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Review: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

pee wee big holiday posterPee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

PG / 90 min

Adventure / Comedy

Starring: Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox

Director: John Lee


It’s been almost fifteen years since the quirky Pee-wee Herman took to the small screen for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  Actor and comedian Paul Ruebens has had small roles as Pee-wee here and there since then but the quirky and sometimes absurd character has been on hiatus for a while.  It’s almost felt like there wasn’t going to be another Pee-wee movie.  Leave it to Netflix to bring an old nostalgic property to the small screen.  Pee-wee has come out of retirement…to take a holiday in the new family-friendly comedic romp Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, only on Netflix.

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via Collider

Were fans calling for another Pee-wee movie?  I’m sure there were some fans hungry for another adventure with Pee-wee but it’s hard to say.  When Netflix announced that they were making a full-length Pee-wee movie I was like, “okay, let’s see what they can do with it.”  Not so surprisingly, Paul Ruebens still has it.  Despite his age, he slid right into the role of Pee-wee Herman perfectly.  He’s got the goofy laugh and rocks the numerous facial emotions that will instill nostalgic feelings in any die-hard fan.  He even has the looks.  I swear Paul Ruebens just does not age.

For his latest adventure, Pee-wee decides to step out of his comfort zone and go on a road trip to New York City.  Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is the inclusion of Joe Manganiello who plays himself in the movie.  In a bout of destiny, Joe meets up with Pee-wee at his café and inspires him to travel to New York City to attend his big birthday bash at his penthouse.  There’s a big hilarious bromance that brews between the two that can get a little weird at times.  Paul Ruebens and Joe Manganiello seem like the unlikely duo to star in a comedy but the two work well together and provide most of the feature’s laughs.

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via Coming Soon

We only really see Joe at the beginning and end of the film, so the bulk of the comedy has its spotlight on crazy Pee-wee.  Since this is a comedy of the road-trip variety, don’t expect Pee-wee’s first vacation to go smoothly.  He runs into a female trio of thieves that kidnap Pee-wee, kicking off his journey with a bang.  Pee-wee also runs into a farmer who has a whole handful of daughters that instantly gain interest in Pee-wee.  Not to be outdone, there’s also a community of Amish people that welcome Pee-wee into their home.  Pee-wee’s journey is never uneventful and it’s full of wacky surprises.  He eventually makes it to New York, only to get himself into more foolish shenanigans.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday has a short run-time, clocking in at about an hour and thirty minutes, but Pee-wee’s antics start to wear thin as the film goes on.  Nostalgia takes the humor for a good while but even that can’t keep it floating for too long.  The humor might work well with the younger crowd, but it just doesn’t work that well in today’s day and age.  Pee-wee’s brand of comedy had its time and place but I’m not sure it flies these days.  The movie has its moments that made for some genuine knee-slappers, but I wanted to laugh more…I really did.

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via Nerd Report

The movie’s production value didn’t really help its cause either.  It was from the film’s first moments that I instantly realized director John Lee was working with a slim budget.  Normally I don’t mind low budget comedies, but there were scenes were I just laughed because of how silly they looked.  There’s a scene where Pee-wee is flying through the air and yeesh…it didn’t look too good.

Fans of Paul Rueben and Pee-wee will probably enjoy the serviceable comedy that is Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.  It operates a lot on nostalgia for the character, as well as the bromance between Pee-wee and Joe Mangianello.  However, it’s a road trip comedy that wears its welcome and starts to burn out.  Luckily Pee-wee made it to New York before the comedy started blow it’s tires, because that would have put a bad cap on an otherwise serviceable trip.

pee wee big holiday score

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A More Genuine Video Game Award Show

Over the past couple of years, video game award shows have been anything but special, or entertaining for that matter.  They have mostly been a bunch of PR babble and celebrities paid to act like they actually play and enjoy video games.  Spike TV has been the channel that has hosted the video game award shows over the past couple of years, but that was not the case for this year.

Geoff Keighley, a video game journalist of GametrailersTV fame, was the brains behind a new type of award show.  One that was independent, and free from TV.  It would be an award show for the gamers, run by gamers.  The industry would play a big part in them.  Thus, for the first time ever, The Game Awards was brought to life as an internet only broadcast, taking place at the AXIS Theater in Las Vegas.

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Numerous members of the industry, as well as journalists and fans alike, crowded the theater to watch the inaugural year of the award show.  For the first year, the show actually felt genuine, and not fake.  (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the audience cheer heard on the live stream was fake).  The Game Awards did a lot of good things, and they took some steps in the right direction.

However, after forty minutes and only one award handed out, you know there are still some problems that hover over the show.  The show had more of an E3 vibe to it than an award show.  There were countless “World Premieres” as developers showed off their newest trailers and sneak at games to come in the future.  There were some cool announcements here and there (including some new ones) but they mostly got tiresome as we hit the later parts of the show.  The show also lasted a whopping three hours.  It was a little on the long side, and their seemed to be a lot of filler that clogged up the show in between.

