Category Archives: Movie

“World of Tomorrow” is My Pick for Best Animated Short Film of 2016

Like last years’ Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short, my selection for the 2016 winner is an easy decision as none of the shorts had the same depth and innovation as my clear favorite did. So before I get to why I liked “The World of Tomorrow” the best, let’s take a look at the other nominees first.

Probably the weakest nominee on our list is “Prologue.” Now, “Prologue” is noteworthy for its combination of colored pencils with a hyper realistic art style but the story was super lacking. In fact, did it even have a story? No, it really didn’t. It’s just about these four dudes fighting each other (in a game I called “The Half Naked Fight”) and a young girl gets traumatized from viewing this deadly battle. That’s it. Violence has weight if there’s a purpose behind it but without tension, it’s meaningless. Why are the dudes fighting? Which side should I be rooting for? And why should I care?

“Bear Story” suffers from its middling plot, style, and story that, in the end, make it another weak contender. I don’t really know what to say about this short since it’s so…meh…I think what really bothers me about the short is there are a lot of unanswered questions, some of which are ones I’m sure the creators don’t want you to think about. For instance, are the circus workers human? Where do they live? How do they know about this animal city? Why aren’t there other humans doing something about this human city? Do the animals live in fear of humans? Even the ending was confusing in the wrong way as it left me more frustrated than satisfied. And unfortunately, the rather stiff animation seems almost jarring when you compare it to other computer-animated shorts. Next.

“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” should be retitled as “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos and Each Other.” The two cosmonauts’ friendship rivals their love of outer space and that makes this short super character driven. The minimal art style is reminiscent of Tintin, Doug, and other simplistic cartoons and this is amazing given the breadth of emotion delivered in this film. Because of the style, outer space looks so beautiful, perfectly complimenting the cosmonauts love for it. Really, the major fault I had for this film is the ending which, like “Bear Story,” left me confused when it really shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t focus on this part of the film but it bothered both Mary and I and I can’t let it go. Mary postulated that he committed suicide while I think he somehow found a way to reach outer space and join his friend. Perhaps we should enjoy the ending though as he was reunited with his friend in the end. Pretty good short though!

Now, “Sanjay’s Super Team” I can imagine winning the Oscar but not just because it’s a Pixar film! The other Pixar short I saw in 2015, “Lava,” was no where near as good as this short and I was super glad I didn’t have to watch it again when I saw all five shorts in the theater.  I like this short because it was incredibly fluid, visually stimulating and gorgeous. I like the parallels between the father and son’s influential figures and I liked the action scene as well. If it wasn’t for “World of Tomorrow,” I’d say that “Sanjay’s Super Team” would win the award no problem!

Then why does “World of Tomorrow” (directed, produced, animated, written, and edited by Don Hertzfeldt) deserve the Oscar? Well, I think it boils down to “World of Tomorrow’s” delivery of a very earnest, and somewhat sad, look at humanity through the guise of fun, surreal, and often times light humor. I can only imagine how difficult it is to achieve this but “World of Tomorrow” exceeded tremendously. What’s more, the child-like stick figure characters match well with the undefined and abstract-like backgrounds.   There were so many good scenes but the one that got to me was when Future Emily talked about clone degenerations and then her eyes blinked rapidly and sporadically. It made me uncomfortable and that was great. The ending scene where Future Emily absorbed Emily Prime’s memory of her mother was quite melancholic but I still had this sense of…optimism? I’m not quite sure how I feel.

I guess in the end, “World of Tomorrow” was the animated short I had been looking for for a long time. When I review the Oscar Animated Shorts, I’m looking for a short that has a stellar art direction mixed with an unconventional storyline or a story that made me think and change my perspective on a certain topic. The last time this happened to me was 2013’s Disney’s “Get a Horse” which, although not really mentally stoking, had a very surprising and refreshing take of the classic Mickey cartoons and that was great! I love being surprised! “World of Tomorrow,” was the opposite as, although it didn’t have a twist or a surprise “gotcha moment,” was still very sweet and emotionally stimulating. And unlike “Bear Story” or “We Can’t Live without Cosmos,” I didn’t find myself frustrated or confused by the storyline, it had a goal and it delivered it to perfection. I highly recommend for anyone to see it.

Btw, anyone notice how there was a severe lack of dialogue in four of the five shorts? Only “World of Tomorrow” had dialogue and it was brimming with it. I kind of find that interesting as the previous two nominated years had a healthy mix of the two. I’m not really surprised truth be told as when you have an animated short, a media where you are free to create anything you like without much limitation, you can easily tell a story using character actions and visual cues.

An Underrated Classic: “Joyeux Noël”

“Joyeux Noël”, I think, is one of the more underrated Christmas films in the oversaturated sea of Christmas specials and movies. A historical fiction film, based on actual events, “Joyeux Noël” tells how human kindness and spirit can happen in areas where even death and misery shroud the setting. Taking place during the Great War, in the awful front-line trenches, we follow German, Scottish, and French soldiers who slowly come to love and respect their enemies despite their prejudices and national identity.

I think one of the reasons why I like the film so much is the stellar production value behind it. The awful scenes of war, death, and sadness are well executed. Life in the trenches is brutal and unpleasant and everyone has a chance of an unglorified death. The stillness of the battlefield, of “No Man’s Land,” is more haunting when we see the very white snow disturbed by frozen bodies and gaping pits caused by artillery shells. The costumes, make up, and props look very realistic and the added bonus of everyone speaking their native language, further pushes the realism of the film despite its fictional narrative.

I think my favorite part of the film is the scene where the soldiers start singing Silent Night and the German tenor got so passionate about the song that he grabbed a small Christmas tree, climbed over the trenches and sang the song as passionately as he could while holding the tree as high as he could.  Definitely a highlight of the film, that’s for sure.

My two favorite characters are Palmer, the Scottish priest, and Audebert, the French Lieutenant although the other leads of the film are likable as well. Horstmayer, the Germany Lieutenant, also grows on you, especially when its revealed he is Jewish. Unfortunately, the minor characters are painted somewhat one-dimensional. In this case, I’m mainly referring to the characters comrades who did not experience the magic of Christmas and still think of their enemies as the Devil’s sons.

The film also weighs a little heavy in melodrama and it’s hard not to get emotional near the end of the film. The song, I’m Dreaming of Home, is sung throughout the film by the Scots and is again sung at the end by the German soldiers as they are shipped to the Eastern Front, certain to face their sad death. Truth be told, I like the men’s choir version more than the children’s choir but either way, this song makes my heart feel heavy and I can’t help but shed a tear or two every time I watch the end.

Despite its heavy-handed nature, this is a great Christmas film that I think should be watched but definitely not in a “Miracle on 34th Street” or “A Christmas Story” mood. If you were in a mood to watch a historical film (or more specifically a Great War film) or you want to change of pace for your overused, annual Christmas films, give this a spin, I guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. Merry Christmas!

The Extensive Timeline for “Tales from Jabba’s Palace”

I can’t believe it but I finally achieved what I wanted to do for almost ten years. I finally constructed the timeline in Tales from Jabba’s Palace. As mentioned Yesterday, I love this book and all its glorious characters and I even reread the novel solely so I can reconstruct the timeline. Without further ado, here it is!

Tales from Jabba's Palace Timeline, Star Wars, Jabba the Hutt, Jabba's Palace, Tales from Jabba's Palace

If you’re at this point in the article then you probably want to hear how I constructed the timeline. It wasn’t hard but it certainly took awhile.

I decided fairly early on that I wanted two things to be represented in the timeline. The first one was when each of the Tales happened and the second one, and the one I was most interested at, was when each of the major book events happened and at what order. Many times, the protagonists would meet up at crucial plot points that affected their story. I wanted to record these events and know how they fit into the overall grand story.

The first step was to, obviously, become familiar with the events that transpired in Return of the Jedi. All of the characters, with the exception of Melvosh Bloor because his Tale takes place at a completely different time than the others, reference at least one of the movie events during their respective Tales. As such, knowing the order and the relative time these events happen is quite important. C-3PO and R2’s arrival, Oola’s death, and Luke killing the Rancor are probably the most referenced movie events.

Once I got that going, I had to establish relative dates in reference to a certain event. Star Wars fans like to use the Battle of Yavin from A New Hope as a reference point for the overall Star Wars timeline. For Tales from Jabba’s Palace though, we need something more exact. Luke’s Arrival was chosen as the zero mark because the book made a special case at the beginning how

“Jabba is always on his guard, but little does he suspect that his greatest nemesis will come in the form of a single Jedi Knight, who walks in alone from the desert…”

            Indeed, many of the protagonists in the novel plot against Jabba and all fail because of Jabba’s cunningness. However, even Jabba’s intelligence was no match for the unstoppable force that was Luke that day. Jabba planned against many things but a Jedi Knight was definitely not one.

Pictured: A Thorn in Jabba’s Fat Ass. Picture from http://piximggif.com/luke-skywalker-return-of-the-jedi-wallpaper

One thing I struggled with fairly early on was if Luke came two days or one day after Leia arrives as I was initially under the impression that Luke came two days afterwards judging from Malakili’s Tale. Halfway through the novel, I realized this was not the case and I had to adjust because of which. Many of the other movie events, however, were easily interpreted time-wise and naturally built the framework for my two goals.

The protagonist’s Tales were very easy to build on the timeline as the characters would react to a movie event early on in their story and usually react to other movie events as their Tale progressed. Some adjustments were made along the way to account the major book events or if an another protagonist clarifies when that event happened. A good example of this be when J’Quille killed the monk and took the thermal detonator (TD) he was holding. J’Quille’s story ends there but we don’t know when exactly that is. Well, we know this happens shortly before Luke kills the Rancor because Bib Fortuna mentioned how he stole the TD from J’Quille during the Luke vs. Rancor commotion.

Some protagonists’ Tales, admittedly, are unclear when they begin or end and this is represented on the timeline with a question mark. For instance, Max Rebo and co. become Jabba’s Band after Carbonite Han was delivered to Jabba but other than that we have no idea when they were hired. Dannik Jerriko is another example as his POV is very hazy and time progress either very slow or fast depending on the scenario (and in general his Tale is very dreamlike which adds an extra level of confusion to the whole thing).

The book events were definitely the most difficult part of the whole thing as I had to take constant notes who was where at what time. Phlegmin’s death is probably in the top three most important book events as so many characters are affected by his death in one form or another. Hell, soooo many protagonists were present at one time or another when his body was discovered. First Dannik killed him, than Porcellus discovered the body, then Ree-Yees, and finally Gartogg comes by and takes the body to figure out who killed him. All the while, J’Quille and Bubo watch from afar as they witness this strange scenario.

Even trickier to figure out was Leia’s TD. That weapon jumped from person to person and weaved an unclear mesh on who has what. Though it’s not 100 percent confirmed, I believe a monk steals Leia’s TD shortly after she’s unmasked and gives the weapon to J’Quille. I again believe this weapon was stolen by Bib Fortuna but I’m unsure as Bib only said he stole it off of a Whiphid guard. But considering we’re only familiar with one Whiphid, we can assume that was J’Quille.

Even more confusing is the second bomb that was planted on Jabba’s Sail Barge. Tessek gets Barada to plant a bomb on Jabba’s Palace but we’re unsure if this is the same bomb that the Weequay people find in their Tale. Their “God” Quay said it was a bomb planted by J’Quille but we know that’s not true because Bib Fortuna stole it, right? And it also can’t be the same bomb because Bib planted the bomb shortly before their attempted execution of Luke and co. and the Weequays had already found their bomb by then. I thus assume this was the same bomb planted by Barada then.

One thing I realized as I was finishing up this timeline was that a certain degree of interpretation has to be made in order to fit everything as best as it could. Unfortunately, not all of the Tales perfectly line up with each other and may even have some slight transgressions from the movie itself.  For the most part though, things lined up easily enough

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the end result as I think the timeline looks good, albeit amateurish, but it gets the message across well enough. I can finally check this off of my bucket list and now get back to my life…this took too long to make…haha

If you have any suggestions or improvements to the timeline then I will be more than willing to hear them!

My Love for Tales from Jabba’s Palace

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!

The Star Wars’ anthology novel, Tales from Jabba’s Palace (TfJP), is probably one of the most underrated stories ever to be produced in the Star Wars’ universe.  So many funny, clever, and important stories happen in this oft-forgotten book that I wonder why it’s not discussed more often.  I daresay, this is the book that help got me into Star Wars back when I was in Junior High (a time that I hardly ever read to begin with).  After reading this book, I read the other two Tales books (Tales from Mos Eisely Cantina and Tales of the Bounty Hunters) and played great Star Wars video games.  TfJP was my definitive first look behind the movie’s curtains and peer into the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Why?  Why did this book capture me and drive me towards my eventual Star Wars obsession?

Well, remember in Return of the Jedi when Luke killed the Rancor and while he was hustled away, a chubby, shirtless guy ran forward to the now dead Rancor and begin crying?  That scene, both humorous and poignant, spoke volumes about a character, about a history, that we as an audience have not been nor will ever be exposed to.

It is this character’s history, Malakili, whose tale we read first (aptly titled “A Boy and his Rancor”) in TfJP.  A strong story to start on, we are given an in-depth look at Malakili and his developing friendship with his Rancor.  The story, one of the longer ones in the book, takes its time and shows how Malakili and the Rancor eventually trusted each other as more than just a master and his pet but as actual friends, as comrades.

As a reader, we are hooked into this story and empathize with Malakili.  He is a likable character that has goals and feelings.  All of our admiration with him, and even his Rancor, culminates in the end as the Rancor’s death leaves us even sadder than if we had only see the movie.  After reading his tale, you want to learn more about the tales that this anthology has to offer.

*sniff*

Malakili and his Rancor’s tale establishes the foundation that the rest of the anthology builds off of.  Not only do we have a good reason to hate Jabba (besides all the stuff he did in the movie) but we are exposed to the variety of characters whose journey we’ll also follow (e.g., Gartogg the Gamorrean and Porcellus the chef) later on.  Through these interactions, we realize that there is so much more going on in Jabba’s Palace than we realize and that Malakili’s tale is only a part of it.

Indeed, as you read through the anthology, a feeling of unease begins to creep into you as you read each of the characters’ tales.   The protagonists might run into a dead body with an unknown murderer or find out that their plot has gone awry by an unseen force.  Many of the questions we faced during their stories are not answered until much later in the novel though hints are certainly sprinkled here and there on who (or what) are the actual puppeteers.

Generally speaking, as you progress through the novel, the protagonists’ tales usually start or end later compared to protagonists near the beginning of the book.  Hell, many of the protagonists’ stories that make up much of the latter half of the book end with Jabba’s Barge blowing up or shortly thereafter.  Even the last two stories (Boba Fett and Yarna) take place after Jabba’s death and a majority of the time spent with these two characters does not even take place in Jabba’s Palace.  As such, the editor’s deliberate action in placing all of the tales in certain sections of the anthology give a sense of an overarching story in the novel that would seemingly be lost if the stories were randomly distributed.  The result of which is quite amusing to me.

This overarching story works really well for each of the protagonists’ tales.  The best example of this I would say is Ephant Mon’s Tale.  There seems to be a shift in our overall mood towards this novel as we read his tale.  Not only do we progress further in the timeline compared to the protagonists beforehand but we get to confront Jabba through the eyes of a friend, something that no other protagonist can claim.  It’s a different side of Jabba that we rarely see and really hones in how unique all of the characters are in this book.  More importantly, Ephant Mon’s Tale hints that the Force was acting very strong in Jabba’s Palace for the past few days.  Major events, whether seen or unseen in the movie, transpired in the awful establishment and it’s hard to believe they happened purely by chance.

Speaking of chance, I want to talk about one of my favorite protagonists, Gartogg the Gamorrean.  God, this guy is great.  He means so well but he’s just so stupid, haha!  He has this uncanny ability to stumble upon a freshly murdered body with maybe even the murderer to boot.  He’s so good at this that he found the crime scene for all four murders in Jabba’s Palace!  But everyone always tricks him for the sole reason that they don’t get into trouble with Jabba and he believes them!  And he’s just so cheery about it and wants to please his boss and oh my gosh this guy is hilarious.

One of the underlying themes in TfJP is that not everything is as it seems.  Characters that the protagonists perceive as incompetent or inconsequential are actually quite formidable or intelligent.  Ree-Yees is an interesting example of this as he disguises his competence with his alcoholic tendencies and plays the fool most of the time.  Even though he’s an idiot, his plot goes unnoticed by many people, including the conspiracy-sniffing Ephant Mon.   Bubo is probably the best example though as even the reader does not give Bubo two cents until we realize he is a sentient being!

