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M&L: Ultimate Attack M&L: Ultimate Attack

Rated 4 / 5 stars

Someone had to conjure up a Mario parody that blended surreal cosmic horror with an over-the-top DBZ attack sequence. And Terminal Montage went and done just that in "M&L [Mario & Luigi]: Ultimate Attack."

At first, the brother plumbers spot a dissident goomba and decide to execute a brilliant attack sequence that defies logic, but then it hurdles (or spirals) out of control and makes the whole damn Mushroom Kingdom call out for a hero from the stars.

The author blames the NG player for getting the colors on Mario just a bit off. It's a bit on the crude side, but there are some interesting graphical touches. For better realism, however, smoke-based particle effects when planets blow up would be more fitting. There are also plenty of voice-over talents who can pull off Mario and Luigi, so those ripped samples wouldn't be necessary and dialog could assist in the cartoon. Though it is played for laughs, establishing Luigi's dark side ahead of time via foreshadowing would have aided in delivering the message. For those not in the know, it seems like a random occurrence, that ending....

Though, to be honest, the sound direction and visuals are, overall, solid and fun. The art design is a juxtaposition writ large, what with CGI and animation ghetto quality flash, but it somehow works well in staving off the seriously horrific overtones and playing everything for laughs. There is also evidence of a planned sequel, so that's on the record as well.

In any case, this is a chance to reconcile somber fans of surreal cosmic horror to the friendly goofball world of Mario. Pretty fun ride while it lasts.


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Romanticide Romanticide

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

"Want to play a game?"

Romanticide is perhaps the first really prominent original project by Johnathan Wrathborne. He is known for his Resident Evil parodies. And if the first caption is any indication, it is going to be a series that establishes that as a catchphrase. This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while, although it's up against TOME, so there is a lot of expectations thrown on it. The format and scope are different, however.

Keiichi awakens to the sound of a beautiful stranger playing Dance-Dance Revolution on his game system in the middle of the night. When he tries to provoke her attention, he instead stirs up a hornet's nest far beyond human comprehension.

If you've seen his previous work, you may feel as if the animation stiffness is a step back. It isn't--it's quite deliberate. You don't necessarily start at the high end of animation in your first few episodes (if released in chronological order, as in most cases). Once he has all the assets, several episodes may be produced and he can maintain fluid output.

There is a build-up and a perceptible aura of anxiety that develops through the cartoon. The mood is disjointed throughout the latter scenes, where we assume are possible only as the protagonist goes through his daily routine with someone watching him at all times--someone who invaded his space and his comfort zone (the thematic implications here are obvious). As for the potential of there being a series, there is something of an ontological mystery going on here: not knowing the purpose behind the visitor beyond the fact that contact has been made. Trying to figure that out is part of the fun. Why did these two meet, and what will they do with each other? Even greater--and this is one of the unnerving elements when you really think about it--the wish to play games with this visitor. Think about this after you've watched the show. Considering the flawless performance on the dance floor, one can be certain where this will go. There is enough minor humor to keep the presentation rooted in its cartoon/manga roots; nobody should suffer a horror/suspense of this sort without some respite.

The soundtrack is a killer addition. This is where the Audio Portal really comes in handy, since the hand-picked tracks meld together perfectly for each moment in the cartoon. If anything, people should look the tracks up. There are a lot of good musicians represented here.

One thing I have a love/hate relationship with is the "Captain Ersatz" gig with all the game references, which are subdued to some degree but obvious in their origins. This is to maintain fair use protocol without having to pay for anything. However, it bothers the hell out of me. It doesn't seem to go far enough to be safe and looks terribly cheap at the same time. It's still a necessary thing if you wish to claim this as an original series. Either incorporate the games or stray from the references over time.

Overall, I look forward to future installments of "Romanticide" in all its eerie dissonance. It may make greater sense to do this in comparison to cartoony Resident Evil Parodies, chiefly because the art direction now makes sense. This is something that should have been released way back in 2008, even if it would later necessitate the obligatory remake. Good job--yes, I would like to play a game!


