Friday, September 18, 2020

Hogwarts Legacy-Maneuver Through The Hype

Okay watch this trailer then we will discuss. 

Finished? Are you pumped for this game? 

Calm down. 

While the graphics look admittedly amazing, I have to point out the one thing missing from this trailer before the hype overruns everyone like the annoying internet troll that I am: 

There is no gameplay. 

We don’t even get a hint as to what kind of game it is. Presumably it’s some sort of open world affair akin to Bully, but for all we know it could be a Cooking Mama clone with a Bejeweled style minigame and microtransactions to unlock eye color. My point is that all this trailer really gives us is that it’s Harry Potter and it presumably takes place long before the books, so it doesn’t have to deal with a lot of cannon stuff, a la Knights of the Old Republic, but that it. 

What I Want To See

Okay so maybe I just want them to rerelease Bully, because honestly that game was a perfect school-based sandbox, so I basically want Bully but with magic, but let’s get technical. 

*Open World

Open world Harry Potter games have been tried before with mixed results, the best probably being the Lego Harry Potter games, but if we’re going to go open world with this thing then I want open world. I want a layout of Hogwarts castle with secrets, collectables, and fun easter eggs as far as the eye can see. I want Hogwarts to feel like a place not just a box painted to look like Hogwarts. 

*Limited Combat

The trailer shows the Harry Potter brand zombies and a bunch of Hagrid’s favorite pets, but honestly if most of the game is fighting I’m out. One thing about the Harry Potter series is that while combat is important it’s not the focus of magic. Being able to figure your way through a combat with a variety of spells, like levitating an enemy onto a nearby chandelier, turning them into a ferret, or animating a nearby suit of armor to fight for you would be far better than the standard shoot spells until the bad guy falls down. 

*Character Customization

There’s arguments for and against custom characters in video games. Established characters like Nathan Drake and Aloy let the player experience that character’s story, making a potentially rich story driven narrative as we see a character change and grow throughout the game. However, as I’ve argued many times before, I don’t read Harry Potter because I’m interested in what happens to Harry Potter. The world Rowling created is to me a far more interesting character than most of her mains (Except of course Snape who is straight up Shakesperian). I then would want to play a custom hero, a self-insert to see how I’d personally do in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, what decisions I’d make and how I’d create my own story. As my contemporary Spencer indicates in his 5 Additional Harry Potter Story Ideas, this world has so much potential to be explored, so many untold stories, that it would be fun to tell one of our own. 

Please do it right.


Monday, September 14, 2020

5 Additional Harry Potter Story Ideas

During the height of lockdown, I started listening to a podcast called “Tales from Godric’s Hollow”. It’s basically a virtual book club for Harry Potter. It’s got the series on my mind again (not that it’s ever too far away). With the third installment of Fantastic Beasts creeping up (wayyyyy too slowly… ugh), I’ve got thinking about other potential stories from the Potterverse that could be developed after Fantastic Beasts ends in a few years.

Harry Potter wouldn’t be the first franchise with an ever expanding universe. Star Wars has been doing it with its cartoons and The Mandalorian and the MCU has done it with TV shows, movies, comics, and shorts. It wouldn’t be a far-fetched idea for JK Rowling to continue expanding this magical universe. So following in the pattern of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I’m going to choose titles from the Hogwarts library as the basis for these potential spin-offs.

Hogwarts: A History
The school of witchcraft and wizardry has a rich history and there are plenty of stories to tell. From the founding of Hogwarts, to Slytherin’s departure, or even the Blood Baron and the Gray Lady’s story, there are lots of stories to tell. We could easily get a movie or even a trilogy telling the stories of the early days of Hogwarts. How did Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin find each other? What was the story of their falling out? There’s a lot that could be expanded on.

Quidditch Through the Ages
There are a lot of options for this one. We could have a magical movie about the origins of Quidditch. Or we could have some sort of feelgood sports movie (but with Quidditch). I’m sure there are some adventures around the Quidditch World Cup that we could show. Maybe something about Ginny’s time playing professionally? Again, there are a lot of options of where this movie could take us.

