action, adventure, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi

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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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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August 25th, 2019 Movie – The Meg

the meg

Many years ago, while perusing the aisle of Barnes & Noble, I came across a book called “The Trench” which piqued my interest. See, this book was being advertised as one of the greatest shark stories since “Jaws”, and the fact that it focused on the megalodon, made me immediately pick this book up and start reading it, then picked up “Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror”, as I learned that “The Trench” was a sequel. A few years later, I heard rumors that Hollywood was looking to make a movie based on “Meg”, but it ended up getting stuck in developmental hell so my hopes of seeing a movie version were soon dashed. I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on with this movie until a few years ago, when I heard that Jason Statham had been cast in the lead role and that filming had begun. This was like a giant Christmas present to me so I eagerly awaited for the movie to land in theaters so I could finally watch The Meg. Recently, I decided to check out all of The Meg books from my local library and figured that I should continue in that vein with my movie choice today so let’s have some fun with The Meg.

The -plot: Deep in the Philippine Trench, Jonas Taylor and his crew are attempting a deep sea rescue of a damaged nuclear sub. As Jonas finds a wounded man and begins bringing him back to the sub, something begins slamming into the hull of the damaged sub, causing it to begin to collapse. Jonas tells his crew to get back to their sub but as he brings the wounded sailor on board, his crew, Marks and D’Angelo, tell Jonas that they are trapped. Realizing that if the sub implodes, it will kill him and the rescued sailors as well, Jonas makes the difficult decision to leave his crew so he can save everyone else, though medical officer Heller says Jonas was a coward and left the men to die. 5 years later, billionaire Jack Morris heads out to the underwater research facility Mana One, which he financed, where he is greeted by Dr. Minway Zhang, Zhang’s daughter Suyin, and Suyin’s daughter Meiying. After descending to the command deck of the lab, Zhang explains his theory that what scientist initially believed to be the bottom of the Mariana Trench was actually a dense thermocline of hydrogen sulfide, concealing an environment completely cut off from the rest of the world, where new species of aquatic life can be found thriving. Morris, Zhang, Suyin, and the rest of the command crew (James “Mac” Mackriedes, Jaxx, DJ, and Heller) watch on the monitors as the sub crewed by Lori Taylor, Toshi, and The Wall, descends through the thermocline and begins exploring the area. Suddenly, the sub picks up a large object on it’s sonar, which attacks the Rover the released for exploration and as the object begins attacking them, Lori shouts into the radio that Jonas was right before the Mana One loses radio contact with the sub. As the command crew discuss their options to rescue the sub, Mac says their best bet is to get Jonas, as he is the only man to successfully complete a rescue at that depth. Heller and Suyin argue against Mac involving Jonas, as Heller says that Jonas had imagined something attacking the sub during the rescue, but Zhang overrules them, saying he owes it to the sub’s crew to give them the best chance possible. Mac and Zhang head to Thailand, where Jonas is now living, and after playing him the tape of the sub’s last communication and telling Jonas that his ex-wife Lori was the one piloting the sub. Back in the sub, The Wall manages to restore power back to the sub so they don’t freeze to death but Lori realizes the lights will attract whatever attacked them and goes to turn them off but is too late as the sub is struck again, with Lori being impaled by a screwdriver before they can get the lights turned off. Back on Mana One, Heller is showing Suyin the footage of his session with Jonas, telling her that Jonas had imagined the creature as a result of a bout of psychosis of the deep when DJ tells them about the sub being attacked and leaking air, prompting Suyin to get into one of the deep sea gliders to try and rescue them. Jonas, Max, and Zhang arrive shortly after Suyin’s launch and after a brief medical exam by Heller, much to Jonas’ annoyance, Jonas heads to the sub and follows Suyin down to the bottom of the trench. Suyin breaks through the thermocline and as she locates the sub and prepares to rig it for towing, she is attacked by a giant squid. As the squid begins to crush the glider, it’s grip suddenly goes slack and Suyin sees that it has been killed by a massive megalodon. Jonas breaks through the thermocline and as the megalodon begins heading towards the glider, he is able to lure it away by firing some flares from his sub. Jonas tells Suyin to head back to the surface, then he heads to the damaged sub and manages to rescue Lori and The Wall but when the megalodon begins heading back for them, Toshi closes the hatch and turns on the damaged sub’s lights, sacrificing himself so the others can escape. When they reach the surface, Heller works on saving Lori’s life and Suyin blames Jonas for Toshi’s death but later apologizes for her commnets. Later, a meeting is held to discuss the megalodon and while Zhang wishes to take things slow in studying it, Morris want to rush things, as he feels it is a potential gold mine in the making. As arguments break out on how to proceed, Meiying is playing in another portion of the base when she spots the megalodon staring at her, right before it attempts to bite the window. Mac and Jonas both feel the collision and they head out to see what happened, accompanied by Suyin. They find Meiying, who tells them there is a monster outside, just as they see the megalodon kill a baby humpback whale that the research station was studying. Everyone heads back to the command center, where Jaxx tells them her theory about how the megalodon managed to reach the surface. Suddenly, the Mana One receives a distress signal from 3 boats and when they head out to investigate, they find the megalodon has destroyed the three boats and eaten the crews. They see the megalodon swimming nearby and Jonas heads out and manages to shoot a tracking dart into the megalodon, then is pulled back onto the boat before the megalodon can eat him. The crew then prepares a shark cage so that Suyin can shoot some poison-filled darts into the megalodon’s mouth. Suyin manages to shoot the megalodon but it attacks the cage, causing the ship’s crane to fall onto the deck. Jonas dives into the water to rescue Suyin, while The Wall rigs the ship’s second crane to form a trap for the megalodon and the manage to capture it as it goes after Jonas and Suyin, with it’s struggles against the cable causing it to drown. After reviving the nearly dead Suyin, the crew are congratulating themselves on killing the megalodon when a second, even larger megalodon, leaps out of the water, swallowing The Wall as it attacks the dead megalodon. The ship is flipped over and as everyone tries to make it back onto the sinking ship, Jonas helps the severely wonded Zhang while Heller sacrifices himself to ensure that Jaxx makes it back onto the ship. Mac manages to grab the life boats and they head back to Mana One, only for the megalodon to follow them but Morris’ security team manages to tag it before driving it away. Zhang dies before they reach the station and Morris tells the assembled crew that he has alerted the authorities and is closing down the station until the megalodon is killed. However, Morris did not contact the authorities and instead, made plans to kill it himself. Morris and his men head out and his helicopter drops some depth charges but instead of killing the shark, they kill a whale. As Morris tells his men they need to leave, he is accidentally knocked overboard and ends up being killed by the megalodon as it feeds on the whale. The next day, Mac learns what Morris had done and Jonas makes plans to commandeer the evac ship so they can go after and kill the megalodon. The megalodon heads to Sanya Bay, where panic erupts when people notice the giant shark swimming around. As the shark begins attacking the people, Jaxx and DJ lower a buoy playing recorded whale songs, luring the megalodon away from the bay and towards where they plan on attacking it. When the megalodon arrives, it destroys the buoy and chases after Jonas, who damages his own glider and lures it towards Suyin so she can fire a torpedo at it but the torpedo explodes too soon. Suyin then lures the megalodon towards Jonas but his torpedo doesn’t fire and he is forced to avoid the megalodon , causing it to strike the evac ship in the process. On the surface, some news choppers are hovering over the ship to report on the megalodon when two of them collide in mid air, with the wreckage falling onto the ship. Mac, Lori, Jaxx, DJ, and Meiying are forced to jump into the water to avoid the debris and Suyin heads back to the surface to help them. Jonas then pilots his sub and uses the damaged side of his glider to slash into the megalodon’s stomach but it hits him with it’s tail, causing his glider to lose power and allowing the megalodon to grab it in it’s mouth. As the megalodon crushes down on the glider, Jonas is able to escape and plunges a spear gun into the megalodon’s eye, finally killing it. As Jonas watches the megalodon begin to sink, a massive swarm of sharks appear and begin to feed on the carcass. A hammerhead approaches Jonas but Suyin arrives and rescues him, then takes him to the ferry that rescued the others. As the crew recover from the ordeal and toast their lost friends, Jonas sits with Suyin and Meiying and discusses taking a vacation.

