X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

Joe and Kris discuss the newest X-Men movie about time travel which gives Kris a headache and is second nature for Star Trek fan Joe.

 

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Godzilla: King of the Supporting Monsters. Spoilers.

Off the bat, I am not a huge Godzilla fan, but like many kids home for the summer, he was stable afternoon television. At least for the East Coast. To get myself into the mood I watched the original 1956 Godzilla on Netflix.. While Pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr narrates and smokes his way through the film, there is a large sense they are doomed. The movie is obviously a giant warning against using nuclear weapons and the horrors of Japan after the Atomic Bombings. There is also a bit of  a statement on arraigned marriages and love. Yet, the overall storyline is a guy in a suit with some King Kong stop motion action knocking over obviously small models. It desperately needs a re-mastered Blu Ray edition. Still, it holds up thanks a lot of not seeing the monster for a good chunk of the film and Burr being the center of a film who is charming when he needs to be and a stoic newspaper man, the next. There is also a heroic sacrifice of a scientist who is so distraught about using the weapon to kill Godzilla, he burns his work and then commits suicide .Its pretty damn good.

I love the opening credit sequence of this film. It has the usual credits, but they get blacked out like an official document that you are not supposed to know what it is really about. It gives a good conspiracy fell to it. It even has some old footage that looks like it was filmed in the 50s to give it the full X-Files look. However, this where the movie stops being creative. We open with the helicopter sequence from Jurassic Park. I kid you not a female Paleontologist named Dr. Grant walks out, but instead of John Hammond we get  screen legend Ken Watanabe who play Dr. Ichiro Serizawa. They are lead to a construction site that dug too far thinking they hit a patch of uranium. Instead we see these giant bones of a long dead dinosaur. The bones contact to two eggs, one is still alive and the other has hatched. The hatched one heads to nuclear plant in the Philippines. Did I mention it is 1999? It really doesn’t matter.

In the Philippines, Joe Brody played by Bryan Cranston in a more Hal from Malcolm in the Middle than Walt from Breaking Bad role. Joe has a son, Ford and wife who are trying to surprise him on his birthday, but he is trying to convince his boss that the nuclear plant maybe headed for disaster with nearby tremors. So, you know you would be distracted to. Joe’s wife also works at the plant and under his order investigates the core. While at work, all hell breaks loose. The tremors are getting closer and steady. Joe’s wife is stuck in a corridor when a coolant leak erupts, Star Trek term. Joe is forced to close the doors on her to save the city from radiation poisoning. After this rather emotional somewhat over acted moment happens, Joe’s son is in school watching the planet be destroyed to the point I have no idea how Joe survived.

15 years later and the ageless actors return minus Ford who is aged. He is a soldier returning home to San Fransisco to his wife and son. Symmetry kids, Symmetry. While home for a few hours, he gets call that Joe is in jail for crossing into the Quarantine Zone. Ford goes to see now shabby dressed Joe who thinks the signals are talking to each other and they are getting worse. In bad idea/plot movement, Ford agrees to go into the Zone. Low and behold, its free and clear of radiation and Joe gets his disc to prove his theory. They are caught by Monarch, who I think has been part of the Godzilla ongoing series. All I know is I wanted to shout in my best Monarch from Venture Brothers “Release the Butterflies” when I saw their butterfly symbol. Ken Watanabe and not-Sam Neil, Alan Grant arrive. Ken believes Joe, but there is a bigger problem. The base where all of them are at is actually housing the living egg. Guess what? You already did, it hatched. If you think its Godzilla, think again. Its M.U.T.O or Mothera or a generic H.R. Geiger, may he rest in peace, monster with wings and four legs. It destroys the place and kills Joe in the process. It also kills the sorta most interesting character in this film. Ford and Joe have some reconciliation at the end.

