mag·nif·i·cent/magˈnifəsənt/ (adj.)

1. Impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
2. Very good; excellent.

Synonyms: splendid - gorgeous - grand - superb - glorious

WARNING: Some spoilers may be bound but I try to keep them light.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tales from the Crypt (1972)


       "Who's next?"

Tales from the Crypt (1972), is an British anthology horror film directed by Freddie Francis and produced by Amicus Productions. It contains five stories all detailing the strange occurrences of someones death. The stories are also lifted from the EC Comics publications: Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear. 

Five strangers get seperated from their tourist group as they are visiting old catacombs. They encounter a hooded, old Crypt Keeper who tells each of them a story.

The acting overall in the film ranges from bland to good, that's kind of what you get with these kind of movies with such large casts. I think my favorite acting coincides with the darkest stories of the film the third story, "Poetic Justice" and the final "Blind Alleys," these are both really messed up and dark stories but they both wouldn't have been as effective without the strong acting preformances.

I would say the film is a little dated. It's definitely not as flashy and fun or exciting as some of the other ones on the list I'm reviewing this season, but there's plenty of other reasons to watch it.

And the effects are one of the places it's most evident, some of the makeup and props hold up but all of the 70s special effects look very tacky today.

Easily my favorite thing about Tales from the Crypt is the framing story. I love how the viewer is just as confused as the main characters at the beginning and if you're paying attention you start to realize the stories all involve death. Then you notice the characters who die are the ones represented in the cave and by the time you realize what's actually going on the film ends. It's everything I liked about the framing device in The House that Dripped Blood (1970) but pulled off much more successfully!

And (as if that wasn't enough) the stories themselves are really good too. It's hard for me to pick a favorite because I enjoyed them all! There's lots of films now that are tributes to EC Comics but this film is the first one that actually makes me feel the same way reading the comics do. These are very dark stories, really not intended for kids at all and nothing is held back. I absolutely love them, honestly all horror films should really strive to be as good as the stories featured here in Tales from the Crypt.

Tales from the Crypt (1972) is a great example of what an anthology films should be and the stories, all taken directly from old horror comics, still work beautifully to this day.

3.5/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

This review is part of my 2014 run of 13 Nights of Macabre Movies! Tune in tomorrow as I review this film's sequel The Vault of Horror (1973).

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film through these fine links:

Monday, October 20, 2014

The House That Dripped Blood (1970)


       "That's what's wrong with the present day horror films. There's no realism."

The House That Dripped Blood (1970), is an British anthology horror film produced by Amicus Productions. It contains four stories all involving previous tenants of a large house in the countryside who met their demise in a strange way, and the stories are connected by a framing story about a couple of police officers who are investigating the most recent death of a tenant.

Although it takes a while to understand what they're trying to do, one of the best things about this film is the interesting way it connects the stories. I have to say its definitely one of the most interesting ways I've ever seen to connect an anthology film, despite not being pulled off as good as it could have been. But there's also something to be said about a framing story that doesn't just lay its cards out in the first scene too. I do appreciate films like this where you have to get to the end to understand what is really going on.

The worst thing about this film is the stories. They're not written particularly badly, but they're almost all just so dull and uninteresting. They're all very reliant on each stories twist and almost all of them contain what we call a "Double-Shyamalan," which in its self isn't inherently bad and fits the genre well, but to see a double twist 4 times in a row gets really, really repetitive.

I also think the selection of stories is weird. Not to spoil, but the first two stories are non supernatural of nature, and the second two are. Which is weird to me because when I'm watching an anthology film I'm thinking about the common themes and tropes of the stories selected and put together. So when I watch two stories that end up being non-supernatural of nature, I'm really thrown off when the next two are? The least they could have done was switch them up so they were non-supernatural, supernatural, non... etc.

