I was kind of hesitating to write this review. I mean this is Neon Genesis Evangelion we are talking about. What could I possibly say about a series that has had such praise for close to twenty years? But I know it’s my duty as a reviewer specializing in Mecha to talk about the series that was a turning point in the genre.
Taking place in the future city of Tokyo 3 the story focuses on a young man named Shinji Ikari. Called home by his father Shinji finds the city under attack by a mysterious creature called an Angel. Rescued by a member of the organization NERV run by his father Gendo, young Shinji is tasked with piloting the EVA 01 a robot specially designed to fight the angels. As Shinji begins to fight against these monsters he eventually discovers there are more forces at play even with the robot he has been assigned to use in battle.
There have literally been novels discussing the different aspects of this series. Instead of looking at them in an effort to dissect the series (so this review doesn’t go on for an entire month) I am instead going to go over how I viewed and enjoyed the series over the years. I started watching this series at the end of high school where I found it enjoyable as a giant robot series. That was for must of the first run. The second time I researched it I started looking into it for the deeper meanings of the series and asking some of the bigger questions like “What was Seele really planning?”. Then I eventually watched End the Evangelion and didn’t really know what to think about the whole thing. Man that movie was a trip but that’s a review for another day. Then came the disenchantment with the series. I eventually got a roommate that obsessed over the series to the point of collecting Rei Ayanami figures and basically helped the End of Evangelion to leave an even worse taste in my mouth. I haven’t re-watched the series since then. The shine of the series was gone and I wonder if there is any way to bring it back. I mean I still appreciate the series for what it is. This was a game changer to the mecha genre much like Puella Magi Madoka Magica shook up the magical girl genre. My relationship with Neon Genesis Evangelion is much like a real relationship complete with its ups and downs.
Basically this is a series I had great devotion and has stood the test of time but since it has been around for so long I have fallen out of love with it but reflect on the memories we had fondly. I guess the best way to renew the feelings I only certain held for it would be to finally break down and watch the new movies. I just have been having trouble breaking down to watch them. I mean I have been burned before.
There are some movies that you have seen so many times that you can regurgitate the dialog up word for word. Yet at the drop of hat or with a simple suggestion from a friend you will gladly rewatch that film. This is the case with Transformers the movie. I’ve watch it a hundred times and I’ll watch it a hundred times more.
The film opens with the Decepticons having the upper hand in their war against the Autobots. Attacking a ship bound for earth and using it to sneak into the Autobots base an epic battle ensues resulting in the lose of many a fan favorite character. Elsewhere an evil force known as Unicron is watching and waiting ready to make his move and change the history of the Transformers forever.
Considering I could gush over and over for hours about this movie I should probably look at the negative side of it. For starters I can agree with the critics who have stated that the film’s plot is very similar to Star Wars. Hot Rod (Luke Skywalker) is aided by Kup (Obiwan Kenobi) to help stop a mighty nemesis Galvatron (Darth Vader) who is being aided by the unspeakable power of Unicron (The Death Star). True as that might be the fact is that the story is still fun and entertaining despite these similarities. Besides there are worst films to copy.
The movie also successes in making sure to take a step that every good film based on a TV series needs to take. This step is enacting change. If it don’t have change that actually effects the main story from the series and shakes up the established stasis quo then it’ll be criticized for just being a long episode. Sadly this change comes in the form of losing a lot of great characters including Ironhide, Prowl, and Optimus Prime. Still these were deaths that struck a cord with every fan that watch the film.
The movie boast some of the best fights in Transformer history. Blasters tapes vs. Soundwave’s tapes. Optimus vs. Megatron, and The Dinobots vs. Constructicons. All the while these fights are going on the intense music of Stan Bush and Spectral General (whose actual name is Kick Axe, but had to change it to be on the animated movie’s soundtrack). Another fact that everyone likes to point out is this was the last role for famed actor Orson Welles who voiced Unicron in a very menacing way. Sure its not as glorious as other roles of his but still it is memorable. There are worse ways to be remembered.
As I stated earlier I could gush over and over about this movie. The animation ages well. The action is breathtaking and the new characters are introduced in memorable ways. The soundtrack is so catchy I dare everyone to be stupid. Sorry couldn’t resist. The fact is that if you haven’t seen this movie and are reading this blog I urge you to stop. You have to see this movie. Go now before it’s too late. In other words…Transform and roll out.
Today we have an attempt to cash in on my childhood on a degree just as bad as the next Michael Bay movie. I am talking about the Voltron Force.
Set a few years after where the original series left off, the Voltron team has been disbanded and their mechanical lions impounded after they go haywire. With the help of a few new cadets, the team reclaims their lost lions and prepares to fight against Prince Lotor who has risen from a deep sleep in hopes of once again attempting to take over the entire Universe.
I have to say that I like the feel of the show as a whole. The original team (Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Allura) are updated for a new audience but still hold enough feel of their personalities from the first series. The action is good and I couldn’t help but have a bit of a fangasm as the lions came together to form the might robot Voltron. The narration sequence as the robots combine is engraved into my mind in the same way GIJOE’s “Knowing is half the battle” is. Pure nostalgic gold.
The problem I seem to have with this series is the new characters that were added to appeal to the younger demographic. All three of them have a huge character flaw that I just can’t get over. Daniel, the main character is basically a self insert biggest fan ever, who gets handpicked to become a cadet for the Voltron Force. Vince is a walking MacGuffin (plot device) who’s mysterious power can do whatever is necessary in the story, everything from recharging a lion that is low on power at the right time to cause the lions to undergo a new formation to defeat an enemy. Larmina, the only girl candidate is displaying the Xena/Buffy personality that has become common with female characters in this day and age. I really don’t have a problem with that aspect of the character. The problem I do have with her is that she is a niece to Allura, to a character who was previously described as being an only child. That’s right, they once again bring in the Scrappy doo, “It’s not a character’s direct kid, it’s their niece, but looks as if it might as well being their kid plot” which was a tired idea back in the day and is a tired idea now.
I really want to like this series but the glaring problems with the new addictions to the cast make it incredible hard to enjoy the series. I would personally prefer to rewatch the incredible underrated series, Voltron: The third dimension, than this one. I might give it a few more episodes but I’m definitely not giving this series my top priority.
After the previous attempt to bring Godzilla to the states was less than stellar, the American Kaiju community took something of a hit. Not in the fandom overall but Hollywood squashed more giant movies for years to come regulating them to being produced in the low budget straight for DVDs and SyFy channel demographic. There were moments of hope with the release of King Kong and Cloverfield which were entertaining but still had their flaws. The biggest ray of hope came when Pacific Rim was both a commercial and critical success and reminded people how awesome it is to watch giant robot punch giant monsters.
This left fans mixed on what to expect from Godzilla’s second stomp through America’s shores. Especially since the director, Gareth Edwards’ previous film Monsters left fans feeling just as mixed after watching it. Luckily we as fans of Kaiju were rewarded with what they saw. Not with what everyone was expected but was still incredible entertaining.
The human element of this movie is handled by three characters. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) a nuclear scientist who losses his wife to an accident he knows is more than it appears. Joining Joe on his journey is his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a military man who just wants to go home to his wife and son. Finally, Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), a scientist who along with his secret organization Monarch knows the truth behind the incident that took Ford’s wife.
After digging into the mysterious accident Joe and Ford discover that the accident was actually caused by a creature known as a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) a giant monster that eats nuclear energy. Upon further investigation it is revealed there is a second MUTO that could mate and create an army of creatures that will wipe out humanity. As all seems lost, Serizawa says there is a creature of immense power, an unstoppable force of nature and a mighty predator that sees the MUTOs as his enemies. This ancient creature may be humanities last hope and they call him Godzilla.
The initial trailers for this movie presented us with a much different Godzilla then what is actually delivered in the film. The previews fooled us into believing that Godzilla had returned to his origins as being an uncontrollable force of nature that will bring our destruction. Instead it delivers a tribute to the films of the late Showa Era where Godzilla was a defender of a humanity who only wrecks a building or two while smacking around his monster opponents. Depending on if that’s the version of Godzilla you prefer or not may affect how much you enjoy this movie. On a personal level it was a welcomed sight. The “Kiss of Death” scene was a moment of pure Kaiju ecstasy.
Speaking of tributes the movie makes sure to make nods to other great monster movies. The family name Brody is a reference to Chief Brody from Jaws. Dr. Serizawa was the name of the scientist from the original Godzilla movie. The MUTOs appear to get inspiration from Gamera’s villains the Gyaos. There also is a nod to Godzilla’s rival Mothra in the form of a cocoon in an abandoned aquarium with faded letters on the side spelling it out. Go see it again to check. Its little nods like this that showcase the love this film has for the genre.
The weakest part of this movie is the human factors. Dr. Serizawa and Joe Brody are intriguing scientists which are dedicated their lives to researching the Kaiju and their origins. Sadly we don’t get nearly enough time with them. Instead we spend more time with Ford who is just trying to get back to his wife and son but keeps getting side tracked with giant monsters. He also just happens to be the highly trained specialist that is the only one who can both arm and disarm the nuke they want to use as bait for the monsters. The whole perfect man that is exactly suited to the situation he gets thrown can work but just doesn’t in this movie. Frankly he just seems a little flat compared to the more impassionate scientists that are dedicated to stopping the MUTOs and helping Godzilla. Also Ford’s wife has next to no character moments and it became just a little frustrating anytime the movie pulls away from the giant monsters to focus on them. Almost makes you wish she would have an up close encounter with any of the monsters so we could see more of them in the movie. Almost.
Still the movie does show enough city destruction, monster combat, and goose bump producing Godzilla roars for any jaded Kaiju fan to enjoy this film. It also is very effective way of introducing new fans to the media. So kudos, Edwards, you didn’t mess up. Now get to work on the sequel. More Dr. Serizawa, Monarch, Godzilla, and work on getting more character out of your lead. Especially if he’s helping Godzilla save mankind.