CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 2

DPEP2TITLE

Plot: Jack shows off his new invention, the Fenton Ghost Fisher, a device meant to capture ghosts, to Danny when he leaves the room briefly to go to the bathroom. Danny grabs the fisher and catches a dragon ghost. He combats the ghost for a while before knocking off the dragon’s amulet, which lands in his backpack. The dragon reverts to the form of an 18th century English girl who runs back into the Ghost Portal stating she wanted to go to the ball.

Danny, thinking the whole event is over, resumes his day. A school dance is coming up and Danny decides to ask out Paulina, the prettiest and most popular girl in school. However, he makes a fool of himself in his nervousness thanks to his ghost powers. Sam steps in to defend him, insulting Paulina in the process. As revenge and believing Sam to be his girlfriend, Paulina later accepts Danny’s invitation. She also mistakenly believes the amulet in Danny’s backpack is hers.

It’s up to Danny, Sam and Tucker to retrieve the amulet before Paulina also turns into the dragon and causes havoc at the dance.

Breakdown: This episode always annoyed me a tiny bit. While we’re amping up the stakes with the Dragon Ghost, the way that it works basically amounts to ‘bitches be crazy.’

We see the Dragon Ghost three times in this episode.

The first, the 18th century English girl reveals that she turned into the dragon because she was upset that she couldn’t go to the dance.

The second, Paulina triggers it by getting upset that they don’t have a trendy new and discontinued fleecy tee in her size.

The third is the most understandable with Sam turning into the dragon when Paulina reveals that she was only dating Danny to get revenge on Sam, believing them to be dating, and she plans on dumping him in the middle of the dance since Sam revealed that they’re not dating. While this is more admirable, it’s set up like Sam’s more upset that Paulina’s shallow (she keeps repeating ‘shallow girl!’ in dragon form) than she’s upset for Danny, who is soon to be heartbroken.

Not to mention that this makes no sense anyway. Why would Paulina think Danny’s dating Sam when he’s asking her out? I’d think if my boyfriend asked another girl out to a dance while we were dating, the relationship would be beyond over in a millisecond.

I do like the different reactions all three of them are having to this dance, though. Danny’s getting up the courage to ask his crush out to the dance, Tucker’s asking anyone with boobs and a pulse and consistently gets shot down. He somehow lands Valerie, who will become very prominent later, but Danny forces him (through possession) to dump her for Sam. She’s been badmouthing the dance the whole episode, and they only catch on right before the dance that she’s partially upset because no one’s asked her out. Danny possesses Tucker to claim Valerie canceled and to ask out Sam, and while Tucker initially protests, he changes his tune rather quickly when Sam comes out looking beautiful.

The sub-plot with Danny’s dad was insanely unnecessary, though, besides to show off Danny’s newly discovered possession capability. Lancer understands that Danny keeps dropping his pants because they, seemingly, don’t fit well (it’s really his ghost powers) and fixes the situation by giving him a belt, yet he still calls in Danny’s dad for a parent-teacher conference because this is somehow a fault of Danny’s that needs to be discussed with a parent.

Then he, of course, has to invite Possessed!Jack to be a chaperone to the dance purely to keep this plot going further and fabricate tension.

All in all, the episode’s pretty good, but there are a few major things about it that irk me. It just felt a little on the sexist side, is all.

Oh, and just because I feel I have to mention this because meme(?) this is the episode where they have that line exchange –

Sam: “Promise me you’ll keep your pants up.”

Danny: “I’ll do my best!”

I don’t know why this became a slight thing. I mean, it’s a funny-ish joke in context, but outside….is it just hurr hurr, this is kinda innuendo? I don’t really get it.

Rating: 7.5/10 Still staying at a good pace with the action and some of the story, but the mechanics of the amulet, at least the way it’s portrayed here, are a bit annoying and Jack’s subplot was entirely pointless. Also, it seems weird that they kinda poked at TuckerxSam here, yet went nowhere with it.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Looney Tunes Show

Plot: Bugs and Daffy are roommates living a generally normal life in the suburbs. Daffy desperately wants to win something for once, so he signs him and Bugs up for a show called Besties, where best friends test their knowledge of each other.

Breakdown: Who doesn’t love Looney Tunes? Arguably second to Disney’s Mickey Mouse and friends, Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the Looney Tunes are some of the most world-renowned, beloved and funny characters (they definitely beat Disney in humor) we’ve come to know in the past decades. They’ve had some amazingly funny and memorable adventures, catchphrases, animation, voice acting and they continue to live on in various forms to this day.

That’s not to say Looney Tunes hasn’t had its hiccups when it comes to the quality of their shows and movies. Space Jam, Loonatics Unleashed and Baby Looney Tunes come to mind in that regard.

Well……*hiccup*

The Looney Tunes show definitely caused some conflict when it was first released. A good chunk of people liked the change of scenery and style and even some of the character traits. I definitely remember people arguing back and forth about whether Lola’s reimagining was for the better or worse.

Warning – Rambling that doesn’t have much to do with the episode at hand. Skip down to the blue mark to reenter episode discussion.

While Lola doesn’t show up in this episode, I do know what her character was turned into through clips and wiki research. Lola was not an original character in the short films we know and love. She was specifically made for the half-live-action half-cartoon movie, Space Jam, in order to increase the female demographic.

