Friday, January 06, 2017

VIOLENT COP (1989) Dishes Out the Justice

Recently named one of the Best DVD/Blu-Ray releases of 2016, the Blu-Ray of Takeshi Kitano's VIOLENT COP (1989) is now available for fans of Japanese cinema and gritty action flicks. Robert Segedy takes a look at this tale of a no nonsense detective taking the law into his own hands. WARNING: Review contains spoilers, so if you have not seen the film, take heed!

After reading many reviews comparing Takeshi Kitano's VIOLENT COP (1989) to Clint Eastwood and his Dirty Harry character, I soon grew tired of that analogy. VIOLENT COP is and isn't like Eastwood's famous character. Kitano puts his own trademark, but nevertheless odd, spin on a familiar theme: good/bad cop is angry and filled with scorn for today's criminals and fellow lawmen, so he decides to act accordingly and disobey the upper echelon of command, sets about delivering his own brand of justice and ultimately ends up being fired from the police force and goes it alone. And that's putting a very simple spin on a relatively complex character; Kitano's detective is an army of one, answering to no one, delivering justice with one slap, one kick, and one bullet at a time. At the same time, his character is multi-faceted; he's loyal to a fellow detective discovered selling drugs; he's protective of his sister, just released from the hospital; but, he's also tight with his money, engages in illegal betting, and constantly borrows money from his colleagues. He may resemble Dirty Harry in his policing techniques, but it's impossible to know what's happening inside his head.

VIOLENT COP was Kitano's directorial debate and the film (as written by Hisashi Nozawa) was initially planned as a comedy. When director Kinji Fukusaku had problems with Kitano's film schedule he dropped out, so Kitano rewrote the script and starred in and directed it. Kitano was well known to Japanese audiences, but his persona wasn't of a dramatic nature, he was seen as a fast-talking motor-mouth comedian. Japanese audiences were used to seeing Kitano as the host of various talk shows and part of a two-man comedy team named The Two Beats. He was also cast as a sadistic POW commander in Nagisa Oshima's MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE (1983) opposite David Bowie and Tom Conte.

Azuma (Kitano) is a no nonsense drug enforcement detective. In the introduction to his character, we witness a group of Japanese youths take advantage of a homeless man as they beat the poor man senseless. The youths leave the scene of the crime and the camera follows one boy as he rides a bicycle home; Detective Azuma knocks on the door and flashes a badge to the boy's mother.  Promising the mother that he just wants to talk to her son, he barges into the boy's bedroom and violently bitch slaps the shit out of the offender, making him promise that he and his friends will come to the squad room and surrender themselves. We are immediately made aware of Azuma's style: silent, quick to anger, fast with his feet and fists. The Japanese title of this film is "Suno otoke, kyobo nit suki", which translates in English to "That man, being violent." Kitano is indeed a violent cop.
As a character study, VIOLENT COP is a fascinating examination of an individual who is not afraid to take a stand against the bad guys of the world. Not letting the authority of the new commander bother him, Azuma is coerced into writing a letter of apology to a man that attacked several police officers, including hitting one man in the head with a baseball bat. Azuma hits him with a car after a lengthy chase scene. A streak of black comedy runs throughout the film; when a bartender asks him and his partner what line of work are they in, Azuma replies "Mail order guns".

Azuma's facial expressions barely register; there is a stillness that is present before he explodes into an act of violence, his face a frozen mask, his eyes black and lifeless. Kitano as a director favors long takes with a still camera, his character usually looking directly into the lens. Instead of a pulsing rock soundtrack, Kitano prefers to use a light, almost classical score that acts as a counterpoint to the action on the screen. The piano theme heard several times during the movie is Erik Satie's "Gnossienne No.1".

