Film Review: Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Release Date: December 10th, 1994 (Japan)
Directed by: Kensho Yamashita
Written by: Hiroshi Kashiwabara
Music by: Takayuki Hattori
Cast: Megumi Odaka, Jun Hashizume, Zenkichi Yoneyama, Akira Emoto, Towako Yoshikawa, Kenji Sahara

Toho Co. Ltd., 108 Minutes

Review:

“Godzilla! I still have something to settle with you!” – Lt. Kiyoshi Sato

This was the second to last of the Heisei era Godzilla films and while they tried to up the ante and get really creative, it falls just short of the film before it: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.

The story picks up the plot threads about Godzilla Junior and the psychic chick from the previous movie. However, it mainly focuses on the arrival of SpaceGodzilla, who basically looks like a larger Godzilla with giant crystals protruding from its body. The creature’s origin isn’t clear in the film but it’s been theorized that he was born from Godzilla’s cells that ended up in the cosmos by either Mothra or Biollante’s spores. It’s believed that the cells were mixed with black hole radiation.

Anyway, the film also features the return of Moguera to the big screen. While this giant robot was never used in a Godzilla film before, it first appeared in Toho’s 1957 film The Mysterians. Moguera had then been used in other Godzilla related media. In the US, the giant robot is probably most recognized as an early boss in the original Nintendo Godzilla game.

In this film, Moguera, now spelled M.O.G.U.E.R.A. is created from the left over tech and armor that was salvaged from Mechagodzilla after its defeat in the previous movie. Since Mechagodzilla was created from left over parts of Mecha-King Ghidorah, it ties all these films together. And frankly, I like that Toho was really trying to keep a tight continuity in this era unlike the Millennium era that followed a few years later.

For the most part, the movie is engaging and enjoyable and it fits well within this series. My only real complaint about it is that the effects feel like they’re a step down from the previous few films. Maybe it’s due to the weird environment changes, like seeing the kaiju battle in a city populated with giant crystals and smoke, as opposed to detailed metropolitan miniatures but it does feel like SpaceGodzilla was created just to find a way to cut the budget in regards to effects.

Also, the Godzilla Junior suit is hokey as hell after it looked really good in the previous chapter.

In the end, though, I really like the baddie and seeing Moguera officially enter Godzilla cinematic canon was cool. But really, this is just more of the same when compared to the rest of the Heisei pictures.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Godzilla films from the Heisei era.

Comic Review: I Kill Giants

Published: 2008-2009
Written by: Joe Kelly
Art by: J.M. Ken Nimura

Image Comics, 221 Pages

Review:

This came and went and I never knew about it until recently when I heard about the film that’s based on it. So before checking out the movie, I figured I’d read the source material first. Plus, it was pretty cheap to pickup on Comixology.

I wasn’t expecting the story to get as serious as it did but at the same time, it’s pretty comedic. Honestly, it has the tone of a manga story and since it also features manga style art, it’s a much more Japanese feeling comic than a Western one.

That being said, I was fairly impressed by it and even if it wasn’t my total cup of tea, I liked the idea of a young girl with a massive hammer kicking the shit out of parasitic giants out to harm her community.

While the main character is strange, she’s likable and for the most part, relatable.

This gets into some heavy things but I also feel like this would really be enjoyed by pre-teens, close to the same age as the kids in the story.

I liked the art, the tone was different and refreshing and the characters kept my interest. Plus, the story was a neat concept that was well executed.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other American manga-esque comics.

Film Review: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Also known as: Godzilla vs. Super-Mechagodzilla (alternative English title)
Release Date: December 11th, 1993 (Japan)
Directed by: Takao Okawara
Written by: Wataru Mimura
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Masahiro Takashima, Ryoko Sano, Megumi Odaka, Yusuke Kawazu, Daijiro Harada, Kenji Sahara

Toho Co. Ltd., 108 Minutes

Review:

“The year is 1992 A.D… In order to try to counter the threat posed to the planet’s survival by Godzilla, Japan’s Counter-G Bureau recruited the most brilliant scientific brains in the world to build a fighting machine. The first machine was called Garuda, but its fighting capabilities were limited. A far more powerful machine was required. They salvaged a robot from the future, Mecha-King Ghidorah, in order to study its advanced technology. Its components were used to build a weapon to fight Godzilla. They called it Mechagodzilla.” – Narrator

I never disliked the Heisei era of Godzilla, although it’s never really hit the mark for me like the Showa stuff has. Although, revisiting these movies has been a fun experience and I think that their legacy has grown on me more over the years, as this film and the ones before it, were really exciting and really took this often times hokey franchise and made them edgier and darker without sacrificing the soul of the series.

