Tag Archive: Godzilla


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

Tokyo 1996–an alien invasion threatens Earth.  Godzilla emerges to seemingly defend against the invaders, who call themselves the Xiliens, but the humans target Godzilla and he is seized by the aliens.  A test pilot, Captain Daitan Matushita and a cyborg scientist named Hoshi–both working for a mad scientist named Doctor Hu, develop a new aircraft to battle the alien threat.  But what about Godzilla?  In a mash-up of Independence Day and Thor: Ragnarok, Godzilla faces King Ghidorah not on Earth, but on a planet where kaiju monsters are battling to the death for the humanoid alien race.  It all happens in the giant 56-page, one-shot comic in IDW Publishing’s third entry of its Godzilla Rivals series, Godzilla Rivals: Vs. King Ghidorah, landing in comic shops today.  It’s an ambitious but thoroughly successfully and entertaining story from writer-artist Adam Gorham. Take a look inside below in a preview from the publisher:

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horror movie banner

The streaming channel Peacock arrived in a free, ad-supported edition this summer, and it’s pretty much like having a full cable TV line-up for only the one-time price of an Amazon Fire Stick.  The Fire Stick is typically available here at Amazon for between $30 and $50, depending on the options you want, and it’s a great portal to a variety of streaming platforms, from Netflix to YouTube and Disney Plus to HBO Max, as well as all the series and movies on Amazon Prime and the streaming platforms already available via that service.  Named for NBC’s classic trademark logo, the Peacock channel is bigger than it sounds, incorporating the giant NBC network of historic programming, content from channels like Bravo, USA, Syfy, History, Nickelodeon, Fox, The CW, MSNBC, and more.  Even better, right now Peacock has a “Peacocktober” hub that has a stunning number of classic and recent horror TV series and movies, all easily searchable, highlighting Halloween episodes of your favorite TV shows, recommended double feature movies, and a slate of programs you won’t find anywhere else.

Universal Monster vintage poster montage

Binge your favorite horror movie series, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Chucky, Predator, Gremlins, Psycho (including the remake movie with Vince Vaughn, the originals, and the Bates Motel TV series), Phantasm, The Fly, Men in Black, Sharknado, Hostel, Cabin Fever, The Stepfather, Hellboy, Freddy vs Jason, Jason X, and more.  There are certified classics and odd films you may have forgotten, like American Werewolf in London, John Carpenter’s They Live, Village of the Damned, and Prince of Darkness, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, The Omen, Let Me In, Godzilla, Van Helsing, Alien vs. Predator and Prometheus, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, 1981’s The Fun House (starring Elizabeth Berridge before she starred in Amadeus), Videodrome, 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, Steven Spielberg’s beloved E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, It Came from Outer Space, Darkman, Nanny McPhee, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the original Munsters TV series, Day of the Dead, The Skeleton Key, Ouija, Rings, Prom Night, and a huge slate of dozens of vintage Universal Monster classics like Dracula with Bela Legosi.

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Monster Hunter Jovo

Review by C.J. Bunce

Possibly the biggest surprise of Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest action spectacle Monster Hunter is that Milla Jovovich isn’t the title character. That role goes to Furious 7’s Tony Jaa, a Mandalorian-meets-Bone Tomahawk or Predators brand of survivor and monster hunter, who Jovovich and a band of soldiers in our time meet after they get sucked into a portal to a very different place.  The plot of this latest adaptation of a video game series is like Planet of the Apes, with a team falling into a world of beasts that are a cross of Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers.  It has a Ray Harryhausen look, which is good for those who like vintage monster nostalgia, but perhaps not so good for those after impeccable, cutting-edge visual effects.  In the opening scenes we meet Jovovich as Captain Artemis, a believable unit commander leading soldiers in Humvees looking for a missing squad.  For the most part this is a showcase of the Resident Evil heroine in action mode with bits of goofy humor, with Jaa’s Hunter showing off his stealth survival.  But really it’s about framing the star actress in increasingly cooler action shots.  Monster Hunter is now streaming on Starz, Hulu, and other platforms, and you might want to check it out.

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Back in January we previewed the spring theatrical release Godzilla vs. Kong here at borg, asking: Could an aircraft carrier really support that kind of weight?  A book coming next month might not answer that question but it will look behind the scenes of the movie.  With a foreword by director Adam Wingard, Daniel Wallace’s Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall–The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale boasts being filled with concept art paintings that influenced the final look of the film.  It also includes interviews with key production crew.  It’s available for pre-order now here in the U.S. and in the UK at Amazon here.

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Could an aircraft carrier support that kind of weight?

Warner Brothers released its new trailer (below) for the next Godzilla movie this weekend–Godzilla vs. Kong–the follow-up to the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters (reviewed here at borg).  It’s one of the hundreds of movies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this one originally scheduled for a Thanksgiving week 2019 release.  The next effort of U.S. studios to one-up the Japanese kaiju genre doesn’t try to hide what it is: what the director calls a “massive monster brawl,” a straightforward mash-up of MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms).  It merges the 2017 King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island, and the Godzilla reboot story centered around the secret agency Monarch, which began with the 2014 Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla.  For this fourth film in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse,” young director Adam Wingard brings back Godzilla storyline characters played by Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler and adds familiar action stars new to the franchise Eiza González (Bloodshot) and Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse).  It doesn’t look like any characters are being brought over from the Kong franchise.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Thirty years after Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home forever put a stake in the ground that whaling is a bad thing, you wouldn’t think a true-life whaling story would fare well, especially in movie theaters.  And you’d be right–director Ron Howard′s In the Heart of the Sea unfortunately lost more money than it cost to make.  And yet Howard’s deft direction combines some of genredom’s top stars with a solid script in a worthy interpretation of Herman Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick apt to provide any audience with something to cheer about.  Far and Away meets Apollo 13, sea disaster and cannibalism in this 2015 release, a prime survival story now streaming on multiple platforms.

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If you’re discussing the most compelling and amazing action movie franchise actresses, you’re going to begin with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton.  But quickly you must count Milla Jovovich, whose track record at the box office is hard to match, thanks to her role as Alice in the Resident Evil series.  But she’s also revealed her badass prowess in classics like The Fifth Element and Ultraviolet, and she keeps adding to her amped up, tough-as-nails characters.  This year that means taking on the role of Lieutenant Artemis in Monster Hunter, an adaptation of the online fantasy-action game.  In one word, that overly-used phrase is apt here: Epic.  The first trailer for the film (below) is very Starship Troopers meets Jurassic Park.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Author Greg Keyes is back again after his smartly written novels War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm with the newly released novelization of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  Keyes takes what is a convoluted and overstuffed story on film and fleshes out the details of character motivations and plot points, revealing the film really had enough content to be released over two movies.  Keyes’ novel is based on the screenplay by Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, and a story by those men along with Max Borenstein.  Of course a story credit goes to the many Japanese creators’ works over the past 65 years that the film’s kaiju monsters were mined from.  If you can get past the family of humans that the plot of the latest film revolves around, there is a good story of monsters rising from the ashes that should appeal to any Godzilla fan.

Each chapter begins by pulling the reader into the in-universe historicity of the giant antagonists by quoting myths, historical works, hymns, native poems, and notable stories that make reference to large creatures, ancient gods, and the end of days.  It’s a clever tool, citing works including Yeats’ The Second Coming, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Bacon’s Novum Organum, The Popul Vuh, Tennyson’s The Kraken, Hesiod, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and Job.  It all provides some minimal justification for the constant character references to the monsters as Earth’s ancient gods, as opposed to any attempted sourcing in the scientific record with something like dinosaurs or some kind of Michael Crichton-esque twisted re-creation.

In his novelization Keyes follows the film substantially verbatim, adding some improvements along the way, like specific references to Kong at Skull Island, which merits only an end-credit montage sequence in the film.  This is good preparation for the next film in the series coming next year, Godzilla vs. Kong.  He also provides information that is glossed over in the movie–who are the people affected by the monsters that don’t get the spotlight, those outside Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan?  We learned in the film there were at least seventeen Titans creatures guarded by gated, Monarch outposts, many via names on monitors audiences could blink and miss.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the benefits of behind-the-scenes and making of/art books for major studio movies is that anyone diving into the production process for the first time can usually learn plenty about the stages of filmmaking from pre-production to final product.  Just pick a film you like and jump right in.  Abbie Bernstein′s The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is no exception, but it will be particularly fun for anyone who is a fan of concept art and mega-monsters.  It’s also weighted toward pre-production and the pre-visualization process.  Readers wouldn’t expect a film with giant creatures to be filmed with practical sets, but with a modern studio Godzilla movie filmed in the U.S., you automatically expect a predominantly CGI movie.  The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is filled with trial pieces from artists showcasing the process of turning the classic Japanese kaiju characters into something new and different.

