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Bryan Young
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Bryan Young
began producing political documentaries with 2005's award-winning, critically acclaimed This Divided State which documented the furor over free speech in a small conservative community in Utah in the weeks leading to a speaking engagement by filmmaker Michael Moore. The New York Times called This Divided State "filmmaking gold." He's co-written and co-directed (with Elias Pate) a documentary film about guerrilla marketing during the 2004 Sundance film festival, two feature length films and they also co-script a comic book. His latest film, which he wrote and produced, Killer at Large, a dissection of the American obesity epidemic, is available on DVD nationwide. HHe writes about film and comic books as the editor of Big Shiny Robot! and is the author of Lost at the Con and Man Against the Future.

Entries by Bryan Young

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

(2) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 4:43 PM

For the last 15 years of my life, Super Smash Bros. has been apart of it. Beginning with the 1999 release of that first Smash game for the Nintendo 64, altered the course of many of my nights through my post-high school days. Many bleary-eyed late nights were spent battling it out with three friends or siblings. I will freely admit that there were wagers made on brawls we played, most often with the losers buying the winners 44oz sodas at the local gas station convenience store.

Somehow, it had become a way of life, more fun than you can imagine.

I imagine I'm not the only one who has memories of long, dark hours in the unfinished basement at a friend's house, burning my eyes out in front of a television, hoping to ground pound my opponents into submission.

Time has passed. The N64 is obsolete. The Gamecube version of the game offered improvements, but isn't compatible on the Wii U. The Wii version is fine, but it didn't reach the greatness of the first two, and we've been left anticipating the release of Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

I'll be the first to say that I'm not disappointed by this new iteration, provided to me for review by Nintendo. The game was instantly playable to a fault. As soon as my son, his friends, and I put it in the Wii U, we blinked and hours had passed. We unlocked character after character and laughed the whole time.

In my younger days, my go-to character was Kirby and I began my sojourn into this new game with him, but quickly gravitated to Little Mac. With Punch Out being my favorite classic NES game, I tried him on a lark and found that he was a lot of fun to play. He was frustrating to play at the start since his recovery from a few different moves is non-existent, but playing him just put a smile on my face. He's strong and punches quickly, the KO mechanic is fun, and he's a formidable character, balancing out the constant falling off of ledges you're going to do.

I was surprised by many of the characters that were added to the game. Never would I think Pac-Man, or Duck Hunt, or the Wii Fitness Trainer would make reasonable additions to a game like this, but they balanced them and made them work to a degree I would not have expected. More than anything, characters like the Wii Fitness Trainer remind us to not take the game too seriously. And it would do you well to learn how to play the Wii Fitness Trainer (who blasts bits of solar energy during Sun Salutations) for no better reason than to humiliate your friends.

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Pac-Man is another character that's just fun to play. He'll throw a pellet forward and then gobble a line of smaller pellets in the wake of it, smashing other players in his wake. Since those pellet trails can change direction in mid-air, Pac-Man is one of the surprisingly versatile characters in the game.

My son spent quite a bit of time creating Mii Fighters and had more fun customizing his own random moves that he began to rely more and more on these than any of the standard (or unlocked) characters. Your mileage on this addition to the game will vary. For me, I had more luck playing the pre-packaged characters.

The one aspect I just didn't find myself using all that much at all was the Amiibo figure. Having access to a Mario figure, I played a bit with the character and found he didn't fit my play-style in any way, shape, or form. I can see the virtues and appeal of the Amiibos, but I would be sure to only get them for a character I know I'm going to play a lot with. I'd probably buy Kirby or Little Mac. The rest? Meh.

As for gameplay, this version adds a number of new levels and modes of play.

On top of the regular 4-player brawl, there's an 8 player version that is pretty much the ultimate party game. Rounding up 8 players and playing Super Smash Bros. all in one room is about as chaotic as it gets, but it's so fun it's worth the tiny figures on the screen. And as more players drop out, the play gets more competitive. This is pretty much the only way to blow a Saturday night with your friends these days.

The game also adds a tour of sorts that plays like a version of Mario Party and I found a lot to love here. Players navigate a game board, travelling around to collect powerups and other items that will help them in various battles. Players also collect fighters and this makes up their lineup in the final battle. It adds a new way of playing Smash Bros. and blends beautifully with my bizarre love of Mario Party.

In a world where video games are turning their back on providing social experiences for a bunch of people in one room in favor of advancing the anti-social nature of online play, this game is a nostalgic breath of fresh air.

It's got endless replay-ability and with 50+ characters to choose from, you're going to find new challenges with every new game. This is what Nintendo does best and I think the world of gaming is better for it.

