Godzilla (2014)

Fast and Furious 7 PosterRelease Date: May 16, 2014

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Written by: Max Borenstein, David Callaham

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sally Hawkins

Synopsis:

A giant radioactive monster called Godzilla appears to wreak destruction on mankind.

Radius-TWC

This will probably be difficult to believe for some of you, but we walk into every movie hoping it will be the best movie. We may criticize a trailer or point out early concerns, but once we sit down and the movie starts digitally unspooling before our eyes our hope every single time is to experience something fantastic. When a film succeeds on that front we shout it from the highest virtual rooftops, but that isn’t always the outcome. The pure flip-side of this of course are the movies we leave absolutely despising. Usually the films in this group aren’t exactly surprises — think Blended, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sex Tape, Hercules — and while we hoped for better we ended up with pretty much what we expected. But sometimes the movies we expected more from end up being major disappointments too. A quick poll of the staff revealed a pretty varied list of films fitting this description, some of which are viewed as unqualified successes by the rest of us. Keep reading to see ten of the movies that left us unsatisfied, underwhelmed and ultimately disappointed.

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Megan Fox Transformers 2

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Godzilla 2014

In order to convince David Straithairn’s Admiral Stenz not to use nuclear power to annihilate the giant behemoths quickly approaching American soil, Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa brandishes a deceivingly quotidian object: a stopped pocket watch. It was Dr. Serizawa’s father’s during the bombing of Hiroshima, an instructive moment in history now literally frozen in time as a cautionary token. Though Ken Watanabe looks nowhere near 70, my (I thought, reasonable) assumption during this scene of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was that Dr. Serizawa’s father had immediately perished alongside tens of thousands of others during the infamous 1945 atomic bombing. But regardless of this emblem’s status as a memento of death on a massive scale, that Dr. Serizawa’s father survived Hiroshima and Dr. Serizawa is a healthy mid-50s man now seems far more likely considering this film’s view of tragedy. Despite its keeping with the summer movie tradition of mass destruction, despite its conflagration of images evoking recent tragedies from the Fukushima to Katrina, and despite updating a film 60 years its junior that was in no way afraid of dealing with violent devastation head-on, 2014’s Godzilla is not a monster movie about understanding tragedy. It is instead a rather strange film about survivors, and it demonstrates how disingenuously low-stakes studio summer movies have become.

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Kurt Russell and James Spader in Stargate

We are getting thick into the era when Hollywood remakes a lot of ’90s movies. We already saw Total Recall and Dredd, and in the news lately are developments on the next versions of Point Break, Cliffhanger and now Roland Emmerich‘s Stargate, the latest to be officially announced. In a way, Godzilla counts, though it’s a redo of a movie from the ’50s more than the previous American take on the monster (also directed by Emmerich). And I’d maybe also include Atom Egoyan’s The Devil’s Knot, which is basically a dramatic redo of the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders of Robin Hood Hills. That’s not a Hollywood movie, though, and the original wasn’t either. One thing I realized recently is that I saw a lot fewer blockbusters in the ’90s versus the ’80s. I never saw the 1998 Godzilla. I never saw Cliffhanger. And I didn’t see Point Break in the theater or at a time close to when it came out. Mostly this can be attributed to the fact that I was getting older. For much of the decade I was busy with high school or broke in college (oh, the irony of being in film school and only being able to see one new movie in the theater my freshman year). Also, my dad moved away in 1990, and he’d been the parent who took us to the multiplex every weekend. But I don’t believe it’s necessarily these personal reasons that have me less concerned about remakes of ’90s movies than I’d been with […]

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Rancor from Return of the Jedi

First he made Monsters, then he made Godzilla, so the next logical step is for Gareth Edwards to make a movie about the Rancor creature from Return of the Jedi. Or should he instead give us the origin story of the Sarlacc or maybe the Space Slug from The Empire Strikes Back? The news that Edwards will direct a stand-alone Star Wars spin-off movie has to be about him tackling one of those. The guy doesn’t do movies that don’t involve monsters. Okay, so his venture into a galaxy far, far away will likely involve a more popular character than any of those giants, but I bet we will at least see some kind of monsters in the movie, whether this will be the young Han Solo adventures or a Boba Fett movie or something that more directly spins off from next year’s Star Wars sequel. According to Lucasfilm, the installment from Edwards already has a release date of December 16, 2016. That’s almost exactly twelve months to the day after the release of Episode VII. Joining Edwards is screenwriter Gary Whitta, who last gave us the disappointing outer space adventure After Earth, which was directed by M. Night Shyamalan. You may remember that that movie also was based around a giant monster. Are we sure this new Star Wars movie won’t be a monster movie? The origin story of the Acklay from Attack of the Clones, maybe? No, let’s say that Edwards is set on delivering his biggest creature yet. That means […]