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With that being said, how about we actually get to some of the stuff that took place during the show…

The ceremony kicked off with a pretty neat musical performance by Koji Kondo, one of the main music composers at Nintendo.  He played the piano as Mario appeared on the big screens behind him.  It was a cool little retro homage to the early days of gaming.  Then Reggie Fils-Aime (the President of Nintendo of America), the crowd favorite, came out to start the show.  He then directed our attention to a video that had Shigeru Miyamoto highlighting some of Nintendo’s biggest releases coming next year, including the likes of Majora’s MaskMario Maker, and Star Fox for the Wii U.  The show was off to a good start.

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Kiefer Sutherland, who was the voice of Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, came out to introduce the mastermind behind the series, Hideo Kojima.  Sutherland’s presence was actually a nice surprise.  His little talk about where games have come was even better.  Kojima gave us a little sneak peek at the new Metal Gear Online.  The little trailer showed some of the tactical strategies you can employ as a team to carry out your mission.  The game looks beautiful, but the online components don’t seem like they fit the Metal Gear style.

After that, we then got our first award of the night, which went to Trey Parker for Best Performance in a Game.  Trey Parker did a ton of voices for the game South Park Stick of Truth.  The best part about the whole thing was Tim Schafer, the presenter of the award, who cracked some jokes about the fake nature of past video game award shows.  It was actually pretty funny and clever.

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It was then Fullbright, a small independent studio known for their hit game Gone Home, who took the stage to give everybody a surprise teaser for their new game Tacoma.  Coming in 2016, the game looks like it has an retro art-deco atmosphere to it.  If it’s anything like Gone Home, it should be pretty interesting.

Then there were more announcements and sneak peeks, which was slowly becoming the theme of the show.  We got a look at Bloodborne, a PlayStation exclusive RPG that borrows a lot from the Dark Souls games.  We also got an announcement of Banner Saga 2.

Some other highlights of the show included EA’s Peter Moore, who came up to announce Hazelight Studios, a new development team working on a next-gen game.  We got a little teaser, but it only showcased two men on a train car looking off into the distance.  Nothing much, but still intriguing.  We also got a cool laser light musical performance that showcased some old video game music of yore.  It was weird, but a good kind of weird.

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Nintendo was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards by the end.  They won Best Fighting Game for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Best Developer, as well as Best Sports/Racing Game for Mario Kart 8.  They also ended the show with an exclusive look at the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U.  The sneak peek showcased some of the open world traversal features that they were working on, as well as the scope of the game itself.  The game looked pretty, and the fans loved it as well.  Nintendo had a great night at the awards.

Probably one of the best moments of the show was when the Industry Icon award was handed out.  The new award was designed to honor icons in the industry who have put in a lot of work to get them to where they are today.  It was Sierra, the studio behind classics such as Kings Quest, that got the spotlight.  The founders of the studio, Ken Williams and Roberta Williams, received the award.  There was a video that showcased some of the work that the two worked on, featuring some of the history of the studio.  The two really deserved it.  They also brought out some developers working on the revival of the series, aptly named Kings Quest.  They gave us a look at the stylistic 3D re-imagining of the series.  Some thought that this game took the prize for game of the show.

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Some other notable awards included Best Shooter, which surprisingly went to Far Cry 4, Best Indie Game, which went to Shovel Knight, and Best Handheld/Mobile Game, which went to Hearthstone.  However, the award of the show, Game of the Year, was saved for the end.  Geoff Keighley came out on stage and announced the winner, which was Dragon Age Inquisition. The game, which has gotten high praise the past couple of weeks, seemed like a sure lock for the award.

The award show concluded with a nice, and surprisingly intimate, performance from Imagine Dragons.  It turns out that they are pretty big video game fans, as evidence by their performance of some of the music from the Legend of Zelda.  They were also joined by Koji Kondo, who played piano in the background.  Kondo was a good sport through it all, and it was a nice conclusion to the show.

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As I said before, the Video Game Awards 2014 was a big step in the right direction.  The show has rallied a lot of support from the industry, and it seemed like they were free of the PR antics that plagued past shows.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done however to make it spot on.  Nevertheless, the show was still entertaining after all.  But, I got tired of “World Premiere” by the end of the show.  They need to cut that stuff out.

