Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Godzilla Minus One

That was wicked man.

I'm kinda friggin' stunned, I mean what a time to be a Godzilla fan! We are two for two on japanese produced Godzilla films being released here in the States. Can you even believe it was 7 years ago when Shin Gojira came out? That is a luxury any veteran Godzilla fan in the US never had, and I really want to say thank you Toho for tapping the american market, because kaiju and tokusatsu films are niche even in Japan and are a hell of a lot more so here. If it's not transparently apparent I loved this film and there is a great deal I want to talk about and now it's a more of a task to remember everything I want to say rather than be in fear of spoilers. We set the wayback machine even before 1954, in the wake of the end of the second world war where we meet an air pilot named Koichi who when taking repairs on Odo island comes face to face with a dinosaur turned monster the islanders call Gojira. He thankfully survives and returns home dealing with the aftermath of such a sight, the defeat of Japan, and ghosts that he has to make peace with while slowly rebuilding his life, but oh dear atomic testing in the Bikini Atoll has scarred the creature and he's making a B-line straight to Tokyo Bay, leading to a non-military group to formulate a plan to stop the terrible giant. Pure distilled synopsis, but there is a lot going on in this movie. It easily is way more serious than Shin Gojira, maybe even more so than the 1954 film which may get me in trouble for saying so. It tackles a lot both from a character standpoint and a history standpoint, all of which feels organic to the setting and time period and is executed quite well. You don't need to be a history buff to understand all the inner workings of the landscape of Japan at this point (just go watch D Man1954's video on Minus One history) but it is fascinating stuff. I won't lie to you my jaw was on the floor almost the whole film, I'll say it cause I mean it that Godzilla has never been more terrifying. He was an undeniable force in the first film, he was effectively creepy in Shin Gojira, here he is uhhh...Jesus. The roars, the booming footsteps, the physique, the atomic breath, fear inducing. I'm not sure if it's pure CG or just suitmation digitally touched up or even both, but I like the design. Very 54' appearance with the Legendary type physique, and he moves with the ferocity of a wild animal when he wants to! I kinda like how they go one step beyond the american films and make the dorsal fins slowly light up but also jut out of his back when he does the atomic breath, and when it fires it's fucking doomsday. It damn near reaches Oppenheimer levels of apocalyptic despair but has great uplifting moments and messages that balance it out. Did catch a fair few references though and being the dork that I am I shall list some! To hear several tracks of Akira Ifukube's music in ground shaking surround sound was unreal, we hear the main theme, a track from Mothra Vs. Godzilla, what I like to call the Heisei march, I think you even hear a bit of the underwater music from the 54' movie which is so peaceful and yet so haunting at the same time so that was Kino. Love how after all this time Godzilla is still based on Odo island and we get a nod to the underwater flash you see from the original too. No doubt the film tipped it's hat to Jaws which already was scary as hell now replace Bruce with Godzilla and I was anxious to say the least. Now I would say I loved it more than Shin Gojira on first watch, but I've seen that movie many many times since and the love only increases so we'll have to see where this ends up. A really rock solid human plot that is there for a reason, devastating rampage scenes, very good effects, and another fine addition to the collection nearing 70 years in length. 4 stars, 9/10, go see it Friday when it's out nationwide. And if my calculations are correct we only have two movies left for the year, big time fingers crossed for those so stay tuned.

Thursday, November 23, 2023


Happy giving of the thanks, now let's talk war.

We truly do not get big budget epic historical dramas like we used to, so when I saw the trailer for Napoleon I was onboard all the way. I am no history buff, but I like to show my support for the genre and thankfully it's not a case of where you have to be extremely familiar with the military career of one Napoleon Bonaparte to understand everything presented. The film begins with the french revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette and concludes with Napoleon's exile to Saint Helena, covering his marriage, his crowning as emperor, his campaigns against Britain and Prussia, and his days in exile. And from what I saw this was a huge undertaking for Ridley Scott, I mean not to say historical dramas are box office bombs by a stretch but it is a risky venture mainly due to the budget. I have no idea what the budget was but it showed a lot in terms of set production, costumes, and volume of extras which is what is to be expected from a film like this! It's directed well, the movie has moments where you are just in awe, the cast is proper good, and keeps a brisk pace where the film doesn't feel like it's pushing 3 hours. It's a farcry from an all out action film, but man I gotta admit to you I haven't felt that sense of amazement and just plain blown away by the scale of the battles scenes here since shit like, Return Of The King easily. Not necessarily in terms of awesomeness but through sheer scaling. It looks real, they really went to a field and got hundreds of people to take opposite sides and charge in. They use CG but only if it's absolutely needed, and it felt appropriately big. The politics were handled very economically to sum it up, they give you the necessary information in a concise and short manner to understand why historical world events occured. And even as a straight up newbie when it comes to french history, I recognized events and names even without knowing the full context. Joaquin is effective, he has that star power where you lock in on him and he does carry the film throughout, it's not so much a character study on Napoleon and rather a short biographical look on his command. Vanessa Kirby as Josephine is such an interesting character who you don't really know that much about but it makes want to learn about her, because she really is this average woman who gets thrown into being the literal empress of France and her subsequent fall from that grace, you kinda want to delve into that historical text but she does very well and has...maybe intentionally and bizarre chemistry with Joaquin. Odd customs and behaviors and mindsets are to be expected when you travel in the fourth dimension. Bit of an ensemble cast of minor players but all did solid work. I quite liked it, it certainly did not disappoint, and I feel it can hold people's interest if they have any to see it. I do give it a recommendation, and 3 stars, 8/10! One more film before the winter of my discontent begins.

