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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Kim Kardashian celebrated her upcoming wedding to Kanye West with a lavish bridal shower in Beverly Hills on Saturday (10May14). The reality TV star is expected to wed West in Paris, France on 24 May (14), and she marked the remainder of her single days with a pre-wedding bash with her celebrity pals and famous family.
Among the guests at the Peninsula Hotel were sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, mum Kris Jenner, singer Ciara, reality TV star Larsa Pippen and socialite Brittny Gastineau.
According to reports, the Paris-themed affair had been set to take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but Kardashian decided to boycott the venue in protest after its owner, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, implemented a law in his country that includes the stoning to death of gay people.
She joins the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, and Sharon Osbourne, who have all vowed to steer clear of his hotel chain until the law is reversed.
A music producer who used to work with Jay Z is under investigation by police in New York and Los Angeles over an alleged extortion plot regarding a number of the rapper's master recordings. The hip-hop mogul recorded the tracks for his Roc-A-Fella Records between 1998 and 2002, but the masters went missing in 2002 and were subsequently presumed lost.
However, Chauncey Mahan recently contacted Jay Z's business partners at Live Nation, who work with the star on his Roc Nation label, and allegedly offered to sell them a number of masters he had stored away in Northridge, California for $100,000 (£62,500).
The two parties agreed to a fee of $75,000 (£46,875), and arranged to seal the deal at the storage facility on Friday (18Apr14), according to TMZ.com.
However, instead of meeting Jay Z's representatives, Mahan was confronted by police. He was not arrested, but agreed to accompany cops to the station for questioning. The masters were also taken away for safe keeping until ownership can be determined.
The extortion allegations are currently under investigation by authorities in Beverly Hills, where Live Nation is based, while Jay Z's team has filed a separate complaint for grand larceny with New York officials over claims the masters were illegally removed from their Big Apple offices.
Late night TV icon Jay Leno and comedy actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus were inducted into the TV Hall of Fame at an intimate Hollywood ceremony on Tuesday (11Mar14). Network executives, studio bosses and Hollywood stars filled the audience at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel for the 23rd Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame ceremony.
Seinfeld star Louis-Dreyfus, who is the only actress to win Emmy awards for three separate shows, was presented with her honour by Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, and said in her acceptance speech, "My high school physics teacher always said: 'Have fun at all costs'."
Leno, who was replaced in his long-standing role as host of The Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon last month (Feb14), joked as he accepted his award, "Ahhh, a Hall of Fame ceremony that doesn't involve a drug test."
Fox Broadcasting Company supremo Rupert Murdoch, ABC network executive Brandon Stoddard, writer-producer David E. Kelley, and audio-engineer Ray Dolby, who was honoured posthumously, were also inducted at the ceremony for their contributions in the field of television.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Captain Phillips, American Hustle and Frozen all scooped prizes at the 64th American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards on Friday night (07Feb14). During the award ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, American Hustle's editors Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten took home the prize in the comedy/musical category, while Captain Phillips' Christopher Rouse landed the dramatic feature trophy.
The animated feature category was won by Frozen's Jeff Draheim and Douglas Blush, Kevin Klauber and Jason Zeldes scooped the documentary award for 20 Feet From Stardom.
Captain Phillips' director Paul Greengrass was handed a special honour at the ceremony, a Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award by the American Cinema Editors (ACE) board of directors for his ongoing contribution to the movie industry.
Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron and filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have each landed nominations for the American Cinema Editors' (ACE) Eddie Awards. Cuaron's behind-the-scenes work on his space disaster movie has earned the Mexican a nod for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic), alongside 12 Years a Slave's Joe Walker, Chris Rouse for Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks' Mark Livolsi, and Eric Zumbrunnen and Jeff Buchanan for Her.
Meanwhile, the Coen brothers have scored a mention in the Comedy or Musical category under their moniker Roderick Jaynes for Inside Llewyn Davis. They will compete against American Hustle's Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, August: Osage County's Stephen Mirrione, Kevin Tent for Nebraska, and Thelma Schoonmaker for The Wolf of Wall Street.
The nominations will give Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis big Oscars boosts - the winner of either the dramatic or comedy/musical film Eddie categories have gone on to claim the Oscar for Best Picture in seven of the past 11 Eddie Awards shows, while the Eddie victor in the best edited dramatic feature shortlist has gone on to win the Academy Award for editing in nine of the past 11 years.
The 64th annual ACE Eddie Awards will take place in at the Beverly Hilton in California on 7 February (14).
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is set to be inducted into The Television Academy Hall of Fame. The Seinfeld star, who scored a Golden Globes nomination last week (ends13Dec13) for her role in TV comedy Veep, will be feted on 11 March, 2014 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in California, alongside writer/producer David E. Kelley, U.S. late night host Jay Leno, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, ABC Network executive Brandon Stoddard and American sound pioneer Ray Dolby, who will be inducted posthumously.
Bruce Rosenblum, The Television Academy's Chairman and CEO, says, "The six individuals being inducted into the Hall of Fame have all made a profound impact on the landscape of television, leaving their own mark within our industry and with audiences around the world.
"Their groundbreaking contributions will last for generations, making them true icons who could not be more deserving of the Television Academy's highest honour."
Past inductees include Ron Howard, Candice Bergen and William Shatner.
Actress Shirley Mitchell, the last surviving adult cast member of beloved U.S. comedy series I Love Lucy, has died at the age of 94. Mitchell, who played leading lady Lucille Ball's friend Marion Strong on the show, passed away on Monday (11Nov13) from heart failure in Los Angeles, California.
The actress joined I Love Lucy in 1953 and appeared in three episodes.
Her other TV credits include Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, Perry Mason and The Red Skelton Hour. She also made a few big screen appearances in films like Big Business and The War of the Roses.
Mitchell was the widow of composer and lyricist Jay Livingston, who helped pen Doris Day's Que Sera Sera. He passed away in 2001. She is survived by their two children Scott and Brooke.
The TV landscape is filled with what seems like a never-ending stream of fresh programming. But whereas few shows are popular enough to be celebrated by critics, most float around for several seasons in obscurity maintaining a small but devoted following. Here's our pick of five shows – some popular, most not – you need to be watching this week.
The Biggest LoserTens of thousands of pounds have already been lost on NBC's long-running weight loss reality show, yet for 15 seasons (and counting) contestants on The Biggest Loser continue to shed insane amounts of weight. Okay, maybe some of them do gain it all back, point is it's inspiring TV. Episode three follows the contestants as they explore their creative side, when they're asked to work out using equipment won at auctions. Hmm...I wonder how much a Tony Little Gazelle (circa 2002) is going for these days? The Biggest Loser airs this Tuesday, October 29, at 8 PM ET on NBC.
Impractical JokersThe problem with every hidden-camera show of the last 10 years is that most of them starred Ashton Kutcher (zing!). Well, I'm happy to say that Impractical Jokers, truTV's hilarious prank show featuring four Staten Island-bred funnymen doing what they do best, not only takes over the mantle from Candid Camera, it flat-out bulldozes anything even remotely similar (i.e. Punk'd). Now if only one of these dudes even slightly resembled Steve Jobs, the Kutcher-starring biopic would have been worlds funnier. Oh wait – that was supposed to be a drama wasn't it? Double zing! Impractical Jokers airs Sunday nights on truTV.
Cutthroat KitchenEver find yourself skimming the tube some weekday afternoons and thinking to yourself, "Boy, there sure could be more cooking shows"? Well, thankfully, Cutthroat Kitchen is one of the few food-oriented reality programs that actually has a unique premise (the other 90 seem to always have some version of Gordon Ramsay verbally berating contestants). Basically, four chefs are given $25,000 in cold, hard American coin, which can be used to destroy each other in the kitchen. And if you thought only athletes like Mike Tyson became depraved when big money was on the line, wait until you see a couple of cooks go at it! Cutthroat Kitchen airs Sundays at 10 PM ET on the Food Network.
Alaskan Women Looking for LoveTired of the Fake Housewives of New Beverly County? Then catch up with some real woman who just happen to be in need of a man. And get this, they all just happen to reside in Alaska. That's right, that ice-covered oasis to the north (formerly known as Palinville) is littered with enough attractive young women for TLC to base a show on. That said, looks like there just might be hope for the hard-working young ladies of North Dakota! A man can dream...Alaskan Women Looking for Love airs Sundays at 7 PM ET on TLC.
Making MonstersEver wonder how all your favorite haunted house "scareacters" are made? Then you'll want to check out this week's Halloween-themed episode of Making Monsters on the Travel Channel. Put it this way, one of the creatures they construct from start to finish is described as a human eating zombie from hell. And no, his name is not Ted Cruz. Making Monsters airs this Sunday at 6 PM ET on the Travel Channel.