Fans of Scott Chambliss will want to read what guided him to make the choices and decisions for the look of the film.  Chambliss has his own style, and when watching the film my reaction was how many sets, and specifically the color and lighting choices, felt like Star Trek 2009, a film in which Chambliss also served as production designer.  Chambliss discusses the visual tricks he used to make Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorra appear to have immense scale, but also appear real.  Several effects companies worked on components of this film, each trying to make their creations the best of the pack without competing against each other–the goal being to create the best final product they could.  Some artists worked on familiar software programs, combining photographs and 3D imaging of locations like San Francisco’s Union Square to combine with actors in Atlanta.   Others made sculptures of each creature–in a variety of materials–and then those sculptures were scanned and manipulated into what the audience sees on screen by others, after even more creators contributed their colors, texture, lighting, and other touches.

The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a great companion book to Mark Cotta Vaz’s Godzilla: The Art of Destruction, the behind the scenes look at Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla film that was the starting point for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Simon Ward’s The Art of Kong: Skull IslandAll of these massive monsters will come together soon in Godzilla vs. King, so it’s a good time to be a fan of kaiju.  For fans of the new Legendary Pictures movie, it’s a good opportunity to understand the characters better from those who created them, and learn more from actors about their experiences on set, including Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Elizabeth Ludlow, Thomas Middleditch, Anthony Ramos, and Bradley Whitford.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When you have made as many movies as have been in the Godzilla franchise (31, more than James Bond movies), you run the risk of making a sequel or reboot that ends up like Independence Day: Resurgence, or Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, or Man of Steel, or Alien: Covenant.  For some moviegoers, a quick fix with lots of CGI in one of their favorite universes is good enough.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters has many things in common with these movies, without quite being as good as any of them, or Godzillas of the past.  Inasmuch as moviegoers will see the great effort taken to be faithful to its predecessors, by bringing more than just Godzilla to the picture, by bringing in a significant number of character actors that will be familiar to audiences, and by trying to create more spectacular visuals than came before, the latest Godzilla movie, opening today, doesn’t match either the monster mayhem or the humor of its 20th century predecessors.

Stuffed with every over-used creature and action trope, some used repeatedly, Godzilla: King of the Monsters suffers from taking itself too seriously.  Its single attempt at levity is Get Out’s Bradley Whitford as a wise-cracking scientist who seems to be channeling Brent Spiner in the Independence Day movies.  But beyond that, this is a family drama, more talk and human family in-fighting than Godzilla screen-time, between Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown as Madison and her separated parents played by Kyle Chandler (Super 8) and Vera Farmiga (The Commuter) (in that way it suffers the flaws of the 2014 Godzilla).  For some credibility we get Oscar-nominated actor Ken Watanabe (Isle of Dogs, The Last Samurai, Batman Begins) to remind us of the creature’s 65 years as a Japanese kaijū icon.  Other than that, the production skipped Japanese actors for this installment.  The best character and performance comes from Charles Dance (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Bleak House, Gosford Park), who plays a terrorist.  His character is the lone voice who speaks sense in a film that only makes sense if you also believe ocean drillers are the best choice to pilot a space shuttle to save the world from an oncoming asteroid.  Armageddon, War of the Worlds, Cloverfield, The Day After Tomorrow, Pacific Rim and every other disaster movie is rolled up into a single package here.  Direction and decisions are all over the place.  Even in a crazy, kooky, over-the-top monster movie, audiences deserve a plot with a foundation with a smidge of reality, especially if the talking heads scenes get equal time with the clashing creatures.  So if you decide to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters in the theater, you’ll need to throw all logic and reason aside and try to enjoy the ride.

Although this wasn’t clear in the trailers, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is more than another franchise installment, it’s a direct sequel to Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla movie.  Five years later the world is learning how to live as 17 titans (monsters like Godzilla) surface across the globe.  Watanabe joins other returning cast members, including Oscar-nominated actress Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Blue Jasmine, Layer Cake), Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn (Sneakers, The Firm, Eight Men Out, Memphis Belle), as they attempt to cause the titans to join forces in support of Godzilla instead of his three-headed dragon competition Ghidorah.  The best of the encounters finds the flying Rodan taking on a convoy of jet fighters, in a sweeping, well-choreographed scene that you’d expect from a Godzilla movie, although this scene and the rest of the monster scenes are mostly fuzzy and don’t make the most of high-definition camera capabilities or CGI.

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