Friday, November 17, 2023


Holy shit. Holy shhhhit!

I am so sorry this was as late as it was and I'm desperately gonna attempt to keep this coherent, but there is so much to talk about and not tread into spoiling everything so with that let us begin. We knew this show was coming, we knew it would be all about finding Ezra and Grand Admiral Thrawn, and still and STILL it gave us fans so much to be entertained by and love! Son of a krayt dragon, where do I even start? Literally before act one scene one I was a happy boy seeing a red Lucasfilm logo and red text crawl. We are quickly introduced to our principal protagonosts and antagonists, Ahsoka and Sabine after a falling out in jedi training reconvene with hopes of finding Ezra Bridger and stopping Thrawn's return after retrieval of an ancient map, while Morgan Elsbeth hires two...I have no damn clue what to call them cause they're not mercenaries and they're not sith and I dare not even call them dark jedi, Lord Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati who are looking to traverse to a galaxy far far away to retrieve the Chimaera and it's captain as heir to the Empire. Now I actually only have one singular qualm with this show and even then it really isn't all that much but I wonder how does Ahsoka know the map she finds leads to the precise location of Thrawn? I know it's a simple Macguffin and there is indeed a time gap between when Din met Ahsoka and now so whatever, just a nitpicky thing. And for a show that's only 8 episodes long with varying runtimes for each episode, what it juggles and how the story progresses ain't half bad. It's quite tentative how each link gets Ahsoka and Sabine closer to Ezra but far from plot breaking, and I can see that some might claim the show to be slow and it is indeed far from action packed but I feel that's necessary for the story that needs to be told. There's a lot of character backstory and baggage that gets sorted, and yeah it's damn near pivotal to see Star Wars Rebels to fully get the picture. You can still watch this show uninitiated but I don't feel like it would have as much of a draw or impact, it's essentially a fifth season of a television show just swapping from animation to live action. I mean they do a competent job getting across what each character is like and their history with one another but it's one thing to infer from it and another to experience it. Now that being said they got some fuggin' GOOD actors to play these roles, and I'll tell you something right now I can't imagine being the casting director for this because not only do you have to pick the best candidate but you also got to get the right looking person to be this animated character come to life. That is unbelievably difficult but they pulled it off in spades for my money's worth. Rosario gets to finally spread her wings and explores the boundaries of this fan loved character and delves into her psyche a bit, you see an arc with Ahsoka as she gets some very much needed closure and acceptance of her past. Natasha couldn't be more of a dead ringer for Sabine Wren if she tried and effortlessy captures the still rebellious sassy attitude that masks some grief and pain, she was an easy sell for me. Mary Elizabeth Winstead did take a hot second for me to get as Hera but once we were there all was well, she takes way more of a mom stance and while she does have her son Jacen around you can tell she wants to get Ezra back after so long too, and she ain't taking no nonsense from certain republic senators, so I say rock on. Okay this is gonna go on for a minute but fuck it, Ray Stevenson...good God. This is a greater tragedy than Darth Plagueis, the fact he never got to see the fans adore his character and even greater the fact we won't see him again continuing the quest of Baylan Skoll, it just hurts man. Del Rey books, Pablo Hidalgo, whoever I need to make a case to, please for the love of all things grand and amazing make a book on Baylan Skoll, either his break off from the Order and how he found Shin or a continuation of where we see him last or friggin' both! Baylan Skoll jumped up to my second favorite Star Wars character of all time in just 8 episodes (sorry Kylo I still love you) and I'm pretty sure I could write an entire character study on him but to keep it brief, he is a strong enigma but the best way I can describe him is he seems to put the emphasis on knight in former jedi knight, we really don't know what his endgame is though we get hints and breadcrumbs but he was perfect from beginning to end. I fell so head over heels for this character I fashioned my Halloween costume after him. Just wow, 12/10, 200/100, goddamn it I miss you Ray. Ivanna Sakhno though we don't get a firm grasp on her character's standing in the larger scale of the story, was an effective villain and my lord the eye acting of this woman was nothing short of phenomenal and pants wettingly terrifying. And I know a good sect of the internet who wants Shin and Sabine to be an item, I hold no grudge against that so I'm rooting for your dreams over there you romantic oddballs. Big time plot twist with Morgan Elsbeth played by Diana Lee Inosanto, turns out she got some Nightsister blood in her even though we had no inkling to believe so beforehand, but they fiddle and change stuff all the time in Star Wars you get used to it. But it's really damn cool to see her have such a prominent role from basically a cameo in The Mandalorian, she even gets to flex her sword fighting skills and I'm just happy to see her back in this role. Now if you go back and read my Mando season 2 reviews there was a little breakdown moment over the mention of a Chiss strategist by the name of mothertrucking Grand Admiral Thrawn so you would think I'd practically launch myself from my chair into the stratosphere upon his arrival but I kept quite a icy cool demeanor like the man himself, mainly because it was just a given. Of course we're gonna see Thrawn, of course we're going to see the star destroyer Chimaera, everything is proceeding as I have forseen, so it wasn't a matter of if we're going to see Thrawn but rather when are we going to see Thrawn. I mean can you believe it took over 30 years for this character to make the jump to live action? Heir To The Empire came out in 1991, we've had Thrawn in games, in comics, in animation, damn near every medium except live action until this year. Of course I'm utterly thrilled they got Lars Mikkelsen to do the performance rather than just dub his voice, and you can indeed see he is having the time of his life playing this role to the max in person and it's everything you both expected and wanted from it. I barely have to talk about him because you know it's great, I know it's great, the New Republic is gonna get wrecked and that's great! I genuinely do hope we get a second season of Ahsoka, I know Dave is gearing up for a film and that's wonderful but there clearly is some things to resolve by the end of this season, so please and thank you Lucasfilm. It's kinda mental how good the production is here, it really does seem like each show just keeps getting better in quality of effects to where you kinda forget it's supposed to be a TV show, the costumes are beautifully realized, the sets go from intricate to sprawling and look grand, the fight choreography feels in touch with each character and has some directorial flourishes which I love, we get a lot of emphasis on ships and space so obviously they excel at that over at ILM, it's just proper good production. Plus there's just a lot of new ground that was broken that I never thought Star Wars would do, I mean they have the balls to push the setting to a galaxy even farther away and yet it still feels appropriately Star Wars. If I had to pick favorite episodes, there's no bad episode for sure, they space each one out to where nothing ever feels like filler, that's a tough decision because there are solid candidates and I'm split on episode five and the finale for two very different reasons but I will go with the finale because they throw a lot of cool stuff at you and you want to see how it all ends and it leaves you with ample questions for next time. Regardless you're in for a treat with this show, I have no friggin' clue what the next Star Wars show will be, my want for The Acolyte is unrivalled so fingers crossed for that! Final scores I give it 4 stars, 8.5/10! And I shall return next week for a historical drama so stay tuned. Long live the Empire.

Friday, November 10, 2023

The Marvels

It really isn't as bad as people made it out to be.

True it is more on the average tier of the MCU a.k.a. the vast majority of the MCU, but terrible or bad are far from the terms I would use to describe this movie. Again, totally haven't kept up with recent Marvel events so if you're looking for an in depth, wide spanning, informed Marvel review this ain't it. So we essentially pick up where Ms. Marvel ended with Carol, Kamala, and Monica meeting up and teaming up to combat...I'm really not sure if I'm supposed to know this villain or not, I'm a grandad you gotta bear with me here and help an old man out, Dar-Benn which is a quite suitable alien name. In fact the movie focuses on the alien sci-fi aspect of it all which I quite liked, just to see weird shit I'm pretty much there for it. Now that kinda dips it's toes into the problem pool doing so and I might as well get the few negatives out real quick. The movie kinda goes on tangents, not many granted but certain scenes play out for a hot minute and you're like, "Uh guys, there literally is a global crisis going on. Could we maybe get back to that a bit?". No horseshit Jack, our group arrives on a sea planet where everybody communicates in song and it gets super Broadway musical very fast, don't get me wrong I loved it and appreciated how quirky the sci-fi is presented here but it really was this off beat moment waiting for the plot and action to catch up with our heroes. That's kinda the other thing, the movie feels a bit off. I don't think I can quantify it much but certain things landed, certain things crashed, and others just kinda floated in space. Maybe it was because the movie has a fairly quick pace, it barely sits still and things get resolved somewhat easily somewhat quickly, and if this isn't the shortest Marvel movie it has to be the runner up. I swear the runtime says one hour and forty five minutes, it feels barely over 90 minutes when credits start to roll. Now I will say it doesn't move too fast, and you think this dynamic that each of our protagonists share similar powers and can essentially swap places in space would make it a bit confusing and hard to follow when the action kicks in, but thankfully not! The action is always dynamic and interesting, it's shot and edited well enough to where it never reaches that point where you don't even know what the fuck is happening, so kudos on that sincerely! The acting is good, though the heart and soul is and forever shall be Iman Vellani, but man it was bugging me because I knew I saw Zawe Ashton someplace before and ohh Doctor Who actor as a Marvel baddie strikes again! I'll admit there was some really cool and beautiful shots peppered throughout the film, the effects and direction were handled nicely for sure. I don't know where to fit this in the review but my favorite scene was honest to God the most hilariously disturbing and weirdest sequence I've ever seen in a movie that wasn't a horror picture, like you'll know it exactly when you see it. It was a stroke of genius but like if it was the most underplayed stroke of genius I've ever seen. So there were indeed positive elements, but it is kind of a mixed bag that I can easily see people trash or like a good deal. And the only way you'll know is if you see it! For me personally it's a decent film that I recommend you see at least once. 2.5 stars, 6.5/10! I got something important for you next week that I probably should have reviewed earlier but Halloween time is the busiest time so stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Ms. Marvel

Back on the Marvel stuff and wonder upon wonders I actually quite liked it!

Now I have to preface this with the fact that I was watching Ms. Marvel as it was coming out over a year ago but I only got 2 episodes in and unfortunately life stuff was occuring so I never got to finish it. But from what I saw it was a cute, fun, more easy going experience in the Marvel universe and knowing The Marvels was coming out I decided to finish what I started. So how was the other 4 episodes that I hadn't seen yet? Very good stuff, again I think the reason why this show worked so well for me I can pin down to about three elements. Point the firste, it's so ground level superhero origin stuff there really isn't this global or galactic conflict Kamala Khan is forced to combat, there are indeed villains and we will touch on that I assure you but mainly it's about her getting a grasp on her abilities. Point the seconde, it's a very light show with frequent visual flourishes and a lot of humor but also surprising amounts of heart to it, there truly was several more quiet moments that really had tears well up in my eyes. Thirde and finally, I have no issue saying that Iman Vellani is my perpetual ray of sunshine and happiness in this world, she is a delight and a treasure that must be guarded with the ferocity of Smaug himself, there ain't no better casting for this character. But yeah that really is the plot of this short series, high school adorkable lead Kamala Khan is a big superhero fan and on finding a mysterious bangle gains unexpected powers and it more or less charts her search for answers. Of course not to spoil or divulge everything but the more she learns about the bracelet the more she also learns about her family's past, and being a teenage girl there is some strife and rebelliousness between her and her parents that gets reconciliated with. It really does make me think, what if this show came out years ago? I hear a lot about superhero fatigue in this moment of time and rightfully so, but I feel it also lends more negative reception to more recent projects that have come out that don't necessarily deserve it. I choose not to see every Marvel movie or show because it is so much, whereas DC is a bit spaced out so I don't have that fatigue. I had it once in September of 2020 and I don't wish to feel it again. So when I watched this show I had great love and interest to the end, in fact there was only one aspect I truly just did not like and it's a common thread with these Marvel movies. I feel there was too much pulling in different directions with the villains, they could not form a consensus on who the antagonist should be, cause we got three of them and not a one was good. You think oh this new government body is going after Kamala to capture her and do no doubt dasterdly things to her, but then they get pushed to the side for this group of not Eternal inter-dimensional beings that goes somewhere for a hot second before getting wrapped up, and then last two episodes we got another super powered kid uncontrollably lashing out for the newly developed persona of Ms. Marvel to deal with. It really was the low point for me. Everything else though? Characters, story direction, costumes, the culture of Pakistan, the effects (mostly get a pass), the writing, the dynamics between characters, all were rock solid. I can't remember the last time I had such unshakeable love for comic book characters on such a scale. Kamala, 12/10, my heart and soul. Bruno, technical genius and best friend, marvellous. Kamala's dad Yusuf, best dad in all of Marvel, stand up guy, flawless! Even Muneeba who starts off as a controlling mom has an arc, she has reasons and depth to her, you get where she's coming from, and is still lovable. All the details of pakistani and muslim culture, from the food to the clothes to the customs is fan-flippin'-tastic to see because I'm just a sucker for seeing places around the world and learning about other people's ways of life that I would not normally get the chance to see. There genuinely is a lot of thought and emotion being displayed throughout and it certainly doesn't feel forced, the writers knew what story they wanted to tell and what details would give the most punch. I mean it touches on the Partition of India for God's sakes, that's some heavy shit for a children's superhero show. But it works. I was very happy to watch this show, and yeah I have a glimmer of hope for The Marvels. I like Carol's movie, I love Kamala's show, I'm absolutely gonna walk in with an open mind Friday and I'll tell you all about what I think. For this little series I give it 3.5 stars, 8/10! Until next time.