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Five Movie Franchises That Deserve the Lego Game Treatment

Five Movie Franchises That Deserve the Lego Game Treatment (photo)

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Anyone who’s ever brought and played through a licensed property or movie tie-in game–especially the ones aimed at kids–knows that they are the devil’s own coding. The shoehorned sensibilities, unoriginal design and general trying-to-hard vibe not only make you want to smash whatever console you play them on, they drain any enthusiasm you might have had for the movie they’re based on.

However, the glowing exception to this experience has been the various Lego action/adventure titles of the last few years. Development studio Travelers Tales has made winning games out of the mythos of Batman, Harry Potter Indiana Jones, both “Star Wars” trilogies and the “Star Wars Clone Wars” cartoon series. They’ve all been fun, pick-up-and-play experiences that turn the worlds of the central characters into hilarious, breakaway brick playgrounds. The characters don’t talk so they act out pivotal moments in the mythos with mime-like physical action. For example, when Darth Vader has to tell that he’s his father, the Dark Lord of the Sith whips out a Polaroid of him-as-Anakin and Padme.

Like any good Lego experience, you get to collect bricks and build things in the assorted Travelers Tales games. Usually, the buildables are vehicles or gadgets but “Lego Indy 2” had a deep crafting system that let you play with the environment, too.

To celebrate the release of “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean” this week, a few humble suggestions follow as to what other entertainment franchises would make great Lego games. One big caveat: Travelers Tales was brought by Warner Bros. a few years back, meaning that the majority of their future work will likely be WB prperties. Still, a gamer can dream, can’t he?

“The Fast & the Furious”
Let’s face it, for all the too-cool street racing drama, the “F&F” movies are basically superhero films where driving is the superpower. A Lego version of the NOS-fueled films would maintain the car fetish that runs through all of them, with players collecting Lego studs to build blocky versions of the high-powered autos. Best of all, crashed cars wouldn’t be a tragedy in “Lego F&F;” they’d just get rebuilt with a few button presses.

“Karate Kid”
There’ve been four wildly different movies that have borne the Karate Kid name and The Lego games so far have been mostly platformers, with run-jump-shoot action. “Lego KK” would give players a chance to see what a fighting game with the snap-together sensibilities would look and play like. Punching somebody’s head off would literally be punching somebody’s head off. And the laughs to be had in translating the various training sequences and big showdowns would surely be comedic gold. I’m guessing the Sweep the Leg, Johnny scene would have to involve a broom.

“James Bond”
If the Lego games specialize in one thing, it’s cheeky humor. Excepting the deadly grimness of the current Daniel Craig incarnation, all of the onscreen incarnations of Ian Fleming’s superspy have had healthy doses of sarcasm. That’s right in line with the Traveller’s Tales Lego vibe. The gadgets and fantastic vehicles of 007’s world would fit perfectly in the established template, not to mention all the exotic lairs, locales and hideouts of the various Bond villains. The often racy antics of James Bond would have to be toned down but who doesn’t want to face off against a Lego Jaws or Chop Chop?

“Zorro”
Traveller’s Tales always manages to put in a lot of visual flourish to the animation of their stubby-limbed Lego-fied characters and they’d put that to good use in a game starring the 19th Century masked swordsman. The developers could mix and match the best parts of the many interpretations of Don Diego’s swashbuckling alter ego, with levels built around horseback riding, swordfighting and whip-wielding. Carving that ‘Z’ into the blocky torso of an old-timey Spaniard bad guy would be too much fun.

“Howl’s Moving Castle”
Real-world Lego play always involves copious amounts of imagination and the oeuvre of animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki sports the same wild-eyed dreaming as that of a kid playing with those timeless colored bricks. In particular, “Howl’s Moving Castle” offers the kind of grand sweep that Traveller’s Tales have gotten really good at portraying in their games, with “Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars” as the best recent example. The modernized fairytale aesthetic of “Howl’s” would give TT a chance to stretch their legs artistically and the darker textures of the movie would be great for slightly older kids to gobble up in playable form.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.