Saturday, June 4, 2016

Gods of Egypt (2016)

         A pantheon is the particular set of all gods in mythology and traditions. Usually this term is intertwined with polytheistic religions such as ancient Greek, Mayan, Chinese, or Egyptian. In Egyptian mythology, like many other supreme beings; each entity is associated with a certain lifestyle, natural occurrence, or concept. For example, Anubis is the god of the afterlife while Ra is the sun god according to ancient Egyptians. I first saw Gods of Egypt on opening night in February (alongside paying forty-four dollars for a set of four tickets); and I even preordered a copy online. Unlike the heavily overused Greek pantheon (i.e. Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, The Odyssey, Jason and the Argonauts, and even Disney's HerculesGods of Egypt brought forth the first true Egyptian pantheon film alongside how the Egyptians believed how the world was created. This film is indeed a mythological creation film such as how The Ten Commandments, or Risen are "creationist" Christianity films. Gods of Egypt is about how an impossible thief (Brenton Thwaites) teams up with the exiled god of the air (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to defeat the god of the desert (Gerald Butler) known as Set.

       The casting for this film was alright for the main characters. The mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites, Maleficent) and his girlfriend Zaya (Courtney Eaton, Mad Max: Fury Road) were truly the stars of the entire film. Even though this film is based off of the Egyptian pantheon; these two were indeed the primary focus. I actually enjoyed them on screen: Bek the 'Average Joe' of ancient Egypt, and the very beautiful Zaya. Horus, the god of the air, was portrayed by actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) as an egotistical heir to the supreme god Osiris' (Bryan Brown) kingdom. The goddess of love (and Horus' lover) Hathor (Elodie Yung, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) was truly irresistable while at the same time 'untouchable'. Actor Gerald Butler (300) played the evil Set, a god hellbent on ruling the entire world (of only Egypt). All three of the main gods and goddess were truly unbelievably well done in their performances; and the character development between the three were pretty entertaining. Aside from these three gods, the others included Brown's Osiris, Rachel Blake's Isis, Emma Booth's Nephthys, Chadwick Boseman's Thoth, Goran D. Kleut's Anubis; and Pirates of the Caribbean star Geoffrey Rush as Ra. The only downfall between these seven beings, I felt that Boseman's Thoth was remotely annoying. Thoth, the god of knowledge, was a true letdown to me in the film (no hard feelings though). Aside from the gods, mortal architect Urshu (Rufus Sewell, The Illusionist) was the main mortal villain for the mortal thief-turned-hero Bek to conquer. Out of all of these amazing actors and actresses; my two favorites have to be the Snake Riders: Astarte (Yaya Deng; the melanistic cobra's rider) and Anat (Abbey Lee; the leucistic cobra's rider). Both truly sexy while being deadly at the same time.

        As you could already guessed it from either reading earlier posts or from the introduction, I like mythology. Since Gods of Egypt is a mythological film, you could imagine that I've already done my research to see if the film followed its story correctly. Even though a few of the things that occurred in the film is either inaccurate (i.e. the taking of both of Horus' eyes), or prolonged to introduce more action; Gods of Egypt follows the Egyptian myth on how Horus regain Egypt from the jealous Set whom murdered his father. I for one was surprised that this film almost exactly followed Horus' story. Aside from that, this film was a very good adventure film even though it seemed to have taken longer than it should. Halfway through the movie, it gets a little boring and seems to be dragging on but, at least the epic showdown is worth the wait. The storyline and character developments were perfect while the CGI seemed pretty buggy at times (examples could include some fight sequences, and ancient Egypt overall). The suits of armor the gods could transform into were extremely admiring but, I was disappointed that they weren't in the entire film itself. The two cobras, the sphinx (voiced by Kenneth Ransom), and the chaos beast Apophis were extremely well done for creature animation in my opinion.

         Before I go into my favorite scenes, I have to point out to the people that were not really giving this film a chance. First off, after reading up in social media; Egypt isn't composed of neither Arabs or Africans. Egyptians may live on the continent of Africa but, they themselves are a totally different group of people. You couldn't imagine how many people were complaining about this. All these complaints were due to the actors' nationalities from people whom weren't even Egyptian. Its not by the actor's skin but, on how well they play the part. Second, this film is about Egyptian mythology not Egypt as we all know it through history. Like I said earlier, this film is a creation myth composed into a cinematic feature. Literally the entire world was ancient Egypt while at the same time mythical creatures such as the sphinx and gigantic scarabs were living there. Not to mention that, since only Egypt was created; I didn't mind that most of the mortals (or gods) were a mix of races. When you think about, it makes perfect sense that maybe there were differences in skin to aid the expansion of the world if only Ra chooses to expand it outside of Egypt. I do apologize if I offend anyone, or I seem passionate but, some people don't have the brain power to analyze a film aside from 'whitewashing' or 'inaccuracy'. Aside from that little rant, my favorite scenes composed of the first fight between Horus and Set; when the cobra riders attack our wandering heroes; when Set merged all the gods' abilities into himself (i.e. Thoth's brain, Horus' eye, etc.), and of course the final showdown. Literally whenever the gods morphed into their armored forms made it on my favorites list.