The Meg met with mixed reviews from the critics, currently holding a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills — or the cheesy bite — to make it worth diving in.” In the books, the megalodons were albinos, with a luminescent glow due to adapting to the absence of light in the deep water trench, but that proved to be too difficult to render in CGI so they chose to make the sharks look more like the typical great white shark. Disney had bought the film rights for the book in 1997 but got cold feet about competing against Deep Blue Sea so they went into turnaround (offered it to another studio so they could recoup their costs). Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a commercial success, earning $530.3 million off of a $178 million budget, and a sequel is in developement, with a script currently being in the works.

Let me go ahead and say, it has taken me a long time to stop comparing a movie to the book it is based on. Ok, that is a lie because I still do it, but I am at least usually able to enjoy a movie even if it doesn’t match up perfectly to the book. That is why, even though there were several differences between the original book and the movie, I was able to enjoy The Meg. The acting was pretty good in this movie, with Jason Statham (Jonas) doing a great job in the lead role, as was Bingbing Li (Suyin) and Shuya Sophia Cal (Meiying), with the interaction between them being really good. I also liked Rain Willson (Morris), Cliff Curtis (Mac), and Ruby Rose (Jaxx), as they turned in some pretty good performances as well. While the story did differ from the book, the plot was still pretty decent and they did rework some scenes from the book to fit with the plot of the movie. I do think they could of done a little more in explaining how the megalodons survived in the trench, instead of the brief, glossed over theory that was shown during that one briefing scene. One thing I did like was all the various allusions to “Jaws” that occurred throughout the film, since Benchley’s novel was something of an inspiration for Steve Alten’s novel. The special effects in the movie were pretty good, and I do have to give props to the CGI team on the megalodons, as they really did look more terrifying than your average shark. I also liked the visual effects during the underwater scenes, especially the scenes in the trench, as they showcased some real underwater beauty in those brief scenes before the megalodon attacked. It’s no Jaws, but this was an entertaining movie and worth giving a shot.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 18th, 2019 Movie – Rajin’ Cajun Redneck Gators (a.k.a. Alligator Alley)

