***WARNING: SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ***
Ah Stan Lee, Mr Marvel, the Generalissimo, the master of Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, and more! He has brought his name, likeness, and, well, himself, to Los Angeles for another year of Comikaze!
Previously, I have only attended once before, in 2013, on a friday evening, and after spending about 1.5 hours in traffic, my stay lasted just about the same time as my drive time. It was not a good day and because of it, I did not have the same joy or excitement, or even the same experience as I normally would. This year however, I planned accordingly and, not attending friday, left early on Saturday and Sunday to get to the show when the doors open and have time to do what I actually wanted!
Comikaze is held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, right next to the Staples Center and NOKIA theatre; it is a very large center, but slightly smaller than the Anaheim Convention center (which houses WonderCon) at 1.1 million square feet, while the LA Convention Center is over 700,000 square feet. But similar to Anaheim and San Diego, there is a space outside the main entrances of LACC to host food trucks, outdoor hang-out spots, and a place to roam; but it is right on major streets and parking lots across the way run $10 in the morning, shooting up to $35, and fluctuate between $15-25 throughout the rest of the day; you can park in the center as well for $20 flat rate.
LACC is spatious enough for the convention, and Comikaze does a great job at actually giving space for the exhibit floor; I unfortunately did not have the chance to view any panels this year, so I can not and will not comment on those rooms. However, the layout of the exhibits, artists alley, main stage, and the rest is fairly eel organized. One improvement I would like to see is possible keeping Artist Alley to one side, as the main stage in the center-back splits the convention into two sides. The main-stage, as I keep mentioning, is also a little something different than the usual Comic-Con. This is where big name panels, mini-concerts, and other events take place; Stan Lee makes appearances multiple times here, as well as guests such as Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Duff Goldman, John Romita Jr., Game of Thrones cast and crew, and more. Personally, I see it with pros and cons. The pros is that, it is different and unique to Comikaze, it allows for almost a Hall-H impersonation with the big name panels, you do not have to wait in a crazy line, and if you are in line for something else with a good viewpoint, you can catch the event too. The cons are the setting/placement of the stage, being so close to the exhibit hall, sometimes the crowd fills into the booths and exhibits, causing traffic, or if you get there just too late, you can not really see much. Also when a band is playing, the music echoes from wall to wall and is actually more annoying than fun.
Giving a run down of my days, I arrived around 8:00 am Saturday, received my badge and entered the lines just inside the Convention hall, but right off the exhibit floor by roped barricades. I was expecting a smooth flow into the convention with the line, but after a 10 second countdown, all the barricades were pushed down and the mob just rushed in. Not sure if that was the plan but hopefully no one got hurt! I rushed over to Stan Lee’s booth first to get an autograph ticket, ($60 for autographs) then ran to Top Cow to snag a sketch ticket for Marc Silvestri, but of course, yet again, for the fourth Con in a row, I was too late!
Next con Mr Silvestri is attending, his booth will be my first destination, no matter the lineup! It has always been a wish to get a fantastic sketch by him, and one day it WILL happen!! So, after that let down, I merged back over to the other side and hopped in line for J Scott Campbell. I brought along Amazing Spiderman #1 2014 Campbell variant to get signed by him and Stan, and I did! After a 3 hour wait for Campbell (rumors said he would arrive at 10:30, we did not see him until 12:00) then 2 hours for Stan, it was a day of lines! While waiting for Campbell, I noticed Rob Liefeld had set up a “12:30 signing” poster, and a line began to form; I made some friends and hopped back and forth, eventually getting to Campbell first. LUCKILY because I was getting my comics CGC’d today, the CGC witness brought me right over to Liefeld to beat the line! He is a great guy, brings his kids to the show, and I had Deadpool’s Art of War #1 variant as well as Death of Wolverine #1 Variant with Deadpool signed! After this I did a short roam of the floor, grabbed lunch at a hot dog cart outside, then returned for Stan Lee’s signing at 3:00; another 1.5 hours of that line before getting AMS #1 signed and sent to CGC! Lastly for my signings, I headed over to LenWein as well to get the Death of Wolverine #1 variant as well as Death of Wolverine #4 signed and CGC! (#4 is my favorite cover of the four issues, so I wanted to get it nice and cozy in a case!)
Once all my signings were completed, it came around 4:30 and I spent the next few hours roaming the floor, visiting friends, and picking up an awesome Godzilla vs Pacific Rim Jaegers print titled “The King Has Arrived” [picture below in gallery] by Michael Matsumoto. Eventually the day came to an end and I headed out by 7:00pm.
Sunday was a little more relaxing day; I had the pleasure to bring my girlfriend this day and we arrived around 10:15, to a somewhat slower day than Saturday. There was still a good crowd but definitely more space to walk the exhibit floor. I did not pick up anything this show, (other than the print) due to the unexpected CGC pricing! Nothing to complain, just my mistake in pricing and understanding.
Overall, Comikaze is slowly but surely growing into a great show. For the most part, everything runs smooth, efficient, and things are well organized. What seemed to be the ‘unorganized’ aspect would be schedules of guests, some giving no updates or no continuous updates to their arrivals. But, other than that, everything was great!
Click Here to see the photos from Comikaze 2014
“He’s Not a Monster . . . He’s A GOD”
This first part of my review will cover the ‘updated’ review; I first saw Godzilla opening night at 7:00pm Pacific time, and again the next day at 7:00pm again! Within 24 hours seeing Godzilla on opening weekend and not only am I adding some more plots to my review, but upping my score. That will come soon 😉
So to start off, after seeing the film again, I was able to focus and capture more of the score and music. It has to be one of the best scored films I have seen in quite some time. The riveting echoes of the instruments with every roar of the MUTO, every stomp and rise of Godzilla, every death, every suspenseful moment, nothing was missed to ensure the score would enhance each scene. I am no expert in music, scores of films, instruments, and so on, but let me tell you, when you just listen, and take in the sounds instead of just watching the death, the fire burning, the lost hope, or the joy and victory, it truly emulates a new feeling for movie-goers. Just as the Star Wars has had the marvelous John Williams, each scene is echoed through the score. Godzilla did not disappoint.
Another thing I did not touch too much on in my original review was the aspect of Godzilla himself and the MUTOs, in regards to destruction; (read below for my thoughts on the design and development). Stating again, I love the new design of Godzilla, very ‘classic’ like, with deep green eyes, a ferociously-fearsome-cringing roar; and the MUTOs, male more of a moth+bat cross, and female of a spider crossed with Cloverfield. But as far as destruction to the cities and world itself . . . it felt almost like any other Godzilla film, plus a few cities. Not to spoil anything, but the destruction path is from Hawaii, Nevada (Las Vegas), then San Francisco . . . and that is all about that is shown. With the sheer magnitude of 3 MUTOs, the destructive force of the American Military, and the path all three were on, I was hoping and EXPECTING a more Pacific Rim type or hell even War of the Worlds types of destruction. (By the way, those who have seen WotW might recognize some similar scenes *cough burning train cough flaming tanks cough*). Honestly, the destructive path seemed minimal; would it have hurt to add some footage here and there showing each or at least the major cities affected? Sheesh one MUTO came all the way from the Philippines!!
But again, as I brought up in the original, there was major lack-of-Kaiju-love and too much human drama; some moments were essential, some moments were done very well . . . while other moments could have been shortened, or removed completely. I would not have minded an extra 20 minutes of film time to get more Kaiju action, Gojira vs. MUTO.
It is time for my new score, and besides doing a full run-break down-average, I will stick with my usual straight up one line score; this time I give it a 9/10.!
Godzilla has roared back into theatres for 2014 . . . BUT did all the hype really live up to her . . . I mean, his name?
Directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, the movie almost no body has heard about unless you live in the UK, sorry chaps) also starring Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Aaron Taylor Johnson (Kickass), Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai), and David Stratairn (Bourne series) Godzilla has an all around great cast to coincide with the giant lizard-dragon-dinosaur, but there actual roles don’t seem to live up to a Godzilla-szied film. **[For review’s and readers’ sake, I will include the plot/spoilers at the bottom of the article so everyone can still read my thoughts] **
Godzilla in 2014 is very classically designed, with the monstrous legs and body, screeching roar very unique to himself, and of course the special-bonus-attack-move you will have to watch the film to see for yourself! Overall, the new Godzilla design had me skeptical at first, thinking the head is too small, the body is too fat, the roar sounds too much like the THX surround . . . but after finally catching all the viewpoints and sights of this God, I have to say it is my favorite Godzilla and probably the best there has been! (My second favorite being Godzilla 1998, DON’T HATE! I love the giant iguana-dino look and plus how can you hate Matthew Broderick??) Any who . . .and the design of the MUTOs, well . . .I was never really a fan of the other beasts and creatures from the Godzilla series (don’t get m started on space-zilla) but these MUTOs looked very robotic, moth-like, and still freaking cool. The male, smaller, with wings, and the female, much larger without wings, huge spider like legs, and a roar incomparable to Godzilla, but still menacing and turning heads!
Now for the acting . . .I am a HUGE Bryan Cranston fan . . . without spooling anything, all I will say is that they basically used him as little as possible while still being a huge contribution to the plot. But, for the moments he was included, Cranston brought his usual and absolute A+ game, with strong emotions, riveting cries, and the kind of acting you will always recognize as that of Bryan Cranston.
Aaron Taylor Johnson, the famed Kickass star playing . . . Kickass . . . was, well, he had a very Kickass-personality like. He was serious for most of the film, not much change from stern to grief to fear, with few moments of joy. I find it difficult to pinpoint my thoughts on Johnson, as he is a decent actor, but even his public appearance hinders his roles; I saw him during the SDCC 2013 panel for Kickass, and not once did he look up to the crowd, or speak in an amplified volume, very low, calm tone and personality; maybe that implies his acting style, but none the less, not a terrible choice for the film.
Dr. Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, a some-what infamous actor, not to the fans who recognize and followed him through Inception, Batman: Begins, or The Last Samurai, but still not as big as Cranston. I personally loved his casting, having a very poetic, sensei type, depicting right from wrong, but even then, it seems as though the writers did not know how to really involve him with the film . . . or they just did not want him speaking so much. Either way, I am a fan of his and enjoyed the moments which counted with him.
Other than these three, I don’t really see any other actor or actress worth mentioning, as the rest were portraying either minor to minimalist roles.
Overall, between Godzilla, the MUTOs, and human characters, there was definitely NOT enough Godzilla!! What gives!? The TITLE of the film is G-O-D-Z-I-L-L-A! Major fight sequences did not take place until the last third of the film, and even then, the first moments were blinks of roars or bites seen through smoke or the goggles of the para-troopers. There was definitely a low focus on not only Godzilla fighting, but also Godzilla’s appearance until the second half, as well as the overall story and origin of Godzilla himself . . . the story mostly focuses on either the MUTO creations or uprisings, and Ford Brody’s (Johnson) life and family. Considering all the hype and trailers showing the king of Kaijus, I would have liked even more Godzilla! Hell 1998 Godzilla popped him out of the ocean in the first half hour! But, don’t get me wrong, the few scenes with Godzilla DID make my jaw drop, gasp for excitement, and cry for joy to see Gojira roar and bite and stomp and swim away!
Lastly for my review, the plot . . . again, as mentioned before, overall it mostly focuses on Brody’s (Johnson) character;s life and family, as well as MUTO, and not so much Godzilla. Viewers and fans essentially get the idea, and, straight from Serizawa (Watanabe) that Godzilla is a defender of the human race, an alpha predator come to bring balance to nature’s forces. Not a destructive creature sent or created by nuclear tests to destroy New York or Tokyo . . . but instead San Francisco (why? I have no clue). But the ‘origins’ are minimally stated and not so much discussed even with sightings throughout history of the monster. What I am mostly concerned of is the future of this new Godzilla reboot. After seeing this film, any movie goer, whether liking it or not, will or at least should think ‘they will make a sequel’. But per Gareth Edwards’ kind words, he says the film was made “as a beginning and end; if the film is good, others can come; but let’s just pay attention to this and not get sidetracked by other things”. To me, it seems Edwards is very uninterested in a sequel and figured he can cash in on a single film . . . yet the ending will leave you wanting and KNOWING that more Kaiju (or King Kong) will rise and Godzilla will return to fight another day!
Before seeing this film, I also highly recommend purchasing the new graphic novel ‘Godzilla: Awakening’. A fantastic read (which sold out almost everywhere on day 1) and shows a start or awakening of Godzilla. For Pacific Rim fans, if you read ‘Tales from Year Zero’, it is similar as a prequel to the film!
My overall score? this will be the first time I divide scores and put an average, as well as a direct rating, versus my usual review method of balancing out a final score. So here is my breakdown:
Godzilla/MUTO design: 10/10
Potential story for a sequel: 9/10
Godzilla-ness [was there enough Godzilla?]: 6/10
Reflection of Classic ‘Zilla: 10/10
Total Average: 81/100, essentially 8/10
My usual grading: 8/10
So they work out to be just the same, but I still highly recommend this film, go out this weekend, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and let the roar of Godzilla sway you into an eye popping experience.
***WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD***
So, the film starts off similar to the Godzilla (1998) film with black and white images and clips of nuclear testing, Gojira sightings, military personnel, classified info, the whole hush-hush stuff. After the intro, it slowly transitions from scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) finding a very interesting find of giant fossils, to Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) who is the plant manager of the Nuclear Power Plant in Janjira, Japan in 1999. ‘Seismic Activity’ as what it is known as, eventually causes a major disruption and sort of the ‘news lead’ of the modern day into the monsters of the film. The seismic activity causes blackouts and the fall of the plant, also killing Brody’s wife. 15 years later, to today 2014, Joe Brody’s son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is in the military as an explosives ordinance disposal unit, and has a wife and son; his father still in Japan investigating on his own the causes of the incident at Janjira and others around the world. He persuades his son to go back to their home near the plant to collect old data he had before the plant collapsed. Military personnel ‘arrest’ Joe and Ford and interrogate Joe; but he knows there is something out there as Serizawa watches through the one-way mirror, knowing this man is the key to it all. The place they are taken is a ‘testing’ area built atop the old nuclear plant, where a cocoon is found housing some sort of organism, which releases seismic activities and EMP waves knocking out electrical equipment. The now MUTO arises and stomps away, obliterating the area with the sheer size and power, critically injuring Joe Brody and eventually, after escaping, bringing in the US military to take control of the situation. Unfortunately, Joe Brody (Cranston) dies shortly thereafter, leaving fans thinking what was the point of casting him if his role was so grand yet had nothing after the first 20 minutes. To cut out some non-important pilot points, essentially the MUTO which escaped is the female with eggs, later arising a male MUTO outside Las Vegas, and again later arising GODZILLA from the ocean depths to hunt the MUTOs. Basically, the MUTO’s are nuclear-based organisms who feed off anything radioactive. Godzilla, not he other hand, is an ancient ‘dinosaur’ or creature which has stood against the test of time, and nuclear attacks, to become the alpha predator. Eventually, the three end up in San Francisco, have their big battle, writers making us think Godzilla almost dying twice, both the MUTOs dying, and of course, Godzilla unleashing his super-sonic-plasma-blue flame-roar of death and destruction!! The best part being the death of the female, when Godzilla rips open her mouth, and implodes the nuclear roar into the body, ripping off the head. Of course, before the epic major fight, there are plot points here and there which, sort of add to the overall story, but there is minimal focus on the Kaijus throughout the film, and even less of Godzilla himself until the end. Godzilla also almost dies twice, then come to find out he is only unconscious, and at the end swims away back into the ocean . . . sequel?
Wel well, it has been quite some time since I have written any film reviews, and, honestly, I think the hiatus was quite well deserved, because the only film I have felt the need or drive to write a review for has just been seen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sure I have seen Thor: The Dark World, Man of Steel (which came a few months late for me), and a few others, with college, work, family, friends, it has been hard enough for me to even see as many films as I would like or am used to. ANYWAYS, on to The Winter Soldier! First off . . . 10/10 TEN OUT OF TEN Not just a “5 star film” a knockout, 10 out of 10 is my score for this film! A MUST see for any fan! Or even anyone who likes to go see a [kick-ass] [action-packed] [jaw-dropping] [heart-racing] [suspense-filled] [government-corruption-revelations] film! Now, just as i was sharing my comments on Facebook, someone shared with me their opinion that ‘It’s not as good as The Avengers‘; well, in my opinion to counter that, first, Avengers is in a whole different class of films; one that probably will not be touched until Age of Ultron; and second, for stand alone superhero/MARVEL flicks, I think this one tops the charts! Right there with Iron Man, and Dark Knight Rises (again, my opinion) with the level of ‘super-hero-aspect’ and emotional drive of the film . . .well more towards Iron Man 3 for the emotions but you get the idea. So, what makes The Winter Soldier such a beloved film? Well first, it’s Captain America and MARVEL . . . MARVEL has been continuously stepping up their game, film after film whether stand alone or team-films, each has it’s own story connecting to not just the previous in that line, but to each character and sub plot. But still, you might ask what is it about The Winter Soldier? It compels the audience to grip and contemplate the sequence, the moment, the action of the attack (or defense). It shows a greater ’emotional’ story than did Iron Man 3, as well as The Dark Knight Rises. Rogers, still adjusting to the affects of his new era, his new life, is stricken with the constant reminder of his old pal Bucky, his trust with S.H.I.E.L.D. and what he is doing as “Captain America”. This film is able to capture the true essence of not only a hero, but one who is a soldier, other soldiers in the line of duty (i.e. Falcon, Fury, Black Widow) and the villains who, well, I won’t spoil anything, so you will have to see for yourself! I will say that the villain, obviously The Winter Soldier, has a strong impact in the film’s emotional aspect as well. As for the action, fighting, kick-assery, it was quite pleasant to the Comic-Book fan! The movements and choreographs of each fight sequence were fast, sharp, edgy, martial-arts style, and just kicked-ass left and right! I was NOT able to capture any random bodies flying off screen from a ‘punch’ or any stray bullets apparently hitting anyone, so either they were very, very minimal and/or minute, or there were none at all! Great sign! Each character is given a unique fighting style, a unique set of attacks, and a portrayal of their weaknesses or points of lag, so to speak. The attacks and defenses by Cap and his shield were thrilling and Vibranium-hitting fun! Black Widow, as usual, has her smooth, crisp, and flexible attacks, pinpointing each hit and kick; Falcon enters the arena with some air-attacks and agile moves, and Fury is just Fury! The acting is flawless, usually these films will be dulled by one or two minor rolls, or even one big roll causing a halt in the drama and sequence, but The Winter Soldier had a well rounded, fundamental cast. With returning stars such as Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, and Samuel L Jackson, as well as some newbies like Anthony Mackle, Emily VanCamp, and Robert Redford, all bring an ensemble of every aspect of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its enemies. While some superhero films stray from comics or other story lines, The Winter Soldier stays true following the first film, The Avengers, onto Age of Ultron, as well as the regular comic-book line. Unfortunately, I have not read much of the MARVEL comics in line with the films, but a good friend of mine whom I saw the film with, updated me of each major plot-point and whether it aligned more or less with the comics; overall, the majority of the story was in line and comic-book fans should not have to worry! Just remember, IT IS A MOVIE! The studios always like to have their way with things so don’t go just to criticize what should and should not be in the film, go to enjoy the hero and the film and the comic frame! The story has points of suspense, whether it be death, destruction, plot-twists, or whatever else you can think of; it also has enough humor in it to get a chuckle and even a good laugh! (Unlike Iron Man 3 which tried way to hard to be more of a comedy) Quite honestly, the only thing I wish they would have included more of or emphasized more would be Cap’s sort of ‘love interest’ or relationships; Romanoff mentions how Cap should ask out this nurse or that girl in accounting, and as the film goes on you see a small scene of Cap making a subtle move on a neighbor who is a nurse; I won’t spoil anything as it turns out to play a big part, but just some more side interests or side roles would be nice! It would add more to the emotional drive or aspect as well, and show the differences in Steve Rogers’ attributes. But like I said, a minute plot point that would have been nice, but did not ruin the film because it was not included. that should just about do it for my review! Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the next stepping stone until Avengers: Age of Ultron, and they even let you know at the end of the film! Oh by the way, there are TWO scenes after the film, one before and one after the credits! Don;t even think about leaving until you see both! AND Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance, do not fear, no spoilers here of either the scenes or cameo! A 10/10, plain awesome, kick-ass film, loved every moment of it and Age of Ultron is SURE to please after this! Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SlILk2WMTI
For those who went to or are familiar with the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Predator 3D exclusive, I have finally received both the 1:2 scale bust with removable mask, the Predator 3D blu-ray combo pack, and the custom 3D sculpted Predator figure!!
check out the videos for both highlights!!