It’s a dinosaur…!

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GOROSAURUS


Height: 35 Meters (114 Feet)
Mass:
8,000 Tons
Premiered in:
King Kong Escapes (1967)

Admittedly, Gorosaurus did not premiere in the film Destroy All Monsters but of those present in it, he is one of the “youngest” monsters to appear on the silver screen, and one of the decidedly odder choices for many reasons. The first and foremost reason of them all though is that, much like the kaiju Anguirus prior to his update in Godzilla Final Wars, Gorosaurus is, relatively speaking, a normal if incredibly oversized dinosaur. He possesses no powers or abilities that make him distinct from any other dinosaurian save for a distinctive attack unique either to himself as an individual or as a species.

This attack being of course the infamous “kangaroo kick,” which is exactly as it sounds. Gorosaurus falls back onto his tail and slams both feet forward in a devastating kick to his opponent, which in the case of King Ghidorah, sent the three-headed monster flat onto all of his faces. Of course, against his sworn enemy King Kong, it made the ape more angry than injured and resulted in Gorosaurus having his jaw broken as a result of earning the Eighth Wonder’s ire.

Of course, back at the time, both Gorosaurus and King Kong were of a much smaller stature than what they eventually grew into when they encountered the King of Monsters. In point of fact, given the slight variation in Gorosaurus’ vocalization between his premiere film and Destroy All Monsters, it is quite likely that he and Kong both were mere adolescents at the time and that his full stature of 35 meters is his maximum height.

Also, to put an end to a surprisingly popular misconception, Gorosaurus cannot burrow underground. The scene that depicts him doing as such in Paris was an unintentional scene as, originally, Baragon was intended to be the one attack the Arc de Triumph but the film crew realized too late that the original suit was too badly damaged to be used and still depict the character properly. As such, Gorosaurus was stuck in and the “flubbed” line of Baragon was utilized in the dub version to further insist the fact that not one but two kaiju were attacking France.

Moving on towards the origins of Gorosaurus let me first speak of his name and the reasoning behind it. To put it simply, there is none, at least not on any official record. Debate amongst the fans differ but the most common idea is that Gorosaurus was derived from the Japanese word gorogoro which translates to “thunder” thus making his name, in essence, “Thunder Lizard.”

The other is that it is an intentional misspelling of the name Gorgosaurus, a species of dinosaur that likely helped originate the concept of Gorosaurus as early skeletal renditions were of the atypical, and incredibly incorrect, upright posture that many theropods dinosaurs were known for back in the day.

As to the actual origin behind Gorosaurus in the films, not much is said of it beyond the idea that Gorosaurus, much like Anguirus, is likely a species of evolved dinosaur that managed to survive the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period. Like Anguirus is similar to species of ankylosaur, Gorosaurus bears a strong resemblance to the allosaurid family and may even be a direct descendent of the Allosaurus species.

Character wise, there’s not much to say of Gorosaurus. He is a predator, of that there can be no doubt or question, and has shown a penchant for preferring weaker prey via his attempt at eating humans prior to Kong’s intervention. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Gorosaurus is a coward or a weakling by any means.

He has gone toe to claw with the likes of King freaking Kong, arguably the first true kaiju that the world has ever seen, and had even combatted, and won, against the likes of King Ghidorah. Sure, he had help from a lot of other monsters, mostly Godzilla and Anguirus, but he actually managed to knock King Ghidorah off his feet, a feat no other kaiju had succeeded in with the same ease as Gorosaurus did.

Of course, rather than facing King Ghidorah directly as Anguirus and Godzilla did, Gorosaurus opted to biting down upon one of King Ghidorah’s two tails but still, to his credit, a pain in the tail seems to be an inherent weakness in all kaiju as Godzilla himself has demonstrated more than once in several incarnations.

If such a creature as Gorosaurus were to appear in our world, I have little to no doubt that he would easily be killed, if not hopefully corralled. He is an animal but one that, for reasons that I really can’t explain, I like amongst the many “lesser known” kaiju of the Showa era of Godzilla films.

Maybe it’s his distinctive design that tickles at my childhood memory of dinosaurs, wrong posture and all. Perhaps it’s just how he has been portrayed more recently in the brilliant works of Matt Frank and IDW’s Godzilla: Rulers of Earth comic series. Either way, I can’t help but like the big lug and I hope, sincerely and truly, that there is a chance of further inclusion with him in any future Godzilla media.

The monsters from Earth cannot win…

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DESTROY ALL MONSTERS


Japanese Title: Attack of the Marching Monsters
Directed By:
Ishirō Honda
Written By: Ishirō Honda & Takeshi Kimura
American Distribution By: American International Pictures

In the Godzilla film series, I doubt that there is one that does not stick out as clearly in the minds and hearts of the fans as Destroy All Monsters does. It is a film that had never been attempted before and though another had been made in the form of Godzilla: Final War, that film was lacking the heart of its predecessor. That and in all honesty, I thought Final War as being a wee bit over-the-top in Godzilla’s prowess and coming from me, who proudly proclaims him the prime predator of preposterously proportioned pests, that’s saying something.

Of the Showa era of Godzilla films, Destroy All Monsters had the largest budget and it would need it too what with it containing a whopping total of eleven monsters in all. In truth, Destroy All Monsters was intended to be the last Godzilla film of the era, if not entirely, but thankfully it became quite the sensation and Godzilla came back to the silver screen for six more films before “retirement.”

The film itself is, technically speaking, the “last” of the Showa era of films as it takes place, chronologically speaking, in the “distant future” of 1999 where all of Earth’s surviving kaiju have been corralled onto the small island chain of Ogasawara Island, which has since been renamed by the populace as “Monster Island” or “Monsterland.”

The kaiju of Earth live in relative peace on the island and are kept there in a variety of methods depending on the kaiju in question. Some, like the enormous spider Kumonga, are incapable of swimming or flight and thus are permanently trapped on the island. Others like Rodan or Varan are capable of flight but are repelled by extremely powerful force field projectors limiting their mobility in the air to a tight bubble around the island.

Those capable of swimming (like Godzilla and Mothra in her larval form) are repelled by a series of specialized gas canisters that… honestly, I don’t know precisely what they contain. For Mothra, it look like some form of pesticide or anti-insect repellant whereas Godzilla’s seemed to contain something that either A) neutralizes radiation or, more likely, B) gases capable of drastically lowering his body temperature.

Just an interesting FYI, that’s actually how they managed to bring Godzilla and his adopted offspring Minilla to the island in the first place.

Unfortunately, an apocalypse of epic proportions begins in the form of an attack on the island that knocks out all of the scientists in their hidden laboratory beneath the ocean and the monsters as well. When communications are at last re-established at the island, the UNSC discovers that the island has been nearly destroyed and the monsters are now on the attack across the world in a level of unprecedented coordination.

Rodan soars over Moscow, obliterating everything in his path as he traverses the skies at Mach speed. Baragon and Gorosaurus team up to destroy Paris with the burrower destroying the catacombs beneath the city while the last of the dinosaurs emerges from under the Arc de Triumph. Mothra makes a nuiscane of herself in the streets of Beijing while Godzilla appears at the shores of New York City and sets the skyscrapers of the Big Apple ablaze in nuclear fire.

Captain Yamabe and his crew of the specialized spaceship Moonlight SY-3 are ordered to return to Earth and investigate the base on Monster Island in hopes of finding the cause of the worldwide monster attack. There they discover the scientists, including the dear captain’s significant other, not only alive and well but under the complete control of the Kiilakians, a race of aliens hailing from the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

The team manage to escape by the skin of their teeth and manage to successfully capture the lead scientist of the island as well. Unfortunately, the man commits suicide but in death, he proved to have overcome the alien’s control for in the ensuing autopsy, the UNSC discovered the means by which the Kiilakians control humans and kaiju alike. Using the miniature device to their advantage, the UNSC manages to locate and destroy the miniaturized projectors hidden and scattered across the globe. These projectors are quite small, no bigger than a coconut, and are found in all manner of places and objects. One was actually in fact found in a coconut. Their range though is nothing short of astounding, being able to project the mind control signal in a 2,000 km radius.

Unfortunately, the Kiilakians press their advantage while they still have it, unleashing not one but four monsters to attack Tokyo. Rodan descends from the skies while Manda encircles the city in her massive coils. Mothra appears from the subways and Godzilla is the mere icing on the cake and Tokyo is all but destroyed completely by the four kaiju who are eventually repelled.

Captain Yamabe’s girlfriend shows up at the UNSC base to deliver the ultimatum by the Kiilakians, that we as a species must submit to their control and the monsters will be returned to Monster Island and corralled there. She tells them of the Kiilakians having a base at Inzu before her lover tackles her and manages to free her from the mind control as she was given a pair of earrings for receivers rather than a direct implant in her head like her fellow scientist.

Eventually, and boy do I mean eventually, Earth manages to locate the source of the control waves and the Kiilaks’ base on the moon is destroyed and with its destruction, the monsters come under Earth’s control. Together, the monsters are made to attack the Kiilakian base on Earth, located in the heart of Mount Fuji but are interrupted by the one monster that the Kiilakian’s still have under their control.

King Ghidorah.

Though all ten of Earth’s monsters are present at the scene, only a small handful of them take the fight to King Ghidorah. Godzilla of course leads the fray with his spiked buddy Anguirus following close behind with a surprising aid found in the form of Gorosaurus. Rodan offers support with his expansive wings, knocking King Ghidorah off balance while Kumonga and Mothra both try to ensnare the three-headed dragon with their webbing.

This fight is as long as it is brutal with King Ghidorah coming out the worst for it throughout the fight. Eventually, the King of Terror is slain one head at a time. The first head to fall, the right, has its throat torn apart by the fangs of Anguirus while its opposite head has its neck crushed beneath Godzilla’s feet. The last central head is unable to take the horrific feedback of its fellow heads’ being slain and is felled by Godzilla’s son Minilla via a smoke ring.

… Wow. Just… wow. The tales they’ll tell of the King of Terror’s penultimate demise at the hands of a hatchling kaiju breathing a cloud of smoke…

To wrap up this long summary, the aliens are wiped out, the monsters willingly return back to Monster Island and life, as usual, goes on. Overall, this movie is certainly not the worst of the Godzilla films but… really, aside from the awesomeness of seeing multiple kaiju in a single scene, particularly that climatic battle at the end, there’s really not much for it.

The aliens invading earth via controlling monsters was done previously, and personally much better, in the film Invasion of the Astro-Monster. There, the aliens at least had something of a reason for attacking Earth and were even believable as a cold and deadly threat. The Kiilakians though… they just don’t carry that kind of terror with them and even when their inherent weakness and true forms are revealed, it makes them even more pathetic. Kiilakians are, apparently, a race of heat-sensitive metallic-skinned worms that can only assume, and maintain, a female humanoid form with extreme temperatures but once that temperature drops to a certain degree, they revert back to their base form.

The human side of the story, while quite prevalent to the kaiju side of things, is frankly speaking rather boring for the most part. Honestly, save for the first time that I watched the film I can’t help but skip ahead to the more important parts of the film, those being of course the monster scenes.

That is really sad for a Godzilla movie to have the human element be so lackluster but then again, it could be more because there just wasn’t anything to emotionally invest in them. Most of the human characters in these types of films, you can’t help but feel something for, be it a scientist trying to understand the incomprehensible or a soldier trying to topple the unstoppable, there always someone with heart behind them.

The kaiju side however delivers itself in spades though I do admit the number of kaiju present in the film is somewhat questionable. In the case of some monsters like Varan or Baragon, the original costumes had either been destroyed or were badly damaged to a point that they couldn’t be shown completely on screen and so were reduced to a mere cameo appearance.

The idea of monsters being corralled into a single place before being set loose upon the world, intentionally or accidentally, is not altogether a wholly unique idea to the Godzilla franchise or films as a whole. In point of fact, there are quite a lot of films that follow a similar premise to this one though the scale of the monsters involved and the purpose behind their containment varies.

In the case of Destroy All Monsters however, the idea of us, as a species, managing to corral all of these monsters is, at this time, incredibly unbelievable. It might be something that can be accomplished with “normal” kaiju like Gorosaurus or Manda who have no special powers aside from their massive size, but for the likes of a creature like Godzilla, a living, breathing natural disaster?

Not a chance.

As I said previously, the largest number of kaiju on screen occurs during the climatic battle with King Ghidorah and I can honestly go whole pages about how amazing a fight that was but I won’t. Honestly, I can’t put to words what is best seen on an actual screen so, if you can find it, go forth and watch Destroy All Monsters. The human element may be lackluster but the kaiju side lives up to the name!

The Destroyer of Worlds…

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KING GHIDORAH (SHOWA)


Aliases:
Monster Zero, The Thousand Year Dragon, The King of Terror
Height: 100 Meters (328 Feet)
Wingspan:
150 Meters (492 Feet)
Mass:
30,000 Tons (66138.7 lbs.)
Premiered in:
Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster

In the Showa era of Godzilla films, King Ghidorah’s origins are never fully explained with crystal clarity but the one thing that is made abundantly clear in every appearance he’s made. He is a killer, a truer force of destruction and death than even the likes of Godzilla at the Monster King’s absolute worst (bar one particular rendition). King Ghidorah is a planet killer, a destroyer of worlds and an ender of life across the galaxy.

Prior to his appearance on Earth, he is credited for wiping out the Martian civilization in the span of an Earth month. Though not outright stated it is hinted in various other media, and shown outright in one incarnation, that King Ghidorah may be the force that wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the cretaceous period.

The debate of whether King Ghidorah possesses the same degree of sentience that Godzilla and other kaiju have previously displayed, in the King of Terror’s premiere film no less, is debatable due to one particularly interesting quirk of King Ghidorah’s appearances. For the most part, King Ghidorah has been under the control of an alien species seeking to wipe human life from the planet.

To be fair though, similar methods were used and had easily worked on Earth kaiju as well but the fact remains that King Ghidorah has predominately been a slave to an alien races’ bidding in most of his attacks on Earth.

However, that does not forgive the Golden Monarch his crimes for though he may be commanded to attack and lay waste to Earth and all that stand in his way, King Ghidorah still acts to his own will. He focuses on the weakest of opponents first, taking enjoyment in tearing down their best efforts of attacking him before moving on to the larger threats. If he happens to be paired with an “ally” kaiju, most commonly the cyborg Gigan, King Ghidorah stands back and enjoys the show before adding his own efforts to the fray. Heck, if that ally should happen to strike him, by purpose or by accident, King Ghidorah will enact vengeance swiftly and viciously.

King Ghidorah’s abilities include flying at Mach 3, which is roughly 2,283 miles per hour, though this is recorded only in Earth’s atmosphere so his top speed in the emptiness of space is currently unknown. On that note, King Ghidorah is also capable of surviving and traveling through space either by direct flight via his wings or by encasing himself in a meteoric “cocoon” and traveling through the stars while asleep and gathering energies from solar radiation.

King Ghidorah’s signature ability however is his lightning-bolt shaped “gravity beams.” According to the aptly named Superpowers Wiki, gravity beam emission is the ability to project beams of gravity capable of repelling objects, opponents, and attacks. It can also be used to attract enemies into the beams and bring them closer for greater gravity-infused impacts. King Ghidorah however specializes in utilizing his gravity beams to pulverize large areas with destructive concussive force.

King Ghidorah is commonly labeled as being Godzilla’s chief antagonist though it can be argued as to how big a threat he posses whence compared to other foes. In my own opinion, yes King Ghidorah is most certainly deserving of the title of being Godzilla’s number one villain if only for his tenacity and frequency in combating the Monster King at every opportunity but as to being the strongest… Out of the various incarnations, I can’t honestly label any version of King Ghidorah as being that big a threat against Godzilla, at least whence compared to such monstrosities like Destroyah or Orga.

One other notable aspect of King Ghidorah’s character is that he is, in his heart of hearts, something of a coward when it comes to fighting to the death. In every fight he’s been in, King Ghidorah has fled back towards space with his metaphorical tails between his legs each time save for one. A fight that by all rights, King Ghidorah should not have fought alone and yet he did so not because he was forced to by his then current controllers but because frankly… He wanted to kill Godzilla and any other kaiju that dared to stand in King Ghidorah’s way, that dared to think themselves his equal or his better…

In that final battle, King Ghidorah would show them, and the world, why his name bears the title of king.

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When the monster passes, only flaming ruins are left…

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GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER


AKA:
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
Japanese Title: Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth
Directed By:
Ishirō Honda
Written By: Shinichi Sekizawa
American Distribution By: Continental Distributing

Though technically the fifth film in the Godzilla series of films from Japan, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (as it was originally entitled by Continental Distributing) had in it a lot of firsts for the franchise. To start with, it was the first Godzilla film to feature not only Godzilla but Mothra and Rodan as well, the later of whom had only been featured in his own titular film while the former had combatted, and bested, Godzilla via her two offspring.

Think about that for a moment people. Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the walking nuclear disaster, bested by a pair of overgrown caterpillars.

Moving on from that though, this was the first film to hint that Godzilla possessed a significant amount of intelligence contrary to the American scenes interjected in the earlier film King Kong vs. Godzilla. It is also the first film to start the long series of films that showcased Godzilla as a hero rather than a villain by presenting his main antagonist for years to come, King Ghidorah.

The basic summary of the film goes that the titular monster of the film, Ghidorah, has come to Earth to lay waste to it just as he had done previously for Mars and it up to the likes of the monsters Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra to stop it. The only problem is… Well, more on that in a bit.

The human side of the film is technically speaking, divided in two. One side focuses on a police detective and the princess of a fictious land whom is assigned to guard from any attempts at assassination while she visits Japan. The princess, Selina Saigo of Selgina, is fortunately ensnared by the likes of a Martian spirit and is safely whisked off her plane just as the bomb aboard it explodes. The princess later turns up, in alternate garb and in full sway to the Martian intelligence whom tries to warn the people of Earth of the oncoming disasters that its psychic powers predict will soon occur. The first several of these disasters involve the awakening/reemergence of the kaiju Rodan and Godzilla respectively.

