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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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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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May 26th, 2019 Movie – Godzilla: The Planet Eater

godzilla the planet eater

A holiday weekend, which is a good thing because I theoretically could catch up on some sleep. Unfortunately, that has never been the case for me as I am usually fairly busy during this particular 3-day weekend. Anyways, today we are finishing up our jaunt through the Netflix Godzilla trilogy. Now I was eagerly awaiting this movie to come out, as they had pretty much set up a fight between Godzilla and his biggest nemesis, Ghidorah. However, before it debuted on Netflix, I started hearing some reviews from people that had seen it in Japan and were disappointed in it. That had me a little nervous about what I was going to be getting, but then I decided to ignore what they said and simply enjoy a brand new Godzilla movie like I always do. So let’s relax this weekend with today’s movie, Godzilla: The Planet Eater.

The plot: As the remainder of Haruo’s team recovers from Godzilla’s assault on Mechagodzilla City, Metphies muses to himself on the Exif’s having observed and influenced humanity for centuries, and how he had been waiting for someone like Haruo in order to fulfill his own plans. Meanwhile, Haruo and Martin are observing Godzilla, who has gone to sleep in order to rest and recharge his own powers. On board the Aratrum, Dolu-Do, the Bilusaludo member of the committee, argues that Haruo should be put to death for his actions in destroying Mechagodzilla but the humans argue about Haruo revealing the Bilusaludo’s real endgame towards humanity and feels that Haruo should be commended for his actions. Back on Earth, Martin tells Haruo that Yuko is completely brain-dead, with only the nanometals in her body keeping her alive. When Metphies arrives and tells him about the discussion going on in the Aratrum, some of the crew believe Haruo was spared from the nanometals by an act of God, saying it is proof that his decisions were right. As other crew members start telling their own stories of how they survived against the nanometal, more of them begin joining Metphies religion. Martin tells Haruo that all of the people that survived the nanometal had been treated for injuries by the Houtua, including Haruo, and that some antibody in the treatment is what saved them, not a miracle. Haruo confronts Metphies about his misleading people, but Metphies says that he needed to as he planned to get Haruo and the others to help him summon his god, Ghidorah, to destroy Godzilla, but he needs Haruo to help him with that. Back on the Aratrum, the Bilusaludo mutiny and take over the engine room, shutting off power to the station unless Haruo is held accountable for the destruction of Mechagodzilla City. Back on Earth, Adam leads some of the other newly converted members of the Exif religion to build a temple where they can worship. Meanwhile, Martin tells Haruo what is going on on board the Aratrum and suggest the best thing for Haruo to do is to disappear for a while until everyone has a chance to calm down. Martin had convinced Miana to hide Haruo and she takes him back to the hut that he had woken up in. The two talk, with Miana telling him that to the Houtua, winning is to survive and losing is to die and Haruo, with their help, will win. Miana then removes her clothes and attempts to sleep with Haruo but he asks that he just be allowed to rest in peace. As he is resting, he realizes that since Miana didn’t know how to remove his suit, she couldn’t have been the one to treat his injuries. He realizes that Maina was the one to save him, just as Maina shows up in the room and the two end up sleeping together. Meanwhile, Metphies communicates with his father, Endurph, on the Aratrum and they say that their plan is almost ready to commence. When he finishes, he telepathically speaks with Miana, who had eavesdropped on his plans, and the two argue over his actions before he grabs her and prepares to use her as part of his ritual. Haruo wakens from a nightmare, just as Maina shudders as she heard her sister call out to her. Metphies and Endurph preach to the humans in their respective locations and convince them to pray out to their god in order to destroy Godzilla. On Earth, a shadowy image of Ghidorah emerges and begins killing all of the worshipers except for Metphies. In space, a singularity opens up near the Aratrum, and one of Ghidorah’s heads emerges on an impossibly long neck, which it wraps around the Aratrum, crushing it out of existence. On Earth, Godzilla begins to awaken just as 3 singularities begin to emerge from the clouds. Haruo and Maina meet up with Martin, who is trying to make sense of what is happening, and when Maina hears a voice from a hilltop on the other side of the valley, Haruo heads there to stop Metphies. Ghidorah’s heads emerge from the singularities and Godzilla fires his heat ray at them but the beams curve, while Martin’s instruments are unable to get a reading on Ghidorah. Ghidorah’s heads bite onto Godzilla, and Martin is amazed to see that Godzilla is losing energy, even though his machines can get no reading on Ghidorah. Haruo confronts Metphies, and learns that Exif’s had willingly sacrificed themselves to Ghidorah, allowing only a few priests to survive to spread the word of Ghidorah and offer him more planets to destroy. Metphies begins telepathically manipulating Haruo into accepting his way of thinking, using the images of those that had died to help influence him. Meanwhile, Martin continues watching what is happening with Godzilla’s fight and realizes that Ghidorah must be coming from a different universe and since his attacks are from a different dimension, Godzilla won’t be able to affect it. Since Ghidorah is able to attack Godzilla, someone from their universe must be guiding it and he realizes it must be Metphies, just as Maina grabs him and tells him they have to help Haruo. Maina takes Martin to the egg chamber, where they use the power of Mothra’s egg to reach out to Haruo and try to tell him what is going on. Metphies blocks them and continues trying to influence Haruo but Haruo is able to see into Metphies memories and realizes he is the one that sabotaged the shuttle his grandfather was on. Remembering a memory of his parents, where he is told that his name means hope, Haruo is able to break Metphies’ hold on him and attacks him, causing the medallion in Metphies eye to break and Ghidorah to suddenly gain form in their universe. Godzilla is now able to attack Ghidorah and quickly defeats him, blowing up the singularities to ensure that he can not return. When the dust settles, Haruo recovers and sees a dying Metphies, who tells him that due to his rage and anger, Ghidorah will be watching him. The surviving humans begin to integrate themselves into the Houtua tribe, with Maina becoming pregnant with Haruo’s child. Later, Martin shows Haruo that he has managed to get the last Vulture working again, using a sample of nanometal from Yuko’s body. As Martin talks about being able to control the nanometal to rebuild past civilizations, Haruo’s eye hurts and he hears Metphies voice in his head, saying that Ghidorah can wait. Haruo takes Yuko’s body with him and enters the Vulture, piloting it towards Godzilla so that Godzilla can destroy all traces of the nanometal, as well as the hatred that Haruo carries with him. In a post credits scene, years have passed and one of the twins watches over a ceremony where Houtua children make effigies, symbolizing the things they are scared of, so that they can burn them in front of a giant effigy of the Vulture, symbolizing Haruo.