rajin' cajun redneck gators

Today brings us the last entry in the Shark Bait box set and the other movie I was most excited to be getting in this set. Now I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I had completely missed this movie when it first debuted on Syfy. In fact, it would be 2-3 years later when I happened to see this movie on the schedule and immediately set my DVR to record it, as the name alone had my curiosity piqued. I mean, come on. How can you not be interested in seeing a movie with a title like that. Well my first thought when watching it was, “Hey, that’s Zoe from Eureka.”, which made me pretty happy to know that Syfy was trying to get actors from their original series to play roles in their original movies. Then I started laughing my ass off as I continued watching the movie. So it’s time to sit back and laugh again as I watch today’s movie, Rajin’ Cajun Redneck Gators.

The plot: Deep in the south Louisiana bayou, Dathan Robichaud has pulled up to the swamp and is dumping out a batch of bad moonshine, briefly talking to two Doucette’s that are fishing nearby. As Dathan drives off, he is unaware that the two fishermen are being attacked by an unseen creature. Meanwhile, Avery Doucette is returning home after spending the last 4 years in college and after greeting her dad, Lucien, she heads out with him and her cousin Bud, who is constantly hitting on her, as they go hunting some gators. The three end up anchoring off of the Robichaud property, they are confronted by Wade, Dathan, and Dale Robichaud. As Lucien and Wade begin arguing, Dathan and Avery subtly wave at each other when Wade suddenly shoots at the Doucette’s boat, hitting a large alligator that was underwater. As Lucien and Bud work to bring the gator on board, it comes back to life, biting Lucien’s hand before he is finally able to kill it. As the Doucettes head back to the dock to unload the gator, Avery comments about the gator’s unusual coloring and spikes on it’s tail but Lucien dismisses her concerns and heads inside the local watering hole so Avery can say hello to the rest of the Doucettes. Suddenly, the surviving fisherman bursts into the bar screaming about the gator attack and when the sheriff arrives, he tells his deputy, who is a Doucette, to go check out the area where the attack happened. As the Doucette’s family cookout commences, Avery manages to get rid of Bud and heads down to the water for a swim, where she is secretly joined by Dathan. As the two kiss, the fisherman yells at them from the bank, just as another alligator skewers him with it’s tail spikes before eating him. Avery heads back to the cookout and tells her dad what happened but her family mocks her and don’t believe what she is saying so she calls Dathan and asks him to meet her. As Dathan gets his gear together, he stops by to talk to his dad, who says his latest batch of moonshine is bad as well, and they discuss his pouring out the bad shine into the swamp, as well as why the Doucettes and Robichauds hate each other. Meanwhile, Deputy Doucette comes across a swamper who has caught a gator but the man is soon killed and as Doucette starts to radio in on what is happening, she is decapitated by another gator. The next day, Sheriff Landry is trying to get the Doucettes to calm down but Lucien and Bud are adamant that Wade, Dale, and Dathan are the ones that killed their family and go out to find them. Meanwhile, Avery and Dathan had been out all night trying to find the gators and their nest. They manage to find a likely area but when their boat stalls out, a gator starts swimming towards them and begins attacking the boat. On the shore, Lucien, Bud, and some other Doucettes are confronting Wade and Dale on the water’s edge when they hear Avery call out for help, so they quickly yell out to the gator to try and distract it. The group manage to kill the gator but when some more gators begin showing up, they quickly head for Avery and Dathan’s boat, with Landry showing up to help them escape. That night, as Avery and Lucien argue aver her being with Dathan, Lucien’s wife Candy goes out looking for her dog when a gator appears nearby. Her screams alert Avery, Lucien, and Bud, who throws the dog at the gator as a distraction so they can run back to the house. As Avery tries to console Candy, Lucien heads to the bathroom, where he notices his hand where the gator bit him is beginning to gain a scaly appearance. The next day, Landry has brought in Tristan St. Claire, a TV personality with his own show about hunting Gators, to help kill the gators. As they prepare to head out, the Doucettes are surprised to see Dathan has become Landry’s new deputy and Lucien is skeptical about the situation but chooses to stay quiet. The group heads out to the nest but as Tristan tries examining some baby gators, Bud gets impatient and starts shooting some eggs, causing the rest of the group to start shooting. When some adult gators show up, Tristan’s film crew are killed as the assembled Doucettes and Robichauds continue killing the redneck gators. Later that afternoon, the Doucettes and Robichauds are celebrating together at the bar but when Landry gives Wade and Lucien the reward money, their tempers start flaring, especially when Dathan says that Avery is going to marry him. Avery goes storming out of the bar, with Dathan chasing after her, and Lucien gets a gun from Candy and orders all of the Robichauds out of the bar but as they all leave, he suddenly doubles over in pain as he begins turning into a redneck gator. Outside, Dathan catches up to Avery and as they talk, Bud, who is also beginning to turn, pulls a gun on them and moves to shoot Dathan but Dale attacks him. As the two struggle, Bud kills Dale, then bites Dathan when he tries to stop him and as Bud runs off into the woods, Dathan manages to shoot him. The next day, Landry goes looking for Lucien to see if he knows where Bud might be but finds all of the Doucettes have vanished, while a redneck gator is inside Lucien’s home. Landry heads to Wade’s home and tells Wade, Dathan, and Avery about the missing Doucettes and they agree to help him find them. Avery, Dathan, and Wade head out in a boat when Wade and Dathan get knocked overboard by a redneck gator. As it approaches the boat to attack Avery, Avery notices the pink nail polish on the gator’s claws and realizes that it is Candy, but she is still forced to kill it. Later, Avery is continuing to look for her family when she falls into some quicksand and as she calls out for help, a redneck gator begins approaching her. Before it reaches her, a second gator attacks it and drives it off, then approaches Avery but instead of attacking her, it rescues her from the quicksand and she realizes that it is her dad when she sees the gold tooth in it’s mouth. Avery tells Dathan and Wade her theory but when they don’t believe her, she drives off on her own, killing several gators when they approach her. Meanwhile, Dathan and Wade, realizing their tainted moonshine caused the gators to mutate, are trying to get rid of the rest of the shine when Dathan suddenly starts turning into a redneck gator. Avery kills another gator that is about to kill Wade, then approaches the now transformed Dathan when another gator (Bud) appears from underneath the house. The two gators begin attacking each other and appear to kill each other but after Wade and Avery take Dathan’s body and place it in the swamp, it recovers and swims off. Avery and Wade tell Landry what is going on and  they come up with a plan to kill the redneck gators. Wade gathers the rest of the Robichauds and they call out for the Doucettes, attracting the gators to the bar, where they have some explosives planted inside. As the Robichauds lock the gators inside, Avery finds Lucien and tries to get him to leave with her but Wade stops her and as he faces off with Lucien, they end up killing each other. Landry is killed before he can set off the explosives so Avery quickly fashions a Moltov Cocktail and tosses it into the bar, setting the explosive off but the concussion knocks her out and as the bar burns to the ground, Dathan appears and drags Avery to safety. One year later, Avery is shown to have stayed in the swamp, selling alligator skins for a living while raising her daughter, with Dathan, who is still a redneck gator and living with her.