In a ironic twist of fate, the Martian’s predictions inadvertently save the lives of the handmaidens to Mothra, a pair of twin girls commonly reffered to as the “Fairies” of Mothra due to their small stature but are more often than not named by their Japanese title of “Shobijin,” which means “small beauties” in Japanese.

The other side of the human story involves a team of scientists trying to analyze a strange meteor that had recently fallen to Earth. The meteor not only possesses intense and constantly fluctuating magnetic properties, but it is also growing larger overtime until the truth is revealed. The meteor is actually a vessel and contained inside it is the very monster that laid waste to the Martian’s people and home the golden dragon of death King Ghidorah.

This takes us to the monsters’ side of the film wherein Rodan and Godzilla, both having terrorized the country of Japan, have finally encountered each other and proceed to fight their way across Japan.

Of course, being a part of the Showa era, the fight between the two goes from being seriously deadly to seriously silly. Godzilla’s fiery breath is severely lacking and though Rodan does his best to peck out Godzilla’s eyes, the best he manages to do is seriously annoy the King of Monsters.

Still, one of my two favorite moments in the fight are when Rodan manages to grab Godzilla and haul him up high enough into the air to drop him down onto a series of power lines, inadvertently saving the life of the Martian possessed princess. The other moment is what I affectionately refer to as kaiju volleyball, a segment of events that happens more often than you think in the Godzilla franchise. The game, as it were, is played when one of the two kaiju, Godzilla more often than not, kicks and/or tosses a rock at the opposing kaiju who delivers it right back in a similar manner. Rinse and repeat and presto!

Mothra is eventually summoned by the Shobijin, at the behest of the Japanese government no less, in the hopes that she can try to convince the two titans to cease their quarrel with each other and together combat against the larger threat that is posed by King Ghidorah.

Recall earlier when I stated that Godzilla’s true intelligence is at last made clear in this film, or at least in this the Showa era of films. It is in this particular scene that we learn that Godzilla is not only intelligent enough to be sentient but both he, and Rodan, recognize our species and states outright that have gotten nothing but trouble from us and that we hate them. Heck, the Shobijin even go so far as to try and scold Godzilla for his horrible language as they translate for the watching humans.

Eventually, talks break down as Godzilla and Rodan state that they want to continue fight each other, demanding an apology from the other for prior actions and Mothra, fed up with their bullheadedness, leaves to combat Ghidorah on her own, much to the surprise of the two larger, and far stronger kaiju who watch the giant caterpillar crawl off to combat against Ghidorah.

The ensuing fight between the two goes as well as can be expected with Ghidorah effortlessly dealing with Mothra without even laying a direct hit upon her. However, much to the surprise of the watching humans, both Godzilla and Rodan come in to the rescue with the King of Monsters himself running down the mountainside to put himself between Mothra and Ghidorah’s deadly blasts. The fight, which is surprisingly well done considering the level of effects at the time, eventually ends with Ghidorah fleeing for space.

The human side has its ups and downs and is rather unfortunately ruined by the English dubbing that, as of yet, hasn’t been rectified since. The dub is certainly no the worst I’ve ever seen but… they just can’t seem to find the right women to due the female voices for these films and they always just sound so… Annoying and/or grating to me.

Despite this though, the human side does play at some part to the kaiju side. It was the humans, or rather the Martian, who had saved the lives of the Shobijin whose death would no doubt incur Mothra’s wrath upon Godzilla, the cause of their sunk boat, and the humans that swore to protect them until they returned to Infant Island.

Oh, and for those who are no doubt wondering as to what became of the princess, she is eventually freed from the Martian’s hold, ironically, by the very assassin sent to kill her, who in turn is killed via the collateral damage dealt out by the giant monster brawl happening not even a mile away. Though it is heavily hinted at it, no actual romance occurs for between the princess and her detective bodyguard.

Between the two, the kaiju side of things is arguably the bigger draw with King Ghidorah posing as the biggest threat that the planet had ever seen up to this point what with him having laid waste to Mars in less than an Earth month, as quoted by the Martian. If such a creature like King Ghidorah were to arrive on Earth, I doubt that we could do anything to truly stop it as the Martian quoted that our technologies, including weapons, are several centuries behind theirs and considering Ghidorah can withstand Godzilla’s atomic breath, to a point at least, that means nuclear weaponry is a big no-no.

An Age of Monsters…

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My apologies to my readers for the lack of updates last week, family and personal matters came first for the last several days but now, I’m back! Seeing as I’ve now finished my top ten favorite films and characters, I will now be doing my top ten favorite Godzilla films with Fridays being the day that I review the film in question while the following Monday will be about whichever kaiju (giant monster) that is featured in that film.

As Godzilla films have a certain formula to them, I will be focusing on three aspects in particular towards them. The first being the human side of the film and whether or not the human characters affect the overall outcome of the kaiju side of the story. As to the kaiju side of the plot, I’ll be focusing  on the threat the kaiju towards humans as a species versus the entirety of the world and whether such a monster could be put down or contained in our own modern world. The last part of the films that I’ll be reviewing will be on the film as a whole and whether or not it is one that can be enjoyed time and time again for its sheer awesomeness or utter silliness.

Why don’t you do right…?

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JESSICA RABBIT

jessica-rabbit
Hometown:
Toontown, California
Spouse: Roger Rabbit
Occupation:
Singer at the Ink & Paint Club, Background Actress in Maroon Studios
Premiered in:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Voiced By: Kathleen Turner (Regular) Amy Irving (Singing)

Now I know what you’re all thinking and I’m not going to lie and say that Jessica’s appearance wasn’t something of a factor in why I chose her as my favorite overall character in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. However, her looks are a piece of the greater puzzle that is the reasoning of my choice of her being my favorite in the film with her titular husband, Roger, being a close second and the vile Judge Doom still ranking amongst my top three personal scare-me-witless villains, not to be confused with my top ten favorite villains overall. Believe me, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

One of the chief reasons that I like Jessica Rabbit is because… well, to paraphrase the opinions of the Nostalgia Critic, hers and Roger’s relationship was intentionally made to be an odd couple. Taking aside the fact that Roger is a anthropomorphic rabbit, he and Jessica are virtually polar opposites of the other with him being the loveable little dork who wears his heart on a sleeve for the whole world to see while Jessica… She’s cool, distant, and guards herself and those precious to her fiercely and violently if need be.

That scene when we’re first introduced to Jessica, Eddie Valiant’s reaction was almost a carbon copy of my own the first time I saw her because me and my kid self, but something was soon said by another character, the famous Betty Boop no less, that got the gears slowly turning in my young mind. When Eddie expresses his disbelief that Jessica is Roger Rabbit’s wife, Betty responds with a loving sigh stating that Jessica is indeed a lucky girl.

And that, right there ladies and gentlemen, is one of the seeds that sprung my liking of Jessica Rabbit though it did not extend into a full tree until her own conversations with Eddie Valiant later on in the film. See, the major plot around Jessica is that Roger’s acting has been substandard lately and his employer, one R.K. Maroon, thinks it has something to do with Jessica and so hires Eddie to spy on her and find out if rumors of her having an affair are true.

Unfortunately for Roger, there are indeed true and Eddie provides photographic evidence of her cheating on him with Marvin Acme, founder of Acme Corporation and owner of Toontown, playing patty cake with her. Literally.

No. You read correctly, Marvin and Jessica played patty cake with each other. I’m… I’m not going to delve too far into this but I think that this is the American toons’ equivalence to what occurs behind locked doors, if you catch my meaning, and this makes me really wonder how “toons” are like in Japan and I’m going to stop here before I go down a rabbit hole that leads to an altogether mind-meltingly maddening wonderland.

On a similarly related side-note however, it would appear that American toons, as a whole, can’t consume anything with real alcohol in it as they, or at least Roger, go into a massive fit that eventually results in them, namely Roger, changing into a literal train whistle shrieking at such a high pitch that they shatter anything even remotely made of glass within the vicinity.

Random I know but interesting nonetheless.

Anyway, a distraught Roger vows that he and Jessica will be happy before running off into the night. The next morning, Eddie is visited by an old cop friend of his who informs him that Roger is the lead suspect of the murder of Marvin Acme and, at the scene of the crime itself, we see the first bit of actual face-to-face communication between Jessica and Eddie.

With a slap right to the old kisser by the redhead with a declaration that she hopes he’s proud of himself and the pictures he took before marching off. The second time however, Jessica is in an entirely better mood as she professes that she too is a pawn in a much grander scheme, just like her husband, and that she wants Eddie to help her find him. At Eddie’s accusation that she is in fact part of the scam for Maroon to end up possessing Toontown, she denies it and states that she well and truly loves her husband and that Eddie, like most men, are under the assumption that… Well, to make a direct quote:

I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

That, right there, really got me thinking folks and really paying attention to Jessica’s actions from there on out. Especially at her confession that Maroon forced her to enter the affair with Acme so that Maroon could blackmail him and threaten to have Roger fired and never being able to work as a toon in any production ever again. She goes on further to say that she’d do anything for her husband which… yeah, does sound bad considering that she does seem to be trying to put the moves on Eddie but…

Well, think about it for a moment here. Jessica is a toon, and not just any toon, but a American toon and one whose career was made in the mid to late 1940’s. That would mean that she is likely very similar to the very toons from whom she is based, chiefly being Red Hot Riding (for her appearance) and Tinkerbell (her sassiness). Meaning that, if she was indeed forced to pose for those pictures for Maroon, then she need not do anything more for the likes of Eddie and would, quite likely, pull the old frying pan to the head trick.

The same trick that she would later use on Roger before stuffing him into the trunk of her car to quote, “so he wouldn’t get hurt.”

Toon logic. It’s better if you don’t think too hard about it.

As the saying goes, the third times the charm and when next Eddie and Jessica meet up, it’s in the heart of Toontown itself where she actually comes onto the scene with gun in hand to save Eddie’s life from the real culprit behind every, Judge Doom. At the Judge fleeing the scene, the two try to pursue him but find that Jessica’s car is not only trashed but that Eddie’s is missing with a trail of destruction left in its wake with Jessica professing that Roger is the likely culprit as he is a better lover than a driver.

… Nope. Said what I wanted to say about it before, not going any further.

Finally, one of the last bits of major introspective into Jessica’s character comes when Eddie questions her in what she actually sees in Roger to which she replies, straight as can be, that Roger makes her laugh.

This coming from a woman that for the majority of her screen time was cool as a ice and even when expressing her concerns and fears, didn’t really change much in the way of facial expression? In point of fact, the one and only time that Jessica’s face expresses to a literally emotional, and almost toon-like, degree is when Judge Doom reveals his plans for Toontown with a machine holding over five thousand gallons of the toon-killing Dip.

I even went so far as to find and watch the Roger Rabbit cartoon shorts that were released in theaters before actual films, of which they are currently three, and though Jessica is featured in all of them, only in one does she truly emote to the same degree as this. In a classic redoing of the damsel-in-distress-via-train gag (by way of roller coaster no less), Jessica “cries out” for someone to save her. Of course, by “cries out” I mean her usual sultry whisper until Roger yells out a loud “WHAT?!” to which she responds with an equally loud, and surprisingly fiery, “SAVE ME!”

That line of Roger making Jessica laugh, and thus falling in love with him… I think that, ladies and gentlemen, is a greater mystery than the true identity of Judge Doom because honestly, I keep trying to picture Jessica Rabbit laughing like any toon would and I keep ending up with a blank picture.

Now, as I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone, Jessica Rabbit is in fact one of the most popular of Disney characters but the range of her popularity goes farther than I think most would suspect. Though the place is no longer in operation, Jessica Rabbit was the de-facto mascot of Pleasure Island, a nightclub/shopping area located in Walt Disney World. In point of fact, Jessica even had her own store there aptly named Jessica’s that featured nothing but merchandise featuring her from dress and gowns to make-up and jewelry and more besides. Unfortunately, Pleasure Island has long since been renovated for broader audiences and the store has long since hung up its closed sign. Still, there is much to be found and had at Jessica’s personal website located here: ImNotBad.com.

Overall, Jessica may not be the most pure hearted of Disney characters but there’s no denying that she has a heart unlike any other to come before or since. Though princesses have risen and fallen in popularity throughout the years, there is no doubt that Jessica’s place in the hearts and minds of fans young and old is forever cemented if not for her physical appearance than by that of her actions, of a wife willing to do anything to protect her husband even if it means breaking his heart to do so.

A laugh can be a very powerful thing…

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WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT


Directed By:
Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay By:
Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman
Based On: Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
Production Company:
Touchstone Pictures & Amblin Entertainment
Distributed By: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

Is it any wonder that this film holds a slot amongst my personal top three and, through chance, earned the rank of number one this time around? Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a film of unbelievable success in so many variety of ways that I can’t even begin to count them all, though for the sake of this review I will do my best.

The basic summary of the film goes that an A-List cartoon star of the 1940’s, the titular Roger Rabbit, is framed for murder and it is up to him and private detective Eddie Valiant to find out the truth of the crime before the black-hearted Judge Doom and his Toon Patrol carries out the execution by way of the Dip.

What makes this film such a success however is not just the story itself, which I must say is a very original take on the classic detective stories of its era done up with a bit of the 1980’s flair. No, what makes this film truly stand out is the near unbelievable cooperation that occurred between rival companies Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios in using their characters and having them share the silver screen for the first, and likely the last, time.

Of course, this is in no small thanks to Steven Spielberg, who managed to not only convince Warner Bros., but Fleischer Studios, King Features Syndicate, Felix the Cat Productions, Turner Entertainment, and even Universal Studios to get in on the act, though many a stipulation had been made to guarantee the accurate, and fair, portrayal of the characters involved.

The most obvious of this stipulation is seen predominately in the main duos of Donal Duck with Daffy Duck playing the piano as well as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny skydiving. Though most don’t catch this at first, both pairs of characters share not only the exact same amount of screen time to the other but are both equal at whatever it is that they’re doing.

Something similar had been done for the more recent film of Wreck-It Ralph, specifically the villains support group with characters like Doctor Eggman, Bowser, and M. Bison. The respected game studios for those characters were more than heavily involved in that scene and, for a time, got caught up in something of a fight with each other as to how big their respected characters should be in comparison to the others. In the end, it took Disney animators stating that if the studios kept adding height to their characters, Ralph and the “original” villains would be gnats in a room full of giants.

But I digress.

The biggest success for Who Framed Roger Rabbit I feel was not just the stunning amount of work involved in integrating traditionally animated characters in a real world setting, something that had been done before but never to this detailed degree, but rather the sudden spark it brought in the people. This film is credited at not only renewing interest in the Golden Age of Animation, with classic cartoons like Tom & Jerry or The Looney Tunes, but in helping spearhead the modern era of American animation, particularly the Disney Renaissance!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is also the first live-action/animation film to win not one but FOUR Academy Awards, the first to do so since the likes of Mary Poppins back in 1964. Though nominated for more, Who Framed Roger Rabbit went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, and a Special Achievement Award for, quote, “animation direction and creation of the cartoon characters.”

As to the music of the film, like any cartoon film it does have a two “musical” moments though that’s quite a stretch at the definition as all three are not only short, they’re sensible. Well, as sensible as any musical moment can be with cartoon characters involved but my point still stands that they don’t come straight out of nowhere and make at least a bit of sense in the overall scheme of things! This is also one of, if not the only, film of its kind that have a wide range of music from the zippy fun times of a cartoon jingle to the dark, somber tunes of a murder-mystery and still somehow work.

As to whether or not this is a movie for kids… Really, it’s up to the parents’ discretion. Personally, I watched this movie when I was all of a toddler if even that old and all of the mature stuff flew so far over my head I’m sure the Moon gave a hearty wave at it passing by. Even without that understanding I still greatly enjoyed the movie then and love it even more now as an adult. I sincerely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys the golden age of cartoons and to those who enjoy a good murder mystery because really, where else are you ever going to find both?

To wrap up this review… I’ll share two interesting facts about the character of Roger Rabbit as, unfortunately, he is not my favorite character in the film and while I may discuss him in further detail, I found these two tidbits to be too interesting to keep to myself. Firstly, Roger Rabbit is a cartoon amalgamation of many popular cartoon characters. He has the atypical Tex Avery cashew nut-shaped head, the tuft of red hair much like Droopy Dog, Goofy’s overalls, Porky Pig’s bow tie, Mickey Mouse’s gloves, and the ears and cheeks of Bugs Bunny.

The second fact… Well… I believe the saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words so I can’t help but wonder just how much this one is worth….

Here’s where lost wishes are granted…

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CAMILLE

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Domain:
Slumberland
Premiered in: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989)
Voiced By: Laura Mooney

Just as I had done for the Disney Princesses, I will follow a similar format for the case of Princess Camille of Slumberland by speaking of her domain, her “sidekicks,” and her love interest following my take on her character.

Princess Camille was the first true princess character to break the common mold that I had made of royalty and of girls as a whole. At least for back when I was a naïve little boy that thought most girls were bereft with such things as cooties. During a time where I believed that princesses were made for saving and couldn’t offer much more than a kiss to their savior, that is of course if they weren’t being a general pain in the butt. Camille broke a lot of those expectations that I had of her though she did try her best to stand true to them.

Upon first being introduced to Nemo she is understandably less than impressed by his appearance given the fact that he is, after all, dressed in his pajamas, which she mistakes for being underwear. She goes on further to comment on Icarus, Nemo’s flying squirrel pet, to not being invited by her, and her father, and his being a rat to which neither boy nor squirrel take to kindly. Nemo, unsurprisingly, gives her a proper chewing out for it to which she responds in a way that neither he nor I could have expected.

She giggled. Honestly, giggles at him and even calls him cute before apologizing to him, saying that she did in fact not specify that he be dressed in formal attire. Of course, she unfortunately keeps calling Icarus a rat to which Nemo does demand an apology for, which she does deliver but to Nemo himself who responds that she should be apologizing to his rat and not him. Icarus, fed up with the both of them, climbs up atop a fountain to get away from them both despite the two apologizing for the unfortunate name-calling. Nemo climbs up after him but ends up slipping and falling to another unexpected action from Camille. As he falls, Camille runs to and successfully manages to catch him and Icarus though the three of them land in a bed of flowers as a result.

Less than five minutes and Camille broke what once were cardinal rules for princesses in my young little mind but the one that shattered the very foundation occurs much later in the film. The scene in question involves the infamous Flip the Clown who, upon being revealed that he possesses a map to Nightmare Land and is written in a code only he can read, teases the princess by asking if she’s going to come along with him, Nemo, and the Professor to Nightmare Land as well. He even offers her the chance to carry his cigars before blowing a cloud of smoke up into her hair and says that she’s rather cute when she’s angry.

I believe this little snippet below sums up her reaction rather nicely.

BOOM! Right hook to the face! My reaction was virtually a carbon copy to that of Nemo, Icarus, the Professor, and even the royal guards, a gasp of pure surprise. Back then, my little toddler self was under the impression that no girl, a princess especially, could hold her own in a fight and then here comes Camille who delivers a swift right hook to the clown that nearly sends him straight to unconsciousness though her royal decree forbidding him from smoking manages it just fine.

As to Camille’s domain of Slumberland, it is a world of dreams and exotic fantasies where such things as friendly crocogators, music enjoying dinosaurs, and flying ostriches exist. What’s really peculiar though is the fact that most if not all of the denizens are either dressed like they’d come straight from the circus or the highest of nobility and are all quite eccentric in their ways. I say this in the sense that those attending the party declaring Nemo as King Morpheus’ heir arrive by way of animal drawn carriages that include such creatures as lions, camels, flying peacocks, ginormous bunnies, and elephants.

The kingdom itself is rather… interpretive as to what is actually the palace itself of the royal family and what is the kingdom as a whole as the majority of the buildings look close to being the same. The fact that there seems to be no distinction of class, that everyone and anyone is treated equally and fairly save for the troublemaking Flip, who more than deserves the ire of the people, certainly doesn’t help matters.

As far as Slumberland’s connection to the waking world, it is never truly stated outright how deeply it is connected to our world but its connection to its polar opposite, Nightmare Land, is painfully evident. Upon the Nightmare’s release and the loss of King Morpheus, Slumberland is swiftly turned into a wasteland of crumbling towers sinking into the encroaching waves of a hungry ocean.

Contrary to most princesses of her era, Camille does and does not have a sidekick in the sense that while she has something of a favored companion in the form of BonBon, the candy girl in question is only seen in a few select scenes. Oh, and by candy girl, I mean that literally. BonBon, like most of her kind, is made up entirely of candy. If you feel the need to question this, please remember we are talking about a world that is made up entirely of dreams and nightmares alike so sensibility/actuality takes a flying nosedive out the window here.

As to Camille’s love interest, the titular Nemo… I think I will save a more in-depth review of his character for a later date but I will delve a bit into their relationship. Initially, Camille and Nemo do not get along but upon making up and making friends the two become quite close to the point that it is the mere sight of Nightmare attempting to do her harm that breaks Nemo’s silence and reveals his hiding place in the heart of Nightmare’s Castle.

At the end of their adventures, and Nemo’s dream, Camille joins Nemo on his journey back home and marvels at the sights of New York City (of the early 1900’s) before she tells Nemo that she did have fun with him during the little time they had together and with tears falling from her eyes, leans forward with puckered lips. Though initially surprised, Nemo reciprocates the kiss and that’s precisely the moment that he wakes up.

Awakened by true love’s kiss indeed…

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Floating on a cloud of happy dreams…

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LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND


Directed By:
Masami Hata & William Hurtz
Screenplay By:
Chris Columbus & Richard Outten
Based On: Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland
Production Company:
Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Distributed By: Hemdale Pictures

When it comes to my personal top three favorite films, it’s really a matter of chance on where they fall for really I can’t honestly pick one over the other as far as being my “number one” favorite film. As such this film as well the film Alice in Wonderland are virtually tied with the film that has currently earned the right to first place.

Seeing as I’ve already done a brief interlude on the background behind Little Nemo in Slumberland with my review of my favorite villain of the film The Nightmare, I’ll simply leave the aforementioned link for those whom are interested in reading the history before going on to the film proper.

As stated in The Nightmare’s review, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland was a joint project between Japan and America that was, rather unfortunately, a box office flop despite great reception from movie goers and having something of a cult following in the years since. A lot of people were involved in the creation of the film and their contributions are almost blindingly obvious in some cases.

Specifically, in the case of the artist known famously by the name of Moebius whose works are cited as being the inspiration to the likes of Hayao Miyazaki. The same Hayao Miyazaki whose many films contain enough gorgeous backgrounds that one almost wants to shove aside the characters that are standing in the way of such glorious scenery. This is so unbelievably the case for this film I cannot even begin to try and explain it. Instead, here are a few sample shots of some major scenery in the film.

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See what I mean? This movie is the only one I have ever seen where I actually want to see more of the scenery than the actual characters involved. Slumberland, and its polar opposite Nightmareland, are the stuff of dreams and as such, are places that no amount of computer rending or real life modeling could hope to duplicate. Even traditional animation is but a small imitation of the splendor that is the realms of dreams and nightmares but even so, I believe that it is the best imitation by far. For after all, what is art but dreams and nightmares put to paper?

Like most animated films of its decade, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland has its fair share of musical moments. As far as the background instrumental music, man is it perfect, particularly during the segments in the film where Nemo’s once wonderful dreams take a severe nosedive towards and frightening nightmares. As to actual songs though there are, technically, three that are sung as musical numbers while a fourth is done in the background and varies itself with different renditions that go from cheerfully whimsical to slow and heartwarming.

As to the musical numbers though… meh… One of them, aptly named “Etiquette,” pertains to Nemo learning lessons on how to be a proper prince from a variety of instructors who seem to be under the impression that teaching him all this in the span of an afternoon and nearly all at once will actually stick. This one was more fun to watch than it was to listen to.

The other two songs are, unfortunately, short and sweet moments pertaining to the introduction of their respected characters. There is the “Boomps Song & March” that introduces the background and story of the good goblins known as the Boomps, shape-shifters who are trying to escape Nightmareland and The Nightmare’s tyranny. The last song, “Slumberland Princess” is the same theme song that is sung in the background but sung by Princess Camille of Slumberland.

As to the story of the film itself… It is a story of dreams within dreams the likes of which I wouldn’t at all be surprised to learn inspired the creation of the film Inception. Seriously, there are so many moments wherein Nemo wakes up from the dream only to rediscover that he is not only still sleeping but that he must continue on to face the consequences of his own actions.

The short of it, or as short as I can make it anyway, is that Nemo is invited to Slumberland to be the royal playmate to the princess and, by extension, to become the heir to the throne and wielder of the Royal Scepter of Slumberland. Now, admittedly, this does sound like an arranged marriage of sorts but it’ll be explained in better detail in my favorite character’s review so sit tight, readers. Anyway, to go alongside this responsibility/privilege, King Morpheus bestows to Nemo a golden key that can open any door in Slumberland under the condition that Nemo promises not to use it to open the door that bares the key’s symbol, a curling dragon, upon its door.

Y’all can guess where this is going can’t you?

Overall, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is a film that tells the story of dreams and nightmares together. It is a film wherein the story, while not one wholly unique, is shown in such a way that makes it so. Stunning backdrops, interesting characters, and music that just enhances the mood rather than derailing it, it’s a movie that I recommend anyone, adult or child, should see. However, if a demonstration of just what kind of movie this is, is needed, than allow me to present one of the two pilot films made prior to the full film being made.

That’s no dinosaur…

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INDOMINUS REX


Name Meaning:
Fierce/Untamable King
Creation of:
Doctor Henry Wu
Film Premiere:
Jurassic Park (1993)

I’m going to be honest here, I was mere millimeters between picking Blue of the Velociraptor pack in Jurassic World and the hybrid monstrosity known simply as the Indominus Rex. In point of fact, I was about halfway through with my review on Blue when I realized too late that the majority of what I had written was all major spoilers to several of the best moments in the film. So rather than ruin it for any of my readers, I’ll instead focus on the Indominus Rex.

Now, while there will be some spoilers here they won’t be even a fraction as bad as those that I had written for Blue as they’ll pertain strictly to the Indominus and her abilities, nothing else. Take this as your last warning readers.

“More teeth.” These two simple words are repeated throughout Jurassic World and are, quite literally, the first words to describe what would eventually become the Indominus Rex to one Henry Wu by way of a memo from the park’s owner and CEO of the Masrani Corporation, Simon Masrani. Having likely reached the limit of dinosaurs that could be recreated by the methods found and utilized by Hammond and his company InGen, Masrani commissioned the creation of a new species of dinosaur, bigger, stronger, and far more ferocious than even the titular king of dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. What he could not have known though was the major opportunity that Masrani had unwittingly presented to Doctor Henry Wu.

For you see, the Indominus Rex wasn’t strictly created to be an attraction at the park. She was created to be the first of a line of possible living killing machines, bred specifically for militarized purposes. As I’ve said, that plot from the first draft had to survive somehow and while I can’t realistically imagine how such an idea could even be considered let alone executed… it bore a frightening result in the Indominus Rex.

Whether by her own unique genetic make-up or because of how she had been raised, the Indominus is, for lack of a better word, insane. This is made obvious in several instances throughout the movie with the first and most telling being that she not only killed her sibling but also ate it too. Now, I’m no biologist but given that this event had been insinuated to have occurred when the two were still infants that’s… that’s pretty damning considering parts of the Indominus comes the pack hunting velociraptors and the young-raising Tyrannosaurus Rex…

Speaking of her genetic make-up, the Indominus has been confirmed to have not only Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor DNA but also the genes of a cuttlefish, some species of tree frog, and, though unstated but still quite likely, some snake DNA as well. This DNA hodgepodge was done purposefully to better enhance the Indominus as a bio-weapon with the cuttlefish DNA allowing it to camouflage its skin into the trees and the frog DNA allowing it to lower its body temperature down so that it doesn’t appear on thermal cameras. Of course, the former requires an adequate amount of cover such as a canopy of trees and the latter requires the Indominus to be all but still as a rock but she is nothing if not patient.

She did, after all, lay out her escape by fooling the humans into believing that she had climbed out of her containment and tricked them into opening the door of her paddock just enough for her to force her way through before going on a murderous rampage throughout Jurassic World. That’s not an exaggeration either, Owen Grady, the trainer/alpha of the Velociraptors at Jurassic World, outright states that she’s killing for sport and not for food. In a way, she is learning about herself and her limitations by doing this and demonstrating her own innate intelligence that is frighteningly close to actual sapience.

One example of this was her laying a trap by way of ripping out her tracking beacon which, admittedly, she likely didn’t know what that was but considering that it likely started shocking her the moment she got close to another paddock, she likely figured that out its purpose rather quickly.

Another, more subtle example though was when she was being chased by the helicopter that was firing actual ammunition at her and she broke into the pterosaur aviary. Within seconds, she realized just what she had stumbled upon and purposefully drove a few pterosaurs through the opening she had made and up into the air towards the helicopter, causing it to come crashing down into the aviary.

One scene in particular though really stuck out to me with how frighteningly intelligent the Indominus Rex is. When Zach and his younger brother Gray jumped off a waterfall and into the river below, she purposefully waited for them to resurface. It was only through a random burst of insight by Zach that she assumed them drowned and continued on her way but that she even bothered at all, that she was actually willing to continue the chase over the falls herself…

She’s a monster, well and truly.

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