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

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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Nacho Libre (2006) Review

RATING: 3/5

A monk skips his church duties to become a luchador, in order to make sure the orphans have a better life.

Real soft spot this one has on me.

The movie, revolved around Jack Black. Without him, I’m unsure if the movie would have still worked. Black was a complete joy to watch. Delivering such memorable moments and quotable quotes. The stretchy pants, the corn-smacking, eagle eggs, all of that was pretty funny.

As far as the rest of the cast, it was hit or miss, mostly miss. Outside of Nacho, his sidekick Stephen was certainly funny in some scenes. Especially when he screamed like a girl while in the ring. He didn’t deliver as much memorable material as Nacho, but still earned a place. When it came to the other characters, there were scattered comedic moments, but a big problem with them was that there was very little in terms of their personality. The movie didn’t go in-depth with them or make one care about them in the end.

There was good music presented. Like the opening song “Hombre Religioso (Religious Man)” by Mister Loco and of course, “EncarnaciĆ³n,” sung by Jack Black himself. Lots of the songs fit the movie in terms of tone, mood, and the location for where the film was shot.

The film did display some nice cinematography. One got to see some beautiful wide shots of the Oaxaca landscapes. There was good framing whenever the church/orphanage were pictured. Colors were popping and radiating from the screen. Which it should seeing that the sport of “Lucha Libre” shown was all flash and show.

Now with the Luchador scenes, I say there was some good choregraphed moves. My favorite was when Nacho and Stephen were fighting those two lion-gremlin luchadores. As mentioned prior, the girlish screams from Stephen were funny, as well as the dirty moves done by or done to Nacho. That’s not to say there wasn’t any bad choreography. There were times where one can clearly see the punches and kicks didn’t land. There were points of sloppy editing where it can ruin the pace and flow. In particular the Battle Royale scene where there was so much fighting happening all at once.

While I did like the film utilizing its practical stunts and effects, the couple times where CGI was used was an eyesore. I mean the scenes which it was used was understandable, but the quality of it was noticeable. I’ve watched the movie quite a few times and only now I’m just seeing it.

The execution of the plot was beat-for-beat. It followed the “liar reveal” tropes. I would say “School of Rock” handled it better. The character progressions were choppy. In the climax, Nacho got stronger through the power of love, friendship, and convenience, while the Ramses guy got weaker in a fraction of a second. Stephen was Nacho’s yes man for a majority and he received a rapid change of heart on orphans. Like the editing, the pacing and flow of the plot was scattered.

Despite a plentiful of flaws the movie threw, on a personal level there’s a special place in my heart for it. The awkward, quirky, crude, and ridiculous nature definitely won me over. Black owned the movie and it’s hard to imagine the film without him. It’s also hard to imagine that the film was inspired loosely by the story of “Fray Tormenta.” A priest who spent many years as a Luchador to raise money for the orphans he was caring. While the movie doesn’t do that the real-life story any justice, it was still enjoyable and fun to watch. For me there’s a good-size rewatchability factor. I recommend it for sure.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A supernatural character haunts the dreams of teens to exact his revenge.

A slasher, at the time, that definitely took the genre to new areas.

The character of Freddy Kruger was something special. Robert Englund delivered a performance that only he could pull off for a character like this. Unlike Jason, Michael, and Leatherface, the character was given words to say and the manner he delivered them fit well. A dark, sinister, and black-comedic performance definitely gave this slasher an edge in personality.

As far as his design, easily recognizable. Now I do want to bring up “New Nightmare (1994),” for the Freddy design in that movie was originally going to be used here; while I do like that look more, the look here was still something I enjoyed. I love the knife glow aesthetic and the burnt appearance. It for sure had nightmare-type qualities, which was good for terrorizing the dreams in the teens.

When it came to the rest of the characters, they weren’t bad. In fact, like in “Halloween (1978),” there was some likability for the teen characters. I like the character of Nancy, as she was unraveling the truth behind what was going on and her plans in stopping Freddy. The history of what went down told by her mother was interesting in gaining insight of what happened and where it eventually led to. And, of course, this was the movie that introduced the public to one of the most popular actors working today, Johnny Depp. Now with most debuts, I’m not expecting hugely awesome performances. His performance, as Glen, was not bad. As I said, there’s likability with him especially when trying to help his girlfriend Nancy.

Now the one element that set the movie apart from slashers at the time, were the supernatural elements. To which I would say it was rather mixed. The film played games of reality to the viewer. Like a person wouldn’t know they were watching a dream as they assumed it was real. I say some of the transitions between the real world and dreams worked rather seamlessly. Primarily when it came to the character Tina walking out of her home and confronting Freddy in the alley. I would say the transitions worked in the first and third act. But for the second, the transitions felt abrupt. Thus I knew right away that I was in a dream.

When it came to the look or the effects done for the dream sequences, again, it was rather mixed. There was really cool effects that fit the dream and supernatural atmosphere. Like when Tina was forcefully being dragged up the wall and onto the ceiling in her room. Freddy pushing against the wall as he watched Nancy sleeping. The jet column of blood shooting out from the bed. These were done very well.

Where it did lose me was the look of the dreams. Thankfully the sequels did a better job at creating some wacky and distorted imagery as what dreams should be like. But in the first film, it felt lacking. The creativity was sorely missing, as the sets appeared very much like the real-world with little change.

The story of how Freddy turned from a human to a dream demon was never explained. Neither was why he was doing the things he was doing. But for the “why,” one could dive deeper to gain a feel when the backstory was being said. So for that, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t explained directly. Though the “how,” I felt that was something New Line Cinema did to bait the audience for sequels, to come and watch until the sixth installment for actual explanation. Which can be a tad annoying sometimes for other franchises. Going back to “explained directly,” the plot did feel predictable. The moment Glen told Nancy about how to conquer monsters in dreams, I knew exactly how the movie was going to end.

While I did like Freddy, his agenda in the movie was scattered. Specifically for how he approached Nancy. My main issue was why he didn’t kill Nancy earlier on. There were many opportunities for him to do so. There was a time where he actually scratched Nancy’s arm, but he doesn’t kill her. For other slashers, one “could” make a “valid argument” as to why the killers didn’t straight up kill the final girl. But here, it felt more in one’s face.

Something worth noting was that the scare factor wasn’t there for me. There were creepy moments; the best one had to have been the dream scenes revolving Tina. But I wasn’t on edge as say “Friday the 13th (1980)” or “Halloween (1978).” It kept my interest throughout, but I didn’t get any chills. An aspect that could possibly tie to the pacing, which felt quick for me. It took some time to establish a setting or environment, but not enough to really let the ambience or atmosphere envelope me.

An interesting and refreshing take on the slasher genre for the time. The film had good performances, showcased an iconic horror villain, the plot was intriguing, it had some creep value, and delivered some cool effects. However the movie was bogged down by some lack of creativity, the intriguing plot had questionable elements, and some of the slasher tropes felt more apparent here than others. But still, if one hasn’t watched this classic, give it a watch. One won’t be disappointed.

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