Tag Archives: Ken Watanabe

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell
Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell
Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell
Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
Charles Dance as Colonel Alan Jonah
Thomas Middleditch as Dr. Sam Coleman
Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster
O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Jackson Barnes
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Zhang Ziyi as Dr. Ilene Chen and Dr. Ling Chen
Director: Michael Dougherty

Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. I liked the first Godzilla, even with some of its minor problems it wasn’t enough to take away from the overall experience, and I don’t think it’s appreciated as much as it should be. With the trailers showing off it having more monsters and some stunning visuals, I was looking forward to it. I have heard that some reviews from people have been fairly mixed, however I personally really liked it.

King of the Monsters is the sequel to the first Godzilla in 2014, however both films are completely different from each other. One of the criticisms of that first movie was the focus on the human characters, and that it spent too much time with them. I’m aware that when it comes to monster movies human beings aren’t really the highlight, and unless they are all played by Bryan Cranston, will generally feel like standard characters. However, I still think that humans should have a part in the story. The humans still have a presence in the movie, and while it’s not the strongest part of the movie, I still liked their storyline. On another note, I like how Monarch as an organisation plays a big part in the movie. They’re like SHIELD from Marvel except its involved with large monsters. The tone is not as dark as the first movie, it is more campier, contains more humour and is about what you would expect from a typical blockbuster. Some people hated that Godzilla didn’t have much screentime in the 2014 movie. With King of the Monsters however, Godzilla gets more screentime, and especially the newer monsters. I am not familiar with the Godzilla series but it seemed to have double downed with the classic monsters, so I think people who are long time fans of Godzilla will appreciate all that. Storywise the movie is alright, it falls into many of the typical blockbuster tropes but you’ve come to expect that at this point. It’s also worth staying around to watch the credits, as well as the post credits scene, as they hint in the potential next direction for the series.

As I said earlier, the human characters aren’t anything special, but the cast all do a good job in their roles. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown are the leads, and while they aren’t delivering the best performances of their careers or anything, they do more than commendable jobs here. Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn are the only returning characters from the first Godzilla and all play their parts well. Watanabe has been a highlight in this series and he also has some great moments in this movie. Charles Dance’s character is a bit underdeveloped and doesn’t have a lot to him outside of being a minor human villain, still Dance plays him well.

I’m not familiar with director Michael Dougherty’s work outside of Krampus, but his work on Godzilla was good. This is a visually stunning movie, much more colourful than the 2014 film. The visual effects and CGI are phenomenal, it really is worth seeing on the big screen. Like in the previous movie, the monsters are showcased really well. You see a bunch of them, on top of Godzilla, other monsters like Mothra, Dhidorah and others are shown well, very powerful and threatening. The third act is one of the most enthralling third acts in a blockbuster in recent years that I’ve seen, everything is on an even larger scale. If you thought the destruction in the first movie was big, you aren’t prepared for what King of the Monsters does has in store for you. I’ll just say that I’m not sure how they’ll top this with Godzilla vs Kong, it’s practically impossible. The score by Bear McCreary is also great and was perfect for the movie.

It seems like people will be split on King of the Monsters. If you loved the serious and bleak take on Godzilla with the 2014 movie, you might be missing a lot of what you loved in that. However, if that movie you found didn’t have enough Godzilla and monsters content, King of the Monsters seems like it’s right up your alley. Personally, I feel like both movies exceeded well at the types of movies they were going for. Again, I’m not sure how they’ll be able to pull off Godzilla vs Kong at this point but I’m still there for it.

Godzilla (2014) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody
Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Director: Gareth Edwards

When mankind found an ancient spore, they began to preserved until nearly 15 years, it hatches. Now with malevolent terrestrial organisms threatening the existence of man kind, an ancient creature from the depts of the ocean, will rise again to fulfill natures order to restore its balance, while also making sure mankind never makes the same mistakes again.

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I remember watching Godzilla back in 2014 and really liking it, it was the first Godzilla movie I watched (and to this date is currently the only one I’ve seen). With the sequel, King of the Monsters coming very soon, I just knew that I had to go back and give it another look, and I’m glad to say that it still works really well.

One of the main criticisms was that for a movie named Godzilla, he doesn’t appear a huge amount. I don’t personally have that problem, I feel like some parts of the human aspect could’ve been a little stronger, but you don’t exactly want to be all out with Godzilla very early on, especially considering how he plays such a large part in the climax. They take time building up to him, teasing you with brief shots of him. Maybe they are a little forceful with how much they hid him, just as he appears they cut away and then there are news people talking about it or you suddenly see the aftermath, so I can’t entirely blame people for feeling slightly cheated in how they handle some of his early scenes. On the whole though, the slow build up to Godzilla never really bothered me. The human side of the movie wasn’t bad and was fine, however it felt like it could’ve been stronger. You don’t really have an emotional connection to what’s going on or the characters (except for Bryan Cranston, and even then it’s because he played the role so well). The movie is 2 hours long and that was a fitting length for it, every scene feels necessary and furthers the plot and the pacing is pretty hood. Even some of the more familiar scenes such as the exposition scenes (mainly explaining Godzilla) and military people talking about important things are handled in such a way and given such weight that you don’t really mind it, they actually legitimately work. And it all culminates in a big monster showdown of a climax and is just glorious to watch.

The human characters aren’t that good but the cast play them as good as they can. The actor who steals the show is Bryan Cranston, he adds so much to this movie. He puts so much into his performance and elevates things (including the whole movie) to a whole new level. Unfortunately, he’s not on screen as much as you think he would, despite the trailers featuring him heavily. I don’t like to be all “the movie would’ve been better if…” but honestly the movie would’ve been stronger if Cranston was at least one of the leads throughout the movie. In the end the human lead character is really Aaron Taylor Johnson, who’s unfortunately not that good here. He’s not a bad actor, he can actually be great (as evidence by his performances in films like Nocturnal Animals and Outlaw King) but for whatever reason, he’s not strong as a lead here and largely falls flat, even though he wasn’t necessarily terrible. The rest of the cast consisting of the likes of Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche were pretty good and played their roles as best as they possible could.

The direction by Gareth Edwards was great and was a large part of why this movie works as well as it does. Something that he proved with this and Rogue One is that he’s great at making things feel on such a large scale. The monsters were really good and were designed really well, they really felt like large titans with great power. And of course there’s Godzilla, it takes a while before you get to see him in his full glory, but it’s well worth the wait. The visual effects were also really great, same with the action, the destruction is among the best when it comes to recent blockbusters. There are some moments that are just stunning. One of the standouts was a HALO jump scene and it is great, the music, the look of everything, the POV shots, it just looked like a real jump into hell, and is by far one of the highlight moments of the film. The final action set piece is reason enough to see this movie, with Godzilla and the rest of the monsters going at it. The score by Alexandre Desplat was also quite good and really added a lot to the movie.

Godzilla 2014 doesn’t quite get the love that it deserves, it’s got some minor problems but it’s not enough to take away from how strong this movie is on the whole. Gareth Edwards has really made Godzilla into a large scale and entertaining blockbuster, and was just really handled well overall. I’m definitely on board for whatever the sequel is bringing us.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and scary scenes
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu
Justice Smith as Tim Goodman
Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens
Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford
Ken Watanabe as Detective Hideo Yoshida
Chris Geere as Roger Clifford
Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman
Omar Chaparro as Sebastian
Director: Rob Letterman

Ace detective Harry Goodman (Justice Smith) goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds). Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was a movie I was surprisingly interested in. I’ve heard about Pokémon growing up but never got into it, so I was really out of the loop when it comes to the series. I heard about the movie for a while but the only thing I really remembered hearing about it as it was being made was that Ryan Reynolds would be voicing Pikachu for some reason. However, trailers were released for it and for some reason it actually looked pretty good and I was curious about it, it looked cheesy but fun. And having seen it recently I can confirm that for what it is, Detective Pikachu works really well, and I had fun with it.

The movie starts off a little shaky, as it focusses on the main character Tim, and it doesn’t exactly set him up for the audience to really like him all that much. Not that these scenes should’ve been cut down or anything, just should’ve been handled a little better. Once we meet Pikachu however, that’s when it picks up. Before you think it’s like the Transformers movies where the title characters are regulated to the background and the boring human characters are put in the forefront, it’s not. Sure most of the other Pokémon aren’t really focussed on but both Justice Smith and Pikachu are consistently the main characters throughout, and you do get to see a lot of Pokémon throughout. It’s a kids movie for sure, but I liked it quite a bit for it is. One of its greatest strength is that it is genuinely funny, even as a kids movie the humour really works. Some of the twists are a little easy to see coming, all in all it’s a pretty simple story. The movie goes for an hour and 45 minutes long and honestly I couldn’t imagine it being longer, it was the perfect length for the movie.

Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu is the true star of the movie. Yes, it’s a very weird casting and most of the time it just sounds like PG-13 Deadpool trapped in the body of Pikachu, but he works really well. He may only be a voice in the movie, but he just does so much, this doesn’t feel like a paycheck role for him. The human cast generally was weaker but the actors try the best they can. The main character played by Justice Smith was a bit of a mixed bag, he started off quite weak and then gradually got a little better over time. However, Smith does improve the role a little and is putting everything into his performance. He and Reynolds played off each other really well.

The direction isn’t anything special or great but deserves some credit for managing to make a live action Pokémon movie actually work. All the Pokémon have surprisingly been implemented well in the movie, you really feel like you’re in a different place. The Pokémon generally look good but Pikachu particularly looks fantastic. Occasionally some effects don’t look great, but I wasn’t expecting a lot from the movie, and it looks a lot better than I thought it would. Visually on the whole it looks really good. The little bits of action are a little simple and bland but it’s not what I went into the movie looking for.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was way better than it had any right to be. For people who aren’t familiar with Pokémon, don’t expect it to be great, but it is fun, with Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu really making this movie. I can’t speak for people who are fans of Pokémon but I feel like they might at least enjoy what has been done here. There’s been a sequel already announced, and honestly I’m open to seeing more of these movies, I don’t know much about Pokémon but I can tell there might be a lot of things that can be done with the game lore.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.

Inception (2010)

INCEPTION

Inception

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur
Ellen Page as Ariadne
Marion Cotillard as Mal
Tom Hardy as Eames
Ken Watanabe as Saito
Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer
Tom Berenger as Browning
Michael Caine as Miles
Director: Christopher Nolan

Dominic Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a skilled thief who for a living steals information and secrets from inside someone’s subconscious through their dreams. A businessman, Mr Saito (Ken Watanabe), hires him to do the impossible, plant an idea inside the head of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) who is about to inherent his father’s empire. In return, Cobb will be able to return home to his children. He assembles a team to do this. Cobb has to deal with his own emotions which may jeopardize the job.

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Inception is a film which combines an action blockbuster with a psychological thriller. The best person to take the idea of this movie and made it as best as they possibly could was Christopher Nolan, as shown by this movie. This movie is expertly put together and it an enthralling experience.

INCEPTION

Be careful of what you expect from this movie; some people hate this movie despite high reviews. Just know before watching that Inception demands your full attention; if you aren’t paying attention you may miss details on how the dreams work, Cobb’s past or very significant plot points. The film is quite complex and nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes long so you should really pay attention on your first viewing. The pacing also is slower than you might think; it isn’t just action scene after action scene. It’s also another one of those movies that does require multiple viewings. The only flaw I found in this movie is the lack of character development. Apart from Cobb, you don’t really learn that much of any of the other characters. The last hour or so for me is the best part of the movie. There is also an ambiguous ending that will either fascinate or anger you, there are many interpretations on what is may mean but overall, it was the perfect way to end this movie off.

INCEPTION

The film has a huge cast and Christopher Nolan makes use of every actor. Leonardo Dicaprio is really good in this movie. He plays a complex character with many secrets and you slowly see them as the film progresses and DiCaprio really conveyed them. Also great, is the fact that he and the other actors seem to act that they really know about how the dreams work – adding an authenticity to the film. Other actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy also were really good. Despite most of them not having much character development, they really do work well with what they got.

INCEPTION

The dream sequences were incredibly filmed. Christopher Nolan is exceptional at filming action scenes because in most cases he doesn’t use CGI; he actually manages to make the action happen (Like the truck flip in The Dark Knight). One of the stand-out scenes is one where during a dream, a hallway is turning and the characters are in zero gravity; this scene didn’t used CGI and it looked so real. Hans Zimmer’s score in any movie instantly elevates it to a new level. This is no exception here and his haunting score worked best during the dream sequences and the action scenes.

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Inception is a masterpiece that was successfully crafted by Christopher Nolan. It took 10 years for him to write the story and I can really see that – the plot is so well written. This is a story that is very ambitious. Though I have really hyped it up, if you haven’t seen it, try not going in with high expectations as I heard that some people were expecting some things but didn’t get them. However I do recommend that everyone should go see this movie. It’s a fantastic representation of dreams and one of my favourite movies of all time.