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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review by a Godzilla Fan

Spoiler Free Summary: Godzilla: King of the Monsters offers satisfying monster fights,  neat world building, and, surprisingly, lovely personalities from the monsters.  Unfortunately, the film falters from an insufferable character lead, unnecessary (and likable) character deaths, and being a glorified ad for the US Army.  Nonetheless, the film hits all the right marks for a Godzilla fan, let them fight!

godzilla-king-of-the-monsters

Spoiler Review: It has been a long time since I left a theatre feeling so conflicted.  I knew going into this that Godzilla: King of the Monsters had already struggled with a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes but that still couldn’t prepare me for what I saw.

Godzilla: KOM picks up five years after Legendary’s first Godzilla film in 2014.  A very long gap, all things considered, with only one film, Kong: Skull Island, giving us relief in-between those films (with the unrelated Shin Godzilla to boot).  The Monsterverse (Warner Brothers answer to Disney’s MCU) is still picking up steam and trying desperately to build its Titan-filled world.  Despite this, I think it does a great job with this world such as introducing hollow-Earth theories in Kong and continuing that with the underwater Atlantis scene in this movie.  Strangely enough, the film’s end credits sequence did SO MUCH for world building and I really like that.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that Legendary is doing a successful job simultaneously referencing the original Toho films while introducing new villains and monsters for Godzilla (and Kong to fight).  The best example is King Ghidorah, who sees probably the best version of himself (or himselves???) in the entire Godzilla franchise!!  A big claim, yes, but hear me out.  “Evil” monsters in Godzilla films are somewhat uncommon and are usually controlled by world-dominating aliens or from future white people.  Ghidorah is the pawn for these aliens and when the (usually) humans break the mind control plot device, Ghidorah becomes a rampaging monster, easily beaten by Godzilla and his allies.

This film establishes Ghidorah as an invasive alien from outer space which is most excellent!  It ties back to world building with Godzilla and the Titans bringing balance to Earth’s climate and nature.  Naturally, Ghidorah, the invasive alien, wants to destroy that world and recreate it in its image.  Making Ghidorah not only control other Titans was smart but having him regenerate introduces a heighten level of threat that makes it extra scary.  Ghidorah also having three separate personalities is such a treat and something I never realized I needed until now.

Speaking of personality, Legendary boosted Godzilla’s character trait in spades (thanks in part to a far longer screen time which was a big miss in the first Legendary film).  Godzilla is friendly, crotchety, and smart.  From eye movements to subtle facial expressions, this is a return of Godzilla that is all good.  A trait that I pined for a long time.  The majority of the most recent Godzilla films have seen him in the anti-hero or straight up the antagonist/villain role.  A “good” Godzilla hasn’t been with us since arguably Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004 if not Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975.  Godzilla allying with Mothra, the Earth’s Guardian, only further seals his alignment.

Speaking of which, I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of Mothra or Rodan but I’m satisfied nonetheless.  Rodan popping out of its volcano was a nice callback to its first film but having it being a flying lava-monster makes it so delicious.  As a side note, Mary and I also couldn’t help but compare Rodan to Transformers’ Starscream and Terrorsaur due to Rodan’s quick reallignment towards Godzilla at the end of the film.  Mothra standing up against Ghidorah and Rodan was nice but seeing it sacrifice itself for Godzilla, giving him the energy to fight, was classic Mothra.  Glad to see another Mothra egg at the end credits!

Oh and the fights were so wonderful.  That first standoff with Godzilla vs Ghidorah was great with Ghidorah’s wings outstretched against the blizzard.  It’s great to see the monsters fight three times!  Godzilla biting off the head of Ghidorah was also very satisfying and surprised me.  The end fight was well done with Godzilla getting that nuclear boost and kicking Ghidorah’s ass but then Ghidorah got the powerplant boost and I was like AHHHHHHHHHH!!!  I was on the edge of my seat!  Besides the animated Godzilla Planet movies, this is the first CGI fight of Godzilla vs Ghidorah and they didn’t pull any punches!  Ghidorah lifting Godzilla up in the sky, Godzilla blasting off Ghidorah’s heads (nice!!!), Ghidorah shooting lightning from its freaking wing tips, Godzilla’s charge up sound effect, and so forth and so forth.  Nicely done!

One more thing before the bad stuff, the soundtrack for this film was top notch.  That was another big complaint I had in the first film, the original Godzilla theme was missing.  It’s not a true Godzilla movie if it doesn’t have those iconic themes.  But we got them!  IN SPADES.  The themes were repurposed with choir, they got Mothra’s theme, they even got a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla theme which was so rad to hear.  The music really sold me here but I just wish they did a better job with sound editing cause goddamn I had to struggle to hear the music sometimes along with the characters.

Okay, enough with the gushing now for the ranting.  Damn these characters were annoying.  At least the first film had Brian Cranston even though he died a third of the way in.  Kyle Chandler’s character Dr Mark Russell was the most annoying, blatant use of a white protagonist ever.  He was telling other, WAY MORE QUALIFIED, characters what to do even though HE HADN’T BEEN STUDYING GODZILLA.  Seriously, bugged the crap out of me.  In all honesty, they could cut his character entirely from the film and it wouldn’t change much.  We could focus on the mother-daughter relationship and the experienced Monarch group can keep doing what they do best.Image result for godzilla king of the monsters lead

My distaste for the lead wouldn’t be as nasty if it wasn’t for the fact they killed both Sally Hawkins AND Ken Watanabe’s characters who were both waaaaaay more likable than the lead even though they still didn’t have a lot of personality (but at least they were tolerable which goes a long way).  I don’t need interesting humans in a Godzilla film.

