Monday, April 28, 2014

Godzilla All in a Row Part 1

Short of a new Friday the 13th or a sequal to Streets of Fire or Big Trouble in Little China, few things could make me as eager to pay for inflated movie ticket prices like the new Godzilla. One of my few bits of true nerd cred is that I have seen every single one of the big G's adventures. Knowing the flighty nature of the internet I see this as an opportunity to help guide people to the better parts of the series and maybe generate more than my usual 2-5 views for the week.. With that in mind I'd say it's time for some quick movie by movie recaps of the whole franchise (sans the tv shows) with the important notes on which ones you should bother watching. Let's get smashing.

Gojira AKA Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Most of you have probably seen this one in one form or another so in all truth there's not as much to report on. It's a legitimate classic with some great moments. It ranks as a must see thanks to it's quality. Plus this is the only film in the whole series that stays in continuity. There is one weakness however in that even with it being a top tier Godzilla flick it doesn't feel much like one. It's so serious and lacking in the usual monster fisticuffs that it seems positively alien in comparison to most of the franchise. Definitely watch it. Just don't think for a second that your atomic lizard education ends here.

Godzilla Raids Again
Generally regarded as a letdown, the first sequel really isn't all that bad. The heavy handed nature of all the atomic bomb commentary from part one is pushed aside to make room for a story that's more about what it's like to live in a world with monsters. Even the heroes are of the more blue collar sort. No longer are we following reporters and scientists. Instead our leads work as pilots for a fishing company. Also we get our first enemy monster and the ensuing monster battles that became a staple for these movies. Not a great one, but a decent time waster for a dull afternoon.

King Kong vs. Godzilla
The original vs flick sets the standard for most of them being enormous disappointments. Really this should have been the coolest damn movie made up to that point. I mean you've got both titans of the giant monster world facing off in their first color picture. Apparently someone thought that the serious tones of the previous movies wouldn't work for this one so instead of the giant lovesick ape battling the face of atomic fear in proper fashion, we get two horrid looking versions of them dancing and throwing rocks at each other. To even the playing field Godzilla's powers were greatly reduced and Kong earned some lighting abilities from god knows where. The only important element introduced here is the island adventure theme which would come into play many more times over the course of the series. This one stinks like Kong droppings. Don't bother with it.

Godzilla vs. Mothra
As a kid I always hated Mothra. She was such a goody goody. Every time Godzilla showed up to have some fun at humanities expense there was that damn bug and her gross larva to dump on the party. With that said this is actually one of the best of the early flicks. The island adventure theme from the last one is used again to greater effect. The characters are actually entertaining. The whole thing just comes together in a neat little package that you should probably make the time for.

Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster
Part five introduced a slew of important developments to the series, but don't let that trick you into thinking it's any good. As for the new elements; first is the presence of alien invaders. Next is the first attempt to turn Godzilla into a heroic figure. By this point the producers realized that kids loved the big G and a good way to keep the cash flowing would be to make him the good guy. Thous he needed an even nastier rival in the form of King Ghidorah who makes his entrance here. Honestly this one is just a dull blur to me which isn't helped by the next movie being almost the same thing just better. Let's not forget the lame part where the Mothra girls translate a monster conversation for everybody. Skip it

Invasion of the Astro Monster
Pretty much the same as the one before it just much better. This one takes the same formula of alien invaders, King Ghidorah, and zilla defending the earth but does it all with a darker tone. There's some extra bits to add depth like an alien girl who falls for an earth man leading her own people to kill her. Still; it's largely forgettable so you don't really need to bother with it.

Ebirah Horror of the Deep
Returning to island adventures on even smaller budgets we find this entry to be mostly zillaless. The primary monster this time is the evil Ebirah which is a giant shrimp/lobster that fallows the commands of an evil organization based on some mysterious island. A research team heads to the island to investigate something (can't remember what) and encounters a native girl who saves them from the baddies. It's very much a turn towards simple plup stories for the series but it's not wretched by any means, just a little weak.

Son of Godzilla
Ohhhh boy. With this one, we're introduced to Manilla. The disgusting and fiendishly annoying offspring of our favorite city smasher. This is yet another island based tale that mostly centers around the trials of the king of the monsters raising an awful son. There's some stuff with yet another group of researchers camping out but I couldn't begin to remember what they were actually doing. It's really not as bad as I'm making it sound but there's nothing here to hold the interest of anyone other than crazed fans.

Destroy All Monsters
This was planned as the end all be all of Kaiju flicks. Monsters from all corners of Toho studio are brainwashed by evil aliens in order to conquer Earth. Naturally the monsters eventually break free of this control and battle amongst each other for the top honor of blasting the martians out of the sky. With a much bigger budget than the previous flicks this one is a big fun pile of crazy with lots of violence and city bashing. Definitely one to watch.

All Monsters Attack
While the title might lead you to believe that this is a direct continuation of the previous film it's actually closer in tone to Son of, only sooooo much worse. The entire thing is about the most irritating little kid you've ever seen who fantasizes about living on Monster Island and being best friends with Manilla who can talk. That's it. Just the twisted fever dreams of a kid who wants to escape his awful life. Despite a running time of only like 72 minutes this is akin to having an elephant stomp on your pelvis while you listen to music from Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion piping out of two separate stereos taped to your head. Do not, under any circumstances, watch this miserable pile.

That's enough for today. Next time we'll get into parts 11-20 which feature everything from time travel to intergalactic cockroaches. See ya soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ToQger Episode 9

A little site update my pretties. If you'll look to the right you should notice my new amazon widget which has a little more functionality and freedom than the previous one. I figured it was a good choice to display more than just my own approved items cause, let's face it, people who only get five views a week can't afford to be selective in their advertising. If anything this improvement is nicely timed with this week's ToQger which is a marked improvement over its previous endeavor.
First off let's give points for the title “Love is a One Way Ticket.” It works as both a train pun and something befitting a Bond movie. Our tale begins with the normal train stopping for repairs which gives the crew some time off for museums and small town festivals, exactly the things 20 somethings are yeah. During the days activities a fight breaks out during some lovers competition for all you can eat dumplings (god Japan is weird).
Anywho. During the tussle Mio meets a man by the name of Mr. Hunkypants. Alright. I can't remember his name but he actually ends up protecting her from the goon squad. He follows that up with a fancy speech about how women should be protected. Now I'm all for chivalry but this dude takes it a mite bit into the sexism arena when he pats her head as if she were a dimwitted child. Things seem like they're back to normal. Little do our heroes know that man are saving woman all over town and following it up with similar speeches in what is assuredly a diabolical plot to flood the city. What? No fans of ovulation humor?
Turns out that hunkypants left his wallet behind during the fight, leaving Mio to figure out how to approach returning it. She eventually settles on a kendo duel and boxed lunch. Major props for originality there honey. This is where the monster of the weeks plan really comes to fruition as the same thing is happening all over. Girls are giving presents to all these brave men who protected them in their hour of need. See the monster this time is a marionette who controlled the men into saving the girls only so they could later stomp on their affection thous producing the bad mojo our villains are after.
Old Marionette shows up in a fury, wondering why Mio isn't affected like all the other women which is when he realizes that she's a ToQger. Now the shows seems to be making the argument that she's so thick skinned that the dude spurning her advances doesn't send her into despair but I guess I've been operating under the assumption that these kids are invulnerable to the monsters schemes already. Guess I'll have to keep an eye out for an answer to that one. Fight time! And wouldn't ya know it. Marionette slaps Mio around like she owes him money.
Quite quickly the others show up and give her a pep talk about how she doesn't have to be the team mom all the time cause they can do some of the heavy lifting themselves. The rest of the fight goes pretty smoothly and then it's time to make some toy sales by introducing a new giant robot made entirely out of the support cars. Nothing too special but I'd wager it's best to mention it now instead of inciting confusion the next time it pops up.
Not a half bad episode I do declare. There was enough humor and action to keep things moving, So far Mio is easily the most well rounded and believable member of the team which gives me hope that the others will catch up soon. Tokatti's at bat next week so we'll see if this new trend of expanded character development holds true. Time for me to get in a few meager winks and see if I can pull together another good weekend. See ya folks!

Monday, April 21, 2014

ToQger Episode 8

There's always a point in a story where underlying themes begin to present themselves. Whether the creators intended for such ideas to pop up is another matter of course as you can get those bits of depth that were never planed out in advance. Today's episode marks the advent of a strange realization on my part thanks to the larger presence of the conductor/ticket and Ms. Wagon. Despite this show's face value of imagination fueled train superheroes it's starting to seem like one of those lifetime channel movies where some thrill killers kidnap a batch of kids for a road trip. No, really! Hear me out for a second.
Consider the conductor. A nameless manchild who collects movies and refuses to be parted from his hand puppet whom he swears is alive. His demeanor is very uptight and sexless in direct contrast to the verbal abuse he throws out through the puppet.
Now let's take Ms. Wagon into account. While a robot by appearance she obsesses over vanity with her narcissistic selfie addiction. Topping that off is a twisted focus on romance and sexuality in situations that don't call for it. Take for instance when she ties up Tokatti in ribbon to secure him in place after a bomb has been placed on him. Considering that her main duty is feeding the team, this very superficial outlook takes on a sinister tone.
Don't take this to be some kind of condemnation of the show. If anything I think this adds that extra layer of madness that any proper tokusatsu requires. Of course I'm waiting to see what the eventual explanation for these two is. Will they be figments of the teams collective imagination standing in for what they believe adults to be like? Or are they truly magically beings who spirit people away?
While I wait for those answers I suppose I should give an overview of our tale. Pretty simple one today. The crew heads into a town tracking the signal of the old diesel train car so they can gain its support. They fight a monster and seemingly destroy it only to find that a smaller version of it sneaks onto their train and starts fucking things up. Oh and right is tracking down another support train.
The idea of the team dealing with sabotage on their train had the potential to be something special given the proper execution. Sadly we weren't so lucky this time. While the action is ok and we get a few good bits of comedy (most notably from the aforementioned kidnappers) the other characters were just sleepwalking through this one. Especially Right who almost completely ditches the dumb proactive persona I enjoy so much in favor of getting all misty eyed over the old diesel train he's been sent to track down. This isn't explained either. He just gets all serious about it cause it's old.
Hope everyone out there had a good Easter. I had a really, really good one myself. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to snatch up the last egg shaped candy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peeps Ahoy!

Hipity Hopity Easter's on its way! And with comes a new wave of the candy it inspired. OK, peeps aren't contained strictly to spring time like they were when I was a wee one. Of course when I was a wee one we only had the choice of colors and which of the two animal shapes we wanted to bite the heads off of. Nowadays we’re a little wiser with more types of peep than pepsi. One of the highlights of March (yes this is a lil behind) for me was diving into not one, not two, but five new varieties. Note that the first three were already lightly touched on in a previous article. I'd actually forgotten that until 30 seconds ago and there's no way I'm trashing this article.
Blue Raspberry
Odd educational note. Did you know that the flavor we attribute with blue raspberry is from something called a whitebark raspberry? Yes I actually took the time to study something for a post about candy so don't say I never taught you anything. I've never been big on the blue raz but for anyone who is, this is one of the strongest examples of the formula. These bastards got kick like solid lumps of toilet bowl cleaner. And the smell! Something consistent across all these new flavors is a smell that could raise the dead. Now for the confusing part. Even with all of my complaints I still kinda like these things. The eating experience is so overpowering it makes one happy to be alive when it's over.

  Remember the old people that gave out the really dusty and stiff bubblegum every Halloween. The stuff always looked like it'd been sitting around since the days of olde (legitimately old enough to be spelled with an e). Somebody took all those tossed aside piece of pink goo, gave em a rinse and turned em into marshmallows. Being someone who actually enjoyed swallowing their gum as a kid these are just a lovely trip down memory lane. For this first group of flavors I'm giving this one top honors.

  Sour Watermelon
Despite the name these are nowhere near as sour as blue raspberry but don't let that chase you away. They can still be fun, they still know what the teenagers are into. Really it's more of a stingy creamy thing than other candies of this ilk. I have to admit I'm relieved since the idea of all watermelon candy being sour makes zero sense to anyone who knows what watermelons are. Oh and let's not forget the towering heights of stank which eventually got combined in the same bag with the aforementioned flavors. The resulting scent is something I'm sure was listed in a book of dark alchemy. Out of these first three flavors this one comes in a comfy second.

About a week after the batch of flavors from Wal-Mart I found myself wondering the aisles of Target only to come across even more new peeps. These two are part of the 3-pack line which has provided us with wonders like chocolate dipped sugar cookie to urinal cake....err sweet lemonade. Still; when one is looking down the barrel of an otherwise event-less Saturday the risks of bad candy are worth taking.
Orange Cream and Strawberry Cream
I”m going to knock these both out as one entry for a couple reason. Most notably is that both can be described completely by their titles. If you want to know what they smell or taste like, just read the damn package. Few candies are quite this spot on while representing a flavor. I mean it. Peeps pulled off something quite impressive here. They even dodged the common mistake of Orange cream tasting like the special fluoride at dentist. These are some top drawer peeps here folks. As I was sharing them with my nephew the issue of the uneven amounts came into view. Who would get a second helping of which kind? Let's just say I solved the issue like a biblical king.
Half Peeps, bitches!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

ToQger Episode 7

It's truly a rare occurrence to feel like you've been attacked by the monster of the week but that is exactly the kind of week I had. Let me explain. The critter for this episode stamps people on the head so that they lose all their energy and willpower, simply becoming mopey sacks. For whatever reason the very slow shift into spring had a similar effect on me. Of course mine had the added bonus of worrying while being too lethargic to do anything about it. I even went through a job interview that way. It was flat out awful. Any consistent readers may have noticed those very blahs pop up at the end of my last recap. So after more than a week feeling off my game I've got a more positive outlook going. Let's see if we can keep it up.
OK, so this one was focused on Kagura and Hikari so we had the cross section of our most childish and most adult team members working together. I'm still not completely sold on Kagura since I mostly find her antics to either be weird or creepy but here she helped to bring out a little more meat from the so far underdeveloped green ranger. The trial these two have to face starts when she spends a night watching ninja flicks in order to practice her pretending. While hopping about during her ninja routine she breaks Hikari's kendama. That's a little wooden toy thing....kinda like advanced ball in a cup (don't be mad at me kendama fans). Anyway he gets all pissy, I'm talking judgmental kind of pissy, and storms off. Before they can hug it out the team has to rush off for monster fighting time.
We get a good fight with some choreography that surprised me in a few spots. Of course this is still early in the ep so there's no way the monster's going down. Nope. He stamps the other three rangers causing them to all become something not unlike my recent self. They have no energy and just don't give a fuck bout nothin'.
All that stuff is pretty solid but one thing that is bugging me in the series so far are the repetitive villain scenes. Each week is essentially a remix of the same exact elements. Two of them argue over who's the better evildoer and whether the shadows should be fed to the emperor or his budding bride Gritta who just keeps lusting after the General. One of these characters needs to either step up or get ganked cause they can't even match up with most of the episode specific enemies so far.
Back to the team. Hikari finally admits to being a total douche the previous night while Kagura whines for forgiveness. There is a great bit here though when she remarks that he probably thinks her pretending is stupid. His response is pure gold.

I love it! This is such a great thing to see from a family show. I mean it. Consider when we have a team show for kids over here. Either all the characters lightly mock each-other for their differences or they all get creepy over supportive about them. I think it's great if people can just say like yeah I don't get it, but it's your thing so have fun. This is such a realistic answer to the problem, and I hope kids watching remember it as they grow up.
Of course since this is a two person story we get to see them solve the problem using both of their talents. Hikari has Kagura serve as the ball for a giant kendama in order to beat the monster. To get into character she has to repeat “I'm hard” to herself a few times which is...just..upsetting. They smack him around enough that the others snap to attention, join the fight, and yeah you can fill in the rest yourself by now.
In the end, everything is as it should be and the gang is off to find another support car for the train. A pretty good episode even if I wasn't in the right frame of mind for it. As yall know by now, I can't guarantee when or what the next article will be but fairly soon I should be back with either more sentai or somethings about peeps. In the meantime, thanks to anyone out there who gave this a read. Seriously! Thanks you!

