Documentary Review: Console Wars (2020)

Release Date: September 23rd, 2020
Directed by: Jonah Tulis, Blake J. Harris
Based on: Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
Music by: Jeff Beal
Cast: various

Circle of Confusion, CBS Television Studios, Legendary Television, Paramount+, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Whenever you’re at war, you always hit the guy in the mouth as hard as you can. If you can’t hit him hard, you might as well not even fight. That’s the attitude in real war and it’s the attitude in business. You’ve gotta be prepared to take on the competition and win.” – Paul Rioux

When I was a kid in the early ’90s, I was all about Sega Genesis. Sure, I liked some of the games on Super Nintendo when it came out but Genesis was just my cup of tea from the speed, the graphics, the sound and the game selection.

However, I was also growing up and by middle school age, I wasn’t into the kiddie games.

This documentary tells the story of how Sega emerged as a video game powerhouse in the United States in a time when Nintendo owned the vast majority of the market share. Sega didn’t care, though, and they went all in, creating a system that was much more impressive than the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and honestly, better than Nintendo’s rebuttal, which was the Super Nintendo.

There’s no hate here, though. I truly loved both systems but Genesis had the edge for me.

Anyway, this was well put together, well researched and it features interviews with the majority of the key players in this story.

Rivalries in business are great and for preteen me, this was the greatest business rivalry I could ever care about. Video games were a huge part of my life.

So seeing all these key people talk about this rivalry now is pretty f’n cool. There’s so much I didn’t know about the behind the scenes stuff because I was a kid and all I cared about was being entertained by the games I loved.

Well, I was also pretty thoroughly entertained by this documentary.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: 100 Years of Horror (1996-1997)

Original Run: 1996 – 1997
Created by: Ted Newsom, Dante J. Pugliese
Directed by: Ted Newsom
Written by: Ted Newson, Jeff Forrester (uncredited)
Cast: Christopher Lee (presenter), Roger Corman, Hugh Hefner, Fred Olen Ray, Richard Denning, Bela Lugosi Jr., Hazel Court, Robert Wise, Beverly Garland, Gloria Talbott, Sara Karloff, Dick Miller, Caroline Munro, John Agar, Ralph Bellamy, John Carpenter, Richard Matheson, Linnea Quigley, various

Multicom Entertainment Group, 26 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’m glad that this documentary television series was made when it was, in the mid-’90s, as it allowed for the children of multiple horror icons to be involved and to tell stories about their fathers, their careers and their personal lives outside of the public eye.

Additionally, I love that this was able to include a lot of the filmmakers, writers and actors that were involved in a lot of classic horror films. Had this been made today, a lot of these people wouldn’t have been able to tell their stories in their own words, as they’re no longer with us.

Also, I love that Christopher Lee was the presenter of this series, as there wasn’t a more perfect choice available.

This series features 26 episodes, roughly 22 minutes apiece. Each episode tackles a different subject, be it a type of monster or a legendary horror actor. Plus, each episode covers a lot of ground for its running time, jumping through history and trying to show the audience everything it possibly can on the subject.

There really isn’t a dull episode, as there are so many different things that can be covered. There could’ve been more episodes and there still would’ve more topics to explore.

I like that this just dives right in and delivers so much. In fact, every episode showed me something I wasn’t aware of and helped me expand my list of old school horror movies that I still have left to watch and review.

All in all, this was pretty great and classic horror fans will probably find themselves lost in each episode, traveling through time and seeing things they still haven’t seen before.

Rating: 7.5/10

Documentary Review: The British Bulldogs (1986)

Release Date: October 15th, 1986 (video)
Directed by: Vince McMahon
Written by: Steven B. Hecht, Vince McMahon
Cast: “Dynamite Kid” Tommy Billington, Davey Boy Smith, Lou Albano, Bret Hart, The Iron Sheik, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, various

World Wrestling Federation, Coliseum Video, 90 Minutes

Review:

I stumbled upon this on Peacock in the documentary section of their WWE content. I was pretty stoked to watch it, as The British Bulldogs were one of my all-time favorite tag teams and seeing a then-WWF documentary from 1986 seemed pretty cool.

Well, it’s not a documentary. While WWE become known for making great historical wrestling documentaries about past talent, this was produced before that era and thus, it’s a collection of Bulldogs matches with a few other segments mixed in.

This was still really neat to watch, though, as these guys were just solid f’n workers in the ring and they had an intensity that was kind of unmatched in the era until their greatest rivals came along, The Hart Foundation.

The content here is all enjoyable but it doesn’t feature their best stuff. This came out in the middle of their historic run, so WWF only had the first half of that run to pick matches from. There are some memorable matches thrown on this like their feud with The Dream Team (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake before he was “The Barber”).

