Another month, another Hollywood blockbuster about giant monsters going apeshit on urban population centers! If you told me 5+ years ago that Hollywood tentpole movies were going to veer off into kaiju country this consistently I would’ve told you “I wish!” But yet here we are!
Rampage the movie deviates from its inspiration (the 1986 arcade classic of the same name) in big, obvious ways. Gone are the cartoony monsters, replaced with more down-to-earth looking giant animals. The carnage and chaos are still there, but you won’t see Rampage’s big screen monsters eating people off of toilets or flapping their arms to stay airborne like their pixelated predecessors.
Even with these large-scale changes, Rampage the movie still takes the time to pay tribute to the beloved old kaiju-themed quarter muncher while delivering a satisfying and, no shit, surprisingly heartfelt monster mash. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it stars Dwayne The Rock Johnson, one of the most insanely watchable human beings to ever live and a big budget special effect in his own right. HOW does Rampage come out of nowhere and pull all this off? Stack up some quarters and keep reading!
It’s crazy to think that it’s been nearly five years since Pacific Rim debuted in theaters. While it got a middling-to-positive-ish reaction from mainstream audiences and critics, it spawned a small diehard cult following and made a big ol’ splash overseas (mainly China).
As for me, I loved it (with the exception of Charlie Hunnam’s inexplicably lame performance) and eagerly kept up with news of a sequel (or really any kind of follow-up–I take it the proposed animated series was shit-canned?). As the years wore on, the sequel (temporarily named “Maelstrom”) looked less and less likely to happen, and with the excitement for Godzilla2014 (and its associated MonsterVerse) building, I wrote a second Pacific Rim off as a potentially cool movie that we just weren’t likely to get. Fucking Grown Ups 2 beat the original at the box office, after all.
But Wanda Group and John Boyega have cancelled the apocalpyse, snatched Pacific Rim Uprising from the gates of Development Hell, and launched it into theaters last week! But is a Pacific Rim without Guillermo del Toro in the director’s chair really a Pacific Rim at all? Find somebody that’s drift compatible, initiate your neural handshake, and make sure you’re war ready, we’re re-opening the breach!
Since I’ve started MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD in 2014, something wonderful has happened: a new kaiju/giant monster boom in mainstream moviedom on both sides of the Pacific. Maybe “boom” is too strong a word considering that superheroes still maintain their box office dominance, but since I’ve started the blog, mon-stars have come back in a (heh) big way. There have now been three new Godzilla movies (the reviews for the other two are here and here), a new Kong flick, Ultraman is slamming out top-notch series, Pacific Rim did well enough to spawn an upcoming sequel, and we’re even getting “me-too” movies like Power Rangers, Colossal and Rampage. Maybe it’s not a full-on monster boom, but it’s certainly a hearty, bassy rumble. (One that will include Gamera sometime soonish? Please!?!)
MERRY (belated) MINYAMAS EVERYONE! Minya, the Son of Godzilla, the Prince of the Monsters turned 50 last month! I kicked off the celebration of this auspicious occasion here, but of course I knew that wouldn’t be enough!
Since I’ve already reviewed Minya’s debut film there was really only one choice for my MINYAMAS movie review: 1969’s Godzilla’s Revenge (or All Monsters Attack in Japan)! Revenge is debatably an even Minya-er movie than Son of Godzilla and it has quite a reputation within the hardcore Godzilla fan community.
Which is to say, a lot of people hate it. I’ve always disagreed with Revenge’s naysayers, but this most recent viewing has absolutely solidified it as one of my favorite entries in the entire series. That’s not me being a contrarian wiener or pimping some clickbait bullshit, I just really love the sweet goofball soul of this incredibly unique little movie.
Round up all your vacuum tubes, get ready to fight your own battles, and force yourself to fall asleep, because we’re taking a psychedelic imagination-jet to Monster Island!
Against all odds (and my best intentions), Galgameth is getting a two-part review. Like my previous two-part review for Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, it’s not that I have millions and millions of brilliant thoughts to share with you about the film, I just kinda… ran out of time last month. It’s a little embarrassing, but my doctor says it’s perfectly normal and it happens to plenty of virile, healthy bloggers all the time and it doesn’t make me any less of a man!
If you missed part 1 or just need to relive my brain breaking over the seemingly endless connections Galgameth has to the 3 Ninjas cinematic universe, click here!
I’m excited to knock out the rest of this review because 1. the movie gets significantly better (but still not like, awesome) from where we left off and 2. so I can hurry up and dig into more MINYA content for MINYAMAS (get your first taste here if you haven’t already!). If anything, Galgameth is a potent reminder that it’s very easy to accidentally make your “cute” mini-monster an irritating butthole. If Minya is the endearingly derpy Santa (or, uh… Jesus?) at the heart of Minyamas, little Galgameth is the horrible Krampus terrorizing us before we get there! Crack open a wine barrel and grab some iron to munch on, we’re finishing off Galgameth!
For the majority of the year, I cover movies and shows from Japan and Hollywood. That’s just where most kaiju and giant monster films and TV comes from. But every once in a great while a different country steps up and says “Hey man, we got a monster too!” and I love that shit. It’s exciting to get entries in the genre from somewhere besides Hollywood and Japan, and the results vary from complete schlock to low-key modern classic.
This month I’m reviewing 1996’s Galgameth (aka The Legend of Galgameth or The Adventures of Galgameth), a Romanian/US co-production that lands right about in the middle of the schlock/classic spectrum. It’s a loose remake of North Korea’s Pulgasari, giving it yet another layer of… internationality (holy shit that’s actually a word?!) So what happens when the story of Pulgasari gets remade in the mid-90s, filtered through a couple more cultures and directed by the renowned auteur that mounted 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain? Read on to find out!
Japanese films (and TV shows!) dominate this genre that I love so goddamn much, but it started here in the good ol’ US of A with King Kong, and filmmakers around the world have chipped in with their own unique contributions (like Norway’s excellent Troll Hunter!). But before Godzilla’s classic sequels and cross-over films rightfully solidified him as King of the Monsters, Hollyweird was cranking out all kinds of mega-monster movies! 1957’s The Amazing Colossal Man is one of ’em!
It doesn’t have Eiji Tsuburaya‘s sprawling, meticulously crafted monster suits or miniatures, nor does it have Ray Harryhausen‘s astonishingly lifelike stop-motion animation. So what’s it got? Bert I. Gordon’s low budget ingenuity and a whole lotta elbow grease! Mr. B.I.G. (his actual nickname) never birthed the next Kong, Godzilla, Gamera, or even Them! but his oeuvre still left a mark on the 50’s monster moviescape. Nobody really talks that much about The Amazing Colossal Man, but it undoubtedly paved the way for the much more famous/beloved Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, was spoofed by Honey I Blew up the Kid, and was lovingly homaged (along with other atomic horror classics like The Fly) in the forgettable Monsters vs. Aliens.
All that, plus no director has been MST3k’d as much as he has! So uh… go him? AND it was his birthday last week! Dude’s still alive! Slap on your adjustable sarong and we’ll talk about his movie!
The on-going experiment of reviewing the entire original Ultraman series has been an awesome ride, but it also has the weird side effect of pushing everything else back. I didn’t even review a Godzilla movie until we were halfway through the year! When Godzilla gets pushed back, of course Gamera also gets pushed back.
But no more! This month I’m checkin’ in with everybody’s favorite turtle titan by reviewing 2006’s overlooked Gamera the Brave. It’s an incredibly heartfelt little monster movie that sidesteps the continuity of Shusuke Kaneko’s prior, terrific Gamera trilogy (I’ve reviewed parts 1 and 2!)… while still kind of paying homage to it! It’s a fresh take on the character… that also feels like a spiritual successor to old school Gamera too!
We’ll dig into all that, plus GMK Godzilla’s secret presence in the film, Optimus Prime’s audio-only sorta-cameo, how it inadvertently spawned some obnoxious clickbait, and a whole bunch of other shit! I hope you’re feeling (the) Brave friend, because it’s gonna be A BANG UP WORK (62)!
Let’s correct that right now! Between Ultraman and Mothra I’ve been living and breathing 60s golden age kaiju action, so this month I’m reviewing 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Gimmick CGI! Time travel! Evil white people (which stirred up enough controversy to temporarily kill the series Stateside!)! This was almost a Mothra movie (co-starring fan-favorite “lost” monster Bagan!), a King Kong movie, and a Mechanikong movie! Back to the Future II directly inspired this flick (writer/director Kazuki Omori even said so!)! Ghidorah like you’ve never seen him before (or since!)!
And that’s still just a sample of the delightful (if ultimately pretty uneven) madness in this very 90s entry in the Godzilla series. We’ll talk about all that, plus the most direct (and pulpy!) Godzilla origin ever filmed, and maybe most importantly: M-11’s off-brand Terminator shenanigans. Fire up the Delorean, shit’s about to go bonkers.
How the fart have I not reviewed the original 1961 Mothra yet? I’m correcting the fuck out of that oversight in honor of “Mothra’s” Day last Sunday. Mothra is easily Toho’s biggest mon-star other than Godzilla himself, and that’s got a ton to do with how awesome and original this movie is.
This isn’t just another big bug movie, it’s a groundbreaking genre film that brought wild fantasy and colorful adventure to the kaiju formula and put the monster’s motivation and personality front and center.
It’s also a beautifully shot, well acted, tightly plotted, fun, funny piece of classic kaiju fiction with some eye-popping action setpieces and visuals. I’ll talk about all that, plus the scrapped (heh) plane crash ending (and the suicide scare it caused!), the serialized novel the movie is based on (sort of???), the fact that it’s a stealth King Kong remix, and MOOOOORRRRE!!!