Steel Heroes or Monsters (Part 2) – Pacific Rim

5 08 2013

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

One of the more standout features of Pacific Rim was the Special Effects in the CGI department. For many years I have consistently stated that Jurassic Park had the best Special Effects to date, even after Avatar was released. But now, for me anyway that has changed to Pacific Rim. Pretty much all of the Robot and Monster Scenes were CGI except for patches where it was more on a level with the human cast. The effects are most apparent in the Hong Kong fight. The effects used for the Giant Stars were not clumpy in their look or movement, they looked real and had a more fluid motion in what they did, be it punching or throwing or something else. The movement was most fluid though for the Kaiju as they are a more organic life form and when they moved it looked more like an animal than a big robot.  The lighting also worked brilliantly with light not only bouncing off the Iron/Steel Jaegers, but also off the rain. The fire and water effects were lovely altogether even if the scene took place underwater, you could see what was going on clearly in a dark setting but it did not just look like some kind of blank void.

PR9

When I went to see Pacific Rim, I went to see it in 3D. At first I was unsure of seeing it in 3D at first given my past experience with 3D films. I have previously seen a couple of films in 3D since this sort of new wave of 3D films. One was Up which featured two noticeable scenes where 3D was used and the other was the new Clash of the Titans where the only bit of 3D was in the trailers. When I went to see Pacific Rim however, the 3D effects actually worked. In this case though, there were almost no scenes that didn’t have a piece of 3D about it. From the start of the film where stars are moving around past your eyes, to points part way through when you could see a blue monster brain at the corner of your eye, and it felt like it was right next to you. While 3D does seem to be diminishing, Pacific Rim shows that it can be done properly and effectively providing that the production team work to do it effectively. Current 3D presentation at best is when it is a frequent occurrence in a film and not just every (Unnoticeable) now and again as well as pulling off the right effect.

PR10

A great lot of work has gone into the detail of the films main point, the Giant Robots. Shortly before the film’s release, Legendary released a couple of videos showing off how the team went on about designing both the Kaiju and the Jaegers. The Jaegers do have a look about them which is reminiscent of the machines seen in Japanese Anime but are not copies of them. To me, the designs look a lot like the Megazords from Power Rangers and Super Sentei as they do have a human look to them. A surprising amount of detail has also been added to the smaller parts of the machines as well. It’s as if the producers of the films designed manuals for each machine as if they were actually built. The design of each Jaeger also have a sense of steam punk about them as they do look very industrialized while also showing off some connection with the country they come from. The American machine (Gipsy Danger) is very tall but does not look lumbering and is clearly designed for good old hand to hand combat, something it shares with the Australian Jaeger (Striker Eureka) while the Chinese Jaeger (Crimson Typhoon) on the other hand is more like a lumbering brute but has a martial arts sense about it with its combat style, spinning blades and its three arm advantage and one eye look makes it look menacing. The Russian machine (Cherno Alpha) meanwhile is an ancient machine and looks the part; this in turn is represented by its style which looks more like it was designed for defence first with its big head and then attack second with the idea that strength is everything.

PR14

The Kaiju in comparison are more animal like. The Kaiju have many traits about them which relate to those of animals in the real world. One of the early Kaijus looks like a Crocodile as well as a Goblin Shark, while the big bruisers later in the film are more like Gorillas while keeping a reptilian appearance. This gives the big monsters their own independent look instead of just randomly produced or just the same creature over and over again. When designing the Kaiju monsters, the production team tried to make their appearance similar to those of Japanese Kaiju films with the idea being that you have to imagine a man being inside the creature, like a Monster suit. This is achieved brilliantly and makes the fight scenes, while completely CGI, more fluid in their fighting and more believable as result. The slightly humanistic look of their fighting styles also raises tension due to the uniqueness of it and less animal like which is more random. The more animalistic part of the Kaiju comes into it when they are moving about and stomping/crushing on buildings. Like the Jaegers, the Kaiju have had a lot of detail done to them on the smaller scale to including scales, the hands, wings, legs and arms and even more so to the face which includes emotions. It is also not the design of the creatures that have subtle hints towards Japanese Kaiju films, but also in the Kaiju theories. The Kaiju in the film are rated in categories depending on their overall size and power. This category system is named the Serizawa Scale which is a nice little tribute to the original Godzilla film as one of the characters in the film was named Serizawa. I think that’s quite nice.

You may be thinking that with this level of detail for the monsters and robots that the human may have been shunned to one side in production. Well they haven’t, a lot of detail has been put into the human part with elements of Monster religion as well as other things. The main bridge for this is through the use of the Kaiju Black-market which also introduces these other elements as well as show off smaller elements about the Kaiju.

PR12

Pacific Rim’s soundtrack (Produced by Ramin Djawadi) is one of the standout points for me personally. The soundtrack has a nice range of themes for such an epic scaled film with pieces that are best used when they are in a large open space to show the size and scale. The soundtrack though gets better on the human point of view when the Jaegers are in shot. The film’s main theme is used a lot when Gipsy Danger is in shot. it comprises of lots of brass sections with some electric guitars and gives a hero element to the machines, it shows that they are not just weapons, they are heroes. It’s just like if Superman or Batman were to arrive on scene, you know that things are a bout to change in the face of conflict, you feel safe and secure; something that the main theme for Pacific Rim does well.

