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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Hit mob series The Sopranos and TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee lead the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award nominations with 15 and 17 nods, respectively.
The Sopranos is nominated for Best Drama, while the show's star James Gandolfini has been praised in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his role as mafia boss Tony Soprano. Costar Edie Falco, who portrayed Carmela Soprano, is up for the Outstanding Lead Actress award, while Michael Imperioli, Aida Turturro and Lorraine Bracco have also received nods for their supporting roles.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee scooped nominations including Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for stars August Schellenberg (who plays Sitting Bull) and Aidan Quinn (Senator Dawes), while Anna Paquin (Elaine Goodale) is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Meanwhile, actress Mary-Louise Parker scored two nominations for two different roles--Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (The Robber Bride) and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Weeds).
But the Primetime Emmy nominations--announced on Thursday--had a big shock in store for fans of Desperate Housewives, Lost and Kiefer Sutherland's 24--all three programs missed out on the Best Drama category. Instead, The Sopranos will battle it out against Heroes, Boston Legal and medical dramas House and Grey's Anatomy.
Elsewhere, hit comedy Ugly Betty was nominated in 11 categories, including Best Comedy Actress for star America Ferrera and Outstanding Comedy Series, where it will compete against Entourage, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men and The Office.
The 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sept. 16.
The main category nominations are as follows:
Outstanding Comedy Series:
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty Outstanding Drama Series:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Extras - Ricky Gervais
Monk - Tony Shalhoub
The Office - Steve Carell
30 Rock - Alec Baldwin
Two and a Half Men - Charlie Sheen
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Boston Legal - James Spader
House - Hugh Laurie
Rescue Me - Denis Leary
The Sopranos - James Gandolfini
24 - Kiefer Sutherland
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Desperate Housewives - Felicity Huffman
The New Adventures of Old Christine - Julia Louis-Dreyfus
30 Rock - Tina Fey
Ugly Betty - America Ferrera
Weeds - Mary-Louise Parker
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Sally Field
The Closer - Kyra Sedgwick
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Mariska Hargitay
Medium - Patricia Arquette
The Riches - Minnie Driver
The Sopranos - Edie Falco
Outstanding Reality Program:
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Robert Duvall
Jesse Stone - Tom Selleck
Longford - Jim Broadbent
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King - William H. Macy
The Ron Clark Story - Matthew Perry
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Life Support - Queen Latifah
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre) - Helen Mirren
The Robber Bride - Mary-Louise Parker
The Starter Wife - Debra Messing
What If God Were the Sun - Gena Rowlands
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Entourage - Kevin Dillon
Entourage - Jeremy Piven
How I Met Your Mother - Neil Patrick Harris
The Office - Rainn Wilson
Two and a Half Men - Jon Cryer
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Boston Legal - William Shatner
Grey's Anatomy - T.R. Knight
Heroes - Masi Oka
Lost - Michael Emerson
Lost - Terry O'Quinn
The Sopranos - Michael Imperioli
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Thomas Haden Church
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - August Schellenberg
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Aidan Quinn
The Christmas Card - Edward Asner
The Starter Wife - Joe Mantegna
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
My Name Is Earl - Jaime Pressly
The Office - Jenna Fischer
Two and a Half Men - Holland Taylor
Two and a Half Men - Conchata Ferrell
Ugly Betty - Vanessa Williams
Weeds - Elizabeth Perkins
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Brothers & Sisters - Rachel Griffiths
Grey's Anatomy - Katherine Heigl
Grey's Anatomy - Chandra Wilson
Grey's Anatomy - Sandra Oh
The Sopranos - Aida Turturro
The Sopranos - Lorraine Bracco
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Broken Trail - Greta Scacchi
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Anna Paquin
Longford - Samantha Morton
The Starter Wife - Judy Davis
Tsunami, the Aftermath - Toni Collette
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program:
79th Annual Academy Awards - Ellen DeGeneres
The Colbert Report - Stephen Colbert
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman - David Letterman
Tony Bennett: An American Classic - Tony Bennett
Prime Suspect: The Final Act
The Starter Wife
Outstanding Made for Television Movie:
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Inside the Twin Towers
The Ron Clark Story
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy
Outstanding Children's Program:
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Private Worlds: Kids and Autism
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
That's So Raven
When Parents Are Deployed
Click here to view the complete list of nominations.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.