Ongoing Investigations: Case #193

There are a few movies I was really looking forward to this year. With a limited budget I have to be a bit more conservative to what I am willing to see in theaters but Wreck-It-Ralph was a movie I definitely need to see on the big screen. I enjoyed the movie a great deal. I think I liked it more than Narutaki. But everyone we went with agreed one thing majorly brought the movie down as a whole. The major question was how much did it hurt the movie.

Wreck-It-Ralph is a villain who after years of being the bad guy wants a little recognition so he decides to try being a hero. But in the process of trying to prove that he has what it takes to be more than an engine of destruction causes him to unwittingly unleash a terror that could destroy the arcade. Oh. And he has to help a bratty little girl win a Go Cart race.

There were quite a few good things to love about the movie. It has an amazing sense of style and place. The feel of the world inside the arcade machines is just so wonderfully realized. It is sort of the Toy Story for video games. Retro games feel retro and modern games feel slick with a wonderfully congruent style that still lets everything feel very unique. Fix-it Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun are extremely different in their design but still have a sense of consistency to them. The humor can be quite good when it is working well. There was one line about Sergeant Calhoun that cannot be beat. I won’t spoil it but you will know it when you hear it. The cameos of real game characters are amazing. You have everyone from Zangief and Sonic to Tapper, Q*bert, and Beard Papa. Certain scenes beg to be watched on home video just so you can pause and take them all in. The licensed characters give the sense of authenticity while making sure never to steal the spotlight from the main cast. And most importantly the story is just fun homage to the arcade. And that is always just a warm feeling.

The major problems are two-fold. The first is in Japan the movie is entitled Sugar Rush. And for all intents and purposes that might be a bit more accurate title. Because while the story centers on Wreck-It-Ralph the majority of the movie is spent inside the Sugar Rush game. So you better like that candy coated Mario Cart world because it is the primary place you will see. The trailers make it seem like their will be much more world hopping than there actually is in the end. The other is just the fact that Sarah Silverman is an annoying human being who is about as funny as a root canal. She did not ruin the movie for me but she does drag it down especially considering she is deuteragonist in the film and does not really ever leave the spotlight after she is introduced. In a way she makes the Sugar Rush part of the film feel ever longer.

Still despite that I had a great time. I even enjoyed the AKB48 Sugar Rush theme song. As I understand they are already planning a sequel that deals with console games and/or MMORPGs. I look forward to seeing that. But until that I will enjoy this movie again on Blu-Ray when it comes out.

I had been looking forward to Wreck-It-Ralph for a long time, ever since the concept was announced. It was a movie that I wasn’t sure was really Disney but I hoped they could pull it off and breath new life into the repertoire. In fact, I felt like who else could afford to have all of these cameos besides Disney?

Ralph is a hapless lug stuck in a situation not of his choosing and who just wants to prove he can be a different guy, Ralph is endearing from the get-go. I really enjoyed him learning what it means to be a hero, it is great to want to be a hero but it can’t be about you. And the movie becomes less about Ralph the more he becomes a hero, kind of interesting.

Or at least it was somewhat interesting, but diminishing the character we’ve come to care for in the middle of the movie to instead focus on Vanellope? I know I’m just a bit biased because of her voice and humor that comes along with it. I did think their friendship was genuinely sweet at points and my heart broke when Ralph had to be the “bad guy” once again.

The tons of cameos were fun, though I almost shed tears at poor Q*bert without a home, living in Game Central Station. The animation and integration of the videogames in the film were brilliant, there were lots of quirks depending on the characters and what games they came from. This was most evident with the older games like Fix-It-Felix for example where characters would hop and make a jump noise when surprised.

I was pleased at the setup for the story, weaving in little details from the beginning that later were significant, it was plotted well. The ending was really well concocted.

I thought the music was mostly terrible, my only real complaint. So I walked away from the movie feeling pleased, but I felt like I should have loved it to bits instead of just liking it.

Maybe it was just overshadowed by the perfect, poignant Paperman short that played first.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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I finally got my hands on Rohan at the Louvre. It is nice to be able to buy Jojo’s legitimately in English again even if it is for just a little side story book. The fact that it involves Hirohiko Araki’s barely concealed self insert character at one of the world’s most famous art museums is just a wonderful plus.

The book goes out of its way to be a self-contained story. Since it was part of a collection of comics about the Louvre it has to be self-contained because a majority of the original readers were picking up the title due to being part of a greater art collection. But at the same time since it involves a character from Diamond is Unbreakable it is actually a perfect piece of that story. Jojo’s part four distinctly revels in going off on silly little side stories so Rohan Kishibe randomly picking up and going to France makes perfect sense in the context of the greater story.

When Rohan Kishibe randomly remembers a story from his youth he is obsessed with tracking down a painting that was mentioned by a woman he had fallen in love with. But when he finally finds the piece in an abandoned part of the museum he quickly discovers the deadly reason it was sealed away. Sadly it does not involve Inca vampires or the evil Prime Minister of France.

Like all Jojo’s it is a little action, a little horror, some romance is always just plain weird, and trivia and quick thinking is the king to victory. So it is a must buy for any Jojo’s fan. It is a great way to give someone a taste of Jojo’s that in not trying to get them to read some section of a 100 plus book manga series.

Also Araki finally just straight up admits he can’t draw sexy women.

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I got around to watching the Paradise Kiss live action movie. It was rather surprising they made one so many years after the manga concluded.

I thought they did a good job with the casting as well as the sets and clothing. The workshop was especially well done and made the entire movie feel special. But the actual story just wilted.

Yukari’s meeting with and inclusion in the ParaKiss group is much the same. Her relationship with George is a bit changed, and gets more so as the movie goes on.

Sadly, I never really felt Yukari’s passion be ignited for fashion or modeling or anything really.

There was just not enough time to fully explore the complex relationship between Miwako, Arashi, and Hiroyuki so sadly it falls a bit flat in the movie. It might have been a good idea to just remove it to simplify everything.

The biggest change was the more fairytale-like ending. I am not one to dislike such endings, in fact I love them, but in this case I think it diminished all the life lessons Yukari was supposed to gain from her experiences with ParaKiss. Because while the manga might not end the way you want, it is still a hopeful and happy ending so I don’t feel it should have been altered.

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And so ends the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood arc of the anime. Not everyone agrees what their favorite part of Jojo’s is but I think most people would say that the first part is the weakest. So in that regard the anime wisely speeds through the first part as quickly as possible while making sure not to do the story any injustices.

The main problem with part 1 is that Hirohiko Araki is just learning to really tell awesome stories in this universe with Jonathan Joestar. So parts of the story sort of meander in ways that would be greatly tightened up in later arcs. Much like Dragon Ball Z Kai this anime adapts Phantom Blood so it is all killer and no filler. The back story tells you everything you need to know to set up Jonathan and Dio’s bloody rivalry without wasting too much time and compresses all the fights to their pure exciting essence. It basically takes the part of the series that might easily turn off new viewers and punches it up to be the best it can be.

The animation is still rather cheap. The opening is super cool but it is probably the best animation the whole series. But that does not matter. As long as we get some “WRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!” I am happy. Now lets enjoy the upcoming adventures of Joseph Joestar!

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I have started watching Toradora again, I had stopped at episode 7 a while back. I’ve now blown through eps. 8-20 in a very short period of time.

If I was worried about connecting with the series again, my fears were quickly quashed as the gang headed to a beach house for summer break. The episodes encompassed everything I like about the show friendship, love, and subtle moments and looks which speak volumes.

I still find Ami to be a character written by two different people who don’t talk to one another, but her role is not so prominent as the episodes fly by.

I also still feel like we don’t get to see enough to Ryuuji’s problems and life but there have been amazing moments like when dealing with Taiga’s father.

The last three episodes I watched were one big Christmas story and it melted, and also broke, my heart. I was in tears by the end so there is no doubt Toradora has wormed its way into my heart forever.

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