Thursday, August 13, 2015

the Globe Meter #12

(I used to write for G-Fan magazine on a regular basis.  This was the name of the column, from Starman's magic watch.  I think this is from the middle of 2006.  And yes, I still like Final Wars, sue me.)

GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004): I know you all have been waiting with bated breath (now go brush your teeth) for my review and comments on this movie. Well, wait no more and you can also go ahead and breathe now.  If you stop, it may make you blue, and that would be bad.

I quite enjoyed this movie. I’m no Kitamura fan (VERSUS was just really stupid and while ARAGAMI was interesting, the ending was nearly the same (and also as predictable) as VERSUS) but I thought he delivered a fun, lively and interesting movie. The main problems I had with the movie were the overused Matrix effects and Godzilla being far far far too powerful. But what a ride the movie was. You would think a country that produced the Japan Action Club would be able to make a movie with better fight scenes, other than the simply adequate ones presented here. The monster suits all looked pretty good, except for the ones I really wanted to like- King Shisa and Angilas- the former just had something wrong, and the latter looked too much like a hedgehog- must have been the lack of the nose horn.

But I am at quite a loss as to why so many fans disliked this movie so much. Sure, it’s not the best Godzilla movie ever made, but it’s a lot of fun. Some fans have wanted an uber- powerful Godzilla for years, and then when they get one, they whine the fights are over too soon. To hear some of them complain, this was far worse than gino! I suppose, since it wasn’t another remake of GODZILLA VS THE THING it was a complete failure in those fans eyes. But what did they expect? I was hoping only to be entertained, and this movie delivered that. But heck, I’m one of those guys that would rather watch GODZILLA VS MEGALON than, say, GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE or GMK, so what do I know? In the words of Chris “Owari” Elam, “I loved GODZILLA: FINAL WARS. I must be ruining the fandom!”
Of course, if you want some good martial arts, stay away from any movie that uses cg-style crap- go with the Shaw Brothers instead!

KING KONG (2005)
An ode to excess. There’s a good movie in this bloated beast, but Peter Jackson really needs to find out what an editor is for. It’s like he had to top every part of the original movie- it has one t rex, we have three! Instead of one pteranodan we have a swarm of bat things. And the added spider pit sequence proved that removing it from the original was the right idea. The constant video game like motion of the camera was very disturbing as well, and added to the overuse of slow motion really made parts of the movie hard to watch. Every scene with the “monsters” was too long.
There is a lot to like about the movie- the cast is good, even the usually disagreeable Jack Black (though he really needed to be about 20 years older to make the part completely his). The opening third, set in NYC works very well. However, after Ann becomes attached to Kong, she seems to be rather disturbed and in need of some psychiatric care, a strange case of “The Stockholm Syndrome” to be sure. It started to turn into a remake of the previous needless remake from '76.
Kong comes off as this spoiled gorilla- and JUST a big ape, not the mythic monster god of Skull Island the original is. He looks more like Mighty Joe Young than King Kong. Not once in the movie is he ever referred to as “King” Kong, and barely referred to as Kong either. The effects are almost all well done, except for the first dinosaurs we see. There are some strange lapses in physics that jar the viewers out of the movie- Kong shaking Ann like a rag doll, snapping her head back and forth. Our eyes tell us she would at least have a broken neck. And this is the least of the physics problems!
All in all, the movie fails because of the many small things it got wrong. A shorter movie would have eliminated them, only to be released in the extended DVD version of the movie (of which there will still surely be). Remember when a movie was self contained, and didn’t need to add extra scenes BACK in to explain a plot point? One can say you have to forget logic in a movie about a giant gorilla, but when it tries so hard to LOOK realistic and then doesn’t, well, this is what you get. People have told me that this is just nitpicking, but when so many “nits” are swarming about, it gets hard to ignore them.
However, it’s better than the 76 remake, and much like that ‘film’ and gino has provided us as fans with many cool things- the King Kong cartoon DVDs, the Toho Kong movies on DVD. So I am thankful Jackson did remake this movie, even though it proved once again that KING KONG did not ever need a remake.

Kamen Rider V3 DVD set
      JNP has done it again. After their amazing Kikaida DVDs, they release the most popular Kamen Rider series on legit R1 DVD, complete with English subtitles. These people do astounding work, and it’s nice to see a beloved Kamen Rider series available for viewing. The extras are also really nice, including factoids about Destron and an interview with Hiroshi Miyauchi (Shiro Kamazi/Rider V3) and a ton of other trivia! This set is rather expensive, but not when you consider that JNP is a small company, and this is an unique show.
I’ll be presenting a much more in depth episode guide to this show in the near future, but the main gist of the program is that after the Double Riders defeated Shocker, the remnants form the new group Destron. They end up killing the Kazami family, except for Shiro. After being mortally wounded in a battle with one of the Destron kaijin (kaijin = “strange man” more or less) Shiro is transformed into Kamen Rider V3 by the first two Riders. He then proceeds to battle Destron as they plan to take over the world.

           Created by Shotaro Ishinomori, who also created Kikaida, Cyborg 009, GoRangers and many other heroes, Kamen Rider V3 is possibly the most popular Rider of all time. Action packed with great fight scenes and well written drama, the series is one of the best out there. For more information on the series and ordering the excellent set, visit and check it out!

Witty Intersections Dept:
I’ve picked up most of the new Japanese DVDs released over here- ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, DAGORA, SPACE AMOEBA and ATRAGON (no, I’m not picking up VARAN, the Japanese movie is pretty boring, and I prefer the US one, like watching old friends now). These sure are nice discs- it’s really too bad that the original US dubs for several of them were not able to be used. I’m still glad to get them, though. Hopefully there will be more on the way as well.
Now if we could just get some more classic Japanese cartoons released on legit DVD, why, life would be almost perfect!
It’s also very cool to be able to see lots of older science fiction and horror movies- public domain DVDs may not be the best quality, but it gives you the chance to watch some of these lesser known movies and if you like it enough, there’s usually a higher quality version out somewhere. And the price is always right- for a buck or two, if you don’t like it, you can pass it on to someone that might- then everybody wins!

(David McRobie apologizes to the readers of G-Fan for the lengthy lapse between columns, but sometimes life gets in the way of the plans we make. On the plus side, I did buy a new car! Stay tuned next issue for a 30th anniversary look at the Ultimate in Science Fiction- INFRA-MAN!)

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