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2nd Viewing of GODZILLA (1998), MULAN and FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS reviews

Ya know some days just happen to be movie going days. Some of those 'special' days are days of revelation, and today did I go through a ton of them.

I woke up at 1030 hours c.s.t. (cool standard time) and found myself being awoken by my father to see GODZILLA for a second time. We actually both liked the film the first time around, siting almost exclusively the effects for our reasons. And that's why we were back to pay matinee prices to see the film.

We arrive at a near empty Highland 10 parking lot and go in to buy our tickets. As we enter the theater a single Godzilla fan is sitting on row 7, center, and when he sees me he asks if this is my small theater I was referring to in my review. I instantly begin talking with him from row 4 center.

He's talking about all the cool Godzilla films of the past, and how my review got him fired up, etc, etc.

Then the theater got dark, 15 people in attendance (hmmmmmmm). The first thing to appear on my screen was the ghastly whiny voice of Garth Brooks and images of Hope Floats. Endless crooning ripping through my noggin...

Then came the trailer for LETHAL WEAPON 4. Same ol trailer, can't wait for more Jet Li footage...

An OUT OF SIGHT trailer that just came and went in about 30 seconds... strange, it wasn't even a full theatrical.

Then came the ARMAGEDDON trailer that opens with the love story between Ben and Liv. WOW, I am so there for that film. Really well done. Hallenbeck told me last night that he is now a raving madman dying to see the film. Initially he hated the film, and thought it was going to be a piece of shit... apparently he's seen something to change his tune.

There were a couple of other trailers, but quite frankly they left no impression on this cabbage upon my shoulders.

GODZILLA: the second time.

I didn't like it. This reminded me of my reaction to SPEED, the first one, and actually most De Bont films. The first time I was excited to see it, I was in Madison Square Garden, I'd just ridden in the New York Subway, walked down Broadway, stood atop the Empire State Building, saw Muhammid Ali, Chow Yun Fat, Drew Carey, Helen Hunt and that Taco Bell dog. I have always said that the enviroment can color your viewing. Like say you see a suspense film for the first time and some asshole in the theater yells out the ending. Well it can go the other way. Watching that film in Madison Square Garden, and feeling the energy of seeing the film with 15,000+ screaming people lends itself to delusional activity.

And I sure as hell must of been deluded as hell, because I fell asleep 3 times during GODZILLA the second time. I began thinking during the film of all the things the could have done, all the things they could have kept the same or changed. Most of all I began hearing Bernard Herrmann's CAPE FEAR in David Arnold's score and became a bit annoyed. Especially since regularly I adore Arnold's work (Stargate, Tomorrow Never Dies, ID4).

The film dragged like Tommy Chong, for a long time. The Godzilla scenes appeared and I reacted, and I still think those are gorgeous images, but I can't imagine myself watching the film like I could 20 Million Miles To Earth or Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Or the Godzilla films of TOHO. Why? Lack of charm. The Godzilla design just felt cold and non-expressive. He moves great, better than any big lizard I can think of, but it doesn't have an ounce of the character of say Gwangi or Ymir or Godzilla.

They attempted to do a little Godzilla acting, what with the figuring out that one trap, but ya see that would of been the perfect place for a Godzilla howl, followed by the first activation of true atomic breath. The audience would of gone bonkers.

Instead we have another run chase. Bah, humbug. And then the human stuff is 1000 times worse. I swear Matthew's woman just needed to be food for the babies. Now that would of been something. Or can you imagine if she would of been killed at the beginning of the film by Godzilla, then Broderick's character turn into an Ahab of types with Godzilla as his white whale. The killing of the babies, being his 'buried alive inside a dead planet' revenge, only to awaken the same sense of loss in Godzilla. Heck, that sounds like crap, but I like it's smell better, and it wouldn't of had all those painful shots of lip biting and eyes darting to the corner to ponder hair spray thought patterns.

I actually got a bit angry when leaving the theater, cause I was fooled the first time. Kinda like if you drink a glass of 'lemonade', you hand it to your friend and ask for a refill, and when your halfway done with the second glass he tells you it's piss.

The lack of charm of Godzilla, the lack of passion throughout, the lack of awe throughout, the stupid puns really got to me this time, and the whole Mayor Ebert bit I missed the first time, it literally went sailing over my head. Gosh, that film sucks. It still has some damn good effects work, but I highly recommend seeing it just once, and you might even hate me for that, but don't say I didn't warn ya.

Strange though, the Godzilla fan in the audience liked it, it was his first showing, and Dad still did. (Though, when I came in at the end of the evening, Dad was watching the more recent GODZILLA VS MOTHRA and feels that, that film is much more exciting and watchable than GODZILLA 1998)

This sort of reversal has only happened a couple of times with me. The aforementioned SPEED, but then in the reverse with a couple of John Carpenter films. The first time I saw CHRISTINE, I hated it, same with THEY LIVE and PRINCE OF DARKNESS. All of which on multiple viewings I came to love.

First off, I'd like to apologize to anyone that went because of my review. As I watched it today, it was if I had machine gunned innocent people from a helicopter, I felt bad, like I might of contributed to lost hours in lives. Dad and I have had extensive discussions about Emmerich and Devlin, and I really do feel they can do wonderful work. The looks of their films, the technical aspects are just so note perfect for me, but they really need to spend more time on the characters... therein lies the key. In JAWS the shark is lame, but those three guys on that clunky boat... well we care... and that makes every bump, every attack, every taut line of rope powerful. But only because we care. The film wasn't cute, it didn't wink at the audience, instead it merely introduced us to three characters that we were in a boat with, and then tore the hell out of the planks beneath our very soda stuck feet.


I saw MULAN. Hallenbeck recently had a major script sale to a studio, and decided to fly my Dad, Quint and I to Los Angeles, where he had a friend at Disney get us a work print, and then screened it for us at the Chaplin room at Paramount. Amazing, the power that wascally wabbit wields.

The plane ride was uneventful, but Quint was a bit nervous when the stewardess explained the floatation quality of the seat cushion. He started babbling about never using it and some such nonsense. I almost shoved him out over the rockies.

Hallenbeck had Flunky Sidekick pick us up, and off to Paramount we went.

I had always wanted to go back in time and watch the Cannes print of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Cannes, because the artistry of the pencil work on The Beast is so extraordinary that to see that projected... large would really be something.

Anyway, the auditorium sat only 150 or so, but the theater belonged to Hallenbeck's friends in suits, various junior execs in the industry that he uses from time to time.

Joe was drunk as hell, celebrating over the deal, and loving the fact that noone in Hollywood knows it's him. This isn't his first sale. But soon the projectionist started up the film, and we all leaned way back and watched.

I really really like quite a bit about this film, the main part being the head Hun, that I think is a all time great character design. This guy will keep children awake at night.

First off I really feel that the film is something that most people need to take their daughters to. I really wished my sister would of come, but she was taking finals, so she couldn't. What do I mean by 'take your daughters?' Well, it's an empowering film. Not just to females, but to all kids that feel lessor. This isn't a matter of a magic lamp or a mystical beast helping her. Every forward step she makes, she makes on her own, with her own mind and her own physical attributes. SHE brings honor upon her family, not the little dragon or the little cricket... no... it's Mulan. It is the child-woman-warrior-lady that makes the difference.

At the beginning you feel for her in the futile fuedal existance, you wish you could help her, but any outside interference would have robbed her of her own will, which is powerful in this film, probably more so than in any previous Disney character. She isn't awaiting a Prince Charming, a magic carpet or anything. She does it. And by the end, you have pride built up in this character.

How's the animation? Gorgeous. One of the things I love is the fact that the flags in the film, that were computer animated, don't have radical shading, but are of the same dimensional integrety of every other item in the Mulan universe. Consistency. I love it. One of the problems I have with CG in a 2-D animated film, is that it's a shiny penny to wake ya out of your trance. Here it isn't, here they use the computer to help them do what would have been painful otherwise.

The songs? Well I could of lived without them, but hey, they didn't hurt me too bad, or cause my ears to bleed. I just wish that the 'studios' would have the confidence to do a great top of the line non-singing animated film. Yeah yeah, I know they say they are coming up, but dang it, the songs dragged the film a bit for me.

My favorite thing about this film though is the artistry. Reminds of some of the softer colors used in the early Silly Symphony period of Disney, while also reminding of old Chinese watercolors. Especially the mountain looks. And the calligraphy fantasy was fantastic.

Now for my biggest tearing of my soul with the film. The Eddie Murphy lil dragon felt completely out of place, but was very very funny. But I felt like that would be a great character for another film, but here... well here it just gets inbetween me and the character that has self-motivation and self-will.. Mulan.

The score was fantastic, tinges of 'orientally orchestrations' mixed with that epic sound of vintage Miklos Rosza. If my ears held right. Kinda hard though what with Quint giggling.

Then we went back to the aeropuerto to fly back to Austin. Hallenbeck gave me a bunch of NRG stationary, pencils, pens and envelopes and bid me an adieu. Apparently he's flying to France to see John Carpenter's VAMPIRES... wow. I told him he was a lucky s.o.b. and shook his hand farewell...

I slept on the plane trip back, dreaming of the 7th Voyage of Sinbad BASTRA, and of the most gorgeous princess ever, laying against that yellow pillow. ahhhhhhhhh.....

The bumps of the Austin tarmac awoke me, and I saw Quint caked in sweat. Apparently he was all panicky about a etheral horn honker. Weird fellow that Quint.

That's when we went to Robert's set. They were filming in the neighborhood I grew up in. In the house that my Senior Patrol Leader lived next to. A block from where I learned to swim. Very unsettling. Everyone was asking about Godzilla, which I was in a bashing mood for. And just about everyone seemed to of been agreeing.

Stunt men were flying off of roofs with a loud thud, and the humidity was killing the California natives among the crew.. wussies...

Quint was inviting people to his house for a vid fest this weekend.

Then without warning we left to rush to the HIGHLAND 10 for a second time this day, for the third film of the day.


I have had to listen to people bringing up Hunter S Thompson for a long time, when discussing my more esoteric ramblings, and beings that I love Johnny Depp when he plays weirdos (read every role) and all things Gilliam, I was sure I'd love the film.

Dad saw the film while I was in New York, and was staying home to watch PI.

Well Quint and I arrived at the theater with a scant few moments before the film was to unspool before us. We got decent seats, not in the middle like I like, or on the fourth row, but hey, I was late as hell and was lucky to just get in.

That's when the film began.

Trying to describe Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a very hard thing to do. It's a bit like trying to explain an intangible thing of beauty, like those days in your life where.. well everything goes wrong, but you love your life.

Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro are genius in this film. OH YEAH, this film is most likely not for most of you. For one, the film is almost completely narrated, a voice track of the mind of Hunter S Thompson. This will most likely drive most people insane. In fact most of the packed theater I was in hated the film, some people even got up and left. I, however, felt the film was genius.


Well, because I was seeing parallels all over the place for Hunter and myself. Now sure I haven't had gigantic overindulgences in drug abuse, in fact the only time I've done any drug (besides beer and no-doz and chocolate) was when I was 4 years old and ate 6 hits of acid that my parents and their friends left out. I chased those hits with 22 mothballs and poisoned rat cheese.

But hey that was all the drug experience I needed. As a result my world, the one reflected in them blue eyes of mine is a world every bit as ridiculous as this one.

For example, in the film Depp's character is asked to cover a District Attorney's conference in Las Vegas that is dealing with Anti-Drug issues, and Depp is of course in the middle of an epic drub binge. Ahhh the irony of life. I just got back from New York, and at the very hotel I was staying at Warner Brothers was having a conference. As I walked amongst the Warner execs I could feel the suction of air coming from their tightening anuses. I felt like Indiana in the well of the souls, surrounded by the very things he fears and loathes. Of course this set itself up for all sorts of absurdities, like Glen and I voicing the inner thoughts of beaded sweaty foreheaded suits, with the tightened tournequet around their necks, allowing them to deprive their brains of the much needed oxygen carrying blood supply. Inside you could see their desperation, their lack of understanding, and I could see the absurdity of my own moments of existence. The entire sequence in my life was indeed narrated by this fat redheaded demon living inside the coconut upon my shoulders.

That demon was doing a great job of voice over, especially when we saw the Michigan Frog Car, and the singing Dubba Dubba RV. Ugh. Glen went forth into the very conference room wearing an AICN t-shirt crafted by the ever talented Geek #3 over at He walked right past security with but a wave of his hand, past the held up television station owners, who began screaming about how the press could get in earlier than station managers. Glen just smiled and continued forward. He walked about the room hearing the, "oh my god they are here", "shit shit shit, fucking assholes, they'll ruin us", "Anau na thra, ufs thras ve saud doph hare de endthay" Well Glen said they definately needed the charm of making, if they had a prayer of making a profit this year.

Then Depp has a strange lonely cop experience in the desert, that drives him almost insane. You see his car is loaded down with drugs and he's speeding and he just ran out on an expensive Hotel bill. Well, I have a similar story.

I was driving back from Seymour, Texas about 6 years ago in my lime green bumperless Cadillac. I had it set on cruise control, 55mph, and had not one fear of imperial entanglements. I was pumped up on 5 No-Dozes and a six-pack of Jolt cola, oh yeah and it was 0400 c.s.t. I was in the no-man's land between Lampasas and Austin, a conservative stretch of highway guarded by redneck state highway troopers with smokey bear hats and mirrored lenses upon their eyes... even at night.

I was singing along to the theme of Peter Gun that was blasting out of my 1978 land yacht, when the red and blue hues of the evil ones cascaded upon my face via the rear view mirror. Instant beads of sweat flew to my face, my mind wasn't quite set for rational thought, and my wallet had no driver's license, you see I did not have one at all at the time, nor insurance at the time. I had used that money to pay for college and just planned on not having accidents or cops pulling me over. The No-Doz had eliminated the black of my eyes to a pin prick, and as I pulled over, I wondered how soft the beds of a podunk Texas cell would feel at this non-hour of the morning.

Smokey the cop wallowed his way aside my super machine, and asked for me to roll down the window. I asked him what the problem was, and he took off the mirrored shields of his eyes, that's when I saw the bloodshot watery eyes, the tear stained cheeks and the despair upon the face of a cop.

"It's lonely out here, I need someone to talk to. There's a donut shop about 3 miles down the road, I'd kindly appreciate it if you'd join me."

My mouth uttered the words, "Yes, sir." Bastard mouth betrayed me. Why did I say that, what was I thinking. Run escape, you must get away. My window raised back up via a switch at my hand's convenience, as my mouth defended itself. "Brain, listen, if we can talk this guy down we may have a chance." "Mouth, let's just get away" "Brain, no, we'll do this and good cop Karma will follow us the rest of our lives." "Mouth, yeah in prison"...

I arrived at the greasy Korean Donut shop on the outskirts of civilized Austin, actually I believe it was Leander or some other bordering city-village. I walked in, and ordered donuts and Coffee. The officer came in, and for the next 4 hours we talked about his cunt wife that just left him and how the world would most certainly end. How his daughter was now going to live in the wilds of Arkansas and play banjo with defective gened hillbillys. His wife had apparently had a hankering for larger penises, as the cop mentioned he couldn't satisfy his wife with his shriveled worm. Yes, this was a conversation that we all should have in life with a law enforcement officer. IF only to realize that they are human beings with small penises and estranged wives. That their dreams can be crushed, just as all we normals can.

I left the cop laughing and cheerful, and went home where I laid awake in my bed tremoring from a caffeine buzz that just wouldn't quit. Ahhh the fevered thoughts of a caffeine junky. Did Luke and Leia ever consumate their early attraction. Is that why she wrinkled up her face in Jedi when she found out? Caroline Munro had great breasts in Golden Voyage of Sinbad, man I wish Wimpy would deliver a plate of hamburgers.

This is the world I live in, and it is normal in comparison to the world that Terry Gilliam created. In my life I have had a reptilian tail strapped to my ass, and I have seen the faces of desperation in the land of Vegas.

The film is a sheer work of genius, in the art of psychodelic delusional state of conciousness narrative. But of course you'd have to want to see a film that only makes sense from the perspective of Depp's character, and most people won't want to challenge ownership of their own grasp of reality by letting this film in. I, however, welcomed it with open arms.

Congrats to all that worked on this wonderful film. Every other critic may tear you an new one, but as for me I'm can sprinkle talcum to ease the pain. The film, for me isn't about drug use, it's about the chronicling of one's reality, it's a journalized list of a series of events and stories that happened in and around Las Vegas. And I'll probably be the only one in a theater on many viewings, but dammit this film ain't too weird... it's just right for me.

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