Hop (PG, Netflix)
The movie opens with the promise of a whimsical tale of how a human got to be the Easter Bunny, and ten minutes later you learn that reason is "because he didn't want to get a real job." Then his sister invites him to housesit her boss' fucking mansion, where he gets guilt-tripped by the son of the Easter Bunny who wants to be a drummer instead of taking over the family business. At best this a cliched manchild's journey we've seen before, where a couple of slackers have to learn to be adults. At worst it's the story of two privileged fucks refusing to take responsibility in their lives and letting the ebb and flow of the world give them what they want. Let's not even get into the "minorities can't be in charge of anything" subtext.
The Angry Video Game Nerd Movie (PG-13, Amazon Streaming)
Back in June I watched the three Channel Awesome movies, if only so I could play them with the GigaBoots commentaries while longboi grinding. I thought about doing quickies for them but there wasn't much to say other than they were all trash, but Kickassia and Suburban Knights had just enough self-awareness to save them from being completely insufferable while To Boldly Flee was torturous. So going into this my bar for movies from YouTube critics (you can decide for yourself if that should be in quotes) wasn't exactly high, but this is at least a real movie with some actual production value and fewer people screaming into a grainy camcorder with no white balancing.
For the first twenty or so minutes The AVGN Movie feels like it's shaping up to be a ninety minute "lol E.T. sucks" joke with swearing in place of any actual jokes. Then the team meets the "guy who sounds like a total crackpot but is the only one who really knows what's going on" archetype and it turns into a government conspiracy thriller about aliens that climaxes in a big "fucking wut" moment. It's not great and the first half before they get to the Atari dump site is kinda boring, but it's also not something I could get that angry at, especially since it's free to watch with Amazon Prime.
Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight (G, Netflix)
Hey, what if I told you there was an animated movie about the Avengers saving Santa Claus from Loki? Where there's a scene of the Hulk taking Thor around town to teach him about Christmas cheer and presents? And Mrs. Claus piloting Groot and Rocket Raccoon's ship? And Loki's defeat involves him getting berated by a Mall Santa and the Hulk throwing presents at him so hard they explode?
And what if I told you it's not as interesting as it sounds.
Because they decided to play the scenario straight, what could have been a gloriously stupid mess just ends up being a schlocky children's Christmas movie with dull fight scenes. And it wouldn't be a schlocky children's Christmas movie without somebody reminding everyone else they don't believe in Santa every ten minutes, and here it's Iron Man. When it does try to be goofy like having the Hulk sing carols, it's more embarrassing than charmingly stupid.
Tagging along with the heroes we recognize from the MCU is this teenager I'd never heard of before, Reptil, who pretty much becomes the star of the show. I feel like he was made up specifically for the Marvel Super Hero Adventures series because his superpower is turning into dinosaurs, which has got to be the most five-year-old pandering superpower I've ever heard. And "kid who can turn into dinosaurs" is distractingly out of place alongside "boomerang-shield patriot", "gamma giant", and "Norse god". On more than one occasion he'd say something in an effort to contribute to the story and I'd ask "Who the fuck are you again??"
And this is a personal distraction, but Reptil's voice kept making me think of Axl from the later Mega Man X games... except he doesn't actually sound like Axl in either X7 or Command Mission/X8 ... but does sort of sound halfway between the two... then I looked up his voice actor to find out he does Pitt in the Smash Bros. games and Kid Icarus Uprising and now my brain hurts.
This is also a perfect example of something that's awkward as fuck to watch if you apply the Immortal Hulk canon of the Hulk getting his powers from Hell magic.
Superfrog HD (PC)
The original Superfrog was the poster child of Amiga mascot platformers, where levels being repetetive, sprawling, unstructured messes with enemies and collectibles haphazardly farted all over the place was par for the course. And while that might earn Superfrog HD a place in the hearts of people nostalgic for the Amiga, everyone else gets two hours of incoherent bullshit and motion sickness.
Nightshade (NES via Switch Online)
Well this was just about the last thing I ever expected to see get a Virtual Console release. When that "New Game" card flipped over to reveal this my mouth literally fell open. And shortly after that I learned it's been on Steam for over a year so somebody's clearly trying to get this game some attention.
Playing NES games on the JoyCons is a crapshoot thanks to Nintendo insisting on using the A/B buttons even on controllers where those buttons are at an angle, and then not letting you rebind to the much more sensible B/Y. Some games aren't the worst, but some like Blaster Master are virtually unplayable. Nightshade's a point-and-clicker that doesn't demand a lot of precision, so it falls into the former even if the select button is in an awful location.
Longtime readers will know I adore this game, and hopefully people finding it on the Switch who also like point-and-clickers and cheesy dialogue will find a lot to like here. But I also expect a lot of people will be put off by how janky the fistfighting scenes are. This calls for tricks ranging from "puzzles" like making Goliath smash into a wall to stun him or punching the anubis statues while they're turning, or combat tricks like baiting the ninjas into spawning behind you as you walk away from them and quickly turning to punch them or being super defensive with Lord Muck. But then you have fights like the Rat King who's pretty much "mash the attack button and hope he dies before you do." Expect to take damage from every fight you get into.
And as a bonus, the Switch's rewind function allowed me to finally figure out how to defeat the mummies without the Staff of Ra. And it only took, what, seventeen years? Except you're better off using the staff to one-shot the mummies anyway because it's useless against Sutekh: it's a pain in the ass to hit him with it, it doesn't even seem to do more damage than a normal punch, and you're likely to run out of ammo before killing him. Still nice to put that mystery to rest, at least!
Also, I, uh, recently discovered Nightshade's developer, Beam Software, was the developer of a lot of LJN-published shovelware, including those Back to the Future games that are a staple of every "Worst NES Games" lists. I need to go lie down now.