Watanabe at the end of this bit has a look on his face that he keeps through the entire film of stunned realization, he has no idea what to do. It works and doesn’t work. Ford is pissed when he confronts them, but not pissed enough to put anyone through a wall which I would have done. Instead, we get the info that Bikini Island nuking was done to stop Godzilla. You can see him in a picture like that of Bigfoot in the 1970s. I do think Ken was added to this film for two reasons to remind of us of the original theme of Godzilla of the horrors of nuclear weapons and to say Godzilla like your stereotypical Asian dude. NATO takes over at this point and it becomes a chase to track down MUTO. David Strathaim from Alphas the TV show plays Admiral Stenz. He could be an interesting character, but he just gives orders and has one or two good scenes with Dr. Serizawa. They chase the MUTO to Hawaii where it wrecks the place, but also unknowingly awakes Godzilla. Ford saves a local kid, the military gets their ass handed to them thanks to the EMP pulse the MUTO generates and we get a two minute monster fight that most of which shows up on Ford’s TV in San Fransisco.

At this point, the movie becomes a game of Ford narrowly escaping the carnage of the monster fights and the rather insane plans of the military. We find out the MUTO is contacting the egg that they found in the 1990s. That one was buried in Nevada, put a big hole in a nuclear dump that no one noticed, is pregnant and wrecks Vegas. The monsters are attracted to radiation. So, NATO decides to explode a mega-ton nuke off the coast of San Fransisco. Why not Mexico or the middle of the Ocean or not do it at all is the better question. Ford creates a clockwork detonator to save it from the pulse. Dr. Ichiro’s plan is to let Godzilla handle it. Again, another bad idea. There really are no good ideas in this film. Ford calls his family to say to stay put instead of telling them to get the hell out of there ahead of the traffic. His son does get out thanks to the hero of the film, a bus driver who doesn’t give a shit. The cops have the San Fransisco Bridge blocked off as Godzilla goes through. There is panic and missiles and a bus driver who doesn’t give a shit. He saves the kids as the bridge is cut in half behind them. We all wish we had this guy behind the wheel in these types of films.

The end comes when the nuke gets taken by the bigger MUTO and the two MUTOs have monster sex maybe? The nuke is covered in MUTO embryos. Godzilla attacks, but its a two on one handicapped match with the humans being utterly useless. Ford and his team air drop in. They get the nuke while Ford sets the embryos on fire causing a massive explosion. Guess he is Pro-Monster Choice. This causes the bigger MUTO to go after the army allowing Godzilla to use his tail to slam the little MUTO into a building and killing it. The bigger MUTO attacks and kills Ford’s team, but Ford is left alive to get the bomb on a boat. The MUTO almost kills Ford for the Fourth time, but Godzilla Mortal Kombat finishes him with his fire breath. Ford looks to die, but is saved by the military, the nuke goes off for no reason.

Godzilla looks to die, but gets up for the now announced sequel. There are problems with this film. First, the acting of Ford and his wife is just ok. The fact we killed off TV’s best actor in the first half hour of the film was a terrible idea. Cranston and Watanabe could have been a nice duo to play off one another. Cranston never really trusting Watanabe since he ruined his life. Watanabe, a man trying to restore both their honor while perhaps coming up with a plan to kill Godzilla from the first film or making the sacrificial play. Instead, we get generic GI Joe with Daddy Issues who has the same look as he did the first time he saw his first monster to the last confrontation. Speaking of characters hardly in the film, Godzilla. In a movie about Godzilla, we get the MUTO for almost the entire film. Its annoying and stupid. I never really got Godzilla as the hero, I liked him as the big threat in his movies. Once we got Daddyzilla and Son of Godzilla, this franchise hit a new low. A Godzilla movie dealing with the horrors of the constant threat of nuclear disaster due to nature and honor would have made a better film. Perhaps even some of the nature vs man theme would be cool too. Instead, we get a little bit better than a Michael Bay film with monsters.

Its not terrible, but its not good. Godzilla 2000 is still worse than this. There are some good moments, but not enough to save it. It will be a hit, yet with this cast and budget, it should have been better. 3 out of 5 stars.

Mike Reviews The Amazing Spiderman 2. So, Joe didn’t have to waste his money.

Hello movie fans!

Today I’m reviewing the recently released Amazing Spider-man 2.  I went into this movie with as much of an open mind as I could since I was disappointed with the first one.  Anyway, this movie starts off with a flashback of Richard and Mary Parker giving the audience some more insight into what happened with his parents.  We learn how they died but are left wondering why Richard Parker turned on Oscorp.  Fast-forward to modern day to the police and Spider-Man chasing a criminal by the name of Aleksei Sytsevich, played by Paul Giamatti.  Spider-Man quickly catches up to him and his phone rings to the tune of the classic Spider-Man theme song. (My first problem with the movie: It just seems random and doesn’t make any sense.  At least in Rami’s Spider-Man 2 he had a local street performer create the song which is a silly and fun way of inserting the song into the movie.  Here it just happens to be his ringtone even though this song technically doesn’t exist in this universe. Did he create the ringtone himself?)  Gwen calls Peter because he’s late for graduation, while talking to her he sees the face of Capt. Stacy in a passing patrol car reminding him of the promise he made her father in the first one(in case you forgot he promised to stay away from Gwen to keep her out of danger).  Gwen received the valedictorian and gives a speech while Spider-Man continues his chase.

While Aleksei plows through traffic we come across a nerdy man named Max, played by Jamie Fox, who stumbles in the street and drops his work. Spider-Man helps him and gives him a mild pep talk, Max is astonished that Spider-Man saved him and talked up to him.  Spidey catches Aleksei and we return to the graduation.  After the ceremony Gwen invites Peter to come to dinner with her family to celebrate to which he agrees, her mother then asks Peter to join them for a photo but he once again sees the image of Capt. Stacy and refuses.  That night he goes to the restaurant to meet Gwen but instead of joining her family he tells her in private that they can’t be together because it’s too dangerous for her, she gets upset and breaks up with him.  (A positive in this movie are all of the Gwen/Peter scenes.  They were pretty well written and were acted well.)

The next scene has Spidey swinging through the city while news reports play in the background of the mixed feelings over Spider-Man throughout New York.  Some people call him a vigilante, they don’t trust him around their kids, etc.  The problem I have with this scene is it does nothing for the progression of this movie.  We never see Peter/Spider-Man react to this negativity from the public nor does it come back later in the movie.  Making this whole sequence really pointless.

Next we see Spidey stalking Gwen from the rooftops, watching her….creepy.  Later we go to Max returning to his Spider-Man shrine(pretty much the same scene from Batman Forever with Jim Carrey.)  After this scene Harry returns to visit his father who is sick an dying from something that makes him  goblin-like.  He tells Harry that it’s hereditary and that he too will develop symptoms soon unless he cures himself.  He passes on his life’s work and the title of CEO to Harry upon his death.  Now, I’m OK with changing things from the comics but this is just retarded.  Little to no explanation on what is wrong with their family and why it makes them look like a goblin. I would have preferred a rubber mask.  Back at OSCORP, Max falls into a tank of genetically modified electric eels, although this too is different from the comic books I have to say it works just fine.  I mean, Peter got his powers from radioactive spiders so why not, right?  Peter shows up to OSCORP to see Harry after the passing of his father. The two catch up and Peter mentions that he was seeing a girl named Gwen that works for Harry.

Max wakes up and learns he can absorb electricity.  Peter gets a call from Gwen and he goes to meet her so they can talk.  They have a heartfelt talk and he tells her that he’s been stalking her, she thinks it’s cute, I’m sorry but even if you’re dating/married to someone I doubt anyone would be happy to know you’re watching them from afar…that’s a bit weird.  They go to kiss but Gwen pulls away, she tells him that she has an opportunity to study at Oxford, for those who don’t know Oxford is a university in England, and the oldest English speaking university in the world, before Peter can tell her how he feels about this he senses a presence he’s not felt since…oh wait wrong franchise.  OK, now I know Spider-Man has his spidey sense that warns him of imminent danger but nothing has happened yet, Max is just walking in Manhattan and yet he sensed that something may happen?? How did he do that? If he could do that he’d be able to predict when crimes happen before they do.  He leaves and we go to Max who on instinct begins absorbing electricity in Times Square.  Spider-Man shows up and Max asks him if he remembers him, after reminding him Spidey tells him he remembers and tells him to just calm down.  A sniper takes a shot at Max causing him to lash out electricity all over the place, causing damage to everything around him.  Spidey is able to take him down with a fire hose.

