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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
Charles M. Schulz
It’s a big day, Charlie Brown! A teaser trailer for the upcoming Peanuts movie has been released, and although it doesn’t reveal much about the plot of the film, it does show Charlie Brown and Snoopy, who have gotten a 3D makeover for the big screen. But Peanuts purists shouldn’t worry about what will become of their favorite overly neurotic children just yet, as the film has the blessing of Craig Schulz – son of cartoonist Charles Schulz – and will be produced by Paul Feig, and his involvement is always a good sign for comedies. In honor of the new teaser trailer, we've ranked all 13 of the main Peanuts characters, in order to determine once and for all which ones are the best, and which ones are better off forgotten about. Could Marcie actually be a better character than Peppermint Patty? Which Van Pelt sibling comes out on top? You can find out the answers to these questions, along with where your favorites landed on our list by clicking through to the gallery, below.
GALLERY: Ranking the Peanuts Characters from Worst to Best
Not much about the plot of the film has been revealed yet, but both Feig and director Steve Martino have hinted that they will explore Snoopy’s imagination and follow Charlie Brown’s loyal companion on some exciting adventures. But as much as we love Snoopy and his pals, we’re really more interested in seeing the rest of the Peanuts gang hit the big screen. After all, what's a Peanuts movie without Lucy pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown, or Linus dispensing life-altering philosophy from under his blanket or even Franklin asking the tough questions? Sure, Snoopy's cool, but some of Charlie Brown's other friends are much cooler.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Horton Hears a Who may not be as high-profile as say The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas but it is equally beloved. Thankfully the script doesn’t overcomplicate things but rather keeps to a basic theme of acceptance and staying true to yourself no matter what the consequences. The story centers on one particularly sweet and imaginative elephant named Horton (Jim Carrey) living in the jungle of Nool who hears a faint cry coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Since only he can hear it because of his super-giant ears Horton quickly finds out it’s an entire city called Whoville nestled deep within the speck. And because “a person’s a person no matter how small ” this gives Horton the justification for transporting said speck now resting on a clover to a safer spot despite the ridicule and threats from his fellow Nool denizens. Meanwhile the mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell) in constant communication with Horton is having difficulty convincing the town's people they might be in danger of being squashed--or eaten or blown away into the far reaches. But the mayor shouldn’t be worried; Horton’s motto--“an elephant’s faithful 100 percent”--means the kindly pachyderm will stop at nothing to accomplish his task. Jim Carrey as a childlike wildly imaginative elephant? Steve Carell as a furry figurehead who likes being everybody’s friend? Imagine that. They both probably could have played it straight without the animation and it would have worked--but the CGI certainly adds to their performances. As a Seuss regular Carrey’s usual manic behavior is well-harnessed within the extra folds of elephant skin and Horton’s optimistic outlook is infectious. For example he doesn’t exactly know what 'ASAP' means but he’s pretty sure it means “Act Swiftly Awesome Pachyderm!” That might just be a better acronym. Carell as Mr. Mayor of Whoville is also an upbeat fellow who cherishes his job his cute wife (Amy Poehler) his 96 daughters and especially his only son Jo Jo (Jesse McCartney) but when it comes time to save the town the mayor is all action. Also included in the A-list cast is Seth Rogen as a hyperactive rodent-type and Horton’s BFF; Will Arnett as a molting evil vulture; and Carol Burnett as the snooty Kangaroo Nool jungle’s resident naysayer and mob instigator. It’s just another collection of eclectic voices that work well together. Animating Dr. Seuss is a definitely the key to a successful big-screen adaptation which up to this point hasn’t been done before. One has to wonder why. Yes seeing Jim Carrey decked out in green fur as the Grinch was quite a spectacle--even Mike Myers as the Cat in the Hat took some initiative. But seriously what better way to re-create Dr. Seuss than with CGI? Veteran Pixar animator Jimmy Hayward (Monsters Inc. Toy Story 2) and newcomer Steve Martino take the helm with Horton Hears a Who and paint us all the wacky and wonderful sights and sounds of a Seuessian world. The animals in the jungle are certainly different with stripes and spots and colors not generally found in such an environ while Whoville finally looks like the real thing rather than a set design straight from an amusement park. There's even an homage to standard 2-D animation particularly Japanime when Horton fantasizes himself a martial arts hero. Classic stuff. Simply there’s really no way they could go back to live-action Dr. Seuss when there are no limits to the imagination he inspires with animation.
Martin Scorsese's gangster movie The Departed and road comedy Little Miss Sunshine walked away with the top prizes at the Writers Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles last night.
William Monahan won the Best Adapted Screenplay award for The Departed, while Michael Arndt collected Best Original Screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine.
Best Documentary Screenplay went to Amy Berg for Deliver Us from Evil.
