Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Random Picks Week: Superman: The Animated Series

Day 3 of Random Picks Week and clearly we haven't had any cartoons in a bit.  Don't worry, nothing zany and loony if you will.   Since 1992's popularity of Batman: The Animated Series, we seen copious villains, explosions, mysteries and wild adventures.   Rather than a Dark Knight how about a Beacon of Hope standing for truth and justice?  This is Superman: The Animated Series.

So... you own this starship or rent?

Darkseid: You dare to spoil me?
Superman: That's for Dan Turpin!
Darksied: Who?
 Superman: The good man you murdered!
Darkseid: If I had known the death of one human would hurt you so, Kal-El, I would have killed more!

As with the Batman series, Superman (Tim Daly of Almost Grown, Year of the Comet, Wings, The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest, Invasion America and Eyes) has a bizarre collection of intellectuals, brutes and monsters for villains.  Constantly matching wits with genius philanthropist Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown of Thunder Alley, Highlander, Shoot to Kill, Earth 2, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game, Justice League and Carnivale) who happens to get what or whom he wants by any means necessary.   In his secret identity as Clark Kent, Superman finds himself fascinated by Lois Lane (Kim Delany of Threesome, Almost You, Sweet Surrender, China Beach, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Justice League, Desperate Housewives and Body of Proof) a sassy, pushy and captivating lady reporter with the ability to be accident prone or drawn down the greatest amount of danger one person could experience in 8 lifetimes.  

I'm looking for Sarah Connor.

With a substantial supporting cast, voice casting director Andrea Romano (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman/Doomsday, Justice League, Teen Titans, Ben10: Alien Force, Green Lantern: First Flight and Son of Batman)  does her level best to match the ideal voice with the character.  Such as: Brad Garrett for Lobo and Bibbo Lebowski, Malcolm McDowell as Metallo, Lisa Edelstein as Mercy Graves and Michael Ironside as Darkseid.

Just a few comments and critiques now.  Rather than the gritty and dark look of Gotham, Metropolis is always sunny and bristling with new technology.  Some of it for the better and a lot of it to beat on Superman and claim of power.  With the constant city-wide destruction that keeps occurring it is a wonder anyone lives in Metropolis at all.  The transition of more than a few Gotham villains hoping to get a break from Batman they head to a city with a being that is almost a Demi-God??   Does that make any sense at all?     To look at it in Marvel Comics terms, Hey I am tired of Spider-Man beating on me all the time, I will see if I can find the Hulk and have it a bit easier.

Regardless the reasons of said villains, Batman makes more than the occasional cameo and the two form a friendship despite their differences in methods and techniques.  And Batman's costumes is still cooler by far.  We also have the introduction of Green Lantern, The Flash and Aquaman for a younger audience that did not see the Super Friends or Super Powers.   Trust me kids, you are better off missing those episodes.

The alien with the heart of gold and Midwestern upbringing tries to solve issues without always resorting to punching and destruction but let's face it, with planes falling out of the sky, missiles zig-zagging around town and more than a few meta-humans trashing the joint, Supes is a busy guy.

Here's Lobo with the wind-up...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Random Picks Week: Burn Notice Season 3

Welcome to Day 2 of Random Picks Week.  I have not touched base on this particular TV series in some time and it clearly it needs addressing.  We will be reviewing the continuation of the USA series Burn Notice.   Bringing back Michael Westen and his unusual team with Sam Axe, a former Navy SEAL and now a booze hound and skirt chaser and Fiona Glenanne, a former IRA commando and Michael's ex girlfriend.   This is Burn Notice Season 3.

Ohh, no more Charlie Sheen parties... ever.

Fiona: Should we spoil them?
Michael: I have enough to worry about than killing three FBI agents.

Michael Westen (Jeffery Donovan of The Pretender, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Touching Evil, Crossing Jordan and Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe) had just gotten out from under the thumb of his handler Karla only to meet the head man running the operations, simply known as Management.  Westen demands these people out of his life and gets his wish and tells him they will stay out of his way until he realizes how much he needs them as much as they need him.  With former colleagues selling him out, potential cake wake missions turning into disasters barely escaped, Michael tries to figure a way to take down this shadow organization that has been haunting him for three years.

Hops, hotties and humidity Mikey.  Miami has been good to me.

Aiding him begrudgingly is of course his oldest buddy Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead,  Army of Darkness, Escape From L.A., Ellen, Icebreaker and Jack of All Trades) and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar of Scent of a Woman, For Love or Money, The Three Musketeers, The Grave, Sherlock, Water Under the Bridge and The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines)  diving into more and more danger as it takes its toll on their friendship.  Michael has an admirer this time around and is finding out if Westen's burn notice is true and that he is the naughty boy it claims him to be.   Mason Gilroy (Chris Vance of Stingers, Macbeth, All Saints, Prison Break, Mental and Rizzoli & Isles) a freelance sociopath has a lucrative business opportunity for He and Michael but he has to see Michael in action as it were before he commits.  Can Westen and gang get him out of this hot water or will they boil after being burnt?

A few observations about this season.  The dynamic between Madeline Westen (Sharon Glass of The Miracle of Kathy Miller, House Calls, The Sky's No Limit, Cagney & Lacey, Honor Thy Mother and The Trials of Rosie O' Neill) and Michael flushes out problems of the past that they both must come to terms with.  Each show the other they have more warmth and depth than they normally exhibit. Michael and his estrained brother Nate (Seth Peterson of Godzilla, Can't Hardly Wait, Providence, Hard Ground and Unlucky Charms) start to mend fences and come to terms that they will never be the best of friends but they can be family.

Hmm, three more seasons, please.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Random Picks Week: Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Greetings to Day 1 of Random Picks Week and I have scooped up a sci-fi that is deemed either cult classic or a sequel that need not be with the exception of money grubbing producers.   In spite of the mixed feelings to outright negative reviews still made over $17 million in the box office on a 3 million budget.  Not a bad turn out.   This is Beneath the Planet of Apes.

I'm almost Heston.  How rude.

General Ursus:  What is more dangerous than spoiler, Doctor?
Dr. Zaius: The unknown.

The story follows right after Taylor's discovery of he is on Earth but it is hundreds of years into the future.  Nova (Linda Harrison of Batman, Planet of the Apes, Bracken's World, Airport 1975, Cocoon, Cocoon: Return and Wild Bill) and Taylor proceeded to the Forbidden Zone and Taylor stops the horse to explore a phenomena then simply disappears.  This time around an identical spacecraft that Colonel Taylor (Charlton Heston of Arrowhead,  Ben-Hur, Touch of Evil, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man) flew crashes in the wasteland desert instead of  following the same trajectory and came through a time vortex as well, Colonel Brent (James Franciscus of Naked City, Mr. Novak, The Cat o' Nine Tails, Hunter, Killer Fish and Nightkill) is the lone survivor of his crew and sees Nova on horseback.  Being slow, mute or a combination of both she tries to communicate with Brent and aid him in finding Taylor.

So it is off to Ape City in beautiful Red Rock Canyon and some sound stage studio time as well.  Sadly Roddie McDowell was not available to reprise his role of Cornelius (David Watson of Rawhide. Never Too Young, Daniel Boone, Paperback Romance, Beyond the Next Mountain, Criminal Ways and My Brother Jack) and Zira (Kim Hunter of Streetcar Named Desire, Lilith, Planet of the Apes, The Swimmer, Ironside and The Edge of Night)  hide Brent and Nova from the Gorillas and the ruling parties so the commander of the military General Ursus (James Gregory of The Lawless Years, The Manchurian Candidate, Barney Miller and The Flight of Dragons) does not have even more to rant about.

I am the Very Model of  a Modern Major-General!!

His speech to force humans out of their valley will not improve the food stock and even slaughtering them all is still going to take a toll on their supplies.  Ursus proposes to trek into the Forbidden Zone and look for vegetation and possible new crops.
His scouts report strange happenings and fire from the sky signifying other life is still on the planet.  An expedition is underway in the hopes to improve their food supply and the ape way of life.  So needed are the potential crops that Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans of Marry Me, The Path to Glory, Dial M for Murder, Macbeth, Rosemary's Baby and The Red Skelton Hour) puts his full support behind the exploration of a zone no ape dare travel.

With the help of Zira, Brent and Nova escape from the city and follow a deep cavern only to discover the ruins of Queensboro Plaza station in New York City, making him come to the conclusion he is in fact on Earth but many years later.  In the ruins of St. Patrick's Cathedral he finds a gathering of humans that use telepathy and worship a nuclear bomb.

The underground mutants inform Brent that he is not welcome in their society as he is too primitive to appreciate their harmony and they toss him in a cell with Taylor.   Hey, there he is!    Our two heroes must join forces to stop the mutant and ape forces from ending the world.

Just a few comments on the movie at this time.  Due to the smaller budget the extras wore Halloween masks of apes, gorillas and orangutans and boy does it show.  Only lead speaking roles were allowed the make-up and prosthetics  Because of the following expensive blockbuster bombs; Hello, Dolly! Star! and Tora! Tora! Tora! the budget for the film was down to 3 million unlike its predecessor of 5.8 million.

The set of fallout New York was originally used for an episode of Land of the Giants.  Amusingly enough the same set was used in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes as corridors between sections of the Ape Management complex.   Heston was said to have donated his salary to charity.

Crap, it's the hall monitor!

Random Picks Week

Howdy all and welcome to the week.  This week I thought we will skip the staple title and just grab into games, movies and maybe a few TV shows.  Normally I would call that Grab Bag Week but I am sick of that title so this week it will be known as Random Picks Week.    So I will dig through my various films, TV and maybe a few games or two and see what we can inform and entertain you all with.

Head shot!  Yikes!

As mentioned in previous Grab Bag Weeks, this allows me to sharpen my writing skills on the fly rather than the predestined straight and narrow of a structured week.  To hone my abilities if you will and delve deeper in the recesses of forgotten films, hidden gems and maybe even a decent TV show that was cancelled before its time.

A planet were apes evolved from... ah forget it.

As always I appreciate the comments, critiques and suggestions my readers give me so keep churning those out and I promise to keep firing good and bad films, TV and various platform and PC games your way.  I shall attempt to be less biased to most but I cannot say I would give a gleaming review on anything Pokemon so my advice, skip suggesting that.   Ta ta for now!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Godzilla Vs Week: Godzilla Vs Gigan

Welcome ladies and gents, one and all to Day 5 of Godzilla Vs Week and boy do we have a cluster of critters tearing up the countryside to the likes of Man of Steel.  This time around we will see Ghidorah's home-world and his oppressors making him do their bidding.  What???!!!   An innocent Kaiju??!!!    Nah, he is a collaborator, see?  They're giving him a piece the action.   This is Godzilla Vs Gigan.

Stop doing the Monster Mash!  STOP IT!!!

Priest: Children's Land"  Is that some sort of a spoiler name for a lunatic asylum?

It would appear that large cockroach like creatures  from Nebula-M are invading the Earth to colonize and assume control but...  those pesky humans might be cagey so it is best to approach this in the form of a theme park!!!   Disneyland and world are controlled by giant cockroaches!!!   Heh, moving along we see the aliens are going on a Zygon and assuming through metamorphosis the guise of the work staff and higher ups that is developing the peace- themed park, World Children's Land...  I hope something got lost in translation or that is the crappiest name for a theme park.  The centerpiece of the park is a huge Godzilla Tower shaped in his image.   Popular Manga artist stumbles upon this plot of invasion as his work is essential to design the park when he hears of two audio tapes known as Action Signal Tapes that will summon the space monsters Ghidorah; thought to be destroyed by Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus and Mothra and a new cyberorganic creature Gigan as they will rain havoc down on the Earth.

The artist and a buddy of his accidentally took one of the tapes mistaking it for a mix tape and goes home to play it.  Yeah planetary domination requires both of these key elements, the monsters and the control over them and bug boys already dropped the ball.   Godzilla and Anguirus are relaxing on Monster Island without a Mole Man in sight when they hear this high frequency noise.  Godzilla sends Anguirus to investigate it.  It's good to be the king.   Anguirus heads to the mainland only to be jumped by the Japanese Self Defense Force in a misunderstanding of the creature's actions.  Rather than go sickhouse on them, Anguirus leaves the area but did not stop the impeding creature invasion.  Godzilla joins forces with Anguirus to find and destroy Ghidorah and this new Kaiju Gigan.


Just a few tidbits about the film at this time now.  To save some yen, stock footage of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters was spliced into this film along with a recycled musical score by Akira Ifukube to balance the numerous prints.
This film is the first in which Godzilla actually caused a Kaiju to bleed.  Normally it is a tail beating there, a rock chucked here and atomic breath to power but Gigan bladed like a buzz-saw and metal hooks raking Godzilla he actually used his claws for a change.

So to suspend disbelief of the resurrection of Ghidorah because they wailed on that boy via Destroy All Monsters this was to be a future incarnation of the same creature, apparently in the far away time of 1999 he came back from the dead or some such.   Then Martin Landau and Barbara Bain must have towed him for some reach of space their on Moonbase Alpha.

Not a bad addition to the Godzilla Showa Series but I was also not thoroughly impressed with the subplots running rampant all over and not fully tied in.

I.... LIVE...AGAIN!!!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Godzilla Vs Week: Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla

Back again monster fans for Day 4 of Godzilla Vs Week.  We clearly have not witnessed enough devastation and radiation so let's find some worthy contenders.  In the red corner, 60 to almost 70 feet tall, the reigning champion of Japan weigh in at 30,000 tons, blechs atomic flame and can really whip a tail...  Godzilla!!!   And our challenger, a mass of titanium diamond coated alloy, bristling with laz weapons, flamethrower and missle barrage, tallying at 40,000 tons himself.  Mechagodzilla!   Okay folks let's get ready to rummmmmmmmbbbbbbbbblllllllleeeeeee!!!!!    This is Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla.

One shall stand...  One shall fall.
Professor Hideto Miyaajima: What's this? Who are you?
Alien Supreme Leader Kuronuma: Commander for conquest of Spoiler, from the third planet of the black hole, outer space.

Just when you thought all of Japan could not have enough damage from the continuous monster royale rumbles, they get aliens.   Yup invaders from space!   Strange goings on are occurring in Okinawa. A priestess claims horrible visions of a city being leveled and destroyed by a giant monster.  No kidding.  In a nearby series of caverns spelunker Masahiko Shimizu (Kazuya Aoyama of Ryusei Ningen Zone, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Tokyo-wan enjo) brings it to Professor Miyura's successor Professor Miyajima (Akihiko Hirata of Mothra, Girl of Dark, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Ultraman, Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla) a man's PHDs range from Paleontology, physics, reverse engineering...  oh the hell with it, he is Asian Tony Stark without the suit and swarm.  

No sooner do we fade out from that scene a familiar creature raises from the depths of Mt. Fuji and starts smashing the countryside, yes Godzilla seems to have spun back to his rampage days rather than the peaceful existence he has had with humans for some time now.  Out of nowhere Anguirus (a mutated dinosaur resembling an ankylosaurus only much larger. Godzilla's first foe and now ally) appears thought to be long lost in a chasm he and Rodan fell during the Ghidorah incident.    Anguirus proceeds to throw down with "Godzilla" only to get bashed about and seriously injured.  Before Anguirus passes out from pain, he sees the wounds he made in Godzilla and spies a gleam of metal where muscle and blood should be.  

Stay on target!!

Faux Godzilla proceeds to reign fire and anguish on the land when a second Godzilla appears and puts the hurt on the first.  Our challenger is of course the original and is pissed at the copy.  While these two start flogging each other, a contingent of military men acquired the Professor, the spelunker and the professor's daughter.  During the struggle with the spelunker his cheesy mask is torn to reveal an ape-like visage under the mask.  Our horrible soldiers are revealed to be Simians from the third planet from the black hole.   Yeah, even I could not have made up invading Apes from another world.  I guess it could have been the Cromagnons from Sliders dimension swapping.  Bleh.

Establishing a base under Okinawa the Simians do not seem that technologically advanced, with the exception of Mechagodzilla their weapons are chemically ignited projectiles and not some beam weapon.   With Interpol hot on the trail it is only a matter of time they will catch the Simians red butted... er red handed.
With the descendants of Azumi made to be the caretakers of YET ANOTHER slumbering Kaiju, Shisa (or Ceasar to the round eyed devils is based on a mythological creature a cross between dog and lion) raises the creature from the deep sleeps to aid Godzilla in his time of need.

Okay, just a few comments to make on our film.   This film was to honor the 20th Anniversary of Godzilla.  Funny thing is in the German release of the film they kept referring Mechagodzilla as King Kong.  Guess Mechagodzilla sounded too silly, menacing or possibly lost in translation.    The cavern around Okinawa is revered as a tourist attraction and apparently more than a few films including Ultraman and Fugitive Alien were shot there.  He trieeeeedd to kill me with a forklift!  Olay!

Lightning Bolt!  50 mega damage!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Godzilla Vs Week: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Back again my readers and welcome to Day 3 of Godzilla Vs Week.  This time around our boy does not only not get top billing but is surrounded by foes of yesteryear.   The grudge matches become a massive onslaught to our reptilian hero as he must work together with his common enemies to battle a new Kaiju of unknown origin.  Can our King of the Monsters set aside his differences with his adversaries long enough to save Japan or will it breakdown into a massive cage match?  This is Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Ghidorah, Godzilla vs. Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, Earth's Greatest Battle, Monster of Monsters: Ghidorah, The Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth

Mas Selina Salno, Princess of Sergina: Why does no one pay heed to my spoiler?  The entire human race will parish from the Earth.  When the monster Ghidorah passes, only flaming ruins are left.

Saddle in folks because this is a long confusing story to the likes of a Burt I. Gordon flick.  Too many subplots but nowhere need that many walking sequences.  Detective Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki of Yojimbo, Dogora, Godzilla 1985: The Legend is Reborn, Sakura Sakura and Kirin) is assigned to protect Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (Akiko Wakabayashi of Akikio, King Kong Vs Godzilla,  Key of Keys, The Stranger Within a Woman, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds of the Andes) a princess from a sovereignty deep in the Himalayan mountains for as she tours Japan on her royal visit under the suspicion that she is to be assassinated... so they assign one guy that moderately works with the rest of the department.  Huh?    Her plane never lands in Japan and she is presumed dead as her plane was detonated from the sky.

While that bit of mild interest is going on, a stray meteor shower just slaps the forests forcing Professor Miura (Hiroshi Koizumi of Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Gozilla vs.Mechagodzilla and Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S.) up to the region to study the strange meteorites that had landed and is emitting vast electromagnetic waves.  Never quite sure where this man's expertise lies, by the way.  Kaiju expert, space phenomena and physicist.  The man is the Asian Reed Richards without the lame powers.

Look, Rhianna is getting naked... again.

While investigating the plane's explosion Shindo is visited by Princess Selina who claims to have the spirit of a Venusian or Martian in English translation and warns humanity of the impending danger that is Ghidorah.  A vicious flame spewing dragon that will destroy the lands and boil the seas.  She speaks in prophecy about the rise of the long thought dead Rodan that Godzilla dispatched in Mt. Aso.   Rodan returns with a vengeance and Godzilla must have had his ears burning as he emerges from the sea to battle Rodan just at the same time of this from the meteorite Ghidorah takes flight and the three of them are doing the monster mash all over Japan.
The Japan Self-Defense Force in their ultimate wisdom demand the two teeny twins summon Mothra...  Because clearly in this equation you need YET ANOTHER Kaiju thrashing the countryside.   Everything hinges on Mothra convincing Rodan and Godzilla to team-up 80's buddy cop style and pimp slap Ghidorah before there is no Japan to save.

Just a few comments to make on the flick.  I love how bad the super imposure of the twins as they look like they live in a cigar box, coupled with even their dubbing is out of sync when they are psychically linked to one another.  Occasionally you can see Ghidorah's cables as the actor in the suit is being hoisted in the air and across the sound stage.    This is the fifth of the Godzilla Showa series actually showing the transition from Godzilla being more of a hero rather than the villain and while made in 1964 it was released stateside with three alternative titles but the most common one we have seen is Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.   I think poor IMDB had a stroke trying to keep up with every alternative title.  I, myself have seen two of the Japanese titles and two of the English titles so I know your pain.

Thought you snuffed it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Godzilla Vs Week: King Kong Vs Godzilla

Howdy all and welcome to Day 2 of Godzilla Vs Week.  As you may have already surmised or were previously hip to, Godzilla has had more than his fair share of smackdown drag out fights with his fellow Kaiju.  Some speculate he doesn't like to share the spotlight, while others say he is the Omega Kaiju and culls the herd when it gets overcrowded.  However it is viewed, Godzilla has come up against a many of tough hombres and today's film is no exception.  Facing off with the first Kaiju ever it is none other than King Kong himself.  This is King Kong Vs Godzilla.

Oooh refreshingly minty!!!

Mr. Tako: You two are going to Farro Island and find me a genuine spoiler whether he exists or not!

Pacific Pharmaceuticals needs their sponsoring and ratings to go through the roof and when a loose lipped doctor approaches the head of the company Tako (Ichiro Arishima of Judo Champion, Two Hearts in the Rain, Bravo, Young Guy, Three Old Ladies and Love Is a Hunter) exclaiming this island has a giant Kaiju roaming about, Tako mounts an expedition and sends his corporate red shirts to do his bidding.  They must trap and transport the Kaiju for the sake of the company's marketing campaign and their TV program.  Boy I wonder if there were more mundane offers on the table, like get Cary Grant to plug the drug or possibly Liz Taylor to do a guest spot.

Denzel ain't got crap on me!!!

Tako's two toadies , Sakurai and Kinsaburo must head to Farro Island and shockingly enough there is some chop in the waters.   At that same time, an American submarine has current drafts and ends up smack right into an iceberg.  No DiCapiros were injured in the crash.  As luck or a convenient plot device would have it this is the exact iceberg the Japanese Self Defense Force trapped Godzilla in back in 1955 thus freeing the creature and he squashes the sub like a tube of Crest.   a helicopter rescue is underway when they spy Godzilla swimming away in the waters at speeds of...  well as fast as you could paddle in a shallow pool but at any rate he is trying to book in that heavy rubber.   No sooner is he out of the water and on a Arctic military base trashing it in true blue Godzilla fashion, roasting tanks like marshmallows and swatting planes like bugs,  Godzilla is all over the wire press and this makes Tako furious that he got bumped to page 6.

