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A grand and worthy addition to Godzilla's longtime legacy.
Godzilla. I will approach this objectively now. This will be a long review since it's a movie I've anticipated so heavily:
Was it worth all of the anticipation and hype? In short, YES. Is it a perfect movie? NO. I'm not going to sit here and sing its praises as if it there's nothing wrong. So let's get what's wrong out of the way first:
The script (while sometimes smart) REALLY bogs the movie down during its middle act. Some cheesy lines (that were fun but clashed with the overall serious tones) here and there, and don't get me started on the military incompetence clichés that run rampant through the middle act. Yes, I will say it now that it would have been nicer to have more Godzilla. I'll get to that later though. The music was a little dodgy and I would have preferred something moodier. The soundtrack aimed to echo the works of Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube, but unfortunately it fails and doesn't elevate the film (except for some moments). Aaron Taylor-Johnson's performance was serviceable at best in my opinion. Some of the incredible talent in the cast is wasted but I can't say much without spoiling. Basically it makes the film feel like it is separated into acts. Overall the biggest drawback here isn't the human characters so much as the script. There's a lot to nitpick about.
As for what's good about it Well, there's much to say here. Bryan Cranston is awesome in the movie. Ken Watanabe was pretty good and probably my favorite character. The cinematography... I'm in love. When I heard they were going to get the same guy who was the DP on The Avengers, I thought this movie would fall into generic visual territory but my goodness was this movie a visual treat. Even the more intimate character moments were enhanced by the camera-work. It's a beautiful marriage of steady wide-shots, POVs, and smart use of hand-held camera-work. The CGI is top-shelf. The monsters move around with a good presence.
There isn't as much Godzilla in this movie as you'd probably expect, and that is the most interesting aspect about this film. There's plenty of screen time for the monsters in general and there is a lot of action, but not so much Godzilla in his full glory. There is a strong human focus. You're introduced to his opponent first, and you see Godzilla when he shows up to set things straight. If this structure doesn't sound familiar to you, then you mustn't have seen many Godzilla movies at all. After seeing the film again, without any bias, I can say that it's much harder for me to relate to the complaints about the title monster not being in the film enough. To me, this slow burn was just a little exaggerated and actually works given how stunning the final climax of the film is. Seriously, probably the greatest monster throw-down I've ever seen. It's a payoff that wouldn't excite audiences as much as it did in both screenings I've attended if it was milked throughout the film (seriously, people were cheering and clapping when Godzilla showed up). When you see Godzilla in this film, he's glorious, and it's because of that slow buildup. Unfortunately now I have a strange assumption that modern audiences get bored too easily. This is what made movies like Jurassic Park and Alien so great.
The bottom line is that they got Godzilla right this time. The movie is a throwback to all the great monster movies of the 70's and 80's, but with some gritty Nolan attitude added in there. Most importantly, this movie was made for the fans, as it feels like a genuine Toho film. Perhaps it caters a bit more to the fans than it should (the script really is poor on multiple levels, bringing to mind B-Movie level cheese and stupid plot points on occasion), but ultimately Godzilla delivers the most exciting spectacle I've seen all year (Halo jump sequence, I'm pointing at you) and I can't be happier with how the film turned out. I'd highly recommend you see it on the biggest screen possible. There's a lot to commend about what Gareth Edwards has pulled off here, despite some shortcomings. 8.5/10
Nolan is back and better than ever.
Let's say you go to a movie theater, and see a movie that you ended up loving. How would you describe it? "Awesome?" "Spectacular?" "Magnificent?" Christopher Nolan's latest effort, Inception, is the first time I honestly don't think such words can do justice. Starting smaller with sleeper hits such as Memento and Insomnia, the British filmmaker worked his way up to bigger budget films such as the critically praised Batman Begins, and its even more acclaimed sequel, The Dark Knight. Seeing that The Dark Knight was the mega-blockbuster Warner Brothers was hoping for, Nolan was given free reign for his next movie. As it turns out, Inception is the man's Holy Grail.
If you are familiar with Christopher Nolan's directing style, it may be no surprise to find out that Inception is a twisted and unpredictable film, albeit, twisted in the right way. The plot centers on Dom Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a skilled master in the art of extraction. Extraction is the stealing of a person's idea straight from within their subconscious. This is done when a person is most vulnerable, during their sleep. Through years of practice and experience of infiltrating dreams, Cobb has reached a high level that has also transformed him into a fugitive. He has been stripped away from his family, but is offered a last job that could bring him back home. His new task is not to steal another idea, but instead to do the opposite. The new job is to implant an idea into a specific person's mind. The heist is underway after he assembles with the team of characters in the movie.
The ensemble cast of the team consists of wonderful performances from Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, and Tom Hardy. I will not explore the plot more than I already have mainly because part of the movie's charm is the mystery surrounding the way the story progresses. Inception's plot is complex, but not impossible to figure out and follow, as Nolan takes notice of certain limits when telling the story. For example, the story mainly linear, as opposed to the reversed storytelling style of Memento. The audience is also introduced to the world of the dream through Ellen Page's character. These aspects of the plot make it accessible to every audience, without thinning out the deeper layers of Nolan's vision.
Every performance was well-handled, with Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as the lead being the strongest. There is a certain level of emotional pull in his character's back-story, one that I will not reveal here. What can be said about the acting in this movie is that it is one of the many assets to this film that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The amount of realism injected into each character makes for a rather interesting conflict as the film picks up its pace. Coupled with the beautiful cinematography and performances, the film's action scenes do not disappoint one bit. In fact, there is a certain sequence in the film's climax that is easily one of the most jaw-dropping action sequences in all of action film history. I have not been so thrilled since I first saw Neo dodge bullets in The Matrix. A master like Christopher Nolan has the awesome ability to blend high-octane action into a complex and layered premise so flawlessly.
On a technical and artistic level, Inception delivers greatly. Every shot in the movie seems so carefully placed, and at times the cinematography, combined with clever use of slow-motion, greatly enhances the experience during the more intense scenes. Composer Hans Zimmer has created an immense score for this movie. The music is really loud, yet fits with the tone being presented in the movie. As if the music leapt right out of a giant monster movie, the booming brass cues and somber piano fillers definitely help amplify every moment, from the slower, more emotional moments to the absolutely epic action scenes. The action that takes place in the dream world was made visually possible thanks to really clever special effects. For a special effects buff like me, this movie was a bit more of a treat. It seems that Nolan tries to go out of his way to use as little computer generated imagery as possible, and restricts it to when it's needed. The film's highlight action moments are almost entirely achieved by practical special effects, and that fact alone makes Inception stand out from the crowd in today's movie generation. As per Nolan tradition, the movie is tightly edited; do expect some awesome hard cuts and seamless transitions between the dream world and real world right before your eyes. The really chaotic editing style gives the entire movie a very surreal feel, almost as if you don't know whether the characters are dreaming or not.
I can sit here for hours and hours, writing about the complexities and curve-ball dialogue scattered within the plot, but I don't want to be a poor sport and ruin the film's genius story for those who haven't seen it yet. Simply put, Inception is a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. With a climax that is sure to become iconic, a deep and moving emotional side, and powerful performances from realistically written characters, Inception has it all. I tip my hat to Christopher Nolan for envisioning such a fresh and engaging story, and his wonderful team for making the perfect movie experience. Yes, I said perfect. Go ahead and call me crazy, but this movie is absolutely flawless. It needs to be seen by everybody on the face of this planet.
James Cameron has done it again.
Avatar, set in the far future, is the story of wounded ex-marine Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington). Sully is handicapped and cannot walk anymore, but is offered a deal that would change his life forever. Space travel is common and a mining mission is employed on an alien planet known as Pandora. The planet is populated by a race of indigenous and environmentalist extraterrestrials known as the Na'vi. Their main village rests upon the richest deposit of the substance that the humans are trying to mine, but the population simply refuses to re-locate. Colonel Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang) introduces Sully to an operation in which he will control an external body called an Avatar, which is his DNA mixed with the DNA of a Na'vi. Sully's Avatar is transported to Pandora in an effort for him to befriend the Na'vi, gain their trust, and eventually find a desire that could get the aliens to relocate. While learning the Na'vi culture and language, he bonds and falls in love with Neytiri, the daughter of the Na'vi king and queen. Sully switches sides and eventually joins the aliens in a fight to save the stunning beauty of Pandora.
