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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One Direction upset several hotel guests by throwing an all-night party during their tour stop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The boyband let off steam during a stay in the city during a series of gigs in South America, but their wild rooftop party at the Fasano Hotel upset several hotel guests, who complained about noise levels and even called police.
Sofia Alves de Silva and Andre Duarte, residents at the hotel, tell Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper they grew angry when the party was still going strong at 4am so they complained to hotel staff and called the police to shut it down.
Duarte says, "I'm so angry. The noise has kept us awake all night. We can't sleep. This is absolutely ridiculous. We came down downstairs in our pyjamas to ask the hotel to stop the party."
The music was turned off half an hour later.
One Direction performed in the city on Thursday (08May14) and the Where We Are tour is due to continue in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Saturday (10May14).
Top Story: "Capturing the Friedmans'" Victims Send Letter to Academy
Two men whom Jesse Friedman pleaded guilty to sexually abusing as boys have written an open letter to Academy Awards voters speaking out against the Oscar-nominated documentary, Capturing the Friedmans, The Associated Press reports. The film, which won the documentary grand prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and was named best nonfiction film by the New York Film Critics Circle, looks into the life of the Friedman family whose world is transformed when the father, Arnold, and his youngest son, Jesse, are arrested and charged with molesting dozens of children during computer classes in their Long Island home. "If this film does win an Oscar, it will be won at the expense of silencing the plaintive voices of abused children once again, just as our own voices were silenced 16 years ago by the threats and intimidation of our tormentors, Arnold and Jesse Friedman," the victims, now in their 20s, wrote. But director Andrew Jarecki defended the film, saying it was a balanced piece. "The film doesn't exclude that perspective in the slightest," he said Tuesday. "I didn't set out to make an advocacy film for the Friedmans, and I didn't make one." But 34-year-old Jesse Friedman, who was 19 when he pleaded guilty to the sex abuse charges in 1988, is seeking a new trial to overturn his conviction based on information revealed in the documentary.
First Lady Wants To Catch Passion
First lady Laura Bush, who was in Bentonville, Ark., visiting a high school, said Tuesday she would like to see The Passion of the Christ, which opens Feb. 25, Reuters reports. "I think it sounds very interesting and I'd like to see it," the first lady said after being asked by reporters if she planned to see the film. Directed by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ depicts the last 12 hours in Christ's life. Jewish leaders have condemned the film, calling it anti-Semitic propaganda that threatens Judeo-Christian harmony, while evangelists say it is the most effective tool for spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ in more than 2,000 years.
Lohan Wants Truce With Duff
Forget about the Kelly Osbourne-Christina Aguilera feud--that's so yesterday--the newest Hollywood warfare is between Freaky Friday's Lindsay Lohan and Cheaper by the Dozen star Hilary Duff, as reports would have it. But according to Lohan, reports that Duff asked her to leave the premiere of Cheaper by the Dozen after a spat have been greatly exaggerated. "I mean, she's doing great. I'm a fan of hers. My sister loves her," the 17-year-old Lohan told Diane Sawyer Tuesday on ABC's Good Morning America. "I just wanted to let her know I have no problems and neither should she. We were friends." Lohan described the fight with Duff, 16, as "a high school thing."
Conan O'Brien "Apologizes" to Quebecers
Late Night host Conan O'Brien issued a tongue-in-cheek apology Tuesday over a segment on his show in which Triumph the Insult Comic Dog insulted the population of the French-Canadian province of Quebec. "People of Quebec, I'm sorry," O'Brien said, as a translator recited in French, with English subtitles, "People of Quebec, I'm an albino jackass." O'Brien continued, "We meant no harm with our comedy piece the other night … I was a stranger in a strange land and I was very insensitive," he continued, with the subtitle: "The other night, I wet the bed like a little girl ... I have a small penis." The controversial jokes were made while O'Brien's taped a series of shows in and around Toronto to help boost that city's profile in the wake of last year's SARS outbreak.
Guns N' Roses Could Block Greatest Hits Release
Sources tell Billboard.com that Guns N' Roses' did not give consent for Geffen Records to release a new greatest hits compilation on March 23 and may pursue legal action to block its release. The album, which consists of 14 hit singles including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child O' Mine," "Patience," "Paradise City" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" from the Interview With the Vampire soundtrack. Guns N' Roses, whose only original member left is Axl Rose, returns to the live stage May 30 at the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in Lisbon, Portugal--the group's first live appearance since a disastrous 2002 comeback tour, which was canceled with 13 dates remaining because of an unspecified illness.
Marilyn Manson Settles Civil Suit
Marilyn Manson has learned that gyrating his crotch on someone else's head is not a good idea. Security guard Joshua Keasler, who sued Manson in U.S. District Court in Detroit for sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, claimed the shock rocker wrapped his legs around his neck and gyrated against him while wearing only a leather thong and pantyhose during a July 2001 performance in Detroit. The AP reports the suit was dismissed after Manson and Keasler reached a settlement, but both sides agreed not to release terms of the settlement. Manson pleaded no contest in 2002 to disorderly conduct and assault and battery in the same incident. At the time, Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and costs.
Don't Shake Your Polaroid Pics, Company Warns
Contrary to Andre 3000's instructions to "shake it like a Polaroid picture," the instant camera maker does not want consumers to jiggle their snapshots. In the "answers" section on the Polaroid Web site, the company says that shaking photos, which once helped them to dry, is not necessary since the current version of Polaroid film dries behind a clear plastic window, Reuters reports. The image "never touches air, so shaking or waving has no effect," the company explains on its Web site. "In fact, shaking or waving can actually damage the image. Rapid movement during development can cause portions of the film to separate prematurely, or can cause 'blobs' in the picture." Outkast's hit single "Hey Ya," which includes the "shake it" line as a reference to the motion that users do to help along the self-developing film.