Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Godzilla

Disclaimer #1: I have been a Godzilla fan all my life. I have Godzilla and Biollante action figures staring at me as I write this. Thus, this review may not be 100% unbiased.

Disclaimer #2: If you're any kind of Godzilla fan and you're reading this before seeing the movie. Stop reading. Get in your car. Go to the nearest theater where Godzilla is playing, and SEE THE FREAKIN MOVIE!

Thanks. Enjoy.

This is not Roland Emmerich's Godzilla. 

This is the real deal. Godzilla in all the glory and power that he was meant to be. I would honestly suggest this is probably the best Godzilla movie ever made.

Possible Spoilers After the Picture

The crux of the movie is focused on Ford Brody, a man who's mother was killed during a disaster at a nuclear power plant fifteen years prior. Ford just left everything in the past and joined the military, while his father became obsessed with finding out what really caused the disaster. 

The real trouble starts with the appearance of a M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). It breaks out of the site where it was being watched, and takes to the sky, heading off into the Pacific Ocean from Japan. It lands in Hawaii, where the Big Guy finally catches up. This fight is more of a teaser though, and only seen in short glimpses and on TV's in the background. It is impressive nonetheless. 

The MUTO escapes though, and continues East across the Pacific while another one rises up out of the Nevada desert. Everything culminates in San Francisco, where a battle between Godzilla, the two MUTO's, and the military takes place. 

I've only really heard of one big complaint about the movie, which is they don't spend enough time on Godzilla. 

Honestly, while a bit more on-screen time and footage of his fights would have been cool, I can't argue that it would have made the movie better. As it was, it gave the Big Guy multiple chances for badass entrances, which they almost all were. 

I've also heard a few people complain about Ford Brody's performance. He does seem a little unemotional at times, but if you stop and think about some of what he's been through, his training, and what's going on around him, his stoicism actually makes a lot of sense. 

Everything else about this movie is spot-on in my opinion. Even the music of the opening credits brings back reminders of the classic Toho Godzilla movies, and the music throughout harkens back to that era. The MUTO's are original, while being somewhat reminiscent of Kamacuras. 

Godzilla himself looks incredible. He's a bit bulkier than any of his previous incarnations, but it's built up properly, with large, rough scales and armor plating. He's also not just some mindless beast defending his territory. There are several scenes where he recognizes the humans scampering around him and while he doesn't go out of his way to preserve the cities around him in battle, he doesn't randomly knock over or smash buildings. In a few of his scenes, he even has facial expressions. Not quite thinking expressions, but you can definitely make out notable differences between anger, rage, and indifference. And yes, he has been re-powered, and there is a breath weapon. 

Seriously, if you are any kind of Godzilla fan, you will love this movie. Even if you're not a fan of Godzilla, it's an incredible action monster movie in the same vein as Pacific Rim. 

I'm not holding my breath, but here's hoping this fall and winter sees the Big Guy's first real film awards. 

A 5 star ride for Godzilla fans, easy a 3.5 to 4 for everyone else. 

And yes, another movie already has the green light. Here's hoping they keep the same director. 

~ Shaun

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Some Rambling, News, and Milestones

I'm not going to be too serious with this week's post. I've mostly just got a bunch of little things to mention, as opposed to one topic I'm going to go over. Some of it's writing-related, some of it's horror, some of it's just because I want to spit it out there.

For my fellow writers, I just want to toss out a reminder that if you check your reviews on Amazon, don't forget to scope out Amazon's pages for other countries. I was surprised to discover a while back that Class 5 had two reviews I had never known about from the UK. And aside from plugging in the .uk instead of the .com, I would never have known that. I've also done pretty well selling a few copies over there the past month. So, cheers to foreign sales, and I hope you all enjoy it.

I've also got a few different numbers to throw out this week. This blog post here, actually marks my 100th post. A fairly substantial feat for only a year and a half. Lots of blogs don't manage near that many, or as regular posts. It's one milestone I'm actually fairly proud of.

April 1st (yeah, yeah, I know.) also marked a full year since the publication of my first book, and my introduction to the world as an author. Granted, this introduction was about as graceful as tripping, spilling my drink on the host's wife and then forgetting his name, but it was an introduction nonetheless. It's been a long and winding road since then, leading to the publication of a short story which won an honorable mention at Seattle's premier horror convention and the release of my second book. What I've learned in the year since that first disastrous novel would probably fill a book of it's own at this point, and I know I've still got tons of needed information which is still completely unknown to me. In the past month alone, I've discovered past progressive tense, something I didn't even know existed despite managing to use it fairly heavily in one of my recent short stories.

I'm hoping the next year see's another couple releases. I have a trio of short stories which should be available in a bit, and my most recent novel "Hannah" is currently in the submissions pile over at Samhain Publishing. I'm currently four weeks into the 4 month wait for a reply, but fingers and toes are still crossed, making it a little hard to walk and type. Don't worry, I do take breaks when nobody's looking though. Don't want them becoming permanent or anything. I've also got starts on a few other works of varying lengths, including a work tentatively titled "Black Lake" and I've got a bit done on a sequel to Class 5. Heh. Don't hold your breath though.

