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One of my favorite cartoons on TV!
I've already been aware of the bestselling GROSSOLOGY kids' fun-fact books by Sylvia Branzei (which became a CD-ROM game and children's' museum exhibit), and my first experience with it was back in 1997 or 1998, when Mom left a fake plastic vomit on my computer desk one morning (the GROSSOLOGY CD-ROM came with this, since she worked at Computer City at the time), and my grandma thought it was funny! But I never imagined that a decade later, this simple little book would later become Canada's answer to THE INCREDIBLES and KIM POSSIBLE!
In early June of this year, I was having a conversation on the phone with my older brother in Pennsylvania, who informed me of this series. I thought he was talking about the books or game, but he told me it was a Canadian cartoon series similar to THE INCREDIBLES (which I'm a big fan of), and was animated in Flash (it was actually done with Toon Boom Digital Pro, as I soon found out, and was done by the same team as another cool Canadian cartoon show, 6TEEN). He saw it on Discovery Kids (where it's airing here in the US; It airs on YTV in Canada) and he thought I would love it! I just had to check this out, so I sampled the episode "Fartzilla" (about a fart epidemic and a fart-powered robot dinosaur), and I was hooked! Not just by the wild action and the sick & twisted content, but the visual style and animation! I already love the colorful retro-style, and Faruk Cemalovic's character designs are excellent, on par with Stephen Silver's work. Abby Archer, the show's heroine, is my favorite character! (And one of my favorite cartoon girls!) Just plain pretty, and full of charm and appeal. Plus, Abby has flaws, unlike the politically correct cartoon heroines these days. The other characters, including Ty (Abby's brother), Lab Rat and the Director are superb, as are the villains (Lance Boil, the "Mojo Jojo" of this series, is my favorite)!
If you can get past the "gross" theme aimed at kids, adults, even cartoon buffs, will love the dynamic visual style. But for me, GROSSOLOGY is my favorite new cartoon series, right up there with THE POWERPUFF GIRLS and THE VENTURE BROS.! I highly recommend it!
Urutora sebun (1967)
The crowning achievement of the Ultra Series!
If I was asked who my favorite superhero was, along with Spider-Man, the Hulk and the Incredibles, it'd be Ultra Seven.
We know ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN (both 1966) are tokusatsu sci-fi TV classics in Japan, but the very peak of Tsuburaya Productions' famed Ultra Series was reached with ULTRA SEVEN, which Japanese fans have, to this day, hailed as the all-time best Ultra Series, and for good reason! It is basically the JAPAN of Japan (long before shows like SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO/STAR BLAZERS). Even underneath the wild battles between the red & silver alien from M78 and his alien foes, this is a very serious and thought-provoking sci-fi drama. Especially in the human scenes, with our protagonists, the Ultra Garrison. This is a very different series from its aforementioned two predecessors. Later Ultra Series like ULTRAMAN TIGA and the more grown-up ULTRAMAN NEXUS would duplicate this formula.
Seven himself is different from Ultraman (who is a mysterious godlike being), as he's become the greatest archetype for the high-tech Japanese superhero. His powers/weapons are incredible (who *doesn't* love his flying boomerang-like Eyeslugger weapon?)! But underneath his cool exterior, he has even more heart, personality and depth than his famous predecessor. And the transformation from Dan Moroboshi (Kouji Moritsugu) to Ultra Seven, each time he puts on the "Ultra Eye" glasses, is without a doubt my favorite Japanese superhero transformation ever. I would also say that Ultra Seven is technically more like Japan's answer to Superman than Ultraman (who is more like the Green Lantern), only "Clark Kent" *puts on* his glasses to become Superman!
The Ultra Garrison's not half-bad either. Very different from the Science Patrol from Ultraman. The team uniforms (helmets, jumpsuits and rayguns) are memorable, so much that they have become pretty much the template for the defense forces in all future Ultra Series (and few of the series would copy them closely, like the 1979 anime series THE ULTRAMAN). And the mecha is awesome. I really love the Ultra Hawk, which splits into three different jet vehicles (ULTRAMAN DYNA had something like this, too)! Of course, just like in ULTRAMAN, the team members have similar personalities, but Dan Moroboshi (Seven's human alter-ego) is a different person from ULTRAMAN's Hayata. He's still a tough member, but he's also very considerate. And even in human form, he's well equipped to fight alien invaders, from having X-ray vision/telepathy to being equipped with miniature "Capsule Monsters" (Windom, Miclas and Agira), which are like tiny capsules that, when thrown like a grenade, explode and transform into giant monsters (and Dan can call it back into a capsule any time). I wonder which two anime series did *this* later on . . .