Even back then, Lola’s character was a source of debate because while some people saw her as a welcome female addition to the Looney Tunes crew, one with an attitude and knew how to play basketball no less, many others saw her as furry bait. She is obviously designed to be as sexually alluring as possible, in both design and her behavior, to all of the other male characters, yes, including the live-action humans, and she even has bunny boobs. She was also seemingly created just to give Bugs a love interest for the movie. She is even knocked into the cliché ‘damsel in distress’ role to give Bugs the even more cliché self-sacrifice scene so they can fall in love.

My opinion? I found Lola entertaining as a kid, but nowadays I just find her character to be a little insulting. If her character is meant to be made for the female viewers on both the basis of being a female character and giving her an attitude of female empowerment, they didn’t do a good job to me. She is eye candy to the core (which is creepy. I mean, give Jessica Rabbit a pass, she’s at least designed as a human.), the fact that she’s described as ‘tomboyish’ is nearly laughable, and making her shut down anyone who calls her ‘doll’ is not enough to warrant that sense of empowerment to me (who even says that anymore?), especially when the cliché gender stereotype roles are still handed to her.

In the Looney Tunes Show, Lola is completely changed from sexpot to ditzy Bugs-obsessed talk-a-mile-a-minute idiot. And, surprise, that is in no way better.

—————————-

I had caught this show a bit on TV a few times when it was airing and….I was never impressed enough to watch more than about five minutes. It was just….not funny. Which, for Looney Tunes, is a damn crime.

But I’m a reasonable person and part of this series is giving shows at least a shot to prove their worth. Maybe even prove my passing glances wrong and give me something to binge watch.

And they blew it.

Let me be fair off the bat here. I technically only watched half the episode because this is one of those shows that cuts the episode in half to create two separate stories. I just didn’t watch the second one because I was nearly offended with how not funny or interesting this one was.

First of all, while we’re on the subject of character changes, what the hell happened to Daffy? I know very well that Daffy is not the brightest marker in the Crayola factory, but he is ungodly dumb in this episode. Like Patrick from Spongebob should tutor him kind of dumb. It’s a good thing he doesn’t wear clothes, because I don’t think he’d be able to master the ability to dress himself levels of dumb.

It was actually annoying how dumb he was.

big-image

Now, onto B–…..What’s that you say? Why did I randomly put a stock picture of Speedy Gonzales up?

Well, because the show basically did the same thing. Speedy comes out of nowhere, being stuck to Daffy’s hand vac as he tries to grab ahold of some food that rolled under the fridge (you may go ‘ew’ now) They basically point out that he’s there….and he leaves, never to be seen again the whole episode.

I wasn’t aware that Speedy was the kind of character that warranted a random splash cameo for the sake of fanservice. In fact, weren’t they trying to get rid of him at a point because they thought he was offensive to Mexicans?

Anyhoo, Bugs is left relatively alone, but he’s lost his spunk. He’s way too much on the side of laid-back sarcasm dispenser with none of the pep and energy his character is known to have.

The plot is what really riled me up. I was angry the instant the plot established itself. This is so unbelievable cliché I want to cry. They’ve been doing this stupid ‘game show where the characters have to know facts about another character’ plot line since The Newlywed Game came out. I’m surprised this isn’t a listed TV trope by now. They even name the host Chuck Berost…..which….I think is meant to be a joke, given that the original host of The Newlywed Game was Chuck Barris…..but I don’t get it….Berost…Barris….???

Not only is this a ridiculously cliché plot line to start from, but it’s also incredibly predictable, especially given Daffy’s idiocy. He’s so stupid, he even ruins Bugs’ correct answers because Daffy has an answer that sounds ‘cooler’. It’s obvious Bugs will have an idea that will get them through a good chunk of the game, but then Daffy will screw it up at the very end because he’s sans brain and they’ll lose. And look, that’s what happened.

The only joke that worked for me even a little in this episode was where they’re doing a ‘parody’ of Superman’s Origins. Don’t ask me why they’re doing this. It doesn’t matter. Bugs is acting as baby Kal el and his ‘father’ Jor el says he’ll say “What’s up doc?” indiscriminately, whether there’s a doctor present or not. Yup. And outside of the piece of kryptonite being a crystal carrot, that is the ONLY joke in that whole parody and the only only joke that really works for me during this whole episode. A joke that isn’t even all that funny…..a joke they ruin by having Daffy bring it up at the end of the episode.

See, the question Daffy screws up is ‘what is Bugs’ catchphrase?’ and he gets it wrong. When he learns what it really is, he says ‘we don’t even know any doctors!’

The last thing I have to address is the art style, which I’m….mostly okay with. Everyone’s character designs are mostly left alone, but the heads are obviously bigger and the colors are more saturated.

The animation is pretty good, though I do see various animation errors here and there. It’s smooth, but sometimes slides into ‘someone’s screwing with Flash again’ territory. Also, the animation doesn’t seem to have that elasticity that Looney Tunes is known for.

I will give them props for somewhat keeping the original theme, but this one’s a bit too heavy on the brass for me, which is surprising because the original is nearly entirely brass. It’s just that they add in a lot of jazzy trumpet interludes that are way too loud and intrusive to me.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

Nothing clicks in this show for me. The writing, the characters, nothing. I feel like, if the Looney Tunes name wasn’t on this show, it wouldn’t last more than a few episodes….and hell, this show only lasted two seasons with the branding on it. The Looney Tunes show is just not looney.

Rango Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A pet lizard finds himself lost in the desert after his tank flies off of the back of his owner’s car. He arrives at a town called Dirt where water is scarce to say the least. He plays himself up as a hero of the west to the local townsfolk, and after (accidentally) saving them from a hawk. Because of his feats, he’s given the title of Sheriff by the mayor. Taking the name of Rango, he enjoys his newfound respect and admiration but when the situation gets dire in Dirt, he’ll have to pay up or shut up.

Breakdown: I was never a fan of westerns, unless you count space westerns. And despite being interested in this movie when it was first released, mostly because Nickelodeon promoted it quite a bit (They produced it, but it’s hard as hell to find their name on it) I never got around to watching it until now. Too bad too because this is a pretty damn good movie.

Admittedly, the story is completely overdone. Some guy pretends to be something he’s not only to eventually get ousted and then gather up the courage to return and set things right. Been there done that. And yes, the awkwardness of the continuous lying does irk me quite a bit.

However, I really love the writing of the dialogue, the timing of the jokes, the characters and the style. I can’t really compare this to any other animated movie that I can think of. It’s pretty unique in its own right, at least barring the story.

One of the ways this movie stands out is its art and animation. Rango was produced by ILM (Lucasfilms) and it is absolutely gorgeous…..I think I drooled a little.

Excuse me, I really should say it’s butt ugly, but it’s meant to be gritty and kinda ugly. It’s a western with a bunch of desert animals like rats and lizards. Even the love interest, Beans, that’s her actual name, is pretty blech-looking. But my god, the details. They are fantastic. From the littlest drops of water and the hairs and scales on the animals to the town of Dirt and the vast desert. It is all just deliciously…..Ugligorgeous. What’s even more incredible is how they integrated the human world into their own world. The cars and lights look fantastic, we’ve got a huge cityscape, and even stuff like the items in Rango’s tank are beautifully detailed.

Then we see one human character briefly, The Man With No Name; IE A Clint Eastwood ‘Spirit of the West’ character who guides Rango back on his path. And not only is he also incredibly well-detailed, but his part is probably the least cliched because he doesn’t do that lame ‘just believe in yourself blah blah’ speech. He gives a realistic speech that a Clint Eastwood character would probably give. Sadly, however, they did not get Clint Eastwood to play this part, but he was well-performed by Timothy Olyphant.

They also didn’t dumb down most of the scenes for the sake of the children. Characters get shot, they die, they swear (to a degree), they describe several gory situations and the dialogue is perfectly suited for older audiences as well as young ones. Which is weird because somehow this movie managed to grab a PG rating.

In regards to characters, they’re all kinda stereotypes, but they’re done in a fairly unique and memorable manner. Johnny Depp (hey, you broke away from Disney and Tim Burton for five seconds! Congrats!) plays our titular character, Rango. Interestingly, his real name, the one he would’ve been given by his owner, is never mentioned, which kinda makes him a legit ‘man with no name’. He named himself through the traditional means of reading it off of something he saw.

He’s a bit of a delusional chameleon who longs to be a big popular hero, but he’s lived all of his life in a tank with no one to interact with except a wind-up goldfish and a barbie doll torso. It’s actually a little sad to think that his owner might be devastated over losing his pet, but Rango never mentions it or seems to care.

Rango’s one of the most uncomfortable characters to watch because he’s lying through most of the movie, and he plays up his lies as much as possible in order to fully create a heroic sheriff persona, but he really is a good guy who wants to help the people of Dirt.

Beans isn’t all that interesting. She’s a typical ‘no non-sense’ female lead whose only schtick is her defense mechanism. Beans is a desert iguana and she has a defense mechanism that essentially causes her to freeze up and be completely unaware of her surroundings. Problem is, this ability sometimes springs up without warning or trigger. She’ll just be talking and then boom. Then she just transforms into a doting girlfriend at the end, and it’s actually a little annoying.

Priscilla, the cactus mouse, steals several scenes with her odd habit of being incredibly and painfully blunt about situations and going on small tangents about frightening or gory situations.

Then there’s the mayor who is about as transparent as humanly possible. It’s obvious that he’s behind the water shortage in the town yet it takes Rango to finally figure it out and call him out on it. He’s not much of a villain, but there is someone who actually earns the villain title; Rattlesnake Jake.

As you can guess, Rattlesnake Jake is a rattlesnake. A huge rattlesnake….with piercing almost glowing orange, yellow and red eyes, huge fangs…..and that’s about it…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh there is his KICK-ASS MACHINE GUN TAIL. Oh my god, I never knew I needed a movie with a rattlesnake with a machine gun for a tail in my life, but that part of me has been fulfilled now. He is a big, badass, looming bastard of a snake. Though the reason I really like him isn’t just how badass he is, it’s that he actually has some sense of honor. By the end, he’s basically an anti-hero.

The fact that everything looks more or less real along with stuff like guns and animal threats such as hawks really makes the movie much more intense.

And might I commend the movie for having the best end credits sequence I’ve seen in ages? The art, the direction, the style, the music; they were all awesome for that segment.

Bottomline: Even if you don’t like westerns, I’d say definitely give this movie a shot. It’s cleverly written, has a great realistic feel to it, is gorgeously detailed, has some fantastic music, intense action sequences and while it’s not the most unique story in the world, you never once feel bored while watching it. I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I’d gladly watch it several more times.