I don’t know.  I know I didn’t come to see a Godzilla film for the people but to make them this insufferable or boring is an achievement in a Godzilla film.  Millie Brown’s character was okay and she did all she could for the material given to her.  I give her character points for being tenacious that’s for sure.  I will also give points for the ORCA plot device, at least it gave a good tie in from the humans to the titans.

Finally, the US military irked me in this film.  Military in the Godzilla films are supposed to be ineffectual and only a super, sci-fi, weapon can take down Godzilla.  Sometimes, a non-destructive solution comes up to handle kaiju problems that are very cool like the coagulant juice in Shin Godzilla (or in this case, the ORCA device).  In this film, the US military, though mostly ineffectual, was still glorified to the umpteenth degree in this film and we didn’t have any antagonistic military characters with the exception of Charles Dance’s character (and even then he’s British so it doesn’t count!).  All this glorification is pretty funny when you compare it to Shin Godzilla and how the US military birthed Godzilla, tried to cover it up, failed, made the problem worse, and then wanted to nuclear bomb Japan.  Really says a lot especially when one film is produced by a Japanese studio as compared to an American one.  But that comparison is for another article…

Final Godzilla Movie Rating: 3.5/5  Overall, I have issues with this film but you know what?  At least they got the monsters right.  They hit the right notes again and again and I felt very satisfied by it, they introduced new concepts and ideas to the monsters and I appreciated them.  Hopefully, the human characters will be less annoying in Godzilla vs Kong but we’ll see…I personally wouldn’t count on it.  Thank God(zilla) though that it’s coming out less than a year from now!

Image result for behemoth godzilla

I also want to learn more about THIS guy!

Random Godzilla References That I Was Able To Catch

-The Mothra Twins made a cameo through Zhang Ziyi’s characters.  The fact that she is a third generation Monarch scientist makes it extra sweet.  Thank goodness she’s coming back in the next film.

-Godzilla, Rodan, Ghidorah, and Mothra, first appeared together in a major crossover movie, Ghidorah the Three-Head Monster.  This united the films Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra together creating an expanded series of Toho Monster films that span from the 1950s to the 70s.  In the film, Godzilla and Rodan fought each other before Mothra convinced them to set aside their differences and fight Ghidorah.

-Ghidorah’s codename, Monster Zero, references his English title for the second film he appeared in, Monster Zero in 1965, who was from outer space.

-Kong was referenced several times in this film along with Skull Island, not sure how it ties in yet to the next film but I’m looking forward to it

-The Oxygen Destroyer, the thing that killed the very first Godzilla in his debut film, was introduced and, in my opinion, poorly handled in KOM.  It was shoved in at the last second and it was never mentioned again.  It didn’t even kill Godzilla or Ghidorah. Tsk Tsk

-Godzilla becoming a nuclear meltdown seems to be a reference to Godzilla vs Destroyah where he was on fire and couldn’t contain his nuclear energy.  The humans had to build an giant ice ray in order to cool down the king of monsters.

 

Who Would Win? Rocky vs. Little Mac

Ladies and Gentlemen! I bring you a match-up that will get your heart a-pumpin and your voice a-screamin! This is between the most famous fictionalized boxers of all time, Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies and Little Mac from the Punch Out video games! They are known for their indomitable will, their stubborn tenacity, and the ability to beat the odds no matter what against larger-than-life opponents. Both of these boxers never met each other in the ring but what if they did? Who would win between these two boxing legends?? Let’s find out folks! Only canon sources are applied and no items will be used, let’s determine whose will and fortitude is stronger in a fantastic, 12-round, battle of Rocky the Two Time Heavyweight Champion vs. Little Mac the Champion of the World Video Boxing Association!

Image via huffingtonpost.com

Let’s start off with Rocky! A native Philadelphian, Rocky’s humble origins were eventually thrown into the spotlight when Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight Champion, handpicked him to fight in a special match. Since his legendary battle with the Champion, Rocky has faced tough opponents over the years such as the vicious Clubber Lang and the monster Ivan Drago. He even faced the new Champion, Mason Dixon, when he was 60 years old! He has had several trainers over the years such as Apollo’s trainer Duke, Apollo himself and of course, Mickey Goldmill played by Burgess Meredith. All of these trainers had imparted their boxing wisdom onto Rocky and he would have definitely not been the champ if it wasn’t for them.

Rocky’s main strength as a boxer is the ability to tire out his opponents. This is thanks to his iron jaw but especially to his will of steel. Even when faced against stronger opponents, he’s able to tire them out and finish the job. He actually uses this to his advantage by taunting some of his opponents, like Clubber Lang, and make them wear out faster by aggressively attacking him. One of Rocky’s main traits is his “southpaw” fighting, better known as fighting primarily with your left hand. It’s quite unorthodox in the boxing world and supposedly can throw off your opponent. In the end, Jim Lampley in Rocky Balboa said it best that Rocky has a “cast iron jaw, ferocious body attack, and will of steel; all of which carried him to victories over the years against physically superior opponents.”

Despite his talent as a great boxer, Rocky has some bad shortcomings that saw him some of his defeats. Rocky’s ego can get the better of him at times whether he either lacks or has too much of it. He had too much ego going up against Clubber Lang for their first fight and too little shortly before his first fight against Apollo Creed. Rocky also has a bad right eye which he got fighting his first match against Apollo Creed. He lacks some peripheral vision for that eye and that can be an almost literal blind spot for him. Also, Rocky seems to forget that he has hands and on those hands are gloves and he can use those gloves to block. He’s like Homer Simpson when he decided to take up boxing in “The Homer They Fall,” boxers punch him in the head but Rocky doesn’t seem to care.

Image via smashbros.com

Little Mac hails from the Bronx and is primarily known for his short height. In the NES version of Punch Out he was 4’ 8’’ but then he was buffed up to 5’ 7’’ in the Wii version. Little Mac has faced many vainglorious opponents that were much bigger than him during his boxing matches. They’ve all been diverse and use unique techniques even to the point that some of them use magic to help them win. As such, Little Mac has valuable experience that was bestowed to him by his opponents and has prepared him for any kind of situation.

Little Mac’s main strength is his fast reaction. Some of his tougher opponents have punches that can strike fast and hard. However, all of them have tells that indicate their plan of action and Mac is good at picking those up. Depending on how well Mac knows his opponent, he can leave a match unscathed with another KO under his belt. Sometimes, Mac knows the tells so well that he’s able to hit his opponents at the right time to give him star punches. Star punches are extra strong punches that can do a lot of damage on his rivals. If he saved up three star punches he can knock them down with one blow. What’s more, if he’s out of hearts (basically his level of fatigue) only one star punch is needed to knock down the opponent and if he uses all three then that can knock them out for good.

However, if Little Mac is hit once after he gets a star punch he loses it. As such, he has to be careful to hold onto those star punches and use them when appropriate. Little Mac is also not the best defender as he can get knocked down by a few strong moves or even with one special move such as Bald Bull’s charge. If Little Mac gets hit, or if he blocks, or if he hits a blocking opponent then he’ll lose his hearts. If he reaches down to zero hearts, Mac will have to rest a bit and dodge his opponents until he can recover his hearts. During this critical time, Mac can’t throw any punches (except the star punches).

Doc Louis, his trainer, is also not the most helpful trainer at times. He’s good at getting Mac into shape and he was the one who taught Mac his star punches. However…Doc will give Mac cryptic advice how to beat his opponent in-between rounds and even then that doesn’t happen too much. Sometimes he’ll say what his favorite flower is (chocolate) or that he should join the Nintendo Fun Club. Other times he just commenting on how Mac is doing, the rival, or that Mac should finish this fight up. So yeah…not really the best support…

GIF from brotherbrain.tumblr.com

Alright, now that we have our introductions aside, we can begin the match! Before we begin we’re going to level the playing field a bit and say that Rocky or Little Mac do not know each other at all going into the ring. All they know is their height, weight, age, and Win-Loss ratio. With that said, let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeee!

In front of a large, screaming crowd, Rocky and Little Mac are introduced and they meet each other for the first time in the ring. Rocky is initially surprised that his opponent is so small while Little Mac is relieved that for once his rival does not initially seem wacky or loud. As they step forward for the referee to explain the rules, Rocky notices that Little Mac means business, he’s got the Eye of the Tiger. Already, Rocky is breaking down his opinion that maybe he shouldn’t go easy on this guy.

They step back to their corners and the bell rings.

The crowd screams as the two opponents warily step forward. They test the waters by jabbing at their opposites. Little Mac in particular is trying to find the chink in Rocky’s armor. He jabs at his stomach and at his head, trying to determine where is the sweetest spot to hit. Rocky blocks the stomach punches and returns with some counter punches of his own.

But Little Mac is fast, he has reacted to opponents much quicker than Rocky before and he easily dodges his punches. After he dodges one, he returns back with a solid uppercut to Rocky’s face. Rocky is momentarily dazed and now Little Mac is wailing on him. Mickey screams at Rocky while Paulie clutches at the loose strands of hair on his balding head. Rocky finally regains his composure and steps back from Mac to regain his senses.

Rocky is now no longer going to take it easy on Mac. Mac means business and he can hit hard at that. Rocky is now dancing the ring trying to determine what to do. Little Mac sweeps in though and starts pummeling him in the face. Little Mac has picked up that Rocky’s face is the best part to hit as he rarely blocks it. Rocky responds with a hook onto Mac and he finally hits him squarely on the side.

Little Mac is momentarily stunned and now has to dodge Rocky’s punches. As he wonders what to do next, the bell signaling the end of Round 1 rings out.

Rocky, Little Mac, Rocky vs Little Mac, Punch Out

Image photoshopped by me. Punch Out NES text from https://www.splintered.co.uk/experiments/152/

Understandably, Mickey is more than pissed at Rocky and fiercely shouts that Little Mac is not some shrimpy punk; Mac has what it takes to beat him. Meanwhile, Doc Louis cheerfully talks riddles to Little Mac leaving Mac once again frustrated and confused towards his trainer.

Round 2 begins and now everything is changed. Rocky has regained his desire to win and he’s no longer treating Mac as a fragile, plaything. He goes out there like a bull in a china shop and is now throwing punches fiercely at Mac. Mac is dodging, dodging, dodging. He’s pondering hard where to strike the now serious boxer.

And now, an opening! When Rocky lets loose a right hook, he leaves the right side of his face open for a surprise attack. Mac dodges the right hook and strikes an uppercut at Rocky.

Ding! Little Mac just got his first star punch. Before Rocky knew what literally hit him, Mac decides to let go while he still has the chance and release the star punch onto Rocky.

Bam! Rocky stumbles back and hits the ground hard. The ref starts counting and before he even reaches three, Rocky is back up again. He’s ready to dance with Mac again.

