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May 112012
 

There are many sci-fi films that indicate that we are not alone in the universe. One that really shows it is Men in Black, which is about a secret agency that protects the Earth from various alien threats called MIB for short.

Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is one of the top agents of MIB. After his old partner Agent D (Richard Hamilton) retires, he’s in need of a new one. Of course, MIB only recruits the best of the best of the best.

Soon, Agent K discovers a potential new partner, James Darrel Edwards III (Will Smith) of the NYPD. He actually chased down an alien criminal on foot, which very few people can actually do. I can still remember how hilarious Edwards was during the chase. Everyone in the theater was laughing loudly.

The head of MIB is Chief Zed (Rip Torn). He provides the new recruits (Edwards included) a series of tests to see which government trained expert is the most worthy, starting with the struggle to fill out a form without something hard to write on. I don’t know why Zed couldn’t have just provided a table.

It appears that Edwards passed all of the tests, but he’s uncertain whether or not to accept because there’s a major catch to being an MIB agent. No one can know that you exist and everything in your personal file will be erased. Edwards soon accepts and becomes Agent J.

Agent K shows Agent J around MIB headquarters, where humans and aliens coexist easily. They also keep aliens that are in human form under surveillance, wherever they are. I couldn’t help but notice that Steven Spielberg and Sylvester Stallone were among them.

Edgar

The main enemy alien Agents K and J face is Edgar the Bug (Vincent D’Onofrio), who is after something called the galaxy in order to conquer the Arquillian race with Earth as the battleground. Agents K and J are now on the case to find the galaxy, but have no clue what it is.

Luckily, with the help of morgue worker Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), they find a clue from one of the Arquillians, who was killed by Edgar. “To prevent war the galaxy is on Orion’s belt.” It’s not much to go on since there is no galaxy on the constellation of Orion’s belt.

To make matters worse, the Arquillians threaten to destroy the Earth if the galaxy is not returned to them. Thanks to the hot sheets, which are actually supermarket tabloids, Agents K and J manage to identify Edgar. They arm themselves, but all Agent J gets is the little noisy cricket gun. As silly as it looks, the noisy cricket is actually a very powerful weapon.

Agents K and J soon discover what the galaxy is, but Edgar finds it first and kidnaps Dr. Weaver. Agents K and J do catch up to Edgar as he tries to escape the planet and reveals his true form. I can remember the struggle between Agent J and the bug alien had won an MTV Movie Award for Best Fight back in 1998.

This was a good movie that was the start of a popular franchise. What gets me is that all of the MIB agents are only identified as a letter of the alphabet. So does that mean there are only 26 agents in the entire agency?

One last item: There’s also a Men in Black attraction at Universal Studios called Men in Black Alien Attack, where you get to shoot invading aliens all around Manhattan. It’s like being on an MIB adventure, only with a scoreboard, but mind all the spinning around the vehicle will do on occasion.

 

Mar 282012
 

One of the first Simpsons video games for the Super NES was The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare. For a “newer” video game console, this title already sounds interesting compared to some of the older Simpsons games for the NES.

The story begins with Bart doing his homework and falling asleep. Suddenly, all eight pages of his homework fly out the window and Bart has to rescue them from his nightmarish dream world that’s filled with unusual, but very familiar beings.

Once you arrive in the central area called Windy World, you’ll have to search for the homework papers moving around the ground with the wind blowing. While doing so, you’ll have to keep your Z’s meter up by dodging enemies and collecting items all around. Once you find a paper, jump in.

Each paper has a different level inside. It’s usually random which level you’ll be going to, but the colors of the doors make it easier to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

The blue door leads to a superhero level. As Bartman, you fly through the sky with unlimited ammo in your slingshot. Many things try to kill you from killer clouds to missiles launched from below. (Who could be launching them?) There are also five bosses to face. They include the twins in a hot air balloon, Barney on a pink elephant that flies and shoots beer nuts, Smithers in a small missile blimp (twice), and Mr. Burns in a biplane. It’s a little disappointing that you only get one paper after all that.

