Category Archives: Old Movie Review

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

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In my effort to restart this blog I need to catch up on some movie reviews. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was just released, how about I review the movie that came out before it! LOL!

As I have said before I am a huge Star Trek fan but I also love Star Wars too…just not as much as Trek. Yet, I always thought there was something in the aesthetic and pacing of Star Wars that Star Trek should borrow and learn from. When JJ Abrams, a lover of Star Wars, directed the 2009 reboot movie, Star Trek, my wish came true. In the feel and look of the movie there are elements of Star Wars in that Star Trek film and although some fans noticed that too and complained…I was not one of them. Therefore, when the next trilogy in Star Wars was going to be filmed, it seemed only natural that JJ Abrams would be selected to direct this movie.

I want to comment on one of the complaints The Force Awakened received from the minority of the people that did not like it. The complaint is that it is just a rehash or is derivative of the original 1977 film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I certainly do not deny this accusation. I actually embrace it and it is one of the reasons I do enjoy this movie greatly.

Some have complained that nostalgia is one of its selling points and I have no shame in agreeing with that. I was 14 in 1977 when the original movie came out and I loved it! It had a huge impact on me. So seeing Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia on the big screen was a huge part of this movie. That doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t good, it was, even if it has elements of the first movie, it does!

Luke has disappeared and it has been thirty years since the Death Star was once again blown up and the Empire defeated. However, evil has not gone away. We have new characters that are very interesting to me. the rebelling storm trooper, Finn, the scavenger, Rey, and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, are all great additions to the Star Wars universe. The movie leaves us with a mystery of who is this woman Ren who wields the Force so easily? The special effects are excellent as JJ Abrams wisely knows how to weave practical effects with the CGI.

I will not reveal any spoilers of this movie. I will say this is/was a great way to start the new trilogy. It is visually stunning with everything you would want to see in a Star Wars movie. Although it does have elements of the original story, they are done with respect and reverence to the original.

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Superman II: “General, Care to Step Outside?”

Donner Cut: Superman’s return is anticlimactic.

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The Donner cut of Superman II makes Superman getting his powers back anticlimactic. In the theatrical cut we don’t know if Superman is going to get his powers back (okay, we “know” he will get his powers back) and until he does there is the building of tension in the movie. By not seeing Superman getting his powers back the film then  focuses on Zod and his minions attacking Lois, Jimmy & Perry White at the Daily Planet.

There is still considerable tension in those scenes because we are unsure what what will happen. Superman flying to Metropolis and telling Zod to “care to step outside” is a moment of triumph that resolves the tension. It is actually one of my favorite scenes in the movie. But in the Donner cut we see an elaborate and long scene of Superman getting his powers back and then his return to Metropolis where for the first time in the film, Superman finally confronts  Zod at the window. Ever since we saw the arrival of Zod and his fellow Kryptonians on Earth, paired with Superman giving up his powers at the same time, this very confrontation is the climax this movie is building toward. So if we watch Superman get his powers back it makes this initial confrontation with Zod very anticlimactic and takes all the joy and triumph out of that moment.

Another important moment removed by the Donner Cut is when Lois figures out Clark Kent is Superman! In the scene in Donner Cut, which is from an audition scene, Lois violently shoots Clark to prove he is Superman. The scene is very jarring and violent and unexpected and doesn’t seem to fit in the tone of the movie. It also doesn’t fit with Lois’ character. What if she was wrong!?

In the theatrical cut we see Clark stumble and fall and lose his glasses into the fire place. When he no longer can hide from Lois the fact that he is Superman we get to witness some of Christopher Reeve’s best acting! Sure, there is some similar acting in the Donner Cut, however, it is of my opinion the reveal of Clark Kent as Superman is done much better in the theatrical cut.

Just with the simple act of removing his glasses, standing more erect and lowering his voice, we see Clark Kent transform himself into the persona of Superman before our very eyes without having to don the suit! This moment is also sadly absent from the Donner Cut.

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I know there are many fans that feel the Donner Cut is superior to the Theatrical Cut…I guess I am not one of them.

Gorgo: My Review

Gorgo is one of, if not the only, British/English Kaiju movie. I remember seeing it when I was about 9 years old in 1972. It had just come on the TV and my mother saw it was on and said, if you like Godzilla you would like this movie. So I watched it and Mom certainly was right. The movie stars Bill Travers, William Sylvester and Vincent Winter and was directed by Eugène Lourié and was released in 1961.

Plot: The plot is pretty simple. Captain Joe Ryan is salvaging for treasure off the coast of Ireland, when a volcano erupts. Soon the ship needs repair and heads for the Nara Island. Soon it is discovered that the eruption awoke a large sea creature that makes an appearance on the island. Scientists come and investigate to learn about the creature by Captain Ryan decides to sell the monster to the circus.

The circus people name the monster Gorgo and plan on displaying it to the public for a price. Scientists are however, eventually able to examine Gorgo and it is learned that the creature is still very young. Back on Nara Island the mother, named Ogra, attacks and heads for London. Gorgo breaks out of the circus confinement and soon his 200 foot tall mother arrives in London and destroys the city trying to reach her son. Mother and son are reunited and head off to the sea.

Pros: I greatly enjoy this movie. I like the design of both Gorgo and Ogra. With the fins on the sides of their heads the do look like ancient dinosaur like sea monsters. The acting is good. I have seen Bill Travers several movies and he always gives a good performance. This movie was made at a time when monster movies were done seriously and this movie is pretty serious although not too intense. The monster’s roar is done very well. To me it sounds pretty chilling. The destruction of London is also done very well and the destruction is pretty massive.

Cons: I really do not have many. Although I do like the design of the monsters the eyes are blank. They are always open and when the monster gets angry they shine bright red. At times they do look silly and it takes me out of the movie at times.

The movie is only 72 minutes long and that is neither a pro or a con. It is one of the more enjoyable non-Japanese giant monster movie.

Armageddon & Deep Impact

Every now and then Hollywood will put out two movies with the same theme. This year it was terrorists at the White House with such movies as Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. I have yet to see those two movies and as soon as I pick them both up I will give you my reviews.

I recently watched both of the comet/asteroid doomsday movies Armageddon &  Deep Impact. They have similar themes but the movies are different in many ways. They both came out in the summer of 1998. Deep Impact starred  Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. Armageddon starred  Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, William Fichtner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith David and Steve Buscemi.

In Deep Impact reporter Téa Leoni uncovers a secret that a recent ambassador resigned over an affair. Upon further investigation she discovers that it is a cover-up for a Coment that is about to hit the Earth. Morgan Freeman plays the president and Robert Duvall heads up the shuttle team that is going to land on the comet and drill a hole in order to detonate a nuke. There is also a side story featuring Elijah Wood who was one of the people who discovered the comet and how he tries to save his family and girlfriend from the coming disaster.

In Armageddon an asteroid the size of Texas is heading toward Earth and NASA recruits a rag-tag team of drilling experts led by Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. The movie covers their training and launch onto the asteroid to destroy it before it reaches the point of no return.

The biggest differences between the two movies are the tone of the films. Deep Impact is played as serious drama and is rated R, and Armageddon, plays like a disaster film also full of drama, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Both films had mixed reviews although Deep Impact has a 47% negative rating at Rotten tomatoes while Armageddon has a 39% negative rating on the same site.

After watching them both back to back I really enjoy them both pretty closely but I have to give the edge to Armageddon because it is such a fun movie. Deep Impact has Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall and that gives the movie high ratings in my book they are two of my favorite actors as well as two of the finest to ever grace the big screen. However, the movie is very sad and heart wrenching and the older I get the more I just want to have fun at the movies. I don’t often get in the mood to have my heart wrenched. ‘

Deep impact has the wise cracking Bruce Willis and the NASA official played by Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton. The movie also has a long list of very excentric and colorful characters led by Michael Clarke Duncan and Steve Buscemi. Having the beautiful Liv Tyler doesn’t hurt the movie either, along with the music provided by her father’s group Areosmirth.

