Bulldog Library

Movies & Video Games

Dr. Who (The complete fifth series)

Doctor Who

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in time or space?  Would you go to a distant planet?  The distant past?  Or maybe you would want to meet one of the great people in history?  In this season, the Doctor takes Amy Pond on a thrill ride of danger and excitement.  They visit a distant planet and battle the Weeping Angels.  They journey to England in the distant past, to the age when Romans roamed Brittan.  They travel to France to meet one of the greatest painters of all time, Vincent Van Gough.  They fight Daleks, Cybermen, Sontaran, and Silurian.  Ultimately, they must find a way to save the universe from being erased from existence.

The fifth season of Doctor Who does not disappoint fans of this long running science-fiction phenomenon.  If you are new to the Doctor Who universe, you may want to start with the first series (that is the first season); however, this season begins with a new Doctor (the Eleventh Doctor, superbly portrayed by Matt Smith) and a new traveling companion, Amy Pond (the girl who waited, portrayed beautifully by Karen Gillan), and viewers new to the show should have very little trouble starting the show with season five.  Doctor Who is an exciting and humorous science fiction program that is highly recommended for fans of science fiction or for anyone who has ever dreamed of traveling through space or through time.  Genre: Science Fiction  •  Rating: TV-PG

Wilson, M. (Producer). (2011). Doctor Who: The complete fifth series [DVD].  UK: BBC.

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The Croods

The Croods

The Croods are a family of cavemen.  They spend most of their time in locked in a tiny, dark cave.  They live by one simple rule: BE AFRAID OF EVERYTHING ALL OF THE TIME.  This rule keeps the family alive, but Eeps longs for something more!  She wants to live in the light and be free of the confines of the Croods’ tiny cave.

One night, Eep sees light seeping through the cracks around the cave’s entrance.  Entranced, she follows the light.  Her trek to find the light leads her to a strange young man who claims the world is ending.  The encounter sparks a journey that will change the way the Croods lives forever.

The Croods is a visually stunning, computer-animated movie.  Clearly inspired by the possibilities of unknown and extinct animals, the film’s animators have let their imaginations run wild!  The world of The Croods is populated by a host of wild beasts of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  There is a cat covered in feathers like an owl, a whale with legs, and a flock of birds that look like flamingos but act like piranhas.  The creature design and landscapes through out the movie are very impressive.  However, the humorous and heartwarming story of The Croods is what really makes this movie shine! Genre: Fantasy  •  Rating: PG

Belson, K., & Hartwell, J. (Producers), De Micco, K., & Sanders, C. (Directors).(2013). The Croods [Motion picture]. USA : DreamWorks Animation.

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Labyrinth

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Sara, an imaginative girl, is furious when her step-mother leaves her to care for her crying baby brother.  In her anger and frustration, she wishes for the Goblin King to take her baby brother away.  The Goblin King grants her wish.  He comes in the form of an owl and takes the baby to his castle beyond the goblin city.  Sara pleads with him to return the child, but he refuses. However, he does take her to the goblin realm.  Now, the only way that she can get her baby brother back is to journey through the Labyrinth to the castle of the Goblin King.

This film was directed by Jim Henson and produced by George Lucas.  Sara is played by a young Jennifer Connelly.  Jareth, the Goblin King, is played by David Bowie.  Even twenty-seven years after Labyrinth’s release, this film is still quite visually appealing.  With the exception of Jennifer Connelly’s vested ensemble (which now looks a rather dated), the costumes and character design are absolutely beautiful.  Each of the goblin Muppets is unique and interesting, and David Bowie’s hair and wardrobe steal the scene nearly every time he appears.  The dream sequence, set in a masquerade ball, is particularly stunning.

Unlike films produced today, which rely heavily on computer animation for visual effects, this film uses traditional means to create their award nominated visual effects.  This is a welcome change for views who have grown accustomed to films saturated with CGI.

This film is highly recommended for tweens who enjoy the fantasy genre.  Genre: Fantasy  •  Rating: PG

1987 British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominee for Best Special Visual Effects

Lucus, G. (Executive Producer), & Henson, J. (Director). (1986). Labyrinth [Motion picture]. USA : The Jim Henson Company & Lucasfilms.

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Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Lex Luthor and the Joker have teamed up in order to destroy both of the greatest superheroes in America: Batman and Superman.  How?  Simple.  Break into the Bat-cave, steal Batman’s supply of Kryptonite, and use it to sap Superman’s super powers and destroy Batman’s gadgets. As part of their plan, Lex Luthor and the Joker have freed the super villains from Arkham to run amok in Gotham.  Now Batman and Superman, aided by the other super heroes of the Justice League, must round up the escape super villains and stop Lex Luthor and the Joker before they take over the country!

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a relatively short game.  It has only 14 levels, but players will need to play each level through at least twice (once in story mode and once in free play mode) in order to find all of the collectables.  It is notable for being the first Lego game in which the characters talk.

The fun of this game is in unlocking all of the characters and getting to play as them in free play mode and Justice League mode.  Unlockable characters include: the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, Lex Luthor, Aquaman, Cyborg, the Riddler, and many, many more!  This newest Lego Batman game is every bit as much fun as the first Lego Batman game.  If you are a fan of DC super heroes or Lego games, you will likely enjoy this excellent new Lego Batman game. Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)  •  Platform: PSVita

Lego Batman 2: DC super heroes [computer software]. (2012). United Kingdom: TT Games Publishing Ltd.

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Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

At its heart, this is the story of Anakin Skywalker’s decent into darkens, and of his ultimate redemption.  This story is set against a backdrop of starships and alien planets.  It is a classic tale of good versus evil told as an adventure in a galaxy far, far away.

This is a very long game.  It consists of 36 levels, six chapters for each of the six movies.  Each level allows players to play in three different modes.  A quick run through of each level in story mode for this review took around thirteen hours.  Expect to invest a great amount of time in order to achieve a 100% score.

This game was originally sold as two separate games for the PlayStation 2.  Each of the original games followed three of the Star Wars movies.  This version includes all six Star Wars movies.  Features have been added to augment the original games; however, the game play in this game is almost exactly like the original two games.  Gamers who have played the original games should feel no compulsion to play this game.  Gamers unfamiliar with the Star Wars Lego games are highly encouraged to give this game a try, especially if they are fans of the Star Wars movies!  This is a highly enjoyable game that will give the player hour and hours of fun.

The only major disappointment in this game is that they nerfed Yoda making what had been the best Jedi in the original PS2 game nearly unbearable to play. Rating: E (Everyone)  •  Platform: PS3

Lego Star Wars: the complete saga [computer software]. (2007). San Francisco, CA : LucasArts.

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Little Big Planet

videogame

The plot of this game is simple: you are a sack boy who is traveling around the world.  On your journey you meet seven creator curators, one on each continent.  Each creator curator has a job for you to do, and you travel through the levels helping the residences of little big planet.

There are objects, such as stickers, tools, and materials, hidden through out each level.  As you go, you collect these things and can uses them to dress up your sack boy, decorate your pod, or even create new levels that people can play online.  There are thousands of these levels made by Little Big Planet enthusiasts that you can access through the online feature of this game.  Which means that you and your sack boy can keep exploring the little big planet universe even after you finish the main story of the game.

The primary strength of this game is its brilliant design.  The game is made to look as thought the world and the characters are all made of scraps of fabric, cardboard, wood, and various odds and ends of found objects.  It is absolutely adorable.

videogame

This game can be played as a single player or multi-player game for up to four players.  Unfortunately, not all objects can be found as a single player, which can be frustrating for players who want to find all collectables, but do not have a friend who wants to play with them or a second, third, or fourth controller.  This is the about the only downside to this game.

Overall, this is an excellent game!  It is rated ‘E’ for everyone.  It is non-violent, and is thoroughly appropriate for players of any age.  Both seasoned gamers and novices will enjoy this 2009 Family Game of the Year. Rating: E (Everyone)  •  Platform: PS3

Little Big Planet [computer software]. (2009). San Diego, CA : Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

Oscar Diggs is a magician in a traveling circus.  He is known as Oz the Great and Powerful.  In fact he is not great or powerful.  He a shyster and a fraud.  Needing a quick get away, he commandeers a hot air balloon, but this is a poorly planned escape.  As soon as he gets away, his balloon is sucked into a ragging tornado.  When the storm subsides, he finds himself in new world wholly unlike the Kansas circus he left behind.

