The World Isn’t Ending, its just Godzilla


I saw Godzilla 1 1/2 times this weekend. What? How did I pull that one off? Well, see, I went to see it on Friday night, so excited. I was really into the movie. Loving it, and an hour and half in. Boom, fire alarm. Building evacuation. So, while my brain was pumped full of adrenaline from watching a giant lizard monster ravage Honolulu, I’m being evacuated into the rain. I was not happy. And I was, frankly, terrified.

Turns out the mall was fine and I got to go back and watch the whole movie Sunday afternoon (or at any time of my choosing.) And I got to watch the whole movie.

The second time I watched the first half? All I could think was, “God, Legendary Pictures makes damn good flicks!” That’s what they are, by the way, these things that Legendary makes. Not movies. Not films. They make flicks. Old fashioned, sit on the edge of your seat, eat popcorn, and feel primal feelings and enjoy simple stories flicks.

Godzilla is right up there with some of their best. Oh it doesn’t challenge you like Inception, but it’ll redefine genre (hopefully) the way that The Dark Knight Knight did.

It probably won’t surprise you that I spend a lot of time thinking about The Bomb. Or maybe it will. I don’t know. But I think about it a lot. It’s a weird thing for Americans, the weighing of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and like many of the things in our history that we’re not super sure about, we tend to bury it, forget about it and keep on moving.

That’s not what the Japanese did. The Bomb shaped their entire post war culture in a very big way. And nine years after The Bombs were dropped, we got Godzilla. A monster, a natural force so destructive, so impossible that there was no way to deal with it. Only get out of the way.

Sixty years later, we have this. Godzilla is one of those movies that gets me really excited, because it decided to simply be what it wants to be. A simple story about how people deal with an uncontrolable giant lizard monster that’s going to eat San Francisco. The movie gets it’s heart from two sources, the Brody family, (To name your protagonist in your monster film “Brody” is so insanely gutsy, the movie automatically gains points with me.) and Godzilla Scientist Dr. Ichiro Serizawa. (That this is a universe where a man’s resume can read “Godzilla Scientist” is a worthwhile detail.) The Brodys, represented by father Joe (Bryan Cranston, doing what he does best, delivering electrifying speeches and wearing a gas mask) and son Ford (the truly adorable, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) had their world rocked when a MUTA (Mothra, by any other name) cocooned in the nuclear power plant where Joe was cheif engineer. Ford’s mother (Named Sandra, and played by the ever flawless Juliette Binoche) died during the event and Joe spent the next fifteen years trying to prove that there was something going on that day. Ford, meanwhile moved forward. (America…) He joined the Navy, disarmed bombs, married a nurse named Elle and they had a son. Ford is drawn back into his father’s work and then crosses paths with Serizawa (Ken Wattanabe, who is, thankfully, the first person to utter the name, “Godzilla.”) on his quest to get back to his family in the wake of the disaster.

Following Ford is worthwhile enough, although I think I would have preferred Serizawa as the main protagonist. And not just because there’s pretty much no one who plays the kind of high camp that Godzilla needs to the level of Wattanabe. And frankly, the idea of this man, who spent his entire life hoping to catch a glimpse of the monster and then when he does it’s even more terrible and beautiful than he could have imagined? That’s a far more interesting story. But the one we get is still pretty great. Godzilla and The MUTAs are stunningly rendered bits of CGI glory and the actors and script service their battles in the best possible ways. (I’m trying really hard not to spoil because the element of surprise is key in this sort of thing.) It’s an affecting film, and does it’s job well. It also made more money than even I would have thought this weekend. So my guess, knowing Legendary, some time, carefully in the next few months, probably at Comic Con, there will be an announcement of Godzilla 2, and discussion of sequelizing Pacific Rim. (Also I’d bet my hat that Chris Hardwick gets to make the announcement…)

So, rankings? I don’t think that this’ll come as a surprise to anyone but here we go.

  1. Godzilla
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Now, trailers!

How To Train Your Dragon 2: I really, badly can’t wait to see this movie. It looks so stinking adorable. I love Hiccup. I love Toothless, I love their world. I also love that they’ve aged Hiccup appropriately, rather than simply picking up where the last movie left off. I think it’ll be good. I enojyed both Despicable Me 2 and Shrek 2, so I don’t see why this outing will be different. Except it has Jay Baruchel who I have a big ol’ crush on.

Transformers: Age of Extinction: God, it looks really dumb, but in a super good way. I love that we’re supposed to buy that Wahlberg is from Texas. It’s adorable. And the line “I think we found a transformer!” God, it’s so dumb. But so good!

Jupiter Ascending: Holy shit y’all! The Wachowskis are nuts and it looks like for the first time since The Matrix, they’re putting that nuttiness to the kind of good work they should. Do I want to watch Mila Kunis as an interstellar Queen fighting for her birthright? This will probably be my new favorite movie. Or it will be a complete disaster and I’ll be really sad. Either way, I think I’m going to feel strongly about it.

Edge of Tomorrow: Everytime I see this trailer or any TV spots for this movie I think, “How badly did John Barrowman hope that Tom Cruise passed on this one?” It’s seriously about a guy who dies over and over again to save the world? I’m just saying…

Maleficent: OK, we get it, “Once Upon A Dream” can be creepy! But I do really want to see this. Like, really, really.

And finally

Insterstellar: Guys, I mean, guys, right? Totally. Right. This movie is going to be ten levels of awesome. Another great flick from Legendary.

Next week, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I figure I won’t even have to worry about salted popcorn, because I will be crying so much there will be more than enough salt for everyone.

DC Animated Movies: Batman: Year One

Year One

I said in my review of All Star Superman that it isn’t for beginners, and I maintain that sentiment. But the thing about Batman: Year One, is that it is for beginners. If you’re wary of comics and animated superheroes but really liked the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, Year One is where you should start.

The basic premise is that it chronicles Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon’s lives and experiences over Batman’s first year operating in Gotham City. At least, the comic is. The movie Batman: Year One shifts the focus almost entirely to Gordon. This isn’t a bad thing, and we still get some pretty cool Batman moments.

As Batman fights the mafia and street level crime, Gordon begins rooting out police corruption, cheats on his wife (who’s pregnant with their son James Jr. Who, well, gets his own storylines. *shudder*) Meanwhile, Batman’s path crosses with an emerging catburglar/ex hooker, Selina Kyle.

The Bruce/Selina stuff here is some of my favorite, because she’s trying to make a name for herself and can’t get out from under his shadow. It also has one of my favorite lines in any Batman story.

Alfred: Shall I get your tights sir?
Bruce: Never during the day Alfred!

Because the plot of Year One, is pretty straightforward, a lot hinges on the visuals and performances. Visually, we’ve got a anime inspired deal, and looks very cool, everything in shadows and shades of beige, with the occasional blue to accent things. It works. The action is well choreographed and smooth, and again plays with shades of light and dark. As for the performances, it’s hard to go wrong with Bryan Cranston as Gordon. Cranston’s so spectacularly talented. It took me a scene or two to unclench hearing his voice though, as I’ve been binging Breaking Bad pretty hard this week. There’s a sort of fun weirdness to Ben McKenzie as Bruce here, and only whetted my appetite for Gotham more. But McKenzie does a good job, he’s serious and gravelly. Eliza Dushku is Selina, and this is another one of those “coulda woulda shoulda,” in live action moments. She would have murdered that part. (In the good way.)

The DVD also includes a Showcase Short “Catwoman” in which Selina lifts a bunch of diamonds off some smugglers. It’s fun, action packed and sexually charged, which , I mean, yeah. I get the feeling if we ever get that Anne Hathaway Catwoman spin off movie it will feel a lot like this short.

Up next is Justice League: Doom, to which I can only say, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”

The Caped Crusader is Coming, and We Know How This Goes

So I know I promised not to harp too hard on Man of Steel 2, until more details actually come out, or we at least have a trailer. But I’ve decided that I’m going to give myself a pass once a month to blog about it.

That’s it, just once a month.

So, if another time in September I start writing about Ben Affleck, or how now Bryan Cranston probably isn’t Lex Luthor. (Ah, the internet, where one guys “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” becomes fact.!) you can all stop reading, or shame me, or whatever it is you do personally when I blogger breaks her promises?

We cool?

Anyway, as I sat reading Batman and Robin: Reborn this morning,(I’m completely addicted, by the way, to the times when Dick was Batman, the end of Knightfall, this Batman and Robin series, ugh, it’s all so good.)

I love how they're both smirking, all the time. I once said that "Sarcasm wasn't an effective crime fighting tool." I just hadn't seen it done right yet.

