King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) Review

RATING: 4/5

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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Wonder Woman 84 (2020)

RATING: 1.5/5

Wonder Woman’s journey to discover herself is pressured when a great force comes to show her deepest desires.

Wasn’t much a fan of the first one, but I thought it was decent nonetheless. However its leagues (no pun intended) better than its sequel.

The initial twenty minutes I have to say were a good introduction. There were a good introduction on how things were going downhill when it came to the pacing, narrative, acting, etc. The two intros, including the Themyscira Olympics and the heroic saves by Wonder Woman, dragged for quite a while. I mean I was stunned for how disinterested I was. The Olympics scene felt like it should have been placed in the first movie. Sure it included the one theme/message that will come back toward the end, but the whole scene went on too long. In addition it included a certain Golden Armor that doesn’t pay off greatly in the climax. It looked cool, but honestly it could have been any special Amazonian weapon/artifact and it would have made the same, unimpactful difference. The heroic saves weren’t any better. As it included some pretty bad acting especially from the mall robbers. The movie should have skipped or cut out sections from these scenes.

Continuing on with the acting, it was pretty mixed. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was still good. As too was Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor. So the heroes were good, but the villains were a different story. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord was fine and he certainly did bring some entertainment factor. Because of that there should have been just one antagonist, as opposed to two. Kristen Wiig as Cheetah did alright. Her initial goofy and nerdy personality got old and annoying real fast. Her transformation into a more dominant and fearsome persona wasn’t anything special. Or original in that it took cues from “Batman Returns.” In the long run I didn’t really care for the character. To which I think the movie itself had the same feeling as the character just outright vanished with no mention after the climax. Her goofiness in the scenes discovering her newfound powers didn’t offer a chuckle in the slightest. In fact, a lot of the humor didn’t land. Whether it was from scenes with Cheetah or Steve Trevor being fascinated with the 80s.

In terms of the scope, the sequel looked and felt bigger than its predecessor. I think it boiled down to some really good cinematography and nice, colorful visuals. When the world was falling apart with the abundance of wishes, the movie showcased impressive panning and wide shots, to really capture the magnitude and severity of the situation. Riots broke out, people panicking, looting, nukes flying, it all around madness. The movie brought the feelings of 2020 as a whole in those scenes. Though the bigness didn’t leave much of an impact sadly. A majority of the film felt flat due to the slow pacing, long runtime, and uninteresting dialogue. Situations more or less happened and that was it.

But beyond the chaos, there were other scenes of interest that looked cool. Lord in the climax being the center while a windy vortex encircled him and a scene where Wonder Woman began to fly for the first time. On a visual standpoint, the latter was the one that stood out to me the most. I believe it was the case because it reminded me of “Superman (78).” Colors were sparkling and popping. There was almost a majestic or mythical feel, which made sense considering the background behind the character of Wonder Woman. Unfortunately if one were to look at the context when it related to the film as a whole, it made no sense whatsover. The rest of the visuals sometimes looked awkward. The best example was Wonder Woman running straight at the camera in the chase scene in Egypt. There was a film grain used in some scenes. But for the most part it was pointless as a lot of scenes didn’t have that filter.

Narratively speaking, there were a number of unexplained things or plot holes littered throughout. As I mentioned earlier, after the climax Cheetah, even after reverting back to her human form, was never mentioned again. The unexplained connection between the bank robbers and Lord? Lord finding out about the crystal entirely? Wonder Woman being able to fly so suddenly and not using it for the rest of the DCEU? Cheetah, figuring out Diana’s identity so suddenly? Granted it could be refreshing but it didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Wonder Woman getting weaker? From what I could gather, the crystal was stripping her powers and transferring it to Cheetah. To which I say why does this need to happen? Can’t the crystal duplicate the powers without making Wonder Woman vulnerable. In the climax, how is Lord granting all the wishes with no physical contact as seen prior throughout the film? How is Wonder Woman able to talk to the world with Lord and her lasso as a transmitter? How is Lord not bleeding excessively from the hundreds of wishes? What happened to the crystal after all the wishes were renounced? Why does Steve Trevor need to take over another man’s body to come back?

There were so many plot holes and unexplained things that disrupted the plot. It was also why those things kind of, in some way, ruin some continuity with the rest of the DCEU.

The mid-credits scene featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, which was extremely bitter sweet. Emphasis on bitter because her cameo in this movie truly hurt.

A disappointing sequel and one of the worst, if not the worst of the DCEU films. A few performances were good, some visuals were beautiful, and the cinematography at times was nicely done. A longer runtime doesn’t always make a film feel or look grandiose. It can also lead to a project that can feel dull, flat, and uninteresting by the end. A major misstep and I’m curious of what Wonder Woman 3 will be like. Hopefully, a positive overhaul is enforced.

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Run (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

[SPOILERS]

A wheelchair-bound teen suffering from numerous medical conditions, gets a sense of unease for how her mother treats her.

“Searching” director Aneesh Chaganty continues greatly with his thriller talents.

Performances in the film were really good.

Actress Sarah Paulson delivered in portraying a creepy and threatening mother (Diane). Who would do anything to keep her daughter safe and protected under her.

Actress Kiera Allen, who played the daughter (Chloe), was an interesting character. In the film, her character was portrayed as being smart and it truly showed. She was pretty resourceful in trying to escape her mother. Especially with the scene with her crawling on the roof while having her tools. The fact that she was suffering from all sorts of illnesses and disabilities, added layers in making one care for her so much. One slip-up, fall, or a shortness of breath, would have meant doom for her.

Just like with the movie “Searching,” Chaganty did very well at keeping one invested in the characters and story being shown. The snowball effect was handled nice in showcasing bits of information from Chloe trying to unravel the truth. Pieces were effectively shown while not fully revealed until the basement scene before the climax.

Suspense was definitely present in a number of scenes. One would be edge on what the mother would do with her daughter being extra sneaky. In particular in one scene where the mother was sitting still at the kitchen table as she watched her daughter on the computer. That moment was very creepy.

Speaking of the computer, there was a nice little Easter egg regarding the movie “Searching.” With the Microsoft logo appearing while the computer turned on.

Once the truth bomb of Diane not being the biological parent of Chloe hit, one felt a bit of sorrow and understood where the mother was coming from. Though that didn’t phase Chloe for one bit, from there the momentum built until the end.

The one film that this shared the most in common with was “Misery.” The comparisons were strong. But that wasn’t a bad thing. “Run” played things differently with the wheelchair-bound protagonist and again, there were additional layers to her that made one fear for her even more I think.

As far as the PG-13 rating, I don’t think it was too much of a fault. This was a good example of a thriller with that rating that worked. But there were moments where it unfortunately showed. There were a couple times where the dialogue or acting did get cheesy. It broke some of the tension for me. The best example where I rolled my eyes was when Chloe cussed and the scene cut before she finished. That kind of thing I’ve seen in some movies and it’s not warranted. Only in trailers and even there sometimes it’s not warranted.

I thought the number of diseases Chloe had seemed much. I say only two of the ailments were notably used while the rest were hardly utilized, except in the opening montage.

After Chloe finds out that Diane was not her mother, she for some reason still calls her mom. I feel at that point she shouldn’t be calling her that. Now in the revenge motive in the end scene was fine and it worked. But earlier I felt that she should not be saying that word.

Chaganty showcases for his second feature film, that he can direct and write really good thrillers. The performances were great from the two main leads and tension and suspense were effective at keeping one locked on the screen. Highly recommend it.

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