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Big G was the weakest part of this movie
Almost all Kaiju flicks involve two story lines, the story of the little guys and the story of the monsters. This is one of them where the story of the little guys is what really matters. A distinctly B movie, half-espionage and half-island-action, about a guy's search for his brother and getting caught up with a gang of various other guys and a beautiful native to stave off an organization's evil deeds in the South pacific. Pretty scenery. Pretty natives. Some fair jokes and some good 1960's style cheese action. Even Ebirah, a jumbo jumbo shrimp who guards the island, more or less, works well enough as a background piece. It is when the big piece of seafood tries to take center stage that things start slowing down.
By the time Godzilla shows up, the movie suffers from the monsters. Not only does the original Japanese soundtrack have a habit of playing just about the most inappropriate music for all of his scenes (look, jets are coming, let's play surf rock...he's smashing a base, let's play slow horror mood music); but there is the distinct problem the director has in getting the transition from Godzilla as a monster to a potential hero down right. Too often, Godzilla's actions make no sense. He seems to like people in one scene. In the next, he is randomly destroying things again.
The movies final problem is the Kaiju fights sort of repeat themselves. Whether it be the two monsters throwing rocks back and forth more than once, or the exact same "flip" later on, it does seem a little out of place.
Il boia scarlatto (1965)
I recommend it, though I can't say that its good
Whenever a movie starts out "inspired by the works of the Marquis de Sade", you can pretty much bank its going to be a good old crappy time. In the case of this movie, it was one of the worst ones I have seen. The American name I have seen it under is Bloody Pit of Horror...and yet Saturday morning cartoons have more blood than this one.
What it does have is a lot of seemingly unintentional camp. Well, not camp. Some cousin to camp caused by a nearly non-sequitor (at times) plot, horrible personal decisions, improbabilities, and a mixture of tepid acting followed overacting all combined in with a set of characters that you mostly just can't care about. Oh, and mechanical spider thingies. Look out for those.
You probably won't like this movie, unless you like watching movies that you cannot really like. Then you will love it. I laughed heartily through some of it, shook my head though most of it, and came away with the plans to watch it again, just bringing friends along to share in the "torture" (hah, a joke!).
Like a lot of bad horror, the final scenes are often such a blast, that sitting through an hour of crud is made all the more worth it.
The Thirsty Dead (1974)
Not a bad way to spend a boring night, not a good one either
This movie's main flaw seems to be that it takes itself too seriously. Its skirting around camp, taken in consideration with some moments that seem quite earnestly acted and scripted (however poorly it worked out), becomes an unintentional side-effect. This negates 90% of the reason to watch this movie. It is cheaply made on top of this which detracts even further in that rather than go for a more natural look, they tried for some sort of sci-fi exotica kind of thing and ended up with a office dress party.
The plot works fair enough, though it probably would have worked more had they dropped the horror pretenses and moved straight into action/adventure style territory. There is no new ground here.
The acting is not always wooden, and has some okay moments, but is largely inconsistent. Signs of grief or panic are often achieved by a far off look or a hand biting scene.
All in all, the biggest flaw here (besides a low budget, which they could have worked around, I have seen too many good low budget movies) is that they are tapping into a 1950's era schlock flick flavor, and somehow trying to keep it fresh and end up with a poor mix altogether.
Harder to Take than I Expected
No one goes into the old Gamera movies expecting brilliance. In fact, most watch them fairly openly to delve into the schlock, whether as a guilty pleasure or to enjoy mocking it. I am somewhere in the middle of these two. I have a massive high tolerance for "badness", especially when it is done in the spirit of earnest fun, but there was a couple of times where I just wanted to shut this one off.
The first reason was the flashbacks to which many viewers allude. Not only is there a roughly fifteen minute scene composed of much too large chunks of "fight" scenes from earlier movies, but there are at least two "major" scenes that are taken from the first and second movie and then played off as freshly happening. It is so poorly done, that the scenes from the first one are left in black and white, despite the rest of this movie being in color! The second reason was the utter illogic of this one, in places. A genius kid is one thing, if almost always annoying at times, but this one went above and beyond. Not only is the kid allowed to tamper with various things with almost no repercussion, but him and his friend are given far too much freedom in the middle half of the movie. It is almost like this is a kid's happy dream, as opposed to an abduction by a vindictive life force.
And the climatic decision...egads! All in all, I stuck with it, and finally just started laughing out loud at it machinations. The final scene has some really good moments, as well, including some really well staged smashes and jabs. I give it a solid five stars, I enjoyed it once my brain switched over into its mode of handling things.
Goofy but Good
The only review I see for this series right now is one which talks about how they could not possibly fit too much stuff in a 2 hour movie. Since this is a series of one hour episodes, I am not sure what the complaint is. I have not read any but a small portion of a Journey West, so I cannot say how true it is staying, but of what I do know it is actually sort of close.
The acting style is mixed, sometimes being dead on and sometimes being jester-like. I really enjoy it on a cross between an inner-child level and a martial arts level, though I have to admit that it does not satiate more mature watching interests. It is great stress relief though.
Special effects are not that bad, in fact they are comparable to an american sci-fi series. It is not low budget nor high budget, but they manage to do a good job with what they have. The one main exception is everyone but the monkey' kings monkey outfit, which are often just obviously clothes. And you have scenes like in the first one where you can see a camel being lead by an obvious rope. I do not know if they are only trying to invoke an image (much like a stage show in which you are trying to have the setting suggested a lot of the time) or if it is just poor editing.
Story line is great, and the acting it out is good if a little goofy. American audiences might dislike the way it jumps from scene to scene, but those used to asian cinema and tv should be used to a slightly different respect for time.
Watch the first 10 minutes of the first two episodes. They show a wide variety of the physical and visual humor and the drama involved. The scenes overall work. They are funny when they mean to be and introspective when they mean to be. I recommend.
