Thursday, November 30, 2023

Horrors in the Aftermath: Godzilla Minus One (2023) Review

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

Notable Cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada, Munetaka Aoki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Sakura Ando, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Mio Tanaka, Yuya Endo, Kisuke Iida, Saki Nagatani


At this point, we might be in one of the best ages for Godzilla. As a long-time fan myself who used to watch Godzilla Vs Megalon on repeat on a shitty VHS tape, it’s truly a golden age. Just in one year, we have a new Godzilla TV show on Apple+, a new Godzilla/Kong film, and the topic of this piece - the latest Toho Godzilla stand-alone story, Godzilla Minus One. It’s so much content it’s hard for my heart to hold it all in. 


Godzilla is the word. And the word is spreading, even in the US. 


Despite Godzilla’s dominance in newer US films, TV, and video game appearances, it’s hard to deny that a new Toho Godzilla film isn’t the most exciting thing from the kaiju franchise. Even though Godzilla Minus One is essentially remaking the original Godzilla film at its base, the participation of director/writer/visual FX guru Takashi Yamazaki and strong initial marketing hyped this film to a new level. Could it hold a candle to the strength of the last Toho Godzilla “reboot,” Shin Godzilla? Could it tell a new story with Big G in a way that could still be exciting?


The standing ovation that Godzilla Minus One received at my theatrical screening says in its own deafening Godzilla-like skreeonk, abso-fuckin-lutely. 


Saturday, November 18, 2023

With Our Powers Combined: The Marvels (2023) Review

Director: Nia DaCosta

Notable Cast: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Lewis, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Park Seo-jun, Lashana Lynch


Although I was overly optimistic about Captain Marvel initially, I’ve cooled quite a bit on the film since its release. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has struggled to figure out how to use the character in any kind of exciting way outside of being a deus ex machina-esque plot device in Avengers: Endgame. Yet, the Disney-led Marvel machine seemed intent on creating more layers around the character by introducing two other Marvel-style characters, Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan, introduced in the Disney+ Marvel series WandaVision and Ms. Marvel, respectively. 


Thus, powered by the synchronicity of the MCU, we are now delivered with Captain Marvel 2. Oh, I’m sorry, it’s called The Marvels and not Captain Marvel 2. A film where Ms. Rambeau and Ms. Khan join Captain Marvel to take on the latest threat of world-ending sky beams powered by a villain with a semi-relatable cause in a spectacle-driven blockbuster. You know, it’s a post-Avengers MCU film through and through. 


Yet, don’t let my inherent sarcasm in that last statement dissuade you from this one. While the MCU has undoubtedly struggled to be consistent in recent years, The Marvels is a shockingly fun and loose ride that moves like lightning, warts and all. After the abysmal garbage fire that Marvel released under the title Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, maybe The Marvels feels like it's worth its weight in gold, but it’s a film that finds a pop and energy that makes it move like it has places to be. 


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Don't Touch That Dial: Late Night with the Devil (2023) [Telluride Horror Show 2023]

Directors: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Notable Cast: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Georgina Haig, Josh Quong Tart, Christopher Kirby, Steve Mouzakis, Gaby Seow, Michael Ironside


A dedication to the gimmick is always a welcome change of pace from the usual mainstream, overly noted-film fodder. Late Night with the Devil, the latest film from directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes, is absolutely dedicated to its gimmick.


It starts like a documentary about a fictionalized 70s late-night talk show host Jack Delroy. Then, it quickly becomes a “lost” television show episode where wild, horrific events happen to Jack and his guests. It’s found footage to a certain degree, but the choices around replicating the style of a 70s late-night show fully embrace the gimmick to an impressive end. Embracing its style with vigor while delivering a building tension and underpinned dramatic sadness makes Late Night with the Devil one of those cinematic experiences that sticks with you. 


Does its narrative always make sense with its intentional style choices? No, but goddamn, is the ride for Late Night with the Devil worth taking.