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Movies Reviews

Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy Review

Despite some of my negative feelings on these movies, I do love some of the posters.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #14

In 1999 George Lucas brought Star Wars back to the big screen. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace begins the tragic journey of Anakin Skywalker. I was only 6 years old when this movie came out so I don’t personally remember the hype or hysteria that this movie created. I only know that when I originally watched this movie on VHS a few months later, I was enthralled. Star Wars has always held a special place in my memory. They are the first movies I can remember watching, and I remember being excited to watch The Phantom Menace when my father brought home the VHS tape. That movie came out 22 years ago, and my feelings on it have changed a lot: my feelings in general on the entire prequel trilogy have changed a lot. From The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith, the prequels–for the most part–fail to create compelling characters or tell a coherent story from movie to movie. Even though these movies fail in most departments of quality and entertainment, I constantly find myself drawn back to them out of nostalgia. When I was younger, I filtered out the bad stuff and found some good, which means I must have filtered out most of the first two movies.

Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace is a mess of a movie. The movie opens with two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), meeting with the Trade Federation to negotiate after the Federation puts a blockade on the planet of Naboo. Negotiations are short, and after battling some droids and escaping to the planet’s surface where they meet the Gungan, and bane of this movie’s existence, Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), Qui Gon, and Obi-Wan go to the Gungan City where they receive a means of transport back to the planet’s surface. They escape Naboo with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) so she can plead to the senate about the safety of Naboo. Along the way, they make a pit stop on Tatooine, where they discover local slave boy Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) who is strong with the force. Qui Gon believes Anakin Skywalker to be the chosen one who will bring balance to the force and forever destroy the Sith. There are space battles, a lightsaber fight between Qui Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul (Ray Park); even with all of this, the movie remains boring and uninteresting.

There is too much plot and little story in The Phantom Menace. George Lucas focuses on building up the world around him, and the characters suffer because of this. Qui Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme are all one-dimensional characters without any charisma or personality that we see from the characters in the original trilogy or even the sequel trilogy. The idea of starting Anakin off as a child is bizarre and drags the movie down. I understand that George Lucas wanted to show the entirety of Anakin’s life, showing how even the most innocent and optimistic child can become the evilest man in the galaxy, but the way the character of Anakin is handled in this movie is poor and just downright boring. Lucas also tries to explain the force and gives us midi-chlorians which takes the mystical and spiritual element away from the force. The inclusion of midi-chlorians negates the speech Yoda gives Luke in Empire about the mystical nature of the force. The inclusion of the chosen one prophecy has always been a negative for me as well. I think it could have worked out better if the movies would have used it as a launching point to explore the fallacies of the Jedi order. That is a subtextual element of these movies that would have been interesting to explore. Lucas using these stories to comment on power, both political and spiritual, would have been an interesting thing to explore. I feel like Qui Gon’s reluctance to some of the Jedi principles would have made him an interesting character to use to explore the Jedi’s fallacies and his death should inspire Anakin’s rebellion to some of the Jedi’s principles.

There is some good in this movie. While Palpatine is given much to do, the inclusion of Ian McDiarmid is always a welcome one. John Williams’ score is magnificent and The Duel of Fates themes is one of the best pieces of music put on film. The fight that coincides with that theme is also one of the movie’s biggest selling points. Ewan McGregor, while not given much to do in this movie, is also a welcome inclusion and his acting would be one of the saving points of this trilogy. The Phantom Menace is mostly a misfire but some of the movie’s imagination and worldbuilding were fairly interesting and helped give way to concepts used in the excellent Clone Wars series.

Rating 1.5/5

Star Wars: Episode 2-Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones is one of the worst things to ever happen to Star Wars. Released in 2002 and set 10 years after the events of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones almost feels like it is hitting the restart button. I’ve always felt that one could skip The Phantom Menace and still understand everything going on in Attack of the Clones. Characters like Anakin (now played by Hayden Christensen) and Padme are entirely different characters at this point in their life and even though Attack of the Clones builds off some of the political stuff present in The Phantom Menace, that movie was so poorly written and incomprehensible that Attack of the Clones can exist without it, and that is a crime itself.

