Podcasts and Reviews

Giant Spider Invasion

I’m still working on getting back into making sure to give this blog the attention it properly deserves. Until then though I’m still create content elsewhere. First up, check out my appearance over at Monster Kid Radio where Derek M. Koch and I discussion, the Giant Spider Invasion. Afterward, follow these links over to Monkeys Fighting Robots and check out reviews of the recent issues of Power Rangers and Transformers. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.

King Kong vs. Godzilla


King Kong vs. GodzillaTime to look at the legendary showdown of the Kaiju world. The King of the Monsters fighting the 8th wonder of the world. East Vs. West. The infamous international brawl of King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Mr. Tako, the head of a pharmaceutical company is looking for a way to boost the ratings of a TV show his company produces. Hearing a rumor of a monster on a far away island he dispatches two men, Sakurai and Kinsaburo to find out if the rumors are true. They soon discover the island is home to King Kong. Elsewhere, a submarine accidentally hits and iceberg and frees Godzilla.  Soon, these two behemoths will come face to face and fight until only one is left standing.

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Is this the devastating battle everyone makes it out to be? No, not really. The fact is this movie survives and is so well known because of the fact it stares these two icons. The battles themselves are not as impressive. In their first encounter Godzilla is able to scare Kong with fire from his radioactive breath. The fights are also not nearly as long as others in later movies.

The human characters are incredibly forgettable. The only one which really sparks any memories is Mr. Tako but this is do more to his cowardliness. Frankly, the film which follows this, Mothra vs. Godzilla, did a much better job of presenting a character who was trying to exploit monsters for his own benefit in the form of Mr. Kumayama. Without captivating humans to follow this film really drags at times.

King Kong vs. GodzillaKing Kong really gets the short end of the stick. Sure Godzilla is just a creature of pure destruction in this film and presented as having a tiny brain (ouch), Kong still gets off worse. Despite this being one of his better moments including having changes made to the character such as increasing his size and giving him a new ability in an effort to stand against Godzilla, Kong is exploited once again. Out of all six King Kong movies (can’t count Song of Kong because it doesn’t star him) four of them involve him being exploited as a tourist attraction. Can’t the creators find a different way to work with the creature?

Despite its lack of any of more enjoyable fight or a message, the movie is still well known. This international fight is one people still talk about today. A representation of two cultures coming together for the entertainment of the world. The rumor of an alternate ending, one where Godzilla was the winner of the final fight has been spread for years. Sadly this wasn’t true and there was only one ending where King Kong won but helped to grow the legend behind this movie. The film was a bit of a let down but its influence cannot be argued. Just wish I had more of a desire to rewatch the film when given the opportunity.

RATING: C

Cloverfield

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Having a fresh idea when it comes to Giant Monster films is often a recipe for disaster. It usually just ends  with the film being an inconceivable mess with a foul looking monster which sounded great on paper band in drawings but looks like it was made by a kindergartner. There are rare times when a fresh idea such as the use of the “found footage” genre of film mixed with Giant Monsters works out for the best.

Rob is about to take a job overseas and his friends have decided to throw a party in his honor. While everyone is celebrating, chaos erupts as the city comes under attack by an unknown force. As Rob and his friends scramble to escape, they will find themselves trapped by a mysterious blood thirsty creature, known only as Cloverfield.

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The film was built on the mystery of “What does the Monster look like? This hasn’t been the best plan as any Giant Monster fan knows. The most prominent example is the Sony Godzilla Film, the Studio tried their best to have a major reveal about what the monster would like alike and people weren’t happy when they got to see it. So why did Cloverfield work and Godzilla not?

There are two really definitive reasons why Cloverfield was successful. First, ti did not carry the expectations which were inherent with a Godzilla film. People were hoping Godzilla would look more like his original form. Their was no expectation with the Cloverfield monster and instead resulted in more intrigue of what it would look like. The second is the destruction the monster caused. Godzilla’s destruction seemed to more accidental from his defensive need to fun form the military. Cloverfield on the other hand decapitated the Statue OF Liberty on its way to the city and from there tore the city apart. It was a more savage and bigger threat and would more than likely beat the Sony made Godzilla in a fight.

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The biggest complaint with this movie is its use of the shake camera. The technique has often been employed in action movies in an effort to showcase the intensity of the physical movement on the scree. The camera work in Cloverfield was too intense though and many people complained of experiencing motion sickness while watching the movie. the experience of vomiting probably din’t make this film a favorite of several individuals.

Overall, this was a pretty good film which no one was expecting to be as good as it was. I’m kinda cheating and attempting to get this film done before the sequel comes out in hopes of getting a few more page reviews. Hopefully I will succeed and I will more than likely write up the review of the sequel at the other site I write for, Monkeys Fighting Robots. I’ll let you know if and when I do crew.

RATING: B

Godzilla (1998)


maxresdefaultEver swear you have done something but then when you go back you realize you didn’t do it at all? This is the case with today’s review. I could have sworn I already took the time to review this movie but once I looked through the archives I realized that in fact I did not. Maybe it’s the fact I had voiced my disdain for the film so many times previously which confused me.

French nuclear tests have caused a creature to grow to an immense size. As the military calls in nuclear research, Nick Tatopoulos to investigate, the strange anomalies makes its easy to New York City. As Nick tries to dig into the mysteries behind the creature he runs into his past and discovers something about truly terrifying which could jeopardize the safety of the world.

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Probably should try to start with the positive moments before ripping the movie apart. Jean Reno`s character is epic. Anytime that man has the opportunity to play a laid back bad ass is when he is truly in his element as an actor. Also Zilla`s (the rename he received when TOHO studios bought the rights for him)  design when not compared to a form of Godzilla is very distinct and memorable. That’s all I got now onto the bad.

Despite the re-branding he would later receive there is no escaping the fact this was supposed to be a Godzilla film. It was introduced and marketed as such and if you want to wear the crown of the King of the Monsters you better be ready to bear the weight it holds. Zilla couldn’t handle this weight as he crushed under it for not emphasizing the important facts with Godzilla: he is a force of nature and despite all our resources we as humans will be destroyed in the wake of his destruction. Zilla is killed by a few missiles as he gets tangled in a bridge and is dealt with pretty easily compared to any other incarnation of Godzilla.

godzilla-matthew-broderick-1998-reviewFor years I thought the main problem with this film was its treatment of Godzilla. That by stripping away his power, it diminished the monster and gave him less presence when he was on screen. This is not the case at all. After repeated viewings It finally dawned on me why this film is such a terrible experience. Its all because of Audrey Timmons. Audrey offers nothing to the overall story. She doesn’t help anyone but herself. She uses her closeness with her ex-boyfriend to get a scoop and then feels guilty about doing it. She does report in the moment about the nest and give Nick the recognition he deserves but she would have done that anyways as a reporter. She is given far too much of a pass for all the crap she pulls in this film.

There has been arguments that when watching the film without thinking of it as a Godzilla film helps to give it a bit more weight when watching the film just as a giant monster film. I really can’t agree with this theory. The movie is bad. It’s too long, poorly acted and scripted, and doesn’t hold up to repeat views. Even when it was with the help of the crew at Rifftrax this film is an obstacle to take on. At best I can recommend it as a movie you watch once for the experience of knowing how poorly Hollywood can adopt a property and then walk away entirely. It’s not worth more than one torturous ride.

RATING: D

The top 10 Women of Kaiju

Ladies, I feel for you. After Fay Wray`s performance in the original King Kong, women were stereotyped  with the nickname of “Scream Queens” whose only purpose in the film is to be eye candy for the audience and scream in horror as the giant monster appears. Not the best role to have.

Luckily there are women who broke this stereotype and did it with style. These are the top 10 women of Kaiju. The fabulous ladies who can kick a lot of butt and easily hang with the big boys.

10. Konomi Amagi (Ultraman Mebius)
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Im particul to this character since she comes from my personal favorite Ultra series, which is why I’m leaving her closer to the bottom. While the rest of the members of GUYS joined with innate special gifts that were immediately were evident of how they could contribute to the team. Konomi was different though, she was a school teacher with a kind heart. One would think this would have no place on team for fighting giant monster but this was were she was able to shine. Her kind nature made her able to connect with the capsule monsters, a feat no one else was able to accomplish. Her bond with monsters such as Miclas made it possible for Ultraman Mebius to save the world.

9. Ann Darrow (King Kong (2005))

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Of all the different ladies that have formed a bond with the 8th wonder of the world, its Naomi Watt’s Ann Darrow that seems the strongest. Ann truly loves Kong. She sees him as a gentle giant that is misplaced and alone, not only in our world but in his own. He just wants something to bond with and Ann is there to be his shining star in a chaotic world. I already expressed my love for this movie last week and how I am willing to defend the ice skating scene despite the criticism of others.

8. Mako Mori (Pacific Rim)

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Their were many mecha fans that left the theaters after seeing Pacific Rim and immediately proclaimed that Mako Mori was their new “Waifu.” Personally, I wasn’t that obsessed with her but still I admire her for the strong character that she is. Wishing to avenge her parents from a Kaiju attack she personally trained her self despite her stepfathers wishes. She knew she had what it took to pilot a Jaegar and make sure that no one experienced the same tragedy she did. Cant wait to see what they do with her in the sequel.

7. Mother of Ultra (Ultra Series)

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The mother of Ultras is just as her name says, she is Ultramans mother. On op of giving birth to one of the greatest heroes of all time, Mother of Ultra has impressive skills of her own. She is gifted with incredible healing power that has allowed her to save many Ultra beings who have been in mortal danger. Shame she never go an episode dedicated to her. I mean there was an episode in Ultraman Mebius dedicated to Father of Ultra, why not one dedicated to her?

6. Miki Saegaesa (Godzilla – Heisei series)

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After Godzilla series was brought back with the heisei series, Miki was introduced as the one character that came in during every movie. She was a woman with psychic abilities who started at a member of an ESP institute, became  Doctor, and even a member of the anti-Godzilla team, G-Force. It was this transformation over the course of the series that made her such an interesting character. Sadly, the Studio could have done a bit more with her character and she came off as cold with that whole “others cant understand me because of my special powers” story line.

5. Time Force Pink (Power Rangers: Time Force)

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Jen is a popular Power Ranger for many reasons. First, she was the first female leader of a Ranger team. She was played by a really strong actress. Her story line was interesting and despite the fact she had a love interest, it wasn’t her defining characteristic. Few rangers have been able to measure up to her level throughout the entire history of the franchise.

4. Akiko Fuji (Ultraman)

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Akiko was on the first support team in an Ultraman series, the Science Space patrol and fought along Ultraman. Consider what this meant. This series took place at the same time as Mad Men, where wmen were designated to having to file paperwork and get the men coffee. Okay, yes there are scenes where this happens but there is also moments of her fighting along side the guys and kicking giant monster butt. Think of all the great female warriors that have fought alongside Ultraman and realize that without Akiko fighting the good fight.

3. Asagi Kusangi (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe)

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I love Asagi. She is a strong young girl trying to find herself while at the same time willing to help those in need. When is given a mysterious jewel, t allows hr to share a connection with Gamera  She deeply loves Gamera and does all she can to be the priestess and bond to humanity throughout the course of the three movies. We can only hope that the new human that bounds with Gamera next has half the characteristics that Asagi brought to the franchise.

2. Kumi Mizuno (Various Kaiju movies)

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I`m cheating a bit on this one. Instead of a character the second spot goes to an actual actress. Kumi Mizuno stared in eight different Kaiju related films. Her time as the space alien from Monster Zero, the island girl from Ebirah the Sea Monster, or the scientist from Frankenstein conquerors the world. Yes, in a few of her roles she was scantily clad at times but her characters were always strong and willing to do all they could to help those around her. She is so exceptional as an actress that she is actually worshiped on an island in pacific.

1. The Shobijin/Cosmos/Elias (Various Kaiju movies)
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Ah the Shobijin. Personally I like to call them the Cosmos after the heisei series as  I hadn’t heard a subtitled version of a film where they referred to as the Shobijin. Still, despite their origins, they are always presented as the  tiny guardians and confidants of Mothra. Their main purpose is to speak with humanity on Mothra`s behalf. Despite the sins of humanity they have yet to give up on humans and instead have fought along side Mothra several times with the ideal that humans can be more than violent, destructive beasts. In our darkest hour, the Shobijin will be there to sing their song of peace to call Mothra to aid humanity and never even rub our noses in fact they were right the whole time. You stay classy Shobojin.

Son of Kong

son-of-kong-1Sequels are often stigmatized as not being as good as the original films and series they were based on. This is often a disservice to these films because they still have a lot of entertainment to offer the viewer. Today’s sequel is another example of one that is looked at as being inferior but simply dismissing it as such would in discrediting a pretty decent film on its own.

Taking place right after King Kong, Carl Denham is hounded by the authorities who want him to pay for the destruction and carnage Kong caused. Escaping with Captain Englehorn ,the two dock in a port and meet a girl named Hilda who joins their group. The trio then runs into Nils Helstrom, who gave Denham the map to skull island. Helstrom claims that their is a treasure on the island ready for the taking. Thinking this is great idea, Englehorn, Denham, and Helstrom sets out to Skull Island not knowing that Hilda has decided to stowaway on the ship. On Skull Island they will meet the heir to the Kings throne, the Son of Kong.

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The problem with Son of Kong isn’t that its a terrible picture by any means. It just doesn’t have as high a level of production and story as the original. This is due to the fact the sequel was released within nine months of King Kong`s release. The stop motion was put together in a hurry and it shows. The movie also showcases more comedy then the first movie. The lack of time to truly polish this film to its full potential is probably why some can criticize it so harshly.

The human aspect is one of the better parts of this film. Improving on the cheesy dialogue between the romatic leads in the first film, Denham comes off as a guy who is sorry for what he has done and is looking for redemption. Once he meets Son of Kong he feels bad for getting Jr.’s dad hurt and treats the creatures wounds. He’s a man looking for redemption and really hopes he can obtain it if he can just get the treasure. sok05-jpg

Son of Kong himself does offer some aspects different from his old man. Sporting white fur and being much smaller in size than Kong, the son is also much friendlier than his dad was. Kong Jr. makes a quick connection with Denham and Hilda and is willing to protect them from the horrors of Skull Island. The ending scenes with Denham and Kong Jr. will leave a lasting impression on all who watch this film.

Though not an essential film to watch to be a true film buff, Son of Kong still offers a lot for fans of giant monster movies. If you happen to find it playing late night on AMC or during some Halloween movie marathon then give it the time and attention it deserves. The son may not be as good as the original but it is not a bad movie in the slightest.

RATING: B