horror, movie, movie review

September 29th, 2019 Movie – Friday The 13th Part 2

friday the 13th 2

This is a story about the love between a mother and her son. See, the mother loved her son and when he drowned, she decided to get avenge his death by killing everyone she believed was responsible. When the mother was beheaded by one of her intended victims, the boy somehow sensed his mother’s death and rose up from his watery grave to attack his mother’s killer. He would then begin his own campaign to continue his mother’s work, spawning a legacy of terror that would reign for decades. That, in a nutshell, is the motivation for today’s movie (as well as all of the subsequent sequels), Friday The 13th Part 2.

The plot – Two months after surviving the murders at Camp Crystal Lake, Alice Hardy is still recovering from the ordeal in her apartment. Waking up from a nightmare of reliving her encounter with Mrs. Pamela Voorhees, and dealing with a phone call from her concerned mother, Alice goes to get her cat some food but as she opens the fridge, she is horrified to find Pamela’s head inside the fridge, just as a mysterious assailant stabs her through the temple with an ice pick. Five years later, Paul Holt is hosting a camp counselor training session at Crystal Lake; with his assistant Ginny, Jeff, Sandra, Ted, Mark, Scott, Terry, and Vickie among the attendees. As they all sit around a campfire that night, Paul tells the assembled counselors about Jason, how his body was never recovered from the lake and some of the locals believes he is still wandering the woods near Camp Crystal Lake. He also tells them about Alice and how she had disappeared, with nothing but a lot of blood found in her apartment and how some say that Jason had gotten his revenge on her. After Ted scares the counselors by wearing a mask and waving a spear, Paul tells the group that Camp Crystal Lake is off limits, then has everyone head back inside the cabins. As the counselors all have some fun before heading to bed, Crazy Ralph has made his way to the camp to try and warn the counselors to leave the area but as he is hiding behind a tree, someone uses some barbed wire as a garrote and kills him. The next day, as the counselors all head down to the lake, Sandra convinces her boyfriend Jeff to go with her to Camp Crystal Lake but they end up getting caught by Deputy Winslow. After telling Paul to keep the counselors away from the camp, Winslow heads back towards town but spots someone wearing a burlap sack for a mask race across the road heading towards the camp. Winslow gives chase, eventually finding a cabin deep in the woods and as Winslow checks inside,  he sees something in the back room that terrifies him, just before the mystery person kills him with a hammer. That night, Paul invites all of the counselors to a night on the town before the training gets serious, with Jeff and Sandra staying behind as punishment for their running off, and Terry Scott, Mark, and Vickie stay behind as well. After the counselors all leave, Terry decides to go skinny dipping in the lake but as she is out in the water, Scott steals her clothes and tauntingly tosses them to her as she gets out of the water. As Scott runs away from her, he ends up caught in a snare trap and suspended in the air. Terry considers leaving him there but decides to get something to cut the rope with and while she is gone, someone slits Scott’s throat. Terry returns to free Scott but when she sees that he is dead, she starts screaming, only to be confronted by someone. Meanwhile, at the bar, Ginny is talking with Paul and Ted about Jason and whether he could possibly be alive, but they both laugh off the notion. Back at the training center, Jeff and Sandra head upstairs to have sex, leaving Mark and Vickie downstairs. Vickie asks Mark about how he ended up in a wheelchair and as they get closer, they start making out and make plans to spend the night together. Vickie heads to her cabin to get ready but after she is gone for a while, Mark gets worried and goes looking for her, only to be struck in the face by a machete and sent rolling down the stairs. The killer then makes his way inside the main cabin and heads upstairs, where he kills Jeff and Sandra as they finish having sex. Vickie returns to the main cabin and when she doesn’t see him waiting for her, she heads upstairs to ask Jeff and Sandra if they have seen him, only to be surprised by the killer and stabbed with a kitchen knife. Paul and Ginny come back from the bar to find the lights out in the cabin and a mass amount of blood on one of the upstairs bed. As they head back downstairs to wait for the rain to stop so they can look for the others, Ginny sees the killer rise up behind Paul and shouts out a warning. Paul and the killer struggle in the dark and Ginny loses sight of them but when the killer rises up, Ginny screams and runs off. The killer chases her through the cabin and grounds, forcing Ginny to run into the woods to try and hide, where she eventually comes across the cabin. Calling out for help, Ginny enters the cabin but as she looks around, she sees Pamela’s desiccated head on a table in the back and realizes that the killer is Jason. Jason starts to break into the cabin so Ginny quickly dons Pamela’s sweater and tries to convince Jason that she is his mother, telling him he has done a good job. Getting him to kneel down, Ginny goes to slash him with the machete but as she moves, Jason sees his mother’s head and realizes he is being tricked. Jason deflects the blow, then slashes Ginny’s leg but before he can kill her, Paul shows up and jumps onto Jason. The two struggle, with Jason getting the upper hand but before he can kill Paul, Ginny swings the machete into Jason’s neck, dropping the killer. Ginny takes off the sack and Paul and Ginny react in horror to Jason’s face then head back to the cabin, where Paul starts to tend to Ginny’s wound. Hearing something at the door, the two arm themselves and Paul opens it to discover it is Terry’s dog Muffin but as the relax, Jason bursts through the window and grabs Ginny, dragging her outside. When morning comes, Ginny is being loaded into an ambulance by the authorities, with her asking where Paul is, but there is no sign of Paul or Jason.

