good animated film). And yes, a sequel became an inevitability. As with any sequel, it’s a risky move. That’s especially true of something that had no pre-conceived expectations (Frozen may be very loosely inspired by Hans Christen Anderson’s The Snow Queen, but really only in the fact that it features a snow queen). Again, Frozen originally just looked liked the “Two Princesses” Disney movie. No one would have guessed it would become what it did.

I should point out now that, ahead of its release, I myself rolled my eyes at the advertisements to the film, as I – in my certain knowledge – knew it was just going to be another example of the Disney formula. Never before or since has a movie made me look like a fool so beautifully.

Here we are, six years later, and Frozen II is a reality. I’m sad to see a number of ‘professional’ critics were cynical even ahead of its release (and some after). Yes, the success of the original surely swayed Disney to make the sequel, but if this were a mere cash-grab, it would have happened years ago, and simply repeat the same beats as the original. This is a genuine sequel, and it’s sad to see some still write it off basically because it’s a sequel and thus “can’t be art.”

Earlier this year, Pixar released Toy Story 4. While that particular movie was decently good on its own merits, it paled in comparison to its three preceding films and, at its worst, retroactively rendered its immediate predecessor pointless. Yet Frozen II is the one cynics are targeting as being “all about the money.” It seems a bit hypocritical, considering that Toy Story 4 is the fourth entry in a series that already wrapped up with its third entry, and is a series that’s literally about toys (I love Toy Story, and Toy Story 4 certainly wasn’t bad, but c’mon, if any party in this scenario is guilty of milking a franchise, well…..).  I am aware that Toy Story 4 currently has higher meta-ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and its ilk, but I don’t see that as a reflection of the actual quality between the movies, so much as yet another reason why we should stop giving Rotten Tomatoes and company any credibility and form opinions ourselves. It also seems kind of strange that franchises primarily targeted at young girls are usually the ones that come under fire for “being greedy.” But that’s perhaps a discussion for another day.

Having seen Frozen II, I genuinely felt it was a worthy follow-up to the original. I hope to review it ASAP, but part of me wonders if I should review it. After all I’ve said of the personal impact Frozen had on me, no doubt many would think I’m an unreliable source due to my love of its predecessor (which seems a bit strange, when you think about it. Who exactly are sequels made for if not fans of the original?). But I would say, if there are means to justify biases, x-thing helped me understand and deal with mental illness seems like a pretty decent one. It certainly has a stronger case than it’s a sequel ergo it’s bad, I like to think. And in my defense, I do try my best to still be fair and honest when I review things. Sure, I have preferences (I am a human being, after all, not a robot), but that doesn’t mean I can’t also view things from a critical lens. I could have easily awarded every Hayao Miyazaki directed film a 10/10 based on personal feelings and history, but of the eight of them I’ve reviewed so far, their scores range from 7s to 10s (Miyazaki still unquestionably makes good movies, so nothing on the lower half on the scale from him, admittedly).

Yes, I honestly felt that Toy Story 4, while decent, was a retrograde sequel that undermined Toy Story 3, while Frozen II felt like a meaningful continuation that added to the growth of the characters and world of the original.

The big question has to be: Is Frozen II as good as the original? Well, that’s kind of an unfair question at this point in time. Again, I have been praising Frozen as Disney’s finest achievement for six years now, and it has played a surprisingly big influence in my life for that same amount of time. It’s kind of difficult to compare. I will reiterate that Frozen II is an exceptional sequel that – like any good sequel – feels different from its predecessor while simultaneously adding to it. It was worth the wait, and it feels like something that came from the heart of its creators, as opposed to a token sequel merely capitalizing on the success of the original.

I hope to review Frozen II in the near future, and maybe after better analyzing it and contemplating it, I can give a proper comparison between it and its predecessor. But at the moment it feels like an unfair task on myself. Frozen II is an incredible sequel, but with the impact the original had on me, can I of all people make that comparison? It would be like if I saw a really great anime movie, and someone were to ask me if it compares to Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. It’s like, well no. Of course not. It’s an unfair battle.

I loved Frozen II, and yes, I even cried. When I do review it, expect it to be pretty glowing. It genuinely saddens me that a number of critics are writing it off because of that ‘II‘ in the title, because the film is more than that. But whether or not I think it matches the original is, for once, not a matter of the film’s quality itself, but a testament to what the first film accomplished, and what it did for me.

200 Movie Reviews!

I have finally amassed 200 movie reviews!