The music score and theme song, composed by the great Tooru Fuyuki (who would compose for many future Ultra Series and other Tsuburaya shows) are absolute classic, and one of the best soundtracks ever. Quite a different case from Kunio Miyauchi's jazzy score for ULTRAMAN, Fuyuki's orchestral score for this series evokes more power, ranging from neo-classical to avant-garde. The "Song of Ultra Seven" theme song is one of the best superhero theme songs ever. In a way, this score recalls Barry Gray's famous music for many of Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's "Supermarionation" shows (like THUNDERBIRDS and CAPTAIN SCARLET).
And, of course, there's the bizarre and imaginative alien & space monster threats! Some of my favorites include Eleking (a fan-favorite), Dankan, the Guts-Seijin and Seven's final foe, Pandon.
Sadly, this was also the final Ultra Series by creator Eiji Tsuburaya, who originally wanted this to be the final Ultra Series. (And the heart-rending farewell finale couldn't have emphasized it more!) Due to this series' unbelievable popularity, a new Ultra Series was planned in late 1969 (ULTRAMAN CONTINUES), but Eiji died (in 1970) before production began. The said project later became RETURN OF ULTRAMAN in 1971, when Eiji's first son Hajime Tsuburaya took over the studio (until his untimely death in 1973). But needless to say, Seven himself (and his alter-ego Dan) continues to make appearances in future Ultra Series, and due to fan response, got some TV specials and direct-to-DVD series.
This series was originally seen in the US in Hawaii in 1975 (the dub of which is now lost, but two episodes still remain), and on TNT in 1994 (from a somewhat comically-dubbed 1985 dub by Cinar in Canada), but ULTRA SEVEN is a series that truly deserves the same revisiting as ULTRAMAN in the US. If fans of Japanese pop-culture know what's good for them, they must watch ULTRA SEVEN! Disregarding it is like sci-fi fans disregarding, say, STAR TREK or DOCTOR WHO.
No more words need to be said, ULTRA SEVEN is a true Japanese sci-fi classic. But to quote LeVar Burton, "You don't have to take my word for it."
Rudolph without the excess baggage.
Before people get the wrong idea, I absolutely love the 1964 Rankin-Bass special (I happen to be a Rankin-Bass fan, too; MAD MONSTER PARTY is my other favorite), but if one should be virtually faithful to the the source material by Robert May and Johnny Marks, then look no further than this animated short by Max Fleischer! You can't get any better than the Fleischer brothers (Max or Dave), so this classic short should never be forgotten. The animation is just as good as their famous Superman shorts. The story is much simpler, without any excess supporting characters to steal the show. Rudolph and Santa Claus share the full spotlight, and I couldn't have it any other way. It's a bit unfair to compare the two versions, I know. But if you think about it, this is just about as faithful to the source material as you could get. Plus, Rudolph looks adorable, as he should.
As for the plot, well, sing that famous song and you have it all in a nutshell!
While it won't be officially available as of this writing, your best bet is to look for some cheap Christmas-themed public domain DVDs which should include this short. I recommend it! It should make a great companion to the 1964 special, especially for historical reasons.
Entertaining feature compilation of the classic tokusatsu show!
Most comments here seem to be confusing this movie with the TV series it was based on. This IMDb entry is for the 1967 compilation movie, which I'll review right now . . .
CHOUHEN KAIJUU EIGA: URUTORAMAN (TOP COMPILATION MONSTER MOVIE: ULTRAMAN) is a feature-length compilation of the 1966 Tsuburaya Productions TV series, ULTRAMAN: SPECIAL EFFECTS FANTASY SERIES (URUTORAMAN: KUUSOU TOKUSATSU SHIRIIZU), and is distributed by Toho Company Ltd. (it was paired with their then-latest tokusatsu movie KING KONG ESCAPES). This is one of the few times the Toho logo ever had its own fanfare at the beginning. The movie uses the same exact type of opening credits as its small screen counterpart.
The episodes used for this film are Episode 1 ("Ultra Operation No. 1"), which features Bemular, Episode 8 ("The Lawless Monster Zone") featuring Red King, Chandrah, Maglar and the Sufran plant, and the two-parter Episodes 26 & 27 ("His Monster Majesty") featuring Gomora (and the Sufran plant again). The choice of episodes used for this film is quite good, and makes for a very entertaining film (especially since I really like both Red King and Gomora; I have Bandai's big toys of them!). Fans of Toho's kaijuu eiga (monster movies) will especially love this, as the special effects and action are crazy, colorful and pack lots of punch! Eiji Tsuburaya and his talented crew can truly entertain audiences with ULTRAMAN, no matter what size the screen is.