The acting in this film is also pretty terrible or dull at best. There's a couple exceptions I'll get to in a minute but otherwise they really just weigh down the already dull material. Even Christopher Lee seems like he's phoning in his acting, to the point where I couldn't figure out how his character was supposed to be feeling toward his daughter, which happens to be a major part of that story! Pretty un-excusable.

The two best things about this film are Peter Cushing and Jon Pertwee, and for two completely different reasons. Peter Cushing is the perfect counter weight to Christopher Lee. Where you can tell how much Chris Lee liked the source material based on his performance in the film, you'd never know with Peter Cushing because he really gives his all in every film I've ever seen him in! And even though I've seen him play a variety of roles, his acting in this movie is new to me, I've never seen him play a role like this and he really nails it.

Jon Pertwee on the other hand (yes Whovians, the third Doctor,) is really hamming up his role here and while I'm less familiar with his career so I'm not sure if this is intentional for this role or not, but he really sells his segment of the film. And it's also very ironic that he's playing an aging Christopher Lee-type role in a film that also stars Christopher Lee! So it's no surprise that these two actors really made the film for me and the second and fouth stories are my favorite of the bunch, easily.

The House that Dripped Blood (1970) isn't a great film, but it's probably a good stand alone example of the many Amicus Productions Horror anthologies.

3/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

This review is part of my 2014 run of 13 Nights of Macabre Movies! Tune in tomorrow as I review one of Amicus Productions' most well know horror anthologies, Tales from the Crypt (1972).

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film through these fine links:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Black Sabbath (1964)

Welcome again to my favorite time of year! Unlike the last two years I will be reviewing only 13 horror films rather than the 31 I did the previous years as part of my 31 Nights of Macabre Movies. There's a few reasons I'm switching this up this year but the main reason is two years ago when I started this I was unemployed and its a lot easier to take on a commitment like that when you don't have a full time job!

But this will also allow me to focus on one topic or sub-genre of horror film so I think in the end it will make it a more focused countdown than it used to be. This year I'm reviewing 13 Anthology Horror films, but enough blabbing lets get on with it...


       "You have no reason to be afraid."

Black Sabbath (1964), also known as I tre volti della paura (literally: The Three Faces of Fear), is an Itallian-French anthology horror film directed by Mario Bava. Black Sabbath contains 3 stories: "The Drop of Water," "The Telephone", and "The Wurdalak" with introductions by Boris Karloff.

The stories although written by Bava, Alberto Bevilaccqua, and Marcello Fondato are all based on and heavily influenced by horror literature and ghost stories. All three stories deal with the theme of a loved one returning from beyond the grave in a different way.

[This review will focus on the English version of the film]

I love Boris Karloff, and I think having him introduce the stories in this film was actually a genius way to get a wider International audience but he's really just blabbing spooky gibberish most of the time here. So my love for Boris Karloff and spooky stuff lets me enjoy these sequences but they really could have put some effort into tying what he's saying into the films more. I've read that some of these scenes were actually filmed for the American release on a Hollywood set with an unknown director, so that really makes me want to see the original release just to see if it's improved.

Like lots of other films I've reviewed from the 60s and 70s the production design always stands out to me. There was obviously an added level of care put into the sets of these films and this is another example of it really working. "The Telephone," for example was set in a (then) contemporary setting and the production design throughout is so good that the jump in time wont even be noticed by the viewer!

The English dub here is predictably quite terrible. It's amusing to me actually because I can tell the International actors are really quite good, they're just dubbed over terribly, which is common with foreign films of this era.

The clunky dub might not have been as noticeable except that these stories have a LOT of dialogue, all of these stories work very well and are quite creepy but they are very unnecessarily 'talky' that it holds back the film in my opinion. Just let the scenes play out, no need to fill the silence by having characters ramble what's going through their heads!

