3 Reasons To Watch WWE

17 09 2014

WWE Logo

I have been a fan of professional wrestling for 10 years now. I first watched Smackdown in July 2004 and can remember the first time I saw my favourite wrestler The Undertaker come out to the ring and challenge the then WWE Champion JBL for a match at Summerslam (2004), a Pay Per View (PPV) I still have on DVD. Since then my interest and enjoyment grew and I even went to see Smackdown on two occasions at the Manchester Evening News Arena. In 2008, TNA started being shown on Bravo in the UK; later Challenge and since then I have seen TNA in Manchester on two occasions. I really do enjoy wrestling, and when I have had the opportunity to do so, I have even seen local British wrestling also. But my enjoyment of WWE has begun to flounder in a chain of events which started at Wrestlemania 21 in 2005 when John Cena became WWE Champion for the first time, since which WWE has gotten to the point of annoying with John Cena being champion “ALL THE TIME” and better wrestlers not being given an opportunity. At the moment there is only (to me at least) 3 reasons to continue watching WWE, and two of those surround an area of wrestling I have not really been all that interested in.

First Reason – Paige

Paige

Back in 2011, while watching an XWA show in Morecambe, There was a sort of exhibition match which incorporated two wrestlers from Pro-Wrestling EVE, an all-female promotion, and the match was for the Pro-Wrestling: EVE Championship. The match was between Inaugural Champion Britani Knight and challenger Jenny Sjödin (another terrific female wrestler) with Sjödin winning the title. However most of my attention was on Britani Knight and after the match I looked into her career every now and then to see how she was doing. When the Channel 4 show “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family” aired, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Knight had been signed onto the WWE, and from that point I was even more inspired to follow her career. The divas division of WWE has always been something that I would generally avoid as I was more a fan of the wrestling and not the eye candy that the divas division was more or less mostly about. TNA’s knockout division was more wrestling and less eye-candy and for the women’s side of wrestling was genuinely enjoyable with both good wrestling characters as well as wrestling.

Paige NXT Champion

Since the point of her debut in WWE, Knight has quickly shot through the ranks in the divas division to become one of the most interesting and best wrestlers in the entire company right now (in my opinion) all be it with the new ring name of Paige. The Divas division in WWE was finally enjoyable to watch at least from my point of view and thanks to Paige was finally able to rival the TNA Knockouts. From her wrestling skill, to her look (black hair and ring attire), the way her character is played, the way she speaks (keeping the British accent), her cool leather jacket; to just everything about her. On top of that, she genuinely has in ring talent and wrestling skill (probably mostly thankful to her wrestling family origins). So you’re not watching an ordinary match, you’re watching an actual wrestling match (and not just something which looks more like a cat fight than anything else) with a very talented wrestler up front. I found myself watching a tiny portion of Raw a few weeks ago just to watch a match she was in and then when she was no longer on-screen, I turned over because as far as I was concerned the best bit of the show was on and I did not want to watch anymore. It’s an absolute treat that someone from Britain is wrestling in the WWE big league’s right now and that it is someone as cool as well as talented as Paige is an extra bonus. She is easily one of the coolest wrestlers in quite a long time and also one of the best things about WWE right now.

Second Reason – AJ Lee

AJ Lee

The second reason to watch WWE is also Diva related and that is in the form of AJ Lee. My knowledge of AJ is varied at best as she was someone who just appeared alongside Daniel Bryan a couple of years ago, but there was something appealing about her character and since that point has become the company’s forerunning Diva. Much like Paige, everything about AJ works (minus the leather jacket because AJ does not wear one) and this includes actual wrestling Talent as well as other forms of in ring talent which includes the bizarre skipping routine which is quite cool for her character. AJ also has one of the best and most memorable wrestling themes of the moment, and not just in WWE. While I may not have much to say on her as I did with Paige, AJ Lee is still one of the most enjoyable things about WWE right now.

Third Reason – STING

Sting Champion

While I may have only been watching wrestling for the last 10 years, my brother has been a fan longer and I remember when he used to watch some of the videos he had, and one of the outstanding wrestlers on these shows was STING. This was during his stint in WCW, and through this period Sting was quite possibly their biggest star. After the closure of WCW though, Sting declined to join the company, but more recently Sting had made a comeback in TNA, and it brought back the real enjoyment of wrestling to me and I absolutely loved every minute of Stings time in the company. When it was recently announced that after so long, Sting would be appearing in WWE, I was happy. The great worry about Sting being in the WWE though is how he would be used, but I am confident that he won’t be used in either an uncomfortable way on the part of the wrestler and nor for the wrestling fans either. With Stings appointment in the company, this could be the turn around the WWE has been needing in terms of their product and it also opens possibility for the dream match that we would all like to see, Sting vs The Undertaker, and if anyone should have ended The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania, it should have been Sting. If it happens, it could quite easily be the match of the decade.

Sting

GENEPOOL (If you can find any more reasons for the above points or can think of more reasons to continue watching WWE other than these, or none of these or not to watch WWE at all, please leave a comment below).





Film News – Mockingjay and Seventh Son

16 09 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies - 2014)

It’s been a long time since I did some Film News but recently there has been some exciting developments in the film world regarding one of the most popular film series of the moment, a film that has had a greenlit sequel despite not being released in the UK yet and one film which has become one of the most annoying pieces of film news this year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate - 2014

At long last, well yesterday a trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 was finally released after months of waiting. Mockingjay Part 1 is of course the first part in the final part of The Hunger Games trilogy (Quadrilogy now) and is the movie adaptation of the final book in the series Mockingjay. It has been a long time for the trailer to be released as up till now there has only been a few teasers, but even then they were only a few months ago and it is surprising really that Lionsgate have waited this long to release the trailer when Catching Fire last year was released around about March/April time, not two months before the film is due for release. Having finally gotten round to reading the book earlier this year (it was 2012 when I read the first one) due to me being preoccupied with the incredible GONE series, I have been wondering how they were going to show the underground world of District 13 as well as how it was going to look and also wonder where the film would split in half. From watching the trailer I can see that the world has once again been beautifully crafted and from shots alone can see that once again the filmmakers have been true to the books. One thing though that I think works spectacularly is that of the appearance of Donald Sutherland in the trailer. One of the things I have enjoyed most about the series is the casting and acting of both Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Donald Sutherland as President Snow and with him in particular having another up front role in the trailer is an added bonus. The trailer though feels very minimalist with most acting pieces going to Snow and Katniss with bits from Peeta and Haymitch, but I suspect that more will be revealed as the release date approaches on November 20th 2014, with the UK getting to see it before the United States; I suppose it makes up for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Seventh Son (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

You may remember for some time now I have constant mentions to the film Seventh Son, an upcoming adaptation of the book; The Spook’s Apprentice (which I have also made constant mentions of and even reviewed) by Joseph Delaney. Initially put down for like a late 2013 release and then an early 2014 release with a trailer originally released around about August 2013, the film’s release was pushed back by an entire year due to Universal buying the release rights from Warner Bros. when Universal Studios stepped in as the co-produce and co-finance partner to Legendary Pictures and then deciding to push back the release date to roughly the same time, (give or take a month) one year later. Well, another trailer has been released……….with the date attached (February 6th 2015), so hopefully, we may finally get to see this film. The trailer discloses a lot more than the previous trailer did with still some sections of Comedy from Jeff Bridges (the film also stars Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander), however, much like the first trailer I still get the overall opinion of “I don’t remember that happening in the book” (much like the trailers for the recent film version of Noah as I have heard the real story of Noah). Despite that though some of the trailer looks true to the book and it is still 5 or 6 months until it gets released and so we’ll just have to wait and see. Expect Monsters, witches (not sure about Ninjas or Turtles) and Fantasy galore as Seventh Son (“HOPEFULLY”) gets released next year.

Which finally brings us on too, you guessed it……………………….Hellboy 3. No not really, the constant references to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles means that yes I am going to talk about a film that has already had a sequel confirmed for release in 2016 while annoyingly has not been released in the UK yet, and I don’t know why? This is the new live action adaptation of the popular series starring those loveable ninja turtles and their master rat. The film has been in development for a long time and all until roughly last year I was hoping it would be an animated sequel to the 2007 film TMNT. The film however is a live action film, and upon discovering this I have been sort of worried as to what it would look like, but thankfully Michael Bay was producing it. The film looks like it is in fact adopting the look and techniques that were used in producing the Awesome Transformers series and from what I can so far gather, looks really good. Trailers for the film have been hard to come by and have so far been only available on YouTube; there are however been some clips of the film too. From the looks of the film the film will be exploring the first time the turtles met reporter April O’Neil played by Megan Fox as they once again do battle with the villainous Shredder. The films cast include William Fichtner and Tohoru Masamune as the Shredder with Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard and Johnny Knoxville playing the role of the 4 turtles (confusing I know) and not forgetting Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub as Splinter (again, confusing). The film does look pretty impressive and I am very excited about finally getting to see this film when it gets released October 17th 2014 (10 days before Godzilla gets released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK), particularly to see how they are going to approach my Favourite turtle, Raphael. So let us finish there with this awesome clip from the new film, and also the best lift music you could possibly want to actually listen too.

And here’s the trailer.

GENEPOOL





Book Review – MICRO by Michael Crichton

10 09 2014

Micro by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins - 2011)

Title: Micro

Author: Michael Crichton, Richard Preston

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 000735007

There are many frontiers in the world today. Space is a possibility of course, but if you want to keep your feet on planet earth there are many regions you could explore. You could climb the highest mountain, dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean, cross vast inhospitable deserts or discover new landmasses just waiting to be discovered. But what about the areas of the world that we know about but are yet to truly discover? What if you could put yourself in a position to discover more of the world we already know? What if you could make discoveries about Insects on their level………just a thought.

Released in 2011, Micro is the final book by best-selling author Michael Crichton whose previous work includes Jurassic Park, Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain, Timeline and State of Fear. Crichton had begun writing Micro and had finished a third of the book by the time of his death in 2008. The book was discovered on his computer sometime later and Science Writer Richard Preston; the author of The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees (and the only person not to be a medical practitioner to receive the ‘Centers for Disease Control’s Champion of Prevention Award for public health‘) was asked to complete it. This does not mean in any way though that the book loses anything from the loss of Crichton as Preston has done an amazing job in keeping the writing style the same from the moment he picks it up till the very end. The book also features an introduction into the world the book explores written by Crichton himself but was also sadly unfinished.

Micro, much like many great books starts with an event which for the most part has characters which do not have a major story in the book but is a great way to lure the writer in. The event ends with three men dead in a locked Honolulu Office with razor-sharp cuts all over their bodies. In Cambridge, seven bright students are encouraged to visit Hawaii based start-up company Nanigen who are making increasing discoveries into the world of microbiology. Wanting to learn more the students go to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu where things begin to take a mysterious twist as a death at sea occurs with the presumed death of the company’s vice president who is also a relation of one of the students. The students begin to marvel at the how the company operates and make the discoveries, but when one student goes to talk about the incident out at sea, things take a dramatic twist as all seven students are instantly thrown into a world which is far beyond their wildest nightmares. It’s now a struggle for survival as the students have to contend with the cruel natural world and harness the abilities they each have as they struggle to survive in the rainforests of Hawaii and battle nature that only a few days ago was smaller than them.