Recommended Audience: Mild swearing (hell, damn, maybe an ‘ass’ I can’t remember), guns, smoking, some people get shot but I don’t think anyone dies from a gunshot wound, a bird dies from being crushed, an armadillo ‘dies’ from being run over by a car (and ew they closeup on his squished body, even though, oddly, there’s no guts or gore, it’s like someone flatted a balloon filled with flour) ‘scary situations’ maybe. 10+

Cartoons Step-by-Step: Rugrats Episode 1

rugrats episode 1

Plot: It’s Tommy’s first birthday, and his parents have pulled all the stops to make it great. Didi has plenty of entertainment and food setup while Stu is inventing a gift. However, Tommy’s much more interested in trying some of his dog, Spike’s, dog food, believing that it will turn him into a dog.

Breakdown: I don’t think I need to reiterate how much Rugrats means to me. It was a huge part of my childhood, and spawned my love of all things Nickelodeon (back in the good ol’ days when the execs weren’t braindead dimwits…Er were slightly less braindead I suppose.) I was obsessed with Rugrats for well over a decade, and I cherish the show to this day.

That being said, this pilot was always boring as hell to me.

To me, this first episode seems a lot more like it’s made for parents than it is children. One of the great things about Rugrats is, due to the premise, it is very easy for children and parents/adults alike to enjoy it, but this episode does seem focused more on the parents.

It takes a quarter of the episode before any of the babies even speak, and rarely is there a joke to be had until the climax.

Instead we have to watch the human paradox that is Didi have a fit over this birthday party. I swear, she will obsess over everything related to parenthood because her ultimate goal in life is to be a good mother (“like the ones on TV” ~Didi) but even this early on she is completely oblivious to what Tommy wants, needs or is doing most of the time.

Instead, she’d rather bow down to the glory of the almighty Dr. Lipschitz books, to the point where her catchphrase is ‘Dr. Lipschitz says…’, causing her to actually be a less effective mother. (I can’t find info on this, but is Lipschitz’ name a joke? Like everything he says is bull shit?) Not to say she is one without him. Didi let Tommy slide off of her lap and wander into the kitchen (which is closed off by it’s own door by the way, for anyone who might argue that she can still watch him), which was about his fifth time attempting to get in there without anyone noticing, and she is always losing track of where the kids are, which has become one of the most well-known tropes of this series. (Even though all of the parents are negligent in their own right).

At least I can say Tommy was always picked up and brought somewhere else shortly after these attempts, before the climax of course. But let’s address that later.

Stu is up to his goofball inventor tricks, but he’s mostly babbling about his Hover-rama, a flying remote control spaceship thing, that he made for Tommy. Though he never gets it working purely because he forgot the batteries. Maybe that’s supposed to be funny because he’s brought up how impressive his gift is because it takes like four different kinds of batteries about five times at this point, but he seriously ends up crying because he forgot the batteries for the remote. He barely looks for any, either. He checks his pockets, gets a sullen look, then sits down and cries.

There are three shining lights in the adult section, though. Betty is usually always funny in the early seasons. In the later seasons, she becomes more of a bitch and an idiot. She’s in direct contrast to Didi. While she is fairly negligent of her children’s activities in her own right, she definitely knows more about children than Didi does. Even small observations like the fact that the party hats Didi puts on them will be quickly discarded are made a little funny because of the stark contrast. When you think about it, both Didi and Betty are realistic parents, it’s just that Betty is more relatable and funny.

Next, Grandpa Lou also brings some grounding reality to the household with some of his comments, along with Grandpa Boris and Grandma Minka.

Finally, the puppet show is the funniest part of the episode. Stu and his brother, Drew, father of Tommy’s famously horrible cousin, Angelica, put on a puppet show after Didi messes up the scheduling for the puppeteers. Their bickering is pretty funny and just gets increasingly entertaining.

At the climax, all of the kids go into the kitchen while the adults are focused on the bicker-fest of Stu and Drew, who never break out from behind the stage and fight as puppets the whole time. Spike has eaten all of his food, so Tommy and Angelica try to reach a can of it on the top of the shelves by them both standing on the counter balanced on a bunch of bowls and colanders while Tommy balances on Angelica’s shoulders. See why many people grew to be outraged at the Rugrats’ parents over time? If they bothered to pay a modicum of attention to their kids, they’d realize that Angelica and Tommy were in a situation where they could easily both smash their heads in on the tile.

They can’t reach it, so Chuckie, resident scaredy cat and Tommy’s best friend, decides to use the Hover-rama to knock it down. Chuckie has batteries in his pocket for some reason, and he’s able to instantly put the batteries in correctly, meaning he has better battery skills than most adults I know. Chuckie, amazingly, pilots the Hover-rama perfectly from the living room into the kitchen, despite not being able to see it, and, with the skill of a surgeon, is able to position and maneuver the Hover-rama to the shelf right by the dog food and starts nudging it over.

Phil and Lil, Betty and her husband, Howard’s, twins, known for being more gross than most of the kids, ruin it by grabbing the remote and start trying to do the job better than Chuckie, which turns out like you’d expect. They accidentally grab Tommy with the Hover-rama and fly him all over the kitchen, knocking Angelica into a bag of flour, knocking the stack of bowls and stuff that they were standing on over, spraying the room with water from the hand nozzle from the sink, knocking over a stack of plates and all without any of the adults ever hearing a thing.

They even fly Tommy into the living room, where the parents are, and they still don’t notice a thing until the Hover-rama is crashed into the cake.

Chuckie was really funny when he was flying the Hover-rama, though. Not only does he have the skills, he also knows some pilot lingo.