Friday The 13th Part 2 was panned by the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Friday the 13th Part 2 sets the template for the franchise to follow with more teen victims, more gruesome set pieces, and fewer reasons to keep following along.” When Adrienne King was asked to reprise her role of Alice, she said that she wanted to only be on screen for a short time, as she was dealing with an obsessed fan after the release of Friday The 13th and feared for her life. The stalking was so bad that this resulted in her not taking any on screen roles for almost 30 years, though she did do some voice over work for several movies in the 90’s. While it didn’t earn as much as the original, the movie was still a box office success, earning $21.7 million off of a $1.2 million budget.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, these movies have always entertained me for how ridiculous they can be, but even I can admit that they should have never made a sequel to the original movie. That being said, this is still a pretty decent horror movie, even though it was rather predictable how it was going to turn out. The acting was ok, with Amy Steel doing a good job in her role as Ginny. I did like Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer reprising their roles of Alice and Pamela from the original movie and thought their small parts did a decent job in trying to keep the two movies connected while also expanding on it. The story was a pretty basic horror movie fare, but I did have a couple of problems with it. First off, I hated the ending, primarily the fate of Paul, as you are left with no idea if he lived or died. But the thing that bothered me more than anything was towards the beginning, when Jason kills Alice and as he leaves, he takes the tea kettle off of the burner. Why would he even bother doing that. It honestly made no sense and actually killed the mood, as it made it seem more comedic that scary. The special effects were ok, though some of the kills seemed to be a little muted, which is a little odd for a slasher film. This mainly involved the deaths of the women. For some reason the director seemed to be a little squeamish about showing excessive violence against the women (Terry’s death actually happening off camera and never shown as to how she died), even though there was no such hold up in the original movie. For all my issues, this is still a decent horror movie to watch, if for no other reason than to laugh at how ridiculous it is.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review

September 22nd, 2019 Movie – Friday The 13th (1980)

friday the 13th 1980

So tomorrow is the Fall Equinox, which means it is officially autumn, and that means that Halloween is right around the corner. Since last week was Friday the 13th, I decided that I should start doing a marathon session of movies featuring everybody’s favorite hockey mask wearing slasher, Jason Voorhees. Now I will be completely honest, I watched these movies completely out of order my first go around; with my first one having been the 3rd movie in the series first. In fact, I’m pretty sure I watched almost every sequel made at the time (2-6) before I finally got a chance to see this movie. Anyways, this may not have been the first slasher movie, but it is definitely the one whose series defined the genre so let’s have some fun going back to camp as I watch today’s movie, Friday The 13th (1980).

The plot: One night in 1958, two camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake leave the other counselors and head to the storage barn to have sex. As they are fooling around, they are surprised by an unseen person, who kills the two teenagers. In the present day, on June 13th, teenager Annie Phillips is backpacking through a small town and heads into a diner to ask how far it is to Camp Crystal Lake. The diners are surprised to hear that Camp Crystal Lake, which the townsfolk refer to as Camp Blood, is reopening and a truck driver, Enos, offers to take her to a crossroads that is halfway there. As Annie and Enos head to Enos’ truck, they are confronted by Crazy Ralph, who tells Annie that Camp Blood has a death curse and she will never go back, then rides away on his bicycle as Enos and Annie get in the truck. As they are driving down the road, Enos tells Annie about the history of the camp; the two murders in ’58, a kid drowning in ’57, and some fires in ’62. Enos tells Annie she should quit but she refuses so he drops her off at the crossroads, wishing her luck. Meanwhile, Ned Rubenstein, Marcie Cunningham, and Jack Burrell arrive at Camp Crystal Lake and are greeted by Steve Christy and Alice Hardy. After putting the kids to work getting the camp ready, Steve talks with Alice alone, as they have had a relationship in the past, and convinces her to stay a week before she heads back to California. Steve then heads into town to get some more supplies, leaving Alice, Jack, Marcie, and Ned, along with Bill Brown and Brenda Jones, to continue getting the camp ready to open. Back on the road, Annie manages to get a ride from an unseen person but when the driver passes the road to Crystal Lake and speeds up, Annie jumps out of the car. The driver stops and Annie attempts to escape into the woods but the driver catches up to her and kills her. Back at the camp, the 6 kids continue getting the camp ready when a police officer shows up and warns them about Ralph, who was seen heading their way, then leaves when he is called in to return to the sheriff’s station. After he leaves, Alice is shocked to find Ralph hiding in the pantry and he warns them all that they are doomed if they stay before he rides away on his bike. As the day wears on, Ned sees someone enter a cabin and goes to investigate, but never comes back out. As it starts to get dark and a storm approaches, Jack and Marcie end up taking shelter in the same cabin Ned had gone in, then begin having sex in one of the bunk beds, unaware that Ned’s dead body is in the bunk above them. When they finish, Marcie leaves the cabin to go use the restroom, Jack is killed when someone underneath the bed shoves an arrow through both the mattress and his throat. The killer then heads to the bathroom, using an axe to kill Marcie. Meanwhile, Alice, Bill, and Brenda were playing games in the main cabin when the storm starts to get worse, and Brenda heads out, as she left the windows in her cabin open. After reaching her cabin, Brenda hears someone calling out for help and goes to investigate only to end up being shot with an arrow. Alice heard Brenda’s scream and she and Bill go to investigate, discovering a bloody axe in Brenda’s bed. After looking around and not finding anyone, they decide to head to the office to try and call for help but the phone line has been cut. When they try to leave but discover that the car won’t start, Alice wants to just hike out of the camp but Bill convinces her to wait for Steve to get back. Meanwhile, Steve’s jeep ends up getting stuck on the side of the road and he gets a ride from one of the local deputies, who drops him off at the edge of camp when a call comes in about a traffic accident. Steve hikes up the road towards the camp but is confronted by someone, and as Steve recognizes the person and asks what they are doing there, the person stabs Steve. Back at the camp, the killer shuts down the generator so Bill goes to check it out, leaving Alice sleeping on the couch in the main lodge. Alice wakes up and finding the lights back on, decides to make some coffee but changes her mind and goes looking for Bill since he hasn’t come back to the lodge. She finds Bill pinned to a cabin door by several arrows and runs screaming back to the lodge, barricading herself inside.  When Brenda’s body is thrown through one of the windows, Alice begins crying in terror until she sees a jeep pull up. Thinking it is Steve, Alice quickly rushes outside but pulls up in shock when a woman approaches her. The woman says that her name is Mrs. Voorhees, an old friend of the Christys, and Alice rushes into her arms, sobbing out what has happened. Mrs. Voorhees thinks Alice has just been frightened by the storm and heads inside to see for herself. After seeing the carnage, Mrs. Voorhees tells Alice that Steve should have never tried to open the place. She then tells Alice about the boy who drowned in ’57, saying his name was Jason and that he drowned because the counselors that were supposed to be watching him were busy having sex. She then says that she was Jason’s mother and that today was his birthday, revealing herself to be the killer. Mrs. Voorhees attempts to kill Alice but Alice grabs a fire poker and knocks her down, then tries to leave, discovering Annie’s and Steve’s bodies in the process. Alice tries to arm herself but Mrs. Voorhees catches up to her, all while saying “Kill her, Mommy” in a child like voice. Alice manages to get away and ends up by the lake, where Mrs. Voorhees attacks her with a machete but Alice manages to knock it from her hand. As the two continue to struggle, Alice manages to grab the machete and cut off Mrs. Voorhees’ head, then stumbles in shock towards the nearby canoes and pushes one into the water before climbing in. The next morning, Alice wakes up in the canoe and sees the police on the shore, waving her towards them but before she can paddle to shore, the decomposing body of Jason emerges from the lake and grabs her, dragging her into the water. Alice wakes up screaming to find herself in the hospital and the sheriff tells her that her parents are on their way to get her. When Alice asks about the boy in the lake that pulled her into the water, the sheriff tells her that his men didn’t find any boy there, to which Alice replies, “He’s still there.”

Friday The 13th (1980) met with mixed results from the critics, currently holding a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rather quaint by today’s standards, Friday the 13th still has its share of bloody surprises and a ’70s-holdover aesthetic to slightly compel.” Tom Savini was one of the first crew members brought on board, as the producers loved his special make-up effects in Dawn Of The Dead (1978). The scene with the snake was not in the script, and was an idea from Tom Savini after an experience in his own cabin during filming. The snake in the scene was real, including its on-screen death. The movie was a box office success, earning $59.8 million off of a $550,000 budget, which led to 9 sequels, a crossover with Nightmare On Elm Street, and a reboot in 2009.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call it groundbreaking, this is still a pretty decent horror movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Betsy Palmer doing a great job as Mrs. Voorhees, the grief-crazed mother of everyone’s favorite hockey-masked killer. Adrienne King was also good in her role as Alice, while it was fun seeing another early performance of Kevin Bacon (Jack), even though he didn’t last very long. The story was decent, as the tale of a parent driven mad by grief over a lost child can make for a good movie. Keeping the identity of the killer hidden for so long, and only letting it be revealed in the last 15-20 minutes of the movie was a good idea, especially with the killer being a woman, which was an almost unheard of concept at that point in time. The special effects work regarding the various deaths was top notch, which is to be expected of Savini’s work. The kills themselves were fairly subdued as compared to what will happen in future movies, but they were still effective. A good movie worth the watch if for no other reason than it’s setup for the movies to come.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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September 15th, 2019 Movie – Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)

godzilla king of the monsters 2019

Oh come on. I think everyone knew it was only a matter of time until I reviewed this particular movie. So when Legendary Pictures brought the King of the Monsters back to America in 2014 with Godzilla (2014), the quickly laid out the game plan for their own “Monsterverse” series of movies. Wanting to go bog with their idea, their next step in this endeavor was to introduce America’s own famed giant monster, King Kong, into the mix, with plans for the two titans to face off against each other down the road. However, Legendary needed to build up to that epic battle and what better way to do that than to have Godzilla face off against arguably his most popular foe, King Ghidorah. Now when I first heard that the newest Godzilla movie was going to feature King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan in it, my initial concern was that they were going to do a remake of Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster. Luckily, the trailers showed that they were not going this route so I eagerly awaited for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019) to come out in theaters so that I could see it. Be forewarned, this one is going to be a bit long.

