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Shin Gojira (2016)
Great moments, some nostalgia triggers, but underwhelming
I was pumped to see this movie. I wanted to show Americans how Godzilla was done properly. While this movie had a good soundtrack (complete with nods to the originals) and overall good plot line, it fell short in a number of ways.
The dialogue is rushed out by a mixed performance from a huge cast. A few performances were down right laughable. The writing is bogged down in political parlance rushed out a breakneck speed, making it unintelligible at points for anyone who is not a politiphile, and some of the cgi (including baby godzilla and some trains) were poor to say the least.
However, this movie is not a complete dud. It reminded me of Batman vs Superman in some ways. A movie resting on its name recognition, bolstered by some great moments, but overall hurt by its script and direction.
Fans of the the original Godzilla movies will find things to love in this movie, but it does not live up to the hype. Overall, this gets a mediocre rating from me.
An uninspired movie
Having just watched this movie, I can see that it fails on a number of grounds. First criminal versus the police department idea. There are so many movies that have the local police department square off against a serial killer and most of them are better than this. Not only does his mission barely get started, but he kills people we don't know or care about. I never felt any tension in the scenes here and it was just boring.
Which brings me to one problem with this movie: the "bad guy." This movies requires a criminal who is exceptionally smart or talented with strategy. "Mechanic" was better, because it always seemed like he was 3 steps ahead of the police. Here a random guy who got brutalized by Brant played by Jason Stathom (can I call him the protagonist...because if not him then who?) and so tries to kill a bunch of police officers for revenge. It never felt the cat and mouse story because the protagonist and antagonist were not clever enough nor was the antagonist that interesting. I will say, though, that I truly sympathized with what happened to him as a result of Stathom's actions, and I hoped that this would lead to some character arc for the protagonist, which would at least give some growth to the one-dimensional characters. The final scene was uninspired and the director forgot one thing, WE NEED THE PROTAGONIST TO HAVE A CHANCE OF LOSING. The final fight is just Brant beating up and executing the bad guy. Even the final moments of the killer following Brant lacked all sense of tension or emotion. I was just waiting for this movie to end.
Which brings me to the biggest problem - Brant. What a jerk! Of course the protagonist of a movie doesn't have to be a goodie goodie, but if they do have a darker side, it needs to be fleshed out, and explained so the audience can relate. I love Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, and others where the protagonist does terrible things, but we can still root for them. At what point are we supposed to identify with this guy? And if we cannot identify with him, how can we sympathize with him and thus care about him? If we don't like him in the slightest then we don't care who wins at the end. Hell, even Training Day had us care about Denzel Washington, and he wasn't even the protagonist! So unless you are a person who loves police brutality, you will just cringe during the "action scenes" and be thinking "why the HELL hasn't he been arrested himself, or at the very least been fired???" Seriously we hear a little bit about him needing to 'take it easy' at the beginning of the film, and then that's about it. Not only does this movie have no character progression, but at the end, the guy is the same jerk he always was. He doesn't show regret, growth or change.
As for his bromance with the Nash, it just seemed contrived. Never did I feel like they should be friends. Brant lobs insults at this guy, and the guy laughs it off. WAIT. He told us that all the jibes he got from his co-workers caused him to burn-out and now he becomes friends with a guy who is continuing it? How does that make sense? Seriously, why would that guy have anything to do with Brant. Yeah well Brant says "I respect you" a few times, I guess to make him seem more 2-dimensional (I meant that in a positive way). But we never know WHY he "respects" him. In the end, the film doesn't spend enough time on their friendship for it to seem real. You want to see a better example of two men hating each other and then slowly respecting each other - I recommend "As good as it gets" or even "Lethal Weapon."
The supporting cast was okay. I'm sure Falls' story thread was to have Brant show her compassion and seem more well-rounded. But after that scene he is telling the bad guy he doesn't regret what he has done to him nor care. I didn't care about the gang kid because I didn't know who he was except for some racist brat that beat up (and perhaps killed) some guy and didn't want to face the consequences. And as for Falls, her motivations were unclear too. The police chief was a cardboard cutout. I guess the most human character was Nash (the gay guy), but only because of the few moments of humanity and exposition we got from him. Anyways, he was barely in this movie and Nash giving Brant the gun at the end seemed ridiculous. So now he is an accessory to murder?
What messages do we get from this film? Homophobia is okay, in fact it makes you manly. The fact that Stathom keeps bringing it up that Nash is gay, makes me wonder if Stathom's character was in the closet himself and is struggling with gay urges and beats the crap out of suspects because he cannot handle those feelings. ...what else? Violence and police brutality are okay. Real police don't need search warrants, they can steal, assault whomever they like, brutalize suspects, etc. Also, if the justice system doesn't work because it cares too much about the rights of the citizenry, then kill the suspect yourself. I was waiting for Brant to either grow up, regret his actions, seem like a real person or face the consequences of his actions. But sadly none of that came.
In the end, I wasn't looking for Shakespeare here, but the film misses a few important points. a) Give the audience something to like about the protagonist so we root for him to win and we care about him and b) make the antagonist clever enough to almost bring the police to their knees.
Standing Firm (2010)
The acting and production are much better than what I thought they would be; however, the story was pretty bad. The Dad's conversion comes very quickly. His co-workers desire to go to church came out of nowhere. At no time is there respect for other people's religions or lack of religion. As an Atheist I was not moved nor was my thinking changed by watching this. The only arguments here were assertions, assertions that god is real, that he loves us, etc. Doing the job for free seemed really ridiculous. If customers can't pay for work, they don't get the service...I didn't see anything wrong with what the guy did. Doing the job for free seemed like a big mistake. In the end I felt Christians came off as belligerent and not understanding of anything they don't understand. Prayer and social pressure are the only tools they use. I gave this the score I did because it fails on convincing non-believers to believe. The story was a little silly, and I didn't like the certitude that these Christians live their lives.
I wanted to enjoy it
I went into theatres really wanting to like this movie. Looking around the scarcely-populated theatre, I had to wonder if it was empty for a reason. It's been such a while since a good vampire movie came out, that perhaps I went in with too high of hopes.
The movie started interestingly enough with the appropriate amounts of tits and Hollywood gore necessary for a vampire movie. But something was lost between an uninteresting script and even worse acting. The storyline sort of felt like Crow meets (insert any Hollywood monster movie here). The main problem, that I saw, was a severe lack of sympathy/identification with any of the characters. Not to mention that Lucy was just as bad as the people she was out to kill! Between the story desperately trying to convey that Lucy Liu is hot at every opportunity (it must've been mentioned about 5+ times) and every line being delivered unconvincingly...me and my friends were, I noticed, the only ones left in the theatre by the time that the movie ended.
I gave it a 2/10 because it DID have enough naked women (including Lucy Liu) and blood effects to fill the quota of a monster movie but everything else was lacking. Bottom line, I was hoping for Interview with a Vampire and I got Bloodrayne. And I wouldn't even recommend this movie to even the most forgiving of monster-movie goers.
War of the Worlds (2005)
I had such high expectations for this film, that I guess I should of expected to be disappointed. First off, Tom Cruise and his family really have no back story, and the audience doesn't understand why those spoiled brats who live in a gigantic mansion are so angry all the time. Oh cry me a river that they have to stay with daddy and share the same bedroom...My God! How tragic! I'm not a violent person, but there were times I just wanted to give Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin a good back hand. Sure he might not be the greatest dad in the world, but at least he's trying and doesn't need two snot-nosed children second guessing him at every turn. Can someone explain to me how Justin, survived the gigantic explosion considering how many alien tripods were on the other side...and beat them to Boston? Spare me, it is just industry standard...kids and pets cannot be killed in movies. Why not? A little more realism would be nice. ...Is it just me, or is it not possible to care about these Hollywood movie character's anymore? I mean I didn't give two hoots if Justin Chatwin died or not...Or if Tom Cruise was going to make it...
Lastly, about the ending, I don't think that it was a shortcoming that the aliens all-of-a-sudden die, I believe HG Wells couldn't figure out a way to kill them off and came up with the ham-handed bacteria approach. I mean these aliens are in their tripods...who knows what type of air they breathe, their capsules/tripods would most likely be air tight. I've read the book, watched the original and now the remake, and the endings always suffer.
Land of the Dead (2005)
Caution: I rant a little right here... It's not the worst zombie movie I've seen but it's close. I don't understand why everyone gives the director for the re-make of 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'Resident Evil' such a hard time...at least they had some parts that make you jump. It's not about just seeing the flesh being torn, it's about making a horror-thriller movie which is scary.
First off, the whole concept of the Zombie's talking to each other and learning how to use guns was pretty lame and unnecessary. Some scenes felt like a rip-off from the beginning of 2001:A Space Odyssey! There was one zombie which was featured over and over as, I guess, the leader zombie, the smartest one...I wonder though, if he is so smart,why was his job, in life, pumping gas ? At the end the idealist, Simon Baker, doesn't want the zombie-dude to be killed, saying "there just looking for a place to go, like us"...all I can say is "wow" Here is the head zombie, responsible for 100s if not thousands of human deaths...and we're talking about cultural diversity?
Most scenes I found to be absolutely predictable, such as the hooker, Asia Argento, (who happens to be fully trained in weapons/ marksmanship)is introduced having to fight two zombies in a sort of 'cock fight' gambling establishment and you could immediately tell that Simon Baker is gonna free her and they will fall in love, get married, yada yada yada. You, the audience, yearn for some sort of relationship sub-plot here but it goes nowhere. The acting is...okay. I mean what classifies for 'okay acting' nowadays in Hollywood is laughable. You wanna see good acting, watch Trailer Park Boys, there are people there with no previous acting lessons, or work as actors before, and they could take Dennis Hopper and Simon Baker to school.
Look by no means was I going into the theater expecting Shakespeare, but I was downright bored. I've seen every one of George A. Romero's films and, in my opinion, he's overrated. In fact, the only saving grace in this film is John Leguizamo and even he kinda sucked in this one.
I know you, the reader of this, might not like what I'm saying, but it's all true.