I had the grand fortune of spending the weekend in the company of
, not to mention a number of other kaiju fans, we managed to squeeze in quite a few monster flicks over the weekend, or at least those in the kaiju spirit
It's always nice to refresh one's opinion of a film, especially in the company of an audience. Here's our lineup!
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN - This one has a remarkable amount of praised and bile heaped upon it almost daily. Many fans laud it for being a reasonably competent film when budgets were low and camp was high, not to mention (unlike GAMERA VS. VIRAS) handling its stock footage (somewhat) reasonably. Others will take a big poo on it, complaining about the rather awkward battle choreography, the raw VOLUME of stock footage, not to mention the overall retread of the plot from previous Toho films, as well as simply being difficult to take seriously.
Both sides have valid points. I normally dump on GODZILLA VS. GIGAN if only to irritate certain fellow fans
HOWEVER I can honestly say that there's a pretty entertaining flick within this movie. My interest is actually at the highest during the first half-hour or so of the film, when the characters are at the forefront. It's nice to see a goofball manga artist like Gengo front-and-center as the hero. Also, corn-cob-eating hippies and karate babes are always a plus
Still, the rather obvious day-to-night switches during the battle sequences (something that is hard to justify, even on a budget) throw me right out of the film, and the swaying, awkward battle scenes, despite some great lighting and creative camera use, don't give me the impression of heavy monsters ponderously moving, but rather a bunch of top-heavy drunks.
5 Stomps out of 10
GREAT DECISIVE BATTLE - SUPERIOR 8 ULTRA BROTHERS (or just SUPER 8 ULTRA BROTHERS) - After waiting a long time to rewatch this movie, I can safely say that this is my current favorite Ultraman film. It's a rather simple story, and there are a couple of plot holes/leaps in logic (*snicker* well, it IS Ultraman), but the pure heart and soul of this film, and just how genuine it is in its convictions, make me fall in love with it. The acting is quite top-notch, and it's wonderful to see sooooo maaaannnyyyy guest stars and cameos! Hell, one of the original cast of ULTRA Q appears, not to mention all of the Ultra series regulars that pop up. And let's not forget the effects and action - it's all quite spectacular. Miniature sets are simply luscious here, not to mention the overall high-quality effects. Even the all-CGI final monstrous foe (spoiler: it's a monster - who knew?) is still convincing in its wild ethereal-ness.
Needless to say, I'm quite happy that the Ultra series will be returning to miniatures for ULTRAMAN SAGA, despite Tsuburaya's current financial troubles.
9 Stomps out of 10
GODZILLA X THE KAIJU KILLER -
I'll forgo the backstory between myself and the creator of this film for another day. Regardless, we threw this on to see how it held up. It's...hmmm...well, the best way I can describe it is that this was clearly, CLEARLY a labor of love. No one can deny the sheer volume of hard work that went into it. But it's also hard to deny that a lot could have either been improved or removed entirely. There are some quite unique editing choices made that allow us glimpses of talent, but the dialogue is still very hard to understand without subtitles, and, to be totally honest, the nihilistic attitude leaves me emotionally drained. Plus, some scenes had me slapping my head, dumbfounded. The effects are a mixed bag - some inspired, some in need of overhaul or total removal. Hopefully it was all a learning experience for the director.
GEHARA: THE DARK AND LONG-HAIRED MONSTER -
Quite possibly the best kaiju parody ever made, and certainly the best kaiju short-film since NEGADON: MONSTER FROM MARS. Dare I say it, it's one of the best monster movies made in the last 5 years...and it's only 20 minutes long! Kiyotaka Taguchi teams up with special effects master Shinji Higuchi to make a visually stunning and drop-dead hilarious monster film, playing off many of the best and most beloved moments in the kaiju genre with its claws and its kisses. My only criticism is that it may be hard to "get" for those outside of the genre looking in. There are references to GOJIRA, THE MYSTERIANS, MONSTER ZERO, VARAN: THE UNBELIEVABLE, and even THE BEST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, not to mention some Ultraman! If you're a fan, it's absolutely superb from start to finish.
This NEEDS a US dvd release.
GAMERA: THE BRAVE -
Oh. My. GOD. I cannot express how GOOD THIS MOVIE IS. EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO WATCH IT. RIGHT NOW. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. GO WATCH IT. NOW. NOW, DAMMIT.
Oh, and we watched KAMEN RIDER FOURZE episode 1. A Kamen Rider series, and it could be GOOD? There's a novel concept
Granted, I like W a lot, though Den-O, OOO's and Decade did nothing for me. Here's hoping!