Movie Review: “I Saw the Light”

Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, Maddie Hasson
Marc Abraham

It was only last week that Stephen Frears’ formulaic biopic, “The Program,” arrived in theaters, and hot on the heels of that film, writer-director Marc Abraham delivers a similarly distant and uninvolving biographical drama, this time about troubled country musician Hank Williams. Once again, despite a compelling performance leading the way, “I Saw the Light” is yet another biopic that doesn’t dig deep enough into its subject.

Narratively, “I Saw the Light” is a collection of greatest hits that covers Williams’ (Tom Hiddleston) short and tragic life. Much of Abraham’s script focuses on the singer and songwriter’s testy relationship with his first wife, Audrey Mae Williams (Elizabeth Olsen). Audrey Mae isn’t exactly in the same league as her husband musically, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to sing along with him. She’s also not the healthiest of influences in Hank’s life, which involves plenty of alcoholism and infidelity.

For the first half of “I Saw the Light,” Hank’s marriage makes for a relatively focused glimpse into the singer’s life, but the film soon turns into the rise-and-fall biopic we’re far too accustomed to. Abraham only seems to graze the surface of Williams’ story, which is rarely as emotional as it sounds.

Watching the young Hank Williams waste away his life, family and talent should be dramatic. However, because the movie is just going through the motions, much of the drama comes across as routine. The third act, especially, could’ve been potentially excruciating, but instead, Williams’ death just sort of happens.

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Movie Review: “Godzilla”

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
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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