New movies on their way to theaters 2014

I just saw Godzilla, and it was pretty damn fabulous! Really enjoyed Aaron Taylor-Johnson, star of Kickass and Kickass2, along with Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad! I have to admit seeing a Gozilla movie of today as compared to to the ones in the old days…..Yes, I’m old enough to remember those old Godzirra movies; I honestly do not remember story lines. It was nice to associate a theme and storyline with a legendary character. Here are a few trailer links for upcoming movies. This time, I LOVED all the pre-movie trailers. Here are the links for those including, The Giver, Interstellar, Transformers; Age of Extinction, How to Train your Dragon 2, Deliver us from Evil and Lucy. Enjoy.

The Giver: In Theatres August 15th, 2014

Interstellar:  In Theatres November 7th, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction: In Theatres June 27th, 2014

How to Train your Dragon 2: In Theatres June 13th, 2014

Deliver us from Evil: In Theatres July 2nd,2014

Lucy:  In Theatres August 8th, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Delivers the Goods

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X-Men Days of Future Past is the latest outing of the extremely popular Marvel Comics Franchise. This film is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men 2, The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns). Screenplay is by Simon Kenberg ( X-Men: The Last Stand, Sherlock Holmes). Music is by John Ottman (X-Men 2, The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns). It stars Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Sir Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier), Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) and a small army of other oscar nominated actors to round out the cast.

DOFP is loosely based on the classic Chris Claremont story that appeared in the X-Men line of comics in 1981. Bryan Singer does an admirable job of taking the basic concept of the original and using it to complete reboot the franchise and brings back characters that had been previously killed off. It references important plot points that were used for earlier films but occur in the future for our heroes and lays the groundwork for the next chapter.

The story centers around the efforts of the X-Men of the future (Charles Xavier, Magneto, Storm, Blink, Havok, Bishop, Iceman, Colossus and others ) to be able to give Kitty Pryde enough time to send Wolverine’s mind back in the past to his younger self so that he can enlist the help of the X-men of that era (Charles Xavier, Magneto, Beast and Quicksilver) to prevent the assassination of Dr. Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage) by Mystique. This assassination will spur the US Government to complete the Sentinel program. The Sentinels are robots that are able to identify and capture mutants. Eventually the Sentinels evolve to the point that they identify anyone that possesses the mutant gene regardless of whether the gene is active or not and either kill the mutants or incarcerate them in prison camps. This results in a dystopian future (is there any other kind?) where both homo sapien and homo superior are in danger of extinction. Got it? I know it sounds confusing but trust me when I tell you that the writers have done an excellent job of making the plot easy to follow.

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Bryan Singer does an excellent job of moving the troops to where they need to be in this massive effort. This cast is so large that I am amazed they were able to get so many Oscar nominated actors in roles that literally only lasted a few seconds in some cases.

The sequence that showcases Quicksilver helping Magneto to escape from his prison is very entertaining and clever. The final battle of the film is a CGI tour de force and the manner in which Magneto neutralizes Wolverine is a great homage to a similar scene in the comics. (Let’s just say that rebar is not Wolverine’s favorite thing.) 

The film has a great ending that virtually leaves it open to use any of the X-Men that we have been missing over the last few films. 

There is a tag ending at the very end of the credits that teases the next film in the series. (Hint: if you don’t know who Apocalypse is, then start reading!) 

This is a wonderful film and is lots of fun. The Script is very well done and the lead actors are as convincing as you would expect them to be.

 

John Ottman’s film score is a disappointment in an otherwise stellar film. It is not memorable or effective. Comic purists may get hung up over the hedging on Kitty Pryde’s powers (she has no time travel ability in the comics). They may also be annoyed that Quicksilver is sent home after breaking Magneto out of prison when he could clearly be very useful.

 

Other than those small quibbles, I must say that X-Men: Days of Future Past is well worth your time.

 

I give this film an A.

 

 

Godzilla Almost Gets It Right

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Godzilla is a reboot of perhaps the most famous monster film series of the 1950’s and 60’s. It is directed by Gareth Edwards (best known for the 2010 film Monsters), with a screenplay by Max Borenstein (Swordswallowers and Thin men) and stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson as Ford Brody, Ken Watanabe as Dr Ishiro Serizawa, Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody, Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody, Carson Bolde as Sam Brody and Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody.

 

There is a lot to like about this film. The design of Godzilla is spot on. The scale and feeling of power is conveyed very well on screen. When he unleashes his fire on his opponent towards the end of the film, the 7 year old inside me wanted to jump out of my seat.

 

Godzilla’s foes are called M.U.T.A.’s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) and are giant insect like creatures that crave radiation to grow. They literally chomp down on nuclear weapons like candy. One of the driving plot devices of the film is that there are two of these creatures that are seeking each other out so that they might breed. One of my nitpicks is despite this established plot point , the female is already carrying a egg sack with hundreds of potential little monsters.

