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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TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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Like sands through the hourglass...the Daytime Emmy Awards are coming to TV live on Saturday night on HLN. So what can we expect of the show, which features some of the hardest-working (and most dramatic!) folks on TV?
Well, a celebration of what is seemingly a dying part of television's daytime history, for sure: soap operas! But what is it about soap operas that hook people in so fervently? Soap operas, while becoming a harder sell in they daytime, have heavily influenced some of today's top television series--where do you think Downton Abbey and Revenge got the idea to have such a juicy, drama-filled format? Celebrating the history (and point of evolution for some of our favorite shows) is definitely worthwhile, but it's not all that they're going to be giving awards to; the show will also highlight daytime talk, children's programming, and courtroom programming (which has their own separate genre/award; who knew?). Some of the culture's most ridiculous moments (aka anything with Kathie Lee and Hoda) happen in these wee hours, and we're excited to see how a party where they're all in the same room comes about.
Check out the nominees below, and tell us: what do you think about daytime programming? Sound off in the comments!
Outstanding Drama Series
“All My Children,” ABC
“Days of Our Lives,” NBC
“General Hospital,” ABC
“The Young and the Restless," CBS
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Maurice Benard, Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, Jr. on “General Hospital”
Anthony Geary, Luke Spencer on “General Hospital”
John McCook, as Eric Forrester on “The Bold and the Beautiful”
Darnell Williams, as Jesse Hubbard on “All My Children”
Robert S. Woods, as Bo Buchanan on “One Life to Live”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Crystal Chappell, as Dr. Carly Manning on “Days of our Lives”
Debbi Morgan, as Angie Hubbard on “All My Children”
Erika Slezak, as Viki Lord on “One Life to Live”
Heather Tom, as Katie Logan Spencer on “The Bold and the Beautiful”
Laura Wright, as Carly Corinthos Jacks on “General Hospital”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Bradford Anderson, as Damien Spinelli in “General Hospital”
Matthew Ashford, as Jack Deveraux on “Days of our Lives”
Sean Blakemore, as Shawn Butler on “General Hospital”
Jonathan Jackson, as Lucky Spencer on “General Hospital”
Jason Thompson, as Patrick Drake on “General Hospital”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Melissa Claire Egan, as Annie Chandler on “All My Children”
Genie Francis, as Genevieve Atkinson on “The Young and the Restless”
Nancy Lee Grahn, as Alexis Davis on “General Hospital”
Elizabeth Hendrickson, as Chloe Mitchell on “The Young and the Restless”
Rebecca Herbst, as Elizabeth Webber on “General Hospital”
Outstanding Young Actor in a Drama Series
Eddie Alderson, as Matthew Buchanan on “One Life To Live”
Chad Duell, as Michael Corinthos on “General Hospital”
Chandler Massey, as Will Horton on “Days of Our Lives”
Nathan Parsons, as Ethan Lovett on “General Hospital”
Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series
Molly Burnett, as Melanie Layton on “Days of our Lives”
Shelley Hennig, as Stephanie Johnson on “Days of our Lives”
Christel Khalil, as Lily Winters on “The Young and the Restless”
Jacqueline Macinnes Wood, as Steffy Forrester on “The Bold and the Beautiful”
Outstanding Culinary Program
“Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction,” Food Network
“Giada At Home, Food Network,” Food Network
“Guy's Big Bite,” Food Network
“Sandwich King,” Food Network
Outstanding Culinary/Lifestyle Host
Diada de Laurentis, “Giada at Home”
Rick Bayless, “Mexico—One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless”
Nate Berkus, “The Nate Berkus Show”
Paula Deen, “Paula’s Best Dishes”
Sandra Lee, “Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee”
Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” syndicated
“Live with Regis and Kelly,” syndicated
“The Talk,” CBS
“The View,” ABC
Outstanding Talk Show/Informative
“The Dr. Oz Show,” syndicated
”The Doctors,” syndicated
Outstanding Talk Show Host
Dr. Mehmet Oz
Regis Philbin & Kelly Ripa
The Doctors (entire cast)
Outstanding Morning Program
“Good Morning America,” ABC
“Today Show,” NBC
Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program
“America's Court with Judge Ross,” syndicated
“Judge Joe Brown,” syndicated
“Last Shot with Judge Gunn,” syndicated
“We the People with Gloria Allred,” syndicated
Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
“Cash Cab,” Discovery Channel
“Let's Make A Deal,” CBS
“Wheel of Fortune,” syndicated
“Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” syndicated
Outstanding Game Show Host
Ben Bailey, “Cash Cab”
Todd Newton, “Family Game Night”
Wayne Brady, “Let’s Make a Deal”
Meredith Vieira, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”
Outstanding Children’s Animated Program
“Curious George,” PBS
“Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness,” Nickelodeon
“Peep & The Big Wide World,” American Public Television
“Penguins of Madagascar,” Nickelodeon
“Sid the Science Kid,” PBS
“SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon
Outstanding Performance in a Children’s Series
Dakota Goyo, as Josh on “R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour The Series”
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, as Abby Cadaby, on “Sesame Street”
Kevin Clash, as Elmo on “Sesame Street”
Caroll Spinney, as Big Bird on “Sesame Street”
The Daytime Emmy Awards are happening Saturday, June 23rd at 8PM EST on HLN, and rebroadcasting on Saturday, June 23rd at 10PM and 12 midnight, and Sunday June 24th at 8PM and 10PM.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]
General Hospital leads Daytime Emmy Award nominations
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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.