"Super Smash Bros." comes out 11/21/14 and it's my advice that you shouldn't miss it. It'll bring you back the unfinished basements of your youth, whether you have kids to share that with, or if you and your friends have never grown up. It really is the game you've been itching for.

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Using Star Wars as a post-Election Tonic

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 1:40 PM

I was the victim of child abuse as a young boy and later as a young man. There was nothing I could really do about it. One parent stood idly by as the other took out their anger on me, emotionally and physically. There was no solace to be found...

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MAD Magazine's 'Phrases That Left the English Language in 2014'

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 9:13 AM

As ever, the usual gang of idiots at MAD Magazine have set their sights on phrases that English has left behind this year. Perhaps the only saving grace about this piece is that they've included The Huffington Post in their magazine.

This is an exclusive preview of MAD #530 (can...

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Simon Kinberg Talks Star Wars and an Exclusive Preview Rebels

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 1:22 PM

There are few things certain in this world, but one of those few things I'm most excited about is that more Star Wars is coming. Next year sees the release of the first new Star Wars film in a decade and October sees the release of a brand new animated series in the world. Star Wars: Rebels starts in October on the Disney Channel and Disney XD and tells a story during the dark times between the prequel trilogy and the classic trilogy, and documents the formation of the Rebellion.

The above clip is a tease of "Property of Ezra Bridger," the fourth in a series of short films made to give us a taste of the show and the characters on it.

One man has his hands in the world of the cartoon as well as the live-action Star Wars world. Simon Kinberg has had influence in many beloved franchises (from Sherlock Holmes to the X-Men) and he spoke to me about the responsibility he feels in his part in bringing more Star Wars to life. "The only thing I can liken it to is if you were a rabbi or a priest and somebody came to you and said you get to write a new book of the Bible, that's kind of what it's like. So it's really exciting and yet I feel a different responsibility than anything I've worked on before, so it's definitely daunting."

Kinberg's role isn't limited to Rebels, he's working on one of the still hush-hush standalone Star Wars films, as well as acting as a creative consultant on Episode VII. Since he has his influence across so many different facets of Star Wars, I asked him what makes Rebels special. "I think the thing that may be the most unique about Rebels as opposed to the other movies is, everything that Lucasfilm is doing has this connection to the original trilogy I think because of the ages of people that are working on them. It turns out they were kids when they came out so there is a different relationship to those than any other movie that's ever been made. But Rebels, because it takes place right up against A New Hope, it was an opportunity to use a lot of the same designs and like I said ideally the same tone and texture from the original films. And that feels like to me an opportunity, in a way it's kind of like getting a chance to write fan fiction at the highest possible level."

I've seen the premiere of the show and can attest completely to the vibe hearkening back to the original film. It somehow takes the coolest elements you'd expect from the dark time, with Jedi on the run and a truly evil Imperial presence, and matches it with the comedic tone of adventure of the original Star Wars film.

It's going to be bringing back Star Wars (not that it was ever actually gone for many of us fans) in a major way.

The full short, "Property of Ezra Bridger" debuts on Monday. Star Wars: Rebels: Spark of Rebellion is set to premiere Friday, October 3rd on Disney Channels around the world. Then, the show itself starts Monday, October 13 on Disney XD. The series will air in 34 languages across 163 countries in over 400 million households.

For a longer look at the interview with Simon Kinberg, visit Big Shiny Robot!

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Mark Waid Talks Everstar and Comics for Girls

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 5:00 PM

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Comics superstar Mark Waid is working hard to make comics better. He always has been. But when he started the digital platform Thrillbent comics, it was meant to increase readership across all genres of comic books. It's a subscription based service...

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What's Luke Skywalker Been Up to For the Last 30 Years? A MAD Magazine Exclusive

(1) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 10:41 PM

Next week, the new issue of MAD Magazine hits newsstands, which is okay, I guess. More important than that (and with a decidedly higher budget), next year sees the release of a new Star Wars film. Since the usual gang of idiots make their paltry salaries standing on the shoulders...

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An Interview With Legendary Designer Chip Kidd on DC Comics and Batman

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2014 | 5:21 PM

With San Diego Comic-Con just about to begin, the news from the convention will be rolling out shortly, but in advance of that, we have an interview with Chip Kidd, the legendary designer and the writer behind Batman: Death by Design.

He designed the cover to the...

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Exclusive Preview: Kevin Smith's Batman Meets The Green Hornet #4!

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 12:15 PM

Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, partners in crime on the Hollywood Babble-On podcast, have been working their comedic magic and love for comics into the pages of Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet. We talked to them a couple of months ago about the kick-off of the...