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The human heroes of the film are Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and the various members of the Brody clan. If you are expecting Bryan Cranston’s character to be the main focus of the film then you have placed too much faith in movie trailers. He is the patriarch of the Brody clan (a tribute to the ever present Brody family of Jaws fame) and has the first encounter with the devastation these monsters can inflict. He provides exposition before he is shuffled off this mortal coil and his son, Ford, does his best to get back to his family who are in the direct path of the monsters. This is classic set up material for your classic movie hero who ultimately saves the day, etc. The unusual thing about Godzilla is that Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s character has got to be the most ineffective hero in movie history. He spends almost the entire film as a powerless observer. He manages to take care of the problem that hundreds of eggs hatching might create, but completely fails at the one thing the movie has been building about his skills (ordinance specialist).

 

His wife, Elle, as played by Elizabeth Olsen has got to be the poorest decision maker on the planet. At every turn, her decisions place her husband, son or herself directly in the path of these creatures.

 

Despite all these failings I still enjoyed Godzilla. The fight scenes are fun to watch (even though you might get tired of seeing them in slo mo every time). The Godzilla roar is absolutely bone rattling when heard in an IMAX theatre with their sound system. The sound track by Alexandre Desplat is one of the most outstanding things about the entire film. Great use of Japanese tribal drums, hints of the original Godzilla theme and incredible attention to the creation of atmosphere and pacing. The look of the film is outstanding and if you don’t pay too much attention to the dialogue, then you can have a good time.

 

I hope the film does well enough to justify a sequel with a better writer at the helm.

 

I give Godzilla a C.

 

http://godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/File:Godzilla_Movie_CLIP_MUTO_(2014)_HD

The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a film with a split personality

imagesThe Amazing Spider-man 2 is the second of Marc Webb’s planned trilogy starring Andrew Garfield as the title character, Emma Stone (Garfield’s real life girlfriend) as Gwen Stacy, Jaimie Fox as Max Dillon (Electro) and Dane DeHann as Harry Osborn (The Green Goblin). Paul Giamatti appears in a bookend sequence at the beginning and end of the film as Alexsei Sytsevich (The Rhino) and Sally Field returns as Peter’s Aunt May.
Watching this film I couldn’t help but wonder if directing duties were actually divided up for the different threads of the film, because I definitely felt like there were two different visions on the screen. One vision of the film has spectacular action sequences that bring to life the way I had always imagined Spider-man swinging through New York, and how he battled his deadly foes. It also does a great job of the smart aleck chatter that Spidey is known for in his battles as well as showing the inner turmoil and nobility of Peter Parker. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is readily apparent and it helps sell the sweetness and depth of the love between Peter and Gwen. Sally Field does a wonderful job at giving depth to what would be easy to play as a one-note character in Aunt May. Her conflict in trying to take care of herself and Peter at her age is almost palpable. The additional strain of trying to hide her feelings about Peter’s father is also very well done.
The other vision of the film does a disservice to the origins and motivations of the many foes of Spider-man and spends time on sub-plots that don’t really have a pay off. The 2 sequences that feature Paul Giamatti are totally unnecessary as depicted in the film. They serve as bookends to the film to showcase Spidey when he’s on top and when he’s ready to take up the good fight once more, regardless of his personal pain. I’m all for the concept of these two bookends but Giamatti’s character is so one-dimensional that it is laughable. To add insult to injury, when Giamatti appears as The Rhino at the end of the film, the decision was made to forego the Rhino as depicted in the comics but rather to create a ridiculous mechanized battle armor/tank outfit that makes no sense logically and further depict the character as a cartoon villain that yells threats.
The writers of the film did a great job of bringing the character and concept of Electro to life. However, the depiction of Max Dillon is very reminiscent of Otis from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and does absolutely nothing to create any feelings with the audience other than as a children’s cartoon cliché. The plot devices used to create Max Dillon’s motivations and that are used to put him in the situation that creates Electro are poorly thought out and executed.
imagesThe decision to make Harry Osborn the Green Goblin at this juncture of Peter’s saga was a complete misfire. I have always felt that the Father/son dynamic that developed and eventually went awry between Norman/Harry and Peter was always one of the strongest elements of the original source material. The Green Goblin has always been the arch nemesis of Spider-man. His manipulations were directly responsible for the uncovering of Spider-man’s identity and the death of Peter’s first love. The tension and build of these relationships could and should have been the focus of the whole movie. Instead it is a wasted opportunity.  Harry suddenly and conveniently develops a fatal disease that drives him to desperate means to seek a cure. Instead of building up the tensions in the relationships between Peter, Gwen and Harry till it reaches the breaking point, Gwen becomes just a damsel in distress that Spider-man valiantly tries to save. While I appreciate the detail and construction of the sequence that leads to Gwen’s fate, I must state that such an important event in the life of Spider-man should have spent more time on playing up the evil that was at fault. Instead too much time is spent on a sub plot about the work of Peter’s parents  that actually does nothing more than serve as a McGuffin to provide a pseudo-scientific reason for Harry’s actions.
Ultimately, I feel that The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a good film but not a great film. Its strengths lie in the action sequences and the chemistry between Garfield and Stone. Its weaknesses are the inconsistent development of the villains that results in a cartoonish portrayal that detracts from the maturity of the rest of the film. Rating: B ~RDavis

X-Men days of future past: Final Trailer

In Theatres May 23rd!