Tag: Beauty and the Beast

More YouTube Recommendations

More YouTube Recommendations

I know I basically did this exact same thing less than a week ago, so it probably seems like this is a cop-out.

But honestly just consider it a symptom of me spending the whole day cleaning the house. Don’t have too much to talk about outside of inhaling chemical fumes all afternoon, so I figure it’d be much more engaging if I talked about more content creators I’ve discovered on YouTube over the past few days that have helped make the cleaning more bearable.

That said, welcome to… That thing I just said!

Yeah. Get hyped.

While the previous ‘check out these content creators’ post I did focused primarily on people who talked about comic book lore and writing conventions in cinema, the two people I want to talk about today primarily discuss writing conventions and cinema.

But in more specific details this time around. I swear.


Lindsay Ellis

Though I initially saw her content adjacent to the Nostalgia Critic some years ago, I only just recently discovered Lindsay Ellis for her purely solo career here doing video essays.

Video essays which are wonderful and educational in all the best ways.

More than basically anyone I’ve seen before, she takes deep dives into the minutia of film studies, as well as the history and cultural influences behind media that she, primarily, seems to hate in one way or another.

Though not in a CinemaSins-style “let’s just tally up all the shitty things” kind of hate, more of an academic “here’s what works and what doesn’t” kind of hate. Which just so happens to mostly target pieces of popular culture that leave her drinking herself into more of a stupor the longer she talks about them in an unexplained but great little running gag.

Out of everything of hers I’ve seen thus far, my favorite pieces would have to be her discussion on how the live action Beauty and the Beast is terrible about remaking a classic (with additional shout outs to her other Disney-themed videos on why Hercules isn’t a huge blockbuster and why Moana was Pocahontas but better), a lengthy piece on why the Netflix Will Smith movie “Bright” was terrible, and two documentary-length multi-part series on why the Hobbit failed and how Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise can be read from a multitude of different film study disciplines.

There’s just a bunch of good stuff all around, and the sometimes dejected tone of dealing with film studio bs and expectedly horrible comment sections on videos are nice additions to really thought-provoking ideas.


Pop Culture Detective

Where Lindsay Ellis seems to approach much of her content with a clear underlying sense of love for the film industry as a whole, Pop Culture Detective takes a vastly more critical look at everything in cinema (as well as television and occasionally video games) that are problematic in relation to one subject:

Masculinity.

As a fair warning, these videos hold no punches when it comes to eviscerating popular culture for instilling often toxic values often without intending to. If you love franchises like Star Wars or actors like Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis, it may sting some to watch these sorts of analyses.

Yet, that’s clearly the point. An effective one, at that.

It’s clear throughout multiple videos that the Pop Culture Detective loved many of the movies he discusses to death as a kid. But when he began to look at them in a new light, he was able to pick apart problematic patterns that we can all learn from even if we love the original content.

More often than not I find his content most effective when it delves into those patterns which have grown throughout the history of cinema. For example, his videos on abduction and stalking as abundantly-used tropes were eye-opening in that I frankly didn’t realize just how often they are used.

His more individually-focused pieces, like a video on the backwards logic of the Jedi Order in Star Wars, are also great.

Yet he also spends time talking about more positive representation of diverse forms of masculinity, like in a video about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In fact, no matter what’s being covered, this creator clearly spends an ample amount of time looking into the subjects for their faults and what kind of effect it has on our culture, but at the same time he isn’t just blatantly negging everything and everyone in the industry.

More often than not he at least makes the aside that there likely isn’t an intent to be a bad influence, even if it sometimes comes across that way from how he otherwise presents the material.

It’s a well-balanced, educated look at film and T.V. through a lens that I don’t often see given as heavy a focus, so definitely check Pop Culture Detective out.


So those are the two content creators I wanted to introduce you all to today. Both with very different approaches at the same goal: Educating the public on more positive ways of producing film and other media.

What do you think of these two? Are you interested in the technical and theoretical sides of filmmaking?

If so, let me know in the comments! Also, if there are any creators whom you believe are worth their weight in views, let me know about them too. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more things to watch as I continue my pursuit of a clean house during these fleeting final summer days.

This feels gross… But Disney makes it right.

It’s no surprise that I’ve become a bigger fan of mobile phone games in recent years.

I’ve been a hardcore GameBoy/DS fanatic throughout my childhood. Yet, despite certain phone games of widespread popular fervor like Angry Birds or Pocket God making their way into my gaming lexicon, overall the app market never truly broke into my big leagues.

That is, until big companies I already loved like Nintendo started to get into the market with more substantial titles.

Marvel was really the first with Contest of Champions, which I played right around the time the first Ant Man movie came out. Then there was Super Mario Run, Pokémon GO, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and of course Fire Emblem Heroes. Hell, Simpson’s Tapped Out held my interest for a good while there.

However, even if the app market is getting more respectable with these kinds of big, time-intensive titles… It’s still not perfect.

Tons of games, even the ones I’ve referenced up above, still rely on gimmicky microtransaction bs that attempt to force players with no patience to spend extra money.

While many are free, to be fair, and some are even arguably worth spending money in for all the content they offer on a free model… It’s still a bit of a disgusting practice. Especially when we start to see it slip into mainstream console gaming with titles like Star Wars Battlefront II (the bad one, not the amazing PS2 one).

I bring all of this up to let you know that I recognize the flaws in the mobile gaming market despite my recent embrace of it.

Because it should give you all some context behind why I feel so disgusting with my latest embrace of Disney’s Crossy Road.

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Man I feel like I need a shower just saying that.

Yet.

Let’s be fair to the game and it’s developers before I just shit all over the whole model.

Hipster Whale, from my point of view at least, became a rather popular niche developer for the phone market by embracing the classic style of Frogger and using it to create a game full of wacky charm with Crossy Road.

It was quite literally a game where you were a chicken crossing the road. As if you were playing Frogger.

Completely silly and derivative, but honestly genius in a “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this idea” kind of way. That charm, along with about a billion unlockable characters set in a game where the goal was to obviously push little kids to spend money, led to a title that grossed well and spawned a billion spin-offs.

The games are all synonymous with that silly, microtransaction-laden gameplay of the first. I even remember the Game Grumps playing one of the spin-offs for their Christmas block last December.

Disney Crossy Road is arguably the most despicable of these spin-offs. On the one hand because it’s quite literally just the original game with a new coat of paint. But also because, well, Disney is attached to it.

If that’s not the most money-grubbing thing I can imagine, I don’t know what is.

Yet, despite seeing this much just by looking at the game’s title screen… My sister and I are hooked.

We found the game while hanging out with our friends the other day and downloaded it on our Apple TV just for the memes. At the time it was perfect for that, especially when we picked up a totally random character from a movie we loved.

But then we both downloaded the game to our phones after that. The rest, as they say, is history.

Obviously the biggest draw to this game specifically is the Disney tie-in. Collecting characters from your favorite movies to play with.

Especially toward the beginning, it’s all fun and games as they clearly give you large rewards on a frequent basis to keep summoning new characters from a slot machine.

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It’s about as blatant as psychological manipulation gets, as soon enough the “three minutes to next reward” becomes “one hour to next reward,” and so on.

Yet there’s also enough ways to get around spending money that I can inherently understand the appeal.

Coins are scattered throughout each procedurally-generated run, and collecting 100 of them allows you to roll for a new character.

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The game also frequently gives players 30-second advertisements to watch for a free 20 coins. More obvious manipulation, but easy enough to set the game aside for half a minute just to score some extra cash.

My one significant problem with the lottery system comes from the fact that you aren’t guaranteed to unlock something new each time. Even when I had only unlocked about six characters out of the near-200 across a variety of popular Disney movies, I still got a second copy of The Sultan from Aladdin.

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They do give you other collectible tickets for duplicates that can be spent on things like higher-end character lotteries, but still. I can tell it’ll be more annoying in the long-run.

Also, I just have to say it. There are also some really bad character designs. Like the single-pixel butt and breasts model of Mirage.

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And don’t even get me started on Simba’s hilarious facial expression.

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Some lame characters aside, the gameplay is simple and effective. Like I said, it’s just Frogger. But with Disney characters.

You tap to go forward and swipe to move from side-to-side and avoid obstacles.

Yet Disney Crossy Road actually stands out quite well because of how it utilizes it’s gimmick, in my opinion. There’s clearly a large amount of effort put in to make each world and each character unique to the movies they came from.

Just look at the variety in the different environments you can play on:

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Each movie set not only brings aesthetic elements into this kind of janky Minecraft style, they also have unique mechanics.

For example, the Mulan world has a lucky cricket drop that can save you from death once.

The Lilo & Stitch world is covered with fruits that can be collected and turned into an old lady to add extra points to your run length without you having to actually go those extra steps.

The Jungle Book world is literally always on fire because of frequent lightning strikes.

There’s something like this in every world, and while the same three or four overall level gimmicks do repeat themselves, each is unique enough to stand out.

Characters have unique skills as well.

The Grand Councilwoman from Lilo and Stitch can find a special Prisoner Jumba character of she travels far enough.

Meanwhile, Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph shoots her gun at certain cars in the road to give you a big score multiplier. You can’t control when she does it, but still.

There’s also a certain amount of charm seeing each and every character face plant against the side of a car (or a person depending on the technology of a given world).

The music in the game is also noteworthy. Each movie’s world utilizes a famous song recreated in a pretty great chiptune style. Beauty and the Beast plays “Be Our Guest.” Aladdin plays “One Jump Ahead.” Lion King plays “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”

I do wish some songs appeared over others, like “This is Halloween” instead of “What’s This?” for Nightmare before Christmas. But that’s a nitpicky complaint all things being equal.

Despite being repeated in such a short segment to become ear-grating over time, all of the songs are well-constructed. The game itself pushes its own soundtrack, and I’d argue its worth downloading.

There’s only 23 worlds in the game, with some obvious choices like Sleeping Beauty or Hercules missing in place of obvious lame tie-ins like the Tim Burton Alice Through the Looking Glass. But, and I hate to say it, I’m interested to keep going and see if they add more down the line.

I know, I know. This strange review of Disney Crossy Road is out of left field. Especially when I haven’t even written anything on Hollow Knight, like I wanted to.

Hell, it just frankly feels wrong for me to be spending time on this obvious microtransaction bait of a game when there’s some phenomenal titles I could be playing. Like the aforementioned Hollow Knight. Or Enter the Gungeon.

Or hey, I heard that Subset Games’ Into the Breach is available on Macs down and I’m so down to try it.

But no. Instead I’m here playing Disney Crossy Road.

I guess in the end this post is sort of here to try to justify all of the time I’ve spent playing this the last couple of days. As if it were my plan all along.

But the truth is that it wasn’t my plan all along. I’ve genuinely jumped into this game with both feet, and I’m weirdly enjoying it a lot.

Just going through this short analysis of the game has shown me that maybe it isn’t just a weird anomaly. The game does have its merits, particularly in aesthetic and musical aspects.

So hey, who knows. Maybe Hipster Whale is as popular as it is for a reason.

But what do you think? Have you played this game before? Or any title in this developer’s line-up?

Let me know how you feel about them, or about this game specifically, in the comments down below!