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
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
The 57-year-old Ghost and Dirty Dancing star passed away in Los Angeles on Monday (14Sep09), confirms his publicist, Annett Wolf.
She says, "Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months."
Swayze went public with his pancreatic cancer battle in early 2008 and underwent regular bouts of chemotherapy as he repeatedly denied tabloid reports he was close to death after learning the cancer had spread to his liver.
In May 2008, Swayze slammed the media for spreading the false information, stating, "Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease and from the moment I was diagnosed, I knew I was in for the fight of my life. It's a battle, and so far, I've been winning. I'm one of the lucky few that responds well to treatment.
"It's upsetting that the shoddy and reckless reporting from these publications cast a negative shadow on the positive and good fight I'm fighting. For me, my family, and those close to me, it amounts to downright emotional cruelty. That makes me angry when hope is so precious."
He was dealt a setback in January (09) when he contracted pneumonia, and new claims of Swayze's deteriorating health surfaced again in May (09), when the National Enquirer alleged the actor had stopped chemotherapy after suffering a lung infection.
The publication reported the star went against doctors' advice to undergo life-saving surgery to remove part of the infected lung, refusing the risky procedure in favour of living out his final days pain-free.
Born in Houston, Texas, Swayze moved to New York to train as a professional ballet dancer before taking the lead role of Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of hit musical Grease.
He had bit parts on TV in shows like M*A*S*H and then broke into movies with a leading role in Francis Ford Coppola's cult hit The Outsiders in 1983.
But it was Swazye's role as dance instructor Johnny Castle in 1987's Dirty Dancing that catapulted him into the Hollywood A-list.
He also established himself as a recording artist, performing the song he co-wrote for the movie's soundtrack, She's Like The Wind, which earned him a top 10 hit in the U.S.
He matched his Dirty Dancing success three years later in Ghost, opposite Demi Moore, and also found big screen acclaim in cult movies Point Break and Road House.
In 1991, he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive - and tested his hunk status in 1995 by playing a drag queen on a road trip in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, which earned him his third Golden Globe nomination.
The new century brought him small parts in films like Donny Darko and he wrapped up his career with a lead role in TV cop drama The Beast, which he concluded as be battled cancer.
One of his most moving appearances came during the Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser a year ago (Sep08), when he made an emotional appeal for donations to further cancer research, saying: "I dream that the word 'cure' will no longer be followed by the words 'it's impossible.' Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse."
The actor is survived by his high school sweetheart, Lisa Niemi, who he wed in 1975.
Mariah Carey's lawyer said recording companies have already shown interest in the pop diva since speculation of her breakup with EMI surfaced several weeks ago. But while label executives agree Carey is still marketable, most admit they would not pay the terms she received at EMI.
Music lawyer Kenneth Freundlich told Reuters that Carey would do well to sit on the sidelines: "She's been through all the turns, has a lot of money and a tremendous fan base. She could just tap into that. That fan base is what's going to sustain her. The fans will excuse the bad movies and the breakdown, but the corporations won't."
While Mariah Carey was being bought out by EMI to the tune of $28 million, several stars, lead by rocker Courtney Love, lobbied legislators to free artists from what they claim is unfair record company control. The action has the backing of Democratic state senator Kevin Murray, who has introduced a bill to overturn a 1987 exemption that allows record companies to sue musicians and singers for albums not produced over the course of seven-year contracts.
Al Pacino will make a cameo appearance in the caper picture Gilgli, Variety reports. The movie is set for release in 2003 and stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Sylvester Stallone told Britain's Mirror newspaper that he would like to revive Rocky and Rambo, but it was unlikely the pictures would get made. Stallone said he approached Hollywood studios about having Rambo go into Afghanistan and rescue five girls, and about Rocky VI. "I would love to have one more shot at getting that right, even if people say I am a little old for it, " he told the tabloid. "I know I'd have fun trying."
T-shirts with the slogan "Free Winona" are popping up in many of Los Angeles' trendiest spots, Reuters reports. They refer to Winona Ryder's arrest on suspicion of shoplifting from a Beverly Hills store in December. The T-shirts, created by L.A. gift shop owner Billy Tsangares, are printed with jail-issue style block letters and don't actually feature Ryder but a picture from a wig ad. The actress is due in court again on February 11.
Director Frank Oz has been voted the Art Directors Guild's award for Contribution to Cinematic Imagery, Variety reports. Oz voiced the Yoda character from Star Wars and directed Bowfinger and The Score. The award will be presented at the Guild's Feb. 23 awards ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Katie Couric, who recently signed a new $65 million deal with NBC, is apparently having trouble getting into the Burbank studio without her ID. According to PageSix.com, Couric forgot her NBC credentials while covering the Golden Globes and was not allowed entry until someone came to vouch for her.
Donny and Marie Osmond will be among those carrying the Olympic torch on the final stage of its relay to Salt Lake City for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, Reuters reports. Officials have not yet disclosed the identity of the person who will carry the torch into the stadium on Feb. 8.
Telepictures Productions announced that the eight key ABC affiliates currently carrying The Rosie O'Donnell Show have approved Caroline Rhea as Rosie O'Donnell's replacement. According to Reuters, the Canadian-born Rhea will take over the show at the end of this session.
Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, who was named entertainment president at UPN Wednesday, said her first order of business would be to unify the network's programming. UPN currently runs urban-themed comedies on Monday, sci-fi on Wednesday and wrestling on Thursdays. According to Variety, Tarnofsky-Ostroff wants to turn the all-over-the-map programming into a more consistent image to broaden viewership.
Celebrities with bad habits will now have more variety when it comes to rehab clinics. Mision Korian, a privately funded $2 million walled compound, is now open for business in Durango, Mexico. The drug and alcohol treatment center will eventually house 42 patients and will charge a maximum of $3,000 for five weeks of treatment, but fees for locals will be as low as $100, the Associated Press reports. The center's spokesperson said he plans to market the clinic to Hollywood studios, agents and Beverly Hills doctors.
Gammy-nominated singer Tamia and Orlando Magic star Grant Hill are parents of baby girl. Myla Grace Hill was born at 9:22 a.m. Wednesday, and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. This is the couple's first child.
The Spice Girls lost their legal battle over a sponsorship deal with Italian scooter firm Aprilla, Sky News reports. Posh, Scary, Baby and Sporty sued the company for withholding some of its sponsorship money for their 1998 Spiceworld Tour. Aprilla claimed they were left with many unsold "Spice Sonic" scooters after Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell quit the band at the end of the European leg of the tour. A judge sided with the scooter company and ordered the Spice Girls to pay a hefty 1 million pounds in fines and fees.
With sales nearing a half-million, country crooner Alan Jackson's album Drive has removed Creed's from their eight-week stay at the top of the pop album charts, Variety reports. Sales were powered by Jackson's hit single "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." Creed's Weathered slipped just one notch, to no. 2.