I first spotted Micro a few months ago when I started reading Jurassic Park. Within a few chapters I wanted to read more work from Michael Crichton. When I spotted Micro, the first thing that drew me to it was the size and spacing of the letters, it had plenty and it was nice and big for me to read without causing too much strain, something that I find hard to avoid with smaller writing and spacing. The books cover also got my attention and when I read the blurb on the bag, it was a book I wanted to read, and read then. Several Months later I bought it and started reading. One thing I sometimes do is that when I read a the books blurb, I try to picture what the book might be about, and more often than not I get the right idea, but not in the right direction. When you see the word Micro on the books cover you know the book is going to be about something Small or tiny and over reading the first few chapters I was waiting to see what would happen but I thought it was going to be about Nanorobotics and Nanotechnology. By the end of Chapter Nine you discover what the book title really means and then you get more of a clear perspective of what is going to happen to a group of students whose main form of research is the study of Insects.

The book is written in the third person but does not break to move from the thoughts and actions of a single character but just does it. This at first can seem regularly annoying, but as the book keeps going and more and more characters start appearing and of course, disappearing, it becomes more part of the flow of the book. The only time the book does use breaks are the points the narrative changes location. One thing the book does which at first appears to be overlooked is the way the chapter beginnings are formatted, with the current Narrative Location as well as the time and date. This method is a terrific way to show the passage of time but also shows the progression of specific ailments that the characters begin to feel and suffer from as time goes on, something that the book continually reminds you of and makes you wonder how long the characters have left until the proverbial end. The book though is not quick and there is a real sense of real-time going through the entire story without much need for skipping except for moments of large amounts of time passing.

The books characters are a mixed bunch of good, bad, annoying and sinister. For the most part the book takes the narrative of one of the students with tiny points of narrative coming off of him here and there, this being the character of Peter Jansen. For the most part, the tertiary characters only have short points here and there with only little bits of introduction for each one but highly detailed sections of narrative for when they are the main spotlight, the secondary characters though are a main spotlight in the story throughout with characters like Rick Hutter and Karen King standing out and eventually taking top spot in the story. In terms of other major characters, the story focuses on those who are not in the group including the sinister head of Nanigen Vincent Drake, his Security chief and the interested policeman who begins to unravel the huge plot going on as things begin to get weirder and weirder. As the story goes on more and more characters are introduced but whose appearances are not major and usually don’t last, but a nice little twist is added later on. As for the other students, real characterization begins to unfold when you discover what they are actually like in the current situation with some becoming strong and fearless, while one of them just becomes plain annoying and is the kind of character who is mostly interested in his own survival and as a result the one member of the group you probably wouldn’t mind leaving behind.

One of Micro’s key points is that it is believable due to it being set in a real world location. If a book is set on a distant planet or in a different universe, a lot of imagination is required to make the story work, and if it is not done properly, it is easy to confuse the reader. Micro though, being set on Hawaii instantly rings through the head of the reader, even if they have not actually been there they can get an idea of where it is and a partial idea of what it might look like. It’s a lot like the setting and introduction to Jurassic Park where the introduction talks like an essay being written in the here and now but then talks about the company and location as if they’re real and this sets up the story for you. by putting the story in the real world it makes the story seem real as if something like what is happening in Micro could be happening right here and now without us even knowing it and this is one of the brilliant things you begin to realize when reading a book by Michael Crichton, and it’s that he has written something entirely fictional, but is also incredibly plausible at the same time.

That is one thing reason why Micro is so enjoyable, it’s believable, but on that point you get something else which is also a sort of key trademark of works by Michael Crichton in that the world and setting is so finely and minutely detailed in a way that is not boring. When you read Micro, there is a lot of gaps and moments of detail of the world that the characters are experiencing, moments where it talks about certain smells of the rainforest, and the types of species and relations to each other there in. Crichton details everything and talks about everything that the characters are dealing with from complex names of species to how venom and poison from insects work to even how well detailed creatures nests are to pheromones that creatures give off; and it’s not just prohibited to the insect world, but also the technological world with devices which as far as we know don’t currently exist but gives a detailed look into the experience such machines do. This level of detail may sound rather boring, but instead it is much the opposite, it’s incredibly interesting and while such moments may slow down elements of thrills or action, they are very much required in order for the player to experience the world that they are trying to engross when reading (there’s even a bibliography after the story showing points of reading that was undertaken in order to write the book).

Micro is an incredible book, one which I find possibly better than Jurassic Park as the story dives into a world that we can only dream of experiencing yet one that we see every day and it’s only thanks to the true visionary of author Michael Crichton that we get to both experience and enjoy it. While there are moments here and there of high levels of violence as well as moments that I found revolting in a very disgusting way when visualizing, it’s also a book of peril, thrills, action, discovery, corruption, love, romance, death and beauty and one that continues to push levels of discovery and hardship as the book continues and as a result becomes a read that you will find hard to put down.  While I find it sad that Michael Crichton sadly passed away before he could finish it, I do feel that Richard Preston has done an excellent job completing it. From Start to finish, Micro is one intense ride and one that is enjoyable from start to finish and is in itself a brilliant ending and a terrific tribute to the Amazing career of one of the world’s Best and Greatest writers.

GENEPOOL





Red Bamboo, Yellow Liquid And A Giant Lobster – Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep

3 09 2014

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1966)

Back when I was about 4 I remember the days when I would wake up in the morning, go downstairs and in the morning on Channel 4, they would be showing Godzilla films from the 60’s and 70’s, usually shown after a showing of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. The films that were shown which I can remember were Destroy all Monsters (which was also my favourite film for about 11 years), Godzilla vs Megalon and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Once they stopped doing this though I didn’t get to see a Godzilla film again until I was about 6/7 years old, and that film was Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.

WOW, Godzilla's shrunk.