Elsewhere, The Sopranos writers Mitchell Burgess, David Chase, Diane Frolov, Robin Green, Andrew Schneider, Matthew Weiner and Terence Winter won the Best Dramatic Television Series award.
The Office writers Steve Carell, Jennifer Celotta, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Brent Forrester, Ricky Gervais, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Stephen Merchant, B.J. Novak, Michael Schur and Gene Stupnitsky won the Best Comedy Television Series award.
Ugly Betty writers Veveronica Becker, Oliver Goldstick, Silvio Horta, Sarah Kucserka, Sheila Lawrence, Cameron Litvack, Myra Jo Martino, Jim Parriott, Marco Pennette, Dailyn Rodriguez and Don Todd won Best New Television Series.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Top Story: Madonna's Label Sues Warner Music
Madonna's Maverick Recording Co., who handles such artists as Michelle Branch and Alanis Morissette, has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Warner Music Thursday, seeking $200 million in damages, Reuters reports. The suit, which alleges fraud and false accounting, stems from a year-long dispute between Maverick and Warner and predates the recent sale of Warner Music to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. In the joint venture between the two companies, Warner has the option of buying out the 60 percent of Maverick it doesn't own when the partnership deal expires at the end of the year, but sources say negotiations broke down when Madonna's price was too steep for Warner, Reuters reports. Madonna's lawsuit also comes one day after Warner Music filed a claim in a Delaware court asking a judge to rule it had met its commitments in its deal with Maverick and that any claims to the contrary were without merit, Reuters reports. Calling the Delaware lawsuit a "sneak attack," Maverick's attorney Bert Fields told Reuters he was doubtful the issues would be resolved out of court. "We've been trying to get these people to settle for a year now and we don't think we'll have any success in the future," said Fields.
Spears Tops Aussie Mag's Sexy Women List
Britney Spears was named the No. 1 sexiest woman by the Australian and New Zealand magazine FHM, The Associated Press reports. The pop princess was followed by Australian singer/actress Delta Goodrem, while Aussie singer/actress Kylie Minogue came in fifth.
Swank-y Calvin Klein Ads
Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank has signed on to be the exclusive celebrity model for the Calvin Klein Sensual Support intimate apparel collection, AP reports. "Hilary is the perfect choice for this campaign. She looks absolutely beautiful and easily conveys the sensuality that we want," Kim Vernon, senior vice president of global advertising and communications for Calvin Klein Inc., said in a statement Wednesday. The new collection will be available in July.
Tribeca Film Fest Announces Slate
The Tribeca Film Festival unveiled its lineup for its third annual New York event, including six international premieres and 10 U.S. bows. The festival opens May 1 with Garry Marshall's Raising Helen, starring Kate Hudson and runs through May 9. Other films featured include Dear Frankie, starring Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler; Whore starring Daryl Hannah and Denise Richards; and Poster Boy, starring Karen Allen and Michael Lerner.
Alias' Garner Gets a Sister
Mia Maestro (Frida) is set to join ABC's Alias, playing star Jennifer Garner's sister. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Maestro will appear in the last three episodes of the show this season and is expected to return as a regular next season. In other pilot casting news, William Devane has joined an untitled ABC family comedy about a man (Tom Everett Scott) and his estranged father (Devane) who become dads at the same time.
Former Wiseguy To Host Wiseguy Show
Actor Vincent Pastore, best known for playing the ill-fated Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on HBO's The Sopranos, will host The Wiseguy Show, a weekly celebration of Italian-American culture for Sirius Satellite Radio, AP reports. Pastore will interview guests from the Italian-American community, discuss world events, review movies, perform skits, give sex advice and interact with listeners as well as play music from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Al Martino, Jerry Vale and other classic crooners. The show premieres Saturday.
Costello Writes the Books
Taking his popular song "Everyday I Write the Book" to heart, singer-songwriter Elvis Costello cinched a deal with publisher Simon & Schuster to write two books, Reuters reports. The first, due in the fall of 2005, promises to be a work of "intimate narrative chapters taking their cue from the styles, themes and characters" found in Costello's lyrics, the publisher said. The second book, titled How to Play the Guitar, Sing Loudly and Impress Girls ... or Boys, is described as a "work of comic philosophy," Reuters reports.
Role Call: Beckham Bends Panther; Bridges Becoming Mogul
Soccer star David Beckham is in negotiations to make his feature film debut in the upcoming comedy remake The Pink Panther. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the story follows bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) as he investigates the murder of a famous soccer coach and the theft of the Pink Panther diamond and also stars Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles and Jean Reno. Beckham would play a cameo role as a soccer player, natch…Jeff Bridges is set to star in the indie The Moguls, a comedy about a small town that bands together to make a porno film. Writer Michael Traeger (Dead Man on Campus) will make his directorial debut.