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Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman Talk Batman

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 3:13 PM

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The Adam West version of Batman is one of the most iconic and oddly beloved versions of a character who is now known for his dark grittiness. Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman are bringing this version of the character back in comic book...

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Disney Publishing 4 New Star Wars Books

(1) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 7:11 PM

Lucasfilm announced today, via Publishers Weekly, four brand new books aimed at introducing new readers to the classic Star Wars saga by bridging the "multi-arc storyline in anticipation of the release of Star Wars Episode VII in December 2015."

The first of these four books, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, is being written by the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, Tony DiTerlizzi and is being illustrated using Ralph McQuarrie's original paintings from the pre-production of the first three Star Wars films. Incidentally, those paintings are also the basis for the visual look of the upcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels.

The rest of the books are adaptations of Episodes IV-VI, each written by a different author and all of them illustrated by Ian McCaig, prequel concept artist and designer behind the look of Darth Maul. A New Hope will be written by R.J. Palacio (Wonder), The Empire Strikes Back will be written by Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Return of the Jedi will be penned by Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series).

This marks a new era in Star Wars publishing as well, seeing Disney's own Disney Publishing Worldwide dipping its toes into the swamps of Dagobah and sunning itself on the sands of Tatooine.

"Disney Publishing couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to publish these books globally and to work with such an array of celebrated talent," noted Jeanne Mosure, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of Disney Publishing Worldwide. "There's a genuine sense of enthusiasm and affinity that these authors have for this classic material, which makes this collaboration feel fresh, instantly synergistic and effortless."  

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Wil Wheaton Talks TableTop Day!

(3) Comments | Posted March 30, 2014 | 10:31 PM

Wil Wheaton isn't just some guy from Star Trek or The Big Bang Theory. He's an ambassador for the world of board gaming. He's been through two seasons of his show TableTop for Geek&Sundry, and he's been teaching the world to play games.

This Saturday is his second annual "International...

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An Interview With Art Spiegelman

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 5:43 PM

If you're into comic books or art, Art Spiegelman is a name you should know. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for a graphic novel called Maus, which documented his father's survival through the holocaust. He's left indelible marks on popular and counter culture as a stalwart of the...

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Exclusive: MAD Magazine on Spitzer and Weiner

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 2:20 PM

The usual gang of idiots over at MAD Magazine have once again set their sights on the dumbest things of the year. 2013 had quite a few dumb things take place in it and, as ever, MAD took aim at political absurdities.

This week, they gave us an exclusive look...

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Cartoon Network Debuts Contest for National Bullying Prevention Month

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 5:58 PM

On October 6, Cartoon Network will be debuting a new movie called Contest aimed at raising awareness about bullying. It's National Bullying Prevention Month, and Cartoon Network just might have the highest amount of eyeballs in the right age demographic to help put a dent in the problem.

Contest...

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Exclusive: DC Comics Reveals 2 New 3D Covers

(2) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 12:57 PM

Last month, we told you that DC Comics was going to let the villains take over the entire DC Universe. The good guys were going to be taking the back seat to the bad guys.

Now that we're in the midst of that crisis, DC Comics has revealed...

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Adam Savage on Fandom

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 2:38 PM

Adam Savage is heading to Dragon Con in Atlanta this weekend and was gracious enough to talk to me about a wide range of things for the occasion. He's best known for his work on Mythbusters and his work lecturing and touring about science and discovery.

Through his career,...

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DC Comics Kills the Heroes and Lets the Villains Take Over

(3) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 3:54 PM

In this weeks brand new issue of DC Comics' Justice League, the final chapter of the "Trinity War" comes to a close and, presumably, leaves our heroes shattered and the classic DC Universe vulnerable to take over by The Crime Syndicate, super-villains from another dimension that have all the same...

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Wil Wheaton and Michael Dorn Talk Star Trek

(10) Comments | Posted August 20, 2013 | 2:59 PM

The fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation originally aired in the 1990-91 season and showed us a Star Trek show that was finally hitting its stride. With the release of the digitally remastered Blu-rays, it's easy to see why the show became so phenomenally popular and endures today...

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Why Didn't You See Pacific Rim?

(42) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 5:38 PM

There were plenty of reasons to be disappointed in America over the weekend. Most of them have much more gravitas than this issue, but this one is no less important.

You see, Grown Ups 2 did more money at the box office than Pacific Rim for their opening weekends. In...

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Why You Should Go to Dragon*Con

(4) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 5:03 PM

When you hear about the nerdiest cities in the United States, you might not think Atlanta, Georgia would be at the top of the list. One might think San Diego or Austin. I'd even assume Salt Lake City was in the running. But according to a list of...

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