Friday, May 1, 2015

My Bad

My apologies for not posting this afternoon but Thursday night through this afternoon were hectic and I went to a baseball game (and did other things) for much of the day so that's why I am just posting now. I'll be back Sunday night.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (San Daikaiju: Chikyu Saidai No Kessen) (1964)

Runtime: 93 minutes

Directed by: Ishiro Honda

Starring: Yosuke Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Akiki Wakabayashi

From: Toho

I figured it was time to watch another Godzilla film and this is the start of the franchise getting pretty wacky, as this was quite wacky. I'll return tomorrow afternoon, and I think I'll watch something else that is zany.

(Note: As there's a definite difference between the two, the version I saw was the original cut put out by Toho)

Last night I checked out this film and while some elements are starting to get old with the Toho kaiji formula of this franchise, they really went the wacky route here. Let me give some bullet point reasons as to why:

* Aliens from outer space; that's their introduction to the Godzilla universe. They are causing weird things on Earth and it leads to such things as possession and a three headed dragon to happen. Yes, a three headed dragon from space.

* Another plot revolves around a princess from a fictitious country and an insidious plot to assassinate her. That plot and those moments seem like straight out of a Seijun Suzuki film and it was just odd as those two did not always mesh well together.

* Other elements present include a variety show, monsters “talking” to each other, shock treatment, talk of alternate dimensions, a magnetic “meteorite” that's actually something else, Rodan and the larvae version of Mothra. I've never seen 1955's Rodan, as I've heard it's not good so chronologically this is the first I've seen the flying dinosaur... or if you want to call them that, a flying chicken.

It's all quite goofy and that helps in a first half that sets up the story and has basically zero monster action. By the end there's some quality action-and as always there is also quality miniature work-so overall I'll say this is a 3 star affair.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Wacky Movie

No I did not watch a wacky movie (or any for that matter; I was too tired last night) but I heard about one from a messageboard recently. It was one that was at only a few AMC Theatres last month for a week and I don't believe it came to any near me but if it is then I am disappointed I missed out on it.

It is a film released this year called Nightlight. It was talked about in this article. Pretty much it's a typical found footage horror movie set in the woods. Talk about a genre that's more than played out now and yet I am sure it'll continue on for a few more years before everyone finally gets the memo. From all descriptions this is different... in a way that's either brilliant, stupid, or both. Instead of it being from the point of view of a camera that is being carried around by someone, it's from the point of view of A FLASHLIGHT. Amazing. I will wait until it inevitably comes on Instant in the future before I watch it but I definitely will watch it for having such a loony premise.

I'll be back tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Godzilla (Unfortunately, The 1998 Film)

Godzilla (1998)

Runtime: 139 agonizing minutes

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn

From: Tri-Star

Yes, I finally watched this film again; the last viewing was oh so long ago. I didn't like it back then and now it's even worse. Besides the reasons I listed below in my Letterboxd review, there's also the stereotyping and sometimes racism that happens with several different ethnicities (Japanese, Italian, and French); oh, French people love their baked treats and coffee and Japanese people slurp noodles and watch sumo wrestling? Lord! I'll be back tomorrow and I plan on watching something better than this.

This is another case of me watching again something that I last saw many years ago. The first viewing was back on the big screen in May of '98, where me and many others watched it and ended up with the general consensus that it isn't too good. I am sure I saw it on VHS sometime after that but it has to be at least 15 years since the last viewing. After last night, don't expect me to ever see this again.

I don't really need to recap the story of how “Godzilla” (actually a bipedal dinosaur creature that sort of looks like a T-Rex) ends up in New York City but let me make clear that if this movie had no ties at all to the Toho franchise and instead was a random movie titled something like, “A Giant Dinosaur is on the Loose in New York City” it'd still be a lousy movie for the reasons I list below.

However, when you consider that the main filmmakers of this (Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin) did not respect the original property and in fact hated it and thought those movies sucked, you get something that's a big slap in the face to all the Godzilla fans around the world, where you get an awful piece of crap worse than even Godzilla vs. Megalon and a monster that looks nothing like the original and it's quickly written crap which rips off such things as Star Wars and Jurassic Park (the latter to a far greater degree than I had remembered) and let me explain why below in a few bullet points why I only give this one star.

* The story is just not good. Nevermind how it was never adequately explained why 'Zilla decided to leave the South Pacific Ocean and ended up thousands of miles away in New York City, there are many things in the film that make zero sense; that big lizard being a burrower? No, just no. Also, if it was going to rain most of the time why wasn't this set in Seattle, where at least the stereotype is that it rains every day.

* Too much goofy humor, and most of it is not funny at all; it's more abrasive and obnoxious than anything else. The lead hero being known as “the worm guy”, and always having his Greek surname mispronounced... sigh. That leads to:

* Unappealing characters. They are either too stupid or come across as A-holes. The most blatant examples are “Mayor Ebert” and his assistant “Gene”. The filmmakers were so gravely offended Siskel & Ebert did not like their last film Independence Day that they created those two over-exaggerated buffoons and it was just so bad and petty... and they didn't even have 'Zilla kill the either of them! In terms of stupidity, a guy in a helicopter tries to avoid the dino... and never thought of flying up to get out of its reach.

* The CGI... yikes does most of it look pretty bad in 2015. I and others thought this was OK back then? I did not remember it being this bad in '98.

* This is a point brought up by someone I know who mentioned it in a review he posted last year about this film, but it's accurate: no one seems too concerned that their city just got trashed (seemingly half the damage done because of human stupidity) and suffered billions of dollars in damage. Real life events since this came out make it pretty clear they got it SO wrong here, and NYC people LOVE their city. If none of the characters care, why should I?

Like I said I don't plan on watching this ever again, as there's no need to. I could go on and on about the badness of this but I thought I summed up the biggest problems.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Catching Up On Podcasts...

and relaxing last night/today due to being too tired is the explanation I have for saying now that you'll have to wait until tomorrow night for a proper review from me, but I do have more than one idea what to watch tonight, so I am set there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Metropolis

Metropolis (1927)

Runtime: 148 minutes

Directed by: Fritz Lang

Starring: Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Fritz Rasp

From: UFA

Note that the first part of this review is me talking about the 2010 restored version, running 148 minutes long, then I talk about the 1984 version of the film done by Giorgio Moroder where he tried restoring it with what was available at the time and added some real 1980's touches to it. Both those Letterboxd reviews are below and I'll return tomorrow night.

"The Mediator Between Brain And Hands Must Be The Heart!"

Like many people, I did see one of the shorter versions of this legendary film that were floating about, aided by it becoming public domain. I thought it was great at the time. Despite that and being quite excited to hear that longer versions were discovered in Argentina then New Zealand and it would be released on disc, I waited until last night to finally watch that definitive version on Blu-ray. Even I can't quite adequately explained why I did this, but at least I finally gave it a viewing.

I don't want to say too much for those that haven't seen this classic yet, but it's set in a 2026 futuristic city and it is a real case of “the haves vs. the have nots” as the elite live in luxury in a lovely looking burgh while everyone else lives underground and they have to work to supply the power and electricity to those in power. The city is run by a Joh Fredersen; he has an adult son named Freder and he falls in love with an attractive blonde of “the lower class” named Maria and trouble happens when the lower class plans on an uprising. Also factoring into an equation is a mad scientist with the hilarious name of Rotwang and a human-like robot he created.

The reputation of this is well-deserved. Besides an epic story which touches on such things as the seven sins, romance, betrayal, oppression, madness, and greed, the effects/background/sets are all tremendous and even now they are quite impressive. You are immediately brought into that expressionistic universe and you're always engrossed throughout by this film that is filled to the brim with imagination, unforgettable expansive sets and big moments.

I do always think it's great whenever films that are considered “lost” can be rediscovered, which has sometimes happened in recent years. When a half hour of material thought gone forever has been added to an all-time great that influenced the likes of Star Wars (with C-3PO), Blade Runner, Dark City, The Fifth Element, the Burton Batman films, Superman, and others... it can be considered a miracle and it made a great film even better. If you have never watched this before, the 148 minute version is clearly the way to go.

Now, the Moroder version:

Earlier in the day I posted a review of the 2010 fully restored 148 minute version of Metropolis. To be brief, I gave it 5 stars and praised how great the movie is even in 2015. However, I had never seen this version of the film, released in 1984.

Legendary music producer Giorgio Moroder used some of his disco cash to try and restore the movie to the best he could with the footage and techniques available at the time. There are only a few interlaced titles, subtitles are used instead to show dialogue, the footage is shown at a faster rate (which is why this is 83 minutes long), the footage is tinted various colors but usually is subtle, there are added sound effects and the score is replaced with one Moroder did himself and includes 80's pop ditties done by the likes of Loverboy, Freddie Mercury, Billy Squier, Pat Benatar, and Bonnie Tyler.

Now, while the 2010 version is definitely the definitive version to watch, this is a rather interesting alternate version. I am not always sure if the music fits the scenes but the score itself is pretty great; then again I tend to dig Moroder's music a lot so I may be biased there. The added color and sound effects put a different spin on things and I was fine with it being shorter, but there was nothing wrong with the original length either.

Above all else, I commend Giorgio Moroder for trying to put together the best possible version of the film that he could at the time. How effective the 80's touches are... it can certainly be debated but I appreciate that he's a big fan of the movie and was able to put this project together to introduce it to a new generation.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Runtime: 98 minutes

Directed by: Fred M. Wilcox

Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly

From: MGM

I saw this movie again on television last night. The first viewing was a long time ago. I am glad I finally saw it again after all of these years. The Letterboxd review is below and I will return tomorrow night.

This motion picture is another example of a film that I had seen before but that viewing was many years ago (in this case, around 20 or so); when I saw TCM was showing it last night I knew that was the right time to check out this sci-fi classic again.

This tale is basically Shakespeare's The Tempest. A ship goes into the far reaches of space to check on a colony that hasn't had any contact in the past 20 years. They land and discover a large building on an otherwise barren planet and the only occupants is an intelligent scientist (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis), who the ship's crew immediately all drool over and make blunt comments about her physical beauty, and a charming robot known as Robbie the Robot. The crew is not wanted there, and not just because multiple men fall for Altaira. A mysterious force killed almost all the colony soon after they got there and it appears as if it's returned... oh, and a mysterious race known as the Krill used to live there long ago and their technology is still around.

The movie is not fast-paced and that's OK with me as it's an intelligent and mature sci-fi where philosophy is a key component in trying to figure out what's going on. Well, the views on women and how all those men acted as soon as they saw an attractive blonde was not mature, but other than that...I do enjoy science fiction and how it can be used to explore topics of a broad scope, such as what it means to be a human, a person's innermost struggles or using metaphors to address societal issues. I won't delve into details on what this film is really about in case someone hasn't seen it yet but wish to in the future.The 50's view of the future is quite pleasing and not only are the special effects still pretty cool, but the electronic score is really rad.

While I understand those who think this is “too dull” or “unexciting”, to me it's a very interesting and astute science fiction movie from the past. I was happy to finally see it again.