The best part of the soundtrack though is when the Kaiju are in the foreground. When you see the monsters, particularly during the Hong Kong scene the soundtrack gives out a loud low note or element. It is the kind of sound produced by heavy brass sections of an orchestra and traditional Asian drums. The soundtrack in this instance sounds a lot like a Japanese Kaiju film. In professional wrestling there is a wrestler known as The Undertaker who has a very familiar entrance where the bongs of a bell can be heard before he makes his appearance. It is the same here but with a more traditional Asian feel. It’s the entrance of the Kaiju if you will, it gives them their own unique soundtrack from the rest of the film, and it feels amazing. It brought back moments for me of Monster films like The Host when the monster surfaces for the first time. But more than that, it felt a lot like a Godzilla film. Instead of just making a run of the mill Monster Movie, it showed the commitment and passion needed into making a Good Monster Movie.

Pacific Rim also did something extra special which is not done as regularly as it should be done in Cinema. Many films these days have an extra scene in the credits, a spoiler for a sequel usually or maybe just a funny extra scene. Pacific Rim however did not do this, it did something extra special. It had a dedication, a dedication to two of cinemas greatest film makers. The Late Great’s Ray Harryhausen and Ishirō Honda. That is something which does not happen a lot these days which is a real shame, they appear not to take time to say thank you to those who have helped to shape and build cinema by doing things that captured the eyes of those that they entertained. Ray Harryhausen is of course the Special Effects master who produced many Monster Movies including The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the original Clash of the Titans. Ishirō Honda (my Favourite Director) is the man who produced many Japanese Kaiju films with films like Atragon and Mothra but was best known for his work in the Godzilla film series as the director of 8 films in the series including the original 1954 film. Pacific Rim is a fitting tribute to the careers of these two Amazing people.

Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda

Pacific Rim is an Amazing film. I am so pleased that Travis Beacham proposed the film in the first place and that Guillermo del Toro joined the project, because if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have had this Amazing film. Films of this scale and size are rarely produced these days, which is a real shame, because they are absolutely incredible. But Pacific Rim does show films like these and Monster Movies in particular still have the power to WOW audiences of all ages and can adapt without losing their integrity. It is now less than a year to go until Legendary Pictures release their new Godzilla film, so while we wait for that, we have another Amazing Monster Movie to enjoy here and now. Pacific Rim is the best film so far this decade.

GENEPOOL (Pacific Rim is practically perfect, there is only one thing that the film is missing).





Steel Heroes or Monsters (Part 1) – Pacific Rim

29 07 2013

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

It has been consistently evident in Monster Movies that the human race is powerless in attacking Giant Monsters. If you take a look at any Godzilla film (except for the obvious one) that Tanks, Planes and even weapons in general come off second best against the monsters. It is more likely that Tanks will be crushed or in some cases melted against the might of the monsters. In many cases outside the Godzilla series, more ingenious methods have had to be employed in order to achieve victory. Some examples of this include Atomic Isotopes (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Freeze technology (Atragon) and even traffic poles (The Host). One of the more suitable options though would be to build weapons as big and as powerful as the monsters. However, though this idea has not really been implemented as often as you’d think (Except for 5 Godzilla films and 1 King Kong film). However that may change as Pacific Rim does that, and it seems to work very effectively.

PR2

I have known about Pacific Rim as a film for well over a year now, but my discovery of it was mostly by accident as I was looking up the actor Idris Elba. After reading up on the idea, I was hooked but it was not until this past December when the first trailer was released just before the End of the World. The trailer looked Amazing, the scale, the beauty, the machines and the monsters. Every now and again I would watch the trailer again and again until the next trailer was released. As the film approached its big release, more and more stuff was announced, then it came to a point when I saw the film on opening night, in 3D, and the first thing I want to say after you have read that is that this is the first, proper good new wave 3D film. But I also want to say this; Pacific Rim is the best film so far this decade.

PR3 (Not the first time that the Sydney Opera House has been attacked by a Giant Monster).

The film does not waste any time getting into the main plot and opens with an introduction from the films lead character Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) describing what has happened in recent years. The monsters called Kaiju came from a large portal called breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The first Kaiju appeared in San Francisco and it took 3 days to kill it. But a few months later another one shows up. In response weapons are built to combat the colossal creatures, Giant Robots called Jaegers, giant robotic fighting machines, and eventually the human race starts winning. Raleigh Becket is a co-pilot of one of these machines as the neural processes required to use the machines cannot be done solo. He is dispatched to fight a Kaiju in Alaska in his machine Gipsy Danger. However things don’t work out, he loses his co-pilot (also his brother) and beaches his Jaeger in Alaska. Five years later faith in the Jaegers is starting to dwindle due the experience of the Kaiju with the machines gets better and so a Wall is being built to protect humanity instead. Becket works on a section of the wall when Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who runs the Jaeger Program asks him to return to active duty.

