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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: 3 Godzilla titles



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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted October 19 2004 - 05:39 PM

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Godzilla against Mechagodzilla

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Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Year: 2002
Rated: Unrated
Film Length: 88 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: color
Languages: Japanese, English (both DD 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French
MSRP: $24.96
Release date: October 19


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Godzilla vs. Hedorah
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Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Year: 1971
Rated: PG
Film Length: 86inutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio: DD 2.0
Color/B&W: color
Languages: Japanese, English
Subtitles: English, French
MSRP: $24.96
Release date: October 19


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Godzilla vs. Gigan
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Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Year: 1972
Rated: PG
Film Length: 89 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio: DD 2.0
Color/B&W: color
Languages: Japanese, English
Subtitles: English, French
MSRP: $24.96
Release date: October 19


The Features

Godzilla movies speak their own bizarre language. Special effects that obviously and openly rely on cut-rate miniatures; guys in poorly crafted monster suits slapping each other around; clunky, socially conscious plots that go nowhere – it’s definitely an acquired taste.

I would venture, in fact that most people who claim to enjoy the classic Godzilla sequels (there are many) haven’t spent a whole lot of time actually watching them. And how could you really, for all the reasons mentioned above? Camp with nothing else to support it only succeeds as entertainment for so long.

I’m reviewing these three Godzilla titles together, but while two of them, from the early seventies, are essentially identical, the third (“Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla”) is a recent release. Whether this makes it “better,” I cannot say. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I will waste little time describing Godzilla as a cultural artifact. The significance of the original “Godzilla,” which is easily read as a political parable, is well known. Godzilla vs. Hedorah makes that thinly-veiled commentary appear hopelessly ambiguous and vague. The plot revolves around a young boy and his father, a scientist. They discover that pollution and waste are accumulating to form what appears to be a giant tadpole with some behavioral issues. Naturally, the father swims out to sea to find it.

Various plot contrivances ensue, none of which make any sense whatsoever. Eventually, Godzilla shows up to fight Hedorah, the sludge monster. Why? I have no idea. But many tiny cities made of cardboard and Styrofoam are destroyed.

I was occasionally entertained by Godzilla’s fundamental weirdness. He seems frequently to be trying to communicate something by waving his tiny arms, touching his mouth and swaying from side to side. Whether he’s apologizing for all the property damage I cannot say, but he does seem to have a personality of sorts.

In an odd twist, the film takes too long getting to the fight, and then spends too long chronicling it. The whole plot and all the characters seem to be designed to stretch the running time out to something close to ninety minutes. Oh, and we’re ruining the environment. If you want to keep Hedorah from bashing boats in half and sliming your house, you’ll stop throwing trash over the side of your yacht immediately.

Godzilla vs. Gigan uses the same formula – pad the running time, make no sense – to similar effect. It pretty much drops the social responsibility nonsense in favor of a plot about an effete young cartoonist who is hired by a nefarious Godzilla theme park. Run by aliens, I think. It’s kind of hard to follow.

The theme park is secretly building a giant robot to kill Godzilla. There are some other monsters, identified on the packaging as King Ghidorah and Anguiris. They both look like nuclear dinosaurs, which I suppose is the point. The result is a tag-team showdown of sorts.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is the new addition to the Godzilla legend. The Japanese military has completed a robot Godzilla that, they hope, will beat the hell out of the non-robot Godzilla.

The protagonist is young woman who has suffered great dishonor for making bad decisions in a fight against Godzilla. The effects here are so far ahead of those in the other two film that there’s really no comparison. On every level, the film eschews the campy gibberish of the Godzilla films of old and attempts to make something of itself. It’s every bit as good as the American “Godzilla” remake.

Which is not to say it’s actually good. The plot attempts to be compelling, as the soldier seeks redemption for her mistakes and a little girl wanders around the Mechagodzilla complex with a symbolic fichus. Do I need to tell you that she’ll make a heartfelt, prophetic pronouncement about the H-bomb?

Video
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Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Nobody will be picking up either of the two seventies-era titles for the picture quality – I mean, the whole thing was made using toy cars, after all. Even so, they look far better, particularly color-wise, than what I remember from afternoon TV as a kid. This is particularly the case with “Hedorah.” The early scene by the ocean, as the boy waits for his father to return from the bottom of the sea, is actually quite beautiful. In both older colors, all the special effects shots look dreadful, as crummy colors and bad detail were used to obscure the crummy costume design and use of miniatures.

“Mechagodzilla,” shot on better stock and with far better effects, is actually quite a good transfer, considering the essential stupidity of the whole enterprise. The initial Godzilla sequence, staged at night, is very attractive, with good blacks. There’s some ringing in later scenes, as when Mechagodzilla goes nuts and starts blowing up buildings for no particular reason. The color palette is quite attractive throughout the film, and the disc makes it even more so.

Audio
Godzilla vs. Hedorah Posted Image :1/2
Godzilla vs. Gigan Posted Image 1/2
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image 1/2

The 5.1 track on the newer title stands out for its good use of surround effects in the many action scenes, particularly when planes attack Mechagodzilla. The other two titles are shrill and irritating.

Special Features

Each disc contains various Previews.


Conclusion
Godzilla vs. Hedorah Posted Image 1/2
Godzilla vs. Gigan Posted Image 1/2
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Posted Image Posted Image 1/2

Only Godzilla fans will have any real interest in these titles. For collectors, these should be available in the $5 bins sooner rather than later. I was hoping to enjoy the seventies titles more than I did, on a semi-intentional comedy level. Unfortunately, the camp gave way rather quickly to boredom, confusion and slumber.

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeff Krispow

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Posted October 19 2004 - 11:59 PM

Just as an FYI, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was not one of the new Godzilla-series DVDs released today (Oct. 19th). In fact, it came out early this year… The DVD that was released today was 1974's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla!

The problem is, thanks to the re-named English titles used for the DVDs, you've got two very different DVDs/film currently on store shelves that both feature an extremely similar title! A lot of people have been apparently been suffering from a case of mistaken identify, and picking up the "incorrect" disc.

Today's October 19th Godzilla-series releases consisted of:
  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1970, Godzilla #11, aka Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster)
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan (1971 Godzilla #12), and
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974, Godzilla #14).
The DVD for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002, Godzilla #26) was actually released back on 03.23.2004, as a follow-up (and sequel) to the 01.27.2004 release of two earlier film series entries:
  • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000, Godzilla #24)
  • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001, Godzilla #25).
The next batch of Godzilla releases is scheduled for 12.14.2004, with:
  • Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003, Godzilla #27), which also includes a Toho-produced Behind-the-Scenes featurette, and
  • Son of Godzilla (1967, Godzilla #8)
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is the most-recent Godzilla film, having been released in Japan last year, and features the final blow-out epic battle between Godzilla, Mothra and Mechagodzilla. As for Son of Godzilla… I shudder just thinking about the horrors contained within that film, as it is one of the worst films in the entire series.

Godzilla 2000 is also getting reissued on 12.14.2004, but right now it's apparently only available within two of three Godzilla Box Set releases (the upcoming Godzilla 5-pack and a 7-pack set). This is a new version of the DVD, which contains the re-edited American cut of the film (+ all the extras from the earlier DVD release) and now includes the original uncut Japanese-language version! I'm sure this will be available for individual sale as well — considering that all the other films are available that way — but Columbia TriStar hasn't announced it yet.

And lastly, sometime next year we should be getting a DVD release of the next Godzilla entry, Godzilla: Final Wars (Godzilla #28), which is currently in post-production in Japan for a 12.04.2004 theatrical release. This is supposed to be the BIG 50th Anniversary Godzilla Blow-Out Movie — he go around the world to battle all his old foes, plus a new Monster X (inspired by HR Giger designs). Toho's assigned a hell of a lot of excellent new talent to work on this film, plus assigned a budget double what they usually give (¥4 billion = ~US$36 million ). Also, this will reportedly will be the last new Godzilla film for approx. a decade, as they want to give the series a break…

And that's all that Godzilla has to say for now…
Jeff Krispow
Retired LD/DVD Reviewer
http://www.laserrot.com
jeff@laserrot.com

#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Larry Fletcher

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Posted October 20 2004 - 01:55 AM

I read over at Monsterzero.org forums that the Japanese audio track will no be included on the re-release of Godzilla 2000. This was confirmed buy a rep from Sony.

About the review, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Posted Image

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Nestor_Ramos

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Posted October 20 2004 - 03:23 AM

Jeff: thanks for weighing in with the great info!

That's very strange, as Sony sent me a copy of "Godzilla against Mechagodzilla," the 2002 film. This is the film they promoted as available for review, and sent out to reviewers. Maybe there's confusion even at the studio.