Friday, April 4, 2014

ToQger vs. Kamen Rider Gaim Spring Break Special.

Every so often in the world of comic books a new series starts to gain momentum before being roped into some unnecessary crossover storyline that completely sidelines everything you liked about the book to begin with. This phenomenon made me a little worried about this weeks ToQger as it teamed up with the other show in its programing block, Kamen Rider Gaim. If you're wondering about the difference between the two series. Gaim is a bit more serious in tone and has a lot more characters to juggle. Now I've been watching Gaim for a while now, though I had no plans of covering it on this site. Also I didn't worry as much about it's progress getting screwed up since it has a greater amount of story under its belt, but even with that I had to sweat it a little as this team-up is also serving as a prologue to a movie. Yeah folks, this is continuity the way only the Japanese can handle it. Lucky for us it was also a nice spot of fun. There's a lot to cover so let's get going.
We start our tale with the ToQgers arriving in Zawame city, only to be surprised at there being no Shadow Line activity like their usual stops. In fact; the normal villains don't even make a cameo in this one. Instead We have the Badan Underground Empire. This is apparently a reference to an older Kamen Rider series. Can't say as I've seen very much Rider material so a lot of that stuff just kinda washed over me. Anywho, these Badan guys try to dig up some of their buddies which accidentally unleashes creatures called Invess. Those are the normal critter of the week types for Gaim. Naturally our heroes chase the bad guys away.
From her on we get some different character groupings like our two ToQ girls and Gaim's Mei forming an absolute buffet of women. For as many people as they have to work with this is really the Right and Kouta show. Both Lead heroes take the vast majority of screen time for both halves of the special. Think of it like the first Expendables flick only Jason Staham is a fruit samurai and Stallone runs around in red train tights.....maybe you shouldn't think about that.

Kouta thinks that his towns problems are something for him to deal with and Right & his buddies should continue on their own adventure. Of course Right won't have it that way, so the rest of the first half is our heroes working over the various villains and introducing Zawame city to its first giant robot battle.

Of course this couldn't be a true team-up special if it ended there so the added twist is that Kouta asks Right if they could take Mei with them so she can be safe from all the nuttiness around Zawame city. Poor Kouta doesn't realize that if the ToQgers are involved, kidnapping can't be far behind.
After sneaking off the train, Mei is immediately snatched up by Badan ushering in our smaller second half where a handful of the different riders along with Right try to save the girl. I should mention that the three riders involved all have something for her, which I won't judge them on since she is a total cutie. However; there is a nice selection of girls floating around their show so you'd think one of these guys might fawn over them instead. Ah well.

The last bit of the story comes around when during the final fight the kids get smacked down by someone known as Kamen Rider Fifteen. He doesn't get to dish out too much damage since the original three showa riders show up to fight him.
Before long all of these extra riders hightail it, providing just enough hints about the upcoming crossover movie. In the end. Monsters are slain, chicks are rescued, and small friendships are formed. Each of our heroes admires what the other one has before they get back to their normal antics.
Overall, can't hold much against this spring break special. Characterization was fairly consistent, though Kagura seemed more earily childlike than usual. Can't really say how well the Gaim side of things blended in since I'm about nine episodes behind. Fans of that show might be upset that this whole thing seems more like a big ToQger episode than a proper mixture. I guess it's pretty fair since the oncoming movie is going to be almost exclusively focused on the Kamen Rider side of things. Sadly I won't be able to judge how it all works in context with the movie because there probably wont be a fansub of that floating around until at least some time in the summer.
Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go congratulate myself for finishing this during what has been a really strange week. If things return to normal soon enough I'll come back with something about candy. If not.....well Kagura's gonna dress up like a ninja next week.