PR4

The Jaeger program and all remaining Jaegers are moved to Hong Kong which has no current Wall section. In Sydney a Kaiju attacks and breaks through the wall in one hour. The creature is subdued by one of the best Jaegers despite it being moved to Hong Kong. Becket is introduced to Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who is in charge of putting Gipsy Danger back together after what happened. Pentecost has a plan to destroy the rift that the Kaiju use with an “Acquired” nuclear weapon. The only problem for Gipsy Danger is that it needs a co-pilot. Mako really wants to do it but Pentecost does not allow her. While Becket tries to find someone to be his pilot, one of two scientists named Newton (Charlie Day) links up his brain like the drift for the Jaegers with a Kaiju brain to try and work them out. While this angers his colleague; Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) it is somewhat successful. After a lengthy process, Pentecost allows Mako to co-pilot Gipsy Danger and the start-up test sequence for Gipsy Danger appears to go well until one of Mako’s memories goes haywire and almost destroys the base. Gipsy Danger is grounded for the time being.

PR5

Newton goes into Hong Kong looking for the head of the Kaiju Black-market, Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman) to try and get another Kaiju Brain. All of a sudden, two Kaiju appear to attack Hong Kong. The Chinese and Russian Jaegers are put into action with the better Australian Jaeger put on defence of the city as it is vital to the plan to destroy the rift. Very quickly both the Chinese and Russian Jaegers are knocked out and the Australian machine goes into action only to be disabled. Gipsy Danger is deployed while  Newton goes into a shelter only for the Kaiju to find him thanks to the connection he made with a Kaiju Brain. Gipsy Danger is successful in defeating both Kaiju and Becket and Mako are cheered as heroes. In Hong Kong, Newton and Gottlieb manage to get inside the Kaiju brain and learn more about it and how the plan to destroy the breach needs to happen in order for it to work. Before they can properly relay the information, the plan goes into action with only Gipsy Danger and the Australian Machine. When they arrive at the breach they are attacked by two Kaiju and an even larger Kaiju. The Australian machine sacrifices itself to allow Gipsy Danger to get inside the breach unopposed. Newton and Gottlieb relay the information for the plan to work properly. This is achieved and Gipsy Danger falls through the rift allowing Beckett to set off the nuclear reactor powering the machine to destroy the rift. He along with Mako manage to escape from the machine before the explosion goes off.

PR6

The film is of an epic scale that you just don’t see with many films these days. The size of the content and setting plus the story is huge to say the least and it is all brought together by Legendary Director Guillermo del Toro. He has built an incredible world of Monsters and Robots while also keeping it altogether and not exploding into one big mess. The film contains traits of great monster movies from the past while also doing something completely original also. The film’s special effects also work alongside his artistic style of film making. The amount of detail that has been made for just this one film shows his passion for both cinema and the Monster Movie Genre. Not only would it be interesting to see a sequel to this film, but also see him direct another Monster Movie.

PR7 - Guillermo del Toro

The film’ cast are an interesting point. In the past, when it comes to mainly American Monster Movies, notable actors of the time would be asked to appear but the acting would be moderate at best with most of the fame and attention going to the monster and little to the personal lives of the films characters. Pacific Rim does not do a reversal of this but more includes them on a more even standing with the monsters. Like the old American films, notable cast members are included in the film such as Idris Elba (The Wire, Prometheus and Luther), Charlie Hunnam (Cold Mountain and Sons of Anarchy), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Blade II and Hellboy) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel and the upcoming 47 Ronin).

Ron Perlman, CHarlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba

Beckett is someone who is trying to live with the consequences of bad choices made as his time as a pilot, while Mako is trying to distance herself from a horrible memory, one that almost causes chaos. The drift mechanism is a great way to introduce and show characters their personal lives as one thing could expose a horrible past. Pentecost is an amazing leader who is trying desperately to protect Mako, the reason why is later revealed but is trying to do this in a not so strict way becoming her adoptive father, but deep down he too is trying to hide something, he also presents one of the film’s best lines. The other main pilot characters are a nice mix also but it is interesting to see how the Australian pilots almost act like tough, rough Americans but this adds to the tension one poses between him and Becket. While many of the other pilots are pretty much silent throughout the film, they do show their personalities from several different ways including how they walk as well as fight. Newton (who to me looks like J.J. Abrams) and Gottlieb are a couple of stereotypical science nerds who bring a lot of humour to the film but are also an integral part also and not complete jokes. Hannibal Chau is one of my Favourite characters overall. While he holds the stance of a crime lord, Perlman plays the character in a similar style to Hellboy (Directed by Pacific Rim Director Guillermo del Toro) without becoming Hellboy. His scenes offer a sense of humour about them but also allow time to be serious.

Hannibal Chau and Newton

Returning to Mako briefly, her character begins almost like a scientific receptionist but turns into a warrior after she begins to pilot the Jaeger, much like someone growing up, you grow up with her as the film progresses and she becomes one of the best characters in the film. Her flashback scene contains a lot of emotion in her and it is a scary scene and you feel for her during it. While she is younger at the time, the young actress (Mana Ashida) is amazing and shows real human emotion, not just fake screaming or anything of that sort, but actual terror and fear.

Mako

The sets are brilliantly designed with a large amount of scale and size depending on where things are. One of the most detailed set features is the cockpits for the Jaegers which have a lot of similarity in them which show how the machines became standardized in construction techniques over time, but each separate identity of Jaeger has its own independent features. Also when the Jaegers experienced issues inside the control room, you would see the flames and water gushing all over the place and in some cases you would feel the shaking about thanks to clever use of the camera work.

