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Review: Godzilla (2014) by Jamie

I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free but it’s hard to tell what people consider spoilers these days so be forewarned. You may be unintentionally spoiled in some way.

In 1954 the Japanese Toho production company brought a King to the Silver Screen. His name was Gojira, soon to be Americanised to the admittedly better Godzilla, and he would begin a cinematic legacy that would last for sixty years and counting. He has been many things during his storied career from destructive force of nature to wacky good guy who saved Japan from a host of other monsters and back to destructive force of nature again. And there was that American film produced in 1998. That one was… well. Yeah. It just wasn’t Godzilla.
So when I heard the news that the Yanks were going to take another shot at bringing the King of the Monsters back to the screen, I was a little concerned. This concern only grew when I heard that Gareth Edwards was set to direct, my concern originating from the fact that he had only directed one feature length film before, Monsters, which left me slightly underwhelmed. And the trailers started appearing and I was ready to get excited.

It’s hard to describe how it feels to be a fan of a film series that, to be fair, has not always been stellar and then finally looking forward to something new from that series. I grew up watching Godzilla films, Son of Godzilla in particular which is easily one of the worst of the bunch but it played a big part in my childhood so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Hell, my pet gecko is called Godzilla because a) I love the king of the monsters and b) reptile owners are not the most original people when it comes to names. To be fair, there aren’t that many famous reptiles to go to for names. It’s pretty much Godzilla, Dino from the Flintstones and Rango. Godzilla is clearly the best out of those three… I’m sorry, I seem to have become distracted. Where was I? Oh yes, feeling excitement for a Godzilla movie. It was truly a wonderful thing, especially after that ’98 piece of shit that for all intents and purposes killed Matthew Broderick’s career just like he killed two people that one time in Ireland. Look it up.

And so the weeks went by and the release date grew closer and closer and I took the time to revisit every Godzilla movie ever made, twenty nine films in total. It was a bit of a long haul but overall an enjoyable experience and so I felt properly prepared and primed for the King’s return to the silver screen. Finally, the day of release came and I was working so I went the following day. Would the film see Godzilla reclaim his crown or would it be another American turd in the Tokyo punch bowl? Christ, that was a lot of preamble.

Simple fact straight up: I loved this film. Loved it. Is it a perfect film? No, not by a long shot. There are definitely a few things that could have been done differently, a few casting decisions that could have been corrected and a few special effects decisions that maybe didn’t sit right with me but overall, I loved this film.

Perhaps we should start with the things that weren’t so great. First up, a lot has been made about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and how he’s just not that great in the film and it’s true that he is probably the weakest link in the film. I’m not going to go all the way and say he’s bad, though he does exhibit a few moments of ropey acting here and there. Fact is that he doesn’t have much of a character to work with. He’s something of blank plate which I believe is deliberate attempt by the film maker to allow the audience to put themselves in his position, projecting their thoughts and feelings on to him. It’s an age old storytelling trick, one that was recently most successfully employed in the Twilight series. The fact that a girl can easily imagine herself in the place of Bella is what makes those things so popular despite being poorly written pieces of trash. Yeah, I just bashed Twilight. Deal with it. Unfortunately for Johnson, a lot of people didn’t want to be taking his place, experiencing what he was experiencing. They wanted to see monster fighting and during the middle of the film, it dragged a touch simply because Taylor-Johnson is not a giant monster.

There is also the problem of Taylor-Johnson’s character very conveniently finding himself able to easily move from location to location where all the monster action is taking place. I suppose it could be easily explained by saying that he’s a member of the military so he’d be able to move with the armed forces to where he and they need to be and also what are they gonna do instead? Leave their main character behind whilst the monsters fight elsewhere? Still, it does occasionally stretch the limit of believability in this giant nuclear lizard movie.

Finally, the biggest problem I had was the M.U.T.Os. I was not a major fan of their design, seeming as they did a little bit too Cloverfieldy and then there’s that name. Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism is what M.U.T.O stands for and it seems like such an unnatural string of words to put together just to get an acronym which sounds a little bit like mutant which is obviously the reason that that name was chosen. Which is a shame because M.U.T.O. just sounds fucking stupid coming out of an adult human beings mouth. Seriously, any time someone said it, particularly David Strathairn, I cringed. Just stupid. Frankly it was the kind of role that could have easily been filled by a second-tier Toho monster like the Praying Mantis-esque Kamacuras.

