Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bonkers (SNES) Review

Received: January 20th, 2015 / Written: June 11th-13th, 2015
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Capcom
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  *sigh*  I suppose I have to explain myself, so here goes.  =(
You might recall that last April I compiled a list titled Top 13 SFC/SNES Games I'm Reluctant to Play, and one of the reasons I made said list was because I was having a hard time finding many games to talk about individually (something which I fixed months later) and I didn't want to wait a few weeks without talking about something so that's what I came up with (that's what I get for publishing stuff on my blog at infrequent periods of time).
Why do I bring this up?  Because the very game I'm going to talk about today was positioned at #12, pretty low on the list.  I've stated reasons as to why I'm reluctant to play the games, and while it's true there are some games out there that I don't feel confident in giving a go, some of the games on the list I hard time coming up with on the spot at the time because the Nintendo 16-bit machine's library is huge.  So basically I came up with the list on a whim, which is something I felt bad about considering the game in question.
 
I guess the thing I sometimes worry about when it comes to new games or games I haven't played before is if it's worth my time and if I can handle it.  But lately I thought it's pretty much best to just play said games instead of avoiding them out of worry; if it turns out in the end that I don't like it, hey, at least I can say I tried instead of second-guessing what they are going to be like.
 
So mere months after the list was made, I had considered giving Bonkers the benefit of the doubt, not just because one of the commenters on my blog (Bard Oly, if you are reading this, I'm sorry) asked me to give it a chance, but because I wanted to.  I wanted to know firsthand its quality, but there were some things that kept me from trying it sooner, but first, a little background on the show it's based on.
Image from Wikipedia
Bonkers was a Disney animated program that ran from September 1993 to February 1994, lasting only one season which comprised of sixty-five episodes.  Originally having appeared in the 1992 series Raw Toonage, this Bonkers D. Bobcat (voiced by the ever excellent Jim Cummings) star vehicle was a spinoff of that exact CBS network program; initially conceived as a show about him he actually started off as a side character alongside the classic André Franquin long-tailed jungle-dweller Marsupilami (what do you mean you don't know who he is?) while each episode was hosted by familiar Disney characters.  I never actually watched Raw Toonage (and honestly only found out about it just now), but I have seen Bonkers... a little.
 
If you were like me, you grew with tons of animated shows (Disney and non-Disney), and before I actually saw it I remember seeing commercials for it on TV (and if I recall correctly VHS tapes) in the mid-to-late '90s and I remember thinking it looked a little fun.  I eventually saw episodes of it in either 2002 or 2003 on Toon Disney (long before it got changed to what is now Disney XD) when I was eleven or twelve, and... it was underwhelming.  I didn't dislike it, as I found the show okay, but it wasn't something I felt like revisiting often.  Back then I thought, "Yeah, this show is fine and all, but give me more DuckTales, give me more The Weekenders, give me more Pepper Ann, more Goof Troop, more Gummi Bears, more Gargoyles and Rescue Rangers and TaleSpin and Darkwing Duck, more Fillmore! and more Teacher's Pet please."  Thank God for reruns of these classic shows being shown on TV back then.  =)  I haven't seen any episode of Bonkers since then, and to date no episode has been put to DVD.
By the end of 1993 the Nintendo 16-bit powerhouse had three Disney games, all made by Capcom: The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse (Mickey's Magical Adventure), Goof Troop (Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken), and Disney's Aladdin, all of which were good games and were fairly successful.  The reason behind it was due the Nintendo exclusivity clause Capcom abided by at the time when it came to Disney licenses, but after Disney's Aladdin Nintendo decided to allow entries from different developers so Capcom wouldn't be the only one to craft Disney entertainment for Nintendo gamers.  I say that's a good thing because Sega had far outnumbered Nintendo in this category.  =)
So, with three 16-bit Disney games under their belt, Capcom figured why not make another one based on a show.  Despite Bonkers having ended its TV run in early '94, the show's episodes were being rerun so it made sense that by the time October '94 came around Capcom crafted a Nintendo 16-bit adaptation of the show (never came out in Europe); that and fan demand.  Thing is: that October also saw the SNES release of the Magical Quest sequel The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie, so I'm not certain which came first.  I know Japan got Bonkers later than Mickey & Minne: Magical Adventure 2, but in the US I'm drawing a blank.  Anyway, I've dragged this preface long enough; so, remembering not being impressed by the show, does Capcom's Bonkers prove to be that rare case of an adaptation that's better than the show it's based on?  =|  =)  Personally speaking, I'm glad to say that yes it is.

