Monthly Archives: September 2012
Return of Godzilla 1984
After Terror of Mechagodzilla was released in 1975 there would be no more Godzilla movies for 9 years. The movies were increasingly less profitable and the story ideas had grown stale. When Toho released the original Godzilla film in theaters it did well prompting them to return to making Godzilla movies once more. Toho offered veteran Godzilla director Ishirō Honda the opportunity to direct the next movie but he turned it down saying that with the way Godzilla performed in the 70s he felt that Godzilla should be permanently retired. In his place Koji Hashimoto took over the directing responsibilities. I disagree with Mr. Honda’s opinion that Godzilla needed to be permanently retired, but I did think that the franchise needed a break until better stories could be found.
In Japan this movie was simply titled Godzilla (Gojira) just as the original 1954 movie had been titled. In the US the movie was known as the Return of Godzilla or Godzilla 85 as it came out a year later in the states. Although a new Godzilla suit was designed for the movie there was also a 20 foot robotic Godzilla that was touted by Toho as being state of the art. Sadly this robotic version of the big guy was not used too much in the film. The new Godzilla suit had larger spines almost equal in size to the center row of spines and the face was given a malevolent scowl.
This movie rebooted the entire franchise and within the continuity of the series this film ignores all of the movies except the first one. Within the world of this film Godzilla had only appeared in 1954. The film also sees a return to a very serious tone. Goodbye to the child friendly Godzilla the hero and savior of mankind. Instead we see Godzilla as he originally was, a force of nature that mankind created and is now reaping what it sowed. The original movie played on the post World War II fears and the repercussions of that event. Return of Godzilla also brings in the politics of the 80s as it depicts the Cold War between the US and the USSR being part of the conflict over how to deal with Godzilla. The original Godzilla movie was modified for US release and and so was Return of Godzilla. Raymond Burr reprises his role as reporter Steven Martin. The funny thing is that by 1984 there had arose the famous TV actor and comedian by the same name, so the movie refers to Burr’s character either as Mr. Martin or Steve, but never as Steve Martin. Another similar return for Godzilla is that this is a solo film and he doesn’t fight any other monsters.
I like that they have returned Godzilla to the role of bad guy. While the movies that depict Godzilla as the good guy and the hero are cheesy fun, I do enjoy the more serious Godzilla. Part of the fun of Godzilla movies is the fear of a giant monster attacking the city. Without that fear Godzilla can become down right silly. I think this movie is a good step in the right direction. Using the cold war as part of the backdrop for the movie does increase the sense of danger and tension. However, in the American version the Cold War aspect of the movie was manipulated to make the USSR look like the bad guys. In the original Japanese version there is tension between the two countries although neither come across as the aggressor. I can understand why the US editors of the film changed that scene, it was the height of the cold war after all; what bothers me is that it typifies the childishness that goes into the game playing of politics. The other bothersome aspect of the change is that it delivers a message that was not in the original movie. It makes the US out to be the good guys and the Soviets out to be the bad guys. The problem with that is part of the tension in the film comes from the fact that Japan is caught in the middle, powerless not only over Godzilla, but equally powerless over these two super powers who want to destroy each other and the world around it in the process. That third party view of the cold war is lost due to the changes in the American version.
Raymond Burr is not used as effectively as he was in the original. In the first film he is used as exposition (explaining the elements of the plot) and while his role is the same in this film it just wasn’t needed. Without him I can understand the plot just fine. He was needed in the first film to explain the elements of the story and his narrative added depth and emotion to the events. In this version he comes across as unnecessary window dressing.
The plot of this movie is also pretty straight forward. Some fishing boast are attacked and it is soon learned that the culprit was Godzilla. Unsure if Godzilla will attack Japan the government wants to keep a lid on the story to avoid a public panic. Soon however, Godzilla, much larger than he was in 1954, begins attacking power plants to feed off of the energy. The US and USSR want Japan to use a nuclear weapon to kill Godzilla but Japan refuses to use nuclear weapons after what they had done to their country. A noble stance, but unreasonable. While battling against Godzilla the Super X weapon used by the Japanese Defense Force knocks Godzilla out cold. Just at that time a Soviet satellite accidentally launches a nuclear bomb toward Japan (the US version makes it look intentional). Before the bomb hits Japan the US sends a missile to destroy the bomb which it successfully does. However, the fall out from the bomb wakes Godzilla back up. Also during his rampaging it is learned that Godzilla has a conditioned response to the birds flying in the air and likes to follow them. The reasoning given for his odd behavior is that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds and since Godzilla is a mutated dinosaur he would share some of their behaviors. I guess that sounds plausible. Godzilla destroys the Super X weapon by toppling a building on it. Meanwhile, scientists have placed a beacon on an active volcanic island that replicates the birds sounds attracting Godzilla who then happens to fall into the volcano. Although Godzilla is defeated it is said that they are sure he will return once more.
One of the things I like about the movie is that Godzilla appears alone. I do not mind monster fights, although there is often a big slice of Velveeta cheese that goes with some of these monster fights, this movie, and the 1954 original, shows that Godzilla acting alone can make a very good movie. With Godzilla as the sole monster in the film the story can highlight the human reaction and the suffering better than when the story line is focused on a batter between two behemoths This movie did not do well in the states and it would be the last Godzilla movie released to US theaters until Godzilla 20000 was released in 1999. Because of absence of Godzilla in the theaters I had no idea that there was a whole series of Godzilla films that came out between 1984 and 1999. Then after the 1999 film there were even several more Godzilla films made in Japan until 2004. I have spent a lot of time catching up on all of these movies since 2005 when I discovered them on DVD.
This is a good movie, better than the movies offered in the 1970s. However, I do like the others that came out after this one a bit better so sometimes this movie gets forgotten. The best thing about this movie for me is that it returned Godzilla to the big screen and another run of movies and it also returned the character his original bad self and for that I am grateful.
I rate this movie: B+
Patrick Stewart to return as Professor X?
found this rumor yesterday. Coming on the heals of my Star Trek: The Next Generation post the other day there is a rumor that Patrick Stewart may reprise his roles as Charles Xavier, Professor X, from the X-men franchise.
Here is the story from http://www.facebook.com/superherostuff
Since the release of X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, there have been many rumors about a fourth entry in the franchise even after the release of the Wolverine solo film and the prequel X-Men: First Class. Newsarama is now reporting that Patrick Stewart basically said he’s coming back, but in which film?
At the 2012 Montreal Comic Convention, he was asked by a fan about returning to the series and he replied “I think there is every possibility” and then began to say the names of his female co-stars “Halle Berry! Famke Janssen! Rebecca Stamos! Anna Paquin!” Stewart then said, “yes, I’ll be reprising…”
While this is not official and frankly might be Patrick Stewart messing with all of us, could we see him return to the big screen in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past? Check back here for more details as they emerge.
I hope this is true. After really loving the Next Generation Patrick Stewart has become a favorite actor of mine. There has only been one role he was in that I felt he was surprisingly miscast. He did a remake of “The Lion in Winter” co-starring with Glenn Close. With that pair how can you lose? Well, since they are portraying characters portrayed in the 1968 Oscar winning version starring Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn, I guess you can come in second to them. It is not that he is really bad in the role as King Henry II of England, it is just that Stewart doesn’t project the gravitas and the threatening power and mania that was present in O’Toole’s performance. I do own both versions on DVD so they are worth checking out.
I do hope this rumor proves true. I would love to see Patrick Stewart as Professor X once again.
Well, it is September and Autumn has officially arrived. Where I type this from the sun is shinning brightly and there is a bird singing while the leaves on the trees are continuing their metamorphosis from lush greens to sweet golden red and brown. Alright, the bird that is singing is in a cage in the next room, but everything else I have said is true! I swear it!
The summer block buster season is over. Well, how was it? Lets take a look back at the 18 movies I previewed in May. Two of the movies in my preview, Jack The Giant Killer and GI Joe: Retaliation, were supposed to come out this summer but were instead delayed until next March.
I think this movie exceeded expectations. Domestic: $622,888,162 + Foreign: $888,400,000 = Worldwide: $1,511,288,162. Impressive, a true block buster!
Not sure if this was a hit or not. The numbers don’t seem too bad. Domestic: $52,582,728 + Foreign: $30,047,47 = Worldwide: $82,630,199.
The Expendables 2:
This has been out only about a month now and it seems to be doing well. Domestic: $83,019,805 + Foreign: $186,000,000 = Worldwide: $269,019,805
This remake didn’t get good reviews and it doesn’t seem to have down well at the box office. Domestic: $58,462,950 + Foreign: $114,142,385 = Worldwide: $172,605,335.
The Dark Knight Rises:
Batman lost against the Avengers in the box office battle but The Dark Knight Rises still did extremely well. Domestic: $443,124,014 + Foreign: $623,700,000 = Worldwide: $1,066,824,014.
The foul mouthed little teddy bear did well for himself. With a budget of $50 Million Ted brought in some impressive numbers. Domestic: $217,838,900 + Foreign: $202,891,894 = Worldwide: $420,730,794.
Ice Age: Continental Drift:
Despite mediocre reviews another journey back to the ice age seemed to do pretty well. Domestic: $158,561,292 + Foreign: $679,294,615 = Worldwide: $837,855,907.
The Amazing Spider-Man:
The Spidey reboot had a $230 Million budget so the domestic numbers are a bit anemic. Domestic: $261,471,268 + Foreign: $487,503,570 = Worldwide: $748,974,838
This movie had so-so reviews for a Pixar movie and was only their 8th highest box office numbers. A bit of a let down. Domestic: $233,558,247 + Foreign: $266,300,000 = Worldwide: $499,858,247.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
This movie looked fantastic…but the premise is just so…strange. It only made a little more than half its budget back in domestic sales so it is safe to call this one a bomb. Domestic: $37,519,139 + Foreign: $65,915,000 = Worldwide: $103,434,139.
A prequel to the Alien franchise, it under performed at the box office and came a few million shy of recapping its $130 Million budget. Domestic: $126,477,084 + Foreign: $271,614,000 = Worldwide: $398,091,084.
Madagascar 3 Europe’s Most Wanted:
This one is a winner! Domestic: $215,896,451+ Foreign: $411,900,000 = Worldwide: $627,796,451
Snow White And The Huntsman:
Another under performer. Did not reach its $170 Million budget. Domestic: $155,136,755 + Foreign: $241,260,448 = Worldwide: $396,397,203.
Men In Black 3:
Despite good reviews (much better than the second movie) it under performed domestically but did well over seas. Domestic: $179,020,854 + Foreign: $445,005,922 = Worldwide: $624,026,776 .
With a budget of $209 Million this movie seriously bombed in the domestic box office. It did much better over seas. I really loved the movie and was sad to see it perform so poorly. Domestic: $65,233,400 + Foreign: $237,602,860 = Worldwide: $302,836,260.
On a $150 Million budget this one seems to be a dud! Domestic: $79,727,149 + Foreign: $159,000,000 = Worldwide: $238,727,149.
There you have it. It seems a large portion of this list did poorly this summer. Although some of them didn’t do as well at the box office than the studios would have liked, when coupled with the foreign box office I think all of them did bring in a profit for the studios Of course this was not all the movies released this summer, these were just the ones I was interested in. Gee, maybe I have a lousy taste in movies! 🙂
I am working my way through all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, currently on season three, and decided to talk about my own Trek into enjoying this series after being closed minded to it for a few years. Today’s posting is about overcoming prejudice and being more open minded, a theme regularly addressed in Star Trek.
It was the mid 70s, 74 or 75 when we got Cable TV in our home town, I fell in love with Channel 11, WPIX out of New York City. I was about 12 years old at the time and they had great shows with wonderful cartoons and old movies like Abbott & Costello films, Godzilla movies and TV shows from the 60s and 70s such as The Munsters. Then there was this show called Star Trek. I do not remember watching my first episode but one thing I do remember is that I was instantly hooked to this fascinating show. I couldn’t get enough of it. I lived and breathed Star Trek. This was back in the day prior to the internet so if I wanted Star Trek information I really had to dig for it. I remember one of the many times when I had eye surgery and during my recovery my mother bought me a model kit of the Tricorder from the series. I went through countless model kits of the Enterprise and could never get those damned nacelles to stay upright!
I really enjoyed and was thrilled with the Star Trek movies. Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home were my favorites. Then in the mid 80s I began to hear about a new Star Trek series that Gene Roddenberry was trying to put together. There were so many rumors to sift through but eventually the premise was that it would have completely new characters and none of the originals characters and would be set about 80-100 years after the events of the original Star Trek series. It was to be called Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like a giant pair of wood and steel doors which guard an ancient castle my mind slammed shut with considerable force. Before even seeing one small scene my mind was closed. I just thought this new series would meet with quick failure. In my way of thinking it was impossible to have a successful Star Trek series without Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. I turned my nose up at this series and didn’t even try to watch it.
However, after a couple of years I had heard that the show was a success. However, I still couldn’t bring myself to watch it. They had an older Captain and a man who was an android trying to be human. Plus a they had a freaking Klingon working on the bridge!!! That’s not Star Trek I would howl! Then in 1992 or 1993 I began hanging out with my friend George Cheatle and his family. He has a son, Mark, who was into the the new series. There were some cold winter days when there was nothing much to do but hang out with Mark and some of his friends and watch Star Trek: the Next Generation. I do not remember the first episode that I watched but one thing I do know is that over the next few months I really began to enjoy the show. The writing was very good and I came to really like all of the characters. I particularly liked Captain Pickard. He was different than James Kirk but still a man to be respected and he carried a persona which commanded respect. I am very interested in those that carry power and authority. Data, an android seeking to become more human, was also a very likable character. People with superior reasoning skills and intellect with a predilection toward logic have always been traits that I admired. The main thing which turned me on to the franchise were the stories. Running for 7 season TNG has even more quality episodes than its predecessor. From alien encounters to time travel the series always covered themes which I had admired from the original series.
Through the years my affection for Star Trek: The Next Generation has grown. I would say my affection for TNG is equal to the original series. For me, that says something considerable. I enjoyed all the movies…well except for Nemesis which was a bit depressing. I was disappointed that the TNG cast would not make anymore movies yet I do think the series had grown a little stale and JJ. Abrams has breathed new life into the franchise. Maybe that is a topic for another entry all of its own?
Some wonder if TNG will be rebooted like the original series? I was very open to different actors playing Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy et al. But when it comes to new actors playing Picard, Data and Riker I can suddenly feel the giant pair of wood and steel doors in my mind starting to slam shut again!
Today I am going to recommend a couple of science fiction movies I have recently viewed. In order to view them we are going to have to hop in our time machine (method of time travel is optional, a supped up DeLorean, the TARDIS, or a sling-shot around the sun in a Star Ship at warp 9 should suffice). If you don’t have access to any of those modes of transportation you can just use Neflix like I did.
Planet of Dinosaurs:
This is a low…low budget movie that came out in 1978. It starred a group of no-name actors and was produced and directed by Jim Shea. The highlight of the movie are the stop-motion Dinosaurs. Are they as good as those done by Ray Harryhausen? No, but they are not bad. Those that are used to the CGI will find them not up to parr but I think the stop motion dinosaurs are part of its charm. The premise is pretty simple. At some future date a space ship carrying a crew of people crashes on a mysterious planet filled with prehistoric dinosaurs. The name of the game is survival.
Now the acting is stiff and deplorably bad. In truth I was waiting for this movie to turn into a porno. The women are hot and dressed sexy, the men have longer shaggy hair and 70s porno mustaches. They are also wearing 70s jogging suits meant to look futuristic. The stilted dialog and bad acting leads to scenes of flirtation among the actors. Just when you think something romantic is going to happen a dinosaur comes along to ruin the ambiance.
So why am I recommending this movie? It has charm to it. If you can get beyond the acting the story is pretty well told. There is tension and plot twists and fight for power within the group and it really engaged me to the point where I wanted to see how it would end. There is some nostalgia for me too because a majority of the movie was filmed at the famous Vasquez Rocks where such notable Star Trek episodes were filmed, namely “Arena” the episode where Captain Kirk fights the Gorn, and also parts of the most recent Star Trek movie by JJ Abrams was filmed there. The movie is unintentional funny and if you like to be entertained that way then you just might like this movie.
I finally got around to seeing this film. Is it a classic or just memorable? I am not sure. Either way it doesn’t matter, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I had heard about the premise prior to viewing and as I have said before on this blog I generally do not care for movies with real dark dystopian views of the future. This movie is one of those exceptions. The movie cam out in 1976 and was directed by Michael Anderson and starred Michael York, the luscious Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and the scenes stealing Sir Peter Ustinov. Avery good cast. The movie is based on the novel by the same name.
In this version of the future, set in the 23rd century, people live in a city inside of a dome where all their needs are taken care of by a computer. They do not have to work so all of their time is spent on hedonistic pursuits. So what’s the catch? You only get to live until you’re 30! Imbedded in the hand of each person is a crystal. It is clear when you’re born and changes colors as you age. When you reach the age of 30 it turns red and when it is your time to die it begins flashing. People who are scheduled for termination go to this elaborate ceremony called carousel where they float to the top of this room and are vaporized. People believe that in carousel they are renewed, reincarnated, back to life. Those that do not willingly go to carousel try to escape and are called runners. Those who try to catch the runners and terminate them are called Sandmen. At one point, Logan, is told by the computer to become a runner to see if the runners that do escape make it to a place called sanctuary.
That is all I will tell you about the plot, I do not want to spoil the plot if you choose to view this movie. I love the 1970s. Those were my formative years. I was a teen through the majority of the 70s and I have loved the films and the music from that era. Every movie carries the look of the time in which it was filmed, even if the film was trying to depict the future as this movie does. The art concepts of the future in Logan’s Run sure look like the 70s to me and that is part of the appeal. Sure they look a bit silly by today’s standards but the overall look is part of the charm of the film. Plus seeing the beautiful Jenny Agutter scantily clad, or not clad at all, is a sight to behold. Seeing Peter Ustinov in this movie as a bumbling old man is a delight. I can’t think of a bad film he has been in. Even if he was in a bad film he has never acted poorly. I think the same goes for Michael York, another British actor who is great in everything he does.
The special effects are pretty good and the use of models for the city still hold up despite the fact that you can tell they are models. I think it reminds me of what Ray Harryhausen said in keeping a bit of fantasy in these types of movies instead of hard realism which can enhance the emotional aspect of the viewing process. Even though gritty realism is in vogue in Hollywood, you can look to movies such as Logan’s Run and realize that you don’t have to revert to gritty realism to tell an exciting, gripping and adventurous story. The realism of the dystopian future in Logan’s Run is on the level of a typical Star Trek episode.
There you have it. A couple of flashes from the past. I think most would enjoy Logan’s Run, although I must remind people that movies were slower paced back then, so you might need to take that into account and Logan’s run does have a few slow moments. Planet of the Dinosaurs may be more of an acquired taste, but if in the coming weeks and months and you’re looking for something to watch on a cold raining or snowy day, give one or both of them a chance and let me know what you think!
