Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where I've been and how things stand right now part...I lost count and I don't really care to count anyway

No, no need to get all alarmed and everything just explaining why there hasn't been much updates (and why there won't be for maybe a little while):

 - right now I'm sick which means the fact that I'm even writing this is a minor miracle. No, not majorly sick just "I have a cold" sick.

 - Also just right now I've been busy. I've...just been trying to clear out my DVR. Yes clearing out my DVR is more important than this blog, which probably goes a long way towards explaining my grand total readership of like the five of you.

 - ...actually, well...I can somewhat justify clearing out my DVR as being in the area of business related towards my blog as I've been binge-watching every episode of the first season of I Am Frankie, Backstage (yes that show that aired its S1 finale just over a year ago so sue me) and now I'm working on Mako Mermaids (yes that show that last aired on Disney Channel nearly two years ago) and Ride (yes that show that was on at the beginning of the year) and The Lodge (yes the one that has Dove Cameron on it now). Also a few DCOMs lingering left over from the 100th DCOM celebration (yes the one that was also nearly a year and a half ago that coincided with Adventures in Babysitting, P.S. there's been kind of a reason why those have been just lingering on my DVR).Oh, and Thundermans: Thunder in Paradise. Yes I'm pretty much just a hoarder when it comes to DVR recordings. And, um, kind of everything else if you knew me in real life.

 - Also, I've been looking for a new job, or more specifically, just, uh, I guess you can say "reposition" my current work. As you may know I work in the publishing industry but I've been spending the last few months looking for a specific change, so that I can basically do exactly what I'm doing now - offering editing, agency and consulting services - but instead working for organizations and advocacy groups for survivors of violence and abuse who wish to tell their stories. 

 - On that note and in regards to why I want to work with survivors in this capacity...uhhh...I've consulted with some of my most active readers on this blog (and since there's a readership of only like five to begin with...yeah you probably know exactly who you are) because given recent topics in current events I feel it's important to address the institutionalization of sexism, sex assault and rape in entertainment since you damn well bet that's a relevant topic for this blog, with a number of child stars including Debby Ryan having come forward about being targeted by sexual assault at some point in their careers. But in order to address that I need to address certain...problems with how child stars that for example typically headline Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows are treated in entertainment media (if you know the latest controversy surrounding how some entertainment news media have treated and referred to Millie Bobby Brown...yeah, exactly like that) and...well, it's kind of hard to do that when the biggest offender I know, whether personally or on social myself.

You can probably go through any given review or post and you'll have no trouble finding references and remarks to the physical appearance of actresses, many of whom are 18 or at least barely over. Hell, I've awarded MVP awards to actresses for things reviewed just because they happen to be the prettiest, often for episodes or movies they don't even actually appear in. Yes, it's a problem, and it's my problem, or specifically I'm helping to perpetuate the problem. Yes I'm aware of it, I even made it my new year's resolution to stop, and given that it's already nearly Thanksgiving well obviously I performed the classic American tradition of not keeping to it. I'm hoping that maybe having a wider conversation about it, or well a blog post at least, will help.

But I also have to fess up to other things. I was going to mention this in a more specific, dedicated post and I'll be repeating all this fresh in such a post but...I really need to come out too. The issue of institutionalized sexual assault is a particular issue that's close to me for a number of reasons that you may already know if you're a regular follower of this blog (so like, exactly no one but still) but also for reasons that I haven't really talked about for years and years. I've had people very, very close to me be victimized by assault and rape (and by that I very specifically mean my fiancee)...and I've committed actions that by today's standards can be construed as sexual assault...and I myself have been victimized by sexual assault and attempted rape.

But like I said, I'll talk about all that in a dedicated post, I just want to briefly touch on my own actions - I never physically assaulted someone (not that I remember anyway, as cheesy a defense as that is - but keep in mind this was years ago and I actually have a proven medical condition towards forgetfulness) but I've definitely made women feel uncomfortable in a way that can be construed as harassment in a way that, at the time, I didn't understand (this was years ago when I was young, a tween and even teen). I don't want to sound like I'm defending people who commit assault, but a big part of it is that there's definitely a lack of education about it when I was growing up. I certainly hope that's changed, but a lack of education is what I really do believe lead to the institutionalization of sexual assault. 

How I came around to learning and understanding about what it means to survive sexual assault, I had to do it the hard way. And no I'm not even talking about when I myself survived physical contact sexual assault and attempted rape, that's a piece of cake compared to how I actually had to learn - when I met the most wonderful woman I've ever met and I had to learn from her the horror stories of what happens to a person who survived extremely horrific rape, the details of which literally made me break down into tears when I shared them with professionals I trust (which, sorry but doesn't include any of you guys). The relevant details I can share I've already done so in a previous post over a year ago anyway, you can go find it yourself for the time being.

But like I said, I'll cover all this in a dedicated post.

 - Also, some of my friends and co-workers seem to think my calling in life is to be a book reviewers. So I'm like, ok, I'll see about reviewing books then. Not as just another hobby blog either but for one of the big review sites in a paid position, so I'll have a go at that. BTW did I mention I have a dedicated book review blog now? And by "now" I mean about a year or so before I even created this one, even though it's completely empty because of course it is.

 - Also, same said friends and co-workers seem to think it's my calling in life to be a YA author so, yeah I can try that too. I figure I can start out by adapting my Liv and Maddie script into a fanfic (yes I wrote one of those). 

 - Also we have a Tumblr now (well, I have a Tumblr, Mike's kinda on his on on that, sorry). Don't worry we're not fully migrating over there anytime..ever. In fact I'm just going to repost things there for more follows/readership and readership interaction, all content will be first and foremost posted here on this Blogspot. More than anything I'm just having a Tumblr to interact with one of my most favorite Tumblr blogs, Analyzing Taylor (yes I'm also a Tay-Tay head, I'm sure this surprises exactly no one).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Shimmer & Shine Reviewed: Underground Bound (S3E1.../2)

What is it? What used to be a 2D animated (well CGI still but that's a topic I've already covered variously) 30-minute format cartoon on Nick Jr., but starting the second season (so including this episode) 11-minute A-B format complete 3D CGI cartoon
Where did it air? Nickelodeon's morning Jr. block/Nick Jr.-proper.
Who stars in it? 

I mean, since we've been on a Lacey Chabert review kick all this month anyway instead of, you know, actual Halloween stuff.

Except the episode we're reviewing does not have Lacey Chabert in it at all, but we'll get into why we're reviewing this, uh, immediately right now.
Why are we reviewing this? ...

...remember Girl Meets The Tell-Tale Tot? 

(insert Pepperidge Farm remembers Family Guy joke)

Girl Meets The Tell-Tale Tot is the worst episode of what's still a gravely overrated series. FACT. If you can't handle this, then here's my advice:
If this blog had been around when Girl Meets The Tell-Tale Tot was new, we wouldn't be giving it an F minus minus. We'd be inventing a new lowest grade possible, just for Meets The Tell-Tale Tot.

Then again this was the same year that gave us Invisible Sister so maybe something was just in the water. I bet Disney Channel would love nothing but to eradicate the entirety of 2015 from its own memory, and the memory of its viewers.

Anyway, why so much vitriol against Tot? Where would I even begin? But aside from the crappy puppet and plot and acting and literally everything and being documented proof that Micheal Jacobs should've stayed retired, it committed the biggest cardinal sin a children's show of any demo or genre can possibly commit, the only one worse than bad storytelling and narrative:

It was teaching your tween kid the absolutely wrong kind of lesson.

And by that I mean in a very literal sense, in the "hey kids! It's perfectly OK to go out and play in the middle of traffic!" kind of very wrong lesson.

I know it's trying to teach some lesson about wrong influence and beware of older kids who might try to lead you astray, but it just ended up coming off as "perfectly normal young adults who give out sisterly advice should be treated like seductresses of Satan because this is a goddamn after school special where we need to teach children to be afraid of everything for their own damned good."

It was...exactly the type of thing that would force me to keep my own daughter (if I had one) away from Girl Meets World. I mean it.

What I'm saying is, this is literally an anti-lesson. It's teaching your kids things you don't want your kids to learn. And I don't mean stuff like learning about the birds and the bees at 6 years old (that's an entirely different thing/debate), I mean, again, stuff nearly on the level of teaching your 6 year old to go play in traffic.