Hands down, the greatest thing about this film is Mario Bava's outstanding direction. Much like Black Sunday (1960) Mario Bava really knows how to move a camera and frame a shot to maximize the amount of terror and suspense. This film is a different experience entirely from Black Sunday though solely because it's in color. Bava takes the time to really think about the color in a scene and has a very unique approach to it also. He often places strange unnatural colored lights (like purple and yellow green) and often has them moving or flashing across or on and off in a shot to add a subconsciously surreal and suspenseful effect that often times as a viewer you won't really notice upfront.

I really enjoyed each of the stories in Black Sabbath. The way they're layed out is a bit weird because the first two are (arguably) ghost stories and the final story is not and is about as long as the two previous combined. But beyond that they're each great unique stories that had me on the edge of my seat! I think "The Drop of Water" is my favorite of the three because it's simplicity and how just plain creepy the whole premise is, but "The Wurdalak" is quite good and not far behind for much different reasons. There's something really admirable about how dark and bleak the story is.

As I mentioned above Boris Karloff's introductions as a framing story are quite entertaining, but when he appears in the final story "The Wurdalak," that's when you will really recall how good of an actor Boris is. His performance here as the returned father Gorca, is (in my opinion) as good as his early work in the Universal Frankenstein films!

Black Sabbath (1964) is a surprisingly terrifying film that holds up very well for its age, this is due mostly to the great stories and Mario Bava's great storytelling an camera movement. AND it has Boris Karloff!

4.5/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

This is the first review of my 2014 run of 13 Nights of Macabre Movies! Tune in tomorrow as I review Amicus Productions' The House That Dripped Blood (1970) starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing!

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film through these fine links:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

       "He wants to turn that egg into the golden egg."

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) (モスラ対ゴジラ), also known as Godzilla vs. the Thing, is a Japanese kaiju film directed by Ishiro Honda. This film is a sequel to both Mothra (1961) and Godzilla vs. King Kong (1962) and is the first time Toho tried pitting one of its previously stand-alone kaiju against Godzilla, a trend that would continue quite a bit after this and often lead to some of the most popular fan-favorites of the kaiju films.

When a typhoon washes a giant egg ashore, the capitalist heads of Happy Corporation decide to turn it into a giant tourist attraction. A group of reporters investigating discover Mothra's twin fairies who beg them to help return the egg to it's home on Infant Island. But when the capitalists refuse, and Godzilla was also re-awakened by the typhoon Japan finds itself right in the middle of a giant monster battle.

[Note: this review is referencing the original Japanese version of the film.]

The moral tale in this film works really well, it may be a little heavy handed in the end but it's the key that ties the human protagonists story together with that of Mothra's story.

This film's story is basically a remake of the original Mothra (and to a lesser extent King Kong vs. Godzilla too) but what I liked about it is that each of these films isn't a direct remake and it really feels like Ishiro Honda (who directed all three) is experimenting with each one and trying something new, which in this case works out because he takes the plot of Mothra and the better protagonist story from King Kong vs. Godzilla and incorporates Godzilla into the story also and it is in my opinion the best of the trio. I also really liked the twist toward the end involving the egg. It's a clever way to catch even your big kaiju-fans on their toes and keep everyone interested in the film!

Despite being a little jarring at first, I actually thought the super-cartoonish portrayal of the capitalists actually works really well, and quickly helps you to root against these guys. I just don't understand why they get killed off so early? Maybe Honda just got tired with this particular storyline as it's the third time he's done it?

I also felt the endangered school children on the island at the end was a little over dramatic for my tastes but it really did help up the ante and provide more drama and suspense for the final battle of the film.

The special effects and use of models here are better than they've been in the last few films actually. It feels like Honda really took the time to shoot each of what works best on it's separate medium (models, costumes, live-action) and incorporate them as best as possible.

This is the first in the series they didn't even try to explain a lot of things (for example the origin of the first Mothra and Godzilla) this isn't necessarily a bad thing as the film works more or less on its own, and I feel like it was bound to happen with this being the fourth Godzilla film and probably the eight or so kaiju film Toho had made up until this point. I already thought the film rushes a bit in the beginning to set up everything but you're going to feel extra rushed if you haven't already had an intro to Godzilla or Mothra before this film.

I feel like this film is a prime example of a movie that could use a better structure. It seems like the film speeds up just to slow down in parts and we lose track of our human protagonists during giant monster battles that seem unfocused and there's large parts of the film that just go needlessly on for a bit too long.

Also maybe this was the result of a technical issue with scale or the models or something but the first battle with Mothra is WAY too close for some reason? There's a tone of super-close up shots during this battle that quickly cut to each other and make the otherwise very cool monster fight pretty hard to watch.

I really love the human protagonists in this film! They're probably the first ones since the original Gojira (1954) that actually made the human element of the film really worthwhile. They're a bit pure and idealized but their goodness plays into helping the kaiju in the story really well so it works for the film.

Also super note-worth is this is the first Godzilla film in a while where they actually took the time to show the destructive nature of Godzilla and how he affected people on the ground level on screen. Also this film cleverly incorporates his radioactivity into the story and ties nuclear testing on Infant Island into the theme and plot without over doing it very masterfully.

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) is a very enjoyable kaiju film, one of the good ones where the humans' story works really well with giant battling monsters' story.

4/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

I'm tackling most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films in honor of the newest Godzilla (2014)

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film (and 5 other classic kaiju films) through these links:

Friday, May 23, 2014

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

       "King Kong can't make a monkey out of us!"

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) (キングコング対ゴジラ) is an Japanese kaiju film by Toho and directed by Ishiro Honda and is technically a direct sequel to Godzilla Raids Again (1955) and less so to King Kong (1933).

An American submarine gets caught in an inceberg that happens to be the same iceberg that Godzilla is trapped in and accidently awakens the kaiju from his slumbler. As the world becomes aware of Godzilla's reappearance, it's world leaders quickly try to figure out a solution. At the same time looking for something to boost ratings on a television program he sponsors, Mr. Tako the head of a pharmaceuticals company just confirmed the existance of King Kong on the tiny Faro Island. Tako sees this as an opportunity to stop Godzilla and boost ratings at the same time.

[Note: this review is referencing the English-dubbed, American cut of the film.]

The overall story of this film isn't bad. It's actually very similar to Mothra (1961) and shares a lot of the same themes and character moments as that film. I also enjoyed our protagonists' story/journey here, not the most original, but the characters are likable and they definitely give you something to root for.

One of the coolest things about this story is that it actually works on its own perfectly and is the sequel to Godzilla Raids Again (1955) at the same time. The last time we saw Godzilla he was defeated by firing missiles into a mountain causing the kaiju to be buried in ice, which is where we find him is this film. The genius thing about the start of this movie is that if you've never seen a Godzilla movie in your life, you can watch this movie and just assume that it's Godzilla awaking for the very first time since the Ice Age because it pretty much plays that way here.

The other good thing about this film is how very humorous it is. It's not a good film at all, but it's very watchable.

First off the English-dub for this film is absolutely terrible. Someone thought that in order to make this film more watchable we'd need to constantly cut to these TERRIBLE English inserts that were shot to explain what is happening inside the story. Guess what we don't. The inserts were clearly shot at a different time, have a much poorer production design, and are just hilariously bad.

This may also be a weird dub thing but the film introduces all of these "weird science" rules like for some reason Kong is energized when exposed to electricity, while it has the opposite effect on Godzilla...? Which doesn't make sense because I clearly remember a scene of Godzilla tearing through electric powerlines in the original Gojira (1954).

This is one of those things that is overly apparent because I recently watched the original King Kong (1933), but Kong's acting in this is terrible. The funny thing about this statement is that I thought Kong's acting was really good in the original and that was all stop-motion, where here you have an actor in a suit and it's so much worse? In the original they based the way Kong moved off of wrestlers, if these filmmakers even looked at the original (which after watching this, I'm not really sure they even did) they would have notice the distinctive way he moves! Though Godzilla's acting here is pretty bad also so maybe the movie is just a good example of why fight choreography and story boards are necessary.