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Warner Bros./Legendary

Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla is this summer’s second wannabe blockbuster chronologically, but on a more qualitative scale it’s a hell of a lot better (and on its way to being more successful) than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s a solid piece of summer entertainment that satisfies the senses with breathtaking visuals, tremendous sound design and a true sense of scale and power. It’s also dumb as Godzooky. (Well, almost.) Awesome parts aside, the film features several moments and scenes that left us bewildered and scratching our heads. Of course it’s a summer movie, a monster movie to boot, but the argument that a movie can’t be both fun and smart is a non-starter. This one leaves a lot of unanswered questions behind — admittedly far fewer than the hilarious Pacific Rim did — so we’re here to ask them. To be clear, this isn’t where I ask why the film repeatedly cut away from the massive monster destruction happening in Honolulu and Las Vegas just to follow the lame human stories. Or why the Brody family was conveniently located at the center of each and every monster attack. Or how Godzilla, a 300 foot-tall monster, manages to sneak up on anyone. Or why a certain character billed as a lead– well, let’s get to the actual unanswered questions about Godzilla. Spoilers below obviously.

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Godzilla Watanabe and Strathairn

The following is a discussion of where the Godzilla franchise could go now that a sequel has been announced. There are some minor spoilers for the reboot currently in theaters, so you might not want to read this until you’ve seen it.  It’s already been given the green light, and now it’s time to speculate what we’ll be seeing in a sequel to Godzilla. According to Deadline, the follow-up will be back at Warner Bros., the studio that put out this past weekend’s $93m-grossing blockbuster, even though now the film’s production company, Legendary Pictures, is working with Universal as its primary distributor. There’s also mention of an ongoing legal dispute, but that probably won’t be enough to keep Godzilla 2 from stomping into theaters in the summer of 2017. The first question on most people’s minds is who or what will the King of the Monsters fight next. Apparently, Legendary only has the rights to the title character, so there’s a possibility that we won’t be seeing any of the other giant creatures (or robots or, thankfully, offspring) from the Toho franchise. Of course, Legendary could dole out more money for use of Mothra if that’s the case, but is that really want we want, a rehash of stuff seen before?

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Godzilla 1954

According to Variety, Godzilla making $93m (and $103m more outside the US)  in its opening weekend is enough for Warner Bros. and Legendary to partner up on a sequel. A franchise has officially been born, and since franchises no longer die (see: Spider-Man et al.), that means Godzilla is going to be staring hungrily at buildings and trains for years to come. Just look at that face. He’s practically drooling. Of course, another 60 years of movies is a nice present for the misunderstood monster’s 60th birthday. Fortunately, even though our reviewer wasn’t a big fan, most people seem happy with the latest outing, particularly the last 30 minutes. Particularly coming off the 1998 disaster, Gareth Edwards has crafted something impressive. Now, since we’re bound to see Godzilla 2 (hopefully versus Batman) in 2017, there’s a full range of older enemies for him to face, the small possibility of the filmmakers coming up with new enemies and the fan-favorite impossibility of a Pacific Rim crossover. Since we only know that the wheels are turning, there are plenty of questions for the franchise to face. Whether or not they’ll stick with Edwards or if he’ll move on to a movie that isn’t based on terrifying beasties being the first on the list. Second on the list is what will happen if Godzilla’s box office take drops the same way Amazing Spider-Man 2 did in its second weekend. Granted, we’re getting a sequel for it, too. It’s unlikely anyone will be angry about a new take on this […]

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summermovieprediction_wk4

Welcome to week four of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. The box office actuals from this past weekend unsurprisingly put Godzilla at #1, but his arrival hasn’t altered our own #1 and #2 as Husain and AKFilmfan retain their top spots. The remaining three positions have been shaken up a bit though by some newcomers. Godzilla took in $93.19 million this weekend while Million Dollar Arm failed to beat Trouble With the Curve taking in less than that film’s $12.2m opening weekend. Here are the current standings for our contest. Husain – 11 points AKFilmfan – 9 pts Starkweather – 9 pts Spencer Connell – 6 pts Thomas McCallum – 6 pts And now it’s on to week four! Check out the challenge questions below and play along in the comments section.

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Godzilla Through Goggles

Godzilla isn’t just a monster. He’s more than just an ancient Japanese movie god. He is an icon of science fiction, more responsible than any other creature for bringing kaiju films to the awareness of the world. Sure, Gamera is cool too, but the international cinematic community hasn’t quite embraced the giant turtle the way they have this giant lizard. Since his debut in 1954, Godzilla has become a household name, and his appearance is legendary. Even with the hiccup that was Roland Emmerich’s 1998 attempt (resulting in a creature that is rejected as proper canon to the series), Godzilla has remained the king of the monsters, literally getting bigger and bigger every year. (Seriously, he’s now more than twice as tall as the original from 1954.) These films sure are fun to watch, but when you see enough of them, you can’t help but wonder: Could a creature the size of Godzilla actually exist? Could we make our own?