The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
We’re bound to get more of Dumbledore’s backstory with the remaining three Fantastic Beasts movies, so this one might be a moot point. However, I'm sure there’s a lot more of the Dumbledore family’s story that we could develop. We could see Dumbledore Sr’s imprisonment, we could see Dumbledore and Grindewald’s teenage years (if we don’t see it in Fantastic Beasts), or we could see the in-between years after Grindewald’s defeat and Harry Potter’s birth.

The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts
There are any number of dark wizards we could choose from to do this story: Grindewald, Voldemort, or some wizard from centuries ago. The rise and fall of Voldemort’s empire during the First Wizarding War would be my ideal. We got bits and pieces throughout the Harry Potter books, particularly Half-Blood Prince, but the tension leading up to Voldemort’s defeat could be exciting. It would also give us a chance to see the original Order of the Phoenix, before the murder of the Potters.

Advanced-Potion Making
The story of Severus Snape. Even though I have a distaste for his obsession with Lily Evans, as I’ve stated before, seeing more of his story could be interesting. What was it like for him growing up with a witch mother and a muggle father? Could we get more in depth on his friendship with Lily Evans as kids? Most importantly, I’d love to see more of his time at Hogwarts and how things played out with the Marauders. We saw bits and pieces in The Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows, but that’s one small snippet that made James look bad. What was life really like for Snape?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
It might be a book of unrelated short stories, but what if it wasn't? We know there was historical, factual basis for the story of the Deathly Hallows. What if Beedle the Bard's other tales have a basis in history too? Even better, what if they're intertwined? We could get a live action sequence of the Deathly Hallows story. Plus, we could get "Babbitty Rabbitty" and the others stories shown as well.

What Harry Potter stories do you want to see in the future? If you had your choice, which era would you want JK Rowling to expand on next? Also (I've said this before) can we please see Newt and Hagrid interact in a future Fantastic Beasts movie?

Friday, September 11, 2020

Muppets Now- What We Need Right Now

 If your house is still standing through the wind, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters raining down on us, then it's probably a good time to celebrate. And what's a better way to celebrate not being dead than with the Muppets and their latest series Muppets Now on Disney+! (Seriously Disney, at this point why aren't you sponsoring us?)

The Setup

In Muppets Now we see the Muppets branching out into an internet streaming service type model, with small segments devoted to mini shows the Muppets are putting on. Miss Piggy has her lifestyle show, where you get to learn to be as fabulous as she is, the Swedish Chef has a celebrity cooking show, and so on, each bringing their own fun to the concept. Several of the segments are done in an online call-like format, giving it an authentic feel to the Zoom ruled world we live in now. Since the show was filmed at least a year ago, there's no way they could've known how things would be today, but like Animal Crossing New Horizons coming out just when people needed that type of game, I have my own conspiracy theories. 

The Muppets Back To Form

The last Muppets foray into TV, The Muppets on ABC, lead to some controversy around the Muppets making more adult jokes and spending time in bars (Okay but for real though, that show was delightful, check it out). In Muppets Now the titular Muppets are back to form making jokes for the whole family to enjoy, with both the zany silliness for the kids and the subtle jokes only the grown ups would understand. The Muppets have always been able to cross generations with ease, and here they do it in spades. 

Something To Look Forward To

Muppets Now has new episodes streaming every Friday on Disney+. With most sports cancelled, events put on delay and shows being put on hiatus for the foreseeable future, the steady drip of Muppet mayhem gives us something to look forward to weekly, which along with the laughs is something we can really use right about now. 


Monday, September 7, 2020

Pokemon Nicknames: Disney (Gen VI-VII)

Throughout this year I've been working on some Pokemon/Disney nicknames. Now it's time to finish off the Pokedex--minus the Galar Pokedex, since I've yet to play Sword. So without further ado, here is my last Disney/Pokemon mash-up.




(also Solgaleo)








(or Pinocchio)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Insert Mulan Review Here

 There's a parallel universe where Disney's live-action Mulan came to theaters, was a huge hit, we reviewed it, bought the merch, and there's talks of Oscars next year. Sadly, we're in the universe where movies were pushed back, the Oscars are in question, and Mulan is coming to streaming for an extra $30. 

