Sunday, March 28, 2010

Godzilla(1998) - A Revisit

I sat down today and, as I do each year, watched [i]Godzilla[/i], a film produced by Dean Devlin, directed by Roland Emmerich and making its original theatrical debut back on May 20, 1998. Like other films I watch I have, over frequent viewings, tried to re-examine this movie from the inside out, paying close(r) attention to particular scenes and the human cast of characters. Many of the following observations from me regarding this film have been mentioned before...and perhaps some haven't.

Let me say before beginning that I like this film as a giant monster action movie: it has some humor, occasionally decent special effects, at least one interesting human character and what I consider to be an above average quality soundtrack. I DO NOT really consider this movie to be inclusive with the entire canon of Toho Godzilla movies sine the creature's appearance is so different from Toho's various Godzilla incarnations.

Thumbs up:

1. the character of Nick Tatopolous, played very decently IMO by Matthew Broderick. Tatopolous manages to keeps his wits and calm, steady demeanor despite repeated mispronunciations of his name, the general chaos around him among the others, both military and civilian, who are tasked with dealing with the monster's landfall and repeated rampages in New York City and what is no doubt an emotional reunion with his former college sweetheart Audrey Timmonds(played by Maria Pitillo)

2.French agent Philippe Roache(played by Jean Reno): wry witted, gruff and a man clearly motivated to serve his home country(France), the latter something I can absolutely respect.

3. Victor "Animal Palotti(played by Hank Azaria), a quasi goofball photographer with some serious guts, as evidenced by his pursuit of Godzilla, all to capture the monster on film, as the creature makes its first landfall in NYC

4. various effects shots which I thought were cool including:

-Godzilla's underwater surge towards the old man at the small dock

-the pyrotechnics effects looked good when Madison Square Garden was obliterated by the jet launched laser guided bombs(I also liked the effects when the Chrysler building was hit by the rockets)

-the sequence where the crew members on the Japanese cannery ship are blown backwards into the pilothouse bulkhead by the tail of Godzilla(the remainder of the monster unseen in this shot)

-the three trawlers that are pulled completely under by the creature(still unseen at this point)

5. the various points of humor in the movie courtesy of some often animated and testy exchanges between the human cast of characters, including:

-the NYC mayor(Mayor Ebert) vs his spineless, milquetoast assistant, especially over the mayor's candy

-the NYC mayor vs Colonel Hicks 

- Philiipe Roache's disdain for American coffee, in particular American French roast coffee 

Thumbs down:

1. most of the effects shots during Godzilla's engagement with the military, which looked more like a video game than live action movie

2. Sergeant O'Neal(played by Doug Savant), the often bumbling, but hard working enlisted man who was constantly on the receiving end of Colonel Hick's outbursts: I would have liked seeing O'Neill be a little more assertive overall

3. the scenes where Godzilla flees the military 

4. the scene where the old man and survivor of the Japanese cannery ship says "Gojira" when Roache flicks the cigarette lighter - I still don't think this scene belongs in the film at all

5. the asexual reproductive quality given to Godzilla

6. the changes to Godzilla's overall appearance IMO deviate way too much from Toho's Godzilla, a sign that Dean Devlin DID NOT understand what Godzilla was

I thought the ending was serviceable and at least afforded Sony the opportunity to make a sequel. I had hoped a sequel might show Godzilla further mutated(his appearance more monster like) and also show Godzilla fighting another monster...but obviously that didn't happen.

Even now, nearly twelve years later, I feel some disgust and disappointment about Godzilla(1998). Sony was given an opportunity to show Toho it could make a great Godzilla film and IMO it absolutely failed.

I'll keep watching this movie once a year. I might even buy a "GINO" kaiju toy later this year. One thing I will never do is consider this movie a real "Godzilla" film.

The film's official trailer:

To see the standard DVD of this film for sale at Amazon click the DVD covert art image above.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ice breaker: The Thing(1982)

One of my absolute favorite science fiction-horror movies has, over the decades, developed quite a fan following. I'm referring to The Thing, directed by John Carpenter and a re-imagining of the 1951 film called The Thing From Another World which was directed by Howard Hawks and based on a story called "Who Goes There?".

In John Carpenter's film a group of American scientists in present day Antarctica discover the burned remains of a dead Norwegian(from a neighboring science research station) and bring it back to their own facilities for closer inspection. They'll wish they hadn't. The remains are actually an alien which was burned in mid absorption of the Norwegian crew person. Seems the alien absorbs those around it whether it be a man or an animal. Soon nobody knows who is human...or who is the alien. A few members of the American research facility venture out and find the alien's spaceship but the discovery does nothing to improve their rapidly deteriorating situation.

The American science research station becomes a den of terror as the scientists battle the creature and each other, their dilemma punctuated by the great acting of cast members Kurt Russell, Richard Dysart, Keith David and Richard Masur. The special "creature" effects and other gore effects are marvelous. As science fiction-horror crossover films go The Thing is top notch!

The original theatrical trailer:

The film has been released on Blu-Ray and also on standard DVD as a "Collector's Edition" release. To see this(and the BD) click on the DVD cover art image above.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Size Does Matter: War Of The Colossal Beast(1958)

Despite my disdain for what AMC(American Movie Classics) has become over the past ten years, there is one feature at AMC's website I like: "BMC" online, or B movies online. Those of us with broadband internet can watch famous low budget films as streaming videos. One of my favorites at AMC's B-movie page is War Of The Colossal Beast, a direct sequel to the Bert I. Gordon directed "The Amazing Colossal Man(1957)". In the sequel(also directed by Bert I. Gordon) Glenn Manning, a former military officer turned sixty foot giant courtesy of radiation exposure from an A bomb blast, reappears, his face hideously disfigured from his catastrophic fall at the dam in the original 1957 film. "War Of The Colossal Beast" gave me the creeps when I first saw it as a kid. Hearing the disfigured giant Manning yowl and shriek is still unsettling to my ears when I watch this old campy classic. Watch War Of The Colossal Beast  below as a streaming video:

War Of The Colossal Beast(1958) has been released to official Region 1 DVD, paired with 1958's Earth vs The Spider. The DVD can purchased at Amazon. To see this DVD listed click the link:

Turner Classic Movies: A Cut Above

As a movie buff I watch DVDs quite a bit. I also like to watch movies on television as well and there is no better place to do that than by tuning in to Turner Classic Movies. This marvelous channel always broadcasts featured films uncut and in their original aspect ratio(either 1:33.1 academy standard or in widescreen e.g. 2:35.1, 1:85.1 or 1:66.1 ratios). TCM's movie library is impressive and films are always shown without any commercial interruption. To access TCM's website, which includes a lot of features, TCM's movie schedule and trailers, click the title of this blog entry or copy and paste the following link into your browser's nav bar:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Charles Pierce, R.I.P.

I was greatly saddened to see the news of the death of Charles Pierce today. He was 71 and passed away while residing in a Tennessee nursing home facility.

Pierce, a former used car salesman, borrowed $160,000 to produce and direct The Legend Of Boggy Creek(1972), a film that is part horror and part documentary and chronicles a legendary man-monster prowling the river bottoms of Fouke, Arkansas. Pierce employed many local citizens of Fouke(AR) in the production of this movie. I'll never forget the howl of the "Fouke monster" in this film, which I saw when it first aired in theaters back in 1972. I was a kid and this movie gave me the creeps! The Legend Of Boggy Creek would ultimately earn $25 million at the box office, an outstanding return on Pierce's investment and which would help him make other movies including The Town That Dreaded Sundown and a sequel "Boggy Creek" film called Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues(in 1985).

Here's the trailer for The Legend Of Boggy Creek: