MFR: Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye # 52

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Another Transformers Review is up at Monkeys Fighting Robots. I do my best not to gush but I just can’t help it. I love this series so much.

Avatar

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Today’s film is a conundrum for any fan of giant robots. It presents a world where space marines pilot them but insists we shouldn’t root for them. Instead we root for a group of blue furred aliens. Crazy isn’t it?

Jake Sully is a disabled soldier looking for a purpose. He is approached by the navy who want him to take his brother’s place on the planet Pandora and use an Avatar body to become a Navi to act as security. After being separated from his group he is saved by Naheeri, daughter of the chief of the home tree. He is allowed to stay and learn the ways of the Navi. Soon Jake finds himself getting so deep into the culture he begins to questions his loyalty and his feelings for Naheeri.

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Avatar’s appeal was reflected in its box offer return. For a film which didn’t have any type of previous materiel it did surprisingly well. Though the haters were quick to label it “Dances with Smurfs” because of its similarities to the film Dances with Wolves and the fact the aliens have blue skin. It is suggested you don’t pay attention to these critics as the film has a lot to offer.

The insane attention to detail presented with the visuals used to showcase the alien world of Pandora makes the movie mandatory viewing. The experience of watching the film in 3D is an incredible and immersive. Some think this is the only proper way to watch the movie. James Cameron really knew what he was doing when he took the time to craft the immensely engaging world.

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The mecha of the film falls into the “military issued hardware” category. They are the basic bipedal, human armed robots and they wield enlarged versions of human weapons. This means there is no customized suits or real way of distinguishing them apart. Luckily, there are few moments where so many of these machines are on the screen at the same time where it becomes hard to tell who is piloting which suit.

Despite the very conclusive ending the film posses, many sequels have been planned. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone considering how much money the first movie made. I personally am willing to give James Cameron the time he needs to get more of these films produced. Even if it does mean it will take him even longer to get around to a proper adaptation of Battle Angel Alita. Still, even if the sequels go too far or shatter the look of the characters we still have this movie and the joy it gave to us. Avatar is essential film for any fan of giant robots, science fiction, and aliens. Even if you are rooting for the robots to lose.

RATING: A

PODCAST: Rodan Roundtable

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Monster Kid Radio had me back again. This time it was to talk about Rodan on his 60th anniversary. The Podcast’s host Derek M. Koch invited me, author Stephen D. Sullivan and Illustrator Mark Maddox (who drew the above picture) on to talk about how much we loved the movie. Check it out and see what it scarred the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Macross Frontier

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If my previous reviews haven’t made it clear I do enjoy the Macross series a lot. Jets transforming into robots and pop songs helping to unite the universe, what’s not to love? Today though we look at a TV series with a lot of new material which takes us far into the future of the Macross universe.

The Macross class ship, the Frontier, has come under attack by the Vajira, a race of alien insects. As the young pilot cadet Alto Saotome works to join the private military group, S.M.S. (Strategic Military Services) he attracts the attention of seasoned idol singer Sheryl Nome and the up and coming talent Ranka Lee. The trio find themselves frequently attacked by the Vajira and discover they are much more than simple killing machines. As the truth comes out, it will tie directly into one of their pasts.

MacrossThe series has a lot of good points to it. It succeeds in making sure to advance the universe building aspect of the franchise while making references back to the older shows. References include the Nyan-Nyan restaurant become a franchise, the previous idol songs being played in the background, and even an episode where the characters are cast in a movie based on the events from Macross Zero. This attention to detail really helped to make it feel like it was a proper continuation of the Macross franchise.

The characters are very entertaining, each with their own deep background about them. Alto comes from a family of Kabuki dancers but became a pilot to fight this upbringing. Sheryl is an idol who is on top of the charts but finds its very lonely up there. Ranka wants nothing more than to sing but has a steep hill in front of her. These three by themselves make the show worth watching but there is still supporting characters like Michel, Klan, and Captain Lee to mention.

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This show isn’t without its problems. One of the most glaring ones is the episode entitled “Legend of Zero” with the previously mentioned movie filming episode. In it there is a particular action scene which goes so under budget with its animation and it looks absolutely absurd. We are talking Naruto vs. Pain bad but at least its only for like a five minute sequence. Still, you are better than this Macross! Don’t cut the corners, especially when this franchise only gets like two entries every decade.

The mecha in this series are the best part. Taking into account what needed to be upgraded, the Valkyries look fantastic especially in CG. Also, they included a close weapon feature which I think all Mecha should have as a back up just in case the enemy gets close. The VJ-25s have some very impressive technology, each with there own special function to combat against the Vajira menace. If you can’t tell they did a great job over all. 

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This is another show which sadly hasn’t made its way to American shores. Again, much like Macross: Do You Remember Love, I strongly plead with anyone who has the power to make it possible for these shows to someday be made available here to do something about it. I’m looking forward to the release of Macross Delta this year but know there is a good chance it won’t stateside anytime soon. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong though and someone will pick it up to stream.

RATING: A-

Daimajin

daimajin10 Today’s movie tells of a monster which doesn’t get a lot of respect in the kaiju community. Sure those who know his name know how important he is and how good these movies are. For those who don’t pull up a seat as I tell you the tale of the mountain god known as Daimajin.

The peace of a town is thrown into turmoil when Samanosuke the chamberlain to the Feudal Lord decides to overthrow his master and take control. The Lord’s two children Prince Tadafumi and Princess Kozasa manage to escape with the help of a samurai named Kogenta. He takes the children to a cave near where the mountain god statute, Daimajin sits. Ten years pass as the children grow up in isolation from the rest of the world and Samonosuke has enslaved the people for his own ambition. When her brother and Kogenta are taken hostage, Kozasa is left with no option but to pray to the ancient statue and hope for a miracle. Luckily, her wish is answered as the statue comes to life and sets forth on a path of divine justice.

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One of the most noticeable aspects of the film is it being a period piece. It takes place in ancient Japan where the country is still ruled by Feudal Lords who have samurai to enforce the laws. This also means the ways to stop Daimajin when he comes to bring his wrath are limited to what the people had in such a time. Ropes, hammers, and a few rifles are all they have at their disposal to fight against the magically possessed statue. It’s very interesting to see especially compared to other films where after a giant monster appears the audience finds themselves waiting for the army to show up to try and fight against the creature.

The scenes with Daimajin are the most striking and memorable parts of the movie. Moments like when the villains try to break his stone sleeping form to when he awakens to punish the wicked are very impressive bits of special effects which really help to make the movie distinct. Also, Daimajin has powers which he uses to extinguish flames and even travel great distances by turning into a comet. These more practical effects still retain their impressiveness even today.
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The one glaring problem with this film is its ending. It wraps up far too quickly. A little bit more of an ending showing how the people are able to recover after their time being under the harsh treatment of the bad guys would have been nice to see. Also, Daimajin waits a very long time before finally awakening to offer aid, a trend he will carry throughout the entire trilogy. The people need saving buddy, wake up a bit sooner.

The Daimajin trilogy is a very good series which all fans of giant monsters need to check out. I’ll work on getting through the rest of the films later in the year. For now, just wait and if things get bad, ask some large stone samurai statues for help.

RATING: B+