Tag Archive: Donkey Kong


Review by C.J. Bunce

Video game dabblers and players turn into game company entrepreneurs in Netflix’s latest retro fix, High Score, a documentary in the vein of shows like VH1’s Behind the Music and The Toys That Made Us.  Pioneer designers and creators like Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado, Nintendo’s Hirokazu Tanaka, and Atari’s Nolan Bushnell piece together a brief history of video games with an emphasis on home play in this new six-episode, limited series now streaming on Netflix.  The series goes through the development and rise of games moving from upright consoles to the television set, with Mystery House, Space Invaders, Star Fox, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Doom rising to the top as the touchstones of this modern corner of history.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In brief, it’s the best adventure, fantasy, and comedy in theaters in 2019 and a great way to begin your new year.  Jumanji: The Next Level is still packing-in theaters a little more than two weeks into its run–an alternative to the other holiday releases and guaranteed to leave you smiling at the end.  The four stars didn’t miss a beat in their return, swapping roles and adding new laughs, and the new characters inside and outside the game are perfectly matched to tell a new tale.  Two films down and Jumanji: The Next Level is now the new major adventure fantasy franchise, up there with Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Conan the Barbarian, John Carter of Mars, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy, and Indiana Jones.  Put this sequel at the top of the best of those franchises.

The studio didn’t hold back on new action sequences–inside the movie again Jumanji is the same video game of curious origin.  The new levels introduced this time increase the stakes in bigger and better ways.   A bridge-crossing scene with swarming apes and a geometric, Mario Brothers/Donkey Kong-like element is now going to be the adventure film standard to try to beat.  Sure, there are throwbacks to jungle adventures of the past, but it’s not derivative, all presented in fresh ways.  As another tour inside a video game (like Tron and Ready Player One), you’ll have the added fun of spotting video game influences (like Pitfall and Q-Bert), including a new, more difficult gauntlet.

The movie does double duty as an epic quest and rollicking comedy.  Comedians turned comedic actors Jack Black as Dr. Shelly Oberon and Kevin Hart as Mouse Finbar again are comedy gold.  Even the small bits are a scream–Hart riding and getting off a camel is a lesson in physical comedy.  They make the movie loads of fun, but straight man roles performed by Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan as in-game characters Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Ruby Roundhouse share the credit for the laughs, too.  If you’ve seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, you’d expect big comedy from the sequel.  And that’s where the writing genius comes into play, thanks to a script by writer/director Jake Kasdan and writers Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg.  How do you bring back the hour movie stars, the four young actors who played the original players (Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Alex Wolff, and Ser’Darius Blain), the rescued Alex played by Colin Hanks, and in-game characters played by Nick Jonas, and Rhys Darby without re-hashing the first movie?  You’ll have to see it to find out.  Just be prepared for some great twists and surprises.

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Space Invaders Pixels movie poster   Pixels Galaga poster

Last night Production Weekly announced the new title for the third Tron movie has been chosen:  Tron: Ascension.  Tron: Ascension will begin filming in Vancouver this October.  Oh, yeah!

Video game movies are back.  What conjures up more retro fun than 1980s arcade games?  Who didn’t have at least a few of these on their Atari 2600?  Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaga, Centipede…  This summer aliens have sent these animated pixilated weapons to cause Earth’s destruction in Pixels, a new 3D movie from Sony Pictures and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.  Think of the comedy and fantasy elements of Ghostbusters mashed up with the annihilation of the world’s landmarks, Independence Day style.  All the makings of a summer comedy blockbuster.

It’s like the reverse of Tron–instead of shrinking down to the pixel size of arcade game character Tron and playing in the Grid, the arcade video game stars are now becoming larger than life, entering our world.

Donkey Kong screen

It stars Adam Sandler (when was the last time Adam Sandler had a hit anyway?  50 First Dates?).  He joins Kevin James (King of Queens), Michelle Monaghan (Source Code, The Bourne Supremacy), and Peter Dinklage (Elf, The Station Agent, Game of Thrones) as they defend the world against… video games from space.

It’ll all make sense when you watch the first trailer for Pixels, after the break:

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