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Terror of Mechagodzilla (Review)

Terror of Mechagodzilla

aka Mekagojira no gyakushu aka メカゴジラの逆襲

1975
March of Godzilla 2012
Written by Yukiko Takayama
Directed by Ishiro Honda

Titanosaurus, DirectTV pioneer

Terror of Mechagodzilla is a direct followup to the previous film, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It’s also the final film of the Showa era, one of the few films to show direct continuity that would be used more in the Heisei films, and the final Godzilla work of some G-legends, Ishiro Honda and Akihiko Hirata. It also bombed horribly, helping lead to a decade-long absence of Godzilla in film form. Overall, Terror of Mechagodzilla is a mixed bag. The action sequences are some of the most violent and explosive of the older films, but they’re obviously trying to compensate from the lower budget (many scenes suddenly end up in the countryside) and the hectic explosions loose their danger after the 1 millionth giant boom.

Being a little mermaid sure is boring…

Ishiro Honda doesn’t sleep on the job, making up for the lower filming budget with some neat visual stylizing. A flashback to Professor Mafune’s descent into madness is shown via sepia-toned photographs while narration explains. Katsura’s lament that Titanosaurus is to be used as a murderous weapon is juxtaposed with other alien-controlled kaiju from prior films played on a quad-screen shot. Godzilla’s first appearance is one of the better introduction scenes in his history.

The alien command center is in some Trekker guy’s basement?

While Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla showed a trend towards more serious, Terror of Mechagodzilla straddled the edge of serious and silly. The action sequences were more destructive, but the alien villains were more comic book. The cyborg daughter is played for tragedy, but it is obvious from the beginning that it will end in a downer and we’re just running through the steps until the final act. I am willing to accept that some of the sillier aspects are unintentional, such as the alien helmets or the complete lack of concern for hunting down the aliens by Interpol even after they’ve been spotted multiple times in the same area. But I can’t deny that I feel it is there, and it clouds Terror of Mechagodzilla in a way that the prior film did not have.

Titanosaurus was tragically hit by a meteor during the filming of this scene…

メカゴジラの逆襲 (translation: Counterattack of Mechagodzilla) was first released in the US in theaters in 1978 under the title The Terror of Godzilla. The US rights were held by Henry Saperstein, who sold Bob Conn Enterprises the film rights, but also released the movie itself on TV in 1978 as Terror of Mechagodzilla. This cut is credited to UPA Productions of America, and features an additional six minutes of scenes taken from other Godzilla films and narrated to serve as an introduction to Godzilla (this sequence is detailed below), the only think cut was a brief shot of Katsura’s fake breasts during a surgery scene. By the mid-1980s, there was a new cut on tv that featured many of the violent scenes cut down, as well as not having the opening narration. There are some that say this was the theatrical cut, though I don’t know why the theater cut would have removed the violence when that seems more of a tv cut thing to do. That cut was the most widely available for decades, including the original version I saw before I got a tape of the original cut. I have still not seen the restored DVD, hence the screenshots are either from the old VHS tape or the earlier DVD.

For some reason, the humans won’t take us serious!

And as March of Godzilla 2012 continues, let’s get us to the Roll Call!

Akira Ichinose (Katsuhiko Sasaki) – Marine Biologist at the Ocean Exploitation Institute, which somehow qualifies him to have equal police rights as the rest of Interpol when he works with them to track down the mysterious dinosaur. Falls in love with a cyborg despite her repeated attempts to brush him off.
Katsura Mafune (Tomoko Ai) – Daughter of the famous Professor Mafune, who went mad. She covers for her father, telling the world he is dead. In reality, he is in league with the space aliens and is using his discovery, Titanosaurus, and his ability to control animals, against mankind for spurning him and his ideas. Katsura was rebuilt as a cyborg after she was injured in an experiment, and becomes more robotic the more the aliens due to her. Tomoko Ai went on to do a string of Nikkuatsu films.
Dr. Shinzo Mafune (Akihiko Hirata) – Akikhiko Hirata plays yet another mad scientist, except this one doesn’t have an eyepatch, he’s got crazy old man hair, mustache, and eyebrows. He hates mankind because they made fun of him. Good thing he doesn’t read YouTube comments, Dr. Mafune would explode with rage. Explode, I tell you! He teams with the aliens.
Interpol Agent Jiro Murakoshi (Katsumasa Uchida) – The main cop who is sort of in the film, though often the film forgets he’s there as it focuses more on Ichinose. But he occasionally shows up to save the day and to save Ichinose.
Alien Leader Mugal (Goro Mutsumi) – The new leader of the space aliens from the previous film. Mugal sounds like a name for a Gremlin or something. The greatest tragedy of Terror of Mechagodzilla is that the aliens never revert back to gorilla form.
Godzilla (Toru Kawai) – The biggest G of them all!
Mechagodzilla (Ise Mori) – Picked up from the ocean floor and rebuilt with human slaves, Mechagodzilla is back to fight his fleshy foe. And now he’s controlled by a cyborg lady! And he has some sort of head under his head! It’s all weird, but not enough to keep him from being turned into scrap metal.
Titanosaurus (Katsumi Nimiamoto) – Titanosaurus is a peaceful dinosaur used by an arrogant made scientist and aliens to attack humans, and is then brutally murdered by Godzilla for his crime of being brainwashed. Some people are really into Titanosaurus! If you are Japanese, you call him Chitanosaurusu. Rumor has it that Titanosaurus was originally supposed to be two smaller creatures called the Titans that fuse together to create Titanosaurus. This idea seems to have been recycled into Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
G is for Godzooky, that’s good enough for me!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm

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Agon the Atomic Dragon (Review)

Agon the Atomic Dragon

aka Maboroshi no Daikaiju Agon

1968
Directed by Norio Mine and Fuminori Ohashi

Agon the Atomic Dragon began as a 1964 TV miniseries Maboroshi no Daikaiju Agon (Giant Phantom Monster Agon) produced by Nippon Denpa Eiga (Japan Radio Pictures), but a four year argument with the sponsors of the show delayed it airing until 1968. The four shows were combined into a movie in the 1990s, and that is where most Western audiences became familiar with it.

The four episodes are titled:
Agon Appears – Part 1
Agon Appears – Part 2
A Dangerous Situation – Part 1
A Dangerous Situation – Part 2

The Agon monster suit was created by Fuminori Ohashi, a protégé of Eiji Tsuburaya. The suit was modified with sabretooth fangs and resurfaced on the first episode of The Space Giants as Dinosaur, and was then brought back as Aron for episodes 13-16. And that is the end of Agon. More information here.

Agon was released on dvd in Japan, so swim to Japan and pick up a copy. Or order it from the internet. Or if you are in Japan, then just go to the local DVD store and head past the many many many aisles of anime porn until you reach the giant monster rows and it should be there. Somewhere.

Agon (Etsuji Higashi) – Agon is short for “Atomic Dragon” and looks suspiciously like another fire-breathing lizard. Giant Phantom Monster Agon is sort of a jerk, and he smashes up power stations and refuses to kill a little kid that is trapped on the boat that is in his mouth for hours. Why won’t you kill that kid, Agon? Agon then acts like a dog and gets distracted.
Goro Sumoto (Shinji Hirota) – Goro is a star reporter despite being late constantly. This should tell you the quality of journalism in Japan. Goro is the Gilligan of Japanese reporters, for he bumbles around and he wears a white hat a lot.
Detective Yamato (Asao Matsumoto) – Detective Yamato hangs out with his good buddy Goro all the time despite being a hard-boiled detective and Goro being a klutzy simpleton.
Professor Ukyo (Nobuhiko Shima) – Professor Ukyo not only names Agon, but he knows a lot of professor stuff and does work with nuclear power.
Satsuki Shizukawa (Akemi Sawa) – Professor Ukyo’s assistant and love interest to Goro. She owns a dog who likes to sit in the middle of the road and tease drivers. This dog is destined to be a pancake. Is one of those girls who falls down when running from monsters and gets trapped.
Monta (Yoshihiro Kobayashi) – This annoying kid is our stupid Kenny character. Nuke all Kennys from orbit and spit on their graves.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

