Go, Go Godzilla!

Somehow the Toho/Legendary/Warner Bros Monsterverse has made it three movies. I never thought it would make it this far, but I am glad it did. I have loved the Toho monsters ever since I was a kid, and these movies have brought them to life better than I could have hoped for. The latest movie Godzilla: King of Monsters is both the best and the worst of the franchise. If, like me, seeing these giant beasts on screen is something you have been pining for, King of Monsters gives you the most kaiju action ever, but if that is not your bag, there is not a lot to the rest of the movie. King of Monsters is all kaiju all the time, and some annoying people making bad decisions.

Godzilla: King of Monsters takes place five years after the first Godzilla. The world is still reeling from the destruction of San Francisco and Las Vegas. Monarch, the secret monster finding organization, is wrestling to keep control of its operations and not be absorbed in the military. The military wants to kill all the kaiju, but Monarch wants to study them and learn how to live with them. A few dumb things happen and bada bing bada boom monsters are destroying the place.

Story wise, there is not a lot here, and that hurts the movie. I think the producers heard the complaints that there wasn’t enough Godzilla in the first Godzilla, so they amped it up a bit. Which is good for people who just want monster destruction, but bad for people who want involving story. Though why those people would come to a giant monster movie is beyond me.

There are a lot of actors in this movie, and they are all fine. They are given one note to play, and they all mostly play it well, but they are not the stars. Godzilla and his kaiju crew are, and they are amazing. The CG doesn’t hold up all the time, but for the most part everything looks great, and the fights are epic. While the trailer promises a ton of monsters, the movie focuses on four: Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan. If there was someone else you were expecting, you may be disappointed.

It is hard to fault a movie about monsters for focusing on the monsters. Though, because of this focus everything else suffers, but for kaiju fans there is a lot to like, and I think this movie will find its audience. I don’t think it is as big as Warner Bros was hoping for, but it will be remembered fondly. Still, out of the three movies in the Monsterverse: Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and King of Monsters, King of Monsters is probably the weakest if viewed as a complete movie. If viewed as a way to see giant monster destruction, it is the best.

Microsoft Kicked Off E3 2019 With A …. Well It Kicked Off E3 2019!

Microsoft had the first big press event of E3 2019, and it wasn’t a bad show. I mean it had Keanu Reeves, but there was nothing mind blowing about it. Its job was to remind everyone that even though Xbox Scarlet comes out Holiday 2020, there will be tons of games to play until then. Xbox Game Pass for PC launched, and for $15 a month you get everything (Live Gold, Game Pass PC, and Game Pass Xbox) which is nice. Battle Toads will be a thing again, and of course Gears 5 comes out this fall. Gears 5 will be the only big Xbox headliner this year.

The real big news was Microsoft bought Double Fine Productions, which I mean, holy crap, but they didn’t have anything new to share. Just that Psychonauts 2 will still come to all the promised platforms and to Game Pass. The news behind the news is that with that purchase Microsoft now owns all the founding members of game financing and profit sharing site Fig.co, so Microsoft probably owns Fig.co as well.

I think that means we are once again seeing the death of independent game studios. It happened before in the ’00s when EA bought BioWare/Pandemic in 2007 and Bethesda/ZeniMax bought id Software in 2009, and the same reasons for selling out then are being expressed now. Back then it was too expensive to create AAA games without being part of a mega-publisher, and now it is too expensive to create top tier independent games, let’s call them AA, without being part of something bigger. Games are too big and gamers expect a lot, and unless you have tens of millions of dollars at your disposal it is impossible to get those games made. Due to the finical risk publishers are in turn looking towards their own studios to make those games instead of taking a risk on funding outside talent, so to survive you need to find someone who will buy you and not change your studio, and for now Microsoft is saying that is what they are going to do.

On that somber news, I look forward to playing what was shown at this year’s show, and getting an Xbox Scarlet next fall. The show will not be remembered as anything special, but it did its job. I will not lack for games for the next twelve months.

Good Omens Mostly Lives Up To Its Title

I was beyond excited to learn that Niel Gaiman himself was bringing Good Omens to life on Amazon Prime, and he mostly succeeds. Still, it wasn’t a perfect interpretation. There are pacing issues, and there is a lot of stuff from the book that is in the show, but it isn’t given enough time to breath or land properly. It is worth watching, but it doesn’t quite live up to its source material.

If you have never read Good Omens, then you should. Immediately. Sure, that would make this summery paragraph useless, but it is better for you if you have read Good Omens and then waste a couple seconds reading a pointless paragraph then having not read Good Omens. It is a classic. A lot of people like to say ‘modern classic’, but I don’t want to qualify it. However, you will not be reading it in the next couple of minutes, so here we go. An angel, Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), and a demon, Crowley (David Tennant), have been on earth since the beginning, and they have grown to love the world and its inhabitants, so when it is time for the apocalypses to begin, they will team up to stop it.

