Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla vs. Kong

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Godzilla vs. Kong and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of King of the Monsters which was particularly surprising to me as I always get a kick out of seeing giant monster movies!  There was just too much pretention and import without enough depth or butt kicking fight scenes to justify how lethargic much of it was, but if there was anything about the movie that caught my interest (aside from them using the Blue Oyster Cult song for the credits), it was the promise of seeing Godzilla and the King Kong from Kong: Skull Island lace up the gloves and duke it out in a battle to end all battles!  Well the one thing that giant monsters were not able to overcome was the Pandemic as this got pushed back for several months, but the day has finally arrived and they even put it on HBO Max to boot!  Is this the titanic clash between two legendary movie monsters we’ve all been waiting for, or is this a bigger letdown than Batman v Superman?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch has decided that instead of leaving Kong alone on his mysterious island that is probably not even on Godzilla’s radar, they’ll capture him, chain him up, and put him in a fake jungle so that… I guess he and Godzilla don’t have a punch up.  It seems that Kong himself wasn’t consulted on this as he’s constantly wrecking up his cage and has to be restrained whenever he’s out of it, but in any case, along with that there’s a new Super Science company in town named Apex run by some dude named Walter (Demián Bichir) who believes that there’s some sort of Unobtanium-like SUPER OIL that requires drilling even deeper into the Earth to get.  How deep?  Well so deep that apparently you empty out into a whole new world which is where the monsters they’ve been dealing with are actually from.  A rag tag team of scientists are assembled to try and prove this Hollow Earth theory and since they’ve already got a giant monster under lock and key, they can use his… something something science babble to help them find the entrance to the Hollow Earth and make perhaps the greatest discovery in all of human history!  Said team is made up of some geologist dude (Alexander Skarsgård), Kong’s caretaker (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter (Kaylee Hottle), and Walter’s very annoyed daughter (Eiza González) along with like five or six nameless army dudes. Now all this however assumes that Godzilla, the supposed protector of Earth, doesn’t come in and wreck Apex/Monarch’s plans, but hey I guess if they’ve got Kong on hand anyway, why not let him punch the giant lizard a few times along the way?  Oh, and Millie Bobby Brown is back on a Goonies adventure to discover the secrets of Apex along with a nerd (Julian Dennison) and a conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry) who has no problem dragged teenagers along on a life threatening adventure.  Then again, Rebecca Hall has someone even younger tagging along with her, so either way there seems to be way too many irresponsible grown-ups running around here.  Will Apex and Monarch be able to find the hidden entrance to the Hollow Earth and perhaps find some answers about Kong as well?  What does Apex want with this new energy source, and could Godzilla’s recent aggression towards them be somehow connected?  Am I the only one picturing a better movie where the giant ape and the giant lizard just say SCREW this and work together to destroy everyone involved with this ridiculous venture!?

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“Join me, brother! These humans care NOTHING for our kind!” “I would, but… your face… is so… PUNCHABLE!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Godzilla vs Kong)

Godzilla vs Kong and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

Warner Bros’ bold move to release their movies on streaming the same day as theaters is going to be one of the more interesting stories of 2021, and this film is probably going to be the one indicate its direction.  Sure they gave us Wonder Woman 1984, but that had been delayed so long and theaters were still staying closed for the foreseeable future that it almost felt like WB throwing the world a bone or perhaps even a Christmas present.  A present that was pretty wonky and not nearly as its predecessor, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.  This one is a bit different because the vaccine means that people are going to try and get back to a normal life; some faster than others while the responsibility of such actions remains… dubious at best.  I’m HOPING things get fixed before the Summer, but I’m guessing there’s going to be more than enough people out there saying it’s already fixed today.  So with that said, this movie is one that COULD conceivably be delayed for a full theater release without waiting too long, but WB is committed to this strategy and we’ll have to see how it pays off for them; if releasing these big blockbusters on streaming will build up HBO Max enough to offset the costs, or if they are just throwing money down the drain because they couldn’t wait for a safer time to release.  As interesting as all that is though, we’re here to talk about the trailer that they released so let’s take a look at it!

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My biggest fear going into this is that I was NOT a fan of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and that this would be a continuation of that.  I found the whole thing rather insufferable with just how much the overwrought drama weighed down the monster fighting action of which there was already a dearth of.  Oh sure, you can go back to the Japanese Godzilla films and point out how much human drama was in THOSE, but first I wouldn’t say they were SPECTACULAR either, and second they didn’t have a bloated runtime dragging things down even more.  Twenty minutes of Kaiju action in a ninety minute movie is better than twenty-five minutes of Kaiju action in a hundred and thirty minute movie; especially when the action itself is obscured by so much bad weather.  Frankly the giant dudes in costumes brawling in full day light may not have looked the best but had a lot more charm than King of the Monsters. 

TEAM KONG, ALL THE WAY!!
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Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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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?

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“I’m only here for one day, so make it count!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho, and The Pokémon Company

Directed by Rob Letterman

I know you all are just on PINS AND NEEDLES waiting to find out if this movie is good… unless you’ve already seen it. Seriously, I need to get somewhere that’ll show these things like two days before release date because APPARENTLY EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD GETS TO DO THAT! Sigh… anyway, so Pokémon is no doubt one of the cornerstones of nineties nostalgia which means that we are officially getting too old, but it’s also one of those franchises that has remained popular in all that time, unlike say Transformers which always had a fan-base but one that certainly waned past the eighties. Because of that this has a chance to appeal to not just the adults in the audience who grew up on Red and Blue, but also the kids who enjoyed whatever the heck those Pokémon Mystery Dungeon things were, and not only that but probably the first video game movie to really capture the spirit of the material outside the rather awesome Resident Evil movies. And the DOOM movie; don’t at me! Is this the greatest movie of all time that will span the generational divide and bring us all together in such turbulent times, or perhaps are we a bit TOO overexcited about seeing the cuddly creatures on the big screen? Let’s find out!!

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is basically the opposite of your average man child in the Pokémon universe. Instead of going out and exploring the world at the age of ten, he went to school and got a real job at an insurance company. I mean say what you will about getting a nine to five, at least you don’t have to survive off fight money and live in a tent! Yes, Tim is happy with his boring life which is free of Pokémon for… reasons, but then his idyllic life in a small town comes crashing down when he gets a letter in the mail informing him that his father died in a mysterious car crash. Not only that, he was a cop in Ryme City which is unique for letting Pokémon just walk around instead of being confined to balls, and I THINK it was founded by Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who owns Clifford Enterprises which is a… company that does business stuff I guess. Anyway, Tim gets to town, goes to his father’s apartment who rather strangely has a children’s bedroom set up for his twenty-one year old son who hasn’t visited in YEARS, and he tries to figure out the fastest way to deal with all this before he goes back to his normal life. Sadly things are not about to go his way as a rouge Pikachu with amnesia in a Stantler stalker cap (Ryan Reynolds) has broken into his place and is certain that his father is still alive. With much hesitation and after one terrifying Pokémon attack, Tim finally agrees to help Pikachu solve whatever mystery is underway; enlisting the help of investigative journalist slash intern Lucy (Kathryn Newton) and her awesome Psyduck! Will Tim discover the truth behind his father’s disappearance and will he reunite with him once again? Where did this talking Pikachu come from, and what connection does he have to all of this? Is this gonna be the very best that no movie ever was, or should you be… preparing for trouble!?

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“A talking Meowth? That is SO 1999.” “Well at least more than one person can hear him.” “BUT DOES HE HAVE A HAT!?”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Let’s Look At the Trailers from Comic Con 2018!

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The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one!  So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!

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SHAZAM!

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Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.

I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much.  Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies.  It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero.  That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking.  The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer.  I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part.  I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer.  If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.

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“I know we’re taking this, but we stopped the bad guys in the process so let’s just call it a wash, alright?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Shin Godzilla

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Shin Godzilla and all the images you see in this review are owned by Toho

Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi

I may not be the biggest fan of the King of the Monsters as I’ve probably seen seven or eight of his movies at most, but giant monster movies are right up my alley when they’re done right.  Now we’ve recently gotten our own Born in the USA Godzilla movies which is another of his films I haven’t seen (yet somehow I’ve seen the Roland Emmerich one), but this is the first Godzilla movie in over a decade from Japan and Toho itself, with their last outing being Godzilla: Final Wars which is one of the more… interesting entries in the franchise and is one of the films I’ve actually seen (imagine if there were WWE monster matches happening the background of a Matrix sequel and you get the basic idea).  Now while I would have liked to get a more toned down version of that kind of movie with updated effects, this time around they’re trying to get back to basics and rediscover what made the character such a force to be reckoned with when he first premiered in 1954; a mere nine years after we dropped the nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Oh look!  It’s been five years since the earthquake that causes that nuclear crisis in Japan!  Maybe it really is the perfect time to take this character out of retirement.  Does the movie succeed in making Godzilla the cinematic powerhouse he once was, or is this yet another failed reboot of a series long past its prime?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with some odd seismic activity happening just off the coast of Tokyo that’s causing underwater tunnels to leak and a major disruption of government services to the area.  The Prime Minister (Ren Ohsugi) has called in various experts to find out what the hell is going on in the bay, but only one of his aides, Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa), is paying attention to social media which is saying that there’s a giant monster just below the waves.  Sure enough, Godzilla comes roaring out and rampages the city before diving back underwater.  Well CLEARLY no one was ready for that, so the Prime Minister assigns Rando to head up an Anti-Godzilla task force where the best minds of Japan will try to figure out the monster’s weakness before the next attack which can put the entire country, if not the whole world, at great risk.  Of course, this creature didn’t just come out of nowhere.  Well okay; I THINK it did, but there’s one country (take a guess which one) that seems to have a bit more information than they’re leading on and have sent a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), to assist in whatever ways she can… while keeping her country’s interest in mind.  Can the Anti-Godzilla Task force stop this creature from taking its problems out on the citizens of Japan?  Where exactly did this creature come from and what does the rest of the world know about him?  Can I please get a plushie of this new Godzilla design!?

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“I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP!!”

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