These movies still feel like Godzilla movies in the best way but they feel a bit more grown up in how they don’t present the title character as a friendly monster looking out for Japan. They tap more into the sentiment of the original 1954 picture and keep him as a threat, even though he isn’t as bad as some of the more dangerous and deadly Heisei era kaiju.

In this tale, we see the Japanese government use the future tech left over from the defeated Mecha-King Ghidorah to create their own super powered, heavily armored defense kaiju: Mechagodzilla. I liked this approach to this era’s creation of the iconic monster and that it was cooler than just having Mechagodzilla being the superweapon of a hostile alien race. I also like that Kenji Sahara, a Toho legend, got to be in the cockpit of the mecha-kaiju.

This chapter in the Heisei universe also gives us its version of Rodan. I really love Rodan in this and not just because he’s one of my favorite monsters but because they make him so much more badass and dangerous. It also adds in an extra element, as this isn’t simply a Godzilla versus Mechahgodzilla film. It has more layers than that and the monsters and their own stories are well-balanced and come together wonderfully.

That being said, I actually got mad at how brutal Rodan’s defeat was. But it was effective in showing how powerful and dangerous that this version of Mechagodzilla is before the final showdown. And from the Mechagodzilla vs. Rodan fight to the Mechagodzilla vs. Godzilla finale, the last half hour or so of this movie was superb and featured some of the best kaiju footage of the entire film series.

We also get the introduction of Godzilla Junior, here, which thankfully, wasn’t a modernization of the Minya character. Instead, this monster was human-sized and had the general look of Godzilla, as opposed to resembling the Pillsbury Doughboy after a bad kitchen fire. Godzilla Junior would go on to be more important to the film series, as it rolled out its final two movies after this one.

All in all, this is a pretty awesome Godzilla flick with everything you’d probably want from one. Great action, decent acting, great effects for its time and it still has that Toho magic.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Godzilla films from the Heisei era.

Book Review: ‘500 Godzilla Facts’ by James Egan

Well, this small book is just a collection of facts. So the title isn’t misleading or anything but this is basically just a long list organized into a book format with a section for each film and an area for general facts that don’t specifically fit with one movie.

I guess this is informative for those who might not know anything about Godzilla but this is mostly common knowledge stuff that avid fans will already know.

Additionally, this is written like it was ripped from a middle schooler’s notebook. Plus, some “facts” are more like opinions of the author or what he deems as the opinion of the consensus.

It’s free on Kindle Unlimited, so I guess I can’t really bitch about the investment. Although, I did opt out to buy a physical copy because it was so cheap and I have a nice kaiju/tokusatsu book library.

I guess I can’t really say it was a big waste of time either, as I read the thing in about a half hour.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other books about the Godzilla franchise, many of which I reviewed with higher praise than this one.

Comic Review: Super Harem, Vol. 1

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Matt Wenger
Art by: John Joseph Ball, Farah Nurmaliza

48 Pages

Review:

I backed this because it’s creator seemed like a cool enough guy. Additionally, the premise was intriguing and I wanted to see how the story panned out.

The plot is about a guy who gives superpowers to any woman he has sex with. His former girlfriend became a hero and found herself protecting their city from giant, kaiju-sized monsters. After discovering that her superpowers worked as a lure to attract these monsters, she left the city and her super sperm boyfriend behind.

As the comic starts, the guy gets drunk and has a one night stand that ends with a new girl also getting powers. This obviously creates some issues and things start to quickly spiral out of control.

Like many crowdfunded books, as of late, the story isn’t complete by the end of this volume. It will be continued in a future release.

That’s fine and I was glad to back this, especially since it exceeded the expectations I had for it. My experience with crowdfunded comics has been a really mixed bag. The really bad stuff I haven’t reviewed because I’m not into kicking small creators just trying to ply their trade. 

Wenger impressed, though, and this was a fun, energetic book with solid art, good writing and a well-executed original idea.

