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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Rented Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S. with my brother a few nights ago, and it's vaulted into my list of really, really good Godzilla films.

It's got MechaGodzilla, with Mothra (and larva!) as well. It's got top-notch special effects and fight sequences, and some fun characters. I love how the Godzilla movies assume there's an entire giant monster ecology out there. Near the beginning of the film a dead turtle about 40 metres long washes up on the shores of Japan (don't worry, it's not Gamara) and the general reaction is "Hey, we haven't seen one this big in years!".

I also love the fact that the main character is a mechanic who's trying to rebuilt MechaG after the pummeling he got in the previous movie, leading to lots of behind-the-scenes giant robot goodness. Typical exchange:

Government Official: You have to get the Absolute Zero System (super freeze weapon) working again!

Harried Scientist: I could fix it tomorrow! All I need is a synthetic diamond 1.25 meters across!

Government Official: We are on a budget, you know!

The movie also comes with a behind-the-scenes feature, showing all the model work and costume effects that went into the movie. I commented to my brother just how fake it all looks on the set, whereas he correctly answered that all movies look fake once you pull the camera back enough.

What's funny is that CBC was showing the 1975 MechaGodzilla movie the next night. This one isn't on my list of good Godzilla films, being about the third or fourth in a row where aliens were controlling Godzilla so they could take over the Earth, a concept the studio ran completely into the ground.

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whereas he correctly answered that all movies look fake once you pull the camera back enough.

Plus the behind-the-scenes doc is usually video rather than film, so the colour/light balance is quite different.

I once saw part of a British series on the human body, and as usual the making-of-the-series episode was the most interesting; I particularly liked going behing the scenes of a sequence they did for the opening episode in which they panned across a line of 100 non-professional models ranging in age from a few weeks to 100 years. Not only do you get to hear assistants frantically running around the location saying things like "we're still missing a sixteen-year-old and a fifty-four-year old," but they cut back and forth between the scene as viewed through the film camera (wonder and variety of the human form poetically on display as sunbeams filter through the forest canopy overhead) and as viewed through the digital camera (bunch of naked Brits trying to not shiver as they stand around in a damp wood).

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