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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Gary David Goldberg, creator of classic TV series Family Ties, has died at the age of 68. The TV boss passed away at his home in California on Sunday (23Jun13) after a battle with brain cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He helped launch Michael J. Fox's career in the 1980s with Family Ties, which won Goldberg an Emmy Award for outstanding writing in 1987.
The sitcom, which ran from 1982 to 1989, starred Fox as the young Republican son of two liberal ex-hippies, a concept Goldberg once admitted was inspired by his own relationship with his daughter Shana.
Goldberg went on to co-create Spin City, which also featured Fox, and he picked up a second Emmy in 1979 for his TV drama Lou Grant.
During his career, Goldberg wrote episodes of M*A*S*H and The Bob Newhart Show, and he stepped behind the camera to direct Jack Lemmon in 1989 comedy movie Dad as well as John Cusack in 2005 romantic comedy Must Love Dogs.
He is survived by his daughter Shana Goldberg-Meehan, a TV writer who was an executive producer on hit sitcom Friends and its spinoff Joey.
When asked why he chose the path of boxing, Rocky Balboa offered a simple, though rather elegant, explanation: "Because I can't sing or dance." Now imagine if he could, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what's in store: a Rocky musical, the latest film adaptation to be mounted for Broadway. The Hollywood Reporter shares that a team of Alex Timbers (director), Thomas Meehan (writer), Stephen Flaherty (composer), and Lynn Ahrens (lyricist) will be transforming Sylvester Stallone's Oscar winning picture into a song-laden stage production; Stallone himself weighed in on the forthcoming project:
"I couldn’t be more proud or more excited about this production and how my original story of Rocky Balboa has been brought to spectacular life onstage," Stallone told THR. "Alex Timbers and the entire creative team ... have made [the character's] story as exciting, heart-breaking, and inspiring as it was when Rocky first went the distance onscreen."
It was 1976 when Stallone brought his now iconic character to Hollywood for the first of six (so far) times. The Best Picture victor, among the most beloved of sports films, is so full of memorable lines, scenes, and emotional instances, that it'll be quite the endeavor to turn the lot of them into musical numbers. So which Rocky's thick-tongued slurs, Adrian's squawking admonitions, Paulie's crass cackles, or Mickey's endearing insults will earn their own showstoppers? Here's one example already:
"The Italian Stallion"An upbeat overture, introducing the audience to its lovable hero: Rocky Balboa.
"Be a Thinker, Not a Stinker"Apollo Creed's Gilbert & Sullivan style romp about the merits in education trumping the glory in athletic stardom.
"Eat Lightning, Crap Thunder"The first powerhouse number of the play: a fired up Mickey puts Rocky through the wringer with this operatic call to arms.
"Ya Don't Have to Kiss Me Back"To follow, a softer entry: Rocky professing his affection for leading lady Adrian, offering the chance to refuse his courtship in this duet.
"Eat the Bird"Perhaps the emotional crux of the film, Paulie's vigilant ballad, directed toward his sister Adrian in a moment so wrathful, it'll warrant a therapeutic intermission immediately afterward.
"I Ain't No Bum"The tenderness hits a peak when Rocky channels all of the pain he has felt over his modest intellect and poor choices, declaring to the audience that he has more to him than everyone thinks.
"A Damn Monster Movie"At last, the real showstopper! The showdown between Rocky and Apollo Creed, an orchestrated song pitting the two against one another in the ring. Whole lotta dancin'.
"A Couple of Coconuts"Finally, following the big match, we reunite Rocky with Adrian, allowing him the happy ending of his true love's embrace.
Fill in the gaps with your own suggestions!
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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James Marsden of X-Men and Straw Dogs fame will be making an undoubtedly awesome guest appearance on the wonder that is 30 Rock. Tina Fey's series may be a bit past its prime days, but it is still one of the funniest things on TV, and still not without hard-hitting episodes. Marsden is on board for a six-episode arc during 30 Rock's upcoming sixth season. Such a lengthy stay for a guest star indicates that his character will be pretty significant. Perhaps he'll play a love interest (ill-fated, of course) for Liz Lemon? A potential replacement for Jack Donaghy as he begins to focus his time more on raising his daughter? Or someone from Kenneth's mysterious past. Any of these would be fine. 30 Rock will return to NBC as a mid-season replacement in 2012. -THR
New Girl has a very interesting philosophy to wrangle in viewers—get awesome people to be in it. It's kind of unorthodox, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Joining the must-be-hiding-a-dark-secret-because-NO-one-can-be-that-likeable star Zooey Deschanel is Party Down's super-snarker Lizzy Caplan. The mighty Caplan will enjoy a three-episode arc on New Girl as a cool, intelligent academic who wins the affections of Nick (Jake Johnson). New Girl airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine
ABC's sinfully underappreciated six-friends-with-nothing-to-do comedy Happy Endings will be roping in a guest actress to play an ex-girlfriend to one of the central characters. It's not Brad, not Dave, not even Jane (who made mention of an extensive "experimental phase in college" last week). It's actually Max (Adam Pally), who fans of the series know is gay. We've gotten enough glimpses into Max's past to know that he didn't completely come to terms with his sexuality until some time in or shortly after college, so it makes sense that his high school days might have involved a girlfriend or two. Playing Max's ex will be Riki Lindhome (Gilmore Girls, Million Dollar Baby). Happy Endings airs Wednesday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -Vulture
Better With You was a romantic comedy series on ABC that ran for one season, terminating in May of 2011. The series starred JoAnna Garcia, and was created by Shana Goldberg-Meehan. ABC is in talks with the duo for another project: a series (again, starring Garcia and created by Goldberg-Meehan) about a newly married woman who moves in with her husband and his family. The network has agreed to produce the pilot, which, like Better With You, will be a multiple camera-style sitcom. JoAnna Garcia has had a pretty hefty sum of success in television acting: she might be best remembered for her roles on Reba and Party of Five, but two of her most awesome exploits were with Freaks and Geeks and Are You Afraid of the Dark? Goldberg-Meehan worked as a writer and producer for Friends and its spinoff Joey. -Deadline
The Producers Guild of America will give out awards tonight, with the teams behind A Beautiful Mind, Moulin Rouge and Shrek among those in contention for its top honor. The producers of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring are also in the running for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award.
The honor is similar to the motion picture academy's best picture prize, and the winner is considered a near shoo-in for Oscar gold. The 1,500-member Producers Guild has correctly predicted the best picture Oscar winner 10 out
of the last 13 years.
A Beautiful Mind, Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge are
nominated for both the PGA award and best picture Oscar. But the guild opted for box office hits Shrek and Harry Potter for its other two slots,
while the Academy chose the indie critic faves In the Bedroom and Gosford Park.
The Producers Guild will also hand out awards in three television categories, with such shows as The West Wing and The Sopranos among those in the running.
The teams behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and The West Wing are nominated for the Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in episodic television-drama.
Contenders for the Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in episodic television-comedy are Frasier, Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Sex and the City and Will & Grace.
The nominated producers of Frasier include the late David Angell, who was aboard one of the hijacked planes that crashed on Sept. 11.
Among the David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in longform television nominees are some well-known names--Billy Crystal for HBO's 61*, and Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO's Band of Brothers.
Husband-and-wife actors Bradley Whitford of The West Wing and Jane Kaczmarek of Malcolm in the Middle will host the guild's 13th annual ceremony at the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa.
Formed in 1950, the Producers Guild has about 500 active members and 1,000 affiliated members.
Here is the full list of nominees:
Darryl F. Zanuck Theatrical Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award in Motion Pictures
A Beautiful Mind, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, David Heyman
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
Moulin Rouge, Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann and Fred Baron
Shrek, Aron Warner, John H. William and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Norman Felton Producer of the Year in Episodic Television-Drama
CSI Crime Scene Investigation, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ann M. Donahue, Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony Zuiker, Jonathan Littman, Sam Strangis, Danny
Cannon, Cynthia Chvatal and William Petersen
Law & Order, Dick Wolf, Barry Schindel, Jeffrey L. Hayes, Lewis H. Gould and Kati Johnston
Six Feet Under, Alan Ball, Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari and Alan Poul
The Sopranos, David Chase, Brad Grey, Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green, Ilene S. Landress and Terence Winter
The West Wing, John Wells, Aaron Sorkin, Thomas Schlamme, Llewellyn Wells, Christopher Misiano, Alex Graves and Michael Hissrich
Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television-Comedy
Frasier, David Angell, Peter Casey, Kelsey Grammer, David Lee, Dan O'Shannon, Mark Reisman and Maggie Blanc
Friends, Kevin S Bright, Marta Kauffman, David Crane, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Scott Silveri, Andrew Reich, Ted Cohen and Todd Stevens
Malcolm in the Middle, Linwood Boomer and James S. Simons
Sex and the City, Michael Patrick King, Cindy Chupack, John P. Melfi and Sarah Jessica Parker
Will & Grace, James Burrows, Jeff Greenstein, Max Mutchnick, David Kohan and Tim Kaiser
David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Longform Television
61*, Billy Crystal and Ross Greenburg
Anne Frank, Hans Proppe and David R. Kappes
Band of Brothers, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Tony To
Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Robert Allan Ackerman and Lorna Luft
Wit, Cary Brokaw