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Ultra Q – Episodes 5 and 6 (Review)

Ultra Q Episodes 5 and 6

Pegila Has Come! and Grow! Turtle

1966
Episode 5 Pegila Has Come! directed by Samaji Nonagase
Episode 6 Grow! Turtle directed by Harunosuke Nakagawa

Once again we dip into the world of Ultra Q, the Japanese TV series. A precursor to the Ultraman series, Ultra Q features many giant monsters that our plucky heroes have to deal with. Previously we have gone over Episodes 1 and 2, and then Episodes 3 and 4. Now we tackle the next two episodes! In addition to the 28 episodes of Ultra Q, a movie was produced in 1990 titledUltra Q: Star of Legend. A follow up series aired in 2004 entitled Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy as well as a radio drama called Ultra Q club (episode guide here.)

Tsuburaya Productions Co. created the TV series, which started to air in 1966. Before it became Ultra Q, however, it was known as Unbalance. As it became less Twilight Zone and more monsters, the name turned out to be a problem, but luckily a sports move called the Ultra C was gaining popularity, and thus Ultra Q was coined. Several artifacts of the original concept remain, including the very Twilight Zone-ish main title theme, as well as a narrator (but one used less frequently.) Several episodes would be somewhat independent stories that barely featured the main characters, and still other episodes would have ambiguous endings.

Thanks to recent Region 2 DVD release, these shows are now available to a whole new generation. However, they aren’t available to me in their entirety, as there are no English subtitles! But that’s where making up what we don’t understand comes in. Plot synopses and visual clues help us get the gist of the episodes, but the subtle parts we are just winging. That actually makes the show a bit better, as if we found out something was lamer than we though we might not like it as much. We don’t need no stinking subtitles!


Main Characters:

Jun Manjome (Kenji Sahara) – A pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation and an avid science fiction fan/writer, which causes him to investigate monsters and discover most of the beasts on the show. Actor Kenji Sahara had a marvelous kaiju career dating from the original Gojira all the way to Godzilla Final Wars.
Yuriko Edogawa (Hiroko Sakurai) – Female Newspaper Photographer for the Daily News who takes photos of all the horrible monsters that Jun managed to encounter. Hiroko Sakurai went on to star in the sequel series, Ultraman, as Akiko Fuji, as well as many other Ultraman series as various characters.
Ippei Togawa (Yasuhiko Saijo) – Assistant pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation with Jun, and the show’s comic relief. According to the Internet, actor Yasuhiko Saijo used to own a coffee shop in Kagurazaka. He had roles in Gorath, in Son of Godzilla as Suzuki, and in Godzilla vs. Gigan as a henchman.
Daily News Editor Seki (Yoshifumi Tajima) – Yuriko’s boss, sends her on the assignments to photograph monsters, but is not adverse to getting the scoop on his own. Not in either of these episodes.
Dr Ichinotani (Ureo Egawa) – After not being in the first two episodes, Dr. Ichinotani makes his first appearances here. Originally he was to serve as the Rod Sterling-type narrator, but when the show was refocused to be less Twilight Zone he became the wizened Professor who helps the heroes deal with the random rampaging monsters. Looks like a Japanese Wilford Brimley. Not in either of these episodes.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 20, 2007 at 4:43 am

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Ultra Q – Episodes 1 and 2 (Review)

Ultra Q Episodes 1 and 2

Defeat Gomess! and Goro and Goro

1966

Both episodes directed by Hajime Tsuburaya

We have special treats for the last two segments of March of Godzilla 2. Unfortunately our attempt to get more editions of Super Scary Saturday fell through, but instead we have some things almost as good. First up, many of you are aware that Godzilla appeared in a few guest shots on TV shows, most notably Zone Fighter. In addition, the old Godzilla costumes were used in several Japanese series to become generic monsters. In this review, we will be watching the first two episodes of the Japanese TV series Ultra Q, where the monsters are modified costumes of Godzilla and King Kong.

Tsuburaya Productions Co. created the TV series, which started to air in 1966. As they also did the costumes for Toho’s movie productions, they had the monster suits lying around, and Godzilla effects master Eiji Tsuburaya was in charge of making new monsters for the TV show (after the series was decided to be more monsters and less Twilight Zone.) Several of the old Toho suits made appearances. In addition to Godzilla appearing in Episode 1 (as Gomess) and King Kong appearing in Episode 2 (as Goro), we had Manda in Episode 6 (as a dragon), Baragon in Episode 18 (as Pagos), the giant octopus in Episode 23 (as Sudar), and Magma the giant walrus from Gorath in Episode 27 (as Todola). Ultra Q was popular enough that it eventually spawned into the Ultraman series, and many of the monsters that originally appeared in this show turned up to fight Ultraman. I never saw any of these as a child, so this is all new territory. In addition, the DVDs are not subtitled in English! But that has never stopped us before! We may pepper more reviews of episodes throughout the year, as short episodes are easy to write if graduate school suddenly becomes much harder (which it will soon!)


Main Characters:

Jun Manjome (Kenji Sahara) – A pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation and an avid science fiction fan/writer, which causes him to investigate monsters and discover most of the beasts on the show. Actor Kenji Sahara had a marvelous career dating from the original Gojira all the way to Godzilla Final Wars.
Yuriko Edogawa (Hiroko Sakurai) – Female Newspaper Photographer who takes photos of all the horrible monsters that Jun managed to encounter. Went on to star in the sequel series, Ultraman, as Akiko Fuji, as well as many other Ultraman series as various characters.
Ippei Togawa (Yasuhiko Saijo) – Assistant pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation with Jun, and the show’s comic relief. According to the Internet, actor Yasuhiko Saijo used to own a coffee shop in Kagurazaka. He had roles in Gorath, Son of Godzilla as Suzuki, and Godzilla vs. Gigan as a henchman.
Daily News Editor Seki (Yoshifumi Tajima) – Yuriko’s boss, sends her on the assignments to photograph monsters, but is not adverse to getting the scoop on his own.

The main cast list is done, so we jump into the episodes!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 16, 2007 at 3:35 am

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Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (Review)

Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

aka Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tokyo S.O.S.

2003

Starring
Noboru Kaneko as Yoshito Chujo
Miho Yoshioka as Pilot Azusa Kisaragi
Mitsuki Koga as Mechagodzilla Pilot Kyosuke Akiba
Hiroshi Koizumi as Dr. Shinichi Chujo
Akira Nakao as Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi
Koichi Ueda as General Dobashi
Koh Takasugi as Colonel Togashi
Masami Nagasawa as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Chihiro Otsuka as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka

March of Godzilla 2 soldiers on with the sequel to Godzilla X Mechagodzilla, Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.! This time, Mothra has been thrown into the mix, main characters have been ceremoniously and unceremoniously dumped, while suddenly the movie goes all sanctity of life on us. It comes out of left field, but before we know it we’re getting pelted from every direction. If we can ignore the message, underneath it all we have a pretty entertaining Godzilla film, much better than its predecessor. In addition to Mothra making a reappearance, we also get a reappearance from Hiroshi Koizumi! He reprises his role of Dr. Shinichi Chujo that he did in the original Mothra back in 1961. Having met Mr. Koizumi about two years ago, I remember he said he was happy that he could reprise an older role, and was proud of his appearances in Godzilla films. The best part is this follows the continuity of this film series, for in this reality Godzilla never attacked Japan again after 1954 until he reappeared in 1998. However, monsters such as Mothra and the Gargantuas plagued Japan, so they created Special Forces to deal with them. Thus the Mothra movie happened, and so did Dr. Shinichi Chujo. Hiroshi Koizumi has been seen here numerous times: Godzilla vs. Mothra, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, and Gigantis, the Fire Monster.

