Friday, October 19, 2012

Top 20 Best Internet Reviews (Pre-TBF)

One of the more curious things to come out of the Internet in recent years is the (for lack of a better term) genre of "criticism as entertainment".

The Internet obviously did not invent this genre. I'd say that it was actually probably pioneered by "Siskel & Ebert". Sure, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert didn't invent film criticism and they certainly didn't invent film criticism on television, but they were the first critics that people watched and listened to less to learn about upcoming films and whether or not they were any good, but more to see their reactions to said films. When people talk about "Siskel & Ebert" they tend to remember the times where the two of them were at odds with one another and argued incessantly. It became less about the movie and more about the critics presenting it.

I also think the biggest inspiration for what would become "Internet criticism" was the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000", which not only popularized the practice of riffing on bad movies in real time, but also adding a meta-narrative around the characters that are doing the riffing.

Anyway, in the past 5-10 years, Internet criticism first started getting its first big pioneers and it has evolved considerably since then.

Being an "all-purpose" nerd, I tend to follow a lot of Internet critics covering many different topics, most of which reside on the clusterfuck of a website that is, under the pseudo-official collective moniker of "Channel Awesome".

This year, Channel Awesome released their fourth anniversary video, "To Boldly Flee", which really marked the end of an era, primarily because it saw the official departure of Channel Awesome's first and most well-known character, the Nostalgia Critic.

Not only that, the landscape of Internet criticism seems to be changing. James Rolfe (the Angry Video Game Nerd) has been phasing out that character and he'll probably finish it with his eventual AVGN movie, Noah Antwiler (Spoony) broke off with Channel Awesome for a number of reasons, the Internet is changing both politically and socially, and not a lot of people are all too certain where all this is going to lead.

While there's a lot to be said about what Nostalgia Critic's retirement means for Internet criticism as a whole, I'd rather mark the end of an era by doing a Top 20 Countdown of what I consider to be the best Internet reviews from the era before "To Boldly Flee" as a sort of retrospective of where it started, how it changed, and where it may be headed.

The reason this is a Top 20 instead of a Top 10 is because this was a REALLY hard list to make and there were a fair number of reviews I wanted to mention that just weren't all that good when compared to some of the others, so I expanded it a bit.

I also had a few criteria when making this list:
- I could only pick scripted reviews. No anniversary specials (sorry TBF), no cultural essays (sorry Game Overthinker and Jim Sterling), no vlogs (sorry Counter Monkey). Also no countdowns... I want to avoid any "yo dawg" or "Inception" jokes.
- I couldn't pick a review simply because whatever is being reviewed is funny on its own. Nostalgia Chick's review of "Showgirls" is really funny, but it's mostly funny because of the movie, not because of Lindsay's criticism. The reviews I picked had to be examples where the critic stands out more than the material they are covering.
- I had to try to be as comprehensive as possible. Some reviews are included just because I didn't want to exclude a particular critic or subject or because it has specific significance that was worth mentioning.

OK, enough of that. LET'S DO THIS!

#20 - "Batman and Robin" - Nostalgia Critic

This review is #20 because it's probably the worst review on this list in terms of quality. A lot of Doug's jokes really miss the mark to the point of being painful to watch.

But this review had to be on the list because it was one of the first Nostalgia Critic reviews I saw as well as one of the first Nostalgia Critic reviews that a lot of people saw. It was the gateway drug for a lot of TGWTG fans, and that's mostly because, despite its flaws, it really encapsulates a lot of the things nerds hate about this film.

I think the part people love the most (myself included) is the "Bat Credit Card" bit. I mean, it starts off simple enough, but when he comes back the second time and jumps RIGHT into another rampage, it just kills me.

Not his best work, but this one has... nostalgic significance. *shot*

#19 - "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Re-Revisited" - The Angry Video Game Nerd

When I initially created my list, I actually had completely forgotten about the AVGN. The thing is, he's kind of been a non-entity for the past few years, mostly working on Cinemassacre stuff and his movies. And to be perfectly honest, his reviews are just not all that good when held up to the current standard of Internet reviews. Most of his jokes are just scatological humor, excessive cursing, and slapstick.

However, I can't NOT include the AVGN because he really was one of the first. Even if he's not one of the best, he was probably the most influential. When Internet criticism became a thing, everyone said that they were ripping him off, which actually led to the first big crossover video and the first TGWTG anniversary video, which focused on a fictional brawl between the AVGN and the Nostalgia Critic.

So not only did AVGN pioneer Internet criticism, he's also responsible for what was basically the first big crossover special, which really turned into what it is today.

So thinking about AVGN reviews, I decided to pick my personal favorite, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Re-Revisited". It's one of his more recent ones and it's actually a retread of a game he mentioned in an earlier review, but the reason I like this one so much is because the AVGN is funniest when you can empathize with his impotent rage. When you can see just by watching the game that if you were in his shoes, you would probably be cursing just as much. "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a game that is in a class of its own in regards to how unplayable it is, and it really shows in the gameplay. I absolutely love watching AVGN get tortured by it, so that's why I picked it.

#18 - "Guitar Hero III" - Yahtzee

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw was another I had to mention, even though he kind of straddles the line between "just a critic" and "critic/entertainer". His job is to review, and he's expected to review new games and he only has so much time to do just that. However, his reviews tend to be very different from other "professional" reviewers in that he has no real grading system or even any real consistent standard, which makes him similar to your TGWTG style of reviewer.

And his videos are very entertaining. You don't have to have played all that many video games to find his reviews funny, and he is probably one of the funniest critics currently on the Internet. He also pretty much single-handedly popularized The Escapist, which has gave platforms to MovieBob, Extra Credits, Jim Sterling

However, since it's clear that the amount of effort Yahtzee puts into an individual video is significantly lower than the amount of effort a lot of the other reviewers on this list put in, I had a hard time picking Yahtzee over most of the others on this list. Still, I wanted to mention at least one of his reviews, and I ended up picking "Guitar Hero III" because it's not only incredibly funny but because it holds the most personal significance with me.

A lot of reviewers do that thing where they preemptively tell their viewers to not comment on a particular thing they expect people to comment on, but not only is the example in this review one of the first occasions I  can remember where a critic did that, but it's also the only time where it was directed at me.

Yes, I was a huge "Guitar Hero" fan. Yes, I was very good at it. Yes, by the time this review came out, I had gotten five stars on every song in "Guitar Hero III" except "Through the Fire and the Flames" on Expert Mode. Yes, after he remarked on how the last five songs are "fucking impossible", I was about to go into the comments to mention that I had gotten five stars on all of them on Expert Mode. So yes, when Yahtzee called me a "fucking freak", I couldn't stop laughing and I took a weird amount of pride in it.

#17 - "Warrior #1" - Spoony/Linkara

I'll talk more about Spoony and Linkara later since they both have individual videos coming up later in this countdown and this review wasn't really chosen because of either of them.

Honestly, I almost got excluded this one from the list because it's primarily funny because of the comic itself. The "Warrior" series is one of the worst comic series ever conceived by man and all that Linkara and Spoony do in pretty much all of their reviews of the comics is writhe in pain while they try to explain what is happening.

So why did I include it? Well, because this is pretty much the first notable example of what I like to call a "hotel crossover". That is, while two (or more) reviewers are both going to be in the same general location due to an anniversary video or a convention, they set up a camera in one of their hotel rooms, get together, and do a crossover review.

This review (and also Linkara's review of "Wolverine: Adamantium Rage") was filmed during the first year anniversary of TGWTG, which was really the first time all of these different reviewers were all in the same place intentionally, and the anniversary itself ended with the Nostalgia Critic and the AVGN putting aside their differences and deciding that the critics should start collaborating more. So in a way, these two collaborations of Linkara and Spoony were the first direct results of that new evolution of the genre. The reason I picked "Warrior #1" over "Adamantium Rage" is pretty much because "Warrior #1" is both funnier and includes a great group cameo at the very end, with one of the funnier lines Angry Joe has ever said.

Also, I feel bad that Angry Joe just BARELY didn't make this list, so I wanted to include him as much as I could in other crossovers I selected.

