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Dec 022015
 

In Big Hero 6, 14-year-old Hiro Hamada is a robotics genius who enjoys participating in robot fights. But since robot fighting is illegal in the city of San Fransokyo, Hiro’s older brother Tadashi was able to guide his brother on a better path.

They go to a university called San Fransokyo Tech, where Hiro meets Tadashi’s friends that are all scientific geniuses. The inventions they create are nothing like what you’d see at an ordinary science fair.

Wasabi is a neat freak that invented plasma lasers that can slice through anything with ease. Apparently he got his nickname for spilling wasabi on his shirt once. It’s strange but it works.

Go Go Tamago uses electromagnets to invent speed wheels for a faster bike. Even though she has a rebellious attitude, Go Go is actually really friendly.

I just love Honey Lemon for her kind and sweet persona. She’s also excitable and has invented chemical balls that can stick things together. They can also build protective walls and come in many colors. They’re mostly pink, probably because Honey likes pink.

Then we have Fred the school mascot, who is a slacker and a comic book geek. He is also a science enthusiast and dreams that the knowledge will help him gain superpowers. Of course, the others don’t necessarily approve.

Last but not least there’s Tadashi’s invention, a super robot called Baymax. This robot was made to help people with the knowledge of many medical procedures. He has a soft inflatable body and a gentle voice, which would help his patients feel comfortable.

After seeing all this, Hiro is inspired to enroll at San Fransokyo Tech and invent microbots, which work together to create anything by just thinking of it. Suddenly, tragedy strikes and Hiro is motivated to upgrade Baymax into a crime fighting robot. I couldn’t help but notice that Baymax’s new suit seems to have a strong resemblance to Iron Man.

Apparently, a masked villain stole the microbots. So the other students help Hiro by turning their inventions into crime fighting gadgets, which also includes Fred’s monster costume. I’m sure Fred was real excited to make his dream a reality. Of course it was also made possible by the fact that Fred has a rich family.

I certainly enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would since the trailer did not feature Big Hero 6 as a superhero movie. I wonder if there will be a sequel or a TV series from it.

Mar 112015
 

Many of us remember Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Now here’s a new film version that focuses on a different angle, which is the story of Maleficent. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was the main villain of Sleeping Beauty, but she wasn’t always evil.

Maleficent was once a good powerful fairy that lived in the Moors, which is a magical forest realm that neighbors a human kingdom. She even had wings like an eagle, which would allow her to fly anywhere. As for Maleficent’s horns on her head, they’re actually a part of her. Until I saw that, I always thought she wore a helmet.

After the greedy King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) fails to conquer the Moors, he decides to pass on the crown to whoever manages to kill Maleficent. Of course everyone wants that reward. Unfortunately, that includes Stefan (Sharlto Copley) who used to be good friends with her.

Apparently, Stefan chose the crown over friendship, but instead of killing Maleficent, he cuts her wings off. It was that betrayal which drove Maleficent to evil. Now it’s clear why she goes to the castle and curses Stefan’s newborn child, like in the animated version.

From this point, the movie does follow the story line to the animated version, but with different twists from the other characters. For starters, Maleficent’s raven companion has a name, Diavel (Sam Riley), and can turn into a human among other things under Maleficent’s control.

The three pixies, which were originally named Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether, are named Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville). They are very comical while trying to put up with one another. Flora and Meriwether’s conflict over a dress being pink or blue was one of my favorite highlights on the animated version, but these three are more like female versions of the 3 Stooges, especially while in human form.

Then there’s Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). She’s a sweet girl with a big smile. Even though Maleficent dislikes her and nicknames her Beasty, she tends to check up on Aurora very frequently and eventually likes her. It must be Aurora’s adorable beauty and kind nature that makes her so likable.

This was a great version of the Sleeping Beauty story from a different angle. It makes me wonder how the new Cinderella movie will turn out.

Feb 042015
 

One of my most favorite games on the Nintendo Wii U is DuckTales Remastered. If you remember the original NES Ducktales game as well as the animated series from the 80s, this is definitely a game to look forward to.

The object of the NES version was for Scrooge McDuck to travel to five different locations, which are the Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, the Himalayas, and the Moon. Then he collects a treasure after defeating a boss. Afterwards, the treasures get stolen and he must defeat Dracula Duck and race Flintheart Glomgold to the top of a pillar. Then that’s it. The game is beaten.

