Godzilla (2014)



Put me in, Coach

1) Godzilla vs MUTOs

After Toho temporarily retired the character for a decade, Godzilla finally got a second shot at a major U.S. production in 2014, and it went a damn sight better than the first (as an aside, please stop calling the first attempt the “Matthew Broderick version,” as if it were his fault). Stacked with an overqualified cast, it teases out its big action for a surprising length of time, but ultimately proves worth it for the final showdown. Director Gareth Edwards has a talent for arranging truly iconic imagery and breathtaking setpieces, even if he’s not always quite as good at the connecting tissue between them (2016’s Rogue One would demonstrate both sides of this equation even more strongly).

The Fighters:

  • Godzilla, the legendary Japanese mega-monster. His main weapon is his incredible size & strength, but he has another trick or two up his sleeve. Reinvented here as a primordial alpha predator who has been slumbering in the ocean depths for many years. This makes for an interesting inversion of his traditional origin: rather than being a symbol of the danger of man’s science gone too far, his existence proves how insignificant and helpless we truly are. Also he’s been visually overhauled a bit, looking like what the Internet in 2019 would call a [checks notes] Big Chonky Boi. Played, in motion capture, by stunt performer T.J. Storm.
  • Two MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), a male and female. Ancient parasitic beings who feed on nuclear energy. The female is larger and quadripedal, the male is significantly smaller and can fly using his enormous wings. Both of them, particularly the female, look like a more angular version of the Cloverfield monster, with a facial design that just screams malevolence. Their presence also causes electromagnetic disturbances, rendering most advanced equipment useless. Unfortunately for them, Godzilla is not advanced equipment.


The Setup: The plot’s oddly convoluted, with the MUTOs spawning in separate places, pinging each other with sonar comms, avoiding Godzilla, finding nuclear material to feed on, etc. In the middle of it there’s Aaron-Taylor Johnson playing Ford Brody, a Navy EOD tech who keeps crossing their paths by both bad luck and design, as he eventually links up with the classified government anti-kaiju project which is looking to neutralize the MUTOs.

It all comes to a head in San Francisco (Brody’s home town, of course), where the MUTOs have stashed their unhatched brood, having had presumably hideous sex at some point offscreen. Brody is there with a special forces detachment to retrieve a nuclear warhead (long story), and Godzilla arrives to kick the MUTOs’ asses, apparently just on general principle.

As night descends, the monsters’ destruction makes for essentially continuous dust everywhere. It’s foggier than the draw distances on a PS1 game, but thankfully in a way that works cinematically (it heightens the menace, surprise and emotions) rather than one designed meant to obscure poor special effects.

When the Big G finally finds his primary target through all the haze, he announces his intentions with a mighty roar.


And now we all know how to say “I’m about to completely wreck your shit” in kaiju

The Fight: Godzilla and the female MUTO charge at each other, and the former immediately dominates. He seizes her by the throat and starts pushing her backwards. Pressing his advantage, he eventually wrestles his enemy to the ground and holds her down with his foot.


“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Godzilla foot stamping on a kaiju face – forever.”

Before he can lean in and finish the job, he is cruelly interrupted by the swooping arrival of the MUTO’s mate. The male stabs Godzilla with his elongated claws, pulling him away. As he works over the shocked hero a bit more, the female has time to get up and ram him.

As we’ll see repeatedly throughout the fight, Godzilla’s real (only?) weakness is his inability to handle multiple foes. He’ll be distracted by an attack from one enemy and divert his focus to it, only to get blindsided by the other one. They’re like heel wrestlers in a match without refs. Cheap! The two launch sustained attacks against Godzilla, each stabbing him with their claws multiple times. It’s brutal.

This is where Brody and the other human troops come in handy. Not far away, they find the villains’ unhatched spawn, and blow it up. Momma MUTO sees the explosion and immediately rushes off to tend to her babies (wow, gender-normative much?), leaving hubby alone with Godzilla for a few minutes before he flies off to join her as well. Big mistake.

The enraged female finds an injured Brody near the site, and figures he’s responsible. But before she can exact her vengeance, everything is suddenly lit by an unnatural blue glow.


Wait, is that…?


