Also known as: Gojira X Mekagojira (original Japanese title), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 3 (alternative English title) Release Date: November 2nd, 2002 (Tokyo International Film Festival) Directed by: Masaaki Tezuka Written by: Wataru Mimura Music by: Michiru Oshima Cast: Yumiko Shaku, Shin Takuma, Kou Takasugi, Yuusuke Tomoi, Kumi Mizuno, Akira Nakao
Toho Co. Ltd., 88 Minutes
“You gave me strength. So did the others. No life is worthless. I believe you now.” – Akane Yashiro
The Millennium Era of the Godzilla franchise is definitely my least favorite. However, the films aren’t bad, they’re just kind of meh, overall.
While people seem to really like this film’s direct predecessor, I actually liked this one a wee bit more. I think it had a lot to do with feeling less convoluted and not bogged down by so much fantastical mysticism.
This is just a sci-fi action flick with a giant beast and a giant robot. Even though the Mechagodzilla gimmick had already been done to death, by this point, this version of that type of story felt like it worked. I also love the redesigned version of the robot, now called Kiryu.
The plot also feels like it was lifted from an Ultraman series more than it feels like a rehash of previous Godzilla plots. Although, the duo of Mechagodzilla films from the Heisei Era had similar plot setups.
The reason I liken this to Ultraman is that it features a government task force that is fighting the kaiju threat. Instead of calling on Ultraman and various suped-up vehicles, the ace pilot in this story controls Mechagodzilla (or Kiryu).
The human elements of the story are pretty boring, though. The action scenes and monster battles are good, however.
But if I am being honest, this is almost completely forgettable in the grand kaiju-sized scheme of Godzilla things. Honestly, this whole era, other than the series’ finale, Final Wars, is pretty forgettable.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: other Godzilla films of the Millennium era.
I’ve already reviewed the regular Wrestling Gold series of classic matches. This one-off release, though, features slightly more modern footage, as it showcases the earliest marquee matches of some of wrestling’s biggest stars from around the turn of the millennium.
Everything here is taken from Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Jim Cornette’s promotion from the early ’90s. Because of that, he also hosts this DVD, just as he hosted the other Wrestling Gold releases alongside Dave Meltzer. There is no Meltzer here, however.
This is a compilation of about twenty matches and segments of some of the biggest stars at the time of this DVD’s original release. A lot of big stars worked in SMW, so this is essentially a greatest hits of that promotion’s biggest stars.
The match quality is fairly decent but the overall collection is a bit of a mixed bag. Still, it’s worth checking out if you’re into wrestling history and seeing some of the top wrestlers of all-time before they were mainstream names.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: the Wrestling Gold DVD series and other wrestling compilations of the territories in the ’70s and ’80s.
Also known as: Spider-Man: The Motion Picture (working title) Release Date: April 30th, 2002 (Philippines premiere) Directed by: Sam Raimi Written by: David Koepp Based on:Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko Music by: Danny Elfman Cast: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Joe Manganiello, Bill Nunn, Elizabeth Banks, Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Randy Savage, Octavia Spencer, Macy Gray, Lucy Lawless, Jim Norton
Marvel Entertainment, Laura Ziskin Productions, Columbia Pictures, 121 Minutes
“Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben
Spider-Man blew my mind when it came out in 2002, as the vast majority of comic book movies before it were terrible. Also, Marvel didn’t have a good track record up to this point, other than 2000’s X-Men, which was just one movie that seemed to have taken a step in the right direction.
Sam Raimi made magic, however, and seeing this for the first time in a very long time, I’ve got to say that the magic is still there. Frankly, I loved this movie in 2002 and I love it now in 2020.
Side note: how the hell is this 18 years-old already?
From top to bottom, this is a solid picture. Sure, I have some issues with the creative direction but it achieved what it set out to do, which was to tell a great origin story, close to the source material, and to entertain and give fans something spectacular.
On top of that, it’s well acted, everyone plays their parts well and even if Tobey Maguire wasn’t 100 percent perfect as Spider-Man or Peter Parker, it’s hard not to love him and become invested in his journey. I’m from the camp that really liked Tobey Maguire and I still think he’s the best live-action Spider-Man, overall.
I also thought that Willem Dafoe was genius casting as Norman Osborn a.k.a. the Green Goblin. While I’m not a fan of the Goblin’s suit in the movie, as a character, his was pretty close to perfect. It actually kind of sucks that they only really got to use him in one film but the story that emerged from his demise makes up for it, as these movies become just as much about Harry Osborn’s journey, as they are Peter Parker’s.
This is just so well crafted and executed that it set the bar really high for the series. It would actually be eclipsed by the second movie, which I once considered a near masterpiece. We’ll see how I still feel about it in another week or so. Let’s try not to talk about the third film until I review that one. I have a feeling that time did it some favors in spite of its creative misfires.
Anyway, the emotional high points of this movie still hit me right in the feels and regardless of having seen this multiple times, it’s all still very effective. The Uncle Ben stuff really feels like a punch to the gut, even if you know it’s coming and you’ve already experienced it.
Apart from the Goblin costume, my only real gripe about the movie is the overly copper look to it. It’s not terrible but I’m not a fan of everything sort of looking like it was shot at sunset, excluding the night scenes. This just feels really filtered and overly vivid. It’s an obvious creative choice but it’s not one that makes the visual presentation look more like the comics. Well, maybe the comics of the time but it kind of detracts from what could’ve been a more colorful, more cheerful look to the film, more akin to the classic artwork and tone of Steve Ditko.
One thing that really stood out to me quite a bit was Danny Elfman’s score. What happened to movie scores? There really aren’t very many that are that memorable in modern times and this one just really points that out, as it’s dynamic, energetic, fun and I’d say, by this point, iconic. While it’s not on the level of Elfman’s Batman scores, it feels more refined and complex and it doesn’t come off as derivative of his older work, which some of his scores do.
Spider-Man still is one of the best superhero movies ever made. I think it’ll maintain that status forever, as it helped push Marvel properties down the right cinematic path and it exceeded 2000’s X-Men by quite a bit.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: the other two films in this mostly great series.
Release Date: 2002 Directed by: Tom Thurman Written by: Tom Marksbury Cast: John Ford (archive footage), John Wayne (archive footage), Kris Kristofferson (narrator), Peter Bogdanovich, Dan Ford, Leonard Maltin, Oliver Stone,
FBN Productions, Starz! Encore Entertainment, 56 Minutes
I fired this up on a rainy afternoon because I saw it on the Starz app and because I mostly like the films of John Ford.
It’s a fairly interesting documentary that delves into the man’s war experience and how it helped shape the pictures he would go on to make as one of Hollywood’s premier directors.
My only real issue with the documentary is that it is pretty slow and boring. The subject matter is engaging but the presentation almost puts you to sleep.
This was relatively short though, just being under an hour and it is worth checking out if you admire John Ford’s filmmaking style, especially in regards to his war pictures.
I wouldn’t call this a necessary TV documentary, even for fans of the man’s work. Honestly, it just makes me hope that someone will come along and make a more comprehensive and energetic film on the great director’s career.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other Starz filmmaking documentaries.
Also known as: Night of the Werewolves (working title) Release Date: March 22nd, 2002 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival) Directed by: Neil Marshall Written by: Neil Marshall Music by: Mark Thomas Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham
Kismet Entertainment Group, The Noel Gay Motion Picture Company, The Carousel Picture Company, Victor Film Company, Pathé, 105 Minutes
“We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch.” – Sgt. Harry Wells
I wasn’t aware of this film until a few years ago but I’m glad that I came across it and checked it out.
To start, I dig werewolf stories but I also really like Sean Pertwee, now most famous for playing Alfred Pennyworth on Gotham, as well as Kevin McKidd, a guy that fanboys were hoping would be cast as Thor before the job went to Chris Hemsworth.
The film takes place in the Scottish Highlands and follows a military unit as they are doing some exercises in the woods. The soldiers soon discover that they are in the country with a pack of werewolves and their training mission gets all too serious. Eventually, they hole up in a suspiciously abandoned house and have to fight off the werewolves that are trying to invade. Primarily, it’s a waiting game, as they need to survive until morning.
The plot has some twists to it, most of which are predictable but that doesn’t make this a bad picture. In fact, it’s still a lot of fun, plays into the werewolf tropes pretty hard but still gives us something cool and unique.
I also like the fact that the werewolves are bipedal, which are my favorite type. In this film, they are large, tall and damn vicious. They almost appear to be wolf versions of the Deathclaws from the Fallout video game series.
Additionally, the special effects, which are almost all practical, physical effects, are impressive.
There are even some funny gags in the film like when a soldier is trying to hold his guts into his body but the dog in the house starts tugging on an intestine.
In the end, this is just a really neat movie that probably deserves more recognition and fanfare than what it has. Pertwee and McKidd were solid together and I really liked Emma Cleasby, the film’s sole female lead.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with:Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Howling, Ginger Snaps and The Company of Wolves.
Also known as: Blade 2: Bloodlust (working title) Release Date: March 21st, 2002 (premiere) Directed by: Guillermo del Toro Written by: David S. Goyer Based on:Blade by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus, Luke Goss, Danny John-Jules, Donnie Yen, Matt Schulze
Marvel Enterprises, Amen Ra Films, Imaginary Forces, New Line Cinema, 117 Minutes
“They tortured me almost to death, and then let me heal in a vat of blood so they could go at it again. Sorry sons of bitches could’ve at least fixed my damn leg while they were at it.” – Whistler
I think I liked Blade II when I saw it in theaters, which was the last time I saw it. However, seeing it with 2019 eyes, this thing is a total failure when compared to the solidness of the first picture.
Guillermo del Toro directed this, which means something to a lot of people, but if I’m being honest, del Toro rarely wows me. I don’t know why. I like his style to a point but I think he’s a severely over hyped filmmaker and his faults are really apparent in this movie.
The first movie in this franchise had superb character development and world building. This just takes all of that and makes it darker for the sake of making it darker and it adds in so much of del Toro’s narrative and visual tropes that its a flat movie with flat, predictable characters that act more like caricatures than real people. Blade II is a perfect example of style over substance.
This also has a new vampire threat that is very del Toro-esque and while these new, more dangerous vampires should be scary, they’re just kind of weird and go so far outside of what a typical vampire is that they feel like a different type of monster altogether. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I just don’t like these creatures and they seem pretty generic and lame. Plus, they all basically look the same, which is just shirtless, bald and pale things. If I’m being honest, it’s as if del Toro is trying to channel some of the visual cues from Dark City‘s baddies while adding in a bit more fright factor with their jaws splitting open and revealing vampire vagina faces like the aliens from the Predator franchise.
While there are several actors I like in this beyond Snipes and Kristofferson, all of them are poorly used. Ron Perlman is underwhelming, Norman Reedus is annoying, Donnie Yen is wasted and Danny John-Jules feels like a watered down and less fabulous version of his most famous character, the Cat from Red Dwarf.
I didn’t like the bad guys, I didn’t like the plot twists that one can see from ten miles away and there was nothing here that justifies the need for a sequel.
I’m trying to think of one scene or sequence that stands out in the movie and I’ve got nothing. This is just an almost two-hour music video full of late ’90s techno and industrial scene cliches. And the whole shebang is derivative as fuck.
Rating: 5.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Blade movies.
Release Date: December 5th, 2002 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Peter Jackson Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson Based on:The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien Music by: Howard Shore Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean (Extended Edition), Andy Serkis, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, Miranda Otto, Bernard Hill
New Line Cinema, WingNut Films, The Saul Zaentz Company, 179 Minutes, 235 Minutes (DVD Extended Edition), 228 Minutes (Blu-ray Extended Edition), 171 Minutes (DVD Widescreen Edition)
“From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth… Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side… Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time… The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the earth… But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is done.” – Gandalf
I have seen all of these movies probably a dozen times but it has been several years now since revisiting them. From memory, I always thought of The Two Towers as the weakest of the trilogy but it is still a masterpiece and a perfect film for what it is: a bridge between the beginning and the end.
It also ups the ante quite a bit and is more epic in scale, as the two final battles alone are bigger than anything we saw in the first film, apart from the intro that showed the fall of Sauron millennia earlier.
But, really, the climax to this motion picture is absolutely amazing. If you are a fan of epic battles, this does not disappoint. If you are a fan of fantasy, this should definitely satisfy your palate.
All the key players are back and that includes Sean Bean’s Boromir, who died in the previous movie. Granted, he is only in a couple of flashbacks in the Extended Edition but it’s great to see him and to get more context in regards to how Gondor is run and the relationship between Boromir, Faramir and their father.
The return of Gandalf and the shift in power away from Saruman and to him is a really great moment that helps turn the tide towards the light. Ian McKellan was superb and his character’s evolution was incredible. The continuation of his battle with the Balrog is one of my favorite cinematic moments of all-time.
It is Viggo Mortensen who steals the show, however. While he was great in the first picture and was perfectly cast, he truly shines here and anyone watching this film would want to follow him, which is great considering what his role is in the goings on of Middle Earth and how this series ends in the following film.
If you are going to watch these films, you should always watch the Extended Editions, as they provide more story, better context and a heftier helping of the meat and potatoes. The Extended Edition of The Two Towers offers a lot of extra footage that isn’t in the original theatrical version. It isn’t so much that it makes it a different film but it certainly makes it a better one.
The Two Towers is perfect. It is a masterpiece like the other two pictures in the trilogy. It is the weakest, sure, but I’d rather be the weakest film in this trilogy than the best film in the Transformers series.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: the other two Lord of the Rings films, as well as The Hobbit trilogy.
Also known as: Der Vampyr (Austria), The Hypnotist (UK) Release Date: December 3rd, 1927 Directed by: Tod Browning Written by: Waldemar Young, Joseph W. Farnham Based on:The Hypnotist by Tod Browning Cast: Lon Chaney Sr., Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall, Polly Moran, Edna Tichenor, Claude King
There probably aren’t many people alive who have seen London After Midnight, as the only surviving print of this 1927 film went up in flames during the 1965 MGM vault fire.
The version of this film that I watched was a reconstruction, which originally aired on Turner Classic Movies back in 2002. So this is a review of that and not the actual finished movie itself. So the final rating below doesn’t reflect the actual film, as I haven’t seen it.
That being said, the reconstruction was done as best as it could be with the material that was available. They worked off of the script and used production stills to represent the scenes.
While this doesn’t have the life of a moving picture and doesn’t really capture the full performance of the legendary Lon Chaney Sr., the stills do a good job of painting the right kind of picture and showing you the tone within the film.
I wasn’t crazy about the film’s score but it does feel accurate to the scores of the time when this originally came out. It just sounds a bit generic, overall.
If you are a Chaney fan, you should give this a watch because it’s as close as one can get to experiencing this film, which was considered to be one of Chaney’s greatest performances.
Hopefully, one day, another print will resurface but being that it’s been lost for 53 years, that may be very unlikely.
Recently, some footage was found but it was just scenes clipped for a trailer. Still, maybe an updated reconstruction with that footage will be edited together in the future.
Rating: 6.5/10 Pairs well with: other Lon Chaney Sr. horror pictures of the 1920s.
Also known as: Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned (complete title), Interview with the Vampire II (working title) Release Date: January 10th, 2002 (Côte d’Ivoire) Directed by: Michael Rymer Written by: Scott Abbott, Michael Petroni Based on:The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice Music by: Richard Gibbs, Jonathan Davis Cast: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Paul McGann, Vincent Perez, Claudia Black, Lena Olin,
Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Material Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures, 101 Minutes
“You’re beautiful to me because you’re human. Your frailty. Your short years. Your heart. All that suddenly seems more precious than anything I’ve ever known.” – Lestat
I think that most fans of Anne Rice’s work were happy with the 1994 film version of Interview With the Vampire. It would have been nice to see her Vampire Chronicles continue with that same cast and team but its sequel, The Vampire Lestat, never really materialized.
Eventually, Rice was pushed out of the project, the studio took over and we got this abomination, 8 years later.
I remember seeing the trailer for this and almost losing my shit in the theater. How could something so perfect be followed up with something so flawed and soulless? I never really wanted to watch the movie but my girlfriend, at the time, brought it home from Blockbuster one night and I was subjected to this heinously inferior creation that set adaptations of Rice’s work back decades. In fact, we’re still waiting for more Vampire Chronicles adaptations, 16 years later.
So what’s wrong with this movie? Short answer: everything. Long answer: read the next several paragraphs.
To start, this was made without the care that Neil Jordan and Anne Rice had with Interview With the Vampire. In fact, this doesn’t even have respect for the work it is based on. It was a quick, cheap and sad attempt at cashing in on something people craved without any wherewithal of what made Interview so damn good in the first place. Frankly, I’m pretty sure they never really cared about that to begin with and chances are, the filmmakers didn’t even watch that film or they found it boring because it wasn’t littered with nu metal or rap rock songs.
This was a film that tried so fucking hard to be edgy but it failed to understand what edginess is and that it really had no place being tied to the source material, as Interview was edgy in its own way. A way that showcased its eloquence and fit within the style of what that film was. Queen of the Damned was the forced edginess that makes most people laugh like when they see wealthy white teenagers wearing t-shirts that say “fuck you” or “suck my dick”. It’s cringe edginess.
A big example of this type of cringe edginess comes in the form of the film’s music. In the books, Lestat’s music is described to be otherworldly and it’s powerful and magical enough to resurrect a long dead vampire queen from thousands of years of sleep. So how did they make this work in the film? They didn’t. Lestat’s music was nothing but Korn songs that the actor lip synced. Fucking Korn. Now I don’t hate the band but c’mon, Korn? Really?!
Also, the film was terribly cast. I guess Stuart Townsend has the look part down but he certainly didn’t have the presence of Tom Cruise’s Lestat. And really, on paper, Cruise looked miscast but he made it work and put in one of the greatest performances of his career. But we got Townsend, a guy who also failed at being a convincing Dorian Gray, another literary character of greatness. He would ruin that character a year later in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Then you have Aaliyah, the top billed star who only appears in brief glimpses and not in full until the last half hour of the movie. Her accent was terrible, her inability to act was baffling and nothing about her seemed alluring or threatening. Once her and Lestat do come together, there’s no character development to their story and there is absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. It’s really embarrassing to watch.
You also have the parliament of vampires or whatever they’re called. Most of them looked ridiculous and like they were handpicked out of a crowd at a My Chemical Romance concert, even though I’m not sure if that band even existed yet.
This movie hurts my brain. I didn’t want to revisit it but since I just recently got reacquainted with the greatness that is Interview With a Vampire, I felt that I should re-familiarize myself with this, which really is the antithesis to everything its predecessor was.
Do yourself a favor. Never watch this. It’s beyond bad. It’s not even the sort of bad that becomes good. It’s the worst kind of film and shouldn’t exist.
Rating: 2.25/10 Pairs well with: other early ’00s vampire movies that were far from great like Dracula 2000 and The Breed.
Also known as: Resident Evil: The Movie, Resident Evil: Ground Zero (working titles), Biohazard (Japanese English title), Resident Evil – Genesis (Switzerland) Release Date: March 12th, 2002 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson Based on:Resident Evil by Capcom Music by: Marco Beltrami, Marilyn Manson Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon, Jason Issacs (narrator/cameo)
Constantin Film, New Legacy Films, Pathé, 100 Minutes
“You’re all going to die down here.” – The Red Queen
I never saw this when it came out and I didn’t have much urge to, as I wasn’t invested in the video game series and it looked like a low budget action horror film that didn’t pay much attention to what the first game was. Based off of my experience playing the original Resident Evil, when I originally saw the trailer for this, I was baffled by it.
However, this has gone on to spawn a half dozen movies and is the most successful film franchise based on a video game, so I figured I’d kill 100 minutes and actually give it a watch, 16 years later.
Well, it’s not terrible but it also isn’t very good. It had some decent bits in it but most of it felt as soulless as the zombies roaming in and out of the picture.
I guess the worst part of it all was the acting. Milla Jovovich was actually pretty decent and Eric Mabius wasn’t bad but everyone else around them delivered their lines like a punch to the gut. Most of these character and the actors portraying them were pretty off putting. Michelle Rodriguez’s line delivery certainly takes the cake for acting cringe in this film.
The special effects are good when they are practical effects. The CGI employed in this is fucking terrible. From what I’ve seen from later films in the series, the creature CGI effects at least improve beyond this film. The Licker creature, which was the big bad of the movie, looked atrocious. The digital monsters looked like something from a SyFy movie but a SyFy movie when it was still 2002.
As far as a positives, I really liked the concept and the idea of the Hive, an underground tech heavy fortress controlled by an evil A.I. called the Red Queen. I felt like there was a lot that they could do with this but it was left pretty unexplored, other than a few key moments like when the task force got sliced to pieces by lasers. But this also felt like it was heavily borrowed from Cube.
This was a fast paced, fun movie. I’ll give it that. I wasn’t bored watching it or waiting for things to pick up. However, I did suffer from my mind going numb due to stupid characters making stupid decisions.
Also, another positive is that I feel like I should watch the other movies as well. I’ve never seen any of these in their entirety. I’ve seen bits and pieces of some of the sequels but I don’t even know which ones. It just seems like these movies are on FX all the time.
Anyway, I guess I’ll follow this up shortly with reviews of the other five Resident Evil movies.
Rating: 6.25/10 Pairs well with: the pther Resident Evil films, as well as other horror video game films from the same era: the Silent Hill series and Doom.