Monster (2018) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

A film student is walking on a thin line between being free or being sent to jail for many years.

A movie with a great cast, but had mediocre end results.

Performances throughout ranged from decent to good. The standouts to me were Steven Harmon (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Mr. Harmon (played by Jeffery Wright). The scene with the two talking to each other was an emotional one especially when Mr. Harmon looked as though he was about to burst into tears, but he kept a calm and collective composure.

For the rest of the characters, while the movie featured an assortment of actors/actresses (Jennifer Hudson, Tim Blake Nelson, John David Washington, A$AP Rocky, Nas, Jharrel Jerome), they didn’t offer much when it came to complexity. They all gave fine performances, but there wasn’t a whole a lot of time or development for me to gravitate toward. That feeling fell in line some with Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Jeffery Wright.

The best example of this were the prison scenes. I didn’t feel the journey or pain that Steve was going through because of how the film was edited together. The movie was 98 minutes long, to which I feel was a tad short. If the movie was 10 or 15 minutes longer, I might have gotten more invested. With the prison scenes, there needed to be more scenes involving Nas being Steve’s emotional anchor. He was sorely underused. That unfortunately transcended onto the other high-profile figures like John David Washington and Jharrel Jerome, who were pretty much there and gone after a couple scenes. No offense to them, they can do phenomenal stuff, but here I don’t believe it was warranted.

One aspect I liked was during one of the film school sessions when Tim Blake Nelson was talking about how people have different perspectives when viewing any feature. That goes very parallel to what was happening in the courtroom scenes. People were watching the same event unfold in front of their eyes, but they all have varying opinions of what they think. People have their own mindset on how the world works around them. Something that Steve knew full well and that made him very nervous for all the right reasons. I liked the back and forth struggle that he was dealing with. Should he continue fighting and prove he’s not guilty or should he accept the harsh reality and give in to the consequences?

How the film was edited, shot, and arranged left me mixed. There were some nice shots here and there. But, the movie would jump from scene to scene or from location to location, thus hindering any kind of character development or emotional connection. Pacing was all over the place. There was a weird moment where tones clashed with one another. For example in the first courtroom scene, there was upbeat drums playing and one was supposed to feel bad for Steve. But the gray/dull look of the courtroom, the up-tempo music, and when Paul Ben-Victor called Steve a monster, I don’t know why but I laughed. Again, I’m supposed to feel bad, but the last two elements really hurt that scene for me due to it being tonally off and the execution of the dialogue.

While not bad, it was pretty average to say the least. A shame because with a really good cast like the one presented, one would have expected something good. The potential was there, but if there was more room to breathe, maybe the movie could have been something worthwhile. In the end, it didn’t really leave much of an impact for me.

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Godzilla vs Kong (2021) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

Two of the biggest monster stars in the world come back after nearly 60 years.

Offers the best and worst of the MonsterVerse.

The movie was definitely the most ambitious out of the MonsterVerse as far as the visuals. Being hinted at in the previous entry, this one finally dived into the Hollow Earth. When it came to the entrance, which was very trippy and hypnotic, the environments and the creatures that lived in it, it was all very cool and fascinating. Easily my favorite section of the movie because its something one hasn’t seen in a kaiju movie for quite some time. It’s also something new for Kong, who has always fought in environments such as Skull Island or the City. Seeing him floating up in the air to land on the ceiling as the gravity reversed, was definitely something worth seeing.

The mythology on how Titans operate in the world was, interesting. The whole coliseum, church, or kingdom bit added layers on how the Titans get together to serve whoever the King or Queen of the Monsters was. The thought of the monsters sitting down and cheering on whoever is on the throne is kind of silly, but it is unique and I wish it wasn’t destroyed in the end. Because I would have liked to have seen that unfold in the future. I mean the scale of the palace was massive. Kong himself was the size of a human entering inside. That was how massive it was.

The effects were executed very well. The level of detail within the Hollow Earth was great. The detail on all of the monsters/creatures presented were really good. The designs of the Hollow Earth animals were, for the most part, good. I liked the Warbat and the Hellhawks and how they interacted with Kong and the humans.

For the fights between Godzilla and Kong, in my opinion, the best out of the MonsterVerse. For starters, one could see clearly what was happening and the cinematography in these scenes were really good to get one up-close to the action. There was a point or two where it felt liked I was on a rollercoaster. There wasn’t too much cutting away to the humans, as the movie would do a good job at keeping the focus on what was important.

The fights themselves were amazing and memorable, especially the Hong Kong fight. The city was so cool with the neon lights, reminding one of “Pacific Rim.” The fight itself had many memorable moments. Godzilla shooting Kong out of the sky with his atomic breath, Godzilla shooting his atomic breath while Kong dodges it, Kong using smarts to get the drop on Godzilla, and while I’m questioning Godzilla evilly laughing, I kind of liked it. It did add character and personality. The part where it climaxed and where I really started to feel the brutality was when both monsters starting clawing at each other and breaking each other’s bones. The sound of the bones popping out of the sockets really took me by surprise. All of this ends with a a glorious moment when the two roar in each other’s face. So good. My adrenaline was pumping. However, that would very, very soon, drop, dramatically, unfortunately. Mechagodzilla. (Slow clap)

Now, I don’t hate MG. I dug the Showa, Millennium, and also the one used in “Ready Player One.” It’s not the worst, nothing can top the anime. But the design overall was alright. What’s interesting was the director of the movie, Adam Wingard, recently said in an interview that he didn’t want the design to evoke similar vibes to the modern Transformers. (Me looking at MG and the Dinobots). Yeah, yeah, I think a redesign was surely needed. I wished it had more of the Toho feel instead of being heavily inspired by the many robotic characters used in American action movies today.

His presence in the movie was not needed in my eyes. The fight itself, between him, Godzilla and Kong, was not enjoyable as the previous two. It seemed like the film knew it wasn’t that interesting as it would cut away to the humans more than a few times. MG was too OP when fighting Godzilla. Though to be fair Godzilla was still healing from his fight with Kong. But why didn’t MG use that OPness toward Kong? I guess MG wanted to play things soft and die fairly fast from Kong’s axe.

I wanted the movie focused on Godzilla and Kong. But no instead the movie wanted to take pointers from “Batman V Superman.” A movie that failed Warner Brothers financially with its historic second weekend at the time. MG was pretty much Doomsday, uninteresting and albeit, boring. Honestly I wished the movie would have gone the route of MG being controlled by the Ghidorah brain. Sure it would lessen the Godzilla identity, but it would have been quite a spin at least. MG needed to be saved for something later down the line. Though, with the case of the MonsterVerse, it’s unknown. Which was why I guess Wingard believed it was a good idea to make the film feel like it was the last.

I mentioned the Hollow Earth stadium getting destroyed and their others too. The movie would make references to the past MonsterVerse films a fair number of times and they were neat to see, as well as the references to the Toho movies. During the opening credits, I noticed X’s being laid out on top of the monsters seen from “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Did the Titan plague sweep the planet? I’m aware tie-in comics exist, but for average movie-goers, they wouldn’t know and ask questions like that one. What happened during the five-year gap? Are Godzilla and Kong the only surface Kaiju? I mean I’m sure they’re not, but the film doesn’t really bring forth that notion. The whole vibe I got, from all of this, was that movie was being this grand conclusion to the MonsterVerse. Though with the terrible and very abrupt ending, I wish it was handled a lot better. These decisions honestly made me feel like the writers written themselves in a corner. Because what happens if the movie is successful and the franchise wants to continue, then what?

When it came to the humans, they were alright. The same went for their performances. The best I would say was Jia. Her relationship with Kong brought the most emotion to the movie and it was not too bad. I liked the parallels the two had and I wished it was explored visually rather than being told. The worst and most pointless was Ren Serizawa. I mean the movie truly butchered the character, especially since he was the son of Ishiro Serizawa. Which granted he wasn’t a great character, but had interesting moments here and there. But it was an absolute waste for him in this movie. I mean the potential was there, but it was never reached, at all. The comic-relief character of Bernie Hayes, played by Brian Tyree Henry, offered some funny bits and I did get a chuckle.

I really wanted to like the movie more. I mean it offered the best fights, the best effects, and the best visuals out of the MonsterVerse. Though if it is going to be last, then why did the movie have to feel like the last? Warner Brothers wish to honor the “greatness” that was “Batman V Superman” and transfer that success here. It was too big for its britches, there was material that was definitely unneeded/needed, and there were a couple times where it didn’t know what kind of story it wanted to tell. While the movie did exceed in some areas, the original is still a classic and will never be beaten.

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King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) Review


Kong is transported to Japan to be a mascot for a pharmaceutical company; though things take a turn when Kong frees himself and does battle with the King of the Monsters himself, Godzilla.

A classic and epic kaiju movie back then. A classic and epic kaiju movie now.

The film started off well as one was introduced to the characters and the main drive that put the plot forward in motion. Firstly, the human character that stole the show was the company leader himself, Mr. Tako. In the many scenes he was present in, he was so eccentric in his plan of wanting Kong so badly that it was hilarious at times. It was funny seeing him fuming over Godzilla getting all the attention as opposed to Kong. As well as the bit of him screaming for Kong to win when he and Godzilla first meet. The rest of the human characters were fine. Comparing the Japanese actors and American actors, was like day and night. The latter felt like they weren’t even trying to put the effort. Not the worst, but very bland.

Revisiting the movie made me realize that there was pretty comedic bits here and there. As I said, Mr. Tako stole the show. But there were other moments that made me laugh quite a bit. There was the scene where the characters of Osamu and Kinsaboro were impressing the Faroe Island Natives with a radio and handing them all cigarettes. The two give an eager native child one until his mother from behind grabbed it out of his hand. There was Kinsaboro being paranoid while walking through the island jungle. It reached a peak when he was swinging around a giant lizard. After the first encounter, Kong scratched his head and walked away upon realizing Godzilla breathed atomic breath. It goes to show that the entertainment factor wasn’t just in the action.

As far as the monsters go, they were really good. Godzilla did appear derpy and this iteration did the famous hand-clapping moments, but the design overall I dug, one of the favorites. Kong was similar with his derpiness, but I liked it as well. Definitely better than the design used in “King Kong Escapes.”

On their own, the two had some nice action and destruction scenes. Though I think Kong outdid Godzilla with the 1933 homages being executed on-screen. Kong grabbing the train from the tracks, picking up Fumiko, and climbing the tallest building. One must keep in mind that Kong hadn’t been a movie since 1933, so it was rightly appropriate for Toho to familiarize audiences with the 8th Wonder. The shot of him standing on top of the capitol building was a cool one. As well as some good perspective shots whenever he and Godzilla were in the countryside wreaking everything in their path.

Now, the fights. The first encounter hadn’t nothing much to it. Though as I mentioned, Kong had a funny moment of him walking away. He thought he was going to be battling a regular dinosaur until Godzilla pulled out his signature weapon. The second encounter and final battle, was legendary. It’s one of the best and most memorable. So many classic moments from the fight to choose from. Kong shoving a tree down Godzilla’s throat, Godzilla battering a down Kong, Kong receiving an energy boost from lightning, Godzilla/Kong jumping off the cliff and into the ocean, etc. An excellent fight that wasn’t too short or too long. It gave one just what they want to be rightfully satisfied. Even if the outcome is sorely debated to this day, the fight itself can surely leave a massive impression.

Composer Akira Ifukube did great with one of the best themes in the Godzilla franchise. Though I wished he would composed the soundtrack with more originality. As the main theme was eerily similar to the theme that played while Kong was falling asleep.

While Faroe Island had some decent sets and practical effects, I wished the island itself was explored more. Especially when it came to the fauna. It felt lifeless and it evoked similar vibes to the 1976 remake of “King Kong.” I feel as though Kong should have had a grander entrance. I mean fighting an octopus I feel is not a good intro, the fight itself was one would expect, lackluster. However I do feel bad for the animal being eaten by the filmmakers behind the scenes. Godzilla’s entrance of him coming out of the ice in the beginning was cool, no pun intended. But similarly to Kong, I feel like his solo scenes needed to be better worked on. It had been 7 years since “Godzilla Raids Again” and I think Toho gave him the short end of the stick.

Some of the dialogue can be a little clunky. Kong getting electrical powers was hokey. It be fitting for the “Frankenstein Monster,” who was originally supposed to take Kong’s role. But hey, Kong went full beast mode when he received the power of Zeus. So I’m not complaining too much. There were moments of poor editing where the film would either cut or transition within the same scene. The plot itself was ridiculous and outlandish. But upon reading director Honda’s motives on the themes of television adverts, I can understand where he was coming from. As there is truth to this. Companies will sometimes go far and beyond to get as many viewers and good press as possible to keep their business afloat.

If you’re a kaiju/giant monster fan who hasn’t seen this movie, where have you been? It is a great movie with nice humor, really good music, and memorable monster action that defies the word, classic. Highly recommend it.

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

A team of heroes have to join together to stop the takeover of Earth from a ruthless alien being.

Better than the theatrical version? yes. Everything else? Eh.

Characterizations have improved for certain characters. The best and most notable examples include Cyborg and the Flash. Their backstories were sorely needed in the previous version. Zack did the job right at adding layers to the hollow characters, especially for Cyborg and the strained relationship with his father. I think it was right to see the character’s journey after the fiasco going on behind the scenes regarding the actor Ray Fisher.

When it came to the other characters, they stayed more or less the same. Some characters got a bit more development than their previous iterations. Though honestly if some of them weren’t inserted, nothing much would have changed. The rest of the League get additional scenes and there was moments of good. Sometimes they added necessary context to further expand the world like Wonder Woman telling the historic Darkseid invasion and the Mother Boxes to Batman. Sometimes it was kind of cringe like the awkward moment of Batman and Wonder Woman’s hands accidently touching.

Lois Lane had nice scenes of lamenting her loss of Superman. Steppenwolf, still not that interesting of a villain, but this version seemed more evil and ruthless than the prior. Martian Manhunter was neat to see, but was ultimately pointless. I’m not sure why he had to change into Martha Kent to talk to Lois. Zack could have easily had the real Martha talk to Lois. Superman wearing the black suit was needless. There was no point other than to show it off as cool looking for the audience. Seeing Darkseid’s film debut was pretty cool and I wish Apokolips was seen more. The nightmare scenes in the end were fair. My main problem with it was the production which looked cheap compared to the rest of the movie. Which I’ll talk about more later. The saving grace was the Joker. Jared Leto redeemed itself for sure. His mannerisms and speech felt more joker-esque and no “Suicide Squad” impressions were utilized which was good.

Scenes in the Joss Whedon cut that made one ask questions, were for the most part resolved. The ones I can think of were Batman telling the Flash to save one when confronting Steppenwolf. Instead of one, everyone was saved. When a revived Superman starts walking toward Batman, it isn’t just Wonder Woman, but the rest of the league go in and try to halt him.

Speaking of action, I will say it was improved. The Wonder Woman fight toward the beginning was an exhilarating rush, as to was Batman luring the parademons in his batmobile. The action in the climax was backed up by some very nice and stunning visuals.

As for the effects, they were mixed. There were times one can tell a green screen was used and the CG appeared a little fake. The redesign of Steppenwolf was an interesting take. Definitely more monstrous than the prior. His armor was, again, interesting. I like how unique it was, but at the same time, it seemed like there was too much going on whenever it was vibrating or moving on its own. Going back to the nightmare scenes in the last act, these were easily the worst in terms of the production and effects. Though I guess I can’t be too mean seeing as Zack shot the scenes in his backyard.

Again, Cyborg and the Flash had the best in terms of visuals. Diving into the cyberworld within Cyborg’s mind was cool seeing. The speed scenes with the Flash were nicely done, to which it reached a peak of “2001: A Space Odyssey” vibes in the climax. The Flash running faster than the speed of light was the best visual spectacle in the movie. I loved it whenever the ground or reality itself was reshaping in front of the Flash after each step.

Certain music was really good. The Wonder Woman theme was still a head-banger. I liked the rock theme that played during the first League/Steppenwolf fight. The Flash’s faster than light scene had a big and cinematic-type choir that was great.

Now while there were improvements over the Whedon version, I will have to admit there were things in there I wish were present in here. When it came to the tone, it was suitable. Not as dark and brooding as “Batman V Superman,” but it would have been worth it to include a joke or two from Whedon’s film. For me I actually didn’t mind the exchange of dialogue when Superman was choking Batman. Excluding the cheesy “do you bleed?” line, everything before that I kind of liked. It would have been a neat little tie-in to the conversation between Batman and Joker. But yes, looking back at Whedon, the cheese factor was sometimes a bit much in certain areas. Not overboard, but it did make that film feel tonally off. Zack’s take was somewhat of a medium, though toward the dark latter. There also seemed to be a little more interplay between the members before reviving Superman in there than here.

With everything Zack did to create his version of the JL, ultimately the results were roughly the same as Whedon. In that the story and plot were pretty basic and was predictable in a lot of ways. The dialogue was fixed some, but a lot of it was not made too interesting. Like I said prior, some of the characters do receive more scenes and characterizations, though it came off as basic. The members initially don’t want to join, but over the course of the film they all will eventually ban together to stop the 2D villain. If Zack’s version was released back in 2017, it would have been the same. DC trying too hard to compete with Marvel and squeezing every single hero into one movie where they didn’t have any previous development beforehand.

I will say this, I do have a little respect for Zack. He is a director that I don’t personally like. But after watching this, I do commend him some for working hard to get his version of the JL released for the world. It was a project not only to please fans of his, but also as a tribute to his late daughter. The cover of “Hallelujah” playing in the end credits was heartwarming. So yeah, if you’re a fan of Zack, you’ll definitely love it. For me, the verdict is better, but about the same as Whedon’s; with some new stuff that were cool and well-deserving and new stuff that either wasn’t necessary, pointless, or needed to be better ironed out.

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