This is one of those movies that, by all accounts, should not be entertaining but turns out to be highly entertaining. Yes, this does rely on a lot of stereotypes, and yes some of them are on the negative side, so the humor can be off at times but there are still some pretty funny aspects to this movie. The acting was pretty good, with Ritchie Montgomery and Thomas Francis Murphy stealing the show as Lucien and Wade respectively. Jordan Hinson, who was supposed to be the star, did a good job as Avery, but there were several times where she would gain and lose her bayou accent that ended up being a little annoying. Christopher Berry (Bud) was also pretty good but John Chriss (Dathan) was honestly a pretty bland character. The story was pretty interesting because of the two aspects of the movie. On the one hand, you had the typical sci-fi B-movie style theme of some sort of mutating agent, in this case the chemically tainted moonshine, causing animals to mutate and turn into killers. The fact that the gators could mutate people and turn them into gators honestly made it feel a little like Black Sheep (2006) in that regard. The other aspect of the movie was the human aspect, which was a pretty decent mixture of “Romeo and Juliet” with a touch of Hatfields and McCoys thrown in. The fact that Avery and Dathan were secret high school sweethearts honestly didn’t seem too original to be honest, though the whole Bud flirting/hitting on her was a bit too creepy. The special effects were a lot better than I was expecting, with the addition of the gators able to shoot out their tail spikes being a nice touch to their design. I especially liked that they didn’t overuse that ability too much, only utilizing it a few times, but the best part was the final duel between Lucien and Wade. So a fun movie to watch and one of Syfy’s better entries over the last few years.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 11th, 2019 Movie – Zombie Shark

zombie shark

A sad way to start the day as I watch the last shark movie in the Shark Bait set. Well, let me rephrase that. This is the last shark movie that I did not already review. See, this set also included Swamp Shark, but since that movie got it’s own DVD release several years ago, it has already been reviewed on my site. Anyways, let’s get on with today’s movie. Now this movie had debuted 4 years ago during Sharknado Week, but I missed it. In fact, I somehow managed to miss it every time Syfy aired it for the next two years. Last year I finally got a chance to watch Zombie Shark and…..the wait was not exactly worth it. Let’s see if a little bit of time, and keeping my expectations a little more even, will make it more enjoyable this time.