That’s right, Kevin! My review of Joker marked the big 2-0-0!

Okay, so technically speaking I am now at 203 movie reviews, and Maleficent was actually the 200th. But, if we go back in time in the Dojo’s DeLorean, three of my movie reviews were for short films that were about five minutes in length (Frozen Fever, Sanjay’s Super Team and Riley’s First Date?). I listed them as “mini-reviews” and, although all three reviews were positive, they weren’t given a number grade. I just didn’t know how to rate something that’s five minutes using the same scale as I use for feature films (or even just half-hour shorts). So if we view the ungraded “mini-reviews” as separate, then Joker is my 200th movie review. Huzzah!

Admittedly, it did take me quite a while to reach this milestone. This Christmas will mark Wizard Dojo’s fifth anniversary, and I’ve only just now reached 200 movie reviews. Compare that to my game reviews, when I reached 200 in about April of 2017. A bit quicker there, and I really don’t know how, considering video games tend to be exceedingly longer than movies. Well, I suppose if I stick to my plan of only purchasing a handful of new games next year, I can catch up with the movies.

You can check out all 200(plus) of my movie reviews on my aptly-titled Movie Reviews page. Here’s hoping the next 200 won’t take me so long. Pick up the pace with my movie reviews. Y’know, on top of learning video game design, making videos and that other stuff I want to do… Maybe I’m stretching myself too thin.

Anyway, thanks for sticking around for 200(plus) movie reviews! Here’s too many, many more! Onto the next milestone!

I Has Pokemon Sword!

I now has (yes, has) Pokemon Sword version. Does Nintendo still use the terminology “version” to distinguish Pokemon games anymore? At any rate, this is cool not only because it means a new Pokemon adventure, but also because I have no more video games on pre-order for the rest of 2019! This, of course, means I will have ample time to catch up on my back catalogue, as well as my game reviews.

Sure, there are a couple of other 2019 games that look interesting, but I’m so inundated with games I’m just gonna have to stave it off for a while. Of course, Christmas is coming up, and if any of my more generous/bestest friends happen to be reading this, I’m perfectly fine with getting some games as gifts. *Hint hint wink wink*

Anyways, along with playing Pokemon Sword (what, you thought I was going to get Shield version? Is anyone getting Shield version?), I will try to catch up on other games from 2019 like Sekiro: Shadows Dies Twice and Astral Chain, along with some older titles. As for the near future, I’m hoping to review Luigi’s Mansion 3, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga as soon as possible. That’s on top of some movie reviews as well, like Joker and Dojo Rabbit (I have no excuse why I haven’t reviewed them yet. Sorry). Also with It: Chapter 2 being released on digital platforms soon, I’ll (finally) get around to reviewing that duology. And of course, Frozen II is a must review for me, and hopefully I’ll have my review for the holiday special Olaf’s Frozen Adventure done before that.

I’ve reviewed most of the movies I’ve seen in theaters this year, with the exceptions of the above mentioned that I just haven’t got to yet (plus Judy. But I may wait to review that one until I get all these things done. No rush on that one). I’ve actually grown quite pleased with ow many movies I’ve managed to review that were released this year. Unfortunately it seems in regards to games, I was still buying more while I was still playing others. As a result, I haven’t finished a number of them and haven’t been able to review as many as I’d like. Here’s hoping these next few months give me the time to make up for lost time.

I’m really going to have to crank these out quickly in the coming days if I hope to stick to my plan of reviewing every Star Wars movie before The Rise of Skywalker releases in late December (sans Solo: A Star Wars Story, which I’ve already reviewed).

What am I going on about this again for? Didn’t I already ramble about this recently?

In short, with no more games on pre-order until Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March, it looks like I finally have a good window of time to catch up on things. And also yay Pokemon and all that!

The Obligatory “Coming Soon to the Dojo” Update for November 2019

Hey hey! It’s November…already. Did everyone have a happy Halloween? I know I did, even if I unfortunately didn’t manage to have a costume this year (I ordered a custom-made one, but did so too late, so I’m still waiting for it to arrive… there’s always next year).

Apologies that I once again failed to write a Halloween-centric top 5/10 list. I liked doing those back during the Dojo’s first two Halloweens. Hopefully next year I can go all out with the Halloween goodies. On the plus side, I did review the original Luigi’s Mansion to celebrate Halloween, so I didn’t leave the Dojo un-festive for the season. I would have liked to review Luigi’s Mansion 3, but Nintendo decided to release it on the day of Halloween. I guess I can understand what they were going for, but my beef is that Nintendo kept marketing Luigi’s Mansion 3’s release as being “just in time for Halloween.”

