A rare (the third) non-Takahata/Miyazaki Studio Ghibli film, The Cat Returns is an instant classic - warm, fuzzy and pleasantly happy, this (rather short) feature length film has a sweeter moral than Ghibli fans are used to, and is a little faster in pacing than something by Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata. But how does Hiroyuki Morita's directorial debut compare to Goro Miyazaki's? Is the film actually any good? Click read more to find out.
Nearly all reviews of this controversial Studio Ghibli film written, produced and directed by Goro Miyazaki usually boil down to the following two reasons:
1) Goro Miyazaki is the son of the critically acclaimed writer, producer and director Hayao Miyazaki who has achieved, perhaps unwillingly, legendary status as a true storyteller. Obviously only one conclusion follows in these reviews- the son isn't likely to live up to his dad's legacy on his first foray into animation following a career change from landscaping. Add into the mix some rumours that they didn't speak throughout production, and that Hayao was rumoured to have said that Goro wasn't ready to head the film, and these reviews almost unanimously chuck the film into the gutter.
2) The author of the original Tales From Earthsea book series, Ursula K Le Guin, noted on her website that she wasn't involved in the production of the movie and that it heavily deviated from the book, and was a little irritated at Goro for sticking her private opinion about the film onto his public blog. Her dissatisfaction is pretty obvious in her own blog post and so people are already influenced from what they read about the film.
I had to see the film for myself to see if this stuff was actually obvious. So I'm going to try to avoid these two reasons in the following review so you can get a pretty honest look at why this movie didn't really hit the mark for me.
Twitch Plays Pokemon, the online crowdsourced social experiment streaming live on Twitch has surpassed 60,000 current viewers by the time I write this post. Controlled by a few lines of script, the protagonist of Pokemon Red (called Red, haha), is thrown up, down, opens his start menu, checks his Pokedex and generally acts in a highly schizophrenic way.
Until you find out that each and every one of those 60,000 viewers has the power to alter the gameplay by typing commands into the chat window, and it's the few lines of script that transform the commands 'a,b,start,up,down,left,right' into real on-screen movements you'd be forgiven for thinking that >255 hours of gameplay is a long time to not get past the Elite Four.
As such, each and every one of these 60,000 viewers, and over 2,000,000 in total have contributed in some way to the game. People have begun to get attached. Doing a quick search for 'twitch plays pokemon' gives some of the finest fanart I've seen to date!
It's definitely one of the better examples of the internet working together to solve problems that I've seen in a long, long time.
So, what have we learnt from the hivemind that is Twitch Plays Pokemon? (Don't worry, you can watch it and find out at the same time by clicking read more)
In recent years, Square Enix has become lazy. As fans eagerly await the release of a game sure to feature another irritating protagonist with a weapon larger than his entire body or yet another port of a (wonderfully original) not-so-Final Fantasy on Android that will inevitably cost an arm, a leg and your entire torso, it is indeed good to see that some people are willing to actually develop good games at Squeenix- like the punchy, colourful "The World Ends With You" instead of twiddling their thumbs and sticking another mangled mess of ideas into a plot generator and flogging it off as the next Kingdom Hearts game.
Metalcore is a word that, if uttered in close proximity to people who consider themselves ‘true’ metalheads, has much the same effect as tossing a bucket full of garlic source into a room full of vampires.
Ed takes a break from normality and enters the aggressive, angry world of Metalcore. Complete with a collection of tongue-in-cheek profanities, it's Ed's Music Corner! Click read more to see what he has to say about This Means War.
Released in 1997, the Foo’s second album was undoubtedly a great one; fully equipped with an actual band this time, Grohl and the gang (they totally should have actually called themselves that) were trying to find their niche in the world of rock, experimenting with many sounds throughout the album, ranging from catastrophically thrashy – banging heaviness to a lighter, tranquil sound and pretty much everything in between. Sometimes this attempt to constantly mash together light and heavy does feel muddled and leaves you with a fairly bumpy ride, but on the whole these songs are crafted with excellency and precision, occasionally displaying some clear Nirvana influence with their soft-verse-heavy-chorus structure.
Never since the now celebrated ‘Ocarina of Time’ hit shelves in late 1998 has a game in Nintendo’s sacred ‘Legend of Zelda’ franchise been adorned with the same tumultuous applause and praise – achieving ‘perfect’ scores from a number of online publications. After a reported six year development cycle, Skyward Sword finally reached our dusty old Wii consoles in November 2011 amid near-apocalyptic critical acclaim. Ocarina of Time was the game that defined the Zelda formula; sure ‘A Link to the Past’ introduced a number of key elements including the master sword and twin world mechanics, but ‘Ocarina’ refined these greatly and holds up today as a true classic of video gaming and the defining moments of many an N64 owner's childhood nostalgia. The idea of a Zelda game surpassing the sacred binary held within Ocarina of Time and Link to the Past cartridges alike was a truly exciting prospect...
Green Day have certainly come a long way from their punk rock origins back in 1990. While still fairly poppy, they were still recognised (at least in their early days) as a solid punk rock band. Through the years they may have mellowed and gained more pop punk influences but their tripled release of Uno, Dos and Tre marks the full conversion from hard, heavy rock to soft, catchy pop punk songs. However, is this such a bad thing? Yes. Yes, it is quite a bad thing. This album is swamped in an overwhelming "averageness" (sic) which stems from the fact that, for some reason, Green Day started to write songs that didn't draw from their own experience but instead focused on 'angsty' teenage love. Maybe because they’re actually all very successful 40 year olds who haven’t experienced this sort of thing in a while, it comes across as bland and just false, making for an overall disappointing album.
Click read more to see what Ed has to say (in his unique way) about this album!
Zombies, Zombies, Zombies. Ever since George A Romero’s brain-hankering, lobotomized chums first hit the silver screen in 1968, debuting in ‘Night of the Living Dead’, us cinema-goers have become somewhat infatuated with their subtle, yet effective charm and amorphous, slightly unnerving groans. As a result, these films inhabit a blood soaked, macabre hole within the heart of every horror fan – young or old – often reusing familiar clichés to great effect. What made the Zombies of yesteryear so brutally effective was the fact that they themselves did not pose any specific threat; but their presence brought out the evil within humans around them in an almost libertine display of morality.
Fast forward 45 years from their conception and the ultra-high budget, ultra hyped ‘World War Z’ hits cinema’s – leaving behind much of the sacred trends that define ‘Zombies’ in favour of adrenaline-pumped action and mayhem. But the question is: doesn’t that just make it another generic action film stagnating an already bloated market?
Something slightly annoying happens here in the UK. Often, when big American films are released in the US, we have to wait a little while for them to find their way to our own cinemas. Of course this does happen the other way around on occasion, with home-grown films particularly, but this summer has not been a good one for us so far on the film front. Some of the most popular films coming out, we have to wait for. Not all, however. One film aspired to something greater… Man of Steel has been widely anticipated since its original announcement and now it’s finally here! Unfortunately, it’s pretty much the only good film available right now in the UK, and due to poor planning in the post-exam party period, and general cosmic oddities, I have now seen Man of Steel, a film I was only ever mildly interested in, a total of three times. In my book that means I am more than properly qualified- nay, obligated- to review it. So here goes…