New facial cleanses have gotten out of control!
Godzilla was on one of his occasional breaks after his Final War while the US developed their own Godzilla franchise. But after that monster hit, Godzilla reawoke in Japan to return with a spiritual successor to the original Gojira that is also one of the most successful films in Japan. Godzilla is back as a force of nature, the appearance and response directly referencing the Japanese Fukushima earthquake/nuclear disaster. Much of the film is spent in a West Wing style series of high level government meetings, in which entrenched minsters and officials do little of consequence in order to avoid looking bad if their actions don’t have the desired effect. While that sounds like it could be terrible, it’s actually really good, the scenes are cut quickly and innovatively to keep things moving briskly along while still giving you the feeling that the characters were in long unproductive meetings.
Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi were given free reign to tell their story, the pair having collaborated on Evangelion, with Anno subsequently directing cult live action films such as Cutie Honey and Higuchi doing effects work on the Gamera trilogy and directing the Attack on Titan features. Their strong pedigree promised that we would get something unique and entertaining, and the pair delivered with a strong entry.
The effects are a bit mixed, the final form of Godzilla is well done, but the earlier forms look goofy and some effects with them seem more rushed. While most of the music is new, there is some nice Akira Ifukube put in at the right time, with tanks driving around and blasting away that helped made the scene come together, you won’t care that everything is now CG instead of models and a guy in a suit. It really is modern mixed with the past, besides the retro tank fight, we have unmanned drones attacking Big G at one point, and the final sequence has a bunch of industrial and civilian vehicles that make up the heart of Japan’s economic might being used to save Japan.
Categories: Bad, Movie Reviews Tags: Akira Emoto, Arata Furuta, Godzilla, Hideaki Anno, Hiroki Hasegawa, Issei Takahashi, Japan, Jun Kunimura, Kanji Tsuda, Keisuke Koide, Ken Mitsuishi, Kengo Kora, Kenichi Yajima, Kimiko Yo, Kyūsaku Shimada, Mansai Nomura, Mikako Ichikawa, Pierre Taki, Ren Osugi, Satomi Ishihara, Sei Hiraizumi, Shinji Higuchi, Shinya Tsukamoto, Takumi Saito, Tetsu Watanabe, Yutaka Takenouchi
Tired of all those US remakes of Asian film? Well, let’s flip the script and report on Asian films remaking US films! And this one might be good, as it’s a remake of Unforgiven set in Edo period samurai Japan (actually, it’s set slightly after the 1868 end of the Edo period, in the 1880s.) Westerns and Samurai flicks have a lot of similar story elements that make the transitioning of the story between the two settings far easier to pull off than a lot of other random new locations, and has a well-established history of successfully doing just that. Unforgiven (real title: Yurusarezaru Mono – 許されざる者) will be written and directed by Lee Sang-il, the writer/director of Hula Girls. It will star Ken Watanabe as the main character Jubei Kamata, a famous samurai killer who has hung up his sword and retired, but is forced back into work as a bounty hunter due to poverty. Akira Emoto and Koichi Sato also star.
aka Zeburaman aka ゼブラーマン
Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Kankuro Kudo
If you know anything about cult cinema, you know Takashi Miike is awesome. Miike is always firing with all cylinders, and even on his weaker efforts he never does a half-assed job or sleepwalks through a film. Miike hops genres like Q*bert down a pyramid, able to make the most disgustingly violent film you’ve ever seen and follow that up with a kiddie flick. Zebraman is a love letter to tokusatsu heroes, particularly those from the 70s and 80s on Japanese television. Miike takes a fictitious hero and series and turn it into much more than just a simple tokusatsu film. It becomes a tale of finding yourself, of destiny, of belief, and about doing what’s right because you’re a hero. And it also has a guy riding a flying zebra while battling a giant goo monster. Zebraman takes these conventions and has fun with them, turning some deadly serious and others into more ridiculous fare than they’re treated by the real tokusatsu shows.
The fun with Zebraman is how all these different conventions and story bits add up to create a good story, despite the difference in tone and style. It’s a testament to Miike’s talent that he can take so many differently shaped parts and put together the puzzle with no missing pieces. My biggest fault with Zebraman is that the sequel outshines it at every turn. But I’ll worry about that when the review of the sequel goes up. For now, let’s learn about the man, the myth, the hero, Zebraman!
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla
Nothing is ever spelled right in a Godzilla film.
