Monthly Archives: May 2013
I have not done a post like this in a long while. I want to look at some movies that are in development. I do not know a lot about some of these but I thought I would list them anyway.
This is from AICN:
Bloody-Disgusting has some information on the upcoming POLTERGEIST remake/reboot/sequel. It is going to begin filming this September with MONSTER HOUSE director, Gil Kenan, at the helm and Sam Raimi producing. They have some more info on plot at the link above but beware of spoilers. Moviehole then followed that report up with some more information. The new POLTERGEIST won’t be a remake but a reboot/sequel that takes place in the same universe (think this year’s EVIL DEAD) and doesn’t ignore the events of the original. They also has more specific story beats and call backs the new film will have at the link above.
The rest is from me. 🙂
2. Dungeons & Dragons: Based on the role playing game. I never played the game but I like movies with dragons and other “sword and sandle” type of movies. I hope this one gets made!
3. The Fantastic Four: This looks to be getting a re-boot. The first to movies, while not terrible, certainly is not up to the quality of the other Marvel based movies. If they can do this like Iron Man then they will have a big hit.
This was a movie that I wanted to review after reviewing all of the Godzilla movies. This is, along with my favorite Godzilla movies, one of my all-time favorite monster movies. Released in 1966 the movie was made by the stellar trio that had made the Godzilla movies up to that point: Director Ishirō Honda, Special Effects, Eiji Tsuburaya and music by Akira Ifukube. Honda wrote the script along with Takeshi Kimura. Kimura wrote many other monster and science-fiction movies for Toho such as, Rodan, The Mysterians, Matango, Frankenstein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas, King Kong Escapes, Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Hedorah. War of the Gargantuas was a loose sequel to the movie Frankenstein Conquers the World. In the Japanese version of War of the Gargantuas they were called the Frankensteins but all refferences to Frankenstein were dropped in the American version.
Plot Synopsis: The movie begins when a giant green monster attacks a ship. The survivors tell of the giant horrific monster that pushed their ship under water. Soon other appearances of the creature rouse the suspicions of both the military and an American scientist Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his colleague Akemi (Kumi Mizuno). After the Green Gargantua is seen attacking an airport Dr. Stewart and Akemi fear that it may be the Gargantua they took care of a few years ago. However, they continue to insist that their Gargantua was gentle. Shortly the military engages the Green Gargantua with Masers. suddenly as the military is gaining the upper hand, another, larger, Brown Gargantua comes and rescues the Green one. Soon Dr. Stewart and Akemi realize the Brown Gargantua is the one they took care of. They also theorize that the Green Gargantua is the brother of the brown one and was created by cells that had come off him. When the Brown Gargantua saves Akemi after she falls of a cliff she and Dr. Stewart realize he is still gentle and tries to persuade the military to save both of them. The Brown Gargantua is angered when he sees that his brother had eaten the hikers in the mountains and the two begin an epic battle that eventually leads to their demise in a volcano.
Pros: I really like the design of the monsters! Gaira (the Green Gargantua) is uglier than his brown brother, Sanda, who is more ruggedly handsome, if you can even say that about a monster! One of the aspects of the design that I like is that the actual suit actors have their own eyes showing, giving the monsters more emotion and character. These monsters were also smaller in scale than Godzilla and all of his monster pals. Gaira stood 25 meters (82ft) while his brother Sanda stood 30 meters (98ft). The movie has a lot of suspense and when I saw the movie as a young person it was scary. Today some scenes are still a bit creepy. One of my very favorite scenes is when the hikers are walking up the path in the mountains and in fog between the trees they come across the Green Gargantua, It is a short scene but very effective! I like the plot and Kumi Mizuno is sure pleasing on the eye. She is also a very good actress and I like all the Toho Kaiju movies she is in. The movie is well paced and does not drag at all. The story of how one Gargantua is good and the other is evil and how the scientists desire to save the good one, and are unable, is touching. Along with a good story there is plenty of monster action and the final fight between the two brothers is well done.