Fans of violence will find much to enjoy here as Azuma meets his match in an ultra-violent criminal counterpart, Kiyohiro (Ryu Haku), a killer that is partial to sadistic acts and relishes seeing his opponent cower in fear.  Azuma and Kiyohiro face off in a nasty scene that involves Azuma being stabbed repeatedly from behind, but for reasons unknown, he lets his adversary walk away from him, perhaps to leave him to fight another day. This reminded me of the relationship between Batman and The Joker; the men are twisted reflections of the other, identical except in which side of the law their allegiance lies. That may be a rather simple analogy, but this film is not that simple to decipher; each viewing brings another layer of understanding to these complex characters.

[WARNING: Spoilers Follow!] 

After Azuma is fired from the police department, he finds himself free to completely embrace his bad side and he dedicates himself to ridding the world of the assassin Kiyohiro, his boss Nito (Ittoku Kishibe) and anyone else that is affiliated with the underworld. In a finale that mirrors the bloodbath ending of films like TAXI DRIVER (1976) and CHINATOWN (1974), Azuma coldly tracks down Kiyohiro and his motley gang to a warehouse where they have been busy amusing themselves by raping his sister (Maiko Kawakami) and consequently addicting her to heroin. Even before Azuma arrives Kiyohiro has offed three of his crew. Azuma fearlessly enters the warehouse and after a long take, steadily walks toward the assassin, who empties two revolvers at Azuma; but at this point nothing can stop the avenging ex-policeman, and even though badly wounded, he finishes the killer off with a shot to the forehead. His drug addicted sister, pleading for another fix, gets a bullet for her trouble while Azuma is killed by one of Nito's henchmen, who shakes his head in disgust at this waste of life.

In the final scene, we see Azuma's former partner Kikuchi (Maiko Kawakami), once a bumbling rookie, now a slick looking agent, taking the place of drug dealing detective Iwaki (Shigeru Hiraizumi). VIOLENT COP comes full circle as Kikuchi has become a composite of both Azuma and Iwaki. This was Kitano's directorial debut and the film still packs a punch 26 years later. Kitano would go on to direct several other films including SONATINE (1993) and OUTRAGE (2010).

VIOLENT COP arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray from Film Movement framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded transfer. The Blu-ray is produced by Film Movement Classics and features the film, a documentary (That Man is Dangerous: The Birth of Takeshi Kitano Featurette), a Japanese preview of the film and a new HD re-release trailer, as well as six other Film Movement trailers. The package contains a booklet featuring an essay by Tom Vick as well as cast and crew credits. – Robert Segedy

Robert Segedy is a published author who resides in North Carolina; his interests include intense films, esoteric writings, and true crime. He previously wrote about the film SESSION 9.

VIOLENT COP is available from Diabolik DVD and Amazon.



Thursday, January 05, 2017

Yowie! It's THROWBACK (2014) Thursday!

This 2014 Australian horror-comedy was a frustrating affair. While at times it's a suspenseful monster movie, at other times it is so inept and dumbed down that it made me want to pull out what precious remaining hairs I have on my head! THROWBACK tries way too hard to be a fast-moving comedic horror film, but all it really does is annoy the viewer with its repetition, lack of scope, and (at times) its jarring edits. Those edits are made to try and create (unsuccessfully) a witty, non-linear story structure. When the film ultimately succeeds is during the last forty-five minutes or so, after it becomes a concentrated hunt and stalk picture. Until, that is, a weak, uninspired ending eliminates any hope at redemption.

Weekend warriors Jack (Shane Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring) set out to find the treasure of Thunderclap Newman, a notorious bandit in the 1800's who had suddenly "fallen off the Earth" as one character puts it. The two men search the area and stumble upon the treasure, instantly driving Kent into gold fever as he attempts to kill Jack by drowning him in a creek. Jack, who appears to be an expert at holding his breath, escapes when Kent is distracted by some large and hairy thing stalking him. Jack runs through the dense woods until he finds a female park ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) and drops the treasures into the water for safe keeping. And thus starts a repetitious cycle with Kent stalking, capturing and attempting to make Jack reveal where he hid the money, and Jack and Rhiannon's numerous narrow escapes from both Kent and the Yowie (an Australian Bigfoot-type creature).

