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FanTasia 2005! Cbabbitt

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

Before he left town, these were the two titles that Cbabbitt seemed most excited by. Now that he’s seen them, how did they stack up?


I had no idea what to expect from a live action Gigantor film. I wasn’t sure whether the filmmakers would approach the material from a cheesy, silly, B-movie perspective or actually take it seriously and attempt to make an enormous and thrilling adventure. To my surprise, the filmmakers decided to make the latter and shockingly succeed in astonishing way. I can’t express how utterly tremendous this film is. It’s arguably a perfect family film that conveys the magical feeling of wonder and adventure - bringing out the ten year old in each and every one of us. It’s exciting and charming without one moment wasted.

Tetsujin-28 is the Iron Giant of Japan. I shit you not, it’s THAT good.

For the 50th anniversary of Gigantor, I don’t think anyone could be more pleased and proud of what director Shin Togashi and his cast & crew accomplished with this film. Tetsujin 28 is absolutely delightful from beginning to end, with a heart that would Steven Spielberg proud. It’s perfection. Absolute fucking perfection. If you have no idea what Tetsujin is or what to expect from the film you can still enjoy yourself immensely. I love how successful the film is at combining the contemporary and retro aspects of the story. The robots themselves will make any true fan of 30’s sci-fi blush with the way they look, move, and sound. Remember the towering robots in SKY CAPTAIN? It’s very similar. Oh, but in this film you get enormous retro robots battling with each other in the center of Tokyo destroying everything around them. It’s geek heaven.

The story is wonderful. During WWII, a visionary inventor designed Testsujin for military use. Unfortunately, it was never properly completed until years later when the inventor’s son put on the finishing touches. At the time, this man had a beautiful wife and a child named Shotaro. In his laboratory a freak accident occurs and he pushes his son away and disappears after an explosion. A few years later Shotaro is twelve years old and haunted by the memory. The boy is incredibly smart and sweet, but also scared and lonely. He has an amazing talent but hardly any friends. His mother cares for him dearly, but is afraid to confront the past and the truth about her former husband. As far as Shotaro knows, his father pushed him way because he disliked him. So, the filmmaker take the first twenty or so minutes establishing the characters and spending time with their daily lives. At the same time, news all over Japan is that a mysterious flying object shaped like a hand has been spotted in the sky’s and that a terrorist message of “ALL IS ZERO!” has been received. One afternoon Shotaro is hanging out on his own and hears a strange rumbling noise and an uber-cool 30’s robot voice yelling “Zero! Zero! Zero!”. He turns to catch the large metallic arm sweep by and head towards the middle of the city. Suddenly a HUGE black metal behemoth falls from the sky and lands in the center of a Japanese garden in the heart of Tokyo. The arms race to the machine and attach to its shoulders. The Black Ox is born. The image is fan-fucking-tastic. For those you curious about the cgi, I’ll say it was extremely effective. The animation of the robots is about as good as what you saw in Sky Captain. For me, it worked. Unlike that film though, these cgi creations are placed in an entirely real setting, so it looks and feels far more dramatic and believable(BTW, not trying to be hard on Sky Captain, I loved it). The Black Ox is really fucking badass. Once the machine puts itself together and rises, it goes on a rampage through the streets of Tokyo. The first set-piece is phenomenal. It destroys everything in its path until it reaches Tokyo Tower. Then...well, I won’t spoil. The robot flys off after it’s rampage leaving a great amount of damage.

After the appearance of the Black Ox, Shotaro is unexpectedly called on to visit a small island. He is told his father left something special for him and that he is to wield a great power. On the island he is taken to his father’s laboratory and introduced to Tetsujin-28, the only thing capable of stopping the Black Ox. This entire sequence is amazing. The sense of scope and wonder and awe is simply, breathtaking. When Shotaro first moves Tetsujin you can feel the rush of excitement as if you were the character himself. It’s beautiful. I’m sure you can guess what follows, so I’ll save an even larger description of everything else that happens from that point. That being said, I’ll post some very brief thoughts on the final battle between Tetsujin and Black Ox: FUCKING AWESOME!

The boy who plays Shotaro is amazing. I believe it’s the same boy from THE LAST SAMURAI, but I could be wrong. He brings a great amount of heart and soul to the picture - as does the supporting cast, most importantly his mother. It’s exceptional work overall.

This film better come out in the U.S. - When it does, make sure you see it. It’s a perfect family film. Absolutely fucking perfect. Tetsujin-28 is enchanting cinematic adventure for those who love the magic of childhood. One of the best films of the year. Godzilla: Final Wars

Don’t ask me why, but GODZILLA 1985 (I know, it’s actually ‘84) is one of my top ten favorite films of all time. It’s not because it’s a great film (which it isn’t) but because of what it represents to me: Discovering cinema during my childhood. I love the film to death. I’ve been more than disappointed with the Godzilla films of recent years. None of them seem to capture or even understand what made the films of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s so enjoyable. Most of them are surprisingly boring and completely forgettable. I think the last Godzilla film I thoroughly enjoyed was Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla II made back in ’93 (I think). It was at least energetic and fun, and contained that sense of giddyness the early films had so much of. Plus, the score fucking owned. When I heard Ryuhei Kitamura was helming the final Godzilla film I was more than enthused. Versus may be a repetitive display of brutal carnage and nonsense, but it’s still really fucking fun. Alive and Aragami are both interesting and entertaining small scale thrillers that definitely showcase the talent of a giddy film geek pysched to be making genre films. Most importantly though, Kitamura demonstrated his ability to make a large scale character driven genre film with the insanely awesome samurai adventure AZUMI. Which is in my opinion his best film so far. Those films, among his others, clearly establish Kitamura as a perfect choice for a huge Godzilla film.

Godzilla: Final Wars is an enormously anticipated fetish film for geeks all around the world and the event film for this year’s Fantasia festival. Check out the line:

The audience was fucking pysched for this film. For those of you that haven’t experienced the Fantasia crowd, I highly recommend you visit Montreal next summer and discover them. It’s truly a one of a kind experience, especially if you get a film like this. I had pretty enormous expectations for the film. Above anything else, I just wanted to have a blast with a crowd of people just like me. For the most part, I did. For the short, simple, and spoiler-free review I’ll say the film is certainly entertaining and energetic, a definite Kitamura film, and more than worthwhile overall. If you’re a Godzilla or genre film/cult monster movie fan you’ll definitely enjoy yourself. Godzilla: Final Wars is extremely entertaining...........

Okay, now to piss everyone off.......

Godzilla: Final Wars was in NO WAY what I expecting it to be. Again, let me clearly restate what I just wrote prior to this and maybe elaborate just a bit - Godzilla: Final Wars is extremely a hip, new-age, techno-charged, completely modern way. It is NOT vintage Godzilla and hardly recaptures the sense of giddyness of the early films - and that’s not to say the film isn’t giddy. It certainly is, but in a completely different way. When I first read about the film, I thought Kitamura was going to finally bring back the old-fashioned roots of the series and put on the Quentin Tarantino cap and make a classic 60’s, 70’s, Destroy All Monsters remake. I thought every aspect of the film would look, sound, and feel like a cult film from long ago.

I was wrong. VERY wrong.

The only thing remotely similar to the old films is the inclusion of classic monsters - which I presume will be more than enough for most fans. I however, wanted something different. The thing that irked me most was the fucking score. Holy fuck, what were you people thinking? Techno/heavy metal? Whaaaaaaaaaaat? What happened to the classic Godzilla theme? Matrix costumes? A bigger focus on on hyper-active martial arts than monster mashes? Whaaaaaaaaaat? I don’t want to see a fucking Matrix knockoff motorcycle/freeway chase - I want to see an extended battle between Godzilla and *whatevermonster*. The final climactic battle in the film cuts between the lead actors having a martial arts duel and Godzilla battling Monster X/Ghidora. I swear to god, the people get more fucking screen time. No, no, no, no. The concept of the aliens wasn’t ridiculous enough for me to really enjoy. It wasn’t anything compared to the batshit cult insanity of some of the other films. I did enjoy the performance by the main villain though, and loved seeing many of Kitamura’s regulars - not to mention a cameo by the director himself.

The monster battles were fun though. Very fun. It’s always a pleasure to see Godzilla battle Gigan, and Ghidora happens to be one of my favorites. You also get Rodan and a pretty classic sequence with Mothra. I don’t really care to spoil all the monsters as each introduction is incredibly exciting. I will say that Godzilla vs. Gino is as enjoyable as you’d like it to be with my favorite line in the entire film following the battle. It’s fucking hilarious. Unfortunately, Mechagodzilla didn’t make the final wars, but it’s okay. There are PLENTY of monsters in this thing. Godzilla: Final Wars is the best of the recent Godzilla films and a crazy and hyper-active Kitamura film. If you’re expecting an old fashioned 70’s homage, you’re not going to find it here. Overall - very enjoyable.

Oh, and the crowd fucking ruled.


Sounds like you’re having a great time, man. I’ll be in Vancouver for the next three days, so when I get back, I expect I’ll have all sorts of Cbabbitt reports to put up here, and I look forward to reading them then.

"Moriarty" out.

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