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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Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross married stockbroker Tom Mahoney on Saturday in San Gabriel, California.
The wedding took place at the Church of Our Savior Episcopal Parish late on Saturday afternoon.
The 44-year-old bride wore a dress by Reem Acra and carried a bouquet of white peonies and white roses.
Cross' sister, Ellen, played guitar and sang “Only Love Remains,” while Marcia walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, Mark Cross.
Marcia's other sister, Susan Hett, served as the maid of honor, nephew Jared Hett was the ring bearer and Mahoney's pal Ed McClaren acted as best man.
Cross also had seven flower girls, ranging in age from three to 12--the children of some of her closest friends.
Among the 220 guests at the wedding included Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy.
The reception was held in two ballrooms at The Ritz Carlton hotel in Pasadena, California.
Cocktails were served in an all-white ballroom converted into a lounge with white curtains covering the walls and white couches.
Dinner was served in the second ballroom decorated in bright colors.
The newlyweds spent their wedding night in The Ritz Carlton's two-story Tournament of Roses suite. It is the first marriage for both.
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The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said he did not realize the comments he made in The New Yorker magazine about the news coverage of the Bush administration would create such a flap. Referring to the special The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing, which aired on NBC Jan. 23, Sorkin said that the media were waving pompoms instead of providing objective news coverage and that anchorman Tom Brokaw let it happen. "There should be a difference between what NBC news does and what we do," he told the Associated Press. "And that night, there wasn't, except we have more interesting lighting." Sorkin later apologized to Brokaw at the request of NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker.
Anne Heche gave birth to a baby boy over the weekend. Homer Heche Laffoon weighed 7 pounds and is the first child for Heche and husband Coleman Laffoon. The two married in September last year and met while working on a documentary about Ellen DeGeneres' return to stand-up comedy, AP reports.
After shooting two back-to-back sequels for the 1999 sci-fi thriller The Matrix, Keanu Reeves will travel back in Hollywood time to work on a remake of the 1971 cult classic Billy Jack, Variety reports. Reeves will star as Billy Jack, a Vietnam veteran who's half Native American. Tom Laughlin, who wrote, directed and starred in the original film, controls the film rights and is in talks with Danny DeVito's Jersey Films to remake the retro hit.
Elizabeth Taylor will play the role of Elton John's wife in his new video "Original Sin," the BBC reports. His daughter will be played by teen singer/actress Mandy Moore. John, who normally hates appearing in videos, recently called on Justin Timberlake to take the lead in "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" so he wouldn't have to. John makes an exception for this next single, which is slated for release April 1.
Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham escaped injury in a six-car pile-up on Sunday near Stafford, England, the BBC reports. Beckham and her three-year-old son, Brooklyn, were in a minivan being driven by her father, Tony Adams, when he managed to swerve the vehicle away from the full force of the crash. None of them were injured. Beckham is expecting her second child with soccer star David Beckham in September.
Nightline host Ted Koppel said he hopes to stay with ABC but criticized the network for questioning the relevance of his show, AP reports. ABC has apparently had discussions with David Letterman about taking over Koppel's 11:35 p.m. time slot. Nightline ratings have been shrinking in the past few years while Letterman has been a longtime No. 2 behind NBC's Jay Leno.
The Fox network is set to revive four sci-fi TV series, airing reruns and creating new TV and film versions of Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants. The deal also covers any potential feature films, as well as merchandising and licensing.
Mary McCormack, who recently appeared in K-PAX with Kevin Spacey, will star in the CBS comedy pilot Julie Lydecker, which centers on a mother/daughter relationship. According to The Hollywood Reporter, McCormack will also be seen in the upcoming drama Full Frontal alongside Julia Roberts.
Yoko Ono, the widow of former Beatle John Lennon, has paid an estimated $213,300 to have the words "Imagine all the people living in peace" emblazoned on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus in London, Reuters reports. Ono, who already has the billboard up in Times Square and in Tokyo, thought people needed to be reminded of this message after the horrible events of Sept. 11.
After a three-year hiatus, former supermodel Cindy Crawford returned to the catwalk for designer Roberto Cavalli's autumn/winter fashion show. Although she enjoyed the return, the model-turned-mother of two told Reuters she would not do it for a whole season. "At home, I wear jeans and a T-shirt, so it doesn't matter if I get mucky...but then I put on a Cavalli top or trousers and feel like a sexy mum rather than a frumpy housewife."
Comic Kevin Meaney was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday for grabbing the butt of a gun held by a National Guardsman, Reuters reports. An airport police spokesman said Meaney got belligerent after his wife was subjected to a secondary security screening and had to lift up her blouse and show her bra to the screeners. Meaney, 45, was booked into the San Mateo County Jail on a felony charge of attempting to take a firearm from a police officer and two misdemeanor charges of battery and disturbing the peace.
Julia Child is recuperating from a bout with bronchitis that landed her in the hospital during the weekend. Child, 89, had to cancel an appearance at a rare-wine auction Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Bay Area after she had trouble breathing. She checked into a San Francisco hospital Saturday afternoon and was released Sunday, AP reports.
Edward Norton, Brett Ratner, James Whitmore and Anthony Hopkins will be some of the stars attending the 7th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival in West Palm Beach, Fla. The festival will take place April 11 through 18 and will feature more than 40 films, including American independent and Spanish-language films and entries from France, Israel, Ukraine and Italy.
Songwriter Harlan Howard died Sunday at the age of 74. Responsible for more than 100 Top 10 hits, including Ray Charles' "Busted" and Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," Howard was known as the dean of Nashville songwriters. His death came after years of ill health. A memorial service for him will be held in Nashville on March 19.