Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Muay Thai Warrior (2013)

Director: Nopporn Wartin
Notable Cast: Seigi Ozeki, Sorapong Chatree, Winai Kraibutr, Kanokkorn Jaicheun

The cover of "Muay Thai Warrior" claims the film to be a cross between "The Last Samurai" and "Ong Bak 2." Now, call me a sucker, but when you start talking about thoughtful historically set clash of worlds and relentless Thai ass kicking then you have my attention, people. Granted, I think that statement is perhaps a little forgiving of the film's many flaws, but it gets the jist of the film down. "Muay Thai Warrior" is, at times, quite a thoughtful and artistic look at the clashes of culture (in this case between Asian countries) and it certainly showcases some beat downs courtesy of the knees and elbows of Muay Thai trained warriors, but...and this is a rather big lacks a lot of the execution needed to truly blend the two into the tour de force that the cover art statement would indicate.

Yamada Nagamasa (Seigi Ozeki) has been left for dead by his samurai brothers in a vicious turn of events. To his luck, he is rescued by a small village in Siam and nursed back to health. Despite his foreigner status, he finds himself at home in the small peaceful village and strives to become a member of the community. To do so, he begins training with some of the warriors in their native martial art Muay Thai boxing to become a bodyguard to King Naresuan.

There is plenty of little things to love about "Muay Thai Warrior." The settings are lush and vivid with beautiful landscapes to set the scenes to and the acting from our handful of leads (with a particular nod to the lead Thai warrior who befriends Yamada, who seems quite able to throw down some fun intensity) seems to fit the style of the film with relative ease. The fighting focuses on the true techniques and combat of Muay Thai, unlike the more stunt focused work of the Ong Bak films, and it really shows just how cool the martial arts style can be. Director Nopporn Wartin also keeps the pacing nice and brisk for the film rarely letting its "historical context" slow it down too much which is a nice change of pace...pun intended.

Yet, these are all little things and too often "Muay Thai Warrior" falters to the bigger elements in making this film a success. One of them being the rather predictable turns that the film takes. I do not know the true historical context that the film lies in so I cannot judge it on its accuracy, but the film seems to follow a well treaded path with many of its plot progressions. Slightly under-built romantic subplot? Check. Rivals that become friends through mutual respect and hard work? Check. Eventual full circle appearance of baddies that lead to the events in epic showdown between leader and soldier? Check. You've seen this kind of film before and honestly, "Muay Thai Warrior" doesn't add enough depth to make it seem fresh enough to sell it. It's easy to digest, yes, but rarely trusts it's audience to take those daring leaps dramatic fair and brutal fighting it wants to go to but never fully embraces.

This is, of course, a foundational flaw that undermines many of the better aspects (the fight choreography, some great unexpected acting chops) and then director Wartin seems to want to add too much style into many elements that seems out of place. The score of the film can be overwhelming at times (and perfectly fitting at others) and the weird fight style choices can deter some of the great choreography. The odd speed up/slow motion tends to get tired after a while and the CGI gore is achingly obvious. I'll give it to "Muay Thai Warrior" that the fight sequences are the best part, but they might have been even better had Wartin stuck with a more realistic and straightforward style rather than the visual flair added later.

"Muay Thai Warrior" is a film that definitely has its moments of artistic thought with its lead character, strong combat work, and lush colorful visuals. It's also quite predictable, inconsistent in execution, and slathered in pointless style. It's a film that I desperately wanted to love, but felt strained to do so. It's a great story and any fan of Muay Thai combat will have to see it for the stunning choreography, but beyond that its going to be more of a martial arts genre fair than one that rises above that.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

If you are a fan of Thai film making or just want to see a plethora of pissed off Muay Thai fighters duke it out, then I highly suggest picking up "Muay Thai Warrior" for its March 5th, 2013 release from our dear friends at Well Go USA. Click the links below to do that, right now!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Excision (2012)

Director: Richard Bates, Jr.
Notable Cast: Annalynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, John Waters

After numerous recommendations from trusted allies to the horror brood, I finally got around to seeing the much hyped "Excision." Word on the street was that the film was ultimately unsettling and often quite intense and these claims are certainly spot on. Although the film takes on a more subtle and psychological form of horror than say a true blue blood and guts style, "Excision" unnerved me in many ways particularly when it came the realistic ways that it cut out the 'life' of our leading young woman. What I didn't expect was how effective it would balance its intensity with extremely dark humor...and how spot on that worked here.