I had a minor injury when I fell the other day hurting my back and my neck so I am limiting my time on the computer. I will be back posting regularly on Monday.
This past week I picked up the movie Battleship. I was a bit leery buying a movie sight unseen because I have done that in the past only to regret it later. I had seen the trailers and read the reviews which were mostly negative but nothing in either the trailers or the reviews would suggest I wouldn’t like it. The last time I purchased an alien invasion movie was last years Battle: Los Angeles. I loved the trailer for that movie too. Although I generally do like that movie, it starts off very well but then degrades into a generic war movie, my experience with that film did raise my anxiety level just a bit, fearing I may have made a mistake.
I didn’t make a mistake.
This movie is a pure mindless popcorn movie. It stars Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, and Tadanobu Asano. The film was directed by Peter Berg. In many ways this movie is made in the spirit of Independence Day. It is a film that doesn’t take its subject matter too seriously. In my reviews I don’t like to give a detailed outline of the plot because that gets tedious. I will just talk about the things that I liked and disliked about the movie. I love Liam Neeson and he cuts a good figure as the domineering Admiral Terrance Shane, Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet. He also happens to be the father of Samantha Shane, played by Brooklyn Decker the love interest of the main character, Lieutenant Alex Hopper, played by Taylor Kitsch. Lieutenant Hopper is an under achiever who has to win the approval of Admiral Shane in order to marry his daughter. However, because of his attitude and predilection for fighting Hopper is about to get discharged from the Navy after the military exercises he is taking part in. However, he is saved by an alien invasion where he alone (along with a few other ships) have to save humanity.
What ensues is a special effects extravaganza. As an unapologetic lover of special effects this movie delivers them in spades and with enthusiasm. Some of the complaints aimed towards films like this are that they lack a cohesive story or plot. I don’t think that is a fair criticism. Often when people say that these types of stories lack plot development they generally seem to mean that these stories do not have complex plot twists where things that were unknown are revealed later in the film. While that may be true I do not think that more basic linear story telling concludes that the story itself lacks a plot. Sometimes the plot can simply be the journey of an individuals redemption which I feel is at the heart of this movie.
This movie, like Independence Day before it, celebrates patriotism. Samantha Shane is a physical therapist who is helping a man overcome his loss of both legs to discover he is still a whole person and capable of contributing to life. As our heroes stare death in the face and their ships are all destroyed Hopper turns to the only ship left in the area, the retired and venerable USS Missouri. With the help of aging veterans they rise above the odds to defeat the enemy showing that these elderly vets are also capable of still being relevant and valuable to society.
Those are the things I like most about the movie. There were things I did not care for but there are not too many of them. The first thing that I didn’t like was the design of the aliens. They are too human looking. They have quill like protrusions where a beard should be, their eyes are a bit reptilian and they have funky claw like hands but other than that they are very human looking. I view the design as a little unimaginative. I would have liked the aliens to have been more exotic looking. The other thing I didn’t care for in the movie is part of the soundtrack where the music of AC/DC is used. That got on my nerves in a couple of scenes. That is it. That is all I really didn’t like in this movie.
This movie is based on a board game which is also part of the reason I think people closed their minds to this project in the first place. I think the aspects of the game are woven into the movie in a very creative fashion. One of the weapons used by the aliens look similar to the pushpins that you would push into your battleship on the game board. However, when the aliens lodge these into the ship they are extremely destructive. At one point in the battle with the aliens they are unable to track them on radar so they use a grid on a map to try and find the location of the alien ships.
All in all this is an enjoyable movie. Like all movies such as this it asks you to suspend disbelief. I will admit the events in this movie are implausible. So although this movie does have a message at its heart it really is nothing more than a fast paced action adventure movie of humanity trying to survive an alien attack.