In the end, Didi simultaneously shows us the insanity of a regular family and the insanity of trying to mediate one by pacifying everyone who is arguing by telling Drew and Stu they’re both wrong for what they did to each other as kids and telling both of her parents that they’re right on their opposing sides of what cake they should’ve had at the party (Boris was right, though. It should always be chocolate.)

And the babies did indeed get some dog food, which they promptly spat out. Which is weird, because they eat worms and bugs and stuff.

All in all, this episode is really boring, but it’s somewhat salvageable. The periods of no music don’t really help. I’m not saying every scene needs music, otherwise I’d have to apologize to 4Kids. But there are scenes that are just too quiet to keep your attention.

The funny moments are sporadic, but the ending is somewhat solid.

Rating: 5/10

Just for fun, let’s have two running tallies, because, trust me, this will be interesting to keep track of at each season’s end.

Parenting Fails

I didn’t count exactly, but let’s go with about eight times the kids sneaked away with no one noticing. (Let’s also include an ‘at blame’ counter, to see who comes out looking better as parents. In this case, though, while Didi and Stu technically have more, all of the parents are guilty. Stu, Didi, Drew, Betty, Howard, and even the grandparents, Boris, Minka, and Lou. Chas and Charlotte are innocent because they simply weren’t here.)

The entirety of the climax, which will count as three.

Stu thinking it’s not unsafe for babies to have a complicated flying machine as a toy, especially with tons of batteries. Also note that the battery compartment for the remote is not secured with a screw or anything. You push the door and it opens.

No one noticing that Chuckie had batteries.

No one noticing that Tommy has a real screwdriver (his later one is a toy).

Tally – 14

What the…They’re babies! (This category is for odd details that seemingly make no logical sense given these are babies, but this tally is mostly for fun considering some liberties have to be taken for humor.)

How did Tommy tape his screwdriver to the underside of his high chair?

How DID Chuckie know how to fly that thing so well? Especially considering that the controls look like crap.

How did Tommy and Angelica even get up on the counter like that?

Pixar’s Lamp: Toy Story

dnfaab6

Rating: 9.5/10

Plot: In a world where toys are alive, yet pretend to be inanimate around humans, a boy named Andy’s favorite toy, a cowboy named Woody, feels threatened by the presence of a new toy, a space ranger toy called Buzz Lightyear. Andy slowly starts playing with Buzz more than Woody, and in his jealousy Woody accidentally causes Buzz to fall out the window. When Woody ends up getting lost as well, he and Buzz have to work together to make it back home and back to Andy.

Breakdown: It’s Pixar’s turn with their first baby; Toy Story and I LOVE TOY STORYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

*cough* Sorry.

It’s one of my favorite movies ever. I’ve become fairly good at removing my nostalgia goggles when it comes to things that I used to love when I was a kid, but Toy Story holds up extremely well as still being entertaining, fun, funny, heartwarming and exciting. Best of all, it’s a movie that parents and kids can enjoy together; not a movie that you turn on just to humor your kids.

The characters are all unique and lovable. They all implement various parts of their designs into their own specific brands of humor. Even the minor toys get their own little times to shine and be memorable. Woody and Buzz in particular have great chemistry both as enemies and friends. They bounce off of each other with plenty of entertaining banter and they are really a joy to watch.

The story is fairly unique and never becomes boring or cliché (Also I never knew Joss Whedon worked on this.) Jealousy’s not really a new thing, but they implement it in a way that doesn’t come off as tired.

Love or hate Randy Newman, I love his songs here. He was perfect to do the music for this movie.

Art and animation wise, the designs are unique and memorable. The animation is believable and really brings the toys to life in more ways than one. I will say that the animation, usually involving the human characters and Scud (whose eyes are just weird), is sometimes not quite as polished as what we’ve come to enjoy from Pixar movies today, but this is hardly noticeable and nothing major. Besides, they were just starting out here anyway.

……Oh wait, no. I can never forgive the nightmare fuel that is Molly. *shudder*

It even does product placement right. It puts a bunch of existing toy brands with allusions to real brands with toys made specifically for the movie and manages to market all of them. I still, to this day, wish I had gotten that creepy baby doll robot spider from Sid’s room. That kid may have been a serial killer in the making, but that toy was cool. (Seriously, his parents just let him buy rockets, play with matches, blow up his toys and get an ‘I ❤ explosives’ bumper sticker on the wall and don’t suspect a thing?) I did have a big Buzz Lightyear toy that I actually still have in my closet somewhere with his rocket (non-cardboard version).

This movie stands up really well and never ceases to be entertaining and heartwarming to me. It is a very fitting opening to Pixar’s prestigious career.

Recommended Audience: There’s toy violence when it comes to Sid as he really likes torturing and blowing up his toys through various means. The final scene with Sid would also be insanely frightening if shown without context in any other movie. But eh, come on. 5+

CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 2

CSBS Fillmore Episode 2

Plot: X-Middle School is undergoing the arduous test of the Satty-9, and it’s been tearing the students apart. Some protest the test’s existence, other freak out over the their performance and Ingrid, despite her certain high score, undergoes an internal struggle of the true importance of the Satty-9. So many students have skills, knowledge and creativity that simply cannot be measured in the multiple choice nightmare. When the completed tests are suddenly stolen by someone in the school mascot’s uniform, Ingrid finds herself contemplating whether it’s for the best.

