Entries in Movies (4)

Monday
May192014

Godzilla Score

It's pretty rare for me to get genuinely excited about entertainment media these days.  Usually if I do it's over movies, and the last two times (Prometheus and Thing 2013) were colossal disappointments.  I look forward to things, but excitement doesn't come often.  I was looking forward to the new Godzilla movie, but I wasn't sure what to expect.  The last American reboot wasn't exactly amazing, though I didn't have the visceral hatred for it that apparently everyone else has.  A Godzilla movie of any kind is fun, so the Roland Emmerich one was more like a fun monster movie that happened to be called Godzilla.  The key ingredient is the giant monster.

I'm getting off track.  The point was that I went into the new Godzilla movie expecting a fun monster movie and little more.  Man, was I wrong.  I was blown away by how good it was.  I don't know how to describe it without sounding cheesy.  It really was amazing.  But that's not even what I'm excited about.  I'm going to talk about the movie more in a separate post.  What I want to talk about here is the score.

It grabbed me at the title sequence.  I don't know how, but when I heard that music I knew it was going to be a great movie.  It feels like the old music, but it's different.  It's hard to explain, but it's big, and menacing, and driving. It brought me right back to watching bits and pieces of all the old Godzilla movies when I was kid, catching them when they were on TV, not knowing which movie was which or what was happening.

I was so impressed with the score that I stayed through the credits just to listen to it.  I can't even remember the last time I noticed the score in a movie.  I bought the score yesterday and saved it to my phone, and listened to it at least 3 times today.  It just taps into some piece of me and doesn't let go.  Helps me focus, gives me energy, makes me want to do stuff.  Get things done, you know?  It's good music to drive to, assuming you don't need to stop very often.  I got so jazzed about this that I actually bought a Godzilla DVD box set.  Is this just nostalgia?  It seems like more than that.  I don't know how to explain it.

I found a link to the first song on Youtube.  Takes about a minute before it really gets going.  There are quieter, more somber parts of the score, and even more loud and bombastic parts, but this is a good representation of the whole.   http://youtu.be/-QsHy3e7PTA

It's strange to think about how my music tastes have changed.  This started while taking online and night classes to get my degree.  I developed a real appreciation for instrumental music.  Originally I just needed a way to shut out the outside world to write papers, and anything with lyrics would distract me.  I stumbled on instrumental surf rock, of all things, and that became my goto.  What's funny is one of my favorites is a band called Daikaiju, which is the name of the genre Godzilla type movies fall into in Japan.  If I'm not mistaken, kaiju means monster and dai means giant or large.  The instrumental playlist has grown since those days, and now includes some world music (Gamelan Jegog from Bali) and classical (mostly Yo-Yo Ma), and I sometimes put it on when writing code.  Sometimes I find it distracting, especially when encountering a new problem, but it's great for focusing once I know how I'm going to tackle a problem.  I will definitely be adding this soundtrack to the list.  More about the movie itself later.  The short version is it was awesome and everyone should go see it.  Until next time!

Tuesday
Dec072010

Reviews

In a world where I really don't update this blog as much as I would like to, it is perhaps silly to add more categories/areas of content.  And yet I can't help myself.  I liked the idea of adding reviews to the mix, and have decided to expand it to include beer and scotch.  I'm not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy good beer and, in recent years, scotch.  I should admit, this is as much for me as it is for anyone else.  I frequently find that I can't remember if I've had a particular scotch or beer previously, and thought it would be good to keep track of what I've had and whether I like it or not.

I think something about the seasonal changes makes me want to drink more.  In the summer, it's not uncommon for me to go over a month or more without drinking, but lately it's been several times a week.  I think I get seasonal depression, though I'm not sure if it's the lack of sunlight or the glut of commercialism that turns nice, normal people into rude animals.


Wow, that kind of went to a dark place.  Getting back to the point, I thought since I'm already doing reviews for movies and video games, and now adding reviews for alcohol, that I should create a dedicated reviews space.  So reviews will show up in the blog, but also in this separate area.  I will hopefully (knock on wood with crossed fingers) start pumping those out in the near future.  I've already done a few for some scotches, and I've got a fridge full of beer that's aching for review.  Enjoy.

Saturday
Oct022010

Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus: A Review

 

As mentioned previously, I found this little gem in a Fred Meyer bargain bin (of all places!).  I don't think my wife was too keen on me getting this, but how could I resist?  It was too juicy to pass up.  I didn't even know at that point that it had one of the greatest scenes in film history.

Starring Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson, this was made by The Asylum, which seems to specialize in this type of Creature Feature, as well as apocalypse movies, weird religious movies that usually also deal with the apocalypse, and possibly softcore porn comedy.  I'm not sure about that last one, but #1 Cheerleader Camp doesn't strike me as particularly religious or a creature feature.

So for starters, Debbie Gibson surprised me in this one.  She's got some acting chops.  I don't know what I was expecting, but she came across as very natural to me.  I thought everyone did a respectable job, but she impressed me the most. Lorenzo Lamas was good, but I forgot he was in this for about half the movie.  I guess I just don't have a good enough image of him in my head. Also, and this was weird, the teacher/mentor of Debbie Gibson kept reminding me of the dad from Family Ties.  It couldn't be, of course, since he looked like the dad did back in the show, but he gave me that vibe.

We join the heroine at the genesis of the plot, cruising the arctic in a stolen mini-sub.  She witnesses some military shenanigans which releases the sea beasts.  Apparently the titular shark and octopus were frozen in the midst of mortal combat.  I guess it was a fast freeze, or they're slow fighters.  Debbie's (sorry, I can't remember her character's name and don't want to find it) not sure what she saw, and goes on with her life.

Most of the movie is about the carnage the two beasts cause, ranging from the aforementioned best scene in a movie ever (accoding to that guy), to the octopus destroying a Japanese oil refinery in a scene that reminded me of one of my new favorite band's album covers.  How can they stop these monsters before they eat everything in the ocean?  I won't give away any spoilers, but it shares a certain sensibility with Clash of the Titans.

One thing I definitely have to comment on is the production values.  I think the typically low budget for these movies is both a blessing and a curse.  The downside is that CG is really the only way to go for movies like this.  CG is expensive, though, which means there's a lot of recycled shots of attacking and moving.  There's also not enough crazy over the top moments, like with the plane, or the shark eating the Golden Gate bridge.  The upside is the creative ways they overcome some of these problems.  What do you do if you need a scene in a prison, but you dont' have access to a prison?  Set it in an interview room, which is basically any office building, add red lights, smoke, and a guy in a military-esque uniform, and voila!  Instant jail!  My favorite, though, was when the scientists had to find a way to lure the creatures using pheromones.  I thought it was odd that all they were doing was mixing beakers and vials of different colored liquids.  Shouldn't they use a computer?  Just when I started to wonder how they would know it worked, I got my answer:  Apparently the two critters not only shared pheremones (since they never made another or different batch), but those pheremones are neon, glowing green.  Seems obvious in hindsight, doesn't it?

Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  These movies are made for me.  It would have been better with a bigger budget, but I guess that can be said for a lot of things.  I think in the end, I prefer they make that movie with the issues I raised than not make it at all.

Saturday
Sep252010

Thoughts on Movies

So I was thinking I would start posting movie reviews.  I don't go out to the movies much, but I figured as I saw things I would write my thoughts on them.  The first installment will be for a little treat I found languishing in a Fred Meyer clearance bin.  It will be a review for none other than Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

Okay, I probably need to preface this.  I would consider myself a fan of movies.  I wouldn't say I'm a movie snob, but watching a movie is one of those rare occasions when I will focus all my attention on a single task.  It's a treat.  My biggest problem with a lot of movies is that they're predictable.  Trends emerge, formulas become known.  It bugs me when I see it.  There are two examples I always go to when I need to illustrate this point.  The first is Signs.  I thoroughly enjoyed Signs up until the end, where it became apparent that the ONLY reason ANY of those characters had a deviation from normal behavior was to facilitate that ridiculous end sequence.  The son has asthma, so he can't breathe the poison gas, the little girl is neurotic about glasses of water, so she takes a sip and leaves them all over the house.  This is set up perfectly for Merril, who has a pathological inability to NOT swing a baseball bat.  Thanks to an improbably inept alien invasion, Mel's character regains his faith.  Credits.  Now while I didn't necessarily see it coming while watching the movie, hindsight kicked me like a mule.  Now I can't watch anything without trying to predict how a personality quirk will be relevant later.  I find I'm usually right.  It really took some of the magic away.

The second example is Pixar movies in general.  I generally tend to avoid them because they feel hyper-formulaic to me.  They're always fantastic movies, but I feel like I can get everything from the trailer.  The last one I saw was Up.  Old man Grumpus gets a change of heart, the little shy fat kid finds his courage, the outcast dog rejoins the pack as the leader, at the expense of the former leader that was mean to him.  It's all done amazingly well, but there's not really anything surprising there.  I can't fault Pixar either.  I feel like they have to make movies like that to recoup the cost of making them.  You can't make a niche moody noir Pixar film for 200 mil and expect to make money on it.  I applaud them for going as far as they do.  The problem for me is that I know those movies are expensive and difficult to make, so I know that even the tiniest detail in those movies is planned out to make you feel a certain way.  I know that all movies manipulate the viewer into siding with a certain character, or experiencing a certain emotion, but it feels like these movies do that times ten.  That sense of overt manipulation and strict adherence to fomula are turn offs for me.

Now that we have THAT out of the way...I've noticed in my years as a TV watcher that the former Sci-fi channel, now (shudder) Syfy, had a penchant for playing B movies.  At first I would chuckle at how bad they looked and move on.  One day, though, I lingered, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Now to be sure, I think all or at least most of these movies have a few generally predictable elements to them.  Good always triumphs over evil in the end, and protagonists are always uniquely suited to battle the antagonist in these movies.  I'm alright with that because so much else comes straight out of left field.  Take the Sharktopus trailer, for example.  Never would I have guessed that the titular sharktopus is a bio-weapon for some shadowy government organization, apparently led by Eric Roberts.

I also appreciate the humor.  I believe most of the laughably ridiculous moments in these movies are intentional.  I feel like they're going after camp and spectacle in an effort to entertain, and it works for me.  I also enjoy the ride they take you on.  These movies frequently posit unusual questions and let you follow these questions to their conclusion.  I think the small budgets impose interesting constraints on the film makers, and I genuinely feel it makes the ride more fun to go on.  I think they're way more likely to be adventurous since they're not spending as much to make these movies.  Whether intentional or not, these movies entertain and intrigue, and for that they get major points in my book.

 There's something about these movies that really captures my imagination, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.  I don't know how to capture it in words, but something about them just make me happy.