Unfortunately, the fight scene between Ultraman and Bemular for Episode 1 was notably omitted, probably for time (the Science Patrol destroyed Bemular quite easily, using a new shot of a red explosion over the lake). Also, the ending doesn't have much of a resolution and is somewhat abrupt. These are the weakest parts of an otherwise entertaining and action-packed movie! Highly recommended!
An Ultra-fan's nightmare
Having seen the Thai version of this complex stinker, about the only good thing about THE 6 ULTRA BROTHERS VS. THE MONSTER ARMY (Thai title: HANUMAN AND THE 7 ULTRAMEN) is the FX (directed by veteran Kazuo Sagawa) and monster/superhero action. But overall, as an Ultra-fan, I have to say that this is, by far, the worst, weakest Ultraman film EVER! If people hate GODZILLA VS. MEGALON so much, THE 6 ULTRA BROTHERS VS. THE MONSTER ARMY makes it look like Oscar-winning material.
The Hindu monkey-god Hanuman takes center stage in this film, so I think this film would've made a better solo vehicle for Hanuman. Otherwise the Ultra Brothers themselves (Ultraman, Zoffy, Ultra Seven, New Ultraman/Jack, Ultraman Ace and Ultraman Tarou) are just glorified henchmen for Hanuman, and they don't get as much screen time until the climactic 30 minutes. Also, the Ultra Brothers and monster suits (the monsters were Gomora from ULTRAMAN, Dustpan from MIRRORMAN, and Astromons, Tyranto and Dorobon from ULTRAMAN TAROU) were in pretty funky condition. Also, the story has no coherence and structure whatsoever. Everything is thrown around carelessly, especially music from ULTRAMAN and ULTRA SEVEN, which make up the majority of the film's underscore. (The Japanese version of this film had a new theme song sung by Isao Sasaki and the Columbia Cradle Club; It's one of the other good things about this film.)
Japan's Tsuburaya Productions, the creators of Ultraman, co-produced this film with the now-infamous Chaiyo Productions in Thailand, which not only co-produced another film the same year (JUMBORG ACE & GIANT), but its founder/president Sompote "Sands" Saengduenchai would later try to basically steal the Ultraman copyright from Tsuburaya Productions using a forged document supposedly by Eiji Tsuburaya's late second son Noboru Tsuburaya (who produced this film), resulting in a bitter ongoing court battle since 1996. As of this writing, up to early 2004, Tsuburaya has won all court appeals but one (Chaiyo won merchandising rights outside Japan to the first 6 shows, ULTRA Q through TAROU, and JUMBORG ACE), and contrary to false news reports in the English-language Thai media, Tsuburaya continues to take legal action against Chaiyo.
But if this is how Chaiyo wants to make Ultraman movies and shows, then it will be a nightmare for Ultra-fans. (And if you thought this movie was bad, the promos for their illegal MILLENNIUM ULTRAMAN stage show are even worse!)
Ultra-fans, watch this film at your own risk.
Mekagojira no gyakushu (1975)
A poignant farewell to the old school Godzilla.
It's great to review a movie that's as old as I am (only 6 months *older* than I am). :) TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, the sequel to GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, was released in Japan 30 years ago today. I've had a lot of fond memories about this, the film that closed the original Godzilla film series, when a dark time was looming over Japanese pop culture (the collapse of the Japanese film industry, the Energy Crisis, etc.), and it all went to hell when STAR WARS came along (and don't get me wrong, I still love STAR WARS, at least the first three films).
I have to admit, from a depressing time when Godzilla's popularity declined and the budgets were slipping with each film, the production values were not bad. The return of Ishirou Honda (directing his last Godzilla film) surprisingly brought some serious power back into the genre. Teruyoshi Nakano's FX still put in a very strong performance, especially the scene where Mechagodzilla and new monster Titanosaurus rampage a very nicely built miniature Tokyo set. Plenty of powerful pyrotechnics abound! And the action was really fast & furious, while still superhero styled like other films in that decade. Yukiko Takayama, this film's screenwriter, was one of the few female Godzilla writers (the other being SON OF GODZILLA co-writer Kazue Shiba), and turned up a very strong story! And Akira Ifukube turns up what I thought was his last best Godzilla score, not counting his excellent GODZILLA FANTASIA concerto! His score for the Heisei Series was good, very powerful, but slow and sometimes repetitious (and I worried for him, considering his old age). The cast turns in a serviceable performance, and the monster action is great! And I wish I could say more, but IMDb wouldn't give me any more room on this review for commentary on this film's many aspects! :)
This film, sadly, was a failure at the Japanese box-office, and also the Godzilla film with the lowest attendance figures in history. After this film's release, there have been many rumors and proposed projects that had collapsed, even Toho's attempted US co-productions (including GODZILLA LIVES AGAIN or THE RESURRECTION OF GODZILLA, GODZILLA VS. THE DEVIL, GODZILLA VS. THE GARGANTUA, etc. etc.) before Toho finally brought Godzilla back 9 years later (after very successful film festivals), with mixed results. TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA was destined to be Godzilla's poignant swan song until then.