Breakdown: I remember this being one of my favorite episodes when I was a kid, and I have a deeper respect for this episode now that I’ve gone through several CATs and the SATs. I never stressed much over the CATs but the SATs were a nightmare for me. Everyone crams and stresses over their grade, and a surprising amount feel like that one number score will be a defining characteristic stuck to their lives. It’s hard to have that moment of reflection where you say ‘Whatever happens, this doesn’t reflect my actual intelligence or worth as a person.’

I also appreciate that Ingrid was the one struggling with this, because typically genius characters don’t find tests to be such a big deal, no matter their weight. They seem relatively blind to the hardships and stresses of the non-geniused students around them. Ingrid sees and appreciates the various kinds of skills and talents that everyone has around her and feels bad that the test doesn’t care about intelligence or achievements in these realms, no matter how much these same students prepare for it.

Her moment of faltering was truly just one moment, but it was a pretty powerful one.

Fillmore: “The Satty-9 may be beat, but there’s a right way to fight it. Protests. Giant banners. Editorials. Hard jams with even harder rhymes. Going the other way’s a sucker move. We have a job. We don’t make the rules.”

Ingrid: “I only forgot that for a second.”

Fillmore: “But Ingrid….you forgot that.”

I’ll also give this episode props because I honestly didn’t catch on to who the perp was. Like so many instances, I figured it was a person who only ended up being the second-to-last suspect. And I will admit, it was pretty clever the way they set it up. We even get some pretty funny jokes and references. I honestly don’t remember Fillmore ever including a Pokemon reference, but there it was.

This episode was also a nice build on Fillmore and Ingrid’s friendship. Fillmore doesn’t chew Ingrid out for what she did. He understands her feelings and leads her to a place where she’ll learn the lesson on her own. Plus, that scooter and helmet are awesome. Damn, I wish I had a Razor scooter when I was a kid. Stupid kids getting hurt making my paranoid parents say no.

Rating: 9.5/10

Update 6/11/17: Hiatus Over

1pxqyo6

Hey everyone innocent and that one guilty person reading right now. (You know who you are) As promised, I am back in blog-action today. I’m not running at 100% but the show must go on, plus I’ve missed making posts. In itself, it’s therapeutic, even (especially?) the ranty ones. I’m not going to be making a full-blown entry right now, but one should be up tomorrow. I just wanted to let everyone know that the Madhouse is now back to moving its turbines instead of rusting.

Let’s put some more tokens in and continue, shall we? 🙂

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Huntik: Secrets and Seekers

uidmd7c
Break your spine today, Sophie?

Plot: In a University in Venice, Italy, a college student named Lok and his friend, Sophie, accidentally find Lok’s long-lost father’s journal and an amulet in one of his old artifacts. Before they even even begin to look into it, a group of people in black suits burst into his house and attack him with strange powers. They’re after the journal, but Lok travels all over Venice to ensure its safety.

Along the way, he gets imbued with similarly strange powers from the amulet he found, and he finds some sense of security with a man named Dante, who helps save him from the people in suits. He reveals that the suited people are from an evil group known only as The Organization. They utilize ancient powers and summon powerful titans from their amulets for nefarious purposes. Those who possess these powers are known as Seekers, and there is a benevolent group of seekers known as The Huntik Foundation, who aim to take down The Organization.

While Lok quickly wants nothing more to do with the situation, Dante reveals that he already is a part of it since the amulet synced with him, making him a Seeker. The Organization returns for another face-off, this time with more firepower. Will they be able to make it out in one piece?

Breakdown: This show has awesome music.

The instant I heard the opener, I was sold….but maybe I was a bit cheap because there’s not much going on in the originality department here.

Missing dad? Check.

Main Character suddenly dragged into a huge conflict with mysterious powers and monsters? Check.

Obvious love interest? Check.

Being so vague about your enemy that they’re literally bad guys in black with a non-descript name? Check.

Suddenly saved by mysterious guy with uber powers and luxurious hair? Check.

It’s not the most cliché thing in the world…..but it’s up there. Being fair, they put plenty of action in there to hold your attention, but nothing about the story really grabbed it.

Just to get these minor annoyances out of the way, here are some minor annoyances.

– Lok seriously didn’t know what an amulet was. Not what THE amulet was – what AN amulet was…..he’s a college student.

– Bad guys are after the journal, journal falls into water, stops Lok from going into water, make no effort to go into the completely calm canal water to retrieve journal. Don’t even stick around long enough to see him surface. Good job.

– Sophie was reaching for a precious and delicate artifact left behind from your father, is having no real issues reaching it or getting it down, yet you act like she’s about to be hit by invisible falling debris and tackle her, ensuring that the artifact breaks. Good job, Lok. Though, being fair, it’s rude as hell to get all grabby on what is clearly a delicate ancient statue.

– How did Lok’s dad get that stuff in that statue anyway?

– Sophie describes Lok as a nerd and he can even complete a full crossword puzzle in less than two minutes, but he’s super lazy in school, never bothered to open his textbooks out of their plastic wrapping and needs to copy Sophie’s notes.

– They were too lazy to animate him completing the crossword. It was an actual plotpoint, but they skipped it through black fades. They animated a completely pointless Indiana Jones dream sequence, but not him completing a crossword. They even have to have a little note on screen that says ‘Less than two minutes later’

That out of the way, the art and animation is Italian. That about sums it up.

Alright, I’m not being fair. Sorry Italy. But, really, can someone point me to some Italian animation that doesn’t look like it was given the budget of a bucket of nails? I feel like I’m unfairly building a bad view of it just because I keep coming across shows like these.

The art itself is alright. Passable enough. It’s the animation and lip-syncing that make me gnash my teeth. This series was produced by Rainbow s.r.l., the same people who brought us Winx Club. It’s done in that same style, but to the best of my knowledge, the quality is much worse. That might be the fault of their co-producer, Big Bocca Productions, but damned if I can find a single word of that company that isn’t ‘They helped produce Huntik.’

Huntik’s level and type of animation problems can only be summed up in one way – It’s exactly the same as those old religious cartoons from the 90s and early 00s. I can’t describe it any better than that. I was almost expecting this to be produced by a company that made some of those shows and specials, it was just that similar.

As for the lip-syncing, I have no clue how they produced this they way they did, but whatever system they used to work between America and Italy to fuse the animation with the voices did not work. Keep in mind, this show was not originally voiced in Italian. There is no language gap to jump, excusing the poor syncing. As a fan of anime, I would be more than glad to turn a blind eye to that (mostly).

I assume Big Bocca Productions is the American company who did the scripts and voice work. Rainbow did the animation and designs. Rainbow has the responsibility of matching their animations to the script and voice work, so I guess I have to mark off Rainbow for this.

The voice acting as a whole is just alright. We have some actual voice actors here such as Yuri Lowenthal, Marc Thompson and even Maddie Blaustein. They’re not putting their all into it, but they’re not really phoning it in. The sound mixing and editing is sometimes terrible, though. There will be instances of characters accidentally talking over each other and sometimes the music drowns out the voices.

Marc, however, is doing a terrible job as Cherit, the little talking bat-creature thing. Just imagine one of your parents putting on a high-pitched witch-like voice when they would read to you at bed time, and that’s basically what he’s doing.

Final verdict:

cbxcz0k

Just barely eeked out ‘undecided’, mostly because A) music is still awesome, B) it intrigued me enough to at least plug on for now. Maybe it has more to offer to set it apart from the crowd. At the very least, I might get to see some laughably terrible stuff.

…….But seriously, he had no idea what an amulet was.

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Snow White (1937)

4kqgl9r

Rating: 9/10

Plot: Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Snow White. Her evil step mother, the evil queen, was incredibly jealous of her beauty to the point where she demanded that she be killed. Her assassin wasn’t able to kill her and instead prompted her to run away into the woods. While wandering in the forest, she stumbles upon a house obviously owned by seven dwarfs and because she’s a girl in a fairy tale she just busts in like she owns the place. The dwarfs return from their precious gem mine and find the girl, allowing her to stay there as long as she cooks and cleans for them. However, the queen has learned that she is still alive and decides to go kill Snow White on her own.

=========================

I was prompted by some friends to go back and watch old Disney classics, and here I am. Please note, though, I am not going to watch every Disney movie ever. Animated ones, probably, but not live action. When it comes to the live action ones, I’m probably just going to pick and choose and not go in any particular order.

I’m glad I decided to do this. It’s a welcome break from constantly harping on shitty Disney sequels, though hopefully I’ll be done with that whole series soon enough. There’s just something about classic Disney that warms my heart. And it’s usually not even nostalgia either. There’s something legitimately enchanting about old Disney movies, especially the animated ones. It’s the style, the tone, the way the movies connect with its audiences – it’s just great.

Disney hasn’t completely gone off the deep end. While much of their latest stuff in terms of TV shows has been crap, I’ve been able to stomach a good portion of it. I even watch some of their stuff on and off.

They do well with their theatrically released movies. Hell, they dug themselves out a few hundred feet with the release of Frozen.

I believe many of their staff still have a good deal of heart. It’s the higher ups behind it all that tend to make their products the overly manufactured BS we tend to expect from Disney nowadays.

But what of our first feature for this venture? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? How well does it hold up in dear old Twix’s opinion?

Very well, actually. I have a great fondness of movies that, even if they do have issues that I could go off about, I like it so much that I don’t want to. This movie is very obviously one meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Sure Snow White’s 14 years old and pining for a boyfriend like she’s an old spinster. Sure one who clearly looks to be in his 20’s just happens upon her and falls in love instantly. Sure it seems odd that despite it being the dwarfs’ house and they’re just letting her live there that Snow White acts like a mother around the house and has the authority to give them orders. Sure it’s questionable that a 15 year old girl is living with seven small men. Sure it’s unsanitary as hell to have birds making decorative imprints in pies with their feet, but who cares? Just enjoy the show! And that’s what I did.

The animation is lovely. While rotoscoping was used for some scenes, it’s still one of the best examples of Disney animation in my opinion, and I am just a sucker for great animation. The faces on Snow White, the prince and the queen look off sometimes, but it’s nothing the normal non-nitpicker would point out.

The story is decent enough. All of the characters are likable. You even start to like Grumpy after a bit. The prince is just barely there. He has a love-at-first-sight thing going on with Snow White and shares one scene with her before leaving the movie and coming back at the end to wake her up with love’s first kiss. This was supposedly because he was the hardest character to animate, but I don’t see how he was more complicated to animate over the queen.

The songs stand up amazingly well, and so many of them I still hum randomly to this day.

I have my qualms with the ending, but it’s a Disney fairy tale movie from 1937. Nitpicking a ‘happily ever after’ ending just seems moot.

