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a lifelong fan of Disney, I admit there were still things about the animation studio’s output that I always felt were outdated.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 (I would like to point out that I actually liked The Last Jedi, but 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.

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!

A Very September Update

Don’t worry folks, while this may be a ‘filler update’ in many ways, I still actually have some stuff to say this time around. Plus, with how slow of a month August was for the Dojo, I wanted to ensure I at least wrote something within the first few days of September. To help build momentum for the coming weeks…or something.

To be more explanatory, I actually have some reviews lined up for September. In terms of video games, I’m hoping to review Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, and Wario Land: Shake It! (continuing my 2019 trend of one Wario game review per month). I may even do more than that. But those seem the most likely to happen within this month.

I also have some movie reviews planned. Some newer movies, some older movies. I may also review both ‘Chapters’ of Stephen King’s It if I get around to seeing Chapter 2 soon enough. But stay tuned for those movie reviews, including one recent movie I can’t believe I actually ended up liking…and quite a bit, I might add.

And yes, I do have some long-promised top 10 lists waiting in the near future, as well as some television series reviews. I will try to do one or two (at least) of the former within September (here’s hoping I can follow through), though I don’t want to promise when exactly the TV reviews will be. I will say though, that my first TV series review will be for the first season of Stranger Things, with the subsequent seasons hopefully following soon after. On that note, I’m also in the middle of watching another Netflix original, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and will review that when I can as well. You might remember that I reviewed the original Dark Crystal movie not too long ago, and gave it a score of 5/10. I praised its imagination, practical effects, and unique mythology, but felt it didn’t quite stick the landing as a movie due to the flat, empty main characters. I ended my review with this.

“As of this writing, Netflix will soon release a prequel series to The Dark Crystal. Here’s hoping that said series finally brings out a story and characters worthy of the imagination Jim Henson littered Thra with.”

And I have to say, having watched six episodes (out of ten) so far of the Netflix series, I honestly think that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance does just that. It’s a genuinely gripping fantasy series. I love the world of the original movie, but not the original movie (if that makes sense). But I think this series has done a great job at creating a story worthy of Jim Henson’s passion project. I’m actually quite surprised how much I’m enjoying it (a lot of surprises for me lately, it seems).

On an entirely unrelated note… Banjo-Kazooie were released in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today! An absolute dream come true!

Naturally, I’ve been having a ball beating up Fire Emblem and Kid Icarus characters as Banjo-Kazooie as I get to learn the bear/bird duo’s moves (which are more or less how I always imagined… more or less). It’s great to see Banjo-Kazooie in Smash.

In more underwhelming Smash Bros. news, Terry Bogart from Fatal Fury has been revealed as the fourth DLC character in the five-character Fighter Pass. That’s about as exciting as getting no new character at all, really. Yeah, yeah, some people really like Fatal Fury. But come on, adding characters from a fighting game (that isn’t Street Fighter) into a fighting game just seems boring.

In other, better Smash Bros. news, it’s been revealed that there will be more DLC characters coming after these initial five. And thank goodness for that. Aside from Banjo-Kazooie, the DLC characters so far haven’t exactly set the world on fire (yeah, Joker from Persona 5 was cool, but considering he was only a year old character with no ties to Nintendo at the time, it wasn’t the same as, say, a character that fans have been begging years for finally making the cut). So glad to hear we have more than one hope to make up for Terry Bogard.

So please, Sakurai. Just give us Geno. We have Ridley, we have K. Rool, and we have Banjo. Geno is the only character left the series has sorely needed.

But we’ll probably just get Heihachi, right?

 

Anyway, thanks for reading this (assuming you read this). It makes writing these kinds of posts not a waste of time. Now I hope you enjoy the bevy of ‘real’ content and updates I have planned very soon…