Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With only a week and change having passed since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we no doubt feel the question living fresh in our minds: can we ever judge a remake without considering its predecessors? The conversation about the stark contrast in critical favor between Marc Webb's release and Sam Raimi's trilogy (the second installment of his franchise in particular) buzzed loudly, and we imagine the volume will keep in regards to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. But it'll be a different sound altogether.
The original Godzilla, a Japanese film released in 1954, reinvented the identity of the monster movie, launched a 30-film legacy, and spoke legions about the political climate of its era. The most recent of these films — Roland Emmerich's 1998 American production — is universally bemoaned as a bigger disaster than anything to befall Tokyo at the hands of the giant reptile. With these two entries likely standing out as the most prominent in the minds of contemporary audiences, Edwards' Godzilla has some long shadows cast before it. And in approaching the new movie, one might not be able to avoid comparisons to either. It's fair — by taking on an existing property, a filmmaker knowingly takes on the connotations of that property. But the 2014 installment's great success is that it isn't much like any Godzilla movie we've seen before. In a great, great way.
This isn't 1954's Godzilla, a dire and occasionally dreary allegory that uses the supernatural to tell an important story about nuclear holocaust. A complete reversal, in fact, first and foremost Edwards' Godzilla is about its monsters. Any grand themes strewn throughout — the perseverence of nature, the follies of mankind, fatherhood, madness, faith — are all in service to the very simple mission to give us some cool, weighty, articulate sci-fi disaster. Elements of gravity are plotted all over the film's surface, with scientists, military men (kudos to Edwards for not going the typical "scientists = good/smart, military = bad/dumb" route in this film — everybody here is at least open to suggestion), doctors, police officers, and a compassionate bus driver all wrestling with options in the face of behemoth danger. The humanity is everpresent, but never especially intrusive. To reiterate, this isn't a film about any of these people, or what they do.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
The closest thing to a helping of thematic (or human) significance comes with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa, who spouts awe-stricken maxims about cryptozoology, the Earth, and the inevitable powerlessness of man. He might not be supplying anything more substantial than our central heroes (soft-hearted soldier Aaron Taylor-Johnson, dutiful medic and mom Elizabeth Olsen, right-all-along conspiracy theorist Bryan Cranston), but Watanabe's bonkers performance as the harried scientist is so bizarrely good that you might actually believe, for a scene or two, that it all does mean something.
Ultimately, the beauty of our latest taste of Godzilla lies not in the commitment to a message that made the original so important nor in the commitment to levity that made Emmerich's so pointless, but in its commitment to imagination. Edwards' creature design is dazzling, his deus ex machina are riveting, and the ultimate payoff to which he treats his audience is the sort of gangbusters crowd-pleaser that your average contemporary monster movie is too afraid to consider.
In fairness, this year's Godzilla might not be considered an adequate remake, not quite reciprocating the ideals, tone, or importance of the original. Sure, anyone looking for a 2014 answer to 1954's game-changing paragon will find sincere philosophy traded for pulsing adventure... but they'd have a hard time ignoring the emphatic charm of this new lens for the 60-year-old lizard, both a highly original composition and a tribute in its way to the very history of monster movies (a history that owes so much to the creature in question). So does Godzilla '14 successfully fill the shoes of Godzilla '54? No — it rips them apart and dons a totally new pair... though it still has a lot of nice things to say about the first kicks.
Oh, and the '98 Godzilla? Yeah, it's better than that.
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Movie legend Sir Roger Moore is to tell all about his time playing James Bond in a new book.
The British actor, who played the secret agent from 1973 and 1985, has put pen to paper to write Bond On Bond, which is due to hit shelves in October (12).
In the tome, the 84-year-old star has promised to reveal his favourite ever Bond girl after he romanced leading ladies Jane Seymour, Britt Ekland and Barbara Bach on the big screen.
In a post on his website, Moore writes, "It covers everything you could ever want to know on Bond, from my recipe for making the perfect Martini to a lesson in Sake; where to buy the perfect wardrobe; and who my favourite Bond girl is... I look at the villains, gadgets, locations and cars... and offer up all sorts of fascinating facts and figures. Whether or not any of it is true I don't know, but it sounds good and I wrote it with a straight face. There are lots of really terrific photos too. In fact I look gorgeous in all of them."
It's not the actor's first foray into the literary world - he released his autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, in 2008.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Sheridan claims she was fired after complaining to network executives about an incident she'd had with series creator Marc Cherry in 2008, which ended with the writer/producer hitting the actress on the head to demonstrate an action in a scene.
Denton took the stand in the wrongful dismissal trial on Thursday (08Mar12) and told the court that he wasn't at all surprised when he heard Sheridan's character Edie Britt would be axed, stating, "People get killed off so often."
The actor, who plays Teri Hatcher's onscreen husband Mike Delfino on the show, was also expected to recall his own onset experience with Cherry's "physical" style of directing, but he never got the chance - and Denton admits he's glad his testimony "wasn't much help" to the defence or the plaintiff.
Speaking on U.S. talk show The View on Monday (12Mar12), he said, "It was really uncomfortable because when you say (he testified) on behalf of Marc and the producers, I didn't see it that way at all.
"He wanted me to come in and tell a story, which was a nice illustration of how things work on our set and I said, 'You know what, it's the truth and I'll just tell the truth'.
"I ended up not even getting the story out, because the other attorney kept objecting, objecting, objecting, so I wasn't much help to anybody, which is OK with me, I don't think I helped or hurt."