I have to admit that I see why some people complained about this movie but I honestly thought it was really good and a great way to end the trilogy. The voice acting was good, with all of the people doing good jobs voicing their respective roles. The story was pretty interesting, as I liked the concept of the Exif’s using people’s belief to bring Ghidorah to Earth. The concept of it being in a different dimension actually added some credibility to why the Exif’s believed it to be a god, and why faith was the only way to bring it about.  The ending of the movie seemed to be cause for a lot of criticism but I actually thought it was rather fitting. Haruo’s anger and hatred for Godzilla was what drove him for so much of his life that it had become a part of him. The Houtua didn’t have any concept of hatred and, aside from not wanting to give Ghidorah a pathway to return to Earth, he didn’t want to allow his hatred to begin to influence the Houtua so he decided to sacrifice himself for their sake. Miana, who only understood part of what Haruo was talking about when he was talking with her before he left, interpreted it as facing his fear so his fear wouldn’t win, even if he himself lost. She then incorporated it into a new ritual with the Houtua by havig their children burn what scares them so they won’t be afraid of it anymore, as a way to honor his sacrifice. The animation was really good in this movie, as it was in the others. I did like how Ghidorah arrived through singularities, but I will admit that I was a bit disappointed in Ghidorah itself, as he didn’t have the usual lightening-like gravity beams that he usually wielded, merely biting down on Godzilla and seemingly electrocuting him (sort of) in doing so. So it was a good way to end the series and a good movie in it’s own way, but all it did was really get me geared up for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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adventure, fantasy, horror, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 5th, 2019 Movie – A*P*E

ape 1976

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. So there is a particular movie coming out at the end of the month, and I decided to review some appropriate movies to get myself even more in the mood for it than I already am. So today I decided to start with a quaint little King Kong knock off. So today’s movie was basically an attempt to cash in on all the publicity surrounding Dino DeLaurentis’ remake of King Kong, but would actually come out 2 months earlier than that movie. I have watched this movie several years ago and wasn’t overly impressed by it but it is always a good idea to give B-movies a second chance, as they might surprise you by being laughably bad. So let’s see what we have in store as I re-watch A*P*E.