Here’s the full list of winners from the night:

JURY VOTED

GAME OF THE YEAR: Dragon Age Inquisition

DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR: Nintendo

BEST INDEPENDENT GAME: Shovel Knight

BEST MOBILE/HANDHELD GAME: Hearthstone

BEST NARRATIVE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: Destiny

BEST PERFORMANCE: Trey Parker as Various Voices, South Park The Stick of Truth

GAMES FOR CHANGE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST REMASTER: Grand Theft Auto V

BEST SHOOTER: Far Cry 4

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE: Shadow of Mordor

BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME: Dragon Age Inquisition

BEST FIGHTING GAME: Super Smash Bros Wii U

BEST FAMILY GAME: Mario Kart 8

BEST SPORTS/RACING GAME: Mario Kart 8

BEST ONLINE EXPERIENCE: Destiny

FAN CHOICE

MOST ANTICIPATED GAME: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

ESPORTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag

ESPORTS TEAM OF THE YEAR: Ninjas In Pajamas

TRENDING GAMER: TotalBisquit

BEST FAN CREATION: Twitch Plays Pokemon

 

Why P.T. Is A Good Sign For The Future

P.T. title cardLet me start off by saying one thing…P.T. is scary and creepy as hell.  What exactly is P.T.?  Well, it was a playable teaser that was released on the PS4 to tease a new game for the PS4.  When this was announced at Gamescom, the Sony representatives were cryptic about it and they just said to go download it and play it.  It was free so I said why not and started to download it.  I usually don’t play horror games but I thought I’d give it a try.  What a frightening experience….

All you do is move through a hallway numerous times.  Each time you walk through the hallway, things get more messed up and things start taking a dark turn.  The premise is you are a man who has murdered his family.  Something like that will really mess you up psychologically.  He walks around the hallway and different things pop out at you and you see some extremely unsettling things.  There was one jump scare in particular that really made me almost jump out of my chair.  I don’t usually get scared when it comes to the horror genre but this teaser did something to me.

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Towards the end of the playable teaser, it turns into a puzzle that seems really hard to solve.  This is how Sony intended it to be.  However, being in the age of internet, the puzzle was solved real quickly.  If you got to the end and triggered the end cut-scene, you see that P.T. was actually a playable teaser for Silent Hills, the newest Silent Hill game that is coming from Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro and will star Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead fame. It was quite a surprise in numerous ways and it triggered me to think about the future of games for a little bit.  Here’s why P.T. is a good sign for the future…

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1. Hollywood is coming to games

With the revelation that Guillermo del Toro is part of the project, as well of Norman Reedus, I am starting to notice a welcoming trend that is coming to gaming.  It seems that Hollywood is starting to rear it’s head into the industry.  A lot of games are starting to bring on Hollywood talent onto their projects.  Some recent examples include Kevin Spacey and Call of Duty, Peter Dinklage and Destiny, and Camilla Luddington in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

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This is a good sign because these actors can bring a lot of life to the characters that you see in games.  They can make them more relatable and they can enhance experiences for gamers.  It’s also shows that the movie industry is really starting to recognize the video game industry as a profound entertainment medium.  With Norman Reedus being in P.T., it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of character he will play in a horror game.  The Walking Dead had some horror elements but the horror genre is a completely different animal.

2. The AAA Treatment for Horror Games

When it comes to horror games, it seems that it is a niche genre.  When you look at the release calender, there don’t seem to be too much horror games among the big titles.  Horror games tend to be made by small studios and they don’t seem to reach to the masses.  These games usually have lower budgets.  Now, this doesn’t mean that they are bad experiences, but they just don’t have the star power that Silent Hills will have.

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You can tell that P.T. has some star power behind it.  The game looked amazing. The hallways almost looked real and the objects in the environment looked genuine.  The visual detail that was put into the game really showed off the visual prowess of the PS4.  Even the lighting contributed to the experience, giving it an eerie vibe.  If more horror games get this kind of treatment in the future, the horror genre might be able to reach to a broader audience.  I myself am not a horror fan but seeing the work that was put into this game really got me hooked.  I am now interested to see how this game really turns out when Silent Hills is released.

3. The Playable Teaser might become a thing

Finally, the way Silent Hills was announced is revolutionary.  The classic way to reveal a game is to bring it to a big trade show and then show off a fancy CG trailer during the press conferences.  Don’t get me wrong, there can be some excitement behind these kinds of announcements, but it starts to become old and tired.  It’s too predictable.  What Sony did with P.T. was amazing.  They released P.T. as a playable trailer that actually was a playable trailer for the new Silent Hill game.

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It really appeals to the viral generation that we live in.  Youtubers started to live stream the teaser and that is when we all figured out the mystery that was behind the game, Silent Hills.  It was a brilliant way to announce a game and they probably ended up getting more media attention for it.  It still would have gotten good media attention if they just showed a trailer but the playable teaser got us talking for days and days after the mystery was solved.

Perhaps game developers will take notes on the success of this marketing campaign and they may start to jump on the playable teaser bandwagon.  Playable teasers offer a great way for gamers to get excited about your games and they are probably the best way to announce a game.  Plus, you can’t complain with the amount of media attention that you’ll get from them.