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Lonely man kills wife Lonely man kills wife

Rated 2 / 5 stars

I know this is another experimental piece, but I don't think you developed the visuals well enough. The scream as he approaches is good, but there isn't any eating of the wife. Sort of like, I don't know, messing with people's expectations. It's like how they marketed "Hudson Hawk" and inadvertently pissed off all the critics who went to see it.

Well anyway, it's messed up. But not THAT messed up. Not like previous entries. This one looks like it was just practice more than anything. Doubly goofy when he's literally climbing up the stairs because he's just a doll. That's just dumb. But it kind of cracked a smile on my face anyway.

Yeah, it's not meant to be subtle or deep, moody or intellectual, and hey, you can do a whole lot better (I know you can), so this reviewer, unimpressed as he was, will be fair: 4 of 10. With the hope that the next one gets better than the stop-motion that preceded this one.



George Lucas' Farewell George Lucas' Farewell

Rated 3.5 / 5 stars

"Because you're forty years old, I can't fucking make you goddamned seven again!"

That hits it right home. That settles the whole issue. When you're older, you can dismantle something, but then you find the bigger bomb to dismantle is yourself.

"George Lucas' Farewell" addresses firsthand the phenomenon known as "Unpleasant Fanbase", one that can never be truly satisfied across the board with whatever you do. With the recent transfer of Lucasfilm to Disney, George Lucas can finally be absolved of responsibility (or rather, stop being a target) to the fans of his movies, chiefly Star Wars.

This cartoon takes it even further and, despite trying to make George a cantankerous strawman, ends up giving some valid points in his favor. The fans really are like this. They fail to appreciate the sorts of things he has done for the industry at large. Don't forget that his brand of business (Summer Blockbuster) evolved from the excesses of 1970s filmmaking, where several notable films had flopped and were overpriced. Bringing back the adventure serials of the 50s was something of a goal of his from the beginning, one he struggled to achieve when he branched into special effects artistry, which became lucrative pending the success of his initial trilogy. Once he got the chance to finish years later, people had lost the point and also grew up. This meant his movies would be received not just by his target audience, but also a bloc of suckers who grew up with the initial trilogy and had unwarranted expectations that it would reflect upon their grown-up attitudes.

Recipes for disaster. You could pen them even smaller, but this one pretty much feeds millions.

KurtToons burst the bubble of fan hubris and meddling in one deft stroke, bringing a darker motive for Mr. Lucas to submit to a perceived machine like Disney. All in two minutes.

It's not without flaws. The voice of George is far from the mark, for instance, and it's not well acted in terms of voice. Sure, he's angry, but the fans fell flat and there was no shouting at the fans when he was tackling the guy. Sorry, doesn't work. It's like that alien from DBZ that sucked out people with that stinger and shriveled them up. That was sci-fi horror territory until he decided to imitate the Predator near the end. Sorry, the Predator gets away with the laugh because you didn't expect such a gross face to be capable of laughter like that. And yeah, the voice acting. In other words, KurToons could do well to consult with voice talents.

Two more issues are appropriate. Hans or Greedo shooting first is an endless debate. At some point, Lucas wanted Greedo to shoot first and miss--perhaps in an earlier draft--but to save time and money, they wrote it so Hans did so first, which was a nod to realism and to establish the character's modus operandi better. Lucas insisted, but recreating the footage from stills was all he could do even with the technology at the time. In other words, it was doomed to failure and probably shouldn't have happened. Yet, somewhere in the original manuscripts, it made sense, and he wished to defy the expectations and include it so he can show how you can splice new footage with the old and achieve a new effect. It's a special effects failure translated as a narrative one. Wrong for the wrong reason, in other words. Taking the "Word of God" route to address the issue, however, is far-fetched, as even Mr. Lucas probably understands the measure of success and (largely) failure in Greedo shooting first.

Profanity is another issue. It's self-evident that dropping excessive profanity leads to the notion of an Animation Age Ghetto, which you can argue has invaded Flash cartoons, but here, KurToons takes it to eleven with Lucas, which shatters the illusion. It is no longer considered George Lucas' voice, but the author's in a tract that shows unbound bitterness toward the fans for setting unrealistic expectations and denouncing all avenues toward acceptance.