I have to talk about the B’omarr monks as they are definitely an important part in the anthology.  Though none of the protagonists are monks, quite a few of them interact with the monks to some degree such as J’Quille, Bib Fortuna, Bubo, Tessek, and Ree-Yees.  I think because we lack a monk POV we find them unsettling as we know little about them.  Even Bib Fortuna, who arguably is the most familiar with them out of anyone in the Palace, did not foresee the Monks takeover when Jabba was killed.  When we are revealed the fate of Jabba’s Palace, there is another uneasy shift in the novel as we wonder if the next protagonist will be able to survive both Jabba’s barge blowing up and unwanted removal of their brains in jars.

At least, that’s the way I feel, especially for the last Tale involving the fat dancer, Yarna, and the hunter, Doallyn. Just as we begin TfJP with a strong story starring a likable pair of protagonists, we end it once again with two protagonists only this time, the game has changed.  We fear that Yarna and Doallyn do not have much time in the Palace as they could easily be killed by Dannik Jerriko or operated on by the creepy B’omarr Monks.  What’s more, there is an actual risk for the two that we do not experience often in the previous Tales.  The previous Tales take place (mostly) during the events of Return of the Jedi.  As such, we know who may succeed and who may fail.  Yarna and Doallyn’s Tale, however, takes place afterwards, and therefore we venture into completely unknown territory with them.  Without the movie tying them down to any plot specific requirements, the author goes all out in making their tale stand out from the rest.

And what’s more, unlike Malakili and his unfortunate pet Rancor, they succeed, ending the dour novel in a heartwarming light.

Now…

Ever since I first read this novel, I was mesmerized and impressed on how every Tale matched the other Tales almost perfectly.  The protagonists meet each other constantly and as such, the exact same interaction can be found in two different chapters.  So many of these events, which go unnoticed in the movie, are of such importance to the characters that I’m willing to bet that someone made a grand, master timeline of the events and gave it to all the authors in making sure they follow it.  The fact that these interactions happen at all always surprises me.

But as far as I know, no one has recreated this timeline.  It’s quite daunting, that’s for sure, as you would have to be a big nerd to do that.  And guess what?  I did just that!  Tomorrow, I’m going to release my interpretation of the overall timeline of Tales from Jabba’s Palace!  Check it out because I’m super proud of the end result!

If you had read the novel, I would like to hear your opinion on it as I know only a few people who have.  Who are your favorite characters and Tales?  If I were to pick my favorite Tales/Characters it would Ephant Mon, Gartogg, Malakili and his Rancor, and Yarna and Doallyn.

“The Dam Keeper” is My Pick for Best Animated Short for 2015 Oscars

Last year, Mary and I went to our first screening of all the Oscar Animated Shorts for 2014.  We were delighted at the eclectic group of shorts that varied extraordinarily from their country origin, to their run time, to their visual style, and most importantly, to their overall message.  Unfortunately, this year’s selections were not as strong as last year’s.  They were still good but they didn’t have that “oomph” that last year’s selections had.

What’s more, in 2014, Mary and I were divided between our two favorites.  She liked the Japanese-produced “Possessions” and the Luxembourg-produced “Mr Hublot” while I liked “Possessions” and the Disney-produced “Get a Horse!”  But for 2015, we unanimously agreed that “The Dam Keeper” was the best out of the five nominees.

Out of the five nominees (and several non-nominated shorts), “The Dam Keeper” was definitely the strongest, and probably most original, out of all of them.  Why?  Well, let me tackle the other nominees first to give you why this is my pick for best Oscar Animated Short for 2015.

To begin with, I’m glad that the non-nominated shorts were not nominated as they were definitely the weaker shorts.  “Bus Story” and “Duet” had an underwhelming story while “Sweet Cocoon” had a predictable ending with animation that looked to be on par with a children’s television show.  “Footprints” was the strongest of the four thanks to its exaggerated animation, great music, and story that continued to hold me to the end.

In fact, if given the option, I would have switched Disney’s “Feast” with “Footprints” as a nominated short.  Now let me be frank here, I loved last year’s “Get a Horse!” as it was hilarious and had a great concept behind it that was well executed.  I don’t think anything like that could be topped.  “Feast,” on the other hand, though adorable, lovingly animated, and well thought-out, did not have that extra something to make it special.  I liked it but its play-by-the-rules attitude to story and animation holds it back from earning that Oscar.

What didn’t play by the rules was “The Bigger Picture,” the British short that used real life sets and props to animate the story.  The style at first is jarring but after you quickly get used to it it seems natural to the depressing plot on hand.  I liked how the short animated the water using saran wrap or how the protagonist shut his brother up by slamming open a cabinet door onto his face.  My real fault with the short however is the story.  It played with your heartstring by dealing with such heavy topics as taking care of your elderly parents, unhelpful and ungrateful siblings, or death.  That I’m fine with.  However, the story felt kind of…unresolved…there was no closing for the will, or the mother’s forgiveness to her caring son, or a resolution for the brothers’ tension towards one another.  Perhaps the short was supposed to emanate real life but if that was case then it was certainly lost on me.  Granted, of all the shorts this was definitely the most real-like of the five but even then, a story without a resolution seems empty.

“Me and My Moulton” I definitely liked better than “The Bigger Picture.”  First off, I liked the simple design, the flat colors, and the contained story that it held.  This complimented this nostalgic retelling of a woman’s past as it painted the world from a child’s perspective.  What’s more, we only see things from her point of view and as such, there’s a very “grass is greener” vibe going on, especially when she compares her family to her neighbor’s family.  The whole short reminded me of Nickelodeon’s Doug thanks to its down-to-earth feeling.  The simple designs also reminded me of the old European comics like Tintin thanks to the simple, black dot eyes and the vibrant, unblending colors.  And as a side note, I liked how the father’s blind eye was slightly off-kilter compared to his normal eye, nice touch.

