Posts Tagged ‘Godzilla’

Kong: Skull Island is the second entry in what is called the Monsterverse, which began with 2014’s Godzilla and will continue into at least two more films. Skull Island is a period piece set in the 1970s. Just as the Vietnam War ended, an American military unit, led by Samuel L Jackson, is assigned to escort a group of scientists to an island that was just discovered via satellite. Skull island is surrounded by a perpetual storm, which explains why the outside world hadn’t found it already.

Kong: Skull Island breaks the basic rule (which I believe the original Kong might have established) of not showing the monster right away. As soon as the expedition gets to Skull Island they encounter Kong. They at least show Kong’s hands first, but the big reveal comes pretty fast. In the original King Kong, the monster doesn’t show up for quite a while. We get time to build up the mystery and tension, as the audience obviously knows there are monsters to be encountered before the film characters do. Kong Skull Island offers none of this.

Not only that, but it spoils what should be a surprise in the plot. The opening scene is actually in 1945. During World War II an American and Japanese pilot have shot each other down and crashed on Skull Island. They’re fighting to the death when Kong arrives. So later in the second act when the Vietnam vets discover an American who’s been living on the island for the past 28 years, it’s not a surprise at all. Granted this plot point was revealed in the trailer too, but still, it should be something of a shock. Even worse, the WWII vet, played by John C. Reilly, is played for laughs. As I’m writing this I think back to the original Predator, I can honestly remember feeling a sense of dread as the soldiers trekked through the jungle, being picked off one by one by the predator. Even though it was Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was still thinking “Arnold, just forget about it, just get on the chopper and go home!” Here on Skull Island, we have another group of soldiers trekking through the jungle, and instead of one killer alien, there’s a whole bunch of big giant monsters running around, and most of the time it’s not even remotely scary.

Further removing itself from the proper tone is the soundtrack, which reminding us that it’s set in the 1970s by having hits of that era playing. While it was great music, and, just as in Suicide Squad, I was perfectly happy to hear Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, cool songs alone don’t save a movie.

One piece of advice writers are given is to start the story as late as possible. It would have worked to start the film with the military unit getting assigned to the island, and the audience would slowly find out what’s going on as the characters do. There’s that scene in the trailer where Samuel L. Jackson points his gun at John Goodman and says something to the effect of “You better tell me what’s going on right now.” By that point in the movie the audience already knows everything Goodman tells him. After the un-needed WWII flashback we get a scene in Washington introducing John Goodman as an agent of Monarch, which is the secret government group that looks for giant monsters. Monarch appeared in the previous Godzilla film, and presumably will be the Monsterverse equivalent to Marvel’s SHIELD. At this point Monarch is considered a joke by most, but Goodman manages to finagle this mission. He does provide some interesting personal backstory to how Monarch came to be, but, in my opinion, this whole scene in Washington could have been cut, and the audience could have learned all of Goodman’s secrets at the same time as Samuel L. Jackson.

There are lots of other giant monsters to see on the island. We don’t get to see dinosaurs, (and I just realized, why not!!!) but there is a giant spider. Giant ants are hinted at but never shown. Kong’s primary antagonists are called Skull Crushers, and they may vaguely remind audiences of something across from Godzilla and Cloverfield.

Interestingly enough, Kong appears to have an ambiguous ending, leaving the audience to wonder if anyone escaped the island or not. However, as the credits roll we learn what happened to the WWII vet. There is the question of, given this is a period piece, how the general public never learned of Skull Island. Late in the movie the characters simply state they’ll never tell anyone, which is a bit to believe.

This issue is partly hinted at in the post-credit scene. Yes by the way there is a post credit scene, which sets up the monster mayhem to come. King Kong vs Godzilla is slated for 2020. Monster fans often speculate on how they will fight when Kong is significantly smaller than Godzilla. Kong Skull Island tells us that Kong is just a baby, so presumably he’ll have grown in the last 40 plus years.

There is some decent cinematography, with imagery that reminds audiences not just of old monster movies, but of Vietnam movies like Apocalypse now etc. The basic story is interesting, and provides some good old fashion monster fun, but overall was disappointing. It’s remarkable that over eighty years later the original King Kong is still the best Kong film.