The plot: As an oil tanker is sailing close to South Korea, two men are talking on deck when a massive, 36 foot gorilla breaks free from the tanks it was in, destroying the ship in the process. As the gorilla heads towards shore, a large shark attacks it but the gorilla easily kills it, then continues towards shore, where it destroys several buildings before disappearing into the jungle. The next day, American actress Marilyn Baker arrives in South Korea to shoot her first picture outside of the U.S. and is surprised to find her lover, journalist Tom Rose, is outside the airport waiting for her. AS Tom offers to escort Marilyn to her hotel, he tries to talk to her about wanting a more serious relationship with her but Marilyn tells him she is focused on her career and doesn’t want anything more than to be casual lovers as they are now. Meanwhile, the giant gorilla appears outside a small village in the jungle, causing the villagers to flee in terror. Captain Kim of the South Korea police receives a phone call, where he is told about giant footprints, but he dismisses the story as someone’s imagination gone wild. When a U.S. soldier comes across the wreckage of a military checkpoint, he calls in to his superior but Colonel Davis thinks it is nothing more than publicity for the movie being shot. As more people report seeing the giant gorilla, Kim begins to believe the stories but when he talks about the matter with Davis, Davis is still skeptical, jokingly asking someone if they think the gorilla is King Kong. When the gorilla shows up where a martial arts movie is filming an outdoor scene, the actors manage to chase it away by shooting flaming arrows at it. Hearing this, Davis reluctantly believes the gorilla is real but attempts to keep it from the public during an impromptu press conference, causing Tom to get suspicious about the matter. Tom then heads to the set where Marilyn is filming and warns her about the gorilla, telling her she should go back to Seoul, but Marilyn tells him she can’t go back until Friday, which is when they will finish shooting, and the two kiss before she goes back to work. As the gorilla continues making its way through the countryside, villages are evacuated ahead of time, while Tom and Kim attempt to figure out where it is going. The gorilla happens across where Marilyn’s movie is shooting and grabs her, carrying her away into hills. When Tom and Kim hear about this, they chase after the gorilla just as the military shows up to try and kill him. The gorilla begins fighting with the military and Tom uses the opportunity to rescue Marilyn and drive back to Seoul, while the gorilla gives the military the finger at their failed attempt. As Davis discusses the situation with his superiors, he says that the gorilla is heading to Seoul, apparently to reclaim Marilyn, and he is upset to learn that he is to capture the gorilla, not kill it. Tom takes Marilyn to Kim’s house, leaving her with Kim’s wife and children, then he meets back up with Kim to discuss what to do about the gorilla. The gorilla reaches Seoul and begins trashing the city as it searches for Marilyn, eventually finding and recapturing her. The gorilla heads back to the hills, with the military going after it again, only Davis disobeys orders and orders his men to kill it, not capture it. The military eventually manages to kill the gorilla, and Tom manages to locate Marilyn in the cave the gorilla had hidden her in and the two lovers embrace.

Ok, this is just as bad as I remember it being and that is not exactly a good thing. This movie really is terrible. In fact, it seems like the director decided to try and make a terrible movie, hoping people would think it would fall into that “so bad it’s good” laughably bad style. The acting wasn’t really that good, as it seemed like several of the people just didn’t put much effort into their roles. The funny thing about this movie is how much it did kind of point out that it was a spoof of King Kong. I mean, you had the obvious aspect about the giant gorilla going ga-ga over a blond and chasing after her, but you actually had Davis mocking calling the gorilla King Kong. My favorite part though was the fact that the director of the movie that Marilyn was working on was called Dino, which was a nod to Dino DeLaurentis, who was directing the Kong remake.  Another thing I thought was interesting was the fight the gorilla had with the shark, which was a total shot at Jaws, which had come out the year before. The special effects were incredibly cheap, as in they only gave $1200 of the movies $23,000 budget towards special effects. To put it in perspective, the model buildings in this movie made the models from the old Gamera movies look like Oscar winning effects in comparison. This is one of those movies that might be worth watching once just to say you watched it, but not for much other reason.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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

March 31st, 2019 Movie – Battletruck (a.k.a Warlords Of The 21st Century)

battletruck

It’s the end of the month and that brings us to the last movie from Shout Factory TV, at least for a little while. Now a few weeks ago, I reviewed a movie called Deathsport on here. If you were to try and buy it on DVD, it usually comes as part of a double feature with another movie called Battletruck, which I had never seen before. Luckily for me, it is available to watch on Shout Factory TV so I decided this was the perfect time to rectify that mistake. Now let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Battletruck.