Next up, we get to the shortest of the nominees (a whopping 2 minutes), “A Single Life.”  When I saw the time stamp for this movie I was wondering how the heck they were going to tell a story in that time frame.  But boy was I surprise!  A record controlling time is probably not new but the way the animators delivered this concept was fantastic.  It told a story in such a succinct and delicious manner that you can’t help but be swept up by it.  And that ending!  That was great.

Honestly, the only thing holding back “A Single Life” would probably be its brevity.  And don’t get me wrong, brevity is fine but when you compare it to a full fledge story that you can latch onto and follow its progression smoothly then you’re on shaky ground.  Such is the way for the final nominee, “The Dam Keeper” which doesn’t have the faults its fellow nominees have.

“The Dam Keeper” has a nice story length with good pacing, it sets the ground rules for its universe fairly early on, it has a unique style to it, and its story is wholly original.  True, anthropomorphized animals is definitely nothing new, but the world that is built around them seems fresh.  I also like how a lot of things are kind of left up in the air such as what the darkness exactly is, why the pig is in charge of keeping the darkness at bay or why the windmill has the power to stop the darkness.  This doesn’t matter so much as the story between the friendship of a young fox and pig.  So wrapped up with it I was that when the pig decided to let the town suffer and let the darkness come in, I was genially surprise at the short’s direction and honestly thought it would end there.  Then, when the pig saw his friend’s drawing, I again thought the story was going to end there with this even bigger downer ending.  Fortunately, the pig was able to save the town and subsequently his friend’s life.  The ending was quite happy if not relieving and left a generally uplifting note in the air.

Now, if I were a betting man, I would bet the Oscars would pick Disney’s “Feast” as the winner because of its happy, warm, feel-good approach.  I would be 100% positive about this if it weren’t for the fact that Disney hasn’t won every year it was in the race.  Heck, last year’s “Get a Horse” lost to “Mr Hublot” which surprised me.  I’m hoping that “The Dam Keeper” will win this year because it deserves it.  If not it then I would be content with “A Single Life” or “Me and My Moulton” winning it as well because they told a better story compared to the bland, predictable “Feast.”  Fingers crossed!

Who Would Win? Rocky vs. Little Mac

Ladies and Gentlemen! I bring you a match-up that will get your heart a-pumpin and your voice a-screamin! This is between the most famous fictionalized boxers of all time, Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies and Little Mac from the Punch Out video games! They are known for their indomitable will, their stubborn tenacity, and the ability to beat the odds no matter what against larger-than-life opponents. Both of these boxers never met each other in the ring but what if they did? Who would win between these two boxing legends?? Let’s find out folks! Only canon sources are applied and no items will be used, let’s determine whose will and fortitude is stronger in a fantastic, 12-round, battle of Rocky the Two Time Heavyweight Champion vs. Little Mac the Champion of the World Video Boxing Association!

Image via huffingtonpost.com

Let’s start off with Rocky! A native Philadelphian, Rocky’s humble origins were eventually thrown into the spotlight when Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight Champion, handpicked him to fight in a special match. Since his legendary battle with the Champion, Rocky has faced tough opponents over the years such as the vicious Clubber Lang and the monster Ivan Drago. He even faced the new Champion, Mason Dixon, when he was 60 years old! He has had several trainers over the years such as Apollo’s trainer Duke, Apollo himself and of course, Mickey Goldmill played by Burgess Meredith. All of these trainers had imparted their boxing wisdom onto Rocky and he would have definitely not been the champ if it wasn’t for them.

Rocky’s main strength as a boxer is the ability to tire out his opponents. This is thanks to his iron jaw but especially to his will of steel. Even when faced against stronger opponents, he’s able to tire them out and finish the job. He actually uses this to his advantage by taunting some of his opponents, like Clubber Lang, and make them wear out faster by aggressively attacking him. One of Rocky’s main traits is his “southpaw” fighting, better known as fighting primarily with your left hand. It’s quite unorthodox in the boxing world and supposedly can throw off your opponent. In the end, Jim Lampley in Rocky Balboa said it best that Rocky has a “cast iron jaw, ferocious body attack, and will of steel; all of which carried him to victories over the years against physically superior opponents.”

Despite his talent as a great boxer, Rocky has some bad shortcomings that saw him some of his defeats. Rocky’s ego can get the better of him at times whether he either lacks or has too much of it. He had too much ego going up against Clubber Lang for their first fight and too little shortly before his first fight against Apollo Creed. Rocky also has a bad right eye which he got fighting his first match against Apollo Creed. He lacks some peripheral vision for that eye and that can be an almost literal blind spot for him. Also, Rocky seems to forget that he has hands and on those hands are gloves and he can use those gloves to block. He’s like Homer Simpson when he decided to take up boxing in “The Homer They Fall,” boxers punch him in the head but Rocky doesn’t seem to care.

Image via smashbros.com

Little Mac hails from the Bronx and is primarily known for his short height. In the NES version of Punch Out he was 4’ 8’’ but then he was buffed up to 5’ 7’’ in the Wii version. Little Mac has faced many vainglorious opponents that were much bigger than him during his boxing matches. They’ve all been diverse and use unique techniques even to the point that some of them use magic to help them win. As such, Little Mac has valuable experience that was bestowed to him by his opponents and has prepared him for any kind of situation.

Little Mac’s main strength is his fast reaction. Some of his tougher opponents have punches that can strike fast and hard. However, all of them have tells that indicate their plan of action and Mac is good at picking those up. Depending on how well Mac knows his opponent, he can leave a match unscathed with another KO under his belt. Sometimes, Mac knows the tells so well that he’s able to hit his opponents at the right time to give him star punches. Star punches are extra strong punches that can do a lot of damage on his rivals. If he saved up three star punches he can knock them down with one blow. What’s more, if he’s out of hearts (basically his level of fatigue) only one star punch is needed to knock down the opponent and if he uses all three then that can knock them out for good.

However, if Little Mac is hit once after he gets a star punch he loses it. As such, he has to be careful to hold onto those star punches and use them when appropriate. Little Mac is also not the best defender as he can get knocked down by a few strong moves or even with one special move such as Bald Bull’s charge. If Little Mac gets hit, or if he blocks, or if he hits a blocking opponent then he’ll lose his hearts. If he reaches down to zero hearts, Mac will have to rest a bit and dodge his opponents until he can recover his hearts. During this critical time, Mac can’t throw any punches (except the star punches).

Doc Louis, his trainer, is also not the most helpful trainer at times. He’s good at getting Mac into shape and he was the one who taught Mac his star punches. However…Doc will give Mac cryptic advice how to beat his opponent in-between rounds and even then that doesn’t happen too much. Sometimes he’ll say what his favorite flower is (chocolate) or that he should join the Nintendo Fun Club. Other times he just commenting on how Mac is doing, the rival, or that Mac should finish this fight up. So yeah…not really the best support…

GIF from brotherbrain.tumblr.com

Alright, now that we have our introductions aside, we can begin the match! Before we begin we’re going to level the playing field a bit and say that Rocky or Little Mac do not know each other at all going into the ring. All they know is their height, weight, age, and Win-Loss ratio. With that said, let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeee!

In front of a large, screaming crowd, Rocky and Little Mac are introduced and they meet each other for the first time in the ring. Rocky is initially surprised that his opponent is so small while Little Mac is relieved that for once his rival does not initially seem wacky or loud. As they step forward for the referee to explain the rules, Rocky notices that Little Mac means business, he’s got the Eye of the Tiger. Already, Rocky is breaking down his opinion that maybe he shouldn’t go easy on this guy.

They step back to their corners and the bell rings.

The crowd screams as the two opponents warily step forward. They test the waters by jabbing at their opposites. Little Mac in particular is trying to find the chink in Rocky’s armor. He jabs at his stomach and at his head, trying to determine where is the sweetest spot to hit. Rocky blocks the stomach punches and returns with some counter punches of his own.

But Little Mac is fast, he has reacted to opponents much quicker than Rocky before and he easily dodges his punches. After he dodges one, he returns back with a solid uppercut to Rocky’s face. Rocky is momentarily dazed and now Little Mac is wailing on him. Mickey screams at Rocky while Paulie clutches at the loose strands of hair on his balding head. Rocky finally regains his composure and steps back from Mac to regain his senses.

Rocky is now no longer going to take it easy on Mac. Mac means business and he can hit hard at that. Rocky is now dancing the ring trying to determine what to do. Little Mac sweeps in though and starts pummeling him in the face. Little Mac has picked up that Rocky’s face is the best part to hit as he rarely blocks it. Rocky responds with a hook onto Mac and he finally hits him squarely on the side.

Little Mac is momentarily stunned and now has to dodge Rocky’s punches. As he wonders what to do next, the bell signaling the end of Round 1 rings out.

Rocky, Little Mac, Rocky vs Little Mac, Punch Out

Image photoshopped by me. Punch Out NES text from https://www.splintered.co.uk/experiments/152/

Understandably, Mickey is more than pissed at Rocky and fiercely shouts that Little Mac is not some shrimpy punk; Mac has what it takes to beat him. Meanwhile, Doc Louis cheerfully talks riddles to Little Mac leaving Mac once again frustrated and confused towards his trainer.

Round 2 begins and now everything is changed. Rocky has regained his desire to win and he’s no longer treating Mac as a fragile, plaything. He goes out there like a bull in a china shop and is now throwing punches fiercely at Mac. Mac is dodging, dodging, dodging. He’s pondering hard where to strike the now serious boxer.

And now, an opening! When Rocky lets loose a right hook, he leaves the right side of his face open for a surprise attack. Mac dodges the right hook and strikes an uppercut at Rocky.

Ding! Little Mac just got his first star punch. Before Rocky knew what literally hit him, Mac decides to let go while he still has the chance and release the star punch onto Rocky.

Bam! Rocky stumbles back and hits the ground hard. The ref starts counting and before he even reaches three, Rocky is back up again. He’s ready to dance with Mac again.

Little Mac throws another uppercut at Rocky but he blocks it. Little Mac throws another one and Rocky blocks it as well. Rocky then lets loose a series of jabs at Little Mac and for once the Bronx-fighter was too slow. Little Mac is getting slammed repeatedly and can’t break away from Rocky’s onslaught. Rocky lets loose another punch and Little Mac is the one to go down this time.

Little Mac climbs back up, now bruised and badly hurt, and decides to step off from the attacks to analyze his opponent some more. Rocky comes back with his own attacks and he misses again and again. Another right hook from Rocky is responded by a counter from Little Mac to his face again. Ding! Little Mac gets another star punch but he’s holding onto it this time.

The bell rings and it’s the end of Round 2.

“Hey, Mac!” says Doc to Mac, “Chisel away at Rocky with your uppercut punches.”