#16 - "From Dusk Till Dawn" - Maven of the Eventide

This one is probably the most esoteric of the bunch. Occasionally, friends or loved ones of the popular reviewers will start producing their own material, hoping that they'll be able to carve out their own niche. Some have better luck than others, but probably the one I underestimated the most was Nostalgia Chick's friend, Elisa Hansen.

Elisa had appeared in some of Lindsay's other reviews, but she never really seemed all that interesting to me. Unlike Lindsay's other notable frequent collaborator, Nella, Elisa came off more like a moocher. Nella had natural charisma but Elisa often came off as an over-actor. Like the Rob Schneider to Lindsay's Adam Sandler, it felt like she was included just because she was Lindsay's friend who probably had the most "acting experience".

So when she started doing "Vampire Reviews", I wasn't all that intrigued. I figured it would probably last for maybe one or two reviews.

However, she has really proven me wrong. Her tendency to be overdramatic actually works pretty well for her Maven of the Eventide character, and she comes off as a lot more insecure and self-deprecating, while still managing to come off as well-informed and insightful.

For me, she really reached a much higher level with her review of "From Dusk Till Dawn".

In most of this countdown, you'll notice I tend to favor reviews where the critics do more than go for laughs or point out how bad something is. I like it when a critic does something unexpected with their source material.

In this case, the reason I love this review is because Elisa took a film that I enjoyed primarily at face-value without really thinking too deeply about it and really turned it inside-out and analyzed it from the ground up. As a person who tends to over-analyze everything, I was surprised by how little I actually thought about this movie, especially when, as Elisa deftly points out, there's a lot to be said here about the nature of this film and its characters.

I think Elisa has earned her place on the site, even if her singing in Lindsay's "Les Miserables" review was one of the reasons it didn't make the list. Sorry, Elisa.

#15 - "Superman at Earth's End" - Linkara

And now we get to Linkara properly. This is pretty much the quintessential Linkara review, even if it isn't what I would consider to be his "best".

Not only does this review contain most of his well-known staples ("I am a man!", "Of course! Don't you know anything about SCIENCE!?", burning comics, etc.) it also represents a lot of the things that Linkara absolutely hates in comics. This is probably the first comic where Linkara's passion for comics really comes forward in a powerful way.

Linkara's reviews are both the most unique and the most challenging to watch. Not a lot of people review comic books, and that's mostly because it's not easy to get the same sort of style that TGWTG critics are known for. Typically they play a clip from the movie/TV show/video game and then react to it. Lewis has a much harder time because he has to act out the scenes before he can react to them. It's like a cross between ventriloquism and that guy at Barnes & Noble who reads illustrated books out loud for children.

Of course, the challenging part is that Linkara's reviews are long, complicated, and sometimes take longer to watch than it would take to just read the comic itself. On top of that, Linkara has the most internally consistent continuity out of all of the Internet reviewers. He has several characters and each is pretty well-established and fleshed out. However, much like comics themselves, understanding Linkara's continuity is incredibly difficult and time-consuming.

Still, what makes Linkara remarkable is that his narrative is never separated from the reviews. Unlike AVGN and Nostalgia Critic, it never feels like he's including this additional narrative because he'd rather do that than make reviews. It reminds me a lot of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" where the riffing and the meta-narrative feel separate but equally entertaining for different reasons.

#14 - "Nightmare" - Spoony

Noah "Spoony" Antwiler is probably one of the more controversial Internet critics around, and I'll get more into the specifics of that later, but what I will say for now is that Noah is the kind of person that I would probably like to hang out with alone, but not with a group of people. He seems like a funny, cool, intelligent guy that has a tendency to piss a lot of people off.

I've had friends like Noah and I think they're great people, but I don't tend to stick my neck out for them when they say something that sparks a massive drama storm.

Anyway, the biggest reason Spoony tends to rile people up (both on- and off-screen) is because he isn't very good at holding back. If he feels a certain way, he generally commits to it 110% and it results in some very high quality entertainment.

