Godzilla (2014)


You Have No Idea What’s Coming.

Godzilla (2014)Though I have never been a fan of the character today’s movie is based on, I found myself getting very excited to see today’s movie.  The only real interaction I had ever had with the character was watching movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 made fun of, and of course who could forget the Matthew Broderick classic version of the movie that I previously reviewed.  So I really had no reason to be excited to see this movie, but I fear the trailers had the desired effect on me.  And so I finally got in to see Godzilla, written by Max Borenstein, directed by Gareth Edwards, and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, and Juliette Binoche.

Project Monarch scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) find a big ass skeleton in a collapsed mine.  Inside they find two eggs, and one has opened.  In Japan, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) are working at a nuclear power plant when strange seismic activity creates some problems in the plant.  Sandra goes to investigate it when an explosion threatens to release radiation, so Joe is forced to seal her in.  This leads to a 15 year investigation into the cause by Joe, and the 15 year alienation of his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  But Joe’s investigation eventually brings them together to go back and investigate the exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant, only to find that the government is using it to cover up a giant chrysalis that erupts into a massive winged creature that starts rampaging around the world, feeding off radiation.

You may wonder to yourself how I managed to write a synopsis of a Godzilla movie without mentioning Godzilla himself.  That’s similar to my feelings about how they could make a Godzilla movie with so little Godzilla.  Look, movie!  …Can I call you movie?  Anyway, I did not come to see you so I could watch Bryan Cranston’s family troubles.  I came to see a big ass reptile fuck shit up.  It took an hour for this movie to show us a giant monster and an hour and a half to see Godzilla.  And that wasn’t the only thing in the movie that didn’t make any sense.  For instance, if you catch people trespassing in your exclusion zone, why is your response to bring them further into the center of the exclusion zone?  That’s like catching someone stalking Natalie Portman and punishing them by forcing them to have sex with her!  And yes, I mean it’s EXACTLY the same!  Also, if you know those MUTO Mothra things have EMP attacks, why are you sending in jets … that run on electricity?  Why not send in some of those steam powered jets they’re working on in Area 51?  The truth is out there.  Speaking of which, I don’t remember Mulder and Scully ever having it so easy that they could just walk up to a military person and say, “I’m in the military!” and having them just tell all of their plans to people.  And speaking of dumb military decisions, once you’ve realized that the MUTO feed on radiation, how do you reach the conclusion that you would like to fight them with a nuclear bomb?  I can only assume they seemed so short staffed on Hawaii because half of their troops were off fighting a volcano with flamethrowers.

I would have to say that all the characters in the movie did a pretty solid job.  Chief among them being Godzilla.  Once they actually let him be in his own movie, he was pretty awesome.  I felt like the role could’ve used a little bit more emotional gravitas, like having him show that he’s wondering why the humans keep feeding the MUTO’s with more nukes, or at some point having a moral dilemma over whether or not he should just tell the humans that keep shooting him while he’s trying to save them to fuck off.  Though it took them a while to build up to it (almost as if Godzilla forgot he could do it), it was pretty awesome when Godzilla first blasted the fire breath … and even better the second time.  The worst performance in the movie by far was the lady MUTO.  Is she really gonna sit there pooping out eggs while the dude MUTO gets stomped by Godzilla?  Typical…  The humans all did good jobs in the movie, but none were super notable or exceptional.

I wanted this movie to be spectacular, but I found that good special effects, a pretty strong final battle, and some good performances could not make up for the fact that they seemed to forget they were making a Godzilla movie.  I didn’t buy my ticket to see the family troubles of the Brody family, or a MUTO Rom Com.  I wanted to see a giant lizard do work!  And I cannot in good faith recommend buying a ticket when the only part I really found satisfying was in the last half hour.  Wait to get it on RedBox.  Godzilla gets “You’re not fooling anybody when you say that what happened was a ‘natural disaster’” out of “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.”

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0038 – Wolfenstein: The New Order One Hour Review


0038 - Wolfenstein: The New Order One Hour Review

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Frozen (2013)


I Don’t Have a Skull.  …Or Bones.

Frozen (2013)I finally found time to get back into the theaters … but we’ll get to that later.  I told Facebook to pick what I would be reviewing next, and Facebook picked Frozen, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee, co-directed by Chris Buck, and including the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciarán Hinds, and Alan Tudyk.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses of Arendelle, but they have special magical powers.  Elsa can create ice at will and Anna falls in love with anything with a penis.  While playing as children, Elsa’s mutant power smashes Anna right in the face nearly killing her.  She is saved by the troll king (Ciarán Hinds), who removes any memories she has of Elsa’s powers.  Elsa isolates herself from Anna to keep from hurting her again, but Anna doesn’t understand why.  Then their parents die because Up was such a popular movie that Disney learned that depressing kids was the way to win their hearts.  When Elsa comes of age, the doors of the castle are opened up for Elsa’s coronation, which activates Anna’s mutant power when the first man says words to her.  Elsa objects to their hour long engagement because you shouldn’t fall in love while waiting for your quality eyeglasses to be made and the ensuing argument reveals Elsa’s powers to the kingdom.  Elsa retreats from the castle, but leaves behind an unseasonable winter to remember her by.  Then Anna goes after her.

There were things that I appreciated about this movie and things I didn’t like, but overall I enjoyed the movie.  They did some unexpected things with the story that I thought were interesting, but I’ll get to those later.  One of the things I liked about the movie may not even have been true.  I like it when Disney movies put in references to other Disney movies, like how this movie had Flynn and Rapunzel in one scene.  I also heard someone speculate that the boat sinking in the beginning was the wreck from the Little Mermaid.  I even noticed some of my own.  Did you know that the reindeer was in the Lion King?  And that the snowman was the same one from Aladdin?  You gotta think about these things, people.  But since this is a movie and I’m just nit-picky, I noticed a few things in the story that didn’t make sense.  For instance, they talk in this movie multiple times about how it’s much better that Anna got hit in the head by Elsa’s ice powers than it would have been if she’d been hit in the heart.  I kind of understand the metaphor you were going for, but just think of what you’re doing to the future doctors that are watching this!  I would argue that it is at least equally as bad to have a frozen heart as it is a frozen brain.  Also, what was the deal with that guy at Elsa’s coronation?  Would it REALLY be that big of a deal for Elsa to grab that Diablo 3 mace and the Apple of Eden from Assassin’s Creed with her gloves on?  Is it because, by the laws of Arendelle, that would make Elsa’s gloves Queen of the land?  Another problem was just a continuity error.  Elsa created her dress out of her ice powers, so why did her dress remain when she removed the ice from the land at the end of the movie?  Technically speaking, she should’ve been naked.  That’s just good science.

A lot of the problems I had with this movie were because of the message of female empowerment that saturated the movie.  First of all, I’m a chauvinist, so I don’t like any lying ass movie that says women are strong.  But also, it just wasn’t really consistent.  Sure, they didn’t need the man to save her at the end of the movie because the act of true love was her saving her sister.  That’s nice and novel for a Disney movie, but it’s not like Anna didn’t need a man through most of the movie.  She saved Kristoff a few times, but she wouldn’t even have gotten close to the castle without him.  And she did fall in love with him, so that’s not really that novel for a Disney movie.  You might think it was because the original love interest turned out to be the bad guy, but that’s more of a “Men are dicks” message than about how women are strong.  I’ll tell you a few things I DID learn about women from this movie: women LOVE chocolate and can’t control their emotions, even when it involves magical powers and leads to killing your sister … twice.  So I liked the breaks in tradition like not having an evil queen and not solving every problem by making out with some dude, but I’m not going to pat them on the back too hard for it.

I think the biggest problem I had with this movie was the same I have with any musical: that it was one.  I don’t mind music and singing in a movie, but not all of these songs needed to exist.  I don’t get why the music at the beginning of the movie sounds like a rejected song from the Lion King.  I also didn’t think I needed a song that was probably called “We Collect Ice for a Living.”  Nor did I need to know that about that group of random people at all.  Nor did that group of people need to be in the movie.  Let’s just jump right into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  That was a good and cute song that actually told a bit of story in a helpful way.  And, of course, there’s “Let It Go.”  This one is a tricky one because it doesn’t really need to exist either as it’s basically just Elsa saying she’s cool living in a castle made of ice – a story that I would’ve put together when I saw her living in it – but the song is so strong that I wouldn’t have the movie without it.  The song between Sven and Kristoff was pointless, and the song with the trolls seemed to intentionally waste my time.  It was all about the trolls thinking Anna and Kristoff were in love, then they said they weren’t, then the trolls basically said, “Oh, then we just wasted a lot of your time.  Shall we try to save Anna’s life now?”

The cast was all great.  Good singin’ pipes and good character performances as well.  Kristen Bell played Anna really cute and funny, and made her very easy to engage with … which is something that Hans took advantage of.  GET IT?!?!  I would’ve been much different in Anna’s position.  First of all, I’d have a vagina.  That’s a big change.  Then I would’ve hated Elsa.  Not because she hit me in the face with ice and nearly killed me, but because she got mutant powers and I got jack shit!  I would be so pissed at my sister if that happened!  She doesn’t even read comic books!!  And Anna picked a really shitty time to air out her emotional baggage with Elsa.  Did you have to do it in the middle of her coronation in a crowded room full of strangers?  Just imagine how much better that would’ve gone if you went to her room and hashed it out in private like a decent person.  No one would’ve even witnessed it when she stabbed you in the heart with an icicle. Idina Menzel did great, but I kept wondering if Adele Tazlim wouldn’t have done better.  Josh Gad did a great job with Olaf as well.  He had his moments where it seemed like he was trying too hard, but most of the time he was funny and relentlessly adorable.  There were two characters that I had real problems with in this movie.  First was Hans.  Not his motivation though, I completely agree with him on his “Bang either one of the sisters or kill them both.  Either way, you’re King” philosophy.  But why did you have to be the idiot that jumps the gun and lets the hero survive?  Are you a Bond villain?!  Anna was SO close to dying when you decided to go announce it to everyone.  What if they had gone into the room as you might expect someone to do when the princess of your kingdom dies two doors down from the room you’re standing in?  The very least they would’ve found out was that she wasn’t dead, and then the next part of that is that they find out you’re an asshole.  Speaking of assholes: the King and Queen!  “We’ll protect Elsa from the world!  We’ll lock her in her room and give her no emotional issues and really teach her to value her life!”  You might have at least tried to get someone to train her on how to control her powers.  Those troll assholes seemed like they might’ve known a thing or two about magic.

Frozen was a fine Disney movie, but it didn’t blow me away.  It broke from a few conventions of Disney movies, allowing for stronger female protagonists, but kept enough of them in to properly represent women as Cathy from the comic strips, being over emotional and loving chocolate.  I felt that some of the songs were a waste of time, but “Let It Go” was my jams.  I would say I probably recommend you watch this movie, but in the very least you should set “Let It Go” on a loop on YouTube.  Frozen gets “Foot size doesn’t matter” out of “I love it! It’s so cute!  It’s like a little baby unicorn!”

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