I’ll probably back the followup because I’d like to see what happens next. And frankly, repeat business is how you succeed at crowdfunding comics because it means that your project resonated with its audience.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent comics by Comicsgate or other successfully crowdfunded indie creators.

Film Review: Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Also known as: ID Forever (working title), IDR (short title), Resurgence, Independence Day 2 (informal titles)
Release Date: June 20th, 2016 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Nicholas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt
Based on: characters by Dean Devlin, James A. Woods
Music by: Thomas Wander, Harald Kloser
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Travis Tope, Sela Ward, Angelababy, Vivica A. Fox, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Ng Chin Han, Robert Loggia, Mckenna Grace

Centropolis Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 120 Minutes

Review:

“We convinced an entire generation, that this is a battle that we could win. We sacrifice for each other no matter what the cost. And that’s worth fighting for.” – President Whitmore

When I saw this in the theater, there was that part of me that hoped this would be a sleeper hit that ended up impressing me, as opposed to being another half-assed sequel. Plus, I hadn’t liked anything that Roland Emmerich had done since the first Independence Day in 1996. But my absolute love of that film made me hopeful that this one would generate the same sort of effect that the first film had on me.

Initially, it didn’t and I was pretty disappointed with the final product. However, four years later a.k.a. now, I actually found this a bit more enjoyable. I think that mainly has to do with my love of the original core characters who returned.

This isn’t anywhere near as good or memorable as its predecessor but it’s still a fun, over-the-top blockbuster that uses Emmerich’s style better than any other film since the original Independence Day. This certainly blows Godzilla out of the water and it’s a better movie than The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC and 2012. I’d probably put The Patriot and White House Down ahead of it but I was extremely drunk when I saw White House Down, which is why I didn’t officially review it.

I liked Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch in this because they’re so good as father and son. I also liked what they did with Bill Pullman’s character and how they brought back Brent Spiner, who was still on his A-game even after a twenty year coma and new technologies that he had never worked with. But whatever, just turn your brain off; this is an Emmerich movie about kicking alien ass!

My biggest complaint about the film is the opposite of how I feel about most films and that’s that this needed more time to develop its characters and to get you more invested in it. Granted, I think they overdid it by trying to introduce so many characters for the next generation of heroes. It really only needed two or three core newbies and not a whole squad and separate environment with its own large supporting cast. Most of these characters don’t make much of an impact and are easily forgotten, unlike the first movie where even the small roles were memorable and felt important.

However, I like how this does make the human victory feel like a real team effort. That’s what I loved about the original story and this replicates that well, even if some people are lost in the shuffle.

I also liked the introduction of the aliens having a hive mind and a queen. While that’s nothing new, I liked how they made the queen massive and the final battle essentially turned the film into a kaiju movie. The only mistake with it was that the giant alien queen was thrown into the desert and not a city or populated area where she could smash buildings and bitchslap tanks.

In the end, this pales in comparison to the original but it expands the universe in a neat way and brings back characters you love, giving them more life.

Sadly, this under-performed and we most assuredly won’t get a third movie despite this ending in a way that made it seem like one was definitely coming. Despite this film’s overall quality, I would’ve liked to have seen a good, final chapter, making this a fun and entertaining trilogy where the lowly, primitive Earthlings finally destroyed the biggest threat to the universe.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor and other Roland Emmerich films or movies where Jeff Goldblum plays a heroic boffin.

Film Review: Siren Head (2020)

Release Date: June 18th, 2020
Directed by: Shutter Authority
Written by: Shutter Authority
Based on: creature created by Trevor Henderson

Shutter Authority, 4 Minutes

Review:

Siren Head is a very short, experimental film created by the Indian YouTube account Shutter Authority.

This was mainly created to test out some cool motion capture technology but it’s pretty well done for the filmmakers just tinkering around with the technology. Additionally, the CGI model of the creature is pretty cool and convincing despite the limitations of the production.

Now this also has over 17 million views in just about two weeks, which is damn impressive.

I came across this accidentally while researching something else on YouTube but I’m glad I checked it out and the main reason I’m reviewing it is to bring attention to it and it’s creators, as they experiment with CGI models and have made some neat little films. Many of those films feature Godzilla, one of my all-time favorite characters.

This also sent me down a rabbit hole, trying to learn more about this monster and its creator, artist Trevor Henderson. He’s made a lot of cool art pieces featuring many monsters that all feel like they’re heavily inspired by the Silent Hill and Siren video game series: two franchises that have terrified and captivated me over the years. You can check his work out here.

With as many mainstream and indie films that I review, I should probably spend a little more time shining a light on the cool things I find online by budding filmmakers just trying to get good at their craft while making things that are outside the box.

Rating: 6/10

 

Film Review: Godzilla (1998)

Release Date: May 18th, 1998 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio
Based on: Godzilla by Toho
Music by: David Arnold
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer, Doug Savant, Vicki Lewis, Richard Gant, Nancy Cartwright, Frank Welker (voice)

Centropolis Film Productions, Fried Films, Independent Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Toho Co. Ltd., 139 Minutes

Review:

“What the hell’s the matter with you people? You’ve caused more damage than that goddamn thing did!” – Mayor Ebert

Yes, Mayor Ebert… you’ve got a fucking point, as most of the actual destruction in this movie is committed by the moronic military and not the giant monster.

I’m not sure if that’s because Roland Emmerich wanted to paint the military and the government as incompetent assholes or because he’s just a shitty director that didn’t have the talent to replicate the success of Independence Day. But his first big mistake was making this story’s heroes the absolute antithesis of those from that much better movie.

Whatever the reason though, this movie is so fucking stupid that it’s painful to watch, which is why I have never actually sat down and watched this in its entirety in one sitting. Sure, I’ve seen the whole film in increments thanks to cable television but as a lifelong Godzilla fan, I had no urge to see this in the theater when it came out and all the footage and sequences I’ve seen over the years has only solidified my disdain for this big budget kaiju-sized abortion.

Many people have claimed that this isn’t a true Godzilla film and that it is the worst one ever made. Those people aren’t wrong, as I’d rather be stuck in a room for 24 hours being forced to watch Godzilla’s Revenge, over and over, than have to watch this film ever again.

It’s completely incompetent from top-to-bottom with brainless characters, impressively bad dialogue and a story that feels like it was freestyled from the mind of a child playing with kaiju toys in the bathtub.

There is no traditional three act structure and this is just a string of sequences where some of them feel like they don’t even fit within the same movie. It also gets so far away from the core of what Godzilla is that it truly isn’tGodzilla movie, it’s some sort of generic kaiju flick trying to borrow more from Jurassic Park than its own namesake.

Had this not been given the Godzilla name and branding, it may have been more palatable but there is nothing about this that can win over the fans they assumed they’d lure in just by using the name of the world’s most famous giant monster. While that may have been a run-on sentence, 1998’s Godzilla was a run-on movie.

About two-thirds of the way into the film they “kill” Godzilla, after destroying half of Manhattan. Then suddenly we’re sucked into a different movie where baby Godzillas are chasing the heroes idiots through Madison Square Garden like an army of velociraptors in a cheap attempt at trying to one-up the far superior Jurassic Park movies. Once the babies are killed, Godzilla miraculously rises from the ashes like, “Fuck you, hoes! Ain’t dead!” It’s a clusterfuck that shows that Roland Emmerich doesn’t have time for any sort of traditional narrative structure. And no, that’s not an artistic choice it’s just the incompetence of a moron that cares more about mass destruction than actually making cinematic art.

I haven’t even talked about the special effects yet, which are a mixed bag but mostly shit. Where practical effects are used, things actually look quite good but where the film employs CGI, it looks terrible even for 1998. Hell, this movie came out two years after Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day and it looks significantly cheaper than that film. This is really where big studios started to rely on CGI too much and it killed the immersion into the cinematic world onscreen. I never feel that way when watching Independence Day or Jurassic Park but here, it’s fucking distracting.

The action sequences with dozens of Apache helicopters flying through the canyon-like streets of New York City like swarms of insects just look cartoonish and buffonish. In fact, all these big action sequences between the military and Godzilla look more like a video game than a motion picture. Maybe modern HD makes it look worse than it did in 1998 but the digital flaws are really apparent and it looks like the studio cut corners in post-production or just rushed this out too soon.

Based off of the final product, Roland Emmerich could’ve just invented his own kaiju creature. But I guess less people would’ve gone to see that, so bastardizing something beloved was the easiest route to go when you can’t actually rely on talent.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other Roland Emmerich schlock that cost way too much to make.

