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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The British royal was touring BBC Scotland's Pacific Quay headquarters when he was invited to take charge of the lunchtime weather forecast.
BBC newsreader Sally Magnusson told audiences, "I'm delighted to say we've got a new member of our weather team, let me hand over to him now. Your Highness?"
Looking into the camera, the royal said, "It's an unsettled picture as we head towards the end of the week. This afternoon it'll be cold, wet and windy across most of Scotland."
The prince continued to read specially written lines, which included jokey references to royal residences in Scotland, adding, "Who the hell wrote this script?"
He told viewers, "The best of the bright and dry weather will of course be in the northern isles and the far north of the mainland. So, a little hazy sunshine for the Castle of Mey in Caithness. But a cold day everywhere with temperatures of just 8C and a brisk northerly wind. Thank God it isn't a bank holiday!"
Forget Spider-Man and The Hulk! Marvel legend Stan Lee has a new superhero up his long sleeve. Lee, the co-creator of last weekend's box office topper Daredevil, has struck a deal for his next live-action feature, Forever Man.
The project is based on Lee's own idea and will be produced through his POW! Films along with new kid on the block Idiom Films.
The pic's story line is being kept under wraps, but Lee said it will center on superheroes in a "different type of situation" than such previous comic adaptations as Spider-Man and Daredevil.
"It has to do with crime and punishment in the not-too-distant future and a unique way of punishing people who are menaces to society," Lee told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's a concept that hasn't been seen before, with tremendously interesting villains with unique powers."
Scribe Luke McMullen (Pigeonholed) will pen the screenplay.
Lee will co-produce the pic with Idiom Films president and managing partner Quay Hays, while POW! President Gill Champion will executive produce. According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers are putting the project on an ambitious fast track, with hopes of having Forever Man in theaters by the end of 2004.
"We're thrilled to be working with my longtime friend Stan Lee," Hays told the trade mag. "This new project is one of the most exciting and fresh ideas from the man whose fertile imagination raised the bar on originality."
This year is gearing up to be a productive year for Lee. Last week's release of Daredevil was the best President's Day weekend opening ever in box office history. This summer, Universal Pictures is releasing The Hulk while 20th Century Fox will release its much-anticipated sequel X2.
In its first major move under new entertainment president Susan Lyne, ABC has picked up seven drama pilots and four comedy pilots. According to The Hollywood Reporter, nine of the 11 projects come for ABC's sibling studio Touchstone Television, but Lyne said she didn't even look at the name of the studio when reading the scripts. The Touchstone-heavy slate could be a welcomed addition for ABC, considering the success of recent Touchstone-produced shows like My Wife and Kids, According to Jim and Scrubs. The network's ratings hit the skids this season after Who Wants to Be a Millionaire's downfall and a decline of most of their established comedies.
Richard Linklater, who directed the original cult classic Slacker in 1991, believes the new film Slackers directed by Dewey Nicks, will damage the long-term value of his first movie. He told PageSix.com, "No one ever asked for my permission...because they know I would have said, 'Go to hell!'"
A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that while the media did a terrific job of covering the events of Sept. 11 in a factual way, TV news got worst once the bombing in Afghanistan was underway. "Analysis and opinion swelled--so much so that the level of factualness declined...journalists often seemed to luxuriate in sounding not like knowledgeable experts on TV stages, but like anybody else standing in a barroom," the reports states.
Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger will star in the comedy Down With Love helmed by Bring It On director Peyton Reed. The film is set in New York during the 1960s and pays homage to the Doris Day-Rock Hudson capers Pillow Talk and Love Come Back, Variety reports.
Wearing biker clothes, Ray-Bans and a longshoreman's hat, Bruce Willis fronted a band of bluesmen at B.B. King's Tuesday night. According to PageSix.com, Willis, 46, sang his heart out for 2 ½ hours and covered hits such as "Kokomo Blues" and "Who Do You Love."
NBC has ordered up a full season (22 hour-long episodes) of Fear Factor, Variety reports. The reality show, hosted by Joe Rogan, proved a surprise summer success and drew big ratings on Monday nights. The network is airing a special Playboy Playmates episode of Fear Factor opposite Fox's Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3.
U2, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony are just some of the acts lined up for this year's Super Bowl. In fact, the lineup is so long it makes the football game look like a sideshow. The celebrity overflow is due in part to the events of Sept. 11 and the game's patriotic theme.
Michael Jackson, who in 1994 paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to resolve a child molestation case, thinks there should be a global holiday for children. The idea was one of the cornerstones of Jackson's Heal the Kids charity, which he launched in 2000, but it never gained momentum with U.S. lawmakers Reuters reports. The charity is now on hiatus.
U2 has backed down from its fight to save its Dublin recording studios from being demolished. While the Irish rockers had initially opposed the idea of the redevelopment of the Honover Quay site, the band said Thursday they would join in talks with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, the AP reports.
Alan Jackson, Creed and Linkin Park held on to the top three spots in the album sales chart, Variety reports. According to SoundScan figures, country crooner Jackson's Drive sold 23,000 units for the week that ended Sunday.
Former pro wrestler and current Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is providing input for the script and songs of a Broadway musical about his life, Reuters reports. The musical will explore Ventura's upbringing and his relationship with his wife Terry. No one has been cast in the role of Ventura yet.
Eddie Murphy's wife Nicole gave birth Tuesday to the couple's fifth child. Bella Zahra, who weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, was born at an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital. Both mother and child are doing fine, the couple's publicist said in a statement.
Andy Garcia and his wife Marivi Lorido Garcia welcomed their fourth child, a boy, at a Los Angeles area hospital on Monday. Andres Antonio Garcia joins three sisters and weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces at birth.