Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekly Comic Reviews

Hey everyone, it's that time of week again. Before I begin, I have some bittersweet news. Thanks to being chief comic reviewer for Unleash the Fanboy, I'm going to be able to read  IDW titles early for free! That's right, I get to read Godzilla stuff early. Only disappointing part is that since I'll be writing the reviews there, they won't be popping up here anymore. Well, life can't be perfect. So be sure to visit Unleash the Fanboy for my Godzilla reviews and other cool stuff. Now for this week, we have the return of the Lizard, a clash of Spideys, and the Justice League getting completely OWNED. 
Amazing Spider-Man #688

Official Description
Someone has tampered with the grave of Billy Connors and all signs point to the Lizard! But Spidey won’t be alone in his hunt for Curt Connors, because Morbius the Living Vampire  is hot on his trail! Can Spidey handle both of these monsters before it turns into an all-out brawl? The superstar creative team of Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli bring you high stakes action and drama like no other as the celebration of Spider-Man’s 50th Anniversary continues in Amazing Spider-Man #688, swinging into comic shops everywhere, the Marvel Comics app and the Marvel Digital Comics Shop this June.


With the new film coming just next week, this new arc's timing is pretty convenient. Shed was the last major  Lizard arc, seeing our reptilian friend (enemy) becoming a complete beast with Dr. Connors no longer in any type of control. The arc was brutal, with the death of Connors' son, Billy, which no one saw coming. Part One of Never Turning Back is by far the best Spidey comic in awhile. After the worldly Ends of the Earth, it's good to be seeing more of grounded Spidey story. The Lizard has always been one of Spidey's biggest villains, just underneath Venom, Green Goblin and Doctor Ocktopus. He is at his most savage here, with no hint of remorse, just a deadly predator. But he's not mindless, he's an evil reptilian mastermind. This makes him such a compelling villain, I've pretty much had enough of Doc Ock. The writing is pretty strong here, especially with the Lizard and Spidey's confrontation with Morbius. The art is another strong aspect, the battles are gritty and Lizard has never looked more deranged. Only complaint there is that Peter doesn't look like Peter, he looks more like Flash Thompson with that hair,

Overall it's a fantastic start to this arc. This could very well be the best Spidey story in awhile. If only the upcoming film's Lizard could have looked like the one here. But yeah, if you haven't been reading any Spidey comics, now's a good time to jump on board, this is going to be one heck of a gritty, gruesome, and awesome story.


Spider-Men #2

Official Description
When Peter Parker is thrown into Miles Morales’ world, the duo begin a journey that will not only answer questions about their own identities, but also reveal the truth about a major character in the world of Spider-Man!


With establishing out of the way, this crossover can finally delve into the fun part. Every Spider-Man fan is going to have a blast with this one, we get some great and funny dialogue between 616 and Ultimate Spidey. It's cool how after after all these years the writing could poke fun a bit. "So, uh, what's the deal? Is this a clone thing?" Priceless. The whole scene with Spidey and Nick Fury is pretty much worth the price alone. (Got to love the potshot at 616 Fury.) Of course, if this arc is also meant to bring readers into the Ultimate side of things, it isn't doing such s great job of that. Miles Morales is portrayed as an extreme rookie with his dialogue, it doesn't make me want to go buy his comics. There is one little error I noticed in the writing. The part where Miles says "For real it's really him?" Then in the next panel the dialogue cloud has him saying "Kinda sorta" directly after, which doesn't make sense. The art is pretty good here, it really brings the battles alive. (The battle with the Spiders was wonderfully drawn.) Only minor complaint is the eyes on Spidey's mask, they look way too small, especially when it's next to the other Spidey's mask, the eyes look good there.

Overall it's a great and fun installment in this crossover, which surprisingly isn't getting that much hype like I thought it would. It's great to see the two much different Spider-Men interact, the next three issues look to be Spider-rific. But, Mysterio? I really hope another villain pops in to take over, ol' fishbowl head has been used too many times already.


Justice League #10

Official Description
• “THE VILLAIN’S JOURNEY” part two! • The identity of the Justice League’s newest and deadliest foe is revealed! • Part four of the debut of SHAZAM!


It feels like it's been FOREVER since the last issue. The latest issue has the team getting pulverized by the new villain Graves. I will say that this arc is doing a great at making this Graves character a menace and pretty cool at the same time. I hope his defeat isn't generic and that he becomes a returning villain. The dialogue has some strong moments, but some very weak moments too. The civilians and news reporters sound really, really bad. Green Lantern is nothing but a joke here, even Flash is a little off this time. Some of the dialogue between the team was admittedly funny, such as with Batman and Superman. I'm not really sure, but it's like the team still doesn't trust each other, even though this is taking place in present day. That's a lot of years of being a team. While the dialogue isn't juvenile like in some of the earlier issues, it still needs some work. Naturally the art is the strongest aspect, Jim Lee is perhaps the greatest comic artist right now. The next installment in the Shazam backup story was pretty good, with a great ending. Though in some panels Billy looked a little too evil.

Overall it's a pretty good issue with a horror touch, the dialogue is a little weak in some parts, but it's still a good read.


Dinosaurs vs. Aliens Review

Ah, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens. If that's not the coolest title known to man, I don't know what is. I gotta admit that I was pretty hyped, I mean, two of my favorite creatures battling it out?! And no humans to wreck everything? This had potential to be the greatest graphic novel ever. Not to mention the fact that a movie is going to be coming, which could also be one of the greatest movies ever made. But I'm here to talk about the graphic novel written by Grant Morrison. The book had been getting some pretty good hype, back on Free Comic Book Day they had released a short preview of it. Astounding art and it looked like the story was going to be more deep than what you were expecting. In fact, despite the cheesy 60's title, (I love it, but I'm sure the rest of the world would disapprove of such a Syfy-like title) the story is the book's strongest aspect. Dinosaurs vs. Aliens is a masterpiece, with its only flaw being the length, it doesn't justify $20.

Check out the official description from Dynamite and Liquid Comics:

From the minds of acclaimed filmmaker, Barry Sonnenfeld (director of the, “Men In Black” Films) and superstar graphic novel creator, Grant Morrison (Batman, The Invisibles, Action Comics, 18 Days), comes "Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens," from Liquid Comics. The story focuses on a secret world war battle that was never recorded in our history books. When an alien invasion attacks Earth in the age of the dinosaurs, our planet's only saviors are the savage prehistoric beasts which are much more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined.
Alright, let's get that one negative out of the way. The book is $20, which is the average price for a graphic novel. However, you're going to be surprised that it doesn't 'end.' There's going to be a part two. That was really disappointing, you get really into the story, and once you find out that this is just Volume One, you're left feeling a little unsatisfied. It feels like you're buying half a book, it should be at most $15. Graphic novels are usually self contained into one volume, not a continuation like this, with no word on Volume 2 yet. Now, don't think the actual story we're getting isn't good, it's fantastic.

I like the analogy of the whole 'Manifest Destiny' that's portrayed here. The dinosaurs are the Native Americans while the aliens represent the Americans. So this isn't just some mindless Vs. thing that you'll find Saturday nights on the Syfy channel, this story has a lot of heart. I love dinosaurs, so seeing them as a focus is interesting. Of course, it could be difficult story wise I admit for monsters to be the central focus without humans in the picture. This isn't the case here, the dinosaurs hold their own. As you can see by reading the description, these aren't the mindless beasts we're used to seeing in films. They're intellgent creatures, have tribes, and work together. Such emotion is portrayed even though they don't speak at all. It takes a true writer to able to pull off somethiong like that. Let's not count out the alien angle here. They're technically the 'villains.' However, they aren't mindless or just invading for the heck of it. Unlike the aliens we see in today's films, (Ahem to Cowboys and Aliens, Battle: Los Angeles, and Skyline) we're given insight into these extraterrestrials. (It is told mainly from their perspective after all.) Like the dinos, they are a compelling focus, the writing is top notch as we have inside scoop about why they're here. 