Film Review: The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

Also known as: Goliathon (alternative title)
Release Date: August 11th, 1977 (Hong Kong)
Directed by: Ho Meng-hua
Written by: Kuang Ni
Music by: Frankie Chan
Cast: Danny Lee, Evelyne Kraft, Hsiao Yao, Ku Feng, Lin Wei-tu

Shaw Brothers, Shochiku, 90 Minutes

Review:

What a delightfully bonkers, energetic and fun movie!

For a Hong Kong ripoff of King Kong, this is so fucking enjoyable and it honestly comes across more like a Toho styled kaiju flick, especially their two King Kong ones from the ’60s.

The overall plot is about the same as King Kong, however, the pretty girl in this film has lived on the island with the giant gorilla for most of her life already. When she was a small child an aircraft crashed on the island and she was the only survivor. The gorilla found her, took a liking to her and raised her into a Jungle goddess. Basically, she’s like Tarzan but a woman… and raised by one very large ape.

Anyway, some rich doucher ends up taking the giant gorilla back to Hong Kong to turn him into a carnival act. But once the doucher attempts to rape the girl, the gorilla breaks free and starts trashing the city.

There is also a male human hero in this, played by Danny Lee. He’s a cool and likable guy that falls in love with the girl while also trying to save her from the danger the government brings down on her gorilla father figure.

While Shaw Brothers was mostly known for their martial arts movies, they really did the kaiju genre well and honestly, I wish that there were more of these. Hell, Roger Ebert gave this film three out of four stars and referred to it as his “favorite Hong Kong monster film”.

I was impressed by the effects of the film and the miniatures especially looked good. If I’m being honest, the craftsmanship and skill was pretty close to Eiji Tsuburaya’s level when he was making magic in those Toho Godzilla movies.

Ultimately, this is a picture that is much better than I could have hoped for. While I do like a lot of non-Japanese kaiju flicks, this is certainly one of the better ones and it should have spawned a Hong Kong era in giant monster movies.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other kaiju pictures from outside of Japan, as well as the King Kong films, especially the 1976 remake and the Toho ones.

Film Review: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

Also known as: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy (full title)
Release Date: November 3rd, 2000 (Tokyo International Film Festival)
Directed by: Masaaki Tezuka
Written by: Wataru Mimura, Hiroshi Kashiwabara
Music by: Michiru Oshima
Cast: Misato Tanaka, Shosuke Tanihara, Yuriko Hoshi, Masatoh Eve, Toshiyuki Nagashima

Toho Co. Ltd., 105 Minutes, 88 Minutes (TV cut)

Review:

The Millennium era of Godzilla was pretty weird, at least the first leg of it. This was a film that started out kind of strong but ended up shitting all over itself in the second half.

The movie’s first half has a very good horror vibe to it. In fact, at one point, the much smaller Megaguirus actually violently slaughters a young couple in an alleyway.

The film also features a good subplot with a young boy that comes in contact with a Megaguirus egg. This helps to setup the villainous kaiju monster but the plot with the boy is basically dropped after the first act, which I found to be pretty bizarre, as he was essentially a main character early on.

Now I liked the concept of the Megaguirus creature, as it is an insect that evolves and eventually goes from being a swarm of large killer bugs to a massive singular kaiju.

Sadly, the kaiju action is just kind of meh. While Megaguirus was a cool monster, I felt like he was way too one-dimensional after becoming a giant beast. He pretty much just had his big stinger and flew around in a real nonsensical way that didn’t even work for tokusatsu/kaiju physics.

The film also borrows heavily from the Ultraman series in how it has a specialized military squadron dedicated to fighting giant creatures. And like Ultraman, this squadron acts immature and very un-military-like. The whole thing is kind of confusing, as on one hand, this is an adult film with some actual violence and light gore. But then on the other hand, the plot is structured and presented like it’s supposed to appeal to a younger audience.

I also thought that the special effects are a mixed bag. I mostly liked the kaiju costumes. However, the miniatures looked pretty basic and paled in comparison to the superb work of Eiji Tsuburaya, almost a half century earlier.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus isn’t a shitty kaiju film but it’s mostly forgettable and a discombobulated, confused film. It’s trying to be multiple things at once without realizing that some of those things exist in contrast to one another.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Millennium era Godzilla movies.