One word may have popped into your mind after you read my plot summary: Pocahontas. Yes, Avatar does draw many parallels to the Pocahontas legend, and simultaneously embeds strong environmentalist messages into the story as well. The story was not the most original ever created, and it is not meant to be. The simplistic story adds to the epic tone of the film that slowly creeps its way in as the climax builds up to its finale. It is true that the plot is something we have all heard about, but never has it been presented in this manner. By the end of the film, the satisfaction one garners after the grand finale exceeds that of every Lord of the Rings film. This is classic storytelling, in James Cameron's simple yet powerful directing style. Although Avatar may seem like the average action flick of today, many of Cameron's old-time trademarks are clearly evident. There are plenty of rolling feet shots, notorious one-liners from villainous characters (like those found in Aliens, True Lies, and Terminator 2) and the action flows very nicely in true Cameron style. The writing was also very nostalgic. Cameron does not rely on complex, mind-wrenching dialogue to tell his story. The romance was well written, and character development is clearly evident as Jake Sully undergoes his transitional phase on Pandora. Some people criticize this Avatar's dialogue for coming out as a bit clichéd and "corny." I honestly would not have enjoyed the film if the dialogue tried to hard to be revolutionary. An epic adventure like this just needs powerful acting behind the lines to work, and in that area, Avatar delivers. Sam Worthington is great and this film is yet another great example of how the Australian actor is quickly becoming one of the best and prolific actors of this generation. Zoe Saldana brought the bold, strong, and fearless character of Neytiri to life. She served as a great love interest character and her Na'vi background helped enhance how valuable of a character she is. Sigourney Weaver's performance as Grace Augustine, a botanist who specializes on Pandoran plant life, is also great as one can expect from her. The villainous Colonel Quaritch was also a fantastic character thanks to Stephen Lang's absolutely powerful performances. Cameron implemented a wonderful and fearless villain into the film and every character (including the wildlife of Pandora) stood out on it's own.
I cannot find words to describe the visual impact of this film. Breathtaking, phenomenal, and amazing are all understatements. The amount of painstaking effort put into realizing the world of Pandora really paid off. The entire alien planet, including the Na'vi characters, is computer-generated, yet many shots would make the viewer wonder where they shot the film on location. New and extensive performance capture techniques were created for this film. Cameron improved upon previous motion capture methods that were used for characters such as Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) and Davy Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean) in order to make his computer-generated characters more life-like. The Na'vis convey real emotions down to the very small muscles on their faces. The attention to detail was so carefully handled that you do not worry about things being over-the-top. You simply believe that the setting is there and the characters are undergoing a huge conflict within it. The design involved in the film was astounding and a lot of caring dedication was put into the character designs. A full phonetic language was designed from the ground up for the Na'vi civilization, in addition to a full background lore and mythology for the population. The animals look like ordinary animals at first glance, but when you see them up close with repeated viewings, you realize how alien they are. The predatory creatures that dwell in the forests of Pandora look absolutely menacing, and the dragon-like Ikrans serve a great purpose in the entire movie. James Cameron, along with other top-notch artists like Neville Page (of Cloverfield and Star Trek fame) and others from WETA Digital created a new world full of wildlife, plants, geographical locations, and a humanoid population. Pandora is simply a living and breathing world that is truly a sight to see in which the 3D effect greatly enhances.
Avatar is a film experience that will be remembered for years to come. James Cameron has succeeded once again in creating a wonderfully entertaining film with the perfect balance between love, action, and mild comedy. In addition to this, the director has taken another step in upgrading the way we watch films in the future.
Lady in the Water (2006)
A very great movie.
I have read many comments here about this movie, and I had doubts about going to see this movie. But when I went to see this movie, I thought it was great! Many people do not realize what M. Night does in his movies. This is definitely an M. Night film. From the creatures to the story, this movie was very original and it flowed well from beginning to end. This movie contained many twists. It made me gasp! Overall its a great mythical story.
This movie had many different moments. From very emotional moments to very frightening moments. The portrayal of the story was very well thought out. The acting in this movie was superb enough for people to enjoy.
You must watch this movie NOT as a supernatural thriller or a horror movie, but as a mythical tale with deep meaning into it. This movie is VERY DIFFERENT compared to all of M. Night's movies.
However, In technical terms, this movie had its flaws. The camera angles appeared a bit shaky in the near beginning of the movie, but improved near the end. The special effects surprisingly improved from his previous movies. The creatures looked well and the CGI was good. James Newton Howard really captured the moments with his moody and calm score.
Overall, Lady in the Water is an enjoyable movie. Despite very small flaws, it is very well crafted and thought out. M. Night Shyamalan has once again succeeded.
The one that started it all!
I am a BIG Godzilla fan, and I would have to say, This is THE godzilla! If there is a real godzilla movie, Its not the American one, not destroy all monsters, but THIS one! This, is the legend that started it all, no doubt, this is the best monster movie ever! In its time, the special effects were SPECTACULAR. Looking back at this film, I still think Godzilla is gigantic. This movie was great, both Japanese and American versions. Raymond Burr's casting was a great idea. The way his tail thrashes around the city, the way he breathes his atomic breath, The way he bellows into the air, the people screaming as he looked down on them, is what defines a monster movie! This was the most spectacular of the Godzilla Deaths in History. The way he parts up the surface of the ocean, giving his last roar, is just enthralling!
If you have't seen this movie, YOU MUST DO SO! This is a true monster movie!