Getting back to my roots…

As the title of this entry suggests, I’m feeling like getting back to my roots for my next series of reviews. Insomuch that for the next several weeks, I’ll be doing something of a… dual review so to speak. From now until I reach number one, every Monday will be a countdown towards my favorite films of all time. These reviews will differ base on the film but will, generally, focus on three main points.

1) Originality of story, as in whether it is an original tale, one adapted from another, or even a part of a larger whole. 2) The music of the film be it actual song and dance or epically done background music. 3) The frequency in which the film can be watched, as in whether it’s a film that can be seen again and again or only at certain times of the year.

As to Fridays, those days will focus on a favorite character of mine from the film be they hero, villain, or even comedic relief. Those reviews will follow the same trends as other character reviews depending again on the character in question but with the addition of just why I like that character the most in the film.

Is that all you can remember…?!

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THE NIGHTMARE

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Voiced By:
Bill Martin
Featured In: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

Now I’m sure a good many of you are confused as to my choice of number one villain in my top ten countdown. As I said previously, for those who’ve skipped those characters and went straight to this one, my final five came down to random chance and happenstance. Yet, I suppose it is rather ironic that The Nightmare should end up as my top choice in the end because of his premiere and sole film, Little Nemo in Slumberland, was the first non-Disney animated film I had ever seen as a child and has always held a special place in my heart.

To those who are unawares of just who Little Nemo is, allow me to shed some light on a character whom is entirely responsible for anything and everything that is animation as a whole. Little Nemo was a character of one Winsor McCay who penned, illustrated, and wrote a weekly Sunday comic strip that ran from 1905 to 1911 in the New York Herald, then from 1911 to 1914 for the New York American and returned again from 1924 to 1926. Each strip was, essentially, a very strange dream of Little Nemo’s that would always end with the boy waking up in his bed.

As to how Little Nemo is responsible for animation… well, who do you think was the first true animated cartoon character in history? Yes, it can be argued that Gertie the Dinosaur was the first true-inked cartoon but considering that Gertie was also a creation of Winsor McCay, that point is arguable at best.

In concerns to the film that features The Nightmare though, now there’s an interesting story to tell. A joint project between America and Japan, the film was, sadly, a box office bomb despite having a positive reception and something of a cult following in the years since its release. What made it truly interesting though is the people whom were involved in its creation. Some of the top names involved in contributing to the film include Ray Bradbury, Chris Columbus, and Moebius.

The first, an acclaimed author who penned The Halloween Tree and Fahrenheit 451, the second a film director famous for such works as the first two Harry Potter films and Gremlins, the last an artist of such renown that he is cited by the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and Stan Lee as direct inspiration for their own works. Last, but certainly not least, the music was done by the award winning Sherman Brothers, the same duo who created the iconic songs from such films as Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

Holy Sugar Honeyed Iced Tea…

Ahem, now that the “brief” history lesson is out of the way, onto The Nightmare, which is just one of many names and titles attributed to the entity responsible for the creation of nightmares and all that dwell within them. The Nightmare in the film is… hard to describe like any true nightmare really is. The Nightmare is described as a place, an individual, and even a horrific storm straight out of a… huh… A nightmare.

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The storm in question was one seen briefly as Little Nemo is on a dirigible flight towards Slumberland and though it looked like nothing more than a lightning storm, there was far more to the sudden change in weather than meets the eye. The biggest and sole clue of there being a malevolent force behind the storm is the pair of gleaming red lights shining out from its heart. Do any of you have any idea how terrifying a thought that is to a kid who grew up in Florida, the state where not a single building is without a lightning rod? I was already frightened of The Nightmare then and there but that was the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, the true Nightmare, at least as far as the most dire threat to both Little Nemo and the entirety of Slumberland, is the one known as the Nightmare King and was locked away deep in the heart of King Morpheus’ palace. He was unleashed back into the world by Little Nemo whom had been given a dragon-shaped key that would open any door in Slumberland to him and though he promised to never open the door bearing the key’s symbol upon its surface… Well, Little Nemo broke his word and The Nightmare was loose once more and boy was it a sight to behold!

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Appearing as nothing more than a sentient mass of slime and ooze intertwined into some sort of demonic miasma, The Nightmare was nothing short of disgusting and frightening to my child self when I first saw it. The Nightmare looked like black ooze that sparked with crimson veins of lightning as it made its way to the party held within the palace and straight for King Morpheus who was far and away from the one thing the Nightmare and all that dwelled within it feared most.

The Royal Scepter of Slumberland, a staff bedecked with a large sapphire blue pearl that, upon uttering the proper incantation, can unleash a blast the likes of which make a nuclear bomb look like a firecracker by comparison. No, I’m not exaggerating either, King Morpheus, upon naming Little Nemo as his heir to the throne (and unknowingly the prince consort to his daughter Camille) the King of Slumberland demonstrated the Royal Scepter’s danger to the young boy and the crowd of spectators by blowing up a freaking star!

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Moving on from The Nightmare of ooze and muck, there is the Nightmare King true and proper, an actual living entity that is conformed to the body of a goblin like creature standing over a hundred feet tall and bedecked in a robe of pure blackness.

Being the King of Nightmare Land, and likely its heart and soul as well, the Nightmare King holds dominion over all creatures that call the wicked place their home. These creatures include flying gremlins, water goblins, a massive demonic stingray that I think is more of a personal pet than anything else, and one surprisingly rebellious group of shape-shifting goblins known as the Boomps who don’t want to scare anyone but make them laugh instead.

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Though, as I said, the Nightmare King doesn’t hold any of his so-called subordinates in any true regard and is more than willing to wipe them out at the slightest provocation. He actually devoured his entire army of winged gremlins simply because of the chief gremlin lied about Little Nemo and the Scepter were both taken care of.

Between the three, I’d honestly say that The Nightmare ooze was the most frightening but dang if the Nightmare King isn’t a close second. He is cold and malicious liar willing and capable of torturing anyone who gets in his way and his voice… His voice actor is the same man who voiced Samhain, the Spirit of Halloween, in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and it shows with every uttered word he speaks! He sounds so delicious vile and condescending when he talks to Little Nemo, trying to convince him to hand over the Scepter so the boy can go him to his mother…

In the end, when the Nightmare King attempts to devour Little Nemo as he had his army by way of a powerful inhale to make Kirby green with envy, the lad manages to successfully recite the incantation for the Royal Scepter and it unleashes a blast straight into the Nightmare King’s heart. The resulting devastation was both amazing and unbelievable for while the Nightmare King himself was vaporized from the inside out, Nightmare Land as a whole was turned into a beautiful land of crystals, light, and… snow?

Yeah, not to sure about that last one but whatever! It might have been quick and over-the-top devastating but blast it all if it wasn’t a memorable exit for a villain, any villain, to take!