Cons: For a long time I really didn’t have any complaints for this movie. Sure the ending is pretty identical to the original Rodan movie where both monsters die in a suddenly erupting volcano, but that really never bothered me. In the last couple of years I have noticed a couple of flaws. Someone pointed out to me that Russ Tamblyn practically sleep walks his way through the movie. I think it is sad to say that his performance is pretty mellow. He stays calm, cool and collected through the entire movie and really doesn’t show a large range of emotion. It is noticeable for me yet it really doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the movie. Another thing I have noticed, and it is only a minor complaint, is that the scale is off for these monsters. I know, I know this maybe something only obsessive nerds like myself may notice. In some scenes the monsters are scaled larger than in others. For example, in the airport scene when Gaira is on the tarmac he towers over the jumbo jets that are there. In the very next scene when Gaira grabs the woman out of the airport and eats her, she hangs out his hand like King Kong carrying Fay Wray! If she was that big then even she wouldn’t fit in the jumbo jets on the tarmac. My other major complaint!? No sequel!!
Thoughts: One of my top favorite monster movies. A classic Toho monster movie, one of their very best. I enjoy it as much as the original Godzilla movie. I never tire of it. I am disappointed that Toho never did a sequel. There were rumors that a sequel with one of the Gargantuas fighting Godzilla was going to be made but never was. A dream I have is that now that monster movies are being made by American studios, it would be great if this one were remade with modern special effects in a big budget American production. A guy can dream can’t he?
The one that started it all. I saw this movie in the theater when I was 13 and it mesmerized me. I re-watched this movie for the review and although I have seen it countless times over the years I wanted to watch it as if I were seeing it again for the first time. If you watch all the movies in chronological order you may forget that this movie is like walking into a story that is in the middle of being told. That is what made it so very interesting and drew me into the story back in 1977. Who were these characters and what was going on? Lucas really did know how to pull you into the story and deliver such state of the art special effects.
The movie has everything that makes for great science-fiction and fantasy. A young teenager caught in the boredom of life who sets off on a quest to battle the evil Empire. A wise mentor, who like a wizard in ancient tales, trains hims in ways. The dashing rogue anti-hero who is only in it for himself. The strong female who is in need of rescuing but is no damsel in distress. Then you have the evil dark lord, Darth Vader, who are plucky band of underdog heroes must defeat. We also have some other entertain characters like the droids C3PO and R2D2. wookie
This film also has something that is not always present in the prequels, namely chemistry between the actors. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford gel together tremendously well. Even though in the movie they have only recently come together they seems as if they are old friends meant to be together. As I have mentioned before, these films are an homage to the serial cliff hangers of the 40s and 50s. Scene after scene shows are heroes in one precarious situation after another. However, these scenes of action and adventure are not a substitute for great story telling and character development.
Although it would take all three movies for each of these three main characters to change and grow, the story in Star Wars IV: A New Hope is captivating and riveting. From the start of the movie we really don’t know too much of what is going on. There is an Evil Empire, with Darth Vader being one of the powerful old Jedi Knight who has the power of the force, there is a giant space station called the Death Star and the droid R2D2 is carrying the schematic plans to the Death Star. When Vader stops the ship carrying Princess Lia the droids are sent to the nearby planet, Tatooine, where they are eventually sold to the Lars family and their adopted son, Luke Skywalker. The droid is looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke thinks it means the old hermit living in the hills, Old Ben Kenobi, played by the great actor Sir Alec Guinness . Luke and Obi-Wan hire smuggler Han Solo and his Wookie, Chewbacca, to take the plans back to the rebel base on his faster-than-light ship the Millennium Falcon and rescue Princess Lia and then proceed to blow up the Death Star.
The movie is a classic not only of the science-fiction/fantasy genre, but of all genres. I think it is the best of the entire series. Now that doesn’t mean the other movies in the franchise are not good, they are, and the next movie, The Empire Strikes Back, which I will review next week, is often cited as the best movie. However, you never forget your first love.
As many of my readers know I am a huge Godzilla fan. So I do focus a good portion of this blog to that character. One of my interests in the character that has grown over the last year or so surrounds the design of Godzilla himself. I think that also ties into my hobby as a budding artist. In my love of Godzilla and other giant monsters I enjoy seeing how they are designed. When I was following the viral marketing of Cloverfield I was very curious to how that monster was designed. After the movie came out and I discovered that Neville Page created Cloverfield that also increased my interest in how these monsters are designed and depicted.
I am not going to go into an elaborate history of Godzilla suits…although I may do just that some day, today I will just focus on what I have liked in these designs over the years. I like the fact that he was and is a mutated dinosaur. When I was little my first love were dinosaurs so naturally I would go ga-ga for Godzilla. I always liked the spines on Godzilla and the menacing face. The best design of the Showa Era (1954-1975) was the suit that was in Godzilla vs Mothra (AKA Godzilla vs the Thing).
s the series went on and got more child friendly Godzilla did get more friendlier looking. In fact it has been often said that he resembled a Muppet in the 1968 classic Destroy all Monsters.
In the Heisei Era we got a more serious looking Godzilla. All-in-all I like the Heisei Godzilla but there are times when the face looked too feline. The last series Toho produced was the millennium Series and it produced my favorite design. Godzilla 2000. For the first time Godzilla is actually green. Prior to that he was actually a dark charcoal gray or sometimes even brown. The spines were exaggerated and enlarged and that is my favorite part. They were also given a purplish hue to the. Years ago if I had learned that my favorite design would be a green Godzilla with purple spines I would have said you’re nuts!! But it really works!
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/Dark_Godzilla_by_Gojigirl_zpsd64b8672.jpg Alright this model is Blue and Prurple…but it still works.
The Millennium series also saw two other great Godzilla designs. Kiyru-Goji which looked like the Godzilla 200o design with more traditional colors and a slightly redesigned head. Then in 2003 with the Movie, Godzilla, King Godhira, Mother Giant Monsters-all-out-attack where Godzilla was brown and had white eyes with no pupils and he looks pure evil.
The other design I want to talk about is the 1998 American Godzilla, now renamed Zilla by Toho Studios. I really liked this design. Sure, he is a mutated Iguana and not a mutated dinosaur, but a cool design none the less. I won’t go into defending him of the movie, i am on record here stating how much I do like them both and there is no need to rehash that here.
With that in mind I have a link to a petition to have S.H. Monsters Art, who does excellent detailed work and has done great work on other Godzilla figures, make a detailed figure of Zilla. I hope it happens because it is a great design!
To close this post I wanted to point you to a Facebook page I created which discusses the 60 year History of the different Godzilla designs in both the movies, comics, toys and art.
This second prequel movie, Star Wars II: Attack of the clones is also a treat for the eyes. There are many spectacular sights and wonderfully designed creatures.
In trilogies often the middle movie can suffer because often issues will not be resolved. Over all this is a pretty good film although it gets bogged down in one of the issues that played hampered the first film. Namle, the politics that drives the plot. I think if you’re a fan that gets caught up in the minutia of the Star Wars universe then the story of how the Republic became the evil Galactic Empire might be more interesting. Although I did like the plot line of the building of the secret clone army.
Pros: I do like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. We really only saw Sir Alex Guiness in the role for this character in one movie. Yes he has cameos as a ghost in the others but I really think McGregor, in having three movies to flesh out the character, really is the one we get to know the best. The scenes I felt that showed the best sense of suspense and intrigue were the ones where Obi-Wan goes to Kamino and engages Jango Fett. We also get to see the young Boba Fett, who would become a loved character in the original trilogy. The opening scene and the attack on Padme’s ship is attacked is exciting and well executed. So is the chase scene with Anakin and Obi-Wan as they go after the bounty hunter who tried a second attack om Padme. The scene in the arena where our galant heroes fight these vicious beasts and when Yoda and the rest of the Jedi, along with the clone army, fight off the separatists is great action and adventure and it is all done spectacularly. The fight between Yoda and Count Dooku is also well done and a highlight of the movie.