What's even more poignant is the treatment this film got in America. Toho's international English print is the root here: Initially brought to the US for a very limited theatrical release by Bob Conn in 1978 as THE TERROR OF GODZILLA, it was very badly cut and edited to the point where some scenes don't even make sense! An infinitely superior version, United Pictures of America (UPA)'s 1979 TV version, Terror of Mechagodzilla premiered, and not only was it completely uncut (except for the aforementioned "breast" scene), but as a treat, a cool 6 minute prologue with narration was added! The prologue consisted of footage from MONSTER ZERO and GODZILLA'S REVENGE (the only other Godzilla films UPA had the rights to), and interestingly, this prologue made it seem like this was a sequel to MONSTER ZERO (as though the X-Xians were somehow behind the whole Mechagodzilla scheme), and although it really wasn't, I thought it was a really nice touch! I've often seen it on ABC's 4:30 MOVIE in my youth. Unfortunately, this version is now lost. The last time I saw this version was on Easter Weekend of 1986, on NY's WNEW/WNYW Channel 5 (a year before it became a Fox affiliate). Now, America is stuck with the ultra-sucky TERROR OF GODZILLA version. You ain't seen Nothing' until you see the Japanese version (with subs), the uncut international English version, or the old UPA version, which I still remember nostalgically and sentimentally! Stay far away from Bob Conn's castrated version.
I love the new series of films Toho did (from 1999-2004), but for me, TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA is, deep down, the last Godzilla film. As much as I appreciate the original evil Godzilla, this was the last film with the *heroic* Godzilla (which GODZILLA 2000 and GODZILLA FINAL WARS recaptured for me), the Godzilla I grew up with from my childhood. And in more ways than one, this film (like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, Eiji Tsuburaya's last Godzilla film) was the tearful end of an era, reflected in the film's poignant final shot of Godzilla swimming away into the sunlit ocean one last time.
Gojira tai Megaro (1973)
My personal favorite Godzilla film!
Even though the original 1954 GODZILLA is an undeniable masterpiece, this film is my personal favorite Godzilla film! :)
I hold GODZILLA VS. MEGALON with aesthetic and sentimental value, not only because it was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw, but the very first movie Mom and the rest of my family took me to see! I had very hazy memories of being taken into the movie theater with lots of people, and I really enjoyed and cheered at seeing Godzilla and his super-robot pal Jet Jaguar fight with Megalon and Gigan on the screen.
But the ironic thing is that many fans considered this to be the worst Godzilla movie ever. They have a right to consider things that way, and I appreciate that this movie is not held in the highest regard in the Godzilla canon, but that doesn't change my opinion on it.
Many fans bitterly disliked the very idea of Godzilla teaming up with a superhero; In this case, the super-robot Jet Jaguar, who can change size. Jet Jaguar resembles both an Ultraman-style superhero (SPECTREMAN, JUMBORG ACE, etc.) and an anime super-robot from the 70s like MAZINGER Z (which was a huge success at the time), GETTER ROBO and other anime robots that got featured in Mattel's Shogun Warriors toy collection from the 70s (which also featured Godzilla and Rodan)! When I was a kid, I actually thought Jet Jaguar was a Shogun Warrior! Like the Shogun Warriors, Jet Jaguar was a major influence in my life - he got me into Japanese superheroes! He did the same "henshin" poses that many Japanese superheroes of the 70s (started by the famous KAMEN [MASKED] RIDER), and I later saw Shaw Brothers' KAMEN RIDER-influenced Hong Kong superhero spectacular, THE SUPER INFRAMAN (or just INFRA-MAN in the US), and I later became aware of Ultraman, Kamen Rider and many other superheroes later on. So for me, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON was the best of both worlds! I really loved the idea of Godzilla teaming up with a super-robot, and the two handshakes they did in the film are heartwarming, IMHO.
Besides Jet Jaguar, this film features a new Godzilla suit (Haruo Nakajima had just retired after GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, even though he tried on the new suit in behind the scenes films), and it has got to be the cutest Godzilla ever! I mean, just look at that puppy-dog face! It's like a demonic charcoal-gray Snoopy as if designed by Gou Nagai! It's one of my personal favorite suit designs. Megalon was a really cool monster! A flying rhino-beetle with drill arms! He shoots napalm grenades out of his mouth and also shoots electric beams from his horn (and when he does, it sometimes cuts to stock footage of King Ghidorah's Gravity Beams)! Gigan is back, though the costume is different from the one previously used in GODZILLA VS. GIGAN. The blue-green color is darker, and he looks somewhat thinner.
The special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano (who I had the pleasure of meeting at Asian Fantasy Film Expo 2002) are still really cool. The dam sequence with Megalon is praiseworthy! The rest is slam-bang action, on the same notch as any giant superhero show from the same period, even though Jet Jaguar doesn't shoot any beams! But if people hate Nakano's FX and slam them for being cheap, the ironic thing is that the effects took 6 months to complete! Riichirou Manabe's music score is much cheerier and more upbeat than his dark GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH score. His Godzilla theme music (the same as the one in Hedorah) is much tougher and less droopy than last time! The Seatopia music is pretty eerie and avant-garde, almost like Karlheinz Stockhausen music! The rest is groovy 70s music (flutes, guitar, banjo, horns, etc.), but another highlight is the theme song, "With Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, Punch Punch Punch!" ("Gojira to Jetto Jagaa de Panchi Panchi Panchi!"), which was sung by my favorite Japanese singer, Masato Shimon, who not only sang tons of tokusatsu and anime theme songs since the 70s, but also sang some Godzilla tie-in albums! If you liked the song, I recommend the full record version (in stereo)! That one is totally more upbeat and just rocks! It's also one of my favorite Shimon songs!
The cast is quite different and unusual from any Godzilla film made before or since. In this one case, there are no females among the lead characters (unless you count the Seatopian dancers), but they are still likable in that bizarre sort of way (and you can tell that this end of the production was rushed)! Katsuhiko Sasaki (who's new to the series, but his father Minoru Chiaki played pilot Kouji Kobayashi in GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) plays inventor Gorou Ibuki, who invents Jet Jaguar. His kid brother Rokuro (nicknamed "Roku-chan"), for children to identify with, is played by Hiroyuki Kawase (who played Ken Yano in GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH two years earlier) wearing a red Snoopy sweater (yep, there I go with the Snoopy thing again)! Yutaka Hayashi (best known these days as a comical, fast-talking reporter in comedy and variety shows in Japan) plays the Ibuki siblings' hot-rodding friend Hiroshi Jinkawa, who gets into all the car-chases with the bad guys! Then, there's the late veteran Robert Dunham as Antonio, the Emperor of Seatopia, clad in a white toga and a tiara with Megalon's head on the center. Every time I think of Antonio and Seatopia, I keep thinking of Sean Connery's movie ZARDOZ (made the same year)! It must be the neo-Olympic/Greek style that Seatopia has. Rolf Jessup (who has appeared in some Japanese films) appears as his right-hand man radio operator in a white uniform. Koutarou Tomita plays the Seatopian agent dressed in black (and looks a lot like Alan Rickman's Snape character in the Harry Potter movies), backed by Wolf Ootsuki (who played the villain Professor Hassler in the Ishinomori/Toei TV series GIANT IRONMAN 1-7) playing agent dressed in brown. And Kanta Mori (who guest-starred as Professor Nakamura in Episode 10 of ULTRAMAN, which, ironically, guest-starred Godzilla as Jirass!) plays the JSDF General (every Godzilla movie's gotta' have 'em).
As for the plot, here's the breakdown: After underwater nuclear tests in the Pacific shake up many islands (including Monster Island), Emperor Antonio, the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Seatopia retaliates by sending their giant guardian beetle Megalon to destroy the surface world. He also dispatches two agents to steal the new super-robot Jet Jaguar from Professor Gorou Ibuki and his kid brother Rokurou (whom they also capture). They're being rescued by their friend Hiroshi Jinkawa, who goes through action-packed car-chases to rescue them, which he does. Once rescued, Gorou manages to regain control of Jet Jaguar, and sends him to Monster Island to call Godzilla for help. In response to this, Antonio calls for Star Hunter Nebula M to send Gigan to Earth to assist Megalon. Jet Jaguar grows to Godzilla-size and fights with Megalon, but Gigan finally comes and makes things hard for our robot hero. But Godzilla arrives in time to help Jet Jaguar beat Megalon and Gigan in a slam-bang tag-team monster match to save humankind . . .