Harry starts developing symptoms of the disease and stumbles onto his father’s work and learns that Richard Parker and his father developed the spiders to be a cure.  Next we go to Peter working on his webshooters and doing research on electricity via YouTube, wait, I thought Parker was a genius. Who the hell uses YouTube for research? I mean, even Wikipedia is a more reliable source than YouTube.  Not to mention we just saw him think quickly on his feet and use the fire hose to take Max down.  Meaning, he knew well enough that water would work or at least thought it was worth a shot.  That was the Spider-Man I know and love.  He is smart and thinks on his feet.  Not to mention didn’t he build his webshooters while still in high school?  You’re telling me he understood how to build complex technology such as webshooters and even design and craft a costume that most high school students would be unable to make but he’s at a loss when battling such a common element such as electricity?  OK, granted even the smartest people sometimes forget things but the fact he searched on YouTube was just a way for the writers to reach out to the audience by saying “Look even Spider-Man learns things via YouTube”.  Which he shouldn’t have to do.

Later, Harry talks to Peter and tells him that he needs him to talk to Spider-Man and tell him he needs some of his blood, that the radioactive spiders their fathers created were to cure diseases.  Parker is hesitant and tells him he’ll try and ask him.  Spider-Man finally meets Harry and they talk.  Spidey tells him he can’t give him his blood, this enrages Harry…not liking this setup at all.  Definitely not on par with Harry hating Spider-Man for killing his father and swearing revenge.  This is a really forced way to make Harry a villain with no development, he’s introduced and within 20 – 30 minutes he now hates Spider-Man.  Peter finds Gwen and tells her what is happening and is about to tell her that the only thing he is sure of is how he feels about her when he’s stopped because she’s about to do her interview for Oxford.  She asks him to tell her what he was about to say but he tells her to go to her interview.  One thing I don’t get is why not let her go to Oxford, keep in touch, and in a few years after she’s graduated you see what happens? They haven’t even begun college yet and he’s acting like he needs to settle down RIGHT NOW.  He has just begun life as Spider-Man, let her go away for a few years and you can concentrate, probably much better than now, on doing your job which you promises your uncle you would do, and at the same time you’d be keeping your promise with her father….Ugh…

Harry is removed by the douchey board member because his sickness is too far gone and he’s no longer capable of running the company.  Peter uses the information from his father to find a hidden lab in an abandoned subway.  He finds a video message from his father(the one he was recording in the beginning of the movie).  We learn why his father was demonized by Oscorp, he found out that they were using the research for biological weapons for foreign military.  Upon learning this, Richard refused to help and Oscorp spread lies about him to get him removed so they could take his work.  Harry manages to get into the facility holding Max by taking out guards even though he has no training whatsoever.   And he even manages to clear the entire lab by pulling the old high-school gag of pulling the fire alarm….really??  Back to the video Richard Parker says how the only thing he regrets is not seeing his son again, a pretty touching scene.  Harry gets to Max and forms an alliance with him by telling him he’ll get him Spider-Man if he helps Harry break into Oscorp.  He then begins begging and whining like a girl, really, it’s a quite funny scene.  He uses a taser to give energy to Max so he can break free and take out the guards.  Max now can turn completely into electricity and then form into a body again, with shorts for some reason, even though he had no chance to practice controlling his powers…seriously, he was confined, powerless and somehow is a master of electricity now…this movie just keeps trying to force things without logic, I understand we’re nearing the 2-hour mark and we need the final fight to start but there has been no development whatsoever, we met psudo-Electro who couldn’t control his powers and now it’s as if he had always had them.