The art is an extremely high point of the book. It's done by Mukesh Singh, who I gotta say matches up to Jim Lee's amazing work over at Justice League. The landscapes look incredible, and the splash page with two of the dinos looking at a looming UFO in the sky is awe inspiring. While the book isn't over-the-top and in your face, it remains fast-paced but calm at the same time. The book has a calming atmosphere, inviting you into a world without humans. The dinosaur skirmishes were appropriately brutal and how can one not smile at a T-Rex taking down an alien robot with its jaw? The very smart writing through thought boxes really carry the story.

Overall, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens might just be the greatest graphic novel I have ever read. It is unfortunate that I cannot give it a perfect rating becuse of the price drawback. It should have been one standalone book. Not many people are talking about it, so I fear for Volume Two. If it doesn't get made, we're left with part one of a masterpiece. Dinosaurs vs. Aliens does the impossible and manages to be a compelling story just with the title creatures. It's dinosaurs and aliens with amazing art and smart writing. What more can one want?


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memoirs from a Godzilla Fan

"Another Godzilla article?" "Is this guy obsessive or something?" These are thoughts that may come to your head as you read this. I'm not going to lie, I don't go one day without mentioning the Big G, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, or in person. It's not just a side or little hobby, I consider it to be part of my life. So if you want label that as obsessive, then sue me. When one has a great passion like this, it's usually rooted in childhood. It's no different here. But you know, as shocking as it may be, there was a time when I didn't care about the franchise at all. (Don't faint loyal reader!) Below I'm going to talk about my Godzilla fan life and the definition of passion.

You know, I really cannot pin-point an exact date, event, or even first movie that got me started as a fan. My dad is the one that got me into it at a very young age, that I know for sure. It was either 1999 or 2000 that I have my earliest memories of being a fan. I was either 4 or 5 years old when I had asked my dad to get some Godzilla tapes. (Yup, back before DVDs became popular.) I remember him coming home with four tapes. Ghidorah: the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, and Godzilla vs. Biollante. I remember that day, my dad had said that he went to a lot of stores to find these. (Goes to show that even back then Godzilla wasn't exactly 'out there' in the States.) Ghidorah, Destoroyah, and Mechagodzilla II were the defining films I grew up with. What about Biollante you ask? I saw that tape once, it was my least favorite. The others I could keep watching over and over again. I was never into Biollante, it's only now that I see it's a pretty good film. (Hey I was young, all I wanted to see was monsters beating the living daylights out of each other.) So the other three films are what I call 'nostaglic.' I've probably seen them a thousand times growing up. I put in one of those right now, then I'm reminded of my childhood. (Everytime Mothra has the conversation with Godzilla and Rodan I can't help but smile.) I still own the Ghidorah and Destoroyah tapes. My next memory was in Best Buy. Me and my dad had bought this 5 pack DVD set. It featured Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla's Revenge, Mothra vs. Godzilla,  (which was somehow broken by my sister many years ago, I miss having that film, it's only now that I appreciate how great of a movie it truly is) Terror of Mechagodzilla, and Rodan. Godzilla's Revenge is probably the Godzilla film I've seen the most. I mean, it's just so light-toned with lots of monster scenes. Of course, now I realize how awful it is, but it still brings back memories.

When I was a kid they used to air marathons on the Sci Fi channel. I remember one scene from Godzilla vs. Megalon, when Gigan and Megalon did their 'high-five,' it always stood out to me over the years. It was the only scene I had remembered until I saw the film again a year ago. I remember watching Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla for the first time. I remember on the description saying something about a rock monster. Once Anguirus popped up, me and my dad thought "Anguirus is the rock monster?!" I also remember watching DESTROY ALL MONSTERS for the first time, I actually don't think I was impressed with it. It would be a good eight years before I saw it again. I also remember watching King Kong vs. Godzilla and my family rooting for the 'hero' King Kong instead of Godzilla. But a true defining moment was on Christmas morning sometime in the early 2000's. I turned on the TV to see this thing attempting to swallow Godzilla whole! I was glued, what the heck was that? I had never seen Godzilla being defeated in this manner before. Alas, I was young, and it was Chrisatmas morning, so I had turned it off so I could open those gifts. My next memory would come in 2002...

I was at the now-deceased KB Toys in search for, well, toys. I was a very indecisive kid back then, I really didn't know what to get. Until my mom told me they had some Godzilla toys. I remember, they had Godzilla 1954, Gigan, Burning Godzilla, and Mothra. I wanted to pick up Godzilla, but my mom insisted on getting Gigan since he looked kinda unique. I ended up getting both. I still have both those figures, in pretty good condition I have to add. (Unlike most kids at the time, I treated my stuff with the HIGHEST respect.) Another toy-themed memory was getting the Pack of Destruction. Basically it featured miniature versions of Godzilla 1954, Destoroyah, Manda, Mothra, Mothra Larva, Minya, MOGUERA, and Burning Godzilla, I still have all of them minus Mothra Larva. I had seen it and my dad asked if I would be sure to play with it. I said of course or something like that. All those wonderful minis were then mine. (Fun fact is that I didn't know who MOGUERA was at the time, I thought he was a mecha version of Megalon.)

Another defining aspect is the video game Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee. Me and my dad use to play it a lot. I remember seeing the final character's headshot in the character selection screen and eagerly called up my dad, saying 'the final character is this crocodile-looking thing!" (At the time, I didn't know who Orga was.) Also, as more of a sidestep, I was also into Gamera. I still have this VHS tape of Gamera vs. Gyaos. I don't remember when I got the DVDs, but it was definitely a long time ago. Gamera the Invincible, War of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Barugon) Gamera: Attack of Legion, and Gamera: Revenge of Iris. Like with King of the Monsters, I had found Gamera the Invincible incredibly boring. If there was no other monster to battle the title character, then it would be boring. That was how I felt. I do remember enjoying War of the Monsters, and I still like it to this day. I remember watching Revenge of Iris, my mom had to explain to me that those dead bodies that Iris was leaving were just dolls. I remember how everyone was shocked at how Gamera sacrificed his own hand to stop Iris. 

The year is 2005. I remember my parents going somewhere for their anniversary and that my grandmother would be watching me and my sister. To keep everyone entertained, my dad had rented this 'new' Godzilla film called Godzilla: Final Wars. The three of us; me, my sister, and my grandma watched it that evening. I actually remember a preview that showed Final Fantasy: Advent Children. I remember my grandma saying how real the animation looked. I don't remember my first full impressions on Final Wars, the one scene I do remember is when Ozaki is punching the Xilien Leader while Godzilla is punching Monster X, the three of us were laughing at that. The very next day I saw it with my parents. I remember that I kept hyping up the final villain to my dad. The surprise transformation from Monster X into Keizer Ghidorah, which my dad would then say "Finally a real fight." I would see Final Wars once more in that house. 

