Movie Games: ELF (2003)

Welcome the second edition of Movie Games a series where we look at a film and then its video game counterparts to not only discuss a games quality but how accurate of an adaptation it is.

In this Christmas episode I will be deep diving into the the 2003 comedy film ELF starring Will Ferrell, this movie only had one videogame adaptation releasing on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance the same year as the film.

First a Recap of the movie and I wont be shy on spoilers so be wary!

On Christmas Eve a baby from an orphanage crawls into Santa’s Sack and is taken to the North Pole, an older Elf agrees to raise the baby and 30 years later the now adult and much taller Buddy is struggling to fit in with the elves, he finds out he is a human and decides to travel to New York City to find his real father Walter Hobbs.

Buddy passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Upon arrival in New York Buddy is searching everywhere for his Father, causing havoc along the way, eating discarded gum, running around evolving doors and jumping across zebra crossings.

He finds his father in the Empire state building but is soon thrown out after Security is called by Walter Hobbs himself, the security sarcastically suggests Buddy goes back to Gimbels.

Taking the request literally Buddy goes into the department store and is mistaken for an employee of Santa’s Village here he meets the friendly but unenthusiastic Jovie, Buddy is so excited for Santa coming to visit the store that he stays behind over night to decorate the store. The next morning Santa comes to the store but its an imposter, Buddy rips off his beard and a fight ensues, Buddy is arrested but bailed out by Walter Hobbs who takes him to a doctor for a DNA test which proves a positive match!

Walter reluctantly takes his Son home to meet his wife Emily and his other son Michael, Walter doesn’t warm up to Buddy as quickly as Emily does and wants to throw him out onto the streets but Emily insists that Buddy stays with them until he recovers from his fantasies.

Buddy soon becomes a friend of Michael after he defeats his school bullies in an epic snowball fight, the two mess around the Gimbles department store and bump into Jovie, Michael encourages Buddy to ask her out and she says yes, after the date goes really well Buddy runs to his dads works to tell him that he is in love not knowing that world renowned author Miles Finch is there.

Finch who is short in stature is mistaken for an Elf by Buddy and his extremely offended walking out on his deal with Walter, Walter in a rage tells buddy to stay out of his life, buddy leaves and writes a goodbye letter to his family, while making his way back through New York City he spots Santa’s Sleigh crashed at Central Park, the Sleigh runs on Christmas Spirit but it had finally ran out and Santa asks Buddy to help him get it back.

Meanwhile Walter is now in another meeting with the CEO of the company after he finds Miles Finches notebook which is full of ideas, Michael bursts in and emotionally convinces Walter to choose family over work losing his job in the process, Walter and Michael find buddy in Central Park, the two makeup and help Buddy with his mission, Walter dresses as Santa to try and divert the Park Rangers while Michael takes Santa’s list and reads it on live TV convincing viewers of Santa’s existence.

Jovie remembers when Buddy told her “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” and begins singing Santa Claus is coming to town, the New Yorkers all join in and even Walter gets in on the action finally giving the sleigh enough power to fly again. In the finale we see Buddy spending Christmas with his family and the following year visiting his Papa Elf in the North Pole along with his Wife Jovie and their baby Susie, a truly happy ending.

The GBA videogame is a 2D platformer and for the most part it controls fine but the game is really bare bones when it comes to its gameplay, this is as generic as 2D platformers can get.

I will give some props to the game for adding various goals into some stages such as collecting all of Christmas Lights and the letters to spell NEWYORK.

Other stages are designed as either top down platformers or minigames, the worst of these stages is easily jumping across the Icebergs, this stage had really bad issues with landing, in most cases you would hit the water when you had definitely landed on the iceberg but because it wasn’t centred the game took that as a miss, the stage is very long and at some points the platforms you need land on are moving which makes it even worse.

Jumping is very floaty in the game in all platforming levels, the iceberg was definitely the worst offender but some other simple platforming such as jumping over the polar bears also proved to be needlessly difficult at times.

The minigame stages are all fine but very generic and extremely easy, examples of what to expect are the usual repeat the button presses, link up the pipes and hit the targets, minigame staples that we see in almost any game.

I’m not going to criticise the game on being generic as that’s almost expected from this, what I will criticise however is how lazy this adaptation actually is they use screenshots from the movie with no dialogue text to give players any idea on what is going on and to top this off the levels are not even accurate to movie.

Small errors such as the snowball fight including elves instead of school bullies,a lack of Walter Hobbs and his family (minus one screenshot at the end of the game) levels with plots including collecting Christmas lights, helping Santa deliver presents and a very small number of movie screenshots which no context make me wonder if this was released either before the movie or developed by a team who had no idea of the plot, needless to say its a pretty lame game and an even worse movie adaptation.

The soundtrack is awful we are only given some very simple audio loops or really bad chiptunes of Christmas songs just another another way to rush development and give the game even less originality.

This Christmas watch the movie but do yourself a favour and skip the GBA game!

2.7/10

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Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien was first released in 1937 and was the first story in the Middle Earth series and acts as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, it tells the story of Bilbo Baggins a hobbit who enjoys the simple things in life, sitting by the fire, reading books and smoking his pipe, one day Bilbo is visited by Gandalf the Wizard and a band of Dwarves who wants his help to steal a vast treasure from the Dragon Smaug who lives inside of the Lonely Mountain.

I think this book does a fantastic job at displaying character growth and change, this is especially prevalent with Bilbo Baggins who begins his journey as a hermit and a recluse, hiding away in his Hobbit hole and living a boring life ending the story as a Hero, someone who has experienced the outside world and now understands a greater value of themselves while still enjoying the simpler things in life.