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Godzilla Gotham

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Negadon The Monster From Mars

Judging by the crazy advanced ticket sales for Godzilla, by this point many of you have already seen the movie. Given the ecstatic reviews that it’s been getting I think it’s safe to assume that the bulk of you are all hopped up on kaiju and desperate for more. And, thanks to the rabid fandom that has developed over the years for this particular brand of Japanese monster, there are plenty of cartoon lizards just waiting to be devoured online. Godzilla has starred in two different animated television series. The first was simply titled Godzilla, and was co-produced by Hanna-Barbera and Toho. It aired in both the United States and Japan starting in the fall of 1978. Following a team of scientists as they travel the world on a ship, Godzilla is more of a plot device than a character. In the monster’s stead is Godzooky, his much more reasonably sized cousin. Godzooky is essentially a green, reptilian version of Scooby-Doo, hardly a surprise given the involvement of Hanna-Barbera. Actually, the whole show plays like a seafaring re-imagining of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! with much bigger monsters (and no shady criminals hiding inside). You can watch the first season of the show here, with a Hulu+ subscription. The second series was launched twenty years later in the wake of the “success” of the Roland Emmerich film. It was given the creative title of Godzilla: The Series and aired on Fox on Saturday mornings. It ran for two seasons before it was canceled, never able to keep up […]

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind gas masks

When there’s a new remake out in theaters, the most obvious instruction I can have for you is to watch the original. Unless it’s a remake of something bad, I guess, but even then I think it’s necessary to go back and see the previous effort, for historical sake. With Godzilla, there are tons of predecessors. There’s another list to be written — and I think a few sites already have done so — recommending which past movies starring the King of the Monsters are worth seeing. I’ve actually only seen the first one from 1954, so I couldn’t be the authority on that anyway. As far as I know, there might even be something worthwhile in the 1998 remake that everyone hates. I never saw it (though I did see a bit being filmed when I lived near one of the locations) so I can’t argue for or against it. Instead, this week’s recommendations consist of other movies that clearly influenced the newest version (and some, the original), as well as some necessary earlier films of talent involved in the remake, plus a few titles that I was reminded of while watching that I think are relevant. And to make it easy on you, to ensure that you catch up with all of these titles  I’ve chosen, I note the easiest way for you to check out these films right now, thanks to the website Can I Stream.it?. As always, this list contains spoilers for the movie in focus, so only read […]

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the-atomic-cafe-poster

“When not close enough to be killed, the atomic bomb is one of the most beautiful sights in the world.” That quote, from a 1950s military instructional video, sums up not only the American attitude towards nuclear warfare during the Cold War but also our current fascination with mass destruction in blockbuster filmmaking. Audiences are in love with collapsing buildings, with clouds of debris flooding city blocks, with fire and shredded metal blotting out the sky. From the safety of the cinema seat or the couch, it’s all so exciting, rather than the pinnacle of horror. But when the original Godzilla came out in 1954, its scenes of mass destruction were anything but entertaining. The titular monster’s rampage across Japan was played completely seriously and for all the terror it could muster. It tapped a deep vein of contemporary anxieties in a culture that had been hit with two nuclear weapons and then had to watch as the country that dropped said weapons on them tested even more powerful bombs in the ocean nearby. Godzilla’s first attack is against a fishing vessel, a direct reference to a real-life incident in which a Japanese ship was caught in the fallout of an American nuclear test. The first of those Pacific tests was Operation Crossroads, in 1946, in which two atom bombs were dropped in the Bikini Atoll. That incident is the subject of Robert Stone‘s Oscar-nominated 1988 documentary Radio Bikini, which relates the events through primary footage, with minimal added commentary. The government lied to the citizens of the islands […]

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Godzilla 2014

In our shortest episode of the year, I take a minute to dissect the way gigantic things are being portrayed on screen and to consider how Godzilla is like the most recent doomsday climate change report. Plus, Jack interviews the legendary Bill Paxton who plays a pitching coach in Million Dollar Arm. They get philosophical about acting just above a whisper and going calmly over the top. Fortunately, the lurking Predator decides not to attack them in the process. You should follow Jack (@jackgi), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #58 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Polish Godzilla Poster