PR8

GENEPOOL (Click Here for Part 2).





The Tortoise And The Bird – Gamera: Guardian Of The Universe

10 06 2013

GGOTU1

In 1954, a Japanese film studio released a film that would change cinema. It would inspire many around the world and today its name still resonates through the minds of people all around the world. The film was called Gojira, later Americanised to Godzilla. The huge successes of the film led the film studio to create an entire series of Monster Movies starring the film’s central character. In 1965 a challenger to Godzilla’s throne emerged in the form of a Giant Turtle named Gamera. While he too would become a hit in Japan, particularly with children, he was not able to upset Godzilla’s position in the slightest. 30 Years later though (15 years after the last film); Gamera re-emerged in a film of truly magnificent proportions.

“Gamera finally has a film to rival Godzilla” – Popcorn Pictures

The above statement rings true on practically all levels throughout the film. The special effects, the soundtrack, the acting, the direction and most importantly, the story. Directed by Shusuke Kaneko (who later directed The Best Film In The World), this film is not just any Monster Movie, It is one of the Best Monster Movies as well as the first film in an incredible Trilogy.

Gamera Heisei 2

The film opens up with a tanker and patrol boat out at sea, the tanker reports running aground. After a quick inspection it turns out that it has been run aground on an atoll, which is moving. An inspection into the incident begins lead by Naoya Kusanagi (Akira Onodera) along with marine officer Yoshinari Yonemori (Tsuyoshi Ihara who would later star in 13 Assassins). Meanwhile on an island in the Goto Archipelago, a fisherman and a cop are running from some unknown attacker, they try to get off the island but are both unlucky. Ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) is called to the island by a police Inspector Osako (Yukijiro Hotaru) after he received a call from someone from the island stating he was attacked by a Giant Bird. After a brief look at the damage, Nagamine believes the damage is of a man-made origin, this is however until a Giant Bird pellet is discovered and inside it contains an item belonging to a scientist friend of hers. After a brief search of the island the bird creature appears and looks more like a pterodactyl. It attacks and eats people on another island close by before being chased back to its own island by the air force, it is here that it is also revealed that there is more than one. A plan is put in motion to capture the creatures.

GGOTU4

After an in-depth search, the atoll is found and is investigated. On the surface, several strange beads are discovered as well as a giant slab with some markings on it. After a closer inspection, the slab collapses and the atoll breaks apart. Several of the investigators fall into the water, including Yonemori, who sees a huge eye and tusk while underwater. Back in Fukuoka the plan to capture the birds begins. The birds are guided to the Fukuoka dome where they will be trapped by the closing roof and tranquilized. The plan is initially successful, however Yonemori turns up and reports that a 60 meter long creature is approaching the city, but no-one takes much notice. The plan is initially successful with two of the birds getting captured, the other one escapes towards the harbour before being destroyed by a Giant Turtle. The new monster goes on the rampage (not the only time in 1995 that Fukuoka was attacked) in the direction of the dome, when it reaches it, the two bird creatures manage to escape before they can be destroyed. The new monster ignites its jet boosters and flies off into the sky in pursuit.

GGOTU3 (The film is not in Black and White, it's just that this is a Good Picture)

Back at his house, Kusanagi reveals to Yonemori and his daughter Asagi (Ayako Fujitani) that the inscription on the slab reveals the names of the two monsters, the bird like creatures are called Gyaos and the Giant Turtle is named Gamera. Yonemori then gives Asagi one of the beads discovered on the atoll as a gift, which begins to glow in her hands. Kusanagi, Nagamine and Yonemori are called to an area of Kiso Mountain where a small village is being attacked by one of the Gyaos. Nagamine tries to rescue a little boy but collapses on a bridge, Yonemori goes to rescue them both while a Gyaos bird targets them as its next meal. Gamera then arrives and destroys the Gyaos. Another Gyaos then shows up and attacks the bridge, but Gamera places his hand over the group and gets his hand injured protecting them, he then flies off in pursuit of Gyaos.

GGOTU6

Asagi learns that Gamera is in the Area of Mount Fuji and goes to find him while nursing a strange wound on her hand. The army approach Gamera in preparation to attack and the attack begins just as Asagi arrives to watch. Gamera is then attacked by Gyaos and receives a mortal wound on his arm, at the same time that Asagi receives one too. Gamera manages to fly away. At a hospital later that night Kusanagi arrives to see his daughter who immediately falls asleep.

GGOTU5

Nagamine and Yonemori discover that the Gyaos was created by an Atlantean civilization to wipe out pollution, but the creatures became too powerful and so the civilization created the Gamera’s to destroy them, however the civilization could not repair itself and so preserved the final Gamera for future generations as a defence should the Gyaos reawaken. It is also revealed that the Gyaos only has one pair of chromosomes and is an almost perfect creature and did not evolve. It is also discovered that the creature can have offspring by itself. The final remaining Gyaos has increased in size and attacks Tokyo. The government finally decide to attack Gyaos instead of Gamera and put a plan into action to kill Gyaos. Nagamine and Yonemori try to persuade Kusanagi that the bead necklace that Asagi is wearing connects her to Gamera, which he dismisses until after a long slumber she finally wakes up.