While it may have only been the 7th in a series that now numbers 30 films (if you include 1998 and 2014), it is one of the films that I mostly fondly remember and one of my all-time favourites. Released in 1966 in Japan as Godzilla, Ebirah, Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas and released directly to TV in America as Godzilla versus The Sea Monster but better known today as either Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster or Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (or in most cases both, it really is a film released under different names), the film is Jun Fukuda’s first foray as Director in to the Godzilla series. It is also important to note however that this film was not originally intended to be a Godzilla film, rather a film starring King Kong, but Toho decided to switch him with Godzilla. King Kong would get a film later on in the form of King Kong Escapes. Because of this switch though, Godzilla is a bit different, not in look or ability, but characteristics which I will discuss later.

E3

The film begins with an old psychic woman trying to help a mother who has lost her son at sea. She believes that her son whose boat was destroyed and the wreckage found is still alive. Her son’s brother named Ryota Kane (Toru Watanabe) goes to the government but the police refuse to help. He goes to a newspaper but before he is asked further questions he leaves and goes to a rally dance competition in the hope of winning the luxury yacht, he is however three days late to enter. There he meets unlucky contestants Nita (Hideo Sunazuka) and Ichino (Choutarou Tougin). They take him to a nearby harbour to show him some boats and they trespass on board one and have a look around, before being spotted by the rifle totting owner Yoshimura (Akira Takarada). They try to explain their position to him stating that Ryota is a maniac and just wants to see boats, but he thinks they’re just generally weird but decides to let them sleep the night as long as they promise to disappear in the morning. Come the morning Yoshimura discovers that the three of them are still sleeping and that Ryota has broken his rifle and when all four of them go on deck, they notice that the boat is in the middle of the ocean. Ryota thinking that the boat is a gift from the gods decided to commandeer it knowing that Yoshimura knows nothing about boats and decided to search for his brother with it. Ryota refuses to turn the boat around and the other three of them have no choice but to continue to sail with him as they don’t know how to sail a boat. Nita and Ichino however have misgivings about the supposed owner after hearing about a bank robbery and the theft of a prominent Hollywood director’s prized yacht. One evening, all three of them decide to co-operate with Ryota in the hope of learning how to sail the boat, Ichino and Nita also notice that Yoshimura is making a Skeleton Key. Ryota then rushes down below to say that some very strange clouds are approaching. Now caught in a full on storm they are thrashed around like mad when they notice a Giant Claw rising out of the sea. They abandon the boat as the claw picks it up and breaks it.

E12

The group find themselves washed ashore on an unknown island. They soon discover a sword which makes them think that the island has cannibals on it. After a quick search they spot an incoming ship spraying yellow liquid but it does not notice their cries for help. They journey closer to the shore and spot what appears to be a heavily guarded military base. The ship pulls into the base’s harbour where the base’s guard commander Captain Ryuui (Akihiko Hirata, character is also known as Yamoto in the English Version) meets the ship’s captain (Hideyo Amamoto) who delivers Ryuui a new batch of slaves. Some of the slaves make a break for it and unnoticed by Captain Ryuui, a female slave also escapes. The other escapees manage to get in a boat and row off the island. But it is to no prevail as the Giant Claw from the previous night comes out of the water followed by another one. The escaped slaves are powerless to do anything as Ryota, Nita, Ichino and Yoshimura discover that the giant claw belongs to a Giant Lobster named Ebirah which then proceeds to eat the escaped slaves.

E5

The base’s commander (Jun Tazaki) tells Ryuui to send a patrol balloon to look for the escaped female Slave. The female Slave runs into the four primary antagonists but before they can exchange formal greetings, they are spotted by the balloon and are chased by the armed men, they narrowly escape however when they find a cliff in a rock face. The four men spot the woman praying and ask who she is. She calls herself Daiyo (Kumi Mizuno) and tells them that she came from Infant Island where the monster Mothra is currently sleeping. She says that the armed men are called The Red Bamboo and that they kidnapped her and her other tribe’s men. Thinking the best move to defend themselves; Yoshimura, Daiyo and Ryota plan to check out the Red Bamboo base, Nita and Ichino don’t want to go, but then discover that they are not alone in the cave when Nita spots what appears to be the body of Godzilla.

E7

They all manage to sneak in the base thanks to Yoshimura’s safe cracking skills and discover that the base is home to a Heavy Water factory (a place where Nuclear Bombs are made). After a continued search they are then discovered by Captain Ryuui, the five of them manage to make a quick escape but then when trying to leave the base, Ryota flies away on another Patrol Balloon and Nita is captured. Nita is placed in a cage with the other slaves who are made to produce the Yellow Liquid, the liquid being a repellent against Ebirah. Ryota meanwhile lands on Infant Island where he is re-acquainted with his lost brother Yata (Toru Ibuki). Yoshimura, Ichino and Daiyo however are back at the cave helpless to wait it out until The Red Bamboo finds them. Ichino though comes up with a plan to wake up Godzilla who is still alive but sleeping using electric shocks.

E2

Nita suggests that the slaves produce phony yellow liquid and Ryota and Yata are given instructions by Mothra’s twin fairies (Pair Bambi) and head back to the island. A storm comes however and they lose their own batch of yellow liquid. Ichino’s plan works and Godzilla awakens. Godzilla then discovers Ebirah and the two engage in Combat with Ebirah eventually fleeing. The following day, Ryota and Yata regroup with the others but are then pursued by the Red Bamboo. They all split up with Daiyo unknowingly running into within reach of Godzilla. The Red Bamboo turn back but Daiyo is helpless to the attention of Godzilla. Godzilla however falls asleep so Daiyo can escape but still warns Godzilla to the presence of a Giant Condor. Godzilla defeats the creature before taking on and destroying a squadron of Red Bamboo fighters. Godzilla then proceeds to attack the Base. The Red Bamboo is helpless to the attack and so set a Nuclear Bomb to go off. They then try to evacuate the island but Ebirah destroys their boat as the yellow liquid they are using is phony. Godzilla then arrives and has another round with Ebirah. Yata and Yoshimura rescue Nita and the other slaves who proceed to build a giant net as per Mothra’s fairies orders. Yoshimura, Yata and Ryota are unable to stop the bomb detonation and Mothra wakes up just in time to rescue them. Godzilla defeats Ebirah by ripping his claws off before noticing the arrival of Mothra. After a quick duel Mothra defeats Godzilla to a point so that Mothra can rescue the others. Godzilla now left alone on the island is shouted at by the others to run away, and sensing the island is about to go up leaves just in time as the island explodes. Godzilla returns to the ocean and Mothra takes everyone else back to Infant Island.

E11

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, while being one of the oldest film’s in the series is also one of the true classics as well but with a setting and story that is still significant to this day and age. The film’s main cast is an interesting bunch who play a definite assortment of people who mingle well but there are many who are better than others. Hideo Sunazuka’s character of Nita is obviously the fool of the group who of course proves his worth to the slaves by coming up with a plan to get revenge on the Red Bamboo, but his character is strangely likeable, which is more than can be said of Choutarou Tougin as Ichino. While he himself comes up with how to wake up Godzilla, apart from that he doesn’t seem to do much. There is another point of view to his character but that is mostly due to the English dubbed version where Nita is an overplayed fool and Ichino is the better one of the two, reverse that though to the original Japanese spoken version and Ichino doesn’t seem to have much to do with the film. Toru Watanabe is the main carrier of the main plot which is a simple idea; somebody loses something goes missing and goes looking for it. He is more of an underdog character trying to go to big lengths to achieve the almost impossible and has an attitude to boot, however his character does lose some of this charm when he finally finds his brother and it feels like the production team tried hard to include his brother as much as possible by side-lining Ryota from that moment on. Yata meanwhile is very much headstrong in his character and a bit of a fool in more clever way and is able to balance out Ryota by being his almost exact double in character and form, but I think he is a bit too single-minded and as such is unable to be enjoyed thoroughly. It is however when all these cast members including Akira Takarada and Kumi Mizuno are together, not by themselves that they are at their best as together they all carry an extremely good chemistry with one another despite the fact that for the most part they are complete strangers, and their differences are not what make them but what it is they are willing to go through together in order to survive on the desert island. So while they may not all work to the best of their abilities as a standalone character, together, they are incredible.

Nita, Ichino, Daiyo, Yoshimura and Ryota

It’s not just the main characters though, as those who only appear briefly have some charm or je ne sais quoi about them. The first scientist (Hisaya Ito), the one who starts the bomb (who I recognize from other classic Japanese Monster Movies) has a certain presence about him. While he may be a scientist he gives a real sense about him that he is willing and maybe also wanting to create nuclear weapons, he even shows this by threatening to set the bomb off much quicker when the slaves escape. Jun Tazaki’s commander character has real presence about how important he is and feels and this high in the ranks look about him helps him to achieve this. He is also very good at looking like both a respectable military man, but also a lazy general who is used to throwing his power and weight around. The ship’s captain who may only appear very briefly also has a similar look and feel about him. The slave that Nita meets played by Ikio Sawamura has a nice welcoming feel about him, but I find it odd that the peace-loving slaves find it so easy to be tempted into committing violence and possibly murder. Ikio Sawamura however has a nice father figure look about him by being the sort of voice of the slaves. Which brings us to Pair Bambi who Play Mothra’s Twin Fairies. The casting of Pair Bambi is of course different as it was The Peanuts who were cast in the role I think for every film which Mothra had been in previously. Pair Bambi though are a very good choice and thanks to the more updated technology that has been incorporated in the film, their appearance works well and is a lot more believable. They also have a more easily outgoing look about themselves whereas The Peanuts mostly had a grim expression on their face and hardly smiled. Pair Bambi have more of a look of understanding in the situation but don’t let that overtake them. The policeman and Newspaper journalists at the beginning of the film are also really good even if they are only seen then and there.

Pair Bambi

But the best of the cast (at least on the human side) are Kumi Mizuno, Akira Takarada and Akihiko Hirata. Kumi Mizuno’s character could be sought of more as eye candy and whose look could be more attributed to that of actors like Ursula Andress in Dr. No and Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. but her character is none of that as her character is more on the intelligence side as well as a person who shows an essence of hope while also telling the story of the slaves revealing what they are going to be put through and the desire to escape from that and what it can then achieve.

Kumi Mizuno

Akihiko Hirata is really the human villain of the film. While he is really under the command of another person, he is the seemingly better soldier. He is in many ways a hunter, he is out to get someone, this time round being the main cast, and he is relentless in this fact, he is like the oncoming storm, or the hunter who is sizing up his prey and will continue the pursuit until he has achieved this. His appearance is of course very military but is able to achieve a more sinister approach with his eye patch (and not the first time Hirata has worn an eye patch in a Godzilla film). But despite all this and how brutal he can be, he doesn’t let that more human side get the better of him and his military training and professionalism always stands out in front of the more human aggression that he wants to release. Throughout this film, at least on the human side, he is consistent in his role and thoroughly enjoyable.

Akihiko Hirata

Akira Takarada though carries the most character baggage as he has an entire sub plot resting on his shoulders. It is though through this that we get an interesting character which is first presented to us in both an unusual way but one that is also quite funny by instantly propping a gun up in front of the other three. While it may be odd to have a sub plot only referenced here and there, it is important though to have someone like this in the story as it is both his skills and his emotional baggage that both make people realize what he is but also allows him to come to terms with himself and what he has done and as such improve his outlook on life. He is in many respects the leader of the group while also being potentially dodgy but without his knowledge and skills, it’s doubtless that they would be able to survive. He is a very likeable character throughout and the inclusion of his story is a great narrative for the audience to both explore and think about but also work on comparison with the rest of the film.