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla was the twenty-first Godzilla film and the second to last Heisei picture. It received mixed to bad criticisms upon its release in Japan and later the US, and now is almost universally scorned. There are some good points, and some nice nods to continuity of the Heisei series. SpaceGodzilla is an old concept from the 1970s (along with Godzilla vs. the Devil, which could have only been born in the 1970s) that got yanked out for modern day after TriStar failed in their quest to make an American Godzilla film. Upon release of the actual American Godzilla film a few years later, one wishes they instead yanked Godzilla vs. the Devil out of the dustbin instead!
The design for SpaceGodzilla stems from an old Nintendo game Super Godzilla, during the game Godzilla could become Super Godzilla, and the sprite design was almost identical for SpaceGodzilla. They, in fact, took the sprites, slightly altered them, and then called is SpaceGodzilla. SpaceGodzilla has never returned to the silver screen, but he returned for several episodes of Godzilla Island, where it was revealed there is a second SpaceGodzilla who is killed in that series. SpaceGodzilla also shows up in video games (fitting due to his design origin): First he appeared in Godzilla: Giant Monster March. He also showed up in Godzilla: Save the Earth, replacing Orga as the final opponent in hard mode. In his biggest role, SpaceGodzilla is the final boss in Godzilla: Unleashed, the game where Godzilla battles against Animal Control for the right to have his pit bulls run free in the streets.
MOGUERA shows up instead of Mechagodzilla because Mechagodzilla was too powerful in the previous film, and having Godzilla and his robot brother fight the space spawn would be too one-sided, even though it could be advertised as Godzilla^3! So they drag out Toho’s other robot creation (no, not Mechakong) MOGUERA! Back when he was Moguera, he was in 1957’s The Mysterians and showed up as an alien agent on a carnage run smashing through cities until he was killed when a bridge fell out from under him (the same fate as James T. Kirk!) A second Moguera then appeared later in the film only to also die by being crushed. Now MOGUERA is built by the UN from the wreckage of Mechagodzilla to fight Godzilla, and is an acronym for Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-Type. MOGUERA can split into two vehicles, Land Moguera and Star Falcon, because every monster in the Heisei universe has multiple forms, even freaking robots!
Babygodzilla has grown up some and is now Littlegodzilla, who is now Minya-sized and more annoying. I still hate him, but even worse, there was a possibility that he would have gotten his own TV shows spun off of this film. Thankfully, that never came to pass. So instead I will complain about the US DVD release. I can ignore the dubbing, the lack of credits, who cares. The problem is they chop off a good portion of the film in multiple scenes! It is supposed to be anamorphic widescreen, but it is obvious that parts are sourced from a fullscreen print that is chopped off at the top and bottom for widescreen! This is most apparent in the title shot, where most of the word “Gojira” is chopped off. Multiple scenes in the film have characters missing the tops of their heads. I am not going to watch my VHS copy of the film to see if it is filled with chopped off foreheads, I am just going to assume it doesn’t. So “BOOO!” to whoever authored the DVD, you did a terrible job and I hope you die by being crushed by DVDs.
Xillian raiders forced us to wear these horrible clothes! Help us!
One thing the movie never harps on is that is SpaceGodzilla was created from Godzilla cells, then he is Godzilla’s offspring (in a round-about way!) We have a cool subplot about fatherly responsibilities, daddy issues, what if you have a son who is genetically defective, all sorts of things that are completely ignored! The human plot could have benefited greatly from a little less of the psychic crap and a little more family turmoil. Maybe Miki has a friend whose father hates her because she is psychic, and thus she begins to act out and be bad. Then dad learns he must love his daughter and take care of her even if she is different, because otherwise she could become a horrible space monster obsessed with crystals! And then…Dad is crushed by a crystal, but her psychic/telekinetic powers save him! Then the whole thing airs on ABC Family.
Speaking of crystals…crystals? Who thought crystals was a good idea? Every time I watch this I think of those New Age wackos who use crystals to get energy and all that other freaky stuff. That’s a little loopy even for a Godzilla film. What is next, WitchGodzilla (excuse me…WiccanGodzilla?) In conclusion, crystals are dumb.
M&M escalates the War on Skittles. Taste this rainbow, bitch!
Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly Tags: Akira Emoto, Akira Nakao, Franchise in Space, Godzilla, Godzilla Junior, Hiroshi Kashiwabara, Japan, Jun Hashizume, Kanji Kashiwa, Keiko Imamura, Kenji Sahara, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Kensho Yamashita, Megumi Odaka, Moguera, Ryo Hariya, Sayaka Osawa, Space Godzilla, Towako Yoshikawa, Wataru Fukuda, Yosuke Saito, Zenkichi Yoneyama