Moby Dick (1998)
A little shallow compared to the source material
There has been some debate as to what precisely Melville meant by the story of Moby Dick. On one hand, it is a whaling story which is largely based on shipping legend and fact. On another level, there is a lot of reference to Moby Dick the whale being self-referential to the book itself (white beast with black blood, he describes the whale as being a large book at one point). Ultimately, though, most readers find a two pronged story which is search for God on one hand (Ahab's need for revenge and Ishmael's need for purpose and love, note that both names also refer to biblical characters) and is the passionate bonding between males on the other. Unfortuneately, it is in these two areas that the movie does not quite portray the book with due respect.
Now, there is plenty of bonding and Ishmael does sort of get jostled around as per normal, but Melville did not want this to be the standard group of "older men ragging the new". These men, in the book, developed a passionate bond for one another. Ishmael's deep loneliness lead to his deep love for his fellow crew.
As for the search for God, the movie has some of the key scenes to suggest Ahab wants to slay the greatest of God's creatures because he feels his life has been failed and to suggest needed to get away because his life had no meaning. Yet, for the most part, the scenes become much more "sea adventure" oriented and I am not sure that there is much hey could have done to fix it considering the media of choice. I think they could have at least given Father Mapple more passion in his scene and the painting at the beginning (which suggests both the three crosses of Christ and a whale killed by a the three masts of a ship at the same) which offers a great thematic moment could have done more besides show up briefly as it did. It is almost as though they expected one to have read the book and to know what they were talking about.
Finally, as far as the movie's lacks go, they cut out most of the (usually tongue-in-cheek) humor of the book.
Now, as a made for TV movie, it is good stuff. Some of the acting is pretty sketchy at times and there are a few places where the special effects flat out fail in their purpose, but overall the movie is worth watching. Stewart plays a different version of Ahab than what I pictured, but at the same time his version has a lot of life and passion which is good. The other acting had moments of perfect time and moments of almost the opposite, but no scene comes directly to mind where the movie "cracks".
The pacing of the movie actually sort of improves upon the stop-go style of the book.
I think some of the visuals were a little less gory than they should be (this is a violent tale with a good deal of blood and despair in the original) but most of the cues are there for those who have read the book.
Because of such things as this, I almost feel as though one needs to read the book to fill in the gaps, or the story does not get the treatment it deserves. But, as long you know more of the depth of the story, the movie is a decent vessel for which to carry it in. 7/10
The Ring (2002)
Beats out most recent Horror Movies
There are movies scarier than this one. Some of the scenes kind of fall out of place. But, overall, this was a very enjoyable bit to watch. Moody and well-photographed, this is as much mystery as horror. I watched it in a cinema full of jerk highschoolers that would not shut up and I STILL came away thinking about the movie.
The mix of music with strange imagery tied on top of the urgency of it all will cause you to be a little antsy throughout. One review called it panicked (and complained about the feeling) but I think this is something they are shooting for.
For me, it was ultimately the image of the "ring" itself and the music that got me...that is the part that I am thinking the most about, afterwards.
Rather than get into details, which I am sure that someone will do better than I...I just want to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable movie experiences I have ever had the pleasure to see and the best sci-fi movie in years! Whether you consider this the "redemption" of Lucas is a personal choice, but I am looking forward to Episode 3.
The Day the World Ended (2001)
An interesting play on the child mind
This is one of those horror movies in a similar vain as some of Stephen King's books; in which the focus of the movie is as much supernatural terror as childhood trauma. This movie centers around an "exceptional" boy and the thing he witnessed 5 years ago. A new therapist for the school district shows up and immediately becomes drawn to the kid. Over the next hour and some minutes, she learns what it is that happened and must aid the boy as events unfold.
This movie has a lot of standard horror cliches: the shadowy creature, the town secret, the pained kid, the outsider, the small town freakiness. It plays them all well, but seems for the most part to fall back upon them instead of come up with anything significant. The movie is not one that will make jump out of your seat, but you will stay interested throughout the most of it.
I give it 8 out of 10, the only problem I have with the movie is the ending...a little bit too "clip-art from the big book of horror movie endings" for my taste....but at least it wraps up one or two things.
Macross Plus (1994)
Just Flipping Beautiful
For fans and dissenters of the Macross world (aka Robotech), do not be too hasty when it comes to this film (or the 4 part series that later became the film). Plus uses standard Macross elements (Valkyries, SDF-1 (Macross) and the Zentradi amongst others) but here is where the movie blossoms. Amongst this backdrop a story that is part Love Triangle, part Revenge and part Cyber-Ascension and wholy beautiful is woven. The themes it forces upon you are more than one can get out of the standard Toonami style Anime. They leave you with that same conflicting sense of questioning and confirmation that you might get from a well crafted book or play.
The characters are fleshed out and believable, and even enjoyable. In the span of two hours you are confronted with a better cross-section of life than some series can hope to achieve. Normally, you must read a book to get this deep. I do not quite understand all of the motivation (especially the bit that becomes most central right before and during the last fight) but that is cause to watch and enjoy again, not complaint.
The description of this movie as beautiful continues to the technical aspects. The anime-listic realism is plausible. The scenery is quite nice. The "computer animation" is used properly. In general, the character designs and similar effects are good enough that you don't have to even worry about them (if that makes sense). This movie also contains my favorite scenes of Valkyrie flying that I know of all the series and movies. Though some of the songs seem a little loud or even annoying, the major songs are excellent.
And then there was the ending, a great ending indeed. The climax-ending left me nearly panicked at time, and is the sort of thing that I brag to friends about seeing.
A beautiful movie that excels its macross brethren and deserves to be watched, even if you have no idea what Macross might even mean.