        My rating for Gods of Egypt is a 4.5 out of 5. The film itself was quite entertaining and had something I enjoyed but, its length of over two hours seemed too long for this type of film. Yes its an adventure film like that of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, or George Lucas' Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope but, personally; it seemed to drag on with some slow parts in-between action sequences. Also lets be thankful that they ended this film without any hopes of a sequel, or a film series. Gods of Egypt did an excellent job with the story of Horus but, honestly we don't need a story for Thoth, or even Ra. Aside from that, the movie was really good for the price I paid for on opening night. I enjoyed the armored suits they transformed into (main reason why I wanted to watch it); the storyline was well played out yet longish; the characters and creature effects were amazing, and the entire concept of the film was pure genius if you're a mythology lover. If you haven't already seen it, please do so because you're missing out. I would advise watching it either out of boredom, or for a family/or friends movie night. You won't be disappointed.                           

"From this moment on, the Afterlife must be earned, not with gold, but by good deeds, compassion, and generosity. What we do, how we act in this life matters."

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

   Who doesn't love spy films? Since the thirties, espionage films had affected world culture with memorable characters; interesting villains, unbelievable gadgets, exotic locations, and of course; the womanizing. Even though espionage movies started in the early 1930's, they did become popular during the 1960's thanks to the help of Ian Fleming's fictional M16 agent, James Bond. As a charming British spy, James Bond (Sean Connery) was a complete inspiration for spy films that followed his 1962 debut in Dr. No. Either it be the wackiness of Austin Powers or the action packed Jason Bourne, OO7 played some sort of role in the success for each spy since then. While most spy films were featured as motion pictures, they also had achieved in television shows. From Get Smart to The Avengers, television spies carried on the legacy of espionage. While the British released another James Bond film (Goldfinger) in 1964, the United States had released The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on television. The United Network Command for Law Enforcement, an acronym for UNCLE; was created as an fictional arm for the United Nations, based in New York City. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was heavily influenced by Ian Fleming (thanks to co-creator Norman Felton), and became a hit after the introduction of an unlikely duo (Russian and the United States). Personally I don't know a lot about the original television series but, after watching this film; I wouldn't mind getting into it (or the book series).

    The casting in this film was truly superb. Napoleon Solo, a sixties CIA agent; was portrayed by actor Henry Cavill (Man of Steel). Cavill did an outstanding job as Napoleon Solo (no relation to Han) rather than Clark Kent in my opinion. It seemed that Cavill actually enjoyed playing Solo, and after watching his performance on both small and big screen; I personally feel that he was born to play this role. Aside from the actor, Napoleon was actually more of an American James Bond with the exception of a few flaws in his character. Being blackmailed by the CIA to become an effective spy rather than rotting in jail due to war crimes (theft) doesn't sound fun in the first place especially when you have a over-the-shoulder type of boss (Sanders; Jared Harris). On the other side of the iron curtain though, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer; The Lone Ranger) was indeed a worthy adversary and partner. As a KGB agent whom has lots of family demons and built up rage; I truly enjoyed how he kept his accent all the way through the film alongside his overpowering Russian heritage. Aside from Napoleon and Illya, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina) was truly an overpowering female role especially when you find out her secret later on through the film. Vikander's performance too was aspiring as well as truly remarkable. A daughter of an "ex-Nazi" whom had connections to knowing how to make a nuclear bomb, and an outstanding mechanic/driver; Gaby was truly unbelievable. Not to mention the love tension between her and Illya also made it interesting (West Berlin girl meets KGB's top agent). The main villainess, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby), was truly twisted while at the same time very seductive. Also lets not forget about Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant, The Lair of the White Worm), the British creator of UNCLE and the one whom got the team together.