Since one of the authors of Good Omens, Neil Gaiman, took it on himself to adapt his co-written book to screen, I feel like he tried to stay too true to the source material. It all feels crammed in without the space or care it needs. The show either needed to be longer to let everything happen more naturally, or Gaiman needed to get out the red pen and narrow the focus a bit. Which is what the BBC radio play did, and it was fantastic. Now, this series was never going to live up to the book. The book combines Terry Pratchett’s amazing humor and wit with Gaiman’s lyrical and fairytale like prose. It was an almost perfect chimera of the two authors’ strengths. The show on the other hand, tells the story, and is quite charming, but it can’t quite reproduce what made the book special.

What makes Good Omens truly worth watching are the leads. Sheen and Tennant are amazing. They have one of the best on screen friendships I have seen in quite some time, and any time they are together, the show starts to sing. However, any time they are not on screen the show gets a bit hoarse, so it is good they have so much screen time, and that is not to say the other actors are not capable, quite the contrary, but these two’s chemistry elevates everything.

Good Omens the TV series is good, but coming from a book that is superlative, and then a BBC radio show that was excellent, good doesn’t quite feel good enough. Especially right now when there is so much excellent TV to watch, so in the end, I still recommend Good Omens. It is worth watching for Tennant and Sheen alone, but honestly, you should read the book, and if you have done that, find a copy of the BBC radio play. Then finally watch this mini-series.

HBO’s Chernobyl Shows The Horror Of Lies!

Chernobyl, HBO’s new miniseries, is one of the best pieces of horror media ever created. It is constantly showing you something awful, and while there is some body horror here and there, the horror on display in Chernobyl is the abuse of the power and the lies used to sustain that power. Abuse that was left unchecked and almost brought about a worldwide disaster.

If you are not up on your history, you may not know what happened at Chernobyl, but most people know the name. This show does a great job of getting most of the details across, and if nothing else, the feeling of what happened in the Ukraine. However, the showrunners do admit to changing a few things to make the show flow better, but because the creators want the full truth out there, they also released a podcast where they walkthrough everything that happened in fuller detail.

You will follow Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) as he fights to get the Soviet Union to do what needs to be done to get this disaster under control. The Soviet Union at the time was unwilling to admit any flaws, and as such they didn’t want to admit the Earth threating disaster was really that bad, which made Valery’s job very difficult. Of course once his job was complete, they want him to cover it all up. What is worse, is that all of this could have been avoided had someone just told the truth.

While melting nuclear rectors and decaying bodies sold the show, it is really the stellar cast that makes it work. Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgård are the able anchors of Chernobyl. They both can do so much acting without even talking. Thoughtful stares, tense looks, and all manor of facial expressions are expertly done. Emily Watson was a great addition to the cast, and even if her character was a composite of many different scientists, they make her an unwavering voice for the truth that this show desperately needs.

I get that not everyone has HBO or Sky, so Chernobyl may be hard to find for a while, but when it does hit other platforms, it is a must watch. If you do have HBO or the Sky Network, you should watch Chernobyl immediately. It reminds us why we need governments that are honest and don’t try to show us how infallible they are, but that truly do what is best for their citizens.

This Patrol Is Anything But Doomed!

I tell you what, my DC Universe subscription is really paying off. Titans had a slow start, but then found its footing. However, Doom Patrol started off good then got even better. When the show was backdoor piloted in to Titans people got a little worried. It looked campy and Titans hadn’t yet found its stride. It turns out all that worry was for not. Doom Patrol might me be my favorite thing on ‘TV’.

Doom Patrol is about an eclectic group of meta-humans and cyborgs that just want to find their kidnaped leader, The Captain (Timothy Dalton). Unlike most ‘superheroes’, whos powers are things most anyone would want, the Doom Patrol’s powers come from disabilities or trauma, and they aren’t so much a team as a group of people who endure each other’s company.

What I loved about Doom Patrol is how well written the characters are. The entire show is a long character drama, but with the weirdest and wildest and most comic-book-y-est things ever committed to screen. Nothing is too strange or off-putting for this show. Butts with legs and sharp teeth that eat people? Check. Rats that have the same backstory as Batman, but then follow a darker path? Absolutely. A slightly overweight Brendan Fraser saying the ‘F’ word a lot? The Doom Patrol has got it covered.

Speaking of Brendan Fraser, this cast is fantastic. Timothy Dalton, Brendan Fraser, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Diane Guerrero, Joivan Wade and April Bowlby make up just the main cast. Plus, there are tons of talented extras that come and go as well. Though you can tell that they tried to save money by keeping the team separated for a few episodes, Dalton is usually out of the picture because he has been kidnapped, and Bomer and Fraser usually are just needed for voice work since their characters’ faces are covered or made of metal. Still, they do not waste the talent they signed on for this show.

Listen, we are living in not just the golden age of television, but also the golden age of comic book media, so there are a lot of things to watch to get that superhero fix. However, you should still give Doom Patrol a chance. I am guessing there will not be a lot of shows like this ever made, and I am hoping they bring it back for season two because season one as fantastic. It is streaming right now on DC Universe in the USA and in some other countries on Netflix, so give it a watch.