Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Godzillapalooza #24: Godzilla 2000 (2000)

Godzilla 2000 (2000)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: 180 feet.
-MASS: 25,000 metric tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: The Godzilla of the 2000 decade has all of the traditional powers of his predecessor; thermonuclear atomic ray breath, super-regenerative power, etc. The Millennium Godzilla also can release a sort of shockwave of radiation from his body and his spines release a great deal of heat when firing his atomic ray.
-BACKGROUND: Godzilla's origins in the Millennium series are the same as always, being that he was created from nuclear radiation. While "Godzilla 2000" makes no real attempts to connect itself to any of the previous movies other than the first one, for the sake of continuity I like to think that this Godzilla is Godzilla Junior from 1995 all grown up and starting his own legacy. Granted, the Millennium Godzilla returns to its Showa roots in that it is much smaller than the Heisei version. I suppose its up to the viewer to make of it whatever they wish. This Godzilla though is consistent throughout the entire Millenium series except for in two movies, but more on that later.


-HEIGHT: 197 feet.
-MASS: 40,000 metric tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Orga's powers are very unorthodox and somewhat tied to Godzilla's, considering it uses Godzilla's DNA to take its monster form. Orga's main powers is a hidden laser beam cannon in its shoulder. It has the ability to heal rapidly like Godzilla and controls its UFO through telepathy. Orga can also absorb an enemies powers and appearance by essentially eating them. Other than that, Orga's powers are mostly physical, such as claws, leaping, and the ability to unhinge its jaw like a snake and swallow large things whole.
-BACKGROUND: Orga is a little complicated to explain, and that's saying something for a Godzilla monster. An alien, called the Millennian, that emerged from the sea after millions of years uses Godzilla's DNA to take an organic form. Half-way through the process, it mutates and becomes the hulking Orga. Orga proceeds to fight Godzilla and loses. That's essentially Orga in a nutshell.

This installment of the Godzilla series follows a father and daughter team called the Godzilla Prediction Network, the photographer that tags along with them, and the leader of the Crisis Control Intelligence. As you might expect, the GPN is committed to studying Godzilla, while the CCI only wants him destroyed. While Godzilla is doing his thing, roaming around Japan unchallenged by the military's efforts, an ancient UFO that (in the words of James Rolfe) "looks like a flying whale turd"rises out of the sea and starts flying around. It takes an interest in Godzilla because of the regenerative power of his cells.  They have a brief tussle and the UFO flies to Shinjuku and lands on top of a tower. The military tries to blow it up, but only further screws up the situation. Eventually Godzilla shows up and round 2 starts. After a little while the UFO transforms and mutates into Orga for a final battle. The battle gets intense and Orga bits Godzilla trying to absorb his DNA and become a clone. Then Orga attempts to swallow Godzilla whole, but Godzilla blows him to bits from the inside. After a triumphant roar, Godzilla kills the arrogant leader of the CCI and marches away into a wall of flame.

Godzilla 2000 was Toho's immediate response and bitch-slap following the American made atrocity in 1998. Overall, it's an average entry in the series and the plot is so-so. But there are still a lot of positives in this movie. First of all, it was a huge breath of fresh air from Toho and it meant that a new series of Godzilla movies had begun. It incorporates almost all of the best elements from Ifukube's original scores from the classics and has some of the best special effects to this point. Godzilla has a fresh new look, including some gnarly dorsal plates and the most badass looking nuclear breath yet. Orga is also a creative and powerful opponent. Anytime Godzilla's on-screen its awesome, but all the other moments are a bit of a snore-fest. Of course this isn't the only Godzilla movie that makes me feel this way.

Most of the characters are whatever, but I do like the little girl in the GPN. She's the most hardcore person in the film and she knows it. The villain leader of the CCI is totally lame and acts like he's an anime character, which is pretty funny. This film also presents some cool new shots and angles that hadn't been used before in a G-movie. Scenes of city destruction are pretty sweet and what you would hope for. This movie also has some pretty cool nostalgic moments of Godzilla just rolling through the military defenses like it's nothing. The Japanese military never learns. This movie also uses a CGI Godzilla for the first time ever (for Toho). It's only in one underwater scene, and it looks pretty crappy. There's really not much else to say about this one. Don't feel too bad if you miss it, unless you're just weird like me and have a thing for collecting these movies. Godzilla 2000 is good, but by no means great.

Best Part:
I've said this so much that including a "Best Part" section is getting very redundant, but the final battle with Orga has got to be the shining moment of this film. It's fun, different, and full of explosions and other cool effects. Then afterward Godzilla is walking away in the flaming city and just kind of destroying stuff for the heck of it, to the backdrop of Ifukube's classic and deliberate Godzilla march. Great stuff. I also particularly like Godzilla's first appearance and when he starts chasing the GPN van. For best effect, you've got to watch this movie after watching the '98 one. It let's you appreciate it more, take a deep breath and say, "This is what Godzilla is supposed to be."

My Ranking: #19

Up next, Godzilla prepares to fight another inexplicable giant death moth, but it's not Mothra or Battra... "Godzilla vs Magaguirus"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Godzillapalooza #23: Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla (1998)
Monster Profile:


-HEIGHT: 295 feet.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Zilla has no special powers. It has pretty impressive jumping, burrowing, and swimming abilities, but other than that it's just an overgrown, asexual lizard.
-BACKGROUND: The American "Godzilla's" background is one of the chief parts of this movie that I take a huge issue with. Basically, in this movie anyway, Godzilla is nothing more than a mutated iguana created by French nuclear tests in French Polynesia. WHAT?! So this "Godzilla" eats fish, reproduces asexually, cannot breath any kind of fire or nuclear blast, and is in no way indestructible like the true Japanese Godzilla. Basically the only similarity to the Japanese Godzilla is the trademark roar, at least they didn't mess with that. Also for some unknown reason he... or it... goes from the South Pacific straight to NYC. Whatever. For all of the above reasons, G-Fans and Toho have refused to recognize this imposter as Godzilla and simply refer to it as Zilla.

After some stock footage of nuclear tests and iguanas, the movie begins with a Japanese fishing boat being attacked by an unknown sea creature. Nick Tatopoulous (the films protagonist whose name no one can pronounce... It's not like it's that hard, you just say it phonetically... anyway) played by Matthew Broderick is introduced: a nuclear biologist who gets re-assigned to the US military's investigation on these strange attacks. Also investigating the case is the French Secret Service, led by Philippe Roache, played by Jean Reno whom I actually love in this movie. He's got some pretty funny one-liners, but more on that later. Anyway, the FSS interrogates an old Japanese victim of one of the attacks who says it was "Gojira!" they show this clip 8 million times. Skipping ahead quite a bit to when the plot finally starts moving again, Zilla shows up in NYC, runs around terrorizing everyone for a bit, and then disappears. Eventually Nick has the idea to lure Zilla out with fish. It works, the military attacks, it doesn't work. After Zilla disappears again, Nick finds a blood sample and determines Zilla is pregnant and nesting. He tells his college sweetheart, Audrey, and since she's trying to break into reporting, she breaks the story and Nick gets fired. The FSS picks Nick up and it's up to them to find the nest and destroy it. Audrey and her cameraman friend from the news station, Animal (played by Hank Azaria), follow them to make amends and break the story. Meanwhile, the military sets another trap for Zilla that doesn't entirely work. Zilla escapes into the river and is eventually hit by 2 torpedoes that everyone thinks kill it. Nick and company end up finding over 200 Zilla eggs inside Madison Square Garden, but before they can destroy them, they all hatch and starts chasing them around in a fashion shockingly similar to the Raptors in Jurassic Park. Nick and Philippe meet up with Audrey and Animal and they manage to broadcast from the NY Rangers booth to warn everyone of the dangerous babies. The four friends escape MSG just in time for 3 F-18s to blow it sky high and kill all the babies. But then, Zilla shows up again visibly pissed. It chases the four in a taxi until it gets caught in the suspension cables on the Brooklyn Bridge, giving the same three planes the opportunity to kill it with 12 MISSILES! WTF!? Besides the fact that the real Godzilla could NEVER be killed in this way, how does it make any sense that torpedoes wouldn't kill Zilla, but three F-18s would? Ugh! That's why this movie is a travesty. Oh by the, the movie actually ends showing a single surviving egg that hatches. And in case you were wondering, Nick and Audrey get back together and Philippe disappears into the night.