This is the second to last Millennium Series Godzilla film, and currently the second to last Godzilla film, period. Rumors abound a low-budget IMAX Godzilla film might happen, but officially Toho has shut down Godzilla for the time being, to renew interest. Until that day, we have to make due with what already exists, a huge library of films, and many TV appearances (some of which we are hard at work tracking down.) Such a horrible predicament!

As stated before, this is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Godzilla X Mechagodzilla, making it the second direct sequel to a Mechagodzilla film (third if you count the fact that the second original Mechagodzilla movie was part of a continuous series of films.) Needless to say, Mechagodzilla must have a good agent who is meticulous with the sequel clause. It always does him good. Mechagodzilla is again built by humans to fight Godzilla in the previous film, and is being repaired after major damage suffered in the fight. He has a few new tricks, and loses an old one due to funding cuts. Funding cuts, the essence of action films! This is also the only Godzilla movie I remember that makes a big deal about rebuilding efforts being stalled, as much of Tokyo where they fought before is still in ruins. The rest of the city is fine, and ripe to be destroyed in the next battle. Who will emerge victorious? Will Godzilla be stopped? Why do the Shobijin dislike Mechagodzilla? Will some dumb girl carry a plant around like a baby? Will the female lead be a depressed ice queen? Will the lame spirituality subplot tank the film? These questions and more can be answered in Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 9, 2007 at 10:07 pm

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Godzilla X Mechagodzilla (Review)

Godzilla X Mechagodzilla

aka Gojira tai Mekagojira

2002

Starring
Yumiko Shaku as Akane Yashiro
Shin Takuma as Tokumitsu Yuhara
Kana Onodera as Sara Yuhara
Koh Takasugi as Colonel Togashi
Yusuke Tomoi as 2nd Lieutenant Hayama
Kumi Mizuno as Prime Minister Machiko Tsuge
Akira Nakao as Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi
Jun’ichi Mizuno as 1st Lieutenant Sekine
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka

Godzilla continues his rampage, as the Millennium series continues its run on TarsTarkas.NET for March of Godzilla 2. This time, history is rewritten again, as we go to another alternate reality where Godzilla again never returned after his death for 45 years. Derivations abound, a new anti-Godzilla force is introduced, and this movie trumps everything by getting a direct sequel. It also gives us a new and improved Mechagodzilla, making the third version of that creature. Like the second version, this Mechagodzilla is built to fight Godzilla by humans, but has some noticeable differences. You see, he’s built on the bones of the original Godzilla, which weren’t vaporized by the oxygen destroyer as previously shown in the original script. I guess they just floated a few feet off camera or something during one of those bubble fade outs (or the convenient excuse: alternate reality.) Anyway, so that makes Mechagodzilla a bio-robot. Now, it is odd that this film got a direct sequel, as the human characters are some of the least interesting in a while. Some of them don’t even appear in the next installment, making you wonder what the heck happened. Well, not that much, since they aren’t that interesting. Drum that up with an unsatisfying conclusion, and you got some sort of messy Godzilla flick that only marginally entertains, at least until the title monsters actually start fighting. Both before and after, it’s a bumpy ride.

After the success of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Toho was set to just redo popular monsters. As one of the most popular and classic monsters was the robotic double of Godzilla, here he is. And so we got the third movie entitled Gojira tai Mekagojira. But it’s cool, as instead they renamed it Godzilla X Mechagodzilla for the US. You see, the X makes all the difference. The prior Gojira tai Mekagojira was simply titled Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2, despite the fact it was unrelated to the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Terror of Mechagodzilla is the sequel to the first, making this all confusing. All those facts and titles making your head spin? Well, that’s funny, because the original Mechagodzilla spun his head as a weapon and….

Okay, enough of that, let’s focus on THIS movie. Problems or not, it is what is playing in the DVD player. So we are stuck with it. We seem to get that a lot here. Maybe I should fix the DVD player, so it stops playing stupid movies….Nah, then how would I update the site? In addition to the Japanese version, we also got the English dub, which makes some of the characters sound over-dramatic, and still uses the Kiryu name. The clips will be from that version, so you don’t have to read subtitles. But before the movie, we must meet the cast!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 2, 2007 at 1:04 am

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