[EXPRESSO] Congo’s Caper/Joe & Mac 2 SNES | Sun Wukong Upon A Star

Ah, yes, the three inescapable truths of life: death, taxes and SNES caveman platformers that somehow you didn’t play or knew existed, like todays’s Congo’s Caper, just recently rereleased on the NSW Online subscription/retro apps.

This one it’s a bit more recognizable than stuff like Prehistorik Man, as it’s basically a spin-off of the Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja series by Data East, but also the second game in the series, since it was actually sold as Joe & Mac 2 in Japan and PAL regions.

And i kinda get why, as Data East also recycled some characters from the mainline Joe & Mac series, like the devil or the first stage t-rex boss , and the controls are similar, as it retains the high jump, but not the weapons, as you use only a small club to attack.

The more distinctive feature is the player character turning back into a monkey if hit, and regaining your human form with a red crystal (Mario style), with the ability to enter a “super saiyan” invincibility state too, you’re a half-monkey man after all.

Controls are actually pretty smooth, arguably better than the original Joe & Mac, the new protagonist has some new abilities like hanging from vines, so it should be better…. and it arguably is, it’s definitely more polished, has a lot more levels, BUT it’s too easy for its own good, it’s fun, but it lacks challenge, and the level themselves are very short, while also not providing anything you haven’t seen (or heard, as some of the sound effects are pretty much “ripped off” of Super Mario World…. or its sound libraries) done better in terms of level design.

So it’s not a bad game, but a decent one that could have been potentially quite good.

Shame, really.

King Of The Lost World (2005) [REVIEW] | Simians & Dragons

If there’s a big blockbuster movie coming and somehow involving monsters or aliens (among others) or elements that also relate to “B-movies”, you can bet The Asylum has already launched a mockbuster of it one week earlier or after, because they’re the Zoidberg of the film industry…. well, not quite, because they have actual budgets that don’t involve papermaciè monsters and so on.

BUT WAIT, this time we have a rare example of a “mockbuster double combo”, one that ironically did better to skirt around copyright lawsuits than what the later did with mockbuster of first The Hobbit movie from 2012, where they got themselves a lawsuit as they were stupid enough to use the word “hobbit” in the title of their mockbuster movie, resulting in the movie itself being delayed.

Obviously it was released to cash into the Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake (literally released 1 day before the Peter Jackson’s movie hit theathers, classic), but cleverly didn’t use the word “kong” in the title or marketing (which got 1976’s A*P*E in trouble), which also has the benefit of making this one sneak by quietly as you won’t find it by simply searching for “king kong films”, and also attaching itself to The Lost World, as in the original novel by Conan Doyle, not “Jurassic Park 2”. But did – because it was legally fair – put on the cover of the DVD this phrase “the epic story that inspired King Kong and Jurassic Park”. Which is technically true. 🙂

So is this the mash up of both King Kong and The Lost World the title promises?

Basically, yes. Kinda. By that i mean that the basic premise it’s The Lost World, and ultimately the plot follows more the beats of that instead of King Kong’s, but eventually we have natives… not facing other more primitive ape-men, but making ritual human sacrifices to appease the creatures of the jungle. Yep, you’d think it would make sense to have them making tributes/sacrifices to their giant ape god, but i guess that way the company would seem begging to be sued again, so nope, the giant ape in question doesn’t actually have anything to do with anything else besides just existing and being feared by all creatures, he just shows up fighting some giant dragon-flying lizards and accidentally ruins the ritual.

Also, the natives aren’t actually natives (more on that later) oddly brainwash the survivors to join them, those they don’t choose as sacrifices, and since there’s no Empire State Building for “Ding King” to fall over (there are planes and jets, interestingly enough), the giant monster will have to be dealt with the only sensible solution available: nuking his ass to oblivion.

Yep, this is exactly how they dealth with the “dinosaur” in “King Dinosaur”, because when in doubt, ask yourself how Bert I. Gordon would have written the finale for your film. Then at least make your own footage for the rushed resolution.

Speaking of the monkey, it show ups early….. but it’s also hidden at the same time, because the effects are so bad and it’s shown in such quick cuts you can’t even screenshot the darn thing to see any detail of this “vague blurry giant monkey” thing that showed up on screen for a second. Even when it’s finally shown properly (in the last 10 minutes)…it still looks quite blurry.

Here’s the part where i would try to mount a legit, proper critique of the special effects… to just take the piss on them, but to be honest it’s exactly what i expected from an Asylum movie (especially a pre-2010s one), any further elaboration it’s really pointless and devoid of value for anyone.

BUT i didn’t expect them to pull off shit like “mummy mannequin” that’s supposed to be one of the guys being attacked, immediatly encased in giant spider’s webbing and dropped as a decaying mummified corpse 2 seconds later. It’s not that it looks bad, surprisingly, but its the way it’s presented that sucks, you could at least try to make the damn thing look as big as the person it’s supposed to be, or to make it look like it has some weight to it. Come on.

If nothing else, it starts pretty fast with a plane crash… as in, no pussyfooting around with establishing any of the characters or even spending some time on the plane ride itself, there’s no time or money for that, let’s get to the disaster already, we’ll figure everything else (like characters or motivations) later. Maybe.

As you could have guessed, the movie at its heart it’s a very loose adaptation of The Lost World, it’s no period piece of sorts (as it’s not set in the early 20th centhury like the original novel was), to be honest though i really didn’t expect it to be, since even their later 2009’s adaptation of The Land That Time Forgot wasn’t… totally, they at least found a way to kinda do both with the sci-fi twist of a portal/rift… but then again they did went with the Bermuda Triangle angle for that.

Here we don’t have any sci-fi elements, but we have a strange subplot that the tribal people you expect to be natives from the island (as they were in King Kong).. aren’t actually natives, but people that also crash landed there, kinda reverted back to a tribal lifestyle, and also brainwashed other survivors of plane crashes into joining them.

Well, maybe some were natives, but i’m just guessing, it’s never properly explained, and the entire subplot makes very little sense, to the point it would be better to have it cut entirely and just have the tribal people in the “lost world” just being prehistoric humans native to the island, instead of this convoluted non-sense.

But i’m inclined to believe it’s written this way to avoid the script having too many similarities to King Kong (or The Lost Word), deliberately put there to differentiate it enough so to avoid any risk of being properly sued. Or maybe i’m wrong, i could be.

acting is the kind i would like to write off as “ok” for this kind of hokum, with the bigger names delivering the best performances (and they’re names a more general audiences might actually recognize, with Boxleitner and Steves Railsback)…and i will, the bigger actors do a decent enough job to even out the moments where other actors either way over or under act their parts in a noticeable way.

The acting overall leans more to the “decent” side than most Asylum flicks, same for the characters, and you also get giant scorpions, dragons, giant spiders, some of which were not in either King Kong nor The Lost World, but yeah, more monsters it’s a good trade off, all things considered. I’ll take this instead of no monsters or a lot of padding.

So overall, King Of The Lost World….it’s alright, things happen at a decent pace, it’s not overly long, honestly it’s kinda one of the best mockbusters the Asylum spunked out over time, as it’s in itself an entertaining jungle romp, aside from being a double bootleg of two classic tales (leaning definitely more on side of The Lost World than King Kong), despite the very little on-screen presence of “Ding King”.

It doesn’t mean it’s good, it’s not, but it’s NOWHERE as bad as the reception and metascore on IDMB would lead you to believe, there’s definitely some effort, and it’s not a bad effort, considerin the tiny budget it has, i mean, even the aforementioned The Land That Time Forgot -also from the Asylum – had a noticeably bigger budget put to it.

Might be worth a look if you’re up for some low budget jungle adventure mish mash from the infamous company or having a mockbuster marathon.

Not that bad, surprisingly so.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #7: Valley Of The Dragons (1961)

Stock footage. The quintessence of cheap filmaking since its very beginning, the saviour of many low budget productions for decades, constantly growing over time and often very fuckin free, etc.

It’s and always will be a constant for visual media, but there are case when you can take it too far, like the infamous Gamera Super Monster, the final Showa era Gamera film, composed almost entirely of stock footage from previous movies in the series. Sometimes you can indeed go even cheaper, but shouldn’t, unless you wanna risk destroying any goodwill, fanbase or prospects.

Though this isn’t the case, with Valley Of The Dragons we have instead the story of trying to adapt the Jules Verne novel Off Of A Comet/Career Of A Comet, which was actually not published in US territories at the time, due to it being very anti-semitic.

A very loose adaptation mostly made to chase the success of previous film adaptations of Verne’ stories…. and because producer Donald Zimbalist wanted to have it heavily based around the stock footage from One Billion BC, as he owned the rights to that.

In its own way, this is also pure cinema at heart.

Continua a leggere “12 Days Of Dino Dicember #7: Valley Of The Dragons (1961)”