Little Mac throws another uppercut at Rocky but he blocks it. Little Mac throws another one and Rocky blocks it as well. Rocky then lets loose a series of jabs at Little Mac and for once the Bronx-fighter was too slow. Little Mac is getting slammed repeatedly and can’t break away from Rocky’s onslaught. Rocky lets loose another punch and Little Mac is the one to go down this time.

Little Mac climbs back up, now bruised and badly hurt, and decides to step off from the attacks to analyze his opponent some more. Rocky comes back with his own attacks and he misses again and again. Another right hook from Rocky is responded by a counter from Little Mac to his face again. Ding! Little Mac gets another star punch but he’s holding onto it this time.

The bell rings and it’s the end of Round 2.

“Hey, Mac!” says Doc to Mac, “Chisel away at Rocky with your uppercut punches.”

Round 3 begins and now the bruised fighters are coming back out again. Rocky is about to attack but he’s surprised by Mac as he took the initiative and punched him right in the stomach.   Ding! Another star punch for Little Mac. Little Mac now proceeds to let a storm of punches onto Rocky. Left, right, left, right. Some to the face and some to the stomach. Rocky tries to respond with some punches of his own but Little Mac dodges it with ease. Another uppercut sends Rocky back down.

This time the referee gets to four and Rocky is back up. Rocky is about to attack again but Little Mac surprises him by jumping his star punches early and taking him down a second time.

Little Mac thinks that will keep Rocky down but he is surprised that Rocky comes back up, though admittedly struggling.

Rocky is now in full swing, he is in the zone, he can now visualize himself winning.

“Come on!” Rocky taunts to Little Mac as he starts dancing around him, “come on! Is that all you got??”

Little Mac swings at Rocky but he dodges and counters back with two quick blows to the head.

Little Mac is unsure what to do now and steps off from attacking his now loud mouthed opponent, waiting to see what he does now.

Rocky comes back in with a series of jabs and Little Mac dodges. Rocky let’s loose a series of punches that are entirely random. Left, left, right, left, uppercut, right, left hook. Rocky is successfully confusing Little Mac. He can’t dodge all the punches.

Bam! A solid punch to his stomach sends Little Mac down.

He climbs back and starts aggressively attacking Rocky again to the face. But Rocky responds by putting his hands up again and again and again. He then hits Little Mac back with another left hook.

Little Mac glows pink as he his fatigue takes a hold of him. Rocky sets up a right hook but Little Mac is ready this time. He dodges it, recovers, and hits Rocky again squarely below his right eye.

Ding! Another star punch. And just in time too, Round 3 just ended.

Round 4 begins and Rocky, after some encouragement from Mickey, begins taunting Little Mac again. Little Mac swings at Rocky but Rocky blocks and hits Mac in the head. Rocky randomizes everything now. He comes in close, he dances around Mac, he punches low, he punches high, he blocks his stomach and sometimes his face.

It’s too much for Little Mac, he can’t hit Rocky at the right times, he can’t figure out when he should dodge and when he should counter.

Little Mac goes down again. He’s struggling hard to get back up. He tries to attack again but it’s fruitless. Rocky has this fight. After a series of dodges and blocks, Rocky punches Little Mac one more time and he’s down and out. KO.

The winner is Rocky.

via Rocky II.

So why do I think Rocky would win this fight?

There are several reasons why I think he would win. First off, let’s look at Rocky IV. Ivan Drago has a punching strength of 2,150 psi, well above what even the strongest boxers can achieve. This punch was so devastating that it even killed Apollo Creed in the second round. Rocky was able to take Drago’s punches to his head multiple times, went the full 15 rounds, won it, and lived long enough to make two more movies. Even Drago commented how Rocky had a body made of iron.

If Rocky was an opponent in Punch Out, he’d probably be one of the most frustrating opponents ever. His health bar would barely decrease after every punch. Even when he’s knocked down multiple times, he will be able to get back up and keep fighting.

Little Mac on the other hand has a weaker body. One strong blow from Mike Tyson can lead to an instant knockdown. Little Mac can also go down so many times before he is KO’d for good. He is definitely a short-term fighter.

That’s not to say it was all in the bag for Rocky. Little Mac was definitely the faster of the two. He could dodge many of Rocky’s attacks with ease and respond promptly as well. True, Rocky got a speed boost in Rocky III but even then, Rocky’s agility does not compare to some of Mac’s more tricky opponents such as Mike Tyson, Mr. Sandman, and Bald Bull.

And if Little Mac was able to figure out what the hell Doc Louis means when he talks about Rocky’s Northeye, then he could exploit Rocky’s bad peripheral vision for his right eye and get a few good star punches from it as well.

I think though the real reason why Rocky would win between the two is that Rocky is human. He doesn’t have a set pattern like all of Mac’s opponents do. He can change things up and randomize his attack pattern to the point that Mac couldn’t keep up with him. At the heart of the matter, Little Mac is a responder. He doesn’t have the hearts to waste by senselessly attacking his opponents. He has to gauge when to accurately use them or not. Rocky would realize this halfway through the fight and would just go crazy in the ring. From southpaw to orthodox, from swarmer to out-boxer, he would just mix things up so much that Little Mac wouldn’t know what to do.

So Rocky wins in the end but…

…what about a rematch?

via killscreen.tumblr.com

In true Punch Out and Rocky fashion there has to be a rematch. It’s funny because whenever I would look up what other people would say who would win between these two titans (or one titan at least) no one would talk about a rematch. I guarantee you that no matter who would win the first fight, the loser would win the rematch.

Besides the fact that’s the way underdog stories go, there is a clear reason why I think the loser would win the rematch. First off, if Mac won the first match, Rocky would go on a training montage and change up his fighting style just like he did for Apollo and Clubber Lang. He was able to win both rematches. This new style would throw off the pattern-loving Little Mac and Rocky would win.

