Video Game Review: Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 (NES)

While my experience with the first game in this series didn’t live up to my fond memories of it, this game, one I’ve never played, actually improved on its predecessor and was more fun to play, overall.

The game graphics, sprites, controls and playing style are the same as the first Rescue Rangers outing. However, the level design is better and smoother and this feels like it’s closer to a final, solid draft, where the other one needed some corrections.

I also felt like the boss battles here were better and not as repetitious as the first game. Granted, none of them were all that memorable or great.

I like that this allows you to take very different routes. While the first game employed that, it was done on more of a minor scale and this one actually opens up different options that may inspire you to play through it a couple times in an effort to have different experiences.

This series is okay. It’s not as good as the DuckTales games but those were a blast and set a really high precedent that all other 8-bit Disney games would be unfairly compared to.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as the other Disney games for the original Nintendo.

Comic Review: Batman: War Games: Book One

Published: 2004-2005
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 515 Pages

Review:

This is one of the giant Batman sagas I hadn’t yet read. So I was pretty stoked to pick it up but ultimately, I was left pretty disappointed, as it’s slow, dry and honestly, not that exciting.

Being that I am a fan of Stephanie Brown a.k.a. Spoiler, I did like her parts in this, as it is a major turning point for her character and because it helped to fill in some of the blanks I had with her character’s development. I really dug the hell out of her time as Batgirl before they took it away from her and gave the identity back to Barbara Gordon.

This collection doesn’t feel much like a large cohesive story. There are plot threads that stretch the duration of the book but it is mostly a few short arcs stuffed into a massive volume to collect the tales of the era.

I guess the main common thread is that this mostly focuses on combating Gotham City’s street level crime but this book sort of just sets the stage for what I assume will be a more action heavy second book.

For the most part, I liked the art but some of the stories felt like a waste of time. But I guess I’ll have to see how things play out in the second and final volume of this “saga” before being too harsh.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other Batman stories of the late ’90s and early ’00s.

Film Review: The Way of the Dragon (1972)

Also known as: Fury of the Dragon (European English title), Revenge of the Dragon (US cable TV title), Return of the Dragon (US dubbed version)
Release Date: June 1st, 1972 (Hong Kong)
Directed by: Bruce Lee
Written by: Bruce Lee
Music by: Joseph Ko
Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Paul Wei, Tony Liu, Unicorn Chan, Chuck Norris, Malisa Longo, Robert Wall, Hwang In-shik, Jon T. Benn 

Golden Harvest Films, Concord Productions, 99 Minutes, 133 Minutes (extended cut), 86 Minutes (censored cut)

Review:

“Let him know. If I ever see him here again… he won’t leave alive!” – Tang Lung

While this is my least favorite of the trilogy of martial arts films that Bruce Lee made before the legendary Enter the Dragon, this one does have the best finale of the three, as it pits Bruce Lee against Chuck Norris and then shows him kick the f’n shit out a bunch of gangsters.

The story takes place in what was modern 1970s Rome. Lee and his family’s restaurant is terrorized by local mafiosos, so he takes it upon himself to beat them all to a bloody pulp for 99 minutes.

The plot is fairly weak and generic but I like most of the characters from Lee’s family to the evil mob boss to Chuck Norris’ Colt.

If one were to pull the action sequences from this film, it’d be dreadfully dull. However, the action and Lee’s presence keep the film afloat.

In fact, the fight choreography in this movie is stunning but that should probably go without saying, as Lee never disappointed in that regard. Adding Chuck Norris to the mix only maximizes the awesome action sequences.

Ultimately, this is a pretty fun movie to watch for its high points but it still pales in comparison to Enter the Dragon, which followed.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Bruce Lee martial arts films of the ’70s.

Film Review: Spaced Invaders (1990)

Also known as: Martians!!! (working title)
Release Date: April 27th, 1990
Directed by: Patrick Read Johnson
Written by: Patrick Read Johnson, Scott Lawrence Alexander
Music by: David Russo
Cast: Douglas Barr, Royal Dano, Ariana Richards, Gregg Berger, Fred Applegate, Wayne Alexander, J. J. Anderson, Patrika Darbo, Tonya Lee Williams, Tony Cox, Orson Welles (voice – archive footage)

Silver Screen Partners IV, Smart Egg Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, 100 Minutes

Review:

“Look, when a vastly superior alien culture comes all this way to take over your world, certain basic laws of planetary conquest apply. For example, when someone points a Quad Vectored Hypo Thermic Cosmo Blaster at you, it’s a fair bet you are about to become toast.” – Giggywig, “Will you please sit down and be quiet?” – Mrs. Vanderspool, “[Mrs. Vanderspool is rather overweight] Or perhaps in your case, a whole loaf of toast!” – Giggywig

Some movies just don’t age well. This is one of them.

Granted, I was a kid when I saw this and even though I loved it when I saw it in the theater and then on VHS, a dozen times, it was always a cheesy and goofy movie.

That being said, I still found the movie entertaining enough to sit through for 100 minutes and I loved the practical effects, especially in regards to the animatronics of the Martians.

