Monthly Archives: January 2013

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus 2000

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus was the second film in the Millennium Series of films. It was released in November of 2000. It was directed by Masaaki Tezuka. Like the previous film (Godzilla 2000) this movie uses the same Godzilla suit and design but it is not a direct sequel to that film or any other Godzilla film except the 1994 original.  This would become the halmark of the Millennium Series which, except for two, were stand alone films.

The movie shows that since the 1954 Godzilla attack (shown in black and white footage but with the updated Godzilla design) Godzilla had attacked several other times and was always attacking nuclear power plants forcing the government to close down all nuclera production. In 1996 Godzilla attackes again. Kiriko Tsujimori is in the Japanese Defense force and when attacking Godzilla in Osaka she causes the death of her commanding officer. Tsujimori is then transferred to a scientific unit, the G-Graspers,  which is working on an experimental sattelite called Dimension Tide which is able to create a small balck hole. Durring a test run of Dimension Tide a black whole is created which swallows up an abandoned building. A wormwhole is created as an after effect of the black whole and from the wormwhole an ancient dragon fly flies out and lays an egg which is found by a young boy that is secretly watching the experiment. He takes the egg home but when it starts oozing a liquid he throws it in the sewer. While in the sewer the egg spawns thousands of other eggs which hatch into these large dragon fly creatures called Meganula.

Godzilla makes an apperance one again and is lured to a deserted island so the Dimension Tide can take him out. But before the weapon is launched thousands of the Meganula begin to swarm Godzilla. Although he destroys many of them with his plasma breath ray many  are successful in stinging Godzilla and absorbing his radioactivity. These surviving Meganula return to the city and inject a giant larva with Godzilla’s energy before they die. This new queen dragon fly, called Megaguirus, takes flight. The first actually test of  Dimension Tide on Godzilla fails as he is able to escape the black whole buy burrowing underground. Soon Godzilla heads to the mainland where the territorial minded  Megaguirus and Godzilla do battle. After Godzilla defeats Megaguirus the G-Graspers now want to kill Godzilla. With the Dimension Tide falling out of orbit and unable to lock onto Godzilla Tsujimor takes a fighter jet that Dimension Tide is able to lock onto.  Tsujimor ejects prior to the crash as  Dimension Tide shoots a black whole at Godzilla which swallows him whole making hin disappear forever.

I really do enjoy this film and it has some very good scenes that are well done. The Godzilla franchise is often called a science-fiction instead of a horror franchise and this movie has some of the best science-fiction themes out of all of them. I really like the depcition and concept of the balck whole and I think the special eefcts depicting it are top notch. Somether well filmed scenes involve Godzilla himself. There are some great closeup shots of Godzilla attacking the city that give a great sense of scale and the destruction he brings. I particularly enjoy the senes where Godzilla is being attacked by the swarm of megenula. Great special effects and very well done. I actually feel bad for the big guy and want to hand him some inscet repellant!

Now for some negatives. I really had a hard time liking the main charcter, Kiriko Tsujimori. After her commanding officer is killed she comes off as real tough and hard. I just have had too many experiences with tough women that the main character puts me off a bit. The other thinbg I wasn’t two crazy about was Megaguirus. A giant bug like monster wasn’t that interesting to me. I like the monsters that are most like Godzilla himself. However, the battle between Godzilla and Megaguirus is pretty intense and well done. Megaguirus does give Godzilla run for his money.

Despite those minor negatives, and they are minor to me, Godzilla vs Megaguirus is a very entertaining film and a worthy addition to the franchise.

If you watch this movie, make sure you watch through until the end of the credits for a little surprise!

I rate this movie: B+

Dredd…a review

Oh the irony!! Just after doing a post on excessive violence I watched one of the most violent movies I have seen in a while. It is even more violent than the recently reviewed Looper. Like Total Recall this is a remake of a movie produced in the 1990s. The original movie, called Judge Dredd, starred Sylvester Stallone as the dreaded Judge with Rob Schnieder providing comic relief. The 1995 film did pretty well at the box office despite poor reviews from the critics. The remake did much better with the critics but was a gigantic bomb at the box office bringing in only $13 million domestically and $19 million in the foreign market for a total of $32 million worldwide. This was far short of recapping the $50 million budget which is a small budget for this type of film.

Judge Dredd is based on a comic book character. The premise of both the films and the comic book is a dystopian future where the policefore and judiciary system is combined. The judges dispense justice on the spot. I guess lawyers are not needed in the future. Another aspect of the character is that Dredd is never seen with his judges helmet off. The helmet covers almost everything except the mouth and lower jaw. The eyes are covered and are not seen.  Stallone takes his helmet off many times and is seen throughout most of the movie with the helmet off. This was one of the major complaints from the fans of the comic book against the 1995 film.

Here is my review. I almost shut the movie off! This is very violent and down right depressing! The majority of the movie takes place on one day in a dilapidated highrise building in Mega-City One. Dredd, who is training a female for a Judge’s position, when a drug bust goes bad and the criminals lock down the building and try to hunt down Dredd and his partner.

There is not much of  a plot but there is tons of graphic violence shown in slow motion. The drug that these people are on gives a sense of slowing down time so we the viewers are treated to graphic carnage and bloodshed in order to experience the violence those that are on this drug are experiencing. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings Trilogy) plays the iconic judge. I think he did well overall. The problem isn’t completely in his performance, some of the problems are in the script. Judge Dredd is supposed to be a legendary judge with a brutal and feared reputation. The original 1995 film made this clear with the performance of the larger-than-life Sylvester Stallone. I don’t think Urban as an actor can pull off that the larger-than-life persona that Sylvester Stallone can. I also don’t think the script showed the Dredd character as larger than life or a judge that all feared. He seemed like just one of the many judges out on the streets of Mega-City One.

Plus, other than Arnold and Bruce Willis no one can deliver over-the-top one liners like Stallone. That was part of the fun and joy of the original. While both versions were rated R the original was fun to watch, Stallone was a larger than life Judge Dredd who gets set up by his twin brother, played by Armand Assante, and is exiled and must find his way back into Mega-City One to redeem himself. While that movie was serious it also had fun moments and never took itself too seriously.

As I said in a previous post the Batman movies has led to many comic book movies to take a turn toward gritty realism. While in the Batman franchise that is done with success, with Dredd the gritty realism fails miserably. There is no joy in Mudville.

One positive, or semi-positive aspect of the movie is Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson. her psychic abilities make her a good candidate but she is on the shy and insecure side. Watching her test her skills in the make it or break it day on the job is a highlight in this picture. Without her there really isn’t a story at all. My one complaint, and it isn’t too big, is that she goes from shy-wallflower to cold-hearted judge to quickly.

I really cannot recommend this movie. I suggest you watch the 1995 original if you’re in a Judge Dredd type of mood. I only recommend this movie to those who have stomachs. One final good point is the movie is 95 minutes long and it went by real fast!

Godzilla vs Biollante 1989

I am going to resume reviewing the rest of the Godzilla movies in the franchise. Before I continue reviewing the final series, called the Millennium Series,  I want to back track and review Godzilla vs Biollante which was one of the movies from the Heisei Series that I had not seen yet nor reviewed.

First a little background on why I never saw this movie until recently. In my 20s and 30s I fell away from the Godzilla franchise. One of the reasons for that is the lack of Godzilla movies released to US theaters. I knew the first of the Heisei films, Return of Godzilla, had been released to the theaters and  other the only other Japanese Godzilla movie I had heard of was Godzilla 2000. In 2005 I began to buy Godzilla movies on DVD and discover between 1989-2004 there were many other Godzilla movies than had been produced. All of them had been on VHS but they must have slipped under my Radar. 1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante was one of the movies that I had not seen on VHS and by 2005 the VHS era was over and it wasn’t released on DVD until just last month! So Now I will be able to review this movie.

Before seeing this movie I thought that it had a very strange premise even for a Godzilla movie. Basically,  a scientist, Dr. Shiragami, is working on cells from Godzilla that were found from his previous attack (as depicted in the movie Return of Godzilla). After his daughter Erica  is killed in a terrorist attack he takes the cells from Godzilla and his daughter, combines them with the cells from a rose and creates Biollante a giant plant-based monster. Although I had heard many positive reviews from fans, I went into the movie hopeful but with low expectations.