Round 3 begins and now the bruised fighters are coming back out again. Rocky is about to attack but he’s surprised by Mac as he took the initiative and punched him right in the stomach.   Ding! Another star punch for Little Mac. Little Mac now proceeds to let a storm of punches onto Rocky. Left, right, left, right. Some to the face and some to the stomach. Rocky tries to respond with some punches of his own but Little Mac dodges it with ease. Another uppercut sends Rocky back down.

This time the referee gets to four and Rocky is back up. Rocky is about to attack again but Little Mac surprises him by jumping his star punches early and taking him down a second time.

Little Mac thinks that will keep Rocky down but he is surprised that Rocky comes back up, though admittedly struggling.

Rocky is now in full swing, he is in the zone, he can now visualize himself winning.

“Come on!” Rocky taunts to Little Mac as he starts dancing around him, “come on! Is that all you got??”

Little Mac swings at Rocky but he dodges and counters back with two quick blows to the head.

Little Mac is unsure what to do now and steps off from attacking his now loud mouthed opponent, waiting to see what he does now.

Rocky comes back in with a series of jabs and Little Mac dodges. Rocky let’s loose a series of punches that are entirely random. Left, left, right, left, uppercut, right, left hook. Rocky is successfully confusing Little Mac. He can’t dodge all the punches.

Bam! A solid punch to his stomach sends Little Mac down.

He climbs back and starts aggressively attacking Rocky again to the face. But Rocky responds by putting his hands up again and again and again. He then hits Little Mac back with another left hook.

Little Mac glows pink as he his fatigue takes a hold of him. Rocky sets up a right hook but Little Mac is ready this time. He dodges it, recovers, and hits Rocky again squarely below his right eye.

Ding! Another star punch. And just in time too, Round 3 just ended.

Round 4 begins and Rocky, after some encouragement from Mickey, begins taunting Little Mac again. Little Mac swings at Rocky but Rocky blocks and hits Mac in the head. Rocky randomizes everything now. He comes in close, he dances around Mac, he punches low, he punches high, he blocks his stomach and sometimes his face.

It’s too much for Little Mac, he can’t hit Rocky at the right times, he can’t figure out when he should dodge and when he should counter.

Little Mac goes down again. He’s struggling hard to get back up. He tries to attack again but it’s fruitless. Rocky has this fight. After a series of dodges and blocks, Rocky punches Little Mac one more time and he’s down and out. KO.

The winner is Rocky.

via Rocky II.

So why do I think Rocky would win this fight?

There are several reasons why I think he would win. First off, let’s look at Rocky IV. Ivan Drago has a punching strength of 2,150 psi, well above what even the strongest boxers can achieve. This punch was so devastating that it even killed Apollo Creed in the second round. Rocky was able to take Drago’s punches to his head multiple times, went the full 15 rounds, won it, and lived long enough to make two more movies. Even Drago commented how Rocky had a body made of iron.

If Rocky was an opponent in Punch Out, he’d probably be one of the most frustrating opponents ever. His health bar would barely decrease after every punch. Even when he’s knocked down multiple times, he will be able to get back up and keep fighting.

Little Mac on the other hand has a weaker body. One strong blow from Mike Tyson can lead to an instant knockdown. Little Mac can also go down so many times before he is KO’d for good. He is definitely a short-term fighter.

That’s not to say it was all in the bag for Rocky. Little Mac was definitely the faster of the two. He could dodge many of Rocky’s attacks with ease and respond promptly as well. True, Rocky got a speed boost in Rocky III but even then, Rocky’s agility does not compare to some of Mac’s more tricky opponents such as Mike Tyson, Mr. Sandman, and Bald Bull.

And if Little Mac was able to figure out what the hell Doc Louis means when he talks about Rocky’s Northeye, then he could exploit Rocky’s bad peripheral vision for his right eye and get a few good star punches from it as well.

I think though the real reason why Rocky would win between the two is that Rocky is human. He doesn’t have a set pattern like all of Mac’s opponents do. He can change things up and randomize his attack pattern to the point that Mac couldn’t keep up with him. At the heart of the matter, Little Mac is a responder. He doesn’t have the hearts to waste by senselessly attacking his opponents. He has to gauge when to accurately use them or not. Rocky would realize this halfway through the fight and would just go crazy in the ring. From southpaw to orthodox, from swarmer to out-boxer, he would just mix things up so much that Little Mac wouldn’t know what to do.

So Rocky wins in the end but…

…what about a rematch?

via killscreen.tumblr.com

In true Punch Out and Rocky fashion there has to be a rematch. It’s funny because whenever I would look up what other people would say who would win between these two titans (or one titan at least) no one would talk about a rematch. I guarantee you that no matter who would win the first fight, the loser would win the rematch.

Besides the fact that’s the way underdog stories go, there is a clear reason why I think the loser would win the rematch. First off, if Mac won the first match, Rocky would go on a training montage and change up his fighting style just like he did for Apollo and Clubber Lang. He was able to win both rematches. This new style would throw off the pattern-loving Little Mac and Rocky would win.

But in this case, Little Mac would win because Doc Louis has a trump card that helps Little Mac through any trouble.

You see, in Punch Out for the Wii, Doc has an awesome training simulation machine that helps Mac through some of his more tricky opponents. He can practice again and again with them until he’s able to take the opponents in real life with ease. In this case, Rocky would practice against a Rocky simulation.

But how? How could Mac win against Rocky’s iron will and body?

The best method is to build up his star punches as fast as he could and knock Rocky down in a TKO. Three knockdowns in one round would satisfy a win for Mac. Mac would endlessly test against the simulation to determine weaknesses that even Rocky doesn’t know about.

And when that rematch happens, Little Mac would be ready and he would take Rocky down in a surprise upset in the first round.

