Wednesday 21 April 2021

Rob's Movie Night Roundup - G: Godzilla vs Kong, Ghost In The Shell

At the beginning of the year, my wife and I decided that we'd like to watch more movies. There are 52 weeks in a year, 2 of us, and 26 letters in the alphabet. What better way to choose some movies than to go alphabetically? The only rule: Where possible, it should be a movie that one or more of us had never seen before. Oh, and ideally it should be part of one of the copious online streaming services we're already subscribed to, because why bother paying for a rental when we're not short of options?

Incidentally, if anyone from the big online streaming service providers is reading this (your Notfluxes or your Prims, for example), please make it easier to search for/sort movies alphabetically. Thanks.

Also, fair warning: There may well be movies that appear on this list that you'll find hard to believe I haven't seen before. It happens.

Previous letters are here: A B C D E F

Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall

Synopsis via IMDB: The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance.

This one was our first full-priced rental for this movie night endeavour, and with good reason. We *loved* Godzilla: King of the Monsters, having both watched it on our flight home from our honeymoon. We even tried to keep up with the same pace despite being on separate TVs, with pause breaks when one had to stop to do something or experienced any weird buffering issues. My wife is also a fan of Kong: Skull Island, having enjoyed it at the cinema on release.

Godzilla vs. Kong begins with the G-man being pissed off about something, and attacking the mainland. Pulling too hard at that thread in my description could send me into spoiler town, so I'll say that in the course of the movie a team of people go looking for more information about the nature of what they call "Titans" in the cinematic universe (a perfectly serviceable word, which I'm guessing is going in place of "kaiju" for American releases, which makes some sense). What the team of people find explains a bit of the overall picture and has a bearing on what happens on the whole "pissed off lizard-like dude" (or "pizzard") thread. Without saying too much, it all makes as much sense as any movie of this type is going to, so make of that what you will as far as how glowing the endorsement rings.

There were a couple of things I really enjoyed about this film. The visuals are really well done, and the CG is understandably working overtime. It has a really great soundtrack, with a suitable amount of gravitas where it counts, and the performances from the human actors are serviceable as always in a film like this. You empathise with those you are presumably supposed to, and loathe the people who come off as tools.

Particular credit, however, should be given to whoever is in charge of performance for the CG characters (whether that is a motion capture artist or just someone designing the movement and such). So convincing was the performance of an enormous computer-generated lizard-like entity and a big computer-generated monkey/ape chap that my wife spent the entire duration of every fight scene aghast that they were fighting, audibly decrying the fact that they could just set aside their differences and get along and everything would be ok. Whoever made that happen deserves kudos!

Godzilla vs. Kong is a most enjoyable time, but I would say that for the rental price (£15.99) I wish I'd watched it a few more times to get more value out of it.

Director: Rupert Sanders
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano

Synopsis via IMDB: In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

Caveat: I have seen the original anime on which this is based. I feel this is important to say at the top of the summary, just because it's useful to have the context.

This context is particularly useful when I say that I quite enjoyed the remake. I thought it was pretty cool. Not amazing, but not terrible. I'm not going to be trashing it across the board. If that's all good by you, keep reading.

I'm not the biggest superfan of Scarlett Johansson, it has to be said. I think she's good but I find the hype a little much sometimes. I thought, however, that she did a good job with the role in this one, playing a character that has to be a little bit detached by the nature of its...well, ease of detachment. Seriously, they're frivolous with their limbs in this movie. It's almost like it's a world where they take these things for granted.

The cast performs their roles well and the plot is well delivered, doing a good job of refreshing my memory of the anime from years past. One thing I will say about this movie is that it's exceptionally beautifully done. The cyberpunk setting of Ghost in the Shell is brought to life in glorious fashion, with a colourful and gorgeous palette throughout. The sound design is lovely, and the visual effects and such are excellent. The plot does plod a little in a couple of places, but generally not in a way where I had any massive issue staying engaged for the duration.

If you've never seen the anime, I'm torn on where to start. I'd say to watch both, but this does a really good job of telling the story in a lightweight way and it's gorgeous to boot. I realise that might not be to everyone's taste, but that's just how I see it. If you have seen the anime and remain sceptical that this is just a watered-down version, I think there might be some small kernel of truth in that but nonetheless would still highly recommend giving this version a go just to appreciate the realisation of the universe on a visual level.

In short, G gave us a pair of movies that lived up very much to expectations. Godzilla vs. Kong was an enjoyable smash-em-up, and Ghost in the Shell played out very much like an American version of the anime. In both cases, I don't use these pejoratively, just that there were no cataclysmic surprises to be found in these two. They were watched and enjoyed, likely never to be watched again.

Did you enjoy the roundup? Let me know! If you have thoughts on the movies chosen and their respective writeups above, you know where to find me. Maybe you don't, but there are buttons everywhere to make that happen. Comments, Twitter, you name it. Moreover, if you want to make use of this movie night format, bearing in mind you're a few weeks in and might have to double up to get up to speed, feel free to do the same - I'd love to know what you chose too!

Rob Wade

Rob Wade blogs about stuff he likes. Whether it's video games or geek media for Emotionally14 or writing about speculative theories for future films on Talk Star Wars, the focus has always been on the stuff that brings the most pleasure to his life within media.

Rob is the editor of Emotionally14, and showrunner of the E14 podcasts "The Crazy Train", "The E14 Gamecast" and "Talk Star Wars", as well as the host and guest of a number of pieces on E14's Youtube channel over the years.

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