Shimmer and Shine's Underground Bound is...exactly the same thing. It teaches wrong lessons to the point where I would simply not allow my own kids to watch this episode. I mean it.

If you're not familiar with the basic plot of Shimmer and Shine well...for starters the show underwent a very drastic retool between S1 and S2, both plot-wise and in its very format. Originally it was about Leah and her two genie pals (that she got for...reasons never disclosed) Shimmer and Shine and how they'd grant her three wishes a day...for some reason...and how these wishes would always get them in trouble because cartoon. It was a very charming series in its presentation and Lisa Frank-ripoff art style, and it generally taught very good if not repetitive lessons.

Then for S2 Leah joined Shimmer and Shine in the actual Genie world where they have more randomized adventures, and although the lessons are not necessarily as overt and explicit (not necessarily a good or bad thing), the show's managed to maintain a good healthy charm. The aforementioned Lacey Chabert joins the cast as the show's first and only recurring villain, Zeta (that's pronounced with a very hard and firm "e") but as I said she's not in this one.

Either way, even in the Genie world Leah is still limited to three wishes, and the magical bottle that she has that's the source of Shimmer and Shine's power (although granted it tends to be rather inconsistent with this) falls into the hands of a little rodent mole-thing. The little rodent-mole thing is of a race of other rodent-mole things who literally live to dig and, I'll quote, digging makes everything better! But he doesn't like digging so he's trying to build a machine to make digging faster. The other rodents don't like it because "it looks complicated," and well it doesn't work. But he wishes for it to work and since he has Leah's genie bottle, well, it does work. Fast forward and he got away from Leah and the Genies but he doesn't understand how it works, while the other...ok apparently these things are called Grunts both unimaginative and a little on the nose but whatever...just try to convince him to dig instead. And then he wastes his final wish wishing he knew how it worked and then he just stands there like a moron making random wishes because the bottle already granted all its wishes for the day and Leah and the Genies just catch up with him and take it back. And then his digger machine goes haywire and causes a mess, but then Leah manages to make it work to rescue everyone. Then Shimmer (or is it Shine?) hands the little Grunt a shovel and then after being told to dig and digging a little bit he says, you know what, digging is kinda fun!

Yeah, this episode is a mess.

Episode Grade: F minus minus. Taken on strictly its own narrative merits it would still probably be a D+ as it's just not a very interesting episode with much of anything happening, but I feel morally obligated to give it our lowest score possible because of it's anti-lesson. I mean, I get it, teaching little kids to be pro-social is important, but there's that and then there's just being conformist. The ultimate lesson behind this episode is: a life of drudgery and manual labor is fun because it's fun to be conformist, and designing inventions that can make people's lives easier is bad, because it's not conformist.

No. No. No no no big no. Fuck that shit. F minus minus's all around.

Episode MVP: Fuckin' Me for being the gospel fighting these anti-lessons everywhere.

Extra Thoughts

  - As I'm writing this I'm watching Monster High Adventures of Ghoul Squad: Howliday Edition on Nick and...Sweet Baby Gebuz it's gone some wonky as hell animation including some extremely distracting framerate issues. What was the budget for this one, five dollars? I think I might end up having to give that movie an F just for animation quality issues alone, if I bothered to watch it all. Which I'm not.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mean Girls YA Novel Mini-Review

One time Regina George punched me in the face. It was awesome.

What is it? Young Adult novelization of Mean Girls movie (see our review for that which is down below, somewhere)
Where did it air?'s a book so....
Who stars in it? Well again it's a book but it is a novelization of a very famous movie so here's a refresher.

It stars her



And her

Why are we reviewing this? Well I figure since we reviewed the movie and my book copy finally came in I figure why not?

Speaking of which, there are two theories about book vs. movie adaptations. The first is that there should be at least some fundamental, appreciative differences between the two, otherwise what's the point of having the same story in different mediums? Of course it's not very helpful to diverge too far otherwise you run into another serious question: what's the point of even having it keep the same title? We've seen this kind of extreme especially in DCOMs like Frenemies, Zapped and Invisible Sister; in Frenemies and Zapped they literally just kept the character names and spun the plots out of brand-new whole cloth, and they both ended up equally having practically zero resemblance to the source material (at least in Zapped they did give it a new title, but again the plots diverged so much one has to wonder if they had given the characters new names if they no longer legally obligated themselves to having a "based on the novel" credit) while Invisible Sister didn't even go that far, just completely running away with the "sister who's invisible" concept and probably claiming a resemblance to the book just to avoid legal troubles with having a similar title. 

And then there's the other school of thought that says that the movie should be as close to the book as possible because...that's what people want? I mean, I get it, it does feel like a betrayal when characters or plot details are changed but...change, like any narrative tool, is just that - a tool. And it can be good or bad depending on how it's used. Plus this argument tends to hold more water when it's a book-to-movie adaptation, not the other way around.

And that's what we have here, a movie-to-book adaptation, about a dozen years after the fact, in fact. I don't know if even Tina Fey herself anticipated Mean Girls being the cultural phenomenon it ended up being, even after that dozen years later, to the point where it has a whole day dedicated to it based entirely off a random throw-away line from the movie, a line who's whole point was that it was throw-away. Given that, it's inevitable a book would eventually follow - in fact it's surprising it took this long, really.

Of course the other quirk involved is that Mean Girls, the movie, already is based on a book, Queen Bees and Wannabes - but as we covered in the movie review, yeah, that's a self-help book. Fey pretty much just took the title and ran with it, Frenemies/Zapped/Invisible Sister-style, to weave her own tale.Of course, history remembers her running quite successfully with it. 

So how does the Street Fighter: The Video Game: The Movie: The Video Game-esque inception of book-to-movie-to-book come out? 

Well for starters I liked it, it certainly recreated the best moments of the movie very well. In fact it...really is like reading the movie, except with parts from the perspectives of Regina, Gretchen and Karen which was nifty. Some people on Goodreads got annoyed by really how close it followed the movie, but at the very least Ostow captures it very well. And just as she did with getting into Regina's/Gretchen's/Karen's headspace, she does a good job actually introducing us to Cady's perspective coming in from being homeschooled by her research-obsessed parents in Africa and even sneaking in a few references and homages to Queen Bees and Wannabes (the constant references to "Girl World," QB&W's term for the artificial construct of social hierarchy girls inhabit).

So, there you have it. Honestly, your enjoyment will depend on how much you want to relive the movie, and in a form other than the movie itself, and it'll probably be mostly appreciated by either super-fans or younger teen readers who tend to be really into both this book genre in general and just re-reading the movie. If you don't really find yourself thinking of the movie that much, even on October 3, you might not really find reading this book all that necessary.

Book Grade: I gave it four stars on Goodreads which I guess translates to...I dunno, a B+? Unless Mike insists on it, and since GMWReviewed seems to have gone into near-permanent hibernation, I don't really feel any obligation to be compatible with them/rip them off and I'll probably retire the letter grading scheme and just go with a flat descriptive sentence, something along the lines of "yes it's worth reading blah blah blah."

Or let me put it this way: if you're really into Mean Girls or haven't had a lot of exposure to it yet but you really like catty high school chick lit with an out-from-left-field but satisfying twist, it might be worth a hardcover purchase. If not, it might be worth a library checkout still.

Favorite Character: Despite the diversity of perspectives this is still very much Cady's story, but another thing the book does is letting Janis stand out more, to the point where I think she really steals her scenes even more than in the movie.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Ummm...nothing in particular. Although There are extra goodies thrown into the book like text/diary excerpts and at the end an illustrated guide of the school including all the clique divisions.

 - Oh, and that does remind me - it is a bit awkward having Gretchen talk about how she couldn't imagine her life without three-way calling...and then having all the characters text to each other. It's a bit anachronistic by modern standards, needless to say. I wonder if maybe it would've been better to just have the book take place back around '05 or so when the movie was first released?