GGOTU8

The following day Gyaos is attacked by a now fully revived Gamera. Kusanagi, Nagamine, Yonemori and Asagi go in pursuit. After a long fought battle, Gamera fights Gyaos in space, before Gyaos cuts its own leg off to survive. Gamera seemingly dies in a huge explosion caused by a power plant beneath him, but revives and fires a huge fire-ball from his mouth destroying Gamera. Using some of his remaining strength, Gamera heals Asagi’s wounds with some unknown power before heading back out to sea in Victory.

GGOTU7

The films cast and characters offer a range of people from the strong to the unique. Many of the main cast like Kusanagi and Yonemori offer a good supporting character as well as a strong main character when one is needed. Many other characters offer a good performance including those of government characters and military personnel. But all these characters are sort of shadowed as it were by the two real lead female characters in Nagamine and Asagi. Nagamine is an understandable person with not much in the way of Ego. She makes her point clear and stands by it despite huge opposition. Her expertise in her field also offer huge insight and guidance in any situation. Asagi meanwhile to me is the real human star. With Great acting from Ayako Fujitani (the daughter of Steven Seagal), she offers a different perspective in situations as a complete outsider only drawn into the situation by those around her. With her connection to Gamera she also offers support to the big turtle as well by being his connection to the human world. For the reasons of this film as well as the two sequels to this film, Fujitani is one of my Favourite Actresses.

Shinobu Nakayama and Ayako Fujitani

But the real stars of this film are of course the Big Monsters in Gamera and Gyaos. Gyaos is a very well designed creature with a personality (like all Good Movie Monsters). The idea that the creature eats people as well is a nice touch which brings the creature down to a more human level, something that is not done all that much in Monster films. Several scenes in the film also help Gyaos’s character by making Gyaos look not only dangerous, but also, incredibly sinister. Gyaos’s design is more of that of a Pterodactyl than a bird but this help with the terror of the creature. The creature’s reveal also helps out this terror by not showing until its second scene but have hints towards how terrifying it is during an early scene.

Gyaos (1995)

Gamera is well presented; this is a character that has not had the best history when it came to Monster Movies. But many years later it turns its fortunes around in a fantastic way. The Atlantean origins give a good and understandable origin instead of the usual and gives Gamera more of a purpose than simply being a Giant turtle. The connection with Asagi is mysterious and reveals itself in time, and at the end of the film almost bonds like a friendship with Asagi by healing her wounds. Gamera does have a sort of super hero look and identity in this film but does not get silly with it and so therefore does not spoil the entertainment value of the film.

GGOTU2

The film’s special effects are fantastic. Many Japanese Monster movies, in particular Godzilla do involve a lot of work with miniatures and maybe some close ups for detail. Gamera on the other hand, it’s like the producers have really tried to stand up to Godzilla, to rival it and used mainly the real thing. There are several scenes in this film involving close-ups of army tanks moving across the landscapes, and they are real tanks too. How they did the shots is one question, but the effect works. When you use something real, it looks far better than trying to make something real with CGI. You can’t beat the real thing. Most of the vehicles used in this film for certain shots are the real thing, and it looks Fantastic. Scenes including the opening scene with the ships, the scene with the tanks amassing to attack Gamera, the Missile loading scene, scene involving helicopters with their lights on the Gyaos, It is very tempting to stick the film on just to watch those scenes again and when music is added, Its Fantastic. The only time that military equipment is not real is when missiles are fired and these scenes make great use of early but still magnificent CGI.

GGOTU9

The Monsters are magnificent. Compared to the effects used for the monsters when Gamera first appeared in the 1960’s, you could easily tell it was a suit and looked poor. The suits used in this film look real, as if a Giant Turtle was used to shoot those scenes. The Monster attack scenes on cities look terrific, and the fight scenes look intense and realistic. It is hard to really say how great the effects are without showing you. Not only did this film rival Godzilla in a story sense, but also a special effects sense, when you look at the Gamera scenes where he is either rampaging through a city or in a fight with Gyaos, it’s magnificent.  To me the effects beat those of several other monster films I can name including some Godzilla films. It’s not too much of an overstatement for me to say that the special effects used in this film, are some of the best I have seen in the whole of cinema, and some of the most realistic too.

GGOTU10

The film’s soundtrack (provided by Kow Otani)  is incredible; there is almost a piece of music for each scene. The opening scene has large parts where they help show the size of a scene, and possibly importance, while on the other hand there are great mystical sounds for the parts talking about the origins of the creatures depicted in the film. Some of my favourite pieces though are the military scenes as stated above. Scenes like when the tanks are amassing to attack Gamera or one scene where Gyaos is flying and the piece works well with the seriousness of the situation but adds tension. Gamera’s theme is good also as it depicts him not like a hero as such but as someone coming to save the day and so when he arrives or leaves the scene it sounds incredible. One thing of note to point out about the soundtrack is the sometimes apparent use of native Japanese instruments for some scenes, while the film does also use non-native equipment in its soundtrack; the use of them adds to the film culturally and also adds to the mystical properties of the films story too.

GGOTU11

On the whole, as you may be able to see, this film is incredible. Great Cast, Brilliant Story, Amazing Special Effects, Wonderful Music and Amazing Directing from Shusuke Kaneko to bring all this together and create one of the absolute Best Monster Movies to date. While I could go on some more, I don’t want to ruin it for everyone else. While this film may not be able to compete with some Godzilla films, I can think of some that this film easily beats. Whatever tastes in film you fancy there is something in this film for everyone, I guarantee it.  Godzilla finally had a rival, and what a rival he was.

GENEPOOL (To think that if this film did not happen or was not to achieve the success it gained, we wouldn’t have Gamera 3).





Lightning Strikes Twice But This Time It’s Irish – Clash Of The Titans (2010)

10 10 2012

If you were a Greek God, what would your name and what would you be the God of? Well seeing as I know which Norse God I would easily be (THOR). I suppose I could try this. Choosing one would be easy, I would choose Poseidon. If I was to make one up I would be called TEROS, the God of Monsters. TEROS sounds like Taurus which has something to do with Bulls and so in my case, Monsters. It is interesting to hear all the strange names for Greek Gods, but they are Greek of course, but I did not know that Zeus was Irish.

When I heard (late 2008/early 2009) that Clash of the Titans was being remade, I was excited. If any film deserved a remake it was Clash of the Titans. The legendary film from legendary film maker and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. While his film used stop motion and whose Kraken too is one of the most iconic pieces of cinema, this film would of course use CGI instead of Stop Motion. While some people could have had their reservations about remaking it, I was incredibly excited. Even more so when I saw the trailer. When I had my interview at Teesside University the music from the trailer kept going round in my head. It was the film I was most excited about for 2010 (This film also Won 4 Awards at the Sam’s Rant Film Awards 2010).

The film starts out with a narrator talking about how the Gods overthrew their parents The Titans with a creature made from the skin of Hades. Zeus then becomes God of the sky and creates man, Poseidon becomes God of the Sea and Hades is tricked by Zeus to become God of the Underworld. The Gods stay alive and feed on the prayers and worship of the people while Hades finds sustenance on their pain. After hundreds of years, Man becomes rebellious and declares war on the Gods.

Out at sea a fisherman finds a coffin with a woman and a baby inside it and raises it as his son and calls him Perseus. The boy eventually reaches adulthood and his family has grown but has questions about who he really is. They eventually arrive near Argos (not the shops) and observe as the giant statue of Zeus is destroyed by Men from Argos. Strange Flying Monkey creatures then attack the men. They then come together to form Hades who then destroys the fishing boat. Perseus lives but the rest of his family drown. On Olympus (I Think, it does not really state) the Gods are angry about the defiance and Hades appears telling the Gods that they must strike at the Humans. Zeus agrees and allows Hades to attack the world. Perseus is rescued by the Men of Argos (not the shops) and taken to the King. The King and Queen of Argos are revelling in the joy of attacking the Gods. Andromeda (their daughter) does not like this and goes to Perseus to offer him a drink. The Queen of Argos then says that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Gods. Hades appears and makes the Queen age to death (makes her get older and die of old age) and says that he will unleash The Kraken (the creature that killed the titans) to destroy Argos (not the shops) unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice. Before he leaves he reveals that Perseus is the son of Zeus.

Perseus is attacked by the guards and does not believe what hades has said. Andromeda tells the guards to let him go and the king asks him if he can help them. Perseus is then thrown in prison; he is then visited by a woman named Lo who tells him the story of his birth. Many years ago a former king of Argos (not the Shops) Acrisius declares war on the Gods and so to make an image of him and to punish him, Zeus impersonates Acrisius and impregnates Acrisius’s wife. Acrisius finds out and puts his new-born baby and his wife in a coffin. He then gets shocked by lightning turning him into a monster and throws the coffin in the sea. Lo reveals that she has been cursed with Agelessness after refusing Poseidon’s advances and has been watching Perseus all his life. He said to be the only man who can stand up to the gods. Perseus and a few men prepare to leave to find the Stygian witches to find a way of killing the Kraken. Before they leave a prop from the original film, Bubo, the Golden Owl, is found but they say they do not need it. The leave Argos (not the shops) for the witches.

Zeus finds out that his Son Perseus is living in Argos. Hades visits Acrisius (now called Calibos) to ask him to kill Perseus for him so that Hades can kill Zeus. Along the journey, Perseus is guided and told stories by Lo and is given presents that he does not want from the Gods including a Sword and the Pegasus. The group of soldiers are attacked by Calibos who loses his hand. They chase him into the desert where his blood creates Giant Scorpions. They soldiers fight them and manage to kill them. Three more appear, much bigger but are halted by a group of desert sorcerers called Djinn. Perseus is wounded by a bit on his arm and is cured by one of the Djinn. They then (Thanks to the Djinn) ride on the giant scorpions to the Stygian witches. Meanwhile back in Argos (not the Shops, I will stop doing this now) a religious cult is growing in number demanding the sacrifice of Andromeda.

The group arrive at the Stygian Witches and after some convincing, by threatening the loss of their one eye the Witches say that the Kraken can be defeated by Medusa whose gaze will turn all who look at her into stone. They also say that Perseus will die. They journey to the river Styx where Perseus encounters Zeus who asks him to live with them as a God. Perseus refuses and so Zeus gives him a coin for the ferryman. They arrive at the crossing and the remaining Djinn throws the coin into the river which summons Charon (the boatman) who ferries them across the river. When they get there, Lo explains that she cannot enter the lair of Medusa, only men can. They fight medusa and most of the group die, mostly by turning into stone. Using the reflective side of his shield Perseus manages to cut off Medusa’s head. He journeys outside her lair and is confronted by Calibos who kills Lo. Using his sword form the Gods he kills Calibos and then goes to Lo. Lo tells him to go for the eclipse has started. Zeus orders the release of the Kraken and the cult goes to the palace for Andromeda who surrenders herself. Andromeda is put on a sacrificial crane thing and hoisted into position. The Kraken makes its way to Argos with Perseus riding on the Pegasus to get there. Hades then reveals that this was his plan to make Zeus weak. Hades heads off to stop Perseus who once again uses his Flying Monkeys.

The Kraken reveals itself and heads to where Andromeda is. Perseus manages to get to her in time and turns The Kraken to stone with the head of Medusa. Hades appears and Perseus uses the sword of the gods to send Hades back into the Underworld. Perseus then rescues Andromeda from drowning. They eventually wake up on the beach and with boats coming to rescue them Perseus leaves Andromeda who is now the rightful Queen of Argos (not the shops, Woops, Sorry).  despite her asking him to be her King. He then encounters Zeus and once again refuses the offer of being a God. Zeus then revives Lo so that Perseus is not alone.

Clash of the Titans is a very Good film, not good as the original but still very Good. The Cast is a nice blend but I do think Sam Worthington could have been better. Lo (Played by Gemma Arterton) is an annoying character and I will tell you why later. While some people may have issues with Liam Neeson as Zeus, I think he was very Good (so much so I gave his performance an award).

For me the best of the cast is in the side characters. Kaya Scodelario plays Peshest who is the maiden for Andromeda (I Think, her name is not revealed). Even though she only talks briefly she is a good addition to the cast. Andromeda (played by Alexa Davalos who is a lot better than Rosamund Pike in the sequel) is another great character but is also not over the top like some of the characters in the film. Pete Postlethwaite appears in one of the last films he did before his death and though while it is a small brief part is magnificently delivered. But for me Liam Cunningham is the best, he plays Solon and while his character is slightly comedic it is brilliantly done and all his scenes are enjoyable (particularly before the boatman arrives).

The CGI is not basic; it has had a proper go. The originals effects are well known and so the CGI updates it for the current generation of cinema goers but to me the original effects are still the best. Back then it was cutting edge, CGI does not really hold that title anymore because almost everyone can do it. Scenes like these can easily be done whereas back in 1981, only a few people could do those effects. But still, very good, some of the best CGI in recent years.

All these points are good however there are some issues that need to be raised. Firstly, Ralph Fiennes as Hades. Ok at the time of the film he was playing Voldermort and so may have been an obvious choice as a villain. However I did feel his portrayal was a bit too much like Voldermort. He may have been an easy choice as well as carrying that thing of the villain being British but he was almost playing Voldermort and not Hades, I mean, it can’t be helping his career if he is A: Playing Villains all the time and B: Playing Voldermort all the time. At least he got his nose back after it was sliced off during filming of the Harry Potter films.

Secondly, Lo. Lo is an incredibly annoying character that constantly narrates everything and takes away the discovery part of the story. You know what is going to happen next because she said it. It’s like the credits role of the New Doctor Who, it tells us what is going to happen next so we may as well just stop watching. It also removes some of the mythology which the film should thrive on but in a way just turns it into a film instead of a film based on Greek Mythology. Thirdly, Overacting, there seems to be quite a bit of overacting in this film, the film should be called Overacting of the Titans. Fourthly, Continuity. By far the biggest issue is the continuity, in particular the story to the sequel. I will probably bring this up when I do that review. On a smaller note Andromeda has blonde hair in it whereas in this she has black, Wrath of the Titans should just be called Continuity Issues of the Titans. In this they say that the Kraken killed the Titans whereas in the sequel it says that the Titans were killed with a weapon.

The trailer for the film used a Heavy Metal piece which I liked and that genre would fit this film. However there was no Metal in it but the music was heading in the right direction. How many times do I need to say it, Heavy Metal + Fantasy = Fantastic. The Music was generally very good though and still enjoyable. It has though inspired me to make a Fantasy Film with Heavy Metal in it for the soundtrack. Unleash the Beast by Saxon would work for this film.

There is one other thing that needs to be said about this film. When it was released I knew about Legendary Pictures plans to make a New Godzilla film. When I saw the Kraken in this I thought that providing the effects are at least that Good then Godzilla should be Fantastic. So as a fan I gave Legendary my Permission to make a new American Godzilla film. A few days after seeing this film, Legendary gets the Go Ahead.

With its combination of Good Music, Great Actors, and Fantastic Special effects, Clash of the titans is a very enjoyable film. While it is not as Good as the original it is still a film that should be seen. It would be good to do a comparison between this film and the original just to see how it stacks up (I am sure there was more content in the original than in this). For now let us enjoy this one and enjoy what is a Great story and a Good Film.