Akira Takarada

Now with the humans out the way, let’s talk Monsters. While originally intended to be a King Kong film, the remaining effects of that to the monsters work well as it is genuinely nice to have something other than a city being crushed. While this does contain sudden surprises, this works out for the best. I am of course talking about The Giant Condor. Finding it somewhat odd that this creature is in here at all, but given the design of the island it gives a nice and surprise addition for Godzilla to fight as this one is more close up and brutal than to what Ebirah is able to achieve. Mothra meanwhile looks better thanks to the updates in technology than the last time Mothra appeared. There is however a lot of confusion as during the infant island scenes, close up she looks smaller than when the camera is further back and I kind of prefer it when the camera is further back as Mothra does genuinely look bigger and better. The fight it has with Godzilla is brutal much like that with the Condor but the fight had to be short and sweet for the film’s final tension to continue but Mothra’s inclusion into the film is a nice little touch in both Story and element.

Mothra - Ebirah

Ebirah is beautifully designed. While great care and attention has been made to make him look like a Lobster with his eyes and claws, attention has also been made to make him look like an abomination also, particularly in the rounded head and nose. His scream of terror is more like a giant screech through the air and while he may not have much in the way of firepower, on both looks alone he looks terrific and terrifying but also in the fight sequences he proves his worthy of a match against Godzilla. His early appearances though without Godzilla are equally terrific. When the Claw first appears you don’t know what it is or what it belongs to if anything and adds a nice sense of mystery for the audience and shows an initial sense of size and power. Even when we get a proper look at him the suspense and tension remains with his claws appearing before his full body. He is a great addition to the series, but he has so far been at his best (out of two appearances) in this film.

Ebirah

Godzilla meanwhile as stated earlier is a bit different in characteristics. He is a lot more like his original self as in while he still stands up for the earth, to protect it, he is almost back to his original self in the form of attacking people and things which he deems as a threat, including people and while he may now be an ally of Mothra, he still goes on to attack Mothra at the end. In many respects the film does not seemed to have changed from a King Kong film as there are sections which seem to be more in line with that including the plane attack, interaction with Daiyo and I think; The Condor. It does however give Godzilla a more monstrous and natural look about him and his character and shows how brutal he can get in a fight and little bits here and there such as his fight with Ebirah when he goes underwater or picks up a boulder and show detail such as the tail going up reminds us that he is at heart a creature, all be it still the force of nature that we all love.

"Morning".

His appearance in general is brilliant and there hasn’t been much of decay in his look, it’s actually one of his best looks in the series, and even when he is just in the cave asleep, he looks fantastic (as well as well camouflaged against the rocks). He has some absolutely amazing moments in the film and great shots of him which make great use of depicting his genuine size as well as raw strength and power. His fight scenes are terrific and even the shots of him asleep in the cave, are incredible and it makes his first true appearance, awake which while may be 50 minutes into the film is a terrific spectacle.

E9

One thing that does standout when you look back at films before this is the sudden update of technology. Toho are the masters at miniature effects, it is something they have both relied on and become masters of over the last 60 years. While this may be back as far as 1966, the level of detail has come on quite well when compared to previous films. Due to the non-city location of the film, more detail has been required to produce miniature effects. Now while there have been buildings and boats (with the Red Bamboo ship looking more like a pleasure cruiser than a battle ship), the miniature humans are nicely done and have some motion to them which makes me think they were done in a clockwork style. This level of effect does help to show size comparison to the monsters and it works. The only occasions that did not use monsters for similar effects are the use of close ups as well as shrinking of film into a scene particularly for the twin fairies but also include other scenes too. Set design has been given great care to look as realistic as possible with both outdoor and indoor sets working to their full potential, and I too get the idea that this film was produced mostly on location rather than in a studio, and it works brilliantly. The camera effects and shots are cleaner and crisper than previous films which did have a real sharp blur about them, but this one is nice and clean and if I may say so, better than HD today.

E1

The soundtrack is very odd I feel in comparison to other Godzilla films. It is not dark or mysterious in tone but more upbeat in almost every track. Theoretically it is a cross between beach music and mystery but there are pieces which give a sense that Masaru Sato, the film’s composer took inspiration from the works of Bond Composer John Barry as the music is very much secret agent like music with some moments that are more like the 1960’s Batman series. Reading that you may think that makes the music rather silly, it doesn’t; the films track is very enjoyable. Ebirah’s theme is quite groovy and works well by giving a sense of oncoming mystery followed by terror at the sight of what can be currently seen, this is achieved with the use of traditional orchestral forms but with a clever use of a bass guitar, or possibly a normal electric guitar, I’m not sure, but it’s one of the two.

While the Composer himself has also created other forms of music for the film so not completely relying on one set theme, it is through these more creative styles where the soundtrack is at its best. When it’s either the Dance Rally music, or even the main chase music has an upbeat take on it, but really drives the suspense and tension so it can be both enjoyed and have the right effect, but also, be very memorable at the same time and it is for that reason along with the other pieces for the soundtrack that makes it work for this film, and I think it’s generally, genuinely nice.

While mainly at heart the film is more about the human interaction and chemistry between the main characters as well as a sort of theme of dealing with your actions particularly on the part of Akira Takarada’s character and a tiny sense of the construction of Nuclear Weapons, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is an incredible film and one of the best entries in the series, no doubt. While the cast needs to rely on being together; teamwork, it is a nice theme that works well on their part. And while it may take time for the Monsters to really start meeting each other, the time they have separately as well as their position in the film works well for them and it’s through this time period that we introduced to them and allow for build up to their fights and main inclusion to the film. While the essence of King Kong is present, I do think Toho made the right decision in the changes they did, otherwise, the film may have been completely different and I really think that appointing Jun Fukuda to direct was a great start as otherwise the soundtrack and special effects may not have been the same either. Overall Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is both a great Monster Movie and a great Adventure film too with real moments of surprise, mystery, tension and terror along with great scenes involving the Monsters themselves and while this film may be almost 50 years old now, I still love it to this day as I did when I first saw it all those years ago.