"If I were George, I'd tell 'em to feck off 'ardcore!"

Not everyone agrees, Kurt.


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KurtToons responds:

I love this analysis. Thanks so much for sharing!


Mario Meets Patrick Star Mario Meets Patrick Star

Rated 3.5 / 5 stars

Super Mario Bros. 2 featured artwork with red overalls on the box art and instruction manual. No joke. The Super Show took from that and went with it.

Short, sweet, and surreal. Also an interesting demonstration of hacking sound clips together. More or less a technical demonstration of animating and sound mixing than anything else. It's okay, but nothing spectacular.



LoiterKlok 3.0 LoiterKlok 3.0

Rated 3.5 / 5 stars

Possibly the biggest concentration of mind-screwing nightmare fuel on the planet.

There is no plot, really, but a set of random images from Loiter and Deathklok (aka Metalocalypse).

This is a throwback to all those random pointless Flashes (Sturgeon's Law at work) composed by the Clock Crew or by anybody who splices random images together to create something freakish and ugly. There are many of these; I recall ebaumsworld.com's f*ck sh*t p*ss as an early example, though that was a music video with... you get the picture.

I expected nothing less from this author, who tows the line between aggressive and psychotic in regards to offensive content. Spam authors should take some hints, although everyone else can just gawk. Does it set out what it wants to do? Yes. Is it a success in that sense? Yes. Is this something we should be glad for? I can't be certain. In that case, I've failed as a critic. The least I can say is that this is how a sober man gets to be high without the consequences, because this is what you see when you are PLASTERED.

If there is a LoiterKlok 3.0, were there previous versions? That's Nightmare Fuel in itself. Emily Youcis must be one hell of a freak in person....



Facebook Guidelines Facebook Guidelines

Rated 0 / 5 stars

This Flash, "Facebook Guidelines", is what happens when you put political satire in the hands of a trolling wanker and plaster it on the Interwebs. Nobody said they were all "War and Peace", but they did allude to Sturgeon's Law. They should have screamed it.

There are reasons this thing sucks, but to be clear, it's all about changes to the policy guidelines of a site that you agree may happen on occasion, but that people neither care for nor fully understand yet are willing to protest, and that people crash through flat-screens to thumb their nose at you for it. While singing.

Now, it would not be so bad, but for one thing, it is a jive against the people who signed up, portraying them as imbeciles, while not addressing what the changes were to the Facebook policy that got everyone in a bind. Sometimes that is necessary for those who don't follow Facebook (or the net) as closely. Even if people respond to change with fear, actions made by the user to show protest, while futile, still need addressing, but for some reason, this got glossed over and disrespected.

It is also very hard to root for either character, being that they're faceless caricatures of people who protest without knowing what they're fighting for and those who know a loophole, are resigned to change on that basis, and insult the other side for their ignorance. What this results in are eight deadly words that nobody should ever wish to hear concerning their cartoon or dramatic presentation of any kind:

"I don't care what happens to these people."

This is the emotional result of black-on-black morality, better called "Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy", where neither side has a fair shot at improving a situation no matter which side you take, almost as if it is splitting hairs. In a political satire, satire demands change. This one is just resigned. It's no longer a satire on that basis. It's just political, and that automatically turns off a lot of people anyway. Why am I expected to care about policy changes in a site that are not addressed, but glazed over by an ignorant body of users, while someone hammers them that they agreed to changes made when they accepted the guidelines upon entering the site? It's just a cacophony of miserable people that I really don't wish to associate with (added irony: Facebook is a social networking site).

The end result of the cartoon is that the audience does not become infuriated about how to go about the politics, being uninformed of the changes and viewing both sides as useless, so instead they feel apathetic and unwilling to go along with anything. If change is required (i.e. if there is something wrong with the new policy guidelines, it should be addressed), this is damning for the flash as well, because if people are supposed to be irritated by invasive privacy guidelines for instance, this is NOT the cartoon that should be watched, because it does not address it properly or compel a side to be taken. In short, the cartoon fails at satire forever.