The plot: As the Earth’s fuel supplies began dwindling, the “Oil Wars” occurred, with the end result being the Earth becoming a wasteland. Now, bandits roam the land in search of fuel, with the most dangerous of them being Straker, who drives around in a giant armored truck. One day, Straker and his crew come across two men carrying some drums of diesel in a horse-drawn wagon. When Straker asks where they found the drums, one of the men tries to lie so Straker kills him, which convinces the second man to show them where they found the drums. The man leads them to a facility that has radioactive signs on it but the man says that it is safe and the signs are just to keep people away. After the man shows them the hidden tank, which holds 50,000 liters, Straker tells his men to set up camp, then summons his daughter Corlie. Straker tells Corlie to shoot the man, saying he is now a liability, and when she refuses, he forces her to do it. That night, as Straker and Bone, the truck’s driver, discuss security for their new base of operations, Corlie sneaks out of the truck and runs away, but Straker sees her leave. The next day, Corlie is making her way through the desert, with Straker’s men chasing after her, when she is rescued by Hunter, a former soldier who drives a high-tech motorcycle. After escaping the pursuers, Hunter takes Corlie to his farm, where he takes a look at her wounded leg. Despite Corlie’s begging to let her stay with him, Hunter takes her to Clearwater Farm so she can get proper treatment for her leg, and because he prefers to be alone. Hunter drops Corlie off at the gate, telling her to ask for Rusty, the local blacksmith. and he takes off, just as Rusty comes outside and tries to call out to him. Rusty introduces himself and brings her inside the farm, explaining the rules of the place and she is voted in to stay at the farm. The next day, Corlie is out working in the field when she hears the Straker’s truck approaching and tries to run away again but is dragged back inside the village. The men attempt to defend the village but are easily overpowered and as Straker orders them to surrender, Corlie manages to escape on a horse. As Straker rounds up the prisoners, he notices a young girl wearing a necklace that Corlie had given her and takes the necklace back. Straker questions Judd, a villager that doesn’t trust Hunter, and he tells him that Corlie was there and probably ran back to Hunter, saying that Rusty is the only one that knows where his farm is. Meanwhile, Corlie manages to make it back to Hunter’s farm and tells him what happened, admitting that she was part of Straker’s group. That night, Straker’s men show up at Hunter’s farm and attempt to recapture Corlie but Hunter and Corlie manage to get away so Straker destroys Hunter’s house in retaliation. Making their way back towards Clearwater Farm, Hunter and Corlie are confronted by Judd and Charlene, with Judd wanting to turn Corlie over to Straker to appease him and Charlene saying that Corlie can’t stay there, as it’s not worth risking the entire community over one girl. Hunter tells them that they are going to have to make a choice on if they want to fight  or not, then rides off with Corlie to see Rusty. Inside Rusty’s shop, Rusty is glad to see his friend alive and apologizes for telling Straker where Hunter lives, showing Hunter his hand where he had been tortured, and Hunter forgives him and says they need to build an armored car to take on Straker’s truck. With another villager offering to help, the 4 begin working on building the car, with Judd coming over to help after a while. That night, Rusty and Hunter head back to Hunter’s home and grab an old bazooka that he had hidden there. Meanwhile, Judd grabs Corlie and leaves the village, setting fire to the shop in the process. When Hunter and Rusty return, Hunter asks what happened and takes off after them but Judd, knowing Hunter would chase after them, sets up an ambush and shoots Hunter with a crossbow bolt. Judd continues on to Straker’s base, and uses his bringing Corlie as an attempt to join Straker’s gang but Straker is upset about Judd attacking Corlie and warns him about touching her again. Meanwhile, Hunter, who had been rendered unconscious from his wound, recovers and makes his way back to Clearwater Farm, where Charlene works on tending to his wound. The next day, Hunter takes the armored car out to face Straker, telling Rusty and the others to be where they are supposed to be when he needs them. Hunter heads to Straker’s camp and starts running through the tents, killing Judd in the process, then blows up the fuel tank before racing back out of the valley. Straker and his men follow after him in the truck, With Straker ordering Bones to push the truck faster than it should, causing some tension between Bones and Straker over pushing it too hard and causing the turbines to start overheating. Hunter reaches the rendezvous with Rusty and the others and uses the bazooka to attack the truck, blowing a hole in the roof at the back of the truck. Hunter then jumps onto his motorcycle and races off after Straker, who tells Bones to head towards Clearwater Farm so they can destroy it. Hunter manages to catch up to the truck and jump inside the hole in the roof, then begins dealing with Straker’s men. As Straker turns to go deal with Hunter, Bones gets fed up with him and attempts to kill him but Straker kills Bones instead, causing the truck to begin weaving out of control. As Corlie tries to take control of the wheel, Hunter and Straker begin fighting and when Corlie goes to help Hunter, the truck goes off the road. Hunter and Corlie manage to jump to safety before the truck goes over a cliff and crashes to the ground below, killing Straker as it explodes. Some time later, Hunter is leaving Clearwater Farm on a horse and Corlie is sad to see him leave but he tells her that he will be back sometime, then kisses her goodbye before riding off.

This wasn’t a bad movie but there honestly wasn’t much worth remembering about it. The acting was ok, with Michael Beck (Hunter) and James Wainwright (Straker) doing good jobs in their roles. Annie McEnroe (Corlie) was ok, but it seemed like it took a while to figure out how to play her character. The story felt kind of like a Mad Max rip off, but a lot of the post-apocalyptic B-movies that came out in the early 80’s had that feel to it. Still, this movie felt really boring and bland, with no real excitement showing up during the entire movie. The special effects were about average though I will say that the design for Straker’s truck was pretty decent. So another one of the multitude of 80’s B-movies that appeared and wound up being quickly forgotten.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, martial arts, movie, movie review

March 24th, 2019 Movie – Circle Of Iron

circle of iron

Another Sunday morning, another movie to watch from Shout Factory TV. Lucky for me, they have plenty of movies to choose from. Now I chose today’s movie because of the history behind it. See, today’s movie was originally co-written by Bruce Lee, who had intended to star in it but was unfortunately killed before he could start working on it. A couple of years after his death, Stirling Silliphant, one of the other co-writers, completed the screenplay and David Carradine was cast to play the role intended for Bruce Lee. So let’s see what kind of movie we have on out hands as I watch Circle Of Iron.