GENEPOOL





He Makes The Weapons, I Use Them – Blade

27 08 2014

Blade 1998 2

Since about 2007 when I watched Blade: The Series on the now defunct UK channel Bravo, I have had a long and fascinated interest in the Marvel Comics character Blade, however it is the kind of interest that doesn’t involve reading the comics as I would have no idea where to start. My interest though has always been on-going. I like the idea of him; I like the badass actions and look of him as well as his more lone wolf nature. He is all round a fantastic character. The kind of guy who would go into a situation without any planning and armed to the teeth with weapons and would make his presence known either silently or more likely by punching the first guy he sees. Despite this interest though, the one thing that has eluded me are the films. I have not had much opportunity to watch them as they are not shown on television all that often and for several years the only one I had been able to see was Blade Trinity, until very recently.

B10

Released in 1998 and directed by Stephen Norrington, the film follows the on-going battle between Humans and Vampires from the perspective of the title character. The film begins in a flashback dating 1967 where a pregnant woman who is bleeding from the neck dies as her son is delivered by C-Section. Flash-forward to a modern underground day party scene where a seemingly ordinary young man is taken to, but gets treated very differently before being drenched in blood and attacked by the party goers who turn out to be Vampires. When trying to escape he encounters a man dressed head to toe in leather and covered in a lot of shiny things, all the vampires begin to separate upon realising who it is and call him Blade (Wesley Snipes). They attack him, but are quickly dispatched by this strange new man who possess a strong array of weapons as well as athleticism and strength fighting another vampire named Quinn (Donal Logue) before setting him on fire. Blade leaves the area as the police arrive and the charred remains of Quinn arrive at a city morgue. At the morgue Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) is shown a blood sample from the body, goes down to inspect it and is then attacked by the seemingly dead person who bites her throat. Blade arrives to finish him off but is attacked by the hospital Guards. He takes Karen away from the building and takes her to his hideout where his mentor and weapon smith Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) states that Blade should have killed her and injects her with Garlic.

B7

In a board room, a group of vampires are discussing the problems that Blade is giving them before calling upon a vampire named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) who is stirring up trouble within the ranks. Karen wakes up and discovers Whistler injecting Blade with a Serum. She tries to escape but is confronted by Whistler and Blade. They let her go but she is told to get out of the city as soon as possible. On her way back to her apartment, she is attacked by a Cop but is rescued by Blade. She stays with Blade wanting to know what is going on and crash a Vampire Club. Blade and Karen discover some articles and documents which show that Frost is looking for something. They are then both attacked by a healing Quinn and his men. With some help from Whistler, they manage to escape. Karen is informed by Whistler that Blade is a Vampire, but not like the rest. He is a Daywalker, a vampire hybrid who can walk around in sunlight. He shares all their strengths, and none of their weaknesses except the thirst. He therefore uses a serum to survive, but his body has begun to reject it and needs a new one. Out on a beach somewhere, Frost, Quinn and Frost’s supposed lover Mercury (Arly Jover) kill vampire elder Gitano Dragonetti (Udo Kier) by exposing him to sunlight.

B1

Back at the hideout Blade shows Whistler a segment of ancient Vampire Texts which Frost was looking for which says something by an ancient Bloodgod called La Magra. Karen discovers she is slowly turning into a vampire and creates a cure for herself. She also discovers that the anticoagulant EDTA causes Vampire Blood to explode. Blade encounters Frost during the day that has covered his skin in Sun Cream to avoid the exposure to sunlight. He offers Blade a truce but Blade refuses it. Frost’s men then invade the hideout injuring Whistler and taking Karen prisoner. Blade finds Whistler and gives him his gun so Whistler can kill himself. Blade attacks Frost’s men before discovering Vanessa (Sanaa Lathan), his mother. She says that Frost was the one who bit her. Blade is then captured.

B9

Blade and Karen are taken to an underground temple called the Temple of Eternal Night. There, Frost plans to turn himself into the Bloodgod. They trap Blade who is now weak after thirteen hours without his serum into a sarcophagus which drains him of his blood. Karen is put down a hole where her ex-colleague (Tim Guinee) has become an animalistic Vampire, and Mercury sets out the other Vampire Leaders in a circle formation underneath the room the sarcophagus is in. Karen escapes from the pit and rescues Blade who is dying, she feeds him her blood which give Blade the animalistic strength to fight the Vampires. Frost, through the sacrifice becomes La Magra. Bade kills Vanessa before wiping out Frost’s Men. Karen manages to get a shotgun and kills Mercury with a vampire spray Whistler gave her earlier. Blade encounters Frost who has seemingly become invincible thanks to his new powers, but Blade uses the EDTA to cause Frost to explode. Blade and Karen leave the temple and Blade asks her to create him a new Serum. The film then finishes with Blade dealing with a vampire in Moscow.

B3

Blade is unlike other Superhero or Comic Book films as in the character is more of a vigilante possibly on par with anti-hero, sort of like Snake Plissken. But because it’s not your ordinary run of the mill comic book movie and more of a realistic action movie (all be it with vampires), it makes the film more appealing to other audiences instead of just the comic book goers and as a result is able to reach a more widespread audience but does not contradict or contravene the main character. Blade is still Blade but the setting is made out to be more in times with the modern world and as such connects more with the audience instead of a setting that would need more explaining for the audience to understand.

B6

The films main cast is sort of made of on and off characters; hit and misses, some which could have had more time on-screen and others who are just that little bit annoying. Quinn plays the part of a henchman who thinks of himself as being quite cool but is actually the modern fool (tongue twister) and find his constant appearances rather annoying and find it rather pleasing that he is the first to be killed by Blade in the Final Fight. I don’t think Udo Kier gets enough time on-screen as his character needs more initial explaining along with his actual place in both the world and film. Racquel (Traci Lords) is supposedly given a main role but only really appears in the first act and is hardly seen again, if at all, Pearl (Eric Edwards) the librarian is very grotesque but the identity of the creature is not shown and you are at a loss trying to understand what it is, Officer Krieger (Kevin Patrick Walls); the cop familiar that attacks Karen, is a rotter at best, but his place in the film is not really needed other than for Karen to begin working with Blade, It is sort of bit coincidental and predictable that Karen runs into her ex-colleague, and Vanessa; Blade’s Mother now vampire has no real proper on-screen time for the shock to Blade become really apparent nor the mystery of where she has been all these years and her character is all round pointless except for maybe Frost having a tool to capture Blade with.

Donal Logue, Udo Kier, Traci Lords, Tim Guinee, Eric Edwards and Sanaa Lathan

Despite this though the film has some really good cast. Stephen Dorff is a real rotten character. He is obviously the main film’s villain but instead of being the over the top Dracula or Darth Vader type, he is the casual party goer who enjoys women and drinking. His persona as a right rotter and an egotistical maniac is played well (even if his accent makes him sound like Denis Leary in Demolition Man) and thinks very much about himself and his plans and has that want to be the top dog despite his position in the vampire world. He is however a very clever person also and obviously knows what he is doing and it’s only through those who work for him and the threat of Blade that they fail to work out. I do feel that N’Bushe Wright is somewhat out-of-place in this film. She plays the part of the unsuspecting public and as such the audience connection and introduction to the film, but I partly feel that she was chosen more to be in a glamour role or a possible love interest to Blade instead of the unbelieving witness and doctor role that her character is seemingly supposed to be. However despite that though, she is a very good character. The way she looks, acts and dresses is enough for Blade not to feel out-of-place with him covered in leather, and she wearing a trench coat like leather jacket. She is also very no-nonsense much like Blade and the way her character changes from unsuspecting witness to the films secondary hero makes her fit right into place especially with Blade showing a level of respect and trust in her at the very end of the film. Kris Kristofferson is the perfect associate/partner for Blade as in he is a lot like him and they both talk to each other in the same manner and form. He is also a lot like a father figure for Blade and shows a lot of care for him, treating him and giving him his serum as a result, but he is also very much a teacher and while he is as badass as Blade, his outer exterior and persona is that of a more calming position with everyone and is less likely to start a fight as a result and is more the talking kind.

Stephen Dorff, N'Bushe Wright and Kris Kristofferson

I am really drawn to the character of Mercury. I don’t think she gets the on-screen time that she deserves. She is in some respects the female version of Blade towards the end wielding his sword, but she is also a lot like Frost in character but gives a high level of blood lust in her role and as such is more of a warrior and animal in her nature, but her main exterior and persona works in tandem well with Frost which allows the two to have a real connection that is also realistic. While it is almost half-way into the film before she makes a proper appearance and becomes part of the main cast, her part is very enjoyable throughout and while Blade has Karen as his sort of assistant, Mercury is the opposite to this, but starts of bad and remains that way.

Arly Jover

The real star though is of course Wesley Snipes in the title role. Wesley Snipes in many respects is Blade; he is not playing it rather than actually being him. He shows no real emotion and is single-minded on the main task. Even when Whistler dies he just walks away and keeps his mind on the main task in hand. He does show some redeeming feature of this though when talking about his mother and the life he could have had, but he represents this through anger possibly showing that he has moved on from this, but it still plays on his mind. Blade’s athleticism and martial Arts skill and strength work very much in tandem with Snipes own personal Martial Arts training in Shotokan Karate and Hapkido. His use of his weapons is very much in the up close and personal style with him preferring to use his own body and weapons such as his sword which need him to be more close to the target. He still however still uses his firearms in a big way but also uses more traditional methods of armed combat with such tools as his Glaive and Sword more frequently instead of firearms. His connection to the vampire world is of course explored for the benefit of the audience but the film does not waffle on these points and instead explains these points in relatively short terms.

B5

The film’s soundtrack mostly comprises of hip hop, and electro music but has parts in it where the soundtrack is more mysterious to allow some tension for the scene exploring Blade as well as moments of fighting and explanation so that the right feel of tension and thrills can be given.

Blade though is at essence an Action Film, and with action comes violence, and Blade is a very Violent Film. The film though I wouldn’t consider as blood thirsty. There is a lot of blood in the film with scenes of body popping and explosions which in turn creates blood splatter, but generally it is not a film that thrives on it and uses Blood more for the showing of how violent the film is. I like to think of it more in relation to The Raid. It is very action packed and graphical in its violence (but not as much as how detailed The Raid was) but the violence is necessary for the action to work as the action comes from the characters, not the world around them. The film though is rather grotesque with moments of really disgusting things happening and disgusting creatures with the most disgusting scene happening at the end with the death of Frost. And on top of that you have more unnerving scenes such as the moment when Quinn arrives burned in the morgue.

B4

Blade is all together an extremely enjoyable action movie which while being a comic book/super hero movie, does more than that and instead of being goofy or silly in its design (like Batman Forever) does a really terrific job of setting itself in the real world allowing the audience to connect and understand it more without large pieces of explanation required. The film’s cast is a mixed bunch, but those who play their parts well are thoroughly enjoyable and while there is a lot of blood and unnerving/disgusting scenes, this does not stop the film from being enjoyable and in respects gives it the supernatural look the film is trying to represent. Altogether, thoroughly brilliant and it will make you thirst for more, much like it has for me.

GENEPOOL








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers

%d bloggers like this: