I could not be more pleased about my decision to attend G-Fest last weekend (July 11-13), I was in attendance as a vendor (in Artists’ Alley). As it’s now Tuesday July 15, 2014 and I’m still wound up from how great the weekend was, the best thing to do is to bring closure to the weekend by sharing my thoughts as a first-timer.
- The thing that tipped my decision was the successful funding of a Kickstarter to play Ifukube music live in concert – ‘100 Years of Ifukube’. The program was nothing but suites from Godzilla films scored by Ifukube. The music went chronologically, with a natural intermission between the Showa (1954-75) and Heisei (1985-1995) eras of Godzilla films. The suites were masterfully arranged, condensing musical highlights from an entire film into a few short minutes. The bonus? The Godzilla theme itself showed up time and time again, allowing appreciation for the subtle variations in theme from movie to movie (all but obvious when playing them side-by-side).
- The program felt like (and likely is) a once-in-a-lifetime thing; when you look at all that went into it (time, people, rehearsals, and more importantly a lot of Kickstarter funding!), the timing with Godzilla’s 60th birthday and Ifukube’s 100th AND the release of ‘Godzilla’ earlier this year, a lot of things went right to make this happen.
- There were many special moments during the concert, but one specific moment I hope I’ll remember forever: when the first song started (Godzilla theme from Godzilla 1954), I closed my eyes, listened and just soaked it in, appreciating the moment. As the MC mentioned during the evening, concerts of Ifukube music happen in Japan, but not in the US. Sometimes you need to slow down and really appreciate what’s happening in front of you.
- Not worth more than a quick mention – it was great making new friends and talking about Kodoja with giant monster fans from everywhere. We sold out of almost every comic we had!
- When I say giant monster fans from everywhere, I mean it. G-Fest may be the last truly ‘national’ convention there is; more and more comic conventions spring up every year – and for a reason – comic cons themselves gain more and more fans every year! It’s great because it allows everyone an opportunity to get the comic convention experience, and we at Kodoja table at as many comic conventions as we can. However, the prevalence of comic conventions locally means you can get a ‘comic con experience’ close to home; with Godzilla there’s only one place to go. And boy do people from everywhere go! Chicagoans (host city) are a tiny portion of attendees; I met people from Canada, Florida, Kansas, Georgia, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Great Britain and Japan. Pretty amazing.
- Holy crap, the Dealers’ Room. For those not familiar, the merchandise room (aka The Dealers Room) generates such interest that people line up for hours in advance before it opens, hoping to get first crack at vendor after vendor offering the finest imports, models and toys America can offer. It’s amazing! I didn’t walk away with any big-time goodies (while I definitely enjoy me some G-toys they aren’t entirely my thing by G-fan standards) but I did grab a few DVDs, shirts, music and comics.
- I also moderated a panel on Godzilla comics with Chris Mowry, Matt Frank and Jeff Zornow, currently the creative team behind Godzilla: Rulers of Earth from IDW. So first off, buy the damn comic and read it. Second, buy mine (Kodoja. I know you know that). The panel went well and I’ll get the audio posted at some point soon for people interested – for me it was apleasure to be able to talk about something as obscure (in the grand scale) as giant monster comics – G-fest is the ONLY place a panel like this can happen! If I propose a Giant Monster Comics panel at any other convention the response will be (to quote Matt) “there are giant monster comics?” So yeah, it was great to geek out on comics with fellow panelists and the audience for an hour.
- The most underrated thing about G-Fest? The G-Fest Channel! Yes that’s right, the host hotel opens up a TV channel, putting 4 days of solid Giant Monster (and related) programming for your viewing. Movies, trailers, video shorts, you name it. I didn’t know such a thing existed – I found out about while having a discussion in my room with it on, interrupting myself to ask “what the hell is this”? I was expecting my roommate to respond with the name of the DVD he was playing through the TV only to find out about THE CHANNEL. That channel stayed on the whole time – conversations, day, night, whatever. It was the perfect backdrop to the weekend – I saw the entire movies for ‘Spook Warfare’, ‘Sakuya Yokaiden’, ‘Daimajin 2’ and partials for many more, from Gamera to Godzilla to Ultraman. Completely fantastic. That cinches my attendance at every G-Fest I can get to in the future.
We’re pleased to announce that some of Kodoja artist Rory Smith’s work will be on display at Creature Features in Burbank, CA as part of the Godzilla: All Art Attack! show. Rory’s been known to draw other Daikaiju from time to time, so if you’re near the Burbank area swing on by and see for yourself.
Show runs from May 11 – June 1
Location: Creature Features, 2904 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank CA
Opening Reception: Sunday, May 11 – 1:00-6:00 p.m.
In eager anticipation of the new Godzilla movie being released on May 16, Exhumed Films and Cinedelphia are proud to present a marathon of monstrous mayhem! KAIJU-PALOOZA will showcase an assortment of giant-monster themed shorts and TV shows, plus a feature-length movie–all projected on 16mm film. The specific titles are being kept secret, but you can count on seeing rampaging reptiles and ruthless robots laying waste to our entire planetor at least Japan. All this, plus monster themed prize giveaways and even an onstage kaiju battle that’s sure to shake the PhilaMOCA to its foundation!
Free promotional items for the new GODZILLA film will be available at the screening – plus, Kodoja will be there so keep an eye out for Kodoja items!
Get your tickets here: http://kaijupalooza.brownpapertickets.com/
531 N. 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Doors at 7:30 pm, Show at 8:00pm
No refunds or exchanges.
Most Daikaiju fans will not agree with ranking the movie this high – the giant monster community has not smiled on Pacific Rim in the almost-year since its release. In this rare case, the Giant Monster fans are aligned with the general public in viewing the movie as a plot-and-character-poor film heavy on action – fun but forgettable bubblegum. Admittedly it’s weird to refer to a movie that made $500 MILLION worldwide this way, yet that’s where we are with this, the movie equivalent of ‘To the Extreme’ by Vanilla Ice – yeah you made a lot of money but, um, you have little artistic merit. I don’t have the problem taking what I feel is the minority position. Well, on this at least – ‘To the Extreme’ still sucks (as do most things that involve the word ‘extreme’, come to think of it).
But Pacific Rim? Well, let’s just say it might not be that ‘great’ but it is AWESOME, and by being that it hits the most important tenet of Giant Monster films: GIANT MONSTER BATTLES. There are a sh*tload of them, and between many different characters too! All in all we get combinations of four Jaegers and (off-hand) six daikaiju, which doesn’t even count the other ‘kaiju cameos’ we get via stock footage or flashbacks. That is a lot of giant monster fighting, party people – only Destroy All Monsters boasts a Daikaiju cast that deep.
What’s bad about it? Well, the character development and dialogue are both borderline-awful. I personally find the two ‘scientist’ characters annoying as hell (and that’s from someone who really likes Charlie O’Day in ‘Sunny in Philly’); they come off like two chattering C3POs intended as comic relief but ultimately failures. But I’m going to turn a negative into a positive regarding the dialogue – sometimes awful is good. Sometimes awful is memorably bad. I’ve personally made one of the lines into a family mad lib of sorts – “Where would you rather (____________) – here? OR IN A JAEGER!?” is fun! Substitute ‘eat your waffles’, ‘watch the NBA draft lottery’, ‘study trigonometry’ – anything you want. Good times! I haven’t had this much fun with a bad line of dialogue since Ricardo Montalban’s ‘You are in a position to demand nothing’ from Star Trek II: The Real One.
Other bad things about it are the Economics behind the Jaegers and the lack of math credibility behind the kaiju attacks – I’ve dedicated entire episodes of a blog to that and you can read some highlights here (the blog article) and here (the Discover Blog article nice enough to quote my findings). I’ve beaten them in the ground though.
Let’s get to the good stuff then – this movie is fun as hell, it keeps your interest and has multiple kick-ass action sequences. Multiple! The action sequences are long, full of creative ideas and immensely satisfying. Let’s list the highlights – A Jaeger hits a kaiju with an OCEAN LINER, a multiple monster-jaeger battle in shallow water involving a disabling EMP, a monster-jager battle that starts in a city and ends IN SPACE WITH THE JAGER SLICING THE KAIJU IN TWO and a multiple monster-jaeger battle UNDERWATER. Those are just the highlights! I could go on!
If that weren’t enough, the movie is rewatchable as hell. I cannot overstate how important rewatchability is to me, it is the single most important trait in a movie. Many reviews post-release shared the bad sentiments above and a similar good sentiment – “it made me feel like a kid again”. To me that should be in a 200-point font. I believe the reason Star Wars I-III are frowned upon is their failure to deliver on that premise – the adults who watched the films in 2000s did not feel anything like the kids they were when the original trilogy (IV-VI) came out. This is not an easy thing to achieve, and Pacific Rim totally nailed it.
In summary, Pacific Rim has its share of flaws and those flaws are easy to write about in a review. What gets short shrift are the strengths of the film (described above), ultimately leading to a review of Pacific Rim as if people are expecting it to be Inception or something. For its issues, it completely and totally delivers on Giant Monster action, which happens to be exactly why I love giant monster movies.
If you’re attending C2E2 in Chicago this weekend (April 25-27) and you love giant monsters, Kodoja will see you at Booth 118! We have a special, very limited print for the convention this weekend (picture below) so get it while you can! Keith (writer) and Rory (artist) will be there holding it down.