 The movie also has a sub plot of espionage. In the start of the movie a lone gunman working for a corporation called Biomajor steals the Godzilla cells and takes them to the Middle East Republic of Saradia where Dr. Shiragami works for the government. Shiragami hopes to create a strand of wheat that when combined with Godzilla cells will be able to grow in the most adverse conditions. Five years after Dr. Shiragami’s daughter Erica is killed he successfully mates her cells with the cells of a rose. At this time we meet Miki Saegusa a psychic who has sensed that Godzilla has woken up at the bottom of Mt. Mihara. The Government responds to the threat by activating the Super-X2 craft to combat Godzilla. The Government also is looking into a biological approach to defeating Godzilla and Dr. Shiragami joins in the effort. Henchmen from Biomajor also try to steal Godzilla cells from  Dr. Shiragami but are attacked by the growing rose in his office.

Members of Biomajor then set explosives on the rim of Mt. Mihara releasing Godzilla. Godzilla makes his way to Biollante who seems to be calling for him. The two fight and Biollante is seemingly defeated and Godzilla makes his way to Osaka where he is confronted by the Super-X2. Another battles ensues where Godzilla defeats Super-X2 while leveling the Osaka. While he is in Osaka a poisonous projectile is shot in his mouth. Aft first he seems to have no ill-efect. After leaving Osaka Godzilla is faced once again by Biollante who is now in his…or her…final gigantic form…and the two titans face off for the final time. Godzilla is defeated and it was the combination of Biollante and the poisoned missile that vanquished him. Godzilla collapses into the sea as Dr. Shiragami is assassinated by the lone gunman who in turn is also killed. Godzilla suddenly arises revived and healthy and returns to the sea.

I really enjoyed this movie and felt it was one of the better of the Heisei Series. After having seen this movie I have to say I am impressed with the design of Biollante. Impressive and frightening looking monster in its final form. I also think the idea behind it, while being a bit hokey, certainly is new, creative and demonstrates that someone was thinking outside the box. The battles between the two are also impressive as Biollante is not the pushover you think a plant-based monster would be. At one point Biollante jabs one of his vines right through the palm of Godzilla’s hand.

The human aspect is also interesting although with the espionage and the double dealing it is a little confusing at first to know who is who and what exactly is going on. I felt a lot of empathy for Dr. Shiragami who is trying to save some aspect of his dead daughter’s life. This film also debuts Miki Saegusa, a clairvoyant, who would be used in every subsequent Heisei Series film. I actually feel that it is in this film where her character is most useful. There is a great scenes where a group of children, who all have been having the same dream, are asked to draw their dream for Miki and when asked to show their drawings to Miki everyone puts up a picture they drew of Godzilla. That is a great moment in the film and it is startling because it is so unexpected.

Most people watch these movies for the monster battles and the destruction of cities. As I already mentioned the battle with Biollante, but what is equally impressive and enjoyable to watch is the destruction of Osaka by Godzilla and the military. These scenes are filmed very well and have great special effects. It also is an important dory point and is not brief yet also does not over stay its welcome.

I have met some fans that did not care too much for the Heisei Series. I happen to enjoy the entire series and feel that there really is only one sub-par movie (Space Godzilla). Godzilla vs Biollante is one of the best movies of this series and even one of the better over all Godzilla films of the entire Franchise. Tone of  a movie is always hard to pinpoint and describe. I enjoy the tone of the film and it has a look and feel very much in line with the Return of Godzilla. It has a tone that I feel is missing from not only other Godzilla movies in the Heisei Series but other Godzilla movies in general. Because the tone of Godzilla vs Biollante and The Return of Godzilla are so different they are often forgotten movies. I think that is a shame because both movies are gems in the crown of Toho Godzilla movies.

I rate this movie: B+

 

Violence in movies….

Far be it for me to turn this fun blog into something political. I really do not want to do that. Although I cannot turn on the news, read a newspaper or browse Facebook without running into the gun control debate that is not a debate I want to bring up here. One point in the debate does have relevance here, and that is the charge that Hollywood movies are part of the blame in creating a generation of people prone to violence. I think cause and effect are complex subjects and I think the question itself is an overgeneralization and demonstrates black and white thinking. So I want to bring it closer to home and discuss my feelings about violent movies. The Newtown shootings did have me evaluating my enjoyment of violent movies and I have found myself a little less comfortable with certain types of violence.

