Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Movie Review - X-Men: Dark PhoenixThe X-Men Universe, produced by 20th Century Fox,  had a twenty year run. Now that it’s over, they should be applauded for the influence they’ve had on the superhero movie genre.

Fox movie assets are now owned by Disney. That means the X-Men can, at some point, be wrapped into the MCU with the Avengers.

Dark Phoenix was produced before the Disney purchase. It was intended to be a bridge between the previous X-Men Universe and a newly imagined X-Men Universe with a new and young generation of mutants. Instead it stands as an unintended swan song to the X-Men as we know them. Which makes it a shame it had to end with such an underwhelming effort.

The Dark Phoenix story is an absurd mess. Let’s start with the villain… Okay, I’m not even sure where to start with that. Never has a superhero villain been so poorly imagined. Vuk, played by Jessica Chastain, has barely more than a cameo role. You wouldn’t even know the villain’s name except it’s shown just once in a subtitle. Even Xavier himself refers to the villain as: that thing, that woman, I don’t know what.

And what do we know about that “spark/solar flair” thing? We get one line of exposition from Vuk: “It’s the spark that brought life to the universe and now goes around destroying planets, including my own.”

What? How does that even make sense? Lazy storytelling much?

Who’s the Villain, Really?

Maybe Vuk and this spark/thing aren’t really the villains. Maybe Jean Grey is the villain. Which could have worked brilliantly if they hadn’t introduced Vuk/spark in the first place. Take the entire alien storyline out and just build up Jean a little more. There’s plenty of material there for us to relate to in our everyday lives, as an “internal demon” takes over a loved one and how their family copes with it, and then reconciles their feelings.

That’s what the X-Men have always represented: family. But in Dark Phoenix they tried to have it both ways, which drowned all the potential this movie started out with.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: The movie is full short, choppy, scenes that made it difficult to get good Peetimes. The 2 best Peetimes are the 3rd and 4th. Both work well, but are only around 3 minutes long.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class

A Godzilla Newbie Watches King of the Monsters

godzilla rodan king of the monsters
Rodan erupts in Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Having not seen any of the previous Godzilla movies, I’m not sure what I was expecting going in to see this 4th film. I had no notion what was coming, other than ‘large monsters destroying cities’. The beginning of the movie does a fair job filling the viewer in to what’s going on, but there could have been more, I thought. Once it got going, however, it was a nonstop thrill ride.

The sheer plethora of monsters was very satisfying. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidora were joined by other unnamed monsters. These Titans, as they’re called, could be the Earth’s destruction or salvation.

It all depends on which scientist you ask. A corporation of scientists by the name of Monarch nominated itself the keeper of the monsters. However, the government wants the military to control this group.

Then a threat comes from an outside and unexpected source.

The special effects were fantastic. The Titans came alive on the screen. It reminded me of the first time I saw Jurassic Park. Those dinosaurs were believable, as are these monsters. The fight scenes are very satisfying. Add in the military’s weaponry and you have yourself a recipe for a spectacular bout.

The script is a bit rushed. It seems as though the producer really just wanted those Titan scenes, and everything else was a means to get there. Revelations are made, but the viewer is given no chance to digest the information before we are thrown into another battle. It’s all just treated as filler almost.

Which is sad, because the film has a great cast that are mostly overrun. The only two who leave a lasting impression are Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai) as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as Madison Russel. Even the “bad guys” are just blah.

Overall, the film is a fun ride if what you’re looking for is a good action movie with great monsters. Just don’t expect to come away with something intellectually thrilling.

Grade: B

Our Modern Godzilla – Grading Legendary’s Monsterverse (plus Godzilla 1998)

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Every X-Men Film Explained

Dark Phoenix marks the 12th film in the X-Men franchise.  While there is still one more X-Men film in the can, this will be our last journey with this set of characters.  Now that Disney owns both Fox and Marvel, they will supposedly reboot the franchise at some point and make it part of the Marvel universe.

Until then, all signs point to Dark Phoenix being the natural conclusion of this chapter of the franchise. As we prepare to say goodbye, here’s a brief primer on the first eleven films to help refresh your memory.  

 

The Original Trilogy

  • X-Men   The movie that introduced the X-Men characters to mainstream audiences.  Charles Xavier — founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters — and his fellow peace-loving mutants, try to stop Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants from mutating world leaders to bring about worldwide acceptance of mutants.    

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Charles Xavier (aka Professor X), Magneto, Wolverine, Rogue, Mystique, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm,  Sabretooth

  • X2  (AKA X-Men United) Heroes and villains work together to stop Wolverine’s creator, William Stryker, from using Cerebro as a weapon to find and kill all mutants.  

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Nightcrawler, Iceman, Pyro, Lady Deathstrike

  • X-Men:  The Last Stand  The first attempt at telling the Dark Phoenix story from the comics.  A drug company found a cure suppressing the mutant gene. This divides the mutant community.  Magneto reforms the Brotherhood and with a resurrected Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix form at his side, declares war on humans.  A final battle between the mutants ensues in San Francisco.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Angel, Beast, Juggernaut, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Callisto, Multiple Man

The Wolverine Trilogy

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine   Wolverine’s origin story.  We learn more about his relationship with William Stryker, how he got those adamantium claws, and why he doesn’t remember his past.  This is the only movie where Gambit appears. Ryan Reynolds plays a weak version of Deadpool in this film and doesn’t even get to use the character’s trademark sarcasm.  (He redeemed this in his own feature film later.)

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Gambit, Deadpool , Blob, John Wraith, Chris Bradley, Agent Zero

  • The Wolverine   After the events of The Last Stand, Wolverine returns to Japan to protect a friend’s granddaughter.  

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Yukio and Viper  

  • Logan  Wolverine and Xavier, now old men, try to protect a young girl with powers similar to Logan’s, in a world on the brink of destruction.   

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Laura

The New Trilogy

  • X-Men: First Class  A soft reboot of the franchise.  New actors play younger versions of the characters.  This is an origin story for several X-Men characters including Mystique, Magneto, Beast, and Charles Xavier, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  We find out why Xavier is in a wheelchair.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Emma Frost, Azazel, Havok, Darwin, Sebastian Shaw, Banshee, Angel Salvadore, Riptide

  • X-Men:  Days of Future Past   Wolverine goes back in time to 1973 to stop the mutant-killing Sentinels from being invented.  This movie unites the cast from the original trilogy with the cast from First Class .

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Quicksilver, Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, Warpath

  • X-Men: Apocalypse   The first mutant awakens after thousands of years and puts together an apocalyptic team to create a new world order.  Xavier and Mystique must find a way to stop him.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Apocalypse, Psylocke, Jubilee, Caliban

Deadpool Duology (And Once Upon A Deadpool)

  • Deadpool  The origin story of Deadpool.  Deadpool seeks revenge on the man who disfigured him.  Woe to the man known as Francis.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Ajax, Angel Dust

  • Deadpool 2  To honor the memory of a loved one, Deadpool tries to save an orphan mutant from time traveling soldier Cable. 
  • There’s even a PG-13 version! <— With 15 minutes of new scenes! Read our review of Once Upon a Deadpool

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Domino and Firefist

 

The final X-Men film, The New Mutants, is slated to finally get a theatrical release next April.  Previous trailers suggest it will have a different tone than other X-Men movies and may even be a horror film.   As the title suggests, it will not feature Wolverine, Magneto, Mystique, or any other mutants we’ve come to love, but rather will feature a new cast of characters.  

Whether you need Peetimes for the latest superhero movies, need to know if there’s anything after the credits, or just want to stay up to date on the latest movie news, RunPee has you covered.  Follow us on Twitter @RunPee. Get Peetimes from our app to avoid missing the best parts of your favorite movies including Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Toy Story 4, and Men in Black: International.

 

Is Deadpool in the Avengers’ Universe?

Movie Review – Logan

Movie review : X-Men First Class

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

Movie Review – Once Upon A Deadpool

Modern Godzilla Movies – Ranking The Monsterverse

I’m not a die-hard Godzilla fan, but I’ve gone on a bit of a giant lizard binge-watch lately. I’m happy to admit Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best one yet.

Not only did the big beasties get plenty of screentime, but the people plots didn’t entirely suck.