Another weird thing is for some reason this Kong is narcoleptic in this film? There's at least 4 times where Kong just lays down and goes to sleep, I was fine with it once but when it kept happening I started to think that maybe Kong needs to lay off the medication.

This is the first of Toho's kaiju films where I really felt like everything here was models and guys in suits. I don't know if this production was on a swifter budget, or Ishiro Honda had made a few of these by now, so with each one he cared less and less or what? One of the things that I noticed that may have added to this was that this film has an over-reliance on models. Where many of the other kaiju films would go shoot anything they could outside against a mountain or a hill, this film is mostly indoors and anytime the characters go outside it's on a set, overall it's just lazier.

The one magnificent thing about this movie is how bad it is considering all of the things it had going for it. This is one of the first "Godzilla vs." movies. They've pitted Godzilla, their most popular kaiju, against King Kong who greatly inspired the original creators of Gojira and the entire Toho kaiju franchise. And if that wasn't enough Ishiro Honda is directing, who literally has created all the best kaiju films I've seen up to this point. Some of this is probably due to some things being lost in translation with the English dub and the American cut, (to which I can't comment because I haven't seen the original Japanese version yet...) but still.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) is not a good movie, but it is very watchable and strangely enjoyable  too.

3/5 Stars.

Happy watching!

I'm tackling all or most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films in honor of the newest Godzilla (2014), check back next time as I review the fan favorite: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964).

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film (and two others) through these links:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mothra (1961)

       "Mothra will soon be here!"

Mothra (1961) (モスラ) is an early Japanese kaiju film by Toho and directed by Ishiro Honda who directed the original Gojira (1954).  Mothra is based on the serialized novel The Luminous Fairies and Mothra by Takehiko Fukunada, Shinichiro Nakamura, and Yoshie Hotta.

While investigating the presumably uninhabited Infant Island a group of sailors find the island is not only inhabited by humans but other strange beings including small human-like fairies. However when capitalist Clark Nelson decides to kidnap the fairies and bring then back to Japan to make a profit off their existence, he may be putting all of Japan in harms way without even realizing it.

[Note: this review is referencing the original Japanese version of the film.]

I really liked the story of this film. Its almost a remake of the King Kong (1933) plot, but then it works in the environmentalist message a lot better than that film ever did. And the entire film has such and interesting mood to it, its very much unlike anything else.

This is actually a really good film to watch if you are learning Japanese, because the characters speak relatively slowly the entire film and they don't actually use a lot of complicated words most of the time. So that's interesting.

I felt like the kaiju in Mothra were a bit hit and miss. I really liked Mothra's larva form a lot and thought it looked unique and moved in a very interesting way. But I didn't really care for Mothra's moth form truthfully. I just felt like they didn't really do enough with it, and even felt like she was far less menacing as a moth than in her larva form. Also coming after Rodan (1956), it's interesting that two of the very first kaiju films they made were of flying creatures. They're very different films, and very different creatures but I still wonder about how intentional or what the reasoning behind that decision was.

I really didn't like our lead character, played by Japanese comedian Frankie Sakai. Sure he was a bit funny, and there's something that's hard to hate about his character's boyish innocence during the whole film. But his character is just really jarring and seems out of place against the mood and tone (and even themes) of the rest of the film. And cutting between the drama of a giant monster attacking Tokyo and the underlying environmentalist message and this Lou Costello-esque comedian really didn't work at all for me.

The ending took too long to conclude. I think it's suposed to be this beautiful thing but it just takes way too long when everyone knows what has to happen after the main antagonist is no longer in the picture. Finish and get out people.

Also for some reason this film has a lot of English speaking minor roles, which are filled with tons of unintentional humor. Which although this is fun, it's jarring and kills the dramatic mood that the scenes are supposed to have most of the time.

The one thing I really loved about this film was the music. Yuji Koseki's score is really awesome. It's got its suspenseful moments, fun parts and the "Mothra song" is so haunting it really brings a lot to the movie and the story on it's own. It really works for this film.

Mothra (1961) is an very different and interesting take on the kaiju film genre. Not exactly to my tastes truthfully, but I appreciated it and did think it was quite an interesting watch.

4/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

I'm tackling all or most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films in honor of the newest Godzilla (2014), check back next time as we finally return to our main kaiju, Godzilla himself in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962).

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film (and two others) through these links:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rodan (1956)

       "I have lost one plane, but we're still in pursuit!"

Rodan (1956) (空の大怪獣 ラドン) [literally: Radon, Giant Monster of the Sky], also known as Rodan! The Flying Monster!, is an early Japanese kaiju film and the first color kaiju film released by Toho. Rodan is directed by Ishiro Honda who directed the original Gojira (1954).

A group of miners in the outskirts of Kyushu go deeper than anyone has ever gone before, but when miners start to go missing or are found dead and mutilated they soon realize they've unearthed prehistoric creatures that haven't been seen on earth for millions of years.

[Note: this review is referencing the American, English-dubbed edit of the film.]

The English-dub for this film didn't bother me too much. It's a bit dramatic, which is in-line with the tone of many other American 50's monster movies. Unfortunately some of the main characters speak with a broken English, which today reads as pretty racist. And like any dub that tries to match the lips too closely, its got plenty of hilarious moments too.

Over all the effects in this film are pretty impressive. The color and lighting doesn't really compare to how well the black and white helped the believability of the original Gojira, and some of the models (mostly the tanks) didn't really work as well as some of the plane shots.

Unlike Gojira there's not a whole lot to Rodan. It's literally just a supernatural horror/survival film. No huge message, not a lot to it really. Now I'm not saying that's a problem, it is refreshingly simple, but this is a reason why a movie like Gojira is far superior, and will stand the test of time longer.

One of the best things about this film is the mystery and horror of it all. Rodan doesn't show up until the halfway point in the movie and the movie really builds super well up until that point! The horror of the people disappearing in the mines or returning as mauled corpses really plays well, and the mystery of what is down there is awesome. These are the things that really made me feel like Ishiro Honda was at the helm again. This film is like Gojira where the masterful editing storytelling really drags you into the film long before you even see a monster, and then even once you know what is attacking Honda is really good about only giving you brief glimpses of the monstrous kaiju initially and then gradually more and more.

One reason I really recommend people check out this film is the impressive dogfight scenes. There's a really impressive sequence about three-quarters into the film where a group of jet fighter pilots are perusing the Rodan, and the film really excelently is cutting between real stock footage, superimposed monster models and pilots shot on a set and it all works together super simply and well. I was amazed at how exciting is and well this sequence looks almost 60 years later!

Rodan (1956) is an often over-looked early kaiju film that really works well to this day, I highly recommend it!

4.5/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

I'm tackling all or most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films in honor of the newest Godzilla (2014), check back next time to see my review of another classic Toho kaiju and her(pre-Godzilla battle) origin film; Mothra (1961).

Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film (and 5 other classic kaiju films) through these links:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

     "And it is going to send us all back to the Stone Age!"

Godzilla (2014) is the second attempt at making an original American version of the Japanese monster movie series starring Godzilla. This film from Legendary Pictures is the sophomore outing of Director Gareth Edwards.

Ford's father is obsessed with what he believes is a government cover up that killed his wife. When he travels to Japan to try and bring his father home, he realizes his father was right and the whole world is about to have huge problems.

[Note: this review is a bit spoiler-heavy compared to others, if you care see the movie before reading on.]

The score to Godzilla is pretty good, I enjoyed it and felt it helped add a lot to the action on screen. My only two qualms are that I wish it was more memorable because I honestly couldn't sing any of it right now and sometimes it tipped its cards a little too early revealing something big was coming before it was on screen.

I think a lot of this film's issues come from the bad writing. First off the film has a bunch of bad references to the original Gojira (1954), for seemingly no reason. For example, Ken Watanabe's character is named Dr. Serizawa who happens to be the (eye-patched) character that is the key to defeating Godzilla in the original, and sacrifices himself to do it. Watanabe's character does neither of these things in the new film and clearly isn't related (if these were the same world) because the original guy didn't have kids (he was in the losing side of a love triangle at the time of his death) and Watanabe says his father was killed in Hiroshima. When you do things like this it just makes me think about the original and how much better the ending to that film is than this one! Early on this film sets up the radioactive nature of these creatures, the Muto even feed off of it! And yet the rest of the film doesn't even seem to keep this in mind at all. They drop a nuke that "makes the bombs they had in 1954 look like a firecracker" directly into the San Francisco bay and show absolutely no consequences or even reaction to it! That's just bad writing!

As if that wasn't enough, so much of this film relies on poorly written exposition scenes to explain what the heck is happening. Where characters deliver poorly thought out speeches and have pseudo conversations where they come up with answers with out any explanation (like the sexes of the Muto? How did you decide which one was male and which was female?) Even when the writing isn't horrible it's just mediocre and just the very typical stuff you've seen a million times before. Our lead happens to be at nearly every single place the giant monsters make stop including Japan, Hawaii, Oakland and SF, if that isn't convenient, then I don't know what is! Why does Godzilla wait so long (3 Muto battles I believe?) before he decides to try burning the damn things with his atomic breath? Why is the news reporting Godzilla is a hero when he probably did as much damage as the Muto and he hasn't even left the city yet? Oh yes, convenience. I could go on and on...

Overall the acting in this movie is really great! Bryan Cranston brings so much gravity to the role of a raving lunatic (how often can you say that?) You'll wish he was the only main character! Elizabeth Olsen does so much with the tiny part they gave her that I think she's the only reason I cared about their family at at all. And on the less good part is poor Ken Watanabe who got stuck with a horrible part, his character is two dimensional and really gets stepped over every time he's on screen. Don't they know Ken Watanabe is an amazing actor and deserves better than that? And our lead, Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives a solid performance, but it kind of left me wishing there was something more there. I loved the guy in Kick-Ass (2010) so I'm guessing the issue here is script-based too.

The direction of this film is quite good, I was really impressed. Suddenly it makes sense why the studios would have trusted such a huge property with such a new, young director. Especially if the script is as bad as I imagine, this movie really would have been far worse in the hands of a lesser director. He does a great job of balancing far away up-shots of the kaiju and the straight on monsters fighting shots that are traditionally associated with Japanese kaiju films, while keeping the variety of shots interesting and mixing it up.

There's lots of very memorable parts here too (direction-wise), I loved the way we see close ups of parts of Godzilla but we never really see Godzilla in full until he's right up against the Muto in Hawaii. This helped build a ton of suspense and really helps the viewer see Godzilla as a hero (more so than Dr. Serizawa's babbling) and I loved the first time we see Godzilla use his atomic breath, the way the light starts and builds is such an awesome thing to anyone who's a Godzilla fan and immediately knows what's coming!

I really liked the art direction in this film too. Loved the look of San Francisco in the the final battle with all the fire and the fog, it's such an unique look! And for the most part I really liked the monster/kaiju designs, there was just a couple of weird things like the weird kind of "C" shape that the Muto hatch out of in the beginning don't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Almost every part of Godzilla (2014) is better than your average Summer blockbuster film, every part except the writing.

3.5/5 Stars.

 Happy watching!

Be sure to check back because in honor of this movie, I'm tackling all or most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films. Check back next time for my review of Toho's first color kaiju film, Rodan (1956).

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