I have enjoyed movies such as Goodfellas, The Godfather, the lethal Weapon franchise, the Die Hard franchise. Heck, I am a huge Godzilla fan which has the destruction of major cities in every movie. So I had to ask myself why is watching violence so enjoyable? Are we desensitized to violence? I don’t think so. I think the bottom line is that we know that the violence in movies is not real. I think there is a part of our psyche that does know the difference between violence and reality. I think that is the way it is for most people.

We are an aggressive species. We do have violent tendencies and anger is a problem for a lot of people and it can take a life time for some to learn how to manage that volatile emotion. Many episodes from the original Star Trek series addressed mans violence and the show wanted depict human society as having become less violent. It is something I hope that does happen although I am not holding my breath. On the other hand, as I have read my history, I think we are less violent to some degree.

I find that as I have gotten older I am enjoying movies that are not to dark and depressing. I watch movies to be entertained and therefore these movies need to have some humor and light moments to them and not take themselves to seriously. So I find myself moving away from films that are too dark and violent. I have no desire to see Djano Unchained because of that. I recently watched the new Total Recall movie. The original was rated R and very violent while the new movie was rated PG-13 and toned down the violence. I liked that aspect of it.

So I probably will always enjoy car chases, phaser battles, sword fights, explosions, monster’s fighting and the occasional gun battle. I just want those movies to not celebrate violence. I still want these movies to be fun and enjoyable.

Thanks for reading my little rant, and I will be back on Friday with a return to the final movies in my Godzilla series.

Looper

I have wanted to see this movie since I saw the trailer come out last year. This past week I finally had the chance to view it. I really thought the premise was new and unique. It is a time travel movie which is set in the near future of this century. The main part of the story is set in 2044 when time travel has not been discovered or invented yet. Once time-travel is established it is swiftly outlawed therefore it becomes the jurisdiction of organized crime. Crime bosses begin sending  people from the future back to the past of 2044 to be assassinated. These assassins are paid with silver bars  strapped to the victims back. They assassins kill their victims as they immediately materialize in the past.

When your service as an assassin is no longer needed your future self is sent back to you for assassination. Since all the victims are hooded when they appear in the past for assassination, the assassins never know who they are killing. You will not know you have killed your future self until you see that instead of silver bars being strapped to the back of the victim, you will find gold bars instead, thanking you for your service. The assassins loop is now closed, which is why these assassins are called loopers.

The movie stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. Willis and Gordon-Levitt play the older and younger versions of the main character Joe Simmons. Everything is going well for Young Joe. The silver bars that are found on the victims are to be given to the head Crime Lord in the present (2044). The Crime Lord, played by Jeff Daniels, is well aware that Young Joe is keeping half of the silver for himself. One day an unhooded victim materializes before Young Joe and it turns out to be his future self, who in no way is ready to be killed. Old Joe has come to the past to kill the Crime Lord, called the Rainmaker, who is in charge of the crime syndicate in the future. After confronting his younger self in a diner where he tells his younger self that he has turned his life around in the future, Young Joe makes it clear to his older self that he is going to finish the job and close the loop.

In 2044 the future Crime Lord, the Rainmaker, is just a child, so Old Joe is looking for him but is not clear on his identity. It just so happens that the young rainmaker, who has telekinetic powers, lives in the farm-house next to where Young Joe kills his victim. The Rainmaker’s mother or guardian (the movie is not clear on that point) and Young Joe hold out in the farm-house protecting the young boy. As this is going on assassins are after Young Joe for his failure to close the loop and kill his older self. We also discover that Old Joe is out to kill the rainmaker because the rainmaker kills his wife in the future after she had helped him turn his life around.

I do not like to spoil films so I will not go into detail on how the film ends.

This film was on many reviewers lists as being one of the best of 2012. I really wanterd to like this movie much more than I did. I like time-travel movies and mafia movies so what is not to like? I think I am losing my enjoyment for very violent films and this is a very violent film. I have more to discuss on  that topic on Wednesday’s blog. The later part of the movie depicts Old Joe killing children he suspects as the rainmaker. Although the film doesn’t show the killings but it does show Old Joe going after them and it is mentioned in the film that Old Joe has killed them. I generally don’t like movies with a dystopian view of the future and although we don’t get a view of the majority of society, just organized crime, the move does show a bleak future is many ways. I think the word bleak is a good description of the movie.

