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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Much like the somber melodies that float throughout its 105-minute runtime, Inside Llewyn Davis will remain lodged in your head weeks after you and the film first meet. With Oscar Isaac's "Fare thee we-e-ell..." ringing daintily in your ears, you'll shuffle out from the grasp of the Coen Brothers' wonderland of gray, but you won't soon be able to relieve yourself of what is arguable the pair's best film yet. Llewyn's is a story so outstandingly simple — he's a man who's s**t out of luck, and not especially deserving of any. He wakes up, loses his friend's cat, plays some music, and wishes things were better. And yet his is the Coens' most invigorating and deftly human tale yet.
Llewyn Davis makes the bold, but practical, choice of never insisting that we love its hero. He's effectively a jackass, justifying all the waste he has incurred with the rudeness he showers on the majority of those in his acquaintance. But Llewyn Davis isn't the villain here, either. The villain is the industry, and all the uphill battles inherent to its machinations. The villain isn't Llewyn's substantially more successful contacts — an old pal Jim (Justin Timberlake) and new fellow couch-surfer Troy (Stark Sands), but the listening public that prefers their saccharine pop to his dreary drips of misery. The villain isn't Llewyn's resentful old flame Jean (Carey Mulligan), no matter how many volatile admonitions she might shoot his way, but the act of God surrounding their unwitting adherence to one another. And it's not even the cantankerous and foul Roland Turner (a delightfully hammy John Goodman), but the endless, frigid open road of which each man is a prisoner (if the film has one flaw, it's that this segment carries on just a bit too long, but that might very well be the point). The villain is the cold.
Call it all a raw deal. But the real dynamism isn't in the challenges that happen outside Llewyn Davis, but in the determined toxicity brewing inside as he meets each and every one.
But this isn't the Coen Brothers' Murphy's Law comedy A Serious Man — we don't watch a chaotic pileup of every imaginable trick that the devil can manage to pull. Llewyn is steady throughout, not burying Llewyn deeper but keeping him on the ground, with the fruit-bearing branches forever out of his reach. In its narrative, Llewyn Davis is as close to natural life as any of the filmmakers' works to date. Perfectly exhibited in a late scene involving a trip to Akron, Llewyn isn't a cinematic construct, but the sort of person we know, so painfully, that we are very likely to be... on our bad days.
Still, working in such a terrific harmony with the grounded feel of Llewyn himself, we have that Coen whimsy in their delivery of 1960s New York City — rather, a magic kingdom painted in the stellar form of a 1960s New York City. And not the New York City we're given by the likes of Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen. Closer, maybe, to Spike Lee or Sydney Lumet, but still a terrain unique to moviegoers. A New York that's always recovering from a hostile rain, and always promising another 'round the bend. One that flickers like a dying bulb, with its million odd beleaguered moths buzzing around it against the pull of logic. There is something so incredibly alive about the Coens' crying city; this hazy dream world's partnership with half-dead, anchored-to-earth portrait like Llewyn is the product of such sophisticated imagination at play.
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And to cap this review of one of the best features 2013 has given us, it's only appropriate to return to the element in which its identity is really cemented: the music. Without the tunes bobbing through the story, we'd still likely find something terrific in Llewyn Davis. But the music, as beautiful as it is, is the reason for the story. As we watch Isaac's hopeless sad sack drag himself through Manhattan's winter, past the helping hands of friends and into the grimaces of strangers, as we struggle with our own handfuls of nihilistic skepticism that any of this yarn is worth the agony (or that our attention to its meandering nature is worth the price of a ticket), we are given the rare treat of an answer. Of course it's all for something. Of course it's all about something. It's about that beautiful, beautiful music.
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If you had to choose between Girls, Game of Thrones, and Homeland, which one would you say is your favorite show? We know, this is tough question. The shows are all equally entertaining, but in very different ways. These and other series have been pitted against each other in the 2013 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards (put out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) international category. Up against Danish/Swedish crime drama The Bridge, only one of these four shows can come out the winner. Which one will it be?
See the full list of 2013 BAFTA Television nominees below.
2013 BAFTA TV Nominees:
LEADING ACTOR:Ben Whishaw, Richard II (The Hollow Crown)Derek Jacobi, Last Tango In Halifax Sean Bean, Accused (Tracie’s Story)Toby Jones, The Girl
LEADING ACTRESS:Anne Reid, Last Tango In Halifax Rebecca Hall, Parade’s End Sheridan Smith, Mrs Biggs Sienna Miller, The Girl
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Peter Capaldi, The Hour Stephen Graham, Accused (Tracie’s Story) Harry Lloyd, The Fear Simon Russell Beale, Henry IV Part 2 (The Hollow Crown)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anastasia Hille, The Fear Imelda Staunton, The Girl Olivia Colman, Accused (Mo’s Story) Sarah Lancashire, Last Tango In Halifax
ENTERTAINMENT PERFORMANCE:Alan Carr, Alan Carr: Chatty Man Ant and Dec, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!Graham Norton, The Graham Norton Show Sarah Millican, The Sarah Millican Show
FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY PROGRAM:Jessica Hynes, Twenty Twelve Julia Davis, HunderbyMiranda Hart, Miranda Olivia Colman, Twenty Twelve
MALE PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY PROGRAM:Greg Davies, Cuckoo Hugh Bonneville, Twenty Twelve PeterCapaldi, The Thick Of It Steve Coogan, Welcome To The Places Of My Life
SINGLE DRAMA :Everyday, Revolution Films/Channel 4 The Girl, Wall to Wall/BBC Two Murder, Touchpaper TV/BBC Two Richard II(Hollow Crown), Neal Street Productions co-production with NBC Universal and WNET Thirteen/BBC Two
MINI-SERIES:Accused, RSJ Films/BBC One Mrs Biggs, ITV Studios/ITV Parade’s End, Mammoth Screen/BBC Two Room At The Top, Great Meadow Productions/BBC Four
DRAMA SERIES:Last Tango In Halifax, Red Production Company/BBC One Ripper Street, Tiger Aspect Productions/BBC One Scott And Bailey, Red Production Company/ITV Silk, BBC Productions/BBC One
SOAP & CONTINUING DRAMA: Coronation Street EastEnders Emmerdale Shameless
INTERNATIONAL:The BridgeGame of ThronesGirlsHomeland
FACTUAL SERIES:24 Hours In A&E, Garden Productions/Channel 4Great Ormond Street, Films of Record/BBC TwoMake Bradford British, Love Productions/Channel 4Our War, BBC Productions/BBC Three
SPECIALIST FACTUAL:All In The Best Possible Taste With Grayson Perry, Seneca Productions/Channel 4The Plane Crash, Dragonfly Productions, MAP TV/Channel 4The Plot To Bring Down Britain’s Planes, Raw TV/Channel 4The Secret History Of Our Streets, Century Films, Halcyons Heart Films/BBC Two
SINGLE DOCUMENTARY:7/7: One Day In London, Minnow Films/BBC TwoBaka: A Cry From The Rainforest, River Films/BBC TwoLucian Freud: Painted Life, Blakeway Productions/BBC TwoNina Conti – A Ventriloquist’s Story: Her Master’s Voice, Nina Conti in association with the BBC/BBC Four
FEATURESBank Of Dave, Finestripe Productions/Channel 4Grand Designs, Boundless/Channel 4The Great British Bake Off, Love Productions/BBC TwoPaul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs, Shiver/ITV
REALITY & CONSTRUCTED FACTUAL:The Audience, The Garden Productions/Channel 4I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, ITV Studios/ITVMade In Chelsea, Monkey Kingdom/E4The Young Apprentice, Boundless Productions/BBC One
CURRENT AFFAIRS:Britain’s Hidden Housing Crisis(Panorama Special), Genie Pictures Ltd/BBC OneThe Other Side Of Jimmy Savile(Exposure), ITV Studios/ITVThe Shame Of The Catholic Church(This World), BBC Northern Ireland/BBC TwoWhat Killed Arafat?(Al Jazeera Investigates), Al Jazeera English/Al Jazeera English
NEWS COVERAGE:BBC News At Ten: Syria, BBC News/BBC One & BBC News ChannelChannel 4 News: Battle For Homs, ITN/Channel 4Hillsborough – The Truth At Last(Granada Reports), ITV Granada/ITV
SPORT & LIVE EVENT:The London 2012 Olympics: Super Saturday, BBC Sport/BBC OneThe London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony: Isle Of Wonder, Done & Dusted/BBC OneThe London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sunset & Vine, IMG/Channel 4Wimbledon 2012 – Men’s Final, BBC Sport/BBC One
ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM:Dynamo Magician Impossible, Phil McIntyre Entertainment, Inner Circle Films/WatchThe Graham Norton Show, So Television/BBC OneHave I Got News For You, Hat Trick Productions/BBC OneA League Of Their Own, CPL Productions/Sky One
COMEDY PROGRAM:Cardinal Burns, Left Bank Pictures/E4Mr Stink, BBC Productions in association with Bert Productions/BBC OneThe Revolution Will Be Televised, Hat Trick Productions/BBC ThreeWelcome To The Places Of My Life, Baby Cow/Sky Atlantic
SITUATION COMEDY: Episodes, Hat Trick Productions/BBC TwoHunderby, Baby Cow/Sky Atlantic The Thick Of It, BBC Productions/BBC Two Twenty Twelve, BBC Productions/BBC Two
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
MORE:BAFTA Nominations 2012 Homeland Teaser: 5 Questions We Need Answered Making A Case for Homeland
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Proving that it's no wimp at the box office, Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tops the weekend with an impressive $24.4 million. Families and kids evidently want to follow the further expolits of Rodrick and Greg Heffley as they deal with various humiliations and occasional triumphs of adolescent life. The original film in the franchise opened about just over ayear ago in second place (behind juggernaut Alice in Wonderland) with a solid $22.1 million and went on to earn $64 million domestically. This installment clearly capitalize on the fact that it is the only live action family film in wide release in the marketplace and Fox backed it up with a terrific marketing campaign.
Sucker Punch from visionary director Zack Snyder who had success in bringing both his Spartan-epic 300 and the hyper-kinetic reality of Watchmen to the big screen lands in second with $19 million. A marketing campaign that featured a trailer that highlighted not only the collective beauty of its female stars including Aussie Emily Browning, High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens and The Adjustment Bureau’s Abbie Cornish, but also the music of Led Zeppelin, intrigued the fanboys and girls. Once again IMAX delivered additional visual as well as box office punch to the proceedings with $4.1 million in 229 domestic locations, and at 21% the giant screen company’s best 2-D percentage ever!
Check out our exclusive 'Sucker Punch'-themed comic strip from Francesco Marciuliano. Francesco writes the internationally-syndicated comic strip “Sally Forth” and the webcomic “Medium Large.” He was the head writer for the PBS series “SeeMore’s Playhouse,” for which one of his episodes won two 2007 Daytime Emmys. He currently writes for the Onion News Network.
America’s freshly appointed leading man Bradley Cooper took third place as Relativity Media’s Limitless earned $15.2 million this weekend against a uber-small 19% second weekend drop and a 10-day total of $41.3 million. A surprisingly strong debut last weekend that caught many off guard proves that Hangover favorite Cooper is a box office draw in his own right. Of course the presence of a terrific supporting cast including Robert De Niro and a solid marketing campaign did not hurt the film’s chances with audiences looking for a unique mind-bending thriller.
Lionsgate’s The Lincoln Lawyer had the strongest second weekend hold of any film on the chart realizing a mere 17% drop and a solid word-of-mouth driven $11 million. The Matthew McConaughey starring vehicle had performed well all through the mid-week and has earned $29 million in 10 days of release.
Paramount’s animated Rango, entered its fourth weekend with a lot of momentum having impressively secured a second place finish last weekend against a tiny 33% drop and a domestic gross that eclipsed $100 million this weekend. A fifth place finish of $9.8 million and a domestic total to date of $106.4 million proves that this is an animated film that remains a family favorite with kids and Johnny Depp fans alike.
This is the fifth consecutive down weekend at the box office with year ago comparisons giving us yet another sucker punch when How to Train Your Dragon had a $43.7 million debut and year-to-date revenue stood 8.90% ahead of 2009. Currently year-to-date revenues are running 19% behind last year at this point.
Weekend Box-Office Estimates
Top Movies - For Weekend of March 25, 2011 - Estimates
Movie Weekend Gross Total to Date
1 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (PG) $24.4M $24.4M
2 Sucker Punch (NR) $19.0M $19.0M
3 Limitless (PG-13) $15.2M $41.8M
4 The Lincoln Lawyer (R) $11.0M $29.1M
5 Rango (PG) $9.8M $106.4M
6 Battle: Los Angeles $7.6M $72.6M
7 Paul $7.5M $24.6M
8 Red Riding Hood $4.3M $32.5M
9 The Adjustment Bureau $4.2M $54.9M
10 Mars Needs Moms! $2.2M $19.1M