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Kingdom Hearts II

Everything a sequel could ask for
Arguably one of the most anticipated games since the first shots were revealed in summer 2003, Kingdom Hearts 2 had much hype living up to it. After all, the first Kingdom Hearts was a very enjoyable action-RPG. It combined the worlds of Disney and Final Fantasy, filled with a massive story, full-on interaction with the various Disney worlds, quickly paced battles that challenged the reflexes and wits, and fun little mini-games to pass the time. It wound up becoming a hit, despite its shortcomings such as an annoying camera and a series of weak series of "Gummi Ship," shooting levels. In 2004, a Game Boy Advance title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was released, which bridged the events of the first game and its upcoming sequel. With appetites whetted, fans eagerly anticipated the release of the PS2 sequel over a year later. And now, with it finally out after 3 1/2 years, you may ask, "Was it worth the wait?" You bet it was.

First, the graphics. They are simply beautiful. The designers perfectly captured the animation in the first game, and despite that, the new one looks even better. From the cartoony steamboat of Steamboat Willy fame to the Beast's flowing cape, the movements, designs, and animations can almost be mistaken for a finished animation cel. Its interesting to that all of the returning Final Fantasy characters sans Cid have received all out makeovers, and instead of a more anime-ish look like the first game, they now sport some slightly more realistic designs.

Story wise, KH II is just as good as the first. Yes, a certain major villain from the first is back, and yes, you're traveling worlds trying to beat Heartless, but thankfully, it's not a rehash. It has quite a few interesting twists and turns and even a few very emotional moments, starting with the beginning, which interestingly enough, doesn't feature Sora at all, but an entirely new character. And by the time Sora returns, we wind up caring for this new character quite a bit, and actually wind up missing him. And Mickey fans rejoice: while the Mouse only appeared for about a minute of the first game, this time around he has a much larger role.

Gameplay wise, Kingdom Hearts II excels. Although the platforming is gone, Square has made sure that you won't be bored. Some tasks include a wild ride on Aladdin's magic carpet, helping Mulan join the Imperial Army, singing in a duet with Ariel, and helping an amnesiac Winnie the Pooh get enough honey to eat on an insane adventure that goes throughout the 100 Acre Wood and even on the text of the Pooh book itself. The combat, well, it takes the cake. The new system is incredibly deep, filled with Reaction commands that let you perform new combos against enemies and bosses, Limit attacks that let you perform combination attacks with your various party members, and the drive gauge, which not only enhances the power of your summon monsters, but also allows Sora to merge with his allies into a full blown powerhouse warrior. The Gummi Ship segments are no longer a chore: gone are the slow-moving bland environments from the first game, instead giving us a fast paced blast fest that does a much better job of replicating the old quarter munchers of yore. And did I mention the fact that the camera has improved greatly?

There are many new tunes that each perfectly fit each new world, with the themes from the returning worlds also coming back. I have little complaints overall, in fact, my biggest gripe is I would have loved to hear "What's This?" being played during the Christmas portion of the Nightmare Before Christmas world. Voice wise, well, Haley Joel Osment once again shines as Sora, Christopher Lee is absolutely brilliant as Diz, and of course the usual Disney VAs such as Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, and Bill Farmer, are perfect. Best of all, most of the cast members have voices, including returning ones who didn't in the first such as Chip and Dale, the rest of the Winnie the Pooh cast, and Cid. Only a few do not have voices, such as Uncle Scrooge McDuck(which is a shame, as I would have loved to hear Alan Young) All of the returning Final Fantasy cast members, save Cloud, have new voices though, and range from good(Squall/Leon) to disappointing(Aerith).

Kingdom Hearts II is definitely worth the time we've endured, as well as the $50 dollar price tag. This is a must buy title and it leaves me anticipating just what the unbeatable team of Disney and Square will do next.

Tales from the Crypt

One of the best TV shows ever made and one of HBO's finest...
Based on the gruesome EC comics of the same name, Tales From the Crypt showcased a wide ranged of talent in both in front and behind the screen. And despite the name, not every episode was pure horror... some could be laugh-out-loud humorous, and some were even dramatic that could put you to the verge of shedding tears. The makeup on the series was excellent, and made the scenes that were gruesome very hard to watch. And of course, let's not forget the the dead one himself, the Cryptkeeper. John Kassir was absolutely perfect as the voice of the ghoulish host. For people who missed the series, I truly think you should purchase the DVD sets and check it out. Be warned though, there are some scenes that you may have a tough time stomaching.


In a perfect world, Firefly wound still exist...
Fox knows nothing about quality. They keep drek like American Idol and the disgusting self-parody of itself that the Simpsons has become, and yet they cancel an innovative show like this.