Pauline (McCord) is slightly off. Her life as a high school student has been anything but perfect as she sits as an outsider to the popular kids and her home life is not a dream either. In fact, her overbearing mother (Lords) rarely even tries to understand her while the focus of the parents is on her sick sister Grace (Winter). It's through her sister and her delusional fantasies about blood and surgery that she devises a plan to make herself known to the world, a plan that might be more than she bargained for.

Yes, a delightful mother/daughter relationship of pure understanding.
It's relatively hard to capture a true synopsis of "Excision." The film plays out like an indie comedy that was doused in macabre and jacked on black humor, so it tends to play out like the 'slice of life' that I mentioned before. There is an artistic merit to the entire thing, particularly in how the plot progressions play out and the highly stylized horror dream sequences, and the film loves to play up the humor bits with a significant amount of dry humor and odd timing. This 'slice of life' style and the off beat humor make for a film that has moments of stunningly effective black humor that had me on the floor laughing.

Both compelling and gory! Now that's art!
Yet it's the impact of how disturbingly real the film felt that made it stick with me. The humor worked for me, but the counter balance to that humor was the horror of the film. It's not a traditional horror in most senses of the word. No supernatural serial killers. No monsters. No ghosts. The horror of "Excision" stems from the sense of reality that the film is built on. There are people out there with mental problems and social pressures (particularly young adults) where the problems go untreated and undiagnosed long enough to create some of the horrors displayed here. It felt almost too real at times. The thrown together cast, which does include some odd cameos from McDowell and Ray Wise, is so impressive that I was thrown off. Who knew Traci Lords could be as good as that and I definitely didn't expect McCord (who is known for her role on the new "90210") to be so unbelievably effective in the lead role. They add a sense of realism to the artistic direction and writing that really makes "Excision" hit hard with its disturbing horror traits.

This is what the new "90210" will do to you...
The main problem that tends to derail the entire experience is the lack of urgency for the writing and plot. In a way, it falls prey to its own 'slice of life' style that made the disturbing elements so effective. Rarely was a sure where the film was going and after an hour I didn't see where the end game would be. It's not until about the last 15 minutes did the path of the film show itself and by then it was a little too late to rescue the unfocused vision of "Excision." It's a film that just wanders a bit too much getting to where it needed to be for the truth of the film to hit home and that portion undermines the entire thing a bit too much.

"Excision" made its mark on my psyche in how it superbly blended dark humor, real life grounded work, and horror elements into a ball of disturbing right hooks. It's a film that does lack focus and urgency to get us to truly jump into the ride with full investment, but the end result did itch under my skin...despite its obvious flaws. This is a film that comes highly recommended as a true example of artistic thoughtful horror and I suggest taking a gander at it as soon as possible...if only to get one to think about how we treat one another.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Monday, February 18, 2013

Black Roses (1988)


“Black Roses” has found memories for horror fans from the VHS era as the original Imperial video box artwork was three dimensional and popped out, smacking potential renters right across the nose. It was a sight to behold but the cooler the box artwork, the chances are the worse the movie was and “Black Roses” proved just that. Sure it’s better than John Fasano’s previous heavy metal horror opus “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” as “Black Roses” actually has a script but it only marginally improved the results.
Black Roses is the hot new heavy metal band in the country and they plan to kick off their first tour in some small mid-western town. Their lyrics and stage act causes controversy with the adults in the area but they eventually give in. The problem is that “Black Roses” is a true satanic band and they start turning the local teens into demons that start killing off their parents. Now it’s up to a concerned teacher to send the band back to hell before they take the towns entire teen population with them.
The film starts off with a bang with our band in their demonic form performing on stage. The problem is the film can never truly became as interesting as its opening performance. The rest of the thin plot is just full of plot holes and inconsistencies and tends to drag between special effect sequences. The acting is a hair better than the dismal performances in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” but that’s not saying a whole helluva lot as you can’t get much stiffer than Jon Mikl-Thor.
The 80s metal music soundtrack, provided by legendary Metal Blade Records, is rather good with Lizzy Borden’s metal anthem “Me Against the World” headlining the pack (a great song from the album “Visual Lies” that I used to own on CD). Sadly the soundtrack and the poster artwork are really the only two good aspects of the film. “Black Roses” has a few unintentional laughter moments but they are too far in-between with the rest being a tedious plot hole mess. “Black Roses” is a product of the times when heavy metal music was a real concern among overbearing parents but people curious of this bizarre horror subgenre are better off hunting down “Trick or Treat”, a far more entertaining example.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Saturday, February 16, 2013

In The Name Of The King 2: Two Worlds (2011)

Director: Uwe Boll
Notable Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Natassia Malthe, Locklyn Munro

Since I just reviewed the first "In The Name Of The King" for my Statham marathon and I stumbled upon "In The Name Of The King 2" on Netflix streaming (which means I didn't specifically pay for this movie), I felt inclined to discuss this uncalled for sequel to Uwe Boll's fantasy action "epic" with you. Whereas the first film was a silly cluster of poor undeveloped ideas that was unintentionally fun, "Two Worlds" is a silly cluster of poor underdeveloped ideas that was just...awkward. Uwe Boll fails to really improve anything with this sequel, despite taking it in a slightly more darker direction, and the film fails to even provide the unintentional laughs to at least give the viewer a little bit of entertainment through its SyFy Channel look and feel.

Granger (Lundgren) has been living a solitary life of deep regrets. As a former Special Forces operative, he feels the loss of his fellow soldiers weighing down on him and seemingly drifts through life. When a mystic portal to an ancient medieval time (maybe universe?) opens and he is whisked away, Granger finds himself aiding a King (Munro) to rid his world of a plague ridden evil clan who plan on taking their plague into Granger's time. Will Granger be able to shake off his shakes, strap on a sword, and kick some ass?

"When do I get paid?"
As an action film buff, it's hard not to feel some excitement at the fact that Dolph Lundgren is in this film. Unfortunately, he is completely awkward in the role and seemingly has no intent in doing even a half ass job here. The acting is horrendous and Lundgren might be the biggest culprit, but even his supporting cast seems to be on autopilot and it makes the ridiculous story (a time traveling warrior in an unknown place? How cliche...) seem even less intriguing than normal. The writing certainly doesn't help either as most of the dialogue comes off as forced or silly and the plot progressions seem content in not building any kind of suspense or fun atmosphere. They throw in some random connections to the first film, like claiming that Lundgren is the true king as he is the long lost son of Farmer (Jason Statham's character from the first film), and they try to create this mystery intrigue by throwing around this idea that the good guys are actually the bad guys and vice versa. Nothing seems genuine in its intent though and the lack of connection to our hero (or anyone for that matter) makes the film drag on as our investment into the story is limited.

"Does this outfit make me look idiotic? Yes?"
That's alright though! We watch these kinds of movies for action! Even "In The Name Of The King" had random bits of kung fu and ridiculous battle sequences to entertain! Too bad "In The Name Of The King 2" doesn't even have that going for it. Despite its attempts to inject a few action sequences here and there, the low budget and half assed attempts by Lundgren seem to undermine anything that would have worked. If it wasn't for the occasionally humorous one liner delivered, most of the action has no pay off as either cool or relevant here. Even the silly CGI dragon is often head-scratchingly used in the final act and the hand to hand combat seems too quick and poorly choreographed to be pulse pounding in any way.

I actually thought the idea for the dragon was cool, but it wasn't used to its full potential.
Boll normally entertains despite some horrible choices as a director, but too often "Two Worlds" comes off as too serious and the execution within the confines of its budget are shaky at best. Lundgren seems more interested in the pay check than the character or story and the action is unmemorable and often poorly staged only for the film to end in one of the most awkward ways possible that feels completely unresolved. It's hard for me to say this, but dammit - this film is worse than it's predecessor. That says something.

BLOODY TRIVIA: A quote from Dolph in Empire magazine: "It was an experience, it wasn't exactly my taste, but I did it for other reasons. I was getting divorced at the time and I needed some cash quickly to pay for a few things... lawyers."

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Taken 2 (2012)

Director: Olivier Megaton
Notable Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija

Luc Besson may be the king of ridiculous action films filled with shiny charm and silly characters, but "Taken" took it to the next level. It was smart, intense, and all of the normally illogical elements seemed to actually work together to create a whole action film that rose above its parts. "Taken 2" is essentially none of that. Luckily, I knew going into it that it was directed by Olivier "Shake, Edit, And Roll" Megaton, who has proven previously with "Transporter 3" and "Columbiana" that he can't direct an action sequence to save his life, and thusly I lowered my expectations. It didn't help that much. "Taken 2" is still a seriously inferior entry into the series where the thrills are often rushed, illogical, and barely watchable.

Bryan Mills (Neeson) has re-established a connection with his daughter (Grace) and his ex-wife (Janssen), when she starts to go through a very rough patch with her current husband. As an ex-CIA operative of the highest caliber, he takes up jobs of security where he can and he offers to meet them in Turkey after one of his jobs to take a holiday from real life. Too bad the father (Serbedzija) of one of the men he killed in pursuit of his kidnapped daughter has it out to make him pay...

Liam Neeson might not have a lot of tonality to his speaking voice, but who needs that when you are like seven feet tall and carrying a gun?
You know what, I actually kind of like the idea behind "Taken 2." I appreciate the fact that it sincerely relies on the audience to know and understand what occurred in the first film and there are some fun moments in its plot progressions that certainly tickled the franchise whore in me. The problem, generally speaking here, is the execution...which ranges from complete lack of coherency (using grenades to locate by sound?) to abysmal missed opportunities to take it to that next level. Story wise, beyond its concept, "Taken 2" is horridly rushed as it simply brushes over much of the family dynamics to get us to the action. Not that I have anything against the first act feeling like a Lifetime movie...oh, dammit, yes I do. I really do have a problem with its really cheesy dialogue about driving lessons, torn marriages, and new boyfriends who are drastically underdeveloped. The foundations of the film might be just as cliche as the first "Taken", but dammit they just don't have the solid acting and direction to make them work. Without a foundation, what can Megaton build on?

Despite a bigger role, she has less depth in this film.
Which brings me to Olivier "Shake, Edit, And Roll" Megaton. I seriously don't understand why Besson continues to use him. The guy fucked up "Transporter 3" and took a rather charming Statham and made him seem cartoonish. He does the same thing here with Neeson. I'm not one to complain when Neeson shrugs off the ridiculousness of his luck and decides to kick ass. In fact, I'm all about that. Yet, in "Taken 2", I was relatively bored with the entire thing. Even the surly voice and general awesomeness of Neeson couldn't save this film from mediocrity as he (and the entire rest of the cast) seemingly phoned in their performances and seemed as uninterested in the story as I was.

Then to ice the cake, Megaton decides to go all Greengrass on the direction of the action sequences. Quick edits, wicked fast zooms and close ups, and shaky cams ruin any kind of flow these action sequences can gather and, despite the sheer amount of action the film has, you never really see any of it. The car chases, the hand to hand combat (with a sequence of baton battling that could have been awesome), and the gun fights all rush by in a flurry of jagged edits and poorly crafted pacing. To be honest, both of the substantially underused villains of the film (how could you really not use Boris The Sneaky Fuckin' Russian to his full potential as a villain?) seem to fall to Neeson in ways that I couldn't understand. I'm pretty sure that Neeson face palms someone to death. I'm not sure how he died. He just palms his face and BAM! Dead! Maybe it's because I haven't watched the unrated version yet. Nonetheless, Megaton has no ability to create tension to make the action worth the time and the end result is rather...boring.

...he dodges bullets, Avi.
Even with lowered expectations it was hard not to be consumed with disappointment in how far "Taken 2" fell from the original. It was horribly directed with half assed performances and the action was barely watchable despite some great ideas. There was potential in the film with its idea and a great casting for the villain, but here I am ragging on it for not reaching any of it. As a franchise whore, I sincerely hope that Besson takes it to "Taken 3" and fixes his mistakes. Or better yet...make a "Transporter" and "Taken" crossover film where they have to team up and drive around kicking everyone's ass...starting with Megaton.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Monday, February 11, 2013

High Road to China (1983)


All but the most die-hard fans today have seemingly forgot that Steven Spielberg’s first pick to play Indiana Jones was Tom Selleck. Selleck, all gung ho to play the part, couldn’t get out of his contract with “Magnum P.I.” (an earlier flash of the Pierce Brosnan "Remington Steele" / "James Bond" fiasco) so the part went to Harrison ford and the rest is history. Selleck was burned that he couldn’t play the role so when the script to “High Road to China” came calling, an obvious Indiana Jones inspired film, it seemed he could gain a little redemption and though not near the results of Steven Spielbergs now legendary film, “High Road to China” proved he had the charisma and screen presence to make a rollicking good adventure hero.
A spoiled rich bitch (Bess Armstrong) has a little problem… it seems her Daddy (Wilford Brimley) has disappeared deep in the heart of China and if she can’t prove he’s alive, his greedy business partner will have him declared legally dead and thus she will lose all her millions. In a desperate attempt to keep her high profile lifestyle, she hires a burned out drunk WWI bi-plane pilot (Tom Selleck) to locate him… but it ends up being a job from hell as assassins are on their tail the entire way.
Though an “Indiana Jones” film in mold, it’s unfair to say it’s a complete rip-off. First of all the supernatural elements of Jones’ world are all but missing but that doesn’t mean one can’t have an enthralling adventure film without the threat of the demons and ghosts. So Indy fans looking for a competent replacement might be a little disappointed by that fact. What we have here is a hero on par with Indiana Jones as he’s a flawed loveable guy and Selleck plays this character perfectly. One moment you hate him with his misogynistic attitude towards woman and the next he has a heart of gold that somehow shows through his Grinch-like heart.
The romance is also heightened compared to his more popular cousin Indiana Jones as the love/hate bickering relationship between our two leads is loveable and playfully annoying at times. They have chemistry together and what’s more important than that for our leads to be romantically inclined. This love/hate relationship between the two is well balance between the action sequences and the action is well choreographed and entertaining, even if the plot is a little thin.
Of all the films to emerge in the same mold after the success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “High Road to China” is easily the best I have come across (Sorry “King Solomon’s Mines”!). Tom Selleck proves that he had what it took to create a loveable adventure hero and the film boasts impressive action set pieces to contrast the romantic subplot. The plot may be a little thin at times but the high caliber cast and likeable characters make it easily forgivable. After watching the film it just begs the question “what if…” when it comes to Selleck actually being able to take the role of Indiana Jones. For years this was one of the most highly anticipated films to be released on DVD and thanks to rights issues between Warner Bros and Golden Harvest being resolved it has finally been unleashed on DVD and Blu-ray from Hens Tooth Video.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)


Toho was not shy by announcing they were going to kill off Godzilla in this twenty-second entry into the franchise. They had just recently licensed their legendary character to Tri-Star pictures for an American remake and they thought it necessary to kill him off to make way for a possible U.S. version of the series (this plus the series wouldn’t degenerate to shear stupidity by going on too long much like the original run of the franchise). Due to this Toho went all out making this final entry (for the time being) one of the most entertaining of the bunch, especially with the new ‘meltdown’ look of Big G and introducing one of his nastiest villains yet.

Godzilla appears to be having a serious problem. Apparently his heart is like a nuclear reactor and it's starting to meltdown. If this fallout occurs it could destroy the world. While frantically trying to figure out a solution, authorities are faced with a new problem when small crustaceans in the sand affected by the oxygen disintegrator that killed the original Godzilla in 1954 begin to mutate, eventually merging together into a hellish creature called Destoroyah. Can the japs help destroy this demonic looking beast while at the same time saving the world from Godzilla’s nuclear meltdown?
The look of Godzilla is absolutely astounding and I can’t imagine how difficult it was to create this “meltdown” version of the suit. Portions of the suit glow orange as well as constant smoke pouring out of its pours. It had to be insanely uncomfortable for the stuntman but the on-screen results are mesmerizing. The new Destoroyah creatures are also hellish looking and the sequences where our creatures attacking authorities resembles more of a horror film. The final merged version of the creature even looks like the fucking devil! To top it off Godzilla’s son, in adolescent form, is actually starting to look like his pop… and about fucking time!
“Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” was a fitting end to the “Heisei Era” of the franchise and it rounded things out beautifully by tying so much of the plot into the original 1954 “Godzilla” film. The new villainous monster was straight out of the mind of H.P. Lovecraft and the meltdown version of Godzilla was a blast to look at. It almost brings a tear to one’s eye to see our big guy finally die but fans knew this wouldn’t be the last they’d see of him. They all knew the American remake would fuck things up (and it did) so the true Godzilla would make its rightful return on the Japanese big screen, where he belongs.

TRUE Godzilla would return in “Godzilla 2000” (forget that crummy 1998 American remake).
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987)


Aka "The Edge of Hell"

The Satanism scare of the 70s spilled over into the 80s when a relatively new rock music subgenre known as ‘heavy metal’ started to become insanely popular with the main stream crowds with its dark lyrics and imagery. It wouldn’t be long before this hysteria of fear from parents scared their children were going to become cloven hooved worshippers of Beelzebub would inspire a number horror-themed movies. Being a huge heavy metal fan myself, as well as horror movies, it would only be natural for me to take interest in the short-lived heavy metal horror craze. Of the films in the interesting little subgenre “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” was one that was recommended to me all time, even above the genre pioneer “Trick or Treat” film. After viewing “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” all I can say is that if this is one of the best films the subgenre has to offer then I’m in really trouble.
The non-existent plot reminds me a lot of “Monster Dog” with Alice Cooper… and any connection to “Monster Dog” is NOT good. We have a heavy metal band called Tritonz that travels to a reclusive farmhouse to record their new album that just happens to be a gateway to hell, or something like that, and soon the band members begin to die off.
The film literally has NO script. It’s as if director John Fasano and star / Canadian metal singer Jon-Mikl Thor had a little too much pep in their step and decided to make a movie with only a loose script outline on a cocktail napkin. Due to there being relatively NO script the film is full of filler, such as long van drives cutting to an ominous farm house every few minutes, extended shots of the sky, extended scenes of our band playing below average metal music and long, drawn out boring sex scenes every ten minutes. All this dreadfully boring filler is tied to together with a sloppy narrative.
The ‘acting’ is also irrhensible but I can’t blame the cast as they relatively no script to work from. The ‘special effects’ also leave a lot to be desired and bring to mind works from the Jim Hensen factory and the little one-eyed demons totally remind me of something living on Sesame Street. The film finally comes alive in the last 20 minutes with a plot twist that will sure to make any movie fan hit the floor laughing, too bad it was such a chore to get to that point.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” is nothing but an hour and a half excuse for Jon-Mikl Thor to make an extended music video for his metal band Thor. The script, acting and directing is all non-existent. Sure the ending is bad movie classic material but it’s such a damn shame it was so dreadfully boring getting to that point. “Trick or Treat” was a much more entertaining example of the small heavy metal horror genre (not to mention far more professionally made) but director John Frason wasn’t done dabbling in heavy metal horror by helming “Black Roses” the following year, which only slightly bettered the results.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Friday, February 8, 2013

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)


I knew it would be too good to be true. Toho was just pumping out too many good films too fast for it to last forever and the one film a year tight schedule finally caught up to them. The lamely titled “Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla” just fell victim to a hurried production resulting in a tired story of total redundancies. Either that or watching all these damn Godzilla movies in a row is finally wearing down by brain function.
A Japanese team part of the ‘G-Force’, which includes that psychic chick that’s been a reoccurring character since “Godzilla vs. Biollante”, have a new plan. Since they can’t kill Godzilla they decided to try to control him so they shoot a transmitter at the base of his skull in hopes our psychic chick can influence him. Of course it doesn’t go as planned and problems are made worse when a new monster, “SpaceGodzilla”, emerges and its up to a new human controlled robot called Mogra to help Godzilla destroy this bastard clone of himself.
SpaceGodzilla, despite it’s dumb name, is actually a rather cool creation from Toho. It’s a mean looking Godzilla clone mixed with crystals and the result is rather magnifying. How he was created though is fucking ridiculous. The film offers two far out explainations; the first being Mothra carried Godzilla cells into space and they mutated in a black hole and the second is Biollante shot Godzilla cells into space with the same outcome. I’m all for accepting a lot of sci fi mumbo jumbo from the Godzilla series but this is just lazy. Also to top it off the events of “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” erased Godzilla from history up until that film so Biollante would have never existed!
The new look of Godzilla’s son was also too damn childish for my taste; it just brought back awful memories of Minilla from the original era of the franchise. He’s not Philsbury Dough Boy bad but only a step above that. Is it really that fucking hard to make him look like his Papa? Also Mogra, the dorky giant robot from “The Mysterians”, is just a lame stand-in for the Mechagodzilla. Why not just rebuild Mechagodzilla for this sequel instead of introducing this silly carbon copy?
“Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla” lives up to its dumb name by easily being the worst of the “Heisei Era” of the “Godzilla” franchise. SG looks pretty cool with its crystals worked into the suit but the explanation of his arrival and his destructive efforts are lame and repetitive. The whole film just feels rushed with nothing new or creative introduced into the story. Hell the rushed production even affected Godzilla as there is even a scene where his tail breaks! All this mixed with the new childish look of Godzilla’s son just left a sour taste in my mouth. I do have to admit, much like the other entries into the “Heisei Era”, the poster artwork is pretty damn cool… much better than the actual film.

Godzilla will return in "Godzilla vs. Destorayah"
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)


Aka "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla"

Despite not getting theatrical or even video releases in the U.S. (until many years later) Toho was on a role making a Godzilla movie ever year in the early 90s by successfully “remaking” sequels from the original run of the franchise. This “remaking” was running into problems with titles as many of these sequels in the “Heisei Era" of the franchise had similar or even the same titles of the films that came over a decade before. This explains the odd title “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II” as at first glance this title makes it look like a direct follow-up to the 1974 film “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla”… which it is obviously not. It was released in Japan as simply “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” but American audiences would no doubt get it confused with the original film so it was re-christened “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II” to differentiate it but this new title even brings on problems of its own. It’s confusing, I know, but don’t let this titling mess detour one from seeing this entertaining entry into the franchise (the twentieth overall) as Toho reinvents one of Godzilla’s most badass villains.
Recovering the remains of cyber-Ghidorah from the ending of “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah”, scientists use the futuristic technology and weaponry to build Mechagodzilla, mankind’s main defense against the horrors of Godzilla. A subplot of the story has a team discover an egg on a tropical island (also home of Rodan) that hatches to bring forth Godzilla’s son (I know what your thinking but trust me it’s not like Minilla in “Son of Godzilla”). Discovering that Godzilla’s son has a second brain in its lower back (I shit you not), the military team devise a plan to rid Godzilla for good by striking him in his Achilles heel.
The interesting switch-up Toho did with this sequel is the role reversal of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla as this time MG is the good guy! The problem is since he’s the good guy this time around the look of him is far less menacing than his 70s counterpart. Godzilla’s son, on the other hand, is a BIG improvement over the Pillsbury dough boy look of Minilla in the original series. This time he actually looks like a reptile! Rodan also gets a nice update and it’s great to see a classic monster like him re-introduced into the franchise.
“Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II” is strong entry into the franchise with Toho being on a role of good sequels (which would soon come to and end). Re-introducing Mechagodzilla was a welcome surprise and the twist of having it be the ‘good guy’ was brilliant. Sure the sequel has some science fiction mumbo jumbo, like the eyes of Godzilla’s son glowing red whenever he is scared, but what Godzilla film doesn’t – it’s become part of the loveable formula! This should rank high on lists for Godzilla fanatics.
Written By Eric Reifschneider