Monday, June 03, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Movie Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is loud, dumb, and silly as hell. In other words, it's the Godzilla movie we've always dreamed of.

Taking a hard left from the first movie's grounded approach, Godzilla: King of the Monsters leans heavily into the "monster" part of the genre, putting the mysterious organization called Monarch center stage to deal with the 2,000% increase in the world's giant monster population. After the events of 2014's Godzilla, the world now knows that MUTOs Titans walk among us, with Godzilla taking on the role of apex predator. But a shady mercenary group led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) plans to awaken an ancient and dangerous Titan to not just challenge Godzilla's reign but also bring about a new era of monsters ruling the earth, and the only ones standing in their way is Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the Monarch organization!

The complaints from the first film was that there was too much screen time for the puny humans and not for the Big G himself, but in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the humans are rightfully helpless against the unrelenting giant monster assault. But did they really have to make them stupid? The human villain's plan involving the monster villain Ghidorah is illogical at best, downright idiotic at worst, and characters act and speak so unnaturally that I'm surprised none of them are CGI. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown does what she can with her big-screen debut, but she's relegated to crying and screaming at whatever the director is pointing at. Nothing much can be said about the rest of the human cast, who are obviously just written to bring us from one giant monster action scene to the next. What an unfortunate thing to say about a cast that has such luminaries like Ken Watanabe and Zhang ZiYi!

But it's all moot when the Titans start slugging it out, as Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers an all-out assault on your senses and sensibilities. Each monster-centric set piece is vicious, lavishly-rendered, and loud enough to make your teeth chatter.  Not only that, but the monsters are surprisingly faithful adaptations of their Japanese counterparts, so much so that old-school Godzilla fans will find lots to love with this movie, despite the director still making the mistake of cutting to the humans mucking about while Godzilla and Ghidorah are beating each other up naught but a few meters behind them.

Don't make the mistake of expecting anything more from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It's job is to give us Godzilla fucking up Ghidorah and other giant monsters six ways to Sunday, and in that respect the movie is a rousing success.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Marvel Legends Avengers Endgame wave review: Ronin, Hercules, BAF Thanos

Hasbro has been absolutely spoiling us with their recent Marvel Legends offerings, and the latest wave is no exception. Let's check out the choice action figures I got from the Marvel Legends Avengers Endgame wave!

Thanos is an all-new sculpt, based on his final form in Avengers: Endgame. The armor looks menacing, full of sculpted grooves and sharp layers that really brings the image together. His snarling helmeted face is the only one included with the fig, so you'll definitely need the previous MCU Thanos Build-a-Figures if you want an un-helmeted one.

I love how they translated Ronin into action figure form. The details and sculpting are spot on, but it pains me that Hasbro just went with a featureless potato for a head. Would it have killed to have angry eyes sculpted in there? The soft plastic "vest" hides the accurately-sculpted torso, and I think a vest-less Ronin looks good as a screen-accurate Endgame Hawkeye if you so wished.

Marvel's Hercules is a bare-chested beefcake of a figure, and easily my favorite and most-anticipated out of the wave. Based on the character's new look during his short-lived 2016 series under Dan Abnett, Hercules sports a man-bun and a sly smirk that puts the headsculpt among the best I've seen from Marvel Legends so far.

Articulation-wise, Thanos does what it can with armor that hinders some of his movement. The ab crunch is a godsend, but the lack of rocker ankles and waist swivel is the biggest travesty. I guess you could pose him just standing there menacingly, but that's a poor showing for the MCU's biggest bad guy. I also seem to have a bum figure, with both arms not pegging into the shoulders properly, causing them to pop off at the slightest touch. It's not something you can look out for, but I hope this is just an anomaly.

Hercules on the other hand is a well-articulated figure, with pretty much all the action figure joints you need to pull off some impressive poses. It's obvious they poured their heart and soul into making this fig, and we're all the better for it.

Fitting for a limber assassin, Ronin is the most articulated of this bunch if not for the soft plastic "vest" that basically nullifies the ab crunch and waist swivel the figure actually has. I've modded my Ronin following the "fix" floating around the interwebs that gives him better torso range even with the vest, but even then I would rather not have mutilated my perfectly good figure to fix what shouldn't have been a problem in the first place!

What I love about Marvel Legends these days is that when they give figures accessories, they push it to the limit! Hercules has extra hands and a big burly sword and sword-mace to smash foes with, while Ronin has two swords and an extra hand simulating him throwing shuriken at baddies. Thanos, being a B.A.F., only gets the sword-y thing he used in the movie. It's molded in flat gray plastic, which I guess means Hasbro loves giving customizers extra income.