The series was a fitting blend of almost space opera sci-fi, and classic westerns. It started an interesting storyline about the overall main villains who had experimented on River Tam, a child prodigy who was smuggled out of their grasp by her own brother and which is what led them to being on the Firefly-class ship Serentiy. Unfortunately, it was never wrapped up due to the show's premature demise. But despite the fact that the story was never developed, the show is still worth watching just to watch just for the excellent performances and relationships between the characters, from Han Solo-like captain Mal, to gruff, yet surprisingly loyal gunman Jayne to ship mechanic Kaylee.

A great series indeed. Firefly may be gone but it will not be forgotten.


Takes everything good about the TV show and stomps on it.
While not everyone may have heard of the television series Firefly, most who have actually feel that it was pretty darn good. The series featured a group of outlaws on a spaceship called Serenity, doing their best just to survive, in a show that blended sci-fi space with Wild West settings and themes. The strong cast didn't hurt either, and each character wound up playing an important role in the series, so much that in contrast to most shows where there was at least one main character you'd wind up loathing, each and every one was likable. Unfortunately, FOX never gave it the chance it deserved, first by airing the series completely out of the intended order, and then by canceling it only three months afterward. The series getting a theatrical movie seemed like a perfect opportunity to get a second chance.

The only problem is, the film messes with EVERYTHING that made Firefly great. The Western theme is forgotten within the first few minutes, and becomes moreso straight up sci-fi than anything else. Two of the beloved characters are killed for no good reason, the first in a role that isn't much other than to be killed, the second done off in what seems like an afterthought. Other than Mal and River, who now suddenly knows kung-fu I might add, none of the characters none of the characters get that much focus or screen time either. The plot winds up becoming completely ridiculous compared to Firefly's somewhat more believability. It also winds up shifting villains, from an embarrassing, would-be, sword swinging "super ninja" called the Operative, to the menacing, flesh-eating Reavers that we've always heard of in the TV series, and who we now finally get to see... but for some reason look like outcasts from an 80's biker gang.

The film can't even keep its continuity straight. For example, late in the film, River battles the Reavers. They overpower her and drag her off, presumably to be tortured and killed. Oh no! It seems that she's done for! It instantly cuts to Mal fighting said embarrassing would-be super ninja, then cuts back to River... who is now smacking Reavers about back and forth with no explanation whatsoever as to how she escaped. Now that is poor. C'mon Joss, you can do better than is. Is it really so hard just to say, add a minute of footage that shows River escaping? Firefly deserved so much better than this.

Hagane no renkinjutsushi

Quite possibly the worst excuse of an anime ever created, TV or not
Fullmetal Alchemist. Thanks to the channel Cartoon Network, many now know of its existence. And I admit, seeing the promos almost a year ago definitely sparked my interest. When I received the chance to check the series out, I took it. I was expecting a fantastic, revolutionary series that made praised anime shows like Yu Yu Hakusho and Paranoia Agent look like Tekken the Movie. Boy did I let my hopes up.

I might as well talk about the one decent thing the series has. Studio Bones really put themselves into high gear with the animation. Movement is fluid and the artwork is well defined and detailed. But when it comes to terms of plot and character, FMA falls flat on its face.

First off, the characters are as shallow as they come. They start out as essentially cardboard cutouts. Guess what? They never evolve beyond them either. There's the typical hot-headed young hero that acts first and never thinks about his actions beforehand yet has a heart of gold, the cliché kind-hearted always-thinks-of-others youth, the smug, manipulative character, the "sexy" clad-in-black villainess, the would-be tough guy that acts against the heroes but winds up allying with them.... stop me if you've heard any of these before.

The storyline itself is utterly laughable, with every major "plot twist," coming a mile away, eventually ending in a convoluted alternate reality saga that just keeps on piling with cheap revelation after another until it becomes the story equivalent of a train wreck. Even the pathetic attempts at humor to lighten the mood are unfunny as they come: they often consist of main character Ed throwing a temper tantrum(there's that being a hot-head), usually because someone by complete accident calls him short. As a result, the humor eventually winds up becoming just as stale.

Hopefully Cartoon Network will finish showing the second half of this waste of half an hour, and thus get this crap off the air and an actually decent series, anime or not, on. I know to a typical FMA fan I probably sound incredibly harsh in this review. Guess what? I had many high expectations for this show. It didn't live up to any of them.