Half of this is singles matches, though. And that’s fine, as both the Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy can work on their own. However, I was hoping for a lot of their iconic tag team championship matches. I was also hoping for a lot more of their feud with The Hart Foundation but this came out when that feud was really getting started.

Still, if you also love The Bulldogs, this is definitely worth checking out to see them win those titles and to see them both wrestle in their primes.

Rating: 7/10

Documentary Review: Stripped: Los Angeles (2020)

Release Date: September 1st, 2020 (online premiere)
Directed by: Marc Ostrick
Written by: Marc Ostrick
Music by: Danny Mordujovich
Cast: Bama Babii, Erica Solitaire Chappell, Della Dane, Nikki Knightly, Sizi Sev

Ostrick Productions, 80 Minutes

Review:

Man, this was excruciating to watch. Not because of the subject matter, by any means, but because the production was amateurish as hell and I kind of found it shocking that Starz would even distribute this. Then again, Starz’s self-produced documentaries have rarely, if ever, been all that good.

I actually wanted a peek into the lives of the girls, here. I worked as a bodyguard and as security in the adult industry in my early twenties. I met a lot of cool and interesting people back then and with that, was expecting some pretty solid personal stories in this.

The problem wasn’t really the girls featured, as much as it was the presentation itself.

This is sloppily edited and most of it was shot like they were making videos for TikTok. Half of the movie is just strippers smoking weed talking about their pets and pointless, boring shit. Do strippers and adult entertainers not really party or have a good time, anymore? I mean, I know that they do but the director seemed to pick the worst days to capture these girls lives.

I know that this was made in an effort to show the real personas of these women but it failed to captivate or even hold my attention.

Honestly, as someone who worked in that industry, I’ve got to wonder if the director was just like all those random dudes that would come into the strip clubs and porn events I worked at, trying to butter up the girls, convincing them they were legit photographers and producers that wanted to use them for a big project. These dudes were a dime a dozen and while most adult entertainers have heard this shit a zillion times, some still gave out their phone numbers. 

Rating: 3.5/10

Documentary Review: Woodstock 99: Peace Love and Rage (2021)

Release Date: July 23rd, 2021
Directed by: Garret Price
Music by: Noel Hogan, Sindri Mar Sigfusson, various
Cast: various

Ringer Films, Polygram Entertainment, HBO Documentary Films, 110 Minutes

Review:

I nearly went to Woodstock ’99. In retrospect, I’m glad I missed this disaster but honestly, it would’ve still been an insane experience that stuck with me for the rest of my life, assuming I wasn’t one of the people that died an unfortunate death caused by a myriad of reasons.

This documentary really dives deep into those reasons and exposes the levels of mismanagement, poor decisions, poor conditions, riotous musical lineup, sexual assaults, overpriced everything and the angsty temperament of the youth at the time.

I think that this does a decent job of throwing out a lot of accusations and theories and then analyzes them, allowing the viewer to come to their own conclusions. Granted, many of the talking heads try to steer the conversation in their own ways.

All things considered, this was still a really well put together documentary that covered a hell of a lot of ground in under two hours. Plus, there’s a lot of information that I don’t think was readily available or reported on at the time. With all the pieces laid out, this was intriguing and fairly fascinating.

The nearly two hours flew by and I was kind of surprised when it started to wrap up. I’ve got to give credit to the filmmakers for the pacing, editing and keeping this thing as engaging as it was from start-to-finish.

I feel like we’re in an era where documentaries spend more time beating a dead horse and force feeding you their agenda without all the facts. It’s refreshing that this seemed to just lay it all on the table and let you ponder all of it freely.

Rating: 8.5/10

Documentary Review: Bruno (2018)

Release Date: April 20th, 2018
Cast: Bruno Sammartino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, various

WWE, 46 Minutes

Review:

This was thrown together and released onto WWE Network just a few days after Bruno Sammartino passed away in 2018.

However, instead of trying to release it as quickly as possible, I really wish that WWE would’ve spent the time to put together a good, feature length documentary on Bruno. Hell, if anyone deserved it, it’s this guy, a legitimate legend that really helped make the World-Wide Wrestling Federation, decades before it became today’s WWE. In fact, this guy was the Hulk Hogan before Hulk Hogan. He was the megastar of the company and really carried it on his back.

Bruno and Vince McMahon had a falling out in the late ’80s, though, and they never really patched things up until a few years before Bruno’s death when he finally accepted a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, after rejecting those offers for nearly two decades.

This documentary does go into Bruno’s life and his career but it mostly covers him coming back into the WWE fold and his reunion with Vince McMahon. It also features some neat backstage footage of Bruno and Arnold Schwarzenegger from the night of his Hall of Fame induction.

This was fairly decent but if I’m being honest, a legend like Bruno Sammartino deserved more and this just felt like it was slapped together to capitalize off of his death happening just a few days earlier.

Rating: 6/10

Documentary Review: My Way: The Life and Legacy of Pat Patterson (2021)

Release Date: January 24th, 2021
Cast: Pat Patterson, Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, John Cena, Dwayne Johnson, various

WWE, 57 Minutes

Review:

Pat Patterson passed away last December and with his passing, the professional wrestling business lost a true legend and a guy that was very instrumental in how the business moved forward from the ’80s and into the modern era.

Not only was he a legend in the ring, he became Vince McMahon’s right hand when the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) became the dominant force in the industry.

Patterson helped shape the personalities and careers of several legendary wrestlers. He took guys like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and helped mold them into superstars.

However, Pat Patterson was also a gay man in an industry where that was very taboo in his day. It’s also an industry that is all about machismo and with that, Patterson kept his personal life very private. Those who were close to him, knew that he was gay but it was never publically stated by Patterson himself until really late in life when he felt like he didn’t have to hide it anymore.

All that being said, Patterson was an interesting but very layered guy. He was a sweet man, though. I met him briefly backstage at shows a few times and he was always a hell of a nice guy and always accommodating to the fans that got to be around him.

This WWE Network special did a pretty good job of capturing the man’s life even if it had what I consider a scant running time. But I did enjoy the fact that there was enough recorded material of Patterson for him to really tell you his story in his own words.

Rating: 7/10

Documentary Review: Hoop Dreams (1994)

Release Date: January, 1994 (Sundance)
Directed by: Steve James
Written by: Steve James, Frederick Marx
Music by: Ben Sidran
Cast: William Gates, Arthur Agee, various

KTCA Minneapolis, Kartemquin Films, Fine Line Features, 170 Minutes

Review:

“That’s why when somebody say, “when you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me”, and that stuff. Well, I should’ve said to them, “if I don’t make it, don’t you forget about me.”” – William Gates

Hoop Dreams was filmed over years, following two Chicago area high school basketball players that were trying to achieve their dream of someday playing in the NBA.

This was also pretty influential on how sports documentaries were made and presented going forward. This had a very direct, intimate approach and the time that it took to film these boys’ lives is pretty remarkable and impressive. If anything, the filmmakers deserved an award just for their dedication on this story.

It’s a very long documentary, however, and with that, it drags in some points. Although, they had to take hundreds of hours of footage over four years and edit it down to just under three hours. Had this been made today, it probably would’ve been released as a documentary miniseries with multiple episodes.

I like the film quite a bit, though, even if I hadn’t seen it since the ’90s. It’s a passionate human story that has its fair share of heartbreak, success and perseverance.

Rating: 8/10

Documentary Review: Poverty, Inc. (2014)

Release Date: December 5th, 2014
Directed by: Michael Matheson Miller
Written by: Michael Matheson Miller, Jonathan Witt
Cast: various

Acton Institute, 94 Minutes

Review:

A friend of mine recommended this documentary while we were talking about the subject of how charity is often times a scam or mismanaged to the point of being ineffective, as those who are supposed to benefit never seem to grow out of impoverished situations.

So after checking out the trailer for this, I watched it immediately, as I was glad to see that some people came together to point out this obvious problem.

Overall, this was a decent and informative watch and I’d highly suggest it to those who are charitable but not because some celebrity told you to be but because you actually want to make a difference in people’s lives.

This breaks down what has become known as the “poverty industrial complex” and how it is just a big business that doesn’t really effect impoverished people in the ways it implies.

Also, this shows how a lot of Westerners with good intentions don’t see the actual consequences of their means of charity because they don’t see the region their trying to help from a local viewpoint. And often times, their charity does more long-term harm than good.

For the most part, I thought that this was well put together, well edited and made its points pretty exactingly.

This documentary presented things that everyone should really be aware of. 

Rating: 7.5/10

Documentary Review: Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)

Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Directed by: Brian Stillman
Written by: Brian Stillman
Music by: Chris Ianuzzi
Cast: various

X-Ray Films, 70 Minutes

Review:

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary about the people who have a bit of an obsession with collecting Star Wars toys. It mainly focuses on the original line of toys from the original trilogy of movies and it also goes into their history and development.

I was initially excited to check this out back when it was a new film. However, it’s kind of light, if I’m being honest and suffers from some clunky editing, too much reliance on talking head interviews and, at times, being a bit overly dramatic.

That being said, I think that the Star Wars episode of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us is a much better watch and a more professional production.

Still, this was neat to revisit and it’s engaging enough. But the 70 minute running time seems scant and I feel like this really needed to delve into the history more and provide more backstory.

All in all, this is okay but it could’ve been a lot better than what it was.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on toys, video games, table top gaming, collecting and specific niche fandoms.