I don't know about everyone else, but GODZILLA VS. MEGALON deserves more respect than it's getting in the US (In Japan, it's always been released with a beautifully restored widescreen print, regardless of what fans and others think). t has a very special place in my heart! I don't recommend it to the most serious Godzilla fans, but even some Godzilla fans still like it, if not love it. But if you like monsters, superheroes and robots, then I highly recommend GODZILLA VS. MEGALON! Still my favorite Godzilla film!
The first and best of the films.
So this is where it all started!
Of course, as Godzilla is my all-time favorite character, I admit to being raised on the heavily edited US version starring Raymond Burr. But when viewing this film in its original form, it not only looks more like a Golden Age Toho fantasy as we all know it, but it's a very powerful masterpiece, as it stands in the history of world cinema. Here in 2004, 50 years ago today after its release, American audiences finally get to see the film in its entirety, thanks to its long-awaited subtitled theatrical release by Rialto Pictures.
Technically, Japanese monster movies began with the now-lost 1934 period fantasy, KING KONG HAS ARRIVED IN EDO (EDO NI ARAWARETA KINGU KONGU), which was obviously produced upon the success of the 1933 American classic, KING KONG. But it was GODZILLA (or GOJIRA as the Japanese call him) that truly made it over. Clearly inspired by the success of the 1953 hit, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (released to Japan by Daiei early the same year), with a bit of KONG thrown in, Toho set out to make their own monster movie, not knowing that they would create a phenomenon that would last to this day!
What more can I say? This movie pretty much set the standard for Japanese monster movies as we all know! Watching the Japanese version is an amazing experience, and a hauntingly epic one!
The special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, as low-tech as they were, had minor flaws (notably visible wires and missiles shooting against a background), but even for a first try in the monster genre, they still looked spectacular, as is the photography! Even though the effects work improved in future films, this is still the landmark of things to come.
The music by Akira Ifukube is memorable. From his stirring main title music, to Godzilla's destructive, ponderous theme music, to the poignant ending. Again, Ifukube's work for this film sets the standard for his work in the fantasy film genre.
The main cast is top-notch, as you'd expect. Akira Takarada (20 at the time) stars as salvage officer Hideto Ogata, the main character. Veteran actor Takashi Shimura plays Dr. Kyouhei Yamane, the eccentric paleontologist, who serves as the Godzilla-expert. Momoko Kouchi plays Yamane's daughter Emiko, who's in love with Ogata. But the best character by far (and my all-time favorite human character in a Godzilla film) is the tormented, eyepatch-clad scientist Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, played by Akihiko Hirata. When watching the Japanese version, other supporting characters share the spotlight, especially the newspaper reporter Hagiwara (Sachio Sakai), radiologist Tanabe (Fuyuki Murakami), the Ooto Island fisherman Masaji (Ren Yamamoto) and his younger brother Shinkichi (Toyoaki Suzuki). They just come off as mere background characters in the US version, but if you watch the Japanese original, you'll be totally surprised. Their performances were really dazzling, just like you'd expect from actors in a Toho fantasy film. Some of these actors would appear in future Godzilla films, as well as other SPFX fantasies from Toho.
Compared to other incarnations, this film (as well as GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) had the creepiest Godzilla ever, and that was just the way he was supposed to be! Almost like a black silhouette with bright, white staring eyes. Godzilla was not just a mere animal, he was basically a modern god! A raging, destructive demon with the power of the hydrogen bomb that affected him. Although Godzilla is inspired by the Rhedosaurus from BEAST, he was a completely different entity. He was virtually indestructible, and had an awesome power - a white-hot atomic breath! Godzilla became the archetype for many Japanese giant monsters to follow.
But exactly what is Godzilla? As explained in this film (it's explained better in the Japanese version), he's a huge amphibious bipedal dinosaur that lives in caverns under the sea, feeding off of smaller sea animals. He was feared as a "god" on Ooto Island, and many young virgin women were sacrificed to him to appease his hunger. Hydrogen bomb tests affected his habitat, giving him unbelievable radioactive power & strength (and a towering size of 50 meters, 164 feet). And a sleeping giant was awakened . . .
Makes you think more about those nuclear tests, doesn't it?