As for actual comedic value, there is little to be had. The author realized that the blue-shirt guy's singing could not be considered very funny but added a "Suck my dick" proclamation to compensate. It's utter tastelessness and (with the monitor) forces a Teen rating. The portrayal of Facebook users as whiny, nasal-pitched, ignorant, discontented jerks who complain endlessly does not help matters either. It's not only unfunny, but gives the impression (combined with the new and unknown policy changes) that Facebook is better off avoided altogether. As stated above (in case the audience was just as clueless, as the author may have assumed), Facebook is a social networking site. When you leave an impression to the audience such as this, then it means that you have no respect for socializing and that society itself is so pained and useless that you should not even bother trying to contribute.

In just a few minimalist brushstrokes, BPremo inadvertently and misanthropically created the political satire ghetto on Newgrounds.com. Congratulations.



Lonely man by train track Lonely man by train track

Rated 2.5 / 5 stars

Possibly one of the strangest low-key, low-budget short films I've seen in years.

At first, I imagined it was a parody, considering the use of the 2001 Space Odyssey theme score. Then it was silent for a long time and I DID NOT GET IT. Seriously. I waited a day before I reviewed, believing my gut instinct would be far from flattering. There is something to be learned by all critics who back off and notice something painfully wrong with their reviews. All emotion, no reasoning....

Now, it's about a doll living on the train tracks. It starts out strange and I was about to click away to something greater due to sound dissonance (only one repeating bird chirp track, which got old fast), but something compelled me to stick around before I plugged in a pr0n disc into my PS2 and called it quits for the night. Something... like I had the hope that this would actually turn out to be substantial for a change (the "Experimental" category is by no means a way to promote any piece, because Experimental means something made at the expense of the viewers' time. This is not one of those occurrences, so Anthony Hamilton lucked out there).

It's done in silent film and stop-motion modes, so the animation is very choppy; there is no way around it when you have a digital camera and have a very limited ability to pose the character in a real, natural setting. Worth every shot, but these results are more than inferior to work done indoors, preferably in a studio.

Other design flaws tend to scuff the experience. Overuse of melodic birds in trees. Now this is because Mr. Hamilton avoided including an original score (that may have fit the mood better.) The birds themselves contrast the odd themes explored in the movie, so it's probably just another mindscrew of the postmodern variety.

Conservation of Patience and Brevity: only at 1:49 does one understand (partially) the plot, or perhaps its major theme without checking the tags. Most Newgrounds viewers had yawned and clicked something that has a far greater body count. Another indication that "Lonely Man by Train Track" is "Experimental", and thus made at our expense. Not terribly flattering, Anthony.

A poor medium cannot mask a poor ending, especially one tailored to resemble an "open ended" one. Unsatisfactory: discovering the interesting moments of the movie was all just a dream (although that, in itself, should be telling of the character's day-to-day plight). Worst of all: the guy doesn't take actions to improve his lot as a result of the dream's revelations, rendering the whole goddamned movie worthless as a result. An insight is futile without action taken to honor the efforts toward that realization!

Other things that stuck out: really stupid cartoon sound effects for the sleeping transition sequence (silent film captions?!). Took me out of the suspension of disbelief just enough not to anticipate the end, if that makes any sense (it doesn't, especially to me). In other words, I stopped believing that this was a serious piece when I heard those sounds. They're there just to indicate sleeping, to illustrate to anyone who (seriously) paid any attention that the next scene may be a dream sequence instead of something otherwise surreal and random.

On that, the surreal moments in the dream, with the hourglass, bell, and incoming train DID creep me out. The rabbit doll and the gray-scale almost overdid it. Simply put, the movie shows where Anthony directed the most amount of love: the man's fantasy life, contrasting the monotony of his waking life. Very symbolic.