Ronin and Hercules have minimal paint apps, and whatever paint they have were applied well, so I have no complaints. The gold trim on Ronin's costume looks great, and the "chest hair" on Herc is a nice touch! But I don't like the copper-sh paint they used for Thanos' non-armor parts (and from what I've gathered, it's not even screen-accurate!), not to mention the armor could have used a black wash for the details to pop. As it is, the mighty Thanos looks mighty plain even with all that intricate armor. I guess my panel-lining pen is going to see some action today.

Hercules, Thanos, and Ronin are fine action figures and will find homes in many collections. As much as Thanos is my homeboy and I'm glad we have a version of him I've wanted to have for so long, the blandness of the entire fig and it's QC issues leave much to be desired. Hercules emerges as the standout of the set, a welcome update to a beloved character and packed with all the good stuff Marvel Legends should have.

I hope this review has been useful for you! Who's your favorite MCU Marvel Legend? Let's talk about it in the comment box below! Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers Endgame Movie Review

There's no contest. None whatsoever. Avengers: Endgame is the king of comic book superhero movies.

After the events of Infinity War, the remaining heroes of Earth have all but hung up their capes. Super soldier Captain America (Chris Evans), thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), badass humans Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, who finally comes back to complete the gang), and Tony Stark, the Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), are at their lowest, and the feeling of hopelessness and darkness is pervasive if not for the bright light of Scott Lang the Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who brings what could be a way to undo the crimes of Thanos (Josh Brolin) once and for all.

Epic doesn't even begin to describe it. Kevin Feige, the Russo Brothers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and the rest of the crew managed to create a poignant and incredibly satisfying conclusion to 10 years worth of interconnected movies. Avengers: Endgame had to pull a lot of things out of its ass to make it work, sure, but damn if it isn't a fun piece of escapist cinema.

If you come into Avengers: Endgame expecting the story to go a certain way, word of advice: don't. Happily subverting the oft-mentioned "Marvel formula" of storytelling, nothing is sacred, nothing is set in stone with Endgame. Characters change in shocking ways, plans come together in ways you don't expect, and just when you're sure that the Russos are steering into familiar territory, they go off the rails anyway. It's not hyperbole to say you'll be on the edge of your seat for the next 3 hours.

There's also a sense of warm familiarity, as Endgame is essentially a farewell tour of all that you love about Marvel Studios and its characters. You've seen guys like Black Widow or Hulk or even Rocket Raccoon grow all these years, and everyones's growth gets a big payoff in this film. But it's the Big 3 of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man that takes center stage. Their movies jump-started the MCU, and its through their individual stories and struggles that the movie's emotional heart shines. Because whereas Infinity War was Thanos' movie, Avengers: Endgame is entirely our heroes. So much so that, if you're a fan of the Mad Titan and want more of his corpulence on-screen, you might find yourself a smidge disappointed.

But you'll find yourself forgiving that, because all those good things come together in an explosive climax that deserves to be seen on a big screen. Watching it anywhere else would feel like a downgrade. Prepare for a half-hour of non-stop comic book action, a veritable highlight reel of Marvel Studios' superhero roster with callbacks to every single thing you loved about and wish you could see in the MCU. Yes, Marvel listened to us for this one, and I was bawling my eyes out the entire time this was happening.

And that's what's so special about Avengers: Endgame. For fans like me who have been there since the beginning, Endgame feels like a gift from Marvel to us, thanking its audience for its patience and trust. A trust that was repaid 3,000-fold. For everyone who has seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its highs and lows, its awkward first steps and its glorious rise into cinematic history, Endgame is an emotional and satisfying sendoff to an era that has given us fans so much joy.

Thank you, Marvel. Thank you so much.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Final Day: Avengers did it first

Endgame is here! A page from Avengers vol.1 #71 from 1963, from the legendary team of Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema, with inks by Sam Grainger, and lettering by Sam Rosen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 2: Hope this doesn't count as spoilers

A page from The Ultimates vol.2 #11, written by Al Ewing and co-penciled and -inked by Kenneth Rocafort and Djibril Morissette-Phan, with colors by Dan Brown, and lettering by Joe Sabino.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 3: Iron Man as Austin Powers

A splash page from Iron Man vol.1 #165, from a story by Dennis O'Neil and penciled by Luke McDonnell, inked by Steve Mitchell, colored by Bob Sharen, and lettered by Rick Parker.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Countdown to Endgame Day 4: Put on a happy face

Galactus in trouble (!) in a splash page from Thanos vol.1 #6, written by drawn by the legendary Jim Starlin,
with inks by Al Milgrom, colors by Christie Scheele, and letters by Dave Sharpe.
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