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With the wisdom of dragons…

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Universal’s “Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse


Directed By:
Colin Teague
Produced By: Raffaella De Laurentiis
Written By: Matthew Feitshans

Let me begin this film review by stating that I loved the first film, Dragonheart. Its star dragon, Draco, is one of my top ten favorite dragons of all time and though his rank may rise or fall as the years go by, he will never, not ever, lose a place in that tier. That being said, I cannot even begin to count how utterly dissatisfied I was at the attempt of a sequel entitled A New Beginning. There was so much silly involved and special effects that made me cringe that I harbored the thought that a sequel couldn’t possibly get any worse.

I was wrong.

Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse is yet another film that, for whatever reason, is to serve as a prequel to the original and rather than calling it as such it remains entitled as the next in line much like the Fast & Furious franchise has done. However, contrary to that spectacularly action packed series, this prequel is in almost no way, shape, or form connected to the previous two films. In point of fact, the only elements that connect it together with them is the sharing of a dragon’s heart with a human and the Old Code of Knighthood as recited by King Arthur of Camelot or apparently, according to this ridiculous film, dragons and a druid named Merlin.

Admittedly, it would not be the first time that dragons had taught something to humans in fiction or myth as it is a popular belief in Asia that it was dragons that created the written words and even some styles of martial arts. Still, for European dragons to have done such a thing and actually succeed at least in some infinitely small part… A bit of a stretch made longer by making Merlin a druid of all things…

But before I begin to harp on all that is wrong with this picture let me start with the few things that was done right. To start with, the dragon of our story and by God what a dragon! Seven million dollars was put towards creating the dragon and it shows every time he’s on screen in his full glory and even his cursed wraith form is an amazing sight to behold… When it’s not being inconsistent. For you see, dear readers, the design and yes even the voice of the dragon was all that was done spectacularly.

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Sadly, everything just goes so rapidly downhill from here on out.

Despite being a prequel, dragons are somehow completely gone from the world up until this dragon’s arrival via falling from the dragon’s Heaven. Now, when I read that summary, I thought, hey, maybe this dragon is one who committed some terrible sin in the afterlife and “fell” from grace or that something he had done in life was coming back to bite the humans down below and he was cast down to deal with it.

Nope.

None of those are the reasons the dragon falls from Heaven.

He falls because he has a clutch of eggs that he must see hatched to bring dragons back into the world. Eggs that aren’t even his own but that he’s, for whatever reason, supposed to be a “guardian” of.

Alright… Point of order: If dragons are dead and in heaven how can they possibly breed? If dragons can still breed, why on Earth would they send their eggs back down to Earth, the one place that they shouldn’t be sending their young to grow up in? Why would some random dragon be selected to guard over them rather than the actual parents, what makes that dragon more qualified than them?

So many questions and no answers to be found as things only get stupider from here!

The “knight” of our story, and I use that term loosely even at the very end of the film, is a young man named Gareth whose former servitude as squire to a local corrupt lord was brought to an abrupt end via him showing something of a conscience… On that note, why is it that every film that takes place in the past is filled with corrupt nobility? Can’t there ever be one where the nobility is actually good and that it’s perhaps someone amongst the peasantry that’s stirring up trouble for all parties?

But I digress, given the ultimatum of finding enough gold to make up for the quantity he refused to take from the peasants, Gareth goes over the “Great Wall of Britain” to try and mine the meteor containing the dragon in hopes of finding gold. Now, before anyone asks, there was something of a “Great Wall of Britain” insomuch that this wall in question is based on Hadrian’s Wall, which was constructed in the year 122.

Anyway, Gareth goes to meteor, wakes up the dragon within who promptly terrifies him before the beast decides the attacking Scotts are of greater concern, leaving Gareth alone with the eggs. Here’s where things get a bit weird. A small group of Scotts manage to sneak by the dragon and, upon sighting Gareth, promptly shoot him with an arrow before turning tail and running while another separate pair make for the eggs.

… Why? They literally had him outnumbered seven to one and all but two of them run away? One gets cut down by Gareth but the other makes off with an eggs, attracting the dragon’s attention who promptly smacks the thief aside with his tail. Seeing the egg flying through the air, Gareth leaps for it and manages to catch it in his arms. The Scotts either dead or fleeing, the dragon takes the egg from Gareth and upon seeing his mortal wound, shares his heart with him.

That sound you hear is the scratching of a record coming to an abrupt and painful halt.

For you see dear readers, it is later that we learn that the dragon’s reasoning for sharing his heart with Gareth is because of the boy’s kindness in saving the egg. An egg whose shell is made of gold and what the boy needs to buy his knighthood.

Let’s look back at the previous films shall we? Draco shares his heart with a dying prince in the hope of rekindling the relationship between man and dragon and because he knew the boy’s mother since she had been born. He had the boy swear on blade and blood to come to him and the learn the Old Ways and upon sharing his heart uttered the words, “Half my heart to make you whole. Its strength to purify your weakness. Live, and remember your oath.” In the sequel, though Draco’s son, Drake, gave his heart to his friend, Geoff, a boy who taught him the true meaning of valor and of honor.

This dragon does it because the man in question caught an egg that the boy had every intention of buying his knighthood with.

That’s… That’s like giving your kidney to somebody who managed to catch your falling wallet and return it to you only to make off with the money inside it! Oh, but it gets better or worse depending on your perspective on things. See, the dragon didn’t speak earlier not because he didn’t want to but because he couldn’t up until he shared his heart with Gareth and found words in his mouth.

… What.

I just… Didn’t anyone watch the first film and its sequel?

The “Sorcerer’s Curse” in the title finally comes into play when said sorcerer shows up and inflicts a curse upon the dragon that goes: “Shade by day, bright by night, to do my will in full moon’s light!”

… Now… Now, I’m not one to say what can and cannot be done with magic. There are so many varieties of ways that I’ve seen magic implemented from age-old wand waving with Latin incantations to enchanted bullets capable of summoning forces of nature and destruction. Yet, if there’s one thing that I personally cannot stand it is the lack of imagination when it comes to implementing magic and its costs/usage. Never mind the childish bit of rhyming with the curse, because that too has been done many a time before, but how utterly specific it is and how that’s all that it takes for it to work on the dragon that irks me.

True, the sorcerer’s “wand” is in hand, and by wand I mean a small curved dagger, but even so a spell of that magnitude, able to actually work so easily on a dragon of all creatures, should not be so easily done without some serious preparation beforehand and costs afterward. Heck, that’s one of the freaking plotlines in this convoluted movie that magic cannot be done without a serious drain on the magic user’s life and this guy casts it multiple times on the dragon, but more on that later, I’ve got two more issues to speak of.

The dragon’s name, contrary to Drake who was named by humans, and Draco who never had a chance to pronounce it in his film this dragon does have the chance with the quip that it is something that he’s called “back home.” … Again, did he fall from Heaven or some hidden planet circulating our own? Anyway, his name is, and I quote, “Hissyoxyillammochogannotoss.”

I’ll give them credit on making the names of World of Warcraft characters seem tame by comparison. Still, the idiot boy Gareth wants for something simpler than that and says because Hissyoxyillammochogannotoss is a dragon, why not call him Drago.

I nearly broke the wall of my house from how hard I started banging against it, especially when the dragon agrees that it’ll do.

Couldn’t call him Hissy or even Oxyilla, or perhaps even Gannatoss, oh no… We get to call him Drago the Dragon!

Just… Just WHY?

Seeing as I’m reaching epic length with this film review, I’ll sum up the only final straw that makes this movie so unbelievably stupid despite how utterly marvelous the dragon is. The whole point of Drago being in this film is to ensure that the dragons return back into the world via the nine eggs he’s brought with him. Do you know, of those nine, how many actually survive until the end?

One.

Questionably two but most definitely one.

How did he botch up the one job he had? Well aside from getting himself cursed, sharing his heart with the thief attempting to make off with one of the eggs, allying himself with a rule 63 version of Braveheart’s titular character and a bumbling druid dressed like a monk… The eggs explode and no, not like those in How to Train Your Dragon. Apparently, dragon eggs have a penchant for being unable to control their fire in the shell and will literally explode with all the force of a freaking hand grenade with right provocation, like being dropped.

I could forgive some of these losses as the bad guys were chasing them all over the place but two of the eggs were purposefully sacrificed for no good reason. The first egg was lost as a means of distracting the sorcerer and attempting to end his threat right then and there. I would of course hate on the humans who thought that this was the right thing to do if it weren’t for Drago suggesting it in the first place! He literally says, “That not all can survive this journey, sacrifice what you must.

He’s the eggs’ guardian! Out of the entire group, he should be fighting tooth, claw, and fiery breath for their survival but he shrugs off their deaths as collateral in a war that he could have taken care of in an instant! For you see, prior to this “sacrifice,” Drago was able to regain his full form in the sunlight despite the sorcerer’s curse turning him into a shade and rather than blasting the man outright, he actually wastes his time shouting, “Look! I’m back!”

I… I just… What?! Seriously?! Right when it looks like the curse might be broken and you have the chance to rid yourself of the inflictor of said curse you not only waste your breath stating something so undeniably stupid but you don’t even make an attempt at launching some fire?!

AUGH!

As to the second purposefully sacrificed egg, the rule 63 Braveheart girl, Rhonu, is somehow mortally injured by the sorcerer, though we never once see him or anyone else landing so much as a scratch on her, and Drago wordlessly hands one of the last two eggs to Gareth who holds it up to Rhonu’s chest. One brief lightshow later, she’s alive, hallelujah! Congratulations! Either the dragon in the egg somehow, impossibly, shared a heart that likely wasn’t even formed yet or it gave up its own life so that she may live!

This… This movie is just… I was happy to hear of it! I was ecstatic when I saw whom they got to voice Drago though I was loathed to liking the name! Upon actually seeing Drago in the film itself, I was cheering for how marvelous a job they did on him, using a degree of special effects that I’ve never seen on a straight-to-DVD film before and likely won’t ever again. Yet… all of that… all of that does not forgive the transgressions of this film. It’s not the absolute worst film I’ve ever seen, it doesn’t even qualify in the top five, but for a film that’s supposed to be connected to others, one of which was fantastic and the other a simple but humble good, this… This is just sad.

1 out of 5 stars for the film.

10 out of 5 stars for the special effects in concern to Drago.

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Wherever there is hope, there is most definitely despair…

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JUNKO ENOSHIMA


Titles:
Ultimate Fashionista (False), Ultimate Despair (True)
Alternate Identity: Ryoko Otonashi the Ultimate Analyst
Creator/Controller of:
Monokuma
Family:
Mukuro Ikusaba the Ultimate Soldier (Older Twin Sister)
Birthdate:
December 24th
Voiced By: Amanda C. Miller & Erin Fitzgerald
Featured In: Danganronpa

Before I can speak of Junko Enoshima, I must first speak of her source material, the increasingly popular game series summarily summed up by its title of Danganronpa. Premiering in 2010 as a game for the portable Playstation systems, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is, quite literally, what results when one combines the likes of such films as Saw or The Cube (both having been cited as inspirations by the series’ creator) and games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and placing said result in a high school setting.

The first game proved to be so popular that, as of the time of this post, there are a total of eight games including the upcoming third in the main series, four light novels, one anime series, and fourteen manga adaptations.

For a game that features fluorescent pink blood as a means of lowering the rating and grotesqueness of the game that’s rather impressive to say the least. Especially when one considers how little the pinkness helps given the murders and the executions of the murderers are unbelievably horrific at times.

Anyway, onto the school itself, it is known as Hope’s Peak Academy and is a premiere school/scientific institution. The students do not apply but are invited to attend instead and that most of these students are all the “Ultimate” of their respected talents and fields. Save for one, an “Ultimate Luck” student whose name is drawn from a lottery to attend the school. The purpose of Hope’s Peak Academy was not only for the benefit of these “Ultimate” students but for the scientists who also served as the teachers to study and analyze the talents that made these students so, even the one drawn by lottery.

Unfortunately for Hope’s Peak, the girl that they believed to be the Ultimate Fashionista was something of a façade. Oh yes, Junko Enoshima’s talents as a fashionista were great enough that even the students who had no interest in such things had heard of her modeling career but such was not where her talents truly lied. Junko Enoshima is the Ultimate Despair and by God does she live up to it in spades.

Born shortly after her fraternal sister Mukoro Ikusaba, whose different last name is never definitively explained though several speculations have arisen from the fans, Junko’s childhood was… questionable at best. She and her sister grew up in poor conditions and by Junko’s own admittance, she felt that her birth was a mistake and always regretted the fact that she had been born at all. Despite this, she and her sister had something of a childhood friend in one Yasuke Matsuda who himself would eventually grow up to be the Ultimate Neurologist to Mukoro’s Ultimate Soldier.

It was in their shared childhood that Junko’s true self was revealed when she spent a whole day in tears over a sand church she had been working so hard on being destroyed. Yasuke tried to find the culprit to punish them for it only to have a brightly smiling Junko approach him the next day to reveal that she was the true culprit and that it had been an accident on her part.

In that moment… perhaps even before then… the seed of Despair began to grow and its ensnaring vines would quickly start to spread. For even as a child and a young teenager, Junko was surprisingly charismatic, able to attract and motivate entire crowds of people with disturbing ease, particularly any and all individuals who had even a minute piece of despair in their hearts.

Following her first year or so at Hope’s Peak Academy, Junko conceived a plan to bring about the Ultimate Despair both in her heart and the hearts of people across the world over and it would all culminate in force in her very own classroom.

Though I am as yet unsure of how she motivated him to do so, Junko managed to motivate Yasuke into creating a unique concoction that could wipe out a person’s memories to an incredibly finite degree. An example of this would be an individual still remembering a brawl that they had taken part in but not remembering those whom fought on their side and instead believing that they had fought and won on their own merit.

To test this, Junko was the first subject and the result was the made up persona of Ryoko Otonashi. It is here that Yasuke actually attempted to further aid Junko in the sense of feeding her false information through “her” diary and thus ensure that the created personality might in fact become the permanent one and that Junko would be forgotten. Unfortunately, this plan ultimately backfired as Ryoko remembered everything that is Junko and became so enraptured in despair that she not only killed Yasuke by stabbing him in the stomach but proceeded to beat his body to an unrecognizable mess.

As to Junko’s sister, she joined in her sister’s plans simply for the fact that she loved her sister and if her sister could only experience happiness by way of bringing despair on others, herself included, than Mukoro would do so gladly. Ultimately, she would share in Yasuke’s fate for though Junko had assured her that she would survive what she had planned, Mukoro was the first to be slain in Junko’s grandmaster plan to bring about the Ultimate Despair.

The Classroom of Mutual Killing…

There was so much done to achieve this that I can’t even begin to describe the near absurdity of it all. To start with, prior to killing Hope’s Peak Academy’s principal, and father to one of her fellow classmates, Junko unleashed the entirety of her forces, which consisted entirely of people whom either adored her to the same degree as her sister or were of a similar mindset, upon the world. This event was known simply as The Tragedy and was, in essence, a terroristic mass of chaos that spanned the entirety of the globe where no country great or small was spared from its insidious touch.

In the confusion that followed, Junko had her principal killed, retrofitted most of the Academy into a giant death trap littered with outrageous means of executing people in incredibly over the top fashions, created an entire army of robotic teddy bears to serve as the “antagonist” to her kidnapped and drugged classmates. Classmates whom she was been friends with for two years and whose memories of her and of each other she had wiped clean.

She did this because there was a strong possibility, as proven in one of the official light novels that showed such a scenario taking place, that if even a single one of them remembered the connections they all shared, none of them could be goaded into murder.

And that’s precisely what Junko wanted the whole world to see.

She gave them this alternative: to kill their fellow classmates or remain trapped within the school forever and it was Mukuro acting in her role of defiance that Junko killed her directly to make an example to her classmates and to ensure that no one would suspect her as being the mastermind behind the Monokuma that claimed itself as the new principal of Hope’s Peak Academy. Once a student was killed, a class trial would be held and if the guilty party was correctly found, then that blackened soul would be summarily executed and the rest of the students would survive for a few days more before the game would resume. If chosen incorrectly, then the guilty student would be allowed to live whilst all the rest would share in their execution.

Sixteen students, all teenagers of unique skills and merits, were coerced into Junko’s game.

Six of them walked out of the Academy alive.

Junko… was not one of them.

In the final act of her twisted game, Junko revealed herself and her motives to the remaining students. She then began a debate between the abstract thoughts of “despair” and of “hope,” and made it so that if the choice for “despair” was made then all the students but the protagonist Makoto Naegi would live out the rest of their days within Hope’s Peak Academy. If they chose “hope” however, they would not only be let free but it would be Junko herself who would endure the execution intended for Makoto.

When the others were inspired by Makoto to choose hope instead of despair, Junko was livid.

For all of a single moment in time…

For you see dear readers, much as she would say or act otherwise prior to this moment, Junko never truly felt despair, at least not to the ultimate degree as she had in that moment. A second’s passing was all it took for Junko to become perversely enraptured by her own feelings of ultimate despair and underwent the executions with a shining smile on her face all the while.

And yet… Junko Enoshima’s story was far from over…

Oh yes, there is far more to tell of Junko then what transpired in the first game and its prequel light novel, dear readers, but as this review has already reached epic lengths as it is, allow me to summarize my thoughts and opinions of one of the greatest villains I’ve ever seen.

By all accounts, I should hate Junko Enoshima. Loathe her with every fiber of my being, do celebratory backflips upon her befitting demise, and even curse her name as a foul oath worse than the Devil’s own name.

Yet…

For whatever reason, I actually like her. I don’t even know why I do. I mean, it could because I pity her for the life that she had that led her into growing up into becoming the Ultimate Despair, something that has been proven to severely alter her ideals towards the good side if forgotten. It could be because much as I try not to, I can’t help but snicker or smile at her maniacal antics, a morbidly black sense of comedy that not even the Joker in his prime could get from me in my innocent youth never mind my cynically mature self of today. No matter what, in the end of it all, Junko Enoshima is one of the greatest villains I’ve ever seen bar none and the sole reason she remains in second place is because… Well…

She lost the coin toss to number one.

Hardly fair I know but given how Junko tends to play her games, I found it strangely fitting.

Somehow, I’m sure that she’d almost be happy about it too…

I will have blood for blood!

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DEMONA


AKA:
Angel of the Night, Dominique Destine
Born: Castle Wyvern, Scotland 938
Species:
Gargoyle (Twice Cursed)
Voiced By: Marina Sirtis
Featured In: Disney’s Gargoyles (1994-1997)

Born in the ancient past when superstition and the sword ruled, it was a time of darkness, a world of fear… it was the age of gargoyles, Demona is a twice-cursed member of this unique species of creatures featured in Disney’s Gargoyles. Gargoyles, as we come to learn throughout the series, are a race of creatures that turn to stone under the light of the sun and come to life upon its fall. Features amongst gargoyles vary amongst the many clans littered across the world but if there’s one common ground amongst them is the instilled urge to protect.

Save for Demona, the one true exception to the rule and yet one its greatest shining examples in her own twisted and cruel way. When she was young and a not yet cursed gargoyle, Demona was under the tutelage of the Archmage, a magic-user whose thirst for power and conquest would eventually lead to his downfall twice over. Originally it was because Demona expressed an interest in learning magic and does indeed possess the gift for it but the only thing she truly learned from the Archmage was the ability to read human languages, a skill that she would also pass onto her then-lover at the time Goliath.

It wasn’t until the Archmage bade her to try and steal the Phoenix Gate, a magical talisman that could allow one to traverse the streams of time itself with complete impunity, that her path towards darkness began, ironically by her own future self. Seeking a means of altering the events of the present (that is to say 1994 and onwards), Demona went to the past and tried to convince her younger self to use the Phoenix Gate to try and destroy the humans and avert the massacre that was to come at Castle Wyvern, and even went so far as to show her the remains and the then frozen in stone Goliath.

The younger Demona was not only appalled by what she had seen become of her family but of her own self and vowed to never turn into her future self and even outright attacked her. However, much as she wished otherwise, the vision of the future would not leave her and she steadily grew more and more resentful of the humans and their treatment of her kind until, ultimately, the future she saw came to pass again by her own claws.

For the one thing that the future Demona did not instill upon her younger self was that it was her own plan to try and rid Castle Wyvern of the humans that would lead to the massacre of her clan and the curse of stone sleep placed upon her beloved Goliath. Her own hatred of humanity blinded her to the fact that it was her actions that lead to the deaths of her family and was sadly not limited to Castle Wyvern. For in an act of petty thievery, Demona had scarred a young boy so horribly that he would eventually grow to become the Hunter, a man who would eventually pave the way for the genocide of the gargoyle race by he and other like-minded individuals.