If you've been to the theaters, watched TV or been on the internet for the past weekend, you probably know that Godzilla has knocked the ball out of the park, making more than $93 million in it's opening weekend, even beating out the Amazing Spider-Man 2, although Captain America: The Winter Soldier still holds the top spot for the year at $95. Sadly, I don't know when, or even if I'll be able to make it to the theaters to see the big guy, but even if I don't, there's always the sequel. 

And that's pretty much all I got for this week. Oh, and my birthday is in two weeks on the third. Feel free to snag a copy of Class 5 for me if you haven't already.


~ Shaun

Monday, May 12, 2014

Horror Shorts

In the mood for a good scare or horror tale, but don't feel like curling up on the couch or digging through your kindle to see what you haven't read yet? Well, there are other options. (Warning, lots of links and interactivity today.)

There's always video games. Series like Resident Evil and Dead Space are good for a few scares, and there look to be some real gems coming out in the near future like Outlast and The Evil Within.

I'm not focusing on video games in this post though. This week, what I'm talking about to satisfy your Horror appetite are Shorts. Short Horror movies you can find on Youtube and Vine. You can find just about any length from a couple to fifteen or twenty minutes long, and there are some real nice works as well.

I'm not just talking about homemade "Running through the woods, breathing hard" videos some guy threw together in the woods behind his house. A lot of these videos are made by people that have put some real work into them and quite a few are done by film students for contests or even for school, so there are some that are really high quality.

Of course, some don't need a real fancy video to be suitably creepy.

Some of you may be familiar with CreepyPasta, which is where some of these short story readings come from. I also want to share with you this video, which is a reading of a short story by the talented Karl Drinkwater


Of course, there are the actual short horror videos to catch as well. And not just in regular screen versions. Some, like this next video can even be watched in 3D if you happen to have the correct glasses handy. 

I mentioned some videos were done by film students, didn't I? So I think it would be a bit remiss of me to not include a couple of those before closing out the post. The videos pretty much speak for themselves, so, enjoy. 

So, keep heart, Horror fans, there's plenty of stuff to keep you up at night no matter your format or how much time you have. Don't be afraid to try your hand at making your own either if you're so inclined. Opportunities are there. 

~ Shaun

(You would not believe how hard it was to do this short post. Youtube is the KING of distractions, even when you know what you're looking for.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

31 Blog Posts of Monsters: Nessie

(Sorry this is so late. Being sick and dealing with allergies at the same time BLOWS!)

So, it's not really 31 Days of Monsters at this point, but I would like to get through 31 monsters total at least, and there are some of the really famous cryptids that I was leaving until last that I didn't get through. The Loch Ness Monster was one I had originally planned to do as a kind of 'Grand Finale'. Well, we can all see now how that turned out. Anyway, I'm not going to do these one after the other, so expect more like this to be somewhat spaced out, but I am going to finish this little series. Eventually.

Name: Loch Ness Monster, Nessie

Size: Estimates from video, photographs and sonar recordings very widely, from as small as 5 feet to as long as 46 feet.

Appearance: Generally a large, oval-shaped body, a long serpentine neck, and a small head. It has drawn comparisons to the prehistoric sea reptile the Plesiosaur in nearly every description.

Threat: Low. While a creature of Nessie's size could certainly cause harm to and possibly even eat people, there have never been any reports of attacks. Though, with water temperatures ranging between 42 and 58 degrees, it's not a common swimming spot for tourists.

The Loch Ness Monsters is one of the oldest cryptids known, and one of the most interesting in that it seems to have kept up with technology without giving itself away. There have been dozens of searches of the Loch, including intensive sonar scans. Many have indeed turned up shapes of large animals moving deep under the water which cannot be identified. Of course without a body or a crystal clear video, there is no definitive proof on the animal; but as long as sightings continue, both visually and on sonar screens, the mystery will continue.

Many suggestions have been made for what the creature could be. All have strong points, as well as weaknesses. One of the best ideas put forth was an oversized Conger Eel. Color would match and size would be a good fit if one could grow large enough. The problem with that answer, though, is that Conger Eels are saltwater fish, and the loch is freshwater. Their long, snake-like bodies also don't come close to the bulkier form often reported.

Even to this day, expeditions and searches carry on on the Loch. Jeremy Wade did an episode of his show River Monsters where he plumbed the depths of the loch to see what was in it, then followed the trail of the stories through history and made a guess that the massive and rare Greenland shark could be the culprit. Again though, this answer has holes in that the Greenland shark is a salt-water species. It also doesn't match the long neck and head so often described.

Of course, there have also been several hoaxes, made by people looking for a little publicity or just trying to have fun at the expense of those who think there is really something there. In fact, it was even brought out several years ago that the original Surgeon's photograph (The first one up top) is a hoax, done for no real reason than to stir up the local press. Most recently, a picture reported to be on Apple Maps supposedly shows the creature swimming near the surface of the loch. That one has since been shown to be simple a photo of a boat where the offending vehicle has been photoshopped out.

Still, whether there is an ancient Plesiosaur swimming around in Scotland, or not. It's hard to deny that there does seem to be something in the lake that we are not familiar with. Something large, swimming at depth, occasionally captured on sonar, and more rarely, seen, and even photographed. Believing in it or not is entirely up to you. At the moment, the evidence swings both ways.

Still, if you're out in Scotland, I would recommend trying not to fall out of your boat. Just to be on the safe side.

~ Shaun