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March 28th, 2015 Movie – Godzilla Vs Gigan (a.k.a. Godzilla On Monster Island)

godzilla 12 - godzilla vs gigan

Another day, another Godzilla movie. After banning the director of the last movie from doing another Godzilla movie, Toho Studios decided to get a former director for the next movie. They also decided to go back to a tried and true plot for their movie; aliens from another planet use monsters to try and conquer the earth. So will the Godzilla series be redeemed with these factors? Well…..this is a movies from the 70’s so….see for yourself as I review today’s movie, Godzilla Vs Gigan (a.k.a. Godzilla On Monster Island)

The plot: Manga artist Genko Kotaka has been trying to get a job without much success. He finally winds up getting a job at World Children’s Land, a monster themed amusement park that is intended to promote peace. As he heads to the corporate headquarters, he bumps into a young girl who is running out of the building, dropping a tape reel in the process. Later that night, Genko runs into the girl again, who begs him to give her back the tape. After talking with Genko, the girl, Machiko Shima, and her friend, Shosaku Takasugi, explain that Machiko’s brother, Takashi, has gone missing and that the tape could have a clue as to what happened to him. Genko retrieves the tape and the three people listen to it but all they hear is noise. However, the monsters on Monster Island hear the noise and Godzilla sends Anguirus to investigate. Genko heads to the amusement park and finds out that Takashi is being held captive there. Genko, along with his girlfriend Tomoko, try to rescue him but are captured by Kubota, the head of Children’s Land. Kubota takes them into the control room, at the top of a Godzilla shaped tower, where the three people learn that Kubota and the Chairman, Fumio Sudo, are actually human sized cockroaches that have come from Space Hunter Nebula M to conquer the Earth. To do this, they use the tape that they managed to retrieve to signal two monsters from outer space, King Ghidorah and a cyborg monster named Gigan. The two monsters arrive on Earth and begin to attack Japan. Anguirus had gone back to get Godzilla and the two monsters arrive to battle the space monsters. Genko, Tomoko, and Takashi manage to escape the Godzilla tower and try to convince the authorities to attack the theme park. Meanwhile, the space monsters lure Godzilla towards the tower, where the aliens begin to attack Godzilla with a laser built into the tower. Genko, Takashi, and some police officers manage to load an elevator full of explosives and send it up to the top floor of the tower, where the aliens unknowingly shoot the explosives, destroying the tower. King Ghidorah and Gigan are confused by the loss of the control tapes and are soon defeated and sent flying back into space by Godzilla and Anguirus.

This was a pretty decent movie in the series. The plot was good and I thought how they revealed the cockroaches through shadows, as opposed to having a giant cockroach appear on screen, was a good way to make use of the limited budget. The human side of the story was pretty good and the story actually progressed more with them than it did with the monsters. The scene with the monsters “talking” was pretty funny, both in the Japanese version (where comic style pop-ups appeared over the monsters heads) and in the English version (where the monsters actually spoke). I also thought it was interesting that they had the good monsters bleeding in this movie. The one thing that I thought was a little annoying was the use of footage from some of the older movies to fill in scenes. The main problem I had with this is that the scenes they used were in the daytime, but the battle in this movie was at night. So you would randomly go from a dark scene to a lighter scene and then back again. It made the fights look a little weird. Otherwise, this is a fun movie to watch.

A good Godzilla movie to watch, which is never a bad thing.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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March 27th, 2015 Movie – Godzilla Vs Hedorah (a.k.a. Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster)

godzilla 11 - godzilla vs hedorah

You know, I think it would be a toss up as to which Godzilla movie had the deeper meaning behind it. The original movie is well known as being an allegory to the atomic bomb. That is a well known fact. Then you have today’s movie. This movie isn’t even subtle about it’s meaning. This is simply a movie talking about the rise in pollution over the years. But then again, the 70’s were an odd time for the Godzilla series. See for yourself as I review today’s movie, Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (a.k.a. Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster)

The plot: A strange, tadpole-like creature is brought to Dr. Toru Yano to study. Taking his son, Ken, with him, Dr. Toru goes diving in the area where the creature was discovered but both of them wind up being attacked by an even larger creature, scarring them both. When a larger creature is seen sinking an oil tanker, Dr. Toru theorizes that the creature that sank the ship and the one that attacked him are two parts of the same creature, named Hedorah, and that they will continue to feed on pollution and get even bigger. Meanwhile, Ken is having visions of Godzilla battling the pollution and believes Godzilla will show up to fight the monster. Hedorah appears on land and begins feeding on some smokestacks when Godzilla appears. The two monsters begin to battle with Godzilla appearing to win as Hedorah escapes back into the sea. Hedorah reappears in a flying form that spews a cloud of toxic gases underneath it, killing thousands of people and destroying everything around it. A large group of people decide to throw an end of the world party at Mt. Fuji but Hedorah winds up killing several of the people during it’s battle with Godzilla. Dr. Toru figures out that the only way to kill Hedorah is to dry it out and has the JSDF construct two electrodes but the power is cut during the monster’s battle. Godzilla uses his own atomic ray to power the electrodes, beginning to dry out Hedorah’s body. Hedorah transforms into it’s flying form to try and escape but Godzilla uses his atomic ray to fly after it and bring it back. Godzilla once again uses his atomic ray to power the electrodes and dry out Hedorah, then rips the body to pieces and dries it out even more until there is nothing left but dust.

Yes, the most infamous scene that ever made Godzilla fans say “WTF”. Godzilla flying. This was probably the dumbest thing I have ever seen. But I am not the only one who thought so. The producer of the film actually said that the director had ruined Godzilla and banned him from not just directing another Godzilla film, but from directing any movie that Toho Studios ever made.

This was an odd movie. The plot was actually decent and could have been made into a better movie. The Hedorah monster was actually a neat idea and I liked the idea of it being able to change forms, although there were times where the monster looked too plastic. The battles between the two monsters were decent with the dark lighting in the film actually helping with them. The little animation sequences about Hedorah were a little humourous and helped to take away from some of the darker tones in the movie. This was one of the rare movies to show a monster specifically attacking people, as opposed to just destroying cities and military vehicles like they normally do. And of course there is that stupid flying scene. But this was the 70’s so maybe the director was on drugs when he decided to film that scene.

Not your average monster fits right in with your non-average movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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March 26th, 2015 Movie – All Monsters Attack (a.k.a. Godzilla’s Revenge)

godzilla 10 - godzillas revenge

In the span of a day, we go from my favorite Godzilla movie to my least favorite one. This was yet another attempt to make a more “kid friendly” Godzilla, I guess to help market it to more people. From the use of a lot of stock footage to the plot revolving around dreams, this really was a weird movie. The fact that all of this revolved around a little kid really makes me think two things; Toho rushed a movie to try and capitalize on the success of Destroy All Monsters, and that they were trying to use the movie model that the Gamera films employed. But feel free to judge for yourselves while I review today’s movie, All Monsters Attack (a.k.a. Godzilla’s Revenge)

The plot: Ichiro Miki is a highly imaginative kid who always comes home to an empty an apartment since both of his parents are working. His only friends are his next door neighbor, a toymaker named Shinpei Inami, and a female classmate, Sachiko. Ichiro is tormented everyday by a gang of bullies led by Sanko Gabara so he dreams that he is able to go to Monster Island and visit all the monsters there. On Monster Island, Ichiro witnesses Godzilla battling some Kamacuras and then Ebirah before Ichiro is chased by a Kamacuras. Ichiro falls into a cave and is rescued by Minilla, who befriends Ichiro due to them both being bullied someone named Gabara. Ichiro is woken up by Shinpei and goes outside to play, where he again is bullied by Gabara. Ichiro winds up playing in an abandoned factory, where he finds a wallet with someone driver’s license inside. Ichiro leaves the factory but is witnessed by two bank robbers, who plan on kidnapping him to get the license back. Back home, Ichiro dreams his way back to Monster Island, where he meets up with Minilla to watch Godzilla fight Ebirah, Kumonga, and some jets. Gabara shows up and Minilla fights him briefly before running away in fear. While Godzilla shows up to teach Minilla how to use his atomic ray, Ichiro is woken up when the bank robbers grab him and take him back to the factory. Held captive by the robbers, Ichiro falls back asleep and watches Gabara and Minilla fight again and eventually, Ichiro is able to help Minilla beat Gabara. Godzilla shows up to congratulate Minilla and winds up being attacked by Gabara, but Godzilla easily beats the other monster. Back in the real world, Ichiro is able to use what he learned in his dreams to outwit the robbers and get away. The next day, Ichiro is able to stand up to the bullies and finally able to make friends with them after he pulls a prank on a billboard painter.

I will admit it, this is my least favorite of the Godzilla movies. I will admit that the plot wasn’t that bad, as far as the human side of things went. I just didn’t like how they tried to make a feature film out of it. This could have been a TV special or something and it would have been fine. The majority of the monster scenes were taken from previous Godzilla movies, mostly Son Of Godzilla Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster. The new scenes involving Gabara were ok, although I thought the monster itself was ridiculous. The whole bit with Ichiro out smarting the bank robbers makes me think this movie was an influence for Home Alone. Another thing I did not like was the ending of this movie. Ichiro standing up to the bullies was fine, but when he pulled the prank on the billboard painter, exactly what kind of message is that supposed to be sending. Stand up to your bullies but then do exactly what they wanted so you can be friends with them? That was ridiculous.

So this is somewhat marketed to be a kid’s movie, but you might want to think twice about some of the messages in it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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March 25th, 2015 Movie – Destroy All Monsters

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If you ever wanted to know, this right here is the movie that started it all for me. I can’t say that it was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw, but, after 30+ years of watching these movies, this is the first movie I remember watching. It isn’t the best movie of the series, but it has always been my favorite. All of these monsters in one movie, how could I not fall in love with this movie. It was one of the greatest movies I had ever seen. So allow me to introduce my all time, #1 favorite Godzilla movie, Destroy All Monsters.

The plot: In 1999, all of the monsters have managed to be confined to a series of islands named Monsterland. An underground control room is built as a research facility for scientists to study the monsters and special devices are used to make sure the monsters do not leave. One day, communications with Monsterland are disrupted and the various monsters begin attacking all of the world’s major cities. Captain Yamabe and the crew of the Moonlight SY-3 is sent down from the moon to investigate what is going on. On Monsterland, they discover the scientists and monsters are being controlled by the Kilaaks, an alien race that intends to conquer the Earth. When the UNSC (United Nations Scientific Committee) figure out how the Kilaaks are controlling the monsters, the Kilaaks send Godzilla, Rodan, Manda, and Mothra to attack Tokyo. The UNSC discover that the Kilaaks have built a base near Mt. Fuji but when the JSDF and the Moonlight SY-3 go to investigate, they are chased off by Godzilla, Anguirus, and Rodan. The UNSC figure out that the Kilaaks are controlling the monsters from a base on the moon so the Moonlight SY-3 attacks the Kilaaks’ moon base and manages to destroy their control over the Earth’s monsters. The UNSC manage to get control of the Earth’s monsters and send them to attack the Kilaaks’ base at Mt. Fuji. The Kilaaks summon King Ghidorah to battle the Earth monsters, but the Earth monsters manage to kill King Ghidorah. The Kilaaks then summon a flaming monster called the Fire Dragon to destroy the UNSC control device and then attack the monsters themselves. However, even without being controlled, Godzilla still uncovers and destroys the Kilaak base. The Moonlight SY-3 attacks the Fire Dragon, revealing it to be a Kilaak saucer, and destroys it. In the end, the monsters are seen living in peace back on Monsterland.

Destroy All Monsters was intended to be the last movie in the Godzilla series, but it did so well that they decided to make some more movies. It was well received by the critics as shown by the 80% rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes. This movie featured the most monsters of any movie in the Godzilla series until the 28th movie, Godzilla: Final Wars. There was also one rather famous goof in this movie that always confused me until I learned what happened. During the scene where Paris is attacked, the announcer says that Baragon was attacking the city but the monster that appeared was Gorosaurus. The reason for this is because the monster suit for Baragon was being redressed and used for some of the villains in the Ultraman show. So they substituted Gorosaurs in the scene, but forgot to change the dialogue, which could be very confusing for a beginning kaiju fanatic.

I love this movie. This has always been my #1 favorite movie in the series, not just because of the movie itself, but because of the memories it has for me. This was the first Godzilla movie I remember watching with my dad, and there were many Saturday’s afterwards where we would watch a movie or two in the afternoon. As for the movie itself, I will admit it is not the best movie in the series but it is still a pretty good movie. The story was pretty simple and, with it being set in the “future”, some of the plot lines were not as far-fetched. The “alien’s controlling the monsters” bit is not original to this series but they used it very well here. The scenes with the monsters were pretty good, although there were a few times during the battle with King Ghidorah where you could see the strings guiding the necks. The effects in the movie were pretty good, especially when you consider how much effort had to have gone into that final battle.

It might not be the best movie, but it is a great movie to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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March 24th, 2015 Movie – Son Of Godzilla

godzilla 08 - son of godzilla

Why did this happen. Why did Toho Studios try to humanize Godzilla. Is it because they felt threatened by Gamera somewhat and decided to make their signature monster appear more kid friendly? Or is this just an attempt to truly make Godzilla appear to be a hero. Whatever the reason, today’s movie is definitely in a lighter tone than the previous movies. No cities being destroyed. No army to fight. Sure there are a couple of new monsters to fight, but for the most part this movie is simply about Godzilla playing the role of a single parent. So without further ado, here is today’s movie, Son Of Godzilla.

The plot: A group of scientist are on Solgel Island conducting experiments in controlling the weather when they are interrupted by the arrival of reporter Goro Maki. Goro manages to convince the scientists to let him stay and cover their experiments in exchange for doing the cooking for the group. However, the island has it’s share of mysteries as large mantises are seen on the island and Goro spies a young girl swimming in a nearby lagoon. As the scientists conduct their first test, a mysterious signal interrupts it, resulting in the test detonating prematurely and unleashing a radioactive storm on the island. After the storm passes, the group discover that the mantises, which Goro names Kamacuras, have now grown to giant size and have unearthed a large egg, which hatches to reveal a baby Godzilla. Responding to the cries of the newly hatched baby, Godzilla arrives on the island to rescue it, killing two of the Kamacuras and sending the third one flying off. Meanwhile, Goro falls into a cave and discovers Saeko, the girl he had seen earlier. After talking to her, he learns that she has been living on the island for years, having accompanied her father as he studied a giant spider named Kumonga. A few days later, the majority of the scientific team have become sick and Saeko goes out to get some herbs to help them recover but is attacked by Kamacuras. Saeko is rescued by Minilla but during the battle, Minilla accidentally wakes up Kumonga. Kumonga goes after Saeko and Goro, eventually trapping all of the humans in Saeko’s cave. Attracted to all the noise, Minilla arrives to help but winds up getting captured by Kumonga, as does the last Kamacuras. Kumonga injects Kamacuras with his venom and prepares to do the same to Minilla but Godzilla arrives and begins battling Kumonga. Meanwhile, the humans manage to make contact with a rescue ship and decide to use their weather controlling experiment to freeze the island and cover their escape. As snow begins to cover the island, Godzilla and Minilla defeat Kumonga and then huddle together to hibernate as the snow piles around them.

I know that some people feel that this is a good movie in the series, but personally, I am not one of them. Most of that stems from one reason. I can’t stand Minilla. It looks more like the son of the Michelin Man than Godzilla. To be honest, it looks more like Baby Sinclair from Dinosaurs than anything else. I know having Minilla around was to make Godzilla more kid friendly but I think it was a stupid reason. I will say that Minilla is at least better than Godzooky. Aside from Minilla, there were a couple of other problems with this movie. The plot was pretty weak and the characters were pretty one dimensional. The Kamacuras looked pretty cheap in design and although Kumonga did look better, it still wasn’t a good monster. There were several times where you could see the strings involved in moving the monsters, particularly with the just hatched Minilla. I will say this, if you want to introduce your kids to Godzilla, this is a good movie to start with.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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March 23rd, 2015 Movie – Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep (a.k.a. Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster)

godzilla 07 - godzilla vs the sea monster

Well, it has been a week of Godzilla movies and I am not the least bit tired of them. Today’s movie is the first of the so called “island movies”, which were a series of movies where the story took place on an island, instead of a major city. This movie also was the first where, aside from Godzilla, the monsters were not other dinosaurs or from outer space, but rather normal animals that somehow grew to gigantic sizes. Mothra doesn’t count because she was in her own movie first. Anyways, let’s go ahead and get right into today’s movie, Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep (a.k.a. Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster)

The plot: Believing that his brother, Yata, is still alive, Ryota tries to get the authorities to renew the search for his brother. After failing that, he sees a flier for a dance contest where the prize is a boat so he goes to enter only to discover that he is too late. Nita and Ichino, two contestants who lost the dance contest, decide to take Ryota to the harbor to show him some boats. As the three men board onto a yacht, they are surprised to find Yoshimura, a man claiming to be the owner, onboard but agree to his offer to let them stay the night. While everyone is asleep, Ryota sets sail in the boat to look for his brother but a hurricane causes the boat to sink and they wash up on an island. On the island, they discover that a terrorist organization known as Red Bamboo have a base on the island and have kidnapped natives from Infant Island as slave labor. They also learn that a giant lobster/shrimp, named Ebirah, lives in the ocean off the island and will attack anyone that tries to escape. The four men manage to help a native girl, Dayo, escape from Red Bamboo but when they are hiding in a cave, they discover the sleeping form of Godzilla. The group sneaks into Red Bamboo’s base to see what they are up to and discover that Red Bamboo has built a heavy water factory. As they are attempting to get away, Ryota becomes entangled in a balloon and is carried off while Nita is captured and sent to the cells where the Infant Island natives are kept. Yoshimura, Ichino, and Dayo use lightning to wake up Godzilla, who immediately begins to battle Ebirah. The next day, the three people encounter Ryota and Yata, who had managed to reunite on Infant Island, and have now come back to free the natives. As Godzilla destroys both Ebirah and the Red Bamboo base, the natives are freed and build a giant basket so that Mothra can carry them back to Infant Island while Godzilla, escaping the destruction of the island, swims away.

When I first saw this movie, the thing that always seemed to stand out is how odd Godzilla was portrayed in this movie. From the use of lightning to revive him to the weird obsession he had with Dayo, this simply did not seem like normal Godzilla behavior. Years later, I finally earn the truth. This movie was originally intended to star a different monster by the name of King Kong. For whatever reason, I think it was some legal reason over rights, Toho decided to pull Kong and replace him with Godzilla in this movie. However, since they didn’t change the script, it made for some weird situations for Godzilla. This is probably why this movie was featured on MST3K.

This was a decent movie but definitely not one of my favorites. The human actors were ok but several of them were completely annoying. Yoshimura was the most interesting, and definitely the most well written, character. The dubbing for the U.S. version is pretty funny with what the people wind up saying. The first fight scene with Godzilla and Ebirah was pretty ridiculous as it wound up being a throwing a rock at each other for way longer than necessary. Godzilla throws a boulder at Ebirah. Ebirah hits it back to Godzilla with it’s claw. Godzilla headbutts the boulder back to Ebirah. Repeat ad nauseam. I’m sure it would have made more sense if King Kong was in it but with Godzilla, it looked stupid, especially since Godzilla roasted him a few minutes later with his atomic breath. Still, it’s a Godzilla movie and I found it to be enjoyable so that’s all I care about.

