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

June 13th, 2017 Movie – Rodan

rodanFor me, there is no better way to start the day than by watching a Toho kaiju movie. Now today’s movie was always one of my favorite Toho monster movies as a kid. Like many kids, I was a bit of a dinosaur nut and here was this movie about a giant Pteranodon attacking a city. Of course, being a Toho monster meant that Rodan would find it’s way into the Godzilla series, which gave me even more chances to see him. So let’s go ahead and watch Toho’s resident high flyer in action as I watch today’s movie, Rodan.

The plot: In the mining town of Kitamatsu, the miners are preparing for the morning shift in the mine when a fight breaks out between two workers, Goro and Yoshizo, but it is quickly broken up and the men head down into the shaft. A short time later, a call comes in to the headquarters that part of the mine has flooded and Shigeru Kawamura, one of the mine’s safety engineers, quickly heads to the mine to investigate. When Shigeru gets down to where the workers are, he learns that Goro and Yoshizo are missing so he leads a group down to try and find them as well as figure out where the water came from. The group eventually come across the body of Yoshizo and quickly take him back to the surface and take him to the doctor’s office, where the doctor says he was killed by a sharp object. Some of the men believe Goro killed Yoshizo, as he has not been seen since the flood, but Shigeru tells them not to jump to conclusions until the police have finished investigating. As they leave the doctor’s office, Shigeru sees his fiance Kiyo waiting for him and she asks if the rumors about Goro, her brother, are true but he tells her to have faith in Goro. Later, two workers and a police officer are standing at the water’s edge of the tunnel to see if Goro comes out when they hear a splash in the water. Heading into the water to investigate, they hear a strange noise followed by more splashing when suddenly, the worker in front starts screaming as he is dragged underwater. The police officer fires his pistol at their attacker but he too is dragged under and killed, while the second worker is killed while trying to to radio for help. After the bodies have been recovered, the doctors say that the men were killed by the same weapon that killed Yoshizo but they have no idea what could have done it. That night, Shigeru is trying to comfort Kiyo after Yoshizo’s wife yells at her for Yoshizo’s death when they are attacked by a giant insect. They quickly run and Shigeru calls for help and when the police get there, they see the creature and start firing at it but their bullets seem to have no effect as the insect charges at them. With more officers and people coming to help, they soon track the insect to the top of a hill but it manages to kill two police officers before making it’s way back to the mine. Heading into the mine, the police bring some machine guns to use on the insect but even the machine guns have no effect so they are forced to retreat back towards the surface. Shigeru releases the mine cart and crashes it into the insect, killing it, but as they are moving the debris from the crash, a second insect appears. The police begin firing at it but it has no effect when a cave in suddenly occurs, killing the insect and trapping Shigeru inside the mine. Dr. Kashiwagi examine the body of the insect and say it looks like a giant prehistoric dragonfly larvae called Meganulon. Suddenly, a tremor occurs and they learn an earthquake occurred somewhere between the mine and the nearby volcano, Mt. Aso. As the scientist go to examine the site of the earthquake, they see Shigeru stumbling around in the newly formed crater. Taking Shigeru back to the village, they find that he is in a state of shock, causing him to become mute and giving him temporary amnesia. As Kiyo cares for Shigeru, Kashiwagi and the other doctors try to work with him in regaining his memory but to no avail. Meanwhile, a JSDF plane reports to it’s base about an unknown object traveling through the air at supersonic speeds. The pilot is ordered to investigate but as he gets close, the object suddenly reverses course and destroys the plane with a supersonic attack. As the JSDF examines the wreckage and pilot’s remains, they learn of another plane being attacked by the object. As reports come in of the object flying over the area, from Beijing to Manila, the news reports feel like it is impossible for the object to be in different places so close apart and theorize that there are two of them. A Honeymooning couple heads to Mt. Aso to take some pictures when they are attacked by the flying object. As the police examine the items left behind, they develop the pictures from their camera and see a strange wing in one of the frames. Izeki, a newspaper reporter, takes the picture to Kashiwagi to look at, and he and his assistants say it resembles the wing of a Pteranodon. Meanwhile, Kiyo shows Shigeru some bird eggs that are starting to hatch and he regains his memory of what happened inside the cave. Speaking with Kashiwagi, Shigeru tells them that he saw a giant egg hatch and a giant baby Pteranodon was eating the Meganulon that were inside the chamber before flying off. Shigeru leads Kashigawi and some other men to the chamber where the egg was and they find a piece of the egg shell but are forced to run when another cave in occurs. After examining the shell fragment, Kashiwagi is able to estimate how large the egg was theorizes that nuclear testing possibly lead to the giant size and wakening of the creature, which they are calling Rodan. Heading towards Mt. Aso, the group see Rodan appear at the base of the volcano and the police chief sends one of his men to report what is going on but Rodan takes off and uses it’s sonic boom to destroy the jeep. the JSDF mobilizes some planes to attack Rodan but their weapons have no effect and it heads towards Fukuoka. Landing in the city, Rodan begins destroying the city and the JSDF mobilizes tanks and rocket launchers to combat the giant monster but to no avail. As Rodan uses it’s wings to generate powerful gusts of wind that destroy buildings and push the JSDF vehicles away, a second Rodan appears and begins flying over the city before both Rodans leave the city and head back to Mt. Aso. Using a helicopter to examine Mt. Aso and finding the Rodans’ nest, the JSDF plan on bombing the mountain and causing a cave-in that will trap the monsters inside the mountain. One of the geologists says that their plan will cause Mt. Aso to erupt and the commander says that will work to their advantage, believing the lava will kill the monsters. The JSDF evacuate the area, then begin firing at the volcano in an attempt to bury the monsters. The Rodan’s are able to escape but when the Mt. Aso proceeds to erupt, one of the Rodans is overcome by the fumes and ends up falling to the ground, where it is set on fire by the lava. As Shigeru, Kiyo, Kashiwagi, and the others watch, the second Rodan descends to the ground and lands near it’s dying mate, then catches on fire as well and the assembled people watch as both monsters are consumed by fire and die.

