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

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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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, horror, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

June 20th, 2018 Movie – Reptillian (a.k.a. Yonggary)

yonggary

As the century was coming to an end, there was a lot of buzz about the Hollywood big budget remake of Godzilla. Well, South Korea decided to reboot their own monster and bring him into the new century as well. Now I had heard about this occurring and was actually curious about seeing it. My first encounter with this movie was actually catching the last 10 minutes or so on TV one day and my initial thoughts were, “What the hell is this?” I would eventually watch the whole movie when I picked it up on DVD but I have to say I was disappointed. See, much like the original Yongary, the original Korean version was not available for me to get, but this time it was not because the print was lost, but rather that it was never released on video in any market. So I am forced to watch the American version, which was released in the U.S. as Reptilian.

The plot: In Southeast Asia, an archaeological team is exploring some caverns but when one of the leaders, Dr. Hughes, gets separated from the group, the other leader, Dr. Campbell, refuses to go look for him, wanting to claim any finds for himself. As Dr. Hughes searches for the others, he finds several fossils including that of an alien being holding a strange gem, which shocks him and causes him to stumble and cry out. One of the team members hears him and wants to go looking for him but Campbell refuses, saying they are too close. He then sees a strange glowing rock and has the workers dig there but when the worker strikes the rock, an explosion occurs that kills all of the team members except for Campbell, who had ducked behind some rocks, and Hughes as he wasn’t there. Campbell steps out from the rocks and sees a rock with some hieroglyphs on it and starts laughing. Two years later, an alien mothership approaches the Earth, hiding behind the moon to avoid detection before launching several ships and destroying a satellite and space shuttle. Meanwhile, reporter Bud Black is sent to cover the story of Dr. Campbell’s latest discovery, a giant dinosaur fossil. Later that night, Dr. Hughes confronts Campbell’s assistant and niece Holly Davis but Campbell shows up and mocks Hughes for disappearing for the past 2 years. Hughes warns Campbell about his greed and tells him that they will all be in danger if Yonggary regains life. Some time later, the alien ships fire on the Earth, causing an electrical surge near the dig site that kills two workers. The next morning, Bud is taking some pictures of the accident but Campbell grabs his camera and destroys the film. He then tells the workers to get rid of the bodies and continue their work, offering them double their salary to continue. When Holly questions him, he speaks with her privately and despite her saying that it was the third “accident” in the last week, he refuses to let anything stop the dig and says she can leave if she doesn’t like it. Later that night, another worker is killed as the fossil begins to regrow it’s teeth and bones. Bud heard the scream and takes some pictures but Campbell again destroys the film, saying bad publicity won’t do either of them any good, then gets rid of the body but another body appears in the morning. Meanwhile, the U.S. military have detected the alien spaceship and General Murdock is placed in command of the situation. Back in Asia, Holly has left the dig site after Campbell’s refusal to investigate the deaths. She is approached by Hughes, who asks her to hear him out. He explains that there were more hieroglyphs in the cavern as well as the alien fossil and what he deciphered talked about how Yonggary would be brought back to life by a beam of light. When she asks why he didn’t tell the authorities, he tells her he was a “guest” of the U.S. government but they were more interested in the alien fossil than his warnings. Holly and Hughes head back to the dig site just as the fossil is completely unearthed and Campbell gloats in his believed supremacy. When the alien craft fires another beam at the site, it revives Yonggary, who attacks the site, killing Campbell and several workers, before being teleported away by the aliens. Meanwhile, the Murdock is told of the alien attack on the dig site and sends Captain Parker to investigate and he finds Hughes and Holly and begins questioning them before having Sgt. Archie take them back to their command center. Along the way, Hughes explains some more to Holly about what happened to him the last two years, and how NSIA (National Space Investigation Agency) had classified his information that he gave them so he chose to work on finishing decoding all of the hieroglyphs before trying to stop Campbell. Suddenly, Yonggary is teleported right in front of them and as they stop the jeep, they get out and observe Yonggary, with Hughes telling them not to make any sudden movement. When a fleet of helicopters attracts his attention, they quickly get away as the helicopters begin attacking Yonggary but have no success and he destroys several of them before being teleported away again. Back in the command center, Murdock is ranting about the situation when he is alerted to the arrival of Mr. Mills, a representative from NSIA, who says he had advanced knowledge of the alien craft, which angers Murdock when Mills says they knew about it months ago. Mills explains that a paleontologist had given them information of an alien civilization had visited the Earth over 200 million years ago but he stole sensitive data and disappeared. The aliens teleport Yonggary into the nearby city and Murdock and his team are able to get a visual of it before the aliens destroy the satellite. Archie enters the command center with Holly and Hughes and Mills says that Hughes is the paleontologist that was helping them. When Hughes tells Murdock that Mills chose to ignore his warnings and says he might be able to stop Yonggary if he can finish decoding the information on the disk he has, Mills tries to grab the disk but Archie stops him. As Murdock tries to coordinate an attack on Yonggary, Mills tries to leave but Murdock refuses to let him leave the building and has Archie escort him out of the command room. As a jet squadron begin attack Yonggary with no success, Murdock is informed that he has 5 hours to try to destroy Yonggary or else the President will authorize a nuke to be dropped. When Yonggary is teleported away again, Murdock organizes an evacuation of the city in case he returns, then tries to figure out what they should do next, deciding to activate an experimental T-Force squadron to attack Yongarry with jet packs if he returns. Meanwhile, Hughes and Holly manage to finish deciphering the rest of the hieroglyphs and realize that Yonggary is being controlled by the aliens by a diamond in it’s head but they are confused when it says that another beam of light will occur if the diamond is destroyed. Yonggary is teleported next to a nuclear plant and Parker leads the T Force to stop him. Hughes and Holly tell Murdock about the diamond and Parker is ordered to target it and when the aliens realize that they are targeting the diamond, they teleport him away. Back at the command center, Murdock has Mills brought back into the room and questions him about the diamond that Hughes had and he explains that it was essentially a non carbon material. Figuring out that they can track the teleport beam with infared, they follow the beam as Yonggary is teleported back to the city. Parker leads his team to attack Yonggary again but his jet pack is damaged by debris from an exploding building, forcing him to crash. As his team is getting destroyed, he orders them to fall back but one of his troops sacrifices himself to destroy the diamond before Yonggary can teleport away again. Parker attacks Yonggary but notices that he is acting different and stops as Yonggary appears non-aggressive. When some planes attack and accidentally hit a building, Yonggary stops it from falling on people and Hughes and Holly convince Murdock that Yonggary is on their side now and he calls off the attack. Murdock contacts the President and asks for more time, when their signals are suddenly jammed. They discover that Mills is jamming them, as he wants Yonggary dead for his own reasons but they are able to stop Mills and regain communications. They discover that the aliens have sent another monster named Cyker to fight Yonggary and the two monsters fight, with Yonggary seemingly killing it when he rips off it’s head. When Cyker continues fighting, Yonggary blows a fireball down it’s open neck, causing him to explode. Hughes and Holly cheer that Cyker is destroyed but Murdock warns them that it isn’t over yet, as they rush to stop the nuke from being dropped on the city, stopping it at the last second. With Cyker killed, the aliens choose to leave, saying they need to escape before Yonggary discovers his true powers while on Earth, Yonggary is transported to a deserted island to live.

