Movie Review: “Godzilla”

Starring
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
Director
Gareth Edwards

How can a movie about giant monsters be so boring? That’s the biggest question surrounding Hollywood’s latest attempt to bring the King of the Monsters stateside. Though not quite as bad as Roland Emmerich’s farcical 1998 version, “Godzilla” is a bewildering piece of blockbuster filmmaking, stuck somewhere between an old-school monster extravaganza and a po-faced thriller that’s almost afraid to have too much fun. Gareth Edwards may have seemed like the perfect director to revive the scaly beast on the big screen – especially for anyone who saw his 2010 indie, “Monsters” – but it’s possible that he was a little too right for the job, because what worked so well in that movie doesn’t have the same effect here. Of course, it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to realize that a Godzilla film should probably have more, you know, Godzilla.

The film opens with a lengthy prologue set in 1999 detailing how a mining company in the Philippines inadvertently awakened something deep underground, prompting the massive creature to leave its hiding spot for Japan, where it leveled a nuclear power plant that killed hundreds, including the wife of American scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston). 15 years later, Joe is still obsessing about what happened that day, convinced that it was more than just an earthquake. After he’s arrested for trespassing in the quarantine zone, his military son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) travels to Tokyo to bail him out of jail.

Joe is adamant that he’s uncovered more evidence that not only confirms his original claim, but proves that it’s about to happen again, and before he can say “I told you so,” a pair of insect-like MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) burst from their cocoons and begin to wreak havoc. The military plans to lure the radiation-fueled MUTOs to a single location (tough luck, San Francisco) using a nuclear missile in the hope that they’ll be destroyed in the blast, but when the long-dormant Godzilla rises from the Pacific Ocean, Japanese scientist Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) believes that nature has already provided them with all the firepower they need to stop the monsters. After all, Godzilla is a nice dude, and he’s more than willing to help.

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Movie Review: “Kick-Ass 2″

Starring
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Morris Chestnut, Donald Faison
Director
Jeff Wadlow

The superhero movie was given the punk-rock treatment in Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass,” an irreverent satire of the genre that scored with critics and audiences alike. But while the film was a mild success commercially, the chances of a sequel seemed pretty unlikely, especially for anyone who read the darker and more sadistic second volume of Mark Millar’s popular comic book series, which is borderline distasteful in its attempts to raise the stakes. Thankfully, director Jeff Wadlow (replacing Vaughn) tones down many of those more questionable moments by mining them for laughs instead of shock value, and it works for the most part, creating a sequel that, although it lacks the provocative originality of its predecessor, maintains the same sense of fun and over-the-top absurdity that made the first “Kick-Ass” such a blast.

Two years have passed since Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl took down mob boss Frank D’Amico, and in that time, hundreds of new superheroes have begun to pop up across the country. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) continues to wage Big Daddy’s war against crime, but when her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) makes her promise to stop playing vigilante and live a normal childhood as Mindy Macready, Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is left without a partner. As Mindy endures a “Mean Girls”-like nightmare at high school, Kick-Ass joins a superhero team called Justice Forever, led by a former mob enforcer turned born-again Christian named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) plots his revenge against Kick-Ass for killing his dad, rebranding himself as the world’s first-ever supervillain, The Motherfucker, and assembling an army of criminals and crazy devotees to wreak havoc on the city, which ultimately forces Mindy out of early retirement.

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