Demona would eventually enter into an allegiance with a young monarch by name of Macbeth and yes, the self same Macbeth of actual history. In point of fact, the only true difference between history and the animated series is the involvement of Demona and a few other odd examples of magic. For you see, it was in the year 1040 that Demona received her first curse at the hands of the Weird Sisters, triplet daughters of King Oberon and Queen Titania of the Third Race otherwise more commonly known as the Fae Folk. Having their own agenda and plans for Macbeth and Demona, made unto the two of them a pact of sorts.

Their ages reversed so that Demona was once more in her prime and Macbeth a man in his early fifties, which in itself is not that surprising as gargoyles age significantly slower than humans, but one other “boon” had been granted to the two of them for good or for ill. Both were made immortal to Time and to Death, neither capable of being killed save by the hands of the other. To put it simply, they now shared each other’s very soul and, if they were close enough to each other, would feel each other’s pain but only by directly killing one could the other die. Completely unknowing of this at the time, Demona and Macbeth entered into a true alliance with each other and a new golden age of gargoyles and humans began.

For a time…

In another tragic twist of fate, it was Demona’s own actions that would lead to the death of her newly founded clan of gargoyles and earn her the wrath and hatred of Macbeth for the centuries to come. Eavesdropping on the king in council with one of his men, Demona incorrectly believed that Macbeth intended to betray her and her kind in the face of an approaching war with the English and so abandoned him and his people when he needed her most only for her own kind to be slain in their sleep yet again.

It was rather sad as she and Macbeth were quite close, or as close as Demona allowed herself to be with a human. Heck, it was because of Macbeth that she even got the name of “Demona” in the first place as it was gargoyle tradition (for those of the Scottish lands at least) to not have names as what better name could there be beside friend or family?

In the time between then and the awakening of Goliath and the other survivors of the massacre, Demona’s actions remain a mystery though one can make a few strong guesses as to what she was doing. In the centuries that follow, Demona more than likely increased her aptitude for magic and even allowed herself to follow mankind’s advancement in technology and becoming quite proficient in it herself though nowhere near to the same degree as she had with magic despite its afflictions upon her.

It was around this time that Demona would earn her second curse by way of the faerie known simply as Puck whom she had successfully managed to not only summon through Titania’s Mirror but actually capture and thus enslave to do her bidding. Of course, being one of the fae folk, “enslaved” is a term loosely followed and obeyed as he managed to distract Demona from her original desire to not be stone during the day. Of course, her command to destroy the human Elisa Maza was followed to the letter by turning Elisa Maza into a gargoyle.

Positively elated and completely oblivious to the fact that Puck was stressing the fact that the human Elisa was no more she bade him to do the same to all the humans in Manhattan. What followed was a series of events that, frankly, was equal parts surreal. Tired of the days’ events and of Puck himself despite his own elation at the fun he had and the desire to grant unto her a boon for it, Demona bade him to leave.

That… oh, that was a mistake… Let it be known right here and now ladies and gentlemen, if an ageless being, no matter if it be god or faerie, offers you a gift, you accept it in the most humblest of ways possible. Insulted as he was, Demona was lucky that Puck still granted her desire to not be turned to stone during the day but was horrified to discover the cause as to why. For you see, rather than remain as a gargoyle under the rays of the sun, Demona was instead made to become a human herself.

“A Hell of her own making” is far too accurate a term.

As to Demona’s greatest crime, it was without a doubt when she managed to cast a spell that turned humans to stone during the night and when she callously began murdering people at her leisure. People that were literally frozen in mid-step, arm and arm with their family, their friends, and she killed them without a second’s hesitation, blasting them, smashing them, and outright tearing them apart. Though no statistics were given, it can be assumed that the numbers come close to approaching the triple digit range considering how long the curse lasted…

Overall, Demona is considered one of my all time favorite villains because she, like so many others, has been given the chance at redemption so many times and only because of a slight twist of fate does she remain a villain still. More to the point, if the likes of Darth Vader represents fury in all its obsidian glory than it is Demona who emphasizes betrayal be it by her own hands or that of another. Demona is often a traitor and is just as often betrayed in kind that if events were to truly play out as described by series creator Greg Weisman, Demona would eventually receive an epiphany that could very well break her mentally and physically in the far future in the, unfortunately unproduced, series Gargoyles 2198.

I find your lack of faith disturbing…

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DARTH VADER


Real Name:
Anakin Skywalker
Positions: Sith Lord, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet
Birthplace:
Tatooine
Species:
Human
Voiced By: James Earl Jones
Featured In:

Star Wars Episodes IV, V, VI (Canon Films)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I & II (“Legend” Video Game)
Star Wars: Infinity (Alternate Universe Comic Books)

Now, before I get started on this review let me make one thing perfectly clear. If it weren’t already obvious by this point I am in point of fact, a nerd. However, I am more of a fantasy buff, particularly when it comes to dragons, and while I know a fair share of information in regards to Darth Vader as seen from the original trilogy as well as the hit games Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I & II but nothing more beyond that. Yes, I’ve seen the prequels and I’ve managed to catch a fair share of the animated series but those pertain strictly to Anakin Skywalker and not Darth Vader himself, who can be argued as being an entirely different person from Anakin in the long run.

Heck, I recall a particular episode of the Clone Wars wherein Anakin foresees what he’ll become and vows to never do so only to succumb to the Dark Side then and there as a means of stopping that possible future from occurring. Of course, his memory of the future and his brief fall were wiped from his mind but the fact remains that Anakin is an entirely different individual from Darth Vader as the former sought to incapacitate his master and padawan whereas Darth Vader would have seen them killed by his own hands.

I should also mention to those that might not be aware, due to the recent acquisition of the Star Wars franchise by Disney and the beginning of the next trilogy of films, there has been a massive upheaval in what is and is not considered canon at this point in time. As of this post, everything and anything that was made prior to the acquisition is no longer canon, which includes the multitude of books, comics, and even video games.

This makes some bit of sense as a good many of said materials take place in the future that the upcoming trilogy may end up retconning by accident or intentionally. However, there was one game in particularly that I not only enjoyed playing but was a huge source of backstory for the Rebel Alliance, particularly the source of their insignia, that I cannot, and will not, ignore in my review of Darth Vader. That being said, let’s get this review started properly shall we…?

Darth Vader is one, if not the absolute, greatest film villains of all time bar none. There is hardly a person alive who has not at the very least heard of the name and the infamous breathing sound accompanying his presence. His long list of crimes against life, never mind the galaxy that he calls home, is so long that it could likely cover an entire sheathes worth of paper ten times over and that’s from before the canon debacle mind you. If I were to count the major ones however…

Well, one could argue that prior to his full transformation into Darth Vader, infamous helmet and all, it would be his murdering of innocent younglings – children— of the Jedi Order because of his succumbing fully to the Dark Side of the Force and believing Emperor Palpatine could ensure that his visions of his wife Padme’s death would never come to pass. Ironically, it was this action and his attacking her himself that would lead to Padme dying from a broken heart.