Larry: I don't begrudge anyone their taste for Godzilla. I just don't completely understand it. Rest assured, however: this marks the end of my Godzilla-reviewing career.

Nestor

#5 of 37 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted October 20 2004 - 03:40 AM

Godzilla vs. Gigan is was also known as "Godzilla on Monster Island" during the 80s.

For $10 Id pick these up but at the prices theyre asking...

#6 of 37 OFFLINE   GregW

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Posted October 21 2004 - 12:30 AM

Nestor: While I sympathize with your role of having to review films you obviously despise, there are two predominate factors as to "why" these movies are such an event for Godzilla fans. The first being a 16 X 9 enhanced presentation and the second, Japanese language tracks.

I always appreciate an honest criticism of a film. Your experience seemed to be so torturous you neglected to mention the real reason anyone should pick these up in the first place.

Here's hoping you never have to watch another G film again Posted Image

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted October 21 2004 - 02:48 AM

As Greg notes, these are truly historic releases. Toho has never, ever, been willing to issue the "Showa" era Godzilla films in the original Japanese and original aspect ratio in America. So these are very important releases to Godzilla fans. You do, however, have to be in the right frame of mind. Posted Image

For a dissenting perspective on Hedorah and Gigan (Columbia for some reason declined to send us a review copy of MechaGodzilla), see my reviews at digitallyObsessed:

http://www.digitally....w.php3?ID=6555

http://www.digitally....w.php3?ID=6556

#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Ed Speir IV

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Posted October 21 2004 - 02:59 AM

Well, I picked up all three of the new DVDs and am completely satisfied. Well worth $ 19.50 each for anamorphic transfers and the original Japanese language track (although I am partial to the English dubs, no matter how awful!).

I think your reviews do an incredible disservice to these releases. This is the FIRST TIME EVER we are getting these films in the OAR and original language.

If you hate Godzilla so much, why review them at all? Pass them along to someone else who can enjoy these films for what they are....

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   ArthurMy

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Posted October 21 2004 - 03:53 AM

I think young people today simply don't "get" the Godzilla films or why they are so loved. That's part of the whole "Internet" reviewing thing. While the mid-sixties and seventies G films are strange, they are also lots of fun and are beloved by those who are kids of that era, in much the same way that some of the worst crap ever made is beloved by children of the eighties. Every day I read here about when will they release such and such eighties film on DVD, and I sit in wonder that anyone could want those films. So, partly it's generational. These ARE historic releases and they should be supported and bought by anyone with even a passing interest in genre films so that we get the rest (especially the original, which I know is coming) and a grand presentation of King Kong vs. Godzilla (Universal, I know) and things like Rodan, The H Man, the original Mothra, etc.

#10 of 37 OFFLINE   Ed Speir IV

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Posted October 21 2004 - 04:16 AM

Good points, ArthurMy. I am 32 (almost 33) and I watched these films religously with my dad when I was growing up. As campy/goofy as it is now, Godzilla vs Megalon is one of my favorite movies of all time!!

I watched Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla with my six-year-old daughter last night and she absolutely loved it (we had already watched several of the newer Godzilla films with the "mean" Godzilla, but this is the first one she watched with the "good" Godzilla)!! She thought the fights were hilarious!!

As we were watching it, I thought about the crappy VHS pan and scan copy I had growing up, and how lucky my daughter was to be able to watch it widescreen and remastered (it probably looks better than it did at the theater when it was released).

That's why these movies are worth it to me.

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Larry Fletcher

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Posted October 21 2004 - 05:01 AM

Most if not all of the Godzilla films from 1970's were geared towards children.

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Jerome Grate

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Posted October 21 2004 - 05:24 AM

Here's my list of titles I owe

Godzilla vs. Meguigarus

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (2002)

Godzilla Monsters All Out Attack

Godzilla vs. Destroyah

Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla

Godzilla King of Monsters, the first release

I plan to get the rest of these films just to own the collection. I'm a huge Godzilla fan and if they sound great excellent, but not necessary for me. It's the content for me, been a fan for years and even saw some of the old ones in theaters in the 70s. Some may be sick of hearing about uspcaling players but the last three releases look absolutely incredible. Especially Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
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#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Steve Phillips

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Posted October 21 2004 - 06:25 AM

I agree with Arthur. I saw most of the 70s era G films as a kid. Even then, I knew they weren't all great cinema, but I still loved them.