You may have noticed a sudden surge in Godzilla lately. Where before there was nothing (and by nothing, I mean a single teaser and a handful of posters), now there is a Godzilla bounty everywhere you turn. Trailers, preview screenings, stupidly brilliant Snickers ads, dessert plates, and all manner of spoilers leaking out through Godzilla toys (not that one should ever look for that kind of thing). In the lead up to the release this weekend, Godzilla is everywhere. And in this deluge of radioactive green merchandise was a new poster for the big dude’s resurgence. This poster:

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Godzilla Through Goggles

“Let them fight.” As we see in the “Asia trailer” for Godzilla, at some point Ken Watanabe’s character says the above line, and it’s definitely a meta moment for a monster movie featuring a ton of human characters. Godzilla in action is what audiences are most interested in seeing. But is it the only thing? Do they want a human angle, too? What if there were no people in this new reboot, or at least none that had any narrative arc or dialogue? Would we be interested in a nearly “silent” film in which the King of Monsters destroys cities for our enjoyment while ant-like military men shoot at him anonymously? What if another monster is thrown in there so there’s some discernible “plot” entailing a battle between the giant beasts, both of them just roaring and screeching at each other? Unfortunately, I don’t think Hollywood would ever allow for a blockbuster that doesn’t have movie stars spewing worthless words or at least a voiceover narration providing exposition. Yet a lot of moviegoers tend to agree that the humans in movies like Godzilla just get in the way and slow the thing down. Why must we care about a handful of characters when thousands of unnamed other people are stomped on and we aren’t meant to bat an eyelash for them? And who cares why the monster is heading toward San Francisco? These rhetorical questions fit with a discussion prompted by David Ehrlich on the latest episode of the Fighting in the […]

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Come With Me Godzilla

The ‘90s were a special time for the Hollywood movie soundtrack. From Prince’s “Batdance” for 1989’s Batman to LL Cool J’s shark dance for 1999’s Deep Blue Sea, pop soundtracks became no longer a direct record of the songs featured in a film, but an eclectic hit parade of contemporary popular artists whose relationship of the film in question was often tenuous at best. Movie soundtracks, especially those for summer tentpole entertainment, served a function similar to the ‘90s NOW! series: as a means of assembling tested and would-be radio and MTV hits in one accessible package. Except this package was meant also to promote a movie. Such promotion followed a routine formula. Turn the music video into a four-minute commercial for the film. Turn the film into a promotional device for the soundtrack by placing the big single over the end credits like an earworm. None of the other songs on the soundtrack needed to be in the film. But the 1998 soundtrack to Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla was different. Like its title character, the soundtrack was big, brash, noisy, not-at-all subtle, and lucrative, yet it destroyed everything in its path. There are several reasons why Hollywood movies don’t produce pop soundtracks like this anymore, but the Godzilla soundtrack (if not the movie itself) deserves appreciation for its dumb, audacious weirdness.

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summermovieprediction3

Welcome to week three of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. I’d ask if anyone could have seen this past weekend’s box office results coming, but clearly some of you suspected what the rest of us couldn’t fathom — and by some I mean a whopping three of you. Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the summer’s first blockbuster-to-be, has been booted from the #1 spot after only one week at the top. The movie’s a stinker so it’s well deserved, but that’s just embarrassing for everyone involved. The box-office actuals for week two show Neighbors taking #1 with $49.03 million while the less fortunate newcomer Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return banked less than $5m. We’re tracking everyone’s points, but we’ll only be listing the top five players each week. Here are the current standings. Husain – 11 points AKFilmfan – 9 pts Campbelldropout – 5 pts Chris B – 5 pts Zack – 4 pts And now it’s on to week three! Check out the challenge questions below and […]

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Bryan Cranston in Godzilla

It’s obvious why director Gareth Edwards was chosen to helm another American reboot of Godzilla. His feature debut Monsters showed he could achieve spectacle on the cheap, build a convincing world inhabited by monsters, and, best of all, fill that world with compelling characters. It was a human story that happened to have monsters looming in the background. With Godzilla, it’s a shame it’s not the other away around, because the stunning CG creatures are far more entertaining than the humans they play second fiddle to. That’s unfortunate for many reasons, including the film’s very promising prologue. Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche play Joe and Sandra Brody (in what’s likely a nice nod to Jaws), a married team who work together in a Japanese power plant. Sandra is checking on an electrical problem when a massive accident happens, causing the destruction of the power plant, the evacuation of the city, and her death. Fifteen years later, their son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is living in San Francisco with his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). He’s in the military, so he’s been away from home for a little while, but he returns only to learn that his father has been arrested in Japan, which means reluctantly flying across the world to help. When Ford gets there, Joe strikes him as the same paranoid lunatic he remembers from growing up, but this time his father has proof there was a cover-up of the real cause of the disaster that killed Ford’s mother. That cause? Monsters. Not Godzilla, though, who the film wisely plays as the misunderstood hero he is.

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