After the Final Wars era, my liking for the series diminished. I was still technically a 'fan,' but really, the franchise didn't matter to me. In 2006 I had gotten Godzilla: Save the Earth for my birthday. I played it once, but it would be a few years before I would play it again. Why? Well, I had thought that I couldn't get the monsters to stay unlocked for an example. But really, I just didn't find the game fun. You have to be a fan to really appreciate the games. My dad had gotten it for me because I was always a 'fan,' but I didn't really play it at all. In the years 2007 and 2008, I didn't care at all about the series. I guess you could say movies was something I was more interested in, comic book movies and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. 2008 was a turning point year, it was the year I moved to New Jersey. It wasn't until December of that year that I started getting back into comics. Aside from that, the following year, 2009, is what I call my 'darkest' year for a few personal reasons. In general terms, I didn't have a 'passion' for pretty much anything. It was a disappointing year when I look back on it. After that, 2010 is what I call a 'golden year.' Sometime that year something had clicked. I wanted to get back into Godzilla. It was like a backup program inside my head starting to play. I started to play Save the Earth again after a few years of it laying dormant in the draw. Like my mind knew everything, it told me to play as Gigan, and from then on, Gigan became my favorite Godzilla character. It was at that point that I wanted to start watching the films again. Naturally I started with Godzilla vs. Gigan. I was very happy while watching it, it was like a lost childhood that came back. After Godzilla vs. Gigan, I rented three Godzilla films I had never seen before, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth, and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. I was on a roll, with the final film in the 'marathon' being Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. But soon it would be my birthday and guess what I would be watching on Netflix Instant? Final Wars, it had been some years. I remember me and everyone else here having a blast. That Christmas I got a two pack DVD set, featuring DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. It would be the first time in forever since I've seen DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, so it was truly a treat. Some scenes, like Gorosaurus' famous kangaroo kick on Ghidorah I have always remembered. At around this time I was training myself by going to the Godzilla Wiki and TOHO Kingdom, attaining knowledge of things I had never knew about the franchise. Enter 2011...

It was later in the year that I joined the TOHO Kingdom forums. The site helped me realize that I wasn't alone in this world in liking this franchise. There were actually people that knew more about the franchise than me. On my birthday, I had received the actual DVD for Godzilla: Final Wars, it was great seeing it on the huge TV downstairs. Man I love that film. It's amazing that I first saw it seven years ago. I continued to check out the films sparingly during the latter part of 2011. Then we enter a turning point in my life as a fan. In my time in the TOHO Kingdom forums, visiting the toy thread and seeing the collections posted there made me want to buy a figure. Plus, when I had taken out my Godzilla and Gigan, they looked a bit lonely. They needed a thrird figure. So I went ahead and bought a $20 Destoroyah figure. It was supposed to be a one-shot thing, but that same day I saw this $60 Mecha King Ghidorah. I wanted that Mecha King Ghidorah. I got that Mecha King Ghidorah. And now to this this day, I am a collector of Godzilla figures. My room is full of them, it's really what you would expect from a Godzilla fan. Also that Christmas I got my first ever Godzilla poster. I had been wanting a life-sized one for awhile to define my room, and I finally got it. It's the poster for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. It has my favorite Godzilla design on it. And very recently, I finally got my very own Godzilla shirt!

At this point of time, I am at the peak of being a fan. Knowledge flows through my head, the name Godzilla is always right there and ready to be said from me. However, even a fan like myself is still learning new things. Just a few weeks ago I had seen the original Gojira for the first time, it was like seeing a whole new film, since I've only seen the American King of the Monsters version, which was over ten years ago. Godzilla is a part of my life, I'm always Tweeting about it, and could get rather defensive over it. A lot may wonder what I see in this franchise. It's just giant rubber suited monsters crushing miniature sets, right? No. Godzilla is something deeply rooted in my childhood. What is your passion? Music, dancing, Twilight? When something is always somewhere on your mind, something you talk about enthusiastically without having a care to what anyone thinks about it, that's a passion. Godzilla is my passion.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zelda Skyward Sword, Overrated, and why Twilight Princess is Better

Last night I completed The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I've had it since Christmas. I know right? Why did it take me this long to beat it? Oh there are reasons, which I will explore very soon. (I was never stuck on any level, just in case you thought that was a reason.) No you see, the latest Zelda game is overrated. Yes, I just called the game that got perfect scores almost everywhere overrated. I'm not here to say the game is bad, it's quite a good game really. But one of the best games ever? One of the best Zelda games ever? I don't think so. The game is slow, it's often times boring, and some levels really tempt you to look up a walkthrough somewhere for the sheer annoyance of them.

There are two main types of Nintendo games. There's the Mario styled ones, where everything is rather straightforward and you keep going straight while jumping over obstacles to reach your destination, then there's the heavily puzzle-themed Zelda styled ones. Whereas Mario relies on its fun gameplay and worlds, Zelda relies more on its stories. Skyward Sword is a big game, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series, and also serving as a prequel to the franchise. I'm going to be honest and say I really don't like these type of games. Twilight Princess I enjoyed, which I'll talk more about soon, but games like Kingdom Hearts get on my nerves. Too many side-quests when the game should just get to the blasted point. Who the heck wants to collect coconuts and mushrooms? Those type of games dwell on those little annoying side-quests or mini-quests too long. Skyward Sword suffers from this. Sometimes I went whole weeks without playing, a lot of the time it was more of a chore than having fun. Do I have to mention it? Yes, yes I do.


Oh my gosh, this level is the one where you have to obtain a bunch of tadtone things for the Water Goddess. It is also the most useless level I have ever seen in a video game. It serves no purpose other than to annoy the player. It's, it's just there to buy more time. When you play a game, you're there to have fun, not to go underwater and search for tadpole-looking things. I wouldn't be complaining about this if it was a 1 2 3 thing, but nope, it takes awhile. It's like this game wants to keep you from reaching your destination as much as possible so you could die enjoy the scenery. Again, often the game feels like a chore rather than a fun adventure. Now, about Twilight Princess...

When you hear about Zelda, the ones that usually come to mind are Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and now this game. However, unlike the others, you'll notice that Twilight Princess is often regarded as the 'black sheep' of the main Zelda games. It's the one that gets the most negative reviews out of them, everyone pretty much thinks this game is better (far superior) than Twilight Princess. Not me. You see, Twilight Princess was more fun to play. It didn't bother dwelling on side or mini-quests that much, and the intro wasn't overly long. The story was kept at a better pace, it felt like you were advancing pretty fast, unlike Skyward Sword, where the story stands still sometimes. In Twilight Princess, the villain Zant is established better than Ghirahim, who only made occasional appearances every now and then. Skyward Sword could have done a lot of a better job with him, they could have made him more of a focus rather than popping up only like five times during the 30 hour game. Twilight Princess made you feel like you were in the story rather than just playing it. Also in TP, you actually feel for Link and want him to succeed. His growth there makes him a better character than the one in Skyward Sword, it just felt like he was a plot device used to get through the story there. And don't get me started on the disappointing final boss. First off, I actually like Demise, he was a great character. I would have liked to see more of him. Unlike Twilight Princess, the final boss fight is unsatisfying. Twilight Princess had the most epic final boss battle I have ever seen in a video game, it felt like you were right there, it felt like it was all up to the player, and most of all, it felt like the end. The final battle with Demise feels rather shoehorned in, there's no level of 'epic' to it. The battle with Ghirahim had more of an 'end' feel. (Mainly thanks to the music.) The final battle with Demise felt like something from the middle of the game, not as the final one.

I'm not saying Skyward Sword is a bad game, but perfect scores? Best Zelda game ever? The game is often devoid of one thing: fun. There are too many things happening when the player just wants to see the story progress. See, I didn't bother doing any of the optional side-quests. Why? I didn't care. I had no incentive to do so. In Twilight Princess, you cared for the characters, here you really don't care at all about the optional side-quests. I will continue to buy future Zelda games, I can only hope that they become more 'direct' in the way the story and quests goes. A little puzzle is for good measure of course, but when something like this game takes it too far, it loses the core reason why we play these games: to have fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Night I will Never Forget

A blog can be a lot of things. Often it is what I call an 'online journal.' Today I have a little story about a cool event I was at back in 2009. I know this place is called Destroyer's Editorials and Reviews, but hey, these kind of posts show a human side to the writer. If you're going to find something like this boring, then click away and look for my next review.  Now, I will officially start. This event takes place here...

