August 2019 in Summary: Back on Track

Alright, I think my new scheduling format worked out well. It’s nice not having to post these reviews at the last minute, I’d say.


Films watched in August 2019:

In theaters:

  • Blinded by the Light (Gurinder Chadha, 2019)
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, 2019)

At home:

  • Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956)
  • Apur Sansar (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

After wrapping up Stranger Things, I set out to finally complete my viewings of The Apu Trilogy, having seen Pather Panchali some time back. All in all, it’s probably one of the few trilogies I’ve seen that lacks any weak entries. It does share one strange commonality between many I’ve experienced in that the second one ended up being my favorite. I still say film critics are too adverse to the idea of sequels, but I will admit if any sequel had the honor of overriding their sensibilities, Aparajito was a solid choice. Apur Sansar, while not as good, did manage to provide a sound conclusion to the series.

The following week, I ended up seeing Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light. As a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s work, it was interesting getting to see a film about the influence he had on others. Goes to show that applicability goes a long way, huh?

Finally, at the very end of the month, I wound up seeing Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz’s The Peanut Butter Falcon. After Holes, I’d never thought I’d ever utter the words “Shia LaBeouf was good in that one” again, but here we are.


Films reviewed, but not watched in August 2019:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, 2018)

You know, it’s times like this I wish I could upvote a comment more than once.

Now that the obligatory shot at Owen Gleiberman’s expense is out of the way, let’s move onto my actual thoughts on the film. 2018 seemed to be the year of critical darlings utterly failing to live up to the hype. To me, Eighth Grade is basically Lady Bird 2.0. This is to say, it was a massively overhyped work whose protagonist got more praise for what she is rather than who she is. It especially doesn’t help that in the wake of The Edge of Seventeen, it’s rather unimpressive and dull. It was a nice try, but the execution issues and lack of charisma spell the film’s downfall. Even if you were to ignore The Edge of Seventeen (which many film critics inexplicably do) Booksmart is a much better Gen-Z-driven comedy that rendered Eighth Grade obsolete the exact second it debuted.


Games reviewed in August 2019:

Why, yes, I did go out of bounds 13 feet above the water. What of it?

Pilotwings (Nintendo EAD, 1990)

Pilotwings foreshadowed the kinds of games we’d get by the end of the decade, and for being such a prophetic blueprint, it deserves its place in history. That said, it’s also about as difficult of a sell as the original Super Mario Bros. due to the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, a technical marvel became the baseline. Considering how well Super Mario 64 has held up, I wonder if maybe this is a secret precedent to that game. The pattern certainly holds true given how Nintendo would really step up their game in such a short amount of time. Revisiting Pilotwings wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but the experience it provides is either far too easy or brutally frustrating with no middle ground whatsoever.

Kirby’s Adventure (HAL Laboratory, 1993)

The ability to copy enemy abilities is such an integral part of the Kirby experience that it seems inconceivable that it didn’t exist since the series’ inception. This simple mechanic allowed the series to finally grasp its latent potential. In a lot of ways, I find myself comparing the Kirby series to Yoshi’s games insofar that it got off to a phenomenal start with HAL issuing a lot of great titles in a very short time span only for it to burn out roughly around the mid-2000s and never fully recover. Sure, there were a few good games since then, but none really recaptured the series at its best in the 1990s. Still, even if the Kirby renaissance didn’t last long, many classics resulted from that time period, and we have Kirby’s Adventure to thank for that.

Pilotwings 64 (Nintendo EAD & Paradigm Simulation, 1996)

Unlike the original Pilotwings, Pilotwings 64 actually grasps the importance of implementing a natural difficulty curve. Along with the overall better level design, it is an effort superior to the original game in pretty much every way that matters. It still, in many ways, comes across as a tech demo for the Nintendo 64, though not to the extent where later efforts make this one redundant.

Godzilla NES Creepypasta - Blue Mountains

Huh? I don’t remember this happening in my playthrough.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (Compile, 1988)

That’s right, what inspired me to play Monster of Monsters and write a review of it was a certain story that I read for the first time about eight years ago (this one, specifically). This is one of the very few examples I can think of in which a piece of fiction turned what was originally a forgettable, below-average experience into something grander. It wasn’t until I began reviewing games that I had an actual cause to play it myself, though I didn’t think to do it until after I saw the original Godzilla earlier this year.