Disneyland: Super DuckTales
Episode 18, Season 33

The origin of Gizmo-Duck!
This special concludes the second season of Ducktales, which features the debut of Fenton Crackshell. The story involves the Beagle Boys changing the plan for a Freeway to cross the path of Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin, which means it has to be moved. This is part of their plan to intercept it and steal it for Ma Beagle as a birthday gift to her. Knowing things are dangerous, Scrooge hires an accountant named Fenton Crackshell to help him transfer his fortune. When all of money is almost lost to the Beagles, Scrooge realizes he needs somebody to guard the bin, especially with it in its new location, so he asks Gyro Gearloose to build a robot security guard that won't let anybody near said bin. Gyro, as usual, takes things too literally and makes sure the security guard doesn't let ANYBODY near it. With Scrooge unable to even get near his fortune now, he has the inventor build another security guard, this time a robotic super suit. He programs the suit with a codeword, "Blatherskite," as he feels nobody in the world would every regularly say that, but Fenton happens to stumble on it, and was luck would have he says the codeword all the time, and when he utters it by accident the suit attaches himself Gizmo-Duck. Gizmo-Duck defeats the robot, becomes Scrooge's new security guard, and winds up defeating the Beagle Boys. Things are looking great until Ma Beagle gets ahold of the control-manual to Gizmo-Duck's gizmo-suit! With it, and the help of the genius Beagle Megabyte, they are able to take over Gizmo-Duck, causing him to loot the city on a crime spree, and also steal Scrooge's Money Bin! Now Gizmo-Duck is helpless as the Beagle Boys' personal servant, as well as an outlaw wanted by the police, Scrooge is now penniless, and the Beagle Boys own everything! Have the crooks finally won? It starts off great, becomes even better once Fenton becomes his robotic alter-ego, and fantastic once the Beagle Boys take over Gizmo-Duck. However, things wind up falling apart during the final act, as the shift on the Beagle Boys disappears, with aliens taking over the villain role, and Scrooge, Launchpad, and Gizmo-Duck wind up pursuing them into outer space. The part was completely unnecessary, which is the reason it loses a star. However, despite this weak final chapter, the animation is topnotch for the entire thing and the voices are as always above-par, including the addition of Hamilton Camp to the cast as Fenton/Gizmo-Duck. This special is near-perfect, with, as mentioned before, I feel the Beagle Boys should have been the baddies start to finish, instead of pulling the alien villains out of nowhere. Despite this shortcoming though, it's still a really fun watch. Sadly, though, Ducktales reruns aren't on the air right now, so the special isn't even available to view in its 5-part episode form, but here's hoping we'll eventually see a Ducktales DVD with this classic saga included.

Kaubôi bibappu

This is a great show, but CN's unending airings and Bandai milking the franchise is slowly, painfully killing the greatness.
There's always been some strange, wonderful quality in Cowboy Bebop. The series' overall plot isn't complex(in fact, it's quite simple), but the writers are able to work with it give it its own style. Each episode took a different approach. One episode could be in a film noir style, the next could be a pure laugh out loud comedy, the one after that could be a tragic episode that tugged at the heartstrings, and the one that came after that could be an insane, all-out action packed crazy romp. Fight scenes are well done and superbly animated, and Yoko Kanno's music shines brilliantly. Coupled with Cartoon Network giving it exposure on TV in the US(in Japan it was mainly released as an OVA series, with only a few episodes airing on television), it didn't take a genius to know that CB was destined for popularity.

The problem, which I should have foreseen when the movie was released, is that the series should have died a long time ago. It was great, novel, and fun to watch when it first came out. But both Cartoon Network and Bandai refuse to let CB die the graceful, dignifying death it deserves. CN has stubbornly refused to take it off the air for long, as if it does, it usually comes back on within a month or two. Bandai is taking the Evangelion route and slowly re-releasing the series in every way possible, from a "best episodes," selection to "Cowboy Bebop: Remixed." Now I just want to yell, "ENOUGH ALREADY!" People can only watch the same 26 episodes so many times before it stops becoming entertaining. I'm getting tired and want a new anime series, and my love for CB is slowly turning into resentment. I don't know if anybody from CN or Bandai is reading this, but you're killing this once great series by milking it for all it's worth, and if you don't let it die like it should have a long time ago, I will never forgive either of you.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The best looking video game ever made.... but that's about it.
Graphics do not a good game make. It's the one thing gamers should remind themselves should a great looking game pop up. It may look fantastic, but that doesn't mean the gameplay itself won't stink. And I must say, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of the best looking games in existence. Checking out the graphics in the default overhead mode does not do the lush visuals of the game justice. Viewing Snake's world through FP provides the real meat, with beautifully detailed jungles and dark, gloomy caverns, that will make the graphical power of other titles pale in comparison.