And here, dear readers if you have managed to read this 3000+ word article, I leave you with this. I seriously believe that after that second match, Rocky and Little Mac would become friends similar to Rocky’s relationship with Apollo. Rocky would enjoy finding time to spar with a friendly rival while Mac would revel at the chance to be with a boxer that was not crazy or mean. Cause their burning hearts are, after all, made of gold.

Thanks for reading my longest article yet! This article was a culmination of research done on my free time by watching Rocky fights, playing Punch Out, learning boxing terminology, and watching Mike Tyson fights. Do you agree or disagree with who you’d think would win? Say so in the comments! I would be more than willing to hear what you think!

Confidence Restored: Reaction to Jurassic World and The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

Two teaser trailers for two very hyped movies have been released less than a week apart from each other. The Jurassic World trailer came out on November 25th while Star Wars VII came out on November 28th, 2014. These trailers, both covering very different franchises, are connected by a very important trait that will help make 2015 a very special cinematic year.

These two movies are representing franchises that have become on the whole tired and stale.  For instance, the last Jurassic Park movie was released in 2001 and that was on the whole not very well received and was quite underwhelming.  There were a lot of neat ideas in it that just didn’t play out like they should and there were a lot of missed opportunities.  The climax against the Spinosaurus was anti-climatic and the confrontation with the Velociraptors didn’t have any consequence.  Also, the only people who died were at the beginning of the film despite the protagonists many chances of facing their demise (*cough*BILLY*cough*).

BOOO! Also, how could you not know that was a Spinosaurus???? Image from http://jurassicpark.wikia.com/wiki/Billy_Brennan

Jurassic Park III’s performance certainly put a damper on the franchise and with the death of Michael Crichton I thought the film series had finally come to the end.  So imagine my surprise when I heard they were making another film…

That same surprise was magnified greatly when I heard that Star Wars was also getting a sequel.  The last three films, AKA “the prequels,” were certainly met with its fair share of criticism.  When I heard how George Lucas wasn’t going to make more films due to the response from the fans I was quietly rejoicing.  I like Star Wars but maaaaan I don’t want those kinds of films again!  To be fair though, Star Wars, unlike the dormant Jurassic Park, has quietly simmered throughout the decade with the release of a moderately successful television series, some video games, and more.  Star Wars has always been in the background of my mind, never fully forgotten but never fully focused.

And with a resounding “eh” we watched it. Image from http://www.scified.com/community/forums/topic/38773

And now, both franchises will see their release in 2015.  It cannot be stressed how important these films are to their franchises, especially for Star Wars.  The success of the franchise depends on them.

As such, the success of a film can depend on their first trailer.

So how did they do?

For starters, the Jurassic World trailer made me giddy as hell! When this trailer was released all my paleontology buddies, including yours truly, was posting this trailer on their Facebook wall and commenting back and forth on the prospects of this movie.

AND OH MY GOD THAT MOSASAUR! AFAKJBAESWIFDSFOAIDPSF

This trailer looks awesome!  My prospects for the movie went up many times after I saw it.  I couldn’t help but laugh when they were talking about the genetically modified dinosaur.  It’s great!  I can just imagine if Ian Malcolm saying something like “Life will find a way, bitches!” if he heard about the crazy dinosaur breaking through the park.  Chris Platt also looks good but I’m kind of concern about the boy…the Jurassic Park movies always have kids and they can be misses.  This kid looks like he can be as stiff as Sargent Bland from Godzilla.  I’m hoping we can get some awesome adult protagonists like in the first movie.  We’ll see…

I was at first critical on the Star Wars trailer but after viewing it for a second…and third…and fourth…and fifth time, I had a change of heart.  My initial concern came from the abundance of CGI.  I remember reading an article a year ago that the Star Wars production team was going to use a more diverse set of special effect tools instead of just CGI for their films.  The trailer didn’t showcase that too well.  But what the trailer did show were some very nice costume designs AND everything doesn’t look clean anymore!  Okay, that may have come from left field but in general, the prequels’ sets and props look quite sterile and bland while the original trilogy’s props have a more dirty and used-look to them.  This trailer brought back that used appearance and it looks really nice.  I also love that broadsword lightsaber.  Everyone has been poking fun at it but I like it, it looks kind of cool and not exaggerated.  I’m all for continuing the series forward with new and inventive ideas as long as it doesn’t look ridiculous.  Oh and that final scene with the Aluminum Millennium Falcon was AMAZING.  If I wasn’t convinced before watching the trailer, I am now thanks that that one scene alone.

And why?  Why did my cautious attitude toward both of these new films break down and replaced with newfound confidence?  If I were to point to a single source it would be the music.  Both of the franchises’ famous themes, composed by the great John Williams, made a smashing return in the trailers and salivated your nostalgic mouth.  It gave us, the fans, the restored confidence in these films.  They haven’t forgotten who they are and why they are good.  They are going back to their roots while bringing something new and exciting to them.  The slightly tweaked themes are probably the symbol of both of these new films and what they represent for their franchise.

And with that, dear readers, I leave you with this.  In the Jurassic World trailer, we are revealed that the park has officially opened but something bad has happened to it.  Not a huge surprise mind you but it’s still nice to get that confirmation.  But that’s Jurassic Park!  The whole franchise is one big analogy for Chaos Theory!  Shit’s gonna go down!  But what about The Force Awakens?  Very wisely done, we are not revealed what the plot will be…because unlike Jurassic Park, Star Wars does not have to follow a strict plot device.  And now that the new films are true sequels, they are no longer constrained on what will become.  They are now their own identity.  And what that identity will become will be most interesting indeed…