Archive for the ‘Creature Features’ Category

I’ll start by saying it’s been a while since I’ve last written a review so here goes:

Godzilla

Before we get into the review I will warn they may be possible spoilers throughout:

So where do I begin?

Well I guess an introduction to Godzilla isn’t really needed as he really is such a cultural icon, which makes it hard to find a suitable opening. Anyway we’ll give it a go.

Now having 27  films in the Japanese series, and 4 American pictures (even if one of them is just the original Godzilla film with an American actor slipped in) Godzilla is one of the longest running film franchises around. This newest incarnation is helmed by the great Gareth Edwards of ‘Monsters’ fame. Where ‘Monsters’ was a low budget almost indie film made with pretty much no crew, 2 actors, a camera and a load of CGI done on a home computer, this is a much larger beast (like the creatures in the film). This film has hundreds of cast and crew and effects that rival pretty much all films on the market today, plus a budget of over 20 times what ‘monsters’ had. I wondered if the money would go straight to Edwards’ head like numerous directors nowadays but I was gladly surprised.

The film is hands down one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had at the cinema in a long while especially after the travesty that was ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′. For me almost everything about it worked, not that there aren’t a few issues which I will get to in due time, but let me just say I really liked this film.

For me one of the things that really worked and in a way didn’t work were the characters in the story. Much like Edwards’ earlier film ‘Monsters’ (sorry to keep mentioning it but it does feel like Edwards has taken a lot from his previous effort and implemented aspects into this film) he focuses very much on the relationships of the characters involved and does really make you care about some of them. The broken relationship between Bryan Cranston’s ‘Joe’ and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s ‘Ford’ is brilliant and they really do feel like father and son. the same can be said for Joe and his Wife. Everything kinda gels with the characters. But they also feel kind of pointless. we get these relationships and we get these characters but they ultimately mean nothing. the character of ‘Ford’ simply exists as a plot device to take us where the monsters are going. he doesn’t really learn or accomplish anything in the film. the only real character that does is ‘Joe’ but even then it kind of feels pointless. the fact they are pointless doesn’t necessarily mean that the characters aren’t the main focus of the film either because you could argue they are but they feel like something is missing.

The other issue I have with the ‘pointless’ characters is Elizabeth Olsen’s ‘Elle’. she is simply inserted, again as a plot device to try and bring ‘Ford’ home to her. without her there would be little reason for ‘Ford’ to keep moving with the monsters, but at the same time she is completely wasted. She is kind of necessary to the story but at the same time is not.

You may notice that I keep on mentioning ‘Monsters’ in plural and that is because this film has more than one monster. This is one of the films biggest assets as it truly harks back to the Godzilla films of old. In this film Godzilla IS NOT the bad guy and I love that fact. The monster on monster fights are handled really well even if you cleverly see very little of all but the final battle. The CGI is very impressive and for the most part blends seamlessly with the real environments and actors. In a way it feels very much like the other large creature film ‘Pacific Rim’ which also featured amazing effects and sound and an equally large number of pointless characters.

In a way the film ‘Pacific Rim’ has lessened the impact of ‘Godzilla’ due to it’s similarly large monsters and epic battles (you could argue it was the best non-Godzilla, Godzilla film in recent memory). that’s not to say this isn’t amazing when the action really ramps up. The final battle really is amazing and really feels like the Godzilla’s of old (minus the man in rubber  suit dramatics).

there are a few other odd negatives such as a military compound that no-one seems to have noticed has a giant hole in the side of it, the sheer collateral damage the fighting monsters do that seems to go unnoticed, the fact that the creature is far larger then it’s ‘cocoon/egg’.  there are probably a few more but they were not important. In fact none of the negatives I mention really detract from this film.

When all is said and done this is kind of what you’d expect from a large budgeted Godzilla film. Its loud, big and has awesome action. but in a way has far less action then you may expect. In its 2 hour runtime less than half is action, but when they come some of the set-pieces are breathtakingly awesome (like the amazing Halo jump features in the trailer).

So as you may have guessed I really like this film (although I may have focused on more negatives then positives weirdly). It’s rekindled my love of Godzilla and has spurred me on to watch all of the old ones again ( including the Roland Emmerich 1998 film that I also really enjoy. It’s fun and delivers on what it sets out to do) and possibly the animated series that was also produced.

All in all I’d highly recommend watching this film if you like this kind of cinema (most of you reading this have probably already seen the film or are planning to see it so you know who you are) I’d give it a strong 8/10.

 

godzilla image property of warner brothers and is used in fair use.

This review is an edited / rewritten version of the first film review I ever wrote (hopefully with much better grammar)  and is based on the UK DVD release of the film……..

Yet another creature feature produced by the ‘great’ Phillip Roth.

Who is Phillip Roth? I here you ask…

Well, over the last 10 or so years Phillip Roth has lent his producing hand to numerous creature features, this film included. He seems to have a knack for finding films that have the possibility of being quite good and therefore in terms of creature features, he is the name to look out for. This is one of the reasons I got excited about ‘Python II’ the third film in the kind of ‘Python VS Boa’ quadrilogy. The first of these films Python, starred the great acting talents of Robert Englund, Casper Van Dien, Will Wheaton and William Zabka (the bad kid from ‘Karate Kid”). It was a great film, full of fun and some great sequences of suspense (not to mention sheriff Python the Bomb Defusing Snake – you’ll understand when I review it.)

The second film entitled either ‘New Alcatraz’ or ‘Boa’ starred the great Dean Cain (the New Adventures of Superman) it was very different form ‘Python’ in the fact it was set in a giant underground prison in the middle of Antarctica. (Like ‘Python’ I plan on reviewing this film at a later date) Needless to say, the film was again a great piece of fun filmmaking and was this time directed by Phillip Roth. It had its flaws, but was still highly enjoyable.( This one featured Deputy Boa the Parachuting Snake – again you’ll understand later)

This brings us to the third part in the series which ids entitled Python II (although the UK DVD release is entitled ‘Snakes: Mankind has found a new enemy’ – worst title ever. I have no idea why as it just made finding ‘Python II’ that much harder. when I finally realised it was the third part I just found myself getting annoyed with the UK distributors. They also have trouble with roman numerals on the case writing world war 111 instead of III. It’s little thing#s like this that make reading DVD boxes amusing.)

The film semi continues on from the previous Python film. I say semi as it is only really a sequel by name and some of the actors (namely William Zabka reprising his role as Greg Larson, the sheriff). Zabka is possibly the only ‘good’ thing in this film, but that is only because they’ve changed him from a good guy to the main human villain of the picture.

Where the original film proved to be amusing for almost its entire run time (mainly due to the wonderful Robert Englund), this one fell to pieces during it’s opening scenes. Gone are the following:

  • Amusing one liners
  • Casper Van Dien’s hilariously bad russian accent
  • Some pretty good acting for a creature feature
  • Sheriff Python the bomb defusing snake (who is also a master of disguise)

What we are left with is a boring ‘Ten Little Indians’ like story of a commando unit trying to capture an 85 foot snake that is running (slithering) loose in an underground military base.

The film begins with an overlong sequence where a military unit are trying to capture the giant snake of the title in a 6 foot long box. (the snake is clearly far bigger than 6 foot. I have no idea of how they plan on fitting it in. Even if they cut it up I still think it would be far far to big. If they had numerous 6 foot boxes I may understand but they don’t.) The sequence reuses the same death footage again and again to give the film a longer running time. The opening should be enough to tell you what you’re getting yourself in for.

After this it is essentially the same plot as the first film, just in an underground bunker kinda like Boa in fact, albeit with a worse script, worse CGI and worse acting. The only promising moment in the film is when Zabka returns towards the end, but even he can’t make up for what’s come before. ( it is amazing how the special effects are worse than the first Python film made 2 years previous.)

Before you say; ‘This sounds like the perfect film to watch over beers!’ It’s not. I watched it with a 2 other friends (all of us usually enjoying this sort of film) One friend fell asleep while me and my other friend discussed how we would have made a better film (we still plan on making our version).

To round this whole thing off I’d say that the film has no real redeeming qualities and really isn’t worth the time. You’re better off just watching the first two films in the series and imagining a third which focuses on sheriff Snake and his newly opened Bomb defusal business, which may or may not be set all across the globe. (Please someone make this film).  2/10 (It’s still better than some films I’ve seen and does feature a giant albeit poorly CGI’d snake)

KOMODO VS COBRA      – 2005 – directed by Jim Wynorski

INTRO:

Komodo vs Cobra is a creature film from 2005. Directed and co-written by genre veteran Jim Wynorski (Gargoyle, Raptor, Curse of the Komodo), KvC proved to be one of the first in a long line of creature vs creature films. Since release KvC has gotten bad press because of its poor use of CGI, poor scripting, dodgy acting and bad plot. As such many wouldn’t even give it a second glance, but I believe it ranks up there with some of the best creature features and I’ll tell you why:

SUMMARY:

A group of animal rights activists  hire grumpy sailor (played by B-movie hero Michael Paré*) with the hope of exposing animal testing happening on a small (military) island. Upon arriving the group find the island deserted (basically a way of saving money during production). They finally come across a Dr. Richardson who explains that everyone on the island is dead, thus leading us to a full blown explanation (including badly filmed flashbacks) of what happened. Basically they were developing a compound to make edible plants grow to a super size (I think to solve world hunger but I’m not sure) when the military intervened and used the compounds on Komodo Dragons and King Cobras (because these are apparently the best creatures to use as weapons?) Of course all went wrong and the beasts escaped and ate pretty much everything on the island (including the humans in the underground bunker which has corridors far smaller than both the Cobra and the Komodo). Now begins the team’s desperate attempt to escape the island alive (baring in mind they got all the way to the labs without even seeing said ‘giant’ creatures, I’d have said their chances were pretty good. But who am I to say).

Throughout their journey off the island the group of course end up bumping into both creatures, independently until the climax of the film when they face off against both creatures at once (kinda). The CGI on the creatures is appalling, it is easily some of the worst I’ve seen (possibly even worse than Python II and that is pretty bad….). A great example of how bad it all is is from their first encounter with the Cobra. It kind of just appears from behind a small bush (it confused me slightly but I went with it) and decides it’s going to eat a member of the group. When it goes in for the kill the man just stops and looks up. We (the audience) can clearly see that they have just taken a still image of the man allowing the poorly animated snake to just slot it’s jaws over the top of him. It looks really bad. The other great example is the end battle between the creatures of the title. During this battle (and the rest of the film to be fair) Michael Paré just stands and fires with his guns with infinite ammo (well they may not be infinite but I lost count when he had fired 132 shots from two pistols without reloading). This battle is the one that most who have heard of the film may have seen on YouTube where the video simply is uploaded as a way of trying to say the movie is the worst movie ever made (which it really isn’t).

With the CGI being so awful, you’d have thought the acting would also be terrible. You’d be right. everyone in the film is awful except for Mr Paré. He holds the film on his back much like the titan Atlas holding the world on his shoulders (just on a slightly smaller scale). If you asked me who any of the other actors were I couldn’t honestly tell you, they were just there to die really. The script doesn’t really help matters but to be fair I don’t blame the script, I just think the actors were bad.

The number of bad things go on and on but there is one really good thing….. The score. I really liked the musical score for the film and even if it felt out-of-place at a lot of times it was good enough to distract from the bad acting.

VERDICT:

So…. This is where I’m meant to tell you all to stay away from this film…

But I’m not..

I really enjoyed the film because it is so incredibly bad. Many creature films are ‘bad yet good’ but this for me is up there with the best. I think in all honesty the main reason for me loving the film so much is the fact that it has Michael Paré. I think he is a great actor and he looks like he is having so much fun in this film. He is enough to save this film from being plain bad. When people say that this is the worst film ever (I’ve heard many a person say this) I can’t imagine what they would have been expecting. If you go into a film entitled ‘Komodo Vs Cobra’ expecting to see another ‘Citizen Kane’ then I can see why you’d be disappointed (but who would do that? Honestly) If you go into it expecting what it is, a lower level (opposed to high budget features like ‘Tremors’ or ‘Arachnophobia’) ‘Creature feature’ I can’t see how you’d be disappointed.

I say if you like this sort of film you should watch it. It’s fun and reasonably fast paced.     7/10

*It’s a shame Michael Paré’s career never went much further than B-movie greatness. He really is a great actor……. Check out ‘Streets of fire’, it’s one of his first films and also one of my favourite films of all time……