Godzilla King of Monsters: Why do Americans Keep Trying?

Full disclosure, I grew up on Godzilla movies and have a soft spot for this genre, but Why oh WHY do American’s think they can make these movies? They just keep screwing up! First the Matthew Broderick debacle! What the hell was that one about? Now this series, and while it has made over a billion dollars worldwide for the studios I can help but feel they SUCK!

First we had the 2014 Godzilla movie that did not contain Godzilla. It was so focused on the human story that it panned away from every fight Godzilla had, barely showing any action. We got plenty of shots of the damage the Kaiju caused, but what good is that. In fact the movie was so bad I completely forgot everything about it and had to re-watch it just to write this much about it. And I had seen it twice before!

Next is the series is Kong Skull Island from 2017. This was an OK movie with a really cool looking Kong, but the story line really failed. Huge plot holes and some drag in the middle, I could not watch this one a second time. Sorry guys I tried and got too bored, and this one has giant spiders!

Then we come to our feature Godzilla: King of Monsters. While this movie definitely has more Godzilla (YEAH), it also has more of everything being two hours and two minutes long. I actually checked my phone a few times during the movie because it is too damn long. Learn to edit people! There was a lot that could have been cut. The Kaiju are now environmental warriors, this is Eco-terroism at its finest, what a crock! Sorry if I”m spoiling anything but this script was utter shit! I can’t begin to point out the holes or ridiculousness because it was garbage! While there may have been moments I enjoyed, Yes Ken Watanabe was great, Millie Bobby Brown did a fantastic job and is rising star. For a child actress she brought emotional depth to her scenes as she struggles with what her parents have done and the consequences of their actions. But it just wasn’t enough to make me care about everyone for the whole movie. I am a big baby and cry at most things I watch, I never shed a tear because I could not become emotional involved in a movie that never got me to give a damn.

I liked the monsters fighting and I loved Mothra, I have always loved him and seeing him fight was great, but the family crap got old fast and the twist there were too predictable. Every “twist” I had written down in my notes way before they happened, not a single surprise. Its one thing to make a two hour movie, it’s another thing to make one that feels like a two hour movie. Wait for this one to come out on a streaming platform so you can pause it. And then you can watch it just before, wait for it, Godzilla vs. King Kong the final installment in this four part series! If you want a better Godzilla movie watch

Godzilla King of Monsters (US Release Date 5/31/2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ven Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Aish Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Cinematography – Lawrence Sher
Production Company – Legendary Pictures
Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B12REtkl2KY

Brigthburn: Nature vs Nurture – what if Superman were bad?

Biologically speaking life is driven by the acquisition of resources with the least expenditure of energy and passing our DNA on to the next generation. We see this the most in parasitic creatures. They use others to do the work for them, even having other creatures parent for them while expending zero energy to get the resources their young will need to survive. It is a fantastic if harsh system for them if you are simply looking at the numbers. Cow birds sneak their eggs into the nest of other birds. Then their young are fostered, usually at the expense of their own children. This is because they usually hatch first and grow larger faster demanding more food and time earlier than the foster birds own children. Sucks, but at least mom didn’t out right kill anyone right.

Then there is the of world of the parasitic wasp. One parasitic wasp , H. argyraphaga, lays its eggs in a spiders abdomen where it will have lots to eat when it hatches. But not before controlling the spider from inside and forcing it to build a web of protection from the torrential monsoon rains it will sleep trough during its metamorphosis. When done with the web, the larva finish its meal, chucks out the spiders husk and spins its own pupa. Thanks mom!

Some parasitoids go inside ant nest and attach their eggs to the ant larva. Then they chemically disguise their eggs so they are accepted as ants. Even when it becomes an adult wasp the ants still treat it as an ant, feeding and grooming it until the chemical wears off and the adult leaves the nest to mate. Talk about lazy deadbeat.

Oh but It gets worse, There are even hyperparasitoids that parasitize the parasitic wasp! One wasp tracks the chemicals emitted by caterpillars infected by wasp larva and then lay their eggs on the larva already eating the caterpillar. These parasites are not the heroes however. They simply eat the existing parasites and leave then eat their way out of the caterpillar, emerging covered in viscera in their full adult glory! You see it is not just in their nature to kill, it is in their nature to take everything they need to survive and then destroy what raise them. Their life cycle cannot be completed with out the death of what raised them. It is with this glorious knowledge in mind that I watched Brightburn last night. (Yes I Studied bugs in college and I am complete nerd).

What does all this have to do with a superhero/horror movie you ask? Well slight spoilers follow:

The writers of Bright burn asked the question what if Superman was not a beneficial relationship with humanity (a symbiote) but instead a parasite? What if he did not start out with his powers, but instead was bullied in school? What if instead of getting advice from loving alien parents, his pod whispered dark thoughts? What if superman was a 12 year old kid? we’d be totally fucked right, or would loving foster parents be enough to save us in the end? The only hint we get to Brandon’s actual origin is a scene in school where the kids are asked about the difference between bees and wasp. Brandon offers that bees are pollinators and wasp are predators. Some are even parasites. This and some strange chanting are the only insights into what may be driving Brandon’s behavior. Is this nature, because nurture was very normal.

I loved the details put into the costuming, Brigthburn (he is called this because this is the town in which he first emerges) does not have a perfect costume like superman, but instead has manipulated his own blanket. What I like about it is the insect like face. It elongated his head and over time, because it was knit, stretched so the eye holes became rounder (like a bugs or wasp) and the shoe lace mouth he used to sew the front becomes very mandible like completing the look. They also furthered his otherworldlyness by altering Superman’s smooth flying movements and speeding up the framework. This made him harder to follow, he seemed to zip around and jerk from place to place much like and insect. They also added insect sounds to the foley work adding to his alien nature. All in all Brightburn is creepy as fuck

There is gore to his kills leaving no doubt that he is no superhero. Jackson A. Dunn does a fantastic job flipping from a smiling sweet young child to a disturbed boy with a major superiority complex. His coldness borders on the spectrum and I loved it. Matt L. Jones confrontation scene with Brandon was hands down my favorite in the whole movie, just the right amount of humor. David Denman did an amazing job playing a conflicted father with a horrible discussion to make and I felt awful for Jenifer Holland. Script choices aside, I believed her performance. I felt there could have been some tweaks to make the script better, but overall my audience was pleased. A few people even cheered and guffawed out right at the end. This movie balanced out the horror well with some great comedic moments and the general audience will have fun. Billy Eilish comes in strong at the end with “Bad Guy” giving the movie the perfect send off. Overall director David Yarovesky did an excellent job and I would go see this in the theater.

Brightburn (US release Date 5/23/2019)
Director: David Yarovesky
Writers Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Starring:Jacks A Dunn, Jennifer Holland, David Denmar, Matt A Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Gergory Alan Williams
Distribution Company: Sony Pictures
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0391pRUFIY

Captive State: A Political Thriller Disguised as an Alien Invasion Movie

On its face, Captive State is an alien invasion movie with very few aliens. It takes place in occupied Chicago nine years after Earth surrendered to an invading species of aliens we call The Legislators. Rather than be annihilated, we accepted their rule and they brought world wide peace, increased economic disparity and a world wide drain on natural resources. The movie focuses on Collaborators who help The Legislators maintain control over the population, and dissidents who are trying to fight back without weapons, world wide communications and a world wide monitoring system that would make any authoritarian government and modern day spy green with envy. Forget satellites, every citizen is tagged with tracking systems, we have world wide CCTV and birds are now monitoring people. Those of you looking for alien battles and  special effects blitzes will be disappointed, but captive state is a brilliant political thriller that just happens to be set in a science fiction setting. Its commentary on conspiracy theories, fake news, overreaching government, economic disparity and the responsibility of citizenship was fantastic. Will everyone get it? NO! In fact in the theater I heard two couples leave the theater saying, and I quote, “I don’t get it, you mean he was ______?”

The comparison to today’s political arena was not picked up on by these viewers. If they could not follow the plot the rest of the movie was probpably lost on them. I wanted to weep. I do not think this film is for everyone, but it was an intelligent script with something to say. The actors gave an excellent performance and it was not a whitewashed cast! There was just enough alien action to qualify the movie as a science fiction film and enough drama to keep the mind active. The twist at the end,will suprise some people. It’s well done and it’s message, “you have to choose a side” is on point. “Long as we fight back we got a chance,” sit back and just complain and we deserve what we get.

John Goodman as always does an excellent job playing a weary investigator torn between helping his partners son and hunting down the disidents before they go after The Legislators again.  Jonathan Majors and Ashton Sanders play two brothers with diametric personalities. Rafe the older brother, played by Majors, believes everyone must fight for the good of all. Gabriel plays Ashton who is in it for himself and believes in taking care of your own first! As these three try to negotiate the turmoils which arise as the dissidents plan gets closer and closer to implementation, tensions rise and loyalties are questioned.

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!

OK, so here is what I loved about this movie. Just as Zombie movies are used today in college courses to teach about political and cultural movements, this movie can be used to teach multiple subjects. The Legislators political power was a classic example of big government. A fear many people have today in this country. How far is the government impinging into our daily lives, how much control do they have. What do they have the right to monitor? The Legislators used methods we do not have, actual real bugs embedded in our throats that allowed the government to monitor where every citizen went and what they did. But many people worry about the government “bugging” our electronic devices and tracking our movements and activities. The first thing The Legislator did was to shut down the world wide web, cutting of global communication except through them. This cut us off and isolated the world into small pocket communities, except by dial-up. They also monitored all old social media accounts and gathered up all of our visual media to review. Why would they do this do you ask. Imagine what you learn by looking at the thousands of pictures and videos a person puts on their media accounts. You learn what they like, who they know and who they associate with. In this way you can figure out what groups of people may be working together. Intelligence gather at its finest. Paranoid yet? The Legislators also got rid off all weapons, making sure they were the most power full beings on the planet. An argument many NRA and gun rights advocates make against gun control. Oddly, without guns the dissidents are able to take down an entire alien facility. Perfect set up for arguing weather or not gun control legislation works. All of this was in the movie but I did not sit their thinking about it while I watched it, I just enjoyed it.It was not until after I saw the movie that I started thinking about everything. For days comparisons between this movie and our current state of affairs would just pop into my head. Am I thinking to deep into this film. Probably! But that’s the fun of it. Sometimes a movie just gets into you system and makes you think about more than the needle alien or the sound weapon they used. It has an impact.

The Legislators have set themselves apart from humans and limit access to only a chosen few. The only chance the disidents have now is to strike from within. Frontal assault on their facilities in the past has failed miserably. So by spreading conspiracy theories among the collaborators, using false leads and outright fake news they put one of their own into a position of power. A Trojan horse if you will. Their hope is a strike in Chicago will set off a world wide effort against The Legislators around the world. I won’t spoil anymore of the movie, you will just have to watch it.

Go see it now, bring a friend and prepare to discuss what you watched.

Captive State, PG 13
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors and Vera Farmiga
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Production Company: Participant Media, Amblin Partners
Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i68xCzI406A

Glass, An M. Night Sleeper.

M. Night Shyamalan is a writer and director who became most famous for the move The Sixth Sense (1999). His highly stylized sensibility, slow building dramatic style and ever present twist are for some a crutch used to make his movies seem better than they are. I however like the fact that he takes the time to develop true characters in his films. Most of his films, not everyone, are great (we will forget the last air-bender ever existed), have kept me engaged and made we want to keep watching the screen. They never rely heavily on special effects or gross out scares but instead engage my brain and ask me to care about the characters themselves. How refreshing.

This trend continues with Glass. We are reintroduced to the characters we met in Unbreakable and Split. Mr. Dunn and his son, from unbreakable are hunting the Horde from split. Dunn and his son have formed a team, working together to hunt small time thugs and muggers on the streets after the death of Davids wife. When news of The Hordes killings hit the news Dunn, known  in the News as The Overseer, he began hunting him. Meanwhile The Horde has kidnapped another group of girls, this time four cheerleaders.

Eventually Dunn finds him just as the Horde unleashes the Beast and a fight between these two adversaries ensues. During this seemingly evenly matched battle, they are caught by the police and a mysterious doctor with a strange strobe light machine takes The Beast down. Our two battling super-humans end up in a psychiatric hospital (filmed in Allentown State Hospital, Pennsylvania) under the care of Dr. Elle Staple. Also returning to the cast are Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the Hordes only surviving victim from Split, Mr Glass’s Mother (Mrs. Price)  played by Charlayne Woodward and of course the esteemed Elijah Price, Mr. Glass played by Samuel L. Jackson who has been in the hospital for the past nineteen years awaiting this very moment. McAvoy displays an amazing range as he brings out glimpses of all twenty four personalities The Horde is purported to have while interacting with both the staff at the Hospital and during sessions with Dr. Staple. Willis gives another understated performance as he begins to doubt himself and question his reality. Sadly Jackson remains comatose for most of the film.

As the final confrontation comes to a head it is not flashy but tense. The end has an inevitable twist that leaves you with more questions than answers. I will admit to a slight drag in the middle of the film and a disconnect in the message. The mysterious society is ill defined, are they government, uber rich, a secret group of highly placed individuals? We are never given answers. Are super-humans bad or good, we must decide ourselves I guess. We, like those at the end of the movie, are just left with the evidence of their existence.

So the true question is, should you see this movie in the theaters? Well? There are some excellent performances and the film is styled to perfection. Each character has a color scheme and is blocked out beautifully. If you love film than yes shell out the money and go enjoy. If you are looking for something that will transport you out of your world for a few hours, than no, pick something else. Do not get me wrong I loved this movie! But many patrons walked out of this theater to take calls. They were distracted, not transported. They were bored in the middle, waiting for something to happen.  This is a movie you can cozy up with in the digital media format. Wait for cable!

Glass US release date 1/8/2019
Director: M.Night Shyamalan
Staring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat
Production Company: Universal Studios