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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla x Kong
The New Empire

Director – Adam Wingard – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

*****

Godzilla must leave the surface world to team up with Kong in the subterranean Hollow Earth below to defeat a powerful enemy – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

The latest movie in the Toho / Warner Bros. Godzilla / Kong Monsterverse is globetrotting in scope, with scenes of monsters wreaking havoc in Rome and Rio; its central conceit is that Godzilla roams the surface of the Earth fighting off other monsters which humanity would be unable to see off alone, while Kong, reconceived as a similar size to Godzilla, lives in the subterranean paradise of Hollow Earth.

With one beast on the outer rim of the planet and the other in a world beneath its surface, there is no possibility one will run into the other, which fight would be devastating for mankind. To make sure the two monsters remain isolated from one another, the huge Monarch organisation monitors both constantly.

Yet a terrible force is on the ascendant in Hollow Earth, one that neither Kong nor Godzilla would be able to contain let alone defeat on their own. And so, to save humanity, they must join forces and fight it.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

Director – Bertrand Bonello – 2023 – France – Cert. 15 – 146m

*****

Required to expunge her emotions by the ruling AI of 2044, a woman with a sense of dread revisits her past lives in 1910 and 2014 and their incarnations of the love of her life – curious mix of art house movie and science fiction plays Glasgow Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, February 28th to Sunday, March 10th, and is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 31st

An actress (Léa Seydoux) against green screen rehearses a scene in a house – the director’s voice tells her where the stairs and other features are in relation to her position and marks on the floor. With these minimal visuals but with the addition of music and full sound effects, she works through the scene up to the point where she sees the terrifying shadow of the Beast on a wall and screams. Consciously or unconsciously, this echoes the screen test on the boat of Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in King Kong (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933) as she is required to scream at an unseen, gargantuan monster for the camera.

As in Kong, this scene anticipates one that will play out later in the film.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Junk Head

Director – Takahide Hori – 2021 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 101m

****1/2

A cyborg is dropped from the planet’s surface into its depths by his immortal but impotent masters to investigate the beings who have evolved in the levels below – feature length, stop-frame epic is out in UK cinemas on Monday, April 24th

More, I suspect, by accident than design, Junk Head looks and feels like the wandering little sister of Mad God (Phil Tippett, 2021). The latter was made by a top Hollywood stop-frame effects animator as a 34-year, independent, labour of love, the former by a Japanese visionary as a seven-year, independent, labour of love. Hori had worked on puppetry at Tokyo Disneyland and became obsessed with stop-motion, inspired by Motoko Shinkai’s one-man debut 2D animated production Voices of A Distant Star (2002). He made a half hour version Junk Head 1 in 2013, and used it as a building block to this version, which he completed in 2017.

The production mode of stop-frame can be a solitary one involving one person alone in a room with a camera and armatured puppets, the approach typified by Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, the bolexbrothers, Jiri Trnka, Kihachiro Kawamoto, the early David Lynch and many others – a single person or very small number of people producing the work, either complete films or stop-frame effects sequences within live action films.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shazam!
Fury Of The Gods

Director – David F. Sandberg – 2023 – US – Cert. – 130m

***1/2

Three Daughters of Atlas enter present day Philadelphia to repossess a staff which contains power that has been stolen from them; immature teenager recast as adult superhero Shazam! and his six superhero companions must stop them – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 17th

Something of an oddity in the DC Comics canon, Shazam! concerns Philadelphia teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who inadvertently absorbs superpower energy which enables him to transform into the adult superhero Shazam! (Zachary Levi) by merely uttering the word “Shazam!” However, despite the adult physique, he still thinks like a teenager. Outside of superhero life, he is one of seven orphans who, since the end of the original Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019), have had the same thing happen to them. So, seven children, seven superheroes. And their two put-upon foster parents, Rosa and Victor Vásquez (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews).

To be honest, I could take or leave the title character (as played by teenager Angel and adult Levi) but the other kids are likeable enough at least to the extent that their characters are fleshed out here… and some are fleshed out far more than others in the narrative.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Mothra
(Mosura,
モスラ)

Director – Ishiro Honda – 1961 – Japan – Cert. PG – 101m

*****

Giant moth attacks Tokyo to save fairies. Someone had a meeting about that.

You’d be forgiven for assuming Mothra (1961) a typical Toho monster movie in which a giant moth attacks Tokyo. Yet the film single-handedly redefined the genre much as the original Godzilla film defined it.

With a typhoon moving towards Japan, sailors abandon ship near Infant Island where Rolisica – an amalgam of Russia and the US – has recently tested nuclear weapons. Rescued survivors are tested for radiation sickness but no symptoms found. Two members of the press, reporter Zenichiro Fukuda (Frankie Sakai) and photographer colleague Michi Hanamura (Kyoko Kagawa) sneak into the team of scientists to take pictures and ask questions, learning the natives gave them red juice to drink. They report back to their editor (Takashi Shimura).

Clark Nelson (Jerry Ito) leads an expedition to Infant Island to find a jungle like Pathé’s for King Kong (1933) with man-eating plants, hostile natives and two telepathic, singing Shobijin (lit: ‘small beauties’) about a foot tall… [read more]

Full review at All The Anime.

Blu-ray available from Eureka!

Trailers: