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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Oscar winner Barry Levinson (Bandits) received the Golden Eddie for filmmaker of the year Sunday at the 52nd American Cinema Editors Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Pietro Scalia won best edited dramatic feature for Black Hawk Down while Jill Bilcock won best edited comedy or musical for Moulin Rouge, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The television categories were dominated by HBO editors, which won three of the six awards. Veteran editors George Watters and Antony Gibbs received lifetime achievement awards.
Even after the 25th anniversary of his death, Elvis Presley is still drawing controversy. Elvis Presley Enterprises has licensed a company to replace George Washington on some of Tennessee's 2002 quarters with a color illustration of Presley. While defacing U.S. currency is considered a misdemeanor crime, the King of Rock 'n' Roll quarters are in a gray area because they are not part of a deceptive scheme, the Associated Press reports.
Harrison Ford, who divorced screenwriter Melissa Mathison last year, was seen strolling down Madison Ave. with Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart, bundled in winter jackets and wearing blue jeans and caps. According to PageSix.com, the also couple attended a post-Globes party together, and when the waifish Flockhart spilled red wine on her dress, Ford kissed her on the cheek and told bystanders, "She's a beautiful girl."
Madonna has refused to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, worried that it might make her seem old and out of date. According to People, the 43-year-old singer was asked to accept the award in recognition of her 18-year career that started in 1984. Instead, the award went to Sting, who insisted the title of the award be changed to Outstanding Contribution before he'd accept it.
Tom Cruise is indeed sporting see-through braces, his spokeswoman Pat Kingsley told Reuters. After taking one of his kids to an orthodontist in Beverly Hills, the doctor noticed that Cruise's bite was out of alignment. The 39-year-old actor will likely have the braces on for a year or so but will take them off for movies.
Sylvester Stallone saved his pregnant wife, model Jennifer Flavin, and good friend Mira Sorvino from a stalled elevator after the two women were stuck between floors in the backstage elevator. The incident occurred during the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Love Rocks party last Thursday at the new Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Stallone took off his jacket and manually pried open the doors with his own hands, pulling the women to safety, according to myvideostore.com.
Singer Kylie Minogue told British talk-show host Michael Parkinson that she intends to marry boyfriend James Gooding, reports Sky News. Minogue, who has had a string of high-profile relationships including late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, said she has found happiness with the British model.
Anjelica Huston has been added to the cast of Blood Work, a new suspense-thriller from Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is based on the novel by Michael Connelly and stars Clint Eastwood as an FBI profiler tracking a serial killer under unusual circumstances involving his own history and blood analysis. Eastwood is also helming the film, which began filming Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Paul McCartney returned home to Liverpool, England, for a surprise appearance Sunday at a tribute concert for George Harrison, Reuters reports. The audience joined McCartney in an impromptu version of "Yesterday" in memory of the late Beatle, who died of cancer last year at the age of 58.
Don't expect Paul McCartney's wedding to Heather Mills next month to be a showy affair. A friend of McCartney told Scotland's Sunday Mail that the couple considered marrying in Skibo Castle, near Dornoch--where Madonna married director Guy Ritchie a year ago--but decided to go for something simpler instead, either at a small church or register office. The couple got engaged last July after meeting two years ago at an awards dinner.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Association of Talent Agents reached a tentative agreement Monday that would allow talent agencies to make and receive investments in companies involved in production, reports AP. The current rules, which went into place in 1939, were drafted to prevent conflicts of interest and protect actors from exploitation by talent agencies working for either producers or movie studios. Movie studios and television networks, however, would still be banned from owning or investing in a talent agency.