Andi Mack Reviewed: I didn't catch the episode yet (S2E1)

I didn't see it yet

I didn't see it yet. I haven't even seen the S1 finale yet

Episode grade: I dunno yet
Episode MVP: I dunno yet

Extra thoughts:

 - I dunno yet

 - Ok so I saw the "crazy stuff that went down" on Twitter according to you guys what qualifies as "crazy stuff that went down" is also "stuff that people had been saying since Season 1, back when we first got introduced to Cyrus." Also go back and re-read my "Why Harry Hook Isn't an LGBT Character (Unless Proven Otherwise)" Essay.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It's the DCOM 20th anniversary!

Like, yesterday, or two days ago. There's more going in this space, I'm just super-busy. I just wanted to let people know that, no, I didn't forget or didn't see it.

UPDATE: Ok, I have some exciting news, I think I've pretty much convinced ZETUS LAPODCAST to collab with us do to a special DCOM post (I think what it will end up being is an interview with him on the exact history and nature of DCOMs) so watch this space!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why we're not reviewing Ducktales (until January) and we have a new contest!

So first off, yeah, we're not reviewing Ducktales. Until January. There's a very specific reason why.

It's because Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) can't resist being Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) and air the stupid episodes out of order. 

Yeah, in other words Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) have learned exactly zero lessons from the scheduling debacles from Girl Meets World (or a whole bunch of other stuff, for that matter). Again, Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel.

How do I know all this? Well I know Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel because of a proven, demonstrated propensity to be a bunch of, as YouTuber Claus Kellerman would put it, a complete team of muppets but you're probably wondering how I know that they're out of order and what should be the proper order to begin with. It's because the creators/showrunners themselves said so on their Twitter and Tumblr accounts (I'll link to them once I can find them again). They had a particularly logical order for all the episodes, and again, because Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel (or, I guess, Disney XD's gonna Disney XD) they're going to mess all that up and just do whatever the hell they feel like, which is again a demonstrated propensity to be a complete team of muppets (or sea of super-stupids, to use another Claus Kellerman-ism). They had an early episode that's being held back until December (or Fa-la-laidays, or whatever the hell Disney Channel feels like calling it now) because this episode has snow in it.

Whatever. Anyway, the creators published the "true" order (again I'll link to it) and since I've been letting it build on my DVR anyway, I figure might as well binge watch it in the order God (or rather, the creators) intended.

Then I'll review it.

Also, we have a contest! I don't have any prizes yet and because the budget of this blog equals the amazingly staggering amount of $0.00 you can bet it's cheesy, but I'll do my best. Anyway, here's the contest:

Someone explain to me why ya'll like Invisible Sister so much.

Yup, that's it. I'm doing this because in the two years since it's premiere exactly no one has been able to successfully do this. Not even Mike.

So there. Come up with a logically, well-constructed explanation as to why Invisible Sister is good, or a least not the complete and utter garbage pile I think it is.

Like I said, I'll try to come up with some prize.

Although I'm wondering if I should even bother because I'm that confident nobody will be able to.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library Nickelodeon Original Movie Reviewed

How does that even work? That doesn't even make any sense! (yes this is an actual quote taken from the movie)

What is it? Nickelodeon Original Movie adapted from best-selling children's book
Where did it air? Well given that it's a Nickelodeon Original Movie...the world may never know.
Who stars in it? Casey Simpson and Breanna Yde are going to be the most obviously recognizable stars for people who follow this blog's typical subject matter, by far. For many of the players in this movie, such as say Klarke Pipkin (Sierra) and Hayley Sherpenisse (who plays...Haley) this is their very first role of any significance whatsoever (by that, a character who actually gets a name and assigned lines and all) or even literally their first role, period. Or like Katey Hoffman, who plays Dr. Zinchenko, who may have had some leading-ish roles before but not a whole lot of roles period before, but moreover Good Dear Sweet Baby Ge-Buz she's really hot.
Also...and I know I maintain such mature, high-standards on this blog and all but...Hayley Sherpenisse has a glaringly unfortunate last name, now that I actually bothered to type it out.
Why are we reviewing this? You may have read our recent review of the original book (which is down below, somewhere) and hey it's a NOM so yeah, why not? know how people like to say hurr de la hurr de hurr the book is better than the movie?


At first it was actually quite faithful and accurate to the book. Then the opening credits went up. Then it started being less faithful. Then it...I dunno, but it sure became something that I can only describe as, uh, something.