Man, I knew Kirby the vacuum cleaner hated kitty
litter, but I didn't think he had it in for cats as well  =/
The game's plot is not that complex and is actually really simple, which lends it an episodic feel, but for this game it works.  The story is as follows: one night the Toontown treasures--the Sorcerer's Hat from Fantasia, the Magic Lamp from Aladdin, and the Mermaid's Voice from The Little Mermaid--get stolen without as much of a trace.  As Bonkers D. Bobcat tells his human partner Detective Lucky "Don't Call Me Shirley" Piquel (also voiced by Cummings) about the news the police cruiser crashes, leaving Lucky seriously hospitalized and Bonkers fully intact and left to solve the case all on his own.  Can Bonkers succeed in his latest endeavor?

"A little to the left"
The Nintendo 16-bit Bonkers is a sidescrolling platformer, its gameplay is pretty good and the controls are simple.  The default control to jump is B, and like a lot of platformers you can jump on top of enemies and bosses; how high or low you jump depends on how hard you push the button.  If you want to dash just press the Y button once the dash gauge is full and flashing, however the steering and traction can take a bit of getting used to without knocking into enemies and walls.  To slip inside chutes or small gaps press down as Bonkers runs and he'll roll on by.  And to attack enemies from a distance, press X for Bonkers to throw one of his arsenal (should you have any) of bombs... heheheheh, it's a good thing it takes place a cartoon world, otherwise it would be quite awkward.  <=|

"Say, do you know a fellow by the name of 'Croc'?
Yay big, green, has blue eyes, savior of Gobbos, and is in
dire need of a third adventure?"
Littered in the game are objects Bonkers may find useful, one of them being badges.  For every ten badges that Bonkers collects the projectile capacity will augment itself by one, and should you run out of said projectiles and find a box of them you'll earn back ten.  Occasionally you'll come across heart containers from The Magical Quest which will increase your health by one; in order to replenish bits of it there are donuts to consume (of course), and to fill up all hearts just eat Mrs. Beakley's cakes from DuckTales; and to gain a life you must find a Bonkers plushie (a la aforementioned The Magical Quest and DuckTales).  And by the end of each stage (and game) you're shown how long it took you to beat it (like Goof Troop).  So many references to previous Capcom fare... it seems there's a pattern going on.  =<
After the first stage you have a choice which of the next three stages you want to proceed to, which is very refreshing and a sweet breath of fresh air since all Capcom's other 16-bit Disney fare follows a strictly linear stage paths (Stage 1 to Stage 2).  In Bonkers, you can select the second, third, and fourth stages, which lends it replay value.  And on a nice Magical Quest-like charted map, no less.  =)

Rolling, rolling, rolling...
Capcom's 16-bit games have always been great to look at, even their lesser titles (*cough* Final Fight 2 *cough* *hack* Mega Man VII *hack*), and this game is no exception.  =)  Granted, in Bonkers' case the detail has taken a backseat for something a slight more colorful, but for what works it really works visually.  Some areas that stand out are the outskirts of Toontown with the building in both the foreground and backdrop, another is the mansion in the first stage where it's elegantly designed with the fountains seen in the backdrop windows and where there are nicely setup tables and occasional Donald Duck paintings (is it his mansion?), and for a last example the ship stage is visually great where it rains outside at one point until eventually you reach the freezing cooler with color-layering mist.