Now on to the good and frankly this all comes down to this being a Godzilla movie and whether or not it is a worthy continuation of the big guy’s saga. This was a Godzilla movie and frankly, I’m surprised by just how much it followed some of the conventions of the series and not just the original ’54 Godzilla as I was expecting. Villainous monsters showing up first to wreak havoc? Check. Humans trying but failing to solve the problem? Check. Godzilla awakening from his slumber to sort shit out? Check. Even the music was perfect. It was loud, it was bombastic. It was everything I wanted from the score for a Godzilla film though I’m perhaps a little disappointed that Akira Ifukube’s Godzilla March wasn’t used or referenced but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Now on to the main event. The Big G himself, Godzilla. There has been much discussion about the fact that Godzilla has so little screen time in the film. This is true. Personally, I loved this choice. It made all the time that we actually got to spend with Godzilla all the more impressive and impactful. Besides, I never felt as though he was missing from the film. From the first time he shows up in Hawaii, I felt his presence was there. Just scenes where you see his dorsal spikes sticking out of the water, flanked by aircraft carriers, as he hunts his prey help to convey his size and really build up the anticipation for that awesome final fight. Seriously, if there is one thing that this film does great in my opinion, it is building up anticipation.

I love the redesign though I did originally agree with some Japanese fans that he was a touch on the chunky side though once I saw it in action, it fit in with this Godzilla’s more bear-like movement and way of holding himself. And of course there’s the roar. The roar is beautiful and really should be heard in a cinema to truly appreciate it. Yes, just like this IS a Godzilla film, this IS Godzilla. I felt his personality come through in the limited time that he was on-screen and it genuinely felt like a certain Godzilla from a certain period of his film history. There’s even one moment which really caught me off-guard in which is probably the best moment in the film, a moment I shan’t spoil here but when that moment occurs, I was literally grinning from ear to ear. The King had returned.

So yeah, like I said, I love this film. I can understand the frustration that some people have with the film but personally it’s a frustration I do not share. Would I hate this film if it weren’t a Godzilla movie? Hate may be a strong word but I definitely would not have enjoyed it as much. It’s the things that make this a Godzilla movie that largely make it enjoyable to me. So yeah. Four pints out of five… And in my long winded ramblings, I realise that I have largely overlooked the actors so lets just say good cast overall though some are criminally underused. *cough* Bryan Cranston *cough* Laterz.

Snowtown_(film)

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Review: The Host (2006) by Jamie

As I write this, I’m not feeling one hundred percent. Tail end of a nasty cold and feeling tired. To make matters worse, every time I yawn, I feel like being sick so this might be a short/poorly written review. I apologise in advance.

Ah, South Korea. As long as there is “evil” North Korea, it’ll be best known for being the “good” Korea. In recent years it’s also become a major player in the film industry, it’s output gaining recognition around the world. Despite this, I haven’t actually seen that many South Korean films. In fact, until watching today’s film, the only one I think I’d seen is ‘Save The Green Planet’, a film which I really, really enjoyed. Hmm, should probably review that one day.

Still, today’s film is probably a bit better known that ‘Save The Green Planet’, at least according to what I’ve seen on the internet. Today’s film is the South Korean monster movie, ‘The Host’. Now, a quick word before I begin. Unfortunately, I could only get my hands on the dubbed version of this film which is kind of annoying. You see there are a number of problems with dubbed films, chief among them the fact that a sentence in one language isn’t always as long as the equivalent sentence in another language. And so you have the voice over artists either cramming everything they have to say into the short time that an actors mouth is moving or they have to change the translation a little to make it fit better. This kind of thing can be quite detrimental to the viewing experience, particularly the first problem which can really limit the voice actors performance.

So yeah, keep that in mind. I’d much rather watch a subtitled version of the film which is pretty much the case for all foreign films except for the Godzilla series. I grew up with them dubbed and it just adds to the fun of the series… except for the first one. That should be watched with subtitles as it’s a very serious film… Hmmm, I wonder if I could get a copy of the American film dubbed into Japanese. That’d be fun. Anyway, on with the review.

The basic plot is thus: A monster, born of formaldehyde being drained into the Han River creates a mutant amphibian/fish thing. This beast attacks a bunch of people enjoying a summer day near a river-side snack bar and the area is evacuated and sealed off by the Korean government and the American military. Now you’d think that this kind of film would follow the story of people trying to destroy the monster, and in some ways that’s true, but it’s actually a far more contained story of a family trying to find a relative who has been snatched up by the monster and taken back to it’s lair with a subplot involving a mysterious government cover-up and a virus which the monster is believed to be the host for (hence the film’s title).

The family in question, the Park family are made up of Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), a somewhat dim yet determined fellow who it’s hinted may have suffered some brain damage early in life, Hee-bong (Byeon Hee-bong), the family’s patriarch who runs the riverside snack-bar with Gang-du, Nam-ju (Bae Doona), Gang-du’s sister and famous archer and Nam-il (Park Hae-il) a college graduate. They are all searching for Gang-du’s daughter, Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-seong) who has been taken to the monsters lair somewhere in the sewers near the river.

The family, having been quarantined since they were present at the attack on river bank or interacted with people who were, decide that they have to break out in order to go and rescue Hyun-seo and do so. This results in them also being hunted by the American military which adds another layer of danger to the whole affair.