Cons: The biggest negative factor is Hayden Christensen. At times his acting is stiff and wooden. Worse than jake Lloyd in my opinion. When he is trying to be rebellious he just comes across as whinny and complaining. Also, the relationship between Anakin and Padme seems so forced and even awkward. They also do not show many good reasons why Padme would be interested in Anakin to begin with. Maybe it is true that girls like bad bays. But the problem is, he isn’t bad, just obnoxious. The other negative aspect for me was the story dragged a bit. I remember seeing the movie in the theater and getting a little restless. It did pick back up in pace…and interest…toward the end for me.
Thoughts: Overall I still enjoy this movie despite the flaws. I do not have too much to add from my last over-all thoughts from the Phantom Menace. We know Anakin is going to be seduced by the Dark Side of the Force but the problem is Anakin was not a real likeable character in the movie. I don’t know if that is due to how he was written or how Christensen played him? Either way, it does bring the movie down a bit. However, the Pros out weigh the Cons in many ways. Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman play characters I did care about. Even though the politics was a bit boring and even confusing at times I did like seeing how the Republic was crumbling.
It was reported last week that Jurassic Park IV is on hold. Not permanently I hope. Bryce Dallas Howard and David Oyelowo were front-runners to join the cast. Colin Trevorrow has been tapped to direct the next film but Universal Studios has canceled the release date from June 13, 2014 but no other release date has been Set. Universal Studio said that the reason was to give the film more time for development in order to “bring audiences the best possible version.” Does this mean that JP4 will be stuck in development hell? I don’t think so. It doesn’t sound as if there is a major crisis with production. It just seems like, to me anyways, that the release date they set did not give them the time to produce the quality movie they want.
I was not upset by this news. First of all next year Legendary Pictures is releasing Godzilla and I am really looking forward to that. That may be enough dino-action for me. Godzilla is filming right now as production has moved to Hawaii and the release date for that movie is set for May 16, 2013. JP4, on the other hand, has not even started filming yet! So there was no way they were going to meet the June 13, 2014 release date. I would rather have them take their time than rush a movie onto the screens.
Speaking of Universal Studios…There was news last week that Legendary pictures (LP), who has been in partnership with Warner Brothers Pictures (WB) may be parting company. LP & WB have produced such recent hits as the Nolan Batman trilogy, the new Superman movie, Clash of the Titans, 300, Wrath of the Titans and others. They are also jointly producing Godzilla. If they do part ways I have been told it will not hamper anything related to the Godzilla movie.
However, there was a rumor that is the split does happen LP might team up with Universal Studios! Now, as a Godzilla fan that would be sweet music to my ears! I am pretty certain that if Godzilla is succesful then there will be a sequel. Universal Studio owns the rights to King Kong and many fans would love to see a remake of the 1964 classic King Kong vs Godzilla. A remake of that movie with state-of-the-art special effects would be a dream come true!! I doubt that this will happen but a Nerd like myself can dream!!
I think this movie gets a real bad rap and really doesn’t deserve it. I saw this in the theater and I really enjoyed it. Like other movies I have reviewed on here I didn’t realize how many people disliked it until I got on the internet. It really is my favorite of the prequel movies. However, like all Star Wars movies, this one has its flaws as well as its good points and for me the good points outweight the bad.
In these reviews I will follow a format where I will look at the Pros and Cons and then I will post my overall opinion on the movie.
Pros: I am an FX junkie and these movies, especially the prequels, are pure eye candy. I love the sets, the designs of the futuristic worlds, the costumes and the creatures. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn are brilliant in their portrayals and I love the Characters they portray. Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala/Padme is also a stand out. It does get confusing at first, are Padme and Queen Amidala the same person? When she plays Padme she demonstrates a sweetness and kindness that is essential for making her a multidimensional character. As the queen she is very stiff and formal, although colorfully dressed, and it is her times as Padme when we get to know her. The Pod Races is the highlight of the movie. Great action ans special effects. These are the types of scenes fans go to these movies to see to begin with. They have become an iconic part of the entire franchise and the pod race certainly does deliver the goods.
Cons: I think the main negative thing for me was the story seemed too bogged down with politics. While this movie did have good action an adventure the heavy, and at times, confusing politics, seemed to hamper the story telling. I know Jake Lloyd has been roasted enough by people for his portrayal of young Anakin Skywalker so i will not do that here. I think he was at times good in the role and times he was a bit stiff in his acting style. My problem was not with the actor, my problem was in making the character as young as he was. If I am to believe he grows up to fall-in-love with Padme and to become the father of Luke and Leia I wish they would have depicted him as old as Padme. Yoda complained that Luke was too old to be a Jedi and he also said Anakin was too old to be trained to be a Jedi. Yet he trained Luke so it would have been plausible for Yoda eventually to be trained by Qui-Gon Jinn even if they had made the character older. Before the movie came out many were thinking that Darth Maul was going to be the second coming of Darth Vader…although he had a cool double Light Saber, I found him to be underwhelming…athough I was pissed he killed Qui-Gon Jinn who I would have loved to have seen in the other movies. One last quibble was the fact that young Anakin was the one who built C3-PO. Why the heck would he have wanted to build a protocol droid? It was a bit cheesy.
My Thoughts: How could I have come this far without mentioning Jar Jar Binks, the most hated character in the entire franchise? Well, I don’t hate him and he fits into my overall thoughts of the movie. Star Wars is a “fun” action and adventure franchise that appeals to children of all ages and the young and old. Jar Jar was a big part of what made the movie fun. I here there is a fan edited version that takes him out of the majority of the movie. I think that would be wrong to do. I think if he was not in the movie the movie would be a little empty without him. He reminds us to have a little fun with these movies and to not take it all so seriously.
I know I may get flamed for what I just said above but that is my opinion. The movie does have all the ingredients for a good Star Wars movie and this movie does, overall, mixes those ingredients very well. Let me get back to my point about he age of Anakin in the story and it will highlight what I think was wrong with all of the prequels. I think what people wanted to see was Anakin turn into Darth Vader, how did he det to the dark side. I don’t think George Lucas needed 3 films to do that. If Anakin had been an older character the story of his fall to the dark side could have taken a film and a half to show. Then the second part of the second prequel and the entire third movie could have really shown us how much of a terror and threat that Darth Vadar was and that would have been a better lead in to the original trilogy. I will get more into that as I move through the prequels.
Despite those flaws it still is an enjoyable movie and it was good to see some of our old friends again.
I want to visit the Star Wars franchise, something I have not done too much on this blog. I have been going through the movies and I want to review them individually. Before I do that I wanted to give an overview of the franchise itself and share my thoughts on Star Wars.
Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am a bigger Star Trek fan than I am a Star Wars fan. I also do not subscribe to the cliché that there is a big rivalry between the two franchises. The vast majority are fans of both. Sure there are people like me who will favor one over the other and I also admit that there are some fans that like only Star Wars or only Trek. I think those are far and few between.
I will never forget seeing Star Wars on the big screen for the first time in 1977. I was about 13 years old when my elder sister, who had already seen the movie, came over to my house to take me to see it. I remember sitting there in amazement and wonder at what played before me. I was transported to a place and a world I had never seen before. I was mesmerized and it was magical. Right then and there I knew my Star Trek worshiping heart had some room for another spaced based franchise.
It has been many years since those days. I am no longer 13, pushing 50 this year, and there have been sequels and prequels to the 1977 movie. Although in the chronology of the 6 movies the 1977 movie is the 4th one in the story line and has been rebrand Star Wars IV: A New Hope…to me it will always simply be Star Wars. I feel something similar in Star Trek. With many series and movies that have been made in the Star Trek world the 1960s original series (abbreviated TOS in the fan venacular…something I do not like but have come to accept) will always be simply Star Trek to me.
Even as with Star Trek I have not delved into the Star Wars novels and other aspects of the franchise. I have yet to see the Clone Wars movies and the series but they are on my “to do” list. That means as I review the franchise I will be sticking to the 6 movies released so far. I will also review them in chronological order, I-VI, instead of the way they were released to the theaters.
What I want to address is the conflicts among fans about the two different trilogies. Fans often pit I-III against IV-VI. I must admit that the movies IV-VI are pretty iconic. I also see that sense of iconic status has great sentimental attachment for people. I also think that the prequels get a very bad rap and as you will see in my reviews I do enjoy them. I remember saying this to a fan…The original trilogy is an homage to the old B movie serials of the 40s but with a larger budget and better special effects. They all have their good points and their bad points. The original Star Wars movie was ground breaking in many ways. By 1999 when Star Wars I: A Phantom Menace was released the ground had been already broken. Not just by Star Wars itself but by many other ground breaking special effects laden science fiction and fantasy films. I do not blame Phantom Menace for not being as iconic or as ground breaking as the original Star Wars movie was.
So in my reviews of all of them I am going to try to divorce them from their history sentimentality and view them at face value. I also want to remark that the Star Wars franchise was aimed at younger viewers to some extent and to the child within us all.
So come with me on a journey to the dark side in a galaxy far, far away.
This post will be a slight change of pace for me. Instead of science fiction I wanted to discuss historical movies today. I have been watching many of them lately. Lately I have been watching movies related to the Tudor dynasty, specifically Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. I own and watched the Tudors the Showtime miniseries, the Henry VIII miniseries starring Ray Winstone, the movie Anne of the Thousand Days, and a miniseries on Elizabeth I starring Helen Mirren and the two movies about Elizabeth I starring Cate Blanchett. Also have many more royalty related movies. This did get me thinking about how popular some stories and royal figures are popular here in the US.
Movies such as Braveheart and those based on the character Robin Hood have featured royalty and have done very well. The movie Young Victoria did well here in the United States as did another movie based on Queen Victoria, Her Majesty, Mrs Brown, starring Dame Judi Dench. One of my favorite royalty based movies is Restoration starring Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man) and Sam Neill as Charles II. I recently purchased the 1982 TV movie of Ivanhoe also starring Sam Neill and James Mason and featuring Julian Glover as King Richard I of England. Ridley Scott’s movie Kingdom of Heaven is also one that I enjoy which takes place in the Holy Land during the Crusades and features King Baldwin IV of the European Kingdom of Jerusalem and his battle for the land against the famous Muslim leader, Saladin. Even King Richard I shows up at the end on his way for his historic encounter with Saladin.
I think I have established that movies about European history and European Royalty do play well here in the states. When I look through the movies I own and have seen what strikes me is that there are still many stories that I would love to see that have not been filmed yet.
Here are some of my ideas for movies i would love to see made some day:
1. The life of William the Conqueror. I could see this movie done on an epic scale of Braveheart. To keep it simple I would just focus on the conquest of England itself. But there are many themes to that story to make it interesting. The Battle of Hastings would make for an epic filled battle. Also it would be interesting to film how the Norman army mistook the celebrations during the coronation as some type of rebellion began to set fire to the town!
2. The life of Charlemagne. The King of the Franks who also became the first Holy Roman Emperor and created one of the most powerful empires in Europe. There is a goldmine of stories from his life.
3. The start of World War I. I think you could create a great drama of the tensions between all of the royal heads of states after the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand.
4. The life of Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph who saw his wife, son, and great-nephew (the aforementioned Archduke Franz-Ferdinand) all die in his life time amidst tragic circumstances.
5. I would like to see a sequel to Young Victoria and show the circumstances of their relationship and her reaction to the death of her husband, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort.
6. I hope someday they make one more movie with Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I showing the end of her reign and all the drama that went with it.
Those are just some of the ideas I have floating in my head for feature films…or maybe a miniseries for topics related to royalty. I know that the BBC is producing a miniseries called the White Queen about Elizabeth Woodville the wife of King Edward IV and the tumultuous times of the Wars of the Roses. I am looking forward to seeing that!