Hey, Lord Of The Flame, Your Tail’s On Fire – Ice Age

31 08 2016

Ice Age (Blue Sky Studios - 2002)

By the early 2000’s, one form of format/genre was beginning to dominate the movie scene more than most. It had reared it’s head in 1995 with the release of Toy Story, and by 2002 several of the most talked about films of the time were in the same format. I am of course talking about CGI animated movies and in less than a decade; there were already several well-known and near iconic films released with such titles as Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Shrek and Monsters Inc. Most of the films produced in this format were done by two main studios: Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, with both of them together holding a near monopoly on CGI Animated Cinema. Then another studio came along; a studio who had been in existence nearly as long as Pixar, but who were only just about to release their first big screen film; little did anyone know that such a film would become such a hit.

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Released in 2002 by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Chris Wedge, Ice Age is an animated comedy film about a group of animals going on a journey during the Ice Age. This film would be the first instalment in the commercially successful Ice Age film series and would be followed by 4 sequels making it the first animated film series to have 5 entries. While the subsequent films have sort of begun to lose their charm, the first film in the series remains to be one of the best animated films of its kind, and is a personal favourite of mine.

Scrat (Chris Wedge), a squirrel with some really pointy teeth tries hard to find a place to store his acorn, ultimately and constantly however his success is limited and goes on to cause more problems than solutions. Eventually he gets stomped on by a large migrating herd of prehistoric animals going south to avoid the oncoming Ice Age. A Ground Sloth knows as Sid (John Leguizamo) is left behind by his family, and while trying to regroup with them he angers Carl (Cedric the Entertainer) and Frank (Stephen Root); a couple of Brontops/Megacerops (Rhino). Sid is rescued by grumpy Mammoth Manfred/’Manny’ (Ray Romano), and not wanting to be pummelled by Carl, Frank, or more likely both; Sid joins Manny, which Manny finds really irritating as he prefers to be alone. Meanwhile a group of Smilodon, lead by Soto (Groan Visnjic) are planning revenge on a group of humans by eating the chief’s baby son alive. During the attack, the baby’s mother rescues the boy, and jumps down a waterfall. Soto sends his lieutenant Diego (Denis Leary) to get the baby back. Having survived the plunge, Manny and Sid discover the mother, who passes the baby up to them before disappearing. While Manny does not want to help, he agrees to as he hopes Sid will leave him alone after that. When trying to return the baby to the camp, the two run into Diego, who is desperately trying to convince them he is good. Upon reaching the human camp; they discover the humans had left, and Diego says he can help the two reach the Humans in time before they are gone for good.

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The group leave for the humans, and on the way run into several hurdles in looking after a baby including feeding it and changing it, running into a pack of melon obsessed Dodo’s. Diego runs into members of his pack, and tells them that he will be bringing a Mammoth along with the baby to their lair. As the adventure continues Scrat is still looking for a place to hide his acorn, while the trio discover all sides to the Ice Age world, with Sid playing tricks on Manny, Diego still trying to get the baby and Manny trying to be a responsible guardian to the baby. Eventually the group run into a cave with human paintings inside, which tell of the frightful story of what happened to Manny that made him such a loner.

Within sight of their destination, the group walk over a patch of lava, with Manny saving Diego’s life. With Diego filled with gratitude and seeing Manny for who he really is, he informs them of his original plan to have the group eaten by the pack. With Diego’s help, the group are able to defeat the pack, but with Diego severely injured. Manny and Sid continue on to the Glacier Pass, and just manage to catch up with the boy’s father. Manny gives the boy back to his dad in a tear felt moment for all. Manny and Sid watch as the humans leave, with Manny having received a gift of compassion from the boy’s father. The two then turn around to see Diego injured but alive. They then leave to find a warmer climate. Thousands of years later, Scrat; frozen in an ice-cube washes ashore but is helpless as his Acorn is washed away. He does however find a Coconut to eat which brings him joy, until he accidently causes a Volcanic Eruption with it.

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Ice Age is actually a very surprising deep film I find. It’s amazing I think how a film like this can still bring a tear to my eye, even more so now than when I first saw it. There are things I am even beginning to discover more now than I did when I first saw it at about the age of 12. It’s a film with a lot of comedic moments; moments which carry references to what we might consider to be a normal modern life and the things carved into it, plus a lot of mentions to popular culture. These moments of comedy I find to be pretty simple, but in that there is an instant laugh. There is no need for thinking or jokes to get, because it’s all visual and even at times there may be something that children may not get, but ones that adults will making this film’s comedy one all the family can enjoy. Add to this some more clever puns and ideas in relation to such ideas like Extinction and Evolution provided by the film’s strong menagerie of prehistoric animals and it’s a real laugh a minute film. But it’s not just a comedy film, more in fact I find that it’s a film with a lot of heart and a bucket full of emotion.

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The film shows it’s comedy through its situations, but it tells it’s stories through its characters, and here we do have an odd bunch that has both comedy, but also peril. The film’s minor cast in part comes in several characters like Soto’s pack of misfits with characters like the near rabid Zeke (Jack Black), to the other two henchmen. Then this leads us on to characters like Carl and Frank who provide a way of Sid and Manny coming together, but in turn creates two semi-minor antagonists which are just so funny to watch and hear talk, especially with the spoken lines of “Carl?” and “Easy Frank”. This of course leads us on nicely to the film’s semi narrator but also comic relief Scrat the Squirrell. Scat’s scenes are indeed meant to be funny, and shows him really struggle to keep but also look after his acorn which he fails at a constant rate, and though while occasionally will meet some success and even a sense of reprieve this does lead him to more trouble. Though in the end he is not necessarily an entirely comical character, but also a representation of animals struggling to survive in a dying climate and how far they will go for what is theirs and things they need, and will persist to achieve them, even if they result in failure.