The story sees a small group of Martians miss the fleet going to war. While searching for the fleet’s signal, they intercept a broadcast from Earth, falsely interpreting that as a news report that the Martians have invaded their insignificant neighboring planet. So these Martians head to Earth to help an invasion that isn’t actually happening.

I can’t quite call this an outright parody, even though it’s an obvious homage to alien invasion science fiction like War of the Worlds, which is actually the broadcast that they perceived to be a legitimate news report in the same vein that many humans did in 1938.

This is almost a stoner comedy for kids but without the drugs. It kind of reminds me of 1986’s Howard the Duck in a lot of respects. I’m also one of the few people on Earth that like that movie, even though George Lucas has since disowned it.

While the film does have a plot, it’s a pretty simple one and the majority of the movie is just a series of humorous gags and jokes with a lot of crude, juvenile humor. You know, the best kind of humor from the best time that kind of humor existed.

I really like Royal Dano in this and I feel like that guy doesn’t get enough credit. He’s a solid and fully committed character actor that, at the very least, brightens any production he’s ever been a part of.

Additionally, I really connected with Ariana Richards in this. She’s most famous for being the young girl in Jurassic Park but, as a kid, I connected with her love of aliens and science fiction. The fact that she spends 75 percent of the film dressed like a xenomorph from the Alien franchise made my day back in 1990 and it’s still kind of cool. I also really enjoyed the little kid dressed like a duck the whole movie, who only removed his duck bill for the film’s big finale.

This is bizarre and borderline corny but I wouldn’t call it a waste of time. It was a decent way of wasting 100 minutes. I don’t think I’ll watch it again in the near future, or ever, but it was fun revisiting all these years later, even if it didn’t live up to my memories of it.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other juvenile sci-fi comedies of the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Comic Review: Rambo 3.5

Published: 2010
Written by: Jim Rugg
Art by: Jim Rugg
Based on: characters by David Morrell

Jim Rugg Art, 32 Pages

Review:

I’ve wanted to read this since finding out about it on one of Cartoonist Kayfabe’s videos. And since I already own and read three bootleg comics about Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra, I figured that I’d enjoy this too.

Unfortunately, I don’t own this, yet. But Jim Rugg does have it up to read on his website for those that want to give it a read.

The story tries to answer the question about how John Rambo might have handled the events of 9/11, especially after he helped the Afghan rebels in Rambo III.

The comic focuses on George W. Bush and John Rambo, as the two form a bond and team up to fight the terrorists. There is a plot twist, however, but I won’t ruin it.

Overall, the comic was amusing and I enjoyed it. It’s pretty cheeky towards Bush and his handling of the situation but I’m not a snowflake and I’m pretty indifferent to the guy, anyway.

Some may like this, some may not. I tend to gravitate to bootleg and outlaw comics, especially unofficial sequels to movies I’m a fan of.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the Cobra II comics from Teddy Goldenberg.

Video Game Review: Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES)

I used to watch the hell out of Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers after school, back in the late ’80s. So when this game came out, I was pretty stoked to play it. From memory, I mostly remember liking it quite a bit.

Playing it in 2020, for the first time since probably 1990, I have to say that it hasn’t held up very well. Especially, after having recently revisited the far superior DuckTales games.

It’s a competent game with good controls, simple and sharp mechanics and easy gameplay. However, the level design is overly simplistic and not very exciting. Also, the game is pretty damn easy. At least, I found it to be lacking any real challenge.

The boss battles were pie. Most enemies were just easy to dodge and there didn’t seem to be much incentive in going out of your way to grab items. I just blew through every level and crushed the whole game in about 30 minutes or so.

It’s not a bad game, it’s well built and executed in spite of its basic bitch levels. There are many games that are much worse for the NES.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as the other Disney games for the original Nintendo.

Comic Review: The Death of Captain America, Vol. 1: The Death of the Dream

Published: June 11th, 2008
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting, Mike Perkins

Marvel Comics, 161 Pages

Review:

I was excited to read this after having recently read Ed Brubaker’s first three volumes in his Captain America run, as well as revisiting the Civil War event.

This story takes place immediately after Civil War and in the first issue of this collection, we see Cap arrive at the courthouse to stand trial only for him to be assassinated on the steps before entering.

What follows is a political thriller with a lot of twists, turns and curveballs. This story is also used to setup Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Solider as the new gun-toting Captain America. While he doesn’t become the new Cap yet, this is the start of that interesting journey and intriguing era for the character.

The death of Cap happens so quick and once you get past that, this deals with the fallout from it and how it effects certain characters while also slowly revealing that something is very complicated with one of them. I don’t want to say too much for risk of spoiling a major plot twist.

I thought that this was pretty good but it doesn’t have a definitive ending. It’s left open ended, as this is the first of several parts collecting the larger saga around Cap’s death and Bucky’s evolution into the role of Cap’s replacement.

Brubaker once again wrote a compelling and interesting story with superb art by Steve Epting and Mike Perkins.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run.