Archive for Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Review (Spoilers)

Posted in Kaiju, The King of Monsters with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2019 by MONSTERMINIONS

Godzilla: KOTM (opened last night in most U.S. theaters) is not nearly as bad as most critics would suggest. I do agree that it is not a very good film, but it has some special moments. In the Big G pantheon I’d put it somewhere above the weak early 1970’s Toho films and below what I see as a vastly superior film in Toho’s Shin Gojira (2016) (which made me think). This new film by Michael Dougherty (Krampus; Trick ‘r Treat) is an improvement over Gareth Edward’s insipid predecessor. My main gripe with this new film is the choice of depicting the Titans (Kaiju or proper Daikaiju) at night. Slow up the battle scenes in a well lit environment so we can see the monsters! I had the same beef with Pacific Rim (2013).

The monster designs are fine. Godzilla has been tweaked with larger dorsal “sail” fins and now has splayed feet with claws (remember 2014 had pachyderm feet —ugh?). Mothra has the most inspired design and a few surprises. Rodan is now a fire-demon, but Dougherty pays homage to his Toho heritage by having a volcanic origin. Ghidorah (also called Monster Zero, in a tip of the hat to Toho) is impressive and arguably the most destructive depiction of that monster in any film. Early on it serves as the alpha controlling 17 other monsters.

SPOILER

These were disappointing, including a mammoth-inspired quadruped, a spider-like arthropod, another MUTO, and a Gamera-like beast that looks like a lumbering mountain. Toho wisely licensed only a few Kaiju. Sorry no Angurus! No Jet Jaguar! I’m certain there are plenty of easter eggs references in the Latin names depicted occasionally in the film.

Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, another Toho homage) is always good and he is fine in this film, and he has an important part. David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins are entirely wasted and amount to cameos. Bradley Whitford, as one of the Monarch team, says a lot of really meaningless dialogue and stupid comic insertions. The cliché broken family unit of Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown (who I usually like, but not in this film) failed to engage my interest. If each of Monster Zero’s heads chewed the three up I would have cheered.

The score (Bear McCreary) is a highlight. Yes, we hear Akira Ifukube’s famous Godzilla theme. I also thought the sound effects and creature sounds were inspired. Overall the monster scenes deliver (especially the opening Antartica encounter) and will please fans of the genre.

SPOILER

Of course the Big G lights up and Monster Zero sorta dies, but in a post credit scene some DNA harvesters, led by GOT heavy Dance, find one of Ghidorah’s heads. This all leads up to 2020 and KK vs. G (or is it the other way around?). I see this as a tag team with the gorilla and atomic lizard taking on a cybernetic Ghidorah (aka Mecha-Ghidorah). I’ll be there I am sure.

2 1/2 to 3 out of 5. Grab some popcorn and have fun.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Posted in Miscellania with tags , , , on July 20, 2012 by MONSTERMINIONS

Last night at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, a 24-year old man wearing a gas mask walked into Theater 9, in Aurora, Colorado, tossed smoke bombs and opened fired on the patrons. At least 12 people were killed and several others injured. I don’t believe bleak films like The Dark Knight Rises inspire people to kill others, but I sometimes wonder if film makers are pushing the limit. Perhaps Batman is best viewed as a graphic novel.

While watching the show at a midnight marquee several hundred miles away in Michigan, I watched the film uncomfortably surrounded by obnoxious, rude and unfunny teens. I don’t like crowded places. I prefer to watch films in the afternoon (the earlier the better) to avoid packed houses. Watching the film, I was perplexed, not exactly knowing what I was seeing —was this a super hero film, gritty and violent urban crime drama, or political commentary? Christopher Nolan’s final installment of the Batman legend is a vile film populated with confusing characters and unmoving leads in Batman (Christian Bale) and nemesis Bane (played by Tom Hardy). Even Anne Hathaway’s much publicized Catwoman (she looks good on a Bat-cycle) seems detached from her character. Folks expecting to see a witty, funny and action-packed film like The Avengers will be disappointed. The Dark Knight Rises has too many flaws for it to endure as a classic of the genre.

  • Flaw Number 1: I couldn’t understand what Bane was saying. It’s very important that the masked villain be intelligible. Remember Darth Vader? He too had a breathing apparatus (if that is what is indeed positioned on Bane’s face and head), but we could understand him.
  • Flaw Number 2: Bane’s breathing apparatus *SPOILER* Yes, I too figured that Batman was gonna pummel that thing.
  • Flaw Number 3: Christian Bale obviously wanted to end this trilogy. Perhaps he was method acting. For what it’s worth, his Batman isn’t very interesting. For that matter, neither was Bane.
  • Flaw Number 4: Too many characters. Why is Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul needed for this story? Why does Catwoman need a lesbian plaything/pupil? Why is Matthew Modine needed as a Gordon’s subordinate?
  • Flaw Number 5: The secret to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is we actually like Hannibal Lecter. We knew what he was about. Nolan/Hardy never fully reveals Bane’s motivation. Does he seek social upheaval? What’s this guy about?
  • Flaw Number 6: Why doesn’t batman use his utility belt on Bane? He’s not very smart. *SPOILER* Catwoman just blasts the guy away.

Perhaps I am too negative. The Dark Knight is well-constructed and ties up the loose ends. The opening action sequence is a humdinger. I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the impressionable Officer Blake. His character evolves into a surprise. Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman return and they are always solid. I even enjoyed the cameo appearance by Cillian Murphy (as the Scarecrow/Judge).

If only Nolan had trimmed out 5 characters, changed Bane’s head-gear to better reveal his face, had competent sound people (Hardy sounded plenty articulate in Inception), and fleshed out Bane’s character a bit more…

Batman **, Catwoman **1/2, Bane *, Supporting Cast ***, Action ***, Cinematography ***, Story so so **. I donno. I’d give this film **1/2 out of ****.