Another complain of the film is that once we get to the farm-house and the interactions between Young Joe, rainmaker (called Cid as a younger child) and his mother Sara, the movie actually slows down and gets a little tedious for me. There is a plot hole in the movie where we see Young Joe actually killing Old Joe but then at some point arrive back to that scene but this time Old Joe escapes. I don’t think the reasons for that are well explained.

I usually like Bruce Willis. I recently read a book by Kevin Smith who directed Cop Out a movie starring Bruce Willis. Smith did not have a lot of positive things to say about Willis. One of the things he mentioned in his book was that Willis didn’t want to memorize a lot of dialogue and changed many scenes so he didn’t have to speak. That came to mind with this film. Other than the diner scene with his younger self, Willis doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in the movie. I felt disconnected to his character because of that.

This movie is essentially joyless and that is one of the reasons I didn’t care for it. That along with the violence and the slower pace of the second act where the movie drags. I was going to turn the movie off but was engaged enough to see it through to the end. I really did like the performance from  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I had recently seen in the Dark Knight Rises. He is a bright spot in a dark and somber film.

An Open letter to JJ. Abrams & Matt Reeves

Dear JJ. Abrams & Matt Reeves,

It was 5 years ago today that the movie Cloverfield opened at the theaters. I am wondering where is the sequel? Will I ever see one? I loved the movie. I have been a fan of Godzilla and other giant monster movies since I was very young. With Pacific Rim coming out this summer and with Godzilla coming out in 2014 I think the time is right for a sequel.

Five years ago I accidentally stumbled across the initial teaser trailer on YouTube. I most have watched it a dozen times in one night. I heard it was about a giant monster attacking New York. I joined a message board dedicated solely for the movie and really got caught up with the viral marketing for that film. It was a lot of fun discussing the clues and searching for clues and wondering what the creature was going to look like. With each trailer people would post screen shorts as we tried to see more detail in the creature design. I applaud you for the viral marketing it really enhanced my anticipation and the enjoyment of the film.

I saw the movie 4 times in the theater and really enjoyed it. My only qualm and quibble with the film is I did not see the monster enough. A couple of more scenes showing the monster would have been appreciated. I really love the work of the extremely talent Neville Page and his marvelously rendered and designed creature needs to be seen…again and again!

I do want to thank you both for your work. I also, as a huge Star Trek fan, loved the 2009 movie and the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, looks like it may even be better than that one. I really think a sequel to Colverfield would be well accepted and hopefully I will get my wish and be able to view a Cloverfield sequel sometime soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bill Foley

Total Recall ~ Total Remake

I purchased the Total Recall remake this past week and today I would like to review it. The comparisons between the remake and the 1990 original are inevitable so I will be comparing the two. As I said last week this movie bombed at the box office and was ripped apart by critics. Despite all of that I really did end up liking this movie! It depicts a very dystopian future and I usually do not like that type of movie, but in this case the dystopian future really isn’t dwelled on and serves more as a backdrop to the story. Not a complete backdrop to the story because the oppression of part of the population does feature into the tale that is being told.

Synopsis:

Everyman, Doug Quaid, travels from the Colony (formally Australia) to the United Federation of Britain via “The Fall” a gravity based elevator which travels through the center of the earth. These two places are the only habitibal sections of earth that remains after the years of chemical warfare has left the rest of the plant inhospitable to human life. Although Quaid, (played by Colin Farrell) has a lovely wife (played by Kate Beckinsale) he is tired of his menial job and goes seeking out Rekall a place where you can have more pleasant memories implanted into your brain. As he is going through the procedure the technician (played by John Cho) claims that Quaid has not been honest and that his brain patterns show that he is in fact a spy. Suddenly, troops move in and Quiad quickly kills them all. He runs home all distraught and when he tries to explain to his wife what has happened she tries to kill him because she too is a spy and their marriage is just an implanted memory. The remainder of the movie is a non-stop roller coaster ride as Quiad tries to find out who he is. Is he just a laborer having an adventure that was implanted or is he a double agent that is either working for Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless Chancellor of the United Federation of Britain, or for Matthias Lair, the leader of the Resistance?

Pros: Some of the positive aspects I see are what the critics complained about. I do see their point though. Their complaint is that aspects of the film are derivative of other movies. The entire look of the film, the sets, the costumes and cities depicted in the film look like they are taken straight from Blade Runner. The robotic troops seem as if they are from Star Wars and I Robot. The floating cars look like they are from I Robot and Minority Report. As I said, I can see their point but it doesn’t bother me or detract from my enjoyment of the film. The film is visually stunning and this world the movie makers have created really adds to the story and the sense of despair the people feel.

The movie also plays homage to the 1990 original which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some scenes are similar and we have the three breasted prostitute as well as a lady who arrives at the United Federation of Britain for “two weeks” and is dressed similarly as in the 1990 film. The action scenes are great and full of suspense. I think all of the actors, Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Beil perform very well. In the 1990 version you knew Arnold was a larger than life person and his character could kick some ass. With Colin Farrell as just an average Joe, the premise of the movie seems much easier to take. Is he a double agent or is he having a bad experience with a memory implant gone wrong? Kate Beckinsale really eats up the scenes she is in and stands out for me in the movie.

I also want to add that I was at first disappointed that Mars was not going to be featured in this film. Upon viewing the movie I learned that Mars was not essential to the story and I ended up not missing it.

Cons: This movie is not as fun as the 1990 original. Arnold really had some great one liners in that movie and this one is pretty devoid of humor. The closest we get to some humor are some of the wise cracks from Kate Beckinsale’s character. Another thing that was a con for me was the inclusion of the three breasted prostitute. Mars and its mutants are nowhere to be found in this movie so the three breasted prostitute seems very out-of-place in this movie. It is like she doesn’t belong there.

One criticism I want to mention is one I have mixed feeling about. The original movie, and short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”  by Philip K. Dick, are very ambiguous about whether or not this adventure is really happening to Quaid or is it just in his mind? This film seems to play down that ambiguity. Although the character may wonder if this is real or just a dream, it seems to the audience that it is really happening. I think that making the movie a little more ambiguous in that light would have improved the film.

Conclusion: I do like the movie and it is an enjoyable take on a creative story. I am glad we have two versions to enjoy.

Chrisopher Nolan’s Batman Franchise.

I recently reviewed the third movie in this series, The Dark Knight Rises, and I wanted to write my thoughts and opinions about the franchise as a whole. As with many movies and franchises I often have mixed feelings that are neither completely positive or negative. Such is the case with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Franchise.

I remember all the positive reviews that Batman Begins received and I learned that this movie was going to be grounded in reality with the premise being “what if Batman really existed in the real world?” I actually liked that idea and was eager to see how it was played out. Upon finally seeing Batman Begins I felt that someone finally got Batman right and I was very pleased. To this day Batman Begins remains one of my all time favorite Batman movies. I think it has drama and excitement and a well crafted story. It is a tight story, meaning not a real complex plot with too many events and characters to keep track of.

However, that was to change with the Dark Knight. I did, and do enjoy the story, yet the plot is a little more complex and over crowded. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is brilliant and he did deserve the Academy Award for his portrayal. The movie goes on a bit long and there are times I am confused to what is going on. Does that say more about my ability to comprehend or was it the director’s inability to keep things clear? I actually fault Christopher Nolan. He does have a reputation for making films that have very complex plots. I also enjoyed the Harvey Dent/Two Face character and the make-up special effects for him were great. The ending was also intriguing as Batman was on the run and being viewed as a true outlaw.

I was disappointed that the “Batman as an outlaw” angle was played down in the Dark Knight Rises. Bruce Wayne hung up his cape and cowl and became a recluse. Yes, by the end of the movie Batman is redeemed and seen for the hero of Gotham that he was/is. I just thought they would have played up more on the Batman as an outlaw angle. I will not rehash my review here I will just restate that I liked the movie a great deal and it follows right behind Batman Begins as my favorite of the trilogy.

There is something wrong though. I really like these movies and I will watch them again but there is something gnawing at my stomach about these movies and I could not figure it out at first. After watching the Dark Knight Rises I did figure out what was gnawing at me. What bothers me is the original premises: “what if Batman really existed in the real world?” In the end, after all the three movies are over, I still have a feeling that at some leve these were not Batman movies. These movies are supposed to be comic book movies and I think having some element in the movie that reminds us that this is a fantasy makes these movies more light and fun. While Batman is a darker character than most superheroes there still is a fantasy element to him and that was missing from the trilogy.

I think the 1989 Batman movie by Tim Burton kept Batman in his comic book world. While his sequel, Batman Returns, is a bit too dark for my tastes they are rooted in being a comic book movie. I must say the more recent Marvel comic book movies have actually achieved the best tone for these types of movies.

I am a bit Leary about the next Superman movie. Superman is by far my favorite Superhero and I think he is more of a big boy scout than a Dark Knight like Batman and he needs a lighter touch. While I am very encouraged by the Man of Steel trailers I have seen I hope Nolan and Snyder didn’t forget to put some of the fun back into the movie.

The future of Batman  on the big screen? I am not sure. I wouldn’t complain if Christian Bale joined the Justice League movie now in pre-production. Then again I won’t complain if he doesn’t either. If Warner Brothers wants to connect the Nolan Trilogy to the Justice League movie that is alright and if they want to go in a new direction with Batman I am alright with that too. The movies and his performance was good and I wouldn’t mind seeing him return as Batman.

What is coming in the new year??

Like last year there were many movies coming out that I was looking forward to and 2013 is no exception. Today I want to take a brief look at some of the movies I am looking forward to. One of the interesting aspects of following movies is that despite all my work some studios keep their movies close to the chest and I will not even hear about some of them until it is close to their release date. I will only highlight some of the movies I am looking forward to. If I talked about all of them this post would be book length!

Here are my top 3 that I am looking forward to.

1. The Man of Steel. Starring Henry Cavill as Superman and directed by Zac Snyder. I have been a fan of Superman since I was very small. He is by far my favorite Superhero. Christopher Nolan has been on board as a producer and he and Snyder want to bring a sense of realism to Superman. Some fans, like myself, do not want to see Superman being a dark and brooding character. He isn’t Batman after all. Despite that slight worry I am very optimistic about the movie. From the trailers I have seen I am almost giddy with anticipation.  I also really love the redesigned costume. This movie also features Zod as the villain who has not been seen since Superman II. Superman II has been my favorite Superman movie so far therefore I am happy to see Zod return. This movie is a reboot of the franchise and will have no relation to the Christopher Reeve Superman films. Sometimes I am not crazy about origin stories because it takes too long for the superhero to show up, but from the trailers I have seen it does seem like Superman will be seen a great deal of the movie.

2. Star Trek Into Darkness. I have been a fan of Star Trek since I saw the original series in syndication back in the early 70s. I have loved all of the movies, for the most part, and the other series in the franchise…except for DS9 which I could never get into. After the poor showing of Star Trek: Nemesis the Franchise was pretty much dead in the water…or should that be dead in space? Then along comes JJ. Abrams who reboots the original series characters and delivered a great movie that rescued the franchise from the abyss. A couple of trailers have been released and as much as I enjoyed the most recent movie this looks to top that one. A madman is on the loose (ok, that is nothing new) and Kirk looses his Captain’s chair due to being reckless and must find a way back to his proper place while saving the galaxy once again.

3. Pacific Rim. Giant Monsters rise from the Pacific via a dimensional portal and begins to destroy the earth. In a last-ditch attempt giant robots are formed to combat these giant beasts. I just love giant monster movies! The trailer to this does look pretty awesome. Yeah, the robots have a Transformers vibe to them but from what I have seen the movie looks like it will be great. I haven’t seen too many of the monsters and not sure much of the plot beyond the synopsis but giant monsters fighting giant robots?…how much more does a Nerd like myself want?

Godzilla comes out in 2014 and had it come out this year it would have been a trifecta for me. Superman, Star Trek and Godzilla was how my love for science fiction started when I was young.

There are many more movies coming out this year…that is the focus of this blog, to feature what is up and coming and also to look nostalgically at the past.

Keep checking back as I will feature more movies for the coming year!