People and entire cities can be megafauna fodder in disaster films, but there also has to be a thoughtful human element where you care — even by a small margin.  Modern audiences demand this, and rightfully, because otherwise you’re essentially watching a long, expensive video game. The previous Godzilla films in 1998 and 2014 plunged into that category — but worse — because boring human drama was shoehorned in to pretend those movies had plots. (Except for through-actor Ken Watanabe — more on him later).

Skipping right to said monstrous animals…

The Big Four Beasties of Godzilla: King of the Monsters

  1. Godzilla — With some new glowy skills and a few adjustments to his appearance, he looks great and is a pleasure to watch in action. Unlike in his 2014 Monsterverse premier, he’s onscreen early and often. Two paws up!
  2. Mothra — She’s my favorite critter.  And….she’s beautiful (think Lunar Moth). Mothra has some very unusual abilities, and isn’t as fragile as expected. I’d love to see her as a mount in some multiverse for Spider-Man. (“There’s a Ant Man, a Spider-Man, AND a Moth!?”)
  3. (King) Ghidorah — Very cool dragon/hydra rival to Godzilla, and even amusing (those heads scrap at each other!), but I’m not happy with his origin-story. That came out of freaking nowhere and felt like the writers couldn’t find a better hinge to hang their new ecosystem from. IDK. Maybe King Ghidorah actually is from [redactated for spoilers] in the legends.
  4. Rodan — The least interesting fellow. I felt bad for Ghidorah stealing his thunder. Rodan came off as a second-string player to give Mothra someone to fight. Someone give this guy something better to do some time.

2014 godzilla breathing fire

And the rest: There was an assortment of junior-grade creatures to fight (17 all together, including Kong on Skull Island), but we only catch them in random moments. One was like a spider; another was a sort-of mastodon. I’d like to see Part Four elevate these guys at the eventual “monster-off” on Skull Island.

The Big Four were great fun. Fab effects, with nice twists and turns in their near-sentient reactions to each other. If the carnage felt too far away and too meager in films before, we got lots and lots of satisfying spectacle this time around.

The People (AKA Happy Meals on Feet)

Lots of goofy one-liners and paper-thin human characterizations populate this over-run Titan world. The father/mother push and pull dynamics have been done and done and done in almost every disaster film. The soldiers do soldiering. Bad guys do ‘badding’. There’s a gratuitous cameo from the previous film. Next, please? 

Finally, we see a couple of grace notes: Ken Watanabe lends his wise gravitas for the sake of actual world-building, and teenage Madison (Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things) provides enough cleverness to make us want to see her live. (This girl can act with her eyes — her career might be worth following). Smart people living/dying tends to get us in the feels, and they carry the human story better than the other modern-era Godzilla people.

Ultimately Watanabe gets a long-awaited beautiful moment with ‘his God’ to show (not tell) that co-existence means salvation.

But it’s all rather small and can’t compete with the big battles above. I appreciated Watanabe’s arc and was just grateful the franchise went somewhere lovely with it.

Godzilla vs The Technobabble

The Orca is a MacGuffin: everyone wants it. The writers did a decent job making said Orca quasi-logical, but the tech is the weakest point of the story. Except for the cool larval Mothra intro, the Orca could have been canned  entirely for something better…for something only hinted at here and there, in terms of ecology, spirituality, and legends.

There were also the expected bombs, subs, planes, and faceless soldiers. Fortunately Gz 2 learned from Gz 1 to keep most of this in the background.

And the least said about the [redacted] Earth Theory, the better. I can buy that in a fantasy film. It felt out of place here.

Let’s try something new with Godzilla. Or old. Just do it well

I still can’t shake the feeling the entire Legendary Monsterverse is riding on the reptilian coat-tails of the Jurassic saga. I kind of wish they would make up their minds to go ALL IN with the coexistence theme (instead of referred to by newspaper clip credits, a storytelling device best used in WALL-E ), or go ahead — take that massive risk about Earth-cleansing and the starting anew theme and sprint with it. Planet of the Apes went there, so this isn’t unprecedented for sci-fi premises.

So, Is Kong in the next Godzilla movie?

