Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Double Dragon (1994)

Double Dragon was one of the most popular arcade sensations of its day, and this success would eventually lead to a movie adaption...Which is considered one of the worst ever made! This reputation made me avoid it, but I have often been curious, even if only to see firsthand just how bad it is. So how does Double Dragon fare, almost 30 years later?...

It's the future of 2007, and Los Angeles is a half-sunken dystopia after a great earthquake. Now gangs rove the streets, in a truce with the police. They are quiet during the day, but once night falls they have license to wreak havoc. Billy and Jimmy are brothers who get by competing in the odd fighting tournament, and avoiding gang trouble. This relative peace shattered by ruthless businessman Koga Shuko, who's looking for the Double Dragon. A mystical object so powerful, it could control the world...

Double Dragon is everything you'd expect from the 90s. It's cheesy, colourful, and the humour verges on the childish. But, surprisingly, I had a pretty good time with it! It tells a pretty stock-standard story, which is hardly surprising considering what it's based on, and it gets the job done. And as [goofy as it looks, and it does go a bit far, at least this is a film that isn't afraid of looking goofy or colourful!

For all the talk this movie gets of being a horrible adaption, it's honestly not that bad. I mean, what was the plot of the Double Dragon game? Two brothers beat the shit out of gangsters. Really nothing complex. All this can be accused of is adding a bunch of stuff that wasn't in the games, but they mostly work. The dystopian setting gives greater context for why crazy gangs are roaming so much. And the supernatural medallion stuff works decently, and probably isn't too out of keeping with the later games.

Somewhere I feel the movie really succeeds is its depiction of a dystopian near future. What's so good about it? It feels real! Usually dystopian films are more distanced from our reality. A reflection of it, but to use an example, they might use fictional products or celebrities, etc. But this film is only set in 2007, and despite being in a disaster-struck America, the familiar celebs and talking heads are still present, and doing their thing. It also shows how the world doesn't stop and start at LA's convenience.

The action here is pretty good. There's disappointingly little fighting in the first half, but juuust enough to stop me from getting pissed off. What helps is the variety in other action, like scuffles, escapes, chases, etc. Things even out slightly as we go on, but there's still not as much as an adaption of a fighting game could use. Something the film does nail is a real sense of being stuck on the streets, with no home or vehicle, and an approaching deadline to curfew, knowing the gangs will be out any minute.

While there are some good moments, the climax is disappointing in some ways. All the combined power of the Double Dragon does it turn Shuko into random twin demons, and after a couple of well-placed kicks (and a well-aimed light), he's done for! Despite all the build-up, Abobo doesn't do anything besides a suggestion. I did like how Shuko's possession gave a good reason for the brothers to fight, without either coming off as assholes.

The film wraps up ok. I didn't understand the ending, but we get a funny henchman joke.

The film has a few odd moments, like a spooky morgue full of 'zombies'. It's funny how the characters try and stress that they're only in suspended animation (as if admitting they were dead would bump the rating up too high), then proceed to absolutely crush these host bodies!

Then there's when Billy and Jimmy force the villain to give all his money to the police! As if giving them more funding is a good idea! But then again this is an alternate world where they are underfunded, so it does make sense, even if it's amusing from our point-of-view.

Bim...Billy and Jimmy are a likeable enough pair of leads. Typically headstrong, a bit inexperienced, but tough enough to overcome anything thrown at 'em. There are times when characters just know things, and these two are idiots at times, but they figure things out quickly. They also have a great cinema home!

The guys have a unique mentor in Satori, not only in that she's younger, but a woman! She goes the way of all mentors, and her relationship with the leads plus her age makes it more surprising. Marian is a fun gal, tough but sweet, and always on hand to aid the heroes. Unlike the games, where she's just the damsel in distress, here the movie overcompensates a little by making her not only a capable fighter, but also the leader of a vigilante group! But this works fine, since it is adapting a pretty nothing character. Although we really really could've done without the bizarre spinach torture! Talk about cringey humour!

Koga Shuko is a fun villain. You'd think a villainous CEO might be boring, but he experiments with his whole attire. Not only a trenchoat and sunnies, but he has a platinum blonde dye job! It's hard to take seriously, but that is probably the point in a way, and goodness knows real billionaires aren't any more stylish. Before you wonder why a bone white Yank is playing Koga Shuko, it's actually an assumed name. He was originally Walter Geissman, before deciding a Japanese name would be cooler. Between this and his hair, he really does come across as a wannabe hipster you'd see today!

The supporting cast are ok, from the minor villains (namely whip-wielding vixen Linda Lash), to the conflicted but noble police chief, also Marian's father. And then there's dumb gangster Bo Abobo, who starts out as a regular brute, before being mutated by Shuko. His design as a mutant is weird, and threatens to make the movie too silly, but I eventually got slightly used to it. And it does kinda fit with the games, in how some enemies would have two forms.

The cast in Double Dragon do mostly well, barring exceptions. Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf are good leads, looking the part, and pulling off the action well. Julia Nickson is nice as the mentor, while Alyssa Milano is pretty gorgeous, and spunky. Robert Patrick gives a really fun performance. I like the mock disinterest he shows, and the way his eyebrows raise. This is a very difference villainous performance from the T-1000, even if the special effects sometimes resemble his famous turn. Everyone else does fine(ish), and there's the perfect casting choice of Michael Berryman! But then he's killed after only one scene! And lastly, perennial henchmen Al Leong and Jeff Imada are a fun presence.

The location work here is really good. The film does a great job visualising a sunken city, and it takes advantage of the setting too, showing it off in natural ways, not just telling us the city's condition but never showing it.

The effects here are mixed. There's an abundance of kooky and slightly futuristic props and outfits, and one can plainly see the money onscreen...but at times it feels like they spent a lot to look cheap. There are many good to great effects too, and some CGI that's not entirely awful, as well as good prosthetics/costumes. The film pays homage to its gaming roots with a few VR moments, and we even get a bunch of arcade machines in the HQ, including Double Dragon itself! How??

The film has a satisfyingly bright palette, though I do think it gets a little carried away with the colour sometimes, like the Nickelodeon slime pools in the Powercorps HQ. It makes the film look a bit too fake and kiddy sometimes. But overall it's nice seeing an adaption embrace colour rather than reject it in favour of 'gritty realism' (i.e. muted black and grey).

The soundtrack here is pretty good. I really like music in the office building, and the police march scene. And there are a few mid-90s licensed tunes, which are ok I suppose, though not really my thing. The song that plays over the end credits is groovy though!

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think Double Dragon is a good movie! It's a bit too goofy for its own good sometimes, but it's fun, feels like a video game, and I feel has far more character and charm to it than most modern flicks! It's a great watch for a rainy afternoon, with some pizza, soda, and popcorn!...

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983)

Spanish horror star Paul Naschy's Hombre Lobo series had been going on for 15 years, and 9 entries (technically 8), and the early 80s was simultaneously a period for big money and hard times for Naschy. His previous film Return of the Wolf Man got a bigger budget than normal, courtesy of Japanese financing, which led into his next film, The Beast and the Magic Sword...

Centuries ago the Daninsky family bloodline was cursed by a satanic witch. The latest to bear this curse is Waldemar, who visits a Jewish mystic named Salom in search of a cure. He is unsuccessful, and the bigoted Inquisition causes them to flee. Before his death, Salom urges Waldemar to find the great healer Kian in the faraway land of Japan. Only he has a hope of eliminating this curse forever...

The Beast and the Magic Sword (La Bestia y la Espada Magico) is a real treat of a movie! From its first scenes the increased budget is apparent, and it feels like the kind of project Naschy had always dreamed of making. Apparently the series was quite popular in Japan. They must have been pleased that the entry they helped produce is of such high quality!

This is a fun movie, brimming with imagination. There's always enough going on to entertain, and I was looking forward to everything that came next. There are werewolves, samurai, ninjas, and more!

Unlike previous Hombre Lobo films, where budget dictated they be in the present day, Beast and the Magic Sword is set completely in the past, ranging from the middle ages, to Medieval Spain, then Feudal Japan. Ir's a rich choice of settings!

Surprisingly the film has two different prologues, which goes a way to explaining why it's nearly two hours long! The scenes set in the past are unnecessary and probably could've been cut...but they are still good, and it's cool seeing all these different time periods and place.

As the film goes on it becomes increasingly punishing, due to the sheer amount of story here. To sum up, there's the first prologue detailing the origin of the curse, the second with Salom, then the shift to Japan and Kian (with his own ninja enemies), and a demon sorceress. And she dies with half an hour left! It makes you wonder what else is gonna happen, and if there'll be a test.

Some scenes, and whole plotlines, are redundant. The ultimate decision that there is no cure and Waldemar has to die is insulting really. It completely wastes our time, and makes everyone involved an idiot. The wise sage Salom was wrong, Kian wasn't all-knowing and didn't have the answers, Kinga and Esther died for nothing, as did everyone in Japan killed by the werewolf. The tragic endings to other Hombre Lobo movies can sometimes be a downer when a cure is so close but he dies anyway, but at least the existence of a cure provides the possibility of a happy ending. Here though the movie makes it quite clear. There is no cure, and nothing matters.

The last act is where the film really goes off the rails. Despite the sorceress being dead, her castle is still full of magic. Armies of fox spirits, zombie samurai, and ghost witches armed with silly string. This is all in the name of finding the silver katana, despite it being in such a trap of a location! Can't they just make a new sword? Is there really no other silver in all of Japan?

The finale has to make things difficult. I'm not sure why Kian can't just stab Waldemar in his human form, or mid-transformation. Or why he can't even be in the same room when he transforms, instead of letting the werewolf roam freely and just hope he ends up in the sacred temple? Despite his prowess, Kian does a pretty poor job fighting, until his sister busts in and takes the wolf out easily!

We're closed out with an ok ending, if a bit morose. It's a relief finally seeing the credits roll, but the film doesn't seem to know when to end. The music keeps going even after the credits have actually stopped and the screen's cut to black.

Despite its more colourful trappings, The Beast and the Magic Sword is a horror through and through. On one hand this is great, showing that the movie always has teeth. On the other hand, I was kinda hoping this'd be more of an adventure film! A Spanish werewolf roams a mystical foreign land, fighting witches, zombies, and ninjas in spectacular sword fights as he seeks a cure! Sounds like a load of fun! The film does deliver all that content, but in a darker less rollicking way. Because the tone is still bleak, the ending is inevitable, and Waldemar isn't able to survive the one entry I thought for sure he could!

Beast and the Magic Sword is critical of the Catholic church in a way that would have been forbidden by the Franco regime only a few years prior. We see how bigoted, intolerant, and violent the Spanish church was, and how they mistreat those they claim to love and care for.

Where the film excels is its portrayal of Japan! We get immersed into their culture, from their behaviour, customs, and all-important sense of honour. It's also interesting seeing Christianity and Shinto side by side, with magic from both theologies presented as real.

The characters here are extensive. The prologue has its own cast, which are pretty distinct, from the well-meaning but sneaky king, to the strong Daninsky ancestor, the waifish young princess (and her hilarious bedroom dialogue), as well as a pair of fun villains.

The film's lead is ostensibly Waldemar Daninsky. He's your average dude, caring, but depressed about his curse. His wolf form meanwhile has no such morals, and exists only to kill. The film does a great job showing how dangerous a werewolf is, though it also might go a bit far. I mean, it's just one werewolf! And it almost takes out all of Japan!

One thing I found ridiculous was how Waldemar uses absolutely no restraints! He just transforms every full moon and goes out slaughtering the innocent (Admittedly Japanese architecture probably isn't adept at holding werewolves!). How his loved ones survive each time is a mystery! He's good guy, yet he leaves behind a swath of corpses, especially in the country he has the nerve asking help from! Even Waldemar acknowledges that his cure is coming at too high a price.

The film's supporting cast is expansive, and many of them are unnecessary. This is no more evident than with Waldemar's female entourage. Long stretches of time go by without seeing them, and his wife Kinga barely says a word, to the point where I forgot she existed. She also has a ridiculously abrupt death! Esther fares a little better, and her final moments at least accomplish something.

Kian is a likeable dude, and his depth and screentime make him tied for lead character. Oddly younger than you'd expect from Salom's description, he's supposedly wise and gifted, yet we see little of this, as every attempt to cure Waldemar ends in failure. As a fighter though he can sure throw down!

The supporting cast includes the distressed emperor, and Kian's uncle, who is forced to deal with the responsibility of the growing death toll, upon his honour. He meets a depressing end, which is entirely Kian's fault! A human villain is shifty court warrior Eiko, who has a grudge against Kian and will do anything ot see him dead. He confronts his enemy and is killed after only one fight! I expected him to stick around longer to cause trouble, or at least his death would cause a stir, but nope.

Then there's an evil sorceress, who's a nice presence. A clearly malevolent being with unknown motives. It's fun seeing how her plan plays out, and the tiger gladiator fight she sends the werewolf into is great! Then she's killed though, with far too much of the film left.

The acting here is good. Paul Naschy does a fine job as usual (even if his werewolf growl here sometimes sounds like excessively clearing his throat). He was 49 at this point, and it's nice seeing him still do these familiar roles even in a more mature age. His weightlifter's physique has broadened with age to make him a larger fella, but in a stocky way, rather than portly. Shigeru Amachi does a fine job as Kian, taking much of the film on his own shoulders. The women meanwhile are gorgeous, even if some of their performances can be a bit stiff. The rest of the pretty hefty cast of supporting characters and extras are fine. Also amusing is a matter of language. In this film, everyone in Japan speaks fluent Spanish, even with each-other! "Si heneral, voy a destruir este monstruo."

The effects in Beast and the Magic Sword are a real high point! The werewolf make-up is great, vicious yet fluffier than usual, to adorable effect. Other monsters are designed well too. The gore is plentiful and well made, with a lot of variety (including one jawdropping dream sequence!). No expense is spared, and the budget is always visible on-screen. If it was high for Naschy, it shows, and if it was still low, then how commendable a job the crew did to make it look this good! One noteworthy scene is the fight with the tiger. It's a real tiger, so I have no idea how they managed to do this without either harming the animal, or getting the actor killed! It seems like they managed though? One would hope.

The set design and location work is stellar too! Medieval Europe is recreated well, and both the Japanese settings and locales are gorgeous. The direction is by none other than Naschy himself, and once again he proves himself more than up to the task! This film has such great visuals and framing that he could've easily made a full-time job of it as a director.

The music here is quite good, with a decent amount of spooky tracks, and Oriental tunes. There's also a J-pop song that might feel out-of-place to some, but it's not too peppy at least, and fits the mood.

The Beast and the Magic Sword is one of the most vibrant and good looking films in the Hombre Lobo series! With its creative ideas, mix of cultures, and great action, it's a great entry, despite its other flaws. How many 10th entries can you say that about!...

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Night of the Werewolf (1981)

In the middle ages, devilish witch Elizabeth Bathory is put to death, along with her mind-controlled werewolf servant Waldemar Daninsky. Centuries later, a woman Erika assembles some college friends for an expedition to find Bathory's body. Upon arriving to the area, they meet a very much alive Waldemar, who was revived after some foolhardy graverobbers disturbed his body. Unfortunately Erika has sinister motives, and seeks to bring her dead mistress back from the grave, to enact her terrible revenge against the world...

The 9th film in Paul Naschy's Hombre Lobo series is Night of the Werewolf, or Return of the Wolf Man in Spanish (not to be confused with 'lost' entry Night of the Wolf Man). It's a rip-roaring Gothic horror, with all the classic elements you know and love, with enough modern touches to make this feel like the best of both worlds.

The film is a semi remake of Werewolf and the Vampire Woman. It's not a beat-by-beat retelling, and does plenty different, while picking everything that worked and putting its own spin on things. It gets off to a great start, and has lots of promise!

Unfortunately Night of the Werewolf has a pretty big issue, and it's the plot at fault! It doesn't know when to keep still! The film has such a quick pace that it races through story beats so quickly it's almost like we're getting cliffnotes, than experiencing the story properly. Character relationships are glossed over, some things are rushed or left out altogether, and people reach conclusions before we've even realised there are any to be made.

Despite this, the plot isn't actually heavy on details, it just never focuses. I thought Night of the Werewolf fails where prior entry Dr. Jekyll and the Wolf Man excelled. While it does annoy that a movie named after Dr. Jekyll only featured him in the back half, it was nice how that introduced Waldemar's werewolf story in that first act, went through it at a good pace, then moved onto the next, rather than rushing through.

The characters here are pretty good. Erika seems like the viewpoint character at first, riiight up until she murders a nice old man! She's a manipulating she-bitch, though kinda melts into the background once her mistress is resurrected. Elizabeth Bathory is maybe a bit too quiet, but suitably evil. The film does a really good job at showing these vampires as not only powerful, but otherworldly.

Waldemar Daninsky is a good hero, this time originating from the middle ages and awakening in the modern era. He has surprisingly little culture shock about the passing of 500 years, though I suppose it doesn't mean much when you only leave your ancestral castle grounds to slaughter some villagers. He's filled with the expected angst that comes from being a werewolf, and is a tragic lover.

Karen is a nice enough girl, though a bit empty. With the sudden pacing we never really see her fall for Waldemar, or even naturally discover who he is. Instead Erika is just like 'Our host is really a 500 year old werewolf, and can only be killed by a woman who loves him. Maybe that could be you?'. It's almost like she psyches herself up into loving this stranger she's only just met, and sure enough they develop an unbreakable romantic bond based on a week of company.

The rest of the cast includes a shy college friend, who faints a lot, barely says a word, and is the first to be killed and vampirised. Then there's Waldemar's disfigured ladyservant, who also loves him. Why she doesn't use this gift to kill him is anyone's guess. Overall, while the cast is small, there are still too many. The female characters all blend together and look the same! I'll say this though, it's quite a feminist horror in a way. How many other horror films, or films overall could you say the women outnumber the men 5 to 1!

The acting here is decent enough. Everyone gives pretty subdued performances, and there's nothing too over-the-top. There's a surprising lack of dialogue in places, especially the final act. The English dub is a hoot though! It makes some supporting characters hilarious (I wish those two graverobbers didn't die after only one scene!), has cheesy lines like villagers wanting to protect the town with "Garlic up to your ass!", and Waldemar overuses Karen's name to a hilarious degree as the film goes on! 'Karen? Are you ok Karen? Karen, be careful, otherwise...Oh Karen, I wouldn't know what to do without you! Karen!'

The effects in Night of the Werewolf are very good! The werewolf make-up is as great as usual, and Paul looks more ferocious than ever. The transformations are pretty good too, and don't cheat often. One is unnecessarily prolonged, while the final one has a seamless fade-transition!

The film is very violent too, with some neat gore. It never skimps on the blood, and one sacrifice scene has so much it ceases to seem like blood anymore!

The direction here is by leading man Paul Naschy, credited under his real name Jacinto Molina. He does a stellar job! You mileage may vary on stars turned directors, but he proves merit to the idea. He visualises scenes from his head really well, and there are many great visuals. There are also lots of little touches, like the flaming coffin at the end, which weren't necessary but give the film that extra push to look even cooler!

The sets and locations in Night all look gorgeous too, with enough medieval architecture to impress. But the film has a significant drawback, and it's one that dulls the experience for me-It's brown! The whole movie feels brown! The rooms are brown, the lights are brown. Only the blood is red!

The music here is fantastic! We've got a groovy main theme, that's a little ill-fitting after a medieval prologue, and especially after the sombre ending, but still can't be beat! There are spooky tracks throughout, including a satanic choir. Of note are two really great pieces near the end. One when the vampires are rising, punctuated with unearthly groans and fluting. And the second is when Waldemar has discovered their hideout and journeys deep into the castle. It's a real action-driven tune!

Night of the Werewolf has some issues that bring it down, but it has a lot to love, and it's a great showcase for Spanish horror!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Godzilla 2000 (1999)

After the end of Godzilla's Heisei era in 1995, Toho put their resident monster on ice for another break, especially with an upcoming American remake on the way. The Japanese are a gracious bunch, and are more than willing to let others take the limelight for their own takes on the monster. Of course, then that film would prove to be a major disappointment for series fans, particularly the Japanese!...

After the original Godzilla's attack in 1954, the Japanese government has set up a strike division to try and destroy him, now led by the fanatic Katagiri. Meanwhile single father Yuji Shinoda leads the Godzilla Prediction Network, which seeks to understand the monster, and see the good in him. Things take a turn when the government uncovers an ancient alien spacecraft, which comes to life and begins taking a disturbing interest in Godzilla...

Godzilla 2000 is a perfect definition of a mixed bag. It's got a lot of good in it, but some bad too, and the whole film just came way too soon. There was only a 4 year gap between this and the last era, compared to the 9 year hiatus between the Showa and Heisei eras. The film was also rushed, coming only a single year after the American remake.

The story here is pretty basic, and gets off to a surprisingly quick start! The Godzilla Prediction Network is a neat concept, like storm chasers for giant monsters. There are familiar story beats, like aliens, but handled in a new and interesting way. Rather than a race of snazzily dressed invaders from Mars, we have just the one ship, which is like an unknowable techno organism.

Where this film excels is showing what the Godzilla series is after the disappointment of the 98 American version. Now I don't hate that movie (except its length of course!), and it has some good in it if you squint, but as a Godzilla film, it's just too different! 2000 goes out of its way, even in the opening minutes, to show that the true King is back, and this is how you handle him.

Whereas the Heisei series was heavily linked by continuity, the Millennium series was the opposite, with each entry resetting the continuity. This is hard to tell though just going from this first entry, and it being in a new continuity doesn't really add much. This could easily be part of the Showa canon and it wouldn't make a difference.

Godzilla 2000, like other entries in the series, was tinkered liberally for the American release. In this case, 8 minutes were shaved off the runtime, and it was dubbed, leaning into the comedy more. This all sounds terrible, as per usual, but in a surprise twist, it's this US version that's considered the better cut of the film! The Japanese version is considered by many to be overlong, and badly in need of an edit. Which this one provides, tightening up the pace considerably.

The humour mainly comes through in intentionally cheesy dialogue, like "Great Caesar's ghost!", "Gott in himmel!", and "I guarantee it'll go through Godzilla like crap through a goose". Thankfully it never goes too far. The dub director by his own admission added in some amusing dialogue to make audiences less likely to laugh during the monster action, which I think was a good call. And the monster action here is pretty serious, so a little levity is nice.

The characters are established very quickly. Shinoda is a likeable guy, and never comes off like an overly idealistic moron. He's a good dad too! The film provides good justification for his viewpoint with how DNA from Godzilla can provide many boons for humanity. It's just a shame aliens picked this day to invade earth and hijacked the DNA to clone their own Godzilla, but how are scientists supposed to know these things?

While not outright villainous, Katagiri is an ideological enemy for Shinoda, and has a fanatic grudge towards Godzilla. He has a great screen presence, even against giant monsters. His arc culminates when Godzilla somehow singles him out, leading to a memorable end.

The supporting cast include Shinoda's clever daughter, a plucky female reporter who'll do anything for a story, and a scientist with mixed loyalties, working for Katagiri, but friendly with Shinoda and his ideals.

Godzilla is a neutral figure here, arriving in Japan almost like a natural disaster. He causes trouble, but isn't outright evil. The film delves into his biology, and is quite interesting. His regenerative properties are exaggerated a little, when even a broken off skin fragment is immortal on a cellular level.

The spaceship is guided by an unknown intelligence. What little we do know is that it can hack into computers and understand our language, and it's presumably pissed at being asleep for hundreds of millions of years! After absorbing Godzilla's DNA, it changes shape into the monster Orga, so it can remake the planet as its own.

Orga is a misshapen creature, like a machine cobbled together its own Godzilla out of raw material. I wasn't wild on him literally trying to copy Godzilla, since the Heisei era had more than enough 'clones', but thankfully he's destroyed before that happens, so he's still visually unique. He also gets a memorably gross moment, and an explosive end! That Godzilla's a thinker!

The action in Godzilla 2000 is plenty of fun, with a nice balance throughout, and a good monster bash. Though there is a bit too much standing around and reacting in the final fight, and Orga's transformation does take a little long.

The ending is just plain weird! After Orga is destroyed, the humans pontificate about humanity and Godzilla, leading to the funniest line of the movie. "Why does he keep protecting us?"-"Maybe because Godzilla is inside each one of us." It's so cartoonishly cheesy they may as well have said "The real Godzilla is the friends we made along the way." What follows is even weirder though. You'd expect Godzilla to just stride off into the sunset, but the opposite happens. It's oddly destructive and very abrupt.

The effects are one of the film's biggest mixed bags. The monsters are great! Godzilla has a new costume, which shows off his grouchy side really well, and looks formidable. Orga is an odd looking kaiju, in a great way.

There are also some great miniatures and pyrotechnics. But where the film falters is the excessive amount of early CGI, and green screens. I'm glad Toho were experimenting with something new, but the effect here is really bad half the time! It looks like an incomplete work in places.

I liked the direction here. It shows Godzilla's size and sense of scale in really effective ways. The lighting is standout too, particularly the rich oranges in the final act, and ending.

Onto the acting, the original Japanese cast are good, especially the impressive Hiroshi Abe as Katagiri. The dubbing is still cheesy, especially for a modern film, but the performers do decent jobs.

The music here is pretty neat, with the main theme in particular being a strong one. We also have some reprises of the Akira Ifukube classics, to remind us which monster is king.

In some ways, Godzilla 2000 is a flawed start to the Millennium series. But in other ways it's a return to form, showing how it's done. If only it had an extra year of work, maybe even coming out in the year of its title. But as it stands, this is still a more than watchable entry, and plenty of fun for Kaiju fans!...