Which I call complete and utter BS on considering we’re talking about a society where robotic prosthetics were all over the bloody place and one could special order an army of freaking clone soldiers. That and I’m sorry but she didn’t have the heart to live? Not even for her two children whom she had just given birth to and could only bring herself to live long enough to name them?! PLEASE!

… Sorry. That and a few other… moments… in the prequels still irk me to this day… Where was I? Ah yes…

As Darth Vader proper however, I believe that the greatest crime that Darth Vader committed was the destruction of Alderaan. True, it can be argued that he did not make the decision himself but it was well within his power to stop it seeing as he is the Emperor’s Right Hand as it were. It should also be mentioned that Alderaan, at its prime, was considered as the Heart of the Republic and, at the time of its destruction, had roughly two billion people living on it.

In a single instant, Darth Vader was responsible for the death of two billion people. No one mortal man, not one in fiction or fact, can make this claim.

Then there’s the whole affair with one Galen Marek, Darth Vader’s “secret apprentice” as he is often called despite his much more awesome call-sign of Starkiller. Having discovered the young boy when he was hunting for Jedi when who had survived Order 66, Darth Vader was surprised by the boy’s skill with the Force, as it was powerful enough to actually steal Darth Vader’s lightsaber straight from the man’s own hands, and so took him on as an apprentice. He even went so far as to kill his own people to ensure the boy’s safety and secrecy from the Emperor. A boy who would eventually grow to be so powerful that he could literally rip Star Destroyers straight out of the sky and still had a difficult time besting his master.

There’s not enough Holy Sugar Honey Iced Tea in the entire galaxy for how utterly terrifying that thought is.

Yet… there is one particular aspect to Darth Vader’s character that is almost as prominent as his evil and his power. His redemption. It was his love for his wife and fear of her death that drove Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force but it was those same emotions in regards to his children that would actually save him in the very end. Though I’m loath to say that it forgives him for all the crimes he committed willingly and at times gladly in service of the Empire.

Heck, in a particularly interesting mini-series of comics that takes place in the original trilogy of films, the ways that Darth Vader is redeemed is taken to the extreme. A word of warning before I proceed though, there will be SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’d rather not have this occur then I suggest you skip down to the absolute last paragraph for the wrap-up.

This series, called Star Wars Infinities, each consider an interesting key moment in the series occurring differently. In the case of Episode IV, what if Luke failed to destroy the Death Star? That story lead to Leia not only being captured but being turned into a Sith by Darth Vader himself but upon the revelation that he had done so to his own daughter, torturing her both physically and mentally, redeemed him at the end as he fought against the Emperor long enough for Yoda to come crashing in via the Death Star.

No joke. Seriously, look up those issues, it was amazing in so many ways.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there, oh no. For the following Episode V, the key moment that’s changed is Luke actually dying on Hoth and, as a result, Leia ends up becoming a Jedi herself. What makes it rather distressing is that Darth Vader, despite hearing rumors of Luke’s death on Hoth refuses to accept it being true as he senses Leia’s growing prowess with the Force and thus mistakes her familiar presence for Luke and so grows more and more determined to find Luke, going so far as to wipe out Cloud City in the process. I don’t know whether it was the art style or not but I really like Leia’s Jedi outfit and her far more sensible hairstyle as well.

Seriously, this what-if comic made me almost wish that it had been canon because, as good a Jedi as Luke is, Leia was honestly much better at it for how short a time she had being one.

As to the Episode VI the what-if changes comes two-fold. First and foremost due to Jabba’s rough handling of him, C-3PO literally loses his head and thus the confrontation with a disguised Leia goes south so unbelievably quick it’s downright scary. The second part is Han Solo becoming blind due to an errant blaster bolt striking him while he was still otherwise “on ice.” During the infamous confrontation on the Death Star II, Leia is present and the revelation of her and Luke’s relation in made clear to Vader who though he fights Luke, cannot bring himself to harm either of his children.

What makes this a particularly interesting alteration though is that due to the Death Star II coming apart at the seams via an attack by the Rebels, Palpatine makes for a secret escape and though Darth Vader lies injured and alive, it is Leia who insists on taking the time to save him not Luke. True, the boy might have said something to that affect but considering Leia, of all people, beat him to the punch… This altered Episode ends though in a spectacularly out-of-left-field way in that Darth Vader not only survives, along with the Emperor, but he actually joins with the Rebels and still retains his awesome armor now redone in a shining white.

Y’know, say what you will of that idea die-hard fans but the idea of a literal “white knight” Vader… yeah, okay, that’s a little too much all considering but dang if that wouldn’t be an awesome fight of good versus evil right there…

All in all, Darth Vader is my fourth favorite villain because… well, to be honest, because he and numbers three, two, and yes, even one, are all virtually tied with one another for one reason or another as all four are dictionary definitions of villainy at its absolute worst to varying degrees from frightening vile to horrifically cruel. Darth Vader earns his place at number four not because he falls lesser than the remaining three but because… Well, to be honest, it is a tongue-in-cheek nod towards his premiere film in the Star Wars original trilogy and nothing less than that.

 

 

My name is Legion, for we are many…

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LEGION


Height: 140 Meters
Length:
160 Meters
Weight:
600 Tons
Featured In:
Gamera 2: Advent of Legion

There have been many daikaiju –giant monsters— throughout Japan’s long history of film be they simple one-shot villains from a televised series or those who are fortunate enough to star on the silver screen. While I have not seen every film, I have seen virtually all of the Godzilla and Gamera films to date bar one or two exceptionally rare examples from both series. While it is true that Godzilla has featured many a vicious and otherwise otherworldly foe hell bent on destruction, most of those monsters are those either controlled or purposefully created as a weapon.

In the case of Gamera and his adversaries, most of his foes are monsters that are purposefully geared towards the destruction of mankind itself, the Gyaos being the most prominent example of this. However, there was one foe in particular that Gamera faced that unlike any other foe he, or even Godzilla, had faced before was not bent towards destruction of Earth and its people. Instead, this monster’s sole purpose was the continuing spread of its species throughout the entire galaxy.

Given the name of Legion by a lone soldier who noted how tightly the swarm of drones worked together to combat against Gamera despite being all of three meters tall to his eighty, the Legion are one of the most unique alien life-forms I’ve ever seen in fiction bar none. Possessing a body structure made up of silicon, the Legion’s bodies are virtually hollow and possess no muscular structure and actually move their bodies via a unique form of gaseous pressure systems. They communicate with each other through electromagnetic waves and are drawn to large cities because of this as they see electromagnetic devices, such as radios or cellphones, as an enemy hive seeking to interfere with their communications and will stop at nothing to destroy it even if it means their deaths in the process.