     The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is truly an unique historical fiction film. From the separation of Berlin after World War II to the beginning of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. shares its realism with other films like Miracle and even X-Men: First Class. Even the '60's feeling was kept throughout the film via photographs and camera; making it seem as though you were actually there. I also enjoyed how it changed locations throughout Europe. One minute you're in Germany trying to rescue someone from Western Berlin to killing the bad guys in Rome; this film had a wide array of beautifully set locations. I also enjoyed the subtitling as well, especially when its used for a feeling of realism. The most unique subtitling was probably when Gaby was riding in the car with her Uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) to lunch. My reasoning is that, even though you could hear bits and pieces; you could read the entire conversation without not knowing what's happening. Also the entire theme of the film, espionage, was carried throughout perfectly. One second you think somebody is on your team but then you get the order to kill your new partner; or not knowing if someone is indeed a double agent of sorts. The guessing and the flashbacks for Napoleon's antics had the film even better throughout it. I actually enjoyed how the film takes place in 1963 (a year before the original television show airs) makes it more into an origin story than an average approach to remakes.The credits also were helpful as you learn more about the four main characters in bios.

     There are so many favorite scenes that its hard to choose which is my all-time favorite. The beginning with the entire rescue by Solo was amazingly well done, while the Italian mountain chase was also quite entertaining. If I had to choose one scene though, it'll have to be when Cowboy (Solo) and Peril (Illya) first go on a "secret mission" together at the satellite factory. From start to finish, it was truly a highlight for the film as you begin to see a friendship forming. The best part also has to be when Solo falls into the water; gets into a nearby truck, and begins to eat while playing classical Italian music as he watches Illya try to escape an enemy boat. That's another thing I like too; the use of music throughout the film. Aside from the score, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had an interesting set of music playing throughout the film; mainly in Italian. This film is indeed an all-time favorite. Also lets not forget to mention that the Lone Ranger kicks Superman's ass in that bathroom brawl.

    My rating for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a definite 5 out of 5. After seeing it again and again (plus finally writing a review on it), this film is truly a masterpiece. The director did an outstanding job with realism and historical standpoints throughout while telling a truly thrilling story. The story itself is truly unbelievable while the cinematography is professionally well done. For example, after shooting at Illya's vehicle in Berlin before the flashback with the briefing; how the camera zooms into Solo's face with light forming underneath his eyes while everything begins to dark around him. That right there is the best use of a camera I had ever seen. Its truly remarkable and inspiring. The character development, action sequences, and the dialogue were too perfect for this film. Aside from my off tangent "fangirling", if you haven't seen this film than you are truly missing out on life. You need to see this film. You must watch it. This is the first film in years that I actually love watching again and again (aside from Deadpool). Please, do yourself a favor and either buy it, rent it, or stream it. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a true spy film gold mine.

"For a special agent, you're not having a very special day, are you?"        

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Boy and the Beast (2015)

       Who doesn't love anime? Since its creation, anime has become a huge component in worldwide culture. At any age, anime has at least once influenced somebody's life. Nowadays, since it is more common; anime has integrated with human culture making it more of a norm in society. Either it is a thirty minute episode from a television series, or a two hour long film; anime is one of the world's favorite forms of entertainment. There are many prime examples of good animators out there, but one of the best has to be Mamoru Hosoda. His signature art style and the flow of his stories have captured the minds of many fans. From his works on animated films such as Digimon: The Movie, Summer Wars, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; Hosoda had created perfect examples of animated masterpieces for many generations of fans. His recent masterpiece, The Boy and the Beast, has also followed in those footsteps. The film is about two worlds: the human world and the beast world. A nine year old, run-away boy named Ren/Kyuta becomes the apprentice of the stubborn and unorganized Kumatetsu (the bear) of the Beast Kingdom. Even though they do tend to fight; rather than master and disciple they become more like father and son.

      The Boy and the Beast is a film with heart and soul. The storyline was quite inspirational while the character development created an understanding toward humanity. From beginning to end, the relationship between Ren/Kyuta and Kumatetsu had plenty of tensions; but they were the good type of tensions similar to that between family members or friends. Having things in common with those you care about creates a better understanding amongst yourselves. Kumatetsu, Hyakushuubou (the pig), and even Tatara (the monkey) made it obvious toward Ren/Kyuta either it be aiding him with advice on how to clean a house, or to show compassion toward someone. There were many other themes in this film that added to its heart and soul: true strength, love, hard working, friendship, and empathy. Another theme was the dangers of one's heart while going through rough times. Humans weren't welcomed in the Beast Kingdom due to their hearts which were said to be full of hatred and darkness. Ren/Kyuta and Ichirouhiko (the two humans living amongst the beasts) had this void but it was Ren/Kyuta whom conquered it thanks to the compassion by Kaede. Though this film had a good standpoint on these themes; it did have great action and comedy. There were some parts that made you laugh while in others you were on the edge of your seat. Out of all the characters in the film, I really liked Kumatetsu and Iozen (the boar). Kumatetsu had a brash strategy when it came to fighting; using brute strength and determination while Iozen was more patient while in a fight. I do however wished that Chiko, the little white fluff ball that befriended Ren/Kyuta; had more to offer to the storyline since he was a total mystery. There were plenty of scenes in The Boy and the Beast that I enjoyed but, my favorites have to be solely around the fights between Kumatetsu and Iozen. I liked Iozen in the fights for his character and style but, Kumatetsu's determination made it even more enjoyable to watch. The reincarnation scene too was a favorite since it was definitely the highlight point of the film.

         My rating for The Boy and the Beast is a definite 5 out of 5. The storyline was truly epic alongside its amazing character development. Just the feeling from this film afterwards made me feel like a totally different person. This film did in fact made me cry but, it was tears of joy. The reincarnation scene is probably the greatest example in the film for this. The anthropomorphism in The Boy and the Beast had the greatest influence on the heart and soul of the film too. It helped enhanced a unique understanding that no matter what species you are; all life is considered to be ‘human’. Everything feels love and empathy alongside hatred and fear. When you let the negative emotions take you over; sometimes what you need to cure it is the help of your family and friends. If you haven’t already seen this film, go watch it now. You’re missing out on a good anime that captures the true essence of heart and soul.

"Fight, Kumatetsu!" 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bio Hunter (1995)

          Yoshiaki Kawajiri has created quite inspirational films/OVA such as Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, Birdy the Mighty, and the 'Deadshot' segment in Batman: Gotham Knight. His animation style is truly admiring and beautiful to watch especially in the realm of horror. Bio Hunter, based off the manga by Fujihiko Hosono, is a horror OVA about two molecular scientists (Koshigaya and Komada) who fight against a 'demon virus' that turns normal human beings into grotesque monsters. Koshigaya takes more of a scientific approach while Komada uses his claws (yes, he's infected) to solve the mystery behind the virus. Together they're known as the Bio Hunters, and no matter whose infected; they'll do everything in their power to save them from turning into ferocious beasts. The film picks up soon after Komada meets a young woman, Sayaka, whose being chased by the Japanese government for her psychic grandfather, Bokuda. While the duo decides to help her, Komada soon discovers that he's losing the fight with the demon from within.

       Bio Hunter is an excellent example of an anime film that needs to be followed-up by a series, or sequel. Not enough time for further character development, and since having a cliffhanger-type ending; makes the viewer wanting more. Approximately fifty-eight minutes long, this single episode film needs something to be added to it. The storyline itself was great since it had a lot of good elements: horror, science fiction, action, romance, and adult elements. With animated blood and gore it was an excellent example of a great animated horror. The science fiction atmosphere of the film gave the horror a boost alongside the scientific aspect for the story. Fighting sequences were brutal and entertaining alongside the action it brought with it. Romance gave the film a sense of humanity in a world ruled by power and beasts. The adult elements in the film gave it a mature setting for the potential violence soon to follow especially after the shortly lived opening. The monsters in the film were quite grotesque and horrifying ranging from the "pimple ghouls" to the tentacled, Deadly Spawn-like Chief of Defense (below). Aside from the obvious monsters in the film, it also added occultism into the story thanks to the help of Bokuda. My two favorite characters are Komada and the main henchman. Komada has the coolest demon form (crossed between a gargoyle, chameleon, and a wolf); while the henchman reminded me of Akuma from Street Fighter but, with a more business attire (not to mention he literally ate a crystal ball). My favorite scene throughout the film was probably the final showdown between Komada and the Chief of Defense whom were both in their monstrous forms.


     My rating for Bio Hunter is a hard one but, I have to say a 4 out of 5. Like I said earlier, the film needs either a series or a sequel. The cliffhanger-type ending opens up a perfect opportunity for a continuation in the story arc. The film had a good storyline, great characters and their designs; and outstanding animation. Whenever you get the chance, please watch this film. It brings back the nineties-style animation with grotesque horror similar to that of Wicked City.