The red door leads to a bloodstream level, where Bart swims around and blows up enemy viruses with a bicycle pump. In order to free the paper from a force field, you must collect six Smiling Joe Fission characters before the viruses get you. The only tough part is dodging the mini bombs they throw. It only takes one to kill you.

The rest of the doors have two stages and papers. The yellow one goes to the world of Itchy & Scratchy, which is a more violent take on Tom & Jerry. Bart watches this cartoon series all the time on the Krusty the Clown Show. Now he’s living it while trying to survive the violent cartoon enemies. Itchy and Scratchy themselves get killed and come back frequently. Personally, I think Itchy is harder to beat, especially when he brings on the bazooka.

The green door leads to a monster level. As Bartzilla, you must destroy enemy tanks, jets, and helicopters to get to a very tall building. The enemies are hard to dodge, so you have to blast them before they get the chance to shoot you.

In the second stage, Bartzilla must climb a very tall building while dodging various objects people throw out the windows. You can climb the side, but the UFO will get you. If that wasn’t tough enough, you must also dodge Marge the giant hornet before getting to Homer Kong at the very top. At least he’s easy to beat.

Come to think of it, I now realize that Marge the hornet is meant to resemble Mothra.

Speaking of Homer, here he is at Universal Studios in 2011.

The orange door leads to the Temple of Maggie, where Indiana Bart must follow four rows of platforms to get through. This is my least favorite level because random platforms are booby-trapped. That makes it frustrating when you don’t know the exact path to take. One little mistake and you die.

This is a good game with interesting adventure. The only thing at stake is Bart’s grade. Oh, the sacrifices one must make just to pass.

Jun 102011
 

This live action movie version of Scooby-Doo (Widescreen Edition) features an all-star cast. Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Linda Cardellini as Velma, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo as himself, so to speak.

It starts with the Scooby gang successfully solving another mystery, which reveals that Mystery Inc. is a famous group. This film still doesn’t tell how the team first got together, but it does explain why they split up. Remember when it was just Shaggy and Scooby on the later seasons of the old Scooby-Doo series and animated films from the 80s?

Here I am with Scooby-Doo at Universal Studios.

There are also different character revelations that weren’t in the original series. Fred is a glory seeker and not too bright, Daphne constantly gets kidnapped and has learned martial arts, and Shaggy is known as the guy who “carries the bags”, which is hard to believe since he and Scooby have been on more adventures than the others have.

Although Scooby-Doo isn’t really a horror film, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is best known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, continues to show her martial art skill in a supernatural genre.

Two years after Mystery Inc.’s big split, they each get invited to Spooky Island, only to meet back up again and solve a mystery about the brainwashed college kids there. Unfortunately, some of Scooby gang are still bitter toward one other and decide to solve the mystery solo.

Spooky Island is like a Spring Break hot spot. It’s so neat to see the Scooby gang partying and hanging with other teens as well as exploring the spooky areas. In a way, I can see this as a teen movie as well as a kids movie, even though I never saw the cartoon series that way.

One exciting scene is when the Scooby gang explores the old castle for clues. It’s like exploring an old dungeon. Soon, the spooky animatronics come to life and attack. It’s funny when Scooby mentions that he and Shaggy both drink out of the toilet. Nasty, but still funny.

Scrappy-Doo makes an appearance in a flashback scene and reveals why he’s no longer been part of Mystery Inc. Scrappy was an egomaniac, who kept peeing on Daphne. I wondered what had happened to him.

This was a good movie based on the classic cartoon series. I even liked the alternate opening and the deleted scenes the DVD provided, which featured Velma singing, and when she was in the girls locker room in a bikini. I think those scenes could’ve worked in the story, but that’s just my opinion.

May 272011
 

We all remember that classic iconic alien E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Widescreen Edition). I was very young when I first saw this movie and for years I could only describe it in three words, “Two hours long”. That was because the slow pacing made the movie difficult to follow and I expected it to be more like ALF. Now I understand it a little better. E.T. is an alien who was stranded on Earth and was found by three children, Elliot (Henry Thomas), Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and little Gertie (Drew Barrymore). (Wasn’t she adorable?)

E.T. slowly learns to speak, thanks to Gertie’s guidance and a Sesame Street episode on TV. It goes to show that even aliens can learn stuff from that show.

E.T. is smart. He can not only identify his home with a Buck Rogers comic strip, he can move things with his mind and has a healing touch, which he’s always offering to use, even if you have a fake knife in your head as part of a Halloween costume like Michael does.

Then of course there’s the classic flying bicycles. E.T. is the perfect pilot to have, except his landings needed a little work.

This whole time, the children try to keep E.T. a secret from their mother Mary. Dee Wallace, who I met at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, plays the role.

As E.T. and the kids use a homemade contraption to “phone home”, government agents spy on them. Eventually they nab E.T. and keep him under quarantine because he has become ill. The doctors do all they can to save E.T. from dying. Although Elliot keeps telling them that they’re killing him, they don’t listen. Then a miracle happens. After some major cooling off, E.T. is all recovered.

Then Michael and Elliot escape with E.T. in hopes of getting him home. However, it’s not so easy with the police and government agents chasing them, but it becomes real exciting when they race off on bikes. That’s right, bikes that fly with E.T.’s help. I can tell that the landings have improved.

This was an interesting movie that’s real heartwarming. It still runs long at points, but was still enjoyable.

One last item: E.T. also has a ride at Universal Studios theme park. Here you get to ride bikes that fly, but the story goes in another direction. Not only are the seats more comfortable than on a real bike, but you also get to fly to E.T.’s home planet. The movie could have used that subplot.

May 132011
 

Not too long ago, my sister and I went to the Kennedy Space Center for the first time and it had some real interesting exhibits throughout. Obviously, real space travel is nothing like how it’s featured in pop culture. However, it did make me think of some pop culture references that made space travel appear more exciting and adventurous. Of course if your spacecraft was like the Winnebago on Spaceballs, it’s the only way to fly. Anyway, here are my top five favorite space traveling references from whatever the source.

#5) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: One of the most exciting scenes is when Luke Skywalker and the rebel forces fly to the Death Star for a full-scale assault followed by the classic trench run. The Star Tours ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios used to feature the same trench run along with a crystal meteor shower. I look forward to the new Star Tours ride that’s coming real soon.

 #4) The Adventures of Mark Twain: Even though the vehicle that’s featured is an airship and not a rocket ship, the climax had an exciting chase into space to catch up to Halley’s comet. Before reaching it, Mark Twain and the crew must dodge meteors and head into the comet’s channel. It goes to show that comets are so much bigger up close.

#3) Raiden Trad (SNES): In this video game, you fly an aircraft on Earth to fight an enemy from another world. All that’s featured is enemy vehicles to blast. Then in the later levels, the aircraft goes into outer space, where you blast more enemy vehicles and astroids everywhere. It surprised me at first, but remained exciting as before.

#2) Gradius 3 (SNES): Here’s another classic video game about flying through space and blasting various enemies. What really stands out is the soundtrack, which makes it more adventurous. Here’s a clip I found on YouTube to provide an example.

#1) The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera Ride: Back when this classic ride was at Universal Studios theme park, there was an exciting story behind it that makes it one of my most favorites. We all ride a spaceship with Yogi Bear as the pilot and Boo-Boo as co-pilot, chasing down Dick Dastardly and Muttley through the world of Hanna Barbera to rescue Elroy Jetson from their clutches. To keep it simple though, the ride only goes through the top three franchises, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and The Jetsons. Although Jimmy Neutron has replaced the ride, it still keeps the exciting space chase in check.