I chose his review of the board game "Nightmare" because it says a lot about what makes Spoony interesting. First of all, he doesn't really have a specific niche that he sticks to. He reviews pretty much everything he likes regardless of medium. Not a lot of people review board games, and the ones that do don't generally also review video games and movies and comics and RPGs and... well you get the picture. Second of all, it shows how Spoony isn't really afraid to bring his own vulnerabilities into the equation. That whole breakdown he has during the "conversation" with the Gatekeeper is hilarious and it also feels grounded in truth of his own personal frustrations in life. Finally, I just really love the Gatekeeper from this game. I think the main reason this review ranks as low as it does is because the bulk of what makes this review funny is the stuff the Gatekeeper says. It's also why Spoony hasn't reviewed the other Nightmare games as promised since the other Gatekeeper-type characters in those games aren't nearly as entertaining.

#13 - "We Are Young and Somebody That I Used to Know" - Todd in the Shadows

Todd is another one of the more unusual reviewers in that his reviews are kind of the opposite of the supposed original intention of reviews. Reviews are typically read/watched by people so they can decide whether or not they wanted to see something without having to waste time and money on it. Todd reviews 3-4 minute-long songs in about 10-15 minutes, so the reason you watch isn't really to find out if a song is good. If you wanted to do that, it would be easier to just listen to the damn song.

But reviews have evolved past that initial assumed purpose. While people will certainly follow reviewers in order to determine what's worth their time and money, they also will look up reviews for things they've already spent time and money on. Sometimes we just enjoy listening to someone else's opinion and compare it to our own.

Because Todd reviews pop songs, odds are that you've probably heard the songs he's reviewing at least once, if not dozens of times. Pop music is disposable, almost no one takes it seriously, and oftentimes we absolutely despise it. So not unlike Maven of the Eventide's review of "From Dusk Till Dawn", Todd spends a lot of time dissecting something a lot of us tend to only experience passively, and that's what makes his reviews entertaining.

However, there's only so much you can say about a song, particularly a bad one, which is why it was hard for me to find a Todd review for this list. Still, I eventually picked this review because it not only nails precisely why I really like "Somebody That I Used to Know", but also because Todd acknowledges the strange affect "Glee" has had on the pop charts. When he says that "Glee" has basically become our new MTV, I find that it's basically the truest thing anyone has ever said about "Glee". Make of that what you will.

I also liked this review because a lot of TGWTG critics tend to only talk about things that are either bad or "so bad it's good", and Todd doesn't restrict himself to that, so he doesn't depend on a song sucking in order to make it interesting/entertaining/funny.

Even though this is the only Todd review on the list, I highly recommend you check his stuff out if you haven't yet.

#12 - "Gerry" - Oancitizen

Kyle "Oancitizen" Kallgren has quickly become one of my favorite critics on TGWTG and there are a number of reasons why, almost all of which can be observed within this review.

First of all, he picks the WEIRDEST damn movies. I mean, plenty of critics review strange and bizarre movies (Lupa, Cinema Snob, Diamanda Hagen, etc.), but Kyle manages to find movies that aren't just weird, they're absolutely alien.

Like, if there's a movie about Nazi werewolves fighting porn-star ninjas on the moon, I can at least wrap my mind around the absurdity of it. But with a movie like "Gerry", I simply can't fathom why someone would want to make a movie about two guys walking in the most visually boring place on the planet. It's puzzling.

Next, what makes Kyle interesting is because while other critics who would review "Gerry" might make jokes about how boring it is and how ridiculous and infuriating it is, Kyle is the only one who will actually manage to explain why a director would actually do something like this intentionally.

When he explained that this film is essentially trying to bore its audience into nirvana, I felt like I finally "got" it.

And what this all serves to accomplish is that you can enjoy the abject stupidity of a movie like "Gerry" so much more when you can fully understand what the director masterfully and gloriously FAILED to accomplish.

All of the critics on this list have a lot of respect for the media they review, but Kyle is unique in how much he respects the intentions of the writers and directors responsible. It leads to a much fuller understanding of the piece of crap that we bear witness to.

#11 - "Pokemon: The First Movie" - That Dude in the Suede/Linkara/JewWario

That Dude in the Suede is one of the earliest additions to, and he also was one of the first to initially quit. A couple years ago he came back and, to be honest, I never really got into his reviews.

I really like anime, but a lot of people review anime on the site, and he's unfortunately not the best.

However, I have really enjoyed his first two reviews of the Pokemon movies that he does with Linkara and JewWario.

JewWario is another guy that I absolutely wanted to put on this list, but tragically, I find his best work comes from his crossovers. I wanted to include Lindsay's "Les Mis" review almost entirely because he is HILARIOUS in it. Unfortunately that review also suffers from a lot of awkward musical performances and Lindsay's tragic inability to stay in tempo. But enough of that.

This review is excellent because it's not the first review of this movie on the site (Nostalgia Critic famously reviewed it early on in the site's history), but it still feels necessary because it offers a different perspective from people who actually care about Pokemon.

A lot of people talk about how there are too many critics now and that they're running out of things to review. I personally disagree with this sentiment partially because of reviews like this. There may be a finite number of things to review, but an infinite number of opinions regarding them.

What I like best about this review is how it compares the 4Kids dub with the original version. Man, Mew was DARK in the original version. I'll never be able to watch this movie the same way again.

#10 - "The Room" - Nostalgia Critic

This review may seem like it violates one of my rules. Specifically, "The Room" is such an awful movie that it's pretty much hilarious without Doug's help.

That being said, I picked this review because of two big reasons.

One: There are a lot of reviews of this movie out there, but out of all of them, this is my favorite. For me, Doug really captures the baffling and mesmerizing stupidity of this movie in a way most others can't. I also really like the seahorse future.

Two: This review has a history.

When this review came out, Tommy Wiseau's company threatened Doug with legal action if they didn't take down the review.

Initially, they complied, but also posted a video making fun of Tommy Wiseau and remarking on the ridiculousness of them taking down a review that suggests that people see the movie at the end of it.

Eventually the review came back, but the situation raised a lot of questions which really haven't been entirely answered.

Specifically, the reviews created by Channel Awesome reside in the grey area of copyright law. Sure "reviews" are covered under fair use, but some could make the argument that they less "review" the media they cover and more provide an abridged version with commentary.

This has resulted in a great deal of the change we've observed over the years and was largely the subject of "To Boldly Flee". What if some new legislation like SOPA or PIPA changes the rules just enough to make what they do illegal? Are they making money off of other people's work, or are they actually creating something themselves that has its own merit independent from the intellectual property they review? How far does satire/parody extend?

In a way, the legal issues surrounding this episode marked what might have partially resulted in Doug Walker's decision to make more original material and abandon the Nostalgia Critic character.

It's also just really funny.

#9 - "Return of the Nostalgic Commercials" - Nostalgia Critic

This particular episode is one of my favorites simply because it's one of the funniest. It is also fairly unique in how it reviews commercials, but this is probably the first video I picked almost entirely because it's just that damn funny. There's really not much to say beyond that. I think I laugh more during this video than almost any other video on this list.

Moving on.

#8 - "Revolutionary Girl Utena" - Oancitizen/JesuOtaku

This review is remarkable because Hope "JesuOtaku" Chapman manages to emulate Kyle's reviewing style so incredibly well that a lot of people actually believe that Kyle wrote his own lines in this. He didn't. All that analytical stuff that Kyle is typically famous for is actually from Hope, not from Kyle.

In a way, this is an example of a crossover that didn't really NEED to be a crossover. Hope really could have done this on her own. But by roping Kyle into it, she creates a comedic foil that works well because even though Kyle doesn't contribute much in the way of analysis or opinion, he is an excellent actor and is very funny here as the "outsider who doesn't take anime seriously".

I do generally think the best crossovers are when the two critics mix their best qualities, and while Hope does a very good job of making it SEEM like that's what's going on here, Kyle's mostly just there for show.

Anyway, this is one of my favorites because it's probably the closest I've ever come to understanding this incredibly bizarre movie (which is really impressive) and also because, as I mentioned, Kyle's psychological pain is very amusing and I think he exemplifies the best thing about this sort of anime movie: You get to torment your unsuspecting friends with them.

#7 - "200th Episode" (AKA "One More Day") - Linkara

Although Linkara at one point swore never to review "One More Day", I'm so glad he finally did.

Not only is this a very good review, it pretty much perfectly expresses why this story is so awful and why it inspired a lot of comic book fans to stop reading Spider-Man comics.

Also, this review offers a lot of great insight into what makes Linkara different. Specifically, he takes the escapist fantasy that he enjoys very seriously and without a hint of irony.

A lot of other critics share his passion, but they often act as though they're embarrassed to care as much as they do. Linkara is not only unashamed of how much he loves comics, but he will defend the integrity of that passion to the death.

#6 - "High School of the Dead" - JesuOtaku

"High School of the Dead" was probably the worst anime I ever enjoyed watching, and I had the hardest time justifying my enjoyment of it. I just couldn't put my finger on what allowed me to overlook the awful and blatant cheesecake, the generic paint-by-numbers zombie apocalypse, the 1.5-dimensional characters, and the horribly inconsistent animation quality.

And then Hope managed to perfectly articulate exactly how I felt about it in about a half hour.

This is why Hope Chapman is my favorite anime reviewer on the site. She knows exactly how to get right at the core of what makes an anime work (or not) without really spoiling any of the major plot points.

In terms of sheer technical expertise, this is probably the best review on the list. It's not the funniest or the most interesting, but (in my opinion) it is the best-executed.

#5 - "Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge" - Spoony

This is one of Spoony's most famous reviews, or at least it ought to be.

"Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge" is probably the most obscure video game ever unearthed by an Internet reviewer.

What makes this review excellent, and what makes Spoony very entertaining more often than not, is the amount of commitment Spoony had with this review.

It wasn't enough that he played this awful game no one ever heard of. He needed to get the full Pumpkinhead experience. Not because anyone would have really expected him to, but because that's just how Spoony is.

And in a way, that's kind of what makes Spoony... problematic.

On the one hand, his commitment is what makes his videos great. Whether or not his criticisms are fair or objective (spoiler alert: they're not), he knows exactly how HE feels about them and knows exactly how to express that.

On the other hand, this commitment means his standard is all what matters most and he doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. He's the kind of guy who will say, "You're entitled to your opinion, even though it's WRONG."

It's his greatest strength and curse.

Also, Spoony's kinda... creepy. Like his bit about Soleil Moon Frye always kinda weirds me out.

And without going into unnecessary detail, Spoony has a tendency to make people uncomfortable, and because of the way he is, he doesn't really try to improve that perception. I'm sure he's not an awful person, but he doesn't care if people think he is. Or, if he does, he doesn't want to make an effort to convince them otherwise.

Anyway, this review is not only funny, but it benefits from Spoony's unbridled rage, which is also fueled by the ridiculous amount of effort he put into this review amounting to very little.

Tragedy, ain't it?

#4 - "Ferngully" - Nostalgia Critic/Nostalgia Chick

This is not only one of the first in-person crossovers that didn't take place in a hotel room, it's one of the best crossovers because both critics bring something different to the table and they're both better for it.

Nostalgia Critic's greatest strength is his talent for comedic timing, physical comedy, and ability to mimic Daffy Duck. His greatest weakness is that he doesn't generally delve all that deeply into the films he reviews beyond finding 100 different ways to say that it sucks.

Nostalgia Chick's greatest strength is her ability to provide a contextual analysis for a film and what about it resonates with nostalgia. Her greatest weakness is that she doesn't set a very high standard for her own performance, often stumbling over her delivery and coming off as unscripted.

Even though this is one of Lindsay's earlier performances on the site, I still think it's one of her best, probably because the Walkers were driving the production side of it. Also, for whatever reason, Lindsay is really good at slapstick.

Additionally, this is one of the more well-rounded reviews in Doug's repertoire because of Lindsay's brief insights on rain forests as well as her analysis of tropes, specifically coining the term "Big-Lipped Alligator Moment".

This is exactly how crossovers should be. Both critic brought something different to the table that made up for the others' short-comings.

#3 - "Ultima 9: Ascension" - Spoony

Yeah, this is a LONG one. Like, nearly two hours. And this is the LAST review in a SERIES.

This is pretty much the epitome of Spoony's awe-inspiring and borderline psychopathic devotion to his work.

"Ultima 9: Ascension" hurt him so much that the only way he could properly convey how much he hated it was to review EVERY OTHER "Ultima" game first and then devote nearly two hours to picking apart everything wrong with this game.

If that wasn't already enough, his "real" moment toward the end where he talks about his personal history with the series hammers the point home even harder.

Also, these videos came out in the wake of his messy departure from Channel Awesome. He was dealing with Bipolar II, a lot of things were said, and Channel Awesome was moving in a different direction, so he left. In the process he alienated a lot of people.

Out of all the reviewers, Spoony probably distances himself the least from his on-screen persona. This creates a lot of powerful moments, but it also speaks to Spoony's general instability.

A lot of people tend to question the artistic merit of reviews as entertainment. I think that anything that reflects a person's thoughts and feelings in a way that can be organically experienced and understood by a third party is art, and if nothing else, Spoony is incredibly good at putting himself out there.

This isn't just a review of a game, this is a story of why these seemingly trivial relics of pop culture mean so much to us that we feel compelled to get this upset over them.

Really, it's kind of unbelievable.

#2 - "Moulin Rouge" - Nostalgia Critic/Brental Floss/Team Nostalgia Chick

So what can possibly top something as personal and heartbreaking as "Ultima 9: Ascension"? Why musical reviews of course!

This review was so good that it's basically what convinced Doug Walker that he had basically hit his peak. He figured he could only go downhill from here, so he decided to retire the Nostalgia Critic character while he was ahead.

As I've said earlier, Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick balance each other out very well, so their crossovers tend to work very well.

What makes this review work so well is that it captures Doug's hatred of the movie without short-selling the unconditional love that other people feel for it. The "Guilty Pleasures" song is probably my favorite number from the review.

It's funny, it's entertaining, it's insightful, it's a really good crossover, and it's a musical. What could possibly beat it?

#1 - "The Man Who Fell To Earth" - Oancitizen

This pretty much set the standard for the musical review. Kyle was the first to do it and if he didn't do it, Doug probably wouldn't have done it.

There's a lot that I love about this review, but probably the most impressive element is that when you realize that Kyle intends to do the entire review like this, you think, "Oh God, this is going to be awful. There's no way he can carry an entire review with David Bowie parodies."

And yet... he does. Almost entirely in song, Kyle provides the poignant and entertaining observations that he is known for. He even includes a damn "Magic Dance" parody including a bunch of producer cameos.

Now, I really like musicals. I was a theater geek in addition to the other things I was geeky about in high school.

There are two kinds of musical numbers. There are the kind that move the story forward by involving character moments and conflicts that are resolved during the song itself, and there are the kind that grind the story to a halt in order to crystallize a particular moment that had already been established outside of the song.

I almost always prefer the kind of song that moves the story forward. And I think this is another big reason I picked "The Man Who Fell To Earth" over "Moulin Rouge". A lot of the songs in "Moulin Rouge" just reiterate a point that is made while they aren't singing, but because Kyle has dedicated himself to doing the entire review in song, his songs actually have substance and move things forward. That makes them more engaging and memorable.

Also, Kyle is a rather good singer.

So those are my Top 20 Internet Reviews. Maybe the future of Internet criticism be bright.


  1. I love this!!! Oancitizen is definitely my favorite, and my all-time favorite NC review was Moulin Rouge, so I certainly agree with you there. And this reminded me that I should really check out more of JO's reviews; after seeing the Utena and Digimon crossovers with Oan and Critic (respectively), as well as her anniversary crossover performances, I've always enjoyed her character.

    ...And yeah, Kyle's voice is dreamy. (Though I'd have to say Doug's is equally wonderful.)

    1. The "Digimon" review came close to making this list, but I eliminated it mostly because there was already a decent amount of both NC and JO and also because (similar to the "Utena" review) it felt like JO was in the driving seat the whole time and that it didn't NEED to be a crossover. Though the JO-signal bit was absolutely hilarious.

      And I would definitely recommend checking out more of JO's stuff, particularly if you're interested in learning more about certain anime. With the exception of the "Utena" and "Digimon" reviews, she almost never spoils anything she reviews, which is great if you want to learn about something to decide if you want to watch it.

      Thanks for reading!