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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Actresses Naya Rivera and Jennifer Morrison have stripped off for U.S. beauty magazine Allure. The Glee stunner, former House star Morrison, Nashville's Clare Bowen and TV veteran Christa Miller have bared all for the publication's special Look Better Naked issue, and in the spread Rivera is photographed casually crossing her arms and legs to cover her modesty.
Morrison is pictured wearing only red lipstick, and she insists she didn't go crazy preparing for her close-up, saying, "(I just had) one glass of wine instead of two, fish instead of steak. And I got waxed and shaved my legs."
Bowen had no qualms about posing for the cameras either, explaining, "My body isn't going to look like this forever. I think it's lovely to have that preservation."
However, 48-year-old Cougar Town star Miller admits she amped up her gym routine two weeks before the project - though she planned on indulging in a tasty meal once it wrapped: "I'm going to Courteney (Cox)'s for dinner. I told her, 'You better have carbs.'"
Unlike her gal pals, cover girl Amanda Seyfried is featured on the front cover in a lavender flowing top and when asked why she didn't strip down too, she told the New York Post, "I would have, but my publicist wouldn't let me!"
The movie magic of bringing Cassandra Clare's YA fantasy series The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to the big screen isn't just in the CGI (though there is some of that, transporting both the characters and the moviegoers to other realms and bringing terrifying demons to life) but in the minor details. The sketches on the bedroom wall of the New York City apartment where the story's heroine Clary (Lily Collins) resides, the tattoos that adorn the bodies of the marked Shadowhunters (including the likes of Jamie Campbell Bower and Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and the Gothic accents in the library of the hub that is The Institute.
Hollywood.com had the chance to visit the Toronto set of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones last October and saw firsthand, the intricate detailing that went into not only bringing the novel to life, but making sure all bases were covered when it came to capturing the essence of the story and the characters.
Sets and the City:
Trying to replicate the massive scale of New York City is no small task, so to speak. Even more challenging can be making a realistic NYC apartment. The team behind building the sets for TMI engineered a beautiful — and reasonably sized — living space for Clary and her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey), right up the stairs from Madame Dorethea's (CCH Pounder) place in their Brooklyn walk-up. Clary's walls were lined with sketches that looked not unlike something you'd see in TMI fan art and the kitchen was spacious, even by fake NYC apartment standards, but a major fight unfolds in that room. Which is why, as production designer François Séguin explained, the kitchen's counters were padded.
RELATED: Lily Collins Talks About How 'Mortal Instruments' Has a Different Kind of YA Heroine
When TMI hits theaters this summer, moviegoers should keep an even closer eye on the library of The Insitution. Even Collins was blown away by how it turned out, as she told Hollywood.com, "[It is] literally is exactly how I pictured it in my head....as a fan, I think the world is encapsulated really, really well."
The set of the library was a veritable what's what in the TMI world: the Mortal cup, the Mortal sword, and Mortal symbols are scattered throughout the gothic architecture, complete with stainglass windows and a fully stocked library. A grand piano, a map of Germany, a birdcage, a magnifying glass, and a statue constructed with the images of skulls and bones were also among the various trinkets and set pieces found in the study in The Institute belonging to Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris).
Perhaps most importantly, the sets impressed Clare, who was on the set as a consultant. "It's amazing to see it come to life like this, the sets are really beautiful, they are very intricate," the author said. "They really recreated these sort of imaginary places with incredible attention to detail. There's a place in the books called "The City of Bones" that is named after the underground city built out of human bones and corpses, and I think they made 1,000 to 2,000 different models of skulls and each one is different aged to look differently, each one has different sort of features and has been changed in a different way so even though you probably only see it in a glancing shot in the movie like I know every single one of those is different and I think it adds incredible texture to the film." (Fun facts: there were 87 swords on the TMI set and up to 16 runes scattered throughout).
RELATED: Kevin Zegers as Alec in 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' — EXCLUSIVE PHOTO
Dress To Impress:
Never mind that Collins had to do her fight sequences in high heels, Meyers had to do his with long braided hair! The actor, who had a meticulous eye for getting the details just right (during one particular fight sequence Meyers would ask director Harald Zwart for more takes to get the motions down pat) was in head-to-toe leather garb, giving his character Valentine something of a Matrix-meets-YA aesthetic.
Meyers, just like Bower, was covered in fake tattoos by the TMI makeup department. As Bower explained about the tattoos, "These are runes, so each tattoo has a specific power so I’m covered in them and I have real tattoos as well, so my real tattoos have to get covered and then runes get put on top of my real tattoos." The actor, who plays Shadowhunter Jace joked, "I think I should just get runes tattooed all over me, then at least I wouldn’t have to spend three hours in the makeup chair because I’d spend fifteen hours in the tattoo parlor and be done with it for the rest of my life."
You'll be able to keep an out for all the major makeup and minor details when The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters on August 23.
RELATED: 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' Trailer
[Photo credit: Screen Gems]
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.