Denton went on to recall the story about a scene, in which his character attended a strip club: "I wasn't doing it in a funny way so Marc comes over and pushes me aside... He acted it out and he touched me and was very physical and he knew what he wanted..."
But Denton refused to be drawn on whether or not he believes Sheridan's account of her onset spat with Cherry - or whether the fall-out may have resulted in her firing. When pressed by The View co-host Barbara Walters, he replied, "Obviously I'm gonna stay out of that. My point was Marc is very hands on. He directs very physically."
No other castmembers are expected to testify. The trial continues.
Denton's appearance on The View came the morning after his character, Delfino, was killed off.
Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.
Top Story: Travel Agent Sues Jackson
Travel agent Cynthia Montgomery is suing Michael Jackson for failing to pay the tab for the private jet that brought him from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara where he was arrested on child molestation charges, The Associated Press reports. Montgomery is suing for $50,000 in damages stemming from Jackson's failure to pay the $18,000 fee for the chartered XtraJet that flew the singer to Santa Barbara. According to her lawyer, Robert T. Moore II, during the three years Montgomery managed Jackson's travel arrangements she often paid travel fees up front with the singer paying her back later. Moore said at a press conference, "They told us in so many words that we're not going to get paid." In response the question of why Montgomery would pay for travel arrangements herself Moore replied, "Michael Jackson is kind of a slow pay and XtraJet would not deliver the jet without payment up front." Jackson is currently suing XtraJet over the cameras that secretly videotaped Jackson and his lawyer Mark Garagos as Jackson flew to Santa Barbara November 20th. Garagos won a temporary restraining order preventing XtraJet from releasing the in flight tapes.
Sex To Hit Theaters?
Michael Patrick King, executive producer of HBO's hit sex and relationships comedy Sex and the City, is in talks to bring the show to the big screen for HBO's theatrical wing, AP reports. Stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis are also in talks to reprise their roles as 30-something New Yorkers who navigate dating, careers, marriage, and of course, sex. The film would pick up where the series finale, which airs this Sunday on HBO, leaves off.
Tonight Show Gets "Stern" New Announcer
Former Howard Stern radio show provocateur "Stuttering" John Melendez will be the new announcer for The Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno, AP reports. The show's current announcer, Edd Hall, is leaving the show after 12 years to pursue film roles. Melendez will serve as announcer as well as correspondent for the top late night show, getting involved in comedy sketches and interviews with people on the street. Melendez is apparently taking voice classes to help improve his announcing skills. On Stern's radio show, Melendez is known for his ability to embarrass the people unlucky enough to be interviewed by him, though he will reportedly tone this skill down for Leno's Burbank, CA-based show. Executives at The Tonight Show chose Melendez after seeing him on the ABC reality show I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here.
Supermodel Campbell Takes Case to House of Lords
In an effort to reinstate a ruling in her favor regarding UK privacy rights, Naomi Campbell has taken her case to the House of Lords, the highest court in England, Reuters and AFP report. Campbell, 33, successfully sued The Daily Mirror in 2002 over printing a report about her attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting along with photos of her leaving the meeting. She was awarded 3,500 pounds when the court found the paper to be in breach of confidentiality and the Data Protection Act. The ruling was then overturned by the Court of Appeal, which ruled Campbell must pay the newspaper's 350,000 legal fees. The court agreed with the Mirror's contention that Campbell lied when she said she was not struggling with drug addiction and publishing photos of her leaving the NA meeting was "justifiable in the public interest". The hearing in the House of Lords is expected to last two days.
Peacock and Eye Win Sweeps
NBC and CBS have swept the second week of the four week February sweeps period during which networks vie for ratings to lure advertiser cash later in the year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. NBC's final season of Friends and the Donald Trump reality show The Apprentice scored high ratings, earning the network a 12.6 million viewer average. NBC's "Must See TV" was outpaced by CBS which won an over 14.2 million viewer average with CSI taking in a jaw-dropping 30.9 million viewers Thursday night, marking the highest ratings for a show this season. Fox also did well with American Idol, nighttime soap The O.C., and reality show My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancée. ABC only managed to rustle up an 8.3 million viewer average with their Extreme Makeover: Home Edition leading the way. UPN and WB did well with America's Top Model and Everwood respectively.
Raymond Loved By Top Markets
Syndication rights for the hit CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond are being gobbled up by Fox-owned stations, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show is in its second syndication cycle meaning syndication rights are being renewed or purchased by addition stations. The first syndication deals were struck in 1998 with the newly signed deals taking effect in 2008. Though the cost of syndication rights were not released, it is estimated that they are at least $4.4 million for the national rights, double the cost for the first cycle in '98. Everybody Loves Raymond is currently in its 8th season.
Beastie Boys Back in June
New York rap trio Beastie Boys are putting the finishing touches on their new album to be released in June, Rolling Stone reports. This is the first album for the group since their wildly successful 1998 release Hello Nasty, which has sold 3.8 million copies since its debut. The Beasties began writing songs for the new album as far back as 2001 and recorded some of the tracks in 2002. Grand Royal, the label that released the Beastie's Check Your Head and Ill Communication has run into financial troubles of late, going bankrupt in 2002. It is currently for sale online with a starting bid of $10,000.
Role Call: Hornet Stings Smith; It's Open Season on Kutcher and Lawrence
Writer/director/New Jersey comic book store owner Kevin Smith is set to direct a big-screen adaptation of the comic book The Green Hornet for Miramax, AP reports. Hornet started out as a radio serial in the '30s and later spun off into a comic book. In the '60s it was made into a show starring Van Williams as Britt Reid, millionaire by day, cr