Donkey Kong Country (1994 - SNES)

Donkey Kong Country is best known for its revolutionary ACM rendered graphics that give it an almost 3-dimensional look, far beyond anything that had appeared on a 16-bit system before it. But one thing many people realized once they got beyond the glitter is that the game itself was rather short and easy.

I won't argue that it isn't, but I will say that it does have some stages and jumping sequences that are perhaps better than the game often gets credit for. No, it's not quite the epic that its sequel, Diddy's Kong Quest would turn out to be, but it's definitely good while it lasts. And yes, it is VERY pretty to look at and listen to.

Finding all the hidden bonus stages can also be a fun extra challenge, although some of them are hidden so cheaply that you're probably going to have to FAQ at least one or two.
Rating: 3/5

Beauty and the Beast (1991 - Theater)

When I first saw Beauty and the Beast years ago when it originally came out, I was very alarmed by the idea of this woman who is held prisoner by a guy who's always screaming at her and scaring the hell out of her, and then she falls in love with him. And quite frankly, I still have a bit of a hard time resolving my feelings on this issue.

But after seeing it again as an adult, and being somewhat of an amateur cartoonist/writer myself, I'd rather see cartoons teach that it's possible to change your ways and for anyone to find love, rather than preaching that you are what you are and you can't change it, so don't bother trying. And off the top of my head, it's hard for me to think of a better example of this moral in a cartoon outside of maybe Dinobot in Beast Wars.

One thing that was kind of funny to observe - the same exact thing happened when I saw it in a theater this time that happened the first time I saw it - young children in the audience were terrified by the Beast's angry behavior and would cry every time he was on-screen, even when he wasn't doing anything particularly scary. This movie's imagery and theme tend to be on the dark side, even considering its more comedic moments and characters (LeFou), so it's not something I recommend for really little kids, despite the G rating. It's not just that, either, but are 5-year-olds really going to care about the romance plot?

Oh, yeah, I saw the 3D version. The added effect is okay, but the story, music, and animation are the real reasons to see it.
Rating: 4.5/5

Seinfeld, Season 7 (1995 - DVD)

One thing that worried me about Season 7 of Seinfeld was George's relationship with Susan. Sometimes, it's no fun watching two people who shouldn't be in a relationship try to have one. But it didn't turn out to be as bad as I feared since there are plenty of episodes where Susan isn't present or is only featured minimally. One effect this does have is that whereas previously I often found myself laughing more at George's antics than anyone else's, this became the "Season of Kramer". For as much as people seem to love quoting Fake George Steinbrenner's lines from "The Calzone" episode, I actually laughed much harder at Kramer's antics, which include running down the street with cargo pants loaded to the brim with loose change, then spilling half of it, and slipping and falling on it. More great Kramer moments occur when he runs all over New York City to escape his cable guy, installs a showerhead meant for elephants in his bathroom, and when he gets stuck in a pair of skinny jeans.

Season 7 also contains the infamous Soup Nazi episode, which is one of those things that's just inexplicably funny. And if you're anything like me, "The Rye" episode will forever cause you to find the words "Marble Rye" endlessly hilarious.

While the fate of Susan in the season finale has caused much controversy, I neither feel compelled to defend it or criticize it. I guess the best I can say is that I just didn't care.
Rating: 4.5/5

The Very Best of the Doobie Brothers (2007 - CD)

The first album I've decided to cover for the Capsule Reviews is a greatest hits compilation for the 70's rock group, The Doobie Brothers, and the reason is because I have a few things I really want to say about it.

First of all, yes, I'm glad that the album does contain all of my favorite Doobie Brothers songs, including, Long Train Runnin', China Grove, Listen to the Music, Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me), Rockin' Down the Highway, Jesus is Just Alright, and my absolute #1 all-time favorite, Black Water.

But, in retrospect, I wish I had gotten the actual albums they came from because this 2-CD set contains songs from both the Tom Johnston era and the Michael McDonald era, and I tell ya, Tom Johnston Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald Doobie Brothers sound like two completely different bands. So, what happens is that the album shoots its wad early and then over half of it is McDonald singing smooth jazz/soft rock numbers that, while occasionally having a bright spot like "What a Fool Believes" and "Takin' it to the Streets", just doesn't sound like it belongs on here at all.

I realize that chronological order trumps all when it comes to tracklisting, but I also would have preferred if all the Tom Johnston stuff had been on the first disc and all the Michael McDonald stuff on the second so that I could just not listen to the second disc, but since Johnston came back to the band after a few years of absence, some of his later stuff is mixed in on Disc 2.
Rating: 3/5



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