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The film portrays something of an interesting form of spoken juxtaposition as though while this film involves the animals talking in a clear understandable language, the humans are only heard making un-understandale noises. It’s like saying that the humans are just animals to the animals, and that animals are just animals to humans. It provides something of a counter point and helps to change the perspective for the audience to see their part in the film and whom they should be looking out for. Into this we get the baby; now while it’s name may not really be known possibly, that is far from the point as to where he belongs in this film. To begin with of course he is just an objective, a goal, something for the trio to do and to achieve on their journey and in order for them to go on a journey in the first place; but then as the film progresses, and the theme of friendship and family takes hold, the baby becomes something of a way of connecting the group. Initially they have their own ways of how they see the child, but then it helps bring them together, and helps face and provide them with comfort and reasoning in their past life to a more positive future. And so when finally it’s time for them to split, it is a real heart-felt moment as the group comes to acknowledge what such a benefit he was to them, and in some way, they don’t want him to go, in belief that maybe they will split when he is gone.

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The group’s trio of talent is an interesting but also very potent mix of characters made up of what is basically an odd bunched group. Sid for instance is of course a clown, a complete idiot who is the provider of constant laughs. He has a genuine attitude of trying and wanting to do the right thing, but is definitely not cut out to do, well anything. He is a complete misfit who is even abandoned by those who know him, and just happens to run into Manny as a sort of bodyguard. He will try his hardest of course, but comes across as a complete failure. However, as a baby sitter he turns out to be completely indispensable, especially as he is the only one of the group with hands, fingers and opposable thumbs; making him ideal for the purposes of looking after a baby, especially in cleaning up after it. By the end he proves himself to actually be generally useful and someone who is rather caring, if not the best father figure. Meanwhile Diego comes across initially of course as a villain, because well, you would think so wouldn’t you, I mean he is a Sabre Toothed Cat after all and has shown to be in league with another group of Cats who want to eat the Baby. So from here on in he is someone to be watched and looked out for and spends a lot of time trying to get the baby plus set up Manny. Then however he has a complete change of heart, as he realises who Manny is and how special the baby is, especially after Manny saves his life. From here on he tries to fix things, and while nearly loses his life shows with all his strength that he is a changed man (of sorts) and that what he really desires is a life with these guys, and not the life he once lead.

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Manny though is the one with the greatest story. Out of the main group he is the one who you see first and shows quite categorically that he would be rather left alone. He spends a lot of the first act trying to be left alone, then get rid of Sid and everyone he keeps running into, even when he is charged with helping the baby return home it’s just so he can return to his private lonely life. Of course, much like the others, he begins to change, but is still unsure of where this new life is leading, until the moment you discover why he is the way he is. Something that could be considered a mere coincidence, leads to a paralysing memory, as a simple cave painting tells his exact story, a story of how he once had a family, but then by the hand of humanity it was all taken away from him, and has since gone on to lead a cynical lonely life, but through the relationship with the baby, an infant to the species that brought his world to an end; he is able to relive that life once more, and know once again what it’s like to have a family, and have hope for his own future, and by the end of their journey; even with the loss of his and possibly the groups shining light, he knows he doesn’t want to part ways with the others, because he is part of not a group of friends, but part of a family once more.

OKAY, yes this film is a CGI Driven form of animation so I suppose I should take a quick moment to talk about it. As a form of animation the digital effects provided take on two forms. One the design of the landscape is rather blocky to keep in context with the ideas of Ice and an Ice Age, while of course the animals use more rounded shapes. The design of the animals in question is rather neat but carries a lot of character and does not bog itself down with attempts to look realistic, instead working to make the goofy looking shapes and designs of an extinct age work as part of their own design mythos and in turn make them look both rather cute while also maintaining a daft and silly look too. One thing though that has come about I discovered is that I feel that the shading effects, all while be it still very do seem to have aged a bit and don’t look as crisp, but as the film gets going, these effects completely disappear to your eyes looking on something else.

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One thing your mind won’t want to be distracted from is the quality of the film’s soundtrack composed by David Newman. The film does do that thing of creating one piece of music and then sort of editing it around for it to be used in a variety of circumstances but is still the same piece of music. Thankfully it does not do this all the time. The film’s main theme tune is actually rather pleasant and increasingly enjoyable. The film though goes on to create more sounds that become just as a part as the main theme if not more a part from there on. Some of these pieces range from the comical and fast, to the slow and sombre, such scenes of note including the sliding around in the cave, Diego’s near end, Giving the baby back and Manny’s memories in the cave.

One theme though stands out the most and becomes the films semi-main theme if not it’s main: that being Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root. It gets featured as the main travel song for the film’s main journey moments across the ice, as the trio discover the life and environment of the ice age as time goes by on their adventure. Seemingly though, it’s a song with a passionate theme and lyrics that in turn show that while it’s more of a road travel song, it is also talking about the themes and ideas that go into going on a journey; but not by yourself…..but with others.

Ice Age is a really fun film altogether. It has its comedy and laugh out loud moments while also going on to present the look as well as the ideas and troubles faced by animals living during the Ice Age, even going to cover a semi-dark toned route as to cover the deaths that some go to, even if it’s not entirely shown. Ice Age is an adventure with friends; it’s about going on a journey, with a goal to accomplish that in turn bridges the gaps between species and each other. There are times though that this little kiddy animated movie, thing is just going to pull at your heart’s strings and provide moments that will make you laugh, but also feel and even cry; and in that comes a film that is not really a comedy, nor is it a film about a journey, but is a film about family, and the joys of family in a difficult world, and what it’s like to have it, lose it, then find it again, even in the most weird of ways.

GENEPOOL (Whoo, Yeah! Who’s up for round two?).

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Top 10 Most Exciting Films In 2016

28 01 2016

Film Reel 2016

I don’t know if you saw my Top 7 Films of 2015 post – if you did, thanks for the support, if you didn’t; why not? – but in that post I had a little gripe at the film awards season. It was more of trying to understand why they are held in February, and not January or December, and why was it films released between February and February, and why was it Always films neither me nor the rest of the cinema going audience in general is going to see. But anyway, I had a little gripe at that before going into my Top 7 films. Why 7; well it’s because I was going to do 5 instead of 10 like I did in 2014, but then I saw a film I wanted to mention (Spoiler Alert – something I don’t generally do, but just thought I would include one here); It was Krampus by the way, but then I don’t like the number 6 so I increased it to a number I do like…7. Anyway, had a slight gripe at Movie Awards before presenting my Top 7. It’s sort of like a Movie Award, being my favourite films of the year, and it’s from someone who enjoys telling people what films he’s seen in that particular year. Anyway why am I talking about this now, well, this is also something like a movie award, but not as prestigious, for an entirely different reason.