I love how they’re both smirking, all the time. I once said that “Sarcasm wasn’t an effective crime fighting tool.” I just hadn’t seen it done right yet.

and I realized the best part of them bringing Batman into the new larger DC Film Universe, (DCFU? It’s kind of a funny acronym.) through Man of Steel 2: Man of Steelier, is that we don’t have to do his origin story again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love origin stories. I think they’re the best part of superheroes, seeing why someone wants to put on tights and save people is fascinating. It’s one of the reasons that I will always, always, always defend Smallville.

But we don’t need to see another take on Batman’s origin story. We all know how it goes. Bruce Wayne is eight years old, he and his parents are walking down the street, they get pulled into an alley and mugged. The mugger shoots his parents. He never gets over it. He travels the world and learns how to fight a lot. He becomes Batman. Bad ass (Bat-ass?) crime fighting ensues.

Thanks to Christopher Nolan, most people even know about characters that were previously sidelined in Batman movies before, Lucius Fox, R’as Al Ghoul, Bane, Talia, Selina Kyle’s little buddy (who has many names, but she’s always there.) The Scarecrow. People know who theses folks are now.

So we don’t need to see eight year old Bruce Wayne walking down the street with his parents and them getting killed again. We really don’t. We’ve seen it in two Batman movies. Three if you count Mask of The Phantasm.


You should count Mask of The Phantasm , because it's amazing!

You should count Mask of The Phantasm , because it’s amazing!

So having Batman just show up in Superman’s movie, fully formed, without having to go into all of the tortured, weird fear of bats stuff is going to be great.

We get to skip to the good part.

Well, the other good part.

I mean, it’s Batman, so to me they’re pretty much all the good part.

OK, this is the bad part. But just this.

OK, this is the bad part. But just this.

May We Humbly Present Supervillains and CSD

This week we got two big villain announcements, that were of course hugely eclipsed by the fact that Miley Cyrus did something called twerking on The VMAs.

I watched it, and I still don’t quite know what it was, except that it was terrible.

Anyway, this week we found out that in The Avengers 2 James Spader will be playing Ultron, and Brian Cranston will probably be playing Lex Luthor in the sequel to Man of Steel, that lest, we all forget is actually supposed to be a Superman movie and not just about Holden McNeill playing Batman.

This is great, because they’re both terrific actors, but it’s also difficult, because of my CSD. (Character Separation Disorder, if you’re new. A pop culture disorder in which you are not able to separate an actor from a character that they once played.)

Now, since I don’t watch Breaking Bad, I still basically think of Cranston as Malcolm’s Dad.

Cook all the meth and win all the Emmys you like sir, the antics of your teenage sons will always come first.

Cook all the meth and win all the Emmys you like sir, the antics of your teenage sons will always come first.

God? Remember how AWESOME Malcolm in The Middle was? Whatever happened to Frankie Muniz? Is he still around? Agent Cody Banks was sort of the shit. Hilary Duff was in that too. She also kind of went away. So did basically then entire cast of Lizzie McGuire. Too bad. They were great. Disney Channel used to be so awesome. Like The Famous Jett Jackson. I’m sad that Lee Thompson Young killed himself. He was also good on Smallville, oh right, I’m watching a Superman movie right now. Bryan Cranston, Lex Luthor, right. 

I have just described what will happen in my brain every time Cranston appears on screen in this movie. That being said, between Cranston and Affleck, Henry Cavill is going to have to up his game considerably to not be blown away by their considerable charisma. He can’t hide behind Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner anymore. And Bruce and Lex are kind of characters that overwhelm Clark anyway, regardless of who’s playing them, so this is going to be a very interesting movie.

Now CSD can be tough to live with, but when you’re a member of “The Brat Pack,” well, it can haunt your life.

You can't come back from this level of douche-baggery

You can’t come back from this level of douche-baggery

James Spader is a fine actor and since Ultron is technically not a person so much as a giant Android, we probably won’t be seeing him much, I kind of think I’ll be OK. But I also won’t be able to escape the fact that there is a bizarre Less Than Zero reunion happening here, because if only Tony Stark can defeat Ultron, which, let’s face it, is the likely outcome here, we may get to see that happen.

They were both super hot in that movie

They were both super hot in that movie. RDJ still is, Spader, not so much.

Anyway, I’m just saying, that’s going to be fun. If Andrew McCarthy wants in on the MCU action though, I think that’ll be a tough sell.