There are a lot of things I don't like about "Lonely Man by Train Track", but that should not dissuade the curious and perhaps jaded to check out a piece that isn't all about bitter parodies and violent mayhem. If a troll sought to conceive an incredibly lame pun about not caring about the plight of a plastic doll or figurine, mission accomplished. The eight words you do not want to have heard by anyone is: "I don't care what happens to these people." This is almost a case, but not the doll's fault.


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SLenderman in the forest SLenderman in the forest

Rated 3 / 5 stars

FunkMation is the rare breed that says "Less is More". Grunge exploded onto the scene this way. This hearkens back to the old Newgrounds that would release occasional minute jokes and gags with a minimum of production quality.

"Slenderman in the Forest" is all about a simple, stupid gag. He trips and falls face-first into shit.

Sound effects are overplayed. No replay button and little graphical splendor combine into a pretty harrowing image of where we have come from, and where we still are. Let's be serious: Tom Fulp and the rest of the Admins will throw this stuff onto the Front Page because, face it, this must have gotten several chuckles out of them. They figured it'd be even funnier if they shared the joke. So there: this is Underdog of the Week, or Turd of the Week receiving publicity. Don't get carried away just because you don't think it deserves Front Page. If it makes you chuckle in some way, it counts.

Also consider the irony. Slenderman is a boogeyman creature of reprehensible talent at stalking his victims, but if he's not doing that, is he one of us? Prone to the same sort of ridiculous mishaps? This author thinks so, and it says a lot about us when we think this is stupid on grounds of its technical inferiority and lowbrow humor. It's a statement about even the most heinous figure being fallible to some degree. Even if I'm reading too deeply into things, the same could be said of everyone else: failing to get something out that shows them just how stupidly they're taking this. If you think you're somehow above watching Slenderman fall face-first into a pile of freshly minted shit, then you're somehow below appreciating Newgrounds' all-inclusiveness and lack an open mind. Even a shit gag can be an aesop if you think hard enough.

Not that it's perfect, of course, as the tweening should have an actual bounding step to the rustle sound effects and falling should have a sound to accompany it. This is also terribly ghetto; despite the relevant charm, it's still ghetto and not for everybody. "Slenderman in the Forest" should be a quick cheap thrill for some, although your reaction determines how far you have come with the Newgrounds site as a whole. Perhaps someday you will check out older material and then back again to see that FunkMation has a certain charm all his own.


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FunkMation responds:

Thanks for the endoresment, i guess every animator has to develop their own style and ideas, and its nice to read that you appreciate i may be far from the best quality on here, yet at the same im just as far away from some of the worse stuff that people upload, its great that an average animator can get a little spotlight, lol, even if it does feel like most are willing to bash my testicles with a mallet! XD


every 1direction fan ever every 1direction fan ever

Rated 3 / 5 stars

First, 1direction required a search on Google. Not everybody is going to know who these guys are if they don't listen to top 40 radio stations. Second, the fan is identical to any other fan of anything else in that she subordinates reality for devotion. This is a timeless tale of anybody, so the 1direction aspect should be disregarded in full. Besides, boy bands are not a recent trend and these guys are nowhere near Beatles territory.

"every 1direction fan ever" should be "every fan ever" by virtue of stereotyping fan behavior and mannerisms. It's a morbidly obese girl whose distorted face and pectoral control verge on being inhuman. She dwells in a hellish fire-pit of her own making and constantly disregards her mother's chiding that it is past her bedtime (9:00pm?). She exhibits demonic traits and tackles her mother.

Sound mixing is a severe issue; headphones are not allowed while watching this. The pectoral gag is perhaps silliest of all, although I failed to laugh at it. Everything else... you can figure that out for yourself. On the flip-side, it is fluidly animated.

This is by no means perfect, but as an indictment against boy band fans, it's as generic as they come. "every 1direction fan ever" is not good enough to garner acclaim, but not bad enough for you to disregard. Like a boy band. Mediocrity is infuriating like that, no? Of course, a whole series of skits featuring fans of different venues (everything from Slayer to Newgrounds) might improve over time, assuming Tristious wishes to undertake a more ambitious endeavor.