The gameplay itself is what causes this game to fall apart. Now, the key aspect of the Metal Gear series in general, has been stealth. Snake(and Raiden in MGS2) has always been doing his best to avoid trouble and stay away from enemies, using debris, the shadows, and the corridors for cover, and if need be, taking out any foes that he can't infiltrate by. Most of the series has relied on this simply via radar that can indicate his position, as well as the guards'. Snake Eater is the third MG game that does not have any sort of radar(the other two being the original MG, and Snake Tales, from the MGS2: Substance). As a result, it can be a bit harder to sneak by guards. However, the game does now provide a new camouflage system, in which Snake uses various camos to blend with his surroundings, with a % meter indicating how well Snake will blend, which would be great if the camos weren't 100% useless, as no matter how high the % meter is, the guards will always notice Snake, which causes an alert to go off. This also causes problems with the new "CQC" system. Now, if the player is actually able to get behind a guard, when Snake grabs him in chokehold, the player must make sure to keep about 10-12 different ways of holding him up memorized, and thus must keep the left analog stick and the O button in a certain way, or else they may wind up slitting the throat of the guard they were trying to get information from. All this hassle winds up leaving the player forced to stay hidden in the sidelines, forced to snipe their opponents via a tranquilizer or pistol from as far as possible to avoid being detected. This leads into a tedious exercise, which isn't very fun. And what bugs me the most is the guard A.I. As mentioned, they are near impossible to sneak by, especially with the previously mentioned useless camouflage. However, when they actually attack you, they apparently have their "stupid" modes turned on. When they draw their weapons, all they do is simply stand there shoot. They won't dodge your line of fire or seek cover when available, so it's very easy to simply aim at the guards and keep shooting until they all fall. Also hyped about the game is the new survival aspects. These too fall flat on its face. The main one is Snake's new stamina meter, which affects how fast his health recovers and how long he can stay underwater. It will continue to drop, moreso if Snake does tiresome activities such as swimming, and Snake must keep it up by eating the various wild life. The problem is that food is plentiful in almost every area, and even the food Snake doesn't care for that much will bring up quite a bit of stamina, so unless the player forgets to eat anything for 3 hours or so, it's pretty hard to actually lose all your stamina. However, apparently as an attempt to make up for this and have you continue to catch food, Konami has a really cheap trick included. If you save your file and don't play again for a while, all the time that passed since you last played will actually occur in "game time." As a result, any dead animals you have collected will rot up; if eaten will result in Snake getting sick. Also included is the cure menu. This is an annoying little system in which Snake must heal injuries received, such as gunshots and burns. If not treated, he won't heal as well. This takes a bit of time to go through the menus and heal him up, and I wish this had not been included, especially since some of the injuries you take are also incredibly cheap to begin with(such as being hit by a poison dart from behind). I admit there are times when the game actually shows some creativity, like what could have been(avoiding traps left by enemies), but these are few and far between.

The sound for the game is so-so. The music tracks are incredibly forgettable, and the voice acting, at least for the US version, isn't done that well, even from series regular David Hayter. The story itself is somewhere between love and hate. This time around, with the exception of The Boss, none of the other bosses/villains(the Cobras in this game) have any real focus, they're pretty much there to fight Snake and that's it, although mainly to further along Snake's story, so that at least is understandable. Snake himself goes through some decent characterization as he faces his inner demons, being one of the more empathetic characters of this title. However, many plot twists that occur throughout are extremely predictable, leaving me disappointed, especially when the title actually attempts to shine a little light on the the unanswered questions of the last game, even though this one is a prequel.

In all, we have left an incredibly disappointing(yet graphically stunning) new MGS. I truly hope that this is not Hideo Kojima's last MGS title, because if so, then whenever I see my other MG/S games again, I will always do so through a tainted view, where the once great series has been tarnished by this poorly executed prequel.

Family Guy

Fox once again shows why they're the worst station ever... IE, they're bringing this piece of crap back.
(spoiler) In 1999, Fox aired quite possibly the worst series ever to grace television, a horrible little show named Family Guy. It had ugly, rigid animation, and stale, unfunny, and extremely repetitive jokes. Repetitive in how, you would ask? Well, the jokes either came in one of two kinds...

1. They would try to make the lazy, ugly as sin father, Peter Griffin, a man with the most ANNOYING voice in history(so annoying I would love to take some scissors to his throat to shut him up) as much of a jerk as possible, for example, one episode he makes fun of a guy for being sad that his mom died(HYSTERICAL!). Repeat to death. Oh, yeah, real funny. I'm practically dying from laughter right now.

2. They randomly take a popular fictional character, such as Spider-man, or Mickey Mouse, or Indiana Jones or someone randomly pop up. Then, they repeatedly do this to fill in a full half-hour. Ohhhh, INCREDIBLY funny. Okay, there is occasionally...

3. Something where they just do something completely offensive. One episode I did unfortunately watch had them completely portraying Walt Disney as a sick, perverted sleaze ball. I'm sorry, but that is completely rude and disrespectful, and especially out of line for creator(and voice of about 91% of the cast) Seth MacFarlane. After all, if it wasn't for animation innovators like Walt Disney, Seth would probably be stuck in some dead-end job.

This sorry excuse for a series was horrible, with the laziest writing I have ever seen for a TV show(no, I am not counting reality TV). This series was a complete piece of crap. Apparently, FOX FINALLY realized this, and canceled it in 2001. While still hardly perfect, it was at least one actually intelligent move they made. Three years later, some moron apparently decided to bring this abomination back. Why!? Why must FOX destroy the rest of their respect(although, why should I care?)? I guess they must only be happy if they're showing piles of puke that try to pass themselves off as TV shows, since they went out of their way to put Family Guy back on the air. What can I say? This has to be FOX's worst mistake since canceling Firefly, or Futurama(then again though, at least that kept the show from growing stale, unlike the Simpsons, which has now become arguably worse than even Family Guy). Well, I hope for their sake FOX realizes what a stupid mistake they're making. Somehow though, I severely doubt it.