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Why $30? 

It's hard to imagine dropping $30 for anything on an already paid for streaming service, but as a lot of things are this year, this is a special circumstance. It's probably not surprising to learn that it cost A LOT of money to make a movie, money which is hopefully made back with ticket sales and merchandise. Mulan was an exceptionally expensive movie, considering its cast of thousands, location shooting and hundreds of other extra expenses to make the film epic. With the parks closed and other big releases pushed back, Disney Studio has to be feeling the hurt from having this $200 million dollar baby sitting in their vault collecting dust. So the film had to come out somewhere to start making a return, hence why they decided to go with the $30 on Disney+ strategy, since if they could just make some of that money back it would be great. 

Now before the cries of "They're greedy corporate pigs!" start, let's remember that at the end of the day Disney is a business. The only way they're able to make wonderful things is if people pay for it, and even in a time of crisis they can't afford to give everything away for free. The early releases of Frozen 2 and Onward  on the streaming service were done after the films either made their public ticket sales or after ticket sales were no longer going to come in, so it made sense. Mulan though never had a chance. 

The next question is: Why not just release it in theaters since other films are currently releasing like New Mutants and Wonder Woman 1984? Again this comes down to Mulan's budget. which was higher than either film, meaning that the returns had to be more. With only 25% of theaters currently open and only at 50% capacity, Mulan was not going to make its money back there either. The streaming fee seemed like the best option. 

So Why Didn't We Get It? 

Now that I'm done defending Disney's controversial actions, let me explain why we don't have a formal review on here, since nobody on the blog ended up forking out the $30 to see the movie. 

The $30 price point is reasonable compared to the price of tickets one may spend when bringing their family (parents, kids, or maybe a Mushu loving cat) and when concessions are taken in it actually comes out to be a bargain. The thing is, nobody on this blog has that kind of family situation. For families consisting of two adults and maybe an infant, the price is just not worth it. $30 to see a film that'll be on our already paid for streaming service later this year anyway just does not work for us. So we all made the choice to not get it, based on our own economic situation. 

That being said, we're not saying that it's wrong to purchase Mulan for $30 if that's what you and your family want. Even if it's just for yourself or you and the spouse, if you feel it's worth it then more power to you, make it rain. At this point the film is releasing like a free-to-play video game, like Pokemon Go releases. You can play for free to your heart's content, but if you want to pay the option is there, and on the back end enough people are willing to pay that it keeps the lights on at the company and allows more content to be produced. It's not a new business model, it's just the first time we've really seen it applied to film, and it needs to be the individuals choice weather or not they want to or can pay the entrance fee. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Black Widow Binge List

We're finally nearing the release of Black Widow.Barring another pandemic, we're set to see Natasha's solo adventure on November 6--possibly with a Disney Plus release like Mulan. If you need a refresher on Black Widow before the movie gets released, check out this list. I posted it to Facebook back in March when it supposed to have a spring release. But since it was delayed, here we go again!

Iron Man 2 (2 hours 4 min)
Obviously the film mostly focused on Tony's issues (and he has lots of them) but Natasha was slipped in there to help him out/keep an eye on him. While Iron Man 2 tends to be associated with general distaste among fans, it did give us the introduction of Black Widow and War Machine. So despite the lack of focus on Black Widow, pull this one out and give it a watch.

The Avengers (2 hours 23 min)
Black Widow gets a bit more spotlight in this movie. The general focus ends up being on Cap, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk. All the same, Black Widow gets a decent spotlight and we get a glimpse into her past when she talks to Loki. The movie also gives Natasha her new family, the Avengers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2 hours 16 min)
Again, she's not the focus of the movie, but she gets more screen time than before. Black Widow teams up with Cap to fight against Hydra's infiltration of SHIELD. Like in Avengers, we get some small glimpses of her past. Nothing specific, but we see how big of a deal it is for her to reveal all of her covers when she spills SHIELD's secrets.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2 hours 22 min)
Unlike Avengers and Winter Soldier, where we only got verbalized references to Widow's past, in this movie we get some glimpses of her past when Wanda messes with her head. It's here that we really start to see how much the Red Room messed with her head. Finger crossed we get more of that in her solo movie.

Captain America: Civil War (2 hours 28 min)
Avengers 2.5, as they call it. Screen time is split pretty well between all the major heroes in the movie, but we get some good moments of Natasha still. Compared to when she was so secretive just a few years prior, this movie gives us a chance to see how much Black Widow has grown to care for her fellow Avengers, especially Cap; she shows up at Peggy's funeral and she lets Cap and Bucky pass in the end.

Avengers: Infinity War (2 hours 40 min)
Technically this one and Endgame take place after her solo movie, as we've been told, but I'm guessing they'll do some sort of tie-in. Even if it's just to lead us into how she teamed up with Cap and Falcon. I have some doubts that they'll show Cap and Falcon, but I'm guessing we'll get the connecting link.

Avengers: Endgame (3 hours 2 min)
Can't do a Black Widow prep list without showing her end. I'm guessing I'm not the only one that got thrown off by this. We probably all guessed that Black Widow was going to take place after Endgame, but since she died getting the Soul Stone, we got thrown for a loop. Endgame showed a great ending to her arc, in my opinion. She went from being a solo agent in Iron Man 2 to being a "family" woman in Endgame.

Agent Carter Season 1 (8 episodes - about 40 minutes each)
For optional, additional viewing, check out Agent Carter on Disney Plus. It takes place in the 1940s, so obviously you won't get any appearances of the Widow herself. However, you will see the Red Room where Natasha was trained, as well as the appearance of a spy they sent to face off against Peggy and her team.

Which movie do you think will be most important for your Black Widow prep? What do you hope to see in the movie? Any big tie-ins you're predicting? 

Monday, August 31, 2020

What does a 14-year-old autistic kid think of the new Phineas and Ferb movie?

Coinciding with the end of summer vacation, Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe was released on Disney+. (But really, with the quarantine, summer vacation was waaaaay more than 104 days!) I watched this awesome little film with my family, and we really enjoyed it. It had all the requisite Phineas and Ferb staples: amazingly funny songs, breaking the fourth wall, creative use of catchphrases, non sequiturs that make sense in the end. Yes, Perry kicks some serious butt and is the unsung hero of the show. (Though now that he has a song about being an unsung hero, is he still an unsung hero?) And yes, Doofenshmirtz has the best lines of all the characters and steals the show in every scene he's in. If you like Phineas and Ferb, you'll like this movie. And if you don't like Phineas and Ferb, what are you doing reading this article? And if you don't know what Phineas and Ferb is, go check it out, I'll wait.

But as I was making some notes about this show, I was listening to my 14-year-old making comments in the peanut gallery. This is a kid who used to watch Phineas and Ferb when they were younger, and loved it. Jamie is autistic and enjoys the show's creative use of repetition and some of the goofy, crazy things that happen in the series. And of course they love Doofenshmirtz because the Doof transcends neurodevelopmental disorders! So I decided to write down what this amazing 14-year-old kid was saying. Here are Jamie's comments, with absolutely no context. Enjoy.

"Oh, she's going to need some serious therapy after this.”

"Man, her phone must have some seriously high resolution.”

"The flossing dance? Ack. Not cool, Disney. Not cool."

"Bwa ha ha ha! I was NOT expecting them to just randomly interrupt their own song! That's perfect."

"What?! They had to create a specific sound effect just for that scene. That's crazy!"

"How long is this bit going to go on for? IT'S AWESOME!"

"They just need to kill that chicken."

"Of COURSE his axe-inator has a self destruct button."

"Well if that wasn't the definition of nonchalant, I don't know what was."

"Holy cow, why did he just have that in his pocket?!"

"Okay, this is going to be a not funny thing where she makes a big speech, but her big speech doesn't work. Classic."

"Dad, imagine there was just a chicken somewhere else."

"That list was kind of silly ... but I really relate to that last one."

I'm raising the quirkiest movie critic ever. Welcome to my world, people. I love it.