That’s about all I’m willing to write about the plot because doing more would probably give too much away. So let’s get into one of the biggest things to note about this film, it’s tone. It starts of quite light and funny, with elements of slapstick and just out and out bizarre-itude. As the film progesses it gets a little darker and a little more serious whilst still retaining some of that original sense of humour. Thanks to the fact that it layers in the seriousness slowly as the film continues it doesn’t suffer like ‘Hancock’ did from starting off light and then having an insanely serious twist in the middle which left audiences a little annoyed. Instead the tone seems to feel consistent even as it changes.

If I had one complaint about this film it’d probably be that there where times when things suddenly didn’t seem to make sense or characters or plot points just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. However this could just be a result of the dubbing, something I’ve seen happen before where plot points aren’t mentioned in the dub but are in the original language making it seems as though they just spontaneously occurred without explanation to those watching the dubbed version. As for the rest of the film, it all seemed pretty solid. Good plot, good special effects. I’m reticent to comment on the acting, again, because of the dubbed nature of the film, but from what I could gather it seemed pretty good. All in all a film that’s well worth a watch. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: The Host (2006) by Jamie

As I write this, I’m not feeling one hundred percent. Tail end of a nasty cold and feeling tired. To make matters worse, every time I yawn, I feel like being sick so this might be a short/poorly written review. I apologise in advance.

Ah, South Korea. As long as there is “evil” North Korea, it’ll be best known for being the “good” Korea. In recent years it’s also become a major player in the film industry, it’s output gaining recognition around the world. Despite this, I haven’t actually seen that many South Korean films. In fact, until watching today’s film, the only one I think I’d seen is ‘Save The Green Planet’, a film which I really, really enjoyed. Hmm, should probably review that one day.

Still, today’s film is probably a bit better known that ‘Save The Green Planet’, at least according to what I’ve seen on the internet. Today’s film is the South Korean monster movie, ‘The Host’. Now, a quick word before I begin. Unfortunately, I could only get my hands on the dubbed version of this film which is kind of annoying. You see there are a number of problems with dubbed films, chief among them the fact that a sentence in one language isn’t always as long as the equivalent sentence in another language. And so you have the voice over artists either cramming everything they have to say into the short time that an actors mouth is moving or they have to change the translation a little to make it fit better. This kind of thing can be quite detrimental to the viewing experience, particularly the first problem which can really limit the voice actors performance.

So yeah, keep that in mind. I’d much rather watch a subtitled version of the film which is pretty much the case for all foreign films except for the Godzilla series. I grew up with them dubbed and it just adds to the fun of the series… except for the first one. That should be watched with subtitles as it’s a very serious film… Hmmm, I wonder if I could get a copy of the American film dubbed into Japanese. That’d be fun. Anyway, on with the review.

The basic plot is thus: A monster, born of formaldehyde being drained into the Han River creates a mutant amphibian/fish thing. This beast attacks a bunch of people enjoying a summer day near a river-side snack bar and the area is evacuated and sealed off by the Korean government and the American military. Now you’d think that this kind of film would follow the story of people trying to destroy the monster, and in some ways that’s true, but it’s actually a far more contained story of a family trying to find a relative who has been snatched up by the monster and taken back to it’s lair with a subplot involving a mysterious government cover-up and a virus which the monster is believed to be the host for (hence the film’s title).

The family in question, the Park family are made up of Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), a somewhat dim yet determined fellow who it’s hinted may have suffered some brain damage early in life, Hee-bong (Byeon Hee-bong), the family’s patriarch who runs the riverside snack-bar with Gang-du, Nam-ju (Bae Doona), Gang-du’s sister and famous archer and Nam-il (Park Hae-il) a college graduate. They are all searching for Gang-du’s daughter, Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-seong) who has been taken to the monsters lair somewhere in the sewers near the river.

The family, having been quarantined since they were present at the attack on river bank or interacted with people who were, decide that they have to break out in order to go and rescue Hyun-seo and do so. This results in them also being hunted by the American military which adds another layer of danger to the whole affair.

That’s about all I’m willing to write about the plot because doing more would probably give too much away. So let’s get into one of the biggest things to note about this film, it’s tone. It starts of quite light and funny, with elements of slapstick and just out and out bizarre-itude. As the film progesses it gets a little darker and a little more serious whilst still retaining some of that original sense of humour. Thanks to the fact that it layers in the seriousness slowly as the film continues it doesn’t suffer like ‘Hancock’ did from starting off light and then having an insanely serious twist in the middle which left audiences a little annoyed. Instead the tone seems to feel consistent even as it changes.

If I had one complaint about this film it’d probably be that there where times when things suddenly didn’t seem to make sense or characters or plot points just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. However this could just be a result of the dubbing, something I’ve seen happen before where plot points aren’t mentioned in the dub but are in the original language making it seems as though they just spontaneously occurred without explanation to those watching the dubbed version. As for the rest of the film, it all seemed pretty solid. Good plot, good special effects. I’m reticent to comment on the acting, again, because of the dubbed nature of the film, but from what I could gather it seemed pretty good. All in all a film that’s well worth a watch. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood by Jamie

Childhood is generally a magical time filled with wonder and amazement but it is also a horrific nightmare filled with monsters. Many of these evil creatures come from watching film and they leave a lasting impression that lingers with us for the rest of our lives, lurking at all times in the back of our mind. This then is a list of some of those things which still haunt my brain to this very day. Warning: Here Be Spoilers

5. Greys (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The X-Files, countless other things)

Whether you believe that they actually exist or not, and personally I don’t, there is something undeniably creepy about the alien species generally referred to as the Greys. There’s something about their huge black eyes and largely feature-less face that causes some kind of primal fear. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they seem completely emotionless and you can’t tell what they are thinking. There’s also the way that they are often depicted as moving in films.

Take the way that the ‘leader’ from Close Encounters moves. It‘s got a disturbing weirdness to it‘s movement, probably something to do with the limitations of the special effects but still. In other media they aren’t portrayed as anything less than terrifying, generally performing some kind of medical procedure, never saying a word just carrying out their tasks in an almost deliberate, robotic fashion.

Then there’s a film called Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tape. It’s a hand-held, Blair Witch style film that tells the tale of a family practically held hostage within their own home by some Greys that they‘ve managed to piss off. It’s cheesy as fuck but when I was younger it used to terrify me, particularly the last scene which was just creepy as fuck. Oh, and there’s also an interview with a British musician who is an alleged abductee (Actually just an actor portraying the role to try and keep up the premise that the video is real found footage) who uses the phrase ‘Big Headed Wankers’ which used to amuse me and my brothers to no end. It’s actually on YouTube, part one can be found here.

4. The Wheelers (Return To Oz)

The Wheelers are like a monstrous amalgamation of people, bicycles and hyenas. They hunt their prey on the wheels that they have in place of hands and feet, laughing like maniacs as they do so. Of course the question which is immediately raised in your mind is ‘But Jamie, if they don’t have hands, how can they possibly catch that which they are chasing?’ And whilst it’s not actually raised in the film, I have my theory.

Surely, since their hands are fucking wheels, they only have one possible method for catching their quarry and that must be their mouths. Yes, I put it to you that the Wheeler’s capture and then eat their prey. That is fucking horrible. And guess what else they do. They wear helmets which, when their head is turned down towards the ground, has a second, creepier face on it!

I will say this though, they be some stylin’ motherfuckers. They got these long sleeved, clown-esque jackets which they often accessorise with multi-coloured pipes. Above that they wear those things which I can’t remember the name of. Not sure If I ever knew the name of them actually. They often appear in cartoons involving conductors or opera singers and a character will generally grab it and roll it up like a window blind. You know the thing I’m talking about. They also wear colourful bowties. Nice.

3. The Skeksis (The Dark Crystal)

Who doesn’t love The Dark Crystal? It’s a classic in the puppet/fantasy genre and it features the innocent Gelflings, the wise urRu and the… Holy Fucking Shit! What is that hideous vulture dinosaur thing?!?! Oh dear God, keep it away! Keep it away!

Yes, the Skeksis, the evil side of the once benevolent UrSkeks race which, as we all know, was splintered into two separate races, along with the urRu, when the Dark Crystal was fractured. The Skeksis have ruled their world for over a thousand years going so far as to commit genocide against the Gelfling due to a prophecy that a Gelfling would bring an end to their rule. Not only are they evil monsters but they are evil monsters who take superstition and myth seriously. Sure the prophecy turned out to be true but it was probably quite self-fulfilling.

So terrified was I by the Skeksis when I was younger that even to this day, whenever The Dark Crystal is brought up in conversation my mother helpfully informs everyone of just how much they used to frighten me. Seriously though who could blame me? I mean just look at them, they are the very embodiment of a child’s third worst nightmare. Thankyou Jim Henson for improving my life by inventing The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Fraggles and Dinosaurs and for scarring me for life by creating The Dark Crystal and making me want to stab/shit myself in terror whenever I see a vulture. I’ve had some pretty awkward moments being ejected from zoos, I can tell you.

2. The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

The country of Vulgaria seems like quite a nice place to visit despite the awful name it suffers from. With it’s Bavarian architecture and cobbled streets it seems like the kind of place that would make really good chocolate and beer. But after staying there for a while you’d notice a disturbing lack of children and disturbing number of depressed toy-makers played by Benny Hill. You see the problem is that the Baron of Vulgaria is a child-hating, toy-loving lunatic (which I admit makes it sound like he and I would get on quite well) who has hired one of the most terrifying characters ever capture on celluloid to hunt down and capture children.

This horrible, mincing freak with his top hat and elongated nose has haunted the dreams of many a child. There’s just something so… paedophiley about him. He’d stalk the streaks of Vulgaria with his cage disguised as a free treats cart offering sweets and ice-cream to any child who happened to cross his path making us all afraid to trust those perfectly nice strangers who would offer us sweets in the park. Bastard.

To top it all off he could actually smell children! How the fuck do you escape a villain with that kind of power? You can’t hide from him because his powerful nostrils would flare and he’d soon find you. One offer of a free sweet later and BAM! You’re locked up in some dungeon type place, never to see your parents again. There is one question I do have though: When the children grow up, were they freed from their subterranean prison? I can’t imagine that the population of Vulgaria would grow if they didn’t and I’m sure it would affect morale within the country if you citizens had spent the formative years of their lives locked in a fucking dungeon by their leader.

1. The Father (Mac and Me)

This is it. The big one and I’m sure I’ll be mostly alone on it. Mac and Me was a film which tried to capitalise on the success of E.T. by being released six years later and having a shittier but similar story. I’ve kind of reviewed it before and so I shan’t go into all the plot details again. I’ll just say that there are a few things that this film is famous for a number of things. One is the scene involving the main kid in the wheelchair flying over a cliff which used to played on Conan O’Brien when Paul Rudd would come on to promote a film. The second is that the film was really nothing more than a shameless plug for McDonalds, Skittles and Coca-Cola. There is an impromptu dance number in the middle of a McDonalds, Ronald and everything. It’s pretty fucked up.

Anyway the reason that this film sticks in my mind is because of Mac’s father, an unnamed alien who used to scare the shit out of me as a kid. There was something about his gaunt expressionless face that terrified me. It never changed no matter whether he was lying dying in a cave or whether he was wielding a gun in a supermarket. Yes. That actually happened and I’m sure it did nothing to reassure me that the creature wasn’t the most horrific thing a human had ever thought up.

This was literally the best picture I could find of Mac’s dad. When the internet refuses to have a picture of something, you know it’s horrific.

The way he moved scared me as well. His awkward, drunken gait as he stumbled around, his lanky arms occasionally flailing around to randomly smack at something. Oh god, just the thought of him now terrifies me. Seriously, the image of that bastard has been so seared into my mind as the worst thing imaginable that I literally have trouble seeing that film today. Every time he appears on screen a small shiver of fear judders up my mind and hits something deep and primal within my brain.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’ve forgotten more than one thing that also scared me when I was a kid or perhaps I’ve just blocked it from my mind as some kind of safety mechanism to keep myself sane. Until I can regress myself and remember what those things were, we’ll just leave it here. Laterz.



My Favourite 10 Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters: Part 2 by Jamie

Jesus Fucking Christ! What a week! I‘ve spent three days of it drunk, went back to work, foiled a few criminals and then suffered from a massively annoying bout of writers block. I had to start a new blog, People Are Fucking Idiots, just to get my creative juices flowing again. Still I‘ve finally managed to finish this list, the unfinished status of which has been hanging around my next and bugging me like… some kind of bug. Anyway, let‘s get the fuck on with it, won‘t we? Oh yeah, Spoilers Ahead

5: Terminators (The Terminator Series)

An unstoppable machine sent backwards in time with one purpose, to kill! That‘s the basic premise behind the Terminator. In the first film it‘s mission was to hunt down and kill Sarah Connor in order to prevent the birth of John Connor, the future leader of the human resistance. In the second another Terminator of the same model type is sent back to protect the young boy who would grow up to be that legendary leader but that doesn‘t mean we don‘t have another Terminator as the villain. This time it‘s the T-1000, a machine with a liquid metal form that allows it to shape shift into the form of anyone it wishes and also turn it‘s body parts into various stabbing weapons. That is fucking awesome.

Then there are the next two films in the series. Yeah, they‘re not good films but the concept behind the Terminators themselves is still fairly solid although why the technology seems to take a step backwards slightly in the 3rd film from a liquid metal adversary to a more solid form is anyone’s guess. I suppose they didn‘t want to do the same thing twice. As for the fourth film, well, I really did like the design of the Terminator model that comes before the Arnold Schwarzenegger design was pretty good. It‘s just a shame that McG couldn‘t direct his way out of a wet paper bag.

The thing that makes the Terminators great screen villains is there relentlessness. They come from a distant future and are far beyond any technology of our time. They seem like they‘d be impossible to beat, though they are beaten in each film because otherwise it‘d be a pretty depressing way to end the film. Speaking of which, the one good thing about Terminator 3 is it‘s ending. Anyway, another aspect that makes the Terminators great as villains is there coldness, particularly the one in the first film. He may look like a human with his genetically-engineered skin but he‘s cold and calculating like a robot should be.

4: HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

From one killer machine to another. When you think of computers who have gone a bit wrong in the circuits, you think of HAL. Represented as nothing more than a glowing red camera eye (which I have a fridge magnet of. I feel the key to a healthy diet is believing your fridge will kill you if you make a mistake), HAL watches over the crew of the Discovery, controlling the ships higher functions including life support. So if something were to go wrong with HAL‘s electronic brain, things could go pretty shitty pretty quickly.

Of course things do go wrong, HAL wouldn’t be on the list if he wasn’t, when the ships crew, David and Frank feel as though the computer has made a mistake whilst reporting a malfunction in the Discovery’s communication antenna. They decide that in order to ensure the continued success of the mission they have to disconnect HAL’s cognitive circuits, essentially removing the computers sentience. They say this in a soundproof chamber, believing that HAL can‘t hear them. They‘re right but what they don‘t realise that HAL can read lips. In order to save himself and continue carrying out his programmed directives, HAL decides that the only logical course of action is to kill the crew.

HAL proceeds to kill Frank whilst he’s carrying out repairs and switches off the life support for the crew members who are in suspended animation. Dave decides enough is enough and, after overcoming HAL’s resistance to allowing him back inside the ship, he manages to shut down HAL’s brain in a scene that makes you feel genuinely sorry for the calm-toned, glowing red eyed computer. Now, HAL does reappear in the sequel, 2010 but I haven‘t seen that in some time so I‘ll leave it here. Besides, this is the film where HAL is the true, if somewhat sympathetic, villain

3: Predator (The Predator Series)

A race of creatures scours the universe, their lives devoted to one purpose, the Hunt. These are the Predators or, as they have been referred to in expanded media, the Yautja. They search for worthy prey throughout the universe in order to prove their worth as a hunter. They adorn themselves with high-tech armour and weaponry in order to aid them in their quest. The armour allows them to bend light in such a way that allows them to almost disappear completely into their surroundings and their arsenal includes a variety of different weapons such as plasma blasters and some kind of electric spear things. If things go really tits up and for some reason they become mortally wounded during their hunt they have one more trick up their sleeve to try and ensure that there existence remains a secret. They set off a nuclear device which blows the shit out of them and their surroundings. That is pretty damn sweet.

Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the Predators is that they seem to run their hunts with a strict code of honour. They won‘t kill an unarmed enemy, unless that enemy has proven themselves proficient enough in unarmed combat for them to take them on, they won‘t kill pregnant women and they won‘t kill children. These aren‘t your single minded killers or outright evil bastards. It‘s just that they only know one way, the way of The Hunt.

To top it all off they both look and sound cool. They would probably top my list of aliens with dreadlocks, hell they‘d probably top a list of dreadlocked characters that included humans as well. Though Sanka from ‘Cool Runnings‘ might give them a run for their money… No, no he wouldn‘t. Anyway, you also can‘t help but love what the unmasked Predators look like. They‘ve got that weird mouthgina thing with bizarre crab-leg-like protusions. They are ugly sons of bitches. As for the sound, well I love that weird clicking noise they make and the fact that they can record and playback sounds their prey make in order to confuse and entrap them is also awesome. The Predator laughing in the first film whilst the nuke counts down will stick in my mind until the day that I day.

Now, I know earlier that Darth Vader lost a few places because of the dubious way his character was portrayed in the Star Wars prequels and the same could be said for the Predator in the ‘Alien Versus Predator’ films. It’s certainly true that the character of the Predators is somewhat diminished in those films, well the first one at least. I haven’t seen the second one and life is pretty good having not watched it so it’ll probably stay that way. Still in the first one they did basically become sidekicks to the human characters which sucked massive predsticles. However, I feel that these films can be ignored a little easier than the Star Wars prequels. There was no involvement from the characters originators so it’s a little less egregious. Oh, and to you people thinking “But what about Predator 2? That also sucked. Why doesn’t he complain about Predator 2?” Well, yeah, Predator 2 was weaker than the first but I still enjoyed the hell out of. C’mon, it’s got Danny Glover in it!

2: Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn)

Khan was a genetically engineered superman who considered himself and his people to be superior to all other men. In an episode of the original series of Star Trek, Space Seed, Khan had run afoul of Captain James T. Kirk and found himself and his people stranded on a planet where Kirk hoped they would be able to make a life for themselves.

Unfortunately shit doesn‘t always go according to plan and an interplanetary disaster left Khan‘s new home world as nothing more than a desert wasteland. Unfortunately this shift in the planets ecosystem also killed Khan’s wife. Needless to say Khan is pissed. Whilst searching for a lifeless world to test the newly developed Genesis Device, the crew of the USS Reliant accidentally come across Khan and his tribe and the genetically engineered exiles manage to take control of the Reliant.

Now Khan is seeking revenge against Kirk, planning to use the Genesis device to enact it. Khan has become very enamoured with a certain book, Moby Dick, and very much sees Kirk as his white whale and pursues him relentlessly blinded anger as to the danger he is putting himself and his crew in until it‘s too late. His last speech is even taken pretty much from the book itself.

Overall, Khan is just a fantastic villain. He’s relentless, willing to do anything to put an end to Kirk and, most importantly, he believes he is entirely in the right. Also the fact that a man of Ricardo Montalban’s age didn’t require prosthetics to look as muscular as he did is incredible. And lest we forget Kahn’s name is just damn fun to yell.

1: The Xenomorph (The Alien Series)

In space no one can hear you scream. It‘s a tagline that resonates with each and every fan of sci-fi and horror. It originated in 1979 with a little film that shocked audiences to their very core. That film was Ridley Scott‘s ‘Alien’ and it introduced the world to the ultimate killing machine. It was sleek, stealthy and with a shiny black carapace. It had elements of the organic and the mechanical, it could survive the total vacuum of space and it‘s blood was an intensely strong acid. Perhaps most disturbing of all was that in order to propagate it‘s species it would commit acts of inter-species rape, implant it‘s seed inside you and was then born violently by bursting through your chest. It was the Xenomorph

The Xenomorph has been a mainstay of the cinema world since that first film. The nature of the beast has been expanded on and added too with each additional film. The second film introduced the notion that they lived a bit like ants in nests with a queen constantly laying eggs. I love ants and the Xenomorphs are like ants times awesome so naturally I love Xenomorphs. The third film introduced the idea that the Xenomorph would take on some of the genetic traits of the host that they matured inside and the fourth film… Well, the fourth film kinda sucked. Although it did show them swimming. That was pretty nice. As for AvP and it‘s sequel, well, the same rules apply here that applied for the Predator really.

It is true that the Xenomorphs have softened slightly over the years. Their acidic blood, once so potent on the Nostromo certainly seems to have diluted somewhat and one creature certainly seemed more effective than the hordes that would follow but it doesn‘t matter to me. They are almost as perfect a monster as you could find. These aren‘t the kinds of aliens that come with ships and lasers, there‘s no chance that you can turn their own technology against them nor any chance that they can be reasoned with. They are no more than primal beasts and that makes them all the more terrifying. What? Were you expecting the top of the universal food chain to be dominated by an intelligent being? Why? Because we are intelligent? You arrogant fuck. No, it makes far more sense to me that the ultimate being would be no more than instinct, tooth and claw. None of those messy emotions getting in the way of their simple goal. To kill and survive.

There you go then. That’ll do you for now. I have no idea what’ll be coming up next. I’ve got a few more movies in the Depress-A-Thon to look at so that’ll be a barrel of laughs I’m sure. For now though, I’m out of here. Laterz.



My Favourite 10 Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters: Part 1 by Jamie

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve done a good list. The reason I’m doing one now is because I’m tired. I mean really tired. Right now I’m running on about 1-2 hours sleep over a 48 hour period. Also my throat hurts. So to cut a long story short, I’m not in the mood to sit and watch something and review it properly. I’d probably fall asleep to be honest. So I’ve fallen back on a list. The problem is that lists seem like they should be easy but they are actually deceptively hard if you want to write something about each item on your list. You end up writing what basically amounts to ten mini-reviews which sometimes have to encompass entire franchises in a couple of paragraphs. So keep in mind my sleep deprived brain whilst you read this list. It’s possibly going to be a bit rambling and possibly completely incoherent at times. Anyway, spoilers ahead and let’s get the fuck on with it.

Well as the title has probably given away, this list is going to be about my favourite Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters. I think it’s pretty self explanatory so let’s just get on with it, shall we?

Am I coming of as angry? My apologies, it’s this stupid lack of sleep.

10: Lord Humongous (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)

I realise I might already be pushing the definition of Sci-Fi right out of the gate here, but I feel the Mad Max films count as sci-fi. The third is definitely the one which fits most comfortably into this genre but the series as a whole is set in a post-apocalyptic future and I’ve always considered post-apocalyptic to be a sub-genre of sci-fi so on we march.

Lord Humungus is my absolute favourite villain from the entire Mad Max series. He’s a big fucker who wears a hockey mask. I’m sure the fact that Jason is my favourite slasher villain has some impact on my enjoyment of this character. Besides that, Humungus is a fascinating character. He actually seems quite fair for a leader of a post-apocalyptic gang of roving marauders. All he wants is some gasoline and, in this cutthroat world, the only way to get it is to steal it. There’s a chance that he could have quite easily gone in there with his gang and taken it but instead he decides to offer them an honourable compromise. Sure, he kills a few people along the way but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles in post-apocalyptic Australia.

Humungus also seems to genuinely care about his gang members. He’s not your stereotypical ruthless leader who views his followers as cannon fodder and nothing more. There’s also a hint throughout the movie that it’s the loss of someone he loves that has brought him to this point in his life though it’s never adequately explored. Finally his ‘Just walk away’ speech is one of my favourite speeches in all of cinema history and one I still quote to this day, especially if someone is doing poorly on a fruit machine.

9: The Velociraptors (The Jurassic Park Series)

Sci-fi isn’t always about the future. Sometimes it deals with ravenous beasts from the past and Jurassic Park certainly delivers with one of the most terrifying, the Velociraptors. Now, I should say right up front that the Velociraptors aren’t actually Velociraptors at all. In real life, Velociraptors were about the size of chickens. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are actually far more like a larger animal in the same family, Deinonychus. There are a few other issues as well such as the tails being a bit more flexible than they were in real life and a distinct lack of feathers but whatever. The point is that the fictionalised version of Velociraptors in Jurassic Park are truly terrifying.

The Raptors are fast, intelligent and deadly. They stalk their prey in such a way that if you can see one of them, there’s a good chance that there are a couple more hanging around somewhere that you can’t. Then before you know it they’re on top of you, slashing you apart with their sickle-shaped claw. And possibly the best part of the Raptors in Jurassic Park is that, in true Spielberg style, you get an idea of how dangerous they are long before you actually see them. You do, however, hear them and the sound design on the Raptors is truly brilliant. I love that screeching sound mixed in with all the bird noises that they make. It hits you in the balls of your soul. And lest we forget, they managed to kill the baddest motherfucker in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson. After that, only one thing could stop them, the film’s true heroine, T-Rex.

8: Biff and his ancestors and descendants (The Back To The Future Series)

There aren’t many villains who have managed to alter the time stream in order to make life better for themselves. Then again, there aren’t many villains who have had their lives made drastically worse by a heroes own meddling with time. Biff is that villain. In the original time stream he was a somewhat successful man who delighted in tormenting George McFly. By the end of the first film, thanks to the interference of George’s son Marty, he was reduced to taking care of George’s car.

In the second film Biff goes one step further when a future version of himself provides a past version of himself with a sports almanac which gives him access to the results of sporting results for many, many years. This makes Biff an incredibly wealthy man, changing Sunnydale from a nice normal town to a hell on Earth, shaped by Biff himself. The film also features Griff Tannen, Biff’s grandson, who enjoys nothing more than tormenting Marty’s son. The villainous apple never falls far from the villain tree!… Or something.

The third film takes place in the Wild, Wild West and features Biff’s ancestor, Mad Dog Tannen probably the most legitimate villain in the Tannen clan. This time he’s not just a villain but he’s a proper criminal, the leader of his own posse of outlaws. He shot Doc Brown until Marty McFly once more changed history and found himself having to face of against Mad Dog instead. All in all Biff, his alternative versions, his ancestors and his descendants are just a bunch of nasty, nasty douche bags.

7: Darth Vader (The Star Wars Saga)

Ah, there was a time when Vader would have been in the top half of this list, possibly even topping it but that’s no longer justifiable taking into account his entire character arc throughout all six films. Sadly young Anakin was a massive, massive twat. Whether whining about how he was better than people gave him credit for or whining about how he loved Amidala, Anakin certainly enjoyed a good whine. He was one whiny motherfucker.

But for the sake of this list, let’s try and focus on the good times. Before the prequels all Vader was was a force-choking, light-sabre wielding, heavy breathing, father being badass with James Earl Jones’ awesome voice and David Prowse’s awesome stature. He wore black, slept in a pod and had no problem with killing off members of his crew who failed him.

And to top it all off, Vader found redemption with the help of his son. He turned on his Master, absorbed some force lighting, which allowed flashes of his skull to be seen through his helmet, and threw him to his death. Then in after a touching moment with Luke, during which we finally get to see his face and the strange harmonica he enjoyed having ready to play at any moment, he stayed aboard the Death Star ready to become one with the force. Oh and he also shares something in common with the Velociraptors because, in one of the prequels, he managed to kill the baddest motherfucker in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson. Hardcore.

6: The Thing (The Thing)

There are few things more terrifying than not being able to trust the people around you. One thing that is slightly more terrifying is not being able to trust the people around you whilst being completely cut off from civilisation. This is the basic premise of John Carpenter’s remake of ‘The Thing’. A group of scientists working in the Arctic Circle are suddenly attacked by a mysterious alien creature which can change it’s form to imitate any one of them.

The special effects in ‘The Thing’ still hold up to this day. The creature is disgustingly visceral and it’s transformations look incredibly painful. Some CGI effects these days wish they could look this good. The film also features on of the most unbearably tense scenes the world of cinema has ever known. The blood test sequence will literally have you sitting on the edge of your seat and have you biting your nails right down to the elbow. It should also be noted that The Thing is such a monumentally powerful creature that only one of the Earth’s greatest heroes could defeat it, Kurt Russel with a goddamn beard. Not just any beard, a goddamn beard. Fuck yeah.

Right, that’ll do for now. The sun is rising which means it’ll soon be time for me to get home to bed. Sweet, sweet bed. This list has been incredibly hard going but it’s also been fun looking back at some of my favourite bad guys from science fiction. Assuming I wake up sometime within the next 24 hours, the second part of this list should be up some time tomorrow. Laterz.



Halloweek: Godzilla by Jamie

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Good sweet christ. Amongst program crashes and computer crashes this has taken much, much longer than I ever thought. Still, it’s done now. Hurrah!




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