Saturday, January 23, 2021

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

Lizzie Cronin is a meek and subservient young woman. Perpetually browbeated by her mother, her marriage has just ended after her husband had an affair. Returning home, she rediscovers her old music box, and after untaping the thing, her old imaginary friend comes flying out. As a child, everyone around Lizzie knew about the mischievous and destructive Drop Dead Fred, and now that he's free, he's determined to have fun, and teach the grown-up Lizzie a thing or two...

Originally released to critical dismissal, Drop Dead Fred has always had its fans, and built up a [cult following] as the years have gone by. Regarded by critics as just lowbrow trash, I feel the movie is better than that. Whether or not you find it to be = or obnoxious and grating depends on the person (and your tolerance for Rik Mayall)

The tone of the movie is goofy and irreverent, and on those terms the movie is a success, delivering laughs and amusing setpieces. But besides all that, there's another reason it's resonated with people over the years, and I think that's down to its relateable and adult themes, which the movie presents in a very frank way. It doesn't sugarcoat everything, showing a = portrayal of   . Lizzie is a woman who grew up in a borderline abusive household, with a mother so oppressive that she basically sought to turn her daughter into a good little robot to marry off, and is furious at any perceived 'failure', such as divorce, losing her job, or 'daring' to be insolent. Because of this, the destructive Fred was actually a blessing for the girl, allowing her some fun and = when she was young. Something she has to remember again if she wants to break out of her rut.

The titular character delivers many of the film's laughs and =, as he sashays across
One potential drawback is that he miiiight just be a tad too psychotic for some viewers, with some of his pranks being particularly crazy. One example being the sinking of the houseboat. But at least that's one of the most whimsical scenes of the movie. Plus, Janie's rant to Fred afterwards is great. The only moment  felt went too far was making Lizzie attack the violinist

Lizzie is a good protagonist. Pathetic in some ways, enough to make you yell at the screen. But also likeable, and has enough spirit buried within her that you wanna see her break out of her current situation. Her friend Janie is a fun companion. Levelheaded to a degree, but absolutely loony in other ways. Also if you think about it she's probably no better than Lizzie's asshole ex! On that note, the film really succeeds in portraying him as an absolute lowdown scumbag. He along with her mother are the film's true villains, and she's given some interesting dimension by the end, and I really like the resolution to that story, with her = [outburst] earning advice from Lizzie, but not altering her own decision. Last up is supporting character and love interest Mickey, whose taste in women might be questionable if he views that date with Lizzie as a success, but he's a good dude, and you root for them as a couple.

The moment that I and many others find the most impactful is the ending, which features a surprising change from Fred, and really makes you wonder what all the deal with these 'imaginary' people is all about. It's really great stuff. I think part of what makes this film work so much is that it has such an edge to it that it makes this heartfelt resolution all the more impactful. If the whole movie had've been safe and cheesy, this conclusion probably wouldn't have had any weight to it, but because it holds no punches throughout, it makes it truly effective and cathartic.

The actors all do great. Phoebe Cates, normally playing self-assured and sexy ladies, is great as the very childlike and 'pathetic' Lizzie. Rik Mayall is the complete opposite as Fred. He's clearly having a ball as he chews through the scenery and runs amok. I especially admire his serious turn at the end. He really is the heart and soul of this movie. The rest of the cast do well, including an amusingly batty Carrie Fisher.

The music here is zany and fun. fitting a storybook feel. The effects are amusing too. They can get a bit fake at times. Whether or not this was intentional or not is up for debate (and I'm not prepared to insult the special effects team by making the wrong guess), but they earn a laugh regardless. Or a scream. Seeing Rik Mayall with a pancake head might inspire more terror than mirth.

Drop Dead Fred may not appeal to everyone, but it's worth checking out, and certainly worthy of time and respect...


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Odds and Evens (1978)

I've always been a huge fan of Italian comic stars Terence Hill and Bud Spencer's output, though there was one entry that I remember not enjoying much-Odds and Evens. As the years have gone by I've been worried I'd given it a bad rap. Maybe I wasn't in the best mood when I saw the film, or misjudged it in some other way. Because of this (and because it's been ages since I have it a rewatch in general), I've been eager to check it out again, and give a final verdict!...

Lietenant Johnny Firpo, a dedicated sailor and athlete, is given an assignment by his superiors to locate and dismantle a massive gambling operation. To this end he pesters big and grouchy truck driver Charlie for unknown reasons. Just as he's ready to annihilate this blue-eyed pest, he discovers they are long-lost brothers. Through some manipulation and persuasion, the duo team up to bring the fight to the crooks at large...

Odds and Evens is a mixed bag of a film. By no means bad, it's got plenty to like, and these two leads are always fun. The movie itself falters in a few ways for me however. The first is that it's a crushing 2 hours, and focuses heavily on gambling, which is a subject I'm hardly interested in. In other words, if you love gambling, you will adore this movie, but if you couldn't give a toss, you will rue that runtime! No individual scene is boring, but add them together and it can be interminable.

The other big problem with the film is that it's a little confusing. Terence is a sports player who's also in the Navy, and is hired as a special investigator. He's instructed to team up with a man who by a complete coincidence turns out to be not only the same guy he met earlier that day, but his long lost twin brother! And both of them are also the sons of a famous grifter. It's a lot to take in!

The movie never really lets up from this either. It's only an hour in that we finally realise Johnny and Charlie are brothers (and I'm still mystified at how they didn't know each-other at first), and for that first hour I was increasingly unclear on what the plot actually was, beyond the basics of smashing up a gambling ring.

What's interesting about Odds and Evens is just how much of it is taken up by the conflict between Bud and Terence! Usually that's the first 10-20 minutes, with sprinklings throughout, but the plot comes into gear, like the duo teaming up to avenge their dune buggy, become cops, stop pirates, etc. But here they don't team up for the greater good until around an hour in. Even then the criminal plot is never given that much focus. It's always there, but feels more like an afterthought at times, only really coming back into play in the last act.

The comedy is a high point here. From clever wordplay, to amusing situations, there are many laughs to be had, including Johnny's novel way of getting extra drinks, and a certain disguise Charlie dons.

The characters here are your typical leads from Bud and Terence. Fun loving meets grumpy, making a great combination as usual. Although Johnny started pissing me off when he bet Charlie's truck in a match without him knowing, then steals it! The whole time during my first viewing of Odds and Evens, I was wondering where the dolphins were and were they ok!

I also don't understand why he didn't just approach Bud first thing and say "Hi, I'm a special investigator and I need your help to bust a major gambling ring. You in?". I bet he would've had an immediate ally, especially since Charlie has an axe to grind with this particular crime boss. It's strange that he instead spends a whole hour subtly tricking him into gambling against his will and generally making his life miserable, when such an easy alternative could have been achieved.

The villains are likewise your typical goons. Nefarious, filled with false bravado, and always up for a fight no matter how many times they get knocked down. As for the main antagonist, he's nothing special. When he does finally show up, he's just a random dude, and never really leaves much of an impression, least of all as a gambler. For all the ominous ways people talk about him, all we see of his gambling skills is getting trounced by Johnny, before getting the crap kicked out of him.

The fights are another highlight in Odds and Evens. All the familiar and enjoyable tropes are back again, with plenty to keep things fresh. As always we see the two heroes battling gangsters in a diner, in the process probably causing more damage than the baddies (but at least they always pay it back!). The pub demolition near the end is a bit hard to watch though, since it's Bud doing all the damage, to an innocent bar, just because he's pissed off! It looks great, but I wish it was under different circumstances.

Lastly there's the climax. It has a hilariously inventive beginning, then continues with much excitement. The heroes deliver a fantastic beatdown, using everything but the kitchen sink to defeat their enemies. And there's so much broken glass too! It's easy to see how these films inspired Jackie Chan!

The score, by Oliver Onions, is a nice one. The main theme (an instrumental this time) has a strange sound to it, mainly from the instruments its played on, but it sounds good, and I liked the rescorings throughout.

Odds and Evens isn't a bad film, and it's got a lot of funny moments, but it also feels like two films slapped together, suffering as a result. I wouldn't recommend it as your first outing with Terence and Bud, but certainly check it out if you're a fan...

Kounterfeit (1996)

The movie Kounterfetit (bafflingly spelled in German) is one that I've always had an interesting association with. There was this mid-90s action film Gunmen that starred Highlander stars Christopher Lambert and Mario van Peebles. In the same place I found that DVD, I also discovered Kounterfeit, starring fellow series alumni Bruce Payne! Just him though, but still, it counts! Although, as it turns out this does have another Highlander actress, in the form of Elizabeth Gracen! So whaddya know...

Nightclub owner Frankie is best friends with small time hood Hopscotch (Hop for short), who thinks he's found his next big break. He's acting as a go-between for a counterfeit exchange involving $4 million dollars. Frankie is skeptical about the deal, and this is proven correct when two of the criminals start a shootout. Frankie manages to get them first, but not before they kill an associate, who turns out to be an undercover cop. While Frankie and Hop figure out what to do with their newfound riches, the officer's sister Colleen tries tracking down her brother's murderer. All the while, the homicidal owners of the money plot to get it back...

Things get off to a surprisingly quick start in Kounterfeit. After the prologue, Hop already has the counterfeit, and the deal with the counterfeiters has already been arranged. It's all a bit sudden, but I can't complain. Nothing wrong with brevity. We get good introductions to all the characters, and nothing is overly complicated.

The two storylines intersect well, remaining distant yet connected for the first two thirds, before coming together for the last Everything happens believably too, with minimal frustration. We totally get why Colleen would think Frankie is bad, and luckily this image is quickly dispelled once she talks to him about it. She doesn't spend the rest of the movie refusing to believe him, but instead takes him at his word.

Kounterfeit focuses predominately on a pair of sympathetic criminals, who break the law, but aren't assholes about it. This ambiguity stretches to the police in the film, who are shown to be violent and corrupt assholes. But the criminal life of the heroes isn't presented as all hunky dory either, as the quest for the money results in much tragedy, including death.

I also find it interesting how the interactions between hero and baddie change, and we go from anonymous violence to public intimidation, as the villain's game changes out of necessity.

There are a few reveals here, and while it can get ridiculous to a degree (X is revealed to be working for Y, who shoots them, then Y turns out to be working for Z, who shoots them, etc.), they're all effective moments, and make sense within the plot. Event though you'll probably work them out easily enough (the film hardly has a big cast, and none are superfluous, credit where credit's due), I won't spoil the latter two. I will get into the first though, as it's simultaneously the most important, yet most inconsequential. Hop's brother turns out to be the first goon, yet we barely get to know him, and his demeanour after his identity is revealed is really pathetic. He turns from an older and assured guy to suddenly becoming a sycophantic wimp. It's not that I dislike the change, but it just comes a bit out of nowhere, and didn't really gel with what we'd seen before.

The movie gets extremely heavy-handed at one point, with Hop going on about how all the things he'd like to do with that money, but how none of it is really important when compared with settling down, and how he's reconnected with an old flame who still digs him. It shouldn't be a surprise to you that he is immediately killed. As for that, it's inevitable, and necessary for the plot, but it is a real downer, and I kinda wish they'd found a way around it. However, the scene with Frankie burying Hop is great stuff! It's poignant and emotional, with Bruce Payne giving a memorable monologue.

The action in Kounterfeit is a mixed bag. Some of it is pretty good, but many scenes are absolutely ridiculous! Some examples are Frankie's breakout from captivity, where his hands just magically untie and he immediately finds a submachine gun, ending the scene in 5 seconds flat. Then there's his gunfight with the first goon, who fires half a dozen shots at him point blank, yet misses every one, all while Frankie just calmly marches forward, firing both his guns (never hitting anything either).

The inciting incident at the beginning has issues too. On rewatch, things do happen as described, but it all happens so fast and Frankie is so quick to get out his guns and blast everything in all directions that at first I thought he was the one who shot the cop! He said to Colleen that he didn't kill her brother and I was like "The hell you didn't, you mowed down everyone!".

The rest of the movie's not short on other cheesy moments either, such as Frankie carrying Colleen up to his room, where an array of candles are already lit. The funniest part however comes when we see Bruce's hair untied, and he looks like a Disney princess! It's both amazing and hilarious. Kudos to the man for having such dazzling hair!

The acting here is a high point. Bruce Payne delivers an interesting performance as the lead, playing it as a mix of big silent 'brute', and thoughtful and noble hero. And best of all, him speaking in an American accent doesn't harm his performance. You wouldn't even know he was British!. Andrew Hawkes is mostly pretty good as Hop, though his goofy nature can get a bit overboard sometimes. Hilary Swank is sometimes almost clunky with certain lines, but otherwise quite good, especially for an early role. She carries the emotion of her side of the story well.

Corbin Bernsen (who gets third billing and a shot on the poster, despite a relatively small role) is alright though doesn't leave much of an impression, Rob Stewart fares better as the antagonistic Vic, and an unexpected Michael Gross is good! I like his part in the ending, where he can be more intimidating than the defacto villain despite his demeanour not changing (precisely because his demeanour doesn't change). And lastly, Elizabeth Gracen is the second Highlander performer in the movie, and opposite from Payne she's a Yank who was putting on a British accent for that series. She does well, though disappears halfway through.

The music here is your typical 90s alternative rock. It's alright stuff. Nothing special, but not irritating either.

Lastly, something I really appreciate about Kounterfeit is that it's a mid-to-late 90s crime flick that's not trying to ape Tarantino! Who knows, maybe the script came naturally that way, or maybe this was a conscious effort to not copy someone else's coattails  In any case, I'm glad. It means the movie can stand on its own two feet, without feeling like a pale imitation.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good little movie! I sought it out for the actors and hoped it'd be good, and was not disappointed. I especially recommend it for those familiar with Bruce Payne, and seeing the man's versatility...

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Silent Flute (Circle of Iron) (1978)

Bruce Lee was a man brimming with ideas. One such idea was the script for The Silent Flute, penned with the assistance of his friend James Coburn. Inspired by old Chinese fables, the project was due to be one That starred Lee, but he sadly didn't live to see the movie it would eventually become. I'm sure his spirit is glad that it did at least get made though, for all the world to see...

Skilled fighter Cord competes in a tournament to decide who will next trek into an unforgiving wilderness to go through three trials that determine who ultimately faces the mighty Zetan, keeper of the book of enlightenment. Despite losing on technicality, Cord journeys onward anyway, and as he embarks on his journey he meets up with a mysterious blind man whose skill far surpasses his own. The man is a wise teacher, who tries to impart cryptic information to Cord for the struggle ahead. The brash young fighter must do battle with animalistic fighters, deal with the wiles of the menacing Chang-Sha, as well as death itself. With all these adversities, both physical and spiritual, will Cord ever make it to the ultimate source of human understanding?...

The Silent Flute feels like an ancient parable brought to the silver screen, with a plot that's heavily philosophical, and thematic of a journey to inner peace. Whether or not one is satisfied by the ending is up for debate (I love it, but others may well go 'NNOOOOOO!'), but it's at least good in that respect, that the ending can have multiple interpretations and opinions.

The writing itself is mostly very good, with many dialogue highlights, mainly from the blind man. Coming across like a mix between Confucius and Charlie Chan (you better believe I mean that as a positive!), he spouts proverbs such as "Tie two birds together, and though they have four wings they cannot fly","The only thing the sharpest sword cannot cut is itself", and "Try as you might, you can never step on the same piece of water twice". At one point Cord has heard one too many of these aphorisms and proclaims "And horses don't have udders, cows can't whinny, up is down, and sideways is straight ahead!". Besides all this, the blind man gets some great put-downs against Cord.

The plot is never boring, always going from one thing to another with just enough time to take everything in. The trials themselves though I'm not so keen about. The first is just a random fight, while the second is in no way cohesive as a trial, and is very specifically tailored for Cord and no-one else (and the third trial is a mere extension). I also wonder how real any of this is for Tara. Does she really exist? If so, how does she feel about being a living person who only exists to die and teach a random guy she's only just met a thematic lesson about his inner self? And if she is real, that makes Cord's somewhat jovial reunion with Chang-Sha more than a little bit strange. "Was it not I who killed her, with these hands?"-Cord: "No, I did, with these hands". Umm, I get the metaphor and all, but Chang-Sha totally crucified her! Just maaaybe he's a little at fault!

On that note, how much of the story's events are really happening is an interesting thing to think about. Given how certain events play out it sometimes feels like the whole region Cord travels through is like a living trial area. Vast and teeming with real people, but each serving a predestined purpose as part of a greater plan.

One last note to discuss is that it's kind of a shame Morphon dies as early as he does. Not that I object to him dying, as it serves the script well (Sorry, Morphon!), but I wonder if it perhaps might've had greater impact had he stuck around for a longer time beforehand.

David Carradine, once again filling a role meant for Bruce Lee, He does very well as the blind mentor, and reasonably fine as Chang-Sha despite the sometimes silly accent (the character is more Arab despite the Chinese name), but his turn as the monkey leader is pretty bad, and he's so-so as the fleetingly appearing Death. It's a bit odd how he inhabits multiple roles, with this not getting much explanation. What little we do get only comes at the very end, and it's barely worth mentioning.

Despite his atrocious hairstyle that makes him somewhat resemble a middle-aged woman, Jeff Cooper mostly does well as Cord, despite a sometimes wonky line delivery that gets downright hilarious at times (CHANG-SHAAAAA!!). If nothing else, the guy has an infectious smile.

As evidenced by the abundance of 'Guest starring...' credits in the intro (despite being a movie), the majority of actors in The Silent Flute only appear for one scene, with Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach, and Christopher Lee each getting what amount to extended cameos. I kinda like how the movie doesn't have a consistent cast. It makes it feel like a real journey, never visiting the same place twice.

There's a fair bit of fighting on display, and while it's not all the movie cares about, it's still a pretty big part of it. The choreography ranges from ok to quite good. What I liked most was how we see characters observe others in combat, and learn from their movements, using a different fighting style than the previous opponent and keeping and eye out for all their tells.

As per its title, this movie has a predominately flute-based soundtrack, and it's nice, setting the mood perfectly, and giving off an otherworldly feel to events. At times it almost reminded me of Gheorghe Zamfir.

The effects here are mixed. The film has quite a cheap look in places, with cheesy visuals such as the monkey make-up and masks. The costumes meanwhile are as piecemeal as the cultures represented. I kinda like the universal mix of Chinese, Arab, Egyptian, and others, with the jumble giving this world a feeling of being somewhere almost familiar, but not quite The only outfits I didn't care for were the raiders in the riverside scene, who looked like they wandered in from a super cheap Roman movie. Finally, the locations and set design present are utilised extremely well! There are some very pretty moments.

One last element of the movie to discuss is its name. It's called The Silent Flute, and that's even the name in the opening and ending credits, but it was and still is released and marketed as Circle of Iron, which is a pretty generic and random title, with little of the thematic connection that The Silent Flute bears. While we're on that note/chord* though, the movie never actually bothers to explain that the blind man's flute is silent! We hear it just fine, so we only have Cord's word at the end to go on that it's a quiet tune only he can hear.

*Look, I came across two unintentionally neat puns and I couldn't choose so I went with both, ok?

The Silent Flute isn't perfect, but it's a very interesting kung fu film, that tries to do a little more than just show mindless fight scenes. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it's good seeing more thought-provoking examples of the genre every now and then...

The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians (1981)

Famed opera singer Baron Teleke Toloko has ventured to the far-off Carpathian mountains for a rest excursion, when he stumbles upon a mysterious haunted castle in the village of Werewolfsville. He investigates further, finding that his long lost love may be imprisoned withing its walls. Determined to rescue her, he goes in with the aid of a local man, finding more than he bargained for inside...

The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathian Mountains is a film that definitely lives up to that long title. It's a very funny movie, and a perfect example of Czechoslovakian cinema. If you ever get a Czechoslovak on the subject of film, this is for sure to be the one they recommend above all else, and for good reason!

The tone of the movie is a quirky and somewhat black zaniness,    But it never gets too dark. This is definitely a black comedy in places, but never mean-spirited, and   The only complaint one might have is that the humour could detract from the drama in the final reveal. But I think the filmmakers were aware of this, which is why they end the movie the way they did, [with a = curtain call as if to tell us that everything is really ok, and we can relax.]



While this film bears a lot of originality all to itself, the story [itself] actually comes from none other than Jules Verne! His 1892 novel The Carpathian Castle  While I haven't read it yet, this seems to be a fairly faithful adaption. Some added local humour and lunacy of course, and the Czechs tinkered with the lead's name to make it = and hilarious, but otherwise it seems pretty untouched.

This is set in a classical period, but features a lot of advanced technology. This works in a fun anachronistic way, without being obnoxious and in-your-face about it like other movies can be. It gives the film a really unique aesthetic. Surprisingly, however, all of that is in the book! Shocking, right? You just assume the movie is deliberately anachronistic, but nope, instead Jules Verne was being Jules Verne again, and predicting dozens of future technologies to a tee! And all in a random book of his that most casual readers don't even know!

The pace here is really good. The first half hour sets up the mystery well, and successfully makes the castle feel like a foreboding presence off in the distance, completely unknown. When we do finally reach it, the rest of the movie takes place within its walls, and it never gets boring even for a moment. The mystery develops nicely, and there's a nice dripfeed of information. We find out who the bad guys all are by the halfway point, certainly enough to get us interested, while the rest remains unknown for longer.

The effects in this film are great! Going hand in hand with the main location, the = always looks stellar, from the gorgeous set design (every chair, clock, painting, and ornament has a unique identity), to the mechanically moving rooms, the neat technology, the stop-motion effects (courtesy of Jan Svankmajer, I think), and much more. In any movies like this where the location is an important part of the film, it needs to look the part, and the castle here truly does. I felt bad when it got blown up at the end, I wanna live there!

The Czechoslovakian wilderness is great too. We get a nice smalltown village, with lush greenery, wide valleys, and dense forests.

The actors   = delivers a jovial performance as the hero, while = is an effective straight man. The three villains are absolutely bizarre, enjoyable as they are weird. [I would also critique the weird fake beard if I didn't know it's an intentional joke.] The remainder of the cast are fine, with = being cute as the motherly and somewhat disapproving =, and = makes a great impression as Salsa, despite barely actually 'appearing'.

The score in Mysterious Castle is a very nice one, full of classical pieces, and operatic tunes performed within the movie. They nail a good balance between over-the-top and goofy (we can totally imagine these voices really breaking glass and stone!) but without being so overdone that they're shrill and painful to listen to.

The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians is a comedy classic for a reason, and is still a staple in its homeland of Czechoslovakia (ok, so its homeland technically doesn't exist anymore, sue me!). I highly recommend it...

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Son of Godzilla (1967)

Plucky reporter Goro flies to the tropical and isolated Solgell island in search of of a story, and finds it immediately when the research group stationed there tell him to clear out. Now convinced this place is of interest, he stays put, and is made to earn his keep by the others. Learning they're conducting experiments into weather control, Goro witnesses a test gone wrong when the radar is jammed, creating a temporary disaster. He investigates deeper into the island, finding not only the daughter of a long lost scientist, and a bevy of giant praying mantises, but also a mysterious egg...

The Godzilla series had pivoted firmly into more child-friendly territory by this point, and comparing this film with the first is like night and day ([especially since that's in black and white!]), but that's not a bad thing. I never found myself comparing the two unfavourably. This isn't the kind of film that'd only keep 4 year olds entertained and have even 10 year olds with their intelligence insulted. It's easily watchable for all ages, with something for everybody.

It possesses a sense of humour that always entertains and never verges into the farcical or stupid. Overt silliness is kept to a minimum, with the comedy coming from Godzilla and his son, and the antics they get up to (from his battles with the gimantises, to learning to breath fire), and the humans keep things tempered.

The monster plot is a great visual story. Making his debut in the series is Minilla (or Minya, which is irrelevant since he's never actually named in the movie), the absolutely adorable son of Godzilla. He's sweet and fun to watch. It's engaging as we watch this story of Minilla learning to become a big and strong monster and earning his father's respect, and Godzilla learning to be a good and accepting father. He is new at this and needs all the encouragement he can get from us!

The human plot is fairly standard, but perfectly serviceable. It ticks all the boxes. Brief, set on a lush tropical island, with at least one scantily clad native babe, and containing some fun technobabble. The whole weather experimenting is a neat hook for the story, and delivers some minor social commentary on scientists tampering with the elements, [though this is never really explored much.] Overall the human story has a simplicity to it that means it never gets overcomplicated or hard to buy.

There are some areas I found lacking though. For a start, there's very little exploration into the whys of Godzilla becoming a daddy. How does he have a kid? Where is the mother? Why was the egg on this faraway island? At least some of these problems could have been fixed with maybe more screen time. As it stands the monsters appear decently throughout, but more screentime wouldn't go unwanted.

Onto the characters. Enterprising reporter Goro is a surprisingly likeable lead. He's the kind of knobhead who has himself airdropped into a sensitive location, then uses the fact that he has no way home as an excuse for staying. With this in mind, it's a pleasant surprise that he ends up befriending the others, working hard, and becoming an engaging enough hero as far as kaiju movies go.

Native island girl Reika is a good sidekick. She's not totally a warrior woman, but she has her moments, and is often clever and resourceful, [even if she does flail around a bit here and there].  The Professor is like a mix between dedicated scientist and loud military official. He's fine, both tough while also having a sensible and goodhearted side. Resident grump Furukawa has a consistent tendency to go crazy and run around with a loaded rifle. Despite this the others never think to tie him down. Luckily he never does anything seriously bad, and it is at least understandable why he'd be increasingly antsy about being on an isolated island full of monsters.

Ever since its release, many have been quick to dismiss Son of Godzilla, some more unfairly than others. They often take issue with the movie being so goofy, and with Minilla as a very concept. But many have been kind to it also, and it's developed a good reputation over the years. Probably because it's just a hard film to dislike. As I've said before, even the worst Godzilla film is still light years better than other dreck.

The effects here are all fun and effective. Cheesy, with Godzilla looking more cartoony than usual, and Minilla's first outing has the costume has some rough edges, but by and large they still look good. And even if they do sometimes resemble muppets, they still look like big damn muppets! The other monsters look good too, with the Gimantises and Spiger (Kamacuras and Kumonga in the original Japanese)  and the fact that they weren't animated by people in suits makes their movements all the more impressive, especially given the dynamic action scenes, and how they fly and flail around, convincingly too!

The island setting is lush and pretty. A mix of location work and convincing sets, it's great to watch, and is helped by the fine direction. The monster fights are also well choreographed.

Some of the Godzilla films could get treated pretty roughly/shabbily when translated to the American market, but Son is one of the better treated ones. The scenes aren't reshuffled or deleted, music isn't removed, and the story isn't changed. It's basically just a standard dub of the original, in order from beginning to end. Cheesy in that fun and endearing way that these kind of dubbed pictures often are, without being obnoxious.

The actors all do fine jobs, though the dub actors really should've kept their voices to a whisper in some scenes ("THIS IS WHERE THE SPIGER LIVES!" "WHAT, DOWN THERE?"). As for the monsters, Godzilla delivers a good performance as usual, while  The sounds he makes could be annoying to some with their donkey-ish braying, but they're not too bad.

Son of Godzilla stands as one of the cheesier points in the series, and also one of the most heartwarming, telling a story of Godzilla as a father with a straight face, and would lay groundwork that would never be forgotten and brushed under the rug, either! If you're a fan of the series, and giant monsters in general, this is worth checking out...