Oh my God... where do I begin with this movie. I saw this in theaters when I was eight years old, so excited to see a new Godzilla made in America, and I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I've already touched on how Zilla is in no way like the King of the Monsters. He even looks like a freaking iguana, it makes me sick. But the suckiness goes a bit deeper than that. For the most part the dialogue sucks balls. Matthew Broderick's character is kinda lame and constantly offering his words of wisdom. Maria Pitillo, who plays Audrey, is pretty attractive but can't act worth a crap, which would explain why I've never seen her in another movie. Another thing that chaffs me is how this movie feels like it was ripped off so many other sources. There's references to Jaws, the Independence day influence is apparent, and most of the time it feels like your watching a remake or Jurassic Park/Lost World. Literally there are some shots that looked like they were ripped out of the Spielberg films.

On the positive side, there are some things about the film I like. The special effects are great of course with plenty of gratuitous explosions that are fun to watch. I've already mentioned I love Jean Reno in this movie as well. Hank Azaria is also pretty funny, as you might expect. But there's still so many things that bother me. For example, why the Hell would Zilla go to NYC? If he was looking for a big city to nest in with plenty of fish, why didn't he just go to San Diego, LA, San Francisco, or Seattle for that matter. They're so much closer. Plus it literally pours down rain during the entire movie. Does it ever rain that much in NY? Yet another reason why Seattle would make more sense. Really though, this is an OK movie, it's mostly the fact that they tried to play the monster off as Godzilla that really bugs me. If they would have just made it a remake of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms it would have made more sense and probably been a pretty good monster movie. But no, they had to rape the Godzilla name. My emotions are so mixed. Watch it at your own risk. No one should be allowed to make Godzilla movies but Toho.

Best Part:
Pretty much any part with Jean Reno and the French Secret Service is awesome. He's got so many great moments. For example, the poor guy can never find a good cup of coffee in NY and it frustrates the crap out of him. It's also pretty funny when he impersonates Elvis to get into a military zone and it works. I also like Zilla's first appearance when a goofy old fisherman thinks he caught a fish and it turns out to be Zilla. There's some great chases too: when three helicopters chase Zilla through NY with explosions all around and the final taxi chase leading up to the crappy ending. Both are very entertaining. To round things out, here's Cinemassacre's James Rolfe's review of the movie. He makes a lot of the same points as me, but I love this dude and the video is definitely worth a watch.

My Ranking: #29 (out of 29)

Up next, Toho counters America's awfulness with another series of Godzilla movies. Thank God!... "Godzilla 2000"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Godzillapalooza #22: Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: In its final form, Destoroyah is 394 feet tall.
-MASS: 88,000 tons (final form)
-SPECIAL POWERS: In its final two forms, Destoroyah can fly. Its most powerful weapons are an explosive micro-oxygen beam and a laser from its horn. In its final form, it can also discharge energy from its tail. At any time, Destoroyah can morph into its aggregate form (more on this later) which has the ability to inject victims with lethal micro-oxygen.
-BACKGROUND: Destoroyah's background is a bit complicated to explain, especially to someone not familiar with the series, but in my opinion he is one of the coolest of all of Godzilla's enemies. The Oxygen Destroyer, the only successful weapon in actually killing Godzilla, created anaerobic conditions in Tokyo Bay, and after 40 years these conditions in essence revived a colony of microscopic Precambrian crustaceans with bad attitudes. They continued to grow and evolve until they became an army of human-sized, crab-like spiders. Ultimately they amalgamated into a giant version of this same beast, which swiftly evolved to a flying form to cope with military attacks. For its battles with Godzilla and his son, Destoroyah evolved into its final form, a ferocious, winged anti-Godzilla. In another ironic twist, the only thing that could killed the monster spawned by the first Godzilla's death, was the melt-down and death of the modern Godzilla.


-HEIGHT: 131 feet
-MASS: 16,500 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: Thermo-nuclear atomic ray breath. Godzilla Jr is beginning to gain his father's power of cell regeneration.
-BACKGROUND: Little Godzilla is now almost totally grown up and looking more like old dad everyday (notice his dorsal fins haven't quite come in yet, I guess that's like nuclear monster puberty). He even gets into a fight with Destoroyah and is defeated, but the radioactivity from his father's meltdown revives him and turns him into a full blown Godzilla all his own.

The movie begins with a red glowing Godzilla attacking Hong Kong of all places. It's an awesome scene to open the last movie of the Heisei series (originally intended to be the last Godzilla movie altogether) and features one of the most awesome title screens ever conceived! More on that later. G-Force brings on the grandson of Dr. Yamane (remember him from the first movie?), Kenichi, who is a college student and Godzilla expert. Kenichi concludes that Godzilla's nuclear heart is like a reactor and in meltdown, thus it is only a matter of time until Godzilla blows up and destroys half the world. So that's the first problem on everyone's hands. But that's not all. Back in Tokyo, some construction around Tokyo Bay (where the first Godzilla was killed) keeps getting interrupted and there is no trace of oxygen in the soil. Turns out the Oxygen Destroyer's effects revived some organisms that eventually become Destoroyah (explanation above). The scene in which these microscopic Destoroyahs reveal themselves is creepy and awesome as they attack some fish in a public aquarium in a cool, updated version of when Dr. Serizawa demonstrates his weapon on fish in the first movie. Anyway, moving forward quite a bit, the Destoroyahs eventually become an army of giant crustaceans and attack people around the construction site. Before long Godzilla's son shows up, looking more like his dad than ever before, and fights Destoroyah in its amalgamated, giant spider-like form. Junior wins this round just before his dad shows up on the scene, but before they can celebrate, Destoroyah rises from the ashes in its final adult form. Destoroyah kills Junior and an enraged Godzilla seems to kill Destroyoah out of revenge. But as Godzilla tries to revive his lifeless son, Destoroyah comes back for more. Godzilla is weak, but with the help of the Super X III, destroys Destoroyah... ironic. At this point, Godzilla begins to meltdown. The army freezes him to contain the disastrous effects, but it is a sad moment when the crying Godzilla melts away and dies. However, all of the excess radiation revives and further mutates Junior. A new Godzilla is truly born.