The plot of the movie again concerns Amidala being protected by two Jedi, this time Obi-Wan and his apprentice Anakin. Most of the plot concerns the developing romance between Anakin and Padme. He woos her by talking about how much sand sucks and she doesn’t even blink when he angrily mentions murdering men, women, and children as an act of revenge. Obi-Wan spends most of his time discovering a hidden plot in which a Clone Army is being created, his fight with Jango Fett and the detective plot is kind of cool even though the scene name drops a character, Master Sifo Dyas, that has never been seen or mentioned before this point. The main villain–besides Darth Sidious who operates in the background–is Count Dooku (played by the wonderful Christopher Lee) who appears way late into the movie’s runtime that makes him feel like a lacking threat. The fact that Dooku was Qui Gon’s former master and Yoda’s apprentice should hold more emotional sway and would work as a poetic reminder of Anakin’s future downfall, but Dooku comes in so late into the movie that he feels less like a character and more of an obstacle to get past. Anakin’s character is also poorly handled. I don’t mind Anakin questioning the Jedi and his Master’s motives but having him portrayed so whiny in unlikable makes his ultimate fall less tragic and more inevitable. I feel like the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker should be more rooted in his heroics and how his lust for power leads to his downfall. There is a moment where Anakin and Padme are talking in a field and he romanticizes authoritarianism and fascist ideology, but this character trait doesn’t feel explored enough. We instead get multiple scenes of him whining to Padme about Obi-wan or his and Padme’s tragic romance.

The good moments in this movie are few and far between, but as I said before I do enjoy the detective plot with Obi-Wan and my nerdy side gets excited watching all the Jedi on the battlefield with ignited lightsabers. I personally don’t find the Yoda fight scene to be all that great, but it is pure fanservice that I know plenty of people enjoy. All in all, Attack of the Clones, like The Phantom Menace is a misfire. George Lucas wants to tell a compelling story showing how Anakin’s fall is connected to war and the politics of that era but he never commits to that idea and the movie comes across as sloppy and mishandled.

Rating 1/5

Star Wars: Episode 3-Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith is a fun Star Wars movie. This movie has its fair share of issues, but unlike the previous two installments, this one is watchable. The characters in this aren’t nearly as poorly done, but this movie has to make up a lot of ground from the previous two movies’ failures. Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid steal the show in this movie though, and honestly, Hayden Christensen has moments where he does a surprisingly decent job. I feel like the actors are unfairly treated for their performances but the screenplays for these movies would even make the best actors look bad, even Ewan McGregor doesn’t come out of this movie unscathed.

The opening of this movie is delightful. I enjoy the witty banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and I feel this movie does a better job of justifying their brotherly love towards one another. They do split off in this movie, but with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, they barely get any screen time together to build up their friendship. Anakin is at his most heroic at the beginning of this movie and his suffering comes in secret. This is Anakin’s movie and while I feel like Christensen’s performance is much better than Attack of the Clones, his fall is so quick and rushed that it doesn’t have any emotional weight to it. The Clone Wars animated show does a better job of exploring Anakin’s fall, his mistrust in the Jedi, and his lust for power and glory. I think for me what makes these movies so frustrating is that there is a good story hidden beneath all the bad. This movie suffers because it is the third movie in a franchise of duds, so no matter how fun and decent it may be it is still marred by those movies’ faults.

I don’t want to complain too much about this movie because despite my grievances I still find it an incredibly entertaining watch. The fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan is wonderful and despite how over the top it gets there is more emotion in that fight than was present in any other scene in these three movies. John Williams brings his A-game again and the music during this scene is amazing. Ultimately, this movie is a mixture of satisfying and disappointing. I think if the movies leading up to this were better handled the story of Anakin’s fall could have been excellent to see. The Clone Wars shows try to patch up some of these movies’ lack of quality but it can’t fix everything. Revenge of the Sith is much more entertaining and pleasing to watch but it still suffers from rushed writing and some poor characterization.

Rating 3/5

Overall:

I have always liked this image.

All three of these movies hold a nostalgic place for me and despite their issues I still find myself coming back to watch them. There was a lot to live up to for these movies. It featured iconic characters who people had a lot of expectations for and the series itself held a lot of expectations. These movies attempt to show the fall of the Republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker and how they relate to each other but they never live up to those lofty goals. This trilogy is marred by poor writing, poor characterization, and a plot that kept trying to move away from the previous bad movie in the series; The Prequel Trilogy never really comes together to tell a compelling story.

Rating 2/5

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Movies Reviews

Godzilla vs. Kong Review

Godzilla vs Kong. Directed by Adam Wingard. Released in 2021. Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Demian Bichir

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #13

Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard, is an improvement over the last installment in the MonsterVerse. Set five years after Godzilla defeated Ghidorah, scientists working for Monarch have been keeping Kong under security so Godzilla wouldn’t come to challenge him. Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) is a conspiracy theorist and podcaster working for Apex Cybernetics and is present as Godzilla attacks the facility where he works. Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) is a fan of his podcasts and believes that Godzilla isn’t attacking without reason, given that he has helped humanity in the past. Fearing for Kong’s life and wanting to stop subsequent Godzilla attacks, a group of scientists, played by Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgard, and Eiza Gonzalez, venture into the center of the Earth to help Kong locate an energy source powerful enough to stop the rampaging Godzilla.


The human characters in this movie are no better than any of the other three installments but like Kong: Skull Island, director Adam Wingard uses them to help further the goofy and fun science fiction plot. King Kong serves as the real protagonist in this movie, and Godzilla is the primary antagonist (well, until a certain mecha shows up), and I think this addition helps make the film much more enjoyable. Instead of the monsters serving the human plots, the humans are serving the monster plot. The action in this movie is fun to watch as well. Watching Godzilla and Kong duke it out in neon lighting was a joy to watch. The other part I enjoyed was the Jules Verne-like plot where the characters Journey to the Center of the Earth. I thought that added a fun and creative sci-fi element that I wasn’t expecting.

Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but who wants that from one of these movies. Most importantly, this movie is fun. It isn’t dragged down by a boring human plot that adds nothing to the film, and it takes what made the other films work and applies them to this movie uniquely and entertainingly. So, if you want to watch a giant atomic lizard and a massive gorilla beat the hell out of each other, look no further than Godzilla vs. Kong.

Rating 3/5

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Movies Reviews Spider-Man

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Spider-Man (2002)

Directed by Sam Raimi. Written by David Koepp. Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, and James Franco.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #11

Before this blog became The Number One Archives, it used to run under a different name. It used to be just me working alone on this blog. Occasionally, I will scroll through older posts that I did in the past. I noticed that there were a series of posts that I never finished. Today, I will finish the posts. The posts were about Sam Raimi’s superhero classic, Spider-Man (2002). After looking back, the posts were me giving summaries of the film while intoxicated. I remember that I was trying to have a movie marathon of the Holy Trilogy (original Spider-Man trilogy) two years ago. I watched the first two Spider-Man films, then I got sleepy so I never watched the third. I still plan on revisiting the third soon. Let’s talk about the first film.

If you haven’t seen the first film by now, shame on you. I will let younger audiences have a pass. They were probably raised in the Andrew Garfield/Tom Holland era more than likely. Tobey Maguire stars as Peter Parker, who is a high school student that gets bitten by a radioactive spider. The bite gifts Parker with powers, such as webbing, enhanced strength, enhanced agility, and spider-sense. After the murder of his beloved Uncle Ben, Parker adopts the moniker of Spider-Man and begins to fight the crime that took away his uncle. Spider-Man will get put to the test as the villain Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) rises to prominence with a pure hatred for the hero. Spider-Man will have to risk his life to protect those he loves from the grasp of the Goblin’s fingertips.

Sam Raimi does an amazing job of capturing the essence of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s work on Amazing Spider-Man. In the film, Peter Parker is a person that we all can relate to. He’s in high school with a few friends and a few bullies. Rosemary Harris (Aunt May) and Cliff Robertson (Uncle Ben) did a fantastic job of recreating that loving environment that Peter Parker had in the comics. Tobey Maguire’s charm that he has helps us to connect with the character and portray to us why the movie characters want to support Parker. He’s a good kid, who has these awful struggles.