Releasing a game on Halloween is not “just in time” for Halloween. Releasing it any time in October before the 31st would be “just in time” for Halloween. Releasing it on Halloween is just that, releasing it on Halloween!

In short, I reviewed the first Luigi’s Mansion for Halloween due to the timing. Though I suppose now I’ve reviewed all the existing Luigi’s Mansion games so far (including the arcade title), so I guess now my review for Luigi’s Mansion 3 will feel all the more complete when it’s done.

Man, how many times have I already said “Halloween” and “Luigi’s Mansion” in this post?

Talking of Luigi’s Mansion (for the umpteenth time), I picked up my copy of Luigi’s Mansion 3 today. So I’ll do my best to review that in the near future, along with the following games that I’m ready to review…

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

And of course, another Wario title sometime this month, as has been my 2019 tradition for no particular reason whatsoever.

In addition, I hope to get around to finishing Sekiro, Astral Chain, Ni no Kuni Remastered, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey in the not-too-distant future.

The good news is now that I have Luigi’s Mansion 3, I only have two upcoming games on pre-order, the smallest amount of pre-ordered games I’ve had in years. And one of those games is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which doesn’t come out until March. So it looks like I have a good window of opportunity to catch up on games and review them.

This of course brings me to another point. I mentioned in a post at the earlier part of this year that I’m planning on purchasing fewer games in the future. Certainly not because I’ve lost any love for them (technically speaking, they’re probably better on the whole now than they’ve ever been), but because they’re too damn long and too damn expensive. And I have other things I have/want to do with my time, and I don’t want to be reduced to eating cold beans with a stick. Plus, remembering how in my youth there would be a handful of games I would replay for years, I would kind of like to rekindle that quality over quantity approach. Getting games that I’ll want to play over and over, as opposed to ones that demand me to surrender entire days’ worth of time to them.

Although I kind of caved and bought more games this year than I initially intended, I did buy fewer games this year than the past few years. But next year, I’m really going to try and aim for like four or five full-priced retail games for all of 2020 (once again, there could be exceptions if a game I’d know I’d have to get – like a Super Mario Galaxy 3 or Bloodborne 2 – was announced for an imminent release after I’ve reached my self-imposed limit. But those are quite the exceptions).

As I’ve stated to the point of it becoming a running joke here on my site, I would like to further my studies of video game development, as to develop my own game(s) someday. And I would also like to do something video game related in video form at some point. So even though fewer new purchases would mean fewer reviews for contemporary games, I would still use this site to catalogue my game development progress, and post/link whatever videos I may make here as well.

Because video games have become such an investment and commitment, I have to limit myself if I want to seriously delve deeper into my creative outlets. But don’t worry, I still have plenty of retro games in my library I can review in-between reviews for 2020 releases (I also have a few games from a recent history that still need reviewing, key among them being Persona 5).  And even though I may be reviewing less new games, I could always write other types of blogs about the ones I’m playing (again, if I play a game I can keep going back to, why not find new things to write about them?).

Basically, I’m writing this post to reiterate things I’ve written here before… This site ain’t going anywhere, but reviews for new video games will unfortunately have to slowdown. On the plus side, that will open up my time not just for game development and video shenanigans, but also more time for movie reviews and those long-promised, oft-delayed top 10 lists. Hopefully this also means I’ll write less filler posts like this one…

Speaking of movie reviews, I have a few of those planned for the near future as well. Though I have an extensive checklist of reviews I hope to get to at some point, for the rest of November and December I will prioritize movies I’ve seen in theaters, and older movies that relate to them (and by that I mean the entire Star Wars saga in preparation for The Rise of Skywalker). I really have no excuse why I haven’t reviewed Joker yet. And since I’ve seen It Chapter 2 and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, expect reviews for those movies and their predecessors as well. I also really want to review all four Mad Max movies, but I may just do the first one in the near future, then wait until after I’ve reviewed the aforementioned movies before I do the rest.

Also, Frozen II comes out in three weeks from today. Of course that’s one I’m going to review. But since I’ve already reviewed the original (which is one of my 10/10 reviews, by the way), I’ll review the short film/holiday special, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure before then (a short film which, generic title aside, was rather charming).