But in this case, Little Mac would win because Doc Louis has a trump card that helps Little Mac through any trouble.

You see, in Punch Out for the Wii, Doc has an awesome training simulation machine that helps Mac through some of his more tricky opponents. He can practice again and again with them until he’s able to take the opponents in real life with ease. In this case, Rocky would practice against a Rocky simulation.

But how? How could Mac win against Rocky’s iron will and body?

The best method is to build up his star punches as fast as he could and knock Rocky down in a TKO. Three knockdowns in one round would satisfy a win for Mac. Mac would endlessly test against the simulation to determine weaknesses that even Rocky doesn’t know about.

And when that rematch happens, Little Mac would be ready and he would take Rocky down in a surprise upset in the first round.

And here, dear readers if you have managed to read this 3000+ word article, I leave you with this. I seriously believe that after that second match, Rocky and Little Mac would become friends similar to Rocky’s relationship with Apollo. Rocky would enjoy finding time to spar with a friendly rival while Mac would revel at the chance to be with a boxer that was not crazy or mean. Cause their burning hearts are, after all, made of gold.

Thanks for reading my longest article yet! This article was a culmination of research done on my free time by watching Rocky fights, playing Punch Out, learning boxing terminology, and watching Mike Tyson fights. Do you agree or disagree with who you’d think would win? Say so in the comments! I would be more than willing to hear what you think!

Confidence Restored: Reaction to Jurassic World and The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

Two teaser trailers for two very hyped movies have been released less than a week apart from each other. The Jurassic World trailer came out on November 25th while Star Wars VII came out on November 28th, 2014. These trailers, both covering very different franchises, are connected by a very important trait that will help make 2015 a very special cinematic year.

These two movies are representing franchises that have become on the whole tired and stale.  For instance, the last Jurassic Park movie was released in 2001 and that was on the whole not very well received and was quite underwhelming.  There were a lot of neat ideas in it that just didn’t play out like they should and there were a lot of missed opportunities.  The climax against the Spinosaurus was anti-climatic and the confrontation with the Velociraptors didn’t have any consequence.  Also, the only people who died were at the beginning of the film despite the protagonists many chances of facing their demise (*cough*BILLY*cough*).

BOOO! Also, how could you not know that was a Spinosaurus???? Image from http://jurassicpark.wikia.com/wiki/Billy_Brennan

Jurassic Park III’s performance certainly put a damper on the franchise and with the death of Michael Crichton I thought the film series had finally come to the end.  So imagine my surprise when I heard they were making another film…

That same surprise was magnified greatly when I heard that Star Wars was also getting a sequel.  The last three films, AKA “the prequels,” were certainly met with its fair share of criticism.  When I heard how George Lucas wasn’t going to make more films due to the response from the fans I was quietly rejoicing.  I like Star Wars but maaaaan I don’t want those kinds of films again!  To be fair though, Star Wars, unlike the dormant Jurassic Park, has quietly simmered throughout the decade with the release of a moderately successful television series, some video games, and more.  Star Wars has always been in the background of my mind, never fully forgotten but never fully focused.

And with a resounding “eh” we watched it. Image from http://www.scified.com/community/forums/topic/38773

And now, both franchises will see their release in 2015.  It cannot be stressed how important these films are to their franchises, especially for Star Wars.  The success of the franchise depends on them.

As such, the success of a film can depend on their first trailer.

So how did they do?

For starters, the Jurassic World trailer made me giddy as hell! When this trailer was released all my paleontology buddies, including yours truly, was posting this trailer on their Facebook wall and commenting back and forth on the prospects of this movie.

AND OH MY GOD THAT MOSASAUR! AFAKJBAESWIFDSFOAIDPSF

This trailer looks awesome!  My prospects for the movie went up many times after I saw it.  I couldn’t help but laugh when they were talking about the genetically modified dinosaur.  It’s great!  I can just imagine if Ian Malcolm saying something like “Life will find a way, bitches!” if he heard about the crazy dinosaur breaking through the park.  Chris Platt also looks good but I’m kind of concern about the boy…the Jurassic Park movies always have kids and they can be misses.  This kid looks like he can be as stiff as Sargent Bland from Godzilla.  I’m hoping we can get some awesome adult protagonists like in the first movie.  We’ll see…

I was at first critical on the Star Wars trailer but after viewing it for a second…and third…and fourth…and fifth time, I had a change of heart.  My initial concern came from the abundance of CGI.  I remember reading an article a year ago that the Star Wars production team was going to use a more diverse set of special effect tools instead of just CGI for their films.  The trailer didn’t showcase that too well.  But what the trailer did show were some very nice costume designs AND everything doesn’t look clean anymore!  Okay, that may have come from left field but in general, the prequels’ sets and props look quite sterile and bland while the original trilogy’s props have a more dirty and used-look to them.  This trailer brought back that used appearance and it looks really nice.  I also love that broadsword lightsaber.  Everyone has been poking fun at it but I like it, it looks kind of cool and not exaggerated.  I’m all for continuing the series forward with new and inventive ideas as long as it doesn’t look ridiculous.  Oh and that final scene with the Aluminum Millennium Falcon was AMAZING.  If I wasn’t convinced before watching the trailer, I am now thanks that that one scene alone.

And why?  Why did my cautious attitude toward both of these new films break down and replaced with newfound confidence?  If I were to point to a single source it would be the music.  Both of the franchises’ famous themes, composed by the great John Williams, made a smashing return in the trailers and salivated your nostalgic mouth.  It gave us, the fans, the restored confidence in these films.  They haven’t forgotten who they are and why they are good.  They are going back to their roots while bringing something new and exciting to them.  The slightly tweaked themes are probably the symbol of both of these new films and what they represent for their franchise.

And with that, dear readers, I leave you with this.  In the Jurassic World trailer, we are revealed that the park has officially opened but something bad has happened to it.  Not a huge surprise mind you but it’s still nice to get that confirmation.  But that’s Jurassic Park!  The whole franchise is one big analogy for Chaos Theory!  Shit’s gonna go down!  But what about The Force Awakens?  Very wisely done, we are not revealed what the plot will be…because unlike Jurassic Park, Star Wars does not have to follow a strict plot device.  And now that the new films are true sequels, they are no longer constrained on what will become.  They are now their own identity.  And what that identity will become will be most interesting indeed…

DBZ Battle of Gods is Definitely a Fan’s Film

We’ve all been there before.

You and your friends are major fans of a certain franchise. A certain topic of interest that comes up now and then is the perfect movie that would justify that franchise. The movie has to be done in a certain way, with a certain director and with certain actors playing certain characters. In your mind, it’s the perfect movie and that is why it’s just too good to be true.

Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods, however, comes the closest to achieving that fan’s perfect movie.

I wouldn’t believe it myself had I not seen it. When I heard about Battle of Gods I was interested to watch it but certainly not any time soon. However, when I finally watched it I was floored by how hilarious and amazing it was. Granted, it’s not a good movie but it is certainly an exceptional Dragonball Z film.

I want to hone in to two main points why I thought it was good, one is that they brought back the original English voice actors from the tv series and two the humor and art quality is great.

Bringing back the original voice actors made the film more enjoyable than it could have been. It would have been distracting to hear other actors voice Goku, Vegeta and the others. As such, I was able to be instantly familiar with the characters again like they were long lost friends. Props to Funimation for making sure that happened.

The second main point is the humor and animation. It looked so good to see Dragonball Z in stunning HD animation. That was fantastic and I look forward to more movies using that same style. The humor in the film was also top notch, I especially liked the scene where Vegeta is doing his best to entertain Beerus by making himself look like a fool.

These two main points are what make Battle of Gods a fan’s film. This is further enhanced by the inclusion of the original show’s theme, some good fighting sequences, some ridiculous power levels, and some great character interaction.

Ironically, the main downfall of Battle of Gods is its filler. The whole sequence with Lord Pilaf could have been entirely cut and no one would have bat an eye. It gave the film some unnecessary padding and honestly, who cares? But truth be told, it wouldn’t be Dragonball Z without some filler!

I was surprised to hear before watching the Battle of Gods film that there would be a sequel. This amazed me because I remember the trailer specifically states that Beerus is the strongest being in the universe. How were they going to top that?

I thought I had found the answer when Battle of Gods revealed that there were actually multiple universes with other Gods of Destructors and Creators. Cool, I thought, that’s what the sequel is going to be about.

Nope, it’s Frieza! Frieza! How can he be a credible threat? Many of the characters can take him on, hell, even Krillen can take on Frieza! My roommates and I were discussing how Frieza could be a threat to the Z fighters and we came to the conclusion that it would be something like this…

Frieza henchmen come to Earth and get the Dragonballs, they use the first wish to bring Frieza back and the second wish to make him the most powerful being in the universe. Boom, that’s all you need.

Regardless how they make him strong, I’m looking forward to Frieza’s Resurrection! If they do everything in the new film that they done in Battle of Gods then it will be wonderful. I’m especially hoping they bring back Frieza’s original voice actor, Linda Young, as that would be amazing. And finally, I’m looking forward to Frieza dying all over again.

New Podcast Coming Soon!

Hello everyone!  Exciting news!  I’m developing a podcast with the help of many of my friends!  We are currently recording the episodes and will hopefully have Season 1 of the podcast ready in the nearby future.

What’s the theme of the podcast?  In general, it’s to celebrate certain topics of nerdom.  Not only that, we’ll go into detail why these nerdy franchises work and why they are so popular.  What’s more, these episodes will provide interested people an introduction to the franchise and how they can become acquainted with the said franchise.

We’re keeping Season 1 pretty low key with just five episodes but they’ll range from 40 to 80 minutes long depending on the subject.  Each of these five episodes are diverse and will focus on a different nerdy theme.  Though I won’t say what their subjects are yet, I can say that one is based off of a movie franchise, one from a comic, one from a video game, one from a series of books, and one from board games.

I’ll update you guys once we have a date set.  I’ll also reveal the podcast’s title and more!  Stay tuned!

Summer Wars and Digimon: Our War Game are Both Great Films

Stop me if you’ve heard this one; an anime movie with a distinct visual style directed by Mamoru Hosoda stars a young adult cast who have to battle a growing threat on the internet before it kills them in real life.  Okay, you know what I’m getting at here.  Digimon: Our War Game and Summer Wars are so similar to each other that it’s no wonder people compare these two films.

I heard about the comparison between these two films so much that I knew I had to check Summer Wars out.  I finally got to do that, appropriately enough, this Summer.

What I find interesting is how akin these two films are.  Did Hosoda like the concept so much he just had to remake the film again but in his own image?  And it’s not just a remake of the idea.  Certain scenes and images are so alike it really makes you stop and wonder.  Hell, if Digimon came after Summer Wars then something weird would be going on.  But that’s not the case, Our War Game came out nine years before Summer Wars.