If you want to see Godzilla take on a giant lobster/shrimp, then watch this movie. Then, for fun, imagine what it would look like if it starred King Kong.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: February 7th, 2014 Movie – The Abyss

the abyss

One thing about a big budget science fiction movie is that it will almost always have some amazing special effects. However, sometimes those special effects hide the fact that the movie isn’t as good as it appears. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that spending millions of dollars can make Carnosaur be as good as Jurassic Park. But all of the great special effect can disguise some of the small flaws in the plot or other details that make the difference between a 5 star movie and a 4 star or lower movie. I’m sure some people might disagree with me, but today’s movie, The Abyss, is one such movie.

The plot: After encountering an unidentified object, the U.S. ballistic missile sub, the USS Montana, winds up sinking near the edge of the Cayman Trough. With Soviet ships and subs heading towards the area, the U.S. government decide that the quickest way to attempt a rescue is to send a SEAL team down onto the Deep Core, a privately owned underwater drilling rig. Dr. Lindsey Brigman, the designer of the rig agrees to accompany the Seal team, in spite of the fact that her estranged husband, Virgil “Bud” Brigman, is in charge of Deep Core. As everyone tries to figure out what happened to the Montana, they spot some strange creatures that they begin calling NTIs, Non-Terrestrial Intelligence. The SEAL’s leader, Lt. Coffey sends his men out in one of the rig’s mini subs to retrieve a warhead from the Montana. However, with sub occupied, Deep Core is unable to separate itself from the support ship on the surface and a hurricane causes the crane, with the tether still attached, to fall into the trench, dragging the rig to the edge of the cliff and killing several crew members. A NTI, in the form of a column of water explores the ship and while the crew believe it to be harmless, Lt. Coffey, becoming paranoid from high pressure nervous syndrome, believes it to be a threat. He rigs a remote vehicle to carry the warhead down the trench in order to blow up whatever is down there. Lindsey and Bud try to stop him and succeed in damaging Coffey’s mini-sub and causing it to fall into the trench, but they are unable to stop the remote vehicle from heading into the trench. Back on the rig, the crew tracks the remote and discovers that it has landed on a ledge partway down the trench. Bud volunteers to dive down, using a liquid breathing apparatus, to disarm the warhead, but once he succeeds, there is not enough oxygen to make the return trip so he sends a farewell to his wife, saying he knew this was a one way trip and that he loved her. As Bud’s lies on the ledge, he witnesses lights coming from the trench and an aquatic NTI approaches and leads Bud down into an alien ship lying on the bottom of the trench, where he is given a breathable atmosphere. Back on Deep Core, everybody is surprised to see Bud communicating with them, warning them to get ready. The alien ship begins to surface, bringing the Deep Core and Montana up with it. On the surface, the crew of the Deep Core are surprised they are not suffering from some form of decompression sickness and figure the NTIs had something to do with that as Bud and Lindsey reunite on the ship.

The Abyss was well received by the critics, earning an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Almost every critic praised the special effects in the movie, but there were several differing opinions about the movie as a whole. While the film did earn over $90 million worldwide, it was considered a flop due to it’s high budget. It also won the Academy award for Best Visual Effects, which was not a surprise to anyone. One thing I always found amazing about this movie are all the stories about how difficult this movie was to make. From stories of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ed Harris having breakdowns to actors and crew having fights and rampages off set, even James Cameron has admitted to this being the most difficult movie he has ever filmed.

This was a good movie but I did have a couple of problems with it. The cast all did a great job in their performance and the special effects really were incredible. My problem was really with the ending. Now the first part of this movie is great. There is a bit of cold war tensions which added to the drama in the film, especially when Lt. Coffey started getting paranoid. The story is good although a little slower in pace then what you would expect. However, after 2 hours of buildup, the ending felt incredibly rushed and somewhat thrown together. For a movie this long, I expected a lot better.

So for a good story with some great special effects, this is right up there. But be prepared for a somewhat lackluster ending.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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