Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends (2014 - PC)

A much, much better hidden object game effort than Jet Dogs Studio's previous release, Sinister City. Longer, much improved and more consistent artwork, better puzzles, and a more interesting story that still has its share HOG silliness, but at least never has you do anything as annoying as holding a camera steady while filming a vampire teletubby.

It is similar to many other titles in this genre, and it is still on the short and easy side, but since it often goes on sale for a few dollars or less at Steam, this is an easy recommendation to anyone who likes HOG's and/or wants a quick, cheap one to play.

Rating: 3/5

Napoleon Dynamite (2004 - DVD)

I didn't much like Nacho Libre, so I'm not sure what made me want to watch Napoleon Dynamite, which was made by the same people, but I did it anyway. A lot of the first half of this movie seems to have no plot and is just showing random things happening in a weirdly anachronistic midwestern setting where people talk and meet each other over the internet, but still use cassette and VHS tapes as their primary media formats. Gradually, some ideas begin to congeal and the semblance of a story emerges when title character Napoleon Dynamite, who could be in the running for the Most Awkward Teenager Ever, decides to help his friend run for class presidency.

This isn't a movie I found myself laughing at most of the times, so much as staring at in a stupefied wonder, almost like when you can't turn your head away from a car accident. Napoleon likes to draw, but it's clear this is not his true calling in life...and yet, he seems to have a strange knack for being instantly good at almost anything else - an idea which culminates in a highly memorable dance sequence, as well as his contribution to his brother's bizarre wedding in the epilogue.

I can't strongly recommend Napoleon Dynamite, unless you just want to get the references when you come across all the internet memes that have resulted from it. But at least check out the dance scene if nothing else.

Rating: 3/5

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988 - DVD)

Roger Rabbit is the type of movie I feel that I could rewatch immediately after seeing it because there is so much going on, it feels impossible to take it all in on one sitting. There's the obvious groundbreaking achievement of having the cartoon characters believably occupying the same reality as the real-life actors and interacting with them and their environments, and the novelty of having both the Warner and Disney cartoons together in the same movie. But unlike many children's movies that rely entirely on their special effects and property licenses, Roger Rabbit has great characters and a great story - one that was clearly written for adults to appreciate as well as having the cartoon antics for the kids to enjoy - to go along with it.

Sometimes when I don't feel like I have an interesting enough take on a movie that's well-loved and considered a classic by many, what I can do is address some of the criticism I've heard. Some people from the golden era of cartoons didn't like this film, largely because they felt it should have focused more on the cartoon characters. The story really is more about the humans than the toons. It's essentially in the style of noir/detective film with Roger Rabbit mostly being the sidekick comedy relief and only one brief part taking place in the fully-animated Toon Town. The rest is a revisionist tale about the period in 1940s Los Angeles when automobiles replaced the public trolleys and Eddie Valiant's return to grace after hitting rock bottom from the loss of his brother. Not to mention, the whole show is nearly stolen by Christoper Lloyd's menacing performance as the villain, Judge Doom.

But you know, I'm cool with that. As a child, the cartoon entertainment value from Roger and other memorable characters like loud-mouthed Benny the Cab was there. And as an adult, I can appreciate the human story behind all of it.

Rating: 5/5

Freakazoid! Season 1 (1995 - DVD)

Freakazoid! is a perfect time capsule of the era in which it was made. The mid-90's references are plentiful and it's one of the first cartoons I'm aware of to embrace the concept of the early internet. Although technically speaking, the internet doesn't have much to do with the overall show, there's been this idea floating around for years that meek, nerdy types become zany extroverted trolls on the anonymous internet and this cartoon took that and reversed it - what if that zany troll personality leaped into the real world instead?

One thing I liked about Freakazoid! is that it's one of the few superhero parodies I've seen that is literally a parody and not something completely indistinguishable from an ordinary superhero thing. It wasn't just written for kids with stuff for adults thrown in - it really does seem like it was written more for adults than kids. In fact, it outright trolls kids at times (particularly the Huntsman and Lord Bravery sketches). And a lot of the references are things kids are not likely to get (I had to look up Marty Ingels myself).

As much as I enjoyed it, I have to dock the score a bit because the Candle Jack sketch was repeated on Disc 1 and The Cloud was repeated on Disc 2. Good sketches and all, but I didn't need to see them twice, in almost a row. An interview on the Season 2 DVD indicates that the sketch format of the show made it difficult, time-consuming, and costly to edit, and I'm wondering if that's why cost-cutting measures such as these repeated sketches and lengthy reused character intros were commonplace and disappeared by Season 2.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hey Vern It's Ernest! The Complete Series (1988 - DVD)

Hey Vern It's Ernest is a weird show. It's a shame it's not a good show.

DiC had a problem with coming up with an idea that seems like it has potential, and then doing absolutely nothing with it. Every episode of Hey Vern is the same thing. Not only do they have the same sketches, but they often have the same exact jokes. "Lonnie Don's School of Sound Effects" is in every episode, but he only knows one sound, giving all new meaning to "one-note joke". I think the gist of the photographer is that he only photographs himself, otherwise he's completely pointless. The Dust Bunny and Ernest trading sneezes gets really tiring. Ernest sometimes has a simpleton charm, but other times I just want to kill him. At the most, the show got about one laugh out of me per episode, and that was sometimes only if I was feeling generous.

Rating: 1.5/5



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