I’m not going to talk about how similar they are to each other.  Many other people have already done that and this article does a good job of it.  Check it out.  Instead, I want to talk about other aspects between these two films.

There are also some neat side-by-side comparisons between the two films at the listed article

There are also some neat side-by-side comparisons between the two films at the listed article

For instance, Digimon embraces the notion of an online battle very nicely.  Though Season 1 played around with the internet in hacking terms, never did the kids and their partners actually visit the internet.  It was either the digital world or the real world.  As such, the internet could act as a gateway between these two worlds as demonstrated by the kids and their partners in the movie.

With strict ground rules never established in Season 1, the movie could take certain liberties with the franchise that wouldn’t seem farfetched or noncanon.  The internet battle was one of them and the DNA digivolution was another.

Though the kids in Summer Wars never got to visit the internet, they had the next best thing which was their avatars.  The avatars were very like Our War Game’s partner digimon with the exception that the humans were in full control of them.  Much of the film’s visual appeal and art stems from the weird avatars and their fight sequences.

The main antagonists have probably the strongest similarities between the two films.  Their actions and subsequent consequences may slightly differ but it’s their origins that are the most contrasting.  Love Machine was created as a virus by the American government and Diaboromon was…actually…we don’t know!  We have no idea how he came to be!  To me, that’s kind of scary.  Where on earth did this internet destroying, data eating, powerhouse of a digimon come from?  The fact that he still did not die and actually come back in the fourth movie speaks volumes on how hard he is to kill.  His bug-like nature fits him pretty well for a foe that just would not die.  To me, he’s the stronger antagonist compared to the game-adoring bad guy in Summer Wars.

The overall theme of people coming together to stop a foe works the best in Summer Wars.  And I mainly bring this up because our main protagonist, Kenji, doesn’t really save the day until the very end of the movie.  The Jinnouchi family helps him out throughout the entire film.  They bring equipment for him, the grandma gives them hope, the uncle advises him how to defeat Love Machine, Kazuma fights Love Machine with King Kazma, and Natsuki defeats Love Machine in Koi-Koi.  There’s a definite sense of we’re all in this together and this blossoms in the triumphant Koi-Koi battle against Love Machine.  I love it.

But…

I liked how Our War Game did it as well.  Unlike Kenji, Tai was having sooo muuuuch trooooouble trying to get his team together.  Dropped phone calls, people on vacations, uneasy relationships, etc.  Instead of “we’re in this together” it was more like “this is all we got.”  The music, which I mentioned before I liked so much, even seems to make fun of Tai as he tries desperately to scramble his team together, it’s hilarious.  And in the end it’s like his troubles were rewarded with not his team coming through but the whole world instead.  That kind of switch plays into Our War Game better than Summer Wars.

Truth be told, I find Summer Wars’ ending easier to swallow than Our War Game.  Our War Game came out in what, 2000?  Though the internet was just taking off by then, not many people were using it, especially in less developed countries.  By 2009, we see a dramatic usage increase throughout the entire globe.  This dramatic increase combined with Summer Wars’ OZ makes the ending more believable to me because everyone is using the internet and as such, the ending has more weight behind it.

Internet users per 100 inhabitants. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage (Sorry if the image did not load, the image loads when I edit the article but not when viewing the article itself)

Oh and you have to love how already dated Our War Game is.  Seeing them scramble to try to retain their internet connection is humorous.  And oh God Izzy, that computer is huge.  Probably a decade from now Summer Wars will be just as dated.

Gosh, after writing this article, I’ve come to realize how good these two films are.  I honestly can’t say if a non-Digimon fan would like Our War Game.

Wait.

Hang on, I’ll go ask Mary, she saw the film with me and she doesn’t know anything about Digimon.

She said she liked it but she couldn’t fully enjoy it because she had no idea who any of the characters were.  That’s almost exactly what this guy was talking about.  Here’s the passage:

“The biggest difference between them is the large cast both hold. Digimon uses pre-established characters that people can not automatically jump in and understand. Summer Wars on the other hand, introduces a complete new cast of characters, all being developed in front of the viewers eyes. Digimon, having 50+ anime episodes that allowed the character development needed does not accomplish what Summer Wars establishes in a 90 minute film.”

And there you go.  People who are a fan of Digimon will love both films but if you are unfamiliar to Digimon you should probably see season 1 before seeing this Our War Game.  But if you don’t want to spend all your time doing that, Summer Wars is just as good and is a great thrill ride.  Check both out, while Summer is still here.

Thoughts and Review of Godzilla 2014 by a Godzilla Fanatic (Spoilers)

This movie has garnered negative and positive reviews from both fans and critics alike and I can certainly understand why there is a clear divide.  I want to address some of the fans criticisms but first here are my basic thoughts.

I like this movie, I really do.  It’s not a great movie and it’s not the best Godzilla movie either but it’s still pretty good.  Monsters fight, buildings crumble and people fled in terror, that was all I was looking for and by Godzilla I got it!  Everything in between was not that good but the stuff that worked, REALLY worked!

The two MUTOs were cool and atypical in appearance compared to your average Godzilla villain.  I liked the concept of having a small, flying male and a large, earth-stomping female.  It’s not often that Godzilla fights two villains at once and as such, this was a real treat to watch.  Also, the MUTOs’, and by extension Godzilla’s, backstory I thought was perfect.  All Godzilla films have these crazy scientific theories that have NO basis in logic whatsoever and this was no exception.  Large monsters used to live on the surface and then burrowed underground to feed on the radiation there.  Perfect!  That’s all I need!  An explanation where the monsters come from and why they are appearing now, love it.