Yup, at the Old Bridge Public Library.

Chances are if you're still reading this, you have a slight interest in seeing what the heck this story is about. It was the first week in July of 2009. In that week I was enrolled in a four-day comic book art class. (Got to make my very own short comic.) Prior to these events one Saturday, I had seen a flier on the library calender. It proudly displayed something that was going on in two Wednesdays, there was going to be a game night. Usually I would just disregard something like this and go on my merry way to picking up the next volume of Naruto, but there was something special about this particular game night....Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be the game. It was cost-free, plus it was a game I was good at it. So why not? I marked the date down on my calender. From that point on I trained at home, playing some matches here and there for preparation.  On July 1st this event had transpired. (Man I love that word.) After the four hour art class session, I went home, had a good coldcut sandwich, then went with my dad to the library. Now this is where things get interesting.

When we arrived at the library, we had no clue where this event was taking place. My dad asked one of the library people, and she directed us toward this room with a door. We could see from the glass that there was a large TV screen and some people playing. My dad had asked me if I still wanted to do it, so I said something along the lines of "Sure, why not? It's not everyday they have Brawl meetings like this." So we went in. From the looks of it, it appeared that it was going to be basically just a hangout where anyone can come in and play for fun. I was wrong. The lady came over, she was the one hosting. She had me sign my name onto this note-card so I could be signed up for...a tournament. So it was going to be a tournament after all. Wow. My dad had left around this time, I went to go take a seat in this dark room. There were about seven people there, nine if we include the host and her assistant. These people were definitely older than me. It was July I would be twelve. Wow, I was younger than I thought now that I think about it. These guys were about 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or even 20. The majority seemed to know each other, they were very loud, sometimes cursing and all that. Not my usual atmosphere at the time. (Of course, after working in the cyber world for awhile, you begin to get used to stuff like that. Or if you went to public school.) When I sat down, I saw on the screen that people were currently playing just for fun. After that four player round, someone asked who hasn't played yet. I raised my hand, and I was playing a four player round. I managed to win that round, which was pretty cool. Of course, it wasn't part of the tournament or anything, so it wasn't such a huge deal. After that battle, the tournament had finally begun.

Whenever there's a tournament, a participant always feels a sense of anxiety as he awaits his turn. One of the first battles pit two people in custom made stage. It was designed in a way that made it near-impossible to lose. The stages were set on random of course. Thank goodness none of my battles went there. My first battle pit me against the most loud and apparently popular person there. I was Mario, I don't quite remember who my opponent was. It was either Link or Pikachu. Our stage I do remember however, it was Pokemon Stadium. The actual battle was pretty challenging, but I was winning just about the whole time. Toward the end, I even heard one of the other guys tell my opponent something like "You know you're losing, right?" I was taking great pride in this, laughing it up in my head. Finally, I won. It was a pretty big accomplishment. My next opponent I believe was the guy who said "You know you're losing, right?" He would be using R.O.B. which was going to be trouble. As Mario, the one character that always gave me the worst trouble was R.O.B. This time I was barely keeping up, I was on the verge of losing. The guy had actually said "I got this." Oh, I don't think I had mentioned this before. The rules were set with two stock and a two minute timer. That timer helped out a lot. It was a stalemate went it ran out, though I was more on the losing side. And as all Brawlers know, when the time limit runs out, SUDDEN DEATH happens. This was heart-pounding, cause at the stage we were fighting, Green Greens, one hit would be the end. I had honestly thought I wasn't going to make it. We both ran our characters. I laid a hit, and that was it. I had won. It was heart-pounding, and everyone else was pretty shocked too. SUDDEN DEATH is always shocking. Now to keep this paragraph from becoming overly long, I will use another one to continue the story. (Hopefully you aren't bored to tears by now.)

My next opponent was this Asian kid. Like me, he was more of a quiet observer, he was here to play and nothing else. He was also my toughest opponent. Ironically, he would be using Sonic. This guy knew how to play, I was on the losing side. The time was ticking, I thought we were going to go to SUDDEN DEATH. But something happened...he made a mistake. On the final second, I will repeat that, THE FINAL SECOND, he made a mistake with having Sonic do his spin dash attack and he plummeted off the left pipe of Yoshi's Island. I was shocked, everyone was shocked, he was disappointed. He shook my hand then went back to his original seat. He was definitely my favorite opponent there. Next up, the final battle. I couldn't believe I had gotten this far. This guy was deciding if we should have a Mario vs. Mario match but ultimately went with Ike. The stage, Smashville. The ironic part here is that this was my easiest battle. This guy made a fatal error using Ike's Aether attack, he accidentally fell off the edge. I had a low percentage and two lives, he had one. I had this in the bag, and the others seemed to agree. And then finally, at the end of the battle....I lost. Did you think that it would be a positive outcome? Not all unforgettable nights are positive. It was a good tournament though.

Nah, I'm just kidding. I won!

I was the happiest 12 year old that night. Here I was, this quiet guy with a Zelda cap, who came in and won this tournament. I bet no one had thought that would be the outcome. The lady host said she had to get my card for winning, I honestly had no idea what she meant. But it didn't truly matter, the fact that I won was a heartfelt victory, I was never in a tournament like that before. I was alright with no prizes or anything, just the fact that I won a tournament like this was good enough. The lady had come back and given me this envelope. Before I left, she said "Thanks for coming." I nodded and said something like "It was fun." I found my dad and sister waiting for me. I told them I won the tournament and had received this card. I wasn't expecting much from it, just some kind of souvenir. Again, I was wrong. I opened up it and discovered a 25$ Best Buy gift card. That's right, not $5, $10, but $25! They weren't messing around. So for going to this cost-free library tournament and winning, I came home with a $25 gift card. That was icing on the cake. So on that July night, the saying 'Like a Boss' applied. Like a true boss.

Well, if you read the whole thing, I give you a round of applause and of course the generic "Thanks for reading" saying. But seriously, this was an event I will never forget. It's a story that I will keep with me as the years go on. Some events in one's life never go away from the mind because they are unforgettable. This was one of them. Well, I hope you enjoyed the read, back to the reviews.

Godzilla Unleashed Review

Godzilla Unleashed came out back in 2007. The game was pretty big because it was the first time Godzilla appeared in anything since the bombastic Final Wars three years earlier. Unleashed is the third game in Atari's series, the first being the classic Destroy All Monsters Melee, then the improved and awesome Save the Earth, and of course this game There are two main versions, like with the other games. There's the Wii version, and the PS2 version. I'm going to be honest and even a little harsh....the PS2 version sucks. If that version was the only one that existed, it would be fine, but there's a far superior gamed called Godzilla: Save the Earth out there. The PS2 version felt like a rushed thing. It was never meant to be on the system, it was just meant for the Wii. The PS2 version's gameplay is slow, and I mean slow. It's like they didn't finish touching up the gameplay. (Throws are broken!) The graphics are grainy, unless it was meant to give the monsters a more gritty look, they all looked like they needed some brightness. And while the Wii version gets all the new monsters, do you know what PS2 owners are left with? Battra. Now that wouldn't be such a bad thing, in fact it'd be pretty awesome, if not for the fact he's nothing other than a Mothra clone. Same moveset, it's almost like the PS2 version is trolling the fans. The Wii version is the real deal. So many great monsters we thought we would never see in a game like this, (who remembers Varan?) and the graphics are the best in any Godzilla game. Whether it's a good game or not is a different story.

This game is basically a fan service. Varan, Godzilla 1954, only G fans could really appreciate this game. For the first time in console games, this one actually has a story. Yes, the previous two games had 'stories,' but this one is cutscene based, even if it's just comic book panels with no animation. Save the Earth is still the definitive Godzilla game, thanks to its balanced fighting style and perfect controls. Unleashed on the other hand is more of a Godzilla fan's dream. However, there's one thing holding the game back: the controls. The Wii remote is used here. Not to bash the system or anything, but their controls for fighting games never work. (Try playing Naruto Clash of the Ninja Revolution 3 with the Wii remote, seriously try it.) When you first play the game, you are not going to understand what the heck you're doing. It takes some weeks to understand and actually like the controls a bit. Whereas the attacks and combos were pretty balanced in the previous games, here it isn't, there's a lot more spamming involved. There's the normal attack and the strong attack. Only thing is that there's no point in even doing a normal attack, since a strong attack can just break through it. Both players will constantly use the strong attack. And if you thought Destoroyah was overpowered in the previous games, wait until you see him here. Unlike in the others, he has unlimited use of his horned katana, making him the character no one wants to play against. The arenas are different. You'll have to play the game to see it for yourself, but each has its own thing going. Tokyo is flooded, Seattle is a volcanic wasteland, etc. It definitely gives the battles a unique atmosphere every time. 'Rage,' isn't here, instead it's this Critical Mass. It's pretty cool, it really makes the battles all the more frantic as you see your opponent turning all fiery and giant right before your eyes.

Story mode is pretty fun the first couple of times, but imagine having to do it over ten times. That's the case sadly. In order to buy monsters in the store, you have to get money. Not only that, some monsters you have to find in story mode. Trust me, after hearing Admiral Gyozen's gruff voice for the eighth time, you might just die a little inside. Also, the monsters are way too expensive. Probably the intention was to add replay value, but it ends up being nothing short of annoying. The player is left thinking "Is it really worth it? Maybe I should just put in a cheat code unlocking everything." The game's soundtrack is a high-point. Destroy All Monsters Melee had some of the most bland music I have ever heard in a video game. Save the Earth had some nice tunes, but nothing special. Unleashed broke the chain and included some great music done by Heavy Melody Music. Every monster has their own unique theme, from Mecha King Ghidorah's in-your-face one to Gigan's more soft, stealthy one.

Unleashed boasts an impressive 26 characters. We have a bunch of new monsters, which was the main selling point. Finally, we get Titanosaurus. His attacks and the way he fights matches his movie counterpart well. (Though it's ironic that his beam attack is a supersonic roar, considering that supersonic sounds are his weakness in the film.) Biollante was a HUGE selling point. I mean, just the fact that you can play as her is awesome. Varan, a monster that only Godzilla fans know, makes a return after many years absence from his previous game appearance. Though I'm not sure you'll want to play as him, he could very well be the weakest character in the game. If you're using him and your opponent is Destoroyah, you're toast. Godzilla 1954 was a odd but welcome character. Gigan gets his Final Wars look, which is pretty cool to play as. They made Godzilla 90's look way too much like 54. To the unsuspecting eye, it's easy to confuse the two. This game is also known for having two original monsters, Krystalak and Obsidius. They're pretty cool, but if you're going to have new characters, you better give them backstory. Sadly story mode doesn't do that, making these characters feel like a waste. For that, you could have put two other monsters from Godzilla lore instead (Still waiting for Hedorah...)

Overall, Godzilla Unleashed isn't a 'great' game, Save the Earth is still the Godzilla game. However, fans of the franchise will still definitely want to pick it up. (You get to play as Biollante!) This isn't a hardcore or balanced fighting game like Save the Earth, but it's fun once you understand the controls. Just stay far, far away from the PS2 version.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

Ghost Rider came out back in 2007. (Same year as my personal favorite comic book movie, Spider-Man 3.) It went down an infamous road, no one really likes that film. I remember watching it back when it released on DVD, I thought it was pretty good, but I really don't remember my full first impressions. It wasn't until last year that I re-watched it. To this day, as I stated in my review, I think it's a pretty fun film. Too much hate, and this is coming from a big fan of the character now. Finally, after four months since it originally released in theaters, Spirit of Vengeance is out on DVD. I'll be honest, I had never expected the first film to get a sequel. Critics panned it and people still dislike it to this day. This film got some pretty big hype, Cage even went as far to 'bashing' the original film to get people excited for this. It opened up and....didn't exactly go as planned. Currently it holds a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. I've heard some even say it makes the first film look like The Dark Knight in comparison. I was going in very intrigued, it was going to be interesting to see why everyone dislikes it so much. Well, once again, I'm going to have to go against popular opinion, this film was a blast.

Check out the officical synopsis if you don't know already what it's about:

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance. Still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter, Johnny is hiding out in a remote part of Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy from the devil. At first Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

This film is one fun ride. It was released in February strangely, probably not to compete with the three big ones in the summer, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. This doesn't bother referencing past events that much or dwell on things, it's completely fast-paced throughout. No, this is not a 'smart' or 'great' movie like The Dark Knight, but it's fun, perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon. This film improves on a number of things the original had trouble with. The action is more satisfying, (the 'fights' in Ghost Rider were practically non-existent) the CGI (well, some of it anyway) is much better, and the characters are generally better. (Save Ciaran Hinds as the Devil, he was good, but no Peter Fonda.) There are of course some negative aspects about the film, just like with the first Ghost Rider. But Spirit of Vengeance is just a fun watch even with those negative things.

Nicolas Cage should have never been put in the role of Johnny Blaze. He was a primary reason holding back the first film from being really good. He does a rather mixed job here, it's definitely an improvement for sure. As the film goes on, he becomes a likable character with an admittedly funny script. Though he still comes off as rather corny for the most part. He's too old for the part of Johnny Blaze. Still, he was a fun focus, surprisingly. (A highlight is the 'interrogation' between him and one of Carrigan's men at a fighting club, really good stuff there.) Ciaran Hinds replaces Peter Fonda as the Devil. Fonda was one of the best parts in Ghost Rider, so I was disappointed that he would not return in the role. With that said, the new guy as the Devil was a pretty solid antagonist, portraying a sense of fear that Fonda had brought. It's a good thing too, cause the other antagonist, Johnny (coincidence?) Whitworth as Blackout wasn't quite up to standard. His origin should have been deepened, and his relationship with the Rider. In the comics, they share a great hatred toward one another, none of that is really displayed here. There's no romance or female love interest here. (Surprisingly enough.) The main female lead is Nadya. Another pretty surprising thing was that she was actually a well-scripted and all around good character. Eva Mendes in the original film had by far the worst acting performance, she was just awful, almost the definition of bad acting. Wow, her character was really badly played and her script was lousy. At least here Nadya brings some coolness and ends up being not a negative reason holding the film back. Speaking of bad characters, let's talk about one of the main focus, Danny. (Heh heh, Danny. Only Ghost Rider fans will get the reference.) Wow, this kid was just awful. Corny, annoying, I've seen some good kids in films....he is not one of them. Idris Elba (Heimdall from Thor) was definitely a high-point in the film, as many other other reviewers agree.