Joy (20th Century Fox - 2015)

Basically, the year has passed, some good films, others not, and in the time-honoured tradition since 2012, this blog is going to announce what films the blog writer (me), is looking forward to in the coming year. It’s sort of like an award, but not as prestigious as it’s a list of films that look good this coming year, but if the examples of last year are anything to go by, there is no guarantee that the films in this list will feature in the Top 5 (or whatever number I do Next January/December time) of my favourite films of that year, or generally if they are any good or not. Now while all of these films look pretty good (there’s a major issue with number 10…and number 6), there is at least one other film I can think of that I would have liked to have add, but seeing as it was released well before time of writing, I thought I would just briefly mention the Jennifer Lawrence film Joy. The reason for not including it is the same reason why Birdman was omitted last year, because it had already been released. Anyway, Joy Looks good and I thought I would let that one have some promotion. Anyway, enough of all this, let’s look forward to some stuff. So without further ado, here are the Top 10 films I am most looking forward to in the coming year.

Godzilla Resurgence (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2016)

10. Godzilla Resurgence – I know what you must be thinking; “Why is a Godzilla film, let alone a new Japanese Godzilla film only at number 10 in this list?” Good question. Don’t worry, I am still a huge Godzilla fan, but as to why this is so low in the list is simple enough to answer, just rather longer to explain. The simple answer is that I don’t know if I will get to see it or not. The longer explanation is; that when it comes to the release of such films in the UK, let alone anywhere in Europe, The UK and Europe are consistently ignored. Most of my Godzilla collection is American Region 1 Imported DVD’s and one Blu-ray (try to guess which one). The only DVD’s that are not included in that are a BFI release of the 1954 film, King Kong vs Godzilla released in 2006 for the DVD release of the 2005 King Kong…I think, the 1998 film, and the 2014 film. So, as I can get hold of some DVD’s sort of OK, watching the Japanese films themselves on the big screen are close to an impossibility in my home country, so the reason for this being so low is that “Why should I build up my excitement for something that I probably won’t get to see at all this year?” Ok, I do keep up to date with news of it, and like to hear new stuff. Yes there is something of a trailer out for this, plus I have seen the ‘interesting’ poster for the film, so I am not completely against this film (it’s not the new Star Wars). Hopefully I will get to see it sometime, plus apparently overseas markets are being looked into, so there is some, if be it little hope, that I may get to see it after all. So there is some allowance for Excitement (plus it’s also one of two films being released this year with the word Resurgence in the title).

Dad's Army (Universal Pictures - 2016)

9. Dad’s Army – What originally sounded like a bad adaptation of a popular British Sitcom, now looks like a really promising film. I have seen the trailers a few times and it does look rather funny. Set to star Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Gambon, expect laughs galore for what so far looks like a faithful rendition to an old TV favourite.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Nickelodeon Movies - 2016)

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – The sequel to the surprise film of 2014. Ok, it wasn’t much of a surprise, in the end it was alright and Fun, and did get into my Top 10 (just) for 2014. It was a funny film and at least for me was faithful to its original material, particularly the character of Raphael. So far the new film looks like it will improve over the first film, which I felt was rather quick and got bogged down too much in the origins story of the Turtles. The first trailer released a couple of months ago makes a good first impression and already looks like a major improvement. Don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to this film; I just think this film needs to accomplish more than the first and get the series on the proper track. So far it looks like the main cast is returning, along with some new cast members (including WWE wrestler Sheamus) to play old favourites. Who knows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could turn out to be the big surprise of the year, or not as the case may become.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dreamworks Animation - 2016)

7. Kung Fu Panda 3 – It’s been nearly five years since the last Kung Fu Panda was released, and the reasoning as to why this has happened is rather sketchy as I thought DreamWorks would have been more pro-active in releasing the next film sooner. Good news however, it is a sequel and in no way a reboot. Original cast are back along with new cast members Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons and Kate Hudson in a story that so far sounds like an adaptation of Seven Samurai, which pings my excitement a little more. Kung Fu Panda 3 so far looks like good old Kung Fu Panda fun, and all being well should be good enough to plug up the hole that it has created since the release of its predecessor. The trailer also looks really funny.

Gambit

6. Gambit – The first of three X-Men films to be featured in this list. Gambit is of course a standalone film about my Favourite X-Men character. The film is set to star Léa Seydoux and Channing Tatum, an actor whose career I am not familiar with, but already sounds like a promising choice (as does the casting of Lea Seydoux). Thankfully the film appears to be in no way connected to the events of Origin’s, however as far as my knowledge goes, it appears the film is yet to begin filming, so right now does not sound all that promising for a release this year, and if it does; the relevant quality also. However, given the quality of the X-Men series recently, I am hopeful that when the release date finally arrives, be it this year or not, that it should be worth the wait in the end.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate - 2016)

5. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – What began as a film series that was worthy of a chance has grown into a series to be looked at. Divergent was a really fun film; Insurgent meanwhile was a vast improvement over the first with plenty of enjoyable quirks to make it stand out as one of my Favourite films of 2016. Now I am more and more looking forward to the next film in the series, and see where it goes. So far all I know of this film is what I have seen from the trailer, which just looks weird. I don’t get it at all. Ok, maybe the books will highlight some of the more weird bits the trailer is showing, but as I have not read the books, it’s kind of hard. Also, I don’t fully understand the casting of Jeff Daniels in a film like this, he just looks like someone who walked onto the wrong set, well as a far as the trailer goes. I am just worried that the high quality walls that Insurgent built, are just going to be flattened, just as the series is finally making some good headway. No matter, we’ll see what we’ll see. I mean so far it does look interesting and fun, and includes previous cast members in Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Naomi Watts (one of the big standouts of Insurgent). So while it is a mad looking trailer, the promises and successes of previous films in the series are good enough for me to put this high on my list.

X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox - 2016)

4. X-Men: ApocalypseApocalypse is a character I have been fascinated by since I first heard mention of his name in an episode of X-Men Evolution. Since hearing that name I have for many years been researching his character, and waiting for my opportunities to experience him in some manner of speaking. Either be it in the comics, cartoons or films. So upon hearing what the plan for the next X-Men Film was going to be after Days of Future Past, I could not wait. Since after the release of DoFP, I have been checking in and out with the news of X-Men Apocalypse. I have looked into casting, filming, and even saw a rough copy of the trailer that was filmed at Comic-Con. But it’s only recently I got to see the actual trailer. The film is set to star the main cast of the First Class series so far, with returning actors including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and the return of Rose Byrne who was sadly not in DoFP. Also in the spotlight for the next film includes classic comic characters Nightcrawler, Archangel and Psylocke to name a few, with rising actor Oscar Isaac taking the coveted role of the film’s lead villain. Also set for a return is the winning team that started the whole series from the word go, in producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director Bryan Singer (with any luck the X2 theme will return as well). As is the case though with the X-Men film series, the trailer does not show much in what is likely to be happening and appears to be a bit mad on the whole, and so it’s hard to see what the film is going to be about, however as this is the next film in a long line of extremely good films, I am hopeful that come release day, everything is going to be great.

Deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

3. Deadpool – Since the dawn and for nearly every year in the current century, cinema appears to be awash with movies about Comic Book Superheroes. Now while this is all being well, and most of these are usually fun, there seems to be a level of child-friendly-like-ness to all of these films so far, and very little of the blistering action seen in the comics, as said fights could be considered un-child-friendly. Well in 2016 that is all likely to change with the release of Deadpool. Based on the X-Men Character of the same name, this will be one of two ‘planned’ standalone X-Men films due for release this year. This is not Deadpool’s first time on the big screen, but his last appearance did not go down to well, and was one of the low points of an already bad film. Things have appeared to move on however, and so far Deadpool is beginning to stand out as one of the must see films of 2016. Returning to the role, of which he also played in the bad film; is Ryan Reynolds. Looking at the trailer, the film appears to have Deadpool presented in his correct red and black, sword wielding, gun shooting, breaking the fourth wall…ing self that has become so loved by fans of the character everywhere. The trailer looks fantastic and from what I have seen of images here and there, Deadpool may not be the only X-Men Legend in this film, as the film looks like it will also star Colossus. Deadpool looks Fantastic, and it also looks really funny too, if this film lives up to the hype, this should be one of the best films of 2016.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - 2011)

2. A Monster Calls – About this time last year, I read a book. Ok, I read many books, but I read a book in the space of just a few days, and at the end of which made me cry, becoming the first book I have read to make me do so. Since then I have looked through bits of it every now and then, and have come to like it as one of my 2 Favourite books. The book is written by the 2 time Carnegie Medal winning author Patrick Ness whose other works include The Chaos Walking Trilogy and More Than This. Anyway, why am I talking about this so far yet un-announced book? Well, in 2016, there is due to be a film release of this book, of which the title is, as the book: A Monster Calls. Not much info is readily available about this film other than Juan Antonio Bayona is directing it, Patrick Ness himself is writing the script for it, and that Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson are going to be starring in it. Ok, so there is quite a bit of info on it actually, but not as much as other big films of the year, but given from what I experienced in paperback form this time last year, if that is anything to go by, then A Monster Calls already looks very promising.

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox - 2016)

1. Independence Day: Resurgence – In 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas with plans to make some new films. More than likely; 20th Century Fox probably weren’t best pleased by this announcement, especially as it was 20th Century Fox who took the original risk to produce the space film series after practically every other major studio turned down Lucas’s idea. It would be fair to say that 20th Century Fox were probably a bit miffed by this news; if it wasn’t for them having their attention on something else far more promising. You see as far back as 2011, they have had their eyes on the sequel to a film which when released in 1996 cast a shadow over the world’s cinema’s and did so well that all other films to that date were left in its shadow; and now, 20 years later; INDPENDENCE DAY returns. It’s been a long time coming, but the team of director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin and actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman return once more to save planet earth from an impending alien invasion. News of this film has been mostly scarce (except for those actively looking for it) but just a few weeks ago, a trailer was finally released, and it looks EPIC (and I don’t use that terminology all that often). Everything I have read to date, plus the number of times I watched the trailer continues to get me excited about the release of this film. This time around it looks like the invasion from 20 years ago was just a Beta test, and things are going to be a whole lot worse for planet Earth. The trailer looks Fantastic, I have not been as excited about a single film trailer since the first teaser for the 2014 Godzilla film in December 2013. I have watched it over and over again since I first saw it, and I simply can’t get enough. It won’t long now until the film gets released, but I am more excited about this film more than any other due to be released this year. I don’t know how it’s going to turnout when it is finally released, but like many other films in this list, it’s one I am going to be keeping a keen eye on in the year to come.

GENEPOOL (2016 will feature a resurgence in the word; resurgence…..possibly).





Godzilla News – Giant Apes and Big Insects

4 11 2015

King Kong vs Godzilla

Yes I saw it too. A few weeks ago I heard exciting news regarding the future of the new American Godzilla series. The news being that in 2020, the King of the Monsters will be going toe to toe with the King of Skull Island; King Kong. This is will not be the first time that these 2 Behemoths of the silver screen will have met in combat before. Back in 1963, Toho in Co-operation with Universal released King Kong vs Godzilla. This featured two clashes between the monsters, one which Godzilla won nearly setting Kong on Fire, and the other which ended with Kong swimming away and no sign of Godzilla. The film itself though was not much of a Godzilla film as Godzilla featured characteristics very un-Godzilla like and was portrayed as more a big dinosaur akin to American Monster Movies, than the Japanese Monster. This time around though, things should be different all thanks to Godzilla’s resounding, triumphant return to America in last year’s film. So all being well, Godzilla won’t be all that messed around with in this new battle between the two. This is not the first time since 1963 either that another fight between these 2 has been suggested with plans for films dating back to 1963 (and one I remember seeing on the same site planned for some time in the 90’s).

News of this film comes nearly a year since the announcement that Legendary Pictures plan to release a King Kong spinoff/prequel in form of Skull Island. Originally planned for a 2016 release, this date was pushed back to 2017 (the film itself currently in production, as in right now). Plans for the film were tossed around a bit though since its original announcement and come as part of a plan to create a shared universe (another one) with classic and new giant monsters in them, possibly due to the success of Godzilla last year, plus the acquisition of the rights to classic Toho Monsters including Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah.

Godzilla v.s Mothra and King Ghidorah

Things though are a little confusing about this announcement. When you compare the sizes of both creatures, Godzilla in the recent film is about 110 meters tall, King Kong’s height has been measured to be no higher than 25 feet which when run through a converter comes to about 7.62 metres. Therefore Kong is definitely the smaller of the 2, a lot smaller. Still big enough not to be entirely squashed underfoot, but still too small to cause any real damage to Godzilla. Plus, if Kong is really that hairy, Godzilla’s Atomic Deathray will easily cause the ape to catch fire. So for this new film, Kong is really going to need to be rescaled. Because well, you can’t down size Godzilla to 7.26 metres as that will be very inaccurate (reminds me of something once said on Vidzilla over 15 years ago).

Godzilla vs King Kong 2020

Supposed plans for this film at the moment suggest that at some point the 2 Goliaths will face each other in battle, but will together face a mutual threat. No idea what this threat is at the moment, we are still waiting for Godzilla 2 to come out (which is a little delayed with the Director moonlighting over at LucasFilm). Hopefully though once that and Skull Island are out of the way news will come in thick and fast (although I am a little worried for Godzilla 2 as Universal have announced that the sequel to the best film this year: Jurassic World is going to be released the same month as Godzilla 2) regarding what will be happening. Who knows, Maybe Godzilla will finally get a match against Desghidorah or a long overdue rematch with Battra. With a little bit of time still to go though (about 5 years of it) until this film gets released, there is still plenty to look forward to with both Kong and Godzilla getting outings until they finally meet in 2020.

Desghidorah

Quickly I just want to mention something completely un-Godzilla related. I found out news last week (after buying 3 classic Michael Crichton books for £5) that a film of Crichton’s last book: MICRO is planned. DreamWorks are the ones pursuing it with input from Producer Frank Marshall and a close friend of Crichton’s; Steven Spielberg. While there is no real news of when it will be coming out, I am really excited by this news. Micro was the second best book I read last year, I preferred it to Jurassic Park and to hear that Spielberg is helping in the production of the film is great news. So expect insects galore as Micro will hopefully be released sooner or later. But until that happens, you have plenty of time to read the book. So head down to your local chain of Waterstone’s and pick it up……….”NOW!”

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)

GENEPOOL





Are You Username Ladiesman217? – Transformers

28 05 2014

Transformers (Paramount Pictures - 2007)

In 2005 I saw a poster at the cinema in Morecambe. It was a poster for a new Transformers movie. No date was shown as to when it was being released, or much detail of it would be either animated or live action. These were the days when the Web was still in a state of infancy and only just starting to get widely available. After remembering that poster, in April of 2007 I decide to try and track the film down. I did, it even had trailers and the news that it would be released that year. Come July I was ready for it, and was blown away by it. I absolutely loved it and could hardly think of anything else for several weeks. Well that was seven years ago, and I have finally got round to doing my review of it.

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Based on what started as a toy line by Hasbro and became an international sensation with comics, books, more toys and cartoons and directed by Movie Action Supremo Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg in co-operation with both Paramount Pictures and DreamWorksTransformers is the story of a race of Giant Robots who can transform into vehicles in order to hide their secret from the rest of the world.

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The story begins with a brief dialogue about a Cube called the AllSpark which built a world but the power for control of the object started a war which decimated an entire world. The cube drifted in space for millennia before crash landing on planet earth. At an army base in Qatar, Captain William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Technical Sergeant Robert Epps (Tyrese Gibson) along with the rest of their platoon arrive back from a supposed mission and are about to go home when a helicopter arrives at the base. The helicopter then transforms into a giant robot and destroys the base. Lennox and his team along with a boy on the base manage to escape but get noticed by the robot who sends out a smaller robot to take care of them.  It then tries hacking into the army system but the lines are cut.

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In the United Sates, a boy called Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) gets his first car, a Chevrolet Camaro. He goes out for a drive to show it off and runs into Class mate Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) and gives her a lift home. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defence Keller (Jon Voight) briefs a bunch of IT Analysts about the hack in Qatar and gets them to try and figure out what it was. On one team is Analyst Maggie Madsen (Rachael Taylor) who while trying to figure it out intercepts the same hack happening again on Air Force One. On board the plane is another robot who stowed away on board as a Music Cassette Player and is the one attempting the hack. The lines are shut again but he finds out about Sam. During the night, back at the Witwicky house, Sam’s car appears to just drive off. Sam follows and discovers that the car is a robot.

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Maggie tries to persuade the secretary of defence that the hack was caused by something organic and metallic, but tells her that she needs evidence first. She takes a copy to hacker friend Glen Whitman (Anthony Anderson) but just as they manage to get into the data, the house is raided and they are both arrested. In the desert, Captain Lennox and his team are attacked by the smaller robot named Scorponok but are able to call in help and manage to defeat it before it escapes. Back at his home, Sam goes for a ride on his mother’s bike, when his car starts stalking him. He runs away bumping into Mikaela and then gets attacked by a police car, who is actually a robot. The robot demands to know if he is Username Ladiesman217 and asks about some visors. Sam manages to get away, runs into Mikaela again who spots the robot, but are then both rescued by his Camaro, who fights and defeats the police car. Using the car radio the robot sort of explains who he is and takes the two of them with him.

That night four large meteorites crash into planet earth and scan some cars, before then all meeting up. Sam and Mikaela are then introduced to the Autobot crew of leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), his first lieutenant Jazz (Darius McCrary), weapons specialist Ironhide (Jess Harnell), medical officer Ratchet (Robert Foxworth) and Sam’s car Bumblebee (Mark Ryan). Optimus explains that they come from Planet Cybertron where a war broke out over the AllSpark and that when he went looking for it; the villainous Megatron (Hugo Weaving) leader of the Decepticons landed on Earth and was discovered by Captain Archibald Witwicky (William Morgan Sheppard), Sam’s ancestor. The glasses he was wearing had the destination of the cube printed on them and Sam had the glasses up for sale on eBay. They all go to Sam’s house where his parents Ron (Kevin Dunn) and Judy (Julie White) are. The Autobots make a mess of the garden while Sam looks for the glasses before parents go to his room and find Mikaela. Sam finds the glasses but then the house is surrounded by Agents from Sector 7 led by Agent Simmons (John Turturro) who take all of them including the family dog into custody. The agents Press Sam and Mikaela for information before Sam finds out that Mikaela has a criminal record. The Autobots rescue them but are then pursued by more agents who capture Bumblebee in the process and take Sam and Mikaela back into custody.

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Back at the Pentagon, a man called Tom Banachek (Michael O’Neill) who is the head of Sector 7 arrives and tells Keller that back in 2003, the Beagle 2 Mars Rover (even though it was neither an American spacecraft, or a planetary rover) landed on Mars and transmitted a few seconds of footage. The footage showed the body of a robot and Sector 7 cut all transmission from the thing before it could go public. The operations team from Qatar took a picture of the thing that attacked the base, and Sector 7 believes they are both of the same origin. The Pentagon is then hacked and Keller is asked to go to the Hoover Dam; he picks up Glen and Maggie on the way. Lennox’s team arrives in the USA and along with Mikaela and Sam also go to the Hoover Dam, the HQ of Sector 7. Sam manages to get Mikaela’s record wiped forever before they are all briefed on a giant robot in the basement called NBE 1, who is actually Megatron. They are also shown the Cube which is the size of a building and are shown that the Cube has the power to turn electronic objects into transforming robots. They are however unaware that Mikaela’s phone had been replaced with the robot from Air Force one who tells the other Decepticons where the cube is who all then head for the base. Inside the dam, Sam is taken to a tortured Bumblebee who makes the cube itself transform into a smaller one. A plan is made to hide it in the city. Keller, Maggie, Glen and Simmons go to try and contact the air force, while Lennox and his team along with Sam and Mikaela and the other Autobots take the Cube into Mission City. Megatron is then freed by the Decepticons and go off in pursuit.

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In the Dam, Simmons, Keller, Glen and Maggie are attacked by the smaller Decepticon Frenzy (Reno Wilson). They are able to defeat it and get word out to the air force. In the city Lennox’s team and the Autobots are attacked by the Decepticons Devastator, Starscream (Charlie Adler) and Bonecrusher (Jimmie Wood), including the helicopter Blackout from the attack in Qatar. Sam is press ganged into getting the cube into military hands while Bumblebee teams up with Mikaela driving a tow truck after he loses his legs. The fight intensifies with Jazz getting ripped apart by Megatron and the Decepticons being seemingly unkillable. Sam tries to get the cube into military hands but the chopper is destroyed by Megatron. Sam falls from the building but is rescued by Optimus. Optimus and Megatron fight and along with help from the air force and Lennox’s team manage to defeat the Decepticons with Sam putting the Cube in Megatron chest, killing him instantly. The Decepticon bodies are disposed of and Sector 7 is shut down. The Autobots stay with Sam and Mikaela and Optimus sends a message to all surviving Autobots to come to planet Earth.

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Transformers is amazingly well made. It was always going to be a tough film to crack but it is generally an action spectacle that has both terrific action sequences fights and drama.

Jon Voight, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Shia LaBeouf, Julie White and Kevin Dunn

The drama from and between the films human cast is very well done. Sam is a typical teenager with dreams but is over ecstatic when all of the weirdness begins. Shia LaBeouf does this splendidly and even manages to get his head together. He is however more understanding than the old jock characters and is more able to get a friendship going with Mikaela as a result. Jon Voight’s character is great as a leadership character as someone in his position is always trying to stay calm no matter what the situation but will allow himself to get angry and annoyed if he thinks it is justified as well as necessary and appropriate. Simmons meanwhile is a source of light comic relief but whose character is very serious about what he does and that comic nature is more his real world side and his serious professionalism along with a touch of madness is more what he really is. Epps is sort of the other side to that where he is genuinely a very serious guy but those elements of comedy are what the audience is thinking so it allows them to connect with him as well as the cynical sarcastic and surreal nature of what is going on. Sam’s nightmare parents are nicely well-played too with Judy being more of a real nightmare trying to get down with her son making her look embarrassing, while Ron is more of the friendly father figure who is not afraid to make his feelings known but tries to remain calm in saying them. Together they both have great onscreen chemistry but have different as well as very funny responses to certain situations, Judy promotes violence while Ron wants to do things legally. Their response to the sight of Mikaela is brilliant too as they are not disapproving about her, but more interested and pleased about her.

Glenn Morshower, Tom Everett and Brian Shehan

On the human side though, the real standouts are Tom, Lennox, Maggie and Mikaela along with a host of extra cast including Glenn Morshower, Brian Shehan (who really should have had more of a spot in this film), Tom Everett and one bloke who briefly appeared, don’t know what his name is but I think he appeared as the father of a girl Malcolm was going out with in Malcolm in the Middle.

Josh Duhamel, Rachael Taylor and Michael O'Neill

Tom only appears very briefly but he is one of the most interesting characters. He is generally very casual but also very corporate in his character and is a bit easier on his approach, compared to Simmons who goes in all guns blazing. So while he only has a few shots, all those scenes are brilliant and is a real shame, along with someone else in the cast, that he did not appear again in the series. Lennox meanwhile is not your typical soldier. He is not gun hoe or busy barking orders at his platoon, he is more sensible, understands the situation and works to get the best results, as shown when he tells Simmons that he will count to three. Maybe because his platoon is made of a similar bunch of guys is the reason he is more like this allowing him to be more respectful on the battlefield, but when dealing with people as a whole he is both persuasive and calm enough to make sure people know what they need to do and because he is not an average soldier but perhaps a more respectable human being allows him to stand out to the viewer. Maggie meanwhile is almost the films secret main star. She is not exactly a geek or a nerd but is very specialised in what she does. While she pretty much does land herself into FBI custody, her headstrong nature as well as own beliefs and ideals mean that she did it in the best interests and not for herself and because she is not afraid to speak her own mind, she gains a large amount of respect from Keller who does take a professional liking to her. She is also not afraid to get her hands dirty as shown when they take on Frenzy. Her character is very likeable and while Like Tom her scenes are more of a handful of pieces here and there, all of those scenes are brilliant mostly thanks to how such a good actress Rachael Taylor is and as stated for Tom before, I do consider it a real shame that she did not continue to appear in the series.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox is supposedly playing the girl next door character, however she is more than that. While in some respects her part is possibly meant for a bit of eye candy, her character is actually one of the best in the entire film. Mikaela is not a damsel in distress. On the contrary she would be the type to do the rescuing given half the chance. Her character is more of a challenge to the men as she knows so much about cars, but is not respected for as such. She strikes a friendship up with Sam because while he is trying to be like one of the jocks, she sees more to him than that and this allows her to have someone to talk with about her inner feelings which have become hidden by her looks. When he criminal record is revealed, her character comes out more and that inner torment that she has been hiding finally comes to fruition and allows her to do more as a person and connect more with the viewer. She is actually quite caring and can see the best in people despite what her exterior shows and I would easily say that she is very much on par with the Transformers themselves as highlights of this film.

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As for the real stars given the name of the film, the Transformers. It is a nice mix of characters. Optimus is very serious and doesn’t pull jokes at all, it’s more in what he is than what he does. The use of the stereo for Bumblebee is a great move as it adds an element of humour to his character without him needing to speak. Megatron is very well-played and both looks bad but also sounds cold and calculating. He shares some of the best speaking parts for the transformers in the entire film and is a joy to be hold. For the most part the other Decepticons play their part by shutting up and letting Megatron do his bit, because well he is the centre piece, but the diversity of the vehicles that they are, as well as some of the speaking parts that they do, primarily Barricade (Jess Harnell) allow them to stand out a little more. So instead of being just ordinary silent villains, they have their own little character bits strung out here and there and are very enjoyable too. For me though, despite Optimus of course being the leader and some bits done by Jazz and Ratchet, they’re not as good as Ironhide. A machine whose part is that of a rough and tough persona, he is actually quite cool and has the best speaking parts of any transformer in the film. While his attitude can get the better of him, he is capable of toning that part down and has a lot of respect for Optimus and some caring nature towards the humans. But for a part of a rough soldier, he is quite capable of more than that and has his own touches of comedy which don’t get boring, as well as scenes that are not comedic which are absolutely brilliant (for more information please refer to my Top 5 posts on the Autobots and Decepticons).

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The films special effects are well done. Making such characters appear like that was always going to be hard, but the rustic nature of their design makes them look more realistic, but just to achieve such designs deserve a lot of credit. While such effects have become part of the norm for cinema today, when you take something that was originally a toy, but then put it into a state where it not only looks good but also realistic to the point of the viewer being able to feel like they could touch it requires a lot of work, and if it can be pulled off, like it has done so here, it deserves a lot of credit. I particularly like how the design of the transformers is a lot like how George Lucas envisioned the craft in Star Wars by making the nuts and bolts visible.

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The film’s soundtrack is also one of the film’s best components. While the end music of What I’ve Done provided by Linkin Park is very good in its own right; it is the music created for the film itself by composer Steve Jablonsky that gets the real attention. The parts used for the military sequences have a nice tense tone to them but is also catchy for a piece with no lyrics in as well as very memorable. But the piece that comes to my mind is that of the arrival sequence of the Autobots. The piece gives a heroic impression of here comes the good guys about it and starts off very classical but gets a little more intense and brighter as it goes along and ends with this sharp, sort of heavy component when the Autobots meet up and Optimus transforms. That piece in general has all sorts of bits to it with even an operatic tone part way in but for me, the piece does not have a single moment of it being better than the rest. A nice calm feel which intensifies little by little until you reach the terrific ending. Just thinking about that piece sends chills down my spine. I really like that piece.

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Transformers is a truly terrific film. To this day I absolutely love this film, my favourite of 2007. With a great sense of action and battle sequences as well as a terrific portrayal of the human side to the conflict from the film’s cast (all of them) with special effects and music to back it all up; Transformers is one Excellent film that is enjoyable from start to finish guaranteed.

GENEPOOL (I do like the reference to the Beagle 2 Spacecraft. It gives it an extra sense of both validity and realism. I just couldn’t find anywhere else in the post to mention that).





How To Fight An Alien – Monsters VS Aliens

19 02 2013

Monsters vs. Aliens (DreamWorks Animation - 2009)

If aliens were to invade the planet, what would you do? There were several things you could do like run, fight, panic or make friends. Let’s say you were going to fight, how would you do it? You could shoot at them providing they cannot resist it, you could attempt to poison them providing they have cannot resist that either, or you could use as this film suggests Monsters. In my opinion that is a brilliant idea seeing as their track record for this thing is better than humans. I mean Gamera defeated Legion and Godzilla has fought, defeated destroyed several space monsters as well as spaceships on several occasions. So let’s see how the monsters suggested in this film get on.

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In space a mysterious glowing object fly’s towards earth. Meanwhile a woman named Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is getting ready for her wedding. Before her wedding she sees her husband to be Derek who changes the honeymoon plans while Susan suppresses her disappointment (it was obvious from this point that this guy was an idiot). Before she goes in to get married Susan is hit by the mysterious object which stops glowing. She goes into the church and starts glowing herself, she gets bigger and bigger and ends up outside the church where the military are waiting and capture her. She is taken to a top-secret department headed up by W. R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland). There she meets the other Monsters who have also been captured. A Half Human Half Cockroach mad scientist named Dr Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link, a 20,000 year old fish ape (Will Arnett), B.O.B. (or Bob) A genetically altered tomato mixed with ranch desert topping to create an indestructible gelatinous mass – with no brain (Seth Rogen) and finally Insectosaurus, a Giant Bug even bigger than Susan, and who looks rather cuddly (Unable to talk but is mysteriously played by Conrad Vernon).

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Meanwhile a strange object lands near a romantic couple. The couple go and have a look at the site of the crash and are spotted by a giant eye. The military are brought in and the president (Stephen Colbert) arrives to have a look and attempt to make contact. While his keyboard skills create a response, the response involves the now identified alien robot smashing the keyboard. The robot goes on the loose and is resistant to all forms of firepower. The president and his team in a badly designed underground bunker try to find a solution. Monger arrives and gives his idea for a monster attack. The president agrees and so the Monsters are informed of what they will be doing and told that they will go free if successful. They then journey to San Francisco. Soon after arriving they are confronted by the robot, Bob gets stuck to it while Link swims into the city and Dr Cockroach messes around with a tam car. Susan escapes to the city where the giant robot takes an interest in her mainly because her power comes from the space object and the robot is sent by an alien who wants it. Susan is chased to the bridge when Insectosaurus turns up to battle the robot, however he gets confused by the bright eye light coming from the robot. Susan discovers her great strength and battles the robot and along with her new friends succeeds in destroying it. The alien who sent the robot plots a course for earth after the robot’s defeat.

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Susan along with her new friends return to her home in Modesto to see her parents and Derek. Her parents put on a party for her friends while she goes to see Derek. After just a few minutes everyone at the party runs away. Meanwhile Derek breaks up with Susan because he cares more about his career than her. Susan and her friends leave the town and Susan realises that becoming a monster is the best thing that has happened to her. She is then abducted by the Alien and Insectosaurus is shot trying to save her. Susan wakes up wearing different clothes in the robot hangar deck of the alien spaceship. She is met by the alien who imprisons her, however she manages to escape and runs after him, only to be caught again and have the power within her drained bringing her back down to normal size. The alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) tells of his traumatic life but is constantly interrupted by the cloning machine he is strapped to and then uses both the clone machine and the alien energy to build an army to invade the earth. Meanwhile back on the planet Insectosaurus is covered in a strange stringy material while the three other monsters decide to go aboard the alien spaceship to get Susan back with some help from Monger. They get on board, locate Susan and rescue her disguised (badly but somehow works due to the low intelligence of the aliens) as aliens. However the aliens discover that the three monsters really are monsters and go on the attack. The group break into the ships mainframe and thanks to Dr Cockroach’s PHD in dance manage to set the ship to self-destruct.

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Susan manages to get out of the room before the main doors shut but the other three don’t.  Susan goes to see Gallaxhar and manages to get her powers back and save her friends. They journey to the outside of the ship and are rescued by Monger and Insectosaurus who has turned into a butterfly. The group return to Modesto and are greeted as heroes. Susan gets revenge on Derek by flicking him into the sky before Bob breaks his fall (who also breaks up with him under the idea that he too is going out with Derek). The group of monsters then flies off to Paris to save the city.

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It is interesting to see how many references there are to sci-fi, alien and monster movies. Before the alien robot arrives, the young couple were parodying several monster alien movies from the past. However this time it is the man who is scared and the woman is the stronger (both mentally and physically) character. The scene usually plays out as a young couple in a car getting romantic and then the monster/alien attacks. However the references continue when the alien pod lands which is similar in some way to The War of the Worlds. Then when the president arrives he tunes the keyboard to the tune played in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Other references to such films include secret underground headquarters (that must have cost a lot of money but don’t explain how) as well as the film’s soundtrack.

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The films characters are a nice blend of both Odd and Interesting. The character of Susan is played nicely and brings in the sense of not knowing what’s going on, in a panic about where she is and the attempts she goes to, to be normal again. However in the end she embraces and accepts her new identity and makes some good while obviously odd friends. Dr. Cockroach is also well done and plays the part of more a mad scientist than a freak (his dancing scene is one of the best parts in the film, at least in my opinion). Bob is funny throughout while Missing Link is a very strong character in many ways and it does seem that he does not get enough scenes. But the real star for me is Insectosaurus. While not being able to talk, Insectosaurus looks Great (as well as cuddly) and his/her/it’s scenes are always a treat.

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Gallaxhar is quite nicely made and a well written part and has some of the most amusing scenes in the films, mostly when the scene involves his clones. His life story is quite amusing too, because he keeps on getting interrupted by his cloning machine. From what I have been able to make out his story goes along the lines of him being born and finding out that his parents belonged to some political faction or alien religion and did not like it so he went on the road with some giant alien and either met another alien who he married or married the giant alien and was happy until she probably wanted to have alien children but he did not like the idea and somehow this led to him destroying his home planet.

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But to me the best parts in the film belong to Monger and the President. The President is very funny as well as being a bit daft while trying to look clever. While Monger is very down to earth and serious. Mongers parts are not obvious, have a joke at him funny, it is funnier in the way he talks and what he says, while the president has humour thrown at him due to his actions. I would not really call this a Monster Movie as that would suggest that the all the monsters are Big; really there is only 2 that are taller than humans. However if I was to classify this film as a monster movie I may be right in thinking that this is the first CGI animated Monster Movie, but I classify this film more as an animated film though with Monsters in it. I just thought I would point that out.

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Overall Monsters VS Aliens is a thoroughly Enjoyable film and one of the best CGI Animated films in recent years. With a Great cast of characters, great visuals and an amazingly funny story; Monsters VS Aliens is a definite must see.

GENEPOOL








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