What make the Legion especially dangerous however are their digestive processes of eating/creating silicon that, in turn, creates massive amounts of oxygen in the air. The Legion does this because they share a symbiotic relationship with a species of plant that has the most destructive form of reproduction bar none. Though given no official name in the film, I’ve come to call these plants as Supernova because they spread their one solitary seedpod, which in turn carries a limited number of actual seedlings and an egg of a Queen Legion, into space via self-destructing.

The resulting fireball, which had been shown only once in the film via Gamera’s failure to stop the explosion but prevent the seed itself from escaping the atmosphere by blocking its path with his own body, leveled the city of Sendai, a city that according to Wikipedia has an area of about 304.28 square miles. This would mean that the resulting explosion would have to have at least 112 megatons of force.

Gamera 2 - Attack of Legion (1996) (SRT)_Mar 23, 2015, 11.17.30 AM

The Legion themselves breed incredibly quickly thanks to its solitary Queen who gives birth to over a hundred of them a day via a massive ovary chamber on her abdomen. While the smaller drones can be dealt with by small weapons fire, as one was easily dispatched via a handgun to its softer joints and thus making it lose its internal gases and die, the Queen has far more durable armor and a range of abilities that border on the obscene.

To start with, the Queen posses a nasal horn that whence combined with the smaller legs around its upper torso can create an electromagnetic field capable of withstanding Gamera’s fireballs. Fireballs that, being made of plasma, have a temperature range of around 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Just so you all know, that’s hotter than the surface of the freaking sun.

The Queen Legion’s nasal horn can also be used to create a burst of focused microwaves capable of puncturing through Gamera’s shell and give a resulting explosion capable of wiping out an entire battalion line of tanks with but a few blasts. This usage also results in the nasal horn being extremely hot, easily burning Gamera’s hands when he managed to tear the thing off the Queen Legion’s face.

Unfortunately, this made the Queen Legion not only furious, but far stronger as a result. Without the limitations of the nasal horn, the Queen Legion is able to utilize a small series of tendrils that can be superheated to such extreme temperatures that they rival that of Gamera’s own fiery breath, easily piercing and slicing through anything in their path.

Gamera 2 - Attack of Legion (1996) (SRT)_Mar 23, 2015, 11.21.12 AM

There is no argument that while the Legion drones are dumb as bricks, easily being fooled into attacking an electrical facility rather than obeying their Queen’s orders to combat Gamera, the Queen herself is extremely intelligent. With the failure of the first Supernova seed’s launch and her drones inability to destroy the interloper Gamera, the Queen personally stopped Gamera from interfering with the second one but failed to realize his own “never say die” attitude when he sacrificed himself to prevent the seed’s launch into space but not the resulting explosion. Taking matters into her own claws, the Queen personally led the charge to the next site for the seedling’s plantation, intending to guard and protect it herself until its time to launch was at hand.

Gamera 2 - Attack of Legion (1996) (SRT)_Mar 23, 2015, 11.20.50 AM

In the end, it took Gamera absorbing the mana fields, the energies of the Earth itself, to convert his own internal plasma furnace into a freaking cannon that completely obliterated the Queen Legion. Of course, whether or not Gamera would have done this prior to the breaking/loss of his connection to humanity remains unclear as the resulting loss of mana in the atmosphere of the Earth would soon result in a massive outbreak of the Gyaos across the entire planet…

There have been many alien life forms in fiction that have invaded Earth for insidious and outright villainous purposes but none to the degree of the Legion. These creatures are not seeking domination or even the destruction of other species but the continual spread of their own across the vastness of space, regardless of the destruction and death that their spread leaves on entire worlds.

For science…

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GLaDOS


Full Title:
Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System
Property/Overseer of:
Aperture Science Enrichment Center
Personality Derived From:
Caroline
Activated: April 23, 1998
Featured In:
Portal 1 & 2
Voiced By: Ellen McLain

It has been a longstanding belief that one of the most likely causes of mankind’s Armageddon is through a war with robotic lifeforms and/or from artificial intelligences that question both their existence and our own upon this planet. Ironic though it might be, it was a professor of biochemistry and novelist, Isaac Asimov, who coined the popular “Three Laws of Robotics” which states:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

However, there are actual laws currently in place towards robotics and even artificial intelligences as crafted by two distinctive councils hailing from Great Britain. The Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC) and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have together published initially a set of five principles in 2011 with an additional sixth added in 2013 that states:

  1. Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans.
  2. Humans, not robots, are responsible agents. Robots are tools designed to achieve human goals.
  3. Robots should be designed in ways that assure their safety and security.
  4. Robots are artifacts; they should not be designed to exploit vulnerable users by evoking an emotional response or dependency. It should always be possible to tell a robot from a human.
  5. It should always be possible to find out who is legally responsible for a robot.
  6. All robots endowed with comparable human reason and conscience should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Looking at them now… I’m so sure that Rule Two isn’t going to come back and bite us all in the behinds never mind that last one…

Anyway, on to my main point, the thing about villains of a robotic design or persuasion is that they are, oftentimes, more human than the respected heroes trying to combat against them. In the case of GLaDOS, that’s disturbingly accurate as it is quite likely that she, and several other personality cores found in both Portal games, were derived from real living people. And by derived I mean likely having their minds plugged into the hardware via disgusting examples of science at its worst.

The place that created her, Aperture Science, is a company found by one Cave Johnson with the sole purpose of creating shower curtains. Yeah, no joke, the place was originally called Aperture Fixtures before being renamed and relocated in 1947 and their focus went straight to creating scientific devices and contraptions that landed them second in the running for highest military contractor in the early 1950’s. However… due either to Cave’s eccentricities, or the severe lack of human ethics he and his scientists portrayed to test subjects, money became a huge issue and Aperture Science changed its test subjects from highly paid and highly sought after war heroes and Olympians to forcibly making the low ranked employees participate.

It didn’t help that due to the testing of moon rocks for the use of a portal device, Cave Johnson became so terminally ill that he ordered that his chief assistant, a Miss Caroline, be made in charge of the facility, including having her consciousness be placed in the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System.

Whether she wanted to or not.

Despite GLaDOS showing clear signs of vicious and outright murderous behaviors in initial start up tests, she was fully activated and granted near complete access to the entirety of the Enrichment Center wherein she promptly killed off over 90% of the occupants inside with neurotoxin. Save for one scientist by the name of Rattman who managed to hide himself away in the back walls of the facility. It is also highly likely that GLaDOS ensured that the visiting families, including women and children, were put into stasis to be used as test subjects later on.

What makes this event particularly disheartening is the idea that GLaDOS was not only a human being prior to being activated but that she was in fact limited to what she could do by her creators and still managed to nearly wipe them all out. These limitations come in the form of various personality cores that are, in effect, literal embodiments of certain personality types ranging from anger, to morality, to obsessions over space and adventure. Without them, GLaDOS is surprisingly more human sounding in both voice and mannerisms.

Slightly mad both emotionally and mentally, and more than a little narcissistic and mean-spirited but human nonetheless.

Being the operating system behind the entirety of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, GLaDOS doesn’t necessarily have minions so much as the both the entirety of the facility and anything created within it, primarily these wee little things aptly named as turrets. Weird little buggers that despite having legs don’t seem capable of moving or emoting some seriously odd bits of dialogue even while they’re attempting to kill you. Aside from them, GLaDOS can reshape the facility’s vast testing chambers as she sees fit and can create near impossible mazes and obstacles to hinder people from reaching her and shutting her down permanently.

GLaDOS has only one focus, one drive, towards everything she does and that’s the completion of scientific experiments, particularly those that test the ingenuity and capabilities of sentient, or near sentient, test subjects. In this case, it was one mute young woman by name of Chell who not only beat the murderous AI, but she also managed to inadvertently restore her back to life in the game’s sequel thanks in no small part to a distinctively eccentric personality core by name of Wheatley.

Though, to be fair, it is because of Wheatley that we not only discover the truth of GLaDOS’ origins but the likely source of her psychosis in the first place. Her “body,” or at least her chassis’ hardware, is geared towards testing to such a high degree that even when if she wanted to do anything else, she has to test. She has to or she will literally drive herself even further insane than she already is. Though she concluded that the easiest solution to ridding herself of Chell was to simply let her go, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a sequel is made revealing the fact that GLaDOS simply cannot survive without her.

WHERE IS YOUR MAGIC?!

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LORD TIREK


Former Resident of:
The Badlands
Prisoner of:
Tartarus
Featured In: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Voiced By:
Mark Acheson

I’ll admit it, I tried my best to stay strong against the rising tide. I stood back as my favored artists, they whose works of art are the stuff of monsters and horrors, fell to drawing fan art of the show. I even did my best to try and ignore the rising number of fan made videos, music or otherwise, that were increasingly piling up by the day on Youtube. Then, one dark and dreary day, I succumbed to temptation and watched a single episode.

And in that episode there was a villain… A villain played by none other than John de Lancie.

John de Lancie.

To those of you of the science fiction community, you are no doubt aware of precisely who that is but for those who don’t, let me paint a brief picture.

FREAKING Q FROM STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION! The character was, essentially, a cartoon version of Q right down to base attitudes and as such was later on redeemed and turned to the side of good in a later season. Yet, I thought to myself, how in the heck could they afford the likes of John de Lancie for a season two premiere villain? One that would, in all likeliness, never show up again?

The likeliest of answers was that somehow, this cartoon show specifically geared towards younger audiences, particularly of those of the female persuasion, was doing something different than others of its ilk. It was a show for kids but one that was touching the hearts and imaginations of adults, of those who remember a time when Saturday mornings were worth getting up early for, when the weekday afternoons following school were lined up with dozens of animated reprieves from the hardships of learning.

That and they had Lauren Faust as the executive producer and creative developer for the opening seasons. The same Lauren Faust who created such animated marvels like The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and was even an animator for such films as The Iron Giant and Cats Don’t Dance.

Success was all but guaranteed by her inclusion but no one, not a single person, could have predicted the rise that it would have.

I myself am what the fandom of the series proclaims as a “casual brony.” Do I like the animated series? Yes, I do save for a few face-palming episodes and equally annoying characters. Do I enjoy the works of the fans? The occasional, surprisingly well written, fanfiction yes but I find the true gems are those few fan made animated works. Seriously, if anyone has a doubt as to how much work and imagination this series can inspire, simply check out Children of the Night and/or Fall of the Crystal Empire. These were made for fans by fans and the amount of effort involved is equal to that of the mainstream series.

Now, on to the main point of this review, one Lord Tirek… as of now, his true origins remain rather vague as the comic mini-series entitled Fiendship is Magic, will be released later this summer. That’s not to say that we don’t get a fair gleam to his character’s backstory in the show itself. Tirek and his brother Scorpan, a chimeric looking creature, arrive to the land of Equestria from a “distant country” most likely being the Badlands with Tirek seeking to conquer and devour all magic. His brother however grows to actually care for the pony denizens and warns the ruling princesses of the sun and moon, Celestia and Luna respectively, of Tirek’s plans. Thankfully, the two sisters were stronger than Tirek and managed to not only subdue him but imprison him into the heart of Tartarus.

Tartarus. The Greek equivalent of every circle of Hell itself all rolled up into one package.

I know what you’re thinking: this is a kid’s show, right?

WRONG!

Although he appears to be a centaur, if not a rather demonic looking one, Tirek is no such humble creature of honor or valor. He is a literal monster hellbent on dominion and will stop at nothing to get what he wants and what he wants more than anything else is power. For you see dear readers, Tirek has a horrific ability unlike any other creature seen before. Tirek can eat the magic out of creatures. In the case of ponies, this process not only robs them of their… ugh… cutie marks (seriously hate that term) but turns them into literal husks of themselves, incapable of doing much of anything besides laying where they fall and waiting to die.

Yeah, this is as much a kid’s show as freaking Game of Thrones is fit to be aired on public television…

To make matters worse, the more magic that Tirek devours, the more of it he can eat at a time, going from a single pony at a time to entire crowds at once. It is because of this one weakness that he was unable to defeat Celestia and Luna in the past as they, being alicorns, possessed more magic than he in his weaker form could absorb. However, thanks the rise of pony population in the time since he was imprisoned, Tirek was able to attain enough magic to take those of the princesses, including one other princess by name of Candance of the Crystal Empire, only to discover that their magic was already gone, given to the newest alicorn to join their kind, Twilight Sparkle.

A brief moment here to speak of alicorns for those who’ve never heard of such a creature before… Alicorn is actually the term referring to what the horn upon a unicorn’s head is made of but by increasing fan usage in the early seasons, it was later adopted to refer to those ponies who possess both the wings of a Pegasus and the horn of a Unicorn. These alicorns are all princesses of their respected realms and command enough power to be literal gods on earth. Celestia and Luna themselves are responsible for the movement of the sun and moon respectively.

Now, imagine their power plus one another crammed into one who has yet to fully realize her potential as an alicorn…

Yeah, there was much hilarity to be found there before comedy turned swiftly to tragedy. Having learned of Twilight’s existence and her love of her friends, Tirek had Discord, whom he had tricked into aiding him by way of making him feel as though he had been tricked into being a good guy, capture them and absorb their magic. Followed shortly by absorbing Discord’s magic as well.

Discord. The guy who is literally chaos incarnate who with but a snap of his fingers can make the sky turn green and the grass into a checkerboard field whilst ballerina dancing buffalo tiptoe by. The same person who conjures up a glass of chocolate milk only to drink the glass and toss the remaining milk aside to watch as it explodes with the same force of a stick of TNT. That’s not an exaggeration either, that’s just a few of the things he does in his premiere episodes.

With this, Tirek was more than enough to handle Twilight Sparkle’s increased magic power. In point of fact… rather than talk of how Tirek is defeated or of the fight itself… How’s about you all go and watch this video and tell me again how this is supposed to be a kid’s show.

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