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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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun has been inundated with offers from the likes of Eminem, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks to mentor the teen superstar. The Baby hitmaker's ill-advised antics on tour and at home in California, which have included brushes with the law and headline-grabbing incidents, have prompted big names to offer up their help and advice.
Bieber's bad behaviour has included nightclub altercations, arguments with his neighbours, disappointing fans by rushing through meet and greet sessions and public urinating claims.
The incidents have prompted a slew of concerned celebrities to reach out to Braun to see if there is anything they can do to help the youngster avoid destroying his career, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In a candid new interview with Braun and Bieber, the singer's manager reveals he has fielded calls and emails from Winfrey, singer Adam Levine, rapper Drake and Mark Wahlberg, while Hanks' wife Rita Wilson offered up her husband's counselling skills to help the 19 year old avoid the pitfalls of fame.
And Braun claims Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg, told him, "If you ever want Eminem to talk to him (Bieber), he would do it in a second. He cares about that kid."
Braun has yet to take up the stars' offers to advise Bieber during times of trouble as there is already one big name who is trying to keep the teen in check - Will Smith.
Braun claims Smith, whose son Jaden is good friends with the singer, once paid Bieber a much-needed visit and pulled him out of bed for a three-hour chat.
The manager recalls, "He (Bieber) said, 'Man, that makes me feel so loved. I woke up, and there's Will Smith, one of, if not the, biggest movie stars on the planet. He took time out of his day for me.'"
Smith has continued to make himself available to Bieber for weekly phone conferences, but the Independence Day actor has warned Braun the youngster will have to live and learn from his own mistakes: "He's telling me: 'Justin's got to go through it. You can't stop him from going through it. That's youth in itself. He's a young man who's growing up, and that's what makes him interesting and relatable. Otherwise, he'd be some kind of weird robot.'"
During the interview, Bieber expressed his carefree attitude towards his critics, saying, "I don't give a f**k... I don't give a f**k what they say... I know who I am and what I'm doing in my life and what I've accomplished and continue to accomplish as a performer, as a writer, as an artist, as a person, as a human being. I'm happy with the man I'm becoming."
Adam Levine's ego took a hit almost immediately after he was named People magazine's 2013 Sexiest Man Alive, because his fiancee Behati Prinsloo found the new title hilarious. The Maroon 5 frontman was officially unveiled as the successor to Channing Tatum on Tuesday (19Nov13), but he admits not everyone was impressed with his latest honour.
He reveals he casually broke the news to Victoria's Secret lingerie model Prinsloo by asking her out on a date, saying, "Hey, how ya doing? Let's go to dinner tonight. And People magazine says I'm the Sexiest Man Alive.'"
But her response wasn't quite what he had expected: "(She reacted with) laughter, a lot of laughter. She's keeping me humble."
Levine admits he is determined not the let the high praise go to his head, and he knows his friends and family will be helping to keep his feet on the ground by constantly poking fun at him.
He says, "It's hard to talk about it because you feel like you owe it to be kind of self-deprecating about it because it is an iconic thing, but also silly. I'm not going to comment on anything other than it's really flattering and I feel lucky...
"It's going to hit me when I'm constantly the butt of every joke every friend and family member makes for the next 20 years of my life, but I'm ready to handle it all."
Others named on the annual 'hot list' include singers Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams and Luke Bryan, soccer star and model David Beckham, actors Idris Elba and Chris Pine and Jennifer Aniston's fiance, Justin Theroux.
"I did yoga a few years ago and fell in love immediately. I just abandoned weight lifting. On show days I'll do a little spinning and some yoga and go onstage. Every day it's two, three hours of working out. I love to be active. I just feel better when I'm burning, sweating or doing something." People magazine's 2013 Sexiest Man Alive Adam Levine credits yoga for his physique.
"If I had a kid tomorrow or in five years, that would be beautiful. I don't know when that will happen. I don't plan." People magazine's 2013 Sexiest Man Alive Adam Levine is keen to have children with his fiancee, Behati Prinsloo.
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine has been named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. The 34-year-old singer follows in the footsteps of 2012's honouree, Magic Mike star Channing Tatum, and fended off competition from fellow hunky celebrities including Justin Timberlake, David Beckham and Idris Elba.
Levine was officially handed the title during Tuesday's (19Nov13) live episode of U.S. talent show The Voice, on which he serves as a judge and mentor.
In an accompanying article in the magazine, he says, "As a musician, you have fantasies that you want to win Grammys, but I didn't really think that this was on the table. I was just amazed and stunned and it almost seemed like they were kidding, but they weren't, so that's cool."
Prior to the announcement, the sexy singer told Access Hollywood that if he picked up the prize, he will be constantly teased by his pals.
He said, "There is no way that I’ll ever be able to live it down. I'm going to be getting pranked by everyone, if it does happen. I'm going to be getting pranked by every single person I know!"
It's been a great 2013 Levine - he became engaged to model Behati Prinsloo in June (13), shot his first feature film and even launched his own men's clothing line at American department store Kmart.
Also making the annual 'hot list' are singers Luke Bryan, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, actors Chris Pine and Justin Theroux, U.S. talk show host Jimmy Fallon, and Mia Farrow's political journalist son, Ronan Farrow.
"I don’t want to get my hopes up. That’ll get me too excited about it and it won’t happen, and I’ll be depressed." Rocker Adam Levine as he waits to be crowned People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive on Wednesday, according to reports.
"Keep it sexy. Don't fart in front of your girl, don't s**t in front of your girl, ever. I go to a different f**king house to go to the bathroom." Adam Levine insists his supermodel fiancee Behati Prinsloo will never see him on the toilet.