Shin Godzilla, also known as Godzilla Resurgence, is the 31rst film in the Godzilla franchise. Produced by Toho pictures, it was given a limited US theatrical release for one week in October of 2016.
Not tied to any previous Godzilla film, Shin opens with the Tokyo Bay Aqua line being flooded. Government officials meet to discuss action, and one person suggests that the disaster is due to a giant creature. While dismissed, is quickly (too quickly) revealed to be accurate, as a giant tail is shown coming out of the ocean near Japan.
The central problem of Shin is too many scenes of people sitting in a room arguing/discussing what action to take. While I appreciate the critique of an inefficient Japanese government, these scenes aren’t compelling enough to maintain interest in the film.
Soon the creature come ashore, after the government predicted it couldn’t. The first shot of the creature appeared to be done with puppetry instead of CGI, it looked really different and they eyes in particular didn’t look good to me. Honestly I thought the creature was Anguirus at first because of the design. However what happens is we see Godzilla evolve on screen until he changes to his final form, which is the tallest Godzilla ever on screen.
Some backstory is dropped about how the creature was mutated from toxic/radioactive waste dumped in the ocean. There’s no suspense or even story about trying to expose this information, it’s just kind of there. We get some angle about a missing scientist (who we never see on screen) who’s been studying the possibility of the creature’s existence for years. In the notes he left behind he named the creature both Godzilla and the original Japanese name Gojira, which was a sort of Easter Egg for the fans.
The final act is more satisfying, with the humans coming up with some innovative ways to slow down Godzilla. The creatures powers are enhanced in this film, but come with an accompanying weakness.
Naturally the Shin Godzilla is left open for a sequel, but while I appreciated the effort of trying to make a political statement, future entries in this series will need to be much more interesting.

Coming in at #7 is clips from the American version of the original Godzilla film set to the music of Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth. One of the best fits of music to film on youtube I’ve ever seen.

 

Godzilla 2014 Film

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Movies
Tags: ,

Godzilla is a Warner Brothers/Legendary pictures entry into the long running Japanese monster franchise. It is not necessarily a remake or a sequel. Taking a page from Toho Pictures Millennium series in the 1990s, it uses the first Godzilla film of 1954 as a starting point. The specific events of that picture are not mentioned, with the oxygen destroyer and what not, but it’s understood that in the world of this movie Godzilla did surface in the Pacific in 1954. 

In fact, it opens with a nice montage of old Godzilla images and text that is quickly blackened out, (something that will make future DVD watching fun) suggesting government conspiracies regarding the giant monster.

Cut to 1999, Joe Brody, played by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, is a scientist living in Japan, who loses his wife in a tragedy involving a nuclear power plant.15 year later/today, he has become a conspiracy nut, estranged from his now grown son Ford, who serves in the military. Joe doesn’t necessarily know of the existence of Godzilla, but he knows the government is hiding something regarding the accident that he lost his wife to.

Without spoiling the plot events unfold where a monster emerges. Godzilla himself is slowly unveiled, and there is a certain order and function behind what Godzilla is. There’s not just random monsters, there’s a certain system and they relate to each other, and the creatures also have a relationship with radiation, a nice throw back to the atomic age.

There’s some monster brawling half way through but it’s cleverly cut by going to news footage of the end of the event. This leaves room for a huge monster brawl in the final act. 

The human characters aren’t as compelling as they could be, aside from Bryan Cranston of course.But you paid to see big monsters and that’s what you get. Naturally the monsters look great, and there’s a few moments of Godzilla in action that will make you want to stand up and cheer. 

Godzilla is not presented as much of a menace, aside from the scene where he wrecked the Golden Gate bridge which I sort of didn’t get. There’s a scene where he’s swimming through the Pacific and battleships follow along side, as if they have a working relationship lol. He ends up getting embraced by the public and there’s even a reference to the phrase King of the Monsters. 

Most of us probably remember the 1998 American Godzilla that was such a disappointment. I think sometimes a bad movie is the price we pay for a good movie. (See Batman and Robin and the Nolan Bat trilogy). This Godzilla doesn’t disappoint. One of the nice things about it is, while it is sort of open for a sequel, this is one complete story with a definitive ending. If a sequel never gets made, this story would still remain complete. 

Finally I wanted to add that I saw this in 4box or whatever they call it, which means the seats move around with the action in the movie. It was fun but the 4D stuff is done a lot better in Korea. Over there the seats move and you get air bursts when there’s gun fire on screen, sprays of water, and other effects within the theater. With any luck we’ll get that in America someday too.

Marvel Studio’s upcoming film slate of Iron Man II, (2010) Thor (2011) and Captain America (2011) will lead up to the Avengers (Featuring all three characters and probably the Hulk) in 2012.

Marvel’s movie universe began in 2008 with Iron Man and the Hulk. The Marvel spy group SHIELD appeared in both movies. “The Avengers Initiative” was mentioned in Iron Man’s post credit scene. Hulk had references to Captain America, and Tony Stark/Iron Man appeared at the end. This is the first time a shared film universe was made from the ground up. There are other shared film worlds, but they werent initially designed to be such. The four I know of are;

Universal Monsters

Universal Studios was famous for its Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and Wolfman (1941) movies. 1943 saw the movie Frankenstein meets Wolfman, and the two met Dracula in 1944s House of Frankenstein and 1945s House of Dracula. Universal made other movies like the Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. They are also considered Universal monsters, but during that time never met Dracula, Wolfman, or Franksenstein.

The three monsters met in various media throughout the decades, including a failed attempt to start a franchise with 2004s Van Helsing movie. In 2010 a remake of Wolfman also flopped. No further re-makes have been announced. A horror based film universe with these characters would have been cool.

Godzilla

The Godzilla franchise started in 1954. He once fought King Kong, and met Rodan and Mothra, prior to which both monsters had their own movies.

Also included in the Godzilla-verse are characters from the following Japanese monster/science fiction movies;

Atragon
Battle in Outer Space
Dogora
Frankenstein Conquers the World
Gorath
The Mysterians
Space Amoeba
Varan the Unbelievable
The War in Space

Friday the 13th/Nightmare on Elm Street.

In the 80s the Friday the 13th  and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises were developed by Paramount and New Line. The two companies actually planned a crossover at the time, but plans fell through. New Line acquired the F13 rights and made Jason Goes to Hell in 1993. At the end of that movie Freddys gloved hand is seen reaching out of the ground, and his laugh is heard. The two officially met in 2003s Freddy vs Jason. The timelines from both films are presumed to have merged. Two comic book mini-series served as sequels and included Ash from the Evil Dead series. Also of note is that various supporting characters from F13 and NOES films appear in the second comic book crossover.

Aliens vs Predator

Though they fought in comics and video games for years, the two monsters didnt meet on the silver screen until 2004. A sequel followed in 2007, but since then its been announced that both creatures are each getting another solo movie. Again, like Freddy vs Jason, it can be assumed that both timelines are one. That doesnt matter too much as the Alien series took place in the future, and the Predator movies were in the present. AVP was the first movie where Aliens appeared in the present day.

Now lets take a look at the three shared film worlds I think could be possible.

Hasbro-verse.

Hasbro, between its own properties, and the properties of other companies it bought since the 80s, owns a large number of franchises. These franchises cover many genres from military action, to hard science fiction, fantasy, etc. It’s most famous properties are Transformers and G.I. Joe. Lesser known characters that could fit with those two include Inhumanoids, Go-bots, and M.A.S.K. Other properties they own that wouldnt fit as well, but could be whole film series themselves include Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering,  and Alternity. They also own more obscure 80’s toy properties like Sectaurs, Visionaries, and Silverhawks.

Transformers and G. I. Joe of course have their own films now, but they all could have, or could still meet in the future.

The Slasher-verse.

Take Freddy vs Jason up a notch. New Line also owns Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If they got the rights to Halloween, (which was rumored at one point) there could be one cool fright filled world. Throw in others like Pumpkinhead, Chucky, and something to tie them together like Hellraiser and you’ve got a truly disturbing universe.

DC Comics film world.

Weve all spent years wondering why this hasnt happened yet. No point in rehashing it again.