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“Every revolution begins with a spark.”

The last time we saw Katniss Everdeen (aka the master at archery and screaming) and Peeta Mellark (aka that other guy) was when they had outlived twenty-two other tributes and been crowned the victors of the 74th Hunger Games. Instead of returning to their families, they must go on a Victory Tour across all of Panem, district by district. But before she goes, Katniss meets up with President Snow (aka the bad Santa guy), who tells her that her defiance of the Capitol (aka Richpeople Land) has brewed a rebellion among the districts, and Snow wants these tensions soothed and simmered.

When Katniss fails to do so, it triggers the 75th Hunger Games, or the third Quarter Quell. These occur every twenty five years, and this Quell’s special rule is that all tributes will be selecting from the existing group of victors. Katniss’ mentor Haymitch (the drunk guy) believes that alliances are the key to survival, so she teams up with district four tributes Mags and Finnick. But little does Katniss know that Snow wants her dead and done, and the Quell will do nothing more than push Team Mockingjay’s limits as new obstacles are thrown at them by the hour. And as usual, anyone can die. “Tick tock.”

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THIS GIRL IS ON FIRRRRREEEoh and the guy too

I think this movie followed the novel way more closely than the original. I watched the original Hunger Games film sometime back and was rather disappointed upon seeing that it took over an hour for the actual Games to begin. I mean, the Games didn’t start automatically in Collins’ version, but at least she kept it interesting! Catching Fire gets you straight into the action as the violent undertone of the film is tenderized with lots of public action and drama before the Quell starts. And when it does start, we get thrown into a great big thrill fest with people dying left and right and the brand new environments of the Arena. I was particularly near the edge of my seat for the whole shebang, especially when stuff starting getting emotional nearing the cliffhanger ending. Character development went by strongly and maturely.

But here’s my biggest pet peeve with the movie–it introduces new characters that you have absolutely no idea who they are unless you’ve read Catching Fire or done some wiki research. C’mon, does it kill to include a little exposition? The most challenging part of a film series is the midpoint, because you have to top the previous film while setting up the next film. When you fail to do this (à la Saw, The Santa ClauseCars, etc.), you have been diagnosed with sequelitis. But when you go out of your way to do this (à la Empire Strikes BackTwo Towers, Aliens, etc.), you manage to sidestep the disease. Catching Fire definitely avoided sequelitis; while still containing the emotional grip and thought-provokers of the original, the Quell adds something new to the dinner table. And boy, does it taste good.

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L to R: The fashionista’s fashionista, the one black guy, her, the drunk guy, the big-ego guy.

Presentation: From the nasty blisters Katniss receives from the poisonous fog to Katniss’ Mockingjay dress, Catching Fire‘s visuals are very proficient and spot-on. It looks so realistic as Team Mockingjay is attacked by mutt apes and tossed around like ragdolls on a spinning Arena. There’s a lot of glamour and spectacle during the interviews, and all of this makes for some very sweet eye candy. (★★★★★)

Acting: Let’s see, Katniss does a lot of screaming and gets hurt a lot, Peeta almost dies several times, Effie still has an ego almost as big as her hair, Cinna speaks a couple of sentences, Haymitch is the drunk comic relief you can’t help but love, Caesar has that annoying laugh, Mags doesn’t talk at all, Finnick becomes the new Peeta, Peacekeepers don’t like big scenes, Johanna speaks her mind, Prim’s a bit more mature now, Snow is vague as usual, and Wiress may or may not be insane. Yeah. (★★★ 1/2)

Writing: When it comes to a well-written story, Catching Fire delivers that more or less. But is the screenplay Oscar-worthy? Can you follow along without even trying? Well, it’s not necessarily Oscar bait, and you have to read the book to really follow along. Other than that, the script is actually pretty good. We can feel for Katniss each time she begins one of her emotional downfalls (which happens very frequently), but if you haven’t read the book Snow and head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee will be very vague characters to you. You probably won’t know their grim plans for Katniss if they danced in front of you on fire wearing Christmas lights. At least the Quell scenes are pretty well-scripted. (★★★★)

Now if you do the math (12.5 stars divided by 15 total times out of 10) and some rounding, you’ll know that I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire an eight out of ten.

THREE WORD CONSENSUS: Follows book better.

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Well, that’s all for this post! Be sure to subscribe if you’re now, shoot an arrow through that like button, and share it to your buddies on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more! But for now, stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak this Christmas sea–oh gosh, Christmas. I have to think about what I’m gonna do for the Christmas special this year! Uh, trust me, it’ll be good.

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: “VIRAL SONG” by Tobuscus. It teaches you how to make a viral video in music form! Over a million views in under a week. Impressive, and also kind of ironic if you watch the ending. “Did you know that cashews come from a fruit?”

Here’s the runner up.

Here’s me dominating the Flower Cup.



Hey guys it’s Sam. Back in late 2010, I created a series called Joke Time, where I told Q&A jokes, clever puns, knock knock jokes, and yo mama jokes. It lasted for three episodes over three months before it officially ended. Now I want to have my own diverse segment in something of a homage to that series, but it doesn’t have anything to do with jokes. It’s about trivia. Y’see, I don’t know lots of information, but I know one heck of a lot of trivia! This week’s episode has been made centric to a lone topic: SpongeBob. Now, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to see Nick’s porous pal like never before!