The plot: A woman is sitting on her kayak in the ocean, while her two friends are packing up their gear and heading back to their car, when she hears the sound of gunfire coming from a nearby abandoned base out on the water. Suddenly, a shark fin breaks the surface heading right for her but before it reaches her, a second shark attacks and kills it, then kills her. Elsewhere, Amber Steele is working at a bar with her friend Bridgette when Amber’s younger sister Sophie, who is also working there, is harassed by a drunk and when Amber goes to intercede, a fight breaks out until Bridgette quickly stops it by offering the bar free shots. Later that night, Amber’s boyfriend Jenner shows up and tells her he got a deal on an island getaway for 4 and Amber invites Sophie and Bridgette to come with them. Back on the island, Dr. Palmer is speaking with Roger and Maxwell Cage about trying to recapture the test subject that escaped from the base the day before, and both men say they will do their best on their respective tasks. The next morning, Jenner is loading up some gear in his boat, not hearing a weather report about an approaching storm, when he receives a call from Amber and Sophie’s parents, warning him to take care of their girls. The group head off for the island and are eventually greeted by Lester, the property manager, who tells them what there is to do on the island, as well as some history about the island and the abandoned base on the island’s edge. Bridgette decides to head to the beach and sees a crowd gathering by a dead shark that washed up on the beach so she quickly heads to get the others. As they stare at the shark, Jenner decides to take a picture of his head next to the shark’s mouth when the sheriff, who was working on crowd control, yells at him to get away from the shark. Suddenly, the shark comes back to life and lunges at Jenner and manages to eat him before it swims back into the sea, then killing the sheriff when the sheriff tries to shoot it. Amber, Sophie, and Bridgette head to the boat to try and leave only to realize that Jenner had the keys. AS more sharks begin feeding on the sheriff’s body, one of them attacks the boat, sending the girls drifting from the marina. Amber tries to call for help on the boat’s radio, accidentally getting on the military frequency being used at the abandoned base, and when Cage hears about the shark attack, he tells Amber that they will be there soon. Amber, Sophie, and Bridgette manage to get back onto the dock and head to the bar and, after telling Lester what happened, he finds a radio for them to use to try and call for help. Amber manages to make contact with Dr. Palmer, who asks them about the shark before telling them she is sending professionals to deal with it. When they hear people screaming for help, Amber and Sophie, armed with some shotguns that Lester had on hand, head out to try and save them. They fire at a shark that is approaching some people on inner tubes but it has no effect on the shark. Suddenly, they see a large shark with harpoon sticking in it’s back swimming past the dock, just as another shark slams into the dock. Amber and Sophie try to get back onto dry land when the dock is struck again, knocking Amber into the water. As she tries to climb back on, a shark starts swimming towards her but it is blown up by Cage, who had fired a bazooka at it. After pulling her up to safety, As Amber and Sophie try to get some answers from Cage about what is happening, he hears the sounds of combat coming on the radio from the rest of his team and he quickly heads off to help them, with Amber and Sophie coming with him. They arrive at a camp site, where they find the remains of some campers and Cage’s team, as well as a severed shark’s head that is still alive. Noticing a large swarm of sharks out in the water, as well as the one with the harpoon in it’s back (which Cage calls Bruce), Cage radios Dr. Palmer and explains the situation. Palmer says that the infection could spread to humans and tells Cage to try and contain the situation while she works on a way to reverse the process. Back at the bar, Bridgette and Lester see a news team out on the dock and they head out to warn them when the reporter gets knocked into the water by a shark. As they try to pull the reporter back onto the dock, Cage, Amber , and Sophie arrive just as a shark approaches the reporter. Cage manages to throw a grenade in the shark’s mouth, causing it to explode but it’s head is blown right onto Bridgette, killing her. Amber, Sophie, Cage, and Lester head back to the bar, where Sophie is able to phone her parents and tell them what is happening. While she is on the phone, Amber explains how she had a falling out with her parents. Lester is unable to get through to the Coast Guard and demands that Cage tells him what happened to the sharks. Cage refuses at first but he eventually tells them that Palmer had been experimenting on sharks to find a way to regenerate dead tissues and organs when Bruce had escaped from it’s containment. When a homeless drunk, who has been infected by the sharks, shows up and attacks Amber, Lester kills him by shooting him in the head. Cage says that they need to get to Palmer and help her make the cure, while Lester says he will get some friend to help deal with the zombies. Back at the base, Roger tells Palmer that he has fixed the beacon and when she tells him that she is considering leaving the project after they clean up the mess they made, Roger tries to convince her to continue her research when he is killed by a shark. Cage contacts Palmer and tells her about the problem and she tells them that Roger had fixed the beacon so they can lure Bruce, and the other sharks, back to the base, where Cage says that he has enough explosives to kill them all. Palmer tells them that she might have developed a cure but she needs an infected brain to test it on. Amber suggests they get the shark’s head they found and they quickly head back to the camp site only to find the head is missing. They spread out to find it and Sophie eventually finds it, but they annoyingly attract the attention of a zombie. After collecting the head, the three head to the base but they are attacked by some sharks, with Cage being wounded in the process before they can make it inside. Once inside, they give Palmer the head, she injects her trial cure into the shark’s brain but when it doesn’t work, she says that they have to stop the infection from spreading. Palmer activates the beacon to draw the sharks towards the base. Out on the beach, Lester and his friends have been fending off the sharks and zombies when they see the sharks all swimming away and heading towards the base. As the sharks enter the enclosure, Amber and the others leave so they can blow up the base but Palmer heads back to get her vaccine, with Sophie accompanying her. Inside the lab, Palmer finds the vaccine but the shark’s head, which had fallen off the table, bites Palmer in the leg so Palmer hands the vaccine to Sophie and tells her to leave her, as she is now infected. Cage blows up the base as Sophie exits and when she tries to jump to safety, she is swallowed whole by Bruce, who had not gone into the enclosure. A hysterical Amber heads out to the water to lure Bruce to her, where she is able to pull the harpoon from his back and begins stabbing him in the head. As Bruce swims back out to sea and turns around to make another attack, Lester arrives and throws a spear gun to Amber, who uses it to finally kill Bruce. As Amber mourns for her sister, she hears something coming from Bruce’s stomach and Cage hands her his knife so she can cut the stomach open. Amber pulls Sophie from Bruce’s stomach but Sophie has become infected and attacks Amber, forcing Amber to kill her. The vaccine falls from Sophie’s hands and Cage quickly picks it up so he can get more of it manufactured, then he and Lester go to comfort Amber, who is cradling Sophie’s head in her lap.

