Insects of Sea and Space | Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992) Review

This one is so close. It just needed a little more time in the oven. All the pieces are here, and they mostly fit together, but there’s something missing. Maybe an oomph? Maybe it’s the pieces themselves, each of them chipped in some unique way. Take the characters, for example. I know, this isn’t the place to start with a Godzilla movie, but that would make Godzilla movies an exception. Our protagonist this time, arguably, is Takuya Fujito, an archaeology professor who steals artifacts from tombs. After he’s thrown in jail, he’s visited by government men who want him and the feisty Masako to investigate a meteor on Infant Island. Apparently, this island is in Indonesian territory, making it off-limits to Japan, like an echo of the original Godzilla’s production. Okay, so Takuya is a man of action, unlike the sci-fi writers and journalists of Heisei movies past. He has more immediate personality, but one nevertheless expressed by whining through the bars of his jail cell. Not super appealing. … More Insects of Sea and Space | Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992) Review

Home Movies | Shin Kamen Rider (2023) Review

Chances are, if you’ve heard of Shin Kamen Rider, you’re gonna go see it. For my part, I missed Shin Godzilla in theaters and then missed Shin Ultraman. I was determined not to miss Shin Kamen Rider, despite it being my least favorite of the three properties. My experience with Kamen Rider is mostly bafflement. There’s this explosion of light and color, and suddenly, he’s on a motorcycle. Who? I don’t know. The guy who’s running away from the mutants, and he has to stop SHOCKER. Obviously. The difference between Godzilla, Ultraman, and Kamen Rider is a matter of personal taste. I prefer monsters to superheroes, and Kamen Rider is a quintessential Japanese superhero, up there with Astro Boy. Shin Kamen Rider is the 50th anniversary project (adjusted for COVID), and as alluded to, the third in anime maestro Hideaki Anno’s weird revival movies, beginning with the masterpiece Shin Godzilla. … More Home Movies | Shin Kamen Rider (2023) Review

New World Order | Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) Review

Opening with a tease is almost never a good idea. It always feels so arbitrary, to show a moment from the middle of the story and then say “One Year Earlier.” When we get back to that moment chronologically, it never feels like anything. “Oh, great, so that’s how we know that happened.” It might not even be inherently bad but that its use is so automated, because test screenings find the beginning too slow. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah opens with maybe the ultimate tease, informing us we’re in the year 2204 before “flashing back” to present-day 1992. That’s not a good sign, and neither is our ostensible lead, Kenichiro Terasawa, being a science fiction writer. Made famous by a book on ESP, he’s hoping to break into more human interest stories, which is a dramatic need that hardly screams “Godzilla movie.” Fortunately for us, his human interest turns out to be a veteran of World War II who believes that dinosaurs still yet live. Then we cut to a classic government conference room where people in suits discuss The Situation, this time involving UFOs. There’s a lot going on already. … More New World Order | Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) Review

Bulletproof Suit | John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Review

In a way, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a needless sequel. Rewind to 2019, with about 45 minutes to go in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, around when the plot seems to whisper “actually, this is not the grand finale.” A confrontation with the ultimate bad guys is averted, and we’re left on a cliffhanger. What’s funny about the world of John Wick as it’s expressed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 is – where’s the mob? Who are these assassins killing when they’re not killing each other? This felt like less of a “problem” in Chapter 3, where John Wick was facing the consequences for the assassination of a non-assassin character. Cue the assassins, and that’s fine. In Chapter 4, we have the same consequence, again. Now it isn’t John Wick versus New York City, it’s John Wick versus… well, that’s a long story. … More Bulletproof Suit | John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Review

Casual vs. Stressful Viewing

Today is The Glory Day, everyone, which I’ve been excited about for at least a month. I watched the first new episode this morning, and wow, was it scary. I’ve been meaning to write something more substantive about Lim Ji-yeon, because she was so impressive in Part 1, but now having seen her play a kind-hearted character — a doofus, even — in Welcome 2 Life, her transformation here is astonishing. She’s so evil, I just want to sing her praises all day. … More Casual vs. Stressful Viewing

The Weight of a Winner

Before I’d seen it for myself, Decision to Leave was my horse in the race for the Palme d’Or. Last year’s Cannes Film Festival was only another opportunity to proclaim my love for Park Chan-wook, a love that hasn’t abated even after a less-than-stellar entry in his catalogue. But I remember reading the list of award winners, and noting that while he won Best Director — and that is one of the best directed films of 2022, for sure — the grand prize went to something called Triangle of Sadness?! Not the best introduction of movie to prospective moviegoer. … More The Weight of a Winner

Jang Eun-sil Report – Physical: 100 Episode #7

In between last week’s episodes and this week’s, I found myself engaging with a Facebook group I’d otherwise elected to hide from (long story). Somebody wanted to know if anyone was watching Physical: 100, and apparently, I’ll take any chance to raise my hand and flail about. In that time, I’d also written an article for Collider, and characterized the show in breathless terms: “Whether all the contestants believe it, men and women are equal competitors in these challenges which emphasize a variety of strengths, creating a final, holistic visual metaphor — this time, for egalitarianism.” Wow! Put that on the DVD box: “Egalitarianism” – Collider. Naturally, I then bit my tongue, remembering that Jang Eun-sil was on thin ice, and if she goes down, the rest of the women follow. … More Jang Eun-sil Report – Physical: 100 Episode #7