In regards to production, Snow White was a huge risk and accomplishment in animation history. It was the first ever feature length cel-shaded animated movie in history, and it came with a hefty price tag. So much so that many people around Walt Disney, including his wife, Lillian, and brother, Roy, tried numerous times to talk him out of the production. He went on with it anyway, mortgaging his house to fund the project.

 

In the end, it cost 1.4 million dollars or 25 million dollars today – more than five times the estimated budget of $250,000. His risk paid off. Snow White was a huge critical and financial success, and it even inspired the production of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. It has long since become one of Disney’s most treasured classics, and I can’t help but get caught up in it.

 

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable, unless you think about things too hard. They even ‘censor’ Snow White’s ‘death’. E for everyone!

CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown Episode 2

XSEP2TITLE

Plot: As the group is training, they start mocking Clay for bypassing an obstacle course just to grab the goal item off the platform and his ‘old man’ style of kung fu. Master Fung chastises the group for mocking Clay’s style since it’s an effective and smart approach to complex problems.

A Shen Gong Wu is detected, and this time it’s the Fist of Tebigong; a super powerful glove that delivers a mighty punch. They start selecting their own Shen Gong Wu to wield if they encounter Jack Spicer. Raymundo and Omi fight over the Eye of Dashi, each believing they have the rights to it (Raymundo had dibs on it, Omi actually won it in a Xiaolin Showdown) so they leave the selection to Fung, who gives it to Clay since he technically won the obstacle course challenge.

Fung also hands out the Mantis Flip Coin to Raymundo and the Two-Ton Tunic to Kimiko. Since they only have three Shen Gong Wu, Omi doesn’t get one. They arrive at the Shen Gong Wu’s location and find Jack. They have a battle with his robots, though Clay is taking his time preparing. In his delay, he and Dojo are knocked off a cliff and hang on a branch.

Meanwhile, Kimiko, Raymundo and Omi take care of the robots. Jack reveals he has a new ally; a mime. The group laughs at this, but soon come to realize that he’s no ordinary mime. He has magical powers that allow him to make anything he mimes become real. He mimes a box around Kimiko, Omi and Raymundo, trapping them and allowing Jack Spicer to go after the Fist of Tepigong.

Clay climbs back up and realizes that with his three comrades out of commission, it’s up to him to find and retrieve the Fist of Tepigong, though his friends have absolutely no faith in him whatsoever.

Clay comes face to face with the mime who pulls the old mirror gag on him. But Clay knows exactly how to take him out – by taking himself out. He punches himself in the face, causing the mime to do the same. Clay is tough enough to take the hit, but the mime is not.

Dojo manages to stumble upon the Fist of Tepigong and Clay tries to make off with it, but Jack uses his Third-Arm Sash to grab it from him.

Meanwhile, Omi, Raymundo and Kimiko try in vain over and over to get out of the box. In an effort to get the mime’s attention, Raymundo clacks the Mantis Flip Coin on the bars of the box, which makes them question why they never realized the box had bars before. Kimiko and Omi come to the conclusion that the bars appeared because Raymundo imagined there were bars. By that logic, Omi imagines the box has a door. The door appears, allowing them to escape, and they go off to help Clay.

Jack has Clay cornered, but Clay uses the Eye of Dashi to blow up some of Jack’s robots, making him lose grip of the Fist of Tepigong. Clay and Jack fight over it, causing a Xiaolin Showdown. The challenge? First to catch a nearby robin wins.

The challenge starts and Jack uses his heli-pack and Third-Arm Sash to chase the bird, but Clay is taking his time doing basically anything. After preparing, he rustles through a nearby sunflower patch and starts filling his hat with seeds. As his friends look on in exasperation, Jack crashes into a tree and the robin gently lands on Clays hand to eat some of the seed. Clay wins the Xiaolin Showdown and is granted the Fist of Tepigong and Jack’s Third-Arm Sash.

——————————–

This episode was alright, mostly because Clay’s my favorite character so far. He’s calm, cool, collected, kinda funny, uses my favorite element, and he’s the only one of the group who’s not really an asshole so far. However, I will say it was dreadfully predictable. You can tell the first scene is obviously setting up the big lesson of the episode (which is actually meant to be learned at that very moment, which is weird and redundant). Not only that, but it’s also nearly giving you a blueprint on how the Xiaolin Showdown at the end will turn out, especially when it’s revealed that the challenge is a race – first to get an animal no less (the goal in the obstacle course at the start was a stuffed dog)

The fact that the group is shaking their heads and groaning at Clay moving slowly during the race is both unwarranted and nonsensical. We never saw Clay physically moving slowly before this point. He bypassed the obstacle course to just grab the dog and then spent too much time warming up before the battle with the robots. Plus, they know that he won the obstacle course challenge because he found an easy solution to a complicated problem. They just escaped from the mime’s box with that lesson on their shoulders too, yet no one has a drop of faith in him.

Omi’s being even more obnoxious in this episode than he was in the last, and everyone’s being a bit of an ass to each other. There’s some playful ribbing in there, but they take a lot of shots at each other for no reason.

Some minor nitpicks – why do they instantly change into their Xiaolin outfits when a Xiaolin Showdown is called? And how did Kimiko have the time to dye and style her hair like that before they had to leave for the Shen Gong Wu?

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, our first Kimiko focused episode. Kimiko’s short temper is getting the better of her. When she obtains a Shen Gong Wu that requires full attention and calm to work properly, she struggles with it. With her temper make her lose her first Shen Gong Wu?