"Uh-oh. We're in trouble. I'm starting to lose control." 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Devilman (2004)

         Out of all the superheroes, Japan's are probably the most unique as well as outright weird. They come in an array of shapes, sizes, and powers ranging from the most absurd to practical. Either it be from the Tokusatsu styled heroes such as Super Sentai and Ultraman; or the manga/anime heroes such as The Big O and One-Punch Man. Manga artist Go Nagai is one of many artists who created their own strange heroes throughout the years with some being very popular. Nagai had pioneered the mecha genre with Mazinger Z as well as created unforgettable heroines like Cutie Honey. Debiruman (Devilman) is also a brainchild of this legendary artist but, what makes him cooler than giant robots and cute magical girls is that he is a demon. Demons as superheroes are quite interesting because they take an unexpected turn in heroism. Comic book heroes such as Etrigan, Hellboy, Spawn, and Ghost Rider gained their powers from the forces of darkness but, instead fight on the side to aid humanity instead of destroying it. Devilman is a Japanese horror/superhero film about a young man who becomes a demon to help save the world from total destruction.

      The cast in the film is quite interesting since it had actual twins playing Akira Fudo/Devilman (Hisato Izaki) and Ryo Asuka/Satan (Yusuke Izaki). Akira is a mild mannered high school student who becomes a demon with his humanity still intact while Ryo is his longtime friend turned foe. Actress Ayana Sakai portrayed Akira's love interest as Miki Makimura, whose family adopted Akira after his parents died in a car crash four years earlier. Miki's father, Keisuke, was played by actor Ryudo Uzaki (Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and Miki's mother, Emi, was played by actress Yoko Aki. There were plenty of good secondary characters throughout the film but, there were a few that stood out. First off, actress Asuka Shibuya (Karas: the Prophecy) played as Miko, a bullied girl turned demon similar to that of Akira. Second there was Ai Tominaga (R100) who took the legendary role as Silene, a harpy-like demon whose also the lover of the demon that possessed Akira. As a bonus for the film, American professional wrestler Bob Sapp (Elektra; Conan the Barbarian) was the world newscaster who filled in the gaps throughout the film.

      Devilman is the only live-action film in the franchise. The first anime aired in 1972 with a 1973 animated movie with Devilman teaming up with Mazinger Z. In 1987, an updated miniseries was released alongside an OVA for Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman which faced Akira against his inner demon, Amon. In 1994, the original concept for Devilman called Demon Lord Dante was released as an anime till 1996. This version was darker than what we have today and is considered the first incarnation for Devilman.  A spin-off appeared in 1998 as a gender-switching version called Devilman Lady plus another spin-off called Violence Jack, which consisted of three different OVA from 1986 to 1990. This version consisted of a possible link between the two series (both created by Go Nagai) in which Jack is actually Akira Fudo whose given a second chance to defeat Satan. Recently, another miniseries was created in 2015 that once again crossed Devilman with another famous Japanese superhero: Cyborg 009. Now back to the film, Devilman had good computer generated sequences in which Akira transformed into his demon form, or fought other demons. Even though they were short and quick; they were quite entertaining to watch but honestly they didn't hold the film. The storyline was alright but, at most parts it got kinda boring. The gore and blood effects were quite entertaining but, weren't over the top like other J-Horror films such as Machine Girl or Tokyo Gore Police. Even though the film was rated "13 and Older", the director sure wanted to stay away from the truly horrifying aspect that Devilman represents in the anime/manga.

       Here's an interesting fact about the word 'Devilman'. In the entire franchise when somebody refers you as a Devilman, it meant that you have more control than the demon whom possessed you. Basically a demon on the outside but, a human in the inside. That explains why Miko wasn't a murderous demon but, she was too a Devilman like Akira. The side story for her was also purposeful for the film because it should the willingness to live. Ironically, most of the humans in the films actually showed their true colors similar to that in Stephen King's The Mist. Human beings are the true monsters, not the other way around for the demons. The film did show a perfect example of fear and panic in people. Out all the scenes, the mob attack on the Makimura household was probably the strongest that represented this. My most favorite scenes were mostly centered around the time Akira transformed into his demon form. Out of all of them though; I have to say the fight between him and Silene, and the final showdown against Ryo/Satan were my favorite.

      My rating for Devilman is a 3.5 out of 5. Even though this film is not the best representation of the franchise, it did have pros about it. First off, this film actually got me into the franchise and I'm grateful for it. Second, it showed two sides of the human psyche: the dark side in which people begin to feed off fear and panic to the point that they lose their humanity; and the lighter side that never gives up even if its the end of the world or losing a childhood friend. Thirdly, the film actually followed most of what happened in the manga/anime with a few changes here and there. I recommend this movie solely for a bad movie night, or to finish off a Devilman marathon. My advice would be to watch the anime first of either adaption or spin-off before viewing the film to gain background knowledge on the actual storyline. Watch Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman instead because that won't disappoint you. I'm not saying Devilman isn't worth your time since it did more good than harm for myself but, please be aware that you should probably do your homework before jumping into this live-action version.

