Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monsters. 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.



Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Adventure Horror Watch: The Mummy (1999)





Watched:  06/12/2024
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  third?
Director:  Stephen Sommers


Okay.  I am aware that this movie is a favorite of many-a-folk.  I think it played really well with people of a certain age as a cable-rewatch or DVD favorite.  I was 24 when this came out, just out of film school, and spent 1997 learning about the Universal Monster films, so I came in with *opinions*.   I saw this once in the theater, saw the sequel somewhere along the line, and skipped all the subsequent Stephen Sommers output until Van HelsingAnd Simon and I discussed that movie at length.    

If you want to go on with your life not listening to someone who is going to not spend a review effusing about this movie, I get it.  Do what you have to do.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Monsterverse Watch: Kong - Skull Island (2017)




Watched:  05/20/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Third?
Director:  Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Selection:  Jamie

Confession time.  Or, possibly, self-realization time.  

I can be a wee bit protective of OG versions of popular entertainment content.  I think it's important to know where something which is part of the zeitgeist first appeared, the context, and - if I can - seek out that original bit of entertainment and understand how it came to be.  

My personal feelings on the original King Kong (1933), I've tried to make clear.  
I won't belabor too much on the original King Kong film here, but suffice to say, knowing most people are only familiar with latter-era version of Kong, I always want to direct the spotlight back to the original formula, because it's an amazing technical feat as well as a lovely film.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Ape Watch: King Kong Escapes (1967)




Watched:  05/06/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ishiro Honda

I tend to think of myself as someone who would like nothing better than a movie about a giant ape and a robot in the shape of a giant ape duking it out in Tokyo.  Literally, this should check all the boxes for me, but I think I hit the wall as far as Kaiju-tainment for a minute, or else this movie was as dull as it felt.

Honestly, the production history of this movie is more interesting than the final product, which seems impossible when this if your villain.  

he's got panache and joie de vivre!

But the movie has too much plot for it's own good, and I think the editing needs some help.  At just over 90 minutes, it feels like 180 minutes at times.  

My reading tells me that this was some oddball effort fired off by none other than Rudolph-wranglers Rankin-Bass, who were making a King Kong cartoon at the time, that when I saw stills, I think I recall seeing as a small child.  I guess Rankin-Bass - who were outsourcing some animation efforts to Japan - went to Toho, after Toho made the 1962 film King Kong vs. GodzillaRB and Toho jointly went to Universal, and since everyone likes money, they went ahead and made the movie.

I've only seen the US cut released by Universal - Toho has a slightly longer cut they released in Japan - and of course this version is dubbed, with one of our two American-born performers overdubbed by someone not them.  I assume real US kaiju aficionados have their Toho copies, but not I.

Anyway, the plot is that an un-named Eastern-hemisphere country has sent Madame X to work with Dr. Who (yeah, I know) whom she has hired to mine for the mysterious Element X (which I think is probably super-uranium).  Who has stolen plans from a clever... submarine leadership team? to build a giant replica of the legendary King Kong in order to perform the mining.  This is not a sequel to the prior King Kong vs. Godzilla film, but hints that the 1933 OG Kong film was inspired by a real gorilla-guy, and that's OUR guy here.  

That same submarine team, made up of actor Rhodes Reason and his more handsome counterpart, Akira Takarada, hang out a lot with Lt. Susan, the ship nurse, played by Linda Miller (who has some fun interviews online).  


CINEMA



Anyway, there's some stuff that echoes OG Kong, way too much espionage/ James Bond inspired stuff.  Madame X is up to no good.  There's ape hypnosis.  I dunno.  It just goes on and on before we finally get to the big ape fight, which is pretty good, tbh.  Who doesn't want to see that?

The budget on this film seems high.  The detail on the Kong suit is good (if goofy) and the sets are many and highly details, for man and kaiju alike.  And Dr. Who's capes couldn't have been cheap.  And Madame X's couture was excellent. 

I think this one demanded to be watched with other people, and I watched it solo.  This was a mistake.  I may make Jamie watch it with me later this year.  

Monday, April 22, 2024

Toho Watch: The War of the Gargantuas (1966)




Watched:  04/21/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ishiro Honda

Not as well remembered as the Godzilla movies from Toho, the same studio also made a few "Frankenstein" movies.  If, by Frankenstein, you mean "here's a giant, sort of stupid looking guy in a furry outfit and hideous mask".  I, of course, didn't look up what order to watch these in, so this is the second one, and I have not yet seen the first.  

However, I'm a clever fellow, and I am pretty sure I followed along.

The War of the Gargantuas (1966) follows the tale of a "Frankenstein" appearing in Japan after they believed the Frankenstein they'd previously dealt with in Frankenstein vs. Baragon was killed.  Well, apparently Frank was dropping cells that grew into new monsters, also called Frankensteins, because sure.

The first on to appear is green, and alternately referred to as "Gaira" or "The Green One", because he is green.  And comes from the sea.  And he hates lounge singers.  And the Japanese Self Defense Force.  A second Frankenstein comes down out of the mountains, and is dubbed "Sanda" (and is usually actually just called "The Brown One").  

The two fight while, per usual, the guys in military uniforms and stern men in gray suits ponder what they should do, while our hero seems to know what to do.  Now, weirdly, our hero is Russ Fucking Tamblyn.  And he is having an absolute blast.  

The best part of the movie is that is also has Kumi Mizuno, who has a large role, partnering with Tamblyn as his feisty sidekick.




You can also count on seeing several other players from the Toho company.  Man, getting in with them must have been an okay gig for a bunch of years there.

Somehow more so than other Toho kaiju films, this one really is just two monsters shrieking and fighting for about 50 of the 90 minutes of the movie.  Tamblyn and Mizuno run around behind them for a while, but eventually they get sidelined.  And you will get very, very tired of what seems like a loop of shrieking monsters and buildings crumbling.  THAT SAID, the sets are pretty great on this one, and they came up with interesting set pieces - maybe because the actors are confined within the same amount of kooky latex needed to make Godzilla happen.  

All I can say is, I saw it, I was glad for Russ Tamblyn, and Kumi Mizuno should be in everything.





Friday, March 29, 2024

Kaiju Watch: Gamera the Giant Monster (1965)

Gamera just stepped on a Lego



Watched:  03/29/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Noriaki Yuasa
Selection:  Jamie, kind of

We've both seen a lot of Godzilla movies, but I confess to a Gamera gap.  I have not ever really watched Gamera movies outside of MST3K.  

Gamera is from Daiei Film, a competitor to Toho, one supposes.  And it's not like Japan has the lock on movies riffing on popular ideas from other studios.  It's a way of life for popular media here in these United States.  

Anyhoo...  Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965) is the first Gamera movie of what Wikipedia tells me is a dozen films.  It's... a rip-off of Godzilla in some ways, and it's own weird, wacky thing, so you can see how it took off and found it's own voice and following.

The basic gist is that the Russians are flying over the arctic where some scientists are hanging out with what I believe are supposed to be Inuit people trying to determine... something about turtles or something.  I don't know.  Anyway, they're engaged by the USAF who shoot one of the Russkies out of the air, crashing a nuclear payload into the ice.  Which frees Gamera, just in time for the title sequence.  

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.

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.







SF Science-Fiction Watch: It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)




Watched:  02/24/2024
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Gordon
Selection:  me

I was watching something recently - no idea what - and they showed clips from It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), one of the 1950's staple sci-fi atomic-age monster horror movies I'd always meant to get around to, but it just never happened.  In the clips, I saw the giant, stop-motion squid at the center of the movie tearing up San Francisco-based landmarks so I thought "hey, let's watch that with Dug."

So, we did.

Quick note:  the version we watched on Amazon was colorized, and done pretty well, I believe by Amazon.  But it's not what I was intending to watch.  Beware which version you're clicking on when you agree to rent the film.

At the time, this movie was very successful, but seems to have been somewhat forgotten by Gen-X and subsequent generations.  Jamie stated out loud what I was wondering:  did someone read a synopsis of Gojira (1954) and decide to try to make something similar here?  Maybe, but also:  by 1955, we were into the second wave of monster films as studios realized the popularity of Dracula and Co. had not really diminished, but - also - wasn't it fun to have giant, radioactive ants (Them! - 1954) or just big old sea beasts (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms - 1953).  

Unlike Gojira, the military here is shown as successful, eventually, against the beast.  But, if you like movies about meetings and some awkward romance (and if you have an interest in getting into Godzilla, I hope you like both), this is the movie for you.  

Look, Harryhausen is a master, but he can only make so much movie so fast.  And make it look as good as it does in this film.  So there's not a lot of time in the movie where we actually see the giant octopus.  When we do, it looks fantastic.  The FX and stop-motion are top of their game for the era, if nothing else, just skip around the timeline of the film to watch that.  It's extremely cool.

The film stars Kenneth Tobey as our submarine commander hero and sexual harasser, Faith Domergue as the brilliant lady scientist who eventually takes Tobey down a peg even as she's clearly ready to bed him, and Donald Curtis, whom I have seen in multiple other movies but never in such a prominent role.  They're all fine.  Tobey I have an affection for as the guy from the original The Thing From Another World and a whole bunch of Joe Dante films (plus Airplane!).  Domergue just isn't one of my favorites.  She's very...  there in the movie, but she always feels a little flat to me.  And Curtis isn't bad as the third wheel.  

The sexual politics of the movie are squarely 1955 for most of the film:  he-man Tobey makes his intentions known, Domergue is sorta having it as Tobey literally corners her and all but waggles his eyebrows.  But the curious bit is the speech delivered by Curtis, informing Tobey (who presumably has been at sea since WWII) "hey, women have their own minds, and they're entering the workforce as equals, so step the fuck off" to which Tobey seems amenable-ish.  It arrives way too late, and has been ignored coming from the mouth of Domergue, but it does arrive, and for that alone I was shocked.

The movie is a tight 80-something minutes, so it's not exactly going to kill your day to watch the movie.  Just don't come in expecting deep character studies or anything.  Come in looking for SF to get blowed up by a squid and you're good.

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.

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.  

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).  


Monday, December 25, 2023

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)





Watched:  12/23/2023
Format:  4K disc
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Adam Wingard

This is the first Monsterverse movie that finally understood why people show up for a Godzilla movie.  That seems remarkable given the money spent, audience participation in prior films, etc...  This was maybe the first one not made for the edgelord 18-24 y.o. market in mind.  

Way back in April of 2021, Godzilla enthusiast Stuart and I discussed the movie for the podcast.  I invite y'all to listen to that podcast at your leisure.

On a rewatch, and knowing what I was getting into, it's still a fun watch.  I don't know if I'd say "this is a good movie" because it's definitely YMMV territory.  It's big and ridiculous, and, arguably, there's way too much continuity in these films and not enough "hey, a new monster for Godzilla to fight".  Like, Godzilla existed over at Toho for decades and decades just showing up from time to time, and no one was trying to worry about 10,000 years of Titan history.  Godzilla just was, and everyone had to deal with it.

But when I get to see Kong slug Godzilla across the jaw while both are standing on an aircraft carrier, I almost want to stand up and salute these filmmakers for giving me the thing I did not know I needed to see in a movie, but had waited my whole life to see.