Showing posts with label godzilla. Show all posts
Showing posts with label godzilla. Show all posts

Friday, June 14, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla x Kong - The New Empire (2024)

Watched:  06/14/2024
Format:  4K disc
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Adam Wingard

The thing about this movie is that, from the first minute, it's more or less the chaos I look for in the last fifteen minutes of the best popcorn movies.  

This movie is, technically, really dumb.  The "this story makes no sense" stuff I'll spend a post crying about most of the time isn't just there, it's the whole shooting match.  It's mostly just highly silly and unlikely things happening, scene after scene, and Rebecca Hall in a pixie cut saying out loud what is happening so the kids watching don't get lost.

And I could not be happier with the results.  

If you're looking for a recent Godzilla movie with a moral center and a story about the human condition - I have amazing news for you.  But this is not that movie.

Yes, yes, there's some nice stuff about mothers and daughters thrown in there.  But you're here to see Kong smack some other apes with a smaller ape.  You want to see Godzilla suplex Kong.  You want to see people flying around in a crazy spaceship thing blasting classic rock.  You want to see monsters duking it out in a major metropolitan area.  And mysterious people and their underground culture and maybe magic?  Sure.  Let's just say magic.  And Titan Dentistry (which is what I would call my practice if I became a dentist all-of-a-sudden).  

This movie is colorful, and loud and incredibly goofy, and I am not secretly glad it exists.  After the dour start to the Monsterverse, the direction of these movies has found out how to be something genuinely fun - because they were in no way nailing the "big monsters, big feelings for humans" thing they were trying.  

It will be interesting to see how they try to make this work with Season 2 of Monarch, because half of what Monarch brought to the table, this movie was like "ha ha!  NOPE!" and did its own thing.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla - Final Wars (2004)

Watched:  04/26/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Fourth?
Director:  Ryuhei Kitamura
Selection:  Me

It's been over a decade since I'd rewatched Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).  Because of the *when* of its release date, it was also one of the first Godzilla movies I saw when I re-engaged with Godzilla at the start of the 21st Century.  Back then, Godzilla movies were kind of hard to come by so a new one was a welcome thing.

For those of you who aren't wasting your life with Godzilla minutia:  this is/was the 50th Anniversary offering from Toho, as Gojira had debuted in 1954.  It is also Toho's final man-in-suit kaiju feature film (they have continued to make shorts and commercials, etc... starring a man-in-suit).  Following this movie, Toho put G on ice, renting him to Legendary pictures, who released Godzilla in 2014 until Toho finally made a new Godzilla movie with Shin Godzilla, released in 2016.  

Most of the post 1998 American Godzilla movies made by Toho had their own shared continuity separate from the Showa and Heisei era films, but Godzilla: Final Wars is probably not directly associated with Godzilla 2000, Megaguirus, Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Against Mechagodzilla or Tokyo S.O.S.  And good luck figuring out the continuity of those movies, tbh.  So it is *odd* that the final movie from Toho (and they really did think they were done, at least for a while) wasn't a conclusion to those movies as much as a conclusion to the concept of Godzilla as much as anything.

Monday, April 8, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

Watched:  04/07/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jun Fukuda

I wasn't feeling great thanks to springtime allergies, and decided a rewatch of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) was in order.  

My memory of the movie was mostly bi-furcated between the Children's Land storyline and maybe 1/3rd of the movie being some really pretty good kaiju fighting (as these things go).  And that turned out to be correct.  

For folks who are somehow shocked that the current Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire film is not a gritty, "realistic", edgy take on Godzilla - y'all need to sit down.  There were multiple eras of Godzilla, and within each of those eras - quite a few of the movies were for kids.  And I think you can see the spirit of the more kid-friendly movies at their best with this one.  

It's another alien invasion-via space-kaiju film, but also the promise of how cool it would be to build a Godzilla tower as the focal point of an amusement park.  I mean - we kinda really should have this, and I'm mad I can't stay in a hotel in Godzilla's belly and eat dinner in his head.  

The heroes are young hipsters, one of which is for no reason a karate-wielding bad-ass, and then a manga artist, a hippie and... girl?  Anyway, in the same era Hanna-Barbera was making shows about Youths having kooky adventures, so too was Toho.  

The villains are eventually revealed to be intelligent cockroaches, which is hilarious and gross.  

Anyway, the battles in this are really complex and really long, and that's not a complaint.  You paid to see Godzilla and Anguirus get in a scrape, and they sure do.  We're in the period, as well, where Godzilla was now a "protector" of the Earth, rather than an unknowable force that just rampaged from time to time.  This "protector" idea was picked up immediately by Monsterverse and was more or less their whole deal, which I didn't particularly love as an intro to Godzilla.  

The odd thing about the movie is that there *is* monster blood, which tells you that Toho was still seeing what they could and couldn't do, and what looked weird and changed the tone of the fights.  Overall, there's some fun stuff in the fights, because Gigan is a pretty creative kaiju with a great look.  

Anyway, not going to oversell it, but I think if you want a Showa-era movie, you could do worse.  

Friday, March 29, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

Watched:  03/28/2024
Format:  AMC Dolby (apparently the seats vibrate?)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Alex Wingard
Selection:  This is a Godzilla house

As soon as the credits rolled, Jamie turned to me and said:  "this movie understood what the series needed was more frogs and dogs and bears and chickens and whatever".  And I agree.  100%.

So.  I'm not going to guarantee everyone will like this movie.  It is loud, and it is crazy and it is probably more than a little dumb.  But that doesn't mean I didn't have a great time at the movie, and get exactly what I wanted out of it.  

I've entered into that "I can't actually see a Godzilla movie and just watch it as a normal movie, I only can see it in the context of 70 years of Godzilla films" thing that I also do with some other media, like Superman.  So, based on that, I think Legendary/ The Monsterverse has finally really sorted out their strengths.*  

They absolutely get how the first two Godzilla movies wanted to do this in a way that suggested a serious film but then kept tripping over themselves en route, whether it was giving us the most boring possible hero or the least sympathetic family possible to follow for the runtime.  

Thursday, March 28, 2024

G Prep Watch: King Kong v. Godzilla (1963) - US Version

Watched:  03/27/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First of this version
Director(s):  original formula - Ishirô Honda / US recut - Tom Montgomery
Selection:  Joint, Jamie and me

We have tickets to see Godzilla x Kong on Thursday the 28th, and we decided to do a little bit of homework prior to the film.  It had been a while since I'd watched King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963), and I was met by a surprise when putting the film on.  

Like Gojira/ Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla 1984/ Godzilla 1985/ Godzilla Returns - this movie had a cut for the US audiences which is edited, includes new footage and has American talent cut into the original film.  I think I'd only ever seen the Japanese cut of the movie, so I was a little thrown when the movie was framed as a newscast hosted by a genial white American dude, and leaped into action to see what was what.

The version we watched was... insane.  There's so many tones being hit, so many ideas, characters, locations, etc...  Any theme that was originally present (apparently originally a satire on the programming on television and the corporate relationships to that programming) is flattened as the American version literally uses television as the framing device - inserting American-based news anchors to ponder the events unfolding.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Brief Oscars Weigh In: "Godzilla Minus One" Wins an Oscar! (And a Ton of Japanese Awards!)

congrats to this crew and their atomic pal!

I made my feelings on Godzilla Minus One very clear over a series of three posts (post 1, post 2, post 3) over the Fall and into Winter.  I think there's all sorts of superlatives you can apply to the movie, but I also know that genre film has challenges, and a franchise like Godzilla has 70 years of history dragging behind it like a gigantic, spiked tail.  In short, I can understand why a 2023 Godzilla movie might have some trouble getting taken seriously if the last time you checked in with G he was buddying around with Jet Jaguar.

But, indeed, Godzilla Minus One was both compelling human drama and visual spectacle.  And it blew the doors off how Hollywood has been doing VisualFX, delivering a full FX-laden movie with both incredibly natural-looking CGI locations and with an 11-story-tall atomic lizard monster on a miniscule budget and with a small team led by the film's director.

The movie had already reset the stage for what Toho could expect out of Godzilla, earning over $100 million on a $15 million budget.  But now it has also won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.  

I want to also mention - just a few days ago, this same movie won 8 Japanese Academy Awards.  Including Best Picture.    

Reportedly, Spielberg has seen this movie a number of times, which frankly doesn't surprise me.  It has a lot of that same Spielbergian character exploration via extraordinary circumstances you find across all of his work.  And, maybe some of that silver lining about humanity.

I had not seen all of the movies nominated for Academy Awards - but I am trying to catch up.  I felt the crop this year, from what I'd seen, was actually really solid.  I'm particularly looking forward to Anatomy of a Fall and Killers of the Flower Moon.  But now Zone of Interest has piqued my... interest.  I was on record liking Oppenheimer and Poor Things quite a bit, both.  I particularly thought the editing of Oppenheimer was extraordinary, so thrilled it won.

I weighed in on a few movies:

Of what I saw of the telecast, which was mere minutes as we actually spent the evening hanging out with some neighbors who don't really care one way or another about movies, the real winner I saw was America.  Well, America Ferrera's Barbie-pink gown.  Good golly.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

Watched:  03/02/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Masaaki Tezuka & Ishirô Honda
Selection:  Me-ish

This is the one about the very lazy scientists who create a wormhole on earth and don't monitor said wormhole and it lets in a bug, and that bug almost destroys the planet.

So, yeah - this movie is part of the Millennium series which kicked off with Godzilla 2000, and which I'm unclear if there's even supposed to be any continuity.  But Godzilla is a problem, so science decides the thing to do is create a gun that can shoot a black hole at him, which...  look...  that just seems like you're creating way more problems than you're solving.  

On a test run, the scientists are successful, but the black hole leaves a @#$%ing wormhole and no one seems all that worried about it and I guess they go home?  Because that night a giant bug flies out and leaves an egg a very, very dumb kid picks up.  But he's been sworn by our supposed hero not to tell anyone about the experiment, so, logically, he tells no one about the egg.  

Which he then dumps down a Tokyo sewer when the egg gets slimy.  But the egg is hatching thousands of tiny bugs that will grow into horse-sized dragonflies that kill people.  So, amazing job all around.  

It's not really a wonder that some Godzilla movies harp on how the Japanese government tends to shoot itself in the foot and hurt the citizenry by constantly trying to hide information.  

Anyway - Black Hole Gun doesn't quite do its job on its first live fire, and Godzilla is swarmed by giant dragonflies who siphon off some of his *power* and take it to their resting queen in a submerged city.  The queen then fights Godzilla, and if you signed up for a pretty good kaiju fight, I have great news for you. 

I may slowly be developing a thing for women in well designed helmets thanks to these movies, but there you are.  Our hero helps direct the Black Hole Gun at Godzilla and the movie ends with us knowing they only think they got rid of him.  By the time the credits finish, we think they did not as the dumb kid from the movie's first half is seen staring out a window in what we can only hope is Godzilla about to crush him.

This movie is weirdly gross.  Doug described it as "gristley", which seems right.  There's a lot of stabbing of Godzilla by a stinger, and lots of ooze and slime and bug parts.  Which is interesting as the movie is rated 7+.  Kids were tougher in 2000.  There's also two straight up horror movie deaths as the dragonflies take out some unsuspecting people.  But the design on the dragonflies and the eventual Megaguirus is really solid and shows what Toho was pulling off really well in this era.

Some fun casting:  Yuriko Hoshi who was in a couple of Showa-era films returns as a veteran scientist with some major mom hair.  And Misato Tanaka is pretty solid as our helmeted lead.

This is nowhere near my favorite Godzilla movie, but it has some good bits.  Godzilla has the edgier, pokier design, and I love the pink in his dorsal fins, which is why I'm pumped about Pink G in the coming film.  

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Watched:  02/29/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second?
Director:  Takao Okawara & Kazuki Ômori
Selection:  Jamie

So, Jamie had a medical procedure earlier in the day, and when it came time to figure out what she felt like doing that evening, she said "I can't do anything but watch a Godzilla".  And what was up next in our Heisei-era viewing was this little gem.  

You can definitely tell:  this movie was at least in part for kids.  The hero, Aoki, is an engineer whose hobby is pterodactyls.  He's been working on a sort of flying ship cannon dingus, but is sent over to the new MechaGodzilla project.   

By the way, the sequel title is sort of factual, but this movie - and all Heisei-era movies, ignore the movies after 1954's Gojira, so it's a weird bit of titling.  It is not the second movie with MechaGodzilla in it, and it's the first with an all-new take on MechaGodzilla in this era.  But no one asked me in 1993 what to name it, so here we are.

Based on wreckage from the mechanical head left by the re-furbished King Ghidorah from the prior film, this MechaGodzilla is armed to the teeth, and should be able to take down Big G.  It turns out fighting a living nuclear reactor doesn't go well all the time, tho, and MechaG is taken down.

Oh, but the BIG plot point is that a group of scientists find a gigantic egg (like 2 meters long and 1.5 meters tall on its side) on a radioactive island with a Rodan and Godzilla.  The scientists decide to (a) take the egg despite the fact it GLOWS from time-to-time (b) they then put it in a lab in the middle of the city (c) in a lab the size of an actual university lab, which is like, an apartment living room and (d) they never x-ray it for some reason to see what they have?  They just assume:  oh, yeah, it's a Rodan.  

It isn't.  Out pops a baby Godzillasaurus, because these are movies for children. 

Anyway, the plot gets very hazy very fast with characters yelling what is happening with absolutely zero supporting evidence to back up their claims.  "Rodan is his nest brother!"  IS HE?  WHY?  HOW?  No one seems concerned about WHO laid the Godzilla-egg.  Or the fact they have a baby Godzilla that maybe they should kill now while the killing is good.  The Japanese government seems convinced the baby Godzilla is an asset, but never says how or why.  

Anyway, baby Godzilla becomes a MacGuffin as Godzilla either wants to kill the baby or take the baby or something...  it's not clear.  Rodan same.  MechaG gets an upgrade to have the flying dingus attach like a backpack.  

And then there's a really pretty solid fight at the end.  

Miki is also in this movie, just kind of appearing here and there.  Oh, and this movie posits Godzilla has a second brain in his butt, a bit like we were taught as kids about the anklyosaur, but which isn't, apparently, true.  But that doesn't mean Miki the Psychic doesn't find Godzilla's second brain with her ESP.

It's important to note that Godzilla in this and the prior films is a walking natural disaster and not seen as a balancing force, etc...  He's just a straight up unsolvable problem and no one knows what he'll do next or why.  It breaks a lot of Western (or at least American) screen writing rules, and can feel messy - but that's kind of missing the point.  Godzilla DOES have motivations, he just isn't monologuing and by the time our heroes figure it out, we've usually lost part of a major sea port.  

This movie does suggest he's not a complete jerk as, via Miki, he understands he needs to take care of the baby rather than eat it, I guess.  So off they swim.

I can't say I love the hero in this movie - but the scientist is pretty good.  And I enjoy the very 1.0 attempt at MechaGodzilla in the Heisei design, which becomes cooler in the Millennium movies.  This is also my favorite era of G's design, but that's by a fraction of a point.  Rodan is just a weird, big bird - and I have no real complaints.  I think I like him better here than the Monsterverse, but less than I like his OG look.  Miki's bangs are still a lot.

But the Kaiju battles in this are really pretty solid, and the FX on top of the kaiju costumes are well done, especially for the era.  Some money got tossed at this one.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla and Mothra - The Battle for Earth (1992)

Watched:  02/25/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director: Takao Okawara
Selection:  Me

We decided to keep on our path of rewatching Heisei-era Godzilla movies in order.  We last watched this one about four years ago during our "hunker down and watch Godzilla because it's COVID-times" erratic sprint through Toho's G-output.  

Honestly, I didn't really remember this one at all until a scene would start.  There was a lot of "oh, yeahhhh..." as the movie unspooled.  And I attribute that to the fact the middle of movie is a mess.  The beginning is interesting enough, and the end is good Kaiju Kombat, but the middle feels like they're trying to make a point about stealing and environmentalism, but it's a little confusing as to how that's tying into our Kaiju problem.  And to further muddy the film, Godzilla - now a heel after the time-warp stuff of the prior film - isn't here to restore balance.  He's just... sorta... rampaging.  

What's funny is how it looks like the new Monsterverse stuff is taking cues from these movies.  This is the first of the Heisei movies to suggest ancient cultures knew of the Kaiju, and there was a balance to the world brought by the Titans.  But here they do it as an exposition dump *after* introducing The Cosmos (our faerie friends).  And the Monsterverse can't bear the thought of either the Cosmos or Mothra in her larval form - so I guess we're just stuck with the window dressing.

Curiously, one of the supporting actors looked so familiar I mentioned it to Jamie who figured out he was recast in Godzilla 2000 as a totally different character, but he had facial hair and a very different demeanor.  But I did feel less crazy (and he's actually in like four of these movies).  And that's just one of those things - I think everyone acting in Japan gets to be in 2-4 Godzilla movies if they play their cards right.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

Watched:  02/20/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third?
Director:  Kazuki Ômori, Koji Hashimoto, Katsumune Ishida
Selection:  Me

I'm finally trying to watch the Heisei movies in order-ish (we tried to watch Return of Godzilla and couldn't finish it.  It's a slog.), but after watching Godzilla vs. Biollante, we were ready to return to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), which is bananas in the best way, and which I remembered fondly.

Work has been busy, so I was also ready for some kaiju kollisions on my television, and this one absolutely delivers.

Re-reading my post on the film from 4 years ago, I agree with myself here, so I'll skip summaries and whatnot.  

The movie *does* jettison the idea that Ghidorah is from space, which even the Monstervese films picked up.  It also low-key implies the villains are white Americans who have traveled through time to show up the Japanese of the future and remake the world in their image - and, man...!  OUCH.  But fair!

*Not All White Guys* is represented by a white guy robot (Jamie theorizes was inspired by T2, which seems very possible, even if just based on trailers the Toho guys had seen), and a sea-faring scientist in the 3rd act.  

The appearance of the US Navy in 1944 is treated as an invading force that's being repelled, which is... true-ish.  As seems to so often be the case with finding anglo actors for Toho movies, the Captain of the US navy battleship is curiously cast, but seems to be having a grand time.  I would love to know what the story was there.

Japan's role in WWII happening is often left murky in Godzilla films, but the war is frequently referenced.  

And this is somewhat why I wanted to get to this movie.  I was maybe five minutes into Godzilla Minus One when I started pondering this movie.  The two have very little in common, but it's hard not to draw a comparison between the appearance of a pre-atomic Godzilla facing off with the military in both movies, and soldiers having life-changing experiences with the beast and then have to reconcile seeing the same dinosaur roaming about at 20 times the size they last saw.  I mean, Godzilla Minus One is pretty good, but you can say it lacked in robots with super-speed and iffy make-up FX.

I do want to say:  the time travel in this movie has no internal logic, and I found it a bit baffling.  Everyone seems pretty aware of Godzilla even though he's been removed from the timeline, and our hero - a rapscallionish journalist - plans to write a book on Godzilla, who no longer exists at one point in the movie.  And clearly Toho was just like "whatever, man.  That's how time travel works."

Anyway, fun times.  

Sunday, February 11, 2024

U.S. G-Watch: Godzilla (1998)

the actual dick joke on the poster was probably the tell this movie was going to be straight garbage

Watched:  02/10/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Fourth?
Director:  Roland Emerich
Selection:  I have only myself to blame

Back in 1998, I saw Godzilla opening day with Jamie.  I'd been pretty excited about what a US studio could do with the concept.   We were five years out from Jurassic Park, so CG was a thing.  And seeing some actors we liked (who were not Raymond Burr) getting involved with the big guy seemed like a neat idea. 

I'd argue that at the time of the film's release, it had been since the mid-80's that a Toho movie really landed in the US, so there was some context for Godzilla for your average US movie-goer, but not a lot.  Mostly spoofs and lightly racist parodies.  Everyone knew Godzilla, but it was like... everyone knew Superman had comic books, but no one had read an issue since elementary school.  You knew the general look and some details, but... that was about it.

Looking at the box office, it's crucial to recall the movie had an absolutely gigantic marketing campaign.  This was back when movies didn't just advertise, they did a half-dozen corporate tie-in's, so Godzilla was going to be inescapable no matter what.  Heck, I very much remember the omnipresent Taco Bell chihuahua selling Big G.  

Tri-Star was going to make sure you were going to see this movie whether it was good or not.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

Watched:  02/02/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second*
Selection:  joint - me and Jamie

I don't have much new to really add to what I said back in 2020 about this movie.  But I do suspect that this is the Godzilla movie I have a firm memory of watching on TV as a kid, mostly because of the multiple kaiju and that the fight happens in an open field.  

I didn't say much about the human story in my prior write up - but it does feel like it's trying to set up a TV show or series of movies about two dudes and a child of vague relation, and their robot.  Read onto these people whatever you want - are they pals, brothers, a couple and their adopted child?  They do not say.  Nor do they do much to infuse anyone with a personality, story or anything to make them characters, but they do spend a lot of time showing them doing things.

Btw - the reason Megalon is attacking is that the surface humans set off an underground nuclear test killing - according to the dialog - a full third of the population of Seatopia, the nation of people living under the ground.  Y'all, the Seatopians are right to try to kill all of us.  But so wrong about trusting that guy and his bad mustache to run Seatopia.

But this is a kids movie, and I'm not going to complain too much.  The kaiju battling, robot stuff and bases for the movie is (chef's kiss).

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Minus Color Watch: Godzilla Minus One Minus Color (2023/ 2024)

Watched:  02/01/2024
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Third
Director: Takashi Yamazaki  
Selection:  Joint - Jamie & me

So, yes.  Third time is the charm for a re-watch of Godzilla Minus One (2023), which we wrote about when we saw it the first time and the second time, and then as part of my end of the year review.  

The version I saw was black and white (or, color desaturated to a monochrome, with plenty of tricks to make sure it works) in theaters for just a week, capping off the end of what was a surprisingly successful run.  On a reported $15 million budget, the movie has made over $105 million, and that's before digital and home video sales (will I buy some ridiculous deluxe version?  Why, most certainly).

After seeing it in Imax and in standard format, I figured: let's do this.  Plus, I saw one of the first shows in Austin, and now one of the last as I saw it both opening and closing night.

Is the "minus color" a goofy stunt?  Does it make sense to release a movie in black and white that was shot for color?  I don't know.  But based on the period setting, that Minus One feels like a 2023 echo to the 1954 original, and as a reflection of the 70 year history of Big G, I was willing to give it a whirl.  

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla v. Biollante (1989)

Watched:  01/30/2024
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kazuki Ōmori
Selection:  Me

For the most part, it's not that hard in our modern era to get your hands on most Godzilla movies.  In fact, you can find most of the Showa Era on Max and I've noted the Millennium era movies might be popping up on Hulu.  Plus, there's now that streaming Godzilla Channel on Pluto.  I have a pretty good run of the movies on disc on various formats, so I am good as long as those discs don't let their electrons scramble or something.  And, I've seen almost all of the Godzilla movies (one day I'll finish All Monsters Attack).

But Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), in any format, eluded me for a long time.  It was out there on disc, but not through standard retailers.  You more or less had to go through eBay if you wanted to get a copy, and even those were pretty expensive as it hasn't been re-released in a decade.  And it never seems to show up on cable or streaming outlets.  It seems the distribution rights are weird on this one film for reasons I don't quite get, but it was originally put out by Miramax in the US, which is probably part of the problem.  

But, yeah, I found a disc cheap as I could, but still more than I wanted to pay, and finally just pulled the trigger.

Monday, January 29, 2024

G-Watch: Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla (1974)

Watched:  01/26/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second-ish
Director:  Jun Fukuda
Selection:  moi

Look, this week at work was a rough one, and next week is looking to be more of same.  I am tired.  And so, after watching another episode of the phenomenal fifth season of Fargo,* I put on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).  

This movie is remarkably silly, makes no sense in parts, forgets its a monster movie for long stretches, and does nothing to develop or differentiate any of the characters, seemingly adding them as the movie goes along to help fill plot holes.

The real showcase is, of course, Godzilla versus a giant robot version of himself that space aliens for a black hole(?) have built in order to take over the Earth.  Or, at least, whatever part of Earth is near the robot.  Initially, it's disguised as Godzilla, but to what end?  I cannot say.  Because they almost immediately remove the facade, and it seems like a robot is just as much a problem as the real Godzilla in how it's being deployed - by rampaging.  

However, we're also dealing with a prophetic vision seen by a young woman priestess/ heir to a once great dynasty on Okinawa.  There's a prophesy to go along with it regarding two monsters joining forces to fight a great threat, but it seems odd the ancients knew Mechagodzilla was coming?  There's nothing magic about a giant robot, except the love we should all feel for Mechagodzilla.

Anyway, this movie's main, non giant kaiju feature is a villain in a shiny jumpsuit who keeps smoking cigars.  I love this guy.  He really enjoys his work.

The one caveat is that this is around when Toho thought they needed to add blood.  So things get weird when MechaG really messed up Anguirus (he's fiiiiine) and then G himself (also: fine).  Also:  melting alien faces.

It's a fun pic, and while I don't think there's big life lessons to be learned, and it's confusing sorting out who all of these people are from time to time, this first appearance by MechaG is pretty stellar.  Where else will you find a 20-story robot that shoots rainbows out of its eyes?

*Juno Temple and Jennifer Jason Leigh busily confirming they're somheow even better than you thought, and Richa Moorjani putting in a bid for "damn, put her in more stuff" in a fine breakdown of myth and Fargo's patented exploration of good and evil 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Goji Watch: Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Watched:  01/18/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Masaaki Tezuka
Selection:  definitely me

Mostly, I watched this movie because, for Christmas, my brother gave me a MechaGodzilla which has been staring at me all day, every day, from below my work monitor since Jan. 2.

also, his lil' friend Gad gave me, and the Super 7 Shogun G

Anyway, somehow, inexplicably, I'd had MechaGodzilla on the brain of late.  

At the start of the COVID lockdown, Jamie and I settled into watching Godzilla movies on a regular basis.  We blasted through them in no particular order, and with minimal context.  Back in May of 2020, we checked out Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002).  My memory, without re-reading the post first, was that we'd liked it a lot.  And, upon a revisit, that was still true.

There's an oddly mournful tone to the movie.  As part of the Millennium series, it ignored the prior films except Gojira from 1954, an events that had taken place decades prior and was remembered well in Japan, especially as Mothra and other films were in continuity - the Japanese privately feeling that perhaps Japan was cursed.  

Our focal characters are a member of the military who is being held responsible for the deaths of multiple people during a Godzilla's first re-appearance in 45 years despite the fact she is actually not responsible anymore than she's responsible for Godzilla at all - oh, and she's a friendless orphan.  The other two are a widowed scientist and his charming, precocious daughter who lugs around a houseplant she thinks carries her mother's spirit.  

Thursday, January 18, 2024

G-Watch: Monarch TV Series (2023-2024)

I did not expect my viewing of a show about Godzilla and Kurt and Wyatt Russell to turn into a hate-watch, but here we are.

My understanding is that there are enthusiastic viewers of this show, and, if I'm being honest, one of the things I've enjoyed about being a somewhat sideline Godzilla fan over the years is that the fanbase is pretty chipper about all forms and takes on Godzilla. There's no shock it would extend to this show. Maybe they're not as critical about film as they could be, but I was not going to be the guy to point out that maybe Destroy All Monsters is not going to double-bill with Citizen Kane.*

And it is a great time to have a general fondness for Godzilla. The movie in 2021 from Legendary was super fun, Minus One and Shin Godzilla are actual think-pieces, the shorts Toho put out are perfectly recreating what I like about pre-2000 Godzilla. I keep finding funny Japanese shorts aimed at kids with the monsters in-character and adorable and insane. And if I'm being candid, there's a hurricane of affordable (and less-affordable) Godzilla merch out there right now.

When Apple+ and Legendary announced Monarch, I was ambivalent. To me, the track record of the Monsterverse is not amazing, and I am decidedly less enthused about the existence of Monarch in those films than other fans. It's my opinion that the execution has, overall, been inconsistent and sloppy across the few movies they've put out. And, after several episodes, it seems the raison d'être for Monarch as a show was to paper over the bad continuity. Which, as every DC Comics fan should know, is actually just going to make things worse.

And, indeed, it did!

Monday, January 15, 2024

Goji Watch: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Watched:  01/14/2024
Format:  MAX
Viewing:  Second
Selection:  Me, sort of

This one is a lot of fun.

It takes place in the near-ish future, when (a) the world is mostly at peace and (b) all of the monsters have been caught and put on "Monster Island" where they live out their days, lightly fighting and unable to escape their idyllic ocean-view home.

The goal of the movie is to get as many monsters on screen as possible, and that they do.

l-r:  Gorosaurus, Mothra (larvae), Rodan, Kumonga (spider), Anguirus, Minilla, King Ghidorah, Godzilla, Varan?, Manda (snake), Baragon 

Aliens realize this makes Earth a great target, do some mind-control on the monsters and get them to rampage across Earth so they can have it.  

There's a story about the Earthers fighting the aliens, because humans have to do something in this movie.

The aliens are young ladies wearing silver, sparkly pajamas, which makes them seem like not-a-threat, but they are!

Eventually the monsters bust free and the aliens send in (who else?) King Ghidorah, who is a proper dick until the monsters dog pile him.

It is a mostly silly movie, and if there's subtext, I think I ignored it.  But it's lightyears more watchable than the following movie All Monsters Attack.

Monday, January 8, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla 2000 - Millennium (1999) - but, really, a quick history of how I decided to like Godzilla again

Watched:  01/08/2024
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  4th?  5th?
Director:  Takao Okawara
Selection:  All me, baby

I had to check, but somehow I've not written this one up, but I know I watched it during that circa 2020-era where I was dealing with the COVID lockdown by just watching an endless stream of Godzilla films.  

So, this movie is the key to my Godzillaissance.   

As a kid, I was a Godzilla fan via a few channels.  There was an American produced Godzilla cartoon that ran for a year or three.  I have some flickers of memories of watching Godzilla movies on TV with Steanso during long summer days.  We also had two key Godzilla toys.  My toy was the Shogun Warriors Godzilla, which I absolutely adored.  Steanso, however, had this amazing playset with Godzilla, a non-canon monster, a city backdrop and army vehicles, which I remember us setting up and having a good 'ol time playing with.  

But this was also the era of Star Wars, Tron and other fun, shiny stuff, and so Godzilla fell by the wayside.

Also, Godzilla was weirdly hard to come by.  Unless you were home to catch a movie on UHF, badly dubbed movies weren't something most channels wanted to run.  And you weren't going to get much in the theater.  

In fact, when Godzilla Returns/ Godzilla 1985 was released, I *wanted* to see it, but it came and went so fast, it wasn't until my 11th birthday party that I used my "I can rent whatever I want" pass to rent the movie.  What I don't remember is Godzilla films from Toho on the shelf.  I just have zero memory of Blockbuster carrying the movies, or the Mom & Pop places before Blockbuster.  That may have been an artifact of sorting out US distribution or me being distracted by trying to unlock the mystery of what was happening in those Sybil Danning movies on the shelf.  But given that I would rent stuff like Robot Jox without blinking, given the option, it seems like I would have picked up a Godzilla movie or two.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

G Watch: King Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

my boi Rodan did not make the poster?

Watched:  01/02/2024
Format:  Pluto/ Max
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Ishiro Honda
Select:  Me

Okay.  So, Austin is in allergy season, and cedar pollen is at an all-time high.  This is one of my major allergies, which makes my life miserable for a few days every year.  

This is that day.  I won't get into it, but it was very bad, indeed.  Ended up at the doctor.

I came home, took the meds I'd been given, and fell asleep sitting up on the couch with Rodan on the TV.  Because I have Pluto, it means I have the Godzilla network that shows nothing but Toho movies.  When I woke up again, Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster (1964) had come on.  Pluto works just like how you remember cable working before Tivo - you can't control it, it's just streaming by.  And has commercials.  

But, all the Godzilla movies from the Showa Era are on Criterion and on Max so, I jumped over there so I could skip over the commercials.  

Look, this movie is absolutely bonkers.  In all the good ways.  If you were to show a kid a fun Godzilla movie, this one is up there.  It's got political intrigue with a country that dresses in 16th-Century collars for no reason.  It's got Venusians possessing people.  It's got the Faeries.  Also: stars  Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan while introducing King Ghidorah/ Monster Zero/ Astro Monster - the biggest jerkstore commodity in all of monsterdom!

As Godzilla movies go, this one sets a high bar with lots of monster action and a human story that's easy to follow and somewhat impacts the outcome of the monster stuff.  Plus, our male hero has amazingly good hair (the women always do in these movies, so no notes there).