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  • Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, says he came up with his character’s voice after he heard the yell of an angry dwarf.
  • Each character on SpongeBob has their own unofficial age–for example, Krabs is “seventy” and SpongeBob is “twenty-six”.
  • The thing is, although SpongeBob would’ve been “thirteen” by the series premiere, he is old enough to be in driver’s ed and to be finding his own job.
  • SpongeBob was originally called SpongeBoy, but the name was changed after the original was found out to be already trademarked (BY A MOP!). The “Sponge” was kept in because Hillenburg feared some kids would mistake for a talking piece of cheese.
  • Karen, Plankton’s WIFE (wired integrated female electroencephalograph), was named after the wife of series creator Stephen Hillenburg. She is also voiced by Jill Talley, Tom Kenny’s wife.
  • Stephen Hillenburg first came up with the idea for the series due to his time as a marine biologist. He pitched his idea to Nickelodeon by bringing a fish tank into the board room, explaining what was living inside it. He then dropped a drawing of SpongeBob inside, and said, “This is SpongeBob, the star of your new show.”
  • Hillenburg came up with the idea for the show in 1984, but only began work on it in 1996 after Rocko’s Modern Life (a 90s Nick cartoon) was cancelled.
  • The Krusty Krab’s siren is identical to the siren in The Shawshank Redemption.
  • Coincidentally, Clancy Brown–the voice of Krabs–was in the said movie.
  • Once, Spike TV attempted to convince Hillenburg to create an adult version of SpongeBob for their adults-only animated block. The show would be very similar to Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, but Hillenburg knew what was right and turned down the offer. Luckily, Ren & Stimpy APC only survived for the entire summer of 2003 before being cancelled.
  • Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy’s Invisible Boatmobile isn’t actually a boat–it’s a 1959 Cadillac.
  • The Krabby Patty was originally called the Barnacle Burger according to concept art.
  • While Hillenburg was a director of Rocko, he showed writer Martin Olson a comic book called The Intertidal Zone which he had made in college. Olson raved about the comic and suggested he turn it into an underwater cartoon show, which became SpongeBob.
  • SpongeBob‘s first season was the only season to use traditional cel animation. When season two started, they began digital inking, painting, and editing. I guess that’s one of the reasons why the second season was the best season.
  • The show is known for having a French narrator, and this was inspired by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who influenced Hillenburg’s interest in marine biology.
  • Coincidentally, Cousteau studied aquatic life himself, but passed away two years before SpongeBob began.
  • Each main character on SpongeBob could actually be based off of one deadly sin. Krabs is greed, Plankton is envy, Patrick is sloth, Sandy is pride, Squidward is wrath, Gary is gluttony, and SpongeBob is lust. No, not sexual desire, but a passionate desire. In this case, for the affections of friend and foe, but generally for life. Carpe diem, baby!
  • Much like SpongeBob, Hillenburg once worked as a seafood restaurant fry cook.
  • SpongeBob was given a pineapple to live in since it is a common motif in Polynesian crafts, and Hillenburg thought he’d like the smell of pineapple. Well, considering sea animals look at smelling as a very vital sense.
  • Despite Squidward having six legs, he is an octopus. No, it’s not because Octoward didn’t roll off the tongue–it’s because animators thought that giving him eight legs would have a burdened look for him.
  • Tom Kenny also voices Dog on CatDog (another 90s Nick cartoon) and the Mayor of Townsville on Powerpuff Girls.
  • Stephen Hillenburg notes that although the Krabby Patty formula is still very secret, it may be vegetarian. If it had meat, some Bikini Bottomites would be cannibals!
  • SpongeBob is actually helping the NYC Department of Environmental Protection by promoting water conservation using the slogan, “Save water–don’t drip New York dry!”
  • Despite the show being underwater, SpongeBob more closely resembles a kitchen sponge than a sea sponge, since that wouldn’t work well for a cartoon character. If he was a sea sponge, he’d look like this:

  • Hillenburg also thought that SpongeBob wouldn’t make it to a season two, but it is already on its ninth season today!
  • In 2007, President Obama told TV Guide that SpongeBob was his favorite cartoon character, since he watched the show with his daughters.
  • In Korea, SpongeBob is known as Square Square Sponge.
  • The show’s iconic theme song was inspired by a sea shanty called “Blow the Man Down”.
  • Doug Lawrence, the voice of Plankton, also voices Larry the Lobster and Johnny the fish head.
  • The episode “SpongeBob’s Last Stand” was released on Earth Day 2010.
  • The said episode was also initially SpongeBob‘s series finale, but despite that the show creators saw that they could steal the “longest running Nicktoon” title from Rugrats and kept going.
  • Two years later, SpongeBob finally accomplished its mission when it aired its 173rd episode “Squiditis”. (Rugrats only lasted for 172 episodes.)
  • SpongeBob actually inspired the name of a fungus species: Spongiforma squarepantsii.
  • Much like ShrekSpongeBob received a 4D “movie” found at places including Sea World and Nick Suites Resort.
  • It only lasted for four minutes while Shrek 4D lasted sixteen.
  • In April 2013, a prequel 4D movie called The Great Jelly Rescue premiered at Nick Family Suites.
  • The SpongeBob film will be receiving a late 2014 sequel directed by executive producer Paul Tibbitt.
  • The sequel’s budget shouldn’t be surpass $100 million.
  • SpongeBob has created a merchandising revenue of $8 billion for Nick.

I hope you can look at SpongeBob in a new light now! Anyway, be sure to tune in next Friday at 1:00 PM EST for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: A couple days before Halloween 2011, our good friend Toby Turner (aka Tobuscus) began a cartoon series known as Tobuscus Adventures starring him and his friend Gabuscus with crisp animation from Gonzossm. The series garnered 34.7 million hits for Toby, but then a little thing called YouTube Comedy Week showed up. To celebrate, Toby and Gabe were put in a brand new environment like never before–a zombie apocalypse. This episode debuted the show’s new animation technique, the inclusion of Toby’s dog Gryphon, and Toby’s biggest project yet: a Tobuscus Adventures mobile game. Well, you gotta watch the video to find out more!



Hey guys it’s Sam. To start off, I am super sorry about the delay on Monday. I got back from a weekend in Illinois and didn’t have anything scheduled for today, so I decided to postpone. I hope you’ll forgive me. Anyway, today marks the pilot of my brand new segment, Paranoid Android! What? …The heck you mean you don’t know what a paranoid android is? It’s a song by Radiohead, obviously! Haven’t you heard of OK Computer? Anyway, the meaning of the title not only is a blatant Radiohead reference, but it also ties in with the fact that these reviews come straight from an Android smart-phone. An LG Optimus Elite W powered by Virgin Mobile, to be exact. Consider this to be iNSiDE iPhone 2.0. If you don’t know what iNSiDE iPhone is, you clearly aren’t a long-time Sammwak fan. It was an old old old (like 2010 old) segment on Sammwak, one of my first, where I reviewed games I played on my brother’s fancy-schmancy iPhone. The segment was brimming with purposely awful grammar (i.e.: “rly”) and somewhat wise pro-tips, and survived a stunning eight episodes using a traditional Sammwak algorithm. Think of Paranoid Android as something short of a rebirth.

Anyway, today we’re reviewing a sequel to an old favorite of mine. An app that showed just how much the iPhone could do with its touch screen capabilities, more than Angry Birds could ever do.

When Om Nom is marveling over his candy, a time machine magically shows up and sucks in his companion of confectionery. When our little munchkin goes into the time machine, he meets several different versions of himself–his ancestors, I should say. When Om Nom and his fellow fathers get together and plot some strategic feeding techniques, Cut the Rope Time Travel is born. Now, this sequel expands greatly on the original CTR and Experiments. It does not require the reflexes of CTR, nor the intellectual mastery of Experiments–it uses a puree of the two. CTR Time Travel is such a unique entry into the series since it uses new elements that turn the tables on your side a bit. These include (but are surely not limited to) chains n’ blades, the freeze button (tap it to stop time), and rockets perfect for carrying candy and blades around. These new strategies totally change the game and make those three stars much more harder to acquire as you must feed both Om Nom and his ancestor. The game has six worlds for the six different ancestors of Om Nom:

  • The Middle Ages - The new Om Nom in this world wears a viking helmet and a traditionally long ‘do. This level focuses primarily on the use of bubbles (candy encased in these automatically rise upward), the chain-blade algorithm, and timing. They are awfully easy to begin with, but get harder as they progress and really make you think about what ropes to cut. Overall, it’s still pretty easy–a nice way to kick off the game.

  • The Renaissance - The Om Nom in this world wears a typical Italian mustache-goatee combo, and a good old feather hat. This level focuses primarily on the freeze button, as well as the occasional chain-blade and the brand-new physics of the stretched rope (you know it’s stretched when it turns red). This one is surprisingly tougher than the first world, as it requires almost nothing but sheer timing skills to get candy at the right point in frozen time and/or stop it from being shattered by spikes. No, but 2-15, the last level–that one’s a killer.

  • Pirate Ship - This ancestor of Om Nom’s wears a fancy pirate hat and a traditional pirate ‘stache. This level deals a lot with not only the freeze button and bubbles, but also the new “mini bomb”. Whenever candy touches one of these, it automatically explodes and gives the candy some big air. Also, “bouncy platforms” were introduced to give candy a little spring in their steps. The trajectory physics of this world are absolutely astounding, wired down to the very last detail. Without the advantages of matter and energy, the levels really make you think and only pass with some trial and error. Trust me, I should know.

  • Ancient Egypt - This ancestor wears nothing but a good old pharaoh hat. Anyway, this world introduces what I like to call “the flying snitch”–a candy with wings that goes wherever your regular candy goes. When a regular candy is eaten, the snitch loses its wings and its powers. If there’s one word I can use to describe this world, it has to be physics. The precise physics of this world can navigate the snitch through tricky and perilous situations–even a box outlined with spikes! This world also makes some good use of the stretched-rope physics as well, and this world also incorporates the methods of taking it slow. When flung too quickly, a snitch can easily get shattered in a line of spikes, but can make it through when navigated slowly enough.

  • Ancient Greece - This ancestor wears a crown of leaves and what looks like a medal, as if he’s an Olympian. This is probably the best of the six I’ve played. Since it is a Greek world, stone platforms are incorporated to switch between the two Om Noms. And if you think it couldn’t get better, you’re wrong! This world introduces PORTALS! Drop a candy in one portal, it comes out the other. Simple physics. Oh, and these portals come in green and blue, so they correspond depending on their colors. Precise techniques and clever physics fun are abundant in world five, and this is probably the one I had the most trouble with. Yeah, to the point where I used online cheats. Hey, don’t arrest me! This just proves that the level really gets you thinking and can only be passed by true CTR prodigies as myself.

  • The Stone Age - This ancestor is a plump caveman with a bone in his hair and a single buck tooth. The sixth and as of now final world in CTR Time Travel (because every CTR promises “new levels coming soon”) tests you the most, seeing if you’ve really picked up anything from the past five worlds. This one pulls out all the stops, incorporating rockets (used for transporting candy and blades out and about), the freeze button, portals, and the brand-new sun dial, used for adjusting things to their correct spots from portals to candies. This world is not only fun and creative, but very logical and advanced. Only true CTR masters hold the title of defeating this world, and it quite literally isn’t rocket science. Of course, I can’t say much, since I’m–er–still working on the level…

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CTR Time Travel is an innovative doozy that shines Om Nom in a new light and changes his game forever, using stellar physics and unique gaming techniques that are ultimately worth checking out. However, the game does have some downside–it has an annoying tendency to freeze at the loading screen, which not only slows down the game pace but often prohibits you from playing any longer until you reboot the phone, which we all know is no fun. Also, I find it cantankerous how once a candy leaves the screen, one of the 2 Om Noms stares at you with that awfully cute sad-look instead of enjoying their candy. It also grinds my gears that whenever I play the first world, it shows me that little intro every time. Luckily, that’s why ZeptoLab created the ability to skip with a single tap.

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I give Cut the Rope Time Travel 9 Om Noms out of 10. Well, thanks for joining me on Paranoid Android. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got another post to make.

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8)

P.S. Oh, did-ja-hear? Sammwak has its own official Google+ page! Follow it to get up-to-date breaking news about Sammwak and a special hint about the next episode! Follow us here:

https://plus.google.com/107318780574909420529/posts

Video of the Week: Alright, let’s just leave it at one this time. Two is too chaotic. This one got put up by our good friend Toby Turner back on Tuesday. In the third edition of his “Trapped in an Ad” series, Toby wakes up super-late at 1 PM and rushes against the clock while being persuaded by the voice that’s narrating his bad afternoon to eat two flavors of Limited Edition Hot Pockets: Spicy Beef Nacho and Cuban Style. If you’re a seasoned veteran, you know that Toby actually put up his own hilarious Hot Pockets “ad” which was used to advertise Hot Pockets via Facebook. How could you not, I even put it up that one time! Anyway, enjoy this video.

 



Get Ur Game Face On was kinda cheesy, so I decided to make it Game Face instead. Anyway, last month was my birthday (insert applause) and my good friend ND gave me a video game for a present for the 2nd year in a row. Last year he gave me De Blob 2 (which I made a review for), and this year he gave me something that totally outshines that game. Something I’ve been interested in ever since it was announced. Something so epic, it changed my entire concept of how I look at fighting games. Actually, it wasn’t that epic, but it was pretty awesome. Anyway, this game is a true pioneer for its genre in terms of content, providing a unique gaming experience that kept my brother and I playing for hours. To awkwardly change the subject, Capcom is no stranger to crossovers. They’ve buddied up with Namco, SNK, and Marvel over the past few years, and now they’re going where no series has gone before.

Vega battles with Raven at the Jurassic Era Research Facility. Behind Vega and Raven’s lifebars are those of their teammates, Balrog and Yoshimitsu (respectively).

The second partnership between Namco and Capcom, Street Fighter X Tekken (aka SFXTK) made its public debut in 2010 as an upcoming Darkstalkers game, but was woven into a crossover between two of the fighting genre’s biggest progenitors. Street Fighter made huge waves in the industry for Capcom and Nintendo in 1991 when Street Fighter II became one of the Super Nintendo’s biggest hits. 3 years later, Tekken made its debut for the arcade and original PlayStation, becoming Namco’s biggest streak of fame since Pac-Man. The game’s playing field is very similar to Street Fighter IV with some several notable modifications made, the biggest being that the game allows players to pick teams of two for a tag team match with a tag-in-tag-out style. As a result of this, the game also incorporates a Cross Gauge which works similarly to the EX Gauge of SFIV and allows teams to do “Cross Arts”, basically the game’s Ultra Combos.  For the first time since Street Fighter III, Super Arts appear in the game as the replacement for both Super and Ultra Combos, requiring two Cross Gauge bars to pull off (or you can Super Charge certain moves). Speaking of pulling things off, this game has a staggeringly deep storyline that even I wouldn’t have expected.

One of the biggest motifs within SFXTK is Pandora. Pandora is a celestial, cubical object that fell from space into Antarctica like the Russian meteor. The object is an object of no known origin and has left even the wisest of researchers baffled over its purpose. The only thing Pandora is capable of is releasing energy whenever two people come into conflict over the object, giving them more power. Due to the object’s tendencies to evoke human conflict, it was named “Pandora”. But the story doesn’t stop there. Two organizations, one from each series, wants to get their hands on Pandora and its powers: Street Fighter‘s Shadaloo and Tekken‘s Mishima Zaibatsu. In fact, each character gets impacted by Pandora one way or another, especially after beating arcade mode where the game proceeds to tell the ending stories of your characters, obviously influenced by Pandora. This sparked a special mode in the game known as “Pandora Mode” (enabled with down+down+B&Y for Xbox users), where you can sacrifice the combatant you are currently using and give your sidelined fighter a mega power boost! However, albeit Pandora Mode is great to turn the tables, if you misuse it you will be dead in a matter of seconds. Since you have to kill off one of your fighters, that fighter’s vitality constantly decreases by the second as a time limit, and the game will call “time over” if you fail to defeat your opponent in time. You will automatically lose. 

Another new thing in SFXTK is the Gem Unit. Gem Units are kind of like player cards in UMvC3, as you must do something like escape a throw or block a certain amount of times to use them. When you receive a gem, your body glows a certain color depending on which gem you have. Attack gems are red and increase the user’s power. Defense gems are yellow and increase the user’s defense, or decrease the damage of attacks. Speed gems are green and increase the user’s speed. Cross gauge gems are blue and increase the rate of a cross gauge’s filling, or decrease the rate that it’s consumed. Vitality gems are orange and can bring back players’ vitality either gradually or instantly. Assist gems are purple and do stuff like make special attacks easier to pull off or have your character auto-block.

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Street Fighter’s Balrog and Vega exchange menacing glares with Tekken’s Paul and Law at the versus screen.

PRESENTATION: The game has an eyebrow-raising number of deep story feats that make plot lines more conspicuous and help string the crossover together. How we see every character interact with Pandora in their own special way makes it seem like everyone’s still in the same universe. I have to admit, when I first found out about SFXTK‘s storyline a few months before the game hit stores, I was rather skeptical. It made no sense to me at the time and looked like something I would make up for a story idea. However, when I play the game and see all these connections, it makes more sense to me. (9.5/10)

VISUALS: The game’s graphics are drop-dead gorgeous, with detailed character models, bright and vivid stage scenery, eye-popping moves, and humorous bundles of personality. In some levels like the Mishima Estate or the Jurassic Era Research Facl., characters even jump down to the next level below them to continue the fight, which bumps up the game’s intrigue and fluidity. However, I don’t find it cool that this game has to jump on the gratuitous jiggling bandwagon that so many fighting games have paved. Also, I believe the cameraman is slightly perverse, as shots of female characters’ butts and lady parts are abundant, especially with characters like Cammy and Poison. (10/10)

SOUND: Besides the game’s dynamic voice acting, X Tekken has some of the best music I’ve heard in a fighting game, considering it’s from Capcom’s legendary composer Hideyuki Fukasawa. Fukasawa’s composed and arranged stellar music for other Capcom fighting games like MvC3 and Street Fighter IV (including the updates of the games), and this game hits the summit of his talent. Different stages have different tunes to set different moods, and all of these work together to make an enhanced environment. Antarctica has a catchy, fast-paced sound that makes you feel tense and excited–considering there’s a gigantic mammoth chasing you in the background. Stages like Mishima Estate and Pit Stop 109 have different tunes for different rounds, which keep things fresh and conserved. In the end, Fukasawa has composed yet another winning soundtrack that’s gonna be burrowed into my brain for I don’t know how long. However, in terms of dialogue, the game has some sprinkled profanity at the proportions of MvC3(10/10)

GAMEPLAY: When I first played this game, I found myself immersed into a world with lots of content to offer. The game had an even mix between Street Fighter characters and Tekken characters, unraveling great connections between certain combatants (via dialogue) and a steady learning curve about each character’s backdrop in the arcade mode. The fighting of the game is fast like Tekken, but fluid like Street Fighter, enabling players to switch fighters out in the middle of a hot combo and keep on juggling without skipping a beat. Like Tekken Tag Tournament and unlike UMvC3, the round is put to an end when only one of your fighters is KO’ed, which makes fighting a bit more smooth. However, the game makes no good use of button mashing like Street Fighter would, as the key to fluid combos is a bit of planning in advance. Also, my brother has spotted various bugs within the game, such as how a character would jump forward when he tried to block. In fact, the entire SFXTK gamer community has gotten upset over these bugs. Furthermore, the game’s AI when playing on medium or medium-hard is frustratingly rusty, from jab spams to unblockable hits. (9/10)

EXTRAS: When you don’t feel like fighting, there’s tons of things you can do in X Tekken. You can customize the colors of your characters’ custom outfits, edit gem units for select fighters, check out your player data, do missions, or edit your battle profile–that’s basically the title and comment you had in Street Fighter IV. And with Xbox Live, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (10/10)

DLCX Tekken (oh, that sounds a lot better) has offered a handful of Street Fighter and Tekken characters that must be downloaded to be playable. All downloadable Street Fighter characters are Sakura, Blanka, Guy, Cody, Dudley, and Elena. (She’s a Kenyan character from Street Fighter III, in case you don’t know her.) All downloadable Tekken characters are Lars, Alisa, Bryan, Jack-X, Christie, and Lei. (Sorry folks, no Eddy here. sad emoticon) On the PS3 version of the game, there are many more exclusive characters you can play as: Sony’s Japanese mascots Toro and Kuro, alongside Infamous‘ Cole and 80s arcade heroes Mega Man and Pac Man. (It’s funny because Mega Man’s from Capcom and Pac Man’s from Namco.) The game sparked a controversy when fans realized that on-disc characters can only be used by paying more, at which Capcom replied that they had done this to save hard drive space. Another center of criticism was that online tag-team matches were unavailable for the Xbox, and Capcom said that they refused to make a patch for this. Well, that sucks beans. (8/10)

FINAL VERDICTStreet Fighter X Tekken is a great game that stands out among tons of other fighting games, with unique elements, a deep story, and the like. However, problems in the game from bugs to controversies to online issues pull the game away from its potential, but still don’t do enough damage to make it anything less or more than a general doozy of a fighter. Hopefully the upcoming Tekken X Street Fighter will fix these problems.

FINAL SCOREStreet Fighter X Tekken gets a 56.5/60 score, which equals a 93% score aka an A.

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So, d’ya like my new Game Face layout? Do you have any games you want me to opinionate? Contact me in the comments below or at my G+ (“Sam Mwak”), and you could be responsible for the next review! Anyway, until next time, stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: If there’s one issue I’ve had in the past, it’s my allergies. Being allergic to eggs, shrimp, and nuts rules out cookies, cake, and the like. However, there are many people out there who question allergies’ existence, and ponder about why our bodies must react that way to eating or even being in contact with foods like nuts and pollen. However, our ole pal Tobuscus is here to deliver his fifth rant on that very topic: “Why do allergies exist?” If you’ve had allergy problems in the past, tell me your story in the comments below. But otherwise, enjoy the video!



Now back in August, I let out a post that was centric around the one movie of the entire year that had my most eager share of anticipation: Wreck-It Ralph (and its running mate Paperman). And I probably stated it about a million times how excited I was for the movie, and if I didn’t see Wreck-It Ralph it would be as disappointing as Mark Twain not dying at the arrival of Halley’s Comet. But not only did I see the movie–I saw it on opening day. No, I didn’t see it in 3D, but after those 108 minutes, my mind was so blown I forgot the movie even came in 3D. Now let’s find out if that’s a good mind-blowing, or a bad mind-blowing.

