Godzilla vs Biollante (1984)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 80’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Godzilla fights a giant plant monster. Again.(!!!)

This and Return of Godzilla could almost be a mini-series unto themselves. Not just because this one picks up moments after the end of the last one, but because they both share a certain “feel” that is hard to describe but lands very well for me.

This is another dark, somber Godzilla movie. As dark and somber as a movie with a giant plant monster, international assassins, psychics, and rogue American biotech companies can be, anyway. This movie is not as “small” as the last one, but still feels more focused and deliberate than the rest of the Heisei series.

Biollante herself has a very unique (for a Kaiju) backstory, though I wish they would have done a little more with the “soul of my dead daughter in the monster” thing. Biollante’s origins are interesting, but her actions and role in the narrative don’t do enough with the concept. It would have been very interesting to see a creature torn between her human soul and her monstrous cells. This is hinted at, but I wanted more.

The human characters here are all great. The scientist father, Genichiro Shiragami, was a different kind of “jaded scholar”, and while not outright villainous, was certainly flawed in interesting ways. The two government agents, Sho Kuroki and Goro Gondo, were particularly enjoyable, and added a kind of “buddy cop” vibe to the movie which largely worked. I really like Gondo and can totally see him and Yuki from vs SpaceGodzilla as brothers, making that addition to vs SpaceGodzilla pay even more dividends in retrospect. (And now I want to write fan fiction about their earlier adventures as bros…)

We also meet Miki for the first time in this one, and while she doesn’t have the most depth of character, I liked seeing her at the start of her journey as a student, knowing how she’ll grow and change and become a teacher and advocate herself.

This movie does have some of the worst English acting I’ve ever seen in a Godzilla movie - not the dub, but the non-Japanese actors playing American characters and speaking English just utterly suck.

The final confrontation between Godzilla and Biollante was particularly enjoyable. Biollante’s final form was great, the battle was intense, and while the anti-nuclear bacteria plot that got us to that point was a little convoluted, I liked how the all the different plot threads came together to be resolved through some hot kaiju-on-kaiju action.

This one is hard to find, but worth watching any way you can.

Rating: 4/5
Watched: 21 March 2024

Okay, (deep breath) NOW onto the Americans…

Return of Godzilla (1984)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 80’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Godzilla is back, baby! Again.

Godzilla is back again for the first time and everyone is freaking out. This is a very good Godzilla movie. Watching it at the end of the Heisei series is interesting, because while it very deliberately takes a more serious approach than the late-Showa movies, it also has the same effect when compared to the rest of the Heisei series. That’s not to say that the Heisei series gets even a fraction as ridiculous as the older movies, but no matter where you slice it or where it falls one’s Godzilla viewing chronology, this is a serious, somber, and in some ways smaller movie than most others, and all of those things work very well in this context.

It’s weird calling a Godzilla move “small” and weirder still meaning it as a compliment. But this movie, while having very high stakes is still tightly focused and zeroes-in on very specific moments and interactions. On the monster front, one of the most striking scenes was Godzilla destroying the nuclear plant. Not a whole city, or an entire army of troops and vehicles, but one compound. We see the whole razing from beginning to end, and it really conveys the terror and destruction of Godzilla. He doesn’t need a whole country to destroy to feel like an unstoppable, god-like force.

One the human side, we spend a lot of time on the geopolitical drama of Godzilla’s impending return. I loved all the scenes with the prime minister trying to navigate an impossible situation made more complicated by the Americans and Soviets waving their nuclear dicks around. These scenes work because they are “small”. The prime minister conveys so much just by listening to everything going on around him, taking it all in while holding up to the massive stakes around him. It takes the Godzilla movie trope of the bureaucratic response to Godzilla and grounds it and nails it.

The rest of the human characters aren’t bad either. I wish we could have got a little more of a romantic relationship developed between Naoko Okumura and the reporter, Goro Maki. As is my custom, I loved the older, slightly jaded scientist character, Dr. Hayashida most of all.