I don't know if I did a good enough job conveying this during my original book review, but now that I've actually seen the NOM, I think I can do a better job of that now, because I definitely have a clear, decent picture of what was missing from the NOM.

As I said in said review (heh), the strength of Mr. Lemoncello's Library isn't necessarily in the plot or the characters but the puzzles, particularly the word and logic puzzles. And true to its word (pun intended) Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a loving tribute to libraries and books in book form itself, with lots of references to popular children's, teens and older books - including some pretty current ones. Frequent references to Hunger Games for example, not to mention to James Patterson's middle school and YA books (as I mentioned, Chris Grabenstein also co-wrote many of those books with Patterson). Grabenstein was even nice enough to compile a PDF of all the books referenced in the so-far two books (which just recently was expanded to three, the third one officially launching the day after this NOM). It's the reference/wordplay, puns, word puzzles and logic puzzles that really make Mr. Lemoncello's Library as great a read as it is.

...aaaannnd of course all of that's going to be super-hard to translate onto a TV screen with a basic cable network catering to tween's budget.

Yeah, I'm going to make that a sticking point. I really think it would've translated better with a bigger, cinema wide-release budget, even if it's for a movie that would get stuck in the middle of April or September or even here in October or something (and all the budgetary implications that carries). And the books' sales at least suggest something towards justifying that. Then again I know big-budget movie adaptations of YA books, especially fantasy and sci-fi, haven't been doing all that well despite what Hunger Games and Harry Potter and even Percival Jackson makes people think (and yeah, of all people I probably should understand this most of all because it's more or less literally my job to do so, even beyond this blog). I understand The Book Thief under-performed - which is understandable because it's depressing as hell. I also know say for example Ender's Game was a disaster, and the Divergent movie series gets to have the distinction of being a moving disaster, with each film performing less until we've gotten to the point where they're talking made-for-tv-movie with naturally recast actors and even that seems to be an utter trainwreck cratering straight into Development Hell. 

But that's the thing, there are actually specific reasons why those movies didn't do well or outright bombed. The Book Thief, well, was depressing as hell, and it's also my understanding a bunch of German and Australian producers and some German and Australian studios (Marcus Zuzak, the original author, is Australian and as for Ze Germans well...if you know anything about the plot of the book you could probably figure it out why they'd get involved) really pushed for it as a passion project, full well taking the risk that it might not do well in American theaters with hopes that international box office returns will more than make up for it. The ascending failure of The Divergent movies can be explained in that they're just really trite, contrived, cliched pat movies based on really trite, contrived, cliched pat source material. I mean, I'm not in the habit of knocking on authors especially but really - The Hunger Games is actually very solidly, well-written and in comparison Divergent is pretty much just paint-by-numbers and I'm sorry but it just drives home how much of a cash-in it was.

And as for Ender's Game, that whole movie was just blown out the ass (although, to it's credit, it was pretty faithful to the book - but yeah something was lost in translation, most experts apparently laying the blame strictly at the directorial effort and lead actor, Asa Butterfield. Again I'm not in the habit of picking on particular actors, especially child actors, so sorry Asa - I understand your career's been pretty decent since though but sorry you got stuck with that turd).

As for Mr. Lemoncello's Library here - the super-shrunk budget combined with Nickelodeon's compulsion to have to make it "Nickelodeon-y" sapped out everything that hallmarked the source material. Here's the thing, too - Nickelodeon has an actual cinematic movie studio. No I'm not just talking about glombing onto Paramount Studios or any other assets made available throughout the vast Viacom/CBS Empire - I mean, in the same vein as sister network MTV, they literally have their own movie studio, appropriately called Nickelodeon Film Studios. They did the Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging movie, the original Harriet the Spy movie with Michelle Trachtenberg, Clock Stoppers (remember that one? It had French Stewart in it!) and Fun Size with Victoria Justice which were actually released on theaters (and yes I actually did see all of those, yes even Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging heck I've read some of the books, natch), I think they did a few more too.

