12.25.2010


Review: Guilala's Counterattack


WARNING: Spoilers Present. Don't like it - don't read it.
Rating: 7/10
Special thanks to Lee Merrit for making this review possible

While most kaiju filmmakers right now are either making short films with good SFX progress or helping to add to the action sourced epicness of the Ultra Galaxy film series, there was one who brought it upon himself to make something in just the other way: make the film seem late Showa-esque while trying to do what the old Showa films and some other films (every now and then) since have done - comment on the times (as all good SF does). Minoru Kawasaki does this - to an extent - with "Guilala’s Counterattack: Attack on the G8 Summit". How does the proclaimed "Tim Burton/Ed Wood of Japan" fair with kaiju?


This is not the first time that Kawasaki has done kaiju. In addition to his cameo in the Toru-San films, Guilala was featured in "Zettai Yaseru Den Ace Uchu Dai Kaiju Girara Tojo! / Space Kaiju Shoshingeki", which is a Henshin spoof from Kawasaki (a straight to video release - released 2 days after the initial press release regarding the production of "Guilala’s Counterattack"). With the film, Kawasaki tried to make the film political in the same sense of "Gojira" (1954). However, the road used to achieve such a task is not through dialogue and use of metaphor in a serious tone. Instead, he presents us with a living caricature.


This is something which could cause a debate with viewers. Many cannot decide on the extent on which the caricatures go, on weather it was meant or too exaggerated with some of the ridiculousness just naturally coming from the gaijin. In my opinion, the script’s dialogue for the politicians is 100% intentional satirical intentionally. It comes off as such. As for the gaijin, whether they played it in the same way or if they tried to take some of it seriously (which may have been funnier in some cases) is unknown to me. The acting is so flat I cannot make the distinction. However, some of the comments seem to come off as blatant political incorrectness instead of satirical elements. Even after that, some of the dialogue also seems to have borrowed some traits from the anime, "Hetalia: Axis Powers" - having character represent whole countries and yet instead of talking professionally say things which pretty much come from the general feeling coming from the country based on what the people want and what the country has done in the past.


With the screenplay commenting on matters regarding politics at the time and troupes within the kaiju genre (Burdenous adolescents and people not really singing to the chants on the soundtrack at times), but in a scene in which a television news show interviews some people, puts kaiju films in real life and we see Kawasaki’s commentary about them. The long haired man with sun glasses at the beginning of this scene is particularly interesting, having mentioned Baragon and Varan. He doesn’t care really about the damage Guilala is doing, in fact he thinks it is a cool way to die - the latter being a sentiment a good number of American fans deal with. This shows that kaiju films (in this case, the Toho variety) would dull our sense of danger if a real life kaiju attack was to take place. After "Godzilla vs. Megalon", who can take kaiju too seriously? GMK and Cloverfield is not enough to help reinstate the sense of dread the films once possessed.


With the lack of care, we see a kaiju’s effect on a real life economy. A bakery is selling Guilala hot cakes and Guilala candy. Their response when asked about it is, "I feel bad for the victims, but business is business". Capitalism, no matter how gratifying (those in the US know that. Sure, recessions and depressions are sucky but when inflation comes about it is awesome), is a source of moral evil - one which includes over use of resources. Though this may be typical tree hugger stuff, this is coming from a Shinto nation which did draft the Kyoto treaty.


In fact, the second person interviewed after the long haired sunglasses-wearing dude is a man who thinks that it is for the better of the world in general that humanity be quashed (though many do not like this sentiment since we as humans value the life of our brethren. But there are those like Harlan Ellison who believe that the race should "go to the cockroaches). Guilala has become a metaphor for anti-capitalism, much like Mothra in 1961 and again in 1964. Only, this is done in a much more believable manner. Imagine someone making merchandise for 9/11 made just for profit and no financial benefit of victims? More relatable than the incubation of a gargantuan egg. Now, some have critisized that though this point is made in the film, it sadly doesn't encompass the whole film therefore is wasted. Think again. The film starts from the mentionings of the naughtiness of merchandising off of disaster and that Guilala may be best for the planet as a whole to going back to something which Gvs.KG91 had going with it's capitolism message - there is nothing spiritual about it so it is in vein. Think about it, apart from the fact that the plans are absurd, the world leaders are their for either money or sex. Especialy money. Alot of people would love to go to the country that defeated Guilala (and I belive a similar line was in GINO). However, it took something spiritual to defeat the problem.


As for the Japanese cast, the acting is mediocre at best. Not as bad as the gaijin, but it isn’t any GMK or such. We have the usual Showa formula here - reporters, a scientist who isn’t necessarily there all of the time, and army personnel. In a very Mothra/Geharha-esque move though, we have religion have a play here. Ritual song and dance, with emphasis on hand movements about the pelvis which seem to symbolize the human phallus. It is this religious angle of the film though that brings out the most originality to the film.


While Take-majin is nothing new (woo, we see Beat Takeshi as Susa-No-O and a samurai along with actually acting in the Take-majin suit… well that last is a first. A big action star going all siutmation on us as far as I am aware), what happens with the cast of Japanese and the cast of the forest village is a first. Unlike "Mothra vs. Godzilla" or "Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle", when religion takes a part - it takes non-believers to convert to help bring upon positive change.


Further more, when dealing with a kaiju film which deals with a real deity and not something which could be debated to be a deity (Gamera), we actually have a God intervening with a natural event. The Christian god doesn’t intervene with natural stuff till the rapture but Take-Majin intervenes with natural stuff - including aliens. Guilala seems to be a demon, but nothing really ties him to such routes (though the threat of him possibly multiplying could signal Legion and Armageddon). That is where the greatest thing about this film lies - the kaiju.


The new Guilala suit is without a doubt the best kaiju suit made in a very, very long time. Even without CG enhancements, the only negative about the suit is the visibility of the vision wholes in the neck which the suit actor would be able to see through. The suit is better proportioned, a tad bulkier (which works), and the detailing is great. The best aspect of the suit though is it’s range of emotion without the use of CG or, as it seems, multiple suits or separate prop electric heads. It is the best kaiju suit since the Sokogeki-Goji suit. Guilala snores/sleeps, laughs, eats, catches a missile (great hand/eye coordination for a kaiju), burps, shows surprise, and even gets high (and dances to a classical harpsichord piece). And happy high, not heavy depressing drunk like the Bio-Goji was in "Godzilla vs. Biollante" which needed a cold shower AKA some time in a bay to wake up. A good bit of credit must also go to Guilala’s suit actor, the Godzilla series’ Hurricane Ryu!


The best aspect of the film though is the score. Practices in the styles of other countries’ music mixed with variations of the main theme makes for an OK soundtrack which emulates the late Maestro Ifukube’s work and gets away with most of it.


Overall, the film is not a tremendous success and can get quite boring at times with the satire, and even with great CG when used, the use of the same set over and over again could be annoying for some who watch the film multiple time. But "Guilala’s Counterattack" does offer some interesting things to think about. It has some fun elements, a little educational (the increase of carbon emissions by 8% by Japan is an interesting point), cinematography which looks good (and looks similar to Gamera: The Brave’s), and they even talk about something not really talked about - the disposing of the kaiju corpse. The film gets a 7/10 from JG2KM. Not the best, but not the worse. Defiantly the best since Masaaki Tezuka’s "Godzilla X Mechagodzilla".


Special scene to mention
-Before Germany’s plan is put under way, nuclear weapons are discussed since the taboo of chemical warfare on Guilala was discussed. Like the kaiju eiga from the past, nuclear weapons are still a taboo (Even has creepy synth music. Funny thing is after the solemnest is over, we get some comedy with US president saying, "what the hell is he thinking).

10.29.2010

GAMERA 3D - Continualy Updated


"Eagle-eyed G-fan Evan Brehany scooped the world. Advanced Audiovisual Productions (Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster director Yoshimitsu Banno's production company) recently announced on its Web site that it is pursuing a Gamera IMAX 3-D movie. The announcement completely flew under the radar in the West until Evan spotted it and brought it to light."

-Brett Homenick


Links:




Here is some other informational links reguarding 3D films in Japan right now:



And not to mention AVATAR did $180 million in Japan.


So, what do you think of this project? Comment below.
EDITS FOR UPDATES
10-31-10

10.10.2010

Tetsuzo Osawa: Rest In Peace


I was shocked to read late into the night on Hirshi Sagae's facebook that SFX Art Director Tetsuzo Osawa has passed away. The majority of his work was in the Art director and production designer end of the buisness. His first work (according to IMDb) was 1977's THE LAST DINOSAUR. Since then he has had a hand in the fallowing films:


-Messase from Space (Dir. Fukasaku)

-Makai Tensho (Dir. Fukasaku)

-Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis

-Gunhead

-All Heisei Godzilla films

-Yamato Takeru

-Rebirth of Mothra trilogy

-Makai Tensho 2003 remake


A full resume can be found here:



One of the newer tokusatsu products which have been produced, "Ultraman Zero The Movie: Super Deciding Fight! The Belial Galactic Empire", will be counted as a post-humorous work. Be checking back to this page for more information in reguards to the great SFX contributor.

9.17.2010

Toy Vault claims war with GODZILLA: KAIJU WORLD WARS


The fallowing is an interview with Paul Blake, Toy Vault Game Developer.

1. How long has Toy Vault owned a merchandise license pertaining towards Godzilla?

We started making Godzilla plush items in 2002, and have released new products continuously since then. Our first such product was a medium-sized plush Mothra, which many toy enthusiasts now consider a collectors' item, but we've also made plush versions of most of the other Toho monsters, including Godzilla, Space Godzilla, Keizer Ghidorah, and Rodan.


2. With such licenses, what does Toy Vault want to provide for customers that may be "unique" in comparison to other companies also with a license (like Bandai America)?


Bandai America and other such companies tend to brand their Godzilla toys based around a strictly realistic interpretation of the character, which generally means rigid toys - Action figures, resin statues, plastic model kits, etc. However, as we had already learned with our Cthulhu line of plush toys, people want soft, huggable versions of giant creatures of destruction.Specifically regarding our Godzilla games, we wanted to provide customers with Godzilla games which would actually appeal to gamers as well as Godzilla fans, rather than being the kind of hastily-thrown-together roll-and-move type games normally associated with media licenses.





3. Who’s idea was it to make a kaiju board game?


It would be hard to nail down a single person as saying "We need to make a Godzilla board game," and that statement then causing us to move forward with it. Jon Huston (Senior Creative Designer and part owner of the company) is a lifelong avid gamer, and has long wished to move ToyVault into the gaming market. It wasn't until recently that this became economically feasible. Prior to my involvement with ToyVault, I was already friends with Jon, and we would frequently discuss what was going on with the company. As he had already produced several Godzilla-licensed products, it seemed a fairly obvious choice.


4. Where did the inspiration for such a product come from?


This somewhat depends on which product you're asking about: Currently, we have two Godzilla-themed tabletop games in development. The one you are aware of, Kaiju World Wars, was designed by Richard H. Berg, who has been designing tabletop games since the 1970s. Mr. Berg would probably be the best person to answer questions about his original inspiration for the game, but I recognize elements from other similar genre game, some modern, some dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.Of course, citing direct inspiration for a game mechanic or design element would be like citing creative inspiration for every character in a novel - similarities are likely to occur in similar genres.The other Godzilla product we're working on is a card game called "Godzilla: Stomp." It's a quick filler game for 2-5 players. When it was originally shown to us, it was graphically themed around herding sheep, of all things. Based on what was going on in the game, however, it quickly became obvious that the best fit for it in our product lineup would be as a Godzilla-themed game, and the graphic redesign was fairly obvious and straightforward. The basic gist is that the players are each trying to destroy the highest point values in buildings over the course of the game. In order to do that, they need to carefully time when to use each of their attacks, and when to try to go on a rampage for more points. It's somewhere between trick taking, bluffing, and set collecting.


5. Some have compared what the game looks like now to Monsterpocalypse. What will be the main differences between Monsterpocalypse and this "Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars"?


The biggest and most obvious difference is that Kaiju World Wars is intended as a standalone product. While we are open to the idea of doing expansions in the future, the Kaiju World Wars product line will never involve random distribution of components.


6. How tall will the figures of the kaiju be? Some are wondering if similar-sized products like Bandai Japan’s Hyper figures could be, with a little imagination, compatible with the game.


The individual figures vary in exact height, but they range from 2 inches to 2.5 inches.


7. What can we expect from this game? What can you tell me about it that hasn’t already been said on site pages such as this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/38694/godzilla


Our biggest goal with Kaiju World Wars was flexibility. We wanted this game to scale to several levels of complexity, from a simpler, introductory game, all the way up to a more complex game for seasoned gamers. The game is scenario based, which means players can try several different setups and victory conditions, or they can create their own scenario. The game can play very quickly, but if the players want, it can get quite epic.As an example, one of the included scenarios takes place after an already devastating three-way battle between Gigan, Rodan, and Godzilla. These three monsters have already taken significant damage, and the city around them is a wreck. Then King Ghidorah appears, fully powered up, ready to take on all three of them.


We also wanted players to be able to simulate a wide variety of cityscapes, so the game will include lots of stackable plastic building tiles, as well as tokens for parks and ponds, all of which can have various in-game effects.We've even included two basic game "modes" for combat: In Basic Combat, each Monster basically has two attacks - ranged and melee. In Advanced Combat, the Monsters have a much wider array of attacks available to them, and the various attacks can do a lot more than just directly injuring another monster.


8. What are the projected sales numbers for the game?


As much as possible. Pinpointing an exact figure would be a voodoo science, at best, but we're anticipating going through multiple production runs and supporting the product for years to come.




9. How will advertising be executed and will major stores like ToysRUs carry the game?



Our primary route for advertising the game will be online - for instance, through banner ads. As for major stores, we can't really speak for them. Our products have been carried in mass market stores in the past, but the vast majority of our product sales come from online stores like ThinkGeek or Troll & Toad, or brick-and-mortar comic and game stores.However, based on the nature of both Kaiju World Wars and Stomp, we would be a little surprised if they didn't show up in larger chain stores.



10. Any other words from you and other members of the creative team?



From Zac Pensol, our Project Director and In-House Artist:"Rawwwrrrrghhhhhh!"

9.02.2010

WYRD Film's MEN IN SUITS Documentry

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1443196324/men-in-suits-the-godzilla-interview
This is of the utmost seriousness. For the past month I have known about a little project called "MEN IN SUITS", known about if you look at youtube enough for kaiju stuff. Currently, the project - which will include a good amount of tokusatsu material - is in need of funds. Those willing to make a pledge of atleast $1 would be appreciated. Look at the link above. A Nakajima interview will be one of the things which the money raised will cover. Along with that, August Ragone has been interviewed so this will be a fun thing to own. Please, pledge some $$$.

8.31.2010

The Late Night Horror Hotel... Don't Miss It!


The horror host tradition seems to be something quintessential to American television. Bob Wilkins of Creature Features, Evira, Ms. Monster, Broloff, and Mr. Lobo are some of the notable names of the business. What is this business? People who grew up with Hammer horror films and science fiction films especially of the daikaiju genre pretty much showed them on public access television, therefore only people who living within the approximate area could see these shows. The internet has helped bring more people to become aware of horror hosts across America. In Philly, there lies the "Late Night Horror Hotel", ran by Rob Dimension and John Cannon. The fallowing review of their show is based on my thus-far favorite episode of theirs - the "Gamera: The Invincible" episode.

Filmed in black and white, you can tell that the duo has a sweet side for kaiju. A US poster for "Godzilla, King Of the Monsters" is easily shown and for those who watch some of their videos on sites such as youtube, things such as a Bandai Creation 12" Kiryu is also shown. Kaiju otaku are in for a nice treat. Of course, each episode opens with a game show-esque opening for the show done with A Mr. Heisenburger. From then, we have (in the parts that are of the horror hotel’s) accouple of good bits of comedy. That’s normal for the horror host and though some of it may require a specific taste for it, the comedy is good from bomb jokes to bad jokes and such. However, there is also some more to it. Like a variety show. First, we get a film review of maybe my third favorite Gamera film, "Gamera: The Brave". Then, we see Rob playing with an X-Plus Gamera 1995 against a bunch of toy soldiers, and then even a feature on how to make Armadillo Eggs. Great fun. A good part of the shows though is that the film is included on the DVD. Nice to be able to see both versions of the original Gamera.

This, and three other episodes I have seen have proved to me that this is a great show. Why doesn’t Warner Robins not have a horror host show? Rob and John do other stuff in other episodes, such as mutilations of each other’s skin showing off their good SFX abilities and other crazy but fun things which make watching films like "Gamera The Invincible" more fun, even for those who are not too fond of the film to begin with. Other features include things like public service announcements (what do you do when a stranger comes and talks to you?). If you like in the Philly area, you would be sorry to miss the Late Night Horror Hotel. 5/5
http://latenighthorrorhotel.blogspot.com/

8.29.2010

National Geographic to showcase "Death Kappa"!



"Death Kappa" is the newest kaiju eiga to be made in Japan. Made by genre veteran Tomoo Hariguchi (who has worked on kaiju and yokai productions, from "Gamera 3" to "Kibakichi"), the film is centered around the legendary Japanese yokai - the Kappa - a terapin-looking water sprite which in the film grows to a gargantuan height to do battle with the antagonists. Released by Media Blasters, the film has been compared to the likes of "Guilala's Counterattack" but has developed somewhat of a cult fallowing like most kaiju eiga.

A special treat though is in store for fans of kaiju eiga ("Death Kappa" in general). National Geographic is producing a new television series called "Nat Geo Amazing!", showcasing things which they percieve that viewers would think is "amazing!". The first episode being showcased revolves aorund two things - ice climbing and the making of "Death Kappa"! For those who only saw the film at a screening and do not own a DVD or Blu-Ray copy of the film, this is a great chance to get a view of the making of the film which isn't the message from Tomoo Hariguchi which is on the official Media Blasters home page.


The fallowing link will take you to the official site which has some videos of the making of the film:
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/nat-geo-amazing-episode-guide/4763/Photos#tab-Videos/08606_00


The first episode of "Nat Geo Amazing!" will be comming on the National Georgraphic Channel (Channel 109 for people in the Warner Robins, Georgia area) at 7PM Atlantic time. Don't miss it!

8.22.2010

"Agon: The Atomic Dragon"

By Logan Bombard

In 1964, Nippon Television produced a kaiju TV miniseries titled "GIANT PHANTOM MONSTER AGON" (or "AGON, THE ATOMIC DRAGON" outside of Japan). The series premiered on Fuji TV January 2nd, 1968 with part 1 of a 2-parter called Agon Appears. On January 8th of the same year, the 4th and final episode was aired.

Now, you may be wondering, why did it take four years for "AGON" to make it to the big screen? Well, multiple things got in the way of airing. First and foremost being Toho holding it back, due to the similarities between Agon and their own star kaiju, Godzilla. Funny thing is that the two don’t appear all that similar. Agon has much smaller spines than Goji, and they are very differently shaped. The Atomic Dragon’s head is longer, has a larger snout, much larger fangs, and bulging eyes, compared to The King of the Monsters. I’m also pretty sure that Godzilla’s stomach isn’t coated with plates, further dividing the two.

Alas, Toho still didn’t think that he deserved a shot on the small screen, that is, until they realized one of their own was working on it. Shinichi Sekizawa, the writer for such famous (and great) kaiju films as Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is also the writer for the first two episodes of AGON. Along with Sekizawa was Eiji Tsuburaya’s apprentice, Fuminori Ohashi, who did the special effects for the series, and even directed the final 2 episodes. Knowing this, Toho gave the series the go ahead, and it finally aired in 1968.

Ironically, the very same studio that kept the series off the air for 4 years condensed it into a single film, and released it in the 1990s, and if they didn’t Agon may not have even had the shred of fame it has in the genre, making Toho a mixed blessing to the series.



Nowadays, the series still has trouble being seen by the average Tokusatsu fan, for plenty of reasons; especially it’s rather minor release. A minor Japan-only VHS release in the 90’s doesn’t usually equal mass popularity on the Western Hemisphere. It also doesn’t help that the series was (rather uniquely) filmed in a sepia tone, making it less attractive to an average passerby.

Personally, I think the series deserves a lot more publicity than it gets. It does a lot of new things for the genre, especially the suit itself. The Agon suit has a built in breathing apparatus in the throat area, actually making it appear as though The Atomic Dragon is drawing breath. Also, you can clearly see that Agon influenced Gomess, a creature from the sci-fi TV show Ultra Q made out of an old Godzilla suit, with the plates running down the front of his torso. It is by no means a perfect suit, but it’s main drawback is that the limbs are a little too form-fitting for my taste. Another aspect of the suit that could be considered negative would be the eyes, which bulge out pretty far, and are obviously painted on (although, so were Mosu Goji’s, proving that it doesn’t have to be considered a bad thing).

Agon has a relatively small array of powers, but he uses them to great effect during the series. First and most apparent is his fire breath. Usually considered a dreadfully generic feature, it found its place in the series. There is no visible pipe here, and it is fairly destructive, nothing revolutionary, but more than serviceable. Another attribute that could easily fly over one’s head is Agon’s immense strength (yes, even for a daikaiju). In fact, with one stop of his foot, Agon made a small ravine in the ground in the first episode of the series. Finally, Agon can breathe underwater, therefore making him amphibious, even though he subsists in a cave before being awoken. All around, he’s no Heisei Mechagodzilla, but he has an arsenal adequate to terrorize Tokyo.

The miniatures themselves aren’t too impressive, but they look good enough, and the power plant is definitely the highlight of the set. Agon’s underwater lair is a good set, along with most of the normal-scaled sets. One problem the series suffers from is the use of stock footage from earlier episodes, for instance, in episode 3, we see a crowd running away from Agon, and the very same group sprinting in episode 4.

One thing to be appreciated about the series is its rather unique camera work. Usually refraining from wide shots, and the use of the camera when Agon is carrying a child in a boat inside his maw gives the daikaiju a great impression of size.

The series itself is pretty well written, and has a decent cast with our hero, a news reporter named Goro, being the standout. He delivers his lines with pronounced body language, and a powerful presence. Everybody else carries the show along, with varying degrees of talent. There is a Kenny, named Monta (played by Yoshihiro Kobayashi) to be seen here (that is, a young child who is familiar with the monster.), although he isn’t very annoying, doesn’t know too much, and serves as a major plot point without being too distracting.



Basically, Agon is yet another creature created by the atomic bomb, which comes to destroy Tokyo, after being awakened from is deep slumber in a cave. He makes landfall, wreaks some havoc, then goes back to sea, while the main characters, even including two rather strange bandits. Finally, Agon breaks surface again, and takes a boat containing a child (the plot point the Kenny presents.). Eventually Agon puts the Kenny down, and swats the two robbers out of a helicopter, leading to their death. After a rather impressive destruction scene where Agon annihilates a power plant, he finally returns to sea, and the end kanji appears on screen.

Now, it sounds like your plain old kaiju movie, but it’s pretty great, brings a lot to the table, and keeps you entertained for 96 minutes. The suit is unique, the actors do their job, and all around, everything does what it’s supposed to. My only true problem is with the score. A rather strange string instrument that I can not pinpoint makes a very "bouncy" sound during many scenes, and just doesn’t let up. It can get very irritating, but aside from that, the score is fine and dramatic when it needs to be.

Overall, I like the series very much, and recommend it, if you can track it down. Once you can get past the sepia tone film stock, and awkward score, you can appreciate the series for what it is, a low budget installment that really delivers in the kaiju department. If you hunt long enough, you’ll find it, and its well worth your time. I give it a 4/5.

8.01.2010

Time of my Life - S.S.S.S.'s Showing of Godzilla vs. Gigan


"Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them."
-Bud Fox, "Wall Street" (1987)




Where should this begin? Ok, let’s start with what’s happened in between this film and GMK. The Plaza Theatre has shown two kaiju films since GMK in January of 2009. These include DAM and the original Rodan. While my failure to attend these events have lead people to say rather negative things about moi, I always kept positive when a new kaiju film was being shown. Thankfully, I attended this Spook Show. Albeit, it is ironically the last Spook Show till October due to the Silver Scream Spook Show cast being subject to a new TV series with Adult Swim helping (defiantly going to be better than "Children’s Hospital" - which I saw one of the wall paintings which AS ads ask you to "find this", Atlanta kicks ass). I would also like to mention that we also went by "The Vortex", a burger joint I once saw on "Man vs. Food". I wanted to go there, but once I left the theater only one thing was on my mind: Godzilla. Anyway, let’s go into the event.



I got there about 30 minutes before the show started. With there being the lack of a dealer, the first place of interest I went to was (aside from the box office) the Silver Scream Spook Show table. Not as elaborate as it previously was. However, it was still cool. Evidently thanks to some tricky stuff, in the end I got a Fang Club card, a button, an XL shirt, the Plaza Atlanta Godzilla vs. Gigan poster, and a bunch of the programs. While waiting, I talked a little to Daniel Wickwire of Kaiju Movie Review before having to take more photos and such for this very report.

The Scream Show itself rocked. As normal, it began with the birthday serenade. After wards, the actual program. I lucky caught all of it on camera and captured it better then what I did with the GMK Spook Show (especially considering I was sitting closer to the back of this showing). Alas, after a 10 minute wait to see the film on behalf of people who were parked in a Publix parking lot needing to get their cars moved to a different location, the film began (thank god for the 10 minute wait, I got some stuff done). It was cool to the old Cinema Shares print of "Godzilla vs. Gigan", only entitled "Godzilla on Monster Island".


However, I did not sit through out the whole film to watch. My mother, god bless her soul and her slick talking ways, got a deal in which allowed me to go inside for a short time the Godzilla suit used for the Spook Show. I like the dang thing. The head reminds me of the Banpresto 12" figure that was sculpted by Yuji Sakai. So, while not being allowed to put my whole body in (they have to put boxes in the suit so it will stand while no one is in/around the suit), I did get to feel from the waste up what it feels like - to an extent - to be Nakajima or Satsuma, or Kitagawa. It’s stuff like that which helps you gain appreciation for the art. I felt this feeling once before - in engineering class making wooden bridges. Gives you a deeper appreciation. Now, from what I heard, the only reserve the guy who owned the suit had about me even feeling the inside is the fact that a lot of people get nicked because of the metal skeleton that is inside of the suit, which is basically just memory foam (like in beds).




I got back into the film when we see the corncob scene. The film was just very fun and even though sitting farther back then I did at the GMK screening, the print was still something to be amazed about, especially that though the print had a lot of damage, the increased definition compared to my Anchor Bay VHS copy of the film is pretty awesome. Looking at each little detail in the models and suits and such. Very cool, despite a layer of purple coloring on the print (which in the end isn’t that bad and actually makes the viewing more interesting).


Afterwards, I talked to some people, my mother took some more photos of me, and Dan started filming material for his coverage of this film (which I forgot to do out of the sheer excitement of my attendance). One thing I need to thank Dan for though is giving me his Gamera 3 poster. He offered it to me some time ago and I accepted it. He knows it is in good hands. The poster is actually a limited piece which went along the Sega Gamera 3 figures. To add on to it’s value, it was autographed by Tiffany Grant - who played Nagamine in the US dubs of "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" and "Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle".


In the end, it was a fun time and really, this report doesn’t do justice to what happened. It was awesome. In the meantime, be watching KMR for an interview of me done by good friend Dan Wickwire!

7.24.2010

MOTHRA and GAMERA VS. GUIRON to be shown!


Source: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-3763-DinoQuest_Monster_Movie_Night_at_Missouri_Botanical_Garden
Thanks To Avery Guerra!
.

End the summer with a bang for on July 30, the Missouri Botanical Gardens' DinoQuest Monster Movie Night is showing at 8:30 pm the 1961 classic "Mothra" and right afterwards "Gamera vs. Gurion". This is from the site:
.

"Both films will be shown on a giant screen at the Cohen Amphitheater, located west of the Climatron dome on the Garden grounds. Lawn seating only; guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs or blankets and to picnic at this special event. Snacks and beverages will also be available for purchase.

.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit and from Interstate 64 at the Kingshighway North & South exit. Free parking is available on-site and two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.
.
For more information about the DinoQuest Monster Movie Night, visit www.mobot.org/dinoquest/monster_movie.asp. To learn more about the DinoQuest exhibition, visit www.mobot.org/dinoquest. For general Garden information, visit http://www.mobot.org/ or call (314) 577-5100 (toll-free, 1-800-642-8842)."


Support kaiju Missouri fans!

7.20.2010

Kaiju Book News for the Masses!

NOTE: ROUGH TRANSLATIONS AHEAD!

Gamera and Godzilla has come back for the attack this latter half of the year when it comes to books! First up is the book "Daiei Tokusatsu Film Encyclopedia: Daikaiju Fantasy Battle - Gamera vs. Daimajin". The book is 121 pages long, and with a price tag of 1890 Yen, with these stats:


ISBN-10: 4048545116
ISBN-13: 978-4048545112
Release Date: 2010/7/16
Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches







The second with a nice pic of a Bandai vinyl is roughly translated to "Goodbye Godzilla who - far from war". At a much longer 280 pages, the book is a fair 1995 Yen in cost. Here are it’s stats:
.
ISBN-10: 4000230352
ISBN-13: 978-4000230353
Release Date: 2010/7/29
.

The third is THE MUSIC OF GODZILLA: THE ECHOES & THE ERA OF AKIRA IFUKUBE, MASARU SATO, KUNIO MIYAUCHI AND RIICHIRO MANABE" ("Gojira-no Ongaku - Ifukube Akira, Satou Masaru, Miyauchi Kunio, Manabe Riichirou-no Hibiki-to Sono Jidai")(thanks to James Ballard). Acording to August Ragone, "The author is Atsushi Kobayashi, who had written two previous books on Akira Ifukube (as well as other film composers, such as Masaru Sato), and the publisher is Sakuinsha. This particular book will only cover the Godzilla scores from 1954-1975." Gonna be released on 8/10/2010 containing a whooping 480 pages. Here is the book’s stats:
.
ISBN-10: 4861822998
ISBN-13: 978-4861822995
.
.
Happy Buying!

7.10.2010

New Book: "Kaiju Life - The Original Godzilla Actor Haruo Nakajima" by Haruo Nakajima

Title via Japanese: "怪獣人生 ~元祖ゴジラ俳優・中島春雄"
Publisher: "洋泉社"
Language: Japanese
ISBN-10: 4862485898
ISBN-13: 978-4862485892
Release Date: 2010/7/16
.
There will be pictures. For more information, someone more versed in Japanese can go to links below:
.
.
Could this be part of the "The Ghost of Godzilla: The Man Who Was Godzilla: On The Shoulders of Monsters: In the Shadow of the Monster: Unzipping the Mystery" documentry that Haruo Nakajima is supposedly working on with "Team WereWolf" (so says wikipedia)? More details tom come.

7.04.2010

First TV Spot for "MM9"

Thanks to the Nippon Cinema site, we can now see the official monster-less TV spot for Shinji Higuchi's "MM9":

http://www.nipponcinema.com/blog/tv-spot-for-shinji-higuchis-mm9/

And it is interesting to note that the trailer shows a new website adress for coverage of the series:

www.mmmmmmmmm.jp

Very cool indeed.

7.01.2010

Plaza Atlanta Theatre's Silver Scream Spook Show GODZILLA VS. GIGAN details



This July 31, the Plaza Atlanta Theatre in association with the Silver Scream Spook Show will be giving a special presentation of GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, under the name GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND.
.
The theatre is Atlanta’s oldest cinematic venue. A uniscreened theatre, it was once a grindhouse theatre which is now run for non profit and has film showing everything from THE ROOM to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW to even film festivals hosted by Robert Osborne (who does things for the TCM Channel - including one time giving an into on TCM to "Space Monster Guilala"). The Plaza Atlanta theatre has a good history with kaiju fans, including having previously screened "Rodan" (1956), "Mothra" (1961), "Ebirah, Horror from the Deep" (1966), "Destroy All Monsters" (1968), and "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack" (2001).
.
The Silver Scream Spook show is like Mr. Lobo or "Ms. Monster’s Hell On Ice" meets Vaudeville. Shane Morton and his group put on the "Silver Scream Spook How", a 30 minute show put on before each of their screenings with some Horror Host elements which helps integrate the show into the film to be shown (to some extent). The sketch they put on has something in relation to the film they will be hosting. It is great fun for whoever comes.

KIDS UNDER 12 FREE AT 1:00 MATINEE! EVERYONE ELSE ONLY $7. ALL TICKETS ARE $10 FOR THE 10:00 SHOW!
Do not forget to bring in some extra cash for pop corn, drinks, and any possible dealers at the event. It is sure to be great fun. And for those staying in the south eastern United States would be glad to know that from the theatre it is just another 10 hour drive to the Morikami Museum, who is having a kaiju vinyl exhibit all this summer (http://godzilla2012.blogspot.com/2010/06/over-100-vintage-kaiju-toys-invade.html). Hope to see you there!

GSPBS6 Review: Godzilla Tokyo SOS

By: Matti Keskiivari
Movie: Godzilla: Tokyo SOS
Music by: Michiru Oshima
Record label: Toho Music
Running time: 77:19/74:19
Discs: 2
Year of release: 2010
Review: ***1/2/*****

Right after the Godzilla: Final Wars set, this two-disc set is probably the most "interesting" in the sixth Godzilla soundtrack box. The first disc features the score of Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003) and the second disc has the rest of the GFW bonus tracks.

First, let’s talk about Tokyo SOS. This movie is a sequel to the previous one, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, so naturally the music is once again composed by Michiru Oshima. The score is not quite as fantastic as GXMG since a smaller orchestra is utilized again, but it is a bit more stellar than Godzilla vs. Megaguirus in my opinion. Oshima brings back many of the themes heard in GXMG while also delivering some new ones. Godzilla’s theme is still as great as ever, as well as the theme of Kiryu (Mechagodzilla), but of course they lack some of the power they had in GXMG. The Kiryu Squadron march is used a couple of times too. Moving on to the new themes: There’s a main battle theme that’s heard for the first time in "Toho Logo~Mothra in Flight~Main Title", one of the highlights of this score. There’s also a secondary battle theme for the fight between Godzilla and Mothra, which is heard in all three "Adult Mothra X Godzilla" tracks for example. Yoshito Chujo, the film’s hero, is given his own impressive theme, very much like Akane Yashiro in GXMG. Also, like with Akane, the theme has both an action-oriented version (heard in tracks 32, 33 and 35) and a more soothing one (heard in tracks 7, 13 and 19). Mothra has a new theme of her own, heard n tracks like "The Shobijin Visit", "Adult Mothra Comes Flying" and "The Mothra Larvae Cross the Sea" (one of the cues that weren’t used in the movie). Not too surprisingly, the always-memorable "Mothra’s Song", originally composed by Yuji Koseki, makes a return, this time performed by Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka who play the Shobijin (the little fairies). Another track that has to be mentioned is the "End Credits" cue. It’s simply one of the best pieces of music Michiru Oshima has composed for the Godzilla series. It sounds really distinct from the rest of the score, as it’s very calm and soothing, and it features some great choral work. Tracks like this show how versatile Oshima is as a composer.

Tokyo SOS has only got four bonus tracks. The first one, "Send-Off Party BGM", is a real gem. Like the name says, it’s the background music heard during the party scene early in the movie. However, unlike some of the other BGM-style tracks from other Godzilla/kaiju movies, it’s very memorable and enjoyable to listen to as it’s got a fitting classical sound. The next two extra tracks are certain cues mixed together like they’re heard in the movie. These tracks are supposedly taken from a 5.1 channel film source, as sometimes the volume level changes according to the events in the movie. The final track is the "pop song" version of "Mothra’s Song", which is a welcome addition.

The second disc, as I mentioned earlier, has the remaining bonus tracks of Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), most of which are composed by Keith Emerson. The disc starts off with all the edited cues that were included on the original album, although for some reason the edited "Gotengo vs. Manda" cue (track 4 on the original album) is left out. Speaking of which, there are two more Emerson tracks that aren’t included here: a longer version of the Infant Island track and an arrangement of the Earth Defense Force theme. These tracks can be found on the third disc of Emerson’s At the Movies set, which has music from all of Emerson’s other scores too. Getting back on topic, next up on this disc there are several outtakes, including Emerson’s unused music for the battle between Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus and King Caesar, which is actually his medley of a couple of Ifukube themes: the Great Monster War March and the Maser march from War of the Gargantuas. He also composed a piece for Godzilla’s short fight with Hedorah and Ebirah, which sounds much better than the Nobuhiko Morino cue that was ultimately used for the scene. On the other hand, his "Xilien Ship" and "Parody Spy Music into Serious" tracks are quite awful, so fortunately they weren’t used in the movie.

The last 15 tracks are Emerson’s original demos, some of which are interesting and others are not. Many of them sound fairly identical to tracks that were either heard in the movie or not. For example, track 23 is an early version of the "Highway Battle" cue, track 30 is an early version of "Rodan Attacks New York" and tracks 22, 24 and 32 are early versions of the Earth Defense Force theme. Interestingly enough, track 32 is recorded in mono, while all the other tracks are in stereo. A couple of the demo tracks (tracks 25-26) feature music that hasn’t been heard before (not even in the outtake cues). The first one is totally bad and forgettable, while the second one sounds intriguingly more like Emerson’s score from Nighthawks (1981). Some of the demos with familiar music sound expectedly worse than the final cues, while others actually sound more interesting than the versions used in the movie, like the "Highway Battle" demo and thefirst of the two demos featuring the "Ending" theme (track 27). The second "Ending" demo is the last track on this disc, and it starts out interestingly, utilizing Godzilla’s footsteps from the original 1954 movie and Ifukube’s main theme as well, but then it takes a turn for the worse as Emerson, for some odd reason, decides to add annoying beeping synthesizer sounds over the Ifukube theme.

The booklet has got a nice picture of Godzilla from Tokyo SOS on the front cover and images of Miho Yoshioka and Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka on the back. Included in the booklet is an interview with Shusuke Kaneko, the director of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001).

In the end, this two-disc set is definitely the weakest link of the sixth Godzilla soundtrack box. The score of Godzilla: Tokyo SOS is great, but the content of the third GFW disc is mostly a disappointment. There are some worthwhile tracks, but the rest fails to keep the listener’s interest up. But still, if you’d like to get both the Tokyo SOS soundtrack and the GFW material, get the sixth box.

6.29.2010

GSPBS6 Review: GODZILLA: FINAL WARS

Review by Matti Keskiivari
Movie: Godzilla: Final Wars
Music by: Keith Emerson, Daisuke Yano, Nobuhiko Morino
Record label: Toho Music
Running time: 73:01/73:38
Discs: 2
Year of release: 2010


Review: ****/*****
The sixth and seventh discs in the final Godzilla soundtrack box are the first two dedicated to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), the last Godzilla movie made in Japan (for now). Of course there’s no need to say, despite what some people might think about the movie or the soundtrack itself, this soundtrack gets the most anticipated re-release in the last box set.


First and foremost, the complete original score of GFW is finally released on CD. For those who have seen the movie and/or listened to the earlier soundtrack CD will definitely know that a lot of the score was left out. Fortunately, this has been fixed by Toho Music. Apart from the two stock Masaru Sato cues from Son of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and the Sum 41 song “We’re All to Blame”, every single cue that was used in the movie is included here. You can spot the improvements over the original soundtrack album right from the first two tracks on disc 1, which are the classic Ifukube Godzilla theme (a stock cue from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)) and the new theme for the king of the monsters composed by Daisuke Yano. On the original CD they were included simply as separate cues. However, on this CD the cues are bridged together with a “synth voice” transition, just like they’re heard in the movie. Some other notable cues that weren’t included on the first CD are “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces”, “Gigan Awakens”, “The Xiliens’ Intent”, “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” and “The Battle Is Over”. Also, all the cues that were presented in shorter edits on the original album can finally be heard in their complete unedited form, like “The Xiliens Arrive”, “Xilien Conspiracy (II)” and “The King of the Monsters Returns”. On the worse side, though, “Message from Infant Island” now starts rather abruptly unlike on the earlier CD.


As for the actual music, it is certainly different from the works of Akira Ifukube, Masaru Sato and others that we’re used to hear. It has its fans and haters. Some people feel that it’s great and refreshing because it has a more modern sound and fits the overall tone of the movie, whereas others just hate it for the aforementioned reason(s) and prefer the traditional orchestral sound. It feels as if the score can be separated to three parts: Keith Emerson dominates the beginning, the middle part is Nobuhiko Morino’s field, and the last part focuses on Daisuke Yano’s music. If you ask me, the soundtrack is a mixed bag, like the movie. It has got some quite bad tracks and some enjoyable ones, but none that are so outstanding that they could be worth a five-star rating. Furthermore, a lot of the tracks tend to work better as a stand-alone listening experience, like “Xilien Conspiracy II” and “The Xiliens’ Intent”. On the other hand, some of the tracks that are on the worse side of the score work better when they’re heard in the movie, like “Commander Namikawa’s Abnormality”. Many people have complained about the theme heard during in the end credits. Personally, I don’t hate it, as I think it sounds quite like Keith Emerson’s work from his days in ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer). However, I do think that it shouldn’t have been used during the end credits but instead something else, like more Ifukube-related material. The worst track would have to be “Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Ebirah”. The cue just doesn’t fit the scene at all. It would suit something like a comedy/agent movie a lot better than a kaiju movie.


Now, let’s talk about some of the highlights of the GFW soundtrack. The new Godzilla theme by Daisuke Yano is quite nice, as is the “Main Title” cue by Nobuhiko Morino, which is a clever “remix” of the “Main Title” from the original 1954 movie by Ifukube. For me, many of the tracks that steal the show are the unedited cues that I mentioned earlier. “Xilien Conspiracy II” especially has become one of my favorite tracks from this score. You can perfectly picture the scenes from the movie in your head as you’re listening to the ten-and-half-minute-long cue. “The King of the Monsters Returns” is another excellent track. “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” has a very dark and desperate sound to it, fitting the monster king’s final foe perfectly. “The Battle Is Over” is a more soothing track with a nice melody. My personal favorite theme, however, would have to be Keith Emerson’s theme for the Earth Defense Force, which is more commonly known as “Kazama’s Sacrifice” as it was called on the original album. While this score isn’t Emerson’s best movie work (the title of which arguably goes to the Italian horror film Inferno (1980) directed by Dario Argento), his Earth Defense Force theme is definitely one of the best tracks he has composed. Yes, I’m one of those people who absolutely adore it. It is a very memorable and catchy piece of music. I particularly like the guitar-heavy version heard in “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces”. It’s really enjoyable; as is the movie scene it’s used in.


Let’s move on to the bonus content. GFW has got a lot of extra tracks. So many, in fact, that there’s a third disc completely dedicated to bonus tracks. This disc serves as the second disc on the Godzilla: Tokyo SOS set of the box (which I’ll review soon). The entire disc 1 and the first half of disc 2 cover the actual score, so the remaining tracks on disc 2 are bonus material. First we have the unedited versions of certain cues like “Gigan Awakens”. Then we have three edited tracks that are presented in the way they’re heard in the movie. As the booklet tells us, these were taken from a 5.1 channel source, so they sound noticeably louder than the rest of the tracks, and fortunately better than the edited cues on the GMK soundtrack. One minor complaint: it would’ve been interesting to hear the final film version of “Xilien Conspiracy” since it was a mix of the two M14 cues found on disc 1. Next there are two Emerson tracks that were included on the original album. In the early version of the M2 cue Emerson uses an adaptation of Ifukube’s Godzilla theme. The last two tracks are alternate takes of the “Ending” cue. The first one is fairly interesting as it has its own twist to the theme, but the second one is pretty awful and too long. It seems like Emerson tries to “stretch” the cue as long he can until it reaches an abrupt end.


The booklet has a very cool picture of Godzilla’s face on the front cover and pictures of Rei Kikukawa and Kumi Mizuno on the back. Besides the usual track notes (which are surprisingly short compared to all the earlier soundtracks) there’s a profile of Keith Emerson (unfortunately there’s no photo of him) and an interview with Shogo Tomiyama, the producer.


All in all, the soundtrack of the 50th Anniversary Godzilla movie will always receive mixed opinions, but one can’t deny that Toho Music have done a fantastic job in finally releasing the (almost) entire score. If you’re interested in this soundtrack, you really shouldn’t hesitate in getting the sixth Godzilla soundtrack box. Like I’ve said before, it is worth the money.

6.28.2010

Silver Scream Spook Show to show GODZILLA VS. GIGAN

Photo by Tohokingdom member "Godz"
Atlanta, Georgia's own "Plaza Atlanta Theatre", which has been a safe heaven for people who fallow cult, grindhouse, and festival films, has shown that for July's "Silver Scream Spook Show" session (happening on the 31st), GODZILLA VS. GIGAN is being shown. Speculation has it that the legendary GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND Cinema Shares print is going to be shown considering the past two screenings which included a showing of an AIP varriation of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. More images including the official flyer to come soon!

6.21.2010

Review: "Great Space Monster Darkmatton"



In his interview with the PodCast, "Japan on Fire", film historian August Ragone stated that back in the time period between "Terror Of Mechagodzilla" (1975) and "The Return of Godzilla" (1984), there was a want of many a Japanese film maker to make their own kaiju films. While it is a testament of how influential the Showa kaiju days were, back in that time frame the resources were just not there to make independently make kaiju films. A new generation is making their dreams come true now thanks to the digital revolution. Recently, we have had a good slew of kaiju films, most notably "Geharha: The Dark and Long Haired Monster" (2009), "Reigo" (2009), and "Negadon: Monster from Mars" (2005). With a new American Godzilla film just beyond the horizon now, this fairly young age of Neo-Millennium series independent films are coming to an end. One of these films is the newly animated "Dai Supeesu Kaiju Darkmatton" (Great Space Monster Darkmatton) (2010).
.
"Darkmatton" is directed by Yohei Miyawaki. A 23-year-old student at Tokyo’s Tama Art University, Miyawaki made the film just like those before him like Shinpei Hayashida or Shusuke Kaneko - he has a love for the genre. The film is a piece of total animation. Though low budget, it gets the job done and the way it is filmed is quite extraordinary, especially with the third act of the film being in black and white, therefore making a possible reference to the original "Gojira" (1954).
.
Here is a synopsis according to "Undead Backbrain":
"An orbiting international space station is mysteriously destroyed. The army asks Dr Kawanaka, an expert in astronomy, to undertake an investigation to ascertain the cause. The doctor tries to find the cause, under the scrutiny of the army. Suddenly a black globe appears in the sky over Tokyo and Dr Kawanaka recognizes it as the cause of the ISS’s destruction. "That is Great Space Monster Darkmatton!" he declares. Military action proves futile. The doctor develops the ultimate weapon — the end result of his previous own research — uses it to confront the monster. The future of humanity hangs in the balance!"
.
Almost sounds like Negadon. And it kind of is. As you can see, this film was not meant to be a project like "G" or "Geharha". However, it is still a nicely animated film with humor. And it is nice to see the director voice act the elder professor with the white beard. Fans can see some of the influences. Such as the aforementioned "Gojira"-like ending, the use of a newly created Toho Co. Ltd, and a fairly Markelite-like weapon (though we find out it is an electricity conducting orb, the 2D animation makes it look like a miniature Markelite). Emblem at the front of each third of the film, and many more. For a total of 13 minutes, the film does have a sort of message. The kaiju Darkmatton could be an allegory for the darkness within the hearts of men. Then the act of him evolving as weapons are used on him could be a metaphor for war - the more you shoot, the more the problem gets bigger - something of a scare back in the ole Cold War days of old.
.
The Backbrain reports that the director has no current plans for a home video release, though an international variation with English subtitles is in the works. Stand by. The film itself though, I suggest that fans watch it. If you aren’t that big of a fan, then I do not think it will appeal to you. Interested fans though who have a well rooted love for tokusatsu eiga would like to see this. I give it a 3.5/5. It’s a nice little film.
.
To watch the film and look at pictures and story boards on the production, fallow the link below:
http://roberthood.net/blog/index.php/2010/04/14/great-space-monster-darkmatton/

6.16.2010

Review: GSB Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Sountrack Review

Review By: Matti K.
Movie: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
Music by: Michiru Oshima
Record label: Toho Music
Running time: 76:49
Discs: 1
Year of release: 2010
Review: ****1/2/*****
.
Michiru Oshima returns for her second score in the Godzilla series, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (or GXMG), which is contained on the third disc of the sixth Godzilla Perfect Collection box. The end result is a brilliant piece of work from the composer.
.
There’s just no doubt about it. GXMG is Oshima’s best score in the series by far. A lot of the credit for that goes to the fact that the score was actually recorded outside Japan with a bigger orchestra in Moscow. As a result, the music sounds richer and more powerful than any of the other scores in the Godzilla series, with probably one exception being The Return of Godzilla, which also had a symphonic sound. Just about every track on this soundtrack is excellent and very memorable. Oshima’s Godzilla theme from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is back and sounds better than ever. Of course, there are many new themes here. The biggest highlight of the score is arguably the theme of Kiryu (Mechagodzilla). It sounds really majestic and stands as a good contender for the best theme composed for the character. The Kiryu Squadron has its own excellent march, which is heard in tracks like “Intensive Training” and “Mobilization”. Akane Yashiro, thefilm’s main human character played by Yumiko Shaku, is given a very heroic theme in “Akane’s Great Effort” and “Akane’s Resilience”, as well as a more soothing theme, heard for example in “Sara’s Shorea Plant”, which is one of the best tracks of this score. There’s also a nice battle theme in the two “Intense Fighting” tracks. Another cue worth mentioning is “Leaving School”, which sounds quite reminiscent of John Williams’ work in the Harry Potter series.
.
As for the extra content, there’s nothing overly exciting. The first bonus track is an edited version of “Akane’s Great Effort~Kiryu’s Construction” with a slightly different beginning as heard in the movie. The rest of the bonus tracks are outtakes of selected cues that don’t yet have the grand symphonic sound as the finished score. Still, they’re interesting to listen to just to compare them with the versions utilized in the movie. Of course, this disc doesn’t contain the sound effects that were included on the previous CD, but they can be found elsewhere, so it’s not a huge loss.
.
The booklet has a really nice picture of Godzilla on the front cover and images of Yumiko Shaku and Kumi Mizuno on the back. Aside from the usual track notes and other stuff, there’s a profile of Michiru Oshima, as well as an interview with the composer.
.
All in all, the soundtrack of GXMG is just fantastic from start to finish, and it’s given a great presentation on this CD release. Anyone who doesn’t have this soundtrack yet should definitely consider getting the sixth Godzilla soundtrack box set.

6.15.2010

Shunsuke Ikeda: Nov. 11, 1941 - June 11, 2010

A fairly recent photo of Ikeda, taken by inerviewer Aaron Yamasato.

August Ragone asked for people to spread the word, so I am going to post this onto my blog. Actor Shunsuke Ikeda passed away June 11, 2010. The cause of death was related to his long struggle with diabetes. Saddly, he left behind a wife and daughter. Ikeda was best known for playing roles in KIKAIDA 01 (circa 1973) and THE RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (circa 1971). Shunsuke was 68 years old. Here is a short biography written by tokusatsu historian and project trailblazer August Ragone.
.
http://augustragone.blogspot.com/2010/06/farewell-to-actor-shunsuke-ikeda-call.html

The actor's memorial serive is taking place today, June 16 (this is Japan time, they are a day ahead of us) in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. That's 10pm today. Take a moment of silence and even say a prayer. Tokusatsu eiga lost one of it's heroes.

6.10.2010

Gamera 3 - The Full And Uncut Story

going up for reconstruction

2.27.12

6.09.2010

Clash of the Titans (2010) DVD Release

Front



Back


With a street date of July 27, 2010, you can now own the 2010 blockbuster remake of "Clash of the Titans". With a SRP of $28.98 for the DVD and $35 for the two disc blu-ray, you can now watch the film in your own home. Extra feature for the DVD includes additional scenes. Extra features for the two disc blu-ray release includes: "Sam Worthington: An Action Hero For The Ages: A Dedicated Actor Morphs Into A Lean Fighting Machine For A Mythic Movie", "Harnessing the Gods: Maximum Movie Mode", and "Alternate Ending: Perseus Confronts Zeus On Mount Olympus". Really makes you (for those who are fans) wish you recorded the special features that came on Cinemax, TV Guide, and G4, doesn't it? The discs come complete with English, French, and Spainish subtitles. However, keep alive since the blu-ray will have a sneak preview of The GREEN LANTERN film. No word of Best Buy/Wal Mart exlcusives yet.
.

In Clash of the Titans, the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth.

.

You can pre-order both at dvdempire.com




6.08.2010

Peter H. Brothers Interview for "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda"



"Dear Friends,

I need your help...Here's the situation: my friend Gordon helped me with my YouTube video on my "Mushroom Clouds" book, and we kinda made a deal where every 100 views I'd take him out to breakfast at Coco's. Trouble is, we've been holding in the 270s for weeks now, so I thought that out of the kindness of your hearts, some ...of you might take a look at it (just Part I, you don't need to watch Part II unless you can't sleep) and thus take it over the 300 mark. What can I say, it'll make him happy.

Many thanks!
-Peter H. Brothers"
*quote taken from PHB's Facebook message

6.03.2010

Youtube Mania!

Thanks to site such as Twitter or Facebook, fans can often times find some people they are fans of and conversate with their idols. Thanks to sites such as youtube though, we can see more of our idols than what we thought. This post is going to surround itself with two people who are quite known with on the kaiju otaku front: Mark Nagata - vinyl culture figure and kaiju toy maker and Shelley Sweeney, actress who is most notable as one of the Mechagodzilla pilots in the 1993 film, GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA.
.
First, let’s take a look at Mark Nagata’s youtube page, Max Toy Co., named after the toy company he founded which creates toys of kaiju not from the films but from the creative minds of Max Toy Co.’s employees. Heading the company is Mark Nagata, who is a major collector of kaiju vinyl, particularly Ultraman. The videos this youtube channel exhibits include videos which offers insights on the kaiju toy making process, from pouring vinyl into a cast to the lengthy process of painting the figure. It should truly give you a deeper appreciation for the art.


Next is the youtube channel of Shelley Sweeney. Sweeney, while most notably in GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1993), she has been in accouple of other Godzilla films. However, out of the kaiju scene, Shelley still lives in Japan and can be seen as a reporter on CNNJ (Japanese version of CNN, go check out the photo of her on Facebook), doing promotion for the "Bourn" films, and appearing in ads at the Narita International Airport. On youtube, Shelly is joined by Jack, which together they go from talking about Sakura Hanami and wine in a bag to have a meal in a Mayan restaurant. Very interesting stuff. Sure to make a good watch!

Enjoy the videos!

5.28.2010

Morikami Museum New Kaiju Exhibit

Monsters invade the Morikami Museum this summer as vintage toys from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, inspired by Japanese tokusatsu films and TV shows go on display in the exhibition, Kaiju! Monster Invasion! Classic Japanese tokusatsu eiga, or special effects films, typically utilized an fx technique called sutsumeishon (suitmation) in which monsters of colossal size, termed Kaiju, were portrayed by stuntmen in rubber suits moving about on sets of miniatures. Beginning with the release of the film Gojira (Godzilla) in 1954, kaiju of all types have captured the imagination of legions of fans worldwide and have spawned a lucrative toy industry that endures to this day. The Morikami’s exhibition displays over 100 figures from an extensive private collection. Some kaiju are dinosaurian in appearance; others are based vaguely on insects, sea creatures, or plants; still others combine characteristics of all of these and more. All are included in the exhibition, seeming to give form to humankind’s deepest anxieties in an age dominated by nuclear, biological, and environmental peril.
.
The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults (18 – 64), $11 for seniors (65+), $7 for children and college students with identification. The Morikami is located at 4000 Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach, Florida. For more information about the Morikami, its exhibitions, programs and events, visit http://www.morikami.org/ or call 561-495-0233.
.
Above paragraph is from "wonderingeducators.com". It opens June 1st.

More information here:
.
Special thanks to "KaijuNoMura" for bringing this to my attention.

HEAVEN AND EARTH (1990) (Ten To Chi To)



Last time I decided to write about a samurai film, it was Kinji Fukasaku’s SATOMI HAKKEN DEN. Now, I come to you with a much more forgotten film (here in America at least , a film which though forgotten has yet to loose it’s beauty and such. That film is TEN TO CHI TO, better known by it’s international title, HEAVEN AND EARTH (1990). This is another film which I love very much, both for the visuals and the feeling you get while watching the film.
.
HEAVEN AND EARTH is a film which is about something that is very popular subject matter in Japan (popular enough that it is also the subject matter of Akira Kurosawa’s 1980 venture, KAGEMUSHA), the Sengoku period of Japanese history with the battles of it’s two most popular rivals - Kagetora and Takeda. However, unlike KAGEMUSHA, the central plot isn’t about Takeda’s need for a double. It is rather Kagetora’s corruption and love life.

.
Distributed by Kadokawa, the film was written and directed by Haruki Kadokawa. With his direction, it is obvious that he is well versed in the Shinto ways (Haruki was known to have his own Shinto shrine where he would conduct his own ceremonies). With this, the art direction and look of the film is very beautiful. Many scenes seem to associate the feeling of the scene with the element most shown in the scene. Rain, fog, cherry blossom petals, and waterfalls are all keys to this. Even parts showing the seasons changing (for the purpose of acknowledging the change) help this. Not to mention photography of the actors against mountains. Great cinematography. The secret is in the establishing shots.


The film’s main plot revolves around Kagetora's corruption and love life. Many old expressive nuances are used in the film, like the use of the device known as the moustache that grows over the course of the film to comment on his acts of cruelty - some which get to the viewer. Such an act is when he (though he hesistates)  kills a traitor's wife and son. Though it should be noted that a revelation of the difference between American and Japanese cinematic techniques comes out. During the scene, Kagetora shows restraint on his face with his college asking him why he hesitates. While an American director would close in on the respective character’s faces, Kadokawa decides to do things the Kurosawa way and keep the shot so that not only is the camera still, but we have both Kagetora and his college in the same frame. Really takes a keen eye to notice not only the difference in the filming techniques, but to also notice the respective actor’s performances in scenes shot such as this.


Like some of the Kadokawa company’s other films, Haruki decided to push the limits of his productions. So, at the time, HEAVEN AND EARTH became the most expensive Japanese film, budgeted at five billion yen ($50,000,000 in today’s US dollars). The film would be shot in two places: Japan for the drama scenes (filming in Hokkaido, Nara, and Tokyo) and Canada for the recreation of battle scenes. Originally, award winning actor Ken Watanabe (to later gain popularity with another landmark samurai film - THE LAST SAMURAI) was to play Kagetora, who would be ultimately played by Takaaki Enoki. The reason for this was because of Watanabe’s last minute acute myelocytic leukemia.

In Canada (more specifically, in and around Alberta), the full crew included 80 wranglers, 95 Assistant Directors, seven full camera crews (two Japanese; five American), 40 tons of wardrobe, 3000 extras, and 800 horses with riders. This was not without it’s setbacks. Canada’s Ministry of Transportation had rules regarding the use of the Trans Canada Highways. So, the total of 115 buses that would transport the cast and crew would time the buss’ departure from Calgary, Canada for every 90 seconds at different points to help avoid a crowing problem on the highway. The only real accident which would happen on set would be the loss of a thumb belonging to a Japanese wrangler who loss it due to rope attached to a horse. The thumb was saved though.

Once on the plains, it took on average 25-30 minutes to get the 3000 extras into their costume for the film. The costume for the film would be cause for many a complaint for historical accuracy enthusiasts. Such is the use of Mempo Masks - used to hide the faces of the large amount of Caucasian Canadian extras playing samurai and the use of armored sleeves on only the right arm which was done to help with the use of the Japanese long bow, which was asymmetrical. The horses that the riders would ride though were not professionally trained horses. Instead, they bought regular horses to train, which helped save money after the feed budget for the horses started going over the $1,000,000 mark. Rather, they were trained for four months. Afterwards, the horses were auctioned off, making back more money than what the horses were bought for originally.
When it came to the distribution of the film, Kadokawa had again returned to one of the most common (at the time) methods for assured profit for a film: the use of advanced tickets. Due to a previous film that Kadokawa had part in, THE INUGAMI FAIMLY, he was by contract obligated to Toho to sell the large amount of 50,000 advanced tickets. Some people have noted their shock at the audacity at this move. This is because some of what Kadokawa was doing came fairly close from breaking fair trade laws. A member of Kadokawa published has gone on record mentioning, "workers were simply given books of tickets and the cost deducted from their pay - all without their consent." The film would go on to be (as of 2009) Japan’s 31st highest grossing film of all time, grossing 9.1 billion yen. The film was even more popular once future Japanese pop music legend Tetsuya Komuro composed the soundtrack and theme song for the film (aptly titled "Heaven and Earth", some of the music from the single would be used in Takeda and Kagetora’s final battle, minus the lyrics or main chorus section). Since then, it has been released on DVD in two forms: theatrical and a director’s cut which restores over 20 minutes of footage.
.

In America, the film was released in the usual art house circuit. The American version would have subtitles printed into the film itself with a little intro. To give the film an English speaking voice, character actor Stuart Whitman narrated the film. The film would go on to make $307,775 at the box office. A VHS costing $80 initially would be released by Live Video, who would also retain the television rights, showing the film on the Shotime channels on a regular basis some time ago. It would be host to some high quality boot leg variations that could be found over ebay.

.
HEAVEN AND EARTH has become one of the legends of Nippon Eiga history. Being somewhat of a success story when it comes to the film as a product, the film as a film is though simplistic is beautifully shot with a nice love story sub-plot and the exhibiting of Kagetora’s downfall into darkness to achieve his goal of protecting Echigo during the warring states period. A beautiful film indeed. Recommended, and it is also recommended to watch the version that occasionally comes on Shotime rather than buy the VHS tape for sake of picture quality.
.

COMPARISON TO KAGEMUSHA
There is a need to compare this film with Akira Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA - just for the study of the activity in which both films are based on. The biggest difference when approaching the films as large scale recreations of the event, we notice that unlike Kadokawa - who kept his armies color coded to blacks and reds - Kurosawa decidedly used more color variety with his soldiers, to make what one author referred to as, "oil paints running together". However, the battles themselves in their content are also different. Kurosawa does allow bloodshed in his film making some to claim that his film is more honest when it comes to depicting war, Kadokawa’s film is almost gore-less.
.
LYRICS TO TETSYA KOMURO'S MV
"Sound of water flowing into the river flows forever
echoing across a thousand days in the ear
you are far away fog closed spring
it is my dream from this River ritai
you belive in love, beloved
surely meet daily over past
.
every man is a repeat of today's date color color
look inside yourself if you stay with
the evening even belive in love
vanishes life over to meet someday
.
Chorus (sung in english)
there will be always
heaven and earth forever
there will be always
heaven and earth forever
.
Black hair swaying in the wind in your memories float
until then surely meet reborn
you belive in love, beloved
surely meet daily over past
.
Repeat this 3 times.