2012 in Review: Part II

Today I am going to review the worst of the science-fiction/fantasy movies of 2012. I always say that I am a pretty easy to please movie viewer. I think that is true. My empirical evidence for that is the three movies that made my top 10 list of my favorite of the year. Battleship,  John Carter and Wrath of the Titans, made many reviewer’s list of some of the worst movies of 2012. Battleship and John Carter did not do well at the box office. Wrath of the Titans earned $83 million domestically and $218 million internationally for a worldwide total of $301 million. This was a pretty good return on a $150 million budget. However, Wrath of the Titans took in about 100 million less than its predecessor, 2010’s, Clash of the Titans, another movie the critics ripped to shreds. But I liked them both. I enjoyed Battleship and John Carter (both starring Taylor Kitsch) for what they were; fun action adventure movies. Sure, they were not perfect but I think they told good stories, had characters that were interesting, great eye candy in wonderfully produced special effects, and most of all, I found them entertaining. I find myself as I have gotten older that I am gravitating toward movies that are fun and do not take themselves all that seriously and these three fit that bill.  Sure, I still like some serious “makes you think” type of science-fiction and fantasy films but they have become the exception rather than the rule.

Now, on to the worst movies of 2012…of those that I have seen.

Snow White and the Huntsman. I really wanted to like this movie. It had Chris Hemsworth (Thor and George Kirk) and also Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Academy Award winner, Charlize Theron. The movie also had great special effects and was telling a time-honored German tale that had become famous through the pens of the Brothers Grimm. So why didn’t I like it? First of all it was too dark and gritty for my taste and it tried very hard to be like The Lord of the Rings with epic battle scenes. While I enjoyed the performances of Hemsworth and Theron (who was deliciously evil as Queen Revenna) it was the performance of Stewart that put me off of the film. Her one note wooden portrayal of Snow White literally put me to sleep. I did lightly doze off for a few moments. So it is difficult to root for a heroine who seems like she is sleep walking through the movie. Maybe this should have been called Sleeping Beauty and the Huntsman!?

Another film I saw and didn’t care for was The Watch. This movie starred Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn &  Jonah Hill. It was a science-fiction comedy about a neighborhood watch that discovers an alien invasion. I generally like these comedians and have seen them in movies I have enjoyed. I also liked the premise because alien invasion movies are among my favorites in the genre. But this one left me flat. Sure, it had some laughs, good special effects and a great alien creature design, but the majority of the jokes fell flat and seemed forced. I ended up not caring too much about the characters and the plot itself proved uninteresting.

The other bad movie I saw was Dark Shadows. I enjoyed the Gothic/Horror soap opera of the 60s and 70s so I wanted to give this a chance despite not being the biggest Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fan. I was disappointed. It started out well but the tone was so uneven. It couldn’t decide if it was a serious gothic horror tale or a dark comedy. As the third act of the movie devolved into wacky chaos, as third acts often do, I decided I didn’t like it.

The last two movies I want to discuss are two that I have not seen and have ended up on many reviewers “worst of” list for the year. They are both remakes of 1990s films. They are Total Recall and Dredd respectively. They both performed very poorly at the box office and are considered to have bombed. Dredd, starring Karl Urban (Star Trek), was a remake of the 1995 film, Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone playing the iconic comic book character. The 1995 film received a paltry 18% negative rating on Rotten tomatoes but did better at the box office with a domestic total of $34 million and a world-wide total of $113 million. The 2012 offering, simply called Dredd, did much better with the critics and received a 78% positive rating on Rotten tomatoes but did miserably at the box office, bringing in only $13 million domestically and world-wide total of 30 million. Quite the bomb! Dredd is rated R and is very gritty, dark and violent. The 1995 version was also rated R and although it is violent, the violence is not as graphic as the remake. The 1995 original also had some humor and is enjoyable. Due to its graphic violence and gritty tone I will watch this movie to see if it is one I would like to own.

The other remake was Total Recall starring Colin Farrell. The 1990 original starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original has an 84% positive rating on Rotten tomatoes and did $119 million domestically and a world-wide total of $261 million making the original a certified hit and classic film! The remake didn’t do as well. It received a 31% negative rating on Rotten tomatoes and its box office totals were $58 million domestically but a better over seas performance brought the world-wide total up to a respectable $198 million. The studio still considers this a bit of an underperformer. I am actually going to purchase this movie before seeing it. It does look good and some friends who have seen it tell me that I would like it. I am a bit disappointed that the movie doesn’t depict the journey to Mars like the 1990 original did, but I am told that is plays a lot like the movie Minority Report which is another movie I liked (and own). Both Total Recall and Minority Report were based on short stories written by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.  

All in all it wasn’t a bad movie watching experience and I didn’t see too many duds.