However, that knowledge actually makes trying it out even more disappointing because Monster of Monsters was very much a product of the “let’s worry about securing the license first and making an actual good game second (maybe)” era. I do not miss the days in which, for the lack of a globalized computer network, one could buy a game such as this simply because of the license, and Monster of Monsters is a perfect example as to what developers could get away with back then. Then again, Compile actually was a capable developer (they would later create Puyo Puyo), and Anguirus and Rodan being cut from the game along with the limited animations of the monsters that did make it in suggests to me that it was rushed. It’s a shame because there are plenty of solid ideas to be found here, but nothing that makes playing it a worthwhile experience – even for Godzilla fans.


Featured articles:

“Enter If You Dare – Nintendo 64 – Castlevania – 1999” – After the success of Super Mario 64, many well-known franchises attempted to make the 3D leap, Castlevania was one of them. The3rdPlayer takes a look at the result: the 1999 edition of Castlevania (sometimes called Castlevania 64). He makes the case that while it wasn’t the disaster Contra: Legacy of War was, it still had a lot of problems.

“Project G-Godzilla” (1954)” – As the first part of his Godzilla retrospective, Aether takes a look at the film that started it all. Given what the series later became, it has a chance of catching even those forewarned about its tone off-guard, coming across more as an unorthodox horror story than a standard kaiju film.

“On reviews, scores, and objectivity vs. subjectivity” – Inspired by my calling out film journalists for the Lady Bird incident wherein they proved that certain grown adults have less maturity than the average preschooler showed excellent judgement when it comes to determining what should be considered newsworthy, AK of Everything is Bad for You wrote a good think piece about the how objectivity and subjectivity plays a role in critiquing works.

“Journey: Breathtaking Indie Game Excellence” – Continuing to pick up the slack of gaming journalists, Mr. Wapojif actually talks about an indie game – Journey, that is. I have to admit it didn’t really grab me when I attempted to play it, and even if it has likely been surpassed, I do want to revisit it someday.

“Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom Review (PC) – the secret of his power” – After game journalists let it fall by the wayside, it’s nice to know that other people are checking out the Wonder Boy reboot Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. It may not have received much of a fanfare, but there were a lot of talented people behind this game, and it’s worth looking into if you’re a Metroidvania fan.

“Book Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova” – One of the most irritating things is whenever a work fails to live up to its potential. In fact, that is partially why I disqualify works with weak endings. Last month, Sarah of Hamlets and Hyperspace reviewed a book that did just that: The Alchemists of Loom.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review” – Scott of the Wizard Dojo also took a look at Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film this past month. He managed to make several solid points in between his admiration and disappointment in this sweeping ensemble film.

“Review of Shazam!”Shazam! is definitely one of the better films of this year, and seeing The Otaku Judge finally pitch his two cents on it was great. It goes to show that sincerity and comedy can indeed mix.

“Top 10 Terrible Status Effects in Video Games” – Status conditions are one of those things that are either a minor nuisance or absolutely crippling; there is no in-between. The Brink of Gaming takes a look at ten status conditions you would never want to deal with, but inevitably will playing RPGs.

“Yoku’s Island Express – Review” – I am not a pinball fan by any stretch of the imagination. Nonetheless, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Yoku’s Island Express, and geekmid’s review of it makes me want to check it out even more.

“It’s a Classic: ‘Batman: Year One’” – Hey, remember back before Frank Miller went off the deep end? I don’t, but Chris Evans (a.k.a. The UK Geek Blogger) does, hence why he reviewed Batman: Year One. I did enjoy what I read of The Dark Knight Returns, so I’ll probably pick this one up as well.


Still to come:

As you may have noticed, my first review of this month was not Pokémon Black and White. Rest assured, I have made a lot of progress on the review and intend to post it next Sunday. If time allows it, I will also review the set of sequel games: Black 2 and White 2 this month. My review of Blinded by the Light will be posted the following Wednesday with a review of The Peanut Butter Falcon to follow on Saturday.

If you can believe it, I am coming very close to reaching both the 200-review mark in gaming and the 100-review mark in films, so we have that to look forward to as well. I’m not sure if I have anything special planned for my 100th film review, but I will reveal one of my 10/10s for my 200th game review.


Links to my articles:

Film reviews:

Game reviews:

Other posts:

23 thoughts on “August 2019 in Summary: Back on Track

  1. Thank you for featuring me! I’m a big fan of pinball myself so that could be clouding my judgement, but even so I think the uniqueness of Yoku’s Island Express should still be of appeal to a non-pinball fan 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! And I have to admit that while I’m not much of a pinball fan, I generally do like the pinball-themed stages in platformers (e.g. the Casino Night Zone from Sonic 2), so I think Yoku’s Island Express would still be right up my alley.

      Like

      • Glad to hear it; if that’s the case, I agree that it should definitely be a game you enjoy. It’s hard not to like it; it has a wonderful charm and the combination of pinball with Metroidvania elements is really compelling.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying these reviews that much. I find many of these games have very interesting stories regarding their development. Then again, even simple games tend to have more complicated productions than the average film (if not universally so).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Weeks later, but yeah, I’d like to chime in on that. I particularly enjoy the way you lead into your reviews by giving a little look behind the scenes. I rarely look much into the development end myself, so even for properties I know well, it always sheds an interesting light on them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks! I know I’ve discovered a lot of interesting backstories this way such as how Metroid got its name or how much of a heartbreak Bubsy 3D was for its lead developer once he saw Super Mario 64 being demonstrated for the first time.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks as always for the shout out!

    Also did I miss your review on Blinded by the Light? Because I have actually been waiting for your review. I just presumed you were going to watch it. Don’t ask why, I already know better than to assume.

    I don’t see it listed at the end so I’m just hoping that means it hasn’t been posted yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding Eighth Grade, even though I haven’t seen the movie I completely get where that commenter is coming from. I’m just in my thirties now, one of those older millennials, and I sure as hell wouldn’t claim to understand how kids today think. To think a guy at the tail end of middle age would claim that is nuts.

    And thanks again for the tag. It’s truly stupid, some of the stuff these sites find newsworthy. And then they expect to be taken seriously when they dabble in actually serious political and social issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is what happens when you don’t think through your implications. In fact, what you said right there is precisely how I feel about the article. I too am much closer to that demographic than Mr. Gleiberman, and I have not the capacity to say whether or not Eight Grade nails Gen-Z youth culture (just the capacity to know it’s not that good). Hell, I don’t think I would be able to say a given work nails the zeitgeist of my own generation. It’s not like every single person of a given generation is cast from the same mold. It’s yet another case of someone with a degree of weight behind his words overstepping his boundaries because he believes the subjects to be beneath him.

      And you’re welcome! I’m glad to see that more and more people aren’t taking these journalists at face value; they need to learn that respect is earned – they’re not entitled to it just because they got the job.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! Status conditions are strange in that they’re either a minor nuisance or completely debilitating; there never seems to be an in-between. I think much of it depends on how many characters you control in battle. In an action-RPG wherein you control only one character, poisoning is a pretty major setback.

      Like

  4. As always, thanks for the mention. I figured, if you mentioned me here, it was probably going to be my Once Upon a Time in Hollywood review. Though I also thought my reviews for Super Mario Maker 2 and CG Lion King were probably contenders as well.

    Dang, that Owen Gleiberman quote is pretty hilarious. “Let me tell you, as an older man, how this movie made by older men for the adult crowd totally gets today’s youth.” He might as well say “I’m hip, I’m cool, I’m totally down with your awesome scene” (little Third Rock from the Sun quote there). I really have to wonder what bizarro world some of these critics/film buffs hail from…

    Looking forward to your upcoming content.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I did like reading your take as someone who hasn’t seen all of Tarantino’s films.

      Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? Sometimes, I entertain the idea of making a parody of his writing style, but I get the feeling I’d accidentally plagiarize editorials he hasn’t written yet. And even if I haven’t watched much of that show, I gotta give you props for the shout-out.

      In the case of Owen Gleiberman specifically, I strongly suspect he’s the type who needs people around him to reel him in to be successful. He worked for Entertainment Weekly for a little over two decades before being laid off a few years ago. Shorty thereafter, he became Variety’s chief film critic, and he clearly can’t handle that responsibility given his propensity insult his audience when things don’t go his way. I can believe that he was better as a subordinate than as a leader because his writing now is pretty bad seeing as how he randomly capitalizes certain words and interjects phrases that disrupt the flow of his prose.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to AK Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.