BTW, I thought it was cute that the male and female MUTOs did a little nuzzling when they first met each other.

The fights were good but I wish I could have seen more of them especially the first one.  Seeing the first fight should have been a priority since we are seeing Godzila in action for the very first time.  Even though it would have been just a smackdown, I would have still loved to have witnessed it.  That said, the final fight was amazing with a series of battles that build upon each other to a climatic finish.

I remember distinctly near the end of the movie that this Godzilla hadn’t done his atomic breath yet and I was worried that wasn’t going to happen.  But wait!  His tail spines were glowing!  I leaned forward in anticipation, making excited noises much to the chagrin of my fellow movie watchers.  And then…BLLLLLLAAARRGGGH!  The atomic breath came and I was like “Yeah! Alright!”  I was thrilled when that happened and right there I knew that this was Godzilla, no doubt.

But the best part had yet to come, when Godzilla fought the female MUTO for the last time. The two titans struggled and I was giddy with excitement.  I asked myself how were they going to end this fight.  And then, Godzilla grabbed MUTO’s jaws with both of his hands and I was like:

Reaction

I gave a grunt of excitement and thought Godzilla was going to rip MUTO’s jaws in half similar to what he did to Anguirus or what King Kong did to the T-Rex.  But something even better happened.  His dorsal spines glowed with power and he released a might atomic breath into the monster’s throat.  I was then like:

Super Saiyan reaction

I screamed with excitement and I was the only member in the rather stiff audience that was whooping and hollering.  I wanted him to take the now disembodied head and throw it to the ground like an adrenaline-filled football player throwing his pigskin to the ground after a fantastic touchdown.

Godzilla was also great, he definitely reminded me of Godzilla 2000’s Godzilla.  He was a neutral force that did whatever he wanted.  That is definitely my favorite rendition of Godzilla and I’m very happy the film went for this choice.  He’s fighting cause he wants to fight and if people or buildings get in his way then so be it!  He also had personality and I really felt for the guy when things got tough for him.  Also, for those who’s saying this Godzilla is fat..um…he’s always been fat, look at his thighs and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, let me focus on the criticisms that many people had for this movie.  Mainly: the characters were flat, we don’t see much of Godzilla, and for the few critical die-hard fans, this was not Godzilla.

Characters were flat: For over a year, I have been watching Godzilla films that I have never seen before or haven’t seen for a long time.  As such, I have a pretty good understanding of some of the most popular tropes in these films.  One of the most used tropes is flat characters.  This is pretty standard in a Godzilla film.  Godzilla 2000, Godzilla: Final Wars, and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah are some of the rare exceptions to this.  Those characters were fun and memorable.  Everywhere else though I’m like, eh, whatever, don’t care.

This wouldn’t be a problem for the film except that we got Bryan Fucking Cranston in it.  He plays his role so damn well that I forgot he was Walter White and an actual character in a Godzilla film.  I felt for him, I moved for him, I wanted him to succeed….and then he died!  I was shocked that he died and was sure for a minute or so he would revive due to some radiation pulse or whatever.  But nope!  He straight up died!  The rug was really pulled underneath me when that happened.  Which meant we were stuck with his son, Sargent Boring.  Now this was a character I did not care about!  He nor his family!  But he had a purpose and he served his purpose well.  I was hoping he would die but alas, that was not the case.  The good news is that hopefully, if we’re following traditional Godzilla films, he won’t be in the sequel.  Fingers crossed!

Though I did like the Asian scientist Dr. Slackjaw (his expression throughout the whole film) and his assistant Dr. Concern.  I wanted to know more about them, what’s their story??  I hope they make a return as they can keep on spewing the crazy scientific theory stuff that makes Godzilla films great.

Godzilla does not appear often: This I sort of agreed with but at the same time, many of the films in the franchise also follow this formula.  Less is more.  At the same time though, I did wish we could have seen more of the big guy, particularly wider shots of him instead of close ups.  Godzilla 2000, also a reboot, saw Godzilla a lot, hell, we even saw him near the beginning and I’m not talking just his spines or whatever, the whole thing.  This could have been changed if we had at least saw more of the first fight.

Godzilla 2014 was not made by Toho and is not portrayed in a giant rubber suit: This is probably the most stupid complaint to me.  Just because Godzilla is not portrayed in costume or his film was not made by Toho doesn’t mean he is not Godzilla.  He’s big, he’s reptilian, and he has an atomic breath, boom, that’s Godzilla.  Take Batman for example, he has had many incarnations during the 75 years he has been on Earth; some were campy, some were serious, some were down-to-earth, some were not, but all shared the basic understanding of who Batman was.  Godzilla is the same way, he has had many forms in the Toho films, he has been represented in comics, video games, tv series, and so forth.  They were all Godzilla.  And Godzilla 2014 is without a doubt Godzilla and a good one at that too.

 

Well, this review has gone on long enough so I’m going to wrap it up.

Pros: Godzilla, the MUTOS, the 3rd fight, Bryan Cranston
Cons: Sargent Boring and his family, only glimpses of the first fight, Godzilla theme was not in this movie
Final Godzilla Rating: 4/5.  Go see this movie in theaters while you still can even if you’re not a Godzilla fan, it’s well worth your time.   The bland characters bring the film down a few notches but this is made up with everything else the film has to offer.  Here’s hoping King Ghidorah will be in the next film!!

Also, in the future, I’ll write an article comparing all the Godzilla reboots together (i.e. Godzilla 1985, Godzilla 2000, and Godzilla 2014).  What they got right and wrong and how they affected the franchise.