So yes, hopefully the remaining posts I write in 2019 will be these, and other, worthwhile posts. And hopefully this will be the last “here’s what I’m going to write” post for a while. 2020 may see some changes to what I write here at the Dojo to some degree, but hopefully you stick around and enjoy. And once again, happy belated Halloween.

Francis Ford Coppola, You’re Despicable

*Alternative title: Settle down, Mr. Coppola, it’s Time for your Nap*

Recently, filmmaker Martin Scorsese put his foot in his mouth with some blatantly ignorant statements in regards to Marvel movies. When asked his opinion on Marvel films, rather than simply stating that they weren’t his cup of tea, instead made the blanket statement that Marvel movies “aren’t cinema.”

Suffice to say, Mr. Scorsese received some much-deserved tongue-lashings from the people who work hard to make Marvel movies a part of cinema. And by “a part of cinema,” I actually mean the absolute biggest part of cinema today. Fans of the Marvel films also (rightfully) took offense to Scorsese’s dismissively ignorant statements.

Well, it seems Martin Scorsese has at least one cheerleader on his side, as fellow out-of-touch geezer Hollywood sacred cow Francis Ford Coppola has rallied to the defense of his old frat buddy from the always-overhyped New Hollywood era (an era which we really should stop referring to as “new” unless we mean it with absolute irony). And Coppola’s words are even more ignorant, condescending and pompous than Scorsese’s.

As ignorant as Scorsese’s claims that Marvel movies “aren’t cinema” were, at least he came across as attempting to be respectful even in his ignorance. But Coppola, when asked for his response on the matter, came across as little more than a self-righteous jackass. His exact quote went as follows.

“When Martin Scorsese says that Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right, because we expect to learn something from cinema. We expect to gain something—some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Calm down there, grandpa. Just because the new music the kids are listening’ to doesn’t sound like what was around in your day doesn’t mean it’s the devil.

Seriously, what an ass.

Now I have to needlessly defend myself, because despite the fact that Coppola’s words are entirely blanketed, ridiculing the many people that make Marvel movies as well as the millions of people who see them, because he’s one of Hollywood’s deities, anyone who calls him on his bullcrap will be labelled as an angry fanboy or whatever. So allow me to say that I don’t care if old man Coppola doesn’t like Marvel movies. As I said about Scorsese, some people just won’t like some types of movies. That’s fine. He’s entitled to not like Marvel movies.

It’s not that he doesn’t like Marvel movies that’s the problem, it’s that through his complete dismissal of them – particularly by referring to them as “despicable” – Mr. Coppola comes across as little more than a self-righteous ass, who has nothing but utter contempt for the average moviegoer.

“The “New Hollywood” generation in a nutshell.”

Both Scorsese and (far more so) Coppala don’t come across as intellectual filmmakers critiquing the younger generation of their craft with these statements. More, they sound like a bunch of butthurt old men who still can’t accept the fact that their preferred style of movie hasn’t been the dominant force in cinema for decades (in fact, their time at the top was actually very short lived, all things considered). Their words don’t come across as wisdom (which I’m sure they think they do), just sour grapes. Nothing more.

Believe it or not, Mr. Coppola, but movies were originally created for entertainment’s sake. And while it’s great that they developed in so many great ways over time and audiences can learn from them, entertainment is still kind of important. At least Scorsese’s films can claim to have that element to them.

And yes, Mr. Coppola, even big franchises and super hero movies can teach audiences something. Just because they may not be self-righteous character studies or anti-war dramas doesn’t mean they can’t also be about something. Just because people actually, y’know, want to see them doesn’t mean they can’t also be art. But you know what, even if a movie is solely aiming for entertainment, that’s fine too. And you know what, even something like that should be considered art if it’s made well enough.

It’s especially Coppola’s use of the word “despicable” that most paints him as a pompous ass. What’s despicable about them? That they’re franchised and make money and have merchandise? I get that these Hollywood types love to spew the same, generic anti-capitalist rhetoric (while also being millionaires), but hey, it’s not evil if these filmmakers and studios want to make money. Maybe that doesn’t fit your worldview. Okay, you’re allowed that. But ‘despicable?’ Nope.

It’s also a funny choice of word, calling movies about heroes and good vs. evil as “despicable,” considering this is the same guy who makes movies about mobsters which conveniently skip over the atrocities the mob committed towards innocent civilians. Funny how The Godfather fails to bring up aspects such as human trafficking, and racketeering that sent many into poverty, it’s almost like a convenient way to paint monsters as sympathetic… But, y’know, heroes in silly costumes fighting alien villains or whatever, that’s despicable. Sure thing there, buddy.

Such statements from the likes of Coppola are just another glaring example of Hollywood’s utter disconnect with the average moviegoer. Coppola is speaking as a pompous filmmaker who makes movies for himself and his buddies, who either see these movies for free or are so rich they don’t even have to think about the cost. Well, they’re allowed to do that if they want. But the average person, who actually has to spend their hard-earned money to see movies whenever they can manage the spare time, have a tendency to prefer using said time and money on something entertaining that they’ll remember, over something that a self-righteous filmmaker made to preach to them. Heaven forbid after a rough week of work or school or what have you, that most people would want to spend their money to unwind with a superhero romp.

Yeah yeah, I know I’m sounding harsh. But honestly, Coppola’s words were harsh, condescending, and belittling to many, many people. So I kind of find it hard to go easy on the man right now. At least Scorsese just seemed “out-of-touch” ignorant with his comments (and at least Scorsese has made a good few movies that deserve their praise), but Francis Ford Coppola’s comments just paint him as a royal ass, who is so used to being surrounded by Hollywood types who treat him like a god, that he can’t comprehend that the rest of the world has moved on to other, far more entertaining movies.

You’re Wrong, Scorsese. Marvel Movies ARE Cinema

*Alternative title: Go Home, Scorsese. You’re Drunk*

Martin Scorsese is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in history, and one of Hollywood’s ‘sacred cows.’ But recently, he made a statement which  – in its blanketed ignorance – paints him as part of the problem with the world of cinema.

The basis of Scorsese’s claims is that Marvel movies “aren’t cinema,” and that they are more akin to “theme parks.” This, of course, just comes off as the latest in the never-ending examples of the overblown egos and self-importance of Hollywood and its “serious” filmmakers and critics. It’s a display of the utter contempt they have for the average moviegoer, and the films that don’t directly pander to themselves, that makes so many in the industry so very hard to like.

Here is Mr. Scorsese’s exact statement in regards to Marvel movies.

“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

The statement is profusely arrogant and condescending on Scorsese’s part.  Granted, not every type of movie is for everyone. But Scorsese’s comments aren’t a display of a personal disinterest. Rather, the things Scorsese is saying are entirely dismissive to everyone who works in front of and behind the cameras on Marvel movies, and insulting to the audiences that continue to see them (which, by the way, are in far greater numbers than the audience for any Scorsese film).

Scorsese briefly tries to save face by throwing in the words “as well made as they are” in regards to Marvel movies. But it means very little to say that they’re “well made” while simultaneously stating that they don’t qualify as cinema, and that the actors could only ever possibly “do the best they can under the circumstances” if they’re cast in a superhero film. Way to dismiss any and all acting performances that go into these movies just because they’re in a genre you have a blatant bias against. Hey, at least when these Marvel movies re-use actors, they’re playing the same characters and furthering their stories, as opposed to casting Robert De Niro as different sociopath archetypes who may as well be the same character in the same story. But I digress.

When I first read Scorsese’s statements on Marvel movies, it reminded me of something else the famed director said way back in 2004. After The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King achieved the biggest clean sweep in Oscar history, complete with a Best Picture win (a rare instance when the Academy actually knew what they were doing), Scorsese was asked if he’d ever be interested in making fantasy movies. Scorsese’s response…

Real movies with real people.” 

It’s a predictably ego-centric answer from a director who has long-since been made out to be a Hollywood deity, though one I’m sure he himself though sounded profound. If he’s not interested in making fantasy movies, that’s fine. But again, his response was both dismissive and condescending.

“I don’t know, I find the likes of Captain America and Gandalf to be closer to “real people” than violent psychopaths like Travis Bickle.”

Fantasy movies, whether they be sword and sorcery or super heroes or what have you, are fully capable of delivering deep stories that connect with human emotion and psychology. They’re merely different methods of doing so.

Believe it or not, Mr. Scorsese, but films don’t have to follow your rulebook in order to qualify as films. There are these wonderful things called “styles,” “genres” and “mediums.” There are different kinds of artists with all kinds of different voices and tastes. They may not all be good, but just because their path doesn’t directly follow yours doesn’t mean their works should be disqualified, or that they “don’t count.” Maybe you don’t care for a specific genre of movie. Okay, that’s fine. But saying that it’s “not cinema” and just waving off their very existence is profoundly arrogant.

By now, I’m sure the film buffs who would rally to Scorsese’s defense and jump at any opportunity to lambast super hero films and the like would assume I’m just a rambling Marvel fanboy, or that I’m trying to be cool and edgy by talking bad about one of cinema’s most acclaimed directors. But I’d like to point out that I can’t remember the last time I read a Marvel comic book, nor have I enjoyed every MCU film (Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk and Captain Marvel were pretty mediocre, and the less said of Iron Man 3, the better). Nor do I hate Scorsese’s body of work, some of it (like Goodfellas) I’ve quite enjoyed, though I admit I find Raging Bull to be an overrated bore.

I’m merely writing this because Scorsese’s comments relished in their own ignorance. And it’s mindsets like those represented in Scorsese’s comments that are holding the world of cinema back in many ways. Both those in Hollywood and film buffs put themselves on a pedestal, and treat themselves like they’re part of an elite club. And the common moviegoer, or those “lesser” filmmakers who make films audiences actually want to see aren’t allowed to join. It’s a level of pretentiousness that seems to constantly ooze out of Hollywood types, who in turn act completely dumbfounded as to why they get such a bad reputation. Scorsese may be a great filmmaker in many respects, but with statements like these, he proves he’s part of Hollywood’s problem.

For all the open-mindedness Hollywood likes to give itself a pat on the back for, they sure do have a pretty closed mind when it comes to their own  mediums. It’s like they want to punish movies for making money, or being crowd-pleasers, or if they’re rooted in fantasy or created with animation, etc. If Hollywood were half as open-minded as they bragged themselves up to be, they’d have no qualms with putting such films on equal levels with their preferred style. They should judge every film by how good they are individually, as opposed to considering certain types of films to be innately superior or inferior to others.

Though the world of video games has issues of its own, this “country club” mentality of those within its industry certainly isn’t one of them. In these regards, the video game industry has been completely open-minded as to what constitutes a great work in their medium. There’s never been a differentiating between where or how a game was made in terms of the quality of the end product. There’s never been a stigma against genres or franchises or commercially successful works. Sure, the self-righteous hipster types like Ben Croshaw tried their damndest to replicate the ignorances of the movie world and integrate it into the world of video games during the early 2010s. But thankfully, those clowns ultimately lost their battle, and no one in their right mind has adopted their self-indulgent contempt against popular works.

So while “serious” filmmakers may ridicule popular movies as “not being cinema,” the video game world happily embraces such popular works. I think it’s safe to say the Super Mario franchise has produced many of the most acclaimed video games ever made, while also being extremely cartoonish in nature and having mass commercial appeal, not to mention numerous sequels and countless spinoffs. Not every game with the name ‘Super Mario’ in the title may be an all-time great, but there’s no built in stigma against it for its tone, success, or commercial standing that prevents the Mario games that deserve such praise from earning it.

The world of movies, and the likes of Martin Scorsese, could certainly learn a thing or two about broadening their outlook on their own medium. Perhaps the best retort to Scorsese’s indulgently ignorant claims comes from Samuel L. Jackson, who of course has portrayed Agent Nick Fury in more than a few of the MCU films.

Mr. Jackson’s response went as follows…

“I mean that’s like saying Bugs Bunny ain’t funny. Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either. Everybody’s got an opinion, so I mean it’s okay. Ain’t going to stop nobody from making movies.”

Essentially, Jackson found a polite way to say “everyone has their own taste, but don’t be a pompous ass and disregard the hard work that goes into things that don’t fit your niche, as well as their audience.” Well said, Mr. Jackson.

So Mr. Scorsese, the point is it’s okay if real people enjoy watching Marvel movies. While no category of movie will ever be absolutely good, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided mostly good movies so far. They may not be your kind of movies, but they are still very much cinema.

As for Mr. Scorsese using “theme parks” as a derogatory terminology, well, if I had the choice to ride Space Mountain or sit through an overly-long character study about a wife-beating, sociopathic boxer, the theme park wins. Hands down.

Wizard Dojo’s 2019 Up Until Now (Q3)

Well, September of 2019 has come and gone, which not only means I am officially in my 30s, but we’re three quarters of the way through 2019.

Wow, hard to believe how fast 2019 is going. It’s been quite the year, to say the least. Unfortunately, the Summer wasn’t nearly as productive for the Dojo as I would have liked, but I still managed to crank out some content.

Just as was the case for quarters one and two for 2019, let’s reflect on how the third quarter of the year turned out for the Dojo. Let us chronicle Wizard Dojo’s 2019 so far, and look into what the remainder of the year has in store, and what could be coming the Dojo in 2020!


Naturally, let’s begin by reflecting on all the proper reviews I’ve written for the Dojo so far in 2019 (titles in bold were released this year).

Total Movie Reviews Written in 2019 so Far: 29

Total Video Game Reviews Written in 2019 so Far: 30

 

Yeah, again, it hasn’t been my most productive year for Wizard Dojo (remember in this site’s first year, how I wrote 100 different video game reviews alone? Those were the days). But I like to think my writing is getting better. So…quality over quantity, I guess? But I’d like to have both…

 

January Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 8

Bumblebee – 7/10

From Dusk ‘Till Dawn – 5/10

Mary Poppins Returns – 6/10

The Cat Returns – 7/10

Ralph Breaks the Internet – 8/10

Unbreakable – 7/10

Split – 6/10

Glass – 3/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 5

Wario Land II – 6/10

The Haunted Island: A Frog Detective Game – 6/10

Inside – 7/10

Donut County – 7/10

Tetris Effect – 8/10

February Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 1

Fighting With my Family – 7/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 3

Red Dead Redemption 2 – 8/10

Wario Land 3 – 6/10

God of War (PS4) – 8/10

 

March Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – 5/10

Captain Marvel – 5/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 10

Kingdom Hearts 3 – 5/10

Tetris 99 – 7/10

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove – 7/10

Wario World – 4/10

Sonic the Fighters – 2/10

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble – 4/10

Tails’ Skypatrol – 2/10

Tails’ Adventure – 5/10

Sonic R – 2/10

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 9/10

 

April Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 5

Dumbo (2019) – 6/10

Shazam! – 7/10

Marvel’s The Avengers – 8/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron – 5/10

Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 3

Yoshi’s Crafted World – 7/10

Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee – 5/10

Wario Land 4 – 7/10

 

May Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 2

Avengers: Endgame – 9/10

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu – 6/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 2

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – 7/10

Wario’s Woods – 7/10

 

June Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 5

Aladdin (2019) – 7/10

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – 6/10

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – 4/10

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – 5/10

The Dark Crystal – 5/10

GAME REVIEWS: 1

WarioWare, Inc. Mega Microgames – 7/10

 

July Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Toy Story 4 – 7/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10

Video Game Reviews: 3

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge – 4/10

Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman – 6/10

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong – 6/10

 

August Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 5/10

The Lion King – 5/10

Video game reviews: 2

Super Mario Maker 2 – 8/10

WarioWare Touched – 6/10

 

September Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – 7/10

The Peanut Butter Falcon – 6/10

Video Game reviews: 2

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – 8/10

Wario Land: Shake It! – 7/10


 

My reviews may have slowed down during the Summer, but hopefully I can pick them back up a bit in the coming months. There are still a few 2019 movies on my radar that I’d like to see/review, and I mean to get back to reviewing more older movies again, seeing as my last movie review for a non-2019 feature was The Dark Crystal way back in June.

Speaking of Dark Crystal, holy smokes, is the Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance great! While I may have mixed feelings on the original movie, I think the Netflix series lives up to the potential Jim Henson’s imaginative world. I’m just going to come out and say it, I think Age of Resistance is probably the best cinematic fantasy epic since Peter Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings  trilogy to the silver screen, and it’s quickly become one of my all-time favorite series alongside the likes of Twin Peaks, Seinfeld, the first seven or so seasons of The Simpsons, and Stranger Things. Once I start reviewing TV shows, expect Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, as well as Stranger Things, to be among the first ones reviewed. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Age of Resistance.

 

Also, you may have noticed that I lowered the scores for both Kingdom Hearts 3 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World from 6/10s to 5/10s. After further consideration, I just couldn’t, in good conscience, keep them on the upper half of my rating scale. Yes, I appreciate the Disney fanservice Kingdom Hearts provides, but outside of that, it really doesn’t have anything going for it. And even that Disney fanservice gets bungled. I repeat my past complaints that this is a game that features a world based on Disney’s Frozen and yet you don’t get Anna and Elsa on your team, you don’t visit Elsa’s ice palace, and it blatantly skips over important plot elements from the film (as well as the others represented in the game). Only Tetsuya Nomura could bungle such an easy victory of a crossover.

As for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World… Eh, it just didn’t leave an impression. It was the weakest entry in what I already found to be an overhyped series. Kung Fu Panda is the far superior Dreamworks trilogy, hands down. Fight me.

 

I have to admit, this has been a pretty interesting movie year for me. It’s something of an oddity in that I’ve awarded one 2019 film a near-perfect 9/10, yet have yet to dish out a single 8/10 for any movie this year. That 9/10 of course being Avengers: Endgame which, yes, is far and away the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I know, I’m an independent blogger, so I’m supposed to hate superhero movies and be all contrarian and everything. But unlike that crowd, I like to think I’m decently unique among my peers for the simple reason that I like things. I don’t actively want to hate anything because it’s popular or whatever. Endgame is 2019’s best film so far. I regret nothing.

Conversely, I have awarded 8/10 to a couple of 2019 games – Super Mario Maker 2 and Bloodstained – but I don’t think anything I’ve played so far this year approaches a 9 in my book. At least not under my current criteria, whatever such vaguely-implied standard entails.

 

Along with (hopefully) catching up on reviews, I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the next few months see me getting back into the groove of making top 10 lists and stuff. I really miss doing those. The Dojo hasn’t been the same without them.

Some of the lists I’m planning still include…

Top 10 Nintendo Systems

Top 10 Nintendo Franchises

Top 10 Most Influential Video Games

Top 10 Video Games from my Childhood

Top 5 Nintendo Supporting Characters Who Deserve Their Own Game

 

Yeah, those are all ones I promised before, but I didn’t want to promise any extras until, y’know, I actually start making them.

as for those aforementioned reviews…

2019 Movies I plan to review

It: Chapter 2 (already seen)

Joker

Frozen II

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Old/older movies I plan on reviewing at some point

It: Chapter 1

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (short film)

The Mad Max series

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

The Star Wars series (yep, even the prequels)

Yeah yeah, the prequels may get (unfounded) love these days because the memes are funny, but while I can enjoy a good prequel meme, funny memes don’t equate to good movies. If anything, the reason prequel memes can be funny is because the prequels themselves are so bad. Also meme culture is just so repugnant, it’s time we stopped pretending like memes give things value (exceptions being ‘Steamed Hams’ and Robbie Rotten memes).

Also as previously mentioned in past posts, I’d like to finish reviewing the directorial filmographies of Hayao Miyazaki and Quentin Tarantino in the not-too-distant future as well.

2019 VIDEO GAMES I OWN BUT HAVEN’T REVIEWED YET

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Astral Chain

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

Untitled Goose Game

 

The good news is the latter two games should be reviewed soon (I finished Link’s Awakening last night). The bad news is Sekiro and Crash came out some time ago and I’m still not close to being at a point where I can review them. Crash Team Racing is decently fun, but we live in a post-Mario Kart 8 world now, it’s hard to go back to other kart racers (but I still plan on getting back to it). Meanwhile, I hate to admit it, but as someone who LOVES Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I couldn’t really get into Sekiro. That could change when I play more of it, but if I were to write about it now, I’d have a lot to gripe about. I actually have a lot I want to say about it, so maybe I’ll get back to it soon and try to finish it for a review. But at the same time, if it’s going to take me dozens more hours to complete, I’m honestly not sure if I want to bother.

Still, the other games mentioned above should be reviewed (relatively) soon. Along with these…

Games I’ve played through in 2019 but still haven’t reviewed yet for some reason

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

Deltarune

Celeste

 

And yes, I have just enough Wario games currently in my library to continue to review one Wario title per month through all of 2019.

“Sexy beast.”

You might think that’s a lot on my plate, between all the reviews and the lists and the, uhhh, other things. But I didn’t say these are all immediate. Many of these I plan to do before 2019 is through, but others will keep me busy into 2020. And I have other things planned for the months ahead in addition to what’s been mentioned here. But I don’t want to spoil any surprises…or reveal them before I’ve even followed through with that other stuff I’ve been saying I’d do for a while now…

So these past few months may have slowed the Dojo down a bit, but I’ll do my best to get back on track. I hope you look forward to the Dojo’s future for the remainder of 2019, into 2020, and beyond! I got some good stuff cooking’! And hopefully you won’t be underwhelmed by those aforementioned ‘surprises’ when the day comes…

See you around and read my crap!