Toy Story 2

A rare sequel that's even better than the first.

Toy Story has always been a favorite movie of mine, and I was really looking forward to the sequel. My excitement paid off, as I found the film even more enjoyable than the first flick. The main reason is because it fixes the one complaint I had with the first film, which is that as good as it was, it pretty much only focused on Woody and Buzz, the other toys, with the exception of RC and the army men, really didn't do... anything. Not so with the sequel. Here characters like Potato Head, Slinky-Dog, Ham, Rex, and even those little green men get some chances to shine. The jokes are some of my favorites, notably Rex trying to beat a Buzz Lightyear video game, and trying to get the strategy guide to find out how. Being a video game fan myself, I found this scene hilarious. I feel this is an excellent sequel, and a must-see for any animation fan.

The Incredibles

Hardly incredible, merely okay
possible spoilers

The Incredibles, the latest film from Pixar, is yet the latest disappointment for me. Don't get me wrong. This is by no means a bad film... sadly, it's just that the film isn't that good, or at least as good as I would have hoped. The film takes place in a world where super-heroes, or "supers" as they're called, have been prohibited. One of them, Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, is eventually called back into action by a mysterious person, who turns out to be... Buddy, a guy who lost it after Mr. Incredible refused to let him be his teen sidekick. Since then, Buddy, now calling himself Syndrome, has secretly been killing all of the supers off one by one, until there's only a handful left: Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone. When things eventually get too tough for Mr. Incredible to handle, it's up to his wife Helen(aka Elastigirl) and their kids, Dash and Violet to land a hand. Overall, the storyline is pretty weak. It's a bit predictable, and nothing that much comes as a surprise, although the characters are for the most part likable. My major complaint with The Incredibles, however, would be that midway through it completely changes into a brain-dead action film, and if I wanted something like that, I would have watched a Bond movie. There isn't enough of the trademark "Pixar" wit that has been in films like Toy Story and Monsters Inc, something that I really enjoy. If I wanted an all-out action flick, I would have watched something like Overall, I probably could have waited until this came out on video and DVD.

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing

The return of 007.
James Bond is back! His first game since 2002's Nightfire provides a fantastic change of pace to the FPS Bond Formula. Instead, Bond has gone back to a 3rd-person shooter, but don't worry-- this isn't anything like the abysmal Tomorrow Never Dies. The story is a typical Bond-must-save-the-earth-from evil-diabolical-villain story. Nothing you really haven't seen before. If you like those kind, you'll like it, if you don't like those kind, you won't. It is as simple as that.

The gameplay is where Everything or Nothing shines. Although on the surface, it seems like a typical action adventure, what's best is the open-ended way you can tackle each mission one-by-one. Will you charge straight into a firefight or take out your enemies one by one from some cover? Will you use your gadgets to scout ahead or just keep your trigger finger ready when danger arises? Will you take out an enemy sniper from afar or use your grapple to get up to the ledge he's on and take him out with your fists? This kind of excellent gameplay allows the player to weave their own strategies on how to deal with each level. And like Nightfire, when you perform a move that's exactly like Bond would do, you'll get a higher score. And to add some variety, EA added in some awesome driving missions that rival some of the best chase scenes from the Bond flicks.

The graphics and sound are also excellent. The voice acting uses some top Hollywood talent, from the regulars like Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, and John Cleese, to newcomers like Shannon Elizabeth and Willem Dafoe, fresh off his stint from 2002's Spider-man video game. There's also the opening tune by Mya, one of the better James Bond songs in recent years. Plus, the graphics are amazing. They've been rendered to look EXACTLY like the voice talent, so much in fact that at times you'll actually believe at times that you're not looking at a video game, but the latest Bond movie on your TV set. The high production values just increase EON's movie-like quality.

There's only one small flaw in the film: The camera stinks! Like nearly every 3rd person action game in existence, the camera is just awful, it will often pan to obscure angles, often screwing your field of vision up. This is especially annoying when an enemy taking potshots at you, as by the time you adjust the screen to see them your health may be nearly wiped out. This annoying tidbit can get increasingly frustrating. However, that minor complaint aside, the game is another excellent addition to any gamer's library. I recommend this to any person who is a fan of action games, and eagerly await EA's next Bond title. 9.5/10.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Way better than the stupid cartoon.
Contains spoilers

Batman returns to movie screens, but this time he's doing so in pen and paint form. The feature has Bruce Wayne's alter ego being framed for grisly murders by another vigilante... this one called the Phantasm. The Phantasm has targeted mob bosses around Gotham, and the mob has begun searching for the killer, including Batman's nemesis, the Joker, voiced brilliantly as usual by Mark Hamill. Tying in with matters is Bruce encountering his lost love, Andrea, which causes him to reflect back on his events of his past with her, including his transformation into the guise of Batman. This is a very good animated feature, featuring strong animation, a great soundtrack, and an excellent voice cast. However, two of the reasons I enjoyed this film were things that the animated movie were able to get away with, things that Batman: The Animated Series, or Fox to be specific, wouldn't allow:

1. Characters die. There was never any death in TAS. Although this is also a good thing in ways, when one is discussing Batman, of all things, death is usually a common issue. No death can be good to hide from the really little kids, but can also cause a series to become extremely unrealistic and laughable(Cough, G I Joe, cough). Here, though, many of the mob bosses are killed by the Phantasm quite gruesomely, and the animated Joker is seen using his infamous, and quite lethal, Joker Venom effectively for the very first time. The fights are also quite violent, unlike in the animated show, we actually get to see Batman bleed, something that surprised when I first saw the film back during its theatrical release.

2. Batman doesn't always win. I'm sorry, but when I realized Batman: The Animated Series ALWAYS had Batman come out on top and save Gotham from whatever crime boss or sadistic villain he faced, I grew out of it and stopped watching. Here, however, he is humbled greatly. I actually compared this to an early episode of the TV series, "On Leather Wings," in which he is also framed and being chased by the police. On the episode he avoided the cops and was able to get away from them quite easily. Here, though, he had great difficulty trying to get away and almost wound up in police custody, even at one point being horribly wounded AND losing his mask.

So this is at last the good animated version of Batman fans were looking for. I suggest fans see this. Don't worry, it's accessible, even if you've never seen an episode of Batman: The Animated Series before in your life. Oh, and an interesting tidbit: Dana Delany, the voice of Andrea, also went on to do the voice of Lois Lane in the animated versions of Superman and Justice League.

Licence to Kill

This is the first PG-13 Bond flick, and you'll either love it or hate it...
... and I personally loved it.

(possible spoilers)

This is Dalton's second, and sadly last, film in the series, one that stays much truer to Ian Flemming's original character from the 1950's. Bond wants revenge on a drug lord that has nearly killed his best friend Felix Leiter(David Hedison, reprising the role from Live and Let Die), feeding him to the sharks, an event that happened to Felix in the original Live and Let Die novel. The authorities are to slow to act on what the criminal has done, and finding that MI6 has refused to allow him to be involved in the matter, Bond quits, and now on the run, has only two allies in his search for Sanchez, Pam Bouvier, a tough-as-nails ex-army pilot, and Major Boothroyd himself, Q, who not only provides the usual assortment of deadly devices, from an explosive alarm clock(which is never used, I might add) to a camera that turns into a sniper rifle, but also actively aids Bond in the field as well this time around. Sanchez himself is also a great villain, he is not the typical "conquer-the-world," villain like Blofeld, Drax, or even Trevalyn, he is just a crook trying to control his area of his crime market(drugs). The film is the most violent of all 20 movies, so much in fact that the film almost received an "R" rating. Sadly, these factors, as well as the huge supply of big named films that also came out in 1989, resulted in why the film bombed, as well as leading into one of the factors of the infamous "Bond franchise limbo" period. The film was bashed by both critics and moviegoers alike. However, that is not to say that LTK has gone completely without any success. The movie has become a cult classic among many hardcore Bond fans for these reasons, so it's not that the movie was a complete failure, just something that the public may not have been ready for. One can only hope that someone will eventually try to once again revisit the darker aspects of Bond, as they would certainly be preferable to the mess the more recent films have made out of themselves.

Ninja Gaiden

A good game, but hardly Ryu's return to form.
Ninja Gaiden was originally an arcade beat-em up, then became a side-scrolling action title, and after sequels and spinoffs, simply disappeared after 1994's Ninja Gaiden trilogy, which was a collection of the three NES games. Afterwards, the main character, Ryu Hayabusa, became one of the fighters in the Dead or Alive games. Now, a decade after his last solo title, we finally see Ryu in another game of his own. Is it worth the wait? Somewhat, but not really.

First the good. It's obvious that the graphics are winners here. After all, Tecmo's Dead or Alive games are are quite graphically impressive. The story is also quite good, those who expect stuff on par with the NES trilogy's cutscenes will not be disappointed. It's just that when it boils down to the actual gameplay, the game falls apart. It seems simple enough, as it's similar to games like Devil May Cry and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, with exploring huge areas in 3D, as well as gigantic bosses, but in the end, things fall apart for the reasons that can plague many action games: 1., the controls, especially the faulty XBOX ones. They're just screwed up, for example, the main attack button also happens to be the same as the action button. Not only that, but the controls themselves can screw up. You may try to make Ryu run across a wall, but instead he'll try to run up the building. Second, the one thing that haunts about 99% of all 3rd-person games: The camera. It's just AWFUL. It will often screw you up in the direction you don't want to go in, or make it impossible to tell what enemy is hitting you at what time until half your lifebar is depleted.

So in the end, we have a decent, at best, action game, but far better than the horrid NES original. But it's not perfect. People wanting something to rival Ninja Gaiden 2: Dark Sword of Chaos will be disappointed. Proceed with caution.

Heathcliff: The Movie

Basically a Heathcliff marathon
Possible spoilers

Ah, I remember Heathcliff. I used to watch the show all the time when it was on Nickolodeon when I was still a kid. I also remember the movie. Basically, Heathcliff is forced to babysit his nephews, and spends the time recounting his adventures, thus showing episodes from the series, such as one episode where he meets a cat who looks just like him, one where he winds up working for a mob boss(the Catfather), one where his dad gets released from prison but he thinks he escaped, one where he actually tries to be good, and a few others. Although people who've seen the show before won't find anything new, people who haven't seen it before should at least check it out since it's really just a "best episodes" collection. Although I wouldn't go searching it out, it is a nice little show to watch every now and then.

Fainaru fantajî VIII

What part 7 should have been.
So much better than Final Fantasy VII. It more than atones for the mistake Square made when they thought it up. Squall alone is much better than his spiky-haired beach blonde "ancestor." He actually has REASONS for wanting to keep away from people. Although it seems he is very cold, it is because the pain of a previous loss was just too much for him, and he doesn't want anything like that to happen again for fear of facing that hurt once more. Unlike Cloud, whose convuluted story was force fed to people at an unstopping rate, Squall's past is taken in at a much slower pace. This alone gives me a much easier time to sympathize with him. On to the battle system, it has much more strategy than just putting rocks in your armbands or whatever they were to increase strength and let you do extra abilities that aren't even needed. Junctioning, though it takes a few seconds to figure out, is of utmost importance, depending on how wisely you use your strategy, you can wind up having your character a total powerhouse. As for the infamous summons, I personally barely use them. If people keep complaining about why the summons are too long, try using another tactic, 'kay? And the story is much more engrossing. It reveals more and more of the grand picture bit by bit, enough for you to make conclusions, but never actually gives you every single detail until near the end. And the plot twists, UNLIKE FF7, are NOT cheap revelations that make me want to throw the game in the trash. I could go on and on about this game, but I don't want to waste time(mainly I have work to be doing). Simply put, Final Fantasy VIII is an excellent RPG, and more than makes up for what Square was thinking when the created Final Fantasy VII.

101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure

Better than the live films and the TV show....
....but that's about it. Yeah, it's funny at times, and it's decent I guess. Still, I don't really have much to say about it. On the bright side, as I said before, at least it's not as bad as the live action movie and that awful TV series.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

First episode turned me off, but it got much better episode two and on.

Okay, I was a HUGE TMNT freak back in the heyday..... I still have a bunch of the toys, video games, vhs tapes, and comics...... so when I heard that FOX was going to have a new cartoon, I panicked and got excited. I got excited because I was a huge TMNT fan. I panicked because this could be screwed up VERY EASILY. And when I saw the first episode(Things Change), I was incredibly disappointed. However, I decided to give the series another chance, and with the second episode, I was plesantly surprised.

Things are much better, as the story is getting much more complex. Yet still, it retains the classic TMNT humor. Although the series is morely set in the original comic universe, it has a ton of references of the original '87-'97 cartoon, which will should please that show's loyal fanbase. Although the series still takes the way-out-there sci-fi approach of the first cartoon and the comics(I would prefer a more realistic setting, like the first movie did), I'm starting to like it more. The voices are pretty good(since the 4Kids group is using original material instead of giving awful dubs for series from Japan), with the exception of Raphael's voice. He just sounds too old for a teen to me, unlike Leo, Mike, and Don. But other than that, I like.

The personalities are, as usual, varied: Leo is still the leader-type of the group. Don is still the techno freak. Mikey is still the goofy pop-culture junkie. Raph has gone back from the joker of the group(1st series) back to the "lone wolf tough guy" persona, although this isn't that bad.

Aside from Raph's voice, I still have a few complaints. For one, Mike can cross the border from funny-cute to annoying. Two, I would prefer Baxter in his fly form from the first series instead of getting mutilated more and more each episode(currently he only has his head left...... but if it continues to follow the comic, he'll lose that as well). Three, the eye-catchers aren't as good as the original's. The original just had some creepy voice saying "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will return after these messages," with the TMNT logo in front of a blue screen. Subtle, but I think it worked. The current "1, 2, 3, 4, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!," from the theme song, and also showing one the four in action, just doesn't seem as interesting. But other than those really minor nitpicks, I think the new show is great.