File:Wreckitralphposter.jpeg

Released on November 2 (it couldn’t come any sooner), Wreck-It Ralph is a computer-animated comedy that is the official 52nd animated feature in the decades-long roster of the Walt Disney Animated Classics, being the first and only entry of the year. (As the 53rd title, Frozen, is coming next year.) Directed by Rich Moore, famous for his animation directing work on Futurama and The Simpsons, the movie–well, I won’t waste my time making up a new plot, let’s just reuse my old one. Wreck-It Ralph “starts at a typically nostalgic down-the-block arcade. One of the titles in that arcade is Fix-It Felix, Jr., where you play Felix himself and must constantly repair the damages of a building facade while the game’s villain smashes away atop the building. That villain is the 9′-tall, 643-pound Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), and for three decades he’s been the guy that everyone loved to hate. And Ralph’s tired of that. And to make everyone notice he can be the hero [by getting a Medal of Heroes], he literally disappears from the game via power cord and joins the light-gun FPS Hero’s Duty, battling “Cy-Bugs” alongside the game’s own hero, Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch). But he doesn’t spend the whole movie in this game, as he later goes onto a candy-themed kart racer called Sugar Rush, and here he meets one of the game’s main characters, [the glitched] Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Vanellope has learned that her game is faced with a threat that could affect the entire arcade. The worst part? Ralph may have started the whole thing.” Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

If I could cram all my knowledge of seeing the movie into one word, it would have to be “greatest”. Because this is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. Most people could easily fall for it being a video game movie, but search through all the hard candy and you’re gonna surface with a soft center. Wreck-It Ralph has some of the biggest virtues you’ll find in an animated movie–familiar themes (the behind-closed-doors theme that you may have found in Toy Story or Monsters Inc), well-written laughs, eye-popping visuals, noticeable but still thoughtful messages, and a lot of surprises you’ll love to encounter. It’s not just a cover-up, however, to say that the movie had minimal but still present missteps. Wreck-It Ralph is a treat for kids, adults, and the tech whizzes and tech newbies alike, bringing them an impressive and imaginative incarnation of code, pixels, avatars, pretty much everything in the interactive gaming world. And I thought Captain Underpants had a load of potty humor.

 1 3/4 out of 5 – Educational value –  Believe it or not, Wreck-It Ralph actually has educational value; it teaches viewers about gaming terms/concepts like the game code, avatars, consoles, etc.

 5 out of 5 – Positive messages – Viewers are enticed to accept the ways they are “programmed”, rather than to change their image for others to see. This is exemplified through the bad guy affirmation at a weekly support group for villains: “I’m bad, and that’s good. I’ll never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be…than me.” In-movie characters also learn how crucial it is to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before getting judgmental over them. More themes include inclusivity against exclusivity, and selflessness against selfishness.

4 1/2 out of 5 – Positive role models – Ralph’s journey to make his peer approval a conquest turns into a life lesson of having pride in himself and his contributions. Ralph doesn’t let his status as a villain outdo the virtues that make him a hero; he’s a kind and resourceful character that strives to be the underdog. Vanellope is a spunky but still striving character that refuses to stick with the status quo in her own game–a game that Common Sense Media called “stereotypically girly”. In the game Vanellope also finds a way to control her deficiencies as a glitched character to turn into her biggest upside. Ralph initially dislikes Vanellope but eventually weaves his first big friendship with her. Despite his quirky natures, Sgt. Calhoun manages to work alongside Fix-It Felix in many wild occasions.

4 out of 5 – Ease of view – Wreck-It Ralph may be a toughie to crack for newcomers to the gaming world–naming all the characters, deciphering the natures of games, and so on–but it will still be a treat otherwise that will bring laughter from the mouth and–in some occasions–tears from the eyes. It is a very thoughtful and clever movie that takes video game crossovers and merchandising to the next level, crunching it into nearly two hours of the greatest adventure in video game movie history.

4 out of 5 – Violence – During the Hero’s Duty scene, the game’s characters fire guns at Cy-Bugs to make them explode in bits (no goo or blood is splattered, however). When a Cy-Bug strips Ralph of his gun, his arms are revealed to be giant guns themselves.The Cy-Bugs eventually go on to invade Sugar Rush, which turns it into a very interesting game. In one scene, Ralph clumsily startles a number of Cy-Bug eggs after receiving his medal of heroes, causing them to start hatching one after another. In another scene, Calhoun accidentally drops her already broken sensor (from all the sugar particles), which causes it to go off and evoke eggs to hatch in a wave. When pursuing Vanellope after having his medal stolen, he falls into a pond of sugary sweet goo, and fights through the candy forest to emerge looking like a monster. Moments later though, he is crammed into a giant cupcake and pastry police officers hit him with their nightsticks. When he is taken to King Candy’s lair, one of the officers whips out a candy chainsaw to get Ralph out of the cupcake, causing him to run away in fright. In another scene, Vanellope’s fellow racers destroy her car while simultaneously mocking her glitches, causing Ralph to scare them off. At the villain support group, a cyborg (meant to represent Kano from Mortal Kombat) viciously rips out a fellow villain’s heart. But as this fellow villain is a zombie, no actual damage is done. In one of Sgt. Calhoun’s flashbacks, she reminisces her wedding day, when the party was crashed by a giant Cy-Bug that ate her husband. Cautionary tales about character deaths are spread, like how you cannot regenerate when you die outside of your own game, or how characters can become “homeless” after their games are unplugged. This may upset younger audiences. When Felix welcomes Ralph into his 30th anniversary party–actually, their 30th anniversary party–a piece of the ceiling breaks off and falls on Felix. This does kill him, but as he is in his own game he automatically regenerates. When Ralph suddenly breaks through the walls of Felix’s room in King Candy’s “Fungeon”, some people might be startled. Also, people might be holding back tears when Ralph is forced to wreck Vanellope’s kart. He had done this since if Vanellope was allowed to race, her glitches would put the game out of order and eventually get it unplugged. And this is even worse for Vanellope, since glitches aren’t allowed to leave their games. So that meant if the game actually was unplugged, she’d die with it. Go down with the ship, you know. Calhoun and Felix get stuck in “Nesquik-sand”, and to get strips of Laffy Taffy above them to come down, they must be amused. So against her will, Calhoun repeatedly slaps Felix and gives him various injuries, but each time he uses his golden hammer to repair the wounds. Apparently that hammer doesn’t just fix broken windows, it can fix broken noses.

 2 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – Felix and Calhoun strike a relationship and eventually–let’s just say take their love to the next level, evoking a very passionate kiss. They also smooch in another scene. One iconic character, Street Fighter‘s Zangief, wears only his underwear. Ralph also comes across an apparently used pair of Zangief’s underwear as well, much to his disgust. In another scene, Ralph strips a Hero’s Duty character of his suit, clothing his unconscious body with only Zangief’s underwear. Luckily, the stripping is not actually shown onscreen.

2 out of 5 - Language – Nothing colorful, but potty humor and name calling is frequently seen. “I hate you”, “shut your chew hole”, “numbskull”, “brat”, “doody”, “frickishly”, “buttload”, etc. “Pussy” is also mentioned–but in the word “pussy willows”. In one scene, Vanellope playfully calls Ralph a “son of a gun”. Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive” plays while Ralph teaches Vanellope to drive her kart.

5 out of 5 – Product Placement – Very iconic and famous game characters appear throughout the game, especially in the Game Central Station scene. As I said in my other post, nearly 200 game characters made cameo appearances in the movie. A cyborg resembling Kano, Zangief, Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, the Pac Man ghosts, Pac Man himself, Q*bert, Bowser, Princesses Daisy and Rosalina, Frogger, the Pong paddles, Peter Pepper, the Qix, M. Bison, Eggman, and Sonic all made appearances in the movie. Coincidentally, Sonic appears giving off crucial lessons about the policies of game death–similar to how he gave eventually pointless tips in “Sonic Says” from Sonic & Sega RacingSugar Rush also evokes many references to candy brands. Believe it or not, Skrillex actually deejays Fix-It Felix, Jr.‘s 30th anniversary party–needless to say, his track “Bug Hunt (Noisia Remix)” was featured on the official Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack. Some of the songs used in promos and commercials for the film include Fun.’s “Some Nights” , Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown”, and Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling”.

3 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – One scene takes place in the 1983 arcade game Tapper, where customers are shown drinking from beer mugs. It’s apparently root beer, but I’m still suspicious. A game character pours a martini for himself in one scene, and at Felix’s anniversary party some people are briefly shown drinking.

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Smarts: A+ (5 points)

Fun: A+ (5 points)

Entertainment: A+ (5 points)

Humor: A+ (5 points)

Style: A+ (5 points)

See-Again Ratio: A+ (5 points)

FINAL SCORE: 30 out of 30 (mrgreenmrgreenmrgreen), 100% out of 100%, 5 out of 5 stars

CONSENSUS: Wreck-It Ralph is probably the most unique animated Disney movie you’ll see this year; it has the breathtaking aesthetics, eye-popping visuals, heartfelt messages, impressive storyline, and endless nostalgia that make for the true antidote of the video game film genre.

PRICE: Well, considering the film went out last Friday, it’s obviously not available for DVD purchase yet. But on Amazon, you can buy the tie-in video game on the Wii, DS, or 3DS! The Wii and 3DS versions of the game costs $30, and the DS version costs $24. Not ready for it yet? You can have a crunch of the entire film in merely twenty songs on the Wreck-It Ralph OST. Seven tenths of the soundtrack is actually film score, ranging from “Wreck-It Ralph” to “Arcade Finale”. The other three tenths belong to actual soundtrack music, with artists Skrillex, Rihanna, Owl City, Kool & the Gang, AKB48, and Buckner & Garcia. Henry Jackman (famous for composing the soundtracks of Monsters vs. Aliens, the 2011 Winnie the Pooh, etc.) has the steering wheel on this one. On MP3, the OST costs $8, but in the flesh it costs $10.

Wreck-It Ralph

If you want a sneak peek of what to expect of the soundtrack’s quality, check out this amazingly, shockingly, mindblowingly innovative music video showcasing Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” Seriously dude–this is the best music video you’ll ever see. Or the most creative. Or both. :mrgreen:

If you’re too impatient to wait for your time with the movie, check out this nifty four-minute featurette from the Movieclips subsidiary , involving things from cast interviews to some sneak peeks at the real movie!

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Paperman Still Man and Woman

Sort of like how La Luna preceded Brave, this movie–Paperman–preceded Wreck-It Ralph. It is a 7-minute black-and-white silent film that blends the traditional and computer styles of animation. In the film, a man we’ll refer to as The Man is at a mid-20th century train platform in NYC when he is hit by a flying paper. This paper belongs to a woman we’ll refer to as The Woman whom had dropped it when a gust of wind swept by. The same thing happens to The Man when one of his papers is blown away and lands on The Woman’s face, leaving a red lipstick mark on it. When the Man and Woman first depart, the Man is despondent when he believes he’ll never see the woman again. He is proven wrong when he sees the Woman in one of the rooms in a building across the street at work. He uses the contracts his boss gave him, turns them into paper airplanes, and attempts to throw one into the window, but is excessively unsuccessful. Even the paper with the lipstick mark on it fails to fly in. When he fails to see which way the Woman goes after work, he abandons his mission in disgust and sorrow–and let’s just say something magical happens after that…

Now, Paperman despite its length isn’t a very bad movie. In fact, it’s the best black-and-white movie I’ve ever seen. Despite its lack of dialogue, it has a pristine storyline that captures the serenity of its expectations. Despite its lack of color, it still uses the palette it is given to create works of art beyond our imagination. Despite this review’s lack of normality and overuse of imagery and big words, Paperman still manages to show that love can make the strangest things happen, weaving this lesson into a dandy flick with visuals as eye-popping as its unexpected comedy. But then again, the juice that makes it a special Disney movie kinda doesn’t make any sense. And that’s saying something.

(Now, due to this movie not being too prolonged, I’ve decided to narrow down the chart and strip away sections that need to be stripped.)

 1 out of 5 – Educational value –  If you have a keen eye, you might learn how to make paper airplanes. :lol:

 5 out of 5 – Positive messages – Paperman makes light-hearted humor and heart-warming inspirations out of the fact that love can cause the wildest things to occur, both in realism and human instincts. Some may be able to relate to the Man and Woman’s relationship and what they will go through and fight past to be together–especially those who have already endeavored the scenario.

4 out of 5 – Positive role models – The Man stops at nothing to finally be with the Woman, and quickly gains hope that lights an entire room full of the darkness of doubt. When the Man first throws in the towel on Operation: Lovebird for good, his contract paper airplanes seem to gain motivation to get their “maker” out of retirement. The Woman eventually gains as much enthusiasm towards the Man as the Man does for the Woman.

4 3/4 out of 5 – Ease of view – Paperman may have a premise that some may not know at first, but eventually its amazing visuals, breathtaking direction, and debonair charms will have the viewers swooning. Paperman is also quite frankly one of Disney’s best short movies to date, and definitely one of the most captivating as well.

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Smarts: B+ (3.5 points)

See-Again Ratio: A- (4 points)

Fun: A (4 points)

Entertainment: A+ (5 points)

Humor: A+ (5 points)

Style: A+ (5 points)

FINAL SCORE: 26.5 out of 30 (hm neutral), 4 1/2 stars out of 5, 83% out of 100%

I am also proud to give Paperman the honor of being our first-ever Popcorn Pick to be in full black-and-white, and the first to not contain any dialogue whatsoever, as well as the first to get at least a 25/30 score. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D Oh, that reminds me, I should probably introduce my new scoring chart:

Epic Fail (0-5 out of 30) – This movie didn’t even deserve to be reviewed, but I was kind enough to review it anyway. Incredibly choppy direction, surprisingly disjointed scripting, and/or paper-thin scenarios will likely get you in this tier. If you ever do, then you can walk away hanging your head with our official Sammwak Epic Fail Seal.

It’s just as degrading as it sounds, America.

Fail (6-10 out of 30) – Did good enough to escape the Epic Fail tier, but definitely aimed its crosshairs in the wrong direction. Abominable writing, vile editing skill, and small potential will likely land you here.

Poor (11-15 out of 30) – Definitely a lot of noticeable mistakes, but the parts it does perform correctly are very petite and will likely have already gone before the viewers notice it.

Average (16-20 out of 30) – Does have as much pros as it does cons, and while it could’ve been worse–it should’ve been better.

Well Done (21-25 out of 30) – Lots of noticeable merits in directing, scripting, and acting at a skill rate that’s just shy of perfection.

Awesome/Nirvana (26-28 out of 30 for Awesome, 29-30 out of 30 for Nirvana) – This is as high as it gets. These are the most honoring titles you can get on Picks for Popcorn. To be an Awesome movie, you need to impress me. Like, a lot. If you have flaws, I’ll notice them but will likely not come back to haunt the movie. To get the most prestigious title there is of being a pick of nirvana, you need to be solely flawless: you need mind-blowing writing, breathtaking acting that perfectly accentuates this writing, and scenarios that weave together like a master knitter’s work of art.  This is clearly a movie that cannot be missed–well, the ones that scratched the bottom of nirvana’s barrel are sort of iffies.

So now that you know the grading chart, you won’t be confused in future reviews! :)

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You know what to do, I’ve been blogging for two darn years! But just to review, subscribe, like, Press This, reblog, share, and come back next time for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! (That’s kinda my new tagline now, I guess. Well, maybe besides “Stay classy, America.” :D)

Stay classy, America (see, I told you :D),

~S~ 8-)

Videos of the Week: Dubstep. An electronic dance music genre that has been described by Allmusic as “tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.” Some of the most famous dubstep artists out there are likely what I consider the two Founding Fathers of the genre: the British music act Nero, and the American music project Skrillex. And today we’re gonna look at someone who I’d never guess could be converted into dubstep: my good friend Tobuscus. In fact, just last April an artist known as DJ Alex S. remixed the twenty-fourth TobyGames video of Bulletstorm into one of the hottest dubstep songs I’ve ever seen! It’s been seen 1.4 million times, and over 30,000 people agree that this video is the bomb. Do you?

Here’s the original “Gimme That” video at almost 200,000 hits since last March:

Here’s a fanmade video conglomerating Toby’s dancing and the song with over 22,000 hits since last April!



Mini Spoiler Alert Seal, I believe should be added. Proceed with caution. eek

Now, if you read my first news update post, you’d likely see this coming. If not, then it’s either one of several options: A) You’re not an in-the-flesh Sammwak subscriber, B) You’re one of those people who have on/off subscriptions, C) You likely leafed through the post and ignored all the vital detail down to the jump, and/or D) You don’t have the most elaborate memory around. But either way, come one, come all, because one size fits all of you right? lol Anyway, you may have seen my review for Hugo Cabret back at 2S2M, and although I won’t spoil the results to novice viewers, it was probably a book I’ll never forget. And when I found Wonderstruck in a story that you’re gonna have to find in the news update, I was immediately hooked after further research. And it’s all led me to this tiny wrinkle in time–a review that’s hopefully as groundbreaking as the book itself.

What I consider to be the spiritual successor of Hugo CabretWonderstruck is probably one of the most clever titles Brian Selznick’s worked on as a solo artist. Well, considering this is his fifth one. Anyway, what makes Wonderstruck unique from Hugo Cabret is that–besides it being 75 pages longer, and contending for both a Newbery and Caldecott–it doesn’t just revolve around one storyline–it intertwines two. One story takes place at Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in summer 1977, revolving around Ben Wilson, a young partly-deaf boy that’s just shaken off the death of his mother/the town librarian. He now lives with his aunt and uncle near the house he grew up in, and is now trying to solve the mystery of his father’s identity. You see, Ben never really knew his dad, but feels a pull to uncover him. Ben discovers a bookmark in one of his mom’s books–coincidentally titled Wonderstruck–and finds an inscribing dedicated to his mother ending with “Love, Danny”. Believing that this Danny is the Mr. Wilson, Ben attempts to call the number on the bookmark–just as lightning hits his house and travels through the phone line to his good ear. Now 100% deaf, Ben flees from his hospital and to NYC, meeting a girl named Jamie at the American Museum of Natural History. She claims to be a worker’s daughter as well, and gives him a short tour and smuggles him in a storage room. Despite Jamie’s compassion, Ben decides to keep pursuing the mystery of his father, and on the way he meets Rose. Just to inform you, this story is told entirely in words, like a regular book would.

Rose’s story, however, takes place fifty years before this in fall 1927, and is told entirely in pictures. In Hoboken, New Jersey, Rose is kept in her home with frequent visits from a tutor. No, she isn’t falling behind in school–coincidentally, she too is deaf. Unsatisfied with her life, she runs off to–you guessed it–NYC, to see her idol Lillian Mayhew. (She’s fictitious, just to set the record.) At the theater where Lillian is performing, Rose sneaks in but quickly loses her stealth as she is caught by Lillian. This is when the first twist of the story is revealed–Rose is actually Lillian’s daughter. Conversing through writing, Lillian threatens to send Rose back to her dad, so she continues to flee. This time she goes to–you guessed it again–the American Museum of Natural History! She is found by one of the workers, named Walter, who is actually her brother, whom promises to speak with her parents at his apartment. At this point, Rose’s story flash-forwards fifty years into the future, so she is now an old woman entering a 1977 bookstore. At this point, Ben and Rose finally meet. A very shocking twist is revealed at this point, but I’ll save that until you read the book…

Wonderstruck is a very brilliantly executed, charming, imaginative, and truly magical Selznick title, making the best use of Selznick’s eye-popping illustration I’ve seen to date. It was one of my most engrossing and impressive reads of the month, that does a surprising job of keeping us rooting for Ben and Rose. But although it didn’t show as much flourish and flair as Hugo–and it went by very quickly without letting much details soak in–but Wonderstruck is probably one of the best books I’ve seen from Selznick to date. Chart, please.

 4 out of 5 – Educational value –  As a good chunk of the book happens at the American Museum of Natural History, but for many other reasons as well, Wonderstruck sparks engaging wonders for exploring places and things from NYC to the nearest few natural history museums to the deaf culture. (A) That does exist, and B) That’s why you may have seen the word as “Deaf”.) All these trailheads can lead to your own adventures that can leave you wonderstruck.

 5 out of 5 – Positive messages – Wonderstruck has one major message that is greatly emphasized through the book: blood is thicker than water. What this means is the family bond outdoes any other bond, and the book teaches us about family and friendship, plus its endurance through time and space. The adventures Rose and Ben embark on after becoming runaways are profitably more than what an average-minded youngen would imagine today. And Brian Selznick greatly culminates the message with the grand twist near the end of the book…

1 out of 5 – Positive role models – Like in the positive message section, Wonderstruck exemplifies loving family and true friends, and shows how a strong-enough bond can overcome any difficulty, danger, or trial. While Ben and Rose show relations to many of these gallant figures–Rose’s brother Walter (“an especially shining example”, according to Common Sense), Ben’s late mother (“just the parent [Ben] needed”, according to Common Sense), among others–they themselves show devotion to everyone who is crucial to them. Their journeys to define themselves and where they belong on Earth also flares their wisdom, tenacity, and focus–which, coincidentally, is the name of Vanilla Ice’s latest album.

4 out of 5 – Ease of read – Wonderstruck is a great spiritual successor to Hugo, using the same magical talents, eye-popping and rather well-accompanying visuals, and heartfelt storyline and effects that made it a Caldecott-winning hit. What separates Wonderstruck so much from its spiritual predecessor is that it seemed to slip on a banana peel many books have slipped on–going by without letting details soak in, and having a truly rough time juggling its elements. The illustrations may make you say otherwise, but in actuality it’s a struggle. Overall, a great book for those who adored Hugo.

2 out of 5 – Violence – It happens rather suddenly when Ben is “struck by lightning” and loses his remaining hearing. Rose also sees a silent film, with the book primarily capturing the essence of a storm scene, and this is greatly and ominously intertwined with Ben’s story. Ben also has his money robbed nearly as soon as he arrives as well. Not much violence, otherwise–also another contrast from Hugo.

 1 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – Rose’s mom–again, Lillian Mayhew–is a scandalous 1920’s figure, having divorced her husband for a young actor named Percy. Ben was the final result of a short canoodling between his mother and a museum curator. Like Hugo, not much here either.

0 out of 5 - Language – This aspect is not applicable.

1 out of 5 – Product Placement – Wonderstruck is rooted from Selznick’s Caldecott-winning 2008 classic Hugo Cabret, but no consumerism is depicted otherwise–save for one picture. This picture depicted the bustling nightlife-filled streets of NYC, and brands like Chevrolet are clearly visible among all the lights.

1 3/4 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – Like Hugo, this section’s a bit of an iffy. In one scenario, Ben finds his teenage cousin Janet wearing his mom’s clothes and smoking cigarettes. Ben’s mother herself had smoked before she died. I wonder why…

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Entertainment: A+ (5 points)

Fun: A+ (5 points)

Smarts: A (4 points)

Style: A+ (5 points)

Read-Again Ratio: B+ (3.5 points)

Humor: B (3 points)

FINAL SCORE: 25.5 out of 30 (I guess Hugo was better :(), 5 stars out of 5, 85% out of 100%

CONSENSUS: It may not have as much flair and magic as its predecessor Hugo Cabret, and it goes by quickly without taking the time to let details soak in, but Wonderstruck is a greatly impressive and engrossing novel with the same eye-popping visuals, unlikely and surprising entertainment, and everlasting comfort that all of Selznick’s books have.

PRICE: On hardcover, the book costs $17 on Amazon. New copies are $11, and 42 are $13. Savings? 42%. The fabled unknown binding of the book costs $44 for a new copy, and just $42 for a used. Savings? It doesn’t say, but I can infer it’s puny. At Barnes & Noble, Wonderstruck costs the same $17 (with the same wee savings), but the marketplace version costs $12 with 59% savings. How about that to leave you wonderstruck? And for the people who mistook this Wonderstruck for Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck, don’t worry–I got you covered too. The 3.4.-oz perfume bottle costs $47 on regular mode (hey, beauty doesn’t come cheap neutral), and if you plan on ordering order fast–there’s a slight chance shipping might be impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The 1.7-oz Eau de Parfum costs $35, the .33-oz roll-on costs $18, and the 6.8-oz gel costs $25. Now you’ll be reading happy and smelling happy! mrgreen

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You know what to do–subscribe, like, comment, reblog, Press This, share, spread, come back next time for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak, blah blah blah. Or should I say, to start off the Thanksgiving season, gobble gobble gobble. mrgreenmrgreenmrgreen

~S~ 8-)

Videos of the Week: Alright, now there are two possible opinions I could state about this video–Tobuscus is doing something with the “Sony PlayStation VIP” campaign, or he’s putting up another one of his little just-for-kicks infomercials. Like the Hot Pockets one. Or was that actually real? Anyway, Toby put this up last Monday and it’s already got over 700,000 hits! Check out this video and comment whether or not you think it’s the real deal. And whether or not you like his sweet house!

And if you want that Hot Pockets one, I got it here for you too. It’s got 1.2 million hits since May this year! That’s pretty darn hot. Not as hot as the Facebook page you’ll likely want to check out after this video: https://www.facebook.com/hotpockets



Define the word wimp. As a noun, it is “a weak and cowardly or unadventurous person.” I guess that’s how some people may describe Greg Heffley, known to fans as “the Wimpy Kid” of Jeff Kinney’s national bestselling saga, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It first got its start on Funbrain as an original story that was read over twenty million times when it released in 2004. From thence, Kinney decided to make the jump from online to on paper, and he has been a cult for kids since. Plus, he’s doing so good, he’s released 5 other titles, and even a few movies. Now, let’s repeat that: “even a few movies”. The most recent wimpy kid flick came out around St. Patty’s 2011 (the sequel, Rodrick Rules), and from the success of that movie comes the series’ threequel due this summer, and from the looks of it, this is gonna be the best entry yet.

Yep, this trailer just uploaded in April, and it’s already got…not even 20,000 hits. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the new movie’s called Dog Days. No, we didn’t all “skip a movie”. This will interpret features from both The Last Straw and Dog Days. This movie shares most of its storyline with the fourth book: school’s out and Greg’s starting to plan for the summer, when all his plans go awry, leaving him with one question: What on earth is he gonna do for three months? Up the antes in unintended gut-busting humor, that’s what. And yes, Sweetie the dog is going to be in it. This looks like a movie I’d undoubtedly want to see this summer, and hopefully my excitement won’t go up in steam once this movie hits the cinemas. If there were a few differences I spotted in this, it’d be 1) Greg’s voice changed!!!, and 2) Sweetie’s gonna be back. Cool story, bro. And for possibly the first time, Heather Hills, Holly’s older sister, is gonna be in the movie. She will be portrayed by Melissa Roxburgh, whom you probably don’t know. The movie’s filming was in Vancouver (much like the two previous films), from August to October 2011, and it will officially be PG according to Box Office Mojo, citing “some rude humor”. And hopefully it will sell well and continue the series’ multi-million-selling streak, with a combination of $116 million of lifetime gross revenue. Oh, did I forget to show you the teaser poster?

Make sure to mark your calendars for August 3, 2012, because on that very day, something wimpy is going down. Well, that’s all for this week, but make sure to subscribe, like, rate, comment, and reblog often! Same thing @ 2Sam2Mwak!

- Sam

p.s. Can you feel the love? Greg can in this year’s untitled & upcoming seventh Wimpy Kid title. As the tagline of the announcement poster is “Love is in the air”, we can assume that this ranges around Valentine’s Day. Despite this, the book’s due to come this Thanksgiving, so mark your calendars for that too.

p.p.s. Would You Rather o’ the Week: Would you rather be shot by an arrow from Cupid, or be shot by an arrow from an underwear-wearing Greg with fake wings plastered on his back, so it’s more like he’s trying to kill you than get you lovestruck?

p.p.s.s. Random Video o’ the Week: Some people are very intimate with the kinds of musical YouTube videos they watch, and they usually tire quickly of the usual. But luckily through remixing tech, they can shut their pieholes with the amount of enjoyment they’ll receive. But they can only admire the highest levels of remixes. And on this note, that level belongs to Fagottron, more famously known as Pogo. This video just came out this January, and it’s already past 3 million hits due to how good it is. This is so darn good, I’ll have to bury a YouTube treasure to dig up in the future for this! (Check out this guy’s channel for more sweet remixes, and please do like this post for a very worthy suggestion. C’mon, you know you want to, do it for ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGA!)



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