My problem with Armageddon is that it falls apart a bit in the third act. It gets over th top in an already over the top movie. The actions get confusing with all the explosions and it is hard to follow what is going on at times and who is surviving and who is dying. There also seems to be one cliff hanger after the other. The movie does redeem itself at the end though. Armageddon was directed by Michael Bay the king of explosions and there are plenty in this film.

In conclusion both movies are enjoyable for me to watch I give Armageddon the edge because it is a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Rodan: My review.

I reviewed all of the Godzilla movies, along with War of the Gargantuas, so now it is time to review one of my favorite non-Godzilla Kaiju movies: Rodan. The movie came out in 1956 and was the first Kaiju film released in color. It was directed by Gojira director Ishirō Honda and the music was also provided by Godzilla veteran Akira Ifukube. Akihiko Hirata, who played Dr. Daisuke Serizawa  in the original Godzilla, films stars as Professor Kashiwagi.

The synopsis of the movie is very simple: Mutant pterosaurs and prehistoric insects terrorize humanity. I okay, I will expand on that. In a mining village a mine as flooded and soon these large prehistoric insects, called Meganulon, (we will see these guys again in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus) begin to appear. Shortly thereafter a mysterious UFO is terrorizing the skies. Then after an earthquake a giant egg appears. When that hatched out pops a giant pterosaurs which begins to feed on the thousands of Meganulon. This mutated pterosaurs joins forces with the mysterious UFO which turns out to be another mutated pterosaurs. Soon the Japanese Defense Force and scientists have their hands full trying to defeat these ominous pair of flying monsters. In the end it would be nature itself that provides the victory as the two pterosaurs are painfully engulfed in an erupting volcano.

Pros: This is Rodan’s first and only movie. He is called Radon in Japan but called Rodan here in the States. I greatly prefer the Rodan name. The first handful of Toho’s Kaiju movies are done in a very serious tone. It would take a few more year before we began to see Kaiju movies aimed more at children. While I enjoy more fun and lighthearted Kaiju movies, the serious movies are also enjoyable and Rodan is no exception. Like Gojira in 1954 this movie has a theme that states these monsters are the results of our own doing and it tells its tale with a very ominous and foreboding tone. These scenes of monster destruction are very well done and still hold up well 57 years later. It is also an interesting plot with interesting characters. We have a murder mystery in the beginning that ties into the appearance of the two Rodans.

Cons: I really do not have many negative things to say about the movie. At 82 minutes it is not a long movie and I have come to learn that Kaiju movies needn’t be that long to tell a good story and to be entertaining.  My only minor complaint is that it does seem slow at first and does take a little too long to reveal the monsters. While not a con per se, the ending is very sad an emotional. These movies do have a way of alling the viewer to get emotionally involved with these creatures and the demise of two Rodan at the end of the movie is particularly chilling and sad.

Sometimes I think that this is a lost movie. Rodan became part of the panoply of Kaiju creatures that were incorporated into the Godzilla franchise. He never had his own solo movie again. That is sad. Rodan is one of my favorite Monsters besides Godzilla and even though he only got one solo movie this is a very good, somber and action filled Kaiju movie. If you’re looking to watch a more serious film featuring mutated prehistoric creatures then this is a good one to watch.

King Kong Escapes: 1967 A Review.

In my review of the King Kong movies I decided to do this one first because I have recently seen it for the first time. I heard it was very bad so I went in with low expectations. The movie was co-produced by Toho Studios and the Rankin & Bass people who brought to life so many Christmas specials such as Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. The movie was also loosely based off of a Saturday Morning children’s cartoon. Sadly, it shows. The movie was directed by  Ishirō Honda with music by  Akira Ifukube.

I apologies for this next part but I get bored typing out detailed synopsis of the plot so let me see if I can put it in a few paragraphs.

An evil genius named Dr. Hu (pronounced “Who”, but no relation to the BBC character of that name) creates a robotic version of King Kong, named Mechni-Kong, in order to dig for a highly radioactive element called “Element X”, found only at the North Pole. Mechni-Kong enters an ice cave and begins to dig into a glacier, but the radiation produced by the substance destroys its systems and shuts it down. Meanwhile, a damaged submarine from the United Nations is forced to weigh anchor off the coast of Mondo Island. The UN team encounters the true King Kong who battles the Gorosaurus and falls in love with the UN assistant, Lt. Susan Watson, played by the lovely Linda Miller. Basically Dr. Hu, an over the top bad guy, reminiscent of a combination of Snidely Whiplash and Dr. Evil, is bent on world domination as the UN team and eventually King Kong try to stop him. Mechni-Kong and King Kong eventually have an epic battle while climbing Tokyo-Tower.

That is the basic plot in a nut shell and I do not want to give too much of the plot away in case you want to view it. As with all of my reviews I will list some pros and cons.

Pros: This movie does have its charm. It stars my favorite Toho actor Akira Takarada  as Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura so his performance does increase my enjoyment of the movie. I will talk about the suit for Kong in the con section but I would like to comment on the miniatures. Like in many Toho productions of the Showa era it isn’t that difficult to spot miniature sets and in this movie it is actually even easier. I think the miniature sets is actually part of its charm. The miniatures help to set the tone and the mood for the film and the place the film in a very light mood.

The story itself is not bad and this movie is the first time a Mechanised version of a monster is used. Sure, the villains and the good guys are one-dimensional but that doesn’t detract from the charm of this film. I did find the story engaging and one of the litmus tests for movies that I watch is the movie engaging or do I want to turn it off? In the case of this movie I was willing to see it through until the end.

Cons: The movie is a bit too much like a Rankin & Bass cartoon and did not feel like  a typical Toho production. The suit for Kong is one of the problems. While the body of the suit isn’t too bad, the face does look to kid friendly and like it came from a cartoon. Kong reminded me a bit too much like the Abominable Snowman from their Rudolph production. The evil Dr. Hu was just over the top and very silly. He was voiced by Paul Frees a staple of Rankin & Bass productions and for me it was very distracting for that recognizable voice coming from that character. I mentioned that the tone of the movie was very child friendly…but it really wasn’t always. There is some violent shooting and seeing some key characters die was a bit unsettling.

I try to stay away from the good-bad dichotomy so I will say that the movie was something I only marginally liked. I am not sure if I will add this to my collection because my feelings are almost equally divided on this movie. Sometimes the pros will out weigh the cons or the cons will out weigh the pros, but in the case it is a dead heat.  I would only recommend this movie unless you’re a fan of either Toho movies or Rankin & Bass productions or a big King Kong fan and need to have  a complete collection.

King Kong Reviews.

I have decided to review the King Kong movies. There are actually 7 movies with King Kong as the central Character. I recently saw the movie King Kong Escapes and that has put me in a King Kong mood.

From wikipedia….

  • King Kong (1933) – The original film is remembered for its pioneering special effects using stop motion models, and evocative story.
  • The Son of Kong (1933) – A sequel released the same year, it concerns a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers Kong’s son. The critics’ response to the film was generally mixed, but it was successful.
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) – A film produced by Toho Studios in Japan, it brought the titular characters to life via detailed rubber and fur costumes, and presented both characters for the first time in color. The Toho version of Kong is much larger than the one in the original film. This is more than likely because of a significant difference in size between the 1933 King Kong and Godzilla (and, for that matter, all of the company’s giant monsters), with Kong automatically rescaled to fit Toho’s existing miniature sets.
  • King Kong Escapes (1967) – Another Toho film (co-produced with Rankin/Bass) in which King Kong faces both a mechanical double, dubbed Mechani-Kong, and a giant theropod dinosaur known as Gorosaurus (who would appear in Toho’s Destroy All Monsters the next year). This movie was loosely based on the contemporaneous cartoon television program, as indicated by the use of its recurring villain, Dr. Who/Dr. Huu, in the same capacity, Mechani-Kong as an enemy, Mondo Island as Kong’s home and a female character named Susan.
  • King Kong (1976) – An updated remake by film producer Dino De Laurentiis, released by Paramount Pictures, and director John Guillermin. Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin starred. The film received mixed reviews, but it was a commercial success, and its reputation has improved over the last few years. It was co-winner of an Oscar for special effects (shared with Logan’s Run).
  • King Kong Lives (1986) – Released by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG). Starring Linda Hamilton, a sequel by the same producer and director as the 1976 film which involves Kong surviving his fall from the sky and requiring a coronary operation. It includes a female member of Kong’s species, who, after supplying a blood transfusion that enables the life-saving surgery, escapes and mates with Kong, becoming pregnant with his offspring. Trashed by critics, this was a box-office failure.
  • King Kong (2005) – A Universal Pictures remake of the original (set in the original film’s 1933 contemporary setting) by Academy award-winning New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The most recent incarnation of Kong is also the longest, running three hours and eight minutes. Winner of three Academy Awards for visual effects, sound mixing, and sound editing. It received positive reviews and became a box office success.

I have not seen Son of Kong and I saw King Kong Lives but that was so many eyars ago and it was so awful I do not feel the need to torture myself again with that monstrosity. Consider that sentence my review of that film! I have already reviewed King Kong vs Godzilla in my Godzilla series so you can read that here.

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That leaves me with the 1933 original plus the 1976 and the 2005 remakes along with King Kong Escapes. I consider King Kong Escapes more pf a Toho Kaiju movie than a King Kong movie (it really is telling  a different story). I would put Kong vs Godzilla in that category too. So I we review that first and then taking the 2005 remake first I will work back in time until I reach the 1933 original. If I do have a chance to see Son of Kong prior to that I will review it.

Stay tuned to this blog for the King Kong Reviews!!

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

I realized while reviewing the Star Wars movies I skipped Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. So I will remedy that problem and review it now. Although often I hear the fan base malign the three prequel movies, I hear an equal amount of times that Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is better than the last movie in the series, Return of the Jedi. Although, as I reported, I do enjoy the first two movies, this is one of the over all better movies. I think the reason is this movie has the pay-off. It delivers what people came to see: Anakin Skywalker complete his transformation into Darth Vader. Ever since we found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, we have wondered how did Anakin Skywalker turn to the Dark Side? While the other two movies set up who Anakin is and how he became a great and powerful Jedi Knight, this movie finally shows how Dath Vader went sour and how the Empire replaced the old republic.

This movie really opens up to  afantasitc space battle with Anakin and  Obi-Wan Kenobi infiltrating the flagship of Separatist commander General Grievous to rescue the abducted Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. They run into Count Dooku. A battle of Lightsabers begins and after Obi-Wan is knocked out and Dooku defeated Supreme Chancellor Palpatine orders Anakin to kill Count Dooku, which he does. This foreshadows the things to come. Soon Palapatine reveals he is the Dark Lord of the Sith and despite letting the Jedi council know who Palpatine is he is still able to win over Anakin as Palpatine manipulate him into thinking he can help stop anything bad from happening to Padme. Once joining forces with Palpatine Anakin is re-christened Darth Vader. Palpatine orders the clone troops to kill the Jedi Council and declares himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire.

Unable to convince Padme that Anakin has turned to the dark side Obi-Wan stows away on her ship when she travels to Mustafar. When Padmé discovers what Vader has done, she tries to convince him to return to the light side of the force, but Vader accuses her of betraying him and uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Vader and Obi-Wan then engage in a fierce battle that ends with Obi-Wan severing Vader’s legs and left arm. Vader falls down to the volcanic river’s edge and is immolated. Taking his former apprentice’s lightsaber, Obi-Wan goes to help Padmé. Meanwhile, Yoda confronts Palpatine, but is forced to retreat when their dual reaches a stalemate. Palpatine rescues Vader and as he is undergoing surgery to save his life and place him in a bio-suit of armour to help him breath and live, Padme delivers twins Luke and Leia  and then dies. Luke is returned to Anakin’s homeworld and given to his step-family to raise him. Leia is taken in by the Organa family. Yoda teaches Obi-Wan how to commune with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn before going into exile on Dagobah. Obi-Wan takes the infant Luke to Tatooine, where he intends to watch over him until the time is right to challenge the Empire. The movie ends with Darth Vader with the Emperor on the bridge of a ship with the a the Death Star being built-in the distance.

Pros: In this movie I think we see the acting of Hayden Christensen improved greatly. You can really see how turning to the dark side of the Force affects him. He really seems evil and lost rather than crabby and whinny as in the previous movies. The special effects are top-notch and the story is very good with some exceptions. The true bad guy in this movie is Palpatine and Ian McDiarmid really shines in the role. In some ways this is really his movie!! We see Anakin is more of  avictim of Palpatine than anything else. Now that does open up a discussion of how responsible was Anakin for his actions? This movie does set up the next trilogy very well. It really also changes the focus of the next trilogy. Instead about it being a trilogy where Luke Skywalker becomes a Jedi Knight to fulfill his destiny, it becomes more of a story about the redemption of Anankin Skywalker.

Cons: I do not have many cons about this movie. I think the duel between Vader and Obi-Wan goes on too long. I usually am not nit-picky about reality infringing on fantasy but the entire duel taking place over the hot lava, while cool, (pun intended) is a bit unrealistic. I have sat near hot fires before and fighting like they do over the lava just seems too implausible. My other complaint is in the closing scene where we see Darth Vader and the Emperor with the Death Star under construction. Episode IV makes it seem like the Death Star is new…yet the events of that movie take place 16/17 years later. Are we to believe it took 17 years to build? I don’t have a problem with that, I just think they show too much of it under construction. Yeah, it is a nit-picky fanboy quibble.

All in all a very good addition to the franchise and it is one that really advances the saga well. To me it proves that not all of the prequel movies are bad (I enjoy all of them).

Star Wars V: The Empire Stikes Back

Many fans and even critics state the The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the Star Wars films. Now something like that is certainly debatable and subjective but there is no denying the fact that The Empire Strikes Back is an excellent sequel to the 1977 movie Star Wars. The plot is basic but full of action and adventure. It is set three years after the events in Star Wars. Darth Vader survived the detonation of the Death Star and is in pursuit of the rebels Luke Skywalker, Princess Lia and Han Solo. Meanwhile Luke continues his training to become a Jedi Knight from Master Yoda. Han Solo is also being pursued by bounty Hunter Boba Fett. We also meet new characters like Lando Calrissian played by Billy Dee Williams and the story is full of twists and turns and betrayals.

Pros: Middle movies ina trilogy can be difficult. Often these stories will advance the characters and the story line but leave no resolution. However, this movie is not hampered by any of that. Insteads it has great character development. Han and Lia, still have a temultuous relationship yet there is a thaw and they begin to come close together. Luke grows as a Jedi and his self confidence and maturity is evident. The movie does end on big cliff hangers. We discover that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker and the father of Luke. Han Solo is betrayed and left frozen in Carbonite. The action and the suspense and sense of adventure are carried over from the last film with enjoyable results. We meet Yoda for the first time and Emperor Palpatine. Yoda was  a puppet worked and voiced by Frank Oz a member of Jum Hensons team. He has become an iconic character. The reveal that Darth Vader is Luke’s father is still exciting and memorable after years of seeing the movie. It never grows old.

Cons: I really have no complaints for this movie except that the scenes on the planet Hoth do drag just a little bit. The pacing just seems off to me. As time has gone on and I have grown more accostumed to the pacing of modern films, expecially science-fiction films, the films made back more than 30 years ago do seem a little slower.

An interesting observation I have is that with Luke being Vader’s son all the events in episodes IV and V can seem really contrived. I do not see it that way, I am just echoing arguments I have heard levied at other science-fiction films. For example, in the 2009 Star Trek film when Kirk met Spock Prime in the cave of Delta Vega many fans who hated the movie cried how all contrived it seemed. Yet in Episodes IV and V of Star Wars we have R2D2 and C3PO arrive in the posession of Luke Skywalker and it is his father, Darth Vader, who is chasing after the two droids and the plans they contain. This leads Luke on an adventure that will lead him into direct conflict with Vader. How is this any less contrived? If it is contrived, and to some degree it is, it doesn’t bother me at all. I just point this out to demonstarte the selective opinions of some fans. In many of these adventure type of movies our heroes are going to come together and they way the writers and directors do that is enjoyable to watch even if a bit contrived.

To conclude, The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best of the Star Wars movies and a joy to watch.

War of the Gargantuas: Review

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?