Shosuke Tanihara

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000, Tezuka Masaaki)

To say Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is good for a while might be a stretch, but it’s definitely okay for a while. It’s a Godzilla movie with a lot of CG, whether it’s the giant monster itself swimming or the millions of prehistoric dragonflies out to sting him. Director Masaaki tries hard to integrate various effects styles, all with a certain degree of competence. This perceived competence makes it easier to endure the film’s lesser elements, like charmless lead Tanaka Misato.

Megaguirus takes itself–and its characters–way too seriously. Whether it’s Tanaka with her Ahab complex or Ibu Masatô’s politician with a secret, the film tries to give undesirable depth to its already unlikable cast. As the likable guy–the rogue computer programming with an inevitable crush on Tanka–Tanihara Shôsuke is actually sort of likable. Amid all the angst and seriousness, Tanihara seems like he’s at least enjoying being in a Godzilla movie. Him and one of the people running away from Godzilla later on. She doesn’t get a line, of course, but from her expression, you can tell she’s trying.

Then the bad guy, Megaguirus, shows up. It’s a giant bug. It’s a terrible design, terribly executed in the special effects, whether it’s the giant bug or how the giant bug flies around. Immediately upon its arrival, Masaaki’s built-up goodwill is gone. It just gets worse from then on, with terribly stylized fight scenes, bad mattes, ineptly constructed mattes, terrible music. For over halfway, Megaguirus is dumb but not incompetent, in fact it appears like it might be downright ambitious in creating a 21st century Godzilla.

But it isn’t. It’s a lame wreck of a film. It doesn’t help Tanaka manages to get more annoying in the finale. It probably doesn’t hurt much–after Tanihara’s inexplicable striptease of silly bandages, nothing could bring Megaguirus back from the brink.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Tezuka Masaaki; written by Kashiwabara Hiroshi and Mimura Wataru; director of photography, Kishimoto Masahiro; edited by Okuhara Yoshiyuki; music by Ohshima Michiru; produced by Tomiyama Shogo; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Tanaka Misato (Tsujimori Kiriko), Tanihara Shôsuke (Kudo Hajime), Ibu Masatô (Sugiura Motohiko), Hoshi Yuriko (Yoshizawa Yoshino) and Nagashima Toshiyuki (Miyagawa Takuji).


Sky High (2003, Kitamura Ryuhei)

Sky High has got to be one of the stupider movies I’ve ever seen. There are other factors contributing to it being bad, as stupidity doesn’t necessarily undo a film, but it’s real stupid. Shockingly, the screenwriter worked on Kitamura’s perfectly fine Azumi. Sky High‘s a prequel to a TV series, which is an adaptation of a manga. I imagine the terrible, stupid story starts in the manga, though it’s possible this filmic adaptation is at complete fault. Kitamura, as director, is solely responsible for this garbage… in fact, as I started watching the film and it appeared to be poor (not unspeakably dumb as it turned out), I consoled myself with the knowledge, eventually Kitamura would get around to a really good fight.

Guess what?

There are no really good fight scenes in Sky High. At the end, it seems like there finally might be one, but no… it’s just a mediocre sequence with promise, as opposed to the rest of the film, where mediocre would be a sterling achievement. I suppose Kitamura’s composition is all right throughout, but not really anything special. There are some good muted special effects but they’re overshadowed by the scenes in the afterlife, at the gate to hell, heaven, and Monster Island, where much of the film takes place. This set appears a deserted warehouse and the set decorator only seems to have spent a half hour getting it set up. The big scary door looks like something out of a Roger Corman direct-to-video from the 1990s. It’s embarrassing and painful to watch.

The performances range from mediocre (and borderline acceptable) to terrible. Kikuchi Yumi is terrible. Her performance is the worst thing I can remember seeing. She’s constantly acting poorly, whether through dialogue or expression. Oh, and her sword fight scene (it rips a lot of the choreography from Azumi) is lame. I never thought I’d see a lame Kitamura sword fight. The bad guy is played by Osawa Takao, who’s not a bad actor… except in this film. It’s so stupid I’m sure he had nothing to work with. As the good guys, Shaku Yumiko and Tanihara Shosuke are both fine. They actually have a wonderful scene at the beginning, when I thought this film was going to be an action-packed remake of Seven, not a demonic possession slash big dumb, stupid, bad cop movie, but not really a cop movie. It’s a remake of Ghost. Someone thought taking a bunch of Ghost and putting it in Japan–oh, and when Kitamura tries to reference Versus, it’s desperate and sad–I don’t know who had that terrible idea, but I imagine they also had a hand in writing this terrible film.

I mean, I kept watching it because I figured there had to be a good fight scene….

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Kitamura Ryuhei; screenplay by Kiriyama Isao, based on a manga by Takahasi Tsutomo; director of photography, Furuya Takumi; edited by Kakesu Shuichi; music by Morino Nobuhiko and Yano Daisuko; produced by Endo Hitoshi, Deme Hiroshi and Yokochi Ikuei; released by Toei Company.

Starring Shaku Yumiko (Mina), Tanihara Shosuke (Kohei), Osawa Takao (Kudo), Uotani Kanae (Rei), Taguchi Hiromasa (Kishi), Toda Naho (Aoyama), Kikuchi Yumi (Kamiina) and Shiina Eihi (Izuko).


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