The plot: At a secret Monarch facility in China, Dr. Emma Russell is remembering the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs in San Francisco 5 years ago where she lost her son Andrew, before focusing back on the present, where she is watching the Congressional hearing on Monarch on the TV. Meanwhile, Emma’s daughter MAdison is in the kitchen reading an email from her father and is about to reply, voicing her concerns about her mother, when the smoke alarm goes off as the breakfast she was cooking starts to burn. As Emma comes in the kitchen and the two start talking, Emma tells Madison that she finished the device she was working on when an earthquake occurs, and a strange cries ring out. Emma and Madison quickly head to the Monarch observation center, where they witness Mothra’s larva hatching from her egg. The Monarch scientists activate a containment field around Mothra but it suddenly fails, due to someone attacking the system from the outside, and when a nervous security team aim their weapons at Mothra, Mothra gets aggressive and begins attacking them. Emma races out to try and use her device, the Orca, to calm Mothra down and Madison races after her as Mothra turns her attention to them. Emma man ages to find the correct Alpha frequency to sooth Mothra, who calmly moves towards Madison so that Madison can pet her, when an explosion occurs in the observation booth and Emma and Madison turn and see Alan Jonah and his men kill the scientist in the both, then approach them. At the congressional hearings, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and his assistants, Dr. Vivienne Graham and Sam Coleman, are speaking to the Senators, arguing that the 17 titans that Monarch is observing should be left alone, not killed as many people believe, when they get word of the attack on the China location and quickly leave the room. The three fly out to see Dr. Mark Russell, Emma’s ex husband and a former Monarch employee, and tell him what happened. Mark is upset about the fact that Emma had rebuilt the Orca, as they had worked on the prototype but destroyed it after the San Francisco attack, but agrees to help them try and track the Orca so they can rescue Emma and Madison. The group heads to Castle Bravo, Monarch’s deep water outpost off the coast of Bermuda, and Mark is surprised to learn that the outpost is for observing Godzilla, who was reportedly missing after the events 5 years ago. In a briefing room, the assembled group are told that after the attack in China, Mothra had escaped to a nearby waterfall, where it promptly cocooned itself behind the falls. Colonel Diane Foster, the G-Force leader, wants to recapture it but Mark argues that going after Mothra is merely a decoy, as Jonah will be going after one of the titans that is more powerful. Meanwhile, Jonah and his team arrive at Monarch’s Antarctica base using a stolen Monarch Osprey and upon landing, quickly take out the security team on the surface, then escort Emma and Madison inside. Once inside, they head down to the lower levels, where they come face to face with Monster Zero frozen in the ice, and Jonah orders his men to prepare explosives to release it.. Back at Castle Bravo, Mark, Serizawa, and the rest of the G-Force team are surprised to discover Godzilla is approaching them and Foster orders her men to arm the defenses but Mark convinces Serizawa that they need to stand down. After a tense few moments with Godzilla coming right up to the base, Godzilla suddenly swims off and Mark says they need to follow him, as he might be heading to where the Orca is. Discovering that Godzilla is heading towards Antarctica, the G-Force team explains to Mark about Monster Zero, whom they believe was a rival to Godzilla back in the day. When they arrive at Antarctica, The G-Force teams heads down to lower levels, but find themselves ambushed by Jonah’s men. Seeing Emma and Madison on the images from the G-Force body cameras, Mark heads down to the lab and manages to confront Emma, Madison, and Jonah. Jonah’s son Ash moves to shoot Mark but Foster, hidden above them, shoots Ash, causing him to drop the detonator he was carrying. Mark calls out to Madison and Emma and Madison starts moving towards him but Emma calls Madison back, then picks up the detonator and tells Mark to run, before pressing the button. The explosives crack the ice containing Monster Zero and Emma, Madison, Jonah, and the rest of his men get in an elevator and head to the surface, with Mark in pursuit but he is forced to go back to rescue Foster and the rest of G-Force. When they reach the surface, they quickly head to the Osprey and Jonah orders Emma to wake up Monster Zero. Mark and the G-Force team reach the surface as the base collapses into the ice, and Mark sees Emma activate the Orca from the hovering Osprey, then turns and stares into the pit that formerly housed the research station, just as Monster Zero emerges from the hole. Mark and the G-Force team rush to their Osprey, with some of the team stopping to fire at the monster, but Monster Zero blasts the soldiers with it’s gravity beams, incinerating the soldiers and disabling the G-Force Osprey. Seeing her dad in trouble, Madison grabs the Orca and switches the frequency, causing Monster Zero’s attention to turn away from the disabled Osprey and focus on them but Emma and Jonah are able to get the Orca away from her and Emma quickly shuts the device down, allowing them to escape. Monster Zero turns it’s attention back to the disabled Osprey when Godzilla suddenly arrives and the two titans began fighting on the ice. Mark and the G-Force team quickly leave the Osprey but Vivienne is killed by Monster Zero before it quickly leaves, with Godzilla chasing after it. Back on the Argo, Monarch’s flying base, Mark and Foster explain to the others that Emma willingly pulled the trigger to release Monster Zero, though Sam and some of the others question why she would do that. The Argo heads for Isla de Mara, where Godzilla appears to be heading when Emma suddenly calls them. Emma explains that she is releasing the titans so that they can bring balance to the world that humanity has damaged and appears unswayed by Mark or Serizawa’s arguments against what she is doing. When she ends the call, Dr. Stanton tells the group that the Orca isn’t on Isla de Mara, but is being bounced around via satellite, meaning Emma, Madison, and Jonah could be in one of Monarch’s secret bunkers anywhere on Earth. Suddenly, they get an alert that someone is shutting down the containment field holding Rodan, the titan held on Isla de Mara. In the secret bunker, Madison tries to talk Emma out of going through with their plan but Jonah convinces Emma to keep going and Emma activates the Orca to wake up Rodan. On the Argo, Sam tells the group that the tropical storm where they lost Monster Zero has changed course and is heading for the island and they realize that Monster Zero has somehow created the storm. Deciding to lure Rodan towards Monster Zero so the evacuation of Isla de Mara can finish, the Argo has it’s fighter escort attack Rodan, causing the monster to chase after them. The Argo leads Rodan towards Monster Zero, losing it’s escort in the process, but the 2 monsters begin battling in the sky as the Argo quickly moves away. As the Argo heads back to collect an Osprey carrying evacuees, they receive a call from Admiral Stenz, informing them that a prototype weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer has been launched in an attempt to kill the titans. Monster Zero defeats Rodan and heads towards the Argo when it is attacked by Godzilla, who rips off one of Monster Zero’s heads just as the Oxygen Destroyer reaches the area and detonates. The blast seemingly kills Godzilla but Monster Zero survives the blast and heads towards the volcano, where it uses the radiation from the volcano to heal and regenerate it’s missing head. Monster Zero then begins calling out, causing all of the titans around the world to awaken and begin heading towards it, as Rodan approaches and bows before it. As the G-Force team heads back to Castle Bravo, Dr. Chen is able to find ancient stories concerning Monster Zero, whom the legends called Ghidorah, and they realize that Ghidorah is an invasive species from another planet, which is how it survived the Oxygen Destroyer. Reaching Castle Bravo, they discover the U.S. Navy has the station surrounded and Stenz boards the station and explains that the titans are attacking cities all over the world. Mark tells him that the titans are moving like a pack, responding to Ghidorah’s calls, and that if they kill Ghidorah, the titans will stop but Godzilla was their best chance at stopping Ghidorah. Back in the bunker, Madison is upset with her mother at how things are turning out and as Emma and Jonah argue over the situation, Madison overhears them via the bunker’s intercom system, and makes her own plans. Back at Castle Bravo, Mark prepares to head off to find Madison when Mothra, having hatched from her cocoon, suddenly appears overhead and begins calling out, and when they hear a response, they discover that Godzilla is still alive. Realizing that Godzilla must be weak from the effects of the Oxygen Destroyer, Mark comes up with a plan to help him, by detonating a nuke close to Godzilla so he can absorb the radiation. Mark, Serizawa, Shen, and Stanton board a sub and head down into the ocean, where they encounter an underwater current that leads them through a tunnel deep under the earth, supporting the “Hollow Earth” Theory of Dr. Brooks. Back in the secret bunker, Madison steals the Orca and leaves the bunker, which is in Boston, then makes her way to Fenway Park, where an evacuation is occurring. Back under the ocean, Serizawa orders some drones to be launched and they discover the remains of an ancient civilization that worshiped Godzilla. Locating an area with high radiation, Stanton sends the drones in, losing 2 of them but the third one manages to make it through and locate Godzilla. Serizawa says they must continue with their plan, as the radiation in the chamber could take years to fully heal Godzilla, but when they learn that the sub’s firing systems were damaged, Serizawa decides to take the warhead himself and detonate it manually. Back at Fenway, Madison manages to slip past the soldiers and head towards the sound booth for the stadium. Once the evacuation is complete, she hooks the Orca up to the sound system and activates it, causing the Titans worldwide to stop their attack but also causing Ghidorah, who was attacking Washington D.C., to head towards the city. Back on the sub, Serizawa says his goodbyes, handing Mark his notes, then tells them to leave as he pilots a mini sub into the chamber. Serizawa surfaces and heads up the stairs towards Godzilla, activating the nuke, then approaches Godzilla and says goodbye, just as the nuke explodes. The concussion causes the sub to rapidly reach the surface, where they send a distress message to the Argo, and as Mark, Chen, and Stanton climb out on the deck of the sub, they witness a revived Godzilla surface, roaring and sending a blast of his heat ray up to the sky, then he turns and faces the sub briefly before swimming off. Mark says he realizes what Emma used to create the Orca signal as the Argo appears, and Sam tells them that the Orca is in Boston. In Boston, Emma grabs a Humvee and heads off to get Madison back while Jonah and his men make their own plans to leave the city. Ghidorah appears in Fenway, destroying the speakers broadcasting the signal and Madison shuts down the Orca but not before Ghidorah spots her and attacks the booth. Madison escapes from the booth, tossing the Orca aside, and Ghidorah smashes it, then prepares to kill Madison when it is suddenly blasted by Godzilla’s heat ray, as Godzilla, the Argo, and the U.S. military arrive in the city to battle Ghidorah. Mark goes with a G-Force team to locate Madison but are told that the radiation supercharged Godzilla’s body, meaning he will explode in 12 minutes. Mark and the team locate the Orca but their Osprey is destroyed by Ghidorah. Suddenly, Emma shows up and Mark, Barnes, Martinez, and Griffin get into her Humvee as she drives them out of the park. Emma and Mark argue about where Madison can be, a comment from Barnes makes them realize she had probably gone to their old home in Boston. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Ghidorah continue to fight when Mothra arrives, temporarily restraining Ghidorah so that Godzilla can press the attack, but Rodan appears and begins fighting with Mothra. Emma pulls up to their old house, which has been destroyed, and she searches with Mark, Barnes, and Martinez, eventually locating Madison, who was in a bathtub buried under some rubble but still alive. Mothra manages to wound and incapacitate Rodan but is wounded herself while Ghidorah grabs Godzilla and flies him up into the sky before dropping him, sending him crashing down. As Ghidorah approaches the downed Godzilla, Mothra crawls onto Godzilla, then goes to attack Ghidorah but Ghidorah kills her with his gravity beams. Mothra’s radiation is absorbed into Godzilla’s body but before he can move, Ghidorah renews it’s attack on him. Mark and Emma work to repair the ORca so they can lure Ghidorah away from Godzilla long enough for him to get back on his feet but as another Osprey arrives to take them away, Emma chooses to sacrifice herself to ensure that Madison and Mark get away safely. Emma drives off in the Humvee, with Ghidorah chasing after her until it finally blasts the Humvee. Ghidorah approaches Emma, who taunts Ghidorah, but as Ghidorah prepares to kill her, Godzilla suddenly reappears. Godzilla’s body has finally stabalized but left him supercharged to the point that his body heat is melting nearby buildings around him and Godzilla begins releasing nuclear pulses, which burn away Ghidorah’s wings and outer heads before Godzilla finally kills Ghidorah. As Mark, Madison, and the others watch from the Osprey, Rodan and the other titans arrive in the city and surround Godzilla, who has returned to normal, and after a brief moment, begin bowing to him, acknowledging him as the king of the monsters. In the aftermath of the event, Monarch releases decades worth of it’s files to the public, while all of the titans appear to be restoring the natural order to the planet (restoring forests, ice shelves, and coral reefs among other things). A new egg has been discovered, which many think is a new Mothra egg, while several titans are said to be traveling towards Skull Island. Also, several reports surface about the “Hollow Earth”, and a Monarch team traveled to Skull Island to explore the tunnels, where they discovered paintings showing what appears to be Godzilla and Kong battling in ancient times. Meanwhile, Jonah arrives in Isla de Mara, where some fishermen, whose livelihood has been decimated by the Oxygen Destroyer, sell him the severed head of Ghidorah that had fallen into the sea during Ghidorah and Godzilla’s battle there.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019) met with mixed to poor results from the critics, currently holding a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers spectacular kaiju action — and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story.” The nicknames for Ghidorah’s 3 heads during production where “Ichi”, “Ni”, and “San”, the Japanese words for 1, 2, and 3 respectively. However, the easily distractable nature of the left head (San) earned it the nickname “Kevin”, spawning hundreds of memes focusing on the third head. While the movie was a box office disappointment, earning $385.9 million off of a $170-200 million budget, a third movie, Godzilla Vs. Kong, is still scheduled for a March 13th, 2020 release.

Ok, before I get into my feelings on this movie, I would like to take a minute and point out some of the nice little Easter eggs that referenced the past Toho Godzilla movies. First off, I liked the idea that Chen not only had a twin sister (Dr. Ling), but that they were 3rd generation Monarch scientists (with their family having a history of twins). The fact that they all worked in the area where Mothra was found, including a picture of Chen’s mother(grandmother) on Infant Island was a nice tribute to the Shobijin, the twin fairies that are always associated with Mothra. The fact that Ghidorah was listed as Monster Zero by Monarch was a nice reference to Invasion Of Astro Monster, as this is what the alien Xiliens called Ghidorah in that movie. Another nod to the classic films was the Oxygen Destroyer, which was the name of the device that Dr. Serizawa created in the original Gojira that was used to kill Godzilla. While the modern day version seemed to function in a similar fashion to the original, the main difference is that it was made into a missile instead of a stand alone device. Finally, during the scenes in the ancient, underwater temple, a large skeleton can be seen outside the temple before the explosion. The shape of the skull bears a striking resemblance to Anguirus, Godzilla’s first foe and later turned ally during the Showa era films, leading people to speculate that Anguirus might make an appearance in a later Monsterverse movie.

Now that I got the nods to the classic films out of the way, let’s get on with my thoughts of the movie. I saw this movie several times in theaters; once on opening day, once with some friends, and a third time to get an honest feel for the movie after my initial excitement was quelled. My honest opinion is that this is an entertaining movie, but it did have several faults that kept it from being a great Godzilla movie. The acting was ok, with some people doing good jobs while others were honestly pretty terrible. Ken Watanabe, reprising his role as Serizawa, was probably the best actor in the movie, while Bradley Whitford and Ziyi Zhang were equally good as Stanton and Chen/Ling respectively. Kyle Chandler was decent in his role as Mark while surprisingly Millie Bobby Brown, who was probably the biggest draw actress in the movie, was only so-so in her role, as her emotions throughout the movie felt too faked during portions of the movie. Meanwhile, Vera Farmiga (Emma) was just terrible, as her emotions felt even more fake than Millie Bobby Browns, when she wasn’t acting like a complete robot, while Charles Dance seemed to have the generic bad guy down pretty good, with no real desire to even try and bring more out of the role so he ended up being a rather boring character. I don’t think the basic premise was as bad as people say, but it could have been much better. I thought the idea of the Orca, and what it’s alpha signal really was, was a good idea, even though the whole premise of a device to control monsters has been done to death, even in the classic Godzilla movies. I do agree with the critics about the pacing of the movie, as every time they started building up a story arc, they would cut away to a different arc, killing any momentum that was being built up. One thing I did like was Serizawa’s sacrifice to heal Godzilla, as it seemed like a bit of karma since Serizawa had sacrificed himself to kill Godzilla in the original movie. The best thing about this movie was the special effects, as they were top notch. I liked all of the monster designs, especially Rodan, while the idea of making Ghidorah’s heads/necks act more serpentine gave him a more sinister feel, with the tail rattle adding an even more evil aspect to him. Rodan’s emerging from the volcano, as well as Ghidorah’s appearing in the storm clouds were both great bits of CGI, but the best was the scenes in the underwater temple, as those were particularly beautiful and breathtaking. Still, the critics are right and great special effects can’t cover for a weak story so here’s hoping that they do a better job in Godzilla Vs. Kong.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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action, adventure, animation, comic book, movie, movie review, sci-fi

September 8th, 2019 Movie – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

spider-man spiderverse

My apologies for the lack of a post last week. I was at Dragoncon over the holiday weekend and while I normally try to have a review pre-written so I can post it, I did not manage to get it done in time this year. Anyways, in the spirit of Dragoncon, I decided to review the award winning movie featuring everyone’s favorite web-swinging, quip slinging superhero, Spider-Man. Now I am pretty sure that just about everyone knows who Peter Parker is, but not that many people outside of those that regularly read comic books knows about Miles Morales. I will admit, I did not know who he was at first, as I had stopped being a regular comic reader for several years, but several of my friends are still regular readers and have frequently commented on how much the enjoy reading his stories. So when I heard that there was going to be a new Spider-Man movie that featured Miles, well I was intrigued enough to go give it a shot. So let’s see how good of a Spider-Man Miles Morales is in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

The plot: Teenager Miles Morales has managed to get into an upper class boarding school and though his parents are proud of him, Miles would rather go back to his old school and tries to find ways to get kicked out. After dealing with the stress of his classes, Miles sneaks out and goes to see his uncle Aaron, who takes Miles to an abandoned subway station so Miles can paint his latest design on the wall. As Miles is finishing up and taking a picture of his graffiti, a strange spider bites him on the hand. The next day, Miles runs into a new girl (Gwen Stacy) at his school that he likes but as he they both nervously talk to each other, Miles hand accidentally becomes stuck to her hair. After he is cut free, Miles runs from a security officer and finds himself sticking to he outside of the building when he accidentally falls out the window. Miles manages to make it back to his room, but not before being noticed by Gwen, and as he tires to figure out what is happening to him, a Spider-Man comic falls onto his face and he sees the same thing happening in the comic to Peter Parker that has been happening to him. Miles heads back to the abandoned subway station, trying and failing to call his uncle as he does, and when he gets there, he finds the spider and notices something strange happening to it’s body. Suddenly, Miles gets a strange feeling (Spider-sense) and quickly ducks as some debris comes flying towards him and he sees Spider-Man fighting with the Green Goblin. As Spider-Man and Goblin continue their fight, Miles tries to get away and finds himself inside a massive super collider. Spider-Man rescues Miles when he falls and when both their Spider-senses react to their proximity to each other, Spider-Man realizes that Miles is like him and offers to help him deal with what he is going through once he destroys the collider. As Spider-Man tries to shut down the collider with a USB drive, he is attacked by both the Goblin and the Prowler. While Spider-Man is distracted, Kingpin shows up in the collider’s control booth and activates it, but while it is active, Goblin forces Spider-Man into the beam, causing an explosion. Miles heads to the wounded Spider-Man, who gives Miles the USB drive and tells him that the collider could destroy the city if it is activated again. After telling Miles to hide his face so nobody knows he is, he tells Miles to run, just as the Kingpin approaches him. Spider-Man tells Kingpin he knows what he is trying to do with the collider and it won’t work, and an enraged Kingpin kills him, then sends Prowler to kill Miles when he sees that Miles has seen them. Miles manages to get away and heads back to his home, but when the news breaks about Spider-Man’s death and who he was, Miles sneaks back out to find the whole city has stopped at the news of Spider-Man’s death. Buying a Spider-Man costume and attending the memorial service, where Mary Jane Parker speaks about her husband, Miles decides to try and practice with his powers but ends up damaging the USB drive. Going to Peter Parker’s grave, Miles is surprised by a stranger and displays a new ability, which shocks the man unconscious. As the man falls, he reflexively sends out a web strand that strikes Miles and Miles discovers that the man is another version of Peter Parker from a different dimension. This version, Peter B. Parker, is older than the Spider-Man from Miles city and as the police show up, Miles manages to get away with Peter. Miles takes the unconscious Peter to his uncle’s place and when Peter regains consciousness, Miles talks to him, learning that he is from another dimension. Peter gets away from Miles and starts to leave when his body starts “glitching” and Peter says his body is reacting to being in the wrong dimension. Miles tells Peter about the collider and Peter wants to use it to go home but when he learns the USB is broken, he says he has to go to Alchemax to steal the data again and reluctantly agrees to train Miles in the process. Miles and Peter head to Alchemax and Peter heads inside, telling Miles to stay back and keep watch but when Kingpin shows up, Miles heads inside to warn Peter. They manage to locate the head scientist’s lab, where Miles displays another new ability to turn invisible, but as Miles works on downloading the collider’s schematics, Peter learns that the head scientist is a female Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock says that she knows Peter is from another dimension and that if he stays in this dimension too long, his body will disintegrate, and that she wants to watch it happen. Peter manages to get away and he and Miles grab the computer hard drive and attempt to escape but when Doc Ock chases after them, they are saved by Spider-Woman, who is revealed to be Gwen Stacy. Like Peter, Gwen is from another dimension, where she was bitten by the spider and Peter Parker died, only when the explosion occurred she was blown into last week, and she was drawn to the boarding school because of Miles. The three head to Aunt May’s house, where after she greets them, she takes them to Spider-Man’s secret lair, where three other dimensional Spider-People (Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and her Spider robot, and Spider-Ham) have also shown up. The Spider-People know that they have to use the collider to get home but one of them must stay behind to shut the collider down. Miles says that he should be the one to shut it down, as they would all die if they stay, but when they test Miles abilities, the other Spider-People feel that Miles lacks the necessary training. A dejected Miles leaves the lair and heads to his uncle’s place, where he writes a note for Aaron only to discover that his uncle is actually the Prowler. Miles leaves his uncles place, but the Prowler sees him and gives chase, allowing Miles to lead him back to the others. At Aunt May’s house, Peni finishes making a new USB drive when Miles shows up, followed by Prowler, Doc Ock, Tombstone, and Scorpion. As the Spider-Gang begin fighting the villains, Miles tries to leave with the USB drive only to be captured by Prowler. Kingpin orders Prowler to kill Miles but when Miles reveals his identity, Aaron can’t kill his nephew so the Kingpin shoots him. Miles takes his wounded uncle away from there, but Aaron apologizes for letting Miles down before he dies, and Miles father Jefferson, a police officer, sees Miles mourning over Aaron’s body and believes Spider-Man killed his brother. Miles heads back to his room at the boarding school, where the other Spiders meet up with him and try to console him. Gwen and the others say goodbye as Peter explains to Miles that he is staying behind, telling Miles that he isn’t ready to help them so he won’t be going with them. Peter then webs up Miles and leaves and as Miles gets free, Jefferson shows up at the dorm. Thinking Miles doesn’t want to talk to him, Jefferson speaks to him through the door to tell him about Aaron’s death as well as how he feels about Miles. Taking his dad’s words to heart, Miles is able to master his powers and heads back to Aunt May’s house, to find her expecting him and giving him a new costume and web shooters tailored for him. Miles heads out to regroup with the others, who have reached Fisk Towers only to find Kingpin is holding a celebration for Spider-Man and they are able to sneak inside and head to the collider. They reach the collider just as Kingpin’s men activate it, with the city beginning to suffer the effects of multiple dimensions merging together. Peter goes to put the “goober” into the override but Doc Ock and the others are there waiting for them. Miles shows up to help and they manage to defeat Kingpin’s goons, but Peni loses the Spider robot in the process. Miles takes control of the collider and begins sending everyone back to their own dimensions and when Kingpin shows up, Peter goes to help Miles defeat him but Miles forces Peter to go back home. Miles and Kingpin face off, with Kingpin getting the upper hand and nearly killing Miles. Jefferson shows up and, seeing the fight, realizes that Spider-Man is actually a hero and begins cheering him on, encouraging Miles to get up. Miles uses his venom shock on Kingpin and then throws him into the deactivation button, shutting down the collider and saving the city. As Jefferson begins arresting the Kingpin’s goons, Miles calls him and they talk briefly before Miles, as Spider-Man, shows up in front of him and briefly speaks with Jefferson before pointing out the Kingpin suspended from a web above him. As Miles adjusts to his new life as the city’s new Spider-Man, Peni is shown to be building a new robot, Spider-Man Noir solves a Rubik’s Cube, Spider-Ham is shown eating a hot dog, while Peter heads to Mary Jane’s house to try and fix their relationship. Gwen is shown looking at a picture she took of her and Miles together and later, is shown calling out through a portal to Miles. In a post credit scene, Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, is informed about what happened and makes his own dimensional jump, landing in 1967 New York, where he gets in an argument with that era’s Spider-Man over which one of them pointed at the other one first.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was a massive hit with the critics, currently holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.” Stan Lee had recorded a cameo for this movie, making it his final voice-acting role before his death, with producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanting Lee to have a bigger moment compared to previous Marvel films because he was “so integral to the spirit of this movie,” and considered his role “extra meaningful” following his death. The movie was a box office hit, earning $375.5 million off of a $90 million budget, and won the Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critics’ Choice Awards.

I’m not going to lie. This might be one of the best Spider-Man movies to come out on the big screen. The voice acting was fantastic, with Shameik Moore doing a great job as Miles. Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker), Hailee Steinfeld (Gwen), Mahershala Ali (Aaron), and Brian Tyree Henry (Jefferson) were also equally good, while Lily Tomlin (Aunt May), John Mulaney (Spider-Ham), and Nicolas Cage (Spider-Man Noir) were just plain funny and entertaining. The story was a little darker than I expected for a movie geared towards kids, but still very well written. It was a good way to showcase the pressures that a teenager would face when given super powers and having a desire to use them for good, as well as giving him a support group of people who had been through the exact same thing that he was currently going through. I loved some of the nods and Easter eggs referencing Marvel that were scattered throughout the movie, with my 2 favorites being: 1) The name B Bendis listed in Miles phones, which is a reference to Brian Michael Bendis (who co-created the character of Miles Morales), and 2) The post credit scene where Spider-Man 2099 shows up and confronts a past Spider-Man (with Stan Lee voicing J. Jonah Jameson in that scene). The animation was fantastic in this movie, and I loved how they would slightly alter it regarding Peni, Noir, and Spider-Ham (making Peni look more anime style, Spider-Man Noir being in black and white, while Spider-Ham was made overly cartoony). The soundtrack to the movie fit in well with the scenes taking place and helped emphasize the moods of the scenes, ranging from a normal feel to more dramatic throughout the movie. All told, this is a great movie that deserved the praise it got and is well worth watching when you get the chance (it’s currently on Netflix so do yourself a favor and watch it now.)

Rating: 5 out of 5

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