Rodan met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seemed to enjoy the movie but did feel the plot was a bit tedious. This was the first Toho kaiju movie to be filmed in color, though Toho’s first color film was released earlier in the year. Like many other of Toho’s kaiju movies, Rodan found a large audience outside of Japan, especially in the US, though there were changes made just like the other kaiju movies that were shown in the US.

This was always my favorite non-Godzilla Showa era kaiju movie. The acting was pretty good, with a good mix of drama in the early going followed by the usual panic/antics that occur during a kaiju movie. The plot was decent, though it was a bit disappointing because Rodan didn’t really show up until almost 2/3 of the way through the movie, while the first 30 minutes was focused on the Meganulon. The Rodan suit was actually pretty incredible and it is a shame that this suit wasn’t used in the Godzilla series, where we wound up with a googly eyed monster in the later films. A fun movie to watch and enjoy, even if you are not a kaiju fan.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
drama, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

April 20th, 2017 Movie – Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla)

shin godzilla

Sometimes, it is the little things that can absolutely make your day start, or end, on an incredible high note. Case in point, the package I received in the mail yesterday. Now, it has been well documented that I am a huge Godzilla fan and when I heard that Toho was making a new movie, I got excited and eagerly anticipated getting a chance to see it. When it was announced that there would be showings in the US, I immediately got tickets for myself and my two youngest brothers so we could go watch it. Towards the end of the year, I started searching online for a copy of the movie that was either a Region 1 DVD or All-Region so that it could watch it and after several weeks, finally found a copy. Granted, it took a while for shipping to get here but I was content with the knowledge that it was on it’s way. That brings us to today, as I finally get to watch Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) again.

The plot: When an abandoned yacht is found drifting in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese Coast Guard is sent to investigate it but just as they determine that nobody is on board, a violent eruption occurs in the water, destroying the Coast Guard boat. At the same time, the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line tunnel suddenly springs a leak, with a strange red water pouring in and flooding the tunnel. As a huge geyser of steam continues to erupt from the bay, the Japanese government begins to discuss the appropriate response to what has occurred. As evacuations proceed for nearby islands and the rest of the tunnel, several people take videos that show a colossal creature moving about inside the steam. Rando Yaguchi, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, sees some of the videos and as the ministers are called into the Prime Minister’s office, he voices his opinion that a creature caused the incidents. Yaguchi’s opinion is scoffed at as the other ministers believe it is simply a volcanic eruption or a thermal vent. Later, as the ministers are gathered in the main conference room, news footage is shown on TV of a large tail emerging from the ocean. The ministers realize Yaguchi was right and quickly reconvene in the Prime Minister’s office. Inside, the ministers discuss the possible scenarios they have for dealing with the creature; leaving it alone, capturing it, or exterminating it. Several minsters vote for extermination, citing the financial losses that the country has already incurred. Several environmentalists and scientists have already called to say the creature should be captured for study, just as several biologists are summoned to help determine what the creature is. The Prime Minister decides that the creature should be destroyed, but as the work out the details of firing torpedoes inside the bay, the creature begins making it’s way inland via the rivers. After an unhelpful meeting with some scientists concerning what they creature is, the Prime Minister returns to his office and demands that they find out more about the creature. Yaguchi asks one of his aides if he has any ideas and he recommends his friend Hiromi Ogashira, a low level Deputy in the Environment Ministry’s Wildlife Division. Ogashira is brought in and after examining the footage they have, she says that it is aquatic but that it has the capability of moving on land. Her superior says she is mistaken and tells the Prime Minister that it can’t possibly support it’s weight on land and the Prime Minister chooses to go on TV and tell the people that the creature can’t possibly come on land but in the midst of his broadcast, an aide comes up to the Prime Minister that the creature has come ashore. The creature, a slow moving, quadrupedal, reptilian animal, begins plowing through the city as the Prime Minister is furious for being made a liar on TV. Returning to his office, the various ministers begin trying to figure out what to do now as an evacuation of the city is begun in preparation for a military strike. As any military response requires the PM’s authorization, the PM is reluctant to give it without knowing all the facts, as this is an unprecedented series of events. The PM gives his approval for declaring a national state of emergency, allowing the JSDF (Japanese Self Defense Force) to assist with evacuations while also attacking the creature. Suddenly, the creature stops moving forward briefly, causing everyone to wonder why, when the creature suddenly evolves into a bipedal creature. The JSDF assemble some attack helicopters to attack the creature but when civilians are seen still in the line of fire, the PM calls off the attack, while the creature roars out and heads back into Tokyo Bay. As the PM and ministers survey the damage, the JSDF begin searching the ocean for signs of the creature. Meanwhile, Yaguchi assembles a team of ministry officials and scientists who are all rebels, like himself, for the sole purpose of getting as much information on the creature as possible. When they try to figure out how the creature can sustain itself, Ogashira theorizes that the creature is powered by nuclear fission. Another member of the task force dismisses the idea but when geiger counters indicate radiation spikes along the creature’s path, they realize she is correct. Yaguchi goes to see the chief ministers and tell them this news and they agree to talk to the PM and warn the public about it. Meanwhile, a Kayoko Ann Patterson, a special envoy to the US Foreign Ambassador, requests a meeting with Yaguchi. Patterson asks for Yaguchi’s help in finding Goro Maki, a disgraced Japanese professor who predicted the arrival of the creature years ago. After a quick search, they learn that Maki’s boat was the one abandoned in the bay when the creature first appeared. Yaguchi informs Patterson of this and shows her the file that Maki had on board. Patterson shows Yaguchi her own copy of Maki’s work, where Yaguchi sees that Maki had called the creature Godzilla. Meeting with the rest of Yaguchi’s team, Patterson explains that 60 years ago, radioactive material was illegally dumped into the sea and Maki was one of the men assigned to find a way to handle it. Meanwhile, an unidentified aquatic creature managed to survive the radiation and thrive on it, mutating into the creature that would become Godzilla. Using this new information, Yaguchi’s team try to figure out how to stop Godzilla and when one member realizes that Godzilla has a blood-cooling system for all of the heat it gives off, they theorize that a blood coagulating agent might be able to immobilize him. When Godzilla resurfaces and is seen to be even larger than before, evacuations begin while the JSDF mobilize to attack him. The JSDF uses helicopters, tanks, and artillery to attack Godzilla but their weapons have no effect. When they begin using bombs on Godzilla, it appears to be working as Godzilla starts to turn away but Godzilla simply changed course to attack the JSDF, then continues making it’s way into Tokyo. With the JSDF unable to stop it, the Defense Minister suggests they ask the US for help in dealing with Godzilla. As Godzilla heads towards the capital, the PM and the other minsters are told to evacuate. While the PM and the senior ministers head to the roof to await a helicopter, Yaguchi and his team evacuate by car but due to gridlock, are forced to go by foot. The US sends some B2 bombers, which manage to injure Godzilla with their bombs on their initial run but Godzilla’s dorsal fins begin to glow and Godzilla begins spewing smoke, then fire, and finally a radioactive beam from his mouth, which he uses to destroy one of the bombers. As the other bombers begin a second run, Godzilla fires beams out from his dorsal fins, destroying the bombs as well as the bombers, plus the helicopter carrying the PM and the senior ministers, before the beams stop and Godzilla, having used up a large amount of energy, is rendered immobile. As the Japanese government names an acting PM and struggles to deal with the wounded, Yaguchi’s team is joined by US scientists, as a result of a deal struck by Patterson. While they continue to work on a way to freeze Godzilla, they study the genetic samples they obtained and learn that Godzilla can reproduce asexually, as well as evolve into a flying creature or a smaller creature if it so chooses. The US recommends using nuclear weapons to destroy Godzilla and the United Nations informs the acting PM that they will authorize the use of nuclear weapons if Japan can’t kill Godzilla themselves. When readings suggest that Godzilla will be mobile again in 15 days, Yaguchi’s team is racing against time to try and finally decipher Maki’s notes regarding Godzilla. Patterson uses her connections, at the risk of her career, to help Yaguchi with his plan to freeze Godzilla. Using unmanned trains as bombs, they send them crashing into Godzilla, then use drones to attack him as he starts moving, forcing Godzilla to expend his energy defending himself. Though the radiation levels exceed what they projected, they continue the attack until Godzilla is unable to fire his radioactive beam, then use controlled detonations to drop buildings on him, briefly immobilizing him and allowing cranes with spray nozzles to approach him and begin spraying the coagulant into his mouth. Godzilla recovers and destroys the cranes but the JSDF use the remaining train bombs to bring him down again, allowing more cranes to begin dispensing the rest of the coagulant. Godzilla destroys the cranes and gets back to his feet but as he starts to move, he freezes up and Yaguchi and the rest of the team breathe a sigh of relief as they managed to freeze Godzilla with one hour to spare before the nuclear bomb would have been deployed. As the government works on reorganizing and rebuilding itself, the UN calls off the strike against Japan, but gets the new Japanese government to agree that if Godzilla reawakens, they authorize the use of a thermonuclear strike against it. As Yaguchi and Patterson say their goodbyes, Godzilla is seen in the distance but a close up of his tail reveals humanoid figures frozen in place as they were beginning to emerge from his tail.

Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi — and altogether entertaining — return to the monster’s classic creature-feature roots.” The 31st entry in the Godzilla franchise and the 29th movie produced by Toho Pictures, the movie was a re-imagining of Godzilla’s origins, while drawing some inspiration from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The movie was a box office hit in Japan, debuting at #1 in it’s opening weekend, knocking Finding Dory from the top spot and out performing 2014’s Godzilla by 23%. The movie was given a one week limited release from October 11-18 in the U.S. and Canada but due to the demand, the release was extended to the 27th. Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) would go on to earn $77.9 million off of a $15 million budget, making it the highest-grossing Japanese produced Godzilla movie in the franchise and the highest grossing live action Japanese film of 2016.

While this wasn’t what I initially expected, this was still a great movie to watch. The acting was good, with Hiroki Hasegawa (Yaguchi) and Satomi Ishihara (Patterson) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was interesting as instead of focusing on Godzilla, it focused more on how the government would respond to such an event. This was pretty interesting in it’s own way because it showed how sometimes all the red tape cause more inaction than actual action in an emergency. I also like the origin idea for Godzilla they had in this movie and I thought the premise that it could constantly evolve was an interesting twist. The special effects were pretty good but there were one or two moments that actually had me going “WTF”, such as when he starts shooting a radioactive beam out of his tail. Still, almost every Godzilla movie is a great movie to watch and this one is no exception.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Standard
movie, movie review

February 25th, 2017 Movie – Gorath

gorath

It has been way too long since I have watched a new Toho kaiju movie. Well, let me rephrase that. It has been WWWAAAYYY too long since I have watched a classic Toho kaiju movie for the first time. Now today’s movie is a kaiju movie in a very loose sense of the word, as there is a giant monster in it but it is not the main focus of the movie and it is only on screen for about 6 minutes. I have known about this movie for a long time but honestly never put a whole lot of effort into picking it up, and every time I did consider it, I would find the American version, which had cut the scenes involving Maguma (the giant monster) from the movie. Finally, I went to one of the sites I go in order to find rare movies and they had both the US and Japanese version of this movie available and I decided to finally obtain a copy. So let’s see if this was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Gorath.

