“Kamen” just means masked, he’s a masked rider. More shin silliness, this one hitting some Smoking Causes Coughing heights of absurdity. Professor Shinya Tsukamoto explains all backstory to our Rider (Sosuke Ikematsu, star of Tsukamoto’s Killing) then promptly dies, melting into soap bubbles, as do all deceased heroes and villains. Rider is strong, punching henchmen into fountains of blood, teams up with Ruri-Ruri (Minami Hamabe of the new Godzilla Minus One) to defeat a series of insect-themed baddies.

Some real Evangelion-ish lines, and I like how the movie comes to a full stop for long minutes while a character calmly unpacks their emotions. Android Ruri’s evil brother Butterfly and Rider 1 have a fatal duel, but there’s a second Rider (he and Butterfly were both voices in Inu-Oh) who will carry on the legacy, going on new adventures with Rider 1’s spirit inside his helmet, a Heat Vision & Jack situation. Government guys Tachi and Taki are the only actors who’ve been in all three Shin movies. One villain was Ichi The Killer himself – why do I never recognize him? – another played the wife whose husband is an alien in Before We Vanish.

Carrying on where we left off from 1.11, and the wikis confirm that the stuff I didn’t remember from the series (suicidally British pilot Mari) is new to the movies. Doubling down on the Christianity stuff and the teen nudity. Asuka jumpkicks an angel to death, then when her robot becomes possessed, the bosses remote-pilot Shinji’s eva and beat the hell out of her. Some good action, slowed down by a couple of lame pop songs – and it’s fun that the subtitles only translated song lyrics in the final scene instead of the dialogue that might’ve explained what is happening.

A sorry follow-up to Shin Godzilla – the editing and camera angles all wacky, dialogue too overtalky. SG was talky too, but it felt like a developing story, while this is more a season of television condensed into a feature. Ultraman saves the day, disappears, turns evil, fights himself… the girl who likes him disappears, turns giant… undersea kaiju are joined by two different scheming extraterrestrials… despite all this, the movie and its kaiju-defense-team characters are mainly concerned with Kaminaga, the handsome guy who uses a wiimote to transform into Ultraman. Can’t say I wasn’t entertained, though.

Unlike in the Godzilla movie, the human team does nothing useful here:

Higuchi is a Hideaki Anno associate, who directed the Attack on Titan movies and did effects for the 1990’s Gamera series. Anno wrote this as the start of a trilogy, is also working on a Shin Kamen Rider, and I didn’t realize the Evangelion theatrical reboot is part of the Shin project. Kaminaga played the rival lawyer in Ace Attorney, his coworker/love interest starred in Before We Vanish and Our Little Sister, and the Drive My Car dude is their boss.

Just a couple of aliens on the swings:

Evident from the opening moments hyper-narrated by the lead girl that this is a movie for teenagers, not for me. Stuck around for the different animation style (blobby 3D humans with sharp anime expressions / red panda spiderman) and to see if her mom would turn into panzilla and murder an entire boy band (almost). This is the second time in a few weeks that I’ve thought of Detention – maybe I should put down the new stuff and just rewatch Detention.

Something to space-out to on the plane, one of those very silly sci-fi movies from the 60’s that gradually becomes a Godzilla knock-off. Movieishness is high, reasonable human behavior low, with some really cool miniatures, but the zero-gravity effect of “dangling stuff on strings” is lame. A mission to Mars (to discover why all other missions to Mars have disappeared) is led by Captain Sano with White Biologist Lisa. They stop for a shower on the moon base, where radio operator Michiko is jealous of the white girl, leaving behind their doctor who wasn’t feeling well, and picking up the whiny, dubbed, panic-prone Dr. Stein. Their ship loses power after they collect a Luminous Object near Mars, and they get a tow home. Of course the object grows into a giant monster that threatens Tokyo, but at least the massive-scale destruction and countless deaths resolve the astronaut love triangle. The cast is mostly nobodies, but the comic relief guy was in an Imamura film, and the guy in charge of ground control is Eiji Okada, star of Hiroshima Mon Amour and Woman in the Dunes.

Fun-loving crew:

The X has a name: Guilala

The flying saucer is a Monty Python fan:

Is it already five years since I watched the series? Afterwards I didn’t want to launch into the movie remakes until there was some evidence that the series would ever be completed, and now that part four has premiered, I’m diving in. It’s been long enough that I’m getting reacquainted with the characters and had forgotten some of the early plotting and the monster battle particulars, but not so long that the whole thing doesn’t feel somewhat redundant despite my poor memory. I guess I’d pictured more of a reimagining, a different style, instead of a minor tweaking of character art and background textures.

Same ol’ story: emo kid saves the world, again and again, becoming increasingly emo. The show is pretty good at mortifying Shinji – the only people who are ever nice to him for saving the world are a couple classmates, and that’s only after they beat him up.

The opening scene is full-on nuts and very fakey looking, but i dunno that you need a sand-dune sailboat being attacked by giant duneworms to look “realistic.” Back in “our world” Milla Jovovich is an elite UN soldier(?) until a desert storm transports her to the monster-hunting world where her team is wiped out and she’s cocooned by skittering creatures in an underground insect Matrix until kidnapped by incredible archer Tony Jaa. She fucks up his shrine and they have a really violent fight, then they join forces and make her an arm-mounted grappling crossbow. “To kill a monster you need a monster.” Lost Boy Ron Perlman joins them, fighting off a stampede with flaming swords, then we go through the kidnapping / friendship thing again to fight a fire-breathing dragon. If I’m making this movie sound unbelievably awesome, that’s only because it is.

50 sword deaths in first couple minutes, a good sign, as unstoppable mustache man slays all his rivals then returns home to slay his hot girlfriend. He turns out to be our narrator Kageyama’s boss. We know he’s gonna gradually introduce K to his elite life, glimpsed when the two visit the boss’s bar, where the blood bartender runs a basement prison forcibly teaching captured yakuza to abandon their tough-guy ways – but the boss comes to an untimely end when a cowboy-hat coffin-backpack outsider shoots him with a chintzy lightning gun then kickboxer Kyoken beheads him.

The badly wounded K is revived by a bite from his vampire boss’s severed head, and not knowing how his new hunger works, he bites a townsperson which quickly unleashes a vampire plague on the town – the vamps act like yakuza and band together to torment (but not bite) the mortal yakuza. Meanwhile, kickboxer and coffin-backpack are joined by a kappa goblin and a frog furry with its own theme song. This is one of Miike’s high-energy crazypants movies, and it’s extremely fun, up there with Blade of the Immortal and Zebraman 2.

Let’s see… there’s also a tough woman named Captain whose head fills with water… K loves a hospitalized blind girl who turns out not to be blind… a sad kid whose father died turns into an enraged revenge-vampire… and there’s a bloody showdown between K and the kickboxer at the end as the frog furry grows city-sized and threatens to destroy the world.

K is Hayato Ichihara, lead/bullied boy in All About Lily Chou-Chou, has grown up to have a cool, severe face. The unblind Riko Narumi was a teen in The Great Yokai War, is also in notably bonkers movies Why Don’t You Play In Hell and Labyrinth of Cinema. The late boss has starred in a few Kore-eda films and Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain. The kickboxer is from Java, and The Raid movies.

“Structural failure is imminent,” says the same calm female computer voice from all these movies. Before any monsters appear, the underwater base already looks crappy, run down with flickering lights, clear Alien influence. Eubank also made The Signal, which I heard was bad.

Captain Cassel:

Disaster in the deepwater drilling base, Kristen Stewart has to do that movie thing where she closes the blast doors because her coworkers won’t make it through in time. Mamoudou Athie (the punk recluse of Patti Cake$) survives with her, then they rescue Paul (T.J. Miller of a Transformers movie) and meet up with the Captain (Vincent Cassel of Eastern Promises). Together, they go through the motions of an underwater-horror movie, escaping from some underwater Silent Hill creatures that I am not buying and then their Leviathan momma.

Miller is good – I guess he was in the series Silicon Valley, which I skipped. After watching Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body, maybe I should make a thing of it and watch other Transformers stars’ horror movies… let’s see, Shia LaBeouf has Disturbia and Wahlberg’s got The Happening, I dunno. Back to the plot: Rodrigo’s helmet was compromised so he implodes. A Game of Thrones actress is in love with a Short Term 12 actor, giving us more people to root for, as loveless Stewart makes the Ultimate Sacrifice to destroy the monsters. Whatever, it was weird and nice to watch people who are capable at their jobs for a little while.