"Demons don't cry, Akira." 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Voyage of the Unicorn (2001)


      Who doesn't love a good fantasy adventure film? There are many examples but these are what come to mind first: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. These outstanding six films have everything in them ranging from armies of orcs to the thrill of an epic journey. Mythical beings live amongst each other in a world so otherworldly that it parallels ours by a small fraction. Twists and turns lie in wait for our heroes to overcome plus not to mention the feeling of being there alongside them. There are many others that go alongside Jackson's films in this genre such as The Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, and MirrorMask. The Voyage of the Unicorn is also one of these films but there's an interesting catch. It came in the form of a television miniseries such as Dinotopia, or The Odyssey. Also not to mention this film, alongside the other two examples; are also based off books. The Voyage of the Unicorn is based off the novel written by James C. Christensen titled Voyage of the Basset. The film centers around a widowed university professor (Beau Bridges) and his two daughters (Chantal Conlin and Heather McEwen) who travel into a magical world to save it from the forces of darkness.

    The film stars Beau Bridges (older brother of Jeff Bridges) as Professor Alan Aisling, a man who still believes in dragons and unicorns within a world that denies them. His two daughters, Cassie (Conlin) and Miranda (McEwen) have their different views on the subject but they all end up believing in the end. Alongside them on the magical ship known as the Unicorn, they are joined by several other mythical beings on their quest to fulfill a prophecy. The dwarf Malachi (Colin Heath) and the elf Sebastian (Kristian Ayre) sail the massive Unicorn through the seas in both the magical and real world. The mighty Minotaur (Mark Gibbon) joins the crew as the team's strongman and Cassie's protector. The beautiful but deadly Medusa (Kira Clavell) joins them as well. Not to mention the King and Queen of the fairies (Oberon and Titania; Markus Parilo and Ocean Hellman) guide them on their quest alongside the assistance of a Sphinx (Kim Hawthorne), and an ogre (C. Ernst Harth). On the side of darkness though, there stands the dreaded but clumsy Skotos (Mackenzie Gray) the troll. He's also accompanied by his two lackeys Cratch (John DeSantis) and Mog (Adrien Dorval). Aside from this amazing cast, there's a poorly animated dragon and a horn-glued-on-the-top-of-the-head unicorn (just like the one from Legend). 

     First off I like to say the make-up effects were phenomenal in this film. Even for a low/medium budget television miniseries it was really good. From the trolls to the fairies, they had the lifelike feeling to them that even today's big budget films could barely grasp without the aid of computer generated software. I personally enjoyed the atmosphere had to offer with the sense of adventure and a feeling of freedom. The scenes on the boat were truly remarkable especially when you discover its just like the TARDIS. Once you entered below deck, you discover that the ship is even bigger on the inside with an entire library plus more. Even though the film was heavily aimed for younger audiences (mainly feminine), it did have great fighting sequences amongst the forces of good and evil. Lets face it, out of everyone Malachi and Miranda were the most badass fighters in the entire film. The character development in the film was quite enjoyable especially for the villain Skotos. When first introduced, he had the usual villainous personality: cunning, sinister, and dastardly; until later you discover him more of a lovable buffoon. We're talking about a troll who fell down a flank of stairs. My only complaint though was the dragon's design. It was the weirdest dragon I've ever seen in film but, it wasn't horrible. The computer animated dragon (likely the only thing that was composed fully from CGI) seemed as though it leap off the screen from Dinotopia or other television movies. Kinda wished they used more of a puppeteer type approach for the dragon though (but at least the sea serpent on the other hand wasn't all bad).   
     Even though I used the word 'feminine' earlier to describe what type of audience would enjoy the film, I would like to point out that I'm using the term loosely. I for one enjoyed the film especially when I was younger. The use of unicorns, fairies, princesses, and powering women were heavily used throughout Voyage of the Unicorn but it also offered more to it.  The film was aimed for children and families unlike how the film Legend was aimed more toward teenagers. Though they both have violence in them, Voyage of the Unicorn had a more child friendly plot to keep it moving. Voyage of the Unicorn is indeed a family-friendly film that has a little bit of everything the entire family would enjoy. For example, I didn't like the fending off the sea serpent sequence but I did like the taming of the unicorn scene. Throughout the entire film, there are two scenes that I favored: when Cassie befriends the actually kindhearted Minotaur, and the final battle sequence with the rebirth of the dragon (video). 

    My rating for Voyage of the Unicorn is a 4 out of 5. The film is a must watch when you're viewing it as a family. Though to some it may seem girly since the boats named after an unicorn but, you must view it in a way that it affects your inner child. You must compare yourself to a few of the characters in order to fully understand how this film affects you. Imagination works best when you view fantasy adventure films such as this when you see a little bit of yourself within it. I for one enjoy mythology so I see myself truly enjoying this film even years from now. I'm not into unicorns similar to that of a five year old girl but, I'm still intrigued by the stories you hear about them. It goes for dragons and mermaids as well. Everybody has seen The Little Mermaid or DragonHeart since its based on mythological figures but, they still intrigue people even today. This film is a fantasy thrill ride since it follows stories that have been past down through the ages. Please, when you get the chance; watch the Voyage of the Unicorn  with your family. You never know, your uncle may be more like Skotos than the Minotaur. 

   "Crendendo Vides. By believing, one sees."

Monday, December 21, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Kaiju Films

     No matter what genre or sub genre in film; everybody has their favorites either somebody's Top 10 or  having a mile long list. The following list is following the previous kaiju theme from an earlier post from this year. Instead of unmade kaiju films, this list will share my Top 10 favorites. Though a few of you may totally agree with my choices or disagree; please keep in mind that this list is what truly makes me happy. So please enjoy reading this post and hopefully I'll get a few who'll agree.

#10 – Godzilla (2014)
           For an updated American Gojira film to replace Emmerich's failure, Godzilla 2014 did an outstanding job by staying true to the franchise. Gareth achieved his main goal of giving moviegoers a type of 'high' following the end of the film, and I had it for three days afterwards! My favorite thing about the film were the MUTOs (especially the male), and their design differed from everyday kaiju from films or television shows. Personally I enjoyed the main focus on the coming of the MUTOs which most fans complained about following its release. Next to that, I have to agree with other G-fans that for a Godzilla movie; there wasn't enough of him. You may be wondering why G’14 is at the bottom of my list? My reasoning is that, even though this was a great movie; this updated film isn’t my all-time favorite but, it deserves to be the starting point for this list. 

#9 – Pacific Rim (2013)
         Who doesn’t like giant robots fighting giant monsters? Guillermo Del Toro did an outstanding job directing this film which many people probably dreamt about coming onto the big screen.  The entire film had pretty awesome action packed fighting sequences and an easy to follow storyline (even though it got somewhat boring halfway through the film).  I wasn’t much of a fan for the Jaegers but, I enjoyed the kaiju designs especially Knifehead and Onibaba. I don’t know how Del Toro will pick up where he ended the film but, I’m looking forward for the sequel in the future (or possibly an animated series).  

#8 – Reptilicus (1961)
         You’re probably wondering why Reptilicus is in eighth place before Pacific Rim and G’14? My answer is that this film, while growing up; came on the Syfy channel occasionally and the cheesy effects captured my further attention to kaiju. Funny to say that a puppet brought more fascination than suitmation or CGI but, this film was quite entertaining to watch. Reptilicus doesn’t get enough love but, this Danish-American kaiju film captured my imagination at a young age and I treasure its affect on me since.  Also, who doesn’t love a prehistoric serpentine dragon that spews acid and can regenerate?   

#7 –The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
       Being a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, this film featured two humanoid kaiju known as Gaira (green) and Sanda (brown). Described as being “brothers”, Gaira was the aquatic antagonist who was a man-eater while Sanda, whom was raised by humans; is the peaceful yet justifiable protagonist. This film is basically a gigantic sibling rivalry. I was extremely excited for this film to finally be released in the United States since I had never seen it before. Being paired off with the film Rodan, War of the Gargantuas made it to #7 on my favorite kaiju films. Not to mention it begins with the return of the giant octopus, Oodako (who appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla and in a deleted scene of Frankenstein Conquers the World).

#6 – Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
         Out of all the Gamera films that I've seen over the years, I have to truly say this one is my all-time favorite. I remembered watching Guardian of the Universe on television with my family and it blew my mind away. That one scene when everybody witnesses Gamera flying for the first time still brings tears of joy to my eyes. This film was quite inspirational to me since this was probably the first time I'd truly understood the flying fire-breathing turtle. I can't recall if I already seen previous Gamera films like War of the Monsters (Barugon) or Destroy All Planets (Viras), but out of all of them; this one is truly my all-time favorite.  

#5 – Varan the Unbelievable (1962)
         Even though I had to watch this film with subtitles, Varan the Unbelievable does indeed match his title. First off, I own the Japanese audio only version of the film on DVD which came along with two other classic Toho science fiction films: The Mysterians and Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People. All three are now hard-to-find. Secondly, Varan is one of my favorites plus he's my go-to monster on Godzilla: Unleashed on the Wii. Varan would had been killer in the first draft of Godzilla vs. Gigan, or even Godzilla, Anguirus, and Varan: Giant Monsters All Out Attack but, his popularity isn't that high. Oh well, maybe they couldn't use him because he's unbelievable.     

#4 – Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster (1964)
         Considered the archnemesis of Godzilla, King Ghidorah is probably the most recognizable foe. He appeared in about nine films (including a few variations), two television series, and in all of the Gojira-themed video games; Ghidorah deserves a spot in this list. Being his first debut, I feel that Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster should be everybody's go-to film if they want total kaiju mayhem. Not only does Ghidorah makes his first (but not last) appearance; he does battle against the combine strength of Toho's strongest (Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra) and almost wins. Talk about a real monster especially in Destroy All Monsters!
#3 – Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)
         Who doesn't love Frankenstein's Monster? Apparently Japan did enough that they created a kaiju-themed movie about him. Frankenstein Conquers the World (or Frankenstein vs. Baragon) is probably one of Japan's weirdest yet interesting kaiju-themed piece of cinema. Toho took a classic literary monster then transformed him into an enormous, radioactive manster. You're maybe wondering why this film is before its sequel, War of the Gargantuas? First off, its Frankenstein's Monster. Second, not only does he become a kaiju but he fights another kaiju (the original Baragon; including Oodako the Giant Octopus from an alternate ending). Aside from Frankenstein, now we need other classic monsters fighting kaiju like a final cut of Godzilla vs. Wolfman, or a "Mothra vs. Dracula"?   
#2 – Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)
        During my childhood, this was the one Gojira film that I never missed watching on the Syfy channel. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (or Godzilla vs. Hedorah), to me, is truly unique in a way. Other than the antipollution messages throughout the film, Hedorah was probably one of my favorite kaiju antagonist. He's that awesome that I don't even have an action figure of him...yet. You're probably reading this and thinking to yourself that I like a gigantic pile of crap but, Hedorah was one of those truly bizarre kaiju in which you had to admire him at one point throughout the film. Face it, if the humans didn't help Godzilla; most likely he would've been suffocated to death. Also, Godzilla flies in the movie so, that's another reason this is #2.    

Honorable Mentions:

- Reptilian (1999/2001): An updated Yongary, Monster from the Deep which offers hostile extraterrestrials; poor, but decent graphics, and finally a fight between Yongary and Cycor.
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974): Its kaiju versus mech in this truly classic film as Godzilla fights a mechanical doppelganger with the help of Anguirus (poor Anguirus), and the fashionably late King Caesar. 
- King Kong Lives (1986): The 70’s version of King Kong had its ups and downs but, its sequel offered more to the franchise as Kong is set loose onto the United States yet has another reasonable love interest. 
- Gamera the Brave (2006): Gamera the Brave was a pretty good updated film to the Gamera franchise but, what I really enjoyed in this film was the rival monster Zedus. 

#1 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
          They've done Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and Freddy vs. Jason so why not King Kong vs. Godzilla? Aside from the nightmarish Toho Kong suit, this film didn't really have any flaws in my opinion. For those who'll argue about the "scientific aspect" of the film, although the original Kong would've been crushed by Godzilla (literally); please be aware that in kaiju films almost anything can happen. Examples can include but not limited to the following: the walrus kaiju Maguma from Gorath, Frankenstein's monster becoming a kaiju himself, or even Guilala, the gigantic-space-chicken-thing from The X from Outer Space. Just because you believe King Kong could never match-up against Gojira, it doesn't mean it isn't possible in the realm of entertainment. The main two reasons why this kaiju film tops the rest is that: 1) it had Kong as the hero while having Godzilla as the villain; and 2) the 1962 Gojira suit is my all-time favorite incarnation of the King of the Monsters.

     I hope you enjoyed this list for my Top 10 Favorite Kaiju Films. Next list will be of my Top 10 Disliked Kaiju Films and remember: "Let them fight!"