Don’t tell me he’s going to…



Yep. Godzilla has finally had enough of this garbage, and decided to charge up & unleash his trademark Atomic Breath. This is a new look for the attack, and strikes the perfect visual/kinetic balance between many of the previous iterations, where it would often be either a regular old gust of flame or something that looked like it came out of the Death Star.

It’s heavy enough to bring the lady MUTO to the ground and stun her significantly. But yet again, Godzilla can’t press his advantage thanks to the return of the male MUTO and his toxic, flying privilege.

Fortunately the female decides to go after the troops trying to dispose of the nuke rather than stick around to help her mate. After some more ripping & tearing, Godzilla is able to fling off the aggressor. As the MUTO circles back around for another pass, Godzilla gets a close-up and you can actually see the angry calculation in his reptilian face as he decides he’s done with this flying a-hole’s shenanigans for good.

So yep, with one thunderous tail strike, Daddy MUTO gets put down for the count. The camera even zooms in as the red light fades from his eyes, leaving no room for doubt.

Unfortunately, the skyscraper Godzilla smashed his opponent into doesn’t hold out long after that kind of structural damage, and crashes down onto the weary hero before he can get out of the way. He appears unable to get up, and collapses near Ford as the latter limps off to rejoin his team. The two exchange a pitiable glance just before Godzilla is engulfed in dust as sorrowful music plays. Could this be the end of Godzilla??


Spoiler: no

Meanwhile, the enraged Mommy MUTO is off killing the soldiers who were trying to dispose of the warhead. Brody tries to sneak it away in a boat, but she finds him and shuts down the boat’s motor. Injured and exhausted, Brody gamely levels his service pistol at the monster’s ugly face. But he doesn’t get the chance to pull the trigger before she suddenly seizes up.

It is, of course, Godzilla, emerging from the fog to chomp down on her shoulder. He then yanks her upright, pries open her jaws, and breathes atomic fire down her throat until it cuts her head off.

It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

He then lets out a triumphant roar and flings her severed head aside. I’d say he’s earned the flex.

The day is saved. Brody reactivates the boat so the nuke can detonate way out at sea, and Ford escapes by helicopter. Godzilla, truly exhausted now, limps farther to the shore and collapses.

As the dust clears and people begin to re-emerge, Godzilla’s body lies still for many hours, and the people of San Francisco probably assume they’re stuck with 5,000 tons of monster corpse in addition to the twenty 9/11s’ worth of cleanup they’re already looking at.

But, duh, Godzilla is never down for the count. Right before the eyes of the scientists who’ve been tracking him for years, Godzilla awakens and stands once again, trudging with weary dignity out of the city he just saved. (Well, mostly saved.) The crowds cheer and the news labels him a hero. Before returning to the ocean from whence he came, Godzilla lets out one final, majestic roar, reminding us puny humans that there’s only ONE king of the monsters.


And don’t you friggin’ forget it.

This is everything you want from a kaiju throwdown: there’s majesty, there’s menace, there’s fun. The humans are present but don’t take up too much time. There are twists & turns. The action hits hard and mean. There’s a fantastic finish. This is the kind of movie you walk out of feeling like you need a cigarette.

Grade: A

Relevant links: Godzilla returns this summer for a clash with the three-headed space dragon King Ghidorah, whose list of aliases on Wikipedia sound like a track listing from the best metal album ever made. Let’s hope it delivers.

Coming Attractions: It may take half a decade, but I always deliver.


Hungry for a beatdown

Super Mario Boss Fights (series retrospective, 1985-1995)

Here we goooooooo!


Rock those primary colors, son.

Super Mario Bros (series retrospective, 1985-1995)

Finally– the series so modestly amusing it took almost five years! We’re back with an overview of the boss-fighting career of Japan’s role model to Italian-Americans everywhere. That being the eponymous…

  • Mario, full name Mario Mario. An erstwhile plumber turned fantasy kingdom rescuer, in addition to being a multi-sport enthusiast, tournament fighter, go-kart racer, dubiously qualified doctor, and easily the world’s greatest overalls model. Diminutive yet powerful & agile, from a gameplay perspective Mario is, as we will soon see, most defined by his mobility; he was, after all, originally named Jumpman. Voiced, eventually, by Charles Martinet, but truly the creation of gaming legend Shigeru Miyamoto.

Let’s note a few things up front:

  • This two-part retrospective will cover Mario’s main line, platforming, console games only. That means none of the handheld games, quality though they often are, as well as nothing like Smash Bros or games he’s had cameos in. There’s only so many hours in the day, guys.
  • We won’t be including Donkey Kong. It’s before Mario became, well, super— the degree of control offered to players in the first SMB blows away not only Donkey Kong but pretty much every platforming game at the time, too. Also, the climactic encounter with the titular ape stretches the definition of “fight” well beyond it’s breaking point.
  • I’m well aware that several of these games allow you to play as characters other than Mario, who sometimes have differing controls. I’m not grading their versions of those fights as well; please see the justification in the first bullet.
  • I’m not going to include the Bob Hoskins movie, smartass.

1) Super Mario Bros


Mario Fights: Bowser, King of the Koopas. A vaguely dragon-esque monster with fire-breathing powers.

The Setup: Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach.

The Fight: Fights, plural, depending on how you look at it. The original SMB has eight worlds, which each have four levels, and the fourth is always a dark & imposing castle with the same boss at the end. But the first seven are impostors, the real Bowser having loaned his power to a low-level minion.

Regardless, they all play out in the same basic structure, which actually begins before the boss is even in sight. As Mario approaches the end of each castle, large fireballs will start coming his way, traveling in a straight line from wherever he’d been positioned at the time the projectile entered the screen. This element is one of the reasons Super Mario Bros is still so lauded and broke such ground at a time when games’ capacity to tell stories was so much more limited: the fireballs are not just a practical hazard for the player to avoid, but a menacing sign that the hero is approaching his dangerous goal. (And in the later castles which feature some navigational tricks, they’re a sign you’re on the right track.) Soon enough you’ll reach the fighting arena, and find Bowser on the other end of a long drawbridge. He continues to breathe fire at you while pacing & jumping in a slow but unpredictable pattern.

Mario himself has limited offensive power, leaving the player to basically two ways to defeat every Bowser. If you’re skilled/lucky enough to have made it all the way through the fortress fully powered up, you can launch a few fireballs of your own until Big Ugly goes down. If not, you have to get on the other side of him (either by running under or going over him) and hit the axe he’s guarding, which cuts the drawbridge and sends the boss falling to his fiery doom. Game journalist Chris Kohler has pointed out that while Bowser’s facial expression never changes, the same wide leer on his face that was intimidating at the beginning of the fight turns comically pathetic when you see him briefly suspended in mid-air like Wile E Coyote before he falls– again, early game designers had to convey a lot using very little. In another nice touch, you won’t get to see the illusion revealed (the specific underling who’s filling in for the king) unless you use your own fireballs to kill him.

It’s not so simple, of course. The first couple tries are basically gimmes, with even a floating platform above Bowser to help you get past him. But as you progress through the game, the fight gets increasingly hazardous: the platform disappears, bricks are above your head to limit jumping, there’s a rotating fire pole on the far end, etc. By the sixth iteration, the Bowsers are throwing whole cascades of hammers at Mario in an arc.


Getting past the guy requires mastery of Mario’s momentum and a keen sense of timing. Or having kept at least one power-up, running right into him, and then using the invincibility frames to walk past him, if you are a coward.

Yep, you fight the same thing eight times in a row, assuming you don’t warp. (Warping is not for cowards. Again: time is precious, people.) But each fight makes excellent, and iterative, use of limited assets. The presentation is excellent, building a fittingly intimidating atmosphere. And getting through it means mastering Mario’s limited move set.

Grade: B+

2) Super Mario Bros 2 (Japanese original, aka The Lost Levels)

I’m not going to cover this garbage game.

3) Super Mario Bros 2 (USA version)


I can’t believe it’s 2019 and Mario Madness still hasn’t been added to the DSM

The aforementioned garbage game barely had any involvement from Miyamoto and its design principle was basically “what if the original game, except not fun?” By the time Nintendo games were being slowly brought over to the U.S., the company decided to ditch that noise and apply the Mario characters (along with a few other significant tweaks) to a non-Mario game called Dream Factory: Heart-Beating Panic, itself created as a promotional tie-in to a legendary media technology expo & festival that’s quite fascinating in its own right. The resulting game had a whole different aesthetic and mechanic than the real sequel as well as the subsequent ones, but it’s also certainly more successful than bringing over that one would have been, and– most importantly– much more fun. U-S-A! U-S-A!