The plot: In a distant land, a martial arts tournament is held; with the final match coming down to Cord and Morthond. Cord ends up defeating Morthond but due to his dirty fighting tactics, he is disqualified and Morthond is declared the victor. After Morthond is awarded the medallion and the right to seek the Book of Knowledge from Zetan, Cord argues with the judge about why Morthond was chosen. The judge tells Cord that he had broken almost every rule in the tournament and is not worthy of going on the quest. Cord says that everyone they have sent to face Zetan has failed to return but he will defeat him and look into the Book of Enlightenment himself, then follows after Morthond when he leaves the city. Morthond is upset about Cord’s following him, breaking his vow of silence to challenge Cord to another fight, but Cord refuses, saying he wants to help him, not kill him. After travelling for most of the day, the two warriors stop to rest and notice a blind man, whom Cord had seen earlier in the city, making his way into some ruins. When loud voices are heard from the ruins, Cord decides to go and investigate while Morthond uses the opportunity to continue on his quest without Cord. Inside the ruins, Cord sees the blind man fighting with some bandits and easily defeats them, though Cord does kill one that was about to throw a knife at the blind man. Cord approaches the blind man and asks him to be his teacher and when the blind man refuses, Cord says he will follow him and learn by watching him. When the two men encounter a monkeyman, Cord doesn’t see the wisdom in how the blind man handles the encounter, arguing he will never need to fight a monkey, but when he turns to gether his gear, he finds the blind man has vanished. Suddenly, he sees a wounded Morthond stumble against some rocks and when Cord approaches him, Morthond tells him he had failed the first trial and asks Cord to help give him a warrior’s death, then take the medallion and finish the quest. Cord does as Morthond asks and after Morthond’s death, he takes the medallion and heads into the nearby caves. Inside, he finds a tribe of monkeymen and watches as their leader defeats another warrior. Recalling the words of the blind man, Cord heads down and confronts the monkeymen’s leader, eventually defeating him and learning the way to Zetan. After traveling for a while, Cord comes across a man in a giant cauldron of oil. Cord asks the man if he needs help but the man says no, as he had done this himself so that he can dissolve the lower half of his body as a way of ridding himself of his sexual urges and offers to let Cord join him but Cord refuses, saying his vow of celibacy is enough. Cord continues across the desert and eventually comes to an oasis, where he sees a group of travelers have set up camp and are holding a festival. As Cord makes his way into the camp and watches the festivities, he is invited to sit next to the travelers leader Chang-Sha inside his tent. The two men talk for a bit before Chang-Sha steps outside and battles another traveler who had sought to test his strength against him. After Chang-Sha defeats the warrior, Cord asks when they will fight but Chang-Sha tells him that they will fight in the morning. That night, one of Chang-Sha’s wives, Tara enters his tent and says that Chang-Sha sent her there to give him a rose, symbolizing his second trial, and after talking for a bit, the two end up having sex, after which Cord asks Tara to go with him. The next morning, Cord wakes up to find the camp has gone and Tara had been left crucified on the outskirts of the oasis. Cord goes looking for Chang-Sha and as he stops for the night, he has a vision of Death approaching him but Cord is able to dispel the vision by showing that he doesn’t fear Death. The next day, Cord comes to another oasis and encounters the blind man again, and after Cord asks again for him to teach him, the blind man agrees. As they continue on their way, the blind man asks a fisherman if they can use his boat to cross the river, but after they do so, the blind man kicks out the sides of the boat, damaging it. They then encounter some bandits and attempt to run from them, fighting them when they have to, and after dealing with the bandits, the blind man stops to repair a stone wall. As they continue on their way, the blind man strikes a young boy, breaking his nose. Cord tells the blind man that he is leaving him but demands answers for the things he did. When the blind man answers, Cord questions how he knew the things he did and realizes that the blind man had been through there before, which gave him the knowledge about things that Cord didn’t. Cord eventually comes across Chang-Sha and after admitting that he doesn’t hold Chang-Sha responsible for Tara’s death, he challenges him to a fight. Chang-Sha agrees and after the two men fight to a draw, Chang-Sha tells Cord where to find Zetan. Cord makes his way on a ferry to an island, where he finds the religious sect that protects the Book of Enlightenment. Cord is taken to see Zetan and Cord goes to fight him but Zetan says there is no need for violence. He tells Cord that he has passed the trials and is entitled to look at the Book of Enlightenment but as Cord turns the pages, he finds that they are nothing more than mirrors. Zetan explains that many have come to seek the book only to find that enlightenment comes from themselves. As Cord laughs at the result of his quest, Zetan says that otwhile most of those who looked in the book have stayed there, some have left to become part of the challenges or teachers in their own ways, and Cord realizes the blind man was one of those people. Zetan offers Cord his job as protector of the book but Cord continues laughing as he leaves the island. Cord eventually finds the blind man and after talking for a bit, they embrace and the blind man hands Cord his flute, passing on his role of teacher to Cord.

When Circle Of Iron first came out, it received mainly negative reviews but has since garnered a cult following, causing some critics to reassess the movie, hence it’s current ranking of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics felt that the lack of Bruce Lee’s charisma and guidance caused the movie to not reach it’s true potential. Bruce Lee envisioned Circle Of Iron to be an introduction for Western audiences to Eastern philosophy and the movie was originally supposed to be shot in 1969, with Steve McQueen offered the role of Cord but he turned it down. The flute that David Carradine plays throughout the movie is the same flute he plays in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. The movie made $1 million, but most of that was through video rentals and not the box office.

Well, the movie is definitely slow enough to fit being a philosophical movie, but didn’t exactly keep the interest peaked enough to make it good. I will be honest, even if Bruce Lee was in it, I don’t know if this movie would have been any better. The acting was good, with David Carradine doing a great job playing the multiple roles of the blind man, Monkeyman, Death, and Chang-Sha. I honestly think he had some fun playing the different roles. Jeff Cooper was also good as Cord and but I thought that Christopher Lee was a little wasted as Zetan, as his presence honestly felt a little anti-climactic to me. The plot was pretty slow paced and even the few fight scenes were pretty slow, making this movie a little boring and hard to pay attention too. The fight scenes were pretty well choreographed but the slow pacing just didn’t make them exciting at all. I know that the focus was supposed to be on the philosophical aspects but they still could have made the few fights that were included to be a little more exciting. It’s a decent intellectual movie but the slow pace is not going to attract to many people to watch it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, sci-fi, video game

January 20th, 2019 Movie – Rampage (2018)

rampage

Man do I miss the good old days of spending hours upon hours, and tons of quarters, at the arcade, and one of my favorite games to play was Rampage. I mean, you get to go around as a giant monster and destroy a city while fighting other monsters. That is a kid’s playground fantasy come to digital life right there. When I first heard that they were making a movie based on the game, two thoughts went through my head; 1) this is going to be another terrible video game movie, and 2) it was definitely a movie that I would be interested in seeing/owning. Let’s face it, almost every movie that has been based on a video game has absolutely sucked so there is definitely a precedent that this will be a bad movie. However, this is also a movie involving giant monsters destroying a city, and those are some of my favorite movies to watch. With these two differing factors weighing in, I honestly didn’t feel like spending the money to go see this in theaters and waited till it came available to rent before watching it. Then I saw that there was a sale on the digital copy of the movie for $5 and decided that was a pretty decent price for some entertainment, which is what brings us to today’s movie, Rampage (2018).

The plot: In 1993, the breakthrough gene editing technology known as CRISPR allowed scientists a way to treat incurable diseases but by the year 2016, gene editing had been deemed a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.” In 2018, the space station Athena-1, owned by the Energyme corporation, is doing illegal tests when the test subject, a rat, breaks free and attacks and kills the crew. Dr. Kerry Atkins, the lone survivor, tries to make it to the escape pod but finds the hatch sealed remotely. She is told by Claire Wyden, the CEO of Energyme, that they won’t unlock the hatch until she retrieves the canisters of the pathogen they were testing from the lab. Atkins makes her way to the lab and begins retrieving the canisters when an alarm sounds that the space station’s hull integrity has gone critical, just as the rat appears down the corridor. With the rat chasing after her, Atkins makes it to the hatch with the canisters and is allowed inside, then jettisons the escape pod before the station explodes but the damage done by the rat causes the pod to break apart as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. At the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, Davis Okoye, along with his friend Nelson, are leading new team members Amy and Connor into the gorilla habitat to see how Paavo, a new arrival, is integrating into the enclosure. When Paavo sees them, he gets agitated but Davis is able to calm him down until George, a large albino gorilla, appears. Paavo gets agitated again, frightening Connor and causing him to run, with Paavo chasing after him but before Paavo can attack him, George knocks Paavo aside and roars at him, cowing the younger gorilla. Davis goes to check on Connor as George roars at them, but then starts laughing and Davis realizes he is joking with them. Davis then signs to George and tells him tobe nice, welcome and protect Paavo, as his family had been killed by poachers, and George agrees to do so. That night, the debris from the escape pod crashes to Earth, with one landing in the Wyoming desert, where a wolf investigates it and is engulfed in a green gas, and a second one landing in the Florida Everglades, where an alligator swallows it. A third canister lands inside George’s gorilla habitat and when George touches the canister, it breaks open and envelops him in a green gas, causing him to roar out. The next day, Davis is summoned to work by a call from Nelson about George and when he gets there, Nelson tells Davis that George is in the grizzly enclosure. The two head over there and find that the grizzly is dead and a wounded George is sitting in a cave and when Davis convinces him to come out, they are shocked to see that George has grown considerably. Connor radios Nelson and tells them to come to the gorilla habitat, where he and Amy show Nelson and Davis the canister that was still in it’s crater and Davis uses a sample bag to grab it and says they need to figure out what it is. At Energyme’s corporate headquarters in Willis Tower in Chicago, Claire’s brother Brett is upset about the space station’s destruction and the hit that their company took on the stock market but Claire tells him that everything will be ok. She tells him that Atkins had gotten the research canisters off the space station and even though the escape pod blew up, the canisters were designed to survive reentry, and one of them had landed in Wyoming. Claire tells Brett to deal with the press while she uses a private military unit, led by a man named Burke, to retrieve the canister. When they arrive at the crash site, Burke contacts Claire and tells her they found the canister but whatever was inside was gone or destroyed. He then tells her they found a pack of wolves that had apparently been killed by a single wolf and Claire, realizing that the wolf had been infected with Project Rampage, tells Burke to bring her the wolf dead or alive. In Los Angeles, a genetic engineer named Dr. Kate Caldwell sees the news report about Athena-1’s destruction, and the story about George “escaping” his enclosure, and she quickly heads to San Diego. In San Diego, Davis is looking over the lab results for George when Kate arrives and tells him she can explain. Davis takes Kate to see George and Kate explains that she worked for Energyne and had developed a way to advance CRISPR so that instead of altering one cell at a time, her system allowed entire DNA strands to be edited at once. Suddenly, George breaks free from the containment cell and breaks out of the lab, terrorizing the visitors to the sanctuary. As police show up and threaten to shoot George, Davis is able to calm George down but a Homeland Security helicopter arrives and shoots George with multiple tranquilizer darts, bringing the large gorilla down. Back in Wyoming, Burke and his men spot the wolf, which has grown to giant size, and attempt to kill it but the wolf kills them all. Back in San Diego, Davis and Kate are taken into government custody by Agent Harvey Russell, who loads them onto a plane along with George. As they are flying, Russell reads Davis’ file out, revealing that he was former Special Forces and is now part of the UN’s Anti-Poaching Task Force. Russell then shows them the video of the giant wolf, who has been named Ralph, and when Davis says that Kate can cure the animals, Russell reveals that Kate used to work for Energyne and had been fired two years ago, then sent to prison for 13 months for stealing company hard drives. In Chicago, Brett shows Claire surveillance photos of Davis and Kate being loaded onto the plane with George and Claire says that they should have killed Kate when they had the chance. She then tells Brett that there is a pill that can halt the growth and aggression in someone exposed to Project Rampage, and that the pathogen also rewired the host to respond to low level radio signals. Claire activates a radio transmitter that her team modified atop Willis Tower, which will lure the animals to Chicago, and in the case of George, destroy the plane and kill Kate in the process. When the signal is activated, George, who had been sedated, wakes up and breaks free from his enclosure and begins attacking the agents when they try to shoot him. During the fight, some explosives are detonated, blowing a hole in the plane and causing it to crash. Davis and Kate parachute to safety, with Davis rescuing Russell as well, while George goes down with the plane but George survives the crash and makes his way to Chicago. In Chicago, the FBI arrive at Energyne and after serving Claire the warrant, begin taking all of the hard drives and servers while Claire begins trying to pass the blame onto Kate. Back at the crash site, Russell tries to secure transport for the three of them while Kate tries to explain herself to Davis. Davis isn’t interested at first but Kate tells him that she had joined Energyne to try and use CRISPR to save her brother but when she learned that Energyne was using her research to weaponize DNA, she tried to destroy it but got arrested for it, and her brother died while she was in prison. Russell manages to get military transport to a base outside of Chicago, where the base commander is coordinating an assault on George and Ralph before they reach the city. Davis and Kate try to explain that Energyne must be luring the animals to the city and that the attack won’t work but the commander has them taken away, saying the FBI wants to speak with them. Davis knocks out their guards and he and Kate head to an unguarded medevac helicopter when they are stopped by Russell, who hands Davis the keys and a satellite phone and says that they are on the same side. Russell returns to the operations room just as the attack on George and Ralph commences and when it fails, he contacts Davis to let him know what happened. Davis and Kate reach Chicago just as George and Ralph begin attacking the military in the city, and are shocked to see a giant alligator, Lizzy, emerge from the river and join in the attack. Realizing that the military won’t be able to stop the giant creatures, Davis and Kate head to Energyne to try and find the antidote, being contacted by Russell and told that Blake is ordering a MOAB to be dropped on the city to destroy the creatures. When they reach the labs, Kate finds that the system has been completely scrubbed clean by the Wydens but the keep looking and eventually find the cure, only to be confronted by Claire and Brett. Claire tells them that the R-19 doesn’t return the animals to their original size, merely removes the growth and aggressiveness in them, then demands that Kate hand them over but Kate secretly sneaks one into her coat. Claire then tells Davis and Kate to move and when Davis refuses, Claire shoots him, then forces Kate to head to the roof. They head for the waiting helicopter but George arrives on the roof and destroys the helicopter, then begins smashing the transmitter. Davis, who only wounded, rescues Kate from the debris and when she reveals she still has a cure, Davis says they should give it to George and hope that he will help them deal with the other two monsters. The two head down the stairs to get off the roof but are stopped by Claire, who wants them to distract George so she can escape. Davis appears to agree, but then yells out for George while Kate throws the cure into Kate’s bag, where the other two vials are, and shoves her back into George, who grabs her and swallows her. In the building’s lobby, Brett is trying to call for an escape when he encounters Russell, who tells him that he will let him escape if he hands over the laptop he is carrying. Brett quickly agrees, but as he walks outside, he is crushed by some falling debris. Back on the roof, Davis realizes that the building is about to come down and quickly gets into the Wyden’s damaged helicopter with Kate and powers it up, managing to stay just above the building as it falls before they crash to the ground. Davis and Kate walk away from the wreck just as George emerges from the debris, and they are happy to see that his gentle personalite has returned. When Ralph and Lizzy emerge as well, Davis sees a Humvee and tells Kate to use it to find Russell and get him to call off the air strike while he and George deal with the creatures. Using a grenade launcher, Davis fires on the animals while George attacks them, and they manage to lure Ralph into flying towards Lizzie, who grabs his throat in it’s jaws and decapitates him. George and Davis then turn their attention to Lizzie, just as Kate reaches Russell and tells him what is going on. George is overpowered by Lizzie and tossed into some debris, ending up impaled on rebar. As Lizzie closes in to finish off George, Davis gets into a downed Apache and begins firing at Lizzie, taking it’s attention off of George. As Lizzie goes to kill Davis, George takes the rebar and impales Lizzie through the eye, piercing the brain, and finally killing the giant alligator. Colonel Blake, who had been alerted to the situation by Russell, calls off the airstrike and as Davis tells George that they saved the city and George saved him, George collapses from his injuries. Davis cries for his friend’s death just as Kate and Russell show up and as they see the military helping the survivors, Davis sees George move and realizes that George had been playing a joke on him. After talking with Kate and Russell, Davis says that they should help get the people to safety, then find George a new home.

Rampage (2018) met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but contrary to appearances, this makes it the highest reviewed movie based on a video game of all time. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rampage isn’t as fun as its source material, but the movie’s sheer button-mashing abandon might satisfy audiences in the mood for a brainless blockbuster.” During the movie when Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) signs to the young gorilla Paavo to calm him down, the sign he makes while saying “It’s me” is for”rock”, a reference to his WWE days as The Rock. The mutated rat at the beginning of the movie is likely a reference to Larry, a character that was only available in the Atari Lynx version of the game. The film was a success at the box office, earning $428 million off of a $140 million budget.

Ok, this was not what I would consider a great movie but it was a pretty entertaining movie. Dwayne Johnson was pretty good in his role and the interaction his character had with George felt pretty natural. Naomie Harris (Kate), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Russell) and Malin Akerman (Claire) were also good in there roles as well. The story was pretty good and did a decent job in sticking to the basic premise of the video game, but instead of humans being the subject to the experiments and turning into monsters, the movie chose to simply have animals accidentally be exposed to the pathogen that turns them into giant monsters. The special effects with the creature designs were pretty interesting, well Ralph and Lizzie’s design, as George was simply a big gorilla. One thing I didn’t particularly care for the consistent power-ups that they seemed to give Ralph. First it was the projectile spines that he fired at one of the helicopters, but then he was able to fly, which was just weird. Another thing that I thought was interesting was that Lizzie seemed so much more massive than George or Ralph. The only reason I can think as to why this was is because Lizzie had swallowed the canister with that pathogen, receivng a larger concentration of it, as opposed to what happened to George and Ralph, who had simply been exposed to a portion of the gas. A nice bit of mindless, city trashing entertainment that can be fun to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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