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My Year with Godzilla
Week 30: 'Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II' [1993]
Is Godzilla in it? Yes.
Sub or Dub? Sub

Godzilla: Radioactive Monster. Force of Nature. Foster Parent.

The UN have decided to be proactive. Utilizing parts from Mecha-King Ghidorah (from 'Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah'), they create two giant robots - Garuda and Mechagodzilla. When an egg is discovered on another distant island, both Godzilla and old foe Rodan show up to battle it out. Later still, when the egg hatches to produce a Baby Godzilla, Godzilla's maternal/paternal instincts kick in. Mix in some more psychic linking and you have another ho-hum kaiju adventure. With robots.

I enjoy watching the old series of 'Man v Food' with Adam Richman. The spicy challenges are fun, but I especially enjoy the extra-extra large portions of delicious food. With this self-imposed challenge of watching every Godzilla film within a year, I'm beginning to feel what it must be like to take part in a 'Man v Food' episode. It starts off OK, as the food looks good and is tasty. Then things start to go downhill. The food looks less appetizing. It's a struggle to swallow. Every bite feels the same. 

I think I have Godzilla Fatigue. I almost had to force myself to watch 'Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II' last night, and it was not an easy watch. The film starts well - I liked the exposition regarding the manufacture of the mechas, and Masahiro Takashima (whom I last saw in 'Yamato Takeru') is a beguiling lead. I was even slightly buoyed when Rodan showed up, though disgruntled that he looked different (no suit, just puppet). By the time that Baby Godzilla appeared, however, I was sinking fast.

'Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II' is not a bad film per se, it's just so... so-so. There's a lot of whizz-bang in the (many) battles - pyrotechnics being a big theme throughout - and the model work is fine. Mechagodzilla fares better as Super Mechagodzilla, in my eyes, and close-ups of Godzilla's animatronic head makes him look strangely like an otter. As a suit, Baby Godzilla is impressive, though not unlike his step-sibling (?) I found it too cute and grating.

What did we learn from this film? Well, Godzilla has two brains, and probably some other lesson about looking after one other. Or something. I nodded off again.

Look, it's a Heisei Godzilla film. The effects are mostly good, the plot is straight-forward, the acting adequate... Has it really only been 30 weeks? Dear god, I need to lay down.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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BONUS: 'The Magic Serpent' [1966]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: Mythical kaiju
Sub or Dub? Dub

In Old Japan, the Lord of the manor and his wife are assassinated. As the scheming assassin takes over his domain, the former Lord's young son is spirited away. In time, he is taught the ways of the For..., er, Ninja. The dying wish of his Master is that he defeat his father's killer and reclaim his rightful place as Lord.

'The Magic Serpent' doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Is it a bloody ninja romp? (In part, yes.) Is it a crazy kaiju tale? (In part, yes.) Is it mythological love story? (In part... you get the idea.) The set-up is far from original, with our hero's parents being killed within the first few minutes. So far, so Daimajin. But it then takes off in a bizarre direction, with an early appearance of a dragon (a suit/marionette contraption a la King Ghidorah) and some magical ninja skills. His Master is an old pre-Jedi-type who teaches him amazing Force abilities, the best being able to survive a beheading (never saw Obi-Wan manage that).

The film is at its best when ninjas or magic or kaiju are on screen, which unfortunately aren't as often as I would have liked. It drags in the middle, alas, livened by the odd - very odd, on occasions - scenes of mayhem, such as when he is attacked by a ferocious gang of doors. And then, maybe 15 minutes before the end, a giant horned frog shows up and all is forgiven. The suits and models are excellent and the three-way battle between the frog, the dragon and a giant spider (OK, not quite so impressive as the other two) is worth the wait.

There are a couple of versions of this film floating around; I watched the dubbed version as the subtitled one seemed slightly yet annoyingly out of sync. (The benefit of the dubbed version is hearing the distinctive roars of Godzilla et al emanating from Toei kaiju.) If you can get past the slow middle section, it's worth a watch.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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Quote:Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975

Collected here for the first time are all fifteen Godzilla films of Japan’s Showa era, in a landmark set showcasing the technical wizardry, fantastical storytelling, and indomitable international appeal that established the most iconic giant monster the cinema has ever seen.

Criterion Collection, available Oct 29 2019.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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BONUS: 'Sakuya: Slayer of Demons' [2000]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: More mythical kaiju
Sub or Dub? Sub

Set in early 18th Century Japan, a demon-slaying samurai is killed. He passes his magical sword to his daughter, whom not only takes up the family business, but also adopts a baby Kappa (a kind of water demon) who grows up to be a seemingly normal 10 yr old-sized boy (albeit growing to that stage within 3 months). The two then set out together, slaying demons along their merry way.

'Sakuya' is a dark film, and by that I mean I often couldn't see what was going on (the poor transfer I found online didn't help). The premise behind the sword is a good one - it will successfully kill otherwise unkillable demons, but will drain the life force from whomever wields it, symbolised by a diminishing candle. Overall, though,I was confused by the tone. It seemed so earnest yet ridiculous at the same time - was it taking itself seriously or was it supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? It had the look of a 1980s Goth band's music video (there are even a couple of musical scenes, the more bizarre featuring overgrown Muppets from a Brian Henson fever dream). 

There's a couple of kaiju on display - a two-tailed cat woman and a giant spider lady. The effects are good, but the main characters were stoic (a bit 'Lone Wolf and Cub' in a sense, but nowhere as good) and lifeless; I didn't care what they did and was relieved when it was finally over. I'm not sure whether it was adapted from a comic, but it looked like it could have been and probably would have worked better as animation. Nice try, just not for me.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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BONUS: 'Forbidden Planet' [1956]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: Inspiration for 'The Mysterians' [1957]

A spaceship is sent to a distant planet to uncover what happened to a previous voyage there 20 years ago. They discover only two survivors - Dr. Morbius and his winsome daughter Altaira - along with their helpful robot Robby. As they work to send word back to Earth of their findings, they soon become aware that the planet is not without its hidden dangers.

This sci-fi classic is probably best remembered for its iconic robot and for being a modern take on the Shakespeare play 'The Tempest'. As well as being cited as an inspiration for Toho's 'The Mysterians', Gene Roddenberry confirmed that it was an inspiration for his own 'Star Trek'. In fact, it is hard not to imagine Kirk, Bones & Spock taking the roles of several characters in this film as you watch it.

'Forbidden Planet' is a serious and thoughtful film, yet features a cool robot design and amazing special effects. As such, it isn't easy to pigeonhole and rather frustrating to review. It can be slow, yet I wouldn't want to miss any of the great sets as the characters roam around inside the planet, learning more - little by little - of its previous inhabitants. When the monster is finally 'shown', it's animation (presumably by Disney, as credited in the opening titles) is incredibly well-done.

Things get a little uncomfortable when 1950s standards towards women are shown not to have improved one iota by the 23rd century, and the acting can be a little flat. But overall I enjoyed it, leaving me with the same nostalgic warm glow I get after binge-watching multiple episodes of 'Star Trek TOS'.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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^ Nice review, I'm about 10 films away from watching that one.
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(07-30-2019, 04:06 PM)Garp Wrote:  - along with their helpful robot Robby. 



Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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BONUS: 'The Invisible Boy' [1957]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: 'Sequel' to 'Forbidden Planet', the inspiration for Toho's 'The Mysterians'

Robby the Robot gets his own spin-off film in this 1957 B-movie. The film is set in the 50s, so some throwaway exposition is needed to explain a 23rd century robot's appearance here - Time Travel. Once that is out the way, we can sit back and enjoy this bizarre mishmash of a film.

After having his intellect boosted due to reasons I might have napped through, 10 year old Timmie is given the iconic time-traveling robot to play with. One of the high-tech antics they engage in involves invisibility, of course, though it doesn't further the plot in any discernible way and was probably just a way to add some middling effects to keep the kiddies amused. The main plot is a tad darker, involving Manchurian Candidate types and HAL-like supercomputers. B-grade shenanigans and multiple child spankings ensue.

This film reminded me of 'The Exquisite Corpse Project' [2012], as the tone of the film would change drastically from act to act, as if several writers were involved without knowing what the others had written. There are your basic 1950s-sitcom-family comedic elements, followed by Red Scare paranoia. Timmie disappears - literally and thematically - for large chunks of the film as the adults grapple with the supercomputer-gone-rogue. It's entertaining in a sense as you're never sure what type of movie you're about to see next. Recommended for fans of Robby or of tonally ambivalent B-movies.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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THIS IS AMAZING
Criterion is going to release a boxed set of the entire Showa-era Godzilla films in October as their 1000th release.
Criterion Wrote:
In 1954, an enormous beast clawed its way out of the sea, destroying everything in its path—and changing movies forever. The arresting original Godzilla soon gave rise to an entire monster-movie genre (kaiju eiga), but the King of the Monsters continued to reign supreme: in fourteen fiercely entertaining sequels over the next two decades, Godzilla defended its throne against a host of other formidable creatures, transforming from a terrifying symbol of nuclear annihilation into a benevolent (if still belligerent) Earth protector. Collected here for the first time are all fifteen Godzilla films of Japan’s Showa era, in a landmark set showcasing the technical wizardry, fantastical storytelling, and indomitable international appeal that established the most iconic giant monster the cinema has ever seen.
EIGHT-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION COLLECTOR’S SET FEATURES
  • High-definition digital transfers of all fifteen Godzilla films made between 1954 and 1975, released together for the first time, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
  • High-definition digital transfers of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the 1956 U.S.-release version of Godzilla; and the 1962 Japanese-release version of King Kong vs. Godzilla
  • Audio commentaries from 2011 on Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters featuring film historian David Kalat
  • International English-language dub tracks for Invasion of Astro-Monster, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla
  • Directors Guild of Japan interview with director Ishiro Honda, conducted by director Yoshimitsu Banno in 1990
  • Programs detailing the creation of Godzilla’s special effects and unused effects sequences from Toho releases including Destroy All Monsters
  • New interview with filmmaker Alex Cox about his admiration for the Showa-era Godzilla films
  • New and archival interviews with cast and crew members, including actors Bin Furuya, Tsugutoshi Komada, Haruo Nakajima, and Akira Takarada; composer Akira Ifukube; and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai
  • Interview with critic Tadao Sato from 2011
  • Illustrated audio essay from 2011 about the real-life tragedy that inspired Godzilla
  • New English subtitle translations

If it included King Kong, King Kong Escapes, Mothra, and Rodan it would be perfect.
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BONUS: 'The War of the Worlds' [1953]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: Another source of inspiration for Toho's 'The Mysterians'.

An assumed meteor that crashes on the outskirts of a small Californian town turns out to be "the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars."

H.G. Wells' 1897 novel gets the 1950s Technicolor treatment, with the US town of Linda Rosa subbing for Woking, UK, which is probably prettier. (Disclosure: I was brought up not far from Woking and remember it mostly for its shopping center; I had moved away by the time the sculpture of the Martian spaceship was erected but have seen it whilst visiting family.)

I'd seen 'War of the Worlds' many years before and enjoyed it slightly less this time around. The effects are still an obvious highlight, though, with the spaceships (no tripod legs - something to do with them being "invisible", I'm not sure) looking suitably alien. The Martians themselves come across better as portentous shadows and tentacles rather than the stubby creatures we finally get to see, but it's a minor gripe; the effects work still holds up amazingly well overall.

I like to think the radio announcer's commentary, complete with shots of listeners - both avid and nonchalant, around the nation - is a nod to Welles' famous Mercury Theater production. And is the comment that aliens landed outside London a tip of the hat to Woking? I hope both are true.

This has never been a favourite sci-fi film for me, though the garish colour scheme that usually puts me off looked more fitting somehow this time. It gives an unworldly, unrealistic sheen to what would be a nightmare scenario. Like a lot of 1950s sci-fi, it ends rather abruptly, but matches the Deus Ex Machina of the novel in that sense.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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