The CGI as I stated before is an improvement. However, sometimes it's borderline laughable. The scene with Blaze attempting to stop the Rider from coming out while driving his motorcycle was laughably bad. Now this is a high-octane movie, it's constantly on the move. Ghost Rider's first appearance taking out a bunch of Carrigan's men was just awesome. (Though two grenades knocking him out? I mean really?) The final battle between him and Blackout was a very satisfying fight. It could have been a little longer, but is definitely good enough. The soundtrack is similar to the first one, it fits the tone well. (It's pretty hardcore, good stuff.) This being high-octane, the film's focus is getting the story to move, but in the process, some of the logic in the writing is lost. When Moreau came by asking to make a deal with Blaze, the latter didn't bother asking what was so important about Danny. I know I would ask for the details. The ending is pretty unsatisfying and felt rushed, it doesn't feel like a closure. You know, I wish the film had more of a demonic scare factor. The first film did a pretty good job with that, but this film isn't really all that supernatural. A personal favorite scene however was in the ritual with the Devil 'leaving' his body to go into the boy's body, you can see the shadow with the horns and is just pretty awesomely creepy to see on the screen. 

Overall, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will continue to be disliked by just about everyone. I on the other hand will tell you that it's one 'fiery' blast of a film. It's nothing great really, just a fun, what's that term they use? 'Popcorn' film. However, unlike all the Transformers films, this one has class. So yes, Spirit of Vengeance isn't The Dark Knight or Iron Man, but not every film has to be like those. Some films could just be a fun 'ride,' and that's exactly what Spirit of Vengeance is.


Monster of the Week: Zetton (Original)

Zetton is the most powerful monster in the Ultra-verse. Besides Gomora, he was the only to truly and completely defeat Ultraman. But unlike the battle with Gomora, there was no chance here. 'Space Dinosaur' Zetton was in complete control the whole time. He was far superior in power and strength. Zetton is the definition of 'final boss.' He's a merciless, evil, and just plain heartless brute. Thanks to Alien Z-Ton, Zetton came to earth. That is where the events of Farewell Ultraman takes place.

The Alien Z-Tons had invaded earth. Surprisingly their spaceships were pretty weak, a single missile could destroy one. Captain Mura, Arashi, and Hayata were chasing down Dr. Iwamoto. It turns out that he was an alien in disguise. After Hayata shot him, the alien shouted "Zetton" "Zetton." before fading away. Doing so made the final spaceship come and started blowing up some kind of space balloon....which then released the Space Dinosaur. (How they got the dinosaur part is beyond me.) Zetton is the Z-Ton's ultimate and secret weapon. He's the guy that was going to do the easy work of destroying everything that got in his way. Zetton is a cold brute, he obviously knows how powerful he is. If he were a human, he'd be the bragging type. You can see that he also enjoys some good destruction as he's waving his arms around when he rises out of that 'balloon.' Completely impervious to the Science Patrol's laser gun, he easily walks through, taunting with flaunting his arms. It's only until Hayata transforms into Ultraman that there's a glimmer of hope. Or so we had hoped...

Zetton isn't like Antlar, he's not one to show anger or quite as cunning. He's a brute, he doesn't bother dodging attacks. Why should he? He knows he's the most powerful monster in the Ultra-verse after all. Ultraman had come from behind and did this spinning attack which sent some rings onto Zetton. They managed to subdue him, making him immobile....until of course he turned around and shot some red beams that caused the dust around Ultraman to turn red. At that moment the most hardcore moment of the whole entire show happens, Zetton simply breaks out of the rings like a true boss. He knows Ultraman is a threat, so he jumps down to fight. He also likes to brag about his superiority. As he surprised Ultraman by teleporting behind him, you can see him taunting once again with flaunting his arms. He also has a bunch of surprising abilities, he can generate a barrier out of nothing, which helps quite a bit against Ultraman's mini ring attack, those little things break on contact. Ultraman then comes in for some close hand-to-hand combat, but Zetton just slaps him away. I will say it again, he just slaps Ultraman away like he's nothing other than a nuisance. This is when he comes in for the kill. Zetton isn't one to draw out fights too long, if the opponent is down, he will take that opportunity to finish them off. This time he went in to choke Ultraman to death. Ultraman fought and fought, but he just couldn't shake away this brute of a monster. Eventually he manages to throw Zetton off thanks to some encouragement from the narrator. But that wouldn't stop the Space Dinosaur, you can see he's one that's fully alert as he quickly rises up. Of course by now Ultraman uses his signature Spacium Ray. Zetton is pretty much laughing at this as he absorbs the beam, let Ultraman become shocked of what had just transpired, then fired the absorbed beam. This completely dazed Ultraman. Showcasing his cold and merciless demeanor, Zetton fired another blast after seeing him dazed from the previous one. Now he just stood there taunting with his strange robotic noises as Ultraman fell. Zetton looked down at his fallen oppenent, then left to destroy. This was just another battle to him, nothing more nothing less. He didn't truly care, Ultraman was just a minor threat that had stood in his way. However, somehow the Science Patrol had this monster destroyer weapon prototype that the real Dr. Iwamoto had brought. Zetton was caught off guard when it struck him, it had lifted him into the sky and and exploded him. (Imagine what the J.S.F. could do with that weapon in Godzilla world.)

So that was the un-dignified end of Zetton. Ironically, it wasn't Ultraman that stopped him, it was the Science Patrol. Nonetheless, there's no denying that he's one of the most original and powerful monsters out there. With such a unique look, evil demeanor, and creepy roar/sound, Zetton is as awesome as they get, he could give Godzilla a run for his money.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekly Comic Reviews

Hey all, welcome back. This week all I have is one title for review, but it's truly a big one. The Phoenix Five have taken over in...

Avengers vs. X-Men #6

Official Description 
The all-powerful Phoenix Force has found not one, but FIVE hosts and in Avengers VS. X-Men #6 – their mission is clear, remake the Marvel Universe in their image. Kicking off the world changing second act of the comic book event of the year, the blockbuster team of Jonathan Hickman and Olivier Coipel show fans just what Pax Utopia looks like through the eyes of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus & Magik! How will Earths Mightiest and the other X-Men respond to this new development? And what role will the Scarlet Witch play once she enters the conflict? Find out in Avengers vs. X-Men #6!


For awhile it was just basically both teams fighting it out trying to get to Hope. Now things have changed. Led by Cyclops, five members are engulfed with the Phoenix force and are remaking the world as they see fit. The Avengers now have to go on a suicide mission to get Hope. This is definitely one of, if not the best issue yet in this event. The X-Men have won, thanks to the Phoenix force. (Very clever to have this whole plot point happen.) Now the Avengers have basically no way of winning, case in point as Cyclops easily disposes of Thor. This type of conflict is always the best in a comic, the heroes really don't have a shot. And then by the end, a glimmer of hope (no pun intended ) is established. The writing is a very strong, a highlight is the scene with Professor X and Cyclops. The art is pretty strong here, Cycplos' new armor looks menacing and admittedly one of the most awesome armor designs I've ever seen. Though the art makes some of the characters in background shots look strange. (A slouching Thor.)

Overall the sixth installment in this event is fantastic. You have no clue what's going to happen, since the Avengers are pretty much powerless against the Phoenix Five. As Cyclops lifts up Cap's helmet with the 'A' logo and says 'No more Avengers,' the reader feels a certain 'wow' and will be waiting with anticipation for the next issue.


Quoted, a Truly Big Feat

It was just about four months ago when I was enlisted in joining the site Unleash the Fanboy. A Twitter colleague of mine had seen my past work over at ComicBookMovie, he was the one that told me UTF was looking for new members. Well you gotta make the most of every opportunity that presents itself. I wasn't exactly the busiest person out there, so landing my reviewing skills to a site would be no problem. And who knows what could happen. Like, earlier this year the London Horror Company had sent me a comic (yes, I got a comic sent to me from London for free) to review, because the writer had seen my work on my Spidey comic reviews. So I went on the UTF evaluation trial to see if I would be a capable member.

Two weeks later I was officially 'chief comic reviewer.'