Meanwhile on the Farro Island of which Steve Buscemi was not starring in, a massive octopus is scaring the villagers when King Kong pops up and slaps Squiddley Diddly around, he has some red berry juice and just conks out.

King Kong: Kaiju Proctologist.

Our bumbling lackeys manage to wedge a raft under Kong and ratchet him out to the awaiting ship.  Yeah that must have been a trial in of itself.  News gets wind of Kong's capture but the JSDF are having none of it and demand he be taken back to the island.  In all of the commotion, Kong wakes up and frees himself from the raft.    Reaching the mainland he spies with his simian eyes a great big lizard and proceeds to throw cowboy with the reptile.  So yes our two headliners duke it out causing destruction in their wake and are not kind to one another.

Just a few comments about the movie at this time.

This of course is the third installment of the Showa series (period of Japanese timeline under the Showa Emperor Hirohito) and Ishiro Honda is in the director's chair nursing his creation and bringing all the special effects that his budget allows.   This film is the first time both King Kong and Godzilla appear together in both in color but the first of the Kaiju movies to be in widescreen and to this day is still one of the most successful Godzilla movies of all time.

Merian Cooper (creator of King Kong director of Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, The Four Feathers, King Kong,  producer of She, Dancing Pirate, 3 Godfathers, Rio Grande and the Searchers) would have been smitten on the treatment of his monster and the love Japan gave him.  This wasn't Gamera vs that rubber creature he slays every frickin' time.   This film was two equals of mayhem wailing on each other in true Ali and Foreman fashion.

Tink is back and this time she has back up!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Godzilla Vs Week: Godzilla Vs Mothra

Hello and greetings to Day 1 of Godzilla Vs Week.  I apologize to the stateside readers in that I was a bit busy today just working out and living life.  Today's film starts us off with the third Kaiju in the series to be independent as much as King Kong and Godzilla and that rests on the wings of the one and only Mothra.  Yes, the plucky flying Kaiju befriended by forced perspective identical twins of fairy stature who live on a tropical island and worship the giant moth and it is only they who through the power of prayer or an irritating song can summon the mighty beast to call of battle.

"But Jake, what in the Sam Scratch has that got to do with Godzilla?!!"   Well, angry shouty person, I will tell you.  This time around in the fourth Godzilla film it is a smackdown between Mothra and Godzilla.  Apparently the King of the Monsters crown got a bit snug and it is up to Mothra to set Godzilla straight about a thing or two.  This is Godzilla Vs Mothra a.k.a. Godzilla vs The Thing, Mothra Vs Godzilla.

Think I need a breath mint?

Jiro Nakamura: "I'm not as afraid of Godzilla as I am of the spoiler...  he's meaner."

Reporter Ichiro Sakai (Akira Takarada of A Rainbow Plays in My Heart, On Wings of Love, A Holiday in Tokyo, The Flower and Half Human) and photographer Junko Nakanishi (Yuriko Hoshi of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Kill!, Let's Go, Young Guy!, Judo Champion and Godzilla vs, Megaguirus) are taking snaps of the wanton destruction created by a massive typhoon when the uncover a giant reptile scale in the wreckage.  Further that same day an enormous egg was found on the shore.  the local fishermen and villagers claim salvage to it and soon scientists of various field come to study it.  
Professor Miura (Hiroshi Koizumi of Star of Hong Kong, Matango, Kon'nichiwa akachan, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Little Adventurer and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla) brings valid questions of the origin of the egg, whether the villagers have any stories or legends of a being of great size and might that could be reasoned where the egg hails from but a slick entrepreneur Kumayama, head of the Happy Enterprises appeals to the villagers' wallet, buys the egg outright for peanuts and invests a billion dollars in the potential tourism the egg will generate.  I always have given the Japanese more credit than something this foolish.  This ranks right up there with a fissure cracks up to Tartarus and you want to run a hotel and do photo ops with the random dead spewing out into the land of the living.

Last time I go drinking all night with Kong. Whew!

Our adorable twin girls of inch height plead with the slickster telling the great danger in keeping the egg as it belongs to Mothra and should be returned back toot sweet but Kumayama will hear nothing of this but offers to buy the twins as an addition to the tourism.  Yes he offers to buy sentient people for his ill-gotten gains.  Charming fellow.  I'll prep the waterboard and the bamboo for his fingers.  Moving along,  Godzilla rears his head at the arrival of a potential rival to his throne or domain.  He is very territorial and comes crashing into Nagayoya to find the egg and possibly squish it.  Mothra dives in to duke it out with Godzilla and then the buildings, streets and cars take a beating like no body's business.

Just a few comments about the film now.  This being the fourth of the Godzilla series this particular series is known as the Showa series reflecting the time in history of the reign of the Showa Emperor Hirohito being one of the longest of any previous Japanese emperor so Godzilla had a similar reign as King of the Monsters.
This time also brought about a myriad of creatures for the series with creatures like Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah and the infamous Mechagodzilla.   This original inception of Godzilla and his universe hails from 1954 up to 1975 and had no more runs until the revamp in 1984.

Green Hornet??

Godzilla Vs Week

In honor of yesterday's highly enjoyable feature of the 2014's Godzilla (of which I thoroughly enjoyed)  I thought it only fitting and fair that we recapture some of the King of Monsters past glories.  The epic struggles, the fight for supremacy and the struggle that propelled our hero to the top of the heap.  In short, there is a lot of scale models destroyed, explosions and men in rubber suits drowning in their own sweat to the likes you have never seen nor wanted to.

Who says I look fat??!!!

As the Godzilla franchise ushered on, Toho Studios which has hailed Kurosawa samurai films, touchy feel good sports movies and yes rubber monster movies has kept the time honored creatures of the Godzilla Kaiju (strange creature for you Yankee imperialists) creatures and universe going since its beginning in 1954.

The popularity of these stories has made the Atomic Monsters a following rivaling Star Trek and Gunsmoke that these films are on going and it is only a matter of time before newer ones reach the mass media market.  Prior to the internet and DVD creation, most of these films remained overseas in Japan and were not distributed to the States or the UK.  Whether it was for reasons of needed English vocal dubbed or subtitles we do not know but we have almost a 20 year gap of Godzilla and company monster movies that have escaped our attention.

That in mind I will not be reviewing these latter movies until later down the road and this time around I will be focused on some of the heavy hitters to the title of King of the Monsters.  That being said, it's Showdown in Tokyo!

Made me look bad, Broderick, so I'm coming for ya!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Anime Week: Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

Hello folks and welcome to Day 5 of Anime Week.  I thought perhaps we would stem away from direct Japanimation and show how it has influenced stateside the modern cartoon.  This practice was found heavily in the early 80's with English dubbed versions of Transformers, Thundercats, Silverhawks, G.I. Joe and even Jem.   The method to introduce the theme into modern characters of superheroes and cartoon characters is of course Batman: The Animated Series.  Stemming along those lines it was decided to widen the audience of a popular comic book character that hunts down monsters and squashes them with his red right hand.  This is Hellboy: Sword of Storms.

Well Abe, this is another fine mess you gotten us into.

Abe Sapien: You just made the spoiler face.
Hellboy: Oh, crap.

Our flick open right in the middle of a mission with Mayan ruins, filled with mummies and even a giant  zombie-like bat as Abe Sapien (Doug Jones from Men in Black 2, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Legion) and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair of Cruel Intentions, Down to You, Legally Blonde, A Guy Thing, Hellboy, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Anger Management) lend their voices rather than physical form in the animation.  With the crashing, booming and guns blazing it isn't far too long that Hellboy (Ron Perlman of Beauty and the Beast, Sleepwalkers, Romeo Is Bleeding, Chronos, Animaniacs, Alien: Resurrection, Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game, Hellboy, Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and I Sell the Dead) comes smashing in riding the great big beastie and beating it into submission and possibly oblivion.

Just another day at the office.

Liz torches the room with her pyrokinesis and roasts almost everything except Abe and Hellboy and they are off to BRPD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) HQ to debrief, shower, change goo ridden clothes and probably sack out miles away in Japan a Professor Sakai, Japanese folklore expert reads aloud an ancient scroll of prophecy and unleashes two brother demons Thunder and Lightning as they possess his body and force him to find the sacred Sword of Storms, the lone weapon that can defeat them.  The sword's current owner greets Sakai with open arms when lightning and thunder cascade from his body blasting artifacts and trinkets about the study.

 The weird crap'ometer goes off and BPRD send both Hellboy, Professor Kate Morrigan (Peri Gilpin of Flesh 'n' Blood, Hercules, The Lionhearts, Fraiser, King of the Hill and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), a specialist in worldwide folklore, occult and liason to the enhanced talented agents and a psychic Agent Russel Thorne to ferret out the reason for the paranormal activities around the sword collector.
Hellboy picks up the Sword of Storms and is transported to a spirit/dream realm that resides next to the real world where he must protect this blade from those who would use it for evil.

Now just a few comments on the film itself.  I found the artwork to be vibrant, similar to the creator of Hellboy Mike Mignola's work and the voice cast was bang on.  The story was intriguing but the action of the monsters was fairly predictable.  They attempted seduction, slight of hand and trickery to get Hellboy to cough up the blade and it seemed a little cliche for me but then again I am a fan of this particular comic book and japanimation; so it could be said I have seen it before if you will.

Setting the story in Japan with ancient times showing they did their homework on the Oni (Troll), the Rokurokubi (demons whose heads come off or necks extend), the Gashadokuro (Giant Skeleton creature) and the evil Yotmotsu-hisame (ugly woman of the underworld commonly a hag or spider creature) so it did give the almost anime feel of a noble warrior on a quest.

Yup the crap is just building up.

Not a bad story but I found Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron to be a bit more interesting

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Anime Week: Princess Mononoke

Howdy all and welcome to  Day 4 of Anime Week and what collection would be complete without some sci-fantasy.  Yeah we need a bit of sword and sorcery to add to our anime so I scoured the archives at the homestead and thought this would be a nice touch.  Given it is a Hayao Miyazaki (writer and director of Lupin III: The Castle Cagliostro, Lupin the 3rd, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky) film  we are in good hands.  From a complicated conflict stretching over the world a young woman must fight for what she believes in.  This is Princess Mononoke.

I'm looking for a great warrior. 

Hii-sama: You cannot change fate.  However, you can rise to spoil it, if you so choose.

Our saga opens in the Muromachi (the dismissal of Emperor Go-Daigo and Shogun Ashikaga Takauji's reign) timeline of Japan but with some fantasy intermixed with it.  A local village is attacked by a demon and the prince of the village, Ashitaka slew it but somehow the demon's touch corrupts his fighting arm, it gives him terrifying fighting ability but the oracle of the village tells him that he must go West to find a cure.  As Ashikaga's quest begins he encounters a monk name of Jigo that tells the young prince he may find help the Great Forest Spirit (The Deer God).  A caravan heading towards to a nearby town simply called Irontown led by one Lady Eboshi which gets attacked by a gathering of wolves.  Atop one of the wolves rides a young girl named San as she seems to take great dislike to Eboshi and seems to have a deep loathing of humans.   Eboshi thanks Ashitaka and invites him to town, a town compromised of criminals, cutthroats, prostitutes and lepers.  Yes, welcome to Barter Town.  While they are lacking a Master Blaster, our hive of scum and villainy is tackling the forest gods by using firearms and gun powder to burn them down.

Ride like the wind!!!

With humanity encroaching on the forest without proper tribute to the gods, the times feel as though they are changing for the worse for nature.  A tale is spread throughout the land about the Boar God Okkoto, it is said that the god's head would give the one who possesses it immortality and long lived life.   Eboshi is determined to take Okkoto's head and gain favor to the Emperor to keep the Daimyo (robber barons or feudal lords) at bay and to never trifle with her affairs again.
San and Ashitaka decide they must join forces to battle the might of Eboshi's collective of lunatics and mercenaries in order to save the forest and preserve the life.  Perhaps he may even have time to find a cure for his demonic affliction.

Okay, I had a few observations on the film now.  Hayao Miyazaki hand drew more than 80,000 film frames of the 144,000 frames.   The English dubbing dialogue was adapted by novelist/comic book writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Neverwhere, MirrorMask, Stardust and American Gods) to make the translation as close as possible.  the production of this film's budget was $23.5 million making it the most expensive anime film that was made at the time.   Disney/Miramax released the film reluctantly because they were not allowed to edit or cut anything of the original print and one would almost conclude that out of spite, Disney/Miramax released the film stateside into fewer theaters than was promised.   My only real complaint of the film is I did not agree with the main characters' voice choice.

*snicker*  Sorry, it's the bamboo.  You look like a soggy wicker man.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Anime Week: Black Magic M-66

Welcome, welcome, welcome to Day 3 of Anime Week.  As I am attempting to stick to themes and genres of anime I thought now would be a good time to do a Sci-fi anime.  Yes, with its myriad of mechas, killer robots, star vessels and orbital platforms, science fiction gets a lot of love from Japanimation.   So it should not come as a surprise that this particular flick hails from the cyberpunk sub-genre manga called Black Magic M-66 created by writer/illustrator Masamune Shirow (Black Magic, Appleseed, Dominion, Ghost in the Shell and Orion) with what happens when technology you so willingly trusted with your very life takes a turn for the worse.  With that thought, you can only amaze the havoc that awaits.    This is Black Magic M-66

Sorry ma'am, no John Connors here.

Leaky: You're going after a story on the spoiler?  You're nuts!

With an aggressive android capable of moving at high speeds, agile, lethal in melee combat and packing an assortment of laser based weapons, nerve gas and an explosive core for self-destruct, it gets worse than that.  Imagine a machine capable of independent thought, tactics and strategy and will not be deterred from its objective.  That in mind, a freak lightning storm strikes the armored helicopter transport frying the pilots and causing the ride to go barreling down into a dense forest.  The android units emerge from their containment pods with the only mission parameter they know, which is a mission to find a specific target.  Their redundancy programs establish that this is their purpose for being and nothing stands in that way.   Hours later while the androids are on the move, two hunters in the woods find a Grizzly bear just smashed like a rag doll and even its thick and heavy paws are snapped and broken.   The units trail the men but they have an off-screen death to ratchet tension I suppose.  

Sir, I stepped in an exposition sinkhole.

We now get to meet Sybel, a freelance journalist with the typical anime girl build.  Yup that's right at least a large C to D cup and hourglass figure.  She pipes into a Military broadcast that an operation is underway and she grabs her cameras, tapes and cameraman Leaky to go investigate.  No sooner do they make it to the "toxic" crash site that the whole area has been sealed off by soldiers and cordoned off by trucks and men.

Tensions are a bit high in this partnership.

A Special Ops team lead by the Major, no other ID than that seems cool headed but realizes he is sending his men into a substantial forest against beings that are faster, stronger and many times more deadly than they.   With the use of massive electromagnet, the retrieval teams hope to capture and transport the M-66s with little to no fuss or muss.

I had a few quick comments on the film now.  With its fairly complex story with tech along you kind of have to go with the flow and not let your attention wander with this one, folks.  It is fast paced, hard hitting action and some nail biting moments worthy of Cameron's Terminator.  With 50 minutes on the clock you will squirm a bit in your seat waiting for the next explosion or possibly jump scare.  A fairly enjoyable movie is what it meant to me.

Form Voltron!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Anime Week: Blood: The Last Vampire

Welcome back readers of mine for Day 2 of Anime Week.  As promised, I am sticking solely with animated films rather than anything that spawned a series, mini-series or continuation of any sorts.  That in mind, we look at a film based on the manga work of writer Benkyo Tamaoki (The Sex Philes, Tokyo Red Hood and Necromansque) whose work was intriguing enough for director/writer Mamoru Oshii (Urusei Yatsura, Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, The Animatrix and Assault Girls) a man of anime and live-action movies to push Tamaoki's creature into the medium of anime.  This is Blood: The Last Vampire.

I fight evil with my fishing rod!

David: You SPOILER! Don't ever piss her off again! As far as we know, she's the only remaining original!

Now some of you are probably a bit huffy and point out I have already done Blood: The Last Vampire from one of my many vampire weeks.  Well, simmer down and I would point out that the film previously was the live-action version directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Formula 51, Freddy vs. Jason and Fearless) and while the subject matter is the same, the story varies only slightly.   The year is 1966 in Japan.  A girl name of Saya that looks of all of sixteen takes the subway where she dispatches a man in a suit with a katana that she believes to be a bat creature known as chiropterans.  Because schoolgirls always carry a 300 time folded uchigatana blade in the event of pervs.  Her handler David arrives to deal with the mess and remove the body.  It is eluded to that they may be CIA but never confirmed out right so take a guess.
From Saya's predatory instincts and hunches she tells David that the chiropterans have most likely already evaded Yokota Air Base and with Vietnam on the rise, the airbase is already twitchy enough but they are way out of their depths with beings of this nature.  They will come out of hiding, feed and then sink back into the dark depths and Saya will never have another shot at them so she volunteers to go undercover as a schoolgirl to better patrol the base grounds.  Top that, Buffy.

Saya's just fitting in at school.

Running into the school nurse, Makiho Amano when two of Saya's fellow classmates Sharon and Linda complain about a headache.  Naturally Amano preps the ibuprofen when Saya bursts into the office slicing Linda in twine and wounding Sharon revealing they are chiropterans and of course freaking the ever-loving crap out of Amano.  Saya ends up snapping her sword in the process due to its constant wear and tear and must fight these beasties with a broken blade or whatever is available.  Trust me when I say I think a tire iron or poker from a fireplace would be deadly in this girl's hands is not an exaggeration.   Can Saya defeat these monsters before the SPs wake the bloody hell up or will Japan be shrouded in their eternal darkness for generations to come?

I just had a few fun facts about the film at this time.   Blood is the first completely digitally animated anime from Japan.  Due to a ridiculous time table and money not fully available this was supposed to be a 3 part story but instead got theater distribution instead as a full feature.  The interesting thing about this film is there is no English or Japanese version as at least 3 of the voice actor switch from Japanese to English depending on whom they are speaking to.  

This one manga spawned a series of light novels, a video game for the PSP, an animated series called Blood C to compliment our film of the day but that is another story and time.

Chiropterans secretly bomb Cambodia while maintaining plausible denability..

Monday, May 12, 2014

Anime Week: Akira

Welcome to Anime Week boys and girls!!  We will begin with a controversial title that rocked the nations with its cyberpunk look, feel and dark premise to how the world will progress.   Yes, I am not referring to Pokemon.   That is a whole other kettle of fish to contend with.  I speak of the popular manga turned anime Akira.   With this intense saga of violence, the struggle for power and the corruption of the human soul, this story brought amazing visuals and a complex story was well captured on cell.  This is Akira.

The apocalypse came as we always knew it would. The Cubs won the Pennant.
Tetsuo: Twin ceramic rotor drives on each spoiler!   And these look like computer controlled anti-lock brakes! Wow, 200 horses at 12,000 rpm!

Created from the Manga (Japanese graphic novel) by writer/illustrator Katsuhiro Otomo (A Gun Report, Short Peace Peace, Highway Star, Hippa: The Little Vampire and Park)Akira lasting from 1982 to 1990 and creating more than 6 volumes brings us a similar vision in the small cell screen of the same name.

Our story begins in 1988, when a nuclear explosion destroys the better chunk of Tokyo inviting the beginning of World War III.   By the year 2019, Neo-Toyko is a wasteland of anti-government hysteria, bosozku (tribal biker gangs) and people simply getting by day to day.  Shotaro Kaneda is the leader of the Capsules in constant conflict with a rival gang known as the Clowns.   Guess the Jokers was too on the nose and DC comics would have gone crackers over it.   Kaneda's best friend Tetsuo almost runs down an esper (psionically powered being) Takashi who escaped from a secret government lab sprung by an revolutionary group of underground freedom fighters.  No sooner does that occur, heavily armed soldiers tracking Takashi scoop him up along with Tetsuo after a small firefight.  Kaneda and his whole crew get rousted and interrogated for hours to no avail because the gang has no idea what is going on.    

Let's do some crimes, man!

The military head figure Colonel Shikishima and Doctor Onishi realize that Tetsuo has the same level of psionics that to the esper Akira who gave birth to World War III and they want to either lock down his powers or outright kill the boy before Neo-Tokyo suffers a similar fate.  With martial law declared the Colonel preps block to block searches for Tetsuo and his girlfriend Kaori.   Kandea and Capsules are in deep conflict with the Clowns when Tetsuo unleashes a psychokinetic wave that devastates both gangs and starts tearing up the land.  Kandea has no choice but to join forces with the revolutionaries to bring his former friend down before there is no city left to save.

Just a few tidbits on the overall vibe of this film.  To create this film over 2,000 shots and 160,000 single cell pictures were drawn using over 327 different colors.  The interesting part of this all is the better portion of this film takes place at night, which most animators avoid like the plague due to the increased color requirements.  

Otomo's creation of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo has brought about future similar such stories such as: Demon City Shinjuko, Bubblegum Crisis and A.D. Police mixing the aftermath of the world before and the cyberpunk genre.    The themes Otomo's stories displayed where the awkward social isolation, government corruption and totalitarian concepts.

My side! Your side! MY SIDE! YOUR SIDE!

Anime Week!

Okay boys and girls, I got a decent request that did NOT involve Troma movies, slasher flicks or some obscure Japanese torture movie.  My best friend Shawn approached me with a nice simplistic idea of doing an Anime Week.  So the next five days we will tackle a plethora of anime movies of different genre.  Oh yes, there are sub genres in the anime world as you would come to expect.  A novel concept in of itself given the mass collection of Japan-animation my girlfriend Janine and I have collectively.  

Hmm, must be one of those kid kites I have heard so much about.

This of course means we will be ranging from anything to comedic standing, action, some sci-fi and even maybe a horror or two.  As always, I will do my level best to keep it PG-13 in both description and visual.  
 This particular animation process began as far back as 1934 due to the light shading process and multiple drawings creating movement that was fluid and coherent.

Sir, the weather seems a bit rough!

From the success of Gigantor, Astro Boy and Captain Harlock, the 1980's became flooded by it in the states receiving English dubbed versions of Voltron, Transformers and Robotech.   Shows like Shadowhawks, Thundercats and G.I. Joe started hiring out artists from Japan to produce the same quality work and thus animation in the states has never been the same since.  Whether the shading is as intense offering greater definition, comical expression or a battle royale with the forces of good and evil, Japanimation has altered cartoons.