Kids of the 80s are snapping up DVDs of stuff like "Saved Like The Bell" and "Punky Brewster", series that are considered among the worst of all time by my generation yet are revered by people ten years younger than myself.



I applaud Toho for finally allowing the Japanese language versions to be released in the U.S, and the fact that the discs are in the original aspect ratios. Somewhat less impressive to me is the fact that in most cases, the English dubs included on the DVDs are the bland ones Toho prepared and not the familiar, and IMHO superior, dubs used in the U.S. releases. This is especially true of GODZILLA VS HEDORAH, in which the infamous English translation of the opening song "Save the Earth" that was in the G vs THE SMOG MONSTER version is absent. It is missed! I guess I'll have to hold on to the older VHS/LD releases of these after all.

#14 of 37 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

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Posted October 21 2004 - 06:39 AM

I, for one, am very excited, especially with the release of the Hedorah disc. We have had to deal with terrible quality pan and scan poorly dubbed and changed (for the USA)movies from Toho for far too long. To have 16x9 letterboxed editions of the Japanese versions (always much better) is going to be a real treat for Godzilla fans. The dubbing has always ruined these films, and made them less serious by hiring terrible voice overs.



I give credit to Toho for keeping alive the "Big monster" type movie. I feel that the latest Godzilla movies are better, as I have gotten older the first ones look somewhat silly, especially where Godzilla would box with other monsters, but the Hedorah movie was different. It was a good story with a big message about pollution, and featured Hedorah (in America called the Smog Monster"), one of the most original monsters Toho created. Sadly, the movie says mono, but according to web sites, the Japanese disc is 5.1, this might be simulated stereo, I am not sure. I would doubt the original was really in stereo.



Many people put down the Godzilla films. There's also a base of millions of worldwide fans that love them, or they wouldn't be coming out almost yearly. I say if you don't want to watch them, it's not forced upon you. But for those who like to sit down and watch good science fiction with the large prehistoric monsters, there simply is no competition. Sadly, this would include the reviewer who reviewed these 3 discs. One would think there is no reason to "waste your time" with these films. I strongly disagree, and the simple fact that Godzilla has become a legend and beloved the world over proves that there are many people who find meaning and entertainment in these films. If you cannot find alot of messages within these films, it is possible to sit down and just watch some good entertainment. I found that he didn't have much to say at all, except to bash the films. I wish he would have sent them to another reviewer who would have been more fair and found some of the merits and enjoyment that millions of fans worldwide see.



I don't argue that there are people who don't like these movies. That's their right, everyone has their right to their opinion...and critics (or so-called) have the right to not enjoy a movie they are reviewing. But most good critics will find in a movie what millions of people enjoy and talk a little about that.



I really love the last 10 films in the series most. The special effects are much better, as are the stories and the actors. The dvd's from Columbia/Tri-Star (of the newer movies) also give the option of the original Japanese language tracks with English subtitles, this is the way I watch them. And the newest films have awesome 5.1 tracks.



To those who havn't seen Godzilla films, don't listen to people who hate the series, try a few out for yourself. You just may have a great time!

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#15 of 37 OFFLINE   GregW

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Posted October 21 2004 - 07:24 AM

Having started this bit of Nestor bashing, I feel obliged to cap it off. The plight of the DVD reviewer is tougher than one might think...you have to be knowledgable on a wide genre of films and their fans. You don't always get to review what you like, but you do have a responsibility to be somewhat respectful to the audience for which the film is intended. Or at least attempt to point out the features that are unique to that release.



And I think that's where this response is coming from. The reviews showed a lack of respect, not only for the films (which is certainly the critic's option to like or dislike), but for the unwritten rules of DVD reviewing in the first place.



There were a few too many insulting comments (intended or not) and not enough meat about what Nestor obviously thought were nearly complete wastes of DVD space.



Nestor seems to be a talented writer. Perhaps everyone should let this one slide and check out some of the other on-line reviews if you need the details.

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   ArthurMy

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Posted October 21 2004 - 09:22 AM

As has been argued here before when I first arrived on this board a couple of months ago, the content part of reviews, here and elsewhere, are not that interesting to me unless I know the reviewer is not too young or if they're young but seem to have a really good knowledge of film and film history (like Herb Kane seems to - as he knows I was very surprised at his age). In this case, and this is not meant in the least as a slight to Nestor, we have a very young person doing a DVD review of a series of films which have no context for him. IMO, he should have just concentrated on the technical portions of the DVDs and left the content portion with a "these aren't my types of films".

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   ChrisJefferys

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Posted October 21 2004 - 01:50 PM

These films have always gotten tons of disrespect (some of it earned, some of it not), so I'm never surprised to see yet someone else take easy potshots at the films. But its no big deal, as long time fans are surely used to it by now. images/smilies/smile.gif I think the majority of Godzilla films are a case of either loving them, or thinking they are incredibly stupid (there is usually no middle ground).



I for one am very happy to see some of these films finally released with great prints, OAR and in Japanese with English subs. It was a LONG time coming, and I give a big thumbs up to Columbia for releasing them this way, and to Toho for finally letting it happen.

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted October 21 2004 - 03:31 PM

Nestor, all I can say is that I am sorry that you had to watch those. You should be allowed to 'bail-out' just because you are not a fan.

It's sort of like a punk-rocker reviewing Bach, or whatever.

Anyway, I have 18 of these on DVD, and can't wait for the rest to come out! That being said, I am still trying to find out what the rest are. Everytime I go to a Godzilla movie list I end up with different titles.

Yeah, I know that some of them have more than 1 title, even after you remove the Japanesse titles (Which I might be able to pronounce if I got drunk)!

I went to 2 lists today, and neither of them have "Terror of Mechagodzilla', which I have on DVD. I am not sure yet, but I think it the same as the new release of 'Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla'.

So I have to ask if the Dec. release of the 'S.O.S.' is the same as 'Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla, which I already have. So, to any takers, what's the 'real' list and how do you know that it is REAL?

Glenn

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted October 21 2004 - 04:07 PM

You guys should really lay off Nestor because, personally, I'd want a non-fans review over a fan review any day of the week. The fans are going to buy these discs but those others who are thinking of trying them out would more than likely react to these films the same way Nestor did. A fan review would have given them the idea that these were "great" films and I'm sure they would have been upset after dropping $20+ a disc. I've gotten in trouble various times for doing "fan" reviews and telling people a certain movie is "good" when in fact it's just a cult film.



I enjoy these Godzilla movies as well as various other films but I certainly don't expect the majority to enjoy them. I love Ed Wood but I'm not expecting everyone to see what I see in them. As Godzilla fans, I'm sure you understand that the cult is very small here so why you were expecting a positive review is beyond me. If Roger Ebert didn't like the film then why should Nestor or anyone else for that matter? The majority see these as bad science fiction films and if Nestor felt that way then there's no need for fans getting upset.



I'd put my movie knowledge up against anyone here and I'm only 24 but that certainly doesn't mean I know everything. You guys obviously know your Godzilla stuff but that doesn't mean you should bash someone who doesn't. His job was to comment on the disc and give an honest opinion and that's exactly what he did. Who cares if his opinion of the movie doesn't match yours? Are you not going to buy the discs because of that?



I for one hope Nestor reviews the upcoming discs because I enjoy hearing from a non-fan of the series. My opinion of the films are the exact same as his and Ebert's yet I still enjoy them enough to watch them. I agree with everything bad said about Ed Wood and Al Adamson but I still enjoy the films. If these discs are really that historic for fans, then perhaps we should talk about the discs and not someone who didn't enjoy the films.



As someone who has reviewed these types of films for over five years, the fans can be quite brutal and as a fan I think you guys have crossed the line. I'm not a die-hard fan of this series but I enjoy learning about them and I'd rather learn about these movies rather than see a reviewer get ripped apart for not liking the films or not knowing their history.

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   ArthurMy

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Posted October 21 2004 - 04:47 PM

Michael, with all due respect, it really isn't necessary for you to defend reviewers every time someone disagrees with them. I believe it should be the right of the readers of this forum to disagree with each other and with you reviewers, as long as they do it in a respectful manner. I don't see any bashing going on here - just disagreement, and all of it seems to me to be very respectfully done. It's not that people wanted a fan's review - they just thought it would be nice to have a review by someone who at least had a little context for the films being reviewed. That is, if I'm reading these comments correctly. Everyone appreciates the hard work you folks put in, but I don't think this would be a very interesting place if everyone just nodded their heads in agreement when they deep-down don't agree. My two, anyway.