In this new country of Oz, Oscar meets a beautiful young witch named Theodora.  Theodora believes Oscar to be the great wizard that prophecy says will save the land of Oz from the wicked witch.  Can a shyster, a con artist, a fraud be the great wizard?  How can he save Oz without any real magic?

Oz the Great and Powerful is a brilliant addition to Oz lore.  Fans of the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, will be delighted with this prequel.  It stays true to the feel of the beloved movie.  Fans of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books will also find this movie enchanting.  While this movie draws more heavily from the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz than from the classic books, elements of the books that have been included are absolutely delightful!  Far and away, the most interesting element drawn from the books was the inclusion of the porcelain city that Dorothy visited in one of her many adventures in Oz.

This is a visually stunning movie with a delightful story.  Perfect for young movie goers and the young at heart. Genre: Fantasy  •  Rating: PG

Roth, J. (Producer), & Raimi, S. (Director). (2013). Oz the Great and Powerful [Motion picture]. USA : Walt Disney Pictures.

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Rise of the Gaurdians

movie

In the middle of the night, under a full moon, a young man rises out of a frozen pond.  The Man in the Moon christens him: Jack Frost.  Jack Frost roams the world unseen by anyone.  He draws intricate frost patterns on windows and enjoys creating innocent havoc in wintery weather.

In the North Pole, century after Jack rises, a dark shadow passes over Santa Clause’s globe.  The message is clear, this dark shadow, specter of the Boogieman, threatens to terrify children around the globe.  Santa Clause gathers the guardians of children: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman.  But to fight this threat, the gaurdians must recruit the unwilling Jack Frost to join the fight to save the children.

Rise of the Gaurdians  is a movie that encourages the child-like belief in magic.  The beautiful design of this movie immediately grabs the viewer and creates a world in which magic is possible!  While the characters are familiar figures, they have been designed in new and innovative ways that bring these icons to life in a way no other movie does.  Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny have been re-imagined as fighters and the Tooth Fairy is a woman/humming bird hybrid covered in an array of beautifully incandescent feathers.  Rise of the Guardians has humor and plenty of action.  It is a really good movie, well worth watching. Genre: Fantasy  •  Rating: PG

2013 Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Film

Bernstein, N. (Producer), & Ramsey, P. (Director). (2012). Rise of the Gaurdians [Motion picture]. USA : Dream Works Animation Studios.

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Wreck-it Ralph

Thirty years after the game ‘Fix-it Felix Jr.’ was first plugged in, Wreck-it Ralph has grown tired of always being the bad guy.  Everyday he wrecks the building.  Everyday Felix fixes the building.  While the people who live in the building love Felix and shower him with praise, with medals, and with pies, Ralph is despised and made to live alone in the dump.

When Ralph is left out of the Fix-it Felix Jr. 30th anniversary party, he goes ‘turbo’.  He leaves his game in search of a metal to prove that he is a hero too.

After Ralph leaves, Felix and the people of the building realize how important Ralph really is.  Without Ralph to wreck the building, Felix cannot fix it.  Felix must now follow Ralph through ‘Hero’s Duty’ and ‘Sugar Rush’ to help bring Ralph home before Fix-it Felix Jr. is unplugged forever!

Wreck-it Ralph is an excellent movie with something for everyone.  It is a heartwarming story of two people longing to be heroes, and their journey to help each other find their rightful place in the world, but it is also filled with plenty of humor and adventure.  The animation is perfectly suited for this story!  Disney has done a wonderful job of melding sleek modern computer animation with a clever use pixilation as a motif to gives the feel of the classic arcade games in which this adventure is set.  Gamers will enjoy the inclusion of classic game characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Q-Bert, and Packman.  This is a highly enjoyable movie, perhaps the best animated film of 2012.  It is highly recommended for children of all ages, especially gamers! Rating: PG

2013 Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Picture

Spencer, C. (Producer), & Moore, R. (Director). (2012). Wreck-it Ralph [Motion picture]. USA : Walt Disney Animation Studios.


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