GENEPOOL (Please leave your Greek God ideas in the comments, I would be interested to read them. If you are any of my Blogging Friends (Heather, Regan, TimHannah, LukeJosh or Matt) this could be a Blog Challenge)





The Undersea Warship – Atragon

3 07 2012

If you had the world’s most powerful, most dangerous warship, what would you do with it? Well you could do whatever you wanted with it. Also what features would you put on it? Well in this case let’s say it’s a submarine, you would of course add a torpedo launcher, some kind of really good propulsion system, a way to make it fly and of course a whacking massive drill on the front of it, or would you? Well you would if you were the captain of the submarine in this film.

Directed by The Great Ishiro Honda, Atragon is a Japanese Monster Movie that is not a Godzilla film (King Kong vs Godzilla was released one year earlier and was the film that really kicked off the Godzilla series). Although it is an interesting thing to point out that both Manda and the Gotengo would later star in the Godzilla series. It is also an interesting point that what I like to call the Big Four (Tanaka, Honda, Tsuburaya and Ifukube) who made the original Godzilla film are all present in the production of this film.

The film starts off with a strange man seen coming out of the water by a couple of Photographers who spook him when they photograph him, suddenly a car drives into the water and a lot of steam comes from the Water. The next day the car is fished out of the water but the police find the story hard to believe. A peculiar writer goes to see a retired Japanese admiral and asks question about the I-400 submarines including I-403 which was captained by Captain Jinguji. The reporter also claims that Jinguji has been building another. Jinguji’s daughter, Makoto is present also. Later on Jinguji’s daughter and the former admiral are in a car which is not taking them to their destination, they arrive at the beach where the driver turns out to be an agent for the Mu Empire and plans to take the 2 as slaves, however the photographers from earlier turn up and disarm the agent who retreats in to the sea. A package is sent to the admiral with a roll of film in it which tells the story of the Mu Empire, also becomes apparent that the Mu Empire have the I-403.

Several cities around the world are destroyed by earthquakes created by the Mu Empire. The forces of the world ask the former admiral if he can get in touch with Jinguji after the worlds most advanced submarine is destroyed by the Mu Empire. The Admiral has no idea how to get in touch with him, but then someone who has been stalking Makoto is captured who turns out to be someone who works for Jinguji. He initially refuses to help them but later decides to show them the way to his base. The former Admiral, Makoto, the photographers, a policeman and the strange writer go along. After 3 days of travelling they reach the island and meet the mysterious Captain Jinguji. The next day they all see his magnificent submarine Gotengo.

They spend the rest of the day watching the submarine as it undergoes its first test run. The former admiral tries to convince Jinguji to use it to help save the world against the Mu Empire but Jinguji wants to use it to get Japans pride and power back after its defeat during World War 2, it appears that this is all he wants to do. Then the strange writer turns out to be a Mu agent and kidnaps Makoto and one of the photographers. As a result of this action it is enough to persuade Jinguji to attack the Mu Empire.

Makoto and the photographer are taken to the Mu Empire and discover the giant serpent God Manda. The Gotengo goes on the attack while the Mu Empire cause an earthquake which causes a crack underneath Tokyo causing most of the city to fall into it. Makoto and the Photographer along with some other prisoners take the Mu Empress hostage and escape with the use of some diving equipment; however Manda prevents them from escaping until the Gotengo shows up and distracts the giant serpent. Using the Gotengo’s freeze cannon the Serpent is dispatched quickly. The Gotengo then attacks the Mu Empire itself by drilling into the nation’s heart and uses its freeze cannon again to destroy the nation from within. The Gotengo escapes and the Mu Empress swims off to die with her country.

The films ending is a bit abrupt and could have been executed better. However this film does have the story telling style of Ishiro Honda, he doesn’t expect you to know things before hand and so he tells the story like he would to someone who has come to see a film for the first time. While he has made some better films than this, his essence is in this film from start to finish. The film’s story as a whole has some nice bits in it including the Japanese defeat in WW2 as well as the mention of Japan’s secret weapon during WW2.

The scenes with the Gotengo are brilliant in particular with it being the best piece of special effect in the film. It is a shame though that more of it is not seen which would have been nice, but the scenes you do see are a continuous treat. The Gotengo would make another appearance later in the film Godzilla Final Wars where it would also have a fight with Manda. The fight with Manda could have gone on for longer I think but then again how is a submarine supposed to fight a giant serpent.

The cast themselves are a nice bunch but the actress playing Makoto (Yoko Fujiyama) is the best particularly when you combine her with her mysterious patriotic submarine captain. The Mu agents also have a nice intimidating, commanding look to them. Now while all of these things are great the real treat with this film is the soundtrack provided by Akira Ifukube, the main title in particular is a nice blend of mystery with an intimidating military feel. The soundtrack is not only for the film it is also for the submarine and it is amazing when you combine the two together. Look at the Gotengo and listen to the music at the same time, it is incredible and one of Ifukube’s best pieces during the 1960’s.

All together the film is a nice blend of Sci-Fi action, World War 2 patriotism and Monster Movie with some delightful scenes and characters with the main theme tying it all together in a nice but powerful way. Ok, it is more than likely you have not heard of this film, well, you have now so why don’t you go and watch it, Seriously. Ok it is not as good as Godzilla films from the same time but is another case that TOHO know what they are doing when it comes to making Monster movies and also shows that it is not just about Godzilla. You may enjoy it, you may not but it is one of those world cinema films you have more than likely not heard of but are missing out as a result, a real treat.

GENEPOOL








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 457 other followers

%d bloggers like this: