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Why I like Godzilla 1998

final_wars_zilla__godzilla_1998__full_body_by_sonichedgehog2-d83v8cyThis post isn’t about a movie review of the 1998 American Godzilla movie, its more about the personal reason why I like the 1998 Godzilla monster and the design along with enjoying the movie. One of the reasons for this post is that last week there were a couple of Godzilla related groups that were once again bashing the movie and the creature. So this is an answer to the frequent Godzilla 1998 bashing.

Some background information. I have been a Godzilla fan since I was about 5 years old back in 1968 or so. I remember seeing “Destroy All Monsters” in the theaters. I watched Godzilla in my youth and young teens. But between Godzilla’s hiatus between 1975 and 84 I didn’t see a lot of Godzilla as many TV stations that I liked on cable didn’t show them as often as they did when I was younger.

I have always loved the many different designs of Godzilla and like the Starship Enterprise creative people can take that simple design and reinterpret the beast in many different ways. Godzilla had always been a lumbering slow creature acted by a man in a suit. I never disliked that approach and I still do not. I love the old films.


Then came Jurassic Park in 1993. For the first time I saw CGI dinosaurs rendered in a very life-like manner. Therefore long before Godzilla 1998 was on the big screen my mind was thinking about the possibilities for Godzilla. In my view the need for the lumbering walk and stance and for a man-in-the-suit portrayal of the character was no longer necessary. From that viewpoint I began to desire to see Godzilla in a more traditional dinosaur stance and animal like depiction. He no longer had to be a slow lumbering behemoth.

So low and behold when I saw the 1998 movie it gave me exactly what I wanted to see…a more dinosaur like depiction of Godzilla! To my eyes this new portrayal of the monster was more naturally animal like than any depiction prior to this incarnation. and since they went the way I was thinking how I would like to see Godzilla, I was happy with the results. It was different and something new. I also enjoyed the movie..although I do think the part with the raptor-like baby Godzilla’s slows the movie way down. But overall I was/am happy with the depiction and the movie.


Jurassic World: Preview

What happens to kids who love Dinosaurs? They grow up to be adults who love Dinosaurs!! 

I remember my friend George took me to see Jurassic Park when it was in the theater telling me I had to see this on the big screen.  Boy was he right! Jurassic Park was a breakthrough in special affects and dinosaurs never looked more real. They raised the bar on special affects, especially for creatures and monsters. While Jurassic World doesn’t seem to be as ground breaking as its predecessor but it does show how great these affects looks today. Although I do think the FX in the original movie have not aged at all.

I enjoyed all three Jurassic Park movies. The first and the third are my favorites and while I do like Jurassic Park: The Lost World, it is missing some fun and a little soul to it. So what are my expectations for the Jurassic World? First of all I have read a synopsis of the plot but I won’t spoil it for you here. So, the story sounds pretty good. I like Chris Platt from Guardians of the Galaxy and his role here (mini spoiler) is that he is a Raptor trainer and has an essential part in the plot. Also, and I say this without judgment, there is a bit of formula in these movies and basically its that once you mix humans and dinosaurs together mayhem will ensue. So I am expecting that in this movie. We also know that there is a new hybrid dinosaur that is the main threat and it has been rumored that the T-Rex from the original movie will make an appearance. I am also happy to learn that the movie will take place Isla Nublar which is where the first movie was set. It is the first sequel and second film to take place on Isla Nublar, as the previous two sequels took place on Isla Sorna.

My expectations are rather high given what I have seen and what I know of the film. Honestly, they would have to go a long way for me to be disappointed in this film! This movies I am looking forward to the most for this summer!! Directed by Colin Trevarrow the film was produced by Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley, and is scheduled to be released on June 12, 2015 in North America, by Universal Pictures.

Jurassic Park IV on Hold and other monster related news.

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!! 

The Films of Steven Spielberg: Part II

iiContinuing on my examination of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy films of Steven Spielberg I want to examine the Jurassic Park franchise. Although Spielberg only directed the first two he did serve as executive producer on Jurassic Park III. The series is based on a book by Michael Crichton. Universal Studios, with the help of Spielberg, bought the film rights to the book even before it was published. Many studios were also vying the the film rights. As I said in another blog I am not a novel reader. Even though I love the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy I only watch those genres and do not read those types of books. When it comes to reading I am strictly non-fiction. Even though Michael Crichton was hired to write the screen play (for $500,000) many fans of the book complained that the first movie deviated too far from the book. Not having read the book I don’t have the problem of comparing the two works.

I know in the future I want to review these movies in their entirety so for the sake of this blog entry I will just hit the highlight of the three films.

1. Jurassic Park. 1993 I cannot believe that this movie is almost 20 years old!! I think the state-of-the-art special effects do not look dated today. The movie was not entirely done with CGI although this movie was the first to use CGI to such a large extent. Spielberg also used Animatronics and other models for the special effects. I have a good friend, George Cheatle, who came to get me one day in 1993 and took me to the movie saying I had to see this on the large screen. Boy was he ever so right! I felt such awe and wonder seeing the large Brachiosaurus on the big screen for the first time. It is so lifelike and real looking. Even nearly 20 years later it still looks lifelike and doesn’t cease to create a sense of wonder. I would love to go back in a time machine and show this film to Willis H. O’Brien the man who did the stop motion effects on the original 1933 version of King Kong. I think he too would have been amazed at how life like special effects would become 60 years later.

I also like the story. All the characters are likable and eccentric in their own way. I like Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant the best and was glad to see him return for the third movie. I also think the great Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond brings a great richness, pun intended, to his role as the eccentric billionaire. One last thing to say about the original movie is the brilliant score by John Williams. Sometimes I see film scores as the new classical music and the main Jurassic Park theme (linked below) is one of my all times pieces of instrumental music…I think it is just simply…brilliant! One pet peeve of mine: As a militant anti-smoking advocate I find the incessant smoking of Samuel L. Jackson’s character disgusting and unnecessary.

2. Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

I have to admit that I was let down with this movie. It isn’t bad, I do own it and I do watch it on DVD. It just loses a sense of wonder the first film had. While I like Jeff Goldblum as an actor, the portrayal of Dr. Ian Malcolm in this second offering is a bit annoying. He wails and complains almost the entire film. Also the scene when they are all hanging on over the cliff inside the truck as the two T-Rex are trying to pull them up just goes on too long. I love all the dinosaurs in this movie, some we did not see in the previous film. The plot is pretty good with two rival teams exploring the island only to have to work together just to survive.

3. Jurassic Park III

Although the first film will always have a special place in my heart…it was my first love. I have to admit I enjoy watching the third movie much more. It is just pure dino-action and adventure. This was not directed by Spielberg but Joe Johnston with Spielberg as executive producer. The movie features a new dinosaur, the Spinosaurus, which makes quick work of the T-Rex to let everyone know there is new big man on campus. I also liked the addition of William H. Macy another fine actor. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It has great special effects and a fun story that is a roller coaster ride.

Spielberg said that we can expect Jurassic Park IV within the next couple of years and the movie is in the script writing phase. I didn’t focus too much on Spielberg in this entry but for me there is a simple lesson. These movies appeal to the kid inside all of us…and as an adult I feel that it is vitally important to stay in touch with that inner child-like part of ourselves that keeps me in touch with a sense of creative, curiosity and sense of wonder about the world and the universe in which we live. Next week I will examine the Indiana Jones franchise.  

Top 25 Favorite Science Fiction Movies

For the next 4 weeks on Wednesday I am going to list my top favorite movies from Science Fiction, Monster Movies, Superheroes and Fantasy genres. These are my personal subjective favorites.

It may surprise some readers not to see such well loved and respected movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner on my list, but I really do not care too much for the dystopian style of science fiction movies (with exceptions) and instead prefer a more fun and lighthearted version of science fiction. So here are the movies I like to frequently watch.

25. Demolition Man (1993)

This is a movie that knows when to be serious and when to lighten up. Set in the near future Demolition Man is a fun science fiction action movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. Both are put in a state of suspended animation in the 80s and thawed out decades later. This Rip Van Winkle story has action, adventure, drama and humor. 

24. Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956)

Alien Invasion movies are my favorite from the Science Fiction genre. This is one of the better ones from the 50s when these movies were a symbol of the Cold War.

23. Forbidden Planet (1956)

A classic from the 50s and one that inspired Star Trek. This film deals with psychological themes of power.

22. Starship Troopers (1997)

Many fans of the book complained that the movie wasn’t true to the book. Some say it was better. Either way this movie is roller coaster ride and a heck of a lot of fun. Co-ed showers and a war in space with giant bugs, what more could you want?

21. Total Recall (1990)

“Get your Ass to Mars.” The remake is coming out soon but it doesn’t have the Mars scenario. The remake looks good but the original is a thriller and I love ambiguous nature of the film..

20. I Robot (2004)

Another movie based on a series of books. This movie is based off of books written by the late great Issac Assimov. An enjoyable special effects extravaganza about robots run amok in the future.

19. The Terminator (1984)

The movie that made Arnold a star. This is one of the few movies with a dystopian view of the future that I enjoy. Mainly because at its heart it is more of an action-adventure film.

18. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

I think this movie has a lot of charm. Not a lot of action or special effects, this is s story that is carried by the relationships of the people. Still holds up well today.

17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg brings a sense of wonder to many of his movies. This movie has a sense of suspension and mystery too. A great first time visit for aliens.

16. Terminator 2. Judgment Day (1991)

Not as dark as the first movie but just as engaging. Great special effects and Arnold in classic form.

15. Avatar (2009)

This movie is pure Eye Candy. Giant Blue people living on a strange planet with strange creatures. While the story is not ground breaking the special effects are.

14. Contact (1997)

I miss the great mind of Carl Sagan. This is a good movie based on Sagan’s book, which touches on religious themes and the question “are we alone in the universe?” The fact that the alien Jodie Foster’s character encounters on her journey to Vega appears to her as her father is sentimentally appealing, given the nature of the father-daughter relationship depicted in the film; but in the end disappointing (I wanted a real alien) and the only negative in another wise engaging film.

13. Time Machine (1960)

Other than alien invasion movies, time travel is a fascinating subject in science fiction for me. This movie is a great adaptation of the HG Wells original classic. 

12. War of the Worlds (1953, 2005)

I must admit I like both the original and the sequel equally. Both tell the tale of alien invasions from different points of view and both have great special effects. The special effects of the original still are pretty good today while the special effects in the remake bring a sense of gritty realism. I like the design of the aliens in the newer version.

11. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

An action adventure time travel movie from the TNG crew. The best of their movies. Resistance is Futile!

10.  Independence Day (1996)

In some ways this is a remake or re-imagining of War of the Worlds…or any 50s alien invasion movies. I cannot count the times I have watched this movie. I love the fact that the flying saucers are now 15 miles wide and hell bent on destruction. Also the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously so it is a fun and enjoyable ride.

9. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (1980)

I am a Star Wars fan, but I like Trek better. 🙂 This was a very good sequel to the original and Darth Vader proclaiming he is Luke’s father is ingrained in our cultural consciousness.

8. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

I saw this in the theater in 1977 when I was 13. It still is amazing to this day. It tells a great story and has excellent characters, an Evil Dark lord, a farm boy turned warrior adventurer, a princess, a rouge hero and a wise mentor, all with great eye popping special effects. A true classic. 

7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

I love time travel stories and the Voyage Home delivers and enjoyable lighthearted time travel adventure.

6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

This is a movie Trek fans either love or hate. I love it. Sure it is saggy in the middle but the first part when the crew comes together, the reveal of the refitted Enterprise, Spock walking onto the bridge as if Superman had swooped in to save the day, still gives me goosebumps. The fact that V’ger was a Voyager probe is a nice twist to the story.

5. Jurassic Park 3 (2001)

This one is ..and I know I use the word often…FUN! It doesn’t have the grandiose wonder of the first movie but it does have a lot of great dino action.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

This movie still awes and wows nearly 20years later. The scene where we see the giant Brachiosaurus for this first time still fills me with wonder. The T-Rex crashing through the fence is still pretty amazing. 

3. ET-The Extraterrestrial (1982)

As Dorthy said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” ET proves that adage. As I view ET as a symbol of our lost inner child this movie brings me to tears every time.

2. Star Trek (2009)

I just love this movie. I grew up watching the original Trek in the early 70s as a kid and this movie really captures the wonder and magic I felt back then as I was discovering the Star Trek TV series for the first time. The new actors have captured the essence of the original characters and Leonard Nimoy playing his iconic character Spock once more brought great emotion to the movie. 

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

An all time science fiction classic. Still good nearly 50 years later. I was never into the sequels like the original. The originals stands on its own. There are many themes dealt with in the movie. It is a time travel movie, it is a movie that looks at prejudice and fearing those that are different. It also examines the conflicts between religion and science. 

What’s in the hopper?

It looks like Jurassic Park IV is moving ahead! After being in development hell for years Steven Spielberg announced last year that JP4 was going to be made. There really has not been much news about it until yesterday. It is being reported that writers  Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have been hired to write the script for the next installment.  Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were the writers on last years very successful and well done reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes was an intelligent and thrilling reintroduction of the Apes movies. I am hopeful that they can write a very good script. The original Jurassic Park is still a classic and after almost 20 years the special effects still hold together and are not dated. The sequel, The Lost World, was a bit of a let down. I will still watch it from time to time. JP3 was an improvement and a lot of fun. Not a lot to the story but it was a good action and adventure flick with great dinosaur action. 

Director Paul Verhoeven is moving ahead with a movie about the life of Jesus. Scripted by Roger Avary (who wrote Pulp Fiction) this movie is aiming for controversy. In this movie Jesus will not have divine origins but will be the product of rape from a Roman soldier and it will focus on how Jesus’ politics are what lead him to his crucifixion. 

Top 15 favorite movie monsters!

Top 15 movie monsters.

My criteria for this was pretty simple. I like the Giant movie monsters the best so that ruled out monsters such as Frankenstein, Werewolves, Dracula, the Creature From the Black Lagoon and my ex-wife. I am sure in another series I will include these humanoid monsters.

So my criteria is that they are animal like and that they are big. The reasons why I like them basically is their design. I will say more about each as we go through them individually. There is actually 17 on the list. I lumped a couple together. 🙂

15. Destroyah. From the Godzilla movie, Godzilla vs. Destroyah. A strange spelling for the name. Was Toho trying to appeal to the hip-hop audience? I don’t know but he was a formidable opponent. 

14. Rhedosaurus. From the movie, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and this guy was one of the first giant monsters. Basically he is a large four footed mythical dinosaur. Usually monsters on 4 legs don’t work but this time it did. It worked because it was a model and not the man-in-a-suit type from Toho studios. These men-in-a-suit type of 4 legged monsters are generally on their knees which is the reason they don’t work for me.

13. Gorgo. From the 1961 movie of the same name. The only British monster on the list. The roar they use for this creature is still pretty haunting and the destruction of London is well done. Good job Gorgo! Oh, this movie also has a happy ending….for the monsters at least.

12. The Kraken. From the 2010 movie the Clash of the Titans. With apologies to Ray Harryhausen who designed the first Kraken from the 1981 original movie, I like this design much better because he was gigantic and much more threatening looking.

11. The Balrog. From the first Lord of the Rings movie. More demon than anything else but I loved the design but wish I could have seen more of him.

10. Mothra. From the Godzilla franchise and his or her own movie. I always liked Mothra as a kid and even though she isn’t scary I still think it is rather cool design.

9. Xenomorph. From the Alien franchise. Scary looking and as tenacious as a pit bull.

8. King Kong. From the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson (director of the Lord of the Rings). Sure the movie could have been shorter and a little tighter but someone finally nailed the design down! Giant kudos to Andy Serkis for the acting and depicting him as an actual Gorilla. He no longer looks like a man in a suit but an actual Gorilla! Did I mention what I like about this version of Kong is the fact that he is depicted as an actual Gorilla?

7. King Ghidorah. From the Godzilla franchise. I really like this monster but one thing bugs me. His lack of arms. I understand that he has wings instead of arms but it still looks like there is something missing. But I can’t complain too much about Godzilla’s number 1 nemesis.

6. Zilla. This is the creature from the 1998 American version of Godzilla. He is still owned by Toho studios and since this guy was easily defeated Toho removed “God” from the name and just dubbed him Zilla. I actually really liked the movie and even though I do have a hard time seeing this monster as Godzilla, I do think it is a very well designed monster in its own right.

5. Rodan. From the people at Toho studios. Like Mothra, Rodan originally had his own movie and then became a regular feature in the Godzilla franchise. I always found him to be a menacing monster.

4. T-Rex & Spinosaurus. Both of these “monsters” are the only ones on my list that actually existed. Both were also featured in the Jurassic Park franchise.

3. Gaira & Sanda: The Gargantuas. From the Toho studios. Outside of the Godzilla Franchise, War of the Gargantuas,  is one of my all time favorite monster movies. I was 4 years old when I saw the trailer on TV for this movie and it scared the crap out of me. My parents wouldn’t let me watch this on TV until I was older.

2. Cloverfield.  From the movie of the same name. This creature was excellently design by Neville Page, one of my favorite creature designers. I do like the movie but just wish that we saw more of him in the film. I hope we get a sequel to Cloverfield, I would hate to have that one movie be the only one this creature was used in.

1. Godzilla. Was there any doubt as to who would be number 1? Godzilla has been designed and redesigned multiple times so here are a samples of my favorites. I love the dorsal spines on his back. The bigger the better!