Godzilla feels appropriately menacing in this one, but the suit itself is a little stiff and eyes don’t quite work. But the overall silhouette is great; this suit sets the new template. By the next film, they’ve addressed the minor issues I mentioned and we have one of the best and most consistent designs for Godzilla that is then used for the rest of the Heisei movies.

Also, there is just something about the look of this one (and vs Biollante) that none of the other Heisei movies quite ever capture. I can’t describe it very well, but it’s a graininess or filter or something that I just really, really like in those two movies and that none of the other movies seem to have.

A great re-introduction to Godzilla, and a good time no matter where it falls in your viewing chronology.

Rating: 3+/5
Watched: 12 March 2024


And now, chronologically, let’s check in with the Americans…

Oh god, here we go…



Actually no, I’m not ready for this yet… Let’s find some bootlegs…

To be continued??

Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 90’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Godzilla dies. Again.

Following more or less the format of vs Mechagodzilla, this one gets right into the action and the story. The opening scene is the best of the series: welcome to the movie, Godzilla is here and he’s on fire and pissed. The whole meltdown Godzilla look is great and the big guy seems to be both enraged and suffering here and it works.

Every aspect of this movie works and works well together. The humans aren’t the most engaging of the series, but they get the job done and I like the connection to the original movie and characters. Godzilla Jr. is un-chibi-fied and his role in this story feels much more like a direct continuation of the character’s “arc” from vs Mechagodzilla. In fact, in a lot of ways this movie feels like the direct sequel to vs Mechagodzilla that “could have been.” vs SpaceGodzilla (the movie) could be erased from the series and the two around it would flow very well into one another. (But I would be sad.)

Destoroyah is not my favorite enemy kaiju but it is up there. My only problem is not so much with the look but with how stiff he/they are in some scenes. The human-sized, earlier forms are a great design and, when the director takes advantage of horror movie-style framing and cinematography, the lack of movement is hidden well. But sometimes in wide shots they are just suits on wheels and it takes you out of the moment. Similarly, the “perfect form” looks amazing but its massive size doesn’t always come off as imposing and godlike but instead bulky and stiff. Still, I always love seeing a baddie tower above Godzilla.

The ending fight is great and the effect of Godzilla’s death is haunting, and has an amazing score accompanying it. I love how Junior is resurrected and takes on the mantle. Tokyo is destroyed and saved all at once by Godzilla and his legacy, and I think that was an incredibly appropriate way to end this movie and this series.

One of the best Godzilla movies, in the series and the franchise.

Rating: 4/5
Watched: 5 March 2024

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 90’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Godzilla fights an evil monster from space. Again.

Okay, so this one is clearly filler, and okay, it doesn’t hold up as well, coming after vs Mechagodzilla - but I love this movie, warts and all. And it has warts. Godzilla cells getting sucked through a black hole and undergoing “rapid evolution”? The random, utterly pointless Yakuza side plot? Chibi Baby Godzilla? I don’t care, I love it all even when it doesn’t work. And SpaceGodzilla himself, while nonsensical even for a kaiju, still looks rad as hell and the crystal motif is interesting and unique. I particularly like the way it transforms the landscape and creates a larger arena for the final battle.

Another reason I like this one so much are the human characters, particularly Yuki. He’s so strangely captivating with his droopy-eyed, apathetic badassery. “I love you, Yuki.” “Fill my lighter for me.” Ugh, it’s trash and I love it. Also Miki continues to evolve and have a role in the plot, and seems to have changed as a person since the events of the last movie…and then: ROMANCE??

This movie doesn’t need to be anything more than giant monster fun and a little human drama and it delivers on both, but doesn’t really do anything that is new or better than previous entries. That’s okay. I have an unusual fondness for this movie and that’s enough for me.

Rating: 3+/5
Watched: 1 March 2024

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 90’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Godzilla fights a giant robot shaped like him. Again.

Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Just a simple sci-fi action flick that also ends up having a lot of heart. I love pretty much everything about this one. Even Rodan! That bastard actually ends up being a bro in this one!

What’s not to like? Mechagodzilla is legit cool looking and intimidating. Baby Godzilla is cute and expressive. The humans are pretty interesting, if not the most well-developed the series has seen. And so much Godzilla screen time! Apparently, this is the most he’s been on screen in the whole series, and it shows.

The monsters really steal the show here, and actually have pretty developed and interesting motivations. Is Rodan stealing eggs or protecting his “step brother”? I was actually invested in figuring this out, and I usually hate that guy. Godzilla has a pretty clear motivation and once his through-line has concluded, he just walks away in the end. The humans don’t win, but things actually resolve.

The movie is paced well and doesn’t waste any time getting into cool looking sci-fi monster mayhem. Baby Godzilla, which shouldn’t work at all, totally steals the show and never gets too cutesie or annoying. And Miki the psychic actually has things to do!

This is a good one and it will be hard to beat as my favorite of the Heisei era. Can CrystalShoulderPadsZilla do it? We’ll see!

Rating: 4+/5
Watched: 28 February 2024

Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth (1992)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 90’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: Mothra upstages Godzilla. Again.

Whereas Godzilla vs King Ghidorah tried to do a lot, this one tries to do one thing and does it over and over and over: remind us humans that we are ruining the earth. Godzilla movies are not known for their subtlety but this one was so heavy handed with the environmental message - which itself is never more nuanced than, “We’re doing bad things and we should stop” - that it becomes annoying and boring. It doesn’t help we have some pretty forgettable human characters, and frankly, even Godzilla himself doesn’t have much to do in this one. Apparently this was originally a Mothra movie script that they adapted into a Godzilla movie, and it really shows. Godzilla has so little bearing on the plot that it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a version of this without him all together. That’s a problem for a, ya know, Godzilla movie.

So many of the human characters are just here to say the same ham-fisted environmental message over and over. The two leads, Takuya and his ex-wife Masako, could have been interesting with their reconciliation plot, but instead their plot is just kind of boring. Not to mention the fact that Takuya makes such an out-of-nowhere decision that seems totally counter to what little character development he had: namely stealing and trying to sell the Cosmos. It makes no sense! And it’s completely unnecessary! The Cosmos have already been stolen by someone else, motivating Mothra’s attack! There is literally no reason for him to do this; they could have reconciled him with his family in any number of other, more sensical ways.

Also, while I love Mothra, I always get bored when she spends half a movie as a caterpillar. Mothra as a moth always looks so rad. Who actually is interested in seeing a pink slug for half the movie? Give us the Queen of the Monsters at her most regal!

One high point though was the score, especially the Mothra themes. Also Battra is generally a pretty cool design, even in Metapod caterpillar form. The undersea battle between him and Godzilla was exciting and felt different. Also, I really like the actor playing Ando, mainly because he’s one of my favorite human character in the franchise, playing the dad, Yuji Shinoda, in Godzilla 2000.

Overall, a pretty mediocre, borderline forgettable Godzilla movie.

Rating: 2+/5
Watched: 27 February 2024

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)

Part of my series of reviews of the Heisei era Godzilla movies. Spoilers within, but we’re talking 90’s Godzilla movies here.

Spoiler alert: White people ruin everything. Again.

This movie tried to do a lot, and while I’m not sure how much it succeeded in most of it, I can’t deny it was enjoyable and engaging.

The plot is overly-complicated, and the time travel doesn’t even hold up to most pop-culture time travel logical standards. The movie really wants to say something about Japan’s complicated relationship with 1) Godzilla, 2) the West, 3) Nuclear power; and while it does indeed Say Things about all of that… I’m not sure exactly what points it’s actually trying to make. But it sure is fun to go along for the ride.

There are a few different ways to structure these kinds of movies, and this one goes for First Half: Characters and Story, Second Half: Monster Mayhem. I personally prefer the structure where the monsters are introduced from the beginning and their presence builds gradually throughout the movie until they dominate the narrative by the end, but in this case, the first-half sci-fi plot is entertaining, if convoluted. And I get why they wanted the first time you see Godzilla in the movie to be his pre-kaiju, dinosaur form. But this one goes in the file of “Godzilla Movies That Could Have Used More Godzilla” (see also, the first Monsterverse Godzilla, and Minus One).

There are a lot of engaging characters in this movie, but none of them are very deep or realized. For some reason the creepy white people entertained me to no end, and the idea of the villains from the future (and from the past) all being weird looking white dudes I believe was intentional and related to the above-mentioned attempts at Saying Things. But man, they were creepy and campy and fun to watch.

Also, that Steven Spielberg joke tried WAY too hard.

A fun movie I would watch again, though it won’t make any more sense next time, I’m sure.

Rating: 3+/5
Watched: 26 February 2024

Godzilla Heisei Era Master Post!

A digital painting of Heisei era Godzilla, by Cheung Chung Tat
Heisei Godzilla by Cheung Chung Tat

Earlier this year, I watched all the Heisei era Godzilla movies as part of a bigger, less-organized desire to make my way through the entire series and a bunch of other kaiju-centric media.

I’m going to post my “reviews”1 for each movie individually over the next few days, but here is my ranking for the series, with links to each review added as I post them:

Heisei Godzilla Movies, Ranked!

  1. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2
  2. Godzilla vs Destoroyah
  3. Godzilla vs Biollante
  4. Return of Godzilla
  5. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah
  6. Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla
  7. Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth

1. These aren’t really reviews, more like the kind of excited, rambling nonsense I’d likely spew from the backseat on the way home if you were unfortunate enough to take me out to the movie theater.

Blogs All The Way Down! Blogs Forever and Forever 100 Years!

I’m not on Tumblr much anymore. Both for Tumblr/social media-y reasons, and for personal ones, but all of them in some way intersect with the concepts of how I spend my time, and how to be more deliberate in doing so.

I’ve been really into the idea of the Indie Web lately, which is a “movement” but also, more broadly, seems to be a lot of people asking the same sort of questions I’ve had for a long time: What is it like to be an average person who wants to express themselves on the internet in This Modern Age? How can people utilize the social, artistic, and documentary strengths of this sort of technology while avoiding everything else that is gross, shallow, and commodifying about the modern web?

Continue Reading...

Ysabeau the cat reclines, belly up, in the sun. Her back legs are spread and she looks content, but also slightly annoyed at having her picture taken.

Ysabeau 🐈 has been known to let it all hang out on sunny days…
30 April 2024

A close up of two tulips, one dark orange, another a pastel yellow. The yellow tulip's petals have fringy, shaggy edges with pink highlights.

Tulips 🌱🌷
28 April 2018

Every day I….

     am hustlin'
     have the blues
     write the book
     have to look up the difference between “i.e.” and “e.g.”…

morning computer 007

When you drop all ideas about pleasure causing happiness and pain causing suffering, then you can find happiness where you might expect to feel pain and you can see how certain pleasures can lead to certain suffering. When you pay attention to your actual feelings rather than what you might expect to feel, you will surprise yourself.

💬 Source: Pleasure, Pain and Happiness

Unexpected Song

Listening to musicals still makes me sad sometimes. Especially some musicals, and especially some times. It’s been nearly twenty years since that part of my life. I never fully closed the door to that part of me, but it’s also a room I can’t go into completely. It’s a room I don’t think I’ll ever fully inhabit again. And yet.

Shelves of scripts I’ll never give away. Soundtracks moved from device to device that I can’t listen to anymore. Boxes of programs and cast party souvenirs in the attic.

It’s cliche to say this, but it was a lifetime ago. I think back to that period and it’s not unfamiliar but it is foreign. Like walking through your childhood home and realizing you aren’t in a memory but in a dream that’s slowly melting into a nightmare.

But the nightmare isn’t now, it was back then, when I violently ripped out that page from my life and tossed it to the wind. Only later realizing there were words on the page I’d never see again, never stumble across and only sometimes be able to remember the vague shapes of. Words that were so important to me not just lost but discarded. A secret formula, a spell, a code, a key. Gone.

At the time, I thought my love of theatre defined me. I couldn’t imagine myself or my life without that as the foundation. What does that mean now, for the things I see around me that I cling to? The stuff I surround myself with that I hang my identity on?

Maybe its encouraging, empowering even. That part of my life is gone, and yet I remain. Completely different and exactly the same.

There was so much more violently lost back then than just my connection to the stage. So much more pain caused and endured. And yet most of those scars have healed over and I am stronger for it. Leaner. Smarter.

But there was such potential then. I was just starting something, intoxicated with the potential of it all, and I drunkenly wrapped my life around a lamp post. The wounds healed. Relationships irrevocably lost, but hearts grew back. I am better for that time in my life. Much didn’t survive the transition. Much did and is stronger as a result. But in between, or maybe holding it all together is… theatre. That life of mine, just getting started, never to resolve.

Hanging in the air. A ghost light on stage waiting for the next show that will never come. But at least the theater is never truly dark.

This melancholia brought to you by:

Journal Excerpt

…wandering forward, sometimes only by inches. But I am moving. And so is everything else. I will never truly get to pause everything and have a proper look around to get my bearings. But I can keep dropping pages like breadcrumbs as I go, and following the marks on the trunks of trees left before me, and keep chasing the sunlight I see streaming through the trees ahead.

And that will be enough.

From a journal entry dated 10 April 2024

morning computer 006

The Ever-Mutating Life of Tumblr Dot Com

Okay funny story - I wrote the below little post over a year ago, and for some reason, never published it. Instead it was hiding in drafts nearly lost to history and my memory.

Spoiler Alert: I did end up rejoining Tumblr, but then got back off of it around the change of the year as part of a general rejiggering of my internet/media/art-experiencing habits and routines. I do miss some aspects of Tumblr (again) but not enough to got back…

Anyway, original year-old post follows:

As a service, Tumblr’s lack of commerciality and consistent inability to successfully monetize itself is part of its whole appeal. There’s a whole genre of Tumblr posts that just screenshot and mock the bizarre hosted ads that spawn on the dashboard like mutated fish in a radioactively-poisoned river.

But it’s a loving kind of mockery—users seem, for the most part, to be genuinely grateful for the state of the site. For many, it’s a refuge from the dystopian insanity that the rest of the internet has come to represent. “It’s like anti-social social media,” says Bec, regarding Tumblr’s continued paradoxical appeal.

[…] for those who value creativity without the pressures of “hustle culture,” and wish to avoid the current-events performative outrage that has crept in, kudzu-like, and swallowed up almost every single other area of open expression online, Tumblr remains ideal.

The corollary of that, of course, being that those who appreciate that creativity without necessarily needing or wanting to express it themselves can also find happy homes on Tumblr, as spectators to a healthy culture of simply liking things.

Source: The Ever Mutating Life of Tumblr dot com

Tumblr was absolutely my social media “home” for a long time - though I never saw it has a social media platform, per se. It was communal blogging and celebration of cool shit. It was the only platform I ever amassed any sort of following on, and the only one I ever saw my self wanting a following on.

I deleted my account and my tumblogs (hell yes, that is what I did and will aways call them) when the porn ban came down - mainly because the site/admins/corporate overlords were handling it, oh so badly. But it sounds like a lot of that has calmed down now…

And now, I’m nostalgic for it? I am feeling… things? This will not do, not at all.

I’m not considering getting back on Tumblr? …am I?

Oh no.

I am afraid to put dates on entries.

I am intimidated. I feel pressured by them.

I understand and agree with their usefulness in the world of ‘blog as archive’, but among the other parallel worlds of what a blog can be, I kind of like the ambiguity of posting without them. Does it really matter that you know exactly what day I said this? Or, how close this is, temporally, to the previous post? To the (hopefully) next one?

I mean, it might matter! I don’t actually know! I’m asking you!

Undecided. Is there a date on this post? Depending on when you are looking at it, there might be. Or there might not. I’m not sure if there is a third option.

“The only one among us not free to change their mind is the one who does not decide…”

Soft Reboot

Offline, I wrote:

I’ve been spending some time, literally tonight and in general, bopping around the current, uh blogosphere. I’ve found a few sites, I believe from ooh directory that are doing basically the exact thing I could see myself doing which is… this, right now. Except in a blog instead of privately, talking to myself in Notion.

Why not do this in a blog? Why I am here? Because I don’t think anyone will read it? I just read a bunch of random blogs. So its clearly not that hard to get it in front of some eyes.

Because I don’t want to invest the effort? That’s very possible, but that’s also the kind of energy I’m trying to transform.

Because…it will suck? Well probably but that’s a bad reason not to do something.

And so, I’m here. Again. For the first time. Again.

I don’t need to know how this will all go in order to do it at all. I need to keep telling myself that.

Something I read tonight, from this new personal blog I discovered discussing their love of ‘daily bloggers’:

I also like it when they don’t have all the answers, as prescriptive blogs aren’t my jam. The more they write without an overactive filter, the better. It allows me to learn/discover things alongside them.

That’s… facinating. Because, trying to actually answer my above question of “Why am I not just blogging?”, I realize a large part of my hesitation to engage with blogging specifically (as opposed developing and writing more polished “essay” posts (which I don’t do much either but for different (bad) reasons…)) is because I devalue what I write when I “write without an overactive filter”. I doesn’t feel “real” and I can’t imagine anyone would want to read it. I literally don’t see the value in it for anyone outside of myself.

…and then I think of all the time I’ve spent reading other people’s personal blogs and zines, and things like published diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.

So yeah. I think I just need to get out of my own way and type stuff on the damn internet. And go from there.

Thanks, Veronique.ink!

morning computer 005

Eternal Return

[Nietzsche] accepts the inevitability and suffering of reality (eternal return) but insists that the person, the self, must change perception. This change of perception must address only oneself, for no other expectation or altered circumstance but only sheer will, insight, and perception, can give us a new ability to understand, tolerate, and transcend suffering. The present moment of existence must become the tablet on which to etch one’s aspirations, intentions, conclusions, directions, not change any external circumstances but to see through everything, to live in its contradictions. [Emphasis mine.]

Eternal return is purgation of past weaknesses, failure, error, desire. The self must embrace not only the will to pursue a new self but what would be associated with Nietzsche as the will to power, meaning no more than the taking control of one’s self in life and destiny. Because this self-made destiny is the fruit of a personal struggle, the self must overcome much that is irrevocably external affecting the inner person. The will must transform the self not through attack but through transvaluation, the will overcoming obstacles, subjectivities, falsehoods, not reliant on society, culture, others, but forging one’s own path and system of thought and values.

From: Eternal Return via Hermit’s Thatch

Once again I’ve been thinking about eternal return (heh).

Once again I find myself circling, hovering around the periphery of action.

Once again I find myself going through all of the motions and preparations leading up to an actual change. I make the run up closer than I ever have.

Yet still the gulf remains. The gap. The canyon between me and It.

I have been at this point so many times before.

I just need a better approach, I say. So I retreat back. I plan the route. I clear the path. I wait for favorable weather. The wheel turns again; I set off running. It’s easier this time, I am gaining speed. I see the Other Side. I see where I can land. I just need to jump, and…

And I skid to a stop, right at the edge. Again.

It is easy to get lost in that. Here I am making the same old mistakes. Here I am again, not doing the thing I claim I want to do.

The gravity of my goal, my task, has no doubt captured me. But I can’t come into land. I simply spiral tighter and tighter around it. And sometimes I drift away and maybe that’s what I need - to let it go and float off somewhere else - but no, at the farthest reaches, the arch of orbit tugs at my back, my retreat slows, and my path bends and I am on the approach again.

How many times will I do this?

But to think that this isn’t yet another repeat of every other failed attempt… to realize that I am not being cursed with another frustrating iteration, but blessed with another chance to get it right…

…that despite how many times I have found myself here, the only thing that exists is this present moment…

“…the person, the self, must change perception.”