Speaking of Apes, yes, Kong is name dropped many times, with a few quick visuals, a blink-and-you-miss it cave painting, and many Easter egg allusions to lead into 2020’s Monsterverse finale: Godzilla vs Kong. I don’t want them to fight though. Aren’t they both “good guys’? Fingers crossed this works out satisfactorily. (And stay through the end credits of King of the Monsters for a possible hint.)

I genuinely liked this Godzilla movie. I wanted more Mothra, but overall, can’t complain.

Grading the modern Godzilla and Monsterverse Flicks

Looking at RunPee’s scores for ‘modern-era’ Godzilla movies, and including Kong: Skull Island as part of this Monsterverse, movie grades have been heading up a steady incline (please click the links to read our reviews on RunPee.com):

1998 Godzilla : D

2014 Godzilla: C

Kong: Skull Island: B-

2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters: B

This bodes well. Maybe the finale to the Godzilla/Kong quadrilogy will hit the A range. For a disaster film, that would be quite a feat. We’ll find out next year. Keep replaying Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla remix to stay excited.

Related, on RunPee:

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Godzilla End Credits Song Remix By Serj Tankian

Blue Oyster Cult is probably most famous for their song Godzilla.  It’s a must if you want to set the mood for seeing Godzilla: King of the MonstersBut, better yet, give a listen to the remix by Serj Tankian that plays in the movie as the credits roll.

 

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review - Godzilla: King of the MonstersLet’s face it, no one watches porn for the plot. Two barely dressed women order pizza and minutes later a buff young man knocks on the door. You know what happens next.

Likewise, no one watches mega monster movies expecting Inception level plot twists. We watch to see monsters eff each other up and lay waste to a cities the way politicians lay waste to the truth. Based on that criteria, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is completely satisfying and ends with a “money shot” worth the price of admission.

My primary gripe of Godzilla 2014 was that there weren’t nearly enough Godzilla fight scenes. This sequel rectifies that in the first 30 minutes of the movie.

Leaving the theater last night, I was hovering in the B+/A- range grade for this movie. However, after a little thought, I’m backing off to a solid B, only because — while I just said we watch these movies for the monster fights — it should would be nice if the scenes between could prop the movie up, instead of drag it down.

I didn’t care if any of the characters lived or died, other than perhaps Madison, the daughter. Everyone else was as disposable as pizza toppings. In fact, I was sort of hoping Dr. Stanton, played by Bradley Whitford — the sarcastic smart ass from West Wing — would get killed, so he would stop delivering nothing but cheesy lines. Not that Bradley is to fault. He did his job wonderfully, but I suspect he was on-set begging with the writers to give him just one line that wasn’t purely for exposition or a smart ass comment.

I know I said at the beginning of this review that plot in a movie like this is completely irrelevant, but that’s not completely true. It is of vital importance to the rewatchability of a movie. Right now I have no interest in watching this movie again, unless it’s just to fast forward from one monster fight to another.

I realize that “rewatchability” is highly subjective. That being said, this movie lacked the playfulness of a movie like Pacific Rim

Movie Grade: B

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Rewatch Review – A Look Back at The Hunger Games Series

The Hunger Games, My current favorite franchise. Again…

Last night I wasn’t in the mood for TV. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a movie, read a book, play the PS4…On a whim, I started the Vudu app on the fire stick and browsed my digital copy collection. When I saw the cover for the first movie, I knew I wanted to rewatch the Mockingjay saga almost instantly.

The Hunger Games is the first book series I read before seeing the movies. The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone led me to read the books, which is where I developed my love of books. But Harry Potter doesn’t get to hold the spot that Katniss Everdeen does. Suzanne Collins’ books led me to the movie, in this case.

I remember reading the scene of the reaping. Imagining the crowd, the peacekeepers, the bowls filled with names.

I remember seeing this scene, almost exactly as I’d pictured it in my mind, on screen for the first time. I remember getting choked up when Prim’s name was called, and when Katniss screams she’ll volunteer.

That scene still hits me today. Even more so now, than then.

The sets of the districts, the Capitol, the arenas. Amazingly done, and the CGI holds up today. The screenwriters, directors, cast, and crew all did great jobs translating page to screen. I can even forgive most of the changes.

The casting of Jennifer Lawrence was perfect. She brought Katniss to life, in a way that is perfectly believable. She’s a normal person that wants to live and let live. To keep her head down and survive. When her life is torn away, she only wants to survive and return to some sense of normalcy.

Or course, she doesn’t get that wish. She truly didn’t want to cause the rebellion, the war. She just wanted the game makers to honor the rule change they made, and let Peeta be a victor by her side. To let them both live in peace.

Who among us could do what President Snow demanded in the second film? To calm the districts and end the uprisings? To convince him that she loved the boy she kept alive, when she wasn’t sure herself?

Maybe those of us that are a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit more connected to the real world. But who of us at the age of 17?

Not me. That’s for sure.

Then she became the face of the war. The voice, the moral compass, the hero. Still, not because she wants to be. But because she is continually being forced to do something she never wanted. But she clenched her bow and made a deal. Rescue Peeta and the others, and she’ll rally the troops.

In the end, when the lines get blurred, when enemy and friend aren’t clear, she makes another choice. Another choice that lands her in hot water again. Also a choice that keeps her, and those left that she loves, alive.

Katniss Everdeen, and Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of her, is a hero done right.

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Thanos SnapNOTE: Spoilers start right away for Avengers: Endgame.

Although it’s a beautiful moment in Avengers: Endgame when Dr. Strange‘s portals opened and The Vanished step back into existence, the sudden return of all these people is very problematic.

Let’s assume for a  minute that Strange’s sorcerers planned ahead and saved all the people in planes from falling from the sky, teleporting them to safe landings. And so on for any Earthly or cosmically-based beings whose sudden reappearance would mean imminent death. I mean, if Strange can look into 14 million + lifetimes in the course of moments, I’ll buy that he planned ahead for these literal car-wrecks, and many other contingencies too.

Captain America returned the Time Stone to the Sorcerer Supreme’s custody at the end of Endgame, so The Ancient One and Strange have an infinite amount of time to make sure the Endgame strategy didn’t cause a brand new Decimation.

But what then? What happens after The Snap is Unsnapped?

When the Infinity War saga finally ends and people try to go home, where do they go? It’s been five years. That’s quite a bit of time. Most people won’t have homes to return to. What happens when you find your house/palace/apartment/shack occupied by other people? What are the legalities of this? What would Judge Judy do? We have no precedent to fall back on. It’s not like people weren’t paying their rent because they lost their jobs — they were literally snuffed out and in of existence.

And as for returning to their families, that’s a can of worms even Ant-Man can’t open. When Hank Pym brought his wife back, he hadn’t moved on. Hope grew up in the interim, which was fine, but Janet was a welcome addition, not an interloper to someone’s new family. Hawkeye might now be five years older compared to his wife and kids, but he still had their house and hadn’t moved on either.

So — best case scenario for those returned is their loved ones pined away for half a decade, and now have huge mental traumas to process from living in the post-Snap world. Best case.

Worst case: their loved ones suddenly (from their POV) have new mates and children and are stuck with no one to help them re-assimilate into society. I doubt our world governments (outside of Wakanda) will do much besides creating homeless shelters and long food lines. Jobs will be gone. Society’s infrastructure won’t run right for years. The aftereffects of this kind of world-wide/universe-wide event should reverberate for at least a generation.

How does Spider-Man: Far From Home deal with the new reality?

This barely touches on the problems inherent in the Avengers’ plan to “bring them back, whatever it takes.”  Spider-Man 2: Far From Home (coming out this July) will delve into some of this. Far From Home is the last film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three.

Honestly, I don’t see how Far From Home can do these issues justice. Sure, they will make some nod to the problems in the beginning of the film. But keep in mind this is a SPIDER-MAN movie, with all the humor and hijinks we expect from Peter Parker & Gang (all conveniently also Snapped, and thus still in high school).

Spending the entire next blockbuster showing how people will be housed and fed and have their property returned wouldn’t be much fun.

This video raises some good questions about how our planet would deal with the return of billions of people, and even touches on the deep items of religion and spirituality that would be affected when our understanding of death is irrevocably changed:

PS: Black Panther 2 – Who is King in Wakanda?

One great side question asked in this video: who’s been running Wakanda for the past five years? I always assumed Shuri would take up the mantle, until it was revealed in the Endgame trailers she was Snapped too. And if someone like M’Baku became King, are there any heart-shaped herbs left to give him Black Panther powers? Either way, does T’Challa automatically become King again (heartfelt Endgame coda aside)? Let’s assume Black Panther 2 deals with this. It’s going to be hard to make that interesting, since the first Black Panther movie already tread this ground in some detail.

Related Avengers Articles on RunPee.com

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Did YOU Survive The Snap? You may as well get this over with…

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

Movie Review – Doctor Strange

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

Movie Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

Black Panther – Does Killmonger Have a Point?

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

1998 godzilla title card
Tell this Godzilla to go go GO.

I really don’t want to make this a long review, since the movie’s trash and it’s not worth a lot of my day.

I say all this in advance and with apologies to Matthew Broderick, who’s a fine actor. Broderick is always adorable, and can normally pull a film out any mire it might be stuck in. Imagine LadyHawke without Mouse. It would be an overblown, floofy, brain-bashing melodrama with seriously depressing leads and minimal dialog. Broderick MAKES this movie. And he makes Ladyhawke a personal favorite of mine. I cry at that one day/night scene every time, but it’s only because Mouse keeps me in such good spirits, chatting with God, crawling in sewers, and being a lovable character throughout. You don’t even notice the bizarre 70s rock track. 😉

Wait. This is a Godzilla Review?

Back to 1998 Godzilla, which you can see I don’t want to talk about — sorry. I saw it in theaters in the day, and remember thinking, “Hmmmm, lousy ripoff of Aliens and Jurassic Park.”

Then I saw it again last night. I wondered if I’d been too hard on it in the past, so scrolled it up in preview preparation to the new Godzilla sequel out this week (2019). And what did I think?

More of the same, with a bonus: “Lousy ripoff of Aliens and Jurassic Park, but with endless hours of running and shooting in the rain!” I guess I was more tolerant of that back then. FX have come a long way, and we don’t need rain to hide the seams anymore. Yet I can forgive 2 & 1/2 hours of pouring rain if the PLOT WAS BETTER.

I watched this with my mother and we both agreed on two things (and we never agree on anything): 1.  Shooting bullets at Godzilla wasn’t working, so why did we have to follow the military around trying out new ways to shoot it…over and over…? Answer: filler.

2. And. We felt really bad for Godzilla and the babies. These aren’t monsters — they’re animals. Big ones. Looking for food and procreating. The better ending would have been finding a way to bring poor Godzilla to a (sizeable) animal sanctuary. Teams of happy conservationists and scientists would give body parts, vying to care for this new life-form.

Godzilla would have hot and cold running fish, and a carefully applied form of birth control to keep population levels stable.

Gremlins too?

Oh, and problem 3. Having the babies act like overgrown Gremlins wasn’t as  funny as the producers must have thought. (Oooo, another classic movie to rip off — they can fight over popcorn!)

Lastly, the slowly dying heartbeat sound at the end wasn’t remotely earned, unlike with King Kong, which was always intended as a tragedy. Here, there’s no “It was Beauty that killed the Beast” (goosebumps just thinking about it). As the Aliens Space Marines Corps once said, Godzilla was a ‘bug hunt.’ To its detriment.

How to fix Godzilla for Modern Audiences

I can’t say the 2014 remake is a work of genius (still too much padding with planes and guns) but it’s a world of better. With the Broderick version, I’d say there are two movies going on. One is decent, and human, and has a moment where the lead connects with the beast. The other is what the fast-forward button was made for. In a 2 and 1/2 hour film, excising an entire hour would make this watchable. My other issues (1, 2, 3…4?) remain, but it would be a tighter, more watchable experience, focusing on the human element and not illogical plot points that test the viewer’s patience.

Clearly, the Industry still has no idea how to handle Godzilla. Less bombs. More worry about animals we are now responsible for, in our hubris. More how to handle a brave new world that includes unintended creatures of mankind’s folly (the nuclear annihilation of South Pacific Islands).

Jurassic Park itself touched on these issues, but didn’t bring home the yummy carnivorous bacon. I think it’s time to move past Monsters As Bad and say, “We did this. Now what are we going to do about it?”

Movie Grade: D

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie review: Aliens

Movie Rewatch – Jurassic Park

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

2014 godzilla breathing fire
A pot-bellied ring of fire…

Did this movie do Godzilla right? Yes,  better than the previous Godzilla. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? (It isn’t.)

The 2014 Godzilla HAD to be an improvment over the  1998s  Matthew Broderick mess, just to even things out. But I’ll save that for its own review.

In case you find the concept of reboots confusing, consider Godzilla’s long past as a remake, a reboot and a reimagining, all at once. The overgrown lizard suffered many iterations since his first appearance in 1954: including a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, stop-motion photography figures, men in heavy suits, comic book images, rock star subjects, and was even the subject of video games. Sometimes he’s a hero, and sometimes a menace…although with anyone that massive, collateral damage just happens.

godzilla ruined city
Collateral damage is a bitch.

At this point the makers of Godzilla are knee-deep in what they call a Monsterverse. 2014’s Godzilla was the first in this shared universe, and the story blows past Kong: Skull Island, and on to a multi-mega-monster-lineup in 2020.

But what about the 2014 Godzilla in the Monsterverse series?

I enjoyed this in a nice-to-have-on-in-the-background sort of way. Having just seen Avengers Endgame after many viewings, I was super-sensitive to each time a character said, “Whatever it takes,” (which I think was 4 times in Godzilla). And it didn’t take long to notice poor Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) once again didn’t have anything important to do.  Instead of looking mad while running, here she looked scared while running. What happened to those scarlet Infinity Stone blasts, girl? Would have been ‘handy’ – no pun intended.

Unfortunately, her role here, like every human but Ken Watanabe’s, was filler. Even the main soldier, who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, was only there to show off some giant blue trembling Elijah Wood Hobbit eyes. Why are there even people in this Godzilla? Oh, right, to add human stakes (steaks?) to the story. This isn’t a Pokemon Smackdown after all.

Bryan Cranston lent some welcome personality at first, but after spouting off meta-jokes like, “That was NOT a Transformer…” (heh),  the torch was inexplicably passed to the aforementioned cute young actor. Once the egg cracked, no one did anything you haven’t seen at the cineplex dozens of times over. For international world-spanning human tension you can slice your hands on, re-watch Arrival again. Then come back here to see really big bugs eat subway trains like churros. Make your own movie!

I’m sorry I’m not treating this review with more dignity. It really does have worthwhile bits in between shots of pesky humans staring like deer in the headlights (or running full tilt too late to make a difference).

Godzilla images over the years
Every Godzilla ever. Enjoy.

The Monsters looked pretty good, though.

But the monsters were creatively designed, which are presumably the reason you bought your ticket. Like all good monster flicks — Jaws, Jurassic Park, Aliens et al. — the producers withhold the glamour shots until a good part of the film is underway. Part of the fun lies in imagining the huge beasties.

What’s nice here are the pay-offs, when they arrive.  Godzilla and his nasty parasites are on full display. It’s not like in 1998, where blinding rain purposefully obscures 3 hours of film.

I liked the heroic Godzilla as a creature a whole lot, tubby profile and all. I feel like he had to be a rolly polly oil barrel to stoke that kind of fire.  He also felt right with his triple spined back, beady (yet caring) little eyes, and a tail made for whipping. He seems almost intelligent.

And he looked great underwater.  I loved the scenes where he swam between the two aircraft carriers. Humans and man-made radioactive lizard — working together on one goal. This Godzilla is a lover, not a fighter.

So, how to grade 2014s Godzilla?

Looking good isn’t a reason for a high grade, unless you’re watching Avatar. Non-stop action is just exhausting — and for today’s more discerning audiences, boring. Running and screaming as buses fly around & tension high-wires go down went the way of the dinosaur (ha, sorry) in the disaster-porn film era of the 70s.

Want an example of how to do big-stakes disaster-flicks the right way? One word: Titanic. Or look to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which we at RunPee always grade on a curve.

This could have been a better film, and I’m sad we can’t find a proper starring vehicle for Godzilla yet. We have the tech now (even the esteemed Andy Serkis consulted with WETA on the motion-capture work). So we can make it look good. Why can’t we find the right director — and a proper cast ensemble — to make us CARE?

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Grade: C

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

The Animated 1978 Godzilla Cartoon – Lyrics & Video