So I gave it another shot and I have to say, I am honestly on the fence regarding this movie. There were some aspects of it that I liked and some that I didn’t. The acting was decent, with Jason London (Cage) and Roger J. Timber (Lester) doing good jobs in their roles. I also thought that Sloane Coe (Sophie) did a good job but I was a little disappointed with Cassie Steele (Amber). It might be more due to the writing than her actual performance because her character just seemed to be overly whiny at times. The story itself was pretty decent, playing a little bit off of the plot from Deep Blue Sea, and adding a nice zombie twist to it. I do wish they actually showed more of the whole zombie aspect, because this was mainly just a normal shark movie for the most part, with only a few times where the shark’s didn’t die showcasing the zombie aspect. I will say that Lester made for some great comedic scenes, especially in the battle on the beach where he stabbed a shark through the mouth with a machete, causing the machete to stick out of it’s head, only for the shark to swim off and use it’s new machete to sever one guys arm, and later stab Cage in the leg. The special effects were about what you would expect for this type of movie, but they did add to the humor in a lot of the scenes. One thing I didn’t care for was the camera work during several of the underwater scenes. I don’t know if it was intentional but they made the water look soo murky that the sharks didn’t look very clear. So there are a couple of faults but it can still be an enjoyable movie on the whole.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 4th, 2019 Movie – Santa Jaws

santa jaws

This. This right here is the reason that I bought the Shark Bait box set. When I first heard about this movie, my initial thoughts were an excited “This movie might be on par with Santa Slay for best campy Christmas movie ever.” When it debuted on Syfy during last year’s  Sharknado Week, it easily became one of my favorite entries for that year. So let’s have some early Holiday cheer as I watch today’s movie, Santa Jaws.

The plot: Cody is working on his “Santa Jaws” comic that he is making with his friend Steve and discussing it with Steve and Clark, who are excited for an upcoming Christmas party at the comic book shop. Cody heads home as his uncle Mike and his new wife Georgia arrive and as the rest of the family greeting them, Cody’s mom Caroline grounds him for posting an “offensive cartoon” concerning the talks of school uniforms on social media. That night, Cody finds a Christmas present from his grandfather, Papa Joe, on his desk. Upon opening it, he sees it contains an antique, ornate fountain pen, which Cody uses to redraw a sketch of Santa Jaws in his notebook. As Cody goes to sleep, he is unaware of a strange glow appearing in the nearby cove, and Sanra Jaws, a shark with a Santa’s hat and Christmas lights on it’s dorsal fin, begins swimming around. The next morning, Papa Joe wakes up Cody to go on their annual Christmas Eve fishing trip and as Cody reluctantly walks to the truck, he is distracted by his new neighbor, Jena, and trips over some decorations. As Cody and Papa Joe are fishing, Papa Joe tries talking to Cody about what is bothering him and Cody admits how he seems to constantly embarrass himself when he tries talking to Jena. Papa Joe comforts Cody, who starts to feel better, but when Papa Joe goes to retrieve his thermos that Cody accidentally dropped into the water, he is killed by Santa Jaws. Cody runs home and tells his family what happened but none of them believe him and his mother grounds him for another week, taking his phone away from him. As his family heads off to prepare for the annual Christmas Dinner, Cody heads to the comic shop to tell Steve and Clark what he saw, but they think he just imagined it. When Cody asks Clark where the Santa Jaws comic is, he tells them that he gave it to Jena and Cody heads off to get it back, convincing Steve to come with him. Meanwhile, after helping preparing for the dinner, Mike and Georgia head off to the harbor so they can be part of the parade of boats but as Mike works on untangling some Christmas lights that had gotten snared in his prop, Santa Jaws attacks Mike, dragging him into the water. Georgia hears the splash and calls out for Mike, only to see Santa Jaws swimming away so she runs off to get help. Georgia makes it back to the restaurant and tells everyone about Mike being gone and Josh, Cody’s brother, says that Cody was telling the truth but Caroline and Peter, Cody’s father, tell him he’s wrong and have him take Georgia back to the house while they go looking for Mike. Meanwhile, Cody and Steve arrive at Jena’s house and ask her for the comic back and she tells them she left it on her father’s boat and they head to the harbor to retrieve it. As she gives them the comic, they hear the sound of sleigh bells coming across the water and Jena comments that it is like a line from the comic. As they are walking along the docks, they see a man in an elf costume being killed by Santa Jaws. Cody, Steve, and Jena head to the comic store, where they find Josh and Georgia looking for them. After Josh tells Cody about what happened to Mike, Jena says they should just stay out of the water and they will be safe but Cody says that they have to kill Santa Jaws. As they borrow some of the replica weapons from Clark’s display case, Steve notices the pen case and asks Cody about it. When Jena reads the inscription on the case, Cody gets a strange look on his face but is forced to dismiss it as they head out, not realizing that the pen case had fallen out of his bag as he was stuffing items into it. Cody, Jena, Steve, Josh, and Georgia head to the harbor to kill Santa Jaws but it ends up killing Georgia instead. When Jena comments about how Georgia was the only one to injure Santa Jaws, when she stabbed out it’s eye with a candy cane, Cody and Jena realize that the only way to kill Santa Jaws is with Christmas items and they quickly split up to find some appropriate items to use. As Cody and Jena work on fashioning some weapons, Steve and Josh show up with some fireworks and Christmas ornaments they can use to kill Santa Jaws. They finish their weapons and try to kill Santa Jaws but only manage to wound it, and Steve is killed in the process. Meanwhile, Caroline and Peter have their own encounter with Santa Jaws and go looking for Cody and Josh and when they show up at the comic store, Clark tells them that Cody and the others went to the harbor. Back at the harbor, Jena talks with Cody and suggests using the pen against Santa Jaws, as he had used it to bring Santa Jaws to life, but when he goes to look for the pen, he realizes it is missing.  They head back to shop and are shocked to find Clark there with a woman, whom he claims is his Russian girlfriend Svetlana. When they ask about the pen, Clark says he put it in back when he was cleaning up and goes to get it, only to duck out the back and attempt to escape as Cody and the others realize that he has been using the pen. They chase after him and confront him about the pen and Clark tries to escape in a boat but Jena jumps after him, knocking them both into the water. They both surface, with Jane clutching the pen, and she tosses it to Cody just as Santa Jaws appears and kills Clark and then Jena. Cody uses the pen to try and deal with Santa Jaws but his attempts to remove it’s teeth and kill it only make it more deadly. Cody and Josh decide to find their parents and when they do, Peter and Caroline still don’t completely believe Cody but when he shows them the comic, they finally agree he was right. They come up with a plan to try and kill Santa Jaws, fashioning a catapult to launch turkeys filled with explosives at it, then having Josh shoot them. When Santa Jaws approaches, they miss on their first two attempts and when the catapult misfires the third turkey, Josh goes to get it and throw it at Santa Jaws, only to be impaled by the horn Cody accidentally gave Santa Jaws. Peter dives into the water and tries to rescue Josh only to be killed by Santa Jaws but as it swims by the turkey, Cody shoots it, seemingly killing Santa Jaws. Cody shows Caroline the pen and says he can draw his family back but as she argues with him about it, Cody drops the pen. Caroline goes down to get it and hands it back to Cody, only for Santa Jaws to leap onto the dock and kill her. Cody quickly draws in the comic that whoever kills Santa Jaws gets a Christmas Wish and he then sets the comic on fire, destroying Santa Jaws. Cody wakes up in his bed on Christmas morning and finds his family all alive, with new memories as to what happened on Christmas Eve. As the family starts opening gifts, Josh heads across the street to Jena’s house and after talking her for a bit, he gets the Santa Jaws comic back from her, then invites her to go to a new ice cream store. Returning to the house, Josh sets the Santa Jaws comic on fire then holds the pen case in his hands, staring at the pen for a minute before closing the case and walking off.

This is still such a fun movie to watch; in fact, this is my third time watching it since I bought the set. The acting was pretty decent, with Reid Miller doing a great job as Cody. I also thought that Courtney Lauren Cummings (Jena), Arthur Marroquin (Josh) and Scott Allen Perry (Clark) were good in their roles. While not completely original, as the concept of someone’s drawings coming to life has been used before (at least I am pretty sure I have seen it before). Regardless, I liked the idea of the kid’s drawing coming to life and starting it’s reign of terror, and while I also liked that his initial attempts to kill Santa Jaws only made him more dangerous, I thought the ending was a little too contrived. Then again, this is more or less a Christmas movie so a nice, holiday magic-themed happy ending does make sense. The special effects were actually a lot better than I was expecting for the most part, with only a couple of times where the shark looked too fake. A really fun movie and something new to suggest as a family movie over the holidays.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, horror, movie, movie review

July 28th, 2019 Movie – Ozark Sharks

ozark sharks

So today is a day filled with all sorts of aquatic themed B-movies, at least for me. First off, I have today’s movie to watch and review. Then, at 4 p.m. (Pacific time), ShoutFactoryTV is kicking off a week of “killer fish” themed double features on their site so I will be watching that this afternoon. Of course, I will have to find something to do to occupy my time in between those events but for now, let’s focus on the first task for today. Today’s movie was one of the slew of new movies to come out during the 2016 Sharknado week. I will admit that I wasn’t too impressed with it my first time watching it but lets see if Ozark Sharks is better with a second viewing.