(It should be noted that at the time, this sort of thing wasn’t unheard of for sequels to big games. Look at the radical departures in play style between the first & second Legend of Zelda or Castlevania games. Formulas weren’t set in stone yet.)

Mario Fights: Wart, a rotund bipedal frog who shares my distaste for vegetables. Originally known as Mamu, as in “your Mamu so fat, she look like the bad guy in a Mario game.”


“He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”

The Setup: Wart has conquered the kingdom of Subcon, a dreamlike land with a vaguely Arabian theme. Mario & company embark on a campaign to systematically (or, again, not so systematically if you warp) take down all his henchmen throughout seven worlds before finally facing off against the big toad himself. Also it’s all a dream anyway.

The Fight: Wart is situated in an odd but visually striking chamber, with phantom masks lining the walls and the world’s healthiest pipe organ in the center. He waddles back & forth on a raised platform on the far right, occasionally spitting out a stream of toxic bubbles at the hero.

Fortunately, he provides the player with ample weaponry, in the form of vegetables being spouted regularly from the aforementioned pipes. Cram a handful of those disgusting things down his throat, and he’s toast.

It’s not quite so simple, though: the vegetables will be dissolved if they come into contact with the bubbles, and the bubble-spewings & vegetable-launchings will frequently line up in such a way so that happens before you can even grab one. Or they don’t get dissolved, but Mario can’t reach them because the bubbles will block his path. And of course the only time Wart’s mouth is open is when he attacks, so your timing has to be pretty good.

When he finally bites the big one, Wart turns grey and tumbles off the screen, leaving Mario and pals to free the Subcon. Afterwards, as the heroes exult in their victory, the liberated masses crowd-surf an already battered Wart for some offscreen revolutionary violence.


Sic semper tyrannis.

Environmentally, this doesn’t quite work. It makes sense for Bowser to have a drawbridge in all of his castles, even if it doesn’t for him to stand on it so precariously and hope  no visitors have seen the climax of Temple of Doom. But Wart situating himself in a chamber that’s regularly churning out the thing he’s weakest to? Kinda silly. But his chamber is impressively weird, and the short musical loop is just nerve-jangling enough to not get annoying (and is even better in the Japanese original, thanks to the Famicom Disk System’s superior audio channels).

It comes down to a test not just of the player’s platforming reflexes, but also in having mastered the game’s new throwing mechanic. It also throws in the extra curveball of the veggies having to be plucked from mid-air, rather than removed from the ground.

A fun and compact little challenge, but a bit underwhelming as a final boss, especially in comparison to Bowser’s overall presentation.

Grade: B

4) Super Mario Bros 3


Mario Fights: Back to Bowser, who returns for pretty much the long haul at this point.

The Setup: Bowser dispatched his minions to ravage seven other sub-kingdoms and magically disfigure their rulers. Then he kidnapped Princess Peach.

The Fight: In a nod to the original, the approach to the showdown features a return to those menacing fireballs, although this time Bowser’s in a separate room you have to access by a door so where the heck are they coming from? I’m beginning to think these games aren’t very realistic.

This time, the big guy’s got more than fireballs up his sleeve. Bowser’s primary offensive capability is now his mobility. After tossing off a few projectiles, he’ll quickly jump to wherever Mario is standing and then even more quickly slam down to the ground. You have to think fast, because if you’re too far to one side the only way to get out of Bowser’s path will be to jump toward him just as he’s jumping at you. Plus, the boss will all too frequently shoot another fireball just as he leaps, making it so you’re avoiding a projectile at the same time.


But Bowser’s newfound speed & strength are also his downfall (literally). There are study support columns on either side of the chamber, but the majority of the arena is made of bricks that Bowser will break when he lands. In addition to progressively complicating the battle by altering your footing at every turn, the player will quickly realize that the goal is to get Bowser to break enough unsupported blocks in the middle until he plows right through the bottom and plummets to his demise with a satisfying thud.