Ducktales Remastered is basically the same game, but with new additions like two extra levels and an actual plot. A really awesome addition is the voice acting. All of the surviving voice actors from the original Ducktales series reprise their roles. The characters even speak during the game play, which makes it more interesting.

Wendee Lee, who I met at Anime Festival Orlando 2011, voices the role of Mrs. Beakley in place of the late Joan Gerber.

The story starts with the Beagle Boys taking over Scrooge’s money bin. You go through the place, rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and fight Big Time Beagle by clobbering him with a safe on the ceiling before being given the option to select a level. That is an intro that helps the story line make sense.

I’m so glad that each stage has a map screen because in order to proceed forward, you have to find items that are scattered throughout the area. I used to enjoy exploring the stages in the old game to locate hidden gems and it’s certainly paying off here.

After collecting all five treasures, Scrooge must go to the other new stage, which is Magica de Spell’s home on Mount Vesuvious to get back the treasures and his kidnapped nephews to face Dracula Duck. Before it was just the Transylvania level again.

I should point out that among the special unlockable features there’s a section of the music score from both versions of the game. It even includes 8-bit versions of the two additional levels. So maybe they did exist in the old game, but were later removed. Are there any theories on that?

The boss battles are the most exciting. Before it was simple with just five pogo jumps to beat them. Here, only some of the bosses take five hits and the others take more. It also includes random dialogue and more elaborate attacks.

Dracula Duck is the final boss of course, but Magica gives him more power every time he gets pogo jumped on. The effects are amazing. I love it.

Then we have the epic climax. Scrooge must race Glomgold to the top of the mountain, but it’s not just up one chain this time. It’s tricky with the breakable chains and fast rising lava.

This is truly a great Nintendo Wii U game and I’m not just saying that because it’s a 2D-platform game, which is surprisingly a rare type of video game nowadays. It’s so wonderful that a classic franchise was brought back and still stayed true to its precedent. Do you suppose any other classics like Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers may do the same someday?

Jan 292015
 

The newest Muppet feature to date is Muppets Most Wanted, which is a direct sequel to The Muppets. Even though this movie was actually made three years later, the story takes off right after the events of the previous movie.

Now that the Muppets have their old theater back, they go on an international tour with their new manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais). Unknown to them, Dominic is actually a criminal pulling a series of thefts all leading up to stealing the crown jewels of England.

Dominic’s partner in crime is Constantine the world’s most dangerous frog. He looks a lot like Kermit, so he cleverly trades places with him. This is definitely a story plot cliché. Whenever there are lookalikes, they trade places, plain and simple.

Meanwhile there’s friction among the Muppets. Kermit comes off as a control freak when he won’t let the other Muppets do the acts they want to do, since they are so bad. When Constantine takes over, he lets them do whatever they want while Kermit is trapped in a prison in Siberia, Russia. Walter and Animal are suspicious, but the others are too blinded by their own desires to see the truth. Constantine even manages to seduce Miss Piggy, even though he has no feelings for her, or anyone else for that matter.

Here’s a new twist. Sam the Eagle no longer performs with the Muppets. He now works for the CIA and is partnered with Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) to investigate the robberies taking place next door to each venue the Muppets perform at. They don’t like each other at first, but eventually they get along despite Napoleon’s constant break times.

Kermit struggles with his time in prison, especially with Nadya (Tina Fey) the head guard. She stops all of Kermit’s attempts to escape and even threatens him with a frozen wall. Prisoners actually get stuck on it and left to freeze in the cold. That’s just crazy.

The Muppets have done it again with a good movie. It had some good laughs and appearances by classic Muppet characters like the Zucchini brothers and Beauregard who drives the tour train. What adventures will those Muppets have next?

Muppet Shrinky Dinks

One last item: Not too long ago I found some old Muppet Shrinky Dinks among some stuff and they’re still in good shape.

Dec 192014
 

Christmas is almost here and just last weekend I attended Holiday Matsuri. It’s been a while since the last time I went and for the first time I didn’t get any autographs. That’s okay because there were some great events to see. Here are some of the highlights.

There was Geekapella, a singing group with very tight harmony. They sang about video games, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. There was even a song that was a cross between Batman and Fallout Boy called Fallout Bat. That’s pretty clever.

Another major highlight was a Q&A panel with George Lowe. He was funnier than ever as he talked about his time on Space Ghost: Coast to Coast along with other shows and disclaimers.

Sailor Scouts_resized

And of course, there was plenty of cosplay from Sailor Scouts to Disney princesses.

I certainly had a good time at this Anime convention. It was a great way to start the holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!