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).
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"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).
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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!"
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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.
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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.
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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/*****
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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!