Bombs away
The character and enemy designs have got that trademark Capcom charm about them, which I thoroughly enjoy.  Some of the enemies you'll contend with are anthropomorphic gorillas, wolves, bats, goggle-wearing alligators, sentient candles, sentient bags, and even kangaroos to name some.  There are two occasions when Mode 7 is used: once during the title and the other during the helicopter boss fight.  The bosses themselves have got decent designs, but the final one trumps them all out of sheer ingenious levels.  Bonkers himself has got quaint design and fittingly cartoonish and fluid animation, but is it just me or does he look like an 8-bit figure turned 16-bit?  Maybe it's how small he is, I don't know; but I also like his idle and walking animations too.  =)  Also got to give props to the hat slowly following the character who ducks gag making homage to DuckTales and Disney's Aladdin; that never gets old.  =3  Oh, and before I forget, I just have to ask:
WHAT IN THE NAME OF KRULL ARE YOU????  D=
 
Wow!  That framed Donald Duck cameo is almost
as big as the Roy Scheider photo cameo from Jaws:
The Revenge  =<
The soundtrack really lends a sense of atmosphere to the stages, and is once again an improvement over Goof Troop's score.  The music is a bit silly and over-the-top, though given the game in question I do find that it works; it can sound a bit bombastic sometimes, but at least each track sounds less repetitive and annoying than the ones in Goof Troop, which I appreciate (despite really liking that game).  The one Bonkers song that threatens to be annoying to me is the regular boss theme where the first half sounds rambunctious in terms of instrumentation but makes up for with decent string flourish in the second half.  Everything else, in my book, works fine.  =)
 
Uh oh, a barrel; Donkey Kong must be around
Some of the standout pieces are the ship theme with the cheesy-sounding aura that's both engaging and relaxing, especially as you enter it and explore its fancy lobby.  Another one that pops to mind is the playful piano jazz melody in the very beginning transpiring in the entrance with the fountains and what presumably is Donald Duck's mansion which sounds cute.  The title theme, while brief, is playfully instrumental; and the map theme, which is my second favorite, is soothingly enchanting and takes me back to The Magical Quest.  My favorite song in Bonkers, however, is the final boss theme where it is fully instrumental and riveting, being the closest the game got to sounding epic.  =)  The sound effects are all right, and while some were lifted from previous Capcom games they're not badly selected; but whenever Bonkers sustains damage his "Ow!" sounds like a chomping sound.
 
Pounce
Since Bonkers on the Nintendo 16-bit is a Disney Capcom title, three obvious things to expect from it are a) easy difficulty, b) brief length, and c) despite either setback it doesn't detract from the enjoyment (though I'd be remiss if I didn't say it almost becomes the case here, and I'll explain why soon).  Bonkers is non-demanding entertainment from beginning to end, with good area designs, fun and intuitive gameplay, fun boss battles, and a gradual degree of challenge within each stage while not completely abandoning its set difficulty.  Thorough exploration in specific areas can lead to heart containers and even lives, and I liked how whenever Bonkers consumes hot tabasco sauce (I think) he becomes red and automatically runs, though what was interesting was that despite being red it doesn't necessarily make him invulnerable; as one knock against him in this state will render him back to normal.
 
No, Bonkers!!!  D=  You'll just wind up causing
the cancellation of Yooka-Laylee!!!
I also liked how for the most part there was no one way to defeat an enemy or a boss, whether it be by jumping on top of them or throwing explosive projectiles at them.  If there's one blemish working against the game in this regard is that there's only one difficulty setting.  =(  It wouldn't be such a bad thing if there were more reasons to come back to it aside from selecting the second through fourth stages and certain secrets, of course; Disney's Aladdin had one difficulty setting yet there were plenty of reasons to come back to it now and again.  The Japanese version of Goof Troop, Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken, had two extra difficulty settings, which was helped by the twelve-month gap between releases.
 
Phweeeeee
Actually, when I was considering getting the Nintendo 16-bit Bonkers in late 2014, I actually considered importing the Super Famicom version as I was under the impression that it may have had more content like Goof Troop's Japanese counterpart.  Unfortunately a couple things prevented me from trying it sooner: the fact that I'm a collector, first of all, and how sometimes when I think I'll get a certain game I'll wind up getting something else on a whim because it either catches my attention or due to my sometimes indecisive nature when buying games (being a gamer is hard).  =(  The second reason was that when it comes to ordering games I like to receive them as soon as possible, but the problem was that the Super Famicom edition was not as common as the NTSC SNES cart and that it would've taken far longer for it to arrive.  So after several failed attempts at importing the SFC version (and realizing that not much would've been implemented between October '94 and January '95 for Japan), I just gave up and ordered the SNES cart this January instead.  ...Yeah, not a flattering backstory over how I got this game, I realize.  =(
 
"Lumiere?  Why are you helping the dark side?"
Lumiere: "Becuz Cupcom neveh devehlohped a
veedio game bezed on our movie."  >=(
 
Bonkers is the only Nintendo 16-bit Disney Capcom platformer outside of The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse where it's required to be played in one sitting, but that's not a problem since the game is not that hard anyway.  I'm not saying a game necessarily needs more than one difficulty mode to be great, but a little more would've been appreciated.  I would've gladly overlooked that if the game wasn't so short; most stages are divided in two segments, and depending on how you play it may take roughly a half hour to beat (longer on your off-day).  Some area designs are creatively set up, and there's a moment where you must be quick otherwise you'll have to open the gate again; but once you know what to do it's no longer a problem.
Something I couldn't help but notice is that Bonkers was a sidescrolling platformer with a dash gauge,...
A painted over main character?  I wonder where I saw that before?  Sparkster (SNES)  No clue!
There were a couple moments when I thought the area design was similar to something from The Magical Quest and Disney's Aladdin, and maybe it's just me but Bonkers' jumping animation felt like an altered swap of Mickey's animation from the former title.
Bonkers is also a speed-based platformer where the main character is a bobcat.  Hmm... you know who else inhabited the SNES in the form of a bobcat in a speed-based sidescroller?
Bubsy!  Accolade's very own Bubsy the Bobcat.  Interesting coincidence.  I would say that Capcom successfully out-Bubsy-ied Bubsy with Bonkers...... but knowing that series' reputation and not wanting gamers to take that statement the wrong way, I'll just take the easy way out and say that Bonkers is better than the Bubsy games.  *looks around and laughs awkwardly, then looks to audience*  Can we go now?  <=(

Run away!  It's the sentient vehicle from Who
Framed Roger Rabbit!
I hope I'm not sounding like I'm nitpicking, because I actually do like this game.  =)  Yeah there were moments here and there when I was reminded of other games due to similarity reasons (and the fact that this may have been Disney Capcom at their least original), but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of the game.  My only major beef with Bonkers is that I wish it had a much higher replay value than what it's actually got.  If I had insignificant qualms to discuss, it's few; for starters, where is the credits sequence in the end?  Were the people at Capcom ashamed of their involvement in Bonkers that they wouldn't state their names?  0_O  Same thing happened in Kemco-Seika's SFC/SNES port of Zoom's Lagoon, and I'm still worked up over it.  Another is the Game Over screen (should you get it in your off-time): should you wish to continue from where you left off, you have to pretend that another character's not all that funny joke is funny.  ...Not sure that's a good message you're conveying.  =/  I forget if it was a thing in the show or not, but I couldn't help but find it off here.  Last, but certainly not least:
Oh, look!  Mickey Mouse is not showing his face, just like the show.  I know this 'cause it's really the only episode I remember from Bonkers long ago  =(
Donald Duck is in the game... sorta.  There were pictures of him early on, but during the cast portion you see him in the flesh, sleeping in his QuackShot attire.  Yes, we get it, Capcom, Donald Duck didn't have his own Nintendo 16-bit game prior to 1995.  It was bad enough we were reminded of this in four Mickey Mouse titles, but now you have to rub it in people's faces in a non-Mickey Mouse title?  Bad form!  >=(

Boy, those swordfish look pretty happy
considering they're encased in frozen blocks of
ice  O~o
Sorry, no more rants in this review, I promise.  I liked the various locales, I liked the gameplay, I liked its music, and I liked Bonkers' fluid animations and how humorous it looked whenever he took a pratfall or got stunned cartoon-style.  XD  I even enjoyed battling Bonkers' big bosses, the last one especially.  As far as how good it is in terms of 16-bit Disney Capcom, it's right at the bottom for me (below Disney's Aladdin, below The Magical Quest, below Goof Troop), but that by no means makes it a bad game.  =)  It could've been slightly longer and exhibited more content, but for what it is it's not too shabby and I feel bad about adding it to a list I feel even worse for making in the first place (especially since it's moot now).  Considering my initial reluctance I'm glad I played it eventually.
Technically in only a couple spots for Ardy Lightfoot, but I'll count it anyway
It also joins the league comprised of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose!, Ardy Lightfoot, and TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure of speed-based SFC/SNES games that are better than half of Sonic the Hedgehog's recent outings.  =)

Jump in!
So do I recommend Bonkers?  Well that depends on many factors, one of them being if you liked the show it was based on or not.  But all things considered, even if you had zero affiliation and/or acknowledgement of the animated show beforehand, I do think that it is fun while it lasts.  However, if you expect one of the best in the genre or expect there to be a lot of challenge or length you might come out disappointed, but if you go in not anticipating high challenge and just want to have good non-demanding fun, Bonkers is not bad to play once in awhile.  It might not have the biggest replay value out of all Disney Capcom's library, but the choice to select the middle three stages was a nice touch and depending on how you look at it may be replay value enough.  Not the greatest, but worth checking out if you're in a Disney platforming mood.  =)
We interrupt this game to bring you Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic
"Trade ya!"
*BOM*
*in Dark Helmet voice* "Fooooled yoooooou!"
My Personal Score: 7.5/10
<( ^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^ )>
P.S. Among "Capcom's lesser Nintendo 16-bit titles" I had considered adding Breath of Fire II to the list (personally speaking), but compared to Final Fight 2 and Mega Man VII it's not that bad and I'd actually rather play that than the other two.
 
P.S. 2 I'm so glad I found another opportunity to reference Ardy Lightfoot, as I never really find the chance to do so.
 
P.S. 3 To everyone that had read my "Top 13 SFC/SNES Games I'm Reluctant to Play" list, I just want to say I'm sorry and if I make any more Top lists it will not be on that category.  =(
 
P.S. 4 Irrelevant: go watch Jurassic World (but not in 3D).  It's the true Jurassic Park sequel we've long awaited.  We salute you, Mr. Trevorrow.  =)
 
P.S. 5 Seriously though, Bonkers, leave those bats alone!  Yooka-Laylee is the one 3D platformer (outside of all things Mario and Kirby) that I am genuinely looking forward to.
 
P.S. 6 It was hard to refrain from using that Christopher Lloyd "I WAS FROZEN TODAY!" quote for that one screenshot caption.  I feel like I may have used that meme as a joke way overmuch.
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.  I hope you have a great Summer, take care!  =)
------------------------------------------------------------
Sooooo, are they going to make out?
 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

StarBoy91's Theatrical Escapade - Furious 7

Written: May 5th-14th, 2015 / Published: May 16th, 2015
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit, and welcome to my newest installment of Theatrical Escapade as I discuss the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise Furious 7=)
Before I start I have a confession to make: prior to this movie I never saw any of the six preceding Fast and Furious predecessors, at least not from beginning to end anyway.  I did see snippets of the some of the movies, but there were many factors that compelled me to watch this movie on the big screen (three weeks later, on April 26th) despite not being all that prepared for it.  One of them was that the trailer looked fascinating, another was that it was the last movie Paul Walker worked on before his death in 2013, the movie has been getting really great reviews (best received in the series), and finally the biggest reason I watched it was because Furious 7 was being directed by James Wan.  =)
 
Since the early 2000's Wan has directed movies which found themselves a loyal following, primarily horror films.  I didn't see every single one of his features but from what I saw I was largely impressed by his work, most of all by the genuinely effective and scary surprise hit The Conjuring from 2013 which is hands down one of the highlights in the genre.  That same year he made headlines when he announced that after his then upcoming direct sequel to 2011's Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2 (having come out months after the aforementioned Summer hit), that he would be done directing for the horror genre (as he still produces), feeling that his skillful directing prowess lacked versatility in the genre department.
 
This news surprised fans and admirers of his alike, but even more surprising was when he announced that he would take Justin Lin's place as director for upcoming Fast and Furious installments, beginning with Furious 7.  Naturally the best response one could elicit at the time was how a director with this stature would tackle the franchise, given that it's James Wan's very first non-horror film.  I do understand his need to branch out and why he felt the need to distance himself from the horror genre, since I can only imagine the thought of being branded as "that [horror] guy" for the rest of his life--considering his pre-2015 filmography--was not how he wanted to keep doing his job (at least that's what I recall from the interview I read).
 
But when I heard that Wan would be back as director for next year's The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist I was excited to hear this news, for if his horror directing schtick truly did end in 2013 then it would've been terrible since Insidious: Chapter 2 was a colossal disappointment which permanently reduced the genuinely creepy and effective moments from the first film that it left a sour taste in my mouth (so much so that I'm not sure I want to see Leigh Whannell's follow-up this Summer).  =(  I'm sorry, I'm just rambling at this point; so how does Wan make up for disappointing us with his previous feature?  For Furious 7, pretty damn well I say!  =D

Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Rated: PG-13 | Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 | Running Time: 137 Minutes | Director: James Wan
Following the events of Fast and Furious 6, Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw is seeking vengeance on the crew responsible for his younger brother Owen's demise.  Elsewhere, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is trying to help his amnesiac friend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) regain her memories while Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is trying to get to grips at fatherhood spending time with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and son.  But all that comes to a halt when Shaw kills a member of Dom's team in Tokyo and tries to eliminate them; it's then that Dom is encountered by shady covert ops team leader by the alias of "Mr. Nobody" (Kurt Russell) who ends up recruiting Dom's team to not only take down Shaw but locate and find the God's Eye before a mercenary (Djimon Hounsou) does.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
For being the first Fast and Furious movie I saw in full, I was a bit worried that because I didn't see any of the last movies from beginning to end that I would be lost with Furious 7 presuming that it would have lots of references to the previous entries.  And while there are a few of them to speak of, it didn't take me long to get sucked into this world and care about the characters, for it was a thrilling ride while it lasted (and I speak as a first-time Fast and Furious watcher).  I was blown away by how much crazy over-the-top action there was from time to time, and while there are times that it gets silly (and it does), it was no less engaging.

Another thing that was just insane was just how fast the cars were zipping by, the over-the-top fight scenes were ridiculously well-choreographed (the ones between Paul Walker and Tony Jaa's Kiet plus the ones between Deckard Shaw and Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs coming to mind), and much of the practical stunts were really cool.  I especially enjoyed the gravity-defying action, like when Brian escapes from a bus about to fall off a cliff, climbing on the side, and running fast on top of said declining bus and jumping high in just enough time to grab hold of Letty's car; another one that occurs is later on is so breathtaking and incredibly fun that I'm not going to spoil it.

But among the high-testosterone action is a touch of seriousness and poignancy, mainly due to the presence of Paul Walker, who's made his last movie appearance in Furious 7 before dying in a car crash.  He's a really good actor, and any time he's onscreen it's hard not to feel his loss with this knowledge in mind, making it difficult to believe that he's gone.  =(  I looked up that originally this movie was to have a different fate for Paul Walker's character, but his sendoff in the final product is sweet and the tribute to Paul in the end was really touching.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
The other cast members are great as well and have a great sense of camaraderie, and Jason Statham's bad guy role is good; I especially enjoyed Kurt Russell's character, who was a bit of a scene stealer in his own way, but up until the end I was a bit worried that he was playing a morally ambiguous role (being the movie watcher I am).  With that said, I hope to see more of Mr. Nobody in future installments.  =)
 
The fast-paced and tight-nit editing is a bit interesting when it comes to the car chases and battle sequences, and the amount of practical effects are cool.  But with James Wan on board they singlehandedly manage to create some ridiculous amount of CGI flying on the screen; plus he also provides his unique camera angles when the moment comes.  If there's anything that prevented the movie from reaching perfection it's the fact that there was so much shaky cam during the intense moments that I was worried I was going to suffer from motion sickness (which I never thought I would feel when watching a movie; Gary Ross' The Hunger Games never had that effect on me three years ago).  =(
 
What amazed me is that despite being directed by James Wan it did not feel like a film of his.  I mean, if you were to see excerpts of The Conjuring and Furious 7 back to back and not know any better, would you honestly believe they were helmed by the same guy?  Personally I wouldn't.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Overall, Furious 7 was an enjoyable experience for someone who hasn't experienced all of its predecessors, though I have a feeling it'll work much better for those that have.  The action sequences were well-choreographed and the stunts ranged from great to hilarious.  The cheesy one-liners added to the charm, the characters were likable, and the tribute paid to Paul Walker was very touching and poignant.  =)  I recommend this movie, for it is great fun (if you can overlook the abundant shaky cam), and I cannot wait for the next installment.
My Personal Score: 4/5
Stay tuned next time as I talk about the first Summer blockbuster of 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
 
I want to thank you for reading my honest Theatrical Escapade thoughts on this movie, so please leave me a comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not.  Until next time, I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>

StarBoy91's Theatrical Escapade - Unfriended

Written: May 4th-16th, 2015
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit, and welcome to my newest (belated) Theatrical Escapade installment regarding the cyberthriller Unfriended.
This movie actually made its debut last year for the Fantasia Film Festival under the name Cybernatural, and only recently it's got a wider theatrical release this April under the newest name Unfriended.  When I first saw the trailer for the movie months back I just could not buy into it; but on April 18th I decided to watch it on a whim (sorta) after having heard a few good things about it and that for a film of its kind it's actually scary horror fare.  I also hear that it's one of the most divisive movies this year, and I can certainly believe that after having watched it.  But from where I stand, it was better and even scarier than I had expected.  O~O
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Rated: R | Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 | Running Time: 82 Minutes | Director: Levan Gabriadze
During an ongoing nightly Skype chat with Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and her friends a mysterious user signed on as "billie227" has joined in the conversation simultaneously and won't go away.  At first they believe it's a hacker, until it's revealed to them to be Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) seeking revenge on the sextet for posting an unflattering video of her exactly one year ago, which drove her to commit suicide.  Now her ghost has come back to exact vengeance on them by messing with the software and committing grisly murders, making their night (through Skype) a living cybernatural hell.
 
Unfriended is a pretty interesting take in the horror genre, and considering that it just takes place in one monitor throughout practically the whole movie I'm surprised at how effective it was.  I think part of what makes it effective is that you mainly see the characters react on Skype whenever something big is about to go down, and the actors bring in convincing performances, even when it does get unsettling at times.

I was at the edge of my seat when watching this movie, and part of what attributes to that is the buildup to the inevitable jump scares.  The buildup was succinct in this case, and considering that the movie takes place in real time as opposed to cutting to the next minute or hour or so it wasn't hard to feel nervous because I knew something was going to happen at any time (even while Blaire was browsing online, or when the video feed of a character just freezes), which worked to the movie's advantage.  And despite wanting to see these characters come out alive they're not exactly all that great as people (especially when considering their involvement in Laura's plight), which is an interesting mix.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
The way in which Laura Barns' ghost intimidates them and tortures them is a bit sadistic and unsettling often times that it borders on ingenious at certain points.  One of the ways she does this is by forcing the living characters to play "I Never", which to be honest I was not aware was an actual game until I saw this movie.  One thing I admired was that at the core of it there's an anti-bulling message, which I thought was a good theme; for there are consequences for (cyber)bulling.  Maybe not to the extremes that the movie presents (obviously), but there are consequences for such negligent actions (which is more the parent or guardian's fault for not being a good role model for the person turned bully than said bully, for parents serve as an influence), but I digress.

As I said though, the movie has gotten some polarizing reactions from critics and people; I notice in some circles that some people genuinely liked it while in another circle people really did not like Unfriended.  Part of that has got to do with the fact that it's all viewed on one monitor and it's nothing but characters reacting to stuff they're seeing, and at eighty minutes I can understand how some people may feel that it's too much to sustain the movie length.  Mercifully short, though.

Unfriended is not a movie for everyone, and I can understand why people may end up not liking it.  But personally, I thought it was a very effectively solid horror film with its own ingenious take in the genre with a strong message (it's good, but not The Conjuring good).  I'm not entirely certain how it's going to work as a franchise, as I hear sequels are being taken into consideration, but I guess we'll see when the time comes.  =)
My Personal Score: 4/5
Stick around, as I return to the Theatrical Escapade series with the latest (April-wise) speed vehicle Furious 7=)
I want to thank you for reading my honest Theatrical Escapade thoughts on this movie, so please leave me a comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not.  Until next time, I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>