So, if you've never seen or heard of the Ninja Turtles before, or at have been a huge fan of the 1st cartoon and can sing the original theme song blindfold, while being swung around by a rope upside down, or has been into the comics since 1984, I strongly recommend this new series. Check it out, and see it you won't be screaming "Turtle Power!," again.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings: The Boring Snorefest
While Fellowship was an excellent mix of drama and fantasy, as well as fantastic action sequences, this LOTR film falls flat on its face. Most of the film is spent on boring talk of how the group is dealing with the situation with Sauromon(or whatever the guy Christopher Lee played's name is), and the film apparently doesn't remember that it's bad@$$ characters can also swing one nasty sword and lay a beatdown on those stupid Orcs until near the end of the picture. According to my aunt, the book had tons of action sequences. Either: A., she got the title of the book mixed up with another one, or B., Two Towers the movie was changed A LOT from the book. Either way, after this atrocity, I am swearing off the LOTR films, and will in no way see Return of the King, even if the reviews dub it the best picture of the century.

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

Playing Hit & Run is like watching a new episode of the Simpsons...
(possible spoilers) other words, you could wind up hating them for it. How can I say anything else? This game is AWFUL. It's made by the people who made Road Rage. That, while not perfect, was a nice little detour for Simpsons fans. This, however, takes RR and spits over it.

The graphics are the EXACT same. The vehicles are the EXACT time. And the lines of dialogue used when the characters say some humorous line are the EXACT same. Yes, nearly everything from Road Rage is reused over here. I can honestly say that at times I forgot which game I was playing. The plot? Not a single bit funny. I didn't laugh a bit during the game, unlike Road Rage or the Futurama title. The story of an alien invasion tied in with a soda conspiracy is as lame as it sounds.

And the gameplay is less than up to par. The missions are horrible, either consisting of fetch quests, races or "destroy-the-car," missions(and good luck trying to complete that), and believe me, they are not fun to play at all. And with the horrid AI, it feels like every computer character in the game is against you. No joke, they will constantly swerve into you on purpose, and constantly set you back. And after you fail at these unfun missions, usually thanks to the AI I might add, for about the 10th time, you will be ready to scream.

I remember hating Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer like there was no tomorrow, but then this came out........ and I must say it is one of the biggest pieces of trash in existence. Don't believe me? I was looking forward to this game, and eagerly bought it my first day of college. The next day, I sold it off, disgusted at how bad it had been.

I usually don't say this, as I usually respect what the others say, even if I don't agree with it, but concerning a game this bad, I will make an exception: Don't listen to what the other reviewers have said. This game is the worst in existence.


My score: -10 out of 10.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

It's not THAT bad....
C'mon, compared to the horrible prequel, Superman the movie, and even worse, its sequel, Superman 2(gag), the film's ALMOST watchable. But still, with effects that are even cheesier than in Superman 2, and a half-##### plot that's almost as bad as the first two films, it's best to not bother. The only good thing about it is that the score's not completely butchered like it was in Superman 2. All in all, it's best to forget the Superman movies ever existed.


The first(and probably last) intelligent show on MTV.
Well, Spider-man stars in his first decent cartoon since '94. The show's actually pretty good, it's basically focusing on Peter's college days, as well as his friendship with Harry and relationship with Mary Jane. The final episode ended on a real cliffhanger, I hope it's continued. The "new" villains are pretty interesting, and it's cool seeing Kraven the Hunter, voiced by Micheal Dorn, and Kingpin, voiced by Micheal Clarke Duncan, who also played him in the Daredevil movie. As I said, hopefully this show is continued, because the ending made me want to see more!

I mean, it's new for MTV to show some actually INTELLIGENT programming. Maybe that's why it ended though, since the "Jackass," fans couldn't fathom something that intelligent.

Sonic & Knuckles

Sonic 3... part 2
Okay, this game is NOT Sonic 4, or even chapter 4 of the series. It is actually a continuation of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The reason the game was split into two parts was because the Genisis cartridge did not have enough space to fit the entire game. The lock-on ability, when used with Sonic 3, lets the player finally play Sonic the Hedgehog 3 the way it was really meant to be. Gamers can finally experience the complete story. Meanwhile, Sonic 2 can also be hooked up, and allow gamers to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2! That's fun, but it is slightly tougher since Knuckles can't jump as high as Sonic, but luckily his abilities, such as climbing, balance it out. In general, Sonic and Knuckles, especially when locked on with Sonic 3, is an excellent game, and a must-buy for fans of the 'hog!

Super Mario Bros.

A very dark version of the light-hearted series.
Okay, I'll avoid everyone's usual comments of why they hated this movie and such. My main gripe with this awful film is one reason: the setting. In all Mario games, from Super Mario Bros. to Mario 64 to Mario Sunshine to Mario Party to Mario Tennis to Mario Golf to Mario Kart to Mario RPG to Super Mario World, and even in the 3 cartoon shows and in Smash Bros. I might add, the settings have always been happy, light-hearted, and made the person playing feel welcome to world of the Mushroom Kingdom. However, in the motion picture, we are taken to a very cold, hi-tech, dismal metropolis. Instead of a light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, feeling, we are now facing a dark and even depressing tone. Nothing of this setting makes the viewer feel welcome to the world like the games and cartoons did, which is why this fails to capture the real spirit of Mario(and Luigi).

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