Monday, April 17, 2017

Barbie: Video Game Hero Movie Review

Barbie's sister: Why does that keep happening?
Barbie: Because you keep going the wrong way!
Alternatively, Wow! Barbie really jumped the shark!

What is this? 90-minute approx. CGI Barbie-themed movie
Where did it air? Again, I imagine most of the audience probably already snapped it up on DVD/Blu-Ray and possibly on a streaming service, but in this case I recorded it off Nickelodeon because I'm not paying money for a Barbie movie. I'm not even going to risk stares from the librarians by checking it out for free.
Who stars in it? Erika Lindbeck returns as the voice of Barbie (though oddly enough she's the only one to come back from Starlight Adventure it seems, plus even more odd her own IMDb listing doesn't list Video Game Hero although Video Game Hero's own page confirms she's Barbie) and, uh, a bunch of other voice actor veterans.
Why are we reviewing this? Because I liked Starlight Adventure way, way too much.

Speaking of which, I liked mostly because of this little guy right here:

Taken from the Barbie Wikia, I think

And because it was, well...surprisingly good.

So does Video Game Hero live up to its predecessor? Well, it starts off with Barbie's sister wondering why her video game character keeps dying when she walks it off a cliff, three times even after Barbie explains it so, umm...that's an auspicious start.

But aside from that I...really enjoyed this thing again. Not as much as Starlight Adventure, but...well....

To start off with the plot is divided into "levels" keeping true to the video game theme and the first level has all the look, feel and even framerate of a cutscene from a 90s Sonic the Hedgehog game which needless to say is a massive mistake and leaves a very lame first impression. It does get better from there, even if the whole thing still feels like Wreck-it Ralph meets Minions meets Barbie meets Newgrounds, or at least in a few places as far as the latter-most is concerned.

And while it didn't have the surprising visual punch of Starlight Adventure (or the overwhelming cuteness of Pupcorn there above), it managed to make good resourceful use of its visuals in key places, especially the very colorful (perhaps even over-saturated, but to good effect) level transition, er, levels and the Tron-esque light-rollerblade "bonus" level and including the final Minecraft-esque level. Plot-wise...well, let's just say that (again, as with Starlight Adventure) you really don't come for the plot.

In fact in some areas it improves or even corrects much over Starlight Adventure - there's just less weirdness overall (no unexplained mini-Barbies flying around or why the female robots have to be identified with skirts) and the messages are better this time (no princesses for one, Barbie's just a more-or-less normal teen programmer/gamer) even if they still remain very soft. Mattel is really pushing the pro-feminist, pro-empowerment "You Can Be Anything" tagline with the Barbie line now, but I don't blame anybody for thinking it's just window-dressing. I don't know if it's necessarily hard to really push empowerment messages in a popular toy line (I certainly think it only requires just a modicum of effort here, people) but toy corporations seem at least a bit hesitant all the same. Don't rock the boat or profits might spill overboard, you know.

Other than that, there really isn't all that much more to say. It didn't out-of-the-blue wow me like Starlight Adventure, and I might be more of a manchild than I think so it might not be representative of "normal" opinion, but I did enjoy it. Oh, wait, one of Barbie's friends in the real world is a dark-skinned redhead with light freckles and sparkling green eyes and despite that she has literally all the alien-like proportions of a Barbie doll (given that she literally is a Barbie doll) and using literally for the third time is a CGI cartoon... *sigh* I think I might be really into her.

Man, I really need to get a new girlfriend.

Also I find Barbie's video game NPC purple-haired friend Bella up there to be, again, despite being a literal CGI Barbie doll...well you probably can already see where this is going so I'll just say...*sigh* I strangely find myself really being into her too. *double sigh* This is why I'm still single.

That, and my tendency to make incredibly objectifying, "but I'm not a sexist misogynist!" sexist and misogynist comments. And the fact that I write a blog reviewing Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.

Taken from something called TubeStream.TV

I'm sure the combination of all of the above isn't FBI-attention-grabbing creepy in the slightest.

Movie Grade: B-. Was it as good as Starlight Adventure? No. But it's still *just* good enough that adults...well, certain adults might find it enjoyable without finding it being insipidly cute and girly. And by certain adults, I don't mean creepy ones.

I hope.

Movie MVP: Again, it's really hard to award this in a CGI movie like this with pretty even voice acting, especially since Erika Lindbeck doesn't exactly get to keep the show all to herself despite voicing Barbie in a Barbie-themed movie. I think I'll award it to Barbie veteran Micheal Dobson for Cutie/Quick Tutorial (yeah yeah see what they did there har har) based, well, on gut instinct if nothing else.

Extra Thoughts:

Taken from the official Mattel site

 - no I'm not gonna go out and buy the Bella doll, that's too creepy even for me.

 - I have no idea what the hell the "Follow the Lights Game" is supposed to be either. Is it a downloadable app or a browser game? I dunno.

 - You know, back when I was young (like, really young, actually in the demo to be watching Mutt & Stuff young) I had a weird habit of falling in love with cartoon girls. Yeah, clearly I haven't outgrown that if my anime wallpapers are any indication. Or the fact that I run a Nickelodeon and Disney Channel review blog.

 - One bit of weirdness I forgot to mention before, Maia and Gaia run like...well, Barbie dolls doing stop-motion animation really, really fast.

 - Of course the climax/literal end-game is a dance battle. With more than a few arbitrary inconsistencies to allow Barbie the win going on, too.

 - And of course it's also the end credits scroll scene.

 - I promised myself that I'd review this before Tangled and Tangled: Before Ever After so maybe I'll finally get to those.

1 comment:

  1. I reviewed a few Barbie movies on my blog for fun and they are...interesting. Harmless for the most park, and certainly snarkable, especially the recent ones which are just going for a broke. There was Superhero Barbie, Spy Barbie, Barbie in Space, now Video Game Barbie.

    I heard Starlight was ....odd, but i love the idea. Why did it take so long for this franchise to go to space?

    I know the replace Barbie's VA again, booting Kelly Sheridan off. They tried that before and it lasted like 2 movies before Kelly came back, so who knows how long the new person will last. Yes, i know more about these movies than i should.

    It was for review research, dammnit.


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