But...stepping back from "book-fidelity...." It's...just a standard Nickelodeon kids' action movie. A lot like Legend of the Hidden Temple, actually. Come to think of it, that movie was probably better, not to mention more faithful to the source material. At least Legends of the Hidden Temple had context for its physical-based obstacles and puzzles. Mr. Lemoncello's Library...had like one or two real logic puzzles, and with one the audience didn't have much of a chance to play along and the other...was pretty insultingly simple (READ, PEOPLE! READ!) The rest were pretty much just physical challenges (made un-urgent if not moot by the knowledge that these kids are in a movie with a lot of CGI-assistance), glorified sight gags or even just "find the book title but get so spooked out by lame Bello Lagossi rip-offs that you want to friggin' quit the game, geez" and they even had their own "every single team who ever played Hidden Temple doesn't know how to put the statue puzzle together" gag rip-off. 

And then everything goes haywire (which does not happen in the book) because again, need to make it more Nickelodeon-y, but then the kids work together to get themselves out of that mess and escape from the library, whoopie. Again, it really ends up being an excuse to introduce yet more sight gags that don't even really go anywhere. The only thing of note was a quote from Charlotte of Charlotte's Web (and yes the CGI really is as bad as I presaged it in the book review) where she has to escape a kung-fu mother goose (that's one of those aforementioned go-nowhere sight gags) while being interrupted mid-sentence that almost made the opening quote - until I found an even better one.

Movie Grade: C-. And yes, that's evaluating it on its own merits. If you're hoping for something pretty faithful to the books you're going to be massively disappointed. If you're hoping for a typical NOM...your disappointment is going to be much less muted.
Movie MVP: Katey Hoffman for again being really cute in this (and a redhead too!), but given the Weinstein stuff I probably should tone down the "give MVP awards to whoever's the prettiest" nonsense so...Casey Simpson wasn't bad in this, actually, and shows he has more range than just poor Ricky and that he and the rest of his on-screen brothers weren't just cast to fill in physical space around Lizzy Greene. Klarke Pipkin and Hayley Scherpenisse (oh God I'm sorry but man what a doozy of a last name, Sweet Lord) weren't bad either given that this is like their very first real on-screen acting roles period. Breanna Yde's good but...really, we already knew that. 

Extra Thoughts

 - yeah spoiler alert for the book: you know how Miguel and Haley get literally dropped out of the game pretty early? Yeah in the book they...kinda-sorta help the main characters win. I guess Nickelodeon really wasn't putting much thought into sequel possibilities.

- Speaking of which, I guess they don't need to worry that much since this is apparently the lowest-rated NOM in years, beating out the previous "winner," which was just last year's Legends of the Hidden Temple. Then again this seems to point to a trend that NOM viewership is just going to be inevitably down regardless, and it really puts the future of the NOM in doubt.

 - But hey, at least this one's a full 90-minutes long (with commercial breaks) instead of that stupid one-hour nonsense we've been getting for a loooong time.

 - Oh, and about casting, I was really excited to find out who'd they cast as Mr. Lemoncello himself (since he's both a larger-than-life and pretty important character in the book) and...they pretty much just have this generic caricature. Nobody even super-recognizable from Nickelodeon's own potentially available stable, like Brian Stepanek, Eric Allen Kramer, Chris Tallman, Tony Cavalero or Kelly Perine? Or even Dana Snyder? C'mon who doesn't want to see Master Shake have his own library?

 - This is a bit late to the party but it occurred to me the relationship between Chiltington and Peckleman - the obvious "bad seed" as I think Dr. Z referred to him wearing a blue blazer and mostly defined by cheating as a means to knock out other competitors, and referring to his much nerdier, much nicer tag-along as "Pickle." I'm pretty sure we haven't seen something like that on Nickelodeon before.

BTW I had to dig through a lot of video "toy reviews" in order to find even that one that seemed the most relevant (unfortunately Nick Jr. doesn't really have a lot of clips, oddly enough). Like a toy review involving Blaze having to...rescue Elsa from being raped by The Joker or something?

I dunno. What I'm trying to say is, TIL video toy reviews on YouTube are messed the 'eff up.

Where I've been and how things stand right now part...I lost count and I don't really care to count anyway

No, no need to get all alarmed and everything just explaining why there hasn't been much updates (and why there won't be for maybe a...