This is honestly a truly disappointing movie to watch. The acting was honestly bad, with several characters going completely over the top with their delivery. Bruce Cornwell (Mills) and Richard Livingston (Campbell) were honestly the only two that gave any sort of emotion with their performances that helped make their characters more memorable; with Campbell coming across as a real egotistical asshole while Mills came across as a true, weaselly, self-serving government stooge. The story honestly felt kind of disjointed in what they were going for. I mean, I actually thought the idea of aliens bringing the Yonggary fossil back to life to destroy the world was kind of a neat idea, but the pacing of the movie and the various cutaways just made it difficult to really follow. The special effects were honestly just terrible. Instead of suitimation, they decided to make the monsters both CGI but while the creature designs looked good, the creatures looked soo fake when they were in the cities or fighting each other. It honestly made the movie look extremely cheap, which is a knock against it as it was apparently the most expensive South Korean film produced at the time. A let down of a movie and a sad way to more or less kill a franchise.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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

June 19th, 2018 Movie – Yongary: Monster From The Deep

yongary Monster From The Deep

I didn’t lie yesterday. I told you that I was out of Toho kaiju movies but I didn’t say I was completely out of kaiju movies. Today’s movie is actually a little fitting considering the nationality of it. See, back in the 60’s, South Korea, seeing the success of Godzilla and other kaiju films, decided to try their hand at the kaiju movie business. So South Korea’s Keukdong Entertainment Company decided to partner with Japan’s Toei Company (who would later become famous for Super Sentai (which would become Power Rangers)) and come up with their own movie. Now I first heard about this movie years ago while talking about Japanese monster movies and someone had asked if I had seen it, saying it was basically a Korean Godzilla knock off. Well I hadn’t at the time but I would rectify that and pretty soon added Yongary: Monster Of The Deep to my collection of kaiju movies.

The plot: In South Korea, the families of an astronaut and his new bride watch as they drive off for their honeymoon, then tease Il-woo and his girlfriend Soon-a about when they will tie the knot. Il-woo leaves, citing he has a lot of research to do, and Soon-a is upset, thinking that he loves his research more than her but her father assures her that is not the case. As the married couple drive down the road, they are struck by a beam of light that causes them to start itching. Il-woo comes across them and after talking with the astronaut, he realizes what is going on and calls out for Icho, the bride’s younger brother, the come out of hiding. Icho comes out and the couple continue on their honeymoon while Il-woo chastises Icho for taking the ray gun out of his lab, saying he could have seriously hurt his sister with it. That night, the astronaut gets called away from his honeymoon for an emergency assignment to provide rocket surveillance on a possible nuclear testing site in the middle east. As his capsule heads into space and begins monitoring the area, the test commences and the explosion causes interference with the capsules radio, as well as triggers an earthquake to occur. When the control tower finally manages to regain contact with the capsule, they have him land and he informs them that the earthquake is moving, just as the scientists confirm that the earthquake’s epicenter has shifted and is moving towards Korea. As officials meet to discuss what they should do about the earthquake, it reaches the Hwanghae province and they decide to evacuate the area and impose martial law. As the earthquake occurs, a photographer in the area takes some pictures and spots a creature moving around underneath where the ground split open. He drives off to try and get to the authorities but ends up crashing off a cliff due to the tremors. Some guards find him and bring him to the emergency panel, where he hands them his camera before dying from his wounds. When the film is developed, the authorities see the man’s pictures of the giant monster and one of the scientist names the creature Yongary, based on an old legend. When Yongary emerges from the ground, the military is sent in to try and kill him but their tanks have no effect on the giant monster as it makes it’s way towards Seoul. As the city is evacuated, Il-woo decides to head there to observe Yongary and try to figure out a weakness and Soon-a and Icho go to try and stop him. They eventually find Il-woo and duck behind a wall as Yongary is close by, then watch as it continues to wreck the city. Deciding it is too dangerous, they all leave but end up getting separated, and Il-woo and Soon-a start trying to find Icho. The military wants to use guided missiles to attack Yongary but the government fears it would cause more damage to the area and refuses to allow the attack. Meanwhile, Icho makes his way through the sewers and ends up at an oil refinery just as Yongary arrives there. Icho watches as Yongary begins drinking from the tanks containing gasoline and oil, so Icho shuts off the valve, preventing more oil from flowing to the tanks. As Yongary angrily starts thrashing about, he smashes a building and causes an explosion that envelopes him in a white cloud of gas. Icho notices that Yongary starts acting strange when the gas cloud envelopes him and he rushes off to find Il-woo and tell him what he saw. When Icho returns home, he tells Il-woo what he saw and they decide to go to the authorities to speak with them and Il-woo says that the missiles would only make him stronger but they don’t believe him and decide to continue with their plan to use guided missiles on Yongary. Il-woo returns to his lab and, based on what Icho had said about the gas, begins fashioning an ammonia solution to try and defeat Yongary. Icho sneaks back out of the house and uses the itch ray to lure Yongary back to the refinery, where it absorbs the fire from a burning tanker. The military launches it’s missile attack but they have no effect on Yongary. Meanwhile, Il-woo, Soon-a, her sister and new husband use a helicopter to fly over Yongary and drop Il-woo’s ammonia solution into the clouds, causing it to rain and put Yongary to sleep but Il-woo says it is only temporary and that he needs to do some more work on the formula. As he works in his lab on the formula, Icho sneaks out again and goes to see Yongary, using the beam on him and causing him to wake up. Icho laughs when it appears Yongary is starting to dance and he dances with him until some soldiers show up and quickly take Icho to safety. Yongary renews his rampage and the military realizes that their missiles had no effect on him and try a new attack on him. Meanwhile, Il-woo finishes refining his solution and heads out to load it into a helicopter. As Yongary reaches the Han river, they fly overhead and begin dumping the ammonia onto Yongary, causing him to thrash about violently before eventually collapsing to the ground. Icho begs them not to kill Yongary but Il-woo says they have no choice as Yongary finally dies. The next day, Il-woo is commended for his role in stopping Yongary and he gives Icho the credit for his observations on Yongary’s behavior. Icho tells the reporters that Yongary wasn’t really evil, as he was just searching for food but he knows that Yongary couldn’t live with people, but still wishes he could dance with him again. As they all head inside, Il-woo offers to marry Soon-a and she accepts, the smacks Icho when he says that soon she might have a brat like him of her own.

I honestly think the thing that bugs me the most about this movie is that we will probably never be able to see the original Korean version, as the original negatives were shipped out overseas for international release and ended up being lost and the only version available is the AIP English dub. That being said, there are some good elements to this movie but it is one of the weaker kaiju movies that I have seen. The acting was ok, though the dubbing made some of the scenes more comedic than they probably should have been. They seemed to decide to go with the Gamera route and have this be somewhat more kid-centric so a lot of focus was on Icho but to be honest, he was kind of a pain in the ass brat. I mean, he steals the ray gun three times, using it first on his own sister and then on Yongary twice. Some aspects of the story were interesting, such as Yongary feeding on oil and gasoline but the one obvious flaw with that plot line is that if the nuclear test and earthquake occurred in the Middle East, then wouldn’t Yongary just stay in that region, as there is an abundance of those substances there. But of course, they wanted the movie to be focused on South Korea so they had him travel there. The Yongary suit honestly looked a little cheap, and you could totally see the flame thrower nozzle in his mouth the times he breathed fire, while the model sets were kind of hit or miss in regards to how good they looked. It was a good attempt, but I think they could have done a better job with it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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

June 18th, 2018 Movie – Yog: Monster From Space (a.k.a. Space Amoeba)

yog monster from space

This is a sad day for me regarding this blog as today I find myself watching the last of the Toho Kaiju movies that I own. Here is the great thing about this movie; I first learned of this movie through a video game. Years ago, I had Godzilla: Monster of Monsters for the Nintendo and one of the first monsters you fight was a giant squid-like monster named Gezora. At the time, I had never heard of Gezora before so I spent some time trying to figure out where he came from and eventually learned of today’s movie. I managed to record it when it aired on TV once and when that copy wore out, I went looking for it on DVD. Problem is, When I tried to find it I kept coming across a movie called Space Amoeba, which I quickly learned was the original name for the movie. Now, you might be asking why I didn’t review this movie back when I was on the letter “S” Well, Yog: Monster From Space was the title I have always associated with this movie and so that is the title I chose to use for today’s review.

The plot: The Helios 7 space probe is sent out on a mission to orbit and study Jupiter for one year, then return to Earth. As it flies through space, it passes through a strange gaseous cloud, which envelopes the probe before making it’s way inside, redirecting the probe back to Earth. On a plane flying over the pacific, photographer Taro Kudo has just read an article about the Helios 7’s disappearance when he sees it landing in the ocean below. He tries to tell the newspaper he freelances for about the probe’s landing but they don’t believe him, thinking it impossible for an unmanned probe to change course and land on it’s own. As he leaves the office, Kudo is approached by a young woman named Ayako Hoshino, who wants him to photograph an island for her. Taking Kudo to her employer, they explain that they are developing a hotel on Selgio Island and wanted him to take pictures of the island for selling points for the hotel. Their trip will alos include Dr. Kyoichi Mida, a scientist that Kudo had worked with before, who is going to the island to study the wildlife, as he believes giant monsters once lived there. When they show Kudo the location of the island on the map, he pulls out his own map that has the location marked and says that the island is in the area where he saw Helios 7 land and he agrees to go with them. On Selgio Island, 2 advanced workers, Sakura and Yokoyama, are heading to the beach to go fishing, with Yokoyama justifying shirking their duty by saying they are doing it to provide more food for the people arriving in town. Suddenly, a giant cuttlefish named Gezora appears and grabs Sakura, dragging him into the water. Yokoyama, manages to escape and encounters the local village chief, Ombo, and some of his men. Yokoyama tells Ombo that Gezora appeared and killed Sakura and Ombo says that Gezora is angry with their plans for the island. As Kudo, Ayako, and Mida travel to the island, they are joined by an anthropologist named Makoto Obata, who is also traveling to the island to study the ancient native civilization there. When their boat anchors off shore, Rico, Ombo’s son, goes to pick them up in a small motorboat but as they ask him why nobody is there to meet them on the island, he tells them that Gezora is angry with them, then heads off to get Yokoyama. As they wait, Kudo unfolds a map and says that they will have to keep a strict schedule if they want to explore the whole island in the week’s time that they have. Rico returns with Yokoyama and they start loading the groups luggage into their jeep. Mida and Kudo try to talk to Yokoyama about thewhat happened with Sakura but he refuses to tell them anything, saying Gezora can read minds and would get angry. They all get into the jeep and head off, stopping at a nearby cave to explore. Inside, they find a pool of water when Mida notices something glowing in the water. The water becomes very agitated, soaking the group and after the water calms, they notice Sakura’s watch lying on the ground, having been dispelled by the water. Yokoyama freaks out and leaves the cave and drives off in the jeep, with Rico asking him why they left the others. Yokoyama returns to the main camp and starts packing his things so he can leave the island but Gezora emerges from the water and heads across the land, destroying the hut that Yokoyama is in in it’s quest to get to him. Rico is thrown from the building and as he starts to pass out, he notices some bats circling around Gezora, seeming to drive it away. Kudo and the others walk back to the camp and find the jeep and building destroyed. They find Rico, who is in a state of deep shock, and as he examines the wound on Rico, Mida says that if Gezora did this, it’s body temperature must be close to freezing, as Rico’s wound looks like frostbite. Suddenly, a native girl named Saki shows up, worried about Rico and when she realizes that they want to help him, she leads them to her village. At the village, they find Ombo leading the villagers in a prayer to Gezora and when he spots them, he curses the outsiders for bringing destruction to their village. Saki leads them to a hut, where they lay Rico down on a mat and try to figure out their next move. Obata believes the whole thing is a hoax meant to scare people away from the island and when Kudo comments on Obata’s stealing the hotel plans, he reveals that he actually works for one of Ayako’s competitors. The next day, Kudo and Mida go diving down into the water and discover Helios 7 on the ocean’s floor. Suddenly, Gezora appears and attacks them but when a pod of dolphins swim by, they are able to escape. Gezora makes his way on land, where it attacks the village and knocks Ombo aside. Ayako, Saki, Obato, and the other villagers retreat to the hills, where they are met by Kudo and Mida. Trying to think of a way to kill it, Mida says that due to it’s low body temperature, they might try burning it and Ayako comments on it’s reaction to the fire in the village. Suddenly, some natives show up with some guns and cans of gasoline and Kudo comes up with a plan. Kudo and Mida begin firing at Gezora, luring it towards a clearing where they had the natives pour out the gasoline. When Gezora enters the clearing, they set the gasoline on fire, engulfing Gezora in flames. Gezora retreats back into the sea, where it’s body collapses to the ocean floor and the glowing spores from outer space emerge from within it’s body. On the island, the natives take Kudo and the others to an old WWII Japanese ammunition depot from when the Japanese were stationed on the island and they decide they should have enough gasoline and supplies to defend themselves. Obata decides to try and escape the island, taking the raft and paddling out to sea when something suddenly capsizes the raft. As the others watch and try to figure out what happened, a giant crab, Ganimes, appears and heads towards the group. Kudo, Mida, and the villagers shoot at Ganimes but their bullets appear to have no effect on the giant creature. Kudo manages to shoot out one of Ganimes’s eyes and as it chases him and Ayako, he shoots out the other one, then lures it off a cliff. As Ayako helps Kudo back up, Ganimes recovers and Kudo begins firing at the nearby cans of gasoline next to it, causing an explosion that kills the creature. As they head back to rejoin the others, they don’t see the space particles emerging from Ganimes’s remains and heading back towards the sea. Obata had survived being capsized and when he awakens on the beach, he sees the strange dust and moves to examine it only for it to envelope him. The dust, which is actually a extraterrestrial parasite, takes over his body and says he will help it take over the world. elsewhere, Mida examines the remains of Gamines and tells Kudo and Ayako that the creatures were simply ordinary creatures that were change to giant size and he believes the only thing that could have done it was some sort of space monster. Saki approaches them and asks them to come to her wedding with Rico and they agree but as Kudo takes a picture of the couple, Rico screams out and runs off. After he stumbles, Saki catches up to Rico to find he has come out of his state of shock and remembers her. Kudo and the others approach and when they ask what happened, Rico tells them that the bats scared off Gezora. Kudo recalls the dolphins when they were attacked and Mida realizes that the monster must be sensitive to ultrasonic frequencies. They decide to capture some bats in order to use them to keep the monster at bay but when they find a cave, they find all of the bats inside have been killed. As the split up to check out some more caves, with several other caves being filled with dead bats, Kudo and Ayako are attacked  by a giant turtle named Kamoebas. They quickly duck into a cave only to find some bats inside, which keep Kamoebas from attacking them, and after it leaves, they go tell the others. As the villagers work on sealing the entrances to the cave, in order to keep the bats there, Obata shows up, curious as to what they are doing and Kudo gets suspicious of him. When night starts to fall, Kudo notices Obata has disappeared and goes looking for him, only to see him pouring gasoline on the barricades. Kudo tries to stop him but Obata easily tosses him aside and as the others leave the cave, Mida realizes that Obata has been possessed by the space creature. Obata lights the barricades on fire, intending to smother all of the bats with the smoke but when Ayako pleads for Obata to not do this, Obata regains control of his body long enough to free the bats before walking off towards where Kamoebas and another Ganimes have appeared. The two monsters are suddenly surrounded by bats, whose ultrasonic waves cause the two monsters to begin fighting  and as their battle commences, they end up moving up a volcano and falling into it. As Kudo and the others watch, Mida tells them that not even the space creatures could have survived that. They then see Obata approaching the volcano and choosing to sacrifice himself in order to ensure that the last of the space creature dies. As they see the ship returning to pick them up, Kudo comments that he won’t be able to report the story to anyone as nobody would believe it.

This is a pretty decent kaiju movie, though it definitely was lacking in the property destruction that makes these movies so much fun. The acting was good, with only the typical 70’s dubbing issues really detracting from it. The story was kind of interesting, as I liked the idea of the parasitic space creature taking people over, as well as it being able to make giant monsters, but the whole take over the world plot just felt somewhat anticlimactic. I would have preferred some other reason for the dust arriving on Earth, like just random destruction. The suits created for the monsters were actually pretty decent and did fit in with the island setting for the movie, but I still wish we could have had them attack a major city. A fun little kaiju movie that is worth giving a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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

April 22nd, 2018 Movie – Varan The Unbelievable

varanj
The other day I had commented on it being a long time since I had watched a Ray Harryhausen movie for this blog. Well, the same thing can be said for watching a Toho Studios kaiju film. Don’t get me wrong, Godzilla movies are pretty much my go to when I want something to watch or I am feeling down. When I started collecting the movies in the unedited Japanese, today’s movie was one of the first ones I bought off of eBay. However, the seller never sent it, or the other movies I ordered from him. A few weeks later, I found the English version at a video store and quickly snatched it up, but I knew that I still wanted the original Japanese version. Almost a year later, the seller finally responded to my emails, and negative feedback and reporting on eBay, and sent the movies I had bought from him. Flash forward several years later and the original Japanese version was released on DVD and I bought that, then had a friend record my English version VHS to DVD so that I could have both movies in an updated format. Now, let’s enjoy this Sunday morning with today’s movie, Varan The Unbelievable.

The plot: When a rare species of butterfly, thought to only exist in Siberia, is found by a vacationing student in Northern Japan, the university sends two members to the region called The Japanese Tibet to see if more can be found. The two men make their way through the mountain road and eventually reach a village but when they ask if it is Iwaya Village, the villagers all walk away. Thinking the villagers are simply scared of outsiders, the two men continue on and attempt to locate the lake the butterflies were found at. AS some strange tremors occur, they are forced to stop the car and notice a butterfly nearby but as they go to catch it, they hear a strange roar and a sudden gust of wind knocks them to the ground, just as a landslide crushes them. As the newspaper reports on the mysterious landslide, the villagers say that the men were killed by their god. Back at the university, Yuriko, the sister of one of the men that died, arrives to collect her brother’s things and questions Dr. Sugimoto about what happened to her brother. When he tells her they aren’t sure but a second expedition is being prepared to journey there, Yuriko says that she is a reporter and is planning on going there to discover the truth about what happened to her brother. When he learns she is going to be accompanied by another reporter, Motohiko, Kenji, one of Sugimoto’s assistants, asks permission to accompany her as well. The three head out towards Iwaya Village and as they get close, they are met by Gen, the son of the village priest, who tells them not to go any further or else their god, Baradagi. Hearing a roar coming from the lake, the boy warns them not to be seen or else Baradagi will eat them, then heads towards the village, with the three adults following behind him. When they reach the village, they find the priest leading the villagers in a prayer towards a statue that represents Baradagi, begging forgiveness for the people that invaded it’s privacy. When the priest spots the intruders, he tells them to leave or Baradagi will kill them like the other intruders. Kenji tries to reason with him, saying there is no way Baradagi really exists. Hearing another roar coming from the lake, Gen goes rushing off to locate his dog, who had run off, and the priest refuses to let his wife go after him. Kenji, Yuriko, and Motohiko decide to go looking for Gen but as a fog starts coming in off the lake, they get separated and Yuriko ends up getting lost. Kenji and Motohiko return to the village and try to convince the villagers to help search when Gen’s dog returns, carrying a note from Yuriko that Gen is safe. When the dog heads back into the fog, Kenji and Motohiko go after it, followed by several of the villagers. They eventually locate Yuriko and Gen and as Gen’s mother embraces him, they are shocked to see a giant, lizard-like monster emerge from the lake. Everyone heads back towards the village and orders an evacuation, getting everyone out of there but the priest refuses to leave, choosing to stay and pray for forgiveness and mercy but he ends up being killed by the monster as it proceeds to destroy the village. As the observe the creature destroy the village, Kenji says it is Varan and is surprised to see that it could still exist. Some time later, Dr. Sugimoto discusses Varan with members of the Self Defense Force, who are prepared to lead a military expedition to the lake and destroy Varan. As the military begins setting up, Motohiko and some other photojournalists make their preparations to take pictures of the encounter. After all of the preparations are made, the Defense Force begins firing chemicals into the lake, in the hopes that it will lure Varan out from the bottom of the lake. After 25 minutes pass, dead fish begin floating to the surface, followed shortly after by Varan, who makes his way to shore. The Defense Force begins their attack but their weapons have no effect on the monster and they are force to order a withdraw. As Varan gets closer, Kenji tells Yuriko to leave but as she makes her way through the jungle, a tree falls and traps her underneath it. When Kenji returns to the base camp and finds she hasn’t returned, he heads back out and eventually finds her. Managing to pull her from underneath the tree, they attempt to make their way back to the base camp but since Varan is close behind them, they are forced to take shelter in a cave. Motohiko, Sugimoto, and some members of the Defense Force go looking for them and see Varan clawing at the hillside, attempting to open the cave wide enough for him to reach Kenji and Yuriko. Realizing they have to distract Varan in order to save them, Sugimoto has the Defense Force fire some flares away from the cave to lure Varan away. The plan works and Kenji and Yuriko are able to escape the cave but as they rejoin the others, they look on in horror as Varan climbs up the mountain, then spreads out it’s arms, revealing a membrane connecting his limbs, and flies away from the lake and out towards the sea. As the Defense Force begins searching the ocean for any sign of Varan, a meeting is held and Sugimoto says there may be know way for them to kill Varan. After Varan sinks a fishing boat, the Defense Force attempts another attack, using jets to fire missiles at it but Varan manages to grab one of the planes as it flies too low and drags it into the water with it, destroying it. When Varan submerges under the water, the Defense Force use destroyers to locate it and renew the attack, reporting that Varan is making it’s way towards Tokyo. They then try to use a fleet of mine sweepers to try and seal off Tokyo Bay but Varan is easily able to make his way through them. Ordering an evacuation of Tokyo, the Defense Force prepares to engage Varan outside Haneda Airport, where it is most likely to make land. Dr. Fujimara, an associate of Sugimoto’s, says that he has some special explosives that he uses to clear rocks for dam construction which might be effective against Varan and he is asked to go get it. As Varan heads towards shore, the trucks with the explosives arrive and they are asked to drive the trucks towards the shore, but the drivers refuse. Kenji gets in one of the trucks and drives it towards Varan, getting out right before Varan reaches the truck, and quickly runs back to the others. Fujimara detonates the truck just as Varan is right above it and they believe it worked only for Varan to get back up and continue towards the city. As the Defense Force attempts to stop it, some jets flying over head drop some flares to try and lure it back out to sea. Seeing Varan swallow one of the flares, they come up with a plan to load the special explosives in bomb casings and drop them from a helicopter. The helicopter takes off and Varan swallows two of the bombs and one of them detonates inside it, severely injuring the monster. Varan crawls back into the sea and disappears from sight and shortly afterwards, the second explosion occurs and when no sign of Varan is spotted, they all believe they have finally destroyed him.

Almost any time that a Japanese kaiju film was distributed in America, the American studios would always make some changes to it; usually substituting some of the original music for some stock music from other movies or editing/cutting some scenes. However, when Varan was shown in the US, almost 20 minutes of footage had been cut, including all of the scenes where Varan is shown to fly away from the lake. Tt had been heavily edited to the point it was given a completely different plot. In the new plot, Commander James Bradley is sent to Japan to work on a desalinization project to convert salt water to fresh water. Setting up his experiments on one of the outlying islands, he asks for help evacuating the islanders but the military goes overboard in their eagerness, making for some bad PR for Bradley. As the experiments commence, they end up waking a giant monster that had been on the bottom of the lake. The monster goes on a rampage, destroying the village on the island and killing several of the villagers and soldiers, then making it’s way to the ocean. As the military works on trying to kill the creature, nothing seems to work. Bradley comes up with the idea of using his desalinization chemicals to attack the creature, Using flares to distract the monster, the chemicals are loaded onto a truck and driven out to where the monster is and detonated, causing a poisonous cloud to surround the monster, which roars out in agony before diving back into the sea and disappearing.

As much as I love kaiju movies, this one was honestly kind of generic. The acting was ok in the Japanese version but just weird in the English version. I liked the plot in the Japanese version of the movie much better than the English version. Not the bit about butterflies being the start of all this, but rather the whole focus on some of the rural, mountain villages in Japans held fast to their ancient beliefs and being challenged by more modern thinking and skepticism, which was a generational issue in Japan back then. As for the English version, that whole plot felt like a convoluted mess, as the English scenes honestly didn’t seem to mesh well with the original Japanese scenes. The special effects were ok and I did like the rather basic look for Varan, which actually made him appear as a more sinister monster than the earlier monsters of Godzilla, Anguirus, and Rodan. The one thing I honestly thought was weird about this movie is that it was shot in black & white, when Rodan, which was released 2 years earlier, was shot in color. Still, it’s a fun movie to watch, even though there isn’t as much mass city destruction to be seen.

Rating: (Japanese version ) 3 out of 5
(U.S. Version) 2 out of 5

 

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