Lastly, while the Japanese original played out more smoothly, the American version starring Raymond Burr (of PERRY MASON fame) as the visiting American reporter Steve Martin (not to be confused with the famous comedian!) is still very effective. The epic scale of the original still manages to shine through what the US producers could allow, and Burr (who was hired for a whole day for filming the added scenes) still did a serviceable job. American fans of the original version can at least be thankful for this US version, without which America could not accept Godzilla.
As for the movie's story, I'd rather not go into it in detail. If you haven't seen it, please do so! Be it the original Japanese version (which I recommend the most, especially subtitled), or the edited US version!
Here's to 50 years of a classic movie, and a classic character I will love forever!
Surprisingly the darkest FAIRLY ODDPARENTS episode/movie ever!
Since I had to go to Borders on the night this special premiered, I first only saw the first 3-5 minutes of THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS: CHANNEL CHASERS (the second 90-minute TV movie, the first being ABRA-CATASTROPHE), and was forced to leave my VCR taping the rest. Upon my return home, I watched the rest of the film.
[long, amazed pause]
WOW! This is quite possibly the darkest FOP movie/episode ever! It's also incredibly poignant, especially in the conclusion (which, of course, I won't give away, save that it ambiguously had the feel of a "final episode")! But that doesn't stop the usual FOP wackiness, and there's TONS of references to TV shows, especially tokusatsu and anime (look carefully for an SD version of Masked [Kamen] Rider V3 while Timmy flips channels to scroll through the characters on his favorite program)! Look for hilarious parodies of A CHARLIE BROWN CHIRSTMAS, SESAME STREET, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER and SPEED RACER, to name just a few! But this is somewhat different from the average, even the best FOP episode/special!
The plot: 20 years into future, Chester and AJ (now macho grown-ups) are chased through Dimmsdale (now a dystopia) by a ruthless masked ninja spy (volced by Alec Baldwin, who did a good job!), who works for the evil dictator Vicky (yep, Timmy Turner's evil babysitter!). With the two men captured, Vicky sends the spy to the present, using a time-traveling device, to destroy Timmy Turner. But things take a turn for the worst when a popular new anime program called MAHOMUSHI (Japanese for "magic bugs"; Should be "Mahoumushi") influences kids to behave violently (a parody of the infamous POKEMON "epileptic seizure" incident in Japan), especially Timmy, whose reenacting the program with his fairy godparents Cosmo and Wanda destroy his parents' jobs! They ground him, and leave him with Vicky (as usual), but this is where things really start to go bottom-of-the-barrel for poor Timmy! When he wishes for a TV set in his room, Vicky finds out about this and frames Timmy by destroying much of the house. To get away from his troubles, Timmy wishes for a magic remote control, and he, Cosmo and Wanda have fun actually traveling through the TV universe, living his favorite TV shows! Meanwhile, the spy from the future spies on Timmy as the return of his enraged parents (thanks to Vicky) forces him to return to the real world for a while, and inadvertently takes with him a super-weapon (from a JONNY QUEST-type show), which Timmy accidentally destroys his roof with! With Timmy in serious trouble, his parents snatch his magic remote control from him, and give it to Vicky, who leaves the room. His parents leave also, not believing Timmy that "Vicky is evil!" Timmy becomes bitterly cynical of his parents and all adults (and possibly even of himself, as he, Cosmo and Wanda reflect on the tragic truth about kids forsaking their fairy godparents when they get older), and when wishing for a new magic remote control, the misanthropic Timmy runs away into the TV universe with his fairy godparents, and the mysterious spy follows suit. But while Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda are surfing through their favorite shows trying to evade the spy (who eventually reveals a shocking secret), Vicky begins to discover the power of the other magic remote control in her custody, and all hell breaks loose! Will Timmy avert this ominous crisis, which could affect even the real world?
Overall, this special is just as good as, perhaps even better than the wonderful ABRA-CATASTROPHE. The subplot with the other regular characters is very intriguing, and the chase through the TV universe is a real laugh-riot, as it should be! But you won't come out feeling the same way you do with FOP when this movie is finished. The surprisingly dark & depressing undertones make this special a real standout! Sort of like the mega-depressing A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN (the ultimate of the four Peanuts movies), except with a happy yet poignant ending. This special is still highly recommendable!
The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour (2004)
2D and 3D switch places in this hilarious pairing of FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and JIMMY NEUTRON!
Since I'm a big fan of both Nickelodeon shows FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and JIMMY NEUTRON, I was anxious to hear that a special was in the works pairing the two show's universes together! Having talked with JN creator John A. Davis (who, like me, is a big Godzilla fan), he told me that I would really love the special, and that it was "really freaky!"