This is a great potential ending and fantastic entry in the series, one of my favorites. Throughout the film there are countless references and homages to the first film that are really well done and enjoyable. The Yamane family and house is well represented from the first film including Momoko Kochi reprising her role as a now older Emiko. Destoroyah itself is a great way of tying-in the first movie with the last one. The movie's great on so many levels: the plot is cool, special effects are awesome, and the score could be the best of Ifukube's Godzilla career.

Godzilla looks absolutely awesome in this movie. Possibly his coolest look of all time. Most of his body is throbbing and glowing red due to the meltdown and steam pours out of his skin. It's awesome. Destoroyah looks about as evil as a monster can in his final form and is a formidable opponent. In his smaller forms though, I feel more like I'm watching an Alien movie... it's different, but it works. The movie's finale is action-packed and actually very moving. When Godzilla finally dies, it's an extremely sad and sentimental moment. Maybe it's just my lifelong fandom speaking, because watching one of my childhood heroes painfully melt-away was very striking the first time around. And then after we see Juniors revived and fully grown silhouette, clips from the original Godzilla flash over Ifukube's classic Godzilla march. Nostalgic and awesome. This movie is absolutely worth a look. A must see for every G-fan. Thank the Lord there were more G-movies to come, but the American entry to follow this one is the definition of the verb "to butcher".

Best Part:
The whole last part of this movie, starting when Junior arrives in Tokyo, is absolutely top-notch. The Godzilla action is everything you could hope for. Two awesome battles with an ever-changing Destoroyah and some surprisingly emotional dramatic moments. The ending is simply to die for, pun slightly intended. I've also already mentioned the films awesome beginning. I don't have the whole scene to show you, but I can give you this clip of possibly the greatest title screen of all-time! Notice the incorporation of the original Oxygen Destroyer. Simply awesome and easy for any G-fan to appreciate!

My Ranking: #7

Up next, the Godzilla takes a turn for the worst in the only film not made by Toho (go figure). Sometimes American filmakers do nothing but screw up... "Godzilla" (1998)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Godzillapalooza #21: Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: 394 feet.
-MASS: 88,000 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: SpaceGodzilla has powers running out of his ears to the point of absurdity, but hey we're talking about a Godzilla movie so that's half the fun. Because SpaceGodzilla was created from the same cells as Godzilla, he also has Godzilla's super-regenerative power. Rather than thermonuclear breath, SpaceGodzilla can fire a "Carona Beam" from its mouth that it can also control in midair. It can generate a gravity tornado and unleash bolts of energy from its shoulder crystals. SpaceGodzilla can form crystals around it and implant cosmic power in structures in order to make itself stronger. It can encase its body in a force field that deflects all projectiles and emits an aura that causes electrical disturbances. Furthermore, SpaceGodzilla can encase itself in crystals and fly through space at Mach 3.
-BACKGROUND: The best way to look at SpaceGodzilla is as Godzilla's extra-terrestrial evil twin. The film provides two complex possibilities for SpaceGodzilla's creation. Both involve Godzilla's cells drifting into space and being sucked into a black hole. The cells then combined with intense energy from stars which altered the genetic material and enhanced evolutionary speed creating a new monster that was spit out of a white hole. Sounding a little ridiculous? Bear with me. The two theories for Godzilla's cells entering space are as follows. First, Mothra could have carried some cells into space by accident after her battle with Godzilla when she flew out to stop the meteor. Second, when Biollante dissolved into spores that were released into space, some got caught up in a black hole (of course Biollante's cell contained Godzilla's genetic material). This is my favorite explanation, especially considering SpaceGodzilla bears some resemblance to Biollante in its face, but it is logically inconsistent. According to the events of "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah", which altered Godzilla's existence in history, Biollante never existed, thus making this explanation impossible. This movie mentions two events prior to "King Ghidorah" that the history change would have made impossible. In short, time travel is complicated. So the best philosophy is to do what you always do when you watch a Godzilla movie... turn off your brain and enjoy yourself.


-HEIGHT: 394 feet.
-MASS: 176,000 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: While not as impressive as MechaGodzilla II, Moguera still has a sizable amount of weapons at its disposal. It has plasma laser cannons in its eyes, a plasma laser cannon projector in its chest, and spiral grenade missiles fire from its drill-like hands for starters. It can move either by walking or using treads under its feet and its nose is an effective drill. It can fly at Mach 1 using rockets in feet and tail and travel through space at Mach 44. Moguera can also separate into two different vehicles: the flying Star Falcon (capable of flight at Mach 35) and the burrowing tank Land Moguera.
-BACKGROUND: Moguera first appeared outside of the Godzilla series in the 50's movie "The Mysterians." For the purpose of this series though, it is the second (and much less intimidating) creation by the UNGCC to follow MechaGodzilla II. Unlike the alien-invaders in the 50's, this 90's Moguera is intended to protect earth. The UNGCC name is actually an acronym: Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-type. Doesn't quite flow, but I'll accept it.


-HEIGHT: 98 feet.
-MASS: 8,800 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Little Godzilla has gained the ability to breath short bursts of radioactive bubbles, similar to Minya's smoke rings. He can still communicate telepathically and his eyes still glow red when he's afraid.
-BACKGROUND: Extended exposure to radioactivity from his dad and in naturally occuring pockets on Birth Island (where he and Godzilla live) has turned the once Baby Godzillasaurus into a true little Godzilla. He has ballooned in size and is beginning to gain some of his father's powers. However, he is still helpless in battle and has a kind spirit and is very playful. Which brings me to another point: Little Godzilla is certainly cute (he looks more like a Pokemon than a Godzilla), but why in the world does Toho feel the need to make the Monster King's offspring always cute and cuddly?


  • MOTHRA (see movie #4) *Mothra herself makes a brief flashback cameo, but the Cosmos in the form of Fairy Mothras communicate with Miki Saegusa throughout the film.

The film opens up with the UNGCC's creation of their new and much less awesome looking weapon, Moguera. At the same time, two scientists employ psychic Miki Saegusa (remember her from every Heisei film?) and two G-Force Lieutenants two work on a project to implant a psychic receiver in Godzilla's brain to control him... dumb idea. So anyway, the five head out to Birth Island where Godzilla and his son live. The two Lieutenants meet Commander Yuki on the Island who is waging his own personal war on Godzilla somewhat unsuccessfully. Long story short, the receiver is planted and it works, but then it gets screwed up. Meanwhile, Moguera combats SpaceGodzilla as he is hurling himself toward Earth, but is defeated. SpaceGodzilla lands on Birth Island, kidnaps Little Godzilla and temporarily defeats Godzilla. Then things get really confusing and Miki is taken prisoner by the Japanese mafia. Anyway, SpaceGodzilla heads to Fukuoka, destroying everything in his path, where he sets up his base of operations. If you haven't caught on yet, SpaceGodzilla acts more like a Super Hero villian or a video game bad guy than a Godzilla monster, which is something I have an issue with. So back to the plot, Moguera and Godzilla both show up to fight SpaceGodzilla. Together they defeat SpaceGodzilla and save the world.

I have very mixed emotions about this movie, most of them negative. It is definitely the worst film of the Heisei series, but it's not quite as bad as many say it is. Let me break it down. First, the plot is kind of lame and SpaceGodzilla is complicated and not nearly as cool as he could be. Also the movie focuses way too much on the people and their love stories for a Godzilla movie. It moves really slow and the score is nothing to write home about. Godzilla is restored to his savior of the Earth role, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your style. I personally am cool with it. There's also plenty of inexplicable moments, for example, why does Commander Yuki use a submachine gun to try and fire his special bullets into Godzilla's chest? Were sniper rifles in short supply? And why the hell is the Japanese mafia in this movie? There's also a completely uneccesary shower scene in which we see Commander Yuki's ass. WHY?! Ugh.

On the positive side, the special effects are awesome. Koichi Kawakita returns after MechaGodzilla and does as good a job as ever with all the explosions and laser beams you can handle. On that note, the monster battles (while not the best ever) are very satisfying. Scenes of city destruction are also great. Godzilla looks as good as ever stomping through Fukuoka on his way to meet SpaceGodzilla in battle. I like that they found a way to include and update Moguera, but it's just nowhere as cool as MechaGodzilla so it's a little disappointing. I also am a fan of Megumi Odaka, who plays Miki Saegusa in every film of the Heisei series. Ok Godzilla movie, don't worry about missing it unless you're just a huge G-fan. All I can say is thank God Toho got their act together for the next movie, as it is one of the best entries of the series.

Best Part:
Ok so to get the obvious out of the way, the final Monster battle and the city destruction before it is the best part of the movie. Having said that, there are a lot of unintentionally funny parts that I would like to mention here. First of all, there's a part when giant crystals destroy part of the international space station. What's hilarious is when NASA officials explain that the only conclusion they can come to for this attack is that it was caused by a giant monster. Because I'm sure that would be a NASA scientists' gut feeling on anything. The other part is when the Mafia boss is playing one of those crane games at an arcade and he can't win anything. Meanwhile his assistant or whatever is being a whiny bitch. It's pretty funny. Unfortunately there's no clip on youtube, so you'll just have to check out the movie.

My Ranking: #20

Up next, Godzilla is dying and the Heisei series and Godzilla as we know him comes to an end. But a new era is ushered in, and Godzilla also fights a really sweet enemy... it's "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Godzillapalooza #20: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: 394 feet.
-MASS: 165,000 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: This Mechagodzilla's host of powers and weapons put the first one to shame. Besides flight at Mach 2, it can also fire a Mega-Buster ray from it's mouth, paralysis missiles, laser beams from eyes, and shock anchors/cables. It has a Super Heat Shield "NT-20" which absorbs energy that can be redirected through a plasma grenade. Mechagodzilla also employs the "G-Crusher" weapon and can be joined with the UN battleship Garuda to form Super Mechagodzilla.
-BACKGROUND: Unlike the first Mechagodzilla, this one is built by the UN and G-Force as a means of global protection, specifically against Godzilla. It was built from salvaged parts of Mech-King Ghidorah that were researched and improved upon. Mechagodzilla 2 came closer than any other foe to completely defeating Godzilla.


-HEIGHT: 5.4 feet
-MASS: 924 pounds
-SPECIAL POWERS: Able to communicate with Godzilla and Rodan telepathically. Eyes glow red when afraid.
-BACKGROUND: As the name suggests, Baby Godzilla is Godzilla's son. His egg was found on a remote island under Rodan's guard. Scientists escaped with the egg and took it to Kyoto while Godzilla and Rodan fought over it. The baby was cared for by scientists until it was deemed that he should be given back to Godzilla.


  • RODAN (see movie #5)

After all these years of enduring Godzilla's destructive force, the UN decides it would be a good idea to help Japan out, so they create the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNGCC). The UNGCC is on the cutting edge of creating state-of-the-art weaponry and such to defend the world from Godzilla and any other monster for that matter. Using the salvaged remains of Mech-King Ghidorah, the UNGCC engineers the greatest anti-Godzilla weapons of all-time: MechaGodzilla (2) and its sort of whacked-out spaceship, bastard step-brother Garuda. Everyone hates Garuda except for one of its chief creators named Aoki (more on him later). Meanwhile, a team of scientists discover a living dinosaur egg on a remote island guarded by Rodan. When Godzilla shows up, the two monsters start a brawl over the egg, allowing the scientists to take it back to Japan. Long story short, the egg hatches into a baby Godzillasaurus that recognizes one of the scientists, Azusa, as its mother. Azusa becomes the baby's primary caretaker and they form a strong bond. Before you know it, Godzilla shows up to get the egg back. MechaGodzilla is sent to stop him and puts up a good fight, but ultimately Godzilla kicks his metal doppelganger's ass. Godzilla wanders off after a bit, having still not found his baby. Aoki convinces the UNGCC that MechagGodzilla would be more powerful with Garuda attached to its back and a new plan is formed to kill Godzilla with the "G-Crusher": a weapon that targets a second brain at the base of Godzilla's spine that would cripple him. They try to lure him with the baby, but first Rodan shows up and is defeated by Mechagodzilla. Then Godzilla shows up for the major throwdown, and with Garuda attached to its back Mechagodzilla deploys the G-Crusher and actually kills Godzilla. However, in a final act of sacrifice for his old buddy, a dying Rodan flies over to Godzilla and transfers his radioactive life-energy to him. Now that's friendship. Godzilla arises more powerful than ever and beats the shit out of Mechagodzilla and leaves with his baby, who bids the humans a bitter-sweet farewell.

I love this Godzilla film. Yet another fantastic addition to the series brought on by the Heisei era. It's got everything you'd want in a Godzilla movie: incredible monster battles, gratuitous explosions, inexplicable sci-fi, and a nice helping of cheesiness from the human actors. Not to mention this film has its helping of drama. I've got to admit I was pretty upset when I saw Godzilla go down when I saw this for the first time, but it was so awesome to see Rodan sacrifice himself like he would in the old days. Nerd alert! Anyway... Ifukube composes another awesome score that moves the movie beautifully. Honestly, this is my favorite complete Ifukube score besides the original in 1954.

This movie has got to have the absolute best special effects of an Godzilla movie up to this point and is actually very well directed in my opinion. Mechagodzilla has more weapons than you can count on two hands and its a feast for the eyes to watch him battle the King of the Monsters. The Godzilla suit is also top-notch, as are all of the other monsters and model work. This film integrated a lot of new techniques in animatronics for close-ups and some good puppetry too. Baby Godzilla looks fantastic and actually like a believable baby dinosaur, not like Minya. Ugh, I shudder when I think of that waste of cinematic space. I'm also a huge fan of the inclusion and update for that matter of Rodan. Nicely done, Toho. All in all, it's a great Godzilla movie, definitely in my top 5, and I never get tired of watching it. A must see for any G-fan.    

Best Part:
Maybe its a cop-out, by I would be amiss if I didn't say that my favorite part(s) of this movie are the battle scenes. You can't go wrong with any and all of them. Especially the final battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla. When Godzilla is resurrected, it's just so awesome. Not much else to say. Please enjoy this video I found that is basically a summary of the whole movie. Please excuse the God-awful background music though.

My Ranking: #4

Up next, Godzilla faces a ferocious interstellar foe with a crappy name... "Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Godzillapalooza #19: Godzilla vs Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)

Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
Monster Profile:


-LENGTH: 239 feet (590 foot wingspan)
-MASS: 33,000 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: Battra can fly at Mach 3 and even travel through space. Chief among his powers are the Prism Beams he shoots from his eyes.
-BACKGROUND: Battra is essentially the evil version of Mothra. He represents chaos and turmoil in the world, but he is not inherently evil if that makes any sense. Battra is the Earth's defender and when something (like pollution) threatens the Earth, he comes to it's defense and kicks ass. While Battra is the Earth's defender, Mothra is mankind's, so they are not exactly enemies, but have fought in the past. Battra is awakened in this movie by untold amounts of human pollution and proceeds to throw a fit. However, Mothra convinces him that Godzilla is the true threat, so the two team up to fight the Monster King.


-LENGTH: 295 feet
-MASS: 22,000 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: Battra's larval stage is like a supernatural tank. It's an armored caterpillar with superior burrowing and swimming ability. In this form Battra can also shoot Prism beams from not only its eyes, but its horn as well.


  • MOTHRA (see movie #4)

The film begins like a sort of Japanese Indiana Jones... Tokyo Jones? Anyway, the guy's name is Takuya and his ex-wife and a corporate big-wig convince him to go on an expedition to Infant Island. Meanwhile, a meteor strikes earth, wakes up Godzilla, and starts a storm that unearths Mothra's egg on Infant. So Takuya, his ex-wife Masako, and Andoh from the Marutomo Corp. head out to explore Infant Island. While they're there they discover Mothra's giant egg, some ancient cave paintings, and meet the good ole' twin fairies, who are called the "Cosmos" in this movie. The Cosmos keep the world in balance, so they know all about ancient history, Mothra, and Battra and enlighten the explorers. In spite of logical impending doom, the explorers take Mothra's egg and the fairies toward Japan on a boat and are swiftly attacked by Godzilla. The Egg hatches and Battra also shows up to join the brawl. An underwater eruption engulfs Godzilla and Battra, while Mothra pursues Andoh who has decided to take the Cosmos to his boss to make up for losing the egg. Sound familiar? Mothra destroys a lot of stuff in Tokyo before Andoh comes to his senses and allows Takuya, Masako, and their daughter to reunite the twins and Mothra. But at the worst possible time the military shows up and Mothra turns into a cocoon around the capital building. Before you know it Mothra hatches into an adult and the adult Battra and Godzilla show up for a battle royal. Eventually Mothra convinces Battra that Godzilla is the true threat to the Earth and the two unite to defeat him. Battra and Godzilla are both sent to the ocean depths and it's up to Mothra to fly to space and save the Earth from an asteroid that Battra was originally going to stop. Thank you Mothra!

This film has everything you'd expect from a Mothra movie and is very well done and a nice addition to the series. While the plot's a little different than the original Mothras, it works and is very intriguing and puts a cooler face on the "Save the Earth" message. The concept of Battra as the yin to Mothra's yang is also a cool one and is well executed. And also of course, it wouldn't be a great G-movie without Ifukube's masterful score. The old-school Mothra song even makes a comeback in this movie which is nostalgic and cool.

 The upgrade to Mothra is very good as well. Mothra is more vibrant and colorful and has a host of cool new powers. Overall I feel like this movie is very colorful, and the special effects, monster battles, and city destruction looks great. And as always, the Heisei Godzilla looks awesome. I also like that the final battle takes place in a sort of amusement park, which is different and...well amusing. It's like "Godzilla vs Gigan" but WAY WAY better. Definitely worth a look for any fan of Godzilla or Mothra. In fact, I'd reccomend it to any fan of sci-fi. There's a lot to like about one of the most popular films of the series.

Best Part:
There's plenty of good comic relief in this movie. I really like the whole scene where the three explorers are trekking through the jungle looking for the egg. In fact, much of the comic relief in this part reminds me a lot of anime comedy. But I digress. All of the monster battles are top notch in this film and, like all Heisei movies, are very creative. You've also got to love the city destruction. But things really get good when Mothra and Battra are in their adult stages. Thus, I've got to say the final battle is my favorite part. It's colorful, exciting, dramatic. It's an awesome Godzilla fight. What you would have wished was possible special effects-wise for the original "Mothra vs Godzilla".

My Ranking: #14

Up next, yet another classic Godzilla foe gets re-made with an oh-so-good makeover. It's another of my all-time faves... "Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II"

2011 College Football Preview: Week 3

Florida's biggest rivals both find themselves in key games this week
It's week 3 and things are starting to get juicy in the college football universe. Plenty of great non-conference matchups to talk about! There was no shortage of excitement last week (see replay of Notre Dame-Michigan game which is sure to be on ESPN Classic soon) and hopefully that will continue on. Overall things were pretty great last week, I mean the Frogs got their first win so what's not to love? Well no sense rattling on, let's get right into the week 3 action!

Featured Teams:

1. UL-Monroe Warhawks @ #23 TCU Horned Frogs
-Last Week: TCU got back to its winning ways with a convincing 35-19 win @ Air Force. The defense took a quantum leap forward, albeit against a running team, and looks to continue to improve as the season goes on. The offense continued to look great behind Casey Pachall and a great running game. What's most impressive is how potent the Frogs stayed despite injuries to key players on both sides of the ball. The next two weeks present great opportunities for this team to grow and get healthy as they face two sub-par opponents at home.
-Preview: A home opener in an almost totally new stadium. While UL-Monroe isn't on TCU's level talent-wise by any stretch of the imagination, they are very athletic and present just enough of a challenge that these young Frogs can continue to grow and improve through the game. It's no secret that the Frogs should win, but what will be interesting to watch is which young players continue to step up and get better.
-Matchup to Watch: The offense is looking great, so I'm still interested in the growth of the defense. Watch TCU's secondary vs. ULM's WRs who can stretch the field.
-My Pick: TCU wins, 52-14

2. Ole Miss Rebels @ Vanderbilt Commodores
-Last Week: The Rebels did what was expected of them and whipped Southern Illinois, 42-24. The defense left something to be desired, but the offense showed improvement, especially at running back. Jeff Scott rushed for 118 yards and 3 TDs.
-Preview: Ole Miss begins conference play against the SEC's perennial punching bag, Vanderbilt. There isn't another team in this conference you would rather open with on the road, especially considering the last time the Rebels won an SEC opener was in 2003 against the 'Dores. Ole Miss has lost 4 of the last 6 games against Vandy, so if history is any indication, they'll be in for a dog fight. Vanderbilt has some good players on defense that will play the Rebels hard. I give Ole Miss a slight edge just based on how they played against BYU. Vandy is 2-0, but the best team they played was UConn, who I don't see as being on BYU's level. This should be a good one to watch.
-Matchup to Watch: Jeff Scott and Ole Miss' running game vs. Chris Marve and Vandy's front 7.
-My Pick: Ole Miss wins, 35-34.

3. Texas Tech Red Raiders @ New Mexico Lobos
-Last Week: Tech was on an early bye week. Not sure who's in charge of scheduling in Lubbock and why they thought a 2nd week bye before UNM would be beneficial, but they should be fired.
-Preview: I don't see any way that Tech loses this game. New Mexico is the worst the Mountain West has to offer, and even at home they don't tend to present much of a challenge. Look at it as another opportunity for Tech to grow and get to where they want to be. And if they start the game like they did against Texas State, look at it as a reason to be very worried about the future of the Red Raiders' season.
-Matchup to Watch: Tech's running game vs. UNM front 7.
-My Pick: Texas Tech wins, 63-10

Games to Watch

1. #3 LSU Tigers @ #25 Mississippi State Bulldogs
-Last Week: LSU imposed it's will upon Northwestern State, 49-3, and improved to 2-0. Conversely, MSU lost what could have been a statement game @ Auburn, 41-34. That was MSU's chance to prove they could be a major factor in this year's SEC West race. Oh well.
-Preview: Last week MSU failed to impress, but here they have an opportunity to make an even bigger statement at home in a top 25 showdown. Expect to be disappointed, Bulldog fans. LSU proved in Week 1 that they are for real this year and should jump on MSU early. This has the potential to be a defensive game though and could be fun to watch. Cats and dogs in Starkville and the last chance for MSU to stay in the rankings. Check it out.
-Matchup to Watch: Les Mile's offense vs. Dan Mullen's defense
-My Pick: LSU wins, 24-17.

2. #15 Michigan State Spartans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
-Last Week: Notre Dame lost a thriller to Michigan, 35-31, in the final seconds of the 4th quarter and fell to 0-2. MSU won their second consecutive pillow fight against Florida Atlantic, 44-0.
-Preview: Another week, another chance for Notre Dame to impress or depress. Expect the later, Irish fans. Last week's game was great and all, but MSU is a much better team than their in-state rivals. Kirk Cousins is a pretty good QB and is surrounded by some great weapons on offense. The Irish have found an answer for their own QB position in Tommy Rees, which could make things interesting at home. Expect a shootout in South Bend, with the Spartans coming out on top and snagging the Megaphone.
-Matchup to Watch: QB Battle: Cousins vs. Rees
-My Pick: MSU wins,  45-38.

3. Utah Utes @ BYU Cougars
-Last Week: Utah lost a heart-breaker in it's Pac-12 debut against USC in LA, 23-14. BYU also lost a heart-breaker to Texas in Austin, 17-16. Both teams easily could have, and probably should have, won their respective games.
-Preview: What better way to get out the previous week's frustrations by beating the living crap out of your most hated rival? While it's strange seeing the Holy War so early in the season, that is exactly what will be happening. For those that don't know, this is a nasty and bitter rivalry that usually results in some classic games. For this year's installment, I really like what BYU brings to the table. A much improved defense, good QB, and some solid offensive weapons, particularly Oakridge WR Ross Apo. Expect a brawl and close Cougar victory. Don't miss this one if you can help it.
-Matchup to Watch: Another QB Battle: BYU's Heaps vs. Utah's Wynn
-My Pick: BYU wins, 28-24.

4. #23 Texas Longhorns @ UCLA Bruins
-Last Week: As mentioned above, Texas escaped, 17-16, against BYU in Austin. UCLA also escaped, 27-17, against San Jose State.
-Preview: Both Texas and UCLA have been underwhelming so far this season. Texas looked like they found their offensive answer last week with McCoy-Shipley 2.0 (Case and Jaxson are the younger brothers of the ones you've already heard of). But for some reason, Mack Brown still wants to go with the two QB approach, involving David Ash as well. I've never liked this philosophy, well because it never works. That said, the Bruins were incredibly unimpressive last week. My gut wanted to call the upset with UCLA at home, but UT will be ready after last years embarrassment and, so long as McCoy plays most of the time, I see a Longhorn victory.
-Matchup to Watch: Texas offense vs. UCLA defense
-My Pick: Texas wins, 24-21.

The infamous call
5. #17 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Miami Hurricanes
-Last Week: The Buckeyes were incredibly unimpressive in a 27-22 win over Toledo. The Canes had a bye week following their 32-24 loss to Maryland.
-Preview: What was originally a marquis game between two of college footballs historic powers is now a game between the two naughty boys. 10 years ago they were #1 and #2, now they are both blacklisted. I'm not complaining. I mean, we all knew they were both cheating, but now it's official. Anyway, it's hard to know which way to go on this one. OSU has managed to win against awful teams, but Miami looks to be in complete disarray. Last years game was sloppy enough with all of both teams top players. Reason says to go with the higher-ranked Ohio State team, but I like Miami in a close one. QB Jacory Harris will be allowed to play (for now) as well as many of Miami's suspended players. The Bucks will be missing a top RB and WR. Should be interesting.
-Matchup to Watch: Miami offense vs. Ohio State defense
-My Pick: Miami wins, 31-28.

*Game of the Week*

#1 Oklahoma Sooners @#5 Florida State Seminoles
-Last Week: FSU put away their second cupcake, Charleston Southern, 62-10. OU had a bye week following their 47-14 beatdown of Tulsa.
-Preview:  Talk about a big time game! This one's a little bit of a rivalry considering the history, and it's interesting to consider that in 2001 it marked a turning point for both schools. This year's game could have the same gravity, only (while it launched the Sooners 10 years ago) this year it could mark a major shift back to dominance for FSU. Both teams are stout, but I really like the underdog 'Noles at home in this game. Last year's 47-17 embarrassment in Norman has been stewing for a year now and this team is talented enough to take the next step. QB EJ Manuel looks impressive and as always FSU is brimming with Florida speed. This will come down to the wire and is a can't miss game.
-Matchup to Watch: QB Battle: FSU's Manuel vs. OU's Jones.
-My Pick:FSU wins, 31-28.
2001 Orange Bowl. Could fortunes be reversed this year?

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011 NFL Preview

Are you ready for some football??? I apologize that my official NFL preview is a tad late, but between Godzilla, NCAA previews, and my life not spent on this laptop I haven't had a lot of time. Also, due to the amount of time it takes for me to do weekly NCAA previews, do my homework, and all other responsibilities, I will not be able to do weekly NFL previews as well. I know, sadness. But hopefully this blog full of predictions will be enough to whet your appetites until playoff season! A lot has changed since I posted my pre-season power rankings in June. I just wanted to get this dadgum thing posted before Week 1 was completely over. Similar to my NCAA preseason blogs, the divisions will be listed in order of my predicted finish, plus I'll have some additional previews at the end. Now, without further ado, please excuse my lateness and let's get things underway!

Division Breakdowns

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles-
Now that I'm done vomiting, let me say that it's hard not to pick the Eagles to win this division after all of their impressive offseason moves. That being said, I don't think that they'll run away with the East either. The defense should be great, but the offensive line is a bit of a question mark. The key will be if Mike Vick can stay healthy. If so, look out NFL, if not look out Philly.

2. Dallas Cowboys-
I'm a believer in the 'Boys this year for many reasons, the two biggest being Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan. They've energized this team and instilled so many positive qualities that simply weren't there during the Wade Phillips era, i.e. discipline and G.A.F. The defense will be much improved and all of the dead weight veterens have been cut, making room for talented and enthusiastic young players. Dallas is building for the future, and they won't be slouches this year either. I expect them to get progressively better as the season goes on and make the playoffs with lessened expectations than previous years (their secret weapon).

3. New York Giants-
Competing in the NFC East is historically a tall order, and this season the G-men won't be getting any favors. The o-line's got a new look that could be hit or miss and the defense could run into some trouble early on due to injuries. Even if New York does manage to make it through the first half of their schedule alright, it could all go to hell in November. Here's when things get nasty: 5 of there final 9 games are away, including New England, New Orleans, Dallas, and the Jets. The home schedule isn't too rosy either, featuring Philly, Green Bay, and Dallas to name a few.

4. Washington Redskins-
Ugh, the Redskins. It seems like they've been the East's cellar dwellers forever. Granted it's only been like 3 or 4 years, but who's counting. The worst QB to ever play in a Super Bowl, Rex Grossman, is at the helm, so that should give you an idea of where this team is headed. If Mike Shanahan is going to turn this ship around, he's still got a lot of work to do. It might take a small miracle to reach .500.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints-
What do you get when you have an incredible QB, plenty of offensive weapons, a stout defense, and an underachieving early playoff exit the year before? A force to be reckoned with. This year the Saints are like their '09 championship team except with a MUCH better running game (thank you Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles) and a new chip on their shoulder. I'm not sure that any other team worked as hard during the lockout as Drew Brees and the Saints. I really think their defense give them the edge in an NFC South that is quickly becoming, and may already be, the toughest division in the NFL.

2. Atlanta Falcons-
As good as Tampa may be, there's no question that the race for the division crown will likely be between the Saints and Birds. The Falcons will have one of the best offenses in the League (besides the Packers). I mean, Holy crap look at all of their weapons! Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Micheal Turner, and Matt Ryan running the circus. Things could get crazy. But as I said above, the defense makes the difference and I don't see Hotlanta as being quite on par with New Orleans in that area. Time will tell though. The Falcons will certainly outscore a lot of opponents.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-
As Sublime said, "Can't fight against the youth," and that's exactly what the Bucs have: a freaking youth movement brimming with talent. They turned some heads (mine definitely being one of them) with last year's 10-6 campaign and look to continue to improve. It just sucks for them that they are playing in the gauntlet of the NFL. The future looks bright for Josh Freeman and company, but for now a hard earned Wild card berth could be the best case scenario.

4. Carolina Panthers-
Even the best divisions have an embarrassingly crappy team. Enter the Panthers. They've decided Cam Newton is their man, and whether that's the best or worst descision they make this decade, no rookie QB can expect to do too well in this division. The only tight race they'll be in is for the worst in the league crown.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers-
Everyone is obsessed with the Pack right now, and why shouldn't they be? They won last year's Super Bowl missing more than a handful of key players to injury. Now the whole team is healthy and should have an incredibly impressive year. Aaron Rodgers leads an offense that needs no introduction and Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson lead a defense that... well doesn't need an introduction either. I fully expect them to win the North, but repeating as Super Bowl champs is much easier said than done. Does Green Bay have it in 'em? They did it in the '60s, we'll just have to see if history can repeat itself.

2. Detroit Lions-
Geez, I know what you're thinking, you can't remember the last time you saw the Lions top two in the North. Me neither. It's really as simple as Matthew Stafford's health. If he can stay in the game, I have a lot of confidence in this team and wouldn't be surprised if they made a playoff run as a wild card. They've proven they can compete with him at QB; he's got good weapons and a whole new, proven defense lead by Ndamokong Suh. Really though, if Stafford gets hurt again, all of that becomes irrelevant and the Lions fall right back to where we're used to seeing them: at the bottom.

3. Chicago Bears-
To be honest, I don't know how this Bears team made it as far as they did last year. Not very much about this team impresses me except some parts of the defense. The offense is an enigma. I think Jay Cutler is awful, the o-line is underwhelming, and all of my fellow DFW natives know exactly what Roy Williams brings to the table. You'd think that Mike Martz' play-calling would make a difference, but the players running the offense need to be semi-decent. I put the Bears 3rd because of their front 7 and Minnesota would be better off with a ferret playing QB. Bear-down Chicago Bears, this could be a long year.

4. Minnesota Vikings:
The Brett Favre experiment is long over and the Vikings find themselves with a few outstanding players (Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield), but otherwise screwed. I don't care what level of play, but especially in the modern NFL, you MUST have a QB to be successful; no ifs, ands, or buts. Donovan McNabb is done. He needs to retire and doesn't have Brett Favre's mysterious (and occasionally absent) old-man super powers. The Vikes might beat some mediocre competition on the back of AP, but don't expect any shot at the playoffs.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals-
In my opinion, there's a lot to like about this season's Cardinals. They've got a talented QB for the first time since Kurt Warner retired in Kevin Kolb and a great coach in Ken Whisenhunt. The offensive weapons were always there, they just needed a half decent gun-slinger. The defense also is good enough to keep them in the hunt. Everyone's picking the Rams in this division, but I think Kolb gives the Cards a great chance. It's also worth considering that Arizona's early season schedule is pretty soft, giving them plenty of time to get their legs under them and get on a roll.

2. St. Louis Rams-
There's a reason the Rams are everyone's favorite sleeper this year and most people's favorite in the West. Sam Bradford is the real deal at QB, he's got improving receivers, a decent o-line, and a great proven running back in Steven Jackson. The defense is also quickly getting better. Coaching is also great. So why didn't I pick them to win the West like everyone else? Unlike Arizona, the first two months will be rough: Eagles, @ Giants, Ravens, Redskins, @ Packers, @ Cowboys, and Saints. They could find themselves in a hole behind the Cardinals that will be hard to overcome. If they can survive that schedule though, as Coach Dennis Green said, "Then crown their asses!" I'll certainly be impressed.

3. San Francisco 49ers-
For years the 49ers have had some great pieces in place, but what's held them back... Alex Smith. The best acquisition they could have made this offseason was Coach Jim Harbaugh, and he very well may be just the man to set not just Smith, but the whole team back on the winning path. If Smith can't figure things out this year though, it's safe to say San Fran can throw in the towel and call him an enormous bust.

4. Seattle Seahawks-
Hope you enjoyed that thrilling playoff victory last year, because the 'Hawks won't even sniff the postseason this time. Two words: Tarvaris Jackson. I guess they can always throw the season and hold out for Andrew Luck.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots-
I think the race for this division is going to be a very tight one between it's top two teams, but I have to give the Pats the edge for a few reasons. Reason number one is Tom Brady: no body is better at putting his team in a position to win and now thanks to all the noise the Pats made in free agency, he's got some nice new weapons. Albert Haynesworth could be a huge boom or bust for this defense which needs a lift, and Bellichick usually gets the most out of his players.

2. New York Jets-
Yet another chance for the Jets to cash in on Rex Ryan's guarantee and get LT a ring before he retires. The defense will be the best in the division and just as blitz happy as ever. However, the offense still has a little improving to do before they can overtake the Pats. Mark Sanchez has to continue to improve and make better decisions and Shonn Greene MUST improve his production if he is going to have an increased role.

3. Buffalo Bills-
I actually like the Bills to escape the AFC East cellar this season. They've made some nice acquisitions across the board including Shawne Merriman (remember him?) and Brad Smith. And the offense looks to be in pretty good hands with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, and Steve Johnson. They're making a lot of progress, but don't expect them to make the playoffs just yet.

4. Miami Dolphins-
While the Bills are on their way up, the 'Phins are on their way down. Chad Henne is not and never was the answer at QB and Daniel Thomas shouldn't make too big of an impact as a rookie. Reggie Bush is also not good enough to carry the load that Miami will need him to. There's a fair amount of talent on defense, but not enough to keep them in the hunt.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans-
This is, without a doubt, the Texans' year to step up, win the division, and make a playoff run. In fact, if they can't do it this year, they might as well give up. The Colts missing Peyton Manning for the first chunk of the season is a huge blow and the other two teams in the South are nothing to write home about. But enough about everyone else, let's talk about H-town. Of course the offense is in great shape with the likes of Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, and Andre Johnson. Now the defense, which already was fairly talented, gets a huge boost from some key free agents and Wade Phillips back were he belongs: as a D-coordinator.

2. Indianapolis Colts-
The window of dominance for the Colts appears to be closing. Peyton Manning is getting older and having injury issues and no one else is getting any younger either. I think this defense has some glaring holes and the Colts will really struggle as long as Kerry Collins is off his couch and taking snaps.  They're only ranked 2nd because the Titans and Jags should be sub-par at best.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars-
This one was close, but I went ahead and put the Jaguars above Tennessee, despite their inexplicable decision to cut David Garrard 5 days before their opener (I won't even attempt to make sense of that). Whether Luke McCown manages to work out or not, the Jags still have MJD, so at least their offense has that going for 'em... which is nice. The defense is a huge question mark though. I don't know, will Jacksonville ever be truly relevant?

4. Tennessee Titans-
The Titans are just completely starting over: new coach, new contract for Chris Johnson, new QB that's actually really old. Anyway, Matt Hasselbeck will be taking snaps until Jake Locker is deemed ready, and that should work out okay. At least Hasselbeck is a proven leader. The offensive line is pretty good and there's always Chris Johnson in the backfield. The defense is a BIG question though and I'm not so confident in the receiving corp besides Kenny Britt. With so many changes coming after a short offseason, my confidence level  in Tennessee runs low.

AFC North

1. Baltimore Ravens-
I'm going to be extremely controversial and pick the Ravens to best the Steelers for the division crown. And no, it is not just because I hate the Steelers; I think there's a whole lot to like about this Baltimore team. The defense is fantastic, duh. Yes, the stars are getting old, but they aren't dead yet and there's been some infusion of great youthful talent like Jimmy Smith. But the offense is really turning things up a notch as well. It goes without saying that Ray Rice is great and Joe Flacco gets criticised way more than he deserves. I think people will be shocked though by how much Lee Evans improves the passing game. Having a fast, down-field threat means Anquan Boldin and the other good slot receivers are left uncovered more and Joe Flacco finally gets some credit.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers-
The Pittsburgh Steelers are very good, but every bandwagon fan knows that. The faces are the same: Mendenhall, Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Harrison... I could go on. The defense will be great and the offense will be just good enough. The Steelers will win a lot of games and make the playoffs, but only be edged out by the Ravens for the division crown.

3. Cleveland Browns-
Colt McCoy is a great QB and the Browns are slowly building to get to a place where they can make a serious push for the postseason. It won't be this year, but you can see the progress they are making. More talent comes with every draft and it won't be long before the Browns are a hot topic. Just not yet.

4. Cincinnati Bengals-
I really don't think the Bengals are nearly as bad as most experts are making them out to be, but regardless, they are not in a very good position to win many games this year. This draft was a step in the right direction and they were right to move on from Carson Palmer and Ochocinco. AJ Green is as good as his billing and Andy Dalton is a good QB and great leader. In a couple years, these Bengals could be the real deal, but for now it's time to continue to grow and build. Just hope that Mike Brown doesn't get in the way.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers-
It's hard to believe that the Bolts missed the playoffs last year with the NFL's #1 offense and defense. What?! The production should be similar and it would be even more shocking if the same thing happened this year. Special Teams must improve and Ryan Matthews needs to quit fumbling (LT spoiled the Chargers). The Chiefs are turning into a great team and will give SD some trouble, but overall I don't see how the Bolts won't prevail and get back to playing in January. They should also get out to a fast start unlike last year, considering their only really challenging games in the first 5 weeks before their bye are @ New England and against the Chiefs at home.

2. Kansas City Chiefs-
No brainer. If the Bolts are first, the Chiefs have to be second. KC could just as easily win the division again if things go their way. There's great talent on both sides of the ball like Cassel, Charles, Bowe, Berry, and Hali who are turning this former afterthought into a true contender. If the Chiefs do miss out on the West championship this year, they will still be in the hunt for the Wild card and likely miss out by just a hair.

3. Denver Broncos-
To say last season was forgettable for Denver fans would be an understatement. But this year looks to be heading in the right direction. For whatever reason, no one has any confidence in Tim Tebow, but Kyle Orton should still be productive enough. The offense still has a bunch of unsolved problems, but the defense looks to be much improved thanks to rookie Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil coming back from injury. The Broncs benefit the most from the Raiders losing almost every player that was worth a damn.

4. Oakland Raiders-
Oh Oakland. Just when it looked like the Raiders where making some real progress they lost three of their best players in free agency: Robert Gallery, Zach Miller, and Nnamdi Asomugha. What else can you say? The Raiders will struggle and fans will love Al Davis out of principle while still wondering why he hasn't died yet.

Other Predictions

NFC Wild Card Teams:
Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons

AFC Wild Card Teams:
Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets

NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints-
Ironically, a rematch of the game that started the season. As good as this Green Bay roster looks, it's hard to imagine them not making it back to at least the NFC Championship. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack could have the makings of the next dynasty if they play their cards right. Meanwhile, the Saints are just as solid and even more hungry after last year's playoff exit. Should be another great game between two of the game's best QBs. I expect another Green Bay victory in a close game.

AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets-
This isn't a popular pick based on what I've read, but I just have a gut feeling about both of these teams. Of course that probably means I'll be wrong. As I said before, I think there's a lot to like about this Ravens team. Enough that I see them making it this far in the playoffs given the right matchups. As for the Jets, this team just knows how to turn it on in the playoffs and a third straight AFC Championship isn't out of the question. Last year, the Jets were an awful first half away from playing in the Super Bowl. This team is wiser and full of talent and enthusiasm and I think they just might pull it off this year.

Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets-
Rex Ryan finally gets his team to the big dance, but I have a hard time believing Gang Green can best this Packers team. It's just so impressive. Aaron Rodgers wins a second consecutive title, Green Bay boasts about "Title-Town" more than you can possibly imagine, and the Packers are one step closer to being crowned the Dynasty of the 2010's.

NFL MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Too many weapons and what a team. Likely Super Bowl Champs.

NFC Rookie of the Year: QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers. I have been Newton's biggest naysayer, but I was shocked after his opening day performance. I wouldn't be surprised.

AFC Rookie of the Year: LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos. This dude is a stud and will have immediate impact on Denver's defense. Potential running out his ears.

Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. He'll turn the ship around.

Most Improved Team: Detroit Lions. The Lions will not be terrible for the first time in recent memory. In fact, their shot at the playoffs is extremely realistic and tangible.

7 Games to Watch
(since I'm a little late, this list excludes opening day)

1. Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons, Week 2
Vick's old home and two of the NFC's best teams. The mascots even create an intriguing matchup. Should be a shootout.

2. Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints, Week 3
Big time measuring stick game for the Texans to see what they're made of. Should be another offensive show. Also somewhat of a regional rivalry.

3. New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens, Week 4
Preview of my pick for the AFC Championship. Two great defenses and improving offenses. Sure to be a fierce, smash-mouth game.

4. Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles, Week 8
Always an intense rivalry. Both teams will be racing for the division. Also Rob Ryan has established that he doesn't buy the whole "Dream Team" image of the Eagles. Should be as good as ever.

5. Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 9
Always intense rivalry. Can the Ravens smash the Steelers again or will it be more typically defensive?

6. New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles, Week 12
Two playoff teams and a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl. Has all the makings of a great game

7. Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints, Week 16
Great NFC South rivalry and two stellar offensive teams. We can only hope that neither team rests their starters.