The plot: In Japan, the space rocket JX-1 Hawk is launched from the Mt. Fuji Interstellar Exploration Agency launch site and proceeds on it’s mission towards Saturn. As they pass the moon, they are radioed further instructions about their mission, which is to examine a new planetoid, called Gorath, which has entered the solar system and is determined to be 6000 times the mass of the Earth. As they pass Saturn, they pick up Gorath on their sensors and begin collecting data on it but quickly learn that not only is Gorath smaller than they thought, roughly 3/4 the size of the Earth, but they end up caught in it’s powerful gravitational field. Unable to escape, they collect as much data as they can and send it back to Mt. Fuji before their rocket is destroyed. Back on Earth, the collected data is studied by astronomers and they learn that Gorath is on a collision course with Earth. Scientists from Japan and other nation members of the United Nations work together to try and solve the problem and essentially break it down to two possible ideas; destroying Gorath or moving the Earth. The UN asks that Japan sends the JX-2 Eagle rocket up to further study Gorath, and the captain goes to collect the flight crew, who were out celebrating the assignment. Instead of celebrating, Tatsuma Kanai goes to see Takiko Nomura, who he has a crush on, and gives her a gift as he doesn’t know whether he will survive his mission but she tells him to take it back. As the JX-2 takes off, construction of giant rockets begin at the South Pole, with all of the world’s nations supplying workers and materials for the project. The rockets are being built in a 600 kilometer radius, 500 meters below the surface, and when activated, will produce a force equal to 6.6 billion megatons, with the plan being to move the Earth 400,000 kilometers out of it’s orbit until Gorath passes, then move it back to it’s normal orbit. Out in space, the JX-2 nears Gorath and discovers that it’s gravitational field has become even stronger, due to it’s increased mass as debris from objects striking it have made it larger. Kanai is sent out in a survey capsule to collect more data and warned of the increased dangers but he chooses to continue with his mission. As he observes Gorath, his ship is damaged from meteors that are being drawn towards Gorath but he successfully manages to get away and return to the ship. As the crew bring him back on board, they discover that the light from explosions of the meteors hitting Gorath has caused Kanai to lose his memory and the ship makes it’s way back to the Space Stations orbiting Earth. Back on Earth, construction is finished on the engines and they are quickly activated. The rockets work and the space stations report back to Earth that the Earth is successfully moving out of it’s orbit. As the Earth continues to move, Dr. Tazawa, the project leader, stops in Tokyo to speak with Dr. Kono and warns him that due to Gorath’s increased mass, their initial projections won’t be enough and they need more rockets in order to save the Earth, but leaves with Tomoko when tempers start to flare. After he leaves, Kono admits to Kensuke, Tomoko’s grandfather, that Tazawa is right about Gorath’s mass but that there isn’t anything they can do about it. The JX-2 is ordered to check on Gorath’s course, then head back to Earth and as it leaves, the space stations are called back to Earth as well. Meanwhile, the heat from the rockets has caused a giant walrus called Maguma to emerge from the Earth and it destroys part of the research station on the surface. Kono calls Kensuke and asks him to accompany him to the South Pole to examine what happened. Kensuke examines the blood found at the wreckage and determines it is proof of an animal attack. Taking a small VTOL craft to examine the area, Tazawa, Kono, and Kensuke spot Maguma in a ravine and use the craft’s laser to bury it in a landslide. As they land to investigate, Maguma breaks free and so they are forced to take off and, in order to keep it from destroying the rockets, use the laser to kill Maguma. Out in space, the JX-2 watches as Saturn’s rings are pulled towards Gorath, increasing it’s mass even more. As Gorath gets closer, people are warned about possible effects Gorath will have on the Earth, such as a rise in tides around portions of the planet. Tomoko is helping Takiko pack so she can stay with them when Kanai, and two other astornauts, show up. The astronauts had hoped that seeing Takiko would help him regain his memory but when it doesn’t seem to work, Tomoko suggests that he stay with them as being around them might help him. When Gorath nears the Earth, the moon is drawn into it’s orbit and destroyed. Tokyo is flooded by a tsunami while the JX-2 and the space stations at the Mt. Fuji launch site are destroyed by a landslide. At the South Pole, flooding occurs that causes some of the rockets to be extinguished and people worry if they have managed to successfully move the Earth to safety. As Gorath reaches the closest point to Earth, the images of the star on TV causes Kanai to black out but when he regains consciousness, his memories have returned. As time counts down, Gorath passes safely by the Earth, and the people all celebrate the good news. At the South Pole, Tazawa celebrates briefly before setting in on his next assignment, returning the Earth to it’s proper orbit. Meanwhile, Kanai, Takiko, Tomoko, Kensuke, and some others all return to the flooded Tokyo and Kanai says they can rebuild it into a model city, as the news anchor suggest that the way the citizens of Earth worked together to avoid destruction should be a model of how they do things in the future.

This was actually a much better movie than I expected it to be. The acting was pretty good and, although I watched the subtitled version for review purposes, the dubbing in the US version wasn’t that bad. The plot was actually pretty good and definitely made for a good sci-fi thriller. Considering when this was made, I kind of think that this might have been some inspiration for some of the apocalyptic movies later on, such as Armageddon or Asteroid Vs. Earth. In fact, there was honestly no need to include a giant monster to make this movie entertaining but the producer insisted so Ishiro Honda (the director) reluctantly agreed to do so. The special effects tended to be a mix of good and bad, with several scenes involving Gorath and it drawing objects close to it, as well as some of the explosion as the objects collided with it, being really well done, but some of the other scenes with the models, such as the rockets flying past the planets, or Maguma itself were a little weak. A good sci-fi movie that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Standard