The review copy I received had an issue around the forty-minute mark where the film played the last four minutes over again and abruptly entered a different scene already in progress. The great Vernon Wells (THE ROAD WARRIOR, COMMANDO) is in the movie for less than ten minutes, playing a detective named McNab, who is investigating the area because nine people had vanished. And he figures a serial killer was at work... in this vast, vast wilderness? McNab finds Kent wandering through the woods with a bloody pocket knife (he used it to fend off the Yowie) and, thinking him the killer, handcuffs the the deranged Kent to a fallen tree.

Being a fan and longtime viewer of Spaghetti Westerns, I see some similarities in the uses of gold as a motivator and the effects of gold fever, as well as the crosses and double crosses that abounded throughout the movie. The actors are all competent, but they are never given enough to work with. Characters repeatedly running into each other in the vast wilderness is incomprehensible and the continual stumbling onto things at convenient times also grows a bit tiresome. The characters of Jack and Melanie work well together, but there is no connection; they aren't put through enough together onscreen, nor do they bond well enough to make us care about them together or individually, and neither is in the least bit sexual in nature. The horror is rather lame and the bloodshed is minimal, leaving the action to revolve around the actors, who do the best they can with the inept script and story line. Most of the cast and director Travis Bain – aside from Vernon Wells – only have a few credits to their names.

THROWBACK misses its mark, but not by much. Had the script been a bit stronger and the plausibility less disconcerting, then the film could have been a decent little monster movie. The Yowie would have been an interesting mythological character to explore, but as depicted, the creature has very little menace to it and was never ferocious enough to make the horror impactful.

THROWBACK reminded me of some of those inept "killer in the woods" movies, like THE FOREST (1982), DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981) and NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980) thanks to its setting and the stalking killer aspect (be it human or, in NIGHT's case, bestial). This film is another of those homage films; it even has Jack and Kent toast from a bottle of spirits called "Boggy Creek Vineyards".

In closing, THROWBACK never decides what it wants to be and for that indecision the film suffers considerably; it has too many "easy outs" of situations to create a successful motion picture. The film was beautifully shot and the actors really try their hardest to make this endeavor congeal, but it's not enough to overcome the aforementioned defects. For me, THROWBACK could never find that balance between horror and comedy that some films find, which makes for an unbalanced, directionless, lost in the woods affair! – Mike Hauss

Michael Hauss lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his daughter and their cat Rotten Ralph. He has had reviews and articles published in Monster, Weng’s Chop, We Belong Dead, Divine Exploitation and Multitude Movies and is a regular contributor to the blogs Theater of Guts and Spaghetti Western Database. His work can also be found in the books 70s Monster Memories and Unsung Horrors.

THROWBACK is available from Amazon.




Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Going OVER THE TOP (1987) on VHS Wednesday

A couple summers ago my father-in-law and I were killing time between sitting on the beach and having cocktails when he flipped to OVER THE TOP (1987) on one of the cable channels. A sucker for a sports movie he settled in even though he had never seen it and it was about halfway through. In an attempt to bring him up to speed I started explaining the movie's plot as well as the backstory behind Cannon paying Sly big bucks, conning some poor slobs to market OVER THE TOP toys, etc. I'm still not sure if he believes anything I told him that day. Naturally, when Evan Romero dropped a hint that he'd be willing to review the flick for an upcoming VHS Wednesday, well, I couldn't resist. As long as I didn't have to watch it, too.

I don't know how in the hell I rope myself into reviewing stuff like OVER THE TOP for VHS Wednesdays. I guess I'm just real good at shooting myself in the foot. Of course our Fearless Editor saw me about to blow my big toe off, yet he did nothing to stop me. He knew my trepidation; knew how much I feared sticking this thing into my poor VCR. But there he sat, waiting to smile at my misfortune with some popcorn and a craft beer in hand.

Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) is a truck driver who walked out on his family ten years ago. His wife, Christina (Susan Blakley), is gearing up to croak and wants Lincoln to bond with his estranged son, Michael (David Mendenhall). When Christina kicks the bucket, Michael's grandfather (Robert Loggia) steps in to keep them apart – permanently! But this being an upbeat 80's movie, we all know it'll end happily with some paltry and inspirational philosophy dropped along the way. Oh, and there's some arm wrestling thrown in because they wanted to make a stupid version of ROCKY.

OVER THE TOP is so damn tacky you could hang a poster with it. At the same time, you have to give it to Cannon Films for having the audacity to take a truck driving film, a father/son bonding film and an arm wrestling film and roll it into one clump of idiotic rubbish, then serve it up on a platter of sheer stupidity. On the one hand, you wanna laugh at the harebrained proceedings as the film moves along with zero fucks given; on the other, you wanna castigate yourself for watching it and never show your face in public again. Sure, it's fun to poke fun at, but just know you'll be doing it more for reasons of desperately trying to preserve what little dignity you have left (but if you're watching OVER THE TOP, it probably means you had none to begin with).

Performance-wise, no one gives a crap. Stallone looks as though he's embarrassed for himself and those watching; he moves about the sets and says his lines because it's required of him. Robert Loggia, usually dependable, looks like he'd rather be getting a root canal and a colonoscopy at the same time. The arm wrestlers are antagonizing in that 80's wrestling style and come off like cartoons – and not in a good way. Watch out for one who looks like Discount Apollo Creed.

I regret going one-on-one with OVER THE TOP. It's hot, buttery caca made for the sole purpose of showing that men with muscles can also have emotions (it fails). If it really wanted to be a good flick, it should have been about Lincoln losing the arm wrestling match and Michael, then turning into a psychotic truck driver and chasing down Dennis Weaver. Now THAT would have been a film worth watching. And one less embarrassing. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about Troma's TERROR FIRMER.

OVER THE TOP is available from Amazon, you sick bastard.




Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Kicking off 2017 with a TERROR FIRMER (1999) Installment of Troma Tuesday

Happy 2017 to everyone out there in ER Land! Hope Santa – or Krampus – brought you whatever slabs of decadent sinema you were wishing for this holiday season. My apologies for the lack of posts in December. I barely had an opportunity to squeeze in some repeat Holiday Horrors right around Christmas thanks to what seemed like constant running around and working on the new issue. More on that in the next week or so but we're finally back on the review horse thanks to our tireless contributors, especially Evan Romero who steps up to the plate and takes one for the team with another Troma Tuesday entry, though it sounds like he kinda likes this one. Cheers! 

When a Troma movie goes in my Blu-ray player, you know one of three things is true: 1) Our Fearless Editor wishes to torture me; 2) I'm desperate for entertainment; or, 3) I've heard good things about it. In regards to TERROR FIRMER, the third choice is the right choice.

A psychotic female is killing people left and right. This doesn't concern blind filmmaker Larry Benjamin (Lloyd Kaufman) who is only concerned with getting his latest picture finished. But the killer soon MAKES it his concern when she starts bumping off members of the cast and crew in grizzly ways. Will Benjamin and his rag tag group be able to stop this bloodthirsty killer? And what does this killer have against independent cinema? The truth is more horrifying than they can imagine...

Yup folks, Troma enters slasher territory here with a flick that isn't painful to watch. While I wouldn't put it amongst my top Troma choices, it definitely doesn't belong amongst the lowest. TERROR FIRMER has everything you want from a Troma flick: gratuitous nudity, poor taste, political and social commentary, "humor" and buckets of blood.

Women let their boobs, beavers and booties hang free; many are excellent deposits for the Spank Bank. The gore is over-the-top and in poor taste, but not quite as abundant as I'd hoped. Still, you get to see a fetus ripped from a pregnant woman's womb, a guy's dick stretched to absurd lengths, a mutilated Ron Jeremy feast upon a dick, a man eaten by an escalator, and much more!

But while the nudity, gore and poor taste are welcome, the political and social commentary runs itself into the ground - obviously the result of the three screenwriters trying too damn hard. Yes, we get it: you have leftist/counter-culture sympathies. There's no need to remind us in damn near every scene.

The humor mostly fails to strike the funny bone. Jokes are of Troma's typical toilet/low-brow variety, and while some are genuinely funny, many of them go on longer than they need to, resulting in jokes that aggravate instead of titillate and have you pressing the fast forward button.

But despite its faults, TERROR FIRMER is a solid addition to Troma's library. Many of the key elements are there to please Troma fans and to piss off the uptight P.C. elite. Plus, where else are you gonna see Lemmy doing a public service announcement for hermaphrodites? – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com.

TERROR FIRMER is available at Amazon.com.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

VHS WEDNESDAY: SKATEBOARD (1978) with Leif Garrett, Allen Garfield, Orson Bean

Allen Garfield is one of my very favorite character actors of all time. He's one of those guys whose very appearance, however brief, will enliven any movie. (I think my favorite Garfield performance was as Fishbine, the owner of the ambulance company in 1976's MOTHER, JUGS AND SPEED.) SKATEBOARD (aka SKATEBOARD: THE MOVIE) is a rare starring vehicle for him and he makes good use of his inflated screen time. He really milks his lovable loser character for all its worth but you only wish that the screenwriters (one of whom is future Law & Order czar Dick Wolf) gave him better material to work with.

Garfield plays a talent agent who owes his ex-wife a lot of money and a notorious gangster even more. Desperate for some quick cash, he cooks up a scheme to promote a skateboard team after he witnesses their ringleader jump over his car while riding a board. Garfield takes the kids up and down the coast performing in skateboarding exhibitions under the moniker "The Los Angeles Wheels". When his top skater leaves the team abruptly, the youngster Brad (Leif Garrett, yes, Leif Garrett) steps in at the last minute for the big downhill race.

This was made a few years before guys like Tony Hawk and the Bones Brigade made skating cool. Because of that, most of the skateboarding scenes showcase the skaters doing more freestyle types of tricks. Still, the shots of kids skating on downhill courses, in drainage pipes, and in empty swimming pools aren't bad for what they are.

That pretty much sums up the movie.  It's okay for what it is.  It's amiable for the most part, but ultimately it's harmless and forgettable.

Garfield's performance carries the film a long way.  It seems like THE BAD NEWS BEARS was probably the inspiration as it features a foul-mouthed loser in charge of a bunch of kids (except for the fact that these kids, unlike The Bears, are all good at what they do). Garfield's exasperated kvetching while bossing the kids around is good for a few laughs on its own. If only he actually had some legitimate zingers to toss out, the flick could've been a real winner.  espite the weak script, Garfield plays the role as well as you'd expect him to, and most of the kids are naturalistic and appealing.

Since it's a definite product of its time, you can have fun watching it and knowing that they would never be able to get away with some of this stuff nowadays.  or a kid's movie, there's a surprising amount of drug talk early on (a drug dealer tries to sell Garfield some Maui Wowie while he's in the unemployment line) and there's a subplot about Garfield having to keep his star skater from messing around with a younger teammate (you know, because nothing sells a kiddie flick like a couple of statutory rape jokes). I also got a laugh from the scene where the star skater was arrested for drinking and skating. (I'm not kidding.)

As a sports film, SKATEBOARD is predictable and formulaic. Even within that genre, it comes up short as the skateboarding scenes get a bit repetitive after a while. (Future Direct to Video star Chad McQueen was one of the skaters.) Thanks to the detailed vans, short-shorts, and bellbottoms it almost (pardon the pun) skates by on pure '70s nostalgia alone. I mean no matter how patchy and overlong it was, I can't completely hate any movie in which Orson Bean plays himself. – Mitch Lovell

Mitch Lovell is a frequent contributor to the print version of Exploitation Retrospect. He is also the editor of The Video Vacuum and author of several film books including the recent Double Vision: Hollywood vs. Hollywood. He last wrote about THE DOGFIGHTERS for VHS Wednesday.

SKATEBOARD is available from Amazon.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TROMA TUESDAY: CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3 – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID (1994)

After our usual post-Halloween ennui and associated hiatus we're back, loaded with treats for the holidays. Up first it's the latest Troma Tuesday installment with Evan Romero tackling yet another entry in the CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH series.

"Third time's a charm." So goes the quote. When approaching CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID, this quote hung in my head. Maybe THIS installment will be the charm!

After a recap of the events in the second one (reviewed here by Evan in a previous Troma Tuesday installment), we are introduced to Adlai Smith (Brick Bronsky), son of Roger Smith (Bronsky again), and his girlfriend, Trish (Lisa Star).

Unbeknownst to Adlai, his mother Victoria gave birth to twins. His twin brother, Dick (Bronsky yet again, who clearly thinks of himself as Peter Sellers), was kidnapped by Dr. Slag, PhD (John Tallman) and Professor Holt (Lisa Gaye) at birth and raised to be evil. Slag then uses Dick to frame Adlai and ruin his good reputation. Why? Simple: he wants to reduce Tromaville to toxic waste! Will Adlai be able to stop Dr. Slag, PhD's plan? Will Adlai be able to convince Dick to turn good? Will YOU, dear viewer, learn to make better viewing choices?

Third time's a charm? Nope. In the case of CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3, third time is absolutely the pits. Seriously, this installment sucks ass. While the second had a few mild guffaws sprinkled throughout, this one offers up absolutely nothing except boredom and irritation. It's truly amazing what SEVEN – yes, SEVEN this time – screenwriters can do, which is to take what made the second installment awful and amplify it! Yes, more unfunny humor, more meta-references, and more Brick Bronsky! Oh God, kill me now and give my body unto the necrophiliacs! As an added bonus, seven screenwriters don't make the film's pacing any better. In fact, this installment moves along as slow as a snail in molasses. No joke, I was far more interested in rearranging my movie collection.

Also, I wonder just who in the hell thought it would be funny to make a farting noise EVERY TIME Lisa Star's ass appears on screen. It isn't funny the first time, and it isn't funny the umpteen times they do it afterwards.

Toxie shows up once again to remind you that you're not watching THE TOXIC AVENGER. And, you get two added bonuses: Ron Jeremy pops up to remind you that you're not watching one of his porn scenes, and THE ELEPHANT MAN is referenced during a birthing scene to remind you that you're not watching that movie. This movie is practically trying to tell you, "Hey, don't watch me! Go watch something better!"

And yes, the subtitle DOES reference THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, yet another superior film you could be watching...

CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID is a subhumanoid of a movie. It's shit that thinks that knowing it's shit makes it not shit. But it's still shit either way you cut it, folks. Toss this movie to the fuckin' dogs. Once again, I'll close by altering the quote on the cover, this time from Joe Bob Briggs: "The worst CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH movie... since the last CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH movie."

CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID is available on Blu-ray and DVD. Features include an intro by Lloyd Kaufman, a Lisa Gaye interview, and other stuff. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about SHIN GODZILLA.

CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH 3 is available from Amazon.



Friday, October 21, 2016

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: This SHIN GODZILLA (2016) Review Brought to You by GoToMeeting

The first teaser trailer for SHIN GODZILLA (GODZILLA RESURGENCE) filled my inner ten-year-old with raging excitement. Hearing it was coming to theaters for a limited run in the States made me guaranteed to give work the shaft – I was hellbent on seeing the Big G's latest adventure! In the theater, I was giddy with excitement and anticipation. When I walked out, my soul was crying with disappointment.

A leak in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line tunnel sends government officials speculating on the cause. Was it some kind of underwater eruption? Or is it Godzilla? If you guessed the Big G, you're correct. Soon, Godzilla emerges from the water and begins trashing everything in sight en route to Tokyo. Will the Japanese government be able to stop Godzilla? Or will he turn Japan into a graveyard?

Let me tell you, my heart literally skipped a beat when Godzilla's stomp and roar were heard during the Toho logo. And I have to give SHIN GODZILLA credit for dispensing with the bullshit in the beginning and getting right down to business.

However, things go downhill from there.

First off, Godzilla's new look is sure to inspire more laughs than frights. G's look in GODZILLA VS DESTROYAH is an obvious influence here, minus the menace: those big eyes and TOO disproportionate arms make him look more like Godzilla's retarded cousin, Derpzilla. And that's not even the worst part: the first time we see Godzilla he looks more like the degenerate offspring of Zilla and Anguirus. Why? Simple: because Godzilla's still evolving. It isn't until nearly halfway through that we see him looking more like his normal self. Maybe Derpzilla is one stop along the way to Godzilla. Only sequels will tell.

Godzilla also has some new special features, which include: an atomic ray instead of radioactive breath, a lower jaw that splits, a tail that likewise shoots an atomic ray and a laser light show that erupts from his back (I wonder if he's available for raves?).

Call me a luddite, but I'll take a dude in a rubber suit smashing models over CGI any day. However, the CGI in SHIN GODZILLA is actually pretty good. For the most part anyways. While objects look nearly lifelike, there are instances when Godzilla looks pretty dodgy. Also, Godzilla's animation is real stiff at times and makes him look more like an action figure being moved by a little kid as opposed to an organic being.

But enough about Godzilla himself. How does the rest of the movie fare? I'm not shitting you when I say Godzilla falls asleep halfway through the movie. That tells you quite a bit.

A lot of people bitched and moaned that 2014's GODZILLA didn't have enough monster action in it. This is true. However, the action it DID have was rousing and exciting. In SHIN GODZILLA, the action is barely half-mast. Godzilla does very little except trample things, knock down buildings and smash shit, none of it very exciting. Then it's nap time for the remaining hour until he is stopped in an unexciting and limp-dicked finale.

A good chunk of the movie is taken up by board meetings, political squabbles and bureaucratic inefficiency – all of which are, supposedly, digs at the Japanese government's inadequate responses to the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. I have no problems with genre films tackling "big issues," but not at the expense of entertainment. Which is exactly what SHIN GODZILLA does.

And for a film that choses to focus more on the human drama than the monster action, the characters here are pretty lifeless and one-note. And there are way too fuckin' many of them. Half the time I didn't know who was who. The only one who stands out is Kayoko Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) because she speaks English at times and is nice to look at.

And another thing I have to bring up is the film's constant need to tell you WHO everyone is (no matter how minor a part they play) and WHAT everything is (no matter how insignificant) and WHERE everything is (once again, no matter how insignificant). Text constantly appears on the screen telling you the who, what, when, where, why, and how. It's acceptable to tell me the location is the Prime Minister's residence. You DON'T need to tell me when we're in an elevator. Or in a hallway. Or that a helicopter is some kind of helicopter. Or that a tank is some kind of tank. Or that a character in one scene for ten seconds is Mr. Of No Consequence. It's just distracting. And annoying.

At the end of the day, SHIN GODZILLA disappoints - and disappoints big. While it has its moments, there is very little to recommend here and should only be seen by Godzilla completists. All others are advised to play Kick the Can instead. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about GORGO.

SHIN GODZILLA is currently in cinemas.