Gwen leaves a message for Peter telling him that she got into Oxford and that they should just end things between them.  Meanwhile, Max shows up at Oscorp materializing in a super villain costume for some reason.  Harry attempts to kill the board member when the sickness completely takes over him, again this whole sickness thing makes absolutely no sense, and as it begins transforming him into a goblin it seems he makes it to this super military suit which gives him what I guess super strength…at this point I have f’n idea what’s going on.  While traveling in a Taxi the driver tells Gwen that he sees Spider-Man who webs “I love you” on the Brooklyn Bridge, she goes to him and they have a typical romance movie ending where the girl and the guy get back together.  By now I’m begging for Max or Harry to show up as this movie is all over the place.  Max knocks out the power in the city as he absorbs it into himself.  Gwen gives Peter a science lesson so he can use his webbing against him, I thought Peter was the scientist? I know Gwen is smart but Christ dude, you’re supposed to be Peter Parker the genius.  Maybe he shouldn’t have done his research on friggin’ YouTube!  She helps him magnetize his webshooters so he can use them, Gwen insists that she’s going with him to help him but he tells her it’s too dangerous and webs her hand to a police car.  Spidey fights Max who is alone for some reason. Is Harry just watching? I think 2 on 1 would have been much better.  Max has Spidey locked in a huge electrical web and Gwen comes dashing in a patrol car knocking Max down and saving Spidey.  SEE!! What did I just say? 2 on 1 is always better, and yet Harry is still waiting.  Peter begins yelling out her that she needs to leave but she tells him it’s her life and her decision, Peter gives in and lets her stay.  They decide to overcharge Max so he overloads and is destroyed, I think?  After that we hear a sinister laugh from above and Harry shows up transformed.  By this point the movie is nearly over so we know this isn’t going to be a long scene, why the writers felt the Green Goblin being in 10 minutes of the movie was so important is beyond me.  If you had just cut Harry out of this movie it would have been better, but one of the big problems with this movie is they focused too much on setting up the next one(s) as opposed to making a solid movie.

Harry sees Gwen and Spider-Man together and decides that Spider-Man must be Peter, a really lame way for him to find out his identity I felt.  There’s literally no drama it’s just “oh you must be Peter since you’re near Gwen.” He tells Peter that he took away his chance at getting better and so he’ll take away what Peter holds dear and grabs Gwen.  He drops her but Spidey saves her and tells her to wait inside the clock tower.  Spidey and Harry(I refuse to call him the Green Goblin, even Max was never once referred to as Electro, kinda weird seeing how cartoony this movie is I figured they’d go all out and give all the villains names too).  It’s a relatively short fight scene, Gwen at one point almost falls but Peter uses his webbing to hold her, at the same time he has Harry held in another web and tries to hold both of them but fails.  Gwen begins to fall, Harry gets knocked out and Peter jumps down to try and save her.(I think every Spider-Man fan knows what’s about to happen).  He shoots out a web that takes the form of a hand to symbolize him reaching out to her but just as the web catches her either her neck snaps(as in the comic) or she hits the floor.  He goes down to her but she’s already dead.

The next scene shows the funeral for her.  Wait a minute, so in the comics the police show up to the scene after Gwen dies and of course seeing Spider-Man with her they assume he was responsible and this puts Spider-Man in a bit of trouble, which of course makes for good storytelling.  Here are we to assume that Spider-Man left her body, cleared off his webbing(thus hiding evidence and removing himself as a suspect) and then fled the scene?  The big problem with this ending for me is that it was rushed.  This for some reason is what many fans are saying is their favorite scene in the movie.   My problem is the scene is shoved into a movie it had no place being in just for the sake of having this scene.  She dies, he’s sad, then he’s not sad, the end.  All of that could have been the final act of the movie instead of several minutes.  Seriously, imagine if she had died halfway into this movie and Peter had to deal with his failure and make the choice to do the right thing and return to being Spider-Man.  Instead we get a short 5-minute silent sequence.  Also don’t forget that the writers felt it was necessary to have us hear news reports of how most of Manhattan didn’t trust Spider-Man.  What was that setting up?? Apparently nothing.  That could have been used to fuel Spider-Man being a suspect in murder and thus making a solid and dramatic finish to this movie.  Was there no investigation into Gwen’s murder?  And another thing, Peter decides to give up being Spider-Man because Gwen died. Which makes no sense, he was ready to up and leave his Aunt and everything else behind to go to London with Gwen and probably Spider-Man as well.  But her dying makes him give it up?

Then months pass and we see Peter continuing to visit her grave.  The scene changes to the mystery man from the first movie, he visits an imprisoned Harry who doesn’t look transformed anymore and tells him that Spider-Man is gone and that he has several candidates(probably for the sinister six) and they can wreak havoc on the city, Harry likes this idea for some reason, we learn that his disease comes and goes.  Here’s another thing that makes no sense, Apparently Harry still has his mind and memories, he hasn’t lost himself at all. The only thing he wanted was revenge on Spider-Man for not helping him, so when the hell did he decide that he wanted to just “See the world burn”?  This movie is written horribly, look at the 3 main guys who wrote this movie and you’ll understand why.  Harry tells the mystery man that everything they need is at Oscorp to which the man goes and is identified as Mr. Fiers(perhaps referencing a character from Adam-Troy Castro’s Sinister Six novels).  As Fiers walks through Oscorp we get a view of all the “weapons” they’ve been developing including Doc Ocs’ arms, Vulture’s wings, and a Rhino mecha suit?  We then learn on the news that Aleksei Sytsevich has been broken out of prison and that Spider-Man has been gone for 5 months.  We get the Rhino-Gundam wreaking havoc in the city, he actually calls himself the Rhino and a little boy dressed as Spider-Man decides to confront him, this is the same little boy we thought was a genius earlier, I’m guessing he’s not that smart.  Before Rhino could harm the boy Spider-Man returns to action and the movie ends.

 

In the end I’m left wondering if the first one was so well perceived, why change writers? For those who don’t know they hired different writers for this one and clearly they captured some of the essence of the first one but at the same time strayed too far away.  Andrew Garfield is an incredible actor and portrays both Parker and Spider-Man wonderfully, which is a shame that they had picked a good actor but just couldn’t execute a good story.  The villains are poorly developed, with very lazy writing. For example, when Max first awakes with his new power he cannot control it.  Then they drain his power while he is imprisoned(meaning he can’t practice controlling it) and yet when Harry frees him he’s a master of his power.  Harry is another problem, his motivation to get revenge on Spider-Man makes little to no sense.  After the disease has taken full control over him he gets the special suit with steroids to keep him alive/give him superior abilities.  Why didn’t his father use this then?  As soon as Felicia(God I hope she’s not supposed to be Black Cat) recommends that he use the suit to keep himself alive I immediately realized if Norman designed it, why the hell didn’t he use it?  The major problem with this movie is the story has too much going on, too many characters, and the writing is far too lazy/convenient.  Everything revolves around Oscorp which makes everything tie together nice and easy so you don’t have to be as creative when tying things together.  His father worked there, Gwen worked there, Max worked there, ALL of the future Spider-Man villains will come from there…it just takes away from more creative storytelling.  And just to address the people who feel this movie is superior to Rami’s 1st and 2nd Spider-Man, let me tell you why critics don’t agree.  This story deals with Peter and Gwen’s relationship, that’s it.  Rami’s Spider-Man 2 had romance but it also delved into a story about humanity as well as a few other issues, this movie in all its randomness had a very simple underlying plot, young love.  Which is what hurts this movie, it’s a super hero movie that doesn’t deal with the Spider-Man aspect, it’s just a story about a boy in love who happens to have powers.  This is overlooked by many or is just ignored, which is fine.  If you enjoyed this movie that’s great, I’m just being honest with what I and many critics saw wrong with it.  In the end this movie worked more to set up future sequels while not giving us a solid story.

This movie gets 1 1/2 stars out of 5.  The action/CGI is good(but today that isn’t a great feat, most modern blockbusters have good effects and the CGI has nothing to do with directing, acting or writing), the actors were all good, but the story was an utter mess and poorly developed.  If you’re going in to watch a mindless action movie that just happened to have an incarnation of the character Spider-Man and his villains but lose the true essence of Spider-Man then you’ll love this movie.  As for me, I was left disappointed.