Workin on the comic, watch if you dare!
One of my comic icons is Dave Kellett. I’ve been reading Sheldon since when I started WTH comics back in 2001 and I’ve always enjoyed Dave’s sense of humor, but equally his cool personage. I mean, the guy is just a pinnacle of friendly. I fruitlessly strive to imitate his demeanour every day.
There is one other reason that I admire Dave so much: his deep knowledge and appreciation for all things comics. Dave studied the history of comics in school, and I’ve heard him say several times that he’d love to teach comics some day as well. He’s been a part of several convention panels over the years, and he’s presented lectures at major universities as well. And in a time where comics are changing drastically, Dave has always been one of the voices that both encourages the future as well as pleads to the past.
So, when he announced he was diving into the film world to do a documentary on comics I knew - and I mean I KNEW – that I had to see this film. And slowly, over time, more and more information about his movie Stripped has been trickled into the web. Clips from interviews, little snippets of the finished film, even discussions about his plans and his editing process. Every bit of it was like a tiny bread crumb forming a trail to the promised land of milk and honey and comics.
Dave and co-creator Fred Schroeder did a Kickstarter for the film back in 2011, and the response was amazing! Since then they’ve been working on the film, adding more interviews (including Bill Watterson) and pushing towards a finished film. Now, with the final product ready to release later this year they’ve started a second Kickstarter – a final push to help fund some of the legal fees for bits of film and audio they’re using.
Now, before you get overly excited about two Kickstarters for one project, I want to assure you that they’re not breaking the funding rules and Dave has expressed multiple times that they don’t want people to ‘double dip’ on this project. They’re hoping that people who missed the boat the first time get a chance to help fund (and in turn purchase their copy of the film).
And I am SOOOO glad they did because as much as I want this film to release I have to admit that I was not able to participate funding the first Kickstarter. This time around I’m not missing my chance to help this project and get my copy of the film locked down! (And YES you can expect a BlueReview when I get my copy in hand!)
Now, if you’re like me and you missed this the first time around please PLEASE take a moment to watch this trailer for the film. Soak it in, think it over, and then zip over to their Kickstarter page and purchase a copy – either for download or a physical version. You will thank me later when you get to watch this masterpiece.
One of the phrases I keep hearing about this movie is that it’s a love letter to comics. I think that sounds perfect, and I believe it when I know where it’s coming from. This film will be inspiring and moving and funny. Just like comics.
Okay, BlueCrew, I know that a LOT of us are gamers. And I have to believe most of us have (by now) seen the movie Wreck-It Ralph. And, so with that in mind I’m going to say this here at the start because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone else:
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.
Not big ones, mind you, but there are a couple – and I actually held off doing this review until the Blu-Ray release because I really feel like in order to do a good BlueReview of this movie you HAVE to talk about the ending. Because, in my mind, the ending completely changes my view on the movie as a whole.
… but more on that later.
Let’s get to the review – with one more reminder – as rare as it is there might be a spoiler or five in this review. Okay, warnings all done and review may now start!
When I first heard about this movie I was actually a bit terrified – for a few reasons. First, and let’s be honest, Hollywood hasn’t traditionally been very good to games. Gaming movies are, well, awful. But, equally as bad, even scenes with games involved in them are pretty horrid. It’s like actors have no clue how to hold a controller and not one person in the studio feels like it’s worth 10 minutes to do a Google search and find out. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and I don’t think I’m the only gamer that feels that way.
Another reason I was worried was the voice cast. Maybe I’m a Disney purist, but I believe that Disney movies are best served by unknown actors carefully selected by the producers. Sure, it’s worked before but for every Lion King there’s a Hunchback of Notre Dame and for every Robin Williams there’s an Eddie Murphy. In the end, when you look at the whole spectrum of “recent” Disney movies I think they work best when they find voices for characters instead of build their characters around big-name actors.
So, when I heard this movie was going to star John C. Reily, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, and Sarah Silverman… well… I immediately cringed. And not just cause I really don’t find Sarah Silverman funny in the least. I cringed because I felt the dread-horrors of Home on the Range beginning to form once again. I was seriously, SERIOUSLY afraid of this movie.
And yet, I knew I’d have to see it. Especially after I saw the first trailer. It actually showed potential, and when I realized this movie had a chance… well… I knew I had to go and judge it for myself.
So, obviously the way to start this review is to discuss my two concerns before I even saw the movie. First concern: respect for gaming. If you’ve seen this movie it is CLEAR that the creators get gaming – and even moreso – they probably grew up as gamers. There is a lot of love and detail in their presentation of the arcades and the games found there. But it’s more than that – and this is one place where the BluRay stands out – finding all the amazing cameos in the movie. There were a ton of characters from old games (arcade and console) all over this movie. Along with clear icons like Sonic, Chun Li, Pac-Man, Q-Bert and Bowser there were a ton of smaller characters not everyone would notice such as the Knight and Ostrich from Joust, Neff from Altered Beast, Mishaela from Shining Force, and even a couple of Moogles.
Now, just throwing a bunch of characters into a movie doesn’t justify me saying that they ‘get gaming’ – no matter how many or how small or vague the characters. It’s all the other little details they offered. There are so many inside jokes and references, but there are also such carefully plotted details like the way the Nicelanders move or the crafted worlds (notice how Ralph’s game is shaped in blocks!) There is a lot of small things in this movie that just translate into the love these creators share for the gaming medium.
My other early complaint was voice acting. Here I am willing to 100% say “I was wrong.” Maybe it was that magic touch of John Lassater (cause lets be honest: big names work for Pixar) or maybe it was just one of those rare golden Lion King moments, but the actors and the characters fit together so beautifully. Yes, even Sarah Silverman (who I have to clarify took about half the movie for me to find not annoying, but once she broke past that wall I found her character adorable.)
Now, like I said at the start, I wanted to do a review for this right away. Especially given how much trepidation I had about the movie before release, a part of me felt like I owed the movie a review. But, it is so SO hard to review this movie without spoilers. I can’t even imagine it.
Why? Well let’s start off with the key one: THEY SOLD THE ENDING SHORT!!
Think about the core concept of this movie: jumping between games. The very first scene with all the villains meeting in the Pac-Man game sets the rules that you can travel between games. The entire movie is designed with that concept in mind – with characters from several games hoping around throughout the movie. So why, at the end of the movie, does Ralph leave Vanellope to go back to his game? Why couldn’t he just live in the castle with her when she offers, and travel to the Fix-It Felix Jr. game during ‘work hours’ and just live in Sugar Rush?
The simple fact is that Disney wanted that tear-jerk moment when Ralph says seeing Vanellope is the highlight of his day. They’re banking on the audience thinking that he gave up ever seeing her again to go back to his game and so now the one time he gets to see her is when the Nicelanders throw him off the roof.
The problem with this is that – based on the rules of the movie – this makes NO SENSE. Based on the ending ALONE this makes no sense. Let me ask you a question: when Felix and Calhoun get married at the end do you think they live in seperate games? Probably not. There is no rational reason that Ralph couldn’t go live in Sugar Rush with his friend and just make a trip to work every morning. That would make more sense.
“But, Joshua, the point was that Ralph made friends with the people in his game!” NOPE! Not accepting that one either and here is why: in the end they may treat him nicer. But he still lives in the dump. And, even more than that, how about the scene where he returns with the medal and has a heart-to-heart talk with Gene. Ralph admits he’s just tired of feeling alone in the dump and Gene’s answer is “now you can live alone in the Penthouse.” REALLY? Does that really show any growth at all in the Nicelanders? Does a moment like that convince anyone that everything between Ralph and the Nicelanders is alright now? If someone said something like that to you would you really feel like you had to sacrifice your happiness for their sake? Makes no sense.
The truth is that according to the rules of this movie, Ralph could have and SHOULD have moved into the castle in Sugar Rush. As long as he went to work every day he’d still save his game, he could still be treated “nicer” by the Nicelanders, he could still be friends with Felix, he could still make housing for the Q-Bert gang, and he could still learn that it’s okay to be the bad guy. And, most importantly, he could still have his friendship withVanellope. Nothing changes, it just makes more sense.
Speaking of making sense, why in the world does Sugar Rush have quick sand and double stripe tree traps? This is a racing game not a platformer… I didn’t get that at all. I realize they needed a world to play in and these are gaming jokes but I just don’t get why a racing game needs platformer style world elements? But I digress…
Bottom line is that this movie is actually great. I loved it. I recommend it to anyone. Gamers, kids, gamers who act like kids (aka me), cartoon fans, or people just looking for a charming and fun film. It’s really a winner game. Until the very end, where it doesn’t “fall apart” but… well… it just has an ending about as lame as most video games do. Huh… maybe that was on purpose?
Nah. It just had a dumb ending. So I docked it points. In the end though I’m going to give this movie a solid 4 out of 5 Quarters. Essentially I docked a full quarter for a poorly done ending.
Today is TODAY, Bluecrew!!
Starting today it’s full time all the time. As promised we are moving into the world of five days a week – so don’t forget to stop by for a NEW COMIC tomorrow! And, while I’m at it, don’t forget on Thursday too! And, for good measure I’ll just add Wed and Friday as well. That’s five right? Oh! And today. Don’t forget to stop by today for a new comic too. THAT is five. Rock on!
Oh, and while you’re visiting do me a favor and slap one of these new little social media buttons I’ve added. Don’t worry, they can all take a good hit or two. In fact, you can slap each of them every day if you want. It’s totally legal! Here’s a thought – if you’re having a rough day, or just a medium day, or just a day… and you need to take out a little stress why not slap the Twitter button. Or the Reddit tag. Or the Facebook one (don’t worry, Facebook likes it.) Isn’t that a great plan? I think so too!
So one last thing to talk about with all these fun changes: T-SHIRTS!!
Going full time means I can finally start to work on some of these ideas and side-projects I’ve been dreaming about forever. Some of those are shirts and posters and downloadable content that I’ve had rattling in my skull for a long time. This first shirt I actually thought of over two years ago and just have never gotten around to making. But now, through the wonder of more time I can finally start to get some of these done! So check this badboy out!
Now I designed it in red cause, you know, the original poster I’ve always seen is in red – but you can pick a different color if you want. I still like red myself but check out navy and black. Looks pretty sharp!
You can expect to see a lot more shirts and stuff, but I’m not going to beat you over the head with them. Maybe every once in a while I’ll announce a really cool one here in the blog, but otherwise I’ll try to keep it to Twitter or Facebook posts and maybe a little button on the right over there. Or a slideshow button. Something simple.
Bottom line is I’d like to not become a salesperson. I did that job for over a decade, and there’s a reason I left to do this instead. Cool? Sweet! Thanks guys!
SEE YOU TOMORROW!!!