Alternately, if you’re good enough to make it to the arena with a Fire Flower suit or the much rarer Hammer Brother suit (both difficult, since the platforming in the castle cries out for the racoon tail’s steadying hand) you can take out the big guy much more quickly with projectiles of your own.

It’s nice to see a return to form here, with gravity being your default weapon against Bowser. The sprite design & animation on him is top-notch this time out, and the music is a blast. This will be the last time in a while this silly cartoon dragon-thing will actually seem genuinely evil & dangerous– an even more impressive feat considering he’s trying to hit you with his butt.

But certain things are lacking as well. Aside from the way Bowser’s stomps keep changing the terrain, the actual arena is pretty non-descript, and the mechanics of the fight don’t really utilize the innovations of SMB3 in any notable way. This is serviceable and fun, but nothing ground-breaking.


Also, the princess has brought some “jokes” this time

Grade: C+

5) Super Mario World


Mario Fights: Bowser

The Setup: Bowser went to a new kingdom called Dinosaur Land and imprisoned a lot of the residents in eggs. Then he kidnapped Princess Peach.

The Fight: After getting through all of the big guy’s multiple-choice castle, Mario will have to thread his way through a dimly lit staging area before he finds himself facing off with Bowser up on the roof. The preliminary fireballs are sadly no more, but that’s not all that’s changed.


Yep, the King of Koopas has decided to go all-in on a weaponized, inverted helicopter that is also a clown. Clowns don’t fit Bowser’s own personal aesthetic or really anything else in the game, but these are the things you just quietly roll with when you’re playing this as a kid. The vehicle is officially known as the Koopa Clown Car, and it seems at first that they missed an opportunity to do that thing where they deliberately misspell the next two words to make them start with K for wacky matching purposes (e.g., “X-treme X-Men”) until you remember how acronyms work.

But what they ditched in coherence (and musical quality) they made up for in complexity, because this boss fight comes in multiple stages. In the first, Bowser swoops down low enough to hurt you only if you’re jumping, and will periodically drop two Mechakoopas down at Mario as an additional hazard. Mario can first neutralize these by jumping on their heads and then, in a move the bad guy really should have foreseen, throw them right back at Bowser for damage. It’s not exactly easy: if the projectile hits the underside of the clown car it’ll bounce right back, so you have to time & angle your throw just right so that it falls on his head as it comes back down. (Or line it up just right so it hits his face without touching the vehicle, if you’re a real sharpshooter.)

After a couple hits, Bowser will rear back and come flying forward right “into” the screen before disappearing, with Nintendo showing off their new system’s fancy Mode 7 tech. He’ll drop a series of flames while he’s gone, and then return for another round. In the second face he stays up high and will regularly stop to turn the KCC upside down and drop an enormous steel ball that’s somehow bigger than the vehicle that had been carrying it. Those are easy enough to dodge, but doing so while also angling your Mechakoopa throws can be a pain.


(In between phases, the captive Princess Peach will briefly break free from somewhere deep in the TARDIS-like clown car and toss a super mushroom to Mario regardless of whether he needs it. So it’s nice she gets to contribute a little bit, even if she was apparently stashed somewhere by Bowser’s stinky feet and an unlimited supply of Indiana Jones’ second-worst nightmare.)

In the third stage, the KCC’s serene paint job will turn angry, and start bouncing up & down at severe but predictable angles, which has gotta be a real pisser on the suspension. Bowser’s not mad enough to stop throwing Mechakoopas though, so if you can keep up with the pace, in just a couple more hits he’ll go down for the count, leaving Mario and his lady friend to go take a stroll through Yoshi’s world in peace.

For the fourth time now, a Mario game has concluded with a boss fight in a single-screen room, and that gets harder to accept as the games themselves get more expansive and mobile. And unusually, any power-ups Mario has retained don’t really play a part in this: the only way to hurt Bowser is via the ammo he provides. The fight’s emphasis on verticality and its use of Mario’s new ability to throw projectiles upward are its only major innovations.

Also, those Mechakoopas look so thin that one dropping on your head would be a mild annoyance, at best.

Grade: B-

6) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island


This prequel is only barely a Mario game, since you actually play as Yoshi for virtually all of it (with baby Mario in tow) and in Japan it wasn’t even labeled as a Super Mario World sequel. But I choose to include it because that’s the level of dedication I have for all my fans, including the Patrons I can currently count on zero fingers. Also because the game low-key rules.

Mario Yoshi Fights: Bowser… in toddler form.

The Setup: Mario’s future rival isn’t actually much of a force for the majority of the game; the main threat is his servant/caretaker Kamek, a Magikoopa who orchestrated the successful kidnapping of Mario’s brother Luigi. So it’s actually a bit of a surprise when, after a tribe of Yoshis has finished round-robining their way through a series of Crayola-ass levels escorting baby Mario to his hapless brother, the final Yoshi enters Kamek’s lair and disturbs the nap of a spoiled little boy Bowser.

The young king dismisses Kamek rather forcefully for trying to rein him in, and initiates a fight because HE wants to be the one to ride Yoshi. This is not only weirdly hilarious, but it’s also another perfect fusion of gameplay & story: it fits Bowser’s character because it’s the actions of a spoiled brat, and it’s also mechanically threatening because baby Mario is exposed to harm when he’s separated from Yoshi’s back (in this game, the player-controlled Yoshi can’t be killed by enemies, but touching a hazard will displace Mario, who will be snatched by enemies if he’s not retrieved quickly enough, thus causing a “death” for the player).


The Fight: And he gets right to it! Bowser sets off the fight by leaping through the air and slamming himself down on Yoshi’s back. He looks pleased as hell until you can throw him off by grabbing baby Mario back, and little Bowser will try again. This is actually his main attack for this stage of the fight, and it’s brilliant not just because of how it retroactively foreshadows his moveset for SMB3, but also positions him as an equal to Yoshi, who can use a similar buttstomp.

That’s actually the way to beat him here, too– Yoshi’s supply of projectile eggs just bounce off lil’ Bowser’s tough face, and jumping on him just makes him pause. But when either hero or villain stomps on this soft floor, it will send ripples in either direction, and timing them just right will cause damage to the villain’s soft tummy. Do this enough times and he goes down, but by then Kamek has recovered and gives his liege a crucial assist: the same enlarging spell he’s been casting over all the “normal” minions at the end of each sub-world to provide the player a boss about as big as a truck. A seemingly more potent spell than usual, too, because this time it grows the little brat to kaiju size and he trashes the castle everyone was standing in.


“Let them fight.”

Big Boy Bowser starts off in the distance, not on the same vertical or horizontal plane this time, and slowly advances forward. His initial attack drops a few boulders which eliminate chunks of the ground, and later on he’ll do it again to leave you with increasingly less room to stand. Every few steps he’ll stop and breathe out some off fireballs (they’re back!), which, due to the combatants’ positioning, come at both Yoshi and the “camera.”

Yoshi hurts Bratzilla by launching some conveniently supplied jumbo eggs at his face, which is more difficult than you might think: you have to get the arc of your shots just right, and his walking can throw off your timing, as can having to dodge projectiles and boulders. Each shot will push him back a bit, but he always rallies and will always rush up very close to the heroes before the fight ends.

Hard to overstate how brilliantly this all comes together. Bowser starting off in the distance and slowly getting bigger, while still being an actual sprite with a hitbox and everything, was at the time a much more technically impressive feat than you might realize. Unlike a lot of early SNES games which used their new capabilities just as a bit of visual flash and nothing else (e.g., the way SMW’s Koopa Clown Car would depart the screen), this uses the graphical tricks in service of the gameplay and overall presentation: the boss’ sheer size is established immediately, and he only gets scarier as he approaches. Launching projectiles at him along the same axis brings a new element to the table.

The bigger enemy, bigger eggs, and faux-3D all make the encounter feel grander and more powerful, even though fundamentally the fight is still just a test of the same skills  you’ve been practicing throughout the game. Between the two stages of the battle, there’s no significant mechanic in the game which doesn’t get used. This is exactly how a boss fight should work: building on what you’ve done already while dramatically raising the stakes. And Yoshi’s Island ingeniously deploys its relatively limited tech to pull that off perfectly.

Strangely for a fight in which Mario himself is only a spectator, this is easily the most impressive Super Mario boss fight to date.

Grade: A

That’s a natural enough stopping place for part one. Cumulatively these games represent a big part of many gamers’ formative experiences, and it’s always interesting to look back at those with a critical eye. Thoughts on the franchise overall will come later.

By the way, now that you’re here, don’t be shy about going to my new Patreon. The site is a joy, but it’s a draining one, and any amount you can spare would be a big help.

Coming Attractions: Welcome to the third dimension.


“Go ahead, pull-a my face”

I’m back, and I want your money

Hi there, true believers! Your eyes do not deceive you, your princess is not in another castle: there is in fact a new post on this dusty blog!

I’m not dead, at least I don’t think so, nor did I turn into some fight-hating pacifist. Time & responsibilities just caught up with me, and the blog’s backburner status slowly became semi-permanent. But it’s a new year… well, technically it’s the fifth new year since I went quiet, and therefore a slightly different landscape for content creators these days. To that end, I’ve created a Patreon for this site. To pre-emptively answer a few hypothetical questions:

  • Don’t worry: no matter what you choose to donate or not donate, you will still have access to all of this site’s new and old material
  • The Patreon is operating on a per post basis, not a monthly one, so Patrons will not be on the fiscal hook for any future gaps in content
  • Posts will continue at roughly the same pace as before when possible (or when it’s not a holiday, etc): no more than two per week, and sometimes only one, if it’s a Retrospective. And I won’t gouge subscribers by covering fights for a subject I would normally skip, nor will administrative updates (like this one) count as Patron posts.

Any amount, even as small as a dollar, that you can give would be welcome. Thanks for sticking around this long, and if all goes according to plan we’ll get back into the swing of things by this time next week. Keep fighting!

— Eric


Sorry for the lack of updates again, folks. Been a busy few weeks here and haven’t had time to prepare the next entry.

Without getting into the weirdness of my schedule, I often have lots of time to write the actual blog posts, but the process of prepping them (taking notes on and getting screen-grabs from scenes) is considerably more involved and I usually only have small windows of time to get that done. Last time such a window opened, I had only just gotten the first season of True Detective on Bluray, and I thought, “okay, I’ll just watch a few episodes of this real quick, then get some work done” and next thing you know, I was up all night watching literally the entire thing. Sorry.

Meanwhile, here’s some possibly interesting blog stats.

By hits, as of now the five most popular individual entries on this blog (besides the main page, anyway) are:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (fight 1 of 6)

The Raid: Redemption (fight 5 of 5)

Rocky (series retrospective)

The Rundown (fight 3 of 4)

The Rundown (fight 1 of 4)

The first three are no surprise, I suppose, but the love I’ve seen for The Rundown far surpasses what I expected when I first wrote about it. I also get a lot of search result hits on it. Seems it’s grown into more of a cult hit than I realized, which is fine by me. Maybe we’ll finally get that sequel soon.

The five least popular individual entries (omitting a testing post and a simple exhortation to go see Pacific Rim are:

Dark City

One Piece, Alabasta arc (fight 5 of 6)

One Piece, Alabasta arc (fight 1 of 6)

One Piece, Alabasta arc (fight 2 of 6)

Superman vs The Elite (fight 2 of 4)

Lesson: Don’t write about cartoons. Well, to be fair, most of those are much newer so they haven’t had as much time to garner hits yet, and they’re all at least somewhat obscure.

I tried to look up which categories/subjects have the most clicks, but it seems WordPress doesn’t offer stats on that, unfortunately.

The most-commented entries are:

Thor (fight 4 of 4)

Rob Roy (fight 2 of 2)

The Rundown (fight 4 of 4)

Brotherhood of the Wolf (fight 1 of 5)

Star Wars, Prequel Trilogy (retrospective, part 2 of 2)

Those last three are a three-way tie at five, incidentally. Also I reply individually to most comments and none of them have broken the single digits, so this doesn’t exactly prove much.

WordPress doesn’t let me organize my post lists by the number of Likes, but since those numbers are even lower than the comments so no big loss there. Glancing through it seems the winners are tied at four Likes apiece: The Mask of Zorro (fight 5 of 5) and Super Metroid. The latter is probably because I linked to it in the comments of a popular video game site; the former is probably because it was such a great scene, and a real joy to write.

Also, I started another “blog,” though it’s really just a one-off place to store a small essay I wrote a few months ago. It’s much more “serious” in tone than this site so I’m not guaranteeing you’ll like it if you’re a fan of GFS, but just in case you do, here it is.

Hopefully I’ll have the retrospective on Fearless up next week. Also, the new Godzilla movie can’t come out on video soon enough– I’m going to grade the living crap out of that.

And what brings you here? … oh.

I don’t know about other blog systems, but WordPress has this nice feature where it tells you what search terms (though not all of them; apparently it doesn’t interface with certain search engines) have brought people to your site. Or maybe just which search results your site has popped up in, I’m not sure.

For my site, most of these are quite predictable– “connor kurgan highlander,” “best rocky fight scene” etc. But some of them are a bit… unexpected, or just downright unconventional. I figured that as another part of celebrating the blog’s anniversary month, I’d share some of the more eyebrow-raising ones I’ve noticed. What follows is that list, with any commentary from me in brackets. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


julie san karate kid

gamera turtle justice league unlimited

catfights stomping & kicking using feet

porn movies with action and fighting scenes [That’s one tag I haven’t used yet.]

what is written on becks gun in the run down

punch count rocky movies

picfic rim filght secne

vegeta it ain’t ralph level

pinned by sex mako 53

prince humperdink villain or not [Ha ha, seriously?]

morpheus and niobe wedding

a metallurgical history of ancient sword making by brenda wyatt book cover

shirtless comics “stripped to the waist” punishment whipping army

movie world gone wild from 80’s guy getting chomped by dog

star wars prequels are unwatchable

rob roy faces like this are why punching [Glad to see that caption’s catching on.]

beckwith mashup(boss)2013

surf ninjas black guy

how to make unhurtable traps

hoc vs thor

apollo knock rocky down

yari film 2013 wayne gretzky [On steroids?]

what grade 2 looks like on a man all over

end of eighties fighting comics man fighter could transform into bigger muscles

what is the name of the katana-toting scotsman in the original “highlander” movie?

2 dragons fighting over sex

april o’neil unconscious

are there alot of fight scenes in ironman 3 [Nope.]

tmnt shredder stabbed raph how did it begin

miss march unrated scenes

peterpan records superman vs the elite

where can you find an omnidroid

film where human fights alien where computer adjusts fighters strength to make it a fair fight

the incredibles-sexy elastigirl in her costume observes her butt

helen parr tied up and gagged

who is the real hero of transformers movie series optimus prime or sam witwicky

was camera work good for movie thor

ninja hattori anus


Tired blogger needs a break

Hey folks. You may have noticed there were no updates last week; there also won’t be any updates this week.  Without getting into the vagaries of my work schedule, home life and overall down time, I often have very small windows in which to obtain, watch, and take notes/screen grabs on subjects. This past few weeks, for various reasons, it just wasn’t happening.

At the moment I have two entries in the can and will hopefully be able to start some more drafts soon, so next week we should be able to return to a regular schedule of two entries (or one long entry) per week, so fear not.

Not that I’m getting a lot of desperate queries as to where the content went, or imagining that people are even wondering it; curiously, even as my page views have gone up dramatically this year, reader feedback has gone down. Writers are a needy bunch, so feel free to Like, comment, or share an entry which catches your interest.

Meanwhile, this month marks the one-year anniversary of the blog. Wow! That snuck up on me. I have to say it’s been a fun ride, with about 35 different subjects covered and 120 entries. I’ve enjoyed the reader feedback I have received so far and I’m happy if I’ve entertained or enlightened any of you, but I’m equally happy just for the opportunity to examine at length a topic I love and to have a place to express myself. (Finding even a minor way to monetize this project would be great as well, but getting ads on WordPress seems to be a harder process than I was led to believe.) So the blog’s birthday is just as good an excuse as any to take a two-week break.

Keep reading,



I just got back from my local Alamo Drafthouse, and I have one VERY IMPORTANT message for the GFS community:





Not later. This weekend. Send Hollywood the right message.