Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla
King of the Monsters
(2019)

Director – Michael Dougherty – 2019 – US – Cert. 12a – 132m

***

Fantastical, giant creatures Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan battle it out on land and sea, leaving cities devastated in their wake – in cinemas from Wednesday, May 29th 2019

Warner Bros’ latest effort in their strategy to create a self-contained universe out of Toho’s Godzilla and his accompanying trademark monster characters to rival that of Disney’s popular Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes is a mixed bag. On one level, it’s a hackneyed family story involving a couple splitting apart with their daughter caught in the middle, a plot not of the slightest interest to fans of Godzilla who aren’t paying to see a family drama. On another level, it’s a thinly veiled excuse to recreate Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan and others with state-of-the-art, special effects technology and have them fighting against one another, at which aim it succeeds handsomely. In passing, it delivers facile, one-line ideas about nuclear war and global warming. Finally, it wants to explore the iconography of these extraordinary creatures, but scarcely knows where to begin. They are great properties, but you can’t help but wish it was directed and produced by people with a stronger visionary sense.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

Director – Bertrand Bonello – 2023 – France – Cert. – 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

The Boy And The Heron
(Kimitachi Wa
Do Ikiru Ka,
君たちはど
う生きるか,
lit.
How Do You Live?)

Director – Hayao Miyazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

During WorldWar Two, a boy bereaved of his mother moves to the countryside with his businessman father where a heron lures him into another dimension to rescue his vanished stepmother – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 26th

Directors, eh? They make their last film, then, some time later, they go and make another one. The Wind Rises (2013) was supposed to be Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, but three years later, he was working on his next one. And seven years further on, The Boy And The Heron hits cinemas. The Japanese title How Do You Live? comes from a popular children’s novel, a copy of which appears in the film, rather than the film being an adaptation of the novel.

Three years into World War Two, young boy Mahito (Japanese dub: Soma Santoki; English dub: Luca Padovan) loses his mother in a Tokyo hospital fire. Four years into the war, his father (Japanese dub: Takuya Kimura; English dub: Christian Bale) – a businessman who manufactures aircraft cockpits for the war effort – decides to move both his factory and his son out of Tokyo to the countryside where he plans to marry his late wife’s younger sister Natsuko (Japanese dub: Yoshino Kimura; English dub: Gemma Chan).… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla Minus One
(Gojira -1.0,
ゴジラ -1.0)

Director – Takashi Yamazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

Japan, defeated and demoralised after World War Two, must somehow defeat the seemingly unstoppable menace of Godzilla when it rises from the depths of the ocean – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 15th

World War Two, Pacific theatre. Unwilling Kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) feigns engine trouble and lands on an island for aircraft maintenance, where he is grounded. While there, he notices deep sea fish curiously floating on the surface of the surrounding ocean: they presage the arrival of a huge monster, named Godzilla by the locals. With Koichi failing to fire his 20mm aircraft guns at the creature to kill it, almost everyone else on the small island is killed. (Whether his guns would have had any effect in halting the creature’s advance is debatable. They probably wouldn’t have had any effect whatsoever.) The only other survivor, who had previously congratulated Koichi for a near impossible landing on a tiny runway, blames him for the multiple deaths because he didn’t pull the trigger.

In 1945, in the ruins of post-war Tokyo, Shikishima is accused by a survivor – a woman whose children have died – of being a disgrace.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Puffin Rock
And The
New Friends

Director – Jeremy Purcell – 2022 – US, UK, Ireland, China – Cert. U – 92m

***1/2

The puffin and animal community of Puffin Rock is thrown into crisis by the arrival of a few refugees, the disappearance of a puffin egg and a terrible storm – spinoff feature from preschool children’s animated TV series out in UK cinemas on Friday, August 11th

Irish animation house Cartoon Saloon’s Puffin Rock TV series (2015-2016) has deservedly won awards in the world of preschool children’s television. Narrated by Chris O’Dowd, who acts as a running commentary and offers guidance to the two main characters, it centres around two preschool puffins Oona and her younger brother Baba who live on the isolated, human-free island of Puffin Rock with their kind, protective and loving parents. Through O’Dowd’s voiceover and the introduction of other animal characters, episodes deliver simple facts about natural history in a friendly and informative manner. While this educational is never allowed to get in the way of the storytelling, it’s a welcome extra. The programmes are around six minutes in length. (The series can be found on Netflix in the UK, where three six minute episodes are gathered into twenty minute batches comprising three episodes.)… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Flesh Of God
(Carne De Dios)

Director – Patricion Plaza – 2022 – Argentina, Mexico, Columbia – France 16+ – 21m

*****

When a travelling monk falls prey to a fever, the folk remedy administered by an old woman causes him to experience bizarre hallucinations – from the 2023 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Official Competition section

(Warning: not suitable for work or for those of a sensitive disposition. Potentially offensive to religious i.e. Christian viewers. Also, spoilers.)

In a prologue, a young girl races through a field of crops but runs into a monk, who squishes the mushrooms she’s carrying in her bag with his foot, feels her face and checks out her teeth before she flees.

Some time later (or perhaps some time earlier), the profusely sweating monk falls off on his donkey beside his walking guide and wakes in a nearby hovel, or it might be a church, tended by an old woman muttering unintelligible rituals as she attempts to heal him. The perpendicular bars of the roof’s sole window form a makeshift cross on which hangs a Christ figure, but when mushrooms resembling the ones trampled at the start are placed in the initially reluctant monk’s mouth, glowing sprites exit his body and enter the Christ figure, which assumes a monstrous aspect and attacks him.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Boogeyman

Director – Rob Savage – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 98m

*** 1/2

Two sisters recently bereaved of their mother start to imagine something nasty waiting for them in the darkness of night – Stephen King adaptation is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 2nd

An uninvited man Lester Billings (David Dalmachian) turns up at the home-based office of therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina) wanting to talk. His family died, and he is suspected of murdering them… but, he claims, it wasn’t him who did it. Harper has recently lost his wife, so it’s inevitable that Billings’ story will resonate with him. While Harper excuses himself to covertly call the police, Billings starts wandering round the home in which Harper lives with his two daughters – the teenage Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and the much younger Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair).

The scene in the office is the Stephen King short story (published in his Night Shift collection) and only a small part of the movie. It is, however, a highly significant part – the incident that sparks everything else off. Billings claims his family was slain by a hideous monster, and the impressionable Sawyer is at the age of childhood where she imagines monsters lurking in the closet or hiding beneath the bed.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Suzume
(Suzume
No Tojimari,
すずめの戸締まり,
lit. Suzume’s
Locking Up)

Director – Makoto Shinkai – 2022 – Japan – Cert. PG – 122m

***1/2

Aided by a man turned into a mobile, talking, three-legged chair, a schoolgirl must prevent giant, freak weather ‘worms’ from devastating Japan with earthquakes – anime feature is out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, April 14th

Prompted by a question from a man she meets on a road in her hometown, 17-year-old schoolgirl Suzume visits an abandoned hot springs facility in which is situated a door in a free standing door frame. She opens it only to find she can’t enter. Shortly after this, in school, she notices smoke in a gigantic, red and black worm-like form rising from the hot springs facility.

At the same time, everyone around her receives earthquake warnings on their smartphones, but no-one else can see the rising form. She goes back to the facility to find the man she met trying to close the door and cut off the incoming smoke, something she helps him to do. They do not close the door in time to prevent the red and black form falling onto the land and an earthquake resulting. The man locks the door using a key on his person.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Your Name
(Kimi No Na Wa,
君の名は)

Director – Makoto Shinkai – 2016 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 106m

*****

Do you know what it feels like for a girl? Urban teenage boy and countryside girl repeatedly swap bodies overnight, as fate draws them together through a meteor strike – Makoto Shinkai’s breakout animation returns to cinemas for one day only on Wednesday, March 29th, ahead of the release of Shinkai’s new film Suzume on April 14th

In a spectacular and bravura single take, vertical panning shot, a meteor descends from the heavens through the clouds towards the small lakeside town of Itomori. Then, another time, another place: on a train in Tokyo a teenage girl spots a boy and their eyes meet but there’s no time to exchange names. She knows him but he has no idea who she is. As she gets off the train, he asks her… “Your Name?”

Thereafter, Tokyo boy Taki wakes up some days Mitsuha’s body, and the other way round… [Read the rest at DMovies.org]

Your Name returns to cinemas for one day only on Wednesday, March 29th, ahead of Shinkai’s Suzume on April 14th.

Originally reviewed for UK 2017 IMAX release.

Trailer (Blu-ray release):

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