The special effects are still great, though a few are starting to look dated. A majority of these effects are still fantastic because Raimi would use practical effects when he had the chance. Spider-Man’s web-slinging through New York still has that fluidity and acrobatic movement that is to admire. The fight scenes are brutal to this day, especially the final fight between Spider-Man and Green Goblin. Raimi manages to get violent as possible while being able to maintain the film’s PG-13 rating. All of the fight scenes are full of emotion as both hero and villain know each other personally.

Raimi does well blending the genres of science fiction and horror together. We get the science of Parker transforming into a hero to Norman Osborn/Green Goblin morphing into a super villain. In these transformation scenes, we get a sense of terror from Raimi’s direction. A prime example is the scene where Norman Osborn injects himself with drugs that make him into a super human. Dafoe goes absolutely absurd with his eyes rolled up in his head during the scene. It’s exciting, yet terrifying. A scene that will stick with you.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is a classic that’s still memorable in millions of minds across the world. It showed that Marvel could be a heavy hitter like they are now in cinema. The world was taken by storm in 2002 when this movie released. It now has inspired several Spider-Man films to follow its path. Be warned…this film induces the drug known as nostalgia.

Overall rating: 4/5.

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Movies Reviews

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring some blocks of wood.

Spring of Sci-Fi #10

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, released in 2019 and directed by Micahel Dougherty, is unfortunately not good. You would think that a movie featuring Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan would be a fun sci-fi romp, but instead, most of the film deals with Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s divorce. I am fine with human drama being the center focus of a Godzilla movie, but it needs to be good human drama. The original 1954 Godzilla deals heavily with human drama and the effect that Godzilla (as a representation of nuclear destruction) has on humanity but this movie’s plot dealing with divorce has no thematic significance to the monster plot of the movie.

Five years after the events of Godzilla 2014, Dr. Emma Russel (Vera Farmiga) is studying the Titan Mothra. She lives with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) who witnesses the birth of Mothra alongside her mother. After they calm the rampaging Mothra down with the Orca, a device that replicates the sonar frequencies of the Titans, they are kidnapped by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), a former British Army Officer turned Eco-Terrorist. Madison’s father Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) is brought on by Monarch to help stop the terrorists who are hoping to destroy humanity to reverse the negative effects of the climate. After waking up Ghidorah, it is revealed that Emma is working with the eco-terrorists and is secretly the mastermind behind their plot; she wants to use the Orca to awaken the kaiju.

I have many problems with this movie, and most revolve around the uninteresting and one-dimensional human characters. This movie wants to be a human drama about dysfunctional families, and I honestly don’t understand why. Godzilla from 2014 has uninteresting human characters, but at least Gareth Edwards uses them to emphasize humanity’s insignificance to these beasts (who one could look at as representing natural disasters). The family drama in this movie in no way connects to the monster drama and battles. The character that should be our protagonist is Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). Ken Watanabe, the actor who plays Dr. Serizawa, even made the connection between natural disasters and the monsters, but the movie doesn’t emphasize that theme. My only issue with this character is his send-off in this movie–SPOILERS AHEAD. Godzilla is defeated by Ghidorah and sinks to the ocean floor to revive himself, this revival could take months or years, time the world does not have, so they plan to nuke Godzilla, reviving him with what originally awoke him in 1954. Dr. Serizawa goes into the cavern and detonates the nuclear bomb, dying to save Godzilla. I’m sorry, but I find it completely strange that this movie uses nuclear bombs to help save the day. This completely disregards the original concept for Godzilla as a comment on nuclear war and destruction. Essentially, nukes save the day, and a Japanese man sacrifices himself with a nuclear bomb to wake the beast that represents the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I wish I could like this movie just for the fights, but that only encompasses maybe 30 to 40 minutes of screen time with nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes devoted to boring human drama. The fights aren’t even the best looking either, marred by shaky cam and weather. I feel like this movie doesn’t even begin to understand what it needs or wants to be. Godzilla 2014 aims to be a drama representing natural disaster; Kong: Skull Island embraces the campiness and is fun to watch; this movie does neither and is a chore to watch. I don’t expect this movie to be the classic that the original Godzilla is, but it could have at least had some fun with its concept.

Rating 1.5/5 (I’m being generous with this rating too)

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Movies Reviews

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Kong: Skull Island. Directed by Jordan Vogt Roberts. Starring King Kong (I could list the actors, but we all know what you are really here to see)

Spring of Sci-Fi Review #9

Kong: Skull Island, released in 2017 and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is the second entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse. Kong: Skull Island is one of the better entries in that universe, embracing the B-Movie concept. The movie begins with two fighter pilots crashing on a beach. It is 1944 during World War 2, and the pilots are American pilot Hank Marlow (played here by Will Brittain, later played by John C. Reily) and Japanese pilot Gunpei Ikari (played by Miyavi). We get our first glimpse at Kong as the two fight on the island and are frozen in their tracks by the massive gorilla. The movie then moves to 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. Monarch agents Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are trying to get to Skull Island. They recruit James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbel), and Cole (Shea Whigham). There are more people on the survey and military teams, but these are the most important. The human characters are insignificant next to Kong, who brutalizes their helicopters on entry. He attacks because they are using bombs to survey the area, killing wildlife and wrecking Skull Islands environment.

One thing about King Kong movies that always irks me is the human characters. They exploit and destroy whatever is in their path for their gain. Bill Randa, the Monarch agent, knows Kong is on the island and uses the bombs to get his attention. This causes Preston Packard, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, to seek revenge on Kong even though they are the ones who invaded his territory. Samuel L. Jackson knows exactly what kind of movie this is and gives one of the better performances in the movie. John C. Reily as Hank Marlow is also great. He serves as a slight comic relief but has an interesting story about wanting to get back home to his wife who he has not seen in nearly 30 years due to being trapped on Skull Island. Other than these two performances, no one else stands out. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson seem like they are set up to be the protagonist of the movie, but have little to no screen time at certain parts of the movie. The characters, like in 2014’s Godzilla, leave a lot to be desired. However, unlike that movie, this movie embraces the B-movie concept and to me is an improvement.

Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining monster movie–which is a lot more violent than I was expecting–with excellent special effects and two performances from Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reily which are entertaining to watch. The rest of the characters are serviceable to what we want to see, and that is the glory of Kong. I was surprised I enjoyed this one more than Godzilla since I have always enjoyed Godzilla’s previous movies more, but this movie was entertaining and fun.

Rating 3.5/5

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Movies Reviews

Sci-Fi Review: Geostorm (2017)

Directed by Dean Devlin. Written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot. Starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, and Ed Harris.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #8

Geostorm is a disaster film that tries to be epic in its scale. Unfortunately, it falls flat. Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, who’s a scientist that has crafted a satellite system that can control the weather on a global scale. The system, called “Dutch Boy,” was developed after the world was hit by several deadly storms that terrorized the planet. The weather system begins to go rogue and satellites start attacking the earth via the weather. Lawson has to figure out who caused the system to go haywire and why they caused the system to do so in order to save the world.

The writing is poorly done in Geostorm as the characters are uninteresting and one-dimensional. The performances by the actors lack any emotional depth. I couldn’t connect with Jake Lawson or any of the supporting cast. The filmmakers tried to craft a sibling rivalry between Jake Lawson and Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess). It’s a sibling rivalry that fails to catch any attention as Butler and Sturgess have no chemistry with one another. Since the film fails at connecting the audience to Jake Lawson, it makes it hard to care about the character saving the day or not. The film also struggles with its final act’s countdown sequence. It keeps showing a timer that lets the audience know when the geostorm will hit. The geostorm is literally happening when the timer is ticking down. It hits and destroys several cities during the timing sequence. The timer is utterly useless.

Another flaw of the film is the special effects. They’re poorly generated and crafted. There’s one sequence where the effects are horrendous, but it did manage to make me laugh. It’s when the geostorm is starting to take shape across the world. The film shows hail, the size of icebergs, hitting the earth. I laughed at the absolute absurdity of how it looked on-screen. It was like Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat having a reign of terror on the human population.

The film’s not a mystery like it aspires to be. It’s not hard to determine who is the cause of the problem. I took a guess at who it was in the beginning of the film and I was right by the end. The antagonist’s reason for triggering these storms is stupid and unnecessary. It’s the typical selfish reason of wanting to control the world.

Geostorm is a lazy attempt at making a sci-fi epic. It clearly draws inspiration from previous disaster flicks. There’s never a sense of true urgency in this film. When we can’t connect with the characters, we’re not gonna care. I wish a tornado would’ve blown my ass away while watching this.

Overall rating: 1.5/5.

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Movies Reviews

Godzilla (2014) Review

Godzilla. Directed Gareth Edwards. Starring Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Sally Hawkins

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #7

We continue our look at The King of the Monsters with the 2014 American-made Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards. This was an enjoyable movie, but it doesn’t live up to the same quality that we see in the 1954 original. The original balanced the characters and Kaiju entertainment well, using Godzilla to tell an allegorical story about the destruction of nuclear war. This movie seems to try and follow the lead, balancing themes of human destruction with stunning spectacle, but unfortunately doesn’t live up to that promise.

The movie begins with clips showing Godzilla being sent back into the sea and the nuclear bombs that woke them. When then see two scientists, Ishiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (played by Sally Hawkins), who work for Monarch, which consists of scientists investigating Kaiju. The movie then moves to Japan following the character Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) an engineer who works with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) at a nuclear power plant in Janjira. Unfortunately, Sandra is killed after a tremor causes the plant to collapse. The area is quarantined and everyone is forced to leave. We cut to 15 years later and Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is a Navy officer returning home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). Ford receives a call that his father has been arrested due to entering the quarantine zone and has to fly to Japan to get him out. After an incident at the former nuclear plant–SPOILERS AHEAD–Joe Brody is killed, and a Kaiju known as MUTO is released. From here we follow Ford as he tries to make his way back home to his wife in San Francisco.

An immediate problem with this movie is the number of characters that it tries to juggle. Like Gareth Edward’s other blockbuster, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this balancing is unfortunately not handled very well and it leaves the characters one-dimensional and incredibly uninteresting. We spend most of our time with Ford as he bounces around the globe, but other than a few heroic acts–such as saving a child on a train so he can make it back to his parents–we don’t get to know Ford. If the movie spent less time on the characters and more time on the Kaiju action this would be less of a problem, but the movie wants the audience to see through the eyes of these bland and dull characters which make the movie’s two-hour runtime a slog sometimes. However, Gareth Edwards does pull it off in the third act creating an awesome fight between the MUTO’s and Godzilla that culminates in an amazing display of power from Godzilla. The creatures and their design are great, with CGI that is jaw-droppingly amazing.

Gareth Edward’s Godzilla is a flawed but epic monster movie. Edwards consistently creates interesting action sequences but is unable to create compelling characters that add drama to those scenes. If you are looking for some giant Kaiju fun check this movie out, but if you are looking for a more human drama mixed in with the Kaiju elements maybe just stick to watching the original. I know I had fun with this movie, but it was a chore in some parts.

Rating 3/5

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Japan Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla. Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Takashi Shimura, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #6

Godzilla, released in 1954 and directed by Ishiro Honda, is a classic science fiction film. Godzilla is truly a landmark of cinema, a piece of history that has inspired numerous films that came after. The franchise that this film has spawned includes 36 films in total; 32 produced in Japan, and 4 produced in America. The most recent of these films is 2021s Godzilla vs. Kong (that will be reviewed on another day, today we focus on the original masterpiece).

Godzilla tells the story of a prehistoric beast awoken after an h-bomb test in the ocean. Godzilla serves as an allegory, dealing with Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s destruction after they were terrorized by nuclear bombs during the Second World War. The film dramatizes the toll that Godzilla’s destruction has had on the lives of the Japanese people. The movie begins with ships destroyed near Odo Island. A paleontologist named Kyohei Yamane (played by the magnificent Takashi Shimura) discovers not only a prehistoric trilobite but also a giant radioactive footprint belonging to Godzilla. It is at this moment that we get our first glimpse of Godzilla. The special effects created by Eiji Tsuburaya are legendary, iconically created a magnificent and terrifying monster that still presides over our screens to this very day.

Godzilla premiered at a landmark time for the sci-fi film. The sci-fi films of the 50s were inspired by the advancement made in science, as well as the destruction that it caused in the war close to a decade earlier. One of the things that makes Godzilla such a powerful film is the connection Japan and the filmmakers had to this destruction. The film serves as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the lives lost in this kind of destruction. Shimura’s Dr. Yamane gives a warning at the end, warning that as long as we continue testing nuclear weapons, Godzilla could rise again. We also get a representation of the nuclear conflict in the character of Serizawa (an excellent performance by Akihiko Hirata). He has designed a dangerous, and possibly a world-ending device that could destroy Godzilla and end his rampage, however; he is torn between helping rid the world of Godzilla but potentially awarding it a destructive weapon on the same level as the atomic bomb. His character’s arc throughout the movie is one of the most dramatically satisfying and helps give the story a soul.

The franchise Godzilla spawned ranges from serious to campy, but this first film is more than a monster movie, it serves as a reminder of the destruction caused at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the lives lost in its wake. Godzilla is powerful, awe-inspiring, terrorizing, and melancholic. It is truly a masterpiece that birthed The King of the Monsters, and he reigns supreme to this day.

Rating 5/5

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Movies

Sci-Fi Movie Release of the Week: Voyagers

Voyagers hits theaters today, April the 9th. The film focuses on a crew of women and men who go on a space expedition to colonize a planet. On the journey, these women and men give in to their primal urges. This causes the trip to spiral into a frightening mess. Some critics are calling this a sexual, space version of Lord of the Flies. It sounds intriguing.

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Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Directed by Robert Wise. Written by Harry Bates and Edmund H. North. Starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Hugh Marlowe. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #5

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi classic by 20th Century Fox. The film is about the arrival of an alien in human form, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who lands in Washington, D.C. with a dire warning. Klaatu comes to the earth as a messenger for all alien life throughout the galaxy. Klaatu speaks to the audience with his towering robot (Gort) by his side. Klaatu’s message to the earth is to be more peaceful or life on earth will cease to exist. The humans of earth learn the meaning of peace in order to save their world.

The film highlights the height of paranoia and fear that our country was suffering from during the 1950s. People were afraid of other races and afraid of people from other countries. The 1950s was the dawn of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Our country would be divided over these issues. Humans on earth automatically assume that Klaatu is a dangerous threat because he’s from outer space. Klaatu comes with the impression of peace, but is quite aware of how violent the earth is. The film takes place during the post-WWII era. Klaatu tells the world that the aliens are okay with them feuding. The alien race doesn’t want atomic weaponry reaching space as one country is planning to send a spaceship with atomic weaponry into orbit. That’s the problem the aliens have with the earth.

Gort (left) and Klaatu (right).

The film does a fantastic job of creating horror in the film without being violent. The camera shots of Gort are expertly structured to make the robot seem menacing. The score/music that accompanies Gort has ominous and bold tones. The beam that comes forth from its eyes is able to penetrate objects and make them disappear into thin air. During the 1950s, radio was a very prominent media source in the delivery of news. The filmmakers use this to their advantage to create a source of tension. In one scene in the beginning of the film, Klaatu wonders the streets of Washington, D.C. at night while the audience can hear broadcasts on the radio of Klaatu’s arrival to earth. It’s creepy and it’s meta in a way. Meta as the broadcasts are about Klaatu and we’re watching Klaatu before us.

Special effects in this film are top notch. The sequence where Klaatu’s spaceship arrives on the earth in Washington, D.C. runs smoothly. The effects aren’t fancy like they are today, but they work for its time period. I mentioned Gort’s eyebeams above. The scenes were Gort uses the beams is effective due to the camera’s close shot onto the face of the robot. It creates the idea that this beam could potentially make the earth disappear.

Although this film is science fiction, it does contain elements of the noir genre. The movie is shot in black and white. The film’s mystery is why this spaceman is on earth. The lighting of the film makes Washington, D.C. an intimate, yet frightening city at night. The sequence where Klaatu leaves his apartment to sneak back to his ship at night is well shot. We have the beauty of the street lamps illuminating while the shadows perfectly cover Klaatu from being seen. It makes sense for the filmmakers to blend these two genres together since the genres were at their height during this time.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic that all sci-fi fans need to see at least once. It’s a sci-fi film that encapsulates the events in politics from the 1940s to the early 1950s. It’s a film that teaches peace over violence. The Day the Earth Stood Still reminds us of the choice that we have every day whether to be peaceful or violent towards others. This film’s message is still effective for even today.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.