Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Olsen’

Godzilla: Godawful—Movie

May 22, 2014

Sometimes there are no words to describe how bad something is. That isn’t the case with “Godzilla.” Disappointing…boring…repetitive…dumb…those are just a few words that come to mind. How did this film screw things up so horribly?

Godzilla-2014-Teaser-Trailer-Poster

Directed by Gareth Edwards, with screenplay by Max Borenstein and story by Dave Callaham, “Godzilla” is a new take on earlier 1950s versions. In their own way, the original 1954 Japanese film and 1956 Japanese-America production,“Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” are classics and deservedly so. Such is not the case with the 2014 “Godzilla.”

The movie begins promisingly enough as scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins) land in the Philippines in 1999 to consult on irregularities happening in a mine. From the Philippines we move to Japan and the home of husband and wife scientists, Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche) and their young son, Ford. Joe and Sandra work for the same mining company, with Joe’s position more cerebral in nature. He spots something on a screen and then…The film jumps ahead 15 years and “something” is happening in Japan…. Serizawa and Graham are still in business and are now investigating what has happened there. This is when we get to hear the respected Watanabe say the immortal line, “We call him Godzilla.” Da da dum. We, the scientists and the various militia make our way to Hawaii (it doesn’t stand a chance), Las Vegas and San Francisco…trying to track the giant lizard and other entities and save the world.

I wasn’t expecting a work of art, but I was expecting to be entertained. The trailers seemed interesting and the cast…what a cast. “Godzilla” boasts a terrific cast of actors…not all of them household names, but all of them solid actors with many awards to their names (in addition to those mentioned the film includes Elizabeth Olsen,David Strathairn and Aaron Taylor-Johnson). What happened? I’m not sure that it would have mattered, but some actors don’t make it beyond the first half hour. The remaining actors have some absolutely horrific dialogue to orate. Perhaps this is the reason for these high quality actors…lesser actors would have required many more takes to say the lines without cracking up and would have cost the production more money in the end. In that regard Ken Watanabe must be singled out for trying to save “Godzilla” single-handedly.

Bad dialogue aside, there is something very odd about this “Godzilla.” It seems very old-school. Perhaps it’s the 50s horror-type music. Maybe it’s the over-use of the military in an old-fashioned manner. Or it could be that so much of the movie has a black and white feel to it. The music, militia and color are not necessarily bad. The bigger crime is that these elements are not used imaginatively.

I can’t imagine spending the extra money to see “Godzilla” in IMAX or 3-D. Instead the filmmakers should be paying us to see this mess. “Godzilla” and its fans deserved better.

½ nugget out of 4

Oldboy: Not Enough Smarts—Movie

December 11, 2013

Who knew Josh Brolin had such skills with a hammer? That was one of the thoughts I busied myself with in order not to think about the blood, guts and vomit gushing out at me from the movie screen. Spike Lee’s newest movie, “Oldboy” is not his worst movie, but it certainly is not one of his best. In reality, my lack of enthusiasm doesn’t have anything to do with the violence…it’s the lack of intellect that I normally associate with a Spike Lee movie that disappoints me.Oldboy_2013_film_poster

With screenplay by Mark Protosevich, “Oldboy” is based on the 2003 South Korean film, “Oldboy,” directed by Park Chan-wook. That film is actually based on the Japanese manga (comic) of the same name by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi. Suffice to say, the new film brings with it a cherished history.

Oldboy begins in 1993 in an unnamed city, but one looking very much like a dirtified New York. Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is an advertising executive on the skids. He disrespects clients, is a neglectful father, is on the warpath with his ex-wife and his alcoholism is completely out of control. Finally, in October, after an especially horrific night of drinking and debauchery, he gets picked up by the wrong person. He wakes up the next morning to discover that he is imprisoned in a hotel-like room where he will remain for the next 20 years. But why has this happened? Doucett has no idea. Daily he’s fed a diet of rice, Chinese dumplings and a bottle of vodka. Alone with just a television and remote control for company, he unsuccessfully  attempts suicide. It’s only when he spots a news report announcing the murder of his wife with him as the prime suspect in her death, that he stops drinking and begins a strenuous workout regimen, waiting for his opportunity to escape, find his daughter and exact his revenge on whoever did this to him.

Josh Brolin is actually very good as Doucett. He makes his early scenes extremely painful to watch and in the confines of his solitude, somehow wins your sympathy. And for a big man, he’s more graceful than one might expect in the fight scenes in which he uses all parts of his body. Samuel L. Jackson provides an entertainingly sadistic turn as one of the men watching Doucett from afar. Elizabeth Olsen gives a quietly powerful performance as someone who befriends Doucett as does Michael Imperioli as Doucett’s longtime friend. Less successful is Sharlto Copley‘s portrayal of the mysteriously sinister man in the shadows.

Because this film takes it lead from the South Korean film, the fight scenes are more balletic in nature, using a variety of weapons to execute bodily harm. What is odd is that gangs—almost “West Side Story” in nature—seem to pop up from out of nowhere and police are nowhere to be found. But the final third of the film is what really hurts “Oldboy.” Somehow the payoff just doesn’t ring true…not for the elaborate imprisonment of someone for 20 years.

I hope the next Spike Lee film feels truer to his heart. What he has done, however, is make me want to see the original film and found out what so intrigued him.

2 nuggets out of 4


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