With so many people getting vaccinated, things seem to be picking back up. Here’s hoping this momentum continues.
Films watched in May 2021:
- Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962)
- Help! (Richard Lester, 1965)
- Insomnia (Erik Skjoldbjærg, 1997)
- Safety Last! (Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor, 1923)
- Insomnia (Christopher Nolan, 2002)
Between watching the classic Cape Fear, the classic Beatles film Help!, and both versions of Insomnia, it was a quite the interesting month for my home-viewing experiences.
Safety Last! is one of those films where even if you haven’t seen it, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve seen a reenactment of its most famous scene. Indeed, if anyone is asked to name a scene from a silent film, there’s a good chance they would pull the iconic one from this film – even if they don’t know it by name. It’s definitely worth a watch, and best of all, it’s in the public domain, so you can see it for free on the internet easily enough.
And if it’s one thing I really like about Christopher Nolan’s take on Insomnia, it’s that he didn’t settle for creating a 1:1 remake of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s film. There are similar story beats, but he goes in a rather different direction from the original. Both are worth watching, but I personally liked Mr. Nolan’s version just a little bit better.
Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons – Episode One: Marooned on Mars
Marooned on Mars is yet another one of those “great when it was released, unimpressive now” deals. In some ways, I kind of liken it to the original Bubsy in how it managed to bring a unique experience to a group of gamers who otherwise didn’t have access to it (it was about the closest thing SNES players had to a genuine Sonic experience at the time). Granted, by virtue of having a cohesive (if bland) level design, Marooned on Mars is by far the better game.
I also have more respect for Marooned on Mars simply because, unlike Bubsy, it had a definitively positive impact on the medium. Bubsy’s was a flash-in-the-pan success that died the exact second the mascot-with-‘tude platformer did. Conversely, while id Software’s later titles such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom are more directly responsible for making PC gaming a force to be reckoned with, Commander Keen was a necessary first step towards realizing those projects. Just giving a PC game the ability to scroll was huge back in 1990. Someone had to set a precedent, and while I think other PC developers would have figured it out eventually, it helped to have a programming wizard such as John Carmack speed up the process.
That being said, while it is a somewhat overlooked part of gaming history that I think deserves a bit more credit (being overshadowed id’s later accomplishments), Marooned on Mars is absolutely not an essential experience these days. I find early PC games were at their best when they weren’t even trying to replicate what worked on consoles because the standard PC setup was absolutely not conducive for your average platformer. The PC platform would eventually outpace consoles in terms of sheer technical innovation, but it would take them a few more years to get there. Therefore, to play this game now would be to witness every single one of those growing pains firsthand.
Wizarding Woes – Maybe it’s just me, but it always seems like the worst conservatives are former liberals. I wonder if it’s because those kinds of conservatives tend to come across as the most spiteful having been with it, and now being shocked/bitter that the world didn’t stay exactly the same as it was during the days of their relevance? In any case, it’s always a real shame to see someone with a lot of prestige throw in the towel like that – such as the case with J.K. Rowling. Megan’s take on the wizarding world was certainly a somber one.
Bubsy 3D: The Tremendously Bad PlayStation Platformer – Bubsy 3D is a much more tragic game than I think most people realize. Even so, its reputation as one of the worst games ever made is a deserve one, as Mr. Wapojif points out in his take.
DOOM 2016 Review: Testosterone the Game – In his take on the 2016 Doom, Alex makes the case that the game is proud to be a high-octane thrill, which is the kind of self-confidence I think more development teams could use, quite frankly.
Hellsing (Vol. 1) by Kohta Hirano – The deluxe editions of Hellsing have been released (with the third volume on its way later this month), and Lashaan Balasingam of Bookidote takes a look at the first one in his interesting take on the franchise.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – After having previously checked out Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, Matt of Nintendobound revisits Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, the remake of the series’ fourth (?!) entry.
Rhyme like a Rolling Stone! The Persona 3 Retrospective, Part 6(e); Characters-Koromaru, Ken, and Shinjiro – In his deep retrospective of Persona 3, Aether ponders a question that has confounded critics for decades: why would they include a child character in a story not optimized for them?
Links to my articles: