The Host

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Have you ever had a film or show that everyone else was adamant about but you just really couldn’t get behind. The one movie that everyone insists is the greatest thing ever but your just sitting there with your head cocked to the side saying “Really? I’m just not seeing it.” This is my experience with The Host. A film that everyone else seemed to love but I really didn’t enjoy that much.

Park Gang-du is a dim witted individual who works a snack stand with his father near the Han river. Thanks to a chemical dump six years prior, a monster has been created that grows from the river, attacks the city, and captures Park’s Gangdu’s daughter, Hyun-seo. Now, Park must chase down the monster with the help of his father, brother, and sister in an effort to try and save Hyun-seo before the monster consumes her.

The cast is interesting to say the least. Park is stupid, Hee-bong (the father) is keeping the family together but is kind of a jerk himself, Nam-joo (the sister) is an archer, and Nam-il (his brother) is an alcoholic. Its weird because they are terrible characters individually but as a group you find yourself routing for them as they come together to track down a missing member of the family. There is a real emphasis on the bond of family and trying to survive which no doubt helped to win the viewers over. Personally though I could take or leave Park’s dim witted nature.

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The mixture of comedy and drama is off in this film. Moments that should be tense but have a joke appear seem awkward and forced. One of the best examples comes as the scientist enters the room in a hazmat suit, full of confidence, and one second later slips on the floor and almost falls. What was that? That little joke made everything else that the scientist said afterward have less severity. There are far too many moments like this in the film.

The plot line about monster being able to spread some kind of disease seems unnecessary. Its really just there to force the fact the government will contain, quarantine, and militarize at the drop of a hat. It feels irrelevant when the government has a giant freaking monster to fight with. Its not like Cloverfield where the monster’s influence is causing people to explode from when they get bit. The whole thing just seems forced and making a statement which should have either had more emphasis or be taken out entirely.

thehost_2My obvious lack of attachment to this film is why I disagree with the majority of the critics who seem to favor it. The Host has an insane 92% on rottentomates.com and I really just don’t feel like it deserves it. Its moments seem uneven and not well developed while at the same time containing a cast which I didn’t really care if they lived or died. I have no plans to rewatch this film and I really can’t recommend others watch it as well. This is one monster I wish would have stayed in the water.

RATING: C

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

Rebirth of Mothra 2

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Time to check back in with the giant laser firing, winged insect who always has a pair of cuties with him. Yes, its time to tackle the second movie in Mothra’s trilogy from the 90s. For all you Mothra fans out there, you may not like what I have to say.

As strange and destructive creatures called Barem spread across the ocean, another mysterious creature named Ghogo appears. Ghogo befriends 3 kids named Shiori, Yoji, and Kohei who wish to help stop the the Cosmos Twins, Moll and Lora o stop the Barem from consuming the world. As they work towards stopping the Barem, they soon find that Barem are being spread by a monster named Dagahra. Moll and Lora have no choice but to summon Mothra, but even his power may not be enough to stop Dagara and the Barem from covering the ocean.

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As promised its all down hill from here. This film is basically the Goonies with giant monsters and sadly the humans are less charming this to around. The trio doesn’t really have anything in terms of memorability behind them what they do and offer no real skills or talents that would help them on their adventure. Truth is that they are just the kids who were lucky enough to find Ghogo and decided to help.

Mothra does gets two new transformations in this movie. The first is called Rainbow Mothra, which I will admit I didn’t really notice until writing up this review that it took place. The wing shape and color changes a bit but the attacks stay about the same. Maybe blame that old VHS fansub version of this film I used to watched. The second form, Aqua Mothra is much more distinct with its shape and color. It also has some interesting attacks but the weird look to him may turn off a few of the Mothra fans out there. I haven’t heard people complain about it but I think he looks too much like a flying fish myself. I’m sure that’s what they were going for with the design aspect but I’m just not feeling it myself.

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The environmental message here is much thicker than the one in the previous film. The movie states that Dagahra and the Barem were created to eat the waste of man but that didn’t work and ended up destroying the ancient civilization instead. I personally prefer Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster when it comes to the environmental message mixed with Kaiju. This didn’t really grab me as much.

Moll and Lora regrettably don’t have a chance to grow much this film and get no actual character development. They are still just supporting characters to the humans and don’t get to shine. There really hasn’t been anything to help describe who they are and what makes them function other than they serve Mothra. They care whether or not humanity is destroyed but that’s about all we get to know about them.

I hate to keep comparing the Mothra and Gamera trilogies, especially since Gamera’s three films are vastly superior. Still both came out a time when Godzilla was nowhere to be seen. They were the monsters in the spotlight and while Gamera performance was phenomenal, Mothra really didn’t make any strives or impact with his movies. The Gamera trilogy totally reinvented the monster from his comedic films in the 60s and is some of the best giant monster movies to come out of the 90s. The Mothra Trilogy really becomes a treat mostly for the Mothra fanbase and few others. And if you think this is bad, wait until I get around to the third movie.

Rating: B-

Godzilla’s Revenge

godzillasrevenge Every franchise has its failure. The one movie or piece of canon that the fans wish didn’t exist. Godzilla is not immune to this type of blemish on his career. Many American fans are quick to point to the Sony movis as the worst that Godzilla has ever endured but older fans who have any knowledge of the other films know better. Godzilla’s worst film is Godzilla’s Revenge.

Ichiro is a young boy who gets bullied by the bigger kids in his class and doesn’t see his parents often. To escape this harsh reality he dreams of being on monster island will all the Kaiju of legend. He also befriends Minya, the young son of the king of the monsters who is constantly being plagued by a monster named Gabara. Together the two of them will learn to be stronger by confronting their bullies.

This really isn’t that good of a film on many levels. First its all a dream. Literally all of the scenes with the monster are taking place in Ichiro’s imagination. None of it is real. Even the new Kaiju that’s introduced, Gabara, is Ichiro’s creation. Which means all of the combat that occurs in the film has no bearing on the rest of the world.

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Second, let’s take a moment to look at Gabera shall we? He really isn’t that menacing. His electricity through touch ability was used better by King Kong and it seems that his entire purpose is just to stalk Minya. He is never even used again in any other Godzilla film or (I’m pretty sure) Video Game. Not like its a real waste. I’ve yet to meet the person who admits that Gabara is their favorite monster. People have more appreciation for Baragon then they do for Gabara.

Third, the majority of the material is from other Kaiju movies. Specifically, Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. Its not just some reused explosions or effect but full scenes of the Kaiju combat are cut into the film. This is a clip show the creators are trying to pass off as a full movie. Personally, I hate clips shows.

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Finally lets look at Minya. I know he was introduced in Son of Godzilla but they do something special with him in this film: They let him talk. Has there ever been a time that having the monsters talk has been a good thing? The English dub for Minya is terrible and makes him sound like a complete moron. A good-natured moron but still he sounds like a moron. He’s the son of the king! Couldn’t they have offered to give him a little more dignity? He already needs someone to step on his tail to shoot his radioactive blast.

There really isn’t much positive I can say about this film. Its the worst of Godzilla films and its a glorified clip show. This is the one I’ll recommend people skip as they go back through the history of Kaiju Films. There are much better films out there. Think I’ll go watch one now to wash the taste of this film out of my mouth.

RATING: F

Gamera the Brave


gamera the brave 2A follow up to a popular trilogy does ot always get the best reception. With a high amount of expectation a new installment to the franchise to the franchise maybe unable to measure up. No, I’m not talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which is a good movie and you should go see it) but about Gamera: The Brave, the first film after the fanominal Guardian of the Universe trilogy.

After a final battle with Gyaos, Gamera is destroyed and the world experiences peace. Over 30 years later, a young boy named Toru finds a store which hates into a turtle he calls Toto Unfortunately, Toto gets very big, very fast, and soon is as big as a house. It maybe more of a blessing though as the mysterious and blood thirsty monster called Zedus is reeking havoc across the country. It’s now time for the new Gamera to rise to the occasion and save the day.

The problem most people have with this film is the shift in tone from the previous trilogy. It is much more lighthearted and playful in nature. I`ll admit the turtle is cute, makes adorable sounds, and the scenes with his developing powers is entertaining to watch. Still, after watching the previous trilogy most would Gamera fans would prefer they didn’t change the tone.

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The monster combat in this film is impressive from the beginning with Gyaos ripping Gamera apart. Zedus in a threat the moment he appears and it becomes incredible apparent without Gamera humanity is doomed. Just wish Zedus had a proper origin story and didn’t die with a single fireball.

The world building is pretty good with the monster fighting organization being put out of business for lack of activity, the economy changing after a monster attack, and the aspect with the scientists powering up Gamera so he can save humanity. Just a bit too much of the kids. A little too much of the kids and not enough of the adults who may have been able to shed light on where Zedus came from.

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Overall, this is not he worst entry in the Gamera franchise, it’s just not the best. Don’t let this deter you from seeing this film. It’s worth a watch. Now if you will excuse me, watching Toto has prompted me to get a turtle. That or read some Sgt. Frog manga. That series was littered through the entire movie.

RATING: B-

Godzilla vs. Biolantte

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Today’s film is my favorite Godzilla movie. This is the film I have watched over and over to the point that my VHS copy of the film will probably burst into flames if I watch it again. This is the film that I push every time I run a Godzilla panel because I want everyone to see it. If its not obvious already, I love this movie.

After the events of The Return of Godzilla (Godzilla 1985 as it was called in America) the world has begun to rebuild and prepare for Godzilla’s returns. With the formation of the special task force, G-Force to combat the King of the Monster, new methods of attack are investigated. To this end Dr. Shiragami, a reclusive scientist is recruited to work on the weapon. Dr. Shiragami has his own plans and tries to use the cells to revive a plant he believes has the spirit of his dead daughter. The results is a monstrous rose known as Biollante. As Godzilla appears he makes a beeline to the new creation and battle ensues.

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One of the most appealing elements of this movie is the world building. The lack of knowledge or feel over the fact that humans live in a world where giant monsters could appear at a moment’s notice always annoyed me. Putting measures and procedures into place for such an attack should just be a way of life. This film opens with the different levels of the Godzilla appearance scale. There are buildings dedicated to those that were lost in the last Godzilla attack. This is a world that experienced a monster attack and is ready for when the next one takes place. Also, there is the subplot of people who are intentionally using Godzilla’s cells as a means to get a leg up in the energy race across the globe. Again, this is a world that definitely feels like its feeling the impact of giant mutated dinosaurs stomping around and causing havoc.

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This film introduces us to Miki Saegusa the one character that we will observe and follow the rest of the Heisei era films. Here she starts as a young girl with psychic abilities working at a center for people who have special talents. We also watch her become contracted by G-Force for her abilities. This is not the last time she will be asked to use her gifts to take on Godzilla. Truth be told, she was my first movie character crush.

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Biollante is unique and I meant that in a very good way. Other than Destroyah, she is the only monster that is original in the Heisei era. All others are based off or modified monsters that we saw previously in the Showa Era films. She definitely leaves an impression with her tentacles and her acid spitting abilities. Sadly she is still a plant and is very vulnerable to Godzilla’s radioactive blast and thereby easier to kill.

Basically if I have not gushed enough I will say it again “Go see this film!” This is the movie that I keep coming back to every now and again to remind myself just how much I enjoy Kaiju films. My only wish is that other films of the Heisei era stuck with this level of intensity and awesomeness. Sadly, its a bumpy ride from here. If you don’t believe me check through the archives for my review of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Compared to this, the rating went down considerable.

Rating: A

Frankenstein Conquers the World, Part 1

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I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on a podcast I enjoy. Derek Kock hosts Monster Kid Radio which talks about the classic and sometimes not so classic movies of yesteryear and he let me come and and talk some giant monster. The movie we discussed? Frankenstein Conquers the WorldA Head over there and give it a listen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy us gushing about our love for giant monster movies.

Correction: While re-listening to this podcast I realized that in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla they make reference to maser cannons being first introduced fighting against the two creatures from War of the Gargantuas. Since War of the Gargantuas is a semi-sequel to Frankestein Conquers the World, this Frankenstein is thereby part of the Godzilla canon.

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Pacific Rim

bg_0There are times when you see a trailer to movie that just speaks to you. You watch it, are utterly memorized, and say “I am there” to the person sitting next to you. When the time comes and find out the movie did fulfill its promises you feel even more satisfied that the film was exactly what you hoped it would be. This is the exact scenario I experienced with Pacific Rim, a film that was precisely what I wanted and more.

After a dimensional rift opens in the ocean and starts releasing giant monsters called Kaiju humanity is on the verge of being wiped out. In response, the world builds Jaegers, giant robots to fight them. Raleigh Becket is a former Jaeger pilot who wasn’t able to fighter again after losing his brother. Now as the Jaeger program is being forced into retirement, Raleigh is called back into service to fight one last battle: to deliver a bomb into the rift and kill the monsters on the other side. With the help of Mako Mori, a woman with a past deeply connected to the Kaiju, Raleigh will fight against the Kaiju and cancel the apocalypse. pacific-rim-jaeger-controls

Director Guillermo Del Toro delivered the ultimate love letter to fans of giants monsters and robots with this film. From the rocket punches to the Serizawa factor used to grade the Kaiju, this film was almost tailor made to be reviewed by a Giant Monster/Mecha fanatic such as myself. I’ve yet to see a movie that the director has made that I haven’t enjoyed immensely.

The monsters and robots are the real draw of this film. The monsters all look menacing and towering over every opponent they they take on. My personal favorite would have to be Otachi because of his ability to fly and spit acid at the same time. You would think that my favorite robot would be Gypsy Danger as its the main machine in the movie but I have a soft spot for Eureka Striker. Don’t know what it is about but it just calls to me. Really need to grab a figure of that character to add to my collection.

The characters are very interesting to say the least even though some might say they fit into such familiar categories. Raleigh is the guy brought by for one more mission. Mako is the newbie with a twinkle in her eye that’s eager to prove herself. Idris is the hardened commander that won’t put up with no back talk. Of course balancing out this ensemble are unique characters like Dr. Newton Geiszler who is a Kaiju fanatic and Hannibal Chau, who has a found a way to profit off the dead Kaiju corpses. All together they form a cast that is fantastic to watch over and over again.

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This film is epic, plain and simple. I am so glad that so many others found it to be just as amazing and we are eventually going to get a sequel to this film. I promise I’ll be there as soon as it opens to write up another review for others out there who are fans of Giant Robots using rocket elbows to deliver punches into the face of a Kaiju.

Also, they had a “Make a Jaeger” game on a website sponsored by the movie. I decided to make it the defender of my home state of Michigan. I present, Metro Renaissance.metro2

Rating: A