The plot: Four teenagers are playing with fireworks in a river when they are attacked by some sharks, leaving one girl, Dawn, as the only survivor. Meanwhile, Molly and Harrison are reluctantly going on vacation to the Ozarks with their parents, Rick and Diane, and their grandma. When they arrive there, Rick and Diane go to get the cabin key from the camp manager Jones and they head up to the cabin, where Molly is surprised to see her boyfriend Curtis had taken a bus there to surprise her. Rick and Diane make plans to take a canoe out on the lake while Harrison, Molly, Curtis, and Grandma head out to get some lunch. As Harrison and Curtis get the food and talk with Jones, Grandma heads down to the lake while Molly reads a book on shore. Suddenly, a shark lunges out of the water and kills Grandma and Molly goes to tell Harrison and Curtis, who don’t believe her at first until they find her bloody sunhat and severed arm. When a shark heads towards Harrison, Jones shows up and shoots it, driving it off, and tells them that there have always been some sharks in the lake. Curtis tries to call the local sheriff and tell him what happened but the sheriff thinks he is making a prank call and hangs up on him. Harrison heads back to the cabin to tell his parents but when he finds that they aren’t there, he calls Molly and tells her that he is going to drive around the lake to see if he can find them. Jones takes Molly and Curtis to his work shop to get some of his homemade weapons and then they head back out to the lake, where Jones manages to kill one shark but they discover that there are 6 more swimming in the lake. They head back to Jones’ shop and grab some more weapons, then load them up into his truck and head out to hunt the sharks. Meanwhile, Rick and Diane are attacked by a shark, which bites off two of Rick’s fingers. As he wraps a shirt around his injured hand, Diane grabs a flare gun and goes to signal for help but ends up shooting it at the shark, killing it. Diane then grabs another flare and fires it into the sky, which is spotted by Molly, Curtis, and Jones and they head over to where the flare came from. Elsewhere, Harrison finds Dawn, who was stuck on a tree in the river, and after rescuing her, they see a shark swim by heading towards the lake. Harrison grabs the canoe he used to rescue Dawn and plans to go after it, wanting to save his parents before they are attacked. Dawn refuses to go at first but when she mentions the firework festival and how many people will be at the lake, Harrison guilts her into going with him. Back on the lake, Diane is paddling the canoe back to the dock by their cabin when a shark leaps out of the water at them but they are saved when Jones harpoons the shark. When Rick and Diane learn that Harrison had gone looking for them, they want to go after him when Jones is attacked and killed by some sharks. As they recover from that, another shark leaps out of the water onto the porch of the cabin but Molly kills it with one of Jones’ weapons. They head out to try and find Harrison, eventually finding the jeep but no sign of him. When Curtis mentions the firework festival, they head back to warn people, with Curtis trying to call the sheriff again but the sheriff still thinks Curtis is making prank calls. Molly and the other head back to Jones’ shop so they can grab the rest of his weapons to use against the sharks. Harrison and Dawn arrive at the festival and try to warn people about the sharks but they don’t believe them at first, until the sharks start attacking people. Harrison and Dawn manage to save some girls that were on a floating pier but when a shark attacks them, they are saved by Molly, who had just arrived at the lake. Everyone has cleared out of the lake except for one girl trapped on the floating pier, but Curtis comes up with an idea to save her. Curtis manages to harpoon a shark’s tail and drags the rope over a wood chipper before he reals it in, causing the shark to get dragged into the chipper. Curtis celebrates saving the girl and killing the shark when the chipper sends the sharks teeth flying into his chest, killing him. A grief stricken Molly wants to kill the last shark and, after failing to talk her out of it, Harrison agrees to help. The grab Jones’ last weapon and some fireworks to use as ammo but Molly tricks Harrison into letting her go by herself. Molly heads out to the floating pier and uses Jones’ weapon, a massive modified air cannon, to fire fireworks at the shark, blowing it up in a colorful, and bloody, explosion. Molly rows back to join her family, and Dawn, on the dock and as the police finally show up, they watch the fireworks, with Rick joking that they should go skiing next year.

Ok. I gave it another shot. I kept an open mind about it. I still don’t particularly care for this movie. That’s not to say that it is a bad movie, because it was a fairly entertaining movie. This one just didn’t get that same level of excitement out of me like most shark movies do. The acting was ok, with Dave Davis (Harrison), Ross Britz (Curtis), and Thomas Francis Murphy (Jones) doing good jobs in their roles. I think I liked Curtis the most as his comedic moments, especially interacting with Jones, helped keep the movie from being too serious. However, I could not stand Allisyn Ashley Arm’s character of Molly. Even though there have been characters similar to her in other movies, for some reason her character just irritated the shit out of me. The story was ok, but not entirely original, as there was another movie about bull sharks in a lake/river that premiered earlier that week. The water in the movie looked muddy as hell, which made the camera shots featuring live sharks blend in pretty well. The special effects weren’t bad, though the times where some people would get splattered with blood looked a little too cheap at times. Not my favorite shark movie but it is a decent movie worth giving a shot.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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