I watched it on the night of its premiere (May 7th), and I thought it really rocked! I consider this to be just as great as the FOP movie, ABRA CATASTROPHE! This was a really wild and entertaining special. FOP and JN were two shows worthy of being connected (and had Cartoon Network allowed it, I would love to see FOP crossed over with another favorite show, THE POWERPUFF GIRLS!).
In this special, the two shows' main characters, Timmy Turner and Jimmy Neutron, switch places and end up in each others' universe, with Timmy rendered in 3D, and Jimmy in 2D! In many other reviews, I hear people complaining about how creepy Timmy looked in 3D, but to be perfectly honest, I thought he looked absolutely adorable! And O/DNA Productions did an excellent job realizing the 2D Timmy into 3D! (Kinda' makes you wonder what would happen if FOP were completely converted into 3D) Jimmy, meanwhile, is rendered into FOP creator Butch Hartman's wild & wacky 2D style! And the result is as funny as you'd expect FOP to be. When Jimmy becomes aware of his proportions in the FOP universe, the staff really pokes fun at 2D in a hilarious way that doesn't take itself too seriously (unless maybe you're a die-hard 2D fan)! But this proves that even with the advent of 3D, 2D certainly isn't going away forever.
Other things I liked were Timmy's romance with Jimmy's friend/rival Cindy Vortex (much to the disgust of Jimmy's best friends Sheen Estabez and Carl Wheezer, and Cindy's friend Libby Fallfax). Those two were meant for each other (although I still like Timmy's other love interests, like Tootie, Veronica and Trixie Tang). And Timmy's friends/enemies actually mistake Jimmy for Timmy (which I'll go more into in the plot summary)! Jimmy's pet robot dog Goddard turns into a giant killer robot that looks like the 1993 version of Mechagodzilla! The story is definitely loaded with references to both shows! Oh, did I mention that Cosmo and Wanda are still as silly as ever?
And now, the plot: Timmy Turner has to compete in the Dimmsdale Science Fair at school, but he never did his own project, and the most likely winner is his pal AJ Ibrahim (who, oddly, is really cruel to Timmy in this special)! Timmy is tired of being a slacker playing video games, so with the help of his wacky Fairy Godparents Cosmo and Wanda, he wishes himself into "the greatest lab in the universe," (while both fairies go to Hawaii) and guess where he ends up! In Retroville! And in 3D, no less! He plays around in the secret lab of Jimmy Neutron, who is at work upgrading his robot dog Goddard with a CD-ROM program he did. He finds Timmy, and the two have an argument, in which Timmy gets distracted, and Jimmy finds his "Poofer Pen," which Cosmo and Wanda gave to Timmy to "poof" him back into his room, which is exactly what Jimmy does, and in *2D* no less! Looking around, Timmy mistakes the upgrading Goddard for a game system, and replaces the upgrade CD with a disc of his favorite game, "Decimator." He then meets Carl and Sheen, who mistake him for a "Small Headed Jimmy," and have fun with Jimmy's inventions (and even hypnotize Jimmy's mother Judy into thinking she's Timmy's Mom's alter-ego, Mighty Mom!). And he runs into Libby and Cindy, the latter falls madly in love with Timmy and vice versa! But at the same time, Goddard turns into a rampaging robot (the Decimator from Timmy's game disc) that increases in size each time it defeats the nearest "player" it finds (including Jimmy's dad Hugh)! Can Timmy, Cindy and the others defeat the Decimator before it destroys Retroville?
And meanwhile, over over at Dimmsdale, the now-2D Jimmy is freaked out over his new surroundings, and Cosmo & Wanda, back from Hawaii, greet him with panic! To their relief, Jimmy mistakes the fairies for "computer programs," and goes through the same everyday pain that poor Timmy experiences (while Timmy is blissfully having the time of his life over at Retroville). All of Timmy's friends & foes (even AJ) mistake Jimmy for Timmy (because of one of Timmy's rare tendencies to evade school by playing other characters), even his crazed, evil teacher Mr. Denzel Crocker (who wants to discover fairies so that he can take over the world, as usual)! But when Jimmy unwittingly shows off Timmy's Poofer Pen in class, the insane Mr. Crocker suspects him, and even plots to invade Fairy World via Timmy's Poofer! Will Mr. Crocker carry out his evil scheme?
And will Timmy and Jimmy make it back to each other's worlds?
I won't spoil it for you! You've got to WATCH the special for the answer (It's readily available on DVD, 3 days after its TV premiere)! And the ending is really cool!
In summary, this special rocks! An hour's worth of fast-paced fun and excitement!