The Dwarves minus the leader Thorin Oakenshield are mostly forgettable and struggled to maintain my interest, Thorin definitely has the most character development due to his tough nature and general grumpiness towards Mr Baggins, he is also a Dwarven King who is desperately trying to reclaim the Dwarven home in the Lonely Mountain.

Gandalf plays a small role in this story as a means to bring our band of heroes together, he comes and goes as goes offering small bits of advice to Thorin and company but overall does not stick around and takes a step back in comparison to his role in the later Lord of the Rings story. I think Gandalf’s absence here is actually to the books benefit for a few reasons, first of all he is far too powerful and while the orcs and goblins are a threat in this they would be no match for the more powerfully superior Gandalf the Grey.

The other reason is because his absence gives Bilbo more of a chance to become a hero by using his wits and quick thinking to solve problems in ways that are unique to his character. Gandalf is not only a very powerful magic caster but is also incredibly wise and intelligent so would already know the best ways to defeat enemies. Bilbo uses his quick thinking to trick the creature Gollum during his game of riddles not only saving his life but allowing him to keep the magic ring he found.

The main purpose of this story was too expand into the Lord of the Rings so Bilbo discovering the ruling ring is the most important and prevalent part of the book, here the ring does turn the wearer invisible but Middle Earth was still not fully imagined so Mount Doom, Sauron and the Nazgul were still very much absent at this point.

For as short as this book is coming in at only 304 pages Tolkien’s writing style allows for some decent world building without taking away from the main story, the descriptions are subtle but do the job in allowing readers to fully imagine how Tolkein had drafted the different areas such as Rivendell and the Mountain to be.

Some major differences worth noting between this book and the three motion picture adaptations are as follows

During the scene with the trolls in the movie Bilbo keeps them talking about how to cook the Dwarves before the sun turns them to stone but in the book it is actually Gandalf who tricks them by throwing his voice to sound like one of the other trolls.

In the book Bilbo gets his Elven blade sting from the Trolls cave where as in the movie it is first discovered by Gandalf.

Saruman and Galandriel are not mentioned in the book but do make appearances in the motion pictures.

Radagast the Brown is one of my favourite characters in the book but his role is vastly increased during the movies,

In the movies we get to see fan favourite character Legolas make a return, he is not mentioned in the book

Finally Azog the white Orc leader is not in the book but is part of Middle Earth lore being killed years before Bilbo’s Journey.

Other major differences are in connection with character deaths that I do not want to spoil here.

I have read the Hobbit three times and it I cannot wait to read it again, it is one of my favourite stories and holds a very important place in literary history, if your not a fan of reading I recommend listening to the story read by Andy Serkis (Voice and character actor for Gollum) he does a fantastic job and even commits to his iconic Gollum Voice!

This is one adventure you surely do not want to miss out on

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A Christmas Story (1983) Review

A Christmas Story is far from a classic that I grew up with but over seas in the USA this is considered by many one of the most important and special holiday films by many people, the film is often played on a loop during Christmas Eve Television hours and to this day is still one of the most commercialised holiday films in the United States.

The film was based on an extract of the book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by radio comedian Jean Shepard, Shepard became well known for telling slightly fictionalised story’s from his childhood during 1960’s radio programmes.

One of these programmes discussed a boy getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole this inspired Bob Clark to write and direct the film with a similar moment of a boy Flick getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole becoming one of its most memorable scenes.

The film took place during the late 1940’s and focused on a young boy named Ralphie who is desperately trying to convince his parents and even Santa to get him the brand new Red Ryder BB Gun but everyone tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out kid”.

I think the movie holds such an impact because it is really relatable and nostalgic to a lot of viewers, it can connect with kids who really want that one present and as adults we remember that childhood desperation of getting the gift we wanted, personally I remember day dreaming over the PS2, the Xbox 360 a Birdhouse Skateboard and a puppy, the Christmas day we got our first dog is one of the best memories I ever had, my parents never wanted a dog and put off the idea for years so when he turned up on Christmas Day we were all crying, years of begging paid off and I got my late Labrador Alfie and he was my Red Ryder BB Gun.

The casting for the film is really great but I think props need to be given to the cast who play Ralphie and his family they give a really heartfelt and realistic portrayal of a family which doesn’t rely on stereotypical character types but in fact feels like the average household who will be watching the film.

I think everyone can relate to Ralphie we have all wanted our dream present at one point and in ways we can relate to the parents as adults with the struggles of allowing a dangerous toy into their home and also having to balance the costs and stresses of the holidays while taking care of two young boys, the fussy eating from little brother Randy is also a very real issue for a lot of children and parents.

Some of my favourite scenes in the movie also relate back to moments in my life from being terrified of dodgy mall Santa’s and displaying crappy awards and prizes that I never really cared about but kept because its free and of course getting my tongue stuck on a pole which I recall being extremely painful btw and I do not recommend.

I’m finding it difficult to deep dive too much into this film because I never grew up with it and while it connects with me in someways it has never made it into my regular Christmas movie marathon, I suppose I have never really cared much for a Christmas Story even though I respect it for a lot of it’s qualities and its strange because there isn’t much I dislike about the film if I had to be pick something the day dream segments can be a little bit cringe worthy but again they are very memorable moments in the movie

A Christmas Story may not be one of my personals favourite holiday movies but for a lot of people this is an essential part of the holidays which shouldn’t be missed and if you get the chance why not give it a try to see if you feel the same, the film has left a cultural impact for a reason and is overall a very good film which is well worth a viewing even if it is only once.

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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