Godzilla: King of the Monsters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Toho
Directed by Michael Dougherty
I may have been a bit cold about the first Godzilla film (no not the one from 1954 and no not the FIRST Hollywood version) which had a tendency to favor human drama over monster punching action, but with Kong: Skull Island being a phenomenal bit of bloody adventure action and the trailers for this film looking absolutely gorgeous, it looks like things may finally be kicking into high gear for the once and future king! Shoot, they managed to get MOTHRA in this! What more could you possibly ask for!? Does the latest Godzilla movie live up to its title as King of the Monsters, or is this further evidence that the big green guy’s day in the spotlight has come to an end? Well probably not the latter since Shin Godzilla was pretty awesome and Toho isn’t about to give up this cash cow anytime soon, but let’s find out!!
Following the events of Godzilla 2014 (and technically Kong: Skull Island as well), the world is now hyper aware of Kaiju being a “thing” they just have to deal with now, and ever since Godzilla kicked those monsters’ butts the last time more and more seem to be popping up all over the place. Fortunately Monarch, the secret organization that studies Kajiu, has been keeping them either asleep or in cages so as not to cause further catastrophe, though I do wonder exactly where they get their funding if the government is constantly calling them in for hearings to tell them how bad they are at their job. Ah, it probably doesn’t matter! What DOES matter is that one of the Monarch scientist Dr. Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) have been KIDNAPPED by… anti-Kaiju terrorists I guess (led by Charles Dance) and are planning something NEFARIOUS with her research which involves communicating with Kaiju. Good thing she’s got a self-pitying ex-husband named Mark (Kyle Chandler) who’s off somewhere still brooding about his son who died during the first movie, and Monarch calls him in to… help I guess. I mean they’ve already got Dr. Serizawa from the last film (Ken Watanabe) as well as Dr. Chen and Dr. Chen (Zhang Ziyi) who are Kaiju experts, Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) who cracks jokes and does science stuff, and even a couple of army people including Jackson Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who cracks jokes as well, so why are they throwing in a guy who explicitly wants all the Kaiju killed into the pro-Kaiju organization? I guess to try and figure out how those kidnapping Kaiju-haters think? So now this rag tag group of scientists and random dudes are off to stop the anti-Kaiju terrorists from waking up all the monsters which I guess will show people that the monsters are bad… or something. Hey, isn’t Godzilla supposed to be in this movie at some point?
Underworld: Blood Wars and all the images you see in this review are owned by Screen Gems
Directed by Anna Foerster
They managed to fit both an Underworld sequel and the final Resident Evil movie in the same month!? I mean sure, we’ve got a crappy horror movie and that Monster Trucks things as well, but way to step it up for January! Okay so NEITHER franchise is what you’d call paragons of cinematic exceptionalism, but they’re both fun in their own right and I remember the last Underworld movie being the best so far which this is a direct sequel to. Then again, the LAST direct sequel (Underworld Evolution) wasn’t a bright spot for the franchise, but maybe they’ve learned their lesson since then and can elevate this franchise to heights comparable to the MCU! Okay, MAYBE that’s a bit hyperbolic, but at least it’ll probably be better than the DCCU. Does this monster mash continue to kick ass and take names, or is this fifth entry the final stake through the heart that will finally kill this franchise? Let’s find out!!
When we last left our fearless hero Selene (Kate Beckinsale) she had stopped some sort of plot by werewolves to kill all the vampires. Standard stuff for this series, but the added twist was that Selene had a daughter… while she was in some sort of cryo-chamber or something. Well this one picks up some time later where Selene has sent off her daughter to someplace that even SHE doesn’t know where so that she can be protected if the werewolves or the vampires want to use her super blood. If you’ve been following these movies (or listen to the opening monologue that catches everyone up in this one), Selene and her one true love Michael (Sir Not Appearing In This Movie) are super special monsters; the latter because he’s half vampire half werewolf, and the former because… I honestly don’t recall. I THINK it had to do with Evolution, but whatever. The point is that Eve is the combination of a super vampire and a hybrid, so HER blood is AMAZING and everyone either wants a piece of Selene to get to her or they want her head on a stick because of all the super heroics she’s done previously, and this includes the vampires who are still salty about her cutting off half of Bill Nighy’s head that one time. That said, even though I don’t remember the exact reason WHY that happened, I assume it was justified because it was Bill Nighy. Alright, so that’s all the backstory leading into this movie, now what is the movie actually about? Selene is given a chance to earn forgiveness from the vampires if she comes back and works as some sort of trainer for their raw recruits in their army which is of the utmost concern considering this damn war between the werewolves and vampires is starting to turn against them and they are desperate for anything that will help them turn the tide; even if it’s from the one who cut off Bill Nighy’s head. The reason for this change of fortunes seems to be the werewolves’ new leader Marius (Tobias Menzies) who’s managed to corral them into an effective fighting force and also seems to be the primary one after Selene or Eve’s blood… for some reason. Like I said, she’s a SUPER vampire now, so I’m sure the werewolves can figure out a good use for it! Now with all that working against the vampires, including the fact that their basically down to two covens, you’d think they’d ACTUALLY work together, but unfortunately there are some bad apples there who are hoping to not only seize control of the coven, but frame Selene for awful crimes in the process. Could it be returning characters David and Thomas (Theo James and Charles Dance), newcomers to the series Semira and Varga (Lara Pulver and Bradley James) or someone else that I won’t even name!? What about those albino vampires that look like they’re stuck on top of a snowy mountain? Where do they fit into all this? The real question though is does ANY of this matter when you’ve got VAMPIRES SHOOTING MACHINE GUNS!?
Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters (1984) are both owned by Columbia Pictures
The new movie has finally come out we can all confirm that the world has not plunged into forty years of darkness, but while there have yet to be any reports of rivers and seas boiling or dogs and cats living together, there’s denying that we indeed saw some mass hysteria . Hopefully all that will subside soon enough, but those people have already gotten more attention than they deserve and it’s been difficult to keep everything in perspective as some people decided that the success or failure of this movie was going to be the crescendo in some childhood ruining man hating agenda, so trying to have a measured conversation about the strengths of both this new film and the original it’s based off of has not been an easy task. Thankfully we can hopefully start taking a measured look at both films’ individual merits and how one movie might have done somethings better than the other without having the more obnoxious among us either use it as proof that we are biased or evidence that the new movie is horrible. To kick that discussion off, here’s my own examination of both films and how one stacks up to the other based on important aspects that are in both films!
Who Ya Gonna Call? (The Crew)
This new movie made two fantastic decisions right off the bat. It was a reboot instead of a sequel, and they didn’t try to make these new characters analogues for the original crew. No one in this movie is a recreation of someone from the last film which means that we don’t have to play the WHO DID IT BETTER game on individual actors (a decision also wisely made by the Evil Dead reboot), and similarly I’m so glad that this new Ghostbusters team is not the trainees, or even worse THE DAUGHTERS, of the original crew which would have completely ruined what makes these new characters so interesting. Look, I’m well aware that this is a movie starring women that FIRST had to be done by men, but the fact that it’s not the case in the movie itself is an inspiring message to young girls to be proactive and forge their own paths. A lot of people who are upset about this movie seem to think it would have been better if this was a passing of the torch story which is a concept that worked pretty well for Star Wars, but there’s no way it would have worked here. At least in that movie there’s a whole universe to explore and the new people wouldn’t necessarily be in the shadows of the original cast allows them to do their own thing; something that would be infinitely harder here if the new Ghostbusters were still using the same logos, firehouse, equipment, jumpsuits, what have you that the original cast were wearing twenty years ago and everyone in the movie knew that. It wouldn’t be able to be its own thing as it would constantly be in the shadows of the original members who are still hanging around the background and would take attention away from the brilliant actors that are the real stars here.
Ghostbusters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Paul Feig
No other movie this year, save MAYBE Batman v Superman, had as much drama and passion as this reboot of a classic eighties comedy. A very vocal minority of people were deadest on hating this from the word go with nothing more to go on than the idea that it would star women instead of men, and they haven’t shut the hell up about it since then; effectively drowning out any legitimate criticism that was levied against the movie. It’s true that this is a reboot and that Ghostbusters was a very much a movie of its time (not only in concept but also the fact that comedies just don’t have the same clout and reverence they did back in the eighties), but I was still genuinely interested in seeing this based on who they ended up casting and some of the better moments in the trailer. Does this manage to live up to the hype as a patriarch smashing masterpiece, or will it live up to the OTHER hype of being the worst possible thing to ever happen to anyone at any time in history? Probably neither, but is it at least good? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Columbia Physics professor Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) being forced to confront an old colleague of hers, namely Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) over a book they wrote years ago on the paranormal which she has since disowned but has recently resurfaced and may pose a threat to her bid for tenure at the university. Abbey never stopped her research and is angry at Erin for abandoning her those many years ago so she’s not too keen to help her out and has even gotten a new partner in crime in the form of super engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and they’re both trying to get evidence that ghosts really do exist. Opportunity comes a-knocking for all three of them however as Abby and Holtzmann (with Erin along for the ride trying to get Abby to take her name off the book) actually do run into a ghost and get footage of it on camera. Unfortunately, the video goes viral, Erin gets fired from the University, and all three of them can’t get anyone to believe the story. Still, this is some groundbreaking stuff they’ve uncovered, so they pool all their money together to begin a start-up company and relocate to the attic of a Chinese restaurant (a firehouse looked promising, but was WAY too expensive). As they perfect their craft and Holtzmann works on the weapons, they eventually meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who saw a ghost at the subway station she works at and enlists the Ghostbusters to bust it before eventually joining the team, as does Kevin Beckman (chris Hemsworth) who becomes their secretary because no one else bothered to apply for the job. While all this is going on by the way, there’s some creepy dude named Rowan (Neil Casey) who seems to be setting up devices that amply the strength of ghosts that are already haunting various places in NYC and is clearly planning something much bigger. Can the Ghostbusters find out Rowan’s evil plan before it’s too late? Will the world even accept them as anything more than frauds and Ghost Hunter knock offs? Is there ANY chance that those determined to hate this movie will feel any different by actually watching it? I’m gonna guess no on that last one.