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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Dynasty creator Esther Shapiro has filed a lawsuit against city officials in Los Angeles after she tripped on an uneven sidewalk and ended up in hospital. The 85-year-old screenwriter/producer, who created the hit soap opera with her husband, claims she was walking on Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills, California in April last year (13) when she fell over.
She lost her front teeth and injured her face, and consequently went to hospital, according to the lawsuit obtained by TMZ.com.
Shapiro is suing city officials for more than $25,000 (£15,600) to cover the cost of medical bills and lost earnings.
Kim Kardashian's brother has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanour battery and petty theft charges following an altercation with a photographer outside a West Hollywood gym. Rob Kardashian appeared in a Beverly Hills courtroom on Wednesday morning (08May13) to address counts he lashed out at a snapper, identified as Kassandra Perez, after spotting her taking shots of him in a parking lot.
She claims he struck her, grabbed her camera and ripped out the memory card.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel allowed the reality TV star to walk free after his plea, despite the objections of prosecutors, who had asked that his bail be set at $21,000 (£13,500).
Ironically, Kardashian was represented in court on Wednesday by Robert Shapiro, the lawyer who teamed up with his late father to defend O.J. Simpson in the fallen sporting superstar's 1990s murder trial.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
The Mean Girls star was handed the punishment by Los Angeles Judge Marsha Revel earlier this month (Jul10) for violating probation on a 2007 DUI arrest by failing to attend court-ordered alcohol education classes.
She checked into a sober living facility last week (14Jul10) on the advice of her then-legal adviser Robert Shapiro, who suggested he'd be representing the troubled actress in court.
Lohan's assistant was spotted moving her belongings out of the rehab centre, Pickford Lofts, on Monday (19Jul10) - hours before it became clear Shapiro, who once represented O.J. Simpson, would not be her lawyer.
The actress returned to Beverly Hills Superior Court on Tuesday to report to jail, accompanied by Shawn Chapman Holley, who previously quit as Lohan's legal representative. She clarified that Shapiro had never been officially appointed as her client's replacement lawyer and had simply been acting as Lohan's legal consultant.
Lohan's estranged father Michael and her mother Dina were present for the brief hearing.
Michael Lohan added to the drama in court by screaming out, "I love you Lindsay" as the actress was cuffed and led away. The Mean Girls star looked scared and serious as she was taken into custody at 8.48am local time.
The 24 year old was then transported to the Lynwood Correctional Facility, the same detention centre which housed Paris Hilton in 2007 when she was found guilty on a similar charge. Nicole Richie and Daryl Hannah have also served time behind bars there.
In a press conference staged outside the jail, Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, told the media, "At about 10:11 this morning, Ms. Lindsay Lohan was booked into our facility to begin her sentence. She has been extremely co-operative and everything is going smoothly.
"Ms Lohan was treated just like any other (inmate). Inside it's business as usual."
O.J. Simpson's former attorney publicly announced he had agreed to take over as the star's representative after her legal Shawn Holley Chapman quit earlier this month (Jul10).
Chapman walked away from the Mean Girls star on the day she was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating probation on a 2007 DUI arrest.
Shapiro, who lost his son to a drug overdose, insisted Lohan check into his own sober living facility before starting her prison time on Tuesday (20Jul10).
But according to TMZ.com, the lawyer is no longer representing Lohan - even though she adhered to his rules by entering rehab in Los Angeles last week (begs12Jul10).
No reason for Shapiro stepping down was given as WENN goes to press.
The actress has been ordered to surrender to authorities at Beverly Hills Superior Court on Tuesday morning (20Jul10) to begin her jail time.
Diaz and Timberlake fight back against paparazzi attack
Actress Cameron Diaz and pop star boyfriend Justin Timberlake got into an altercation with the paparazzi late Saturday night when they grabbed a photographer's camera after being photographed outside the Chateau Marmont hotel late Saturday night. According to the Associated Press, representatives for the stars said in a statement that the couple "was ambushed by two men, who jumped out of a concealed hiding place on a dark, deserted street late at night." The reps added that any actions taken against the photographers were strictly for self-defense. Shortly after the dispute with the paparazzi, Diaz turned the camera over to police in hopes it will help investigators identify the men. Officer Sarah Faden of the Los Angeles police department said that shortly after the incident one of the photographers called to complain about the couple, accusing them of battery and grand theft. Faden also added that no arrests or charges have been given yet to anyone involved in the incident.
Singer Liza Minnelli sued by former bodyguard
Former bodyguard and chauffeur to Liza Minnelli is accusing the singer of sexual harassment and assault and battery, Reuters reports. According to the court papers revealed on Wednesday, M'hammed Soumayah is seeking over $100 million in damages and $89,000 in back wages. In a six-page complaint filed with Manhattan Supreme Court, Soumayah admits to having sex with Minnelli after many advances brought on by the Oscar Award winner. Soumayah says that he has evidence of the relationship between him and Minnelli, but does not list the type of evidence in his complaint. In the complaint however, Soumayah said that throughout his employment, Minnelli "hit and assaulted" him "repeatedly", but fearing the loss of his $238,000 salary, Soumayah tolerated the "violent outbursts." In addition to Soumayah, Minnelli's estranged husband, David Gest, is also suing the singer for $10 million for beating him during drunken rages. Minnelli has counter-sued Soumayah for breach of contract and has also counter-sued Gest for cheating her out of $2 million. Minnelli's spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Comedian Bill Maher sued by ex-girlfriend
Comedian and talk show host of HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher, is being sued by his former girlfriend, Nancy Johnson for $9 million in compensatory damages. Stating that Maher convinced her to quit her job as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, Johnson said that Maher promised to marry her and buy her a house in Beverly Hills. Johnson said she ended their 17-month relationship after Maher became abusive and made "insulting, humiliating and degrading racial comments" towards her. Maher's spokesperson was contacted, but had no comment on the breach of contract suit filed by his former girlfriend.
ABC stations cancel Saving Private Ryan airing
According to the Associated Press, a few ABC affiliates have announced that they will not be airing Saving Private Ryan on Veterans Day, stating that the film's violence and language could break the rules created and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission. Those stations not granted permission by the FCC include
Cox Communications television stations in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., and three Midwest stations owned by Citadel Communications. "Under strict interpretation of the rules, we can't run that programming before 10 p.m.," said Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications. Any type of profane speech which can be defined as language that is "so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance," or that tend "to provoke violent resentment" can only be aired from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to the FCC. ABC has told its affiliates it would cover any fines, but Cole said the network could not protect its affiliates against other FCC sanctions.
Conservative groups protest against Kinsey film
Many conservative groups across the country are taking a stand against the release of Kinsey, releasing in limited theaters this Friday before it goes nationwide in upcoming weeks, the AP reports. Kinsey follows the life of Alfred Kinsey, played by Liam Neeson, as he explores his own adulterous behavior and sexual fantasies. Conservative groups are fighting back against the film, saying that Alfred Kinsey is somewhat responsible for the sexual revolution that has left so many people with life-threatening diseases. Robert Peters, president of the conservative group Morality in Media, saw an advanced screening and states, "Kinsey wasn't wrong about everything. No question there was an unhealthy shame about sex that prevented people from getting help," said Peters, "A film could have been produced that would have shown that side of Kinsey but also shown the hell that he released."
Kenny Chesney wins top country music honors
Tuesday night's telecast of the Country Music Awards sent country singer and producer Kenny Chesney home with CMA's top honor of Entertainer of the Year. Reuters reports the 38th annual award show, held at the Grand Ole' Opry in Tennessee, awarded the singer with that top honor in addition to Album of the Year and another award for producing his own album, When the Sun Goes Down. Keith Urban took home male vocalist of the year, Martina McBride for female vocalist of the year, Rascal Flatts for vocal group of the year, Brooks & Dunn for vocal duo of the year, and musician of the year went to guitarist Dan Huff. Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss, Tim Nichols, Craig Wiseman, and Gretchen Wilson were also awarded for their musical talents. Veteran singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson and former CMA chairman, Jim Foglesong, were both inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Carson gives $5.3 million to the University of Nebraska
Former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson donated $5,300,000 million to the University of Nebraska foundation. According to the Associated Press, the 79-year-old Carson is an alumnus of the school and has maintained a strong relationship with the University throughout his career. The money will go to support the Performing Arts' Department and their latest plans to renovate their 100-year old Temple building by creating a new black box theater and film soundstage.
Fox plans to create reality series for wireless phones
Twentieth Century Fox has announced that they are teaming up with the nation's biggest cell phone company, Vodafone PLC, to create one-minute dramas that can be viewed from cell phones, the AP reports. Based on the hit show, 24, these "mobisodes" will be introduced in 2005, and will be available in Europe and the United States, through their joint carrier, Verizon Wireless. The cellular version of the hit television drama, 24 will be based on characters from the actual show, 24 "mobisodes" in all.
Michael Jackson may call himself the King of Pop, but to one Beverly Hills merchant, he's a deadbeat bum. David Orgell, a Rodeo Drive boutique dealing in luxury (read: muy expensive) items and catering to upper-crust clients, filed a $1-million-plus lawsuit today against the music icon, saying he failed to pay for a Vacheron Constantine all-diamond watch as agreed.
Ali Soltani, manager of the store, tells Hollywood.com that he let Jackson take the watch home for a few days in December, giving him time to decide whether to drop about $1.4 million on the timepiece.
"I spoke with him a few days later, and asked if it was a green light or a red light," Soltani said, "and he said, 'What is there not to like about this watch?' We sent an invoice to his agent, as we usually do. But usually they pay us for the merchandise. In this case, they didn't."
Jackson later bought some gift items and owed about $1.9 million. Soltani says that when he asked Jackson's camp to cough up some cash, the singer made just a partial payment, and then the watch was finally returned, via a Brinks courier, on April 13.
"There was a note from one of Mr. Jackson's handlers, saying he appreciates the artistic value of the watch but has decided against making the purchase," Soltani says. "That's wrong -- he had agreed back in December, and the watch was returned in a used manner. It had scratches ... we could tell it was used."
Soltani has hired attorney Robert Shapiro, he of the O.J. Simpson defense team, to handle the case. Jackson's attorney, Lynne Mallya, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Soltani adds that Jackson's been a client of his for about 10 years and has purchased stuff such as tableware, antiques, silver, jewelry and other high-priced what-nots.
Perhaps next time he needs a watch, Jackson ought to consider a Casio. They're reliable ... and much cheaper.