For awhile it was just me handling the comic reviews. (Image Comics to be exact, I get free PDFs. A PDF is a file that could only be read online, so I get to read these bad boys early.) However, things changed about two months later. New reviewers started to show up. This put me in an interesting position. I was now head of the comic reviewing department, a leader of a team. (This is probably the fastest rising of ranks ever.) I will admit that being a 'boss' is pretty awesome. Now, for the main subject...

You know the comic series Artifacts? I had written a review of Issue #17 last month. Issue #18 was recently released, and if you look at the back of the cover...

Yup, that's a quote from my review. How's that for awesome? After being outside for about six hours, to come home and find out this was truly something else. A comic that hundreds will and have read, and my words are right there. So when you see that quote on the back of the comic, know it's from me, your fellow comic reviewer Daniel over at UTF.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

GODZILLA #2 Review

The second installment in IDW's new ongoing Godzilla series is here. If it's one comic I look forward to, it's this. After not seeing these guys since 2007 in the game Godzilla Unleashed, it's great to see them back in media with new stories. The first issue was a pretty solid start, not great or outstanding, but good enough. It featured our favorite monsters and not a bad main character focus. Issue #2 is the same. Not fantastic, but still a fun little issue with lots of monster destruction.

Here's the official description from Image:
Boxer is ready to settle the score with Godzilla, and assembles his "Monster Kill Crew," a group of highly-trained weirdos, each with their own private grudge against the kaiju. As we get to know these mercenaries the team stocks up on all the equipment they'll need to take down their first bounty—ANGUIRUS!

One of my main problems with this series is the monsters. You can swap out any of them with any monster and it still wouldn't matter. They all have the same character, which is no character. Aguirus, Rodan, Kumonga, and Godzilla are all acting the same and doing the same things. It's like they're all being controlled in Final Wars. (Who knows...that could actually be true.) With that said, it is nice to see Kumonga taking some spotlight in this series. It feels like a scene from a film when he destroys a US border patrol car. The monster destruction is pretty satisfying. The first shot with Godzilla plowing through some buildings was admittedly awesome. Anguirus takes more of center stage here, it's great to see him doing some heavy damage. 

My other problem with this series is the monster bounty hunter angle. C'mon, you know they can't really do anything to these monsters, I know that, and even writer Duane Swierczynski appears to know that, as Anguirus easily clobbers them. This monster bounty hunter angle is pretty much pointless. Boxer is a gruff main character, generic, and lacking the likable exterior that Steven Woods had from Kingdom of Monsters. I'm not saying he's a bad focus, but there's nothing particularly interesting about him. The most fun parts of dialogue is the bickering between him and a Claire, a person he recruited for the cause. (Who happens to be his ex wife.) 

The art is pretty good. While it obviously isn't very detailed, it succeeds in making the monsters look movie accurate and their destruction fun to look at. As stated in the previous review, Godzilla is in his Heisei incarnation, it looks great. Anguirus is actually the best drawn of all them, matching his lovable and slightly fearsome Showa self nearly perfect. Kumonga looks good, and Rodan in his brief shot looks fine. (Again, it appears Rodan is getting the shaft sadly.) The first cover showcases Godzilla underwater, (which doesn't happen at all in the comic, go figure) and is a very nice and different piece. Cover B by Matt Frank features a closeup of Godzilla's head (reminiscent from 2000 Millennium) and Boxer. Dynamic and just awesome. The RI features a wonderful looking Anguirus drawn by the always amazing Jeff Zornow.

Overall, a pretty fun second issue. But, the series is lacking a 'punch.' This issue featured a lot of great monster destruction, but that's it. Boxer and his monster hunters *attempt* to do something to Anguirus, while the reader is left laughing because they know these guys won't be able to do a single thing against him. GODZILLA #2 all Godzilla fans should and most likely will pick up, but this series so far is lacking in the 'great' department.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie is the Greatest Monster Extravaganza since Godzilla Final Wars!

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie came out on December 12th. 2009. Ultraman is a franchise I've recently gotten into. I started with the Original Series, (more on that here) and just two months ago I purchased the complete Ultra-Max series. Last week on Ebay I was browsing through and decided that I wanted to try out the Mega Monster Battle Series. It's divided into two seasons, Mega Monster Battle, and Never Ending Odyssey. I managed to find a subbed DVD, (approved by the Malaysia board, so it's not some cheap bootleg) but sadly I couldn't find a subbed DVD for Never Ending Odyssey. However, another thing came to mind, the Mega Monster Battle movie. I had originally seen some of it on YouTube, but I really wanted to see this thing officially on my TV. So I squeezed in the movie for purchase along with the first season of Mega Monster Battle. (Only $15 plus $3 shipping, you cannot go wrong at all.) I really meant to watch the series first then the film, but the latter arrived in the mail today. (The series is apparently going to be coming in July, international shipping could really be awful sometimes.) A few hours ago I popped it into my PS3 player. The menu was pretty confusing, everything was in Japanese. I had to practically guess how to get to English subtitles! After not picking it and having to go back to the menu, I finally managed to watch it. This movie is the coolest thing since Godzilla Final Wars, I don't think I've seen a film with so many fights! But do you know what the real kicker is?


Godzilla Final Wars had 15 monsters, pretty awesome huh? This film had ONE HUNDRED. It's an Ultraman fan's dream to see all the familiar faces. Even if we have an overpowered Gomora, it's all awesome. Of course, many would consider it its downfall in the same way they do Final Wars. The latter had so many monsters, but they aren't really portrayed as 'threats.' We have an overpowered Godzilla taking out Gigan in one hit, and then we have an overpowered Gomora where he's able to plow through Red King and Telesdon without even breaking a sweat. It's definitely more of a fan service to see all these guys. I mean, the very first opponent they have Gomora run into is Red King, since these two are pretty much the most popular of the Ultra monsters. Then they have Zetton of course lasting pretty much the whole time without getting one-shot KO'd (until Zero came along) because, y'know, he's Zetton. Even my main man Antlar pops in to grab the original Ultraman as a tribute to when they first fought 43 years ago. Then Ultraman somehow takes out Antlar in one blast. What was that? They pretty much overpowered the Ultramen like they did with Godzillla. But you know what? The film doesn't descend into American Hollywood realm, it doesn't rely on gimmicks, it's just monsters, Ultramen, and a few humans with EDF suits. Even if the monsters are undermined, it's still hard not to smile when you see 100 of them vs. a bunch of Ultramen.

Did I mention that Alien Zarab shows up in his Fake Ultraman form? Nostalgia at its finest. He's the one that releases the film's antagonist, Ultraman Belial. I crossed out the Ultraman part because he was once an Ultra, but then he's merged with a demonic entity, he's no longer an Ultra warrior. He's pretty much the hotshot villain who wants to keep getting more power. A 'dark Ultraman,' y'know, what Japan likes doing to their characters in giving them an evil counterpart. (Dark MegaMan, Dark Samus, etc.) He's the one that summons the 100 monster army. So basically he was going to use them to reign the universe. The monsters are pawns for this humanoid villain. It's similar to the way Final Wars uses its hotshot Xilien villain. He also uses the monsters as pawns in the grand scheme of things. (Though Belial obviously wins out here.) Not to mention that all the monsters merge to create this thing called Baryudora (looks like Destoroyah mixed with Balrog) that is perhaps the largest monster ever. Pretty awesome design, but an but anti-climatic battle. Then again, not much could be done with this extremely giant thing against these little guys. (When compared to it of course.)

C'mon, the original Ultraman, Ultra-7, Ultraman Mebius, and more?! This is what people like me dream about. All of them get their fair amount of screen time, I like how they made the original Ultraman do the best against the battle with Belial near the beginning. My only complaint here is that they kinda left Ultra-Max in the dust after Belial knocked him out. But really, it's just a blast to see them all together fighting hordes of monsters from throughout the years. We also get to see M78, the planet of the Ultras. What I didn't expect to see was that the Ultras were a whole race. So that was some fascinating insight. This film also introduces a new Ultra: Ultraman Zero, son of Seven. It's the same thing as usual, a hotshot kid who learns what it means to be a true warrior by the end. Generic, but this film isn't exactly deep or anything. But that's okay, because this film has what Final Wars has: heart. While some may disagree with me on the latter, I stand by it. Mega Monster Battle is the new Final Wars.

This being made in 2009, I was expecting really good fights, but this, this was just amazing. The very first monster fight between Gomora and Zaragas was just amazing. This is a modern Japanese kaiju film with some of the best fights I've ever seen. The only modern movie that I could think of that likes to show off some amazingly choreographed fights is Marvel's The Avengers. This film's fights are just extreme, it's what Japanese kaiju battles are all about. However, it also has its fair share of humanoid fights between the Ultras and Belial. In that way, this and Final Wars are similar. While the latter is obviously built more around the monsters, a lot of the focus is on the hotshot Xilien villain. The majority of the focus in this film is on Belial. You know, there are a few similarities between Rei and Ozaki. Both are brothers, just like with Ozaki and the Xilien kid, and both are controlled by the antagonist near the end. 

I'm seeing quite a few similarities between these two films. Maybe it's cause I've seen Final Wars five times and its my favorite film ever, but Mega Monster Battle is a special movie. While it was not not billed as a 'so-and-so anniversary' special, it might as well have been. There are so many things that longtime Ultra fans will appreciate. We have 100 monsters from throughout the years and pretty much all the Ultramen make appeareances. This is one of those rare films where there's no moments to buy time or develop the characters, they do that in flashbacks. In that way also it's similar to Final Wars. So what exactly was this article about? Was it a review, a comparison with Final Wars, or just to talk about the film? I'd like to say it has a little bit of each. This film is a blast from the start, the whole beginning features an epic battle between Mebius and Bemular, a monster not seen since the very first episode of the Original Series. The film's opening credits is good for newcomers, so even if you don't know what the heck Ultraman is aside you thinking he's a Power Ranger, this film I highly recommend. Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie is the coolest thing to come out of Japan since Godzilla Final Wars.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gojira (Godzilla) Review

I had never seen the original Godzilla. Before you throw tomatoes at me in shame, in my defense, I had seen the American version, King of the Monsters many years ago. To be honest, I found it boring. I had only seen it once, and I've had the DVD all these years. It wasn't until not too long ago that I discovered American dubs often change the overall film it translates. Gigantis, The Fire Monster being a prime example. Criterion had released the Blu-Ray of Gojira back in January, so I was finally going to watch it later in the year when I purchased it. But just yesterday, the Turner Classic Movies channel had a night dedicated to Ishiro Honda, the director of this classic. The amazing part? They were going to air not the American version, but the original 1954 classic with subtitles. I took this opportunity to check it out. Gojira is the beginning, without it, a part of pop culture would be missing. The film is easily a masterpiece that holds up to this day.

Here's the official description from Classic Media:
The ocean's surface boils white-hot and a Japanese freighter mysteriously vanishes in the Pacific. Rescue boats meet the same fate, and the superstitious villagers of Odo Island fear an ancient legend has come true: the legend of Godzilla! Reawakened from eons-long sleep by an H-bomb test, the behemoth seeks revenge on the civilized world, turning Tokyo into a wasteland of atomic fire and rubble. Caught in the monster's path of destruction are young lovers Emiko and Ogata, who must betray their friend Dr. Serizawa, a brilliant but tormented scientist, in order to save the world.

It's extremely fascinating to check out this film in this day and age. After watching Godzilla being a hero, shaking hands with a robot, and playing soccer, (the latter is slightly a joke) it's very interesting to see Godzilla as a horror icon. The film's purpose isn't about a giant monster destroying a city, it's symbolism of why we shouldn't use nuclear weapons. The message still pertains to this day, making this film timeless. Ishiro Honda is a masterful director. No one can match his depressing tone for his films. Really, there is no other monster film like this. The fact that it's in black and white also helps. Honda's use of camera angles is a very nice touch, especially with Godzilla attacking the city. The scene with the humans and closeup of him stomping really gives the impression that this is a giant monster invading. Some of the later films in this era failed to do that. One of the famous characters in this film is Dr. Serizawa, the creator of the infamous Oxygen Destroyer. The characters actually hold up the film well, that's something the majority of the Heisei films failed to do. (You would think as the years went on they would get better, but not in the Heisei era.)

The film has a few focuses. Unlike a lot of the characters later on, these guys just feel 'genuine,' There's a certain realness to them that makes their screen time not boring to watch. Ogata is a simple character, but the viewer likes him. There's Dr. Yamane, a familar face in these films. His fixation on Godzilla doesn't feel forced, and by the end, he's the one that gives the overall massage of the film. His daughter Emiko is the female lead. While some of her scenes with her shouting was overdone, she remained a lovely and genuine character. Her relationship with Oga was just cute and innocent. You don't see romance portrayed like that anymore. Dr. Serizawa is by far the most interesting of the characters. I think the film should have made him more of a focus from the start, it also should have talked more about his backstory. With that said, well, how can one not find this guy interesting? It appears he's a bit of a mad scientist, but it goes deeper than that. His death was really felt. There is really no other character like him in the rest of the Godzilla movies.

This film laid the foundation for the music of the series. Akira Ifukube was one of the most amazing theme composers of his time, all his music here really brings the film alive. Godzilla's familiar theme is first heard here. The intro with the theme playing alongside the TOHO logo (you can also hear Godzilla's footsteps and roar, amazing touch) is just utterly fantastic and prepares you for a film you won't be forgetting anytime soon. One cannot forget to mention the incredible work of special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya. For a film made in 1954, you just have to stand up and clap. Some of the miniature work actually looks better than a lot of the miniatures in the Heisei films! Originally Godzilla was going to be done using stop motion, like with The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the original King Kong, but ended up being suit-animation However, despite the film's age, it looks really realistic thanks to smartly filmed camera angles. The actual look is great, I didn't remember it looking that good. The film has many iconic moments, such as the great and infamous scene with Godzilla holding a train in his mouth. You can see the heart injected into this film, it has such emotion. As the camera shows a destroyed Tokyo, the viewer feels a calming, yet sadness inside. The scenes with the casualties really set the depressing mood, especially with that song 'Prayer for Peace" playing. Godzilla rearing his head for the first time over the hill was simplistic yet extremely effective. The part where he rises out of the ocean is just great, it actually looks realistic. In the later Showa films, it just doesn't catch the realism the original film managed to accomplish. The effects are just amazing for a film that was made almost sixty years ago. (Even if you could see the flame thrower in Godzilla's mouth.) The ending is just  unbelievable. As you see Godzilla, you just can't help but feel sorry for him. Maybe its the music, but for some reason, you just feel sorry for him as gets turned to bones thanks to the Oxygen Destroyer.

Overall, Gojira is a much different Godzilla film than the ones we're used to watching. It's fascinating to see how it went from being dark and depressing to having Godzilla team up with a robot against a giant cockroach and cyborg chicken. It's interesting to see how the films' tone changed as the years went by. This film will always pertain to an audience, even in today's world. Gojira is a film that introduced the concept of having a giant monster attack Japan. Thanks to its success, we would get a cash-in sequel in the form of Godzilla Raids Again. Thus was born one of the greatest franchises of all time. Gojira is a timeless classic and is a film everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime.