Last Month in Movies – February 2018

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters – An anime movie made for Netflix, apparently because Toho isn’t allowed to make a live-action Godzilla until Hollywood’s done with their movies. Also, the first of three!

This movie begins with the remnants of humanity floating through space, after having been chased off of Earth by Godzilla and scores of other monsters. But with supplies dwindling and no prospects for another habitable planet, the plan ends up being to turn around and go back to Earth. After all, time dilation has caused time on Earth to advance roughly 9 thousand years for the eleven years that the people on the ship have experienced. Godzilla has to be long dead, right?

Obviously, Godzilla is not dead, and so begins an operation to expose and destroy his weak point. It’s really convoluted and incredibly padded down with anime/sci-fi jargon, but whatever. It’s still a unique plot for a Godzilla movie, and I dig it. Not as much as I dug Shin Godzilla, but it was still good. I think the only thing that I actively disliked was the 3D animation. It wasn’t bad or anything, but it just didn’t quite work for me. Mostly because despite the fancy animation, it held true to the anime trope of not much actually being animated besides mouths and special effects. Oh well.

The Cloverfield Paradox – Stealth dropped onto Netflix so quietly that I didn’t know it was there until a week later. The damn app didn’t even give me a suggestion notification. Because Netflix has no friggin’ clue what I want to watch.

The third film in the Cloverfield franchise has the most science-related fiction of them all. It is the tale of a bunch of scientists up on a space station who are trying to get a giant particle accelerator to work in hopes of solving the world’s energy crisis. Alas, these things never go quite as planned, and the station is drawn into an alternate universe, where parts of the two universes start mingling and causing all sorts of strange phenomena. Also, the tear in space-time apparently causes monsters to invade Earth in the prime universe?

Critics have not been kind to this film. Complaints of muddled storytelling and lacking characterization are abound, and it’s got some pretty rough aggregated scores. But… I liked it. It’s not great, but it was a fine way to pass a Tuesday evening. I found the main story interesting, though the sub-plot back on Earth was barely a thing and obviously just grafted on to connect Paradox to the original Cloverfield. Even I can recognize something so hacky. But yeah, overall I didn’t think it was bad. A little tropey, but there were a couple decent twists. Might have been better if they hadn’t killed off quite so many¬†characters just because that’s how these movies work.

Gifted – Okay, I didn’t really watch this. I just caught the last half hour when I went over to my parents’ place one night and my dad was watching it. As I saw it, it was a fellow giving a kid to adoptive parents and then changing his mind a couple weeks later (because her cat was given away to the pound?) and taking her back. I had no idea the relationship between any of the characters, so none of it made any sense, until I looked it up on Wikipedia afterward. Apparently it was supposed to be a comedy to some degree, but I didn’t notice anything funny until a couple quips by the little girl at the end. I don’t know. It’s not something I’d go back to and watch the whole thing.

Vacation (2015) – Ah, unnecessary sequels. But I suppose they’re better than reboots. Honestly, it’s not really work even writing about. Just your typical dysfunctional family comedy, with many “hilarious” gross-out jokes along the way.

Annihilation – I don’t even know where to start. I need to watch it again, and then I want to do a full write-up on it. Short version: I liked it, but it only barely resembles the book.

Fullmetal Alchemist – Live-action. Based on a mange/anime. Netflix original. No, you’re absolutely right, this can’t possibly end well.

But actually I guess it was okay? I mean, you’re distilling a 52-episode series down into two hours. It’s going to get a little… scrumpled. I don’t know. I didn’t have a good word for it. So I made one up. Silliness aside, there’s a lot of plot cut out, a lot of detail dropped, a lot of tweaks here and there. Generally, though, it stays fairly true to the original story. Or, one of them, anyway. I can’t remember if it was the original anime series or Brotherhood. The point it, it doesn’t diverge nearly as much as Annihilation does.

Still, it’s a goofy Japanese take on a superhero movie. It’s very corny, but not nearly as over-acted as I expected. I thought that the special effects were actually very good, so much so that I had to double-check online that Alphonse’s armored body was CGI. All that said, yeah, I liked it. For people who aren’t familiar with the anime or manga, the abridged story will probably be more confusing than anything, but it’s probably about as good as this type of movie is going to get.

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